Manitoba·Video

Marti Sarbit takes a trip from Imaginary Cities to Lanikai

After Imaginary Cities went on an indefinite hiatus last year, Winnipeg’s Marti Sarbit had to decide if she was done with music for good or if she would start again, building from the ground up.

Former Imaginary Cities frontwoman building from ground up with new group

Watch Lanikai perform I'm Glad live at CBC in the video above. 4:07

Watch Lanikai perform I'm Glad live at CBC in the video above.

After Imaginary Cities went on an indefinite hiatus last year, Winnipeg's Marti Sarbit had to decide if she was done with music for good or if she would start again, building from the ground up.

The band she formed with Rusty Matyas had accomplished a lot in only a few years, on the strength of their 2011 debut album.

They booked a tour opening for the Pixies and landed on the Polaris Prize long list. Even now, after they've stopped releasing music, their tracks are being tapped for major network TV shows.

"It's been about three or four years or so of going back and forth between, 'Should I? Shouldn't I?' in terms of continuing on in music," said Sarbit. "The more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed it in my life."

So she started again, recorded a debut EP and assembled Lanikai — an alt-pop five-piece with bit of '60s soul.

"[Starting over] definitely brings you back to reality. I was so lucky with all the things that happened with Imaginary Cities," said Sarbit.

"Everything that happened with that band exceeded both [Rusty Matyas' and my] expectations, I think."

Matyas — formerly of the Waking Eyes and now playing with the Sheepdogs — was the other force behind Imaginary Cities.

But this new project is a lot more about Sarbit and, as she says, much less of a collaboration.

"[Imaginary Cities] had my voice and my sound, but it had a lot of Rusty in there," said Sarbit. "This is perhaps a little more me-focused."

Soon, Lanikai will open an album-release show for Winnipeg band Finn at The Good Will Social Club in the West End — a bit different than opening for a Pixies North American tour, but on the back of music Sarbit wrote herself.

"I'm starting this new venture in my life that's really focused on me. It's a whole new beast that I'm not used to. I'm learning a lot. It's a challenge," said Sarbit.

"When little proud moments happen, they're extra exciting to me."

You can see Lanikai on March 25 at The Good Will. 

Lanikai plays The Good Will next weekend for Finn's album release show. (Jenny Ramone Photo/Manitoba Music)

with files from CBC's Ismaila Alfa