WIMF 2015: A QUEEN'S JOURNAL REVIEW THE FESTIVAL THE ARTISTS PHOTOS & REVIEWS THE PARTY BOAT THE FOOD THE DIRECTOR
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ruben kalaichandran
kia kortelainen
sebastian leck
lauren luchenski
mishal omar
krishna patel
anisa rawhani
ramna safeer
kayla thomson © The Queen's Journal 2015

THE ARTISTS

Words by Sebastian Leck, Lauren Luchenski, Mishal Omar, Anisa Rawhani and Ramna Safeer

FOR ARTIST BIOS + Q&As CLICK ON THE NAMES BELOW
OR SIMPLY SCROLL DOWN TO SEE ALL PROFILES


Q&As have been condensed and edited for clarity

DAY ONE ARTISTS

DAY TWO ARTISTS

Full day one review Full day two review
The Attic Kids Lost Cousins
Daniel Romano HIGHS
Elliott Brood Taylor Knox
The Kodeines TOPS
Limblifter Moonface
Elsa Lowell
Spencer Burton The Elwins
Brendan Philip Hayden
Megan Hamilton Operators
Wax Mannequin Constantines
Mo Kenney

DAY 1 - ARTISTS

THE ATTIC KIDS
BIO
Q&A
Kingston natives The Attic Kids wrote their debut EP Where We Belong in their house on Alfred St. during their time at Queen’s. With Nick Castel on vocals and synth, Freddy Kwon on guitar, 
Adam Marks on bass and Kyle O’Shaughnessy on drums, the boys are no strangers to Kingston’s vibrant indie music scene. The foursome has played gigs at The Grad Club, The Mansion, 
The Brooklyn and Musiikki Café. Their sound is energetic, yet warm. The sound keeps you on your feet, while the lyrics keep you grounded.
The Attic Kids performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Krishna Patel of Studio Q.
Tell me about the beginnings of the band. Where did all start for you guys? Freddy: In first year [in 2013], in the Vic Hall elevator, I saw this guy named Benjamin Swan with his guitar. I asked him where I could go on campus to just jam and he told me to check out Queen’s Music Club. When I started going to jam sessions there, Ben and I started to joke around about starting a band. Later on, I found a drummer named Nash. Ben and Nash eventually moved on, transferred out or went on exchange. Nick: We were all kind of mutual friends at the time. I joined and eventually Kyle and Adam came on board and the rest is history. What’s it been like playing the Wolfe Island Music Festival? Nick: I actually attended the festival last year and had the most amazing time. I’ve been to some of the bigger festivals, like Osheaga, but I still prefer the smaller ones. The atmosphere is so much more intimate and laid back. It’s less stressful and hectic, there’s no pressure about anything. It’s a really chill time. The hype with all the big festivals can be a great thing, but can also been such a downfall in terms of that intimate feeling you want to have with these great bands. Kyle: And local acts! The huge festivals are lined with huge names but these festivals are for the homegrown musicians who are still trying to make it. It’s a special, special thing. What would you say to another group of young musicians like yourselves? What are some valuable things you’ve learned that you would tell them? Freddy: Suck if you have to. Just go for it. Nick: Take it seriously, but make sure you have a good time. That’s honestly the most important thing. Kyle: Also, contact us! We love to meet and jam out with other Kingston bands, so give us a shout.
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DANIEL ROMANO
BIO
Q&A
Daniel Romano is a country musician who hails from Welland, Ontario. Romano has an impressive discography, having released five albums in the past six years. He’s collaborated and worked with other popular artists, including Julie Doiron, Frederick Squire and City and Colour. He was also the vocalist and lead guitarist in the indie-rock band Attack in Black. Romano's most recent album, If I've Only One Time Askin’ was released on July 3 of this year.
Daniel Romano performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Krishna Patel of Studio Q.
You recently released an album just a few days ago. What inspired 
that album? I probably recorded it maybe two years ago and I don't really remember. It feels like somebody else's record in a way, because I'm semi-detached from it now and I haven't really listened to it, but I remember thinking that at the time. But I'm proud of the songs. They were what they were for when they were. How has it been received so far? Good, I think. I try not to care about that but I heard that it's been received well. I didn't hear anything negative, which is not necessarily always good. So far so good. How did you feel about the crowd here at Wolfe Island? I was a bit worried, to be totally honest, when the first band was playing that it was going to be a flop, but the people are making up for the lack in numbers with enthusiasm.
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ELLIOTT BROOD
BIO
Q&A
Toronto’s Elliott Brood is a true Canadian roots band. In 2002, Casey Laforet and Mark Sasso were brought together by their love for Neil Young. Stephen Pitkin met 
Laforet and Sasso while working on sound for one of the duo’s early concerts. He soon joined the band, and Elliot Brood was born. Since 2004, the band has released five albums. Their fifth and most recent album, Work and Love, was released in October 2014. The title of the album was inspired by lyrics from the Constantines’ song Soon Enough: “work and love will make a man out of you”. The album is a remembrance of their youth and the moments of early adulthood that came after it. Work and Love stays true to their loud, foot-stomping, soul-touching, alternative-country musical style, but adds a grown-up 
sound with their most personal songs so far.
