INTERVIEW with two-time Western Canadian Music Award-winning Jazz group, Apollo Suns. They gear up releasing their 3rd EP end of 2021, as they unleash on October 29th, their single & video, Rosie
Apollo Suns are a young & exciting band out of Winnipeg of trained jazz artists who are not afraid to walk a fine line and pave their own musical path to success and into the hearts of music fans all over Canada.
Their debut EP, Each Day a Different Sun, was released in April 2017 followed by a Western Canadian tour in support of the release. They have since been through Western Canada twice and Eastern Canada once. The album spent seven weeks on the Earshot! National Top 50 charts with its top position at #15. They followed the debut with the sophomore EP, Dawn Offerings, in late April of 2019 with two sold-out shows in their hometown of Winnipeg, MB. The release was followed by multiple tours and festival showcases across Canada to support the album. The album reached number #7 on the Earshot! National Top 50 charts. Apollo Suns released their sophomore EP, Dawn Offerings, in late April of 2019 with two sold-out shows in their hometown of Winnipeg, MB. The release was followed by multiple tours and festival showcases across Canada to support the album. The album reached number #7 on the Earshot! National Top 50 charts. Apollo Suns are now getting ready to release their third EP, A Relationship of Force, for the Fall of 2021 and this will be their first release on USA-based record label, Color Red.
Some of their most notable shows include support slots for The Comet is Coming, The Brooks, Anomalie, Mariachi Ghost, Five Alarm Funk, Blonde Diamond, Kobo Town, and Bend Sinister; as well as showcases at Canadian Music Week, Winnipeg International Jazz Fest, Big Fun Festival, Golden Sound Music Festival, Calgary Stampede, Ness Creek Festival, Festival Du Voyageur, and Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
The two-time Western Canadian Music Award-winning Jazz group, Apollo Suns, has a unique way of blending classic Jazz melodies with newer, contemporary sounds. With both their debut and sophomore EP’s having spent time on the Canadian Campus Radio charts Top 20, and having toured extensively across Canada pre-pandemic, Apollo Suns are making their mark as a young group of artists in an often considered older genre. The diverse group of musicians includes BIPOC, non-binary and queer artists who regularly perform for sold-out crowds of ages. As the group gears up to release their third EP at the end of the year, Apollo Suns will be releasing “Rosie”, a mid-tempo Alternative-Jazz track inspired by one of their musician’s experiences while on paternity leave. “Rosie,” will be available everywhere on Friday, October 29th.
Following the release of “Lake Country,” a love letter from the group of prairie musicians to British Columbia – that province that has embraced them the most aside from their home province of Manitoba, the band released a live off the floor video for the song. Filmed at Winnipeg’s Paintbox Recording studio, the colorful video showcases the group of phenomenally talented artists at work. Watch: Lake Country – https://www.facebook.com/apollosunsmusic/videos/944697046395343
Apollo Suns are growing in popularity at home and abroad, notably being signed to US record label Color Red for their upcoming album and with a variety of American agents for their future tours.
DEB: Q. 1. Born from the fusing of nine Winnipeg, MB-based musicians, Apollo Suns have created a refreshing and innovative sound and live performance combining instrumental, jazz, rock, and psychedelic music, to which they were awarded “Instrumental Artist of the Year” at the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards for the second time in 2020. I am honored to ask you to introduce all of the stellar musicians that make up The Apollo Suns.
(Ed Durocher) – “The band started as a 4 piece back in 2016 and quickly grew to be 7 or 8 pieces by mid-2017 when we started touring more heavily. We are now consistently a 9 piece band and have an 8 piece configuration for most of our tours. At this time we are Ed Durocher -Guitar, Bryn Herperger – Bass, Glenn Radley – Drums, Erika Einarson – Percussion, Aaron Bartel – Bari Saxophone, Benjamin Hill – Trombone, Niall Cade – Tenor Sax, Anatol Rennie – Keys/Synths, Garrett Malenko – Trumpet. The core of the group has been roughly the same for about 2.5/3 years.”
DEB: Q. 2. Your music encompasses several genres – do you find a particular type of music fan gravitating to your live shows, or do you see fans of a variety of genres?
(Ed Durocher) – “It’s definitely all over the place and varies from show to show. There is definitely an older demographic that enjoys our music and tells us things like “You folks are like a more energetic Chicago, we would have been blasting your tunes back in 1972” or something like that….which is awesome because that crowd is so supportive. Then you have the music geeks who will ask all about what is happening musically, such as what guitars/gear we use, if we’ve listened to this album from Snarky Puppy, Kamasi Washington, Khruangbin, etc, and wanting to talk about our musical influences. Then we have seen what we call the “Party Kids”. These folks come out to every festival show and are very lovely. They wear all sorts of beads and lights and they are there to have a good, sweaty, funky time. I think we are slowly getting to a fantastic point where the genre is becoming less defined and more fluid.”
