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A modern indie folk trio from Newfoundland, The Once has collected a trio of Canadian Folk Music Awards, numerous ECMA awards, was named Artist of the Year by the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council. They have earned not one, but two JUNO nominations for best Roots/Traditional album, the most recent in acknowledgement of Departures (2014). While originally known for its haunting interpretations of traditional music, The Once has at long last uncovered a sound that truly represents their inner artistry.
“I think we finally know what The Once sounds like,” says Phil Churchill, “and with that knowledge comes a freedom we would not let ourselves have before.” The Once’s newest EP, We Win Some We Lose, perfectly encapsulates the trio’s newfound artistic freedom and songwriting voice.
With their folk roots still firmly in hand, Phil, Geri, and Andrew have embraced a distinctly modern sound by the inclusion of drums and percussion, electric guitars, and sweeping keyboards. CBC’s Jeff Rielly says We Win Some We Lose “leaves [him] in a perpetual state of wistful, anthemic longing. An innocence that nevertheless leaves [him] with the sense that we are flirting with tragedy.” Lyrically, The Once’s newest collection of songs encompasses an arresting sense of loss, emphasized musically by Geraldine’s bewitching delivery of beautifully haunting melodies. The first single, “We Are Love,” offers a ray of hope amidst an otherwise provocative and emotive musical anthology.
The group formed out of pressure and necessity when working at a summer theatre festival in the tiny exfishing village of Trinity, Newfoundland nearly 10 years ago. In the Newfoundland vernacular 'the once' means 'imminently, but not necessarily so.' Phil, Geri, and Andrew wanted something that would embody who they are, where they come from, and would illicit a smirk and a nod amongst Newfoundlanders back home, but would forever require an explanation elsewhere.
The Once’s first album actually came about due to a stroke of serendipity, when a stranger at a show was so impressed that he offered them $5000 to record an album. Their award-winning self-titled debut was eventually released by the Canadian label Borealis Records, as was its follow-up Row Upon Row Of The People They Know, for which they received their first JUNO nomination.
In 2013 another chance encounter, this time at a Glasgow festival, lead to a collaboration and friendship with Mike Rosenberg, a.k.a. Passenger. Hot on the heels of his worldwide #1 hit, "Let Her Go", Rosenberg invited The Once to sing on both of his recent albums – including his current #1 album, Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea – and together they have performed all over the world. In 2014 the band released the album Departures worldwide to great critical acclaim, leading to multiple awards, including another coveted JUNO nomination.
With the release of the EP, We Win Some We Lose, The Once enters a new era, with new sounds, new styles and new ideas. The whirlwind of the past few years has honed their sound and creativity, and having found their voice, the band is looking firmly ahead.