Great bands transform – they remain in a state of flux throughout their career, allowing their music to adapt and change along with them. Winnipeg’s SC Mira has gone from a duo to a full band, from folk-infused to a gritty cityscape of sound.
The initial edge of “Free”, along with Sadye Cage’s witchy, off-kilter voice, makes an immediate impact. “Mexico” follows, with its eerie lyrics depicting a kind of an apocalyptic vacation: “Never been to Mexico/but I imagine it’s pretty/Never been to hell and back/I can’t imagine it’s pretty.” Keep Crawling is a solid shift for a band whose stage presence denotes their usual musical confidence.
We sat down with Ty Vega (guitar) and Caro LaFlamme (keys) to talk about the band’s evolution:
AF: Let’s start with beginnings. I read that Sadye and Ty met at a Halloween warehouse party. Ty, can you tell us a little about that initial meeting and the music that you created as a duo?
Ty: It was a Halloween party held by a mutual friend here in Winnipeg. I guess we just happened upon each other, started talking about our respective costumes and then went from there. I found out that Sadye was working on some acoustic songs of hers and I had also been in the music scene for a while. From there we started to work on some of her solo material and which expanded into a duo project between me and her. When we started working together I think there was an exact moment that we realized we wanted to do something a little more ambitious, and that’s how we became a band.
AF: 2015’s Waiting Room Baby has a very different feel from your new EP. When did you realize as a band that you were shifting towards a harder sound? Was it a gradual change or a sudden realization?
Caro: Playing every night on tour definitely tightened up our performance and made us realize that we wanted to shift the music to better match the intensity of what was happening onstage. When we perform, we want people to feel that they’ve witnessed something at the show that would not have otherwise come through in the recordings. We’re a very visual band, almost theatrical in a sense.
AF: You’ve termed your new sound ‘Death Pop’. Do you feel like the subject matter explored on Keep Crawling is light years away from your old record? Or is it more that the way you approach the subjects has changed?
Caro: There’s definitely always been a darkness to the music we write, particularly the lyrics that Sadye writes. She draws from her personal experiences, so the content has definitely always been emotional. I wouldn’t say that Keep Crawling is light years away from the first EP – I’d say that the sound now better reflects the content.
AF: Can you give us an idea of how a song like ‘Mexico’ is written? Is the music the first layer or the lyrics?
Ty: Mexico in particular I found was a fun song to write. In this instance, the lyrics were written first. From there, we built it up sonically very similarly to how the song actually sounds. Different parts, like harmonies or guitar/bass lines were built up layer by layer to complete the song.
AF: The two animated shorts that accompany ‘Free’ and ‘Mexico’ are very cool (pretty hypnotizing in fact). How involved was the band in the creation of those videos?
Caro: We decided that it was important to create some visual content to accompany the music we were putting out. We reached out to some local artists and found Matea Radic, who is known for her very strange animations and characters. We gave her access to the songs and concepts so she could take away what she needed to build visuals. She created this little monster that has become sort of a protagonist or narrator for our songs.
AF: I love that idea of a protagonist. When you both are on stage, do you take on a character or persona? How do you prep to go on stage and fully command an audience?
Ty: It actually varies between the personalities in our band. For instance, a person like Mario, our bass player, is a very charismatic individual. He and Joel, our drummer, perform very truthfully to their personalities. For Caro, Sadye and myself, I think it’s a little different. We like to focus on the show that we can create, which includes the visuals that we like to play with, the look that we like to convey and the emotions that we hope the audience can take away from our performances. Altogether it creates a very unique dynamic and stage performance.
Caro: Ty, Sadye, and I definitely put on a hard exterior when we go onstage through styling, and that’s something we find adds power to our performance. In Sadye’s case, as front woman, she postures herself in a way that captivates people, but also says “don’t fuck with me.” I love that we’re able to create an enticing distance that way between the stage and the crowd.
AF: When did you both realize you wanted to be musicians?
Ty: I started playing at a young age as I came from a very musical family. Playing instruments and singing around the house was always a very integral part of my upbringing. As I got older I went through a medically trying time in my life, and music became one of the few things that I could physically do. There was an exact moment that I remember while on vacation one summer where I had just completed a piano competition against other kids much older than me and I thought to myself that this could be a real part of my life. From there I started to explore different instruments and styles in and out of school, and it has led me here.
Caro: I’ve always wanted to be in a band. I came from a musical family as well, and retrospectively, I’m pretty damn thankful my parents put me in piano lessons, because it gave me the skills I would need to be in a project like this. I grew up constantly listening to music and immersing myself in that world — it was very much a part of my identity growing up. I think the turning point for me was attending a new “garage band” program International Music Camp had just set up for students wanting to study music from more of a “band” angle and less of a “classical” standpoint. That was really valuable for me, and I imagine a number of kids who went through that program.
AF: What’s one word of advice that’s meant a lot to you as an artist?
Ty: It might sound a little cliché, but play to your strengths and tell your own stories. Something that we’ve found very important in our band is that it echoes our individual strengths not only musically but also personally. Our diversity on the stage and in our music comes from the uniqueness that everyone in our group brings to the table.
Caro: I think ultimately, you have to take care of yourself as a person first in order to create, and that includes making sure you’re getting what you want out of the experience emotionally. We all care about how we’re perceived by others, which is completely natural, but it’s more important, in my opinion, to be able to walk off the stage after a show feeling like you gave it everything. That to me is the most validating feeling and what fuels me as an artist.
SC Mira’s new EP Keep Crawling is out now on Spotify and iTunes.