Posts in Culture

Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids Interview

After being caught in an awkward introduction I met Joey Ryan last Friday evening at The Media Club in Vancouver, which is on the corner of Cambie and Georgia. After coaxing the bartender to letting me stay before the doors opened, I was invited backstage to chat and drink a beer. Ryan is a really nice guy, who seems to know a lot about the music scene — or at least the scene of americana and folk. I wasn’t able to get a conversation with Kenneth, but I met him as well and briefly passed the other members of The Barefoot Movement, who were also playing that same evening. Ryan and I talked briefly about Kacy and Clayton a band he’s really been digging lately, we then got into a conversation on Orwell and Melville and of course his band The Milk Carton Kids.

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So, tell me about the tour so far
Ryan: It has exceeded all our expectations and it’s very encouraging. Musically it goes up and down still, we struggle some nights and some nights are incredibly inspiring and inspired. All we can ask for is a nice room full of quiet fans and the rest is on us.

What’s one place you’ve wanted to play that you haven’t yet?
To answer truthfully there’s two venues in the US that I’ve wanted to play at. The Ryman in Nashville and the Greek Theatre in Berkeley California.

Tell me how you started playing guitar?
My dad taught me how to play The House of the Rising Sun, and after that I kind of picked up guitar when I was around fifteen. Not taking it too seriously as I still do.

What’s next for you guys as a band?
Well, I’d like to release another album and see where it goes from there. I mean, I want to stay with what we’ve done so far and keep things as simple as possible.

Favourite authors?
Right now I’m doing all the Melville short stories. Over the years I’ve had infatuations with Vonnegut and Huxley, José Saramago’s “Blindness” was great too.

Have either of you had vocal training or music lessons?
Neither of us has had vocal training, but musically Kenneth is trained as a cello player, and I’m not trained in either respect. But that really shapes the way Kenneth plays and hears music which brings a good quality to our process.

What is it about music that you find appealing?
In the very beginning, when I was deciding to play music right after college, which was a really conscious decision. I thought to myself, if I could create for somebody else just one time, the transcendent revelatory experience that I’ve had with music, then it would be worth while. Realizing that one truth or something about yourself, some emotion that’s felt, is what draws me to music.

Most beautiful city you’ve played in?
I love Amsterdam. We just went to Europe for the first time and that city feels like no place else. Cobblestone streets and canals, the downtown area is shaped like a semi-circle, it’s charming and enchanting.

One instrument you’ve always wanted to own or play or both?
Just yesterday, I got to pick up Noah Wall’s fiddle from The Barefoot Movement and got her to teach me a scale and a melody, it sounded terrible, but felt so good. I guess being able to play all the string instruments would be nice.

What’s the songwriting process look like for you?
Usually for me, if I’m by myself the lyrical idea inspires the creative outburst that becomes the song. I’m not somebody that wakes up hearing a melody or is struck by a progression that imposes itself. I’m usually struck by an idea that I need to express or a problem that I need to solve, it always comes out in words. For Kenneth it’s the complete opposite, sometimes he listens to a song thirty times before he hears the lyrics. That’s just one of the many ways we fill each others negative space.

Studio or home recordings and why?
We’ve never done home recording, neither of us is a professional recording engineer ha ha. We’ve had the good fortune to work with some great people.

The Milk Carton Kids & The Barefoot Movement

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I was introduced to The Milk Carton Kids only a few months ago and it all happened so fast after that. I was home from work and checked their tour dates, found out they were playing in Vancouver and was lucky enough to do a phone interview with Joey (on the left in the photo above). I then got a chance to see them perform live at The Media Clubon Friday night. Currently touring with The Barefoot Movement, which are an outrageously talented group of bluegrass, americana inspired folks.

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The venue was small, simple and really dark — which created a warm atmosphere for the music to take hold. I really appreciated the dialogue in between songs that was shared between both Joey Kenneth and this laughing lady. Their solemn take on music which combines simplicity with gracious undertones of careful execution, creates something really special. Something that you all should go check out if you get the chance — their music is bringing something back to the olden ways of performance and there’s something about that raw quality, that pureness which pushes their music into a new reality.

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Before I leave you to ponder, listen to both of these bands. I’d also like to let you all know that I was a bit courageous after I arrived at this venue. It was about an hour before the doors were to open and I snuck in and caught up with Joey Ryan, got a free PBR and went backstage for an off the cuff interview — so stay tuned for that, it’ll be in the next post.

