The Bonsais
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The Bonsais

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Funk




"Bonsais CD Release "Colourspeak""

It has been a solid few weeks for the Kelowna music scene, last week I wrote about Wild Son’s debut album release, and this week, I’m featuring the release of another Kelowna band… The Bonsais.

The indie rock trio released their debut album just last month - November 20th. COLOURSPEAK, an eight song release, was recorded and mixed in Kelowna at downtown’s Arc House Studios. You can find the record HERE.

Adam Wittke produced and engineered the band’s debut album, and he was thrilled to have the opportunity: “The sound is like nothing I’ve heard from a 3-piece before, which is why I was so excited to work on the project…”

The Bonsais is Blaine Swanson (guitar, vocals), Christien Ellis (bass) and Paul Minor (drums). The three band members bring different musical influences with them, and this is evident in the group’s overall sound, as the genre-bending trio incorporate elements from funk, disco, reggae, rock and blues into their music.

The Bonsais are performing in Kelowna this coming Saturday evening (December 12th) - they are playing at Doc Willoughby’s with Floyd Meets Brown. Doors are at 9pm, and $10 will get you in.

And don’t forget; the holidays are just around the corner… maybe an album from a local band would make the perfect gift for the music lover on your list! - Kelowna Now

"The Bonsais Interview"

Colourspeak is The Bonsais first official original Album release, and consists of 8 music tracks. Supported with solid lead vocals from Blaine Swanson, each track tends to have a light rock influence, at times descending in and out to more heavy on the drums and bass. However, you can hear other music genre influences being played out in each of the 8 tracks. Blaine, describes their sound to “sitting in the rock soup”.

It’s a sound created when the band first formed and has been practiced to near perfection. They are differently a band I want to hear more from in the future.

Go over to Bandcamp take a listen, and if you like what you hear, please support these guys with your next album buy.

Usually when I ask questions the answers come from whoever takes the lead, however, not only do Blaine, Paul and Christien have their own influences in music that helped to create Bonsais unique sound they also opted to answer each interview question in their own original way.

Let’s start with some background info on you guys, how and when did you all get together?

Blaine – Paul and I first met in 2014 while taking the Audio Engineering program at the Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna. Paul had joined a band on drums with other musicians in the program, but they were missing a bass player and word was out around campus. I had just moved from Saskatchewan and was fairly new to the scene so when I caught wind of an opening I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m guitar player first and foremost, but ended up playing bass for this band, so I could just play. To be honest, the band was not the greatest, but what it did do was open the door for us to start down our own musical path.

Paul – After hanging around each other during jams and on campus for a few months Blaine and I eventually figured out our musical interests were very similar, as well as our philosophy of how to go about creating, playing and distributing music. This was the beginning of The Bonsais. Over the next year and a half we practiced and wrote religiously without playing a single show. This was done on purpose. We felt we needed to learn each others habits and playing style as well as establish our own sound.

Christien – During the end of this period is when I came into the picture. As well as being a childhood friend of Paul and a bass player, I just so happened to be moving to Kelowna to take the same program as the two had just finished a year earlier. We all thought it would be a good fit musically as Paul and I had played with each other for years prior to heading to Kelowna.

Blaine – After a very “brief” tryout by Christien the lineup of The Bonsais finally took shape as a three piece. This is where we stand now.

Colourspeak is your first official Album release. How long have you all been working on the release, who writes the lyrics and the musical scores for the Album?

Paul – We worked on the album off and on for about a year and a half. Time constraints due to college and work made for a less than desirable tracking schedule. Although, in the end the finished product certainly seemed to be worth the wait.

Blaine – During the conception of The Bonsais the majority of the songs were written by myself and then would be brought to Paul and the two of us would arrange each song together. Our former audio engineering instructor, Adam Wittke, was brought on to co-produce and engineer the album at his own Arc House Studios. The arrangements were then reworked again with Adam and Christien to take their final form.

Christien – I came on board when the album was just in the beginning stages so most of the songs were already written. They were re-worked so many times, though it was like we were starting fresh anyway. I always had new parts to practice even during the recording process.

Ok, I’ve got to ask this… Who came up with (BONSAIS) for the band name. I must admit when I first read the band name I came up with a mental picture of a Bonsai tree. Soooooo is there a story behind the name.

Blaine – You got it. For years I’ve tried my hand at growing bonsai trees, some turning out well and others not so well. What I’ve taken from this is the time and care it takes for the trees to be grown properly. It’s about the process as much as the result. This is the philosophy used in The Bonsais.

Paul – It goes back to Blaine and I working on our craft behind closed doors for almost two years before we felt it was ready to be shown to anyone. Everything is grown organically and with great care. It doesn’t matter if that’s concerning song writing or just getting better at your instrument everyday. It’s about being passionate and disciplined enough to take the time and do things right. The hope is that it comes through in our live show and recordings.

So is making albums and performing, becoming your full time career, or are you guys still working the 9-5 jobs?

Christien – We all try and work in the audio/music world full time, even though it can be a tough industry. I just graduated from college and am currently freelance engineering.

Blaine – I own and operate One House Studios in Kelowna as well as being the head audio engineer.

Paul – I teach drum lessons and work part time as a session drummer.

All the band members seem to have different taste’s in music, how would you describe Bonsais music, unique sound to those who have yet to discover the band?

Paul – We do have many similar tastes, but at the same time we’re all unique in that regard, which I think is healthy to create any new and original music.

Christien – Our sound touches on blues, funk, disco, indie and reggae all while being based on rock and roll. We can reference bands, but feel like that pigeonhole’s us a bit. We try to never be tied to one genre, but still have a unique sound.

Blaine – We try to sit in the rock soup if you know what I mean? That way we can add in different flavors of other genres to taste.

Any message for your fans or future fans out there?

Paul – I think we’re just scratching the surface. Since the album finished, we have written around 30 songs that we hope to get out in the near future. Stay tuned!

Blaine – Going off what Paul said this also means that our live shows are never the same since we always try and play new material. We are trying our best to break the mold of the cliché’ rock bands you so often hear nowadays. Originality in our music is paramount to us.

Christien – I just want fans to know that we will always stay true to what we believe. As mentioned above it all comes down to the music for us and we hope fans see that. - Steve Jabberdi


Still working on that hot first release.



There is notable buzz surrounding The Bonsais with the recent release of their debut album "Colourspeak".  The group will be departing on a Canada wide tour in support of the album.  Recorded and mixed at Arc House Studios in Kelowna B.C. with engineer and producer Adam Wittke (The Rockies, Raquel Cole).

The sound is like nothing I’ve heard from a 3-piece before, which is why I was so excited to work on the project.  The band thinks of their sound as a whole rather than taking individual pieces and parts and putting them together.” 

– Adam Wittke

The Bonsais’ music transitions from aggressive to subdued, outgoing to introspective, harmonic to melodic with ease.  Their music seems to breathe with dynamic, energetic rhythms and pulls you in with its catchy hooks and clever songwriting

 – Naked Waves Productions

The Bonsais sound comes from blending their various tastes to create one unified soundscape.  They’re influenced by funk, blues, disco, indie and reggae all while keeping the roots of the band firmly seated in rock and roll.  With this rock and roll foundation it allows the trio to utilize their influences while maintaining their signature rock sound. 

Band Members