OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 3

Outside of attending Skintone’s talk “From the Black Atlantic to the Milky Way: An exploration of Afro-Futurism” at Eastern Edge, I spent most of Out of Earshot day three catching up with friends whose goodbyes I was already grieving.

Muffin, an RPM challenge band, opened up the late, and final, Out of Earshot show. Being their first live performance, vocalist Rebecca eased into their very tender stage presence as their set progressed. Joined with Liam, Jacob, Sarah, Derek, and Nicole, they sweetly sang about having each others backs and being good people.

muffin

Photo by Krystal Morgan

This set was followed by Isolation Kills who were also playing their first show. Formed by Nicole, Pepa, and Kieren, these pals [and neighbours] came together to create hardcore music for connection and healing. During this set, I reminisced about the final Out of Earshot show last year when Hard Ticket played their last show. There were many parallels of the feelings behind these sets – a group of pals being supported and celebrated by a room of all their pals.

isolation kills

Photo by Krystal Morgan

Prime Junk took the stage next wearing a western button up shirt, bolo tie, and corduroy jacket – an aesthetic that I am always charmed by. They were joined with Out of Earshot organizers Sarah Harris and Jess Barry, and revealed throughout their set that their band had recently dissolved. They played with great vulnerability and generously shared the ways they were reclaiming something deeply painful through playing these songs live one last time. This set was an act of resilience and catharsis – while they are firm it was the last of Prime Junk [even saying “rest in peace” as they left the stage], there seems to be hope that they will keep making music after their [inspiring] weekend at Out of Earshot.

The show, and the festival, came to a close with Century Egg from Halifax. The sincerity of their music is one you can really lean into – everyone in the audience was swaying, bouncing, smiling, having fun with each other. Asked for an encore, they came up to play one last song: Since I Caught You. As the song was coming to a close, Shane sweetly sang directly to her husband, Robert (guitar), “And I don’t know what else to do / since I caught you“.

With a final show that inspired and conveyed so much love, connection, and friendship, the second iteration of Out of Earshot comes to a close.

Until next year, xoxo.

OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 2

I arrived at Eastern Edge to moderate a panel on DIY organizing within arts and music communities that I was invited to by Out of Earshot. While, through not your boys club, I have experience organizing without funding and with little help from other people, I am definitely not an expert – in fact, I think I am often doing it wrong. This was a learning opportunity for me as much as for the room of people in attendance.

Panelists Nick Dourado, Natasha Blackwood, Jenesta Power, Shauna Gilpin, and Nadia Duman, challenged the reality of “doing-it-yourself” and ways in which this work isn’t effective, efficient, or sustainable if we are working in silos. They spoke to the power in collaboration, community outreach, and building relationships. Here was where, after some brainstorming, we landed on “doing-it-ourselves” or “DIO” coined by Nick.

The conversation we had, one that seemed to resonate and energize many folks, wasn’t recorded. It will only exist as an oral narrative for those who witnessed it to share. I guess then, it is our responsibility, as holders of this knowledge, to keep having these conversations about what it looks like to organize within [but also against] mainstream arts and music industry.

Leaving the space, I received some critical feedback on my moderation from Nick, “You fucked up! You didn’t ask everyone’s astrological sign!”.

Kira Sheppard opened the early evening show with a performance that placed me in my own dreamscape world. Between her harp, the string lights at her feet, the reverb on her vocals, the bubbles blown by Pepa, I was floating on my own little cloud.

Our collective dreamscape was shattered by the dystopian future curated by Skin Tone [James Goddard]. With visuals, narration, experimental noise, free jazz saxophone, and tap shoes that stormed through the room, we were captivated. Consumed.

Juice Girls opened their set with Ghoul Gal, a song that could have came from outer-space, to ease us back into our dreamscape. In moments of awareness, I would realize the ways they were enchanting the audience – pulling us in like the moon pulls the tides.

juice girls

Photo by Krystal Morgan

While we moved to The Ship, the world that this thoughtfully curated show created was only briefly disrupted.

