Public Records, a Canadian non-profit organization that helps emerging musicians, has partnered with TELUS to offer a $5000 grant to create a music video this summer. Not only will the grant cover the production costs for a video, but Public Records will support the musician and filmmakers with the needed training as well. The grant is applicable to musicians and filmmakers located in 15 communities throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
It’s been around two weeks since the Waldorf Productions officially closed their doors. Now under the name Working Title, the team is currently seeking a new home, while we all search for another venue to fill the sudden cultural void.
Public Records had their beta launch party at the Waldorf back in August 2011, holding the venue dear to our hearts. To help keep the memories alive we have assembled stories from some of our favourite local artists, who all agree, it’s a historic place we’re going to miss.
“I played there with Great Aunt Ida a year or two ago. I really liked the sort of mini theatre/cabaret sort of feeling of the stage. It felt more special than just some bar show.” - Jonathan Anderson, Founder of Buena Vista Audio
“As Faust drummer Werner Diermaier droned away with his precise tom-heavy blows, bassist and krautrock-pioneer Jean-Hérve Péron, leapt off stage during “Sunshine Girl,” grabbed his angle grinder, and proceeded to chip away at the sides of a rotating cement mixer, sending brilliant streams of hot white light through the air and over the heads of the enamored crowd. I’d never seen anything like this at any venue before, nor could I have imagined that I’d be seeing such an incredible, historically significant band play in Vancouver, at such a cool location, for so cheap. It was definitely an unforgettable experience that I’m endlessly grateful to the Waldorf for making possible.” -Jensen Gifford, We Are Phantoms Again and Googly Eyes Collective
“I saw In Medias Res. My favourite thing about the night was seeing guitarist Ash Poon shred in real life. That guy is a genius. “ - Reagan Cole Mclean, Boreal Sons
“I have to say it’s one of my favourite venues that I’ve been to in Vancouver. Very intimate and introduced me to one of my favourite bands of 2012 – Snowblink. I wish there was a venue like this in Calgary.” - Josh Daignault, Wake Owl and Jordan Klassen
“It’s too bad about the Waldorf. Unfortunately the older baby-boomer generations are more interested in selling each other cheap condos to make marginal profits rather than ensure future generations have a culture or creative outlets. I think my favourite time there was the Music Waste band-o-rama that went on last June. Watching the B-Lines closing out the night was a beautifully chaotic sight.” - Joel McDonald, Crystal Swells
“Whenever I think of the Waldorf I always think of the New Pornographers video for ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno.’ That Tiki bar is a far cry from the glass condos that one might associate with a video ‘shot in Vancouver.’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDUHJNVjpS0 - Chris Kelly, Analog Bell Service and CBC Radio
“The thing that was so unique about the Waldorf was the ‘open floor plan’ concept, that is, you paid your cover and then had the choice of which party you wanted to attend. In one room you would have your upper middle class martini sipping minglers having compelling conversations about Danish furniture, and down the hall you’d have a full-gloom full-makeup full-vinyl gothic themed night (a.k.a. bad haircut night). It wasn’t unusual for some adventurous partygoers to make the bold choice to become a tourist. One weekend my band was opening for this pagan-folk band from Brooklyn who had a reputation for having a very aggressive stage presence. I remember saying to my band mate, ‘some tourist is going to get an ear-full tonight.’ Wasn’t I right! But not from the headliners as expected but from the opener, a five-foot nothing blonde with a cacophonous noise machine and a voice like a bedridden Linda Blair. Two women, wearing expensive shoes and holding expensive handbags, had wandered in from another event and were having a great time snickering at this ‘awful little thing,’ screaming over what sounded like the soundtrack to revelations. Everyone in the room knew what was coming before it even happened. Instantly the performer spotted these whispering snickering creatures and latched onto them like a hyena on rotten meat. Oh what a treat to see a couple of dilettantes get the old nose to nose vitriol treatment and then scurry away, mortified, knowing that this time they were the outsiders not we!!” - Phillip Intile, Mode Moderne
One Last Time! featuring CR Avery, Geoff Berner, Travis Bernhardt, Hannah Epperson, Hess Hill, Shane Koyczan, Maria in the Shower, The Tailor
@ The Waldorf Hotel, January 16
by Stephanie Kamakas
Members of Vancouver’s art community gathered in the downtown east side Wednesday night to celebrate the Waldorf Hotel one last time. The hotel’s cabaret hosted a line-up of performances ranging from music to magic tricks. The farewell event brought this tight-knit community together to honour the beloved cultural landmark, as well as to protest its controversial closing.
