It’s hard to believe that it’s already been five years since the first Arboretum Festival went down at Arts Court. The first edition that took place back in the summer of 2012 amazed us all, and featured artists such as Cadence Weapon, Jokers of the Scene, Ohbijou, and local powerhouses Steve Adamyk Band, Crusades, Boyhood, Bondar, and more. Since then, Arboretum has grown and featured artists such as Sloan, Constantines, Austra, Mykki Blanco, U.S. Girls, Tim Hecker, just to name a few. However, the festival is scaling back the lineup this year and focusing on the experience as a whole.
Creative Director Rolf Klausener and Managing Director Stefanie Power have always envisioned Arboretum Festival actually keeping true to its name – having it take place in the wilderness. The original conception will become reality August 18-20, 2017, as this marks “year six in the sticks” and will be the first time the festival moves outside city limits and into the countryside. It will happen at Rideau Pines Farms in North Gower about 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa. While on-site accommodations won’t be an option for attendees this time around, the organizers have made it clear that shuttle transportation will be made available for attendees living in Ottawa.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about Rideau Pines Farms” says Power. “Hosting the festival on a rural site, close to downtown, has always been our dream. We love the idea of escaping your own city, but being surrounded by familiar faces. This smaller, more intimate setting is likely be the closer to our original vision for the festival when we started in 2012.”
“Our first meeting with Rideau Pines was one of mutual admiration and excitement. We’ve known their head farmer Matt ‘Spicoli’ Vandenberg since he headed our corn roast at our 2013 edition behind Arts Court. He’s ebullient, charming, and deeply passionate about his work, as are all the Vandenbergs. The farm is a family run business as is ARB, really.”
The 2017 lineup includes Deerhoof, Le1f, TOPS, DIANA, Cadence Weapon, Un Blonde, L.A. Foster, as well as local powerhouses Claude Munson, Future States, Isaac Vallentin, Boyhood, Gianna Lauren, and FEELS DJs. More will be announced in the coming months, but this is a strong start.
“We made a conscious decision to create a really tight line-up of friends and dream shows,” says Klausener. “LE1F (NYC queer rap trailblazer) has been a dream booking for a while, and we’re expecting his headlining show to be a ridiculous party. We’ve been mega-fans of Deerhoof (Oakland art-punk legends) since their 2003 album ‘Apple O’, and are basically an incendiary case study on lifelong, uncompromising artistic expression. TO/Edmonton hip hop icon Cadence Weapon and electro-pop friends DIANA come back, and represent past artists we really admire as both creators and leaders in their own communities.”
Even more, the organizers have announced that there will be a hand-built stage, swimming pond, forest dance parties, intimate barn shows, all-night cinema, vast fields of pick-your-own fruit and vegetables, concerts in the fields, local cooks, farm-to-table food, communal meals, and plenty of room for the kids to run around.
“The main stage area is an intimate clearing, stockaded by tall evergreen, featuring a sweet hand-built wooden stage,” explains Power. “Beyond the main site are vast fields of fruit and vegetables, with 200+ varieties. Festival-goers will be able to buy pick-your-own baskets from the farm store, and pick their own fresh food all weekend long. It’ll also supply the hot meals prepared by our restaurant partners. Beyond the fields is a small red-clay pond, beside which smaller solo-ish acts and late-night DJ’s will play. And then there’s a gorgeous barn with a back slatted wall that let’s the light – perfect for late afternoon sets.”
Arboretum Festival has always been more than just a music festival. The organizers have made a point to incorporate many names in Ottawa’s food and cooking community, affording attendees the opportunity to try out food from spots in town they might not otherwise visit. Being on a farm, the festival is truly embracing a farm-to-table approach this time around.
“The fact that Rideau Pines supplies so many of the great cooks and restaurants we’ve worked with in the past isn’t lost on us,” Klausener explains. “I don’t think I know of any music festival where you can literally pull meals out of the ground. I remember when I was five, eating my first carrot pulled fresh from a neighbour’s farm in the Laurentiens, and my taste buds exploding. It’s a chance for us to really give the city a fun way to connect with the wild abundance that surrounds Ottawa.”
While Arboretum takes steps towards a new experience for festival-goers, it stays true to its core values – staying a strong supporter of Ottawa’s music scene and local businesses, as well as working hard to represent marginalized communities through diverse and boundary-less programming.
