Sillan & Young
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Sillan & Young

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Calgary Sun"

Sillan and Young off on right Feet

October 3, 2008

You may have heard that old joke about jazz.

QUESTION: "What is jazz?"

ANSWER: "Five guys playing different songs in the same room at the same time."

No need to fear anything like that when you're listening to Under My Feet, the new release from Calgary five-piece Sillan and Young.

"I'm allergic to music that's too busy," says singer Johanna Sillanpaa.

"People will understand that there's skill involved, but, as a group, it's not about us showing off our chops."

For sure, Sillan and Young have plenty of chops, and between the five of them, a pretty substantial amount of jazz training.

It's apparent in the amazing vocal control of Sillanpaa, the piano of Chris Andrew, the percussion of Tyler Hornby, everywhere.

And it's for those reasons that they get mistaken for something they don't see themselves as.

"We do have those influences, but Under My Feet probably wouldn't be categorized as a jazz album," says Sillanpaa.

"We like to brand it as acoustic pop."

Given the vacuous nature of modern pop, at its worst anyway, that description may do their music a bit of an injustice.

After all, local pop artists don't usually draw Calgary Philharmonic cellist Tom Megee into the fold, such as they'll be doing when they release the new CD at Zsa Zsa's (formerly Quincy's) tomorrow.

But when you consider some of the artists Sillanpaa cites as influences, Nora Jones, Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, it's easy to see the crossover appeal the group is aiming for.

It's also obvious in some of the songs they choose to record. On the new record, one of the notable tracks is a carefully rearranged version of the Eurythmics' Here Comes the Rain Again.

"We always like to do one cover on every album," says Sillanpaa.

"On our last album, we did True Colors by Cyndi Lauper."

For Sillanpaa, the new album is a highwater mark that didn't seem necessarily likely when she met guitarist and chief collaborator Aaron Young at a gathering of Calgary musicians more than nine years ago.

At the time, Young was busy with the worldwide-touring fiddle phenomenon Barrage.

"We started working together when Aaron had less Barrage activity and was based more out of Calgary. We hadn't really thought 'let's start a project together,' " Sillanpaa recalls.

At first, they did a few shows together and then things took off.

"We started writing together and that's when we realized we had something we really wanted to explore," she says.

"It seemed so natural and the songs came so easy."

Soon they added Hornby, Andrew and bassist Kodi Hutchinson to the team and today there's no looking back as far as Sillanpaa is concerned.

Since her teenage days singing on cruise ships in Sweden, her native country, she has had one plan only.

"As young as I can remember, music is what I wanted to pursue. There's never been a Plan B, and that goes for the whole group." - Rick Overwater

"Edmonton Journal"

Chemistry sparks Sillan & Young

'Pop-jazz, neo-soul' quintet reaching for a wider audience

By Roger Levesque, Freelance January 23, 2009

Because we experience most music on a visceral level, it's easy to forget that so much of it comes about as the product of focused collaboration.

Teamwork and chemistry have been essential to the Calgary duo-cum-quintet known as Sillan & Young. Variously dubbed "pop-jazz" or "neo-soul," they visit The Haven Social Club tonight.

"It really is a family," says singer Johanna Sillanpa of her musical partnership with guitarist Aaron Young. "Aaron is like a brother to me, and there's nothing more personal than sitting down and writing songs together. Of course, not everything is autobiographical but we seem to know everything about each other's life."

Swedish-born Sillanpaa and Saskatchewan-born Young met in Calgary in the late 1990s, shortly after her graduation from MacEwan College. They began working as a duo in 2002, making it a quartet the next year with the addition of bassist Kodi Hutchinson and drummer Tyler Hornby. An eclectic debut disc Better Thing came out in 2004, and the band expanded again to include Edmonton pianist Chris Andrew in 2007.

Both Sillanpaa and Young just put in a busy year with the release of three separate CDs between them, starting with the second Sillan & Young effort, Under My Feet on Chronograph (her Christmas CD One Wish and his solo guitar Works are also new on the same label).

While Sillanpa says "it's difficult to put us in a box" for marketing, she admits the new album reflects a more deliberate effort to "streamline our many influences" and work towards wider appeal. Their new tunes are less guitar-driven, more of a full-band effort, constructed around pop hooks but loose enough that you can imagine the players stretching out jazz-style in live performance.

While their tunes simply credit Sillan & Young, she tends to pen most of the lyrics and melodies, Young sketches out the music, and the rest of the band arranged many of their own parts. Russell Broom (known for his work with Jann Arden) produced Under My Feet, an impressive effort that deserves the radio play it's getting already.

In the end, the group thirsts for wider performance opportunities outside of Alberta. Sillanpaa says playing to 50,000 people at The Montreal Jazz Festival last summer was a career highlight. A California tour is in the offing.

You can hear the Sillan & Young band at the Haven (15120A Stony Plain Rd.) tonight, starting at 8:30. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal - Roger Levesque

"FFWD Weekly"

In a sentimental mood

February jazz for Valentine's Day and beyond

Published February 11, 2010 by Dennis Slater in Music Previews

With Valentine's Day upon us, Calgary's jazz scene is ready to set the mood. Even if you’re not romantically inclined, there's still plenty to choose from.

