Neverending White Lights
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|Neverending White Lights|
|Genres||Rock, pop rock, indie|
|Labels||Maple Music Recordings, Ocean Records|
Neverending White Lights is a Canadian music collaboration project fronted by Daniel Victor from Windsor, Ontario, and featuring several artists mainly from Canada and the United States. Daniel Victor performs all musical instruments, with most of his songs featuring guest singers. The idea behind Neverending White Lights is to present a sampling of different voices, styles, and artists, while retaining the 'focused' sound characteristic of a band.
At the age of nineteen, Victor began to drift apart from working in the 'band-like' environments from his adolescence and experiment with multi-tracking himself in the studio. These early recordings eventually became the first batch of songs from his debut release, Act I: Goodbye Friends Of The Heavenly Bodies. Though proficient enough on most instruments, Victor felt that utilizing the same singer on every song could grow tired, and was all too common. The idea of movie soundtracks, compilations, and frequent collaborations on Hip-Hop records intrigued him, and he wanted to bring these ideas over to the indie-alt music world and create an entirely different sort of album: something he didn't have in his collection, but wanted to have. After making notes of all his favourite singers, he began sending compositions to the various vocalists he felt would be a good fit for the songs. His idea was to create something more interesting than just another album by another band, something that offered a bigger experience for the listener.
He was finding himself more influenced by textural sounds, cinematic production and melancholy songwriting. These were the basic attributes he tended to create given complete free rein on the music and production. He created worlds of ambience, melody, and emotion within each composition. 'Vibe' was very important to him. It wasn't just about 'songs', but about environments; how and where they live. He listed a wide range of influences, including: Brian Eno, Craig Armstrong, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Kent, and Massive Attack; though it's impossible to cite the amount of music Victor digested on a weekly basis that would serve as a foundation for NWL's sound. For Victor, it was very important to have melody and atmosphere.
After Victor finished school, he spent all his time devoted to making the record he envisioned. The name "Neverending White Lights" came to him one night after flipping through his old notebooks in search of key words. The lyric stood out to him and gave him the sense of infinity and foreverness he was trying to create with the project. It was also a metaphor for humans; he explains: "There is an energy in people that doesn't go away when they die. While the physical body stays on earth, the light escapes. That is what we're made of, that never-ending light". With the premiss of the album's content starting to unfold, Victor deemed it important to make the album a concept record; an entire collection of sixteen songs all telling one story, in different ways. This would be an ongoing story, from album to album, each with a different conceptual basis for the lyrics. The albums would be the "Acts", and the songs would be the "Scenes", and of course, the various singers would become the "Actors" - much like a movie or stage play. It was an ambitious undertaking for one person to put together with no help in the industry and no band to provide feedback, and this difficulty led him into some troubled territories.
His first actual collaboration for this album was a song called "On Fire" which he wrote alongside Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman in San Diego California in 2001. The song did not end up on Victor's first record. Instead, it was recorded for Switchfoot's Columbia Records release The Beautiful Letdown, which went on to sell over 3 million copies.
After a very trying experience realizing this overly ambitious debut, Victor surfaced with the finished album in September 2005. It featured over a dozen guest vocalists, many of which were Victor's favourite artists. He states: "It means more to me to hold a burned copy of this finished concept in my hands after seeing it in my head for so long, than it does to actually release it to the world. I'd rather just put it on my shelf to listen to now and then and reflect on what it means to have completed this personal musical ambition."
Act 1: Goodbye Friends Of The Heavenly Bodies features lead members of: 311, City & Colour, Finger Eleven, Our Lady Peace, Ours, Hum (band), Shudder to Think, The Velvet Teen, Age of Electric, The Watchmen, The Black Maria, Creeper Lagoon, Starflyer 59, Deckard, Supergarage, Evelynn, and Cirrus. Though a completely unknown producer, the originality and creativity in the concept and music solidified their commitment to the project. Victor wrote nearly all the music, produced, and performed all the instrumentation himself. It's important to note that Victor insists on performing all the instruments on his albums himself. This one-man operation from the writing process to the end product is the key element to the unique sound of Neverending White Lights. There were several unreleased tracks written and recorded from Act 1 which have not yet been released. These include the songs: "John Dies At 56 ft. Mogwai", "Throwing Chairs ft. Switchfoot", "Shipbuilding ft. Unbelievable Truth" (Thom Yorke's brother), and "This Is My Fate ft. City & Colour".
On September 27, 2005, the album was released independently through Ocean Records Canada (Victor's own record label). The first single, "The Grace," which featured Canadian singer Dallas Green, was very well received; finishing as the 6th most spun song on Canadian Rock Radio in 2006. The music video eventually hit #1 on Much Music and Much More Music. The album sold close to 40K copies in Canada, and garnered a number of awards and nominations, including a Juno nomination for Best New Artist. A spring tour supporting Canadian legends Our Lady Peace soon followed. The album was also met with vast critical acclaim across the country which quickly jump-started Victor's career as a writer, producer and entity. This was also re-enforced by three music videos released as a trilogy for the album, all telling one long story through the vision of Director RT!
