SHOW: BLEEP IN THE DARK (11/16)

Take a nice deep breath, hold it close to your heart and let it go, quietly, as if it were a whisper. Gently let your eyelids fall over your eyes and with each deep breath shift your intentions and focus to your ears. Listen hard and inquisitively to your surroundings, these noises are a symphony. Or at least a goofy rag-tag jug band.

Listening is an exercise of patience, of discovery, of curiosity, and sometimes we need a special place to listen where there are few distractions and whole soundscapes, worlds, and journeys to hear.

Danielle Jakubiak, an accredited music therapist with Masters degrees in Music Therapy and Ethnomusicology and one of the four organizers of Bleep in the Dark, understands the importance of creating these special spaces to listen intently. not your boys club sat down with Danielle to talk all things noise, darkness, and the importance of uplifting femme+non-binary noisemakers.

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Danielle Jakubiak
Photo by Alex Pearson

Bleep in the Dark is a live experimental music event experienced in darkness that graces the foggy shore of K’jipuktuk but three times a year. This upcoming event, their final event for the year, will be featuring solely femme and non-binary performers. Danielle highlighted why she thinks this is important through anecdote and ambition.

Danielle was a live sound engineer in Montreal where she often experienced men talking down to her and discrediting her vast knowledge and skills on the basis of her gender – going so far as to blame the mistakes of others on her. In response to this, Danielle wants to create and give space to femme+non-binary people to access, learn, and play with electronics, sound, and noise and take a more comfortable step into performing experimental music of all kinds. Empowering new musicians who experience marginalization is one thing Danielle is always keeping on her mind.

~ A space for anyone to test the water ~

And test the water they do! Bleep in the Dark has provided a platform for many people to not only play their experimental noises for a crowd, but a crowd that they do not even need to look at or be seen by. The darkness creates a shroud that lies gently over and eases the worries of being seen when performing and gives a bolstered sense of importance to the sounds and textures created.

The range of sounds at the upcoming Bleep in the Dark features performances from some new, and some returning, musicians all varying in their scope of experimentation; Layia (Alyson Randles) combines personal field recordings with ambient layers of live vocals and instruments; Possible Williams (Jess Talbot) focuses on ethereal synth loops, sad teenage poetry and ASMR lightness smooshed into sound; Multiples (Anne-Sophie Vallée) constructs lyrical disquieting pop soundscapes through saturated cycles of rhythmic vocals; Amy Brandon who has written award winning contemporary choral, chamber, orchestral and acousmatic works; and finally, Hosta (Kayla Stevens), a noise/drone project that uses electronics and samples from the world around her. While the darkness is intimidating to many – worry not! The darkness will be punctuated by Jess Lewis (visuals) and DJ OS who will be providing tunes to snack, mingle, stretch, and decompress to in between the performances.

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This event is held to raise funds for CKDU 88.1 FM, and is supported by Obsolete Records, Bromoc Printing, and Glitter Bean Cafe. Make sure to support these local businesses that are helping to incubate experimental art in K’jipuktuk.


Contribution by: Kelly

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

FESTIVAL: SAPPYFEST

Before ever visiting the east coast, my partner, who I met in Ontario, repeatedly told me that not only was the east coast the best place in the whole world but Sappyfest was the best weekend of the whole year.

I went to Sappyfest 12, and during my flight home, I felt like I was missing something – why didn’t I feel how my partner told me I would feel? The weekend was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting; I couldn’t keep up with the names and faces I was being introduced to nor were there many moments where I felt at ease.

After graduating from my Master’s program this spring, my partner and I decided that we would spend our summer in Sackville before moving to Halifax mid-August. Although I was apprehensive, it didn’t take much time in Sackville before I felt what they told me I would feel on the east coast. I have seen the landscape, I have gotten to know the faces that I previously (yet briefly) met, and I have been answered when I’ve asked for help or support.

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Sappyfest 13, though still exhausting, was a beautiful and life-giving experience. I felt less like an outsider – or an extension of someone else – and more like a whole person that contributed in some way to the moments that make Sappyfest as special as it truly is.

