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Post Buzz

The surprising story behind Diana’s speedy rise


Alter Ego


Kat Burns moves ahead with Kashka





Dance It Out

Members of folk group The Acorn return with an electronic project

Track by Track

Ghettosocks gives a guided tour through For You Pretty Things







Plus Ultra

Young Galaxy come into their own with a stellar year




Q&A with Islands

Nick Thorburn’s band talks flip flops and Los Angeles






Theory of Kinship

The rotating cast of By Divine Right


Best of 2013


.. . . . .

Mixtape looks back at what’s worth remembering from 2013




Riding the Swell

Catching up mid-tour with Said The Whale





Mic Check Letter from the editor . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jonathan . . . . . . . .Briggins, . . . . . . .Editor-in-Chief . . . . . . . . ...................................

Ever since I started reading newspapers and magazines as a kid, I would look forward to the end of year. It’s a time for everybody to stand up and tell you what was the best and why it was the best. While lots of discussion, both negative and positive, stem from boldly stating what is best, I’ve always loved seeing what people have to say. I spend December catching up on what I missed throughout the year and wondering how I went through the year without hearing album X by artist Y. In our first “Best of ” issue, we split the country into regions, then picked the albums the Mixtape team liked the best from each. It put into perspective how great a year 2013 was for Canadian music from coast to coast. What makes the Canadian arts scene so great are the communities in



every city. Mint Records based out of Vancouver had an amazing year, signing a number of new bands. Old Cabin, led by Jonas Barr from Dawson City,Yukon, brought together a group of musicians to create a spectacular album then performed it live across the country. The Weirdo Click hip hop collective in Halifax released solid mixtapes this year, pushing the East Coast scene to be better. Community is what keeps the Canadian scene strong and we hope you the reader can appreciate it after flipping through our best of issue. This issue represents a new step for Mixtape Magazine — it’s our first digital-only issue. We’re excited to make the magazine available digitally for free so more readers can join us as we take you inside the Canadian music scene. We also have daily content on to quench your ongoing thirst for Canadian music, including interviews, live photos, curated playlists and much more. Let us know on Facebook and Twitter what releases from 2013 you enjoyed. And be sure to let us know the ones you think we missed; after all, we think we got it, but it’s nearly impossible to listen to everything.

Editor-in-Chief JONATHAN BRIGGINS Managing Editor EVELYN HORNBECK Contributing Editors NICOLE FERIANCEK SAMANTHA CHOWN Contributors JANE CAUFIELD MELISSA EVANS MICHAEL MCGRATH JEN OCHEJ ADRIA YOUNG Online Editor JANE CAUFIELD Creative Director HILARY CREAMER Photography SCOTT BLACKBURN Publisher BILL MCEWEN Advertising TENILLE GOODSPEED Advertising Department ADVERTISING@MIXTAPEMAGAZINE.CA MIXTAPEMAGAZINE.CA Mixtape Magazine was originally created by Jonathan Briggins, Samantha Chown, Hilary Creamer, Ryan Hemsworth and Chelcie Soroka All the good stuff we couldn’t fit in the magazine

watch Original and intimate videos that bring the music to your computer screen, sharing those magical musical moments with you.

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Daily features highlighting the latest and greatest in the Canadian music scene, exclusive one-on-one interviews and thought provoking editorials.

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Album Reviews Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Merge Records) Arcade Fire left us in a car, parked somewhere in sci-fi suburban North America on the Grammy-album-of-the-yearwinning The Suburbs. Now the band have returned with Reflektor, an album that leaves that car parked in the suburbs and instead invites listeners to dance. Sort of. On the double album Reflektor, the Montreal band’s most ambitious album, they are all over the map. The title track makes you question how you ever danced to an Arcade Fire song before. “Normal Person” and the intro of “Joan of Arc” show a gritty side of the band that never snuck out on the first three albums. “Awful

Sound (Oh Eurydice)” and “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)” draw on Greek mythology and take their time doing so. From start to finish, the album contains those big moments that have made Arcade Fire so popular in the first place. Reflektor however lacks the glue that holds everything together like Arcade Fire albums always have in the past both thematically and musically. Reflektor comes across as grandiose requiring time and patience to digest, something listeners may not have. - Jonathan Briggins

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Tony Dekker - Prayer Of the Woods (Nettwerk Records) Tony Dekker, frontman of the Great Lake Swimmers, takes a break from the band with his first solo album. Prayer of the Woods is evokes a myriad of emotions and memories. From the opening track, “On My Way Back”, we are welcomed into a lush, verdant forest rich with the beauty and complexity of Dekker’s songwriting. His warm voice blends easily with simple instrumentation that truly lets Dekker’s lyrics shine through. Striking a perfect balance between the familiar and the ethereal, the album offers a wide range of themes and feelings best experienced through a front-to-back listen. “Somewhere 6


Near Thunder Bay” has the sense of a vague and faded memory buried deep in one’s subconscious, while “Land Of the Glass Pinecones” (a Human Sexual Response cover) inspires an otherworldly, dream-like image that is at once mysterious and comfortable. The most stunning and thematically encapsulating track is the album’s title track. Here the melody, accented by delicate harmony, is perfectly evocative of the lyrics, drawn from an anonymous Portuguese poem. The musical embodiment of the forest it honours, this album feels like a prayer of, and for, the woods, carried on the wind by a great Canadian troubadour. - Jen Ochej

Fugitives - Everything Will Happen (Light Organ Records) The Fugitives have been around since the early 2000s, but this album shows they won’t rest on their well-tuned laurels. The indie-folk sound fans appreciate is still there, but the polished, deeper arrangements will attract new audiences. The time is right for this album to hit it big, what with the popularity of pop-folk à la Mumford and Sons. “Bigger Than Luck” is a highlight (if you love some good banjo plucking), mixing a sing-along chorus, uplifting chords and urban nights out for unemployed millennial hipsters.Yeah, it’s fun. But fear not: The Fugitives have not abandoned their gift for storytelling, complete with didactic and prescriptive rants. The slower, second half of

the album reminds us of where the band has come from with songs like “Dinner with Clara Haber”; Haber was a gifted german scientist who married Fritz Haber in 1901. He developed the gas used in Flanders at the Second Battle of Ypres, and she killed herself with her husband’s military pistol in 1915. “The scientist is working for the world/ but in wartime he will answer to his borders,” they sing. The song comments on the politics of war, of suicide and human bravery. And just when you wonder if The Fugitives are done with spoken word, they bust it out on the final tune, “If This Is It.” - Evelyn Hornbeck

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Destroyer - Five Spanish Songs (Merge Records) Following the critically acclaimed album Kaputt, Destroyer has taken a completely different direction with their new release. After growing tired of the English language, Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar decided to try his hand at Spanish. The five song EP conveniently titled Five Spanish Songs contains covers of Sr. Chinarro songs, a band, led by Antonio Luque, which has influenced Bejar for decades. The covers stick pretty close to the originals, which may come as a surprise to those who listen to Destroyer’s take on the tracks as they sound as if they could seamlessly slot into the Destroyer discography. “Babieca” in particular feels like a classic Destroyer track with frantic percussion, strings that float

around and vocals that are delivered at times with an intimate near whisper. This recording serves a dual function, whetting the appetites of Destroyer fans while introducing them to an artist from another language that has obviously been just as important to the band’s sound as bands that sing in English, like Pavement, David Bowie and Scott Walker. - Jonathan Briggins



xxx clvr - PMS (Independent) How long does it take to get famous? A cinematic interlude from Basquiat halfway through xxx clvr’s latest PMS mixtape sees into the Future. Weirdo Click’s super slick xxx clvr ( aka Alex William) brings 48:29 of smooth jams that you should hit up. There are so many dope moments on this mixtape. PMS is like watching The Simpsons when you get all the references, if you know what I mean. The first half sets up the mix of sounds that hang around steady through the calculated mood changes, builds and drops. “Shouts out to my Grandma and shit.” After the 28:00 mark, some Blink-182 (#lol #yes), some soul, some G-funk, some Tracy Morgan,

some Breaker High, #choptrees and the “black Matt Mays.” It gets real trippy at 40:00 but then picks up to blow out: xxx clvr’s freestyle is the best part, no doubt. WC style, it shouldn’t be long now. #VibeOn. - Adria Young

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Solids - Blame Confusion (Independent) The debut full length of Montreal band Solids is a small spark of genius glimmering in a sea of punk-influenced shoegaze. Blame Confusion starts with thirty seconds of noise and turns into a blistering assault of guitar glory with smattering drumrolls. The band creates a sense of spatial atmosphere in their music, maximizing every sound they possibly can while keeping the music fairly straightforward. The feeling they create is an amazing feat considering the band consists of just a guitarist and a drummer. The album seems to draw inspiration from so many different areas music with hints of math-rock, shoegaze, power-pop and hardcore punk (this is no surprise, considering the duo used to be a part of Montreal hardcore punk band Expectorated 8


Sequence). On songs such as “Off White,” you hear the melodic and upbeat side of the band coming through sunny guitar riffs and bouncy drum beats, whereas on songs like “Cold Hands” you certainly hear that sense of hardcore punk with heavy and repeated hooks that could be the soundtrack to committing a train heist. The album leaves you with a sense of completion, creating an entire sound and breaking it down in only 38 minutes. Solids fits in perfectly with bands such as Metz and Japandroids, but at the same time they don’t fit in at all. They’re special, they’re their own band, they deserve their own lane. - Michael McGrath

Kim Harris - Only the Mighty (Independent) The debut full-length from Kim Harris, Only The Mighty is an exquisite and deeply personal album, painted with Harris’s fingerprints at every turn. The opening track, “In The Woods,” is a lively, multi-layered romp written during a family hike; “Oh Lion,” featuring Harris’s partner Jay Needham, speaks of her quirky habit of discovering the animal personalities inherent in each of her loved ones. The album’s cover art, by Haligonian designer Margot Durling, features a stylized depiction of a cherished and memory-filled area near Harris’s childhood home. The most personal, poignant, and highly anticipated element of this

album is its second track, “The Weight Of It All.” Written after the passing of Harris’s mother, it captivates audiences and brings even the most stoic of listeners to tears. The final recorded version is the perfect fulfillment of a song that has made its home in countless hearts; it is quite simply and literally breathtaking. The mighty among us will recognize their own strength, and the faint of heart be fortified, with Harris’s pure and honest songwriting. From first note to last, Only The Mighty is delicately written and powerfully delivered, inviting the listener into the most intimate corners of Harris’s soul. - Jen Ochej

Many Marvelous Magazines Groovy greeting cards, lots of licorice & so much more.

@magsstore 429-5468 At Queen & Morris


#mixtape Here at Mixtape, bodily functions are our speciality. As evidenced below, we’re not alone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Collected by Nicole Feriancek



Cab driver just burped feel like I should burp back

Just heard one senior call another an “old poop”.



You know it’s love the first time you let one rip in front of the one you adore...

Don’t waste any time. Drink coffee on the toilet.



Pick one: a) spill no beans b) spill a couple beans c) spill some beans, eat other beans d) chili

My doctor recommended I introduce more Omega 3 into my diet I feel kind of super-fish-oil doing it through RS

@Drake I never tweet what I’m doing cause it’d just be like “yooo who else is up eating granola and watching aubrey plaza interview snippets”

@billie_dre Got bacon on everything, wished drive thru guy a happy birthday, got a free large fries. Thanks Yarmouth for ruling so hard!!!



@joelplaskett Money shouldn’t grow on trees cause we’d probably eat it.

@lights This non scented moisturizer makes me smell like a piece of bacon. I don’t understand.

