The Secretaries
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The Secretaries

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Secretaries Harness the Power of the Magic Triangle"

"As anyone who’s caught one of its costume-themed, dance-contest-in-the-middle, raucous live shows can attest, despite cramming big rock ambitions into intimate little songs, the Secretaries feel less like a band than an incredibly fun social club that happens to revolve around playing ethereally catchy rock."


As the Secretaries settle into bar seats at the Southside Sugar Bowl, friendly band banter turns almost immediately towards recapping the band meeting from the night before, commiserating on a post-mortem of the night’s events, completely irrespective of the note pad and recorder placed on the bar.

There was wine, apparently, and talks of dreams, and an incredibly delicious, wheat-free chocolate cake that was lucky to survive the night in drummer Natasha Fryzuk’s fridge.

“I woke up this morning, and after my breakfast, it was looking really good,” Fryzuk explains as guitarist Amy van Keeken and bassist Colleen Brown nod along. “I had a bite, but I had to put the rest of it away before I finished it. It’s trouble.”

Van Keeken, coming to the full realization that they’re in an interview, offers an explanation.

“Yeah, we’re not actually a band, we’re just a culinary delight group who has potlucks,” she says with a sarcastic nod.

“You know, actually, every time we have a band meeting, there are more songs made, and they’ re always about boyfriends and food,” points out Brown.

“Like ‘Dwayne, Dwayne, Dwayne-Dwayne Dwayne,’ or however that goes,” she adds, followed by a brief chorus of Fryzuk and van Keeken doing the same, before they all break into laughter.
Ignoring the obvious fact that Songs About Boyfriends and Food would be an utterly fantastic name for an album, the casual ease the trio exudes while propped sloppily on a few bar stools, shooting the shit and laughing at each other’s jokes, seems strangely appropriate.

As anyone who’s caught one of its costume-themed, dance-contest-in-the-middle, raucous live shows can attest, despite cramming big rock ambitions into intimate little songs, the Secretaries feel less like a band than an incredibly fun social club that happens to revolve around playing ethereally catchy rock.
The band is ready to admit as much, too; from fairly inauspicious beginnings, they’ve become tight-knit seams, more than willing to admit that the band has become something a whole lot more than a name for the trio.

“This band actually started because I got an electric guitar and wanted to start jamming, and on the second jam session I organized, these were the only two that showed up,” explains van Keeken with a shrug. “Now we have pow-wows in bar washrooms and drink tequila before every show. We connect with each other.”

“Yeah, I mean, if I were to move away—if any member of the band were to leave, or something, I don’t know if the Secretaries would be the same,” adds Fryzuk. “It would just kind of ruin the flow. Even our best shows are when we’re all picking up on each other and listening to each other and reacting to each other.”

“We’ve actually talked about it before: we have this triangle of power,” continues Brown. “We’re all connected and ... ”

She trails off for a second as Fryzuk makes a ribald gesture with the “magic triangle” that draws muffled chuckles from van Keeken. All three exchange a glance, which causes Fryzuk to burst out laughing, and Brown to roll her eyes.

“Alright, well, I don’t mean what those two are up to, but we do have it.” V

- Vue Weekly

"Headband and The Secretaries Review"

Travis Sargent

Flash floods didn’t keep crowds away from Tuesday’s packed show at the Empress—though the bar would probably make a fine ark in a pinch. At the helm would be Headband frontman Bobby Yiannakoulias, the full-time crooner and part-time handyman responsible for the group’s theatrical set design. The band looks decidedly sci-fi, bathed in eerie blue soundwave projections—as if Fritz Lang directed movies about rock ’n’ rollers instead of robot feminoids.

The band tore through a set of bluesy metal, harking back to a time when heavy music was synonymous with denim, greasy hair, and acne, capping off the evening with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” that left both stoners and leather daddies alike howlin’ at the moon.
Despite drummer Tash Fryzuk splittin’ her pretty head open like a ripe summer melon, The Secretaries delivered an elegant opening set. If your mom dug Heart and Some Girls-era Stones, you would definitely have a soft spot (or hard-on) for these jams.

