Yellowknifer Laurie Sarkadi’s new EP, Middle World – an accompaniment to the musician and author’s 2018 memoir, Voice in the Wild – is now available for streaming and purchase.
The eight-song album follows the book, which documented Sarkadi’s experiences in Africa, Yellowknife, and living off the grid in the boreal forest.
It’s an eclectic blend of genres, ranging from old-timey country to “acid-folk,” all the way over to funk and bleeding into rock n’ roll. On its cover is a photo of Sarkadi’s mom bungee-jumping, her arms stretched out and a smile on her face as she dangles in mid-air.
“I had written the music as I was writing the book,” Sarkadi said, remembering how she would bring her guitar to readings and perform the accompanying songs for the audience.
When people asked where they could find her music, Sarkadi decided it was time to start recording.
“It started off with a couple of songs, and that was very positive and exciting,” she said. “So, I decided to do some more.”
Middle World was recorded in Toronto with a session band and produced by Marc Ganetakos, who has worked with the likes of Nelly Furtado and Ashley MacIsaac.
For Sarkadi, who lives off-grid about a half-hour outside Yellowknife, it was “super exciting” to be in the studio with “very accomplished musicians.”
“I’m alone a lot, and it was it was good to be working with other people and getting input and some back-and-forth about the music and ways to improve it,” she said.
The album draws heavily on themes in the book, such as nature and environmental stewardship – yet it’s also a call to action for listeners.
Sarkadi has used anecdotes from her memoir to craft protest songs. The song Diamonds compares how diamond industries displace Indigenous people from their traditional lands in both Botswana and the NWT.
Another, titled Pushing Send, examines the role social media and the internet play in modern protest and change-making.
The songs are meant to encourage people to stand up and fight for what is right, Sarkadi said.
“It’s sort-of about motivating people to look after themselves and be the best person they can be, so that they can actually do the important work that needs doing,” she said.
“I hope people will check out the songs and hopefully find something that speaks to them, that makes them want to dance or makes them feel motivated to jump into a protest.”
Middle World is available now on streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.