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The Radiant Welcomed Back To The Madness

Updated: May 13, 2023

By Will Yannacoulias

Photos by Contingent Colours

One of the feel-good stories to come out of the last year and a half was the announcement that The Radiant are scheduled to rock the Saturday Afterhours stage at Chester Fest. In March 2020 the band impressed at the Chester Fest auditions, only days before everything in the Saskatchewan music community came to a halt. The band patiently waited, wrote a new album, and 'Hit The Ground Running' as soon as live music returned. NSMZ spoke with Mikhaila Anderson, founder of The Radiant, about the band’s roots, identity and upcoming album.

The Radiant are the third group NSMZ has interviewed from the dynamic Kindersley alternative music scene, alongside The Basement Paintings and Curtwood Bearsman. Anderson explained that “we all live in Saskatoon but the majority of us in The Radiant are from Kindersley, grew up and went to school there”. Anderson, keyboardist Mike Reece, guitarist Paul Hillacre and bassist Evan Knouse all tie the group back to the Kindersley music community. “I think, for me, it all started at ’Grilledcheeseapalooza’” Anderson laughed. “It was a music festival which that group of friends was putting on and we all just slowly started playing music together from there. Those guys have been playing together forever, I looked up to them in high school. When you have the chance to become friends with people you admire you definitely take it!”

The group formed by Anderson, originally called Soft Cotton, released one LP of contemplative guitar-driven alternative rock, 2017’s Dark Disco. “We’ve really evolved since then” reflected Anderson on the band’s ever-changing sound. “Soft Cotton was definitely more folk acoustic songs arranged for a complete band. We started to become more psychedelic, more cohesive, and decided around 2018 to change the band name.” Rechristened The Radiant, the group’s more aggressive, experimental sound was explored on their self-titled 2019 EP and their 2020 single Project Mastermind. When asked if the new single was a sample of a forthcoming new album, Anderson excitedly assured us that “it’s definitely foreshadowing an album. We have all our songs ready to go to record an EP. We’re hoping for a spring or summer release, make the most of the time we’ve got, release it well, do it justice. As different as our first EP was from Soft Cotton, this one has seen our sound evolve even more, we’ve grown into ourselves, and really had fun with it.”

Collectively the band took some time in the last year to write new material but also took some personal time. Anderson shared that “we took that time to take a break and look inside ourselves and find individually ‘what am I enjoying in my life’? Before the shutdown we had played 25 shows over a one year stretch, and as wonderful as that was, we never took the time to get inspired and write new stuff. Even when we came back to writing music we had a couple songs, but felt stuck, like we couldn’t move forward. We decided to go on a

band camping trip, we came back and the next day we started writing again. I think we all needed time alone to connect with ourselves, connect together and be able to be creative again.” The camping trip was also a good opportunity to connect with new drummer Jordan Ahmed. “Our original drummer, Brady Kirwin, decided he wanted to start a family and go back to school, all that beautiful stuff” Anderson disclosed. “We’ve taken on a new drummer in the last year, Jordan, and he’s worked out great. As a band we’ve known each other for sixteen years, so to bring someone who doesn’t know us that well on that trip was interesting. I thought ‘lets all just go take our walls down for a hot minute and get to know each other in a different scenario’.”

The long journey to the Chester Fest stage will finally culminate Friday September 11th, when The Radiant shares after hours duty with legendary Calgary party band The Dudes. “We applied for it a couple years in a row” Anderson said of Chester Fest. “We weren’t even sure what was going to come of that. We felt that we had an awesome audition and were super excited to be invited this year without having to audition again. To see that we’re playing with The Dudes on that After Hours stage is so cool. We’re just thrilled to be back on stage and playing for audiences. Joel and Kayanna seem to be knocking it out of the park, everyone I’ve spoken to about Chester Fest has said it was a good time.”

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