Ohbijou have always worn their emotions on their sleeves. Starting with the band’s new album Metalmeets and looking and listening back to their 2006 debut Swift Feet for Troubling Times, it’s easy and really inspiring to hear how Ohbijou grew over time. Their earlier songs have always been sweet, expanded and built up beautifully, but there’s something really special going on within this collection of songs on Metalmeets. It’s not always so obvious to see where you’re going until you get there. Ohbijou’s songwriting and delicately orchestrated songs have matured far beyond their debut. The band’s new songs are heavier, impacted by effect pedals, distortion and the emotions are uncontrollable (in a good way). The tones and melodies are dynamic, the songwriting is dense, and described in the band’s bio as experimental and inspired “by ventures to cabins in the woods, travel across Asia, Europe and North America (as they headlined tours), and lyrical reflections on familial bloodlines that move across borders.”
VIEW caught up with the band’s lead singer Casey Mecija on a Friday morning, hours before the band was to appear on “the George Stroumboulopoulos Show” – Ohbijou’s first appearance on national TV. We dove right into the album, the conception of the band’s third album Metalmeets. “We decided that instead of having weekly writing sessions we would divide our time more into focus time, so that involved us going away to a cottage in a small town called Dyer’s Bay – on the Bruce Peninsula. We went there for three or four sessions and we arranged the hell out of a lot of these demos that I had,” explains the singer–songwriter. “After finishing a handful of demos we tried to think of who we could record with that could capture this sort of new environment we were putting the songs in.
“We wanted to incorporate more reverbs and delays and more effects into our sounds so we contacted Jace Lasek who is in the Besnard Lakes and records a bunch of different bands. By reputation he’s known for being able to create these big sounds and so we decided to work with him and go to montreal for two sessions and record our album. A lot of the songs on the album started off with me writing them on my own in my bedroom or wherever – things were really given a breathe of life at that cottage in Dyer’s Bay.”
Metalmeets begins with “Niagara” an eloquent and emotional love song that continues with the energy that could be found on their 2007 album Beacons. Mecija links Niagara Falls as an element into the song, and less of a geographical location. “It’s really a way of relating emotions of this particular song. It’s a love song, and we wanted to convey the grittier side of it and parallel that with the image of the falls and the power behind the water. Something like that I think added to the aesthetic of the song.”
“Niagara” will also be Ohbijou’s first single off the album and they worked with Jared Raab on the music video. “[Jared’s] done videos for the Arkells and the Born Ruffians,” notes Mecija. “It’s all pretty amazing slow–motion shots of people jumping on trampolines and there’s water – we’re excited for it!”
On Ohbijou’s previous albums, Mecija would write heavily about her surroundings from A Parkdale dollarmart on the song “To Rest in Peace on Righteous Tides” to a raccoon fight outside her home on “Raccoons.” Not only has Mecija diversified her songwriting on Metalmeets but she’s also started to co–write with her bandmates Ryan Carley and her sister Jenny Mecija. “I think by our third album our band wanted to capture, not a more mature – but something that was more, I guess, complex. For a lot of instances as a band we were definitely located in a specific area of Toronto in a specific community of music that surrounded Queen West and this house I lived in on Bellwoods Avenue.
“We were curating so many shows there, we were playing shows ourselves and practicing in this little house and our music career started to bloom and we had the opportunity to tour around the world and met a bunch of different people and explore the world with more complexity and depth and with this record we were trying to convey that.”
Over the years in Bellwoods Avenue, Mecija and company helped create and curate two compilations: Friends in Bellwoods and Friends in Bellwoods 2. These compilations included many beloved Canadian musicians including Snailhouse, Germans, Kids on TV, Forest City Lovers, Basia Bulat, Great Bloomers, Final Fantasy and many others. “Proceeds [of the album sales] go to the Daily Bread Food Bank and right now we’ve surpassed $30,000 – we wanted to make as much money as possible and hitting that marker was really exciting for us and the compilations continue to sell. It’s a project that Jenny and I are still involved in and evolving.” V
w/Casey Baker, Grey Kingdom, A Sea of Gold and Burgundy.
Tuesday, September 27, 8pm.
@ L3 Nightclub, 6 James St.
Wednesday, September 28, 9pm.
@ This Ain’t Hollywood
345 James St. N., Hamilton.