Jericho

Brooding Experimental Psychedelia In Funny Hats

Photo credit to Jon Vincent, who shot these photos of Jericho for Discorder Magazine

To define Jericho with a single adjective is to risk oversimplifying the band’s complex sound, which is both at odds and in keeping with their penchant for theatricality. The Vancouver band is as well known for their brooding psychedelic sound as they are for wearing funny hats on stage. In both their recordings and their live performances, Pasang Galay says, “[We] try to make space for all of that.”

Jericho has existed in several iterations – one of which played under the moniker the Sandra Bullocks – before settling on the line-up they have today. The band is currently comprised of Galay on lead vocals and bass, Luke Tancredi on guitar, Liam Doherty on keys and synth, Nigel Ching on cello, and Eli Teed on drums. Of Jericho’s early iterations, Galay says, “We were kind of always in a mode of development. We weren’t completely satisfied with the makeup of the band. It wasn’t until we got our five members that we kind of felt satisfied with being a full band.” Teed joined the band in September 2015 followed shortly by Doherty, who joined as the band’s fifth member.

Galay refers to Jericho’s dynamic as a relationship. He admits, “Trying to manage five people in any relationship is hard, especially one that is creative … Not everyone is on the same page at every moment, but I like what each person brings to [the band].”

Jericho’s multifaceted sound is as much a stylistic choice as it is a function of their band line up. Teed says, “It’s part of having five people in the band with their own musical preferences and backgrounds … All [of us] see a song a different way.”

Jericho by Jon Vincent for Discorder Magazine

When it comes to writing music, differences in taste among band members is one of Jericho’s greatest strengths. “There’s a general cohesion, especially when we’re all together in a room,” says Teed. They take a collaborative approach to songwriting. Teed continues, “It is kind of a building block by building block [process], and everyone contributes their distinct musical quality to that.”

To start the writing process, Tancredi often contributes a rhythm or a melody. Galay adds a bassline as a way of “laying the scene or figuring out what the atmosphere of the song is,” says Teed, explaining that the rest of the band “take[s] that as a cue to how the song is going to look and how it’s going to sound overall. We’ll try to match whatever thematic or tonal quality it has.” While Tancredi approaches songwriting from a traditional rock development, Ching contributes what Galay describes as a more progressive dark quality. The result is dark experimental rock interwoven with atmospheric cello and moody bass.

After several months hiatus from recording and performing, Jericho are releasing their debut EP Vanitas in May. Long has an EP been in the works for the band. Teed says, “We’ve tried a couple times to do it with different people and in different spaces. This one is finally working out. It’s been nice to kind of jump back into things and have them go fairly swimmingly.” Galay agrees: “[We] finally have material that we feel is adequately recorded, as well as adequately played.”

While most of the EP recording took place four months ago, its tracks were written between eight months to two years ago. Teed says, “Of the four or five songs that are on there, some were [made by] all five of us … Others were Pasang and Nigel in years past. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge of different times and places coming together.”

In April, Jericho released a video for the first track off Vanitas, “Catching Fire.” It is a testament to the creativity of Jericho’s individual members, rich with stylized imagery against a backdrop of East Vancouver. Galay says the video is the band’s “theatricality to the [highest] degree.” While costume changes and humorous bits between songs have long had their place in Jericho’s live shows, the band finds this performance style hasn’t been as well-received now that they are playing to larger audiences. “The theatricality and the way we manage that has to be addressed,” Teed admits. “That element will still remain but we are going to be reworking how that will look … Maybe we won’t have literally so many hats on over the course of the show.”

With the release of Vanitas slated for May 12, Jericho is thinking of the future of the band. Teed says, “Everyone really enjoys playing together and being able to put out music that we all enjoy playing and listening to. I think that’s definitely kept things going, and will continue to keep things going.”

Listen to more music from Jericho at jerich0.bandcamp.com.

Song of the Day: Catching Fire by Jericho

OR Marquee Moon by Television

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Discorder Magazine.