Francis [synth/percussion] and Nadia [vocals/guitar/bass] of CUERPOS took the stage. In the ways that each song builds with rhythm, volume, and intensity, so does their set. They have a really great intuition that allows them to communicate to each other, and to the audience, non-verbally. Assessing needs, engaging, and then elevating. For me, the techno beat and bass line during sugar free was the summit of their set.

cuerpos

Photo by Krystal Morgan

I experienced Dregqueen, an electronic project, from an open window next to the stage. While the air and light rain kept me cool, the humid draft coming from all the bodies moving inside the bar kept me warm. The view and personal space that I was afforded by choosing the window allowed me to really connect with and be enthralled by the ways Lees performs and interacts with the audience through their body and movement.

Like the night before, I finished my cigarette as they finished their set and headed home.


Contribution by Nik A Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: FIRST WAVE LINEUP ANNOUNCEMENT

Out of Earshot have announced the first wave of artists, musicians, and writers that will be at their second festival this August (22nd-24th) – including not your boys club!

In this beautiful partnership, we aim to facilitate platforms for under-represented emerging musicians, artists, and writers in spaces that are safe, supportive, and affirming.

Jess Barry, a member of Out of Earshot’s Board of Directors, says:

“Out of Earshot is truly a community-driven celebration of music and art. We are constantly learning and are greatly inspired by the thought and care we see demonstrated by other independent festivals in their programming, their support for emerging artists, and their commitment to diversity and to experimentation. Out of Earshot is a change to make lasting friendships, to experience new perspectives, and to come together to celebrate the waysys in which we express ourselves and support each other.”

Similar to last year, not your boys club will be sharing pre-festival coverage highlighting and centering some of the femme, trans, and gender non-conforming folks that are organizing and performing at the festival.

During the festival, nybc will be present and provide media coverage for headlining touring musicians Prime Junk (MTL), Century Egg (HFX), Juice Girls (HFX), Pure Pressure (TO), Hélène Barbier (MTL), and Dregqueen (MTL), local musicians Worst Lay, Gossamer, Kira Sheppard, Weary, Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies, Greta Warner, writers Violet Drake and Carmella Gray Cosgrove, and artists The Rock Vandal and Isha Watson [+ more !!].

Tickets are available online or at Toslow (183A Duckworth Street, St. John’s, NFLD).

OoE 2019 Poster


Contribution by Nik A Basset

INTERVIEW: MEAT SUBSTITUTE

Charm, your name is Meat Substitute (HFX). The group of high school musicians (Gertie Matheson, bass and vocals; Edie Ford, drums; Murray Smith, guitar) came together on a whim and deliver on every desired indie punk front. Energetic, quirky and powerful, you can see them this Friday, May 17 at Radstorm for an all-youth line-up — and it is highly recommended that you do so. Here, Gertie Matheson answers a few burning questions about that Meat Substitute life. 

meet substitute

Q: How long have you been playing together? Can you tell me a brief band history? 

A: We’ve been playing together together since November of 2018. It all started when I blurted out one day in art class, “I want to start a band.“ Edie said she played drums and we just kind of went from there. The original idea was an all female group, so we put an instagram post out there asking if there were any queer ladies who wanted to play guitar in this band, and Murray (who is neither of those things) ended up responding. It was probably one of the greatest feelings when we met up for the first time and just immediately clicked. 

Q: What inspires your songwriting?

A: Writing songs is definitely the hardest part of having a band. We argue a lot while writing songs, and we still haven’t come up with a great system. The best way I’ve found is to just go with the flow and not come in with a set idea. One of my favourite songs we wrote was “chicken fried rice.” We wrote that in two days just because Edie was craving chicken fried rice.

Q: Do you have any advice for people wanting to start a band that you wish you had been told when you started? 

A: Do it! Playing music and the community that comes with that is so magical! We’re a bunch of socially anxious teens who didn’t know each other very well in the beginning. But the bond that you develop is so special, and when you’re preforming in a group you feel unstoppable.

Q: Are you planning any upcoming recordings/other shows? 

A: We are planning planning to record our music very soon after the exam season is over. We have two shows coming up, one May 17th at Radstorm for a high school band night, and we’re playing at Lost & Found on June 29th. 

Q: What’s your dream show? Who would you play with and where? What would your dream backstage snacks be at this fantasy show? 

A: I think we already play our dream shows. We love to play at the Citadel High School’s coffee houses, with the other high school bands. And if there was free Timbits involved that would be a bonus.


