Just when you thought winter 2.0 was here for good, the fresh new electronic group Eerie Loom have brought some warm weather along with their new video for “Wakened.” The band dropped a three-track EP on Bandcamp back in March, and are hitting the ground running.
While the trio is newly formed, the truth is that they are Ottawa music veterans and have all been in successful groups in the past. Jordan David was the lead singer of acclaimed group The Love Machine and organizes parties with music.art.ppl, while Matt Gilmour was a member of the group Hamilton and currently contributes his smooth vocals to Slack Bridges. Michael Holmes was a member of the now-defunct group many Ottawans know well called The Gallop. Needless to say, they’re no strangers to music.
“The idea of Eerie Loom came about rather naturally, premised on a longstanding friendship initiated by playing shows together, but developed through a mutual respect for each other’s art,” explains David. “We have all participated in rock bands for the longest time yet somehow, through our own ventures, discovered our pop sensibilities and an affinity for compelling electronic beats. Michael Holmes acts as our main producer, but we are all multi-instrumentalists that add our various insights, riffs, progressions, lyrics, and vibes. We have all been friends who have supported each other’s projects for over a decade, so collaboration creates both fun and familiar dynamics.”
Their music conveys emotions through electronic sounds and imagery, providing listeners with futuristic soundscapes to get lost in. The group also enlisted another friend as Creative Director, accomplished designer and artist Brendan Wilson.
“Our band has a love for sonic experimentation and sound design of all kinds, but we hope to bring a novel human element to our art as there many emotional ideas that still can be conveyed through an electronic medium,” says David. “When Brendan Wilson came on board as our Creative Director, we were thrilled. He had the idea of including images of geometry, space, and futurism blended with images of a humanity that is beautiful yet strange. The combining of visuals with our sonic aesthetic produced exciting art and fun dynamics.”
The longtime friendship between each of the members provides a strong basis for chemistry, and when you’ve made music for as long as these guys have, you know how to have fun with it. The collaborative approach to their music is evident from the first beat of “Wakened,” as the drum loops and synthesizers layer together smoothly to create delicate moments that transform into powerful hooks.
“The fundamentals of the tracks are often collaborative, but our ideas are all birthed from Michael Holmes home studio, where they are developed, recorded, and mixed into fulsome songs,” says David. “Our tracks were mastered by Philip Bova (who has mastered for Feist, Land of Talk, and Bahamas, among others). They are composed and produced using a variety of analog gear. Our project is still evolving and we are still discovering our sound, which excites us.”
As Eerie Loom experiment with new and exciting sounds, the band plans to start playing more live shows and continue to release new material. Watch the video for “Wakened” below, and stream the EP for free here.
Logistically, as I headed into my Thursday I knew this was a marathon and not a sprint. Thursday and Friday, back-to-back shows topped with everything else life was throwing my way turned in to what I can only describe as a whirlwind couple of days. This is whirlwind, part one.
My musical journey with We Are the City began a couple of years ago when another artist I was listening to went on tour with them as their openers. Since then, I have done my best to keep up with their music and when I saw they were passing through Ottawa, I made sure I would be there. Based out of Vancouver, We Are the City brings high energy with an electronic rock fusion set. Having just released their new album Above Club in November, this show was a must-see.
A similar story for HIGHS, I don’t remember exactly what or who put me on to their music in the first place, but I enjoyed their album and decided that, after missing them once, the next time they were in town I’d find a way to make it out to see them. It came as a happy surprise when they were added to the line-up for a show that I had already placed so much anticipation around.
I had not heard Rebelle before, but arrived promptly as they were starting their set. They were more on the pop/rock side of the rock-electronic fusion theme the evening had going and fit very well with the visiting lineup. During the set, House of TARG filled with an eager crowd awaiting the next two sets and happy to take them in. Siblings David and Rylee Taggart and their band have really been making a name for themselves, and previously known as The Strain. After seeing their set, have officially entered my artists to watch category as they make their way further into the scene.
