Violent Kin

One of Saskatoon’s best kept secrets include a brother and sister team bringing an amazing array of talent. When I first asked people about Violent Kin, they got excited and couldn’t wait to tell me about them. “Great stage show.” “, The cd is on constant play in my car.”, “They’re amazing.” “Such a good show.”

And then came the question that no one could answer, “Who are they like?” No one could answer me on this. Which is quite strange for most local bands, as they take on a distinctive style that most mainstream bands play, which makes them the most identifiable. (Sheepdogs = Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young + The Band + Folk pop of the late 70’s.) That basic template makes it easier for people to go and see. It makes it easily marketable.

Unless they are really good.

There is no equal to this duet team. Maygen and SJ Kardash have put in their hours to the craft, and it shows. Influences on People, (and from what I can relate to) include British pop UB40, Roxette, any John Hughes movie from the 80’s with teen empowerment as a main theme, and so many others. The music itself takes that slice of late 80’s and early 90’s where the majority of People (now currently late 30 somethings) were clinging onto Pop, before the harder edge of grunge rock became the norm. They are that lost summer where you wanted one more year of teased hair, neon shirts, and being radical. It takes quite a bit of talent to take this, and not make it cheezey or false with parody.

The message and lyrics are subtle, working your way into deeper meanings that make you want to relisten again and again. And surprisingly the meaning of the songs really reflect these current times of information consumption and channeling the human spirit through these artificial tools. “We’re losing our instincts and in a state of unconsciousness we’re more machine than man.”
(Ironic? I write this on a hunk of plastic, electronic circuit, WiFi signal, and liquid crystals being anonymous in a cafe, while checking my social feeds as to what everyone is doing. Tell me this isn’t the future.) I keep replaying the cd, as like a good book it listens a little different each time.

The stage show at the 220 grand opening was amazing. I had forgotten about huge light shows. Just huge bright light that seemed to creep into every corner of the room. Maygen Kardash on keyboard, clad in Sgt Pepper uniform jacket, leaving stark Patrick Nagel outlines on my retinas. Her voice, clean and sweet, jumping up and declaring to be paid attention. SJ Kardash becomes that guy. Axe hung low, working the crowd with a taught guitar string and smooth trained voice, reaching for those lower depths, still able to harmonize in the upper range. If you were a teen in the 80’s and wanted to play guitar and become a rock god? Yeah, SJ becomes THAT guy on stage. (And you can tell they are siblings, the banter between them definitely shows. But once it’s done, the show is on.) Talented range between the two of them range from the avant garde stage show to an unrelenting driving beat that will take you back to when mesh, leather ties, and Alf ruled. And still not making it cheezy. And still making it relevant to what’s happening today.

So what are they like? They are a crazy talented band that you will tell your friends about. They bring an evening of amazing sounds and sights. This is Pop, perfected. And I’m not one for listening to much Pop. Go see the shows now. Bring extra cash to buy the albums from them. Check their tour dates.

Yeah, they are that good.

Don’t believe me? Please, see the show and prove me wrong.

All things Violent Kin can be found at their website at

I’m still here,

Saskatoon Artist : Natalie Struck

The first thing that you should know about Natalie Struck is that she maybe short in height, but she is taking giant strides towards becoming bigger talent. The second thing, you should know is that she has no fear. She puts her heart and soul into belting out her music. Her EP release Try Being Yourself brings 7 tracks which cross a year of her life and the emotional turbulence therein.

For a first EP, it shows her determination that she is going to be good at this. No matter what. The music is very pop, reminescent sometimes of a very young Lisa Loeb, playing around the beat and some soulful moments on some tracks. We’ve all been through the moments that she sings. Of desperation against monotony and wanting a change. The empowerment anthems we repeat to ourselves to make sure that no one can stop us. The little anticipation of waiting to see that special someone. Unfortunately the poetry of the lyrics sometimes gets lost in the candy floss of the pop. But given time this artist will grow and take on the industry.

No matter if you like it or not, she’s putting this music out there. Much like Seth Godin’s analogy of the Street Performer, she literally is out there performing her music. Putting her art out for all to listen to, and getting immediate feedback. Not many artists besides musicians can say they can do that.

If you haven’t caught her live yet, Natalie Struck is performing at the Saskatoon Farmers Market on Sundays, 11-Noon busking her clear sweet voice. Dec.11 and 18th. You can also hear her occasionally on open mic night at the Fez. The EP release party is Dec.23 at Mystic Java in Saskatoon.

For all things Natalie fit for the net, please go to

Buy her EP, tell friends, go to her website, support local artists.

