JUNO Spotlight: Weaves

Nominated for:
Alternative Album Of The Year

With a string of smaller releases, Weaves was already building a lot of hype around themselves by the time their self-titled debut came out. Their sound takes a pop-structure to such an addictive and abrasive place and is so distinctly their own. It's a unique wonder to behold. Their chaotic recordings get even more insane when they hit the stage bouncing all around with singer Jasmyn Burke even holding looks with crowd members. Their album along with their amazing singles bring a uniquely unbridled fury to alt-rock that rarely sounds so genuine but is all the more fun because of it.

Ottawa Life: How did your frantic, eye-staring, move everywhere kind of live show come to be?

Jasmyn Burke: I think that it just naturally happened. I've been performing since I was 15 or so. We've been playing a lot of shows together, and we have to figure our sound together. We're really comfortable with each other so we allow everyone to be frantic on stage. I enjoy looking people in the eyes because I feel like there's a lack of connections in our day to day as well.

Is the potential for it all to implode part of the fun?

I think so, we try and push ourselves to react with one another  and it's more improv on stage. For us it almost makes it more fun. You perform these songs every night so you try and make it exciting for each other and also for the audience. Some people have seen us a few times and we should try and have a different show every time. At the same time even though it seems chaotic we always know where we are in the song, even though it seems crazy, there's four bars of crazy. It's fluid but it's also us having fun with each other playing off of the sound one of us is making.

Did you want to replicate this in the off the floor recordings?

Yeah, with our EP it was just Morgan and I recording while nitpicking, in this insular way. With our live show we realized there was something special happening, and we decided to record live off the floor. We're doing that again with the next record which we've started recording so it's exciting. It's a fun way to create songs on our record. "Two Oceans" was completely improvised on the floor, one day we were joking around talking about wine, and then we ended up recording that song. Now it's one of our favourite because we can do whatever we want live with it.

How exactly did the band evolve from you doing live loops on your own to a clash-fille, in-your-face, abrasive rock sound it is now?

I guess it's just the way we record. All the songs start with my loops alone, vocals and guitar. Morgan and I build on that together, so I'll go to his house and demo my loops. Most of the songs we've put out, I create all the lyrics and melodies before we go in to rearrange the music. It's building from the inwards out, so there's always a core part, the original voice memo, but we have fun trying different guitars and bass until it sounds like a Weaves song.

Were the honest and gross lyrics in your songs something you wanted to do make your music more earnest?

I always want to be as free as possible. I try and be honest but also experiment with language. There's not a lot of rock bands that are that popular and I kind of wanted to flip the content on what we're supposedly supposed to talk about, which is always heartbreak or falling in love. I wanted to write a song about living in a shithole, which is relevant to everybody as well. It's just about being free, and the way that I write it just comes out right away and there's no premeditating. I just write the lyrics in half an hour, so it's this very free process of funneling what comes through my head and make it into a song.

You guys had been putting out singles for a while so what finally locked in the idea of an album?

It was all pretty fast, but it seems like a while. We started our band and then we put out an EP a year later, and we put out singles which got a lot of attention so people were anticipating an album, but we didn't have enough material yet. Then we toured, we got to play Glastonbury and all these crazy things. So it took us a year and a half to create the album, and it takes another couple months for all the mixing and matching, and artwork. So even though it seems like a lot of time, it wasn't because we were navigating. In terms of this record that we're recording now, it was interesting to try and write songs within five months. Our goal is to have it done by the end of next month in May. We started writing in October, so that was a fun exercise because we'd never written that quickly.

There's pluses and minuses to writing over a long period of time versus a short period of time. I'm a person that likes to get things done, so short periods of time are good to put pressure on yourself, but our album came out organically when it was supposed to, we didn't want to rush it and we wanted to release something we were proud of.  

Is the unbelievably vicious sound you guys make a result of jamming or a more loose and back and forth writing process?

As a whole our sound develops from touring, so now when we start rehearsing a song it takes on this voice that everyone's been working on individually as we tour. I guess I'm an abrasive, extreme personality so it kind of comes out in the way I write. Morgan and I have demos ready before we bring them to the guys, and then we just go over the songs and rehearse them. They always change over tour too because you play them every night and try and make them more exciting and bigger for festivals. It just naturally happens where your sound elevates from it, you want it to be extreme. We don't want our band to be background music, and we don't want you to be able to walk by and think oh that's a lullaby. It's just stretching things and pushing people to think about music differently.

Under all the grimy sheen there's definitely a pop sound there, do you guys feel more inspired by pop than rock and do you use the guitars as more of an aesthetic?

I think we're influenced by both. Morgan comes from more of a producer side, so he listens to a lot of different music and tries to take elements from different genres. I think having that open mind has helped our band, because we never wanted to be in a particular genre, we're just trying to make something unique and it's hard in this day and age to do that, because everything's been covered. It's finding our own voice. But we're definitely more a pop band, than a rock band, it's more musically aggressive than emotionally aggressive. We're still writing hooks and trying to make things that people can dance to, so it's more of a twisted version of pop music.

I heard you called Katie from Dilly Dally the morning you were both nominated so what was the reaction from your side like when you heard about your JUNO nomination?

It's pretty exciting. You kinda just make music for your friends and to get out your own emotions. It was exciting for ourselves and our family to have that kind of recognition happen. It's just a nice moment for everyone to celebrate and look back. You get really busy with your album and touring, so it's nice to look back and say this is something people enjoyed and we're really happy.