Volume 93, Issue 70

Thursday, February 3, 1999


Winnipeg trio plans to live up to name

Sunny skies ahead for Travis

Coupland's Miss Wyoming wins the competition

Winnipeg trio plans to live up to name

By Luke Rundle
Gazette Staff

When one imagines the stereotypical feminist band, images of long, stringy hair, whiny voices and overly flowery lyrics come to mind.

Winnipeg's Wyrd Sisters, however, take all these stereotypes and smash them to pieces, combining resonant lyrics with full harmonies and orchestral accompaniment to produce a sound that is unique, intelligent and well, a little Wyrd.

With Juno nominations for their 1995 sophomore effort, Inside The Dreaming, as well as the 1997 followup Raw Voice, their critical acclaim comes as no surprise to their fans, despite the subject matter they base their material upon.

"We do some serious political issue songs and some sad songs about AIDS and the Montréal Massacre," vocalist Kim Baryluk states. "But we also have some humour and raunch in the show. We believe our sexuality is part of us as human beings and is something to be celebrated, whatever form we choose to take it in. People that come to our shows will laugh, they'll cry and they won't believe what they're hearing."

To understand the concept behind the trio's body of work, one must first account for the fact that vocalists Baryluk, Nancy Reinhold and Lianne Fournier consider the primary component of their art to be the lyrics instead of the actual music.

"We don't consider ourselves musicians as much as political activists," Baryluk says. "We're lyrically-based first, we consider the words most important. The harmonies and voices are second and then the rest of the instrumentation is woven around to complement the voices."

This seemingly odd ordering of aural priorities is done for a specific reason – to get their somewhat militant messages across to their audience. From these tactics, The Wyrd Sisters have garnered them the predictable "feminist" tag from critics, a label the group welcomes with open arms.

"We think anybody who has any interest in humanity whatsoever would be a feminist. We're very proud to call ourselves feminists, because we see ourselves as political activists in a culture and a society that has to change," Baryluk says.

"We're not like other female performers who are afraid to call themselves feminists because they don't want to alienate a portion of their market. We want to be a reflection of the voices that aren't being heard in mainstream media, to carry the message that the culture is misogynist, violent and greed-oriented.

"We want to say that there's a large portion of the population who care about things like spirituality, kindness to others and improving the world's lot as far as humanity is concerned. If that's a way of keeping us in line with this 'bad' label, well, too bad for those who believe that."

It's clear the Wyrd Sisters require no quarter from anyone in the industry, preferring to present their work in its most unfiltered form. Currently producing their music independently, the band feels proud to have achieved such success alone, in such a harsh industry landscape.

"When we've been offered record deals, we've turned them down. If anything, [being independent] helped us not to feel the pressure that we have to go mainstream, write certain lyrics, sing certain harmonies. It's not like we're making a million dollars – that's never been the motivation. We're doing this because we have an audience that we're responsible to and we're going to stay true to ourselves, as well as to our audience."

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