Most album releases happen in a bar or club, with the usual merch station and a few opening bands. Not much to be surprised about. Jumpin’ Joel Flash & The Magic Machine, on the other hand, are not your typical band. The country-folk group from Ottawa consists of frontman Joel Elliot and his motley crew of band mates, offering an unusual assortment of tricks at their shows such as “opera-rock vocals, bouncy rhythms, musical theatre harmonies, and the occasional rain stick interlude.” However, for their upcoming EP release, they’re going way out into left field. Jumpin’ Joel Flash & The Magic Machine want to take you to prom.
That’s right. Whether you had a good or bad experience at your actual high school prom, this band wants to up the ante and make a whole new prom-music experience on December 8th at Maker Space North. Also on the bill are Scary Bear Soundtrack and Death Metal Witch, not to mention Capital Tease Burlesque. With booths, decorations, and surprises galore, the event almost sounds more like a carnival than a prom. But one thing is for sure, it will be a hell of a night at Maker Space North. Don’t forget to wear your prom attire.
I chatted with Joel about the EP release prom and more, have a read below.
Date: Saturday, December 8, 2017
Location: Makerspace North – 250 City Centre Avenue – Bay 216
Important: 18+, fully accessible, no outside shoes, no alcohol
We’re always a big fan of new ideas when it comes to live music, but you’re going back in time. What made the idea of hosting a prom-themed EP release so appealing?
A big show needs a big idea! An EP release is a big deal and should be memorable for more than just the music.
I put it to the Magic Machine to come up with a theme that could be built upon. We got together for a mind-meld, and someone tossed out ‘Prom?’ From there, ideas for deco and contests and messaging and promotion and costumes JUST KEPT FLOWING! When ideas are easy, you know you snagged onto something special.
I was searching for a theme that would be immediately recognizable and nostalgic. Prom has that, but with the added bonus of allowing for a ‘do-over’… not everyone has shiny happy memories of high school after all. Many folks were ostracized for who they are. Hated for who they love. Excluded for existing.
By pure luck, I was born a straight white anglo male in one of the safest and most recession-proof cities on the planet. I learn more about how privileged I am each and every day. As such, I wanted this Prom to be for absolutely everyone. A place to come and dance and love and be yourself. Provided you score one of the very-limited tickets, of course. 😉
Starting on October 1st, you released a single every couple weeks leading up to the prom. Can you talk about the songs and what they mean to you? What drove you to write this EP?
These songs are personal without being personal.
I’ve never felt emotion from song lyrics. Whether I’m hearing them or writing them. And I used to think I was crazy and weird. But I’m not. I get emotional responses from rhythm and swells and notes and groove. I feel music the way I write it: sound first, words second.
I wrote mostly in transit. Long car trips/bus rides provided a background hum that blocked out the rest of the world. I played with rhythms, tapped my fingers, hummed to beats. Eventually I had dozens of songs in my brain. And I just assumed they’d always stay there.
I grew up in an isolating, neglectful, emotionally abusive household and spent most of my life believing I was completely worthless. This is the reason I stuck with my first career for 12 years: while I was creating and composing my own music in my head, I rarely shared it with anyone, or even wrote it down. I sincerely believed that I was nothing, and thus anything I created wasn’t anything anyone wanted to hear. So I slogged on. Played in bands on the weekends to get my performance fix, and resolved that that was all my life would ever be.
And then I met my wife, Kim Valentine. She is the sole reason any of this is happening. She showed me I have worth. She gave me the courage to share my songs with others. She gave me the strength to go for my dreams. She saved my life, and I’ll forever be grateful.
The Magic Machine and the music it pumps out is everything I’ve always wanted to be. Twang without trucks. Toe tapping excitement. Fun, bouncy, sparkling, rainbowed, and happy.
Our first EP is exactly that. The first. Much, much more is coming.
You’ve also been putting a lot of focus on your team and collaborators leading up to this event. Who are some important folks involved in this album and show?
Collaboration builds community! I saw that in action over and over again in my ‘professional’ career… the more folks you have on your team, the greater and more successful your project will be!
First, The Magic Machine: Carolina Arnoni, Jasen Colson, Brad Cutler, Robin Hodge, Ashley Newall, Zoe Towne & Kim Valentine. These talented weirdos are the only reason there’s an EP to begin with! They’re a mix of visual artists, musicians, and theatre nerds that make the band, our sound, and our show, waaayyyy more fun than it has any business being.
A special shout out goes to Prom Art Director Kim Valentine, who has spent months brainstorming and lovingly crafting original and ridiculous Prom deco that will make your heart go pit-a-pat! She’s a visual genius and you’re gonna love what she’s done.
You need a good back end for a party, and our A/V Club is up to the challenge! Our sound/lighting/visual art crew has been lovingly plucked from Ottawa Theatre and Psytrance scenes! Kendrick Abell, Craig Macleod, Justin Ouimet, and Jason Sonier are ready to make sure this Prom goes down without a hitch!
Then we’ve got our two fabulous opening acts, Scary Bear Soundtrack and Death Metal Witch.! Scary Bear Soundtrack is all about dreamy synth-pop, and Death Metal Witch. is an acoustic force of nature!
Next, the partners! All-local orgs that help to make this city greater and more artistic! Our Promenade will feature a bevvie of artistic orgs like CKCU FM, The Ottawa Beat, Capital Rehearsal Studios, Makerspace North, The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, and more! Each of these partners provided in-kind support for Prom, either through promotion, services, or equipment.
