Smith & Thell’s newest song February, reviewed + Quick Chat!


Smith & Thell have been on the pop scene for a while, but mostly behind the scenes with songwriting and production credits. Now, they have their first full length album coming out in May and a new single February which released recently.

Check out our review of the single, plus a quick chat interview with Smith and Thell as they talk melancholia, experiences working with other artists, and what they have planned for 2017. Continue reading


Quick Chat: Betty Who Interview


Betty Who has been busy. After releasing her second EP in April and her first full length album in October of this year, she’s been on two tours across North America, and will soon be heading back to her original home of Australia as the opening act for Katy Perry’s Prism tour.

How’s your tour going?
It’s been pretty awesome, we’ve had a really fun run. It’s been very hectic, a bit of a whirlwind, but that’s the best part.

What’s been your favourite moment so far?
We had a great show in Portland last night, that’s definitely a highlight. I think the Minneapolis show that we had is probably one of my favourites of the whole tour. Such good vibes and a totally packed show which makes you feel really good.

Do you prefer smaller or larger venues?
It depends how full the venue is. I think it’s tough if you play a larger venue and a lot of people don’t show up. If you’re in a smaller venue it still makes you feel really good. They’re different ways of touring.

What are you looking forward to most, upcoming with the tour?
I think the last show of the tour is Los Angeles, which I’m getting very excited about. Also, we’re playing The Filmore in San Francisco in a couple days which is iconic, so those two shows will certainly be a lot of fun. I mean we’re almost done, I can hardly believe it. It feels like I’ve only just started. Then we take a flight basically the day after touring to Australia to open for Katy Perry for a bunch. Not a lot of rest!

Interview with our Band of the Month, The Paper Kites


Paper Kites albumThe Paper Kites are an awesome indie band from Melbourne, Australia. We recently got to ask Sam Rasmussen a few questions. We talked about band rituals, influences, and how they came up with the idea for their St Clarity music video.

The Review Weekly: For North American audiences that will be getting to know you with your States tour this months, tell us about yourselves. Were you all friends before the band?
Sam Rasmussen: Yeh we were. It all kind of fell together a few years ago. Sam [Bentley] and Christina [Lacy] originally played together at weddings and cafes, and after a while recruited Josh [Bentley] (Sam’s cousin) and I to fill things out a little. After getting into a little festival we pulled in Dave [Powys] too and it all kinda started from there.

TRW: Where did the name for your band come from?
SR: It doesn’t have any significant meaning. We just needed a band name and I think Sam came up with it. I suppose it kind of represents the sort of music we set out to make. Free flowing and natural.

TRW: What are some things you’re most excited about for your upcoming tour?
SR: None of us have really spent much time in North America so just traveling around and seeing the place is exciting in itself! We have had overwhelming support online over the last few years from the region so an opportunity to play for and meet our loyal supporters is really significant for us. We want to be really intentional about getting to know the people that come along to our shows.

TRW: What is your most memorable tour moment?
SR: There are a lot! It’s hard to pick out a favourite to be honest. We did play a huge sold out show in our home town of Melbourne on my birthday last year which was pretty special. And I think we will be somewhere in Canada on the same date this year!

TRW: Do you have any band rituals before a performance?
SR: There is a song. It’s pretty silly. I’m not going to expand!

TRW: If you could perform in any venue with anyone, who and where would you choose?
SR: Well let’s be honest. Club Nokia in LA with City & Colour is hard to beat! Did I mention we are really excited about that tour??

TRW: Your first full length, States, releases soon. How do you think your music has changed since you started working together?
SR: Well it’s definitely changed. I think as we have grown and matured, our music has naturally followed. When the band started, we were just a bunch of friends jamming in Sam’s parents lounge room. Fast forward 3 years to states which was recorded in an amazing studio, after months of rehearsing and years of touring. You would hope we have developed and grown a little!

TRW: What are some of your biggest influences?
SR: Ryan Adams, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac.

TRW: What songs off your new album are you most excited about?
SR: I’m a really big fan of a few songs that Christina sings. Especially a tune called Cold Kind Hand.

