FLOURISH launches international collaboration series

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Fredericton’s multidisciplinary arts festival announces collaborative music series pairing musicians from New Brunswick and Scotland for an upcoming EP release.

Matt Carter

It’s a sure sign we’ve crossed the midpoint of winter when FLOURISH starts sharing news about upcoming projects. Since 2014, the Fredericton-based multidisciplinary arts festival has served as a beacon of hope during what many consider to be the most challenging time of the year. The dead of winter. Much like those occasional warm days that can pop up every now and then and remind us all that winter will in fact come to an end, eventually, updates and news from FLOURISH are always exciting and greatly appreciated this time of year. Even though the festival’s programming has shifted from spring to early summer, the effect has not been diminished. Not even remotely. 

A big part of the excitement that comes from reading news and updates about the festival’s plans for the year ahead has to do with the fluid approach organizers take to programming each new edition. Sure, there are always similarities from one year to the next, but unlike a lot of other festivals that take place here in New Brunswick during any given year, FLOURISH has been able to retain some sense of unpredictability, which only adds to the excitement and eventually, the experience. 

Part of what makes each new year of FLOURISH unique has to do with the use of unconventional spaces like empty offices, alley ways, store windows and shops, which all serve as stages for exhibitions and performances. But a larger part of it has to do with the understanding that, in order to properly serve an artist and their work, an event like FLOURISH needs to cater to the artist more than the other way around. 

As a festival founded and run by artists, each new edition of FLOURISH is a bit like stepping into an artist’s studio and witnessing first-hand, an unimaginable array of ideas on full display. Some of the ideas will be fully formed while others have yet to establish their own identity. But each presents a value that serves to celebrate the process and what it means to be creative and work free from boundaries. 

One of the first projects announced for the 2022 FLOURISH Festival involves musicians from New Brunswick and Scotland working collaboratively to write and record new songs. The first collaborative pairing in this series will see the Fredericton-based group Marian working with Glasgow-based singer songwriter Kim Grant and her solo project, Raveloe

This project for FLOURISH represents the second major collaborative opportunity for Marian in less than a year. Marian was one of six participants in the second season of the Greville Tapes Music Club (released in January) where the band worked alongside Saint John musician Geoff Smith and his project, Tooth & The Fang

Grant, who BBC Scotland named one of 25 Scottish artists to watch in 2022, is also no stranger to collaboration. Last year she was one of several artists to take part in Eurotoire, an initiative led by Louvana Records based in Nicosia, Cyprus. Eurotoire brought together ten songwriters, three producers and seven session musicians from Cyprus, Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia and Scotland in a sort of musical cultural exchange which resulted in the forthcoming double album, On A Red Thursday. If you’re curious to learn more about this project, check out this short film.

“It’s exciting to me to connect with musicians who belong to another booming music scene,” said Grant. “This sort of exchange is enriching, and really cool to remember how small the world is.”

Unlike what the members of Marian experienced during their sessions for the Greville Tapes Music Club, this new project with Grant will see both parties starting their collective process from the ground up. 

“With the Greville Tapes Music Club, we brought ideas and thoughts that were already complete or close to it,” said Marian’s Jerry-Faye Flatt. “This type of collaboration is entirely different and quite unfamiliar, which makes it more fun, and a challenge that we are looking forward to.”

Grant believes one of the biggest challenges posed by collaborative projects can be deciding how to begin. Establishing some common ground is essential, especially when both parties involved are meeting for the first time.  

“We started out by sharing our own music so we can see where we are coming from and then made some suggestions around the vibe and feel of the song, using other songs we find inspiring as connection points to build upon,” said Grant. “Dylan [Ward] had a couple of ideas for some chord progressions. I chose the one which spoke to me the most and from there we all took turns playing with vocal melodies.”

“I think collaboration is a beautiful way to break your usual habits when it comes to approaching a song. It’s a learning opportunity too. You learn from each other.”

– Raveloe

Grant says leaving room for alternate ideas is a big part of how she approaches collaboration. 

“I think those precious sparks of creativity that can happen during the song writing process are important, but it’s a balance,” she said. “Sometimes someone else has another idea. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to cancel each other out. For example, with more than one vocal melody, you could use them in different parts of the song. Or use one melody with another instrument. I think collaboration is a beautiful way to break your usual habits when it comes to approaching a song. It’s a learning opportunity too. You learn from each other.”

Shortly after announcing Marian and Raveloe, FLOURISH announced a second pairing which will see Saint John musician Sadie working with the Paisley rapper, Empress. Another Greville Tapes Music Club alumnus, Sadie’s recordings made with Halifax indie rock trio Designosaur were also released as part of GTMC Vol. 2. 

Recordings from both of these recently announced collaborations, as well as those yet to be announced, will be shared as part of a special EP release set to arrive later this summer.

FLOURISH Festival 2022 will take place June 16-19 in Fredericton. 

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Cover photo: Raveloe – facebook.com/raveloemusic

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