Tuesday 28 November 2023

Combine The Victorious Gives Us A Bright Single

 Our latest single got a brilliant feature write up on Buzzslayers.com today! 

In the new release from Combine the Victorious, the band delivers a lush set of textures and a ton of character for you to latch onto and get down with coupled with a colorful approach and an almost youthful energy that brings on a pop-rock undertone, but a reggae rhythm and those two attributes come together with such a smooth and seamless feel that this track is completely addicting from beginning to end.

"I Really Like Your Style" will get you moving straight away and if you're driving along in the car listening to the tune, you'll start shaking your butt in your seat in no time because that groove is undeniable, and you can tell from listening to the song that the band had an amazing time playing it down.

What's more, is that the energy that's delivered on this track has the vibe of a live performance to it, almost like the players are feeding off of each other's energies the entire time.

Maybe these were recorded live on the floor. I can't be sure about that of course, however either way this track definitely makes you want to see them live because if the energy is like this in the recording, then in a live performance it's got to be amazing.

A lot about this song has a very positive persona and that is something that I've kind of missed in music for quite some time.

When you're done with the song you kind of feel good and listening to the song feels good as well so it's something that you can really enjoy, and I feel like it's also good for everyone.

It's got a certain kind of relatability to it that makes you feel like you know the band better afterwards.

I know, that sounds kind of strange I guess but it's just how it is. These guys pull off such a massive character and such a short time span that you fall right in love with the whole thing and immediately want to find out more about them.

The guitar tone and arrangement of the song are all really spot on and it delivers this sort of shine and presence that has the ability to sort of wrap itself around you and keep you right where it wants to.

The track truly lets you get washed away with the soundscape and sort of Escape into it for a little bit which I loved as well.

I like songs that you can escape into and let it just take over your mind for a moment of time.

I feel like that's what some music is really for honestly.

You can tell there was some great attention to detail in the songwriting and likely the recording of this song but it never loses that heart or character that it started off with in the first place so the message is loud and clear by the end of the track.

I would definitely be paying attention to this band and what they might be coming out with next because I'm sure it's going to be something well worth your time just as this song is.

Pop this song on in the living room, turn it up, and dance around because it's a damn good time.

Remember where you heard it first.


from buzzslayers.com

Friday 6 October 2023

New today "I Really Like Your Style"

 It is really exciting to release this single today! This is the first song we've written with our new guitarist (and longtime friend) Daniel Clement. I Really Like Your Style is a slight departure from the trip-hop inspired songs of the past few years. We start out with a kind of homage to that sound but then quickly shift into a more uplifting reggae influenced sound that builds to a charming chorus filled with Isabelle's lifting melody. 

This song has been brewing in the background for a while now but truly came to life when we shared it with Dan. The addition of the guitar changed everything about our approach and the song transformed into the shape we have today. During the past months one day in rehearsal Dan and I were jamming on a descending riff and then Isabelle popped into the studio and sang the line "Is this everything you wanted." I was so surprised by that melody and the lyric I knew we had to incorporate it into the song. I had been needlessly concerned that the song was "too poppy" and wouldn't fit in with what we were doing elsewhere, but with the slower moody intro I felt we could transition between the lounge feel of say Crazy Story into the uplifting chorus of I Really Like Your Style. With that the arrangement was complete. We only needed to finish the recording. 

My other project, Headlong Hearts, has also been recording songs at the studio and one weekend we had Matt Brain over from SSI. I asked Matt to add a swinging jazzy drum part to the intro and the middle eight and it completely made the moments work.  Then we asked out pal Greg Hanberry to bring his congas to the studio and he laid down a brilliant groove. Everything was almost done except I was doubting the sampled strings I'd put down for the intro. Thankfully our friend, the virtuoso violinist Johanna Sö came back to Vancouver and she laid down a couple tracks to really bring the first section to life. It's incredible what a difference the real thing can make! 

The last stage was probably the most challenging and that was to make the entire thing sound right! It took many mixes and masters but I am quite pleased now with how it's all turned out. Please give it a listen and if you like it feel free to share with the world!

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Mark Henning

Artwork and graphic design by Robert Edmonds.

Listen Here

Saturday 26 August 2023

Next single is coming soon!

 We are excited to release our next song, "I Really Like Your Style." This will be the first song we have written with our new guitarist Daniel Clement. It's been a bit of a journey getting this one together.

