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The PepTides: Enzymatic pop for the pre-apocalypse

By Apartment613 on May 1, 2014



Ottawa’s favourite nine-piece art pop band, The PepTides, is back with new tongue-in-cheek dance moves and songs for a new record called Love Question Mark being released May 3rd at St Alban’s Church.

As we all live and love in complicated times, reading the latest extremes of cynicism and optimism available in the blogosphere, the PepTides are getting on this love train with new hypotheticals about what this enigma called love is all about.

As a love-filled answer to their hate album, “For those who hate human interaction,” the title of the new album Love Question Mark perfectly answers the question of what the collection is all about. For the PepTides, love is a many gendered and vendoured thing.

Songwriter and founding father Claude explains, “The challenge for me was to write love songs to end all love songs, meaning what new twist can I put on them that goes beyond the first person narrative?”

Keyboardist Scott elaborates, “The album is basically looking through the kaleidoscope at love through sound, music and lyrics. We look at it as a consumer product for example in ‘Love for Pay’ and inter-splice it with a bunch of drug names. You’ve also got love as a philosophical and spiritual experience, which is ‘Love will Find You.’ More along the lines of consumerism, you’ve got ‘I Love You Made in China.’ “

The Peptides in concert. Photo from

The Peptides in concert. Photo from


With pop icons in their lyrics, a pop/soul sound and a pop art website, you’d think the PepTides would LOVE the pop art movement, but Claude says it is too nihilistic, “Warhol specifically was trying not to take anything too seriously, making it light and rendering it meaningless. I think maybe the imagery might be warholesque but not the message.”

Instead, they liken themselves closer to the Dadaists who engage in social critique and also create a collage of found objects. Vocalist Olexandra says, “We appropriate sounds and add our own voice to it, so that’s very Dadaist as well. We can go from having very heavy messaging to very silly stuff. Not only is one song a collage, but the whole album of songs is a collage too.”

Their lyrics are often socially critical, not pop-like at all, as the first two lines of their shows give away: “Oblivion Doom. Oblivious Humans.” They attribute this to their need for contrast with traditional pop music.

Olexandra explains that their pop sound is intentional because “Sometimes you want to have the social awareness but then to have music that’s always down, and bogging you down and bringing you down, you’re not always in the mood for that. We always really liked the idea of that whole era of the American dream, where underneath it you have the nuclear crisis and really heavy stuff going on with this candy coating. I really think that reflects as a whole in our music.”

However, the PepTides are clear that they don’t enforce their socially critical tongue-in-cheek lyrics “We very much leave it up to the listener to make their own interpretations as opposed to imposing ours, which is possible because the music is a little more hypothetical. Sometimes we’re more informed by our audience about what exactly our show is about than by what we think we put out there. It’s really amazing to hear the response”, says Scott.

“We have our own narratives, which inform our own personal choices as performers. Each person in the project is going to animate it in a different way and everyone grounds their performance in what they hold on to from the narrative”, explains vocalist DeeDee

The band’s plan is to “First, heighten the audience’s awareness musically and then heighten their awareness socially” says DeeDee. “We’ve come from a very innocent time. Then we look at the world today and how it has changed and all the things that are happening around us and we feel like the world must have ended, the apocalypse must have happened. But we’re not actually there yet.”

Olexandra says, “If the world is going to end then why not just dance?” And thus we have the PepTides’s trademarked pre-apocalyptical dance party!

The PepTides’s involvement in the Ottawa community, be it through musical theatre, photography, vintage clothing, jazz singing, painting, court reporting, translation, etc., suggests that despite the apocalypse looming there is reason to be hopefully, to make your mark and to love those around you. Vocalist Rebecca says, “We all trust each other so much.” And Olexandra echoes, “To be very honest, we are very lucky to have found each other.”

The PepTides love train even reaches out beyond the band to Ottawa as a whole, “I’m getting more and more impressed with the different projects that people are involved with.”, explains Olexandra. “It’s so nice because you go to see a band and you introduce yourself and you talk about what you do and two weeks later you’re going over to their place for a jam session. I like it because it really makes you be responsible for the work you put out there and the attitude you put out there. “

And so, with tongues firmly placed in cheeks, their own or each other’s, the PepTides are excited to have you aboard their love train and together see wherever it takes you. Sure, love is complicated, sure the apocalypse might be looming, but hey if you’re here for each other you can happily dance until the end of love.

This love journey leaves May 3rd at St Alban’s. Please, put me on this crazy train called Love… Question Mark.

St Alban’s Church is at 454 King Edward Ave. Gary Franks opens the show, doors at 7:30. Tickets are $18, $15 in advance.