A record deal before the age of 20, glowing attention from press across Canada and now an opportunity to learn from industry heavyweights who’ve collectively sold thousands of records between them.
Life is good for members of Vancouver indie pop group the Katherines.
The trio was recently named to a 10-band shortlist for the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class, which serves as equal parts mentorship program, high-profile performance opportunity and a chance to rub shoulders with Canadian music big wigs.
The final three will be named Sept. 20 and winners get a treasure trove of perks: a week-long trip to Toronto to learn from the pros, an all-expenses-paid trip to next year’s Junos in Vancouver, free studio time and performance opportunities out the wazoo.
All in, the prize pack is valued around $100,000.
“It’s such a nice thing for us right now — it’s an honour and I wasn’t expecting it,” said Kate Kurdyak. “We entered this thinking it would be an incredible opportunity for growth and learning but we didn’t expect anything from it. This is a nice boost of confidence.”
Alongside her sister Lauren Kurdyak, the Katherines is rounded out by life-long friend Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher. Their sound is rooted in indie pop, with a focus on intricate layers of vocal harmonies. Their debut album, To Bring You My Heart, was released in January via 604 Records.
Advancing to the final 10 means their work is now being scrutinized by a panel of judges including past Juno winners Lights, Kardinal Offishall, Max Kerman of Arkells fame and a group of industry executives spanning the country.
Knowing their music is in the hands and ears of that group is both off-putting and invigorating.
“It’s nerve wracking, it’s validating… it’s all of the above,” Kate Kurdyak said. “We’re really excited, because we’re big fans of all of those artists.”
Forming in their high school years — band members are now in their early 20s — the trio began fostering their musical kinship in kindergarten, when they began singing together in choirs. The songs on To Bring You My Heart were recorded three years prior to their release and are admittedly written from the perspective of “a high school girl brain.” The new batch of tunes being worked on are more in the here in and now.
“It took a long time [to record] and it was really spread out, so by the time we got the album out it was three years old to us,” Hansen-Boucher said. “As soon as the first album came out, it really felt like we were already move on to the next thing.”
The band isn’t necessarily sold on the idea of recording another LP immediately moving forward. Instead, they’re more likely to release singles in a more piecemeal approach and then get to an album when a batch of like-minded songs presents itself.
“We’re trying to figure out what that looks like and how we feel collectively about what the next step looks like,” Kate Kurdyak said. “This [contest] would be very useful towards that, but either way we’re working on that self-discovery process how we move forward.”
For info and show dates, log on to katherinesband.com.