The unofficial house band of the Northwest Territories is set to release a country album six years in the making.
Singer Karen Novak told Cabin Radio the album, crafted during a period in which she suffered loss and heartache, is designed to give back to northern fans.
Welders Daughter recently celebrated 16 years in the North and 23 years playing together. "It's pretty amazing nowadays to have a band that long-term," Novak told Cabin Country's Samantha Stuart. "And that's our full-time job."
Welders Daughter features Novak, guitarist Attila "Novi" Novak, bassist Tommy B, and G!Force on drums.
While working on their album, Novak's father passed away. At that point, she said, sad songs began pouring out – but were shelved for another day to focus on the album as the band had imagined it, one of "hope and joy and dancing."
"My job is really important: to get people dancing and forget about whatever troubles they've got," Novak said. "We've got lots of issues in the North. People come to hear music to forget them. And that's what I want to do."
The fact that Welders Daughter even exists is in part due to her father, a big fan of country classics, who would tell her if she "would only play some country music, you'd be a star one day."
"This album was released for my dad. I am a welder's daughter," said Novak. "So this band and this album was all about my dad and his love of country music."
Novak, originally from Mission, BC, said she and the band found a home in Yellowknife after weeks-long stints in the North. She credits a bylaw officer with their permanent move north.
"Our vehicle was parked on the street for longer than 90 days and he says, 'You have to change over your insurance to the Northwest Territories if you're here longer than 90 days.'
"And so we thought, OK, I guess we're staying," she recalled.
Sixteen years later, the band is planning a "give back" tour of smaller NWT and Nunavut communities. The tour, which Novak hopes will begin in 2020, is intended to include concerts alongside youth workshops in communities.
Novak is also re-releasing an album from another artistic iteration of the band, the Karen Single Band. A theatrical rendition of that album, Wide Open, will appear at Yellowknife's Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on May 23 next year.
Through her five years of involvement with Music NWT and presence on the board of the Western Canadian Music Alliance, Novak is also working to get the Breakout West music awards show to Yellowknife. Breakout West is being hosted in Whitehorse this year.
"We're going to hopefully put in a bid and try to make that a successful endeavour," said Novak, "to have all of the industry people, all the western Canadian artists to come up to Yellowknife."
She believes bringing the awards and accompanying festival to Yellowknife can help to alleviate the difficulties northern artists have with the costs of travel, and allow them to perform where they are comfortable.
Welders Daughter is nominated for small business of the year, as well as customer service and community impact awards, in the recently revealed Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce shortlists. The winners are to be announced at an awards gala on October 25.