Music Interview: First Calgary, then the world

By Nathan Atnikov

The Canadian indie music scene has never been hotter. Thanks to bands like the Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Broken Social Scene, even the hippest of hipsters down south are looking north for their new favourite band. With this in mind, a new record label, Vulpine Records, is launching in our very own city, not as bandwagon jumpers but as true indie rock lovers. Though the Vulpine team is passionate about their new project, the same can’t be said about the state of Calgary’s current music scene considering most big Canadian bands these days call the east home.

“Calgary’s like a big vacuum,” says Vulpine recording artist Drew Deboer. “Not like Toronto or Montreal. We don’t have a major audience for the indie scene. It’s very conservative.”

One of the founders of Vulpine, Colin Askey, insists the problem is compounded by bands flocking east in hopes of hitting it big.

“A lot of bands move [to Montreal] because that’s where it’s happening, and they want to compete,” he says.

The idea for Vulpine Records originated with Askey and Jon Reddit, a member of Beija Flor, who dreamt of the label long before it became a reality. With a group of talented friends, Askey realized he was sitting on a potential goldmine but his main incentive was to have his friends’ music heard.

“We talked about it for a long time and thought it would be good idea,” he says. “I had these friends, guys with a lot of talent but not the ability to put it out there. I wanted to do that for them. And, you know, make money off of them.”

While they admit Vulpine isn’t exactly rolling in money just yet, what might be an like an uphill battle hardly discourages them. Many conversations start with the difficulty they face in launching the label but there is an equal amount of discussion about the label’s ultimate goal–global domination. Or, at least, showing the world there’s more to Alberta than Nickelback.

“We face challenges,” concedes one of Vulpine’s chief operators, Bryce Sluchenski.”But it seems like a simple formula. It all starts with good music and creativity.”

“It’s also a good thing that there aren’t a lot of other labels out there,” Askey says of the sparse Alberta music scene and of Vulpine’s eventual plans to expand beyond a tight group of friends. “There’s lots of talent in this province, and we want to get to the point where we can represent them all.”

Their aspirations don’t end there.

“We have the technology now with the internet and blogging,” says Deboer. “There might be a niche market in Germany or something like that, and we can push the music out there so easily.”

For the time being, however, Vulpine will focus on conquering Alberta, as they pour their efforts into an upcoming showcase on October 29th at the Hop in Brew, where people will get the chance to become acquainted with Vulpine’s distinctive art-rock sound, as well as the artists themselves. Sluchenski is a long way from complaining about the workload ahead.

“If you’re not passionate about it, you’re just doing the wrong thing.”

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