Funeral Lakes were thinking big and small at the same time for their new EP, “Redeemer.”
“They are pretty big, universal ideas, but we wanted to approach them more personally,” the Kingston, Ontario, band says of the follow-up to last year’s “Golden Season” EP (read our review here) and its self-titled debut LP, released in 2019.
The duo of Chris Hemer and Sam Mishos recorded “Redeemer” at their home over the winter, with help from drummer Andrew McLeod of Sunsetter on two tracks, recording his parts remotely.
We recently caught up with Hemer and Mishos via email to chat about the new material, the group’s development over the years and its plans for live performances.
When you were writing these songs, what was going on around you? Did the pandemic or a sense of isolation have any impact on the songs?
Some of these songs are a bit older, but the bulk of writing and recording happened over the winter months of 2021. Winters in eastern Ontario are really frigid and snowy, so it can be hard to get outside at the best of times. Like many others, this was an incredibly isolating time, so that definitely made its way into the music. Having a lot of time with ourselves and with our thoughts meant revisiting old memories, which informed this collection of songs.
How would you describe your writing process? Do you write separately, together or both?
It depends on the song, but usually we start with a chord progression on an acoustic guitar and build on it from there. We’re both constantly writing and sharing ideas with each other, so it’s always a collaborative process.
In your press kit, you talk about faith and justice, and memory and legacy. Can you expand on that?
These themes have been ever-present in our music and this project since its beginning. They are pretty big, universal ideas, but we wanted to approach them more personally. We had been talking a lot about how people and events in our lives are remembered, and how that informs our present realities. We tried to consider what it means to just let go, but also the importance of choosing what to hold on to.
When you began work on this EP, was it important to you that it be different, either sonically or topically, than Golden Season?
We wanted to make a collection of songs that reflected our environment and where we were at, both sonically and topically. That’s always been how we approach records, so in that sense there was a big difference between Golden Season and Redeemer.
How have Funeral Lakes changed since your first recordings?
From the beginning we’ve been independent, so that means teaching ourselves what we need to record. We’d like to think that we get a little better with everything we record. Because of that, we have a better idea of how to achieve the tone or sound that we want.
What impact do your surroundings have on your music?
Our surroundings are hugely influential on the music we make. Where we live, there are many old buildings and churches, so we thought about emulating what it might sound like to be performing in a space like that. That ended up coming through as a lot of reverb, so the sound is pretty cold, moody, and lonely because of all that empty space.
When was the last time you played a live show?
The last time we performed was at a house show in February 2020, just before the pandemic started. We shared the bill with other musicians and poets, which was a great mix. Looking back on that time is really special to us and we definitely miss it.
When will you be performing next?
We’re playing it safe so we don’t have anything lined up at the moment. We want to be sure that there is an environment where everyone can feel safe and comfortable before we start playing again.
How would you describe the live presentation of this band vs. the recordings?
Sometimes it’s more stripped down as a duo, but other times we’ve been able to perform as a four piece which is much closer to our recorded sound.
Do you have any events, livestreams or videos planned to promote the EP?
We’re currently working on some stuff to promote the EP. The best place to keep up with us is probably our Instagram (@funerallakes).
To give some context to readers who might not be familiar with Funeral Lakes, who are some other artists you think are comparable?
Saintseneca, Typhoon, and Arcade Fire are all hugely influential on the way we approach music.
Looking ahead to the rest of this EP cycle and beyond, what are some goals you have, especially regarding touring? Have you performed in the United States?
Hopefully playing some live shows as soon as it’s safe to do so. We haven’t made it to the US yet, but definitely plan to tour south of the Canadian border sometime in the future.
Photo by Roy Zheng