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Premiere: Feeling Figures Transmute Personal Intensity into Collective Joy on "Movement"

Feeling Figures are soon to be your favorite K Records band to feast your eyes upon with their forthcoming debut album Migration Magic, an unconventional, but instantly memorable encapsulation of Montreal's sonic philosophy. Ahead of the release date on November 20th, we have the pleasure of premiering the band's latest single "Movement," a frenetic and ever so slightly off-kilter venture that goes off in various digressive directions with its fuzzed-up, sonic trickery that also embraces the connect-the-dots simplicity. We also caught up with the guitarist-vocalists Zakary Slax and Kay Moon to discuss how Feeling Figures naturally expanded upon their bedroom recordings as DBPS by adding in longtime friends and scene stalwarts Joe Chamandy and Thomas Molander, coming out of the shadows, and being part of K's latest roster of bands.

Feeling Figures have quietly been at the edge of the Montreal scene, never fitting neatly into the ebb and flow of the city's cultural trends or its more traditionalist camps. Comprised of a geographer, a music therapist, a writer, and an underground arts biz maverick, the four Figures have long been friends and collaborators in various musical formations and continue to propel multiple projects including most recently the lo-fi garage rock party band Theee Retail Simps. At the core of Feeling Figures is Zakary Slax and Kay Moon's songwriting partnership, which itself stretches back a decade under the names Dead Beat Poet Society. After relocating to the big city, a series of self-releases, shifting monikers, and revolving live lineups eventually coalesced with Thomas Molander and Joe Chamandy as Feeling Figures. This is the ultimate rhythmic vehicle and spiritual consorts for Slax & Moon's unconstrained syntheses of multiple eras of underground rock, punk, psychedelia, folk, and outsider pop.

Following up 2021's self-titled debut 7", The Figs are back with their debut album Migration Magic, out November 20th on K Records and Perennial Death. Recorded across two night in December '22, the debut album hits the perfect balance between feeling grounded and blissfully spaced-out. It's an astonishing, ragged, and minimalist garage pop record that dips its toes into the dissociative, resembling the melodic and syrupy noise-driven sounds of what K does best. Ahead of the release date, we have the pleasure premiering today the band's latest single "Movement," a frenetic and ever so slightly off-kilter venture that goes off in various digressive directions with its fuzzed-up sonic trickery that also embraces the connect-the-dots simplicity. We also caught up with the guitarist-vocalists Zakary Slax and Kay Moon to discuss how Feeling Figures naturally expanded upon their bedroom recordings as DBPS by adding in longtime friends and scene stalwarts, coming out of the shadows, and being part of K's latest roster of bands.

Paperface Zine: How did you two meet and form Feeling Figures?

Zakary Slax: We met in Sackville about a decade ago, which is a tiny college town in New Brunswick. There wasn't a lot going on, but a lot of bands exploded around that time — a dozen people who made up five or so bands formed this tight knit community really quickly. Kay and I had an immediate connection and got romantically enmeshed. We started writing music together shortly afterwards and have been steadily working on stuff ever since.

Kay Moon: It's strange too because Zak and I do have this sort of synchronous connection, since my Nana is from Amherst, Zak's hometown. I'm from Ontario, but Nova Scotia was always my heart home…my family would visit for a month every Summer, renting a cottage on Amherst shore for a few weeks. Zak and his family had a cottage they used to visit right down the road; so when we were kids we could have bumped into one another, which is something I have to add because I feel like that is quite magical.

Feeling Figures is a natural expansion of DBPS right?

ZS: Correct. For a while, the recordings were always just Kay and I, but the goal was always to have a live band. As DBPS we roped in various friends for live performances but the configurations were always quite short lived. We later brought Thomas [M.] and Joe [C.] on board to stabilize the lineup, who we've played with for a long time in other projects. With the four of us as consistent members and the growth of Kay and myself as songwriters it became a band with a life of its own — we wanted a new name to reflect the evolution.

What's the chemistry been like with Thomas and Joe especially since you play in other bands together like Theee Retail Simps?

