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This band’s anything but lazy

Lazy Syrup Orchestra plays at The Yukon Arts Centre on June 26.

By Amy Kenny

Lazy Syrup Orchestra is a side project for its members, but you wouldn’t know it from how busy they are. When the Vancouver-based band comes to the Yukon Arts Centre on June 26, they don’t even have enough time in their summer schedule to stick around for more than a night.
That’s because, just a few days later, they’re playing the pre-party for Shambhala—a prominent electronic music festival in Salmo, B.C.
It’s only one in a slate of gigs for the band, which started back in 2015 at another B.C. festival called Bass Fest.
Duncan Smith, whose main gig is with the Funk Hunters, started Lazy Syrup as a way to do “a mellow, early-morning down-tempo set” that would set the tone for the day during Bass Fest.
Since then, he’s been joined by three regular members (Thomas Workshop, Cole Graham and Mark Woodyard), as well as a rotating cast of occasional guests. It’s not uncommon for the band to pull people up, unrehearsed, for random onstage collaborations. It just depends where they are and who they know in any given crowd. Other times, like at recent past shows, it’s been planned, as in the case of a few shows Lazy Syrup has played with Ashleigh Ball, formerly of the band Hey Ocean! 
As the lineup has evolved, so too has the music, says Smith over the phone from his home on Galiano Island.
“We’ve gone from the sunrise sets to the sundown sets and now even more into night slots,” he says of the band’s role at festivals.
What that means, beyond just different lighting considerations, is that the tunes have become higher-energy.

“It’s a big mix now. The project has found its legs in the last few years, dipping into a lot of different styles musically. Those styles include Afrobeat, drum and bass, house and more.”

It also means the band has moved away from the chill improv and non-traditional cover music they used to perform (“in the early days, it was more a DJ project with live instrumentation overtop,” says Smith) and into more original work.
“It’s a big mix now,” Smith says. “The project has found its legs in the last few years, dipping into a lot of different styles musically.”
Those styles include Afrobeat, drum and bass, house and more, he says. And they’re blended together in a way he says you don’t see very often.
Another thing you don’t see very often from the band is recorded music. Smith says they’ve written a few songs over the years, but that it hasn’t been part of their focus until lately. 
This year, they all got together at a studio to spend three weeks recording.
Their first song will be out June 14, but the band is spending the moments in between performances this summer working on the record’s finishing touches for a release in 2025.  
“We’re trying not to do as much touring so we can finish that music and release it,” he says.
In the meantime, Yukon audiences can expect a show without breaks. He says Lazy Syrup Orchestra conducts sort of an epic flow through genres, styles and lyrics.
“When this group is onstage, it’s unlike anything we do elsewhere,” he says. “The sense of collaboration and what everyone brings to the table in this group is unique.”
After 20 years as a full-time musician, Smith says it’s moments of direct connection with fans, and a love of making and performing music with this band that makes him feel like Lazy Syrup has made it.
“We’ve maybe not made IT, but we’re making something and that feels great,” he says.

Tickets for the June 26 concert are $35 and can be purchased HERE.

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