By Rachel Narvey
It’s the first snowfall of the year and already Winnipeg drivers seem to have forgotten the rules of the road. I make my way across Main, narrowly avoiding a few ambitious cars. At her apartment, Lizzy Burt (one half of Basic Nature) offers me some tea. While we wait for her counterpart, Claire Bones, to arrive, we talk about staying motivated, how gross the mall is, and holistic healing.“I want to learn everything,” Lizzy says about natural remedies. “I feel like knowledge is a tree and the more branches you know, the more it helps with everything else. At the place I work, we sell this peppermint headache treatment, but sometimes the headache is a symptom of something else. There’s like, 300 different types of headaches. Or 30,” she laughs. “One or the other.”
Basic Nature is barely a year old, but the kinship between the two musicians makes them seem like a more seasoned band. Listening to their album Circles and Lines feels like wrapping yourself in a blanket of glowing strands of light. While their music has been referred to as dreampop and shoegaze, Claire and Lizzy self describe their sound as “country-rock space princess.”
For someone new to their music, the duo can suggest ways of tuning in, tailored to your zodiac sign. “For a Taurus, it would be someone putting earphones on their head,” says Claire. “If you’re a Sagittarius, probably a live show at The Good will,” Lizzy adds. “I think if a friend were to show a Cancer, you know, someone they trust. They’d have to listen to it two or three times though.”
While Lizzy cites Slowdive’s Souvlaki as one of their sounds’ influence, their focus on intuitive collaboration makes their music their own. “You just lose track of time,” Claire says. “We’ll be working on a song for an hour and it’ll feel like a couple minutes.” As far as material goes, Basic Nature’s songs center around achieving a kind of catharsis. “Even though I don’t intend them to be, almost every song is lyrically about something very specific,” Lizzy says. “I think playing music is the only way for my soul to really get over anything.”
Though the two have been in other bands, they emphasize the greater opportunity for creative agency that comes with being in a duo. Together, they’ve created a safe space where they can share or play anything. The concept for their “Eyelids” music video, a surrealist vision where a girl is surrounded by figures with giant eyes, originated from one of Claire’s drawings. “It was really nice to both believe in the same story,” Claire says. “We’re really good at feeding off each other’s ideas.”
Last summer, Basic Nature toured across eastern Canada to promote their music. Other than eight-hour driving sessions which made both of them feel like zombies, they enjoyed the opportunity to play in different cities. “I didn’t realize how comfortable it was to play in Winnipeg,” Claire notes. “Here, we know everything about the venue. We know who’s going to be there and who’s going to do our sound. But as soon as we got there, everything worked out.”
The band appreciates Winnipeg for its downtown area and strong arts community, though they did cite the need for more Winnipeg-based music blogs. What they don’t like about Winnipeg? “The little roundabouts,” Lizzy says. “Those are the worst.”
Basic Nature played at the Good Will with Autumn Still and Bicycle Face at the beginning of November. Looking ahead, the band plans to tour again this upcoming May, as well as release a second album. “It would be nice to play a two-hour set one time, because then we’re warmed up,” Claire says. “It’s almost like by the time we’re warmed up it’s basically over.”
“For our next CD release we’ll have like, a two-hour song,” Lizzy adds.
“And lots of costume changes,” Claire concludes.
Visit Basic Nature online at basicnaturemusic.wix.com/basicnaturemusic, and on Tumblr at basicnaturemusic.tumblr.com.