Interview with Bluffing (Sled Island 2024)

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Bluffing at I Love You Coffee Shop on Wednesday, June 19 2024.

Featuring one out of three band members of Bluffing, songwriter and guitarist Aidan O’Reilly speaks on Bluffing, a band that formed to make what he describes as his “bedroom project,” an accumulation of tracks that took years for O’Reilly to put together . With past experience performing at Sled Island, 2024 will be the first year O’Reilly will perform as Bluffing, showcasing their first and latest album, “People Pleaser”. 

Bluffing is set to perform at Modern Love on Thursday June 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Special thank you to Take Aim Media for organizing the Sled Island 2024 Interviews, and I Love You Coffee Shop for hosting us.


Catalina Berguno: All right. Well, hello Aidan. I know you’re here for Bluffing. Can you just please take a moment to introduce yourself. Tell us about the band and yeah.

Aidan O’Reilly: Sure. Yeah. So my name is Aidan. I play guitar and sing in the band Bluffing from Calgary. I write all the music, but we’re a three piece band. David Lavoie plays drums and Jae Polgar plays bass. It’s kind of my bedroom project, I guess, songs I’ve been working on for a while on my own over the past, like, six years. And then at some point, I showed it to David, and he really liked it and was like, ‘we should make a band out of it’ and Jay was looking for a project to work on, so. They kind of pulled me out of my shell and made it into a band. So yeah.

Catalina Berguno: That’s so awesome.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah.

Catalina Berguno: How did it kind of come together between everyone? Like I know, you mentioned a little bit already, but like . . .

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah, I mean, well, David and I have been playing together for a while. We might talk about it later but we knew each other since high school, kind of like briefly and then when he moved back to Calgary in 2020, we reconnected and we’re like, ‘let’s hang out and make music together.’ So we’ve already been involved in other projects and like, intense together. So we were talking about what music we had kicking around and I was like, ‘I have these other tracks that we could maybe incorporate into Temps.’ And then when we listened to it, he was like, ‘this is awesome but I feel like it’s a different project.’ So he’s like, ‘let’s make a new band.’

Catalina Berguno: Awesome. And you do a lot of the songwriting. Can you tell me what that process looks like?

Aidan O’Reilly: Sure. It’s hard because I feel like it’s changed. When I first started writing these songs I was at a point where I didn’t have any like current musical outlets. Like I was kind of in a lull between bands. I’ve been like in a couple projects, collaborative projects, where I would write music with other people, but never by myself. So I had just moved to Calgary from Montréal. Didn’t have a lot of friends. Or it was like reconnecting with people didn’t have my social network. So I was kind of like a low place and a lot of time on my hands. So I was just trying to funnel that emotional energy, I guess, into music. So that’s how the first chunk of songs got written, just like my experience moving back, how I was feeling. And it was, yeah. I keep a lyrical book and a musical book separate, I guess. I have a little notebook on my phone and when I have lyrical ideas, I just write them down and then I sit down with my guitar and have musical ideas and then start to piece them together. Now that the band’s current, and I’m writing like, at this point, I’m trying to write with more of those in mind together like lyrical and musical together, so . . . but it is kind of mish mashy scraptbook-y, and I just tried to fit ideas together that make sense. Lyrically, it’s all just like, personal experience, like my social and emotional experiences.

Catalina Berguno: Awesome, it sounds like you have your own process going.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah.

Catalina Berguno: So I know this isn’t your first time performing at Sled Island, but it’s the first time Bluffing as a group is performing.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yes.

Catalina Berguno: What’s that like?

Aidan O’Reilly: I really have, with this project, a ‘happy to be here’ mentality. Like I know we’ve all played before, at least David and I have. But I wasn’t sure if this project was . . . like if Sled was going to have interest in this project. So just really excited to be involved, to have been accepted to play and to be able to share this project with people at this festival. So yeah.

Catalina Berguno: And what has been your past experience performing for Sled Island?

Aidan O’Reilly: When I lived in Montréal, I played in a band called Dories. We were all from Calgary but moved out to Montréal, except for Spencer, the drummer. So the first time we played Sled was 2014 with with Dories and then 2015, 2016. And then we took like a break. And then I was in the band laps for a bit from Montreal and we played Sled. Then there was that musical lull because with with the pandemic as well. Then when David and I formed Temps, then we played 2022 and 2023. So, yeah. So a few years under my belt.

