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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Front And Centre

Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday January 22, 05:31 pm
Acronyms is now much more than a side project

Saturday 24

A few years ago, I started noticing a second (or third or fourth) generation of Saskatoon bands that were forming as side projects, or from the ashes of previous acts on the scene. I started referring to them as local supergroups, but a few years (and more than a few supergroups) later, that designation started to feel trite and clichéd to me. It’s a small city, which leads to an incestuous scene of sorts, so we’re bound to have crossovers.

Acronyms is the latest band that I refuse to call a supergroup, though it’s composed of members of Castle River, Pirate Fridays, Gunner & Smith and Young Benjamins.

“The scene has become so vibrant and everyone is so welcoming, at least from my experience, [when you want] to play new music with different musicians,” says Acronyms bass player Brynn Krysa. “It isn’t hard to get incestuous, so to say, with the music. We’ve been referred to as a supergroup a couple of times, but I don’t know.”

Acronyms may have started as a side project, but it was a long time in the making; Krysa went to elementary school with fellow members Adan Lemus and Tyson Goodyear, and they met Billy Tataryn on the all-ages scene around the time they were in high school. As they hit their teenage years, a few of the members bonded over shows, which also informed their drive to be a part of the scene.

“I remember Louis’ — Adan and I would go to every single Volcanoless in Canada show when they were still 16-plus. I remember sneaking in when we were 15 years old to 16-plus shows to see Volcanoless in Canada and From Chimpan-A to Chimpan-Z. It definitely inspired me. I’ve played with musicians who really inspired me — who still inspire me — and it’s really cool when those moments happen.”

This inspiration grew into using DIY methods of taking matters into their own hands, fostering the all-ages scene themselves.

“When we were about 17 or 18, we started booking the Cosmo Seniors’ Centre and getting all these underage musicians together and asking their bands to play for a bunch of rowdy teenagers,” laughs Krysa.

Back in those days, each member of Acronyms played live music, but never all together at once.

“Adan and Billy, a few years ago, planted the idea of the four of us playing together and we all loved the idea of it,” says Krysa. “But then Adan got accepted into Emily Carr in Vancouver, and right when we were close to getting it going he moved away. When he was back at Christmas we’d jam, and for a while the three of us here would try and put something together to send to him with a shitty iPhone recording or something. He’d put a part together and send it back. It was tough to really get things going and motivated, because it was so broken up for a couple of years there.”

But the stars seemed to align after all those years when Lemus took a semester off from school and the band got a writing grant from the Sask Arts Board. What started as a side project was now something they could take more seriously. Out of that good fortune, Acronyms is releasing a seven-track EP called SIMPLECOMPLEX, that was recorded with S.J. Kardash. The tracks I previewed are an interesting amalgamation of some of the bands these musicians come from: guitar-driven, indie rock with art rock-ish angular riffs and sometimes quirky time signatures.

“We don’t limit ourselves to anything,” says Krysa. “We like to take chances with our music. I think we all have different elements we bring and we’re not afraid to share our ideas. ”

Acronyms will unveil SIMPLECOMPLEX on Jan. 24th at Amigos, with opener Mario LePage and an accompanying projection and lightshow from Jay Neufeld.

“[Neufeld] has some really cool new software that he’s excited to use and we’re excited to see,” says Krysa. “He’ll be decorating Amigos with some cool stuff.”

Thursday 29

Edmonton’s Tropic Harbour is the soundtrack to that dream you had last night — when sunlight hit your face in the morning, you smiled with elation, while at the same time feeling a vague tinge of sadness. You can’t remember what the dream was about; it’s all a bit fuzzy. All you can grasp is that the soundtrack featured someone that sounded like Morrissey singing forlornly through the narrative of your dreamscape.

At 26 years of age, Tropic Harbour (a.k.a. Mark Berg) considers himself to be a late starter when it comes to music. He took piano lessons when he was young, but sloughed it off at every chance because he hated the theory that went along with it.

“My dad owned a rad Norman acoustic guitar that was always lying around,” he says. “So when I was 16 I started picking it up and learning songs that I wanted to learn. Around four years ago I went to school for guitar, which was definitely beneficial. But I’m so happy to be out of it now and just doing my own thing. This project just began with me messing around with sounds and recording ideas, until I found something that sounded good to me.”

At the moment you can’t pick up his record, but you can search it out on Bandcamp.

“I should have had some a while back,” Berg says, “but pressing plants seem to be so backlogged right now. So I’m still waiting for my vinyl to come out.”

Much of the music that you’ll eventually be able to listen to on Tropic Harbour’s record was composed and laid down as bedroom recordings, but the live version you’ll experience when Tropic Harbour hits Vangelis is a different animal.

“Right now I’m playing with a four-piece band for the live setup, which I love,” says Berg. “I find it way more fun to play with other human beings instead of just samplers and drum machines. I think dreamy music has a certain energy level of its own; you may not be dancing like crazy, but you can definitely zone out and let yourself move to it. Having a live band that gets into it definitely contributes to setting the mood.”  

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