Out of this Spark

A record label in Toronto Ontario Canada

Ohbijou Farewell

Posted on | September 6, 2013 | No Comments

This weekend Ohbijou will be playing their final show.

When I (Stuart) look back at my life, it’s hard to imagine how different it would be if I hadn’t met the folks in and that have surrounded Ohbijou.

For a long time I lived in Guelph and it was in Guelph, as a volunteer at CFRU-FM the campus community radio station at the university, where I first started getting immersed in the city’s vibrant independent music scene.

Eventually after a few years as a volunteer, I started hosting a radio show called undertones. For two hours every Friday afternoon, the show played the new music the radio station received each week, with a smattering of local favourites. During that radio show, every once in a while, Ryan Carley used to come by and drop off albums of his music and the music of his friends.

At the time Ryan was in a band called Of January May and they had a little label / music project that they called Promisphere, which seemed to be creating an album or so every couple weeks. The circle of bands seemed endless and eventually included Alight, People for Audio, Bahai Cassette, Dictater, and We’re Marching On.

Guelph is a small town and music folks tend to run into each other a lot, and Ryan and his circle of musician peers (including James (aka Jamie) Bunton) and I quickly became friends. Promisphere morphed into Social Arts Club at some point, another very similar collective / label of musicians.

Eventually, as most folks do in Guelph, Ryan, Jamie and most of the people that surrounded what was Social Arts Club moved to Toronto.

I stuck around Guelph, working at CFRU as a staff member and putting on a lot of indie concerts. I remember sometime in that first year after everyone had left, Ryan telling me that he was playing with a new band called Ohbijou. I believe their first Guelph concert was at Ed Video in 2005 and the afternoon before the show they played on my radio show. Here is a snippet of their song The Woods from that appearance :

And here is my interview with Ohbijou from that day:

Around this time I started to feel that I needed a bit of change from Guelph. Guelph is a great city, but it can sometimes be a bit limiting creatively and professionally depending on what stage of life you are at.

Most of my friends had been slowly migrating to Toronto, and I had been visiting the big city more often, usually crashing on Ryan and Jamie’s couch in a house they lived on Montrose. I really felt the community that they found – which surrounded Ohbijou and the house that some of them lived in on Bellwoods Avenue – particularly welcoming and reminded me a lot about what I loved about living in Guelph. As I got closer to leaving Guelph, I was thinking that I wanted to do something different musically.

Outside of a horrible experience playing bass guitar in Grade 9, I had never really played music. Most of what I did was putting on concerts (lots of concerts) and hosting a radio show. I was getting a bit burnt out from doing concerts and was contemplating starting a little record label that could maybe help some of my circle of friends that were struggling to create music and also figure out how to get it into the hands of people.

Around this time Jamie and Casey were putting together the first Friends in Bellwoods compilation and at some point I suggested we should put it out on my non-existent record label and Out of this Spark was born.

Knowing this tight circle of really creative, passionate and driven people motivated my decision to eventually move to Toronto. So much of what has happened in my life since has flowed from that desire to be closer to the circle of people that surrounded Ohbijou.

Even though most of us don’t see each other quite as often as we used to, the memories of it all still surround me. I seem to be constantly finding posters from that era scattered around my house, behind couches, in boxes, under beds. Casey’s piano from the Bellwoods house has been ‘temporarily’ staying in my living room for almost four years now.

Saturday is going to be a sad night, but I think it is also will be a celebration of how transformative that something was and how that thing has shaped what we are and what we will become.

PS : Here is another old recording I found of Ohbijou performing Tumbleweeds at a show I put on at the Guelph Youth Music Centre :

The Meek performs ‘Open Window’

Posted on | April 3, 2013 | No Comments

Studio 731 presents The Meek (featuring Mika Posen, Violin and Loops). Live in Ottawa, February 2013. If you are in Toronto be sure to check out The Meek live at the Tranzac on Sunday April 7th.

The Trouble with FACTOR Redux

Posted on | April 2, 2013 | 5 Comments

If you haven’t had a chance to read Slagging Off’s ‘The Trouble with FACTOR‘ article you really should. You also should check out the rest of the blog’s entries.

It really has hit the nail on the head on what is wrong with the music industry and FACTOR in particular.

I (Stuart Duncan, proprietor of OOTS) have wanted to write a similar article for generations but sadly have never had the time. I alluded to a lot of my issues with the music industry in Canada, in an article I wrote in 2009 about the Polaris prize, which brings up a lot of the same points.

Read more

The Meek

Posted on | March 25, 2013 | No Comments

The Meek is back with new music and a new band and will showing it all off with a special Sunday night show at the Tranzac on Sunday April 7th. Here are all the details :

Tender tunes by Mika Posen (of Timber Timbre, Forest City Lovers).

The mysteriously powerful music of Phillippe Charbonneau (Ferriswheel, J’envoie and occasionally Timber Timbre), Pierre-Luc Clément (FET.NAT, J’envoie) and Jamie Kronick (André M. Bluteau)

Dreamy dream pop featuring the incredible voice of Ida Maidstone!

Sunday April, 7th
TRANZAC MAIN HALL (292 Brunswick Avenue), Toronto

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