I Heart Hamilton is excited to share the brand new video by Aestrid! I first got know this band from Utrecht, Netherlands from their frequent tours to Canada where they make the rounds in Southern Ontario and Québec, making more connections and building their fanbase with each visit.
This week the band released a new video, “Crusher,” off their forthcoming album A Lake Inside, which was recorded in Kingston, Ontario during one of those tours. The video was also captured locally back in November 2018. The cold, Canadian winter landscape comes across as beautiful yet eerie, and a little unsettling. Like the song itself, you have the softness of the music contrasted with singer Bo Menning’s lyrics about nightmares he experienced.
I spoke with the band about the creative process behind the new song and video as well as their connections to Canada. Watch the video below and scroll through to our interview!
You recorded the new album in Kingston – what is it about that city that inspires you and finds its way into your music?
Ray Murphy: Yes, the new album was recorded in Kingston ON; the other time we’ve recorded in Canada was in Brantford ON. That record was No Map Or Address (2014). There’s definitely something about Kingston for us! Probably because it’s our homebase whenever we’re on tour in Canada.
Lucas Simpson, a good friend of ours, lives there who’s also our sound tech. He lets us stay at his house, provides our backline and drives us around. Great guy and there’s a lot of chemistry when we’re out on the road together. On the off days he takes us around town and the surrounding areas. This way we got to know the city and its history just a little better and better every time we were over. We’ve made friends there, toured with local bands, and are familiar faces in some places now.
And yes, it found a way into our music for sure! Did you ever travel to a place you’ve never been before that gave you a certain vibe or feeling? That same feeling will always come back whenever you return to that exact place. Because of how it looks, how it smells, the atmosphere, the time you’ve spent there or the point in your life you were there. It can change your whole mood or vibe. Now, imagine creating your art there. It’ll have its effect on it right away.
Bo Menning: My mind kind of works like a Polaroid camera. I get moved by the scenery, take a snapshot, and there’s a memory or a feeling attached to it. I think that’s what happens subconsciously. Writing songs is still a weird thing for me, I’ve got to let it happen.
Did you go into recording this new album with ideas in mind? Do you think about wanting to do something different from your last release, or just go wherever the ideas take you?
Ray: After the release of our previous record Silver in 2016, we didn’t quite know what the next step would be. We never want to repeat the same process again. And recording in the Netherlands just didn’t feel right. We’re always looking for an environment that’ll spark our imagination, a place that’ll make us play differently. There actually were many ideas for songs, but it felt like it was scattered all over the place. We couldn’t see the full scope of it, as if it was too fragmented.
A next Canadian tour was getting close with some off days in between shows. We decided to bring a small 4-track cassette recorder and some mics, just to be able to record something. Once we arrived in Kingston, we threw all the gear we could find on one big pile and started to build a studio setup in Luke’s basement. Recording on location and making that space a part of the sound is something we love doing. When everything was set we started playing through some of the songs, but the ideas didn’t make sense to Bo anymore. It just didn’t feel right to play something written on one side of the Atlantic and record it on the other. The feeling and idea Bo had for the songs didn’t fit with that special feeling we have when we’re in Canada.
We decided to start from scratch. Start with the ideas and catch the feeling we had there, at that time and space. This worked pretty swift. We began to write in the morning, creating sounds, get familiar with it and find a structure that felt right. Once we got to a certain point where you feel you’ve got a song, we hit the record button. We were able to write and record one song a day for seven days and went home with seven songs.
I love that your band ranges in sound so much, from loud to more ambient. It makes for an exciting live show, too! Your new single “CRUSHER” explores the softer side of the band. What was the process of working on this particular song?
Ray: Thank you so much! We love to work with dynamics a lot and always try to explore this in any setting we play. “CRUSHER” was the last song we recorded in Kingston, song number seven. We were about to tear down the studio set up, but there was this one thing left… It was way after midnight and we had to be quiet. The vibe, the time, the amount of noise we could make, everything was right to capture the beauty in this darkness. “CRUSHER” reflects all of this.
