By Johnny Papan
VANCOUVER – Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Mise en Scene could be the hottest signee of Vancouver’s freshest indie label, Light Organ Records. Originally a two-piece project, lead vocalist Stefanie Blondal Johnson and drummer Jodi Dunlop, released their debut album Desire’s Despair in 2012, working with three different producers who collectively recorded bands such as Arcade Fire, Tegan & Sara, as well as Beck. The band has since had major gigs at SXSW, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival, and toured throughout Canada. BeatRoute caught up with two of the band members minutes before their live set at the Fox Cabaret, celebrating the connection with their new label and giving fans a taste of what’s to come on their upcoming release, Still Life on Fire.
“We held up for two months in a hut in the middle of the mountains, writing and reflecting on everything that’s happened since our first album came out,” Johnson says about their new album. “On this record, we didn’t shy away from rock and roll. Sometimes producers will hear my voice and try to turn the band down and turn me up, but that’s not our sound. I’m not Britney Spears, I don’t want to be slathered in auto-tune. Distortion was an intentional choice, big drums was an intentional choice, good lyrics was an intentional choice.” Dunlop adds: “We’re sort of grunge rock with more of a pop sensibility.”
The band has evolved since the release of their first album, adding bassist Corey D. Hykaway and lead guitarist Dave Gagnon to the lineup. “We found them on Tinder. Just kidding,” Dunlop comically states. Dunlop actually knew Hykaway in high school and he immediately fit into the band. Gagnon was soon brought into the fold through Hykaway.
“We’re a very eclectic band in the sense that all of our influences are very different,” Johnson says. “We all love the same music but in terms of what we listen to by ourselves regularly, very different. I think because of that we’re all bringing something new to each session, it’s always exciting for us.”
Mise en Scene recently released the new single “Young Leo,” an energetic track with catchy radio-friendly vocal melodies. Dunlop explains: “The song is us speaking to ourselves. Telling ourselves to slow down, take in everything that’s going on around us. Chill out, be patient, relax. Check yo-self.”
Johnson concludes: “In terms of the concept and theme, the album is called Still Life on Fire because it starts off a lot more darker, heavier, and angsty in terms of lyrical content but ends more hopeful and optimistic. It’s very easy to be negative in this world. When we were writing this whole album, we got all of this negative shit out but we wanted to say something positive too.”
Still Life on Fire will be available June 30 via Light Organ Records.Light Organ Records, mise en scene, Still Life