The Greville Tapes Music Club reconstructs collaborative music making.
By Matt Carter
“It’s one of those things I’ve had booting around in my brain for I don’t know how many years,” said Peter Rowan. “As someone who doesn’t make music, the collaborative process is mind-blowing to me. Watching musicians who never rehearsed together get on stage and jam like they’ve played together their entire lives. That to me is just magic. It’s mystical.”
In spite of his admitted lack of musicianship, Rowan is responsible for helping bring some of the East Coast’s most recognised musicians out of the coffee shops and basement venues, and onto stages across the country. From Sloan to Eric’s Trip to his later work helping develop Julie Doiron’s career as a solo artist, his impact and love for music in undeniable. But he is also a passionate curator. His interest in bringing together artists for a collective experience fueled the creation of two major Canadian music festivals – Halifax Pop Explosion and POP Montreal.
“I love curating,” said Rowan. “Lots of thought goes into every band and all the different threads that tie everything together.”
And he’s at it again. But this time he’s taking a different approach. By distilling down his collective passions, Rowan created The Greville Tapes Music Club, a unique pairing of artistic vision and musicianship, the premise of which is really quite simple – bring some unlikely musicians into a studio together and see what happens.
“Part of this is to put people in non-obvious situations,” he said. “It’s an exciting experiment.”
The creative process, which is a major part of the excitement for Rowan, will take place in the home-based recording studio run by Colleen Collins and Dave Trenaman (Construction Deconstruction) in Port Greville, Nova Scotia.
“Their place, that space, that area, them, I’ve literally spent the past few years wracking my brain trying to figure something to do down there.”
And now he has. To test the idea and process involved, Rowan has put together three musical pairings and is finalizing a fourth. To date, he has coupled Fredericton’s Motherhood with Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist Catriona Sturton, Sackville’s Julie Doiron with Montreal rock outfit Nasty Pants and Saint John’s Little You Little Me with underground legend, Eamon McGarth.
The first chapter in this experiment is currently underway. Motherhood and Catriona Sturton have taken up residence in Port Greville. Following a quick hibernation which involves writing and recording some original material and a pair of cover tunes, both artists will hit the road for a six-date Maritime tour, complete with limited edition cassettes (produced on the spot) featuring the recorded results of their collaboration. And that’s just part of what this ambitious project is all about.
“I think collaboration is everything when it comes to art.”
“This initial series involves four pairings and from that we’ll produce four 45 RPM 12” singles,” said Rowan. “They’ll be available through a subscription basis sort of like the classic SubPop singles club. Theoretically, I’m hoping to have the vinyl of the first session ready by early April and I hope to have the fourth one ready for Sappy Fest in August.”
The Greville Tapes Music Club is more than a simple collaboration between two groups of musicians. It is a partnership centred on the belief that good things happen when people work together. In addition to the performers working to create and perform new original Canadian music, the project also plans to involve a series of videographers and visual artists who will document the experience, promoters and venues to host performances, and a record label to produce and distribute the vinyl pressings.
“I think collaboration is everything when it comes to art,” said Little You Little Me’s Corey Bonnevie. “Everyone I play with plays in other projects. It’s the best way for artists to grow. If you’re never challenged yourself, you’ll never progress. Being around other musicians, I often see which ones I can try to grab things from. I’m usually thinking, ‘Why’d they play it like that?’, ‘How do I play like that?’, or ‘How did they think of that?’. I never want to be the best musician in the room. Anytime I see myself progressing, it’s because I’ve been influenced by those around me.”
“It is ambitious but it’s totally doable.”
Bonnevie recently launched Monopolized Records to release the work of his own band and others from the area. The label has now signed on to handle vinyl and digital distribution of the series.
“I’m excited to add this idea and series to Monopolized,” he said. “Vinyl is so exciting to me. I’ve been listening to vinyl since I’ve been playing music. I never thought I’d have my music on vinyl or start a label.”
The Greville Tapes Music Club is an ambitious undertaking and one that relies on the strength and resources of everyone involved. But it stands to get a lot of things right. Collaboration is one of the main strengths of the East Coast music community. Working together is no longer viewed as something unique – it’s simply the best way to get things done. Pairing Rowan’s experience with the drive of Fredericton’s Shifty Bits Cult and the excitement surrounding Saint John’s Monopolized Records, not to mention all the other hands involved in the project, the results of such an experiment can only prove positive.
“It is ambitious but it’s totally doable,” said Rowan. “The scale here is nothing ridiculous. The keys to getting this going was to find the right people to be able to do this. Motherhood and Catriona where so enthusiastic right from the get-go. Having these two groups involved brings the kind of personalities that are going to thrive in these environments. Collective personalities and collaborative people. I’m pretty excited this thing is happening.”
Follow The Greville Tapes Music Club on Facebook and keep an eye out for a crowdfunding campaign with a lot of superb bonuses coming in the near future.
And witness the results firsthand this week:
December 3rd – Sackville – Thunder & Lightning Ltd. (w/ Construction & Destruction) https://www.facebook.com/events/1643738459216198/
December 4th – Halifax – The Company House (w/ David R. Elliott) https://www.facebook.com/events/1716025088630348/
December 5th – Moncton – Spin-It Records (matinee, w/ Riet Soda) https://www.facebook.com/events/1513728945592694/
December 5th – Saint John – Taco Pica (w/ Bad People) https://www.facebook.com/events/1703412379874794/
December 6th – St. Andrews – Bantry Bay Farm (house show) https://www.facebook.com/events/143468632676853/
December 7th – Fredericton – ReNeu Boutique (w/ Pierre Von Biscuit) https://www.facebook.com/events/537750723067737/