Last Thursday I did a session at the Station Recording Company’s studio in Calgary. We recorded some demos for a new album that’s in the works. I was joined by Spider Bishop on the upright bass and Aleksandra Danicic on the violin.
Both of these outstanding musicians are good friends of mine and the three of us comprise the core group that will play on the new album. We’ve been rehearsing and playing gigs together to get to know my new songs and I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going. Both Spider and Aleksandra are sensitive and creative players who add tremendous depth to the new collection of material I’ve been developing.
I became aware of the Station Recording Company through my friend Craig Newnes who is a partial owner and principal member of the Station’s team. Craig is a producer and mixing/mastering engineer. He studied recording at Selkirk College near Nelson, BC and boasts a wealth of experience as a musician and producer. He’s also an authentic and generally superb human being, so it was an easy choice to ask him to produce my new album with me.
Craig’s partner at the Station Recording Company is Spencer Cheyne. Spencer is a producer and recording engineer as well as a professional drummer. Working with him on Thursday I was struck by his insight and creativity. He was manning the soundboard when we recorded our demos and will be doing the same when we do our final sessions in January. He’ll also be providing his services as a percussionist on the record. I’m very excited to have him working with us on this project.
Spider, Aleksandra and I will be working hard over the next couple months to develop the demos that we cut on Thursday. We’ll be back in the studio to do final sessions for the new album during the last week of January. Stay tuned for more news and updates as my new album moves steadily towards fruition!
Icy wind moans, rattles
hard chill windowpane.
Frost sparkles, aches
Dull pools of light
stretch through my
Snow swirls like smoke
buries my car in wind polished drifts
stretching out beyond the
It’s not safe to drive today.
I wake and make my morning coffee
outside the snow keeps falling and
It’s a goddamn mess.
I call up Penny in Red Deer to
let her know
I won’t be there tonight to play
the Velvet Olive.
She completely understands
and though I offer to find
another band to play tonight
She’ll take care of it.
Big heart and a little bar with
arty decor and no T.V.
always there listening to the
bands when they play.
Behind the bar
Syfronia and Pierre
welcoming patrons, musicians and
Sorry to miss you guys.
I had to fall back.
I am pleased to share a video of myself and Aleksandra Danicic (violin) performing my song Wishing Well. This was recorded at a house concert near Water Valley, AB in September of 2013.
Last weekend Breakout West and the Western Canadian Music Awards descended upon Calgary. Each year this music festival, industry conference and awards gala centers itself on a different city in Western Canada. I was thrilled this year’s event was held in my hometown!
The conference was fantastic. There were excellent and informative panel discussions on topics ranging from touring overseas to promoting music with social media. On top of formal learning opportunities there were plenty of chances to socialize and network. Not only did I get to see and catch up with lots of old friends from Western Canada’s music biz but I had the opportunity to cultivate new friendships as well.
The Western Canadian Music Awards were also very cool. I’m excited to report that my album Inner Alchemy was nominated for Album Design of the Year. My good friend Bryn Thorhaug is the one responsible for the album’s spectacular artwork and he received the nomination. Even though Inner Alchemy didn’t win it was exciting to be included in the list of nominees!
Perhaps the best part of Breakout West was the sheer volume of incredible music happening all over Calgary. Some of my friends performed including the T. Buckley and 100 Mile House. I also saw a band from Winnipeg that I really enjoyed called Mahogany Frog. Their hypnotizing brand of psychedelic prog-rock had me grooving hard in the basement of the Palomino on Friday night and they took home some hardware as winners of the Instrumental Album of the Year Award.
I have to say my favorite performance of the weekend was from Vancouver’s very own Petunia and the Vipers. Their self-titled album has been playing relentlessly on my car stereo ever since I saw them play at the Folk Alliance in Toronto last winter. Let me tell you friends, this band is hot! Petunia writes songs that are at once modern and deeply rooted. He captivates a crowd with his powerful energy and his band is made up of some of Canada’s finest players. Keep your ear to the ground and definitely do not miss a chance to see them play!
