Making Funny Sounds with Me and Jessie Stein of The Luyas


Canada has produced many indie greats like the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.  The Luyas are next on that list. Hailing from Montreal, the Luyas are a four (sometimes five thanks to violinist Sarah) piece ensemble of Jessie (vocals), Pietro (french horn), Mathieu (organ) and Steffy (drums). The Luyas have a melodious resonance that is chill, smooth and effortless. Jessie Stein’s vocals add to the serenity of the their music and as I talked with her on the phone, she made me feel just as relaxed and comfortable as The Luyas music does.

Jessie began by asking me a question which was an awesome way to help break the ice. We got into a conversation with what we do professionally and educationally. And after both discovering that our main jobs have nothing to do with our actual desired career, we began discussing music and such…

Me: So how did you and the rest of the band meet?

Jessie: We’ve all been playing in Canadian bands for a long time. Canada is pretty small country, community wise. A bunch of those guys met in school and I used to play in a rock band those guys used to come see our shows. And I would go see their shows. So just like, met in the community. There’s no Cinderella story to our meeting…It was a pretty organic formation.

Me: Well what other band did you play for?

Jessie: I’ve played in a bunch of tiny Canadian indie rock bands. It was really fun. I was a teenager. And those guys played in a bunch of other bands too.

Jessie: But yeah, everybody’s played in a bunch of bands. And we’ve all met a bunch of times. And we’ve been playing music together for about four and a half years now, actually coming up on five years.

Me: Oh wow!

Jessie: Yeah, we’re like married. Haha

Me: Is this your favorite band you’ve played for so far?

Jessie: Yeah! Its totally the most natural, committed musical relationship I’ve ever had. Its totally awesome. Those guys are like really amazing players and real awesome people. They’re like my best friends so its like real easy to be in this band. Which is kinda what you want out of anything so intense, ya know?

Me: Yeah, oh yeah. How is it being the only girl in the band, besides Sarah?

Jessie: How’s it being one of two girls in the band? Haha. I mean Sarah only plays with us sometimes. I like it when Sarah is there. We’re not like a particularly gendered band. I’ve been in bands where its more of a dude versus girls dynamic. But this band is like not,  ya know? There are members of the band that are more feminine than others. Its not like anything, I don’t think about it. I don’t feel like the only girl in the band. We’re just friends. They’re not very dude-ly guys. And we’re all just really cool pals. Its really natural.

Me: Haha. There hasn’t been any romances with you and the other guys?

Jessie: No…haha no, not at all. We’re just all really good friends.

Me: Well that’s good! Because I was just like “huh, maybe a little Fleetwood Mac-ness going on.”

Me and Jessie: hahahahahahah!

Jessie: Oh no, its not like that. In some bands you totally have a really gendered dynamic like “Oh yeah I struggle because…” There’s not very many interesting gender questions for our band. Because we’ve all known each other for so long, none of us sleep with each other…We’re just all musicians comfortable with our lives and our sexual identities and our gender identities. The band dynamic is really easy. hahah

Me: That must make it easy to like flow together and work together in studios and stuff, huh?

Jessie: I guess, yeah! Its this sort of thing that we take for granted. We just get along, its really simple. We get along really well, ya know?

Me: Yeah…

Jessie: So that totally helps creativity because you don’t have to think about anything except for making stuff. But because you don’t think about it, it doesn’t seem important ya know? Hahah.

Me: Yeah, haha. Well who would you say are you guys’ biggest influence?

Jessie: I mean we like a lot of different kinds of music. We listen to a bunch of different stuff. We’re not like specifically influenced by any music or artist. We kinda just make most of our music by accident by just playing together and seeing what happens…The only band I think we really sound like is ourselves. And I know that’s something that everybody feels probably. But I’m among those that really feels that way hahah. It really all comes from each of our playing styles and how they mix. So I feel like we’re more influenced by each other than any particular artist. Although we totally love other artists a lot.

Me: Well because I notice with some bands you can clearly hear the presence of other bands. But I never really  got that from you guys. So that’s why I was just wondering, ya know, if there were any bands you kinda took anything from…

Jessie: Not consciously. Like we’ve been playing together for a really long time. We just had to get used to making music together and kinda just each of us just going off of our own intuition. It kinda tends to make a certain sound. And we listen to rock music and jazz, and old music and new music. Like every genre you could walk through at the closing down record store, we listen to all of it.

Me: Haha

Jessie: Haha. We don’t really compose in particular styles. We kinda just see what happens and put distorted French horn over all of it.

Me: Haha, nice!

Jessie: Haha. What else you got?! Hit me with something!

Me: Ok! Well what new bands that are out now do you guys really like?

Jessie: There’s this really awesome singer/songwriter from Toronto. His name is Ryan Driver. He put out a really beautiful record last year called “Feeler of Pure Joy” and its so beautiful and so cool. Its weird and wild and awesome. I really like his music…I think that Bradford Cox is pretty amazing. Oh and there’s this guy called David Moore, who lives in New York. And he’s in this band called Bing and Ruth that’s kind of new music. Like piano composition with really crazy, really minimalist beautiful arrangements for voice. And a twelve piece band going. I’m not really super up on the brand newest bands. But all the local bands in Montreal that are my friends are in are good. I sure have a lot of fun at their shows, hahaha.

Me: Haha. Do you ever get on stage and jam with them at their shows?

Jessie: Oh no, I wouldn’t impose like that. I haven’t been known to do that very often. I feel like that would be kinda rude. I cant get up there and know that I’m gonna improve something. I’d probably just look like a drunken a**hole. Haha.

Me: Haha! Which would still be entertaining.

Jessie: Yeah maybe for the people laughing at me!

Me: Well what musician would you want to collaborate with?

Jessie: I love collaborating with other kinds of artists. Like I love collaborating with dancers, or visual artists. I love bringing multimedia into things. But in terms of musicians…gosh I don’t know! There’s just so many musicians I want to collaborate with everyone!

Me: Aww. Well where did you guys come up with your band name?

Jessie: I was walking in the park one day. I wanted to come up with a name that didn’t mean anything. And I was trying to make up sounds that I thought sounded cool. Haha.

Me: Haha!

Jessie: I like our band name.

Me: I know I like it too! I just couldn’t figure out if it meant something in another language haha

Jessie: It means us, it means our band. Haha.

Me: So I know you guys are always in Canada and New York, but have you ever come to the West Coast of the Americas?

Jessie: Not yet, we want to though. We will pretty soon. Our record is gonna come out early next year…As soon as next year starts we should be touring a lot. And hopefully hitting up the west coast as soon as possible. Because the weathers really nice out there. Are you in California?

Me: Yeah! I’m in sunny Orange County right now!

Jessie: Oh yeah?! I’ve heard of it. We’ll come visit you.

Me: Oh yay! I take you guys to the beach.

Jessie: We’re gonna miss our show because we’re gonna be at the beach.

Me: That’s ok, I’m sure everyone will understand.

Jessie: Our priorities will be right, we got our heads on right.

Me: Haha yeah you do! Well I think that’s about all the questions I got for you for now.

Jessie: Well thanks!

Me: I wanna do a follow up with you guys, talk about your tour and stuff.

Jessie: Oh of course, totally! Just give us a call.

Me: Well thank you!

Jessie: Yeah totally man! Thanks and have a good one.

Amongst all the laughs and random tangents, Jessie showed a true love for her bandmates and what they create. But really, who could blame her? Their music is, as she would put it, “totally awesome.” Dates for their next tour aren’t set yet, but be sure to gander at the band’s MYSPACE for updates, blog posts and song uploads.