In its second year running, MEGAPHONO has upped the ante and significantly expanded its scope and size. The festival, which takes place February 2–5, 2016, brings industry professionals to Ottawa and gives local artists and delegates the rare opportunity to connect with those who are working in the music business.
Last year saw the release of the Connecting Ottawa Music report on the city’s status in the music industry, which presented some revelations about the challenges Ottawa faces with respect to its lack of music infrastructure and connectedness to the wider industry in Canada and North America. We at Showbox were very proud to contribute to this report by providing important data on 2014 album releases.
This unprecedented report not only outlined the barriers that are preventing Ottawa from moving forward as a “music city,” but it also offered a glimmer of hope by providing recommendations and a strategy based on core principles. One of the most critical recommendations from the report reads as follows [p.65]:
3. Connect Ottawa’s music community to the global music industry.
Advocate for Ottawa’s music community at national institutions
Facilitate exchanges with more prominent music clusters
Lead delegations to trade shows and festivals (e.g. MIDEM, SXSW)
Promote Ottawa’s music cluster to outsiders
MEGAPHONO is doing something that has never really been done in Ottawa before. Not only are the organizers tirelessly reaching out to important industry personalities in places like Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City, and London (UK), but they are actually bringing them to Ottawa over the course of the festival. This affords Ottawa artists the opportunity to have an audience with the people that might be able to advance their careers – or at least get on their radar. This includes booking agents, record labels, music publishers, film/TV music supervisors, managers, publicists, and more. Like any other business, music is about connecting with the right people, and just as the report recommends, Ottawa needs to bring industry personnel together so that coalescence can happen.
“MEGAPHONO is about getting the right people in the room to see our artists,” says festival director Jon Bartlett. “The best way to tell the story of Ottawa music is to drag industry folks here to see and hear it for themselves. If we put our best artists on stage with key music people in the room, I’m confident good things will happen.”
Attendees will enjoy four solid days of music, with all performances open to the public. Over those four days, 60 artists will be performing in Ottawa at various locations, 47 of which are local acts.
Noted music critic and author Jessica Hopper (MTV, Pitchfork) will kick things off at the launch on Tuesday, February 2nd with a keynote speech at St. Alban’s Church; MEGAPHONO will also screen a film this year called Terminal Device, directed by Ross Turnbull, edited by U.S. Girls‘ Meg Remy and with music composed by Slim Twig.
Additional panels and networking opportunities with industry reps are available to those purchasing a delegate pass. Fan festival passes are $50; delegate passes run for $100. Both are available at http://www.megaphono.tv/passes/.
Highlights of this year’s festival include:
MEGAPHONO Meltdown — MEGAPHONO after party in Hull, QC at AXENÉO7
PANELS — daytime talks focusing on music industry-related topics and conversations focused on our local music community
FREE SHOWCASES — Wednesday & Thursday afternoon showcases in the Centretown & Hintonburg neighbourhoods
Over 30 visiting delegates from LA, NYC, London (UK), Toronto & Montreal
Tuesday, February 2nd
4:00 – 6:30pm
MEGAPHONO FESTIVAL OFFICIAL LAUNCH
w/ keynote by JESSICA HOPPER
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE ACORN / EMILIE & OGDEN / PIPAHAUNTAS
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE VISIT / HEAVY BEDROOM / NOVEMBER @ BLACK SQUIRREL BOOKS
The Acorn released their latest album, Vieux Loup, at House of Common with help from Isaac Vallentin and Pipahauntaus.
Pipahauntaus kicking things off at House of Common in Ottawa, ON.
With us gathering in a renovated Hintonburg area garage, now the multifunction space known as House of Common, the show was ready to begin. The crowd huddled together and with all the lights turned off except for a blue light shining right at her, Pipahauntas got started. Many know her as Sam Pippa of local bands Organ Eyes and Blue Angel. Her solo project, Pipahauntas, is quite different and distinct from the other bands she’s involved in. No guitar or bass here – she is armed with a laptop, four pedals and a microphone, delivering trip hop and lo-fi rumblings. Pipahauntaus’ music is great for late night cruise with your windows down with the wind slowly gracing your cheeks and flowing in your hair. It was great to finally hear her perform live, I strongly recommend catching her when you can and giving her a listen here in the meantime.
Isaac Vallentin wowing the crowd at House of Common in Ottawa, ON.
Up next was Isaac Vallentin, riding high off the release of his incredible debut album Hedera. Lead singer of The Acorn, Rolf Klausener, described during their set as, “one of the best albums to come out this year.” Opening with the soft and gentle first track fromthe album, “Cloud of Smoke” exposes Vallentin’s fragility and begins to highlight the excellent musicianship he and his band exude. This night was also a celebration of the release of Hedera and marked the first time the band performed together live. Vallentin said, “I have an album for sale over there, I don’t care how much you have if you want it I’ll make sure you leave with a copy.” The rest of the set saw the band play songs of Hedera including “Hindsight”, in which Vallentin switched from guitar to keys, as well as “Stewardess” which may be my favourite song of his. To close out the show they performed “Garden II (Yellow Ire)”, and as the song approached its climax, Vallentin removed his glasses to power through the final stretch of rocking out.
The crowd had now grown to what felt like well over 100 people, many of which had to stand outside to enjoy The Acorn. Veterans of the scene, Vieux Loup is The Acorn’s fourth studio album and first in five years. New music from The Acorn is quite the treat for this long time fan, who still remembers sitting on the floor of Club SAW for the release of their first album, Pink Ghost. After playing their second song “Rapids,” Rolf thanked everyone for hanging out on a Friday night. “This is not exactly a party album, thanks for enduring us while we play slow songs on a Friday night.” I saw no complaints in this crowd. The set was full of new tracks off of Vieux Loup, as one could expect. Songs like “Cumin” and “Dominion”, really stood out as timeless gems for future shows. I do hope that Rolf calls up Caylie from Boyhood on stage one day to join him for “Dominion” because even though he did a great job with it, the album version with both voices is beautiful. They strayed from Vieux Loup to play a couple songs from The Acorn’s breakthrough album No Ghost, including the title track which ended the show and sent us of into the cool summer night, awestruck and energized.