Subjectivity makes for the most meaningful listening experience – at least for The Most Serene Republic, the dream-pop sextet from Ontario. Their music is crafted for the creative listener.
“Let the audience tell our story. I couldn’t do it myself,” said Ryan Lenssen, Republic’s keyboardist and producer.
A particularly subjective listener took Lenssen’s advice. Just weeks ago, a newlywed couple used the band’s tune “Content Was Always My Favourite Color” to score their wedding video. “I’ve never been so honored,” Lenssen reacted.
For a group of six close friends in their early 20s, helping to capture a young couple’s nuptial bliss is precisely the kind of function they could’ve hoped for from their debut record. Underwater Cinematographer was recorded two summers ago amidst grueling factory day jobs and even longer nights. Lenssen, singer Adrian Jewtett, bassist Andrew McArthur, guitarist Nick Greaves and drummer Adam Nimmo (guitarist/vocalist Emma Ditchburn joined later) made the record with no real intention of sharing it with anyone else.
“We created it to be one of those things you put on the shelf and look back at 10 years in the future and say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what we were doing back then,’ ” recalls Lenssen.
Fortunately for the group of frustrated art school 20-somethings, someone cared enough to bring their gem to the brainiacs at respected indie label Arts & Crafts (home to Broken Social Scene and Stars). The result, besides being labeled “little brothers” to Broken Social Scene (they don’t share members), is an album of quirky sing-alongs, washed-out synths and cascading guitar arpeggios.
Republic use Underwater Cinematographer to smash as many musical intricacies and styles into one record as possible. This certainly wasn’t unintentional, as Lenssen once again harkens back to the creative mind of the listener, and their ability to piece together their own understanding and enjoyment of such a malleable piece of music.
“We tried to stay away from as much thought as possible (while recording) – we really wanted to make this as objective on our part so it could be the most subjective thing for the listener,” Lenssen added.
In lieu of such indelible trust in the listener, Lenssen harbors a great discomfort in describing and thus promoting his own work. “Other than doing shows, I can’t promote my album. I feel awkward, like I’m a door-to-door salesman.” This modesty is the key to the band’s growing fanbase and critical praise. A current club tour with fuzz-rock stalwarts Metric is propelling their Canadian arses to a point where they won’t be labeled as just the little brothers of Canuck dream-pop any more. Perhaps it’s the live show that can give Lenssen and Co. that shot at the perfect balance between listener subjectivity and an incredible community of friends playing sparkly indie pop.
Lenssen continued, “Everyone’s artistic endeavors, they always wonder – is what I’m doing important? Does anyone even care? Or are we impacting people’s lives? Are we being the soundtrack to someone’s summer?” Real-life proof says yes, and they’re not stopping yet.