Contribution by: Stephanie Johns (she/her). Stephanie plays guitar in Not You and bass in Moon and has been writing about music for 20 years. She made two cute people that she spends a lot of time with these days.

FLOURISH FEST: DAY 3 PT 2 – FIZZY DRINKS, RIOT GRRRLS, AND FEELINGS

[cw: mention of gendered/sexual violence]

The CSAC is buzzing as Saturday night unfolds at FLOURISH Fest. Alongside local beer and cider options, the bar is serving two flavours of custom-made Flourish kombucha: orange dream, and lavender cardamom. The fizzy, floral drink is a refreshing surprise, and I’m thankful for the small hit of caffeine as I gear up for the fullest night of Flourish.

Opening Saturday night at Flourish is Fredericton trio Terre Wa. A recently formed electronic improv collaboration between Indigo Poirier, Erin Goodine, and Emily Kennedy, Terre Wa’s sound ranges between video game soundtrack, contemporary classical minimalism, and atmospheric beats. High-reverb cello sweeps and riffs played by Emily are live-looped with Erin and Indigo’s rich synth percussion and bass beats. Swelling in complexity, receding into airy softness, then morphing echoes of previous themes into new rhythms, Terre Wa’s performance feels like listening to what dream logic might sound like–rich, enigmatic, and sometimes danceable.

terre wa flourish

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

Emily Kennedy remains on-stage for the next act, her and violist Mark Kleyn’s classical/songwriting project Pallmer. Both musicians’ classical backgrounds are audible in the lush tones and harmonies of their compositions and playing technique, as is their clear passion for the music. Most of Pallmer’s songs begin softly, recording via pedals the loops that act as a foundation for layers of lush strings and Emily’s soft-spoken vocals–during one song, both members of Pallmer team up to record a complex rhythm of percussive taps and pizzicato notes on Emily’s cello, before both return to voice and viola, respectively. The songs themselves are wistful and poetic, exploring themes of memory and longing with a gentle curiosity.

Partway through the set, Emily asks for the stage sound to come down, overall, laughing that her cello is reverberating uncontrollably. It’s a reminder of how sensitive and responsive string instruments can be: every time I hold my own cello, I can feel it vibrating sympathetically to ambient noise, like traffic sounds outside my apartment, let alone an auditorium of amped sound.

pallmer flourish

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

Next, Flourish founder Jane Blanchard takes the stage, accompanied only by her own Fender guitar, and co-founder Stefan Westner on drums. Jane’s set begins slowly, stripped down to feature her soft, unpretentious voice over finger-picked guitar and cymbal sweeps, before building intensity through the instrumentals. There is an honesty in Jane’s songwriting that suits her voice, and a definite rock edge that emerges as each song peaks emotionally. Instrumentally, the songs are rhythmically varied with definite blues and rock influences–which is to say, demanding and impeccably executed timing.

jane blanchard flourish.jpg EDIT

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

Before finishing her set, Jane apologizes in advance before promoting various other Flourish events and thanking this event’s crew, merch designers, and other performers. The depth of Jane’s performance, along with this closing gesture, shows her dedication and skill as a musician and storyteller. This is a songwriter fully invested in her craft, and also in the community she is building.

Quebec City-based l i l a follows Jane’s set, redecorating the stage with purple twinkle lights and silvery fabric–small changes that quickly transform the room into a dark, sparkly dreamscape. In their interview with nybc, posted just days ago, l i l a frontperson Marianne framed their music as an act of self-care, and care generally–an intimate practice with others. Even in the large space of the auditorium, l i l a’s sound feels tender and close, combining Marianne’s floaty, high vocals with airy synths, bowed guitar, and an understated rhythm section that pulses like a heartbeat.

Between songs, the singer performs poems that bridge between each song’s dreamy, introspective feel. Many of the songs about betrayal and heartbreak are written in second person, calling in the audience, drawing us into complicity and closeness. l i l a’s gentle intensity is the kind of night music that, at the end of the most draining days, reminds you to breathe, and fills you with stars.

l i l a flourish

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

“I want to start by saying how much i love this fucking festival,” begins Anna Horvath of Merival, while tuning her guitar. “Sorry about all the cursing. I’m going to play some really tender songs to match it up.”

