July 10th

The amount of things that can happen in one day is phenomenal. Especially when you start your day in downtown San Francisco at 10AM. I was supposed to do a walking tour of the city, which started exactly at 10 at Union Square... but unfortunately I got there a bit late and already the group had left.. boo hoo. So I wrote a blog post in front of a Starbucks and hung out in the shady street for a bit. Lo and behold I saw sun when I looked up! The sun over top of the tall downtown buildings, something I am only used to at home in Toronto, it was magical! I reached down to get my backpack .. but realized it was wet, and smelt like alcohol. Now papa-smurf if you're reading this, no I did not have a bottle of booze in there that I had forgotten about. I didn't have any booze. It was actually a spray bottle of sun screen. Yes that smelt of liquor and that I didn't lock so all of the contents of this aerosol bottle were dripping through the bottom of my already stained MEC backpack. At least I smelt all touristy - like alcohol and sun screen. Mm mm, and to add to the tourist look - my handy film camera dangling from my neck.

Downtown San Francisco is not unlike downtown Toronto. To be honest I got giddy because I felt like I was in my prime. Funny how both the beach and city can excite me both the same and in very different ways. Back to comparisons: the walkable city, the I'm-going-to-stop-you-on-the-street-and-tell-you-about-said-fundraiser people, and the homeless. In Toronto I never usually feel frightened or annoyed by the homeless. Here is a different story. Very reminiscent to Vancouver's east Hastings, San Francisco is clad with people shooting up on the streets; a guy was literally just yelling and it reminded me of a dinosaur . People are also more talkative on the streets here, literally one guy saying hey miss you dropped something on the ground behind you, and as I looked back confused and a little annoyed thinking "if I didn't see that drop what else could I have lost so far", he yelled out, "your smile!". I laughed, pretty hard.. probably shoulda dropped him a dollar or two.

The nicest thing was that one man actually parked his things by a set of stairs and was just handing people compliments. He just looked at people as they walked by and found something on them to compliment. It was a wonderful thing to see! And to hear! Homeless people are generally happy here, just trying to talk to everyone... at least the ones who weren't high or sleeping.

I walked for hours, literally hours, I got home at 9:30PM. Half because I had no idea where I was going, he other half because I really had no plans all day. Just to explore. Walking around has to be one of the best ways to discover what happens in a new city. Even to walk from neighborhood over to the other it's interesting to see how it changes and what takes up the space in between. Although I was alone, I felt at ease just being a tourist on the outside, taking photos and observing how people live and low they move through the motions. In between the main neighborhoods it's residential, nice housing that was between the Market Street strip and Haight/Ashbury. Like I said, I was excited but also a little scared because of the amount of people that seemed to mark their territory and watch me all sleek eyed as I walked by. But hey, I'm alive here at Ocean Beach, and I got some pretty good photos of thug livin.

Later on in the day I found myself at a place called [freespace]. A short explanation of this: a free space where people can hang out, be creative, and help ideas - your own or those of others - grow. A girl named Margaux who I went to the Grand Canyon with told me about this place. I saw they were having a speaker series so I traveled back to where I began(by then it was about 6:30 and I had walked a crap load so I thought it might be time to take a bus). When I got inside I was greeted by a smiling face, who told me some of he history of how [freespace] came to be (the speaker had cancelled, so I was left to my own devices to get answers). The only qualification to getting inside was to sign a wavier (something a dude I had entered with didn't even want to do to for reasons unknown). The one thing that is still on my mind is how everyone can be so respectful of the space. It's like a library without the constant "shhh"-ing, there is no security, and there is a lot of space to do your own work and not be bothered if you wanted. Only one thing has ever gotten stolen in the two months they've been there (that the girl at the entrance knew of), and various art supplies go untouched while their owners are away. Is it possible for this to happen in Toronto? I'm not sure, I feel like there would have already been one, being such a large city. I walked through the place and found a journal that looked to have poetry in it. Since there are a lot of interactive components to this building, I figured I would add something to it, to leave my mark. Once I was finished I decided to look through to see what other people wrote, but instead I found the journal was unique to one author only. I immediately felt embarrassed, that I had kind of stumbled on someone's territory. Not only that, but that I had stumbled into someone's mind. It was semi dark, talked about addiction, and was really personal. Again I felt like I was on the outside looking in, but this was definitely a deeper look than I had gotten all day. I wonder what he would do if he saw me reading it (I noticed a girl must have given it to him, Tyler, so he could write his wandering thoughts down). I wonder if he knew what he was doing when he left it ever so precariously on that very public table. A guy commented on my looking through it, saying it is brother that owns the book. What a funny, and interesting, experiment that would be, to lay yourself out in writing and be able to see the reactions of it first hand.

