It goes deeper.
The best things usually do.
The ones that matter, that last, that impact.
Sitting down with Sarah Kemmers and Clayton Dell in N.W. restaurant 4th Spot Kitchen and Bar, the conversation starts somewhere, then goes deeper.
We’re talking about their refreshing folk-pop trio Lighter Than Arrows and the band’s sweet, soulful debut EP Quiet Revolution, which they’ll release with a show Friday night at Wine-Ohs.
The album, which was recorded at local Evergreen Sounds in early May of last year, is as light as their band name alludes, but, well, goes further the deeper you dig.
Not surprising, really, considering that it started — and the band itself — as something that was immediate, then immediately more.
The pair met when Dell joined Kemmers’ other already established act The Wellington Folk back in 2014. They became roommates soon after. And musical partners soon after that.
“We had an immediate musical and personality chemistry,” Kemmers says.
“And when you’re creating that’s a really deep and vulnerable act in a lot of ways, so you have to be creating with people that you feel somewhat understand you’re vision and what you’re trying to create.
“And I think we have that to both The Wellington Folk and now Lighter Than Arrows.”
“The musicians in it are so serious about it,” Dell agrees. “The difference is between being just a hobby band and people who actually have a vision of where we want it to go.
“The music means a lot to us.”
But, again, it’s on the personal side that the connections are deeper with the members of Lighter Than Arrows.
Ask the duo what the touchstones were that they bonded over initially and rather than go to musical tastes Dell talks about sharing each other’s passions, including his love of astronomy which Kemmers embraced, and spiritual conversations that showed they were on the same page.
“And I think you can hear a bit of that in the writing and the music,” he says.
“While the playlist might look different there’s a mutual appreciation for elements of writing,” she says, noting that there is some overlap, but that their agreement mainly comes through appreciation of things such as “well layered and constructed harmonies.
“We’re pretty creatively agreeable and always willing to try out new things to meet in the middle.”
And their sound is a reflection of that — not traditional folk, not rock, not pop, not country, not classical, not adult contemporary. Instead Lighter Than Arrows’ sound is a convergence of all of those things, which they’re somewhat proud of, especially considering it came about so naturally.
“We like to write the music as it comes and experiment with a lot of different genres, pull out little bits of what we like out of each of them instead of trying to stick to one thing,” Dell says.
Kemmers agrees and notes, “It can be a challenge, but I really keep looking at the artists that I really, really love and appreciate, and the message that they put out in creating and it’s, ‘Do what you’re called to do, write what you’re feeling to write.’ …
“Maybe that’s naive, but I think for me there’s a lot of joy in not feeling restricted in how I’m creating.”
That includes even becoming a three-piece, with the two really only wanting to remain a guitar-vocals duo, bringing in violinist Pete Verheul to add an extra element on some of their already-written material.
“Once he played a few songs with us, it was like, ‘OK, this works, I think we need him for all of the songs,’ ” says Dell, explaining that tracks these days are written with Verheul’s violin in mind.
That’s only one of the aspects of evolution the band has gone through over past year-and-a-half. As the two note, originally Kemmers was the primary songwriter, bringing the material to her musical partner and the pair fleshing it out.
Now it’s much more collaborative, with the album highlight Keep Your Hope marking what the “first genuine co-write.”
Inspired by Kemmers’ day-job with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (she actually met Verheul while he was volunteering there) and a particularly trying period last year for the organization, with the loss of some of their at-risk youth and children, it actually became the template — collaboratively, musically and depth-wise — that they would use moving forward.
“Clay’s always been really pushing that we want our music not just to be consumed but to stand for something, to make an impact, to have a voice,” Kemmers says of the track which has been adopted as a fund-raiser for the organization, a portion of the proceeds from downloads being donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“So I think Keep Your Hope is special on a few levels. It’s about something much bigger than us and it was the first time that we really got to write together.”
Perhaps it’s the title track of Quiet Revolution, though, that is more the calling card for the band. Originally intended to be called Places We Go, they changed it when they realized that thematically — for the album, for Lighter Than Arrows — that song truly captured things.
“We just really want our vision to be a big part of our music so when we discussed the concept of the song Quiet Revolution we decided that was more the statement we wanted to make with the whole album,” Kemmers says. “So the concept to us is that change is brewing … and we’re just trying to capture that revolution doesn’t always have to be big and loud and violent.
“Sometimes the most powerful revolutions are what start with people and individuals and communities and just making changes that are meaningful to you and the people around you.
“And then you hope that the ripple effect occurs.”
She continues. “We’re not looking to ruffle feathers we’re looking to help create unity and help create a common conversation.”
A deeper one. A better one.
Lighter Than Arrows release their new EP Quiet Revolution with a show Friday night at Wine-Ohs. You can purchase the record here.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on at Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He likes beer. Buy him one.