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OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 3

Day three of Out of Earshot started mid-afternoon with an outdoor show. I arrived at Bannerman park with a dog named Soda and a rootbeer cherry slushee; it was a beautiful day to sit in the grass with pals and listen to music.

Sandwiched between Neil Conway and Dormitories was Renders (ON) – Kelly McMichael’s feminist electro pop project. Joined by her pal Maria Peddle (and later Claire Whitehead), they harmonized their vocals and had a captivatingly silly stage dynamic. Through dancing and high-fives, it was apparent how much fun they had playing music together, and through the lyrics of she’s badass, it was clear how meaningful Kelly’s friendships with non-men are to her.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

Post-outdoor show, I walked downtown to get a coffee from an Out of Earshot sponser and partner, Fixed Coffee & Baking. With americano in hand, I made my way to the Eastern Edge gallery for a talk by Chris Murdoch (NS) called “Black Dots” about the history and experiences of African-Canadians/Americans in punk and hardcore music communities.

While the talk was informative as Chris traced the history of African-Canadian/American musicians in punk and hardcore, he also shared his lived experience as an African Nova Scotian listening to punk and participating in his respective community. He spoke about having to do what he called, “the racism check”, where he would have to ask whether the music he likes, likes him. He spoke about the ways in which seeing other African-Canadian/Americans participating in punk scenes encouraged him to do the same. He spoke about the alienation he felt from within both the (predominately white) punk scene and the African Nova Scotian community when he started playing in bands.

Throughout his talk he drew parallels to how womxn and trans people might also experience discrimination and alienation in music communities. Instead of the racism check, we do the sexism, misogyny, and transphobia check. We feel safer going to shows and playing on bills where other femme and gender non-conforming people have been booked. We often experience imposter syndrome participating in music communities where space is predominately taken up by cis-men.

It is so important to support local musicians in your community that are BIPoC, femme/non-binary, or identify as LGBTQIA2S+. Show up, buy their merch, book them at your shows – the more space they are given and visibility they receive, the more other marginalized folx who want to participate in music communities will feel safer to do so.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

Meanwhile, in an alleyway nearby, a generator buzzed loudly as they set up for a sneaky punk/hardcore show – there is something special about the excitment you get for a show you anticipate will get shut down.

Worst Lay (NL) played the alleyway first. Renee Sharpe is an incredible front person; when I spoke with her for the Out of Earshot interview series, she shared with me that she’s always creating what she needs in the moment, and right now, she’s healing. Worst Lay, for her, is punk therapy. Although I was deeply impressed by her ability to repeatedly scream “destruction! love!” without breaking, I think that there was more to this performance than vocal stamina – it’s about surviving.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

DOXX (ON) followed their set and as I was disappointed to have missed their set the previous night, I was thrilled to have a second chance to see their set. Stephanie Muise (“smuise”) wrote about their set the night before, “this was the first time DOXX played in Newfoundland and you can tell that it won’t be their last – they were the talk of the town”. She wasn’t wrong – Newfoundland loves DOXX. Everyone showed up again with a kind of excitement as if they hadn’t seen them the night before. They delivered what I assume was a set just as loud and fast as the night before; twice (maybe three times) Jess Barry (yee grlz) had to run in to pick up the crash cymbal that made it off of its stand.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

The generator powered down and everyone in the alleyway started to clear out; the late and final Out of Earshot show was up the street at Republic. Here we saw Conditioner, Hard Ticket, Doffing, and Surveillance.

Hard Ticket (NL) received a lot of warmth and support during their set as beloved member Meg Harnum (drums) is moving to Montreal and they won’t be playing a show together for awhile. While the support largely came from the crowd (you should have seen the bootleg Hard Ticket shirts Nicole’s (vocals/bass) parents made for themselves!!), much of the support was internal. This is a band that very obviously cares for and supports each other unconditionally.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

As the final show of the festival came to a close there were many big feelings being tossed around. The organizers (Jess Barry, Sarah Harris, Nicole Boggan, Pepa Chan, Robin Follett, Riley Pike (they/them), Nicole Squires, Becky Gibson, and Maria Peddle) were celebrating an inaugural festival that went beyond just going well logistically. Between sharing and eating food together, supplying water bottles and phone chargers, having naloxone kits on hand, never turning anyone away for lack of funds, having both all ages and bar shows, providing accessibility information, and being some of the kindest folx I’ve ever met, they successfully created a positive, safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for artists and attendees.

