by Valerie Franklin
This year’s incarnation of the Jam opens with the smooth, feel-good Motown vibes of the Aerophonics, featuring Kyler Pierce, James Stobbe, Brandon Clark, Dylan Weightman, Coal Shultis, and Kayden Gorden. Despite their Detroit-inspired sound, they’re as local as it gets.
So, what is it that draws you to Motown music?
Kyler Pierce: The idea of Aerophonics was basically to pay tribute to the Berry Gordy, Motown Records kind of sound. That type of music isn’t really represented out here on the West Coast, and we love the songwriting, the music — so it’s kind of a blue-eyed soul, Motown throwback. That was kind of the idea behind the group, to do something different from what we were hearing out here, and play original content in the vein of the music we wanted to pay tribute to.
There’s a certain sound that came out of Motor City that you can’t and anywhere else. The recording techniques, the players, the raw talent — so much of the Motown stuff was done live, and I wanted to be able to recreate that in the recordings, but also be able to do that on stage. So it’s all about the hooks, the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, the way that the choruses and the verses get stuck in your head, and you can’t get it out until you listen to it like a hundred times.
What’s your history with the Fraser Valley music scene?
Pierce: We’re all a bunch of Valley boys from Chilliwack and Abbotsford. We’ve all been playing with a tonne of bands — we’re deep in the trenches of it. I’ve been playing with Harma White for the last 15 years or so. All the bands we’re playing with doing a lot of these festivals, or they’re all guys that we knew growing up, and we’ve cut our teeth playing together. It’sreallyexcitingbecause I recall seeing so many bands starting in little garage bands and playing little house parties, and now half of these guys are hitting the road and touring for a big chunk of the year. It’s really exciting to see so many of my friends doing so well.
“There’s a certain sound that came out of Motor City that you can’t find anywhere else”
Do you have any albums in the works?
Pierce: We do have an album in the works, but that was just kind of an underground thing that we didn’t tell anybody about. But I guess it’s out there now! [laughs]
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Pierce: I just want people to know how excited we are to get back together and play with our friends in the Fraser Valley music community. I don’t believe we’ve played in Abbotsford since the Berry Beat fest two years ago, and that was before we had any horns … and I’m also excited to see so many great musicians play throughout the whole Jam in Jubilee series.
by Joe Johnson
Indie singer-songwriter and Abbotsford native Jordan Klassen digs deep into his own memories and emotion for the lyrics of his folk-pop ballads, with topics ranging from wistfulness over failed relationships to the profound fear and grief surrounding his mother’s cancer diagnosis. With two albums and several tours under his belt, Klassen takes a moment to reflect on where he came from and where he’s going next.
Tell me about your ties to Abbotsford and Jam in Jubilee.
Klassen: Well, I know all those Atangard folks pretty well. I think a lot of the people who are on the committee are Atangard people. At least in the way that Jam in Jubilee started was from Atangard folks. I actually lived there for a summer.
To where do you attribute your musical sensibilities?
Klassen: I guess some of it would be genetic. My whole family, my sister, and brother, too, are creative people. I think I was just always interested in art, culture, and making something. I was never really good at sports but I was always good at English and writing. I just kept going there because I was good at it.
The new album you have in the works, how’s it going to be different from your past?
Klassen: It’s pretty different, actually. One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot the last few years is being a singer-songwriter and I used to really hate that label. But I’ve grown warm to it. I’ve started listening to a lot of singer-songwriters from the ‘60s and ‘70s. That was a thing, a dude or a girl who writes songs and represents their songs, there’s a photo of them on the cover, it’s all about them. It’s its own genre of music, almost. It’s very personal. So, I wanted to do something that was more reflective of the ‘60s and ‘70s pop singer-songwriters.
Your sophomore album, Javelin, came out 16 months ago. What was the experience like after already broken through with Repentance?
