Montreal’s No Joy could only exist now.

Photography by Holly Lucas

Photography by Holly Lucas


There are undeniably some vacuous, fleeting and irksome qualities that have been bestowed upon us by the rise of the digital age and the subsequent ‘blog-generation’. We are presented with songs in such an abundance, with such an array of meaningless tags and associations with ‘scenes’, that it can make one’s head spin until utter disillusionment sets in and you question the very essence of existing in today’s world. The flipside, however, is the possibility of a refreshing birth of extemporaneity that exists, and No Joy, I soon find out, are the by-product and end result of something that could only really exist in this cracked modern world of ours.

Music has become more disposable, there is no denying that; it’s the very principle of the streaming and screening world we live in. But it also breeds spontaneity and impulsiveness, which can lead to wonderment and startling, delightful surprise. We live in a time in which a band can be signed within days, without even playing a gig or having to stretch to the cost of a stamp to mail a CD to a record company, and this can lead to momentary explosions of exciting new bands, movements and sounds, or it can lead to opportunists wreaking havoc and creating a conveyer belt of regurgitated tripe. That’s the gamble we often take now.

No Joy is a thriving example of the former, and a band that have risen in giant leaps and bounds in no time at all.

I spoke to Laura Lloyd, lead singer and founding member, on the eve of their SXSW shows, who confirms “it’s been crazy,” and that in regards to SXSW, “I’m exhausted just thinking about it, we’re playing eight shows altogether but four of them are in one day. “It’s our first time here. I mean, this time last year we weren’t even a real band.”

No Joy’s existence has been something of a blitz, playing their first ever show in December 2009, which would then lead them to being signed to Mexican Summer just months later, on the strength of two songs on a MySpace page. Their album (‘Ghost Blonde’) would follow in November 2010, taking their cycle from formation to debut album being released and worldwide touring to be around the ten-month mark. Head spin, right? “Yeah, it’s been incredibly relentless,” nods Laura. “When Mexican Summer said we want to put out an LP, all we had were those two songs. So we had to write and record the whole thing in three weeks time.”

Such was the haste of the experience that the band had to quickly adapt to their current momentum as they went along. “Then we actually had to learn how to play the songs because we had to go on tour straight away,” says Laura.

“We had no expectations whatsoever,” she continues. “We never expected anybody to hear anything we did. The band was just for us. So the fact that people like it and bought it is really exciting to us.”

Interestingly, while the band are now synonymous with the hazy, luscious shoegaze-like sounds their debut emits, it’s not something they intended, nor were they aware of a similar spate of bands at the time. “When people started saying we sound like other bands coming out right now, we were completely oblivious to other bands doing a similar thing. Even now I don’t know what we sound like, to be honest.” Laura pauses before further adding insight to their original intentions. “I mean I listen to a lot of heavy, heavy music – music like Boris. Now, we sound nothing like those bands and people are always really surprised to find that out.”

So is there anything stopping No Joy from heading down the road of screeching noise? Because, let’s face it, some of ‘Ghost Blonde’ does have its fair share of feedback. “I’d love to, I really would. But I just don’t think we know how to make that kind of noise! I don’t think we’re that skilled. Those musicians are really talented. I think when we started writing it was more like our interpretation of what was heavy. I’ve been told we’re very loud live.”

It’s representative of current times in that there is very little room for expansion or the comfort of time. It’s undeniably a constrained and constrictive environment that No Joy currently inhabit, but one that they have flourished in, and there is no doubt that they have been pushed to their maximum musical ability, which has in turn resulted in a gripping debut album that plunders deep sonically and texturally. It’s a curious paradox.

No Joy are a fascinating insight into the structure and nature of the modern day music industry. So important is time, place and speed that bands are not so much thrown in at the deep-end, but rather have their heads rammed in and held down until they struggle for breath. Artistically, it has proven interesting, forcing bands to think on their feet and adapt their sounds, skills and thoughts as they move along at frantic pace. It’s a dizzying, whirlwind of an existence, but No Joy have proven that solace and coherence can be found within it.

By Daniel Dylan Wray

Originally published in issue 27 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2011

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