In an age when fake news, apocalyptic forecasts, and click, bait and switch headlines have become an accepted part of daily life, we as a society are living in paranoid times. Half-baked, wide awake, and marinating in our own depression, it’s easy to feel hopeless and spiritually homeless, in a world that often seems abysmal and like it might implode at any time.
As our desire to escape it all increases and our need for connection beyond the synthetic realm begins to bloom, bands like Winnipeg-based alt-soul-pop outfit Amadians remind us that no matter how wild or wicked things get out there, on the dance floor, we’re all just humans.
Formed in 2016, Amadians––Courtney Devon (vocals), James Roth (guitars), Ian Powell (bass), and Kyle Fox (drums)––have spent the past three years trying to distill the best components of everything from pop, rock and blues to funk, soul, and jazz, into the sort of songs that not only get inside your bones but that awaken that primal urge inside us all to just cut loose.
“Courtney and I have been writing together for years,” says guitarist James Roth. “When we first started out, we didn’t really have an intended sound or something we were aiming for, I guess we just kept writing until we found our niche. When Ian and Kyle entered the picture, we really tried to allow ourselves to flow in the direction that our group creativity led us and that always seemed to include a touch of old and a touch of new.”
Captured fully on their forthcoming self-produced debut release, which is packed full of melody-heavy tracks that couple sultry pop vocals and rich, layered harmonies with chanky funk guitars, shiny synths, syncopated drumming, and bright, nostalgia inducing horns, the album, with pre-production assistance by Matt Schellenberg (Royal Canoe) and engineered by Evan St. Cyr, sees Amadians serving up a sound that revels in the groove of decades past and yet feels appetizingly dissimilar.
“Before we started working with Matt we had quite a few people tell us that we had too many bells and whistles in our demos, that we needed to tone down the harmonies, and that maybe we were going a bit overboard,” says vocalist Courtney Devon. “But, Matt completely embraced all of that. Once he did, we were able to fully embrace it too.”
“Everything Matt did helped to direct us toward our actual sound as a band,” adds Roth. “Early on in the process, he said, ‘Instead of trying to be 45 different things, know who you are, and move toward that.’ We really took that to heart. He pointed out the things that we did well as a band and that were quintessential to us, and then he added certain current complimentary elements that really get your toes tapping and that make the music pop.
“When Evan came in, he took that core sound that we had arrived at and he elevated it to a whole other level. He’s the king of percussion, so he injected our songs with all of these subliminal sounds that just make you want to move, even when you don’t know why you’re moving.”
But, what really gives Amadians their particular shine is the stark contrast that exists between that distinct feel-good vibe, and the often-weighty subject matter of their lyrics.
Whether it’s considering forbidden love and racial prejudice (“Ocean & Moon”), the twisted way in which we sometimes thrive in the chaos of dysfunctional relationships (“Speak Low”), or that brewing desire that so many of us have to just call bullshit on the whole thing (“Wasting Time”) and raise a little hell from time to time (“Further”), there is a substantiality to this band’s lyricism that not only embodies the unhinged atmosphere of this era, but when positioned against a backdrop of infectious backbeats, makes things feel a little less heavy, even if only for a little while.
“There’s been a weird air in our culture lately,” says Devon. “We’ve become so accustomed to picking up our phones and being bombarded with all of this shitty news, that it can really make you feel lost and a kind of hopeless. I think it’s our job as songwriters and artists to find a way to talk about the things that are affecting us, but it’s also our job to allow music to be an escape from those things, and to genuinely try to make a difference in the lives of people who need that the most.”
For Amadians, they get the opportunity to fulfill that need during every one of their live show.
“We look at our live show, which is very much this upbeat, high-bpm, 45-minute dance party, as an open invitation for people to get out on the floor and just move,” says Roth. “When we hit the stage it’s kind of like, ‘Hey! Here we are. We’re gonna play some tunes for you. Why don’t we all just forget about the stress and forget about our fears, let’s have a good time together and savor this moment while it lasts, before we have to go back to the real world.”