Calgary's Kue Varo finds her 'genuine self' on Cowboy Witchcraft

Calgary's Kue Varo finds her 'genuine self' on Cowboy Witchcraft

After a life-altering few years, former Heirlooms singer Kue Varo returned to Calgary to make one of many 12 months’s finest information

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Kue Varo’s return to Calgary was meant to be momentary.

The Nanton-born musician had been pursuing a musical profession in Montreal after fronting Calgary’s psychedelic rockers The Heirlooms and its spinoff duo Mister and Mystic. She recorded her solo debut, Daffodil 11, beneath the newly adopted Kue Varo moniker — reportedly named after the Q character in Star Trek: The Subsequent Era and surrealist painter Remedios Varado —  whereas residing in that metropolis. Nevertheless it was adopted by a interval of upheaval. There was the pandemic, after all, which shut down Montreal and each different metropolis. She additionally went by way of a breakup and sank right into a interval of grief after considered one of her finest pals, Calgary musician Holly Ellsworth-Clark, died in 2020. All of it represented “an enormous shift in my life,” she says.

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So Varo determined to come back dwelling and go to household.

“It was purported to be for 2 weeks and it ended up being 5,” she says. “Then I went again to Montreal and realized I wished to be again in Calgary.”

As soon as she had returned to town for good, Varo immersed herself within the music scene once more. She met ex-Dudes multi-instrumentalist Bob Quaschnick and so they started writing songs collectively earlier than including Matt Doherty on drums and Connor Harvey-Derbyshire, a.okay.a. Straightforward HD, on bass and synth to the combination and christening themselves Kue Varo and the Solely Hopes. The act then participated in two metropolis residencies, the TD Incubator at Arts Commons beneath fellows Yolanda Sargeant and Evgeniy “Comrade” Bykovets of Sargeant x Comrade and one other on the Grand Theatre.

Lastly, they enlisted Calgary-based producer Russell Broom, recognized for his work with Artwork Bergmann and Jann Arden, to be on the helm for periods at OCL Studios exterior of Calgary. Cowboy Witchcraft, which the band will launch on Oct. 13 with a present on the Commonwealth, is an assured, multi-layered followup to Daffodil 11 that showcases each Varo’s spectacular vary as a lyricist and vocalist and a flexible backing band with a expertise for seamless genre-hopping. Whereas she could also be front-and-centre, Varo emphasizes that it’s a band album. Like many musicians, two years of lockdowns had led to a pent-up want to “rock and roll,” she says with fun.

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Which is definitely one of many flavours on Cowboy Witchcraft. The opener Furthest Place begins with a PJ Harvey/Sharon Van Etten synth vibe however shortly turns right into a flamable rocker, whereas the driving Simply Don’t Care provides an additional bluesy chew to Varo’s irreverent lyrics. However there are quite a few different sounds on supply. On Candy One, the band gently bops alongside as Varo delivers considered one of her prettiest melodies that remembers Chrissie Hynde at her breeziest. The album’s debut single, Yip Yip, is an instantly endearing guitar-pop gem with a straightforward heartland-rock vibe, whereas the slow-burning gothic ballad Gates of Hell rises to one of many album’s many dramatic climaxes.

The album definitely doesn’t sound like a downer, however Varo says the lyrics usually mirror a few of what she was going by way of through the aforementioned “main shift” in her life. This can be most clearly heard within the stressed and wistful Summer season Traces, wherein Varo makes direct reference to her good friend. Ellsworth-Clark went lacking in Hamilton, Ont., in early 2020 and it might be months earlier than family and friends discovered of her demise. Not lengthy earlier than she disappeared, she had visited Varo and left behind a ebook.

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“I discovered it weeks after she was gone and there’s a little be aware that was actually candy,” Varo says. “So, after all, that ebook is a prized possession of mine.”

Varo carried the ebook throughout her travels between Calgary and Montreal. “I’ve the ebook Holly left, however left my entire life behind me,” she sings.

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“She is within the album, for positive,” Varo says. “Grief makes you understand what you need to do with your personal life and he or she was such a drive that I don’t know if I might have had the braveness to maintain going and discover the individuals I’ve discovered and be doing music on the capability that I’m doing it now If it had not been for her affect on me as an individual.”

Born in Nanton, Varo says she grew up in a musical and non secular family. Recognized with being on the autism spectrum and principally homeschooled, Varo struggled to speak with individuals her age.

“I began songwriting after I was 9,” she says. “I feel it was a necessity with that isolation of being in a small city and probably not becoming in. That was my outlet since earlier than I can bear in mind. I wished to be a singer and a songwriter since I used to be two.”

She began taking part in guitar on the age of 15 and had her first gig at a Excessive River espresso store inside a month.

“For the reason that second I might carry out, I carried out,” she says. “The supervisor of the espresso store I labored at had an underground supper membership. I instructed her I had some songs and he or she mentioned ‘Effectively, you’re booked. Determine it out. You’re taking part in subsequent month.’ I used to be so nervous my palms shook. The Heirlooms was the primary time I used to be in a full-on band, gigging in cities and making albums of authentic music and actually making an attempt and making it an enormous a part of my life.”

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In an interview with CKUA to preview her efficiency at Calgary Pleasure’s TD Block Occasion in Kensington this previous August, Varo mentioned she got here out to her household for the primary time final 12 months, which represented one other step in her current journey as an artist.

“I feel being trustworthy about who I’m and being unapologetic about it in each means — not simply as a queer individual however even being snug letting individuals know I’m on the spectrum and simply being open about it — got here with all these gigantic adjustments and a lot grief and loss and I feel there’s a level the place you’re like ‘you understand what, it doesn’t matter and I’ll be happier if I can simply be my genuine self.’ That’s for positive the rationale why I’m most happy with this physique of labor as a result of I didn’t maintain again and I don’t suppose anyone held again within the band. I really feel actually freed.”

Kue Varo and the Solely Hopes play an album-release present on the Commonwealth on Oct. 13 with Little one Actress and Astral Swans.

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