Gab Godon and Emma Beko are HeartStreets, and they are a game changer if I've ever been humbled enough to see such a thing live. Hailing from Montreal, where just so much great Canadian music rolls out of, these two make me proud to be a female in the music world.
SOCAN invited them to camp. This is a thing. It's a pretty exclusive songwriters camps we've been hearing about for a while now but I have yet to meet anyone who's been lucky enough to go. This place is the stuff of legends ya'll, a huge group of writers, some of the top producers in this country, all gathered and isolated deep in the Canuck woods for a solid week of sequestered writing and performance. Oh to be a fly on those tent walls. Or maybe cabins, yeah, probably cabins cause SOCAN can roll like that :)
These two women are unassuming, down to earth, you wouldn't know walking through a crowd as they approached the stage they were about to literally blow the minds of everyone there. It's just them and a laptop. That's it. What they have created with this is nothing short of musical genius. This is the band to watch.
Not sure what this guy isn't up to these days but playing live shows again can be added to the incredible mix of managing bands like The National (you read that right). It was such an incredible night of solid Cuff the Duke fans revelling in their sudden return and new fans forged in the foggy, heady goodness of Koop Stage, Riverfest.
Then Wayne stepped into my trailer and told me what deems to be his favourite story. One all his friends know but one never shared publically before now. Feeling a little honoured here... no big deal.
It's about Hayden, coincidentally the first live show I ever saw was Hayden, It was in St. Catharines in the 90's and yes, he did make everyone sit down for his shows then. 14-year-old Paula did so and loved, LOVED the talent that guy brought. So did Wayne. Years later they would work together closely and become friends, then Steve Buscemi became their friend. Kinda a big deal.
Hilarity and honestly some good parenting tips came outta this interview.
Find Cuff the Duke
Find The National
Find The Odd Years
and then thank me later :)
Katrin Sawatzky, Jordan Gabriel and now AJ Johnson are Royal Castles. They sit down with me after their main stage show at Riverfest and get into stories, such great stories you guys. Tattoos in Majorca level good. It's a new level I'm coining here in honour of their storytelling abilities on this very episode.
Their new album JUST came out, its called Play It Loud, an instructional term because while this band has folk roots it also has major punk and indie rock influence mixed in and I gotta say, the result is a damned good time.
Flashback to a Hollerado show where Clara Legault bought an auctioned off guitar from the renowned and beloved band (who also played Riverfest!) and going to the AMT alone at night didn't seem like a healthy choice - so Clara asked another woman to go with her. This was Emily. Along the way, they chatted about music and both had similar interests in the genre and playing live. They decided to do a show together. A short while later Clara was headed into the karaoke bar she had been working at (as a bartender) and met Maya, her bartending replacement. Clara was there to pick up her last paycheque, Maya had just started work and noticed Clara's ukelele. The two struck up a conversation about it and Clara thought Maya would be a good third for the band.
She was. The band Motel Raphael, named after the infamous derelict motel of the same name in downtown Montreal's seedy underbelly, was born shortly thereafter and we are all thankful for the kismet and foresight of these incredibly talented women. They have built an amazing sound together and are being lauded as "the most exciting band to come out of Montreal since Arcade Fire" by such aficionados as GQ Magazine UK.
That is really saying something. And these women, Clara, Emily and Maya have much to say and sing. Please check them out, they are brilliant and talented and make me want to join a band immediately.
One of my favourite quotes from the interview: Hello Kitty Nightmares.
From their website www.msthofficial.com
My Son the Hurricane is a brass infused funk beast. No dance floor is safe.
Hailing from Niagara/Toronto, the perennial festival closers and dance floor inciters mix New Orleans style grooves with funk, jazz and hip hop. Bolstered by a giant horn section and the well-oiled rhythm players, charismatic emcee Jacob Bergsma and charmingly sassy vocalist Sylvie Kindree drive the show, creating a spectacle of sound, and challenging the crowd to keep up to their collective energy. My Son the Hurricane has “stood out like a sore, yet extremely talented thumb at every show they’ve played” (Pulse Niagara), and become revered for their live performances.
