Interview with Kevin Young, Jonathan Gallivan and Jeff Pearce of Canadian Band: Moist

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Jeff Nedza

By Monica Ng

“End of the Ocean” – anticipated album release date: January 2022! Pre-save your album now on most music platforms.

Cloud 10

OMG, the view from Cloud 10 is pretty darn sweet! I’ve been a Moist fan for more than 25 years, so after I started doing musician interviews on my website, I reached out to them for an interview. Seeing them rock the stage right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, reminded me why I love them so much. These guys are only getting better and hotter with age. Recently, Moist started to follow me on Instagram. Ok, you got me…just a little bit of bragging! Anyway, that was my cue to keep sharing the music that has kept me going all of these years.

Contact

Instagram: @moisttheband
Facebook: moistonline
www.moistonline.com

Music

Dying for a Light in the Dark – single (2021)
Put the Devil on It – single (2021)
Tarantino – single (2021)
End of the Ocean – single (2021)
Glory under Dangerous Skies – album (2014)
Mercedes Five and Dime – album (1999)
Creature – album (1996)
Silver – album (1994)
Self-titled 9 song indie cassette (1993)

About

With their albums Silver, Creature and Mercedes 5 and Dime going multi-Platinum, this Canadian band rocks on a whole different level. Formed in 1992 in British Columbia, Moist is currently made up of David Usher (vocals), Mark Makoway (lead guitar), Jonathan Gallivan (guitar), Kevin Young (keyboard), Jeff Pearce (bass) and Francis Fillion (drums). With over 1.3 million albums sold worldwide and a couple of Juno Awards under their belt, Moist pushes full steam ahead with their upcoming album, End of the Ocean.

Interview

Me: Hey guys! Thank you so much for sending me to Cloud 10. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be interviewing you.  In a message to Kevin, I told him I’d be on Cloud 9 if he agreed to an interview. I had just climbed to the top of a hill on a hike when I saw his reply that it was a go. My hikers were floating the rest of that trail…

Here’s the quick story of how I travelled from Cloud 9 to Cloud 10. I was chatting with Jon about his journey of self-healing and asked if he’d be interested in participating in the interview as well. His yes bumped me to Cloud 10. Then when Jon got busy with his work, Kevin suggested that Jeff could join instead. Jeff was amazing to quickly step in. But when Jon managed to send me his responses too, I made it to Cloud 10.  All this cloud talk may sound silly, but bottom line – I’m ecstatic and just love these guys. Truly, they rock my world!

I foolishly thought it would be easier to prepare my interview questions because I’m such a huge fan, but it actually took me much longer to formulate them.

So many bands have come and gone over the years.  What made you guys decide to take a break after David went on his own?

Kevin: We decided to take a break mainly because ever since we’d started Moist it was all-encompassing. The attitude was very much ‘there is no try, do, you must’. So, after all the time we’d spent together I think we all just needed to stretch out a bit. Now, Jeff and I went out on the road with David’s solo gig pretty soon, relatively speaking, after Moist decided to close up shop for a while. We had no idea it would be 13 years, or less, or more, or if that was it for Moist. But when we started the band – and I often say this to musicians starting out – one of the most important things for us, individually and collectively, was that we were all equally committed to the band, to making music for a living. A problem that often crops up with bands early on is that one or two people like the idea of it, but it’s not life or death – if you get my drift. So, one or two band members decide they want out when things get tough, or are afraid they’ll miss an opportunity to do something else they either love as much (or more) than music, or life gets in the way, or discover they can’t stand the other people in the band, or whatever. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve fought, and bitched and complained and fought some more, but at the core we were, and remain, really close friends.

Jeff: Exactly what Kevin said. We had been living in the Moist bubble for what seemed like a very long time, so by 2000 it was time for us all to swim out of it for a bit. One cool thing that happened with that is that David wanted to keep recording and he asked us all to contribute as co-producers, so that gave us all room for some professional growth.

Me: It’s great that you guys had a chance to try out other things, but I’m really happy that you’re back together and making Moist music magic. What have you guys been doing since the release of your last album Glory Under Dangerous Skies in 2014? And what made you decide to get things going again?

Kevin: We did a fair bit of gigging after Glory came out. We knew we’d end up back in writing sessions and eventually in the studio, but with the 25th anniversary of Silver looming we ended up focusing on that. Putting together the 25th anniversary edition of Silver took up time and inevitably led to getting Jeff back in the fold to go out and play the album live in 2019. Which, inevitably, led to the bunch of us gathering up our bits and pieces of what we’d written individually over time and firing up the mighty Moist meatgrinder we call a songwriting process. And, lickety-split, out popped End of the Ocean.

Jeff:  As for what we have been doing, we all find ways to pass the time when we aren’t doing Moist stuff. We are all fortunate to have many different ways to stretch our musical muscles. But coming back into the band always feels so comforting after not doing it for a bit. The songs are so imprinted into our personal styles of performing.

Jonathan: I don’t think there was any doubt, after recording and touring Glory Under Dangerous Skies, that there wouldn’t be a follow up offering. Beyond the Silver tour, I was still playing guitar for David’s solo shows – acoustic and electric – as I had since 2007. David was doing – and is still doing – regular speaking engagements on creativity and artificial intelligence, and I’ve always joined him with an acoustic guitar for those.

Me: Kevin, I like your meatgrinder reference. I can appreciate the amount of creativity and work that goes into a song. I’m always interested to know how musicians got their first taste of music. How and when did you guys first get started and what’s the first instrument that you picked up?

Kevin: Piano. Age 6? I think. My mother plays. She was my first teacher. Even then I wanted to write music. The first time I performed though, was on Euphonium. My folks were Salvation Army officers, so playing in the SA band was my first long-time gig. I also recall a very dubious sixth-grade talent show where I played a ‘selections from Star Wars’ bit, alone – and very poorly – on Euphonium. Piano seemed a better bet.

Jeff: Ukulele I believe, and probably in grade 5… Still love the uke and managed to sneak a bit of it into one of the songs on the new record. Then I graduated to other stringed instruments. I also played trumpet in high school, but I was pretty terrible. My mom told me, years later, that she was sitting with a friend at one of my school band’s recitals, and her friend at some point turned to her and said ‘Jeff really holds that trumpet well”. Our band teacher was pretty happy when I moved from trumpet to bass.

Jonathan: My parents had a stereo with dual tape decks. At about eight years of age, I would experiment with anything that could make a sound and record it. Then I’d play it back on one tape deck and record another sound on the other. I’d do that over and over until the initial sounds were almost totally imperceptible, but I’d built these “multi-track” songs that I wouldn’t share with anyone.

It wasn’t until I was about 10 that my Mum signed me up for electric guitar lessons. I had this amazing guitar teacher with a hippie-vibe and hair to match. He taught me it wasn’t so much about the notes that I was playing as it was the space between the notes that created the magic. This has always stuck with me as my sort of musical mantra.

Me: Jeff, I’m looking forward to hearing the bits of ukulele. Jon, I love the visual of your early experimentation with recording. You guys are so talented.  There are not many six member bands and even less who have a keyboardist. I love how your instruments sound together and how your music is perfectly layered. Your professionalism on stage and everything you guys do is, bar none. How do you manage to work together/manage conflict and can you describe your creative and songwriting process?

Kevin: First, are you sure you’re talking about Moist? I mean, it’s been almost two years since we’ve gigged regularly – you know what they say, ‘absence makes cold, hard analysis utterly impossible’ (or something like that). Kidding. That’s very kind of you to say.

Live, we’re lucky to have an excellent FOH engineer in Canadian legend, Matt Lamarche, whose skills in mixing the sounds of the night are very finely honed. On record, well, getting from conception to completion can be a bit of a shit fight.

As I said, our songwriting process is a bit of a meat grinder. Everyone comes in with ideas, bits, full songs, and then the lot gets cut up, put back together, fussed over, and argued about until we’ve got something that, collectively, we’re good with. Then – in the time between writing and recording – some bits fall out of favour and, generally, we take what’s left and record it. Then, we decide there’s at least one song we’re not good with and try to ditch it. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t. Honestly, there are songs, Black Roses from Glory being one of them, that we very nearly didn’t keep that ended up being tracks that really hit the spot live.

Going through all that requires having thick skin. But conflict, in part, helps make the result better, I think. We’re often blunt and brutal with each other when we don’t dig what is going on – the downside is there’s weeping and wailing – the upside is as a unit, we’re stronger and so, I think, are the songs/records we put out.

Over to you, Gallivan, you sexy beast…

Jonathan: After working on David’s solo work for many years, the boys invited me into the songwriting process for Glory Under Dangerous Skies. One thing is for certain with this band… there’s never a lack of ideas. Kevin’s right about the blunt and brutal bit. But, when someone presents an idea, everyone has their say. And we either move ahead working on it, or let it go. I find it to be a quick and painless process, with minimal weeping and wailing. Kevin always has a flair for the dramatic.

Occasionally, one of us might be extremely passionate about a rejected idea and re-enter it at a later point in the sessions. And, sometimes, the band can be persuaded to give it a shot. But, if it’s not accepted, nobody takes personal offence. The idea finally just gets filed away for personal use, or tossed away, and we get back to the business of what’s best for the band. It’s very democratic.

Me: I love the comradery – it’s refreshing. Thanks for sharing what goes on behind-the-scenes. You guys were like untouchable rock stars in the old days. I remember standing in line at HMV back in Montreal for your autographs with nothing to say. Now I see that rock stars are people too…haha.

Your 25th year Silver album anniversary tour was totally rocking! You guys were so much fun on stage and I remember David saying that after so many years you don’t give a F**k about anything anymore. Kevin, you did a keyboard solo with improv banter between you and David, and Francis did a never before seen (at least when I’ve seen you guys on stage) wild drum solo. That was so amazing and memorable.

Things are quite different now with social media. It’s so much easier to share and communicate with others.  I have to credit social media for this interview because I couldn’t have reached out to you guys if not for it. It’s interesting to see your posts and what you guys are up to.  Kevin, you are so silly! I love your candid selfies in your posts – especially the one with the fancy goggles. I see that you have a couple dogs and a boxing bag in your backyard. Other than boxing and walking your dogs, what else do you do to stay in shape physically and mentally?

Kevin: What can I say? After spending 30-plus years with the guys, getting a bit goofy helps take the edge off. As does having two adorably obstinate Labs. Most of the time.

I’ve always needed an outlet for excess energy – it goes in phases. On tour, I used to bring a bike with me, or a skateboard or I’d just run. Not just to stay in shape, but to see more of wherever we happened to be. That’s key to maintaining mental stability on tour for me. That, and hiking, swimming, and of course, taking the piss out of the other guys whenever possible.

The boxing is for training only – if I ever actually got in the ring, someone would end up unconscious and bloody and that someone would be me – I started that about three years ago. Everyone was telling me I need to relax, that I should do yoga, but I figured hitting stuff would relax me more than yoga ever could. Seems to work. The heavy bag in the yard has been a blessing during the pandemic.

All that said, one of the keys to mental health for me during the pandemic was doubling down on playing and practicing. Whether I’m learning music, writing, or just messing around and improvising – I can just get lost in it and shut anything out that might be driving me crazy.

Me: How about you Jeff, you what’s keeping you mentally sane during this pandemic?

Jeff: I am lucky to have a family that keeps me sane. We’ve done lots of projects around the house, like building a computer for my son, a shed for me and a pool for my wife. We also live in an area that has been pretty mild in terms of cases, so we have kept socializing with friends and family, although at a safe distance.

Me: And Jonathan, you’ve been posting lately about spiritual and natural healing. You mentioned during one of our chats that you feel there is a disconnect between nature and our souls. Why do you say that and describe the journey that you are on?

Jonathan: I reached a mental low point in April, and my sister ended up flying me out to British Columbia. She and her husband have been at the forefront of amazing healing work with plant medicines, and I was able to experience some incredible deep and life-changing journeys within.

The short story is that I’ve been able to reconnect with my soul – a connection that had been waning since my 20s. Rather than reacting to situations based on ego or pre-programming from childhood, I’m now able to respond by trusting that my soul knows what’s best for me. I’m seeing anger, fear and grief as gifts, or signals, that there is something within me that needs integration.

I think we all have traumas that we need to heal, so I’m taking plenty of time for myself every day to look within and be present with what my body is revealing to me. Each morning I prepare some Cacao and have a ceremony where I set intentions for the day. Cacao is a powerful, heart-opening plant medicine itself, and I find making it a ritual offers me plenty of insights and sets up the day for creativity and joy.

Me: I’m glad that you guys have found ways to manage your stress. Jon, I’ll be following your journey on socials. I bought tix for your Saints and Sinners Tour with The Tea Party, Big Wreck and Headstones – but the tour was rescheduled once and has now been cancelled altogether. I’m bummed out, but not surprised because of COVID. Was your album somehow inspired by the pandemic? How did you manage to put together the songs on your album without a recording studio?

Kevin: We were recording at Revolution Recording in Toronto just before the pandemic was declared. So, we got a lot in the can over six or seven days of being all set up, all playing together, doing a bit of arranging and rearranging of the tunes, fine-tuning tempos, and getting Francis’ drums recorded. Quite a bit of keys, guitars, and bass we kept from that.

Honestly, we thought we’d get back to it and get together to record overdubs in a month or so. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we all hunkered down in our home studios and recorded ourselves. That, to be very clear, is not the way we generally work. The back and forth, arguing about fiddly bits, pushing each other to nail a part or performance differently – it’s aggravating at times, but I much prefer that to recording alone. For Moist, recording has typically been very much a team sport (full contact – at least verbally).

Jonathan: We generated many of the arrangements and song ideas for End of the Ocean at Studio Base Bin in Montreal starting on January 30th of 2020. Mark and I had a dedicated laptop opened up to the John Hopkins COVID-19 virus tracker page…that was when there were only a few hundred cases worldwide. So, it’s hard to feel the record was influenced by the pandemic… especially when everyone else in the band thought it would be done in a few weeks.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So, once it became clear we’d be working from home I did the best thing for myself…and Mark…I didn’t record any new guitars at home. All my guitar takes on the record come from those initial drum and bass sessions at Revolution. What I did do was buy myself a new vocal microphone and rent an awesome Universal Audio compressor. I don’t ever remember spending so much time on backing vocals on any album, but I really got into it. Sometimes you can feel a bit rushed in the studio doing BGs. But, in the privacy of your own home, you can take as long as you need to get it right. It’s your house, after all.

Jeff has an amazing ear for harmonies, and I essentially matched him note for note. Doubling Jeff and Kevin’s harmonies made me really appreciate the harmonies on all the Moist records over the years.

Me: Home studio recording seems to be the trend with other musicians who I’ve interviewed. I suppose that everyone had to adapt to this pandemic way of life. My all-time favourite albums are Silver and Creature. I’m listening to your music right now as I put this interview together. You guys have put on so many concerts over the years. What’s your memorable concert and why? And do you ever get tired of performing?

Kevin: There have been times I’ve burned out on the road. And when we’ve collectively had enough. We did take 13 years away from Moist after all. But the short answer. No. I absolutely love playing live. We all do. It’s the spot where there’s no daylight between putting something out there and getting feedback. It’s glorious.

