Hailing from Toronto, Tree Museum is an indie-alternative rock band that formed in 2014. They have recently unveiled their latest single, “Feels Real,” which centers around the theme of bouncing back from the pandemic. We caught up with the band to chat about the new song, their favourite things about being musicians, and some of the current favourite Canadian artists.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “Feels Real”.
Tree Museum: Feels Real was 1 of 3 songs we recorded last year at DreamHouse Studios in Toronto w/ our producer Calvin Hartwick. Each of those songs (Feels Real, Neon Dreams (Fucked Up Friends), and Hardly There) we’re written around the different situations we experienced after Toronto’s long covid19 lockdown.
Feels Real is about someone having to jump back into the (not locked-down) world just as it stopped feeling real to them. I think a lot of people built up their own mental barriers trying to make peace with the whole experience, and I wanted to try to express the process of having to break through those to get back to the lives and identities we (unwillingly) let go.
It also covers some of the ‘guilt’ or anxiety of having to face your peers and contrast your experience to thiers. What you did and didn’t do, how you were and we’ren’t changed – it was a unique 2 years for everyone, but there was some unspoken pressure to have something to show for it.
Feels Real was also kind of interesting because it’s a re-working of a similar song we did for a live-off-the-floor recording project for Trebas Inst. Audio Engineering students during the pandemic. It was a cool experience, but we wanted to rewrite it with a more polished structure and message – and we’re really happy how it came out the second time.
From The Strait: How did Tree Museum first get together?
Tree Museum: Tree Museum originally popped up way back in 2014, when Greg and I first moved to Toronto. We had been writing together for a long time already, and had a few projects back in our hometown (Thunder Bay, ON.) that had fallen apart in the move down south. After meeting a few people through friends in the Humber College Jazz program to fill out the rhythm section, we started writing and playing around town under the name Tree Museum and released a debut EP in late 2015.
Then the project feel quiet for awhile after that as we dealt with some continuous lineup changes before meeting up with Adam in 2018. We did a bit of a rebrand and wrote a bunch of new music and teamed up with our producer Calvin – and that’s the Tree Museum you see today.
From The Strait: What’s your favourite – and least favourite – thing about being a musician?
Tree Museum: I’d say the thing I like the most is probably the community. .Musicians are always such down-to-earth, supportive, and collaborative people. The Toronto scene can be a bit daunting, but once you get to know a few people – its a super welcoming and inspiring place to share art. Sending your new song to someone and hearing their take, or talking to someone after a gig about your set is such a great feeling – it never gets old.
Our least favourite things are definitely the social media and financing. None of us are super extroverted people, so making content above and beyond our songs is always a bit like pulling teeth. We’re not bad at it really, but i’d rather just make cool music while not trying to be an ‘influencer’. It can also become really expensive – we self-fund everything and don’t generate that much from performances. It’s become a bottleneck for putting music out a few times, and that kinda sucks.
From The Strait: What are some Canadian bands you’ve been listening to lately?
Tree Museum: Lots to choose from, but really dig these locals out of the Toronto area.
Aysanabee – He’s actually an old friend of ours from Thunder Bay that we used to play with. His music is so touching and unbelievably genuine – we’re stoked that he’s been getting some recognition. He even opened up the Junos this past year.
Willem James Cohen – He’s a younger singer-songwriter that we played with previously and just writes some amazingly beautiful songs. He just released an album and every tune on there is filled with great melodies and lyrics. He deserves way more recognition!
Silks – Really cool alt-rock-psych group: they just dropped a great debut album and have a lot of cool ideas and layers in their songwriting. It’s like both dark and glimmery music – and lots of cool shoegazey effects.
Jin – This 3 piece out of Niagara are probably the best live bar-band out there right now – Nicole the lead-singer/guitarist completely shreds guitar like a mix between Stevie Ray Vaughn and Hendrix. Their music is full of bluesy grooves and great pocket. But yeah, a killer classic-but-new sound, insane live show – great people too!
From The Strait: What are some of your non-musical hobbies?
Tree Museum: We actually spend a lot of our free time in music adjacent things – I run a not-for-profit concert series called Smoking Room Only, Greg produces music with some other artists, Adam teaches music to younger children and does live sound at a few venues, and Tarun is in like 5 other bands, lol.
Outside of music – Greg works as a programmer so often has some cool dev. projects going and Adam and I both do work in video and photo production (I run an agency, he is a shooter) so spend downtime shooting and making cool videos with a pal of ours. Tarun – I don’t think I’ve even seen him not making or playing music, lol. He’s an eat-sleep-play kinda guy.
Check out “Feels Real”, the latest single from Tree Museum!