Since its opening in 1947, the Waldorf has become a cultural hub of art, music, dance and food. After Waldorf Productions took over operations in 2010 it was transformed into a cultural centre. Its Tiki bar and event spaces are home to a unique and diverse programming - ice cream socials, jazz guitar nights, and local talent nights, to name a few. The Black and Yellow art gallery upstairs and the Studio (which provides vintage recording gear for musicians) provide an outlet for emerging artists and musicians to develop their craft and have their work displayed to the public. These artistic resources, along with the Musician-In-Residence program, which offers residence and free studio access to talented musicians, make the Waldorf a hotbed of creativity and new talent.
Despite its immense popularity, the Waldorf Hotel, as we know, has shut down and recently been sold to a developer. The public responded with petitions, protests and lots of social media buzz. The strong reaction has lead to overwhelming efforts to prevent the buildings transformation into a condominium complex. As the fight to keep the Waldorf a cultural centre continues, the fate of the aging building remains unclear. However, one thing is certain; the community of artists that makes the building come alive will never be demolished, a fact that resonated throughout the venue Wednesday night.
Wednesday night’s performances made for an eclectic line-up of musicians, poets, comedians and magicians. Each act was uniquely passionate, as patrons struggled to let go of their beloved venue, while still maintaining hope. Travis Bernhardt struck an entertaining balance of magic and comedy as he performed crowd-interactive magic tricks. Singer/Songwriter Geoff Berner passionately protested the rise in condo developments through his humorous lyrics and offbeat accordion music. Other musical acts, including Maria in the Shower and Jess Hill, were fine representations of the diverse performances the venue is best known for.
The only noise coming from the crowd was laughter and applause between acts. But one act stood out from the others, bringing the crowd to near silence. Shane Koyczan captured the audience through his rhythmic poetry and remarkable ability to articulate his personal emotions while simultaneously evoking the emotions of the audience. He spoke of life, death, love, and the pain of letting go. His words resonated with the crowd as they reflected on their memories of the Waldorf. The quiet reflection of the audience and thoughtful metaphors from Koyczan reminded us all of our own mortality and the importance of appreciating life. For his final piece, Koyczan was joined by musician Hannah Epperson on violin, in a beautiful duet of music and poetry.
A strong sense of camaraderie set the tone for the night, creating a calm and positive atmosphere. The night was a success in bringing together a diverse community of artists to say goodbye to a place that brought them so much inspiration and so many memories.
Good music is always more than the sum of its fragmented parts and operates like poetry, giving every drop of life from inner reserve and offering a special invitation to a state of sentimental flux. Community Trees is an instrumentally driven, six-piece band from Coquitlam that achieves such a state of ambiguous romanticism. Like a nomadic transient, Community Trees’s soulful debut album, flo., takes the listener on a Canadian cross-country travelwithout a fixed destination in mind. The band has an amazing ability to translate deep personal experiences into an expressive blend of folk vocal melodies, ambient strings and even thunderous tribal beats.
All members of the band - Braeden Vanderzalm, Gel Bernardo, Zay Brignall, Sam Naso, Corbin Vanderzalm and Tony Malerba - mesh together with their exhilarating entanglement of voices. To heighten the senses, their music washes over the listener like a form of meditation. Community Trees speak a language of compassion, soothing the mind as though pushed into a spiritual awakening.
A perfect example is “Winter Skies,” where the lead vocals of Vanderzalm and Bernardo weave in and out of the track’s blissful melodies. The piece praises the winter skies and is best heard with eyes closed. Situated in darkness with no distractions, the band brings warmth and a cosmic compatibility between darkness and light. The band’s ability to create this unconscious, harmonious feeling, makes flo. an otherworldly album worth experiencing.
Interviewed by Seana Stevenson Photography by Katie Hovland
The Flatliners have been playing music together for ten years. After forming in high school the band began touring by age 17 and were signed to Fat Wreck Chords at 19. Now at 25, The Flatliners spend most of their lives on the road, connecting with fans and playing the music they love. We talked to frontman Chris Creswell about feeling “like an old man at the ripe age of 25,” meeting Fat Mike for the first time and the band’s new, “more concentrated” upcoming album.
Public Records: You guys have been playing together since you were teenagers, how has that influenced the way you play and create music? How do you avoid getting sick of each other after so long?
Chris Creswell: Knowing each other for so long, and especially for a long period of time before we even started the band, has served both as our secret weapon and also the reason for a plethora of brotherly misunderstandings. We all know each other very well, which can be both perfect for a heavy touring schedule and also a very frustrating thing!
It’s really interesting to see how we’ve all grown as people, and as musicians. In a way, we’ve grown up on record, and we’ve done it all together. I believe it’s to the point now where it’s much easier to tell what each other is thinking. And that makes the songwriting process very fun and interesting. It’s truly a group effort, and we’re all at the same level.
PR: What was it like gaining attention at that young of an age?
