By Mark Squibb | Vol 7 No. 11 (June 6, 2019)
The music of YOUTH is an indie-pop flavored blend of vocal harmonies, keyboards, guitars and drums.
Listening to the ambient soundscapes, it would never cross your mind that YOUTH only has one member.
Darren Mulrooney, 25, writes and records the music all on his own, overlaying the various audio tracks to create the sound of a four-or-more-piece band.
Mulrooney, who plays guitar, keyboards, drums, and even harmonica, started up the project over a year ago, mainly to fill time.
He recorded a handful of songs, and uploaded them to Bandcamp, an online music sharing company.
“I just posted them up, not really thinking too much about them. It was just kind of something for me to kill time,” explained Mulrooney.
The tunes caught the ear of Bryan Aleman, who signed Mulrooney to his label, Moon Bus Records.
His music fell into the hands of an organizer of the Shabang Reborn Festival in San Luis Obispo, California.
“He messaged me through email and asked me if I wanted to play this big festival that they have. So I looked into it and a lot of these bands that were playing at the festival were really big bands. Some of them were playing Coachella, other ones are in Woodstock,” explained Mulrooney, who jumped at the opportunity.
“I wasn’t really nervous, more so excited. Just to get that chance to play,” said Mulrooney, who noted that over 4,000 were in attendance.
Wiritng, preforming, recording, and mixing the music on his own was one challenge, but preforming his music on stage solo would be impossible; He needed a band behind him.
Coincidently, Brett Heistinger, a friend (and neighbour) had a trip scheduled in California for the week of the festival, and joined Mulrooney on stage.
Other positions were filled out by other musicians at the festival.
Mulrooney’s musical path started in the high school, when he began playing guitar after seeing other students perform.
“I picked up the guitar and never stopped,” he said.
He became hooked on nineties alternative bands like Nirvana, hoping one day to be able to play and perform his own music.
“I had no idea what else really kept me going,” he told The Pearl.
“That was my escape. Anytime I was feeling really down I would pick up a guitar and just wouldn’t stop playing. I felt like it was the only way I could do something with my life.”
As for writing the music, the creation of each song is unique.
“There’ll be times when I just sitting down on the couch, strumming along, and think, ‘oh, this is a really cool chord progression,’” he explained.
“A lot of the times I’ll write the instrumental parts first and then I’ll try to figure out the melody, and the lyrics last.
“I think only two times in my life have I ever actually sat down and had the lyrics down first and then tried to put music around it, and I found that really difficult because I was kind of just stuck on the words and I couldn’t think of the music behind it.”
Next comes the actual recording, which Mulrooney does in his Mount Pearl home.
“It could take as little as a couple hours to record a song. Other times, it’ll take me two or three days,” he said.
The process of working solo, Mulrooney said, is totally different then working with a band.
“Those people have their own influence and do things that I would just never think of. Which is really great, but for the most part, I think I like writing music by myself a lot more. I’m definitely in more control,” he explained.
“Recording by yourself, you go your own pace.
“Everything that I want to happen, will happen.”
He told The Pearl that performing at the festival has opened doors for further opportunities, and that he’s received an invitation to play in Seattle, Washington at the Look Up Fest: Mars in September.
“But I’m going to go down a little early and do a tour of that whole area,” he explained.
“A lot of people are excited that I’m going to be in the area and are planning shows for me,” said Mulrooney, who explained that many of those people are connections he made in California.