Tag Archives: local 149

AFM Members Named to CBC Music’s ‘30 Under 30’ List

CBC Music has announced its annual “30 under 30” list, celebrating the accomplishments of Canada’s emerging classical musicians. “They’re winning competitions and awards, graduating from top music schools, [and] making exciting debuts,” according to CBC Music. A number of musicians on the list are members of the AFM, including:

Elizabeth Skinner, 29, violinist and member of Local 406 (Montreal, PQ). Skinner recently completed her master’s in violin performance at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, and is continuing her studies there as a Doctorate of Music in Performance Studies candidate. She is a founding member of Trio Émerillon and a member of Montreal’s cutting-edge classical string band, collectif9. In 2019, she played with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal for its European tour and tour of the Americas. She also regularly plays with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

Photo: Annie Éthier

Ron Cohen Mann, 29, oboist and English hornist, and member of Local 226 (Kitchener, ON). A graduate of Yale, Mannes College, and the University of British Columbia, Cohen Mann is a frequent recitalist, new music proponent, orchestral musician, and teacher based in Toronto. He is passionate about advancing the oboe as a solo voice in recitals and chamber music, and has lately been creating tutorials on Instagram and YouTube. He has won numerous awards and competitions, and has performed with ensembles in Canada and abroad. Cohen Mann is a sought-after teacher and has held positions as an Oboe Instructor at Yale College and as a Teaching Artist at the Yale Music in Schools Initiative.

Photo: Oboeron Photography

Marie Bégin, 28, violinist and member of Local 406 (Montreal, PQ). Bégin has performed in recitals as a soloist and in ensembles around the world. At age 26, she was appointed first violin of the Saguenay Quartet (Alcan) as well as concertmaster of the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean Symphony Orchestra. She also forms a permanent duo with pianist Samuel Blanchette-Gagnon, also of Local 406. The two are working on a recording of 20th century works for violin and piano. She graduated from the Conservatoire de musique de Québec, pursued studies in academies throughout Europe, and has won several prizes in international competitions.

Photo: Stéphane Bourgeois

Hillary Simms, 25, trombonist and member of Local 149 (Toronto, ON). Simms is a founding member of Canadian Trombone Quartet, Canada’s first all-female professional trombone quartet. In January, she was named Stratford Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 emerging artist. Simms has recently played with the Canadian Opera Company, The Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. She holds a bachelor’s in music performance from McGill University, a master’s in music performance from Yale University, and is currently finishing an Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School. In September, she’s moving to Chicago to begin her doctorate at Northwestern University.

Photo: Zachary Haas

John Sellick, 25, is a violist and member of Local 149 (Toronto, ON). Sellick received his undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba and was completing his final year at the Glenn Gould School when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He is the winner of the University of Manitoba competition, and has also played with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Sellick is also heavily involved with the El Sistema music education program, as an educator, administrator, conductor, and arranger.

Photo: John Sellick

Bryn Lutek, 25, is a percussionist and member of Local 406 (Montreal, PQ). Lutek recently completed his master’s degree at the University of Toronto, studying with Aiyun Huang and Charles Settle, both of Local 149, and collaborating with three other students on research into John Cage’s experimental electronic work Cartridge Music. Their project was accepted to the TENOR 2020 International Conference on Technologies for Music Notation and Representation in Hamburg, Germany. Lutek has recently moved to Quebec City to begin his new job as principal percussionist of l’Orchestre symphonique de Québec.

Photo: Bryn Lutek

Chloe Kim, 23, violinist and member of Local 247 (Victoria, BC). If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t happened, Chloe Kim would have spent May and early June touring as a concertmaster in Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. Instead, she organized Music for the Pause, a weekly online summer concert series in Victoria. Kim graduated from the University of Victoria and currently is in her final year of a two-year master’s degree in historical performance at Julliard, which specializes in music composed before the 18th century.