Riding the success of their sophomore release “Cashing a Deadman’s Cheque” (feat. U.S.S. frontman Ash Buchholtz and three-time Juno/Polaris nominee D-Sisive), the Hurricane was featured on the CBC and Much More Music. Their blending of styles, penchant for inciting dance parties, and penning of introspective ballads (Pushin’ Up Daisies) has garnered them high praise on the Canadian festival circuit from BC to PEI, with breakout performances at Hillside, Evolve, Riverfest, Kispiox Valley, Follyfest, Beaches Jazz, Summerfolk, Peterborough Folk Fest, and many more.
Juno nominee Danno O’Shea acts as the drummer and ringleader for the mammoth project, spurring the group to weave through different styles on the latest album Is This What You Want?!, recorded at Phase One Studios with engineer Jeff Pelletier (Big Sugar, Ludacris). Leading up to the album’s 2016 release, it was a featured stream on Exclaim!, and found its way to Canadian airwaves, including CBC Radio One, Edge 102.1, and 97.7 Hitz FM, which spotlighted the Hurricane as a “Band on the Verge”. Is This What You Want?! brings a new flavour to the Hurricane repertoire, building on their stellar reputation as one of Canada's most amazing live shows; "a fusion that one simply needs to experience live” (Buying Shots for Bands).
Raina Douris of CBC Music's Mornings joins me in studio (ahem, trailer. But like a decked-out mother of a trailer backstage at a music festival, so ya know, a studio) for a one-on-one chat about, well, everything. She's a music buff and major fan of Canadian music so we had quite a bit to talk about and she tells great stories.
Listen in to our convo and thank you again Raina, it was a pleasure.
Laurel Sprengelmeyer lives in Montreal, she's a visual artist, producer and musician and when she's making music, she's Little Scream.
We tell each other ghost stories. For real. It's also the theme of her podcast (soon to be released) and she's going to kill it, like she kills at EVERY DAMN THING SHE DOES because she's amazing.
Every little girl needs to be introduced to Laurel. I didn't have a lot of heros growing up and I've talked about it in my show before, there was no woman out there doing what I wanted (read: There WERE, there SUPER FREAKING WERE but there was no way for me to see/hear/experience their incredible talent and see firsthand how I was going to be able to pursue my creative passions to their fulfillment, there was no internet, there was little to no media coverage of women doing anything but starring in tampon ads and hawking mom jeans) and she is living proof not giving a hot damn what people think is an excellent fuel for creativity.
She has worked with The National (part of Riverfest 2018!!), Barr Brothers, Saltband and countless others as well. Please go and check her out at www.littlescream.com and follow her on Twitter @littlescream - I'll see you there.
Follow me too if you aren't already, I love people!! @stories_podcast and no, I don't have a Facebook page and I make no apologies for that.
Love you though,
You cannot see Shred Kelly live and not fall a little bit in love with them. So really, I had little choice in delving into it with this group after their set at Riverfest and the results are clear and glorious, they my new fav.
Tim Newton, Sage McBride, Jordan Vlasschaert, Ty West and of course Eddie Annett are Shred Kelly, hailing from Fernie BC. Where? Oh yeah, it's that small but their sound is pretty huge.
I play Archipelago at the end of the episode, their new single and you are going to love it. Check out their tour dates this summer and go see them, you will not regret it.
@shredkelly on Twitter
Thanks again you guys, loved it.
Podcasting, for me, has always been a saving grace. It is the thing that's pulled me from the depths in so many ways, I know I would be lost, in many ways, without it. When I sit knee to knee, in my little podcast trailer, lovingly crafted with my husband and painstakingly placed at festivals dotting the province by my dad or husband and me, it all falls into place. The anxiety I feel as a near constant, melts. The fear ebbs. The lights balance and I get to just ask artists about their story. That's all I've ever really wanted in a creative pursuit. What I've gained from the incredibly simple "tell me a story" format with these individuals is beyond measure. It is, quite simply, saving grace.