So I've been a wandering soul for a bit lately. I got an invitation by one of my hosts, Z, to go to Vegas.. and took it. Then I got invited by a group of girls I met through Z to go to the Grand Canyon... I took that invite as well. It was a lot of driving, a lot of 90's music, and a pair of shoes were lost during that time. (When I say lost I know many of you know that means left behind).

So yeah, I've been pretty busy walking in my one pair of tattered shoes.. finally in San Francisco.

It's here where I thought I wanted to start my trip. I am in the land of flowers and rainbow flags, and hills. Fuck these hills. Don't fuck the cool parks, the people I've met, the stores, the cafes, the festivals, the food! None of those things! Don't do it!

This new adventure (which honestly, I got a little frazzled about since I kind of just packed up and left and none of the following were in my actual plans when I thought of coming out here) Vegas is everything it wants to be: bright, loud... superficial. FUN. The next part started in Vegas when I met : Danielle (America), Jatta (Finland), Margaux (France), and Kamila (Poland). They invited me to go to the Grand Canyon and we drove for hours and hours through heat (120F) and conversation. We talked about our cultures, accents (aboot. ABOOT. Canadians, we have an accent, we do, and it's very funny to everyone else), our past, our present, our future. Not necessarily time as a collective although it was a rule not to speak of our present (being tired, Kamila did not enjoy us saying "do you need to stop? Have you grown tired of driving?") Eventually we got to the canyon and my god it was beautiful. A full day of hiking and taking pictures. It was the perfect detox and contrast to the flashy hotels and expensive restaurants.

It was also my first America day spent here (as an adult). Myself and Kamila and Jatta spent the day at Dolores Park. It's a wonderful example of a self governing environment. No one got ridiculously drunk. No one got aggressive. Drugs? Of course there probably were. Even the homeless were partaking in the festivities and everyone was just having a good time. People brought food and tables and BBQ's. Even speakers and turntables were out in the park, local DJ's spinning which made me reminisce about Envision in Costa Rica.

Something about this collective of people (and a the conversations I've had with many different people) has rekindled my joy of hearing people's stories. Working at the bar, as I'm sure many from back home know, was a love hate relationship. I just didn't want to hear any stories anymore. The ones constantly being told either being a repetitive chant or could be a fabrication of the truth. Of course there were many genuine people that passed through, but by the time they were willing to share I was already too deep in my funk and couldn't bother with the usual bartender-patron talk. My spirit has been rekindled.


So let me bring you up to date with a short snippet of things that I've experienced/have made me happy since the last time I wrote:

1. I'VE COME TO APPRECIATE THE SUN. Even more than I thought I did. Here, look at this handy little video to get a taste of what happens here in San Francisco.

2. Fillmore Jazz Festival. Lots of music. Lots of food.

3. Stickers. SO many of them, I've got like three new ones on my laptop.

4. Random guy telling myself and Jatta about sailboats.

5. Random guy showing me photos of dogs on his camera. Although he does not own a dog, he likes to photograph them, because when you get them to look at the camera the picture comes out perfect and it feels so good! Oh and he was able to sing at least 5 different national anthems to me.

