Quick Introduction: Montreal-based Lakes of Canada was founded in 2010 by Jake Smith (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion) and Conor O’Neil (drums, vocals) as a “Simon & Garfunkel”-esque folk-pop duo performing Smith’s songs at various cafés and bars around town. The past four years have seen Lakes experience a dramatic shift both in style and membership: with a heavier, indie-rock sound infused with gospel/soul influences, Lakes have added the likes of lead guitarist Tim Dobby, Gwen Bergman on keyboards, vocals, flute and harp, and, mostly recently, former Honheehonehee front-man Greg Halpin (guitar, bass, vocals, percussion). Lakes of Canada maintains their commitment to vocal harmony (around which the band was created), but with a rich instrumental complexity befitting a classically-trained group of musicians.
Having recently recorded their not-yet-named second full-length album (a concept album inspired by Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”) at Breakglass Studios under the expert guidance of producer and Besnard Lakes frontman Jace Lasek, Lakes of Canada looks to build on their past successes, such as being voted #2 Best Local Folk Act, #2 Most Pretentious Local Act, and #10 Best Local Act in CULT Montreal’s “Best of Montreal 2014” reader’s poll and winning the Greenland Productions award for “Best Band of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival” in 2012. They are currently in the process of preparing for a heavy summer and fall touring schedule, and in the midst of an IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign to pay for the recent recording . Some notable past Lakes of Canada festival performances include: POP Montreal, Canadian Music Week, Festival Folk sur la Canal, St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, and NXNE (among CBC’s picks of the festival).
What got you into music? Hard to say really. Most of us have been at it since before we can even remember. I mean what gets anyone into music right? It speaks to you. It speaks to you so loud that you can’t help but listen and speak back. It’s the language that everyone understands. When you know music is life before you even know who you are, you kind of have to get into it.
What are your sources of inspiration? Queen, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Royal Canoe, Tuneyards, Mother Mother, Paul Simon, The Beatles, Half Moon Run, Bob Dylan, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Beethoven. I don’t know, I could go on forever.
Dream gig? Opening for Neil Young in Hyde Park. Or having a tune on the Game of thrones upcoming season Trailer. Or Conan. Or a Tiny Desk Concert. But for sure that first one though, let’s be real.
Your thoughts about NXNE? One of our favorite festivals in Canada. We always get tons of good press, have useful and productive meetings, solid turnout, and we leave feeling exhausted and energized at the same time. It’s a fantastic festival.
Interesting points others don’t know about you? Jake can wiggle his ears. Conor knows some sign language. Tim can do the best Gollum impression ever. Gwen can do an impressive amount of pull-ups. Greg’s beard is actually there to cover a black mysterious void where his neck should be. It’s rumored to house the bermuda triangle.