At Expozine 2014, Montreal Blooming: From Backwater to Music Hotbed


Expozine and Québec-ELAN
Montreal Blooming: From Backwater to Music Hotbed
or: How Montreal’s Independent Musicians Unfolded Their Love

Saturday, November 15, 3 PM SHARP (doors 2:30)
5035 rue St-Dominique (Église Saint-Enfant-Jésus, Laurier Métro)
Free admission. Click here for the FACEBOOK event.

Featuring Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire), Kevin Komoda (Rational Youth), Molly Sweeney and Ryhna Thompson (Envision Management).

Over the past decade, the legacy of Montreal’s independent music community has been reported in the pages of Spin and the New York Times and woven into the mythos behind the worldwide success of bands like Arcade Fire, Grimes, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Driving this legacy, however, are real, hard-working people whose love of music fuels their commitment to the city’s vibrant scenes. Howard Bilerman (Hotel 2 Tango Studios, former member of Arcade Fire), an essential component of what has become the Montreal indie music machine, hosts a discussion panel to trace how Montreal went from an isolated backwater to one of North America’s most active launch pads for indie music. He is joined by three other staunch builders of Montreal’s musical reputation: Kevin Komoda (Rational Youth) and Ryhna Thompson (Envision Management), along with relative newcomer artist/producer Molly Sweeney. Together they will unpack how the Montreal indie music phenomenon came to be and explore where it may be headed.

Panelist bios:

Howard Bilerman is a GRAMMY-nominated musician, sound engineer and record producer who has been recording bands for the last 25 years. As co-owner and head engineer of the hotel2tango recording studio in Montreal, Bilerman has enjoyed working with some of Canada’s most talented artists, as well as others from the USA, the UK, France, Italy, Africa, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia. These include Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Arcade Fire, Bassekou Kouyate, Thalia Zedek, Vic Chesnutt, A Silver Mt. Zion, Basia Bulat, Tiago Bettencourt, Sophie Hunger, Lhasa de Sela, British Sea Power, Sam Roberts, Patrick Watson, Coeur de Pirate, The Webb Sisters, The Dears and Wolf Parade. He has been credited on over 400 records. Bilerman’s recordings have received international critical praise, ending up on several “best of the decade” lists in 2010, and the hotel2tango is seen by many as being at the center of Montreal’s independent musical community.

Kevin Komoda was born 1963 in Honolulu, Hawaii and was brought up in Flushing, NYC before moving to Montreal in 1977. He studied music, theatre and arts at CEGEP Vanier before joining 80s cult band Rational Youth in 1982. From 1984-1994 he was employed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a music programmer and producer for the program Brave New Waves and developed the “Sessions” program in 1986. The Sessions program featured new and upcoming Canadian and International music. In 1995 he went on to work as Label Manager for Cargo Records Canada and from 1996-2010 he worked as a freelancer in film and music industry as a consultant, music supervisor and composer. For the past decade he has worked as a recording engineer, composer and music industry consultant for many independent local and international groups. He is currently a musician and composer for Plunt and Rational Youth.

One of the most compelling new voices to emerge from the Montreal music scene, singer-songwriter Molly Sweeney was born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, the youngest of five siblings, and grew up in Northern Michigan and Cape Cod before returning to Canada to attend McGill University, where she studied the classic poetry and literature that inspires much of her music. Working at a music venue in the heart of Montreal’s indie and post-rock scene, Sweeney met many of her friends and collaborators, including composer Sam Shalabi, who recruited her to appear on his first Land of Kush album Against the Day (Constellation, 2013). She later collaborated with Shalabi on a number of soundtracks and live performances, and sang the title tracks from Land of Kush’s 2010 album Monogamy and 2013’s The Big Mango. Sweeney’s self-produced debut album Gold Rings and Fur Pelts was released in June 2011 to critical acclaim. Sweeney was a featured performer at the 2012 Dawson City Music Festival, and has shared the stage with a diverse slate of musicians including Ron Sexsmith, Josephine Foster, Scout Niblett, MV&EE, White Magic, Diane Cluck, Matana Roberts, The Barr Brothers, and Doug Paisley.

Ryhna Thompson is an entrepreneur, artist manager and producer who has been working in the cultural and creative industries for 15 years. Under the banner of her company Envision Management & Production, she has worked with internationally acclaimed, award-winning artists such as Kid Koala, Amon Tobin and Bell Orchestre among others. In this time she has planned and executed dozens of live tours through the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia and produced numerous projects straddling different disciplines such as music, film, theatre, animation, interactive and literature. Ryhna served as President of the Music Managers Forum Canada from 2010-2014 and continues on its Board of Directors.

ELAN (English-Language Arts Network) is an artists’ network created in 2004 to connect Quebec’s English-speaking artists working in all disciplines and in all regions of the province. ELAN seeks to create opportunities for artists to grow their craft and thrive in Quebec by promoting artistic work, collaborating with sister organizations, building bridges with the French-speaking community, and advocating on behalf of English-speaking artists and their community in critical areas such as arts funding and public broadcasting.

ELAN acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.