From Rocky to electro-pop
Growing up on a farm near Rocky Mountain House left Brandi Sidoryk longing “to see the world outside my front door.”
She packed her bags after finishing high school in 2001. And a dozen whirl- wind years later — having racked up a vocal music degree from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in operatic performance in Melbourne, Australia — Sidoryk is touring internationally with her electro-pop-rock band, Sidney York.
The duo she formed two years ago with bassoonist Krista Wodelet is becoming acclaimed for its tongue-in-cheek lyrics and bubbly melodies. These are evident in the exuberant Dick and Jane tune, which echoes Sidoryk’s own child- hood wanderlust, or in the just-released danceable breakup songs Electrolove and Heart.
“We love that contrast of a really light- hearted sound masking some pretty dark issues,” said Sidoryk.
Upon departing from the goal of an operatic career, she came up with the name Sidney York as a sort of anagram of her own last name. The Calgary-based duo performs on Thursday, Feb. 27, at the International Beer Haus and Stage in Red Deer.
Sidoryk describes her musical part-nership with Wodelet as springing out of a meeting of former high school band geeks.
Sidoryk thought it would be “fun” to try the French horn that she played in high school band class in a non-classical, rock band setting, and mentioned this idea while working as a WestJet flight at- tendant with Wodelet’s sister, Tara, also a flight steward.
“Although my musical life rarely comes up at my other job, I told her I was looking for a bassoon player for my band,” said Sidoryk.
She was told about Wodelet — who’s not only a gifted bassoonist who has played with the Kelowna and Kamloops symphony orchestras, but also has a master’s degree in music.
“What are the chances?” said Sidoryk, who marvels that she never crossed paths with Wodelet before — even though the two attended the U of T music program during overlapping two years in the early 2000s.
The women immediately clicked on a personal level — to the point that they are now roommates as well as musical partners. “We joke that our finances are more interconnected than in any rela- tionship we’ve ever had,” said a chuck- ling Sidoryk.
The odd parallels between their lives continue as she and Wodelet both re-cently went through breakups and used the emotional upheaval to leverage their new album, <3s (Hearts).
It’s already recorded but will be gradually released throughout the year, with two songs, Electrolove and Hearts, put out in January and the next two slated for a March release until all 10 new songs are made available on iTunes in November.
Although the duo’s music, which still experiments with quirky instrumentation, has been compared to a mash-up of Hawksley Workman and Metric, Sidney York’s next two songs, Weapons Grade Love and I Can Swim, are less playful than the first two, said Sidoryk.
The latter tune is “about deciding about whether you’re going to give up on everything — on life and love — and let yourself sink to the bottom, or whether you are going to swim to the surface.”
Sidoryk feels as if she was swimming against the current, to some extent, while growing up in Central Alberta — although she calls her band teachers an inspiration and describes a fairly idyllic
childhood. “I was a bit of a black sheep in my family, and maybe even in Rocky too.”
Since her supportive parents liked country music, she started out as a young fan of Shania Twain and Terri Clark, but these artists eventually took a back seat to classical music and alternative rock.
Sidoryk and Wodelet are now fans of Workman and the California pop band The Submarines, and both love graphic novels.
In fact, comic pages are being created to accompany each of their new song releases, by Calgary artist Ben Rankel. They will be sent to subscribers, who will also be emailed copies of the tunes as they are released throughout the year. (Sidney York fans who subscribe through the band’s website will get the digital releases as well as five EPs delivered to their doorsteps.)
“We wanted to do something different,” said Sidoryk. who sees the staged song releases as a way to increase fans’ familiarity with the band.
“The first two songs are kind of like our introduction songs. They are really indicative of who we are. Some of (the later songs) have different content — they get darker and rockier. ...”
Sidoryk, who noted YouTube has be- come one of the biggest new music discovery tools, believes changes are happening in the way people listen. “This gives people a different way to experience our music.”
For more information about the show, call 403-986-5008.