In January of 2013 I ordered a CD by the band Owel based on a couple of songs I had heard on the internet. Upon receiving the album, I listened to it 3 or 4 times in a row. Needless to say, I really enjoyed and connected with their tunes. Later on in the year I ordered the album on vinyl and received one of the coolest looking records in my collection (props to intheclouds Records, check the link at the bottom of the page).
I find it difficult to describe Owel’s music other than using the word “beautiful”. Somewhere between the late 90’s emo sound of American Football and Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World and the experimental sounds of Sigur Rós and Radiohead, this five-piece band from the New York/New Jersey area has found a wonderfully-unique sound.
Owel were kind enough to take a time out during the holidays and answer some questions for me about their band and their own personal music tastes and collections:
Who is answering these questions and what instrument(s) do you play in Owel?
Jay Sakong: singer and guitarist. Jane Park: violin, keyboard, vocals Seamus: guitar, keyboard, vocals Ryan: drums
Is it blowing your mind to see your band mentioned on these huge tastemaker sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum?
Jane: I used to check Stereogum every day in college, and it was one of my main sources for exploring new bands, so having Owel mentioned there was pretty surreal. Likewise, being mentioned on Pitchfork was really big for us. Moreover, it led to many new listeners, which is always exciting.
Do you have any thoughts on the so-called “emo-revival” that Owel has been linked with lately?
Jay: That phrase “emo” has taken on so many different meanings throughout the years that at first I really didn’t know what to think. I think of bands that I loved (and still do love) and bands that I despised. I always thought “emo” was just a term for music that evoked emotion, but then again what good song doesn’t evoke some emotion? Regardless of what it means to anyone else, I’m just grateful that ears are turning towards us.
What artists do you consider to be Owel’s biggest influences?
Seamus: The beauty of making music with these guys is we all come from different backgrounds allowing us to share ideas and basically learn a lot from each others’ tastes. With me personally, my earliest influence was Brian Wilson’s work with the Beach Boys. The mix of amazing songwriting and ridiculous harmonies got me interested in music right from the age of 8. Since then, anyone from Jesse Lacey from Brand New to Dallas Green, there really are too many to name.
What is your favorite album of all-time? (If you can’t just name one, I’d also love to hear a shortlist of albums that would be candidates.)
Jane: a few of my favorite albums ever would include Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Beach House – Teen Dream What are some of your very favorite songs of all-time? Jane: Etta James’ version of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Radiohead – High And Dry, The White Stripes – We’re Going To Be Friends Seamus: Radiohead-Fake Plastic Trees, Death Cab for Cutie- TinyVessels, Coldplay-Fix you, The Wonder Years-I Just Want To Sellout My Funeral, Our Last Night-Dreamcatcher, Elvis-Only Fools Rush in, Brand New-At the Bottom, As Tall as Lions-Duermete, Sigur Ros-Hoppipolla, Dallas Green-What Makes a Man
What format do you buy music on the most (CD’s, vinyl, Digital, Cassette)?
Jane: I’m a product of the times. In middle school, cassettes. In high school, CD’s. In college, mp3’s. Now, digital and vinyl.
How many albums would you estimate are in your collection?
Ryan: A lot. I have so many albums spread out in cassettes,vinyls , cd’s etc…Even when i was young i appreciated different styles of music to expand my drumming knowledge. I feel as a musician you need to have a collection of music to keep yourself inspired and eager to learn new ideas.
Are there any plans for Owel in 2014 as far as touring or new music goes?
Jay: We are always playing out. It’s a huge part of what makes this so fun. The other part is being in the studio, and to be honest, I can’t wait to record our next record. Jane: As much as we love playing in NY and NJ, we’re excited to be venturing to different states for shows more and more. We’re looking forward to more out-of-state tours in 2014.
Thank you so much to Owel for allowing me to interview them.