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Five Sea to Sky bands handpicked for ‘band bootcamp’

Arts Whistler’s Creative Catalyst kicks off this week 
Whistler band Introduce Wolves are one of five musical acts chosen for Arts Whistler’s Creative Catalyst program. photo submitted

Five Sea to Sky music acts are heading to band bootcamp.

Selected from the performers who took part in Arts Whistler’s online Hear and Now music series, the performers will get a chance to take their music, performance, promotion, and business skills to the next level as part of the program, called Creative Catalyst. 

“It’s been great to get the team together,” says Mo Douglas, executive director of Arts Whistler. “The goal was to get as many creative professionals together as possible.”

To that end, a wide range of creative professionals are on tap to host sessions as part of the three-phase program. 

The first phase will be a professional development series with industry professionals including: Jess Robson talking about promotional writing; Ira Pettle on performance and improv skills; Scott McPhee, technical knowledge and stage readiness; Kristen Robinson, performer professionalism and producer expectations; Joanne Setterington, music publicity and promotional techniques; Michelle Leroux, social media and marketing; Sandee Bathgate, addressing the business of music business; and Canadian alt-rock duo Dear Rouge, Drew and Danielle McTaggart. 

“[We’re] doing an evening with Dear Rouge to talk about audience engagement and how to build rapport—everything from performing to managing yourself, a bit about songwriting and inspiration, their path. They’ve been self-made,” Douglas says. 

Phase 2, meanwhile, dubbed the “media kit creation,” will offer each band a consultation with Whistler stylist Jessie McNaught to help them with their visual aesthetic before a photo shoot with local photographer Logan Swayze. 

“It becomes more about who you are [rather than] the clothes and what you wear—it says more to the audience,” Douglas adds. 

Finally, the third phase will be live showcases at the Maury Young Arts Centre where the bands can demonstrate all they’ve learned. Public health order-pending, a small live audience could be invited in, alongside a livestream of the show. 

“Everybody working on this is excited about that prospect,” Douglas says. “We’ve got good COVID practices; we make sure everyone who walks into the building understands those rules. [We’re] excited to do something where we’re working with other people.” 

The five artists selected, meanwhile, are equally excited about the series, which starts this week and culminates in showcases from mid-May to early June. 

Little Earthquakes, Lozen, Cat Madden, Ev Kinsella, and Introduce Wolves were all handpicked by the range of MCs who hosted all of the Hear and Now sessions. 

“They came in and watched every show they were introducing,” Douglas says. “They all compared notes of what they’d seen. [The goal] was to put forward bands with the talent, but also who are committed to working to further their career.” 

Rory Malkin, guitarist and vocalist for Introduce Wolves, says in an email that the opportunity means a lot to the burgeoning group. 

“When I joined the Zoom call just before all the acts [for Hear and Now] started recording their shows, it really felt like I was talking to a lot of (really great) established local artists and that me and my band were relatively unknown—not too much of a surprise given the fact that a lot of bars in Whistler don’t like bands as loud as ours playing on a regular basis. But we’ve continued to do what we do regardless. Well, at least until COVID hit us all,” he said. “So when Amelia [Browne with Arts Whistler] told us all that this opportunity was going to be available my initial thought was, ‘No way that’ll be us. Everyone else has been playing way longer than us,’ shortly followed by, ‘We’re gonna show them what we’ve got and why we deserve this opportunity.’” 

For Lozen, who has been performing in the Sea to Sky corridor for many years, the opportunity presents a chance for more growth. 

“For me, this expansion is all about the balance between discipline and freedom,” she writes. 

“I want to explore all the nooks and crannies of my craft while flowing with a beginner’s mind. Embracing the guidance and tools with child-like wonder, I can invite the spirit of play into it. When I was younger, I always dreamed of living this kind of life. Immersing myself in art, music, dance, fashion and now that it’s actually unfolding as the ebb and flow of my life, it’s pretty far out.”

Whistler duo Little Earthquakes, made up of Helen Hamilton and Charlie Stenner, were a last-minute addition to the Hear and Now lineup after someone else had to drop out, but they clearly made a mark on their Arts Whistler audience, earning an invite to Creative Catalyst.

“We hope to gain lots of insight and experience from the various seminars and sessions we have scheduled within the program,” Hamilton says in an email. “It’s often hard to be totally objective about your own work/performances when it’s so close and personal to you, so we’re open to any constructive feedback that helps us grow and become better performers. I don’t think it’s ever too late to keep learning and gaining new knowledge!”  

Squamish singer-songwriter Cat Madden, meanwhile, summed it up succinctly, saying she hoped to gain, “Fuckin’ knowledge! I only expect myself to take full advantage of this opportunity, which has been gifted to me.” 

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