 It started as a completely different song back in 2021 with now only the chorus line remaining the same. Originally I had written a completely different lyric for the verses but they were not working for me on review a year later. So early 2023 we abandoned the old arrangement and began the version we will be releasing.

Isabelle took over writing the lyric for the entire song, and thanks to a lucky moment while we were rehearsing we unveiled a totally new intro for the song. I have been consciously attempting to keep our ideas in a certain tempo and mood in hopes of creating a unified collection of material for a full length release. Well "I Really Like Your Style" has turned into a happier song, with a strong lean into reggae for influence in the chorus. The introduction is a strangely satisfying nod to our trip-hop influenced tracks, with a dramatic chromatic descending string line all suddenly morphing into the main song. It's a trick we haven't attempted before but I think works to great effect. 

 Our resident graphic artist and all around superior human being Robert Edmonds has created another cover art for the single and we should have it ready for release but end of September. A video must be created but we haven't even started on that yet! 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the recording of this single: Johanna Sö (JoSö World) - violin,  Matthew Brain (live jazz drums), Greg Hanberry (congas), Daniel Clement (guitar), Isabelle Dunlop (vocals of course!) with me programming the drums, keys and bass guitar. 


Monday 27 February 2023

New video! "Rushes Over Me"

 We are pleased to announce the completion of another video, Rushes Over Me. This video was born from an idea of Isabelle's, wherein we would look up headlines from the earlier parts of our lives and combine them with images of us. It seems to say these are the events that have rushed over us in the past decades. One of the interesting things about combining the two elements is how many historical events have transpired since we were born. 

The performance elements were shot in the Boutique Empire studio in East Vancouver. I blacked out the walls to give us the infinite background and then had each of us "perform" our parts for the camera. Thank you once again to Daniel Clement for his guitar sync Felix Taylor for the trumpet (on record as well video), Greg Hanberry for the congas (and percussion on record) as well as Leigh Grant for the always powerful drumming. 

Isabelle has done some of her best work this past year and this song is another great moment on tape, and now video. Her voice has solidified and her ideas have expanded and Rushes Over Me is a wonderful culmination of the two. 

Rushes Over Me - Combine the Victorious 

Produced by Boutique Empire

Directed and edited by M R Henning, Camera operators: Henning, Isabelle Dunlop

On video:

Isabelle Dunlop - vocals

Mark Roland Henning - bass 

Daniel Clement - guitar

Felix Taylor - trumpet

Greg Hanberry - congas

Leigh Grant - drums

©2023 CombinetheVictorious

Thursday 26 January 2023

Rushes Over Me

 First reviews are all positive so that's a good sign. Here's hoping we land a couple big playlists with this single. If you are into it please have a listen on which is your preferred streaming site and add the song to a playlist. Those couple of things help us get into the patterns of the algorithm and may even get us approved for an official Spotify editorial playlis.

If you haven't yet please listen to Rushes Over Me! 

Click hear to listen

Monday 9 January 2023

Next single out Jan 25th!

 We are pleased to announce that our next single will be released worldwide on January 25th 2023. Rushes Over Me combines the dark moodiness of trip-hop with 90's inspired shoe-gaze and features the trumpet of Felix Taylor. 

Words and Music: Combine the Victorious (Dunlop/Henning)

Produced and recorded by Mark Henning

Vocals - Isabelle Dunlop

Bass, guitar, keyboards: Mark Henning

Drums: Leigh Grant

Percussion: Greg Hanberry

Trumpet: Chad "Felix" Taylor

Wednesday 16 November 2022

We have a gig! Combine at Lana Lou's Dec 1st

 After several years off the stage we are now booked to perform as the opener for The Aleatonics album release party December 1st at Lana Lou's

Isabelle and I are rehearsing for our first show on stage in many years. Joining us is our long time friend Daniel Clement on guitar. We shall be debuting a few brand new songs and of course our latest single "Crazy Story." 

Speaking of Crazy Story, it's a pleasure to announce it has crossed 11 thousand plays on Spotify. The song has been added to a few popular playlists and it seems to be our most popular track to date. We are happy about that! 

Our next single Rushes Over Me is about to be mastered and we need to figure out some kind of video for it next. 

Many things happening right now and it's all feeling fun again!

Thanks for reading, and hope you can make it down to Lana Lou's on Thursday December 1st!

Monday 10 October 2022

Another single coming

 2022 has been a prolific year for us, I think the reality of Isabelle's recent health issue has really put us in the mindset to focus in on what counts. And it seems that music is essential to both of us! 

