February Update and a Live EP!

Hey everyone!

Apologies for the blogging silence! We’re already a month and a half into 2015, which is hard to believe, and it’s been a great year so far! Back in December we launched our new website and a new project that we’ve called the Exclusive Content Project. Basically, every month we send out some sort of content (new songs, videos, live footage, etc) to people who subscribe for $6 a month. There are a bunch of reasons we started it, and you can read the whole story behind it HERE, but in the first few months we’ve been doing it we’ve had so much fun creating content each month and thinking of fun ways to connect with our subscribers.

In January we did a two-week tour out to Vancouver and back, playing six shows in total. We filmed and recorded every show, and some footage of life on tour, and for this month we put together a six song live EP called the Across the Rockies Tour EP, as well as a video of all the songs and some footage from the tour.

If you’d like to sign up for the Exclusive Content Project, head to http://www.laurenmannmusic.com/exclusives. We’ve got lots of fun things planned for this year, especially since we’ll be working on tons of new songs in the coming months!

Until next time,
Lauren.

The Most Memorable Moments of 2014!

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Wow, what a year it has been! From start to finish, 2014 was a wild ride for us, and let me first express how thankful we are to have an amazing community of friends and fans who have been with us through it all! Thank you for all your support on and off the road! We love being able to create music for you to listen to, and we’re so excited to do that, and more in 2015.

I thought I’d finish off the year with a look back at some of the most memorable moments of 2014, and there sure was a lot of them! Let’s take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?

2014 started with a few months off in Brooks, AB, splitting our time between painting houses, teaching piano, and writing new songs and rehearsing in our storage unit practice space! It was a hard winter for Zoltan and I, but the hard times make for the best songs, right?

In early spring we entered the CBC Searchlight contest, which was a crazy journey in and of itself! People came out of the woodwork to show their support with shares and votes, and we even got endorsed by the Mayor of Brooks, Mr. Martin Shields!

After two months of intense voting and many nerve-wracking rounds, we won the CBC Searchlight contest and found out via phone call on CBC Q!

One of the prizes for winning was getting to play at CBC Music Fest at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, BC on June 20. It was an amazing day of seeing some of our favourite Canadian bands and meeting lots of CBC personalities.

On our spring tour we stopped in Prince George, BC and I got to visit a ukelele class at a local school and play some songs for them. And then they surprised me by playing and singing I Lost Myself! It was one of the sweetest experiences that I will never forget.

In July we got the amazing opportunity to fly to Ottawa to be part of the Canada Day celebrations! I played in the CBC Songwriter’s Circle that was broadcast live from Major’s Hill Park, and then we played a full set at Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau and finished off the night by watching the fireworks over Parliament Hill. It was pretty cool to get to celebrate Canada Day in the nation’s capital.

We kicked off our summer tour by doing a session with Grant Lawrence on his CBC Beetle Roadtrip at Dinosaur Provincial Park! We played a song live in the badlands, and then went on a hunt for dinosaur bones!

Our summer consisted of playing a few really cool festivals and outdoor music in the park shows. Some of the highlights included playing at the CBC Stampede Breakfast…

Playing an outdoor show for over 2000 people in Thunder Bay…

And a HUGE storm at Harvest Sun Festival in Kelwood, MB that meant we actually couldn’t play! We still had a great time, and before we left I was able to play a song in the tent while we all tried to stay warm and dry.

One of the biggest events of the year for us was being part of the Peak Performance Project, hosted by Alberta Music and The Peak 95.3. It was an intense, 5 month talent development project, and one of the first assignments was to make an intro video. We had a lot of fun with this, filming it with our friend Cole Bennett while on tour in Ontario.

In September we spent a week at Rockridge Canyon in Princeton, BC for the Peak Performance Boot Camp with the eleven other bands from Alberta, and twelve bands from BC. We paired up with Jon Bryant and wrote and recorded this super fun pop song, Every Good Thing.

