Artist: Other Families
Location: Toronto, ON / Montreal, QC, Canada
Peanut Gallery: Sound / Word / Vid
Greeting to you all, Other Families! Who will be your primary representative on behalf of the band unit that I will have the pleasure to chat with? Who are the other members of this unique collective?
My dude! Hello! This is Jesse. I’m the primary musical director/producer/composer in Other Families. I play bass & the synth/electro stuff in the band. The lyrics are written by my best friend Zach who is a vocalist who also runs a ‘second version’ of Other Families in Montreal. Over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best artists and musicians you’ve ever seen under the moniker of OF. It’s been a giant revolving door of the most ripping-talented people & each lineup is better than the last. Right now our band features Paul on Drums, Kaiva on Vocals/Piano & Jackson on Lead vox. I love those 3 with all my heart.
How did Other Families come into fruition?
We started in 2010 about a year after high-school. The 4 of us were best friends and took making DIY art super-serious. We all had such a wide arrangement of influences and tastes and mediums to work with, so we kinda smooshed them all together on our first record. Over the years we’ve learned to refine the process, but that first incarnation of the group gave us the footing to be hyper-stylized & experimental. The mandate was always to stay collaborative and super fluid, to the point where Other Families might not even appear as a ‘band’ at all...
Other Families is quite an enigma… much more than a musical group, but a multimedia and multi-humanities enterprise in itself! What are all the different types of endeavours that the band dabble in? Why have you expanded your activities to such a range and mixtures?
Ya ya, exactly. When I mentioned that Zach runs ‘another version’ of OF in Montreal, it’s not another band- Other Families in MTL is mostly a theatre company. It’s Zach with another one of the original 4 members Josh, working on experimental plays and performance art. In the past we’ve published 3 books, we did an alt-comedy podcast on iTunes, we even put out a lil’ video game in 2016.
We’re also totally DIY so we organize our own shows & events, all visual art is done in-house and all audio content is recorded and produced (by me) at the Other Families Recording Company in Port Credit, Ontario.
Whatever we gotta do to go above and beyond the next band, you know?
I am mainly familiar with your musical persona, so to say, as I play your music on my radio show, The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope, on CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph? How would you characterize your music to someone about to dive into you discography?
Lol, it’s not for everybody. It’s not necessarily ‘heavy’ or anything, but there’s certainly a lot coming at you compositionally & lyrically. The whole presentation is always intentionally a little rough around the edges so it all gets very polarizing opinions. To keep it short, it’s a highly experimental electronic-punk & fusion band. You’ll hear a kaleidoscope of all kinds of shit. Perfect for anybody looking for something completely new to listen to… I wouldn’t try to study to this stuff tho.
Other Families recently released a new studio album, MOONROCK, in the fall of 2018! Congratulations! What kind of music did the band capture on this album? Is there any hidden narrative or concept behind it?
Thanks! MOONROCK was our crack at an Other Families nu-jazz record. The same kind of stuff as before only this time with a “JAZZ” flavour. It’s an 8-track ripper & our first vinyl release. No narrative really… In fact the simplistic nature of this album was to contrast the last album we released in 2016. That one had 17 insane tracks and all kinds of extra bells and whistles so when we started brainstorming for the next batch of songs, we knew we wanted to do something way more traditional. The name MOONROCK came from a description of the new jazz-themed material- it sounded like “Moon-Rock”. Zach took that and ran with it while he was cooking up the lyrics and song titles for this album.
EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes at Other Families recording 'Mercury' from MOONROCK
What kind of visual media does the collective create? How does this seep into your other projects?
Any visual associated with Other Families is usually carefully curated by one of us. All of our web presence, album art, music videos, & graphic design on Instagram is all us. The cool thing about having a DIY/Punk Rock attitude is the constant learning of new self-sustaining skills & practices. By learning to do the band’s graphics myself, I saved a bunch of money and ended up using it to pay the rent with.
I really need to come out to an Other Families concert/event production one of these days, although they constantly change. What have you guys done with respect to live productions?
For the first half of our career we structured our performances to be a strange & wonderful spectacle that fits in with a ‘live-band’ type show. Our live sets mainly focused on the music but peppered with theatrics, high-octane visuals & choreographed disasters. Over the last few years we’ve been producing & performing events that are centered more around live theatre. The band is playing at them too, but functioning more as a pit-orchestra to the dramatic piece. We generally need to hire external actors to join up for rehearsals and performances.
In contrast, while we’re promoting & performing the MOONROCK material we’re making a point of doing shows with very minimal added pizzazz. Just straight-up live sets of the music just because that’s what the project was written to look like.
For your 2016 album, house.xct_, you actually created a 16 GB USB video game! What is that about? You told me a while back that it is stockpiled with content; essentially a micro-verse!
That’s right! We spent 2 years scheming up this super experimental album called house.xct_. The physical album was sold on a golden USB key partitioned into 2 drives. The first drive gives you the 17 track record + liner notes & art work but the second partition is a giant video game where the listener is invited to explore Other Families’s crazy mansion. The game can be played through a Mac’s Finder application, for instance when you first click on the folder titled “front door”, it’ll open 2 more folders saying “go right” or “go left” and there’s a huge narrative and all kinds of art we scattered all throughout the place. It’s a 16GB USB key and it’s filled to the brim with content and the further you go, the more challenging it becomes. Probably our most ambitious project to date & again, no previous experience doing this kind of stuff but it came out just the way we planned.
How did Splendid Industries come to the attention of the band? Why did you decide to join? What are your hopes with this new creative community, and what could you provide to it?
Toys got in touch originally. He mentioned his interest in forming a collective of Canadian experimental artists and laid his cards on the table. We agreed to sign on, but the offer to collab kind of came out of nowhere so we proceeded with caution until we got to watch his enthusiasm for the project stand the test of time. He & everyone involved with Splendid have been very kind to us but also down with our art & music. Now the project now has ties to some of our favourite bands in the GTA. Facilitating a community & advocating for this new-school movement of futuristic music is on our priority list for the coming year.
Are there any plans by Other Families set for 2019? The endless possibilities that you and the band could pursue moving forward!
I know! Lol. On New Year’s Day we all got together had a family dinner to meet and discuss the future of the group, where we’d like to go, what’s missing from our formula and what the next move might be. One of the stand-out discussions was on the topic of fostering and facilitating relationships with the outside artistic community. None of us are especially social in real life or great with social media tbh, we’re a bunch of nerds, but I feel like a lot of brilliant DIY artists & collectives & bands kinda struggle in the same way. We’re planning on reaching out a bit more and not being so dang mysterious all the time. We’re already onto some new material, but another ‘Album’ is not the focus right now. We’ve been putting out records every 2 years since 2012 but the landscape has obviously changed, which is dope! We’re not really looking for shows this winter, we’re trying to save energy and cook up some quality stuff.