Pride: Making a difference through song

Kind of like a band that's "huge in Europe" but obscure in North America, North Vancouver music duo and married couple Marlee Walchuk and Tully Callender of Sugarbeach are celebrities in the gay community.

After playing eight shows in little over a week for the Vancouver's gay pride events and the 2011 Outgames, Sugarbeach is headlining the Royal City Pride Party in Tipperary Park on Saturday Aug. 13 from 1 to 5 p.m.

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Unlike most pride events the two play at around the world, the smaller scale and close-tohome show provides Sugarbeach a chance to offer a lot more to fans and first-time listeners.

"We've got a 45 minute slot in which we can put in a good chunk of our originals - songs we hardly ever get to do unless we're doing a long show," Walchuk said.

The couple are also planning to do some crowd-pleasing covers, but which ones, they haven't nailed down yet.

Playing in the Lower Mainland also means the musicians can add more to their performances that long-distance travel prohibits.

"It's also fun to be able to add lots of different instruments as well instead of deciding which one we're going to put on the plane," Callender added.

Pinning down the band's sound isn't easy. It's largely upbeat and motivational, yet stirring.

"Somebody once described us as 'electroni-lesbi-pop.' We thought that was quite funny at the time," Walchuk said, though not entirely agreeing with the label. "Dance-pop-rock, if we can narrow it down a lot."

And like a lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists, it's almost as much about the message as it is about the music. Walchuk and Callender write songs directed at the gay community where their fans are but the message is meant to reach out to straight listeners as well.

"Almost everything we write certainly has a gay twist. If we write a love song, we try to make it clear that we're singing woman to woman. The purpose of what we do is also to get LGBT content out into the world," Walchuk said. "It's not just for us to sell some downloads. We want to make a bit of a difference in the gay community - just making it more 'normal' for lack of a better word.

"We wouldn't be making a difference if we did it the other way. We'd just be writing what everybody out writes. When straight people heard it, they wouldn't learn anything," she added.

Callender said the music should also resonate with the LGBT community's youngest members as well.

"We want to do it for young people, particularly, so young people who are gay and not able to relate to mainstream music can say, 'Wow, these people are the same as me,'" she said.

To hear Sugarbeach in studio and on stage, visit their website or, a site the two launched to show 24-hour, streaming music videos featuring gay artists from around the world.

And like the very catchy song they wrote for the 2011 Outgames says, "Come on out and play."

For more information, see

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