Following boot camp, we made our way to Pender Island, BC and filmed Where the Ocean Meets the Sky: A Visual EP. It was a lot more work than we thought it would be when we initially planned the project, but it was all worth it. We recorded and filmed six songs in six different location on the island in 5 days, and put all the songs plus a 30 min behind-the-scenes featurette together on a DVD. Looking back, I can’t believe we pulled it off, but we had an amazing team of people involved who helped make it happen. Mad props to Dustin Heigh, Owen Marmorek, and Ross Bodenman who were instrumental in making it all happen.

In the fall we did a campaign with charity: water, hoping to raise $10,000 to build a well in Ethiopia. With your help, we made our goal in just two weeks! It was an honour to see so many friends and fans who support our music help us do something for a community across the world.

On November 4 we found out that we made it to the top 3 of the Peak Performance Project, and on November 27 we played the final showcase and found out that we came in 2nd place, winning $75,000 to go towards recording our next record. It was such an honour to get to that point, and share the stage with 36? and The Wet Secrets and it means that we’ll finally be able to head into the studio in 2015 to record a new album!

To finish off the year, Zoltan and I made the move from Brooks to Calgary, finding a place to live and diving into city life, complete with me getting day jobs at DAVIDsTEA and Goodwill Thrift store, and Zoltan doing sound and painting. We started an Exclusive Content Project through our brand new website where we’ll be giving subscribers exclusive access to new songs, demos, collaborations, videos, etc every month. We’re excited for the opportunity to connect with fans even more, and constantly be coming up with different creative projects to share!

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Wow. As I’m typing all this and looking back through photos and videos from the year, I can’t believe that all of this (and more) happened in one year. When we started 2014 we thought we would just be at home a lot, laying low, and not doing too much touring. But that changed very quickly, and the number of opportunities we had and things we accomplished is still blowing my mind.

Thank you so much to everyone who stood by us through all the ups and downs, who voted for us, celebrated with us, cheered us on, listened to our music, shared our posts, sent us emails, came to our shows, danced with us, and have honestly been the best group of people we could have by our side. You all mean the world to us, and we can’t wait to make more music to share with you!

I hope that 2015 brings so much hope and love and happiness to you and yours, and that you will find yourself on many new and exciting adventures!

See ya next year!

Lauren.

Star of Wonder EP and a new website!

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This fall was a crazy one for us with lots of changes, and everything that went along with the Peak Performance Project. Zoltan and I had joked that when it was all over we were going to be left with nothing to do, so he brought up the idea of recording some Christmas songs. I didn’t really want to think about any new projects, but when it was all said and done and we had some time to just hang out, I realized that all I wanted to do was get back into the mode of recording and creating music.

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These three songs were the perfect outlet, and I’m so happy with how they turned out. It was also the first time we used our newly acquired RME Fireface 800 interface, AKG 214 mic and Yamaha HS8 studio monitors. Ours is a humble setup but even though it’s simple, it’s nice having some good quality gear to work with.  Zoltan has been learning lots about mic set-up and using Logic, which gave me the opportunity to focus on the songs and arrangements. I’m hoping to get more well-versed in running the software, but for now it’s nice that Zoltan knows what he’s doing so I don’t have to worry about troubleshooting and turning knobs. At this point, anyway.

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We started the EP in the basement of our friend’s house in Brooks, AB where we recorded the piano, ukelele, and vocal scratch tracks. We wanted to make sure we got the songs done quickly so we brought our gear along with us on our tour to Manitoba. We set up a little portable studio in our friend Greg’s basement in Winnipeg and Josh recorded some guitar parts, and then in another friend’s basement in Saskatoon we finished off the guitar, did some vocal tracking, and recorded a bunch of additional keyboards.

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We released the songs yesterday along with the unveiling of our brand new website. In addition to the website, we announced a new project that we started where we’ll be releasing exclusive content every month to anyone who subscribes. It might be some demos, a video, collaboration, or in this case, the Star of Wonder EP! You can read more about this new project on our website.

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I hope you’re all enjoying the Christmas season and not getting too busy! We’re really loving life in Calgary, and all the opportunities that come along with it.

Until next time,
Lauren.

Getting Dressed Up!

Last week we played our final full-band show of the year to finish off the Peak Performance Project that we’ve been involved with since the spring! It’s been an intense five months, and it culminated in this show to see who would win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, with the top prize being $100,953.00. We came in second, winning $75,000, and we are so honoured and excited to finally be able to record our next full length album.

