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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Trio of Prairie up-and-comers to play After Dark"

The 2014 year of live music at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum begins this Friday night, with the first Southern Plains Co-op After Dark concert of the year.

Opening the season are three Saskatchewan women who are in the midst of carving their own territory in the music landscape. The EAGM will be welcoming Megan Nash, Saskatoon's Fern, which features Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld, and Weyburn's rising star Tenille Arts.

Nash and Fern are playing a mini-tour of Saskatchewan. After being booked together at the EAGM they decided to add a few more shows so they are playing Saskatoon on Jan. 29, Moose Jaw on Jan. 30 and Regina on Feb. 1.

"I've only ever played in Saskatoon myself, so I thought it would be awesome to take advantage of us being free at the same time and do a little mini Saskatchewan tour," said Fowlie-Neufeld.

"I'm really excited. This is my first time touring with Fern," added Nash in an interview over the phone last week. "Her music, everything I've heard so far, I've loved, so I'm excited to get the chance to get familiar with her material."

Nash's first full-length album was released in 2011 entitled Tough Love, and last fall she released a digital EP online called She Said, She Said.

"In order to keep it somewhat current online, I always feel like my online presence is a few steps behind what I'm doing, I encourage people to come to my live shows," she said. "It's a little bit different than what's online, I promise."

Going to school in Mortlach, Nash joked that it would be disingenuous to say she was from a small town, saying, "It gets worse. I'm from a farm near a village near a small town."

She said she grew up mostly with no Internet, "and that makes a big difference in what sort of music you're exposed to. Growing up, I listened to a lot of my mom's '80s CDs. That's where I got an idea of pop songwriting."

And she sang along to a lot of AM country radio, because that's all there was to listen to.

"Since the first album I feel like I've become a little more fearless in my content. I've become a bit more honest. My songs are an honest representation of how I feel compared to what I would verbally tell somebody at a coffee shop because I take a lot of time with my songs to think (about) exactly how I feel about something," she said.

"I've begun to focus more on gender roles and the idea of being a young female in today's society. What does that entail and how does that affect your relationships? I've embraced the fact that I write from a female perspective."

She said having song critiques and hearing feedback on her work helped guide her views on how she writes and what it is she wants to express in her music. And releasing that music is something she will focus on this year.

"If I don't put out a full-length album this year I'll be really disappointed in myself," she laughed.

Nash will be heading to the Maritimes to tour Eastern Canada in the spring.

Fern released an EP online in 2012, and Fowlie-Neufeld said they recorded more music last year, which will be packaged as another EP this spring.

"This (concert) is kind of a precursor to that, so I can get some new material out there and then release the EP in a few months," she said.

"I was definitely more organized. The first EP, I had written these songs and had been sitting on them for awhile. I was able to record them at my own pace. I didn't worry about mixing or adding other instruments or vocals. It was pretty stripped down."

The Spartan recording process was a reflection of the resources she had available. During the most recent recording, the process became a little more layered.

"With this new material, we were in the studio, and I was working with an audio engineer and other musicians. It took a lot more planning and more awareness of how I wanted things to sound in the end."

She added that after going through a more elaborate recording process, her songwriting has changed to fit some of the opportunities available in the studio.

"In this EP, I was testing the waters, and things developed during the recording process. Now that I've had a taste of that, I feel that I'm writing songs that have other parts in mind rather than just writing songs for me and a guitar. I see the other places it can go beyond that."

Weyburn's 19-year-old Arts was in Nashville last week working on a project she wasn't quite ready to talk about.

"I'm just finishing up the vocals today," she said during the interview over the phone on Jan. 24. "Yesterday we did the song tracking. Right now, we're recording to go to some labels and stuff down here, but it's going to be released. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet, because it's going to be a surprise."

She first went to Nashville when she was 15 and has frequented Music City ever since, though the trips are increasingly more regular having just been there in November.

"I got (to Nashville) on Jan. 20 and I usually spend 10 days down here each trip. Normally I do some writing, but this time I'm doing some recording. I haven't done that here at all, so this is totally new and exciting. This is definitely the big time, I guess," she said with a laugh. "The recording studios are huge."

Locally, Arts performs regularly when she is home in Weyburn and makes appearances periodically at Eddie Webster's in Estevan.

"Growing up in Weyburn I always had a lot of support from Weyburn and the surrounding areas. It's great to be down here," she said, adding that she keeps everyone up to date on her business by remaining active via social networks.

"Everyone is so supportive of me being down here so it's very exciting."

She expects to be back in Nashville over the next few months, and of the songs she has been recording she said they are hoping to release a single to The Highway a country music station on Sirius XM Radio.

Going forward, Arts said she hopes to continue recording more songs with the ultimate goal of producing a complete album.

By Jordan Baker - Estevan Mercury

"CCC shines the spotlight on women in music"

From the time it opened its doors three years ago, the Creative City Centre has aimed to shine a spotlight on Canadian women in music.