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For more information on these two acts, click their names above — and discover some new talent. Both bands are making one last stop in New York on May 19th at The Bowery Ballroomand the Milk Carton Kids join up with Melody Pool for a spring tour of Australia which starts on June 4th.

OSIF 5 Day Film Challenge 2013

The Okanagan Society of Independent Filmmaking (OSIF) is issuing a 5 Day Film Challenge. Contestants get a secret prop and line of dialogue then 5 days to write, shoot and edit their films. A special screening and awards event will be held with the best films winning over $1000 in cash and prizes!

Learn More at their website.

Milk Carton Kids

I was extremely privileged to call Joey Ryan of Milk Carton Kids and talk to him in Denver, Colorado. The band consists of both Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale. Both growing up in Eagle Rock, California this acoustic duet each keep true to their nature of playing with only their guitars and voices. Right now these songwriters are headed across North America with: Aoife O’Donovan, The Barefoot Movement and Molly Tuttle, keep reading to see how our conversation went.

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Hey Joey, how are you?
Can’t complain, it’s a nice day in Denver.

How’s the tour going?
It’s wonderful, better than expected. But we never have very high expectations… No, we showed up to an unlikely spring blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and it was nice to wake up this morning to blue skies. The tour has been really good, so far we’ve had larger audiences and we’re getting along with each other too which is nice.

Are either of you reading or listening to anything right now?
Not for inspiration directly, but we do read and listen. I’m sure it all gets in there, I’m on a Melville kick right now—for a long time I was in a battle with Moby Dick.

How was meeting Conan O’Brien?
I was so nervous when we were there, I almost didn’t have any fun. We actually had a show that night at Largo in Los Angeles, during the three hours of downtime we had to go to sound check. So it was kind of a crazy day, we only got to meet Conan for a few minutes after the show. He talked to Kenneth about his guitar a lot and I talked to Andy Richter, who is a really funny guy and I appreciated that.

Can you tell me what inspired the song “Michigan”?
We avoid saying what inspiration yielded this song. I don’t want to limit what it means to people, by saying what it means to us. A lot of it is personal and it cuts deep into some themes of loss and regret that resonates with people, in a really powerful way.

How was playing at Tiny Desk Concerts?
That was one of those things, that was like a landmark for both mine as well as Kenneth’s careers. It was something we had aspired to and was also a lot of fun. Those people are really appreciative of music and have a nice environment for performing, they engage with you and it’s really great.

So why did you and Kenneth start Milk Carton Records?
We thought it would be cool to have our own label and well the whole thing has been self-funded for two years. We were doing all the work that a regular label would, we didn’t have employees, we hired a few people to promote our stuff for radio and oversaw the operation ourselves. I do think there’s something there and we’ve talked before about releasing other artists records in similar fashion to our own. At some point we might make Milk Carton Records into a label that exists beyond our own personal releases.

What are some of your guys biggest influences?
That’s a common question and I never have a good answer. There is a lot of music that has been important to us personally. None of it seems to rise to the surface on a conscious level, there isn’t a lot of thought put into how we should sound or what we should sound like. It all comes from how we set off together, with two guitars and two voices and to also write from as true and honest a place as possible.

Tell me your thoughts on genre designation and labels?
I think it’s a common experience when you’re deep into something, to feel a concise label in someway misses something about what you’re trying to do. At the same time, it’s a valuable short-hand to discuss something when you’re not trying to discuss it in depth. The labels do have their place, we would consider ourselves some type of folk or americana and we don’t shy away from those labels at all.

What’s your opinion of the “pay what you want” model on websites like BandCamp?
Well we did our own self-contained thing without the option to pay what you want.

What’s the main reason you released your albums for free?
The main reason we did that was to find an audience as quickly as possible. Philosophically, we wanted to have our music be non-transactional. Instead of having the choice to pay, giving it away for free allowed people to receive the music on a more pure basis. It was very important, because we made the music and expected the listeners to give their time and attention and engage with it on whatever level they wanted to. Removing any element of marketing or commercialization from us and the people receiving it, I think it’s a powerful statement.

