Published Jul 08, 2016"I liked the idea of hair. It's always growing, you can dye it and cut it and change it, so I always thought it was an interesting way to describe our music," says Weaves vocalist Jasmyn Burke about their name. "And I've been in a band called RatTail, so the initial idea was that it was just a continuation of any music that I make."
A couple of years ago, Burke was disheartened by playing in bands and was contemplating quitting when guitarist Morgan Waters caught her at one of her "final" solo performances. She intrigued him, and a post-show chat led to the addition of drummer Spencer Cole, who brought along bassist Zach Bines and Weaves became a reality. After a couple of buzz-building years, they dropped their self-titled debut in June.
How they came to be is fairly straightforward; describing and defining what they do is more challenging.
Early on, Burke would send Waters quick demos that she had recorded on her phone, and Waters would decipher her often looping submissions to build songs. Now, the entire band has a go at it — a process that hasn't always gone smoothly.
They admit to not being the greatest of communicators when it comes to conversations about their music, but once they're all in a room with instruments in hand, suddenly music is the medium of communication.
Like a blind taste test, you can't quite put your finger on how you would describe their pink vinyl debut, which Bines jokes that fans should "just go crazy over it, throw it off the rooftops, Frisbee them." It's a buffet of bits and bobs — sticky guitar hooks accompanied by peculiar and distinct lyrics that border on quirky poetry. Melodic charmers like "Coo Coo" and the shake-up wake-up of "Candy" reveal a band that have their hands in every cookie jar.
The album artwork, a delightfully daft photograph by Brendan George Ko, is all part of Weaves' reluctance to give in to convention. "I think it started with our initial press release; it was the EP artwork with the same photographer, and the idea that we didn't like press shots," Burke explains. "You have these preconceived notions of who the artist is based on what they were wearing, so maybe having ourselves covered in tissue or branches or flowers leaves you with an open mind — creating a world. So when you listen to the LP, hopefully you enter into the Weaves world."
"We're always trapped in the wilderness of creativity in our own minds and trying to figure out how to be individual, so being covered in stuff is sort of what's going on with our subconscious," Waters adds. "Who are these dorks covered in flowers? Wow, they're like my best friends now. Little do they know that those branches were all Yves Saint Laurent."
"Sometimes musicians take themselves too seriously," Burke says. "Maybe not being super posey in leather jackets allows people to feel like they can listen to it."
Weaves signed to Toronto label Buzz Records, a label that the band praises for taking them in but leaving them be. "You look at their roster, and yeah it's like a punk label or something, but there are so many little offshoots, things that are their own little worlds of creativity," Bines says.
Buzz was intrigued by Weaves' live show, which is a must for both fans and the simply curious. Weaves may confuse, they made confound, and not everyone can get behind them at first, but there's no denying that they'll entertain: Burke with her meticulous movements, ranging from sweet childlike bursts of joy to a casual command of the crowd, juxtaposed against the absolute fits that the rest of the band are having. The defining factor of their performances is fun — heaps of it.
"It's the place where we can actually communicate with each other and go nuts; musically, it's a relief and we can just have a weird freakout together," is how Burke characterizes their shows. "This is probably the most fun I've had in a band, and there's such proficiency that comes with it that's exciting, because you can always go off in different worlds and then you just meet each other. We're having fun on stage, and I feel like maybe people feel that, we're laughing..."
"It's like letting everybody in on the fun, too, not being alienating," adds Bines. "Four people have a little minor freakout on stage, that's going to be noteworthy at the end of the night."
"That inclusiveness — we don't want to be cool and distant," Waters says. "We're always our own party, so we're entertaining ourselves no matter what."
Still, there's music logic behind the onstage antics. "We've always said the reason we started this was just that we were kind of sick of playing in bands," Burke offers. "This was a way to explore what a band could do and how you can perform, and maybe you don't have to conform to a particular sound or you can try out different genres. Sometimes you work with someone that wants one particular sound and I think we're all open to letting the trajectory of this band go any which way, so the fact that we all have the same goal — whatever song it is, that it's strong and that we feel good about it — it doesn't matter what genre it is, that's not what's important to us. A good song is a good song."
"We're just like your one-stop-shop for genres," Bines says.
In a world where being unique and fresh is increasingly difficult, Weaves are really nailing it. Whatever words (and there are myriad options) one wishes to use to describe them, there's no denying that Weaves are exciting.
"I'm trying to figure out just what Weaves are, just trying to be our own creature," Waters surmises. "It's the combination of something kind of brainy and something kind of dumb and primitive, and finding that balance."