They acknowledge themselves that they've "grown very slowly in their six years as a band," but Canadian dream-pop band Young Galaxy are finally coming into their own as a band. 2011's Shapreshifting seemed to light a fire under them, and their new record is arguably their most confident and assured set of songs yet. Ultramarine was released over here on Monday, and Gareth O'Malley got the chance to ask lead vocalist Catherine McCandless some questions about the record.

She takes stock of where the band are and where they're going, also discussing recording habits and the new band formation, among other things.

Hello! So the new record's just come out in the US & Canada, and it arrives in the UK next week - how are you feeling at the moment?

Oh fine, sleepy mostly – not much has changed around here, it's the early days of the release so we don't have much of a sense of what is happening. There's a lot of online chatter, but I don't read the press or have a Facebook or Twitter account or anything - I like to tune that stuff out. I'm excited to start touring the album next month, that's when you get a real sense of the impact it's having.

What have you gotten to do with the band that you never thought you would?

I think playing far from home is always exciting, but one memory comes to mind - a year and a half ago we played Iceland's Airwaves festival and we brought our infant son along. We have pictures of us floating around in the milky blue hot springs with him wearing his wool pants on his head to keep him warm… it was a surreal moment, finding myself as a mother and musician in the alien landscape of those hot springs - it's a moment you couldn't have dreamt up beforehand. That is an enduring memory for sure.

You all went to Gothenburg to record the new album - how was your time in Sweden?

It was great. Gothenburg is very like Montreal – except they speak better English in Sweden, haha. It's a very liveable city: it has lots of parks, galleries, coffeehouses, gardens, bikes and patios… it's also on the ocean which is a bonus. We were there at the very beginning of summer – the good weather had just settled in and everyone was emerging from hibernation. It felt very much like Montreal in this way too, there is something about places with long winters that become very vibrant in good weather. They practically hum with all the pent up energy from winter being released.

Being with Dan Lissvik on his home turf also meant we were given an insider's perspective of the city. It was nice to be taken to the spots locals go and meet the community of artists he knows there. Gothenburg seems laid back and close knit - it's a cosy city.

YG also recorded Ultramarine as a band, instead of sending over parts via email like you did for Shapeshifting; how different was that for you, and would you like to do that again for the next album?

We tend to never do the same thing twice, so it might be nice to try to continue the Ultramarine process with Dan for continuity's sake. I think it's on the table, though as we were finishing the album we agreed we shouldn't do it ever again, haha. But it's definitely a preferable way to work - it's so much more tactile than hanging out on Skype making the record. There was real chemistry. If someone said we could do a session like the Ultramarine session again, I'd say yes in a heartbeat. It was the most positive experience I've had recording an album to date.

So you've got a headline gig in Paris, and then you've got a run of dates around Germany supporting CHVRCHES (as well as a gig at Birthdays in London) - are you excited to bring Ultramarine on tour with you?

Yes – as I said before, this is how we can really gauge the effect the album is having on the world. We need to interact with an audience, this exchange has such an impact on how a band grows and progresses. We almost forgot what it's like, having spent the better part of 2012 holed-up making and preparing the record. We've waited long enough to play these songs live now. We're excited.

Is there any difference between how you're perceived in Canada and the US, and over in Europe, or a different atmosphere to gigs? Or, well, have you even noticed?

Frankly, we've grown very slowly in our six years as a band, and we've never had a full line-up that's lasted as long as our current line-up, so it is very hard to ascertain how we are perceived anywhere. Our process has been convoluted, to say the least… I have the sense that peoples' impressions of the band are only now coming into focus – we feel no shame in having learned how to be a band in public.

It wasn't easy, having to make major adjustments along the way that everyone could see. I think it may have confused people – it's possible that our core audience has shifted entirely from album one to album four. But let's not kid ourselves – we barely had an audience by album two, so how could a radical right turn creatively lose a non-existent audience? We felt like we had nothing to lose creatively. This was a watershed moment for us – suddenly, we felt like we could make every kind of music.

I think that is one of the things that makes us interesting - that our process is laid bare and that we have embraced it as a major part of how we present ourselves. Bands are terrified of this idea now – 'but what about your brand??' Fuck the brand. Know thyself through your process – this takes a lot of hard work to master. Take risks, challenge yourself and your audience along the way – this isn't a rehearsal, do it messily and with joy and without shame!

The industry refuses to develop acts now – it's up to the acts themselves. We knew this by 2009, before anyone ever heard of us – we left our old label and realized that nobody gave a shit, and if we were going to survive we better start making some bold artistic statements. It's not as sexy as the next-big-thing approach maybe, where a band just materializes out of nothing in perfect form on album one. But, good luck with that anyway; how many people are still waiting for the next Arcade Fire? It's not happening. And because of all the stock put in this next-big-thing approach, the industry is fucked. It's all backwards. Good bands with real substance have to claw their way into existence. We hope the secret to our appeal lies in our process, and how it reflects something true-to-life – that it's been messy and imperfect and honest, and that people love us more as a result.

What was it like taking over lead vocals for the band? What prompted the change? Did Stephen [Ramsay] feel that your voice suited the new songs more than his?

I was apprehensive at first, because I didn't want Stephen to stop singing - I felt like his voice was one of the hallmarks of the band's sound. But it really came down to him convincing me that he didn't care about being a primary vocalist anymore, as his interest turned more to the writing and arrangements of the songs. He knew that singing is a true passion for me, it's changed my life - so we finally agreed that I would sing all the songs on this album. This came up before we'd even written much of the record, so the material was shaped with the idea that I would be singing it all.

Which of the songs on Ultramarine is your favourite, and why?

'Hard To Tell' is very personal to me, so I naturally gravitate to that one… it's a simple love song married to swooning production. I also like 'Privileged Poor' for different reasons, it's more indicative of where our sound is headed I think. It has an extra-visceral quality that I love. It's always hard singling out songs on the record - I have a special relationship with all of them.

There's a vibrant music scene in Canada in general, but do you have a favourite homegrown band?

Right now I like Jacques Green and Daniel Romano. You can't really get further apart than that musically, haha.

Finally, I would imagine you're neck-deep in rehearsing for the tour right now, but have you been listening to any new music when not busy with the band?

I've been checking out the new The Knife album and Planningtorock's Misogyny Drop Dead EP. I was also recently introduced to Jagwar Ma, I love their song 'The Throw'.


Ultramarine is out now on Paper Bag Records.