WITCHPOLICE RADIO : Welcome to Witchpolice Radio. One of the things that happens every year at Winnipeg, or usually when there's not a pandemic, is the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. And as a music show, I feel like I've ignored that festival for a while just because it seems like theater and music don't really have a connection, but they've obviously do. And I have even seen music related shows at the Fringe over the years. And so the guest on this episode is someone who is performing at the Fringe this year and is also a musician and a radio host. And I think that the best way to kind of kick this off is if you just want to introduce yourself and give a bit of background about what it is that you do.
TANNIS KELM: Yeah I'm Tannis Kelm and I perform as Hors. and I DJ as Lyar. I have a radio show on CKUW 95.9 FM. I wrote a play. I wrote the songs a long time ago, and it's just weird things kept on happening that I just couldn't ignore anymore. So I took the songs, some of the songs that I wrote about that were involved with those weird happenings, and fit them in a play.
TK: So, yeah, I'm more comfortable as a singer than an actress, but the songs are to ground me.
WR: Have you written a play before? This seems like a difficult thing to get into if you're going from music and music alone to then suddenly jumping into theater. Like you said, the songs kind of provide the basis for that. But I imagine it's a totally different set of tools you have to use to create something for theater versus something for just performing songs on stage.
TK: Yeah, I had wonderful drama teacher in high school, and we did a production that, of course, was already written for us. And the last year, we wrote our own. So we sort of had that basis of how structure goes, and we sort of broke that apart. And we wrote it for PTE, just because we've been to their festival before. And I wrote a song for that. So that sort of gave me a little bit of confidence and that was specifically for that play.
TK: I think music and theater and well, musical theater… it's not a musical, it's just songs inside. I'd say it's a soundtrack more than a musical. But yeah, I think music is vital to everything.
WR: Yeah, I agree with that for sure. Had you already been writing these songs with this kind of overarching themes before you even thought of getting involved in the fringe? Or was this something that was specifically written for this?
TK: Yeah, they were all written before and I had no idea I was going to do this. I sort of wanted to do a play that explains some of my songs. , but like I said, , I felt I had to do this because I probably like vaporize or get struck by lightning if I didn't because of just the things that occur around the entire play. It's sort of an oddball humour, sort of weird coincidence kind of thing and everything fell into place. So it helped that there were songs because I don't know if I could do a whole hour of just a one woman show without that aspect to it.
WR: So the play has an interesting name and I think maybe that's a good way to get into kind of what it is about. What are these coincidences? What is some of this topical subject matter you're going to be addressing in the play?
TK: Yeah, it's called A List of People I've Killed (A Love Story).
WR: Good name.
TK: Yeah, I get into some dramedy stuff. So basically, this could or could not have happened any other way. I don't know. I don't know.
TK: It's hard to explain without like actually, I've tried to explain just this to people and the best way to do it is by seeing the play. People speak with me, , from beyond the grave. I have a couple of examples of that. Weird things happen after certain things in my life happen. And also I've written the songs before and then something happens. So it all sort of ties together and Stephen Hawking is at the end.
WR: As one of the people from beyond the grave.
TK: Yeah, I've killed Alan Rickman, Peter Fonda, Gord Downie, Lemmy Kilmister. It's the wide range of music and actors and people that you really love.
TK: And I just felt that I could do that comically but also wrap it all up in a serious manner as well. Yeah, I don't know, it’s weird to talk about.
WR: Well it sounds like something that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.
TK: Yeah, there's a whole bunch going on that is associated with the play and I want to get into that. I'm going to warn people that there are triggers and that you might not come out of it the same way as you went light and make you think about it anyways.
WR: And this is happening at the Planetarium, right?
TK: Yes, the Planetarium Auditorium. I have like eight dates and yeah, it's going to be a good time.
WR: It's a cool venue. I know that there's so many different venues at the Fringe every year, but did you choose the Planetarium, or do they just add it to you?
TK: No, it took years to actually get this going because it was ready and then I was starting to do everything and then the pandemic hit and then all the venues shut down. Yeah, it's a little bit of a long wait and it's changed multiple times. I wrote and rewrote my main monologue, well, for two years now.
TK: So, yeah, it's very different from when it started, but I guess it gave me time. The Planetarium Auditorium is large and they assure me that my voice will be projected properly. So that was what I was really worried about. Hopefully people come to show as well.
