Good things happen over time but great things happen all at once.
As any Hollywood love story strives to portray, the greatest relationship sagas are those that occur inadvertently. Lonely souls wander aimlessly for years until one day a chance encounter alters their life forever.
Such a connotation inevitably applies not only to one’s personal life but also to that of musicians; bands working together in dedicated, passionate relationships that rely on one another’s creativity, support, understanding and zeal. Yet it still happens so rarely that it is a seemingly unattainable dream to most artists.
However, such a description actually recounts the innocent creation of Vancouver-based folk duo The Reckoners. Vocalist Christina Simpson and guitarist/vocalist Ricardo Khayatte met during a weekend retreat some two years ago, the most innocent of auspices has established a doublet set to be one of Canadian independent folk’s most revered endeavours.
“Ricardo and I met in a log cabin in the woods,” confirms Simpson with a chuckle. “We were both invited on a ski weekend by a mutual friend. As typically happens with our group, a guitar is passed around. I picked up the guitar first, Ricardo played a few songs next and then it didn’t take us long to start jamming together. We sang through all the classics until eventually we ran out of songs we knew the lyrics to or the sun was coming up…I can’t remember which.”
The finite order of circumstance matters little when it comes to The Reckoners’ saga which now looks ahead to the future, celebrated by the release of their debut EP …And The Sky Opened Up. Requiring little more than the lilting melodies, formidable guitar mastery and intertwining allure of their majestic voices, …And The Sky Opened Up reveals the true power and grace of this minimalist pair.
Furthermore, it converges two incredibly profound, unique musical histories: Berklee College Of Music attendee Khayatte’s technical foundation and legacy of penning for television hits including 90210 and Moonlight with actor Jessica Lowndes paired with Simpson’s inimitable voice and versed talent. Together, that experience, talent and vision has resulted in the distinct sound, approach and style of …And The Sky Opened Up.
“The Reckoners has a focus on two-part harmony that is quite different from the other bands in our genre,” asserts Khayatte, endeavouring to relate The Reckoners’ innate singularity. “We make an effort to create a dynamic vocal performance that propels these lyrically-driven songs.”
“From the moment we started singing together, we’ve tried to use as much two-part harmony throughout our songs as possible,” adds Simpson enthusiastically. “I think the songs become something new with these harmonies.”
Recorded by fellow Vancouverite Matthew Rogers at Baker Street Studios, …And The Sky Opened Up yields undeniably enthralling tunes from slinky “Eye For An Eye” to twang-fuelled “Heartbreaker” and subtle “Too Tough To Love.” Khayatte reveals that songs relate both truthful and fictitious stories that challenge his creative innovation as an artist. Still, while …And The Sky Opened Up focuses on the might of Simpson and Khayatte, The Reckoners welcome expansion to their craft in order to allow songs a flourishing, all-encompassing atmosphere. Fleshing-out their fold to a quintet at times, Khayatte notes how The Reckoners are about establishing a solid foundation and augmenting when the mood strikes.
“We switch between the two depending on what the overall feel is,” he says. “As a duo, we focus on vocal harmony and intimacy between our audience and us. The goal is to hear a pin drop. When we perform as a five-piece, we like to add electric or lap steel, harmonica, tambourine, bass and drums to the mix. The point of this is to experiment and really open the songs up. The goal is to take our live songs as far from how they sound on the recordings as we can while still exciting people.”
Moreover, while there is a more immediate goal to The Reckoners’ live aspect, when it comes to their overall drive—both with ..And The Sky Opened Up and the future—Simpson adds that this couplet are about expression via pushing boundaries, testing personal limits and creating some timeless, virulent and sultry folk in the process.
“It’s not all about the big goal,” she declares. “It’s more about the journey and allowing ourselves to follow along wherever it takes us. You never know what lies ahead and we are both so excited to keep opening the doors that appear in front of us. In the meantime we will do what we love: write songs, test out harmonies over bottles of red wine, write, record and perform.”