Other Families from Mississauga are an odd bunch to say the least. Zach, Jesse, Nicole, Chris and Seabeau defy the very notion of what a band is, never mind what one sounds like. Rather than try to explain, it’s better that you hear it directly from them. So here’s a roundabout explanation from Zach.
So, what is Other Families about?
“From the beginning we had the aesthetic of a cult. We’re interested in brainwashing people, in having them believe things about us that aren’t true. We’re interested in how those mistruths illuminate the manifold mistruth of contemporary culture. We want to be something spiritual, something more than a band. We want it to be something that drives people to change their lives and change their outlooks. We want to be leaders of a resistance that’s inside of people instead of outside of people.”
Are you serious about brainwashing people?
“No, not that serious. But our music is so out of left field, so combinatory in its influences and the genres it takes in that it becomes a sort of monster, a chimera. As a chimera it influences people into understanding art differently. In the distinction between art and life, in thinking how life is so surreal and how originality is your ultimate tool in life, and in music and in making art. In the cult aspect, this is our spirit. We’re a cult for our mystery, for our strangeness, for our incredible dedication to the spirit of a project which is bringing creativity to what it should be. It’s more than being the same band as … whatever band is popular out there, playing the same chords, etc. If you are an artist then be an artist. Create something new, create something wonderful. Push your mode to its extreme – how can this slam up against everything else and say something new?”
How do you guys do that? How do you approach things differently from any other band out there?
“The new single, “Cue Sycophants”, says it all for where we’re at right now. You can hear traces of a lot of genres. That’s on the musical side, and also on the vocals we’re pushing a number of different genres together. The members of the band have different artistic backgrounds. Some are into performance art. I’m primarily a writer. Others are just miraculous musicians. One has a mixed vocal background of opera and pop. We have this vast mixture of media and mode in the band, so we use that to push together a number of different themes. It plays out in our music as these strange and vastly varied-from-each-other productions. We’ve put out two albums, and working on some singles for our third album. We also put out other mixed media projects, such as an experimental audio podcast that mashed up comedy, radio and all these other audio modes.”
And there’s other media?
“There are writings that have been put out under the auspices of Other Families, talking about the views that we have. There is our view that there are really only two things in this world: art and life. Life is, and art emerges from that. You need to figure out what art means in order to go through life well. For us the media includes a lot of acting, a lot of performance art, music and other experimental audio. With our new album we are moving into new digital media and some new visual art as well.”
So, do you actually put on plays?
“Yes. All of our sets are a mix of theatre, scripted themes, performance art and music. Different sets have different themes. They are comedic and ironic plays. Recently we did one on pyramid schemes, and the entire time we were trying to convince the audience to buy a certain unnamed object from us, to get in on the ground floor of selling this thing that we were alluding to. We’d wear makeup, costumes. This performance art isn’t just on stage at our shows, it also plays out in how we promote ourselves. There are these ‘cons’ on social media, where we say that things have happened that haven’t happened. At one show the big theme was that the other bands that played that show had beaten us up. So we had makeup to show that we were beaten and battered, and there was gore makeup. One of our members posted on social media that there was a huge fight within the band and that he left under very bad circumstances, all of which was untrue of course. This caused several bands in our community to rise up against us, talking about how much they had always hated us, how they knew we were bad eggs from the beginning. Just saying terrible things about us. Then it comes out that none of it is true so they look like fools.”
How do audiences respond to your performance?
“The reception is divisive. You’ll see a crowd of say a hundred people, 30 to 40 percent will be absolutely enthralled, transfixed, wanna talk to us after the show, and the other 60 to 70 percent just walk. It’s too much for them. We challenge a person’s comfort. We represent a discovery to a lot of people. Many different individuals in this business have told us we need to be more normal if we are going to grow. But, you know what, we won’t. We want to shed our listeners’ disillusions, that ennui. People get upset with how normal things are, so, yeah, let’s destroy these disillusions, let’s build new bridges.”
OK, so what would success be for you guys?
“The world is moving away from the current modes of marketability. There is now crowd funding and we have crowd-sourced marketability, and we have no idea where this is all going in the next ten years. So it provides an open forum for bands like us who are willing to challenge things, and hopefully we will meet others who are willing to challenge the way in which they contribute to the world. Do we want to get a standard record contract? No. Well, unless it’s a label that produces Japanese bands or someone who is interested in the same kind of thing that we are. We are never gonna land on Empire Records or whoever is the main record company of the day.
“Success would be acknowledgement. Success would be the continued growth of Other Families as an artistic community. Something along the lines of being able to do more tours and more traveling. Being able to bring the art to more people.”
Are you setting out to change people’s outlook?
“If we can implant in any person who sees our life a grain of novelty, a grain of originality, or just show love for art forms, for people, show creativity, show emergence, then that’s a positive and that will change a life, as every experience can. We want people to be illuminated.”