Alex Badger and Jon Aubry should have met sooner.
Growing up in Squamish, they both attended the same school and, later on, had intersecting social circles, but they didn't start making music together until a strange encounter last summer. "I designed a tattoo for one of my friends, then I walked into a house party and (Aubry) was the one tattooing my friend. That's how we met," Badger explains.
The pair instantly clicked and, soon after, formed a folk-rock band called The Giant Rat of Sumatra. They played exactly one show, at LIVE at Squamish. There was no dramatic fallout; the act just slowly morphed into Badger and Aubry's own project. "Al and I would be the ones at my house writing," Aubry explains. "The guys (in the band) had other things on their minds. They were really into acting and stuff. We found it easier just to write together without any distractions. It turned into us separating more into that."
"That," more specifically, is Badgerchild, the duo's nascent group, featuring Badger's lovely, delicate trill and Aubry's expert acoustic picking. Though their inspirations might differ (Aubry says he listens exclusively to rap while Badger is partial to all varieties of indie music) the pair says they've never clicked on a musical level with anyone the way they have with each other.
"I'm really excited about this project," Aubry says. "I've never worked with someone so compatible and everything is falling together perfectly."
Since making the move to Vancouver, they've been booking shows at venues for emerging acts like the Railway Club, along with some higher profile gigs at the Media Club, opening for acts like Surrey folk group Good for Grapes. Badger's job as an assistant at the PEAK Performance Project, a Vancouver radio station's professional development program and contest, also helped them integrate into the city's music scene. "I've made a lot of friends with those amazing, talented people, so that helps," she adds.
Now, they're focusing on recording their debut EP while settling on a cohesive sound. The goal: to have it finished before the holidays.
"The thing with our sound is we come from such different backgrounds we have a hard time deciding on a direction," Aubry says. "We'll go into the studio and I'll be like, 'I like this guitar' and Alex is like, 'I like these harmonies.' We'll start slapping things together and it turns into a really unique sound."
Another challenge: finding a group of backing musicians who will share their chemistry. "We just want to find the perfect match. We need someone who's going to be on our level," Aubry adds.
As a result, their live show, for now, is the two of them baring it all, with dark lyrics and Badger's voice front-and-centre. It can be intimidating to perform without a full band to soften the mistakes and cloud the lyrical content, but Badger says she still appreciates full attention. "It's pretty mellow, but I find we're able to engage with the audience because the music is so emotional," she says. "It wasn't comfortable at first because we're throwing our hearts down on the table. It's hard to get used to, but it's pretty cool."