On July 21 of this year, SiriusXM Canada announced the four winning communities in its first-ever Face the Music Summer Concert Series competition, and Sault Ste. Marie was among them.
What we won was a free concert featuring Bedouin Soundclash and Broken Social Scene on Wednesday, August 17.
"I'm actually not surprised that Sault Ste. Marie won," Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash told SooToday.com prior to the show. "I'm glad the show is here. It's been a long time since we've played the Sault."
"I wanted the Sault to win," Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew told us. "We've never played here before and it would be silly for a big centre like Toronto to get the show since we're from there."
Although the two bands would never be categorized under the same musical genre, both Broken Social Scene (an often trippy jam rock band) and Bedouin Soundclash (heavily influenced by reggae and Caribbean music) are like-minded when it comes to approaching the Canadian music industry.
Neither are willing to conform to gain notoriety or commercial success.
Drew told us that he was most influenced by bands he found outside the usual commercial circles and always enjoyed bands that were never played on mainstream radio.
Although, he did admit half joking that he doesn't mind hearing the likes of George Michael now and again, and expressed a strong desire for an all AC/DC station on his satellite radio.
"I think we do a good job of going around the edges and then trying to slide in here and there," Drew said. "Forgiveness Rock Record, our last release, was maybe our attempt at our most accessible release while keeping in step with what we want to do."
"We've never been 'of the time' so to speak," Malinowski told us. "We missed the big reggae scene by about 15 years. I was really pumped to be in a band and push musical boundaries."
"There's a huge dichotomy between Canadian music and and the immigrant population," he continued. "[Ethnic music] is not institutionalized or well represented here so those kids don't look to Canada for their music. I hope in the future more Canadian kids look towards themselves and where their parents came from for what it means to be Canadian rather than think 'I'm a person of colour, I have to listen to American hip hop'."
Bedouin Soundclash created Pirates Blend Records to offer a platform for other ethnically influenced bands to share their experiences and sound - bands that major labels might not touch but there exists a strong audience for.
"These days, once kids start buying their own music, they're also tech savvy enough to go beyond what major labels are trying to feed them," said Malinowski. "They can avoid that gate keeper and find online communities of like-minded music fans."
"Being successful at getting your music out and noticed is always luck and always timing. It's always those two things at once," Drew said of 'making it' in the industry. "A lot of people get crushed when they don't have that in their corner. There's so much music out there now because there's so many kids that want to make records and offer their versions of what they hear. That's a difficult balance."
Well, for the 1,000 attendees at Wednesday night's performance, they got to hear exactly what they came out for - an alternate view of the Canadian music landscape.
Despite that fact that an audience of that size in an arena that can house 5,000 unfortunately made the room feel somewhat cold and lonely, both bands brought their best, easily recruiting a crew of new fans.