Orson Wilds - Breaking Through in a Pandemic

  • Words: Tate Powell
With nearly more band members than fingers, Orson Wilds defies genre stereotypes and Spotify algorithms.


Orson Wilds is a gripping collective of musicians, fronted by Eric Reid and Brianna Bordihn, from Toronto.

During the year they signed a record deal with ‘Black Cement Records’, released their debut singles and laid down the framework for a new album, which we are hoping to hear soon. I chatted with Eric and Brianna back in December about the difficulties they faced, the creative process behind the music as well as how they started out on their first musical journey as a pair.

“Bri and I live together and we were both doing our own projects. We just started working on music together, I would work out music and she would start singing. We found our sounds, our voices worked really well together and our collaboration process worked well together. She’s like the Liam Gallagher to my Noel Gallagher.” Brianna interrupts, “Except we’re not siblings.” Eric finishes. “And we don’t fight all the time.”

Although the main focus seems to be on the two, they reiterate a number of times that they are not in fact a duo. Instead they are a collective; a collective of creatives who are so evidently passionate about what they do. They show their appreciation for all components of their musical process. But it proved to be difficult when it came to recording as a nine-piece.  “The first chunk of the year was very difficult. Everyone was trying to adjust and trying to predict what was going to happen. We weren’t able to play shows, that’s a huge part of why we do what we do. Not being able to continuously play with our band, especially because we’re so big.” says Brianna. Eric laughs, “A band practice for us is like a super spreader event.”

“A band practice for us is like a super spreader event.”

“For this record, we decided that we were going to have a horn section and a string section. We were going for something, I feel, bombastic. The band’s evolving as the days go, right now we’re a nine piece; we have a violinist, a saxophone player and a trumpet player. Everyone sings in the band. And for now, for this record, that's what the line-up is going to be.”

They pair an impressive production with an unlimited abundance of talent, showcasing a range of styles that pack a punch. It’s almost impossible to place Orson Wilds under one category, which they have said themselves. They grip their listener with a mixture of sounds and creative energies, suggesting that they want to break down the barricades of genre. “Before we released anything I was expecting to be on some indie Spotify playlists. If you look at it it's all rock, or pop rock, and I was like ‘oh shit, I never thought of our band as a rock band’. I guess with these two songs we’re currently a rock band. We have other songs that are more orchestral pop, then a couple of songs that are more punk - just fast with more kinetic energy. We've got some sad mopey songs, so maybe we’re a mope rock band,” says Eric. We could be hearing a hard-hitting, rock anthem one minute and a sweet harmony to the backdrop of strings and brass the next.

"Oh shit, I never thought of our band as a rock band."

Their first two singles, ‘Mothers Daughters’ and ‘Stand Up’, received phenomenal support from Spotify and racked up nearly 600,000 streams between the two. Orson Wilds showcase a colourfully melodic performance in both tracks, laced with electricity, dreamy harmonies and a hard-hitting punch. It’s anthemic and packed with layers of emotion, beautifully juxtaposed by its subtle tranquil quality.

“It’s very rare that I have written about one specific experience, it's more like a combination of different things that get filtered through. This is never a story about Joe the fisherman, or something that’s specifically narrative driven, it’s more ambiguous at times. It’s not always the case but these two songs [‘Mothers Daughters’ and ‘Stand Up’] are a bit more conceptual. The hardest thing is when someones like ‘so what are these songs about’ and I'm like ‘I don't know, you tell me’,” explains Eric.

Having been entirely self-sufficient artists previously, Orson Wilds have honed their craft with the help of Will Yip, who they couldn't big up enough throughout the interview. They retell the story of when they first introduced what would be their debuts to the producer: “When we first took the songs to William we saw what a producer does. He made ‘Mothers Daughters’ what it is I feel. It was a cool, collaborative process. He's like the tenth band member.”

“It’s a lot harder to be creative right now. I’ve never had so much time off but been so unproductive. I've still written songs during this and we are still doing stuff but it's like one in every seven days I can muster the mental will to pick up the guitar or play piano. It’s weird. Especially creatively, I don't want to write a song about the pandemic.”

Albeit a tedious year, they have a spring in their step and the potential to really transform the scene with their craft; things can only get better for the Canadian collective from now.

  • Words: Tate Powell
  • Published on 4 Mar 2021