Elliott Brood performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Krishna Patel of Studio Q.
What inspired you to name your new album, Work and Love, after a lyric from a Constantines song “Soon Enough”? Casey: Bryan Webb’s lyric, “soon enough work and love will make a man out of you,” stood out with all of us as something that was really poignant. [As] young males, you go through that … you’re a kid and then those are the two things that shoot you into adulthood. That always stood out. And these songs had a lot to do with relationships and things gone wrong so the title seemed to fit perfectly for what we were talking about. It’s been said that this is your most personal album ever released. What makes it so personal? Casey: Our other albums are kind of themed in historical things or something that has nothing to do with us. Like Mountain Meadows is about this massacre that happened in the United States in the 1800s and so we try to get into like themed historical things for the most part. This [album] was more about our own experiences with relationships. It was the first time we put out a record where we’re actually singing about ourselves instead of some sort of character. What kind of experiences did you bring to Work and Love? Casey: A lot of sad ones, a lot of mistakes. I mean, we’re all the same, we all go through that. We make mistakes. You get with the wrong people, you go back to them and they hurt you again. I’m happily married now with two kids, but the road to that point was rough. You’re with all the wrong people until you’re with the right one, and I had a couple wrong ones and it was enough to make a few songs out of it. Those kinds of songs are pretty universal for everyone. Everyone has their troubles with that stuff, whether you’re a teenager or a 35 year old.
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THE KODEINES
Born out of Kingston’s downtown bar scene in 2014, The Kodeines are one of the newest acts at WIMF. While the rock and roll group has yet to release their debut album, Sleeping with Women and other Dangerous Things, the four-piece has already played at the Mansion and the Grad Club. So far, they’ve shared the stage with The Golden Dogs, Plants & Animals, The Mounties and Willy Nile.
The Kodeines performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
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LIMBLIFTER
BIO
Q&A
Limblifter’s most recent album, Pacific Milk, is the band’s newest incarnation in a winding 20-year history. The band first formed in 1996 with Ryan Dahle and his brother Kurt on board. Their self-titled debut LP, released that year, won them three Top 40 singles: “Tinfoil”, “Screweditup” and “Vicious”. Since it began, Limblifter has come and gone in several different forms. After Kurt Dahle left the band in 2001, Ryan Dahle continued solo projects and collaborations with other artists, including Hot Hot Heat and k-os. Pacific Milk, released in April, was the first album released under Limblifter’s name in 11 years. The new band now includes Ryan Dahle on vocals, Megan Bradfield on bass guitar, Gregory Macdonald on guitar and Eric Breitenbach on drums. Ryan’s signature vocals and bouncing guitar riffs form the base of the newest album. In their lead single “Dopamine”, the band speeds ahead with high-energy percussion and a catchy hook. The tracks are new, but could easily fit in on an older Limblifter LP.
You haven’t released an album as Limblifter since 2004. Why did you release a new 
album now? Ryan: I made a record [called Irrational Anthems] in 2009 that ended up being a solo record. It started out as a Limblifter record and it turned into a solo record, just because of the way it sounded. I veered away from the Limblifter sound. When it came to releasing this record, I felt that it could be released as a Limblifter record. It felt more like a Limblifter record. People always say “Why now?” I don’t know. My cycle to make a Limblifter record has traditionally been about 3 to 4 years. And so this is not really off the four-year mark of having enough material. Plus, I’m always working on other people’s records. There’s always that distraction. I just enjoy making records. If I don’t have the material to put on my own records, I want to be playing other people’s records and helping them make them by mixing and mastering them. Band members have come and gone at Limblifter, but still, as you mentioned, there’s something that makes an album a Limblifter album. What is that? Ryan: An aura of good vibes. If you look at the old records and the number of people who have left, you wonder: is somebody an asshole? But that’s not the case at all. Eric: We played a Vancouver show, and every member of Limblifter was there, just hanging out. It was amazing. Ryan: Even when my brother left, it wasn’t a negative thing. He went to go play with the Pornographers, because that was a great thing to be doing. We’d done a lot together, and we were at a point where he was going to do this thing, and I’d moved more into the studio at that time. It’s been a band based on my songs forever. But at the same time, there’s not a wall up for people to participate and create. I just stick to it once I start writing stuff. I rewrite and go over and over stuff. Nobody usually sticks around to go through that. [Megan] co-writes. She’s about the only person who will put up with me changing things, and rewriting things.
Back to top. ELSA
BIO
Q&A
Listen to Elsa’s ambient sound, and you’ll feel as if you’re riding an ethereal wave. The Toronto dream pop band features Jonathan Rogers, Jesse Mirsky, Matthew Goldman, Angie Wong and Mike Aber. Their vocals, often a breathy whisper, have a reverb-heavy quality that’s reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins. Church, R.E.M and Guided By Voice are among the band’s influences. The five-piece has released two EPs — the 2013 four-track I Do and their 2015 five-track Never Come Down.
Elsa unwinding after their performance Friday night.