Best Online Albums The top 5 albums you’ll never get your hands on by Jonathan Briggins . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Words ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. We’re fans of music in the physical form.Vinyl, cassettes, CDs; you name it, we like it. But sometimes it can be hard to actually get your hands on your music. This issue, we show you the best

ANAMAI Self-Titled (November 2013) Anna Mayberry takes listeners on a lo-fi dreamy journey on her debut album, ANAMAI. The focus on songwriting and minimal song structures may come as a surprise to those who know Mayberry from her band HSY, a Toronto band known for their sludge-punk tunes. The songs reflect the icy temperature of the studio apartment in Montreal where this was recorded with producer David Psutka. (Standout track: “Altar Coals” )

The Reference Desk/ Beached Out You’re Getting Close (October 2013) The Reference Desk is a trio whose members also play in other Haligonian bands: Bad Vibrations, Homo Duplex and Psychic Fair. Their two tracks on the split record are catchy and covered in fuzz. The other side features Beached Out. The Kingston husband and wife duo will have you reaching for sunscreen as you soak up a serving of surf-pop. (Standout track: “Tiny War”)

limited-released EPs, 7-inch records and digital-only releases that can be streamed online. Google, download and zone out.

We Are The City PXTK (November 2013) Vancouver’s We Are The City released the full length album Violent earlier this year. The PXTK EP features live cuts of five songs from the album along with accompanying videos. With the exception of “Baptism,” the songs are pretty close to the album versions and don’t capture the complexity and energy of a We Are the City live show where their progressive rock tendencies shine brightest. (Standout track: “Baptism”)

More or Les Bigger On The Inside: A Time Traveller’s Mixtape (November 2013) Toronto rapper More Or Less wrote some Dr. Who fan-fiction and has shared it with the world. Bigger On The Inside: A Time Traveller’s Mixtape is a free ten track mixtape entirely about the British sci-fi television show Dr. Who. Ghettosocks and The Wordburglar join in on the fun, helping out on the track “Angels & Monsters.” You don’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy this Who filled nerdcore release.

Gold Losing Your Hair (August 2013) Listening to this EP by Calgary band Gold is a strange experience. The four tracks were recorded by the late Chris Reimer of Women in January 2012 and feature his drumming. Reimer passed away in his sleep from a heart condition the following month. The dreamy shoegaze pop songs are a fitting tribute for a missed artist. (Standout track: Torchlight Parade”)

(Standout track: “Angels & Monsters”)




Trendspotting The Zolas skip out on the album game

Words by Melissa Evans . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Scott Blackburn

Whether it’s got to do with the instantaneousness of the Internet, our 140-character attention span, or simply the fact that physical records just don’t sell the way they used to, some artists have taken to releasing singles instead of full-length albums. Vancouver-based indie pop band, The Zolas, haven taken to the song-at-a-time release model not for lack of money or time but a different reason altogether: quite simply, it’s more fun that way. The Zolas, Zachary Gray (guitar and vocals) and Tom Dobrzanski (keys) keep a talented circle of contributing musicians who support them on records and at live shows. The band was born in 2009 out of the ashes of another band formed by Gray and Dobrzanski in 2003 called Lotus Child. “We were a little too precious with it,” says Gray. “We were thinking too seriously about what would be 12


good for our careers and we weren’t having a good time.” So that band broke up. But Gray and Dobrzanski continued to work together. They formed a new group with one fundamental rule – to have fun and not take themselves too seriously. Today The Zolas don’t give themselves a chance to be “too precious” with anything. “The less we think about things,” says Gray, “the more interesting they end up sounding.” As a natural extension of their genesis, living in the moment is the basis for their production process as well. “It’s fun…and easy to get together and write a couple songs and have a couple days to record them as opposed to making the whole album,” says Gray. “I can’t store 10 songs in my brain and make them all unique and interesting in their own way…[They] end up sounding pretty similar and you reuse a lot of stuff.”

It’s important to the band to keep their creative freedom alive in their music. Waiting around to record an entire album doesn’t fit that bill. “We all have this malaise which is coming up with songs you really like and then having to shelf them for six months while you write enough to complete an album’s worth and then hope you can recapture what you liked about it when you go to record it,” says Gray. Getting songs to their fans while they’re still fresh is important to The Zolas. They don’t miss having the chance to go back and rework a single. “Even if we fuck it up,” says Gray, “I’ll just write something better next time.” “I think a part of why we can do this now is we finally have a band where everyone is the best person I know at what they’re doing. Everyone has such great taste and sympathetic ideas and we actually can make something really interesting,” he says.

Though they call themselves a pop band, by no means are they boxed in to a specific idea of what pop music is supposed to be. “Our last song was just like, a straight up pop song and we might just make another song like that or we might make something that’s seven minutes long and full of strange aesthetics,” says Gray. Pop music, according to Gray, is the most creatively exciting genre right now. For instance, “anything Timbaland does is 90 per cent mouth noises,” says Gray. “It sounds like a music school art project, but it’s a number one hit. Pop music is exciting in a way that rock music isn’t. It’s nice to go there. We can make a really heavy song though if we want to. We’ll see.” With The Zolas, you just never know and that’s what keeps fans coming back for more.

ACADIAN EMBASSY “The most insidiously catchy bedroom-pop we’ve heard all year” - The Toronto Star “[A] lovely piece of glitchy bedroom-pop.” - All Things Go Music (UK)

“Lovely, understated and focused on their adept melodies.” - Consequence of Sound “.. a feast of beauty, shrouded in a little fog.” - Bob Mersereau, CBC

“High energy riffs, glorious harmonies, and likeable tunes that I can’t get out of my head.”- Halifax Magazine “Sing-along choruses and captivating hooks.. This is true Canadian music.” - Exclaim!

The debut LP from Halifax’s post-rock heavyweights. Grab a limited-edition cassette of the single “Battle of Bloody Creek” today. “Dark and introspective sounds.. born of light when there was only darkness.” - La Molecula (Spain)


Profile of a Record Label Through the eyes of Mint Records’ newest release Words by Samantha Chown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. & Jonathan Briggins

Mint Records has been around since 1991 with more than 160 releases and counting. Their most recent: a self-titled album from new Vancouver band Tough Age. Tough Age fits in easily with the rest of the close-knit Mint family, says front person Jarrett Evan Samson formerly of Apollo Ghosts and Korean Gut. He has known label mate Jay Arner, who helped record Tough Age’s album in an astonishing 12 hours. Since he was 16, Samson first saw Arner perform with his then band, International Falls. Arner, whose latest release came out in June, says Mint has, “had really good, positive momentum this year, signing all these good bands. Everyone is really tight.” And Sampson confirms, saying, “I’m essentially on a label that’s just all of my friends but they know what they’re doing and they’re supportive.” After not signing any 14


new artists for around two years, Mint Records has signed Renny Wilson, Jay Arner, Pick A Piper and Tough Age in the past year. “Before we had a lot of older legacy artists coming to us with records they wanted to put out or they’d introduce us to their friends. But for the last wave I kind of went after them,” says label manager Shena Yoshida. Randy Iwata and Bill Baker founded the independent record label, based in Vancouver, in 1991 after working together at CiTR, the college radio station for the University of British Columbia. Both still work with Mint although Bill works from home and isn’t as involved. Yoshida writes grants, plans events, works on press material among other record label duties. The label’s prolific past with artists including the New Pornographers, Neko Case, Nardwuar and the Sadies helps

the current crop of Mint artists. “Having bigger sales numbers, like the New Pornographers or (the Pack A.D.), in the past helps us get into bigger grant programs for the new wave of artists. It’s kind of awesome. It makes it possible for them to have things like tour funding or fun videos,” says Yoshida. Jay Arner showed the new Tough Age record to Yoshida after he finished recording it with the band. Within a week, the band was signed. “Jarrett’s really prolific in this community so it’s really exciting to work with him,” says Yoshida. Though they’ve been in the business for over 20 years, Mint doesn’t impose any of the company’s views on the artists. Instead, Mint offers suggestions and works tirelessly to better each of the bands it represents, says Samson. “I wouldn’t work with them if I thought they were going to be antagonistic or

want to change anything,” says Sampson. If it weren’t for Mint, Tough Age would still be plugging away, releasing the album whenever they had the money. “Our profile has risen astronomically since getting signed to Mint,” says Samson.“Pretty much any opportunity we’ve had, we owe to Mint.” In the last ten months, the band, which formed in January, recorded its first album, signed to Mint and has already been on multiple tours around the country. “Mint just seems to attract good people. And good people who actually care about what you’re doing,” Sampson says, “There’s nothing that comes after this. Anything that does is just gravy or icing or whatever analogy you want.”

Inside Out Our once-a-quarter excuse to snoop through talented musicsians’ stuff. This time DJ IV opens up. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Scott Blackburn

Top left photo contents, clockwise from left: 15” MacBook Pro, Serato blue control vinyls, control CD, Kyle Mischiek CD, Bose mini speaker, Technics headphones, “Masked Mona” t-shirt, everyday “save-yo-ass” jumble of wires, Smelly Proof bag, iPhone power adapter, VariGrip, Gripmaster clarity tone earbuds, CrateConnect clothing, MacBook Pro charger, USB stick, lighter, pens, hard drive, Shure DJ needle, Pistols in Paradise business card case, mini DVI to VGA adapter. WINTER 2014 MIXTAPE



Breaking Buzz After a fast rise, Diana are hitting their stride Words by Evelyn Hornbeck . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photos by Scott Blackburn Kieran Adams and Joseph Shabason are busier than ever. When I reach Shabason by phone in Toronto, he wonders if he has time to talk to me after all -- the pair are in the studio. “We just finished a couple of remixes and it’s very very full on right now. A bunch of positive stuff, but really… slammed,” says Shabason, laughing. But it isn’t just producing work that’s keeping them busy; it’s a packed touring schedule with their in-demand synthdance-pop band, Diana. After years struggling to find their niche, the creative partners have hit gold. Diana, made up of the two plus friend Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras) and Carmen Elle (Army Girls) weaves together futuristic synth, melodies right out of the 80s, and mean sax with the thread of Elle’s sweet, transcendent voice. And audiences are eating it up, as the group experiences the kind of explosive rise in profile that’s straight out of Hollywood. The group’s origin suits the archetype. A couple of years ago Shabason was struggling

to find his way forward in the industry. He and Adams were in band Everything All The Time, and they were getting ready to head into the studio when things fell apart. “It crashed and burned pretty hard,” says Shabason. “It was frustrating because we wanted to move forward but because everyone was so busy it was stagnant. And every time it seemed it was going to move forward it fell apart.” Even though the studio time was booked with producer Roger Leavens (Rural Alberta Advantage, Born Ruffians), the band broke up. Shabason and Adams were left scrambling. They decided to keep the studio booking and retreated to a cottage to write. They let loose, drank a lot, and came back with some strong writing. But they needed someone to sing it. That’s when Carmen Elle entered the picture. “She’s been around forever, a staple of the Toronto music scene,” says Shabason “Even though she’s so young, she’s already done so much.” So they asked her to try it out. Finding the voice to front

the band was “frustrating, and terrifying,” according to Shabason. “You know how you want it to sound but then you know like it can go so many different ways and when we had Carmen come in it was one of those moment where it was like, ‘Oh right this is way better than I ever thought it could be.’” He is pleased with their good fortune to make that connection. “I couldn’t have imagined how good Carmen would sound. Not in a million years.” Though they had yet to release anything, Shabason said he knew from then that they had something. “It became this thing that was living and breathing instead of just being this thing that existed in Keiran and I’s mind,” he said. “[I thought], right now this thing has legs.” But he had no idea how far and fast those legs would go. It all started, as it seems to these days, with a track published on the internet. A year ago, Shabason posted “Born Again” and “Perpetual Surrender” and it took off after it was picked up by influential music blog Gorilla vs Bear and other sites.

