Fevers: Celebrating serendipity


Jim Hopkins: “I do consider Fevers, as a band, about a year old now. I don’t think we could have done anything we’ve done without Sarah.”
Photo: Bryan McNally

Meet Fevers, your new favourite – and local! – electropop band, as its members blow out the very first candle on their birthday cake

Moments of serendipity call for celebration, especially if you’re a musician. Everyone knows that getting a band off the ground is a tough enough prospect, but for Ottawa’s Fevers it was the unexpected addition of lead singer Sarah Bradley in the summer of 2011 that truly launched the group’s ambitions. Until that point, singer/songwriter/keyboardist and band co-founder Colin MacDougall had already spent a year trying to sing lyrics made for electro-indie-pop anthems in an uncomfortable falsetto. Bassist, keyboardist, vocalist and co-founder Jim Hopkins was still searching for that elusive missing element in his idealized mix of contemporary electronics à la M83, Cut Copy and more traditional compositions. Nowadays, if truth be told, Fevers’ ambitions are quickly being outdistanced by reality – in a good way. Booked at various high-profile festivals (Juno Fest, Bluesfest, Tulip Fest, FeverFest) and a stream of concerts, Fevers is currently riding a wave of delirium.

“In the first recordings that Jim and I had done, you would have vocal parts with me singing one section and then again in a terribly falsetto voice,” says MacDougall. “I wasn’t trying to sound like a girl, but it was clearly lacking a high feminine touch to it. I do consider Fevers, as a band, about a year old now. I don’t think we could have done anything we’ve done without Sarah.”

“It’s true, the last piece of the puzzle was a year ago, pretty much to this day, when we met Sarah Bradley,” adds Hopkins. “When we were writing the songs, Colin always had this idea of a female vocalist singing with him or in solo. The first time we met Sarah she just started freestyling along to the music, and it just worked perfectly. We’re so happy to have her in the band, she really is that missing piece of the puzzle.”

A mélange of indie rock, electronic and other disparate influences, Fevers’ sound on their October 2011 debut EP, Passion Is Dead, is hard to quantify. While the synthesized riffs and intricate electro sounds are omnipresent, the melodies and chords are deceptively simple. MacDougall and Hopkins chalk up the synthesis to their process of writing, beginning with melodies created on acoustic guitar, before being augmented by electronics. It is an unusual marriage of sensibilities for both musicians.

“It all started after Jim and I met, and we were chatting about music, and he started sending me these 30-second little clips of beats and synth riffs that he was doing on his laptop,” says MacDougall. “It wasn’t even the type of music that I had listened to too much, but I thought, Wow, this is really interesting.’”

“Colin is more a traditional songwriter, and I more work with sounds rather than traditional song structures and progressions,” says Hopkins. “Before I met Colin, I would come up with these loops, but they wouldn’t go anywhere. After we had met and sat down, I guess we put together our two minds, making an electronic sound with traditional structures that finally made sense. When we decided we wanted to take it a step further and play live, however, bringing all of that on stage was pretty difficult. Then through a mutual friend we met our sampler, keyboardist, and all around genius Martin Charbonneau. We had no idea how to reproduce everything live, and Martin pretty much figured out how to do it. Then Colin contacted Mike Stauffer, who was a drummer from one of his old bands, and he immediately worked out. Finally, with the stroke of luck of meeting Sarah, Fevers was complete.”

w/ Sound of Lions
@Babylon (317 Bank)
May 25
8 p.m.; $5


@FeverFest (Old Ottawa South)
June 23