Dear Natalia

The Dears
Natalia is in the middle

It’s so strange to be an acquaintance to fame. Many years ago, in the early 90s, I frequented a BBS (that’s “bulletin board system” for you young folk) for “writers” (because clearly at that time I considered myself a “writer”) called The Powder Keg. Through that experience, I met a very interesting young woman named Natalia who was just bursting with energy and talent. We met only once in person, at a reading somewhere, but over the years, she sent me zines she was working on and tapes of her singing and playing guitar.

Flash forward to 2004. I’m browsing in Soundscapes and came across the latest record from The Dears, a band I’d heard of but never heard. Flipping through the liner notes, I see a familiar name. Natalia Yanchak is the keyboardist and backing vocalist for the band. She’s also the wife of singer Murray Lightburn and now the mother of their child, Neptune.

The Montreal-based band played a three-night stand recently here in Toronto at Lee’s Palace. And regretfully, I couldn’t make it to any of their shows. But I’m incredibly proud of Natalia. And though it’s doubtful, I hope that just a teeny-weeny bit of her success is due to the encouragement of a kindly older gentleman who toils away here with neither fame nor fortune to ease his encroaching irrelevance.

I think I’ll dig out my old cassette tapes tonight and listen to Natalia singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into her tape recorder.

Here’s a recent interview with Natalia with the British music mag Taxi.