Thursday, August 19, 2010
"The Electric 10!" With Loon Choir
This week I hit up Ottawa band Loon Choir for the Electric 10 and boy did they have some words for me!! What a fantastic read this is!!
1. So come on, who are you and what the devil do you do in this thing you call a 'band'?
Derek - Nikki Yates plays keys and guitar and sings. Dan Larmour plays guitar and sings back up. Brad Sheffield plays synth and guitar, and writes songs as well. Jamie LeClair plays bass. Khary Byron plays drums. I am Derek Atkinson and I play guitar and I sing and write most of our songs. Collectively, we all have a say in how the band operates, the songs are written and the direction we are going in.
2. Where and when did you guys first get together?
Derek - Brad and I have been in basement/garage bands for about the last 10 years. Nikki, Brad and I started a fun little folk-electronic band in 2008 called Capital Hearts. In late 2008, Brad was practicing with a group including Jamie and Khary. Nikki and I joined and the former front guy left (must have been something we said). The group evolved into a six-piece when I replied to an ad that Dan posted on an Ottawa music forum looking to start or join a band. He fit in perfectly and the team was established. We started playing regular shows by that spring and were fortunate to open early on for bands like Ohbijou, The Lovely Feathers, Rubik and others.
3. What is it about your music that makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd?
Derek - While it is certainly difficult to stand out in a pack of so many great bands out there right now (and in our own back yards), we like to think that our music and lyrics offer something new and different. I consider my lyrics to be challenging of capitalist and pseudo-democratic systems while also reflecting on the mysteries and grace of nature and interpersonal relationships. The themes of ‘disconnection’ (from nature and each other) on one hand, and connection (unity, peace) have been fairly ongoing themes in my words which definitely strays from the less confrontational though popular themes in the lyrics of popular music of heart break, lust and material gratification.
4. What song or songs are you most proud of?
Nik - I think the song I'm most proud of on the album is Summerland because of the softer approach we took during the recording process. It's a complete 180 when you compare it to how we play it live, and I think that really speaks a lot about our versatility as both a band and individual musicians. I'm proud of the overall album though because I think we've melded together a lot of unique sounds and styles that aren't necessarily always categorized within the same genres. The outcome has resulted in 9 completely different tracks... to me it keeps our music interesting, and exciting.
5. Which bands have influenced your own personal style?
Nik - As the only female member in the band I personally gravitate toward other female musicians for inspiration and influence. Neko Case has had a huge influence on me,
along with Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, and Tracyanne Campbell. As a whole, I think we collectively draw from larger bands out there such as Broken Social Scene, and Arcade Fire as a means of continuously challenging ourselves, to keep expanding our sound and using our collective creativity to its fullest potential.
6. How is being a musician different than everyday life?
Nik - I know for me, not only being a musician but 1 of 6 within a band is different from everyday life because I'm just a part of that whole. Whereas in real life we tend to go about things ourselves and decide what is best individually, in the band we're forced to consider all the angles, as well as everyone's perspective... the philosopher Emile Durkheim refers to a feeling that he calls "collective effervescence"... and it’s the idea of something sacred being produced by a group of people all coming together to believe in the same thing... and I think as musicians, we encounter this feeling more so than in everyday life through the process of creating music with others, and it really offers a sense of togetherness and peacefulness that isn't always present elsewhere.
7. Who do you think is the worst band member at practice?
Derek – I think Dan is the worst member at practice. He’s always trying to touch my thighs and making funny noises. Ha. Just kidding. Our little democratic republic is so top notch that when it comes to communicating our ideas and being productive there’s really no hierarchy of ‘suck’ here. But, ya, Dan.
8. Other than the people you play with now, if you could get any musician, dead or alive, who would you entrust to be in your “Dream Band”?
Derek – Thom Yorke, Kevin Drew, Hank Williams, Jónsi Birgisson and Chet Baker would be a pretty cool dream band. We’d probably suck though if I had anything to do with it and getting along with that many personalities might be a difficult task too. And I would probably have to play bass I guess, and that wouldn’t be that cool either. Oh, drums: Art Blakey!
9. Which musician could you spend a year with on a deserted island, know that what they could teach you would excel your music career tenfold?
Derek – I would love to learn trumpet more, and to sing better so Chet Baker would be pretty rad to hang with and learn from. He liked to party (too much) so we would likely get along. His voice was so silky and trumpet so flawless! In terms of living musicians though, while I don’t think he would like me, and maybe I wouldn’t like him, his voice and capacity for epic song writing is so huge that I would have to say Thom Yorke.
10. Other than this interview, what is the stupidest thing you have ever agreed to do?
Derek – Obviously avoiding getting into anything too personal, as there is definitely a lot worse things I have agreed to do, after thinking for about 30 seconds about this, I’ll give you a small (and sketchy) window into my life. I once agreed in Belize to go to a crack dealer’s house (ps - I don’t use or condone the use of crack). My anxiety/paranoia was going ballistic (and with good cause too). There were large ‘body guards’ there, it was really dark inside and nobody was talking much (besides the brief introductions and questions the guys had of the infamous cannabis that comes from British Columbia). I told them what they wanted to hear. In the end, I left unharmed and enjoyed watching Dumb and Dumber in a completely different setting, but felt really uncomfortable and was glad to get back to the beach and play some barefoot basketball with my friend Dege.
How about that hey? They definitely had me captivated! And speaking of captivated, check out the gang's music! It's much better reading this with their tunes playing along. So go on, try it out for yourself. You won't be disappointed!
Check them out here:
Loon Choir Official Page.
Loon Choir MySpace Page.
Loon Choir On Facebook.