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 1

I arrived into St. John’s on the eve of the festival to be with some of the people I have built strong friendships with since the inaugural Out of Earshot festival. From backyard dinner, to soft-serve twist cones, to pre-fest gathering, to a night swim under the stars, I really leaned into laughter, connection, and empathy.

When I woke up, the air felt crisp and cool and the sky promised us rain. I spent the day on a couch with my dear friend and her dog, intermittently sharing thoughts and feelings about community between typing away on our respective laptops.

When it came time to make our way to Eastern Edge Gallery for the artist meal and opening show, rain and fog had moved into the city. The OOE artist meal continues to be a beautiful space where people come together, share a meal, and catch up.

The line-up for the opening Out of Earshot show at Eastern Edge was Greta Warner, Weary, and Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies.

Greta Warner, a young person living in St. John’s, played indie pop for us with only a guitar and loop pedal. Greta’s songs are honest narratives about loss, dating, and her connection to Lindsay Weir from the late 90’s show Freaks and Geeks.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

Weary, a local soft-rock five-piece, followed Greta. Fronted by Kate Lahey, her banter reflects the ways she interacts with her world as simultaneously tender and tough. While being intentional and thanking her band, the sound people, the photographers, showing love and care for her friends, the girls rock alumni in attendance, and her partner, she also introduces her song Grocery Store by saying,

it’s hard to find spaces in St. John’s where you don’t scan the room for someone who makes you feel horrible. mine is the Sobey’s on Merrymeeting Rd.“.

weary

Photo by Krystal Morgan

Increasing in tempo, momentum, and volume, the Eastern Edge show closes with Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies – a playful and enigmatic local pop outfit. Since Ilia’s move to Toronto, her return to St. John’s to play music notoriously brings excitement to any space.

ilia nicoll

Photo by Krystal Morgan

With the rain getting heavier as the night progresses, some of the crowd disperses and some make their way up the alley to The Ship Pub.

The late night loud show starts with a relatively new hardcore / screamo local band, Gossamer, fronted by Rebecca Hammond. Gossamer brings a lot of chaotic energy by playing with auditory and physical space. Rebecca takes to the floor and gives the audience everything that she can.

gossamer

Photo by Krystal Morgan

Walt, the Out of Earshot host of the night, introduces the following local band, Worst Lay. Fronted by Renee Sharpe, she introduces her music as a punk therapy session for herself, her band mates Pepa, Mitch, and Mara, and for everyone in attendance.

The next act, while differing in sound but similar in emotion, Backxwash, delivers a rap set that maintains the anger, but takes it to the next level. Parallel to Kate Lahey’s intro to Grocery Store earlier, Backxwash introduces her song Devil in a Moshpit by sharing that it’s about performing in front of someone that you hate.

Her music and performance is a powerful commentary on her experiences of oppression as a queer and trans black person [so like, you’re walking around harassing people because you’re uncomfortable in your own skin / this shit is ridiculous / i’m laughing at you / i don’t really give a fuck, no sympathy for the cis]. While this is only a glimpse of the dialogue that she has with her audience, this messaging is consistent throughout her music and performance.

Grief, a hardcore band from Halifax, closed out the first night of Out of Earshot. Giving my ears a rest, I listened to them from under an awning outside as I smoked a cigarette with a friend. As my cigarette finished, so did their set, but I’ll have a chance to see them again on Saturday.


Contribution by Nik A. Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: FEATURED ARTIST – NADIA DUMAN

From St. John’s, Newfoundland, CUERPOS [bodies] is a DIY experimental project that combines Reggaeton rhythmics and Shoegaze elements. Formed by pals, Francis Dawson [synth/percussion] and Nadia Duman [guitar/bass], they’ve recently put out their first EP called íntimo [intimate] and will be playing their final show at Out of Earshot on August 23rd with Aquakulture and Dregqueen.

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Photo by Matt Williams

Inspired by and drawn to this project, I reached out to Nadia [she/her] to have a conversation about her musical history, the formation of CUERPOS, and safer spaces for queer women of colour in music communities.

At age 9, Nadia started to teach herself guitar without any formal lessons. As a kid with many interests and passions, her parents weren’t convinced that she would stick with guitar long-term.

“So, i’ve been playing music since i was like really young, but then once i started grade 8, during the freshman week, i saw this band playing. My school was kind of like glee, honestly, it was really weird. Everyone was in a band and there was like two shows every couple months. Junior high and high school was a really musical experience for me. I remember seeing this all-girl group playing during my first week of grade 8. They were playing Zombie by the Cranberries. I was like “What the hell. This is crazy”. I had never seen that, irl, and i was really inspired by them to become better, not only in my bedroom or in music class, but to like play in a band.

In 2014, Nadia moved to St. John’s to go to Memorial University and spent the first few years concentrating on her studies and student experience. In 2016, she was introduced to the St. John’s music community through Band-Off, an event put on by Renee Sharpe.