Full weekend passes are available online now for $75, and includes “Pizza Bus” transportation to-and-from the festival or a parking pass. Day passes are not yet on sale, but keep your ears open for more announcements soon.
It’s always really cool when European bands fly over the ocean and bring their music with them. One band that I found out about recently is MTT, short for Minus the Tiger (Fisherman Recs). They’re right out of The Netherlands, a wonderful country that Ottawa and Canada have a particularly strong bond with. The long-lasting friendship has been rekindled every year with the Tulip Festival here in Ottawa, which began in 1953 when the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 bulbs as a gift in perpetuity for Canada’s role in providing them with safe harbour during the German occupation of The Netherlands during the Second World War. I always loved that story, and it turns out I also love Dutch bands. MTT have that dark, spacey synth sound that a few of my current favourite Canadian bands are going for and European ones like The Knife mastered earlier on. Their new album Years From Nowhas been on repeat ever since I found out about it, basically because it is a great album all around. I cannot explain how amazing it is for me when great musicians employ the use of synths to accentuate their music, but keep true to their other instruments by keeping them front and centre.
MTT are landing on Canadian soil this week and making their first stop in Ottawa at Pressed on Wednesday night (Apr. 30). They’re making a few other stops in Montreal, Wakefield, amongst a few others, as well as two CMW showcases in Toronto. Be sure to catch these guys, they’re the kind of band that’s a sure thing to give you your money’s worth live. On top of that, one of our local faves Bosveld is opening, along with DJ Vinelli. Doors at 8pm/$7/AA – music over by 11. Check out my interview with Anne of MTT below.
Interview with Anne of MTT
It’s interesting to see bands going back to 80’s and 90’s with respect to their influences. What were some bands or artists from that time that have helped inform your music and overall style?
Partially it’s youth nostalgia. I remember spending what seemed to be endless mornings on the couch with my mom watching music videos. Artists like a-Ha, Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Later on, I started to appreciate some of these pop artists on a more musical level as well. Especially Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins I started to get into later – they became a big influence.Then there’s the whole Eurohouse thing that seems to be making a re-entry nowadays. And of course grunge and shoegaze. These are all sounds that are always somewhere in the back of my mind and have influenced me directly or indirectly. Difference being now I’m no longer ashamed to say out loud they are of influence.
The darker synth sound MTT is going for is one that is catching on in Canada with bands like DIANA, TRUST, and Weeknight. With so much synth-based pop music out there, what is it about your sound that you think separates it from the rest?
Is it? That’s great because where we’re from everyone’s more into singer-songwriters or pop rock. Ha-ha! Oh and you’re forgetting Valleys who made a really nice album last year! To me the, artists mentioned have a great variety in sound and approach very much the same as more I guess you would call than traditional bands have. I have to be honest though, I am not too fond of questions like these. As I said these artists all have a very different approach to music and aside from using beats and electronic drums and synths they are very different. Now the darker atmosphere is something similar, but maybe that’s just a sign of times. Maybe the fact that people are getting into that shows we are finally ready to face these dark times we’re living in.
In what ways has MTT grown as a band since coming together a few years back?
It’s not been such a long time since we formed. It started out as a vehicle for my songs and the first record (our debut album selftitled Minus The Tiger, 2011) is us finding a sound we liked. On Years From Now we are more consistent in our sound and song choices even though in the process we didn’t want to think about direction at all. This is what sort of comes natural at this moment. In our live performance we made a huge leap as well. Being on stage is always a big thing for me, slightly uneasy as well. But with this band and these songs I feel more confident putting on a good show.
Have any of you been to North America before?
We toured Canada with our previous record and played CMW, but it wasn’t officially released then. We’ve sort of fallen in love with Canada, the minor part we got to see that is. I really like the different cities, they each have a different vibe and all have a certain attraction. I also like the Canadian music culture. It’s very vibrant and diverse and slightly down to earth which is something us Europeans can relate to I guess. For bands like us it is very hard to get our message across in our home country where the scene is extremely small and very one-dimensional. Of course there is a lot of competition everywhere and being in music means working extremely hard anywhere in the world. But it seems that places like Montréal have a different sort of culture that allows for more breathing room for bands and artists like us.
