Babysitter: stellar cellar Canadian culture
by Carl Johnson
There’s been a change in Canadian independent music recently. Blogs like Weird Canada have given a voice to obscure creators across the country who are pushing the boundaries of modern music.
That means there’s now a way to hear and enjoy some of what’s being created in basements and garages across the country — stuff you would never in a million years hear on the Wolf and other FM radio, or even the CBC.
One band that’s benefiting is the Victoria-based group Babysitter. Weird Canada (weirdcanada.com) has championed this gritty rock trio, which has a sound somewhere between Neil Young’s rougher cuts and The Stooges filtered through a shitty car stereo. Babysitter has put out a string of gloriously lo-fi recordings over the last few years, including a self-released cassette series of five albums as well as a split 7” with Student Loan Records’ band Korean Gut. Recently they put out their first “proper” full length, Eye, on Montreal label Psychic Handshake.
Babysitter pretty much lives a shamanic lifestyle of constant playing and DIY recording. The band books all their own shows and keeps a ridiculous tour schedule. In one part of the current 18-stop trip, the band will play 11 gigs in 11 days in 11 different cities from Hamilton to Chicago to Vancouver.
Regina is number six in that stretch.
“We don’t discriminate much on where we play,” says singer and guitarist Kristian. “Babysitter has always put an emphasis on playing shows as often as possible. Recording is often the same thing. We like to record ourselves — or rather have Andy, our bass player, record us, on our reel-to-reel.”
Drummer Aden fills out the trio. (The band prefer to use only their first names when dealing with music affairs, for a number of colourful reasons.)
Babysitter’s persistence is starting to pay off — especially in this country, where their new record is getting national attention.
“Canada is great [for us right now], with huge help from Weird Canada,” says Kristian. “They really brought a scene of weirdos together across a country that is so big but so thinly populated, and brought a much larger interest [to the] great music being made all over the place.”
Weird Canada recently received a $50,000 grant from the Canadian arts funding organization FACTOR to create a worldwide music distribution system for independent Canadian artists.
“They’re making touring and distribution easier in Canada, [which is] totally rad,” Kristian says. “Having just been in America where we played with a million bands, I can say that I’m very excited about Canadian music right now.”
It’s encouraging to hear a band that has toured so extensively sound so obstinately optimistic about what they’re doing.
Earlier this summer, another emerging Victoria lo-fi band, Slam Dunk, played the legendary-but-now-defunct Smith Street House venue in Regina and blew a lot of minds. Babysitter has played all over North America but their upcoming show at The Club will be their first time in the Queen City.
“Never played, very psyched to check it out,” says Kristian, who was about to head off to play a Kitchener/Waterloo show. One more stop on the forever tour.
Babysitter plays The Club at the Cultural Exchange on Tuesday Aug. 27. Regina acts Pulsewidth and Electric Mother open. Doors at 8, tickets $5.