Saskatoon Rock City

We Were Lovers is just one of the great bands that call Saskatchewan home

There’s a Bloc Party b-side called “We Were Lovers.” 10 scene points to any and all Uniter readers who knew that before reading this cutline. Shannon Myers

For most Canadians, Saskatchewan brings to mind but few things: painfully long, boring drives; farmer’s fields; tractors; the astonishing flatness; and bad jokes about an unfortunately named city.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before catchy and unique indie rock is added to that list. Saskatoon’s We Were Lovers are certainly doing everything in their power to make Canada, and the world, sit up and listen to the sounds coming out of the province in the middle of the prairies.

“The music scene in Saskatchewan… is really, really great,” lead singer Elsa Gebremichael said by phone recently. “Lately it’s been flourishing and drawing a lot of attention.”

Notable Saskatchewan exports include metal quintet Into Eternity; post-punk rockers Ghosts of Modern Man and Sylvie; and now-defunct metalcore four-piece Means.

Gebremichael said the attention Saskatchewan bands have been getting is due to the diverse and original sounds bands are making there.

“I actually don’t think I can take two bands and say they sound alike. With Regina and Saskatoon I think we all have unique qualities and things that make us special, different and awesome.”

If I’m going to be completely honest I feel like the start of the band really only happened six months ago.

Elsa Gebremichael, We Were Lovers

We Were Lovers have been busy perfecting their sugary yet angular brand of indie rock since 2007, fulfilling what can only be called pipe dreams for many bands. After releasing their debut EP The Break Up in April 2008, the band played at the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMAs) in Edmonton.

If that weren’t enough, We Were Lovers was also featured in CMJ magazine’s monthly compilation CD. The band is about to embark on its first tour, which will see them cross Canada before heading to Austin, Texas to play at the coveted South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

Gebremichael attributes these opportunities to the WCMAs.

“That’s kind of when the ball started rolling and all these positive things started happening. If I’m going to be completely honest I feel like the start of the band really only happened six months ago.”

Indeed, in its short career, We Were Lovers have already achieved more than most bands could ever hope. And they’ve done it all without the help of a label. Gebremichael manages the band, handling booking, publicity and all things business related, a job she said is “incredibly time consuming,” considering she still has to work full-time.

“It’s kind of hard to balance the WWL work aspect and my job that actually pays the bills because I ultimately want to stay at home on the computer all day so I can promote the band and do things that will better the band,” she said. “But, I also need to eat and pay rent and live, so it’s kind of a love/hate relationship with both jobs right now.”

“But [ultimately] I love the WWL ‘job,’ if you want to call it that.”

Published in Volume 63, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 5, 2009)

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