Why Montreal’s student music scene is amazing
SHYRE, St. Lawrence Warehouse Company, and Third Child
Montreal is known to be overflowing with talented artists, and a while ago at Casa Del Popolo I got to experience first-hand just how incredible our city’s musicians really are. The kind people at KickDrum let me in for some quick interviews with the three acts: Third Child, St. Lawrence Warehouse Company, and McGill’s very own SHYRE.
These magical people told me the stories of their bands’ creation, of being student artists in Montreal, and some of the coolest (and strangest) places they’ve ever had to make music. After discussing fresh memes, samosas, and Yeezus himself, the bands took to the stage to play their sets, keeping the crowd singing, dancing and laughing along to their tunes.
The interviews are listed in order of the setlist:
Look guys. There’s really no reason to hate on Concordia kids. When I sat down with Ryan of Third Child, what university he went to wasn’t even a factor. He’s from the US, but he lived in France for much of his life, and now he’s in Montreal bringing warmth to listeners with his unbelievable voice and humorous lyrical content. Here’s what he had to say about his band:
Ryan: Yeah. I have three brothers. Third of four, but I’ve been calling myself that since I was 12, cuz I read some article that said order of birth influences your personality traits. The middle kids are a bit lost in the mix, and I’d say I fit that.
THE SOUND (POP)
Ryan: Just pop. For me, I purposely call it pop because I think pop can be a lot of things, and I want to write pop songs and expand what they can be. Other people wouldn’t rush to call it pop, but in my mind it is. Someone’s called it gospel pop, and I think it’s just because I’m religious, but yeah. I have a hard time with the whole tagging process too. For me, the hardest thing to do is to write something experimental that’s still consumable.
THE WEIRD SPACES
Ryan: In Montreal, It would be Psychic City. It’s down St. Laurent, it’s this little basement space, and that’s where I practice. It’s got a white coffin down there, it’s a kind of ominous spot. It’s nice though, just kind of strange.
Ryan: Oh man. I’ve been thinking a lot about memes lately. Do you look at Lettuce Dog? Well, he’s a big meme guy, and I see a lot of that stuff on my feed. I saw one of his recently, I don’t remember it word for word, but it was a picture of Goku, he was going super saiyan, and he was in front of the White House screaming about something. I’ll track it down.
But, really, I don’t know what the freshest meme is. I couldn’t decide that.
SAINT LAWRENCE WAREHOUSE COMPANY
Berri-UQAM is not the greatest metro stop in Montreal. In fact, it’s probably one of the more stressful: three different metro lines and 3000 different exits in one tiny little underground cavern. There’s noise and announcements you can’t understand and notorious scammers and just absolute chaos all over. But St. Lawrence Warehouse Company managed to make all of that melt away in a song titled “Berri-UQAM” that nearly brought me to tears. They’re amazing. And here’s what band members Laura, Bella, and Bashu had to say.
Bella: So the project came out of another project, a more rock kind of thing, and the name was chosen by another member and someone who is no longer in the band, and it was kind of came from where I was living at the time, which was also our jam space, and right across the street was a water tower that read “St. Lawrence Warehouse Company,” and it came out of the Mile End, old things becoming new again. We were thinking a lot about gentrification and whatever, and were like “we’re not sure if we want to totally have this name anymore, we’re kind of changing,” but our new drummer, one of his friends was like “St. Lawrence Warehouse Company, as in the company you keep.” And then we were like OK, that’s way more reflective of what we’re doing now.
Bella: Like I said, the band was kind of formed as a side project of something else, and that was with two members, and then I moved in with one of those members and one day they were like “Do you want to jam with us?” And so I did, and the band kind of grew.
Laura: We were like, “A violin player! This is gold! Also you’re amazing at harmonies and your voice is beautiful we need you! And also gender diversity!”
Bella: Well, it didn’t start out that way, but yeah for sure, there were two guys and it was like “Oh a girl!” It was like, kind of a life that started around music. And yeah, then I met you guys.
