Keep your eyes peeled for Gypsophilia this summer. Identifying features, you ask? Well, what do seven people lugging around at least as many hefty instrument cases getting on a Greyhound bus look like? If Ross Burns is to be believed, probably like they're having a lot of fun. Burns and six of his best pals have hit the dusty trails this summer, or, are pounding the pavement, as the case may be.
"One of my favourite things about going traveling around playing music is that you meet so many good folks—like, 99 percent good folks, and you catch them at their most excited and generous too," says Burns. "They're at a concert, they're gracious and grateful that you came out to their community. It's a lot of fun catching people in such a good mood."
Indeed Burns, the designated go-to interviewee of the seven (I get passed off from Adam Fine), is emphatically gracious and grateful himself, not just thankful for those good folks in the audience, but for his buddies-cum-bandmates, unable to sing their praises highly enough. "The biggest thing is that we're all friends and have a good social rapport," he says. "I can't imagine it would turn out much better—we have a lot of fun playing together."
With stops all over Canada—including Iqualuit—and a lengthy leg through the US, Burns says that by the end of it, Gypsophilia will have covered over 20,000 kilometres in 33 days.
In case you haven't been introduced, please, allow me: Gypsophilia is your resident Halifax hot jazz band with klezmer, gypsy, funk and indie thrown in for good measure. Gypsophilia is Alec Frith, Nick Wilkinson and Ross Burns on guitars, Sageev Oore on piano, accordion and keyboards, Matt Myer on trumpet, Adam Fine on double bass and Gina Burgess on violin. The pleasure is all yours, I'm sure. These seven friends got their start in 2004 at little old Jazz Fest right here in Halifax, when asked to play a tribute to Django Reinhardt. "It was supposed to be a one-off concert at the jazz fest, but because we had so much fun at the concert we just kept trying," says Burns.
Almost 10 years later and although Reinhardt still looms as an influence-at-large, Burns tells me they've moved onwards and upwards from strict labels. "Musically we've started taking a lot of pleasure in writing and performing original music and not trying to be authentically one thing or another because we all have such different backgrounds," he says. "That original concert is still the launching pad for us and what brought us together, but now we're really enjoying straying from that."
At the beginning of last month, Gypsophilia released a new 7" vinyl single titled Horska along with a remix, as well as an accompanying stop-motion animation video created by Sydney Smith. "We didn't tell him what to do; Sydney just came up with his perfect interpretation of the music, which was no surprise because we had a chance to work with him on a bunch of stuff," Burns says.
Gypsophilia has released three full-length albums, but Burns maintains this one feels different. "This is the first time we've ever released a single and a remix...this time the release is so much different than I expected," he says. "If we didn't love it and we weren't excited by it, it would be kind of disingenuous to ask people to get excited by it themselves. It's nice to not feel like you're painting by numbers."
"If we all hated each other it wouldn't be gratifying to put in the work and make compromises, but because we love each other it's really easy to be generously listening to ideas and being open to how things sound when seven cooks get their hands on the broth," says Burns.
The band has played innumerable Halifax jazz fests since its inaugural performance, but Burns says the late night series holds a special place in their hearts. "It's a little more intimate than a big stage—it's a great hang…one of the nice things about Jazz Fest is that people come out of the woodwork and you get to see lots of friends, hang out, drink some beer and listen to music. We're stoked to be a part of that."
For Burns at least, the hard work all comes back to his buds. "I'd be lying if I denied it was in some ways inefficient—of course travelling is inefficient, all these bags and instruments, it's kind of like travelling with a circus with all the gear and merchandise...if we were a trio it would be easier for one person to say 'this is how it's going to be,' but on the other side that's what makes it fun.
"It's not my band, it's just the results of all our musical stuff coming together. Even if it isn't the most efficient, it's better because of it."
Friday, July 5 at 11:30pm, $12/$15
The Company House, 2202 Gottingen