Interview with OBROA-SKAI (Sled Island 2024)

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OBROA-SKAI at I Love You Coffee Shop on Saturday June 22, 2024.

Edmonton based OBROA-SKAI are a band that don’t like to be defined by a singular genre. Creating high energy no wave, metal, noise and screamo with a live stage presence to match, two of the four band members Amy Lewis (Vocals/Bass) and Cory Lewis (Vocals/Guitar) chatted with CJSW about their performance at Sled Island, past experiences at the festival, and their most recent release “Science Progresses One Funeral at a Time”.

OBROA-SKAI performed at the #1 Legion at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday June 22.

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: Okay. So can you tell me- just give- have a moment to introduce yourself? Tell me who you are and the band?

Amy Lewis: Yeah. So I’m Amy Lewis.

Cory Lewis: I’m Cory Lewis, and we are OBROA-SKAI.

Catalina Berguno: Sorry, could you repeat – I’ve been trying to figure out how to pronounce the band.

Cory Lewis: So I stole it from a novel, so there is no actual pronunciation. We bounce between O-BRAY-A SKAI and O-BRO-A SKAI constantly, so.

Catalina Berguno: O-brea Skai?

Amy Lewis: You can choose whatever you want…

Cory Lewis: Choose your own adventure. Yeah?

Catalina Berguno: Well… I’ll set the ground right now. It’s O-bre- no I’m just kidding-

Amy Lewis: ‘I’m telling you how it’s pronounced’, yeah, O-bra SKAI.

Catalina Berguno: All right, okay and there’s usually four members in the group, right?

Amy Lewis: Yeah, we have four members. We also have Durell Smith. He plays drums, and then, ooh, he’s got like, a fun last name, Chris Djuric. Chris Djuric, and he plays guitar. I play bass, do vocals. I play guitar and do vocals and do noise.

Catalina Berguno: Okay, and you mentioned something about that you pulled the name of the band from, like, a novel or something. Can you please elaborate on that?

Cory Lewis: It was a Star Wars novel. It was the name of a planet. I read it when I was 13, and I was like, that’s a really good name. I’m gonna keep that for projects someday in the future, yeah.

Catalina Berguno: Oh my god, I was researching this band. First thing that came up is it somewhere, something planet related. And I was like, very interesting – good to know that there was a connection there. And also the name of the last album you all released. It’s called, Let me double check, yeah. It’s called, well, “Science Progresses One Funeral at a Time”. Is there also a story behind the title of that album? 

Amy Lewis: Yeah. So I wanted to, like, write a concept album around, like, just like lyrically and for this one, because the album kind of, when we were writing the songs, they came out pretty angry sounding. And I was like, what if I like, write an album about- like each song has a specific topic of like, things I feel like needs to die. So, like, transphobia, colonialism, capitalism, fascism. So I just wanted to, like, create a funeral for all these ideas that I feel like needs to die. So that was the title of the album I chose. It’s based on a quote. It’s like a paraphrased quote from a physicist that essentially is once like the old- like science progresses only once, like the old generation dies, and then the new one takes over. So that’s kind of the unifying concept of the album, is that we need to let the old generation’s ideas die so that we can move on and progress the world. So, yeah.

Catalina Berguno: Oh, that’s very interesting to know. And from what I gathered, the OBROA-SKAI, like, delves a lot into punk and metal, into the metal genre. What drew you guys to this genre, and what’s your relationship with it? 

Amy Lewis: You want to take that? 

Cory Lewis: I mean, yeah, like, I think we, we started as a screamo band, and then it just kind of naturally moved more towards no wave and noise and metal, really. Lots of metal. We try not to box ourselves into one genre as cliche as that is to say.

Amy Lewis: Very cliche, but it’s very true.

Cory Lewis: Yeah, even the the album itself, there’s – the tonal shift between some of those songs is, you know, but, yeah, no that’s. We just – we don’t want to be that one band that is like, oh, that’s the no wave band. That’s the screamo band. It’s like, no. We just kind of do everything. We do what we feel from day to day, really…

Amy Lewis: Yeah, we like to go goblin mode and just make a racket. That’s my favorite thing to do.

Catalina Berguno: Yeah, and I watched some of your guys’ life performances. Seems it’s a lot of energy, a lot of adrenaline. Is there like a routine the band goes through before, just to kind of preserve that energy, keep it throughout the your shows?

Amy Lewis: Um, sorry I, um, yeah, w- well we jam all the time. But usually- so the way that it starts off, Cory does like a little ‘hello, hi’, because we don’t do banter between our songs, and that’s kind of like usually tries to be like a little (towards Cory) you try to put levity in the intro…

Cory Lewis: So I try to get any sort of levity out before our set, because our sets are pretty angry. All the songs are pretty – they touch on upsetting topics. I joke that we always bring the mood down in a room when we play. But basically, because I don’t want to be that band- I want to be that band that once you start, it is – you’re sitting through a movie. It’s – you don’t take a break. It’s 25 minutes full bore. So it’s very much I always joke that it’s I’ll do my nice moment of levity, and, you know, see my thank yous beforehand, and then turn around and take off my glasses, and then it’s like, Clark, it’s…

Amy Lewis: It’s your Superman moment.

Cory Lewis: Yeah, it’s my Superman moment, Clark Kent to Superman. It’s just once those glasses come off, it’s completely different person. I just like, mind empty, lose myself on stage. Essentially.

Amy Lewis: I – as soon as he’s done his piece, I just, I flip, there’s like, a switch that gets flipped. And I just like, I just kind of, I try my best to lose myself into the music. And like, if there’s any mistakes that happen, which with electronics and everything that you’re juggling, there’s always going to be mistakes. So we just kind of like keep going and just try to be intense. But I’m always, I love performing. I’ve always – my favorite artists are the ones who don’t really play their albums, like to a tee when they’re performing live. It’s a – it’s exciting to watch. So that’s what I try to do, is just to be as intense and trying to get the energy of the room up while they’re watching us play.