The group’s usual crowd of sweaty rockers was peppered with bespectacled CKUA-ers and flabby folk fans, but even those pale-skinned weirdos couldn’t ruin a rousing game of “Pin the Head-Band on the Headband”, orchestrated mid-set by the foxy threesome. The winner took home a plate of Rice Krispies squares, but when the Wednesday morning hangover kicks in, there are no winners, only losers. - See Magazine July 10, 2008

"The Secretaries open for Gogol Bordello!"

Fawnda Mithrush

It wasn’t until the closing moments of the Secretaries’ sweet, sweet opening set that I realized it was too late to turn back for a beer. The audience had closed in around the stage and had no intention of backing up — or being gentle. Not that beer would have helped. The champagne-cork spasm of the crowd was inevitable — everyone suddenly turned bansheeshitcrazy the second they heard violinist Sergey Ryabstev’s wailing Romany call to arms from backstage. Hütz and the band sprinted out, laid down hit after hit, the crowd funneled wildly, stealing hats and shoes and gropes, Yuri’s accordion swelled and shrank, and the girls did backup dance routines between characteristic shrieks. It was everything a GB fan could have hoped for, from the slew of singles off Underdog World Strike (including a red wine-sloshed rendition of “Start Wearing Purple”) to the lung-crushing joy of “Wonderlust King,” to the morbid lullaby in “Alcohol” — the night soaked through the shirts and souls of everyone with a screeching gypsy kid inside them. - SEE Magazine Oct 23, 2008

"The Secretaries New Year '09"

Mary Christa O'Keefe

Of the mysteries of the universe, one’s particularly vexing in its persistence and simplicity: why don’t the Secretaries have an album out?

Sure, there’s a four-song EP from 2007, a demo showcasing their gutsy ‘70s-flavoured rock, each copy wrapped in handmade artwork. But the trio’s been together well over two years, has a devoted fanbase and played several lauded shows. Why the wait?

Bassist Colleen Brown emits a fleeting, almost imperceptible sigh. It’s the “trooper” pause—a deliberate turn towards optimism, shaking off nagging downheartedness nipping at the heels.

“I don’t know!” she exclaims. “We’ve applied for grants and are saving up. I guess it takes a while before its fruit falls. We’re waiting to hear back for a couple things even now. It’s our New Year’s resolution, though: record an album, finally!”

But we love you!

“We love us too,” Brown laughs. “The whole concept from the beginning was just to play together, have fun, see what happens. A theatrical thing, almost. We still have that because we love it, but the songs are strong and our playing together is just getting stronger and stronger. We never expected to get good; we never expected to be able to write the songs we’ve been able to write, but there’s an energy we have, a joy in creating.”

Brown turns wistful. “We’re ready for it to happen—we have the songs. We could make a double CD, at this point! Along with all the other merch ideas we have: a cookbook and drink recipes. We could have a gift basket of Secretaries stuff, if we could get an album out. Tell everyone we’re totally open to sponsors. You’ll make your money back—we promise!” - Vue Weekly Dec. 25, 2008

"Gogol Bordello w/The Secretaries Live Review"

Fish Griwkowsky

Anticipation is bipolar — sometimes revving it up inside your heart leads to disappointment. In the case of Gogol Bordello’s delayed return to ferociously Slavic central Alberta, the wait really was worth it as hype paid off.

The refugee track star clothes, the wedding dancing, the tight-fisted clutching of hedonism, these elements came together with an energy that simply cannot be successfully faked. Even though the Bordello were on the end of their long tour — each of their eight musical demons visibly sagging here and there for the simple purpose of getting more air into their lungs — they had the pit sweating within seconds of coming on.

