It’s impossible to rule out the prairie surroundings from the causality of Saskatchewan’s arts culture. Even if you’re completely fed up with all of the municipal and provincial political bullshit that pushes you to your wits’ end, sometimes all it takes is a drive down a prairie highway to fall back in love with this province.
Likewise, countless musicians from this province have and continue to write about Saskatchewan, and following in this vein is Nick Faye and the Deputies with their newest release, the Harvest EP, which comes out Feb. 28.
However, if the band’s previous release, The Last Best West, was a record to blast in your car as you drive with the windows down on a hot July afternoon, the Harvest EP is the antithesis to that. The Harvest EP replaces songs to nod your head and stumble around to in a dimly lit bar like “Giulianova” and “They Say Good Things…” with stripped-down and skeletal tracks, mirroring the now long-forgotten warmth of the prairie summer.
While not an overly conscious departure from Faye and the Deputies’ last record, writing in the solitude of rural Saskatchewan definitely affected the songs on the new release.
“I think just from being at my farm, just having an acoustic guitar when I worked at a summer camp this past year, the songs just went naturally back to my first few EPs where it’s just acoustic. I still have been writing full band songs, but the songs that I wanted to do for this EP … they were all stripped down, semi-acoustic without percussion,” said Faye.
Given the time Faye spent helping his dad during his final harvest before retirement at their family’s farm near Kelliher, SK, it makes sense that the band chose to record the EP there. Faye said it was a sort of “souvenir” of the farm, harvesting, and rural Saskatchewan.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. You hear of artists going out to churches or cottages, and for me there’s such a personal connection to the farm. It just made sense, seeing as how that’s where a lot of the songs were written,” said Faye.
“I think just from being at my farm, just having an acoustic guitar when I worked at a summer camp this past year, the songs just went naturally back to my first few EPs where it’s just acoustic. I still have been writing full band songs, but the songs that I wanted to do for this EP … they were all stripped down, semi-acoustic without percussion.” – Nick Faye
The most noticeable difference Faye said between recording on the farm as opposed to the city was the “lack of distractions.”
“There are no computers to check your email, no one’s texting you asking you to go to the bar. It was just the four of us hanging out, making music, and focusing completely on the music,” said Faye.
The Harvest EP may be short with only three songs, but it’s the first new release from the band since 2010, and they wanted “something to let people know we’re still here,” said Faye. “It’s something to build some buzz for the full-length.”
While the Harvest EP is noticeably more stripped down than The Last Best West, the currently in-the-works full-length that the band hopes to be recording come summertime will be a move back to “alternative rock whatever.”
“We have songs written. We’re just in the process of writing grants and all that fun stuff, trying to scrape together some money to buy a van and tour,” said Faye.
However, the yet-untitled full-length will be a move away from songs about the prairie surroundings and will feature “darker undertones whereas The Last Best West was a soundtrack to cruise around the Qu’Appelle Valley to,” said Faye.
Until the summer though, fans will have to tie themselves over with the Harvest EP, which can be found at nickfaye.bandcamp.com
Arts Radar Feb 28 – March 7
Three Jazzy Tenors
$20 members/$25 non-members/$5 students
Doors at 7
$32 adv/$37 door
Doors at 7
The Artful Dodger
$10 advance tickets
Doors at 7:30
$20 adv/$20 door
Doors at 7:30
Cricket w/Soiled Doves
Show at 10
Creative City Centre
$10 at the door
Doors at 7:30
Photo courtesy of Christina Bourne