CC: At the time it was great, and we really didn’t keep in mind much that we were so young. We were just finally doing what we had wanted to do for years: be in a band and be on tour. We met a lot of great people right off the bat who we still call our friends today. It was immediately easy to see the community and camaraderie in this thing when the bands that were bringing us on tour were bands we’d been fans of for years. And they stuck their necks out for us on the road, took us under their wings and showed us how to do this.
We’re forever grateful to our friends at Stomp Records, The Planet Smashers, Catch 22, Mustard Plug, Bigwig, Big D & the Kids Table, and so many more. These guys really took a chance on getting to know some bewildered then 17-year-old kids. Thinking about it now though, how fucked is it that we were touring when we were 17?! It’s funny to think that getting an early crack at it now makes us feel like old men, at the ripe age of 25.
PR: You guys have an “Ask The Band” section on your webpage. How important is it for you to connect with the fans? What was the weirdest question asked?
CC: It’s very important to us to tell our fans how much we appreciate them - at our shows, online, anywhere. The bummer about the “Ask The Band” section is that usually the questions are just people fucking around and not really asking anything at all. We kind of stopped partaking in that particular way of interacting with our fans because some people would just exploit the Internet and use it as a mask for shit talking. Luckily we can keep in touch with our fans online with Twitter and Facebook and such.
PR: Fat Wreck Chords is legendary in the punk rock scene. What was it like to meet Fat Mike for the first time and sign with his label?
CC: Meeting Mike for the first time was confusing in a way. We were all so excited to finally meet the guy who really took a chance on signing some 19-year-old Canadian kids. It was only confusing because we’d been fans of his band and the label for our entire lives and knew how “Fat Mike” usually was. He was just a really friendly, mellow guy. We ate burritos and talked about bands we liked at the old Fat Wreck office. Working with Fat has been really cool. We’re glad we can call them our friends, and also happy to work with a label that doesn’t blow smoke or make empty promises. They’re very easy to work with.
PR: It says on your webpage you got the name The Flatliners from the cult film – though no one in the band had seen it. Why did you choose this for your band name when no one had actually seen the film?
CC: I thought it sounded cool when I was 14 and walking around a Blockbuster video with my mom. I brought the idea to school the next day and the other guys agreed. We quickly realized though that the film could ultimately be terrible. And the thought of naming our band after a film we didn’t even like was a very frightening one. So we made a pact to never ever watch it and hopefully lead a happy life because of it.
PR: You guys have toured with some very influential artists. Who was your favourite band to tour with and what is your dream tour?
CC: It’s almost impossible to pick favourites. We’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to share the road with lots of great bands. Some we’ve even grown up listening to and have become friends with, which is insane to us. I can safely say a collective dream tour for us would be anything with any of Speedo’s bands - Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, The Night Marchers, the Sultans. They all just slay.
PR: What tips do you have for bands just starting out?
CC: The only sound advice I have seems like a lazy tip, but it works. Don’t stop. Keep at it and you’ll find happiness in what you’re doing. It’s a struggle being in a band, without a doubt, but it’s the most fun you’ll ever have, so don’t stop the fun.
PR: Your last album “Cavalcade” came out in 2010. When can fans expect more music? Do you guys usually write while on the road?
CC: Our fourth album will be out in 2013, hopefully sometime in the spring or early summer. We’ve been hard at work on it for the last few months. A heavy touring schedule always complicates the recording process a little bit, but we’re really excited with how it’s shaping up.
PR: The band is known for experimenting with genre (punk, ska etc) is it a sound you think you will stick with as you guys move forward or can you see yourselves dabbling in other genres?
CC: I think the new stuff is just more concentrated. It feels like a “no bullshit” kind of record, to the point. It’s just how we wanted to do it this time around. It certainly sounds like us.
When former lead singer, Frank Carter, parted ways with the group, Watford, England’s Gallows commissioned former Alexisonfire guitarist and singer Wade MacNeil as their frontman. With Gallows’ existing reputation of unbridled lyrics and being as ruthless, in sound and spirit, as the hey-day of punk music, there was no denying that the addition of MacNeil, was instantly a match made in punk rock heaven. “You know it feels real second nature,” says MacNeil. “I was a big fan of this band before I even met them. I think that’s the kind of thing that helped us jump into it seamlessly, you know? They were fans of my old band, and we toured together. They were the dudes I’d hang out with every time [we were] on tour in London, so when they asked, it really worked. It really made sense.”