If you want to carry the mood later into the month, then don't miss Sillan & Young's gig on Thursday, February 18. Johanna Sillanpaa (vocals) and Aaron Young (guitar) have captured Calgary fans with their intimate performances for years. Fitting then, that they've been nominated for the Group of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year categories at the 2010 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. Catch this renowned duo, backed by Kodi Hutchinson (bass) and Tyler Hornby (drums), at Beat Niq. - Denis Slater

"Wave 94.7 Hamilton"

You know, I've never been much for growing up and yet, at the same time, I love grown-up music. And by that I mean music that doesn't insult my intelligence, doesn't drip me knee-deep in sugary slop, doesn't pound me into mindless oblivion and does awaken not only my ears, but my heart and brain as well. Say hello to Calgary's Sillan & Young. Somehow strangely yet satisfyingly combining Sweden and Saskatchewan (their original locales), Johanna Sillanpaa and Aaron Young have put together a magnificently mature record, one that is refreshingly sophisticated without being pretentious. From the opening title track "Under My Feet", the listener becomes immediately aware that this ain't no bubblegum album (I'm not going to measure love in units of tears). This is music for grownups ... adults who have lived, loved, lost and loved again. Tracks like "Where Did It Go" and "All That I Can Do" echo these strains of a weathered heart, touchingly, poignantly, achingly. Johanna's voice expresses everything ... like your best friend sharing wine and truths. Aaron's guitar and harmonies never overwhelm. Just compliment ... perfectly. Even their cover of the Lennox/Stewart classic "Here Comes The Rain Again" seems more seasoned. Sillan & Young are nominated for Duo/Group of the Year (Johanna is also up for female vocalist) at the 2010 Smooth Jazz Awards and they'll be at the show. They're also performing at the Lowville Bistro Sunday Apr. 25. Sorry folks - it's already a sold-out show. I personally can't wait. - Vickie van Dyke, Midday Host

"C-Jazz Festival 2006"

“Johanna’s impeccable voice and Aaron’s award winning guitar playing are sending their new cd, ‘Better Thing’ up the charts across the continent.” - Calgary Jazz Association

"Medicine Hat Music Festival"

“With a toe in a variety of genres, including jazz and pop, Sillan & Young have forged their own sound that manages to be very straight forward and accessible while containing an undercurrent of sophistication and complexity. Johanna uses her voice like a painter’s palette knife to carve and shape melodic lines into expressions that take the listener beyond the lyrics into the depths of her own aesthetic soul. Aaron Young is one of the finest one-man guitar shows around. From elements of Bruce Cockburn to Jim Hall, Aaron creates a full sound scape while maintaining a transparency that allows Johanna's voice to remain the focus.”
- Lyle Rebbeck- Artistic Director

"Alberta Scene 2005"

“Their debut release Better Thing is a pleasure from start to finish and has been warmly embraced by music fans and critics alike. Characterized by their innate musicality, intimate and heartfelt live shows, and dynamic song writing, you don’t want to miss…” - Alberta Scene & Ottawa National Arts centre

"Qualico Patio Series"

“The unique and everlasting spirit of this soulful acoustic group is said to be most evident in their live performances, which give their audiences intimate glimpses into their art.” - Festival Place

""The Homestretch" CBC Radio"

“I think this is a great CD. It's really a surprise. Not a surprise that it is great, but that I hadn't heard of you before.” - Jennifer Keane

"CBC Saturday Night Blues"

“The first time I heard Sillan & Young’s CD “Better Thing,” I listened to it three times in a row. Great singing and exceptional guitar playing and grooves. Then the depth and quality of the songs hit you. Truly great talent.” - Holger Peterson

"Ironwood Stage"

"Johanna's stage presence is matched only by her wonderful voice. Unique original music, masterfully performed. They blew our sold out house away."
- Josh Marantz


"Under My Feet"
Released October 2008
(C) Chronograph Records

"Better Thing"
Released January 2005
(C) Chronograph Records



Smart and soulful, Sillan & Young have effortlessly been drawing in their faithful listeners with their eclectic acoustic pop, genuine songwriting and intimate performance style for five years now. Their music is deep and poetic, resonating like a good friend that always knows what to say. Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties or beyond, you just might find yourself falling for Sillan & Young. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.

Led by the little blond with the big voice, Johanna Sillanpaa and co-led by guitarist Aaron Young, this accomplished quintet is rounded out with rhythm section of Kodi Hutchinson, Chris Andrew and Tyler Hornby. They hail from far away places like Sweden and Saskatchewan, tossing their individual influences in the collective talent pot that is Sillan & Young. They’re all accomplished on their respective instruments. All dedicated to their art. All oozing the passion and heart it takes to succeed in this fickle business.

Whether you’re listening to them on your ipod or lucky enough to lap them up in person, you’ll quickly try to categorize their oddly uncategorizable sound. Is it the love child of Damien Rice and India Arie? Perhaps. Is it a younger and sassier second cousin of Dianna Krall? Maybe. The real answer is Sillan & Young are simply and authentically 100% Sillan & Young. In a time when everyone is desperate to sound like someone else, they are happy to sound like themselves. How refreshing.

While their new album, "Under My Feet", may salute their first CD "Better Thing", there is certainly an evolution and newness they can’t wait to share. The folk, jazz and acoustic roots are still there, but there’s a fresher more streamlined presence that Juno-winning producer Russell Broom helped make possible.

It’s exciting times for a group brimming with talent and empty on ego. Sillan & Young have never reached for the cash grab or instant gratification, preferring to stay the course and remain focused on their craft. Playing to crowds bigger than the cities some of them grew up in, they have heard the appreciation from their faithful followers go from a gracious clap to a loud roar. They’ve also been reaping some impressive industry attention, including Johanna’s nomination for the 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards. Proud? Yes. Letting it go to their head? No. Sillan & Young just aren’t like that.