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OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #1 – SARAH HARRIS

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the first interview in this series, I spoke with Sarah Harris (she/her), an Out of Earshot organizer whose role focuses on tech/sound and general festival coordination. She is from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and is currently a student at Memorial University studying Folklore and English.

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Sarah Harris – Photo by Lawyna Vawyna

As one of the organizers of Out of Earshot, can you first first tell me a little bit about the origins of the festival and specifically what motivated it’s formation?

From my perspective, Out of Earshot contributes to and was formed out of a wave of community-based DIY initiatives in St. John’s such as Band-Off, Girls Rock NL, St. John’s Womxn in Music, the RPM challenge, Fresh Riot, and more. Many of these initiatives were formed in response to a lack of representation in the local scene and a lack of resources and spaces available to womxn, queer, trans, and marginalized people in music and the arts. As a result of these initiatives, the past 2-3 years saw the proliferation of local bands led by and fronted by womxn, queer, trans, and marginalized people. Out of Earshot is about bringing folx and bands from other cities into this community that we’ve created so that we can showcase local bands alongside like-minded touring bands, take in new music, and learn from each others’ experiences. For touring bands, Newfoundland is certainly not an ideal tour-stop (especially when you’re booking a DIY tour) so a festival like this is really important to connect St. John’s to the larger Canadian DIY scene.

How did you get involved, and what is your involvement?

As I recall, festival organizer Jess Barry invited a whole bunch of folx from the music community to get together and chat about a prospective new summer festival. I was super stoked on it and asked to be involved! Eventually the large group dwindled and became the current organizing committee. My role for the festival itself will focus primarily on tech/sound engineering and gear coordination. In the time leading up to the festival we’ve met in our small group to discuss programming, fundraisers, code-of-conduct, and general organizational stuff. We are always learning from each other, our community, and other festivals in Canada!

Can you tell me a little bit about the ways in which Out of Earshot practices inclusivity and upholds their code of conduct?

Out of Earshot operates with both a mandate and a code of conduct in mind. Our mandate guides our programming decisions, the spaces in which we choose to hold our events, and the kind of role we aim to play in the community. We mandate to program our festival and events with diversity in mind. That means prioritizing spaces for women, non-binary-trans, and queer folx on our lineup and at our events.

Throughout the year, organizers have reached out to other community organizations to encourage broader participation in our events. In order to reach folx that may feel barriers with participating in the music scene, we try to offer a variety of fundraising events such as Clothing Swaps, Pop-up Food Stands, and Karaoke. In the interest of keeping things financially accessible, Out of Earshot offers a PWYC option at events when possible and offer free festival passes to various community organizations.

Our Code of Conduct outlines our safety and inclusion policy for conduct at our events .Out of Earshot events have a no tolerance for abuse, discrimination, or disrespect of any kind. Many of the festival organizers are involved in community work outside of the festival and some have experience and specific training in areas such as naloxone training, applied suicide intervention training, and sexual assault crisis training (peer support/active listening).

We are always learning from other festivals (OXW, Lawnya Vawnya, and Slut Island to name a few) and resources such as Project Soundcheck in order to learn do better in encouraging safer spaces. We also encourage feedback and ask anyone with any questions, concerns, or suggestions to get in touch at outofearshot.fest@gmail.com.

Are there ways in which you practice inclusivity and empower marginalized groups in your community outside of Out of Earshot?

I moved back to St. John’s in 2016 after a year in Halifax. At that time, a lot of awesome womxn run organizations were starting up and I was super eager to get involved. 2016 was the first year for Girls Rock NL, a rock camp for girls and gender non-conforming youth. I joined on as an instrument instructor that summer and have taught at the camp in subsequent years. That same year, Joanna Barker and Kate Lahey started St. John’s Womxn in Music, a community arts organization which is dedicated to prioritizing spaces for women identified, two-spirit and non-binary folk to acquire and share conceptual and technical knowledge about the music industry. Through SWIM I’ve offered workshops on home recording, guitar pedals, and live sound. Through these workshops and sessions I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from so many amazing folx from our community and from away. In 2018 I joined the board of directors of SWIM and co-presented, with Lawnya Vawnya, a workshop on multimedia performance facilitated by Maylee Todd (Toronto). Always down to share knowledge/chat/jam/troubleshoot!

What are the overarching goals and long-term plans for Out of Earshot?

Out of Earshot is an incorporated non-profit organization and we intend to build on the festival and grow each year. At the moment we’re focusing on putting off our inaugural festival to the best our ability. We intend to build a sustainable festival model and develop relationships with other music festivals and labels in Canada and really help connect St. John’s and Atlantic Canada to the larger Canadian music scene.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset

ALBUM REVIEW: “MOTH EYES” BY PLASTIC CACTUS

Plastic Cactus (Plactus) is a dark & moody four-piece from Portland, OR. Built on the desert-inspired surf rock sound that Plastic Cactus developed while writing and recording their debut EP Pricks in 2017, they have now released their second four-song EP, Moth Eyes, that was recorded earlier this year.

“Nothing”, the single from the Moth Eyes EP, captures the feeling of being trapped into a banal routine. You are immediately lulled by the bass line and hauntingly soft vocals; although the giddy-up percussion builds anticipation of a higher tempo, the song wanes back into a lull by the vocals repeatedly breathe the lyric “feels like nothing”.

Dueling, intertwined, spaghetti-western inspired guitar parts set the stage for the story that “Moth Eyes” (which titled the EP) tells about a whispering skull that warns of imminent death. The song picks up at this warning, and after a series of eerie “oohs”, the song is cast into a minute-long outro with surf-inspired leads.

