Mirror Mountain Film Festival is the newest addition to Ottawa’s expanding indie festival landscape, and contains an exciting schedule of events for the people of Ottawa to enjoy. The festivities will take place December 1-3 at Arts Court Theatre, bringing together the creative minds of filmmakers from across the world. In addition to film screenings, parties, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions, Mirror Mountain is teaming up with Showbox as a co-presenter for this year’s live music programming. The live portion will combine two key aspects – a live music performance and a film/media art performance that will run concurrently.
We’ll be co-presenting two events throughout the festival, which you can read more about below. Tickets $5 / Passes $20 are available for pre-order here. Check out the full festival schedule on the Mirror Mountain website.
Ottawa musicians Merganzer and Montreal media artist Sonya Stefan present Passé Composé, a collaborative live performance based on the theme of transformation.
Stefan creates dynamic live images from a combination of damaged film footage and video feedback. Performing with disintegrating equipment of all kinds, from broken video mixers, to scratched and worn celluloid film strips, to glitched television screens, Stefan transforms, manipulates and overlaps projections in real time, creating a truly unforgettable experience. She will be joined for part of the performance by fellow Montreal media artist Emma Roufs.
Merganzeris the project of violinist Mika Posen, combining instrumental soundscapes, ambient textures and melodic interludes. Posen’s expressive compositions take the listener on a dream-like sonic journey. She will be accompanied on stage by percussionist Pascal Delaquis (Little Scream, Claude Munson). They will be using electronic effects to transform the violin and drums into a unique palette of polyphonic sounds inspired by Stefan’s images.
Join for a party in our festival lounge featuring a special set by Ottawa dream-pop quartet Sparklesaurus. Their sound pairs the emotional rawness of garage rock with the lush glitter-infused tonalities of glam, set in a landscape of scaling synths, swirling guitar tones, colourful harmonies, and a stoney rhythm section. Its members are Felicity DeCarle, Colleen Jones, Shamisa Schroeder and Brad Lapensee.
It’s been a little over a year since Toronto’s Weaves released their debut LP on Buzz Records, rapidly becoming a household name in the Canadian independent music landscape. They have been quick to garner international praise for their brand of unconventional guitar pop with not-so-subtle hints of improvisation. The self-titled effort was largely, considered a great success by music publications far and wide. Their album also scored them a short list nomination for the Polaris Music Prize this year, which they performed at a few weeks back after a year of relentless touring. Let’s just say that this is one band you can’t miss seeing live.
Weaves isn’t kicking back just yet. They have just released their second LP called Wide Open, and are out to prove that there is no obstacle too big for them to scale. Their answer to the challenge of following up a hugely successful debut is to keep creating, and continue to push boundaries wherever possible.Wide Open bounces from calm to chaotic, and pulls listeners in every direction. Early listens from publications like Stereogum indicate that Wide Open will surpass expectations, and even critically out-do their debut. I chatted with founding member of Weaves, Morgan Waters, about their success, their approach to following up their first album, and new steps they’ve taken as a band.
Weaves seems to tread a line between people’s comfort zones. Is keeping listeners on their toes something that comes naturally to the band?
I think with any art you don’t want to be boring. And with us it’s always a mix, we don’t really plan anything out. It’s about showing all the influences crashing up against each other. We want to surprise the listeners, and surprise ourselves. The mix of the artistic and the pop gets thrown into the blender where there’s no genres or anything like that. It’s all fodder for something new.
In what ways did the road and your experiences after the debut release influence songwriting on the new LP Wide Open?
Jasmyn starts everything and it all seems to come from her initial spark. She doesn’t really write anything down, she kind of ruminates about things for a while without telling any of us. It seems to come out of her when she goes to the rehearsal space by herself, recording, looping, figuring things out, and from there it all comes out pretty fast. When she’s in that mode, it’s a quick and fertile ‘brain’ thing going on with her. Then we hear the demos she comes up with and we work on it from there, but within 20 minutes of writing a song the lyrics are all usually there and never change.
You and Jasmyn have an obvious chemistry together in the band. In what ways do you compliment each other as artists?