“Ultimate” is the song Eugene Hütz said hello with, which meant an instant sing-along to the rather Yoda-garbled sentiment: “If we are here not to do/what you and I wanna do/and go forever crazy with it/why the hell we are even here?” Indeed. Hütz followed this mantra: from straddling the bouncer moat, pouring full bottles of wine onto (and into) his moshers, to choking Elizabeth Sun as she and Pamela Jintana Rachine first appeared in fetish office/circus wear.

Shirt torn off, body fat simply can’t cling to this springboard Ukrainian New Yorker. Swirling around him, accordion, fiddle, bass and guitar — plus the shrieking sex nymphs pounding on a giant drum or playing with fire buckets as everyone was ordered to “start wearing purple” again. This further enlivened a certain costumed subspecies among the raised fists. Seductive madness, this “gypsy punk.”

Before they came on, a fine slot for the local Secretaries — three beautiful ladies mixing Joni Mitchell, Heart and dirty, dirty swears. The crowd dug it, especially their scolding “Dead in the Night,” which in no way described the kaleidoscopic evening. - Exclaim Magazine, Nov 2008

"Show at Black Frog (Vancouver BC)"

Rachel Fox

A cursory look at the Secretaries’ MySpace page was enough to inform me that I was, without question, going to like these ladies. My interest was piqued by their inclusion of “’70s Heart, feathers, and tequila” among their list of influences—things that I, too, consider influential. I Want to Be a Secretary! Sensing that there were “kindred spirits” (the kind to which Anne Shirley, aka Anne of Green Gables, kept alluding) in my midst, I sat down alone at a table with notebook in hand, feeling somewhat self-conscious. In a lame attempt at maintaining some level of even-handed music journalism ethics, I kept thinking of William Miller’s declaration in Almost Famous, “I am the enemy!” Except that I’m not, because I liked them right away. These are the kind of cool, fun, smart girls I wish I knew more of in high school. (Alas, it was just me.) If I was in a band: I, too, would dress up for a show; I, too, would wear chic-yet-sensible Mary Janes with heels; I, too, would wear feathers in my hair (which, as it happens, that night I did); I, too would adorn my microphone stand with pretty flowers and gold tulle (Stevie Nicks would approve); And I, too, would make the boys in my band dress in suits and wear felt dress hats (in a cool, rather than ironic, way).

The Secretaries and the Brassholes The Secretaries (Colleen Brown, Amy van Keeken) hail from Edmonton and are currently touring with their new, self-titled album. Amy fills me in on the recent line-up changes and that the boys in the band are actually the Brassholes, a horn-y trio (Steve Hutchison, Darrren Radbourne, Greg Hutchinson) who all have day jobs that have nothing to do with secretarial work. (“I am a receptionist, which is kind of funny, but not an actual secretary,” Amy informs me.) We talk a little about the aesthetics of the band and how she and Colleen wanted to incorporate dressing up as part of their onstage persona. My big question had to do with whether or not the girls had to make the boys dress up, too —alas, I am mistaken, because rather than having to crack the whip at the Brassholes, they don the suits and hats willingly. I’m impressed, although it probably doesn’t hurt that Amy’s boyfriend is a practicing Brasshole. Fleetwood Mac Yes, Death Cab for Cutie and Yo La Tengo? Not So Much “Does this make you the Mick Fleetwood of the Secretaries?” I ask. Amy takes a moment and responds in the affirmative, before adding something about the “power of boobs.” I could not agree more, and suggest this be co-opted as the title for their next album. It’s too bad that there wasn’t a bigger crowd at the show that night, because the Secretaries were on fire. Unfortunately, they couldn’t compete with Yo La Tengo playing the Commodore, which is where Vancouver’s hipster elite flocked. (I’m not hip enough for Yo La Tengo, who along with Death Cab for Cutie and Belle & Sebastian exist in an impenetrable vortex of indie-alt-pop-cool I can only ever hope to appreciate. Until then, I will tap on that glass from the outside, wondering what it’s like “in there.”) [I would hasten to add that the Black Frog, like my dear local venue the Princeton Pub, is still not recognized as a place bands play.-Ed.]