❤ ❤ ❤


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A. Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 2

I woke up on Friday morning and knew something was wrong. Despite my intention of making it out to every show, reading, and dinner, a stomach flu kept me home that day. Although I regrettably missed Amery Sandford and Pepa Chans zine making workshop, readings by Heather Nolan and Violet Drake, and sets by Emo Pope, Syngja, Blunt Chunks, Eastern Owl, Ritual Frames, Doxx, Frail Hands, and Yee Grlz, I was lucky enough to have some kind pals write about and photograph some of them for me.

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Violet Drake took cool command of the room at Broken Books. Though she tackled difficult topics such as violence, sexual assault, alienation, and dysphoria, she addressed the crowd with a certain gentleness. Her poetry was heavy, impactful, important. You could feel the weight of it in the room. For me, the most powerful aspect was how she brought her characters to life with their accented Newfoundland voices. These voices drew soft giggles from the crowd, yet they spoke harsh realities of judgement and ignorance, reminding me of every “it’s only a joke b’y” I’ve ever heard. Violet’s poetry is rooted firmly in Newfoundland soil, but it is not afraid to dig up a little dirt.


GUEST CONTRIBUTION: Samantha Fitzpatrick

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After hiking up Signal Hill and eating tacos at the Eastern Edge gallery, I headed to The Republic to see the late show for Out of Earshot day 2.

Yee Grlz (NFLD) started their set with my absolute favourite track who’s protecting who. They played all the songs from their new EP mercury retrograde, which should be added to your end of summer playlist immediately. Catherine Roberge also introduced their song imposter syndrome by saying “This song is about thinking and worrying you won’t be good at something but then doing it anyways – it’s about saying fuck it and having fun with your friends!”, a sentiment Chris Murdoch later echoed during his presentation Black Dots on Day 3.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

Frail Hands (HFX) played next – opening up with the song image of you from their newest split with Ghost Spirit (CA). This was the tightest set I’ve ever seen Frail Hands play. It’s rare to see a skramz band playing a punk festival but this is the perfect example of the inclusive and diverse nature of Out of Earshot. My favorite part of the set was at the end when vocalist Dawn parted the crowd like a sea and took up the space she needed for their final and most emotional track every volatile thing.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

DOXX (OTT) closed the show and played the absolute ripper of a song STAB RISK from their most recent EP. At this point all the dominion beer was sold out at the bar which could possibly explain why I don’t remember the exact order of their setlist. This was the first time DOXX played in Newfoundland and you can tell that it won’t be their last – they were the talk of the town. Their set left me wondering how music so mean (see: chain) can come from the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

VOLUNTEER CONTRIBUTION: Stephanie Muise (“smuise”)

OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 1

I arrived in St. John’s on Thursday afternoon with a few hours to spare before the first events for Out of Earshot. It wasn’t supposed to rain, but it started to drizzle as I made my way to Eastern Edge Gallery for the artist dinner and first show of the festival.

I met so many kind and wonderful organizers, performers, artists, and friends of friends as I ate my (delicious) tofu burger. It was quickly obvious that the organizers of Out of Earshot were attentive to creating a supportive, comfortable, inclusive, and safe environment.

Nicole, from Hard Ticket, was hosting the first event. With Amery Sandford’s (BBQT/Baby Bunny) installation behind her, she took the stage to acknowledge the land, review the code of conduct, thank everyone involved, and introduce the first act of the first show – Hopscotch.

Hopscotch (NL) is a trumpet, bass, and drum trio that captured my attention because of the way they play with volume and space. Many of their songs started quiet with a lot of empty space, and as the song progressed they filled that space through dynamics and added percussion pieces. It was dramatic in a way that inspired me.

Claire Whitehead (TO) followed Hopscotch and gave another dramatic performance. Half of her set was her solo project, called Claire de la Loopa, where she used her loop pedal to build up her songs using violin and guitar. I felt lucky, in a way, to be there and bear witness to the way she creates music.

