GET TO KNOW / FEATURES
Formed in 2014, Vancouver based 4 piece Royal Oak have just added to their growing catalogue of tunes with brand new single 'Yearbook' and we had the chance to speak with Brayson on the track and more as part of our Get to Know series...
Introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about the band!
"Hey, we're Royal Oak, an alt-pop band consisting of Austin Ledyard (vox, keys), Brayson Wong (bass, vox), Michael Kragelj (guitar, vox), and Myles Philpott (drums, vox). We're big foodies and even bigger Super Smash Bros fanatics."
How did you meet and when did you start making music together?
"We're actually all childhood friends! Myles, Austin, and I (Brayson) grew up together, and then we met Mike in high school. We started playing music at a very young age, too. I think Myles was the first, picking up drums when he was 8 I believe? We all absolutely loved music but he was the one who kind of pushed us into playing our instruments, which I am very thankful for! As for this iteration of the band, we started in 2015 with our self-titled album and a different guitar player, and then when he left we eventually absorbed Mike by getting him to fill in on a bunch of shows with us haha."
Is there a story or meaning behind the band name?
"Not really, it wasn't super ceremonial. The real truth is that Austin was on the train and the upcoming station was called 'Royal Oak' and he thought that would be a neat name and it stuck. And it's interesting because as I write this out, I realize that that’s very on brand for us to just roll with whatever. So it's kind of funny! That being said, I feel like since we've been together under that name for so long, it really feels definitive of who we are. I couldn't imagine going with anything else."
For anyone who hasn’t heard your music before, how would you sum it up in a sentence?
"One sentence? It's indie, pop-punk, and EDM wrapped up in a delicious pop burrito (with a little R&B sauce on the side)."
Where are you guys from and what’s your favourite thing about it? Do you feel as though your surroundings have inspired your sound in any way?
"We are from Vancouver, BC. Or rather, a little suburb just outside of it called Port Coquitlam. But Vancouver is like a 20 minute drive away so it's not wrong to say? And I guess our favourite thing about Vancouver would be how beautiful it is, we're surrounded by the ocean and the mountains, and it's really easy to take that for granted when you're born and raised here. That and the food. We’ve got Budgies Burritos, Tacofino (more great burritos), and our favourite Indian place called Pizza Town. I don't think we take a whole lot from Vancouver musically. Although a lot of our favourite bands and artists are from here, and Vancouver has such a distinguishable sound, we always seem to find ourselves just outside of that genre."
Who are your biggest inspirations, musically? "This is such a loaded question because we all have very diverse influences haha. This goes back to our musical burrito, I'm very into emo, alternative, and lately, country. Myles listens to strictly EDM these days, Austin is all over the board, and Mike is a Ye stan. But I guess if we had to nail down some artists, Honne would be a big one? Although we don't sound anything like them, they tend to inspire us a lot lyrically, and production-wise. Kacey Musgraves and Paramore are top contenders too."
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
"Wow. Jon Bellion? It's just like, everything he touches turns to gold. And we absolutely love his production style. I guess he's another huge inspiration."
You’ve just released your new single ‘Yearbook’! How has the reaction been so far? "Phenomenal. We've never had listeners like this before, and I guess it helps when you have a clear vision. We're getting comments and messages from Brazil and France and it's super cool, it seems like people are really connecting with these songs, and I'm so excited to roll out the rest of the album!"
Tell us a little about it!
"'Yearbook' was a doozy to write. I came up with the melody and chord progression in a dream and immediately woke up and wrote basically a whole instrumental track, which never happens, we're usually very collaborative in song writing. But since I came up with the bulk of it, it leaned heavily in my influence, so we had to kind of push it the other way to really make it a Royal Oak song. And I think it greatly benefited from that. It's become one of our favourite songs, if not our number one. The chords felt so nostalgic, we knew we wanted to dive into that vibe lyrically. And we really kind of struggled with it at first. I think we were going too far into our past, but when we landed on memories from our teenage years, it all just kind of fell out of us. It centres around those friends you had in high school that you were so close with and who definitely shaped who you are but then eventually lost touch with."
Do you have a favourite part or lyric from the track?
"Absolutely. We have a very niche lyric in there specifically meant for our friends. "Do you remember back in the summer when we almost got caught, J-turn in the drop top." On the outside, this means almost nothing, but it's such an important lyric to us because it's about this game we used to play just after we graduated high school with our group of friends. We called it J-turn and it was basically Hide & Go Seek around the city in our cars. We would usually start around 11 pm and end around 4-5 am, and it was probably dangerous but we were stupid kids having fun. In fact it was dangerous, the reason we called it J-turn is because we were speeding around the shipping bay of a hardware store and I told Austin to pull a J-turn so we could get out of there faster than our friends and he hopped a curb and popped his tire haha. But it's such an important lyric to us because it was such a good memory that we share with our high school friends, a lot of which we don't see very often anymore. And it was really cool when they listened to the song for the first time and heard that lyric and they would shoot us a message like "no way!". That and the sax solo that Chris Wong sent us from across the country. We love that part."
What’s coming next for you guys?
"An album. Eventually. We're dropping singles every couple of months, we didn't realize when we recorded this album how many great songs are on there, we feel like most of them really deserve the single treatment. So that's just what we're going to do. Next one drops late April, it's kind of steamy, we've never done anything like it. I'm very excited!"
The Lowdown is an online blog & print entertainment platform for music discovery featuring the very best in both established and upcoming talent. Find the latest news, reviews, interviews with your favourite artists and grab tickets to upcoming gigs & tours.