International artists rock Calgary Folk Fest

Vamp’s inaugural Calgary Folk Music Festival was a success. We saw eight shows, three workshops, and a few strange events that you couldn’t see anywhere else – think: Michael Bernard Fitzgerald hosting a pie reception. That’s not all we did at Folk Fest, though. We got to interview two amazing women-headed bands, one from Australia and the other from the UK. It turns out, some of our favourite shows were groups that were on tour internationally. Oh Pep! and Moulettes both sat down to talk to Vamp about their new music, life on the road, and being women in the folk scene.

Moulettes

Photo by Amber McLinden.

Photo by Amber McLinden.

Moulettes weren’t on my radar at the beginning of Folk Fest, but I’m glad they were by the end. Likely one of the most interesting sets I’ve ever seen a band play, Moulettes had a stage presence unlike anything I’ve seen before. If you’ve ever seen someone play a bassoon or a diamond-shaped cello, you might know what I’m talking about, but incorporate their unique choice of instruments with their distinctive personalities and their animal themed music, and you get a one-of-a-kind group. So their new album, Preternatural, had to be an important topic of discussion.

“Each song on the record is about a different creature.” Hannah Miller says. “It’s a concept record, which kind of gave us an open door to create different moods for different songs.”

It strikes a chord with me that they’ve expanded their animal-themed album to focus on the endless parallels between the life of creatures and the lives of people.

“There’s a song about the Japanese Pufferfish and it has a really bizarre mating ritual that it does, where it makes all these concentric circles in the sand. You end up with this giant mandala style pattern in the sand, and then it literally just waits for a female to swim by.” Miller explains.

“Which might never happen, she might not even swim by!” Raevennan Husbandes adds.

“There’s these really nice metaphors that you can draw out with these things, like unrequited love and the lonely artist that spends hours working on something for it never to be seen.” Miller says.

Their music knows no confines, so while the band has been described anywhere from experimental rock to psychedelic folk, part of their unique genre is that they don’t conform to any genre.

“It’s a lot of different things in the mix.” Husbandes explains.

“We’ve kind of changed, every album has been quite different, bit of an evolution from the previous one.” Miller adds. “This album is all kind of big riffs and three part harmony singing.”

It’s not often you find musicians who have truly created something completely unique. Like many of the other acts at Folk Fest, their brand is more than their music. Besides their amazing stage presence, they spent part of Friday placing tiny plastic animals around Prince’s Island Park, a real life Pokemon Go, and if people found them, they could download a free song.

Their album Preternatural is available here.

Oh Pep!

Photo by Amber McLinden.

Photo by Amber McLinden.

Oh Pep! only just released their first full length album, and in comparison to other CFMF acts, they measured up. Oh is for Olivia Hally, on vocals and guitar, and Pep! is for Pepita Emmerichs who plays the mandolin, violin, and occasionally vocals. Oh Pep! provides these unique music elements which only add texture to each song and a little bit of a personal quirk. The duo is new to performing in Canada, travelling to Calgary from their last gig on the west coast.

“We just finished in Vancouver, and that was our first Canadian festival, which we loved.” Hally explains. “These workshop stages are really new to us, and I love it because it allows you to meet all these other artists that you maybe would never be able to meet.”

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the duo says their music is influenced by both “Australian legends” and non-conformity.

“Paul Kelly, who I don’t think is a big name over here, but he’s like Australia’s Bob Dylan. We bonded a lot over artists like him. ” Emmerichs explains. “I think more than anything I guess what inspires us is a sense of not conforming to any kind of genre or structure; what people might expect.”

“We get off on a sense of dissonance and surprise.” Hally adds.

Hally, speaking about her emotional performance of their song “Tea, Milk and Honey”, explained her lyrical method.

“It’s written in a way that there are all these parallel stories that equate to the same emotion. I think we were trying to capture the idea that no matter what people are going through, everyone reacts similarly.” Hally says. “When you write a song, I would often take on a character or something because that’s a big part of writing. If I wrote about my life all the time, It’d be really boring.”

Their performances, both solo and workshops, were a demonstration of the raw, complex music that they produce. From upbeat, mandolin and violin riff filled songs, to slower, emotional songs, their sets flow easily together and evoke an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

Stadium Cake, their first full length album, is available here.