Forming bonds with others is an integral part of human existence. It’s been scientifically studied and psychologically proven that we need to form bonds and connections with others in order to survive. We continue to find ourselves adjusting and readjusting to new ways of life during a worldwide pandemic and other uncontrollable events. In all of this change, forming bonds while remaining socially distant has become increasingly more difficult. Offering a solution to this problem is the Oshawa, Ontario-based collective Dizzy.

Katie Munshaw is the lead singer alongside the trio of Spencer brothers: Charlie (drummer), Alex (guitar), and Mackenzie (bass). This group of friends is changing what it means to be together while being apart. Brandishing emotionally impactful and relatable lyrics, any one of their singles will immediately connect you to yourself and to the millions of their fans, known as the “Heartbreak Club”. Every track plays like a cinematic accompaniment to a coming-of-age blockbuster film that we simply cannot get enough of. Their latest record, The Sun and Her Scorch, is now out from behind the clouds.
 
FRONTRUNNER introduces Dizzy’s lead singer, Munshaw, who will more than likely be in all of those upcoming Fall playlists.

 

I know Dizzy’s roots stem from the long and lovely friendship you and Charlie have had, but what was the initial spark, so to speak, that lit the Dizzy flame? What drove you both to carving your own paths and starting a band after high school? 

 

I think Charlie really had his heart set on that probably from grade eleven, and that just wasn’t something that was on my radar because it wasn’t something that was encouraged in my family. My family was really encouraging of going to school and getting a nine-to-five job and like settling down. He was really the person who asked me in January of our graduating year and he was like, “you wanna do this?” and I was like, “that’s an option?! Sure!” [Laughter]. So he was really the spark that did it and we had a little duo for a while and then we realized that Mack and Alex, Charlie’s brothers, were just hanging around as well. It just so happened that Mack plays bass and Alex plays guitar and we were like, “We have a band here, why don’t we try it?” It worked out really well!

 

That entire situation was like a match made in heaven!

 

Yeah, and everyone was just hanging around. Pretty weird, but it worked out though!

 

Back to the Juno Awards last year, to the very moment you guys heard your name called. How did it feel to hear that the insanely talented collective of friends from Oshawa that had put their blood, sweat, and tears into their craft had won Alternative Album of the year?

 

We were shocked. We were not expecting to win…like we honestly went for the free drinks. We were on tour and we flew back and we were like this is like a wedding! It’s an open bar, let’s just have the best time ever! And so, we were trashed [Laughs] not expecting to have to get up on stage in front of Michael Bublé and all of these people that we that we looked up to. Right before, somebody was like “you should probably think about what you’re going to say if you do get called” and I was like “Nah”! So yeah, we were really surprised and you could probably tell that from the acceptance speech that you watched Yeah, we were totally overwhelmed but really grateful.

 

 
I think it makes it better when people that win the award are not expecting it, because you can just tell they weren’t expecting it by their reactions [laughs]. I love that you guys went there with the idea that you were just going to get drunk and have a good time. I mean, you still did and won. So we love that.

 

Yeah, it’s actually funny that night we had rented a car and we were so late to the show—we had to perform—and we had to park up front but there was nowhere to park! We asked some random guy if we could park in this spot and he was like “yeah!” and then we won and after we were like walking back out and they were just about to tow our car! [Laughter].

 

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

 
I love that this random guy gave you the “OK” only for you guys to come out to an almost-towed car.

 

[Laughs] Yeah, curse him!

 

Winning a Juno Award is truly an accomplishment, so a very late congratulations to you all! Moving forward from that, unfortunately, has placed us all in the midst of a global pandemic where life itself appears to be buffering a bit. With all that is going on, what has kept you motivated to continue creating and sharing your truth with the world?

 

Well, we just started writing again. I think for a while we were just taking a second. We really just finished the new record at the top of March, and we had gone on tour the day after we finished the record. We were on tour in Europe, but that was the tour that had to get canceled obviously because of COVID-19. We were really in the mindset of touring, so we’re just getting into the writing world. But what’s keeping me motivated? Well…making money [Laughs]. We make a living, obviously, off of this so I’m hoping to get to our third record sooner—maybe—because of all of this. We’ve just got more time to write and I think that’s the silver lining I’m finding here.

 

That actually leads me into my next question: how being quarantined has impacted the band’s creative process. You said it has given you all more time to write?

 

Yeah, totally. I think that if we had a tour for another year, I might have made another record like The Sun and Her Scorch. So I think it is really interesting that I get to have this time off at home and I get to live almost like I did before I was in a band. So maybe I’ll start writing about different things again. We’ll see.

 

On your writing: Your ability to tap into genuine fears and emotions and give them life in such a delicate but impactful way is not only impressive, but it’s also an integral part of forming authentic connections with your listeners, or “the heartbreak club” as you call them. How did that name come about, by the way?

 

Oh, I don’t know. I feel like the general consensus for people who listen to our music is like “oh, I was so sad and your music really helped me through it” so I feel like that was what it was [Laughs].

 

I want to transition into the latest release, “Roman Candles”, from the album The Sun and Her Scorch. I know the song is a product of that fear of deciding to take your own path and pursue music at the expense of the traditional university-to-salaried-job path that many of your friends have taken. As someone actively undergoing the tumultuous emotions that accompany pursuing your dreams, what are some words of advice that you would offer to those fans and folk who have also taken nontraditional roads to their own paths of success?

 

Oh God, I am the wrong person to ask. My road for that is not linear and changes every day. Following your dreams is wonderful, but obviously very tough. I think the biggest thing for me…I have my bandmates who are wonderful and I think that’s a unique situation to be in, having three people in the exact same situation as you. They have been just so wonderful with the ups and downs of the feeling of fucking up your life [Laughter]. So maybe my advice would be to find people in your life that provide stability for you and that you trust, and those who will tell you when you need to figure your shit out or to keep trying. Just surround yourself with good people I think would be my advice.
 