Closing the Eastern Edge show was Baby Bunny (NL), also known as BBQT (QC), but with members Sarah and Noah. Although it was so sweet seeing Amery bounce around with her art installation behind her while wearing the custom guitar strap she made for herself, my favourite part of any Baby Bunny/BBQT set is the way Allison sings along while playing drums.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

Following Eastern Edge, I walked up to Water St. to get to The Ship for the late show with Lo Siento (NL), Property (NL), Rabies (NS), and Laps (QC).

Lo Siento started as soon as I had arrived. Pepa Chan, a musician and artist, was playing between two of her installations of soft plushy toys strung up to the ceiling from the floor. My favourite part of this set was when everyone shouted “no! no! no! no!” along with Pepa during No Tengo Remedio.

Following Lo Siento was another local band, Property. It was during this set, specifically during a song about St. John’s, that I recognized how supportive St. John’s is of their local music scene. They showed up, wearing Property shirts, and stood as close to the stage as possible to sing along with Sarah Harris.

Rabies, from Halifax, played next. I was able to interview Rachel (guitar/vocals) prior to the festival and in this interview she explores the feelings she had before she started playing music. She wrote, “it’s so easy to feel embarrassed”, yet at this show she took the center of the stage and played with confidence that assured us she belonged there.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

The first day of Out of Earshot came to a close with Laps (QC). Although, quite honestly, I couldn’t make it to the end of the night because I was coming down with a flu, I was able to see Laps earlier this week in Halifax. Stephanie Muise (“smuise”), who was at their show at The Ship said, “their sharp tone and chaotic riffs reminded me of North of America; they proved that math rock is very much alive and well“.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A. Basset

ALBUM REVIEW: “BE THE COWBOY” BY MITSKI

Two years ago, I was obsessively listening to Puberty 2 on my record player, on my phone, in the car, as I ran, by myself, or in company. I was swirling in the fuzzy, emotional depths that Mitski created and had encapsulated me during a shifting time in my life.

On August 17th, she released her fifth album, Be the Cowboy, on the label Dead Oceans. Be The Cowboy is an incredibly diverse, ambitious album that goes beyond an introspective account of personal experience and offers a world of performance and glam, a world created as a piece of art in itself.

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We are welcomed on the opening track, ‘Geyser’, by an organ and Mitski’s crescendoing voice singing my favorite lyrics of the entire album, “You’re my number one / You’re the one I want /  I turned down every hand that has beckoned me to come”. The burst into an orchestral sequence confirms Mitski is still tapping the audience’s emotions in her latest endeavor, but with each song we’re transported to a carefully crafted narrative.

It’s the dance beats of ‘Why Didn’t You Stop Me’, the country-esque vocals of ‘Lonesome Love’, the disco vibe of ‘Nobody’, and the pop synth melody of ‘Me and My Husband’ that proves Mitski is a dynamic, diverse songwriter. She’s a skilled composer with the ability to string these different genres into an incredibly tender, cohesive album. An album I’ll be spinning in my room, at a party, or on the go continuing to discover the moments of tension and allure. An album that only Mitski herself could create.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Alycia Socia

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #6 – SOF FROM DOXX

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 final interview in this series, I spoke with Sof (she/her) who does vocals for the hardcore band DOXX. She’s a student, bartender, and musician born in Irkutsk, Russia and based out of Ottawa, ON.

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Photo by Aidan Thatcher

How long has DOXX been making music music and how did everyone meet each other?

DOXX has been making music for about 2.5 years now. I met Britt (guitar) early 2014 when she was a TA in one of my first year gender studies classes at the University of Ottawa and we would see each other at shows in Ottawa here and there. Kieran (drums) and Britt are partners and they formed what was supposed to be a one-off show hardcore band with Jeff (bass) for a show Jeff was booking in I believe March 2016. Originally Britt was gonna be doing guitar and vocals but then it was like, no, this music is too fast to do both – who should we ask to front this band? Britt reached out to me because i would go off in the front row of the audience at every show but had never been in a band. We didn’t know each other super well at that point but I’m so glad they did because now Britt is my #1 ride or die. And I guess it was just too fun to let it go after one show. The rest of my bandmates are pretty much born and raised in Ottawa and so have known each other for much longer than they’ve known me. But we’re tight. I’m the baby of the band.

