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FYI

Five Questions With… Lee Rose of Ace Of Wands

The former singer of Rival Boys heads a new trio that blends its fondness for the supernatural with an equal love of classic rock and folk sounds. In this revealing interview, she discusses her new-found confidence, love of tarot, and a desire for gender inequality in the music biz.

Five Questions With… Lee Rose of Ace Of Wands

By Jason Schneider

Ace Of Wands is the new band fronted by Toronto singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lee Rose. Joined by guitarist Anna Mernieks and drummer Jody Brumell, the group blends its fondness for the supernatural with an equal love of classic rock and folk sounds to create cinematic soundscapes well beyond the scope of most trios.


The band recently released its debut independent EP entitled 10,000 Feet, along with the single “Float The Flood,” which Rose describes as an example of getting in touch with some of her truths that in her past work have often been buried in metaphor. With Ace Of Wands, her intent is to try to be as blunt as possible about her anger, self-loathing and shame.

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Rose was previously known as a member of Rival Boys, a band that also included her brother Graeme, which built a small but potent catalogue of releases for Maplemusic (now Cadence Music) until their amicable split in early 2015. At the time, it had been the only band Rose had been a part of, but with Ace Of Wands she has truly expanded her creative range and found her distinctive voice.

To hear more and to keep tabs on upcoming shows, go to aceofwandsband.com.

 

How did this project come together, and how does your approach differ now from what you were doing with Rival Boys?

After Rival Boys broke up, I had a very hard time trying to find my footing in music again. That band had been together for 10 years, and it represented so many firsts for me. When I started jamming with Anna about 2 years ago, I was beginning to feel like I was ready to get back into the world of music. Part of what held me back was being very self-conscious of my songwriting and guitar playing. I had spent so long singing songs my brother had written, and the guitar was a new instrument for me.

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Since I had been playing live for so long, I didn’t want to present any new music until it was absolutely ready to perform, but I realize now how much that was a symptom of my self-doubts and lack of confidence. In Rival Boys, I felt like I could rely heavily on my brother and out drummer Sam for making the band a complete unit. In Ace of Wands, I wanted to be more comfortable with my own identity as a musician, separate from anyone around me. But in the end, my collaborations with Anna and Jody have been so profound, I feel like it’s a band now, and not a solo project. 

What songs on the EP are you particularly proud of, and why?

I’m proud of all the songs, but making the video for the title track “10,000 Feet” was a major accomplishment. We spent so many weeks preparing for the shoot, making props, and scouting locations. I feel like we were able to capture something extraordinary with the video—the supernatural influences of the band, the theme of transformation and my love of the Canadian landscape. 

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The Tarot is a big influence on you. Can you talk a bit more about that?

I was given a tarot deck as a Christmas present a few years ago, and to be honest never really opened it. But I was feeling a lot of intense emotions in this last year and was looking for some guidance or wisdom or clarity. I found that I turned to the deck quite often when I was feeling down. It became a real comfort to me. The Ace of Wands card was the first card I saw in the deck, and its meanings of spontaneity, a burst of positive energy, inspiration and passion seemed like the perfect combination of things to inspire the creation of the new band. 

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What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?

The most significant change for me this year has been starting to see a psychotherapist. I was in an emotional crisis last year, and beginning that journey has been amazing. I found an incredible person who has helped guide me through the behaviour patterns that aren’t serving me any more. It’s really hard to challenge the thoughts and beliefs that have been a part of your life forever, so it’s helpful to have a thoughtful and empathetic ear helping you through.

If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?

It would be amazing to fix the gender inequality in the biz. I’ve spent my whole career thus far running into people who assume I don’t know what I’m doing because I am a woman. While there are many allies, powerful women and non-binary artists who are making strides, it would be great just to bypass the whole issue and get to where we need to be already with this stuff.

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Valence
'La nuit s’achève' album cover

Valence

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