In “Off Beat”, the percussion reminiscent of a rattlesnake’s rattle to deter or warn predators must be a metaphor for the disappointing ex-boyfriend that “can’t even keep a beat”.

The final track of the EP, “Tumbleweeds (Plactus Theme)”, has a guitar melody that resembles a Sergio Leone soundtrack. This song (and the entire EP) is concluded with horns that completes the imagery of mounting a horse and riding towards the desert’s horizon.

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Lauren Miles Photography

STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A. Basset

ALBUM REVIEW: “OBEY XI” BY CUTIE

Has anyone ever asked you “why are you so angry?” and you don’t know why or how, but you just are. That’s how I feel about Cutie’s latest EP OBEY XI—they’re angry and I don’t know why, but I can feel it.

Halifax’s Cutie did a physical release of this EP for Obey Convention XI in May with a limited run of only 10 tapes. I honestly don’t know if it gets any more punk than that. I took a calculator and added up the total minutes of the EP: a ripping 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Maybe that’s a weird thing to do, but I was trying to process how something so short could be so powerful. An important thing to note is the cover art for the EP, a photo of president Xi Jinping, which guitarist B claimed they used because “socialism is good and cool”.

The EP starts fuzzed-out with “intro”: an instrumental and almost dance-like track with a wailing guitar riff trickled on top. The next song “might” is pure fire the whole way through. Vocalist Jess yells along to veering guitar breaks into a breakdown that sounds like something you’d want to listen to while navigating through crowds of filth; see: businessmen. “Brother” builds fast and mean with a quick guitar solo at the end of the track that leaves you wanting more. Cutie doesn’t seem to be about lengthy solos (which I love). The ending track “control” is where the EP ties itself together; starting slow then accelerating into a raged filled passage just to be slowed down again into another breakdown that made me dance in my office chair.

The next time you’re feeling dissonant about your stupid job, throw this EP on for a short, socialist, rage-filled escape.

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Cutie at Halifax Public Libraries
Photo by OBEY Convention.

You can check Cutie out for yourself at these upcoming shows:

Saturday July 7 @ NO Funswick  FEST 4, Moncton, New Brunswick

Saturday August 11 @ Renegade Records, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Wednesday August 29 @ Radstorm, Halifax, Nova Scotia


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Stephanie Muise

PLAYLIST: SURFY SUMMER WAVES

We’re in the full swing of summer and the sun is high in the sky. Can’t wake up? Don’t want to melt in the scorching blaze? Tune out with this surfy summer waves playlist!

Luau or Die

With twangy guitar riffs and solos that will lull you in then throw the roof off, Luau or Die kicks it up to 11 with Lady Valentine on lead guitar. Rip one open and turn up the surfy-spy sounds of Luau or Die!

The Surfrajettes

Surfrajettes: women seeking the right to SURF through coordinated outfits and rockin’ 60’s guitar riffs. Classic surf music with a modern twist; the Surfrajettes are coming to you out of the Port Perry area. Sarah, Nicole, Shermy and Amber came out with their first 3-song EP in September 2017. Add this one to your get-up-and-surf playlist!

The Garrys

With traditional surf guitar influences and shoegazy lyrics, The Garrys let you float away on their mellow tracklisting. This one comes from their 2016 album “Warm Buds“. Erica, Julie and Lenore bring you a mix of garage and doom-wop sounds from Saskatoon. Float on the surface with your ears underwater and enjoy “In this Dream”.

The Aquadolls

Totally fuzzed out sailing while you’re waiting for the perfect wave: the Aquadolls started as a bedroom project by vocalist Melissa Brooks before she was picked up by Burger Records.

The Ape-Ettes

The Ape-Ettes are a Sudbury three-piece with a punch; their first full length EP came out last year and it isn’t one to miss! With songs in English, French, and a blend of both, the Ape-Ettes will keep you on your toes. I can’t wait for their next album.

The Definitelays

Another Saskatchewan trio with vibrating vocals that will bring you straight to the scene of a hot summers night.

Marie-Claire et les Hula-Hoops

Sous La Pluie (Under the Rain) might be about crappy weather but this track is anything but. Light and airy with a twinge, the vocals from Marie-Claire (Montreal) weave through this track like a loose knit sweater.

La Luz

Okay… I know La Luz has a new album out, but I can never leave Weirdo Shrine off of my summer rotation.

BBQT

Psh. Put this one on repeat too. This track is the ultimate heatwave vibe. Want to know more about BBQT? Check out their new EP that literally JUST came out called ALL FOR SHOW! Some of my favourite artists are from Montreal and BBQT is no exception.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Carley Schweitzer

 

VIDEO REVIEW: “WHO’S HE GOING TO MEET” BY BABY BRAINS

On June 22nd, Baby Brains (PA) released an offical music video for “Who’s He Going To Meet” from the catchy four-song EP, Eat Your Heart Out. Directed by Bob Sweeney, he captures the inspired 60’s era vibe that Amanda Steever envisioned.

“Who’s He Going To Meet” is a pop anthem for heartache, but the music video is an homage to the friendships with womxn that outlast any break-up. Amanda isn’t alone in her heartbreak, nor in wearing her heart-shaped glasses. This is a group of womxn that show up for each other. After Amanda dials her friends, they all drop what they are doing to show their support, indulge in greasy diner food, and treat themselves with a twist-cone. The video ends with each of her friends looking into the camera over their heart-shaped glasses; the lyrics may have been about a recent ex, but this song is about the friends that are there to pick you up.

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Amanda Steever of Baby Brains
Photo by Bob Sweeney

STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset