On the last “Bandcamp Day,” Apartment613 shared this list of Ottawa-based artists selling music on the indie platform. If you’re only hearing about this now, all you need to know is that Bandcamp has committed to waiving its cut of sales on the first Fridays of May, June and July. That means 100 per cent of purchases made today, June 5, will go directly to the artists you wish to support.
You can find the entire list of Ottawa-based acts in this Google doc, however this month the music writers at Apt613 want to highlight outstanding black artists in the #ottmusic community.
Later, on June 19, Bandcamp has committed its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, so please drop Bandcamp links in the comment section for any artists we’ve missed. We’ll update and repost this.
Violist, composer and arranger Kathryn Patricia has crafted a unique niche somewhere between improvisatory, pop and classical music. She creates extraordinary soundscapes with only her viola and a Boss RC-30 loop pedal. Her live performances bring the room to a hush—easier said than done for a solo instrumental act in a club or bar.
London-born, Ottawa-based emcee G. Grand has been steps ahead for the better part of a decade. Shifter Magazine calls him “one of the most slept-on rappers in the city” and we’re here to back that up. He’s released several records with close collaborator Jeepz, which are available on Bandcamp. When you’re listening, check out Tapas, the local hip hop supergroup formed by G. Grand, Hyf and Jeepz.
Kimberly Sunstrum is a Queer, Afro-Canadian singer-songwriter based in Ottawa whose music is delightfully impossible to pin down. Her sound is a blend of pop hits, R&B, old-time country and Motown music she listened to growing up. Sunstrum writes about the world as she sees it, touching on themes of mixed-race identity, feminism, love, family, and queerness.
Some know him by the sound of his voice, while others know Akeem as a friendly face working behind the counter at The Record Centre. As a solo artist, the multi-instrumentalist producer is early in his recording career. However, on top of his Winter Crush single on Bandcamp, there’s the promise of a new record in Fall 2020. So don’t just download his debut track—hit “follow” on Bandcamp to get a ping when Akeem releases more.
Longtime readers of Apt613 should know BLAKDENIM by now. If not, why not? We’ve been talking about this band since they opened for The Souljazz Orchestra at Glowfair in 2014 and were looking forward to their set at the Ottawa Jazz Festival this summer, cancelled due to COVID-19. Fronted by emcee Kenny Precise Creole, BLAKDENIM is a jazzy, electric hip hop group whose live show brings drums, bass, keys, and a tight AF horn section out on stage. Recommended if you like The Roots, The Internet, Anderson .Paak or Kendrick Lamar.
The four-piece funk, soul, rock sensations The Lionyls sound great on record—and that’s no small feat, so props to the band and studio engineers on this one. Their virtuosic musicianship, larger-than-life sound and presence is attuned to big stage summer festivals, drawing new fans to their following with every performance. The Lionyls II is their sophomore album, which sounds something like the record Prince, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and Jimi Hendrix would make with a horn section to boot.
Nigeria-born hip hop artist, visual artist and writer Asuquomo (a.k.a. Morris Ogbowu) blew onto the local music scene with his debut record This That Mo in 2018. Only weeks ago, he was awarded the Ottawa Arts Council’s emerging artist award.
Do yourself a favour and tune in now. His next record, DIOBU, comes out on June 12 and could be the release that shoots Asuquomo into the top 10 of Canadian and international music writers’ “Best of 2020” lists. The lead single is streaming now on Bandcamp, where you can pre-order the entire EP:
Experimental artist Wellington Sanipe has a prolific catalogue available on Bandcamp—and they’re not all singles. From 2016’s Plain Sight to last winter’s Moments, these are 5-, 15-, and up to 30-minute ambient performances of lush, eerie and blissful synth loops.
After seeing his music video for ON EN A ASSEZ! we shelved Apartment613’s Video of the Week column to make way for this Vidéo de la semaine feature. The clip is from LeFLOFRANCO’s latest record, Force Inhérente, which offers a sombre look at society, sounding the alarm against corruption, racism and intolerance. Watch it. Buy it.
DJ Memetic, one half of TIMEKODE, has been rocking crowds through Community Spread, a series of streams highlighting and raising crisis relief funds for Ottawa music spaces and space makers affected by the pandemic. Set a reminder for these live streams at youtube.com/timekode or follow on Twitch.
In 2015, Memetic a.k.a. Kwende Kefentse released his ambitious 28-track double LP concept album Rideau2Richmond, based on samples he found digging crates at the record stores on Ottawa’s beloved #2 bus line (the present day #11 route). Get a limited edition vinyl while you still can.
Born and raised in Ottawa, SeiiizMikk is an electronic music producer, DJ and rapper whose mixes and original music will keep you dancing. Deep grooves to say the least. Pulling from hip hop, reggae and classic soul influences like Steve Wonder and Diana Ross, Seiiizmikk’s own music ranges from house to rap to R&B.
Bonus round: Backxwash is an amazing black trans rapper/producer who divides their time between Montréal and Ottawa. Last known sighting… Ottawa! We’ll take it. Their latest album God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It is earning praise from major tastemakers such as music critic Anthony Fantano and got a big shoutout from experimental LA hip hop group Clipping.
Not every artist we’d like to have included on this list has a Bandcamp page—notable omissions include Angélique Francis, Kellylee Evans, Rita Carter, City Fidelia, YAO, Slim Moore, Clayton Connell, Htebasilé and countless others—please don’t let that stop you from seeking out the artists whose work you value and paying for their music. You’ll discover plenty of new music by following Shifter Magazine, Ottawa Showbox, Apartment613 and your community radio stations week in and week out. Leave a comment below if there’s something we need to hear.