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.

SHOW: SHOULDER SEASON AT RADSTORM

Show review: Shoulder Season at Radstorm
Saturday, March 16 with Yuma County, Lachie MacDonald and Prevailing Winds

It might seem unfair to review a band’s very first show—nerves are more likely to get in the way, levels might need tinkering, songs may change entirely by the next set. If this was any other band, sure, this might be the case, but when the band in question is Shoulder Season, there’s clearly no reason whatsoever to sweat it.

Shoulder Season began in a Dartmouth basement, slowly burning over the past year, working on poppy—darkly poppy—Korg-heavy bops about the shittiness of neoliberalism and capitalism, the oppressive, vague perfectionism of the world of “wellness” and more. For their first time out of the previously mentioned basement they delivered a tight, fun, utterly lovely set.

shoulder season
Shoulder Season – Photo by Matt Reid

Made up of Karen Foster, Mel Sturk (Darts, Yuma County), Kristina Parlee (Smaller Hearts) and Erica Butler, any first show jitters (imperceptible) were shaken off quickly with friendly onstage banter and songs that seem ideal for blowing off steam: crashing endings, strong back and forth vocals, and lots of speed. Parlee and Butler’s driving and vital pace, Foster’s pleasantly unusual synth riffs and Sturk’s solos (featuring masterful feedback manipulation) add up to an exciting new group that, frankly, Halifax is lucky to have considering the way we’ve all been behaving.

The band seems on the same page as each other, and the easiness shows through in the songs. Onstage, they said that they didn’t know what type of music they played, and welcomed any descriptions. I have one: fun. See this band, be charmed and inspired.


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.

PREMIERE: JUICE GIRLS

While working at a juice bar together in Halifax, Kirsten Todd (guitar/vocals) and Michelle Moraitis (lead vocals/harmonica) bonded over their love for shoegaze, the diy-ness of the riot grrrl movement, and their lived experiences of misogyny in their music community. At first, singing out their frustrations while chopping fruit was just their emotional outlet, but this inevitably planted the seed for the all-femme band, Juice Girls.

band photo

Michelle Moraitis, Kirsten Todd, Kelsey Crewson, Lauren Randles, Robin Fraser
Photo by Scott Randles

They rejected gate-keeping in their music community and encouraged each other to learn, create, and take up space. After playing as a two-piece for a while, they later invited femmes, Lauren Randles (keyboard), Kelsey Crewson (bass), and Robin Fraser (drums), who shared their frustrations to nurture and water this baby seedling with them.

Their first full length album, Juice Girls, is a shoe-gazy, slacker-pop, dreamscape. Each song creates a sort of uncertainty with it’s direction through the way they play with tempo, dynamics, space, and emotion. Like the tides, the drum parts pull you in and push you back. This album lulls you – it can pass you by, blurry and unaware. The jangly guitar, harmonica melodies, and delicate vocals offer listeners the opportunity to be introspective, yet it would be a shame to miss what they are saying.

Michelle and Kirsten’s songwriting is poetic and tender while playful and empowering – the imagery they create is both vague and dream-like while vivid and relatable. In ghoul gal, fish eye, and my baby, you’re offered stories about cute, maybe frightening, and potentially heroic creatures. milk me tall and castor soap are love songs for femmes while grapefruit is about disappointing boy-crushes. blueberry, watermelon, and when she comes offer insight into appreciating the duality of things, anxiety, and pivotal spaces that can be both difficult and exciting. They use gentle, affirming, and welcoming language in their songwriting to describe these mundane, idealistic, and even magical themes.

Juice Girls is a product of sweetness, femme resilience, and ripened friendship. While their tenderness is their greatest strength, they aren’t waiting for an invite into spaces dominated by men – they are taking up the space that they need.


Contribution by: Nikki A Basset

ALBUM REVIEW: “BODIESOFWATER” BY RAE SPOON

Rae Spoon, a non-binary musician and writer who centres their own lived experiences within their work, recently released an album called bodiesofwater (09/07) – an electropop-rock album that articulates their intimate relationship with water.

rae spoon portrait

Photo by Dave Todon

This relationship is an exploration of the ways in which they feel connected to, and responsible for, water. The first track, I Held My Breath, gives the album an opening that feels delicate and hopeful while setting a precedent of uncertainty.