The pandemic…About six months in I realized it had been the longest I haven’t been on some kind of stage, playing some kind of instrument, since I was about 9-years old. That’s small change compared to what many others have had to deal with. I know. But I missed it deeply. Still, I’m a very lucky human given the struggle so many others have had during the past almost two years.

As for memorable shows…Well, loaded question, I fear. I’ve got favourite shows – two in particular that weren’t Moist concerts, and gigs where everything went off the rails and felt horrid, but mostly – I’m getting quite on in age remember – it’s a patchwork of memorable moments, too many to list. But off the top of my head: That time at McMaster back in the 90s when security didn’t realize David was in the band and tried to throw him out for tackling Mark on stage; that time at Fort Erie when I would have been happy to help them toss David out after he soaked my keyboard in water mid-show, and, most recently, the Silver anniversary Horseshoe gig where our illustrious backline tech, Connor, had to hold my keyboards up so I could keep playing after my keyboard stand collapsed.

Jeff: I have never gotten tired of performing. In fact, there are moments still when we are playing where I suddenly get a third person perspective on what’s happening, and I think about how amazing and lucky we all are to be able to do this crazy thing!

Jonathan: Ah! That’s a tricky question as there have been so many great memories from the road. Playing to a packed crowd in my hometown of Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall was a definite highlight. Or, having my Mum, Dad and sister in the front row at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver would be another one.

The Moist fans truly make performing such an incredible experience. Feeling the energy rise as the concerts move along are like nothing else life can offer. The past two years have been hard, not being able to play shows. Plus, spending time with the boys rehearsing and travelling is kind of like free therapy…and I miss that a lot.

So, even though it was a bit of a kick in the gut to be playing just one show in Ottawa this past September (seeing as we were supposed to be touring Canada all November), it may now be top my list of favourite shows. Everyone seemed so happy just to be out and about, and we were so happy to be on stage. It didn’t matter that we were rusty and making plenty of mistakes…it was just about pure connection with the fans as human beings living through a crazy time. It was beautiful energy.

Me: Wow, it’s so great to hear stories about your experiences. Kevin, you mentioned to me that Put the Devil On It is one of your favourite songs on your upcoming album.  The song is a commentary about former US President Donald Trump. I was reading some of the “lively” comments in response to that song on your social media page. What about this song makes it a favourite?

Kevin: LOL – my favourite song changes often. Currently, it’s the title track. But ‘Devil’ reminds me of tracks from the way back, like Break Her Down and Shrieking Love tunes that grew over time, both from writing to recording and then again over time on stage – with room to flesh them out. Lyrically, too, ‘Devil’ is a song that can be interpreted in different ways. What it means to Put the Devil On It depends on your point of view.

My read on ‘Devil’ is not that it’s a commentary about ‘he who shall not be named’. Although it certainly could be. To my mind, it’s about demonizing people for their opinions, the dangers of refusing to engage with people who disagree with you and at least try to find common ground, which, frankly, for ‘he who shall not be named’ are go-to positions. I’m not against going after someone about their opinions/beliefs if I find them offensive – There’s shit well worth arguing about and speaking vehemently out against. But I’m equally prepared to listen – even to someone I vehemently disagree with – I might learn something I didn’t know. I might be able to take what I’ve learned and use it positively. It might give me more ammunition to shake their cage, work them up and make them crazy. It might just piss me off. Or it may only deepen my belief that we’d all be better off if the offensive prick of a person in question was put in a steamer trunk and dropped off a very high cliff into a very deep hole – preferably filled with molten rock, acid, or long sharp spikes and poisonous snakes.

Generally, though, I think by engaging with people who have different opinions, beliefs, and/or life experiences I’m better able to find, if not common ground, then at least a better understanding of how to counter their argument. Know your enemy, right?

Incidentally, in between writing this and sending it to you I’ve changed my mind about my favourite tune on EotO, again.

Me: I love your visual of the molten rock and poisonous snakes Kevin – too funny! Jeff, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jeff: When we were sending each other song ideas for this record, Kevin sent a pretty much complete song around called High on It that I found so beautiful and powerful. It was so great as it was that I didn’t want to mess it up too much, but that is the song that I snuck some ukulele on. I can’t wait for people to hear it. And I am super-excited for people to hear Ammunition which is really the calling card for the record and shows a side of the band that I don’t think we have explored since the first writing we ever did almost 30 years ago. Slightly more power pop then most of our songs, but still very Moist… has more in common with Freaky be Beautiful than any other song in our catalog.

Me: Freaky be Beautiful is a classic! And Jonathan, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jonathan: Ammunition does it for me. Something about the overall vibe of the song transports me back to the summers of my youth. Maybe it’s because the current conditions and complexities of our world make me yearn for it. That feeling of getting out of school for the year, with nothing to do…and no one telling you what to do. If you wanted to learn how to skateboard, you just got a board and went out and did it. No fancy instructors or clubs. No social media to post to. Hell, there weren’t even helmets.

Sure, you had your moments when you felt you were “left for dead” or “breathing fire”, but you somehow managed to battle through. Nowadays, you can’t go five minutes without an app being out of date on your phone or “breaking news” upsetting your week. Everything is so scheduled, monitored and packaged up as entertainment that it can be easy to lose track of which thoughts are your own. While listening to Ammunition I feel all that tightness loosen up. I guess it just gives me the good feels.

Me: Guys, my expectations for Ammunition are now super high! Your song End of the Ocean is so powerful. Together with the video, the portrayal of humanity is striking. Can you tell us the story and symbolism behind the song?

Kevin:  It’s definitely rooted in the idea of society collapsing – there’s plenty of lyrics that call up images of environmental catastrophes of various flavours. David has a way of putting things that allows a lot of room for anyone – myself included – to see their own life and experiences in. So, at the core, I see EotO – when I’m singing and playing along with it and trying to figure out what the hell I actually played. I get the sense I’m experiencing something ending, and being entirely present – it’s like the clarity I get when I feel ready to let something go when I feel capable of mourning an end, but loving every minute it took to get to that point. So, basically, a bit like Monty Python’s ‘The Galaxy Song’ but not nearly as funny.

Me: Following the release of the songs, End of the Ocean, Tarantino, Put the Devil on It and Dying for a Light in the Dark, I have an overall sense of the theme of the album. In a nutshell, I would say that there’s humanity and lost humanity, then there’s a light or a glimmer of hope for us to be strong and rise above everything. I think that your songs are especially relevant today because among other things, people have so many internal struggles and inner demons; there are harsh societal conflicts and wars; and our planet is literally being destroyed because of the actions/inactions of humans.

Dying for a Light in the Dark is my favourite song so far. I love the lyrics “lost in world without light/and I’m waiting for…/we are…dying for the light in the dark”, music and the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel. I wrote in a post that after I listened to it for the first time, I had this deep sense that my life would be ok even with all the crap going on.  To me, the sound of rain in the intro is symbolic of a spiritual cleanse and rebirth.

Tarantino is a commentary about modern day society’s obsession with beauty and the insatiable need to be perfect.  The video for this song which has footage from “Caterpillarplasty” – a short film by David Barlow-Krelina, is quite dramatic and the people (if I can call them people) are hideous yet oddly fascinating at the same time. While exaggeration may seem extreme, it often speaks the truth. The hot pursuit for beauty often blinds us and makes us forget about things that are truly important. On that note, fill in the blank: the world would be a better place if ____________.

Kevin:  Wow, that requires optimism, which is not my bag really. But I’ll give it a go… IF… “humanity had to deal with an existential threat that required us to all come together and put aside the pursuit of power and wealth in favour of…” Oh. Shit – Climate change – We’ve already got that and yet we’re still pissing on each other. So much for optimism.

One more try… IF… “we found beauty in truth.”

Jeff: I can’t be as succinct as Kevin here. And I can’t be optimistic enough to simply wish we could all learn how to get along… but if we would just take a moment to take a breath, and think before we speak, or text, or type, or generally act, then that would be a good start.

Jonathan: … “it’s only love that matters” … which happens to be my favourite lyric in Ammunition.

Me: Very lyrical. You guys are so deep. Here is my usual get-to-know-you better question – if you had to pick, who would you say are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Kevin: I change my mind about that constantly. Historically: Nick Cave, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash – Currently (bands and solo): Bring Me The Horizon, Public Enemy. I reserve the right to change my mind the next time someone asks, however. With virtually the whole history of recorded music at my fingertips, it’s a moving target.

Jeff: I can’t pick. My most recent playlist includes The Replacements, Rolling Stones (Brian Jones era), Pixies, The Glorious Sons, early U2, Chuck Mangione, ZZ Top, Hamilton, The Reign of Kindo, Jamiroquai, Tenacious D and every song ever recorded by Sade.

Jonathan: I’d have to say Mark Hollis of Talk Talk is my musical hero. Clear an afternoon with no interruptions and listen to their final two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. For me, I can’t classify them as rock or jazz or blues or pop. They are simply immersive sonic experiences I get lost in. He’s also the reason I own a Gretsch Country Classic II guitar, which I used exclusively on End of the Ocean.

I also recently binged watched Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary on the Beatles. It reminded me of how they turned popular music continually on its head – from Please, Please Me to Let It Be, it’s hard to fathom how much they transformed and re-invented themselves in those eight short years.

Finally, I have to say James Jamerson, who played bass on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and defined many Motown records, makes me wish I was a bass player. No doubt about it. Just don’t tell Jeff!

Me: Jon, it’s lucky that Jeff is part of this interview! Let’s see if he reads the final version lol. It has been such an absolute pleasure and honour to interview you guys. Thanks again for sending me to Cloud 10 and taking the time for this interview. You know how much I love you guys and I’m so happy that you are still rocking this world. BTW – how do I get my hands on your self-titled cassette?! I still have a cassette player lol.

Everyone, check out Moist’s brand new music! If you’re not already a fan, take a listen to their older music as well. See for yourself why these guys are my oldest favourite band.

Remember, following on socials is FREE – so give Moist (and its members) a follow. Also show your support by streaming/buying their music, buying concert tickets and merch. Guys, is there anything else that you wish to share with your old and new fans before we wrap up this interview?

Kevin: Yes… But, unfortunately, I’ve misplaced my mother’s butter tart recipe. Sorry. So, just let me say, thank you. For listening to us and coming to the shows and making us laugh and smile and jump up and down like crazy people and generally inspire us to act and feel like we’re far younger than we are. Of all the things I’ve missed since March 2020 being unable to play and/or experience live music is a big one. Can’t wait to get back to it.

Jonathan: Thanks for reaching out, Monica. This has been fun. I can’t wait to reconnect with fans across Canada when we can get back out there. And I look forward to hearing from them when the new record is finally released!

—End—

Here are some new and older videos:

Interview with Canadian Musician Ro Joaquim

canadian music, Interviews
photo of Ro Joaquim
Photo Credit: Patrick K. Leung (Instagram @patrickkleung)

By Monica Ng

How did I live before?

I can’t believe that I ever lived without Ro’s music. I may have seen his name before because he has done a few collabs with AARYS (one of my favourite female musicians), but only took the time to explore his music when AARYS mentioned him in one of her IG stories. With music you know right away if you feel it or not. With Ro’s…I’m definitely feeling it. It’s what happens when music runs through your blood and makes your body move on its own. Ro’s songs Can We and Code of Conduct got me hooked. I’m lucky because at the time I discovered his music, he had just announced a live performance. I didn’t think I could make the show because I had Stuck on Planet Earth‘s (playing with One in the Chamber) concert just days after, but I knew that I would kick myself if I missed it. I summed it up to “VERY important music interview research” and bought my ticket. Cheers to living with no regrets!

Upcoming EP: Edible Flowers

Contact


Instagram: @rrojoaquim
Facebook: @rRojoaquim
www.rojoaquim.com

About

Originally from London, England, Ro is a Toronto-based singer, songwriter, composer and spoken word poet. He takes centre stage warming the crowd with his catchy hip-hop and R & B tunes, vibrant lyrics, positive energy and buff bod.

photo of Ro Joaquim
Photo Credit: Patrick K. Leung (Instagram @patrickkleung)

Music


Can We – single (2021)
Code of Conduct – single (2020)
Love, Pt 2 – single (2020)
Inner Peace – single (2020)
Water Fights EP (2019) – The Real, Let Em Go, Movin’ On, You Time, Look Away
Fallin’ – single (2019)
Touch Down – single (2019)

Interview


Me: Ro, Ro, Ro! Your vibe is vibin’!!!

I have already shared your music on so many of my reels and stories on social media. From the feedback I’ve received so far, you have at least three new fans. A friend said that he added you to his playlist right away and appreciates the freshness of your music. I love your freestyle videos about the pandemic – they are hilarious! You can find these videos on Ro’s IG page. And congrats on being the voice of Jeep in the ad you posted on your socials. What are your thoughts on the Toronto music scene as the city is slowly reopening during the pandemic?

Ro: Toronto had such momentum before the pandemic and we have some serious catching up to do. Just like the mosaic of the city, the artists here create from a beautiful blend of cultures and experiences.

Me: I’ll definitely do my part to support musicians. BTW – thank you so much for treating me to a drink at your concert. It was totally unexpected and sweet!

I know that you and AARYS are involved with other musicians at Division 88 – a Toronto-based recording studio bringing musicians together for collaborative work. Can you tell us about your involvement and briefly describe the creative things that happen there?

Ro: It was part serendipity and part the brilliant workings of Division 88 owner and founder Billy Wild. Billy found me at a songwriting camp where I was writing for another local Toronto singer. A song was being created at the time, Billy asked me to take a stab at it and the rest was history. At Division, amazing artists from all styles come together and create music with no particular goal and what comes out is usually amazing.

Me: Sounds like a creativity is brewing there for sure! I love the thriftiness of your lyrics – yet each word is right on target. That’s true poetry. It reminds me of my haiku writing (5/7/5 syllables) – you can only use a total of 17 syllables to conjure up a visual and deep symbolic meaning of the human experience. When did you start writing and what influences your musical style?

Ro: I started writing in elementary/middle school. I actually have a speech impediment so I’m sure it assisted in me diving into the creative arts – as it forced me to be intentional and narrowly focused on what I was creating and the emotion I wanted it to convey. My influences are Nat King Cole, Tupac Shakur, DMX and late 90’s and early 2000s RNB.

Me: It was great to hear some music from your upcoming EP at your concert. Come Forward is such a catchy, fun song – can’t wait to add it to my playlist. What inspired the album and why did you choose Edible Flowers as the name for it?

Ro: I am a writer first, that being said, I wanted to put together a body of work that showcases that. Individually each song was inspired by a different woman in my life. Similar to my poetry I take an introspective look at a situation that I experience or someone I know is experiencing and the art creates itself. Each song is about the women in my life and my partner has grown my intrigue for plants, so somewhere in the cross section came Edible Flowers.

Me: Sorry Ro, but I can’t resist…lots of music = lots of ladies! Just bugging you of course. I love how your songs are relatable. In your concert promo poster, you indicated that there would be “special guests”. I wrote in a post following the show that the most special guest wasn’t ON the stage, but OFF the stage – your mother. She told me that she surprised you by showing up. Too funny when you promised her from the stage that you’d only say Motherf***er two more times. Also, you’re so polite – you asked the crowd if it was ok to take off your shirt because you were hot. Of course, someone feisty was telling you to take off your pants too, LOL. You have such a positive vibe and great message about the importance of open communication. If you had to live by a single philosophy, what would it be?

