“…absolutely bubbling with joy.” CBC Manitoba
“…an incisive, relevant and entertaining rock band.” Alex Macpherson, Verb Magazine (Saskatoon)
“…a mature, inventive band.” Alex Varty, The Georgia Straight
“I have to say, that was way better than I was expecting. You guys are actually good. Like, you’re way better than the other bands that come to our school.” Student at ReachOut Psychosis show.
Proud Animal is the musical partnership of Vancouver artists Barbara Adler and Gavin Youngash. Together, they make music that embraces contrast, moving effortlessly between sweet-tempered anthems, brash rock-outs, and playfully sharp meditations on everything from astronomy to love. On tour, they are joined by a rotating cast of Vancouver-musicians, including Aaron Klassen and Catherine Hiltz (the rhythm section of Indie darlings Hot Panda), Juno-winning drummer Skye Brooks, and electric bassist James Meger (The Sumner Brothers, Bruno Hubert Trio).
It started out as a strange, hyperbolic fantasy. Gavin Youngash and Barbara Adler attended an excellent community square dance and decided that they should form a folk duo. They would start out by playing every square dance in Vancouver, and branch out from there to world domination. True story. Luckily, they abandoned those delusions early on, but a certain shameless exuberance still lives in the music. Proud Animal mates harmony singing to fuzzed out bass-lines; glass-toned keyboards with grungy drum crashes; over-driven guitars with lyrics that count. At the heart of it all is the band’s love for the simplicity of a well-crafted song. Yet, despite their real respect for the classic songwriting of giants like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon, the band is happy to defy any and all expectations of genre. They might still be dreaming, but to their ears, gutsy power rock and sensitive song craft are equally excellent tools for sharing a story.
Although Proud Animal is a young band, Youngash and Adler are hardly new to Canada’s music scene. A highly sought-after session player for jazz, blues and rock projects, Youngash is best known as the inventive guitarist and instrumental arranger for Fusion septet The Star Captains, which recently filmed a segment for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Adler honed her sharp ear for a lyric and her road-tuned stage presence over years of touring as a solo storyteller, and as the accordion player for CFMA-nominated folk-poetry group, The Fugitives. It’s not the first time that a music-school graduate (Youngash) has collaborated with a self-taught musician (Adler). What’s unique about this partnership is the extent to which the pair has immersed themselves in each others’ work. Sharing duties instrumentally, vocally, and as arrangers and writers on every song, Proud Animal is an instance of a songwriting partnership that showcases individual strengths and then moves past them.
In the year since they’ve formed, they’ve released a debut, self-titled EP, toured through BC and across Canada, playing festivals including the Brandon Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, The PuSh Performing Arts Festival and the Accordion Noir Festival.