KÄSE recently appeared in an Ottawa show alongside Blve Hills and Lost Cousins at the Rainbow Bistro. Photo: Savannah Awde.
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U of O students stay authentic with first EP, look forward to future tour

Three University of Ottawa students released a five-track EP titled Loudness: Live off the Floor on April 27, just in KÄSE you need some new bangers to add to your summer playlist.

KÄSE is a three-piece jazz-fusion rock band, but Cam Buie, fourth-year piano performance student at the U of O and the group’s pianist, says that he would describe their sound as being more like “punk rock for sissies,” quoting alt-rock band Ben Folds Five, one of his biggest influences.

The band also features third-year psychology and music student Ryan Vermeer on drums, and fourth-year communications student Chris Madronich on distorted bass.

Vermeer describes KÄSE as a high-energy band, something he thinks is especially impressive considering two of the band’s members are seated during their shows.

As the EP title suggests, the trio’s focus in the recording studio was keeping their final product as dressed down as possible.

“We did it totally live off the floor,” Buie says. “We recorded it in one night.”

Buie says that, alternatively, a lot of bands that he’s worked with record each instrument separately and then use digital overlaying to create one final piece.

“It’s like there’s nothing to focus on as the music’s going by because you’re trying to listen for something that’s almost human,” he says, describing the digitized nature of these recordings. “It’s not relatable, so we wanted to do something that was live.”

With these experiences in mind, he says that their new release aims to avoid “sounding too perfect.”

Everything in the EP is just what it is, mistakes and all,” says Vermeer.

Although KÄSE had these expectations for their work going in, it was still very much a learning experience for the young jazz-fusion rockers.

“The first couple takes we did were kind of finding our bearings because we weren’t like right beside each other… (we were) only listening to each other through the headphones,” says Buie.

“It’s different than playing live, and we’re very much a live band where we have a live dynamic and feed off of each other. It’s really hard to do that in a studio setting.”

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With an EP checked off the list, what comes next for KÄSE? Vermeer says it’s all about doing everything they can to build a larger fan base, and says the band hopes to achieve that by playing more shows in the Ottawa area and beyond.

“The more we can play together the better we can decide and define what our sound will be like, and how we function consistently as a band,” says Vermeer.

Buie says that the trio has gained great friends and fans by playing in Ottawa, including the members of Ottawa-based Blve Hills and the rising indie rockers of Lost Cousins. KÄSE hopes to expand their reach further, namely to places like Toronto and Kingston, according to Buie.

While Buie and Vermeer agreed that it can be tough staying on top of school while maintaining a career in music, Vermeer’s advice to aspiring student-musicians is to keep practicing and writing songs—and to do it as much as possible.

“Not all of them will stick, and plenty of them will be just awful, but it helps with the practicing and writing, and you never know what will come out of it.”

You can check out Loudness: Live off the Floor here, and find more updates on KÄSE here.