Scary Bear Soundtrack performs at Mirror Mountain Film Festival 2016. Photo by Petr Maur Photography.
Mirror Mountain Film Festival is accepting proposals from musicians and media artists for the live music and visual portion of the event. As the presentation partner in this year’s festival, Ottawa Showbox is helping to pair the city’s best and brightest musicians with the independent film festival which takes place December 1st–3rd at Arts Court Theatre.
The live portion will combine two key aspects – a live music performance and a film/media art performance that will run concurrently. Bands and filmmakers/media artists are encouraged to submit their proposals before the May 15, 2017 deadline. The festival will pair successful applicants together for the performance, but bands that have a firm idea of a filmmaker or media artist that they’d like to work with are also able to submit their application together as a combo. Only one band and one filmmaker/media artist will be selected to participate in this year’s festival.
To submit a proposal, follow the link to the official call here.
Check out some past performances by Scattered Clouds and Scary Bear Soundtrack below.
Jade Bergeron, a.k.a. Flying Hórses, has done things that few artists in Ottawa/Montreal have done before. Her 2015 album Tölt was recorded in Iceland at Sundlaugin Studio with the help of producer Birgir (Biggi) Jón Birgisson of Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós. The album is, as far as we’re concerned, a masterpiece in its own right (read our piece on it here). The emotional, cinematic soundscapes crafted by Bergeron are moving instrumental pieces, and a few of the songs –”Tölt” and “Attic” – have recently been made into music videos.
We caught up with Bergeron and spoke with about her recent endeavours, and her new videos for “Tölt” and “Attic” can be seen below. Be sure to catch Flying Hórses’ JUNOfest performance on Saturday, April 1 starting at 8pm at St. Alban’s Church along with Her Harbour, Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene), and Pugs and Crows and Tony Wilson.
What have you been up to since returning from Iceland? Can you talk a bit about your involvement with Banff Centre?
I’ve been pretty busy. I got back from Iceland just in time to perform my first two solo-piano concerts as part of the Festival de Jazz de Montreal. I spent the summer writing new material and collaborating with videographers.
I was invited to go work over at The Banff Centre in the fall. Waking up every morning to clean, fresh air, in the middle of the mountains, and to be surrounded by talented, inspiring artists was so amazing. I had my own studio, with a grand piano, harpsichord, vibraphone and a few percussive instruments. The other musicians in my residency we’re singer/songwriters and we’re working on two or three shorter songs, but I decided when I got there that I was going to compose one, longer instrumental, movement. I had written a small part of the new track over in Iceland but the entire rest of the movement happened really organically during my first week in Banff.
Being back in nature, really brought the song to life. I had heard about the residency through Charles actually, and being a fan of his post-rock band DO MAKE SAY THINK and of his work in general, I applied. I guess both himself and Brendan Canning thought I would be a good fit for the residency. I ended up meeting a classical guitarist and experimental cellist, Alex Mah out there, who was there working with Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and after hearing him play, invited him to record cello on my new piece. Charles played horns and a few other musicians also contributed to the movement.
I wanted the entire recording experience to feel organic, and stress-free. The new movement was mixed by Efrim (Godspeed You! Black Emperor over at Hotel 2 Tango in Montreal and I just got the master back from Biggi (Sigur Ros) in Iceland. It’s a pretty heavy listen, but it’s colourful and it represents a really important recent time in my life. We are shooting a short film/video for the single right now in Iceland. I’m very excited about the whole thing. It’s going to feature a very well-known actor/model in the Icelandic community, so I’m really glad to be working with this team, overseas. The new movement and video should hopefully be out in the spring.
The video for Tölt is a beautifully crafted, yet tragic story of two young people alienated from the world in different ways. Why were children the subjects? Can you expand on the concept?
I wrote ‘Tölt’ during a time of reflection on my own childhood. The entire record ended up feeling/sounding like a soundtrack to the past. I used a lot of instrumentation that represented the innocence of being young and wide-eyed. When Alex approached me with the idea of making a video/short film for that particular track, he already had a lot of great conceptual ideas, and before even bringing up what the track represented to me, he was already story boarding about a childhood trauma. We connected on the video, immediately.