Photo: Kelsey Goodwin

Jacob van der Sloot, 22, is a violist and member of Local 145 (Vancouver, BC). Van der Sloot made his solo Carnegie Hall debut in 2019 playing Brahms’ Viola Sonata No. 2 as part of Julie Jordan’s International Rising Stars series when he was a student at Julliard. Jacob’s passion for chamber music also carries into music outreach, playing chamber music all over New York City in hospitals, prisons, retirement homes, schools, and psychiatric facilities as part of Juilliard’s “Gluck” Fellowship program. In January, he became the youngest member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Photo: Jeiming Tang

Gabrielle Després, 19, violinist and member of Local 390 (Edmonton, AB). Després recently concluded her second year at Juilliard. In February, she played Mahler 5 with the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and in January she took part in Juilliard’s Chamberfest. She recently took first prize in the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, which was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Jacques Després

Your Local Business Rep: A Valuable Tool for Recruitment and Organizing

A very valuable and often overlooked position in each AFM local’s personnel is the on-site representative (sometimes referred to as a “business agent”). Each local is required to have at least one person designated as such, as prescribed by the AFM Bylaws Article 5, Section 13, which states:

Each local shall have at least one representative whose duties shall include communicating with musicians who perform in that local’s jurisdiction for the purpose of securing such musicians’ support of and participation in the attainment of the membership’s collective goals as set forth in Article 2.

The wording of this bylaw has varied somewhat over the years, and so has the application. Anecdotally, I have heard stories of how local reps would visit each venue to “check the cards” of every musician on the stand, and were prepared to pull the band if the number of nonmembers exceeded a predetermined limit. Retrospectively, this seems extreme; however, the intent was more to send a message to the employer that only union musicians could be utilized. In the day, this activity was very effective, although the reps were thought of like police.

In my own experience, Local 149 (Toronto, ON) had at least three reps visiting clubs, particularly those that offered live music six nights a week. Some were our peers—musicians we knew who were part of bands and took part-time work as reps for the local. It was not an imposition by any means, and it felt strangely comforting to know that the AFM was in the house.

What is the benefit of reps to the local? Oftentimes, it’s difficult to keep track of which venues have ceased using live players, which ones have started to, or what kind of music is played. Locals with an active booking referral programme may not know who is playing with what band, the repertoire, or the level of polish. A visit by the rep answers all these questions, plus can put you in touch with nonmembers or travelling bands coming through your jurisdiction. In addition, regular contact with venue owners and others who may employ live musicians is an opportunity to develop relationships, which may be extremely beneficial over time.

What is the benefit to the members? Certainly, as a travelling musician, performing in a strange town had its challenges. I recall some locals who prepared a package for travellers that contained information and directions to find the local, as well as laundromats, grocery stores, liquor/beer stores, music stores, and all-night gas stations. There was always a work dues bill enclosed, of course.

When the rep would show up during the performance, it was an opportunity to ask questions and gather information. What other venues of similar type/price range were around? Who are the other musicians of note playing in town? Or perhaps there were difficulties with the venue owner or contract, which the rep could assist with. It was also an opportunity to ask questions about the services and benefits of AFM/CFM membership, and how to access them.

Another area where reps are invaluable is when recording is taking place. Perhaps it’s a “dark” jingle or scoring session, in which case the rep can usually speak with the employer and leader, and a proper contract (with all of the ensuing benefits and residuals) can be the result. When cash work is allowed to flourish and replace signatories and AFM report forms, everyone ultimately suffers. The fee will be low, pension not paid, papers not filed, and therefore, no Special Payments, new use, or other residuals. Rep visits can eliminate much of this underground economy and help musicians receive the fees and benefits to which they are entitled.

I left for last what is probably the most important aspect of having a rep make contact with musicians in the field: organizing. Much of the dialogue will be in the form of “internal” organizing, where existing members are apprised of what they may be missing out on. Knowledgeable members will pass that information along to musicians who are not members. And, of course, reps speaking directly with nonmembers can only result in a positive outcome in terms of recruitment. A local that has reps regularly visiting musicians on-site cannot help but increase visibility, which in turn creates the opportunity to recruit and increase member density.