Amy started the show by pumping the crowd and asking whether or not we “want to hear some rock and roll tonight?” The band proceeded to, indeed, rock and roll for two raucous sets. The ’70s-era Heart influence was distinctly audible on the lush, dreamy, layered-guitar-sound of “Makin’ Me Pay”, though the Secretaries come off as jauntier, poppier, and somewhat less aggressive than the Wilson sisters (thanks to the magical levity a horn section can provide). On “Tattoo” the ladies’ guitars were really tight; Amy and Colleen’s voices harmonized beautifully, sounding great in spite of the questionable acoustics at The Black Frog. The band engaged with each other and the crowd between songs, adding to the overall sense of fun which was only amplified when they did a group shot of tequila. If there was any doubt about the depth of my girly crush by the time they pulled out a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” (said Amy, “we have a bright future playing weddings” ), it was utterly cemented when I heard the opening bassline of Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go For That”. If it means anything, I found myself dancing and singing along on the floor In spite of my deep-seeded pathological fear of dying in a crowd at a concert. - Guttersnipe Oct. 21 2009

"HeroHill Album Review"

When you take a quick glance at the old-timey photos that adorn the inside of the debut eponymous disc from Edmonton’s The Secretaries, you kind of expect that the nine songs that are included will be heavy on picking, banjo, folk and tunes crafted for the earth tones of Fall or perfectly tailored for sharply dressed patrons of 1940’s gin joints.

Instead, you get hit with crunching riffs and a swagger you normally associate with matching denim jackets/jeans and devil horns, but The Secretaries do this with a feminine touch. The kick drum stomp of Hey Girl is softened with a playful cowbell, killer horns courtesy of The Brassholes and spot on harmonies do the same on Woman, Woman. Even more surprising is the effortless transition to pop on tracks like Accident, where the vocals that accompany the crunch are almost folky (dare I say they deliver a Joni-esque chorus) and reveal a fragility that most “chick rockers” try so hard to cover up.

They still have a hard edge – Maya and Becky of the Pack AD would approve of the bluesy sludge Makin’ Me Pay and feedback heavy Sold Out of Love/Fuck Dirt City show these women can crank it up and rock with the best of them (you just start nodding faster an faster when they start ripping on Fuck Dirt City) - they just have more tricks up their sleeves (or under their dresses). Even the seven minute slow burner benefits from horn crescendos that give your ear something else other than the expected powerful vocals and heavy guitar noodles.

They also do a good job of lightening the listen after those 14-minutes of heaviness, letting the double vocals, horn blasts and catchy-as-hell riffage of Tattoo and the insanity of the grunts, growls and nonsensical chorus of MFNDNTN (Dead of the Night) crank the energy back up for a finishing kick that Usain Bolt could be proud of.

The Secretaries are local favorites, but over the years they've had had their ups and downs. They've lost members, lost steam and desire but never lost heart, and this record is overflowing with just that. Bottom line, The Secretaries have put out a record that is fun, feminine but still can rock your face off. Basically the only question left is ... why aren't you downloading this record right now? - HeroHill Oct. 14 2009

"The Secretaries Kick Ass in Dictation Nation"

There's something uniquely Alberta about Edmonchuckians The Secretaries: Maybe it's the names (the founding members are guitarist/vocalist Amy van Keeken, bassist/vocalist Colleen Brown and drummer/accordionist/vocalist Natasha Fryzuk), or possibly their style of song slinging (a moving target between The Donnas and a stripped-down Dixie Chicks with some classic rock references thrown in just 'cause), or possibly because these North Saskatchewan River Valley girls did their very first gig in that iconographic Edmontonian landmark, the West Edmonton Mall (on the ice rink, no less, though the wave pool would've been cool too).

Since that first shop-til-you-rock concert, the band has added a male complement (a horny three-piece boy band called Brassholes, who have since put the wind beneath their wings - you can kill me later - examples of which may be found at They have also just released their self-titled, full-length debut, which the band describes as a "pretty rockin' thing that might remind you a little of Heart, making out, or even just the old days, when people would lay their feelings on the line without sounding like a pampered, sulkily misunderstood, gravel-throated man-baby." We can get behind that.

