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.
By Seana Stevenson
Photography by Seana Stevenson
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.’
- 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.
By Jane Sojin Kim
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.
Words by Braden Loader
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.
More — http://www.gallows.co.uk/
by Jane Sojin Kim
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.
Interviewed by Seana Stevenson
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.
by Vonah Sanqui
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.