Ro: You hit the nail with this one. Single philosophy would be: Get to know yourself inside and out and learn to express yourself in a way you intend to be received.

Me: That’s a good one to follow and by extension – learn to love yourself. I didn’t get a chance to speak to your mother more, but I asked her if you were musical since you were a child. She hesitated and said that she didn’t really think so. I read on your interview with Canadian Beats that you did some writing for other musicians and a music producer encouraged you to sing your own songs. When did you discover your gift for music and do you play any instruments?

Ro: I wrote hooks and songs from about middle school but I never really had a medium that I was comfortable enough to express it. As I started writing for artists, there was a pivotal moment when one of the artists got an opportunity to be on The Launch. While there he performed a song I wrote, and the music executives gave such high praises about the songwriting. That was the moment I went from just being confident in my abilities to knowing I had developed the skill to really do this on a bigger stage. I’ve been teaching myself the piano and guitar.

Me:  That’s so amazing! I told you that I while I was driving with Can We on repeat, I thought of this specific interview question. The lyrics of the song go: “I get so lost in you/I’m upset when I only get a part of you/It’s killing me I wonder if it’s hard for you/poker face like it don’t even bother you…” then “Can we be friends/can we make love/can we surrender…?” You so beautifully described the inspiration for and the meaning of this song at your concert.  Can you share your thoughts again?  And I ask you – do you think it’s possible to have it all?  BTW – I love the shirts that you sold at the show. They each have a different message on the back – “can we be friends”, “can we surrender”, etc. I bought the one that says, “can we be open”. Everyone, if you are interested, you can purchase a shirt through Ro’s online store.

Ro: I got inspired to write that song after reading the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. Perel is a psychotherapist who focuses on couples counselling. In the book she draws from her experience counselling couples and finds that in most cases, the couples who have been together for a long time often lose their erotic side either through the mundane patterns of the relationship or because children have changed the dynamic of the relationship. The conversation was brought up that can we have both? Can we have the security/friendship that comes from a long term relationship without sacrificing the erotic element that is so prevalent in the beginning. Mixed in with inspiration from my own relationship, we get the song Can We. I think it is possible to have it all, but it forces us to learn about ourselves and be able to communicate in an effective way. Miscommunication often comes from uncommunicated expectations. The “Can we be open” shirt is my favourite one. Thank you for that.

Me: It was great to have the chance to meet you in person. There’s so much to love about you. The world would be a better place if everyone was so warm and genuine like you. On stage and from your posts, I see that you put in your time at the gym. Other than working out, what else do you do to reduce stress?

Ro: Helping people. I believe I am here to serve, so whatever opportunity I get to serve others – that is what reduces stress and gives me a greater appreciation for the world I live in.

Me: That’s so lovely Ro. The world needs more people like you. I have to ask because I ask all my interviewees: who are your top 3 favourite musicians? I know it’s hard, but if it helps…who are you listening to currently?

Ro: Nat King Cole, Tupac, and right now Russ.

Me: What are you plans now that things are opening up and is there anything else that you’d like to share? It’s a bit ironic, because as I’m finishing up this interview, Toronto pandemic restrictions are being implemented AGAIN! Will this pandemic ever end?

Everyone – as usual, don’t forget to show your support to musicians by following them, like/commenting
on their posts, sharing their music with others, buy/stream music, buy merch, attend concerts, etc. And
remember that love is free, so show Ro some love!

Ro: I am working on some cool collabs with some established artists and I am excited for these projects to come to life. I will be releasing more singles from the project and looking to release in March.

—End—

Check out Ro’s music!

Interview with Canadian Musician Kane Miller

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Littlejohn Photography

By Monica Ng

How I found Kane 

At work I usually play my own daily playlist on Spotify, but sometimes I listen passively to random songs.  As I was working away one day, this beautiful voice sung out to me and I had to quickly maximize my Spotify screen to find out who was singing – and of course, it was Kane.  

Contact 

Instagram: @kanemillermusic 

Facebook: @KMillerMusic 

www.kanemillermusic.com 

Music 

Keep Away From Time – EP (2021) – Keep Away From Time and I Still Love You 

Isolation Sessions – EP (2021) – only available on Bandcamp – Wait for You, Catch My Heart, Mystery (Leads to You), All In and Feel You

I Still Love You – EP (2021) – I Still Love You and Arrow

For You, For Now, For Always – EP (2020) – Something New, Getting Older, Memories, Do It All For You, Secrets, Kings and Queens and Never Coming Back 

Something New – single (2020)

In this Moment – EP (2019) – All We Need, Could It Be, Coral Reefs and Morning Dew, Black Dress (Acoustic) and All We Need (Acoustic)

Secrets – single (2019)

Through That Door– single (2019) 

Black Dress – single (2019) 

Remember Us – single (2019)

Sleeping Sea – single (2019)

About  

Kane is a classically trained musician, singer and songwriter based in Lakefield, Ontario. In his spare time, he is out and about in nature and being so handy – has even completed his own kitchen and bathroom renos. 

Photo credit: Littlejohn Photography

Interview 

Me: Hey Kane! Thank you so much for taking part in this interview. I say it all the time, but I love the positive reception I get from all the musicians that I’ve interviewed. I’ve shared your music a lot on my social media stories and IG reels. I was hooked the moment I heard I Still Love You.  Some of my other favourites are Could It Be, Through That Door and Sleeping Sea.  

In light of the pandemic, what does the music scene currently look like in Lakefield? 

Kane: Thank you so much! Lakefield is a pretty small town so not a ton of a music scene to start, but definitely there has been a hit in the area. No bars/theatres meant no shows. Usually I try to do at least a larger theatre show and some pub shows throughout the year at home, but obviously nothing in the last little while.

Me: Hopefully things will get back to more normal soon. The pandemic hit Toronto pretty bad. Some venues closed their doors for good. Based on your posts it looks like you play the piano, guitar, violin and drums. Which instrument did you first get your hands on and do you play anything else? 

Kane: Sadly, not drums. I can’t quite seem to get my feet to go in line with my arms. My first instrument would probably be violin (maybe piano). I picked up the violin when I was 7 and took classical lessons and played with orchestras and different groups right up until university. Guitar came later, around high school.

Me: Very impressive that you can play so many instruments. I once sat behind a drum kit and I did just that – I sat there with no clue what to do. In the midst of the pandemic, you released your EP titled Isolation Sessions.  Basically, you isolated yourself in a cabin while you produced six songs during a 4-day period.  Obviously, you were productive during that time, but what thoughts ran through your mind in terms of the pressure and stress of having to produce an album? 

Kane: I don’t think I really felt much stress to produce the album. I have a background in audio engineering so I was fairly comfortable doing it on my own. I really wanted all the distractions out of the way when I did it though. While I was at the cabin, I made sure to leave my phone at home and keep away from the internet. I really had no contact with the outside world while I was there. That really helped me to get going and feel productive with each song.

Me: What a great way to focus. We should all disconnect from technology once in a while. I’m a bit confused about the labelling of your LV Cabin Sessions versus your Isolation Sessions – are they the same thing?

Kane: Isolation Sessions and LV Cabin Sessions are different. LV Cabin Sessions were done with my regular producer, Femke, as well as Singer-Songwriter, Micah Dalton, a drummer, Matthew Singler and an engineer, Josh Reynolds. We did this one in an Airbnb house a couple hours outside of Nashville in 2019.

Isolation Sessions were completely done by me. All engineering, mixing and mastering as well as all instrumentation. All songs were written with either Jeff Turner or Fain Spray. Everything was recorded in my family cottage in Bancroft in June 2020.

Me: You are one talented guy putting together a whole album on your own. I’ll have to check out your Isolation Sessions on Bandcamp. I love your outdoor shots where you are holding your guitar. The mood of your photos totally supports the organic sound of your songs. What inspires your music? 

Kane: Thank you! Every picture is really to the credit of Rebekah Littlejohn from Littlejohn Photography. She has an amazing eye and always seems to catch the best photos and moods. My inspiration for music comes from pretty much anything, whether it’s a thought I had one day or just a feeling. I love to sit down with a guitar and try to write out whatever I can.

Me: It’s so perfect that you love to sit, write and sing – while I love to listen. Keep the songs coming! I find your music authentic and uncluttered – free of bells and whistles. I am reminded of a comment that musician Jake Feeney made in my interview with him about the competitive music industry. He said “A lot of the time it feels like the music isn’t enough, and that you need a compelling story to really cut through the noise.”  What do you think it takes to make your mark in the music industry? And were you ever part of a band, or ever consider forming a band? 

Kane: I agree. It always seems to feel like you need some kind of story or way to market your music. With so much coming out on Spotify or Apple Music daily, you have to find a way to cut through. I have a Celtic band, Hunt the Hare, that is more of a hobby and something completely different from my solo music. I love playing with groups of people and am always looking for interesting people to play music with.

Me: So cool! I’m taking a listen to Hunt the Hare as I write. I read that you signed on with LV Music – a Nashville (Tennessee) label and did some collaborative work with other artists. Can you tell us more about this? 

Kane: All of my music out on Spotify and streaming services has been produced by Femke and released through her label, LV Music. It’s an incredible label to be part of and Femke is an amazing producer. The label feels like a small family and the support between artists and Femke is great. I’ve done a ton of writing collaborations with other artists and writers since starting to work with Femke and LV as well. Pavel Khvaleev just released a song that we did together a couple years ago, with him being a DJ and producer and me a singer-songwriter. It was a totally cool thing that was a very new experience for me.

Me: Nice. One of the things that I love about these interviews is learning tidbits about the music industry. I’m going to change up my typical interview question about your top 3 favourite musicians. Instead, who or which artists would you say most influenced your current musical style? 

Kane: Even narrowing it down to 3 favourite musicians would be real hard. I listen to a huge amount of different stuff, from classical to folk to Celtic and back to alternative rock. Currently I’m listening to some Sufjan Stevens B-Sides while we do this but I think my biggest influence would be Damien Rice.

Me: I took a listen to Damien Rice and I get where you’re coming from. I’ve received all sorts of feedback about the challenges associated with being a musician, but the need to have a thick skin is a recurring one. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a career as a musician? 

Kane: Thick skin is a good one. I love the music part of being a musician but you have to be aware that there is so much more in the marketing and business side of it, if you want to succeed. I find attitude is one of the biggest things as well. There are going to be nights when you play just to the bartender and you have to give that your all, just as if you are playing to a packed stadium. Every moment is important.

Me: So true about attitude and I love the visual of the performer and lone bartender. With an impressive 2 million streams across music platforms, what are your plans to keep up the momentum? 

Kane: Thank you! I’m always releasing music and I’ve got a few things in my mind and up my sleeve – so stay tuned!

Me: Kane, thanks again for this interview. If you ever play in Toronto, I’ll be there. Is there anything else that you wish to share? 

Everyone, don’t forget to give Kane a follow and support musicians by streaming/buying their music, buying merch and tickets for their shows. 

Kane: Thank you for having me!

—End— 

Here are a few videos for you to enjoy!

Interview with Canadian Band: One in the Chamber

Interviews, Music
Photo Credit: Keelan Nightingale

By Monica Ng

I’ve seen One in the Chamber’s name mentioned here and there on social media, but most recently through Sara Sunshine (IG: @sara_sunshine_meredith) and Canadian band Stuck on Planet Earth’s (IG: @stuckonplanetearth) posts/stories. I figured that I should take some time to listen to their music – afterall, Toronto has some wicked musicians.

Upcoming concerts:

October 30, 2021 – Halloween Rock N Eve (Fundraising concert in support of frontline workers at Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation)

November 16, 2021 – The Rose Brampton (with Stuck on Planet Earth)

Contact

IG: @oitcband

FB: @oitcband

www.oitcband.com

Music

Blow (single) – 2020

To the Gallows (single) – 2020

I’ve Got Something to Say (EP) – 2018 – Crooked Step, Bills to Pay, The Ballad of Captain Jack, Something to Say and Itchin’ Back

The Boston Session: Bootleg Demos – 2017

Photo credit: Keelan Nightingale

About

This self-described dirty rock ‘n roll Toronto-based band is made up of Mike Biase (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Cecil Eugene (lead guitar/backing vocals), Christian Dotto (bass) and Gerrod Harris (drums). One in the Chamber (“OITC”) is on a roll with over 20,000 Spotify streams, more than 10,000 followers on social media, and their album “I’ve Got Something to Say” being named as “Canadian EP of the Year” following its release by Canadian Beats and their readers.

Interview

Me: I’m delighted to have this opportunity to get to know the four of you. You guys are LOUD and banging – I love it! I admit that I haven’t been listening much to heavier rock lately, but I think I’m ready for some head banging. What I like about rock ‘n roll is that you can just let go of everything and ride the music. The pandemic has affected so many industries, but now that things are opening up again here in Toronto – let’s hear it…How was Voodo Rockfest?

Gerrod: Thanks for having us! Voodoo Rockfest was unreal. It was amazing to be back on stage and to see so many of our friends in other bands for the first time in almost two years.

Christian: Nice to meet you, Monica! Thanks for having us!

Me: Pleasure’s mine! And thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedules for this interview. You guys are really great with social media. When I first followed you, I got a DM asking what made me follow you with links to your socials. I find that music is a whole new experience when you have an opportunity to interact with musicians through commenting and DMs.  That being said, I can imagine that managing your socials is a full-time job in itself.  With over 10K followers, how do you manage and where do you draw the line between band life and your personal lives?

Gerrod: We try to keep it as professional and in tone with the band as much as possible. We have so much going on that we never feel that we need to post about our personal lives. It’s nice having the separation.

Christian: It really is a pleasure to connect with these people. We’ve met some of the most amazing fans and some truly cool musicians this way.

Me: I posted on my social media that I fell in love with your softer song Just for Tonight. It may sound weird, but it IS possible to fall in love with a song. I’ve only experienced this feeling twice in my life – the first time was Lewis Capaldi’s song Someone You Loved. If I try to describe it, I would say that your song has this way of wrapping itself around me and carrying me in such an intangible emotional way.  It’s been on repeat for a while now. So, thank you for this beautiful song. What inspires your music and your latest singles Blow and To the Gallows?

Mike: I generally write lyrics first. I always keep a notebook or paper around and I have pages and pages of lyrics written about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I would end up writing music to them. For lyrics my inspiration has generally come from what is going on in my life (songs like Just for Tonight or Bills to Pay). Since being in OITC though, I’ve found that I like hearing the music first, and writing lyrics that come from the song. That was the case with songs like Blow and To the Gallows. The music has its own emotion and the words come out of it. I still write a lot in my books, but I find I’m also writing guitar licks and lines more often now, such as Itchin’ Back, and then putting lyrics in once we’ve written the music.

Christian: Wow! Thank you for the compliment! Just for Tonight (Stay) is a song that we recorded in Boston with former Bang Tango guitarist, Scott LaFlamme. The bassline that I wrote was inspired by an idea that Scott had given me at the time and was far more interesting than what I was playing during rehearsals. Blow and To the Gallows were written in a more organic way than Just for Tonight (Stay) was. Mike immediately expressed how the riff was too heavy, so he started messing around with it on his guitar and eventually created the main riff that you hear in the song. The original riff was still salvaged though, as that is what Cecil plays in the first verse of the song!

