By Remi Watts
It’s a bit ironic — an Albertan who moved to Toronto, only to then sing intimately about the Wildrose province. But for Nils Edenloff, it’s a reality. The singer, born and raised in northern Alberta, moved to Toronto for music. While there Edenloff met Paul Banwatt and Amy Cole, who became drummer and keyboardist, respectively, for the Rural Alberta Advantage.
Gauntlet: So Nils, your group’s name is, of course, the Rural Alberta Advantage. Now as a person from rural Alberta what is this advantage of which you speak?
Nils Edenloff: Well, I was born in Alberta myself, I moved out here a couple years ago, which is how I met my bandmates Paul and Amy. It wasn’t until I moved out here that I found a lot of the songs I was writing were referencing the memories I had of growing up in Alberta. All of a sudden I just realized, “Oh wow, another song about Alberta…”
The name Rural Alberta Advantage itself came about in an e-mail my brother sent me. He was hanging out with some friends that weekend, going down to our old farm and exploring that ‘rural Alberta advantage.’ Having grown up with ‘alberta advantage’ as a slogan which I always identified with oil and gas, industry and job opportunities, it was one of those things where adding that one word in front of that phrase completely changed it and instantly brought home all of these memories. It is not specifically meant as some sort of grand statement, it’s just this sort of reminiscing, a wistful looking back.
G: And what about your band’s sound?
E: The sound is us. We come from different places musically. It’s this sort of Venn diagram of different musical opinions coming together. I like to believe that on my own I couldn’t come up with the songs we have. It’s a huge collaboration by the three of us, each bringing in different ideas. RAA is an intersection.
G: Calgary’s musical scene often gets downplayed, especially when in contrast to Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto. This attitude seems to cause any Albertan musician who has an opportunity to leave to do so at first light. Since you are certainly apart of that trend, being an Albertan boy who packed up for the East, what are your feelings on the whole situation?
E: In Edmonton, where I attended university, I was too busy to be actively involved in the music scene. It was the combination of friends of mine who I had played music with were living in Toronto, bands I wanted to see were going through Toronto and not Edmonton, and I had a general desire for change. Things weren’t going awesome, in a way.
If I hadn’t made the move to Toronto and then met Paul and Amy I don’t imagine we’d be talking right now. There’s this sense of fate — coming out to Toronto and meeting these people.
G: So then what do you recommend Calgary do to change and make itself more musically viable?
E: Perseverance. I played so many unattended open-mike nights, but it allowed me to figure out what I do best musically. You have to figure out your sound and that takes time. Even after recording our first recording, playing shows for a bunch of people, and now just finishing our second record, it feels like we’ve grown all that much more since the beginning. It’s about putting the time in.
We’ve come together slowly but we made important steps forward in figuring out what we do well in our sound and direction.