Wake Owl - comprised of singer-songwriter Colyn Cameron, violinist Aiden Briscall, and a few other collaborators - evokes a haunting nostalgia with their earthy folk EP, Wild Country. The Portland-based band first caught their big break when their single, "Gold," was featured on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, and their popularity has been growing ever since: with slots at SXSW and the Vancouver Folk Festival under their belt, they will release their EP on January 29th (via Vagrant) before setting off on a US tour.
Cameron's shaky, pleading vocals glide over a woodsy landscape of organic percussion, homey accordions, and country strings, confessing the questions and truths he's learned over his many travels.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Colyn Cameron about the new EP, the mysterious music video for "Gold," and what's next for the band.
Your EP is releasing on the 29th. How does it feel to have that going down?
It's good, it's really good. It's kind of a long time coming for the EP because I had finished it almost a year ago now. I had pursued it very independently, and then when I got connected with Vagrant, the actual scheduling for everything got sorted, so it feels good to have it coming out.
You used to be more into rap and hip-hop, and you can hear that coming through in the chorus of "Wild Country." Do you think it still influences your songwriting?
Yeah, definitely. I think that influence kind of weaves in and out. I mean, I think when people hear the songs on the EP - that won't be their first impression, by any means. But it's there for me; it's there as part of my musical journey. I think the way I connect to rhythm is more connected to hip-hop than anything else.
Was there a particular influence that made you branch away from rap?
So that was [when I was] really young, like pre-high school, almost. And then when I started doing some world traveling and going to high school, I definitely was listening to a lot of other music and not really listening to hip-hop anymore. That's kind of when I got into like, classic rock - just classic anything - more stuff coming out of the 60s and 70s. And then it's just been a weaving ever since of different music.
You've traveled to quite a few places. How has that influenced your songwriting?
I think it's just given me a lot of perspective on things and on the world. I don't know any different; I don't know what it would have been like to not have seen those parts of the world now, but I know that it's given me a better understanding of where I come from, and America and the culture here. I think it's really awesome that I have that ability to have those perspectives and I think it bleeds into the music; I think those perspectives are feeding the songwriting.
We saw that your new music video for "Gold" was released today, right?Video below
Yeah, that was really cool, because it was done by someone in the band who plays violin and guitar, and he put it together. I really like it, personally.
The imagery is a little vague - is there a connection to the meaning of the song with the meaning of the video?
I think that the general emotional feeling is there for me. The story isn't that much of a story, but one thing that's in it - the shots of the children and the kind of childlike wonder of things and that mysteriousness about childhood - is an emotion that was part of the song "Gold." And when I had the idea for a music video for that song, it was always something to do with young children and that awe of the world and existence itself. I feel like he captured that in different ways.
That same song was used in Grey's Anatomy. How was that, hearing your song on a major TV show?
It was really cool. I can't say I watch that show or watch a lot of TV at all, but I think it's really nice how those media outlets are now providing a spot for bands to share music and be discovered that way. I definitely feel like we received a bunch of fans through that platform and I think there's a connection: they're helping to support what new bands are doing and trying to find good music to put in there.
Can you tell us how the band was formed?
Colyn: Let's see...about a year and a half ago, I started writing songs around the EP and then kind of went into the studio to just do something for myself, just to record a few songs that I was happy with, because I had been in a bunch of projects prior to that and I just wanted to do something on my own. I had some people in the studio, and one of the guys who made the video played violin on the EP, we started playing a few shows around town with the songs. Then it turned into something where we were playing live and then we ended up going to some festivals and booking some tours, and now the EP's getting released with Vagrant. It's definitely turned a little more collaborative since I wrote the EP. This time period before we head out on the road in February has been a lot about writing for the record which we're gonna start recording in the spring.