Royal Canoe’s variability keeps fans happy

Upcoming shows will feature a cast of friends and collaborators

Matt Peters (left) and Matt Schellenberg of Royal Canoe.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Royal Canoe fans have cause to celebrate. The band's upcoming shows on Oct. 26 and 27 at the Park Theatre will feature songs never before played live. The band is always trying something new, and this performance will be no exception.

Members of the Dirty Catfish Brass Band, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and Begonia will join the band for both nights.

“I like the idea of this retrospective, or review, show. I think it will be fun,” Matt Peters, vocalist and keys player for Royal Canoe, says. The band has been a staple of the Winnipeg music scene for years and has grown to play with the likes of Alt-J.

Over the past few months, they have collaborated with the WSO for a show at the Centennial Concert Hall and with Begonia for a music video shot at a bike jam.

Sara Wray Enns, a Royal Canoe fan, says the performance with the WSO felt like “a personal win.”

“I felt like it was a personal victory that we went to that show and it was sold out,” she says. Enns has been following the band’s career since 2012 and says her dad may be their biggest fan.

Enns even won the opportunity to have Royal Canoe cook her and two friends dinner once.

The chance arose as a raffle prize at a Royal Canoe performance.

“I went to my dad and brother and said ‘We should pool and invite each other if we win,’ and they said no,” Enns says. When she won, she chose to invite friends instead of family.

The band says they make a point of doing things differently with their creative choices. The idea to shoot a music video at a bike jam came from Matt Schellenberg, who does keys and vocals.

“I was thinking, because the way that ‘Fussin’ sounded, it should have an urban environment,” Schellenberg says. “But how do we do that and make it us?”

Royal Canoe heads back into the studio on Nov. 10. This time, they’re experimenting with improvisation in their songwriting process.

“I’ve shifted to this place now where I feel if you don’t leave enough opportunity to be creative in the studio ... it becomes almost like a data processor,” Peters says.

“We’re trying to get away from that a bit on this album and (be) committed to something impulsive happening.”

Schellenberg refers to their process as “save-as” rock, due to how much they use their computer and record in their jam space.

“We are used to doing so much on the computer and being overly prepared. It’s going to be nice to get out of our comfort zone a bit,” Peters says.

Enns says she’s seen consistent improvement since first seeing the band at the University of Manitoba several years ago.

“Every single time I saw them ... they’d get better,” she says. She’s attended numerous Royal Canoe shows over the years, including ones at the University of Manitoba, Old Market Square, the Centennial Concert Hall and the Pyramid.

Published in Volume 72, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 19, 2017)

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