TRW: You recently released the music video for St Clarity, the first single off your album, how did you come up with the idea for that?
SR: Sam found the bubble artist [French artist Sylvain Letuvée] on YouTube and after working closely with Natasha Pincus (our director) they came up with the concept of the clip.

For more information on The Paper Kite’s North American tour dates, check their site here. They will perform at Lucky Bar in Victoria, Canada on October 23. You can find tickets here. Check back later this month for an album review and show photos!

Connect with us on Twitter at @TheReviewWeekly or on Facebook!

Interview with playwright, Kris Elgstrand


I recently got to see the play Ramifications of a Particular Crash at GO Studios in Vancouver (you can find the review here) and afterward I had the opportunity to interview the writer, Kris Elgstrand. He’s a lifelong resident of Vancouver with a wife and kid, and he turns 40 this year. “I’m hoping that experience is like turning 30 where I discovered that turning 29 was worse.” Check out the interview below.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Kris Elgstrand: I sometimes play piano and when I was a kid I would retain the screening times, running times and parental warnings of all the movies that played in the Vancouver area. In my younger years, I had an uncanny ability to meet artists, writers and musicians I greatly admired, usually by chance. Some of those people include Woody Allen, Wynton Marsalis and many members of his band, Harrison Ford, David Lynch, William H. Macy, Robertson Davies, etc. 

How did you get into writing?

KE: It started with acting. For most of my youth, I wanted to be a performer but I also loved sitting at typewriters. I got my first typewriter of my own in Grade 8. The kids at school thought it weird that I didn’t find it upsetting. I was very happy with my Smith Corona, even though it was no IBM Selectric. So writing was always something I did throughout school. Even though I still intended to be an actor, I wrote my first play as part of a 24 hour playwriting contest. I got an honourable mention and got good feedback when I produced the play later that year. Finally, a year after that I attended the Atlantic Theater Company’s Practical Aesthetics Workshop. I really enjoyed the technique but found myself thinking my h more about writing than acting. That David Mamet was one of our teachers probably encouraged me even more to think about writing. Then I realized that most of my heroes were writers and composers rather than actors and soloists. So then I started writing all the time and producing as much of my own work as I could which set the scene for everything that came after.

What is your writing process like? How do you normally get inspiration and how do you form an 80 minute play like Ramifications?

KE: I don’t follow one specific technique or formula for writing.  I often try different things out on different projects. The most important thing is to write all the time, which I try to do. Recently I’ve been concentrating on film scripts. I do find its important to do a lot of reading and  get out to see a movie or hear some live music once in a while. As for Ramifications, I had the great privilege of working on the script with Martin Kinch at Playwrights Theatre and the Banff PlayRites Colony.

What is your favourite part of the creative process in creating a stage show?

KE: The best part of the process for me is when I’m pleasantly surprised by the choices and discoveries made by the director and the actors. The worst part is when you’re unpleasantly surprised by the same. Lately, though, I’ve mostly been extremely happy with the people I’ve worked with. In particular, working with Martin Kinch, who directed Ramifications, is always great. Brad Dryborough, who appears in Ramifications, also directed a production of my first full-length play in Whitehorse and I was quite delighted by what he and the actors did with it. That’s always exciting. 

How did you come up with the idea for Ramifications?

KE: The idea was inspired by a series of events I’d read about but not directly based on any one of them. Then imagination takes over.

With the Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes drama of recent years, how do you feel this fits with or mirrors your play?

KE: Well, when I wrote the first draft Britney Spears was much more in the news for her breakdown. I think there is something about the media machine that can eat people alive and I was taken by that idea. Lindsay Lohan’s troubles started around the time I was writing revising the script so that definitely played into it as well. Ultimately the play is really about a lot of lost people and how they try to seize an opportunity to find their way out. 

You have also written for filmed pieces, what do you find are some of the differences between writing for stage and film?

KE: One difference is that in a play, you’re encouraged to have your characters talk a lot in one location. In film, they generally want to shoot you in the face for doing that.  Aside from that and other obvious differences, you’re always just trying to tell a story as well and entertainingly as you can. When I started writing film scripts I did have to work a lot to keep things moving and cinematic but now I feel like I can jump from one to the other. Having said that, I don’t think anyone who has read a film script of mine would be surprised to find out I started out writing plays. I always have to cut back my dialogue. A lot.