Photo by Anisa Rawhani
So Andrew, you’re newer to the band. Can you tell me about when you joined and how it’s been? Andrew: Two and a half weeks ago I was asked to join. Johnny texted me. I said yes within a minute. I was really stoked. Johnny and I, when we first met, we right away hit it off with our shared musical tastes, influences and guitar playing styles. The last two weeks I’ve just been listening to the Elsa songs and playing. Angie: And he’s so great. Jonathan: He also plays in another band in Toronto called Sahara and it’s my favourite band in Toronto, so I was so excited when he said yes. Andrew: It’s been really great; I feel very welcome. You guys have a very dream pop, reverb-heavy sound. How have you created that sound? Has it evolved over your past two albums? Matt: I don’t think we’ve tried to cultivate that sound. Angie: We just play what we like. Jonathan: We really like the Cockto Twins, and a lot of 80s stuff. Angie: A lot of poppy, melodic stuff. Jonathan: We started playing songs like that. It’s a pain in the ass though, because in Toronto there’s a lot of bands that journalists just love to [classify]: it’s shoegaze, it’s dream pop, so it’s a label that’s a curse now. During your performance, there was a guy in the audience — I don’t know if you didn’t notice him or just ignored him — who was singing “Let It Go” from Frozen. You formed before Frozen. How’s that been? Jonathan: It’s a pain in the ass. I took that name from a Bill Evans’ tvvune. Bill Evans is a pianist. He was a beautiful man. He was a legendary jazz pianist and he wrote a jazz tune called “Elsa”, which has become a standard and it’s one of my favourite tunes. I just thought that was a beautiful name. When the movie came out, it was just when we were becoming Googleable and then overnight you couldn’t search our name.
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SPENCER BURTON
BIO
Q&A
Equipped with a ginger beard, a soulful voice and an acoustic guitar in hand, Spencer Burton brings a country-folk sound to WIMF. Many of his songs, like the recent hit "A Body Is All She Ever Let Me Hold”, tell stories of love and loss. While Burton is currently pursuing solo projects, he’s also a guitarist for Canadian indie rock band Attack in Black. The musician has released several albums, the most recent being the 2014 LP Don't Let The World See Your Love. Burton said the album tells the story of his days spent traveling across Canada, the muses he met and memories he made along the way.
Spencer Burton performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Anisa Rawhani
You mentioned on the stage that you have two kids. Has becoming a father changed your music at all? Spencer: Surprisingly I write happier songs than I used to, but I don’t know if that’s because of the kids or because I’m slowly losing my mind because of them. But it’s great. They’re these golden little angels that just float around my home and hang out with me. They’re so well-mannered and they make everything little bit sweeter in life, which I guess is reflected in these new songs. Your old band, Attack in Black, was more punk and a little harsher than what you sing now. What’s that transition been like? Why have you chosen this sound now? Spencer: I think these songs are just as punk as any song I’ve been a part of. They’re just getting a little bit slower, and so am I in my old age. The songs come out just a little bit softer now, because I think I’m a little softer too. You’ve travelled across Canada many times, and your latest album is a reflection of the memories you’ve made. Who was the most interesting person you met that was reflected in this album? Spencer: Going back to the kids, the most interesting person I’ve met in my life is my son. Maybe not in the last album, but in the new album that I’ll be recording in the fall, it’s definitely reflected in those songs. He’s an amazing character. It’s so interesting to see someone grow as opposed to seeing everyone die, which is what I’m so used to doing. It’s a new experience and it changes the way I think about things. Other than your coming album, is there anything you’re working on right now? Spencer: Just living life on the farm. We have a beautiful area down in the Niagara Region in a town called Ridgeville. We’re raising chickens, picking cherries. In a perfect world, all there would be is music and home. And that’s it, and nothing in between. When did you guys move to the farm? Spencer: I’ve only been there a year and a half. vvvIt was just a day one, let’s do this, let’s go. I’m very impatient. It’s super hard. I’m up at 6 a.m. every day just trying to figure it out — not just the farm but life in general. Why’d you decide to start a farm? Spencer: I think everyone has this little piece of them that’s like, I want to live on a boat, I want to live on a farm, I want to do all this stuff. And I was just like, fuck it, maybe I should just do what I always say I’m going to do.
Back to top. BRENDAN PHILIP
Brendan Philip performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Anisa Rawhani Brendan Philip is a welcome break in the festival’s indie rock and alternative lineup. A mélange of electro-ambient, indie R&B and soul-funk, Philip’s music is experimental and wandering. Philip collaborated with Keita Junta to produce the house hop single “Come Over”, which hit number one on AUX’s Top 25 video chart. It was the first indie rap single to hit number one on the station. The Toronto artist has shared the stage with rapper and CBC q host Shad and soul artist Bilal.
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MEGAN HAMILTON
BIO
Q&A
Alternative folk powerhouse Megan Hamilton will release her fifth album in September titled Forty Warm Streams to Lead Your Wings. Hamilton has played from one Canadian coast to the other — from Vancouver to Kingston to St. John’s. An echoing acoustic guitar often accompanies her strong but soft voice. The result is a dreamy folk sound with influence from Sharon Van Etten, The Smiths and Joanna Newsom. Hamilton told CBC Music that her upcoming album will be her most honest, as her songs examine themes of motherhood and life in her fifties, and how this life corresponds with her timeless passion for music.
