Kim Gray tries to find a way to be authentic in the amazing and scary internet age

Table for two

Culture Vancouver
Words Trevor Kim Gray & Hey Vito
Photographs Kaja Jean, lucien Xavier and Bara Hladikova

Dream pop troubadour Trevor Kim Gray and his band released their third album this April. Plastic Memory is an ode to the oddities of living in an increasingly socially complex world. We caught up with him to chat about what went into this new collection of songs.

Toronto has quite a reputation for its thriving indie music scene. How does Vancouver compare?

It feels like Toronto is where it's all happening in Canada. But Vancouver is starting to make a bit of a name for itself. It's a pretty tight knit music community here and that’s a good thing. On the East Coast, you're closer to cities like New York and you can go to the US and play a lot more shows. Where as in Vancouver there’s so much more distance to go. It’s a challenge.

The last record, Compulsion, you released through Bad Diet Records in the US. Zach Stephen, the founder of that label, passed away recently. That must have been a shock to you?

Yes, absolutely. Getting that news was strange because I was just talking to Zach maybe a week or so before. I spoke with him on the phone constantly, working on getting the record put together. I had a strong connection with the guy and it's just such a strange thing. I feel like he probably supported me more than anyone in terms of my music. So yeah, it sucked to hear that.

Your new album Plastic Memory is your third as a solo artist?

Yeah. It's slowly becoming more of a band though. There’s four of us who play in this band. It's moved away from the 1st record where I played most of the instruments. It’s a band now, a band with my name.

Plastic Memory is released through Buzz Records. Are you stoked about that?

Yeah, signing with Buzz records is a new thing and it's been great working with them. This record kind of came out of nowhere. We had a couple of songs and were just going to put out an EP. Then we kind of just kept going. I think it's my restlessness, my anxiety or something; I just can't sit still. I think it came together well and I'm really happy with all the songs. I'm proud of this record. I'm excited for people to hear the songs finally.

I wrote some songs that were meaningful to me. I hope they connect with other people who’re dealing with what life is like in the internet age. trevor kim gray
Is there a story behind the name of the album?

I wrote these songs in a very short period of time. I was working as a research assistant interviewing homeless people in British Columbia. Also thinking a lot about what was important to me. I've been making music for a while now and I'm getting older. You see people who have been playing music for a while and everyone is chasing that dream and trying to make it. Making this record was really just acknowledging the ridiculousness of trying to put on this facade or trying to do something that didn't really feel true to me. I wrote some songs that were meaningful to me. I hope they connect with other people who are dealing with what life is like in the internet age.

What are some of the lyrical themes you’ve explored on this album?

Vancouver is a very expensive city to live in. It's a bit of a grind. Everyone who's making music in Vancouver, I feel like they’re doing it because they love doing it. Otherwise it's not a very feasible to do. So living on credit, like credit cards, plastic in that sense. Also just trying to be authentic in a world that seems really fake at times. It’s just kind of playing off that.

Social media is a pretty weird thing. You have to be pretty conscious and conscientious to maintain authenticity.

There's a song on the record called Hand in Glove and it's kind of about that. The internet can be a perfect example of how twisted people are. And in some ways, it can be a beautiful thing, it's amazing and scary.

Musically is there a new feel to Plastic Memory?

I think it's a lot different from the past records. The overall feel is darker and we've polished our sound a little. This is the first record that we recorded digitally. Always in the past we’ve recorded on quarter inch tape. It was nice this time to have that freedom to do what felt right and we spent a lot of time just messing around with different sounds. We recorded with Jay Arner who does great stuff here in Vancouver.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

The record is out in April and we have a couple things going on in BC. Then for the month of July, we’ll be touring the States. We’ll be playing shows in California and Oregon, Washington and Nevada. We just signed on with a European booking agency too. So probably at some point we’ll head over for a short tour in Europe.

What other Canadian bands should we check out?

I don't know if you're familiar with Dead Ghost. But another great band in Vancouver now which has members of Dead Ghosts, Mode Modern and Indian Wars is a group called Dream Cars. They just signed with Burger Records. Also bands Milk and Dumb •