Living in the suburbs of Toronto has always created an air of enchantment around the city I grew up in. North York, the area I’m technically from, counts itself as part of the Greater Toronto Area, but the distinct disconnect I felt growing up transformed downtown Toronto into a fantasized world within my reach a.k.a. a subway ride away.
When I finally got around to figuring out what to do with my life, I became fixated on the Toronto music scene and was overwhelmed with a desire to promote it in any way I can. I guess I could’ve easily become a publicist or a show promoter (two things I have indeed tried), but my main medium of fangirling and supporting local acts was through writing and blogging.
It is without a doubt that my love of discovering Toronto bands was the passion that fueled the beginning of my music writing career. Obsessively following blogs like Chromewaves and For the Records, buying every issue of Chart Magazine and picking up free copies of Exclaim! Magazine fed me all the information I needed to know about up-and-coming artists like Woodhands, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Forest City Lovers and The Bicycles.
Blogging on my own, for myself, allowed me the freedom to shine the spotlight on any band I was interested in at the time and my end goal was easy: to let everyone know just how great Toronto and its bands were. I had just caught the tail end of Arts & Crafts, Paper Bag Records and Last Gang’s inceptions, all labels that got off the ground in the early 2000’s and seeing that rising buzz is not unlike the roaring pride Canadians feel watching the Olympics right now.
Admittedly, as I began writing for other publications and working under real editors, I saw the limitations. I would pitch bands like the Wilderness of Manitoba to a big American website and get responses telling me that they’re simply not a “big enough act.” Fair. Totally fair. But how do I get these bands out there, beyond my blog’s audience? More and more, I found myself compromising my actual interests for paid work, offering up interviews with Carly Rae Jepsen instead and aiming bigger in order to get the jobs. Note: I actually love Carly Rae Jepsen, but that’s just an example of the calibre of artist I have to pitch to get people’s attention sometimes. This also isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten a few acts through in my pitches. Nothing made me prouder than profiling DIANA in Nylon Magazine last year or squeezing in a track review of Alvvays on Pitchfork. It is possible, but the fight is far uphill and sometimes discourages me and my belief in my city’s scene compared to more notable ones like New York or London.
Not to just blame the new places I wrote for, I also became less enchanted with the Toronto music scene in recent years. I went to less shows, I felt less interested in going to the Horseshoe on Tuesday nights, checking out Dan Burke’s carefully curated lineups at the Silver Dollar and Wavelength’s experimental new bets every week/month. There were less bands I felt personally obliged to champion (champion in the supportive sense, not the “I KNEW THEM BEFORE THEY WERE P4K COOL” champion). I found my musical interests straying away from the T-Dot. With the exception of Drake, of course. DUH.
But something’s been happening in the past year in Toronto that’s got me buzzing with excitement again: The Beverleys, Weaves, Alvvays, Lowell, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, Ark Analog, Most People, Timber Timbre — I LOVE ALL OF THESE BANDS SO MUCH AND CAPS MIGHT BE THE ONLY WAY I CAN DESCRIBE THEM NOW WITHOUT MY HEART BURSTING OUT OF MY CHEST.
Or, in other words, I’m feeling a reignited love for the city and its exports. I made it a point to get out of bed, put on pants and actually pay money to see Alvvays, Weaves and Most People recently and it was totally worth it.
The fact that I ever felt any doubt towards my city and its music scene was utterly silly and I know now more than ever that Toronto possesses one of the world’s best music scenes. And if you feel that way about your local music scene, you have all the right in the world to believe that yours should be fairly represented as well. Just because something doesn’t make it onto a worldwide publication shouldn’t downgrade the greatness of the music you truly love. It’s music, shit’s always subjective.
Of course I will pitch every one of these artists to the sites and magazines I write for, but if they don’t accept them, that won’t stop me from spreading the love. That’s why we all have Twitter. So let’s all share our faves and bask in the glory of each other’s music scenes!
EXCUSE ME, I’M GONNA RUN UP AND DOWN QUEEN STREET WITH A BOOMBOX BLASTING THE NEW WEAVES EP NOW.
I don’t understand how people can consistently update their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram AND Tumblr. I can barely slurp my soup while watching The Taste. It’s true, I have actually spilled soup in bed before. Note to self: improve multitasking skills, find easier foods to eat in bed while watching TV.
Anyway, here’s a list of some stuff I’ve done so far this year writing-wise (if you wanna hear more about my Food Network obsession, I’m actually cooking up a food TV blog which will hopefully be on its way real soon!):
- I started writing for Pitchfork late last year, just the odd track review here and there. You can check out what I’ve done so far on my contributor page!
- I interviewed Katy B for the latest issue of Exclaim! Magazine. The feature will be online soon if you can’t pick up a copy. Here’s a little news piece that accompanies the interview/album stream: http://exclaim.ca/News/katy_b_talks_hybrid_nature_of_little_red_streams_album_on_exclaimca
- While we’re at it: if you can still find an old issue of Exclaim!, I wrote the last cover story of 2013 for them on one of my favourite bands last year, Haim (read here).
- I have a terrifyingly thorough knowledge of late ’90s/early 2000’s Canadian pop music so it was a tremendous joy to interview Trevor Guthrie of SoulDecision fame for Noisey Canada (read here).
- I talked to Ryan Hemsworth about Millennials for Huffington Post Music Canada — read here.
- Still reppin’ the Much blog full-time so if you’re ever wondering where I am on a daily basis (because you totally are…right?), I’m cranking out stuff HERE.
No matter how much or how little I write every year, I am left feeling incredibly proud of all the work I’ve accomplished so I’m definitely looking forward to another year of writing. And if you’re a fellow writer, go ahead and high five/pat yourself on the back every time you publish something be it a blog or real article — you put in the time and effort into a piece of work that you should feel nothing but proud of! #YDI
My pal Sarah sent me this video a long time ago but I was an asshole and only got around to checking out this Foxtrott cover of The Smiths last week. It’s been the only thing I’ve listened to on repeat all weekend.