Interview: Tundra Fun

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Photo credits: Lucia Graca

TUNDRA FUN IS:

Jay Richards: Guitar, vocals • Emory Martin: Drums, vocals • Josh Kohler: Bass, vocals • Rob Sills: Keyboards, piano, vocals.

Location: Queen West rooftop. They play next at Czehoski’s on May 4. Worthwhile to go see ’em.

T: How did you all find each other?

Jay: I met Josh through our ultimate frisbee team. We started playing together, and one night we were playing at Not My Dog and Emory was there drinking, and jumped in on drums for a song, and he quickly became the drummer. We had a residency at Not My Dog and Rob works there, and plays in another band with Emory. He came in recently as our keyboardist.

T: So for those who are yet to listen to your music, what would you say your sound is like?

Jay: A little eclectic, but jammy, and funky. Definitely danceable.

Rob: And I’d say the addition of a keyboard player is also built on that. I saw them play a long time ago, and I wanted to be in the band, after hearing them perform. Their sound was really different.

T: An article I read recently described your music as, “slinky fusion of jamdom that opens the door to 70s vinyl.” What a great way to be described.

Emory: We should get that guy in the band. Laughs. Maybe spoken word, and he can just read out the review. And we’ll play background music.

T: What are the songs about?

Jay: They’re about different things. There’s some pretty serious content for sure, like loss and redemption. But there’s also songs about bong hits and bathing suits. I think that’s part of what we do, who we are.

T: Tell me a little bit about your writing process.

Jay: That’s the million dollar question I guess. People always get asked that and you’re never really satisfied with the answer. But I think for everybody it sort of happens differently each time. I do a lot of the writing, and then I come to the guys, and we flush it out, jam it out.

T: If you could make music in any other decade, what decade would it be?

Emory: 70s for sure.

Jay: Or maybe New Orleans in the 1930s, that’d be pretty cool.

Rob: Or maybe the future? Like Deltron 3030.

T: So did you always know you wanted to make music?

Rob: Yeah. I did a business degree then came to Toronto to work in sales. When I was 27, I changed everything, started playing guitar, moved to Parkdale, writing songs. And then I started playing piano again a couple years later and went from there.

Emory: Absolutely. Since I was a kid.

Josh: I started playing bass in grade 12, and that’s when I started thinking seriously about being in a band. Playing rock music, which is always what I loved to listen to.

Jay: I remember being super young and being at my grandparents, they had this xylophone thing but only with 4 metal keys, and one mallet. From the age of 4, I’d be at family functions and I’d rock out on these four notes, and hitting the wooden part too. That was my earliest musical experience. I see that as the beginning of a long and healthy relationship with music. I always want to have that feeling, and bring the music back to that.

T: Do you still get nervous when you perform?

Emory: Not to the same extent. I get excited. It’s like you’re taking on a certain responsibility when you get on stage and I think it should be taken pretty seriously. If you are going to be up there, you might as well take it on.

Rob: I play in lots of projects where I don’t really get nervous anymore, so when I do, I actually really enjoy it now. For our last show I actually felt legitmally nervous, hoping that I was going to remember everything as it was my first gig with the band but it was actually alright, it was good, it made it fun.

T: So what’s next for Tundra Fun?

Jay: Lots of writing and so on. Keep doing what we’re doing.

Emory: Well we have a show in a couple hours. Gotta go by Josh’s garage, pick up our stuff.

T: That’s where you play?

Josh: Yeah, that’s where we jam. Bonafide garage band. We gotta come up with a clever name for it.

T: Anything Torontette readers should know about you? Deep dark secrets?

Emory: Josh looks strikingly hot as a woman. Laughs.

Rob: We’re playing May 4th at Czehoski. Come check us out.

After the interview, it was time to see these boys do their thing under the bright lights at the Silver Dollar Room. Having not seen Tundra Fun perform live I didn’t know what to expect. It only took a couple songs for me to realize that these guys know what they’re doing, and more importantly, have fun doing what they’re doing. That small stage came alive with fun, funky, spontaneous tracks that made me pine for Venice Beach, oceanside. It’s music that is the perfect soundtrack for wind-blown hair, salty skin, top-down, golden sun Pacific Coast highway road trips. We can all use a little bit of this in our concrete jungle, can’t we? Give it a go.

Edited for clarity and length

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