A vacant warehouse. Music blasting. A woman with a needle in her chest meets a man in a tacky red suit. Pulp Fiction meets feigned pomp. Sadye Cage meets Ty Vega.
The unorthodox union, born of fake blood and abandoned asylum lighting, and fleshed out with the addition of drummer Jed Desilets, bassist Mario Lagassé, and Caro LaFlamme on keys, would eventually become Winnipeg-rooted indie-rock outfit Sc Mira.
Originating first with Cage and a handful of her songs, Sc Mira began its growth as a band when Vega was tapped to lend his producer’s touch to the material, but instead found himself magnetically drawn to it and, more importantly, its potential. “It was that voice,” he says, citing Cage’s unmistakable delivery – quivering, delicate, simultaneously sweet and sinister. Their bond as artistic outcasts has since become unbreakable.
Sc Mira’s musical tapestry is a seamless weaving of folk, alt-country, rock, and indie pop. Their upcoming debut, Waiting Room Baby, showcases simple but savory instrumentation framing and keeping focus on Cage’s voice and poetry. The overall product on record, which features the legendary Buck 65 (a poet in his own right) on the track “Motel Honey,” is sweet but haunting, bold but brittle. Live, though, those same songs are injected with energy and rise, fervor and ferocity.
With the recordings that would eventually comprise Waiting Room Baby in hand, Vega and Cage travelled to Montreal in 2014 to work with acclaimed producer and engineer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat). Originally recorded in an old bank vault in downtown Winnipeg, the six tracks would benefit from Bilerman’s co-production at his hotel2tango studio. “He drew out everything we wanted to emphasize and really brought out the best in those songs,” offers Cage.
The lyrics are richly emotive and pair perfectly with Cage’s voice. “I like to tell stories, I guess,” she says shyly. The incredibly hooky lead single “On My Own,” an atmospheric and upbeat modern folk offering, harkens back to the singer’s several-year-long struggle with her health. While it’s often considered a means of healing, at times, music can be pain. “Sometimes, writing songs and drawing from some of those experiences made things a lot worse,” says Cage, reflecting on countless hours spent in hospital beds and shut in from the world round her – an experience with which Vega can relate. “Motel Honey,” on the other hand, is more narrative in its approach and explores the politics and morality of sex and prostitution.
Despite the fact that their debut album has yet to see the light of day, Sc Mira has been able to draw accolades and attention through their energetic and electric live performances. “Our sound gets a bit heavier on the stage,” Vega shares. “We make sure people get a show – not just live music.”
That sentiment has yielded impressive showings at NXNE and the Mile of Music Festival, where Sadye and Ty were joined by Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins), who quickly became a fan. They’ve performed to thousands at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre and toured extensively supporting Buck 65 (where they even joined him as his backing band for the tongue-in-cheek single, “Super Pretty Naughty) in recent months.
With a live show that boasts the urgency and intensity of a thunderstorm and a fresh take on fiery folk rock – dark, dazzling, eerie, elegant – Sc Mira is a shot of adrenaline, straight to the heart. Fitting, isn’t it?