by Amber Goodwyn
Weird Canada says “we are northernly”. The popular website is a northernly force of nature.
Weird Canada (weirdcanada.com) is essentially a music blog championing underground, “weird” music. It’s got wonderfully hyperbolic reviews written by clever and musically adventurous musicians and music lovers. It also has reviews of underground publications, essays on underground culture, podcasts, and real live human events — mainly music shows, of course.
Weird Canada’s latest feat of strength is bound to be a game changer: with the help of a $50,000 FACTOR grant they (amazingly) received last year, the website will now become an underground music distributor under the moniker Wyrd Distro. This makes it an invaluable resource for bedroom record labels and underground musicians looking to connect with audiences.
As an added dimension, the website is launching Weird Canada Imprint — a monthly blog series which will profile micro-independent record labels from across the country, some of whom will be represented by Wyrd Distro.
I spoke with the Weird Canada Imprint editor, Josh Robinson, about his new gig. Josh, conveniently, also lives in Saskatoon, and he had a few Sask. label suggestions to share.
How important are underground labels and music databases for the contemporary music listener?
I think that nowadays all the creative impetus is really starting to fall on the individual, independent musician. A micro-independent record label is a label that’s based locally… essentially friends helping friends help friends. That’s the big thing these days: labels that are entirely community focused, as opposed to a major label going, ‘Here, we’re going to sign an artist to a four-year release deal and see what happens.’
Do you have any Saskatchewan-based micro-independent record labels to recommend?
My personal favorite is Leaning Trees Records. They don’t release often, but what they have released has been unbelievable — everything from Shooting Guns to a Caves/Stephen Cooley split cassette to the new Ketamines 7”. Leaning Trees has done for [Saskatoon’s] underground music what an underground record label should do — bring disparate musicians together and really help them with promotion, distribution and physical format releases.
Short run experimental and electronic label Pop Quiz is really the polar opposite: quick run, digital, easily accessible and with an artist catalogue that runs about as thick and as deep as the Saskatoon phone book. Their approach is to collect music across varying genres and release it digitally.
I’m a part of a record label here in Saskatoon called the Sound and Silence Collective, and we’re doing a lot of the bedroom stuff as well.
This interview was edited for publication. The full article will be posted on prairiedogmag.com on Friday.