Culture | A hollow sound?

Montreal band Holobody’s skills trump substance

As the Montreal indie music scene begins to branch out from its usual synth-pop repertoire, Holobody offers an intriguing twist with its folk-to-electronic music. The band, which hails from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, has a rural folk first album and an urban electronic EP under their belt. Holobody state that they aim to connect with their audience in a “pure” way, yet their music falls short of bringing anything innovative to Montreal’s music scene.

The band, formed in early 2010, features siblings Luke and Charlotte Loseth, along with a rotating cast of other members. However, Luke Loseth explained in an interview with The Daily that he is the driving force behind Holobody, while Charlotte, his main contributor, writes some of the lyrics. Holobody has played at a variety of locations, including Le Cagibi, Divan Orange, Café Campus, as well as at Duckstock, a small and intimate music festival in northern Quebec.

Their wilderness-oriented, earthy, and “experimental” folk-pop is intertwined with electronic nuances. A little bit Fleet Foxes and a little bit Radiohead, Holobody labels their music “folktronica.” Their last full album, Riverhood, released by Mush Records in spring 2012, features ten tracks with an upbeat and very simple sound that reflects the duo’s roots in small-town Saskatchewan. Songs such as “Riverbed” and “Way the World Goes Round” reflect a sense of community and rebirth with lyrics such as “well when I die take my body to the riverside/ let the water wash me clean.” Loseth commented that he was very much a “loner” and hadn’t made a lot of friends yet in Montreal when Riverhood was released, which explains why this album is clearly, at its heart, still in the wilderness of Saskatchewan.

Since moving to Montreal, Holobody’s upbeat and dynamic sound has transformed into a more intricate and funky synth-pop. Their newest music embodies the city itself – a fact quite clearly communicated by the new release’s title EP MTL. Loseth commented that the main divergence in his work was that while it maintained an earthy feel, the new release has come to reflect his new urban environment, with significantly more edgy, intricate, and electronic songs. Loseth explained that certain songs on the EP are linked to significant individuals he met upon moving to the city. For example, “Duluth pt I” is named after a girl who lives on Duluth who dumped Loseth. The EP’s popular favourite “Ninnyhammer” is a trance-like feel-good piece. “Ninnyhammer” is good background music for dancing around your room, despite its rather politically incorrect references to a dancing “eskimo.” EP MTL also includes covers, such as Broken Social Scene’s “Stars and Sons.”

Despite their aesthetically-pleasing sound, the songs from Riverhood and EP MTL both feature superficial lyrics that often lack depth, and seem to convey little in the way of narrative.  For some, the emptiness of the lyrics may take away from the overall experience, however, other listeners will undoubtedly be satisfied with the skilled production. The EP songs are unquestionably tasteful and pleasant to the ears.  Loseth explained that he considers himself first and foremost a recording artist rather than a performer, a preference that comes through in the priority given to Holobody’s sound quality.

Loseth spoke on how tough it is to break into Montreal’s budding music scene, mentioning specifically the challenges of gathering a solid lineup of regular band members in a community where musicians tend to jump from band to band. He claimed the goal of the band is to “be different in some way without being too gimmicky.” He explained that he hopes to contribute something “significant and intense” to the music scene in Montreal and to “aim for the purest, most direct and meaningful conversation with the audience I can achieve.” Loseth said that unlike some music groups, he doesn’t just want to get on stage and “mess around.” However, in saying this he fails to clearly delineate how he truly stands out from the mass of other rising indie music groups, which are no doubt not always “messing around” and are striving for similar goals.

While the first version of EP MTL only has four original songs and two covers, its upcoming re-release will include a selection of more original songs and some remixes, notably a remix of “Ninnyhammer” by Young Galaxy. Perhaps the unveiling of the new full album at the end of April will reveal the true extent of Holobody’s attempt to communicate with listeners in a more meaningful, “pure” way. As of now, while demonstrating skilled instrumental and recording proficiency, Holobody still has to find their own unique voice.


Holobody will be playing April 19 and 27 at Casa del Popolo. Tickets are $8.