Acoostic Sessions: Live musical performances done in and around Montreal. Season three is presented in conjunction with Seratone Studio.
It’s the name that first grabs you. To a person, everyone we told that we were working with this pop/vacationcore four-piece had the same reaction: “Elephants Gerald!? I love that name.” Luckily, the reasons to be impressed don’t end with a clever moniker. These guys seriously know how to play.
Comprising of Laura Gallivan (vocals), Scott Cuzner (drums/vocals), Ian Malcom (keyboards), and Michael Sinclaire (bass), Elephants Gerald found each other in Fredericton, New Brunswick, but are in fact from all over Eastern Canada. As they say themselves, a mix of chance and intention saw them all relocate to Montreal, the band’s new home.
They played one of their newest tracks, “Achilles Feel,” for us before sitting down to talk music, MTL, and some Greek mythology. Welcome to season three of Acoostic Sessions. We couldn’t hope for an act whose sound suited the loungy, chill vibes of our newest partner Seratone Studio than these studs.
Firstly, can we talk about the name? Because the reaction when we were initially telling people we’d be working with Elephants Gerald for Acoostic Sessions was invariably, “Elephants Gerald!? Wow, what a great name.” Where did it come from?
Michael Sinclaire: We were having a brainstorming session back in Laura’s old apartment in Fredericton. We were all seated in different variations, in chairs, I was on the floor with my feet up kinda in the air…
Laura Gallivan: Just saying a bunch of nonsense…
MS: Just saying a bunch of nonsense, as you do at a certain time of night. One of them was “Billy Hollandaise.” I swear to God it was. But “Elephants Gerald” came out and it was like, “Alright, let’s do that.”
Scott Cuzner: I heard that you said, “I’VE GOT IT!”
MS: “EUREKA!” Plus, I’m a big fan of Ella Fitzgerald myself.
LS: Yeah, we were listening to a lot of Ella at that point.
It’s not just a great name, you also have a really cool lounge/jazz sound that we think matched the Seratone Studio setting well. Have you always known that this was the sound you liked and wanted to play? Or did you figure out that you were good at it and just went from there?
LS: I think it was something we figured out as we went, a bit. But I feel like Scott came into this with some ideas based around city pop that were a big influence.
SC: Yeah. I think Ian and I were listening to city pop – which is essentially Japanese-influenced pop – around the same time. Either he introduced it to me, or I introduced it to him, I don’t know how we came about it. But we were listening to some of that early-80s, highly-glossy, heavily-arranged kinda stuff.
Ian Malcom: In terms of the sound we have, I think we all come from a pretty nerdy musical background. Mike and I were both school band nerdos and weirdos. We enjoyed big band, bebop, all of that. We did our jazz homework as youngsters. Laura does the classical voice really well and Scotty can play orchestra stuff as well. So I think our sound came from all of us trying to put our abilities to best use…
Right, you’re all naturally talented, it was just putting those talents together to make something…
IM: (Laughs) Well, we’re all good at a very limited range of things and when you put all of those things together…
MS: Smash ’em up…
IM: You get us!
None of you are from Montreal (Scott is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Laura from Woodstock, New Brunswick, and Michael and Ian from Fredericton, New Brunswick). Is it a happy accident that you all ended up in MTL?
IM: By sheer luck we were all in Fredericton and were getting together and playing some shows there and ended up, by a mix of chance and intention, all moving to Montreal at the same time. Why not continue the band? It wasn’t really a question of whether we would replace somebody else or shuffle it around a bit.
So you all came to Montreal with the intention of keeping Elephant’s Gerald together?
MS: Oh yeah. Initially it was Ian and Laura and I who moved here, Scott was a year late.
SC: I missed the bus.
LS: He missed the one bus to Montreal (laughs). But we moved here not knowing but obviously being open to that idea, but when Scott came it was like, “Yes!”
MS: “Scott’s coming. That’s what we’re gonna do again.”
IM: “We get to keep playing music.”
Why did you all uproot to Montreal?
LS: Various reasons. School. Getting a change….
IM: Yeah, being from a small place is small. Laura had grad school, which is the realest reason, as was the prospect of jobs that weren’t one job. And Scotty gets to play in a million different bands because we’re in a musically rich and fancy city.
MS: I personally find there are more opportunities here that I couldn’t find back home. Not that there aren’t opportunities back home…
LS: No, Fredericton is great. But there is more to choose from here.
So Montreal is Elephants Gerald’s base for the foreseeable future?
What keeps you here?
LS: These are deep questions (laughs).
SC: Next question (laughs).
IM: Forgiving bus schedule.
LS: I don’t have enough money to go anywhere else.
MS: For me, opportunity. I’m in a happy little place.
LS: And also having a good network of friends is a really solid reason to stay.
MS: I guess a very obvious answer is that all our friends live here. Like, in a six-block radius.
LS: And at this point in life, your friends are also your family.
SC: I miss some people from home, though, too.
MS: Oh yeah, for sure.
Just in case all the Fredericton people think you forgot about them…
LS: I miss lots of folks from home
You recently dropped two new tracks on your bandcamp. What’s next for Elephants Gerald? Is that going towards another EP?
SC: Essentially, in order to get some gigs, we wanted to not have some of the recordings we’ve had for the last two years. We made something in 2015 basically for free (the EP “Slice”) with Matt Whipple, shoutout. He was really great. And we just recorded with Aidan O’Reilly to essentially shop some stuff around to different venues and send out to festivals and whatnot. We wanted something with some of the new material we’ve been working with in Montreal since we all moved here.
IM: Eventually we are working toward an EP. We’re going to be doing some recording a bit later, so this is a taste of that. We’re playing with the studio stuff a bit more and getting a bit of a richer, fuller sound than we were able to get just recording on our own.
MS: Yeah, this was a great practice we did at Seratone for studio time.
And the track Achilles Feel. What’s the story behind that?
SC: It’s just about meeting someone and kinda enjoying their company but not blowing your bubble too soon. You know, the whole thing of you’re supposed to wait a few days before you call them or get in touch with them or anything. And just not showing them that you’re into them too quick. That’s the idea. Hence Achilles, which I don’t know the story of but I’m sure there’s some sort of tie between the two.
IM: He got shot in the heel.
MS: Achilles heel.
LS: That’s his big weakness.
SC: That’s right, the big weakness is that he likes (laughs)…
LS: He like arrows, and he doesn’t want tell that to anyone (laughs)…
SC: He doesn’t want to tell anyone that he’s got weak heels… It was his mother that was dipping him in the water?
IM: She was holding him by the heel.
SC: And then she remembered, “I gotta go do something…”
MS: “I gotta go flip the laundry”
SC: I gotta go flip the laundry! (Laughs)
MS: Scott’s heart is the heel of his chest.
Check out past seasons of Acoostic Sessions here.
Words – Zac Strevens
Cameras – Samuel Schioler & Zac Strevens
Editing – Zac Strevens
Audio – Simon Petraki
Direction – Zac Strevens