Ottawa's Loon Choir is making waves beyond Canada's capital region.
Describing themselves as a 7 piece indie-rock/art-pop band, the group includes Derek Atkinson (lead vocals, guitar), Nicole Yates (vocals, piano, keys), Dan Larmour (guitar, vocals), Brad Sheffield (synth), Kathleen Cauley (violin), Jamie LeClair (bass), and Baris Bilgen (drums). Loon Choir came to be through a combination of old friends reconnecting, old bands members and former roommates jamming, and Kijiji ads seeking musicians.
Although the band name is poetic and quite intriguing, there's no specific story behind it. "We just thought it was a name that could bring numerous images to mind," explained Brad Sheffield. "The two main ones being the chaotic beauty of loons on a lake and the other, a bunch of crazy people singing in a choir."
2012 featured plenty of highlights for the band, including the release of their second record "Fire Poems". Many great things stemmed from their album release, including a release party at the Rainbow Bistro, two Ontario tours, an East Coast tour and a performance in Ottawa's biggest music festival. "Playing Bluesfest for the first time was very fun and exciting," shared Sheffield. Last October, Loon Choir was one of the headliners for Couch Assassin's official Launch Party at the Mercury Lounge.
Recently, the band has received a lot of support from CBC Radio 3. Loon Choir was in the running for CBC Music's Searchlight contest for Canada's Best New Artist. In addition, their recent show on March 2nd at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern was named Top 5 Gigs of the Weekend on CBC Music's Grant Lawrence's blog.
A Loon Choir show feels like a jam session among old friends; it exudes a lot of energy. "We really try to lay it all out there and just go crazy on stage in the hopes that it becomes infectious," said Sheffield. Although the group really enjoys playing together on stage, there are other perks to performing live shows. "Besides the rush of actually playing a live show, the best part is meeting lots of cool people who care about art and music", added Sheffield, "and some of [these people] are in cool bands that we get to see for free, so that's awesome too."
According to Loon Choir, the city's music scene is thriving. "Ottawa has some great bands, like Fevers, Kalle Mattson, The Gallop, Tindervox, Phantom Shores, Amos The Transparent, Roberta Bondar, Flying Horses, The Acorn, Trees... I forgot so many other ones but yeah, the Ottawa scene is alive in our eyes." Ottawa also has some great music venues. When asked to name their favourite venue, Loon Choir could not pick just one. "We've obviously played a lot of Ottawa venues but I think Mavericks, Cafe Dekcuf, Mercury Lounge, Rainbow Bistro and Live Lounge are where our most memorable shows have taken place."
When asked what artists or groups Loon Choir would like to play with, Sheffield stayed rather silent on the subject. "I could sit here all day and tell you bands we'd like to play with, but I don't want to jinx it," he joked.
2013 looks bright for Loon Choir, as big plans are on the horizon. "We're planning a big tour with an awesome band from BC," shared Sheffield. "We're in the midst of writing a new LP, which we hope to record towards the end of the year." Loon Choir will also be playing RBC Ottawa Bluesfest again this year. The band will also keep expanding: "We're adding more friends and more Kijiji responders to the band," added Sheffield. "We're always trying to expand and keep moving forward."
Be sure to check Loon Choir opening for Kalle Mattson with Phantom Shores and André M. Bluteau on Saturday, March 23rd at Mavericks.