Upon first hearing Toronto’ Predator/Prey comprised of band members Adam Phipps and Dak DeKerckhove I knew I’d found a gem. Loving Canadian wildlife, music, and being a huge fan of intricate concept albums, this find was no doubt a winner. Catching up with Adam, AMBY dove into the creative minds that brought fourth a unique double-album loaded with ecology. Both musically and lyrically complex, Predator/Prey embodies the juxtaposition of wildlife and challenges our concept of nature as we know it. Not only creating music, they have also created a video game to accompany their album, found time to fish, and Dak is working towards a PHD. Curious to know more? Then read on to see what inspired the album concept, what projects are up next, and what’s on their playlist.
AMBY: For all those prospective listeners out there, how would you describe your sound?
Predator/Prey: We draw from a pretty huge array of styles so there’s elements of everything but it’s pretty firmly rooted in a sort of psychedelic folky + electronica thing.
AMBY: I love the name choice Predator/Prey rather than Predator and Prey as it leaves room for choice and juxtaposition. How did you come to select this for your album?
Predator/Prey: It sort of serendipitously grew out of our initial intent of focusing strictly on animals. Partway through the process we realized that a natural divide among the songs had started to occur along those ecological lines so we worked to develop that as an overriding structure. And you’re right, the juxtaposition aspect captured our initial interest in the concept so it fit perfectly as a name for the project overall.
AMBY: There are evidently many influences that play into this album; what would you say were the strongest influences that drove you to create such an ambitious piece of work?
Predator/Prey: Musically we’re huge fans of concepts albums, in every style from deltron 3030 to De-Loused in the Comatorium to obvious classics like Dark Side of The Moon and Thick As a Brick. But the main driving ambition from the start was that we figured that if we only every got one chance to make an album we should try to really make it cohesive and interesting on every level possible.
AMBY: When comparing the Predator tracks with that of their Prey, what tactics did you use other than lyrics to elicit the differing dynamics?
Predator/Prey: Most of the differences came about naturally from trying to reflect a critical aspect of each songs’ species and perspective. I think Predator definitely has a lot more aggression behind it in general as predators have to spend a lot of time thinking about hunting and killing food. Conversely prey probably spend a great deal of time being nervous and on edge, watchful for predators so a more subdued and dark energy I think ended up being more prevalent with the Prey songs. Both albums utilize themes and melodies from each other, and try to reference each other, so that’s one way we to tried to present a recurring idea in different perspectives. For instance that little banjo melody at the end of the bridge in Wolves is the main theme from Rabbits, but it’s played super rushed, as if a rabbit has just quickly crossed the wolf’s path.
AMBY: Rout of Wolves is one of my personal favourites; which track do you feel best embodies the tendencies, behaviour, and experiences of either Predators or Prey?
Predator/Prey: Awesome! Hmmm… hopefully they all do! Haha. We really tried to make each song reflect all of those ecological aspects of its species, and its status as a predator or prey obviously weighs heavy on those aspects. In Rabbits, I think it really feels like you’re in a perpetual state of motion. I think Boar pretty well embodies unbridled wild aggression pretty well on predator side.
AMBY: When creating the album, what was your ultimate goal?
Predator/Prey: The ultimate goal in creating the album was to make something that made people consider wildlife and nature from a new perspective. I think too often we view ourselves as being outside of nature, far removed from a wilder version of ourselves. But that’s not really the case. Musically we wanted to make something that remained interesting and challenging through many repeated listens, especially in a nice set of headphones.
AMBY: Name some of your favourite books of all time
Predator/Prey: Anything by Herman Hess. 3 Day Road. Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. SAS Survival Handbook. Birds of North America. Watership Down.
AMBY: What’s currently on your playlist?
Predator/Prey: Right now Dak and I are both still loving Jon Hopkins Immunity to death. I’m also listening to a lot of Canadian stuff like Joshua Van Tassel, Aidan Knight and Austra. For hiphop its been a Mos Def mixtape and the new Killer Mike and El P, also the new Flaming Lips (The Terror) and for some reason a lot of Mastodon, Mars Volta and Neurosis in the car.
AMBY: Tell AMBY something no one else knows
Predator/Prey: One of us is a very unsuccessful fisherman. Very.
AMBY: Any future plans or ideas in the works you’d like to share?
Predator/Prey: Dak is finishing up his PhD thesis so he’s a little busy with that. I’m working on some new material and finishing up an idea for a smaller concept EP. But we still want to push this concept further so we’re discussing either setting up something interactive online or putting together some sort of live thing for this album in the near future. We made a videogame where you get to be a fox on the hunt and put it online several months ago. To our surprise a lot of people are still playing it so we’re interesting in pursuing more of these kinds of interactive companions to the album to keep engaging people.
Thank you Predator/Prey, for giving us your answers!
Nadia Kaakati | @NadiaKaakati