KM: It's very special because Thomas and Joe are very sincere, funny, simpatico people who we met in organic ways…we met Joe in Sackville about a decade ago, and Zach met Thomas in French class here in Montreal. We trust them implicitly as musicians and friends, and they're always bringing something creative and original to the table.

ZS: They're good friends, but also insanely busy with so many other projects and bands so I just feel very lucky to have them on board. We have a great rapport as collaborators which allows to accomplish a lot in short windows of time. It's good company!

Your forthcoming debut LP Migration Magic expands upon your 2021 self-titled debut EP. What was the process of putting this new record together?

ZS: It was kind of spontaneous. We actually recorded a full record earlier in 2022 and we were trying to get that released. We were in talks with K and they were like, "well, you guys are pretty unknown. You know, maybe it would be good if we could release a seven-inch, or if you have some old recordings we could put on a tape." But we didn't really wanna re-release or rehash anything that was already out there, even though in our obscurity it would be new to most. So we're like let's just take all the excess material we have and throw it down, see what sticks and maybe they can make a seven-inch or a tape out of that. We just decided to book a weekend and record at our practice space Studio Migration in Montreal and laid it all down over the course of two nights. Ten songs: some brand new, some unreleased material from our back catalogue, and a few covers for good measure. It came together in a flash!

KM: We recorded so haphazardly, but it was really nice because Thomas was able to record us so it was incredibly comfortable. There's something in these recordings that captures that comfort and there's this almost fleeting, organic essence to the recording. We were taking it lightly which I think was a good thing in the end. I think it added a playful element.

Are you surprised at all with the appreciative reception you've been receiving so far? The record hasn't even come out yet and you already have some calling this a classic K Records release. Honestly, it really does fit well especially alongside recent K releases from Ribbon Stage and The Smashing Times.

KM: It almost doesn't feel real. Gerard Cosloy already wrote a review for our other album that's coming out next year, so we sort of knew that was coming for a long time, but it's definitely reaffirming and, in a way, full circle. I was a huge Nirvana fan in high school and I just learned recently that Kurt Cobain had a K Records tattoo, which just blows my mind. It feels really nice to have our music be recognized in some capacity, because we've lived in the shadows for a very long time. Being unknown is more comfortable in some ways, but comfort isn't always a good thing. It feels like the right time. And I don't think our egos are as involved as maybe they would've been five years ago. Life, time, and experience can give you perspective and humble you.

Today we have the pleasure of premiering your newest single "Movement" alongside its accompanying music video. How did this one come together and what was the vision behind the new clip?

ZS: As with the first single "Across The Line," it was one of the brand new songs that we had written for Migration Magic. The song is something of a meditation on the intersection between personal mental health and social change; trying to stay level-headed and keep the wind at your back in complex and trying times while recognizing the importance of connection to others. The "Across The Line" video was animated, so we as figures were still in the shadows. This new one then is meant to serve as kind of an introduction to us as band members. We're the subjects: playing on the street outside the jam space where the album was recorded, biking around and goofing off. It was filmed by Obediah [Anderson] of Theee Retail Simps with some additional nature and b-roll footage from me and Kay.

Out of the ten tracks on the new album, do you have any favorites?

ZS: I'm most about these two singles! For me they're the freshest ones.

KM: I do really like "Seek and Hide" because Joe and Zach are spontaneously improvising their lines. And I think we played it maybe twice? I'm just playing very easy chords, but I really love hearing these beautiful, kind of emotional little melodies that were captured. And there's a jazzy element to it too and I love jazz.

What can you say about this new tape that's planned to be released after Migration Magic? Do you plan to release it early next year?

ZS: If people buy Migration Magic then I think that's the idea [laughs]. K also agreed to release that one. We'll see where things go, but it should be soon after, hopefully mid-2024.

Aside from the new release, what else are you looking forward to or is on the Feeling Figures radar?

KM: I'm looking forward to our mini tour of the Pacific Northwest in October. Playing live shows is something I'm learning to love…so I'm excited!

ZS: We've only done a handful of shows with the new name so it's going to be really nice to play outside of Montreal. We've confirmed shows with Lavender Flu in Portland and our friends Tough Age in Vancouver so jazzed for those.

Migration Magic is out November 20th on K Records and Perennial Death. Pre-order the album here.


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