Yes We Mystic, the Winnipeg-based indie pop ensemble, recently celebrated their five-year anniversary at the West End Cultural Centre. With three releases and a European tour under their belt, the group has a lot to celebrate.
When they first started, co-founder Adam Fuhr says the music project was just for fun after his high school band with Keegan Steele had broken up, and the two weren’t ready to give up on music just yet.
“I feel like they took almost every right step to forming a better band. It seems like every year they find a new way to legitimize their band and legitimize their music,” Alex Kohut says.
Kohut had been in the high school band with Fuhr and Steele but moved onto his own creative projects. In the last five years, he says he has attended many Yes We Mystic shows and seen his friends mature as artists, finding a more robust sound.
“It’s a lot more full, it’s a lot more calculated, a lot more experimental,” he says. “It just feels a lot more like a professional indie band.”
Fuhr says they’ve added elements from each member of the now five-piece band’s musical taste and made it into a cohesive sound.
The priority is to not forget where it all started, though. Steele and Fuhr keep a recognizable core sound through their albums.
As a result, Fuhr says they have been able to build up a loyal fan base.
“I think part of it is the fact that the basics of the songwriting are the same. That’s the thing I really, really look for in other bands,” he says.
He cites Bon Iver as an artist who keeps things fresh from album to album, but who still has an identifiable style.
“At the end of the day, you sit down with an acoustic guitar and you’d know who wrote those songs,” he says. “I know there’s other bands that when they try to update their sound, also the way they write songs changes, and that drives me totally nuts.”
Kohut credits Steele and Fuhr as providing that common thread.
“Between the two of them, I think they’ve kept a vision for the sound they want to achieve and how they want to approach music,” he says. “Lyrically, Keegan is probably one of the best lyricists I’ve ever met.”
Kohut says because he has the privilege of knowing the band members personally, he knows the backstories for a few songs.
“A lot of my favourite songs from all of their releases are of real-life things that have happened to them,” Kohut says. He admires how they’re able to shape these experiences into something poetic and meaningful.
On the process of becoming a professional band, Fuhr says the last five years have not been without their growing pains. But, he adds, looking back, it has all been worth it.