last week, i featured a song from the o’darling‘s ep released last year. right now, they’re busy working on their debut full length album, but the darlings they are took time off on sunday morning yesterday to catch up with me over an email interview. so here’s the full interview, anchored by lead vocalist jennah barry with the rest of this six-piece toronto-based band in tow as they share with us their thoughts on places, their music, and a little glimpse into that upcoming album. enjoy!
Hi everyone! Thanks to Daylight Saving, we’re exactly 12 hours away from each other. First up, thanks again for taking the time for this interview! Would you like to introduce yourselves, and tell us a little about how the band got together?
Jennah: Hi!! I’ll go around the room so it feels like we’re all in the same place. Chantel Emond, she’s one of our lead singers, she also plays percussion. Ida Maidstone is another lead singer who also plays glockenspiel and piano. Olivier Clements is the trumpet and flugel guy. Jennah Barry (hi! I’m typing) lead singer who plays glock, piano and accordion. David Barry (my brother) guitar. Colin Nealis plays the upright bass.
We were all friends at school who played music together. We all went on a trip to Victoria BC last summer for some band bonding.
It’s so nice everyone’s here. I understand you’re all from Toronto? What was it about Victoria BC that attracted you there for the summer? And how’s the scene and environment there different from Toronto?
Jennah: Actually! We met in Toronto but none of us are from here. Ida, Olivier and Colin are from Victoria, Chantel is from Winnipeg and Dave and I are from Nova Scotia.
Colin: The pacing of life is much more desirable in Victoria.
Jennah: Colin is our big, friendly giant. He likes things calm.
Chantel: Victoria was a success and we played 5 nights a week.
Jennah: I guess that’s kind of the difference from Toronto. There was room for us there! Toronto is so saturated. Plus, Victoria has the ocean…and trees! We like Toronto a lot; it’s huge and incredible, but very different. It just makes us work harder.
Haha! Toronto sounds a lot closer to Singapore then, and Victoria a place most Singaporeans would love to go to instead. It sounds like the perfect place to get more inspiration. Anyway, by the time you made the trip to Victoria, the EP was out already, right? How did you get started on the EP? I’m particularly interested in the songwriting process for a big group like yourselves.
Jennah: The EP was completely unrehearsed and very impromptu. We weren’t really a “band” yet, I guess.
Chantel: It was kind of like dating…You don’t know what the deal is, till you really know.
Jennah: So, we recorded the whole album live at our school.
Chantel: There’s a brand new studio there and we used it!
Jennah: We think it turned out pretty nice. Hence A Nice EP. Haha. After we recorded it we had this big CD release party and sold it in little paper cases for 3 dollars. We’ve actually sold quite a few for them being completely handmade.
As for the songwriting (how it’s going right now), the girls bring in the bare-bones of a song and then we all write and finish it together. We jam out the songs and everyone makes up their own part and then we perform it and see if it works. We’ve only had minor trainwrecks … Haha.
The impromptu parts are what I really love, especially at the end of “Wood Waltz”. Interestingly, quite a bit of the EP sounds very measured and calm too, which I feel balances the more spontaneous sections perfectly. I know you mention the EP being completely unrehearsed and impromptu, but was there a particular “sound” you were aiming for, and did that change along the way through recording?
Jennah: We definitely had nothing in mind for our sound.
Olivier: The EP created an aesthetic for the band.
Jennah: We all have very different influences but we understood where each other was coming from right away. It would have been impossible to analyze it! We let the music take it’s own course.
Ida: It was good that we were open minded about it because if we had a specific idea of what we wanted the band to be it wouldn’t have sounded the same.
Colin: Everyone has equal input and no one’s the leader. I think that’s what makes us unique. I think it comes across in our sound.
It sure does! I love how it all comes so naturally. Can we expect something different from the upcoming full length album, from the way it’s shaping up currently?
Jennah: We definitely took a more thorough approach. This album is our first cohesive idea! It’s so exciting. We’ve had to focus the improvised aspects of our live shows for the studio. Recording forces you to refine your decisions.
Ida: It’s definitely a process.
Olivier: I love high-end equipment.
Jennah: Haha … We spend so much time together and we hope the album represents that. It’s a big deal to us that our sound has become more unified.
I’m definitely looking forward to the album! How have your live shows been so far, especially after playing so much at Victoria, and as I understand, a cross-country tour as well?
Jennah: We’re more comfortable, that’s for sure. The tour was a huge help. We don’t fall off the stage anymore… (Ida fell once in Winnipeg. She took the whole piano with her. A 400 pound woman saved her life). Anyway, we keep it low-key. The aesthetic hasn’t changed very much, it’s just more comfortable. And more people come out. Hahaha.
Haha that’s hilarious! I’m glad Ida’s fine. Thanks again for your time – it’s been such a pleasure speaking with all of you. Hear from you soon, with good news I hope!
Jennah: Thanks so much!! This was fun. Wish it could have been in person!
mp3: the o’darling – buckets o’ berries (from a nice ep)
mp3: the o’darling – mooncat (from a nice ep)
a nice ep is available directly by contacting the band through their website, which also has updates on their upcoming live shows.