Certain songs strike a listener in a fresh and unique way. Victoria-based Towers and Trees, an indie rock collective, offers up that kind of music, and folks can see for themselves what this unique collaboration is all about during a City stop at Bo’s Bar & Grill April 23rd.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Also set to perform are Mike Edel and special guest Thomas Hutlet.
With its roots as a home recording project by singer/songwriter Adrian Chalifour, the vision of Towers and Trees was to rediscover the joy of creating and sharing music.
“Music has always been a part of my life,” explains Chalifour. At 13, he picked up a guitar and before that there were piano lessons plus a penchant for the drums.
Songwriting soon followed. And during those formative years, he played lots of guitar and drums at his church as well.
“But it was actually post-high school that I played my first show outside of that environment.” A band was formed shortly after, but didn’t last particularly long.
“The first really pivotal moment in my musical journey was when I was 23 – I made a decision to move to Montreal,” he recalls. That was the plan, anyways. But he was with someone at the time who had other plans, and they ended up living in a small community in B.C.’s interior. “It was a two-year stint that really was about supporting the other person’s vision for their life or our life together.”
He recalls it as also being a time of losing vision, momentum and direction. The writing continued, but the performances dropped off. Plus, his entire former band all moved to Montreal.
“I really just lost direction.” He then moved to Vancouver for about a year, thinking he could essentially pick up where he left off. But the dry times continued.
Next, he decided to head back home to Victoria. After a year, he came to the conclusion that he was, at heart, a musician and that he could define his own measure of success in that context. “I realized I could choose my own parameters of success. I said, as long as I’m creating music that I’m proud of, and sharing the music, than I’m being successful.”
That new perspective was liberating. About a month later, his roommate suggested they try and record some of Chalifour’s songs which ended up being a fuller project called the Broken Record. As the project took shape, he reached out to various other musicians he knew who would lend their talents. The concept of a kind of musical ‘collective’ was sparked.
Chalifour called it Towers and Trees, and the group’s infectious debut single Montreal broke into commercial, college and CBC radio in early 2013.
Broken Record also earned multiple award nominations (VIMA and ‘M Awards’).
During this time, the collective continued to hone its sound and stage craft, establishing itself as one of B.C.’s most notable indie acts.
Towers and Trees returned to the creative process in late 2014. This time, they entered the studio with Vancouver producer/engineer Alex Aligizakis to record a full-length follow up to their debut effort. They released the amazing cut West Coast, the first song (and title track) this past January.
Performing live brought more confirmation that they were really onto something. He recalls the first show as being probably the most fun they’d had onstage. “And a lot of us had been playing with a lot of different bands over the years. I think that’s the moment when it stopped being a kind of solo apartment recording project to seeing that there was a collective atmosphere to it. And it sort of ran from there.”
There has since been a core group of musicians, plus others who have come and gone. Chalifour is pretty much the principle songwriter for the group, but he loves the idea of others bringing their musical gifts to the process. “There’s this space for collaboration and creativity.”
Meanwhile, another powerful single, Free was just released early this month and The West Coast LP is expected out later in 2015.
For Chalifour, holding to the original vision of Towers and Trees helps keep him grounded amidst the ups and downs and working within the music industry. “We’ve done this consciously as a group several times where we’ve said, let’s just stop for a moment and recognize that whatever happens, we are still doing a great job of what we are endeavoring to do.”
It’s a healthy place to be. “Like many artists who are trying to get their art out there and have an impact, I think there is always the possibility of burnout, stress and anxiety. We aren’t exempt from that at all, but I think what’s nice is we have this thing we can come back to as sort of a life preserver – a safe place.
“Our goal is to create great music and to share it with as many people as possible. There’s a comfort in constantly being able to come back to that.”