HIGHS at House of TARG (Photo by Elizabeth Durford)
When HIGHS took the stage, it was clear that the majority of the crowd was well aware of their music. Those who were clear fans pressed to the front of the crowd, but the nice thing about TARG is the ability to have a good view of the show from pretty much any vantage point in the place. Personally, I’m a side stage kind of gal. HIGHS bring a unique light sound with their mixing vocals and tempos. They matched their music’s energy with movement and mixing up instruments, the addition of a second drum in the front added an extra element to the set.
We Are the City set themselves up for a similar high dynamic stage. Big lights, similar to those you’d find in an office or school ceiling, crowded the small stage. They flooded bright changing colors onto the musicians and into the crowd. This group made it clear the talents within each individual as they changed up who took lead on different songs. Despite the crazy fusion between pop/rock/electronics their music is very easy to keep up with and sing along if you so desire.
Each group brought all their energy to the stage, and judging by the crowd, their energy paid off. As night one drew to a close, I left feeling satisfied with finally seeing two groups I had kept my eye on for a long while, and equally as happy to add another group to that list.
Amped to say the least, anticipation for whirlwind, part two, began to grow.
We Are The City at House of TARG. (Photo by Elizabeth Durnford)
NOTE: This contest is now closed. Scott M. is the winner of this contest. If you are not him, grab your tickets here now for the Feb.25 show: http://bit.ly/1Tiaeca
Dan Boeckner – a founding member of the seminal Canadian indie band, Wolf Parade – is a hard-working guy. When Wolf Parade went on an indefinite hiatus in 2010, many of us felt an emptiness caused by the void caused in the Canadian music landscape after this announcement. Up until the band’s recent announcement that they are getting back together for a string of residency shows in Toronto, NYC, and London (UK), many of us die-hard fans were left with very little hope to hold onto.
Boeckner, being the warhorse musician that he is, kept the tunes coming through various projects. He started the highly successful and Polaris-shortlisted group Handsome Furs with his then-wife Alexei Perry in 2005. This band explored Boeckner’s synth and dance-pop sensibilities, particularly on the acclaimed 2011 album Sound Kapital. After three great records, that band dissolved in 2012 upon their divorce.
Shortly after, Boeckner got back to his sonic roots and formed a new rock band called Divine Fits with a friend that he’d met in 2007 at a Handsome Furs gig. That friend just happened to be Brit Daniels of Spoon, joined by drummer Sam Brown (ex- New Bomb Turks). They somehow managed to find time to write and record their 2012 album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, which is just as great as you’d expect it to be given the calibre of that collaboration.
In 2013, Divine Fits was put on hold and Boeckner returned to Montreal along with Sam Brown and Devojka (of Guests) to form Operators. Although Operators is sonically similar to Handsome Furs, the band and the approach to the music are very different. Describing themselves as “analog post-punk,” the band uses equipment such as analog synths, sampling pads, drum triggers, and yes, his electric guitar. No laptops. No pre-programming.
Along with Brown and Devojka, Boeckner has taken a bold next step in his musical career. They toured with Future Islands following the release of EP1 in 2014, and are now set to release their debut full-length, Blue Wave, on April 1st through Last Gang Records.
Bosveld, a.k.a. Facetown Sonic, a.k.a. Velodrones and That Other Guy, a.k.a. Jeremy Mulder & Théan Slabbert are on the open road of adventure since yesterday! They left Ottawa in the afternoon on a three-week bicycle odyssey across southern Ontario to play shows in Oshawa, Toronto, Hamilton & Peterborough before the end of the month. Thanks to support from Kunstadt Sports & Moonsaddle, they’ll be able to clock in more than 1,000 km on this music tour. They’ll be back home in time to play Raw Sugar on Aug. 15 and Arboretum on Aug. 20. Observing the ups and downs of this map will help us track of their progress as we follow their tour page and their Instagram.
I first heard Velodrones play at the SPAO Guerilla Live fundraiser in December. I was struck by the sounds coming from his sampler, first thinking they were effects then finding out they were side-effects. Théan searches the soundscape for odd blips, rough edges around otherwise smooth harmonies, and incorporates these sounds into his music. Paired with Jeremy on the alto sax, they play songs that quiet rooms and encourage listeners to close their eyes, to delve deeper. Crackling static, ambient wind, Théan’s rich voice and his finger-picking… This is future folk and it is trippy, to say the least. What we heard as bits & bites on their Catalysts Mixtape is becoming a full course meal for their debut full-length. They’re going out to promote what they’ve done, what Théan classifies as the work of which he’s proudest.
