By Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Sebastian Buzzalino.
A young band from Canada is bound to go through some changes in its lifespan–much like that beloved awkward conversation every adolescent has with their parent and or guardian–at some point.
Though, as parents will inevitably spin it, this change is supposed to be good.
Windigo from Calgary, AB is in the midst of these changes. The band is about to come out on the other side of said changes, but still not there yet and truth be told, they’re not sure if they ever will be. We have been fortunate enough to catch them at an interesting time; after having released The Rhombus EP in August of 2013, which they deem to be an EP about “imperfections and love,” they admit that the EP, while indicative of the band at that time, it acts more as an interim.
The sound of the record is more straight-ahead folk and since technically any release a band puts out is “their sound,” that EP specifically speaks to a transitional time they were going through, what with member changes and all, that for their next release, they’re sticking to what they know best: Canadian indie rock.
BTR had a chat with three-fourths of the band: Anthony Kameka, Jen Severtson, and Mitch Cooper as they were just finishing up booking a fall tour to Montreal.
The one-fourth of the band not present during the interview is the illustrious Barry Mason whom Severtson dubs as the “mysteriously, very handsome guitar player” of the band, which bodes well for him as he just joined about a month ago. This is perhaps the biggest shift the band has experienced in recent history.
As mentioned before, they’re finally starting to solidify some consistency after “those magic changes,” as Kameka says.
“I think recently we’ve established each member more,” he continues. “Like, I don’t think Mitch is replaceable at all or Barry or Jen so I think this is it.”
To be fair though, no band would go on the record with the Discovery Corner podcast on BTR to say that any one of the members was replaceable but still, the fact that they’re strong in their convictions about this new guy is a good sign. Now that the band has its solidified “core,” they say that they’ve been able to hammer out an identity made up of “musical differences that really stand out.”
This prompts Severtson to compliment the individual members of the band saying Cooper’s drumming, “brings an aspect that is… unusual.”
“I’ve never heard a drummer play how you [addressing Cooper] along with Barry’s ‘own psychedelic flavor on everything’.”
Three of the members also live together in Calgary, which they believe helps out with the creative process.
“There’s sort of no limit to when we can just go downstairs into the jam space and work on something if we want to. If one or two of us is home we can work little things out before the four of us meet to jam so that’s been super helpful,” says Severtson.
The band speaks of this ESP-like connection they have with each other in regard to writing songs. As they all live with each other, Windigo songs often come from messing around with equipment and Cooper says one such song was him and Kameka “screwing around with a loop pedal and wrote an entire song that way.”
Despite only having been around for two and a half years, Severtson says she “can tell when Anthony’s thinking about changing a part or when Mitch wants to make things heavier or less intense.” They say that this heightened awareness has grown since the beginning with Severtson and Kameka, as well as a separate permutation of Cooper and Severtson in another band “three or four years ago.”
Say what you want about the existence of ESP, but it really must cut down the time for band meetings. When Kameka was starting the band initially, he knew he wanted to have a female vocalist working with him after having spent a lot of time previously in pop-punk bands, generally a “boy’s club.” He says that a previous member, Chris, brought Severtson to Kameka’s attention saying, “Yeah, this is the girl. She loves these bands that you love.”
“I heard her voice and I knew right away, ‘Wow, okay. That’s the one.’ It was just definitely just her musical background. I was still discovering what Windigo would be and who I was so I didn’t really have a vision at the beginning. I just knew I needed a female vocalist. She’s done exactly what I wanted and way more,” says Kameka on how Severtson set the precedent of “a female vocalist.”
The way Kameka and Severtson split the vocal duties is more of a case-by-case basis instead of arbitrarily picking a number of songs each should sing on. Kameka says they “share the role” even to the degree where they are singing to each other where the words “intermingle.” Severtson says, however, that they don’t consciously try to split songs down the middle but instead go by what “we’re feeling at the time.”
If you were to peruse Windigo’s catalogue, you might think that Retrospectrum was their most recent record as it offers a full-band instrumentation and would be the album that “sums up” the band, as it were. However, their most recent is The Rhombus EP as well as Live Off the Floor EP, the former of which is a stripped-down acoustic EP and the other is, well, live. This almost seems anachronistic to how it usually goes with a band’s trajectory but not for Windigo. It was all circumstance.
Kameka says that the EP was released in a time when they were between drummers so their singular thought was, “Hey, you know what? We have a bunch of these acoustic songs, let’s do an album.” Instead, the next album will be “more like Retrospectrum as far as it being indie-rock.”
“It’s strange. Our band has gone through a lot of transitions since Retrospectrum. We’ve gone through three guitarists and two drummers and our sound has changed a lot since then. One of our guitarists went off to Japan and then it was left to me, Anthony, and our other guitarist Chris. We pretty much changed our entire sound while he was away, writing, and we were also looking for another drummer at the same time. I think probably the most reflective thing that we have out right now is the Live Off the Floor EP that we just put out but even now with Barry joining the band, everything is changing again so the next album is going to be completely different from Rhombus and Retrospectrum,” says Severtson.
Some things are meant to stay the same, others are defined by change. Windigo seem to embody the latter, where the only constant is change.
Change with the seasons with Windigo by clicking here.
Check out Windigo’s music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.