I think Jasmyn is more impulsive and emotional, and I’m more of an editor. I help present her initial ideas in a way that elevates them. That mix of impulsiveness and my revising or editorial skills kind of complete each other. She loses interest quickly and I never stop obsessing, so we temper each other in that way.
A lot of the time I’m sort of translating her ideas, where I’ll sit there and say what I think will work for whichever project we’re focusing on. I’m very happy to work that way and cycling through the ideas, I have an endless amount of patience. I’ll work hard to try to find the “thing” that clicks for both of us.
Many of us were really excited to see that a collaboration with Tanya Tagaq was included on Wide Open, and the Polaris gala performance of Scream was incredible. How did the partnership come to fruition?
We met Tanya at Iceland Airwaves, on the airplane ride over there. Spencer and Zack kind of knew a few of her band members, and we sort of hit it off the whole weekend. We went to her show, and ever since then we always sort of thought that it would be really great to work with her on something since she takes a very improvisational approach to her music as well, which we’re into. It’s all about capturing a moment, and “Scream” seemed like the perfect song to collaborate with her on.
There is a distinct visual element to Weaves, in things like music videos and album art. What role does visual art and aesthetic play for the band?
It’s a major consideration, but it’s also something that just happens. Similar to our music, we like to leave our videos kind of open so that we can improvise on the day-of. On “Scream” we had a white room studio and a good DP (Director of Photography), so Jasmyn and Tanya were able to move around the space freely. It’s personal expression first, and then concept or theoretical parts are secondary. It’s really about freedom of expression, and that factors into our videos. We shoot stuff and see what happens.
Weaves was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize this past year, and there were a lot of incredible artists in the running. What do you think Lido Pimienta’s recent win means for Canadian music?
The best part was that we were given the opportunity to perform live, since playing on stage is where I think we can really stand out. So performing on stage with people like Feist and Lido was a way for us to really show what we’re all about. To us, that was much more important that any sort of competition or win in our books. The concept of “winning” in art is weird. So just the fact that we got to play, and play a new song “Scream” with Tanya was the biggest part for us, really exciting.
I think with Lido’s win, I don’t know if it shows what direction Canadian music is going… I’m not really sure how the voting works and all that. It’s so great that a DIY artist like her can win something like that, and I think that will become the norm as labels keep shutting down and people keep doing things themselves. There are no major label budgets and funding isn’t always there, so artists need to be able to do it themselves. Lido winning shows that you don’t need all that other crap, it’s about the music. It’s about what you have to say. You don’t really need teams if you have the work ethic.
In any industry there are always a small group of individuals who reach for more than others. Raphael Weinroth-Browne is one such individual from the music industry. He’s a composer, multi-instrumentalist and master cellist with several groups and his own solo efforts. This September he was appointed this year’s and next’s Artistic Director of the Ottawa New Music Creators. A longer list of his collaborations than I’ll make here is available on their blog.
It’s been a good year for Raphael — he’s travelled to Prague with his partner Heather Sita Black to play as The Visit at Nouvelle Prague, he is one integral third of Musk Ox who just released their Woodfall album this year, and he’s also releasing his own metal-inspired chamber music that he’s composed.
Hence “Shattered Dreams,” which came out in March of this year, has been made a video. A talented Ylan Chu on piano accompanies Raphael down sweeping soundscapes of four cellos and two pianos. The video overlaps several versions of Raphael and Ylan as they play the composition by Weinroth-Browne. The cinematography is deliberate and dream-like, worth the watch. If you like the track you can buy it from Raphael’s bandcamp.
Ottawa Showbox and Dan Rascal went to visit the very talented Jim Bryson in his home studio to chat with him about Kelp and film him playing. Watch Bryson play “Firewatch” off Where the Bungalows Roam, the first album he released with Kelp.
Ever feel like dancing then crying then dancing again? Well Ottawa’s FEVERS can most certainly relate, and they made an awesome video for their song “Dance Cry Dance” which will get you on your feet and shaking what yo’ momma gave ya.
The video, which was shot by the band members themselves at Laser Quest in Ottawa, is full of colourful flashing lights, dancing, and cuts to the band performing the song. “Dance Cry Dance” is a single, and my favourite song, off their debut album No Room For Light.
