Executive Sessions: Common Deer with Emilia Ali
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Common Deer formed while its members were still in college, centered around the harmonies of Graham McLaughlin (guitar, violin) and Sheila Hart-Owens (keyboards), with Sheila’s brother Adam Hart-Owens (guitar, cello, synthesizer), along with brothers Liam Farrell (drums) and Connor Farrell (bass). Through numerous sonic experiments and a shared love of stars, the group developed its sound, eventually working with producer Laurence Currie (Wintersleep, Hey Rosetta!) to release the EP I. The record was followed by a second set of five songs, II, recorded with Gus van Go (Arkells, the Stills).
Response to the records in Canada has been tremendous, garnering heavy airplay on CBC Radio 2 and two sessions on the iTunes Strombo Show, which included an Against Me! cover and tweet from Laura Jane Grace. “Wait” made CBC Music’s Top 100 Songs of 2017. “In many ways 2017 was a dark year,” noted CBC Music, “so Common Deer’s uplifting anthem about standing up and choosing a better way was a welcome rally cry.” The Toronto Star said the band’s “bright harmonies and synth hooks [are] reminiscent of stars at their swooniest.”
Music is a balm in anxious, isolated times. In the hands of this powerful Toronto quintet, it’s a vessel for camaraderie, an act of resistance against jaded nihilism. Some artists want to shine a light in the darkness; Common Deer comes with an arsenal of floodlights.
Emilia Ali, who currently attends Berklee College of Music, made waves in fall 2016 with her vocal performance on VALNTN’s international hit, “Can’t Let Go (feat. Emilia Ali).” To date, the track has garnered more than 15 million global streams and 100,000 downloads and equivalents. Shortly afterward, Ali released her Dreamland EP, which debuted at no. 24 on the iTunes Pop Chart and went viral on Spotify.
Watch Common Deer’s music video for “Glass (Redux)”: