Artist in Profile


1. Who are you?

Ox (Personally, Mark Browning, the singer and guitar player.)

2. What do you do?

I'd say stoner indie lo-fi is reflective of what we sound like as a band. We came from an alt-country or Americana—as they're fond of saying in the UK where we tour a lot—background but I think we've really shed a lot of that. We used to do shows with bands like Great Lake Swimmers, Sunparlour Players and United Steel Workers of Montreal, but now we're more comfortable with Julie Doiron or Magnolia Electric Company who we've also performed with more recently.

3. Where can someone find you?

We started off in Vancouver but have recently moved to Sudbury. I'm really happy for the move—as much as I loved Vancouver, I've been able to start some pretty cool things in Sudbury that I never could have done in Vancouver. We started our own recording studio, a vintage guitar store, and a vinyl-only record store called Cosmic Dave's. It's a cool town with a great music community—lots of great bands and fans, and it's close enough to places in Ontario and Quebec for us to be able to easily do quick tours.

4. Where do you live and work and why?

See above...

5. When did you start making music together?

Ox started in 2003 pretty much as just me. It started in the studio whilst making the first album, . Since then there have been a number of different members but the current lineup has been together for the past four years. We've done two UK tours together, a short US tour, and two Canadian tours.

6. How would you describe your music?

We've been approaching the gigs on our current (UK) tour like abtract art- in which each set is its own single piece of music. We try not to rehearse too much so that a large portion of the sound is subject to our state of minds on the night. I like to think of a live performance as one of those Tibetan sand paintings- entirely in the moment and gone as soon as its witnessed.

7. What inspires you?

I'm more into music than I've ever been before, probably because we took two years away from Ox while I opened the record store. From that, I also was asked to be the music director for CKLU, the college radio station in Sudbury, and so I've really exposed myself to tons of great new music over the past two years. I believe there's never been greater music coming out of this country than there has been over the past three years or so. Apart from music though, I've always been into film. I love PT Anderson's movies— was running constantly on videotape while we recorded our first album. I love Wes Anderson's stuff as well, and Spike Jonze. I like movies that turn things upside down a little. I'm also really involved with my community and do projects in my neighbourhood—community gardens, graffiti projects, all ages shows, etc. I'm fascinated by history and politics. I think we're living in the most interesting period of human history at the moment—for better and worse.

8. What's the nicest things someone has said you to after a show?

Probably, “Do you want to smoke a joint?” Not sure if you can print that but it's a fact. In all honestly, I don’t really care too much about what people say in terms of “You guys were great” etc. We always know when we had a good play—and in particular when we didn’t. There's a real focus on performance when most bands play—I just don’t look at it that way. I've always tried to play like nobody else is listening- to try and give an absolutely spontaneous and un-self-conscious show. When someone says something afterwards that reflects that approach I know they get it, and that always feels good.

9. What's the worst thing someone has said to you after a show?

I hate hearing we were “Great” when I know we really weren't. I know my impression of a show is highly subjective and that someone in the audience could easily not notice when we're not playing well. Basically, what I consider a bad show could be one in which we didn’t make a single mistake—but just weren't present. A set should be transforming—I think every time the band plays we should move forward, and redefine what we are doing with our sound. When we don’t do that I feel like we were lame.

10. What are your current obsessions?

I just got married—right now, its my wife. She makes me cupcakes. She also taught me how to be vegetarian, which I love her for. I'd never thought about what I ate as deeply as she taught me to do and its been an amazing, enlightening, and transcendental change. I feel like with every meal I can reaffirm how I see the world, how to change the world, and what I believe in. What we put in our bodies is empowering on multiple levels and that shift has made me feel a great balance.

11. When someone says "Kingston" you think...

A few things actually. I'd always considered it a music hotbed because it's where the Tragically Hip came from, and then Sarah Harmer, even though I'm not big fans of either in particular. Probably hockey too...

12. What are you currently working on?

Ox has just started working on a new album and the first in our own studio. I'm pretty excited to get to that once this tour is done. We'll be playing a lot of these new songs at the Kingston show.

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