The names Aidan Mayes and Mandy Cole are synonymous with the Penticton and the Okanagan.
The two singer/songwriter/music teachers are a Penticton institution, so it makes sense that their first full-length album be imbued with all things Okanagan Valley.
Siren Songs, the follow-up to their debut 2013 EP Hello Hercules, was brought to life in part by generous donors to an online funding campaign.
So why after playing together for years since meeting in a Soundstage Productions rendition of Hair did they decide to debut their first album?
“Because we’ve been playing so long now together I think it’s time we took things to the next level,” Cole said. “We really wanted to create an album that represented our sound.”
Siren Songs captures the live essence of the Aidan and Mandy experience — often heard around Penticton’s sunny markets or wineries.
The “Okanagan sound” they have captured on tape is organic, folk-pop paired well with wine and the beach and infused with a little community spirit. Chipping in on the album are Tavis Weir on guitar, mandolin and banjo, Adam Levant (Cole’s husband) on drums and the help of local producer Dave Mai.
“You don’t really hear a lot of music on the radio that can capture where we’re from. We’re really excited for people to hear the Okanagan and what it’s like to be from here,” Cole said.
The writing process evolved from both Cole and Mayes writing their own songs and performing as a duo to a more collaborative writing process.
“I think it really represents a lot of the sound of the Okanagan because when you are walking down the market people expect to hear Aidan and Mandy playing,” Cole laughed.
Siren Songs was produced by Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae-Jepsen, Hedley, Andrew Allen, Bif Naked) from Vancouver.
“We were really nervous going in because he is such a big deal and we didn’t know what to expect,” Cole said. “He was awesome. So friendly, so kind and he made us feel really comfortable.”
Stewart was quick to compliment the duo’s sound and song writing, calling them some of the best singers he’s had in the studio.
The “small world” connection had Stewart meeting Mayes in Vancouver.
“I didn’t know he was destined to be a Juno Award-winning producer,” Mayes said. “We used to all go to this open mic at the Anza Club in Vancouver and that’s where I met Carly (Rae Jepsen).”
Their social circles were entwined, unbeknownst to Mayes, who ended up being neighbours with famed Canadian pop star Rae Jepsen.
The two would hang out, write music and perform together.
“Because we were neighbours, isn’t that funny?” Mayes laughed. “Then she went on to do amazing things with her career.”
Stewart doesn’t just work with any artist either.
“I thought if you could come up with his fee he will work with you, but he actually will not. He will only hand pick the projects he wants to work on, so that was quite a compliment,” Mayes said.
The CD launches with a performance at the Shatford Centre on Oct. 22 with the full, five-piece band.
“It’s so exciting. It’s been a lot of work, happily, it’s been a lot of work,” Mayes said.
It was tough to keep it a secret, with the recording completed three months ago.
“It’s been almost painful to not share it, so I just can’t wait to have it being played. Here it is!” Mayes laughed.
The performance features special opening act, 15-year-old Jessica Singleton, one of Mayes’ music students. Singleton opened for the EP release three years ago as well.
“It’s kind of a tradition for her to open for us. But she is just an amazing singer and guitar player and really the next generation of talent coming out of Penticton,” Mayes said.
Tickets are $25 and will not be available at the door. Buy tickets in advance at the Aidan Mayes School of Music by
appointment, Monday through Friday or through Mandy and Aidan personally. Text Aidan to set up your purchase time at the school 250-488-8706.