by Laura Stanley
As a part-time baker and part-time musician, Winnipeg’s Rheanna Melnick also known by her band name Feed The Birds, splits her time between her highly regarded Winnipeg bakery, Jonnies Sticky Buns and her other love, music. Travelling by car from Winnipeg on her way to Toronto with her bandmates Steve Pennicook and Neil Goebel for NXNE, Melnick and we spoke all things sticky buns, NXNE, and folk music.
Feed The Birds’ album Catcher, released last year, is filled with a DIY folk-pop sound as Melnick explores nature and the ups and downs of relationships in her lyrics. While Catcher captures the mostly solitary musical effort from Melnick, she says that with the addition of Pennicook and Goebel, Feed The Birds is taking on a whole new direction from where it started.
“I had decided that I didn’t want a band and I was going to do everything by myself. After I finished the recording and it came out, I ended up playing with two really good friends [Penniccok and Goebel] and we started writing songs together,” Melnick says about the evolution of the project.
“Musically we come in more complex and I’m relinquishing a bit of my control over things.”
Although Feed The Birds does have a folk base, Melnick does not limit herself to listening to just one genre to get inspired but rather a wide variety of music. “I really love acoustic music so that’s usually what I gravitate towards when I want to listen to music. I love all kinds of music though,” Melnick says.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a punk band,” she continues. “I feel like my songwriting leans in that direction even though I don’t have a punk voice. That’s something that I’ll have to work on. [Laughs] I’ll have to smoke a lot of cigarettes….maybe.”
The band is currently working on new songs and hoping to start recording in the Fall to capture that more mature sound but as mentioned before, Melnick has her hands full already with a very tasty day job. With not your typical sticky bun recipes on the menu, Caramel and Rosemary anyone?, Jonnies Sticky Buns has caught the eye of the public and fellow Winnipeg musician, John K. Samson.
“We’ve been open for a year and a half now and the first year was really crazy because well, we were just opening,” she mentions about the hectic beginning of the bakery that she helps run with business partner, Jonathan McPhail.
“My band got together once a week to practice and we played as many shows as we could. The beginning was silly – it was such a juggling act and no sleep. We were starting at four in the morning and it was the worst when you had a show the night before. A couple of times I didn’t even go to sleep.”
While baking and playing music may seem like two very different creative outlets at face-value, Melnick finds that one passion can fuel the other.
“I play around with words a lot in my head and the baking time is very quiet because nobody is there and you’re just alone with your thoughts,” she explains.
“The rhythm of baking, there’s a pace about it that you have to have. I think that that helps. I definitely wrote one song that I can remember for sure at the bakery.”
Playing tonight at The Central, Melnick has been looking forward to playing at NXNE for a while. “I’ve wanted to play the festival for a lot of years and I’ve applied a couple of times before but I’m glad that I didn’t get accepted until now because I think now, the music has grown to a place and I’ve grown to a place and I think it’s all in step and all in time and it’s going to be really fun.”
Praising the festival, Melnick says, “A festival like NXNE has such prestige attached to it that the local papers and the local media in Winnipeg get more excited about music, about the scene.”
“I think that we’re going to go back inspired and pumped up about music and meet some really great bands and hopefully, when they come through town, we can hook up shows and get more people out to them.”