I/O, a five-piece instrumental band hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, released their debut album “Saudade” last February. The album reflects the different angles of the human experience — from the most heartwarming, inspiring sides to the more traumatic, abhorrent ones. We got in touch with them to learn their story, the inspiration behind their music and their plans for the future.
Before we start talking about your music, it would be nice to tell us a little bit about what you guys did before the band.
Nothing too exciting really. Most of us were either going to school or working pretty average jobs.
So how did the five of you end up together?
We all met when we started college in Boston. Tyler and Mackenzie met after a conversation about The Smiths (very 500 Days Of Summer), and decided to start playing together. Tyler was in a class with Chatchon as well, and after a conversation about how good the band Toe is, Chatchon was brought in on drums. It continued like that for a semester, until Mackenzie asked Teddy to try playing with us. Even though Teddy was more of a gypsy jazz player at the time, he fit in perfectly with what we were doing, and we began writing our first album, “Saudade,” that summer. After recording the album, we added our good friend Sean on auxiliary percussion.
Being from different countries, how did that affect your music and harmony?
Our love of the genre is what really brought us together. Music is a universal language, especially when it’s instrumental. Our similar taste in music was really what allowed us to become friends in the first place. As for drawing influence from the traditional music of our different countries of origin, well, that isn’t really happening.
You say that you believe that human experiences are too rich and meaningful to be put into words, could you tell us a little about the experiences that affected your music to come out the way it is.
This is going to sound like a cheesy cop out, but the same experiences as everyone else: relationships, friends, family, nature, happiness, loneliness, isolation, self-doubt, triumph, and saudade—they are all in there. For us, post-rock and ambient music make the listener engage on a whole other level. There are no words telling you what the song is about, or how to feel. The listeners have to take a part of themselves and put it into the song. Whatever the song means to you is what it is about, because at that point the artist’s meaning and intention is no longer important. The meaning is so different between listeners, and even between separate listens, that it has the power to transcend the original context. That is why we write and play post-rock.
A friend of yours featured “Lakehouse” and “Twins” in a short film before. What did that mean to you, and are you looking into making soundtracks in the future ?
It was really powerful seeing how our music could help tell a story and influence the emotion of a film. There is a theater here in Boston that has live film scoring, and we would very much like to do something similar to that. Hopefully, we can get in contact with some filmmakers and get a chance not only to score a film, but also to perform live with it. If any filmmakers reading this are interested in using our music, we would love it if you contacted us.
Sean Camargo was recruited on percussion after the album was recorded. Why did you feel the need to add new instruments to the mix, and what are your plans for his role in the future?
One of our friends asked to record us for a school project, but the requirement was that the band had to have at least five members. Sean has been one of our good friends since the beginning of college. He even assisted the engineer on the night we recorded our album; he got us all pizza and coffee. So he has been around the music for a while. We ended up liking his playing so much that we asked him to join the band afterwards. Sean is a huge asset to us. Not only does he fill the empty space with his percussion and help us with the structures and songwriting, he is also consistently the most rocking/turnt member of our band. He is the guy you watch at the shows, because he is in the back beating the living hell out of his drums.
I’ve read that Teddy is going to Uganda. Is there a special reason behind that, and what will you guys be up to until he returns?
Yeah, Teddy is working as a music therapist for Tunaweza Children’s Centre, a NGO that provides special education and therapy services to children with special needs in Kampala, Uganda. We are all really proud of what he is doing. We can’t wait for him to get back in August though, so that we can pick up where we left off. The rest of us are not doing anything too important: some writing for side projects, going on bike rides, working on school, but mostly just drinking beers and watching the world cup, haha.
So what are your future plans? Any upcoming tours or a possible second album?
So far we have about three songs written for the next album, and a whole bunch of ideas that we need to work through. It may just be that they are new, but these songs have been our favorites we have written so far. We are trying to be more ambitious with this next album, and hopefully we can include some string and horn arrangements, as well as other instrumentation. That album should be out around spring of next year. As far as tours go, we may do some small tours through New England at the end of summer or early in the fall, but our plan is to tour extensively next summer.
We seem to be hearing more instrumental acts coming from the States recently. Did that make it easier or harder to newcomers, such as you, to stand their ground among that scene?
We have had more success internationally than we have domestically. We have our friends and fans here in Boston, but most of our fans are from other places in the world. When we released the album back in February, we contacted a lot of post-rock blogs who were good enough to share our music on their websites. It has been really awesome to have people from different countries reach out to us about the music. For us, it is less of a battle against other post rock bands, and more of a product of being an instrumental band in general. People who listen to post-rock are really receptive, but it is harder to be taken seriously without a singer outside of that circle. We love the scene in America, but it feels like post rock bands are so uncommon, in Boston at least, that it has been hard to get a foothold. Right now we are just trying to cut our teeth and make a name for ourselves the best we can.