She Wears Black
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She Wears Black

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Alternative Indie

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"SHE WEARS BLACK – EP2 REVIEW"

On their second release, Toronto Post-Punk band She Wears Black picks up the energy without losing their integrity.

I oftentimes find myself thankful to be able to engage in the Toronto music scene. We have one of the best and most diverse Indie music scenes in the world at the moment, and there are always new and interesting bands to discover. This is why I like to focus on local acts, because I think we have some of the best to offer to the musical world, and I’m admittedly a pretty proud Canuck. The Toronto scene proves that just when you think you’ve heard it all, a band like She Wears Black can come in and knock you flat on your ass. The psychedelic/post-punk group first introduced themselves to the world on last year’s eponymous EP. The release was dark, moody, and atmospheric with standout tracks like “Lost” containing violin (seriously the use of violin in this band is so incredible, and original) and huge, sweeping guitar lines melodically reminiscent of bands like Bauhaus or Failure (also found in track “Love Me”). All of this was presented while keeping the subdued and atmospheric elements of a Portishead track (LGA’s soaring vocal work further adds to the comparison). Despite comparisons to this wide range of bands, She Wears Black’s sound is cohesive and all their own.

However, on their new EP2, the band have changed things up a little. The EP opens with “Good Time” and right away there is a noticeable change. The band feels both more conservative and more experimental with the use of musical space. The infectious and repetitive bass line feels a little more present and in-your-face this time around, hooking the listener in right away while the guitar continues to be expansive and really makes the track sound huge overall. The upbeat feel along with the extremely catchy vocals show incredible pop-sensibility (in the best way). The track is quick, punchy and to the point, reminding me somewhat of something the band Speedy Ortiz might release. The second and third tracks “Smile” and “Walk” respectively reintroduce some of the moodiness from the first EP albeit at a slightly quicker pace, adding a sense of urgency to the tracks. In fact, overall this EP has a much quicker pace than it’s predecessor, adding a new and unexpected energy to their sound that wasn’t present in their previous EP but is wholeheartedly welcomed nonetheless. The guitar lead in “Smile” is a particularly good example of this, displaying both a darkness and an urgency not often mastered by most modern indie bands. The drumming on “Walk” also stands out, with the little accents on the ride and almost reggae like shuffle adding a real sense of flair. The aforementioned use of violin in the chorus is also an absolute plus, adding a cinematic feel to the track.
The standout on this EP is the final track, “Ocean of Love”, a culmination of everything the band has presented so far. The song is fast-paced in the verse, driven by the rhythm section and sprawling, airy guitar lines, however the shift into the slow crawling chorus shows a perfect marriage of the dark moodiness of the first EP and the desperate urgency of EP2, especially with the lyrics “The world is all but the ocean of love/She’s falling down.” I have pressed repeat on this track more times that I can count. It grabs a hold on your eardrums and just will not let go.

If you haven’t listened to She Wears Black, do yourself a favour and pick up both of their EP’s, especially as we head into the Autumn season, as their music lends itself almost too perfectly to this wonderful time of year.

Jake Lehman

Jake Lehman is an avid music junkie and guitarist in the Toronto-based Shoegaze/Noise band Tonemirror. Check them out HERE. - Disarm (formerly Step On Magazine)


"Shades of Black – Interview With She Wears Black"

She is a black and white photograph. She is that feeling that keeps you up at night. She could be you or me or a stranger you will never pass on the street.

She, in this case, is Iga, vocalist for Toronto-based 4-piece She Wears Black. The Great Unknown podcast was happy to include their song “Lost” from their debut EP in Episode 8, a slower blend of psychedelic and post-punk that reminded me of Portishead.

I had the chance to catch up with Iga and talk to her about how She Wears Black came to be, their diverse backgrounds, and their plans for 2016.

Hi, Iga. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Had the members of She Wear s Black (SWB) played music together before?

In an unromantic, 21st century fashion, we met through Craigslist. Sasha (bass) and Peter (guitar) first started working together and tried to develop a unique sound for the band. Then Khristopher, with his killer drumming, joined, and finally I got on board. In the end, the original sound created by Sasha and Peter got even weirder as Khris added his hard-core influenced drumming and I, well… I am sure I brought something… love of experimental music.

What was everyone’s musical background before SWB’s inception?

Before being a bass player and a songwriter in SWB, Sasha was in a label signed post-punk band overseas and later on in local psychedelic post-punk acts. His influences are all over the board and beyond musical ones, with visual arts and film playing a particularly important role.

Peter comes from various post-punk, pop, psychedelic, and rock bands. His musical influences include Rowland S. Howard of The Birthday Party, Robert Smith, and Tom Morello. He also listens to Mozart, Mingus, and Nina Simone so we honestly have no idea where his stuff comes from. We’re also pretty sure he sleeps with his main guitar, but we try not to push him on that one.

Khristopher played in several West-coast-based, mostly hardcore, bands. Some of them were signed to well-known labels, many toured down to California over a number of years. After that he returned to Toronto where he had previously earned electro credits as M.O.T.O.