The band also announced that the Dance Cry Dance EP, including remixes of the single and two brand new songs mixed by Damian Taylor (Björk, The Killers, Austra) will be released in May. FEVERS will be playing Zaphod’s May 9th and Westfest June 15th. Here’s Matias’s review of their recent show at Black Sheep Inn.
Last year, A Tribe Called Red put out one of 2013’s best electronic album Nation 2 Nation which has since won them a Juno for Best Breakthrough Group. They just dropped a new video for their track “Sisters,” featuring contemporary Powwow Drum group Northern Voice, where a group of girls from a (presumably) far off town hear about ATCR’s monthly Electric Pow Wow party happening in Ottawa and decide to make the trip. Why not make it fun? They have good times getting dressed up, dancing in a convenience store, and drive through a beautiful Canadian countryside celebrating the fact that they’re going to see the group live. The final portion of the video is the ladies actually in the club, which happens to be their home base of Babylon on Bank Street. ATCR is on stage with a packed house, and you can also see Robbie of Fall Down Gallery doing some live art. A great song deserves a great video!
Here’s what ATCR said about the video’s inspiration:
For the “Sisters” video, we wanted to show that Native Americans are like everyone else, regular contemporary people who are connected, fashion conscious and going to the club on weekends. Starring Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, “Sisters” shows three aboriginal girlfriends going on a road trip to our monthly party Electric Pow Wow in Ottawa, one of the only all indigenous parties in North America. We wanted the simplicity of the story to enhance this message and shines a light on this all-Native crew. The song is taken from our latest album Nation II Nation and exclusively uses the female vocals of powwow group Northern Voice. This is also groundbreaking as female powwow backvocals haven’t been put at the forefront like this ever before.
The DJ trio from Ottawa are making some of the greatest electronic in the world right now, and we at Showbox are super proud of them. Check out the video for “Sisters” below.
Ottawa’s Pony Girl have released a new video for their song ‘Foreign Life’ of their upcoming LP, the title of which still remains a mystery. The song is fairly simple, containing soft keys and a series of bleeps and bloops. However, lead singer Pascal Huot’s relaxed and whispery vocals allow us to fall into the song and grasp the lyrics on our own. It’s the kind of song that only works short and simple. Paired with an eerie, dimly lit video that shows Pascal playing his keys on a stovetop while battling the darkness with intermittent fluorescent lighting, Pony Girl have certainly gotten off to a great start in garnering some attention for their upcoming release. I spoke to guitarist/vocalist Isaac Vallentin about the new track, and here’s what he had to say:
This year, we here at Ottawa Showbox are proud to be media partners with the best new up-and-coming boutique arts festival in Canada, Arboretum. Before we deliver full coverage of the festivities, we’re also really happy to collaborate with Jackpine, a new digital media agency chock-full incredibly talented and inspirational individuals, to bring a series of short video features. The first instalment features the co-owner of N-Product, Dominic Coballe, co-owner of Victoire Boutique, Regine Paquette, and artist Drew Mosely. If you’re wondering what that really great song is in the video, it’s called “Thailand” by Ottawa’s own Boyhood.
There will be more videos to come, and the festival is coming up very, very soon. So get ready! Watch the first video below.
So this Ottawa filmmaker named Luca Fiore gets all his gear stolen. Not only does the thief make away with the things he needs to maintain his livelihood, but also the tools he needs to share his passion and innermost creative musings with the rest of us. While we may never know who did this, we can help alleviate some of the burden on Luca by supporting this campaign to recover some of what was lost.
I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have everything you use to create taken away. Some people don’t play fair in life, but we can show our support and empathy by jumping on board, donating, and spreading the word about this.
Please support the campaign by making a donation here:
Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Shannon Rose & the Thorns at the ‘4in1’ October Session, and was really happy with how well they fit into the afternoon. With the imminent release of their double-CD Seasons at hand, the band has released a new video for the song “Wild Wind”. We’ll be looking forward to hearing more songs from Seasons, and maybe even a few more videos too. Take a look: