Winnipeg is known as the “Heart of the Continent.” In this beating heart on the prairies, there is always new music being made: in its clubs and basements, and in between work and life. Imaginary Cities was born in a club called The Cavern, in between sets. This new group, founded in a chance meeting is now readying to introduce their debut album, Temporary Resident in early 2011. They are a band that is fast becoming one of Canada's most important and talked about new bands.
Imaginary Cities is the musical duo of Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matyas. Marti had moved to Winnipeg from Brandon, MB, and was playing in a Motown cover band called, The Solutions. Rusty did mixing for them. Rusty was no stranger to the Canadian music scene himself. His former band The Waking Eyes was signed to Warner Records, and he's currently the multi-instrumentalist in The Weakerthans.
Rusty and Marti began to record together, and in one all-night writing session came up with a triumphant and soulful beginning, the track, Say You. It was a turning point: Marti’s stunning and original voice broke open a wealth of creativity between them.
The momentum they gained from the Say You session carried on through the winter of 2010. The duo would regularly spend 12 hours straight writing and working on a single song. As Rusty explains, “If it was going well after a few hours, we would stay until we had a finished song to take home. There's an energy and excitement on the day you're writing and recording a new song that will almost guaranteed be absent if you come back to it another day.”
The energy the band found from writing together provided the identity and direction they needed to make a full album. Rusty finding a particular strength as arranger. Marti explains, “He played all of the instruments and had a very clear idea of the kind of sound we were going for.” Say You is the song that really got things started, but Hummingbird stands out as a key song on the album. “The day we started working on Hummingbird we actually didn't have a song in mind. Rusty just started playing a few chords and I realized that I had a song that sort of fit with it,” she says. Like it was just meant to be.
The jamspace recordings soon became, a complete
album, flushed out at local Winnipeg studio, Prairie Recording Co in April 2010. The resulting collection is a unique blend of wild pop songs, such as Don't Cry, that can barely contain Marti’s vocals. Then there are the tragic, modern ballads such as Purple Heart, that bridge the gap between '60s Motown and contemporary keyboard rock. Marti's voice is heart-wrenching, with the frailty and wounding potential of shattered glass. Her voice is the thread that runs through the music, and is layered masterfully with Rusty's instrumentation.
The band began playing live in May 2010, but made its big debut at Toronto’s NXNE music festival opening for Young Galaxy in June. Touring with a full band of musicians who lift the songs to new heights, it's still Sarbit’s voice that's known to shake the room. The band now has a full Canadian tour set up for fall 2010 opening for a number of reknown acts, such Rural Alberta Advantage and Ra Ra Riot. They head to Europe in January 2011.
Imaginary Cities recently signed to Hidden Pony Records, home to like-minded pop acts such as Hannah Georgas and Said The Whale. The band is releasing a 7” and digital EP on October 26th that features two song from their album and an exclusive track. The full new album, Temporary Resident album will follow in February 2011. Less of a throwback and more of a look forward, it is already one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the coming year.
“On this preview EP of their impending debut full-length, Matyas hops from guitar to drums to keys to bass to create dynamic indie pop underneath Sarbit’s distinct soaring voice. Hummingbird and Temporary Resident are bright, propulsive indie pop tunes tempered by Sarbit’s bluesy melodies and downbeat lyrics, while Say You is comfortably mellow. 4/5”
— NOW Magazine