As a listener, music has a way of connecting you to emotions you know you’re going through or even envision what it’s like to go through said emotions. As an artist however, peeling back those layers and deciding to share them with the world is a truly intimate thing to do. Enter Reno McCarthy, a Montréal-based artist who released his debut album: Counterglow, just last month. Here, Reno musicalises a 5-year period in his life and takes you on a journey through themes of fear and anxiety he felt during that time. Described as a “coming of age” record, we’re happy to have sat down to Reno to chat through exactly how he feels about this project.
Congrats on the release of your debut album “Counterglow”. How do you feel now that it’s out?
Relieved, and more proud than I thought I would be. I’m used to feeling dissatisfied, or negative or overly cautious about excessive happiness. But right now I just feel proud. So much time and effort went into this, I can finally hold it in my hand, I can share it with people, I now have tangible, physical outlets for Counterglow. It finally has a place in the universe. This makes me happy.
In a recent Instagram post promo’ing the album, you say “these songs are now out in the universe, they’ve left the nest, they can now have a go at a life of their own.” — what did you mean by this?
I believe that a song only truly becomes a song once it’s out. Kinda like how when a tree falls in some remote forest and no one’s there to hear it, it doesn’t actually make a sound. Sound happens in the ear of the listener. To me, it’s like the songs have only begun existing now.
This album is also a snapshot in time of your life (6 years to be exact); do you feel a weight has been lifted now that you’ve released it?
Absolutely. I’ve been playing some of these songs for years, so in a way it feels like a celebration of that coming of age. It’s almost like an end more so than a beginning. As I’ve said, I’m just happy that everything is out and finally exists.
The melodies of your songs are quite upbeat and happy yet you’ve commented that the main theme of the album is “fear” — was this juxtaposition intentional?
(And tell us more about what you mean by fear as in, fear of what?)
Yes, in a way. I see songwriting as some kind of big Charlie Chaplin-esque factory machine in which you put a bunch of your feelings and thoughts and dreams, however melancholy or dark they may be, and out of it comes something that can elevate people and bring positive energy to the world. That’s very important to me. I don’t want to be a downer, but I also want to be honest about my own life and emotions.
At a certain point, fear becomes about fear itself. Things trigger anxiety, obviously. It’s not self-generating, but it is self-sustaining. Once the process has been established, it’s very hard to let go of. It’s like a door that you open in your mind, and even if you manage to close it, you still know it’s there and it could always open.
You’ll be touring this album this summer — what are you most looking forward to when performing live?
Seeing people’s faces, hearing people sing. Sharing wonderful evenings with other fellow human beings.
Finally as an artist, when do you think you will have reached success?
Personally, I’d like to be able to keep releasing records and tour steadily, sustainably and comfortably. But I believe in these songs so much, I couldn’t help but be disappointed if they didn’t reach as many people as possible. And knowing myself, I’ll always be somewhat dissatisfied.
Thanks to Reno for taking the time to answer these questions and give us truly introspective answers. Listen to his album on Spotify. And be sure to check him out on his socials: