Jasmyn Burke didn’t really like boy bands growing up, but if there is one track that captures the essence of her buzz-worthy Toronto-based quartet Weaves, it would be their cover of “Drag Me Down” by boy band One Direction.
The song was originally intended for a session on the music subscription service Rdio, but the band released it on their own after the company went under. There’s a throbbing, rhythmic pulse to Weaves’ version of the song, which seems a bit creepy when you consider its original audience was intended to be pre-pubescent girls.
The cover was recorded casually by the band over a weekend. The lyrics are sung with a sultry confidence by Burke, who recalls the slinky, raw emotion of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song encapsulates Weaves’ ability to twist their love of pop music to create something weird and fun.
“It was funny performing a song originally done by four heartthrobs,” Burke recalls. “It was an interesting thing to try. Rather than cover a rock band, we wanted to feel like we could cover a pop band and make it sound like Weaves.”
The band started when Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters took the hundreds of voice memos she recorded on her iPhone and turned them into adventurous demos. This process has proven to be fruitful for the two songwriters, but it’s a little scary because Burke doesn’t back up her files.
“I was taking up too much storage with my voice memos,” Burke says. “I had to go through all of them and delete songs that I figured I would never go back to. It was heartbreaking.”
The result is a debut album filled with humorous wordplay, quirky emotions, and sexual longing. One of the standout tracks is called “Shithole,” based on Burke’s coming of age. “I remember turning 15 and thinking life’s not right,” she sings, lyrics that resonate with anyone who felt different growing up, but Burke puts a positive melodic spin on that strong and painful emotion.
“I feel like that sentiment happens to some people, or if you’re alternative, you feel that way,” describes Burke. “I always felt you should question and explore things, so in that way it’s autobiographical.”
All bets are off when Burke and company take the stage. The vocalist, who describes herself as an introvert off-stage, lets her inhibitions fly when she steps up to the mic. She has been known to go out into the audience and stare the crowd down in an effort to get them to move to the music.
“I think part of performing is just connecting with people,” Burke says. “I always remember when I was younger seeing bands. I loved it when they made eye contact with their audience. People feel more involved if you are acknowledging and smiling at them. I try to make people feel like I am trying to reach all of them. It’s a weird balance.”
Weaves is scheduled to perform Friday, August 12, at the Rebel Lounge.