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I’ll be writing more about that soon, but for now I wanted to share about a collaboration I did for the evening! There are some really great Canadian companies that I’ve had my eye on for a while, wanting to do some sort of collaboration but not knowing how to go about it. It was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I decided just to send some messages and see what happened, and it all came together beautifully.

First, the dress. My amazing mom took me out and bought me this lovely wine coloured crushed velvet maxi dress from Free People. It’s the kind of dress that is fancy enough for a very special occasion, but versatile enough to wear it again and again. With the dress as a foundation, I collaborated with MLKANHNY and Pure Anada Natural Cosmetics to finish off the outfit!

Madison Bodenman (the talented wife of Ross, who did the artwork for the Visual EP), runs MLKANHNY, an etsy shop of handmade jewelry that she makes out of her home on Vancouver Island. I’ve been admiring her designs for a long time, and I love the clean shapes, and timeless details that she adds to all of her pieces. She made me a lovely necklace to complement my outfit for the evening, and it was the absolute perfect fit!

Madison is always adding new pieces to her store, so I would definitely encourage you to check it out and find something for yourself or someone you love!

Next was makeup. I haven’t worn makeup for a very long time, and part of it was wanting to find a natural makeup company with ingredients I could trust, and that wouldn’t break the bank. Pure Anada is a company based out of Morden, MB that uses all natural ingredients to make top quality cosmetic products. A friend of mine, Kristen von Riesen, who we met while on tour, works at Pure Anada, and inspired me to seek out their products. She also sent me a lovely package of goodies for a bit more of a dramatic look for the show.

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You can order Pure Anada cosmetics here, and Kristen also has a number of really helpful tutorials that you can check out for different looks. I used the Luminous Eye Shadow in Ornate, Java, and Stardust, and Velvet Matte Eye Shadow in Black Velvet, as well as the Pureline Eye Pencil in black, and Natural Mascara in black for eyes. For my cheeks I used the Pressed Mineral Cheek Colour in Sweet Pea, and for my lips I used the Natural Lipstick in Bordeaux Cherry. Since it had been a while, Kristen’s tutorial for Day to Evening Makeup helped me get the “smoky eyes” technique. All of the products were so great to work with. I highly recommend each one, especially the mascara, and the lipstick (which actually smells great).

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I’m so glad that I was able to collaborate with these two great local businesses for the show. Not only was it SO much fun to get all dressed up, but I love getting to share about products and people I love! What are some of your favourite local companies that you like to support? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time,
Lauren.

Let’s Hit the Road!

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Today we head out on our last tour of the year! This time we’re heading east to Winnipeg and back, playing a bunch of shows in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I’ve been checking the weather, and it looks like it shouldn’t be that cold, but you never know with these prairie provinces, so I’m making sure to bring my winter gear just in case!

November 4th – Caronport, SK @ Briercrest
November 5th – Regina, SK @ The Artful Dodger
November 6th – Brandon, MB @ Lady of the Lake
November 7th – Winnipeg, MB @ West End Cultural Centre
November 8th – Gimli, MB @ Ship & Plough
November 11th – Winkler, MB @ House Show
November 12th – Sprauge, MB @ Sprauge River Inn
November 13th – Otterburne, MB @ Providence
November 16th – Saskatoon, SK @ Rock Bottom

Today is also significant because we find out if we’re in the Top 3 for the Peak Performance Project! It’s been an incredible five months journeying with eleven other bands from Alberta and honing our crafts, and this afternoon we find out the result of all our hard work. You can also hear the results by tuning in to the Peak’s online stream at 4pmMST. We’re going to be shaking in our boots, so it’ll make us feel way better if we know you’re all listening with us!

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And lastly, our guitarist Josh has started a tumblr to document life as a Fairly Odd Folk. He has a great perspective of life on the road, and captures some of the funniest moments, so you should definitely check it out and follow him to see what adventures we get up to in the next two weeks.

To our prairie friends, hope to see you on the road, and to everyone else, stay warm and well!

Until next time,
Lauren.