FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING AARON POWELL OF FOG LAKE

Since I discovered Fog Lake, it has been a steady part of my playlist. I admire Aaron’s talent to create the atmospheric vibe coming out of his songs. His music has greatly influenced my taste and will always belong to my favorite musicians. Recently, when I heard that he was releasing a new album, I decided to approach him with few questions via email to ask him about not only his music life in Canada, but also his latest release on Orchid Tapes.

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Aaron, you are not very vocal on any social media. Do you prefer “online solitude”? Do you like communicating over Internet?

Anyone who knows me well knows i’m a bit of an introvert. I’m always afraid i’ll make a fool of myself online. Maybe it’s just an anxiety of mine but most of the time I’d rather let the music speak for itself.

Do you find keeping privacy important?

I do. I value my alone time a lot. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have been able to have such an extensive output in these last years. I spend most of my time alone, for the better.

Do you remember when you first started getting more attention?

Yeah. I remember when I was delivering pizzas one day and someone told me that my song “Farther Reaches” had been posted on a popular youtube channel called “Majestic Casual”. Made my day. My music gained a very steady following after that. I’m very thankful for what they did for me, and I’m glad that they chose a song which I’m still fond of.

You are part of Orchid Tapes family. How did you met Warren and other guys?

Yeah. I’ve really only known Warren online. We’ve never met in person, yet. I discovered his project “Foxes in Fiction” on a forum and I always let him know how much his music helped push me to do what I do now. I think once I started making music, he realized we were coming from a similar place and I’m really glad he gave me a chance to be on the label. It was by far the best thing that ever happened to me and remains so.

You have released your music on cassettes. Do you prefer this type of media or was it a choice made by label?

I’m a fond believer in analog sound, even though I’ve not yet ventured into that path. I think putting out my music on cassette helps secure a sense of integrity and helps fulfill my own beliefs. Many of people I know laugh off the fact that I’m putting out music on such an “obsolete” device, but I don’t know, I really like the sound of a cassette just like someone would like the scratches on a vinyl record. It’s definitely an acquired taste.

Fog Lake’s songs have special vibe and sound. Was it a long process of creation or did you know from the start what your music should sound like?

Thanks. It took me a long time to realize that I really had a ‘sound’ to begin with, but these days I’m definitely a lot more self-aware. Whenever I’ve tried to branch off from Fog Lake, it’s never really worked out because I struggle to do something I feel is original. I would say it was a long process. I listen to a lot of my older material now and I just feel like I was trying to copy what was already done. Now when I listen to my new record, for instance, I feel like I can hear myself coming through and that’s fulfilling for me, providing something that comes from a real place.

Where do you get inspiration for your songs?

I can name you a lot of things that inspire my songs, but I won’t. Mostly just experience, and the ups and downs of this life.

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In my previous interview with Katie Dey, she talked about unimportance of lyrics in her songs. What are you thoughts on lyrics?

As much as I love, love, love Katie Dey (‘asdfasdf’ is absolutely stunning) I really have to disagree with her stance on lyricism. My favorite music communicates through tone and language, resulting in the euphoria I often get from it. It would make a great debate I think. I spent quite some time on “Victoria Park” making sure the lyrics said what I needed to get out. However, I would never want my lyrics to ever overshadow the music; it’s definitely the more important and complex element.

Do you prefer working on your music alone or have you ever wanted to have a full-size band?

I definitely like the fact that music requires solitude (in my case anyway). I try to keep Fog Lake a solo project. I played my first set with a band in a while tonight and it didn’t go too well at all. However one of best friends Kenney has been a great and loyal bandmate for awhile now and he’s on three tracks of ‘Victoria Park’, which is new because all of my older records were entirely just me. I’ve always thought the idea of a “one-man-band” was really intriguing however and I felt I was the right person for that, so at it’s core Fog Lake remains my solo project. I’ve always wanted to start a band, but my experiences working with conflicting creative control/input has always been an issue for me, unfortunately.

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How long did it take to create the last album?

I spent a year writing and recording on “Victoria Park”. While I was making the record I managed to drop out of school, get into two relationships (neither of which worked out), have my stepfather die and lose two jobs, plus plenty of friendships. The last year of my life has been extremely chaotic and emotionally draining, I’m glad to say that ‘Victoria Park’ expresses and sums up those feelings of loss quite authentically.

What is the toughest part of the writing process?

