One-on-One with Zoo Owl

By Jack Derricourt

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No, he’s not this blog’s mascot, though I wish he was. The colourful, sonic marshland occupied by Zoo Owl is a pleasant blend of sampling, electronic chirps, and swelling beats. It’s dubbed “experimental noise” on bandcamp, and I understand the inventive, vitalized nature of the selection hosted on soundcloud, but noise? This is expertly crafted dance music, served neat. With headphones cranked to maximum and a headful of nitrous oxide, maybe you would call Zoo Owl noise.

“Working with accidents as starting points can solve creative struggles,” states Zoo Owl from his nocturnal Toronto hiding place, and I finally understand that I need to stop spinning my head around genre titles and just listen to the stunning debut single, Twin Mirror.”

The track comes on slow, with sinister owl noise and a rolling synth line. This is nocturnal music, music to hunt to. Beautiful lyrics flicker back and forth, eliminating any hope of pinning them down within the mix — the production keeps you on your toes. Beautiful subtleties layer the recording: Fleet Foxes vocal stacks; reversed drums; and scraps of distortion fit for any aggressive pop listener. In every way, an understated piece of compelling electronic music.

When asked where the heart of this sonic opulence originated, Zoo Owl is reluctant to divulge too much: he admits to “Some live performance art troupes with friends and family.” Apparently the aviary has served him well.

There is a great deal of visual significance for any artist hoping to jump into the public eye. Zoo Owl makes an appearance at tomorrow night’s Crosswires/ Grayowl show at Handlebar, and the information available for browsing on the artist leading up to the festivities is limited — sculpted with mystery, like a smart Hitchock trailer that insists on concealing its sustenance from the hungry spectator.

Zoo Owl doesn’t seem too bothered by the air of gravity surrounding Sunday’s big bash.

“Sunday will be chill with some high points. Illitry will debut their new single. Doc pickles will keep us guessing with his banter. I expect we’ll be touched and utterly confused by what he says. His spoken wisdom is glaringly costumed.”

And what about Zoo Owl? How will those cosmic barrages of electricity and abandoned warehouse sounds blend into the evening’s proceedings?

“Zoo Owl makes up its own mind and flips channels between songs. Invented through masculine recklessness with feminine care. Optimistic overgrowth overture.”

It sounds like there’s something happening there. Then again, I’m just a simple rock and roll animal listening to pop music meant to be swooned over.

Whatever your pleasure, come on down to Handlebar Sunday Nov. 24th, and get your kicks with Zoo Owl, Illitry, and Valued Customer.

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