LA-based trio Cannons are over a decade into their career – and have no plans of slowing down. With members consisting of vocalist Michelle Joy, guitarist Ryan Clapham, and keyboardist/drummer Paul Davis, Cannons has perfected their dreamy, signature electro-funk sound. Their dreamscape-esque music has garnered them a fanbase of passionate listeners across the globe, showcased by sold out shows throughout the recent European leg of their tour. With a slew of upcoming festival slots & more headlining shows in the States throughout the spring, this is an exciting time for the band. 

Cannons’ most recent record, Heartbeat Highway, was released near the end of last year. With romantic lyrical themes and 80’s-inspired drum patterns, it’s the perfect album for a late-night drive. Within the same realm of the signature Cannon’s sound that fans love, it has a softer, more whimsical feel. Heartbeat Highway follows 2022’s Fever Dream, an album that has since amassed over 150 million streams. 

While Cannons’ discography has something for everyone, there is one song that specifically struck a chord with fans: 2019’s “Fire For You.” Featured in the hit Netflix show Never Have I Ever, “Fire For You” became a cherished classic several years after its initial release. With over 150 million streams, “Fire For You” is an undeniable fan favorite, and has taken on a life of its own.

Ahead of their sold-out London show at Heaven, Cannons sits down with 1883 to chat a bit about the tour, the record, and all of the exciting things that are to come with this era of the band. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, I know it’s a busy day for you all! I just have some questions about the tour, the album, and everything going on with the band right now. Tonight is your London show, closing out the European leg of the tour. How are you feeling about it, what are the emotions you’re experiencing right now?

Michelle Joy: Super excited. I’m just super excited to get up there and play, and see the vibe for tonight! We’ve never played here before.

Ryan Clapham: It’ll be awesome. I think this is going to be our biggest show in Europe. Really looking forward to it, it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully, everybody sings along and dances, and we have a good time.

Absolutely. This is your first time touring in Europe, what has that experience been like compared to touring in the U.S.?

MJ: It’s been really cool to get outside the U.S. We’ve done quite a few U.S. tours, and for me personally, I’ve never even been to Europe. This was such an exciting experience for me, everything has been super new. Very surreal to come so far away from home, and see the faces of people that have been listening to us for a long time, and how excited they are to see us. Singing along. Just feel the excitement.

RC: Music connects everybody, it’s like all these language barriers don’t mean a thing. Everyone’s in the same room, singing and dancing along, it’s really beautiful.

It’s all about energy.

RC: It really is!

When it comes to your live show, what makes it so special for you? Do you have a particular song or moment in the show you look forward to?

Paul Davis: I think “Hurricane” is always a crowd-pleaser.

MJ: I’m changing it up now, I’m really loving playing “Desire.” I feel like everyone kind of goes wild for that song now.

For sure. Your most recent album came out towards the end of last year, how are you feeling about the fan response and reception now? Especially after getting to play these songs live in front of an audience?

MJ: I feel like it’s been really good. I feel like everyone’s been loving each of them. Getting an all around good response. We added one or two from the album to our recent set, and we’ve been getting a great response from the audience, having a lot of fun playing the songs live. 

RC: I feel like we’re the type of band that’s gaining a true, honest fanbase. We always try to write music that comes from the heart and is something we would listen to, and I think that kind of resonates with people. We aren’t just dropping singles, or a song for a moment or trend. It’s nice to be able to build a solid fanbase. Even “Fire For You,” we put that out a while ago but it’s still, no pun intended, a slow burn. It’s still burning.

I was actually going to ask about your fanbase! You have been a band for over a decade now, how do you feel your relationship with your audience/fanbase has evolved over time?

MJ: One cool thing about the last couple of tours we did was that we did meet and greets, so we got to meet a lot of our fans face to face. A lot of our really dedicated fans. We got to hear about how much our music impacted them, and also just get to know how much we have in common with them. There’s been a big sense of connection that we’ve felt with our fans, especially just over the past year of touring. Meeting them face to face, hearing their stories, hearing how they relate to our music, the music that they listen to… they’re just a lot like us. It feels like they’re reflections of us in different ways, which is really cool.

RC: Also, the age range at our shows. There are like, 5-year-olds and 80-year-olds, it’s really cool.

Cannons is universal, I love it!

RC: We love it! It’s great.

Back to talking about the record a bit, could you tell me about the creative process for Heartbeat Highway? How did it compare to the process of Fever Dream?

