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BOTW Moodboard: Mas Ysa

When it comes to the story behind Mas Ysa‘s Thomas Arsenault, the press have been quick to jump on the nomadic angle behind the songwriter and producer’s history, and in many ways you can’t blame them: the Woodstock-based musician grew up in Montreal, before spending his adolescence in Brazil and going on to live in both San Francisco and New York, the latter of which saw him flat-sharing with Laurel Halo.

But, while he’s been quick to assert that he’s not nomadic – referring to himself as a ‘nester’ in our interview yesterday – surely the sights and sounds he’s seen on his travels have fed into his output as Mas Ysa? With his Worth EP seeing release this week, Arsenault talks us through the cultural moments that have most inspired his confessional electronica.

First though, here’s the explosive, ‘Why’:

The Wind in the Willows

“This is a random clip from the show. I recently downloaded a full season. I like the rate of information – slow. I like the physicality, the detail. I like the opening and closing credits. Mostly still images. I’ve been mining all the shots where no characters appear. It is very comforting, post-bender, stuck in bed material.”

Terence McKenna

“The most quotable, funniest, loving, insightful, fringe-o historian/ethno-botanist/person. If I was never introduced to this voice, I don’t know who I would be… A major loss. I would love to know what he thinks about where we are now. Granted the value of some of it can be reduced from science to poetry, but that is not really a reduction at all.”

Love Liza, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

“I don’t want to leave a clip. Because I’m going to watch it again. I don’t remember specifics very clearly, but i remember being so tunnel-visioned into Hoffman’s character, literally gripped. And sad and proud and pent up with a big sobbing hug for people in general. I’m sorry to see him go but thankful for what he left us with.”

Sinead O’Connor – ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’

“With only the intention of keeping things going, I have unintentionally cleared many a late-night blurry dance party with this one. Easily my most listened to tune of 2013.”
“A fellow named Peter Blasser’s company. Someone I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and looking up to. I play a few of his instruments. To my luck, his influence/instruments and Terence Mckenna entered my life around the same time. Good timing, lucky me.”

Gaspé, Quebec
“Where my father’s parents are from. I went as a child. It is definitely calling me. Which is one cliché I have never felt before.”

2 Songs with the Words ‘Home’, ‘Heart’ and ‘House

“My friend Johnny played me this Dixie Chicks song today without telling me who it was; I like being shown music by the people who love it. The Dixie Chicks chorus is beautiful. The Broken Social Scene song opens into a mansion. That makes me think of this exhibit actually, which was amazing.

When I was a teenager, and it’s normal i think, I was listening with all the cultural baggage and associations attached to someone’s music. I much prefer the extra-information-and-extra-media-less-ness that I have come to listen to music with. The cult of identity and full coverage of an artist has only been enriching when I sought it, and actually not usually then even. I prefer when that doesn’t arrive with the sound.”


“Dutch-E-Germ and bEEdEEgEE (drums & bass in Cranium) – also founding members of Gang Gang Dance – on tour in Atlanta, 1997. I love the conviction and energy of the vocalist. I never saw them play but it’s empowering to see the purpose and rigor they are making their music with now, then.”

12 O’Clock Boys

“Such a good film. I can’t wait to watch it again in 20 years. I can feel it aging beautifully.”

- Alex Cull

The Worth EP is available now on Downtown Records.

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