My contribution to the video was limited. Once Alex and I went over the storyboard together, he began casting calls for the actors, and it wasn’t long before they them. Production spent some time in the fall working on production and the post-production happened in the winter. The whole process was really amazing. Both young actors really did a great job, and I’m so grateful for the level of professionalism the entire team demonstrated throughout. It’s been an honour working with all of them.
What does the piano mean to you? How has music helped you through past struggles and traumas?
My relationship with the piano has been a roller coaster since I was a kid. I’ve tried my hand at a few different instruments over the years, but my heart has always lead me back to the piano. It feels the most organic. I enjoy having the keys right there in front of me, I’m a very visual person. I really have no idea what I was doing with my life, before writing and composing music, and I don’t know what I would do without it.
Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming video for attic? Will it be related to the story in Tölt?
Attic was produced by Antoine S. Legault from Lonely Fire Productions. The song is one of the last tracks on the record. I never really intended for it to end up there, actually. It’s quite dark, heavy and creepy and I think is a transition between the really optimist, innocent, lullaby songs that start off the album, and the new single I’ll be releasing sometime in the spring. I wrote it while I was reflecting on memories (much like Tolt). The video opportunity came about organically, this past winter. I sat down with Antoine back in December and we talked about making this short film/video that was kind of dark, creepy and mysterious. Coming out of a bit of heaviness myself, I decided to focus the story on loss and melancholy. Antoine came up with the storyboard and we shot the video in one afternoon in an abandoned house. It was freezing cold and creepy, but it was a really awesome experience.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Juno festivities taking place in Ottawa?
I don’t perform very often. In fact I pretty much only played festivals last year. My focus has mostly been on writing new material, and catching up on the release of the record. Junofest asked me to perform as part of the only ‘instrumental/experimental’ showcase for the festival. It will be fun to share the stage with Charles Spearin again, and a good friend of mine Her Harbour is playing too. It’ll be nice to see so many great musicians roaming around Ottawa for The Juno’s.
When you put on the first song on Jenn Grant’s latest album, Paradise, you immediately know it’s different from her past work. The listener is greeted by trance-inducing percussion that stimulates sensory inputs – a feeling that continues the whole way through the album.
Jenn Grant was born in Charlottetown, P.E.I., but currently resides in Lake Echo, NS. She has become renowned internationally as a successful folk-singer. Recognized for her highly acclaimed album, Compostela, she has created a name for herself as a Juno-nominated Canadian artist, and this album follows suit.*
The unique sound of Paradise started with the chosen core instrument. This is the first album on which Jenn chose to play the piano. With the help of her husband, she then paired that base with synths, bits of soul, and electronics to build the majority of the sounds. This combination was also paired with a heavier percussion than in previous albums, which, with her vocals, created a powerful fusion of sound that fully immerses the listener. When asked about these fundamental differences between her albums, she put it very simply:
“The colours of this album are different.”
The majority of inspiration didn’t come from something, but rather the lack of something – the empty spaces found in music over the last year or so. Major loses include the likes of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, just to name a few. They were all powerful forces in their own right within the industry, and have all had an impact on Jenn and her music over the years. Coming through lucid dreams, Jenn looked through her connections in the music community to form the vivid new colours that can be found on the album.
Curious about her ability to have full memories of these dreams, I inquired about how this was possible. She explained the dream she had inspiring the song Rocket, sharing that the night after David Bowie died she found herself flying through space with him.
Straighten your tie at the end of a golden road, thank you for coming by. Looking sharp, I saw your face and thought, my god, is this good bye?
…let us not pretend now, that we’ve got all the answers.
It was on this journey that he told her she should embrace her gifts. Though she only recently started to keep a notebook by her bed again, Jenn explained that vivid dreams like this one leave a lasting impact. They are hard to forget, although she decided to start documenting the special ones from here on.
Growing up on the East Coast impacted Jenn as a person, which subsequently impacted her music. Finding a tight-knit group of local artists created a “special bond” for all of them. All having a unique perspective on music and touring, they support each other through the process. To her, it’s a group of likeminded artists sharing a life.
As for Jenn’s plans for Ottawa, she says the show will be more fun, highlighting her new material. She has always liked playing in the city, which became evident last week when she surprised Black Squirrel Books with a pop-in show alongside CBC’s All in a Day host Alan Neal. Each show Jenn plays is different.