This weekend, the Creative City Centre will do so by featuring four emerging artists for a Weekend of Women in Music that will include Saskatoon's Sarah Farthing and Fern. Also from Saskatchewan is Megan Nash and from Yellowknife comes Mary Caroline. "These women were all coming to town at the same time, so we thought we'd
have them collaborate together," said Shannon Harasen, the general manager of the Creative City Centre. "These women are all really good. What they're doing, we want to encourage that."

Harasen said that venues like the Creative City Centre are important to emerging artists who are trying to make their way in music.

"It's hard out there," she said. "And we want to help them make their music accessible to local audiences. On Saturday, Farthing will take the stage to perform her debut full-length album expected out this fall.

Since her debut EP Uh Oh was released in 2011, Farthing has been hard at work, doing several tours across Canada.

She recorded a live concert for CBC Radio, played the main stage at the Ness Creek Music Festival, and received a grant through the SaskMusic Investment Program to help fund the recording of her debut full-length album.

On the following day, the Creative City Centre's Songwriter Sunday will feature Nash, Fern and Caroline.

The women will be sharing their writing process, stories from the road and their music.

Nash, from Mortlach, near Moose Jaw, has opened for the likes of Serena Ryder, Amelia Curran, The Heartbroken and Del Barber.

As a child, Nash listened to many cassette tapes from her mother's 1980s collection. While checking the cattle in the farm truck, AM radio would play the songs that Nash would sing along to.

There wasn't much of a music scene in Mortlach so singing along to the radio was how Nash found her voice.

As a folk artist, Fern has been building a name for herself in Saskatoon's indie-folk scene and looks forward to releasing new material this year with the help of The Sound and Silence Collective, an artist-driven record label in Saskatoon.

Fern's upcoming EP will be a coming of age tale. Her first EP, 3 a.m. Fires, is available on Bandcamp.

Mary Caroline's sophomore album, Who's in Control, was released in 2012.

It captures her time spent living in a remote trapper's cabin on the shores of the Liard River, 150 kilometres north of the community of Fort Liard, NWT.

The album was also influenced by her time spent at the Yellowknife Artist Run Community Centre (ARCC), an old church transformed into a mecca of artist creativity and collaboration in 2011.

Songwriter Sunday will include an open-mic component and Harasen said everyone, regardless of gender, is welcome to get up and share their talent.

Weekend of Women In Music

April 12 Sarah Farthing April 13 Megan Nash, Fern & Mary Caroline Creative City Centre

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post - BY KELLY -ANNE RIESS for the Regina Leader-Post

"Review – “Strange Fingerprints EP” – Fern"

reviewed by Laura Stanley

Fern is a recent addition to the great little Saskatoon record label The Sound & Silence Collective, making her the first folk artist signed. If they were looking for endearing emotional folk ballads, they found the perfect addition. Despite Strange Fingerprints EP being a quick four song effort, Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld (Fern) squeezes as much as she can in her EP.

The hurried and verbose lyric style that makes up most of the songs in the EP is similar to that of Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley etc.) but mirrored with a soft and minimalistic folk style, the presentation is obviously different; contemplative and a bit more intimate.

The seasonally appropriate and first track from the EP, “Spring” is the strongest of the four. In at just over two minutes, Fern beautifully conveys the feeling that with the renewal of spring does not necessarily mean a regeneration of self or even happiness. (I never said the EP was a happy one…)

The following two songs “Old Habits” and “Myth” both feature fuller arrangements, specifically highlighted by a gentle violin addition, and have similar tones of melancholy despite the sweet tones of Fowlie-Neufeld’s voice. In the chorus of “Old Habits,” a repetition of the simple question, “are you lost, dear?” does well to summarize the mood of Strange Fingerprints EP, a feeling that gets lost in the Prairie sky by the end of the EP.

A piano-centred ballad, “Prairie Skies” uses Fern’s Prairie roots to depict a heartbreaking love song that ushers Strange Fingerprints EP out with a beautifully soft lament from Fowlie-Neufeld, some final stray piano notes, and a very seconds of silence to contemplate it all.

Strange Fingerprints EP is available April 26th.

Top Track: “Spring”

Rating: Young Hoot (Decent) - Grayowl Point-Laura Stanley

"On storytelling and Fern’s new EP"

A year in the making, Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld, a.k.a. Fern, is ready to release her first EP Strange Fingerprints to the world.

This Saskatoon songstress has been hard at work over the last year touring with fellow Saskatchewanian Megan Nash, and playing at National Youth Arts Weeks, Nomfest and Lydia’s. Inspired by artists like Neko Case, The Weather Station, Wintersleep, and Tori Amos, to name a few, Fern fuses folk, indie and contemporary elements into a wholly uniquely sounding record. And central to this sound is Fern’s knack for storytelling:

“Memories inspired a lot of the songs”, says Fern about her song-writing.

“I try not to make anything too literal, but there are definitely stories in the songs. I live for stories. The chance to write out an experience and express it with imagery/instrumentation that gives it another layer of meaning is exciting.”

It is particularly the rich, varied instrumentation that one will notice on this album. The songs are laden with volleys of vocals and melodies that make every chapter of this 4-track EP enjoyable. The tone is nostalgic and sombre throughout, but peaks with the most infectious piano hook in the final song, ‘Prairie Skies’.

