Next up in the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre’s Fall series is the gifted duo Tandem Yam on Nov. 19.
The performance starts at 7 p.m. with tickets available at www.lacombepac.com or the Mary C. Moore Public Library.
Kayla Williams and Melody Stang, both originally from Ponoka, formed the duo a few years ago, but their connection extends back much further.
“We’ve known each other since grade school, so that’s really the whole starting point of Tandem Yam. We’ve also done a lot of ‘parallel-wise’ things especially when it comes to music,” explained Stang.
Both went on to study music at Red Deer College
“We’ve worked together but also apart, so Melody has her own stuff and I have my own material as well. We also have a comedy project,” Williams added. “For Tandem Yam, we just figured let’s do our favourite songs which happen to be a lot of Fleetwood Mac covers, plus Melody’s originals and my own originals.”
Melody agreed, adding that the collaboration is a blast – not to mention a really creatively-rich season, too. “Especially with your best friend – being able to go places. It’s all of our favourite songs that we like to collaborate on. Kayla and I also have an alchemy onstage that has developed after decades of playing together.”
Melody noted that fans often assume the two are sisters.
“We are very similar in our sense of humour, and our banter onstage is quite witty and quick – we are just very much on the same page,” she said. “Our voices also blend really well together, so it does almost sound like we are related.”
Looking back, music has long been a passion for Stang.
“Music was always in the family, and I picked up a lot from my mom and dad. I’ve pursued a lot of different avenues with it, whether through piano growing up, or with guitar when I was a little bit older.”
Both women laugh recalling how their high school guidance counsellor told them that music really wasn’t a viable career option. “Luckily, both of our families have been quite supportive of our artistic direction and choices,” said Williams, adding while her family isn’t musical per se, they very much appreciate music.
And even though it’s a path both women cherish, it isn’t all smooth sailing. But they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s hard, and it can also be a million jobs in one,” said Williams. “From the outside, it looks like a lot of fun – and it is! But in the back end, there is a lot. But it’s the fun stuff that keeps you going, being onstage is the highest high for me that I can’t get anywhere else.
“Performing is the love of my life. Anytime you have an awful time, or there are things behind the scenes that are going wrong, when you get up on that stage and you get that feeling – and the love from the crowd – it just can’t be replaced,” she said.
“Plus the creative process is so mysterious and magical – it’s fascinating. You never know where it’s coming from. I also love recording. It’s so fun to see these things come together – the creative process itself is also what keeps you coming back.”
“I think that Kayla and I both just really enjoy the act of performance as its own art form. To be able to read a crowd and adjust to each of those different dynamics – being able to play ‘with’ people as well as ‘for’ them is a really interesting craft.”
As mentioned, both women have also honed their songwriting skills over the years as well.
Back in 2019, Williams was not only asked to perform at the closing ceremonies for the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer – she was asked to pen a song inspired by the athletes and the overall sense of community sparked by the event itself.
She wrote Something Right, which was performed in front of over 8,000 people at the closing ceremonies, and to a television audience on TSN.
“You have to follow those waves, and catch those waves of inspiration as they come,” she said. “It’s magical and mysterious and it just keeps you coming back because you kind of know – but you also never really know how it all works.”