Ace of Wands
HAILING from Toronto…
it provides me with another opportunity to visit the Canadian city and see what is happening there. Ace of Wands talk to me about their new song, Grown from Good, and what the story behind it is. I ask how they came together and what they have planned in terms of gigs and future material – they provide the names of new artists to watch.
I ask them whether they get time to chill way from music; their highlight memories from their life/music to date; whether we will see them play in the U.K. – and, as many of us might wonder, where the name, ‘Ace of Wands’, came from.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Great! We are gearing up for our E.P. release-party next week in Toronto on April 6; so, for me, that means cramming in as many art projects as possible. I keep busy when I’m stressed or nervous - and this release has been a long time coming! I find working on papier-mâché sculpture, drawing and listening to music to be the most relaxing way I can fill time in advance of a big event!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are a three-piece band from Toronto, Canada. We play reverb-drenched Rock music with lots of harmonizing vocals; giant, loud drums and, occasionally, violin. I write songs with very personal lyrics, reflecting events in my life entrenched in metaphor. I spend a lot of time thinking about the poetry of the songs and how best to express myself in only a few words. I think we sound a bit like a mix of PJ Harvey and Marika Hackman with some Aimee Mann, Beach House and Sleater-Kinney mixed in.
Can you tell me about your new track, Grown from Good. Is there a story behind it?
I wrote Grown from Good when I was going through a significant period of depression last spring. I had just returned from a long tour across Canada and was reflecting on my life and relationships. Many things came up for me that felt like triggers for transformation and personal change. A lot of it was scary and difficult, but necessary.
The song is an expression of the feelings of confusion and self-doubt I was having at the time.
I like the feel of the video. Do you think the images and scenes reflect the messages of the song?
Absolutely. I tried to build a costume that would be a metaphor for the transformation I was engaging in. As the water costume grows and lengthens throughout the video, eventually turning into a shroud, I wanted to show the costume as a representation of all my emotions; an all-encompassing monster, following me around, eventually swallowing me up. At the end of the video, when I take the costume off and burn it, it felt like a very cathartic exercise in letting some of it all go.
Lee. It seems like you had to endure some arduous water temperatures for the video! Was that quite tough?!
Ha! Yes! The first filming session we did was in June last year. In Canada, the water temperatures of the lakes are still quite cold in early-spring. It felt a bit like knives stabbing me all over my body. But, for art, I will sacrifice warmth!
Is there going to be more music/videos from Ace of Wands?
Yes! We just finished filming a second music video last month. Grow from Good is the first in a trilogy of videos; continuing the themes of transformation. The three videos will each have shared visual elements (like the fabric, fire and drone footage), as they continue the story of spiritual and physical transformation.
The other two videos will also introduce the other members of the band, one at a time. I’m an avid horror movie fan, and so, I love the idea of exploring monsters (inside and outside of ourselves) through the music videos.
As the trilogy of videos progresses, the horror elements will become quite apparent...
I believe you took your name from a tarot card. Does the band represent that denouncement of stress and the embrace of harmony and improvement?
Yes. Last year, when I was feeling so messed up in life, I started to use my tarot deck to try to clarify my feelings - and the first card I pulled was the Ace of Wands. The card represents a gift of passionate energy and focused attention, will and determination. When the three of us came together in this project, it felt like a beautiful collaboration and representation of all the forces held within the Ace of Wands card.
I chose the name, partly to solidify the ideas and image of the band, but also as a bit of a manifesto for myself: fully embracing what can be the fleeting nature of creative drive and seizing it at every opportunity.
How did you all find one another? Did you move in similar circles prior to setting up Ace of Wands?
Anna and I met a few years ago around the Toronto music scene. Anna’s other band, Beams, and I had played together several times. Jody and I went on tour together across Canada last winter, opening for Blue Rodeo, and connected that way. It really feels like the three of us found each other at the perfect time to create this new project.
Which musicians and albums did you all grow up around?
Lee: Tom Petty - Into the Great Wide Open; Nirvana – Nevermind; PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea; Spice Girls - Spice Girls.
Jody: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream & Other Delight; Star Wars - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; Village People – Cruisin’; Queen - The Game.
Anna: Shania Twain - The Woman in Me; Destiny’s Child – Survivor; Led Zepplin II; Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
We are playing around Toronto and Southern Ontario this spring - with our follow-up E.P. being released in the summer. If you are in Toronto, you can catch us on April 6 at the Monarch Tavern; May 23 at Burdock and April 18 in Hamilton, ON.
Will you come to the U.K. and play this year?
We would LOVE to come to the U.K. There are so many bands making music there that are so inspiring to me there right now. It would be a dream to become a part of that scene! Add us to a bill and we will be there!
What do you each hope to achieve in 2018?
Following the release of this first E.P.; we plan to release two more three-song E.P.s over the summer and fall. We also hope to play as many shows as possible to get ourselves…and make more art and music videos!
Have you all got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Lee: I remember going to the first concert of my life. It was seeing Kate and Anna McGarrigle at the Danforth Music Hall when I was, like, three-years-old. I think I fell asleep - but I have memories of it being very exciting
Anna: I remember being six-years-old; so proud of having my own recorder, sitting on the bottom bunk in my bedroom at the cottage and figuring out how to play the intro to My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. I think that was the moment that I realized that I could play whatever I could hear in my head.
Jody: Singing Lost Together with Blue Rodeo on stage at Massey Hall last year.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Lee: Hmm…I don’t think I could give any advice because we are pretty much (just) making this up as we go along. But, the idea of self-care and self-love has become very important to me recently – which, I think are things anyone trying to make art could work on.
Anna: I think it’s very important to tour, to put yourself out there and figure out how to play in other countries, too.
Jody: If you are going to start a band, pick a name and stay with it for as long as possible: if you aren’t going to start a band, play with as many people as possible.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Big Moon
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Jody: Greta Van Fleet - impressively Zepplinesque - from Michigan.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Lee: How can you chill away from music? Music is the chilling!
Anna: There is no escaping…
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Lee: Quarrel - Moses Sumney
Jody: Airbag – Radiohead
Anna: Restless, Unfocussed - Zoe Sky Jordan
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