Canadian hitmakers Wild Strawberries get deep

Pop-rock radio duo thoughtfully evolve in their latest album, ‘Vesper 50’

Wild Strawberries are Roberta and Ken Harrison. Artsculture

Bright, sunny pop compositions provided Canadian pop-rock duo Wild Strawberries with their greatest success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their luminous pop songs, "Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe," "Heroine" and "I Don't Want to Think About It" kept fans hooked to their radios and brought Ken and Roberta Harrison to the upper-echelons of the airplay charts.

Notably, Ken and Roberta were high school sweethearts who married, formed a band in university, and found their songs taking off unexpectedly. Over the past 20-plus years, have followed Ken and Roberta through commercial success, touring with a burgeoning family, breaking up with music labels and moving out of the big city and into a quieter rural life in southern Ontario.

‘Vesper 50’ is a departure for Wild Strawberries, with moody pop hooks and wide-open sonic breaks.
‘Vesper 50’ is a departure for Wild Strawberries, with moody pop hooks and wide-open sonic breaks. Cover Art

Their latest evolution can be heard in the new album, Vesper 50, a contemplative record fitting for a duo who has chosen to eschew the spotlight in favour of real life. You know, building up the homestead, raising four kids and occasionally taking time to breathe the fresh, country air. Vesper 50 sounds like an album built within that lifestyle, with quieter pop moments (like "Five for Good Intentions") and long instrumental breaks ("Xerotic"), which all take a bit more digging to work their way into your ear than previous works.

It's worth the journey, however — and we wondered what journey Ken and Roberta were on while creating it. We caught up with both and they reveal details behind the making of Vesper 50.

Really happy to be in touch again, Ken and Roberta. Let's start off with the title: Vesper 50. Can you explain the inspiration and meaning behind it?
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Robert Ballantyne is Artsculture‘s Creative Director. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star and other media outlets. In addition to leading the Artsculture Collective, he built and designed Artsculture‘s website. He is available for freelance web development and graphic design at Artsculture Creative.

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