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Bahamas’ Afie Jurvanen steps into the spotlight

Andrea Ross
Oct 25, 2012


With Jason Collett
Saturday, October 27 at 7 p.m.
Royal Alberta Museum (12845 102 St.)
Sold out

Emerging from the background as a keyboardist and guitarist for famed singer Feist, Afie Jurvanen is quickly becoming Canada’s latest musical success story. Now taking centre stage as the lead singer of Bahamas, Jurvanen’s smooth, soulful and wonderfully minimalist folk sound has resulted in an almost sold out North American tour, earning him recognition as a promising solo artist. Alongside his talented bandmates, Jurvanen seeks to bring a new musical experience to Edmontonians through his intimate lyrics and a historic venue.

Currently on tour to promote his sophomore album Barchords, Jurvanen has achieved an international fan base thanks to the casual simplicity of his warm tone and insightful lyrics. While it’s likely he could have eventually gained recognition thanks to his industry connections, he acknowledges his Canadian roots and past collaborations in paving the way to solo success.  He even incorporates the smooth and subtle vocal backup of former bandmate Feist on tracks like “Snow Plow,” a soft loping ballad of reminiscent love. Jurvanen’s voice is infectious and mellow, perfectly suited for the amorous and often heartbroken themes within Barchords.

“(My lyrics are) are definitely my instincts and feelings,” Jurvanen says. “I just try to find someway to be as honest as possible and as comfortable as I can. That can be difficult sometimes. But I’m really happy with that message in the end.”

Jurvanen’s intimate nature is evident in his lyrics as well as his choice of performance venue. Having performed on huge stages with Feist and playing local festivals and bars as Bahamas, Jurvanen’s Edmonton stop finds him at the Royal Alberta Museum, providing an alternative that finds middle ground. The incorporation of live music among historic exhibits will certainly be a different listening experience for many fans, and it’s one that Jurvanen is particular is fond of.

“We spend a fair amount of time playing in bars, and I think for this tour we tried to book venues that are a little outside of the ordinary,” he explains. “I think it’s definitely more interesting for us to play in churches and halls and stuff like that. It’s a nice break from playing in places that have big screen TVs and big lights. And I think it’s definitely a different listening experience for people who come to the show, too.”

Despite having performed on a world stage alongside Feist, Jurvanen came from humble roots in Barrie, Ontario, and found his musical connections in Toronto. He credits the “small and tight” musical community of Toronto for setting the stage for his newfound solo success, and refers to his collaborators as his “extended musical family,” some of whom ultimately ended up joining him on the road when he finally ventured off on his own.

“It’s not like I placed a wanted ad or anything. I just called my friends and said, ‘Hey I’m gonna go on tour, you wanna play with me?’ And now for some of them, it’s been several years.”

Jurvanen’s appreciation extends to the fans and venues that have embraced and supported his development as a solo artist. Despite having won a Juno award and a Polaris prize nomination since the release of Bahamas’ debut album Pink Strat, Jurvanen remains humble and grateful for every opportunity to share his music on any stage, big or small.

“There are so many shows, so many bands on tour, especially in the fall, so I have nothing but gratitude for the people that have decided to make our show a priority,” Jurvanen says. “It’s inspiring and it’s humbling.”


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