Sarah Slean and Hawksley Workman are embarking on a tour across Ontario featuring their EP these two. Slean and Workman are a dynamic duo, as both musicians and close friends, resulting in a beautifully cohesive sound.
These two is a manifestation of mutual admiration and musical talent.
“We’ve known each other for about 20 years now, we have always been mutual admirers of each other’s work and good friends. Hawksley suggested we do a recording of some covers. [In the beginning] we didn’t really know what we were doing, as artistic minds we collide and see what happens,” said Slean. “We talk about anything from metaphysics to the point of an artist in today’s society, we just really hash it out. By day three I said ‘maybe we should write a song’.”
This collaborative process resulted in a five-song album, featuring covers of Canadian favourites like The Tragically Hip’s “Flamenco”. In their original song, “Wound You”, Slean and Workman navigate existential thoughts and tackle hard-hitting realities of life.
“We filled the recording room with a lot of big ideas; poking at the more nuanced bits of a well-examined life,” said Workman. “The person who comes to the world with a big, open heart, the one that is ready to take an arrow is also the one who has the capacity to see the brighter lights, but also suffer the greater pains.”
As polished as their sound is, Workman acknowledges that their upcoming tour is a learning experience for both artists.
“This is an experiment for us too. Sarah and I can’t get into the same room with one another without wanting to have deep conversations,” said Hawksley. “On stage there will be some chit-chat, it wouldn’t be mischaracterizing our relationship that we squabble like siblings, there is a bit of that too.”
Audiences can look forward to seeing a glimpse into this dynamic friendship as storytelling will be integrated throughout their performances.
Workman explained how their unity contributes to their unique narrative as artists who go against the grain of the mainstream music industry. Workman cited the duos authentic roots in the Canadian music scene beginning in the 90s as the foundation for their unbreakable friendship and advocacy for community among artists.
“The early day in Toronto in the late 90s, was a time when we all sought to be very different, but there was a great deal of support [among songwriters and musicians],” said Workman.
A Musical Evening with Sarah Slean and Hawksley Workman is more than just a performance, but a statement towards the importance of authenticity among musicians.
“The two of us being on stage is a mission statement about the fact that musicians still require community, and we are still there in a way to support one another even though the industry pushes us further and further towards creating this fake notion that we are in competition with one another,” said Workman.
Workman and Slean offer a critique of the current musical scene by asserting their friendship and solidarity with one another.
“I think by us showing that on stage we are a community it is the antithesis of what the industry is naturally trying to push us towards being competitive with each other. We still believe in the original motivation for all of this, we still believe in wanting to push our own limits as artists and even as friends,” said Workman.
“Turning artists into statistics is a divide and conquer tactic that has worked. In the 90s this [numerical quantification of music] did not exist, but it did not exist in the psyche of these songwriters. Everyone went to each others shows, everybody was inspired by each other, it was a really organic [process],” said Slean. “The people in the same artistic lineage would naturally find each other, work with each other, and influence each other. To me, that is fertile ground for very important and significant art and we are losing that today.”
Workman and Slean’s performance will be an exciting mix of friendship, community and, of course, musical talent. The duo’s revival of 90s inspired musical authenticity will be in St. Catharines at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at https://firstontariopac.ca.