Radich discusses recording process, good studios, pop music in Ottawa

Electronic artist and University of Ottawa student Matt Radich, aka Townes, has released his third EP, available for streaming now.

Radich, a fourth-year management information systems and analytics student, has been making music as Townes since October 2015. His first two EPs—mainly synthpop affairs—were recorded in his bedroom, but for EP3 he made the move to a proper recording studio.

Radich plays all the instruments on the album except the drums, which were done by U of O student Mark Howells. That means Townes balances synthesizers, guitar, and vocals, in addition to writing the lyrics.

The process for this EP was a bit different from his earlier ones, not just because it was done in a recording studio. He had access to better synths in the studio, and made use of multiple guitars. He admits his vocals are also a lot better.  

“I would just say the third one is a lot more refined than my first two. The first two were just, ‘Let’s get the projects out there, let’s just do them so I can start playing shows,’” said Radich. “3 had a lot more focus to it … I think (EP)3’s just a lot better.”

“The quality of everything went up,” Radich added.

The EP was recorded at Scoreboard Recordings, owned by Algonquin College graduates Bill Lepine and Will Brisebois. It took three weekends to record the four songs, Radich said.

Radich highlighted the first track on 3, “Can’t Do Much Better,” as his most ambitious track yet, with layered guitars, space-filling synths, and drums. The song, he said, was built from the ground up, with only a bass synth-line and a hook to begin with. It also avoids a simple verse-chorus pattern in favour of something a little more complex.

The three other tracks bounce back and forth between guitar-centric songs and synth-heavy ones to keep listeners engaged. “Los Angeles Televangelist” is built around an infectious, distorted chord progression, while “What You Need” has slinky synth lines, pulsing chords, and a prominent drumbeat. EP closer “Tambourine” has a serious indie rock vibe to it, with a lot of guitar.  

Townes stands out somewhat in the Ottawa music scene. Inundated with punk, hardcore, and metal, there aren’t a lot of pop or synthpop artists. He also performs solo, using an old sampling pad to fill in the studio sounds that are hard to replicate live.

“There aren’t a lot of people who make music on the pop side of things in Ottawa,” Radich said. “When I do local shows, it’s usually a completely mixed bill.”

Although his EPs are getting more ambitious, Radich doesn’t intend on making an album soon, saying that he can get the same traction with an EP as he thinks he would with an album. It’s also less of a time commitment for his listeners. EPs also allow Radich to experiment more, and it makes sure that he’s only including quality material, instead of fluffing out a full album.

“I can release two EPs, four songs each, and I think getting two releases out of it is good,” Radich said. “If I put out one album, I feel it would have the same amount of steam as one EP … I’m gonna keep doing EPs for the time being.” 

Townes’ EP3 is available on all streaming services, such as Spotify, Tidal, and a pay-what-you-can download on Bandcamp.