Whoop-Szo w/Motherhood, Valerie
The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street
Adam Sturgeon doesn't know, exactly, what it means to be a warrior. His grungy band Whoop-Szo—which sounds as if a folky Dave Grohl decided to make shoegaze-streaked metal—wrestles with this question throughout the 10-track effort Warrior Down, but it's still murky: "I don't think it's that picture that comes into the mind, per se. I think a warrior is just someone who wakes up in the morning and gets to live with truth and trust and all that. That's actually the question I had when we came up with that name," he says with a laugh. (Sturgeon's grandfather, a residential school survivor and solider for the Canadian army, is pictured on the album cover, hinting at the themes that await.)
Amidst sloshing guitars, Sturgeon keeps trying to figure things out, weaving lyrical narratives while unpacking inter-generational trauma. Its branches reach high, but Warrior Down's roots are planted in real life: "Every time I hear the word story, I feel reminded: I was meeting with my nan last week and she was all, 'These are facts, dude, you're telling facts'—and of course as Indigenous people, we love to tell stories. But for me, it was about learning about my culture in a lot of ways."
Sturgeon talks about creating "within a palette:" From the slow-melt mournfulness of "Cut Your Hair" to the wall of fuzz "Gerry" builds as Sturgeon begins singing, "Well, my cousin Gerry was shot by a cop," your guts fall and your eyes fill—but also, your arms pump.
"It's much easier to look back on and be like 'Oh, it was healing' while when I was writing about my cousin Gerry: I was playing those notes over and over again, crying to myself. And thats heavy, but there's this beautiful piece of music that comes out of that," he adds.
Yet, despite the load, these songs never risk of self-collapse: "Y'know, when you're sitting in your bedroom and you're whispering yourself a song, it carries the weight of some of the heaviest stuff, I think."