Petra Glynt has an international touring horror story musicians can learn from

November 06, 2017

Touring is hard enough without any unforeseen issues. You’re away from home for a long time, sleeping in weird places, living out of a suitcase, and eating mostly junk food even in the best of times. But it certainly gets a lot harder when you’re crossing borders—visas are pricey, you have to have all your paperwork and identification in order, and because you’re usually making some money (or at least being paid), you have to deal with the anxiety of talking to customs and border security about all of these things ad nauseam. Montreal’s Alexandra Mackenzie recently went through one such unnerving border ordeal in the UK.

Mackenzie, who performs her electronic music under the name Petra Glynt, was detained and refused entry into the country, and for 51 hours saw only the detention room at London’s Gatwick airport and the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. She was overseas to play as Petra Glynt and also as the drummer for fellow Montreal’s Doldrums. She recently told Toronto’s NOW Magazine that customs had issues with her Permitted Paid Engagement visa, were confused by her letters of invitation that included both Petra Glynt and Doldrums, had her bags searched, her phone taken away, was fingerprinted and photographed, was interrogated, and eventually got hauled off to Colnbrook. She was taken back to the airport only to find her flight home cancelled, and had to remain in the airport’s detention room until another flight was available. And still, she considers herself ‘one of the lucky ones.’

She also looked into other immigration removal centres, which exist here in Canada, too, and found that some people are stuck in them indefinitely. As NOW’s Krystel Jax points out, conditions in Canadian long-term immigration detention is so bad that the UN is requesting changes. Mackenzie has some sage wisdom to offer musicians touring internationally, too, including getting all necessary paperwork together, keeping multiple tour contacts who are easy to contact, and making sure their story matches yours. She even goes so far as to recommend talking to a legal advisor before the trip. Not a bad idea.

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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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