One half of the Manitoba duo talks about the virtues of both NXNE and the music scene back home.
Forget compasses, GPS, or helpful Sherpas. From June 11 to 17, Torontoist is here to be your guide to everything NXNE.
Winnipeg may not be known as a musical mecca, but with exports like Mise En Scene, the city is definitely establishing an increasingly favourable reputation. Featuring the honey-voiced vocals of Stefanie Blondal Johnson and the nimble drumming of Jodi Dunlop, the band comes to NXNE in advance of their soon-to-be-released first full-length album. We interviewed Blondal Jonson by email.
Torontoist: What can we expect from your show at NXNE?
Stefanie Blondal Johnson: You can expect the usual high-energy rock and roll performance from us, and an awesome, awesome, awesome line-up for the Pipe and Hat [a Winnipeg record label] showcase. It’s going to be super fun, with lots of diverse talent. We have the pleasure of playing with some amazing bands from all over the world, and a very surprising and exciting secret guest.
What has been your favourite moment from one of your shows so far?
As it stands now, I think it would have to be our showcase at the Banff Centre, for the Indie Band Residency. That place is full of amazing and inspiring people. After two weeks of recording, we finished it all off with an awesome show with the Ambramson Singers, Doldrums and Chad Vangaalen to a sold-out crowd. It was a perfect way to end an incredible experience.
How does the songwriting process typically work between the two of you?
Songwriting usually happens one of two ways for us. I have a big book with tons of lyrics and ideas in it and I’ll usually bring an idea to practice and then we develop the song together. Every song is so different, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it happens. Other times we’ll just be jamming in our space, and we’ll get something we really like, so we’ll just go with it.
Do you feel that Winnipeg has a healthy and supportive music community at the moment?
Yes. The population is obviously smaller, but it doesn’t lack in quality of music and performers. Manitoba Music is a fantastic support for musicians as well. They offer tons of learning opportunities to Manitoba musicians and bring in industry professionals for seminars and showcases. Good stuff.
How important do you think festivals like NXNE are in helping artists?
I think it is important to play outside of your hometown and with many different artists that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to play with. It’s also super important to network and get to know the people in the industry. Festivals like NXNE provide that kind of opportunity.
What are your plans for the band?
We are almost ready to release our first full-length album. We are super excited for this. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some really great producers from all over Canada and the States. We’re also getting ready for a Western tour set to go in the fall.
What acts are you excited to see at NXNE?
We really want to catch the Smith Westerns, Sigrun Stella, Kim Churchill, and our friends the Noble Thiefs. Super bummed that we won’t get a chance to see Oberhofer on Saturday, since we have to fly back early to attend another festival.