by Brendan Reid
VANCOUVER – Communication is something humans have always struggled with, and now we have tools that allow us to miscommunicate over larger distances and in greater volumes. Hundred Waters appreciates how complicated communication can be, especially between two people who love each other deeply. It’s a problem with no easy answer – one that cannot be scapegoated onto the overarching specter of technology.
Ironically, the group’s latest offering, Communicating, is a love letter to the concept of miscommunication. And though it expounds the frustrations inherent in relationships and connection, it also implores listeners to strive for joy and comfort, within both oneself and the company that surrounds them.
Hundred Waters is a group that thrives on intimacy. The band began within the humorously named “Bro Island,” a former karate dojo/grocery store that was repurposed into University of Florida housing. It was in this liminal space that Hundred Waters began to find their feet. The connection between its members runs deep – percussionist Zach Tetreault and multi-instrumentalist Trayer Tryon began making music together as early as middle school. When lead singer Nicole Miglis joined the group, she and Tryon formed a relationship of their own, deepening the sense of love and emotion the band projects with their unique sound.
Despite their closeness, Hundred Waters often examines love with scrutiny, making sure to expose its shortcomings as much as its innate beauty. Communicating explores these themes openly, investigating concepts of longing and change, as well as the efforts we make to communicate our feelings to one another.
The lush voice and creative vision of lead singer Miglis carry these ideas to fruition, and the video for “Fingers” is a key example of her fearless artistic integrity. In the video, Miglis lies on the ground in a barren but well-lit room, and finds herself covered in live insects, ranging from cockroaches to mealworms, tarantulas to carrion beetles. There is no special effects trickery going on here; Miglis truly let these creatures envelope her, and for good thematic reason.
“[Fingers is] about being in a relationship and not knowing what you really want,” she says. “Being in something for so long that you don’t know where else to go. [This] creates a constant feeling of being unsettled. It was the closest thing to intimacy I could think of, and the furthest.”
Anyone who has been in an out-of-touch relationship knows the feeling, and Miglis embraces this sensation in its most literal form, letting her skin crawl in ways that would terrify most.
“Part of me just finds insects fascinating,” she admits. “We’re so socially phobic of them. They’re one of the smallest visible forms of life to us, and we fear them the most. Like the lion and the mouse fable… I think the way we consider and treat these smaller forms of life says a lot about us as people.”
Her observation is apt. In today’s era, people seem to belittle one another as much as they do smaller forms of life, and a great deal of this can be attributed to simple miscommunication. Many people believe that technology itself is responsible for these problems, but Miglis is inclined to disagree.
“Technology evolves with people,” she says. “Any moral issue that comes out of modern communication isn’t technology, it’s us. And those things have always been there. Technology just gives us a tool.”
Hundred Waters performs at the Fox Cabaret (Vancouver) on December 9.