APRIL — MAY 2016 Issue
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  April/May 2016 cover by Sam Neal.

ROYAL TUSK :: DealBreaker

Royal-Tusk-DealBreaker-2016Rooted in passionate storytelling, this is the kind of music you want to groove to, and don’t be fooled by the first song – this is most definitely a rock album. There is a theatrical nature to the album and its songs. In the song “Not So Fast,” we slow it right down to a close-your-eyes-and-sway piano intro that makes you want to fall asleep to gospel rock and be woken up by the break of sun on the horizon. Continue Reading »

The Besnard Lakes

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By Chris Bryson

Sometimes returning to one’s roots can reap bountiful benefits, and sometimes it doesn’t, but for The Besnard Lakes with their most recent album A Coliseum Complex Museum, returning to their roots did just that.

A Coliseum Complex Museum was the first of five studio albums to be fully made up at Besnard Lake, the lake the band is named after, and a place that is in many ways a home away from home for Jace Lasek and his wife Olga Goreas, the core duo behind The Besnard Lakes.

The Besnard Lakes have created a brand of earth-borne psychedelia that is distinct in sound and tone, and hosts boldly androgynous vocals and airy, spacey atmospherics that are grounded by the pervasive tromp of prog-rock.  

Lasek grew up in Regina and Besnard Lake, a “spectacular yet secluded water feature in rural Saskatchewan,” has become a place where he and his wife go to for ideas, inspiration, and to just get away from it all.

“A lot of the time we would just go out there and think about the concept of how we want to write the record and kind of talked about the ideas but never actually wrote stuff,” Lasek explains. “But when we were figuring out when to actually make this record we realized that we only had this vacation time to actually start woodshedding some ideas. So we took a little recording setup and took it up to Besnard Lake, and luckily we got a few rainy days (laughs).”

Along with The Besnard Lakes, Lasek also runs Breakglass Studios, where he’s housed clients like Braids, Sunset Rubdown, The Unicorns, Wolf Parade, and many more. With making A Coliseum Complex Museum out at Besnard Lake, Lasek was able to go into the studio with demos instead of just starting to record. “I always just go into the studio and make a record in the studio,” says Lasek. “So this was kind of like making a record like everyone else makes one, where we put the demos together and put all of the ideas together and then we actually go into the studio. And we ended up having a whole bunch of ideas for songs so it was a lot less stressful going into the studio.”

With reducing stress, Lasek also found himself able to maintain what he calls the “spirit” of the album, finding this through the rawness of more primitive recording, outside of the refinements of studio luxuries, and by utilizing and embracing the environment around him.

“In a way it kind of goes back to the Dark Horse era, our second record, where we recorded a lot of demo tracks really shittily into the computer out there (at Besnard Lake), and kept those in the finished album because the spirit of them was raw. When you get into the studio you have the tendency to make things sound really good, but in a demo you just want to get the idea down, so you end up getting these really bizarre sounds. We decided to throw caution to the wind, and a lot of those sounds ended up being really cool,” says Lasek. “It kind of created a more sort of raw, interesting texture to the album.”

The music of The Besnard Lakes has always been grounded in a sort of spiritual nature that has come forth through both the music as well as in interviews with Goreas and Lasek, and this spiritual nature is very much an extension of the creative process for the band. Speaking to this, Lasek says that “we’ve always really wanted the music to be something that people can get immersed in and get lost in and in that sense it’s a lot like our trips to Besnard Lake every year, we go up there to turn everything else off and just focus on what’s up there, like the water, the nature, and who we are, and kind of get lost in this beautiful pristine wilderness. We forget about the world for three weeks or however long we go out there. And I think it took us a while to understand that but I think in a way going up to Besnard every year is an extension of us creating music.”

After creating the songs for A Coliseum Complex Museum at Besnard Lake, Lasek and co. brought them back to Breakglass Studios to be refined for the album. Lasek never went to school for music production, but over the years he’s taken the tried and tested route of self-teaching in order to hone and expand his skills.

Lasek tends to be a bit more experimental with the production of his own albums, taking risks with sounds and textures to see what he can come up with. But his original motivation towards producing music came out of necessity when he was a teenager living in Regina and the lack of capable producers was making itself known.

