The Zone @ 91.3

Last week I did a portrait session with the fine folks from The Zone @ 91.3 for their shiny new website. It was great to work with them again. The Zone has been family for a long time (since well before I was the Zone Ranger for ten minutes). So, to get asked to put together a shoot was a lot of fun. Here are the photos on their website thezone.fm/staff/

Big thanks to Discovery Coffee for having all of us there and Webmeister Bud for everything he did. 

Enjoy a few of my favourites from the shoot here and even more photos here.

Rifflandia: Helio Sequence

Another in my series of featured artists from Rifflandia this year. 

I first saw Helio Sequence at Sub Pop's 20th in Seattle a few years ago. They blew my mind, and I became huge fan. I've always wanted to see them again, but their shows in Vancouver and Seattle were always at awkward times for me. I could never escape the island to see them, and it was clear they were never coming here.

When they played their debut show here in Victoria during Rifflandia I was floored. They've put out two records since the first time I saw them, and man is their new stuff live fantastic. The Metro is a weird place to shoot, but I was there for the music not the photos. 

Rifflandia: The Wet Secrets

Over the next few days I'm going to be highlighting some of my favourite acts from this year's Rifflandia and BreakOut West Music Festivals. 

First of is one of my favourite bands right now, The Wet Secrets. They won the first Peak Performance Project in Alberta and are busily touring around with their recent success. It's also cool to know that their lead singer, Lyle is also a photographer. Be it more traditional and analog. Something I wish I could spend more time doing. 

Oh, and it was pretty cool to have the band give Rocktographers a shout out at two of their Rifflandia shows. 

So here is a mix of my favourite shots from their shows at Wood Hall and Anian. 

Northcote

Back in early June 2015 I got a phone call from Matt Goud. No not that Matt Good. Matt Goud is the guy behind Northcote. He was looking for some new promo shots for his upcoming record "Hope Is Made Of Steel."

How could I turn down shooting one of my favourite local musicians? I made arrangements to do a shoot with him that night. Shortly after a quick haircut at Victory Barbers and an interview for Musique Atomique (you can read that here).

Now that Matt has been sharing the photographs to promo his record I decided it was time to add them to my portfolio. Check out a bunch of the photos in the new "Promotional" section in the left hand sidebar. 

The photograph at the top is a screenshot from the front page of Northcotemusic.com. I've also been seeing the photos on various music blogs. It's a pretty exciting time for me. 

Also thank you to Webmeister Bud for the assist on this shoot. 

Kim Churchill Pop Up Show

There is something great starting to happening in this city and I think it's about time. 

I'm of course talking about the Pop Up concerts that have been happening at the Rifflandia Store in the Victoria Public Market. Atomique Productions kicked the first show out of the park with Buck 65 and chocolate chip cookies. How could they do it any better than that?

The mouth watering smell of barbecued ribs wafted through the air of the public market from Roast and the community kitchen. This was a new feeling for me as I've been a vegetarian, and this was the first time I contemplated falling off the wagon in about eight years. I settled on grabbing a handpie from the Victoria Pie Co. and grabbed a spot at the Rifflandia Store for Kim Churchill's interview and performance. 

I've had a chance to chat with Kim Churchill a few times over the last six months, and he's just as nice as you'd think. Thoughtful, charismatic, and slightly bashful. We chatted west coast life, photography, and his touring schedule before he sat down with Pol Plastino form The Zone @ 91.3 for a live interview.

Shortly after his interview Kim Churchill played a few songs from his new record to an excited crowd of about one hundred people. Kim is a one man band. Playing a kick drum with one foot and a tambourine with his other. Both feet bare. The true sign of the surfer. 

I think all in all Kim Churchill put on a great show, and left the crowd wanting more. Mainly to hear his huge single "Window To The Sky" off his latest record, Silence/Win.

