Lisa Iwanycki-Moore has a poetic soul. Not only does she write poetry, but she brings it to her music. Her latest project, Blood and Glass, is a baroque pop journey into the heart of this artsy, dreamy soul. Iwanycki-Moore didn’t want to have a conventional show in Montreal, but is creating an immersive experience with her latest Blood and Glass show entitled In Memory of a Tree.
The idea for a show comes from one of her songs is about a girl who runs free in a forest, gets hit by an arrow, and when she wakes up all the trees are cut down. “It’s my environmental song, and I dedicated it to my sister who is a botanical scientist, a tree doctor,” she says. When she began looking at the props and set for the upcoming show, it occurred to her, “I think we’re having a funeral for a tree.” There is no particular tree that she has in mind though. “It’s a concert, but dedicated to anyone’s favorite tree. It’s a night in commemoration, in a poetic way, of your personal connection with at tree from your past or mine.“
The symbolism of the tree is very much in keeping with Blood and Glass’ overall ethos. “My idea is that Blood and Glass is storytelling almost of another world. There’s a song about a world made out of origami. One song is about a girl who can’t get off a merry-go-round. It’s a metaphor for addiction. We always have these things, interludes, where I go off and tell a story.”
For this show, Iwanycki-Moore wanted to break the convention of having the audience separate from the performers. “How can we make it so the audience members are actual members. People walk in and they’re immersed in my world. They’re part of it. That’s the reason I write a song is to share and hope that someone can go ‘I feel like that sometimes.’ It’s an important relationship. The listener and the musicians. I’ve been to shows where I’m two feet from the drummer and it’s an incredible experience.”
To do this, Iwanycki-Moore created an immersive environment for the show. One person involved in Alexis O’Hara, an installation artist. “She built a speaker igloo at Place des Arts. It’s a tripping thing. What if Alexis O’Hara built a tree that I can sing into? We exchanged some ideas. Blood and Glass always had stage props. I painted birds and bird cages with fluorescent paints and shown black lights on them, making this glow in this dark forest thing. Sidney Krause is hanging electronic clouds. Some dude I meet in the street, I was telling him about the show, and he brought 6 tree stumps. I’m trying to get the audience around a band. There’s not a stage. There’s couches and tree stumps for people to sit on.”
One feature of the band is that though it is at heart a duo, consisting of Iwanycki-Moore and her husband Morgan Moore (of Thus: Owls) on bass and samples, it has been collaborating with many musicians for its upcoming album to be released in the fall: Robbie Kuster (drums), Melanie Belair (violin), Erika Angell (vocals), Simon Angell (guitar), Brad Barr (voice), Patrick Watson (voice), Jocelyn Vielleux (French horn). “[Morgan] just knows all these wonderful musicians who were super happy to come on board. It feels like a band, but it’s like a tribe. It’s a collective almost.” As for the show, the band, aside from Iwanycki-Moore and Morgan Moore, includes Robbie Kuster, Melanie Belair, Alexis O’Hara, and Frank Lafontaine. Iwanycki-Moore says there will be some surprise guests at the show, she is keeping their name secret. All she reveals is that “almost everyone seemed to be free this weekend” and “my band is incredible.”
What should people expect? Blood and Glass is a bit like Sigur Ros or Bjork with its combination of baroque pop and experimentation. As for the whole experience, Moore says that it will start out quite intimate with the opening act, 10,00 horses. “Be prepared to be at home in this arty loft space environment. Go find a couch and grab a drink. When we come on, it’ll be crazy lights and psychedelia.”
In Memory of a Tree by Blood and Glass plays at Nomad Nation (129 Van Horne W) May 23 and 24th. 9 p.m. $10.