Before offering a few of my favourite moments – that maybe you bore witness to as well – I want to make a quick note of something about Sappyfest that I think is notable, though shouldn’t necessarily have to be noted.

Sappyfest promotes diversity, marginalized folx, and Canadian artists. The line-up, of all Canadian artists and musicians, was predominately womxn: queer womxn, womxn of colour, indigenous womxn. I applaud Sappyfest for having a lineup that celebrates music from non-men, and especially non-men with intersecting identities, and encourage other festivals to do the same.

Anyway – here are not your boys club top three Sappy 13 moments:

1/ Witch Prophet (TO) is Ayo Leilani, an independent, queer, Ethiopian/Eritrean mother. She played early on Saturday night as people were just starting to make their way back to the tent after an already full day of music and art. Her layered vocals and harmonies over hip-hop and jazz inspired beats captivated the crowd and had everyone in the tent dancing. What had already felt like a powerful performance, brought me to tears before her last song, Love Shock. Ayo told us how she wrote this song for someone she fell in love with too quickly who didn’t reciprocate these feelings until they heard this song. They asked Ayo if she would perform this song, and confessed they would like to be present every time – and they have been – this person is Ayo’s DJ, Sun Sun, who was on stage with her.

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2/ Rotten Column (TO) played late on Saturday night at the (sweltering hot) Legion after Washing Machine (HFX). Penny, who fronts the band (vocals/tin whistle), kindly asked everyone to be pillows for each other once people started to mosh. A friend of mine, who was enjoying the show from the front, was definitely not enjoying the boy that kept bumping into her despite her obvious irritation. Jarrett (bass) not only recognized this discomfort but also stepped in and placed his body between the mosher and person who didn’t want to be moshed against without missing a single note. Taking care of each other and keeping people safe is as punk as it gets.

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3/ On Sunday night, Julie & the Wrong Guys (TO) closed the main stage. I know it was a great set because I remember recognizing how much fun everyone was having, but I had a difficult time being attentive to Julie’s soft vocals and the Wrong Guys heavy rock music. Earlier that day, I promised my partner that I would crowd surf for the first time with them and the anticipation made me too nervous to focus. I had never crowd surfed before for two reasons, 1) I’ve never trusted a crowd to keep me safe, and 2) I’ve never wanted to put someone in a position where they involuntarily have to keep me safe. I still stand by the latter, but I do trust the crowd at Sappyfest.

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Also – many of you said hi to me and expressed you knew who I am and what I do, visited me at the zine fair, and even bought and wore an nybc shirt or pin. Thank you. Your support and encouragement is so meaningful to me.

See you at Sappyfest 14.

 

SHOW: BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE AT CONCERT OF COLORS

The Concert of Colors – now in it’s 26th year – is a festival that happens in Midtown Detroit. It also happens to be FREE. Yep. Totally and completely free. While the Concert of Colors may have some major sponsors (Meijer, Ford, Comerica) they partner with important local, Detroit-based community organizations as well –  like the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, ACCESS, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and more.

The word community was spoken a lot during the Concert of Colors series community-building was apparent in how accessible they made the festival. Since the festival was of no cost to attend, it was made accessible for folks who might otherwise not have been able to enjoy and participate in the festivities. The assistants at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra made the building accessible to the public by providing door-people to open doors and navigate any questions. Even Grandma Techno could be seen scooting around the Concert of Colors festival inside at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra main stage as well as the outdoor Wolverine Stage where many local Detroit acts showcased their talents.

When I heard Buffy Sainte-Marie was going to be at this festival, I could barely believe it. Buffy has been an Indigenous figure in Canadian politics and history since she was in her early twenties in the 1960s. Today, at 77 years old, Buffy Sainte-Marie is still performing regularly and speaking out as an advocate for Indigenous rights, and on the importance of community.