It exploded on the internet, racking up hits (over 200,000 to date). “We had no idea that was going to happen,” says Shabason. He woke up three days after it was posted and saw “more notifications than I can even count” on his phone from his Soundcloud account. “It became very clear very quickly that we needed to get this band live, that the timeline for playing live became that much more rushed.” They asked Paul Mathew to join, and the band was complete. It still didn’t feel like a sure thing yet to them. Their second show ever was at industry-heavy New York music festival CMJ in October 2012, and despite all their buzz, Shabason remembers being completely freaked out. “That was terrifying,” he says. “We had to play these shows and we had to learn all this new gear and technology and how to do this really studio-based album live. I remember running around Brooklyn like chickens with our heads cut off just praying to God none of our equipment



would break and we would remember to do everything.” He also says the buzz came with a lot of pressure. “They [the industry types at CMJ] are judging you and you have this higher profile but also you’re terrified because you’re this brand new band.” YouTube footage of the show reveals a lot of talent. On “New House” Elle croons “Baby, I know you’re terrified” and looks pretty confident doing it. She already exhibits the finesse as a front woman that makes their live show so good.



Just one year later and the band is living up to the hype. Racking up the hits for debut album Perpetual Surrender, they released it on Paper Bag Records in Canada and Jagjaguwar in the U.S., two established labels. They even received a major stamp of approval thanks to a remix of the song “Perpetual Surrender” by Four Tet, well-known British electronic music who has previously done official remixes for Radiohead, The XX and Bloc Party. Hearing the band live now tells you how far they’ve come,

from Shabason and Adams scrambling to a dynamic and polished band. Since CMJ 2012, they’ve gelled as a group. Their confidence comes out with playful energy on stage. Elle still sings with a mix of sweetness and edge, and her confidence as a frontwoman streams out. When you see her live she’s hard to forget. There’s no denying she’s got staying power in the industry (she was even featured in an August’s New York Times Magazine spread on fashionable indie front women alongside Izzy Almeida of Hunters and Raphaelle

Standell-Preston of Braids). All of this means, of course, that Shabason and the crew will be very busy for the foreseeable future. They band is eager to work on their new album, feeling they’ve learned a lot since they recorded the first one over a year ago, without having toured their sound. “I don’t know what is going to happen next because it’s going to be a different process than before.”


Alter Ego Kat Burns reinvents herself as Kashka Words by Samantha Chown . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Scott Blackburn

It’s late Saturday afternoon and Kat Burns sits tucked away below a palm tree inside a much-loved Halifax establishment. “I haven’t eaten much today,” she says as she orders a green tea. “Anything stronger and I’ll be loopy!” Her smile and laugh that follows are genuine, making Burns instantly likeable. She’s articulate and direct about her feelings, making it evident how the former front person of Forest City Lovers garnered herself a little cult following. When Forest City Lovers was on the verge of breaking up after six years of making music together, with varying band members, Burns continued to write. “When I was thinking about dissolving Forest City Lovers or putting it on an indefinite hiatus, I was still writing a lot and I decided to go opposite spectrum,” she says. So in early 2012, Burns partnered up with producer and long-time friend, James Bunton, drummer and trumpeter for Ohbijou and also a former band member of the original Forest City Lovers. The pair collaborated on a bunch of upbeat pop songs that had a lot more synth than Burns was used to and her alter ego, Kashka was born.



The end of Forest City Lovers wasn’t due to some blowout fight or a clash in creative views, but rather a pretty mundane shift in priorities: the band members were getting busy with other commitments. Drummer Christian Ingelevics had a baby. Bassist Kyle Donnelly wanted to go back to school and violinist Mika Posen was busy with her other band, Timber Timbre. “Everything was feeling sort of temporary at the very end. I just really wanted to keep doing things and it was just really frustrating to be waiting on other people all the time,” Burns laments. With one project ending, it was Burns’ opportunity to start another, to grow Kashka out of her desire and need to keep creating music. “I didn’t want to replace everyone again so I was like, I’m just going to do a solo project. I can have whoever I want play with me at any time and I’m going to make it very clear the band can change at any time depending on what music I’m making.” Her own project made it easier to continue. Under the moniker Kashka, homage to her polish roots, Burns put out her first full-length album, Vichada (2012) and a follow-up

release, Summer EP (2013). The making of her most recent release, Bound, wasn’t so easy. She started to write songs with producer Leon Taheny but at the beginning of the project, she was feeling really stuck. “There’s a little bit of self-inflicted pressure to make something good,” she says. She wanted to produce good quality songs and she didn’t like where the project was going. So she and Taheny decided to scrap everything and take a break. For the next six months, Burns gallivanted around the world, focusing on herself and other pursuits. She travelled to Germany and spent a month in Peru. She also created her own mentorship, taking up residence with the Saint Nicholas Orchestra in Lublin, Poland. The contemporary folk orchestra is known for using old, acoustic, traditional instruments to make very contemporary, political music. Burns wanted to explore what she calls, “an interesting juxtaposition,” and learn how their style could be applied to her music. Coming back, Burns had clearer ideas about what she wanted from her solo project. “Folkpoptronica” is what describes it best she says, using a term coined by a

reporter at the Durham News Weekly, near Burn’s hometown. Her new sound uses real instruments mixed with synthetic elements. “It’s not really synth pop and it’s not really straight up any one thing,” she says. Kashka is a bolder version of Burns, meaning the artwork no longer heavily features animals. Instead, she is streamlining things and reaching out to friends for help with design input, rather than draw everything herself. Rebranding has been hard she says. “The challenge is trying to link the Forest City Lovers fans with what I’m doing now because I feel like there’s a communality in the music.” For now, Burns is still in transition, saying, “I’m not the type of person who can do a complete 180. It’s been a bit hard because I’m just the same person as I was before.” Her sophomore record, Bound, is available now and features contributions from other Canadian musicians including Bunton, David Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Anissa Hart (Ohbijou, Kite Hill), Neil Haverty (Bruce Peninsula), and Randy Lee (the Bicycles).


Dance It Out Rolf Klausener exorcises the makeups and breakups with his new band . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Words .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. by Evelyn Hornbeck

Zoe Baranski

Silkken Laumann is one man’s cure for a broken heart. Their debut album, out in December, tells the story. “The whole album is kind of a concept album on makeups and breakups in Ottawa, in the underground, underbelly of the city,” says Rolf Klausener, lead singer of indie folk band The Acorn and now of new electro-dance ensemble Silkken Laumann.



It all started in the summer of 2011 when Klausener suffered two kinds of breakups around the same time: his band went on hiatus and his relationship ended. “The Acorn band had really been shifting for a long time,” says Klausener. “There was this real disconnection; all of us in the Acorn had become this touring band where when it was time to tour, I assembled

everybody from different cities, we’d jam and then we’d get on the road. It was more of a professional entity than a fun creative project.” That issue came to a head when Klausener decided to go on “a sabbatical from The Acorn” starting that summer. The seed of Silkken Laumann came from Klausener’s relationship with the only other Acorn member

who still lived in Ottawa: Pat Johnson. The pair had spent time between tours jamming on electronic improvisations and recording little bits of song ideas. It was mostly for fun and came from their shared love of dance music. “There was a real fluidity to what we wrote together and Pat is an incredible drummer,” says Klausener. “There were little roots, little nuggets of

songs there.” The next member did a lot to cement the group as a band. “Everything started coming together very quickly (with) Adam Saikaley on board. He really fleshed it out.” Klausener and Saikaley, an experimental keyboardist in Ottawa, became close friends and collaborators that same summer. “We both went through kind of crazy breakups in 2011,” says Klausener. “Me and Adam just ended up bro-ing down for an entire year. It was really hardcore. We were going out three, four nights a week. Every party, every underground show we could get our hands on.” And they made music. Before long, the work he and Johnson had started took shape, with help from Saikaley. Klausener realized that what he had missed as The Acorn drew apart, the camaraderie of being in a tight-knit band, he’d rediscovered the his jam sessions. “I looked around and I

looked at Pat and Adam and I had this realization, here are my best friends, and here we are in a band, writing together and that was kind of the moment,” he says. “It was a really liberating moment.” But once they became a band, they still had a lot of work to do. “It was a real learning curve because we knew what we wanted, and the feeling we wanted to impart on the audience but we could not do it,” says Klausener. They played one show, which went well, and then they played a series of shows for the Carleton University architecture department. Their only instructions were to play dance music for an hour and a half. So they did; they improvised beats, melodies and even lyrics. “We’d have like 100 people just losing their minds dancing in the dark, we’d rent a couple lights and… that was really the beginning of understanding that we wanted Silkken to be: This really intensely sweaty dance party

and it was really liberating, really fun.” From there, songs came together, and a couple of videos. They released one song, “On The Mend” as a pay-what-you-can download on their bandcamp with proceeds going to the Royal Ottawa Hospital. But the band’s future was still uncertain; they were all busy, especially Klausener who is also artistic director of new music and culture festival Arboretum. Through 2012 and the beginning of 2013 more and more songs came together until it became clear they needed to put together an album. They received a grant to record from the City of Ottawa through the arts funding program and began work with Jarrett Bartlett, who has produced for The Acorn. After long months of work, the release date is set for New Year’s Eve. “It might be in demo form but we definitely want people to be able to listen to the songs because if we wait any longer before people have these songs

we’re going to lose our minds,” says Klaurener. “We are so anxious to start writing new material.” The album is under strict wraps — they aren’t even releasing it to the media — but it will be released for free to download that night. “We feel kind of indestructible. We are really stoked to have people come and get sweaty with us,” he says. With three strong singles and buzz growing, Klausener will have to make time for touring Silkken Laumann; they’re planning to tour their album in the TorontoOttawa-Montreal corridor, and maybe beyond. But Klausener will have to balance that with the return of The Acorn (their new album will be out in 2014). “I’m used to trying to go way more than I’m capable of. It’s just another side of my personality which I get to exercise with this band. I’m super grateful for it.”

Zoe Baranski




Track by Track Halifax rapper Ghettosocks explores For You Pretty Things for us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Words by Ghettosocks

Kelly Clark

AIR The introduction to the album begins with the same sound-byte as all of the previous Ghettosocks records (“Get Some Friends,” “Treat of the Day”). The sound of wind blowing fades in over the Bix beat, picking up where the last song “The Roof ” off the previous album left off. This song is a dedication to the two cities I call home: Halifax, where I began to make music, and



Ottawa, where I was born and raised. HUMAN SACRIFICE (DOGS AND CATS) An instrumental I had produced years ago but never knew what I wanted to use it for, found a home on this new record. As the backdrop to a light-hearted song addressing the pitfalls of prematurely moving in with a significant other, the beat carries the

humorous lyrics around on its shoulders from beginning to end. MOMENT OF CLARITY (ft. NILLA AND MUNESHINE) This song features a verse from Droppin’ Science label mate Muneshine and a hook written and performed by Nilla. The song meanders along Boom Baptist’s funky instrumentation waxing on

subjects from family to our approach to making music, emphasizing on the importance of taking the initiative in getting goals accomplished. OUTSIDE This is a storytelling rap about a fictitious boy’s life cut short by tragedy. It builds off of the idea of parents telling their kids to “go outside” and has a poignant resolution. Again

with the instrumental, it’s something I had produced years ago but never knew what I wanted to use it for until I found a home for it on this new record. INVINCIBLE (ft. EL DA SENSEI) Fresh Kils produced the beat, based on one of his live MPC routines. Upon hearing it, I knew it needed to be made into a song and reached out to long time collaborator El Da Sensei of The Artifacts. This song would ultimately be the lead single and a video was made for it (directed by Darrell Faria, Lithium Studios). FATE (ft. PHOENIX PAGLIACCI) M Mac produced this dark, undulating instrumental. Toronto up-and-comer pHoenix Pagliacci and myself traverse the beat dropping knowledge about destiny, alternate realities and the importance of focussing on tasks at hand. 100 BARS (ft. THE HERBALISER AND TIMBUKTU) In the tradition of “Rock the Discotech” off of my previous album, Timbuktu and I (known together as Teenburger) exchange lyrics in rapid-fire fashion atop a brisk Herbaliser instrumental. Teenburger has collaborated with The Herbaliser for their latest release, There Were Seven, on the song, “March of the Dead Things” which also has a video available on Vimeo and YouTube (directed by Caley MacLennan). The Herbaliser is also producing the next full-length Teenburger record Hivemind, scheduled for release

early 2014. GUGGENHEIM (ft. SHEVY PRICE) This is a heavy, hypnotic song produced by Fitz Ambrose (Tokyo), featuring vocals from Halifax new-comer Shevy Price. The lyrics lament on the notion of goals being accomplished and new goals being set, giving rise to having a reason to celebrate versus partying arbitrarily. ONCE GOT BUSY (BURGER KING BATHROOM) I had the idea for this song during one of my most recent visits to St. John’s, Newfoundland. “The Humpty Dance” came on the radio and suddenly the whole idea of expanding on the memorable line, “I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom” came to mind. I selected the beat out of a packet Bix had sent me months earlier. CAP (ft. MOKA ONLY) I met Moka for the first time during my 2011 crossCanada “Train of Thought Tour”, sponsored by VIA Rail. Moka is a great artist and all around good dude who really set it on this track produced by my long time friend, Fredericton-based producer Sean One. Sean had sent me the beat years ago and I knew I wanted to use it for something, but pieced it all together after I broke bread with Moka for the first time in Vancouver. The working title for Sean’s beat was “Cap”, and that’s what was sent to Moka with no said topic for the song. From there, Moka embellished on the idea by referring to a “salary cap” in the hook. From

there, I found a suitable sound-byte from Style Wars’s infamous “Cap” and chopped it into place.

about poutine, and reached out to Montreal heavyweight MCs and homies Loe Pesci and Full Course.