6. Burritos
7. White Wine
8. The Golden Gate Bridge
9. Mojitos
10. A bed
11. Hot tub
12. The City
13. The beach
14. Coffee
15. FaceTime

SO MANY THINGS, all of which can be found anywhere, really.
June 26th

So... This may need earmuffs for the ears and eyes for some.

I get the feeling that a lot of people use couch surfers to hook up. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good way to meet like minded people and I'm not bashing it... but that's 100% not why I decided I want to travel (love you Brian, you ma boo). I like to make observations and I could be completely wrong about the conclusions that I come to.. so I'm putting that out there too.

The people that use couch surfers (at least that I've encountered) are very outgoing, happy people that are ready to explore a new place and meet new people. Happy and exciting people are usually the kind of people that someone would want to be in a relationship or have sexual relations with, right? So I guess I could see how people would have hopes of finding someone that'll help them get what they're looking for. I guess I can really only state my position of being committed and hope that people respect it.

It seems to me that people relate vacationing to going wild. Sure during my graduation trip in my last year at Redmond it was a little like that (breakfast, lunch, and dinner all included at least three amaretto and cokes). That's where my mind was at at the time. I guess when you're on vacation responsibilities are minimal, the bulk of your worries lay with money and safety, and you're making connections. Surprise, surprise... having a general interest in a person can be mistaken for advances.

I was invited to experience a sexual encounter of the ménage à trois kind. I had mentioned I had a boyfriend before the fact, so this was either a shot in the dark or a roundabout way of complimenting me. Either way, I was impressed with the honesty. (I declined politely, and a conversation about casual sex followed). I guess there is no real way to beat around the bush with that kind of thing. Maybe I've been used to people trying to manipulate rather than coming out and being direct because saying I was impressed by someone telling me "I want to sex you with another woman"... makes me laugh at myself.

I'm going to call this having sex for sport. Doing it for the joy of doing it. It's like a sport. You may win sometimes, you may lose. You want good people on your team. You enjoy playing, some would even call it a hobby. You may get emotionally involved and your teammates constantly tell you, it's just a game. But for some reason you can't suppress those feelings that you get when you lose, and even when you win. You get excited that you are talented at something, start to take the relationship very seriously. You and your teammates may even step up from beer league and move onto serious things. But most people have other things to worry about. They have their lives to go home to, and couldn't be bothered by your constant calls and texts saying, "common buddy, lets just go play, even for an hour." They will eventually become busy with other things and forget.

Then again you can have people that are as dedicated as you and keep playing... or you could even care less about this beer league team and enjoy it for the sport it is.

I've always wondered how someone doesn't get emotionally involved. Or if they're actually restraining these feelings. Are they in there for everyone? Can people just choose not to feel?
But enough with this loose analogy ... I hope it made sense, the sun has been getting to me okay!

There is no absolute truth, I don't believe. It's all subjective. My subjective brain says do what you want, be honest with what your intentions are, and maybe you'll find someone who is looking for the same thing that you are.


June 21/22

There is an abundance of cross dressers in Hillcrest. This area, Hill (like inclines and declines in pavement) and crest (like the toothpaste) is like Toronto's College street's bigger, more confident older brother. I must admit my time spent on College street is pretty limited... I can remember two times going out there. One, to watch my sister Cassandra get a tattoo. Two, to see a drag queen show that I went to with my mother and a couple of girlfriends. It ended up with a couple of gay guys gushing to me about how awesome my mother is. I knew that already anyway (love you mama G).

But aside from comparisons, Hillcrest is a pretty awesome area and it's a pretty big part of town. The pride flag waves high from the middle of a fountain. Virtually every shop has that multicolour rainbow flag in their window. But the amount of men dressed as women passes anything I've seen in Toronto.