Megan Hamilton at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ramna Safeer
Can you tell me about your musical career and where it all began? What are you working on right now? My first record was released in 2006. I moved from Toronto to Kingston in 2009 and I’ve been working at Queen’s since then. I had a baby in 2011, so that created a gap between being able to work on my music. She’s four now, so I’ve been able to fit in my music between the gaps. My show at Wolfe Island is actually a CD release for Forty Warm Streams to Lead Your Wings, which is officially released in September, but I decided to use this as a Kingston release party. Tell me about that album. What does it represent when compared to your past work? So, I turned 40 last year and making this album was how I chose to celebrate that milestone in my life. That’s where the name Forty Warm Dreams comes from. It’s a lot more difficult to find time for my career when I’m balancing a husband and a daughter, trying to make sure I have enough time for my family while still making sure I’m being true to myself. It’s complicated. I want to tour this fall and I’m trying to negotiate that with my husband’s schedule, while trying to figure out if I can bring Audrey, my daughter, along. So I’ve been booking matinée shows, with the hopes that people can bring their families along and Audrey can meet new kids at those venues. I want to make sure I’m spending as much time with my daughter, but also hoping she sees her mom pursue her goals because that should always be possible. How has your music changed? If I listened to your new album, how would the sound reflect all these changes? Would it be more relaxed and mellow? It would actually be the exact opposite. The stakes are actually so much higher at this point in my life. There’s no more time in my life to fail at a record. I have to fully push myself. Like certain singing styles, for example. I’m generally not a very “pretty” singer because I like telling a story with my voice. I worked hard to be more emotional and add a certain depth to my voice, in the hopes of telling a deeper story with my voice than maybe I was able to do before.
Back to top. WAX MANNEQUIN
BIO
Q&A
Wax Mannequin’s unusual music and performing style helps him stand out in what can often seem like a sea of monotonous, 
one-note indie-rock musicians. Chris Adeney, who goes by the stage name Wax Mannequin, is a folk/indie-rock artist from Hamilton, Ontario. In the past 15 years he’s released seven albums. His most recent album, No Safe Home, was released in 2012. Adeney said he plans to release two new records soon.
How did you feel about the crowd here at Wolfe Island? [They were] really responsive, it felt great. It's nice for me to communicate — and this room [St. Margaret’s Hall] looks like they do plays here and stuff — the backdrop is a version of the downtown but all pastel colours and childish. It's really beautiful. It's like you walk into a space like this and people are kind of disarmed by it which is perfect for me because you don't carry any baggage going into the show. You're just ready to see and listen and not expecting a style or genre. You're just there to experience something and that's what I go and put on shows for. It felt really easy to communicate with people.
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MO KENNEY
BIO
Q&A
Mo Kenney’s distinct singing voice and guitar playing are mesmerizing. Just ask Joel Plaskett, whose ear she caught when he heard a recording of her playing while she was still in high school in Halifax. Plaskett produced Kenney’s first album Mo Kenney, which was released in 2012. She and Plaskett are the only two musicians on her debut album. Since the release of Kenney’s first album, she has performed at two international musical festivals. She’s received multiple awards, including an East Coast Music nomination for Rising Star Recording of the Year and the SOCAN Songwriting Prize for the best song by an independent Canadian musician for her song “Sucker”. Kenney is recognized for her comfortable stage presence, but when she first started performing, she says she experienced intense stage fright. Kenney will have a stripped down performance that’s sure to be enchanting.
Mo Kenney performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Krishna Patel of Studio Q.
What inspired you to start song writing as a teenager? I had a rough time when I was a teenager. I think a lot of teenagers do. You’re trying to figure yourself out and if you're weird in any way and you feel like you don’t fit in, it makes it ten times harder than it already is. Writing was my way of figuring out what I was going through and putting it on paper and making it not seem like such a big deal. My great-grandmother had given me this really cheesy journal with a teddy bear on the front of it. I started writing poetry and stuff in there. It’s just a hilarious juxtaposition, like the really hilarious bear on the front and the angsty teenage poetry on the inside. You’ve dealt with stage fright in the past. How did you overcome that? I’m pretty shy. I’ve always been pretty shy. I think that a lot of people have a hard time getting in front of a crowd. But the more I [performed] the more I got used to it and it got easier, now I love it. So you’re not nervous about playing tonight? No, I am a little nervous. I find when I’m touring and playing like every night I’m not nervous at all. But this summer it’s just kind of random festivals and stuff it’s not like an every night kind of thing. So I go a couple weeks without playing a show and then I get nervous again. Where do you find inspiration for your music? It can come from anything. I find some days I sit down and try to write something and nothing will happen and I’ll be bashing my head against the wall. And then I’ll sit down the next day and be totally inspired but I don’t really know where that 
comes from. I never really know when I’m going to be able to write something that I actually like. I think a lot, so whether or not I’m 100 per cent aware of where it’s coming from, it’s there and it’s happening. I’m always thinking about writing.
