Coast to Coast to Coast

Blog Documents the Weirder Sides of the Canadian Music Scene

  • Weird Canada lends an ear to Canadian musicians. Graphic Daryna Rukhlyadeva

Our Great White North, whether you know it or not, is bursting with a rich underground music scene.

Our Great White North, whether you know it or not, is bursting with a rich underground music scene.

For any music lover particularly interested in the Canadian scene, alternative blog Weird Canada is beginning to scrape the surface and upturn an immaculate collection of strange Canadian gems.

Edmontonian Aaron Levin is the mastermind behind the site, using the Internet to provide a much-needed space for musicians to get their music heard.

After working some time for a music blog called Waxidermy and landing a gig at a radio station, Levin recognized a common trend for small-name bands.

“I began to notice a bedroom, do it yourself scene in Canada [where artists] were all making this [great] music, but then they would fade away really quick. I felt like this sort of scene kept on disappearing because there was no voice or media for it,” he explained.

“My vision [for] Weird Canada was to capture [this] music scene in Canada, as no such blog or website devoted to Canadian music at this stage existed,” he said.

Levin believes that Canada harnesses an interesting music scene because of our “economic isolation, physical enormity, and extreme climate [that] causes a psychic shift in our creative consciousness. As such, the scene here is audibly unique.”

After getting the site up and running 18 months ago, Levin immediately saw a positive response from the public.

“People responded really quickly and I think the reason for that is that when you start a blog and start writing about Animal Collective, Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, and !!! (Chk Chk Chk), these bands may not be aware of what you’re doing,” he said. “But when you start talking about someone [unknown] and you’re the very first outlet for this artist, then immediately they share it with their friends and they all start talking about it and everyone is really excited.”

The website also allows browsing of its archives by province. While Weird Canada covers music from every corner of the country, Montreal-based bands definitely have Levin’s attention.

“I’m so enamoured by Montreal as a community and as a city,” he explained. “I think Montreal has two really strong things going for it. I think, culturally, there is openness to new ideas. Also, there is a real density in Montreal that allows a sustainability of different music scenes,” Levin said. “And so the music scenes begin to overlap and collaborate and draw influences from each other.”

“And your living expenses are a lot lower,” added Levin, a luxury that allows artists to be, well, artists.

Local bands—such as Pink Noise, Grimes, Sean Nicholas Savage, D’EON, Silly Kissers, Blue Hawaii, Futensil, Black Feelings, Dead Wife, The Peelies, Omon Ra II, just to name a few—have appeared on the site.

Tapes and seven-inch vinyl seem to be a preferred medium for budding musicians these days, with plenty of bands offering albums online for free or as a pay what you can download.

Transcending both economic status and geographic location, the Internet is transforming music, offering new opportunities for musicians and more exposure across the country. Weird Canada has played an integral part in this process by harvesting a new platform in which artists can be heard and emerge out of.

“When I think about the future of Canadian music, I think that the middle ground is going away. [I think] that there is a shift towards a DIY aesthetic and music being treated as a vanity object.”

As for Levin and the future of Weird Canada?

“I’m embarking on two larger projects, one to create a national show listing and events calendar and another that I’m keeping secret.”

Levin will be doing a talk with Pop Montreal at the end of September. Visit http://weirdcanada.com for more details about the talk.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 03, published August 31, 2010.

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