By Deicha Carter
CALGARY – Winnipeg pop queen Begonia, the stage name of singer Alexa Dirks, takes us on a bright, ethereal, hard-hitting journey with her debut EP Lady in Mind. With a quirky blend of old soul and new-age production, she turns contemporary pop on its head. It feels like you’re listening to a one-woman rendition of The Commitments, transmitting from an abandoned prairie synth-shack.
The single “I Don’t Wanna Love You” is a moody doo-wop anthem drenched in slippery hammond organ, perfectly highlighting the chemistry of co-producers Matt Schallenberg (Royal Canoe) and Matt Peters (Royal Canoe, Close Talker). Spouting out search and destroy storylines with “If I could dream I had teeth like a tiger, I’d make you scream, drown ya in the mud. And on the news they’d call it friendly fire, but we would know what it was all made of”, you know this tigress is all too-capable to lunging right back. Dirks provides an adorable disclaimer saying the song is “basically the best I could do at writing a diss track.”
“Hot Dog Stand” and “Juniper” dive deeper than conventional pop songs, reflecting darkness, vulnerability, and “not really know what the hell you’re doing in life,” reveals Dirks. The debut recording spotlights her step forward as a solo artist – previously with Chic Gamine, Juno award winners.
“It was kind of like flipping the switch. [realizing] that I could write anything I wanted and when I step on stage I get to say exactly what I want to say,” says Dirks. However, there’s still an abundance of collaborative elements in her music. “I’m not really the type of songwriter that can throw a guitar in the back of my car and head across Canada on my own. It’s just not my style and I really respect people that can do that. I would just be too lonely, so there are people that I get along with that I can create and play music with. You just find a way to surround yourself with people that make you feel creative and passionate. It’s a different bag that I’m learning.”
Begonia performs Saturday, Feb. 17 during Block Heater at Studio Bell.Begonia, Block Heater, Studio Bell