Yipsugar takes unconventional approach to new album

Colourize aims to hypnotize and guide viewers on visual journey

Yipsugar's Colourize visual album.
Credit: 
Frame from Colourize

Taking an unusual approach to making music and pursuing an artistic career, Yipsugar has always promised themselves they would avoid public concerts and social media promotion.  

The group, made up of Christian Maria Brun del Re on piano, synth, and drums; Bashu Naimi-Roy on accordion, synth, and drum programming; and Gareth Dicker on vocals, and guitar, formed when they were just “three sad boys in a room with big romantic schisms,” Brun del Re said in an email to The Journal. All three were in post-breakup funks and needed a creative outlet.

When it came to finding a band name, they turned to their nicknames to see if they could mix and match them to come up with something clever. Their nicknames, Yip, Bashu, and Gar, came together to make Yipsugar.

Brun del Re says the sound of their group name leaves him with a permanent visual of someone shrugging at all things gratifying. ‘Yip’ is the shrug, and ‘sugar’ represents gratification. If this isn’t what you got from the name though, not to worry: it’s abstract, and the group is certainly open to creative visual interpretations of their work. 

Take, for instance, their latest project, Colourize, a visual album they recommend viewing “at night, in the dark, or inside your sleeping bag.” The album shows changing and flickering pictures. One shows a painting of a tree. The painting is a watercolour by Claudio Brun del Re, Brun del Re’s father, and is simple in its composure. Overlaid over the painting is a sparkling, flittering grid pattern that changes shapes and moves around the screen.

It keeps tempo with the music that plays in the background. Changing with it is the painting’s colour scheme, though this is almost unnoticeable. The album’s hypnotic effect makes these changes indecipherable until you go back through and re-watch it.

The group started out in February of 2017. They performed for the second—and last—time two months later in April at the Yellow Door Coffee House in Montreal, which was, coincidentally, the place where they all met.

One song on the album, ‘up yr lv,’ was made by all three members of Yipsugar. Brun del Re says that the first time they picked up their instruments, they made this song. 

“I brought in the Wurlitzer [piano] part almost as it appears on the album, sat down, played it. Gareth and Bashu laid all the bricks, completing the piece in real-time,” Brun del Rewrote.

“It was a rare moment of creative synchronicity where the whole thing is conceived in one burst without talking. […] We couldn’t have asked for a better blueprint to start a project.”

Between February and April 2017, the group composed and recorded all of the songs heard on Colourize. The mixing took up their summer in 2017, and then their next summer in 2018 when they re-mixed it all.

Between these two takes on Colourize, Christian Brun del Re began electroacoustic studies at Concordia University. That’s where he learned more about the craft, which gave him the skills he needed to mix Colourize.

The artist explained that the process of mixing Colourize was, in itself, a “self-imposed school on [his] part." 

When conceiving the idea for the album, the group didn’t plan on it being a visual project. They had decided to avoid all things outside producing their album. That meant no shows, no social media, and no lugging around their instruments from gig to gig.

“Just friends and music.”

That was the original plan, but they ended up playing a show anyway. Then, the idea for a visual album emerged.

“I wanted something with the effect of the fireplace channel, a little visual agent that can help curate a more immersive experience.”

He says that, years ago, he was a purist in his thinking about music. He believed that music should be enough as a stand-alone medium, but in recent years, he’s adjusted his thinking.

“I’ve since opened up about this, especially after finding out that the visual cortex takes about 30 per cent of the brain versus the auditory with a miserable three per cent.”

For those who don’t want to watch, he says the music is strong enough to stand alone. That said, he encourages listeners to give the video a chance and let it take them outside of their own minds.

 

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