Good advice! Earlier when you said that your road is not linear, I think even that is something great to acknowledge. People tend to have very narrow ideas of what success means, and you saying, “Hey, my road is nontraditional, your road might also be nontraditional, but it’s not linear and that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing” is great advice in and of itself.

 

I think even emotionally, it’s not linear. Somedays I feel fucking awful and then the next days I feel pretty good about it. Another piece of advice would be to sleep on bad feelings and if it sticks with you in your gut, then maybe you should reassess the situation if you’re still feeling bad about it. But don’t act on those bad feelings instantly, because sometimes they just go away.

 

Jumping back to “Roman Candles”. First and foremost, you look good in it. Period. Also, the video concept was absolutely beautiful and very symbolic. Can you tell me about its development? 

 

Thank you! We had a couple of other treatments but unfortunately, because of lockdown, we couldn’t all get together. So it had to be a socially-distant video, that’s why it’s only me in the video. I think I knew that I wanted fireworks in it, I just thought it would look sick [Laughs]. Then I was like, “Well how am I going to keep people’s attention for three and a half minutes on my own?” So I just decided: you know what? I’m going to dance! I got a choreographer who was wonderful and worked with me in a field, socially distant, one day and yeah, out came the music video.

 

Shifting over to The Sun and Her Scorch, itself. Although Baby Teeth, your sophomore album, was a symbol for growing up during those golden teenage years and all the sadness that accompanies that, this album seems to symbolize a lot of growing pains post-adolescence. Can you expand on this “Self-heartbreak” record as you described it, and some of the themes and messages embedded throughout? 

 

So when we went to write The Sun and Her Scorch, I was having a hard time because I think I was trying to write more romantic heartbreak songs. Those were the most successful from Baby Teeth. People loved “Joshua” and “Backstroke” [the] most, so I think I felt pressure to write more songs like that. I realized that I wasn’t going through a breakup and anything that I was writing was coming out sounding really in-genuine. We need to reassess and figure out all the other ways a heart can break that aren’t romantic. I realized that there were a ton, and that I did it to myself almost daily. That opens up a whole new world of things to talk about when you’re not just talking about love. 

 

I think I touched upon a lot of different things that maybe I wasn’t thinking about in my teens but I definitely am now in my early twenties. It feels almost like a second puberty or something and like no one talks about this. It’s like a quarter-life crisis I’m going through where I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m going to fucking die one day!” [Laughs] I’m growing older and my body is actually changing like I was in my teens. I’m getting lines around my eyes, and that’s scary. There’s just all these other things I’m starting to think about as I’m getting older and it fucking breaks my heart all the time. So yeah, that’s what it’s about.

 

What would you say was the most difficult song to write or to relive when creating The Sun and Her Scorch

 

I think one of the songs that tugs on my heartstrings still is a song called “Ten”. It’s about growing old with somebody that you love a lot and them dying—which is one of those fears I was just touching on. I really like that song because it’s just about so much love and all the really intimate things that go on in a relationship and how one day, all of those things don’t exist anymore. That was probably the hardest one to write and is really hard to listen to, still.

 

Thank you for sharing that with me and for bringing that perspective into life in that way. Since we talked about the most difficult song to write, what song from the record was the most fun to write?

 

The most fun was “Ten”. Absolutely.

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

 
So there’s a bit of an opposite side of the same coin type of thing going on with “Ten”.

 

Yeah, exactly. We went up to a cottage when we knew that we wanted to write the album and we had written “Roman Candles” that day and everybody was tired and I had “Ten” on like a voicemail on my phone and I was like, “Can we work on this?” Everybody was like, “Are you serious? We’re so tired.” But we just started playing it and it was really fun! There’s a video somewhere of me dancing around the cottage and ordering Charlie to “put this as a verse” and “this as a chorus” and I absolutely had way too many glasses of wine, but it was just so joyful even though that song is so devastating. The making of it was joyful, but difficult emotionally.

 

Your writing possesses so much emotional and philosophical depth that I must ask, what or who are your influences in your music and in your writing style?

 

I won’t speak on behalf of the guys, but for me, growing up I listened to just classic Pop. I loved womxn singer-songwriters. Classics like The [Dixie] Chicks, Taylor Swift…I was pretty much a country-pop gal. I think that’s where a lot of my storytelling lyrics come through because I was listening to country-pop and that’s what my parents listen to [Laughs]. But now my biggest influences, especially for The Sun and Her Scorch: I got massively into Joni Mitchell last year and I’m obsessed forever-always with Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski. Those are my two favourite lyricists. Also, I think I found a lot of power in all three of those people, especially in their writing since they say whatever the hell they want to say. It’s so much more freeing to do that as opposed to how I was writing with Baby Teeth. I think I was worried a lot with Baby Teeth because it was the first thing that we had ever put out and I wanted everything to be poetic and tied up nicely in a bow.

My last heavy-duty question: What legacy do you wanna leave behind?

Legacy? Oh gosh! [Laughs]. Hmm. I hope that when people listen to my music and I am long dead and in the ground that maybe they will find comfort in the fact that somebody else was totally scared as well and was a total screw up like—them. Maybe they’ll find comfort in that, I don’t know. I think the guys would all agree, I hope that we could leave that behind.

 

My last question is a little bit of a fun one. If you could be in a TV or movie universe, which one would you be in?

 

Oh, absolutely Sabrina the Teenage Witch. But I would want to be Sabrina—no I would want to be Zelda…Zelda or Hilda I think—ooh or Salem. I don’t know, anywhere in that universe!

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

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