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Fleece is the Future of Indie Rock 

The Montréal collective talks getting by and having fun in a freelance economy.

by Noémie Attia

Photo by Dylan Mitro

Fleece are the quintessential Montreal band: Queer, jazz-savvy, working multiple jobs, and extremely stylish, while bringing a fresh twist to indie rock. Before they make their rounds on the festival circuit this summer — which includes a stop in Victoria, BC at the Phillips Backyard TILT Festival on July 8 — RANGE caught up with Fleece at the airport en route to Milwaukee SummerFest, represented by their lead singer and keyboardist Matt Rogers.

Rogers, Megan Ennenberg, Jameson Daniels and Ethan Soil are first and foremost a tight-knit group of friends. They met at Concordia, where some of them were not initially destined for a music career. “It kinda started off as a just-for-fun project,” says Rogers, who studied communications and computer science. “We realized we all love each other; it felt like a family and that has become this beautiful thing that’s part of our lives.”

The members of Fleece resemble any person in their late-twenties living in a collapsing economy. “We live off our music for the most part, but we all have side gigs,” says Rogers. “I edit this podcast that just came out called Resurrection. It’s a beautiful podcast mini-series. Jamo sets up guitars, Ethan is a personal assistant for someone in another band and Megan also does music stuff on the side. So we’re all very busy people. I think we all like being busy.” With other side skills including filmmaking and circus performance, the group does seem to have talent in everything.

On top of making music and working freelance jobs, the four put great effort into the material surrounding their art. “We do so much work on the music videos,” says Rogers. “We do pretty much all the costume designing, and we’re pretty much the producers on set. And I think that might be the last time we’re gonna be producers, because we’ve always got this DIY energy to us and we love doing as much as we can… but maybe… we need to return back to the music.”

Their new, self-produced video for “Do You Wanna Party,” directed and conceptualized by Dylan Mitro, is an homage to 70s disco. Shot in a style reminiscent of Xavier Dolan, who has the same tendency to multitask on set, the video features Ennenberg, Fleece’s second singer and guitarist, spinning in a Cyr wheel. “I loved just putting that at the end,” Rogers remarks delightedly. “Like ‘Oh yeah by the way, you already knew Megan is super slay, but did you know that she’s also a circus performer? Surprise!’”

Fleece’s strength lies in embracing and loving each member’s specificity, which makes for a diverse yet cohesive whole. “Jamo (Daniels) is really into hip-hop, he’s really into R&B. Ethan is really into jazz, experimental, ambient stuff. Megan is really into folk. I’m kind of into everything under that umbrella,” says Rogers. According to him, the band’s unique sound lives “somewhere between jazz, rock, and indie.” 

Fleece’s guitars flow like raindrops on a spring leaf, while the jazzysometimes funky bass and drums make the party happen. Complemented by Rogers’ unique, metallic voice and Ennenberg’s ethereal singing, Fleece sounds like an odd dream, one where we’d like to dance forever. “We definitely have our own special thing going on,” says Rogers. “And I think that has a lot to do with our differences and that our music tastes are coming together, especially when we’re improvise-jamming and writing songs.” 

As per jazz tradition, improvisation is an important part of the band’s composing process and live performances. “Every show feels really special because of that, and I love our willingness to be in the moment and see what happens when we’re being ourselves,” says Rogers, whose stage costumes are androgynous and colourful to match his bandmates. 

On social media, Fleece describes their style as “gay rock music,” a humorous phrase that nonetheless seems to encompass their artistic sensibility. “I feel like gay rock is just being cheesy, campy and fun,” says Rogers, who clearly demonstrates this in the whimsical music video for “Losing Time,” in which he impersonates a magical cowboy making the world gayer.

Aside from their  scripted content, Fleece has a silly, playful internet presence. Their short jokes and vlogs are those of a friend group having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. However, the band realizes social media can affect their creativity. “Sometimes it’s just really distracting,” says Rogers. “So right now we’re like ‘It’s fun to release the funny videos,’ but we’re all like ‘Let’s bring it back to music a little bit and focus.’”

Indeed, the band will be recording their next album this summer in Vancouver. “I’m so excited for people to hear it,” says Rogers. “I feel like every band says this when they’re releasing new stuff but I do think it’s our best stuff yet.” To give an idea of Fleece’s mindset regarding future releases, Rogers says, “We’re naturally starting to move into a more warm, psychedelic, happy, but also emotional kind of sound, almost cinematic.” Fleece knows where they’re going, and we cannot wait to witness their future.