Last week, The Secretaries graced the cover of Edmonton alt-weekly Vue (, and next week the winsome sixsome head out on the road for select ports of call in British Columbia and Alberta, namely the following:

Mon Oct 19, Golden BC @ The Golden Taps
Wed Oct 21, Vancouver BC @ The Black Frog
Sat Oct 24 - Victoria BC @ Logans w/ Hank and Lily
Mon Oct 26, Winlaw BC (near Nelson) @ Cedar Creek Cafe w/ Hank and Lily
Tue Oct 27, Fernie BC @ The Art Station w/ Hank and Lily
Thu Oct 29 - Lethbridge AB @ the Henotic (w/ Hank and Lily)
Fri Oct 30, High River AB (near Calgary) @ Dead End Productions w/ Hank and Lily
Sat Oct 31 - Edmonton AB @ the Artery - The National Beat, Oct. 13 2009

"Vue Weekly Cover Feature"

Mary Christa O'Keefe

Oh, the thunder in my head. A hangover is as mutable and moody as any storm working through the Alberta sky, each having a peculiar trajectory of its own, dictated by an ever-changing confluence of chemistry and circumstance. I slept deeply and earned it well, over several bottles of good red wine and shots of whiskey cushioned by a splendid home-cooked meal, so the hangover is dull, muffled and distant, blurred at the edges.
Perhaps the Secretaries suffered more acutely. As I tottered out the door late the evening before, guitarist Amy van Keeken, bassist Colleen Brown, one adorably excited doggie and the three gentlemen that make up the ladies' horn section, the Brassholes, danced through van Keeken's cozy kitchen, singing along to a selection of '70s soul and rock and passing around yet another bottle, still going strong. Van Keeken, an effortlessly warm matriarch, saw me off with leftovers and a stern command to call when I was home, so she wouldn't worry.

When one ponders what a rock 'n' roll life might look like, a scene of easy domesticity and conviviality isn't the first thing that leaps, David Lee Roth jump-kick-style, to mind. Yet the Secretaries has a sort of seamlessness to its world: the music the players make together exists on a continuum that also embraces their friendships, daily routines, other creative outings into craftiness and cookery and the music they make apart.

Considered aurally, the music they make together seemingly exists in an altogether other realm. The band has been known throughout its nearly four years as part of Edmonton's genre-roiling indie scene for its wholly-committed-to-fun, theatrically-inclined live shows and a steadfast pursuit of a powerful sound that unapologetically and unpretentiously references and carries forward the harder aspects of classic rock, drawn liberally from sources that DIY-loving bo-hoser types are only supposed to appreciate nostalgically or in finger-quoting irony, depending on how hard-bitten their cynicism is. Who admits to sincerely admiring the artistry of Heart? What indie band unpretentiously pursues its own version of a big-ass stadium rock sound?

"We are who we are. We play what we play," shrugs van Keeken. She's not being evasive or glib, but matter-of-fact in the sum of her influences. "I've always loved rock: I love the feedback, I love the tone, I love the craft, I love Led Zeppelin, I love the Ramones. I like that kind of craft, and I love the darkness of artists like Black Sabbath. I love Wanda Jackson."

"I love Weezer," offers Brown, an elfin woman who exudes a constant exploratory curiosity. "They write pop-rock gems that feel like they come from a real place—they feel good. "

"Chrissie Hynde ... " adds van Keeken.

"Nina Persson, Joni Mitchell ... " Brown chimes in.

"Kings of Leon. French New Wave. I love Mel Tormé and Frank Sinatra—they work it," van Keeken says. "Iron Maiden—beautiful and soulful. John Lee Hooker—for his sexiness."

Brown eyes her colleague. "I always like more three-minute songs, poppy, artsy. I think that's why we compliment each other."