WR: That's another thing you worry about with a big venue like that too, right. You want to make sure you get a decent sized audience.
TK: Yeah, hopefully. Yeah. It's weird to flyer and handbill and all of those things. I've definitely had posters up before to announce shows, but this is a whole different animal. Social media and everything.
WR: And you're competing with every other Fringe show too, right? There's so many Fringe shows every year. And I mean, you go downtown to the Exchange and there's posters on literally every surface you can find. So how do you kind of navigate that and make your show stand out among just the barrage of Fringe content? Do you have a way to kind of get yours heard? Is the music part of it, maybe, the key for some people that might want to check out the songs in addition to the theater aspect?
TK: Well, I'm hoping that the songs help with other aspects because I'm a singer first, songwriter, and so this is sort of a way to introduce that and the way to introduce the play. I have phenomenal poster. I have a radio show and before the pandemic, I'd have guests on every week. So I had a photographer, Robert Wilson, on. As soon as I found out that I got in on a lottery, I told him about it and we got it in before the pandemic. So that was awesome. we got it going.
WR: Yeah, I , love the picture.
TK: I feel like a poster can really be weird enough that people might… well, no, you'll definitely be drawn to it.
WR: For people who aren't familiar with the music side of what you do, how would you sort of describe yourself as a songwriter? As a musician?
TK: I am, like a singer songwriter, I guess it's along the folk line. Maybe a little indie, maybe a little punk. I don't know, I'm more lyrically driven because I can't play my instrument very well. Like, guitar is good, but I'd rather just sing in a band instead of having to play. I'd write the songs… but recently I've had songs interpreted by my friend Snarky Remarkable. And he's gotten a whole bunch of people that he knows to layer music over it and yes, it's really great to hear. He can't even hear my guitar.
TK: Well, I told him to simplify it so it's just me and the guitar. Sort of what you'd hear if you went to the play, mistakes and all, because I've heard that just a different day, new mistakes. So I try to keep that in my mind.
TK: It's fun. I wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun.
WR: Of course. Yeah. On the EP, how do the songs work without having the theatrical part of it? Do they work as standalone pieces of music? I assume they're just magnified and helped and strengthened by having the full Fringe performance. But as just a listener to the music, do the songs work on their own or are they very clearly part of a larger piece or how does that work for audio in an audio sense?
TK: I've been playing some of them since like 2014. I think my earliest one was… I wrote them a long time ago and as things started to happen with coincidences and yeah, just as life continued with a play and it was just another element to make it a little bit more of my own and yeah, be able to present it in the way that I feel that it breaks up the piece nicely. I have visual piece and stuff that do that as well. It's just not me on a stage doing a monologue, which would be intense, for sure.
WR: So are these songs that have been and will be in your performance sets going forward? It's not necessarily just something that's strictly related to the Fringe play?
TK: Oh, no. Yeah, I play them all the time. Yeah. I wrote this one song called… I won't say the whole title because it's a Charles Bukowski poem. That's one of my favorite ones to do right now, for sure. And all of the elements of that to the point where Peter Fonda passed away once it was written. Okay. Yeah, he's one of the people that I mentioned in the play. Okay, see, it's too weird to talk about. You just have to go see the play.
WR: I like that there's an air of mystery around it. Right. It seems like you're having trouble defining, which is kind of cool. There's a concept, and it's got, obviously, visual cues and songs and monologues. But the fact that you're having trouble sort of describing it almost makes it sound more interesting, I think, because the concept is cool. Would all be people from beyond the grave. And then you got these songs I kind of liked. Whether it's intentional or not. The air of mystery that surrounds your description of it.
TK: Yeah. It's the only way I could explain it.
WR: Are you regularly a Fringe goer? Is the Fringe Festival a big part of what you do in the summers in Winnipeg?
TK: Well, my first Fringe play that I ever saw was Matt Tapscott doing Hedwig and The Angry Inch. I loved it so much and I was hooked from then. I started going by myself and getting the Frequent Fringer pass. And if you're into plays, yeah, it'll save you a bit of money and everything's being done online as well, so there's not all of that line. Like, you have to be there at a certain time or sold out, or you can only buy I think it was 50% of tickets or something like that online. So I feel like it's a little bit more relaxed. Yeah. I have a QR code so that people can buy tickets. That's cool. I like that. I like waiting in line. I definitely have that feeling. Yeah. Times are a little different now, and if people are safer by not doing that, that's fine, too.
