We here at CBC Electronic have been keeping an eye on Ango. Since the release of his debut EP Another City Now in January on rising Scottish label LuckyMe, with its mix of "late-'80s pop, early-'90s house and contemporary R&B in equal measure," we've been waiting for a followup. Ango's next single, a cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” given away as a free download on Valentine’s Day 2012, showcased the breadth of his sound, and was a fitting tribute to one of his biggest musical influences.
I caught up with Ango on the eve of his second full-length project since his debut EP. Loosely a concept album, Serpentine unveils Ango's bigger and bolder vision by following a personal journey across genres.
Q: How did you first get involved in music?
A: My parents are very involved with music in their community. They sing in a bunch of choirs and with symphonies and stuff and enrolled me in one of those for a while, but it wasn't really my thing. Luckily, my dad had a pretty eclectic record collection and would blast Janet Jackson and Joni Mitchell and stuff like that at home so I developed a taste for really great pop music early. Later, in high school, I played bass in some noisy rock bands and made beats for rappers and singers on a 4-track recorder, which very slowly evolved into what I'm doing now.
Q: What’s the story behind the name Ango?
A: I got rejected from college because of a clerical error involving my middle name, Gordon. After the incident was corrected, I went by my full name for years and released some stuff locally as "Andrew Gordon." At the first Turbo Crunk party I went to at the Drake in Toronto, Rob [Squire] from Megasoid introduced me to everyone and eventually the name got abbreviated to "Ango" as the night went on.
Q: How would you describe the music you produce?
A: Pop music? Or maybe synth pop? Obviously, I have a heavy R&B influence but I think sonics and tempos push me into a more "electronic" category but all I do is write hooks, so it's pretty pop. Plus I don't really have all the church chords down to rightfully call it R&B.
Q: Does being based in Montreal influence your music in any way?
A: Montreal is the greatest city in Canada. Luckily, it's still affordable to live in so a lot of people can kind of focus on their art and work minimally. When I moved to Montreal, from Halifax, I was introduced to Lunice and Jacques Greene through Rob Squire (a.k.a. Sixtoo, Megasoid, Prison Garde), whom I had been friends with for a long time. I feel like there's been a really inspiring feedback loop between the four of us and others that has really shaped our individual projects.
Q: Why did you decide to call your mixtape Serpentine?
A: Born in the year of the rat, I'm supposedly not that compatible with snakes. It's hard to trace back to the seed of that idea, but basically I had all these songs about secrets and lies and wanting to change and hide from it and new temptations/seduction and the personification of the snake encompassed a lot of those ideas. It's a bit of a story, which hopefully follows a very dramatic, "serpentine" story arc with peaks and valleys.
Watch the video for "Paralyzed":
Q: There are so many mixtapes coming out now. How are you going to make yours stand out in the crowd?
A: I just write the best songs I can and hope people will enjoy them on the beach, or getting ready to go out or in bed with their boo. I can't say there's any gimmick to grab people other than hooks on hooks, but that's 90 per cent of what I do, write hooks.
Q: You worked with Jacques Greene, Kuedo and Numan to name a few on Serpentine. How did their productions differ?
A: When gathering material for this project I started working with a lot of producers, which is a different approach to me. I actually selected the producers who are on this tape because of how well the tracks worked together when they were finished. There's something about the mood and timbre of JG, Kuedo and Numan that complimented each other, where as stuff I'm working [on] with other producers felt like another project.
Q: Do you feel that releasing the project as a free download lessens its value to people?
A: I think music has great value. I worked hard on it and I love it and it's of value to me to share that value with as many people and as easily as possible right now. It's up to the listener to decide what it's worth to them, but it won't cost them any money. I just want the opportunity to have a real relationship with the listener. It's also not a project that really makes sense in another format at this time. It's danceable but it's not a club record. I never listen to my CDs anymore, so yeah, hopefully lots of people will find some value in it.
Q: What other projects do you have in the works?
I've written loads of material with Jacques Greene that we're thinking about how to release, and I have another record worth of solo stuff practically in the can. A few surprises, too.
Q: What was the first record you ever bought and where?
Michael Jackson's Dangerous. I got it through Columbia House.
Q: What music are you currently grooving to?
The last Chromatics record has been my favourite thing for a while now. I don't really consume music that quickly. I fall in love with stuff and listen to it for months before I feel the need to search for new stuff.
Q: What’s your preference: vinyl, CD or MP3?
Vinyl for the bed. CD for the backseat. MP3 for hotel.
Ango on SoundCloud
Ango's page at LuckyMe Records
on Jul 16, 2012