An Interview with Lynda Mandolyn of Crystal Canyon

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LYNDA MANDOLYN of FABULOUS DISASTER - Song For Ewe - Velvet Sheep

Shoegaze is a genre that is all about depth. Depth of music, depth of lyrics, depth of the bands who reside within it…you get the idea. So, given that many bands seem to crop up within the genre of Shoegaze, it’s not always easy for one to catch my ear, but…Crystal Canyon caught my ear.

It’s early yet to be talking about my favorite albums of the year…but Yours With Affection and Sorrow is already one of, if not my favorite album of the year. Again, I know it’s early. Anyway, if you dig Shoegaze and you haven’t heard this album, head over to Crystal Canyon’s Bandcamp page here and dive in headfirst.

The leader of Crystal Canyon is Lynda Mandolyn. She’s a veteran of the scene and gave a truly interesting look inside of the world of Crystal Canyon, her songwriting process, her opinions on the industry, and more. It’s a good one. Dig in.

Andrew:
Lynda, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Lynda:
Thank you so much; weird is an understatement. Nothing like having your life ripped out from under you (I know I speak for most of us here, not just me) doesn’t seem real at times. I have slowly been working on music. It was really wonderful to release the new Crystal Canyon album at the end of January. The feedback has been phenomenal; it has given us all some kind of hope? A sure-fire sign to continue.

Andrew:
Tell us about the backstory. How did you get into music? What was the gateway, so to speak?

Lynda:
The Beatles and The Monkees were my gateway drug. 🙂 I formed my first all-female Punk band called Inside Out at 16. Got signed to an English Indie label, recorded a Peel Session, and was inducted into the Detroit Music hall of Fame at 23. Very proud of all we had accomplished. During this time, I was really into Hardcore/Punk. Shortly after that, I got into the Art Rock scene in Detroit, which eventually lead me to Shoegaze and discovering bands like My Bloody Valentine and singer Najma.

Andrew:
As an artist, who were some of your earliest and more important influences?

Lynda:
SO MANY! Beatles, Monkees, Fleetwood Mac (all eras), Go Go’s, R&B, Disco artists. Later, it was My Bloody Valentine, Wire, Mission of Burma, Mr. Science, Medicine, A.C. Marias. Underground Detroit bands like Medusa Cyclone, Sleep, Angry Red Planet also had a big impact.

Andrew:
Tell us the story of Crystal Canyon. How did the band come together? What’s the origin story?

Lynda:
Crystal Canyon was formed in 2015. Guitarist and studio owner Todd Hutchisen was recording my band Tiger Bomb. He particularly liked a song I was singing backup on that reminded him of Lush. He was looking to form a Shoegaze, Pop-type band. He already had a bassist Jeremy Smith (they were in a band together called Baltic Sea) and drummer Hayes Porterfield. We jammed once, and I was hooked. They all were pros; the music that was coming out was too magical to ignore so, here we are!! Really grateful we all met.

Andrew:
Let’s dive in and talk about Yours With Affection and Sorrow. How did this album come together? What was the inspiration? Where can we get your new record, and what formats will it be on?

Lynda:
ours With Affection and Sorrow was two years in the making. Out debut, S/T LP, came out in 2018 with great reviews. We credit DKFM Shoegaze radio for being an early fan of our music and really getting it out there for others to hear! Daydreams mostly inspire my lyrics, although certain people or situations creep into the writing process. Many of them are love songs, covered in honey and sparkly stuff. Todd and Jeremy really came through on this one and really worked it over to perfection. Being in the studio is one of my favorite places to be. Just amazing being able to collaborate with them both. The album was dedicated to a long-time mentor and love of mine who died in 2019. By them, the record was pretty much finished, but I wanted to dedicate that to him.

Yours With Affection and Sorrow is out now on the Portland Indie label, Repeating Cloud. You can find it on all streaming services, but our advice to people is to support all bands via Bandcamp. That way, the artists get a lot of the profit, and rightly so.

Andrew:
As far as the genre tag “Shoegaze,” are you comfortable with the tag, or do you like to keep things more fluid? Regardless, it’s a wonderful genre with a rich history. Who are some of your personal favorites, past or present?

Lynda:
I like it. It’s a nice niche to be in. I can say many Shoegaze fans found the band on Bandcamp because of the Shoegaze tag. But we can also fall under Pop, Rock, Psych…

I love all the classic Shoegaze groups, especially MBV, Chapterhouse, Ride, Lush, Medicine especially. More current/classic I love Astrobrite, Star, Ringo Deathstarr, Young Prisms…I just discovered this group Beyond; I’ve listened to them nonstop recently. They were mostly active between 2006 and 2011, but their records sound straight out of early 80s New Wave/Goth scene. Their effects are authentic to that time period. It brings me back.

Andrew:
How about songwriting? What is your process like? Does your work come from a deep, ethereal place? Or is it sort of just spur of the moment, so to speak?

