The second annual Glowfair will take place June 19th and 20th across 10 city blocks on Bank Street from Slater to James.
The festival, launched in 2014 by the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), is a collaborative effort by all merchants and members of the BIA. Each block will feature a different theme with completely surprising, mesmerising and fantastic free activities. Themes include a phosphorescent enchanted forest, circus, Kids’ Zone, Pinball Wizard skateboarding park, and a Glow Zone.
There are also two stages set up during the festival, one for live music and one for DJs. With that in mind here are Ottawa Showbox’s top 5 musical acts to catch in chronological order:
The Strain (June 19, 7 p.m., Main Stage) — The electro-pop group from Wakefield, QC, is made up of two siblings, their cousin, and a childhood friend. Their pleasing dance music will get you moving like no one is watching. Who knows, you may even channel your inner Mick Jagger. Have a listen below and prepare yourself to be “Tearing Up the Streets”.
DJ VILIFY (June 19, 10 p.m., DJ Stage) — Originally from Montreal, but now performing out of Berlin, Germany, DJ VILIFY is a master of many styles. She refuses to be cornered into one genre of DJ. Heavy bass may be her first love, but she does not shy away from producing producing house, dancehall, hip-hop and more. Check out this thumping and bumping hour of dancehall and get ready to dance close with someone.
Jokers of the Scene (June 19, 11:30 p.m., DJ Stage) — Toronto’s techno-synth master will take you into the wee hours of the night with their non-stop creativity. And how will they be playing so late, you ask? Once the early birds in the city go to bed and noise restrictions come into place at 11:30 p.m., festival-goers can use a Bluetooth-enabled headset so they can hear the music and dance until 2 a.m. This is perfect for Jokers, as their new album is described as music “crafted for modern listening from the analog echoes of cybernetic dreams… headphone music made to move bodies, at once familiar and confounding fresh.”
The PepTides (June 20, 8 pm, Main Stage) — Ottawa’s very own eclectic The PepTides draw from funk, soul, jazz and electronic influences. They gel them all together for high energy sets with layered vocals, thanks to five vocalists, and infectious rhythms that get your moving. The band is as fun and funky musically as they are visually, usually dressed in vibrant and neon colours and outfits. This will be more than just a musical set, their will be choreography, visual effects, and the overwhelming feeling of a party. Get yourself in the mood and listen to their gleeful track “I Love You Made in China”.
Lowell (June 20, 9:10 p.m., Main Stage) — Probably the highlight of the festival is Toronto’s Lowell. If you want to see energetic stage presence and an explosive dedication to live sets, then you cannot miss Lowell. On top of all that, her music addresses very serious subjects like sexual abuse, rape, abortion, women’s rights, the lack of LGBTQ rights in our society, and ignorance towards homosexuality. But fear not, she is not preachy nor grandstanding—she just covers very serious subjects over fun and accessible pop melodies. Lowell is not to be missed, we guarantee it! Watch a live performance of “Cloud 69” at a faux-birthday she through herself in Toronto, and the super fun video for “The Bells” below.
An electronic dream pop duo from Ottawa called Willows just released their debut EP this week titled An Empty Room Filled With People. A subdued “Part 1” on their Bandcamp beneath the five tracks is all we have to hint at the possibility of an LP in the works.
Fans of Ottawa’s The Adding Machine will recognize the face of energetic rapper Defckon but maybe not his voice. Here Johnny McArthur takes his vocals to a level that he can’t in rap, taking it higher and lower than humanly possible with synthetic effects. The technological tricks don’t cover up a lack of pitch however, as Johnny is spot on with his harmonics. His partner Eric Moore also adds his voice to the track “Said It’s Over,” and both provide all the bass, guitar & keys on each song.
While this EP and project are brand new, the two have been making music independently and as a duo for a few years running. Willows is the latest manifestation of their work together, however in the past they have experimented in everything from hip hop to down-tempo electro, and even metal.
These are sad songs, hybrids of shoegaze and electro pop. There’s something catchy about all this heartbreak particularly in the track “Destitute” and “True.” What stands out about this record is that the myriad of influences can be heard, even if only briefly. It is pop at its core, but don’t be mistaken – there are layers to the album that can slowly be peeled off with each song and each listen. This kind of music isn’t as prevalent in Ottawa, and it’s refreshing to see artists experimenting with different sounds and styles. Willows pushes the envelope to deliver five songs that truly stand on their own.
