Friday 4 May 2018

10 Questions: Respire

These interview features are starting to pick up a bit of pace. This instalment features Toronto (Can) based post-hardcore band Respire, as they release their latest record "Dénouement". I won't give too much away in the opening paragraph. My thanks go to Rohan and Respire for taking the time to answer my questions.

Who is in the band and where are you from?

Respire are from Toronto, Canada. Our current family is Ben Oliver (bass), Travis Dupuis (drums), Darren Scarfo (guitar), Egin Kongoli (guitar, vocals), Rohan Lilauwala (guitar, vocals), and Eslin McKay (violin, viola). We’re a collective in spirit and in practice - we have an open-door policy for our extended family of talented friends and collaborators. That means sometimes we have six musicians on stage, and sometimes there’s ten or more.

What is the history of Respire? When and how did you form?

Respire started in the bitter early months of 2013 when a few of us started writing songs in the basement of defunct punk house Skramden Yards. We quickly found a shared commitment to making music that was cathartic, honest, vulnerable, while also creatively and conceptually ambitious.

Have any of you played in previous bands and are you in any other bands currently?

We all met playing together in the Toronto DIY scene. Various combinations of us have played in bands like Foxmoulder, Tell-Tale Hearts, Quone, Araby, Ramon Gris, Delo Truda, Ruzan Orkestar, Homage, Marla Singer, and Tower of Silence. Egin currently plays drums in And Always, and a couple of us have other unnamed side projects in the works.

Who writes the lyrics/music? Is it collective? 

On Gravity and Grace, I think our songwriting process was conflict driven - we’d all have competing visions for the direction we wanted our songs to take, and the best or sometimes most convincing ideas would win out. On Dénouement we’ve adopted a far more collaborative songwriting approach. Many of the movements were often written together, in the same room. Sometimes someone may have brought a motif, sometimes it might have come together right there. The music of Respire builds ground up - we start with the bones and work from there. We take the time to score out our music so that we can share it with our contributors and make sure there is no unwanted dissonance. Often by the end of our writing process, whole new melodies emerge that become the focus, changing our initial idea of what the song might be.

The lyrics are often a separate endeavour altogether, taken on by Egin.

What subjects do you cover in your lyrics?

Dénouement only started coming into existence after our Europe tour, last July. As a composition, it is a direct reflection of where we were in our lives through the winter of 2017. On November 15th, 2017, Egin checked into an in-patient treatment facility for substance abuse. The following month in rehab really set the stage for where the majority of the lyrics in Dénouement were written - many of the lines come straight from the notebook they kept during their time. As a result, the lyrics are a reflection of early recovery - that first yearning for something better. A product of looking inwards, of radical honesty, radical vulnerability, of coming to terms and searching for closure. Above all else, Dénouement is a record about hope - about desperately wanting to believe that even through our traumas, the crushing burden of regret, shame, and self-hatred - there’s a light still fighting within us all.

Are there any bands that have influenced you?

Our influences are all over the place. We all grew up listening to 90s/00s screamo, which is the main common thread that binds us together, but we draw from genres as varied as post-rock, indie, metalcore, classical, black metal, shoegaze, and hardcore. Here’s a list of ten records that influenced the writing of Dénouement:

What are your favourite albums/EPs at the moment?

Some cool new stuff we’re playing at the moment includes Massa Nera, Shallov, Ostraca, Nevasca, Øjne, Ghost Spirit, Cassus, and Sans Visage.

What is your favourite gig/tour story?

After a show in Solingen, Germany, we decided we wanted to go swimming, and our friend Marta knew of a “pool” somewhere nearby. We hopped a fence, and ended up in carnival on the other side, which was confusing and surprising altogether. We rode a boat across a lake, posed for photos with some garden gnomes, and even rode in a carousel! That’s until we heard some angry yelling and barking, and ran out as fast as we could - only to realize that Rohan had left his bag behind. When we returned to retrieve our bag, we were confronted by a guy with a gigantic dog and a sword (yes, a sword). Luckily, Marta talked us out a sticky situation, and the guy was cool enough to invite us to indulge in our original purpose - to go swimming in their pool!

What is your local heavy/punk scene like and who should we check out (band-wise)?

Toronto is in what feels like the midst of a DIY renaissance at the moment and there’s lots of cool new bands popping up. Two members of our family, Egin and Rohan, currently run New Friends DIY with our good friends from local hardcore band Digest, Vanessa and Nicolas, in an effort to grow our little scene, bridge gaps with DIY communities around the world, and flourish an environment that can be seen as an alternative to the state of arts/culture in Toronto - something communal and shared, co-owned and co-operated - something worth fighting for. Our friends play in bands such as Digest, Life in Vacuum, Terry Green, Growing Fins, Tower of Silence, BOG, Lilim, Iris, Chris, Stresser, And Always and Nanette.  

What are your favourite tipples?

Our tastes range from PBR to craft IPAs. We’re all pretty excited about touring Europe again however, where we can drink lots of warm local lager, pfeffi, absinthe, and of course - Club Mate.

"Dénouement" is now available to stream and order on vinyl, tape or via digital download from Respire's bandcamp page below:-

You can also pick it up from the labels that helped to release it below:-

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