Back in Europe, I performed as a singer and a violin player. Apart from singing in SWB, I am a singer and songwriter in an electronic Toronto-based band (Derblinker, featured in EPISODE 9) and I collaborate with different producers. My influences include: jazz, any dark, mainly female-fronted music, and social theory.

Although the members of SWB have very diverse backgrounds, I can definitely hear a unified marriage of influences, notably post-punk (“Distant”), and trip hop (“Lost”) on top of some more obvious alt-rock sounds. How do you navigate everyone’s styles of play or has that been very natural to incorporate? Is there a conscious choice to make a certain type of song?

We arrive at our sound through experimentation and constant negotiation. Sasha, who is the main songwriter (for now), brings a song to the rehearsal and it becomes a type of frame that we work on. Since the bass mostly carries all the melodies in songs, the three of us have a lot of space to fill them with different emotions, energies, and influences. Sometimes we have to re-arrange the frame if one of us thinks it is “too weird” (Peter), “too obvious” (Sasha), “too pretty” (me), or “not rhythmic enough” (Khris). This process never stops and songs evolve long after we record them. They change with us.

There is definitely an underlying sense of unease and mystery on many of the songs on your EP. “Love Me”, for instance, has a certain “black widow” vibe behind the vocals. I’ve also noticed on your social media the use of “She” as a continual character that the band is telling the story of. How did that idea begin and what does She represent to SWB?

I think for every single one of us “She” means something else. Lyrics that describe the story of She are merely a vantage point for us and the listeners to ask more existential questions. Stories told in lyrics begin with me singing them but they continue to be told outside of our shows and our EP. I am the writer on our Facebook page of a never ending story about She. These are my attempts to interpret Sasha’s very multi-layered and abstract lyrics. She is alone in a crowd, probably wandering the streets of a big city that is depicted by Khris’ beautiful and melancholic photographs. She is over-stimulated (just listen to Peter’s psychedelic guitar), yet she is numb, bored and detached. I think for me “She” is a metaphor for who we are: we are lost and we are slowly waking up from lethargy. Maybe we need to speed up that process a bit.

What’s next for She Wears Black?

In August we are going to have a show in Toronto after we record another four song EP which will reveal a more energetic side of SWB – some live versions of these songs are available on our YouTube channel. In the fall we’re planning on a third EP which will venture into a more psychedelic direction. We plan to continue playing good gigs (also in the U.S.) without selling out, and want to build a strong relationship with our audience, other artists, promoters, independent labels, venues and festivals. Even though we’ve just begun, one of our songs has already been licensed and, since our music is very soundtrack-ish, we will keep on sending it to licensing companies.

Whether it’s musically or thematically, is there a direction the band would like to go explore?

Musically we will continue developing our own style that is experimental yet digestible for more than one person. Dark, yet not leading to self-harm. Loud, yet smart and not stupid (I won’t swallow the mic during the show and we won’t trash the place, at least not entirely).

There might be a small change in the execution of lyrics as I will join Sasha in writing, and all of us will get even more involved in the process of music writing, but thematically we will continue talking about the existential condition of human beings in the 21st century that is accompanied by rampant narcissism and exhibitionism which mask self-doubt and low self-esteem. We, or people who matter to us, keep on struggling with these things in our everyday lives. In my native language we call it experiencing a brutal clash with the reality. Much as we try, we cannot ever escape it, nor can She. In the song Distant, her “self is screaming/’cause she is too distant to hear it”, because…the audience is needed to fill in the blank space.

In terms of being an independent band, what are some of the issues you’ve encountered and how have you dealt with them? Do you have any tips for other independent musicians based on your experiences?

We want to think that we did our homework as we played previously with signed bands and we know what problems might arise. Among things that we always try to do is triple check that people who booked us are reliable, have a good reputation, and have similar taste to us. Of course, some things we cannot fully control. In that case, we go with it, as that is a natural, spontaneous, exciting, as well as sometimes frustrating, part of life. However, we make sure that we don’t compromise when it comes to music. None of us is tempted by ego-inflating things that the music industry has to offer. None of us believe we are really in a position to give advice to others, but we believe that art should be subsidized more and that musicians not only be rewarded for producing entertaining or relaxing “after-work-noise-machine” music. Do we hope that this will happen? We do, as giving up hope tends to kill the soul.

Thanks again, Iga. Looking forward to hearing your next EP!

My pleasure - Great Unknown Music


"SHE WEARS BLACK "She Wears Black" Digital EP 2015"

Lost in the calmed darkness of a quiet shiver...The vagueness and distance of the music makes it suggestive and comforting...Their debut ep "She Wears Black" (2015) combines darkness, calmness and alternative music in a very elegant and open form. - Innana Naked


Discography

She Wears Black EP released July, 2015.
EP2 released September, 2016.

https://shewearsblack.bandcamp.com/

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Bio

She Wears Black is a Toronto-based post-punk band influenced by The Velvet Underground, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Portishead, and Joy Division, among others. Their songs are inspired by the conditions and experiences of modern urban life: sensory overload and boredom, loneliness and detachment, chance encounters and melancholia.  

Band Members