Her show on March 25th at the NAC will be different for a lot of reasons, including performing in a larger room and having a bigger sound than previous shows. She promises that it will be dynamic. There will be new stuff, bits of old stuff, and of course lots of love. Pricing and ticket information for the NAC show can be found here.
Jenn’s Song I Wish I Wrote But Didn’t – I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany.
Ottawa’s droney post-punk outfit Expanda Fuzz has released a new video for their single “Sonic Halo.” The track appears on bandcamp along with a cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” in the wake of founding member Maurice White’s death last year.
The track is a minimalist psychedelic trip, with rolling percussion, a fuzzy lead guitar part, and mesmerizing vocals by Niki. The video’s aesthetic is dark and ominous, taking place in a remote field at dusk and featuring characters with strange masks and costumes. The video is not as dark and creepy as their video for “Flavour: Zombie” released last year, and it also contains beautiful colours of the sunset. However, the smoke-breathing Grim Reaper-type character also leaves the viewer with chills down the spine, and it’s not the kind of figure you’d want to run into on a dark, empty farm.
Although the song is just over two minutes long, it’s great to see a video being made that perfectly suits the sound of Expanda Fuzz. This song could have easily been incorporated into season one of True Detective, or even Apocalypse Now. The video accurately reflects that kind of imaginary trip into the darkness.
Expanda Fuzz is playing JUNOfest March 31st with Dilly Dally, No Fuss, and The Dirty Nil at House of TARG. Ticket and wristband information can be found here.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is made up of about 2,200 permanent residents, while Dartmouth has about 67,500. The City of Ottawa has more permanent residents than the entire province. It’s easy to be recognized, its easy to know of a lot of people, and if you are a public figure like Joel Plaskett, it’s no shock that pretty much everyone can find a connection to you.
Joel Plaskett is known around town not only for his music, but his work in the community. Advocating for the arts in Nova Scotia through organizations like the Khyber, growth of Dartmouth’s downtown core, and producing up and coming local artists. Encouraging growth in the arts is something that is found within many members of the Plaskett family. While living in Lunenburg, Bill Plaskett was one of the founding members of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival. This festival has continued to be one of the towns flourishing events, highlighting local artists on its many stages, including Joel. The most recent project undertaken by the Plaskett duo has been the appropriately named Solidarity album released in February.
When I was told that I had a chance to speak with Joel, I knew that I wanted to highlight the importance of community, family, and to showcase the importance of that word solidarity. I chose to reach out to my community to find which questions they would want to ask. I was not disappointed. I learned more in that part of this interview process than I expected to in the whole thing. Many were interested in family, wanting to know what it was like to produce an album with his Dad, and how much of an influence his dad was on his career. Some were interested in his work in Dartmouth, some of his past experiences, and others interested in where he saw things going in the future.
When creating Solidarity, partnering with his dad changed the album’s sound from his usual influences, and it brought him a sense of grounding. The process led to the exploration of parts of the self, bringing back the sounds of traditional folk. Discussions of the album began about a year before they decided to go ahead with it, booking the tour before solidifying the albums production. The deadline was tight. They started the recording process in October of last year with a deadline in the first part of November, which gave them about 30 days to record and produce it in it’s entirety. Having shared a stage in the past with his father, Joel wanted to take that further and give his dad more of the stage. Bill takes lead on five songs on the album, which are rooted deeply in tradition. A sound that was also inherited by Joel, bringing him “full circle” in his dad’s influence on his music. This was an influence that started by digging through old record collections, finding interest in certain musicians that have impacted the sound Joel carried into his career. The guitar style he was interested in was very much his dad’s, an influence that he noticed come through more on this album than on other albums. This album mixes Bill’s ‘social’ musical style with Joel’s more professional approach to music production, bringing the “living room to the stage.”