The effects of this wildly promiscuous listening may not be readily apparent in the amp-shaking immediacy of their live shows, but the details and architecture of their songs are revealed on the group's long-awaited self-titled debut. It's a smoky culture-warp of a record, synthesizing several waves of musical rebellion, pumped with ferocious guitar riffery and long sinewy solos, fist-pumping rhythmic structures plunging into atmospheric blues-tinged spaces, warm blasts of horns, and the Secretaries' trademark huge, gutsy, harmony-heavy vocals. The record has a frank sensuality to it, oddly heightened by arid production and toughened up with a scrappy delivery.

"What we wanted was a little loose, raw, rough and sexy," van Keeken recalls. "Sometimes it was a struggle—we love playing live, and it's so different in the studio. You don't have that energy to feed off. We'd work all day at our jobs, go to the studio, record for five hours, and try to summon the feeling without the tequila shots, the heavy sweating, the audience. But of course albums are different than live shows anyway."
Edmonton-based producer Ian Martin—who, incidentally, prodded van Keeken towards electric guitar a few years ago—was an enthusiastic abettor in capturing the Secretaries' rock 'n' roll soul while showcasing the band's eclectic strengths.

"We were prepared when we went into the studio," adds van Keeken. "In rehearsals, we discussed what we wanted, picked the tempo, made production notes, arranged them, got them right. We were prepared. We'd go in and say, 'Ian, we're doing 'Fuck Dirt City.' This is how it's arranged, the instrumentation we want, feel and mood we want.' And Ian was 100% behind that. He was awesome."

Both van Keeken and Brown express pride in the record, mixed with more than a little relief.

"Our album was a long time coming," van Keeken notes. "We were actually going to take a break for a while, then we got word of a grant coming through for us. The parameters were money and time, and the album's a product of that. These are the songs that fit together, that we play really well right now, and, of course, the ones we love. It's a pretty good snapshot of where we are."

In retrospect, the timing was maybe a blessing: earlier, there would be no Brassholes on the record. The three-man horn section—a spectacular sonic and visual counterpoint to the hard-rocking Secretaries—was originally assembled this past February as a special treat for a fundraising show, but they've grown symbiotically with the ladies, and into a close-knit brotherhood since meeting each other through rehearsals.

"They're a band in their own right," van Keeken states, "who just happen to exclusively play with our band, at the moment. We're very lucky—they really go above and beyond. They have coordinated outfits, dance moves, they take their shirts off. It's not what we expected—we were looking for an all-girl horn section—but these guys wanted to play with us, and when they met, they wanted to play with each other, and they work so hard and add so much."

Yet maybe the timing was off. As the Secretaries prepared a tour in support of the record, founding drummer Tash Fryzuk bowed out of the band, citing the need to tend to other parts of her creative life. Brown and van Keeken are circumspect about Fryzuk's departure. It's clearly a fresh break, still tender.

Brown searches for an analogy: "It's like a breakup with a boy, if he wants to have babies and you know you don't. As hard as it is to tear away from a group, it was right and true and honourable to do it. Just because you break up doesn't mean you don't love them to pieces and wish them well."

Van Keeken sighs. "We're trying to take it with patience and love and goodwill. Tash has other projects. She has a different journey she has to follow. I hate to sound like a hippie ... "

"But we are rock hippies," Brown interjects. "It's all her on the album, and the songs we wrote together."

"And both of us feel that's a great thing. It's the fruit of our labours for the past three years," van Keeken concludes.

Since Fryzuk's exit, the drummer's seat's been warmed by a couple temporary asses, all dude. It remains to be seen how it will be filled, and what direction a new member—XX or XY—will move them in.

