The internet, with its exponential options and on-demand everything, has it’s limitations. Good news for anyone fearing a future world seen only through screens, people still like to see music live. Geography still matters in music.
Tonight at Refuge, cool Canadian DJ and producer Andrea Graham teams up for a very live show with Portland-based Mr. Wu, Nico Luminous, Barisone and Tiger Fresh for the third anniversary of Rythmatix, Wu’s clothing line. I chatted with Andrea as she was getting into Portland for the show.
Carrie: Welcome! Have you been to Portland before?
Andrea: Only driving through on my way to Burning Man. I’m excited to explore Portland. I hear the food is amazing.
C: It is! Nearly impossible to miss a good meal here. So, how do you think life as a Canadian musician and producer differs from an American?
A: In Canada everything is so spread out. California has a larger population than all of Canada. In Canada there isn’t as much cross pollination because travel isn’t as affordable: it’s almost as expensive to go to Europe than it is to fly to Toronto. Because of this though, each city develops a special community with a unique style and feeling. Festivals [are great] because they involve many of these communities that are usually so spread out coming together.
C: You are a formally trained musician. How does your classical and jazz background affect how you approach your music production?
A: Growing up I learned about music theory, composition guidelines, cord progression… When I started playing electronic music I was free from having to think about all that. Don’t get me wrong: the patterns are there. I just don’t feel constrained by them. Electronic music has been freeing.
C: I cringe when I hear the term EDM [Electronic Dance Music] to describe any kind of electronica. I feel like that’s like using the term “rock n roll” to describe anything with a guitar. How do you describe your brand of electronic music?
A: It seems like people will use that term to mean any music made with computers and synthesizers. There are so many little genres, and new styles that evolve that are quite different. I think [the styles] all fit into the bass movement. I call mine bass music. It varies in style and has developed from deep rootsy dubstep, footwork, jungle.
C: In addition to your solo project as The Librarian, you co-produce Bass Coast (electronic music festival in Merritt BC). Tell me about that.
A: Bass Coast is a heart and soul project. It’s a mini festival. It’s relatively small compared to those big corporate events. We (co-producer Liz Thompson) started in 2009 and since then it has taken a life of its own. We have over 100 acts, four stages, a vending village, yoga, performance arts. We host emerging talents and underground international artists. We get a lot of support from Pacific Northwest artists, and of course some local musicians. The entire festival is funded solely by ticket sales, which has allowed it to grow really organically and in the way that gives the community a lot of creative control. We have no sponsors at this point.
C: With Bass Coast and your work as the Librarian, I imagine you need to take time to regenerate. How do you get your fuel?
A: I get a lot of ideas on my mountain bike. I live in Squamish–in the middle of Vancouver and Whistler–and between shows I come home to write and record. And ride. I love to get out into the forest, be outside of the city and just ride. It is my form of meditation and that reflects in my songs.
Come check out The Librarian and celebrate Rythmatix third anniversary March 1 at Refuge, $15. Find tour dates and listen to The Librarian here and here and check out Bass Coast’s “forward thinking electronic music” festival lineup and information here.