And the winner is… Manitoba

Artists and organizations represent the province well at WCMAs

Out of 24 artistic and six industry awards announced on Sept. 25 at the Western Canadian Music Awards, Manitobans came out on top, winning 11 and six awards, respectively, the most of any province. 

To accomplish such a feat, Ed Durocher from Apollo Suns and Rylie Saunders and Kevin Repay from The Village Idiots give some insight into just what it takes to come out on top.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Winner of the Instrumental Artist of the Year, Apollo Suns’ guitarist Ed Durocher attributes the band’s ever-evolving sound to the growth in each individual member and their rapport.

“The better the band gets, the better everyone has to play,” he says.

“We are all trying to keep up with each other, pushing each other in songwriting, creating fun and catchy melodies and making sure that the rhythm is good to dance to, which is fun for us. I feel that the energy and teamwork of the band is really tight right now, and we work really well together.”

Even as society continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Durocher says this will not stop them from getting better, and while it is a struggle sometimes to find motivation, they rely on each other to push through.

“We agreed that if we cannot be on the road for 100 dates to tour for this year and even next year, we all said, ‘let's go in the studio and start rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing, so that when we do come back, the shows are better and tighter,” he says.

“It is just about pushing forward, which is really hard to do right now. Every week, it is an up and down. Some days we feel good and positive, but other days, it is stressful, feeling like our lives are over and what we worked so hard for is now destroyed. But the next day, we say ‘no, we can do this.’”

It’s all about learning

Winner of the Impact in Music Marketing award, Kevin Repay of The Village Idiots says that when the group was formed in 2016, they used Facebook Live, a new technology at that time, as an opportunity to do something a little different in Winnipeg’s marketing industry.

“We did not have much expectations at that time, and we really did not have much technological skills or equipment,” he says.

“We literally took an iPhone, clicked ‘Go Live,’ and people seemed to like it. So we pledged to make every show better than the last, continue to shine the spotlight on Winnipeg music, and from there, it grew to what our business is now.”

Rylie Saunders agrees and says that what started out as a two-man team has quickly developed into a seven-member team that brings a whole new concept to their digital brand.

“Now, we have a team that is more committed to different creative content, helping us to market ourselves and the bands that we have been working with in different ways.”

With the pandemic now influencing a growth in digital consumption and usage, Saunders acknowledges that though The Village Idiots initially were groundbreakers in live-streaming in Winnipeg and are now well-versed in the area, they are still looking to reinvent themselves by trying and learning new things.

“We had a learning curve in the early stages. We are taking a bit of a learning curve through the pandemic and digital push,” he says.

“So we are watching and learning to put things together that are higher-quality and more active and engaging.”

Published in Volume 75, Number 04 of The Uniter (October 1, 2020)

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