Call & Response: Olenka & the Autumn Lovers
Olenka Krakus and her band of merry musicians released a couple EPs and their self-titled debut full-length in 2008. They're wrapping up an Eastern Canadian tour this week and play The Garrison tonight with Toronto favourites The Wilderness of Manitoba.
I spoke with Olenka about loving autumn on tour, the eclectic nature of her music, and writing lots and lots (and lots) of songs.
blogTO: Are you all really autumn lovers?
Olenka Krakus: I chose the name Autumn Lovers because I want to be surrounded by people who appreciate the contradictoriness of the season and of life: the melancholy associated with the fleeting beauty of things. So in that sense, I hope that everyone I collaborate with is a genuine autumn lover. But I suppose we're all casual lovers of the season too.
Have the autumn colours made all the driving on your tour more bearable?
The drive on this tour was amazing, particularly because of the autumn colours that we saw almost everywhere. Cape Breton and was particularly breathtaking.
Has anything crazy happened to you folks on this tour yet?
Well, initially we were all kinda shaken up by a partridge that we um...chaperoned out of this world with our tour van. The bird decided to ride along on our bumper for a good few hours before we realized it was still around.
But I'd have to say that the craziest experience would have to have been a house show that we played in Saint John w/ Bruce Peninsula, Weather Station, and Entire Cities. The living room [was] wired up totally professionally. About halfway through [Bruce Peninsula's] set, in the middle of an insanely loud chorus of harmonious voices, the cops showed up. As the crowd realized what was happening, we all immediately, instinctively jumped up and joined in a cappella and BP milled off the stage and merged w/ the crowd and we all finished the song defiantly together. It was incredibly inspiring and punkass.
You're a band who's been recommended to me by multiple people here in Toronto. Would you say that "word of mouth" has helped your band the most across the country?
When bands are genuinely indie, word of mouth is pretty much the most helpful and sometimes the only way that you get your name out there. So for us, grassroots support is integral to our success. And believe me, we appreciate it.
I think in many ways it's a more genuine form of publicity, and we're very humbled by it: when people can't help but compliment the band vociferously, I feel really grateful for their enthusiasm. It's really special.
You have a very eclectic group of songs already. Is that something you set out to do from the beginning or did that just happen naturally?
I guess it's natural. I write songs very quickly, in a moment of inspiration and I don't feel constricted by genre boundaries or conventions or expectations. I write each song based on it's emotional register, so each song is it's own invention. How they blend together is not really a concern.
What's your usual recording process?
Every session has been incredibly serendipitous and haphazard and unusual. I'd love for things to settle down, but I guess the craziness of the recording situation contributes some energy and creativity too.
"Flash in the Pan" is probably my favourite song of yours. What's that one about?
Duplicity, honesty, insecurity, melancholy, disappointment, all the lovely elements that make up love and heartbreak...
Any new recordings in the works?
We are currently arranging a bunch of new songs for the next album. I've written over sixty songs since the last two releases in November, so it's a bit of a tall order trying to figure out which songs to take on. We'll probably be demoing all of November and December in prep for recording.
We're itching to record, but it'll all depend on where and when we decide to do it. I'd love to go to New York to record, but god knows if that'll actually become a realistic scenario. Hopefully we'll be starting in the new year and ready to release something by the late spring early summer.
What do you like best about visiting Toronto?
Well...I particularly like hitting the Roncesvalles neighbourhood...find me some good Polish food and wander around the music and clothing stores. I guess we all love hitting the record stores and partying it up w/ friends and eating the amazing food. There's always so much good food to choose from.
Who are your favourite Toronto bands/artists?
oh god...there are so many amazing artists in Toronto. I'm sure that's an obvious point to make, but sometimes it feels like people really underestimate how massive the scene in Toronto is.
Just quickly, and I apologize to all the lovely inspiring people who don't jump to mind at present, we are particularly fond of Barzin and his boys, The Wooden Sky, all the Bruce Peninsula peeps, Timber Timbre, $100, Brian Borcherdt, our dear friend Shawn Clarke, Forest City Lovers, well and obviously the Wilderness of Manitoba with whom we'll be playing.
There's such an amazing variety in the city... you come upon one band and a whole world of friends and collaborators is opened to you.
Are there any bands/artists in London we should check out?
Bryan Pole Band, Handsome Dan & his Gallimaufry, State Bird of Idaho, A Horse and His Boy, Nihilist Spasm Band, Samuel Musical, Whipping Wind, Lady o' Lakes, whatever Andy and Jenny are doing of late, Riderless, Thesis Sahib.
The scene is incredibly fertile right now...everybody's got at least a couple of projects up their sleeves and everyone is pushing everyone creatively, so the calibre of the musicianship keeps going up.
Any Halloween plans? What's everybody dressing up as?
Oh, I'm sure there'll be a party or two that we'll be hitting that night. We'll be back from tour that day, so maybe we can go as a disheveled band or something...
No Shame presents: Olenka & the Autumn Lovers
w/ Wilderness of Manitoba, Slow Down Molasses
Thursday, October 29
1197 Dundas Street West (at Ossington)
Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Sara Froese.
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