Willows played their first show as a unit at Zaphod’s on December 17, which Eric covered. We hope to see them out there again soon, one gets the feeling as though these guys are just getting started. Cop a feel below!
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.
Take a bit of Madonna, add some Nirvana, season with Daft Punk, and top with Maroon 5. Those are just some of the ingredients to one helluva night at Babylon Nightclub. The Queer Mafia (an Ottawa-based network of queer identified individuals who are committed to supporting the community by throwing awesome parties) put on a mash-up of a show with DJ Dan Valin on decks, special guest KAPRI, and visuals by Bustedlimb.
The theme of the night: “Music is like a potato, it’s best served mashed up!” with partial proceeds going to the Ten Oaks (LGBTQ youth-oriented programming) project. DJ Dan Valin had the crowd on their feet, constantly moving to mash-ups like Britney Spears’s “Work Bitch” meets Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” I wasn’t sure whether to relax, or work, but Canadian-born singer-songwriter KAPRI changed all that, opening with (and making me) “Leave the World Behind,” a cover of the Swedish House Mafia’s hit song.
KAPRI’s powerful voice and undeniable stage presence had the crowd begging for more.
I had an opportunity to talk with KAPRI, asking her about the crowd in Ottawa. She enthusiastically commented on Ottawa’s embracing of its local talent, saying how there was a definite supportive community for independent music. This was not KAPRI’s first mash-up gig; she has been performing professionally for two years, and her love of mixes has had her performing all sorts of styles and genres.
The visuals from Bustedlimb featured artistically-edited motion graphics of dancers who were grooving to the beat. It all made for a well-rounded night. Hats-off to The Queer Mafia for booking a killer combo and packing the house. I’m still dancing.
Were you at the show? Did you have a good time? Tell us about it in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!
Well, summer is half over. That doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze every last second out of nice weather and sunshine. Here in Ottawa , we know how important it is to hold onto the warmth, since 8 months out of our year we’re generally freezing our asses off. I’ve always been a huge fan of mixtapes and CDs over the years. You know, making a soundtrack for whatever occasion. I would burn excessive numbers of CD-Rs for road trips, camping trips, barbecuing, cutting the lawn… you get the idea. What better time of year to make a fun, danceable soundtrack for the hot sun and balcony beers. Also, a little shout-out to Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Redfor making it to the Polaris Prize Shortlist this year! We at Showbox are going to start dabbling more and more on Soundcloud to start bringing some fresh tunes your way. And if you’re wondering, the name of this one was inspired from the Young Galaxy song of the same name off of Ultramarine.
FEVERS have made it known that they’ll be releasing their new album “No Room For Light” on August 27, 2013, with album release party details forthcoming. It’s been an exciting few years for the band as they’ve achieved a lot of notoriety around Ottawa and across Canada since their original Passion is Dead EP (and even getting a shout-out from music mogul Alan Cross, who likes them for their “dark and danceable electro sound”). I have to agree with Mr. Cross. The album was produced both here in Ottawa and in Toronto by Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep, Holy Fuck) and contains an 11-song track list which is sure to have some hits on it. Listen to their first single “Dance Cry Dance” off the album below.
I thought recently that it’s a little unfair to just exclusively post about Canadian music, when there’s an entire world of great stuff out there. Obviously I have an infinite amount of love for my compatriots… I think it’s really impressive how much awesome, diverse music comes out of Canada. So I’m going to give another country some attention today, one that will always have a spot in my heart. in 2010, I did a month-long road trip all around New Zealand with a great friend, and everything about the country touched the core of my spirit. The landscapes, the natural environment, the wonderful people, and also the music. With a tiny population of only 4.4 million people, New Zealand has had some great sounds come out of their country. I discovered bands like Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Dropn. But one band that I really think deserves some attention here in North America is Kids of 88. Their 2012 album Modern Love is all around incredible to listen to – it’s well produced and is has so many solid tracks on it. Here’s a great video for the song “Tucan”, one of my favourites off the record. Hear Kids of 88 takes me back to that place I was a few years ago. The nostalgia!!!