MJ: Fever Dream was written during the pandemic, so that was a whole experience in itself. That’s even where the title came from. We met up quite a few times to work on it and stuff, but we were mostly in our little zones, because everyone was supposed to be separated. But we continued writing, because that’s how we started anyways, writing from home, sending files and stuff. That album was a lot of that. Heartbeat Highway was an album we wrote while we were touring, and those experiences just seeped into the music. That would be the major differences, just major life changes that I think you can hear in the lyrics and tones.

Definitely, the world was a totally different place during each creation process.

MJ: Exactly. 

I love the road trip aesthetic for the Heartbeat Highway visuals, can you tell me a bit about the theming and aesthetics for the album?

MJ: A lot of our fans have told us that our music is something they love driving to at night, it’s just a nice vibe. We decided to put them in a car for the Youtube video! Let them drive around with Cannons music playing.

I love it! So, you all have been making music together for over 10 years now. When it comes to your creative process, do you feel that it has evolved? Have you taken on different roles over time, or has your creative process remained mostly the same?

PD: I feel like it’s the same kind of roles. I think that’s important.

MJ: We know what we’re really good at, and it’s been each of us refining, and trying to be the best at what we bring.

PD: That’s a good way to put it. 

Definitely. How do you feel that your sound as a band has evolved throughout the years?

MJ: I feel like we’re always trying to try new sounds and experiments. That’s what keeps making music interesting for us.

RC: 100%. We like what we like, but I think it’s fun to take a chance and try a new sound. Something that still makes it sound like us, not straying too far away from our sound. Something to keep it interesting still.

Totally, staying within a realm. Where do you find creative inspiration currently?

MJ: A little bit of everything.

RC: A little bit of everything, yeah. 

PD: Movies, music, books.

MJ: I have a disaster of notes in my phone. If I’m walking down the street and I see a word that’s cool, or if I hear somebody say something that sounds cool, or I see a line in something I’m reading. The way words flow together, or an idea, I’ll just put in my phone, and whenever we meet up, look through things and try to see if anything sparks anything. Put stuff together like a puzzle.

With this latest record, do you have a favourite memory from the creative process? Is there a particular session or moment that stands out?

PD: I liked working with this gentleman called Max Collins, who’s the singer of Eve 6. He helped co write “Heartbeat Highway.” He was really fun to work with.

MJ: That was fun. We wrote that one in Paul’s studio, which is always a second home place for us. 

PD: Yeah, that was mine. That was really great.

RC: That was mine too.

PD: We were new to the whole co-write thing, and he just made it a really easy, obviously memorable experience. I think his contribution to the lyrics was really great.

MJ: I would say, too, we flew out to Nashville to work with Mike Elizondo. That was really fun because we got to spend some time in Nashville. Between writing sessions, we rode scooters! His studio was really cool, it was cool to be in a massive studio and listen to our music on his setup. Exploring different studios was something we’d never done, so it was cool to do together.

Definitely! Shifting gears a bit, as you touched on earlier, your song “Fire For You” has taken on almost a life of it’s own, resonating with tons of people. Did you have any inkling that that song would be huge, or was the reception a total surprise?

MJ: I did not have an inkling, I had no idea. Because it took two years! Two years before it was used, and people heard it. Then, that fire really ignited.

RC: I think when we put that particular album out, we had intent on a completely different song for the single. We made a music video for a song called “Talk Talk,” which is on the album. We had no idea that “Fire For You” would blow up the way that it did. But we’re happy!

MJ: It really resonated.

Is that one really fun to perform every night?

RC: It’s a blast, it’s great. Crowd pleaser.

Absolutely. Upcoming, you’re heading back to the U.S. for some more tour dates, and then playing a string of festivals this summer. I’m from Chicago, so I just saw that Lollapalooza lineup drop today! Super exciting for you guys. What are you most excited about when it comes to playing festivals?

MJ: I’m excited to go back to Lollapalooza! That was our first festival, in 2021, when everything opened up. We had never even played a festival before that.

PD: It was our first show with over 200 people. We went from playing for 200 people to 1,000 people.

MJ: I just want to go into that experience again with all of the experience we’ve had over the past couple of years. Full circle.

That’ll be such a cool full circle moment, to go back with lots of new music too! To wrap up today, is there anything you can share about upcoming projects for this year?

MJ: We’re currently working on new music, and we’re playing a lot of festivals this year. We have a music video coming out soon. That’s what we’ve got on the plate!

Interview Brigid Young

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