by Joe Johnson
Abbotsford-based folk duo Coalmont takes their name from a small town on the road to Princeton where the duo first started dating. Nate Esau remembers telling Stephanie as they passed through, “That would be a great band name if we were ever to do that.” Nowparents, they are constantly striving for life balance while keeping things fresh.
What’s your relation to Jam in Jubilee?
Stephanie: Nate was born in the town of Matsqui. I lived here all my life as well. Up until three or four years ago, we could not wait to get out of Abbotsford. It’s like, “There’s nothing going on here. It’s just a little town.” Now, we’re lifers. We like the culture that’s growing here. The arts community. The businesses, the small shops, the breweries. In the last two or three years, it’s great. Nate: Since we first came to Jam in Jubilee, there’s more of a sense of community, way more than there ever has been. There are way more people collaborating. It’s where you want to be. There’s a lot of growth and good culture happening.
You guys have kids. How does that play into the band?
Stephanie: It means we have to be really creative in how we do this, because we can’t be the starving artist on the road eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because we have a four-and-a-half- year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. Nate: Yeah, we need four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What’s next on the horizon for Coalmont?
Stephanie: We’ve got what’s shaping up to be a pretty busy summer with shows. We love it. It’s just these tours that we’re working on for the fall. We’ve got a bunch of dates booked and we’ll be taking our kids on the road. So that will be interesting and hopefully really awesome. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot.
By Katie Stobbart
JD Miner is comprised of Darryl Klassen and Chad Joiner, who are sometimes joined by their cast of “incidental miners,” a handful of other skilled BC musicians. They describe their style as “an eclectic collection of original jazzy tunes, ballads about real (and unreal) people, and a liberal dose of old-time banjo and fiddle tunes.”
You have an eclectic collection of musical styles, from ballads to banjo. What’s your favourite style to play? Your favourite tune? Klassen: I have always liked eclectic bands like the Red Clay Ramblers and the old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. When I listen to live music, I find that most groups and individuals commit to one genre. They can get very good at that, and fans know what to expect.
We approach things a bit differently. We love old- time banjo and fiddle tunes, some Okie music like J.J. Cale, and since I write a lot of music we’ll mix in some original tunes and ballads. We love to mix it up with instrumentation — for example, we have a banjo, clarinet, and bass piece. We will often have eight or nine instruments on stage. We even do a real classical tune, and then we spoof it a bit with our original tune called “The Soggy Bottom Dream- ing Concerto in E minor for Banjo and Strings.” People ask, what kind of music do you play, so we came up with our own genre, “Highbrow Hillbilly.”
How long have you been playing in the Valley? How would you describe the music community here?
Klassen: I have been playing in the Valley solo and with various bands since I moved here 35 years ago. Chad Joiner and Johan Worst [one of the incidental miners] are also long-time Fraser Valley residents and have been playing here for decades. They are both very accomplished musicians.
I love the Abbotsford music scene, but we have not been real successful at breaking into the wider Valley music scene. Perhaps this will change as we keep plugging at it.
By Dessa Bayrock
Cree/Dené/Irish artist IsKwé merges downtempo rhythms with powerful, belted-out R&B vocals and cross-cultural song structures, and braces her passionate lyrics around social justice topics such as violence against Indigenous women. She was named one of CBC Music’s 10 Artists To Watch in 2016.
Just to start things o, is it Iss-KWEE or Iss-KWAY?
Okay, good to get that sorted — I found some old interviews with you online and one had the pronunciation spelled out one way and one had the pronunciation spelled out the other way, and I thought, well, I’m lost.
Can you speak a little bit about the history of that name, and the decision to take that on as your performance name?
IsKwé: It’s a shortened version of my full name in Cree, which is Wâsekwahk Iskwew; Iswkew is the formal way of saying “woman” in Cree, so IsKwé informal way of saying it, and that’s my traditional name. I also have an English name, but for art and some other things, IsKwé is what I chose to go by. It felt good to my spirit — it felt like it matched what I was doing and who I was. It’s a part of who I am. It’s my experience and my path, that I walk every day — so I think it’s always part of the conversation for me. It’s one of those things that, once your eyes are open, it’s hard to go back. Now that my eyes have opened, it’s a process of passing that on to people in my community, and the folks around me.
On that note, what’s it like to be recording, and performing, and in the process of putting out a new album in 2017, the year of Canada 150, which is such a controversial celebration?
IsKwé: You know, to me it feels really strong — I feel like the content and message that I am working with is empowerment and creating awareness of indigenous practice and community. So to me, it feels good, and it feels like people might have their eyes open in a slightly different way this year. There’s a lot of chat about Canada 150 being a celebration of colonialism, but I’m not celebrating colonialism — I’m using the big party as a platform to get the message out and be able to have conversations things that are really important.