Growing up, Joel was influenced by music from a variety of sources. His love of rock music began from a lesser-known source, which was his time spent at Camp Wapemeo. Located in Yarmouth, Joel attended this camp with Ian McGettigan and Rob Benvie, who would later join him to form Thrush Hermit. It was at this camp where Chef Bobby got up in front of the whole camp and air guitared Stairway to Heaven at campfire. For Joel, that moment wasn’t about the air guitaring, but about having his first taste of Led Zeppelin. He talked about his “a-ha” moment, sitting at the fire thinking, “WHAT IS THAT SONG?!” He was 12 or 13 years old, and he admits that those camp moments changed his life.
Camp, like most kids, left a lasting impact for Joel. Memories for him also included a song well known which was sung by all the kids at Camp Wapemeo. That song was Leaving on a Jet Plane. Years later, well into his career, Joel was asked to play at a camp located in Ontario. He ended up finding out that his song, True Patriot Love, became the “Leaving on a Jet Plane” song for that camp, and thinking, “Yes. I made it!”
Understanding the ins and outs of music industry is important when working the way Joel does. Running an all-in-one record store/barber shop/coffee shop/recording studio in Dartmouth keeps him in the loop about what the local industry looks like, while also giving him the ability to produce records for musicians on-site. The New Scotland Yard Emporium has provided the space for many locals like Mo Kenney to build their foundation in the music industry. Other renowned artists have gone through NSYE, such as Cancer Bats and, of course, Frank Turner who recently played a pop-up acoustic show while on tour last month.**
Growing this hub in Dartmouth has made the profession accessible for him, and other musicians in the area. Sharing worries about the financial sustainability of the industry, he says there is little money in recording and that artists can only find security through money earned while on tour. Streaming has impacted the ability to earn money off records, but has had an impact on developing a fan base for shows while away. Joel has been fortunate enough to develop an audience that has grown and gotten older with him throughout the years, many of whom are dedicated to coming to shows. Anyone who has been in that audience knows Joel takes pride in his shows, keeping it professional and casual. You’d find yourself excited to be there, and comfortable enough to go have a conversation with him after the show. Connecting with the audience and encouraging that his shows, and music in general, “is something everyone can be a part of.”
This mindset has kept him able to continue to work within the community. Avoiding the fan fair often associated with being a well-known performer, and wanting to maintain his ability to walk down the streets of Dartmouth. Relax and enjoy the simplicities in life, like disconnecting from the world of technology and telephones and going for walks around Lake Banook (one of Dartmouth’s many lakes, it is the City of Lakes after all). Keeping this small-town mentality allows for the ability to slow down, which, in true Nova Scotian fashion, also includes the boycotting of Sunday shopping – the belief that everyone needs a day of rest and relaxation.
Being on tour provides a different kind of relaxation for Joel. It provides the relaxing “feeling of being useful.” Knowing that in the moments while away, he is doing exactly what he needs to be doing. When getting on stage he is comfortable. He knows the tuning, he knows what to prepare, and knows that that first song should sound and feel like. Joel and Bill Plaskett will be playing the National Arts Centre on March 18th. He tells us to expect a shared stage. Opening for them is a “fuzzy-folk” duo, Mayhemingways, who have also been recruited to do some backing up for the Plaskett’s set. In addition to these openers, the tour will have Shannon Quinn joining for the first few shows, including the NAC. She is a talented fiddler who will be playing with them for the set, making it into a five-piece group in the end. This show will be different from what people are used to, and will showcase the fusion of Bill’s traditional folk with Joel’s upbeat rock. He also promised to bring in a few of his old songs as well.
Joel’s Song I wish I Wrote but Didn’t
Nina Simone – The Twelfth of Never (original lyrics by Johnny Mathis)_________________________________________________________
**Frank Turner and Joel Plaskett have a long-standing friendship after Turner went on tour with Emergency five years ago. Joel highlighted Turner’s stage energy, general positivity, and overall genuine kindness. Plaskett also highlighted how every so often Turner will be listening to Joel’s music and it will pop up on his twitter, and people from anywhere and everywhere will comment about checking it out. For that he gave a chuckle and thanks.
Music festivals don’t just grow on trees. Whether it’s a small-scale boutique festival like Sappyfest or a large-scale behemoth such as Osheaga, festivals are the end product of a whole lot of teamwork, labour hours logged, blood, sweat – and sometimes tears.
