By Jessica Hilo
February 10, 2009
The cold, embittered months of winter are ripe for the reflection of post-rock. Out of the confines of this shoe gazing introspection comes Ontario rockers, theyageletters. Taking cue from Burroughs and Ginsberg, theyageletters, a fivesome of accomplished multi-instrumentalists, create a soma session of mind-expansive sounds and artistic synergy sure to warm things up for spring. With growing excitement in collaborative arts organization, Grow>Build, and a new record on the dockets, theyageletters puts passion back in post-rock.
Letters members, Bilay Badoe, Michael Marucci, Cam Core, Andrew Hill, and JJ Gallo, met at renowned institute Music Industry Arts at Fanshaw College, brought together by their interest in unique music and outside thinking. Painting in broad strokes is the band’s modus operandi, creating a sound that blends their formal training in jazz and classical music and music production with the multifaceted interests of each band member. Their immediate musical influences are “bands that kind of change the norm;” which in post-rock speak translates to Mogwai, Mono, Isis, and Russian Circles. Yet on the whole, their sound is a composition of “a lot of different influences,” explains Badoe, “post-rock likes to be really mellow or really heavy. We can have a soft sound that goes heavy or a song that goes really hip hop…we have a wide spectrum, [but] it connects.” Connection is a must for the band, with an interest in promoting and innovating post-rock by exposing their many voices and artistic timbres in an effort to be far reaching: “[we like] to draw someone in [who’s] not accustomed to a heavier type of music and [help them] find that special thing.” Perhaps this is why the subject matter of Letters’ work, including their latest full length album set for release in late summer, ranges from Seinfeld to The Simpsons to South Park.
Still, anytime a band hinges its success upon broadening its definitions, it inevitably runs into industry naysayers that want to peg down a sound for marketability. “The labels that did come to us wanted to change us,” explains Badoe, “they look at us a little differently. Some promoters or bars will [even] say ‘we don’t accept your type of music.’ If they don’t want to accept us, we’ll make our own opportunity. Do our own thing…and that’s what inspired the collective.” This solution, the Grow>Build arts collective, was an assembly of musicians, artists, photographers, and arts minded individuals who collaborate on projects to promote the work of the collective’s members while also upholding artistic standards and promoting excellence and innovation. For Letters, Grow>Build is to “spread joy and the love of art and to share musical influences;” of course it doesn’t hurt that the band sells Grow>Build merchandise at their shows, but then they’re no worse than any other arts promoter.
Theyageletters has certainly come into its own and with the power of the Grow>Build collective behind it, this tenacious band is destined for greatness. Dreams are not a precious commodity: “We’d love to tour…we want to hit the Japanese market and the United States market…we want to get more into film, more in to art. We’re really into movies, art, and media culture. We’d love our music to be in movies or video games.” Though their music is ambient and ethereal, the band is smart about its success: “We never lose the quality that makes our band, our band. When [we] started, we sat down and said ‘this is the band, this is what we do, this is our career, if you want to be a musician then be in this band. If you don’t, then you’re free to leave.’ All our members are dedicated to this band. We’re prepared for [success.] We’re just waiting for it come.”