Editor’s Note: Proof of full vaccination is required for attending Ohly’s Friday headlining show at The Loving Touch.
For Ohly, Friday’s headlining show is bucket-list worthy.
The Ferndale indie folk rocker will relish performing his growing catalog of vivid, thoughtful tracks with Tom Mihalis (guitar), Matt Jones (keys), Brodie Glaza (drums), Pia Roa (bass, vocals) and Ian Lukas (trombone) at The Loving Touch.
“I’ve been doing music for eight or nine years now, and I started playing at coffee shops when I was 15 or 16. I think this is the first-ever proper headlining show that Ohly has ever done. We’re super excited and trying to invite all of our friends out,” said Christian Ohly, aka Ohly.
As part of Audiotree Presents, Friday’s show will allow Ohly to debut his latest contemplative single, “Steady,” and spotlight songs from his current seven-track EP, Landlines, before a metro Detroit audience.
“There are some songs that I’ve never really played live and definitely haven’t played them live with the ability that we’re at now. I’m really looking forward to playing them with a few years of experience. The more people I have up there, the livelier and more organic it will sound,” Ohly said.
Ohly also will share the stage with three emerging local acts, including Kimball, Jackamo and The Michigan Ordinary.
“These are three bands that I’ve looked up to for years. My childhood friend used to be the bassist for Kimball, so he introduced me to them years ago before I was doing original music. I saw them live a couple of times and being on the same bill as them is pretty surreal,” he said.
“Two years ago, Jackamo opened up for Remnose. I heard their set and had to run up to them right afterward. I was like, ‘You guys took my breath away.’ The Michigan Ordinary’s Steve Davis used to be in a band called The Fragile, and I saw him at the coffee shop I used to play when I was 15 or 16. My brother and I grabbed his CD, and we were like, ‘Wow, how is this guy playing in a little coffee shop?’”
Ahead of Friday’s show, Ohly dropped a stirring new single, “Steady,” Sept. 24 via all streaming platforms. The track openly addresses the monotonous predictability of maintaining a quiet, uneventful existence throughout the pandemic.
Throughout “Steady,” revved electric guitar, pounding drums, crashing cymbals, mellow bass, glistening pedal steel and vibrant harmonies echo Ohly’s lingering dissatisfaction with everyday life and a nagging desire for change.
He reveals, “I am busy most these days/Just as everyone else is/But you have time for what you want/ You know you’ve got time for what you want/But every new year is the same/I make these goals, they slip away/Will I fold into retrograde/Or will I lift my friends up.”
“It’s relatable for a lot of people when COVID started because a lot of people were down, and I was getting lazy in the beginning of the pandemic. I was trying to paint that picture, and I started working from home. It was just a weird time,” Ohly said.
“I haven’t stopped working throughout the whole pandemic and just kind of realized how comfortable my job is. I’m 24 now, and I feel like when people get to this age they talk a lot about how they want to move out west. It’s always a dreamy thought to be out there in the mountains.”
Ohly initially recorded a demo for “Steady” in summer 2020 at home and honed the track’s parts during a full-band livestream show. He added the bridge several months later and completed the final recording with Jones (bass, percussion), Glaza (drums), Sean MacKillop (piano), Roa (vocals) and Pete Ballard (pedal steel) at John Katona’s JK (Not Kidding) Studios this summer.
“It came together pretty quickly for me. I usually take a long time recording songs, but I wanted to get this single out,” said Ohly, who co-produced “Steady” with Katona and Mihalis.
Ohly fans will get a preview of the band’s live sound via a new video for “Steady,” which dropped Oct. 1 via Bird Fight Records. Recorded by Ohly, Roa and Eddie Xia, it features the group performing at JK (Not Kidding) Studios as part of Bird Fight Records’ burgeoning video series.
“It captures every step of the recording process for the song. We recorded it to a click track, so there was a metronome going the whole time. We played bass, guitar and drums all at the same time. It has a live band feel that I’m happy with. It was the first song Pia actually worked on while it was being written,” Ohly said.
Ohly also collaborated with Roa on her dreamy, nostalgic debut single, “Stranger,” which eloquently revisits her thoughts and experiences about living in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. Produced by Ben Collins, Ohly provides haunting background vocals on “Stranger” and directs her latest video.
“Matt Jones started doing demos with Pia, and all she had originally was a slowed down version of the pre-chorus and the chorus. Matt added a new chord progression and said, ‘I think you need a verse.’ Pia sent me that demo and she was like, ‘Here’s a slot for a verse,’” Ohly said.
“We kind of co-wrote the verses over a demo in my basement, and we were working through what she wanted to talk about in the song. She had originally written a chorus, which talks about memories she has in Midtown in ‘Stranger.’”
Outside of his collaborations, Ohly continues to write and record material, including a new full-length album. He’s also playing Nov. 6 at a yet-to-be-announced location and Dec. 1 in Boston.
“I think we will do a couple more singles and then an album. I’m not sure if I want the singles to be on the album, or if I will leave them off. It just depends if the sound fits once all of them are done,” he said.
“The last couple months I’ve become fonder of the songs I’ve been writing on my own. There are a lot of songs on my first two records that I don’t enjoy playing on my own, but I love playing with the band.”
Audiotree Presents Ohly with Kimball, Jackamo and The Michigan Ordinary
7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8
The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale
Tickets: $12 (Proof of full vaccination is required to attend.)
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