Elliott BROOD is a three-piece, folk-rock/alt-country band based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Their brand of fuzzed-up roots music makes for a captivating and frenetic live performance. That energy has always translates to the band’s five acclaimed records. Their style has been called everything from ‘blackgrass’ to ‘death country,’ but those descriptions don’t capture the transcendent heights of their unique approach to roots music.
Jesse Roper approaches his profession the same way he would make a mixtape. With barriers down and volume up. “For two weeks I’ll play hardcore blues, and then another two weeks in a row I’ll play classical, and then another two weeks all I want to do is play reggae,” Roper said, a mischievous smile crossing his face. “I’ll try anything.” That philosophy is apparent on Access to Infinity, his upcoming third full-length due January 26th, 2018 on Blue Heron Music. Roper describes the anticipated album as “an evolved sound,” one that brings to a boil a disparate set of influences. The B.C. singer-songwriter’s innate and impressive musical talent has served him well in recent years. It has given the flexibility to play with soul icon Booker T. Jones, rock veteran Colin James, and blues belter Beth Hart, Canadian legend Burton Cummings, then turn around and headline nightclubs and festivals to younger audiences, and look perfectly comfortable in each scenario. Adventuresome doesn’t properly describe Roper as an artist, because when the guitar-wielding dynamo sets out to accomplish something, there’s no telling where his mind will wander, or when his energy will go.
Merging modern bass music with the retro sounds of jazz, blues, disco and funk, Defunk has taken bass music to new heights. From up-tempo to downright dirty, he blends the old with the new across countless genres and tempos. From swinging saxophone solos, to banjo breakdowns, soul build ups and face melting bass drops. He aims to create electronic music that knows no bounds or overdone sounds.
The Freestylers are the dancefloor sensation of the new millennium, a fast moving, electro-rocking monster movie that is going to hit your house like a tidal wave, and wash all your preconceptions out of the door.
When they play live, there’s up to twelve of them on the stage alone, guitars and a full rhythm section, DJ Jay-Rock, crowd pleasers MC Tenor Fly, MC Navigator and new vocalist Valerie M, a breathtaking whirl of sound and vision which leaves the audience as exhausted as the band. In fact, the dance is almost as important to the Freestylers as the music, and while break beats have been threatening to return to the dancefloor for years, the Freestylers are the first band to actually do something about it and were promptly proclaimed Best Band at the 1998 Muzik Magazine Awards.
On record, too, the Freestylers attack your feet first, as the world discovered when the band’s first album, We Rock Hard, hit the rocks. A blast of sheer sonic exuberance nailed to the phattest beats and rhythms around, “We Rock Hard” has already been proclaimed one of the dying century’s most dazzling, dizzying explosions, 13 songs and one long party and 500,000 sales later the band are about to drop their stunning new Album.
Freestylers producers Aston Harvey and Matt Cantor got together in 1993, through talking about the music they were into — electro, breakbeats, Afrika Bambaataa and the whole old school hip hop culture. But it wasn’t long before they took their obsessions into the studio, running off what would eventually become the Freestylers’ first U.K. single, “Drop The Boom” – initially released on the small Street Plastic label pre- Freskanova. Like Matt says, “we plunder samples like no man’s business.”
“We’re into really instant music,” says Aston. “Too many dance artists are making jazz albums, because they feel it’s the mature thing to do.” And the upshot of that is — “there are plenty of great home listening albums. But not enough proper party ones.” And for the Freestylers, proper parties are what it’s all about.
FIVE ALARM FUNK
Some bands want to change the world. Five Alarm Funk’s goal is much simpler.
They want you to sweat.
That’s been the idea since the first time drummer Tayo Branston, guitarist Gabe Boothroyd and the original Five Alarm bassist Neil Towers met at a Vancouver house party in 2003. Since that night, the temperature in their leafy green hometown began to rise. Other musicians started showing up to jam. The parties led to gigs locally, which led a few years later to grinding bus tours across Canada and into the States. The crowds grew. The grooves burned. A horn section jumped onboard to punch the beat harder. Percussion cranked it up even more. EPs and albums followed, as studios and gear melted down from the sheer intensity these guys unleashed.
No wonder they called their last album Sweat.
