“There was no reason for me to make a record at the time. No one was waiting for it anywhere. So I spent most of the time in quiet, listening to and watching the animals – mostly different waterfowl and small birds, lying on the beach, looking wordlessly out to the horizon, finding interesting things to bring back to my portable like stones, beach treasures, butterflies, sticks … It is a beautiful place. It is odd too, because you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but you can also feel the huge energetic shadow of the big city right behind you. Agnes Martin’s (a minimalist painter) book entitled ‘with my back to the world’ comes to mind … yes, my back was turned to the world, but the world was also at my back, and over my shoulder too. And so if I went indoors to record something, and it didn’t make me shiver like a good breeze, or warm me on the inside like a crabapple in the sun, I knew that the music wasn’t ripe yet, and I just went back outside to wander.” – Doug Tielli
The brother of Martin (Rheostatics) and John (Rock Plaza Central), Doug has become a fixture of Toronto’s underground music scene, using his talents in a variety of local acts such as The Silt, Drumheller, and The Reveries, alongside contemporaries such as Ryan Driver and Eric Chenaux.
Tielli played, recorded and produced most of Swan Sky Sea Squirrel himself at an artist retreat centre on Toronto Island, set up in an old school portable for 3 months with borrowed gear and no real time limit. Doug Tielli used his multi instrumental talents to play almost everything on the record – guitars, trombone, saw, sounds, bass, drums, percussion and singing. Nick Fraser who played with Tielli in a swinging wee jazz band called Drumheller played on two of the tracks and friend Jennifer Castle sang a duet and joined 5 other people in singing in a sloppy background choir on another tune.