Familiar Wild talks Dark Dreams and Rifflandia

Culture Events Music

Veteran of the indie music scene, Melissa Bandura is back, this time with a new sound and a new album. Familiar Wild, a band made up of Bandura, Melissa Hammer, Kenton Wiens, Jesse Waldman and T. Nile, will release their new album, Dark Dreams, on Sept. 30.

Born in Winnipeg and moving to Vancouver at the age of nine, Bandura has always been influenced by the indie folk genre of music, quoting artists like Arcade Fire as her musical influences because of their “ability to dress up songs with a cinematic orchestra sense,” she says. The harmonies and arrangements of songs, as well as how the instruments play off each other, are important components to Bandura’s song-writing style, which consists of composing the melody before lyrics.

The identity shift, from using Bandura’s own name to Familiar Wild, illustrates the evolution of her music—going from a lighter sound in her previous album, Dark Dreams: Day to a much darker sound, with a heavy emphasis on string instruments. Bandura found the original name wasn’t fitting the sound of her music at the time, and so the name Familiar Wild integrated the simplicity of folk music with hauntingly orchestral strings and melodic lyrics, pushing the idea of having a sound that contains a familiarity that grounds the listener but also presents a sort of unharnessed wildness of the chords that she defines as an “odd but familiar sound.”

Bandura was involved in a significant car accident a few years ago that caused her to reconsider everything she was doing. “The music written after the accident changed drastically from my first album, and the songs now were written with more of an unsettled darkness with innocent perspective,” she says.

Through this transitional period, Bandura fully realized what she wanted to define her “sound” as; she eventually steered towards a pleasant harmony of orchestral and alternative folk music. The new name reflected the recognition of her evolved music and stage presence, while also helping to define the solid direction of her music. Local artist Kristian Adam, whose art style is influenced by subtleties of beauty and decay, specially designed the album artwork for Dark Dreams by incorporating aspects similar to the innocent yet dark and bittersweet tone of music on the album.

“Oregon,” the latest single from Familiar Wild, and “Single Out” are two tracks that Bandura says best illustrate the typical rhythm and sound of a Familiar Wild song. When asked about her upcoming performance in Victoria at Rifflandia, she says that she’s “very excited to perform! Victoria is a beautiful city with an active music culture and I look forward to the crowd’s response to the new sound.”

Bandura gives a bit of advice for upcoming musicians and students alike: “Live your life like you love music. Don’t live for someone else. If you’re stuck in something that doesn’t make you happy, run and do something else that inspires you. Stay motivated truthfully, and always try to find inspiration around you in your daily life.”


Familiar Wild at Rifflandia
Thursday, Sept. 12 @ 8:30 p.m.
Studio CMCT (658 Discovery St)
$40 (Single Night) – $295 (VIP Pass)