But believe it or not, Five Alarm Funk is just warming up.
To get the full picture, go back to when the future rhythm section first played together. Vancouver was definitely a musical town then, though among its grunge, alternative, indie and even jazz players one genre was conspicuous in its absence. A few young cats were aware of this but didn’t know how to correct the situation until some mysterious force pulled them into the same room at the same time.
“We all loved heavy funk like James Brown and Tower of Power” Branston explains. “But we were also inspired by everything from Tito Puente to Antibalas to Frank Zappa. Their fantastic musicianship and the amount of fun they had was incredible. We wanted that for ourselves too … but it just wasn’t going on in Vancouver at that time.”
From that point, Five Alarm Funk took shape organically. They kept jamming, welcoming like-minded colleagues to sit in, and didn’t really think about much more than having a great time through music. They didn’t even write songs in any traditional way; mostly, they picked up their instruments, kicked off a beat and winged it.
“It was never a structured thing,” Branston says. “There was no rehearsing, no writing. We were just improvising and having fun. If we ended up stumbling across something really cool, we’d maybe work it out to see if it might turn into a song. But we weren’t thinking about shows. We weren’t thinking about where this might lead us. We were just playing grooves.”
People did notice, though. They started nudging the band to try getting a set together for an actual gig. It took a while but eventually Five Alarm Funk officially debuted at a local place called The Fairview Pub. To nobody’s surprise but the guys in the band, more than 300 people showed up, hungry for funk. “It was a huge success,” Branston remembers. “That lit this fire in us, like, ‘Wow, people are interested in this! This is something Vancouver needs. Maybe we can make this happen!”
From the Fairview, they moved to Richards On Richards, a venerable venue with a bigger capacity of up to 800 people. Five Alarm packed it again and again until closing night. Word spread throughout British Columbia and after that throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Now, keep in mind this isn’t at all like some outfit from Philly picking up work in nearby Baltimore or New York. “Canada is huge,” Branston points out. “From Vancouver the closest city is probably three and a half hours away — and those are smaller towns. The closest big city is Calgary, which is about an 11-hour drive.”
That didn’t even slow them down. Grueling van tours turned into even more grueling van tours that eventually grew into a 36-day, cross-continental trek involving some 30 shows from Vancouver to Fredericton. They crossed over to the States a few times too, initially to nearby markets including Seattle, Bellingham and a little later to Portland. They issued albums and EPs too; leading by 2010 to the affirmatively titled Anything is Possible.
That’s when things started exploding for real. They pumped their energy across the Pacific, with a performance in Taiwan that promises to be the first of many in years ahead. They also pushed deeper into the U.S., as far south as Chattanooga, where in 2017 they blew the roof off the Riverbend Festival — or would have, had there been a roof overhead.
And now Five Alarm Funk amps up the heat with an ambitious project that involves raiding their own catalog and inviting some of their heroes to join them. Long known for their percussive gang vocals, they’ve have amassed a library of largely instrumental, chant-punched performances. The first of these is a match they might only have dreamed of when they were just starting to rock those house parties.
“I’ve been a Bootsy Collins fan ever since I was 15,” Branston marvels. “That track we gave him, ‘Capital City,’ is one of the funkiest things we’ve ever cut. With that experience and our back catalog, you’ll see a lot more of this from us.”
Future releases and reissues with all-star rappers and funksters. Sights set on bringing their magic to festivals throughout the world. More sweat, more dancing … more Five Alarm Funk.
That’s global warming as it ought to be.
THE PACK AD
Nested in the Kootenay mountains of British Columbia, Canada, comes a duo that captures the roots of their rugged home with the timbre of old soul, blending a timeless sound that goes by the name of Moontricks.
They has proven to be one of the best secret treasures in the festival and live show circuit. Their sound represents a cutting edge blend of folk and electronic, blues and soul, and features live guitar, banjo, keys, and vocals making them both a standout live act and studio act.
The duo have their own original style of boot-stomping grassroots blues meets underground bass music. This catchy sound blends in unison creating a brand of folklore that has crowds ranting and raving throughout the west coast. Moontricks meshes together classic genres with modern cutting edge production. Their unique and distinct sound ensures an emotional and enthusiastically engaging musical experience. Every performance is richly unique to wherever their inspiration takes them and the crowd ignites in them, together, getting high on the vibes and lost in the music.
