'Definitely not a side project': Begonia readies for first full-length album, festival circuit

Winnipeg’s Begonia hasn’t even released a full-length album yet, and they’re already selling out shows that are months away.

Begonia retreats to produce 1st album, back in full bloom this summer for festival circuit

Begonia (Alexa Dirks) performs Juniper live in the CBC Manitoba studio. 3:20

Watch Begonia perform Juniper live at CBC in the video above.

Winnipeg's Begonia hasn't even released a full-length album yet, and they're already selling out shows that are months away.

The hype around Alexa Dirks' latest project is building faster than even she expected.

Begonia started with the release of a few music videos in April 2016, and less than a year later, Dirks had a tour under her belt and a sold out EP release at the West End Cultural Centre.

But just as fast as the EP got buzz — one of its tracks recently topped CBC Radio 2's charts — Dirks is ready to make the next move.
Winnipeg’s Begonia is Alexa Dirks' full-time project right now. (CBC)

"I want to make a whole new album. I feel like these songs have had their life now," said Dirks. "Now I'm in another place, and I want to continue to grow and write new material."

So Begonia, led by Dirks and supported by a sometimes-changing lineup of local musicians, is taking just a couple of months in the studio to come up with that new album and then hitting the festival circuit.

Dirks is known for her Juno-winning work with Chic Gamine and for Courier News, a side project created in collaboration with Royal Canoe's Matt Schellenberg.

Now Begonia is everything.

"Chic Gamine — I mean, we're still all friends. We'll still make music again together in the future, but now, this is my main — this is my career," she said. "It's definitely not a side project."

Dirks' audience stretches beyond Winnipeg, where she has a well-established reputation for producing sophisticated yet accessible tracks for soul and folk-loving audiences.

A recent show in Toronto nearly sold out, a testament to the early buy-in she's getting for her new, '90s-synth-meets-R&B sound.

"I know that it's kind of a grind at the beginning, and I'm ready to travel and play for rooms with five people," said Dirks. "I don't really hold back, I guess. I wanted to start this solo endeavour, but I wanted to be able to take on more than just myself with it and write about more things than just myself."

Begonia's next Winnipeg date is at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July.