I filed out with the rest of the crowd shortly after his set to find coffee with my friends over at Bellemare Records

I don't know who will be playing the next pop up show at the Rifflandia Store, but I can tell you that there will be another one happening soon. These events are certainly needed in this city and I'd love to see more of them in the future. As concert goers we need to make sure we go to these sorts of things to make sure they keep happening. It doesn't hurt that they are free either. 

More photos of Kim Churchill on flickr.

Buck 65 Pop Up Show

At the beginning of November I was talking with Nick Blasko from Atomique Productions and he mentioned that they were going to start doing pop up shows at their Rifflandia Store in the Victoria Public Market. I couldn't have been more excited.  Less than a week later Atomique announced their first pop up show, Buck 65.

Buck 65's store appearance coincided with his two sold out shows at Lucky Bar on November 6th and 7th, 2014. His show at the the Rifflandia Store was much shorter, but certainly more memorable. It might go down as one of my favourite shows of 2014, and it was only five songs. 

Over a hundred people squished into the little store front and spread out into the walkway in front of the surrounding stores. Buck 65 and Tiger Rosa hid "backstage" in the stock room until they were ready to go on while the Atomique crew passed out fresh baked cookies form the community kitchen. The cookies were guaranteed to have at least 65 chocolate chips. 

If you haven't heard the lead single "Super Pretty Naughty" off Buck 65's latest record Neverlove I highly recommend you do that. Watching him change the chorus to something a little less super pretty naughty because there were kids was great. He still kept the dick lasers though. 

I can't wait for more pop up shows at the Rifflandia Store over the next few months. I can't think if a better way to kick off these free concerts than with Buck 65. 

More photos from Buck 65's performance can be found here.

Don't Take My Picture

It's not very often I like a photograph of myself. 

It has nothing to do with how I feel about my body image. Well, not that much. It has more to do with the anxieties I have in front of the camera, and my views on photography as a photographer. 

Recently, my best friend got married. While we (the wedding party) were running around the city getting our photos taken I constantly found myself thinking "I would have done that differently." The photographer who shot the wedding was a very talented and established wedding photographer, and clearly knew what she was doing. I on the other hand don't. I've shot a total of three weddings and hated every single one. 

To me her posed photos of the bride and groom seemed boxy, uninspired, and lacking flair. I haven't seen how these photographs turned out, but I'm sure they were fine. This was just me projecting my views on photography onto this wedding photographer.

When I'm posed in front of a camera and given direction on how to look it's a hard thing for me. I'm generally factoring in so many other things that are happening behind the camera that I'm not in control of I fail to get the pose right. 

This however has started to change over the last year as I've had my photo taken by professionals I know and trust. For example Kim Jay's shot of me during Rifflandia for her portrait project, We Are Revellers. I love that photo. 

Recently, Giles Clement was in town doing his tintype photography at Victory Barbers for their Movember kick-off party. I was so intrigued by the portraits that were coming out of the staff that I signed up for one myself. Tintype photography is quite interesting and makes everyone look like some kind of former frontiersman. 

Giles direction of my portrait was so well executed that I didn't even think about what was going on behind the lens. Only when the flash knocked the wind out of me. It was nice to let someone else take control of the photography side, because i'd have no idea what to do with his older equipment and developing supplies. 

According to some people I look like an old timey prospector. Some say I look like an old timey serial killer. Either way this is my favourite photograph of me in a long long time. 

Best Man Speech

Taken with Manual on Iphone5

Taken with Manual on Iphone5

This weekend was probably one of the most important weekends in my personal life in a long long time. My best friend Darryl got married to his long time girlfriend, Caity. 

This is a slight divergence from the usual concert review, photos, and music posts I usually make on here. I just wanted to share an adapted version of my Best Man speech. I'll keep my pants on for this one. 

Darryl and I met fourteen years ago at a high school dance, and it has been a fairytale ever since. Our eyes locked from across the dance floor while Darude's "Sandstorm" played, and in that moment we knew that neither of us belonged at that dance. 