Labeled as anything from math to prog to pop but feeling most comfortable in the plain guise of rock, Bend Sinister of Vancouver BC have evolved through numerous styles and absorbed a plethora of influences to become a band so refreshingly original that the struggle to categorize them is a losing battle.
Cheshire has always found his solace in producing funky electronic music.
With over ten releases in the past three years he has made a remarkable
impact on the electronic bass music scene. Cheshire’s signature sound uses live
elements of funk and soul along with tight synthesized bassline and drum
Starting his career with dubstep in 2008 Cheshire released the number one
selling E.P. “Punk” with “Excisions” Rottun Records, gaining a broad recognition
within the genre. However in 2013 after a three year hiatus Cheshire stunned the
glitch hop scene with his release “The Funk’d Up EP”, catapulting to number one
on the Beatport charts and holding the top position for over a month.
Since then he has followed this
with three albums and many
more chart topping releases
gaining a reputation for packing
dance floors and filling sound
systems with his funk infused
Latin laced rhythms.
This lifelong passion has also
developed in his shows where
a usual Cheshire set consists of
live sax and vocals along with
the expected turntablist mixes
Now working with Adapted and
Omelette Records Cheshire has
recently released his third album
and is quickly becoming a
common name in the mid-tempo music scene.
Based in western Canada, Astrocolor perform and record live electronic music, recalling the Chemical Brothers, Air, and St. Germain. The band plays on the edges of funky house, balearic, breakbeat, and ambient.
Astrocolor III, the third release in a trilogy of EPs on Softtone/eOne, sees the band’s instrumental and electronic roots expand into traditional song formats with feature vocals (“A Light Goes Out”), acid breakbeat (“Smell of Acid”), alternative house (“Daylight Savings”), and electro-funk (“Break Your Body”). Produced by Neil Cooke-Dallin, Astrocolor III is built equally for a big night out in the clubs or a dinner party soundtrack at home.
Astrocolor have brought their celebratory live show to seminal west coast music festivals including Burning Man, Rifflandia, Song & Surf, Tall Tree, and Atmosphere Gathering. The band also made debut appearances last year in Toronto (Canadian Music Week), Seattle (Upstream Music Festival), Vancouver (with Five Alarm Funk at the legendary Commodore Ballroom), St Louis, and Chicago. Astrocolor’s catalogue of original material has well over one million plays on Spotify and a loyal following of regular listeners globally.
Astrocolor formed in 2015 and are based in Victoria, BC, Canada.
KITTY AND THE ROOSTER
Kitty & The Rooster is a rock n’ roll duo from Vancouver, BC featuring Jodie Ponto banging on the cocktail kit and East Van guitar wizard Noah Walker. They are known for their surf-tastic hooks, clever lyrics, and ridiculously fun shows.
The Imprints are an Australian duo creating dreamy dance music consisting of Willow Stahlut and Linden Lester. Armed with a violin, synth and various FX pedals, Willow creates deep sub bass lines and weaves a melodic tapestry beautifully complemented by Linden’s visceral energetic approach to the drums
Stephen Lewis has toured all over North America and is soon to embark on a tour in Europe and The U.K. He has been booked to perform at festivals like Burning Man (NV), The Boomtown Fair (UK), Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (CAN), Disc Jam (NY), and many others all over Canada, The US, and Europe. He has performed with and opened for artists like The Floozies, Chali2na, The Funk Hunters, Dubfx, and many others. Stephen believes in interacting with his audience with something more then just funky music. He creates a wildly entertaining, engaging, and captivating energy where ever he performs. Get ready to sing, dance, and sweat with Stephen Lewis!
Mt.Eliah was born from the belly of Carrington Bay, west coast raised and west coast is where he stays. Benjamin E Howells AKA Mt Eliah is a charismatic man of the people. Focused on facilitating space for freedom and expression. Co-Producer of Atmosphere Gathering, Founder of Project Intent and The Creative Network his vision spans the generations. One-third of the Infamous NakedDjs Benjamin has played a central role in Music and community action in the land he loves for more than a decade. In that time he has had the pleasure of opening and sharing the stage with artists such as, Beats Antique, Dubfx, Mad Professor, Dj Vadim, the skatalites, Adham shaikh, Neighbour, The Funk Hunters, Love and Light, Michael Red, The Cat Empire, Nicodemus, Westerly, Chali 2na, Gaudi, and many many more.
