Enter the Glam Cave

Category: music 255

PEI performance artist Russell Louder returns to Flourish with something for everyone.

Matt Carter

Prince Edward Island performance artist and musician Russell Louder is in the midst of a busy month of performing, teaching and curating live events throughout the Maritimes. Later this month, Louder will be in Fredericton taking part in Flourish, one of New Brunswick’s flagship festivals dedicated to the celebration of artistic expression through music, art installations and exhibitions.

Although they began releasing music in 2016, Louder credits the Flourish team for giving them the initial encouragement to move from the comfort of home recording to the vulnerability of live performance with an invitation to perform at last year’s festival.

“My first real live performance was last year at Flourish,” said Louder. “That was my first real Russell Louder set. I had just released an EP that I produced and it got the attention of VICE and I think that’s what got Flourish’s attention and so they invited me to come play the festival. I didn’t even have an idea of what my live set-up would look like at that point. I just said yes anyway and basically crafted a set for Flourish.”

Guided by this fearless approach to performance, Louder’s creative vision has continued to grow over the past year. Near the end of March, they announced a fifteen date tour with several events planned in Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick including a series of youth workshops focusing on performance dynamics and respecting personal boundaries.

“The workshops are aimed at kids 8-12 with an emphasis on the space being safe and welcome for queer-identified kids. We focus on group performance intervention,” they said. “We explore ‘choir’ formats, flocking exercises, and the importance of agency by setting and respecting boundaries and practicing consent. These are all skills that I feel are overlooked in in a lot of performance-based training and activities for kids.”

As part of their current tour, Louder will also be hosting Glam Caves in Fredericton and Halifax. Simply put, these events are curated safe-space parties intended to showcase and celebrate marginalized and the underrepresented performers.

“[On this tour] I’m doing performances and workshops but for me, the big kinda doozy of it all will be what I call the Glam Cave,” they said.  “It’s an event for everyone but I come from it with the goal of creating a safe space for queer people from the Maritimes. I basically take spaces, whether it be a bar, a studio or a gallery and I transform it into a cave of some kind and I try to feature artists who are either queer or people of colour because I feel these people are severely underrepresented in the Maritime music scene.”

Louder’s Glam Cave debuted last year at Floatilla, a four-day event that took place last fall in Charlottetown focused on artist-run culture in Atlantic Canada. Through their programming, Floatilla organizers aimed to challenge traditional conference and event structures by taking steps to promote inclusivity and equity – a perfect fit for Glam Cave’s debut.

“The first one was a smashing success,” said Louder. “The only problem was that the venue’s capacity was 90 so there was a line up and people were getting turned away. I guess the problem was that it was too big of a success. It was the first time that I actually took control of a show in that way. I booked a smaller venue because I wanted to be prepared in case it didn’t work out and fell flat for whatever reason. Thankfully, the exact opposite happened.”

Following Flourish, there will also be a two-night Glam Cave happening in Halifax May 4-5 during ECMA Week. Louder says the lineup for these events came together easier than expected.

“Since the ECMAs have such an astoundingly low number of queer artists and people of colour, I was able to put together an amazing lineup really quickly,” they said.

While these events are very much a political act and a reaction to the many established norms that directly lead to the marginalization of specific populations, Louder hopes to also shed some light on the opportunities and privilege event organizers possess, and how that power is reflected in our communities.

“Ultimately I’m just curating a show and I pick artists who I think are going to be great for it,” they said. “I’ve been lucky to get a lot of opportunities a lot of people don’t get in their first year and that’s something that’s often not the case for a lot of queer folks and people that aren’t cisgender and white. There’s also a great deal of privilege that I have.

“When you’re in a position of power as a promoter, which I guess I am in putting these events together, I think it’s important to be able to objectively look at the power dynamics that exist for each show and to see those with sensitivity,” they said. “And also just seeing what is not being shown or nurtured in the Maritimes. What I’ve found is that the Maritimes are full people doing incredible stuff that you just don’t see anywhere else in Canada. I feel there’s a lot of exciting music happening on the East Coast that’s not being showcased by some venues and festivals.”

With two albums of material in the works and a busy summer schedule taking shape, Louder is hesitant to speak on what the future holds for the Glam Cave idea, although at this point, all cards remain on the table. 

“A lot of ideas can start out in a really beautiful way only to later be hindered by complications or animosity in some way,” said Louder. “I’m aware that this may not be an ongoing thing but right now I’m just focused on taking it all one step at a time. As much as I want to look towards the future with Glam Cave because the idea of creating an immersive space excites the shit out of me, I also understand that the trajectory of events can be as unpredictable as anything else. It’s also a monster of a project.”

Check out Louder’s first Fredericton Glam Cave happening this month as part of Flourish Festival’s 2018 programming.

Upcoming Dates:

April 13 | Charlottetown, PEI | Sportspage
April 20 | Charlottetwon, PEI | Sportsmans
April 21 | Fredericton, NB | Flourish Festival ()
April 27 | Saint John, NB | Sanctuary Theatre
April 28 | Saint John, NB | Sanctuary Theatre +!
May 1 | Halifax, NS | Art Bar +
May 2 | Halifax, NS | Art Bar +
May 4 | Halifax, NS | Art Bar ()
May 5 | Halifax, NS | Art Bar ()
() Glam Cave
+ Workshop
+! Workshop and Performance


Russell Louder | FACEBOOK | BANDCAMP

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