Story by Dami Fadipe
Photos by Will Geier

With their electric tunes and soulful sounds, Shuffalo has managed to make a name for themselves in a short amount of time. After cementing their roster in early 2018, they quickly made moves in Calgary’s music scene, playing various venues and charming crowds with stellar songs. We reached out to the band to get a glimpse into how they are navigating the music scene in Calgary.

You recently released your debut EP, Heart Attack. What were your feelings when pressing “send” and putting it out into the world?

To be honest, we were both excited and relieved; it was a long time coming. Sometimes when that much hard work, passion, and time goes into something, there’s always a bit of apprehension and self-consciousness, you know? The usual stuff like, ‘Maybe people won’t like it’ or ‘what if nobody listens to it?’

There’s definitely a certain liberation to think, “It’s done, it’s out there, it’s out of our hands now.”

Being a band that is now Calgary-based, are there elements or themes of the city that you incorporate into your music?

With the exception of Bailey, none of us are originally from Calgary. In fact, we were all born or raised in different provinces. With our scattered backgrounds, there are a lot of perspectives and elements that come into play when we write, but Calgary definitely plays a role in that.

Brayden: I’m actually from Saskatchewan and I remember when I moved here I felt sort of insignificant looking up at all the buildings and watching all the people going by – not in a bad way or anything, it’s a healthy reminder to feel like my life isn’t the only thing going on out there.

What do you think is the most important thing that keeps the band on track and breaking new ground with your music?

We work very hard everyday with this group, but we try to keep it as loose as possible where we can. We have these mini ‘divisions’ we sort of run within the group, and they all have really goofy nicknames. For example, the singers in the band will get together and work on harmonies, like an acapella group. We call it the ‘Parm Boyz’, short for ‘parmesan’, because it super cheesy without instrumentation.

On a serious note, we feel very fortunate. We’re still getting to know each other, so coming from different upbringings and backgrounds, we share different influences and styles with one another. We feel like it helps push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

What’s the most enjoyable show that you have played so far?

Two shows, for different reasons.

We got to play the last weekend of Nite Owl before it closed – which was bittersweet. It’s unfortunate it closed, but we’re grateful we got to play an iconic stage like that before it did. We all collectively agreed that it was the first time we felt that kind of energy as a band. There were moments when we looked around and gave out little nods to each other of “this is all those hours of practice paying off.” The crowd, sound, and atmosphere all aligned that night. We’re definitely our harshest critics and we can be extremely hard on ourselves, so that show was almost like a little pat on the back.  

We’re also really stoked that we got to play the Gateway. Some good friends of ours, the Ashley Hundred, were kind enough to invite us to support them and Shred Kelly this last October. As far as Calgary goes, before we even had this band, we’ve always wanted to play that venue. It was a huge accomplishment of ours.

Calgary’s arts and music is growing and there is a fear that it may become oversaturated. Do you think that it’s more important to stick to what you know for fans or maybe try new things to interest new people?

New music and art is always a good thing in our books…and being a relatively new band on the scene ourselves, we’ve received a lot of love and support from some awesome bands and artists all over Calgary, it’s an awesome community.

As far as sticking with what we know, we have a philosophy to find a balance between music we really enjoy playing, and music we think our fans (or audience) would really enjoy hearing. It can be a really tricky thing to write a good song with that balance in mind and there’s always room for improvement…but we try to push the envelope as much as we can without losing ourselves too much.

Are there certain things that inspire your creative process when writing music?

We’re all inspired by so many variables. Everything from inward emotions, personal struggles, victories, inspiring music…Even our personal problems, or worldly issues have been a major inspiration for us. We find it important to address all this and really let it come out in the songs as best we can.

We look at it like a two-step therapeutic process. We write all these lyrics, arrangements, and melodies… there’s a lot of energy put into it, then we let go and release it out into the world.

What goals are you working towards for 2019?

We have a couple things we’re working toward. We’ve been in talks with a producer in Vancouver that we’re all really excited about working with; we’re big fans of the records he’s made. That said, we’ll be looking to release a few singles and a full-length album with a branding we’re all really proud of. We’ll also be trying to play a few less shows so we can work on some new material.

Otherwise, it’d be a lot of fun to tour parts of Canada a bit, and maybe play some festivals.

Check out Shuffalo on their website and Instagram.