With band members hailing from Calgary to Australia – and a few spots between – GROUNDERS brings in influences from all corners of the earth. While their hometowns are scattered, the quintet is now based in Toronto, where they have been cultivating their psychedelic sound for the past four and a half years.
GROUNDERS shares its name with a blindfolded playground game and an orchard term for apples that fall off the trees and become applesauce, among other things. Even though the band’s name isn’t one-of-a-kind and lacks a unified backstory, its members don’t mask their annoyance with their pop culture namesakes.
“There’s a show on Netflix – The 100 – with [characters] named Grounders, so they stole our Google things,” says Evan Lewis, GROUNDERS’ guitarist. “We used to be at the top but now the top is The 100.”
Their last EP, Wreck of a Smile, was released in 2013, and they’ve been delicately crafting their first self-titled album, which was finally released in May of this year. It took the band four years to get their LP together, but the time was well-spent.
“We’re all very critical people, for better or worse,” says Daniel Busheikin, keyboardist. “And we’re all critical about certain things. After we made this record, it ended up being a good thing that we kept pushing ourselves to make something that would constantly excite us, would impress us, that we felt really good and confident about. We wanted our first record to be a statement of our band.”
The critical nature of the band members definitely slowed the creation of their debut. However, Busheikin credits the self-criticism to their ever-present musical innovation.
“We squashed a lot of ideas and threw stuff out and we kept moving forward,” he says.
And a statement it is. Their earlier sounds are represented in the track “Bloor Street and Pressure”, which the band says is an iteration of one of their oldest songs written together. Newer sonic experiences are obviously on the album as well, but the inclusion of some of their older influences helped to keep some of the charm from their first EP, which was made at a time when they approached their music very differently.
GROUNDERShas a definite gritty overlay to the psychedelic, ethereal nature of the album, which was not always the vibe that the band was aiming to create with their music. In their early stages, they played with a more complex sound, complete with intricate time changes and minimal rhythm. Lewis reminisces, “When we put out our EP we didn’t have drums.” After playing these songs to audiences who had a hard time dancing to their set, they decided to finally find a drummer and simplify the music. In dropping some of their complex production styles, GROUNDERS became simpler, but also gained timelessness.
Pulling away from complexity, GROUNDERS instead created a sound that is more accessible and relatable. Stripping down their music gave it a more special quality, but not in a way that the band members can even pin down.
“I think part of what makes it interesting is that you can’t put your finger on what makes it special [with that style of production],” Busheikin says. “There definitely is something. And that’s one of the most exciting things about that production style. Just having it resonate with you for a reason that you can’t exactly lock down.”
As for the band’s goals going forward, they are keeping them simple. “[We want to] put out a record every year and do it a lot quicker,” says vocalist and guitarist Andrew Davis. “We’re going to be in Calgary for a bit and we’re gonna start there.”
Duckwrth cannot be pinned down. The 28-year-old rapper, born Jared Lee in South Central, landed like a splash of mixed paints with his debut full-length I’m Uugly in fall 2016. Its 10 elastic tracks stretch across hip hop, chill wave, funk, and punk, all shrouded in a soft-focused haze. He aptly calls this impressionistic concoction “psych rap.” Early last November, Duckwrth released An Xtra Uugly Mixtape. Whereas I’m Uugly exalted the beauty that lives within the harshness and griminess of everyday life – from the physical to the political to the socioeconomic – An Xtra Uugly Mixtape encourages being unapologetically you. It is, as Duckwrth writes on his Soundcloud page, “the anthem for your rebellion.” Fittingly, the tape is higher in energy; the guitar sounds are cranked. An Xtra Uugly Mixtape is his attempt to put hip hop and rock on equal footing within the same piece of music. An Xtra Ugly Mixtape is also a gradual step towards fulfilling his stadium rock ambitions. Duckwrth had one of his most formative musical experiences at a stadium show. “I used to do the whole protest [thing] and be more politically driven,” he says. “But then there was a time when
Over the past four years, Halifax pop artist Ria Mae has accomplished dreams she has openly spoken about: being produced by fellow Nova Scotia success story Classified and touring with Tegan and Sara and Coleman Hell. Since creating her self-released demo of “Clothes Off” in 2013, she has signed with Sony Music and Nettwerk Management. The former has helped develop the careers of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Coldplay, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and many more. The finished version of the song – her major label debut – earned Mae her first Juno nomination, for “Single of the Year” in 2016, which put her in direct competition against Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. From Mae’s new home in Toronto, only two days removed from a cross-Canada tour with Scott Helman, she spoke with Georgie about her sudden rise, working with Classified, stepping up as a voice for LGBTQ groups, and more. G—As you’ve discovered, you can make a lot of unexpected connections in a small town. But that can be a good thing because working with people who differ from you in their approach forces you to create from new perspectives. Do you ever have reservations about working with people who
Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so