WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right, welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with a band that is not only new to me, but relatively new just in general, I think. I mean, I've heard your name a number of times, kind of over the past, I don't know, six months or so. Maybe less, maybe more. Time doesn't exist anymore, so no one really knows. But I have come across your name fairly often recently. And I know that this is a relatively new project, and so I'm hoping the best way we can start this off is if the two of you want to introduce yourselves and then give a bit of background about what it is that you do musically.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. I'm Dani. Or Danielle, from Poodle Paddle. I do guitar and vocals, but I play a couple of other instruments, too… and, yeah, we started this project fairly recently, like, over the pandemic, kind of. So we're just figuring it out. But the last few months of everything opening back up have been really fun. We've been able to play lots of shows.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, that's why your name's been showing up a lot, I guess, right?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, we've been very active since we started out there. I'm Dawson, by the way, and I play drums with Poodle Paddle. And, yeah, we started, I guess, 2020, kind of like in the summer, or like when we started jamming. And then about a year later, we kind of started touching our toes in the water, live performance and everything.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So this project has been pretty much entirely during the pandemic, right? Your whole existence of Poodle Paddle has been during this sort of awful time when people can't go to shows. Until recently, it's difficult for a lot of bands to even rehearse or get together. What has that been like? Sort of trying to launch something in a time when nobody can really do much at all?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: I mean, it kind of worked out timing wise a little bit. Okay. We started jamming during lockdown, when lockdown was just starting to ease up a little bit, I guess we were able to actually see each other in person. And then by the time that restrictions loosened up where you could actually gather a little bit, that was kind of when we were ready to start performing in front of people. And so that worked out all right, I would say. But, yeah, it gives us enough time to sort of get to know each other as a band and start to build that chemistry.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is the band just the two of you, or are there other members? Because I've seen some videos of live stuff online. It looks like you have a more filled out group with you.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah, well, the band is just us. Like, we're poodle paddle and we do some shows, just the two of us. But normally, if we're playing a show where, like, let's get a bassist in, let's get steel drum, tambourine, additional guitar, like, whatever, so we play with a lot of our friends a lot. And it's nice because then it kind of allows us to have a different sound for every show to sort of match with the bands on the bill that we're playing with.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, well, that maybe brings up another question, then. I hate asking this question, and everyone hates answering it because it's a shitty question, especially these days, where there's so many subgenres of subgenres of something-core and this post-this. But if someone runs into you haven't seen them in a while, and they say, hey, I hear you in a band, what's sort of the quick version that you give to describe what it is that you do? Because having listened to your single and some other stuff I found on YouTube, I have some ideas of what it sounds like to me. But how do you define it? Because there's a lot there. It's not just very obviously one genre.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, it really depends. Even show to show, single to single, there's a lot of variation. So I don't know, if people ask me what genre we are, I kind of throw, like, four or five at them. We're somewhere in between there. So punk is definitely in there. But indie rock, twee pop is one influence of ours. And we do love covers of twee pop songs. Some of our other recordings, aside from the single, we have at least very pop, very soft, compared to what a lot of people have seen from us.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Do you both agree with that sort of nebulous definition?
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. If someone asks me, what kind of music do you play? I usually just say, like, punk rock, indie, I don't know. But there is a lot more to it than that, for sure. But definitely, like, twee pop, goth rock, surf, I don't know, hardcore a little bit. We scream a lot. For a lot. It's kind of all about the juxtaposition between really hard music and really soft music. So that's like where the Poodle Paddle comes from -- because we're cute and fluffy. But also...
