Classical training and free-spirited swinging rhythms collide in the dynamics of Kelowna’s Mountain Sound, who return to Revelstoke this Saturday for Summer Street Fest 2018.
Over the striking piano lines, grandiose drums and swaying cello, singer and composer Leila Neverland weaves narrative lyrics within powerful vocals to pull audiences in and keep them engaged throughout the group’s performances.
Neverland says the distinct sound of the group comes from the differing backgrounds, which include her own vocal jazz training, cellist Nils Loewen’s classical background and percussionist Dylan Ranney’s experimental drumming style.
“We take a whole bunch of different genres and we morph them together into pieces that will hopefully inspire people to think outside the box,” says Neveralnd of the groups sound. “All these kind of different ideas and training came together and whenever I wind up presenting a song, it comes out quite naturally to that sound.”
Mountain Sound came together in 2017 behind the leadership of Neverland, who comes from a storytelling background, having studied journalism and anthropology in the past.
These past experiences, Neverland says, have guided how she approaches songwriting with the group.
“I think very naturally my inclination to tell stories is just a part of me,” says Neverland. “Writing and writing and writing, and watching stories and hearing stories and allowing stories to be told and making space for that has been part of my past.”
This format of storytelling has become a conscious effort since the creation of Mountain Sound just over one year ago, as Neverland says she has become more mindful of the lyrics she pens as the group begins to reach more ears.
“Now that I’m working with two other people, and we’re succeeding in winding up in front of lots of diverse audience members and folks, I definitely think more consciously about the words that I’m putting into the stories,” says Neverland.
With grand performances that combine storytelling, free-swinging instrumentals and audience participation, Mountain Sound thrives on connection with those beyond the stage.
Neverland says the trio holds strength in their ability to connect with audiences, conveying universal themes with crowds as they perform.
“It’s not that we’re just there performing a few tunes for people to listen to, we’re presenting really powerful messages about being together, non-judgment, love is important, peace is important,” Neverland explains. “It’s not to say we get political, but there’s definitely strong messages in the words and strong messages in the stories. We create a space in which people can really feel those messages.”
Beyond original performances, the band also offers workshops which explore diverse topics, from music and dance based lessons, to visual art and social justice programs which explore topics such as Aboriginal reconciliation, which Neverland carries out in collaboration with First Nations groups.
Neverland says the effort to go beyond music has been based in a belief that artists often have more to offer than their base discipline.
“It’s kind of like we’re taking these different strengths that we all have or that we all believe in, and we offer it in an entire package,” Neverland explains. “I think a lot of artists have a lot more to give than just their music.”
This Saturday, Neverland says she hopes the message that sits at the base of Mountain Sound is able to resonate with Revelstokians as they bring their high-energy performing style to Summer Street Fest 2018.
“The music is loud and bumping. It will move peoples feet. It could inspire someone to just pick up an instrument, or it could inspire change in a person, heading more towards paths of love,” Neverland says, before adding with a laugh “They can expect to be blown-away by all kinds of different things.”
Mountain Sound will be performing at Grizzly Plaza this Saturday, July 14, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.