I think the toughest part of the writing/recording process was really trying to make amends with what was bothering me at the time in a cohesive way, that was yet still relatable. I had a lot of bitterness/resentment when I wrote ‘Virgo Indigo’ and I didn’t want to repeat that again. I find myself very unhappy with that record now, I can say that ‘Victoria Park’ is much better.

Do you think your music is influenced by the place where you live?

Yeah, definitely. I find myself torn apart by how much I wanna get off the island of Newfoundland and how much I wanna stay because it’s such an entirely different scene that has so much potential. I wrote about 50 percent of ‘Victoria Park’ out in my home town of Glovertown (three hours away from where I live now) because I have so many memories attached to that place, and it always gets me inspired to write. All of the songs I wrote while I was in Glovertown reflect that time in my life and relate it to what my life entails now, three years after moving away from there, into a much more populated city

Do you enjoy living in North America?

Yes! I’m hoping to do a tour of the eastern States sometime soon. From my few times in America I’ve really dug it.

What is your daily job?

I was doing dishes at a local bar/restaurant. It pays the bills. I delivered pizzas before that. Got fired for driving too fast though.

Is there any music community in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Yes! It’s a lot like high school. That’s kinda what the song “Renegade” is about. It’s very tight-knit and it’s an everyone knows everyone sort of deal. I can finally say that I’ve gathered some local followers which makes me wanna play shows and try to inspire, whether the set’s good or bad. I think there’s a lot of heart in our local scene, which has yet to be discovered.

Do you miss being able to hang out with guys around Orchid Tapes?

Miss? I’ve never met any of them. I feel pretty distant from the label most of the time to be honest. I’m very privileged to have a part in that scene. I’ve got Warren to thank for that. I’m a big fan of every artist on the label so it definitely cheers me up whenever I’m feeling down and out.

Do you have a place where you would love to live?

I’m thinking about moving to Montreal, or possibly running off to California. I could even try Halifax, maybe. I don’t think I can stay on this island for much longer.

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Do you have any goals or dreams regarding your music project?

I’d just like to be remembered, and have some financial security. Neither of which I’ve had much luck with.

Did you have any music project before?

I had a few joke/novelty bands in high school with friends, but no. Fog Lake was the first thing I took seriously.

Do you remember what the first instrument you ever got was?

I don’t! I think the first instrument I ever played was harmonica.

Have you always wanted to make music? Did you have support from family?

I can’t say that it was my plan to begin with. I always wanted to do something in the arts, but I never felt talented enough to pursue music. It seems it’s becoming less of a hobby and more of a career the longer I stay working at it. I think it’s what I’m gonna keep doing until the end though.

What did you listening as a kid?

The first CD I ever bought was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park I’m pretty sure. Then it might have been that Smash Mouth record with “All Star” on it or something by the Backstreet Boys. It was bad, man.

What important advice would you give to young musicians starting their own music projects?

I would say to keep it as true-to-heart as possible. Stop thinking about what other’s want to hear and start thinking about what you wanna hear. Don’t worry about being technical. Don’t worry what your parents think. Give it your best shot.

What are your current three most favorite bands?

That changes 2 much 2 say.

New album Victoria Park out on Orchid Tapes:

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Aaron Powell

Review ~ Molly Drag – Open Casket Hidden Meaning ~ by Lukas Foote

I have said it before, and I will type it again: Molly Drag will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience, despair and heartbreak. The same thing could be said about the newly released Molly Drag song “Open Casket Hidden Meaning.”

Molly Drag - Open Casket Hidden Meaning

At the start of this track, the familiarity of the paulstretch effect is heard. The paulstretch effect was used quite a bit in the Molly Drag fulllength debut: Deeply Flawed. This effect has become a signature, or a characteristic trait for Michael Hansford. Hearing the paulstretch over some slow acoustic picking right off the intro of OPHM gives the song the nostalgic notion of another ambient, nebulous, slow-jam.

The lyrics are very bleak, unpromising, and full of depressing topics such as death (“My coffin thrown into the ground/fills the empty spaces here/I am the blood, you are the crown/She feels the bodies buried here.”), addiction and the bad trips you may conjure up while high (“Addiction always has its waste/but your hands were on my face/and you were suffocating me.”). I would not expect any different subject matters from a song inspired by a funeral.

