OKIES – Ottawa’s Ice Dragon Boat Performers – Interview


Okies is an Indie Folk 4-piece band from Aylmer, QC. Across the river from the no-nonsense, straight-laced, won’t-crack-a-smile-at-a-dirty-joke Capital of Canada.

Okies is set to play Ottawa’s Ice Dragon Boat Festival on February 5 at The Rainbow Bistro at 8:00 pm.

Listen to “The Waiting Room Blues” below and learn more about Okies via our festival edition mini-interview.

First off, care to introduce yourself to the readers?

We’re Okies (AKA the same guy in four different fonts.) We’re an Indie Folk band based out of Aylmer and Montreal. My name’s Thomas Aguinaga and I play the drums, and then you have Marc-Antoine Moisan on guitar and lead vocals, Phil Goodman on guitar and back-up vocals, and Sam Gendron on keyboard. We’re born and bred in the national capital region on the Quebec side of the river.

Tell us a bit about your newest release.

Our newest release is set for March 3rd, 2023. It’s called “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and it’s a concept album based on lived-experience, about mental illness and finding wellness.

It’s a six song EP, and each song explores a different character and narrative as they navigate their newly discovered illnesses. Some are based on true stories, like “The Waiting Room Blues”, where I had a panic attack in the waiting room of my therapist’s office. Others are more or less fictionalized, but inspired by real people and events. For example, “Workhorse” is a song inspired by a former co-worker’s relentless work ethic at the cost of his physical health. I imagine how the same scenario would have worked out for someone with a mental illness invisible to the naked-eye.

These songs have been three years in the making, and we’re so proud to finally release them.

You’ll be playing at Ottawa’s Ice Dragon Boat Festival in February. Is this your first time performing at the festival?

It is, yes! We’ve heard about Dragon Boat every year since we started our band. It’s an honour to be invited. Honestly, any time you get invited to something like this, you just feel really thankful, and obviously, it’s just nice to be recognized and considered.

What can people expect from your live performance?

We don’t talk much. As corny as it sounds, we prefer to let the music do that. But I think you’ll be able to see 4 guys who are committed to these songs, this group, and this moment. And who most importantly just love playing music together. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been doing it since we were teenagers.

What other band/ artist are you looking forward to checking out at the festival?

Definitely Pony Girl is number one. We’ve been following those guys for years, and they’re just so creative.

I’ve heard great things about The Lionyls. I’ll have to check them out. But that’s what these festivals are for, right? Discovering new music.

And then Stoby too. We played their release party in October and man do those guys know how to put on a show. I’d love to see them again.

Do you have any upcoming shows or festivals you’d like to tell us about?

We can’t talk about that just yet! We do have some shows in the works post EP release, but we’re waiting to finalize those. We’re looking at playing quite a few shows around Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, and then tackling some festivals this summer. We’re really excited for what this year has to offer.

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