Ashley Buchholz and Jason "the Human Kebab" Parsons are the duo of USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, aptly named having now met Ashley) and they've been touring non stop for MONTHS and working their butts off for YEARS to get where they are and they aren't stopping for a breath.
In this interview you will hear stories, jokes, hilarity. They tell stories abut the lake, touring with Walk Off The Earth, Nintendo to Nirvana. We paused it several times to run out backstage and dance to Sloan and back in for more stories. Ashley and I chatted documentaries, the Kebab came back later for beer, in all they were some of the most personable and memorable people I've been humbled to sit down with.
Oh - and they ROCKED THE LIVING HELL OUT OF THAT SHOW!!!
Their music appears in soundtracks ranging from Nintendo to the NHL. No kidding. Also in this interview the Kebab tells Ashley they may again be touring with Walk Off The Earth - brand new information! (picture Phoebe from friends yelling this please, for effect).
In all, one of my favourite interviews in a weekend of favourites. A weekend that saw my life change, and podcasting has made all the difference. Thank you each and every one of you lovely people who has every downloaded and listened to my show. Seeing thousands of people tuning in is beyond humbling, its the first time I don't feel anxious about change. That's a first for this kid. So thanks for that too.
See USS on tour NOW
Buy their stuff HERE
Follow them on Twitter @USSMUSIC
Backstage, Riverfest: Ryan and Jasmin from what is quickly becomingone of Canada's biggest bands join me, knee to yoga toned knee to chat about humble beginnings, the best almond milk on the market, what it takes to make your parents proud and of course, yoga. LIttle known Paula fact, I am a yoga teacher in my spare time (of which I have none so this is a misnomer at best). Check out their 5th and latest album NO CULTURE here and see them live if you get the chance.
I sit down knee to knee with what have become two of my all time fav people, Wes and Jason who are The Darcys. We chat character life versus real life, staying in the moment, banning water bottles and Centrefold.
Legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff and the incredible Scratch Bastid joined me in my mobile podcast studio to eat jelly beans. This is the result. xo
On this season of Tell me Stories podcast we have:
DJ Jazzy Jeff
Raina Douris from CBC
You name it, we've got it. If you what you named is good musicians and specifically the ones I've interviewed. Join me won't you?
Sometimes you stumble upon a perfect combo and feel slapped upside the head by the obviousness of it. Chocolate and peanut butter; brie and apples; bacon and well, anything. Imagine a singer-songwriter, more specifically - please take a moment to envision JF Robitaille and let's pair him right up with one of the purest, most gently arresting voices I've had to pleasure of falling upon in ages: Lail Arad and you have what happened to me backstage at Waterstock.
They shared a story, they laughed, they made me feel at once thrown into a beautiful 1950's era Spanish romance movie (neither are Spanish, btw, its really about the 'air' of a person, it was like she laughed in slow motion) and exceedingly envious of finding a combination that makes music touching and real anew.
We've Got it Coming is the latest release from this duo, each backed with their own musical history and ample talent. You will hear it at the top of the show, followed by their hilarious and frightening story of being stuck in the mountains with a very strange stranger.
I'll allow you a moment to mentally nod Jim Morrison on that last note and then turn your attention to what is new in Canadian music and you will have these two at the top of your playlist. Check them out, follow them, find them live because I did and I'm a better music fan for it. JF Robitaille and Lail Arad = beautiful. Thank you guys. Links below.
Blue Rodeo is synonymous with Canadian music, they helped put us on the map. They laid the groundwork for hundreds of Canadian bands to rise up in international waters so thick with America's take on rock people simply didn't know what hit them when Blue Rodeo hit the stage.