One recurring facet of this relationship is the parallels they draw between the way trans bodies and water are treated by our society: commodified and regulated. While It’s Not in My Body negates this harmful commodification and regulation, the pop-hit Do Whatever the Heck You Wantis an anthem to empower trans and non-binary folks to reject the boxes and binaries that others impose on them and to instead do, well, whatever the heck they want.

Rae Spoon’s relationship to water is also one of advocacy and reconciliation. They are calling us in, and calling higher power structures out, to protect and take care of the unceded lands stolen from Indigenous people. It’s Getting Close rejects climate denialism by reflecting on the anxieties we can no longer ignore as we are confronted with the effects of climate change (“It’s getting close and I can feel it / The sky is orange and my throat is burning / Where is the line between saving what we have and our lives“) where the dark and sludgy track, You Don’t Do Anything, sheds their frustration with the current Canadian government and their false promises of reconciliation (“How am I supposed to believe / That you really care when you don’t do anything?“).

They also acknowledge, and are grateful for, the healing potential of water. In Seascape, they explicitly sing “Meet me by the water / When I’m feeling low, that’s where I go / I will try to lift you / So that you can float” which offers insight into their coping, as well as their capacity to offer emotional support when others around them are sinking. In My Town, while less directly speaks to water, contributes to an important conversation of keeping survivors safe in music communities. While many may argue that it is possible to “remove art from the artist”, Spoon thoughtfully negates this in their lyrics, “If you think there’s still a question / Look into the crowd / Which person has lost nothing / And which one is not around?“. Until we stop supporting rapists and abusers in our communities, the survivors of their harm and violence will feel unsafe and isolated. This song resolves by using a drenching wave as a metaphor for a catalyst that results in a community-wide demand for safer spaces.

The album closes with Beach of Bones, a song that pulls this album together by encouraging, and being certain of, a sense of optimism. While the lyric “Put it back together now” speaks directly to the settlers relationship to the land, water, and Indigenous communities, it seems likely that Rae Spoon is also speaking towards the injustices and discrimination towards trans and non-binary people.

Rae Spoon will be playing the new RadStorm space (2177 Gottingen St, Halifax, NS) on October 6th with supporting guests respectfulchild (敬兒) (SK) and local two-piece Holy Crow.


Contribution by: Nikki A Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #3 – RACHEL FROM RABIES/SURVEILLANCE

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 third interview in this series, I spoke with Rachel (she/her) from Rabies (vocals/guitar) and Surveillance (vocals/bass). Originally from rural Ontario, where she grew up on her family’s farm, she is now living in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, NS).

rachel rabies.jpeg

Photo by herself

I’m curious about your initial introduction to playing and writing music. What inspired you to start making music?

Both my dad and brother are talented bluegrass guitar players and many of my family members are musicians or music fans, so music has always been a big part of my life. As a teen, I went to a lot of shows and always wanted to perform and play in a band, but I had no idea how to get started. I played acoustic guitar a little bit (my brother and dad had helped me learn some chords) but I was mostly playing Tegan and Sara covers secretly in my room, and playing in a band seemed impossible. I thought it was an impenetrable world to me and I was too embarrassed to admit that I wanted to participate.

When I got a little older, I continued to go to shows and my desire to play didn’t fade away. I spent a lot of time talking about this with my partner Dave (guitar in Surveillance/drums in Rabies), who had been playing music since we were teenagers. Together we worked through a lot of the complex feelings and emotions we had around playing music and everything that was holding us back from being creative.

He supported me, and helped me push through my fears, and together we started the band Surveillance when I was in my mid twenties. He really wanted me to have a bass because I could play it just one note at a time so he got one for me for about $80 on Kijiji. Dave had a few songs already written that he had imagined playing in a band, so I learned those songs on the bass and we practiced them together in our apartment.

We have a broken “Fender Jam” amp with a really distorted setting and I loved playing my bass through it – the distortion covered up my mistakes, and it just sounded big and bad in a way that I really liked. I’d practice the songs that he’d written, and we’d also have “Free Jams” where we would encourage one another to stop worrying and just play.

Dave and I did work on some songs together in our early days, but I don’t exactly remember how I started writing songs on my own. I was practicing alone pretty often and I would just hear combinations of notes that I liked, and sing over it. Sometimes because singing and playing at the same time was too hard, I’d open GarageBand on my computer and record the bass line, and then sing over the recording. I added different tracks, and would just experiment by making demos. I think the first song I ever wrote for Surveillance on my own was, “Bud” and I remember playing the demo I’d made for Dave when he got home from work. He was just so excited – he has always been my biggest fan. The encouragement really motivated me and eventually I figured out on my own that I love writing songs, but it was really hard not to feel self-conscious. Over time I became used to the idea that I was a songwriter, but I am still working on building my confidence as an artist.

