Electric Warriors: VIKINGS Bring Sweaty Synth Beats to Summertime Festivals and Packed Venues

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Manitoba Music has teamed up with Fresh Radio for a new monthly spotlight on local music, dubbed Manitoba Fresh to introduce audiences to a stellar slate of buzzworthy local artists emerging on the Canadian music scene. Featuring on-air segments and online performances via Fresh Radio, and in-depth band profiles right here on manitobamusic.com, Manitoba Fresh continues this month with electronic pop outfit VIKINGS. Tune in to 99.1 Fresh Radio and stay tuned for so much more...   

By Jillian Groening

Calling all Winnipeg club kids: your new favourite band has arrived.

A combination of laptop disco and sleek dance rock, VIKINGS will have you grooving so hard your sunglasses will go flying. 

Previously coined one of the most difficult bands to find online by CBC, the four heartbreakers have exploded beyond obscure underground status and now sell out local venues in a matter of days. Looking at you The Good Will.

What began as electronic noodling between charismatic frontman Josh Youngson and Moog wizard Dave McNabb quickly became polished demos, catching the eye of promoters and granting the gentlemen an offer to open for established American musician Neon Indian. Although forced to decline due to lack of a set list, the gentlemen knew they were on to something good.

“We started working on stuff just for fun ‘cause we’d been talking about it for a long time,” Youngson explains. “Dave, seemingly overnight, became a very good producer. It was great.”

Enlisting McNabb’s brother James to fill out the sound and the stage presence, VIKINGS independently released its self-titled debut in December 2013 to an enthusiastic fan base. Recorded in Winnipeg with the help of Andrew Yankiwski and Precursor Productions, the result was polished, laser show perfection and the hype so infectious that the group even gained another member.

“[Luke] was our number one fan and that’s how he got the gig,” Dave jokes.

“We hung out one time and I said ‘I think you guys need a drummer’,” Luke Janzen, who has toured with JP Hoe as well as being president of the VIKINGS fan club, states.

“Actually it was ‘you guys should play with a drummer and that drummer should be me’,” Dave corrects and chuckles ensue.

Initially hired on to play at The Cube for TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, the highly anticipated show got rained out and turned into one of the most raucous parties of the year, hosted by hip hop masterminds The Lytics. Luke stayed on the bill and the rest is history.

With new songs coming out of its ears, the electro-pop outfit is excited to release its sophomore album in early 2017.

“I think we’ve really honed in on a style,” Dave says. “The first record had a lot of different elements coming together and with this next one we really figured out an electronic approach to sound.”

“We wanted to make it eclectic but to still sound like VIKINGS,” Josh adds.

While everything came together lighting fast with the first record, with fresh songs being laid down and completed every week, the second album aims to rein in the focus while still maintaining a sense of expanding new frontiers.

“We really curated the tracks this time around,” Josh says. “Which was made possible because we had a lot of stuff to choose from.”

Kings of the Winnipeg summer festival circuit, VIKINGS is set to play Head In The Sand’s latest and greatest fun time, SpaceLand, on June 4. Inspired by the parking lot parties of SXSW, SpaceLand aims to gain awareness towards the cities vacant urban spaces. Press play on the SpaceLand streaming playlist

Beyond snipping the proverbial ribbon at the city’s newest festival, the group will once again hit the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival's free opening weekend on June 18, then hit Canada Day at The Forks and ManyFest before aiming to take their talents on the road.

“We’re looking forward to mixing, mastering, developing the brand, booking a tour and playing as many showcases as possible,” Dave explains. “In a lot of ways this record will be like a coming out for the band.”

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