Final Peak Performance Project Finalist Interview with Windmills

Today is the final Peak Performance Project showcase in Vancouver, and we have our last interview up with one of the Top 12 artists. Jess chatted with Cory Myraas aka Windmills last night when he arrived to Vancouver from Vernon. Here's what we chatted about.

Jess: Congratulations on new album! How is your world different now that the album is out?

Cory: It's surreal, it's like any release there's so much build up and anticipation with them all, I've been working on this album 2 years now I think we started the first songs in March last year... even before that, so to have them all finished and polished and released into the wild - it's this huge sigh of relief and this huge wave of nerves and wanting to get it into the right ears and to get it out there on the internet, wherever I can. It's a big ball of excitement and terror.

Jess: A ball of excitement and terror...

Cory: It's how I live my life as well, so it's perfect.

Jess: How do you live a life of excitement and terror?

Cory: Good question! I wasn't prepared for this. Let's see... The drive here was pretty nice, it was windy and the van was shaking back and forth, that was terrifying. I came from Vernon, the old Okanagan.

Jess: And you're going right back to Vernon after the show for your fundraiser?

Cory: I have decided to take on the most work a human should ever take on in the last month and a half. I've been planning for the showcase but Friday, the 16th, I'm having my benefit concert / Vernon release, and then on Saturday I have my Kelowna album releas.

Jess: That sounds like the busiest human in the world, you're right.

Cory: On top of that I launched a little Indigogo campaign to raise a bit of money to cover the last expenses of the album, so 25% of everything I raise is going towards the charity that the benefit concert is for as well. Basically for the last month I've been working seven days a week.

Jess: What's your day job?

Cory: A valet at a rich golf course. All smiles and driving cars that are sometimes really nice.

Jess: What are the pros and cons of keeping a day job but being an artist at night?

Cory: It's an interesting balance, I found. One one hand, income is necessary – being able to support yourself financially in that sense but also, releasing an album, touring, playing, even maintaining gear is a pretty big expense. It's almost splitting it two ways.

It's funny because I find at work I'm pretty quiet and reserved and not many people knew that I toured around the country this year or the Peak or all of these things that came with this identity. Then there was an article in the paper this week and everybody at work was like, 'oh my god I had no idea! Who would have thought?'

It's almost like a superhero/superman/batman weird identity shift and during the week you're putting in your time and it serves the bigger purpose and at night you're performing or touring for the weekend, and my other identity person comes out.

Jess: That's a really distinct two-face personality shift!

Cory: I always try to have Windmills and my own self be... not be 2 separate identifies, but I am a lot more... I don't want to say outgoing – it's not like I'm a recluse who hangs out alone all the time, but you put on a persona when you perform. Especially as a solo musician. I'm not playing under my name, I'm playing under an act name, so it's more so the persona of Windmills getting on the stage and playing songs.

Jess: You said that the 10 songs you released are 10 versions of you.

Cory: Exactly.

Jess: Can you give me some examples of what are some of those versions?

Cory: Yeah, I mean the album is called Measures and that's, all the songs deal with different measures that we all go through, I guess moreso myself, but the measures we go to across the board just as humans and how far we will stretch and the measures we will go to finding love or maintaining love or finding heartbreak or maintaining some sort of semblance of balance and identity going through depressing moments of our life. I don't want to say any one song on the record is a breakup song, or a depression song because I tend to draw from a pool of experiences rather than one when writing. It's an extension of myself over the last 2 to 3 years in term of the highs in my life and the lows.

A lot of these songs deal with the fleeting sense of nostalgia and I don't want to sound too preachy but almost like an existential quest and reaching for an identity. It's reaching back and the measures I was willing to go to to find this past, those past selves and those past experiences. The songs are like my little humans of the world. Now they're out in the wild.

Jess: You have no control now what happens to them.

Cory: Exactly and that’s the exiting and the scary thing, you don't know once it's released what songs catch on more than other and if the intention is there. I find it fascinating what songs people tend to latch on to or come back to like 'oh, I really love this song and your music,' I'm like 'oh, that's great, that was a more personal song that I wrote for myself in a sense.'

Jess: Who's listened to the album so far?

Cory: Outside of Ryan, my producer, and myself, I've sent some of the songs... most of them between Richard and Sebastian from Van Damsel – we toured across the country back in May together and we've always been really close so I would kind of send them songs, and we recorded with with the same producer and I'm like 'oh look at this!' They have insider knowledge and there was not a lot of people, actually. My girlfriend, she was the sounding board, and she tested all of the songs. That was nice. There was really a select few, maybe 5 people including myself and my producer. I played it really close to the chest.

Jess: To make that happen you must have done a lot of the leg work yourself.

Cory: Basically all of it in terms of the tracking and recording process. I pretty much recorded and tracked everything in the studio so there's this really small family that came together. The graphic designer I worked with heard one song but we also made a video for that song.

Jess: Why did it take 2 years to release?

Cory: I didn't want to jump the gun and be like 'hey! a new album is coming!' and then a year goes by and people are like 'where's the album?' Because recording can be so demanding and I can be a little bit of an OCD perfectionist when it comes my music. Just so the songs can be... not perfect that's not the word, but just be the best they can be. 

I didn't want to force it, being a solo artist at the end of the day and any artist has to do this but I applied for grants and the money thing. Making you have proper recording and making sure everything is done to a high level. This big cycle happens a few times during the whole process.

Jess: What's your plan to win the Peak and your plan after you hypothetically have won?

Cory: My plan to win has always just been to stay true to myself and the Windmills sound and what that means. I'm not eager to change everything about myself to fit into the successful pop-idol model, I want to maintain my integrity, and I'm sure others would say the same thing. Getting my music to there in it's truest form is a huge bonus and if I can win doing that, all the better.

If I was fortunate enough to be handed a massive cheque, the biggest thing would be publicity and promo with this new album being so fresh and working with a team that will get it to those ears across the country and touring Canada, the States, over to the UK and doing some small, modest touring in Europe as well. Basically, tour tour tour, drive myself crazy, and be exhausted. Like any good artist.

Catch Windmills with pals JP Maurice & Van Damsel TONIGHT at Fortune Sound Club for the Peak Performance Project showcase! Tickets & details here.