Universal - Volbeat's Michael Poulsen discusses the impact guitarist/producer Rob…
- Posted on Nov 16th 2009 6:30PM by Shelley White
This profession of love for the city disparagingly known the Big Smoke is no mere lip service. Ohbijou has done what few urban dwellers can claim: they made their city better.
Three years ago, the band's homebase was a bungalow in the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood, the rented home of lead singer Casey and her sister/bandmate Jenny Mecija. Their basement became a frequent hangout spot and ad hoc recording studio for their musician friends, a veritable who's who of the Toronto indie music scene, including the Acorn, Final Fantasy, Basia Bulat, Gentleman Reg, Timber Timbre and many more.
As they witnessed this explosion of creativity happening beside their washing machine, Casey and Ohbijou bandmate James Bunton decided to compile the songs together on an album to create a "digital diary" of the house. Proceeds would go to the local Daily Bread Food Bank, which had put out a public call for help because donations were alarmingly low.
The result of these efforts, 'Friends In Bellwoods,' and its 2009 sequel, 'Friends In Bellwoods II' -- which features more fine Canadian talent like Great Lake Swimmers, the D'Urbervilles, Sebastian Grainger, Katie Stelmanis, Rural Alberta Advantage and Kids on TV -- has raised $17,454.25 to date for the Food Bank, a stunning accomplishment in an era where getting people people to pay for music at all is a huge challenge.
"Music can be really introspective and really insular," says Casey, "so to use it as a vehicle to do something that directly affects the community, where you can see it helping people, that makes me feel really proud."
Although the songs reflect the diverse styles of the bands taking part, they flow together naturally, something Casey attributes to the open and encouraging spirit of that house on Bellwoods. In a bittersweet twist, it's a spirit that is no more, as the band was evicted from their home this past summer.
Ohbijou is currently touring it's second studio album, the lush and orchestral 'Beacons.' It's taken them through Europe and across Canada this month. It's a fitting activity for Casey and Jenny, who have yet to find a permanent Toronto home. "We're a bit nomadic right now," says Casey. But she looks upon the change as a positive one.
"We moved out a few days after the CD release for 'Friends in Bellwoods II,' so it was a nice sendoff," she says. "It was time for us not to live in the party house anymore. All scenes die and then new ones are born."