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And I was thinking about this when I was listening to your single, too… is that I might be stuck in a former era where I'm trying to pin everything down by genre. Because I think we're in an age now where it's a lot more sort of accepted and even welcomed to be so fluid as far as what kind of stuff you're playing and what kind of music you're taking in than you're putting out there. I mean, I haven't played in the band in probably 15 years myself. And back then, it was definitely more important to be, oh, we're this guy, we're hardcore band, or we're a funk band, or we're a metal band, or whatever, and then all the little subgenres within that. But now it just seems like because everyone has access to all of history's recorded music at the touch of a button. Do you think those distinctions maybe aren't as important in today's world?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: I would personally say so for us, I don't really like to try to fit us into a genre, because, really, I get changes a lot. It's changed across our bands. Used to be we had a phase where we were a lot more hardcore. We've had phases where we're just kind of more pop, almost. It changes coming back to how we have different members of every show. Kind of like it changes show to show. And, I mean, that's given us the opportunity also to be able to play shows with Hopscotch Battlescars and Prinport, but then also play shows with bands like (unintelligible), really, like, sticking our fingers into different scenes and that sort of thing.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is that kind of what you want to do going forward? To be able to sort of traverse between different scenes and sort of alter your show depending on who you're playing with?
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah, I really like the diversity. And a lot of people say, like, going to a poodle paddle show, they never know what to expect. They never know what it's going to sound like. And I love that. I think it's really exciting. And that's kind of why I didn't want to actually release any music for a long time, because I'm like, I don't want them to know what they're getting. It's really nice being kind of versatile enough to play with all of our favorite bands in Winnipeg. It's like, okay, I see your sound, and we can do something complimentary for whatever it may be.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, you just tweak it a little bit because you're obviously not changing the style 100% to fit in with the show. But you have enough different things, different elements in there that you can push it a little bit one way or the other there.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Exactly.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: One of the things I like to try and do over the course of doing this show is I always want to try and place people in my head as far as where they sort of exist within the local music scene. So were there certain bands that the two of you were really into coming up when you first started going to shows. Or maybe even bands now. That you kind of feel are very… not necessarily influential. But important to you from the local community that you kind of see as something that maybe made you want to get into this and made you want to start playing shows for.
DANI MCDONALD: We both moved to Winnipeg. Both Dawson and I. In 2019.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. Yeah.
DANI MCDONALD: We're spring chickens. And in 2019, I saw a Merin show and was like, oh, my God, I love that. It's kind of been a dream to play with them. I mean, at that point, I wasn't even really playing guitar seriously, or in a band. And at our last show, they opened for us. So kind of a full circle moment. But, yeah, for me, love Merin. Love Paige Drobot and, Hopscotchbattlescars, too. Like, all of our first shows, we played with them, too, so we're kind of a sister band. It's very fun.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I think that's where I first heard of you, actually, is because I kind of randomly stumbled on Hopscotchbattlescars. And I love it. They're so good. And it just seems like your name was coming up a lot, sort of on things about shows they were doing and stuff. So, yeah, I think that's where I first kind of clued into who you were. But, yeah, great band.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah. For me, personally, I grew up a little bit closer to Winnipeg than Dani, and so I've been coming to shows and stuff in the city for a while. And also a lot of Folk Fests. A lot of my local influences were bands like Sweet Alibi, that are like Whitehorse, bands like that. And then since I've moved to the city, I have to be like Merin. And a lot of those sort of the indie rock bands are just really inspiring. Like, really sort of what I wanted to emulate when I was first starting a band.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. I also really love Virgo Rising. I forgot to mention them. They have such a soft, beautiful sound.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, they're very good, for sure. JayWood is great.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. JayWood is actually my mentor over the pandemic through Manitoba Music. So I got to meet him and chat. And he helped me a lot with figuring out kind of how to start the band and take it a bit more seriously. So, yeah, we definitely owe a lot to a lot of people on the scene.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's awesome. Yeah. And then all the names you're mentioning, too, are all bands that are doing something I think, relatively unique too. Right. I mean, like, Hopscotchbattlescars, for example, is doing another band that has a very kind of shifting sound. I mean, you could put them in the hardcore category, but they also do much more extreme stuff than hardcore. And JayWood is kind of floating between genres as well, and Merin as well. So yeah, I can see why some of those maybe appeal to you.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, I think we've been inspired by bands that also kind of don't necessarily care about genre and just kind of want to create what they want to create, and that's definitely shown up for us as well.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So, as newcomers, I guess, relative newcomers to the Winnipeg music scene, have you felt, I guess acceptance from the community? That's something I always wonder about because I've been in Winnipeg my whole life. I started playing in bands when I was twelve in like, ‘95, and so, I mean everyone I know is a local musician. The idea of being accepted in the local music scene, it was never a thing. I just kind of born into it. Right, but what is it like as an outsider, I guess, coming in here and I mean, Winnipeg, I don't know whether it had a reputation or not as a music city from where you were coming from or what you thought of it, but was it easy to kind of get into the scene and sort of feel welcomed?
