“W is a V in Polish” Richie Fudalewski politely explains when I ask how to properly pronounce his name. I’m sitting with the veteran musician over a pitcher of Coors Light in a north Burnaby pub on a Tuesday evening, leaning in to hear him over the crowd of rowdy locals watching the Canucks game on no fewer than 20 screens.

“This is my local bar now… it’s kind of like a fancy Ivanhoe,” Fudalewski explains.

He’s lived in the neighbourhood for a month, recently having moved back to the Vancouver area with his wife and their infant daughter after a stint on Vancouver Island. It was in his home studio near Victoria that Fudalewski wrote and recorded 28 songs that would become his latest project, Fantasy Prom. Those tracks are being released monthly in a string of digital singles and EPs on Fudalewski’s own label, Sizzle Teen Records.

“That’s just how people want to digest music now… in smaller pieces,” Richie says of the release schedule, “plus it allows us to keep things fresh with a new release every month.”

Sonically, Fantasy Prom is a dreamy departure from Richie’s heavier musical past, with overt nods to ‘90s shoegazers Mazzy Star, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. On standout single “Vulnerable,” Amelia’s [Fudalewski’s wife] ethereal vocal delivery is a perfect foil for Fudalewski’s shimmering, crashing guitars. The song has such a hugeness that it’s hard to believe it was recorded at home by a husband and wife sharing close quarters with their sleeping baby.

Fantasy Prom wear the shoegaze tag proudly, with a welcome frankness in a time when most bands eschew classification or try to invent their own ‘unique’ sub-genre. The sound is a welcome addition to the Vancouver scene and to the band members themselves. The lineup has recently expanded, with the Fudalewskis adding Denyss McKnight, Ross Lalande and Cameron Hartl to the fold. Each of them an established musician in his own right, they are all pleased to be playing something different from their previous bands.

In 2014 Fantasy Prom plans to continue releasing songs regularly and playing around BC and Alberta, with an eye on the U.K. and Europe. Eastern Canada might have to wait, though, as Fudalewski frankly states that touring across Canada “is probably the worst idea ever for a band from Vancouver.”

If you’re into revisiting your high school shoegaze phase (but with better decisions), you can catch Fantasy Prom at the Rickshaw on January 26th.

By Justin Penney

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