The first night they spent at ours in Oxford Mills, and I was able to ask them 12 questions before they played us some of their new tracks. Thank you so much guys, Karine & I are very grateful! And we are stoked to hear the rest of the upcoming Veldbrand.
First of all, how was the first day?
Jeremy: It was tiring but exhilarating. It’s a bit of a daunting trip, but that’s just because it’s the first day.
Théan: Day one of the tour? Awesome. It was a beautiful day, the rain was not as bad as I thought it would be. It cools you. Saw a deer! Lots of farm country and that reminded me of my childhood. Side roads are the best!
How many kilometres do you hope to cover per day?
J: We’ll say an average of 80.
Other than seeing Canada, becoming physically fit, and not buying gasoline what benefits does a band’s bike tour offer you?
J: Well, we’ve already seen houses we’ve never seen, people we’ve never seen, signs, little towns you never knew existed, bridges you never knew were there. Hopefully that continues. I love connecting with the places we pass. I’ve lived in Ottawa all my life so I feel I’ve explored its entirety but this is an opportunity to “get in there.” Staying at people’s houses, in a way you wouldn’t otherwise! We’re staying with you guys, and people from Warm Showers. That gives us the opportunity to practice our set too.
J: It’s like Couchsurfing but tailored to cyclists. So far, we’ve found it be a tremendous resource — lots of friendly, positive responses, and it seems well moderated, with user reviews and such. Around southern Ontario it’s great, but in the east here, like Kingston to Ottawa, there’s not much activity.
Théan, was your moniker Velodrones inspired by cycling?
T: I’m gonna have to say, “uhh yes!”
Jeremy, are you a Master of Music?
J: Yeah, I am, if you can call it that. I have a Master’s Degree, I don’t know if that makes me anything. It means I spent a lot of money to have a piece a paper that says I’m a musician. And I can kind of play the saxophone.
Théan, you have a piece on your YouTube channel called “Improvisation with Jeremy Mulder on Saxophone //théan” published on Nov. 25, 2012. Is this the first track you two recorded?
T: Yeah, he just came to my house and we didn’t know each other. And I kinda just hit record.
J: No! We knew each other then. I’d recorded a couple tracks with you before it was called Bosveld. He’d stopped me in the hall at Ottawa U and said, “do you play bari sax? I need a saxophone!” I played on two pieces of his and we started to play more and more.
And now you’ve finished tracking your first LP together! How much of the album will you be playing on this tour?
T: All of it.
J: And Andre 3000 covers. Not even Outkast, just Andre 3000.
How long before we can get it on wax?
T: We can’t tell you that. Late fall, early winter? That’s what we said last year. Pop Drone is making it. It’s gonna be fun times!
J: Well I went to high school with Connor Bennett, one of the founding members, we were really good friends. And through him I met Kearon Roy Taylor.
T: Who’s doing the art for the new album!
J: Also Connor and another founder Aaron Hutchinson are in a band called Eschaton, and we played a couple shows with them as we toured with Claude Munson. They released our Mixtape! Eschaton has made a whole bunch of tapes so they knew what they were doing. HAVN is a cool place. They put on shows, I think monthly, and they’re right at James & Barton Streets in Hamilton.
T: Barton Street, the most dangerous street in Hamilton.
J: There’s a massage parlour next door.
T: Open 24 hours a day.
And how many days until you get to your first gig in Oshawa?
J: We’ll be there on the 23rd, the day of our show!
T: We’ll be there on the 22nd… to practice.
We wish you Godspeed! In closing, what are your favourite Ottawa bands?
J: I love Claude Munson, ever since we played with him it just kind of got in my head… And anything Pascal Delaquis touches is gold — Claude Munson, Hilotrons, Marabou, and many more. We’re really lucky to have him play with us.