If you are an officer in a local who does not have a business rep, you should find a way to appoint one as soon as practicable. If you are a musician who is lucky enough to have a rep visit you on site, use that opportunity to learn more about the AFM and its services.

En français:

Jane Suberry

Northern Star: Jane Siberry on a New Musical Journey

Jane Suberry

Canadian musician Jane Siberry of Local 149 (Toronto, ON) has a goal to live more authentically, and lets her heart and music decide where she will travel next.

At 60 years old, Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry says she’s inching toward her prime. “Maybe there are several primes,” she muses. “My goal—maybe a lot of people’s goal—is to live more authentically. Don’t make a move until it pushes you from inside.” Planning is not typical for Siberry, but other projects she thinks about include a TV talk show with musical guests, and a detective TV series for which she’d enlist her musician friends—a light-hearted show covering complex issues, she explains. 

Siberry’s new CD, Angels Bend Closer—her first in five years—is garnering the kind of praise that secured her cult-like status 35 years ago. Here, she confronts hopelessness and doubt, but true to form, Siberry inevitably provides solace, a way of feeling whole again. She says, “It was time to do songs that were safe, direct, familiar, not too weird or outside.” The album is listed In NPR’s Best Music of 2016. 

It took her five years to complete Angels working intermittently in different stages. “People might ask why it’s been so long,” she jokes, “Who knows? Maybe they thought I was working at a Whole Foods or something.”

“I went through my whole catalog and I was surprised to find there’s a through line: trustworthy, consistent. I’m much more direct now. I don’t use he and she, I use ‘you.’ I try not to be too cryptic.” She says candidly, “We don’t have that much time, let’s dive in. I’m sort of like that in person, too. It’s a good feeling when you’re not tentative. You’re operating from a whole different foundation.” 

Siberry of Local 149 (Toronto, ON) is largely self-taught, having learned to play piano by ear at a young age. Later on, she would draw on classical and operatic works to create her distinctively lush, ethereal sound. As a teenager, she learned to play the guitar by working through the repertory of fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen.

Already a union member at 18, Siberry began recording in the 1970s. In the 1980s, when she moved into electronic art pop,  she became internationally recognized.

Siberry’s second album, No Borders Here (1984), yielded her first single, the hit “Mimi on the Beach.” With her breakthrough album, The Speckless Sky (1985), she earned awards and the attention of artists like Brian Eno, who collaborated on a later album, When I Was a Boy. Her duet with Local 145 (Vancouver, BC) member k.d. lang, “Calling All Angels,” from the same album, has been featured in two films: Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World (1991) and Pay It Forward (2000).

In 2006, Siberry adopted the name, Issa, and shed most of her possessions, keeping only one guitar. And then six years ago, she made the switch from performing in larger clubs to smaller venues—home concerts in a salon-type setting.

“I move around a lot and that was part of changing my name—to be more at the behest of the universe,” she says. These days, her only home is a cabin in Northern Ontario, where she retreats when not touring. Her traveling companion is her beloved border collie, Gwyllym.

Siberry credits executive producer Dellamarie Parrilli for adding energy to the arrangements on Angels. “She took what she loves about my music and tried to exaggerate it, making things more poignant, more soaring, elevating my voice,” explains Siberry.

“Part of our jobs as musicians is to be a barometer—it’s a natural thing,” Siberry says. I write about things I wish I had heard people talk about when I was 16. “There weren’t very many people [talking about them], except maybe Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell [of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA)]. I felt like that was a party I wanted to join.”

It was through jazz that Siberry became more interested in formal writing. She says she has always “trusted” jazz musicians. “I understand their kind of musical poetry. I’m being spoken to respectfully. They’re connected enough to themselves. I’m hearing how someone else is living their life,” she explains. Jazz players are also better suited to her music and performances, which involve a lot of on-stage improvising.

