Loon Town is back in the studio! Bob Jonkman talks with Danielle Savage, Nic Hyatt, and Dave Lacalamita about their tour of Ontario and Québec, making their video for Silver Flowers, musical collaboration, and writing harmonies. And Loon Town performs some songs, Live, On-Air, In-studio!
Quick band intro. Reviewing the Ontario/Québec tour. Discussing Great Sorrow lyrics, and how collaboration works. The structure (and length) of the Slow Space album. “Bootleg” music from Dave’s previous visit. There’s some material for a new album, but for now concentrating on performing the current songs together. Nic explains why some songs didn’t make it to this album; they’re conceptually different. Discussing the artwork on the website and the album cover. Talking about the video for Silver Flowers that was shot in Québec the past weekend.
“It ends abruptly, right here.” Talking about the rhythmic structure of Silver Flowers. Shoutouts to the video production crew, discussing the complexity of shooting video and recording an album. Getting together again in the spring for more songwriting. Spread across Canada, it’s like Loon Town has four hometowns, with a home crowd at every stop.
Bob resists the impulse to sing along. How Ice Cream Shop was developed. Sharing collaborative works to perform them solo — is there a “proprietary” feeling to the songs? No, the members are attached to the results but happy to play them; there’s a generosity to it. Talking about rights and songwriting credits: Everything is shared equally. How about the public “sharing” Loon Town music? It’s unavoidable, and they don’t mind as long as it’s from the ethos of sharing, but not for profit. The music is copyrighted, but they’re open to sharing if someone asks. Drop them a note! Cover versions of songs are equally valid. All band members have jobs in the music field: Dave is a music teacher, Nic runs a record label, Danielle does sound installations, and Milli is a full-time drummer. But they’ve all packed boxes and cut staples in their off-season. But this month of touring has been a full-time music gig, and it’s slowly increasing.
How Black Crow here differs from the album track, and it’s more upbeat when played live with the band. Bob thought Dave’s guitar had been restrung, but it’s still wound nylon strings making a slidey effect between notes. Seeing what a song lives as — embracing who’s there, what instruments are there. The first album Exit Strategy was different from Slow Space, these songs have all existed as “B” sides or demo versions. Collaborating by sharing files might be time-consuming, with the danger of losing the creative spark. But Danielle says there wasn’t a lot of waiting; everyone had a shared repertoire and worked on it. There was enough material that if there was a lull they could pick up something else. Did some “distance residencies”, took a week to spend time writing together, called each other to work on material. Sometimes a song comes all at once, sometimes it can take years to finish the last 10%. The last 25% is the hardest. All members have other collaborators for different projects, creating different music. Lots of new material for the Radio Waterloo library! Shoutout to campus and community radio station, where interesting music is being played all the time. There is Loon Town merch, a vinyl disc of Slow Space! Hand-delivery by a band member if you’re in their hometown!
Introducing Dave Lacalamati from Loon Town and his travelling bandmates. Introducing the band: Danielle Savage from Penticton, Nic Hyatt from Whitehorse, and Milli Hong from Montréal. How they met, how they manage to have a band scattered across Canada. Using Ableton to collaborate remotely. Upcoming shows: Cameron House on Thursday; at Sephora Catana’s studio in the old Boehmer Box Factory building in Kitchener. In Ottawa on Saturday, and Montréal on Sunday. Then band members are doing some playing and writing together, playing in Sarnia a week later, and then Dave follows the others to play in British Columbia. This is the first tour and playing live since the start of the pandemic. And the Slow Space album has just been released on 4 November. Going to play a track from that now.
Identifying the genre of Loon Town music, Dave identifies it as “Synth Pop”, the Exit Strategy album is “Psych Synth Rock”, more heavy guitar, busier drumbeats. Dave is playing an acoustic guitar today, and composes on guitar with a little bit on piano. Nick, Danni and Dave are all songwriters, one goal of the new album is collective songwriting. Bob is surprised that composing is sometimes accidental. New songs are shared with the band by audio clips, written out only to figure out details. Not all the chords have names! Dave and Nick like improv, Milli is a jazz musician. Hoping to incorporate some improv in their live performances. This will be the first time all four musicians have played together in person!
The album version has differences from the live version. Examining Dave’s guitar, which he uses to write music. Talking about how the rest of the band composes. Doing some group composition now that the group is together. And shooting a video when they’re in Montréal, something “upbeat”. Dave is a music teacher at St. Mary’s high school, his students describe all music as “upbeat”. Composing professionally helps teach music to the students; some teachers lack that context. Dave teaches “Music and Computers”, using computers to record, compose. There’s a computer lab, not unlike the CKMS-FM studio. Maybe get some student compositions on the air! So much local talent and local music being produced. A little local community radio history. Dave taught drama during the pandemic, and plays a song about the process of “getting out of your head” and being a bit over-confident.
Maybe this song was autobigraphical? Dave didn’t write it with himself in mind. It’s a fun song, and the chords are simple. Talking about what’s happening in the world of education today. Kids are not in school due to an education workers’ strike. Discussing the government’s treatment of hard-working but low-paid workers, which has said that human rights don’t matter here. Dave knew education minister Steven Lecce from their university days, not surprised he’s a politician. Does Loon Town have protest music? Not as such, there needs to be a chantable chorus. But all members of the band are politically engaged, and comment on the state of the world; music is a way of recapturing some of that power. Recap of upcoming performances. Discussing the Loon Town website, a animated map of Loon Town. Clicking on the icons will play music. After Toronto and Kitchener the tour continues to Ottawa, Montréal, Penticton, Nelson, and Vancouver. There are some unused songs for a new album. But Dave is interested in pursuing music with specific sounds that exist in the band. Dave would like to revisit the sound of Exit Strategy, there’s a lot of energy in that album. Dave has done a bit of solo work, an improv piano set, and has been playing a bit with Alison Corbett and Grady Caplan. Dave introduces the last song.