By Mark Allard-Will
There’s one constant in this world, and one only: Change. That’s the lesson that 2020 laid at our feet, raw and immutable as far as facts are concerned. This has been no different for musicians, who have seen their fair share of adaptations to the “new normal”. However, there is a constant that sails free of the tides of change and that is that new music is still being released.
This is what brings us to The Velvet Threads, a homegrown Canadian Rock band from our very Saskatoon; but what makes 2020 more trepidatious and unknowing for these prairies performers is that this release is their debut. The quartet has handled it with nothing but gusto and abundant quality, however; putting together a debut self-titled EP that has the sound presence and crisp performance and recording quality of a big label band with ten times as many releases under their belts.
The Velvet Threads stand out by a country mile, or perhaps a prairie horizon, in Saskatoon’s music scene. In a scene littered with Doom Rock bands and that Arkells-light garage Indie Rock sound, a female fronted band with the lightly distorted, tangy guitars of modern Blues, the drumming reminiscent of Arena Rock energy and a deep, emotive vocal range reminiscent of Soul and Motown provided by singer Kate Fyrk, the band really shine from amid that atypic Saskatoon sound.
But what inspires such a sound? “I think if you asked every member of the band this question, you would get entirely different answers as to who inspires their music. We all have strong blues influences; a few lean towards rock more than others, some towards funk, but for myself, it’s all about R&B and the blues. However, as a whole, I feel we take inspiration from many bands with strong female leads.” Said Kate Fyrk, of the band’s iconic sound.
While being on November 28th to the public, the EP itself was recorded in November of 2019 at the city’s very own Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon. Laying down takes over and over again, crammed in an intimate and close knit space such as a recording studio with your band mates invariably leads to moments that are memorable. Speaking of one such moment, Kate noted: “My favorite stand out moment would have been when we recorded 'Don't Worry About Me' at RAIS recording studio. It's a sassy song that exudes energy, so we decided to record all the vocals together, and it worked out perfectly! We were really feeding off one another's energy; Trent really nailed the guitar near the end of this song too, which really puts you in the dancing mood. The energy was truly unmatched that day. Even thinking about it now makes me laugh, to record all the vocals and everything all together like that was thrilling and hilarious. We had lots of laughs, jumping and dancing around and really feeling it! One big silly group with no care in the world, mind you this was before the pandemic so we truly had nothing to worry about.”
The band had planned a special live EP release show, complete with live performance, at The Capitol for November 28th in accordance with the club’s adherence to the social distancing measures and the province’s mask mandate. However, more recent changes to the province’s health guidelines meant that the show unfortunately had to be cancelled. Speaking to these changing times we find ourselves in, Kate had the following to say of what it’s like releasing music in 2020: “It's been interesting to say the least! We were pretty lucky to have recorded the EP in November of 2019 before the pandemic hit. Our original EP release show was scheduled in March of 2020, but it was cancelled like many other great local events happening in our province at that time. We know we aren't the only group affected by the pandemic, but it was still disappointing, you know? You work so hard and make something you're really proud of, just to see the whole project get derailed. Then all the uncertainty surrounding the events, the constant changing of rules, it's been hectic!”
Before committing their sound to record, The Velvet Threads have a long history of playing live events across our beautiful province. When asked what her favourite memory of playing to a Saskatchewan audience was, Kate had this to say: “One that really stands out to me is when we played Backwardsness, a festival put on by the wonderful people at the Ness Creek Music festival site. It is set up so the artist(s) and crowd are both on the stage with the band on one end, and the crowd taking up the rest of the area. So, the event itself was held entirely on the stage and the area right behind it, which would normally be considered "back stage," hence the name Backwardsness. I remember having the best time playing a song of ours titled I Won't Be Leaving. It is a real stompin’ tune, or as Cam likes to say, “a barn burner,” and every one was so into it! People were stomping, and jumping up and down to the rhythm so aggressively that the whole stage shook and was bouncing with the motion of the crowd! I remember grabbing the mic stand at one point for fearing it might fall over. It was really a moment I don't think I'll forget.”
Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the band’s self-titled EP release show, the release will still find a way to go ahead, as many things have in the constant revolving door of changes that 2020 has presented us with. For The Velvet Threads that means the EP will still be released on all major digital platforms, where we’d implore you to go and seek out; your ears will thank you for the experience.
*Kate on chair courtesy of Owen Woytowich Photography
*All other pics courtesy of Little Jack Films