Jon Varley’s latest recod The Missing Kink was released on December 14th by Citrus City Records, just in time for the holidays. With a sound similar to that of the classic bands that inspired him, the album paints a beautiful picture of everyday life, full of upbeat jingles, suave stories about coffee shop girls and simpler tales of what it is to love a sweater so dearly. Jon Varley is a busy man, spreading his creativity between two other projects in bands Novel and Painted Fruit. I caught up with him recently at a Girlfrend concert where we hopped into the Painted Fruit van and had ourselves a little chat about his latest record.
The Missing Kink…where did the album name come from?
Well, it's kind of just a play on words, but when I recorded my first record some of the musicians I was working with said the songs sounded a lot like The Kinks. I even considered changing my stage name to The Missing Kink for a while. It just stuck around in my head, so I decided to call the album that.
New label, same state?
Yeah, it's Citrus City which is in Richmond Virginia.
How did you get connected with Citrus City?
The guy that runs the label, Manny, heard a song that I released on the Don't Fall Collective Compilation and liked it. We were also friends on Facebook long before I proposed the album release to him.
Could you elaborate on the Don't Fall Collective?
It's a bunch of bands that run a venue in Montreal.
What is the oldest song on the record?
I wrote most of the songs in 2014 but the oldest song would probably be Observations. It has a Charleston funk rhythm to it.
When I listened to the record the songs sounded very personal. I felt as though I was hanging out with you. Would you say that feeling is something you wanted to create on this record?
Definitely, the album is an extension of the first record. The music is all about my personal life and my personal musings on subjects.
Being in Novel and Painted Fruit was it easy to get away and just do your own thing?
Yeah, I had banked songs and they were just kind of floating around. My friend Bryce, who produced the record and did some of the instrumentation, said to me, “come to Montreal and let's do this”. So I did.
Are you planning on playing this stuff live?
I've been thinking about it but Painted Fruit and Novel are both recording records at the moment. I just don't have time right now unfortunately, but it's not out of the question. I may play some songs off the record at live some point. We shall see.
The way that you arranged the track listing, was there much deliberation over placement?
That track listing just fell into place, there were 13 songs originally and it essentially just ordered itself. I made a few decisions on where to start and finish, but everything else just fell in. I pulled two songs and had to do a bit of juggling, but it’s definitely the easiest track listing I've ever had to put together for a record.
Were most of these songs compiled during a specific time in your life that you could draw certain inspirations from?
I would say the songs cover maybe a six month span of my life. There are songs about different women on it and different transitional periods. It's definitely a snap shot, for sure.
Any big plans with the record?
Yeah, we’ve got tapes on the way. They’re being produced out of a duplication plant in Montreal.
How many years have you been playing the guitar?
I started when I was really young, then stopped as a teenager, I started getting back into it around 19.
What motivated you to get back into it?
I was living in a house in Calgary with a bunch of musicians, and I kinda just fell in love with music and playing with other people again.
Musical inspirations? Anyone outside of your roommates who inspired you to start playing again?
Honestly, Sixto Rodriguez. I got into his music when I was 15 and it was simple enough for me to learn. Also, The Velvet Underground, they’re probably my biggest inspiration and my favorite band.
If you had to pick a favorite song off this record, what would it be?
It's weird listening to your own songs but there are three songs on this record I actually like listening to. Roll Drum, Dear Sweater, and I really like Ear To Her Heart.
Finally, what would make Victoria's music scene a more thriving place for this community and musicians like yourself?
It would be nice if someone could fill in the production area; to help with shows and promote them.