Were the issues that you sing about (capitalism, white supremacy, heteronormativity, etc.) what inspired the formation of this band?

I would say a heavy love of hardcore punk is what inspired the formation of DOXX, but these issues you mention are important to me/us generally, so naturally that’s what I end up writing lyrics about. I think it’s sick both if someone starts into doxx because they like our sound and then later get something from the lyrics, or vice versa if they’re really into our “”message”” initially and maybe later get more into hardcore and punk because it’s like, oh i actually really like this style of music and it’s not just all angry violent men yelling about “brotherhood” – maybe this music can be for me? The conversation about representation and politicization is interesting and definitely complicated. I put “”message”” in those quotes above because I don’t really think there’s one distinct message I’m aiming to convey with my lyrics…much like, you know, humans in general, there’s a lot going on in my brain and heart…some of it is contradictory, some of it is political, some of it is about my relationships, some of it is sarcastic, some of it is real serious and affecting, but for sure it is still very personal. Sometimes I feel my lyrics are over-analyzed, almost scrutinized, because of how my identity is perceived. It has made me more hesitant to define myself or our music in explicit ways. We’ve been criticized in the past for not being “queer enough” to call ourselves queer punk(s)…I don’t really know what to say to that. Ask my girlfriend. Actually, don’t. I don’t owe nobody shit, leave us alone (lol). Ultimately, I have some shit to say but also ya girl just loves a breakdown, you know? A decent amount of my favourite punk and hardcore bands maybe weren’t intended to resonate with me and my particular experience of life as a young woman…but somehow they do…but maybe if I went to see one of those bands live I wouldn’t feel totally welcome in the space. Like I said, it’s complicated. I guess the best thing about being in doxx is that i’m able to just say fuck it and take that space for myself and others like me, and I think that was definitely at the heart of the formation of the band.

Do you feel like there is a shift in which bands/individuals are given space in the Ottawa music community?

Yes absolutely! I like to think of this kind of growth as a tension between “being given” space and “taking” space – a mix of personal agency and community support that facilitates the status quo being challenged and shifted. There are many older and more established community members in Ottawa (even some cis white men, lol) who are unfailingly encouraging and helpful and recognize that making active efforts for the inclusion of marginalized folks not only makes our community more vibrant and fun but is just like…the right thing to do. For example, my bandmates, who reached out to me to front DOXX even though I had never been in a band before. There are also hella young/queer/trans/POC folks pushing more established community members to complicate how they understand the world and the scene. Both groups are valuable and sick as fuck and strengthen community. At the same time, there will always be those shitheads who are more about their own egos than community building and helping others learn – that’s fine. It’s obvious to me that that kind of attitude comes from a place of bitterness and insecurity and they will eventually become irrelevant and for damn sure aren’t having as much fun as we are.

Empowering femme and non-binary people to participate and take up space in their respective music communities is really important to not your boys club and so I was thrilled to read in an interview that you put out a zine with Britt for femme and queer youth on how to start a band. What would you say was the most important (or the overarching) message you were trying to communicate?

Most important message: starting a band is probably easier than you think! Just do it! If you have questions about resources reach out to us!

Are there any femme and queer folx in your community making music that you would like to give a shout out to?

Yessssss:

TORPOR

TIGHTLIP

SAILOR JUPITER

Sailor jupiter sadly doesn’t exist anymore but are probably my favourite Ottawa band ever.

OMERTA

BONNIE DOON

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #5 – MEG HARNUM

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 fifth installment in this interview series, I spoke with Meg Harnum (she/her), a musician/artist from St. John’s, NL. Meg has been playing drums in bands for over ten years (The Mudflowers, Punch Table, Hard Ticket, Thelma and Louise to name a few) and has been a drum instructor and band coach at Girls Rock NL for the past three years. In July, Meg was invited to Ojai, California where she was a drum instructor and band coach at Girls Rock Santa Barbara. Meg along with her partner and her two cats, Nanny and Poppy, will be temporarily relocating to Montreal for school at the end of August.

