Ninety-nine Gets Smart

Ninety-nine Gets Smart
Laura MacFarlane says the universality of numbers - those numeric digits that are meaningful the world over - is why she named her foray into the international pop underground 99. "I thought that if it were a number it would be understood by people who spoke different languages," says the Australian native. "Everyone speaks the same numbers."

It didn't hurt matters, she said, that the No. 99 had different interpretations. "I didn't name it after the Maxwell Smart character, even though I think that's kind of good. I didn't really think about it much at all," MacFarlane said.

It may not be well-researched, but fixation with her numerology extends to album titles as well, as seen in recent release 767 and180° , which will be in record shops later this year. "I quite like having all the different CDs go together," said the singer/songwriter, whose solo project has evolved over the years to include a wide variety of guest musicians.

Now in the early stages of a six-month tour of North America and Europe, MarFarlane has assembled a four-member touring band that will shakes up the traditional rock format, adding vibraphone and glockenspiels to the mix. Bringing talented friends into the musical fold was one of MacFarlane's astute moves. Learning to champion quality over quantity in her songwriting was another.

"I think I learned from experience because the first CD I did, I wanted to use every single minute of it because I had never been on one before," she said. "Afterwards, I realized it was a really silly thing to do."

It occurred to her she didn't have to include every song she wrote on her albums, which are distributed in North America on Winnipeg's Endearing label. MacFarlane's own independent label, Patsy, releases 99's records in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. "A CD should make sense in itself, as a body of work. It relates to whatever you are doing at that point in time. There's always other places you can put songs onto."Ninety-nine performs May 29 as part of Exclaim/Brave New Waves Anniversattack celebrations in Winnipeg.