He charmed with his recent single ‘Evolve’, now Good Luck Shop talks about his forthcoming album and how he created his moniker…
The past few years have been a time of turmoil for Canadian artist Good Luck Shop. The songwriter – better known as Mike McDonnell – found himself caught in an emotional whirlwind following the death of a close friend and the subsequent end of a relationship. In need of an outlet to put focus into, he began to dabble in music again, delving into his present situation and relaying it into delectable electro-pop such as that of his most recent release ‘Evolve’. The experience was cathartic for him and the response from those around him spurred him on. With his forthcoming album Girls, and the Fear of Dying set to be released to the world, McDonnell tells more of how his heartache fuelled his work and his plans for the project in the near future…
We really liked your latest single ‘Evolve’! Can you tell us a little about what went into creating the track?
Thank you! I was in my living room and I had just woken up from being at a very good friend’s funeral the night before. It had been an incredibly emotional situation. I had been trying to take care of him for the past year. He had issues with drugs and alcohol, and didn’t make it through. I was emotionally exhausted and still in disbelief. It had been an incredible whirlwind, and all of a sudden everything seemed to be calm for the first time in a long time.
I picked up my guitar and just played the four chords that make up most of the song. I do generally believe that writing a song takes work and perseverance, but this one was a gift. It just poured out of me, it wrote itself and I really needed it to. In the weeks to come, I showed my friend, musician Andrew Monteiro the song and he came up with a new bridge, which I loved and so we swapped it and completed the song.
There seems to be quite a bit of heartache in the lyrics of ‘Evolve’. Can you share a little more behind the meaning of the track?
I had started dating a girl it was going really well. I had recently gotten out of a long term relationship, and I was just starting to feel like I could love someone again. Timing is everything and when my friend died, I broke up with her. It was hard, because it had nothing to do with her, I just knew that I couldn’t take her on the emotional journey I knew I was headed for. She was really upset and she didn’t understand. ‘Evolve’ is a big picture look on the relationship that couldn’t have been, but that could have been great.
There’s quite an 80s retro pop vibe to the track. Are you a big fan of the era? What is it that you love about it so much?
I am, but I don’t think I realized it until the song was finished. I had always played in bands with groups of people recording with analog instruments. With this project, I teamed up with producer Matt Fudge who really encouraged me to write the album solo, and to record the songs digitally. Matt designs plugins for computer software companies and we swapped out all the original sounds for custom ones that he had designed. We arrived on the 80s sound very naturally and went with it.
Are there any artists that you have loved over the years that you think have had any influence on the sound of Good Luck Shop?
Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required was a big album for me. It never related to anything I had ever done before in music projects, it was the album I listened on the way to school every morning. I think that it was that influence that shaped the sound of this song.
Sonically, ‘Evolve’ has a more expansive sound than that of your previous single ‘Far’, which has more of a groove. Have you been experimenting with your songwriting?
I think ‘Evolve’ was a lightbulb moment where I really learned about the power of “less is more”. The song is really four, two note chords. I just started layering keyboards with euphoric sounds and I stopped once the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I really tried not to get in the way of the melody and just worked.
What do you have planned for Good Luck Shop as a project?
I’m currently putting a live band together, and we’re taking it slow. The goal is to begin playing shows in 2018, once we are solid and very comfortable with the songs and each other. I will continue to release songs as singles along with a companion music video. The ‘Evolve’ video will be out in a couple weeks so stay tuned. Whether or not people will take to this project is out of my hands. I want to put out quality work and make sure to fulfill my creativity.
What made you decide upon the moniker “Good Luck Shop”?
I played in a band for ten years starting from the age of 15. Everything was incredibly serious and we had a manager that berated us. It became torturous. I started to experience panic attacks and the band turned in on itself and we became really nasty to each other. It was a mess. When the band broke up, it was very dark. I didn’t want my musical journey to end on such a sour note.
My brother was putting on a concert and he need a middle act, so I took it. I didn’t have enough songs written, or the band for that matter. I knew that I had to do something, so I asked some friends to flesh out a band, and I got to work writing and finishing songs so I could pull this off. I was sitting on a balcony in Kensington Market in Toronto with my brother and friend, and I told them that I would call the project “Mike McDonnell”. In case the band was bad and we failed, I could take all the heat and responsibility for it. As a joke, I said, “Or I’ll just call the project Good Luck Shop”, which was the name of the then convenience store across the street. The two of them looked at each other and told me the actually really liked that idea. I knew enough from my experience with projects that if a name works, go for it.
You have announced your forthcoming debut album Girls, and the Fear of Dying to be released in the near future. With a title like that, what can viewers expect from the album?
I was at a party and a friend asked me what the album was about. I flippantly responded, “you know, girls, and the fearof dying”. It’s hard to answer questions like that, but when I said it I realized that it really did encapsulate what the collection of songs was about. The album is a coming of realization for me and a graduation from adolescence. Learning what love and life are.
You are a Canadian artist and Canada is brim-full of exciting artists! What do you think is the best thing about the Canadian music scene?
For me, I was always told that the Canadian music scene was tough and really hard. That the only way to succeed is to move to the United States. I was told time and time again that it was impossible to succeed in Canada, and that has totally been proven wrong especially in the last five years. Artists like July Talk, Pup, Ivory Hours, and Ryland James are proving that to be absolutely wrong and it’s inspiring to watch Canadian music fans get behind there home grown artists. And then on the global scale, the biggest artists in the world seem to all be from Canada (Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, The Weeknd, Arcade Fire) so it really proves that anything is possible.
What else have you been up to lately?
I’ve recently started a podcast called All About The Song (www.allaboutthesongpodcast.com). It’s discusses with songwriters and musicians, what they have done, what they do, and why they are doing it. There are so many things a musical artist has to do to succeed in 2017, and I began to feel that the actual music was becoming an afterthought. I wanted to give artists an opportunity to discuss what it is they are really doing (and give them a good piece of content for their social media too)!
‘Evolve’ by Good Luck Shop is available now.