Battle of the Bands gives New Souls a leg up

Culture Music

Autumn has once again settled into Victoria with chillier mornings, earlier sunsets, and the return of the student routine. UVic has jolted back to life with a slew of events, fundraisers, rallies and meetings . . . all in the first three weeks.

Tucked inside the Student Union Building, however, is an oasis from the Monday to Friday hustle and bustle, especially for a lover of live music. Felicita’s Campus Pub will soon be hosting the winners of 2015’s Battle of The Bands — who applied to the contest on a whim. Sitting down with the three longest standing members of The New Souls, I was told how much more the quintet took away from the friendly competition, besides the winning title.

Formed in early 2012, the New Souls was designed with the idea of bringing original R&B songs into Victoria’s music scene. “I’ve always felt like that is what music, in general, is lacking” said frontman and founder Greg Baan-Meiklejohn. Inspired by idols Stevie Wonder and Robert Glasper, the singer/songwriter has watched not only the line-up transform since day one, but the music itself. Shorty after the first draft of musicians was gathered, they were joined by keyboard player Dakota Hoeppner who added a “jazzy” feel to their sound. Only months later, guitarist Chris Neal joined the mix who played alongside Greg in Vic High’s R&B program and, more recently, local group The Midnights.

Carrying a sound that’s been influenced and imprinted with every shift in member and instrument, the group is eager to perform their new, refined songs from their upcoming album. Along with annual gigs at Felicita’s, Battle of The Band winners were awarded a day of recording at Electric City Sound. Taking advantage of this opportunity, The New Souls worked alongside Dave Lang of Current Swell, who co-produced the single “Have You Ever Loved Someone”. The track will soon be found on the group’s Bandcamp page, and can be heard when they take the stage at Felicita’s on Friday, Nov. 6.

“We went [into Battle of the Bands] thinking ‘whatever happens happens, let’s just do our best’ and, well, it worked out!” said Baan-Meiklejohn, laughing. Neal added how he was surprised to make it beyond round one. “There were some really awesome bands involved who we got a chance to play with.”

The contest, wrapping up in April of this year, launched The New Souls into their busiest season so far, having gained momentum through the entire process. The band met and connected with a list of local groups who they booked shows and shared stages with throughout the summer. “Any bands I like around town, I’ve recommended they participate in [Battle of the Bands]” said Baan-Meiklejohn. “It was a great experience.”

The New Souls will be kicking off Garden City Grooves Music Festival on Oct. 1 at the Copper Owl. The three-day string of live shows highlights local funk, soul, and R&B bands deemed “groovy” enough to ensure a dancing audience. Come out and support Felicita’s newest house band so you’re warmed up and ready when the funk hits campus!

Battle of The Bands starts earlier this school year; Felicitas is now accepting submissions to fill the November roster, where three bands will perform every Friday night. For more information, swing by the bar, grab a pint, and talk to one of their friendly staff.