Jade Bergeron, a.k.a. Flying Hórses, has done things that few artists in Ottawa/Montreal have done before. Her 2015 album Tölt was recorded in Iceland at Sundlaugin Studio with the help of producer Birgir (Biggi) Jón Birgisson of Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós. The album is, as far as we’re concerned, a masterpiece in its own right (read our piece on it here). The emotional, cinematic soundscapes crafted by Bergeron are moving instrumental pieces, and a few of the songs –”Tölt” and “Attic” – have recently been made into music videos.
We caught up with Bergeron and spoke with about her recent endeavours, and her new videos for “Tölt” and “Attic” can be seen below. Be sure to catch Flying Hórses’ JUNOfest performance on Saturday, April 1 starting at 8pm at St. Alban’s Church along with Her Harbour, Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene), and Pugs and Crows and Tony Wilson.
What have you been up to since returning from Iceland? Can you talk a bit about your involvement with Banff Centre?
I’ve been pretty busy. I got back from Iceland just in time to perform my first two solo-piano concerts as part of the Festival de Jazz de Montreal. I spent the summer writing new material and collaborating with videographers.
I was invited to go work over at The Banff Centre in the fall. Waking up every morning to clean, fresh air, in the middle of the mountains, and to be surrounded by talented, inspiring artists was so amazing. I had my own studio, with a grand piano, harpsichord, vibraphone and a few percussive instruments. The other musicians in my residency we’re singer/songwriters and we’re working on two or three shorter songs, but I decided when I got there that I was going to compose one, longer instrumental, movement. I had written a small part of the new track over in Iceland but the entire rest of the movement happened really organically during my first week in Banff.
Being back in nature, really brought the song to life. I had heard about the residency through Charles actually, and being a fan of his post-rock band DO MAKE SAY THINK and of his work in general, I applied. I guess both himself and Brendan Canning thought I would be a good fit for the residency. I ended up meeting a classical guitarist and experimental cellist, Alex Mah out there, who was there working with Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and after hearing him play, invited him to record cello on my new piece. Charles played horns and a few other musicians also contributed to the movement.
I wanted the entire recording experience to feel organic, and stress-free. The new movement was mixed by Efrim (Godspeed You! Black Emperor over at Hotel 2 Tango in Montreal and I just got the master back from Biggi (Sigur Ros) in Iceland. It’s a pretty heavy listen, but it’s colourful and it represents a really important recent time in my life. We are shooting a short film/video for the single right now in Iceland. I’m very excited about the whole thing. It’s going to feature a very well-known actor/model in the Icelandic community, so I’m really glad to be working with this team, overseas. The new movement and video should hopefully be out in the spring.
The video for Tölt is a beautifully crafted, yet tragic story of two young people alienated from the world in different ways. Why were children the subjects? Can you expand on the concept?
I wrote ‘Tölt’ during a time of reflection on my own childhood. The entire record ended up feeling/sounding like a soundtrack to the past. I used a lot of instrumentation that represented the innocence of being young and wide-eyed. When Alex approached me with the idea of making a video/short film for that particular track, he already had a lot of great conceptual ideas, and before even bringing up what the track represented to me, he was already story boarding about a childhood trauma. We connected on the video, immediately.
My contribution to the video was limited. Once Alex and I went over the storyboard together, he began casting calls for the actors, and it wasn’t long before they them. Production spent some time in the fall working on production and the post-production happened in the winter. The whole process was really amazing. Both young actors really did a great job, and I’m so grateful for the level of professionalism the entire team demonstrated throughout. It’s been an honour working with all of them.
What does the piano mean to you? How has music helped you through past struggles and traumas?
My relationship with the piano has been a roller coaster since I was a kid. I’ve tried my hand at a few different instruments over the years, but my heart has always lead me back to the piano. It feels the most organic. I enjoy having the keys right there in front of me, I’m a very visual person. I really have no idea what I was doing with my life, before writing and composing music, and I don’t know what I would do without it.
Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming video for attic? Will it be related to the story in Tölt?
Attic was produced by Antoine S. Legault from Lonely Fire Productions. The song is one of the last tracks on the record. I never really intended for it to end up there, actually. It’s quite dark, heavy and creepy and I think is a transition between the really optimist, innocent, lullaby songs that start off the album, and the new single I’ll be releasing sometime in the spring. I wrote it while I was reflecting on memories (much like Tolt). The video opportunity came about organically, this past winter. I sat down with Antoine back in December and we talked about making this short film/video that was kind of dark, creepy and mysterious. Coming out of a bit of heaviness myself, I decided to focus the story on loss and melancholy. Antoine came up with the storyboard and we shot the video in one afternoon in an abandoned house. It was freezing cold and creepy, but it was a really awesome experience.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Juno festivities taking place in Ottawa?
I don’t perform very often. In fact I pretty much only played festivals last year. My focus has mostly been on writing new material, and catching up on the release of the record. Junofest asked me to perform as part of the only ‘instrumental/experimental’ showcase for the festival. It will be fun to share the stage with Charles Spearin again, and a good friend of mine Her Harbour is playing too. It’ll be nice to see so many great musicians roaming around Ottawa for The Juno’s.