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DAY 2 - ARTISTS

LOST COUSINS
BIO
Q&A
Created in the basement of a student house at Queen’s in early 2014, the four-piece indie rock band Lost Cousins moves the mind and body to dance. With Cameron Duffin on drums, Dylan Hay on bass, Thomas Dashney on keyboards and Lloyd McArton on guitar and saxophone, their songs feature unique arrangements, feel-good songwriting and rich harmonies. The band draws influences from every corner of the music world, from Stevie Wonder to Broken Social Scene. Their recent breakthrough EP, Not Now What We Were, showcases their musical influences alongside their everyday inspirations.
What has been like trying to find your sound and identity as a band in the past year? Do you think you’ve found it or are you still growing? Lloyd: There’s more than one songwriter in the band so I think it’s valid that our songs sometimes sound different. As we keep playing shows, we’re learning how to hone that into one style. Thomas: We’re fans of all music styles, so our music is like a melting pot of our rock influences, our pop influences, and everything else thrown in there. Sometimes we’ll have a song that is a lot more soulful and feels a lot older than contemporary indie music, mainly because we’ve been listening to a lot of The Beatles or something. Cam: As we continue to write songs, though, we’re realizing we sound more and more like ourselves and less like someone else. What was it like being students and musicians at the same time? What would you say to fellow student musicians just starting? Dylan: It’s important to have something going on in your life on the side if you’re still young. For us, it was school. For others, it could be a job or another hobby or anything. We respect people who can do this for a living, but for young people, we think it’s important to maintain that balance. Lloyd: It makes the time when you can make and perform feel that much more concentrated and valuable, honestly. It makes it taste sweeter. Tell me about your EP, Not Now What We Were. What was the process like? Cam: A couple of the songs were actually reworked songs from a while ago, and the rest are much newer. So, technically it was recorded over two different 
vvtime periods. Lloyd: It gives a taste of where we can go in the future as well. We recorded our EP with Darryl Neudorf, who has been in the industry forever. He’s recorded artists like Neko Case, Blue Rodeo and The New Pornographers. He has this small barn in this rural property he owns, which he’s converted into a studio. There’s tons of equipment and awesome instruments, with some wacky artwork and a cat that just hangs out when you’re recording.
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HIGHS
BIO
Q&A
Toronto’s alt-pop band HIGHS has been compared to Vampire Weekend. Since 2012, Doug Haynes, Karrie Douglas, Joel Harrower, Paul Vroom and Liam Cole make up the band. In 2013, HIGHS released their debut self-titled EP of five high tempo and upbeat songs. The songs were influenced by experiences of growing up and self-realization. The EP features the bands’ distinct musical style of afro-beat rhythms, catchy guitar tunes and multiple layered harmonies. HIGHS maintain their whimsical yet organized musical style in their live performances, while promising a fun and energetic experience. The band most recently played at Wayhome Music Festival and will play at WIMF as a headliner on Saturday night.
HIGHS performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q.
Your music seems to be very calculated. How does this work on stage? Doug: It’s more than just playing your songs on a stage, and I think that you have to look at your set as a full body in itself instead of individual songs. So we take a lot of time getting our transitions right in between songs and just kind of calculating it in that sense. So instead of looking at it in individual pieces, you put the puzzle together. You want it all to fit well and be this broader and bigger thing. Like people will walk away and be like “that was an awesome set”, instead of “what was that one song that I really liked?” Joel: It also references the fact that we just don’t jam very much on stage. It’s more like we know what we’re supposed to be doing. What can we expect from your upcoming album? Joel: Ten songs. Not so different from the EP, but in our minds quite different. The EP, when we look back on it, is sort of like a slab of cheeriness. Whereas the new album, I think, explores some new emotions a little bit more. Like contemplation and confliction. (sic) Doug: We write songs to reflect what’s going on with us, and we’re three years removed from when the EP was written, so a lot has changed in that time and our influences have changed since then. As a band, the goal is to always be growing artistically. You don't want to feel stagnant, because people don’t want to hear, you know, the EP reincarnated into the full length. I think it’s a lot more broad in the themes and the vibes that we explore.
Back to top. TAYLOR KNOX
BIO
Q&A
Taylor Knox, once the drummer for a staggering number of Canadian bands, is stepping into the spotlight. Knox’s band — named after himself — also includes 
Aaron Harvey and Jason Bhattacharya. Knox released his first solo EP, LINES, in March. The six-song record is comprised of classic power pop and playful percussion. “Fire” is a particularly catchy single with a memorable guitar riff. Knox has played for The Golden Dogs, Hayden, Owen Pallett, Rich Aucoin, Alvvays and many other bands. His influences include his old band Sloan, composer Rufus Wainwright and writer Oscar Wilde.
Taylor Knox performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q.