Making the transition from lead guitar and vocals in Alexisonfire to solely lead vocals in Gallows, MacNeil took this as an opportunity to refine and explore a new wave of lyricism for the band. With the release of their first full-length album together, the band set out to develop the sound that was, unequivocally, Gallows. “At first it felt a little alien for me not playing guitar, but I think with music like this, especially really aggressive punk and hardcore stuff, you’ve got to have someone that’s not playing guitar… somebody that’s not tied down.” MacNeil notes, “I think the way I approach and write lyrics and vocals [for Gallows] is different, because there’s no way I could do the stuff that I’m doing if I was playing guitar. I’ve never had to prepare so much lyrically before. It’s really been an interesting experience.”
Released in September 2012, their self-titled album was a decidedly introspective concoction of rough-house punk rock and hardcore ideals bent on showcasing exactly what Gallows stood for. With every intention to shock and awe, MacNeil maintains that it was a direct reflection of the band. “I think we’ve tried to push more in one direction, by ripping the guts out of songs and making them just two minute bangers.” He says, “I think the aim of the record, especially by calling it Gallows, is saying, ‘This is Gallows!’ This is the record I’ve always wanted to make and this is, I think, the way the band has always wanted the band to sound. It was a very deliberate statement.”
“I think for some people, it might go over their heads, and some people completely agree,” adds MacNeil. “It’s like every decision you make as a musician. It’s going to go over some people’s heads, it’s going to piss some people off, and some people are going to love it. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to make music selfishly. I think if you trust in bands to do that, that’s where you get the best music… the best art.”
Living and breathing punk rock is a badge of honour to those playing it. Commitment, embracement, volatility, energy — all these things embody what it is to represent hardcore punk rock, and in the eyes of MacNeil, it’s indispensable. “I think my reasons for doing this at 18 were, ‘I don’t give a fuck about anything’, and ‘I just wanted to act like a psychopath all the time.’ But it’s always been this underlying love of music,” he says. “Music is a phase for a lot of people, but it’s my entire life. To be honest, it pisses me off when I meet bands and it feels like, ‘Oh I’m doing this thing until I take over my dad’s business.’ [Music] is what I think about when I’m falling asleep and what I think about when I wake up in the morning.”
Recently birthing their own label, Gallows has their crosshairs on further shaking the world with guts and glory. “There’s nothing stopping us from putting out a new record immediately, which is a very exciting prospect for me,” MacNeil says. “I think you always have to be challenging yourself and trying to get better. When you’re not, I think that that’s when bands get boring and they get stagnant.”
Now knowing all that is Gallows, fans and ragers alike can only guess what lies ahead for the English hardcore punk rockers. Inevitably, it will go over some heads, it will piss some off, but some, will always love it.
Like nocturnal fervour, the irresistible charm of Aardvark Robinson’s four track EP Mouth Pleasures, allures the listeners into an unforgettable dreamscape. The inescapable marsh of such a mellow soundscape is composed by genuine expressions of the four members: Sam Laird (vocals), Josh Laird (bass), Gary Duong (guitar) and Peter Robinson (drums). Without any pretence whatsoever, the music of Aardvark Robinson is like a frank confession of a mischievous boy. The band sparks with sincerity and childlike delight.
The witty lyrics and unconventional expressions portray the band’s childlike innocence. Like a clear raindrop wafting across a lake, their music echoes a soft yet salient sensuousness. The clean and crisp sound of the band immediately renders an image of transparency, making every existing sound visible in our imagination. The gentle sound of the guitar is refracted by the beat of the energetic drum; the pulsating vibes permeate an empty space, creating a synesthetic experience worth being contemplated on.
The intriguing instrumentation narrates the colourful dynamics of a story. Their presence makes up the first half of a song until singer Laird, comes in and weaves the rest of the story. The vocalist blends with the clear and crisp rhythms of the instruments as though he becomes an instrument himself. No voice is over-emphasized. Rather, each blends with one another to create a synchronized harmony. Such harmonious rupture is what gives Aardvark Robinson its unique colour.
Humans - Peter Ricq and Robbie Slade - hail from East Vancouver, British Columbia. The duo met back in 2009 and soon discovered that together, their different styles formed a fresh sound that blends lo-fi indie rock with addicting synth and electronic grooves. Humans have toured with everyone from Broken Social Scene, Junior Boys to Crystal Method and performed in popular music festivals like Shambhala. Public Records caught up with the “electronic half” of Humans, Peter Ricq, and learned how the band has evolved over the past few years. Now on the final stretch of their fall tour for their latest EP, Traps, Ricq reassures that their shows are still all about the fun times. And with an exciting concert date with co-headliners The Funk Hunters, set for New Year’s Eve in Squamish, Humans are more than ready to show everyone how to really party and ring in the New Year.
Public Records: You guys have been labelled a “party band” in the past that just wants their audience to dance. Traps though, has a mellower, more soulful groove/beat compared to Avec Mes Mecs. Was there any particular reason for pushing the latest record in that direction over more straight up dance-electronic tracks?