“it feels like people might have their eyes open in a slightly different way this year”
And now you’re playing at Jam in Jubilee on July 13 — are you familiar with the festival?
IsKwé: I’m not, actually! This will be my first time at the festival. And I’ll be dropping a new album at the end of July, so I’ll definitely be promo-ing some new material — sort of a sneak peek in advance — so that will be fun. I find the nice thing about festivals is that no matter what, people are there for the music, so regardless of how they take it in, they’re there for music.
By Jess Wind
Ever wonder what it looks like to get inked? Memento Mori Studios Inc. will be on site with their mobile tattoo shop on the final night of Jam in Jubilee, giving guests a glimpse of the ins and outs of tattoo artistry with a live tattoo demonstration. Studio president Chris Gauthier chatted about the tattoo demonstration and the ongoing commitment to the Fraser Valley arts community.
What will this tattoo set-up look like?
Chris Gauthier: Basically, there’ll be a recreational vehicle there to account for the sinks and the things that are required to be able to do it. The tattooing is going to take place outside with a canopy over the top. It’s not like walk-up tattoos, where people are there for the concert and come to get tattooed. It’s preplanned — more of a demonstration of tattooing, so that people can walk by and see someone getting tattooed.
Tell us about your connection to the arts and culture scene in the Fraser Valley.
Gauthier: I just kind of liked the idea of having a hometown. When I was in my late teens I was really big into music, and I played in a local band scene, and I started thinking I was going to be a musician. So back then, even when I was 16, there was a lot of pushing hard to have venues for local shows and events, kind of like the new generation is doing now, which I enjoy watching. And so it’s my pride for my hometown paired with how much I love music and supporting the scene. And how cool it is that Abbotsford is having events like this?
Memento Mori will be present at the last night of the festival. Gauthier expects each tattoo to take close to an hour including setup and teardown — time enough for three to four tattoos in the evening. Rather than holding the tattoo demonstration every night of the festival, they’re pulling out all the stops for the final concert on July 27.
“When we do an event, I want to make it the best
we can,” he says. “And if we spread ourselves over four Thursdays, it’s just really hard. So we’re going to go all in on the one night and make a full showing.”
By Mel Spady
The Whiskeyjays are a genre-defying band with a long family history, comprised of Luc Josef, Stephan Legal, Vincent Coulombe, Thomas Perry, and Curtis Heimburger. Stephan Legal (guitar, vocals) and I caught up over e-mail to chat about the process of balancing influences, different ways to gain traction in a new era of music production, and what makes this project different from the many iterations that came before.
Your sound is a little folk, a little rock, a little indie, and a little punk — but they mesh together well. Does this come from each respective band member having their own influences and you all coming together, or do you find you’re all influenced by similar things?
Stephan Legal: Luc and I have an understanding when it comes to our work that anything really goes, as long as we can pull it off without sounding like we’re forcing it. When a song is in its infancy, it already has a sound and a vibe that we try to embrace right away. As we workshop, we allow each individual to add their style, and this helps define and elevate it. I would say is our biggest influence for this project is Wilco, and they pull this sound off very well. We both [Stephan and Luc] grew up listening to and loving our parents’ music as well: Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac… Wells that we drink from on a daily basis include Ryan Adams, The National, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Waylon Jennings, and on and on and on.
You offer your music up for free, to stream and to download, and the book online option for covers, original sets, and songwriting/recording. Was it a conscious decision to open yourselves up to new revenue streams as musicians, or more of a “this could be fun” decision?
We feel that in order for us to gain any kind of traction in this industry, we have to develop a reputation and a brand. When we play live cover shows and weddings, it gets our name out there. The more people that know about us, the more we book. It opens many doors for us to play our original music. This is the same reason that we offer our music for free. We would rather entice someone who is on the fence about us to download our music and listen to it a few more times. Having said all of that, a by-product of the cover gigs is that we do make money, 100 percent of which goes to our band fund.
On that note, did you record and produce Clickbait entirely yourself?
We recorded this project with our friend and former drummer, Kenneth Kraylie. He recorded and produced it for us. We wish we could have given him more moolah, but he’s a real sweetie and gave a lot of his time for this project. We spent countless hours getting these fully arranged and defined before recording them. We wanted to be able to recreate everything on the EP in a live show, so there was little overdubbing and essentially nothing added that we don’t do live.
What can the audience expect from your live shows?
When you come see us, you’ll see a bunch of guys playing their asses off, drinking beer, and having a fudging blast while we do it. Oh, and a guy with a curly mustache playing a stand-up bass.
Read the full Jam in Jubilee zine here.