Thanks for a memorable weekend, Breakout West. Looking forward to next year’s party in Winnipeg!
I’m excited to announce some performance dates in and around Southern Alberta this fall. I’m working on a new album and have been taking time and space to write lots of new songs. The writing has been going well and it’s time to start sharing some new material!
Here are a few upcoming performance dates:
September 21 – House Concert – Water Valley, AB
October 10 – Mikey’s Juke Joint – Calgary, AB
October 19 – Legacy Guitar House – Cochrane, AB
November 2 – Velvet Olive – Red Deer, AB
November 22 – Calgary Drop-In Center – Calgary, AB
Please check the Gigs page of this website for more details and check in again at www.ethancollister.com soon for more news and gig listings.
Physical album sales have nearly become a thing of the past. Digital files can be downloaded with the click of a button and have revolutionized the way music fans build their libraries. With such ease of access why on earth would anyone want to go to a store and pay for a clunky CD that will just get scratched up anyway?
And truth be told, record stores are not selling very many CDs. Some people buy CDs from independent bands they want to support, but not many people I know are perusing the shelves of HMV looking for bands they hear on the radio. Most of that business is happening online.
Yet, in a music market that exists increasingly in the digital realm, vinyl maintains a strong niche market for collectors and audiophiles who are seeking to engage with music on a heightened and multi-sensory level.
Why are these fans still going out of their way to purchase physical albums on vinyl?
Vinyl offers a sensory experience that is lacking in digital mediums. Many people still enjoy this sensory experience and are even willing to pay for it.
Here are five sensible reasons why vinyl is so damn cool:
1. You can feel it.
Recall the weight and worn texture of a faded LP cover slipping off a shelf and into your hands. It feels special to hold. Now blow off the dust and set the record gently on your turntable. This physical ritual builds anticipation towards your listening experience.
2. You can see it.
The cover art is big, bold and iconic. The size of the picture allows you to sink deeper into the images and engage with them. It’s enormous in scale compared to a CD or digital file and beneath that cover lays the shine and shimmer of a vinyl disc ready to spin hypnotically beneath a needle.
3. You can smell it.
Paper and cardboard sleeves emit a fragrance not unlike the pages of a book. New vinyl emits a clean and crisp smell that is exciting and fresh. Old vinyl carries a dusty odor that takes you back through years of enjoyment.
4. You can hear it.
Super visceral sonic energy passes through the air when a record is played on a turntable. From the first crackle and pop when the needle drops to the soft analog warmth of the playback, no other audio format is as rich with life as a vinyl record.
Vinyl also has the potential to technically sound better than any other form of recording. A vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound’s waveform. This means that the waveforms from a vinyl recording can be much more accurate than digital mediums and you can hear that in the richness of the sound.
5. You can taste it.
When eating vinyl I prefer to add a flavorful jalapeño hot sauce, but you can season it however you like!
Bonus reason: It’s collectible.
Amongst collectors there is no more authentic form of audio than vinyl. It’s the one original, timeless and persistent format that never stops being cool.
Why is vinyl is so damn cool to you? Please comment below!
1. The Canadian flag is a picture of a leaf.
2. Health care in Canada is universally accessible.
3. Canada is a multicultural nation that champions personal freedoms.
4. Although Canada’s official languages are English and French, 20% of Canada’s population speaks languages other than English and French at home.
5. A plethora of amazing musicians and bands hail from Canada including Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Lenny Breau, Jonie Mitchell, Feist, the Arcade Fire and very many more.
6. Federal and provincial governments in Canada support the arts with grants, bursaries and award programs.
7. Canada has two official national sports. Hockey is the national winter sport and lacrosse is the national summer sport.
8. There are more than 630 recognized First Nations bands/governments across Canada that comprise a population of nearly 700,000 people.
9. Canada has a geographical area 9,984,670 km2 (larger than United States or China) and hosts a total population of only 34.48 million people (fewer than the population of California).