My Terrible 24 Hour Trip to Honolulu

Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
The palm trees next to the USS Arizona Memorial, since I didn’t manage to see Pearl Harbor

In three weeks of solo travelling, my trip to Honolulu yielded my only true misadventure. I was in Hobart on the 8th, Melbourne on the 9th and Honolulu on the 9th because I crossed back over the dateline. I was a mess by the time I arrived in Honolulu at six in the morning. I was so provoked by the ten hour flight, I would have strangled someone if I wasn’t so dehydrated – water was an in flight extra. I left the airport with no knowledge of Honolulu, no sense of direction and no American money.

In spite of all that, everything was fine when I arrived at my hostel. I ate a lovely, inexpensive breakfast next to rain-washed Waikiki Beach. I had all the makings of a good day until I went to every coffee shop in the area and couldn’t find one that would accept my Canadian debit card. I despaired until two people from my room offered me a lift to Safeway. I don’t often get in cars with strangers but they told me Safeway offered cash back so I peeled my sorry ass off my bunk bed and prepared to meet my money.

Forty minutes later, I sat in the parking lot washing down macadamia nuts with half a litre of cold brew while I formulated a plan. I was determined to make it to Pearl Harbor – the only attraction I knew on Oahu – for the lowest possible cost. Instead of arranging for a tour bus, I opted to take an hour and a half’s trip on the city bus.

The bus did not take the scenic route. It travelled through the worst parts of Oahu and picked up passengers that looked tougher and meaner the further we travelled. Twenty minutes into the trip, I knew my bladder wouldn’t hold until Pearl Harbor. After a half hour of looking out the window for a stopping point that didn’t look dodgy, I jumped off and headed to an innocuous looking Burger King. Burger King denied me the washroom so I ran across to a battered strip mall. I ended up inside Chinatown Market Place, which looked as battered as the building exterior. As I sat charging my phone next to a butcher’s stall, and I got a bubble tea from an astounded young man who couldn’t comprehend how a Canadian had ended up in a strip mall in Kalihi-Palama.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach

Back on the bus with my bubble tea stowed in my bag, the area I passed through looked increasingly grim. I asked myself, Are we driving by a prison or a building that just looks like a prison? What I saw was the airport’s infrastructure; the prison was two minutes up the road.

I was about ready to wet myself by the time I reached Pearl Harbor. (Bubble tea does not an effective transit snack make.) I arrived just in time from the closure of everything at the USS Arizona Memorial, included the much-needed washrooms. The trip had taken me two and a half hours and culminated with a view of a barricade and a sign marked ‘Closed.’

I went to the nearest pub for a washroom and phone charge. I drank a beer on the balcony overlooking ’Aiea Bay and told myself about twelve times that this was nice and I wasn’t lost at all. I caught an Uber from the middle of the darkened parking lot where my Pearl Harbor journey had begun. The Uber back to my hostel cost as much as a Pearl Harbor tour bus would have.

I flew out of Honolulu at six the next morning. I returned to Honolulu exactly two months after on a layover from midnight until my flight’s nine o’clock take off. All I saw on that trip was the Don Quijote 24 hour store and the inside of the airport. Maybe next time I’m in Honolulu I’ll see something other than a grocery store.

Song of the Day: Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales by Car Seat Headrest

Album Review: February 29 by Liza

February 29 by Liza

The debut EP from Toronto-based R&B singer Liza is decidedly without winter’s chill.  Clocking in at 13 minutes, February 29 is an effective presentation of Liza’s warm vocals and her ability to move effortlessly through pitch perfect melodies. February 29 showcases her technical precision rather than her range, favouring simple arrangements sung with mastery. As a result, the production emphasizes her voice. Absent are heavy synths and bass drops, as there is no need to compensate for vocal shortcomings. Instead, the listener is left in intimate reach of Liza.

Album opener “Let You Know What” is a mellow piano and synth track about desire. Liza’s mellow vocals are at odds with the intensity of the language she uses to express this lust. “I’ve been fiending for you,” she sings smoothly, quite unlike a woman who is actually fiending for her lover. On “You,” she sounds her longing in scales, articulating desire through both her words and a mounting crescendo.

In contrast with the EP’s first two tracks, which focus on Liza’s feelings in relation to her would-be lover, “All Alone” is introspective. Synth-forward “All Alone” is the EP’s lyrical standout. On this track, Liza describes feeling alone in a crowded room by using the month of February as a metaphor for her loneliness. Though this moment is the only explicit reference to the EP’s title, Liza does not extend the metaphor. In the second half of the song, she relates this alienation to the pressures felt in school and at home: to do better and to meet the demands of others. Despite the song title, Liza is not alone in her feelings of isolation; “All Alone” is equally relatable and personal.

