Old school, new tricks

Ricardo Lopez's Oldfolks home brings new sounds from Montreal and Winnipeg to Halifax.

Young Oldfolks Ricardo Lopez makes a burbling sound under shimmering, crunchy guitar.

Ricardo Lopez seems to like technology. You'd at least think so checking out his first album under the alias Oldfolks Home.

Knowing he's the sole performer, composer and recording engineer on Oldfolks Home's We Are the Feeding Line, you've got to marvel at his craft. Full of skittering beats and strange sounds burbling beneath his sometimes shimmering and other times crunchy guitar, Lopez works in a melting pot of sounds. "Out the Seams Pt. 2" sounds like Broken Social Scene auditioning to be a synth-pop band with an identity crisis, "Whole Wheat Flour" breezes by with a gentle folk flavour, and album closer "Let's Go Out to Vegas" brims with punkish energy.

That a home-recorded album like this can sound so pro isn't surprising given Lopez's background. At 18, the native Winnipegger moved to Montreal to attend Recording Arts Canada, where he learned about studio recording. Taking these skills into the bedroom, Lopez was able to nurture his talents at his own pace.

"You can take as much time as you want because you're not paying for studio time. You have the freedom to try anything you want," he says.

Through experimentation and practice, Lopez was able to get comfortable with home recording. After four years spent tinkering with songs he hadn't initially intended for the public, Lopez suddenly had an album on his hands, which he released himself late last year.

Recorded both in Montreal and his current home base of Winnipeg, Lopez says We Are the Feeding Lineis reflective of the environments it was recorded in. "When I was in Montreal I was young, so I went out every night with my roommates and friends. We'd do lots of dancing and drinking, listened to lots of music," he says, adding most of the album's upbeat material comes from that time. The sleepier vibe of Winnipeg is reflected in "Whole Wheat Flour" and "Letter to Kerri," a song inspired by his then-friend, now-wife Kerri-Lynn, whom Lopez met when he returned to Winnipeg two year ago.

The Winnipeg scene has a decidedly different make-up than Montreal. While Lopez is soaking up that prairie vibe with some of his newer material, he stills aims to keep the up-tempo, vibrant side of his music healthy.

"I think at my core I'm still pretty electro and a little more upbeat. I think in general the music may not sound the same but it'll still have an upbeat pace. Living in Winnipeg has already had an influence, even on the electronic stuff I've been working on for a possible new album."

The solitary nature of his recorded output extends to his live performance, where he plays to programmed backing tracks. While Lopez has had some experience playing saxophone in bands, he's been a bit hesitant about having other musicians help recreate his bedroom sounds. "I always got really frustrated with people who took a little longer to learn the parts that I already knew---which is kind of my folly as well in finding musicians to play with," he says.

As fun as he finds playing on his own, Lopez is now making moves to play with others, and has started jamming with musicians in Winnipeg. "Doing the solo thing was just a way for me to hammer out my ideas and really get a solid fix on what I want to do musically. But now I know which direction I want to go, and know I can find people around me to work with," he says.

While this is his first time in Halifax, he's already got some significant connections to the city. Rebekah Higgs---whose voice blew him away the first time he heard it on MySpace---sings with him on "I Hate Dell," and her Ruby and the Thoughtful Bees partner Colin Crowell mastered the album. He's also curious to experience the city that gave birth to comedy troupe Picnicface.

"Maybe I'll message them somehow and get them to come to the show. I'd like to say thank you for the many laughs they've given me while on tour."

If you're a member of Picnicface, consider yourself guest-listed.

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