Dane Bjornson released his first album when he was 12 years old. Almost 10 years later, he has released his follow-up album, Wondering.
This marks a mature rebranding of the musician, who has been performing since he was nine years old. His first gig was at the Greendell Community Centre, performing at a family day event. He went on to open for bands Down With Webster in 2011 and Said the Whale in 2012.
Shortly after that, he released his first album, Lucky Day, and competed on YTV’s music competition show The Next Star and its follow-up, The Next Star: Supergroup. Bjorson, along with band members Parker Schmidt, Adam Hunter, Bradley Martinez and Zee Peters formed Electric Avenue, which received second place in the Supergroup competition.
Since then, he has developed more of an alto voice and has collaborated with Winnipeg musician Featherfall.
“You can tell he has that theatre background of ‘yes, and.’” Featherfall says. “He will run with an idea and explore it to its full potential. With our song “Limelight,” I sent him rough lyrics and a simple melody, and he turned (it) into a killer hook in just a few days.”
Bjornson studies music recording and production at MacEwan University in Edmonton, where he recorded large portions of his album of music initially written in 2018.
“It ended up being between four different studios with five different engineers, 12 different musicians and between two different cities, Edmonton and Winnipeg,” Bjorson says. “I used the isolation and the quarantine to my advantage.”
This new album demonstrates the maturation of the experienced musician, as he delves into darker material in songs like “Addicted” and “Battle Scars,” while also seeing a little light in “Everyone’s Sun.”
“To me, his musical-theatre roots really show. Each song is about telling a story first and foremost. So beyond the stunning harmonies and instrumentation, it all serves the story and the emotional state of those in it,” Featherfall says, referring to Bjorson’s performance history with Rainbow Stage in their 2010 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
This album also marks a shift in genre from his pop-rock roots. “In very recent years, I’ve started listening to more funk and R&B. There is a lot of influence from funk bands like Melt and Lawrence, with their implementation of horns and woodwinds and big brass sections,” Bjornson says. Benjamin Hill (trombone) and Fred Warner (trumpet) from Apollo Suns appear on the album.
Bjornson hopes to tour with the album across the Prairies or rural Manitoba. He plans to release a few more singles and music videos from the album. He filmed a music video for “Addicted” in summer of 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were more relaxed.
“Once concerts (are) around again, I would love to do a big CD release party at the Park Theatre or at the Good Will,” he says.
Wondering is available on all streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.
Published in Volume 75, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 13, 2021)