Peter Ricq: We like the “party band” label. We want to offer the crowd who come to our shows a night where they can get loose and forget about their 9 to 5 weekday jobs, make new friends and meet someone they can go home with – if they aren’t already with a keeper.
Traps is perhaps more mellow than the previous release but it is still dance-y and at our shows, we usually try and keep the crowd moving, meaning we select the songs appropriately and might not play some of those slower tracks.
How has your songwriting process evolved? Do the samples and drumbeats come first or do the guitars and vocals?
PR: We always try a different approach every once in a while. We never limit ourselves to a specific way. Sometimes Robbie shows me these little recordings he’s got - of him singing in falsetto on his phone quietly - and those end up inspiring a loud dance track. I sometimes come to Robbie with a beat and melody while he comes to me with an Ableton Session [drum] or a song on guitar.
You’ve played a variety of shows from large festivals to small venues around town. Which tours do you prefer? Is there added pressure/nerves when opening for big bands like Crystal Method?
PR: Not anymore. Crystal Method was a nightmare though because the sound was awful. We couldn’t hear anything on stage. Robbie would whisper to me and I’d hear it. Then as soon as the DJ went on when we were done, the sound was amazing. Just like that. So, no, [we] only get nervous when the crowd or we can’t hear things properly.
What tips do you have for young bands trying to make it in Vancouver?
PR: Get them to talk to Eli Wener. He’s our manager. He helped a lot on the insight of how to do things if you want to be a professional musician.
Also, get a good name. Make sure the song writing is good before you start recording and mastering. Record and master your tracks, set a release date followed by as many tour dates as possible to promote it. Release a single and video before your album. Don’t spend all your money on booze. Get a - real looking - fake gun for protection and fill it with water. Get lots of cigarettes, the chocolate kinds, and hand them out to kids outside of school. Don’t listen to your mother or father when asking for advice on how to make it into the business.
What are the pros and cons of making music with another person versus alone with an electronic set up of synths and drum machines?
PR: There can be fights, creative decision fights – “I love it! I don’t! I hate you! FUCK YOU!” Sometimes it goes like this, “That’s sick! YEAH?! YEAH!? OK, awesome.”
What’s your opinion on radio edits or making songs, especially electronic songs, more suitable for radio play or popular audiences?
PR: Totally fine with it as long as someone likes it.
Are plans in the works for the next EP/album?
PR: Yep, writing it as we speak.
You’re playing a show on New Year’s Eve in Squamish! Do you have any expectations or plans given the special occasion?
PR: Yes, but you’ll have to come and see. It’ll be an experience to remember.
Vancouver’s very own Kai Joseph Williams, better known as KAi Sky Walker, has done well making a name out of his own rap game, opening for the likes of Warren G, Bun B, Kid Ink and touring with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. What makes Williams so special is his flow. Those familiar with Vancouver’s rap sound know that Williams has a rap styling completely opposite to what’s usually found in western Canada and wow, does it sound fresh. With that said, be ready for his latest mixtape, #NEO.
#NEO starts off with “1” and “NEO,” and right off the jump, you can already feel Williams’s vibe shouting, “I’m God’s gift to hip-hop, be ready!” Within both tracks, Williams does well to incorporate rap music’s current love with the deep bass and hype lyrics that make narcissism feel so damn good.
Unlike most mixtapes that maintain similar beats for each track, Williams surprises his audience with a new feel in songs like, “Fly (We Do)” and “Yesterday.” He uses softer beats with lyrics that touch on issues like, staying hungry for your goal. These little samples of Williams’s diversity showcase just how well developed he is as a rapper, especially for being at the young age of 23.
This leads me to the most anticipated track, “Grow Up,” which features Casey Veggies and Lazeevil – and yes, it does live up to the high expectations. The track brings out what most people love about rap, infectious lyrics and head-bopping flow.
Williams then lets out another surprise in his tracks “Gold” and “Go (featuring Dutch Robinson)” by using what seems like an electronic sound. There’s no denying that one of the best things about this mixtape is that every track seemingly has its own voice.
Williams has a little bit of everything in this mixtape, from hot beat-slappers to mellow-hype songs. Williams even has a song titled, “Rihanna.” This kid’s fantastic. So what could be next for KAi Sky Walker? With the talent and refining that was done on #NEO, which is rarely found in upcoming artists, this kid is sure to be one to look out for.
Like a Living Being is anything but boring. Released last March by Vancouver’s Facts, the album does well in representing what’s good about synth-rock – big beats, catchy riffs, and leaving you with the sudden desire to play the drums.