One of the Secretaries' defining characteristics since the band's inception has been the membership's status as lady rockers. If folk is about intimacy and nuance, if pop channels the moods of the times, then rock 'n' roll delineates the broad strokes of myth. The form is primal, commanding immersion and participation. Rock has the cool logos, the signature gestures, the pyrotechnics, the fist to the sky, the anthems, the heated urgency. Female artists who claim the totemic power of rock for themselves, while part of a steel-ovaried lineage, are still rare enough to stand out in a genre where AC/DC knocks on about 'big balls,' Black Sabbath looks for 'dirty women,' and Aerosmith advertises its 'hard place'.

The goddesses must answer with their own drives and hungers to fill out the pantheon.

The Secretaries are justifiably wary of being cast in the role of All Women Everywhere In Rock, but they do harness the energy of rock in service of feminine voices throughout the debut: "Lazy Lover" exhorts a tongue-tied honey to get down to business, "Fuck Dirt City" defies soul-crushing urban monotony and "Makin' Me Pay" addresses the debt-stresses of the creative class. None of these sentiments is couched in passivity or self-doubt or even that much reflection: we are who we are, we want what we want, guitar solo, chorus. Rock on.

Or as the guitar-throttling van Keeken puts it, "When people tell us we play with 'balls,' it means that we're playing with intensity and emotion and even sexuality. Well, I play with my vagina—and that is my strength." - Vue Weekly Oct. 8 2009

"SEE's Employees of the Month"

Kathleen Bell

Get the tequila out and your red shoes on: Edmonton’s very own The Secretaries are releasing their debut LP! Finally. It’s been a long time coming and to set the stage for the celebrations Saturday, I meet Amy van Keeken and Colleen Brown in the quiet, late-night glow of Martini’s on 109th.

When I get there, it’s so silent you can hear chairs squeak. There’s a dude studying in the corner and a man by the window actively staring into the distance. But the calm doesn’t last long, since the party seems to just follow these girls around. Before I can drop my first question, the place fills with friends. It’s all happy hellos and introductions. The laughter gets louder and the conversation topics fly from recipes to new music to hangovers and even Fish Griwkowsky appears off the street. (Hey, Fish!)

“And here we are, back to ‘We totally need extra cash,’” Brown explains as van Keeken turns to talk with the table behind us about a restaurant idea. “We’re multitaskers.”

Ask any musician and they’ll say the same thing: you have to be able to juggle multiple roles in this business, because picking up a bass (like Brown did four years ago) or buying a Stratocaster (like van Keeken) doesn’t come with a paycheque.

“It is one of those depressing factors that if the money’s not in place, if you’re not getting the funding or support, then it’s really difficult to get motivated to put something out and to keep moving forward as a band,” Brown says. Indeed, not having the funds was the band’s only impediment to shredding it up in the studio setting, since they’ve been shredding down venues all around town for years now. “Where do you go if you can’t get the money to do the recording? What’s the next step? The motivation was not just to write songs and to play shows, but to take it to a higher level of performance.”

Those uncertainties put The Secretaries on hold around Christmas last year, until, like a gift from Santa, the grants came through. However, when they received the money, they lost their drummer, Natasha Fryzuk. While she happily stuck it out to record the album, Fryzuk knew her band was moving on and she couldn’t move with them.

“The biggest issue is that it’s a really big step to go from being in a band that’s for fun and for recreation, and to do some recording and then next, step up to be in a band that goes on tour, and spends all its vacation time on tour and loses money and puts all their money and time and effort into that project,” Brown pushes out in a single breath.

“You know when you get that pull in your life [saying], ‘I’m not on my path’?” adds van Keeken. “Even though it’s really hard for everybody, we totally understand and I think it’s really awesome that she’s doing what she wants to do. I’m so proud of her, because it was hard. Like breaking up with somebody.”

While they wait to fill the gaping hole left by Fryzuk, they will be leaning on The Brassholes, a newly formed three-piece horn outfit who play exclusively with The Secretaries. They came together last year to support the gals at a Valentine’s Day gig. “They just added so much,” van Keeken says. “They weren’t just like, ‘’Kay, here we are playing our part’ — they coordinated their wardrobes, they added dance moves.”

