By Michelle Hanley
VANCOUVER — The only place that seems fit for an interview with Jenny Ritter, the choir director of The Kingsgate Chorus, is Kingsgate Mall itself. Conveniently located in the heart of Mount Pleasant is the well-known, and somewhat seedy, East Van landmark recently made popular by a satirical Twitter account created by yours truly. Sitting at the busy Keno tables, Ritter chatted enthusiastically about her rock and roll cover group between sips of the questionable taro bubble tea from the mall food court.
After moving from Vancouver Island following the breakup of her band, the Gruff, Ritter looked for a new musical outlet. She created the chorus with the help of some friends, and within months she had more than 20 members. ”We rehearsed kitty corner to [Kingsgate Mall] in a studio space and we wanted something that would be kind of funny and neighbourhood centric, so we just decided we’d represent Kingsgate,” Ritter tells me. The Chorus became so popular that she created another group, the Mount Pleasant Regional Institute of Sound, boasting over 30 members.
The chorus draws its inspiration loosely from rock, covering everything from Bruce Springsteen and Talking Heads to Bjork. Recent project includes covers of other various artists. “We just started working on some Kate Bush, and now we’re doing some local bands,” Ritter explains. “We do a song by HUMANS, we do a song by Fish and the Bird. We’ve done things with Rae Spoon and with Wintermitts.” In addition to the Chorus’ own projects, Ritter tells me about a few upcoming local collaborations, including recording vocals on Hot Panda’s new album.
When asked about what’s next for the Kingsgate Chorus, Ritter tells me there are no albums planned for the future. “Dealing with the royalties and stuff like that is just a shit-show, and an expensive one too. So I’m thinking it might be better just to do it as we do it and hope that nobody sues us.” The chorus will be taking a short break over the summer, only adding a baritone vocalist, as Ritter records her own solo album.
Whether auditioning for stardom, or hearing the chorus cover your favourite Pixie’s song, check out Jenny’s Choir Summer Showcase at the Biltmore Cabaret on June 26th.BC, British Columbia, The Kingsgate Chorus