What advice would you give to those that want to get into the writing business?

KE: I kind of feel like I’m just starting out. I’ve been writing in some form or another since elementary school so it’s always something I’ve done. So my first piece of advice would be that if you want to write you should write. If you don’t want to write, you shouldn’t. There’s no value in pretending to be a writer.  Nobody really likes writers much anyway. Many of us are weird and antisocial. If you are writing, write more, read more, see more. Find your voice as a writer. Actors have to go through voice class to develop their vocal instrument, writers have to do much the same thing but often on our own. I started out by trying to write just like David Mamet. I read the writers that influenced and inspired him. Its a great way to expose yourself to work, new and old, you might not otherwise discover. Once you’ve written something, get it out there, show it to someone, produce it whether it’s a play or short film. Developing producer skills is never a bad thing. You have to get your work out there to learn and grow. Once you’ve developed the habit of writing and getting it out there, it’s just a question of not letting up.

You have also created these Social Anxiety Hour events, what are those about?

KE: The Social Anxiety Hour is a music and comedy variety show that grew out of another theatre piece I’d been working on for a long time called Songs of the Sad Sack. After years of working on a play about a fake variety show that seemed to go nowhere, I recorded some of the music I’d written for it and put out a CD called Songs of the Sad Sack, Volume 1: I’m so disappointed. Having recorded the CD, I had to try to figure out how to get people to buy or listen to it so I did a round of apartment concerts I called my Intimate and Awkward Tour. From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump back to theatre and the Social Anxiety Hour. It’s just a fun show. Feedback has been great and I’m hoping to do more with it in the not-too-distant future. It’s opened up an area of performing that I gave up so long ago. It’s probably the most fun project I’ve ever worked on. In a way, I’m more proud of it than any of my other work, which is strange because it’s a silly, ramshackle show but t really is fun.

How did you come up with the idea for those?

KE: As I mentioned, it started with the theatre piece and the music.  Then I was inspired a lot by the old variety and music shows one can find on DVD these days, like the Judy Garland Show or the Dean Martin Show. That kind of entertainment – that was in its last days when I was a kid, really just living on in the Jerry Lewis Telethon, for example – has all but disappeared. I love watching those old shows. I don’t even pretend to aspire to their quality, though. That’s the gift of Songs of the Sad Sack and the modern gifts of anxiety and depression.  We do our best in spite of our terrible failure.

What is next for you?

KE: The return of the Social Anxiety Hour this fall as well as a podcast version are next up.  I have a feature in the early stages of production (also known as the “find the money” stage) that I hope to direct later this year or early next year. Dylan Akio Smith, with whom I’ve made several shorts and feature films, and I are hoping to get going on a new film as well. I’ll write and he’ll direct. Martin and I are hoping to work on more things together soon. I haven’t been writing much theatre lately but Ramifications has inspired me to get back at that. I’m not exactly sure what will come of it yet but I’m looking forward to finding out. And, finally, I acted in a film called Naked Night Bike last summer and fall. I’m no actor but you’ll be able to see me in that sometime soon, too.

You can find more about Kris Elgstrand on his website and on Twitter @leg_stand

Interview With Debut Novelist, Danica Sheard


I recently got to interview Danica Sheard, author of Love Game her debut novella. Self described as “a dreamer, an explorer, a thinker, an analyzer, a slave to [her] inner child, and a total klutz,” Sheard has been writing since she was a teenager but only recently came to it for a career. We talk about ABC’s The Bachelorette, eReader vs physical books, and how the Love Gameseries will continue.

TRW: Tell us about yourself.

Danica Sheard: I love sushi, wine, traveling, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and a good cry every now and then.  I’m a middle child with two sisters, and my husband Tyler is the most amazing person I’ve ever met.  My weakness is baby animals, babies in general, and my guilty pleasure is watching reruns of Seinfeld.  I’m also in love with Channing Tatum.

TRW: What brought you to writing?

