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  • Annette Dawm

Introducing Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies

Left to right: Connor Grieve, Kelly Samuel, Olivia Borkosky, Aurora Cole and Chris Denise

Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies is a self-described “indie-folk-pop” band that originated at Fanshawe College in London, ON. At its inception, four out of five Creepy Crawlies, Olivia Borkosky, Aurora Cole, Chris Denise and Connor Grieve were enrolled in the Music Industry Arts Program (MIA). Kelly Samuel was considered an “honorary” MIA student while she attended Western University. Today, the bandmates no longer live all in one area which makes it difficult to coordinate their rehearsals, performances and their day jobs, but according to Chris Denise, there is a “secret Facebook group” that helps keep them on top of things:

“Communicating [via Facebook] has really been crucial whilst we all try to traverse the hardships of living in different cities and working at jobs with opposite schedules. I guess some understanding from our employers should be acknowledged. We're fortunate enough to be able to get the time off when we need it--for the most part. It's nice to have the support of a boss who, instead of harassing you for having to miss work, asks you to bring in a CD and t-shirt on your next shift.”

Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies have been featured by many media outlets such as CTV London and They have also been nominated for a Jack Richardson London Music Award in the Folk/Roots category. However, if you are just learning about the band, Olivia wanted you to know this: “…We love what we do. Playing music and hanging out with each other makes us happier than anything and I like to think that joy shows when we play.” When she first contacted the members, she said, “Things started falling into place. I was so excited (and still am) with the group that I got together! I thought the world of all of them and of their talents, and I couldn't be happier that we all get along as well as we do.”

Kelly Samuel added, “Making music with people you love is pretty crazy underrated. It's like being in a relationship with four people all at once -- you grow together, you bicker about stupid things, you learn all the time about yourself and working together. It's immensely satisfying to say that I've travelled the East Coast of Canada and seen Chris try and fail to eat lobster…. We've swam in the ocean together and gone skinny dipping together [It’s] equal parts hilarious and amazing”. Kelly also mentioned that dividing their job roles has been a key to their success: “Not every job is for everyone, so when you give tasks to the people that enjoy them, you can work really cohesively as a unit.”

Aurora Cole echoed Kelly’s sentiments about traveling together when she said, “Our East Coast tour was definitely the highlight of 2016. We planned and anticipated it for months on end and it couldn't have gone smoother. Not all of the shows were as wild as the ones back home, (not to say that there weren't some wild ones) but we definitely made some great friends and new connections at each stop.” It was actually Aurora who came up with the name of the band. Initially, after going through many names, they were almost called “Olivia and the Heebie Jeebies”. The name soon changed when Aurora suggested “Creepy Crawlies”, which Olivia “fell in love with” because it suited her “love of alliteration and the nursery rhyme feel”.

In addition to traveling to The East Coast, another first for the band in 2016 was playing at Summerfolk, a festival in Owen Sound, ON that Connor Grieve has been attending as a fan since he was a child. For anyone who has attended Summerfolk, it’s quite obvious that being part of the audience is like being a part of an extended family reunion every year, and Connor was very proud to introduce Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies to everyone: “It was a really nice homecoming for me to play Summerfolk. My biological family was there, but over the years, there's developed a sense of family wider than the people actually related to me. Lots of loved ones got to see me play and it meant a lot to me to be able to share that part of my life with them.”

Connor also added that as much as they love to play live music, they also love to see other performers during their time off: “A lot of our friends play in bands so we end up spending a lot of our spare time checking out bands that we like, or bands we've gotten to know through our band/shows. In between shows, we're usually at shows” he laughed.

In terms of their own music, Chris described their sound as “a blend of throw-back influences infused with a modern edge”. He then explained how each song comes to life with Olivia and her ukulele at the helm: “Olivia's song-writing sensibility tends toward a kind of 'pastoral' era of pop music, when songs were simpler (think Patsy Cline, Patti Paige, etc.). She brings these very authentic and charming songs to the band in their rawest form -- her voice and ukulele -- and we all find our own way to decorate them. We've never set out with much intention to capture a certain kind of sound: what you hear is just what happens naturally for us.”

As for what’s next in the lives of Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies, Aurora noted that “2017 is a year we anticipate to really work on some new material. We haven't discussed recording anything quite yet, but that isn't to say it can't happen in 2017.” One thing that’s for certain, in the words of Kelly Samuel, the band will continue to “work hard and always push for the next step.”

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Photos courtesy of Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies.

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