Artist Spotlight: Larysa Musick

by Keeley Braunstein-Black

In March, Larysa Musick emerged onto Winnipeg’s music scene, releasing her first single, “Joan of Arc.”

Stylus: Tell me about your upcoming project.

Larysa Musick: I came to music a little bit late. I was always writing, but I spent a long time in poetry slam. I was a slam master for Winnipeg Poetry Slam for a couple of years [while studying] CreComm. And then I graduated CreCcomm and then realized, you know, I had completely forgotten about my love for music, and I just quit poetry slam.

I was ready to move on. And yeah, no, and from there, I just got back into writing, and then I met Sierra Noble at a music conference. I really wanted to work with a woman or a non-binary person for my project. I just had a gut feeling that would be the right thing to do for me, and I would feel more comfortable. They wanted to work with me, which is great, and they pulled in Madeline Roger, and one thing led to the next. We recorded a couple of demos with funding from MFM, Manitoba Film and Music, and then we just finished recording the EP in August. And I’m releasing my first track this month, which is really cool and fun. 

Stylus: Your first track, what is it called? What inspired it?

Larysa: It’s called “Joan of Arc.” Pretty famous historical figure from France. She was 16 or 17 when she led the French to victory in one or two battles during the Hundred Years’ War. I don’t know. When I wrote the song at first, it wasn’t about Joan. It was about me realizing that I had become a woman eventually at one point. I just woke up and realized, oh yeah, I’m not a little girl anymore, and I need to stand up for myself, and I need to start calling my own shots, you know? I recently moved out of my parent’s place, changed career paths, and started gunning for music. I realized that no one’s in charge of my life except me. I can start leading a team. I can start hiring musicians to play with me, which boggles my mind. It’s like, yeah! I look to Joan as kind of a role model from the past. If she could lead an army of men into battle at 16, I can certainly record an EP with very little money at 28. And yeah, that’s basically the track and the inspiration.

Stylus: I guess it informs the rest of your project because you said you have the EP.

Larysa: I’m releasing a single every few weeks until then. And there’ll be six songs. The themes are, it’s pretty much a coming of age theme, you know, imposter syndrome, like, who am I? You know, what am I supposed to do with my life? I’m still there. I’m older than you. Right? But, like, and it still creeps up sometimes, but I feel like these songs are me exercising that out of my body. It’s time to move on from that. I think they have helped me in that way. The themes are very similar. 

The EP’s called Tomorrow is Bound to Come. It was all written during COVID. I think a lot of people just were able to turn inward and spend that time with themselves without actively touring or having to hustle. I saw it as a huge opportunity because I had built a name for myself in poetry slam, but I was no one in music because I had not touched gigging since I was 16, and I was now coming out of college at 25. Is that three years ago or more?

All of these music conferences moved online, so it was less of a cost barrier to attend and network. And I was like, okay, cool, this is perfect. I was definitely a fly on the wall and never turned on my camera, but one of the breakout light-off buttons or something.

I remember I decided I was going to actively go to these weird little mixers. You know, where you’re like a pod moving on the screen, and then you enter like a networking puddle. I met someone from across Canada who’s a mixing engineer, and originally she was going to help me with my project. I was looking to literally make the whole project all women or gender fluid. That became exceedingly difficult because it’s very hard to find a mixing engineer who isn’t already booked up to the brim with work in Canada. Who is? Yeah, I mean, the stats are pretty low. You really have to dig. So when I found her, I was like, okay, let’s do this. But she ended up being busy, and there were lots of other conflicts. That’s kind of what I went through with this project. That’s why it took so long. I was adamant. I’m sure lots of other creative people go through this where they have like an idea, and they’re like, no, it has to be this. The musical needs overlapped with the need for a woman-led or gender-diverse team. Because some of the themes were thinking about the ways I pigeonholed myself to what’s possible for me as a woman, which is kind of awful and very outdated. But those old beliefs still existed, which is like … I feel like what I really love about the movement out of gender norms is the beauty that has come out of more people questioning it and supporting the movement.

Larysa Musick celebrated her first single with a soft release in an intimate house concert. Her second single, “Blue Skies,” was released on May 5. Another single drops on July 28. The singles are preludes to her debut EP, Tomorrow Is Bound to Come, to be released in September 2023.

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