It’s always really cool when European bands fly over the ocean and bring their music with them. One band that I found out about recently is MTT, short for Minus the Tiger (Fisherman Recs). They’re right out of The Netherlands, a wonderful country that Ottawa and Canada have a particularly strong bond with. The long-lasting friendship has been rekindled every year with the Tulip Festival here in Ottawa, which began in 1953 when the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 bulbs as a gift in perpetuity for Canada’s role in providing them with safe harbour during the German occupation of The Netherlands during the Second World War. I always loved that story, and it turns out I also love Dutch bands. MTT have that dark, spacey synth sound that a few of my current favourite Canadian bands are going for and European ones like The Knife mastered earlier on. Their new album Years From Nowhas been on repeat ever since I found out about it, basically because it is a great album all around. I cannot explain how amazing it is for me when great musicians employ the use of synths to accentuate their music, but keep true to their other instruments by keeping them front and centre.
MTT are landing on Canadian soil this week and making their first stop in Ottawa at Pressed on Wednesday night (Apr. 30). They’re making a few other stops in Montreal, Wakefield, amongst a few others, as well as two CMW showcases in Toronto. Be sure to catch these guys, they’re the kind of band that’s a sure thing to give you your money’s worth live. On top of that, one of our local faves Bosveld is opening, along with DJ Vinelli. Doors at 8pm/$7/AA – music over by 11. Check out my interview with Anne of MTT below.
Interview with Anne of MTT
It’s interesting to see bands going back to 80’s and 90’s with respect to their influences. What were some bands or artists from that time that have helped inform your music and overall style?
Partially it’s youth nostalgia. I remember spending what seemed to be endless mornings on the couch with my mom watching music videos. Artists like a-Ha, Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Later on, I started to appreciate some of these pop artists on a more musical level as well. Especially Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins I started to get into later – they became a big influence.Then there’s the whole Eurohouse thing that seems to be making a re-entry nowadays. And of course grunge and shoegaze. These are all sounds that are always somewhere in the back of my mind and have influenced me directly or indirectly. Difference being now I’m no longer ashamed to say out loud they are of influence.
The darker synth sound MTT is going for is one that is catching on in Canada with bands like DIANA, TRUST, and Weeknight. With so much synth-based pop music out there, what is it about your sound that you think separates it from the rest?
Is it? That’s great because where we’re from everyone’s more into singer-songwriters or pop rock. Ha-ha! Oh and you’re forgetting Valleys who made a really nice album last year! To me the, artists mentioned have a great variety in sound and approach very much the same as more I guess you would call than traditional bands have. I have to be honest though, I am not too fond of questions like these. As I said these artists all have a very different approach to music and aside from using beats and electronic drums and synths they are very different. Now the darker atmosphere is something similar, but maybe that’s just a sign of times. Maybe the fact that people are getting into that shows we are finally ready to face these dark times we’re living in.
In what ways has MTT grown as a band since coming together a few years back?
It’s not been such a long time since we formed. It started out as a vehicle for my songs and the first record (our debut album selftitled Minus The Tiger, 2011) is us finding a sound we liked. On Years From Now we are more consistent in our sound and song choices even though in the process we didn’t want to think about direction at all. This is what sort of comes natural at this moment. In our live performance we made a huge leap as well. Being on stage is always a big thing for me, slightly uneasy as well. But with this band and these songs I feel more confident putting on a good show.
Have any of you been to North America before?
We toured Canada with our previous record and played CMW, but it wasn’t officially released then. We’ve sort of fallen in love with Canada, the minor part we got to see that is. I really like the different cities, they each have a different vibe and all have a certain attraction. I also like the Canadian music culture. It’s very vibrant and diverse and slightly down to earth which is something us Europeans can relate to I guess. For bands like us it is very hard to get our message across in our home country where the scene is extremely small and very one-dimensional. Of course there is a lot of competition everywhere and being in music means working extremely hard anywhere in the world. But it seems that places like Montréal have a different sort of culture that allows for more breathing room for bands and artists like us.
4. As a band from The Netherlands, what is it like to be selected to play at festivals like CMW and POP Montreal?
Well, pretty exciting. Especially since they selected us based on some rough first edits of songs. It’s crazy how we were just starting out and find people in the music scene across the ocean liking what we do. And then to come there and find so much love of music and also our music. Makes me feel really happy and fortunate to be back.
