Virgo Rising like to describe themselves as “three sad girls making songs in Winnipeg,” but those familiar with the band know that this undersells the scope and depth of their vision. By attending a show or hearing their recordings, a listener can discern what the members themselves wouldn’t likely admit; their music is daring, their instincts are sharp, and they have a masterful grasp on exactly what it is they’re trying to create. Emily Sinclair and sisters Lauren and Jenna Wittmann carefully construct bedroom pop unconstrained by convention; while weaving together themes of growing up, femininity, self-love, self-contempt, and authenticity, they make sure that each song lives in its own sonic space, unafraid to end up in unexpected places doing so.
“Sixteenth Sapphire represents growth, mistakes, and desires,” says Sinclair, the band’s lead singer. “I wear a sapphire ring that my mother gave to me when I was 16. It represents how difficult it is to be a growing young woman. We ended up basing our entire EP on my ring, so in a way, this EP represents endurance.”
Though new to releasing music, Virgo Rising have built a steady list of accomplishments since their formation in 2018. In 2019, they played an opening set for local powerhouse Begonia and performed a cover on stage alongside her. Their very first headlining set was named as one of the best shows in Winnipeg that year by readers of The Uniter, an honour repeated again in 2020. They were mentored by John K. Samson and Christine Fellows as participants in Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Young Performers Program. And in 2020, they became the newest band to sign to House of Wonders Records, the label run by Adam Fuhr of Yes We Mystic.
“I have never done less in my life,” says Fuhr of his time producing the band’s debut EP. “Emily, Lauren and Jenna are very in control of their craft, and all the complexity, richness, and clarity of these songs comes directly from their minds, so there really wasn’t much left for me to do. These folks have boundless talent, and everyone should be watching out for them.”
Sixteenth Sapphire showcases the band’s broad range — from the off-kilter Sleep In Yr Jeans to the sprawling Back of a Head, Body of a Couch and the delicate Juice (which was recorded in an afternoon to 1/4” tape and features vocals recorded in a single take), the band doesn’t stay too long in any one place. The EP features guest appearances by Sam Sarty (Living Hour, Veneer) on bass guitar and Isaac Tate (Urban Vacation) on drums. It was produced and mixed by Fuhr (Yes We Mystic, Amos the Kid, JayWood) at his House of Wonders studio and mastered by Ryan Morey at Gray Market (Arcade Fire, Besnard Lakes). It arrives March 12, 2021 on streaming services and cassette tape.
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Virgo Rising is thankful for the suport of Manitoba Film and Music.