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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

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Craig Silliphant
Published Thursday October 1, 06:34 pm
Getting pampered with Rosie and the Riveters

Photo Credit: Lisa Landrie


Friday 9

Broadway Theatre

Well take that, mister “I think I’m pretty clever” music writer guy. That guy would be me, by the way.

When I was getting ready to do an interview with Saskatoon all-female four-piece Rosie and the Riveters, I suggested doing it somewhere that would capture the playful spirit of the band. I thought they could take me vintage clothes shopping, to demonstrate how they choose the signature retro stage costume dresses that give them their look.

Turns out they’ve actually done that angle with some other media, but they loved the concept of having some fun — so they insisted on taking me for a pedicure. Hmm.

I was sure that pedicures were lovely for people who like that kind of thing, but I’d never done it before — and being a writer / weirdo type, having someone mess with my feet while I try to conduct business seemed a bit outside of my comfort zone. But so be it, I thought: This is for journalism! This is for music! I’ll make the sacrifice!

The next thing I know, I’m sitting with my feet in a warm bath (with jets!) and a chair massaging my back. Dear gawd, do I need to start doing all my interviews this way.

All four Riveters trickle into the downtown nail shop where we decided to meet: Farideh Olsen, Melissa Nygren, Allyson Reigh and Alexis Normand. They seem amused by seeing me so out of my element, but that could just be my crippling paranoia. Farideh Olsen sits to my right, feet in the soaker, with her new baby Paulina (the fifth Riveter?), and I ask her, “What’s changed musically for the band on your new album, Good Clean Fun?”

We are all singer/songwriters,” she says, “so we decided to write together. We’d never written together.”

The Riveters started out a few years back as what I’d call a secular gospel a capella group, mostly singing standards and classic songs in the vein of The Andrews Sisters. But on this new record they’ve branched out, both by hiring a full band and exploring other areas of songwriting.

Yeah, it’s a little wider-range,” says Olsen. “We went from the gospel to something that’s a little more us. And we didn’t want to write an album full of love songs. How would we talk about the values that are important to us? None of us really come from a gospel background, so we started exploring positivity or our love of thrift shopping or… our bee sanctuaries. Well, there’s only one bee sanctuary and it’s Melissa’s. The rest of us are terrified of bees.”

I just started raising bees this year,” Melissa Nygren explains. “I have two hives. Just getting started and there’s a lot to learn… So there’s a song on the record called ‘Honey Bee’. It’s sort of a day in the life of a bee. The feeling of a paradise where a bee can live happily. Maybe some environmental message.”

A friendly protest song?” I ask.

She’ll ‘bee’ the change she wants to see,” quips Olsen.

Speaking of change, though their process may have been altered with time, their master plan hasn’t. The name of the group comes from the famous wartime, now-feminist, icon, and these four women embody that spirit in the most constructive and upbeat ways. In fact, a portion of their earnings go to, an organization that gives microloans to women all over the world, helping them create their own businesses. Through this initiative, the band has supported about 90 women thus far.

Rosie the Riveter symbolizes women coming together to do something in the community,” says Olsen. “So that’s always been our motto or main goal. We’ve really stuck with that. Not only singing about positive, uplifting messages, but just… the whole feeling of our band is very positive and supportive.”

It is us trying to create opportunities for women to do something positive,” says Normand.

Rosie and the Riveters has a tour coming up to support the record, with a hometown gig at The Broadway Theatre — a great venue to see an act like this. They’ve been working hard on their set, but they’ve also added a host of new dance moves to make the show even more dynamic.

Everybody but me seems to have a little bit of a background in [dance],” says Olsen. “Once we spent a lot of time getting the songs down we thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we do some more work? Make it twice as hard.’ [The choreography] is a collaboration, just like our harmonies and our songs.”

Though I ended up with baby-soft feet instead of a window into their shopping process, the ladies tell me that the costume aspect of the show has also been ramped up — though they’re a bit mysterious about just what that means.

People are going to have to see it when they come to the concert,” says Olsen.

It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” chimes in Allyson Reigh.

It’s going to be a good show,” says Nygren. “That’s for sure.”



Saturday 10


He’s got a wonderfully quirky voice (it’s basically just twice removed from Wayne Coyne’s warble) and a perfectly indie look — which means it could be easy to write Kalle Mattson off as just one more kid singing lightweight songs about broken hearts. But you’d be wrong to do so — because the depth of Mattson’s songwriting helps him stand apart from all of those generic songsters.

His last album, Someday, The Moon will be Gold, has been covered favourably by US outlets from NPR and Pitchfork to Spin.

“I honestly don't know what any of that means though,” says Mattson . “I always feel like my career is moving forward, never backwards, but it's a tough thing to judge.”

Mattson’s new EP, Avalanche, continues his sound and soft fury, but it moves in a different direction than Someday, which carried ideas revolving around the emotional weight of Mattson finally dealing with the death of his mother. Avalanche is also a little more pop-focused than his previous, more folky work.

“It feels new,” Mattson says of Avalanche. “Someday was a very specific album with a specific story and context… and Avalanche feels like the next chapter for me in terms of my sound and songwriting. It's definitely more ‘pop,’ but I've always felt like I make some version of pop music. Lyrically I feel like I'm getting better at doing what I do; it's still me, it's still very personal, just an updated sound.” 

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