Jim Cuddy formed Blue Rodeo and has lead them through worldwide tours in the ensuing decades since. He also formed the Jim Cuddy band with other musical genius' that hold a special place in my heart like Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer (formerly of Weeping Tile and if i get the distinct pleasure of introducing you to this brilliant band's work I want full credit please, put me in the liner notes of your fan fiction, Weeping Tile is THAT good) and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Oh yes, that Wilco.
Basically anyone who is anyone in Canadian music or Canada itself knows and loves Jim Cuddy. His management is SERIOUS and his gatekeepers are professional as FUCK. Yeah, that sentence just happened. But Jim, oh Jim. At 61 years old this guy was better looking than most 25 year olds. How is he not aging? WHAT gives? He is also quietly beautiful and incredibly charming without trying to be and without pretence at all. I asked him for the interview, something I would not normally do in person and on the spot with a name this big. When I sat in a room with RUSH I was so nervous I could barely speak, let alone ask for the interview. But Jim was warm, inviting and immediately said 'of course!' and then remarked on how awesome by mobile studio is (it is, it really is and I worked my ass off for it so I get to say and write this as much as I want!!) and then proceeded to manage my nerves for me (after talking to all the other bands who were so in love with him by normal ease at being in a very small space with someone world famous evaporated and I was nervous and sweaty and stammering).
He told me a heartbreaking story of his time with Kris Kristofferson (yeah, that one) that you frankly need to hear. I've left the rest of the interview straightforward and clean so you can just feel the story hit you full on.
Thank you Jim.
Thank you Waterstock.
Bry Webb is the frontman for The Constantines, one of my most beloved bands. Stemming from their start in 1999 they traveled and toured and put out 4 full length albums and 2 EPs, skyrocketed to indie fame and broke up in about 2010. Then in 2014/15 they hit the scene again, hard.
The Constantines, or Cons, as they're known on the indie scene, played Massey Hall May 27, 2015 - one of the most pivotal moments in my life even tough I wasn't there (oh I wanted to be but you will hear why I didn't make it to that show and you can find that exact show through Live at Massey Hall ) and reignited that love of a truly great Canadian rock band.
Bry Webb joins me after he played Riverfest and while he only hinted at what was to come for The Constantines it lit a spark of hope that I would get to see this band live again, to return to a place and time of stunningly great lyrics, hard hitting drum lines and that fender strat lifted overhead calling the crowd to their feet. And keeping them there all night.
The Slackers are the kind of New York Ska band your momma warned you about, they live up to every expectation possible in ska love and you know damned well I was into ska in the 90's like every other good natured music geek. Getting to finally meet and sit down with Marcus Geard was nothing short of brilliant and the culmination of my 15 year old self's every joy. Marcus did not disappoint and I managed to capture so much of his life story he almost missed his ride out of town.
The Slackers are touring now - GO see them live, this is the kind of band you literally HAVE to see live to understand the depth of talent here. Ska has an unfortunate tendency to disappear in the recording - they are like the jazz of almost-rock, you will never see the same show twice and that's one of the few times that is a good thing. Its a living breathing animal on stage and I'm not talking about Marcus' stash. The music has to be lived to be heard properly. There, you will fall in love.
Marcus and I feel in deep deep like, making friends with rock stars is not something I ever anticipated with this little show but its damned sure a side effect one could get used to :)
The Slackers are self styled masters of Reggae, Ska and Rock’n’Roll from New York City.
The Slackers began in 1991 in NYC. After years of local gigs and rehearsing in a dingy basement in Manhattan’s lower east side, the band released its debut album, Better Late Than Never, in 1996. The band’s success resulted in the release of a second album, Red Light, on the Epitaph label in 1997. Since then the Slackers have released 11 more studio albums (The Question, Wasted Days, Slackers & Friends, Close My Eyes, Slackers in Dub, Peculiar, Boss Harmony Sessions, Self Medication, Lost and Found, The Great Rocksteady Swindle, and The Slackers [self-titled, 2016] ) 3 live albums (Live at Ernestos, Upsettin Ernestos, Slack in Japan), several EPs (International War Crimminal, My Bed is a Boat), and numerous singles and compilation tracks.