With a large array of sounds, Facts give each track their own distinct feel. Tracks like “Diagonals,” “Picking Fights,” and “Lemon Peel,” are progressive as they unfold, starting with soothing intros that ease into a strong beat drop. This is well contrasted with tracks like “Body Break” that has catchy Rooney-esque riffs and beats right from the get-go.
Facts does an amazing job setting a feel good atmosphere for the listener. Enter “Retro Oceans,” which is a personal favourite. The song displays what Facts does best - choosing particular beats and rhythms to fit so flawlessly with the lyrical message. It instantly creates that cool and breezy vibe.
Also, the ability the band has to mesh their own personal independent sounds creates gorgeous moody soundscapes. It’s amazing when each instrument has its own personality added to a track, instead of hiding in the background.
Facts is shaping up to be a strong contender in the synth-rock genre. It’s only about time until the rest of the world starts catching on.
Formerly known as Free City Collective (FCC), No Century is a newly formed indie-rock band based in Vancouver. Samuel Romero and Ben Rowley are the members of No Century, standing independently as firm believers in the honesty of music. Sincere admiration and love towards their passion travelled through the decapitating rain of November, drenching our emotions, which whirls in the bottom of our unconscious. During my podcast interview with Romero and Rowley, right in the heart of Downtown Eastside, I found myself lost in the dreamy yet surreal lives of the duo behind No Century.
Jane Sojin Kim: Introduce yourselves.
Sam Romero: Originally, I’m from Central America. I came here when I was a little child. I met some amazing people when I was in my youth. Ben was one of those people and that is part of the historical lineage of things that led me here. Now I’m at this point, I’m still with Ben, making music together.
JSK: Tell me about your previous band Free City Collective. How did it all start?
SR: We were all living in Port Moody and we went to high school together. There were four of us in the beginning. It’s a long story. We kind of went in and out of transition of projects with no name no real plan until Ben went away. Ben went to Germany for six months. Our guitar player, Taylor planned to make a band. When Ben got back they started writing music together. From then on, a relationship bound together and six years later, here we are.
JSK: If you have to choose a colour for your band, what colour would it be?
SR: I would say gold. When we write music sometimes we would say, “This song gives me certain colour.” I see colour in song. It’s a way to communicate what I’m trying to say. During the last two years we were working on “Black Soda” and “Castle Island,” which is the last recording we did. There were a lot of red, gold and black and sometimes blue hues. But if I have to choose a colour, it would be gold.
JSK: Tell me your own definition of an “indie” band.
Ben Rowley: I don’t really know because that word has been overexposed too much that it has lost what it meant in the first place. It goes back to what we were talking about, how art becomes just a word for the purpose of classifying, it’s just independence – independent music that isn’t bound by any sort of stipulation the artist thinks could be there.
SR: When we think about the word “indie” we only have a vague idea. But from the very beginning I think it was called that because musicians didn’t have those big bosses behind them, to order them around. They were making decisions for themselves as independent musicians and I think now, it’s a sound, it’s a genre. You can be an indie band in a true sense, but you can also be classified as an indie band because of your sound, not because of who they are. The original sense is that it’s just a band with true independence, doing their own thing, writing their own music in their own way. I think that was influential.
JSK: Who inspired you the most? Who inspired you philosophically?
SR: That’s a really good question. I haven’t gone looking for people in terms of their philosophy of music but in the way the song is written. Many of the ideas that we thought about, we have heard through the music. But there are definitely artists, with the whole package. A really good example would be Radiohead. There are definitely musicians out there who are doing real music in a sense that they are coming from their thoughts, ideas, and struggles. When that happens, it’s a communication of philosophy through their art.
BR: Radiohead is the big one that I personally come back to a lot. Neil Young is a huge one. What’s exciting is that you find parallel philosophies when you listen to music. I think most people start off on a specific genre of music and art. I was into classic rock when I was in middle school and Sam was into this really heavy stuff, and it’s funny, those “philosophies” you take in throughout your life. Some of them you don’t abandon because it’s built and extended on. The unified similarity that I see between those artists is honesty.
JSK: What is your favourite track on your album?
BR: My favourite piece is “Great King” because it’s the most unified.
JSK: What do you mean when you say unified?
BR: When it started, it kept rolling and I remember a lot of excitement about the ideas that we shared. It seemed like a fitting way to end the evening – It brings up the best time we had as a group. That’s the highlight.
SR: “Great King” is the greatest achievement we did individually. We were all excited about our own parts. It’s a really important song. All the other songs came after that, so that song opened up a lot of freedom for us to explore sound.
JSK: Vancouver is sometimes a harsh stage for artists and maybe musicians. I feel that there is often a lack of support or even neglect when it comes to the support of art in general. What are your thoughts on the music industry in Vancouver?
