Updated: Oct 16, 2021
by Will Yannacoulias Photos By Contingent Colours Photography
The Dump Babes, billed as a chill, dreamy psychedelic folk-rock experience, have been garnering praise in Saskatoon’s indie music scene for much of the last year. Singer/guitarist Aurora Wolfe, bassist Jill Mack, drummer Eric MacNeill, and guitarist Derek Ferrier delivered a six song EP in February and were preparing to perform all spring and summer in support of the project before pandemic safety measures abruptly shut everything down. This past September we talked to Wolfe at home in Saskatoon about the roots of the band and what the future has in store.
Dump Babes was born when Wolfe and Ferrier met at popular Saskatoon venue The Capitol. Between Wolfe’s bartending shifts, both were performing on open mike nights. Ferrier was sometimes playing with bassist Jill Mack and invited Wolfe to join them. Wolfe is in a relationship with drummer Eric MacNeill, so “it all just came together very organically”. Despite playing one gig as Bob Carburetor and the Super Fast Pontiacs, Dump Babes was born.
Wolfe brought her compositions to the band, who immediately started work on transforming them into complete songs. “I wrote most of them when I was 18 or 19. I’d been playing solo for quite a while and I just had all these songs” she explained. “They’re all folk songs and translating that into a rock band is a little weird, kind of difficult, but everyone just rolled with it. I’d bring a song to the band and they’d play it however they want to, take it in the direction they want to. Sometimes we were talking about the rhythms of the song, like we wanted to sound like we’re at the beach, or we wanted to sound like we’re on a train. It ended up working out pretty well.”
The songs Wolfe brought, along with songs written by Ferrier, became the Dump Babes EP, released February 12, 2020. The six track effort is first and foremost a songwriting showcase. Personal, reflective lyrics and memorable melodies are delivered in Wolfe’s strong, effortless voice, sometimes cheeky, sometimes heartbreaking, but never contrived. Though there are occasional forays into psychedelic jams, the songs are generally focused, sparsely arranged to perfectly support and showcase the writing.
Eric MacNeill and Jill Mack make an excellent rhythm duo. Mack’s bass playing is groovy and complex; she completely drives several tracks, allowing the dual guitars to come and go, which is key to the spacious, relaxed feel of the Dump Babes’ sound. MacNeill is an old fashioned ‘less is more’ drummer; his light, airy shuffle gives the songs lots of room to breathe, and he’s gifted with a perfect sense of when to step up or ease off, deftly controlling the energy of a song.
Co-songwriter Derek Ferrier’s lead guitar style is fundamental to the Dump Babe’s sound; he provides accent and colour throughout the songs, complimenting Wolfe’s vocal melodies with subtle, perfectly placed runs. Ferrier really shines on the last two tracks on the EP, providing non-stop blues-rock swagger throughout “She’s Gone” and moody, yearning shades of David Gilmour on “Fear”.
The EP was self recorded, with Mack and Ferrier handling production. “We recorded it all in Jill’s basement. Derek and Jill mastered and mixed the entire thing.” Mack, who works professionally as a sound technician, “has been recording lots of people, she’s been doing Go Bwah, she did some stuff with Ellen Froese.”
Dump Babes were looking forward to using the star-crossed summer of 2020 to perform for local music fans as much as possible. “We were going to play Gateway, Chesterfest, Manitou Boogaloo, Regina Folk Fest and Nightshirt. Every single weekend in July.” Not willing to let the summer slip away for the band, Wolfe workshopped and emerged from isolation armed with new material “I just finished writing, we’re gonna start practicing a bunch and hopefully we can start recording in October. We’re recording a single at the end of September so that’ll be exciting. The new album is quite different. There’s still some folk-y tunes but I tried to write way outside of my comfort zone. We have a funk song on it, we wanted to explore different things, punk influences, a mish mash.”
The forthcoming single from the new album will be accompanied by a music video. Having recorded their debut album themselves, it should come as no surprise what they have planned for the upcoming video. “We’re gonna do it ourselves. D.I.Y is kind of our M.O.”
Two albums of original material, a music video, and a ton of club and festival dates; the Dump Babes first year has been a prolific one, highlighting the hard work and enthusiasm of the band. It will be exciting to follow these Babes as they continue to grow.
Aurora Wolfe’s recommended artists
The Faps from Saskatoon
Whoop-szo from Ontario