Open to all women, femme and non-binary people, Sunday Music Spa is a place for non-musicians to “experiment without expectations”.
On a quiet summer Sunday afternoon in July, two friends are busy setting up instruments and PA equipment inside the event space at Fredericton’s Picaroons Roundhouse. A labyrinth of patch cables and power bars run between various synths, samplers, keyboards and other electronic gadgets haphazardly scattered across the floor. Another Sunday Music Spa is about to begin.
Launched in 2017 by visual artist Erin Goodine and musician Indigo Poirier, Sunday Music Spa is a series of semi-regular music events designed as a welcoming safe space for women, femme and non-binary people to create music together and enjoy an afternoon of community and friendship.
“We started at Flourish Festival last year and I think we had a couple over the summer of 2017,” said Goodine. “After that we started doing them regularly with Connexion ARC in January of this year leading up to Drone Day. So I think all in all we have maybe held seven of these events so far.”
Inspired in part by previous National Drone Day events, a one day, nationwide experimental “anti-music” free-for-all that began in 2014, Sunday Music Spa is as much about sound as it is about community.
“We’re really trying to create a space to encourage people who aren’t really musicians to try their hand at making music,” said Goodine. “The response has been pretty positive so far. I think for the most part we’ve had as many as 12 or 13 people out for a single session. One of the first ones we did was in my studio. My studio is not very large and it was crammed full of people. It was really fun.”
The majority of Sunday Music Spa events have taken place at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre with the exception of the recent summer edition at Picaroons Roundhouse. While attendance varies from just a handful of people to much larger crowds depending on the day Goodine, admits her motivation behind making these events happen isn’t attendance driven.
“It’s very much just to create a space to relax and chill out,” she said. “You don’t have to participate. We’ve had people just sit in and listen and enjoy the space. I guess it’s really one of those things where we just set up the space and hope people show up and enjoy it.
“We’ve definitely had people come back for multiple sessions,” said Goodine, “and it’s almost been a 50/50 split between musicians and non-musicians.”
Besides creating a positive environment, Sunday Music Spa events also offer a place for the musically curious to sit down and make a little noise without worry.
“I have lots of friends who are musicians and playing music has always been something that has interested me,” said Goodine, who considers herself a non-musician. “I just haven’t pursued that interest so with the Sunday Music Spa, it’s nice of have a space to experiment without expectations.”
Through her involvement in organizing and participating in Sunday Music Spa events, Goodine is now a member of the band Terre Wa and has even played a few shows since first trying her hand at music last year.
“Indigo and I ended up playing a show at Read’s Newsstand before they closed,” she said. “It was a fully improvised set, kind of like what do at these events, and now it’s turned into a full band. Emily Kennedy has joined us on cello and we just played our first show with her in Saint John last week.”
Poirier is a well-known Fredericton electronic musician who supplies a lot of the gear used at Sunday Music Spa events. For them, Sunday Music Spa offers a chance to try out new ideas, to collaborate and to meet other people who may share their interest in synth-based music.
“It has been really nice to get involved with the community and it’s a great way to get to know other people who are into electronic music,” they said. “It’s nice to see people come in and have fun who might not otherwise feel comfortable messing around with synths or might not have the chance to otherwise. And it’s just nice to play music with people.”
While the next Fredericton Sunday Music Spa won’t be happening until sometime in the fall, Goodine and Poirier will be taking the event to Saint John for Quality Block Party, August 10-12.