DS: My love life growing up was pretty dramatic, as I’m sure most people can say the same, and I used writing as an outlet for all of my feelings of either joy or heartbreak. That was my main drive for writing, just trying to express my feelings at the time for whatever boy I was crushing on, or in love with, or resenting.  It made me feel so indie, to have this little collection of verses that no one else knew about – and maybe they’d be sitting a few feet away from me, not knowing that there would be pages upon pages of my feelings for them written in a book inside my knapsack.

I began writing “scripts” for fun, in my spare time (this is a little embarrassing), of my life – how I wanted something to go, or how I wanted to interact with someone if I ever mustered up that type of courage.  They became little fantasies, and I would get so caught up in making everything realistic and accurate, putting ourselves in glamorous locations like Paris or Los Angeles, that I’d do a bunch of research to go along with it.  It was like living in a little world where everything went my way.  Of course after college, that all took a back seat when I got a job with the government, and I was sucked into this ridiculous routine of the same paperwork, the same people, the same office politics – basically, hell.  I hated it.  Luckily, I met Tyler during that time period, we fell in love, got married, and he’s been the best thing in my life over the past six years. […] I came across this website about something called the World Domination Summit.  It’s an annual convention about living your best life and changing the world.  Even though I didn’t go, it set me off on this new journey of self discovery and seizing every moment.  I knew if I started writing again, it would be my dream come true.  Being in the office every day made me feel so insignificant, and I knew I had so much more inside to give.  Writing takes me to different worlds, I feel like I’m constantly learning, and even though I write fiction, there’s truth in all of my work.  I decided I would focus on writing full time, so after careful deliberation, I finally quit my job and felt such an amazing weight off of my shoulders.

TRW: How did you get the inspiration for this story?

DS: I’m gonna let you know something that I hope doesn’t come back and bite me later, haha.  I’ve only seen two episodes of The Bachelor.  Ever.  It started with the second last episode of Sean’s season, where he went on dates with AshLee, Lindsey and Catherine.  I’m really proud to say that my first instinct after the end of that episode, was that I wanted him to end up with Catherine (I was right!)  I don’t even know why I started watching it, it just called out to me when I was scrolling through the channel guide.  Afterwards, they announced that the season finale would be in two weeks, so I wrote it down in my calendar.  I even remember being disappointed because they were airing the “Ladies Tell All” episode the next week, and all I wanted to know was who Sean ended up with.  
For some reason, I wrote down the wrong dates, because what I thought was the night of Ladies Tell All was actually the night of the finale.  I think I missed about half an hour, then freaked out when I realized it was on.  I was really shocked with my reaction, seeing as I only had about 45 minutes of my life invested into the show.  But I watched on edge, rooting for Catherine, and so happy for them when it all ended. […] I was thinking about the finale and remembered how upset Lindsey was, and I really felt for her.  Even though I was Team Catherine, I could have seen him going either way. For some reason, I thought  “wouldn’t it suck if he really did want to be with Lindsey?”  

That’s when it all clicked, it was kind of a “Eureka” moment.  Love Game isn’t modeled after any of them, but they certainly sparked the inspiration for the scenario.  I came up with the characters, and did very little research on The Bachelor to prevent myself from imitating any of the contestants subconsciously.  From the two episodes that I’ve seen, I took that and ran with it, took a break from my other book, and ended up with Love Game.  Now The Bachelorette has started, and I’m hooked, live-tweeting every Monday night!

TRW: Who are your favourites on this season of the Bachelorette?
My favorites so far are Brooks and Zak W.  I feel like Brooks is a really decent guy with a great sense of humor.  His hockey hair is also reminding me of when I had a crush on Stuart Townsend in Queen of the Damned, so that’s a big plus :)  

Zak, I think there are so many different layers to him and I can definitely relate to his type of personality.  You know, he shows up to the house with no shirt – funny – and he knows he’s got something to flaunt, so he does.  He’s got that impulsive, no-holds-barred kind of attitude, but he also wants to show that he has a serious, sensitive side, and that he’s not just the butt of some joke.  When he gave that journal to Des, it really touched me – I think that’s something more valuable than some jewelry or a bouquet of flowers.  First impressions aren’t the only impressions, and I think people should be allowed like, five impressions before anyone forms their “first impression” of them.  Look at how Ben is turning out.  We all loved him last week but now we know he’s just a huge doucher.

