Fresh off a stint at the Big Fun Festival, local experimental folk act Yes We Mystic’s spirits aren’t as dampened as they might seem.
“We’ve definitely been referred to as a sad folk band before, but that doesn’t really capture all of it,” vocalist and guitarist Adam Fuhr says of Yes We Mystic’s sound, which is largely influenced by fellow Canadian acts, such as Aidan Knight.
“There’s triumph mixed in with the loss. There’s a lot of ups and downs to our music. We try to convey grandeur and sadness.”
Fuhr and band mates Keegan Steele (mandolin, ukulele, percussion, vocals), Solana Johannson (violin, vocals), Katherine Walker-Jones (banjo, bass) and Zachary Rempel (cello), have been playing together since 2011 under their current moniker, which was inspired by a slogan on a bus bench.
“Before the band had even started, Keegan came to me and said that he had seen the words Yes We Mystic on this bus bench,” Fuhr says. “We thought that that was pretty weird, and later when the group got together we thought it would make a good band name. Little did we know that it was a slogan for Fabutan.”
“We’re still satisfied with the name,” he adds. “As long as the first thing that jumps to peoples’ minds isn’t spray tans, but continues to be, like, a magical Neanderthal or whatever, we’re happy.”
The group has been enjoying playing live shows recently and hopes to record an EP later this year. Be sure to check out their next performance on Friday, Feb. 22 at the West End Cultural Centre as part of the Pickin’ on the Prairies showcase.
To help chase away those winter blues, here are Yes We Mystic’s five favourite sad songs:
Motion Picture Soundtrack
“The first time I listened to this song, I thought, ‘Wow, this is so beautiful. It’s so happy,’ and I think that happens to a lot of people the first time that they hear it,” Walker-Jones says. “But when you take the time to figure out what the heck Thom Yorke is saying, it’s really, truly heartbreaking.”
Adagio for Strings
“It’s a classical piece, and in that way it’s hard to tell what was in Sam Barber’s head when he composed it,” Fuhr says. “But when I listen to it I can’t help seeing images of war scenes played in slow motion and old men looking at themselves in the mirror wishing that they were young again.”
“I actually got to play this piece with the Winnipeg Youth Symphony Orchestra a couple of years ago and I was near tears while on stage,” Johannson adds.
“The feelings of sadness Basket fills us with are so grand in scope because the song itself covers a lifetime - from the first sparks of romance to the eventual loss of a life partner,” Walker-Jones says. “If the subject itself weren’t sombre enough, Dan Mangan’s passionate voice ups the sad, and it just pierces right through my soul.”
“It’s like the first five minutes of (the movie) Up captured in a song,” Fuhr adds.
“Wintersleep has created something here which causes me to look at totally normal, happy people and feel little pangs of pain,” Fuhr says. “It speaks to our great fears, not just of failure, but of failure disguised as success, and it scares the shit out of me.”
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
“OK, it’s not really a sad song at all,” Fuhr says. “But I defy you to watch the music video and tell me what the hell is going on. Look it up.”
Published in Volume 67, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 21, 2013)