DOUBLE DESERT EAGLES (ft. SADAT X AND PATIENCE) I’ve been wanting to collaborate with Ottawa rap group, Flight Distance (Patience, Bender, and Calcutta), but when Bender became unavailable, I was able to secure a verse from Sadat X who was familiar with me via El Da Sensei. Dropping Science Production label mates The Extremities are responsible for the hefty beat under the lyrics, with DJ iRate handling the cuts. The song addresses the issue of gun violence, discussing its glorification, geopolitical effect, and local implications.

CATHEDRAL (ft. APT) Apt produced and features vocals on this introspective, yet uplifting song with sombre tones. I met Apt over 10 years ago in the Halifax hiphop scene, when we were both a lot younger, and both rapped outside of the public library on Friday nights. This song is, in a way, a testament to that. People would walk up to the library doors and tug at the locked handle after business hours. When this would happen, whoever was in the cypher would chant “the library’s closed,the library’s closed” in unison.

YOUTH IN ASIA (ft. WOLVES) I am joined by fellow Wolves members (D-Sisive, Muneshine, Timbuktu, with Bix on the beat) on this dark, rugged rap song. This track was initially intended to appear on the upcoming self-titled debut Wolves album, but we had an excess of tracks and it seemed to fill a void on FYPT. Also, this was the second-ever Wolves track recorded. POUTINE (ft. LOE PESCI AND FULL COURSE) Edmonton producer and friend Nato produced this unusual beat. When I first heard it, the four segments of the beat’s progression made me draw parallels in my mind to each of his four dogs’ personalities. Having overlooked that, I decided to do a song loosely

UNDERSTANDING I made this beat based on the memory of a beat I had heard by Bix, which he subsequently lost. This is probably the most personal song on the record where I refer to difficulties I had growing up, and my transition from Ottawa to Halifax. THE MUSTARD STATION (ft. JEFF SPEC, TIMBUKTU, MOKA ONLY, AND MUNESHINE) Moka Only made this beat while Jeff Spec, Timbuktu, Muneshine, and myself all sat in his studio apartment writing raps. We called it “The Mustard Station” because of an inside joke which had transpired earlier in the day. While riding the SeaBus in North Vancouver, we noticed the “Muster Station” on the ferry. The rest is history.




Plus Ultra After a stellar year Young Galaxy continue to push Words by Jonathan Briggins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photos by Scott Blackburn

Young Galaxy are standing outside the Marquee Club in Halifax, waiting to load in their gear before the Halifax Pop Explosion show they are headlining tonight. The Montreal electronic-pop band played this venue during the same festival in 2007. In that time, the band has undergone lineup changes and have shifted their sound from earnest pop rock to danceable electronic pop in large part from their work with Swedish electronic producer Dan Lissvik. From the self-titled debut album in 2007 to this year’s Ultramarine, Young Galaxy have been gradually shifting every aspect of their music; from dream pop to electronic pop, from earnest and specific lyrics to universal lyrics open for interpretation; from trying to shake off the sound of their influences to confidently making music that is their own. The Montreal band has found the catalyst to create the definitive Young Galaxy. “In some ways, we found our Brian Eno, our guy who could understand what we were trying to get at and make it better. To know what to do when we didn’t know what to do,” says guitarist Stephan Ramsay of Lissvik, who produced the band’s Polaris short-listed fourth album Ultramarine. The comparison by Ramsay is a huge compliment. Distinguished producer and

musician Brian Eno is credited with producing and helping bands such as U2 and Coldplay change their sound and push them into superstardom. “I think Dan is a genius. He’s not a really well known producer in some ways because he’s very secretive and low key about his output,” Ramsay says. Lissvik was a member of the now-defunct Swedish band Studio, who only released one full length album in ten years of existence. For the recording of Ultramarine, Ramsay along with co-founder and vocalist Catherine McCandless, bassist Stephen Kamp, drummer Andrea Silver and keyboardist and guitarist Matthew Shapiro left their home base of Montreal and flew to Lissvik’s studio in Gothenburg, Sweden. With two weeks to record, the band had to focus. “The band isolated in Sweden together meant people didn’t have to go home for dinner, hang out with their girlfriends or walk their dog, which was refreshing in a way because every other time we’ve recorded, we were in Montreal. We sort of kept coming in and out of the studio, but there we were all intently knowing we had two weeks to execute the plan together. It made the process very efficient, very focused,” says Ramsay. Ramsay describes the process as being galvanizing,

bringing together the five band members together. Although the current lineup has only been together for two years, it’s the longest there has been one steady group. Recording their previous album, Shapeshifting, led to fracturing of the group with two members leaving. Making Shapeshifting with Lissvik was completely different; it was done over Skype, the band on computers in Montreal and the producer working from his computer in Sweden. The band and the producer were never physically together. “In some ways, the band was not even really that involved in what became the sort of reworking of the record on Dan’s end. In some ways I think he took a perverse pleasure in keeping it from us,” says Ramsay. After a nerve-wracking experience where Shapeshifting came eight months later than expected, working with Lissvik physically present made sense for the band. Ultramarine was made in a small, one room studio where they couldn’t make a lot of noise because of surrounding residences. When the band arrived in Sweden, they were surprised by Lissvik’s process. Instead of recording right away they spent the first week settling arrangements. “Typically you try and hit the ground running.You set up quickly and you start banging it out,” Ramsay says.

Lissvik also has a very physical way of helping bands record, getting in the artists’ faces, dancing and showing how the music moves the body, making the connection between the groove and how it moves the listener. The in-your-face approach was something Young Galaxy couldn’t experience over Skype while Lissvik worked on Shapeshifting. The band has undergone significant changes since their self-titled debut album came out in 2007. Along with new personnel, they have transitioned from a sleepy pop rock band that was shaped by their influences to a confident artist with their own sound. “When we started, we were shaking off our influences. I was really surprised when our (first) record came out, the way it sounded. I thought it sounded a lot like bands that I listened to in the ‘90s. I’ve always wanted to make modern music and I felt like I was sort of throwing back to another era of music,” Ramsay says. The album and how it wasn’t exactly what the band was aiming for. Ramsay was a touring guitarist for Montreal band Stars who were on Toronto label Arts & Crafts. Through that connection, Arts & Crafts heard the record before it was released and the label wanted to release it. This was before the band had played a live show. WINTER 2014 MIXTAPE


PLAY “We had no idea what it was like to interact with a live audience. When it came time to play those songs, we realized there were a lot of things missing in our approach and through the playing of shows we realized that so much of what is powerful about connecting with an audience is the energy you bring to it musically. The first record was a really sleepy, slow, long kind of vibey record and we wanted to inject more energy into it, more immediacy, more danceability into our music,” says Ramsay. The second album, Invisible Republic, saw Young Galaxy leave Art & Crafts in 2009 after not seeing eye to eye about releasing the new album. According to an interview with Exclaim magazine, the debut record ended up losing money for the label so an amicable split made sense. On Invisible Republic Young Galaxy started to move away from a sleepy, slow sound to something with more energy and Catherine McCandless started to take a more prominent role with her vocals. This shift has gradually progressed to the point that McCandless does all the vocals on Ultramarine and has settled into the role of front person. “Catherine, when she began singing with me, she was so shy she had to have me leave the room in order to record. It was a very personal thing for her and that’s why from the first record until now, she sings increasingly more on each record. She’s getting more comfortable with it going a long,” Ramsay says. On the first record, it was almost entirely Ramsay singing.



He’s always had a problematic relationship with his voice, not liking the sound of it or finding anything distinguishing about it. Drinking beers and making jokes about his voice to feel comfortable singing isn’t an ideal situation for a musician. “That’s not a good space to be singing from. That’s the nature of the beast for me, I just don’t like the sound of my own voice whereas Catherine loves to sing. It’s as simple as that.” McCandless and Ramsay are married, making it easier for the two of them to understand and share ideas. “She can convey the ideas regardless. I can write for her and she can write for me. We’re interchangeable creatively that way.” While the delivery of vocals has been changing from album to album, so has the way lyrics are written and the spirit behind them. “Well (the lyrics) used to come from a place of great earnestness. The first record was a very cathartic record for us because Catherine and I personally had undergone some huge changes in our lives. We moved to Montreal, which was this new place, and we had things happen in our lives that damaged us. It was about expressing our hopes and pain in the hopes of righting the wrongs in some ways and pointing to a bittersweet optimism. It was very earnest though, very naive in some ways.” Young Galaxy has since shifted to a utilitarian way of writing, selecting lyrical content not based on meaning, but more so on how the words sound and work with the rhythm. Writing for

Ultramarine, they tried automatic writing for the first time. “One of us would sit listening to the song and sort of mumble or chant sound over it , then the other, Catherine or I, would go back and listen to what the other person had done and try to interpret those lyrics.” An example of this is “Sleepwalk with Me” which has some of Ramsay’s favourite lyrics on the record because of the unconscious feeling they have, a shift away from lyrics in the past that have been too self-conscious. “To me, it’s a more successful record than any of our others in terms of giving more space to the listener to interpret things.” The simplicity in lyrics also matches the simplicity in sound on Ultramarine. In the early days of the band Ramsay would add layer upon layer of sound to make a powerful and bombastic sound. In the search of pure music and the pursuit to do more with less, they’ve dialed back the amount of layers and kept it simple. “The most powerful music is conveyed through the least amount of things happening. It’s certainly true of mixing. When you mix a record, if you have five things happening in a song rather than 50, it’s going to sound a lot bigger and more powerful.” This pursuit of pure music has influenced their live show as well.Young Galaxy want the audience to experience something that they can’t get anywhere else, a show with a special combination of players and musical ideas. They want each live performance to stand

out in the audience members’ mind, whether good or bad. Ramsay says an apathetic memory of one of their concerts is the last thing they want. “I want them to have a sense that what they’ve experienced is singular, that it’s not something you can get elsewhere, that the combination of the players and the ideas musically and the performance are singular, they’re not being influenced necessarily by other things we’ve seen or heard.” “If they take away something other than indifference, then I’m happy. I’d rather fail miserably in peoples’ eyes or blow their minds than be another fucking rock band playing a rock show, because there’s a million of those now every night.”


