For Andy Sheppard, founder of the experimental pop group Find the Others, making music is all about connecting with the listener.
“It’s really just wanting to inspire some feeling to well up,” he says from his home studio in Bluewater. “You can’t always do that. It depends on the audience, the venue, on so many things. But when I can do it, it’s awesome.”
Luckily his music leaves plenty of room for making these connections. His sound is borne from years of programming the popular late night CBC show The Signal, and blends the expansive textures and memorable hooks that have become hallmarks of Scandinavian pop music; bands such as Sigur Ros, Bjork, and cherished Canadian chamber pop songwriters such as Patrick Watson and Bowen’s own Alicia Hansen.
Find the Others is already finding roots on BC soil. The band is set to embark on a Canadian tour to promote its new album, “Empire of Time,” which entered at the top of Canadian college radio charts and won the band a position in the Top 12 of the Peak Performance Project, a high-profile local competition run by 102.7 Peak FM.
The Peak nomination was a surprise to Sheppard who applied on a whim. He says the exposure has already led to increased festival performances and he’s pleased with the notoriety it’s bringing to our little island. “I’m nervous, but looking forward to getting in there and improving my show and the whole package,” he says.
That show, which he usually performs as a duo with long-time collaborator, drummer and electronic artist Joshua Van Tassel (Great Lake Swimmers), features Sheppard singing, playing guitar, and triggering a multitude of loops, samples, and video footage, all set to enhance the vibe and create a rich sensual experience.
Part of his tour includes a kick-off show at Tir-na-nog on Tuesday June 23 at 8 p.m. For this performance, he will be doing a solo set, opening up for his label-mate, Montreal singer-songwriter Mike Feuerstack, who is well-known for his work with Arcade Fire and the Wooden Stars. Also on the bill is label-mate and Montreal-based singer-songwriter Paper Beat Scissors.
A big part of recording “Empire of Time” was going to Reykjavik, Iceland and working with renowned producer Valgeir Sigurðsson (Bjork). There, the band was able to capture the essence of the vast Icelandic landscapes, not only in music, but also through film. The band shot a beautiful evocative music video that was picked up by Iceland Tourism and will soon be featured on their website.
Sheppard is not the only musical force in the family. His wife, accomplished jazz pianist Cindy Fairbank, has also made an impression on the community with her groovy playing at local jazz nights. But will they ever find time to collaborate? Sheppard laughs and confesses that although he’s a graduate of McGill’s jazz program in guitar, he considers himself a “terrible jazz guitarist”.
Never mind bebop though. Find the Others is already well on its way to tapping a whole new contemporary vibe. And it’s one filled with seekers, just waiting to be found.