Snow Mantled Love are a new three-piece from London, Ontario. They make dreamy, ‘bedroom’ pop that puts us in mind of Sea of Bees, Daughter and Meursault and we think they’re lovely. FFS connected with them across the ocean to get the low down.
Please introduce yourselves to the uninitiated.
Danielle Fricke, 22, sings, plays guitar, a little bit of keyboard and organ; Perry Hammoud, 23, plays the organ, Theremin, double bass, and accordion and Jonathan Zarola, 19, plays percussion, a bit of keyboard and other weird noises. We all grew up here in London, Ontario.
How did Snow Mantled Love start? Was it a meeting of minds and were any of you in previous bands?
Actually, we all were in a previous band together, a larger six-piece group named Theiah. Perry had an organ that needed to be gone within a day. It was sitting in the van but then instead of carrying this giant heavy organ down a flight of stairs, Jonathan and Perry moved it up a few steps into Danielle’s art studio at her home. From there, Danielle suggested a sort of acoustic jam session for the band, but only Jonathan and Perry showed up. That is when we wrote and recorded ‘If You Want To’. I think after that point, we sort of realized the potential of the smaller group.
Is collaboration the initial approach to your compositions?
It’s a bit of a mixture. For Romance 126, Danielle always had a skeleton of a song, with lyrics and a bit of a melody and guitar. Then we would sort of play it out, and automatically start recording and adding various layers. It’s almost an improvisational approach, adding more layers than we need, and knowing the song is complete after editing it down. So in a way we would never have an idea of the end result..
There are a lot of beautiful ambient sounds and layers on Romance 126. How did the sound develop?
The songs were a product of the environment – so whatever we used was found in the room. For example, an old telephone, a radio, a suitcase for percussion, a bed, the floor, canvas, plates, whatever we could get our hands on. We really wanted to achieve a sort of tactile sound by using those textures we found in the room.
The use of diegetic sounds such as the rotary dial telephone in ‘If You Want To’ gives the EP a cinematic, nostalgic feel. Was that a conscious decision?
Quite often people have told and shown us through videos (on YouTube) that each song feels like it’s own movie. But, we would not say that this was a conscious decision. The process felt natural as we were recording the songs.
You’ve tagged Romance 126 as “bedroom pop” – is this literal and if so, what is your production set up?
The bedroom pop reference directly ties with the space in which we recorded Romance 126 (a small art studio/bedroom in Danielle’s home). Our setup was very minimalist. We recorded with a Blue Snowball USB microphone, and used GarageBand as the recording software. This allowed us to have full control throughout the whole recording process. After Danielle finished mixing the songs, we sent them to be mastered.
We first listened to the EP alone on a night drive, which seemed like a good environmen for these songs to be played in. What do you think is the best way to listen to your music?
We recorded the entire EP during evenings, which I guess you could say influenced the vibe of the songs. The EP is an introspective listening experience, so it lends itself to those late night drives, or times of personal escape. We imagine it as a headphone experience, further adding to this intimate aspect of the music.
We’re always looking to expand our musical horizons here at FFS. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?
We are really into the dreamy sound of Brooklyn based band Belle Mare, and can’t stop listening to Deptford Goth’s UNION.
What are your plans for 2013?
We are currently accepting entries for our REMIX 126 project, in which we have asked other artists to experiment and alter the songs from Romance 126. This should be released early April. We are in the process of writing new material, and booking some local shows. We will be releasing another body of work towards the end of summer 2013.
words and photography: Scout Stuart
Listen to Romance 126 here