Tender is the perfect word for Merival’s lyrical, solo folk set. Over fingerpicked guitar, Horvath’s songwriting showcases her astonishing vocal range, which maintains its reach in louder notes as well as in the softest, whispery tones. Between songs, Horvath is bashfully earnest, and jokes about the vulnerability she feels performing songs that are so personal and difficult to expose. In some of her songs, I’m reminded for the second time today of Joni Mitchell–this time, by Merival’s whispery intensity and fiercely confessional lyrics. Her music is deceptively simple and honest to a fault, with newer songs veering into jazz-like riffs that further set off Horvath’s stunning command of her high range. Merival makes a gorgeous end to an evening of magical songwriting.

merival

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

It has finally stopped raining by the time I make my way across town to the Capital Complex for the next wave of Saturday night performances. Shifting moods from the dreamy, introspective emotions of the CSAC show, I arrive to the sounds of joyous screaming emanating from the Capital’s main bar.

Moncton-based Klackers is 5-piece band with bouncy, unapologetically feminine punk sound. The millennial lovechild of 90s riot grrrl excellence, Klackers’ overall vibe dares you to dance. Lead singer Shannon’s bold, high voice gets loud, cute, rapsy and defiant all at once, and the whole band is visibly having so much fun together it is difficult not to join them. The house is packed and dancing at full energy through the entire set, which includes covers of The Adicts and Bratmobile.

KLACKERS.jpg

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

As I run upstairs to Wilser’s room to catch the next band, I happen on a pop-up improv performance by local Hot Garbage Players on the Wilser’s room patio. While I pass through too quickly to catch more than a few out-of-context snippets from a scene, the small crowd gathered around the players is laughing constantly.

Inside Wilser’s, two specialty drinks by local craft breweries are on tap: a hibiscus witbier by Greystone, and a mango-infused Cider by Red Rover. Described in the Flourish program notes as “power-pop doo wop,” BBQT is a pop-punk party raging loud and bright. Their performance features songs “about partying with all our friends in Fredericton, NB,” announces one member of the band (the crowd is so thick I can’t see which one!). “That one was for Iris the dog, who apparently is a huge fan of our band.”

Back downstairs after BBQT’s show, I arrive in time to watch Lemongrab tune up. Named for the infamous Adventure Time character, Lemongrab is a five-person punk outfit impossible to not dance to. Vocalist Gaëlle Cordeau belts hard melodies, veers into spoken word, and wails demonically in the same impressive breath. Even aesthetically, the band’s range includes diy art punk (Cordeau) to 70s vintage mom chic (guitarist and backing vocalist Leonie Dishaw)–the effect of their high-energy, artsy punk is undeniable. Wrapped up in the joyful noise, I meet a friend I haven’t seen for some time in the crowd, and we join what feels like the whole bar dancing.

LEMONGRAB

Photo by Caitlin Dutt

[cw] Unfortunately, the spell breaks when I have to forcibly remove a middle-aged white man’s hand from my friend’s back. While trying to make his way around us in the packed bar, the man laid his hand on my friend’s back from behind, and left it there long enough that he walked all the way around us and had time to pause before I yanked his hand off them. Instead of apologizing, he looked appalled, and told me off, as though I were the rude one. Before getting too much farther in the crowd, he leans back to hand my friend his empty beer glass, motioning for them to put it on the nearby bar for him. I see him laying hands on other femme-presenting people in the audience as he moves away from us; some push him away, but he keeps on groping until he hugs a woman who seems to know him. They leave together, though not before making out mid-crowd and taking up the space of six or more people while doing so. It feels extra insulting that this happens while a feminist punk band performs.

I thought about leaving this out of my account of Saturday night’s Flourish happenings. I still wonder if it’s worth disrupting what I intend to be a positive account of a small, independent art festival to address what happens to femme-presenting people in crowds. But the point is that those of us who face this kind of violence do not get to attend these spaces without thinking about that danger, even if we escape it actually happening, no matter how safe the festival or venue. Part of me wants this man to recognize himself in this. I want this man, and every cis-man, to think about the way they take up space in public, about the way they feel entitled to the bodies of anyone they perceive as other. It doesn’t matter if this man groped my friend sexually, or just because they were a convenient body to balance against; he still felt like their body was there for him to act upon.

