Nelson's been kind to Wassabi Collective. It has nurtured them, supported them, and provided fresh soil for their burgeoning ideas. But like a chick must leave its nest...well, you get the idea.
The core of the Collective, Melissa Meretsky and Brent "Gisto" Hongisto, are on the move. Meretsky has moved to Vancouver and Gisto is heading to Jamaica for a month to make a record, leaving WC to hibernate for the winter.
"Nelson's been good," Gisto says.
"It's been a good gestation period where you can learn and grow because you're not overly influenced by all the passing trends and all the changing things in the city."
Originally from Ontario, Gisto and Meretsky moved out to Nelson and formed WC, a genre-bending group of five musicians renowned for their energetic live shows. They've been a staple of the B.C. touring circuit but Meretsky says they've reached their maximum audience living in the Kootenays.
"I need more options almost," Meretsky says. "Nelson's this little winter wonderland and I need to grow as an artist and as a musician so you need to go where the music is. So I switched it up."
The two have now collaborated as the Wassabi Duo, an electronic-based WC side project. It leans heavily on dubstep and club music while incorporating elements of pop, hip hop and rock, their self-titled debut has sold 2,000 without any distribution or official release on iTunes.
Gisto says the duo provides a way to release the material that is a little more club-oriented and dubstep influenced.
"This is a way to kind of go a bit more towards the production side and having everything mapped out and designed like it's more like a DJ set or an integration of the live and DJ vibes. It brings together those two worlds," Gisto says.
Much of WC's output is shaped by whatever Gisto is producing at home first. Wherever his influences lay is where the Collective will be moving, so he says the electronic elements will likely play a more prominent role in future WC material.
"The duo is the easiest way to integrate it right off the bat," he says.
Gisto says the duo harnesses the same high energy as WC. Meretsky hammers it out on the drums while he lays into the guitar, with both handling vocal duties. They'll run through hip hop, rock, club, dance, electro and everything in between. They've also remixed several Wassabi Collective tracks from their last album, Get It, to fit into the new set.
"A song that might have been an uptempo kind of groove on the Get It album has been turned into a dubstep remix version of it. We've done a lot of stuff like that where we're remixing our own stuff and variations on the theme. It all pools back to the stuff that we've done with the collective," Gisto says.
All WC members will be pursuing other projects while the band hibernates. Remaining members, Jimmy Lewis, Rahj Levinson and Andrew McCormick, will hang around Nelson while Meretsky focuses on her artwork in Vancouver. Gisto, as we've said, heads to Jamaica.
Last year, he went to Jamaica for the first time to shop some of his recordings around to producers and see whom he could link up with. By a fluke, he met Dre Zee, an up and coming reggae artist in his own right.
"He took me in and for a month I lived with these guys. They were already on the tip, like they were going into Kingston and working with producers, shooting music videos and having them air on Hype TV. He brought me right into his sphere once I shared with him what I was doing," he says.
Together, they completed a song on one of the rhythm tracks he had brought with him, called "Invincible." They also shot a music video, which was playing on regular rotation on Hype TV for the past year. He'll be heading back this month to link up with Dre Zee "and just keep pushing it because it seems like Jamaica really embraced me."
Wassabi Duo will be playing the Pemberton Hotel this Friday, to kick off Meretsky's art exhibit at the One Earth Collection, which will run until the end of December.