Over some Bailey’s and coffee on a snowy April morning, I had the lovely opportunity to check in with the talented goth punk collective, Look Away: Mel Mac, Maria Martire, Erica Taylor, Kevin Maimann and Jenna Turner. Look Away’s Haunting vocal harmonies, violin, guitar, keys and drums unite to create their own striking sound. On their upcoming tape, Lashburn, members shuffle around on instruments and vocals.
“We decided not to put who played what on the tape. We just stated who Look Away is,” explains Mel Mac, who writes most of the lyrics.
Look Away has been making music together for the last two years. Following their 2013 release, Eyeball EP, the five worked on Lashburn, recorded by Morals’ Tim Hatch and mastered by Flint’s Matt McKeen. Their songs tend to form organically during jams.
“I joke about this light that flickers in the basement [that we jam in] and it is almost like it sucks out all of our energy and we just make a song out of nowhere. With us there are five tiers of a song that come together,” explains Martire.
The members of Look Away come from a wide array of musical backgrounds that vary, from formal childhood music lessons to informal experimentation with instruments.
“It is interesting since we all come from different backgrounds in terms of our musical training and musical tastes. It is bizarre how well it works,” adds Maimann.
As a general rule, these five have tastes in music from across the board, but agree on bands such as Joy Division, New Order, Sonic Youth and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (the latter notably featuring a violinist).
There is no doubt that converging influences and backgrounds, combined with shared creativity, has led not only to their distinct sound but also their unique style. Look Away often uses eyeball imagery and always provides a memorable atmosphere, theme, and overall experience at their shows. On Halloween, they threw a “toxic swamp” theme show complete with props, costumes and visuals (footage of this event can be found on YouTube). Expect no less for their tape release: the band has already been working on creating props to transform DV8 into a psychedelic, David Bowie-inspired, space glam party.
“Initially, the idea came from a rock opera we wanted to have that was Bowie-esque,” recalls Turner.
Show-goers are strongly encouraged to dress up according to the theme. Attendees can expect projections (one created by each member of the band and some created by members of other local groups) to accompany each track, as well as dancers (Nicol McDonal and Casey Bednarek). Attendees will also have the chance to win an enlarged show poster designed by Parker Thiessen.
The merch table at this show will have a lot to offer as well. Indonesian artist Ahmad Oka designed T-shirts. Communication with him began when he liked photos of the Toxic Swamp event on Instagram. He produced the image and explained his favourite track was “Mad Girl’s Love Song” (featuring lyrics from the Sylvia Plath poem) which is also the track that led to the creation of their Mad Girl’s Club patches (designed by Olivia Forsyth).
The Look Away Cassette Release with Morals and Gary Debussy is on May 9 at DV8 in Edmonton. You do not want to miss this show or look away, even for a second. Then keep your eyes peeled for the quintet at a venue near you in August, as they are currently planning a summer tour.
Catch Look Away on May 9 at DV8 (Edmonton) for their cassette release
By Jenna Lee Williams