Wild Strawberries

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In a small country hamlet on the outskirts of Toronto, two happily married high-school sweethearts live in an old church with their two little girls. She sings his beautifully written songs and he records them in their modest home studio space. They've been doing this for fifteen years. From D.I.Y. early 90's indie success, to major label gold and now back again to their indie roots, they've been laying low in their rural hideaway, doing what they do best. They are the Wild Strawberries (also known as Roberta Carter Harrison and Ken Harrison). And they're back with a gorgeous new album, Deformative Years.

"A lot of people have been emailing us over the past few years, asking us if we're still alive," says Ken Harrison, the writer/producer half of the pop-rock duo. "So we kind of feel like we owe something to the people who've stuck with us for so long."

Over the years, the Harrisons have built up a significant and loyal fan base, beginning with their self-released indie cassette, Carving Wood Spectacles and subsequently, their 1992 debut CD, Grace. 1993's EP, Life Sized Marilyn Monroe, was the perfect precursor to their follow-up breakthrough album, Bet You Think I'm Lonely. Both albums spawned title-track hit singles, the latter garnering them a Juno nomination for Best New Band.

After signing to Nettwerk in 1995, and seeing their album Heroine hit gold, the Wild Strawberries found themselves in a whirlwind of mainstream success, with more radio hits, an intense tour schedule (including several Lilith Fair dates) and an ever-growing fan base that couldn't get enough of the charming couple and their captivating brand of moody art-pop.

The pair went on to release 1998's Quiver and then Twist in 2000 - a critically-acclaimed album that began as a Nettwerk-supported project and ended up being released independently after creative differences at the label forced the Harrisons to go out on their own.

And so ended the Wild Strawberries' label dependency for good.

Evidently, returning to their quiet indie roots has treated the band extremely well, giving them a not-so-quiet, happy, busy and of course artistically successful four-and-a-half years. After being scooped up by well-known European trance DJ ATB, the pair recorded and released seven singles in Europe (hitting #7 in Germany the first week out on their very first attempt).

"We sold more records the first week out in Germany than we did our entire career in Canada," says Roberta, incredulously. "We've just been having a blast in Europe, it's been really gratifying for us." Adds Roberta, with a laugh: "It's that classic David Hasselhoff syndrome - we're big in Germany!"

It's no surprise the Canadian couple are so well-received by such a discerning European audience. Their astonishing talents are undeniable. From Ken's smooth sounds and strikingly intelligent lyrics (poetry known for its subtle brilliance), to Roberta's deep, breathtaking vocals, they've won the hearts of audiences and critics alike over the span of their meaningful musical career.

One listen to Deformative Years and it all comes rushing back. With no external producers (the album was completely self-written, recorded, produced and mixed in their home studio) and a no-frills, organic approach from beginning to end - this latest addition to the Wild Strawberries catalogue is arguably their best yet.

Filled with infectious and hypnotic melodies, sensuous vocals, hooky choruses and an overall whimsical, yet haunting pop sensibility, the new record adds a sophisticated groove to their familiar brand of atmospheric pop-rock.

"It's the first album in a long time that we haven't written for anybody but ourselves," says Roberta. "We did it because we simply love what we do."

It's an album with a lot of heart - written in a heartwrenching time.

"We have two very young kids in their formative years and it just seems like the world around them is falling apart," says Roberta. "There's a dark edge to the lyrics, but still quite a bit of hope."

Written directly post September 11th, Deformative Years is a creative glimpse of what it's like to be new parents during such tumultuous times.

"It was the first time I started to write about being a parent," says Ken. "It was during a time when everything bad was happening - children were getting abducted, buildings were blowing up - it was overwhelming." Adds Ken: "If there's one line from the album to hang the whole record off of, it'd be 'I've got nothing left to tell my children.'"

They don't have to tell their children anything - they've poured it all into Deformative Years. From a quaint home in an old church in their country hamlet, the Wild Strawberries have made a magnetic, romantic record of love songs for their girls, for each other and for anyone who believes in the beauty that still remains in this world.

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