Since 1997 the Slackers have played over 100 shows every year in a total of 46 american states, 7 Canadian provinces, 22 European countries, 5 Latin American countries, and 2 Asian countries.
The band’s musical style is distinct from their contempories; a mix of early Jamaican music with classic 50’s and 60s American styles. There are influences from 50s and 60s Rock’n’Roll, Rythmn and Blues, Jazz and Latin music. Singer Vic Ruggiero has coined the term ‘Jamaican Rock’nRoll.’ to describe it. He says, “The band might play a classic Jamaican style but the vocals are distinctly American east coast, revealing the obvious connection of Jamaican music to the Doo-Wop of Harlem and the Bronx.”
With the demise of record companies over the last 5 years, the Slackers have successfully used crowdfunding (www.bigtun.es/theslackers.) to release new music including the latest release, The Slackers [self-titled] in February 2016.
That one time though, there was a snake.
But its a real thing to walk into a room of 12 rockstars and tell their tour manager (not quiet enough) that you need to move the interview to a different greenroom because there's a live, loose boa constrictor in the building and you can't record in the studio you'd booked because, well - the snake was last seen in that area.
Police were called. Animal control was called. More beers please was called, mostly to calm nerves but also because the fucking Sheepdogs were there to perform as BROS.
Let me clear that up: Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie started a side project with his brother and fellow Sheepdog Shamus and they are so big time that their first foray into this thing - they are traveling with a 9 piece band.
If you don't know what normal bands travel with I will let you know it is NOT even close to a 9 piece band. Most smaller projects, or bands in general, have trouble affording travel with the entire band itself. Let alone adding extras. These guys can add 9 extra dudes, each more bearded and tattooed than the last (also known as Paula's holy land) to travel across flipping North America and Europe. Oh maybe Australia too because its so cheap to travel there, hahaha...
Turns out these guys were born in Australia, which even as a music geek as massive as I am, I didn't know that about these guys until we sat down and talked gators. And parenting. And decisions you make when your kids are in danger.
Spoiler alert: snake is still at large.
Enjoy the interview and the two new releases from BROS. At the top of the show I play Tell Me and midway I play Brazil. You will love them both for different reasons, like the BROS themselves.
This week on TMS I host Justin Rutledge, and I don't want to blow your minds but he has played with Dolly Parton. Yes. My personal white whale ebbs ever closer my loves. Justin blew my mind actually when we talked about how he writes.
A love note to my listeners:
You'll note I didn't do a retrospective on the year and this is mostly because so much happened I am not sure what to include and what to leave for another round. This time last year I had just pressed GO LIVE on my podcast and sat with bated breath to see if anyone, anywhere would consider downloading it and listening to me.
I spent hundreds, HUNDREDS of hours editing, ripping, recording and trying with all my might and then-skill-level (which has improved!) to produce a show I love. I hit refresh and saw a download. It was my husband in the next room and I could hear him giggling softly when he heard my breath draw in at the sight of that one single download that meant the world to me. A few more downloads trickled in and I started to check out Twitter a little bit, Libsyn, PodBean and eventually ITunes and started listening to other podcasts. I guested on PassersbyPodcast with Matt and his listeners started reaching out to me, I will always be grateful for this because many of these folks have become my podcast hub.
I hit 100 downloads and cried (you will see a theme here of me crying when happy and I blame my parents for this weird trait). I met up with the Angry Ginger and Salty Language's Tony and his beer expert wife Jeannie and laughed until our sides hurt somewhere in the middle of Michigan. I hit 1000 downloads and felt dizzy. I was asked to join Shumway Industries with a group of people I consider to be some of the best independent podcasters and I cried at the idea I could be considered among them for even a moment. Bill from Wicked Theory, Angry Ginger and TK1 of 7DAG, Stef of Gotham Lights, Diamond Dave, and a funny little proxy-caster named Agent Palmer who would go on to become one of my podcast confidants for every major change I have made to improve my show. I went to Podcast Movement in Chicago and met the great and astoundingly talented Carrie Zylka, the gentle giant (and I mean GIANT) Dan Lizette of Podcast Digest, and a host of other talented podcasters I now consider friends. I guested on over 20 shows and brought in as many fellow podcasters as I could manage to my show and these were more fun than I can write accurately about.