Q&A with Islands The North American band talks flip flops, Africa and Michael Cera Words by Nicole Feriancek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photos by Scott Blackburn

Islands are an unpredictable, mostly Canadian indie pop band that rose from the ashes of cult favourite 90s Montreal band the Unicorns. Led by founder Nick Thorburn, Islands just released their fifth album, Ski Mask, on Nick’s own music label, Manqué. According to actor Micheal Cera, a friend who appeared in a mockumentary about the band, the album induces the loss of bowel control. “Ski Mask comes out, and people shit their pants. That’s the kind of record. It’s the kind of record people definitely shit their pants.” Islands is a highly variable band – in both musical direction and members. The band has journeyed from synthy sweet pop tunes, to dark, epics songs featuring sweeping orchestration. More than a dozen people have been in the band, and Islands has seen several complete line-up changes, save Nick himself. Currently, Islands is comprised of four members: brothers Evan and Geordie Gordon, and newly acquired drummer Adam Halferty. Mixtape spent an afternoon with Islands. Here’s what they had to say about flip flops, public executions and music videos. Mixtape Magazine: We’re here [at the Atlantica Hotel] looking out at the Willow Tree intersection, beside the Halifax Common. Did you know this

spot is where people were publicly executed, by hanging, a few hundred years ago?” Evan Gordon: Is that humane way to die or is it torture? Geordie Gordon: I think you shit your pants. Nick Thorburn: Whether or not it’s painful, it’s also such a public event, it turns everyone in the town into monsters. It’s the worst. EG: It would probably bring everyone together from miles around – it would be their one trip you make every month – to come see the hanging. Before we get too deep in Halifax history, how did your band come about? NT: Well you can probably just check our Wikipedia page. It’s pretty accurate. How did the current members of the band come together? NT: Evan and Geordie had a band called the Magic and they opened for Islands in 2008 and I liked them so much I asked them to become members. Adam is our new bud that we just met recently. We’ve already proposed for a lifelong marriage to our band. What is your newest album, Ski Mask, trying to say?

NT: I can’t just, there’s no pithy way to summarize what I was trying to say in one clean sentence.

NT: I don’t know – I liked the way it looked, it seemed nasty and dark which is what these songs seem like to me.

Maybe some general themes?

How long have you lived in Los Angeles?

NT: It is a lot of things. It feels trivial to try and sum it up but it’s vague, it’s ambiguous, it’s open to interpretation. It’s just kind of a paranoid thing. Life sucks I guess is the main theme. Life is hard and then you die.

NT: Three years pretty much. I was in New York before that for three years, and then Montreal before that for seven years. So I am 14 years old in music.

What is the picture from the album cover? [It’s a terrifying picture of some living thing screaming, covered in what looks like dripping tar.] NT: The picture is from a 1988 B horror film called Ozone Attack of the Redneck Mutants. I came across the image online and then tracked down the movie and then got in touch with the director, and got the permission to use the image.

What has changed for you musically since you’ve moved to the States? NT: Nothing. I mean, I met Adam, that was a good change. But nothing has changed. Where ever you go there you are, as above, so below.You can put that in quotes because that was sarcastic. Zen or whatever. But yeah. It’s me, or Geordie or Evan. Wherever we are, we make the same music, unaffected by geography. It’s more experience based. What’s living in L.A. like?

So is that some sort of creature? EG:Yeah, it was a normal guy that’s been mutated by the thinning of the ozone, and his face is bubbled and spewing like pink slime I guess.

NT: It’s nice. I like the weather – though I never wear shorts. I’m a pants-only kind of guy. And I hate flip flops. I absolutely loathe them. I don’t think feet should ever be exposed in public.

NT: It’s just nasty. It’s pure nastiness. Why did you pick that?



What if the toes are nicely manicured, with colourful nail polish?

project that created music education programs. That was pretty awesome.

NT: No. It’s never a good thing. I hate everything about flip flips – the way they sit between the toes, the slapping sound they make when you walk… I’m getting uncomfortable just talking about them.

NT: But it seems like a dream now, it seems like it was never really part of our life. It was some kind of malaria dream. Maybe we never left.

Nick lives in L.A., Geordie and Evan live in Toronto (though from Guelph originally). Would you say you guys are a Canadian band or an American band?

NT: It certainly changed me – not in like a profound, new-agey sort of way but it was it was a new experience. It changed as in now we’ve been there and before we hadn’t. But it’s good to have a little more perspective on the rest of the world.

NT: I think we’re a North American band, but we’re Canadian, legally. But I never have really identified as being a Canadian necessarily.

How has that experience changed you?

Why did you start making music? NT: So girls would like me.

What are some of your favourite places you’ve visited on tour? NT: That’s a tough one. I like Cologne, Germany. It’s a fun, kind of magical city and we have a good following there. EG: We went to Africa, to Malawi together this summer, to help with a development



Really? NT: I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. A little bit. What was the first thing you played? NT: A harmonica. I was too old. Too old to be playing a harmonica.

Did it work? Getting girls? NT: No. Just attracted the attention of bullies. If you weren’t making music right now, what would you be doing? NT: Rotting. Decomposing by this point probably. You’re probably already doing that.

music documentary. How did that happen? NT: Our friend Derek Waters is a director in L.A. and a comedian so we wanted to collaborate and just didn’t have any real resources and then that came into our lap. He turned it around in a matter of days. And it made us laugh. It’s all him. And the actors. We just let him do his thing, and then we’ve put it up on our website.

NT: No, I’m just kidding. I’d probably be trying to make movies. I went to film school so that was originally the plan. We’ll see. I live in a town where that’s what people do, so it’s not hard to make that happen.

Who are you listening to right now?

Micheal Cera has worked with you quite a bit, and was in one of your music videos. How do you know him?

NT: He listens to conservative talk radio. I like the new Cass McCombs record. Jim Guthrie’s record’s good. The new Pusha T.

NT: We did an event together in 2006. I was the musical guest and he was the host. It was like a charity event in Los Angeles. We just kind of met backstage and hit it off I guess. You were recently featured in a spoof of a

EG: We listened to the Beach Boys this morning. I don’t listen to – I sound like such a cock to say this, but I don’t listen to music.




Theory of Kinship The twenty-year rotating cast of By Divine Right by Jonathan Briggins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Words .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Evan MacIntyre

Saying the current line-up of By Divine Right is the best is a bold statement from front person and nucleus Jose Miguel Contreras. The band has had a rotating cast of close to 30 band members over 20 years. The current lineup of Geordie Dynes on drums and Alysha Haugen on bass have been touring and recording together for almost two albums. “This may be a first. We actually survived the touring of a record, the release of another record and then the making of another one,” Contreras says. Keeping the same group of musicians together this long is uncharted territory for Contreras. The band’s most recent album Organized Accidents features Contreras and Dynes playing together. They met Haugen halfway through the making of the record. The next By Divine Right record is being mastered and Contreras is demoing songs for another album after that. He hopes to have Dynes and Haugen play on that one as well. “They’re both super positive people and the vibes



are so healing inside the band,” Contreras says of Dynes and Haugen. By Divine Right’s ninth album Organized Accidents carries the melodic, experimental and spontaneous vibe that has always been with the band despite all the changes over the years. “I was just in shock at how much it sounded like By Divine Right considering I’m just so far away from where I was 10 years ago, 15, 20,” Contreras says. Contreras originally made music for himself. He had no ambitions. There were no dreams of being famous or getting signed. Other people liked it so he played shows with a band, which he soon broke up because he thought it sucked. “By Divine Right broke up in 1993, if there was ever a band. Everything that happened after that was me and whoever was around and often nobody was around,” says Contreras. The expansive list of people who have played in By Divine Right include Feist, Brendan Canning (Broken

Social Scene), Loel Campbell (Wintersleep). Contreras isn’t quite certain why he’s had so many people go through the band. In the early days, the Toronto music industry wasn’t interested in By Divine Right, a band led by someone who didn’t look the part and didn’t follow the expectations of the time. “I wasn’t some sexy lead singer with long hair, and it’s 1993 and that’s what I should be doing. We’re not moshing and I’m not kissing ass to Murderecords and Sonic Unyon.” Interest came after the band got a record deal with Squirtgun Records for the release of 1997’s All Hail Discordia. At this point Contreras felt like everybody was his friend in Toronto. He even had people move to Toronto telling him they wanted to be in the band. “I pulled away from a lot of people and most of them became super famous, and I pulled away because it got weird for me and I guess maybe I got signed first and I didn’t enjoy that everyone was my

friend. It freaked me out,” says Contreras. The current lineup came together after drummer Geordie Dynes contacted Contreras saying he heard By Divine Right didn’t have a drummer. Contreras informed Dynes he did in fact have a drummer. When things went sour, Dynes got the call and has been part of the band ever since. Alysha Haugen joined the band having never played bass through an amp before. “The three of us clicked from the first road trip we did,” says Contreras of the current lineups first tour together, opening for Wintersleep. Wintersleep and By Divine Right have a long history. They’ve toured together for years, and Wintersleep’s drummer Loel Campbell was a member of By Divine Right at one point. The Wintersleep consensus of the current By Divine Right lineup: it’s best cast rotation they’ve seen yet. Contreras agrees. “I think right now, my lineup is the best BDR lineup, and that’s saying a lot.”




Best of 2013 Mixtape takes a look at what we’ll remember from 2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Words by Mixtape Staff This year’s Best Of list is a little bit different.You won’t find any numbers declaring an album the ultimate best. You won’t find a list by genre. Instead, Mixtape takes you on a trip across the country, starting at our home base of Atlantic Canada and heading west, ending in The North. We did this to highlight the vibrant music communities across our country, from the Mouthbreathers in Sackville, N.B. to Old Cabin and his friends in Dawson City,Yukon. Sure we didn’t include everything, but we’re confident that the albums listed on the following pages are the cream of the crop of Canadian music in 2013. But let’s keep the discussion going. Tell us on

Twitter (@mixtape_mag) or Facebook ( what we missed. Along with the albums reviewed, here are some other noteworthy events in Canadian music this year. Toronto label Arts & Crafts turned 10. One of the birthday celebrations included label flagship band Broken Social Scene reuniting in June for the label’s Field Trip Festival in Toronto. While many bands formed, a few called it a day. Two Hours Traffic announced this year’s Foolish Blood will be their last album.Vancouver punk pioneers D.O.A. broke up after 33 years together. Fellow

Vancouverites, the beloved Apollo Ghosts, also called it a day in 2013. Ohbijou went on indefinite hiatus for a few reasons including the way the band has been portrayed because of members race, gender and sexuality. This is explained through a letter on the band’s tumblr website ( The Sled Island festival in Calgary was cancelled after the city went into a state of emergency after a massive flood. Bands from all over were stranded and left scrambling to play make up concerts in the area. Fortunately, the festival will be back in 2014.

See more of our “best of ” albums featured in this issue. Ghettosocks - For Your Pretty Things (pg. 25), Arcade Fire - Reflektor (pg. 6), By Divine Right - Organized Accidents (pg. 39), Diana - Perpetual Surrender (pg. 16),Young Galaxy - Ultramarine (pg. 28), Said the Whale - hawaiii (pg. 51)



Godspeed You! Black Emperor won the 2013 Polaris Prize. A representative from the band’s label picked up the award on their behalf and announced the $30,000 worth of prize money would go to fund music education programs in Quebec prisons. The band released a statement talking about the absurdity of the gala with regards to the current economic landscape, competition between bands for a novelty-sized cheque and having a motor company (Toyota) covering the tab of the gala while global warming is happening.