You’ve been a part of quite a few bands. How many have you played in? Taylor: I can’t say I’ve ever counted. I mean there were a bunch of bands in high school and stuff. Maybe a total of 15? What’s it like playing in so many different bands and now doing your own solo work? Taylor: I just basically like playing music. That’s what it comes down to. So if I’m playing some-one else’s music, and I like it, it’s just as fun in a way. But there’s definitely something a little more special about playing my own songs, because I slaved over them and thought about it. What’s your favourite and least favourite part of doing music festivals? Taylor: My favourite part would be seeing bands that you haven’t seen in a while, even just to hang out with them and also getting to see them play. There aren’t a lot of bad parts about it. I guess porta-potties. Porta-potties are kind of gross sometimes. These ones have actually been pretty good. I just had my first pitch black porta-potty experience of the festival, and I was like, I’m kind of scared. I hope I don’t walk the wrong way. You just released your EP. What are you working on now? Taylor: I have a bunch of new songs. A whole bunch, actually. My friend, my very dear friend Alec, who’s in a band called Alvvays, who I love, he’s lent me an eight-track cassette recorder, which is very much like the one that I learned to record on back when I was in high school and even junior high. So it’s got a very fun kind of nostalgia thing, and I’m collecting all of my songs that I’ve been working on in the last year or two with that and I’m hopefully going to have something coming out in the next year or two.
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TOPS
BIO
Q&A
TOPS' synth-filled tracks and lush vocals are always crowd-pleasers, even if their studio effects don't always translate to the stage. The Montreal band’s newest record, Picture You Staring, is a collection of lush, spotlessly produced songs. Jane Penny provides hushed, yet clear, vocals backed by smooth guitar and a tempered drumbeat. Jane and guitarist David Carriere first met in middle school, but only reunited in 2009 to form the band in Montreal. Riley Fleck, their drummer, joined the band in 2011 and they began to jam together at La Brique, a Montreal music venue. It was later the place they recorded Tender Opposites, their first record. Madeline Glowicki, the newest member, joined to play bass for their newest album.
TOPS performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q
What is your favourite part of playing festivals? Jane: Today, the hospitality has been crazy good. Selfishly, the food, the massage, the cocktails are the best. David: And the show! The show was sick. It was fun. It’s so easy to see so many other bands. I like that. Is there anything about festivals you don’t like? David: The porta-potties. You’ve released two albums so far. Do you think your third will go into a different direction? David: The easy answer is natural progression. It’s not going to be exactly the same. Jane: I think my voice is a bit different sounding from touring. I think maybe the effects of touring will show, the way they’ve ravaged my voice. [pause] I’m joking. What is the process for taking a song from conception to completion? Jane: Oftentimes, the lyrical content and the general chord structure is written before we start playing it with Riley, our drummer. We have the song, and then we determine what the best arrangement is and all the instrumentation when we make the recording. David: We do one song at a time, so they sound unique.
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MOONFACE
BIO
Q&A
Moonface, artist’s Spencer Krug’s musical persona, is a music experiment constantly in a state of flux. Krug, who produces, releases and performs his music as Moonface, has played in five other Canadian rock bands, including Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake. Since Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown disbanded, the 38-year-old has worked as a solo artist, producing three albums in three years. The prolific artist’s sound is dark and introspective, although his tracks vary between quiet piano solos and full-throated pop rock. In each album, Moonface introduces new instrumentation and a totally new sound. His most recent full-length album, Julia With Blue Jeans On, was more subdued than previous records, with minimalist piano having replaced reverberating guitars. Listeners can expect anything from heartfelt piano ballads to piercing electric guitar to experimental percussion to shimmering strings, all backing his emotive vocals.
Moonface performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q
Why did you choose the name Moonface? The name is regrettable, for sure. It’s not a great name. I quit smoking a bunch of years ago, and when I did that I gained a bunch of weight. One day I was looking in the mirror, and it was like “I’m getting a bit of a moon face”. And it was right around when Sunset Rubdown was slowing down and I was looking for a new name anyways. It’s no great secret. But it’s actually the name of a horrible affliction that people suffer from. It’s a bona fide health issue that I had no idea about at the time. The first thing you should do when you come up with a band name is Google it, right, but I didn’t, because I’m 
an idiot. You produce a lot of music each year, both as a solo performer and with other bands. How do you keep it up? It’s not that much. I don’t have a day job. This is my job. It’s how I pay my bills. Barely, but still. I have a considerable amount of time … [bands that produce albums less often] probably have families, or their drummer is an accountant, you know? I’ve been lucky enough to play with people who — I mean, I came out of Montreal. People in Montreal don’t really have jobs. So, I was lucky enough to play with people who had a lot of time. The whole album a year thing was never intentional. I was never, like, I’m going to make an album a year for eight years. It was a coincidence. And someone brought that fact to my attention a couple years ago. Then when I moved to Vancouver Island from Helsinki, I took a year off. And now I’m starting up again. Listening to your records, it’s hard to pin down what exactly Moonface’s music is, besides being introspective. Do you experiment with each album? Or is there a direction you’re going in? There’s no chosen direction. Nothing is intentional. There’s no grand design. I have a short attention span, and I get bored quickly. When I started Moonface, it was when Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown were both still playing, and they were both established bands that had an expectation of the sound and the music they were going to make. I found that a little bit stifling. If I had an idea, I had to make sure it gelled with whatever fucking aesthetic that Wolf Parade was. It needed to fit into those formulas. I found that sort of annoying. So when I started Moonface, I said this is for whatever occurs to me that day. If it happens to turn into a song, cool, and if those songs happen to turn into a record, cool. Don’t overthink anything and don’t worry about any sort of image or sound. There’s no genre. I’m not trying to be like, “Don’t pigeonhole me, man”. It’s for experimenting. There’s some real failure. There’s some hit and miss. That’s not even counting the songs that I cut and didn’t release. Even the released records, there’s some bad stuff. But 
that’s OK.