WR: That almost is part of the Fringe experience, though. When you hear of a show that's really good, you know you're going to have to wait in line. And people are always getting there early and there's kind of adds to the buzz, but yeah, obviously during a pandemic, it makes sense to have a safer way to do it.
TK: Yeah, it's a good option for sure. Yeah. I think I'll still have to open it. Yeah. But that's good. We handled things, for sure.
WR: Is the EP coming out after the run of shows… or what's the plan for the release of that?
TK: I have set the release date for July 11 and I was hoping to sort of have it on my Bandcamp. It'll be released on Apple Music and I don't know, I have this Distrokid thing, so they release it on all these platforms. But I think I like Bandcamp the most. Whenever I'm looking for local bands, I usually hit up Bandcamp.
WR: Me too.
TK: And everyone's on there. Yeah.
WR: When are the actual shows happening? The actual dates of the Fringe show? That's probably important to get in there, right?
TK: Yeah, the dates are July 13 to 24th, and I start on the 14th and I end on the last day. It shows all scattered around, so one of them is sure to fit your schedule.
WR: Have you done this quantity of shows of any kind before? Like just such a tightly packed amount of time with show after show after show?
TK: No, because I help host an open mic on Mondays. Caravan Open Mic. Yeah. And we do that at The Cube so it's two songs every week. And that's sort of something to focus on, and my radio show. So I'm doing different things, but I'm not doing the same thing over and over. I was a little worried about the repetition when I first started, just having to do one thing so many times in that way because there's a time period. So if you want to get everything in that you're going to say, you have to stick to the script. And like, something that's so alike the whole time. I like to switch things up. None of my set lists are ever the same. , so this is a new thing to do the same thing all over. But I'm getting used to it in practice, so I think it will be fine. It actually weird to do the same thing over and over. Like, it just flows after a while. So yeah, that's nice.
WR: Well, yeah, and I guess the more you do it too, the more honed it gets and the better you have it tightened to the timelines and all the songs. It's like practice after practice after practice, but just in front of an audience. On top of your rehearsals you're doing already, right?
TK: Yeah, definitely added in. Like, I've shortened it so that just in case people react and I get thrown off, I'd be able to get back on track because I don't do it in front of anyone. Like, there's no one to do it in front of. So, yeah, having an audience is going to be something. Singing is different, but I guess you can't really see the audience. Right. But they're not really laughing at my songs ever. And so that's what I've planned for. Like, if anyone actually said something out loud while I'm playing or speaking, there's adjustment time.
WR: How do people get tickets for this? I know you said online. Is it just off the Fringe Festival website? Do you have it on your social media or something like that?
TK: Yeah, everything's linked to everything. So I have a Facebook and Twitter, and a web page. And all of those things are linked there and links to my music and stuff like that. So it's just www.tanniskelm.com. So you can find everything there for Fringe performances? For all of them? Yeah. You just go to winnipegfringe.com. You can find all of, like they list all the days and then by time. So if there's anyone that you want to see, it's pretty easy to find them.
WR: Well, I found yours on there, too. And they have a pretty good synopsis. Well, not really synopsis, but a brief description. And then one other thing I wanted to ask you about is it says one dollars from each admission is being collected for Other Women’s Problems.
TK: Yes. Well, I get into it a bit because, I feel I couldn't do this play without giving something back to people that don't have it as easy as I do. Yeah. I do touch on abortion and it's going… with this Roe versus Wade overturning and women's rights being sort of very political platforms and people just don't care about women anymore. And I go into all of that. So I was talking with some people and I think probably the Women's Health Clinic for sure, I will get but yeah, it's not necessary that you buy full admission. I will have a giant container for any donations that anyone wants to make at the end. And yeah, I'm hoping to make life a little bit easier for someone that's going through a hard time.
WR: Another reason to go check out the show.
TK: Yeah, very good. That'd be awesome. But, yeah, hopefully people look at things a different way if you're not looking at it the way I am, in my dimension.
WR: Right. Cool.