Me: It’s nice to hear the story behind my favourite song. Congratulations – I read that you guys recently made it to the semi-finals in 97.7 HTZ FM’s annual Rocksearch competition. How did you get involved in the competition and what’s the story behind how you guys formed as a band?

Gerrod: It really meant a lot to us to be recognized by 97.7 in 2020’s Rocksearch. It is a Canadian institution that has promoted some of the coolest bands to come out of our country for the last two decades and it was amazing to have been a part of that.

Cecil: The band formed in 2015. At the time, the band I was playing with was in the midst of breaking up, so I decided to get a bunch of guys together to start a rock/hard rock band. I knew Mike from the pub I worked at, which was at York University. We had played a few gigs together before, so when I saw him waiting in line on pub night, I asked him if he wanted to start a band, and so we were the first two members of OITC. I hosted jazz nights at the pub and one night Gerrod subbed in as a drummer for a group that I booked regularly. The guitarist in the group worked at the pub as well and gave me Gerrod’s number, saying he was looking for a rock band, so I gave him a call. We met up at one of the university’s music rooms and the three of us jammed the early stages of Bills to Pay. One night, I was talking to my brother, telling him we were still searching for a bass player. He told me to message Chris because he was also looking for a band and played bass. After a few months, we decided to name the band One in the Chamber and played our first gig at The Valley Bar and Grill in Mississauga.

Me: I love those stories…how destiny brought you together! I’m sure you get asked this all the time – how did you choose your band’s name? I stumbled upon another rock band with the same name while checking out your music.  How can fans avoid confusion on this front?

Gerrod: I’m sorry to the hear that! To my understanding, we are the only active band with the name, but follow us on our socials and website to see everything from us firsthand.

Christian: It actually took us about a month to finally decide on a band name. We had close to ten ideas that we’d narrowed down to a top three, and finally agreed that One in the Chamber was the name for us.

Gerrod: One in the Chamber is about making your one shot count.

Me: Cheers to first shots! I enjoy hearing how musicians first get into music. When did you guys pick up your first instrument and what other instruments do you play?

Mike: My dad used to listen to Q107 every morning taking us to school, so I started listening to rock music at a young age. My mum played guitar as well so I was surrounded by music all the time. I played trumpet in band in elementary school and picked up guitar when I was 12.

Gerrod: I grew up with music playing in my house all the time, but I started playing the drums in the seventh grade. Since then, I’ve learnt a little guitar but drums have always been my passion.

Christian: I also grew up around music. My parents would always have rock and metal music playing in the house and on car rides. When I was about 13 years old, I got my first electric guitar and picked up the drums and bass guitar in high school.

Me: Wow, your houses were rocking! Sounds like music is in your blood. As you may know, I interview musicians (mostly Canadian because I’m a huge supporter of my fellow Canadians) out of pure passion. What I love is that I have a chance to ask my questions and learn about them and what drives them. If you had to describe yourself in 2- 3 words, what would they be?

Gerrod: Dirty, rock and roll.

Mike: Hairy, hard hitting.

Me: That’s so funny and most awesome! I would have never expected those descriptions. I’ve received feedback from previous interviews that it’s really hard to pick 3 favourite musicians, but to get a feel for where you’re coming from – who are yours?

Mike: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen.

Gerrod: If we’re talking drummers, I’d say John Bonham, Chad Smith and Danny Carrey.

Christian: That is a tough one. I’m going to narrow it down, like Gerrod, and stick to bass players – Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler and Geddy Lee.

Me: I like getting answers to this question because I get to discover more musicians. You guys are so personable and down-to-earth. I would imagine that those traits are assets in the music industry. Any advice for anyone starting their music careers?

Gerrod: Be kind, actively pay attention to the business side and never stop learning.

Christian: Also be genuine. People can see right through you if you’re being pretentious or trying too hard. If you’re doing what you love, just have fun with it!

Mike: Leave your heart and soul on stage every time you play.

Me: Love it guys. It’s been great chatting and I look forward to seeing you guys in concert.

Everyone – don’t forget to follow these rocking dudes on socials and check out their music. 

Guys, is there anything you wish to share before we wrap things up?

Christian: Thanks again for having us, Monica. See you around!

Gerrod: Thank you for your time! Hope to see you at a show soon!

—End—

Here are some videos to enjoy!

Interview with Canadian musician Jake Feeney

Interviews, Music
Photo credit: Julia Colangelo

Vegan. Toronto. Musician. Three words that caught my interest and prompted this interview. I “met” Jake on the Toronto Vegan Facebook group. He posted asking if anyone knew of any vegan restaurants where he could play live. Of course, I had to check out his music right away! I have to be honest, folk-alternative music is not really my style, but Jake’s songs are beautiful and heartfelt. His latest single, Evaporate is really nice.

Contact 

IG: @jakefeeney

FB: @jakefeeneymusic 

www.jakefeeney.com 

His Music 

Evaporate (Single) – 2021

Sunrise (Single) – 2021 

Pipe Dreams (Album) – 2020: Pipe Dreams, We Used to Float, Memoria, Jane, I’ll Get Halfway, Mooring, Ageless Storm and The Hall. 

Calling Cards (Single) – 2020 

No Headlights (Single) – 2019 

About 

From Toronto, Jake is a singer, songwriter, guitar player and music producer. He produces his music in his bedroom studio and enjoys performing in front of live audiences. Jake had an early start in music – with his first recording at age 8 in his father’s home studio. At age 18, he won a finalist award in RBC’s Emerging Artists program. 

Photo credit: Julia Colangelo

Interview 

Me: Jake, thanks for taking the time to participate in this interview. You paint a very nostalgic picture recording your own music in your father’s studio. I read online that your father is a country music producer, so it seems like music is in your blood. Can you share one of your favourite memories in the studio as a child? 

Jake: Thank YOU for doing this, it’s my pleasure to answer your thoughtful questions. Music has definitely been at the forefront of my life since I was born. My dad Joel did a lot of his work in his home studio, so I would have to say my favourite memory would be sitting on the carpet in the room next to the studio, playing with Lego and mini sticks. My dad has mentioned that the sound of me rummaging through the Lego box showed up in some of his recordings. Not sure if these takes made the cut, but those were lovely times. 

Me: I can totally picture you sitting there. I would imagine that the sound of shifting Lego blocks would be edited out lol. You’re one of my younger interviewees. Congratulations on winning a finalist award at the RBC’s Emerging Artists program. I’m happy that programs like these exist because they give musicians an opportunity to showcase their talent. How did you get involved with the program and what are your plans (including new music) going forward? 

Jake: Thank you! I’m happy that they exist too, and I honestly didn’t know about this one until they contacted me. The principal at my high school (Etobicoke School of the Arts), Rob Mackinnon, had submitted my music to RBC and that’s how I got involved. I am so grateful he did, because I think that experience gave me a lot of confidence and excitement about a career in music. My plans are to simply keep creating music that is authentic to me. I am also becoming more involved in other projects like writing for others and session work. The goal has always been to inspire others like my heroes do for me – so however I can do that, I will.

Me: Sounds like you have a great plan mapped out. I like the distinctive sound of your fingerstyle guitar. I read on your website that you’re a self-learned guitar player. When did you pick up your first guitar and do you play any other instruments? 

Jake: I picked up guitar around 13 after playing piano as a kid. I dabble with bass guitar and love to still play piano when I’m around one, but guitar is my main squeeze – I can’t get enough. I would play as many hours as I possibly could when I was younger and had fewer responsibilities. Being late or half asleep in high school because I stayed up too late playing guitar, was a very real thing. Discovering John Mayer and his playing was a huge inspiration to me.

Me: What, sleeping in class? Unheard of lol. Well, you certainly had a good reason for it. My favourite song of yours is “Calling Cards”.  It’s hard to explain, but somehow it takes me back to a less complicated time in my life. What is the source of your musical inspiration for your songwriting and style? 

Jake: That’s really nice, I love the different effects songs have on people. Songwriting came first, likely because I wanted to be like my dad. When I discovered guitar, I felt like I found my instrument and the right way to deliver my songs. I like to write songs about my life, but ones that can be interpreted individually. That’s why I don’t like to label a song as specifically about this or that. I think that’s why I love slightly more impressionistic songwriters, like Bon Iver and Gregory Alan Isakov. I’ve always gravitated toward mellow, melodic and emotion-heavy songs. That kind of expression is what comes naturally to me, so I try to embrace it as much as I can. 

Me: That’s one of the things I love about music – people can interpret the same song totally differently. For me, certain songs are emotionally loaded and take me back to a specific moment in time. As someone with stage fright, I really admire your confidence to perform in front of crowds. Do you get stage fright? And what kind of challenges have you come across promoting yourself and your music? 

Jake: I do get stagefright. Maybe a little less each time, but I’ve never not felt it on the day of a performance. I like the nerves though, because I think it means I care, and want to do a good job up there. After the first song, a lot of it dissipates. 

Promoting yourself as an indie musician is definitely challenging, and there are a lot of amazing musicians fighting the same fight. Sometimes I feel like the biggest challenge is trying to find your own angle. A lot of the time it feels like the music isn’t enough, and that you need a compelling story to really cut through the noise. While I do agree that this helps, I think it still comes down to writing a good song that will speak for itself. So more often, the biggest challenge is writing that song. 

Me: I can appreciate how hard it is for musicians to find their spot on a highly competitive metaphorical “world stage”. I agree that staying true to yourself and your style is important. In your case it definitely comes through. It’s obvious from your posts that you are smitten by your girlfriend Julia (who happens to be on the singles cover of “Sunrise”). In one of your posts, you wrote “my crush on her grows embarrassingly bigger and bigger every day.” Awww…young love is so sweet.  Did you write any songs specifically for her? And does she ever sing along with you? 

Jake: Absolutely I’ve written songs for Julia. It’s hard not to. She does sing along with me! She is a very talented singer and I’ve heard some beautiful songs that she’s written. We sing covers together a lot, and it always leaves me smiling.

Me: Amazing to have a partner in crime! If you had to pick one of your songs – which one holds the most meaning for you and why? 

Jake: I think it changes – but right now, my newest song Evaporate definitely holds the most meaning to me. I think it’s because it came from an honest and vulnerable place, and it’s about feelings I deal with constantly. It’s a reminder to me that it’s okay to let go of a thought. This is something I need frequent reminding of.

Me: It’s amazing that from vulnerability comes beautiful music. Letting go of things is something that I write about often. Music shapes and influences us in so many ways. Here’s my usual “get to know you” question: who are your top 3 favourite musicians? 

Jake: This is very tough… but I’ll try to narrow it to 3, in no particular order:

1. John Mayer
2. The Tallest Man on Earth
3. Frank Ocean 

Me: Frank Ocean and Thom Yorke are probably the most popular fav musicians named by the other musicians I have interviewed so far. Pandemic life has changed people’s lives in so many ways. What are your plans now that things are finally opening up? 

Jake: I am slowly getting back to performing here in Toronto, which feels great. My rule has always been to say yes to every gig (if it’s feasible) so I will continue to do that, and hopefully the ball will keep rolling. I’m also recording and working on releasing more new songs.   

Me: Amazing! I know this is a music interview, but it stemmed from your vegan group post, and I get really excited when I meet a fellow vegan. I’m glad that there is a huge global movement right now towards ending animal cruelty and saving the planet. This November marks my 3rd veganversary. You mentioned that you’ve been vegan about 2 years.  What’s the story behind why you became vegan? 

Jake: I’m glad there is too. It feels like I came into it during a big surge, which is very exciting. Julia had a lot to do with me switching to a plant-based diet – but not through persuasion, just education. I was inspired by her and I learned so many things that changed my perspective. The switch was a bit gradual at first, but as I learned more, I became more passionate about the movement. Now it seems being vegan is a no-brainer for me, personally.

Me:  Cheers to a more compassionate world! Jake, it was great getting to know you. Thanks again for your time.  Hopefully, I’ll catch you performing when I’m out enjoying vegan food. Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Everyone – check out Jake’s music and support local Canadian music!  

Jake: Thank you so much for doing this interview! I’d love to see you out at a show. The support you give to upcoming artists is so valuable and admirable, and it goes a long way. I hope your readers can find something that speaks to them in my music. 

—End— 

Here are some of Jake’s audio videos

Interview with Alex and Dan of Canadian Band: Hideout Legacy

canadian music, Interviews
Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: Andrea Hunter Photography
www.andreahunter.ca/

By Monica Ng

Out of hiding 

Now that I’ve discovered Hideout Legacy‘s music – they’re no longer “in hiding” from me! I saw Sara’s (IG: @sara_sunshine_meredith) band recommendation so checked out their music. I began following Sara on IG because of our mutual love for Toronto’s very own Stuck on Planet Earth as well as our love of nature and the outdoors.  I’m a sucker for Canadian music and psyched to promote and support our musicians. I’ve been a music lover since I was 7 and admit that I have high expectations when it comes to my music. When I first come across a new artist and start listening to their music, I’m afraid to be disappointed. It’s like when I’m discovering new trails – some surpass my expectations, while others leave me feeling empty. I find that interviews are easy for me to put together when I’m interested in the musician and their music – so needless to say, these guys are amazing! I absolutely love Canadian enthusiasm, passion and spirit. All the musicians that I’ve interviewed are super-friendly, wonderful and incredibly talented.  

Contact 

IG: @hideoutlegacy

Facebook: Hideout Legacy

www.hideoutlegacy.com 

About 

From my very own city, Toronto, Hideout Legacy is made up of Thomas Arthur (vocals/keyboard), Dan Morson (guitar) and Alex Arthur (drums/backup vocals). I can pretty much guarantee you that they’re the only “twin brothers and their best friend” trio that you’ll ever come across. This self-described “modern alt-rock” band re-invented itself during COVID times and created a new name for itself – pushing full steam ahead in the music scene with new singles releases and an upcoming EP this September.  

Hideout Legacy band
Photo Credit: David McDonald Photography
www.davidmcdphotos.zenfolio.com

Their Music 

Drive Me Wild (single) – 2021 

Anthem (Walk off the Earth – cover) – 2021

Game Changer Remix (single) – 2021

Game Changer (single) – 2021 

Interview 

Me: I really appreciate you guys taking the time to participate in this interview. Your latest release, “Drive Me Wild” has been on repeat for the last week or so – in my car, at work (I feel sorry for my colleague lol), rollerblading, biking, hiking, cleaning… you name it. It’s a great song. Very wild! 

On the topic of wild – these COVID times are crazy. What were you guys doing right before the COVID shutdowns?  And what’s going on now? 

Alex/Dan: First of all, we’re honoured, thanks for having us!

We were in the midst of recording our EP right before the lockdown and used the opportunity to record and make more music, re-write and re-record. “Drive Me Wild” was very much a baby of that longer recording time. We started with a heavy rock sound, reworked the song multiple times to get the current modern, alternative version and even made an R&B one as well that will be released June 15th.  Right now we are focused on publicity – in getting the music out there as well as releasing the singles and EP.  We are excited for what’s around the corner with restrictions being lifted so we can play some shows.