DEB: Q. 3. You constantly challenge yourselves in your writing by constructing jazz-influenced songs with the end goal of maintaining an overall accessible and catchy track for listeners of all kinds. What would you say is your favorite original song that you penned and enjoy performing the most?
(Ed Durocher): “Honestly, that is a tricky one. It changes every night. Usually, our newer songs become my favorite because they are fresh and have different vibes, but I always have a great time performing older songs too, especially LESSON IN SHARING from our debut EP. This song, in particular, is recognized by most of our fans as “the riff” and whenever we play it live there is a huge roar from the audience. It’s so cool that they just recognize the song just by the first couple of notes. It’s a good question and a hard answer since our music changes from performance to performance due to the nature of the group coming from a more improvisational/”jazz-adjacent” background.“
DEB: Q. 4. Following the birth of group-member Ed Durocher’s son, Miles, Ed took paternity leave which saw him taking care of his newborn son overnight. Inspired by the fragility of an infant, Ed began writing lullaby-style songs which he called “The Midnight Sessions”. With its airy melody, “Rosie” balances sensitivity with hopeful and confident verses and ends with a full-bodied, bombastic sound, aimed at reflecting the chaos and craziness of being a new parent. Ed describes the hook of the song as hopeful – ” hopeful that I would be a good parent, that he would be a good person, [and] that everything would be alright”. Musically representing the special time Ed had with his young son each night, “Rosie” beautifully reflects the emotions, the bond, and the hope of a new father with their child. Walk us through your new album & your unique songwriting process behind your up & coming 3rd EP.
(Ed Durocher): “The album was written in many different stages and isn’t so much a consistent/solidified piece of work but more of a collection of several snapshots showing what the band was at the time of writing/recording each track. Some of the songs from the EP were recorded in the winter of 2018 (Rosie/Silver Gloves/Changes) and then at recording sessions after our touring season in the fall of 2018 (So Long Ethan and Lake Country). It’s funny how 60 tour dates can really change a band. Rosie, though, was written during one of those late-night sessions when I was looking after my infant son Miles and was later pieced together with Aaron Bartel, who contributed a lot to the writing of Rosie. The songs have a tendency to start off as one person’s initial idea and then once it comes into the jam space, it will get workshopped and tinkered with by the group. This song-sharing process is definitely a dynamic built on mutual respect and trust and can be very hard at times because you can become very attached to songs. But over the years and after lots of writing, I think we have found a good balance.“
DEB: Q. 5. Some of the most historical and revered music has always played a deep role in the transformation of society. Some consider how their art relates to the current social-political landscape or how their music can address these themes. Does your music touch on social or political issues?
(Ed Durocher) “I think we are at a disadvantage in some ways because our music is instrumental. Lyrics are usually how most people engage/resonate with music, but I think we, as an instrumental band, speak out and stay active in social/political issues. At live shows, we now take the time to make a land acknowledgment. We also have been acknowledging that we are very much rooted in black American music and without the tradition of jazz/funk/blues/hip-hop, etc, Apollo Suns would not exist. It is very important to acknowledge that and do everything we can to educate ourselves on the history and present-day struggles. It’s a continuous conversation that we have in the band about how we can be more active, what organizations we can donate to and work with, and how the band can cultivate and maintain an inclusive, safe and enjoyable environment.”
DEB: Q. 6. Contrary to popular belief, making it is the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck, as it requires talent, strategy, dedication, and determination based on your vision and goals. While navigating the pandemic & pivoting your release plans, your band produced & released several online concerts & new singles with videos. The winter of 2021/2022 will see you stepping into NO FUN Studios in Winnipeg, MB with Juno award-winning producer Ben Kaplan (Five Alarm Funk, Bootsy Collins, Snoop Dogg, Mother Mother, The Rare Americans) to work on your next album. Outside of your new single plus video for Rosie, & your 3rd EP, A Relationship of Force, what are some other ways you have interacted with your fans throughout this new world of COVID -19, and what is it like to perform again after an 18-month pandemic hiatus?
(Ed Durocher) “Yeah, that last 18-month stretch was rough, but luckily we had a lot of content in our back pocket which allowed us to have a steady flow of singles, content, and videos to get us through the on and off again lockdowns during the pandemic. We did have the opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful partners to present some online concerts/live streams which really helped us connect with our current audience and introduce us to new ones. Those online concerts were also chopped up into shorter individual videos for all our social media platforms and ad campaigns. I have mixed feelings about the pandemic because touring is amazing, but having a chance to really connect with folks online and cultivate connections with our audiences before we invest in a heavy touring schedule in 2022 is very exciting. The wait has just been horrible.”
Fans can stay connected with Apollo Suns by visiting their social platforms below: