Ask most musicians about the inspiration behind their latest magnum opus and, at best, you'll get some barely thought out guff about wanting to emulate the Beatles/Kraftwerk/Miles Davis/insert any other exalted artist within the canon of popular music. At worst you'll be confronted with shoulder-shrugging indifference: "Just listen to the music, man."
Ask Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan about what motivated the making of his and partner Matt Didemus' fourth album, It's All True, however, and you're soon basking in a multitude of cultural, geographic and gastronomic touchstones: namely Orson Welles, Howard Hughes, China, in particular Shanghai, Japan (the band, not the country) Banana Ripple ice cream, Carl Craig and analogue synths, but mostly Orson Welles.
But then Junior Boys, as their three albums to date (2004's Last Exit, So This Is Goodbye from 2006 and Begone Dull Care from 2009) attest, are not like other outfits. Musically, they marry everything from post punk, disco, techno, R'n'B and electronica with soul, dubstep, house, splintered pop and traces of world music into one cohesive whole. They are at once warm and inviting, yet ice cool; clever but instantly accessible; mercurial and utterly fascinating - all descriptions that go some way to defining their most comprehensive musical statement to date, It's All True.
So just how do you go about fusing the aforementioned, seemingly disparate, influences into a creative and vibrant body of work? The answer lies in Orson Welles final film, F For Fake. Essentially a movie-cum-documentary about art forgery, many of the oblique themes that abound in F For Fake resonated with Greenspan. Especially after Junior Boys last album, a conceptual piece about little-known Canadian animator Norman McLaren, failed, in Greenspan's words, "to gain traction with people". "F For Fake is in many senses a cynical movie about how art is more about gimmickry and branding than it is about the art," explains Greenspan from his home in Hamilton, Ontario. "And that was how I was feeling about the music industry. By the time of Begone Dull Care it had become as much about marketing strategies and viral clips as it had the music. All this began to weigh down on me. And so the more I read about Welles the more I became fascinated by him."
A two-month sojourn to China lightened the mood ("All the pressures of hype and what have you just melt away when you're faced with a society that doesn't know you or your world," a relieved Greenspan explains) and it was while in Shanghai that some of the musical ideas and sketches that Greenspan had been working on back in Canada began to take shape. Indeed, he feverishly worked with and recorded a number of local musicians for the album while out in China. Soon after Didemus flew back to Ontario from his home of Berlin and following two month-long stints of writing and recording, It's All True came together.