A little shaken, but mostly exhausted by another such incident, my friend and I decide to leave and walk each other home. We tell each other stories about other nights ruined by similar, or worse incidents. We talk about the bands we’ve seen, and gush about our favourites. By the time we part ways, we are recommending new music to one another, and reminding each other to text when we get home. [/]


Contribution by Rebecca Salazar (she/her)

Rebecca Salazar is the author of the knife you need to justify the wound (Rahila’s Ghost) and Guzzle (Anstruther Press). Recent publications include poetry and non-fiction in Briarpatch, Minola Review, and The Puritan. Rebecca is currently a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead and Plenitude magazines, and a PhD candidate at UNB.

FLOURISH FEST: DAY 3 PT 1 – AVOCADOS, MERMAIDS, AND HARDWOOD SOUNDPADS

When I wake Saturday morning, the power has gone out. Outside, Fredericton is blustery and grim, threatening rain, and smoke hangs over the neighbourhood of the Charlotte Street Arts Center from a nearby construction fire; as I turn onto Charlotte street, firefighters are still extinguishing the gutted, half-finished apartment building.

Thankfully, the CSAC has power, and is warm, dry, and well-lit. I make my way to Connexion Artist-Run Center’s office and gallery, where Indigo Poirier of Wangled Teb is setting up a workshop on Ableton Live. Suspended in the middle of the room is an exhibit of miniature-scale couture creations titled Weight of Power, by local fashion designer Tracy Austin: lush, dark, gowns ornamented with petals, thorns, and branches. Workshop attendees are seated in a row of chairs beneath the exhibit, making it seem like they are haunted by a brace of regal fairies floating in midair.

With their computer screen projected on the wall, Indigo begins demonstrating various Ableton functions and plugins that they use while performing. While most of the technical details go over my head, it is fascinating getting to watch Indigo reveal the workings of several of their Wangled Teb sets, including one or two pieces I have previously seen in performance. Most of the workshop participants are other Flourish performers, including the duo behind VERSA Visuals, and folk singer Kylie Fox. The workshop feels collaborative and open, and Indigo takes various questions and suggestions from the attendees, showing them how to create particular effects they request, demonstrating how to map tracks and effects onto electronic consoles, and explaining how to free up processing speed for more complicated pieces.

For the second half of the workshop, Indigo invites the participants to bring out their own computers and instruments to experiment with Ableton. Though part of me wants to stay and listen, when the group breaks for coffee, I thank Indigo, and make my way downtown.

It is stormy and raining by the time I reach Bellwether, a local vintage and art consignment shop. Inside,  Erin Muir and Corey Bonnevie of Wrote have begun playing. Muir’s soft soprano voice and muted, finger picked guitar ballads are accompanied by the sound of clothes hangers faintly clicking as people search through racks of clothing from Flourish pop-up Ok My Dear Vintage. Seated on a vintage wood-and-floral-velvet bench, with her boots neatly removed and tucked behind her, Muir sings about watching houseplants wither, and lupin-planting as grief work. Surrounded by local artwork and macrame plant hangers, Wrote’s music feels at home in the small, intimate setting of Bellwether, each song’s soft, organic tones a refuge from the rain.

The next performer is Kylie Fox, arriving from the Ableton workshop. Her set begins with a cover of Joni MItchell’s “Case of you,” executed so tenderly that I am convinced the song was written precisely for her voice. Backed by acoustic guitar, Fox’s voice is bold and ethereal, with an almost operatic vibrato at its peaks and sweet, delicate tones when she sings softly. Her down to earth humour runs through the storytelling between songs, as well as in the songs themselves. Fox’s song “Avocado” is dedicated to a friend who, while pregnant, discovered one week that her baby was the size of an avocado. “People ask if it was planned and you say– bitch –under your breath,” sings Fox, peppering what could easily have been a sentimental topic with enough sarcasm, reality, and empathy to make it unmistakably genuine.