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Photo by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Hard Ticket recently put out Same Pal – an EP about friends with shared lived experiences that can relate and offer support during personal hardship and struggle. As it’s an album about friendship, I first want to ask you about when you met Nicole and Mopey, and how the members of Hard Ticket offer each other the kind of support and friendship that this album is about.

I don’t remember exactly when or where I met Nicole and Mopey; St. John’s is a very small city and often living here you know of people long before you really ~know~ them but I am so eternally grateful that I did (meet them). Hard Ticket is like a family, we all offer each other a ton of support and love one another unconditionally and without judgement.

The year or so leading up to the time that Hard Ticket was formed, I was in a bit of a musical slump, full of self-doubt and unsure of my place in the music community. Then along came my Tickies, so upbeat, so posi, so full of love and light and encouragement and it made me feel so much better about everything. It lifted my spirits in a way that only they could.

In April, you put out a two-song EP under your solo project scrambled meggz. One of these songs, 2 little lazy eyes, is a song about friendship with Pepa Chan (of Lo Siento and Ribbon Tied). You sing about how she inspires you – I’m wondering if you can share a little bit more about this and more broadly how other women/non-binary people in the St. John’s music community inspire, support, and empower you.

Pepa Chan is one of my favorite people on earth. She is so unbelievably kind and talented. And strange. A true freak. In the best possible way. She is bursting with creativity. Everything she does is just so distinctly ~Pepa~. She is strong and resilient and a wonderful friend. I love Pepa.

St. John’s is full of amazing women & non binary folx doing incredible things, making beautiful music/art and just, like, making shit happen. All of the board members at Girls Rock NL, SWIM, The Out of Earshot committee. I feel inspired all the time by the initiative taken by all of these rad folx to create such an inclusive community for us all to exist in. I am so thankful to be given so many opportunities to play, teach and contribute. Everyone is so supportive of everyone else’s endeavors, it is a beautiful thing.

During your time working for Girls Rock Santa Barbara and Girls Rock NL, did you experience and build similarly supportive friendships, and furthermore, did you witness these friendships being built among the girls attending the camp?

Holy heck, yes, absolutely. Teaching and band coaching at Girls Rock NL/Santa Barbara has been, at the risk of sounding totally cliche, life changing. It really has. The level of support and understanding  that each and every person I have worked with at camp provides is unbelievable, to the campers and to each other. Watching the kids at camp get to know each other and encourage each other is so absolutely heartwarming and inspiring.

On a final note, I was wondering if you would be comfortable sharing what friendships with womxn and people with other marginalized gender identities means to you.

I have been so lucky in my life to always find myself surrounded by the most bad-ass, powerful, talented women/non-binary friends and I think there is something very special about that. The constant encouragement and love from my bandmates and friends and girls rock family has made me a much stronger and more confident person. I am truly very blessed.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset

ALBUM REVIEW: “THE BLUEST STAR” BY FREE CAKE FOR EVERY CREATURE

On August 3rd, free cake for every creature (PA) put out a new full length soft-pop album called the bluest star. What started as a solo project for song-writer Katie Bennett, free cake has expanded to include long-term band members, Francis Lyons and Heeyoon Won, as well as a rotating cast of musicians and friends.

the bluest star was recorded over the latter half of 2017 in the apartment that Katie and Francis share; maintaining free cakes’s lo-fi bedroom-pop roots while also showing growth through collaboration and experimentation.

Composed with a heart wide-open, each song offers insight into Katie’s lived experiences and her feelings about them. She whispers about the simple and mundane, “eating clementines on the subway / put the peels on my blue jeans” (be home soon) and shares her existential musings, “walked for hours aimlessly / washed in the nothing, happily / the world went on without me / and I let it, happily” (sunday afternoon).

Every track has something special to offer: the drum machine in shake it out, the pedal steel guitar that keeps coming back, the whisper of Katie’s voice in goodbye, unsilentlylisten closely to the bluest star; you won’t want to miss anything.

Favourite track: sideline skyline

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Photo by Francis Lyons

STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset