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Onto the next level of experience

by The Concordian September 20, 2011
Most people who have attended a summer camp have probably performed in the camp talent show (think Wet Hot American Summer.)
Cheesy and cliché as it may seem, singer/chief songwriter and guitarist Ryan Boldt and guitarist Burke Barlow of Saskatoon quintet The Deep Dark Woods found their early musical beginnings by “rock[ing] out incredible versions of Stairway to Heaven” at camp.
Those early days are a part of The Deep Dark Woods’ history of collaboration and connectivity. Drummer Lucas Goetz and Boldt’s grandparents used to play music together back in the day, so by the time the band solidified in 2005, the guys had already been acquainted since childhood.
“I’ve been with the band for a couple years now so I’m really the new guy in and amongst people who have known each other or each others’ families for generations and at least a lifetime,” organist and pianist Geoff Hilhorst explained.
Having known each other for as long as they have has influenced their musical compatibility. “There’s a steady constant with music that we all enjoy, but then there’s also stuff that each of us will say we like and the other one may not like as much,” said Hilhorst. “So each of us brings in a little bit of their own flavour to the band, which lends itself to the sound of the band as a whole.”
The Deep Dark Woods have been described as alternative country rock, roots and folk.
“That’s kind of what’s really neat about The Deep Dark Woods as far as music goes,” said Hillhorst. “Some of the songs and ideas that we’re playing, the ideas have been around for a couple hundred years, we just happen to be playing them with electric instruments, which puts a new kind of twist on things.”
While The Deep Dark Woods’ music is often interpreted as being heavily influenced by their hometown, Hilhorst countered that perception.
“Saskatoon probably doesn’t have a major influence on the music,” he explained. “I would say that [Boldt’s]’s musical influences in general have the biggest influences on [his] songwriting.”
He continued: “The murder ballads, you can liken that to the rough winters of the Saskatchewan plains, but really, murder ballads have been around for a couple hundred years.”
Their fourth studio album, The Place I Left Behind, was released via Six Shooter Records earlier this year. This time, the band decided to take the reins and produce the record themselves, having collaborated with producer Steve Dawson on the previous three albums.
“That whole idea of having the five of us basically steering the ship really lends itself to the dynamic of the record,” Hilhorst asserted. “That’s why it sounds different than the other ones, sonically as well as musically […] The whole element of producing the record ourselves, I think, moved us to the next level of experience in the studio.”

Catch The Deep Dark Woods when they play Petit Campus (57 Prince-Arthur St. E.) at 11 p.m. on Sept. 23 as part of POP Montreal.

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