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“The Real Shade is a band steeped in our landscape and the bands that make up Canada's sound. At the cross roads of stripped-down vintage rock and new school indie pop, you won't find a sound like theirs anywhere else.” — The Hippie Historian




The Real Shade is a Toronto-based indie-pop band known for its no-nonsense style, sweet harmonies, and well-crafted songs. The music is honest and spare, but infused with warm light and a sense of possibility.

The band—originally named “Shade”—formed in 2007 when songwriter/musician Jane Gowan moved from Vancouver to Toronto and teamed up with bassist Mary Harmer (Weeping Tile). In her Vancouver projects (Spygirl, Belinda Bruce, Neins Circa and others), Jane played played keys/trumpet/accordion and sung BGs. It was a lot of fun, but there was a desire to simplify. Starting essentially from scratch in Toronto, Jane saw the opportunity to form a lo-fi rock ’n roll group where she could sing leads and play rhythm guitar - something a la Velvet Underground/Kinks/Pretenders. The band’s style developed from there, with the organic quality and harmonic charm of Alt Country, Americana and indie folk gradually working their way into the sound. 


Horizon Diaries (2018)
One Last Show of Hearts (2011) - as “Shade”
Highway (2010) - as “Shade”


Jane Gowan (guitar, keys, lead vocals)
Gord Tough (lead guitar, vocals)
Mary Harmer (bass, vocals)
Cam Giroux (drums) and/or Tim Vesely (drums, various)


Don Kerr (drums)
Jon Wood (lap steel, guitar)
Jonny James (electric guitar)

 The Horizon Diaries band (L-R); Don Kerr, Mary Harmer, Gord Tough, Jane Gowan. Photo by  David Bastedo

The Horizon Diaries band (L-R); Don Kerr, Mary Harmer, Gord Tough, Jane Gowan. Photo by David Bastedo




An introduction to Horizon Diaries, featuring the song "Lost". 




At the cross roads of stripped-down vintage rock and new school indie pop, you won't find a sound like theirs anywhere else.

The Hippie Historian

...both the earlier and new albums have that pop sensibility seldom captured in music today.

I have heard six of the songs from Horizon Diaries and have already crowned it the best the band has created yet. You will be reading a lot about them in future columns.

– Frank Gutch Jr. *

At a point where gentle and drifting Americana meets ambient folk music and discerning indie explorations hook up with the infectiousness of pop, you find The Real Shade and songs such as Moving Gaze. It is a wonderfully lyrical creation and as part of the album Horizon Diaries forms part of a musical montage which explores all aspects of our world.

A&R Factory


...there should be a home for bands that can so consistently craft smart, crisp pop songs and as long as Shade keeps writing records like One Last Show of Hearts, herohill will proudly yell from the rooftops hoping people to listen.

– Bryan Acker, Herohill*

Through these seven songs, I get everything I could want—melodies which are good enough on their own but are made so much better by the harmonies—songs perfectly fitted to Gowan's perfect/imperfect voice.

– Frank Gutch Jr., Rock and Reprise

...a lovely warm tone and a bit of a vintage feel.

– Tiana Feng, Ride the Tempo

...unexpected hues and intricate instrumental weaves...a smart and witty playfulness

– Jim Di Gioia, Quick Before it Melts

…créative et accrocheuse…très bonnes chansons qui méritent une écoute attentive.

– 500 khz 


This one’s a no-brainer – listen to Highway.

Canadian Musician Showcase

...Not one note on this compact 10-song, 36-minute record feels forced and that is very, very rare these days.

– Bryan Acker, Herohill

Highway... is a gem. There is something very refreshing and unpretentious about the album and Gowan’s songwriting, as simple as it is, is outstanding in that simplicity.

– Frank Gutch Jr., Segarini: Don't Believe a Word I Say

...a surprisingly strong, original effort...professional as hell.

–Todd Sikorski, Skope Magazine

Gowan's lyrics are genuine and real. The music is both polished and raw, as well-produced indie music ought to be.

–Chris Menezes, Suite 101.com


Music, Canadiana, and Everything in Between: An Interview with Jane Gowan of The Real Shade
The Hippie Historian, September 9, 2018

Catching Some Rays with Jane Gowan
Jimmy Rae, Skope Magazine, April, 2011

Nine Questions with Jane Gowan
Interview with Trevor Rogers, Nine Questions for Musicians (2011)

To contact us, please email "band @ the real shade dot com"

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