There are various types of cross dressers that I could point out and distinguish. Firstly you've got the cross dressers that look like they're taking it a bit casual before they get into full gear for the evening. They've got the makeup on the face but are in male clothing, or they're wearing tight Parasuco jeans with an admittedly cute, and very complimenting, pink tank top on. They laugh boisterously and talk to their friends from their seat on the Starbucks patio that they happen to catch walking down the street.

The you get the full on cross dressers that I double, and even triple take before I actually come to the conclusion that this is a person that would confuse the hell of the crowd on one of Maury's "Man or Woman" episodes. The person I pass today is wearing patterned jeans and a black fitted blazer. Her long hair I investigate from afar for signs of a wig, but it looks pretty damn convincing. She has high cheek bones and her perfect makeup makes me think about the attention I could bring to my cheekbones if I had the patience for application. But before I can admire her any longer she jumps on the #6 Bus to Fashion Valley.

The last breed of cross dresser I notice is the unkempt sort. As I sit on the patio of a coffee shop called Filter (delicious American coffee [which is apparently difficult to find], great patio for people watching), this person is stumbling across the street. She is wearing baggy clothes and appears to be talking to herself. She looks pissed and me of course, who smiles at everyone that passes, sent one her way. She grimaced and continued walking while mumbling something along the lines of "don't look at me". I sat and wondered where she came from and what she was doing wandering the streets of San Diego. Did she have dreams to make it big as a drag queen? Had she been a star and then delved into the land of blow and hookers; making her love and desire to be number one clink down notches until it became a distant memory of what once was? Did she change for someone who wasn't worth changing for? Or maybe her transition was a rocky one.

I am suddenly appreciative of the confidence it takes to come out. To come out as anything is a big deal, not just LGBTQIA but really anything that is against the grain of what your parents or peers deem to be appropriate. To change out of pure intuition is the natural way of life that is necessary to becoming happy with your own. I'm suddenly very happy my intuition has brought me here.

Oh, San Diego.
June 19th

So I'm at a cafe where I got a delicious turkey sandwich with cream cheese, sunflower seeds, and lettuce on some type of brown bread that I really, really enjoy. These guys are great. Once I got in on Monday there was another couch surfer (The Great Dane) and Z's roommate (Cassage, like massage) to also meet.

But let me rewind a bit..

On June 17th I headed up to Z's house without us really talking. No big, I like to explore so that worked out fine. I got up there which was a couple busses of a trip (5 dollars for a day pass BY the way thanks San Dieo transit for being awesome) He lives in Clairemont, near Pacific Beach which is where I would be a beach bum around here (as of right now). It's awesome, by the way. But anyway, I ended up getting there and not realizing that the door was open for me, thinking, where is this guy? I hung out for a while but of course I can't stay still for long, so I decided to walk around and find some food.

At this point it's pretty hot and I've found myself at a burger place with an eccentric bartender and a Mexican man who tells me he owns a couple of grocery stores, one of which is right next door. I ask them about San Diego and they tell me stories and give me pointers. We end up talking about cults in particular Heaven's Gate. Creepy stuff. In the end I had consumed a couple of free peaches courtesy of Mr. Spanish man aka Cesar, 3 tequila shots, a Blue Moon beer, and a story about a past love that was let go.

It's interesting to me that there can be the notion of having someone forever in your mind as your missed chance. Cesar told me he met her when he was in his early twenties. They fell in love, they went on a trip on his motorcycle across America, and they had a beautiful relationship. But it didn't work out. He never delved into the details, the look on his face and in his eyes telling of a simultaneous pain and joy he gets from remembering her. He is married and has children and grandchildren, he is successful and happy. But he has lost the love of his life. To go on and pursue another relationship is confusing to me when you know someone will always be in that place. They still talk every year, they actually keep in contact. Part of me wonders if her mind wanders in his direction or if he is a distant memory, a good time once had when she was growing up. The other part of me wonders if he is still holding on to an illusion that is almost necessary; the illusion of another life, of this romantic idea of his past and what could have been his future.