SR: I think what has happened and what’s happening is that it’s because there is so much good music out there. People – and even myself – we listen to so much music now. I think there is a lack of support and neglect but it’s also because there are different sort of sides in music. We definitely have so much confidence in our music but sometimes it’s tough because you are in an environment where everyone is trying to do the same thing as you.
BR: There is a lot of questioning, even though we are always true to the music and we’ve never compromised in that sense. If your aim is to attain that side of success, there is a fair amount of conceiving. There are so many ways to get into it. I don’t understand it; I don’t want to claim to understand it. But I know that I can sleep a bit easier at night when I’m happy with something that I put out. It’s not about exposure.
JSK: What is No Century? What is your definition?
SR: It’s a bit of a free form of many songs. We are just jamming and making music for fun. We have the space and we have the instruments and we have time. It’s like the aftermath of Free City but a bit more relaxed. Having people to do stuff, in and out of the band, just contributing and collaborating. It’s more of an experimental project.
JSK: What do you want to say to passionate young artists who are starting a band?
SR: Write music from what’s on their mind. Do not look for what some other people have done. I think that’s what it’s all about. Have your own voice and encourage.
Aidan Knight w/ Leif Vollebekk and Andy Shauf @ Rio Theatre, October 28
By Seana Stevenson
Turning onto Commercial exposed small groups of youths wearing skinny jeans, large rimmed glasses and plaid, lots of it. Even without the large Rio Theatre sign, it was clear I had arrived at my destination. Nearing the end of his Western Canadian tour, Aidan Knight and his band mates played to a sea of adoring fans that know all too well, the talent and charm of Victoria’s own hometown boy wonder.
The darkened theatre was packed. Stragglers shifted through the back doors during opener Leif Vollebekk’s set searching for anything, but found only standing room. As the red velvet curtains were pulled back and the lights dimmed, everyone went silent. This audience was respectful, polite and excited.
A short film played over the instrumental opening. As the band slunk onstage, the audience erupted into cheers and whistles. Knight and his band came out swinging, playing the songs better than the recorded versions.
Halfway through the set everyone but Knight left the stage - the first instance of his charming, nervous rambling. He spoke of his opening acts Andy Shauf and Vollebekk highly, saying, “I feel like I need to compete, they have this way of making everyone quiet.”
There was no competition in sight as Knight took himself off mic and sang a beautiful rendition of “Margaret Downe.” The room was silent, all eyes forward, feeling the emotion in the lyrics; the overwhelmingly large theatre succumbing to the raw portrait Knight was painting.
“Jasper” was played next, giving the audience the song that attracted most people to Knight in the first place. By the last chorus the whole audience was singing along. Audience participation continued throughout the show, allowing fans and family to converse with the musicians. Knight’s mother squealed with excitement during the encore.
The show was mellow but surprising. The homecoming concert gave fans, friends and family a beautiful, heartfelt reunion with the band they love. As Knight so aptly stated before the last song of the night: “This feels like a dream.”
Christopher Smith’s Earning Keep justifies the good - scratch that - the amazing that can come from a bad heartbreak and a little bliss. Each track brings its own nostalgia, which leaves you with a strong bittersweet after taste; bitter from the outreach of hurt being portrayed and sweet from how well it’s being done.
Smith has a rare ability to take his tone and transfer a sense of haunting emotion. This doesn’t say any less for tracks, “Chapped Lips of the Mouth Breather” and “New West” (featuring JP Carter) which, although lyric-less, are just as capable of plucking your heartstrings. Leave it to Smith to make “bad” feel so good.
The mix of narrative and metaphors going on in this album creates an ambience suitable for many audiences; think The Smiths’ vibe encoded with some Macklemore word play. This Vancouver local has done what music has been criticized for not doing lately; keeping things relatable yet imaginative. If you’re an alternative fan, Earning Keep is a definite must have. If not, give it a try anyway. I promise, Christopher Smith will not disappoint.
You should be selling your music on Public Records.
It’s really easy to set up. All you need is a PayPal account and a Public Records profile.
Keep more money from every sale.
Support the community at large.
Setting up your Public Records account and uploading music only takes a few minutes. Go to publicrecords.org and click sign up. Create a profile for your musical project and upload your media. Once you link your PayPal account you can start selling music immediately.
We built Public Records to serve all musicians, and we know no matter who you are, every dollar counts. That’s why we worked hard to keep the fees low, at 13% and that includes all transaction fees. Simply, by selling your music on Public Records you keep 87% of every sale.
Finally, Public Records is a community, not a corporation. Profit generated by traffic to the site, or by any means for that matter, is reinvested 100% back into the community. Through grants and sponsored shows we promote community artists, and the big wheel of love keeps spinning.