Molly Drag’s Open Casket Hidden Meaning is part of a 15-track compilation by MD’s label Hellur Records entitled “I Still Call You My Friend”. It is currently available up on Bandcamp for the ideal hipster price of “Buy Now name your price” and includes other great tracks on it by label mates such as Claws & Organs and Sorority Noise.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag

Review ~ iris – Haunt Me ~ by Lukas Foote

If you’re looking for a band that’s a suiting fit to play aloud at your funeral, then look no further, because Toronto’s 4-piece Emo-Shoegaze band iris delivers a haunting and depressing soundtrack.

This 5-track EP entitled “Haunt Me” was released this passing Valentine’s Day and is consistently filled with a combination of strong bass lines, glistening reverb/chorus guitar tones, heavy crashes on drums and your typical washed out, trance-like vocals.

The lyrical content on Haunt Me is very minimalistic, by that I mean all the song lyrics are short, very somber and resemble short poems rather than traditional song lyrics. Nonetheless, iris leaves the listener to interoperate the undeniable synergetic chemistry between vocalists Danielle Clark and Brad Garcia’s lyrics. Such tracks like Ragdoll: “I’m ripping at the seams/That you helped me sew/Shove your kind words in my wounds/Try to save me so” showcase the depressing atmosphere that Haunt Me is built upon, and how the EP offers no sight of hope.

What I like about iris’ EP the most is the overall heaviness compacted into it. The intensity is conveyed throughout the EP in the form of piercing- hard-hitting drums and cymbals on behalf of Matt Tomasi and as well as rhythmic, crying bends from a combination of Scott Downes and Brad Garcia’s guitar work.

Every single track on Haunt Me gives off the utmost sense of despair and melancholy; these adjectives come so naturally when describing the final track on the EP “This isn’t goodbye…” The song starts outs with a solo guitarist slowly playing through the intro, what follows is a unsettling pause that communicated more emotion then what could have been vocalized. And just when you thought that the pause was going to last an eternity, the profound sounds of cymbal crashes and grave guitar chords reinvigorate the listener and keeps them captivated through the other half of the song, “This isn’t goodbye…” certainly delivers.

I would strongly recommend iris’ Haunt Me (and their Killers cover too) to anyone that has an underlying passion for multi-layered, dominant sounding shoegaze that resembles bands like Slowdive or Whirr.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Iris

Review ~ ACAB Rocky – Truce ~ by Filip Zemcik

When you know a band from its starting point, you can see the whole development of their music. ACAB Rocky from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is one of these cases. I know Samuel Wells since his previous music endeavouring, when he was playing in Jackie Trash. I released their EP on a cassette a while ago. After some time, he decided to begin with a new project and that is how ACAB Rocky was born. The fact is, I have followed them from the beginning and became one of their earliest big fans. I can remember listening to their first two releases, which belonged to my lo-fi lieblings.

Nevertheless, those times have passed and they have come out with a new album and a completely different sound and atmosphere. The truth is, I had a chance to listen to Truce before it was officially released and I was overwhelmed by how they have progressed. At some point, bands decide that it’s time to “grow up” and decide to do a studio album. In the case of lo-fi bands, this transition may harm their uniqueness and make the sound flat, inclining to mainstream ones. However, ACAB Rocky have managed this pretty well, and released a solid album.

To be more specific, the opening song Matches, released as a single before the whole album was out, belongs to those you can listen over and over. The catching phrase “I don’t know what you’re up to, or up against” lingers in your mind forever. The math-rocky riffs in the background are mastered in excellently. The rest of the album is much slower, with various shoegaze passages, and Samuel´s voice slowly singing the lyrics makes you sink into songs even deeper. Additionally, all guitar riffs are completing every single song, and what more in several moments create an amazing dreamy atmosphere.

When listening to songs on loop you are able to discover that little nuances which make every song really unique. Especially in case of Stella, the slow and grungy passages of the leading guitar are made in perfect balance. The best way to fully grasp the essence of the whole album is to put headphones on, play it loudly and enjoy every bit of it. I like how ACAB Rocky has moved their sound to a more mature level and songs are full of hidden gems.

Truce definitely belongs to your playlist and you should head to their bandcamp and buy their music. I wish they could get a bigger buzz for such great piece of music. Moreover, I am looking forward their further albums. I expect even greater pieces, which will shine in my (not only digital) music collections. I am really glad I have come across this band through my blog. ACAB Rocky belongs to the best young bands in the current music scene in Canada.

Buy a cassette via Hacktivism Records.

Read an interview with Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky.

Text by Filip Zemcik 
Photo by ACAB Rocky