I leave the bar a bit tipsy, around 3:30/4 pm saying I have to make it to the beach. Z and I still haven't gotten in contact so I decided to get a taste for the salty air by myself. I was a little drunk and having to pee and feeling a little disheveled. The could have beens of the day were crossing my mind, but the romantic idea of being in California was actually getting stronger and stayed even when I was laying on the beach with all of my things. It was what I wanted, and what I eventually got, and the illusion of thinking about coming here for so long was finally being put into a wonderful reality.

June 16th, on my flight.

So I’ve managed to choose a seat in the very last aisle of the plane. When I was walking through the gates, the lady who was motoring through passengers with their tickets spoke to her co-worker. “There are too many people missing from this flight.”
I didn’t think much of this, but almost simultaneously I looked up at a digital diagram of the plane, and noticed row 37 seat C was at the very tail. People don’t usually like last row seating because they’ve either got a hankering the front of a rollercoaster or have flew enough times to know the front of the plane is directly correlated to the quicker they can get the heck off of it. So I figured my chances of getting a row to put up my size 9’s were looking pretty good.

So as I walked to my row 37 window seat I noticed there was no one in my row with me. As I got comfortable and jumped back into my current read, Ablutions, I noticed the faintest smell of poop. Not poop like oh someone just let out a fart, and there’s definitely some of the brown waiting to hit the town, but it was mixed with a familiar yet off-putting scent. I took my gaze up slowly from Patrick deWitt’s story of a lost and lowly bartender, and I saw a woman walking towards me, diaper bag in the left hand and flailing baby tucked under her right arm. I quickly chanted no baby no baby no baby, baby no in my head. Crap. Literally. Coming towards me. I almost immediately felt bad for the woman, who looks like she is in her mid 50’s, her disheveled hair and clothes telling of what ruckus will be ahead for me and my fellow passengers… and her especially. There has to be something brave about bringing a baby onto an airplane. It’s obviously necessary, I wouldn’t think twice about bringing my child with me on my travels. However, there is always that parent with a crying baby on the flight. These current mothers or fathers have encountered babies in busses, trains and planes before becoming the proud parent of baby x. Now it’s their turn. The crying and wailing providing an annoyance that nothing can be done about without making yourself look like a prick in front of a flight of people. Perhaps half are secretly glad you managed to gather your thoughts into a nice, clean, sarcastic statement for the frantic mother. But you’ll never know what kind of ratio it is because not one other person dares to react to your outburst and you quietly turn around to return to your 7.99 in flight movie choice, Office Space.

No surprise, the baby is jittery, dropping things, and pretty much sitting on my arm for the beginning of the flight. Miss fifty something tries to coo her, actually very cute, baby girl. Soon she is dangling various objects in front of her face, even tapping on the headrest screens saying, “Sofie, look, look” at a preview of A Good Day to Die Hard. Little Sofie doesn’t take to Bruce Willis or his witty one-liners. She is a tough one. Eventually other people actually try to help out. The man across the aisle gives her one of his baby’s toys, which she shakes in front of Sofie’s face. Nothing. Still she is crying and yelling and jumping around. I start to distract myself with the notion of buying a bottle of beer then perhaps something stronger, and ooo that cheese platter looks delicious but I don’t feel like digging through my backpack to get my credit card as they don’t take cash. After I get out of my head and start paying more attention to my surroundings I notice Sofie is asleep on her mothers lap, her arms out like she is walking a tight rope in her baby dreams. To finally break the ice between us two in row 37 I help her pick up the pillow from the seat in between us. I hand it to her and say, “she’s cute, she must’ve tired herself out I guess eh?” And the woman quickly nods and hands me a quick “ya” before adjusting the pillow under her arm careful not to push or pull too hard that it wakes up her child. I smile and turn my head to my computer screen. There is a sneaking feeling that quickly develops into my consciousness that maybe she has been reading everything I’m typing, and I think I’m done with Stephanie’s Recollection of Events Story Time for now.