DANI MCDONALD: It's interesting because I feel like our first show ever was a house show and there was a decent number of people, and I feel like we kind of made our own scene just with, like, kids from the university and queer kids from around the city. Like, we played our show and we're kind of hanging out and partying after, and we're like, okay, who all here is gay? And everybody raised their hand and it's like we kind of last summer. Sort of created this scene just out of our friends and then being able to go to venues where there's not necessarily a regular crowd that shows up. But we still have our crowd of 20 people who kind of show up and are super sweet. And being able to kind of take that everywhere we go has just been super amazing because then we're happy no matter where we are. But, yeah, it's been fun getting to know everybody in the Winnipeg music scene. I don't know.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Sorry.
DANI MCDONALD: All right, well, we've never had that scary jumping out into this unknown thing because we've always had little crew with us. That's been nice.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's great.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah. Part of me always wanted to be part of the Winnipeg music scene. I didn't necessarily know what it was, but I was hoping as a drummer that one day I'd make my wing and I don't know, it kind of just happened really quickly. Like, over the course of playing shows and stuff, I went from not really knowing anybody who was in advance to now kind of the same as you. I feel like most of my friends are in band and everybody knows somebody else who's in a band.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, and the good thing about that, too, is I feel like the music scene is so incestuous too, where everyone is in each other's bands at some point or play a show with each other, that it's sort of just like the community just develops pretty quickly around that because you all have one degree of separation from each other, even successful, popular bands. There's probably some guy who played guitar on one of the records who is in some band playing, opening for some basement band in a bar that you never heard of until today. Right?
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Especially when we have like, two or so new people coming and playing with us every show.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Of course.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So that idea of having your friends come in and join in on whatever instruments, do you plan that ahead of time? Or is it sort of an open thing where, you know, someone's probably going to show up on stage with like a tambourine or whatever?
DANI MCDONALD: Okay, tambourine. We kind of know someone's just going to show up. Like additional guitar. You need to rehearse our friends.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is there like a revolving group of people that you sort of work with for that, though? Or do you keep it sort of fairly open as far as someone might show up and say, hey, I play bass and you can bring them in?
DANI MCDONALD: I think it really depends on the show. Like, if it's a funkier show, we'll try to find a funkier bassist. And if it's a more heavy show, we find that heavier guitarist and stuff. Sometimes we have a show coming up and we asked a bunch of our friends and no one can join us. So then we just post online, like, does anybody want to play with us?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: And we always get, like, people.
