Let’s talk Spindle!
It was a chilly Friday night and the sky was trying to decide if it wanted to rain or not, as I made my way to Our Town Café. Newly renovated and sitting on Broadway a block or two from Main St, is was a nice venue for jazz. Happening that night was a pop-up with Chef Taeyoung, so with my date sporting a bebop beard and I listening to Kria’s project Spindle!, where jazz meets art song, I felt VERY VERY hip. Overall, the evening contained lively guitar solos, serious conversational lyric, and a nice across-stage pocket or synchronicity between the players.
Now, I knew the majority of this band from other gigs around town: Kria Wall, was a vocalist and writer I had seen perform with VYCE in the Spring. However, it wasn’t until August I got to enjoy her company during a recording session for a mutual friend. Bassist Sydney Tough, whom I’d had the pleasure of playing with in July as part of the Ardeshir Pourkeramati trio, was also the Queen that made the Sister Jazz Night at the Presentation House in October happen. Then there’s Madeleine Elkins, a guitarist with some hot chops in Vancity and I’d already pointed friends of mine wanting to sing and play guitar to one of her awesome workshops. Jamie Lee I’d had the pleasure of playing with for the Women in Jazz jam that happened in October, and her interactive drumming was FUN. I also caught her trio at Café du Soleils this past month, not to mention she was in the Sister Jazz Night Sydney had arranged. Last but not least was Katie Stewart who was one of the violinists I had enjoyed seeing at the Sister Jazz night.
The two sets were made up of Kria’s originals, however her and Maddy did sneak in a beautiful rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”. Kria’s music is a sumptuous mix of vulnerability in her lyric that almost seems in juxtaposition to her smooth and clear voice which flows through the (sometimes dramatic) melodic ranges of her songs with a quiet confidence. Sydney, rocking with her bass as if steering the whole train with a warm embrace, gave a lovely space for Jamie’s sense of play and humour with her drums. Maddy was guilty of gorgeous, fleshed out chords that felt alive while Katie played very complimentary to Kria’s performance with background lines and fills or tasteful solos, overall a really nice mix of players that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I took the opportunity at the break to get into some of their tech. Kria’s set up was pretty straight forward, “My mic is a Shure Beta 58A and the PA is an EV monitor. I just looked up the model and it’s ZLX 15-P.” Maddy spoke about her gear, “On my board is a "Julia" pedal from Walrus Audio (Vibrato/Chorus), "OCD" drive pedal from fulltone, "Line 6" delay pedal... My guitar is a telecaster made by local luthier Mike Kinal, and I am playing through a Fender Hot Rod deluxe amp. I asked about her guitar’s beautiful aesthetic too, “the top piece is pistachio wood, but the body is made of maple wood”. Sydney’s bass looked as if there was a piece missing, however it’s designed this way to be easier to travel with, Sydney said “it is a David Gage Czech Ease” for any of you who are curious!
Overall, I think one of the concepts I really dig about Spindle! is Kria’s commitment to stortytelling – and using compositional decisions and harmonic colours to paint the vivid story of her pieces. I spoke with Kria about the raw honesty of her songs reflecting parts of her reality and her challenges as an artist, a woman, and more. She admits that writing these words or songs were not always easy, and to admit aspects of herself to the public through the lyric can be a very difficult commitment to keep, but the importance of artists being honest to their own feelings and putting these experiences out there to connect with others who may relate to those experiences is worth it to Kria.
Kria Wall - compositions & voice Katie Stewart - violin Madeleine Elkins - guitar Sydney Tough - bass Jamie Lee - drums