The sweet sounds of the Sweet Alibi

by Cindy Doyle

Winnipeg’s all-female folk band-trio, Sweet Alibi, will be wrapping up their first Canadian tour at Park Theatre on May 30.  Stylus caught up with member Amber Nielsen via her brand new cell phone as she ran errands biking through our Exchange District.

Amber Nielsen: This is my first cell phone; I’m doing the interview because I just got it. I don’t know how I got through touring without one. I’m just biking around right now so I’m sorry if it gets loud.

Stylus: Well thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Have you ever been interviewed by Stylus before?

AN: No, this is my first, but I’ve read it a million times.

Stylus:  Great! So for readers who don’t know, can you tell me a bit about who Sweet Alibi is?

AN: Amber Nielsen, Jessica Rae Ayre and Michelle Anderson.

Stylus:  And what kind of roles does each of you play in the band?

AN: All equal roles. We all write and plan out touring, but then we also contribute individually, for example I do most of the financials, Michelle does the posters, and Jessica does our booking.

Stylus: So it sounds like you all play an important role within the dynamics of the band. How long have you been together and how did Sweet Alibi come about?

AN: We’ve been together as a band for three years. Michelle and Jessica went to school together and met each other in early grades. I met Jessica through mutual friends and from jamming at parties. One night we were just sitting around playing guitar and I showed Jessica one of my songs. She started singing it and we decided we wanted to start a band. At that point she’d already been talking to Michelle about doing music together so we went from there.  It wasn’t planned. We weren’t even sure what we were doing. After that the three of us met up for the first time and started playing. We ended up writing a song that first night.

Stylus: Your sound is very vocally harmonic, how would you describe your music?  What inspires you?

AN: I’d say we’re a folk band, but some of our songs are poppy and a lot of the stuff I write I’m told sound country while there’s a jazz influence from Michelle. Most of our harmonies come about naturally.  As for inspiration, I’m still listening to a lot of old music. I’m out of the loop on most new music. I actually just found out who Justin Bieber is. It was a pretty big deal actually. But what I do like to listen to is Joel Plaskett or Mason Jennings. I think the band is inspired by the same kind of music too.

Stylus: What does it mean for you to be a musician in Winnipeg? How do you feel about our scene here?

AN: It’s great! I probably even like it better now after touring Canada. This is one of the best places to be a musician.  There are so many musicians here and you’d think it’d be a competitive environment but it isn’t. And other places across Canada are so supportive of Winnipeg because so many artists have been there before and it was such a positive experience for them.  So when we call to book a show they’re always like, You’re from Winnipeg? Yeah we love Winnipeg! Come on down! Also there are so many great venues here. There’s The Park, and I love Times Change(d) and there are so many festivals here and young people starting new festivals. It’s the best place to be. I love it.

Stylus: Speaking of The Park, what can people expect if they head down to see you May 30?

AN: They should expect to hear a lot of stories. For about half of our songs there are intense heartfelt stories that go along with them. That’s why we write music. For me especially it’s a big deal. And our shows are a lot of fun. We like to make people dance. They definitely should come! It’s just fun and it’s interesting and there are a lot of different dynamics happening. Plus we just got off a 30-day tour so we’re tight and we’ve been told we’re quite funny on stage. Oh and Toronto’s Strumbellas is playing too so it’s going to be really cool.

The Sweet Alibi are playing at the Park Theatre Wednesday, May 30 with the Strumbellas. Show starts at 8:00p.m.

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