Canadian Music Week taps dozens of Manitoba bands for Toronto-based fest

​If you’re wondering why the local music scene is quiet this week in Winnipeg, Toronto has borrowed a ton of our talent for Canadian Music Week.

Shoegaze duo Basic Nature playing their first-ever Canadian Music Week on eastern tour

Lizzy Burt and Claire Bones play CMW this week for the first time. (Eric Roberts)

If you're wondering why the local music scene is quiet this week in Winnipeg, Toronto has borrowed a ton of our talent for Canadian Music Week.

Basic Nature, Micah Visser, Royal Canoe and Mise en Scene are among more than two dozen Manitoba-based performers playing CMW shows between now and Sunday.

"We always have a pretty good representation at Canadian Music Week, but this year there's a lot," said Sean McManus, Manitoba Music's executive director. "There are 15 acts going, which is definitely more than we've had certainly in the last while."

The festival is spread across 60 Toronto venues that'll house shows from more than 1,000 performers, including headliners Tegan and Sara, Eagles of Death Metal (who just stopped in Winnipeg this past weekend) and Wintersleep.
Royal Canoe are among 15 Manitoba acts playing at Canadian Music Week this year.

"It's a pretty big deal. In terms of being in Toronto and playing in Toronto and playing for industry … that's where a lot of the industry is based. You have to have those connections," said McManus.

Representing Manitoba is Attica Riots, Adam Hanney & Co., Andrew Briol, Basic Nature, FINN, Living Proof, Matt Epp, Micah Visser, Mise en Scene, Moon Tan, Petric, The Jarrett Lobley Project, The Middle Coast, Royal Canoe and The Proud Sons.

"Really, it's across the spectrum of genre, which is great, and [it's across the spectrum] sort of in experience too," said McManus. "You've got bands like Royal Canoe that are well-known and have a team in place, and they're going to go and play a big show as part of a ramp up for a release, and then some other bands that are going out for the first time."

Basic Nature play first CMW show Thursday 

Basic Nature's Claire Bones and Lizzy Burt are doing their first-ever CMW show Thursday night at Toronto's Smiling Buddha.

The pair were approached by the fest this fall and almost immediately started planning an eastern tour around the date.

"I told [Lizzy] right away, 'You have to look at the email right now. Like, what is this?'" said Bones. "It was such a nice surprise."

The shoegaze/dream pop duo started out two years ago in Winnipeg after Bones went to Montreal to play with the now defunct Frieso.

"It kind of blew up in my face, and I kind of moved back home and felt a little broken down," said Bones. "[Lizzy and I] decided to get my boyfriend and a friend of ours to try and play some songs together and jam, and then when they went out for smokes and stuff, Lizzy and I would just jam. She would play guitar, and I would move over to the drum set."

The pair liked playing alone a lot better, so the guys got the boot, and now, Basic Nature is on their second eastern tour with a full-length album due next year.
Basic Nature were playing smaller venues in Winnipeg this fall when they got the call about a spot in a Canadian Music Week showcase. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

"We were able to connect better and have things the way that we wanted them, and it was simple and meaningful," said Bones. "We don't turn down any ideas that each other has. We just explore every facet of the song, even if it's so stupid, like, 'Oh let's just play this very fast and see how it goes.'"

They'll play a handful of Manitoba festivals this summer (Real Love and Rainbow Trout), but after that, they're focussing on making a full-length album.

"We've gotten a lot better at what we're doing and getting more comfortable with each other and jamming over time – slowly being able to connect more on stage. It just keeps getting better all the time," said Burt.

"We're learning all the business side of how to do this so it's a big process," said Bones.

A process that involves capturing the attention of the right people — many of which will be in Toronto this week. 

"It's a great tour date because there's lots of energy around the festival, but it also means that you've got everybody in the industry in Canada plus a bunch of internationals all looking at what's happening," said McManus. "We love it when bands are based here and stay here and want to be here, but we also know they have to be connected to Toronto."

If you aren't planning last-minute plane tickets to see them Thursday night, Basic Nature's next show back in Winnipeg is May 21 at The Good Will.