Over the years Darryl and I have had many failed projects together, and even more adventures. We have gone to at least three Sasquatch Music Festivals together. We drove across the Nevada desert to California, up to MaxFunCon, and eventually made our way to San Francisco. Not to mention the countless trips up island, to Saltspring, Vancouver, and Seattle. Most of those adventures included a few too many drinks, but that's what friendship is about sometimes. 

There is one adventure that stands out in particular though. 

About eight years ago we headed over to Vancouver to see a friend's band play a shitty bar in a shitty neighbourhood. He'd made plans for us to hang out with this girl, Caity he'd worked with that summer at Dan's Market. For some reason he really wanted me to meet her. He even cleaned out all the garbage from his Delta 88. He'd never done that before. Especially not for me. This girl must have been really special if he was cleaning his car.
 
At some point during our day of the three of us all hanging out I snapped a photo of the two of them sitting on a bench on some beach in Vancouver. Looking back at that photo you can tell he was in love with her. Right then and there. They weren't even dating yet, and it would be another week before Caity would ask him out over text message. 

I've taken a lot of photos of Darryl over the last fourteen years, but the only ones he is smiling in are the ones when he is with Caity. I'd like to think that's because Caitlyn brings out the best in Darryl. I also think he brings out the best in her as well. 

I look forward to more adventures with the both of them in the future. 

Otalith Music Festival 2014

Previously posted on Victoria Music Scene. 

There is something magical happening in the wilds of western Vancouver island, the Otalith Music Festival.

It's rare to have such a well curated yet organic feeling music festival, but they've certainly done it with Otalith. Their band music selection blends perfectly with the surrounding wilderness and laid back atmosphere of the surrounding communities.

For the second year of the growing festival the organizers decided to add a second stage at Tofino Brew Co. for the locals who couldn't quite make to Ucluelet's main festival grounds. Here you could find the freshest beer the brewery had to offer on tap. Including their Spruce Tree Ale and seasonal beer, Fogust. 

Paperboy hammered out a White Stripes cover with more passion than Jack White while dressed as matching old-timey paper boys. They even had bow ties for sale at the merch table. Austin's Bright Light Social Hour headlined with an evening of festivities at the brewery with an arguably more intimate and energetic performance than Rock The Shores. The 250-300 people in attendance of that set were certainly in for a rare treat when it comes to live music. 

When the brewery wound down folks headed to Tofino's Coho Room for DJ sets or raced to catch the headliners Dear Rouge and Bear Mountain at the festival grounds in Ucluelet. 

Unlike the last time Vancouver Island had a chance to see Bear Mountain at V.I.C. Fest this set wasn't full of technical difficulties. As faery lights filled the perimeter a dance party broke out in front of the main stage. Confetti, inflatable pirates, and arms were thrown in the air as Bear Mountain slipped into a cover of the Tears For Fears song, "Everyone Wants To Rule The World."

As the night ended the party atmosphere followed the plethora of people camping at the nearby Ucluelet Campground. Bands and friends joined in the after parties, campfires, s'mores, and keggers. while It was certain that festival goers didn't want the fun to end. 

The second day of the festival started off slowly for some after the parties from the night before, but all it took was the wafting smell of pulled pork from the food vendors to lure everyone back. 

Jon Middleton fresh from Roy's wedding (his music partner in their band Jon & Roy) filled the festival grounds with his brand of west coast folk reminiscent of days spent on the beach around a fire waiting for that big wave. Jon Middleton is certainly a favourite on Vancouver Island for his unique voice and west coast vibes. 

Throughout the day the word "bestival" was thrown around by first time Otalith Festival goers who had never experienced a music festival like this before. Before entering the grounds you knew it was relaxed and family friendly. 

Victorian indie rock bands like Freedom Pony and Carmanah stood out with larger than life sounds. Both bands have grown more confident with their craft over the last year, and it shows. 

The choral pop sounds of Portland's Ages & Ages floated through the air effortlessly like the fog that had rested over the grounds earlier in the day. Children and adults danced at the front of the stage as the sun went down on the final day of the festival. 