Buffy Sainte-Marie graced the stage with a huge smile, leather jacket embroidered with roses, and an ienergy that instantly filled the room. Buffy has such a range of sounds: did you know she wrote the track “Up Where We Belong“? It was oddly satisfying to hear this all too familiar track with her unique vocals. Her banter between songs included stories about songwriting, performing on Native reserves, racism and sexism, what it was like to be performing as a woman in her early career, among other things, but always on an end note of uplifting empowerment. Buffy performed other significant anthems like her newer track “The War Racket” with a flat-toned range but a heavy punch. The beat from “You Got To Run” had people up and out of their seats dancing in front of the stage.

“Down, in a hole / You feel like two different people in your soul / Feel like a loser, until you see / That as you bend / You learn to be / Your own best friend”

These powerful songs, about standing up for your beliefs and letting yourself be afraid but acting anyway, obviously resonated with the crowd. The age range was significant; from people in their mid-twenties to over 70 – I spoke with a couple of self-declared hippies who seemed to be among the majority. There were even a few children with the noted earphones bobbing with parents along to the beats of Buffy Sainte-Marie and her trembling vocals. As Buffy mentioned during the performance, we are experiencing the same issues from 20, 30, and 50 years ago: racism, violence, war, capitalism, and greed. The blending of Indigenous folklore and sound with a modern day message is not something to be missed.

“Sometime you gotta take a stand / Just because you know you can / Ah you got to run you got to run”

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Photo by Jann MacIsaac

See Buffy Sainte-Marie live…

August 4th @ Kalso Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival, Kalso BC

August 6th @ Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore AB

August 9th @ Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton AB

August 11th @ Stillaguamish Festival of the River, Arlington WA, USA

September 9th @ SKOOKUM Festival, Vancouver BC

October 19th @ One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival, Spokane WA, USA

November 16th @ Koemer Hall, Toronto ON


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Carley Schweitzer

FESTIVAL: OTTAWA EXPLOSION

Last weekend I took the train from Montreal to Ottawa for Ottawa Explosion. For full transparency, my band Blood Beach was playing the Clock Tower parking lot gig Saturday afternoon, but I’ve been meaning to check this festival out for a while. This was my first time in Ottawa, and I’m still trying to process all the warmth I was met with. Here are some personal festival highlights, in some kind of order:

BBQT @ the Clock Tower Parking lot

“This song is about being dumped on Valentine’s day,” lead guitarist Amery Sandford said before playing  OK CUPID from BBQT’s new EP ALL FOR SHOW. When she said that, I felt it, and that’s what BBQT is all about: feeling and sharing. These are more than pop songs, they are vulnerable anthems we can all relate to. The highlight of the show was when they played PEPSI from their first self-titled EP; everyone knew the words, or found it so catchy they pretended to.

Future Girls @ Clock Tower Parking lot

Halifax’s Future Girls started their set with the song Bowing Out from their newest LP Motivation Problems. My favorite lyric of the song “And why does everyone around me always bum me out?” made me feel like Matty Grace has a knack for writing lyrics that come from her heart and can empathize with others’ anxieties. Bassist B even covered their other band, Goldbloom’s song. Future Girls dish out a little bit of everything.

Martha @ Babylon Nightclub

I saw Martha play twice on Saturday; earlier at the Clock Tower Parking lot and later at the Babylon Nightclub. They were electric and energetic both times, playing almost an entirely different setlist for each show. I was eager to hear my favorite track “1967, I miss you, I’m lonely,” which they played at both sets, and each time the crowd sang along to every word. Martha are as sweet as they are political; their lyrics make you feel seen and encouraged.

All ages scene @ The Clock Tower Parking Lot

This is a side note but an important one; Ottawa Explosion put a lot of energy into making the Clock Tower Parking Lot an all ages venue. They even had a daycare downstairs where you could take your little bud for a break or a quick babysit! I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to see kids rocking out with huge protective ear muffs along to Martha. The inclusion at Ottawa Explosion seems effortless.

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Martha at the Babylon Nightclub

STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Stephanie Muise