4. As a band from The Netherlands, what is it like to be selected to play at festivals like CMW and POP Montreal?
Well, pretty exciting. Especially since they selected us based on some rough first edits of songs. It’s crazy how we were just starting out and find people in the music scene across the ocean liking what we do. And then to come there and find so much love of music and also our music. Makes me feel really happy and fortunate to be back.
5. Is there a city in the world that you dream of playing in someday?
New York perhaps, and that will actually happen soon. I wonder what it will be like to play a city where so many incredible artists play everyday. Will we drown or thrive? It’s a challenge. But really it doesn’t matter where you play. We’ve played places expecting it to be overwhelming but being the total opposite and vice versa. It all depends on the people, your mood, their mood, the timing, the atmosphere. You never really know what you’ll get, you can only “play your hearts out” as a fellow musician I know always puts it.
6. What is something about your home base of Utrecht that you think Canadians should know about? It can be anything at all.
It’s like Amsterdam but without the tourists. And if you like coffee go to The Village Coffee and Music.
7. What does the band have planned for the next year?
After we play Canada, we’re playing some festivals back home, then head out to NYC where we’ve been selected to play Northside Festival. In September we hope to be back in Canada for more shows. After that we’ll probably take it easy for a little bit, release some new videos, some remixes and start working on a new release.
Diana rocking us at Mavericks on Saturday Oct. 12th, 2013
New Wave is coming back and these Canadian groups are doing one hell of a job it. Headlining the night was Toronto’s Diana. But before they took the stage, the lead singer of Silkken Laumann, Rolf Klausener, never one to mince words had quite a doozy of an introduction for Diana. “Diana is up next, and they are about to rock our collective vagina!” How do you follow that up and break the ice as Diana? With a funny anecdote of course. “I just went to the washroom before the set and well I just sat in a stranger’s urine,” said Carmen Elle. “One of you women has a new bond with me.” Their record, Perpetual Surrender, is absolutely great, but it really comes to life live. I was completely blown away by the drummer. I loved the transition seamless transitions from electric drums to his standard set, the man creates some sweet beats. And if that wasn’t enough, they have some very sexy sax on some songs. The title track, ”Perpetual Surrender,” brings me back to nights where I would stay up late after my parents fell asleep and to watch Blue Nuit. If that isn’t Kenny-G-eat-your-heart-out, baby-making, softcore-porn music I don’t know what is. Lastly they covered “More Than This” and it was the best rendition since Bill Murray in Lost and Translation. “Need you to know baby, I know you’re terrified.”
Silkken Laumann and their light show bring the dance to Mavericks.
Silkken Laumann where in the middle of this concert sandwich. They were playing their first show with their new bass player Gary from Roberta Bondar. The heavily bearded band from Ottawa had a pretty awesome light show going on as their New Order-esque inspired dance rock tickled our ears and swayed our hips. Gary’s contributions could be felt right away. He really set the tone and the beat for their second song, which I really liked. With the infectious beats flowing and everyone bobbing or dancing along in the dimly lit Maverick’s, Rolf took the time to share an observation: “This really feels like a basement party with just us. We are all in Diana’s basement.” This is the second time I see the band live and have loved it both times, my favourite song live has to be “House of Common Problems.” Missed out or want more Silkken? They announced that they will be hosting a new year’s eve album release party, should be quite the event.
Kicking off the dance party was the Ottawa super group Black Usher. The band was formed at the Ottawa Rock Lottery earlier this year. The group is comprised of Sarah Bradley from Fevers, Jordan David from The Love Machine, both members of Still Native, Patrick Steele and Max Savage, and two MC’s, Hyfidelik the Gypsy Sun of Missing LinX and Atherton. As you can see, there are so many vocals option and the band does a great job of letting everyone have a turn to shine. You have to love the sad ballad about condos. With lines like, “There used to be mom and pops now it’s Starbucks,” and “Condos ruin everything around me,” as a tribute to C.R.E.A.M. by Wu-Tang. They closed out their set with the very odd “Weird wild strange strange.”
Forget clubs spinning top 40 dance music–Diana, Silkken Laumann and Black Usher showed us all Saturday night that live dance music, by musicians, is alive and well.
With anticipation growing for the second year of Arboretum Arts Festival, we decided to put together a playlist of some of this year’s bad-ass music lineup. There’s a perfect balance of local and non-local here, and the organizers did a damn fine job putting this year’s lineup together. So here’s our way of helping you get to know a little bit of what to expect on the stage August 16-17, 2013.