Aidan Knight’s second studio album, Small Reveal pulled me in within the first minute. The Victoria native showcases eleven short stories, stories that expose and confuse different emotions set to music that envelops you. Each song has an incredible build, a subtle adding of instruments that intensify the wall of sound.
The words are soft and sung sweet, but speak of heartbreak, failure and loneliness. There are ten musicians on the album credited with performing more than fifteen instruments. There are some incredibly diverse and talented people in this group. There were two instruments on the album I had never heard before – one of them sounding like something from Fraggle Rock. They turned out to be a flugelhorn, which is a brass instrument that looks a lot like a trumpet, and a Wurlitzer organ. At times the various instruments float side by side and at other moments they play off each other. It exposes the pain throughout the lyrical story and simultaneously in the mood the music creates.
“A Mirror” is playful, juxtaposing the light and dark sounds. Horns take the spotlight in “The Master’s Call” as they float beautifully above the deep and dark vocal and piano lines – it is stunning. “Skip” has the flutes lead the listener into the large crescendo. The flute is majestic while contrasting the harsh sound of the guitar.
This album exposes soft, beautifully heartbreaking vocals, subtle but strong builds. Musically it felt a lot like Explosions In The Sky, in the way it tells beautiful stories without speaking a word. The unique sounds were intriguing. Small Reveal was crafted with care and is an exciting and beautiful listen.
I passed through the door of the Vogue Theatre, and felt like I had stepped into an A$AP Rocky music video. The all-ages show seemed to be stack full of 17-year-olds who received their V$VP hats and “Comme des Fuckdown” t-shirts and touques in the mail the previous day.
Since their online debut in summer 2011, A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob have reached a fanbase of global proportions, and there are no signs of slowing down. The Vancouver show sold out in a mere two days, and hours before the show was scheduled to start, tickets were being scalped and sold on Craigslist for nearly three hundred dollars. The Harlem natives have a clear sense of their main audience –16 to 23-year-old males and females, and that was precisely the demographic who showed up. Unfortunately, yet predicatably, opening acts Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown and nearly half of the A$AP Mob did not make it over the Canadian Border thanks to warrants, priors, and good ol’ American probabtion. As a Hip-Hop fan living north of the border, this is something that you learn to deal with. Thankfully Rocky was determined to give his Canadian fans an unforgettable performance, and that is just what he did.
The venue removed the first 10 rows of seats, and in turn, created an intense scene at the front of the stage. As lights dimmed down, the crowd began to chant “A$AP, A$AP!” The stage filled with smoke, and purple filters were placed on the lights, reinforcing the theme of “Everything is Purple” in the song favourite, “Purple Swag”. From behind the stage Rocky thanked the crowd for coming out and proclaimed that America was backwards, explaining the upside down American flag edited onto the “Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima” image, which projected above the stage.
The marijuana aroma was thick, the sweat was heavy, and just at the right time Rocky exploded onto the stage and delved into the set. His presence was loud and the crowd was so excited it didn’t even matter what Rocky was saying. Rocky played all of his classics including, “Peso,” “Trilla,” and “Put in Work,” as well as various others from the LiveLoveA$AP and Lord$ Never Worry mixtapes. At the end of his show Rocky professed that he despised racism and that he was enthralled to look out onto a sea of white and brown faces. Rocky believes that today’s generation has the power in their hands, and that it’s a unified responsibility to make a change and irraticate racism. As a writer and a fan, I couldn’t agree with him more.
Contrary to what I had heard previously, A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob threw one hell of a show, and I look forward to seeing them again upon their return to Vancouver – hopefully with the entire A$AP Mob.
It’s a slow and sometimes painful process, but it happens. In the music industry, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way people acquire and listen to new music over the past decade. Yet, the businesses that have traditionally profited from selling us physical media still cling to the status quo business model that artists and listeners have accepted since the dawn of recorded music. I’m not suggesting that we take to the streets and burn down Capitol Tower on Hollywood and Vine. I am suggesting that we open our minds to the possibility that there is a better alternative.
Introducing Public Records, the evolution of music.
Public Records is a community-based organization that returns profits to artists in the form of development grants. Eschewing the traditional “360 contract” that has hampered creativity and siphoned profits away from talented musicians, our grant system provides artists with the financial support they need to succeed commercially, while maintaining creative and legal control of their work. It’s built on the philosophy that being a musician should be a viable career path, not a pipe dream only achievable by the Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers of the world.
At the core of our model is an online network which connects artists, fans, venues and promoters. On Public Records bands can promote and distribute music trough our profile based marketplace, and fans can discover new music and local shows through our network and Gig Listings.
Be a part of the community.
Public Records is a member-run nonprofit corporation. Taking on the industry paradigm means we’ll need all the help we can get. You’ll be able to join the organization once we have our beta site up and running—in the meantime, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved or are interested in learning more.