It's probably safe to say that Andrew Sisk, the brainchild behind the folk-inspired electronic project Share, had to leave home to find what he was looking for. A native of Chipman, New Brunswick, Sisk didn't see a punk band in concert until he left his hometown for Fredericton as a 17-year-old. That experience, along with discovering other New Brunswick indie acts like Eric's Trip and a chance meeting half-a-world away, led him on the path to write his melodic sound collages. He will perform with his three-piece band (including drummer Kyle Cunjak and multi-instrumentalist Nick Cobham) at One World Cafe this weekend as part of his Can Can Missile album tour.
"I was lucky enough to take guitar lessons at 13 or 14 years old from this guy who was a friend of my dad's," Sisk says from a tour stop in Montreal. "He used to play in this Boston/Supertramp cover band and so he had all these beautiful Gibson Sunburst guitars and things like that. I was learning CCR and random country hits of the early '90s. That was the be-all, end-all of the Chipman music scene."
Sisk, now 26, discovered there was much more to music than what he heard on the radio when he made his move to Fredericton. He immersed himself in the local scene, going to punk and alternative rock shows. It was a stop in town by seminal Washington, DC, punk band Fugazi that really piqued his interest in being more than a spectator.
"I have this theory that when you're at a live musical event, there's something that's passed on to you," he says. "I don't want to get spiritual, but they change you and your perspective. And when you see shows like that, it changes the music you make, at least."
After a few years in Fredericton, Sisk hit the road, taking his ukulele with him. While travelling he wrote enough songs to fill an album. He also met Halifax-based sound artist Aaron Wallace of Sleepless Nights and AA Wallace fame while living in Sri Lanka. The two became close friends and upon his return to Canada, Sisk moved to Halifax.
"Aaron had been making music in the Halifax scene for a few years already," Sisk says. "I had told him I loved playing drums and he had a project with Roger Nelson that they would call Cheval. I was way out of practice—I hadn't played in two years—so I went in and it was rough going at first, but I ended up being the drummer."
Although Cheval didn't last long, Sisk continued working on his own music. He bought a few Casio keyboards from yard sales and a four-track recorder from Wallace on which he would record the demos for Ukulele Tragic, his debut. He went on to record his second album, the more electronic Can Can Missile, with Wallace as well.
"I had this digital sampler that I was making rhythm tracks with and I was writing songs how I would on any other instrument," he says. "It opened up this whole new way of writing when you can record, go back and experiment. The second album, Can Can Missile, resulted from the access to experiment and writing songs from the recording process rather than relying on your voice and instrument."
While Sisk's first album sounds like an avant-garde Old Man Luedecke, Can Can Missile drops the ukulele in favour of Kraftwerk electronics while maintaining the indie-folk mindset. Recorded over a few days in Wallace's bedroom, the 25-minute album is a collection of minimal soundscapes bolstered by melodic instrumentation, Sisk's poetic lyrical structure and danceable beats.
The entire package, from music to presentation with the silk-screened album cover, feels positively DIY. Unlike Eric's Trip, which went from an experimental group and fractured into folk-inspired projects like Julie Doiron's solo efforts, Sisk took the opposite route, using the folk template as a launch pad to find something new.
"Growing up in a small town, I didn't have access to the music that I would later love and feel close to," he recalls. "For me to know there are musicians like Rick White and Julie Doiron that were doing something so influential and unique out of New Brunswick, it was so impressive. I didn't know who they were until I was 21 years old, but going back and listening to them, I feel a real affinity to their music and what they did."
Share CD release w/ the Superfantastics and AA Wallace, May 6 at One World Cafe, 2412 Agricola, 6:30pm, $5.