Weyburn's own Dan Cugnet has been nominated for a SaskMusic Album of the Year award for his album 'Badlands'.

"There are a lot of great albums of all kinds of different genres of music that are in there, so it's a cool thing to be included," he commented.

He shared his inspiration for the double album.

"It was just a really diverse group of songs, and growing up on the edge of the badlands kind of between Weyburn and Halbrite and the PFRA there just seemed like a cool name for an album, and it actually started out as a song and I just liked the idea of it so much that I thought, 'I'm going to call it this' and all of a sudden an album's worth turned into two albums worth," he shared. "There's not really, I guess, an overarching theme to it, it's just a collection of a whole bunch of different songs and different topics."

He said it was fun to make and includes local stories.

"Some of them are my stories, and there's a lot of stories of other people or friends that comprise all of that, and local history, like Picking Stones is a song that's a bit of my family history of when they first showed up, and through the generations kind of touching on the last 100 and some years of the area. Another one, a song that I think's really neat is Wesley Brown, which is my Aunt Marilyn's Uncle Wes, who was on the Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and perished during the Pearl Harbor attack and kind of the story of that."

"There's lots of just different things that are some stories I grew up hearing or other stories of friends and different people too. So it was a really interesting kind of project of how it morphed and came about and neat to be included on this long list of albums of the year with SaskMusic."

He said his first albums came out during COVID, which didn't make it easy to get out and connect with people in person.

"I think it just kind of surprised people like, 'what are you doing? You're making tunes?' and the hobby sort of morphed into a bit more than that, and I think once you start to sort of do it and put it out there, too, over time, you just get on more people's radar. Just like in life, there's more connections and more relationships built over time," he noted.

While he writes his own songs, the whole music-making experience for Cugnet has been a collaborative effort.

"It's collaborative with whoever you're doing with. It's collaborative with an audience of people, right, you know? And I think when you're making anything, but especially if it's a song, you have to be just open to receiving whatever the things are that you need, to have something come out the other end," he shared. 

Cugnet said he's proud to see people performing at important community events like Communithon, and, "I'm really pumped seeing Richy Roy put a tune out. He's done so much stuff for so long, like that gets me going,  seeing other people just put themselves out there, trying something and just doing it and it's cool to see."

He said he almost came to this type of recognition by accident. 

"It's just kind of a hobby that's morphed, a little bit more over time. Which is not a bad thing at all."

Being in his 40s before making music others could be privy to, Cugnet shared, "It's not a 'the end is near' kind of thing, but I think I just approach everything with a different sense of urgency, and even since I've started doing this three or four years ago, I physically can feel my voice changing, just like my throat, my muscles, all that stuff, my range is becoming less and it's kind of like, 'okay, well, I've just got to accept that this is going to be different'. Maybe I'm not going to be able to sing it the way I can still hear it in my mind, or had I even done this five years or 10 years ago. But again, being okay with that, right? It doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be something that I do enjoy. And hopefully if I put it out there, other people are going enjoy it, too."

"The hardest part I think is just, you know, putting yourself out there." 

Cugnet said he's got some new material underway, as he has not stopped creating.

"I don't know what other people's process is, if they do it and then leave it and go away from it or whatnot, but I've just kind of had my foot to the gas pedal continually with it, so there's there's a lot of material for the foreseeable future, stuff that's either recorded being mixed in the process of being dubbed over," he shared. 

He noted he does have some dates in the works for more live shows, but he has to prioritize so that he won't miss any of his kids' sporting activities. 

"I'm hoping to do some more of the summer festival stuff that we did last year, which was a lot of fun, and a few shows down the southeast here and we've got some stuff we're lining up Regina and Saskatoon, and maybe actually out west and maybe some stuff in Alberta too, in the next 8 to 10 months."

"I think people think it's glamorous and there's lots that's fun and great about it, but it's a lot of work. I mean, you're just going from A to B and setting stuff up and you play for an hour or two hours or three hours, if you're hopefully really delivering for everybody. It takes a lot of energy to do that. So I admire the people that are doing it and making a living at it because it's a lot of work."

He thanked everyone who has shown such tremendous support for his music and the great response is much appreciated.  

Cugnet's first two albums have also received Saskatchewan Country Music Awards nominations. Read more below in the related article links.

Find the album on Apple Music and Spotify.

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