Meet the Band: Lakeman

The Okanagan’s own Lakeman talk about their unique live sets and perform a new song

The Lakeman cometh.

The genre-defying, long-form instrumental project formed in the fall of 2014 out of the jams of Josh Pym, Warryn Berry, Robert McLaren and Josh Bissonnette.

Watch: Meet the Band with new song Powers Creek by Lakeman

The friends and bandmates played together in different forms and while preparing for an upcoming show Lakeman took its true shape by ditching any sort of vocals or lyrics.

“We tried it for awhile and everyone was singing all at once pretty much. There was just so much going on and then we had a show opportunity so we were like, let’s scrap them and do it instrumental,” Berry said.

The format clicked and it stuck, with many Lakeman songs clocking in over 10 minutes.

“Not having a bunch of banter in between songs or anything gives you this opportunity to sonically explore and build these relationships between pieces,” McLaren said.

Their current setup also plays down a common fear within the band.

“We’re terrified of speaking publicly. We just wanted to make a set where we didn’t have idle chatter between songs. So that’s actually kind of why we don’t talk between songs,” McLaren laughed.

Their latest work formed out of individual pieces brought forward by band members, which they work together to find connections and create transitions, building one cohesive movement. It’s hard to tell if a song ever actually ends while watching Lakeman live. Music continues to play throughout their set, even if band members are switching instruments or making technical changes.

“We don’t really like to have silence in the set. So we try to keep noise going all the time. We also get bored with the instruments that we play, so we like to switch them all up constantly,” Bissonnette said.

It can change the dynamic of a song, and sometimes keep the writing process fresh, with the multi-instrumentalists bringing new and ever-changing sounds while playing a figurative game of musical chairs.

“You change with how you play with people and with a normal band where it’s like, you’re the drummer, you’re the guitar player, you can rely on certain things. That challenge in itself is what is kind of adventourous about it for us,” McLaren said.

It brings in a lot of aesthetically different ways to make music to the palette as well, whether that’s McLaren singing into a violin or using an orchestral bow on an electric bass.

“We each give each other the ability to bounce around on whatever we want to try. It works out well,” Bissonnette said.

The writing process is a fluid one as McLaren put it they “swim through the dirge together.”

“It’s like trying to write really intuitively, things just kind of happen and we follow them,” Pym said.

Lakeman’s songs can range into the 30-plus minute mark, and in tune with their unique style they don’t plan on putting out their work in any traditional way.

“I think we have this problem with being satisfied with what we do and then by the time we’re showing it to everybody we kind of want to move on,” Pym said.

They are looking at an unconventional release for their latest work. Facing an ever-changing multimedia landscape, Lakeman is looking to explore a release which would highlight the visual elements of their music.

“Our motto has been that the LP is the tombstone of the local band. From all of our personal experiences,” Pym laughed.

Lakeman play Kelowna at Fernando’s Pub on March 17 and Muninn’s Post March 24. They come to The Whole in Penticton on March 25. To check out more by Lakeman visit www. lakeman.bandcamp.com.