Author | Photos Kate Killet

Get To Know Strands: Toronto’s Newest Edition to Wavelength Music Festival

Feeling the February blahs? In need of some zest? Need to shake some shit up? Well, we have the cure: The 17th annual Wavelength Music Festival! Running from February 17-19, this yearly winter indie music love fest is a favourite in the Toronto music scene. Each year, it gives us a reason to dance off the chills, discover some new music and enjoy some local faves.

Wavelength is kicking off the festival tonight at The Garrison with Montreal soft-rock babes TOPS alongside Toronto’s own synth-soul act DIANA & femme gaze beauty Vallens for only $3 with RSVP!

Throughout Family Day long weekend, the Wavelength Music Festival will take over The Garrison with other great acts like Fake Palms & Phèdre, plus there’s a 4am last call there all three nights! On top of that, the fest has some sweet all-ages day shows and events, including a drone brunch at the Gladstone and a Toronto Music Wikipedia Jam (whatever that is, we’re stoked). If you’re only going to check out one thing though, we recommend Saturday’s all-ages matinee (co-presented with Girls Rock Camp Toronto) at the Monarch Tavern. Running from 2:30pm to 6pm, TWIM darlings Peeling are playing alongside Strands, a new duo we can’t get enough of.

Strands is made up of Jasmyn Burke from art-pop act Weaves, who were just nominated for this year’s Alternative Album of the Year Juno Award, and visual artist Rosalie H. Maheux, who’s known for her controversial feminist work. Burke explores a softer side and projects punk vulnerability through vocal loops as Maheux projects matching visuals via one of those old-school projectors your high school teachers used.

Back in January, we caught Strands at The Central to take some pictures and soak in their awesomeness, then this past week we spoke with them to find out more about the project. Check out our interview and photos from that magic evening below, and get a taste of what’s to come for their Wavelength Music Festival show.

How did you two meet and start collaborating?

Rosalie H. Maheux: We met a couple years ago while working at the same restaurant. We bonded very quickly. And then, for my first solo show (two years ago), I invited Jasmyn to do a musical performance. I just loved it so much and wanted to work with her. Our “official” collaboration as Strands was for Long Winter last year. That was the first time we were experimenting with this specific concept.

Jasmyn Burke: We met as working ladies on the streets of Toronto. After hanging out a few times we knew we had similar creative spirits. Soon after, at her solo show, I performed music in a coffin she had built. After that, we knew we wanted to combine our two mediums, so we decided to get matching tattoos (of eagle heads dangling over a set of legs). Ever since then we’ve been performing as Strands.

How is Strands different from Weaves/Rosalie’s past projects?

RM: I usually build stuff, create objects, and make sculptures and installations. Strands is the complete opposite of what I normally do. It’s way more performative, and very less controlled with a high level of risk, considering the live aspect of it. Instead of creating physical things, I create little visual worlds that suit Jasmyn’s music. I create atmospheres that suit how we feel. Strands it’s very much about feelings and emotions.

JB: I think this project differs because it is all about spontaneity. We don’t really rehearse; we just feel out the songs and the loops. Neither of us wants to think about it too much, whereas our other projects are more planned. Strands is meant to be primal in a way. Rosie uses an old projector with a bright light gleaming in my eyes and I use only two pedals, which mainly rely on vocal loops. It’s childlike but also a response to the crispness of most music production. We want it to be raw and satanic in a way, but also blissful and transcendent.

What is your collaboration process like? What’s tricky about working together? How do you overcome those obstacles?

RM: To be perfectly honest, Jasmyn is probably the best artistic date I ever had. I find it so easy. It’s pretty simple: she will make the music and I will get inspired. We share the same vibe. We know what kind of emotions we want to explore. I usually get my ideas while we rehearse and try new songs. The only major obstacle I can see with Strands is that we want to go bigger and bigger every time. We want huge papier mâché installations, we want dancers, we want lasers, maybe four or five projectors. At this point, I’m more worried about the fact that all our big crazy desires won’t fit in one van.

JB: I don’t think there are obstacles. Obstacles are just fears people build up in their minds and I think in a way we are trying to be fearless in our performances. There isn’t much to rely on besides what we have in front of us, so it’s more about feeling out the moment and hopefully connecting with the people in front of us. The challenge would be that because our set is so minimal, there is no time to be afraid because there’s nothing else to fall back on. But the positive is that we trust each other. When I’m building loops I know it isn’t going to trip Rosie up visually if the song takes a new form while improvising. She is kind of like my conductor helping me get settled with the simple stage performance.

What are the benefits of collaborating with a fellow female artist?

RM: Our periods are in sync, so it’s easier to organize everything. Seriously, I prefer to work with women. There is something special, fierce and right about this. Just natural and inspiring!

JB: It’s not really gender related. It’s a connection and a chemistry that you’re looking for when you collaborate with people. We know what we both like and don’t have to ask many questions. But I guess we kind of knew that when we got our tattoos. Creative partners for life.

What are you two excited about for your show this Saturday?

RM: I feel it’s gonna be a younger crowd! I like teenagers! I like everybody! More of everybody, please!

JB: It’s apparently going to be 11 degrees, which is very exciting. And the show is all ages! It’s great when music is open to everyone in your community.

Check out the Wavelength Music Festival Facebook event for the full lineup & set times + the Wavelength Music website for more info. Grab an All-Access Festival Pass for only $25.99 here OR pick one up in person at Rotate This and Soundscapes.

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