Ottawa’s droney post-punk outfit Expanda Fuzz has released a new video for their single “Sonic Halo.” The track appears on bandcamp along with a cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” in the wake of founding member Maurice White’s death last year.
The track is a minimalist psychedelic trip, with rolling percussion, a fuzzy lead guitar part, and mesmerizing vocals by Niki. The video’s aesthetic is dark and ominous, taking place in a remote field at dusk and featuring characters with strange masks and costumes. The video is not as dark and creepy as their video for “Flavour: Zombie” released last year, and it also contains beautiful colours of the sunset. However, the smoke-breathing Grim Reaper-type character also leaves the viewer with chills down the spine, and it’s not the kind of figure you’d want to run into on a dark, empty farm.
Although the song is just over two minutes long, it’s great to see a video being made that perfectly suits the sound of Expanda Fuzz. This song could have easily been incorporated into season one of True Detective, or even Apocalypse Now. The video accurately reflects that kind of imaginary trip into the darkness.
Expanda Fuzz is playing JUNOfest March 31st with Dilly Dally, No Fuss, and The Dirty Nil at House of TARG. Ticket and wristband information can be found here.
Caylie Runciman a.k.a Boyhood has released a new video for “Drivin’,” the first single off her upcoming album Bad Mantras.
Bad Mantras will be the first full length by Boyhood since 2012’s acclaimed album When I’m Hungry. While the details of the new album are not yet known, “Drivin'” is a good snippet for those of us frothing at the mouth for more.
The majority of the video is set – you guessed it – in a car. Runciman cruises through icy streets of Hull on a cold Canadian winter’s night. The dreary, black and white shots are telling of the solitude that many of us feel during the long winters in the Great White North. Alone in her car, she sings and she cruises. The destination is unknown.
“Drivin'” was filmed by Ottawa videographer Travis Boisvenue, who has worked with Boyhood in the past, and has also shot music videos for The Yips, Bondar, The Acorn, Pregnancy Scares, Alaskan, and Steve Adamyk Band.
“The video is something Travis and I threw together pretty quickly, as is usually the case when we work together. I drove in to grab him and we headed to Hull in the cold,” explains Runciman.
The track has a classic feel to it, and her effortless vocals flutter melodically throughout the whole song. The distinctive heavy bass that we have come to love in Boyhood songs is the backbone, a gritty pillar for us to groove with. As it carries on, the track grows in intensity with more guitars and keys offering a heavy foot to put that pedal to the floor. Clocking in at just over 3 minutes, the song fades out just as a car would fade into the distance as it drives away.
“The song is fun and pretty positive in comparison to the rest of the album, which focuses mostly on the dark place I was in this past year,” says Runciman. “Drivin’ was written about a month ago and is more a testament to where I’m at now. The second single will be out soon! Just getting to work on the video. I can’t wait to release the album.”
With much anticipation, we wait for more material from Bad Mantras to be released over the coming months. Watch the video for “Drivin'” below.
The Steve Adamyk Band recently release a dark video for their ripping track “Swallow You Whole.”
The video kicks off with a girl waking up and making herself a hotdog for breakfast, topped with sauerkraut – like a champ! The video then follows the story of this girl who seems pretty low on life and goes around holding up corner stores and liquor stores, only to then end up in a cemetery gazing up at the sky singing “swallow you whole.”
I really like the work they put into the ending with the changing colours and the utter despair on the face. And this pull it all off in just over two minutes. Oh the beauty of punk rock and Steve Adamyk Band. Overall it is a pretty cool shot video for a great track.
While not video related, I do have to say that I love Mike Krol‘s voice! I have been saying how perfectly it fits on this track since the first time I heard it.
Check out the video below and then go see Steve Adamyk Band headline a MEGAPHONO show Thursday February 2nd at the Dominion Tavern, which feels very appropriate. Information here for the show.
Malak Ghanem – as a musician, simply known as Malak – has one of the most powerful and impressive voices I have heard in all my years of going to concerts in Ottawa. And now with the new video for her song “Mannequin,” she has some dazzling visuals to accompany it.
Much of the video is shot in the picturesque fall setting of Gatineau Park, specifically at the beautiful Carbide Willson Ruins. If you have never hiked there, I strongly recommend making the trip any time of year. It is one of the many hidden treasures of the Ottawa-Gatineau region.
As the song progresses, the video jumps from dance-inspired chase scenes as a man chases Malak throughout the ruins, to shots of Malak standing in front of ruins and waterfall belting out the song like only she can. “Mannequin” is the first song on Malak’s debut EP Circus which was released last year. Watch the video below watch to find out if Malak is caught by the person chasing her.
Be sure to go see Malak live during MEGAPHONO on Wednesday, February 1st at Le Petit Chicago (info here) and fall in love with her voice in person.
Ottawa’s very own Harea Band just released a new video for their soulful slow burn of a track “Please Hold.”