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LOWELL
In a patriarchal world, Lowell’s music acts as a commentary on contentious topics such as sexual abuse, rape, abortion and women’s rights. While her lyrics can be heavy, her alternative pop-rock songs are light with a hint of an edge in her voice. As a child, Elizabeth Lowell Boland lived with her father in remote beachside cabin in Carcross, Yukon, near an area that was a preying ground for wolves. Her own name, Lowell, stems from the French word for wolf. Lowell began her musical career writing songs for her ukulele. Her demos caught the attention of Martin Terefe, James Blunt’s record producer, and Sacha Skarbek who’s worked with Lana Del Rey, Adele and Miley Cyrus. Her EP, I Killed Sara V., was first released, then her 2014 full album, We Loved Her Dearly.
Lowell performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q Back to top.
THE ELWINS
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BIO
Q&A
Keswick, Ontario natives The Elwins have garnered attention and praise in the Canadian music scene in the past couple of years. The band was born in 2008, when the group’s drummer Travis Stokl and vocalist and guitarist Matthew Sweeney bonded in their Ontario high school hallway over their shared passion for The Flaming Lips. The indie pop outfit has since added bassist Frankie Figliomeni and keyboardist and guitarist Feurd Moore. The Elwins’ energetic and head-bopping sound has turned heads across the nation, and they’ve since been featured on CBC Radio 3, Torontoist.com and Exclaim!. Their visual aesthetic is quirky and vibrant, an identity that’s immediately apparent in their self-produced videos. Since the band formed, they’ve played alongside major indie music powerhouses like Tokyo Police Club, Arkells and Born Ruffians, and lined festivals like South by Southwest and POP Montreal.
The Elwins performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q.
How has your experience at the festival been so far? Matthew: Well, we drove here from Toronto in a school bus. It’s such an incredible festival and we’re just really happy to be here. Feurd: We love the whole chill vibe and atmosphere. There are so many cool musicians playing over the weekend and we’re so happy we could play alongside them. Frankie: We’ve been having a great time. Tell me about your sound. What was it like coming together as a band and realizing your musical identity? Matthew: Just before we wrote a bunch of new songs, we actually sat down and had a conversation about where we wanted to go musically. I think that was a really important conversation to have. So, we do collaborate a lot in that way. Frankie: Sitting together and having that time to throw together words, ideas, concepts and sounds was really important. Feurd: It was like throwing a bunch of paint together and then trying to see a picture in it at the end. What was like going from a new band, still figuring yourselves out, to hearing yourself being played on the radio? Feurd: When you’re writing a song and recording it, you hear your song being played so many times. It goes out and other people hear it. And then you’re in the car and it comes on the radio and it’s surreal. What are your biggest musical influences right now? Travis: Our influences range hugely. Feurd: A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton. Matthew: The Bird and The Bee is a really important band for us. Travis: We’ve also been listening to Tops, who are playing this weekend. It’s so cool to be playing next to people who we admire so much. Matthew: We like to study all kinds of music, actually. We listen to pop radio just to see what they’re up to and incorporate what we like and realize what we don’t. Learning about music is an ongoing process for us.
HAYDEN
BIO
Q&A
Singer-songwriter Hayden is entering his 19th year as a performer. The folk musician — whose real name Paul Hayden Desser — has spent years perfecting lyrics focusing on love and heartbreak. His eighth full-length record, Hey Love, brings pain and lost love to the surface with melancholic vocals and reverberating guitar strings. “It’s been so rough, we have been through more than enough / But without this love, there would be no reason for either of us,” he sings in Hey Love’s title track. The celebrated musician’s twanging guitar carries a sad beauty, although it’s still his lyrics that stand out — alternately cathartic, despairing and hopeful.
Hayden performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q
When you sit down to write a song, what’s the process? Do you work in bursts of energy or plan it out ahead of time? My last two records were ghostwritten by Drake. I don’t tell many people about that. I’m feeling very honest right now. That’s a different side of Drake. I’ve never seen that before. It’s a way for him to express certain things he can’t through his own music. But, generally, the process is that I find some peace and quiet at an instrument that I like sitting at, and I just play. I sing along to different progressions. Sometimes it’s gibberish I’m singing, sometimes it’s the seed of a lyric that sticks and I build a song around that. I’m not a notebook-writing, journal-keeping type of person. The music is always first, and the lyrics, even though I take the lyrics very seriously, it’s not as easy as the music for me. Which isn’t so easy either. Have you ever played at the Wolfe Island Music Festival before? No. But there are certain festivals you hear a lot about from bands that talk about their wonderful experience. This and Hillside are the ones you hear about the most. It has a very good reputation with the bands. You’ve been playing music for almost two decades. How have you changed as a musician? Not at all. [laughs] I digressed. My style isn’t dramatically different. I have a certain aesthetic. Sometimes, in be-tween albums, I think I’m going to do something really, really different. Things come out a certain way for me, and maybe also because — with the exception of a record and a half — I do the production myself. I mean, would I ever listen to my stuff? Never. But I’m sure some people like it. What do you like about festivals? It’s nice that I’m outside, and I always hope to meet an interesting person. It’s a nice change from the rest of the year, which can be in dark places with shitty bathrooms. Though we’re dealing with porta-potties here. It’s often based on the toilet quality. It’s interesting playing to half an audience, or more than half an audience, that doesn’t know you because they [haven’t] bought a ticket to see you in particular. That’s the big difference. That’s good for me too, because I generally play to people who know my songs and have been listening for years. It’s more of a challenge to play for people who are like, “hey, impress me.”