TRW: What are some of your favourite books you own?

DS: One of my all time favorite books is Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  I aspire to be just like Phileas Fogg.  He’s just this calm, confident, no BS kinda guy, and the way he takes on the challenge is kind of reflective of how I’m living my life right now.  I’ve obviously received some criticism about quitting my full time job to pursue my writing career, but I know I can do it, and any obstacle that gets in my way, I’ll just have to find a way around it.  They’re kinda like the guys at the Reform Club – they haven’t exactly said I can’t do it, but there are definitely little “doubt sparkles” being sprinkled around.  Except this time, I’m the only one who’s placed a bet.  

Also, Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”.  She’s a freaking genius.

TRW: What genre do you normally pick up when choosing a book?

DS: I’m so all over the place, but the genre I’ve been into as of late would have to be dystopian science fiction.  I don’t read or watch horror – *that* is my horror.  That stuff scares me, I love it.  I think it’s because I really really really want to live until I’m like 200 years old, just because I’m so curious to see what the world will be like then.  Except I would hope people weren’t modified to live a maximum age, have ridiculous procreation laws, or be subject to post-apocalyptic dictatorship rule.  Whatever it will be, I know it won’t be anything like life right now.  Think of how far we’ve come along in just 100 years.  We went from telegram boys to the iPhone, and Google Glass.  It’s terrifying to think of what’s coming next.  

TRW: Do you prefer using an electronic tablet like Kindle for reading, or a physical copy of the book?
DS: Even though I love my tablet, nothing beats holding a physical book in your hands.  They have a life and personality to them.  The weight, the texture, even the thickness and smell of the paper – I gotta go with book.  
TRW: You’re allowing readers to influence whether Madison ends with Avery or Dylan. What gave you the idea to make Love Game a series, and one that allowed audience input?

DS: I’ve always been a fan of the cliffhanger.  You know, you’re reading, and you’re about to run out of pages and you think there’s no possible way this could be tied up in the short time that’s left, and then a big twist comes out of nowhere and there’s nothing left but for you to wait.  I love that!  You get a little frustrated but deep down inside you’re thinking “Man, that was good.  I can wait to see what happens.”  Just like in relationships, there’s always that element of the chase.  If there’s no chase, it’s too easy, and it gets boring.  That’s what flirting is.  Flirting is exciting, suspenseful little cliffhangers – you’re not exactly sure what it’ll lead to, but you hope it’s something good.  I think the series is just that.     

Allowing audience input is something that was without a doubt something that I’d always take into account.  If fans want desperately for Madison to end up with one guy over the other, then that’s something I’d seriously consider.   

TRW: Do you have it set on who you like better, and who you want Madison to end with?

DS: I have an idea of who I want Madison to end up with, but as I continue writing, there are so many different ways that it could go.  I think it’s changed twice already.  I like to think these guys are metaphors to some of the relationships we encounter in real life – whether it’s romantic, or with work or with friends – we will always have to make big decisions where you’re not sure what’s best for you.  You have to weigh the pros and cons, and in some situations, the best or only thing you can do is just follow your gut instinct and hope it pointed you in the right direction.  The story is definitely still evolving, and it will until that last moment when the series ends and I hit “Publish”.   

TRW: Where do you expect Love Game to go plot-wise, and how many do you think you will make in the series?

DS: Plot-wise, I know that book will end up in many different parts of the world, and there’s still a huge chunk of time between when the characters left Huahine to when the series needs to air on television.  Keep in mind that the cameras have seen and heard way more than Madison has, so there could be a little bit of controversy there when everything gets laid out in the open.  There is also definitely a live reunion coming up, and you can imagine how heated that might get.    

I’ve always intended for Love Game to be a trilogy.  I think that’s a nice, clean little package that will hold the story without overdoing it.  If I end up doing a spinoff with one of the characters, then that would become an entity on its own.    

