A Glimpse Into Vanden Dool’s New EP with His Striking Song “Small-Town City”

Canadian artist Vanden Dool enjoys creating synth-pop music and has had the opportunity to travel across provinces to share his art with the world.

Vanden Dool has performed alongside artists such as ACTORS, Chersea, and Too Soon Monsoon over the past few years. He is ready to share a song off his new EP 'The View from Here.'

"Small-Town City" has a classic '80s atmosphere with a modern twist. Starting with a perfect instrumental introduction combined with his layered vocals give the song a dreamy and uplifting feel. Vanden Dool's voice has a lot of character, taking inspiration from '70s and '80s electronic bands. It flows through the lyrics but also has a bit of grit to it. Backing the vocals is an upbeat blend of synth beats and melodies, with the same whimsical idea carried throughout the song.

Vanden Dool has a way with storytelling, singing about the perks, and the fallouts of growing up in a small town. You know, the experiences you can sympathize with if you grew up in a town where everyone knows you by name. In "Small-Town City," there is something for everyone, and from its spirited melody to its comforting lyrics, Vanden Dool has a timeless sound.

We loved “Small-Town City” and its classic sound, how did you go about writing this one? What came first, lyrics or melody?

With most of the songs I write, the very first thing to be fleshed out is chord progressions. From there I'll write lyrics that fit the timing of it, and if I don't already have a melodic line in mind for them I'll often come up with one as I begin to do vocal takes, which is probably why a lot of my vocal lines end up being quite monotone. "Small-Town City" came about with pretty much this same process except that, as with most songs on the EP, the very first thing to appear in my head was the title. What were some of your favorite artists growing up? Would you say your music models after your old favorites?

I grew up in a slightly conservative Christian household, so most of the music I listened to in my formative years was Christian rock and contemporary. My go-tos until mid-high school were artists like Skillet, Red, the Newsboys and Michael W. Smith, none of whom I listen to today. I did get exposed to a bit of secular music as well (mostly through my dad), but hardly anything I listened to was purely electronic and none of it was new wave unless you count Michael Jackson. What did stick with me from those years, though, was the fact that I enjoyed little electronic embellishments in the production and gravitated toward music that was either emotionally driven or considerably dark (for those not familiar, there was a surprising number of dark-sounding Christian artists in the late 2000s, Red being one of them). Those stuck with me as my listening habits changed after high school, and ended up translating into appreciating electronic genres for being so effective at accomplishing all of these things. For some reason synthpop just happens to do it best for me. You mentioned you are a graduate of music, what specifically did you study and where? How has your music education enhanced your career as a musician?

I studied at the University of Lethbridge in the Digital Audio Arts program, which focuses on production and engineering along with the standard music theory and history classes. I basically owe all I know about music production to my studies, as I went in not having any experience with a workstation that wasn't Audacity and little to no knowledge of how to use their features in the first place. On top of that, the theory and composition classes I took helped me have a better understanding of how to arrange parts, as did recording projects where I emulated certain artists and had to analyze how they arranged parts. I didn't initially know any producers to show me the ropes as is usually the case with popular music makers, so the academic approach was the best idea for me at the time. Like many other artists, you enjoy traveling the country and performing live music. How has it been adjusting to the current state of the country and the limited travel opportunities?

On the one hand, it's a relief to my bank account, because as an unknown there's no money in touring at all and is just a way to get my name out there. Instead, I've been investing more into the marketing side, which still builds up but nowhere near the level that touring costs do. On the other hand, one of the things I liked about touring was that it was an excuse to take a road trip to places you'd never been to or haven't visited in a long time, so what I really miss is the adventure of it all. This year also would have been a chance for me to see if anything stuck from touring in 2019, and this time with a release I felt a little happier with. What are you doing to stay inspired and creative throughout these tough times? Thank you for talking with us, we can't wait to hear what's next from you!

I've spent a lot more time streaming artists' albums and EPs now that I've limited my shopping and don't buy CDs or vinyl anymore. I have a lot more time to do that now that the only shows I go to are the rare outdoor ones, so it gives me the opportunity to expose myself to more of what's out there. I was producing instrumentals and remixes during full lockdown (which you can find on the Isolation EPs on my Bandcamp page until pandemic season is over), and if we go back into lockdown because of the sudden jump in cases going on recently I'll go back to doing more of those. I also plan on making another one of my annual witch house EPs for the Halloween season, which will be available between October 13 and November 1 on Bandcamp. I might start work on a standalone single release for next fall once I've tired myself out promoting the EP, so there's more from me on the horizon for once things are safe again.