Interview with musical group Carmanah

Today on What On What’s Good with Host Jovin Tardif, I am here with BC Band Carmanah.  They just recently released their new album Iris. Today in our interview, we discuss their latest single “Bang Bang“, touring and more.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about the different members of the group?

We are 6 folks who all love to play music together. Pat (lead guitarist and vocalist) is our mechanic and all around fixit guy. He has the tour vehicle running on used-vegetable oil and is currently building a tour bus out of an old 1972 GMC bus. Graham (drummer) is an engineer and an avid spearfisher. Lo (backup vocalist) loves fashion, blue-heelers and also plays in her own project called Devil Woman. Mikey (keys player and backup vocalist) is an outdoor adventurer, a Spanish student and the creator of the Carmanah Radio podcast. Jamil (bass guitarist) is an incredible guitarist as well and enjoys cooking and chilling with pals. I’m Laura (vocalist, guitarist and violinist) and I love songwriting, environmental conservation, gardening and being outdoors.

2. Tell us about the name Carmanah?

Carmanah is named after the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew on the ancestral and current territory of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Peoples. This land is home to a forest that has never been logged and the ancient trees that grow there include some of the largest sitka spruces in the world. We first chose the name somewhat naively, hoping to find a namesake that connected us to our west coast home. But over the years we continue to learn more about the communities that protect the forest and those who spared the old-growth trees from being logged in the late 1980s. The cultural and environmental significance of the forest is irreplaceable and invaluable.

3. Producer Gus Van Go coined the term “West Coast Soul” for your unique sound. Please describe.

Living on the west coast has definitely influenced us individually and therefore has had a significant influence on the music we create as well. I find my lyrics often touch on my love for the coast and the recognition that we urgently need to protect the natural world. As musicians, we enjoy creating songs that are soulful, folky and smooth with hints of edginess and rock and roll.

4. Your latest single is “Bang Bang,”. What can you tell us about the song?

This song was written long ago by Sonny Bono but we loved borrowing it and making it our own. While we give a big nod to Sonny Bono/Cher’s original, our interpretation of the song was most influenced by Nancy Sinatra’s version. Carmanah started playing this song live a few years ago and it immediately became a crowd-pleasing favourite. Since we never grew tired of performing the tune, the band decided to record it.

5. Describe the importance of respecting our land and waters.

Wow, that’s a big question but I’ll try to keep my answer light. It’s not news to anyone that we have just one planet and we are destroying it. I believe in system change and in calling out the true evils of society, of mankind, and of capitalism. It’s easy to point fingers away from yourself but we can all do better… much better, not just recycling and cutting down on plastic bags. The change has to be big and uncomfortable or we are doomed. And a big part of this change includes valuing and upholding nature and the people who are fighting for conservation, for social justice, and for environmental/scientific support.

Iris by Carmanah

  1. Mountain Woman
  2. Best Interests
  3. Love Is Good For You
  4. Some See Heaven
  5. Just Your Mind
  6. As I See You
  7. Something Else
  8. Demon Host
  9. Bang Bang
  10. Stand Up

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Tags: Carmanah, Bang, Bang, Iris

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Jovin Tardif
Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.