TRW: Where do you hope your writing will take you?

DS: I want to change lives.  Like I said, I quit my job to pursue writing, so at the very least I hope to make a decent living out of it.  But I’m not looking to be the next Suzanne Collins or E.L. James – I mean, I put celebrities in my head that play the different characters, so it would be hilarious (uh, amazing) if anything I wrote turned into a movie – but the end goal isn’t blockbuster fame and fortune.  I just want to leave behind my own legacy, my own little contribution to the world.  If I knew that even one person decided to follow their gut, to take a chance, to eradicate any chance of regret simply because they read Love Game, I’d be so overjoyed.  Having someone read your book is like them giving you their complete, undivided attention for however long it takes them to read it.  Whatever you teach them in that short amount of time is either gonna stick, or it’s gonna float away.  I want my messages to stick, and I want to make a difference.           

TRW: Will you continue to write romance stories, or do you want to branch out to other genres as well?

DS: I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, so if and when I do branch out to other genres, they would definitely have underlying themes of romance.  I say “when I do” because the next project I have after the Love Game series is a dark 180 degree turn, leaning towards mystery.  I’m definitely branching :)

Follow her on Twitter to get the latest about her books @DanicaSheard, and buy Love Game for the Kindle here!

Don’t forget to follow @reviewsbylauren for interview tidbits and daily updates and @TheReviewWeekly for more information on upcoming posts!

Interview with Canadian Musician, Derek Gust



Recently I got to sit down and chat with Derek Gust, a 21 year old Canadian singer originally from Edmonton. I got to hear an awesome new song he recorded at a friend’s studio a few days ago about marriage which he’s “particularly thinking about lately” as he recently got engaged. Derek knows it’s hard to start out in the industry “I’m just a little artist but knowing how to get it to the right people is always the interesting part” because you can have good songs but if there’s no one to receive them you won’t get anywhere.

Derek has seriously been pursuing music since he was in high school with a band. Peter Mol, now in Zerbin, was also in the Christian band that toured to 1000 to 3000 people a night. “It was a pretty big deal, that’s how we got our foot in the door.” There’s been hard work and it’s starting to pay off. “If you’ve never been to a studio you know what you want [your music] to sound like but not how to get there. When I first started recording I was like ‘oh I like this song, can we have something make it cool?’”

As we’re at lunch, what’s your favourite food?

DG: It depends on the day for sure, but grilled cheese and tomato soup is a solid option. A really nicely done salad is sweet. Ummm, I like food. I’m not too picky.

What animal are you most like?

DG: A liger. But not actually. I’m like a baby black bear. A cub, a bear cub. Because I like to play, and I have black hair, and they’re cute.

Tell me a little about the song you showed me.

Derek Gust: I wrote that song in about nine minutes about a week ago. I emailed Jason [Zerbin] like ‘hey, I have a couple free days, can I come to the island to record?’ and […] then probably about a week before we’re in the studio I realized I never wrote a bridge. So I’m in the studio, I write a bridge that ended up being a verse because it was too long but I liked it so I strummed a bit more and the song was made. Your potential in the studio for your songs… a good song could be made great or made meh, it’s kind of scary sometimes.

How did you get into music?

DG: I started playing with worship bands in church during junior high, my family is pretty musical and when I was sixteen my dad was the pastor at this church with 2000 people or so, it was a pretty big church. This one Christmas Eve service this guy named Greg Chevelle came and played and I played bass for him the whole weekend. I really enjoyed the arts part of it, and then the hanging out with a bunch of cool musicians talking about fun stuff… It’s pretty cool, it just kind of evolved. It lead to some soul music as I played in some other bands, one because it gives me contacts, two I like playing bass, three they’re solid guys. I’m not … if i don’t become famous I’m not upset by that. It would be sweet to make a living and support a family with it, but I’m very lucky even to be doing it at this stage. 

What instruments do you play?

DG: I play guitar as my main one, I’m really comfortable on piano and bass… Drums, we all kind of play those. Peter is really good on drums, me and Jason just kind of… we can hold our own, we can fake it to someone who doesn’t know that we’re good, which is all you need to do.