I’ve been focusing on the partners due to their help of course, but there is another reason. I’d like to show performance artists of all types that this is a great way to build hype for your next production. Partner with a local org or two and immediately increase your reach! From the partners’ perspective, they get a chance to meet and mix with artists and fans, possibly building new collabs or business in the future. In return, the artist gets promo to their partners’ networks, without having to shell out advertising dollars! Win win win!
Collaboration = Community.
In March 2017 you left your job with the Conference Board of Canada to focus on your music. What’s life been like since taking that leap?
Well, I was able to create my EP, for one thing. 😉 But I’ve also been using my time as efficiently as possible.
Working at an economic think tank sounds boring. And it is. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that spending a decade figuring out how every industry in the country works wasn’t beneficial to my new funky artist life.
For most of my first career, I sold professional learning/networking events. And whether you’re holding a Risk Management Conference or an EP Release Prom, all the principles are exactly the same. I realized that quite quickly after taking the leap. The music business works just like any other. Though, I am appreciating that I’m not being booked for 8:30am meetings anymore.
I’ve lived in Ottawa my entire life, and am amazed at how much art is being created here without people knowing about it. I vowed to use my profesh(?) skills and newfound time to help make this place as vibrant and fun as it can be. I attended everything and met everyone. I made new relationships and built trust. And over time, I was able to become part of three great bastions of the local arts scene:
I’m the host of the Live! On Elgin open mic every Tuesday. As a proper arts venue smack in the core, Live! attracts performers of all types, all styles, all backgrounds, all ages! When I create art, it mostly comes out as country music. Being a part of this diverse, happy, excited, ridiculously-talented event has opened my musical horizons. I’m inspired by wild new sounds and performances each week, and I love it.
I also co-host The Monday Special Blend on CKCU FM with my good friend Trish Bolechowsky. Aside from the CBC, community cadio are the only airwaves that local artists have a chance of gracing, and I’m insanely proud to be a small part of it. Each week, we yik-yak about music, art, and characters that are working to make this place amazing. Local art does not happen without local love, and I use this platform to share as much love as possible.
Last but certainly not least, I was elected to the board of directors for The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition. It was my third attempt at election and I’m glad I kept up with it. In this role, I’m able to provide input on the future of the Ottawa music scene, as well as work directly with the high-level industry folks that are hiding all over this government town! It is very, very, satisfying to be able to share what I know for a purpose I really care about.
In 2019, I plan to engage further with artists and the community by speaking at industry events/conferences. I’d like to help lift the veil on marketing and promotion for artists, and show them how to build community from the ground up. I’d also like to make artists aware of exactly how many organizations are out there looking to profit off of their creativity, as well as call out unethical marketing firms that are pushing bots as a way to build a fanbase.
Word is that there will be some surprises at the prom. Anything you can spill the beans about?
We’ve set this up like a mini-music festival! There will be multiple stages, crazy visual art, a photo booth, and of course, The Promenade!
Were holding a Prom Royalty Contest for all attendees! Throughout the evening, members of the Prom Committee will be demanding votes from the arts-loving populace. The two winners will be those who received the most votes, and they MAY just have a special prize for winning!
We’re also offering Prom Loot Bags for every attendee! Lovingly hand-crafted by Art Director Kim Valentine, these unique ‘bags’ are gonna be filled with goodies and reminders of how much fun prom-goers had with a bunch of weirdos in a warehouse!
I can also say that there will be audience participationsegments during the show! We’ll be grabbing people to dance with us, shoving props in their hands, demanding they wear hats, all kinds of nonsense!
Burlesque! Can you tell us a bit about Capital Tease Burlesque, for those who may not know much about the troupe?
The Prom had musicians, actors, and visual artists….but where were the dancers? I saw Capital Tease doing their thing at this year’s Glowfair and I loved every second of it! It’s fun, it’s body positive, it’s silly, it’s sexy, it’s wonderful!
We’re going to be featuring performers Sassy Muffin, Koston Kreme, Bella Barecatt, & Randi Rouge! Randi has just recently opened the Rouge Studio of Dance, which offers in classes in burlesque, hip-hop, & belly dancing in a supportive and encouraging environment where you can let loose, explore your sensuality and build your confidence!
As someone who has long struggled with self-worth and body image, I was immediately taken in by burlesque’s focus on positivity, inclusion, and making everyone feel like a million bucks. Negativity and hate are not tolerated. Consent and positivity are paramount. The folks at Capital Tease are wonderful, and I know Prom-goers will think so too.
Anything else that concertgoers should expect?
You are going to walk in and not know what the heck is happening. Your senses are gonna be smacked in all the right ways. You’re going to forget you’re at a concert and instead believe you’ve entered a magical fairy land of artistic hippies. You’re going to be filled with positive vibes and love. You’re going to make new arts friends. You’re going to fall for every single performer. You’re going to wonder how you ended up dancing for 3 hours straight. You’re going to have your emotions tapped until you’re overflowing with heart for local art. You’re going to raise your hands in excitement and cheer your ass off. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’re gonna see even more. And then, as quickly as it began, you’ll be on your way home, wondering what the hell you were just a part of.
People should expect to remember this night forever. Or at least until the next time we throw a party.