Catalina Berguno: So I know Bluffing is your new project, it’s pretty relatively new for what I gathered. What makes you most excited about this project and performing it in front of people?

Aidan O’Reilly: That’s a good question. I guess it’s just exciting because it’s something that’s from me . . . like, not that I wasn’t able to contribute to the other projects I was in, but it’s full kinda fully from my perspective. David and Jae do a really good job of supporting me in that. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. But it’s nice to have this outlet where I can write about my experiences or have a musical outlet that’s just fully my own and that I can bring it to my friends and collaborate with them. So yeah. I hope that makes sense.

Catalina Berguno: It makes total sense. So you’ve gone to Montréal and you’ve performed here. What’s your relationship with the music scene here in Calgary? How does it distinguish itself from other music scenes?

Aidan O’Reilly: That’s a good question. Yeah. I feel like when I first moved to Montréal, the music scene was like . . . it was big, but then there was small pockets within so it was like, ‘where where do you fit?’ Either like make your own little pocket or you try to break into one and breaking into pockets were really hard. But then coming back to Calgary and especially like post COVID lockdown and stuff, I found the music scene here really inviting, like a big sense of community in Calgary. Everyone’s really nice. Everyone really supports each other. Everyone goes to each other’s shows. I feel nothing but just love and friends in the music scene right now. So yeah, I think it’s in a great place. Yeah. And just happy to be involved in that.

Catalina Berguno: Awesome. So . . oh, sorry. Okay. So touching in on that what has been like . . . Do you have any music influences that you kind of incorporated into this project?

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah, definitely. I anticipated that question, tried to think concretely what it is but we say I’m influenced by my background in previous bands, which is kind of like, Canadian post-punk. So I feel like I have that sensibility in this project, the way I write or like, arrange, but musically is way more influenced by like indie rock shoegaze slowcore stuff from like . . . I feel like a lot of it’s from the States or bands that are influenced by those bands, you know? And bands within my circle or were in my circle in Montréal like my friend’s (sp?), to shout them out but they’re definitely a huge influence on me or on this band even though when we were playing together, I wasn’t making that kind of music at the time. It’s like, now post had an influence on me.

Catalina Berguno: So what’s Bluffing in particular . . . How does everyone kind of work together to make the final product of the music that you publish?

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah, I’d say at this point . . . like the first I had these six songs, and I brought it to them as a full chunk and we just worked through how they would make sense in this iteration, but now with new stuff I kind of just send them a demo with rough ideas. And I’m like, ‘drums and bass are really loose.’ It’s just like, give you an idea of like what I was thinking when I wrote my guitar and vocal parts and then we get together and we kind of just jam and and discuss ideas. Yeah, I feel like that what’s awesome about this is they David and Jae understand what I’m going for, they get my vision or whatever so it’s really easy to collaborate with them. They have great ideas and we’re all just like ‘yes, that’s awesome, let’s do it that way, let’s try this, let’s see that.’ So they’re really good at honing me in and and kind of like making the the final product.

Catalina Berguno: That’s great to hear. How has it been so far putting the name of this project out there?

Aidan O’Reilly: It’s been good. I feel like it’s been well received so far. I’m like amazed at people that have connected with it and like it even at this early, early stage. A lot of my longtime friends are really happy for me that I’m doing this and connect with some of the lyrics I’m writing because they could know what they stem from and stuff. But beyond that, even just random people we’ve met at shows really liking the music, that that’s amazing. That feels great.

Catalina Berguno: That’s great to hear.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah.

Catalina Berguno: I’m glad it’s been received pretty well, sounds like you put a lot of yourself into this project.

Aidan O’Reilly: Definitely, yeah.

Catalina Berguno: So thank you so much for meeting with me today.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah.

Catalina Berguno: Is there anything you want to touch on before we wrap up?

Aidan O’Reilly: No, I think yeah, I think that’s all covered. I guess I would just say we’re playing tomorrow, Thursday at 5:30 but I think this won’t come till after the show. But yeah.

Catalina Berguno: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Aidan O’Reilly: Yeah. Thank you.