A NXNE Preview: Olenka & the Autumn Lovers by V. Rachel Weldon

After recently signing a nation-wide distribution deal with Sonic Unyon, London’s Olenka & the Autumn Lovers will be diving into the pool of Canadian talent in town this Friday (June 17), performing at the Live In Bellwoods picnic in the afternoon and the Gladstone Hotel in the evening as a part of North By Northeast.

The Live in Bellwoods event (BYO picnic, guitars, tambourines and other acoustic instruments to join in on the fun) takes place each afternoon from Thursday to Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. It will be featuring O&AL at 4:00 pm on Friday, on a bill along with Doldrums, Enjoy Your Pumas and The Balconies among others.

“I’m looking forward to playing with The Balconies again. They’re on our Bellwoods bill and they’re definitely exciting to watch,” O&AL frontwoman Olenka Krakus told me. “We played a show together at Fanshawe College and got along swimmingly, so it’ll be nice to catch up with them.” Krakus also looks forward to playing with Montreal’s Charlotte Cornfield, who opens Friday’s Live in Bellwoods picnic, and the Icelandic group Miri at the group’s show at the Gladstone Hotel in the evening.

O&AL haven’t had much difficulty with winning over regional fans and critics alike in past years, but have found themselves with more and more airplay coast to coast since the  2010 release of their latest opus And Now We Sing. Krakus is excited and relieved to hand over distribution duties to Sonic Unyon, a well-established Canadian label with the means to get their albums into the hands of fans all over the country.

“I mean, I don’t mind driving albums down to Toronto on a weekend that we play there, but it’s a bit heftier of a time and financial investment driving to, say… Vancouver,” Krakus jokes with a sigh of sincerity. “It’s a genuine relief to know that people who listen to us on the east coast or somewhere in the prairies can drop by their local record store and pick up an album… Hopefully the availability of the album will make it easier for Canadians to become better acquainted with our music.”

Until now, the group has been associated with Oh! Records, a component of London’s Open House Arts Collective. (The label has released two compilations of London’s diverse musical talent to date, including groups such as A Horse and His Boy, Handsome Dan and His Gallimaufry, Lido Pimienta and Say Domino.) While band members Krakus and Sara Froese (violin, vocals) remain active members of the collective, Krakus explains that Oh! Records is really a label in name only, without the means to market, distribute and financially support its artists at this point. “We had to be realistic about it and start seeking that sort of support elsewhere,” Krakus explains. “That’s not to say that Oh! won’t eventually develop into a label with these services, but it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t afford to wait around indefinitely.”

Fellow Oh! Collective artists Lido Pimienta and A Horse and His Boy are also playing NXNE this Friday and, lucky you, not all at the same time. Catch Lido Pimienta at 918 Bathurst at 10pm and A Horse and His Boy at Hard Luck Bar at 11pm, before heading over to the Gladstone Hotel for O&AL’s 12am performance. Happy NXNE everyone!

Photo courtesy of the band.

Find all of our coverage of NXNE 2011 here.

V. Rachel Weldon is an arts journalist and English lit student currently traveling this great white home and native land, expanding her horizons. You can email her rachel@littleredumbrella.com.


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