Toronto band The Plateaus — Somerset Pheasant, Morgan Freeman, Davian Freeman and Tryke Orphan — burst onto the music scene with a gorgeously wrought video directed by the city’s own Caitlin Cronenberg. But with very little lead up, people want to know: just who are the Plateaus? So, we asked, in this exclusive interview.
How did the band first get together?
TRYKE: Somerset’s actually a late addition.
SOMERSET: I had been living an intensely nomadic life for a decade or so, living hard, sleeping in different beds. I woke up in the middle of the night in Paris one night, and every bone in my body was telling me to go to this tiny bar in Montmartre.
MORGAN: Where I happened to be that night.…
SOMERSET: Yeah, she couldn’t speak French, so I translated for her. She had just been yelling, “DRINK” at the bartender.
MORGAN: That’s not true. I was yelling “DRANK!” Anyways, I ended up taking him home with me. All the way home. Across an ocean.
TRYKE: OK, anyway, now he’s our frontman.
What inspired “YNG LUV” and what are you hoping people feel when they hear it?
TRYKE: I think…
DAVIAN: Somerset did it all, all by himself. I don’t know what it’s about, and I don’t even know how to say it.
SOMERSET: I have a great fear, and a great love of death. And Morgan is just entirely scared of death, so the love and hate juxtaposition is constantly on my mind.
MORGAN: To answer the second part of your questions, I hope people feel the opposite of how I feel in crowded elevators when they hear the song.
The response to the song has been very positive. Has it met your expectations and where do you go from here?
DAVIAN: From here I will go to the bathroom.
MORGAN: That’s not what he meant.
SOMERSET: No, it’s not at all what I meant. Um, there’s no limit to how far YNG LUV will reach, because it’s about a universally powerful energy. It transcends all language, it transcends all sense.
TRYKE: I played it for some birds in the park and they stood around and then they took flight, so I think that speaks for itself.
I like the new wave edge to your song. It's pop, sure, but it has some real depth to it. Can we expect more of the same on your debut album?
DAVIAN: Yes. If that's what you want from me, sir.
SOMERSET: No, actually as soon as you label something it limits its potential. I don’t believe in putting walls around people or music. Claustrophobia is synonymous with death. Ours is a new genre, we’re Post-Genre.
TRYKE: Well, we’re still discussing how the album is going to be shaped. We haven’t mutually decided. There are going to be some huge riffs, for sure.
MORGAN: Maybe some deep, Post-Genre, poppy, huge riffs. Yeah, we’re not totally sure yet. Working on it.
How do you handle the writing duties for the band? Does Mr. Pheasant bring material to the band?
SOMERSET: I’ll let you guys field this one. I’m curious to see how this goes.
DAVIAN: Ha. You said duties!
TRYKE: Well, I mean, it’s pretty subjective. We spend a lot of time writing songs sometimes, and we work hard on them, but then Somerset has some good ideas, too, so yeah, subjective.
MORGAN: Yeah, I’d agree with that. We all bring a lot to the table. I know I inspire a lot of creativity in both myself and in other people, so it’s generally a win-win situation.
Where did you record the first single?
SOMERSET: My vision for YNG LUV’s sound was like garage-pop but from the garage of the Taj Mahal, if the Taj Mahal had a garage. Producers Gus Van Go and Nyles Miszczyk in Brooklyn and Toronto, respectively, were given the huge responsibility of polishing the song — brushing the fur of the beast that is YNG LUV. Making it shine more brilliantly than it already did.
MORGAN: But Somerset and I actually recorded the demo to this song in a hotel room in Paris, one very cold, snowy evening.
TRYKE: A tape of gross sexual intercourse is not a demo, I’ll have you know.
DAVIAN: I was in a room playing my drums when we recorded the single, sorry.
Do you feel any pressure to get the next song, or the debut album out in a hurry to capitalize on this momentum?
SOMERSET: I knew people would be anxious to hear the next single after YNG LUV came out, so this is what I did: YNG LUV is actually three singles. YNG LUV, YNG LUV sped up, and YNG LUV slowed down. Three different songs, three different textures, three different colours—
MORGAN: –tastes, journeys, animals, whatever. You name it. It literally blew my mind the first time I heard the three singles.
TRYKE: And also we’ve got a whole vault of songs, so there’s lots more coming soon.
