This week’s blog post comes to you from Calgary based country music duo, Leaving Thomas! Members Annika Odegard and Bryton Udy recently signed their first recording contract with independent record label MDM Recordings in Toronto, but still call Calgary home. Please read and enjoy!!
Q: Can you tell us how “Leaving Thomas” came to be? How long have you guys been a musical duo?
A: Well, Bryton and I have actually known each other for over 15 years now. We were in a local theatre production in 2000 at Storybook Theatre and reconnected years later at the Stampede Talent Search. Since then, we began writing music together and performance opportunities kept popping up so we decided to follow the opportunities and now here we are today! We've officially been “Leaving Thomas” for 2 years now and hope this is only the beginning of an amazing musical journey!
Photos by: Megan Rutkowski
Q: So, what’s the story behind the name, “Leaving Thomas”?
A: Contrary to popular belief, it’s not in reference to an ex-boyfriend named Thomas, I promise! Originally, Bryton and I would just call ourselves “Annika and Bryton” but people seemed to have a very difficult time pronouncing our individual names correctly!
B: It’s true! We have been called so many different names, you’d be surprised! We wanted to find a name for our duo that was not only easy to say and read, but also something that was meaningful to both of us. Annika’s middle name is Liv (pronounced “Leave”) and my middle name is Thomas, so one day I asked, “What about ‘Leaving Thomas’?” and Annika yelled, “Thats it!”
Q: You were both born and raised in Calgary and still live here today. What’s it like being a musician in our city?
A: You know, I’ve travelled a lot and each time I come home to Calgary, I realize how wonderful it is. It’s a city full of friendly people, unique performing opportunities, and the music community is very tight knit and supportive. This is something that is difficult to find and is so fundamental to artist development and growth. By staying in Calgary, we have been able to perform at well known local venues, record at OCL studios in Langdon, and work with incredibly talented musicians that are based in Calgary.
B: I also love traveling and have lived in other cities around Canada and the world, but Calgary has always been home. There are very few places, other than Calgary, that I feel I could call home. Being a musician, especially in the country genre, in this city is great! The Calgary Stampede has given both Annika and I some incredible opportunities to perform and connect with industry professionals, and even reconnect with each other at the Calgary Stampede Talent Search! Playing shows in Calgary is also great because our families often make it out to all of our performances!
Q: What do you like to do in the city when you’re not performing?
B: I actually own my own marketing and branding company called Vint Marketing. I am very passionate about helping small business owners develop brands and strategies that will help their business stand out and grow. For me, it doesn’t seem like work, I love it! But in my “free time” I love to go to the movies, go for walks or bike rides through Fishcreek Park, and visit local restaurants and bars with friends!
A: I really enjoy taking advantage of the bike paths we have in Calgary! My dad is a big cyclist, and everyone in my family grew up riding around the Glenmore reservoir, so I like to do that (when it’s nice outside)! I also love taking classes every now and then like paint night, drop in dance classes, and if I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll try to sweat it out on a surfboard at studio revolution on 17th!
Q: Any favourite spots to eat and drink in Calgary?
A: Well, I LOVE brunch so I have eaten Eggs Benedict at many different places, but I think my favourite has to be Red’s Diner. It’s so good! I also love trying out the drinks at local coffee shops so Cafe Rosso is a new favourite of mine! It’s great to see so many of the new small businesses opening up in Calgary-you never run out of places to go!
B: There are so many great local restaurants around town now, but I have always loved Pasquale’s on Macleod Trail. It’s family owned and is a go to of mine for sure! the dry ribs and caesar salad is to die for! As for drinks, The Guild has some great cocktails and I love myself a good cocktail from time to time! National on 10th is also great too with all the games and bowling, it’s always a good time there!
Q: Do you have any favourite venues that you like to perform at in Calgary?
A: I always love performing at “Gravity Espresso Bar” in Inglewood. It is such an inviting venue with a very relaxed vibe. When we perform there, we usually perform completely acoustically which allows for a really intimate experience for us and the audience. When we write together, it’s just Bryton, me, and his guitar so it’s nice to get back to the basics and perform our songs in their most raw form.
B: Gravity is always great to us for sure! We played a sold out show at the Ironwood as well and that was a blast! I have seen some of my favourite artists play that stage so it was cool to play on that same stage in front of so many friends and family!
Q: So what’s next for Leaving Thomas?
A: Well, our single “Waiting Kind of Girl” came out on Dec. 30th and is now available on all digital platforms to stream and download! We have a music video for the single coming out this month which we are really excited for and a few local gigs coming up!
B: We are also hosting a show at Knoxville’s Tavern in Calgary on February 23rd! It will be a special one as we are partnering with the Big Hearted Mavericks Foundation to raise money for local children's charities. It will be a blast and we would love to see some fellow local laundry lovers there! Click here for tickets! https://www.myshowpass.com/leaving-thomas/
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