When Garett Bass decided to move forward with a new music festival called Bangers & Mash, he knew it wouldn’t be a simple undertaking. His first rodeo was 2015’s FOLK IT ALL Festival, a packed night-long event at The Rainbow which saw a number of heavier folk and country acts hit the stage, including headliners The Jerry Cans. But 2017 offered a new opportunity to bring together musicians that share a common funky thread – soul music.
“After seeing momentum build this past year, I feel like it’s a now-or-never moment to put these bands in the spotlight and help people realize the level of talent we have here,” explains Bass. “I felt like it was time to do something similar to FOLK IT ALL for the soul music scene here, which I’ve been in entrenched in for the better part of the last decade.”
The idea took form last year when Bass and his wife went to Blakdenim’s CD release at Mavericks, where a number of bands and DJs were showcased in a small amount of time. They did short and punchy sets, all acts shared the backline, there was an MC handing out prizes in between, and afterwards they reveled in how incredible and efficient it was.
“So I decided to do a soul festival where bands play their ‘bangers’ – I thought, ‘let’s get as many acts as we can into one night with the simple rule of playing only their best songs and then getting off stage as quickly as humanly possible.”
As a member of Ottawa’s own Slack Bridges, and a past member of bands such as Steamers, Tea For the Voyage, and Mackenzie Rhythm Section, Bass is no stranger to the stage. However, organizing is a different beast altogether, so he made sure to gather a team of dedicated organizers to help him from the start.
One crucial member of the team is Ed Lister, a musician himself and founder of London Gentleman Records. Lister is a member of Chocolate Hot Pockets, Thrust, Eru-Era and an impressive Chaka Khan tribute act, and has joined forces with existing bands such as The Hornettes and The Split.
“I chose Ed to run his own stage, because he’s been the number one instigator of action and collaboration in our soul scene,” Bass says. “Ed moved here from the UK a few years ago, he plays in more acts than I can count and has helped encourage collaboration between artists all over Ottawa.”
While there are some collaborations occurring in town, it’s difficult to define a particular soul music “community” in Ottawa. There are festivals such as Ottawa Explosion, Arboretum Festival, and Megaphono that act as a crucial hub for musicians to coalesce. However, there has been a gap between the soul music fans and the musicians themselves – a gap which Bass means to fill.
“Just look at The Souljazz Orchestra shows, which have been sold out and for years. People trust anything those guys put out. The Jazz Fest late night series has been a huge success for people who love to dance to live rhythms such as Snarky Puppy, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Tennyson. Sharon Jones played here over half a dozen times to crowds of intense fans. Our most successful local nights are generally funky DJ nights such as Double Barrel or Timekode where people can go dance to DJs spinning soul music in its most authentic form – the 45 record.”
“Places like Irene’s and Bar Robo have picked up and have started weekly/monthly nights of funk jazz, and Mike Mikkelsen has been using his connections to host lots of local live and mixed soul music at Kinki’s Kitchen. Yet, I find the weird thing is that some of these bands still don’t know one another, there’s little collaborating within a genre that is historically built on collaboration.” All that to say, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of love for soul music in the capital.
Bangers and Mash will take place on the evening of March 18, and have two stages at two adjacent venues – Black Squirrel Books & Coffee and House of TARG – that will operate simultaneously. Live music and DJ sets will be staggered between each, giving concert-goers the option for either.
The impressive local lineup includes Mackenzie Rhythm Section, The Hornettes, Slack Bridges, Tropikombo, DJ Magnificent and DJ Zattar at House of TARG, while Chocolate Hot Pockets, Mack & Ben, Blast From the Sun, DJ Jas Nasty and The Full Time Groove hold the fort at Black Squirrel Books & Coffee.
“Basically anytime there’s a DJ on at Black Squirrel, there’s a band playing at House of TARG, and then it flips,” Bass clarifies. “We’re going to recommend that people plan their night well, as there may be times when one of the two venues is at capacity. Fortunately, there’s lots of amazing stuff to see!”
Bangers & Mash will take place on March 18, ticketing and event information can be found at www.bangersmashfest.com. This article appears in the March Edition of Ottawa Beat newsprint in the OSBX column.
The Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls hosted an incredibly empowering event at the YMCA-YWCA last weekend featuring three local bands. They all took the stage with raw energy and incredibly unique voices that blew away the crowd – myself included. Not only that, but each differed in genre and style of performance.
The first act was a young musician by the name of Kae Rose. She performed as a solo artist and stunned the crowd with her talent. Her sweet voice melded with the power of her electric guitar and sorrowful lyrics really brought emotion into the room and swept people away with the messages behind each of her songs. Most were heart-breaking, and seemed to feature struggle but there was always the element of hope hidden behind each one of them. The small moments where she broke the character she depicted on stage were incredibly endearing moments. She wasn’t afraid to admit that she had messed up and if she ever did mid-song, she got right back on her feet without a moment’s hesitation just like a pro. The smile that graced her face as the crowd cheered for her was one that melted hearts.
Each of the songs that she performed were composed by her, save for one. She skilfully performed Ticket to Ride by The Beatles, her voice adding unique dimension to the song that I never even knew I needed to hear. The last song performed was a song she wrote called Drown. It captured everyone’s attention due to the hopeful message the song delivered using melancholic tone. There wasn’t a person in the room who wasn’t cheering for Kae by the end of her set. She was humble and kind, thanking the audience for listening to her performance after it was over and despite how reserved she seemed her vocals were spilled out with elegance yet intensity.
The second act was a band by the name of Distilled Water, who while having technical difficulties revealed that the name of the band was a split second decision. They were waiting for their turn to play a show at their school and flipping water bottles (a trend among youth) when they found out that they needed a band name in order to play the show. The first thing they had seen was the “distilled water” label on the plastic bottle and the name stuck with them to this day. Not only did they cover a wider range of genres, including a cover of a song by Modest Mouse, they threw in a jazz piece as their last song adding a saxophone solo into it.
What impressed me most wasn’t the steampunk-looking saxophone, but rather the band’s ability to switch instruments. They were missing their drummer so they improvised, having each member switch their instrument for the three songs they performed. The drummer turned into the bassist, the bassist into the drummer. Even the singer changed for each song. The guys in the band had a vast amount of talent that needed showcasing. They managed to effortlessly hit every note and did it with such skill and precision.
Miss McLeod had a stunning performance at the YMCA. Photo by Sara Osmanovic/Ottawa Showbox.
The final act was the one that surprised me the most. She was an eleven-year-old girl by the stage name Miss McLeod. As soon as she started to belt out the words to the song “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King, I stared in awe – first at her, and then turned to Els and nothing but the words “holy crap” left my mouth in that moment. She agreed with an “oh my god.” We were both gobsmacked. This is no exaggeration. The MC had mentioned that she had praised Miss McLeod for her voice, but I was not at all prepared for what was to come out of the young girl’s mouth. Her voice was strong and powerful, never missing a single note, and always keeping to the beat. She managed to match up to Elle King’s pretty nicely, and although that isn’t the genre I’m usually into, I was incredibly astounded at the performance itself.
From sweet and melodic to the gritty and rough vocals of the second chorus, she had mastered it all. Not only was she capable of a ragged voice, but her vocal range was incredibly large for someone her age. Her vocals covered a broad range of musical stylings including the rock ballad “Sweet Child of Mine” by Gun’s ‘N Roses. Her vocal stylings were impressive, going from alto notes to high sopranos and even some falsetto’s that she managed to blend into the song naturally. She brought the house down with her performance. She made the audience feel included by getting three girls from the crowd to compete in an air guitar contest during Slash’s guitar solo featured in that song. Besides that, the sweetheart had brought candy and glow sticks (or as she put it – “magic wands”) with her. Her performances filled everyone’s hearts with happiness and love for her, and the crowd even got up and danced as opposed to staying seated as they had the rest of the show. This encouragement was seen through all the performances, but especially for this eleven year old wonder.
After all the excitement, the rambunctious crowd was thanked by the MC’s, and were asked to sit tight and listen for just a minute before the jam session was to begin. When everyone calmed down, they went on to say that they had suddenly lost a dear friend who had been part of the Ottawa music community for many years. It was evident on the faces of those around that it really hit home. The crowd that night was asked to donate to keep the programs running and to keep the music community in Ottawa blooming because it was something that would have been wanted by him.