Me: I think everyone’s anxious for the restrictions to be lifted. I have it all planned out – post-COVID, I’m going to continue my exploration of Ontario’s trails at distant locations, go to live concerts and chill out with friends over a meal and drinks inside a restaurant.  

What are the first 3 things that you’ll do after the pandemic is over? 

Alex: Live Music (see as many live shows as possible), have a huge party, and definitely looking forward to going out on a Friday and Saturday.

Dan: Go to a concert, eat out, have a big party with all my friends.

Me: It sounds like we’re pretty much on the same page with our plans! Alex – when did you first pick up a set of drumsticks? And do you play any other instruments?  

Alex: I first picked up a set of sticks for our first venture into rock, when was 19. I started with guitar and added bass and drums at the same time. I’ve always loved playing multiple instruments but am loving the kit. The kit is the only instrument where you can become one with the music and close your eyes, it’s so much by feel. 

Me: That’s amazing that you’re able to find your space. I’ve always loved the sound of the drums. Dan, when did you pick up your first guitar? And do you play other instruments?  

Dan: I started playing guitar just before high school when my dad introduced me to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  I rented a guitar for a month and absolutely loved it – playing relentlessly until I had to return it.  I loved it so much I wanted to buy one but I had a tendency to start/stop a lot of hobbies so didn’t continue playing.  After returning the guitar rental I continued to think about playing for many months after until I realized I was serious about learning to play, at which point I bought my first acoustic. I played trumpet through most of high school in the jazz and orchestral bands however guitar became more and more a priority as time went on.

Me: Thanks for sharing guys. I enjoy hearing stories about how musicians get started. Everyone has such a different story. And Dan, I totally get it about start/stop with hobbies – I’m the same way. I mentioned that “Drive Me Wild” reminds me of “Frost” by Rare Monk, so I was instantly hooked on your song. Who writes your songs? And where do you guys get your musical inspiration from? 

Alex/Dan: We all collaborate together on all the songs in one area or another – we all come in with different ideas and choose one we all like and run with it. Ultimately each member has equal share in the final music we decide on, which makes the creative process both challenging and very rewarding, as we ultimately end up with a song we are very proud of.

Me: Very nice, and it’s great that everyone has their input. I’m impressed that you guys work together so well. I read that you were formerly known as “Total Runout” and re-invented your band while renaming it “Hideout Legacy“.  I’m sad to hear about the Hideout (and so many other venues) that closed down because of the pandemic. Can you share your journey including how you chose your current name? 

Alex/Dan: We felt that Total Runout was a name we had outgrown and as a result of the pandemic we had grown a lot personally and as a band so we felt a change was appropriate.  The name felt right as we had played at the Hideout multiple times – having it become our home away from home and really a place for us to express our rock attitude. Also, the pairing with the word legacy gave it some extra meaning, reminds us of great legacy loves and the emotions we love writing about. 

Me: It’s definitely an original name, and was a bit hard for me to remember initially, but I get it. Your website shows that you’re ready to launch “5 singles, 4 remixes, videos and an EP”. That’s pretty exciting! Can you give a hint as to what we can expect in terms of theme, style, vibe, etc.? 

Alex/Dan: The style is keeping in the same modern/alternative vein with a few variations – the songs came together with a feel but didn’t have a specific theme in mind. The EP has a variety of flavours.

Me: Looking forward to new music. On a separate note, I love that you guys are fans of Stuck on Planet Earth too. Here’s a “get to know you” question that I ask everyone I interview: Who are your top 3 favourite musicians? 

Alex:  Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Muse (package deal) – that’s how I squeeze in 5 to 3. I feel like I’m missing so many here – I have infinite respect for so many musicians.

Dan: Josh Homme (QOTSA), Mike Kerr (Royal Blood), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).

Me: I haven’t heard of most of them, but will definitely check them out. Life has so many demands and stresses. I’m a bit of a stress-eater, but I try to manage my stress by blasting my music, exercising and surrounding myself with nature. Fill in the blank. “When I’m feeling stressed, I… ______.” 

Alex: Definitely playing and listening to music, working out, and burying myself in stuff to do. 

Dan: I workout, go for a drive, watch my favourite concerts on YouTube.  Music in the car when I’m driving home from work is great and actually tends to remove all my stress by the time I get home.

Me: Music is definitely a stress reliever. When I blast my music – it becomes part of me and I think of nothing else – much like meditation. Alex, you’re the second twin that I’ve “met” recently. I’m working on an interview with musician, Jacqueline Loor and she’s a twin too.  What’s it like being in a band with your brother and your best friend?  And just for fun, here’s a similar question that I asked Jacqueline – what’s the funniest swap that you’ve ever done? 

Alex: It’s wicked, the chemistry and the foundation we have is something that you can’t find – we have a connection from doing so many things in life together. The funniest swap we’ve done…I have to admit we’ve never tried to confuse people because so many people can’t tell us apart in the first place, we’re just relieved when they actually can. I keep on getting compliments for my lead singing while only playing the drums, which I find pretty funny.

Me: LOL, I can’t imagine being a twin! Amazing the chemistry you have – that’s something rare. What kind of challenges did you guys deal with getting into the music industry? And what suggestions do you have for others who are considering a career as a musician? 

Alex: Definitely make sure you are in it for the lifestyle, love both the process and the work, and have an end goal. Having a solid cash flow to propel an amazing team is also essential because it takes money to get that initial push.

Dan: The biggest challenge is standing out and getting your music heard.  There are many bands and songs out there which people may associate with another artist so being able to come off as truly creative and musically unique amongst many other great artists is the main challenge.  I would recommend people establish what their goals are for being a musician because there are a lot of ways to approach a career but ultimately, if it is your dream to become a musician the end goal needs to be clear.

Me: Thanks for the great insight and tips. It’s been great chatting with you guys and getting to know you. I look forward to your new tracks and live concerts. You’ll definitely see me grooving in the crowd! Everyone, show some love to this fantastic band. ATTENTION TORONTONIANS – Hideout Legacy is our very own local band. Don’t forget to buy tickets to their concerts when things open up again. 

Is there anything else that you guys wish to share? 

Alex: Music has been such a blessing for me and a comfort during all the times of my life. Listening to a live band together is one of the most magical things and I’ll appreciate it that much more once COVID is over! 

Dan: Just want everyone to support live music, venues which were affected as a result of COVID and support the ongoing vaccination effort so we can all return to normal life as soon as possible.

—End—

Here are a couple of their awesome videos:

Interview with Canadian musician King Khan

canadian music

Photo credits: King Khan

***Warning: this interview contains mature content and coarse language***

Contact / His Music / His Activism

www.kingkhanmusic.com
https://khannibalism.bandcamp.com/
https://www.globalsolidarityforever.com/
Instagram: @khannibalism

By Monica Ng

Planting the seeds of change

How I came across King Khan is an interesting story.

It all started when Facebook (FB) made some changes to their ‘People You May Know’ section.  Now it’s much easier to find people that you know because FB finds them for you and lists them. I saw my high school classmate’s brother Jason (who I haven’t seen since high school) on the list. I simply clicked on “Add Friend” and got a message back from him.  We chatted a bit to catch up about life, music and Jason’s other talents and I mentioned my interviews with Canadian musicians on my blog. Jason mentioned that one of my schoolmates, Arish, is a professional musician named “King Khan”. 

In school, I only knew Arish by name and face, but didn’t get a chance to know him because he was never in my classes. Not long after my chat with Jason, I received a FB message from Arish about his music and asking for an interview to help promote the activism/global movements that he is engaged in.

I admit that I was skeptical at first because “activism” often has a negative connotation. But the more information that Arish sent me about his music, art and work, the more I realized that I have been living a sheltered life with my head stuck in the sand.  I experienced some racism while growing up as an Asian in Canada, but other than that I have been pretty lucky.

The truth is – our world is not at peace. We can choose to ignore what’s happening just because we may be able to, but there are real systemic problems in our world that create inequality, discrimination and repression, as well as oppression of different races and groups of people. In my own sheltered life, I have been advocating for veganism (animal rights) for the past eighteen months or so, but chatting with Arish reminds me that more needs to be done for humanity.  In my personal quest, I find it frustrating that people don’t want to make change simply because it’s inconvenient for them. On one hand, they don’t feel right killing animals but then they are happy to eat the slab of steak on their plate, and throw a screaming lobster into a pot of boiling water.

Countless tragic events have taken place over the years. Most recently was the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. This tragedy brought more awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement working endlessly towards the end of oppression and violence against Blacks.  Click here to read more about the Black Power movement.

Food for thought: just think of all the other tragedies that don’t make it to the news.

The question is: how can we make the world a better place?  Arish told me that Malik Rahim is his mentor. From a video that Arish suggested I watch, Malik says that change must begin with compassion. It sounds so simple. The problem is that the root of evil is very deep.  It’s time to plant more seeds of change.

I’m lucky to have a chance to connect with an old schoolmate and interview Arish – such a devoted and inspirational person.

About King Khan

Also known as Arish A. Khan. Indian-Canadian born in Montreal.  King Khan is a singer, songwriter, producer, artist and activist. King Khan’s genres of music include garage rock, garage punk, psychedelic rock, rhythm and blues and jazz. In addition to his music, King Khan produces comical videos with a message for children.  To-date King Khan scored three films: Schwarz Schafe by Oliver Rihs, Back to Nothing by Miron Zownir and The Invaders a documentary by Prichard Smith. King Khan is currently working on a short film titled Rat-Tribution Now with his daughter Saba Lou Khan. The film will be released on August 27, 2020 at Pop Kultur – a German music festival.

With the assistance of Irish artist, Michael Eaton (visual artist for Game of Thrones), King Khan created a major arcana deck of Black Power Tarot cards.  The symbolic message is to allow everyone a chance to follow their path of illumination using 26 amazing African Americans canonized into the tarot. The Black Power Tarot cards were displayed at many international art exhibits. The exhibit consists of a large set of Black Power Tarot Cards on the walls. Prominent black people are depicted on the cards. Richard Pryor is the Fool.  King Khan even did some tarot readings to help raise money for the Just Insulin Initiative he started teaming up with Malik Rahim. King Khan has raised over five thousand dollars in the past month!

King Khan is also involved in several social movements/organizations, he is the CEO and co-founder of Global Solidarity Forever which has several initiatives including the “Just Insulin Initiative”, to bring Insulin to the very large diabetic community in New Orleans. He is also fighting to get the Malik Rahim House registered as a site of consciousness, since for the past 40 years it has been the depository of the Black Panthers in the 70s and in 2005 it was the birthplace of Common Ground Relief which helped over 80,000 people after Hurricane Katrina devastated NOLA. King Khan has also worked with Viva Con Agua. He began the “Ambassador of Water” program which celebrates the lives of civil rights leaders who have devoted and often sacrificed their lives for bettering the world. According to King Khan, “By receiving an “Ambassador of Water” award, we ask that they help fight for water protection”.

Photo credit: Miron Zownir

Interview

Me: Arish, after Jason wrote about your music, I checked out some of King Khan and the Shrines’ music videos and I’m not going to pretend that I understand the music. When I asked you to explain your music, you told me that you play real rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps I’m not accustomed to listening to that genre of music. You introduced your latest jazz album to me as well. I have a really hard time to “categorize” your music, but I guess that’s the point – there is no specific genre nor any need to categorize. What influenced your wide range of musical styles? 

Arish:  I had a very f*cked up father, he was very abusive to me and my mother mostly, he even shot her down a flight of stairs when I was in her womb…so I was even attacked before I was born. My father got addicted to cocaine when I was about 14 or 15. He was a raving psychopath, and I watched his downfall. Since then I always looked for new fathers to guide me. I was adopted as a son by some really important people. The Mighty Hannibal was a great mentor to me and a granddad to my kids. Hannibal took Molotov cocktail lessons from Stokely Carmichael, he was the father of Message Music. Hannibal wrote Hymn No. 5 which was an anti-Vietnam gospel song that got him blacklisted from the charts by the American government.  I learned a lot from Hannibal. One of my favourite memories of him was his response to when the doctors warned him that if he doesn’t take his glaucoma meds he would go blind. Hannibal told the doctors, “Ahhh I’ve seen enough!” Hannibal wrote gospels songs about how being blind was better than seeing because you couldn’t judge someone on their physical appearance.

Another father figure I had was Melvin Van Peebles, pioneer of Black Cinema, he called me his “Indian Son”. He was one of the most important black film makers, who became the first black superhero/anti-hero “Sweetback” from “Sweet Sweetback’s Bad Assss Songssss” a film that created the genre of Blaxploitation. Melvin was the granddaddy of black power – he was the one the panthers called when they needed help. So Melvin really loved the film I made the soundtrack for called “The Invaders”. He even called it “A work of Genius”…coming from him that meant a lot. I got to know Melvin very well and we gabbed on the phone a lot. He loved my movie ideas and gave me wonderful criticisms. We also laughed a lot. Sadly Melvin’s dementia has really gotten very serious, but he has a huge place in my heart and soul.

The Sun Ra Arkestra had a lot of influence on me in the past 20 years, and I have actually joined the band several times, reciting a poem I wrote called “We The People of The Myths”. The music was co-written by Harper Simon (Paul Simon’s son) and Marshall Allen, the grand poobah of the free jazz movement. Sun Ra taught me to listen to the music that thrives inside of me, and ever since I started doing that I followed a path of illumination, which always guided me in everything.

Alejandro Jodorowsky, surrealist film maker, is also a huge mentor and father figure for me, his films The Holy Mountain and El Topo changed my life. He accepted me as a student about 12 years ago, and I learned how to read tarot cards from him, a very handy tool when I need it…. Jodo guided me in dreams as much as he did in reality. I am honoured to be considered one of his spiritual warriors. If you don’t know and love this man then there maybe no hope left for you and the bucket of sand you hide your head in, haha.

Me: No hope. That’s rough but eye-opening. I am so curious – how did you end up in Berlin, Germany?

Arish: I was searching for the most hardcore techno vomitorium and found out that Berlin has an underground scene that defecates all over itself. Just kidding…I moved here cuz it is the freest place in the world, and the underground scene is insane if you are handed the keys to the city like I have been. Miron Zownir was the grand master of the freaks who gave me the keys to the city’s underground. He is like a black metal Andy Warhol – his photography is dark and twisted and he loved my music and antics, so we have this unending deal that I can use any of his photos for my projects as long as I keep making music for his films. I love deals like that, because they show how much trust exists between two artists who come from very different places. Miron Zownir’s film Back To Nothing (which I scored and made the Soundtrack for) was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s second to last “No Reservations” episode about Berlin, before he took his own life.  

Me: I find it interesting because you mentioned that the goal of your music is to “opiate people and allow them to get into a frenzy and forget their pain” – that’s quite a goal. What kind of feedback have you received about your music?

Arish: My kids grew up on my music, and now they make their own ferocious music, the circle remains unbroken. I have been taking psychedelics all my life, and they provide me with guidance and understanding. I am also bipolar and take heavy meds as well. I have been opiating my mind since I was in high school, and I also watched my father turn into a cocaine addict. He used to mainline it, so he was in really deep, I remember my mom found a blackened spoon in our house and didn’t know what it was, and that was when I realized my dad was a bad junkie. In my recreational drug use I have never been a junkie. I know my limits and know how to use drugs for enlightenment and not as a dependence. I am however completely addicted to seroquil, my bipolar meds, I can’t sleep without them. My brain is always racing like a f*cking Kentucky derby winning horse. I need to shut it off sometimes and have funny ways of doing that. My new mantra is “Shut The F*ck Up for Peace and Tranquility”.

