Call & Response: Ohbijou
Ohbijou return with their third LP Metal Meets, an experimental record that pushes the band into new sonic territory. Long-time followers of the indie-pop group will notice a few things that stick out on casual listen, like the semi-blown-out reverb, luminous and atmospheric arrangements, ascending harmonies, and lead singer Casey Mecija's airy vocals seeping through metallic strings. The elemental LP holds you "in something more than this," as Mecija sings in the track "Sligo." The music digs deeper and deeper, where you find yourself fully immersed in the band's emotive song-writing and honest imaginative compositions.
In our interview, Casey Mecija talks about the creation of the LP, the band's expanding sound and its show next Friday at Trinity St. Paul's.
Almost every member of the band has a side project. What was it like to have everybody working together again on the new LP Metal Meets?
It was really nice to have everyone together for the making of Metal Meets. For the writing/arranging of this record we retreated to a cottage located in a small hamlet in the Bruce Peninsula called Dyer's Bay. It was an important time for us to focus on writing and playing music together. Our lives had become so entangled in other projects and endeavours that in order to prioritize this record we had to leave Toronto and all of its distractions.
How would you describe the new LP? What's different about this record from your past releases?
This record for us is sonically more expansive than our previous albums. With the application of effects like reverb and delay we hoped to bring our songs into a moodier and bolder environment. As well, much of the records lyrics were inspired by books I was reading at the time and the travels the band experienced while being on tour. I think with the weight of more global perspectives and literary inquests this album looks at the world with more depth and complexity.
We know that Metal Meets was recorded outside of Toronto (in Montreal). Can you describe the place where you recorded the album and what the initial idea was for the LP?
We recorded Metal Meets with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes at Breakglass Studios in Montreal. We chose to record with him because the quality and creativity of his work suited our desires for this record. We had spent a lot of time recording demos for this album. We had dreamt up soundscapes, worked out arrangements and knew we wanted big sounds. Breakglass was the perfect place to create those sounds.
Geography seems important in this album. Can you describe how the idea of place resonates in Metal Meets?
For many years Ohbijou was located in a very specific part of Toronto. We practiced, partied, organized and lived by Trinity Bellwoods Park. Touring and moving into other neighbourhoods necessitated a new understanding of the social geography of our city. In Metal Meets I was also interested in exploring diasporic geographies, which of course constitute Toronto.
Experimental is one way to describe the album. How does the idea of exploring unfamiliar territories reflect the band's attitude towards music creation?
With this album we wanted to demonstrate our maturity as a band and capture a more pensive relationship to our music. More experimental sounds and lyrics are a result of our growth as a band.
And what about this idea of returning home? One of your songs has a Tagalog title "Balikbayan", a term that means to go back to your hometown?
That is one meaning for the word Balikbayan. It also refers to Filipinos in the diaspora and to the boxes of goods they send home to their families. This song is about the struggles Filipinos go through to create a safe life for their families.
Metal Meets has a very earthy, elemental feel, reciprocating sounds of digging or noise you could imagine buried deep underground, like the cavernous echoes of metallic instrumentation in "Iron and Ore". Where did this inspiration come from?
Our record Metal Meets is a love story. It's about the synthesis of natural elements and electric encounters. Lava, irons and metals symbolize earthly and dark desires. We wanted to forge a new language to describe emotions in need of immediate articulation.
What can fans and new listeners expect from Metal Meets. And what about your show on the 30th at Trinity St. Paul's?
Fans will hear a more thoughtful and cohesive album. With Metal Meets audiences will encounter Ohbijou's attempt at performing this love story and showcasing our musicality in the process. Our show on the 30th at Trinity St. Paul's, will present Metal Meets in an intimate setting. We hope to surprise our audience with an entertaining and dynamic performance that will include projections by director Jesse Ewles.
Photo by Reynard Li