New label aims to help artists flourish
House of Wonders' affordable services give acts time to experiment
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/03/2020 (991 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A member of Winnipeg indie-pop band Yes We Mystic has launched a new record label that aims to show the way for the next wave of Manitoba musicians.
The label, House of Wonders, aims to offer affordable services to musical acts and get their work to as many listeners as possible, founder Adam Fuhr says.
“In economic terms, studios today are literally charging around a dollar a minute,” says the singer/guitarist/keyboardist for Yes We Mystic. “It should be a time for exploration and a little bit of freedom but when you’re that constrained… it’s very important to have a cushion of time.
“A more economical setup means that more people can afford that cushion of time that can lead to moments of inspiration and those magic moments that you look for… I want to take what I’ve learned from touring with my band, Yes We Mystic, for almost a decade and help guide like-minded musicians to flourish without burning out.”
House of Wonders launched on Feb. 21 with a website, houseofwonders.online, and the release of What Did You Do, the debut single by alt-country singer Amos the Kid, whose upcoming EP, Mountain View, will be released on April 3.
“I’ve been writing songs for a long time and keeping them all to myself,” says 24-year-old Amos Nadlersmith, the man behind Amos the Kid. “The EP is a collection of music that feels somewhat nostalgic to me. Back-home kind of songs, nonlinear memories over a wide timeline in my life.”
Nadlersmith, who says he started writing music when he was about 15 years old, works in the locations department on the set of The Ice Road, the Liam Neeson film that is being shot in and around Winnipeg. He enjoys canoeing in the summertime, but lately, he’s been riding a musical current. He released music on platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud and BandCamp, usually recording himself with his mom’s iPhone, before signing with House of Wonders.
Fuhr and Nadlersmith first crossed paths a few years ago at the Union Sound Hall, the former music venue in the Exchange District.
“I was 18. I was a regular. I would go there by myself because I didn’t know anybody in the city,” says Nadlersmith, who is originally from Boissevain.
“We would run in to each other almost all the time,” Fuhr says. “There was like a year of that. I don’t even remember hearing his music for the first time, but I remember there was something about it that struck me as magical. I was a fan from then on.
“At some point, I convinced him to come record.”
Teaming up with Fuhr in the studio was different than previous recordings for Nadlersmith.
“I’ve recorded in a studio with a friend before,” says Nadlersmith, “but this is the first time there has been some serious production put into it.”
That included a roster of Winnipeg musicians including Merin’s Jordan Cayer on bass, Brian Gluck, Living Hour’s Adam Soloway on guitar and Yes We Mystic’s multi-instrumentalist Jensen Fridfinnson on vocals.
“Their voices somehow sound like they are from the same place,” says Fuhr of Nadlersmith and Fridfinnson. “They both sing with the same kind of affectation.”
Of course, going from being a solo artist to incorporating a full band comes with a lot of new challenges. Luckily, the musicians bonded and worked together in a collaborative process.
“It was a nice group that was open to suggestions,” Fuhr says. “When you’re coming up with parts while you’re recording, you really have to be willing to try different things and then settle on one.
“It’s different than when it’s a band in a room for months and months and months and then they record. A lot of that, you figure it out beforehand. But it was a unique way to do it, to build it up in the studio, because you can have a sense of everything at once and it’s more malleable.”
“Sometimes it can be a tough process,” says Nadlersmith, “but everyone that plays on the album, they’re all so much more talented than myself.”
Fuhr, 26, has been making music since he was four, when he began taking piano lessons. But he really wanted was to play the violin.
“I’ve always had an inclination for strings,” Fuhr says. “I like writing music and playing music, but I never learned to read music. I’ve always had an interest in arrangement, but a lot of that is intuitive. I can’t really speak to where that comes from.”
Out of a mixture of curiosity and financial necessity, Fuhr produced Yes We Mystic’s most recent record, 2019’s Ten Seated Figures, and wanted to further pursue that interest.
“In Yes We Mystic, we are always trying to push boundaries and create something new, so to me that means knowing about the limits of production,” he says. “I spent a lot of time in the studio paying very close attention, asking a lot of questions.”
Frances Koncan (she/her) is a writer, theatre director, and failed musician of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent. Originally from Couchiching First Nation, she is now based in Treaty 1 Territory right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.