Me: I can’t imagine what you have gone through but appreciate your candidness. During one of our chats, you described yourself as “Weird” in high school. I think everyone had issues in high school. Personally I am very thankful that high school is long over. I only made it through because of my good friends. Why did you describe yourself as “weird” in high school?

Arish: Cuz I loved William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch was the first book that truly f*cked my brain, and left its protein ooze for me to taste for the rest of my life. I loved weed in high school, and punk rock… the girls I fell in love with had no interest at dating a “weirdo” like me. I found solace in reading beatnik stuff and focusing more on taking drugs and having fun, than getting my heart broken repeatedly.

Me: It sounds like you had a very tough time growing up but managed to overcome a lot of your issues in your life. Never mind co-ordinating and managing your career – you were able to keep your twenty-year marriage going, raise two daughters and even adopt a daughter.  If you ask me, that’s quite a feat in itself.

In your own words, you mentioned that you managed to raise “two amazing daughters who also play music…not bad for having a transvestite dad.” Being a transvestite must be difficult as society usually frowns upon anything that it doesn’t understand. Was it hard for you to disclose your personal issues about your abuse, being a transvestite and bipolarism to your wife and daughters, and how did they react?

Arish: I wouldn’t call me an official transvestite, I dress up for my work, in show biz…not cuz I have to get off. I have been open about all the hurdles I had to by-pass to find my place in the totem pole. My kids and I have tons of fun, we share the same passion for music and cooking and they are the toughest girls on the block. My wife is my greatest critic, and she can tame the beast that I can become. She is tough as nails but also the most compassionate woman I have ever met – she even cried in Toy Story 2, which I thought was quite embarrassing…

Me: While chatting, you discussed your bipolarism and heavy medication.  There are so many geniuses that are affected with bipolarism such as one of my favourite musicians, Matthew Good. When were you diagnosed with bipolarism? Do you ever worry that the medication will suppress your creativity?

Arish: I have way more creativity for three lifetimes. My drugs help me balance a million ideas and focus on the important ones, that’s why working as an activist came rather easily to me, it’s just finding the solution of the problem you wanna fix BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. I have an army of fans and friends who would do anything to help me out, so now that I am focusing on helping Malik Rahim, we literally have a rock ‘n’ roll army of volunteers out there to get real revolutionary change happening.

Me: How did you first discover your passion for music and production? And what is the first instrument that you learned?

Arish: Guitar, then bass…I love bass. I actually stole my little brother Faiz’s bass to join the Spaceshits, my first punk band. My brother became a very amazing social justice warrior / lung specialist. He works a lot with the Inuit. He just published an article in the British Medical Journal. His research was about how COVID testing is totally f*cked up. My sister is also a justice warrior, she is a lawyer and fights for water rights for indigenous people amongst other things, and she has worked for the UN. I think experiencing the horrors of having a psycho dad, brought us all very close and also made us fierce party machines as well as justice warriors.

Me: I am very inspired by the variety of your work as well as your involvement in social movements and organizations. What keeps you inspired and going?

Arish: I love life, and I have always been inspired by Black Power, ever since reading Malcolm X’s autobiography. As a kid I loved rock ‘n’ roll and rap, so becoming a punk rocker was very natural to me. Having a mentor like Malik, I speak to him everyday, his wisdom teaches me on how to effectively make social change happen. I feel like when you sign on to upholding justice there comes this wave of a karmic high, like a spiritual speedball, getting you higher than ever before and no hangover or drug dependency.

I have recently become friends with Sammy Butcher, the lead guitarist of one of my favourite bands called “The Warumpi band”. They released an album in 1987 called “Big Names No Blankets” and I listen to this album almost everyday, it fuels me to work for a better world.

Me: How can others support the social movements that you are involved in?
https://www.globalsolidarity.foundation/
https://www.justinsulininitiative.org/
https://khannibalism.bandcamp.com/
https://khannibalism.bandcamp.com/merch
https://www.globalsolidarityforever.com/

Arish: Well for starters – buy the stuff we are selling, tarot cards, masks, t-shirts, records… all sorts of fun art stuff. If you support our artistic endeavors then you are helping support all our initiatives that we are hitting simultaneously.

Me: Below is a video about the Just Insulin Initiative.

Me: When I asked you what kind of mark you wanted to make with your music, you told me that you already made your mark. I am especially impressed with your Black Power Tarot Cards.  The collection has been featured at many international art exhibits. Can you explain what inspired you to create the Tarot cards and discuss them more?

Arish: The Black Power Tarot shows us the path of illumination which begins with the fool, and every number forward is the fool’s journey which ends with a total understanding of the world. The first step is the fool learning the tools to control his destiny, the fool then turns into a magician, then the next step after that is compassion – trying to understand the pain of others, making it your own and find a way out. The Tarot is basically a visual and spiritual language. When you understand what each card means, you can show others the path of illumination. Alejandro Jodorowsky was the one who inspired me the most, his surrealism is profound, and when I saw myself in that same path he was a very good mentor for me, and luckily his son Adan was the one who brought us together. Jodo also refers to the dance of reality, which I realized I had been doing since I was a kid.

Me: You sent me a photo of Joe Coleman’s painting. It’s an incredible painting of you holding a Tarot card.  You mentioned the painting is worth $90,000 USD. Can you explain the significance of this painting and why it cost so much?

Arish:  Well first of all you are talking about a man who has made his own genre of art called “Colemanism”. Joe Coleman has single handedly rocked the art world, held it hostage and exploded himself. His art exposes the raw guts of society and shows us the depth of evil that lurks in humanity. He was a teenage hero of mine because he would bite the heads off of mice and pull a gun on his gallerist. His art is like voodoo or any type of high magic, so the fact that I was able to crawl inside Joe’s mind and heart, makes me no longer a human. I am just simply a walking and talking Joe Coleman painting.

Me: I understand that you and your daughter Saba Lou are working on a very important short film called Rat-Tribution Now. The film will be released at Pop-Kultur – a German music/cultural festival taking place online between August 26-28, 2020. The film is dedicated to the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada that the police don’t care about. By extension, it really means that nobody cares about them. What is the message that your film conveys and why is it that the film is being released in Germany at this time and not in Canada?

Arish: The piece was commissioned by the Pop-Kultur festival. I had written a fictional story about the Musahars from Bihar, India. They were known as the “rat eaters” of India – they are even below the untouchable cast in India. The story is about the violation of a young girl by a group of men and her supernatural revenge. I think this story can apply to all indigenous people who continue to be hunted by fascist police in probably every country, especially Australia. I’ve seen terrible racism in Melbourne after an aboriginal man wanted the photo of his grandfather to be removed from the “Aboriginal” exhibit, because they feel that photography is evil and captures souls. So why would a museum put a bunch of photos of aboriginals captured and given haircuts as the first thing in the exhibit? Well, its cuz these museums are run by white power with no respect given to the Black Fellas. That is what they call themselves down under – black fellas.

You can purchase the soundtrack for Rat-Tribution by clicking here: Rat-Tribution Now.

Photo credit: Saba Lou Khan

Me: Arish, thank you for giving us a glimpse into your extremely interesting and creative life. You have used your status as a musician to bring up many important social issues that everyone needs to address collectively right now. Not only that, you are actively involved in helping the causes.

You have proved that adversity can make people stronger. It’s been great catching up. I hope this interview can help to spread the seeds of change. Before wrapping up this interview, is there anything else that you wish to share?

Arish: Yes… my new mantras are “WE NOT I” taken from my fave Malcolm X quote: “When the “I” is replaced by “We” then even “illness” becomes “wellness”. This is what I am all about, “Illness into Wellness” and of course having the most fun as possible…so pass me the DMT and let’s party with the alien overlords.

—End—

follow me on instagram account name

Interview with Canadian musician: Jeff Fero of jFEROcious

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Jeff Fero/jFEROcious

Contact
Website: www.jferocious.com
Instagram: @_jferocious_ 

By Monica Ng

Mystery Man

I discovered musician Jeff Fero of jFEROcious through Instagram.  What caught my attention was Jeff’s unique voice, song rhythm and videos.  That’s not all – my curiosity was piqued because there seems to be a lot going on with jFEROcious’ feed – not just “straightforward” music video clips. In fact, I didn’t realize he was a musician until one of his most recent video clip posts. The detective in me figured that he is Canadian through his use of hashtags lol. Being Canadian myself, I am really inspired by Canadian musicians and support them whole-heartedly. On top of that, I am a very curious person and wanted to learn more about this mystery man (who has no bio information on his website), so I reached out for an interview.  And here we are.

EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE LISTEN

You heard it here first! I am extremely excited that Jeff offered a pre-release listen of his new tune “Our Currrency” for this interview. Click here to take a listen. Our Currency has a really great vibe. Keep your ears out for more new music from jFEROcious…

About

jFEROcious is based in Kootenay, British Columbia.  Jeff is not only a super-talented songwriter, singer and guitar player, but has skills in web/graphic design as well as video/sound editing. According to Jeff, his “broad skill set in digital media, which was [his] main side hustle in the early years, [allowed him to] keep touring, recording, and being a musical fool, ha.”  Jeff finished his university degree in marketing at The University of Lethbridge – getting a 4.0 GPA. One smart dude. He “pursued a degree in marketing after about a decade in music, after realizing that 80% of what [he] was doing with touring, promoting, and labels was marketing… 20% of it was music.” Jeff played for many punk rock bands including Live on Brighton, but decided to experiment with a different musical project which involves collaboration with other artists.

jFEROcious’ songs include: Uke, Sound Advice, Never Wait, Won’t be late, 3 days from May, and my personal favourites Hysteria Amplified, First World Tragedy, Close the Distance and Days Gone.

Jeff Fero of jFerocious
Photo credit: Jeff Fero/jFEROcious

Interview

Me: I’m always looking for new music. I remember commenting on your post when I saw your Hysteria Amplified video clip – it’s such a great song. I can’t quite grasp how that song makes me feel, but something like being caught in time in a dark spot – but in a good and interesting way. All of your songs are really solid and catchy.

Jeff, I must say that doing research for this interview was like gathering a bunch of random pieces with rough edges and trying to piece them together into a puzzle.  With my sociology, interior design and legal background, I generally like to organize my thoughts and ideas in a way that I can understand them.   If I can articulate this properly, watching your video for “Uke” feels taboo – like watching something that I’m not supposed to watch.  In the video you are looking intensely directly into the camera so watching you shave your beard seems like something forbidden.  Yet, I am oddly compelled to watch.  I suppose it is human nature to be curious! BTW – you look great without a beard 😊

You mentioned that you are experimenting with a “project” and doing some work with others to get away from your previous punk rock style of music.  If you had to “define” your new music style, how would you do so? And what are your thoughts on how your project is progressing?

Jeff: Thanks for all the kind words – they are greatly appreciated! I was really motivated to make “Hysteria Amplified”, because for me, the point of songwriting is to capture a moment in time. At times, I fall into the trap of writing, planning, rewriting, producing, and refining music – which takes time, and can end up removing the moment from the song. This one was done entirely at home during quarantine, with no production, some noticeable flaws, mixed and mastered at home – it’s just a real song from a real moment in time. I don’t often do that any more, and it felt great to make happen. I am really happy when I can look back on a song and it takes me back to an identifiable moment, and I feel this will be one of those songs. Defining the style for me is hard. I’ve been writing a ton of different songs lately – some fall into the darker indie / pop world, some are full on rock tunes, and songs like “Uke” fall somewhere in between. The purpose of jFEROcious for me, is to get away from the music I’ve become really comfortable making, and to force out something new and hopefully somewhat strange. When I first started making songs, they were certainly odd (probably a little too odd), but when I realized that people preferred hearing the refined pop rock stuff we would sometimes make, I fell into that cycle of trying to make songs that sounded a certain way. Songs with formulas and rules.  Ultimately, jFEROcious is an outlet to ditch that and make original music. I’m stoked to be getting the positive feedback I have been getting so far, but I’m in a good enough place right now that I have zero concern on making songs sound a certain way, and I am not concerned about appealing to a certain crowd. The marketer in me hates this terrible approach… but songwriting is the passion here. Not a dedication to any one sound or genre.

In terms of how the project is progressing, the relative success of the song “Uke” was a major push in the right direction. The other three songs on the initial release (Songs That Were New) were not a far stretch from my former alt rock self. But “Uke” was the first real effort to create a song without a guitar – and unexpectedly, it got more positive feedback than anything I’ve written. I even signed music over to a major record label in 2012, but there was something about “Uke” that people were liking in a way I had not experienced before. That made me a lot more comfortable in my pursuit of doing something different. In the summer of 2019, I started another four songs, and did so with zero guitar (at least in the writing stage). Making the conscious decision to do this resulted in something that feels truly unique to me. Reverse ukulele riffs, vocal basslines, pen clicks, and a pile of other experimental things found their way on to these songs. I don’t even care to divulge the full scope of weirdness. I am not doing it to come across as weird, but sometimes a pen click is a better snare sound than a snare… and you never know until you try. And you’ll never try if you’re just making music that “needs” to fit a certain mould. 

Me: So, in my opinion, you were successful in conveying your message through your song Hysteria Amplified – as I mentioned, when I listen to it I feel like I am caught in time – oddly comfortable in a dark spot.

The first part of your band name is obvious, but how did you decide on the second part of the name, jFEROcious?

Jeff:  I have long wanted to establish a “solo” musical identity. Certain bands come and go, and then songwriters like me are back at square on trying to form a band and build a new following etc. jFEROcious is me wanting to put music out as individual… but as an individual not brave enough to use his legal name ha. Largely, the name can be attributed to auto correct. Fero is my last name, and whenever you type it into a phone, the phone really wants you to type the word Ferocious. And j for Jeff. Bam jFEROcious. 

Me: That’s a good point about bands coming and going and needing to start from scratch again if they break up. I am happy that you are brave enough to venture out on your own. The music you have created is really original and fresh.

At what age did you pick up your first guitar? And at what point did you decide to pursue music?

Jeff: I honestly didn’t touch a guitar until I was 18. My friend forced me to play bass so he could have a band, and the rest is history. At 20, I dropped out of University to pursue music. At 23, I moved to Kelowna to go to a sound school. Learning music theory and how to properly record were major goals of mine, and helped me out tons. Being surrounded by various musicians was a huge help… almost all of which were far better and more experienced than I. It was non-stop music for a long time. A few bands, touring, labels… but I honestly don’t think I was very good until…. 27ish. It took me about 10 years to feel comfortable and confident in my abilities.  

Me: Do you have any other hidden talents?

Jeff: None that I can express publicly no.  

Me: You are so hilarious! Maybe you’ll disclose them in a subsequent interview?

I ask this of every musician/band I interview because I think it would be helpful for budding musicians to know –any tips or advice for anyone considering becoming a musician or being in a band?

