FROM THE PRINT EDITION: A guide to Ottawa’s musical innovators

FROM THE PRINT EDITION: A guide to Ottawa’s musical innovators

Daniel Kaunisviita, Philippe Lepage, Mathieu Coates, Sean P.H. Campbell, Mack Johnson, Adam Saikaley

By Patrick Langston

Say you’re a musician. Creative expression is your life­blood. Alas, the under­developed flair for self-promotion that burdens most artists means the spotlight rarely finds you. And that’s a dilemma when you want to share what you’re good at and maybe get an occasional round of applause.

Enter PLACE. Committed to heightening the profile of Ottawa-Gatineau’s vibrant new media scene, PLACE is an arts collective formed in 2008. For now, it consists of an organizing operation for concerts and short tours, as well as PLACE Records, a label where albums by artists like Gatineau’s Boyscout Killers are free to download (although a $10 donation is welcome). A visual-arts component is germinating, as are plans to tie in performance art and video with future concerts.

PLACE, which has ties to similar organizations in Montreal and Toronto, sprang from the ashes of a local band by the same name. Daniel Kaunisviita speaks for the collective. He explains that the collective was formed by four members of the former band, who decided to bestow the organization with the same name. As he points out, this is a collective, which implies a horizontal, not a vertical, structure. “But depending on who you talk to, they’d say PLACE is either a democracy or a dictatorship,” he jokes.

Kaunisviita points to local collective labels such as Sul pont and Fluorescent Friends as influencing the establishment of PLACE Records. But he adds: “The music industry is in terrible shape. You can’t expect a kid to buy a CD anymore and take it home and listen to it with a candle.” He suggests that one of the only viable approaches is to play live shows all the time. Hence PLACE’s drive to get artists in front of both new media fans and mainstream audiences.

Musician Adam Saikaley is already enjoying the benefits of that drive. Thanks to the collective, the solo pianist and electro-music whiz has been featured on a PLACE compilation, has released his own record, and has done a multi-city tour. “I’d write music, and no one would listen to it. It’s too hard to promote yourself if you’re trying to hone your craft and work a day job,” says Saikaley, a music programmer and host at CBC Radio.

Sean P.H. Campbell, a PLACE Records artist who works under the moniker pH and toured with Saikaley this past summer, agrees. “I’m getting a sweet, sweet deal. My web-design skills are at a Grade 5 level.”

Kaunisviita says that a future business plan could see PLACE evolve into a more formal, service-driven collective. A permanent working space for PLACE artists may also eventually materialize.

Concludes Adam Saikaley, “Collectives probably are the future.”