So I just copy and pasted the list from the Cuba trip, so I'm sorry if you're thinking, why am I getting an e-mail from the homeless girl always asleep at the DePetrillo household.. that is why.

As I type and you partake in some sunday activities, I am sitting the Buffalo airport. I was just notified that the plane is running "a few minutes late", perhaps the pilot and his stewardesses were getting it on in the washrooms, or maybe he just had to take a mean poop, who knows. The point is that I'll soon be on a flight to California, as many of you know. My wonderful father drove with myself, Cass, Vana, and Gina (since we only have a five seater, we had to sacrifice the youngest child) down to Buffalo to drop me off at the airport since the prices were around 200$ cheaper to fly out of here. Big savings, that will probably be spent on hookers and booze in Hollywood. Joking, just the booze. But I wanted to put many of you at ease, since I hear rumours flying around of me hitching rides with good looking men (Zia don't you worry I will stay away from the hot ones and go for the mediocre looking drivers to put you at ease), that I have no where to stay (I will be staying at different peoples houses yes, that I've met on a site called www.couchsurfing.org which is pretty legitimate as people use it all the time and I've seen no bad story scenarios. Plus I've been doing a lot of running and I'm used to sneaking out of windows so if times get tough don't worry I'll have an escape plan). Some of you don't think I don't know anyone down there but I do! She just lives 8 hours from the coast of Cali, which is where I want to be most of the time. Plus my mother doesn't want me venturing into small town California because that's where all the crazy people are. So my friend Toni might actually just come out to see me! Cool! My wonderful boyfriend Brian and I are going to be talking every day and of course he will miss me and I will miss him but hey he knew when I forced him to jump off a bridge into a smelly pool of water the second day I met him that I was a little crazy and he is cool with that.

My plan is to stay in San Diego for a couple of weeks. I packed my Canada day colours and flags to show my pride to the silly americans, tell me some lies to spread about igloos and beavers so they will ooo and ahh and I'll be the talk of the town as the crazy Canadian who lives in a weird country. After that I'll be going north to San Francisco, and under the advice of Steve and Rose go hang out in LA (I'm pretty sure that was you two, but if not my memory says so so I'm sticking with it.) I'll probably stop in Hollywood and maybe try to get my opera singing career off the ground but I wont hold my breath.

From San Francisco I'll go up to Vancouver and Whistler to visit my crazy friends Corey and Elly, whom some of you have met. They will be taking care of me, both of them finally found homes and are pretty much employed so I'll have a roof over my head and be safely in Canada until I return on the 31st of July (thanks ma and pa for having Vanessa at the beginning of August!)

I'm going to follow in the footsteps of my adventurous older sister and try to keep a blog. But as I'm sure all of you know I like to get caught up in my surroundings and will probably slack a little bit. My goal though (and I'm working on trying to keep my goals) is to let my parents know .. hopefully, hopefully, every day, that I'm safe. So if you're really concerned, give them a shout.

I will miss you all for this month and a half and I hope you wont miss me too much. If you blow up a balloon and stick a picture of my face on it I wont be against it, it'll make me feel like I'm not REALLY missing out on anything.

Love you all , <3


Dial M for Monkey

/ (1 of 1)

Working with the same band for 15 years can be a little predictable. Knowing what kind of music you’ll put out. Knowing what people you’ll be working with. Knowing what people you’ll expect at a show. It involves a lot of assumption; not to say that working with the same people for a long time isn't great. You develop a flow with the people you work with. Perhaps feedback is more honest, and the whole music making process is more open because you’re comfortable. But it seems Rob McFee, formerly of Vacuity, is trying to find comfort in spontaneity with his new project, Outer Islands.

“Today Outer Islands is me and Duncan (Nicholls), in a couple of months it could be different.”

Approaching Duncan only 6 weeks ago, Rob decided he was going to start this project with some songs he had “kicking around”. He quickly booked some shows, without having much practice with the new material he was going to be playing. By doing this he is taking a risk of being unprepared and potentially not having things done. But Rob seems to strive on that, having a deadline and watching the clock tick as he creates and practices.

