Rio By Night & No Island
// Leah Scheitel & Jonty Davies


By Leah Scheitel

“Why don’t we wear sequins on Wednesdays?” asks Rio By Night’s lead singer Britt MacLeod to the crowd at the Cobalt on a Wednesday night. MacLeod, who was dressed in a black sequined top, is the driving force behind the young band that spawned out of Vancouver’s open mic scene in November 2011.

Rio By Night is a four-piece band, with an interesting high-low contrast between a cello and ukulele. “I had a really big surge of creativity when I picked up the ukulele,” MacLeod explains. “The cello is my favorite sound in the world, so meeting Alex [Hauka, the cellist] was a real serendipitous thing. That helped us shape the sound.”

Ben Whippie on the bass guitar and Mike Lauder on the drums complete the foursome, who describe themselves as soul-folk and earthy-pop. “We have really broad eclectic tastes,” Macleod says. “For me as a songwriter, a big part of my musical diet growing up was 1960s and ‘70s folk singer-songwriters. That’s something that really influenced me growing up: James Taylor, Carole King; the stuff that my mom loves.”

The band cites Muse as one of their current inspirations, and Hauka says that if he could be in a band with anyone, it would be Matthew Bellamy, the lead singer from Muse.

Currently, Rio by Night is in the works to release their first EP, due out this spring, featuring six songs. “[The EP] was a backwards progression,” says MacLeod. “I started recording an EP that was kind of a solo project, and then put the rest of the band together. I pulled Ben in, who I knew from theatre school, and found Mike on Craigslist. It was a few months after Alex and I had already been recording.”

MacLeod and Whippie are both products of musical theatre programs – MacLeod was part of the first graduation class of the musical theatre program at Capilano University in 2007, and Whippie went to the theatre BFA program at UBC. Hauka is a classically trained cellist who performed at the closing ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics, and Lauder thanks his tolerant parents for letting him play the drums growing up.

The band has an original sound as they have no guitar, the staple of so many bands. However, the bass, cello, and ukelele, matched with MacLeod strong vocals, do more than just fill in.

While continuing to work on the EP, the band is also looking to pick up more shows around Vancouver. “Now we’re trying to get our name out there and get ourselves out there more,” says MacLeod. “We have big goals for every show, but we have been talking about just trying to have more fun on stage. We always have fun, but [we want] to let it come through a bit more and involve the audience more.”

Rio By Night and their music can be found on Facebook and CBC Radio 3, and playing different venues around Vancouver.

//Photograph by Donal Willer

By Jonty Davies

Prominently featuring silky smooth saxophone and breezy jazz chord progressions, No Island has probably heard of the Doobie Brothers. Their music suggests tones of the detached coyness that colours much of the premier '70s lounge-pop groups, which they approach with reverence and earnest.

Vocalist/guitarist Keith Sinclair tells stories of characters in LA and on the road fighting for what they want, but losing what they need. These stories don’t seem to have an immediate personal context, but rather act as parables that are consistent with the genre’s ideals.

Sara Lauridsen's bass and Mike Ferguson's drums form a reserved, though steady rhythm section, and the music's most obvious shades come from James Wilfred Martin and Andy Rice on sax and keys, respectively.

It’s a fitting name – No Island – as the word Island is often synonymous with the sphere of Jamaican music that brought us reggae and ska. While No Island features brass and woodwinds, instruments associated with these genres, there is no apparent island reference to their work. There is one clear exception, though, and it comes with debut album highlight, “Too Close To Home”, a song that vibes with a solid reggae-bounce.

Jonty: What's your favourite historical empire?

No Island: Rome. Or perhaps Ottoman. I’ve always enjoyed putting my feet up …

J: What's your most shameful musical/stylistic influence?

N.I.: I don't think any of my influences are shameful; however, I have a long list of terrible, terrible music in my collection.”

J: Simpsons, Seinfeld, Family Guy, or South Park?

N.I.: Seinfeld is the most important sitcom of all time, but I'd pick the Simpsons in their glory years.

J: What's the best bar in Vancouver?

N.I.: The Railway Club.

J: If your music was to be the soundtrack to a film, who would direct it/what would it be called?

N.I.: It would be directed by Michael Mann. Not sure what it would be called, but it would be about an endearing band of criminals. Maybe it's a heist film.

J: What's the sexiest instrument?

N.I.: Triangle (think about it).

J: Dinner with Obama or beers with Bush?

N.I.: Dinner with Obama, but only if we can order Chinese food right to the front door of the White House.

J: Terran, Protoss, or Zerg?

N.I.: What?

J: How do you hope to die?

N.I.: I hope that it's a long time coming and everyone is prepared but then I die unexpectedly from doing something stupid.

J: Scotch and ciggies or pot and wine?

N.I.: I do not partake in such things.

J: Explain your group's name.

N.I.: No band, no music, is an island. No matter who you are or what you play, what you do is influenced in one way or another by everything else you've heard.

Check them out at They're also active at and @NoIslandBand on Twitter.

//Photograph courtesy of No Island

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