What is this and where is it going? You may ask yourself those very questions listening to local Montreal band The Artsy Chicks. The truth is you’ll never know and that’s just fantastic. For now, let’s describe their music as experimental, although that will change from one album to the next according to the band’s keyboardist Zach Scholes.
Scholes met fellow bandmates Dominic Caterina (guitar), Juan Cruz Fernandez (guitar/vocals), Mario Lombardi (bass, tenor saxophone) and Corey Tardiff (drums) while studying music at Vanier College and formed The Artsy Chicks exactly one year ago, in the spring of 2013. They had already released a full-length album, Kwoto Zeetrus, by November. The album is a rambling exploration of noise, post-rock, a good measure of jazz and a hint of surf rock. It showcases the band’s impeccable balance between chaos and structure. It’s some good noise, that’s for sure.
The band have another record coming out this summer and Scholes explained that this time, their sound will be much more surf rock oriented.
“One of the reasons we all got together is we wanted to be in a project that does whatever it wants to do. We just like to try and do different things and do our best. All of us really enjoy music, we all study different things and continue to study so we wanted an outlet for that,” he said. “We’re already working on the next two records and they’re going to be totally different. We’re all musicians and we’re all composers, we all do different things that stimulate us musically.”
Nowadays, it’s common to see so many different influences coming together in a band’s sound. The Artsy Chicks have a bit of a more novel approach in that they go through phases with their composition, much like many listeners, myself included, go through phases with music. You might be really into a certain genre for a little while and eventually you start feeling something else.
The one thing the band conscientiously strives for when it comes to their sound is honesty, not just with listeners but also among themselves.
“That’s the feeling that I like and that’s the feeling that we’re trying to go for. [Bands who try to sound a certain way], there’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t work for us and the way we think about it,” Scholes said. “We worked really hard to get into a position where you can tell someone flat-out ‘this isn’t working’. That person can tell you to fuck off if they want to. There’s a nice dynamic there. I think it makes for better music.”
The band are taking full advantage of their current dynamic and steady surge of material and are trying to get it all out while it’s there. This explains how they’re managing to work on two albums simultaneously after having released one just six months ago. Not to mention all the shows they’ve been playing in Montreal and the Canadian tour they’ll embark on mid-June (they have an Indiegogo campaign on right now to help fund the tour).
They’ve played with plenty of prominent local bands including Atsuko Chiba, Archery Guild and Hellenica and participated in the fourth edition of monthly series The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature.
“There are so many great bands,” Scholes said. “We really like playing with Hellenica, it just seems to fit so well with what we’re doing now. It’s amazing to see him live cause he’s one guy with a guitar. It’s quite a mind-trip.”
He said The Artsy Chicks will be playing with Hellenica again for their album launch July 6 at La Vitrola (details to come).
Scholes also had nice things to say about another Montreal band, Feefawfum, who will be performing with them tonight.
“They’re amazing. It’s going to be really out there,” he said. “The guys in the band are phenomenal musicians and we’re really excited to be playing with them.”
The Artsy Chicks perform tonight, May 11 at Piccolo Rialto with Feefawfum and Palm Trees. Doors open at 8 p.m., $5.
Photo by Justine Israel courtesy of The Artsy Chicks.
*Correction: This post originally stated The Artsy Chicks’ sophomore album launch would take place June 6 instead of July 6. Apologies for the error.