Jeff:  Don’t make music for other people. There will always be bands and labels trying to build / replicate a certain sound. Making something that actually represents your personal creativity is way more rewarding, and holds greater potential to stand out. Don’t be Dbag. Objective talent only goes so far. If you want to book shows or festivals beyond your Instagram feed, you need other bands, artists, and venue owners to have your back. Fans too. Assuming of course that you already know how to write good music, and know where/how to deliver it – being a good person matters. Thank someone who compliments you. Watch the other bands set. Be gracious for every chance live opportunity you get. Learn covers you would never otherwise learn – and play them the way the songwriter did. Not for your shows, but to learn. For years I did pop punk covers of every hit song I liked. It was easy. When I actually sat down and learned how to play something the way the original writer did, it was hard, but vastly expanded my ability to write. Learn marketing. If you’re trying to make ground in your music… spend time marketing – as opposed to re-writing and changing songs so they fit some other mould. Don’t pay for streams, don’t pay for PR if you’re in a indie band or artist – but do learn basic marketing skills. YouTube is a great place to learn. Legit representation is hard to find, learn how to do it yourself. 

Me: While it may seem unoriginal for a band or musician to play covers, it makes sense the way you put it. I heard Al Capo of Stuck on Planet Earth say the same thing on a live stream. Jeff, you mentioned that you played with the band Live on Brighton for 5 years and performed many live shows with other bands.  Do you have plans to play live as jFEROcious?

Jeff:  Live on Brighton was definitely the epitome of my touring life. We covered Canada coast to coast and some parts of America too. That shit is hard. My reality right now is songwriting – it is far and away my favorite part of “The Biz”. I ran away from the scene and big cities to live in mountains, and I am happy to never return. There has been a bit of pressure to perform as jFEROcious, but I’ve handily talked my way out of it thus far. And well, COVID… so no immediate plans. My concern on playing live is that I have a bit of a vision for it – and that vision includes visuals and lighting etc. If it happens, it will be work – but we will cross that bridge if we get there.  

Me: What is it like working with a producer for your song Days Gone, who as you mentioned has Taylor Swift as a recording credit?  And do you plan to release an album?

Jeff: Yea, I had reach out with more than an ask on some of these new songs… I had to use a bank account too, haha. I have a studio network in the alt rock world, but it has been hard for me to find people in different genres and with different tastes. So for the song “Days Gone” I hired Matt Tryba – a fellow Canadian, who has album credits galore. Not gonna lie, it was a shock for me. He took that song in a WAY different direction than I had recorded the demo. I had to fight my urge to undo all his work, but in the end, I just trusted his choices and put it out. For the song “Sound Advice” I hired another pro, Cooper Anderson from New York, who has a grammy for his work with “FUN.” I really liked working with him, and that process was more of a collaboration with a lot of back and forth. It was a great experience, something I will likely make happen again. As mentioned, I started four songs last year, with the idea of releasing another EP. However, the way social media and Spotify have changed the game, releasing as singles give you a way better chance of being picked up on playlists and the algorithmic stuff as well. There is something so satisfying about dropping an album or even an EP – but at this stage in the game, singles are a better move for me.  

Me: What aspect do you find the most challenging about your career as a musician and self-managing yourself?

Jeff: Knowing where to direct my energy, and my budget. Spotify has changed the game in a big way. The early era of Facebook, and everyone just ripping music off the internet – circa 2008 – I think was good for indie bands. If you had a good song and worked hard, you had a chance. You knew you were not going to make any money off your music, but you could find fans easier than ever before, and you could learn the right places to play and find the right bands to play with. Shows and touring were a great bet. Now though – I think people prefer headphones to live music. While Spotify still holds potential for indie music discovery, I do think it’s a return to the days of big record labels running the show. Major playlists are controlled, and you are fed whatever Spotify decides. Apple Music and YouTube are very similar. People (and algorithms) like to see big stream numbers. For a while, finding the next new thing was a trend – Not sure that is still a thing. With that said, my career management is probably easier than most, because this time around I’ve made the deliberate decision to focus on songwriting and showcasing. So there is a lot of reliance on social media. The hardest part of this approach for me is getting people to actually listen to the songs. Lots of people see/hear the song in part, and click like or share, but that doesn’t mean they are actually listening – and if they do, it doesn’t mean they will listen more than once. You need to get them to see your track, listen to it, like it in real life (not a social like), then search and save/buy it. Social media interaction is often so superficial that it’s hard to tell who is a fan, or who just wants you to go like their stuff. 

Me: I totally agree with your comments about “social likes”. The world is a totally different place now and you can’t tell who is really interested in your posts or following you just for the hell of it. The most annoying thing for me is getting tagged in advertising. For me, Milka brand has been tagging me – when I am vegan!!! Since a lot can be done online and through social media these days, how has COVID-19 impacted your daily life and music?

Jeff: Well, I was enjoying Mexico when the borders were shutdown… so that was fun. But we all got home, and made it to quarantine. I live in a very quiet area, so COVID has really just been something I see in the news. That said, our local shops are being pummeled, but that’s a conversation for another day. Oddly enough, I had a bunch of music scheduled for release between March and July – so the timing was good as I had time to work on some video/visual pieces. A big part of luring people into that first listen is a good visual. I think everyone being at home helped the song releases get more attention than normal. But (unfortunately) people have been bored and scrolling social media more than ever. So for me… I guess the timing was right. But honestly, watching bars like The Hideout in Toronto close their doors forever – among many others – is concerning. Venue owners labour for the love of it… not the profit. I think the Canadian live music landscape is in trouble. We’ve got a huge country, that is very hard to tour at the best of times. Without those venues in the small cities that most people haven’t been to, there will be a lot less up and comers getting the chance to hone their skill and build a fan base.  

Me: Yes, it is looking like a grim future for some music venues. But hopefully, music supporters will be quick to return to venues after all this is over. To name three – which musicians or bands would you say had the most influence on your music?

Jeff: I grew up on Green Day – and sure, I can brag about listening to their earliest music as an elementary kid, but the American Idiot album is a course in songwriting unto itself. Can’t even say I listen to them much anymore, but influence is there and it’s permanent. AWOLNATION had a huge impact on me. I watched their front man Aaron play in a few bands and grow spectacularly as a songwriter. From grunge punk rock into whatever they are now. I think he’s as legit a songwriter as they come. And the bands ability to take that highly produced music into an incredible live show is impressive.  Fall Out Boy was, perhaps to my detriment, the band I always tried to check my songwriting against in my rock days. I learned a lot of structure and format from the production in their music. But the biggest thing is vocal pattern and singing style. I can’t sing half the stuff their front man Patrick does, but if I’m ever stuck on a vocal melody, I will crank a few Fall Out Boy tunes for inspiration. 

Me: Interesting – I will have to check out AWOLNATION. Never heard of them before.

I finished my entire first draft of my novel manuscript back in April but decided to re-work the entire format. It’s a bit of a frustrating process and I find it hard to focus at times. How do you deal with re-working your music? Have you ever spent a lot of time working on a piece and scrap it at the end?

Jeff: Well that’s super cool. I always though writing a novel would be an incredible feat. Not that I want to do it… but the time and effort, impressive! The first time I noticeably took the time to do that was in “Uke”. I finished the demo, and the bridge was straight up boring. Usually, I would just go into the studio and spice it up with instruments and background sounds, but that can be a total cop-out. So I cut it out in full and made a new one. It is way better, and part of the reason song has been well received. As far as full songs being scrapped – that has definitely happened too. However, I don’t think any of them ever go fully to the graveyard. Instead they live on a hard-drive waiting to be revived one day. At least that’s what I tell myself. 

Me: You posted about SOCAN royalties and asked people to guess how much you have made from royalties, and if someone guessed you would give them the money.  I can relate to your comments about micro-pennies from my own experience with my blog site.  Since I began my blog about a year and a half ago – despite having thousands of views, I have made a whopping $0.57! There’s no retirement with these funds.  Lucky for me, sharing my writing is not my day job.  So, will you now reveal the answer?

Jeff: I coooooulllld reveal the answer, but you know…. “Mystery Man”. Kidding, it was $0.98. I think the most I’ve ever made from SOCAN was about $600 in a year – and that was from full scale touring and some FM radio play. In the streaming world, most royalty payments come right from your music distributer these days, so I’m not actually sure why SOCAN paid me at all. Last year I probably made about $150 off about 16,000 streams/purchases. This year is looking better, but ya… streaming music isn’t the best choice of day job.  

Me: Actually, it’s really funny, because by the time I drafted and posted this interview, I made $0.99 from my site. Jeff, this interview has been a great opportunity to learn more about you, your music and the finicky music industry. Thank you again so much for agreeing to this interview.

Everyone – if you haven’t already, check out jFEROcious’ music. Help Jeff increase his “micro-penny royalties”!  I have been helping while enjoying great tunes. Jeff, any last thoughts that you would like to share with your existing fans and new ones?

Jeff:  Beyond “THANK YOU” I should probably wrap this up! Though – I really would like to know what other artists or bands I sound like. It is a question I often get and don’t really know how to answer. So if you do listen, drop me a line with what you think!

Thanks for everything Monica! 

—End—

For you guys (apparently like me lol) who enjoy watching guys shave:

Here are a few of my favourite songs:

Interview with Al Capo of Canadian band: Stuck on Planet Earth

canadian music, Interviews


Get in touch with Stuck on Planet Earth

www.stuckonplanetearth.com
Instagram: @stuckonplanetearth
Facebook: Stuck on Planet Earth

!!!ALERT: STUCK ON PLANET EARTH’S DEBUT ALBUM RELEASE DATE IS JUNE 26, 2020!!!

Photo credit: Stuck on Planet Earth

By Monica Ng

Phoenix Theatre

November 22, 2019.  That was the day I was first exposed to Canadian band, Stuck on Planet Earth. Stuck on Planet Earth was Moist’s supporting band. I have been a fan of Moist since I was about 18 years old and I am a huge supporter of Canadian music.  It’s always great to discover new artists and music. I even picked up a free nifty Stuck on Planet Earth logo sticker at the merch table. Recently, I took the sticker on my forest run. Pictures from the photo shoot are pictured above. I thought it would be suitable for this post, as it would appear that the astronaut was indeed stuck on planet earth!

I was just polishing up my interview with Neon Dreams when I caught one of Stuck on Planet Earth’s live streams on Instagram. It was a lot of fun because Adam and Al had the chance to answer all of my questions during the stream. I decided to reach out to Al about participating in my blog interview. I was totally honest with Al and wrote that I was just discovering their band and would need to do some research in order to prepare my interview.  Further, I told him that I am not a professional writer but write for the love of it. So no pressure right? Nah.

About

Stuck on Planet Earth is an alternative rock band based in Toronto.  The band is made up of three members – Al Capo (vocals, songwriter and bass), Adam Bianchi (vocals and guitar) and Andrew Testa on drums.  The “3As” band! The band has been playing together since 2007.

Anthem Records recently signed up them up for a record deal.  The record label represents bands like Rush and Big Wreck. Stuck on Planet Earth will be releasing their first album titled, Beautiful Nowhere on June 26, 2020. Prior to this album, they mostly released singles. Their repertoire of songs includes: Higher than the Drugs, Rising, Permanent, I Want it Now, Just to Have You, Gone, Another, Lights So Low, Stay Away, Alive and so many more…

Stuck on Planet Earth
Photo credit: Stuck on Planet Earth

Interview

Me: Al, you are a singer, songwriter and bass player. I find this very impressive – as I cannot sing, write songs, or play any instruments. I am so honoured to have a chance to interview you.  From what I gather so far, you are super-charismatic and a “straight-to-the-point” kind of person.  Adam and Andrew – you guys are very talented as well! You guys are all so well-spoken – I am enjoying your live streams/chats. Al, I appreciate and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in my interview.

What I remember most about your band from the concert was your enthusiasm.  You guys were genuinely excited to be on stage and there was definitely a positive vibe. The one bad thing was the quality of the sound at Phoenix Theatre.  A friend warned me about the issue.  The vibration of the music made it difficult to hear any lyrics and the guitar and drum sounds were a bit muddled for both yours and Moist’s performance.  I basically had to stand near the back to have better sound. That might be the reason that I wasn’t completely hooked on your music already.

Al, thanks for directing me to a Podcast your band did with Michael McDonnell (@allaboutthesong – Episode #68). You told Michael that at the start of your band’s musical career, people were telling you that you sung/played out of tune. But you guys practiced and persisted. Music is obviously a passion for you guys and you have been playing since high school.  Because becoming a musician is not a traditional path, I ask you the following question – what was the “defining” moment when you knew that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician and did anyone encourage or try to discourage you?

Al: I’m not so sure there was a defining moment. I think it was just the passion and desire to create, write songs, and perform live… once I really delved into it, I knew that no matter what, I always wanted music to play a big part in my life. Like in anything, once our band started to make a name for itself- it was like “oh okay, maybe we can actually do this”. Of course along the way there have been people who have not favoured my career path, but to be honest, I’m not the type of person who really ever cared what others thought of me. I truly believe in life you’re supposed to carve out your own path. 

Me: I love your don’t care attitude and totally agree about finding ones own path in life. Any advice for those considering pursuing a career as a musician?

Al:  I usually don’t like to give advice, because there isn’t a rule book that tells you how to pursue a career in music. However, I think one has to be willing to get knocked down, and have really thick skin. I also think staying true to your authentic self is very important. If you can remain true to who you are, while creating your art – that to me, is more important than any accolades. 

Me: I have to ask because I am curious and cannot find the information anywhere – how did you guys decide on your band name? To be honest, when I first heard your band’s name, it took me a long time to remember it – I just knew it was something about planet Earth. But, when I think about your name now, I am reminded that so much happens in our lives and this planet called Earth, so to be “stuck” here may be a bad thing?!

Al: We wanted our band name to be a statement. A name that could make someone feel something, whether that’s a curious feeling, or an understanding. Also, given the chaotic ridden times we’re currently living in – it seems our band name because it’s more relevant as each day passes. 

Me:  Yes, I remember you mentioned in one of your live streams that the astronaut in your Higher Than The Drugs video was roaming around in a deserted place – which is similar to our empty streets post-COVID-19. The pandemic has definitely taken a toll on the world.  You were probably performing a lot before then. Shortly after the Moist concert, I saw that you guys were playing at The Drake. I wanted to catch your SOLD-OUT show but didn’t get a chance. What is a typical COVID-day for you? How has COVID-19 impacted your life?

Al: Before the pandemic we were either in the studio recording, or touring and playing shows. Although all of our summer touring plans have been cancelled, the positive out of the situation is that it’s really allowed us to focus on our social media presence, and given us the opportunity to connect with our supporters and fans. 

Me: Just to get to know you a bit better – aside from music, what are some other hobbies/interests?

Al: I like to make art @kid_capo, [Instagram account], I love basketball, hiking, and love hanging out with my family and close friends. 

Me: That’s amazing! You recently mentioned your artistic talents in a live stream. I can’t say that I’m surprised that you have more talents. I will definitely check out your art. Generally speaking, what drives you and keeps you going both in life and your music career?

Al: To me, I’ve always been driven by the notion that we can’t take anything with us when we leave this place. Making music and art is my imprint on the world, and I love that sentiment – as morbid or beautiful as that is, depending on how you choose to look at it. 

