How’d You Get That Awesome Gig, Robyn Stewart?

Sep 01, 2014

Name: Robyn Stewart

Occupation: Executive Director

Location: BreakOut West

How did you end up working with BreakOut West? 
I actually started working with Prairie Music Week in 2001. More as a short term favour while I happened to be in Regina, and it all just went on from there. I went on to produce the conference, and then left in 2009, and moved to Vancouver for a few years. This was a perfect opportunity to come back.

What was your first job in the music industry? 
This was it. Previous to working with Prairie Music Week, I was a theatre stage manager before that, actually. (Joining Prairie Music Week in 2001) was my first time working in music, but coming from a stage management and event background it was a lot similar.

What do you like best about what you do? 
I really like with an event like this you can make an impact on the community. We’re grassroots. We’re helping artists get to the next level, and it’s really great to see where they can go with that, and how far they can take it. On top of that, in this particular role, I really love that I can put my stamp on this organization and take it into the direction that I think will move it into the future.

What are some of the special skills required for your job? 
Details, organization. There are a lot of moving pieces and this industry is very fast paced, so knowing where everything is at is key. Above all though, a sense of humour. There’s so many different personalities in this industry. We need to be able to laugh together, and build great relationships.

What are you most looking forward to in this position? 
I just love when the community comes together. We’ve got the event in just over a month, and being my first one in this role I am very excited. It’s really nice to start in my hometown. I love when an industry member comes to me and says ‘I saw this band last night that I’ve never heard of before. They’re amazing, and I really want to work with them.’ I get really excited, not just for them, but for the bands, and to see where that all goes.

Do you have any advice for people who may want your job in the future?
I think you’ve just gotta get out there and see music and meet people. It’s as much about hard skills as it is about soft skills. Being able to find out what you love, and then bring that to an organization like this is really what it’s about.

What’s your favourite record at the moment?
This is terrible because it’s not Western Canadian. Right now I’ve been listening to Bahamas non-stop. Coming into the event in October, I’ve also been listening to a lot of the nominees. I’m just in love with The Treble’s album, and Megan Lane made an amazing album as well. She’s one to watch for. And just yesterday I started listening to marijosée, who is a Francophone Winnipeg artist with an absolutely incredible sound.

Megan Lane’s video for “Someday We Will Leave This Town,” a co-write between Lane, Rae Spoon and Hawksley Workman.

BreakOut West will be in Winnipeg this year and your office is located in Winnipeg, so I know you’re particularly connected to the music scene there. What’s your favourite local music venue in Winnipeg and what makes that venue stand out? 
This is a tough question. We’ve got a lot of great venues. The Pyramid has been around forever. You always know there’s something good going on there. We’ve got 13 different venues that we’re using for the festival and I’d hate to pick one over the other, because they all just make more sense for different styles of music. Maw’s Beer Hall is a new one that we are really excited about. The Garage in St. Boniface has a great vibe, and a great audience.

What’s the best part of the Winnipeg music scene?
The community. There are so many bands that play together. It makes it harder for our job with the festival when someone says ‘I’m playing with this band and I’m also drumming for him.’ It’s great. They just support each other, and it helps them when they go out on tour and when they have gigs in the city. They can all just jump in and support each other.

BreakOut West is really great at shining a light on the artists who are coming out of Western Canada. If you could pick a handful of acts that should be on the rest of Canada’s radar right now, who would those acts be? 
I mentioned marijoséeMegan Lane and The Treble, but I’d also add: Digawolf from the Northwest Territories. Incredible. Saw them last year.  The Provincial Archive from Alberta is one to watch. Mise en Scene, which is another Winnipeg act. And Mariachi Ghost is another one I’m excited to see. I’ve heard incredible things, but haven’t had a chance to see them live yet. Oh, and Shred Kelly from BC.

“Daisy Garden” by Edmonton’s The Provincial Archive from their EP, Hide Like A Secret.

Winnipeg pop/rock act Mise en Scene’s latest video for “Givin’ Up Too Easy.” 

Shred Kelly’s “The Bear”  off their 2013 album, In the Hills.

For more information about BreakOut West or to see their full festival lineup and schedule, go here.

–Julijana Capone

Wanna talk music? Email me at or follow me on twitter @thejulijanaruin

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