There are a handful of artists that I consider comrades, brothers or friends. This week at the Peak Performance Project I think I can include Layten Kramer and Leeroy Stagger into this select few; they are people who are on a similar ride and I always find that we need each other, we are the old farmers in a small town that have coffee together before work most mornings. These are the people that I try to share my little victories with, and hope to share in theirs.
Celebrating little victories is one of the most important things to me as a musician.
Recently I played at The Vogue Theatre in Vancouver with Josh Garrels, and this one night will be very inspiring for my next season. I counted this as one of these. The PPP has become this for me this week, at first I was reluctant because I was busy and because I have done this before in 2012. But to be surrounded by artists and creators and musicians in itself is a little victory. A community of artists to share the ups and downs no matter how in-depth or not is essential for me being grounded in my career. I thing everybody has felt that in this program and I count that as a huge asset but equally as a blessing. The PPP has been one of them.
…rest. Kind of.
Hard to believe that this insane week is nearly over. My head is jammed with information, my heart is full up with amazing music, my bunk is full of dirty laundry. It’s been a hell of a week. So many great showcases. Crazy. I started to list off the highlights, and realized that there were too many.
So, instead of waxing philosophical about all the great folks I’ve met and really connected with, I thought I’d just share few of the photos I took from this week.
The mist on the lake this morning
Sophie from Two Bears North grabbing a little alone time (or so she thinks…).
Our intrepid recording producer, Josh Gwilliam and his Nimbus crew.
Jason from the National Music Centre, being lulled to sleep (buckled in for safety!) by cello tracking.
The Royal Braden Bears
Robbie from The Royal Foundry killin’ it on cello.
Van Damsel on the zipline!
Best. Hockey. Pants. Ever.
Living in the fishbowl
It’s going to be super sad to say goodbye to this amazing group of people. But I have a feeling it’s just the start of a beautiful friendship. Except with Cowpuncher. Those guys are jerks 😉
Everything is awesome.
6 days. 24 showcases. Countless amazing moments. Some were underrated, but for me, unforgettable.
Day 1. Jesse Roper’s psychedelic intro set the tone for a brain-melting week of music.
Day 2. Miesha and the Spanks‘ mean hooks and fuzzy guitars made me miss my long hair.
Day 3. The Velveteins smooth bass lines and surf guitar were a perfect departure and were further elevated by Spencer’s badass scream.
Day 4. Layten Kramer’s guitar tone. An emotional distorted swell would crescendo into a sea of goose bumps.
Day 5. Mike Edel’s “The Closer” had no chorus, no pre chorus, and no bridge, and was somehow one of my favourite songs of the week.
Day 6. Silky smooth “Sophia” got me stoked for my new Van Damsel fandom.
Everything is awesome.
I woke up on day three, buzzing from the positive energy and reception of Bed of Stars from our peers the previous night. Anticipating our stage coach session with Earl Pereira and Kahlil Ashanti.
But first, we had a keynote with Liam Killeen, about his history in the industry, and how to perfect our pitch to people in the industry.
It touched on many points I already knew, so it was nice to reaffirm those things.
Liam and I spend a bit of time getting to know each other afterwards, he came up to me after our set and said that we were the best band he’d seen in years, I’m still quite blown away at that.
We then went on to hear Kath Thomson from 95.3 The Peak Alberta come and share her experience with interviewing artists from all over the world, it was very interesting to hear her talk.
I could tell that she got to where she was because she purely loved music, like myself, it drove her to burst out of her introverted shell and put herself in situations she would never thought she would be.I just got a really cool vibe from her….
She has this obsession with music as a fan that I related to in a big way. I remember going up to her during our stage coaching and we quietly talked about our love and passion for so many bands and their stories. I relate to her feeling like an outsider looking in, with fascination.
We had a great stage coach session with Earl and Khalil that will really allow us to open up our show quite a bit. They taught us how to use more of the stage as a band, address the audience in unique ways, and also interact with each other without alienating the people in the crowd.
My only wish is that the program allowed us more time with them, and I can’t wait to show them how we apply their teachings to our show.
Not just our show either, since we go into this session as a group, we had the pleasure of watching Earl and Kahlil work with each act.
I was particularly blown away with Cory (Windmills), not just because of how he applied what they were trying to bring out in him, but his fascinating energy and talent as an artist.