Only Rob was available for the interview, but he let me in on how him and Duncan met and where this project grew from.

“We played together on the Kitchener-Waterloo symphony. Maybe a year ago we talked on working on some songs but both of us were too busy,” said Rob. “I booked these shows in March and I was like hey Duncan wanna jump in and try this? Four weeks later we played some shows.”

The project is open and malleable and Rob is inviting to new ideas and new people. Tomorrow there could have a new member, a new instrument, or a different sound. This is what Rob wants to be open to, and have people be interested in. With his evident knowledge of local bands, and different people he’s met through the 15 years in Vacuity, he has the means necessary to continue collaborating with other people and really succeeding in this new project.

“The thing I’m most excited about is writing faster and not being tied to having it be totally perfect,” said Rob. “Sometimes some of the best moments get crushed out of the project when you overwork it.”

By June, Rob wants to have an EP out, and to stir up some talk he’s trying out some new things. In Windsor and Kitchener, he did some record store shows, and is making online videos to have other outlets for people to view and listen to his performances. Rob seems to have a lot of fun and gets inspired by all this newness.

Outer Islands’ sound is moody and the lyrics are inspired by self-reflection, expressed through metaphors like in Balloon Capsule.

“You know you get big ideas. You’re kind of going up in a balloon, like you’re leaving reality,” said Rob.

The songs are mostly about working through some deeper thoughts in your head, and as Rob described it, the certain perspectives are in the verses and the chorus is the more optimistic part. Different perspectives in a well rounded inner commentary.

I asked him why he chose this kind of lyrical set-up and he replied, “You’re taking certain perspective in the verse, and in the chorus you’re looking at it a different way. It’s easier to have a shorter line about the solutions … it’s easier to sing along with the uplifting part.”

Rob is comfortable with the unfamiliarity of where this new project will go. In saying that, it makes it very appealing as someone on the outside to watch as he works out the kinks. There is a type of vulnerability in this approach to making music because he is letting people in before a definitive label is put on the music. Audiences recognize someone who is doing something because they are excited about it just as much as they can catch the person who is forcing music out – and the delight Rob gets from this translates to a calm and meditative sound and demeanor.

“It’s just an adventure. I’m just trying to have fun with the project,” said Rob.

Website: http://www.outer-islands.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/outerislandsmusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OuterIslands

[ Listen While You Read ]

It isn’t too often that songs stick with me because of their ability to take me off guard. That’s why I was extremely excited to talk to Wild Domestic. I am impressed by their sound but also the way the songs seem to resonate with their audience. Most of their songs are strictly instrumental, aside from Cowboy Suits and Casual Suits, and What Once Ran Wild off their self titled CD. Wild Domestic consists of a group of friends that take their musical capabilities seriously, and wow the hell out of the crowd by their focus on technical ability and growth, which is evident when you take a break from looking at the intensity of the guys playing live and look at the entranced stare of the audience.

Wild Domestic is made up of two guitarists, Andrew and Joseph, a bassit, Zach, and two drummers Devon and Nathan. Their eclectic musical ability is what drove them to create this type of fluid sound that relies on a gradual layer of instrumentals. They found a different approach to creating music that works for them.

“It’s a bit of a story,” Nate started, “I was friends with the guys before when they were in a band called Kid Skeleton that consisted of Zach, Dev, Andrew and Joe. We got along really well and I recorded a three-song demo with them. We all grew up in Sarnia and that’s how we met initially, in school. We moved to London for school and that’s when the band formed. I wanted to be in the band, and the guys wanted me to get involved, but they already had three guitar players. I also played the drums, and we didn’t want to layer another guitar part, so we considered layering drums too. Devon was already the drummer so that would be two drum kits, kind of weird right?”

