Building a community one member at a time

Garden Punk Act The Help Wanteds Hits Ozzys

Wanda Wilson wanted more than a solo project, she wanted to build a community.

A decade ago she had the idea for her project - the gritty and honest Help Wanteds - but didn't start playing under the name until 2008. Starting out with a revolving cast of drummers (Scott is officially in the mix now), the duo comes off sounding more like a fleshed-out band.

"I was living up north (Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas) and where I was at that point in my life I knew that I was too vulnerable to go out looking for bandmates," Wilson says. "The idea was that I was the nucleus of the project and for separate different tracks I would invite other musicians into song projects. This would be the idea of 'the help wanteds;' meaning I was in a way putting up my own 'help wanted' sign. I thought that maybe this was a way I could start a 'garden punk band.'"

The garden punk concept is simple yet profound - DIY musicians mixed in with seeds from the music community. It's very Winnipeg, and so is isolation. Wilson notes that all she needs to get creative is a nice big pot of tea and some privacy.

"Over the years I have learned that my surroundings or space is key," she says. "My surrounding has the ability to put me into a zone for whatever it is I am writing about. It's kind of funny but even the posters, colour of the walls, smells, and the lighting in the room is important to me because I get in tune with everything around me when I write."

It's that attention to detail that Wilson plans to bring to future recordings. Keeping things rough around the edges is an aesthetic for some, but for The Help Wanteds it's about being honest.

"Sometimes I feel like we are in the days of perfect-ism," she says. "I myself am not perfect, and I have other things to attend to like embracing the imperfections of beauty, art and everyday life."

For Wilson it's not about achieving a perfect “radio ready” sound, but the path that takes her to the end product.

"My way may be the wrong way to some but it is a stepping stone towards learning, growing and taking a shot at something that keeps my mind busy, my time well spent, my heart intact. It's my way and I get excited when people take interest and I hope my way will encourage someone and maybe even help give lift off to someone's ideas, whether it would be through art, music, healing or life in general."

Check out The Help Wanteds with Martin R. Howell and Niblo at Manitoba Music’s New Music Wednesday on January 7 at Ozzy’s. Cover is $3 and the show starts right at 8:30pm. Visit for more information.

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