All in all, the night was filled with a mixed bag of emotions, all evoking positivity and hope in the youth that showed up. Some were inspired to start creating and spark a change, form their own fierce girl rock bands, or even start with the small baby steps of picking up their first instrument. If you ever find yourself itching for inspiration, be sure to check out the Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls and their rad events. Even if some of the stylings may not be to your taste, I promise that you will not regret showing up and viewing the vast amount of talent that these young people possess.
Caylie Runciman a.k.a Boyhood has released a new video for “Drivin’,” the first single off her upcoming album Bad Mantras.
Bad Mantras will be the first full length by Boyhood since 2012’s acclaimed album When I’m Hungry. While the details of the new album are not yet known, “Drivin'” is a good snippet for those of us frothing at the mouth for more.
The majority of the video is set – you guessed it – in a car. Runciman cruises through icy streets of Hull on a cold Canadian winter’s night. The dreary, black and white shots are telling of the solitude that many of us feel during the long winters in the Great White North. Alone in her car, she sings and she cruises. The destination is unknown.
“Drivin'” was filmed by Ottawa videographer Travis Boisvenue, who has worked with Boyhood in the past, and has also shot music videos for The Yips, Bondar, The Acorn, Pregnancy Scares, Alaskan, and Steve Adamyk Band.
“The video is something Travis and I threw together pretty quickly, as is usually the case when we work together. I drove in to grab him and we headed to Hull in the cold,” explains Runciman.
The track has a classic feel to it, and her effortless vocals flutter melodically throughout the whole song. The distinctive heavy bass that we have come to love in Boyhood songs is the backbone, a gritty pillar for us to groove with. As it carries on, the track grows in intensity with more guitars and keys offering a heavy foot to put that pedal to the floor. Clocking in at just over 3 minutes, the song fades out just as a car would fade into the distance as it drives away.
“The song is fun and pretty positive in comparison to the rest of the album, which focuses mostly on the dark place I was in this past year,” says Runciman. “Drivin’ was written about a month ago and is more a testament to where I’m at now. The second single will be out soon! Just getting to work on the video. I can’t wait to release the album.”
With much anticipation, we wait for more material from Bad Mantras to be released over the coming months. Watch the video for “Drivin'” below.
I ventured out to The Brass Monkey on the west-side of town for a heavy night with Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose, and Harms Way.
This was the first time I went to a show at The Brass Monkey (out near Hunt Club and Greenbank) and let me tell you – I was impressed. As someone who grew up in that area, I remember playing pool there a few times in my younger days, but they have really transformed the place. A raised stage, guardrails, sprawling bar, and excellent sound. Don’t let the distance scare you away from shows at The Brass Monkey, it is very much worth the trip.
Nostalgia on this night went much further than the venue and my old stomping grounds. This was a night of hardcore and heaviness that really brought me back. From the moment I walked in a heard Harms Way, I looked at my buddy and we reminisced about how we used to love bands like that 14 years ago. I don’t listen that genre as much as I used to (not even close) but it makes me really happy that people still make and love this music. As the band from Chicago let loose, people took advantage of the space to dance and “open that shit up.” Space that would diminish as the night progressed.
Knocked Loose live at The Brass Monkey in Ottawa.
Next up was Knocked Loose from Kentucky. They kept the heat on and the crowd was into it. There was a good group of people at the front screaming along as others threw down behind them. The crowd listened to every word, when told to open it up they did, when told to two step they danced and when told to spin it they started the circle pit. It was really fun to watch. My favourite tracks of the performance were “Oblivion Peak” and their closer “Deadringer.” Once again, I forgot how much I love this music and the adrenaline rush it creates.
It was now time for the main event – Every Time I Die. I have been a fan of this band since high school. I think it all started in grade eleven when I was in a band and one of the guitarists would often play Every Time I Die in his truck. I went into the show not being particularly familiar with the band’s last two albums, and having read a review about the Toronto show, I expected a lot of the new stuff. The new albums are great, but I was there for the older stuff I had listened to hundreds of times but never seen live. I braced myself.
