New artists shine
Despite their recent introduction to the Juno stage, many of thisyear’s new group of the year nominees have been hard at work for yearsin local bars, festivals and production studios.
Despite their recent introduction to the Juno stage, many of this year’s new group of the year nominees have been hard at work for years in local bars, festivals and production studios.
Guitarist-vocalist Warren Spicer from Montreal-based, sprawling retro rockers Plants and Animals said his band has played together for seven years — despite only just releasing their full-length debut. During their incubation period, they carefully crafted Parc Avenue, an intricate, proggy roots-rocker that garnered nominations for a Polaris Music Prize and two Junos (new group of the year and best alternative album).
“(With Parc Avenue) we had no deadlines of any kind at all, and that allowed us to work at our own pace. I think that’s the strength of it,” he said. “(I think) it was good to let things take their time ... (when crafting the album, since) you notice things you weren’t able to detect right away.”
Beast’s Jean-Phi Goncalves felt the same way. He and vocalist Betty Bonifassi have worked in the industry for two decades: Goncalves as a producer for artists like Lauryn Hill and Bonifassi as a vocalist on projects like the animated film Triplets of Belleville. But unlike Plants and Animals, they developed their craft independent of each other, and played their first show together just a year ago at the Montreal International Music Initiative Awards.
“We say this album took us 20 years to make ... since everything we’ve ever learned in music and in life we put together in making this album,” said Goncalves. “We found it even more flattering and unexpected to see our nomination since we only released the record at the end of November — so we only had one-and-a-half months to prove it (was good).”
The big-beat inflected trip-hop duo’s hard work will pay off Sunday, when the pair join fellow new group of the year nominees The Stills, Cancer Bats and Crystal Castles in Vancouver — coincidently the day after Plants and Animals wraps up its tour.
“It’s a nice way to end a tour,” said Spicer. “The Junos was definitely something we didn’t expect — to be up there with Canadian rock royalty ... I think it’s great that the Junos recognize the independent indie labels, since that’s where a lot of the talent is now.”
This year’s new artist of the year nominees include Jessie Farrell, Crystal Shawanda, Kreesha Turner, Lights and Nikki Yanofsky.