Featuring a blend of acoustic instruments, rural soundscapes, and wistful vocals, Great Lake Swimmers are an indie folk group led by songwriter/vocalist Tony Dekker. The group first appeared in 2003 with a haunting self-titled debut that was recorded in a grain silo and released by Weewerk Records, a small label based in the band's native Toronto. Misra Records picked up the record and released it stateside in April 2005. Recording sessions for Great Lake Swimmers' second album began that same year, with the band taking up residence in an old church in rural southern Ontario. The finished product, Bodies and Minds, was released toward the end of 2006, featuring another blend of homespun folk and lush, intimate Americana.
Although already popular in Canada, the band began building a wider audience in 2007 by signing to a new label, Nettwerk, and releasing the well-received Ongiara. The album's first track, "Your Rocky Spine," topped the Canadian indie charts and appeared on the soundtrack to Showtime's Weeds. Such increased attention kept Great Lake Swimmers on tour for the better part of two years, but they still managed to take some time off to record a fourth album. Traveling between multiple locations in the Thousand Islands region and elsewhere in northern New York state, the group hit a creative high peak with Lost Channels, which was released in 2009. The Legion Sessions, an EP featuring live versions of several Lost Channels tunes, also appeared that year. In 2012 Great Lake Swimmers released New Wild Everywhere, their first album to be recorded in a traditional studio. For 2015's A Forest of Arms, the group recorded in studios, small music venues, and a variety of unconventional spaces, including Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves, the oldest natural cavern in Ontario.