They stripped him down to just his voice and a guitar, adding these breaks in between each phrase, it was incredible. He’s got such a gift as a performer, writer, and vocalist.
Almost in the vein of Jeff Buckley, etc. I can’t wait to see what happens for him as he moves forward, not just in this competition, but his career.
Next we moved onto an interview session with Tamara Stanners. Where she got one member of each band up to run us through the vibes of a TV interview. Her energy is always refreshing and really enjoyable after a long day of taking notes and a ton of information in. I’m a very hands on learner, and I really like to get into things one on one with people, so this was an enjoyable exercise for me.
After dinner was another set of showcases. Some very impressive ones.
Our good friends Smash Boom Pow rocked a great set that night. I love both Ulysses and Zane as artists, but more importantly as people. They are extremely intelligent, focused guys. I always make sure to try and end our evenings spending at least an hour making jokes and sharing thoughts with them.
Next up were The Velveteins. I will admit that I had low expectations for this band for really silly reasons.
One of my all time favourite acts for the past 12/13 years has been a band called The Velvet Teen. Having the names cross over a bit made me stand offish towards their music, purely because I can be incredibly opinionated.
That being said, as soon as they hit the stage, that feeling completely disappeared and I felt like a total ass. They had this rock n roll swagger, with a blend of stoner rock attitude and image. I’m a total fan now. I also love that all they brought with them was cassettes of their latest release. Totally fits the vibe.
JP Maurice, a very good friend of mine for a number of years, finished up the night.
I feel incredibly biased towards him and his music due to how important it was to me during certain struggles in my life, before I even knew him as a person.
Since then we’ve spend some of my favourite times together, and we’ve both played in each others bands over the past 3 years. Not to mention having Kevin and Conner of Fields of Green in his band, people who I have similar experiences with, I was obviously blown away by the set. As was everyone else. He also invited Chersea and I up for the last song, always a blast.
James, Jeff, Simon, Sam, and myself quickly ran over to the studios after the showcases.
Once we got there, Sam and I got to work on pulling together some lyrics while James, Simon, and Jeff tracked beds for drums and guitars. While Nik was in the corner working on his beautiful Moog Voyager finding bass sounds for the song.
It was intense, and very enjoyable. I remember pacing back and forth across the bunk converted studio, singing different lines to the boys as someone else was tracking instruments simultaneously.
It’s quite incredible to be in a room with a bunch of individuals all pulling something together in 4 hours. What’s more amazing to me is how the end result sounds like one cohesive song, not two bands trying to do two different things at once.
I’m eagerly anticipating the reception we get from it at our listening session on Wednesday.
Leeroy Stagger lost this game of ping pong. Ill never ever let him win. I will however be offering him a rematch because Im sportsmanlike.
Today is the last day of free meals, class rooms, copious amounts of coffee and late night jam sessions. Im sad but also I feel like Ive been living in never land so Its probably a good thing. Theres a certain dynamic that happens when you fill a bible camp full of rock n rollers. Right now Leeroy is dressed like a woman and Im pretty sure I saw Snow white run past the window. Apparently the plan tonight is to have a pool party and jam out with the faculty members. Mike Edel has a helmet on that make him look incredibly special but his ping pong game is still sharp. The Valentines are applying makeup and the members of Cow Puncher are sporting speedos with remarkable integrity. Things are getting weird around here very quickly. Its almost time for dinner. Pasta….. Maybe some cookies.. . Tomorrow sounds like the colour purple and I feel great.
Tonight the freak flag shall fly. We’ll search for our belongings in the morning… . .
Long live the 102.7 the Peak
best week ever..
this is Jesse
Goodbye Peak Performance Boot Camp. You were terrifying, inspiring, educational, annoying, clever, surprising, unexpected, and awesome. Worth more than anything I’ve ever done for my career. I’m so thrilled I got to be part of this before it disappears from BC. I may have to move to Alberta now, just to get another shot at it.
Hello to friendships and musical connections that are just getting started.
Be well my Others, I’m glad I found you!
Each day at boot camp we have two hours of so called free time. As all of the bands up here know there’s too much information to be absorbed and too many things to get done not to continue work during that time. There’s a universe of knowledge and countless lifetimes of acquired skill sets within the faculty here. We’d like to thank each and every one of you for sharing with us, we will do our best to implement the many lesson into our everyday life.
~LP and ~JH