Back to top. OPERATORS
Q&A Back to top.
BIO
Q&A
The newly formed band, Operators, released their first EP in 2014. The band is fronted by Dan Boeckner, who has been in various different bands, including Wolf Parade, Atlas Strategic and Handsome Furs. Operators have an upbeat, synth-pop sound that connects people through music and dance.
Operators performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q.
You've been involved in a lot of different bands and projects. Is this sound different from things you've done in the past? It's different in that it's a new project, but I think it's a combination of a lot of stuff that I had been doing. Some of the more angular rock elements that were part of Wolf Parade and then this electronic element that was in my other band Handsome Furs, and then it's also a little more psychedelic, I think, than other stuff I've done. I think it's just trying on 10 years of not having a day job and focusing on music. You've made comments in the past about Operators making music that makes people dance because dancing is universal. Would you like to elaborate on that? Making rhythm based music is a thing people are always going to respond to. Even if it's totally abrasive, as long as it's got a semblance of a groove to it or a back beat, people will respond to it physically and then emotionally and intellectually later. But honestly, I don't give a shit if people respond to it intellectually. No one can hear the individual vocals, they’re not mulling it over. How does the Wolfe Island festival compare to other festivals you've played? [At Coachella] the crowds — you don't know any of them. I know a few people here, but at a place like Coachella it's a sea of people, and I think a lot of them are there just to be there. Like the festival itself is just the occasion to be there, which is great, because you're providing the entertainment ... But with Wolfe Island it's like this weird intimate connection. Because it's in Canada, we're ostensibly a Canadian band, and I know this part of Ontario touring, so it's very reachable. It's super local and that feels really good. It feels like playing a big house party in someone's backyard, but there's a shitload of people there.
Back to top. CONSTANTINES
BIO
Q&A
Constantines is headlining this year’s Wolfe Island Music Festival. In 1999, Steve Lambke, Bryan Webb, Doug MacGregor and Dallas Wehrle formed Constantines in Guelph. They later moved to London and then to Toronto. Since the formation of the art-punk band, Constantines has been infusing rock and roll with youth. They’ve been compared to legendary groups such as The Clash and Bruce Springsteen. In 2010, Constantines put the band on hold to deal with various personal events in their lives. However, the band reunited in 2014 for the 11th anniversary of their 2008 album Shine A Light.
Constantines performing at Wolfe Island Music Festival.
Photo by Ruben Kalaichandran of Studio Q
Why did Constantines take a four-year break from music? We stopped because we kind of had to. We’d been playing for 11 years and we’d been touring on and off the whole time. I was finding myself sick a lot of the time. I think everybody had stuff that was pulling in various directions. We were boys. We were very ready to leave home and check out some other ways of living for a while. I was sort of interested in starting a family with my partner, Katie. I couldn’t imagine touring as we were at the time and having a baby or a kid. So, it just needed to happen. Everyone was agreeable and it was very peaceful stopping point for us. And then four years passed, a lot of stuff happened and everybody kept making music. Since we were all doing music a little bit, we started to see each other more and it just seemed not impossible to maybe start playing music again. And then the right people asked if we would play a show and we said yes. How do you think that’s changed your perspective about music? Music is in a much healthier place for me now. I feel like I’m enjoying it. I have a day job and I have a family so getting to go out and play music is a pretty lucky little compartment in my life. I feel pretty stoked every time I get to do it. That’s definitely not something I ever expected to be able to do and we did it for a while. But it also gradually became this thing that you were obligated to do because you had no other way of making a living after a few years of that. So, I got into a complicated relationship with that sort of thing. Now I don’t have that [feeling]. We just do what we feel we will enjoy doing and there’s not a lot of obligation. We’re talking about writing music again together without any pressure to make a record or anything like that. So, it’s in a healthy, fun and nice place. What’s next for Constantines? I think just writing songs. We all think it would be BS to keep playing the old songs, you know. It would be like the casino tour or something. Just writing some new songs to play live for a while, adding songs to the set and then maybe we’ll record when we’re feeling up to it. But it’s pretty wide open. It doesn’t feel rushed anymore. We’re not on anybody’s schedule but our own, so that’s pretty nice. The festival coordinator and artistic director, Virginia Clark, was very excited to have you guys here this year. What would tell her was the best part about getting to play at WIMF? The best part about this is Virginia. She’s the best. When I think of Wolfe Island, I think instantly of her smiling face which greets us every time we get here. I mean I probably wouldn’t have ever been to Wolfe Island if it wasn’t for Virginia.