Headliners, The Allah-Las sound is reminiscent of a different time. A psychedelic shoegaze pop that is deep and meaningful in the vein of The Yardbirds or The Zombies.  There was no better way to close down this year's festival than watching this talented band perform in such a beautiful setting. 

After an amazing Allah-Las set the festival organizers came out to a cheering crowd to take a bow. It's worth noting that all the organizers volunteer their time to put Otalith together and that they donate the proceeds to three local charities at the end of the festival. 

With well curated sights and sounds it is clear that the Otalith Music Festival is here to stay and ready to put their mark on the map as Vancouver Island's premiere destination festival.

Recovering from Otalith

As I recover from another whirlwind trip to Ucluelet and Taofino covering my absolute favourite destination music festival, Otalith my camping gear is spread out all over my carport drying. 

Right now I'm writing a review of the festival, editing photos, doing laundry, and prepping for a speaking event I'm doing tonight with Jordan Oram and Webmeister Bud. If you read this on August 25th, 2014 come to Al Smith's Studio at 660 Discovery St. from 7pm-8pm to hear some stories about travel, photography, and be inspired to do creative things. Facebook event page.

More to come in the next day or two. 

Bellemare Records Launch Party

Several months ago I was sitting in a pub with some new and old friends discussing the prospect of starting a record label. It was an exciting idea, but shortly after that meeting I had decided that I would focus all my attention on launching and putting together the first YYJ Rocktographers show. 

On August 8th, 2014 those four fine folks I shared beers and conversation with so many months ago had their official launch party as Bellemare Records.

There was a certain magic in the air of Rifflandia HQ as people filed in. Each with some kind of special bond with the members of the record label. Strangers swapped stories over beers in anticipation of the musical performances that evening. 

Vancouver's Luca Fogale won over the crowd straight away with his stunning voice. The room buzzed in anticipation of Luca's solo set, and was far from disappointing. Soon the stage was filled with Bellemare's own Hawk & Steel. A band that has certainly made it's way here in Victoria, and is finally getting some well deserved attention in the local media. 

Closing out the night was Dougal Bain. Another Victoria band that I've heard a lot about, but have never actually seen. They were spectacular and genuinely excited to be part of such a unique event. 

Friday night was not only a celebration of the creation of a local record label, but the hard work and determination of four people trying to build something amazing. At the root of it Bellemare Records represents dedication, the true love of music and those who create it. With people like this at the heart of the Victoria music scene I know this town is heading in the right direction. 

Good luck to my friends Peter, Esme, Brittany, and Sam. I look forward to seeing and hearing more amazing music from you in the future. 

Buy the Snoqualmie / Hawk & Steel split 7" by visiting Bellemarecords.com.

More photos of the Bellemare Records launch party are on flickr. 

Life After Gracepoint

A few weeks ago my friend Michelle gave me a pair of expired disposable cameras for my birthday. Each had roughly eight exposures used on them. She'd bought them at the Gracepoint auction they had at the Fair Grounds shortly after they'd wrapped production of Gracepoint here in Victoria, BC.

When I got the cameras there was a lot of speculation of what would actually be on them. Jokes about David Tennant or Nick Nolte dick pics ran rampant among my friends. I'd expected some kind of boring set shots of interiors that didn't really work. Maybe a crime scene shot. We weren't so lucky. 

Here's some shots from both cameras of the exact same scene. I didn't take them, but I think they are from the shooting of Gracepoint here in Victoria, despite the Vancouver Sun newspaper box outside. Looks like a celebrity or some kind of investigator walking into somewhere and being hounded by a crowd. That's what the scene looks like at least.

If you know anything about the scene, the actors, or what it's from let me know. I'd love more information on these mystery shots. 

I didn't take these photos. 

VIC Fest 2014

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It's been roughly a week since VIC Fest, and every night I've come home from work to start writing about the event. Unfortunately I haven't been happy with anything I've written so I delete it and start again. 

My friend David sums up the festival feeling over on Concert Addicts. I'd say it's worth your time to have a read of that article.

