Two Bicycles

By Victoria Nguyen

Think back to your favourite story. What made it so great? The nail-biting plot? The swoon-worthy hero?

But what if all the words were removed? Most would say that you would be left with a blank page and no story. For one musician, however, this presents the opportunity to tell a story through another, less tangible medium: music.

Under the pseudonym Teen Daze, Jamison, who declines to make his last name public knowledge, has been recognized for his chill-wave electronic mixes which have garnered viral acclaim within the online indie music world.

In contrast, Two Bicycles is a name that many Teen Daze followers might not immediately recognize. Through the past release of a few EPs under this second moniker, Jamison has explored a vast array of different sounds and kept the project as a source of alternative experimentation.

“I’ve been writing Two Bicycles stuff before I started Teen Daze, actually, but [Two Bicycles has] become more of a side project. It started out with a more folky sound . . . but over time it’s progressed into something a little more spacious and ambient.”

The crafting of stories told through ambient and relatively lyric-free sounds based on nature is a primary characteristic of Jamison’s work. Two Bicycles’s last EP, The Holy Forest, recounts the tale of a forest that was a source of personal inspiration and comfort to Jamison until it was cut down.

In a similar way, Two Bicycles’s most recent LP, The Ocean, is a testament to Jamison’s interest in ambient music and connection to nature. Composed and recorded in his home situated at the base of Mount Cheam in B.C., the LP creates a mesmerizing soundscape which engulfs the listener in an atmospheric space of no words– only sounds.

Despite the lack of lyrics, the music’s message is surprisingly clear. Appropriating the narrative arc of a cinematic story, the tracks tell of spending a day by the ocean. Two Bicycles encourages the listener to go on an emotional journey, which metaphorically compares the ocean to a transformative body, recalling how humans themselves are subject to complex emotional transitions. As the story continues, the shift from major to minor musical keys signifies the transformation of the ocean from warm and welcoming to dark and chaotic.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories,” explains Jamison. “I used to write fiction back in school as a way for me to synthesize thoughts. Every day you’re being bombarded with new information. Through story writing, I was able to take that information and make it accessible . . . so it kind of makes sense that writing has been such a big influence in my musical output. Using story references in my music has been a way for me to take reality and translate it musically.”

Despite his attachment of importance to the concept of stories and his use of narrative plot lines, Jamison is hesitant to label himself as a storyteller, at least in the conventional sense.

“You can always tell if a person is a good storyteller because the ideas are clear. I like to present my concepts more vaguely.”

In that sense, his style can be considered more impressionistic than realistic and can present certain challenges for the listener in terms of musical understanding. Jamison feels that although his music might appeal to a more limited audience, the emotion conveyed through it will still resonate with that audience.

“I try to capture an experience and explore, on a musical level, what it would really feel like to be in that moment . . . and hopefully someone else will be able to connect and meet you at the same level.”

Jamison is performing at Sled Island on June 23 at Emmedia as both Teen Daze and Two Bicycles, and will be introduced by experimental musician Julianna Barwick. For him, it’s an exciting experience which will add another chapter to his musical and personal stories alike.

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