Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Jeffrey Popiel

photo and intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo and intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

I know what you’re thinking, and no, that is not a young Fred Penner (although he does a pretty badass cover of the Sandwich Song)! Whether performing with his band Minor Matter or shape shifting with charming solo project Juniperus, he’s definitely a Saskatoon gem and something to behold. Please meet my friend and neighbour, dairy connoisseur, potluck master, Jeffrey.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Lately I have been trying to focus on my two musical projects. One of them is a 5-piece multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre band called “Minor Matter.” We are currently refining all of our songs together, preparing for recording our debut full-length album. We aren’t performing lately for a few reasons (like parenthood for two of our members), but plan to go on tour next summer. My other project is more of a solo project, under the name “Juniperus,” with a sub-project name “The Fabulist.” This sub-project involves re-tellings of Aesop’s fables through song. It is more than just a musical project, since I have decided to add animal masks and live shadow puppetry to the show. Because I use different character voices in different songs, I came up with an idea to make it look like I am becoming those characters. I wouldn’t feel as confident to put on such a presentation without incorporating a regular stage crew; Ed Mendez is performing the shadow puppetry, and I have two accompanists on bass clarinet and/or bassoon, which is two of Adrianna Dyksman, Stephanie Unverricht, and Alyssa Thompson. Although we have already performed a couple of full crew concerts, we are also in sort of a development stage with this project; we are putting together a one-man production for the shadow puppetry (previously 3-person), and creating more masks to sing behind. The overall goal of both of these projects is to refine our presentation until we are all satisfied with every aspect of every part of the show.

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

My day job is working in a chemistry laboratory for the Saskatchewan Research Council. Some of it is fairly repetitive work, and some of it is a bit more involved. I really enjoy when I get the chance to do more complicated procedures for the sake of a challenge. There are also mindlessly repetitive tasks which I am glad to do because then I get to use my creative mind. I even finished writing the lyrics for my most recent song while doing one of these mindless tasks. The most challenging thing in the lab for me is controlling how far I go with my perfectionism; there are often times where I could be doing something more efficiently just because I am a little bit too thorough, but it is usually better than doing a half-assed job.

KC: What’s important to you?

Silence, sunlight, nutrition, certain cheeses, nut butters, bicycles, nature, explorative & artistic freedom, physical health.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

What I like most about Saskatoon is how easy it feels to be here; it’s easy to get around to most places in town. I can make it to all of the happenings and locations I am interested to be at, in a relatively short amount of time. A decent escape from the city is only a quick trip out of town. I also have defeated my ‘fear of missing out’ for most events, so am comfortable to just stay at home when I need to get something done. The winter here is restrictively motivating for at-home projects, whilst satisfying my introverted soul. The thing I like least about Saskatoon, or anywhere, really, is rush hour traffic, and how challenging it is to get around without a vehicle; waiting for the transit system isn’t the most appealing thing, especially in the winter. I cycle most places, and all year round, but Saskatoon isn’t yet as catered to cycling as it should be. All in all, it seems Saskatoon is a bit of a transportational paradox, mostly because the fun things are all so close to home.

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

My impression of Regina is a bit limited, and I would like to get to know the city a bit better somehow. I have a few friends in Regina, and I lived there for nine months while working at an especially terrible job for six of those months. I loved my experiences at the Regina Folk Festival, and the Wascana park is a very peaceful and pretty place to wander. The science centre is also one of my favourite indoor places to go. I don’t know enough about the culture in Regina, but I hear good things about the arts communities there.

(from Proust Questionnaire) What do you most value in your friends?

Consideration, reciprocity, and a decent sense of responsibility. A bit of open-mindedness and willingness for adventure is appreciated as well.