Ever since the very first VIC Fest I've know that Dylan Willows has something special going on. VIC Fest is unlike any other festival in the Victoria area. It merges arts, food, beer, wine, and music seamlessly making it a cohesive cultural festival that just happens to have amazing local bands playing at it. 

It's no surprise that since then I've wanted to be more and more involved with the festival. Not just as being a media person there, but as someone involved in the inner workings and it's success. This year was the year where I got what I'd been pursuing for the last couple years, and I honestly could't be happier with the outcome. 

This year I ran VIC Fest's first official photography team. Not just a bunch of us posting our photographs willy-nilly all over the the internet, but in a one specific spot for the festival. Each member of the team having photography assignments and specific duties of what to capture. With very little curating I feel like our photos told the story of the festival in an accurate and honest viewpoint. At the end of the day we (YYJ Rocktographers) are all music fans and want to see things like VIC Fest be successful. We want to celebrate the folks who make our community a better place. 

In all honesty, VIC Fest is one of the best things to happen in this city every year. It kicks off the music festival season with the passion you want to see throughout the rest of the summer. 

I'm already excited to see what they are dreaming up for next year's VIC Fest. 

All the YYJ Rocktographer's photos on SmugMug.
All of my VIC Fest photos all flickr. 

Adrian and Tyler @ Discovery Coffee

This past weekend I wrapped up the last of my shoots for VIC Fest's artist profile series. The series of posts was spearheaded by Adrian Chalifour of Towers & Trees who arranged getting musicians together, setting up with the food vendors, and transcribing the up to an hour conversations. I just took photos. 

Adrian and I met bright and early at the Discovery Coffee in James Bay in hopes to have fresh donuts and coffee while doing the interview with Tyler Bancroft of Said The Whale over Skype. Turns out we got there so early that the donuts weren't ready, but that was okay. We got the freshest donuts possible about ten minutes later. 

All and all this has been one of the funnest projects I've worked on. It's given me a chance to get to know some great local musicians as well as connect more with some of my friends who were part of this series. Plus free pizza, donuts, and bbq isn't all that bad. 

It's my hope that we get to do this again next year with more people and more vendors.

Here's VIC Fest Profile #3 with Adrian Chalifour and Tyler Bancroft at Discovery Coffee. 

As always more photos on my flickr. 

Kathryn and Robbie @ Pizza Prima Strada

In my last post I mentioned this little project I've been working on with Adrian Chalifour of Towers & Trees for Music BC's Songwriter Workshop happening on June 14th, 2014 at St. Ann's Academy during this year's VIC Fest. We are pairing up an established artist with an up and comer in the Victoria music scene to talk songwriting while eating great food at VIC Fest food vendors. 

The second session of VIC Fest Profiles happened at Pizza Prima Strada's  Bridge St. location with Kathryn Calder and Robbie Aylesworth. Both wonderfully talented musicians. I've followed Kathryn Calder's career since I first saw Immaculate Machine play the their cd release party for Transporter, and Robbie Aylesworth I'm just starting to get to know. The following night after this interview Robbie played a last minute gig with a full band for the first time here in Victoria. Let's just say it kicked some serious ass. This guy is going somewhere, like The Zone's Band of The Month. 

Oh, and Robbie played another last minute gig at YYJ Rocktographers. That pretty much makes him the best in my books. 

Here's VIC Fest Profile #2 with Kathryn Calder and Robbie Aylesworth at Pizza Prima Strada.

Also more photos on my flickr. 

Peter and Aidan @ Pig BBQ Joint

Recently I've been working on a project with Adrian Chalifour of Towers & Trees for Music BC's Songwriter Workshop during VIC Fest this June 14th, 2014. We head out with an established musician taking part in the Songwriter's Workshop with another performer from VIC Fest to a food vendor from the festival for food and conversation. 

Adrian has been working diligently to transcribe the interviews and I shot all the photos for the project. So far we've had Pizza Prima Strada with Kathryn Calder and Robbie Aylesworth and Pig with Peter Gardner (Hawk & Steel) and Aidan Knight. Next we'll be doing coffee and donuts at Discovery Coffee with Said The Whale. 