I’m still here,

The Two Twenty + YXE Music

Some have the global recession, market slump and large unemployment rates to blame for all of the troubles of the day. Others would say that larger politics and corporations are to blame. I say it’s from a lack of realistic vision.

Saskatoon has always had a liberal arts scene. Sporting an accepting and open minded attitude to the new digital economy and media.

So it is no surprise that the emergence of the Two Twenty has come. So what exactly is it?

The Two Twenty is a community of social entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and creative industries defining Saskatoon’s urban and cultural scene.

Given the time and energy, the major brains of today are finding the need to drive their own entrepreneurial spirit and their peers. The current market for shared workspace, skill sets, and networking opportunities is huge. And those with the passion to succeed, will take steps to take advantage of shared workspaces.

The space itself located on 20th street in Saskatoon, is highly functional and fluid. Open office designs, featured small businesses, artisans, robot makers, technical advisors, yoga space… It is an immense concept that cannot help to succeed. Check out their plans if you are a travelling business and need access to all the necessary office necessities. If you are a student and need that palce to get away to, just to finish off that paper or late night study, there’s a plan for you on it.

The Two Twenty is conveniently located at 220 20th Street West, Saskatoon. Along with a larger emerging arts community front for 20th street. Will have to stop by the aka Gallery and check their community of innovative networked artists. Saskatoon Techworks looks to be the emerging central hub for all you Tinkers, Inventors, Makers and Innovators. HardPressed brings custom apparel (Also featuring local Rogstad) and printing from just about everything.

At one point in time, I thought I was in BarcampYXE the sequel, but soon came to realize that the technical people and artistic go hand in hand. Ryan and Chris of Ominocity and BarcampYXE infamy were in fine form, checking the artists out, be sure to check their videos and info on their site. Hoover of the New Rockstar Philosophy was also in attendance. Chris de Jong also there to sample and bring big cheers.

After getting bodyslammed from Katrina German (also of BarcampYXE infamy) managed to snag some Paddockwood beer, and hung out with the ever elusive and exclusive Natalie Struck, discussed various subjects on music and influences, learning about new music and still one of the best ways for marketing is word of mouth. Tell your friends about her stuff. Also she is slated to do a show at Mystic Java closer to December. Stop by their for your last minute Christmas shopping caffeine fix and some great tunes. Keep an ear out for her, and rumor has it, she is This Close to getting her album out the door.

Great minds think alike. Great minds like to party alike.

And the Two Twenty was definitely opened up. Grand. Performances were scattered between three central areas, kept the crowd flowing. Saskatoon Slam  poetry and smaller duets in the front where the main office space is. Larger band performances in the back, and DJ beats and dance numbers in the downstairs events room.

Vaereo +Sarah Farthing both had qualities of a young Natalie Merchant, also if you were to throw some Lisa Loeb DNA in there. These two young ladies bring soulful and meaningful performances, guitars and violin. Some country influences also ring of east coast folk. A great duet team, follow them, tell your friends, buy their cd’s. Definitely a great collaboration that you won’t want to miss out on.

I was amazed and dumbstruck at the amazing dropped rhymes from EEKWOL. Suddenly I needed to wear neon. Slick transitions, amazing speed rants, sick rhymes, it wasn’t hip hop or rap. It was hip. It was hot. It was beat poetry 80’s style to the old school rhythm. You can find her on FB – Lindsay Eekwol Knight

Make Liars brought guitar rock, poetic lyrics, and a determined spirit to the stage. The guitar pickings were channeled through the roots of early surf rock into brilliant anthems. Close your eyes, don’t think and you are in a time where convertibles, poodle skirts, california coastlines ruled pop culture. Spatterings of influence can be heard from Rockabilly and some Heavier Alternative Rock. I’d like to know if the music comes first, or the lyrics. Or is it some kind of weird simultaneous occurance where one cannot exist without the other. Keep an ear out for them as well. Right now you can find them on Facebook.

Rounding out the night Violent Kin brought us the lost (and better) chapter of late 80’s and early 90’s rock. Great show visually, flash neon, high bulbs, and any stage show that has more than 2 mannequin heads is bound to be awesome. S.J. and Maygen Kardash fronted a great show, and easily blended synth with driving guitar riffs- Took me back to my high school days and felt like I found a new band on cassette. (Quiet you, I am that old…) Also got their full length CD entitled People. The live show was definitely more rock and heavier, but the CD does emerge a better portion of well used synth.

It was a brilliant night. The Two Twenty has definitely opened for amazing talent and already established brilliant companies in the heart of Saskatoon.  I’ve done my part, now do yours. Get over there and check them out.

I’m still writing,


(Also working on 3.5 hours sleep, if I missed something, I apologize, need something corrected, let me know, drop me a line. @pearcekilgour on twitter)