Multi-tempo, multi-genre DJ performances fuse much of the world’s most passionate, pleasing, cultural music with the best of underground electronica’s dance beats. Skillfully blending 4/4 dance tempos you can sleep or sweat to. Gypsy, Latin and African influences, stir that up with a generous helping of conscious reggae, reggaeton, dancehall, cumbia and other bass-heavy, mid-tempo beats, for a feast of extremely fun, danceable music.
Murge has been playing and touring the club scene in Canada for over 10 years holding down several residencies and playing festivals such as Shambhala, Tall Tree Festival, Jazz Fest, Folk Fest. He was enlisted to perform for the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch Ceremony and for the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup party.
DJ, Producer, label owner, and founder of Victoria’s first ever DJ school, Murge has navigated to notoriety in almost every aspect of the music industry. His live performances as a DJ follow his trend for diversity, he’s remixed, collaborated and produced with notable artists such as Tegan & Sara, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, Neighbour, Miami Nights 1984,The Grouch, Slug (Atmosphere) and recently released new tracks on New Kanada Records and Whiskey Disco. Murge has proven that he can cross genres, styles, and North America while still winning over crowds with his technical and musical skills.
His eclectic up-tempo sets always keep the party moving, catering to all tastes across the board. If it’s funky it’s in his set. He pushes fresh music and new music, seamlessly weaving what’s new and hot with classic favorites and is best known for digging up surprises from the past.
Murge’s ability to D.J. for various types of crowds with his wide selection and turntablist skills has landed him shows with some of the world’s finest DJ’s and groups including Jurassic 5, D.J. Shadow, The Beatnuts, Team Canada D.J.’s, Mixmaster Mike (Beastie Boys D.J.), Fort Knox Five, Dam Funk, Girl Talk, Mat the Alien, De La Soul and many others.
It seems the key to success in this game is diversity, and the ability to wear an infinite number of hats, while still maintaining your core vision for your art. Murge’s D.J. sets are the product of his vision for his music, and through it, he hopes too show the industry and the clubbing community, that its time to start paying close attention.
THE CUMBERLAND BROTHERS
cozy is a beat-driven lyricist with a broad range of influences, taking inspiration from many genres (including, but not limited to, funk, r+b, folk, and pop). With her music, cozy hopes to bring people into her world of experiences and give them as clear a picture of her perspective as she can.
Throughout her songs, cozy weave strong lyrical themes of femininity, sexuality, and reclamation of personal identity within a vulnerable context of self-examination. With undeniable groove and hilarious wordplay, she delves into valuable conversations about love, family, and confidence throughout her playful debut album “cozy” (Released April 28th, 2017 through Nyhla Records). Along with writing and producing her own music, cozy also produces music for other artists. She graduated from Nimbus School of the Recording Arts and Media last August with a diploma in Advanced Music Production
CHRIS KELLY & NICOLE GIBSON
Just a boy and a girl trying to find a good harmony.
Now based in Vancouver, Chris Kelly and Nicole Gibson met in Montreal, at a merch table while both fronting their own bands. They began collaborating by making duo versions of popular songs on YouTube.
After acquiring over a half a million views on their YouTube videos, which landed them a spot on MTV, they realized the potential in writing their own original music.
There first track ‘Out of The Dark’ was released in April 2017, they then self-released their debut EP ‘Out of the Dark’ single by single which was a finalist in multiple international songwriting competitions.
As of October 2017 they now play as a 5 piece band, which allows them to create a more dynamic live sound as they play shows and festivals in and around Vancouver.
Most notably the duo won do250 Cumberland Wild festival competition, scoring them a spot at the festival.
Described as ‘Gemini pop’ their ‘two voices work as fraternal twins that mirror, support and split from each other’.
“In order to never quit you have to see hope, and in order to see hope you have to never quit.”