While heading back to the CSAC, I am caught in a sudden downpour, and end up taking shelter from the rain in the newly opened library of NBCCD, Fredericton’s local craft college. This weekend, the library is hosting Flourish’s annual zine and craft fair. Local and visiting artists are set up to sell their wares: comics and postcards by Patrick Allaby and Laura K. Watson, zines by Al Cusack and Olivia Thompson, hand-sewn scrunchies by Sackville-based designer Jeska Grue, issues of Fredericton-based literary Qwerty Magazine, and more.

Even as I am delighted by the art on display, something begins to nag at me: I am the only brown person in the room. I can’t say this is unusual in the Maritimes, and I’m generally desensitized to being the only person of colour around, but for whatever reason, the presence of several white people with waist-length dreads at the zine fair makes me suddenly hyper-aware of the room’s overwhelming whiteness. It’s hardly shocking, but at the same time, it is. Saying anything about this feels like a risk. I could too easily become a villain, the stereotypical angry brown femme meant to be laughed at and dismissed. I know any anger or discomfort I feel is loneliness, the reminder of how isolated I am from communities that understand this feeling, too.

Scanning my festival program, I realize there are only two visible people of colour among the hundred or so performers featured all weekend. One of the two, Wabanaki fashion designer Mariah Sockabasin, is scheduled to showcase some of her designs at the same time as the event I was headed to before being interrupted by the rain–an open jam session for women, trans, two-spirit, and non-binary youth hosted by Girls+ Rock Camp at the CSAC.

Being torn between the two events is a visceral reminder of the way in which QTBIPOC are made to choose between our communities, forced to abandon our ethnic communities to feel included for our genders or sexualities, or forced to closet ourselves in order to belong with our racialized kin. Even on such a small scale–me, alone, with all my privilege to choose between attending one amazing art event or another–it hurts to defer part of your identity.

I arrive rain-soaked and out of breath at the Girls+ Rock Camp session. Members of various bands performing at Flourish, including Motherhood’s Penelope Stevens, songwriter Jane Blanchard, and Indigo Poirier are guiding about a dozen young people as they play on several drum kits, keyboards, synth tables, and guitars scattered around the CSAC auditorium. A constant groove emerges from the various rhythm stations, and a song begins to take shape as I watch. Two young girls wearing pastel hijabs join Indigo at the mic, and sing about everyone becoming mermaids. Other kids around the room chime in gradually, singing and laughing along, swapping instruments and making new friends.

After stopping to warm up with a coffee from Milda’s Pizza and More, I make my way back through the rain to Gallery 78, a historic, turreted house on the South bank of the Wolastoq river. Featuring several exhibits by local artists, today, the gallery’s main room hosts a pop-up installation by classical/songwriting duo Pallmer and Montreal-based electronic artist Charles Harding.

On the floor, Harding has taped off a large square with arrows pointing through it, accompanied by the words “Step Study.” Pallmer cellist Emily Kennedy and violist Mark Kleyn are set up at opposite corners of the square, and play from scored composed by Harding: though the scores contain standard lines of musical notation, between each line, there are sections denoted by colourful, abstract blobs and waves. The performance begins with Pallmer playing an airy, minimalistic duet, but the twist is revealed when Harding walks through the outlined square, and invites the audience to do the same. As soon as anyone walks into the square in the center of the room, Pallmer’s playing becomes a musical interpretation mimicking the person’s steps.

Tiptoeing through the square incurs soft, plucked harmonics. Stomping results in loud, heavy chords. When three women dance into the square together, holding hands and spinning, the music becomes a raucous waltz that follows their every movement. Pallmer’s improvisations echo the speed, weight, and feel of the audience’s interventions as people become bolder and begin to experiment: one man removes his shoes and slides across the floor; a Flourish volunteer gets down on the floor and log-rolls through the square; some people try squeaking their rain-wet shoes against the hardwood to test the effect; and at one point, people try throwing coats and keys into the ring, incurring a variety of sustained harmonics and chords.

Throughout the performance, the art gallery becomes a dance floor and soundpad, where the audience is invited to collaborate in the music, using their bodies as instruments. Step Study is an invitation to play along with the performers, not just in the musical sense, but in the childlike, imaginative realm. As the piece comes to a close, the final audience intervention that modifies the score is when Erin Goodine (of Fredericton band Terre Wa) pulls up a corner of the tape delineating the square soundpad, breaking the barrier between the scored and improvised music for a moment before gently putting it back. After enthusiastic applause, Harding explains that his goal is to make performance interactive. The performances of his piece at Flourish are also data-gathering expeditions, as Harding intends to compose a future piece based on the step and sound patterns recorded during the festival. As everyone leaves Gallery 78, we leave as co-conspirators and collaborators in this future composition.