The brass fills in the deep grooves laid down by Brown’s bass and rounds out the ringing of van Keeken’s guitar. Once you hear these songs with the horns, you can’t imagine rock ’n’ roll without a little trumpet. And that’s what the new album is — some straight-up rock ’n’ roll. Self-titled as The Secretaries Featuring The Brassholes, the final product rumbles. It is equal parts crunchy, sexy and playful. If you underestimate these kittens, they’ll knock you off your feet, because they know why they play.

“Total freedom,” Brown says. “No boundaries. You can say whatever the yell you want. You say it how you want to say it. To me, that’s the definition of rock ’n’ roll. This is me with no tethers, not following any rules.”

“I like feedback,” chips in van Keeken as the bar gets louder, turning the interview it a series of “Sorry, could you repeat that?” moments. So it’s time to wrap it up, but through the din, The Secretaries leave me with one a parting word.

“Boobs!” says van Keeken. Hmm, could you repeat that? “That’s our little band non sequitur.”

“We used to have this hat,” Brown explains.

“It was a trucker hat that had boobs on it. Like, plush boobs. Now in our band we’re always, like, ‘Boobs!’”

“Somebody stole it, obviously,” Brown finishes. “Everybody wants one.”

If the culprit was you, please return the boobs at the release party, and buy ’em a round of tequila. Their work is finally done. They deserve a drink. - SEE Magazine Oct 8. 2009


The Secretaries released their debut album Sat Oct 10th, 2009. Available everywhere our music is sold!



The Secretaries debut album was selected #5 on CKUA's Top 100 of 2009!!

A few years back, The Secretaries performed their first gig on the planked surface of the ice rink in West Edmonton Mall. There was a charity thing going on and people were exercising on really expensive machines to raise money. So it was that Colleen Brown (bass, vocals), Amy van Keeken (guitar, vocals)and Natasha Fryzuk (drums, vocals, accordian) baked up a new fan base right then and there under the sunny arena dome. We heard some rock anthems, a gorgeous lament that reminded me of Joni Mitchell being lost in Paris, and even an accordion. There was clapping and, I think I do remember, drinking.

Since then, the band released an EP, opened for Gogol Bordello – also at the übermall – and in 2009 most notably doubled in size as a unit, simultaneously escaping the unimaginative “girl band” moniker, thanks to the three-piece, uh, “boy band,” the Brassholes … their Great Recession-dressed horn section.

Now, the self-titled album has just emerged, a rockin’ pretty, pretty rockin’ thing that might remind you a little of Heart, making out, or even just the old days, when people would lay their feelings on the line without sounding like a pampered, sulkily misunderstood, gravel-throated man-baby. Between the fun stuff you will also note a brooding Slavic tint, which is because The Secretaries come from a city where almost everyone is at least *slightly* Ukrainian. Hoy! And pass the sour cream.

What more can I say? Should I do the tedious “blues inventory” thing and name everyone they ever played on stage with, how many times they’ve been on CBC besides several? Talk about their fashion sense or how it’s hard in a man’s world? You can figure out that shizzle for yourself.

The Secretaries attack with gorgeous, harmonic songs, punchy and thought out. Their shows are excessively fun parties, swaying with dented-brass choreography. When they tour your way, come up to the stage with a couple shot in your hands. The rest will be history.

- Fish Griwkowsky

"The rocking-est band currently playing in Edmonton. Sort of Heart meets Sabbath, but much cuter."
-Tom Murray, See Magazine

"...On more than one occasion, the Secretaries have proven themselves over the last year - rocking their way deep into the music scene... Confident, soulful and delightfully nasty, these dude-ettes are more than ready to take the inevitable next step..."

-Fish Griwkowsky, The Edmonton Sun

"As anyone who’s caught one of its costume-themed, dance-contest-in-the-middle, raucous live shows can attest, despite cramming big rock ambitions into intimate little songs, the Secretaries feel less like a band than an incredibly fun social club that happens to revolve around playing ethereally catchy rock."

-David Berry, Vue Weekly