“That summer, my friend’s boyfriend told me about Renee Sharpe and a party she throws where you go and meet a bunch of random people, throw your name in a hat, and form a band. It was called Band-Off. It hasn’t happened in a few years though. Basically you would go to a space, at that time it was at Eastern Edge, and there would be different stations for guitar, one for bass, and one for drums. You would move through each station and they would give you a flash tutorial on how to play each of the instruments. Then, at the end of the event, they would take a hat and draw different names and you would form a band with who your named was called with. That was the first time that I did something band-y here in St. John’s.”

cuerpos 1

Photo by Adam Hefferman

After Band-Off, Nadia found herself retreating from the music scene again to focus once more on her studies. In 2018, when she graduated from MUN, she committed to getting back into passions, like music, that empowered her.

“Its been a long road. Ive been on and off from the scene, but I’ve always found a lot of help and a lot of welcoming. I was keeping in contact with local musicians here and receiving a lot of help. Like, this is how you should have your pedal board, this is a good pedal to use. It made me really proud and happy to be part of this community.”

Despite having a musical history of punk and hardcore, she was in a place in her life where she was getting fulfillment from the sounds and values of the Reggaeton music that her pal, Francis, was showing her.

“By the time Francis and I were together and were like, “lets sit down and jam and see what’s up”, I was recently back from a trip to Ecuador. I had a great time, I was constantly consuming music, and listening to what they were playing in the clubs. I was in a really comfortable, creative, fluid, space where I was really invited to experiment and see what different sounds I could put out.”

With making music of cultural value at the root of their project, they would draw inspiration from the sounds they grew up listening to. Starting with an idea, or vision, they would collaboratively build songs by making drum parts, then chord progressions on the synth, and then a bass line.

“The tropical sound, the urban sound, are really what makes our band and unites us musically. We wanted our project to celebrate these sounds because there’s a lot of, sort of like, colonial imposition in the mentalities of people in South America where they think their culture is not of value. So, I guess we are saying no to that. We want to celebrate these sounds and make them prominent.”

cuerpos 4

Photo by Adam Hefferman

Early in their process of making music together, they knew it was going to be a project that made them feel great and wanted a name that would reflect the feeling it gave them. They wanted the name to be fluid, filling any space, without limits, and without alienating any kind of person.

“CUERPOS is a perfect name, just a body, any body, it could be whatever. it goes with dancing and stuff like that and at the end of the day, if you’re dancing, it’s just bodies.”

The process of making their EP, íntimo, was very DIY. It was recorded by themselves in Nadia’s living room and produced and mastered by Francis. They released the EP as an RPM challenge and received a lot of positive feedback from their community in St. John’s.

“What I found was that, if you put out something you care about, other people care about it too. I don’t know, maybe that was a dumb statement, but I feel like people can tell when something is close to your heart. Like, we weren’t just making music for whatever reason, it was something personal and intimate.”

Their first show, during Lawyna Vawyna, was just a few days after Francis returned to St. John’s after a long trip in Europe. Since then, they have filled up their summers by saying yes to every show opportunity. As a queer woman of colour, making music rooted in cultural values, in a city that is predominately white, CUERPOS have been filling in gaps of representation and diversity within the St. John’s music community.

“Honestly like, its kind of hard to navigate certain spaces as a person of colour. You are super aware of ways you behave because I feel like, at times, not that i’m a voice of authority, but I’m a person that people come and ask me my opinion, you can fall into tokenism, or feel like you’re tokenized. I haven’t felt that way in this scene and I appreciate that. That was part of what helped me to put out music so comfortably and being able to share a personal piece of me with people. It was a really beautiful experience.”

On August 23rd, you can hear Nadia speak more to DIY organizing within arts and music communities on a panel facilitated by not your boys club and see CUERPOS live that evening at The Ship.

“We try to engage with the audience, not by talking or bantering, but by making them dance, feel the ambient. It’s nice to have that middle ground of environment and vibes from two people who come from two different schools of thought.

Francis grew as a musician in the DJ scene (electronic stuff) and learned the importance of ambience as a performer by creating an ideal environment for people to dance. In our performances he carries this school of thought, as he suggested to build our set as a DJ set. For example, we start slow and end with the faster stuff (bpm wise), we never stop playing during our performances so we transition into songs using beat deconstruction and by sort of coming back to the basic elements of our songs (ie drums and bass). This is similar to what DJ’s do when they transition from song to song during a set.

From my end, being introduced to musical performance through the punk scene (analogue stuff), I learned the importance of ambience in a different way… more like the energy you play with and how that energy can stick to the crowd. This is reflected by my constant dancing and head banging while performing. I do minimal talk and singing, and while I’m trying to not go full screamo on the mic, my singing style for this project is heavily influenced by my punk background but more leaning towards the cumbia/salsa style of singing.

Our Out of Earshot show is going to be our last show and we are definitely going to put lots of emotions in it.”

cuerpos 3

Photo by Matt Williams

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

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.

worst lay

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.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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.

yee grlz

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.

frail hands

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.

doxx

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