What is your name and role within Fer Sher?
Benji: Guitar, production Ali: Vocals, lyrics, melodies, artwork Oscar: Bass Chris: Drums Yamin: Guitar
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there? We all live in and around Tio’tia:ke (Montreal). The music community here is great, you can find anything you’d possibly like if you look hard enough. There are also a decent amount of smaller venues and diy spots which really support newer artists like ourselves. We are also lucky to have a sizable French music scene that comes with its unique flavour, too. We feel quite fortunate to have our city in which to start a musical journey.
How did Fer Sher form?
Yamin, 26 at the time, had never been in a band. He and Aaron started writing guitar parts and were shortly joined by Jer on drums, both of whom had had touring and recording experience. The band was slowly pieced together with friends (but to us, also musical giants) coming and going (Aaron and Jer left amicably) for several years, during which time the conceptual foundations of what our sound was to be like were laid. Eventually everyone in the band was on the same page and we began recording thanks to Benji’s production wizardry and performing thanks to a finally solidified lineup.
What’s been happening recently?
We have written quite a long debut double-EP, “Family”, clocking in at about 30 minutes to be released in two halves this spring. From there we are excited to hit the road this summer and work on a full-length.
You have a new EP ‘Step Siblings’ coming out on Feb 26, what influenced the sound and songwriting?
Compositionally, one of the three songs, Shteve, was written over the course of several years and was a painstaking first attempt at finding ways to express catchiness and complexity simultaneously. The second song, Fork, was written mostly by Yamin but with crucial contributions by Benji, while the third song, Locked Drawers, saw an inverse in that Benji brought the main gist and Yamin added his
thoughts to it. So in the ways that the songs were created, they are very much like step siblings.
What influenced our sound the most was our attempt to emulate our favourite motifs and sounds, exploring musical and collaborative possibilities, and really trying to put as much of our vulnerable selves into the music and accompanying facets (production, artwork, merch, etc) as possible.
Vocally and lyrically, it’s a whole other story. When Ali arrived in early 2019 she brought with her conceptual, storytelling, and performance capacities that really shaped the music into the product it’s become. Our live shows took on theatrical and immersive components as Ali grew into her role as a singer without an instrument to hold (a first for her).
Please tell us about the stories, concepts and themes behind Step Siblings:
The lyrics each represent a character and a story that form the basis of the three songs. The storytelling is vague and non-linear because the lyrics follow that nagging train of thought that continually reflects back on events and tries to place them into a broader context. There’s the struggling friend who continually lies to everyone in a desperate attempt at self preservation, the victim of online stalking and abuse who becomes paralyzed in their day to day life and the artist struggling to toe the line between perfectionism and free expression. Every story, after exhaustive analysis, ends back up at the absurdity of interpersonal existence and the human condition. Because what story ever doesn’t?
How did you go about writing the music?
Guitars are really the driving force behind the song compositions at the moment. At the moment, there is a large emphasis on progression within songs. We really ask ourselves, “where is the song going?”. Yamin really frankenstein’s different parts together; all songs on the double-EP have tempo and time signature changes, nothing too technical but equally present throughout. Benji thinks more of cohesion with regards to mood and atmosphere between parts, and Chris confronts the challenge of when to groove and when to provide angularity. Bass is filled in next before Ali weaves her way through all-but completed tracks.
Where and when did you record/produce and who with?
All our material to date has been produced by our guitarist Ben, who actively records bands of all kinds in our area. Step Siblings was recorded throughout late 2019.
How did you approach the recording process?
Benji takes a natural and honest approach. There is no pitch correction on vocals or drum samples used in our music. It’s more fun to hear the breath of a singer or the scrape on guitar strings than to have something flawless.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging with the whole DIY approach?
The most challenging is the unpaid work. Benji and Ali work tirelessly with no compensation. The most rewarding is the pride and sense of accomplishment that come with having the entirety of a band created in-house. It takes our project beyond a conventional band and into the realm of art rock DIY
The band has a really theatrical live show that is a spectacle of its own, please tell us how your live started and has evolved:
The band was never intended to be more than a math-rock group, and we played with that mentality before Ali arrived. Having the stage on which to develop characters, crowd interaction, and pure focus on the singing without playing anything else opened up a door to the performance no one saw coming. We are now trying to evolve into a truly ensconcing experience, in which we hope that the meticulousness of the songwriting adequately backdrops the on-stage hijinks in a balanced and comprehensive concert-going adventure.
How do you prepare for live shows?
We try to meet as much as possible, which can be very difficult. Things outside the band in our lives are very hectic – engagement (!!!), immigration issues, full-time university studies, recording other local bands, beginning a career in architecture, and making time for our beloved friends and families are just some of the other things on our plates.
You also have a second EP ‘Identical Triplets’ coming out, please tell us more:
We had 6 songs ready to record when we planned these releases. With a closer look, the first three sounded really different from each other while the other three were pretty much the same idea expressed three different ways. This instantiated the concept of different family makeups, biological, adopted, chosen, etc., and really spoke to our appreciation for and celebration of our families. Identical Triplets became a conceptual opposite to Step Siblings and we are recording it as we speak.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Yamin: Invalids Oscar: Mil-Spec Ben: Young Guv Ali: Cate Le Bon Chris: Circa Survive
What do you like to do away from music?
We all have varied hobbies. Oscar loves gaming and collecting vinyl, Ben’s always fixing up a guitar, amp or pedal. Yamin studies full-time, volunteers, and tries to prioritize his health. Ali likes crafting and cooking and playing outside. Chris likes watching animes & eating ramens whenever possible
What’s planned for 2020?
More music, more shows, and more ramen for Chris
Favourite food and place to hangout?
You can find us at the tiny local vietnamese restaurant, Pho Ici in Rosemont area of Montreal enjoying excellent banh mi, lovely pho, and/or our favourite beverage; taro bubble tea. Everything on the menu there is exquisite, the staff is so warm and inviting, and the tarot bubble tea puts all others to shame. It’s right next to our rehearsal space so many a meal and drink have been enjoyed there. 10/10 highly recommend.