N.B. music industry honours its best of the year
Awards show highlights 'diversity' of local talent, Music N.B. director says
Jazz musicians who dress in space suits and a gospel-rapper are among the winners of this year's Music N.B. Awards.
The event's 12th edition took place Thursday night, live-streamed from the Charlotte Street Arts Centre in Fredericton and hosted by musician David Myles.
About 1,000 people had watched the show by Friday morning, said Jean Surette, Music N.B. executive director. It features five musical performances and is still available for viewing online.
"There was a lot of diversity in the music that was being celebrated," said Surette.
The SOCAN Song of the Year prize went to a seasoned rapper who's been living and making music in the Moncton area for about the past 10 years.
Teah Bailey, whose stage name is One8tea, wrote "I guess it's complicated" in the wake of George Floyd's death and the protests that followed it.
It describes a mental checklist that he goes through every time he leaves the house in order to try to insulate himself from the racism that surrounds him.
"Told my wife where I'll be - check/ Got my ID - check/ My pants are tight enough to not look like a threat - check.../ Always be smiling…/ Give yourself enough time so you ain't gotta rush while you're in there.../ And say a prayer that you make it home safe today."
Bailey said if he was going to win for anything, he's glad that song was it.
He was seeing a lot of division around the world and within his faith community and thought he was in a good position to be able to communicate to Black and white audiences.
"If you're only sharing your experiences, nobody can argue with you," he said.
"This is actually what my day looks like."
Bailey describes himself as a storyteller and says his style is very lyrical.
"I guess it's complicated" is on his album, titled Ventilation 2. It's one of two he released during the pandemic.
He made all of his albums available for free download from his website One8tea.com on Friday in celebration of the win.
Bailey said he is planning a live concert at some point, but is holding off booking anything until he's more confident it won't end up being cancelled.
He's one of 27 artists recording showcases with Music N.B. this weekend to be shared with industry representatives at an online conference next month.
Artists and industry professionals will have a chance to network and attend professional development sessions from Nov. 18 to 20, via the platform Gather.
It's been a difficult period for live performers, Surette said, but New Brunswick musicians and industry professionals have been productive and innovative throughout it.
Breakthrough Artist of the Year
Les MoonTunes was one of three double award winners Thursday night. They won Breakthrough Artist of the Year and Best Video for their song Paper Boat.
The band is made up of a group of friends who met in school and play music simply for the love of it, trumpet and bass player Monica Ouellette said.
They describe their sound as "heavy soul."
"It's kind of groovy and it has a lot of hints of different styles," said Ouellette.
"Some compare it to jazz and hip-hop," she said, but they also have some metal, pop and international influences.
"We enjoy blending it together."
Ouellette said MoonTunes officially formed in 2015, after rapper Elijah Mackongo spurred them on to do something more than jam in their parents' basements.
The other members of the band are Miguel Dumaine, who sings, plays piano "and rips a little flute," Jérémie Poitras, who plays the saxophone and synth, Samuel Frenette, who plays bass and "does some guitar shredding on a couple of tunes," Patrick Gaudet on guitar and bass, and Martin Daigle and Marc-Andre Richard on percussion.
They came up with the name in a brainstorming session at the last practice before their first gig.
"It's a bit reflective of the jam kind of spatial use of our instruments that we do," said Ouellette.
They've been "getting out of their comfort zones" to share their music with more people and released a self-titled debut album this year.
They launched it with a "Live on the Moon," performance on Facebook, wearing space suits and surrounded by papier-mâché moon rocks.
The same type of "low-budget," do-it-yourself effects won them the Video of the Year prize.
"We set up a green screen in Miguel's mom's basement," said Ouellette.
It took a long time to film everyone and they "had a lot of laughs" in the process.
Dumaine did the animation for the video and Poitras put it together.
The band is "really proud" of how it turned out.
Their music is available on most streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music.
They also have a YouTube channel and sell on BandCamp.
The other prize winners include:
The CAP - Venue and tied for Innovator of the Year
Wolf Castle - Indigenous Artist and tied for Recording of the Year - Gold Rush
Pallmer - tied for Recording of the Year - Quiet Clapping
Chloe Breault - Enregistrement de l'année - Plage des morons
Cédric Vieno - Chanson SOCAN de l'année - Laisse tomber
East Track Mind - Champion of the Year for their initiative to create East Coast playlists for venues such as restaurants
Charlotte Street Arts Centre - tied for Venue of the Year
Acadie Rock - Festival/Event of the year
Eva George - Music Industry Professional of the Year