For a while now Cambridge, ON’s Marc Bourgon has been known as the incredibly nice (how stereotypically Canadian, eh?), really tall and super talented bassist of Greber and Fuck the Facts. But for the past few years, he’s also been working on an experimental solo project, dubbed Cancelled. Following 2013’s Threshold Adjustment, Bourgon now presents his new offering, titled Tenebrific, which will be released independently on March 3rd. The EP, which was mixed by none other than Kurt Ballou and mastered by Ryan Butler, features three tracks encompassing elements of industrial, doom and drone into an unconventional, diverse sound that is subtle and airy, yet also harsh and aggressive.
Bourgon recently took the time for an interview with Svbterranean to discuss what it’s like doing a solo project, how it all started and why he chose the name Cancelled. He also talks about the writing and recording process for Tenebrific and the meaning behind the title, as well as Cancelled’s ambiguous sound, how the project differs from his other bands and much more.
How did this project come into being?
I started writing a bunch of songs when I was in the van on tour. I was limited with what I could do due to the fact that wiring up a bass in a confined E350 was pretty much impossible. Everyday I would find myself writing a lot of lyrics on the road and spawned most of the Cancelled songs with them. By the end of a long stint of touring I had a ton of shit written and made the decision to really fine tune three of them. The rest of the songs got deleted when my external hard drive crashed.
Why did you decide to call it Cancelled?
I decided to call the project Cancelled because I thought it would look funny on a show poster. Even more funny was the fact that I never planned to play a show and hence never have the name on a poster. Hilarious, no?
How are you feeling about the outcome of Tenebrific?
I couldn’t be happier. It took a long time for me to get it all put together and I had to take a long break from listening to any of it. Getting to work with Kurt Ballou was a dream come true and he totally understood what I was going for with this. My soulmate Ryan Butler at Arcane Digital did an amazing job of mastering it and my buddy Vedran [Amidzic] did some sweet artwork to round it all off. It’s scary to put this out into the world, but I love that feeling of terror. (Blanket consent). If it all crashes and burns, I’ll still be happy with how it all came out.
What was writing and recording process like for this release?
The bulk of the writing was done in the van on the road. The rest of it I fleshed out in my own little studio (MOEX Audio) over the span of six months and recorded all the live shit in there as well. I played around with running different things through room mics and getting shit to have its own space. All the while I was revising everything and making sure that it would be something I could be stoked on for years to come.
How do you feel it compares to your previous release, Threshold Adjustment?
Threshold Adjustment was all created “in the box” (digitally). As lame as it is, I wanted to push myself to use elements exclusively within the digital realm. I still like how it all turned out but wanted something a bit more organic for Tenebrific.
Cancelled is labelled “experimental,” which can be somewhat of a broad and ambiguous term. How would you describe the sound?
That’s a tough one. I can’t wait for someone else to describe it so that I can use their description. I really went into the whole thing with as few rules as possible and am surprised that it turned out sounding like it does. I’m a fan of using a lot of subtle layers to fill everything out without causing things to sound cluttered. I don’t really have a good answer to this. Maybe Godflesh meets Ufomammut? (Maybe not).
What drew you to this type of sound?
Honestly, a lot of pop music. I love that shit. While it’s not all that apparent in these songs it has really inspired me to simplify things a lot more than I would have in the past. Taking a pop music format and beating the shit out of it until it’s completely unrecognizable was an idea that I had always wanted to try and I’m still kicking it as hard as I can to make it hurt as much as possible.
What are your influences?
I’m largely influenced by people who are more on the daring side of music. I don’t need everything I listen to be reinventing the wheel, but I do love it when musicians are more artsy-fartsy and not afraid to do something that is weird and bold. Shit like Gazelle Twin, Tortoise and Pile come to mind, as well as Toronto’s own Gates.
How does Cancelled differ from the other bands you’re in/have been in?
With Cancelled it’s only me doing the writing which is a very scary thing. Having someone else around to usher you through the midnight of self-doubt is priceless. Having no one as a touchstone of sanity was a huge challenge that was as exciting as it was paralyzing for me. If anything it really made me appreciate the collaborative process more. I’ve had the honour of writing with some amazing musicians and I can really see how writing as a full band can really steer something in a beautiful and different direction.
Lyrically, is there a specific theme behind Tenebrific? What’s the meaning of the title?
The word itself means “producing darkness” and the themes are mostly my personal take on very universal things. Tenebrific is about the darkness that we find within ourselves and choose not to see in others. Creating music has always been a huge help to me but can also take me to some pretty shitty lows and I feel that that title wraps the songs up with a nice little red bow.
How do the themes tie in with the cover art?
I liked the idea of the artwork portraying a calm isolation. It’s somewhere that I need to put myself more. Vedran is a super talented dude that has always been super supportive of what I do, so I chose to use this illustration of his for the cover.
Where does musical and lyrical inspiration for Cancelled come from?
I always have a notepad and my iPhone on me, so I’ll jot down ideas or little melodies during my day-to-day shit when it jumps out at me. A lot of it is from other people. I take a lot of inspiration from those I know and the strangers I bump into. I always feel that whatever I have to say doesn’t really matter all that much. I would rather translate what I’m feeling or going through into someone else’s story and try and bring their best/worst to the table. Being a 33-year-old white male isn’t exactly a walk of life that holds all that much to say, so I always aim to paint a picture outside myself and tell someone else’s story.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing a solo project?
Hmmmn. The biggest disadvantage is not having another set of eyes/ears/lungs to move the music into different places. I’m looking to collaborate more with other people on the next one so that I’m not stuck with a huge amount of anxiety when it comes time to release it. I’ve only let a few people listen to it and from them the feedback has been good.
What kind of outlet is Cancelled for you? What do you get out of it that you don’t from your other projects?
Mainly the ability to write more. Greber is constantly writing, but I feel that a lot of the time I need to take a break from things in order to do it better. When I’m not working on Greber stuff I’m writing for Cancelled and vice-versa. I find it prevents me from getting too close to ideas and having a hard time walking away from them. I used to just focus on one thing to the point of obsession but have realized over the years that taking some time away from creative projects is healthy and can breath new life into ideas that had long since gone stale.
Do you have plans to perform in a live setting? If so, will it be on your own? Or would you bring in other musicians?
I run a bunch of shit through multiple amps and have plans to do it live someday. I just need to bring it up to a higher level before I do. Not having a real drummer in a live setting and bringing a similar impact is next to impossible, so it will need a lot more work on that front. I practice some songs at our jam space but still need to invest in some better equipment to do it properly. If the right person would want to help me do it live I would be down to try for sure.
What’s coming up next for Cancelled and your other musical endeavours?
Just been writing a bunch of new Cancelled shit. Greber has a new full-length that we’re just in the process of finishing. That one should be out sometime this year (you’ll be the first to get it, Denise). Planning to head out west with Greber at some point this year as well. Also, I’ve recently started playing in a band with Matt Fleming and Nick Daleo of Hoosier Poet (RIP). Matt writes some amazing shit so I can’t wait to get something recorded soon. That’s about it.
Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank YOU for the interview. It was awesome. See you around, D!!!
Tenebrific will be released independently on March 3rd. Listen to the track “Social Impressment” from the EP below and check out more from Cancelled on Bandcamp.