I hit 10,000 downloads and told my family I might have a shot at this for real. I was invited to Podtoberfest and cried, I got to meet my heroes and it only made them larger in my mind somehow. I spent 15 hours on the road with Dougie, the Shumway IT guy and that truck contained some of the best conversations I've had, ever. I spent 36 hours podcasting with this group of awesomeness and finally gave in to the idea I might indeed be a music geek.
I hit 30,000 downloads and forgot what numbers meant and I'm a math-lover people. I podcasted at so many music festivals I almost lost count, but not actually because each one was so meaningful and important to me I have kept every media pass I've ever been handed. I'm not kidding, I have them all on my dresser so when I'm getting ready in the morning for my soulless 9-5 to remind myself there is more out there for me, this work is for something, my audience growth is happening and I will do this for a living. My show got picked up by a college radio station and is now being prepped for a weekly Indie Music spotlight show, hosted by little old me.
A year. I've been a podcaster for a year and I still can't believe how well its going. The setbacks have been bumps, the hours have been long and beloved, the chances people have taken on me have been humbling and wonderful and so deeply appreciated. As I look forward to 2017 I am a stronger podcaster and one more focussed on taking this to the next level. I don't know how to get there, there is no manual for this, its still too niche, its still too new - but I'm trying.
Every day I am trying to make this happen for my family and for me and the little music nerd inside me that's screaming to get to the next show and record the next story. Thank you for coming along for the ride, I'm so happy you are here. I'm so happy we are. The downloads are a steady heartbeat now, rhythmic and reassuring that the audience I've built are sticking around and telling their friends about the show, every single one of them matters to me. Each is a step closer to getting to do this full time, something I was told was a dream, something I was told repeatedly could not and would not happen.
But the funny thing about being told no is this: I just want it that much more.
Well I stacked the deck here babies! You're gonna hear new music from a band called Stella Ella Ola who are so much fun its not fair to other bands, except Busty and the Bass are super damned fun too on stage. They weren't as much fun off stage so I had to cut the balls off my interview w/ Busty. Sorry about that guys, but I'm not going to air crap, and that's literally all it was. I loved the interview with Stella's crew and Kardinal Official is so busy and talented I've never felt so lazy! But it was awesome to get to sit down with them all, even Busty's crew (save one asshat) because they all had stories to tell and were willing to share. That's all I ask. I keep the format simple, I make every effort possible to make people comfortable and allow them an "out" when they need it, which you will hear. But respect my time and talent as I am respecting yours bitches, its a simple task literally every other musician I have ever encountered has been capable of - but this one guy. So focus on the positive - I am :) and I loved this year. I will do a retrospective as soon as I can on all that happened this year for TMS and I hope you will join me then! (okay, the dirt is below, read on you filthy animals if you want).
I did my best to bite my tongue in the episode because there's no point in airing dirty laundry but here I will write whatever I damned well please and the lead singer of the band is an arrogant asshole. I've interviewed over 100 bands in the last year and a half alone, HUGE bands, brand spanking new bands and everything and everyone in between. This band draws a crowd but they mostly do cover songs (which is great when you are a garage band, step it up when you start booking shows please) and their albums were flat where originals were included. Possibly because they have 9 band members and Arcade Fire they are NOT. They covered Macy Gray and got on people's radar, added to this a great (truly great) live show and this band would convince you they are going places. That all came crashing down when I sat down to interview them, specifically the lead singer and actually ONLY him. Everyone else was a gentleman, respectful of my time and talent in what I do though it differs from what they do.
