"Montreal_the next big thing_"
100% Canadian Content >> Music Montreal: the next big thing? Vibrant music scene producing international stars like Arcade Fire BY MJ DESCHAMPS In the music industry’s neverending search for the “next big thing” it’s not always about who you are, but where you come from. In recent history, there has been a focus on various American cities that seem to be hotspots for new and original artists and bands. Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Cleveland have all served temporary stints in the spotlight, with local bands defining the sound of the moment, and gaining international success. In recent years though, the Canadian underground music scene has been noticed, with Montreal and its vibrant musical culture becoming the new centre of hype. Ever since the commercial success of Arcade Fire and its 2003 debut album Funeral, Montreal has become a hotbed of new artists and media attention. According to Dan Seligman, co-founder of Pop Montreal, an annual music, film and arts festival, however, the city’s scene was already simmering, even before Arcade Fire turned up the heat. “It’s hard to say that they are particularly indicative of how the music culture in Montreal is evolving,” Seligman says. “I mean, their success has transcended a particular scene, but the important thing to know is that they’ve stayed on an independent label, and built their own studio in the city, and are still very much connected to Montreal.” Seligman says one of the defining characteristics of the Montreal scene is the fact artists who gain popularity while based out of the city do not often forget their roots. “A lot of the musicians and artists who have gained international success have chosen to stay in Montreal and invest their time and energy into the city, and help provide new opportunities for other musicians who may not have experienced as much success yet,” he says. Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor even established a fair-trade café — part music venue, part bar and part art gallery — Casa Del Popolo in 2000, to help independent Montreal artists. “There’s a good synergy in Montreal, and it provides a supportive place for artists to live, work, and do their own thing,” Seligman says. “It is a good central place because of relatively cheap rent, a lot of venues to play, and the number of students in the city,” he adds. “It’s a fun place to be, and a lot of people move here and help create an interesting mix of different cultures.” The media attention given to >> “There’s a good synergy in Montreal, and it provides a supportive place for artists to live, work and do their own thing.” – Dan Seligman, Pop Montreal music and arts festival Montreal has focused on indierock artists, much like the hype around Seattle in the 90s centred on grunge artists. The sounds coming out of Montreal have been very diverse, however, ranging from more mainstream pop-rock artists such as Tegan and Sara, Sam Roberts and Stars, to electrofunk duo Chromeo, to Kanye West’s newest DJ, A-Track, as well as several artists on the verge of the mainstream, such as Wolf Parade, The Besnard Lakes, and AIDS Wolf. Montreal has even paved the way to commercial success for a few francophone bands. Malajube, which has been touring North America, was shortlisted for the inaugural Polaris Music Prize in 2006. While Montreal has thus far been the only Canadian city to garner media attention inter- nationally, Canadian bands in general have begun to make their mark on the world with the help of this media push. “The east coast music scene has really been thriving in recent years,” says Jeff Keay, head of media relations English communications at the CBC. Keay works with CBC Radio 2 and 3, which focus on providing a platform for Canadian musicians who might not receive regular airtime elsewhere. “Really, it’s all a matter of taste,” Keay says. “There is an enormous range of music from all parts of the country that doesn’t get the platform to reach an audience. So yes, Montreal is the known hotspot right now, but you could also make an argument that places like Halifax and Vancouver are popular scenes, too.” While the hype around Montreal has begun to die down and the search for the next big thing continues, the Montreal scene itself remains the same — focused on music instead of fame. “The media is always looking to exploit things, but people who are supportive and bands who are in it for the right reasons will continue to do what they’re doing,” Seligman says. “Beyond the hype there is a lot of really cool stuff happening here, and I think that people here are humble, and really recognize that.” K >> Musicians Emerging new talent A rundown of some rising stars in Canadian music BY CanCon 101 Your guide to Canadian content laws. J EANNE A RMSTRONG Here are some emerging Canadian artists experts on the music scene say deserve to be heard — your ears will likely thank you. Claire Jenkins Avec Band Label: Independent It’s rare to hear a band of six members — playing instruments as diverse as the accordion, marimba and xylophone — with such a quiet sound. John Sakamoto, journalist and columnist for The Anti-Hit List, describes this indie-rock band’s intimate track “Five and Twenty” as “so honest and unvarnished.” Dala Label: Universal Music Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther make up Dala, a gentle folk rock duo. “They have the sweetest harmonies since the Dixie Chicks,” says Mary Mill, Maple Music Recordings publicist. “They have great chemistry on stage and can really sing,” Mill adds. Mongrels Label: WeirdBeard Records Sakamoto compares Mongrels to “acid rock of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.” The group’s Led Zeppelininspired guitar riffs and howling vocals may encourage you to dust off your record player and relive the 1970s Golden Age of rock ‘n’ roll. S h a d (Shadrach Kabango) Label: Blackbox Recordings Finally, a homegrown hiphop artist whose lyrics aren’t littered with typical gangstarap fare. “His topics are all about everyday, normal, relatable stuff,” says Theresa Micallef, a publicist at Maple Music Recordings. “One of his songs is about living at home after graduating from university.” Look out, Kanye. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker Label: mystery&romance This Toronto-based mouthful of a band is as unique in its sound as it is in its name. Alan Cross, program director for radio station 102.1 the Edge in Toronto and creator of The Ongoing History of New Music, describes USS’s sound as “unclassifiable.” “[It’s] a little bit of rock, drum, bass and electronic. It’s really neat stuff.” The group’s MySpace favourite “Hollow Point” is electronica-meets-reggaemeets-Newfoundland folk ballad . Who else can boast that? K CRTC — Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission — the governing body that determines what Canadians see and hear over domestic airwaves. M A P L — Acronym that determines if a sound recording qualifies as CanCon under. One of the music, artist, production or lyrics must be made in Canada. 6 — Number of points a film must earn to be designated as Canadian, thus qualifying for the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit. Points are awarded for every principal actor or member of the production team (director, screenwriter, music composer, etc.) who is Canadian. 8 — Number of hours per week, between 7 and 11 p.m., that television broadcasters are required to schedule Canadian programming. — source: Canadian Heritage F8 the Charlatan • March 6, 2008