Sometimes a music video doesn’t have to be complicated. Have the band set up in a simple room and watch them jam out to a track they wrote and love and let the song do the talking. That is exactly what the band did for “Please Hold” with some help from local mister do-it-all Jeff Watkins.
There are a few creative elements beyond just shooting the band playing, such as a phone on fire, but the beauty of this video is the KISS strategy. Keep it simple stupid. Just wonderfully shot video of the band playing and singing along. I must admit though, my favourite part is the look on the guitarist’s face during his solo… priceless. Well don’t just take my word for, check it out below and groove out with Harea Band.
Ottawa’s beloved son The Acorn, aka Rolf Klausener, just released a mesmerizing video for the song “Rapids” off his 2015 Polaris nominated album Vieux Loup.
The video, made by Klaus energy himself, begins with drops of india ink falling into water and subsequently dispersing into beautiful dark creations, many resembling pieces from a Rorschach test or the sped-up full life-cycle of flowers. As the video progresses, there is a moment that transported me back to the live launch of The Acorn’s first album The Pink Ghosts. The video glances up at what looks backlit trees, reminiscent of the scene playing behind the band during that memorable release show at Club SAW many moons ago.
As the vocals kick in the video takes its next step. A paint brush weaves the lyrical script on the screen between more droplets of ink disperse into ever more impressive creations. One of the most picturesque elements of the video is when Klausener plays with negatives and flips the black and white of a spiraling dispersion.
Watch the video below and go see The Acorn perform on January 14th with Gianna Lauren at Pressed in Ottawa, more info here.
Ottawa based folk singer songwriter Jim Bryson recently released a new video for his song “Changing Scenery” off of his latest album, Somewhere We Will Find Our Place.
It begins with a couple sitting down looking into the camera and the man says: “Your tear ducts are little triangles at the base of your wolf eyes.” the woman replies “Maybe I cry triangular tears… I never watch.”
The video is beautiful, raw and a features a roller coaster of emotions. It is very relatable as the couple goes through fun, love, sadness, mundane, crisis and reunion all within less than three minutes. There is everything from super cute dancing together in the kitchen to screaming alone at the ocean.
One of the lines that really grasped at me was the following line from the chorus “it became you against me, instead me and you against the world.” Anyone who has had a relationship that started very fun and strong, and then eventually left the so-called honeymoon stage and hit some rocky times can certainly feel this video.
It also feels very appropriate that the video was shot in Los Angeles and I think Anthony von Seck does a great job of connecting relationship expectations and the false ideals of Hollywood in an effective yet subtle way. A staunch reminder that things aren’t always easy as they appear on the big screen.
Buckle up for a quick emotional roller coaster set to the beautiful sounds of Jim Bryson’s “Changing Scenery.”
Her Habour‘s new video for “Hewing Crowns,” the first single off of her upcoming album Go Gently Into the Night will give you chills whether you watch the video or simply close your eyes and listen along.
The black and white footage is dark and eerie just like the Her Harbour we have grown to love the nation’s capital. She has a way of evoking so much emotion and capturing the listener with her incredibly powerful voice and often simple but perfectly executed musicality. The video matches up well with Her Harbour’s signature ambient musing and haunting sounds. It also matches the title very well, as to hew is to either chop or cut with an axe, pick, or other tool or to conform or adhere to. Whether the cutting up of crowns, or conforming to them, both create imagery on their own.
The eerie video, was edited by Mike Dubue (Hilotrons), and is made up of found footage from the 1966 short film based on “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by renowned American author Conrad Aiken.
As mentioned, “Hewing Crowns” is the first single from the local muse’s sophomore release, and is the oldest song on the album. Go Gently Into the Night is set to release on February 3, 2017 on E-Tron Records. She tells us that the album “is about cycles. I wrote the songs at a time where death felt omnipresent. This album has been my attempt at making peace with death as a character of growing importance in my life.”
I know February 3 is far away, for now you will have to settle for listening and watching the video for “Hewing Crowns” and keeping on the look out for Her Harbour playing live.
Tossin’ Socks, a local banjo and guitar duo, recently released their debut five song EP, kinda, actually, sorta (an EP).
The boys, Sheehan and Marc Leguerrier, play acoustic folk music heavily rooted in punk rock ideals and love. Guitarist a singer Sheehan Jordan is the lead singer of Ottawa punk trio The Tenenbaums which certainly influences the sound.
Kinda, actually, sorta (an EP) features four originals, with some really funny titles such as “Stroman Sucks” and “Chicken Noodle,” as well as a cover of 70’s rock band Half Japanese’s song “Put Some Sugar On It.” Both Marc and Sheehan sing on songs and while both their voices are quite different they work well together.
I love the final song of the EP, “Die Die Die (666).” It is a prime example of the overlap in folk and punk. This song could be played super loud and fast with 3 power chords and have people slamming up against each other crashing the stage to sing a long. But it can equally be just as they played it, nice and slow with a banjo and an acoustic guitar.
Have a listen to kinda, actually, sorta (an EP) below and look forward to the day when Sheehan returns from his latest adventure in Vietnam.