Catalina Berguno: Yeah, it sounds like you draw a lot of your inspiration, of your lyrics of causes you’re passionate about, and sometimes hear it reflected through music. Is there – I’m not a musician, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Does sometimes – does it have, like, an effect on your vocals afterwards, after performance?

Amy Lewis: Yeah, like, I usually try to warm up really well before. And we’ve, we’ve been screaming in bands for a long time. But sometimes I strain my voice, and I just drink a lot of water and try to rest as best as possible, but I try my best to do it with good technique, and try to do it so that I don’t strain it. But sometimes it happens.

Cory Lewis: It’s kind of nice. It’s due to the nature of the band, and kind of like where everyone in the band is at, where within our lives. We’re not – we’re not really a touring band. We don’t get the opportunity to go and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna take three weeks and play shows back to back to back’. So because of that we kind of have the luxury to go every performance full bore and not worry about, ‘oh, well, I gotta hold back, because I’ll be hoarse all day tomorrow and the next show, I’ll lose my voice’. It’s we kind of just, we can go 100% all the time. So it’s kind of nice like that.

Catalina Berguno: That’s very exciting to hear, especially since your performing Sled Island, and I guess fans can expect 100%…

Amy Lewis: Yeah, no, it’s, it’s gonna be a good one today. I have some plans up my sleeve for performance today. Like, I don’t plan anything, but today I’m like, I’m gonna do something more fun today. So yeah, we’ll see how it goes.

Catalina Berguno: How you performed for Sled Isl- oh, sorry, go ahead…

Cory Lewis: No I was just gonna say this is gonna be our last show for a little bit. So it’s kind of like we wanna, we wanna cap off our 2024, with a bang, so to speak.

Catalina Berguno: Okay, that’s interesting. And have you performed for Sled Island before, before this year? 

Amy Lewis: Yeah, we did it last year. We played at loophole, so a little bit of a smaller venue last year, but that was really fun. And then, yeah, and then we were playing again two years in a row.

Catalina Berguno: Okay, and any peculiar experiences that stand out from previous years performing? Or just attending the events, assuming that you attended other venues, or anything like that?

Amy Lewis: I’ll have to think, (towards Cory) you got one on the go?

Cory Lewis: Oh, I just, I always think about my love-hate relationship with Sled Island, because I love this fest. I love coming to this fest, and I love, like going to all the shows, but it always ends up that I’ll, I’ll see a show on like a poster, and I won’t know any of the artists, and I’ll go, ‘I don’t need to go that one I’ll go to this one instead’. And then three months later, I’ll get into one of those artists really hard, and I’ll look at that poster, and I’d be like, ‘Damn I should have went’.

Amy Lewis: And they played a small venue, and you’re like, ‘dang it, they’re my favorite artists now’, which is awesome, because that shows that Sled is always like, looking for new and upcoming artists. And that’s the most exciting part. I think my favorite Sled, and this happened in 2017? 2018? 2016. We just went to like a punk house for like, the whole day. And it was like, I don’t think it was an official Sled show, but it was like, a bunch of artists who were like, no wave artists and punk artists and like, noise punk. And it was just like, this really cool house, and it was very like, just really cool artists. It was a fun day. I loved that one. We weren’t even performing. We were just there to attend because we love this fest.

Catalina Berguno: It’s funny that you mentioned that you were bummed to attend some, like, not some performances, because I have people like, they’re trying to prioritize, make a list of the artists they’re trying to see, and some of them are like, performing at the same time. So it’s like, ‘ahh man’…

Amy Lewis: It’s the worst. Like, that’s one negative thing about fests is that there’s always going to be that overlap. But, like, I mean, it’s a good problem to have, right?

Catalina Berguno: Yeah, it’s good because, like, you’re, there’s over conception over, like, in the end, you do get to see one of these, at least. 

Amy Lewis: Totally.

Catalina Berguno: And yeah, do you have a lot of experience performing Calgary in general? You mentioned you, like, might have potentially attended a Sled Island show, like in 2017 or something like that? So are you all avid members, attendees of Sled Island?

Amy Lewis: Oh, yeah, yeah, we’ve been to lots of Sleds. 

Cory Lewis: Yeah, I’ve been coming to Sled since 2011 maybe? 2011, 2012, 2013, and then I took a couple years off, came back 2016 and yeah, I’ve been pretty, pretty good every year since. We – I got the opportunity to play in 2016 with my old band, Rayleigh. But yeah, the last two years have been the, really, the only years that I’ve really played and gotten to go besides that one time. 

Amy Lewis: Yeah, like, if it’s not the whole fest, I’m going down for at least a show. So worth the three hour drive from Edmonton, for sure.

Catalina Berguno: And I guess before we wrap up this interview, I wanted to ask if there’s anything you’d like to add or anything you want to touch on?

Amy Lewis: Free Palestine. I’m just really happy to be here. We love Calgary. We love playing to Calgary. I’ve never had a bad show here. Everyone’s awesome. The weather is wonderful this weekend, I am here for it, and I’m excited to play tonight, so that’ll be great. 

Cory Lewis: Yeah, I love this fest. I’m always happy to come down to this fest, and even happier to play it, so yeah.

Catalina Berguno: Thank you so much OBROA-SKAI for sitting down with CJSW, you’re performing tonight, Saturday…

Amy Lewis: At the Legion upstairs at 9:30 p.m.

Catalina Berguno: Awesome. Thank you. 

Amy Lewis: Yeah, thank you.