Originally published on the Global Rockstar Magazine on 06.09.2015
Instrument: Lead vocals, piano, composing
Genre: Modern rock
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, currently living in Vancouver
We invited Murray Yates, from Canada, to join Global Rockstar United and represent North America. Murray is the mastermind of the band Forty Foot Echo, who landed 3rd place in the Canadian pre-selection of Global Rockstar 2014.
Forty Foot Echo goes a long way back. It was formed by Murray in 2001 and signed by a major label in Los Angeles, California. Their debut self-titled album includes the hit single Brand New Day and went on to be used in feature films, such as Freaky Friday and The Prince and Me, as well as appearing on episodes of network television series One Tree Hill. In 2004 the band and the record company ended their relationship and the band went its separate way.
Undaunted, Murray hired a new band in 2007 and recorded a second album entitled Aftershock under his own record label, Echoman Records. Unfortunately, the second album never saw the success of the first, and Murray withdrew from the music scene. He continued to write songs, and explore his musical passion and curiosity. He began experimenting with different writing styles, expanding to write for other artists, all the while honing his skills as a recording engineer and producer.
Murray is an experienced musician and producer, compared to most of the other Global Rockstar United artists you may think he’s had it all! Still he accepted to come to Vienna to meet some strangers and make music from a new perspective. That’s what we call a real musician! We were very lucky to have him onboard.In 2012, he decided to re-record Brand New Day, with subtle modifications to the song and included it on a re-mastered release of Aftershock along with a second additional song, Comin’ On Strong. In 2013, Murray recorded a third album and also the most aggressive, Returning, funded by his fan base. A new line-up of Forty Foot Echo was built around original band members with new contributions. Forty Foot Echo’s newest music is the EP Takeback Revolution.
When and why did you start making music?
I was a kid, maybe 6 years old, and my parents sent me to piano lessons. It was evident from the beginning that I was very talented on the piano and the teacher soon told my parents I was too good for the class! At 14 I attended two years of conservatory. Around 16 I discovered singing. I had a cover band with some friends where I played the piano and sang harmonies. One day the other band members heard me sing lead vocals by chance and made me lead singer. Around that time I also started composing.
I define myself a singer now, not a pianist.
What was your first ever job?
A Canadian cliché: flipping burgers! That’s how I paid for my first demo, by the way.
How did you earn your first money as a musician?
In a scummy bar back in Calgary. I was actually too young to be there and had to be escorted in and out.
Live or studio, what suits you best?
It has always been live. Now, after many years on tour, I feel I need to go back to the studio and compose. It’s time to focus on repertoire and also, probably, to bring structure to my days.
Your favorite part of a music production
Production. Since the last 3 to 4 years I really enjoy mixing, maybe also because it’s the newest task I took upon me. At mixing everything comes together, it’s the moment when I finally have the validation of the work that happened before. It’s like cooking, first you think of a recipe and prepare all your ingredients. Mixing is when you throw everything in the pan and you can finally taste the dish.
The lowest moment of your career
I voluntarily left my label in Los Angeles in 2004 and didn’t immediately realize that I couldn’t live in the USA anymore. I ended up being deported back to Canada and was forced to leave all my friends behind. It broke my heart.
The highest moment of your career so far
Walking the red carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles (where all the big premieres take place) with Linsday Lohan at the Freaky Friday premiere. I wrote the soundtrack and it was a beautiful feeling to see the people in the cinema – all big names and professionals – listening intently to my music.
Your idea of a perfect gig
A perfect gig is when we deliver a perfect show, when the band plays amazingly in tact and we take the audience to another level. No matter how big or full the room is.
Your idea of a disastrous gig
We opened for a band once that was way too heavy for us. We could see from the stage that the audience was unhappy but there wasn’t much we could do. A mismatched show is a recipe for disaster, although it is seldom the bands fault and more the managements.
Your favorite outfit for a gig
Your favorite music instrument besides yours
The cello. And this will probably get me in trouble with my girlfriend – she’s a violinist!
The most musical natural sound
The wind blowing through leaves. I’m so Canadian!
The perfect foreign language to sing
I’ve produced many Spanish-speaking artists and I love how passionate lyrics sound in Spanish.
Which works are you most proud of?
My first album Forty Foot Echo. The songs are all from a pre-signed time where I was able to completely and solely focus on it. Later came the “distractions”, like tours, networking and many others. I was able to pour my blood, my sweat and my tears in my first album. In those songs I put everything I couldn’t say in words. Or maybe the things I was too afraid to say out loud.
What is the most important skill required – besides talent – to become a successful musician?
What keeps you up at night with regard to your music career?
I used to worry that I may have to give up true love to be a rock star. In this business it is very difficult to meet new people who are really interested in who you are and not only in what you do. I remember the moment I got a gold record in the USA and I had nobody to call to share the joy. It didn’t feel right. I found true love later, though, after I left the label.
The best concert you’ve seen in audience
Billy Idol. And he was my idol, no kidding, he inspired me to become a musician.
The most beautiful album cover ever?
Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop by Stone Temple Pilots.
The last track you listened to?
Pink Floyd, The Wall.
The last single/EP/album you bought?
Superunknown, by Soundgarden.
Describe your music
Emotionally driven hard rock.