Marcus Ramsay maps out busy year 

Sea to Sky musician launches Northern Ignition Music

click to enlarge PHOTO BY TOM PAILLE / SUBMITTED - centre stage Marcus Ramsay has big plans for 2019.
  • Photo by Tom Paille / submitted
  • centre stage Marcus Ramsay has big plans for 2019.

Marcus Ramsay has had an unusual career trajectory for a Whistler musician. For one, after graduating from the SAE Institute Vancouver where he studied music production and audio engineering, he moved up the highway to the resort—and promptly blew out his knee in his first season.

"I still ski as much as I can and I still get a pass every year and I go touring with my friends, but it's funny, the musician thing—if you make it work, it doesn't work for everyone—it can work in a Whistler lifestyle," he says.

Shortly after his move, Ramsay put together a band, Northern Ignition, released an EP called The Youngbloods, and the group won a contest to play the 2016 Pemberton Music Festival, which marked their first gig.

"It's been a completely ever-rotating line up since its inauguration," Ramsay says of the band. "It's funny, this is the first time ever I'd say there's a stable lineup. We've done the (Pemberton) barn dance every year for the last couple of years. I'm hoping to do a tour this summer through Western Canada."

The band name, though, has morphed into an umbrella under which Ramsay will move ahead with various pursuits this year. He's currently in the midst of launching Northern Ignition Music, a music production company based out of Squamish where he now lives. His vision is to help local artists create demos, which will help them pursue grants, festival gigs and pitch labels and publishers. But, beyond that, he can also help them record albums as well.

"I really enjoy creating," he says. "I think it would be really beneficial for artists if there was someone around that could make them a demo without paying an arm and leg ... My goal really is to be a network where it's not really a record label, per se, but we have a community of people who are engineers, writers and artists. And hopefully bring people together and make really good music out of it."

On top of that, Ramsay is working on his solo music as well (including an album that's been in the works for a few years now). Last fall, he toured through Switzerland playing for a few weeks thanks to a connection to a booking agent through a friend. "They're amazing over in Europe. They're so receptive. They listen—it's so nerve wracking," he says, with a laugh. "It comes across as a novelty. You say, 'I'm a musician from Canada' and they want to talk to you about it. It was a really cool experience in getting all that firsthand."

Another important connection he made last year was with pop-country musician Kristin Carter. Not only has he played with her on a few gigs, but she also inspired him to head down to Nashville—where she lives for three months of the year—to work on songwriting.

"It was cool to go down there and write with guys from the states and a lot of Canadians as well," he says. "My first hour in Nashville I walked into a guitar store and was playing with a gospel singer who's big in the U.S. ... It's super humbling. It ended up being a really cool time."

While Ramsay plays with a rotating crew of musicians around town frequently—including The Rad Pack—you can catch him next playing alongside Carter at The Crystal Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 17.

"Keep an eye out for a lot of new music from Northern Ignition Music in 2019—other people's music and my music," he says. "I try and fill my calendar with as many different things as I can."

For more, visit northernignitionmusic.com or follow Ramsay on Instagram at marcusramsaymusic.

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