This was the worst interview I've ever done. At one point the lead singer literally said "oh, this is just what we do to piss people off, we take over their podcasts and fuck around". It wasn't cute, it was rude and smacked so heavily of a mama's boy who's been too tightly coddled by a well meaning lady that he's now incapable of deciphering when he's being adorable and when he's being received as the prick he truly is. I'm not impressed and I have interviewed bands with a hell of a lot more talent and gratitude for the scene.
That kid doesn't have it. He walked around like he was god's gift to the world and it was sickening. Mild talent and luck don't make you a rockstar babe. They never have. The rest of this band was lovely, talented and gave a shit about what they were doing there. This guy didn't. I don't recall a time I've been so put off by someone, this was truly a first for me and while I know I handled it well in the moment I had to have a bit of a pow-wow with my husband after to vent, it took all my might to keep said husband from running that little shit down and 'talking some mild sense' into him, old skool style. I don't condone violence and that would never have happened, clearly. But damn if I didn't fantasize about it for a moment or two when I listened back to this episode, having to edit and slice and dice it to kingdom come to make any of it work at all.
My point is this: I am there for a reason, one I've worked for, just like every other band member, manager, organizer, bartender, everyone. I'm there because I'm talented and intelligent and caring about what I do and about what I put out in the world. I am not perfect and honestly don't care a lick for those who pretend they are, I'm fallible, I'm human and brave enough to be okay with that. I don't take myself too seriously and I never have, I can roll with the punches and laugh along and aloud with virtually any subject matter. But assholes will not be tolerated. Nope.
On that note: goodbye my pets and good evening, I will be back next week with a retrospective on 2016! I had SO many great times, killer stories and non stop laughs I can't imagine cutting it down to an hour but I will try, for you.
Thank you for reading, thank you for listening and thanks for being part of this funny little story with me.
Sun K Official is a band to be reckoned with. At once rock with alt country tendencies they defy what it means to be a typical Canadian rock band - because they are anything but typical onstage and off. I sit down with Scott Tiller and Stuart Retallack of Sun K for stories on boots lost and found, confessions of a candy-aholic and basically everything in between.
Describing their sound is easy - its damned good. Explaining why is harder. They are tight performers but come off as breezy in person; they are talented on next-level scales but each time I see them they speak to the audience like its their first humble show (its incredibly endearing and disarming in a way that almost shocks the audience when they have their sh*t together so well on stage). Sitting down with them for the first time they are polite, too polite to take a beer (thanks again Elora Brewing Company!) but manage to grab one a few jokes in. They settle into the interview and quickly begin to show their humour, friendship and honestly - who they really are. They are in it for the long haul and they intend to have a good time along the way. They take their music very seriously and so they should - they are sitting on a goldmine as evidenced by there, at the time of writing this, 107% overage of the PledgeMusic campaign they embarked on this year. People know this band is going places and want to be able to say to their music loving friends they helped get them there.
They are travelling across Canada right now, sleeping in a van, eating from gas stations, writing as they go. It sounds a hard road to travel but that's what it is to be an Indie band in Canada right now - only with the addition of PledgeMusic and the ability for bands with real personality and creativity to FUND themselves into their dream jobs - we ebb ever closer to a day where every small town can host shows with bands as good as this, with sets this tights, with kids this talented. They are almost always from small towns themselves and getting to make money in this career, in this country used to be out of reach save a few major bands but its coming closer now. We are getting much closer now to something we can be proud of in a country with the least arts funding on the planet. In bands like Sun K I see a promise of this.
In the meantime I'll be dancing my ever loving ass off at their shows big and small, knowing in some small way my being there is getting them closer to that goal, that world, that place where talent can be showcased without having to go stateside, where kids from small towns who sleep with their guitars under their beds can make a life of it - where we are all better off for getting to hear it.
