OMBIIGIZI Capture Lightning in a Bottle
"I think we got three songs done in one day, and then then after that we were off to the races," says Zoon's Daniel Monkman
Published Jun 07, 2022When OMBIIGIZI — the duo of Daniel Monkman (Zoon) and Adam Sturgeon (Status/Non-Status) — showed up at the Tragically Hip's Bathouse Recording Studio, just outside of Kingston, ON, they thought they knew more or less how the session would go. Then producer Kevin Drew threw a wrench in their plans.
"We went into the session with all these compositions and arrangements, and when we got there, Kevin was just like, 'No, we're gonna start off from scratch again, take some of those ideas and build off that,'" Monkman remembers.
Rather than channeling the self-described "moccassin-gaze" of Zoon and Status/Non-Status, Drew pushed the two songwriters to explore something distinct from their usual projects. "He really wanted to focus on making it cohesive and not having too much Zoon sound or too much Status sound, so when it came together, it's a brand new project and sound," offers Monkman.
Sewn Back Together (released this past winter through Arts & Crafts), is the electrifying result. The nine-song album begins with a couple of fairly classic-sounding rock songs — the elegiac acoustic lament "Cherry Coke" followed by the spiky college rock of "Residential Military" — but from there takes a sharp turn. There's a plaintive emo track ("Spirit in Me,"), a heart-lifting chant ("Yaweh") and a couple of honey-sweet Auto-Tune experiments ("The Once Child," "Zaagitoon"). In its collage-like grab bag of sounds, it embodies a similar spirit as Drew's work with Broken Social Scene.
"Working with Kevin Drew was so fast," says Monkman. "Adam would be in the next room doing his guitar part, and while he was doing that, being recorded, I would be in the control room with [engineer] Nyles [Spencer] and Kevin, coming up with an acoustic part on the spot. And then Adam would be done and [it would] be like, 'Okay Dan, you've got 30 seconds to go do something, then you're moving on.' So I'd jump in the next room, do the thing, and I'd come back and everybody would be like, 'Whoa, that was sick, let's keep going!' I think we got three songs done in one day, and then after that we were off to the races."
Having captured lighting in a bottle with Sewn Back Together, OMBIIGIZI are now tasked with recreating that energy on stage. Having made their live debut this spring opening for Broken Social Scene at Toronto's Massey Hall, they have now lined up Canadian tour dates that will find them performing at festivals and venues across the country.
Sturgeon says the band are eagerly anticipating this summer's outdoor shows, where "artists and festival attendees can gather outdoors and start enjoying some live music and community in safer ways."
As for the challenge of sewing back together Sewn Back Together's studio arrangements, he adds, "It's been a great joy translating these songs to a live show. We've been expanding the sonic landscape of the songs, leaning into our jams and the noise we're used to creating with a full band. In many ways, we had to teach ourselves how to play the songs again, which has been a lot of fun and puts a new twist on things."