Áki Jónasson/Submitted Above: Patrick Hamilton, left, and Fiona McTaggart of The Sweeties will be playing at Breakout West in Whitehorse Oct. 4 and 5. Right: Sarah MacDougall, a musician living in Atlin, B.C., has been nominated for two Western Canadian Music Awards.

BreakOut West or Netflix this week? Organizer says support music

The festival, hosted in Whitehorse, runs from Oct. 2 to 6

The proportion of local music acts included in BreakOut West’s lineup is exceptionally high, says an organizer, the result of Whitehorse being the host city this year.

“To be able to highlight the Yukon talent in a national, or international event like that is amazing. Partly because we are so isolated from the rest of the world and we’ve got a cool little thing going on here,” said Scott Maynard, executive director of Music Yukon, which helped facilitate the festival.

It’s difficult for local artists to get the exposure they deserve for a myriad of reasons, he continued — location being a given and, connected to that, the financial wherewithal needed to get out of here.

The festival, then, opens doors, particularly because some music industry big wigs will be in town, too. Present at shows could be managers, record producers, publicists and the like.

In total, there are 67 acts that are performing Oct. 2 to 6, 16 of which are local.

Maynard said there were a “record number” of submissions from across the country from artists. He said more than 60 Yukon acts applied.

The Sweeties got in. They play shows open to the public on Friday and Saturday.

“The greatest thing you can do at these things is just be a spectator,” said Patrick Hamilton, who collaborates with Fiona McTaggart. “I’m jealous I don’t have as much time to see every show for $20. I’m really excited to see a bunch of bands.”

The Sweeties take genres like bluegrass and slap it with a layer of doom, attributable, in part, to Hamilton’s guitar tone, which he created by cannibalizing a fuzz pedal in order to make it sound more “unhinged.” The result makes your stomach drop. Now, pair this with melodies taken from the Sacred Harp songbook, a singing tradition popularized in the American south that was established over 200 years ago. There you have it, with some nuances, of course.

“Sacred Harp doom rock,” they call their music.

“The lyrics are super hard and brimstone-y and there are really, like, intense melodies,” McTaggart said.

New material will be played during their shows, they said.

Sarah MacDougall, indie folk pop artist, said rubbing shoulders with some of the movers and shakers of the industry could give local acts a further boost.

“I think it could lead to touring, it could lead to booking agents from another country, or someone in Canada could see you, so you could like invite all those people to your shows and show what you got,” she said.

MacDougall, who splits her time between Atlin and Ontario, has been nominated for two Western Canadian Music Awards, the winners of which will be revealed during BreakOut West.

“For a small place, I think the Yukon has a pretty good scene,” she said, adding that there should be more integration with other forms of music — First Nations music, for instance — that goes beyond singer-songwriter stuff, which MacDougall calls a “theme” here.

The last time BreakOut West was hosted in Whitehorse was in 2011. Since then, maybe a little longer, things have changed, and not necessarily for the better, where local music is involved.

The internet is more prevalent — invasive even — leading people to spend more time with Netflix.

“The demographic or sort of the zeitgeist has shifted a little bit in, let’s say, the last 15 years,” said Maynard, adding that Whitehorse is more of a government city than it used to be. “There used to be an awful lot of support for the music scene, but I just don’t think it’s the same anymore.”

He said he hopes the festival will help change this around a touch and get people out of the house for a spell.

“It builds the community here.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Patrick Hamilton, left, and Fiona McTaggart of The Sweeties will be playing at Breakout West in Whitehorse Oct. 4 and 5. (Áki Jónasson/Submitted)

Just Posted

Yukon artist’s work featured in national exhibit

Nicole Favron named as Yukon winner for 2020 BMO Art! competition

Higher camping fees, new campground, reconciliation efforts feature in Yukon parks 10-year strategy

Creating a new campground within two hours of Whitehorse, introducing higher camping… Continue reading

UPDATED: Driver in alleged Whitehorse gun-pointing incident arrested

Christopher Dick, 24, charged with obstructing a peace officer, failing to comply with release order

YG and pharmacies preparing for flu vaccine distribution

The Yukon government is preparing for flu season and encouraging people to… Continue reading

Non-resident tests positive for COVID-19

The individual has been hospitalized in Whitehorse

Hot Hounds bikejor race serves as lone summer competition

Held in Mount Lorne, the race was organized by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon

Whitehorse operations building officially open

Staff are taking phased approach to moving in

North of Ordinary Experience Centre shutting down

COVID-19 has caused bookings for the space to become almost non-existent, owner says

Canada Games Centre could get new playground

Council to vote on contract award

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Harescramble brings out motorcycle community

This year’s event included 67 riders

YG seeks members for youth climate change panel

“Yukon youth deserve to have their voices heard”

Yukon NDP hold AGM

This year’s meeting was held virtually

Most Read