Bo: I wasn’t doing very well and had been feeling spent and beat for a while by then. I’ve been dealing with long term depression and PTSD since I’ve been a kid. Grew up in a house where there was a constant threat of violence and abuse. As a result there were violent nightmares night after night. It even got to a point where I didn’t want to sleep anymore. For me “CRUSHER” resembles a place between this world and those dreams. It appears to look like present time, but it isn’t when you look closer. Dealing with the dark is something that I wake up and go to bed with. It’s an endless cycle that I’ve now embraced and am learning to live with.
You shot the video for “CRUSHER” during your last Canadian tour back in November 2018. It really shows that Canadian winter landscape that just starting to settle in. What was the concept behind the video?
Ray: The video was recorded up at White Lake near Almonte ON. It’s about a two hour drive from Kingston.
Bo: One of my favourite drives. It’s a happy place for me, nothing can touch me up there near the lakes. That feeling of freedom and safety was something I first felt when I was out running as a little kid. I ran everywhere, to school, to the grocery store, to be away from a troubled home. When I’m running I’m in a place where nothing can touch me and nothing or no one can hurt me.
Ray: We all love to go to White Lake and try to spend at least one day and night there each tour, but sadly it’s not always possible. Our very first Canadian tour in 2013 started off at White Lake; we woke up after a long day of traveling and were blown away by the beauty of it. A picture of me standing at the lake already found its way to the cover of our previous record. And the idea of recording something there is stuck in our minds. This time it was the perfect setting for a music video. We were lucky it had been snowing which made it even more beautiful and fit perfectly with “CRUSHER.” The video shows the endless cycle that dealing with depression and PTSD can be, as Bo explained. It also reflects his love for cross country running, the feeling of freedom and safety with it. To come back to the same place again and to be dealt with every single day.
Your music feels very cinematic. Do visuals like art or movies ever inspire you musically?
Bo: Oh yeah, definitely. I like going to museums that have out of the ordinary modern art with matching architecture and landscapes. I also see a lot of movies. Some of the movies that really stuck with me when we were recording were: Manchester By the Sea (2017) and Running Brave (1984). In both movies there are these completely strung out characters that are trying to find a way to deal with the past. Something I strongly identified with at that time.
What does the title A LAKE INSIDE signify to you?
Ray: It means everything and nothing at the same time for all of us. All three of us have seen dark places in our lives; not everyone wants to share this but that doesn’t mean it’s not a part of everyday life anymore. There’s more than meets the eye.
Also, the recording of Silver was a harsh, heavy and aggressive process. Recording A LAKE INSIDE felt more natural, also confronting, but as a group (including Luke who was there when we recorded the previous two records too) we were on the same page. Nobody was scared to share, always looking for solutions; it was a team effort instead of everyone telling their own story. We were in the same place.
Bo: It’s a scenic thing. And it’s got something to do with the past. There’s a whole lot of that and I’ve always tried to make something new out of all the hopelessness. To paint with all colours and drive out the deep black nothing. Creating a world of my own with some rays of light for my sisters and my mom.
I know you love both Kingston and Hamilton and both feel like a home away from home for you! Do you find there are similarities between Utrecht and Hamilton?
Ray: Both towns are going through a big change. The hardcore industry that used to be the beating heart is slowly morphing into something new. Hamilton has got that same vibe in the music scene as Utrecht. Loads of bands with a blue collar mentality, most Dutch bands that go big or go places come from our city.
Bo and Jurriaan grew up among the factories in a nearby town called Soest. Therefore Hamilton feels like home in two ways. One: everyone we met has got that no-bullshit mentality. Two: they believe in something and are willing to work very hard for this. The only way to achieve something in Soest too. We recognize this in Glen Marshall and Bob Lanois who run The Mule Spinner for example. And Jeff Campagna and Tania LaCaria who run Steeltown Garage Co. Extremely driven to create something with heart, with teeth.
Thank you Aestrid for taking the time to chat with me! Watch for their new album to come and I can’t wait to see them again during their next Canadian tour.