What’s your favourite on the road food?
Oh there’s so many, we can stand the spectrum. I can get a Cracker Barrel craving and every now and then I’ll crave a chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and collard greens from there. That and we love tracking down a really nice cocktail bar and some gourmet tacos for after a show. We learned a lot of good places from the Punch Brothers. We don’t go lower than Cracker Barrel though, no fast food or anything like that.

If you’re going to be in Vancouver over the 17th of May, buy tickets to see this band play at the Media Club. An intimate venue and the show will be phenomenal. If you haven’t heard of this band yet, visit their website here to download their first two albums free! Definitely worth checking out, these guys are what true, honest music is all about.

Top 10 Talented Kids

A few weeks ago Creative Okanagan held auditions at the Laurel Packing House with the goal of finding our 2013 Top 10 Talented Kids. I know its cliché but all of us including the three judges (Robert Fine, Noel Wentworth, and Renata Mills) were blown away by the talent. The top 10 will now be seen at various festivals and events throughout the Okanagan this summer.

Wentworth Music was gracious enough to also offer some free lessons to those lucky top ten. For more information on Talented Kids go to talentedkids.ca

So without further ado I present the 2013’s Top #10 Talented Kids. If your interested in booking some talented kids for your event drop us a line at info@talentedkids.ca

Taylor Hickson

Katia Wells-Green

Shadow

Ciara Myers

Triple Threat

Jesse Mast

Austin & Charlie

Georgia Kemp

Ben Klick

Value Vs. Price: A Sort-of Love Story Involving Pizza

Mitch and Katy are a married couple. They are very close to our circle of friends. Theirs was the first wedding I attended where most of our closest friends were the wedding party, and if I remember correctly I was somehow convinced to be Katy’s bridesmaid (Mitch claimed Ryan as a groomsman, so looks like I got the short straw).

I remember specifically the first time they met, and how they fell in love, and also one time in January 2008 when Katy and I somehow locked ourselves in a small room for 10 minutes. We were in Kelowna in a room with four doors that were all locked from the outside for whatever reason. Mitch was in Vancouver (this part’s kind of important). We were both a little intoxicated and she called him of all people to rescue us. “Mitch, I need your beefcake arms to break us out of this room we’re locked in.” “I’d love to but I’m in Vancouver, Katy…” (I told you that part was important!) “Shut up! I love you!”

It was the first time she said the ‘L’ word in their relationship and I knew then they were total suckers for each other and we’d be stuck with them forever.

And ever and ever and ever...

And ever and ever and ever…

It wasn’t long after they moved in together that they found it hard to make enough money to live in Kelowna so they made the move to Van. This was 2009/10 and the blue-sky was that all of our friends would have moved to Vancouver and retired by now at the ripe old age of our mid-to-late twenties. It was sad to see them go, but they were building a life together and Vancouver’s really not that far away. There were more than a few times we would head down to visit them and could be there by brunch. Plus at our age we’re really in the ‘say so long for now’ phase; friends went to school or traveled across the country and abroad, moved away, came back and visited, we were all pretty scattered.

But I don't care where you are in the world: when Florence Welch performs, you show up.

But I don’t care where you are in the world: when Florence Welch performs, you show up.

We had built the trust and friendship that didn’t require proximity. We learned that even if we couldn’t see or speak to each other for months or years at a time, the next time we saw each other it was like no time had passed at all. This has become a pretty common theme lately as we’ve supported our friends on ambitious efforts or projects; the kind of choices that meant we’d see them less but would bring them joy and success and everything else they wanted out of life.

"Everything else," of course, meaning Butter Chicken pizza.

“Everything else,” of course, meaning Butter Chicken pizza.

They were making better money, they had a mortgage and two dogs, lived in a pretty great location about 35 minutes from our friend Ryan’s Beach House Haus in Pt. Roberts, life was ‘good.’ But really, life was starting to get a little lonely.

Our lives are pretty well documented. Our friends are all comfortable with Instagram and I have a tendency to make summer videos. 2012 was one of the best summers of all of our lives, we made a bunch of new friends who we spent a lot of time with and Katy and Mitch could see that all from the outside. They didn’t tell us too much at first, but we could sense it. Every time we’d head to Vancouver or they’d come here you’d start to hear the inflection in their voices, “We never have fun like this anymore!” “We miss you guys!” But they were paying bills and had responsibilities.