Atlantic Acoumsa - Acousma Acousma is an embodiment of not only P.E.I. punk at the moment, but hardcore punk as a whole. Streaming over 10 minutes of songs full of pure hatred, they waste no time at all on their self-released EP. The musicianship and songwriting displayed is nothing short of phenomenal for the genre at hand, with highly technical drumming and a strong presence of genius guitar work. Acousma represents everything that is right in punk music: solidly structured songs, nihilistic lyrics, and a strong DIY ethic. - Michael McGrath

Ambition - Man of the Year A bold and might we say, ambitious, title for an album, Man of the Year was a standout release from Ambition through the Dropping Science Productions hip hop collective based out of Halifax. The album features production from The Extremities, Relic, Dexter Doolittle and !llmind, vocals from Rich Kidd and Quake and artwork by Ghettosocks for a star-studded Halifax hip hop release. On the track “Superman”, he declares “Clark Kent, Ambeez, one n’ the same” and on this release he indeed is superhuman. - Jonathan Briggins

Aqua Alta - EP1 and EP2 A new supergroup from Halifax, comprised of Jenn Grant, Charles Austin and Graeme Campbell, has quietly and mysteriously built hype for the full-length album out in 2014. They released two EPs to stream online this year as teasers and also made their live debut at Halifax Pop Explosion with a live band rounded out by more prominent Halifax musicians. The dream pop songs drenched in electro synths have us wanting more as we see a new side of Jenn Grant. - Jonathan Briggins

David Myles - In The Nighttime On In The Nighttime, folk master David Myles taps into a couple veins for his most ambitious release. The first disc of the double album features the usual personal and well-crafted songwriting we’ve come to expect from Myles. The songs pack extra punch with backing vocals from the hottest voice in folk music in 2013, the ECMA and JUNO winning Rose Cousins. On the second disc produced by Classified, Myles shows how his cross-genre collaboration has pushed him to create diverse songs that pull in both the folk and hip hop crowd. - Jonathan Briggins

Heaven For Real - Wanton Comprised of brothers Mark and Scott Grundy (Quaker Parents) along with drummer Nathan Doucet, Heaven For Real have declared themselves a “baby jazz” band. The 4-track Wanton EP takes songwriting from the Grundy brothers and the relentless drumming of Doucet and turns them into songs such as “Love Song” that you could fall asleep and have nice dreams to or songs such as “Owner” that would wake you up from a nap. It’s a hazy and beautiful thing. - Jonathan Briggins



More of Atlantic Ryan Hemsworth - Guilt Trips Ryan Hemsworth’s debut LP on Last Gang Records is something very special. Ryan creates a lush atmosphere of layered electronic music, but it’s hard to call it that. He breaks down genre walls with this release, creating a sense of complete independence from any sort of music scene that may try to claim him. It plays like a video-game soundtrack, making a contained world that flows seamlessly from track to track. This is a world that only Ryan and his laptop exist in. It’s a world where only Ryan and his laptop belong. - Michael McGrath

Monomyth - King, Does This Not Please You? (Behold the Power) During Halifax Pop Explosion, Rich Aucoin Tweeted asking when Halifax’s Monomyth is going to open across North America with Mac DeMarco along with the hashtag #greatfits. While nobody retweeted, favourited or replied in total agreement, Aucoin does have a point. From the opening guitar riffs of “Cigarette” to album closer “10 000,” King, Does This Not Please You? (Behold the Power) throws you into a hazy rock and roll dream with infectious guitar hooks. Monomyth are the perfect offering for a North America crowd thirsty for the next big thing. - Jonathan Briggins

The Mouthbreathers - Stone Soup The cleverest EP released in Canada this year is Stone Soup. The songs channel hooky pop-punk along with poppy indie music. It’s almost impossible to listen to “Stone Soup” without cracking a smile. The more you listen to it, the more you appreciate it. The catchy guitar chords and upbeat sound draw you in, then you start to listen to the lyrics and you’ve got the whole thing. Lucy Niles belts out the words “you’re good looking but you’ve got bad manners, so I don’t even care what your favourite band is - I don’t even wanna know.” The Mouthbreathers are certainly one of my favourite bands this year. - Michael McGrath

New Flesh - Feeding Tube Newfoundland’s New Flesh is evil. There’s simply no other way of putting it. As you listen to the band’s EP, you find yourself wondering if this is what the soundtrack to the end of the world would sound like. It bounces between blistering, heavy, darkened punk and harsh noise. The release leaves you with a sense of drowning hopelessness and it’s the perfect feeling to leave you with; afterall, the album is called Feeding Tube and there’s a song called “Stay Negative” on it. - Michael McGrath

Paper Lions - My Friends An album full of specific stories of growing up in a small town on P.E.I. may sound like some inside story that the average listener is separate from. However, on My Friends, the band from Belfast tap into universal themes of friendship, growing up and melancholy as life moves on and changes. Even if you weren’t there with the members of Paper Lions growing up, after a listen to this album, you’ll have the pop rock choruses stuck in your head and will feel like a friend of the band. - Jonathan Briggins



Central Daniel Romano - Come Cry With Me The title is dead give-away of what listeners can expect from the former Attack In Black turned country musician. Romano continues to channel the spirits of country greats Greg Jones and Conway Twitty. The sadness factor gets turned up a couple notches with powerful backing vocals from Dallas Good, Julie Doiron, Misha Bower and Tamara Linderman (The Weather Station). Not all is doom and gloom as “Chicken Bill” and “When I Was Abroad” have some knee-slapping charm. What makes this album so special is the way Romano’s songwriting paints pictures of characters while the twang in his voice along with guitars, lap steel and violin portray the emotions of the stories perfectly. - Jonathan Briggins

Drake - Nothing Was The Same Nothing Was the Same is the perfect progression for Drake. He has come a long way musically and may be one of the biggest and most mainstream rappers in existence right now, popularity justified by the quality of the music he creates. The album has perfect pop sensibilities mixed with perfect rap sensibilities, blending them both together to create a hybrid that at this point is Drake’s trademark sound. On songs like “Worst Behaviour” he channels his rap side, even borrowing line’s from iconic rapper Mase. On songs like “Hold On. We’re Going Home” Drake brings out his pop-star, belting out sweet-nothing melodies. Drake lives in his own world, getting better and smarter with each album. - Michael McGrath

Eons - Acrtic Radio The project of Matt Cully of Toronto collective Bruce Peninsula, Eons channels old-time folk through the ten tunes of Arctic Radio. Cully is joined by Bruce Peninsula bandmate Misha Bower on this album (along with a handful of other guest musicians), leading to some honest and introspective conversational songs that address coming to terms with love, aging and existence. The album was released in 2013, but 1813 would be just as believable. - Jonathan Briggins

Hayden - Us Alone The mysterious Hayden Desser returned with a new eight-song, bare-bones and vulnerable folk-rock album after being relatively unheard from for four years. His first release through the Arts & Crafts label, his first album not on his Hardwood label. Just eight songs in length, Us Alone is easy to embrace in one listen. It’s almost as if Desser doesn’t want to waste a word, a guitar strum, or throw in percussion where none is needed. - Jonathan Briggins

Hooded Fang - Gravez A quick listen to Gravez and you’ll laugh knowing the band was compared to Broken Social Scene in the early days: both are from Toronto and had a bunch of members. Now, the band is a condensed to four people with an even bigger appetite for the lo-fi. Gravez continues the surf-pop tinged garage rock sounds of their previous album Tosta Mista with more restlessness and sloppiness than ever. - Jonathan Briggins



More of Central Kremlin - Drunk in the Gulag Drunk in the Gulag sounds like it came straight from the basement of a punk band from the UK in the early ‘80s. Luckily for us that’s not the case; it’s straight from the depths of Toronto. The sound is certainly a time-warp to earlier days in punk, with a very raw production and straightforward sound but that’s part of the reason why the album is so great. They capture a sense of hopelessness, especially on tracks like “No Hope For You” where the words “tomorrow’s gone/ no hope for you” are belted out in a menacing manner. - Michael McGrath

Les soeurs Boulay - Le Poids Des Confettis Les soeurs Boulay capped off a high-flying year by winning the “Félix” for Best Folk Album of the Year at the Quebec music scene’s ADISQ awards in November. The sister act from the Gaspé region have been gaining ground not just in their native Quebec but popping up in the English Canadian music scene with a longlist Polaris nomination. Their songs offer a light-touch modern twist on traditional folk, and with harmonies so smooth you’d think they’d been at it together their whole lives. If you speak french, you’ll also enjoy their tight songwriting (which scored them a 2013 SOCAN Songwriting Prize nomination). Evelyn Hornbeck

New Swears - Funny Isn’t Real New Swears’s Funny Isn’t Real is a party. It’s a party that all of Canada is invited to, and the beer is free, and you’re not allowed in unless you’re already drunk. The album is full of jangly power-pop and punk rock, with insanely catchy hooks you find yourself repeating all day until you go crazy. New Swears don’t give a shit about anything, and that comes through full force on Funny Isn’t Real. It’s immature (with lyrics like “just cus I let you do coke off my John doesn’t mean I wanna meet your mom”) but also suspiciously smart, like a modern-day drunk Beach Boys who listened to way too much punk and garage rock. - Michael McGrath

Pick a Piper - Pick a Piper Brad Weber may be best known for his work drumming with Caribou, but Pick A Piper is where he really shines. The band is a collaborative project by Weber where he gets to write songs and perform with a bunch of talented people. The self-titled debut features mind-numbing experimental electronica pop songs with contributions from members of Braids, Born Ruffians and Ruby Suns. The songs flow over a landscape that swells between chaos and remarkable constraint. - Jonathan Briggins

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan - Uzu On Uzu, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan defy any distinct genre wall you could box them in with an album that weaves in and out of different sounds. It’s a pleasant experience listening through this album start to finish, as it brings you through so many different genres and influences. Some songs bring out an Opera-esque feel, some songs channel metal influences, some are straight up prog-rock, and some are just ambient vocal tracks. This is an album that you have listen to entirely at once to get the full experience. It can’t be judged on a single track. - Michael McGrath



Prairies Close Talker - Timbers Taking the listener on a musical journey that swings between light-hearted fun with tunes like “By The Lake” and “The West Was Won” to darker themes as explored in “Creature,” Timbers is an album that gets under your skin and stays there. The album consistently delivers with intricate rhythm structures, focusing heavily on well crafted and well paired drum and guitar lines, while the vocals range from haunting to sharp and are accentuated with simplistic harmonies. From start to finish, Timbers is a well-rounded album demonstrating this new, young band’s ability to write catchy tunes and thoughtful lyrics. - Jane Caulfield

The Deep Dark Woods - Jubilee At first listen, Jubilee seems to be the opposite of jubilus. But as you listen your way through it, you begin to realize that the Saskatoon folk favourites have taken musical story-telling to the next level. Blanketing country-esque guitar licks and simple lyrics with dense reverb or wispy pedal-steel, the album is a series of stories that you’d expect to hear from a solitary cowboy nursing a broken heart. Once you hit the fifth track, “Gonna Have A Jubilee” it becomes clear this story is about the more somber parts of a jubilee-gone-wrong. Jubilee pulls on your heartstrings in all the right ways making it the perfect match for a long, meandering drive across this country’s romantically tragic flatlands. - Jane Caulfield

Imaginary Cities - Fall of Romance Fall of Romance opens with a song that builds into a massive crescendo of a layered mix of traditional sounds, such as piano, and electronic accents - a kind of musical blend for which this Winnipeg band is known. Using piano and digital sounds for well-timed flourishes, the album features tunes that accentuate lead-singer Marti Sarbit’s unique voice in a captivating way. While each song highlights the band’s ability to play with phrasing and instrumentation, it’s still pretty easy to sing along with each song on the album, making it a key piece to anyone’s party collection. - Jane Caulfield

Polar Bear - The Winter At Your Ears The Winter At Your Ears is a perfectly titled album. The Saskatoon post-rock band has created the perfect soundtrack to the Canadian days when the fall starts turning into winter. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to close your eyes and get lost; the kind of music that may put you to sleep (in the best possible way) during your morning commute. It’s soft and layered, with very quiet vocals. The band shows masterful song-writing with insanely confident buildups that come smashing down in the most satisfying of ways. If this band keeps it up, they could sit next to other post-rock acts like Explosions in the Sky. - Michael McGrath

