Minor Name, Major Sound
Saskatoon pop band front man talks about becoming a musician and why music matters.
By Bigoa Machar
Scrolling though your Apple Music library can be a huge task with the hundreds, if not thousands, of different genres and subgenres of music that seem to pop up every day. Different sounds, influences and stories go into the makings of musical genres, but after listening to Saskatoon band Minor Matter, I wasn’t sure what genre they belong to.
Jeffery Popiel, founder and headman for Minor Matter, says the band doesn’t focus on one particular genre. With their debut self-titled album out now, Popeil says the band focuses on the emotional level of music.
“In a general sense, we could call ourselves orchestral folk and a multi-instrumentalist project,” says Popiel. “We bring 15 different instruments to the stage between the five of us, so there’s a lot of different genres and moods we fill.”
Popiel uses music as a way of expressing himself and his individuality with a wide array of sounds and different instruments. While his passion for music definitely cannot be questioned, performing his craft in front of live audiences wasn’t always his cup of tea.
“Initially I wasn’t super into performing. I was just recording and developing with whatever instruments I had. I was just enjoying it as a creative outlet until I ran into someone who was interested enough in my music to ask me to play my own show. I had three songs ready that were extremely difficult to play with a few different tools, including my Nintendo DS and a few different guitars, says Popiel. “I had another show at a flower shop where I played with a loop pedal and about 10 different instruments, so it was an arduous process to try and play shows and bring all the gear to do what I needed to do. Eventually, I found someone who I was interested in playing music with and it grew into a full band within half a year.”
Once Popiel got over the nerves and recruited his new squad, Minor Matter was born. Despite everything coming together, there were still a few roadblocks in the way of the band’s success.
“It started out as something that was very challenging. I had a very hard time memorizing my songs and it took me a few years to get used to it,” says Popiel. “It was also really hard to release music online initially because I was a bit shy to put things out into the world. I wasn’t sure how people would think, but after a few encouraging comments it made me much more comfortable.”
Members of the band include Stephanie Unverricht, Heather Lake, Skyler Cafferata and Jon Henderson, all of which Popiel met at different points in his life.
“After I added Jon to the band, he got his wife Heather to join because she plays the piano and the saxophone. Of course, I knew Stephanie from High School and she plays a bunch of different instruments,” says Popiel. We initially had her playing the violin, but we scrapped that and decided to have her focus on playing winds. We met our bass player Skyler at the very first stage show we played. There were some people who were there and were really big into our band, so we talked to them after our set and they liked what we were doing.”
Self-expression is a huge theme for the band, as all of the members use this opportunity to express themselves freely through their music. For Popiel, his inspiration comes from two very unique places.
“A lot of my influence is from playing through the public school in band class. I’ve been playing the tuba since grade six and that’s where I met Stephanie,” says Popiel. “Some of the parts were so simple with rests in many places, so my mind was often looking for ways to improve the music. I never had that opportunity back then because I was told to play what was written. I wasn’t happy with what certain composers had written.”
In addition to his school experience, Popiel also says his love for music and the type of sound he chooses has roots in asian culture, particularly the video games they play.
“There’s a whole community in Japan that create their own music for BeatMania simulator where they program and play the music, so there’s a giant community for this game. I spend a lot of time looking for music for the game, which began influencing my own sound.”
With Popiel and Minor Matter now making waves across western Canada, Popiel reflects on his growth as an artist and where music can take him and his band in the future.
“It was such a long time ago that I was so apprehensive. I’m really confident with what he have right now and I can’t really think of any other groups that I can relate our music too,” says Popiel. “It feels like a unique experience that serves as an expression of us as a band and myself as an individual.”
Minor Matter will be performing in Calgary on June 29 at Broken City and will be wrapping up their tour again in Calgary on June 9 at Wine-Ohs. Be sure to check out Minor Matter’s new album, now available digitally on iTunes and Bandcamp, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@minormatter) to keep up with their tour schedule and releases.