Do you get stage fright?

DG: *shakes his head* I’ve been on them like, a thousand times, especially playing bass… my mind is thinking about so many other things like “what are we going to do after? I wonder what’s going on outside? I think I’m going to get a salad after we play… What’s Pete doing? Pete looks like he’s being a goof, I’m gonna go over there and be a goof with Pete.” If you’re good at what you do hopefully you come to a place where you don’t have to think too much to do it or else you won’t be freely engaged with a crowd. If I play my live shows by myself often I’m watching the audience and gauging what they’re into. Like, should the next song continue to be upbeat and really engage them or bring them down, are they ready for a soft moment, or are they rowdy and I should not bring it down at all? Can they handle a story? Do they want lots of stories? Some crowds… I often play the song I wrote for my fiancé live and I tell the proposal story and, not exaggerate but tell it dramatically, sometimes stories are just as good as a song.

As a fan I enjoy hearing stories because it makes you feel more connected…

DG: Yeah! Then you’re not hiding behind the mic, or not letting you into their life. I agree, all the concerts I grew up around, my favourites were people who could captivate you by talking and telling you a story and then if they have a good song on top of that that ties in it’s like WOAH. If not, a good song is a good song, but it’s cool if you know the song then go see them and like ‘oh, that’s why you wrote that’.

What was your first concert?

DG: I honestly don’t remember, it was probably this folk arts guy from Winnipeg named Steve Bell, it was probably him at my dad’s church. He’s a little old school now, he’s like 50 or so but a super good guitar player slash storyteller. That’s why people go, to hear him talk.

Do you prefer performing solo or playing in a band?

DG: It has different perks to both of them. Cool thing about solo is that I can do what I would like to do, so whether that’s telling the stories I want, choosing the songs I want to play, or even just talking about whatever I want to talk about… I like to have more of a purpose behind my shows because I’m a Christian, whether it’s about love and encouraging people or about Christ. Obviously there’s a time and a place for that and a bar isn’t the place to do that, but you can still be who you are more. At the same time a band is fun because you’re with friends and you’re making music collectively and it’s more of a group community thing which is cool. Obviously it has it’s hard things too because you have to split money, and money always gets to be a complication in bands and who’s spending time on what. I found that most bands work best if the frontman is leading things. At least for me, maybe some work better where it’s equal, but it’s worked better for me in my experiences that the front man is the leader and everyone else is more supporting. Where he writes the songs and knows what he wants to do, because often when bands don’t have a strong front man they’re directionless because I might be the bass player and I might know what I want to do but it’s awkward coming from the bass player if he’s running the show.

What are your favourite songs to perform?

DG: Open Your Eyes is fun because it has a sweet participatory clap section. I Do is fun… There’s this one called Humble Horse which is fun. There’s this song called Butterfly, the organ version of it, where I play everything all at once. My right hand is doing something on top of the organ, my left hand on the bottom part of the organ and there’s a beat machine on the organ and my feet are playing the bass and I’m singing on top of it which is cool stuff. Have you seen Intimate? In that one I do a bunch of looping which is fun.

You said you don’t need to get famous with this, but where do you want this to go?

DG: It would be sweet to make a living and support a family off of this and I’m getting close to that point already, and I think the more I do it and the more I enjoy it the more I’d like it to become like that. It takes a while for sure. The band fun. has been playing for ten years and it’s only within the past few years where they’ve really got famous.

If you didn’t make this your career what would you do instead?

DG: I’d become a worship pastor director. My fiancé is playing her last year of serious volleyball, so she plays UBC and stuff and is really good, but she’s a respiratory therapist at a hospital and she has a sweet job at that. So between the two of us… it’s okay. But it’s always fun driving around and hearing my songs on the radio so I’m not against getting famous, I just want to make sure that in my heart I’m a humble dude and not some kind of ‘look at me’ famous dude. I’ve seen some people be affected by it and I’ve felt kind of bad for them and bad for their friends.

Make sure to follow @DerekGust on twitter, as well as myself (@reviewsbylauren) where you can find extras from our interview. For information on upcoming stories follow @TheReviewWeekly.