After gaining a following in Canada, Victor had to come to terms with the expectations to out-do himself and make a stronger second album. Now that he had people's attention, this was his chance to really focus on showcasing who he is and what he's capable of delivering. There was an immediate pressure to write another 'hit' single and to work with the right singers in order to not tarnish the path he was paving. Instead of wallowing in self-doubt on his direction and material, Victor used the pressure to fuel himself creatively. He researched various concepts of interest to write about, initially choosing 'ghosts and spirits' only to find himself being the subject of hauntings and strange occurrences. He brainstormed further ideas and eventually decided to focus on the concept of 'Everlasting Life' - something that could serve as an extension of the previous album, but create something much different. The lyrics he wrote reflected themes such as vampire love stories and bloodlust (The Living / Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Heart / Bleeds To An End), suicide/seeking shelter in the spirit world (Dove Coloured Sky / The World is Darker), and other variations on this topic. 'Blood' was a common image through the lyrics and artwork, representing life in its simplest form, and something strong, sexual, and powerful.
The album was recorded in Daniel's basement studio during the course of 2006/2007. Victor produced and mixed the album, performed the instruments, as well as obtained a new cast of vocalists. The content was influenced in part by the reverb-heavy 80's music of his youth, draped in haze and serving up big choruses for the ears; these nostalgic elements seeped their way into the production, citing artists like Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and George Michael as influences. Act II didn't try to emulate their sound, so much as draw on the memories of the material as a playground for creativity.
On October 30, 2007, Victor emerged with this second release entitled: Act II: The Blood And The Life Eternal. The album featured members of the following groups: Aqualung, The Raveonettes, Mobile, Catherine Wheel, Auf der Maur, Hawksley Workman, Magneta Lane, Mellowdrone, and Ours. The lead single entitled "Always", was the first track to feature Victor himself on vocals and peaked at # 18 on the Canadian top 40 Rock Chart. It's uptempo driving sound marked a notable change in direction from the very slow tempos of the previous album and single. The video was influenced by movies such as 'Vanilla Sky' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' in the way in which it melded nostalgic memories together to tell a story. He later followed with a second single "The World is Darker" Ft. Melissa Auf der Maur (Smashing Pumpkins/Hole) which was the first video to feature the actual vocalist in it. The third and final single was "Where We Are Ft. Rob Dickinson".
The album was met with much praise and critical acclaim including and many 5 star reviews. Fans of the group gravitated towards NWL's progression of sound, story, and image, and Victor further solidified the project's identity.
In 2008, Victor took time off and decided not to tour the album. He spent time adjusting to his career and spending time with loved ones; something he had no time to do between the first two albums. It was also important to him creatively that he find a new place of inspiration and energy before writing another album from scratch. During this time he produced and recorded something entirely different to change his writing style. This project was called Black Ribbons and is a 12-song electro-pop-noir album that he produced and recorded in a few short months. He wrote every song on the bass guitar, which gave the project a different perspective of songwriting.
In 2009, Victor went to work on writing new material for Act 3. This time he knew exactly what he wanted to focus his concept on: Tragic Love. Love itself was a topic he had mostly stayed away from due to its commonplace in music, but he wanted to focus on a certain aspect of it - the longing, heartache, and sadness of it - and how there is beauty to be found there. Between mounting pressures to produce radio singles and to repeat past successes, yet to still maintain true to the artistic integrity NWL was founded on, writing and production was staggered and troublesome. Victor eventually went on to write and record nearly seventy songs for inclusion on this album, only to throw them away after spending much time and money to complete them. It wasn't until he had a 'finished' copy in his hands after two years of painstaking work and travel that he decided it was unworthy to be released as an NWL album, and threw it in the trash.
He started over from scratch and found inspiration deep within himself, instead of from outside influence and pressure. It was this personal freedom and revelation that allowed the proper album to surface. Victor stated that "every song has to take you somewhere, every song has to hit you, and every song has to make you close your eyes and get chills. It was the letting go that allowed me to get to those moments. I tested them on myself, and these are the songs that have stood up for me." This batch of music became Act 3.
On September 21, 2010, Daniel leaked the first song from Act 3: Love Will Ruin entitled "The Lonely War", which features Evan Konrad of the band 'Bed of Stars'. He also stated that due to difficulties with a rupture in his vocal cords, the official release date of the album was delayed from 2009 to late 2011.
In spring 2011, the first single/video from "Act 3" was released entitled "Falling Apart Ft. Bed of Stars". In October, the single "Ghost Ship Ft. Hot Hot Heat" was released, eventually peaking at #9 for 3 weeks on ALT Rock in Canada.
The album Act III: Love Will Ruin was finally released on November 18th, 2011 to general critical praise. It features guest performances by Hot Hot Heat, Bed of Stars, and Pilot Speed. The album focuses more on Victor's own vocal performances and is generally more uptempo and rock than the previous releases. This change in style was a result of performing material live on stage over the years and finding the music taking on more of an edge. This increase in energy was also brought forward in an attempt to begin shifting NWL's sound to something more driving than downtempo and slow. This noticeable result can be heard on tracks such as "Starlight", "The Lonely War", and Falling Apart. Although the songs go over better in a live setting, many fans of the project's original style have criticized the change.
Victor is currently working on the 4th studio album in the Neverending White Lights series which currently has no release date.
Awards and Nominations
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