On the album outro “Ride,” Liza returns to the theme of desire from the EP’s opening tracks. But this time, she no longer seeks the lustful relationship she describes on “You;” instead, she seeks a relationship built upon the slow bloom of love. “Ride” is the most instrumentally complex track on the album. Its style differs from the other three tracks and their predominantly electronic production. Quiet guitars and layers of percussion float through the song. As the best showcase of Liza’s vocal range, “Ride” is a fitting outro to the EP.

With one EP under her belt, Liza is on her way to establishing herself as a highly regarded singer-songwriter. She writes with commendable frankness and honesty. However, her style is overly simplistically at times, which lessens the intimacy of her expression. Creative production and further development of her writing style will push her vocals even further and encourage a deeper connection between the artist and her listeners.

This review was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Discorder Magazine.

Song of the Day: Ride by Liza

OR Into the Black by Chromatics

Chapel Sound

More Than Music

Chapel Sound, Evan Buggle, Discorder Magazine
Photo credit to Evan Buggle, who shot these photos of Chapel Sound for Discorder Magazine

The first thing to note about Chapel Sound is that sound does not solely refer to music. Founder Sean Oh says, “When I was saying Chapel Sound, ‘sound’ was not the music. It was something that is around. Wherever you are, there is no place [without] sound. It is a ubiquitous dimension … A lot of people misinterpret that [Chapel Sound] is a musical group.” Instead, Nancy Lee adds, “It’s a frequency, it’s a vibe, it’s an energy.”

To call Chapel Sound a vibe or an energy is an effective summation of the mindset at work within the collective. More concretely, Chapel Sound is a multi-disciplinary art collective with as many as forty contributors. At their regular meeting space I meet with four of them: Oh and Lee, along with Laine Butler and Eli Muro. They are all fully immersed in the visual, sonic and curatorial aspects of the collective, which is to say they each use many verbs to describe their roles within Chapel Sound. Lee says that since Chapel Sound’s outset, “We didn’t want to have music only. We wanted to have the disciplines interact … Everyone is quite interdisciplinary.”

The members of Chapel Sound are known for throwing parties at alternative spaces throughout Vancouver. While the parties are often remembered for the DJ sets, Chapel Sound is as much about curating the vibe of a space and creating an immersive experience as they are about playing music. Chapel Sound first gained attention in September 2012 when Oh live-streamed a party he hosted in his living room, complete with visual projections and a live painting installation. The first event was an “index of what we’re interested in,” says Oh.

The subsequent parties offered a platform for artists to experiment with different mediums and to bring their artistic practices to the table. Butler performed his first live DJ set during a broadcasted party. He adds, “Chapel is kind of why I became a VJ … There was a need for it.” Similarly, Lee says that her new media practice developed as she created installations and immersive spaces for Chapel Sound events.

Chapel Sound by Evan Buggle for Discorder Magazine

Lee says that the aim from the start was to offer “an alternative space so we could get together and jam and be weird and be comfortable being weird.” Muro says of the early parties, “It was a strange sort of vibe but it worked.” They moved the parties to a larger underground space to increase the reach of the events so more people could contribute. Through their events, Chapel Sound offered a platform for DJs and producers who aren’t being booked for mainstream venues, often because their styles differ from mainstream electronic music.

Chapel Sound started hosting events in the first place because Oh “like[s] to [bring] people together.” He has aimed to bring artists together since he arrived in Vancouver. He is happy to encourage the talents of local artists in what he refers to as a “dad-type” of role within the scene. Butler adds that with Chapel Sound, “It [is] all about being inclusive.”

Inclusivity continues to be a focus for Chapel Sound, whether it means embracing a range of genres or ensuring that hosted events showcase the diversity of the collective’s members. Lee says, “Chapel Sound is a very racially diverse electronic music collective.” Muro continues, “I know that some other collectives have been criticized for being predominantly white men. I think we can be kind of proud that we’re not that.” All members I meet with agree that there isn’t a single sound that defines Chapel Sound. “People come from lots of different backgrounds, so that affects people’s styles,” says Muro. Chapel Sound’s two compilation albums effectively represent the range of styles in which its members work.

