If you’ve been wanting to get your music out there, local artists say it’s a growing and collaborative community
If you’ve been a UVic student for a little while, you might know somebody in a band. You might even know multiple people in multiple bands. Music is a huge part of the UVic’s identity.
In an effort to learn more about this part of campus life, I attended a few local live music events, where I quickly met a handful of passionate artists who were open to sharing their love of the art. A throughline I noticed when speaking to artists, however, was uncertainty about how to get their foot in the door of the music industry.
I wanted to get in touch with a few established and upcoming musicians to talk about their thoughts on UVic’s music scene and how they’ve navigated it thus far, hoping to quell the nerves artists may have about joining the live music community.
I attended the UVic Live Music Club’s (LMC) meet and greet event last month. It was a night of beautiful acoustic originals and covers. My favourite was a particularly beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah,” where other LMC attendees harmonized together, filling the small classroom of the Bob Wright Building with a gorgeous sweep of swelling vocals.
I spoke to a few lead members of the UVic LMC: President Charis Tazumi, Co-President Olivia Schmit, and Event Lead Anne Martina. The team discussed how the live music scene, and therefore the club, has grown over time.
“Our past president, Dilly Cooner, set the tone for making the space inclusive and giving space to different people and clubs,” says Tazumi. “Over the years, we’ve been working with a lot of different UVSS clubs and branching out, which has been really important to open up that space and make people feel comfortable.”
“It was definitely a small group at first, but once COVID died down and we began doing in-person events, so many people wanted to be involved and I love the environment we’ve created,” says Schmit.
“The LMC has grown beyond just this tiny group of people,” says Martina. “It’s something that’s very much a part of the UVic community and even Victoria.”
Artists Ethan Houlbrook, Rupert Yakelashek, and Christopher Atkins are long-time members of the UVic LMC and the local Victoria music scene. Houlbrook told me about the ecosystem of new artists integrating themselves into the arena alongside more experienced, third and fourth-year acts.
“It’s not always fully cyclical, but I’m never gonna drop a song and go out and book Lucky’s Bar or the Victoria Event Center,” says Houlbrook. “If you perform alongside a name that some people have gone and seen before, though, they’ll see your name, and then you get your following.”
Rupert, a second-year UVic student performing under the name Teenage Art Scene, discussed the collaborative nature of the community.“Because it’s a pretty small town on an island, the people that like making DIY music end up congregating together — it creates a network where everyone goes to everyone else’s shows.”
Christopher shared similar sentiments about the mid-sized nature of the Victoria scene.
“To me, it seems like a good size,” says Atkins. “There isn’t so much that it’s hard to break into. It’s very attainable. Peanut Butter Telephone, for example, just started last year and has done a lot and collaborated in a lot of ways. It’s there for you if you want to do it.”
Savannah Read and Brendan Wong, solo musicians who also collaborate under the band Millet, expressed similar sentiments when discussing bridging the distinction between the UVic artists and the local Victoria artists.
“There’s a separation between the UVic scene and the local music scene,” says Wong. “It’s not a hard-cut line, but most university shows are not gonna have someone from the city playing and vice-versa.”
“They really should be the same thing, but they’re not,” says Savannah. “In terms of shows, the ones that come up on my Instagram are all exclusively university bands, and I should seek out other events.”
Claudia Bachinski, a first-year student at UVic, talked about her excitement to enter the music scene.“Since being here, I’ve noticed that everyone’s an artist. I really want to go to everything and get involved with the music scene, but I don’t know — I’m shy.”
So, if you’re an artist wanting to venture out and try your hand at performing, take this as your sign to make some moves! There’s a community of extremely talented and driven people out there who are trying to grow and who want to help you grow as well.
And same goes for those like me who aren’t musicians, but are music lovers; why not attend a performance or LMC event featuring these artists and get in on the ground floor? I promise it’s a truly wonderful experience and you’ll be able to say “I saw them before they were famous.”