From time to time, we stumble upon a song that gives us a feeling of infinity. A flashback into the past. A way to feel. One of those songs is definitely “A Year Ago” by the Toronto-based band “Birds of Bellwoods”. We were lucky to be allowed to ask them some questions we would love to share with everyone.
Hi Guys! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. How are you today?
We’re still recovering from our album preview show at the Mod Club in Toronto. It was a night to remember for all of us. We got to play a sold out crowd in our home town, preview our upcoming album, and share the stage with a horn section for the first time!
Would you mind telling us a little bit about how the Band started and do you each individually remember the first memory you have that is connected to music?
The band started about three years ago, but Stevie, Adrian and Kintaro have all known each other since they were kids. They met Chris shortly after returning to Toronto after some time studying in Montreal. There was a break up, and Stevie ended up on Adrian’s couch, and Adrian told Stevie he could either get his shit together or they could start a band, so, option two.
Stevie: I think honestly my first memory of music might be hearing All Star by Smash Mouth played unironically on the radio.
Kintaro: Falling asleep to my dad playing folk songs almost every night.
Adrian: Definitely throwing a tantrum while my mum was trying to teach me piano as a child.
Chris: At age 4ish singing Man of La Mancha for dinner guests using the fireplace as a stage.
You are mostly known for your lyrical storytelling, are your songs based on real-life experiences or where to you find your inspiration?
Yes, all of our songs are based in one way or another on personal experiences. Sometimes it’s from another perspective than our own, or it’s a hypothetical response, but we’re always writing what we know, so to speak.
After releasing your first EP “The Fifth” which won an award, did you feel any changes or pressures coming along with the success?
Not really – ‘The Fifth’ was one project and this is another. Comparison is the thief of joy. And besides, we’re just not the band that we were when we created ‘The Fifth’. We’ve grown a lot and so has the music, and at the end of the day we loved making this album and we love playing it.
Would you say Toronto as a city has an influence on your music?
Absolutely. Most of us grew up here – we took part of our name from a park on the west end. Anywhere you go your environment is going to be a defining factor of your work. Plus we’ve got an incredible music scene, and we’re lucky to draw inspiration from our own community.
The mission of our website is bringing people together with the power of music and letting them share a story to a song that is connected to something special in their life as a song that helped someone might be able to help someone else too. Is there a specific song that helped you and would you mind sharing the story?
“Montezuma” by the Fleet Foxes played while driving through a mountain pass in Jasper for sure helped all of us come to terms with the fleeting nature of mortality and the unavoidable flaws inherent to being human.
We were playing our first show out west; some of us had never seen a mountain in person. We drove into the range from Edmonton, and as it grew around us we all just went kind of silent, and there was this feeling of futility and gratefulness all rolled into one.
Do you use other artistic expressions next to music and in your opinion, what makes music so unique?
Stevie will be in a CBC/Netflix show coming out this fall called ‘Alias Grace’, and all four of us have some decent acting experience under our belts. But there’s nothing quite like a concert. People get to cheer, and dance, and drink, and celebrate. Music is immediately cathartic.
It seems like on the one side there are people who say “music saved my life” while on the other, people deny that music itself has no ability to save someone. Would you mind sharing your own opinion on this?
For some people music can save their life, or at least help re-direct it. Music can provide an escape. Music can give purpose. Music can define emotions.
It is impossible to say that music as a whole can have an equal impact on every person. For us as a group, and individuals, music has definitely had a major impact, for better or worse. The jury is still out on whether or not it was a good idea to listen to “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” 578 times in a row, but it definitely felt necessary at the time.
Before we come to an end, is there anything you would like to say to people who are struggling at the moment?
Just that they’re not alone and they should come dance it out and talk about it.
Again, thank you so much for taking the time!