What connects the members’ work is a common vibe. Oh attributes the vibe to the Vancouver music scene and to the impact of the city’s geography and climate. Muro agrees: “Any city’s musical sound [is] influenced by the environment.” So too is a music scene influenced by its city’s history. In Vancouver, this includes a history of colonialism and of economic division. Chapel Sound aims to initiate conversations around these topics. Chapel Sound does more than offer a platform for artistic experimentation; it offers a platform for critical engagement.

In May 2016, the collective hosted its inaugural Chapel Sound Festival. In addition to parties, the festival included workshops and panels, notably a panel discussion on women in electronic music and creative technology. The women on the panel shared their experiences of discrimination in the music industry and their differing experiences based on sexual orientation, race and class. The audience was made up of more men than women, many of whom asked questions. Muro says, “We created a space that allowed for that kind of transferring of understanding.”

Now that Chapel Sound is in its fifth year and has gained acclaim beyond Vancouver, its members are able to take on new endeavours, develop their artistic practices and initiate conversation. With future events, they intend to push the conversational aspect. By offering a forum for discussion Lee says, “We can actually reflect critically on our positionality in society: to [become] more self-aware and conscious of who we are and why we make art, why we make music, why we have to go through this process to do things in Vancouver and reflect on, maybe, class divide, housing issues.” On a closing note, Lee emphasizes that the doors are open to anyone who wants to contribute to Chapel Sound. As for future goals Oh says, “I still dream about this perfect 360 experience where all of your senses are stimulated.”

You can learn more about Chapel Sound at chapelsound.org, or visit soundcloud.com/chapelsound to hear past projects and compilations.

Sound of the Day: Vices by Vbnd

OR mobb2it by clipping.

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of Discorder Magazine.

I Need a Sign or Some Funny Birds

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tofino, British Columbia, Canada

In my final month in Vancouver, I spent a lot of time bird watching. Perhaps bird watching is an extravagant term for what I was doing. I was looking for was a sign. I was on the edge of some big decisions and sought reassurance that the risk I was taking – leaving a marketing program in Vancouver for the unknown in Melbourne – was justified. Messages in bottles are hard to come by; I looked for funny birds.

Long have I had a tempestuous relationship with birds. It all began when some lunatic put a gigantic parrot on my shoulder in front of The Rainforest Café in Niagara Falls. I was ten years old. My velour boatneck peasant top did nothing to protect me from the talons of the giant bird. Oddly enough, Niagara Falls was completely infested by a particular species of ladybug at that time yet I have no qualms about flying beetles.

At the start of my first summer in Vancouver, I was attacked by a crow at the corner of 8th and Heather. A crow that was sized more like a raven dove for my head and touched down. I felt talons, feathers and fear like never before. As I ran from the swooping crow a dude who was coasting by on his bike asked, “Were you just attacked by a bird?!” “Yes, I was!” I shouted, still running away in terror. “Crazy!” he said before speeding away down the hill. I was as traumatized by his callousness as I was by the bird attack.

I have been shat on by a bird thrice in the last year. It’s supposed to bring luck, say those who have completely normal relationships to birds. I say, Come back to me when you show up to a meeting with visible avifauna feces on your coat.

Anyway, back to looking for a sign. I already knew what I wanted to do; what I needed was reassurance that my preferred course of action wasn’t going to turn my life to ruin. I started to look for arbitrary signs. A funny looking bird meant I was making the right choice. A humourless bird — an ordinary pigeon or worse, a road kill seagull — meant I was making the wrong choice. After a few days of seeing birds that were certifiable unlaughs, I came across this image:

 funny looking bird meme
My spirit animal

I was inspired. I was reassured. I made like Donald Duck and took off my pants. No, that didn’t happen. I’d like to say the funny looking bird inspirited me to the extent that I left Vancouver with complete confidence. In reality, I went along my path of choice with some doubts, sure, but with far better humour. After all, if I can’t laugh about a week spent ogling pigeons and seagulls, what can I laugh about?

Song of the Day: Bounce by Logic