Lynda:
I do a lot of collaboration with Todd and Jeremy. I have brought completed songs in the past. There are times when I work on the melody of the song, and I don’t like the direction it’s going. Other times, it will just pop into my head, like it’s there, ready to reveal itself. It’s all intuition; it comes from a place when it’s ready, it lets me know. Certain people inspire these downloads; there’s usually a muse involved. If the muse is lucky, they will know the song is about them.

Andrew:
How does your latest work differ from your earlier offerings? What’s changed? How have you evolved?

Lynda:
I believe the songwriting has gotten better; that’s the usual progression of things…collaboration can be great because you get one or more different perspectives on where the song should go. I wholeheartedly believe that there are certain opinions that may or may not be yours, to drive a song in a certain direction. I am learning to set my ego aside and do what is best for the piece. It’s difficult sometimes, but it’s a part of learning and growing, and honing your craft.

Andrew:
Touring is a big part of any artist’s proverbial machine, but as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about being on the road?

Lynda:
I’ve toured in other bands basically most of my life. As you get older, you don’t really miss it unless you’re on a super sweet tour bus, staying in 5 Star hotel rooms. Crystal Canyon hasn’t done much touring, so to speak, but our live shows are far from boring. We always bring a “real” show, i.e., visual effects, a ton of pedalboards, multiple amps, sequencers, the whole 9 yards. Plus, if Todd is in a frustrated mood, he’ll smash his guitar to bits either on the floor or against a wall. He can put them back together too, it’s amazing!!! 😀

Andrew:
Speaking of COVID, where has it left the music scene? So many indie venues are closing, and people are struggling. Do we recover from this? If so, how?

Lynda:
There’s no music scene now, so to speak of; everything is virtual. We’ve been on a few virtual shows, which have been great. The ones you can catch on YouTube you can be part of the chat and engage with other music fans; I think that’s really fun. I’m not sure when we’re going to be able to play in clubs again. I still think that is a ways off. More outside gigs would be the way to go (safely, of course).

Crystal Canyon music, videos, stats, and photos | Last.fm

Andrew:
I’ve come to learn that streaming services don’t pay. What are your thoughts on that? How do we as fans better support our favorite artists?

Lynda:
I think Spotify is complete bullshit. Pennies to the artist if you can get even that. Again, BANDCAMP is the way to go to support artists fully. Easy to navigate and so much great music. I’ve discovered many great bands on Bandcamp.

Andrew:
The world we live in today is so defined by social media, big business, and the resultant alienation that radiates from those two things. With that said, what’s it like out there for an indie artist? Better? Worse? Status quo?

Lynda:
It depends on how hard you work for it. If you’re not on social media at all these days, then who is going to hear about you. No shows anymore so….

The world right now has changed so much; we’re not going to get the 70s, 80s, and 90s back anytime soon…change is inevitable. I probably wouldn’t be on social media right now if I didn’t have my bands to support and promote. Too political out there, I think it’s changed for the worst. What I wouldn’t give to be back in 1984, learning guitar for the first time and being with my Mom…in any case, put your stuff on Bandcamp!

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music? What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Lynda:
I’m into it all; I can’t get rid of my bags and bags of cassette tapes…but I mostly listen to vinyl and digital. Nothing beats vinyl. You can hold it in your hands; it has a warmer sound, it’s palpable, it’s like holding art in your hands. Our new album has a gatefold; you can hide your weed in it! Kidding aside…I try to shop at online independent record stores or buy from Bandcamp. If there’s something I really want and others don’t have in stock, I’ll bite the bullet and order from Amazon (sorry).

Important albums: Beatles, White Album, Medicine, Shot Forth Self Living, Nomeansno, Wrong, The first two Frightwig albums, Beach House, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Laura Lee, Two Sides of Laura Lee, there are so many. These helped shape my direction, not only musically but shaped my outlook/perspective in the world.

Andrew:
Aside from music, what else are you most passionate about and why? What makes you tick? How do your other passions inform and inspire your music?

Lynda:
I’m passionate about knowledge and learning all I can. Helping to support others both musically and emotionally. Reiki, magic, fulfillment, strength training, love, Art History, Holistic Health. I take it at its purest form and start from there, which helps to inspire me and helps keep me going.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve had a successful and multi-layered career thus far. With that being said, what advice would you have for other indie artists looking to take the plunge?

Lynda:
Be yourself, not someone else. Never stop rockin’ and get yourself out there. Musicians have a great gift of lifting people up and inspiring others. If you relate to that, do it. Again, Bandcamp is a great tool. Thanks so much for the interview!–Lynda

http://www.crystalcanyonband.com/

Lynda Mandolyn

Interested in learning more about the work of the Crystal Canyon? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing 5,000 albums, Andrew knew it was time to finally follow his dream, and thus, Vinyl Writer Music was born. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie, and Kevin. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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