If you have been following Sam Willows, aka Avenue, as closely as we have then his glossy disco-rock should be anything but foreign by now. With his Keep Counting EP on the way via Dine Alone Records and a North American Tour around the corner, we were able to catch up with the Toronto-native as he gears up for a big 2016.
Since your debut, you’ve amassed an impressive list of remixes. What made you want to make the transition into writing completely original stuff?
I’ve been writing original music for as long as I can remember. The reason I hadn’t released anything other than remixes up until now was because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted my sound to be. I threw out a few full EPs before I was satisfied with the one I have now.
Do you think the time spent dedicated to remixing high-profile artists like Penguin Prison and Miami Horror had an influence on the direction your sound took, or did you always have an idea of what Avenue would be?
Absolutely. I mean, I was always a fan of those artists so I think whether or not I remixed them, my sound would have been influenced, but getting to work with the stems and seeing how some of my favorite songs were crafted was really helpful from a production perspective.
How did the collaboration with Tokyo Police Club come about and what was is like to have such a highly revered artist on your debut?
I had a few instrumentals I was working on early last year. We were looking for a vocalist, and being a fan of Tokyo Police Club we reached out, and Dave was happy to collaborate. We sent some versions back and forth via email, but eventually ended up just getting in a studio together and working the whole thing out. Dave is a fantastic songwriter so it was really great experience getting to work with him.
Your debut EP, Keep Counting, is due out January 8th. How did the process differ from your past projects? Was it refreshing to have a blank canvas rather than working with other artists’ work?
The Keep Counting EP was different in a lot of ways. Sonically it’s a lot more instrumental than electronic. It’s also the first time I’ve sung on my own tracks. I think writing the vocals and binding them with the production is what really made it stand apart for me. It was definitely refreshing to express myself from more than just a sonic level.
Rumor has it that you will be taking a full band on tour in support of the EP. What made you decide to perform live rather than do the DJ sets other electronic artists sometimes opt for?
I think it’s the only way to do the new songs justice. Aside from that, I think the band is just sort of a natural progression for me. Not that there is anything wrong with DJ sets or other live sets, but I feel a little more comfortable with myself when I’m creating the music on stage. It’s more engaging and fun for me, and I hope it is for the audience as well.
Going forward, where do you hope to take the Avenue project? Are there any artists in particular you would like to work with?
I’ve actually already begun work on the second EP. I was really fortunate to meet some great bandmates, so writing and playing with them in preparation for a tour in 2016 is what I’m focused on at the moment.