5. Is there a city in the world that you dream of playing in someday?
New York perhaps, and that will actually happen soon. I wonder what it will be like to play a city where so many incredible artists play everyday. Will we drown or thrive? It’s a challenge. But really it doesn’t matter where you play. We’ve played places expecting it to be overwhelming but being the total opposite and vice versa. It all depends on the people, your mood, their mood, the timing, the atmosphere. You never really know what you’ll get, you can only “play your hearts out” as a fellow musician I know always puts it.
6. What is something about your home base of Utrecht that you think Canadians should know about? It can be anything at all.
It’s like Amsterdam but without the tourists. And if you like coffee go to The Village Coffee and Music.
7. What does the band have planned for the next year?
After we play Canada, we’re playing some festivals back home, then head out to NYC where we’ve been selected to play Northside Festival. In September we hope to be back in Canada for more shows. After that we’ll probably take it easy for a little bit, release some new videos, some remixes and start working on a new release.
One thing we really love here at Ottawa Showbox are bills stacked with local bands. Yes, this night only had two bands playing, but two powerhouses of the Ottawa scene. Pony Girl and FEVERS are sure things, and the promise of a full night of top notch entertainment was planned out from the beginning.
Well, summer is half over. That doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze every last second out of nice weather and sunshine. Here in Ottawa , we know how important it is to hold onto the warmth, since 8 months out of our year we’re generally freezing our asses off. I’ve always been a huge fan of mixtapes and CDs over the years. You know, making a soundtrack for whatever occasion. I would burn excessive numbers of CD-Rs for road trips, camping trips, barbecuing, cutting the lawn… you get the idea. What better time of year to make a fun, danceable soundtrack for the hot sun and balcony beers. Also, a little shout-out to Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Redfor making it to the Polaris Prize Shortlist this year! We at Showbox are going to start dabbling more and more on Soundcloud to start bringing some fresh tunes your way. And if you’re wondering, the name of this one was inspired from the Young Galaxy song of the same name off of Ultramarine.
FEVERS have made it known that they’ll be releasing their new album “No Room For Light” on August 27, 2013, with album release party details forthcoming. It’s been an exciting few years for the band as they’ve achieved a lot of notoriety around Ottawa and across Canada since their original Passion is Dead EP (and even getting a shout-out from music mogul Alan Cross, who likes them for their “dark and danceable electro sound”). I have to agree with Mr. Cross. The album was produced both here in Ottawa and in Toronto by Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep, Holy Fuck) and contains an 11-song track list which is sure to have some hits on it. Listen to their first single “Dance Cry Dance” off the album below.
Fevers have released a new single from their upcoming album No Room For Light called ‘Dance Cry Dance’. In classic Fevers form, we get a perfect mix of just about everything. The dancability factor here is high, as funky guitar licks, synth-based pop fills, and tight percussive flows make this song a really exciting taste of what we’re going to expect on the album. To me, personally, it sounds like vocalist Sarah Bradley is becoming much more confident with her voice. Seeing her absolutely destroy Ottawa Rock Lottery 5.0 this past weekend with her throw-together band Black Usher confirmed this for me. The band definitely seems to be coming into their own, and I’m guessing this album will take them to brand new heights. Take a good listen to the track here. Then listen to it again.
I thought recently that it’s a little unfair to just exclusively post about Canadian music, when there’s an entire world of great stuff out there. Obviously I have an infinite amount of love for my compatriots… I think it’s really impressive how much awesome, diverse music comes out of Canada. So I’m going to give another country some attention today, one that will always have a spot in my heart. in 2010, I did a month-long road trip all around New Zealand with a great friend, and everything about the country touched the core of my spirit. The landscapes, the natural environment, the wonderful people, and also the music. With a tiny population of only 4.4 million people, New Zealand has had some great sounds come out of their country. I discovered bands like Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Dropn. But one band that I really think deserves some attention here in North America is Kids of 88. Their 2012 album Modern Love is all around incredible to listen to – it’s well produced and is has so many solid tracks on it. Here’s a great video for the song “Tucan”, one of my favourites off the record. Hear Kids of 88 takes me back to that place I was a few years ago. The nostalgia!!!