Distro project to bring remote and regional scenes into larger cohesive community of Canadian independent music
Since its inception in Edmonton in 2009, Weird Canada has become a virtual hub that has fostered a no-genre identity for music that “takes risks and experiments” – think of it as a site that champions those bands, artists and musicians who willingly, gleefully, operate from the fringes.
But while the site, which has since migrated to Ontario, has been successful in exposing these projects to a national level of notoriety – it left the founders of Weird Canada with the question on how to take their work further. On one hand, they had developed a tool that had garnered an audience rabid for new music. But how to connect those fans interested in buying the music?
Strangely enough, the solution has come in the form of a massive, non-stop internet swap meet yard sale.
On Saturday February 15, Weird Canada is launching its Wyrd Distro, the first non-profit online-store and distribution service dedicated to emerging and experimental Canadian music. It’s the result of Weird Canada site founders Marie Claire Flanagan and Aaron Levin receiving a $50,000 FACTOR grant to build a distribution centre for Canadian music, which will connect indie musicians, physical releases – vinyl, CD, cassettes – with fans and record stores around the world.
“There are so many people out there who are secret bedroom artists who are making amazing music. And there are fans all across Canada who want to buy this music,” says Flanagan. “Sometimes they can buy it directly from the artist, in person or through the mail. But it can be hard for artists to make time from their jobs or whatever to get this music out there and to make sense of the distribution world.
“There have been some distros in the past but there is a lack of transparency. We see a lot of music coming through and we thought that we could build a system that will allow for a portal to facilitate this buying and selling. And because we are non-profit it will happen at the least amount of cost to the artist.”
Flanagan says that artists can send in a specific number of cassettes or CDs and track their sales – “if someone in Moose Jaw buys a tape you can log in to the distro and see where that tape went. And then you can request however much money you made at that point,” says Flanagan.
Saskatchewan: also Wyrd
Head over to the Weird Canada website and click on the map of Canada that comes up on the right. From there you can navigate the expanse of our country by region. Dive into Saskatchewan and you may lose your mind in the strange wealth of underground music that springs forth.
There’s a lot of really cool shit to listen to. There are some familiar faces in the mix – expect to see reviews of The Moas, Shooting Guns, Wizards and more.
There’s also some fairly obscure stuff, like Robin and the Hairy Bats from Regina, and Depatterning from Preeceville.
Weird Canada staff writer Josh Robinson, who contributes reviews for the site in addition to being a member of Saskatoon’s Sound and Silence Collective, has high hopes for the distro. He says the project is a means of welcoming upcoming bands and musicians – especially those who live in remote areas – into the larger cohesive community of Canadian independent listening audiences, musicians and record stores.
“I’ve felt that Saskatoon has always existed on a hazy third dimension between the more interconnected and geographically ‘close’ communities such as Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver and Calgary.
“Saskatoon is emerging as a truly powerful force in the emerging and experimental do-it-yourself and do-it-together musician landscapes, and I feel that the Wyrd Distro service will serve as a bridge between the creation and purchase of musical content.”
Because Saskatchewan is just as weird as the rest of the country.
As part of the distro launch, Weird Canada has organized over 20 gatherings across Canada. And it wouldn’t be a party without Saskatoon coming in and stinking up the place, right?
Starting at 1 pm on Saturday, Beaumont Records will host the local launch of the distro. While every major city between Victoria and Halifax has their own events to tend to, those of us in Saskatoon will be able to check out projects such as Poler Bear and Cid Vishnu & Surely I Come Quickly (aka, Syd & Shirley).