Snack Sessions Interview : Lanikai

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Manitoba Music is launching Snack Sessions, a new music video series streaming live via Facebook. In each session, a Manitoba act will be featured in a live performance plus a interview and profile. Read on and stay tuned for more Snack Sessions! Snack Sessions is made possible by the support of Corus Entertainment, with snacks provided by Old Dutch and Half Pints Brewing Company. WATCH VIDEO

By Graeme Houssin

Winnipeg may be far from the Hawaiian beach that inspired the moniker of alt-pop outfit Lanikai, but things are certainly heating up for the local quartet.

Lanikai was making waves in the Winnipeg music scene even before they joined forces. Songwriter and lead vocalist Marti Sarbit, a local mainstay, fronted indie-pop act Imaginary Cities, while bassist and vocalist Natalie Bohrn still heads alt-indie outfit Slow Spirit. Although Imaginary Cities disbanded in 2016, Sarbit says her time in the Polaris Music Prize-nominated group taught her how to have confidence in her own vision.

“I feel lucky to be able to carry that vision out now with a team of total pros who’ve generously put their trust in me,” said Sarbit.

In the two-and-a-half years since Lanikai teamed up, Sarbit’s vision has guided them further and further, from stage to bigger stage. In the year following their first show, they snagged a spot at Rainbow Trout Music Festival in 2016, released their debut self-titled EP, and landed on CBC Music’s “11 best new bands of 2016” list.

But that was only the beginning. This year alone, Lanikai has brought their self-described “lush, sparkling alt-pop vibes” across land and sea, including a Germany tour this March.

“There’s a real enthusiasm for music and live shows that’s unique to Germans,” said Sarbit. “The towns are beautiful and sometimes feel like something out of a fairy tale. We’re planning to go back in the spring and I’m super stoked.”

In July, they hit the Big Blue at Night stage for the Winnipeg Folk Festival – coincidentally, on the same stage and at the same time Imaginary Cities played the festival back in 2011. While the experience was familiar, Sarbit says the gravity of performing at Folk Fest hit her this time around with Lanikai.  

“It was an emotional set and – not gonna lie – I burst into major happy tears the moment I walked off that stage,” said Sarbit.

Just last month, the group performed in Kelowna at BreakOut West, Canada’s largest music industry event, and landed a nomination for Pop Artist of the Year – something that came as a surprise to Sarbit.

“I still feel like we’re such a baby band, so the fact that anyone knows who we are is a wonderful feeling,” said Sarbit. “Being nominated for Pop Artist of the Year along with some amazing artists is an honour and makes me want to keep going on this crazy weird music path.”

Most recently, the group has just returned from a Western Canadian tour, a rewarding and inspiring experience for Sarbit.

“I love playing to new audiences, experiencing the diverse venues we have throughout the country, creating new memories and fans along the way,” said Sarbit. “It gives me a feeling of forward momentum and I like to think that having the chance to play music to new people every day is a pretty cool way to spend one’s life.”

Next up, the group is gearing up for a release of their first LP in February 2019. Just last month, they released their first single: “Heavy Ghost”, alongside a camp-themed music video featuring the band as poison-fuelled ghostly hallucinations.

“This album is a testament to my growth as an artist and as a person since I put out the EP a couple years ago,” said Sarbit. “There's much more substance this time around, or at least I feel that way. A clearer representation of who I am and what my sound is. I feel like I'm sharing a lot more of my vulnerabilities and - perhaps - my darker experiences, but I'm somehow having more fun in the process.”

Don’t miss out on Lanikai’s upcoming album, and check out their single and music video for “Heavy Ghost”, plus other music and videos by the group, on their Manitoba Music profile.

Stay tuned for more Snack Sessions...

December 4 Silence Kit

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