Pictured: "Responsibilities"

Pictured: “Responsibilities”

Over the winter at Katy’s place of work a mature woman lost her husband. Katy is a very loving person and was consoling the woman, but found in the end that the woman consoled her nearly as much. There is so much to learn from fully-lived lives. After 70, 80 or 90 years there’s a level of wisdom, and in some cases regret, that we can learn from to avoid some of the bigger pitfalls in life. These are the experiences that teach us the value of life rather than the cost or price. The woman explained to Katy, “You know dear, you will spend the rest of your life trying to make money, but in the end what really matters is the time you spend with the people you love.”

That’s all it took. They called a couple of us in secret at first mentioning they missed our lives together and they missed living in the same city. Katy and Mitch listed their house in April and it sold in a week and a half. They were so excited that they had to call all of us! Naturally, the one week they had this great news, Kayla and Ryan were in LA, I was in Cancun, and Jason was in Saskatoon. No one was available to hear the good news.

Pictured: "Good News"

Pictured: “Good News”

Eventually we got the texts. There were a couple days of them begging us to let them couch-hop for a month or so while they found a new place, but only a couple days later they found an apartment. An apartment that is around the corner from me. No joke, they went from living 380 km away from me, to less than 380 m away. It was an interesting week as another good friend I made over the year, Kris, moved back to Langley and we basically traded him for our dear friend Erik when he came back from UBC for the summer. Three days after Erik arrived, Katy and Mitch moved back. The four us live within the same 2 km zone in the Mission. We practically have our own beach access nearby.

Balance is restored.

Our first order of business was a pizza party last night. We grabbed a ton of veggies and got a lot of awesome suggestions:

 

 

So the point is this: Live your life for what makes you happy. Money may always be a problem (though I’m sure I’ll be able to retire at my updated date of 35-ish…), but problems never seem quite as big when the people you love — and who love you — are near.

And Beach Haus, Baby!

And Beach Haus, Baby!

Carrie Harper: Selling Art with Instagram

Frithjof Petscheleit of Tweet4OK interviews local artist Carrie Harper about selling art about selling art with Instagram.

An Evening of Continuum

Continuum: Opening Night Gala of BFA Graduation Exhibition

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Here is a list of things that I did last night, in no particular order:

  • Ate butter tarts (3 in total)
  • Two stepped obnoxiously to some rad, local music
  • Felt small, humbled and awestruck by art

I’m uncertain as to which of the above three had the most profound and memorable effect on me. Though those butter tarts were pretty life changing (okay fine, I had four, that’s it), I must say, mingling with art connoisseurs, lovers, and artists of the graduating kind and the non-graduating kind, Continuum, the UBCO’s Opening Night Gala of BFA Graduation Exhibition is the cherry on top of my weekend in the same way that strawberries were the delectable garnish atop those tasty, creamy butter tart feast (I promise that will be the last time I talk about tarts in this post).

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A lot can happen in four years. Saturday April 20th was a manifestation of just that. A proclaimed rite of passage for Fine Arts students at UBCO, the Graduate exhibition showcases the creative work of BFA students, a show that previously has shown work that has went on to receive national critical acclaim.

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Spanning the first two floors of the Creative and Critical Studies Building, Kelsi and I waltzed through an intricate display of Graduate artwork, ranging from photography, ink, oil, acrylic, sculpture, mixed media, print, typography, and installations. Saturday’s exhibition also featured live performance from the first graduating class of UBCO’s Interdisciplinary Performance Program.

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Peering through the crowds, even an external third party, not accustomed to the arts scene, the work, time and effort involved in creating an embodiment of yourself, or something like it, could see the pride and love in the final products on display and the crowds admiring them.

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And that’s literally what Saturday’s Gala felt like: swimming in a sea of proud parents, family and friends. At eight, we all pressed to the walls and stairs as heads craned in an effort view the graduating artists receiving awards in recognition for their hard work and artistic endeavors (winners listed below!)

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Canwest Global Centre Graduating Prize:
Emilia Schmidt

DVC Purchase Awards:

  1. Nadine Bradshaw
  2. Sarah Franklin
  3. Jenna Stillwell
  4. Brit Bachmann

FCCS Visual Arts Prize:
Dylan Ranney

Creative Studies Dept. Award:
Corie Waugh

BMO Competition*:

  1. Brit Bachman
  2. Nadine Bardshaw
  3. Sarah Franklin

FCCS Dean’s Office Purchase Award:
Devon Kennedy

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