Me: As I am getting older, I too have come to the same realization -that we can’t leave earth with any physical possessions, so I am all about life experiences versus material items. I would much rather go hiking or kayaking and surround myself with nature than drive around in a fancy car. How do you manage your stress day-to-day and when touring?

Al: Haha, I’m not that great at stress management. I’m a bit of a control freak with a lot of OCD tendencies. Luckily, Stuck has a great team around us who help us manage all the stresses that come along with the lifestyle. 

Me: I believe that what music people listen to can provide a lot of insight into who they are, so I ask this question of everyone. I know that I asked you guys this during your live stream, but I have to admit that I was only half-listening because I was working at the same time –oops sorry! Who are your top 3 favourite musicians/bands?

Al: I don’t think I could ever narrow it down to just 3 – but I can tell you some of my big musical inspirations: The Police, Cage The Elephant, Nirvana, Jimmy Eat World, Killing Joke, The Raconteurs, the Gypsy Kings … the list could go on. 

Me: I haven’t heard of one-third of those musicians and will definitely check out some of their music. I’m sure the life of a musician is exciting.  What is the craziest thing a fan ever did for you?

Al: I don’t know about crazy – but when we first started touring the US, we had a rough go on a few dates, and a fan decided to put us up in a hotel, where we could get some real rest and recovery time from all the floors we had been sleeping on. So not crazy, but nicest thing. Very grateful to that fan to this day. 

Me: In the Podcast with Michael McDonnell, you talked about your band working together and being on the same page; and being straight when working towards your common goal. Whereas, other bands often break apart possibly due to resentment of one member (ex. one person does all the work).  Did you ever have conflict with Adam and Andrew, where you couldn’t agree on a particular direction for your music? And if so, how did you overcome the obstacle?

Al: We love like brothers, and at times fight like brothers. I think over time, we have just learned our individual roles in this band, so we don’t step on each other too much. We usually overcome conflict by talking very openly and honestly and don’t hold anything back.

Me: That’s great that you can be open with each other and not let anger manifest itself. On that note, you are known for writing and singing about the raw blunt truth of life. Your band plays songs about topics that most people would shy away from – like in your song, Another. It’s actually one of my favourite songs. The lyrics go, “I am thinking about another when I’m with you.”

I studied sociology and psychology in university and mostly explored concepts of human nature.  While it may be normal to think of someone else while being with another, no one vocalizes it.  Correction – no one except you guys! What type of feedback have you received from friends, family, or fans about your lyrics in general? Has anyone told you that you are singing about their life?

Al: A lot of people have told us that our lyrics really resonate with them in many different ways emotionally. That’s why we do this, to connect with people through our music – we’re very grateful for the privilege of being able to communicate through our music. 

Me: From what I gather –  over the years you have been releasing singles for budgetary reasons as well as allowing people to enjoy one song at a time.  You also mentioned that when albums are produced, some songs get lost on an album. How do you feel now that your first album is about to be released? Do you think that some of the songs will ‘get lost’?

Al: I think we’re at a point now where our style and sound is very focused. We know which direction we’re headed sonically, and all we can hope, is that it doesn’t get lost. 

Me: Can you give your fans a hint of what “vibe” your overall album will have?

Al: Beautiful Nowhere is a very dynamic record – it’s all rooted in alternative rock; it’s vibey, dancey, and anthemic. 

Me:  I’m so glad that I stumbled onto your Instagram live stream because I had a chance to re-visit your music. I am hooked now and can’t get enough. Seriously looking forward to listening to the new songs on your album and catching you guys in concert.  I have already pre-ordered your digital album 🙂 I wish you the best of luck with your new album.  Thank you again for agreeing to this interview and your time.

Everyone out there – check out Stuck on Planet Earth’s music. They are Canadian and TOTALLY rockin’!!! Before wrapping up this interview, do you have anything else that you wish to share with your fans?

Al: Our debut album Beautiful Nowhere is our everywhere on June 26th! 

—End—

Here are a few of my favourite songs:

follow me on instagram account name

Interview with Canadian Band: Neon Dreams

canadian music, Interviews

neon dreams logo
PHOTO CREDIT: NEON DREAMS

This post is dedicated to Lauren (IG: @neon_dreams_lover), who I met through Instagram because of our shared love of Neon Dreams.  I don’t know Lauren personally, but I could tell by her posts that her life is profoundly affected by Neon Dreams’ music and her interaction with them. Plus she reminds me of a younger version of myself.

Get in touch with Neon Dreams

www.neondreams.ca
Instagram: @neondreams
Facebook: Neon Dreams

By Monica Ng

Love at first concert

If you have been following my other posts, you would know that I only discovered Neon Dreams in October, 2019, after I saw their name listed as one of Tyler Shaw’s opening acts. When I searched for their music on YouTube the night before the concert, I started dancing the moment the smooth and catchy rhythm of About You played.

Long story short, Neon Dreams played at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. I enjoyed their performance so much that immediately following the concert, I bought their album, Sweet Dreams Till Sunbeams. I was really lucky to have a chance to meet Neon Dreams’ dynamic duo in person at the Meet and Greet following the show. I told Frank and Adrian that they have a new HUGE fan.  I just had to see them again as I was hooked. For the first time ever, I bought tickets to a concert for the opening/supporting act and not the main performer. Sadly, the Strumbellas concert was cancelled due to a health issue of one of their members. Neon Dreams and Frank Kadillac have already inspired a couple of my blog posts (Dreamin’ of Neon Dreams and Pure Happiness) which are posted on my site. If you are curious about the meaning behind their vibrant orange and white logo, you can read about it on Neon Dreams’ Instagram account and Facebook page.

neon dreams
PHOTO CREDIT: NEON DREAMS

About Neon Dreams

Canadian talent alert! Neon Dreams is made up of Frank Kadillac (Vocalist and Ukulele player) and Adrian Morris on drums and guitar. Frank and Adrian are from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Neon Dreams released their album, Sweet Dreams Till Sunbeams in 2019 and was touring in Canada and the United States up to the time the Coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) began its spread across the world. Neon Dreams is currently working on a new album, which will include the three songs they released this year, Turn Back Now, Walk Away and most recently released – Sick of Feeling Useless. Did you know that Neon Dreams was also nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards?! Also, the super-creative guys created their own stop motion video for Sick of Feeling Useless (see YouTube video below the interview).

Interview

Me: Frank, you rock. Adrian, you rock.  I have nothing more to say. Just kidding! I always have more to say. 

Frank, you command the stage with your constant movement and jumping off speakers – and of course, your vocals are incredible. Adrian, I am totally mesmerized by your drumming. You are the most amazing drummer I have ever seen perform.

You guys make it look so easy performing on stage – a true indication of the hard work and dedication that goes into your music and performances. How much time would you estimate that you put into the preparation for your concerts? And how do you handle the stress of touring?

Frank/Adrian:  Since we were kids we’ve dreamed of being on stage, played in so many bands and watched so many YouTube videos of our favourite acts crush it live… I feel like we have been preparing for each show since grade 10 haha. To this day I’m watching Linkin Park at Rock am Ring on YouTube hoping that one day we can do that!

Me: Frank, I read on your Instagram post that you have to do a lot of cardio to maintain your energy on stage.  What else do you do to keep in shape both physically and mentally? 

Frank: Reading self help books to get different perspectives of life usually helps my mental health a lot. Before doing this I was a wreck… I don’t know why “reading books”  was an uncool thing to do when I was growing up. After reading the books I’ve read, I gained this knowledge I can never forget that just adds to my armour.

Me: Frank, I can totally appreciate your comments about reading books. I didn’t go out much as a kid and spent my time with my nose in a book. My love of reading lives on. You can visit a whole other world through a book.

Adrian, I ask you the same question – how do you keep in shape both physically and mentally? Also, I saw from your posts that you are a movie buff. What are your top 3 favourite movies of all time?

Adrian: I find it pretty hard to keep up with working out when we’re on the road (although moving all the gear counts right?!), but when I’m home I make sure to run and hit the gym as much as I can. I try to run 5 km every other day or so. Mentally I try to explore and enjoy everywhere we go as much as possible even if that’s just taking a walk in the town or city we’re in or checking out some locally fave spots. I’m usually the one on the road trying to find all the good food spots. 

Top 3 movies!

  1. Lord of The Rings Trilogy
  2. Entire Star Wars Collection
  3. Tarintino Films

I couldn’t just pick three so I went with collections.

Me: It’s great you work to stay in shape. About food – I totally get you – I love food too! Adrian, your drumming is crazy amazing. I mentioned to you before that I tried to do your drumming move where you effortlessly cross your arms over to hit the cymbals. I admit that I was struggling! Frank mentioned somewhere that when he was initially looking for a drummer you were able to play his songs immediately. When we were chatting at the Meet and Greet, you talked about your talent for playing many instruments.  It’s obvious to me that music is in your blood. How long have you been drumming and playing guitar? And what other instruments do you play?

Adrian:  I’ve been playing drums since I was about 13! I started off on piano before that. I didn’t have a lot of friends that took music as seriously as I did so I had learn as many instruments as I could, so I could record demos on my own without having to rely on anyone else. But then I met Frank! 

Me: Adrian, it’s really interesting that you learned how to play instruments so as not to rely on anyone. You have such a gift. Wish I had musical talent.

I know you guys must be disappointed that your tours are postponed for now because of the pandemic, but it’s amazing that you guys have been going live on Instagram during this time. It’s so kind of you to chat with the world and share your music.  What are your thoughts about how the pandemic has changed the world?

Adrian:  We try to find the positive or upsides to every situation no matter how hard or blindsiding it may be. We’re actually really excited to have this time to work on our new music and live show. It’s like a video game, you can’t make it to the next level without training your skills first.

Me: I am really excited about your new album. What are you thinking about for a theme for your album?

Frank/Adrian: All I can say is that its going to feel like the soundtrack to a coming of age movie from early 2000s!

Me: Can’t wait! I am curious how you guys co-ordinate to work on your album with Frank living in Arizona?

Frank: I don’t live there – just there from time to time between seasons! Me and Adrian are always together.

Me: Awww…you guys are the sweetest! Based on your fans’ posts on Instagram and your own posts, you guys really have a way of connecting with people. You mentioned that people tell you their own personal stories about their lives and how your music may have changed things for them. Frank, you have shared your deepest secrets about your life with the world. Your message is constantly one of staying positive and love. What is the message that you would like to share here?

Frank: I told this once in an interview because I can only express things that are deep with people that seem like they care but I feel like you do. I tried to harm myself and it didn’t really work thankfully, but before that I had an ex share with me a book – she said I was gonna need it someday (she was very spiritual) and of course the book was right there when my darkest night came around. It taught me how to meditate and find my purpose. Over thinkers like me that don’t have a purpose can get lost in a fog of thoughts that lead to one thing “why am I here?” but I found my purpose through meditation. I’m just here to help people find their true selves. I used to try and be person that helps people one on one and fix problems they bring to me but I was bad at that and realized I have the power of music, so I’m just building this sanctuary for all the misfit toys that were lost like me. 

Me:
 Frank, I really appreciate you sharing something so personal with me and your fans. I know you have been through a lot growing up, and I am happy that you have found your “path”. Your story is very inspirational.

Adrian, what is your vision for the music that Neon Dreams produces?

Adrian:  It has to feel good when played live! We have so many genre influences and we incorporate all of them into our music but the one thing about all the artists we love in all these different genres is their music ALWAYS feels massive in a live show and makes the crowd move. 

Me:
 Do you guys have any tips for people who want to pursue a career as a musician?

Frank: 
Listen to people that live the life and have the career you’re working towards.

Me: “I had a dream, you were a red lush maple leaf, losing its identity…I wish there was a little flood, a little flood just to carry you…” (Lyrics from About You).  Those are probably one of my favourite lyrics so far. I had About You on auto-repeat for about two months straight. What I love about your music is the vibe and energy. Your songs are upbeat compared to other sad songs out there. I also like that some of your songs begin with a certain rhythm then changes in the middle to a different style at together – like your song, If Not Now, When?

What is/are your favourite song(s) on your album, Sweet Dreams Till Sunbeams?

Frank: Sweet Dreams till Sunbeams and Life Without Fantasies!

Adrian: If Not Now, When? We Were Kings and About You.

Me: Adrian, those are my favourites as well. Frank, I like Life Without Fantasies too. When I am out hiking, I think how amazing a place is and fantasize about all sorts of things. I think of your lyrics, “what is life without fantasies” and it’s true – life is nothing without some fantasies. Fantasies keep us going. You have no idea how many times I have sung, About You, in the forest – usually when I am alone lol. Thinking about your red lush maple leaf! I just did a whistle version video!

I believe that the type of music someone listens gives a lot of insight into that person. Most of my favourites are Canadian – you guys, Matthew Good, Moist/David Usher, Ria Mae and Craig Stickland. Who are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Frank: 
Funny you say that. That’s what I say all the time. When someone tells me their favourite song I know instantly who they could possibly be. If I was rating it off of which artist I can listen to every single song and love, it would be Linkin Park, Coldplay and The Fray.

Adrian: I feel through music instrumentally first then lyrically usually. I need to feel emotion through what’s going on through the instruments. Blink 182, Sum 41 are the only artists I probably know their entire discography and I return to the most. Bring Me The Horizon’s album AMO ignited a whole new sense of inspiration for me.

Me: On a topic unrelated to music (directly at least): I love tattoos. I currently have three of my own. One of them says, “This Thing Called Life”, which is the title of my personal blog site.  It represents my journey through life and its ups and downs, and my love of writing. I notice that you guys have a lot of interesting tattoos, so here’s a more personal question that I hope you don’t mind answering. What is the symbol of one of your tattoos and the meaning behind it/reason why you got it?

Frank: I have 3 hearts on my hand from the game Zelda. Only one half of one heart is filled in to remind me when I’m at my lowest I’m still alive I still have a heart beat and the game is not finished yet.

Adrian:  I’m Algonquin of Pikwakanagan and I have my tribes emblem tattooed on my arm. My grandmother was forced into residential schooling in the 1950’s and after that some of my family hid our indigenous blood. I can understand why that may be. But it’s important for me to show proudly who I am.

Me: Very cool Adrian. Great story behind your tattoo. Your arm tattoos are beautiful. Frank, after you returned this interview to me, I wrote back to you about how I got chills reading about the symbolism behind your hearts. I can relate to how you feel when you are down to just one ‘life’ in video games – same thing for real life.

It’s been great learning more about both of you. I have been wanting to chat with you guys for a while. When you agreed to do this interview, I had to sit and think long and hard about the questions that I wanted to ask you. There’s just something magical about you guys and trying to capture the essence is not an easy feat.  Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.  It means so much to me and probably your fans out there.  I am really looking forward to hearing new music from you guys and seeing you in concert again.  Also, your friend, Alex Gayoso (IG: @alexgayoso_) has done some amazing videos for you guys! I enjoy all of your videos. Everyone out there – check out Neon Dreams’ music. They rock!

Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?

Frank: Look out for each other this is your family you guys built this – we just provide the music.

Adrian: Take care of each other, meet each other, become friends with each other because like Frank said – you guys created this and we’re a community together. 

–End–

Check out the cool stop motion video for Sick of Feeling Useless:

A few of my favourite Neon Dreams tunes

In this thing called life, really “connecting” with others is a truly an amazing experience.

follow me on instagram account name