Ace of Wands
Photo: Sara May

Formed by artist Lee Rose, Toronto trio Ace of Wands creates music with an expressive and lush mix of sounds and genres to construct their own compelling style of “dream rock”. They’ve just released their latest single, “Desiring You”, a fast-paced, riff-forward alt-rock song with captivating vocals. We caught up with Lee Rose to chat about the new song, how the band started, and what first made her want to become a musician.

From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “Desiring You”.

Lee Rose: This track really exemplifies where Ace of Wands is going as a band. Since our last record, ‘Lioness’, our songs have gotten progressively more dynamic, intricate, and intense. “Desiring You” hits all these marks. The song also demonstrates some of the changes I’ve gone through in my mental health over the last few years. It is a song about seeing clearly through desire, and without self-judgement, letting go of hurtful things.

FTS: How did Ace of Wands get its start?

Lee Rose: The band started after I got back from a life changing tour opportunity that I had in January 2017. I had been asked to play violin for Ron Hawkins and The Do Good Assassins on their cross country tour opening for Blue Rodeo, and it was my first big tour. Musically, I was feeling very lost at the time and unsure if I wanted to pursue music at all. While I had played in bands for years prior, my main project had broken up not long before. But when we started the tour, the feeling of playing for thousands of people every night sparked in me a kind of fervour to start writing and performing. I needed to re-capture the intensity I felt on tour and starting a band felt like the only way. At the same time, I was experiencing a catastrophic period of depression, and music felt like the only escape from that despair. Ace of Wands really saved me. It helped me find my voice as a musician and helped me find a way to start healing.

FTS: Your songs have such a beautiful mix of genres and styles, pairing classical and modern so seamlessly. What’s your songwriting process, and is it difficult to incorporate all of these elements?

Lee Rose: Thank you! I feel like my classical training as a violinist must impact how I form song structures, but I don’t actively think about it when I’m writing. Where I feel it most, is in how I write counter melodies. I’m really interested in how different rhythms and melodies swirl around each other to build tension. Wide ranging dynamics are important to my song writing to convey the emotion in the lyrics.

Generally, when I write a song it starts with a melody/chord progression on either the guitar or the violin. Depending on how fully formed that melody is, I’ll write lyrics to that, or begin layering parts in my DAW to create a fully formed song. When I take it to the band, Anna (guitar) and Jody (drums), add their own parts based on minimal direction from me. Once we get into the rehearsal space it’s a very collaborative process.

FTS: What first made you want to be a musician? Was it a song, an artist, or just an undeniable pull to make music?

Lee Rose: I think I first knew I wanted to be a performer when I realized I could sing. I had this moment at a middle-school audition for a musical, where I was given a solo, and something clicked in my brain about my value on a stage. After that, I started practicing and experimenting and eventually going to music school and playing in different bands, getting inspired by other performers. But when I knew I wanted to be a musician was when Ace of Wands became a band. Because it is a full expression of me, it feels like my whole heart is open and on stage with me. It feels like floating. The practice of revealing who I am through music feels like the ultimate call to musicianship to me.

FTS: What are some under-the-radar Canadian bands or artists you love, and want to share with our readers?

Lee Rose: Right now, I am very inspired by Toronto bands Zinnia, Gloin, and By Divine Right. All these bands are making very different music, but there is an authentic intensity I can feel from all of it. That’s always what I am trying to achieve with Ace of Wands, so it is inspiring to see in others.

Check out “Desiring You”, the latest single from Ace of Wands!