Seeing The Nursery live on stage, you could tell they were not holding anything back. On Friday, January 18th, they headlined their first show of 2017 in their hometown of Toronto at The Drake Underground. The show was colourful and ornate, transforming the dark basement of the landmark Toronto building into a new and “freaky” world for the evening.
Alex Pulec (vocals and guitar) and Victor Ess (keyboard) came together to create the band in 2013 after they both dropped out of college where they were studying music. “We essentially dropped out because we realized in order to do what we wanted to do, we didn’t really need school,” recounted Pulec in an interview with us after the show. Instead, they created a band that celebrates its oddity and encourages creativity – all on their own. Their overwhelming talent for inventing unique pieces of music is a direct reflection of their willingness to be vulnerable and the risk results in what Pulec describes as “divine expression”.
The Nursery has a truly special talent for exploring the human experience with an authentic bluntness. While thematically heavy, the songs are not angst-ridden. They find a way for their music to remain catchy, energetic, and relatable. The production provides a gateway to countless genres. It is a rich fusion of elements from music in categories of post-punk, electronic, indie-rock, psychedelic-rock/pop, synth-rock, synth-pop, alternative, and more. (1) Contributions of crashing drums – played with verve by Josh English from New York – hit you hard. Jared Roth supplies aspects of rousing synth, which impose a psychedelic feature to the sound as well. All of these elements, combined with the work done by Pulec and Ess, meld seamlessly to form a genre that the boys of The Nursery call: “freak pop”.
In our interview with Pulec, we discussed the come to fruition of the band, his goal of creating worlds with his music, and he unveiled some extra details about the making of their most recent music video for the song, “Everybody’s Famous”. It sounds like 2017 is gearing up to include more exciting times ahead for The Nursery. With the highly anticipated release of their debut studio album on the way, and even some experimentation with 360 VR, you’ll have to read the full interview below to get more information of what is to come from The Nursery.
Nu: Can you introduce yourself?
A: My name is Alex and I play in The Nursery. I play guitar, I write songs and I sing.
Nu: Your videos are very conceptually strong, is it you guys who come up with them primarily?
A: We work with very small, but amazing teams. Genevieve Blais is one of the masterminds of a lot of the videos. We sort of codirect with her but I pretty much have to give her full credit on creating the world. She’s a brilliant artist all on her own and you should definitely check out her stuff. We just see a video as just as much an expression as the song, and you should pretty much go as all out as you can and I like the idea of creating worlds.
Nu: It’s obvious that with everything in your music, you give it your all. Even seeing you live tonight, your music took on a new dynamic from seeing you in a video.
A: Well yea, someone hands you a microphone and you have to use it.
Nu: Do you have a favourite part of the creative process?
A: My favourite part of the creative process is when the idea hits you and you just never expected it. It just came out of absolutely no where and you know you have it and you know it’s going to go away so you have to write it down or work on it or flush it out at that moment. That’s really exciting, because that’s really divine. I feel like anybody who attempts to do something creative would feel like at some point. That’s my favourite feeling. When something just hits and you know it’s coming from a special place and you’re not forcing a song or an idea or a video. That divine inspiration. I live for it.
Nu: I have seen you guys describe your sound as “freak pop”, what does that mean?
A: I use that term because we like colouring outside the lines with our music. Essentially there’s always something catchy to hold on to. We love choruses, we love a good pop song so the whole pop thing has to be there, but we have been told by so many people “you’re like new wave, but you’re not,” “you’re like kind of 90s, but a weird version,” or “you’re kind of trippy, but like a weird version,” so why is everyone calling us weird? I guess, just call it weird, and embrace it.
Nu: Who writes the music?
A: I usually come in with a shell and a mood. I very much rely on the band to flush that out and give it its character. Also, Victor our keyboard player contributes a lot.
Nu: You two started the band, right?
A: Yea we both started the band. We we’re playing in bands, and then we went to college for music and other things and then we essentially dropped out because we realized in order to do what we wanted to do, we didn’t really need school.
Nu: Do you have an accomplishment as a band that you’re most proud of?
A: Just some of the shows we’ve played, and finishing this record. Pulling off some of these videos on the budget that we were working with – we never get FACTOR grants for anything. It’s always out of our pockets.
Nu: Where did you shoot Everybody’s Famous?
A: Right there! (Alex points to The Drake Underground sign) Also, some of it was filmed at Adelaide hall.
Nu: In the video, who is dressed up as whom?
A: Some of them are professional actors; a lot of them are amateurs. A lot of the females are actually men, like Amy Winehouse, and Divine is a drag performer. Marilyn [Monroe] is a professional “Marilyn”, Charlie [Chaplin] is also a professional “Charlie”. The weirdest thing when we were shooting was that it was Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Charlie Chaplin, and Elton John all together in a room. It was the closest thing to ever being a room with all of those people.
But yea, another artist from Toronto plays Michael Jackson, and he killed it. Also, Kurt Cobain isn’t an actor… it was me. We did the whole hair and makeup and everything for it. They made my eyebrows blonde.
Nu: Did you dye your hair?
A: It was a wig.
Nu: What do you guys have coming up for 2017?
A: We’re releasing our debut full-length record, and it’s been great. We’re going to tour in Mexico, in the spring-summer. We’re experimenting with 360 VR video, so it’s a live video if people cant make it out to a show they can kind of get a bit more of an immersive experience, it’s pretty oculus minded.
Nu: When is all of that scheduled to happen?
A: The record is coming out in February or March. We’re going to do a lot more VR videos. We already did one VR video already so that’s in the works. It’s very primitive but it works.