Royal Canoe - Today We’re Believers Royal Canoe don’t bother following a normal trajectory on Today We’re Believers. On “Bathtubs”, you have a lovely pop song with an instantly sing-alongable chorus and strings that hit the sweet spot. Towards the end of the album, the distorted electronica of “Light” have you asking how you got here and where Royal Canoe are going. The variety show on this album keep it unpredictable and exciting, although we’ll forgive you if you skip through to your favourite tracks on this one. - Jonathan Briggins



More of Prairies Shooting Guns - Brotherhood of the Ram Delivering punched-out guitar riffs with explosive cymbal crashes Brotherhood of the Ram is the fourth album heavy psych-rock instrumentalists from Saskatoon. Building upon the band’s 2012 Polaris nominated Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976, Shooting Guns adds crispy organ elements, laid back bass lines and calculated phrasing. This album is psychedelic rock for this century and has an uncanny knack for transcending listeners to a higher plane of mental musical existence. - Jane Caulfield

Shotgun Jimmie - Everything, Everything While this album was recorded in a secluded cabin in Lake Clementi, Manitoba, this album doesn’t follow the secluded-cabin stereotype of sad songs written alone in the cold that make you want to cry. Thanks Bon Iver.Yes, heartache and loneliness cover the songs, but Shotgun Jimmie always of has a way of making you smile regardless of subject matter. The album is a collage of songs, nick nacks thrown together under the Everything, Everything title. Grab some dessert juice, lime and vermouth and enjoy. - Jonathan Briggins

The Hisses - Anhedonia Anhedonia is cinematic. This Winnipeg trio merges punk and rock and roll with pulsating melodies and strong but whimsical vocals into nine entrancing tracks. The songs feature high pitched guitar riffs that ring a little longer than you expect and eerie pedal effects. In fact, it sounds as if it was written to be the soundtrack of a David Lynch movie and all it’s weird scenes with hidden meanings, including the ones where the main characters are randomly eating pie. - Jane Caulfield

Weak Ends - Eyes of the World Eyes of the World is without a doubt one of the most powerful punk releases to come out of the prairies this year. It consists of 15 blazing-fast hardcore punk songs that come shooting out at you like a bullet from the barrel of a shotgun. There’s not a single second to think when you listen to this album, the guitars crash over every thought you might be able to form while listening. What tops it all off is the vocalist who yells directly at you with steaming anger and distorted vocals leaving you wondering what exactly it is that they put in the water in the prairies that could inspire such a demonic voice? - Michael McGrath

Young Benjamins - Less Argue The latest from this Saskatoon band is like a musical exploration of what it’s like to be a lost and confused 20-something. While the album opens with the haunting “The Colonial Pt. 1 (You’re Only Twenty)” the band turns up the excitement factor launching into the heavily layered “Out There (Into The Wild)”. From there, the album is a steady pace of crescendos, billowy fiddle lines, expressive harmonies and insightful lyrics. Less Argue is the perfect soundtrack to one of those benders where you drink until you regret it and run the full gamut of human emotion only to head home alone and pleasantly happy with yourself. - Jane Caulfield



West Braids - Flourish // Perish Bit by bit, Braids build a digital world on Flourish // Perish. As the songs move forward, new aspects of the digital landscape are brought into focus. A little extra percussion here, manipulated vocals there and synths reflecting the sounds of nature in a computerized way. Braids takes their time, letting the songs grow and expand at a slow pace, unconcerned about the limits of radio singles or popular music. On their previous album Native Speaker, Braids seemed like they were trying too hard at times. Flourish // Perish is an intentional release always grounded in excitement and never boredom. - Jonathan Briggins

The Courtneys - The Courtneys It’s always summer when this record from Vancouver’s The Courtneys is spinning. The lo-fi pop jams radiate warmth and the feelings of wanting to hang out with friends, not be broke and eat more pizza. The songs sound effortless, as if the songs have always been floating around, just waiting for somebody to grab them from the summer breeze and lay them down with buzzing bass lines and back and forth vocals. - Jonathan Briggins

The Hisses - Anhedonia Anhedonia is cinematic. This Winnipeg trio merges punk and rock and roll with pulsating melodies and strong but whimsical vocals into nine entrancing tracks. The songs feature high pitched guitar riffs that ring a little longer than you expect and eerie pedal effects. In fact, it sounds as if it was written to be the soundtrack of a David Lynch movie and all it’s weird scenes with hidden meanings, including the ones where the main characters are randomly eating pie. - Jane Caulfield

Dead Soft - Teen Fiction Teen Fiction is a short and sweet grunge hitter. It’s packed full of indie-pop hooks and distorted, fuzzy moments of heaviness. It sounds like hazy summer nights when you were a teenager; all upbeat and fun with the crashing moments of reality laced throughout. This is the kind of music that almost everyone can get behind. It’s accessible and has moments that most everyone can enjoy. It has those catchy licks, it has heavy guitar, it has heavily grunge influenced lead vocals with sweet and sugary backing melodies. It’s almost like an Oreo, it has that hard outer shell and a sweet and delicate centre. Some people like the outer shell more, some people like the centre more, but we all just love Oreos. - Michael McGrath

Jay Arner - Jay Arner The term debut when talking about Jay Arner’s self-titled album is greatly misleading. Arner has been making music since high school and has been a big part of the Vancouver music scene both as a producer and band member. The self-titled album is particularly impressive to listen to knowing Arner creates a full band sound himself, recording every instrument in his home studio. The personal album has the sounds of a big band, but really, it’s just a shy musical genius emerging and taking the spotlight for a moment. - Jonathan Briggins



More of West Shad - Flying Colours Yes, Drake gets all the rap headlines in Canada, and Shad knows his place in the rap game as shown on Flying Colours. “I got no problem with Drizzy of course. I’m not vex, I can’t cop what Drizzy affords” Shad spits on his epic album-closer “Epilogue: Long Jawn”. On Flying Colours, Shad shows that he’s one of the best, which he knows but doesn’t have to brag about. His smart lyrics and freestyles do all the talking. He also brings in some impressive friends from outside the hip hop genre with guest appearances from Lisa Lobsigner (Broken Social Scene) and Lights. He’s connected and well-rounded and Flying Colours doesn’t try too hard to prove anything. - Jonathan Briggins

Sisyphus - Demo Sisyphus is a new band from Vancouver releasing their first album in October. The recording sounds like it may have been recorded live off the floor in one take in someone’s basement, but that’s just the way it should sound. It has heavy influence from late ‘80s and early ‘90s Washington, DC punk with dashes of math-rock thrown in. Sisyphus could be a band you hear about a year from now, or they could fizzle out. Regardless, this release is one of the coolest things to come out of the west coast this year. - Michael McGrath

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob Tegan and Sara have been a staple in the Canadian indie scene for the quite a while now, but with Heartthrob, they’ve exploded to the top of the charts, peaking at number three on the Billboard top 200 chart. We’re talking joining Taylor Swift on stage in Los Angeles to perform the single “Closer” big. On this Heartthrob, the Canadian twin sisters have an album that is chock full of songs built for the radio, arenas, dance clubs and your bedroom. They’re catchy, danceable and have lyrics that are just as relatable as the early days. - Jonathan Briggins

Viet Cong - Cassette Viet Cong’s Cassette is a relaxing and somewhat low-key release. The album comes at you in waves, with maybe it’s most upbeat track, “Throw It Away,” coming first. From there, the release breaks down into fuzzier and more dreamlike lo-fi, post-punk songs. It almost sounds like it consists of different bands, with the songs varying in style as the cassette progresses from track-to-track. But one thing remains through this all, and that is that it’s full of genius post-punk songwriting.Viet Cong has two members from adored, and now defunct band, Women, but you shouldn’t compare the two.Viet Cong stands on it’s own two legs with vigor and independence. There’s a great future in store for Viet Cong. - Michael McGrath

We Are the City - Violent The complicated and vibrant sounds of Violent sees an unleashed version of We Are the City, an album that is braver and more confrontational than previous releases. The songs are filled with themes of jealousy, selfishness, friendship, love and religion. The instrumentation paired with these themes truly express the emotion behind each lyric, nearly exploding when someone doesn’t do what you want them to on “King David” or the synth soaked sadness of “Friends Hurt.” Violent sounds important, as if sharing these songs is necessary for sanity and survival. - Jonathan Briggins



North Broken Deer - Polaraura It doesn’t make sense to listen Polaraura while checking Facebook on a computer or while multitasking. The album commands complete attention or else you’ll miss out on the ambient beauty of this recording. Recorded in a cabin outside of Whitehorse,Yukon by Halifax’s Lindsay Dobbin, this album pulls in the sounds of the wilderness and captures them on tape. Polaraura is a journey that can only be experienced if you’re willing to follow the path into the unknown. - Jonathan Briggins

Old Cabin - Old Cabin The secret is out. Dawson City’s Old Cabin, a pseudonym of Jona Barr, has arrived with his first full-length album. The folk songs are full of life as secrets are shared and tales are spun. The album pulls in members of Barr’s hometown band giving this album a communal feel and not one of isolation as the pseudonym and location of the artist may suggest. These aren’t boring and predictable folk songs. Rays of warmth in the vocals and the poppy piano power great energy throughout the recording. - Jonathan Briggins


Riding the Swell A successful 2013 propels Said The Whale through a major tour Words by Jen Ochej . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Scott Blackburn

Vancouver’s Said The Whale, JUNO Award winners for New Group Of the Year (2011), have been on a steady upward climb. It’s been a banner year for the band, whose fourth studio album, hawaiii, was released to great public and critical acclaim (including a review in Mixtape Magazine, Fall 2013). That upward climb, of course, hasn’t come without a great deal of hard work.Years of experience, both on the road and off, have brought Said The Whale to a place of keen self-awareness about whence they come, and where they’re going. “I think we’re better writers [than we were seven years ago]. We’re always trying to improve our songwriting and our craft,” reflects Tyler Bancroft, who, along with Ben Worcester, is one of the band’s main songwriters. “We’re better at touring; we know how to not get sick all the time and how to stay happy and healthy on the road. Just a whole butt-load of experience makes things easier and keeps the machine rolling along.” That machine is rolling along at a constant clip these days, with Bancroft and Worcester’s songwriting brought to life in the



studio and onstage with fellow bandmates Spencer Schoening (drums), Jaycelyn Brown (keys), and Nathan Shaw (bass). With three studio albums under their belts, the band decided to take a new approach to recording hawaiii, allowing themselves more time and freedom to focus on, and devote energy and passion to, each song in its own right. “[Hawaiii] was recorded differently from our last records. Instead of doing a big two- or three-month block of time, we did it in separate sessions where we focused on one or two, or sometimes three songs at a time,” explains Bancroft. “It was great because we only had to focus on a very small amount of material in each session, so it allowed us to flesh out all the ideas we had for that song and really help each one reach its potential.” Produced by Tom Dobrzanski (We Are the City, the Zolas) at Monarch Studios in Vancouver, hawaiii covers a great deal of stylistic and thematic ground in its thirty-five minutes, a feat that the band attributes to the slower, song-by-song approach taken to recording, and which has allowed for the entire album to be played at each concert on their cross-Canada

release tour. “We’re having an awesome time playing them live. We’re able to play every single song off the new album, as well as make half the set older material,” Bancroft enthuses. “It’s a very diverse record, so it enables us to flex our muscles in all different genres and aspects of music. That’s what’s been so fun about playing it live. It’s such a spectrum of vibe and genre and tempo and all that sort of thing; the songs fit in really well throughout the set and it creates a nice pace in the show.” Their fall album release tour, cross-Canada in the truest sense, comprised several stops of particular excitement including a first-ever show in Kingston, Ont. which was the first of the tour to sell out, and a two-show night in St. John’s, N.L., which allowed for an earlier all-ages crowd and a later 19 plus concert. “St. John’s is one of the coolest cities in Canada, I think. And it’s great because it’s not [often] a regular tour stop on a cross-Canada tour, so there’s a great sense of appreciation from concertgoers when a band will make the effort to go there,” explains Bancroft. “Yeah, it’s really cool, and they’ve got some fish and chips that will

blow your mind.” Beyond our borders, other highlights of Said The Whale’s year included some extensive touring through the United States and a particularly enjoyable sojourn in Austin, Texas for the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) conference. “SXSW was great. We rented a Pilates studio with a band called The Belle Game and a band called Hey Ocean!, both from Vancouver. It was the first time we’d stayed right downtown in the heart of things but it was amazing,” recalls Bancroft fondly. “You’re just on your feet all day long, and when the place that you’re staying is a half-hour drive away, you don’t have a chance to go back and have a nap — but having a place downtown, we would just go back to this Pilates studio, just chill out and have a little mid-day nap and totally rejuvenate and be able to stay out late.” Pilates studios and midday naps now but a distant memory, Said The Whale is looking forward to taking hawaiii as far as it will go, before planning the next record. With the attention and the enthusiasm of fans in 2013, there is little doubt that this album will serve as a springboard into a successful and busy 2014.


