Vancouver-via-Toronto “queen of dark folk” gets a sonic charge
By Kristi Alexandra
There’s an old adage that warns us to “never meet your heroes.” While coming face-to-face with your musical idols can strike the wrong note for some of us (been there), the opposite couldn’t be more true for musician Skye Wallace.
The Canadian singer-songwriter was awe struck when she met fellow Canuck artist Jim Bryson at his show in Edmonton, but it didn’t stop her from approaching the veteran musician for advice.
Now Bryson is producing Wallace’s upcoming album, Something Wicked. Though the rock-charged folk record has no set release date (as of yet), Wallace has three singles out from the album, including the barn-burner “Blood Moon.”
“The Weakerthans are my favourite band of all time, and at the time Jim just released an album called The Falcon Lake Incident with them as his backing band. I was over the moon,” Wallace says of the 2010 collaboration.
“I went to their show and ended up meeting him there. [And now] we’ve been in contact for years. You know, it’s a pretty big deal to be working with him because I really love his music and everything that he’s done over the years.”
Like Bryson, Wallace’s music has been deeply mired in its Canadian roots. Her previous release, 2014’s Living Parts was an exploration into all things Canada: nature and history.
“I’d say [on] Living Parts, you can kind of get a historical context, especially the Canadian history,” she reveals.
“Just all the stories that you hear about, like for instance, the resettlement program in the Atlantic… the displacement of communities; centralizing the populations into the economic centres of the province. But within that you know there was still just that unemployment: people lost their homes, communities were completely uprooted. They lost like their way of life. There was a lot of sadness and a lot of hardship and a lot of stories that don’t often get told. That’s interesting to me because there’s so many stories, especially in a historical context that don’t get heard.”
Not only was the content of the album a dive into Canadiana, but the soundscapes created were taken from live recordings in Canadian open space: Toronto subway stations, the great outdoors, and her own living room.
“The sounds were taken from all around Canada, and a lot of improvisational work. It’s very lo-fi; very different,” she admits.
The upcoming Something Wicked boasts a heftier, more polished approach, she attests. What was once spare and experimental with her music is now beefed up with the help of backing instrumentation.
“There’s like a like a bit of an indie rock thing on this album,” Wallace says. “The reason why I initially was so down to work with Jim is because he had this idea of what my music needed that was right on track with what I was thinking. It’s by no means punk music, but there’s like a punk spirit that revolves around it. There’s this element of something that’s kind of like charged so I really think Jim’s work with that is benefiting the sound.”
Set to be released in the fall, Something Wicked promises rhythm-driven grooves amid powerful songwriting delivered with a voice that ranges from sweet dark balladry to primal punk scream.
To see Vancouver’s reigning “queen of dark folk” in action for yourself, check out her set this Saturday.
Skye Wallace performs Khatsalano! Street Festival this Saturday, July 9
Kristi Alexandra is an unabashed wino and wannabe musician. Her talents include drinking an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, singing in the bathtub, and falling asleep.