Both Ken Harrison and Roberta Carter grew up with music in their households. Born in Thailand, Harrison was the son of missionaries, and began playing the piano by the age of 10, only a few years after the family had moved to Cambridge, Ontario. Carter also began getting into music at an early age, and the two met in university in the late ’80s while both pursued medical degrees. She would later become a physiotherapist, and he’d become a doctor.
But while not in class or studying, they were holding informal jam sessions with friends, and played a few local gigs. Their first collaboration was the song “Crying Shame,” which they submitted to local radio station CFNY for its new talent search contest. Winning got the song good airplay around the city, and soon other stations picked it up elsewhere, increasing their exposure.
Harrison built his own studio, and finished up some material the two had been working on. They released their first albums themselves on DYI Records – CARVING WOODEN SPECTACLES in ’89 (which sold 3,000 copies), and GRACE in ’91. Before the end of the year, they followed it up with YAQUI WAY OF KNOWLEDGE. Nothing particularly set the world on fire, but they were loved by the critics for their new aged moody art/pop, which relied heavily on Harrison’s keyboards arrangements with Carter’s charismatic vocals.
Their fanbase steadily grew and they were getting some airplay in the GTA, and they signed a deal with A&M for BET YOU THINK I’M LONELY in the spring of 1993. “Crying Shame” was re-recorded, and along with the title track and “Life Sized Marllyn Monroe,” warranted a cross-Canada tour. The band was also nominated for a Juno for best new group.
Signing with Vancouver-based Nettwerk Records, they released HEROIN in 1995, which eventually was certified gold. Along with the title track and “Fall,” it featured a reworking of “I Don’t Want To Think About It.” The song was featured in the 1996 film, “Foxfire” and cracked the Canadian top 40, and also featured Sarah McLachlan played guitar on and appeared in the video.
QUIVER followed in ’98, along with two more singles over the next year and a half – “Trampoline” and “Pretty Lip.” Those two tracks, along with “Speak of the Devil” also marked Carter’s songwriting debut on their records. The label also added the previously-unreleased “Autour de Lucie” on its unnamed sampler CD.
A third album was in the can, and the CD single MIRROR MIRROR (previously unavailable and with four versions) was available before the end of the millennium. But continiung creative differences ended their relationship with Nettwerk, and the duo sought to go it alone once again.
As a result, TWIST was distributed through Universal in 2000. No singles were released, but along with the title track, the lead-off “Lucky Day,” featured a cover of Idle Eyes‘ “Tainted Love.”
They didn’t record again until what became the DEFORMATIVE YEARS album in 2005. More clever pop with smart arrangements, it featured “Waiting For The Future,” “Bitter,” and “When The Fever Breaks,” and was a critic’s favourite for comeback albums. Trying a new approach, they also opted not to make any videos, but instead released an extended web film of the same name, utilizing music from the album.
The duo continued doing performances now and again over the years, including all three runs of ‘Lilith Fair.’ But concentrating instead on raising a family and their medical careers, their next album wasn’t until 2013, with GO PROJECT. A maturity in their songwriting approach was evident in tracks like “Port Credit,” Union Station,” and the homey “Oakville.”
Other songs by the band have been included in the soundtracks for Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms in ’98, Stir of Echoes in ’99, and The Highwayman and Suspicious River, both in 2000, among others. Harrison and Carter have also collaborated with numerous other artists over the years, including flamenco guitarist Robert Michaels. The concept of what would become “Wrong To Let You Go” was derived when he played with Carter at Warner exec Alan Fletcher’s wedding. The song would also get a second life, when in 2001 German techno-hip hop guru DJ ATB (Andre Tenneberger) remixed it. Re-titled “Let U Go,” it reached #18 on Billboard’s dance chart and #7 on the German singles chart. They’ve subsequently worked with DJ ATB on a number of other tracks, including “Hold You,” “Dedicated,” and “Long Way Home.”