Montreal's DIY Scene

| 1 Comment

The video for Montreal band TOPS's song "Way To Be Loved," shot on location in Montreal at Arbutus Records HQ.

The Canadian music scene has been growing gradually in the shadow of our much larger cultural counterpart to the south, and attracting much more attention on a global scale. From the sunny and light acoustic melodies of the west coast, to the dark and stormy metal haven of the east, Canada has provided a nourishing community for any genre, no matter how eccentric. Here in Montreal, much like our beloved fleur-de-lis, the music scene continues to blossom year after year into wonderful new directions. But one thing gives Montreal an edge over the rest: our Do-It-Yourself attitude.

Although the term "indie" is overused these days to the extent that it has lost it's meaning, Montreal's indie scene is staying true to the independent attitude. Here, DIY venues come in all shapes and sizes, and host acts as diverse as our wonderful city itself. Many prominent music acts like TOPS, Grimes, and Braids have come out of the Montreal DIY scene. Whether it's due to an anti-corporate punk ethos, or the simple fact that DIY is generally cheaper and means more creative freedom, the scene perfectly accommodates Montreal's unique sense of pride.


One such prominent DIY venue that sprung out of Montreal was Lab Synthese, which has unfortunately been shut down since its inception less than a decade ago. Lab Synthese was based out of a loft in the Mile End borough of Montreal, around Beaubien, and regularly hosted the aforementioned artists. The founder, Sebastian Cowan, furnished the space with his own equipment and used it to host shows featuring local talent, as well as record EPs and albums for bands looking to avoid paying a hefty sum to have something to show for their hard work. Although Lab Synthese as a venue has since been shut down, it was not without its silver lining -- the venue gave birth to Arbutus Records, a label devoted to supporting the artists that once performed at the space.


Arbutus Records is perhaps most well known for nurturing the earlier years of the artist Grimes, who has since become an "arbutus alumni," but the artists TOPS and Braids also got their beginnings from the venue space and consequently the label, and continue to work with the label in their present endeavours. In fact, the latest album from TOPS, "Picture You Staring," was recorded locally in Montreal using the very same equipment that Sebastian Cowan used to furnish Lab Synthese. Arbutus Records's mission is to "cultivate and promote the bands associated with [Lab Synthese]" (arbutusrecords.com). Rather than adhere to the archetypal concept of a record label, Arbutus Records celebrates the diversity of all the acts in the collective, and sees the "cross-pollination" of their artistic endeavours as a positive asset.

Thumbnail image for 10371959_307172109476427_2279883550943380163_n.jpgSt. Lawrence Warehouse Company performing for ther Album Release at the Boom Room (Photo: facebook.com/stlwco)

Arbutus Records is just one of many such DIY labels created in Montreal, and has inspired other Montreal artists to do similarly. One such space currently in existence is the Boom Room, where many independent montreal acts have enjoyed performing, creating atmospheres ranging anywhere from a quaint and cosy coffee shop, to an underground punk show. Isabella Harned, a member of the band St. Lawrence Warehouse Company, has played at the Boom Room multiple times, having both recorded and released the album at the venue. Reflecting on the experience, she says, "playing our album release show at the boom room was really special. It's not often that you can like stand on a stage and play your music at the exact same venue you recorded it at." Being close with founders of the Boom Room and those who maintain it, she is often made aware of the various events they host. "The boom room also fosters a unique sense of community," she states, concerning the ever-growing community of musicians and artists who have peformed at the Boom Room.

10341432_300474646782249_2289165274706180857_n.jpgLocal Montreal band Noko performing at the Boom Room in May of 2014 (Photo: facebook.com/nokomontreal)

Despite a somewhat shaky and ephemeral history, the DIY scene in Montreal is still going stronger than ever. As a haven for independent artists in Canada, the constant influx of talent will continue to support Montreal's DIY scene, and the abundance of cheap loft spaces in downtown Montreal's periphery will continue to serve as a key environmental component for the flourishing of the independent scene in Canada.

References:
http://www.arbutusrecords.com
http://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/music/tops-stakes-a-precise-place-in-arbutuss-roster
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/greg-jarvis/godspeed-polaris-win_b_3997949.html
htp://facebook.com/stlwco
http://facebook.com/nokomontreal

Harned, Isabella. 19 February 2015. Email Interview.

1 Comment

timberland shoes michael kors outlet online canada goose sale converse all star ralph lauren outlet online michael kors outlet mont blanc pens adidas yeezy ray ban sunglasses outlet coach factory outlet canada goose parka pandora outlet coach factory outlet online adidas yeezy boost nike outlet online canada goose sale nike air max 97 kate spade handbags nike running shoes cheap jordans for sale ralph lauren uk cheap jordans nba jerseys cheap air max ecco shoes for women red bottom birkenstock uk coach factory outlet online coach factory outlet tory burch outlet online polo ralph lauren tory burch handbags canada goose jackets christian louboutin sale louis vuitton outlet store canada goose jackets canada goose coats hollister sale moncler jackets cheap jordans red bottom heels hermes bags air jordan retro skechers outlet cheap ugg boots ralph lauren outlet timberland boots outlet air max outlet nike air max uk nike huarache shoes cheap jordan shoes louboutin outlet michael kors outlet gucci outlet online fitflop uk valentino outlet coach factory outlet online adidas nmd r1 coach factory outlet gucci outlet longchamp bags supreme clothing canada goose jacket fitflop sandals ralph lauren ugg outlet online puma outlet coach outlet store adidas yeezy boost kate spade outlet nike outlet online ralph lauren outlet cheap jordan shoes tods shoes moncler outlet online ralph lauren outlet online ugg outlet nike air max 2018 michael kors outlet clearance coach outlet store online clearance air max timberland outlet coach factory outlet online valentino ugg canada coach outlet online coach outlet online kate spade outlet mbt yeezy boost 350 polo ralph lauren outlet nike zoom coach outlet online mlb jerseys cheap pandora jewelry fitflops uk tiffany outlet canada goose jackets toms shoes cc20180412

Leave a comment