Regional Music Spotlight: New Brunswick

June 30, 2015

Music Association Name: 
Music/Musique NB (MNB) 

Location: Moncton

What are some of New Brunswick’s musical highlights over the past year?

On the French side: Les Hay Babies, an indie-folk trio from Moncton, signed to a label in Montreal, and released an album that has been well received in New Brunswick and Quebec.

There are a lot of groups that are touring in Europe. Lisa LeBlanc is doing phenomenally well with her first self-titled album and she just released an English language EP, called Highways, Heartaches and Time Well-Wasted. She’s been trying to develop the European market, she’s also toured the States and across Canada.

Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire, who are technically on their second album, Party de ruisseau, have also been doing well in the Francophone industry.

Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire’s video for “Mentor.”

On the English side: There’s Tomato/Tomato, an emerging act from Saint John, who’ve only been at it for a year and a half, and have been making an impact at our events, including East Coast Music Week.

Tristan Horncastle, a country artist from Fredericton, has had some radio play and toured Western Canada. He recently signed to a label, called Royalty Records, out of Edmonton.

The Olympic Symphonium are a folk trio from Fredericton that have consistently put out great albums, and have also been nominated for a number of awards. There’s a great scene in Fredericton right now.

City Natives just finished a cross-Canada tour to Vancouver and back. They’re a young hip hop act mostly from the Tobique First Nation, a northwestern part of the province. The Tobique area has a lot of young artists that could go far with the right support. City Natives have that potential. They have the spark. As an organization, we’ll be trying to leverage that talent.

IMG_5096City Natives performing during 2015 East Coast Music Week. Credit: Julijana Capone.

There’s another young hip hop artist from the same area, called Kam Speech. He’s another good hip hop artist coming out of Tobique. There’s also a blues-rock artist called Gary Sappier. There’s something happening there musically. At the 2014 ECMAS, in the Aboriginal category, four out of the five artists were from New Brunswick.

What are some of the recent accomplishments made by Music/Musique NB, specifically?

One of the ongoing things that we try to do is to engage both French and English communities, which is a challenge.

In New Brunswick, we have an event called the FrancoFête that has been going on for 20-something years. Like Contact East, which is organized by Atlantic Presenters Association, it’s the same kind of annual contact event with showcases and one-on-one meetings with talent buyers and managers for the Francophone industry.

In 2010, we started our own event, the Music NB Week, which includes the Prix MNB Awards. The event is now called Festival (506). We didn’t want to copy FrancoFête, we wanted to fit in Francophone and Anglophone artists. We thought: how can we engage both sides of the industry? With our industry awards, French and English categories are mixed.

By doing this, we’re able to get people to discover artists that they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. We’re really proud of bridging that gap.

What have been some of the challenges in your province?

In New Brunswick, it’s difficult for us, because there are a lot of artists, but not a lot of professionals working with those artists. We need to foster artists, managers, and agents to create more support here.

Lisa LeBlanc’s “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too).”

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

A lot of the New Brunswick artists who showcased at East Coast Music Week in St. John’s have representation. This would not have been the case three years ago. This year, I’d like to see those artists follow-up on the business that they attracted. In the next six to eight months, I hope something comes out of that.

For us, we launched a new web platform, and totally revamped the website. We’re hoping artists will plug in and use it. We can plug into what they do on social media. That’s something that we hope will help us promote artists and eventually connect to other industries, like tourism. We’re hoping the site will be a hub for what’s is going on.

New Brunswick also has some festivals that are worth mentioning. Folly Fest, which wrapped this past weekend (June 26-28, 2015), is an outdoor electronic music festival that’s similar to Evolve Festival in Nova Scotia, but on a smaller scale.

Sackville, New Brunswick, which is a college town on the border of Nova Scotia, has always had a good scene, and SappyFest (July 31-August 2, 2015) has always been a good part of it. The festival spawned off of Sappy Records, the label that was founded by Paul Henderson, Jon Claytor and Julie Doiron from Eric’s Trip. The festival celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2015.

SappyFest has grown from a backyard BBQ between pals into a must-visit music festival in its 10-year existence.

The Festival acadien de Caraquet (August 1-15, 2015) is in the eastern part of the province and has been going on forever.

Acadie Rock Festival (August 12-10, 2015) in Moncton is primarily a Francophone event, but in the past two years English artists have been added. It’s really cool and growing.

Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (September 15-20, 2015) in Fredericton is, I dare say, the best jazz fest east of Montreal.

What would you like the rest of Canada to know about the music scene in New Brunswick?

We’re like one big family. There’s not a lot of competition among other bands. Bands are helpful, and encourage each other. Artists from New Brunswick, because of that mix of cultures with English or French, there are a lot of different styles that come out of that. Identity is very strong here.

There are singer-songwriters, metal, indie-rock, folk and traditional acts, and a lot more. New Brunswick was primarily known for a lot of traditional music, but then there’s been a shift to indie rock. For example, Les Hay Babies have an indie style to them, but they mix folk and a lot of other things. There’s a mixing and matching of styles.

Where would you tell a visitor to go?

There are three main scenes in New Brunswick, located in Saint John’s, Fredericton, and Moncton. Moncton is a melting pot. There are a lot of good venues, like the Tide & Boar Ballroom and the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. Moncton has upped its game, and more artists are starting to coming through.

In Fredericton, you’ve got The Capital Complex. That’s a good venue. There are some good record stores in Fredericton, too—Secondspin and Backstreet Records. There’s also a Backstreet Records in Saint John. Those are some great record stores that support the scene that I would encourage people to visit.

Traveling up north to Caraquet or to the Restigouche, there have been venues opening and more artists are circulating. It’s very promising!


—Compiled via interview by NMC’s Julijana Capone with Jean Surette, Executive Director at Music/Musique NB.

For all of the latest updates from Music/Musique NB, go to or follow them on Twitter @MusicMusiqueNB.

About the Author

Julijana Capone

Originally from Winnipeg, Julijana is NMC’s senior publicist and the managing editor of Amplify. In addition to her role at NMC, she is the founder of Light of Day Publicity, a company she formed to promote the work of emerging Canadian artists.

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