Klassen: I had put a lot of pressure on my- self to have it successful in a myriad of ways. I love the album. I’m really happy with how it turned out, but it wasn’t an easy process. It was kind of painful because I also felt creatively stifled at the time, but I had to push through that, which was a weird experience. The experience of a person who does art as their job is a lot of making your own inspiration, not waiting for inspiration to happen.
Local rockers Hubbo will be performing on the first night of Jam in Jubilee, with guest performances by Bhura and DJ Darko. Hubbo was not available for an interview.
By Dessa Bayrock
& Megan McLeod
Said the Whale burst onto the Vancouver indie-rock scene in 2007 and never looked back. After winning second place in the 2010 Peak Performance Project, they took home a Juno in 2011 for New Group of the Year. Their fifth studio album, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, was released in March 2017.
I’ve been coming to see Said the Whale shows almost as long as the band’s been around, and for the most part that meant seeing the tour stop in Vancouver. Catch- ing the new tour in Ottawa this year was a very different experience because not as many Vancouver- or BC-themed songs made an appearance. How does it feel to play at home versus away on tour? Is it a conscious choice to save the more Vancouver-y songs for BC shows?
Tyler Bancroft: Definitely a conscious choice! People love hearing their city mentioned in a song, so it’s a nice way to connect with the hometown crowd. Playing in Vancouver is always very special for us. We are all born and raised here, and this city means a lot to us.
On that note, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jam in Jubilee, but how does it feel to be playing a free and all-ages out-door concert relatively locally? How does that sort of concert format feel compared to a tour concert?
Bancroft: I am not familiar with it, but out-door summer shows rule. Club shows are fun, sweaty, raw… But nothing compares to playing outside in the summer.
You’ve acknowledged that this album marks a new phase of the band’s journey and that you hope the fans will follow. Especially paired with the transformation of a ve-person band to a three-person band, did it take time to come to the point where you weren’t afraid to experiment and play around with sound and style?
Bancroft: We took a bit more time away from the band than we had originally anticipated, which helped alleviate some of the pressure we might have otherwise felt… truth be told, going into this record we weren’t even sure we’d be a band anymore. So I guess that’s what got us to the point where we weren’t afraid to push our own boundaries. It was a sense of having nothing to lose.
Likewise, there’s been such a lovely shift with this album to dreamlike imagery — almost surreal in places — from the video for “Step Into the Darkness” with snow and sparks falling upwards, to the verse in “Heaven” literally about a dream, to the album cover with the buffalo coming out of the mist, to the repeated refrain in “Lilac and Willow” of “All I do is dream.” What role does dreaming play in your journey as a band, and in your creativity and lives as a whole? What are the weirdest or most memorable dreams you’ve ever had? What are your dreams for the future?
Bancroft: This is a really funny question because when we’re on tour it’s sort of become habit for each of us to recount the crazy dreams we’ve had the night before. It’s also kind of a running joke for us to sit there politely while a bandmate tells us this bizarre story that never happened in real life. Dreams are a completely made up thing, yet we’re expected to listen and react as if what the person is telling you is true! It’s hilarious. We started calling dreams “nightlies”. Our dreams for the future are to keep having dreams. Dreams = hope.
Finally, I’m in love with the song “Fucks to Give,” which is one of the B-sides from As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide. I’m sure you dealt with a lot more doubt when you were just starting out, and with trying to develop healthy relationships both professionally and personally — do you still experience that sort of doubt now? How would you encourage other young bands just starting out now? Bancroft: I’m glad you like that tune! That song was fun to make but didn’t really t into the rest of the album so we left it as a B-side. Doubt is pretty natural, and definitely something we still experience. I think a lot of the time doubt is just fear. Fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of doing the wrong thing. A certain amount of fear is good, it can keep you in check. But too much is debilitating. The easiest way to get past it is to surround yourself with people who inspire you. That’s what I would tell young bands. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better, and you will be better.
What’s the question you secretly hope an interviewer will ask you?
Bancroft: Would you like this freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and this glass of cold 2% milk?
Read the full Jam in Jubilee zine here.