culture.

Carmanah: Come Take a Journey

Q & A with Carmanah's Laura Mina Mitic

Kristy O'Regan / 22 May 2019

If you have never heard of Carmanah, you certainly will be introduced. They are a local group from Victoria who have travelled far and played with big names such as K.D. Lang, Ziggy Marley and the like. Let’s take a journey courtesy of Carmanah.

Vancouver’s Daily Hive have said they are a “BC musician to watch out for.”

If you have never heard of Carmanah, you certainly will be introduced. They are a local group from Victoria who have travelled far and played with big names such as K.D. Lang, Ziggy Marley and the like.

Not only are they a grassroots band, they are literally grass root, fueling their tour vehicle with used vegetable oil acquired from restaurants during their travels, lessening their ecological footprint consistent with their values.

Let’s take a journey courtesy of Carmanah.

Speak in Rhythms: The Album

This album has been described as “overflows with emotion, afterhours cool, groove and tantalizing hints of gritty vintage flavours that influence its modern sound.”

Here’s my take:

Opening track “Roots” is very earthy, and bluesy. Take a look at their music video to really understand what I mean. I won’t give any detail, except that the video is well crafted to the message of the track itself.

Get It Together” is upbeat (not to be stereotypical). This would be perfect in a cliché romantic moment in a film, the one where all the lights are dim, and it’s just the two of them dancing close together, having a moment. One of those tracks that the lyrics may not be exactly romantic at first listen, but really grips you in, making you want to sway. 

“You Deserve More” is something out of the 50’s, with edgy lyrics and Laura’s soft voice taking you into the depth of your inner self. Telling you, the listener, “you deserve more.” Her voice in this track reminds me that of Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, soft, yet demanding your attention, piercing its way into your soul and settling there, lingering, holding you tightly.

Carmanah’s sound is a fusion of colours and light, each track taking you by the hand and leading you off on a journey. I would go far as to say they have a 50’s sound (vintage) that gently blends into modern jazzy blues folk undertones catching your attention and holding it until you realize the album is finished playing and you want to go back and play it again. 

This is one local group you must check out. Regardless, of the genre you’re into.

Speaking to Laura

How did you guys get started?

I met Pat Ferguson (lead guitar, singer and songwriter) at the first Tall Tree Music Festival back in 2010. We were both playing music around a lantern (since fires were not allowed) and connected musically right away. The next day we were invited onto the stage to perform a song together. After this we decided that the next plan of action was to start a band. Carmanah has had an eclectic and wonderful roster of musicians join us over the past eight years. Our current lineup features Mike Baker on keys and Graham Keehn on drums, both of whom are incredibly talented and have given a lot of love to this project.

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Carmanah - Photo courtesy Kelsey Lageri

Where did your name come from?

We chose the Carmanah after creating a long list of potential band names that we felt honoured our connection to the west coast. The Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is a stunning and irreplaceable old growth forest on Vancouver Island, a few hours out of Victoria. As we carry this powerful namesake with us, we continue to learn more about the land and its history. In the late 1980’s the area was almost decimated by logging. Communities members, including indigenous peoples, environmentalists and activists, stood up and demanded that the trees be saved from clearcutting. Parts of this forest are still at risk of being logged and multiple organizations (ex: Ancient Forest Alliance) continue to fight to protect it.

What is it like opening for acts like Ziggy Marley, K.D. Lang and Moby? How do they treat you and have they given you any advice?

It’s awesome. We’ve been very fortunate to share the stage with some incredible artists. My personal favourite was performing as a solo artist for two nights, opening for K.D Lang at the Royal Theatre in Victoria. She was humble and kind. The entire crew was welcoming and there were zero chips on shoulders. Playing for two sold-out crowds at the gorgeous Royal Theatre, of course, also rocked. Definitely a cherished memory.

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Carmanah - Photo courtesy Kelsey Lageri

What are your plans for the future? Do you hope to break into the mass market of music, or are you comfortable where you are at currently?

We have a very busy summer coming up with festivals on most weekends. I’ve been writing new songs since the release of our album Speak in Rhythms back in March 2018, so the gears are in motion for a new recording session to start in the next few months as well. Our goal is to make a career in music while balancing it with an enjoyable lifestyle. We hope to continue to grow into the Canadian music scene and beyond. Tour life can be tough but it’s also so exciting and special to be out on the road with your friends, meeting new people and sharing your art. Each day is different, and I think we all really love that. It’s an amazing way to see this land. Plus, we are making a tour bus that runs on used vegetable oil to make the journey more comfortable, while trying to tread a little lighter on the planet.

What advice would you give to musicians and artists starting out?

Be true to yourself and don’t get carried away with song writing that caters to the current trends. If your music is genuine you will find your audience and they will love you for who you are. On a similar note, try to remember that your songs come first, and your Instagram account comes… well, way further down the list. Put down your phone and pour your love into your music. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a wonderful tool, but it can also be a downer. You are wonderful so show the world that through your music, first and foremost. Also, bring your own water bottles to the gig and, when applicable, request a plastic-free artist rider backstage.

Visit: https://carmanahband.ca/

Facebook: Carmanah Band

Twitter: Carmanah Band

YouTube:  Carmanah

Kristy O'Regan / smltwnwriter@hotmail.com

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