Old Believer
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Old Believer

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Old Prayers", 2003



Old Believer is Brendan Birkett's ongoing narrative in song, an attempt to document the more shaded and visceral elements of dream, nature, and lost memory. He was raised in an isolated mountain community in southeastern British Columbia to bohemian parents, surrounded by dense douglas fir trees and marauding bears.

Brendan's first collection of recorded songs, an album entitled Old Prayers, was released independently in 2003. It was recorded in three hours in an empty house - skeletal hymns set to guitar, broken pump organ and found percussion. Its primitive approach was somewhat a defiant response to three years spent at music school, and an exit point of 10 years as a drummer. Brendan moved to Montreal later that year to continue his musical re-education. After traveling broke in rural Nicaragua, and later wandering the Balkans and South Caucasus for months on end, Brendan returned to Montreal with a concept and a name: Old Believer. It came borrowed from Russian texts, and a personal fondness for both archival music and the question of reincarnation.

Old Believer has since expanded to a two-piece to include Michelle Tompkins (Sevens Project, Victory Chimes). The sound hints at elements of American and British folk combined with a slow, spacious approach - influenced as much by the Canadian landscape as it is by the music of Townes Van Zandt and Songs: Ohia. Old Believer have been active on Montreal's live scene for the last three years, sharing the stage with the likes of Snailhouse and Orillia Opry, taking in tours to New England and Ontario.