Every Time I Die gave the old time fans almost everything we could have asked for, and the fans responded by crowding the barriers to sing along for the entire show. Yes, they played a few new songs off of their latest album Low Teens, but they dug deep and went back through their catalogue which spans over decade long. Opening with “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” off Ex-Lives from 5 years ago, the set featured fan favourites “We’rewolf,” which was dedicated to the bartenders, “The New Black,” “Floater,” “Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Battery” and “No Son of Mine.”
Every Time I Die rocking out at The Brass Monkey in Ottawa.
My highlight for sure was one of those deep cuts, “Ebolarama” off of the 2003 album Hot Damn! I hadn’t danced all night, I had watched and given people space and just listened to the band. But as soon as the first chord was strummed I was taken over with glee and adrenaline. I stayed off to the side for a bit but then had to enter the pit and have a time. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed an elbow to the eyebrow so much.
As much as I was loving life in the hot sweaty basement, so was the band. Lead singer Keith Buckley said “It’s fucking horrific outside. I can’t think of a better place to be than a bar where you can sweat with all your friends.” He also did the great thing of giving a big shout out to the bouncers who were working hard to keep every safe while letting us have fun and express ourselves as we needed. Big ups to Mike Postma and the crew.
Photo: JS, Eric and Matias celebrating Matias’ 30th birthday at Mugshots in 2015
Words by Eric Scharf & Matías Muñoz. Photo by Ming Wu.
Jean-Sebastien Belleau, better known as JS, known to some as Johnny Moon-Hammock, but known by all as the most loveable and one of the most dedicated members of the Ottawa music scene has passed away.
Many people recognized JS by that amazingly well coiffed handlebar moustache he rocked for years. It was his outward facing calling card and the inspiration for a song by Jon Creeden. Others may know him as the man who when he wasn’t at the front of the stage singing at the top of his lungs, was probably crowd surfing no matter how low the ceiling was. But almost everyone in the punk and rock scene in Ottawa knows that no one went to as many shows as JS did.
He was, however, much more than just a man with an illuminating smile, rocking cut-off shorts and drinking tall cans at shows. He loved adventure, softball, snowboarding, bike riding, nature, slack lines, and so much more. His body was a canvas for his friends to make art on, and one thigh was reserved for album covers from his friends’ bands. Not to mention he was a trailblazer in bringing back the Hawaiian shirt style, in all its glory. He spoke passionately about getting off the grid and making his own shipping container house out in the woods. On the softball diamond his high socks and short-shorts were as constant as his line drives and joie de vive. He was our punk rock Cal Ripkin.
His hair colour changed, his facial hair changed (to much chagrin – I mean, who messes with a perfect lip rug like that?), but his kind, caring, and selfless demeanor never dissipated. I think the only mean thing JS ever did was ice people with 1 litre bottles (see here) of Smirnoff Ice, and even then you couldn’t help but laugh. As someone else said, he was so generous and helpful he would give you the shirt of his back. Hell, he would give you his pants too, even if he just met you.
You’d feel the pull of JS’ tractor beam as soon as he walked in a room. His strong, long, and lanky arms were the best for giving firm hugs, and great for launching himself over and on top of a crowd. Whether he was arm in arm with you belting out the hook of a punk rock song you both knew, or the way he genuinely told you how he felt about you in earnest, JS was the kind of person who was his essential self at all times – raw to the core and free of pretension. He was loyal, unwavering in his love for his friends and passionately dedicated to his community. He accepted you for everything you are.
If you ever need a good laugh, just go back and look at a few of his infamous stallfies. You just couldn’t not look at them.
He successfully pulled off Fuck You JS (FYJS) Fest in 2015, an endeavour that was purely meant to bring some great bands together into the same room as his best friends. He brought in Prevenge, Dig It Up, Gag Order, Alcohol Fueled, and more, to play alongside buds in Dead Weights, Jon Creeden, and Cory Levesque. You could be in the dark depths of TARG, in a sweaty living room house show (Robot House, obviously), or peeing in the urinal right beside him, and he’d make sure you felt right at home.
On behalf of the Ottawa music community and friends of JS, we send our deepest condolences to his family in this difficult time.
So, here’s to you JS. We will always love you. We raise our cheapest tallboys up for you. RIP friend.
Without that handlebar smile we will all sing a little less. – Jon Creeden