DANI MCDONALD: We have connected with such wonderful people. Yeah. Really amazing.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: It's great how people just in Winnipeg want to people see that in a pinch and they're like, hell yeah, play a show with this band. I'll go and practice with this.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I think part of that might be because of the pandemic too. Right. Everyone's been so deprived of being able to go to shows or play shows that now you just want to take whatever opportunity there is because you can finally get back out there. And a lot of people are craving it, I think.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: At the time we're recording this anyway, you have one single out. , what is the plan going forward? Are you going to be putting out any kind of a longer release? Like, are you just doing singles? Do you have a plan as far as releasing music goes?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: We have another single that we're planning to release hopefully pretty soon. We have sort of like one or two other songs also recorded. And we're planning hopefully releasing an EP. Not exactly sure when, but maybe in the fall, early next year. And yeah, we're just kind of stimulating the process. We're not really rushing things, I would say.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, and that makes sense, right? Because you're still, again, fairly new. I know it sounds like not a long time ago now, but because there's been no shows for most of that time, you're still fairly new to the whole thing, right?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I guess this kind of relates to what I was talking about earlier, about sort of the way music is consumed now and everyone has access to everything. What is your idea of how to release music in 2022. And the reason I asked this is because I'm old, I'm almost 40. I listen to physical media pretty much exclusively. I had to dig around to find your song because I don't use Spotify or Apple Music or any of that stuff. But I know that I'm in the minority and I know that most people are completely plugged into all those streaming services. And for a lot of that stuff, the key is singles over EPs or over albums because of the way that music is just listened to. Do you think about that when it comes to releasing music? Like the idea of is someone going to sit and listen to a whole EP or who's going to be finding this? Is that part of the decision making at this point? Or are you just happy to release whatever?
DANI MCDONALD: To be honest, I don't think too much about anything. But no. Well, I don't know. With the EP that we're planning, it's like I want there to be a cohesive flow when you're sitting down and listening, like the one that we have right now that we want to release in winter, it's like winter depression vibe. I don't want it to be like a really moody thing. And, then just for our singles, like releasing the things that we're the most proud of. But yeah, definitely. I don't think I have the best grasp on recording things. It feels weird to me to have our songs kind of be like an object that is unchanging and is out there on the internet for anyone to see at any time. Always the same, like a product like that. Because I don't know, I love live performance and like that aspect of music so much.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, I think we're definitely more natural live. And it's also kind of exciting to try and figure out how to best capture that. I suppose both of us, I think, are like people who listen to full albums and stuff and I think we definitely both want to release an EP at least. Or eventually down the line, an album that really, like Dani said, has a flow and a mood and it was really cohesive.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, I'm glad to hear that too, because as someone who also sits down and listens to something back to front, it's nice to have records that they do have that flow because it seems like it's becoming more rare because everything is kind of taken into pieces and listened to individually. So yeah, that's always good to hear. I guess you could become one of those like, Grateful Dead type bands where you just record every live show you do and release them all.
DANI MCDONALD: That would be ideal. We need someone to record our live shows. We put almost like album level thought into each of our set lists. We're like, we're going to start out with this kind of emotion and then it's got to have a really cohesive flow and emotional roller coaster throughout the set because with a band like us, where we kind of go from soft to hard… it's like, how can you do that in an elegant way where as somebody who's in the crowd dancing? You're just like dancing the whole time and not like taken off of guard and shook unless we want to shock you. You know what I mean? Right.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: You don't want to be suddenly jarring and switch to something really heavy after they've been enjoying the twee stuff.
DANI MCDONALD: I do like a little bit of jarring, but like a little bit.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is there like a significant amount of planning that goes into that before every show?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, we always sit down and , we pick out usually we start out like ten to twelve songs kind of that we're like, this would be a good vibe for the venue and everything the other bands are playing with. And then we kind of stone talk what the order of the show is going to be like, which songs lead nicely together. And then we think a little bit about the conclusions and openings and sort of thing. And then of course, yeah, the hard and the soft. That's kind of always a big question. It's like how do we go into this sort of like hardcore, whatever, punk music that we do from the really soft sort of Dani singing super lightly light.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Maybe it's a question as far as far as vocals are concerned, is it difficult to go from the soft singing to screaming and then back? Because I've been in bands where I was screaming but there was no soft singing, it was just all screaming. So I can handle that part, but it seems like it'll be tricky to kind of get yourself into the headspace, maybe not in the right word, but get your voice able to shift back and forth like that.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. I don't know, I kind of used to have more of a hard time with it. Like if we were doing heavier songs, I might totally scratch my throat before going back into the soft things and then it's hard. But I've been, , trying to get better at vocals and at this point it's something that's easy and feels really natural and really fun for me to play with too. When we play our single, Who You Really Are live. Like, I love going from the disco chorus into just screaming and watching everybody in the audience be like, oh, we're doing this now. I love it. It’s a good definition of if you're trying to find a genre, your genre is, we're doing this now.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: So if people want to find you online, I know you don't have a lot of stuff out right now. I mean, at the time we're recording, this is just the one single. But what's the best way to sort of keep in touch with what you're doing as far as shows and to hear new music when it comes out and stay on top of things as far as what Poodle Paddle is up to?