Thank you Sun K for a wonderful interview, for settling in and letting your hair down without taking your hats off. You guys were dolls.
Sun K can be found at www.sunkofficial.com and you can download their album direct or find them on BandCamp, SoundCloud, ITunes and now on my show over at CFRU 93.3 FM because I can!
Sun K: Kristian Montano, Stuart Retallack, Kevin Micheal Butler, Scott Tiller and Gil Paul
A few years ago Nils Edenloff's brother emailed him about visiting the homestead, the land they grew up on, in the wilds of rural Alberta, Canada. He worded it in such a way as a means to show he was hoping to recapture something there, a call-back, a memory place, a feeling of home, in some way to create an advantage to his life and sense of purpose in the world. He called it The Rural Alberta Advantage and in doing so, sparked a name for a project Nils was putting together with his musician folk at the time, Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt. They formed officially as the Rural Alberta Advantage or, RAA for those on the cusp of coolness, in 2006 and have released albums that have garnered them Juno awards and the honour of being long listed for the Polaris Prize. Amy took a step back in September of this year but when I sat down with the band, this was already the new normal as Robin Hatch has stepped into the role of backing vocals, keyboard and bass pedal.
Here's the thing about RAA: they will not stop until you're dancing. By this I mean they will get a crowd going or literally play new songs on stage (how they wrote one of their top acclaimed albums in fact) until those tapping toes become dancing fools and all that's left is a sweaty group of smiling festival goers who don't want them to leave the stage, ever. They are incredibly soft spoken in real life, so different from their on stage act had I not known the band members already I would have asked for ID when they quietly stepped into my studio and took their seats across from me, each checking in politely with one another on who might like which craft beer for the interview.
Robin, in particular, is incredibly quiet and the kind of gentle soul you would never had pegged for a raucous live act. But that's the great thing about talking to a band after a performance, the juxtaposition is often writ large this way - you truly see and feel the 'performer' leave the musician and in that transition you see the two worlds of writer/artist and performer collide in such a brilliant and almost poetic fashion, it’s intoxicating. The craft beers helped of course :) but Robin's singing voice is loud - brass even, stunningly perfect like she never aged beyond 12 (and looks about that age now by the way, 'a slip of a girl' is what came to mind when I shook her tiny talented hand) and her speaking voice is lower, so very much quieter and her laugh, silent. That beautiful type of laugh that's horrid for podcasting but incredibly endearing where her whole body shakes and she looks down into her lap, shoulders forward while the band each decides who is going to tell what story. It helps she’s also been part of Sheezer, that’s an all female Weezer cover band, as the name might suggest and damnit I love that concept.
We talk books. At once one of my favourite subjects and luckily, theirs too. We trade backstage stories from the festival, we laugh, we talk about Alberta and how little time the band members have actually spent there considering their namesake. They tell lovely, warm, funny stories - each of them taking turns like well behaved kids who swear a lot. They thank me and pose for a photo politely, they exit the studio and quietly head backstage, past the crowd still sweating from the unstoppable dancing fever beset upon them by this very band not a half hour before. The crowd looks up, almost in unison, and the roar their very presence illicits sends shivers down my recently very calmed spine. They are loved. Their stage show is absolutely one of their biggest selling features and the beauty of how quiet, reserved and kind they are backstage leaves me with a thrill so deep inside I don't have a name for it yet.
Thank you Rural Alberta Advantage, thank you Nils' brother for writing an email 11 years ago and playing whatever small a part in making this band happen - it has truly become something incredible. This music has created in me a way to form a memory place, has provided a feeling of home though I’ve never been home in Alberta and has broken in a lot of heels from dancing so hard.
Look for their upcoming album in 2017, hints were played recently at their Brooklyn NY shows including one I play for you at the top of the show, called White Lights. If this is any indication of what their new album is going to sound like I am already interested and waiting, hydrating, for their next show where I plan fully to dance until I drop.
Band Members: Nils Edenloff, Paul Banwatt, Robin Hatch