DAVIAN: Yes, my head is like a pressure cooker right now. Albums need time to cook, like a slow cooker, and so things are just bubbling away in there right now.
MORGAN: A slow cooker and a pressure cooker are two different things. But yeah. Exactly.
And tell me about each of your roles in the band.
TRYKE: I’m the…
SOMERSET: Again, roles are like genres to me. I lead, and at some point, I will follow, so, it’s like anything.
MORGAN: Yeah. Umm.… I’m the kind of person who has a shitload of stories, and most of them are either not meant for grandma’s ears or are completely meant for your grandma’s ears. Depending on your grandma.
DAVIAN: I’m the drummer and dreamer.
People say you’re the Next Big Thing, but you haven’t really done anything yet.
DAVIAN: Everyone is the next big thing until you’re not. It’s a matter of positivity and self-worth.
MORGAN: That’s seriously well-put, Davi. Well done, dude. Yeah, and I would also argue that we’ve done a lot, or else why would be sitting here?
SOMERSET: That’s exactly right — who exactly would you be and what sad level of pride would you take in your career if you chose to interview the boring and unsuccessful?
TRYKE: …Yeah, true. He’s right.
A plateau is like a time where nothing really changes. Why choose that as a name?
SOMERSET: All the most inspiring neighborhoods are on plateaus: the Lasithi Plateau in Greece had 20,000 windmills; the Colorado Plateau has the Grand Canyon; and the Montreal Plateau is full of 20,000 people with 20,000 beautiful faces and 20,000 beautiful brains.
MORGAN: It’s also a really lovely word to say.
TRYKE: I wanted to name the band Tryke’s Band.
MORGAN: But for obvious reasons, that’s the worst. So we moved on.
DAVIAN: Sometimes I forget what our band name is because we’ve had so many over the years—I mean me, Morgan, and Tryke—but then Somerset came and named our band something permanent. So The Plateaus. Is what it is now.
There are some famous people in your video. Did you pay them?
SOMERSET: No need, it turns out. People were very eager to be a part of the visual incarnation of “YNG LUV.”
MORGAN: We actually had to turn down a few really eager people and bands — who I guess will remain nameless so nobody gets embarrassed. But you know who you are, so don’t worry! Next video, I promise!
TRYKE: Yeah, I’ve started writing a few songs based on the people we rejected, so definitely next single.
DAVIAN: Two of the famous people gave me $80 to be in the video, and I didn’t tell anybody until now.
MORGAN: Umm, what?
TRYKE: Yeah, share the wealth, guy. Not cool.
MORGAN: Somerset, Davian got — oh, he’s on a phone call. Sorry!
Jay Baruchel says he started a band because of your song. Why did you start a band?
TRYKE: I’ve heard his stuff. Jay is completely ripping off our sound.
MORGAN: Imitation and flattery, though. So it’s sweet — he’s a sweet guy.
DAVIAN: I saw The Imitation Game eight nights ago, and I forgot to tell you guys.
TRYKE: Oh yeah? I haven’t seen it yet. Any good?
MORGAN: Does it drive you guys crazy that Keira Knightly doesn’t move her bottom jaw when she talks, or am I just jealous of her?
TRYKE: You’re just seriously jealous. Probably incredibly jealous — she’s so hot.
Why does Sam Roberts appear with a fake nose, and then eat the fake nose?
SOMERSET: I’m getting a bit tired of this. If you don’t get the nose consumption scene, no amount of explanation will be able to make it penetrate your skull.
MORGAN: And it was actually a cheese nose, not a fake nose.
DAVIAN: It was real cheese, but it was a fake nose because it wasn’t Sam’s real nose.
TRYKE: I hated that scene, and thought it didn’t make sense. But the lizard scene was cool.
One of my favourite musicians once said, “It’s such a fine line between clever and stupid.” What do you think that means in relation to your music?
SOMERSET: Is your favourite musician clever or stupid?
MORGAN: Did that person say it, write it or sing it in lyrics? Because I would say, technically, if it was written, you should qualify that person as a poet.
TRYKE: What was that Morgan? Anyway, a magnified fine line or a fine line under a microscope is huge, so what are you saying?
DAVIAN: Well the grass is greener on the other side, so if you’re clever, you wish you were stupid, and if you’re stupid, you don’t even understand that you’re stupid, you think you’re clever.