A soulful singer pays homage to the Motown Records sound each week. She meets a sound engineer and multi-instrumentalist in a basement bar. The result: Imaginary Cities – yet another band with a big sound unearthed from Winnipeg’s fertile music scene – is born.

Marti Sarbit, one-half of Imaginary Cities, recalls this serendipitous meeting. “Rusty [Matyas]

“This record definitely has more of an orchestral sound. We are really proud of it.” – Marti Sarbit of Imaginary Cities

came up to me between sets,” she says. “We ended up singing a song together. We had a really good time and the rapport was great. Awhile later, I asked if he would help me with some other songs I was working on. We ended up recording ‘Say You,’ which became the first song on Temporary Resident. From there, we couldn’t help but continue.”

Next up in the duo’s evolution was finding a name. Sarbit says their first thought was Sparrow or Old Sparrow, but legal reasons prevented them from adopting this moniker. In a rush to come up with an identity, she searched for inspiration amongst the dusty book jackets in her parents’ basement – enlisting her dad for help.

“We saw one book called Imaginary Beings and another called Invisible Cities,” she says. “I called

Where the first record was a blend of different styles, with Fall of Romance the duo has found their sound

Rusty right away and said, ‘These sound cool, should we somehow use one of these?’ We both liked the result when we combined these two titles together and felt it was big enough to match our sound.”

Imaginary Cities released its debut (Temporary Resident) in 2011 to critical acclaim. After an exhausting touring schedule in 2012 that included sharing the stage for nine straight weeks with The Pixies, the pair returned to the studio. The result, Fall of Romance, dropped at the end of May, and shows the band’s musical maturity. Where the first record was a blend of different styles, with their sophomore offering the duo has found their sound – grand and atmospheric indie-pop, laced with haunting harmonies.

The bed tracks for Fall of Romance were laid down in Winnipeg. Imaginary Cities then journeyed to Vancouver to record the remainder of the songs, over the course of three weeks, with Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara).

“This record definitely has more of an orchestral sound,” says Sarbit. “We are really proud of it. I hope people like it as much as we do. I even find myself listening to it, which is not something I usually do… it’s pretty exciting.” – DAVID McPHERSON

Track Record

  • Temporary Resident was long-listed in 2011 for the Polaris Music Prize
  • It also won a 2011 Western Canadian Music Award for Best Pop Album of the Year.
  • Imaginary Cities’ TV credits include Degrassi, Less Than Kind, and MTV Tough Love


Publisher: Downtown/Imaginary Cities
Discography: Temporary Resident (2011), Fall of Romance (2013)
Visit www.imaginarycities.ca
SOCAN Members since 2002 (Matyas), 2010 (Sarbit)