Anyways, I'll be posting the photographs out to correspond with Adrian's VIC Profiles posts on the VIC Fest website. 

Here's VIC Fest Profile #1 with Peter Gardner and Aidan Knight at Pig BBQ Joint.

Here are more of my photos on Flickr. 

Otalith 2014 Launch Party

Previously posted on Victoria Music Scene.

UCLUELET – On May 16 and 17, 2014 the Otalith Music Festival threw two amazing launch parties in Ucluelet and Tofino respectively. The first featured The Slack Tide String Band and Jon Middleton at the Ucluelet Aquarium, and the second hosted Victoria’s Carmanah at the Tofino Community Centre.

2013′s Otalith Music Festival hosted acts like The Cave Singers, Current Swell, White Buffalo, Kathryn Calder, Northcote, and Yukon Blonde among others in arguably the most intimate settings you’ll ever see any play in. Otalith is the festival for the people looking to escape the crowds, but still enjoy the community feeling of any major music festival.

Unlike last year, the second annual Otalith Music Festival not only takes place at their beautiful festival grounds in Ucluelet, but in various locations throughout the Tofino area as well. Taking full advantage of indoor clubs, bars, and a brewery on the Friday night of the festival.

This year the second annual Otalith Festival taking place August 22nd and 23rd will feature Bright Light Social Hour, The Allah-las, Ages & Ages, Wake Owl, Shred Kelly, Carmanah, Bear Mountian, Coal Moon, Wil, Dear Rouge, Old Man Canyon, Scouts, Prestors Pistols, Jon Middleton, DJ Honrat, High Tide Collective, Paperboy, Freedom Pony, and more to be announced in the coming months.

Austin’s Bright Light Social Hour has remained one of the most talked about acts in Victoria since their appearance at 2012′s Rifflandia Music Festival. While this won’t be their only visit to The Island this summer it will certainly be the most memorable as there are rumours of a brewery performance in Tofino on the Friday night of the festival.

Another band still making waves after their Rifflandia 2013 performances is Bear Mountain, a band that was formed as a side project to Ian Bevis’s Top Less Gay Tekno Party. Bear Mountain has seemed to have gained more traction that their predecessor and have notably opened for Hot Chip, Bloc Party, and MS MR as well as playing major international music festivals like Lollapalooza and Sasquatch. Certainly a must see at Otalith.

The Otalith Music Festival continues to strive for a uniquely west coast feeling festival. A vibe that can only be felt and not described. If you are looking for an intimate music festival experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world while drinking amazing craft brews and making new life long friends this is the festival for you.

Otalith not only promises you an amazing festival experience, but something you will remember and cherish for the rest of your life.

Otalith Music Festival: http://www.otalithfestival.com
Tickets $80 Saturday Pass/$100 Weekend Pass – available at TicketFly.com

VIC Fest Ale Launch Party

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Last weekend I was invited to Vancouver Island Brewery for the launch of this year's Festival Ale in celebration of all the awesome that is VIC Fest. 

The clean, crisp, and lightly hopped beer paired well with the atmosphere of the party. A refreshing get together with new and old friends that were all excited for the busy summer months ahead of them. There is nothing quite like it when a room like this gets together. I honestly cannot wait to see the magic that comes from VIC Fest this year. 

Robbie Aylesworth play a quick but fun acoustic set. Proving that he can shred when he needs to and an affinity for Tom Petty. While my beer glass never really seemed to empty I caught up with Towers & Trees before their set about the coming months. It sounds like big things are in the works. 

As the crowd thinned after Towers & Trees acoustic set an unscheduled Man Made Lake took the stage. A welcome surprise by the few that stuck around to help drink nine kegs dry before moving onto other bars and adventures in the early evening. 

If this summer is half as fun as this Saturday afternoon in early May I think it's going to be the best summer in years. 

More photos of the VIC Fest Ale Launch Party.