It’s official. After nearly a decade in the Yukon, Paris Pick is moving away—first to pursue music school and then to continue the trajectory of her career as an artist. It’s bittersweet: Pick came to Whitehorse from Port Hardy, B.C., at age 18, and within a few years had become one of the most-recognized and most-celebrated artists in the territory, amassing national recognition and even beginning to break into the overseas market. But now, at age 27, Pick is ready to take on the world—and the world had better be ready for her.
“Moving up here was an inspiration,” Pick said, looking back on her humble beginnings just before heading back into Jordy Walker’s studio to continue tracking vocals for her next release. “I started playing music the way I do now because of the community.”
Pick’s love for the local music and arts community was born the night she saw her first-ever concert in Whitehorse, which was a show featuring Soda Pony and Diyet van Lieshout. She remembers the latter bringing her to tears, and she knew right then that she wanted to play music. It’s interesting to hear Pick put herself back in her old shoes, as an unknown young woman who had started a new adventure in a strange place, not knowing what to expect. Anyone who knows the musicians of the Yukon knows who Pick is. With full-length albums, award nominations, national tours and international showcases under her belt, she’s also staged her own DIY festival, Greasefest, for the past few years, while helping local venues with bookings, teaching youth rock bands at summer camps, and acting as a mentor to many of the Yukon’s younger up-and-coming artists.
“It’s gonna be pretty emotional leaving,” she admitted. “But I’m also very excited and I know Whitehorse isn’t going anywhere. So I’ll be back.”
Pick is packing up at the end of the summer and is driving down to Nelson, B.C., where she’ll be pursuing a two-year diploma at Selkirk College. The decision to pursue music school was more like a revelation to Pick, which came when she was reflecting on what she wanted to do with her life while on vacation in Mexico last winter.
“I want to play music until I die,” she said. “I’m already almost there.”
Furthering her education in music seemed like the natural next step for Pick, who is a self-taught musician who wants to better understand the theoretical aspects of creating and performing music. It’s not the qualification or the piece of paper that’s important to Pick; it’s all about expanding her understanding of music.
“I’m not giving myself any expectations, but definitely just want to get more knowledge,” she said.
Landing on Selkirk College wasn’t a difficult decision, either, as several of Pick’s fellow prominent, local music-scene members are graduates of that program, including Selina Heyligers-Hare, Elijah Bekk and some of the members of Major Funk.
“Everyone knows Selena Heyligers-Hare, who was probably my biggest inspiration living here in the Yukon,” said Pick. Just seeing another female musician—she’s totally badass. And when she came back from school, we all saw a level-up in her playing and performance.”
Pick’s main act, for the past several years, has been her eponymous band, Paris Pick and the Pricks. Though she’s able to hire musicians on a touch-and-go basis, often putting together a group for whichever showcase or tour she has coming up, she’s had other long-serving members and some who have left to pursue other goals but have returned, at one point or another, too. Once she gets down to Nelson, she already has a plan to put together the newest iteration of the Pricks.
“I pretty much have a version of my band ready to go for when I get down there, because my old guitar player, Zach Pelland, lives in Cranbrook, which is just two hours away; and my old drummer, Lee Campese, is in Ymir,” said Pick. “So, I pretty much have everything I need when I get down there. And I’m sure, in school, I’ll be able to recruit a bassist in two seconds.”
Once she’s finished school, Pick has her sights set on moving to Calgary, which quickly became a favourite city of hers once she started touring, because of its energetic and supportive music community. She’s never lived in a city before, either, and thinks Calgary would be a good one to try out.
“Definitely every time I’ve played there they’ve been vibing on the Paris Pick show,” she said. “And that’s another reason why I think I’ve got to bring my band there.”
Not one to leave without a massive send-off, Pick will be hosting a going-away event at the 98 Hotel on Friday, August 12. The evening will feature a host of Yukon performers, including John From Dawson and NitPik, Clout Game, Bon Che and Joshua Gladston. Admission will be by donation at the door, with the proceeds going to help Pick along her journey to B.C. Also part of the night will be a Crocs fashion show, with prizes from local businesses being given out to those who sport the wackiest and most-creative footwear.
Though she’s leaving and doesn’t know exactly when she’ll be back, Pick is confident that the Yukon’s music scene will continue to grow and flourish without her, and she knows that no matter where she ends up, her creative upbringing in the Yukon will always be a huge part of her art and who she is.
“It feels like at this point I’ve, like, officially tapped the pool on Whitehorse,” Pick said. “I’ve played literally everything I could possibly play. And that’s great. But I want to also make sure that there’s room in the scene for, like, other people … like up-and-coming artists and performers.”
Pick will still have some company from old friends on the road trip, though.
“I pulled out my Yukon CD collection for my drive to Nelson,” she said. “I’m gonna listen to as many Yukon artists as I can on my drive down there and probably cry the whole time because I feel like this community has raised me.”To keep up with Pick, visit parispickandthepricks.com.