This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into four of Ottawa’s most unique music communities—what they’re like now and where things are heading. Read on for a guest post from Adriana Ciccone on the future of experimental music in Ottawa, or read Kevin Bourne on hip hop, Ed Lister on jazz, or Carissa Klopoushak on classical music.
Adriana Ciccone is the host of Hexon Bogon at CKCU 93.1 FM, founder of the Ottawa Experimental Music page on Facebook writer, former editor at Echoes and Dust, musician, single mom, and Crohn’s fighter.
Apt613: What is the current state of experimental music in Ottawa?
Adriana Ciccone: If I had to use one word to describe the current state of experimental music in Ottawa it would be: flourishing. Throughout the years I’ve seen a steady growth of artists in the scene and it has been great. Locally, organizations such as Possible Worlds, Debaser, Ottawa Experimental Music (OEM), Bandcamp, Apt613, CKCU, CHUO, Spectrasonic, Pop Drone, Drone Day etc. have really helped to promote the scene and I know artists and fans have appreciated that very much.
In terms of experimental artists and fans, I would say that the experimental scene is both a large and a tight-knit community. Social media has really opened up the possibility of collaborating and interacting with experimental artists/fans from other cities in both Canada and around the world. Through the OEM group and CKCU I’ve had a few international artists reach out wanting to play a show in Ottawa, share their music with Ottawa fans and interact with Ottawa artists. On the other hand, it’s tight-knit because most artists know each other or at least know of each other. At shows, it often feels like a reunion which is pretty cool. In terms of the organizations that help promote the scene, I think there is still room for us to work together. I think if we could work together it would be incredible!
I believe emerging artists get their start by word of mouth, sharing their music on social media and finding outlets that will help share their music. I think it’s really important for artists to learn about organizations that help in that regard.
In terms of who I think are some established artists in the field today, specifically here in Ottawa, wow there are too many to list but a few are Wellington Sanipe, They Grieve, Flying Horses, Amanda Lowe Warnakulasuriya, Expanda Fuzz, RAAS, Wilhaeven, Horseman, Pass By, The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol, Paragon Cause, Slow Dawn, Cygnus Onyx Flame, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Kathryn Patricia, Annie Socoria, Merganzer, The Night Watch etc. etc. etc.! You can find their work and the work of other great Ottawa Experimental Artists on Bandcamp. I started a database and it includes links to where you can find info/music on artists in Ottawa and other cities, here.
If you care to make a prediction… where is experimental music going in 2021?
I think experimental music is keeping a steady pace in terms of releases, despite the pandemic.
Where in your wildest dreams could experimental music in Ottawa go in your lifetime?
I think experimental music in Ottawa could be huge!! We have so much incredible talent here. What I would like to see is an annual festival showcasing experimental artists, in the same vein as Belgium’s Dunk! Festival or Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival. I would also like to provide artists and fans a hub they could access for recording, putting on shows, lending library of musical instruments, pedals and books, etc. That’s my personal dream.
What is the best innovation to take place in experimental music since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?
I think the ability for some artists to live stream has been a great way of getting around not being able to play live gigs during the pandemic. I also think that CKCU’s ability to pivot and have hosts record their shows from home has helped keep the promotion going for artists making music during this time. It hasn’t been easy but the feedback I’m getting is that both fans and artists appreciate it.
Who is the future of experimental music in Ottawa?
Who is the future of experimental music in Ottawa? The fans are the future of experimental music in Ottawa! If fans want to hear this music they need to support the artists by buying their music and merch, sharing the music they hear with friends and attending shows (be it via live stream or at a pub or music hall when we are able to do so).
Tell us something you wish somebody told you when you started your music career.
My biggest advice for experimental musicians in their career is to not forget the business side of things. Learn about the radio stations that play your genre of music, the publications that write about your genre of music, promoters who put on experimental shows, fellow artists who live where you live and play the same style of music. Reach out to these organizations and artists in a friendly and respectful way.
Back in 2015, Apartment613 took a look at the future of Ottawa across several different sectors. In 2021, we’re bringing the series back, asking experts, artists, and community leaders to shed some light on their local field or industry, as it stands now and where they think—or dream—it will go over the next few years. Every week we’ll profile a different cultural sector in Ottawa, leaving no niche unexplored—from social justice to theatre, bars to sports, to the future of the municipality and its natural environs. Keep an eye out for a new batch of posts every Tuesday on Apt613.ca.