Laurier student in successful band Memoryhouse
Being recognized for the music you produce is something that eludes a lot of aspiring artists, even when letting anyone see or hear your material online is just a few mouse clicks away.
Laurier student Evan Abeele has experienced the potential of Internet music culture first hand, as his band Memoryhouse has gained international attention and acclaim over the past few months.
Unassuming in person, the third-year English major spoke to The Cord about what has changed and remained the same.
In a matter of months, blogs and other publications have promoted and spread his and vocalist Denise Nouvion’s music around the world, garnering a considerable response.
According to Abeele, the band’s music-making process has been a humble operation.
“I literally recorded in my bedroom with no intention of having anyone ever hear it,” said Abeele.
Recording a cover of Grizzly Bear’s “Foreground” last year, which came to the attention of the original artist, Memoryhouse got a boost from Grizzly Bear’s glowing response to the song and the fact that the group played it backstage at shows.
“That kind of freaked us out and made us say, ‘maybe we should actually do this.’ It gave us the confidence to write more material and start refining our sound,” Abeele said.
The band signed to Knoxville-based record label Arcade Sound and their debut EP, The Years, came out at the beginning of January, which is gaining considerable attention from bloggers as well as more renowned sites like Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork has not only reviewed a track from the album but has also provided further promotion and been in contact with the band.
The decision to release the EP as a free download was intended to attract listeners to the band’s brand of deep, layered sound and dreamy, poetic vocals.
So far, the results have been positive. As emerging musicians and students, balancing academics with making music has proven difficult, though Abeele stressed school as a priority at the moment.
“It’s hard right now because we’re getting all these offers and we have to turn everything down because of school – and that’s fine,” Abeele said.
The bizarre situation of being recognized in different parts of the world through Internet notoriety as a Canadian university student has proved interesting for Abeele.
He noted an impression a Japanese magazine interviewing the band had.
“They think we’re just rock stars. They asked us if we do coke all day and we had to say no, we just go to school.
“We’re just really mundane people living these banal lives and at the same time we have this weird existential popularity outside of our real selves. That’s why we never considered the band as real; it’s so strange to almost have this separate life.”
Memoryhouse’s music draws from the shoegaze sound of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, with Abeele citing bands like My Bloody Valentine, Galaxie 500 and the Cocteau Twins as chief influences.
“It’s really exciting that people are hearing and enjoying it. People seem to form some kind of emotional attachment that I think is absent in a lot of music, especially blog bands,” he noted.
Abeele discussed the downside of a culture of split-second attention spans and throw-away attitudes.
“You download a song and you forget about the band and their identity and just have this mp3 which is all you mean to people. I think we have more of a defined visual aesthetic, and that’s gotten us a bit more of a following.”
When asked what comes next for Memoryhouse, Abeele noted that they had been putting together a live band and refining their live show.
“We’re releasing a longer LP/EP kind of thing on Arcade Sound in the spring and we’re going to tour for that,” he told The Cord.
“You’re sort of a faceless apparition until you make a solid statement with your music and I think that’s what we intend for the next release.”