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HomeArts & CultureOhbijou’s orchestration to hit St. Matthew’s Church

Ohbijou’s orchestration to hit St. Matthew’s Church

Toronto’s Ohbijou sounds kind of like Broken Social Scene, only not broken. Listening to the band’s new album, Beacons, it’s not hard to tell they’ve got it all together. Their sound is smooth and unique, with songs flowing effortlessly into one another to make something that’s relaxing, mellow and anything but atonal.

Casey Mecija, the band’s lead singer, says Beacons is less sparse than Ohbijou’s debut album, the poetically named Swift Feet for Troubling Times – and more mature.

“We tried to really work on feeling the arrangements more and experimenting with different sounds.”

Though Ohbijou’s sound may no longer be sparse, the songs are tastefully sparing both in arrangement and in lyrics – not an easy thing to accomplish when you’ve got a six-piece band. And when the band, fresh off their first European tour, hits Halifax during next week’s Pop Explosion, they’ll have seven players.

Mecija says the Ohbijou members’ main aim is to be creative with their arrangements. They’ve got access to a lot of different instruments and like to make the most of it. It’s probably going to work as an advantage that their Pop Explosion show takes place in the atmospheric safe haven of St. Matthew’s United Church.

Mecija says Halifax can expect “a performance with a lot of musical dynamics and enthusiasm.
“We’re really happy to be there and we’re playing with our best friends, The Acorn, so I think it’ll be a really great show.”

When asked what she is looking forward to in Halifax? Well, for one thing, The Pop Explosion – they’ve never played it before. Otherwise, lobster.

The band has been together for five years, but it all started with Mecija writing songs in her bedroom. She got her sister and her friends involved, but now the songwriting process still starts out the same. The difference is that now, after finishing a piece, she brings it to the band, adding layer upon layer of instruments until “it becomes an entirely different song.”


As if releasing a new album and embarking on a tour of Europe wasn’t enough, this spring Mecija also has another musical project up her sleeve, this one in benefit of the Daily Bread Food Bank of Toronto.

Her speech quickens a little bit when she talks about it. You can tell she’s proud – she practically oozes enthusiasm while discussing the subject.

“Myself and our drummer James have this project called Friends in Bellwoods, it’s a compilation that we created of all of our friends in music.”

So far the compilation has raised over $10,000. Mecija wants to get the word out to try to raise as much money as possible.

“This is the second edition of the compilation and it has people like Final Fantasy, Timber Timbre … just a really amazing compilation of friends that we’re inspired by.”

Those friends are also a source of inspiration for Ohbijou’s creative process, though Mecija says it’s hard to say who the group’s musical influences are, since it has so many members.

Wherever it comes from, the music that ends up on Ohibjou’s records sounds almost like their name – reverberating melancholy that meets somewhere between new age indie and old world sophistication.

So where’d the name come from?

It was “sort of like a term of endearment,” says Mecija. “It just was very spontaneous and it came out just like sighing, I guess, and when I thought about it I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds nice.’”


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