At the start of 2021 I took over the former studio of Ryan Dahle in the East Van Song City building. I spent all my free time last year in the studio working on ideas. We have now been choosing from those songs and finalizing them. We Are Not Alone was the first one we finished because that one was almost the last song we wrote.  Crazy Story was the last song we wrote and it came together almost instantly, however it did take me months to figure out a part and learn how to tune a piano!

The next song we're putting out is titled Rushes Over Me and is another from the group of songs we started last year. I pursued a series of trip hop type experiments and really invested into that darker groovy sound. Rushes Over Me started from a field recording of the air conditioning units and traffic noise from Powell Street.I based the vibe off that and wrote a super dub style track over top of it.

Next we listened together and Isabelle immediately came up with a vocal line. I didn't understand what she had done at first and was confused by her choices. However in light of several great moments in our past I decided to not change her idea but figure out what wasn't working over mine. An illuminating moment and certainly the moment of big change in the song. The chorus arrived with a major chord change. Very cool. Can't wait to play it for you.

We are working on it now and I think have it close to done. Just reviewing the mix and pondering percussion. Out in November. 

Thanks for reading and listening!


p.s. thanks to our new listeners on Spotify, welcome if you're reading this for the first time!

Thursday 22 September 2022

Crazy Story - Earshot Song of the Day

 We are really happy that our song "Crazy Story" was chosen as song of the day for the Earshot Distribution System.


We hope all of Canada starts listening to this one soon! 

Thanks Earshot!

Monday 12 September 2022

Official video release; Crazy Story

We are proud to announce our latest single "Crazy Story," official release date is Sept 14th, 2022

Label: Boutique Empire, catalog number BE22052

The video below was filmed mostly at the Boutique Empire studio here in East Vancouver. There are a few segments that were videod around Vancouver, including a moment of live performance that was captured at the Isabelle Dunlop Clothing store on Main Street this spring.  Thanks to Seam McFarland for his camera work on that.  The rest of the clip features a heavily kaleidoscopic looking piano, the old Baldwin upright I inherited from my dearly departed and always missed friend Todd Simko. That piano took up a big part of the personality of this song and though it is quite a tricky thing to get or keep in tune it is very inspiring!

Have a look and please let us know what you think of the song and video. We have been submitting our new singles to radio so if you have the will please try requesting it at a local station that might play such music.

Monday 5 September 2022

New Artwork! Crazy Story

 Our dear friend, the always brilliant and affable Robert Edmonds, has created this artwork for our new single "Crazy Story".

Crazy Story - Combine the Victorious - Robert Edmonds artwork

The artwork was inspired from a random top-of-her-head thought that Isabelle dropped in the middle of telling us a funny story while we sat in front of Cascade in the sunshine having a pint. Rob caught it and came up with this. I can't wait to print t-shirts.

Thank you once again Rob Edmonds!! We love it!

The single drops on Sept 14th 2022.

Thursday 11 August 2022

New single - Crazy Story

Crazy Story
is one of the last songs that Isabelle and I wrote together over the winter. In 2021 we created an album's worth of material which we are this year putting together to release one song at a time. Our Love Is Stronger than some Crazy Story is probably the best collaboration the two of us have done since we began writing together in 2006! 


In the Autumn of 2021 I was determined to create either a new song or at least a new loop everytime I went into the studio without a client. I had been studio maintenance and fixing things one afternoon and hadn't really done any creative work that day. However I had been listening to random songs on Spotify while I was cleaning up and I got inspired by the vibe of one song. Rather than simply copy it - which is of course illegal - I challenged myself to create something that felt similar but wasn't actually the same. It all started with a kick drum pattern honestly.  From there the beat came together pretty effortlessly and then a sort of skank guitar part was added with a descending line.  I doubled that with a keyboard part and an acoustic and it felt pretty good. Next I just grabbed my bass and played this looping bassline over and over until I found something that locked in. It's a bit different for me as it never really changes but it does suggest chord changes without actually laying them out directly.  I saved the session and went away for a gig with my folk band Headlong Hearts up in Powell River that weekend.

When we next came into the studio the following Monday I mentioned that I had a new idea to Isabelle and she said she too had something: a little voice memo she'd made on the weekend. I opened the song up and just copy and pasted my loop several times so she'd have something to sing over. I couldn't believe how well the two ideas went together as Isabelle had not heard my idea at all yet her vocal line fit perfectly with it! I was incredibly excited at the two ideas fitting together. 

