What do you get when you blend the creative outlets of short film, music and literature? You get the conglomerate known as Hollis Quarterly: as ambitious as it is inspiring, Ontario native Brandon Shantz is the brains behind what has become, literally, a symphony.
Taking his anecdotes and turning them into short films (I recommend checking out Poor Shrooms), taking his songs and turning them into wild live performances, and taking his concepts and turning them into a novel about a 24-year old man set on self-immolating at Disney World, that, in a nutshell, is the merry-go-round of Hollis Quarterly.
The latest incarnation of Hollis Quarterly was performing on Thursday (August 21st) at Cagibi; I say “latest incarnation” because Hollis Quarterly has seen several aesthetic makeovers throughout the years, from classical backing bands to member changes. With just two weeks of jam sessions under their belt, the performance was a testament to the instrumental skill of its current members (Shantz on guitar and vocals, Frances Lebel on drums and backing vocals, Jevon Ellison on bass and backing vocals and Paul De Rita on lead guitar), as they pulled together a tight set of heavy jams. Songs were laden with lyrical content that ripped at the heart and packed with powerful melodies, leaving plenty of room for beautiful musical sweet spots.
But Hollis Quarterly proves yet again to be in constant flux, a project of tenuous transience, as it has been announced that their bass player will be moving to Australia in ten days.
Says Shantz of the project, “The internet makes it easy to get things out to an audience. I think having reliable releases and innovative, eclectic work in a variety of forms on a ridiculously low budget will attract people. There’s a business model to it as well that I think will be an interesting experiment.” Planning to do seasonal EP releases, accompanied by short film and sections of his novel, he intends to have it all unleashed on the world by Christmas 2015.
Like many Canadian artists, Shantz has been, and will be, using Canadian arts grants to accomplish projects, and if the success of Thursday’s performance is evidence of things to come, this writer suggests keeping an eye on Hollis Quarterly, as this multi-faceted experience unfolds.