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Artist's new band, album take inspiration from northern roots

He may be far from his original home, but make no mistake – there’s still a piece of the north in musician Tristan Simon.
Avalanche – a band consisting of Flin Flonner Tristan Simon and Andi Mara – play a show at the Mole Creek Memorial Hall in Tasmania, Australia. The band recently released its first album Earth. Mother. She. - PHOTO BY JILLI PORTER-BAINES

He may be far from his original home, but make no mistake – there’s still a piece of the north in musician Tristan Simon.

The artist, originally from Flin Flon and now based in Tasmania, Australia, has released an album with his new band Avalanche entitled Earth. Mother. She. The album, which spans genres from rock, ambience, psychedelia and world music, was released online Nov. 1.

On the album, Simon plays guitar, bass and keyboard, wrote English lyrics and performs vocals. Mara performs drums, percussion, some vocals and wrote Indonesian lyrics.

The performers met in Tasmania, where Simon now lives with his wife Jilli Porter-Baines. Each musician took different routes to end up there – Simon from northern Manitoba and Mara from Java, Indonesia. Both were inspired by traditional music in their home regions.

“Andi incorporated beats and rhythms from the traditional celebrations and dancing he recalls from his childhood. Blending that with the sounds of a modern drum kit, you have the back bone to Avalanche,” Simon said.

“My personal inspirations for the record were taken from traditional Native American music and listening to a lot of The Tragically Hip. At the time of recording, I would sip my good morning cuppa and blast the Fully Completely record start to finish.”

The band started last November, when Simon and Porter-Baines had moved to the island off the Australian mainland. After finding a home in the town of Deloraine, the pair met Mara, who runs a clothing store in the town.

“One day after busking out the front of Woolworths, my wife said she had met a nice man who happens to be a drummer,” Simon said.

“Jilli dragged me up the main street to this quirky clothing shop that turns out Andi and his wife own. Andi and I got talking and shared our interest and passion for music. It turns out we had both been looking to form an original band and start something big. We had our first jam in the corridor of his shop. At the time I was playing an acoustic guitar through a little portable speaker. We knew instantly that this was what we've been looking for.”

Two weeks later, the four people moved in together and began to rehearse and write music.

Most of the album was recorded in a home studio in Golden Valley, not far from Deloraine.

Mara was a professional musician in his homeland, while Simon has been involved with bands since age nine, once even building a drum set out of cardboard boxes and scrap materials with friends when a full kit wasn’t available.

The creative process came easily for the two players.

“The songs came naturally. Being in a duo makes for a smooth writing process. I had a handful of my own songs that we converted to Avalanche pieces and we wrote the rest while busking and during rehearsals,” Simon said.

“My past musical experience is an important part of this project. I look back to the days of playing music with my friends, and having such genuine music teachers very fondly. I see now that this is what I'm meant to do, somedays I feel it's all I know how to do. Forming bands, writing songs, and chasing the dream has been a slow and steady manifestation.

The band’s next step is to tour around Tasmania in support of the album, possibly adding in shows on the mainland. A second Avalanche album is in the works, a companion piece to Earth. Mother. She.

“The album is a safe place to ask questions and feel the suppressed emotions deep within oneself,” he said.

“I struggle with being too hard on myself – I'm sure that is a shared condition. Earth. Mother. She. says no more to that and encourages a motherly approach to healing ourselves, therefore the planet we call home.”

Simon said he hopes to someday make appearances back home with his band and family.

“We have our second LP almost written and are planning to release it slowly, along with single releases and a music video. Talks of a North America trek have been discussed also. Who knows – you may see Avalanche playing events such as Blueberry Jam in a year or two,” he said.