Published Jun 17, 2011In the last few years, funky folksters Hey Ocean! have built up a loyal fan base and become one of Vancouver's best-kept secrets. It's been almost three years since they released their last full-length, 2008's It's Easier to Be Somebody Else, and the group are finally getting ready to release the as-yet-untitled follow-up, which will mark the group's third album overall.
"It's a bit more of an epic sort of sound," singer/flautist Ashleigh Ball reveals in a recent interview with Exclaim! "A little less cutesy than we've done in the past."
The LP's lush, orchestrated sound will mark a change from the loose and jammy recording style used on previous recordings, as the group move away from funk rock and stripped-down folk.
"There's a lot more instrumentation. Our last album we did fairly live off the floor," Ball explains. "There's some synths and keys that come into play on this album. Our songwriting is just improving -- as you grow and you learn how to write better songs and catchier hooks.
"Our goal was to write a classic pop album. There's still those [funk and folk] elements there, but it's just a little more 'pop,' I think. We didn't want to be afraid of that, although it can be a scary word coming from an independently driven band."
She cites influences as far-ranging as Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Kelly Clarkson. And despite her obvious enthusiasm for the finished product, Ball admits that the band stalled during the tumultuous recording process.
After some initial sessions in Vancouver in mid-2010, she says, "We ended up going out to Toronto and things weren't working. We weren't as in tune. There was a lot of negativity and banging our heads against the wall and sleepless nights. We weren't happy. I think we just didn't have a clear vision of what we actually wanted to do."
This led to conflicts with their Toronto-based producer Gavin Brown (Metric, Sarah Harmer). The outfit ended up scrapping the sessions and returned to Vancouver. Recording in the city's Armoury and Mushroom studios, Hey Ocean! restarted recording with their bassist (and occasional solo troubadour) Dave Vertesi on production duties.
Now, the 13-song album is finally mixed and mastered and ready to go. Hey Ocean! are now waiting for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place: a record label. The band are hoping to find a good match and release the album as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can watch an acoustic performance of the album track "Big Blue Waves" at the bottom of this page, courtesy of Vancouver Is Awesome.
Also be sure to catch Ball, Vertesi, and singer/guitarist David Beckingham when they play a handful of shows across Canada this summer. They will be touring with an expanded six-piece live lineup that includes a second guitarist, keyboardist and drummer. See the schedule below.
6/25 Toronto, ON - The Horseshoe
6/27 Montreal, QC - Divan Orange
6/30 Saint John, NB - Market Square
7/1 Halifax, NS - Canada Day Celebration
7/2 Gagetown, NB - Folly Fest
7/10 Vancouver, BC - Vancouver 125 Celebration
8/5-7 Regina, SK - Regina Folk Festival
8/20 Squamish, BC - Live at Squamish!