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John Wlaysewski and Olive Hui of Late Cambrian

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John Wlaysewski and Olive Hui from the Brooklyn-based duo Late Cambrian join Music Journeys. We chat about how they met, the band's Future Snacks release, and John's former band Flying Machines.

Sydney Sweeney closes out Late Cambrian's 8-track Future Snacks release, but there's no end in sight given what music means to the duo behind the band John Wlaysewski and Olive Hui.

Sydney Sweeney plays...

Sydney Sweeney closes out Late Cambrian's 8-track Future Snacks release, but there's no end in sight given what music means to the duo behind the band John Wlaysewski and Olive Hui.

"I communicate best what I have to say to the world through music," Wlaysewski added. "My mind can be all over the place, but writing a song makes you focus your thoughts. I feel like the way I experience the world comes out best through music."

"I remember watching TV and movies covering my ears as a kid," Hui recalled. "Without sound and the music, it's a completely different story. In my head, I thought sound is super important. If you want to set the mood and tell stories, you start from there. Just one note gets you into the mood, and I thought that has some kind of magic to it."

Dybil plays...

Olive grew up in Hong Kong. She started learning piano at the age of six, but it felt like homework or a household chore.

"Until I found out there's a very strange sensation when I only play the black keys, and I started to write songs on my own with only the black keys," Hui said. "It takes me into another world. I think that creating with vibrations was very exciting at a young age."

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John was born in an orphanage in Vietnam and came to the U.S. at 6 months old and raised in Queens, New York. When his sister seemed uninterested with the guitar she received as a gift, he gravitated to it.

"I ended up buying it from her and getting guitar lessons," Wlaysewski said. "When I got a guitar, it changed everything. That became my obsession."

Wlaysewski formed Late Cambrian after his band Flying Machines dissolved.

On A Whim plays...

"I had all these songs that didn't make it into that band because I was the guitar player and occasional songwriter but not the singer," Wlaysewski said. "I went into the studio to record a new record that turned out to be the first Late Cambrian record but at the time was just a solo record. Then Olive and I met while playing patients on the show Nurse Jackie."

Nurse Jackie Main Title plays...

"If you watch the show, you can actually locate us," Hui said.

"When we met, we were in full gowns with our butts sticking out," Wlaysewski continued. "Then Olive accompanied me to the studio, and I said why don't you sing on something because at the time it was just me and a drummer. So the first record is me writing everything and playing bass and guitar, another drummer, and Olive singing background vocals."

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Late Cambrian went through some lineup and sound changes, but the duo feels like the 8-track Future Snacks release is their favorite material.

The Last Wave plays...

"Future Snacks as a whole is existential, melodic rock," Wlaysewski said. "Lyrically it did spring from the pandemic and the weird feeling of life suddenly becoming a TV show. Even the first song The Last Wave, it's inspiring but also a metaphor for sucking all the marrow out of life before it's over rather than going to the beach.

"There's one line in The Last Wave that people like - we all have problems, but the ocean don't care," Hui said.

"That's kind of the hypothesis for the whole record," Wlaysewski added.

The Last Wave continues...

"In the beginning, I was voting for Future Snacks to not be on the record," Hui admitted. "But at that point, it was still very early and acoustic. Something about it, I just didn't like. But when we practiced with a full band, it became my most favorite song to play."

Future Snacks plays...

"There's a part of the song that feels so free," Hui continued. "At a live show, everyone sings along so now it's become my favorite to play."

Come To Bed plays...

"I feel like that one pulled off what I wanted to," Wlaysewski said of Come To Bed. "The mood of it feels all-encompassing.

Homely Rea plays...

"That's my first story-telling song," Wlaysewski said of Homely Rea. "A girl kept out of school and all the neighbors are upset. I was inspired by the movie Malignant, where a woman has a demon living in the back of her head. I like the idea of people not knowing what's going on and some weird horror/sci-fi thing happening."

"Sometimes we open with Homely Rea, and we can see the audience really trying to figure out where the story is going," Hui added.

"Rea was born with a weird-shaped head is a strange lyric to open a song with," Wlaysewski said with a laugh. "I hoped it would peak people's interest and they would follow along."

It's Always Something plays...

"In life we always say, it's always something," Hui said. "We filmed a music video around Brooklyn, and it became the theme song for the friendship of our community in Brooklyn."

"I wanted that phrase to have a positive and negative connotation," Wlaysewski continued. "One is that it's always something good and when we're together it's always interesting."

The band has been playing primarily in New York but hopes to tour more around the country.

"Every time we look in the audience, we see friends and family." Hui said. "I just look and think that we're never alone. All the shows we do, it's to let people know that we're here to celebrate life together."

Video Games plays...

Wlaysewski also reflected on Flying Machines and the band's 2009 self-titled release.

"It was a good time, and we were very creative together," Wlaysewski said. "The singer for that band also played bass until we got a bass player so he could dance around. That didn't exactly go the way we thought it would. We were a trio called The Attorneys before Flying Machines. Some of the same songs are on a record by The Attorneys called Stereocracy. We ended up getting signed to a management company, retooled the songs, and renamed the band. It came out really good. On A Whim won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and we got three days in a studio with a producer of our choice so that's how we finished the record. The last three songs we recorded for free with Mickey Petralia, who did Beck's Midnite Vultures and all the Flight of the Conchords records. I'm proud of the Flying Machines record, but it also didn't resonate when it came out. I wish more people heard it."

Patterns plays...

Before Flying Machines played the 2010 SXSW, Flying Machines performed in Columbus. A personal favorite for Wlaysewski from Flying Machines is I Don't Remember Why.

I Don't Remember Why plays...

Find more about Late Cambrian here

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Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.