“I grew up in Regina. So there wasn’t really a lot of places to record music there when we were younger. And when we did go into the studio to record a lot of times we’d come out not as satisfied as we wanted to be,” explains Lasek. “My basic goal was to try my best to make recordings that the musicians that were coming to me were going to be happy with.”

Lasek incorporated this recognition that a musician should be happy with the final product into his philosophy for production, and the results seem to be beneficially twofold.

“These bands bring their music and it’s their baby,” says Lasek. “They’ve been spending so much time figuring it out and laboring over it, and to have someone who’s recording your album for you not give a shit, it can be a letdown. It can make you not enjoy the process. It should be one of the most enjoyable things because you’re actually bringing to life something that you’ve been working on for such a long time. So I’m always trying to keep that in mind as well.”

The Besnard Lakes will be playing  Real Love Summer Fest in Gimli on June 24.. Be sure to join The Besnard Lakes for what will surely be a mutually epic experience.

CKUWHO :: The Electric Chair

 

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For your Saturday morning musical brunch, Nicole Firlotte is just as likely to serve up a Scoobie Doobie Doo as she is a Wa Da Da Da Da.

Every other Saturday (alternating with Influenced) she and The Electric Chair roll with the flow wherever the mood takes the day, from Ol’ Blue Eyes to Blue Monday.  It’s all over the map and eclectic, but she keeps it connected.“It’s totally freeform,” she explains. “I don’t have a plan, I don’t know where it will go,” she confesses, “I have a loose idea, but I’ll be in the booth and playing something and think ‘this will sound good and this will sound good.’  It’s a trip to see where it goes.”

“The 80s are a touchstone for me. The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen,” she reminisces. “My first show was in 1986.” Back then, CKUW was located in the basement of Lockhart Hall and resembled every college station you might see in a movie from that time.

“The basement days were so fun and I came in near the end of them. There were always folks hanging around on the couches. Sometimes we would leave and go to class or to get food or coffee but we mostly just hung out.”

“There were not many girls back in those days, Jill Wilson and Barb Stewart and I were in the minority as I remember.”

While Barb and Jill were making names for themselves as music journalists, Nicole was moving on up in radio, becoming CKUW Station Manager. The following year, she left CKUW to further pursue her studies.

The Electric Chair came to life in 2001 upon her return to Winnipeg from Churchill, where she was a naturalist.  Not just a music nerd, she’s also a scientist, helping to save endangered species. “That’s my day job,” she says matter-of-factly. “I try to approach the show like I’m talking to someone, a friend that I don’t know,” she explains. “Of course, you talk about yourself, but how much do people want to know?”

These days the chair is more like a loveseat as Nicole’s young son, Eli, often co-hosts. She still does most of the talking, though. “He’s not one for a lot of talking,” she says, “but it’s cool that he’s interested, and it’s great to share something with him that’s been a part of my life since the 80s.”

The Electric Chair may have its roots in the 80s, but new branches are always growing and new releases really sway the tree, leading to real life adventures that in turn are brought back and shared on the radio.

Such was evident when the family took a trip to Denver to see The Drums. “I interviewed the band, we watched the soundcheck, and they played a special song for Eli at the show,” she recalls. “I love CKUW and how it gives me the chance to take Eli along with me.”

A friendly Manitoban to the core, Nicole’s involvement with CKUW continues to be not just about the music, but the people too. “I like meeting the new folks around the station and the old faces from back in the day.”

The Electric Chair can be heard every other Saturday, alternating with Influenced, between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on 95.9 FM CKUW.

Orlando Gloom : An Evening with Orlando Gloom

orlando_2At 17, when the rest of us were figuring out our angst across a spectrum of unsubtle emotional genres, or showing off our newly-minted blues riffs in suffocating adolescent throngs, sadboy Orlando Gloom was making digitally-processed cardboard-box beats and putting them on tumblr. Continue Reading »

TOPS

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By Rachel Narvey

Jane Penny, keyboardist and vocalist of TOPS, joins me over the phone from Montreal. She lets me know that guitarist David Carriere will be joining us for the interview. He begins to talk about what they’ve been up to since they got home, recording their newest album at Arbutus studios, but he trails off with a laugh. “Jane,” he says. “You’re doing it better.” Continue Reading »

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