The album itself is not for the casual listener- you best listen to it with a good pair of headphones while doing nothing else, which is made all the more rewarding by the sharp production courtesy of the Sound and Silence crew.

All in all, Strange Fingerprints is what it would be like if a banjo, piano, violin, guitar and an artist were at a table, reminiscing about the good old days to each other. I strongly advise you eavesdrop in on their conversation and lose yourself in their stories.

Catch the launch party at Vangelli’s on April 26th. - The Rooster-Thilina Bandara

"Prairie Skies and Strange Fingerprints: Fern drops new video in advance of upcoming EP"

Folk singer to release EP on April 26 at Vangelis

As the founder and principle songwriter of Fern, Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld sees herself foremost as a poet. Rachel has found herself splitting the divide between the poet she was and the musician she’s become. As such, Fern’s new EP Strange Fingerprints, set to drop at her release show on April 26, is reminiscent both of prairie-grown poetry and melodic tenacity.

Fowlie-Neufeld describes the start of her musicality as more imitation than origination. “When I first started putting words to music I felt like I was writing poetry and setting it to music,” she says. “In a poem repetition is still part of it, but it has do something for the rest of the poem. Whereas with music if people can sing along you can repeat something for two minutes.”

Fern began as a solo act, with Fowlie-Neufeld playing open mics and jamming with friends. She grew as a folk singer-songwriter under the influence and support of the friends whom she played with, and eventually felt the urgency to begin recording her music. Rachel self-produced a bedroom EP to share online as Fern in 2012. “I recorded them all like on a one track, one take kind of thing,” says Rachel. “If the first take wasn’t good, I’d just do it all again.”

Since then, Fowlie-Neufeld has acquired an ensemble of musicians for recording and onstage performance. In January of 2013, she approached her friend and collaborator Josh Robinson of The Sound & Silence Collective to record a four song EP and to shoot a music video for one of those songs. The EP was then recorded over the summer of 2013 with assistance from SaskMusic’s Investment Program.

Fern’s music video, set to the single “Prairie Skies”, is appropriately descriptive of the colourful Saskatchewan highway montage from which Fowlie-Neufeld draws influence. The video was created entirely by students at the Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon, including production by Ryley Konechny, Taylor Collison, Calvin Boehr, and Brendan Dahl. Editing was by Taylor Collison.

Fans of Fern might wonder what’s in store for the mild-mannered folk act, as does Fern for that matter. “I don’t really know what people want to know,” says Fowlie-Neufeld. “Definitely tour… before anything. I’d definitely like to release something full-length and continue to collaborate with local artists.” Fern embarked on a short reach earlier this year into Saskatchewan venues outside of Saskatoon, but plans to hit up rural Saskatchewan and beyond in the upcoming months.

Fowlie-Neufeld wrote her first EP on a semi-worn redwood Albarez, though since Fern’s serious foray into recording and performing, she has played a Martin DCPA5K. Fowlie-Neufeld also owns an electric Ibanez hollow-body that she would like to explore within the scope of her folk project. “It’s not that I’m bored…” she says, “there are just so many places I haven’t been with music.”

The inception of Fern as a full band is indicative of Fowlie-Neufeld’s exploratory nature, a sign of her need to fully express and devote herself. “With adding other instruments in I wanted to make more noise,” she says. “I love writing folk music [solo], but at the same time, the appeal of being in a band with other people is hard to ignore.” With the entrancing rhythms Fowlie-Neufeld is producing through Fern, fans will inevitably swoon over whatever comes next.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU6hQtSt87g - Ominocity-Utaq Cooper


Strange Fingerprints EP (April 26, 2014)

3 a.m. Fires-EP (April 2012)



Fern is folk project of Saskatoon based artist Rachel Fowlie-Neufeld. Wrought by the Prairies cityscapes and gravel roads alike, she finds her strength in poetic lyrics and understated arrangements-- aiming to get you right in the gut with songs about angst, love, and those weird thoughts you get stuck in your head right before bed. Over the last two years she has been building a name for herself in Saskatchewans folk scene, from playing open stages to touring the province with Megan Nash in January 2014.

Recorded in the summer of 2013 with funding from SaskMusic and the Government of Saskatchewan, Ferns debut studio-release, Strange Fingerprints, is one of migratory missives calling attention to the cloudy waters of memory captured in song. With a quiet subtlety, Fern recounts family history and the turning of the seasons as the commixed colours of both paint the early morning skies, leaving tinctured fingerprints on bright faces as warm hearts stir to the sound of Spring's whispered breath. With her debut EP, released through The Sound & Silence Collective, Fern has captured the sonorous nature of soft songs on the wind; music that is found in the warm recesses of family attics; poetics that are imbued with the same aged sentiment found in the wood grains of the tallest pines and oldest hardwood floors.

"With the entrancing rhythms Fowlie-Neufeld is producing through Fern, fans will inevitably swoon over whatever comes next." -Utaq Cooper, Ominocity


Band Members