10. Canadians pack more celebration and adventure into a measly two months of summer than most people do into a year.
11. Other countries like us, eh!
What am I missing? Please comment below and have a happy Canada Day!
The final nominees for the Western Canadian Music Awards have been announced and I’m thrilled to report that my album ‘Inner Alchemy’ has been nominated for Album Design of the Year. Congratulations to Bryn Thorhaug who designed the cover art and received the nomination!
Bryn is a good friend of mine and an extremely talented artist. I approached him about putting together artwork for ‘Inner Alchemy’ as I was wrapping up recordings for the project. I knew I had chosen the right artist for the job when he insisted he could not produce any artwork without hearing the music first. It was important to both of us that the artwork and music work cohesively together.
I sent Bryn rough mixes of the songs and about two weeks later he showed me some ideas he had been developing. Needless to say I was impressed by what he had produced.
Bryn’s drawings are captivating. He was able to capture the introspective nature of my music in his work. His alluring design is a definitive representation of the album’s musical content.
Now Bryn’s work is being celebrated and ‘Inner Alchemy’ is up for Album Design of the Year at the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards!
The Western Canadian Music Awards will be held in Calgary this October and are part of the annual Breakout West Conference and Festival. For more info and to check out the complete list of awards and nominees visit: http://breakoutwest.ca
Congratulations to Bryn the rest of this year’s nominees. I’m looking forward to Breakout West in Calgary this fall!
Standing in the basement
of my childhood
cool dark embrace of
underground air raising
goose bumps on
there are slits on the inside of
my fingers and I am
terrible inside me
starves to be
Barely protruding from a slit
on my inner finger
is the tip of
the head of a
I grab it
try to pull it out
but it just
I walk down a concrete hall
stand before an enormous fish tank
and the fish tank is
Inside the tank are
bubbles, plants, fish and
all sorts of
Many of the bugs
in this burgeoning ecosystem
are a healthy part of
Others are not
though it occurs to me
there are much more good bugs
than bad ones.
What’s even better is the
good bugs put an end to the
I breathe a deep sigh of relief
feel my body relax and
enter a meditative
Eyes closed in silent
I am awoken
a tiny weight drops
into the palm of
It tickles and squirms and
when I look down I see
the bug has fallen
out from my
I gaze at the fish tank
and it’s looking
I’m excited about a new set of songs I’ve been developing over the past year or so. They are challenging, inspiring, deeply personal and full of raging passion. They are my most accomplished work to date.
My worry has been that I do not have the resources to bring these songs to life. How will I be able to produce a proper recording and share them with the world?
Some months ago I tried to remedy this by applying to Rawlco Radio’s 10K20 Funding Program for a grant to produce a new album. Many hopeful weeks went by and I heard nothing.
Then, out of nowhere, I received an email from Marianne at the station asking if I could come down for a meeting to answer a few extra questions in regards to my application. Although I thought this to be a positive sign, I was nervous about answering questions about my application. I couldn’t even remember what I’d written!
I anticipated this meeting with mild anxiety and great excitement. It seemed important to make a good impression and I took great care to ensure I’d be in a good space for the meeting. Meditation, proper sleep and exercise…I even booked the day off work!
The time came and I dressed myself sharply. I drove to the station drinking herbal tea and listening to Navajo flute music. I focused on my breath and tried to remain calm and centered. Om…..
I arrived at the station and was directed to a meeting room. When I stepped inside there were roughly 25 people gathered around a long table. Some were from the station but most were artists. There was beer and wine and everyone seemed to be in high spirits.
Marianne called the room to order and explained that they really had just one question to ask the grant applicants that were gathered there:
“In a year’s time, can you make an album?”
Never before have I received funding to produce a project. I can’t say how grateful I am to Rawlco Radio for choosing to support my work. I will have an opportunity to bring my new collection of songs to life after all.
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce a new album is in the works! The new project will be ready for release sometime in 2014. I will be sharing my journey of creation through this blog so please…
Stay tuned for news and updates!
~ Ethan Collister