Owel lead singer talks recording, new album

Owel is a new band breaking away from traditional sounds. The New Jersey quintet, which originally performed under the name Old Nick, released their debut album Tuesday. The band’s music has been featured in Spin Magazine’s Must Hear CD Sampler.

With sounds reminiscent of Radiohead and Sigur Ros, Owel mixes striking lyrics with haunting music that goes beyond the normal, guitar-heavy sound. The group incorporates a variety of instruments, including strings, establishing an ambiance similar to that of a movie soundtrack.

The Miami Hurricane caught up with lead singer Jay Sakong about how the band got together, the inspiring quality of music and his experiences producing, as well as recording, the band’s new album.

The Miami Hurricane: When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?

Jay Sakong: As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a musician … it sort of developed into an identity; it was like that was who I am. There was never really a doubt of whether or not I wanted to do this; it was just always a part of me.

TMH: How did you guys decide to work together and start making music?

JS: I met Jane [Park] when I was a little kid … we were in the same youth group. It’s funny though that years later we actually formed the band. Ryan, I knew through high school … even though I’ve known him for so long, I’ve never played music with him because we were in two different scenes. Seamus … I met on the train on the way to school. Pat joined the band recently because our old bassist had to drop out.

TMH: Was there something in particular you would cite as a turning point for forming the band?

JS: I don’t know if there was a conscious decision to be a band. I think it just naturally happened that way. It’s funny because … I met Seamus on the train on the way to school. After a couple months, all we would do was talk about music. He seemed to understand the aspect of music that I loved and so, even before hearing him play, I asked him to join on guitar. I kind of jumped the gun on that one; I’m a little impulsive. [It was] the same thing with Jane … before she even played with us in the band she came to one of our shows in Brooklyn … with her violin strapped to her back, and I was like, “You gotta join the band.”

TMH: You said Seamus loved the same aspect of music that you did. What aspect is that?

JS: I guess it’s not fair to say that there’s one aspect of music that I love. What draws me in more is atmospheric, textured music that can get big. Also, it’s kind of embarrassing … I love pop. I don’t think pop is a dirty word. Other people might think [our music] is this very complex, weird type of music, but I think, at the heart of it, it is pop.

TMH: What was it like recording a full-length album? Did you find it to be a different experience from previous recording projects?

JS: Not really because this record and the last record I produced myself. That’s actually the reason why I went to audio school … as a musician there’s always this middleman between you and your vision, and sometimes that man makes your vision better and sometimes … he doesn’t. I just wanted to cut out that middleman and just be able to do all of this myself. I remember being in earlier bands, and producers taking what I was and fitting it into the little box … of what they were used to, and I was just never comfortable with that or satisfied with the outcome.

TMH: Moving forward, where do you see the band going?

JS: I just want to write more music. We’re about to put out the record soon, and I’m already writing new songs. Working at the studio, I see bands that come in with no songs and they’re like, “Okay, now it’s time to write,” and they bust out all these songs. That’s a really cool, productive way of doing it, but I just could never do that. Whenever I have an idea, I have to document it. For me, I would have to say just writing songs and being in the studio, that’s my favorite part. So yeah, just writing more songs and trying to get as many people to hear the band as possible.

For more information, visit owelmAusic.com.