Now, I had to Google “bands with two drummers” to get actually get an idea of how often this happens. Wikipedia listed off a handful of bands including some of my favourites, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, and Do Make Say Think. So as far as I’m concerned, if infrequency equals oddity, these guys are doing something pretty weird. What’s good for them is that this musical oddity is extremely attractive, and stands out in the sea of music that is available nowadays.

Since the guys have so many influences, musical and otherwise, it really defines how the music is being shaped. Their organic approach to making music makes the band feel like creating this sound comes extremely naturally. They put a lot of time and thinking in before songs are complete, and their music is modest in the sense that it’s not necessarily trying to be anything; it is what it is.

The writing process for their intricate instrumentals is rather casual, but the guys aren’t afraid to critique each other of material that may not be in the direction they want to go in.

“When you’re writing a song there are always four other different perspectives, right, we’ve gotten really good at knowing what the other thinks and feels and writes and so we can accommodate each other a little better,” said Zach. “It’s hard when you feel good about something and there might be one person that’s not feeling it too much, and it’s really democratic in that way. If a person’s not feeling it then we gotta sit down and rework it and please everybody and make sure everybody’s happy with what they’re playing, and happy how it sounds.”

This may take a little longer, and it’s probably why they haven’t released a new CD in a couple of years. Hearing some of their new music at their January 24th show at Clintons in Toronto, the audience could definitely sense that the guys have been busy working on new material. Watching them play is pretty inspiring, and I’ll note here that Nate had to adjust his drum kit at least once per song because of the intense drumming. Their tenacity has allowed them to experiment instead of staying stagnant in their comfort zone.

“It’s definitely not the same,” said Andrew about the type of music they have now compared to when they first started out.

“We’ve been writing new songs for the past couple months, so we’re working towards that goal,” said Zach. “I think maybe in the spring or beginning of summer we’re actually going to try to sit down and work on a new album and go in that direction.”

Although I went to the Clintons show expecting to hear their older material, I was pleasantly surprised by what they had for us, the audience, as we grooved shoulder to shoulder in that large [but actually packed] back room. I can understand that having to play the same material for two years can get tiring, and Andrew expressed this very progressively:

“We’ve moved on and now we’re going to continue to try and challenge ourselves because we get to a point in a song where we can close our eyes and don’t have to think, we just play. That’s not challenging, and not as much fun anymore. Now we have this new group of songs and we’re smiling at each again, and we’re back into it. That’s what drives us to keep wanting to create.”

The drive to create has also motivated them to keep some of those older songs, but add other elements to them. Nate explained how, instead of replacing older songs that have grown stale, they just try to rework them so they are fun to play again.

“Keeping fresh is kind of the name of the game,” said Nate. “We challenge ourselves with difficulty by making the songs more dynamic, and people can tell. They come up to me after the set and say ‘man, you guys are sounding a little darker’.”

Although they don’t necessarily believe their sound has gotten darker, there definitely is a maturity that comes across in their new songs. Perhaps it is the intricate layering of instruments that make it sound heavier. Devon laid the blame on their strictly instrumental techniques. Since there are no lyrics to follow people allow themselves to let the music guide their inner commentary.

It’s wonderful to hear that these guys put their instrumentation at top priority. I don’t think they could be as successful with their sound if this wasn’t the case. They are genuine musicians, really trying to put together something different and taking that passion with them on stage. Even off stage they show their appreciation for the whole experience of being musicians. After their shows they hang out and talk to the crowd, which I had the pleasure of experiencing first hand last year at Canadian Music Week. This interaction is pretty intimate. People think ‘hey, you were there on stage playing the soundtrack to my thoughts, and now I’m talking to you’. It’s a weird inner dialogue that happens between music and emotion, and when you finally talk to the guys you automatically have an appreciation for them, which is definitely reciprocated.

“We like meeting new people that like our music,” said Andrew. “They could be doing anything else with their night but they’re coming to see us. It means something for us, and we don’t take it for granted.”

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