I eventually started playing guitar through the same distorted “Fender Jam” amp, and I picked up my guitar everyday single day for a really long time – practice has always been really important to me. I still don’t have a lot of technical knowledge and I think that is my next step – learning the names of the chords and notes that I’ve been playing for years. Doing it kind of backwards has really worked for me.

So, now that you’ve broken through a world you once felt was impenetrable, what would you say to youth that feel the same way that you did when you were a teen?

I think for anyone who wants to play music – whether they’re young or old – the best thing you can do is just try. Get your hands on some cheap gear and get started. It used to drive me bonkers when people said this to me, because I felt so vulnerable and confused, and starting from scratch is extremely hard. It’s so easy to feel embarrassed. When I found a way to practice that felt okay, and found some like minded people who made me feel empowered, I was able to actually visualise myself playing in a band. If you can’t find those people in real life, look to musicians and bands that you love. Explore the world of musicians and their history – there are a lot of inspirational stories out there.

It’s also really important to find a way to enjoy playing because there is no way around it – you have to practice. So experiment, and find a way that works for you – whether it’s learning covers, trying to play along to songs you love, taking lessons, jamming with friends, writing serious or silly songs, or just slamming on your instrument to make noise – just find something that feels right and keep it up.

And remember that anyone who tells you, or implies to you, that you’re not good enough, they’re wrong!

I read on the tumblr page that Rabies started as solo project, and later developed into a band – can you tell me a little bit about the formation of Rabies?

I can barely remember how Rabies started, even though it was only about three years ago. At the time in my life (my early/mid twenties) I was feeling pretty down. I tend to having really strong feelings about things in general, but I really only like sharing that side of myself with people that I trust. I’ve always been very private. I felt that through music I could express some of those feelings in a theatrical, kind of overblown way.

My songs aren’t typically overtly political, but they are usually written about my general confusion about the world, and informed by my feminist perspective. And you know, over time my feelings have grown and changed so sometimes some of the things I wrote about in the past are not necessarily things I feel now. Some of those feelings I wrote about are still very important to me (For example, the song “Rabid” is about being a settler living on indigenous land), and others were written about certain feelings or circumstances that have since changed (For example, the song “Celtic Frost” was written when I was feeling very insular).

For most of these songs, I just wanted a different feel than we had in Surveillance, and I had written a lot of them – enough to start another project. I knew I wanted the songs to have synth so I asked one of my dearest friends and favourite people, Jeremy Costello (of Aquakultre / Glenn Copeland / Special Costello). We played as a three piece for a while and decided to add bass. We didn’t want to ask just anyone to play bass, we wanted someone who would align with our approach and asked one of our close friends whether he knew anyone that played, or wanted to play bass that could join the fold. He recommended Bria Cherise Miller, who had never played bass before, but through our practice together she has became a close friend, an incredible musician, and a very important person in our lives.

As part of the Halifax music community, do you feel like it’s been an inclusive and supportive experience? Are there ways in which you feel like it could improve or be safer?

I can’t speak for the Halifax music community as a whole. I have witnessed and experienced various levels of inclusion and support, and over time an awareness of inequality and prejudice in the scene has been revealed – but this has certainly not been resolved. The scene continues to be divided, and at times deeply confusing and disheartening.

With that said, I have found, and continue to find many musicians, artists and organizations here who have helped raise myself and others up to feel included and capable (special shout out to members of the band Century Egg for being especially supportive). There is still much work to be done.

I personally believe that the best course of action to build a stronger, safer community is through direct support. Send messages of support to people who you think are doing good work, help new musicians book shows and access gear, break down the “skill” illusion, act as a mentor to people who are learning, encourage people to open their minds to different genres of music and experimentation, talk and learn about the history of imperialism, racism and sexism in music, question the sketchy bands and dudes and people, and try to create show line-ups that are actually good – not just based on who your friends are.

Outside of music, are there any other community involvements you participate in that empowers marginalized or vulnerable people (whether intentional or not)?

Over the years I have worked and volunteered for a number of community driven initiatives and organizations aiming to support marginalized communities, however I feel that the most impactful work that I’ve done has been in my personal education, and in the relationships and friendships I choose to foster and grow.

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.

cutie.jpg

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