“I sometimes think the true role of the musician should be unterritorial, more like shaping than writing a song,” she says, adding that she wouldn’t mind if someone decided to change some of her lyrics. “We’re all different musical beings.”

Every now and then Siberry performs with k.d. lang and says she looks forward to the day when they do “Living Statue” together on stage. In the meantime, Siberry will tour wherever the new CD events and celebrations take her—as long as Gwyllym can go, too.

She may play Carnegie Hall, or head to the mountains in Wales, she explains. Some shepherding friends have invited her to help take the sheep up the mountain when they’ve got their lambs—one event where Gwyllym will be the star. After the sheep are up the mountain, Siberry will tour the UK, walking from town to town and gig to gig.

The Beaches

Life’s a Beach: Toronto Rock Group, The Beaches, Head Out on the Road with a New Album, New Tour, and Big Ideas

The BeachesEven through the roar of the open road, The Beaches’ youthful optimism reverberates on the other end of a speakerphone call. Leandra Earl (23, guitar), Kylie Miller (20, guitar), Jordan Miller (21, bass and lead vocals), and Eliza Enman McDaniel (21, drums) are packed in the Miller’s family van en route to Seattle where they will open for the Canadian rock duo and fellow Local 149 (Toronto, ON) members Death from Above 1979. While it’s not the most luxurious of accommodations for Canadian rockers on the rise, it will do for now. The members of Local 149 (Toronto, ON) were smart about joining the union from the onset of their careers.

Currently on their first international tour, fresh off the heels of their debut album Late Show, the musicians have gained attention in the alt-rock world for a 1970s sound and swagger transported to the twenty-first century.  Drawing from the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and The Strokes, Late Show’s lip-curling lyrics, pounding drums, and snarling guitars feature heavily on the album. Standout tracks like lead single “Money” and “T-Shirt,” show off an attitude fit for a young rock band with veteran polish to back it up.  International Musician caught up with The Beaches in the middle of a hectic touring schedule to talk rock influences, record contracts, and whether making it means just getting out of your parents’ basement.

How did you guys meet, how did The Beaches form?

Kylie: Jordan is my sister and we started playing guitar together at very young ages, six and seven. We wanted to start a band and we were looking for someone to drum with us and we asked our friend, Eliza, if she would come and audition—and she absolutely kicked ass and the three of us have been playing music ever since. We were in a Disney pop-punk band called Done with Dolls up until high school. At that point, we were looking for another band member and that’s when we asked our friend Leandra to join the band to expand the outlook. That’s how The Beaches came to be.

The BeachesDid any of you guys have plans for college or post-secondary education before getting signed?

Eliza: I think the three of us—me, Jordan, and Kylie—were kind of unified in not going to school. With Leandra, it was kind of an overlap with her joining the band and also applying to school. She got accepted to York University for classical piano. She went through a bit of a hard choice and she wasn’t sure whether she should commit to school or the band, or both. We kind of came to the unified decision that, if she went to school, she couldn’t give her all to either—and at the same time we decided that we wanted to go full force with this band.

Leandra: It was weird because I took an extra year of high school just because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after grade 12. I knew I wanted to pursue music, and the only option was to become a music therapist or a music teacher, which didn’t excite me, really. When I got the offer to join this band I was excited and I didn’t know if my parents would support it, or how far this would go. But my parents were super supportive and they’re the biggest fans of this band. They come to like every show. It’s been amazing. This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. Since [hearing] my gal, Avril Lavigne, in grade four, I knew that I wanted to be on stage and play all these instruments with my BFFs, so it was insane to get to do this.

The BeachesWas there anything about being on a label that deviated from your expectations?

Kylie: There was this kind of expectation, in my mind at least, that once we got signed, we’d release a record and be on tour right away. But the reality of the situation was that we got signed and for three years we were doing writing sessions and working with different producers. At the same time, we were able to work with amazing writers and producers and we became a lot stronger as a band and as friends. We had that time to develop our sound and our band.