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Definitely. Our Instagram is mostly active. That's where we mostly post things. We talk about all shows, little videos, and when we release music, that's where we tend to announce it. That's the best place to keep up with that.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah, with events and stuff. If you want to see like, embarrassing videos from our first show that's on our YouTube, we didn't know what we were doing then.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Where was that show? How did that go over? I mean, I have had backyard shows in my house a lot, too. I haven't recently because of COVID, but it's always like, really chill stuff. But the songs you guys were doing are significantly louder. And how did that go over with the neighbors?
DANI MCDONALD: Actually, I invited my neighbors and one of them came with her son, and, she was living for it. After we were done, Hopscotchbattlescars played and her she was like, head banging there and stuff. And she's, like the sweetest lady with the most beautiful garden on the block. So it means a lot that she would come.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Yeah, she's like, watermelon for everybody.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah, I have pretty great neighbours. Although, the last house show we did, my other neighbor was like, my son studying for an exam. And I was like, okay. And then we just brought everything down into the basement and it's soundproof enough. So after that, yeah, I'm definitely a fan of house shows.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I think a lot of people are after kind of the past two and a half years of everyone being sort of locked down and uncomfortable around each other and everything. Having that kind of small, intimate venue to watch a show is maybe a little bit less terrifying, I guess, coming out of Google, I I guess that works well for what you were saying earlier about having that sort of 20 person group of people who go to your shows and who are sort of this own little scene you've made up just from starting out. That seems like a great way for them to check you out, too, because you and your friends and you're doing this little casual, small, intimate show.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: We never would have really got to venues if we hadn't just thrown our own shows. In Dani's backyard. In my living room, we did a show, I went back to Dani's backyard. And that's sort of how we made new friends and made new musician friends, found people to play with us, found other bands, and then eventually we were able to sort of take that to album.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right on. Well, it's good to see because I think that one of my biggest, sort of beefs as an old person about the way music is, and a lot of bands are these days, is that a lot of people seem to be sort of skipping what I feel are the really important DIY punk rock steps to becoming a band. And they're just going out and getting banners printed and everything's all professional and polished and they haven't even practiced yet. And I mean, I think that going through that route of doing the house shows and the basement shows to five people and all that stuff, and the DIY aspect of it, I think, is really the best way for a band to get to the next level and get shows and meet people and get it kind of integrated into the scene. So I'm glad to hear you're doing that. And that kind of DIY spirit still exists because it's easy to feel like it doesn't when you see sort of very polished internet presences of new bands. and it seems like they've skipped those fundamental steps.
DANI MCDONALD: Yeah. No, I wouldn't trade the DIY spirit for anything. Like, we're in Dawson’s garage, spray painting panties for merch. We're, like, posting silly looking poodles on the Instagram just for fun. It's not very polished, but we just want to have fun and make people laugh. I mean, we're entertainers. I'm a little bit of a clown. Like, I don't need to seriously.
DAWSON REYNOLDS: Approachable for sure.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's good, especially in an era where and I feel like the whole time I've been talking about, like, all these days, things are different because of things like Instagram and everything. You do need to be, you don't need to be. But there is an expectation that you are sort of personable and open and yourself sort of online, as well as that shows. So, I mean, having that kind of attitude, I think, is probably the best way to go.