Proud Animal is the musical partnership of Vancouver artists Barbara Adler and Gavin Youngash. Together, they make music that embraces contrast, moving effortlessly between sweet-tempered anthems, brash rock-outs, and playfully sharp meditations on everything from astronomy to promiscuity. The pair is joined by James Meger (electric bass) and Aaron Klassen (drums).
Proud Animal started out as a strange, hyperbolic fantasy. Gavin Youngash and Barbara Adler attended an excellent community square dance and decided that they should form a folk duo. They would start out by playing every square dance in Vancouver, and branch out from there to world domination.True story. Luckily, they abandoned those delusions early on, but a certain shameless exuberance still lives in the music. Proud Animal mates harmony singing to fuzzed out bass-lines; glass-toned keyboards with grungy drum crashes; over-driven guitars with lyrics that count. At the heart of it all is the band’s love for the simplicity of a well-crafted song. Yet, despite their real respect for the classic songwriting of giants like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon, the band is happy to defy any and all expectations of genre. They might still be dreaming, but to their ears, gutsy power rock and sensitive song craft are equally excellent tools for sharing a story.
Although Proud Animal is a young band, Youngash and Adler are hardly virgins to Canada’s music scene. A highly sought-after session player for jazz, blues and rock projects, Youngash is best known as the inventive guitarist and instrumental arranger for Fusion septet The Star Captains. Adler honed her sharp ear for a lyric and her road-tuned stage presence over years of touring as a solo storyteller, and as the accordion player for CFMA-nominated folk-poetry group, The Fugitives. It’s not the first time that a music-school graduate (Youngash) has collaborated with a self-taught musician (Adler). What’s unique about this partnership is the extent to which the pair has immersed themselves in each others’ work. Sharing duties instrumentally, vocally, and as arrangers and writers on every song, Proud Animal is an instance of a songwriting partnership that showcases individual strengths and then moves past them.
With the release of their debut, self-titled EP, Proud Animal is establishing themselves as a band blessed with fat doses of reckless confidence. In the handful of months since they’ve formed, they’ve written a collection of original songs, booked tours through Northern BC and across Canada, and started work on an interdisciplinary show that will premier this summer at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Crazy? The band prefers “audacious.”
They’ll be celebrating their debut by inviting fans to submit photographs of themselves which capture their own reckless confidence. Overdressed at the laundromat? Strutting? Proud Animal wants to see it. Photographs will be showcased alongside the band’s photos of great audacious acts at www.proudanimal.com