Contribution by Rebecca Salazar (she/her)

Rebecca Salazar is the author of the knife you need to justify the wound (Rahila’s Ghost) and Guzzle (Anstruther Press). Recent publications include poetry and non-fiction in Briarpatch, Minola Review, and The Puritan. Rebecca is currently a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead and Plenitude magazines, and a PhD candidate at UNB.

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW#5 – FROOTI TOOT-E

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the fifth instalment of this series, I spoke with Rachel / Tomato (she/her), Claire / Banana (she/her), and Lauren / Peach (she/her) from Frooti Toot-E (NB) – a project that started out as just a joke on instagram between these high school pals.

frooti tooti.JPG
Photo by David Cheng

I *loved* the article that The Aquinian recently published that centers all ages programming at FLOURISH and interviews the youth that have been booked to perform or install art at the festival (Flatt, 2019). In this article, you were quoted saying that Frooti Toot-E started as a joke on instagram – could you let me, and the readers, in on this joke and the formation of the band?

Tomato: Well basically Peach and I took the course “Sound and Recording” this year at school. We got to make music using Logic Pro – basically a fancy expensive version of GarageBand. We found it really fun to make funny music and the joke kind of started with “oh my god, imagine if we started a band and it was just weird, funny music! imagine if we PERFORMED!”. We just thought it was funny until one day we said, “wait.. like.. we could easily do that, we just have to make an instagram and soundcloud. It’s grad year – why not!” and the band kind of took off from there.

You were also quoted saying that you had never intended to play a show, but then it “became something real”. How did this happen? Does Fredericton often embrace and centre youth in the music and arts community?

Tomato: No, we honestly never thought it’d be possible to perform live since most of our music is just us singing over a backing track we made ourselves, but our music teacher (shout-out to Mr. Webber!!) really encouraged us and gave us a way for this to happen which was incredible. Performing live has been super fun and I honestly am super grateful to Mr. Webber for helping us start that.

And yeah! I think Fredericton definitely has places where they encourage youth to be creative with music and other forms of art – the Charlotte Street Arts Center has been an awesome place for us personally and i know they do a lot of events to encourage youth to be creative. I think that’s awesome.

What can folks at FLOURISH fest expect from your set at shiftwork on Thursday, April 25th?

Banana: Well.. definitely something they probably haven’t seen before. Our sets are pretty unique but definitely playful and fun – the whole set has sort of a storyline to it which we think is cool. We hope people will like it!

I’ve seen and heard many folks (Jane Blanchard, Motherhood, The Aquinian) refer to Frooti Toot-E as fashion icons. Can you tell me about your aesthetic and why this is a critical part of your performance?

Peach: haha! The day jane said that about us we all freaked out !! Motherhood thinks we’re FASHION ICONS?!?

But yeah, fashion and style is something we really like to incorporate into our performances. Because we are all fruit, we make sure to dress in our fruit colours, so i’m dressed all in pink, Rachel (tomato) in red, and Claire (banana) in yellow.

We just like to have fun with our outfits and be as creative as possible when deciding what to wear to our shows. We’ve worn skirts from value village as shirts and full pastel wigs before – it changes every time!

What are some ways that you feel Frooti Toot-E is paving the way for other youth to take up space in music and arts communities? Do you have any advice for creative youth?

Tomato: I think because we’re so different from i guess “normal” or your typical form of music, it might encourage people and show them that they can make whatever they want. Although not everyone will like it (you can’t please everyone), there’s always going to be people who enjoy it .

This sound cheesy, but as long as you’re creating and having fun, that’s all that matters.

Banana: Yeah I agree. For advice, I’d say just be brave and try your hardest to create for yourself and not to please other people – it’s YOUR art, not theirs. Being creative is fun!

See Frooti Toot-E live on April 25th at FLOURISH Festival!


Contribution by Nikki A Basset