The Chat Room: Krystle Dos Santos of Orchard Sky
Blurring the lines between southern rock, soul and country, Orchard Sky’s fresh new sound comes from a combination of Krystle Dos Santos’s powerful vocals and the hard driving work of lead guitarist Mitch Smith and bassist Andreas Wegner.
Dually based in Vancouver and Edmonton, Orchard Sky’s self-titled debut EP includes their heart-pumping singles “Rollin’ 7s,” “Flashbang” and “Honest,” all a blend of lipstick, dynamite and the roll of the dice. It follows Orchard Sky’s 2022 debut single “Canadian Party Song,” an instant country-rock anthem that Rogers SportsNet deployed as a soundtrack to the 2022 NHL playoff series between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Orchard Sky’s journey to this point has been a long one, but since Mitch and Andreas teamed with Krystle early in 2022, everything has fallen into place. What Krystle brought to the band was not only her stunning voice, but also a creative energy that she’s previously displayed as a solo artist and stage performer. Along with earning two Western Canadian Music Awards, she has appeared in productions of Dreamgirls, The Chelsea Hotel: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, and her own cabaret-style musical, Hey Viola!, a tribute to Canadian Civil Rights heroine Viola Desmond.
We caught up with Krystle Dos Santos in the midst of Orchard Sky’s current run of dates in western Canada. For more information, and to get their self-titled EP on your preferred platform, click HERE.
It’s been a year now since you released “Canadian Party Song” and a few months since the EP has come out. How are you feeling the band has grown since then?
Yes, it’s been an exciting year! We’ve had wonderful love on radio and played some live shows together, which has really allowed us to gel our live sound. Performing live is personally my absolute favourite thing to do so I can’t wait for our upcoming shows in the summer.
How have people been responding to your live show? Any notable gigs stand out?
People have been incredibly supportive and responsive. It’s been so exciting to get these songs out to live audiences and we couldn’t be more happy with how they are receiving them. We’ve played theatres, festivals, intimate shows. I have to say, Brewhalla beer fest was a definite highlight! Orchard Sky’s music is a perfect fit for those environments.
How have you been managing being jointly based in Alberta and B.C.?
Luckily, flights are great prices these days to and from Alberta and B.C. It’s been going okay, and it’s nice to go back-and-forth. I have family in Edmonton, and I’m sure the guys don’t mind coming to Vancouver in the lower mainland every once in a while.
Who are some of your favourite artists to listen to at the moment?
I definitely have a pretty diverse listening style. I really love Emily King, Yola, Chris Stapleton… I mean, the list goes on and on.
What can you say about any future plans for the band?
We’ve definitely started thinking about the next steps for the band. We are starting to write some new music and thinking about how to grow our live show. I am really looking forward to networking during the summer to find some other bands that we can work with, and possible collaborations as well.
JASON’S JUKEBOX PICKS
Lucinda Williams / Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart (Highway 20 Records)
From the opening Stones-y crunch of “Let’s Get The Band Back Together,” Lucinda Williams makes clear her intention on her 15th studio album—let’s turn up the amps and have some fun. Although she’s done that periodically throughout her five-decade career (documented in her recently published memoir) she drives home the point on “New York Comeback,” singing, “Let me have the final say, one last chance to do it my way.” It’s a powerful statement, given that the album comes in the wake of the 70-year-old suffering a stroke in late 2020 that left her temporarily unable to play guitar. However, there’s no indication of any impairment on the new songs, as Lucinda’s always solid band is augmented by guest appearances from Bruce Springsteen and wife Patti Scialfa, Margo Price, Angel Olsen, Buddy Miller and Tommy Stinson, with the last featured on “Hum’s Liquor,” a tribute to his late brother and Replacements co-founder Bob Stinson. In fact, along with being a celebration of rock and roll’s (hopefully) eternal appeal, Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart pays tribute to several of Lucinda’s other fallen heroes in her distinctive unsentimental manner. As a tribute to Tom Petty, “Stolen Moments” is particularly effective; when Lucinda sings, “It’s like a heartbeat, I think about you,” it’s hard not to share what she’s feeling when it comes to our own lost loved ones. Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart may not rank among Lucinda’s best albums, but late-career defiant messages don’t come any bolder, or better.
Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives / Altitude (Snakefarm Records)
Any dedicated country music fan knows Marty Stuart’s story of coming up as a bluegrass wunderkind, his lengthy apprenticeship with Johnny Cash, and to now being essentially the keeper of classic country’s flame in Nashville. But as a child of the ‘60s, Marty has likewise been an equal champion of the great country-rock experiments of that era, particularly the work of The Byrds and their late-period guitar wizard Clarence White. On Altitude, Marty and co. fully reconstruct that sound with stunning results. As expected, there’s plenty of guitar pyrotechnics, but what makes Altitude worthy of repeated listens is the dry humour and slight touch of cynicism evident in the lyrics. The Byrds’ move to country was partly about shattering stereotypes, and Marty updates that notion on “Country Star,” while “Vegas” is a loving reminder of Gram Parsons’ fascination with the Crystal City. It would be easy to say that Altitude is a country album for people who don’t like country music, but with a crackling energy generated by unparalleled musicianship, Altitude truly offers something you won’t currently hear anywhere on country radio.
Lankum / False Lankum (Rough Trade)
It’s often easy to forget that traditional Irish music had quite a lengthy pop moment during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Perhaps apart from The Pogues, not much of it can be said to hold up today, which makes the work of Lankum all the more bewildering. The Dublin-based quartet has been crafting its own dark vision of Irish music since 2000, more or less, but with False Lankum the group has finally been making inroads in North America, partly on the basis of the album’s backstory. Restricted by the pandemic, the group decamped to an abandoned army outpost on the Irish coast to write new material. What they produced consisted of 12 songs ranging from brief instrumental interludes to several epic, seven-plus minute ballads that sound as if they’d been unearthed from a Middle Ages burial site. Although the group relies on traditional instruments and modal harmonies, their use of modern drone techniques is what sets them apart. The end result falls somewhere between Fairport Convention and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, best displayed on the album’s centrepiece, “The New York Trader,” which begins as a familiar sea-going yarn until shifting abruptly to a sonic maelstrom, with pounding beats perfectly capturing the sense of helplessness upon an unforgiving sea. Lankum may not be the new Pogues, but False Lankum could similarly introduce a new generation to the magic and mystery of Irish music.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Matt Paxton & The Pintos – “Brother” (single / Down By The Point Records)