Jordan: The one thing I didn’t expect was how many people were going to be on our team. I thought there would be maybe six or seven people, but there are like 30 people that have their own unique job at the label that are working for you.

You guys have cited Avril Lavigne as a childhood influence of yours. Why was she so important to you at a young age?

Kylie: You know, being young women and seeing someone who’s badass playing a guitar and being a rock goddess. It was an inspiring visual image for us to see and there weren’t a lot of people doing that at the time. They were playing a different kind of sound and owning their own thing.

Do you guys take inspiration from other all-girl groups? You have a lot of male heavy rock references. Is there any other all girl group you guys idolized or looked to incorporate into your sound?

Kylie: I think that we don’t really think about gender in who we’re inspired by; it’s not really something we consider. So, there are females we’re inspired by, but there are a lot of males. We don’t really think about that when we’re writing music and making music.

The BeachesDo you feel like the “all-girl” label sets expectations for you?

Jordan: When we were in Done with Dolls we’d have people come up to us and be like, ‘Yo, I really like you guys. I didn’t expect you to be good because you were all girls, but you were awesome.’ But, honestly, we haven’t gotten a comment like that in years. I think it’s because there are a lot more females present, especially in the alternative rock industry; it’s way less of like a taboo that we’re girls in a band.

Can you tell me a bit about how you got involved with Death From Above 1979?

Kylie: We actually met them backstage at a show during Canadian Music Week [in 2016] when we opened up for Eagles of Death Metal and DFA was on tour with them. But it wasn’t until Leandra, who runs our social media, became social media buds with the guys that our relationship with them blossomed. They ended up reaching out to us and offering us a spot on this tour. To seal the deal, they ended up coming to our show this summer in Quebec City. They watched our set and officially invited us to the tour. We ended up celebrating with them all night. We went out until five in the morning and got poutine. It was rad.

Jordan: I really think the audition was how long we could stay out with them. It wasn’t even our show. [laughs]

Kylie: This is our first big international tour. It’s been really fun. A lot of unique opportunities—a lot of firsts.

What was one interesting first?

Leandra: A first for us that I thought was really exciting was we got to go on live radio in Laguna Beach and play our song “Money” for the first time and play a couple other songs. It was really cool because we’re getting a lot of radio play in Canada right now—we’re number three on the charts, nbd, it’s a good time—so to go over to America and start our journey over there is really cool.

Where do you see rock going in the next few years and where do you see your place in it moving forward?

Kylie: There’s a nice little community in Toronto currently that we’re happy to be a part of. If we can just continue to expand and explore that, that would be really awesome. For us it’s all about real music and actual rock, rock ‘n’ roll movements. There’s nothing fabricated about us. Sometimes it’s chaotic, sometimes we f*** up, but it’s all really fun and raw. I, personally, am not a fan of things that feel fake or things that feel phony, so I’m happy to see a lot of people exploring a more real side of this.

When will you guys know you’ve made it as a band?

Leandra: We haven’t really been on a headlining tour or played many heading shows, so I think when we start to do that and see people coming out to our shows and buying tickets to see just us, then we’ll start to realize, oh, cool we’re making it.

Eliza: For me personally, I think when we have a real legit tour bus—with beds and a toilet and stuff—I’ll feel like we’ve made it. Currently, we’re in a family car. Jordan and Kylie’s dad was very nice and lent us his car for the tour and we have a U-Haul attached. But I think we’ll have made it when I can sleep on my bed in a tour bus with a fridge and a driver [laughs].

Jordan: I think we’ve made it when I can move out of my parents’ basement. Like, that’s my goal right now.

Kylie: When we were in New York City, someone saw a couple people across the street yelling “Beaches!” while were trying to go get a bagel in the morning, and I said to Leandra, “Oh my God we’ve made it, people know who we are here!” And then we cross the street and see they’re our friends who were in New York at the same time. So, still making a name for ourselves, I guess.