Story From An Artist David Myles shares his long friendship with Canadian opera singer Measha Brueggergosman Words by David Myles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photos by Eric Matheson

I’ve known Measha since I was a kid. Our parents knew each other. From an early age, I remember hearing her sing. She was amazing. It was while she was in high school, however, that I got to know her better. My dad directed the musicals at Fredericton High School. And, of course, Measha was the perfect lead for those shows: huge stage presence and an unbelievable ability to sing. Meanwhile, my older brother, Sean, left Canada in Grade 11 and moved to Switzerland on a Rotary Exchange. That meant that my brother went to live with a Swiss family, and a member of their family came and lived with us. His name was Markus. 53


He was a pretty quiet guy and we got along well. For that year, he was like a member of our family. Over the year, he made more and more friends and eventually met Measha. Measha was, even then, a star. An amazing personality that drew people’s attention no matter where she was. She was funny, loud, dramatic, the whole thing. Markus was subdued, quiet, fairly serious and not particularly prone to emotional ups and downs. I don’t think many people saw it coming, but it turned out to be the perfect match. They fell in love and have been married for years now. A beautiful thing. Measha, Markus and I have stayed in touch over the years. When I started writing

and playing music, Measha took a keen interest in what I was doing. She has been super supportive from the very beginning. It’s meant a lot. So when she decided to branch out of the opera world and make a different kind of record, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the project. Measha wanted to write a song together. She had never done it before and I had very little experience co-writing. She had come up with a number of different lyrical ideas for songs, and I picked something and started working with it. The song came together super-quick (which for me is usually the sign of a good song). I was so pumped. It was an R&B duet called “Whole

To My Half.” It even had a key change! A move I’d always wanted to include in a song. This was the perfect chance. A power ballad with a power singer. I was scared to death to sing it with her but she kind of forces you to just go for it. We sang into the same mic and recorded it live. No headphones, just lettin’er rip. It was so much fun. And I think I probably sang better at that moment than I ever had in my life. She really brought the best out of me. Since then we’ve had a blast performing the song. Whenever we find ourselves in the same city at the same time we always find a way to whip it out.


On Location Erin Costelo uses a new formula for her first video Words by Nicole Feriancek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Photo by Meghan Tansey Whitton

“Quiet please! We are rolling!” This is the set of Erin Costelo’s new music video, for the song “Give a Little,” off her 2012 album Can Get Over. Here, inside an open concept, architectural wonder of a house, hugging the ocean in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, the party starts and stops. Over. And over. Costelo’s fingers fly on the piano and dozens of 60s era beatniks sway to the music, but her trademark smokey velvet voice sounds more like a chipmunk. Her voice, which is being played at double speed, will be returned to it’s normal timbre during editing, when the footage is slowed down, so the party looks like it’s happening in slow motion. “I’ve never done a video before, partly because it’s expensive, but also because I was always more motivated to

just make more music,” says Costelo. A year ago filmmaker Scott Simpson came to her with an unconventional collaborative idea, and a new formula for music videos was born. The “Give a Little” video is not just about Costelo. Five artists were involved; an architect (Omar Ghandi), a jeweler (Tori Amos of Tori XO ), a fashion curating duo (Jessy Lacourciere and Rachael Grant), as well as Costelo and Simpson. “We weren’t trying to make an advertisement, or a living catalogue -- the whole idea was to create a single piece of art that captures a feeling, that may ultimately draw viewers to these brands, not to specific products,” says Simpson. Writer, editor, director Simpson, who has worked on everything from scientific

documentaries in the Arctic to dramatic films, says tapping into the power of collaboration resulted in a high quality product that would never have been possible alone, both creatively and financially. The video was paid for by a Pledge music crowdfunding campaign. Each of the five artists offered rewards for donations, from piano lessons to jewelry, to tailoring. They raised $10,000. “Maybe this is a new way of getting video content for people who otherwise would never be able to afford it -- the small businesses, artists and craftspeople, who could immensely benefit from having an online video presence,” says Simpson. They picked the third track off Costelo’s new retro inspired album. “‘Give a Little’ most fit the theme that Scott had in mind, and it felt kind of

cinematic too,” says Costelo. “It has sweeping strings and background singers and so it felt like it could be grand. And this house kind of demands it.” Costelo demands the same grandeur. The Maritime power house of soul and sweetness, is a combination of retro sensibilities, modern ideas and drifting melodies. Her newest album has received warranted acclaim, and she is hitting her stride as a singer songwriter. And maybe as a video artist. “For my first one, I feel pretty spoiled, starting at the top. I mean when am I ever going to be able to shoot another video like this?,” she says with a laugh. The video will be released in the new year. Keep your eyes peeled to see the luxurious beatnik party, and try to spot Mixtape’s own Nicole Feriancek, who was an extra in the video. WINTER 2014 MIXTAPE



Mixtips How to turn your show into an art project with HSY and Doomsquad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Words . . . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. & Photo by Jonathan Briggins

As I stepped into One Block Barbershop on a cold and wet rainy Sunday night in Halifax, I was greeted by a flickering television screen with a threatening command: “Please take off your shoes ... or else.” A collection of shoes rested outside the entrance of a maze of white sheets with video projections as abrasive and strange music surrounded me, coming through the sheets from all directions. No musicians could be seen, only shadows. The maze leads to a common space where people relax, lying down on pillows, drinking beer and soaking in the music. Blanket Fort(e) is an art and music installation created by the gloomy electronic Doomsquad, from Montreal and Toronto made up of three siblings, and sludge punkers HSY (pronounced hussy), a

four-piece band from Toronto. Both are bands that break up their touring routine with art installations and performances that provide a whole new experience for both performer and listener. “I feel like at a festival people get really burnt out from going to shows and even playing a lot of shows. Being on tour you can get burnt out and it’s nice to have a space that feels a little more relaxed where everyone can kind of do whatever the fuck they want,” says Anna Mayberry, guitarist and vocalist of HSY. Playing in such a strange setting allows artists to explore instruments they are familiar with as well as experiment with newer instruments in a safe environment where nobody can see if you mess up. “If there’s an instrument that maybe you haven’t

mastered or you’ve never played and you want to try it, this is the perfect opportunity for that,” says Doomsquad keyboardist and vocalist Jaclyn Blumas. Besides giving the musicians a chance to try new things, Blanket Fort(e) is an experiment between spaces and music. “We’re seeing how music is alternating the consistency of this space. The space doesn’t change, but it feels like it does. The videos are on a consistent loop without any context or narrative and then suddenly the music is put behind it and gives it some meaning,” says Doomsquad beats master, guitarist and vocalist Trevor Bulmas. This isn’t the first art performance project by Doomsquad. Last year in Montreal they created

Experiments in Modern Primitism. The performance involved movement by the band’s bodies being fed through a computer algorithm to create music. The ambitious band says to go for it when trying to create an show in an alternative space. Finding an accommodating space can be difficult but it is critical for an art installation to be successful. “Just do it. Try a bunch of different things. Some won’t work and some will,” Jaclyn says, “and collaborate with everyone.You can’t just walk into a space and think it’s your idea and you run the ship now.” For Blanke Fort(e) in Halifax, members of local band Crosss played with both bands off and on throughout the night. The bands plan on taking the art installation to other cities in the future. WINTER 2014 MIXTAPE



Dine with an Artist Breaking bread with Shooting Guns drummer Jim Ginther . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Words . ................................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. & Photo by Jane Caulfield

It’s five minutes to noon on a Thursday in November, and Shooting Guns drummer Jim Ginther and I tucked into the only booth at Amigos Cantina in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Mexican restaurant is awash with sunlight, which is a huge change from the dimly lit space the place becomes when it transforms into one of the city’s most beloved venues for live music. It’s also where five-piece Shooting Guns played their first-ever live performance and one of Ginther’s favourite places to eat in Saskatoon. “It’s so, so reliable... it’s like an old friend that never gets old,” says Ginther as he pushes the menu aside without opening it. “I’m getting the double grilled quesadilla. It’s one of my favourites.” Sipping on coffee, Ginther describes the band’s tour-diet 57 MIXTAPE


as a smorgasbord of regional favourites – and, of course, BBQ’d meats. “Halifax has the best donair, by far, in the country… In Toronto, everything’s cheap and it’s good so you just kind of have at it. Of course you have to hit the sushi when you’re in Vancouver. And then, if you’re ever in Calgary, The Palamino is the spot to go,” says Ginther. “We Jam at Keith’s (guitarist) and Jay’s (bassist) place and they’re phenomenal cooks. So when the BBQ’s on, we’re all having a good time,” says Ginther before sipping more coffee. When the food arrives Ginther examines his utensils then picks up a triangle of quesadilla smothered in a homemade mole and garlic sauce with his hands. “A hot tip for any band driving through western Canada – make sure you stop in

Vermilion Bay. It’s a tiny town; just on the highway. It’s got a gas station and one restaurant. That restaurant is called Busters BBQ and it’s amazing,” says the always-smiling Ginther, who has at this point switched from coffee to beer. But, as Ginther mentions, the tour lifestyle can take its toll on your body if you aren’t careful. “If the body has a clutch, you’re riding it pretty hard, you know? When you’re in your twenties you can eat and live like a crackhead and your body’s like “That’s fine bro, keep it up!” But after touring for a while and getting older, my body’s told me, pretty bluntly, ‘No.’” Having signed with Easy Rider Records in the U.S., starting their own label Pre-Rock Records, and selling all 300 vinyl copies of their latest album Brotherhood of the

Ram within two weeks of the album release, the band has had an interesting year. According to Ginther, they aren’t about to slow down. “This band has already exceeded my expectations. I mean, it would be amazing to not have to have day jobs, but either way, we’re not going to stop what we do. We’re always just pumped when people are into what we’re doing… we really try to let our fans know how much we appreciate them,” Ginther says. The band is working on plans to record and release a compilation album on Pre-Rock that will feature bands they have played with over the years such as The Pack A.D., Bison B.C., Ketamines and Biblical. To hear what Shooting Guns has been up to recently, download Brotherhood of the Ram for free on their website.

On the Spot Our favourite artists, their favourite albums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Words . . .................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. & Photo by Emma Cochrane

Who Hannah Georgas Favourite Album Portishead, Dummy Release Date 1994 “Portishead was kind of one of the first bands that I was like… taken away with. I used to drive around a lot in my parents’ van listening to this record and I just remember a lot of wintertime spent driving to Tim Hortons listening to the Dummy record and just being captivated by the voice and by the sonics and the elements of this record are pretty breathtaking.”



Profile for Mixtape Magazine

Mixtape Magazine - Winter 2013 Edition  

In this issue Mixtape's editors take readers on a cross-country tour through the Best of 2013 as we hop from province to province looking ba...

Mixtape Magazine - Winter 2013 Edition  

In this issue Mixtape's editors take readers on a cross-country tour through the Best of 2013 as we hop from province to province looking ba...


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