The last piece of the puzzle turned out to be my piano part. I have a small upright piano in the studio that I inherited from my friend Todd Simko after his death. It's a quirky little Baldwin piano, and sadly it had fallen out of tune quite badly over the decade from being moved several times.  It became a project for me to learn how to tune and I boldly made the decision to bring it up to A440 tuning (which it hadn't been for well over 15 years at least!). This proved a very challenging decision as I truly didn't know how to tune a piano and even though I could get it close in the evening by the morning the entire thing had drifted out again! I kept this up for nearly three months, each time getting different parts of the piano closer to being in tune but sadly never locking it up.  I did however discover that I was learning how to properly tune a piano by this time and took advantage of the time in front of the keyboard to figure out some nice piano lines.  I think it was around late June that I recorded something that didn't make me jump out of my skin from tuning issues!  The sound on the record is from back in July when I spent an afternoon doing takes and asking Isabelle's opinion of various lines. I'm rather proud of what we came to put together, probably the first time I've performed a piano part for the full length of a song! 

The lyrics seem to have come from life itself as Isabelle had been diagnosed with breast cancer this winter. "Our love is stronger than some crazy story" just seemed so significant in light of her situation and her vocals are probably the best I've ever heard her sing.  And what makes things even better is that in August she has successfully passed through chemotherapy and surgery and is well on her way back to full strength! She is indeed stronger than some crazy story! 

This song lines up with several other down tempo tracks that we recorded over the past year. I think it will be an important part of our repertoire for years to come and serve as a beautiful introduction to Combine the Victorious for a lot of new listeners.  Please let us know what you think when you give it a listen!

Monday 20 June 2022

July 8th - We Are Not Alone (New Single)


Isabelle and I are very excited to release our next single. We Are Not Alone was initially inspired from a day spent on the water whale watching last September as part of a birthday present for Isabelle! While we where out there the magnitude of the animals in the water, and the sheer vastness of the ocean all around us and the seemingly infinite horizon really made an impression on me. Perhaps this was due to spending so much time inside over the past couple covid years. 

As our ferry returned from Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver slowly began to appear as a tiny dot on the shoreline I was hit again with the scale of the world and how self absorbed I had been over the past decades. All my life was contained in a dot on the horizon and seemed so huge while we were there. Yet the moment we left the city the whole world began to filter into my consciousness. After getting back that weekend Isabelle and I went into the studio and We Are Not Alone was born. 

Peter Gabriel has been a big personal favourite of mine from his first solo album (I wasn't as big a Genesis fan as I was of his solo output). A few summer's back I rediscovered his records and was really re-impressed with the moods and style of those first three. I think the most obvious inspiration on our song is the big low single-note piano bass with its heavy chorus effect. That helped set the tone and stateliness of the song. As with many of our songs I programmed a drum part to run the length of the tune. However as soon as the arrangement took shape I knew I had to get my pal Leigh Grant to drum on it.

Leigh and I go back to Pure days together and he's been kind enough to play on several Combine songs over the years. He brought his trusty Gretsch kit into the Boutique Empire studio and we spent a very efficient day tracking on We Are Not Alone and another song which shall soon see the light of day. 


Replacing the programmed drums with Leigh's drumming was quite the energy shift but I will add that Chad "Felix" Taylor's trumpet really sealed the deal! Felix came in one night back in February and we had a blast building up a horn section for the outro of the song.  He was replacing some rather dodgy horn samples I had put in to give the direction and as this is the very first time we've added live brass to a song I am overwhelmed by the energy his playing added. Certainly something I will want to do again!

In a funny side note I did also squeeze in the same brass section sample that I'd played on Pure "Spiritual Pollution" back in 1992.  It was a bit hit or miss that the Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler would still boot up (and it didn't manage to read a couple of the first syquest drives I tried) but the venerable floppy disk came through in the end. Maybe it's silly but I think there might be some magic to those sounds and I'm glad that sound made it onto the song. (I believe they were the absolute final bit of recording for the single).  

We Are Not Alone was mixed right here at the Boutique Empire studio and wonderfully mastered by this space's former occupant Ryan Dahle over at his new studio on Mayne Island. His analog approach really shined up the song and I'm very pleased with his work. 

If you've made it this far into the post then perhaps you can do us one more thing. Below are pre-save links for the single. If you use one of the streaming sites below please click thru and pre-save the song into your library. It apparently helps greatly with the algorithm and enhances out chances of being offered for more popular playlists. Plus it ensures you get to hear our new track!  

Thanks for reading and hope you like the song and video on July 8th!