Laura: It’s really interesting because the first time I found you was also the first time I met the friend that Bella’s talking about and Bashu, and I had just come back from Birmingham, and Bashu had just moved to the city, and the band had been started by the person I was dating, and Bashu had just joined, and I came over to jam one day…
Bella: It was really organically started. It was like, OK there are two, and then three, and four, and now five.
THE SOUND (TRIUMPHANT FOLK)
Bella: To describe to anybody who doesn’t really know what we do, I feel like contemporary folk is the best description.
Laura: Yeah, because we amplify instruments that aren’t traditionally amplified.
Bella: Exactly, like sometimes the violinists, and I think we’re all kind of…really connected to our instruments and we’re also a band that’s very aware of each others’ feelings and whatnot, so we want to make sure everyone feels involved, so we always have a solo for someone somewhere.
Bashu: Triumphant in the active sense of the word, triumphant, you step over things. One scene that comes up in our songs from time to time is isolation, alienation, and I guess that’s one thing that I always hope people can get over, get past, when they see our shows. I hope that any music we play helps them to defeat that.
Laura: Mostly related to winter.
THE STRANGE SPOTS:
Bella: Our current jam space is…interesting, because we’re sharing it with two metal bands…
Bashu: I would definitely play a river again, so…if anyone has a river they wanna book?
BEST KANYE SONG?
Bashu: Runaway. Definitely.
Bella: When I was 14 I knew all the lyrics to “Gold Digger,” but, I dunno, “Love Lockdown?”
Laura: Kanye broke my heart with his recent behavior, and I probably shouldn’t comment on [him].
You might not have heard, but McGill has a music school. It’s pretty acclaimed. It also seems to be the starting point for some serious talent, like these guys. The “chamber pop” collective has a name that might sound mellow, but their violins, piano, and ridiculously cool drummer had the whole room grooving. We’ve already got Busty and the Bass, and now SHYRE’s coming up to the plate. Here’s what I talked about with singer and pianist Sarah Rossey:
Sarah: Man, I get that question a lot. It’s actually…a couple of things. It’s a mix between the letters of my name. It’s a puzzle thing. There’s always one fan who just gets it.
Sarah: I had this magical dream for years to make a “life soundtrack” to everything, I kind of think in soundtrack. I really try to get an ethereal, ambient kind of vibe that puts people in the mood. We call it “chamber pop,” “chamber folk,” kind of depends on the day.
Sarah: I go to McGill for music, I’m going to finish next year. I went there not really knowing what to do, and I looked left and it was like, “Oh, a musician.” Your class seats are also a band, basically. I met the viola player in one of my jazz classes, and then the violinist at another music party…I kind of assembled [most of] the gang at McGill, but I wouldn’t say we’re, like, a McGill band. But we played at OAP and all those things.
THE SCENE (MCGILL/MONTREAL)
Sarah: It was pretty cool, there’s a lot of facilities in the music department that were helpful. The first EP I recorded was done through one of the recording studios the recording students have access too. Plus, being around creative people is just really nice.
The coolest venue we’ve played in is an outdoor barn, in the middle of this small town. There’s no cell-phone signal there sometimes…And we had no idea what we were going in for. So it’s a barn, and inside of it is an art gallery. And we’re playing outdoors, at the entrance of the barn, and all of the community comes and just brings their lawn chairs and sits and watches, and little kids are playing on their bicycles…It’s just a beautiful reminder that that little community vibe still exists and people are still so grateful to hear live music.
[OAP] was insane. It’s been special every time – we’ve done it twice. The first time, it was one of those days where it just started to suddenly thunderstorm, and string instruments are worth quite a bit of money so everyone’s freaking out. They tried to put up a tarp, but all the drunk people were started climbing on the stage…
We still managed to play the show. We, like, pushed all the drunk people off…I swore a lot, and I don’t usually swear on stage but it was like “Motherfucking OAP!”
SAMOSAS OR CHURROS:
Sarah: Samosas. No question.