Art, like a relationship, is open to interpretation. Based on our own perspectives and experiences, we see what we want, hear what we feel and take away what we need. Sometimes even the artist doesn’t know the full meaning of something he creates. When Josh Triezenberg, frontman for Observing With Annie, sat down a year ago to write the band’s new single, “Silent Films,” he didn’t have any idea what was coming out.
“When I write songs, I write subconsciously,” he said. “I’m not always thinking about what they mean when I write them. I’m not writing with an intent, not a personal intent I want people to get anyway, but upon reflection I find the relevance in my life.”
“Leah (Lagestee) was trying to figure out what the song means,” he said. “To me it’s the story of somebody going crazy.”
“It’s about knowing what you want in life and how you go about getting it,” Triezenberg said, “and whether you’re going to follow what other people think, their stigmas, or choose to be who you want to be.”
But Lagestee, the band’s bass player and co-songwriter, had a different take on it, one that looks at pulling back the veil on a relationship and seeing the cracks growing underneath.
“I didn’t know what the song was about,” she explained, “and I don’t think he knew what it was about, but now looking at it there’s an underlying tone in it. It’s like a breakup song, but the most uplifting breakup song you’ve ever heard.”
At first listen, “Silent Films” is a light summer groove, launching with its upbeat riffs and bouncy ’80s-inspired motifs. It’s a new sound for Observing With Annie, a south suburban band that cut its teeth on guitar-heavy alternative rock and emotional ballads. And while “Silent Films” meanders away from that, it’s merely a different twist on the same darker undercurrents OWA has explored previously, conjuring up troubled relationships in an intensely personal way.
“And all of your friends say you’re not really sorry,
And all of my friends say it’s time to move on
But you never stop hurting
It takes time to start healing
When you can’t stop the bleeding
I need you to call”
“At its core, ‘Silent Films’ is the celebration of unveiling the truth of human tendencies in a world full of fabricated emotions,” Lagestee explained.
“In my own personal life, going through personal struggles, it doesn’t have to be a romantic breakup,” she said. “It’s the friends you haven’t heard from in a long time that know you’re going through a struggle, and no one calls you. It’s the letting go of a lot of relationship things. I didn’t know what it would mean until we brought the song back up and I could relate to it a whole lot more because of situations going on in my life.”
“It’s kind of like celebrating that,” she added. “It’s a liberating feeling. Just being fed up, peeling back that layer people tend to put over their relationships. Celebrating the fact that OK, we’re taking these relationships in our lives and seeing them for what they truly are.”
“Silent Films” is the first release from the full-length album OWA is working on, due out later this year. Working closely with drummer Jonny Van Til, new guitarist Noah Childs, and Nick Stetina of Invigorate Recording, Triezenberg says it’s setting a new standard for the band’s production levels.
And he says he knows everybody will pull something different away from the song.
“It’s like when you go to a museum and stare at paintings … to get what it’s about,” he said. “But nobody really gets the painting because it means something different to everybody.”
“That’s the secret. There is no true meaning.”
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Hear Observing With Annie perform the song live when they play the Homegrown Arts & Music Festival at BaseCamp Pub in Lisle July 27 and 28.