Do you like music but don’t have the budget to go to a new show every night?
LondonFuse is searching the web for local artists (discovered and undiscovered) that reside on the web for you to discover. This is part 2 of our Bandcamp Series, so READ THIS if you didn’t catch part 1.
Thanks to the Internet, you can bring the sounds of London, Ontario with you anywhere you go!
Bandcamp is a great place to start, with dozens of local artists to choose from. The only problem is finding them all. To that end, LondonFuse has done all the hard work for you.
We decided to search out the Forest City and provide you with random reviews and interviews with anyone tagged #LondonOntario. Sometimes it’s an album, sometimes it’s a song. Regardless, it’s all worth checking out!
Sky Shaver is a musician and sound designer from Toronto, who writes and records his music at home. man vs. manatee is a six-track EP whose songs read like a map index. Among the other locales featured as track titles (including Christmas, Florida and Mecca, California) is none other than London, Ontario.
The composition is a mix of synth and guitar, and equal parts surreal and bittersweet.
While the solo guitar provides the main melancholy focus for the track, it’s the background synths that really fill it out and bring it to life. They set the mood, and dictate the parameters of where the guitar can go, adding some slow moving arpeggios to create soft crescendos.
Q: Where do you compose your music and what gear do you use?
I live and work in a little box in the sky about a block from Dundas Square in Toronto. I work primarily with guitars and synthesizers, and currently use a Eurorack modular synthesizer and various guitars to make music. The last project of any note that I was involved with was “Open Fire” which was presented at the Chan Centre at UBC in March 2016.
Q: What led you to write London Ontario? Was there any particular inspiration about the city and if so, what?
I wrote the main theme for London, Ontario while staying with a friend/lover in London, Ontario around 2002. I was in a very dark place having just suffered from a nervous breakdown and had left Toronto for a while in an effort to collect myself (taking) a change of clothes and an acoustic guitar with me.
Our days were spent drinking cheap wine and walking in parks. After dinner I would play guitar. We were poor and sad and maybe a little in love.
Q: What is your experience with the city?
I was just visiting. The city was calm, green and spacious. Especially compared to the old industrial area of Toronto I had been living in.
Q: What sticks with you when you think about London now (the city, not the song)?
The woman I was spending time with then. I haven’t been to London in at least a decade.
Q: Are the sounds and instruments you use at all reflective of your impression of the city?
The sounds and instruments I used were more reflective of my state of mind than of the city.
Shhh (Megan Arnold) is dreamy. Everything about her Be Quite EP is warm, and fuzzy and subdued. Listening to the album is like deciding to stay in your pajamas on a rainy day.
Released in November 2016, Be Quite is shhh’s third bandcamp offering.
All seven tracks are slow and hazy – minimal melodies drowned in synth wash and the occasional guitar. Her vocal delivery is textbook indie sweetness, but her phrasing, overdubs and melodies keep the format fresh.
If there was a criticism to offer, it’s that the lo-fi mindset sometimes means low-quality sound. However, it works thematically. The slightly out of tune guitar on Bed only makes the romantic pining seem more intimate – like it was recorded in shhh’s bedroom right after her crush leaves for another week at an out-of-town university.
Be Quite is about youthful romance, heartbreak and coming to grips with an imperfect world. If you want a more bare-bones experience, make sure you also check out shhh gets sentimental, released in 2014.
Q: What’s your experience with London, Ontario? How would you describe the city through an artist’s eyes?
I moved to London with my family when I was twelve but we lived in a suburb in the corner of the city, so it wasn’t until I started going to shows downtown when I was sixteen/seventeen that I really started to experience London. Even though I was a lil baby people were very welcoming – I looked up to a bunch of folks. Lots of people have since moved away, but London’s community will keep me here forever.
As an artist, London can be frustrating because the city itself doesn’t really support local artists – cool things tend to come and go very quickly, and a lot of London’s student population has no interest in the city or making it their home after graduation. But the small community of artists here is very positive and supportive, and I think we’re moving in a good direction, especially in terms of promoting and maintaining safe spaces.
Q: Describe the mindset behind Be Quite. Was it a concept you wrote around or was it more personal?
It was definitely more personal. I’m not a prolific songwriter so some of the songs on Be Quite were some of the very first songs I wrote as Shhh, when I was an acoustic act. Be Quite is just a collection of most of the songs that I’d written up to that point.
Q: What do you mean when you tag your music as ‘secret diary’?
A lot of the lyrics on Be Quite came straight out of my actual real life secret diary. I don’t keep one anymore which makes coming up with lyrics much harder.
Q: What is your favourite venue to play music in London and why? What is your favourite venue to watch live music?
FOAM DOAM! I would almost always rather play in someone’s house or DIY venue (EVAC and The Church also great) than a bar because I am a shy bunny. It sucks getting attached to venues in this city though because we keep losing them (RIP Vibrafusion).
Q: How do you approach creating soundscapes and overdubs for your tracks?
I have a Boss RC-50 looping station that I bought off of local artist James Kirkpatrick a couple of years ago which totally changed the way I make and perform music. Since I don’t really know how to play instruments, I just feed a synth into the RC-50 and loop whatever sounds good.
Pretty much everything on Be Quite used the RC-50’s built-in drum machine. I recorded Be Quite on GarageBand and re-did some of the songs using that program’s synth library.