Regional Music Spotlight: British Columbia

October 30, 2015


Music Association Name: Music BC

Location: Vancouver

What are some of your province’s musical highlights from the past year? 

BreakOut West, which took place in Victoria, BC from September 17-20, 2015, is Western Canada’s premiere music conference, festival and awards show. BreakOut West combines education and the business of music with incredible public shows, a celebration of achievements, and fun for musicians and music lovers alike. The BreakOut West Festival added a diversity to Victoria’s annual Rifflandia Festival this year, mixing in Western Canadian talent in rock, pop, hip hop et al., as well as hosting special showcases in jazz, country, classical and a children’s showcase called mini BreakOut West. In addition, the Western Canadian Music Awards gala saw over 70 BC artists receive nominations.

Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West. Credit: BrandonWallis.

This is the seventh and final year of the PEAK Performance Project British Columbia. The 5.2 million dollar project was launched in 2009 in conjunction with 102.7 the PEAK, Canada’s first AAA format station. Now in year seven, the BC PPP has changed the lives of over 120 artists and created a vibrant music community in British Columbia. The PPP is designed to educate, promote, develop and launch the careers of upcoming artists, such as previous winners Dear Rouge, Current Swell, We Are The City, and more.

Were there any challenges?

Our industry challenges in the coming year include the completion of the PEAK Performance Project, as its seventh and final year of CCD funding comes to a close, and we try to develop a new artist development program to take its place. We are also actively campaigning to secure a BC Music Fund similar to the Ontario Music Fund.

What are some of the accomplishments made by Music BC, specifically, in the past year?

Music BC continued its international showcase successes from previous years into 2015 with events at The Great Escape, Reeperbahn, Folk Alliance and SXSW. These initiatives were an overwhelming success, as many BC artists made key connections in Europe, the US, and Canada, leading to booking, publishing, and label deals overseas.

Another success that Music BC has been involved in this year was the launch of BC Creates. The film, music, publishing and gaming industries have come together to form a lobbying group, which will help give a stronger voice to the arts when it comes to discussing topics with the provincial government. This is a big step for the arts in BC, and we are happy that Music BC is very closely involved with it.

Who are some of the BC acts that should be on the rest of Canada’s radar?

Good for Grapes is a folk/alternative band from Surrey, BC. Innovators of the folk-stomp sound, the national winners of both the Rogers urMusic Battle of the Bands and Supernova’s ‘Band on the Run to the UK,’ PEAK Performance Project finalist, and Best Emerging Artist at Edmonton Folk Fest 2013.

After finishing first place in the 2014 PEAK Performance Project, they recorded their second full length album The Ropes, which was released this past October, and recently opened up for Modest Mouse at Vancouver’s famous Malkin Bowl.

The Ropes” by Good for Grapes.

Dralms is the latest project from Vancouver’s Christopher Smith, who has veered from his softened singer-songwriter career into a more experimental and intimate partnership with a familiar cast of collaborators. Dralms was a featured Music BC artist at both The Great Escape in the UK, and Reeperbahn in Germany this year. He just released his debut album Shook, and is currently making waves around Europe, as he is being booked for his third European tour this year in December.

Dralms’ “Shook.”

Over the past two years, Yukon Blonde has earned no shortage of acclaim for their hook-heavy brand of pop-rock. But despite their love of vintage rock ‘n’ roll, the members aren’t the kind of guys who cling to the past.

Following the 2015 release of On Blonde on Dine Alone Records, Yukon Blonde have toured extensively, including an Australian tour supporting Walk the Moon. They were also in Germany for Reeperbahn and went down to SXSW in March. They are the only Canadian band in 2015 to secure Number 1 on CBC’s Top 30 with two songs from their album On Blonde. Their previous album Tiger Talk was nominated for the JUNO Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year in 2013

Yukon Blonde’s “Saturday Night.

Dawn Pemberton released her long-awaited release, Say Somethin,’ in 2015, and was awarded the best Urban Recording at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards.

2015 WCMA-winner Dawn Pemberton’s track “Say Somethin’.

In reality, Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer‘s Shawn ‘The Harpoonist’ Hall and Matthew ‘The Axe Murderer’ Rogers evoke much more than just grisly nautical imagery. Armed with an arsenal of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion, and a road-worn Telecaster, the duo kick out raw and primal blues in the tradition of a ‘decades-deep blues style’ (Scott Brown, What’s up Yukon), while infusing the genre with a jolt of renewed energy.

Shawn and Matthew have received considerable recognition over the last few years. They were nominated for Blues Album of the Year at the JUNOS in 2014, for multiple Maple Blues Awards, and won Blues Act of the Year at the SiriusXM Indies in 2013. The duo has also pounded their fair share of festival stages, including SXSW 2013 and 2014, Winnipeg Folk Fest, Ottawa Bluesfest, Calgary Folk Fest, and Montreal Jazz Fest. Along the way they’ve shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T. Jones, David Wilcox, Mother Mother, The Sheepdogs, and Serena Ryder. They’ve also had songs featured on television shows, such as CSI, NCIS New Orleans, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, and the aptly-named TV movie, Lizzie Borden Took An Axe.

Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer’s “A Real Fine Noise.”

And, of course, the PEAK Performance Project Top 12 this year should be mentioned. All 12 of them are astounding artists with bright futures, who include: Bed of Stars, Little India, Mindil Beach, JP Maurice, Mike Edel, Chersea, Windmills, Jesse Roper, Smash Boom Pow, Find the Others, Joy District and Van Damsel.

What else are you looking forward to?

The year 2015 may be coming to an end, but there’s still some exciting events for Music BC coming up. First and foremost, the very last PEAK Performance Project finale takes place on November 19 at the Commodore Ballroom, where we will announce how the Top 3 artists were ranked.

We’ve also partnered with Whistler Film Festival to have two showcases featuring 10 BC artists, showcasing them to music supervisors and other members of the film industry.

And last but not least, it’s our 25th anniversary! To celebrate, we’ll be throwing a party at The Biltmore Cabaret on December 10, featuring some of BC’s finest independent artists.

Any other BC News?

This past year saw the development of BC Creates. A collaborative communication initiative established to celebrate and tell the story of British Columbia’s vibrant creative industries. Their mission is to tell the stories about the individuals and companies propelling BC’s economic and cultural future.

Round House Radio has just taken to the Vancouver airwaves and promises to be a station with a community focus. With hyper local content and an urban presence, they aim to connect, entertain and engage their audience on air, online and on the street.


—Compiled by Meagan Davidson, Membership & Communication Administrator at Music BC

For all of the latest updates from Music BC, go to or follow them on Twitter @MusicBC.

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