Editor’s Note – Issue 8: Nourishment

Editor’s Note – Issue 8: Nourishment

By: Tabassum Siddiqui | Art by: Michael Rancic

If you’re familiar with New Feeling (and for newcomers, welcome!), you know that it was started as a way of reimagining the old model of music journalism—one that’s seen in-depth, thoughtful coverage slashed and publications closed. Over the past year, New Feeling’s cooperative model has powered several issues of innovative writing that highlights emerging Canadian artists not served well by the old paradigm.

In two decades of writing about music, I’ve rarely heard any editor or publication make mention of values. They might talk about editorial approach, or copy style, or even journalistic ethics. When New Feeling launched with a commitment to being a supportive platform where writers and creatives worked collaboratively not just to publish great work, but to uphold community-based values, it underscored the collective’s unique space in the Canadian music scene.

In thinking deeply about what sort of music writing they wanted to see and how to make that happen through a cooperative process, the organizing working group and steering committee worked together to develop the framework that guides New Feeling. Part of those early ideas included the establishment of a Public Editor role—someone who could be a resource and contact for readers; a go-between amidst co-op members and the New Feeling readership (though we certainly hope readers will consider becoming members as well, as your voice and input can only help the collective grow!).

With this issue, I’ll be stepping into that role—at least to start; we hope other New Feeling members will also serve as the Public Editor down the road and bring their own ideas and creativity to engaging with readers. The way we see it, having a Public Editor is a vital part of living up to the co-op’s values, particularly when it comes to transparency and accountability.

If you have questions, feedback, or even complaints, you’ll now have a direct contact at New Feeling you can reach out to—I’m keen to get your input into the work we’re doing and how we can make it even better.

As a longtime journalist, I also want to ensure those interested in any aspect of music journalism—whether that’s writing, editing, criticism, pitching or something else—can come to New Feeling for support and resources. And what that looks like—online workshops? Mentoring? Writing feedback?—is entirely up to you.

It’s perhaps fitting that we are taking this step as we launch Issue 8, on the theme of Nourishment—how to feed our bodies, minds, and souls during these last few trying years has certainly been top of mind, and we hope the reviews and stories in this issue remind you of how music can nourish us. Of course connection is yet another way we nurture community—something I’m hoping I can help do for New Feeling as the new Public Editor.

In this issue, writer Karen K. Tran interviews Brock Boonstra, frontman of Guelph punk band Habit, about how his love of music dovetails with his enthusiasm for cooking. “Being able to invite people over and say, ‘Hey, this is something that’s really interesting to me’ is just a good way to communicate with each other,” he says.

New Feeling is all about sharing what we think is interesting to our writers—like Boonstra, we’re inviting you into our (virtual) space, and hope you’ll connect with us in return.

Whether you read about an artist you already know and love, or discover some new sounds through one of our stories—or maybe you’re a music writer or diehard music fan who wants to get involved with like-minded people who love and support creative, diverse art by joining the co-op—I want to hear from you. Email me at nfpubliceditor@gmail.com or tweet at me @tabsiddiqui.

From the start, New Feeling has been about envisioning that something new is possible through working together with shared values. Reach out anytime and let me know how we can best serve you as fellow members of a community that deeply cares about all the incredible music being made across the country.

Editor’s Note – Issue 7: Legacy

EDITOR’S NOTE – ISSUE 7: LEGACY

Art by: Galen Milne-Hines

The word “legacy” is always in the back of our minds when we discuss the co-op’s plans, hopes, and ambitions, as well as the lasting impact we want to have on our community. We’re always mindful of legacies when we consider the follies, fumbles, toxic patterns, and pitfalls of corporate models that we want to challenge, as well as like-minded organizations past and present, such as Weird Canada, whose spirits serve as a guiding star for our own. Looking forward, we also have aspirations for archival projects that would seek to preserve the work of music-focused websites that have folded or since disappeared entirely. As platforms are constantly bought and sold, the vast amount of work they produce is often an afterthought, and it’s here that we see an opportunity for an intervention: working to ensure that work is not lost and can be accessed by generations to come.

As we’ve mentioned numerous times before, one of our goals is to share knowledge and ensure the viability and vibrancy of future generations of music media professionals. As we see it, that requires ensuring that our future—or legacy, if you will—remains in the hands of our co-op’s members and the communities we serve rather than those of an opportunistic vulture venture capitalist waiting for the right time to sell their investment to a conglomerate concerned only with overhead and bottom lines.

Looking outside of our co-op, we wanted to consider what legacy means in music and how it impacts artists. In our latest issue, Legacy, the always insightful Daniel G. Wilson speaks with Inuit folk-rock legend Willie Thrasher and York University ethnomusicologist Rob Bowman in examining the evolution of music reissues and its impact on musicians’ artistry, audience reach, career trajectories, and the communities those musicians represent. Jesse Locke facilitates a conversation between Adam Sturgeon (Status/Non-Status, OMBIIGIZI) and a member of his childhood heroes Eric’s Trip, East Coast music icon Julie Doiron. Their chat is the first in a new series called Generation Wise where artists from different eras commiserate about and delight in their varying and mutual experiences.

Our seventh issue also welcomes four freelancers who are making their New Feeling debut: Jordan Currie, Reina Cowan, Sun Noor, and Karen K. Tran. Along with Locke and Tom Beedham, they complete the roundtable for New Feeling’s Group Chat, another new feature where we invite a panel of writers to give their takes on two songs selected by our editorial team, with the goal of offering a variety of perspectives of each track and discovering common threads of interest, analysis, and interpretation.

For those of you already helping us build something new, for the present and for the future, by subscribing to New Feeling, our utmost thank-you. For regular readers or those checking us out for the first time, we thank you too and hope you’ll consider supporting New Feeling by becoming a member and helping us build a healthy, equitable playing field for emerging and future writers while simultaneously working to preserve the past that inspires our mission and values.

Leslie Ken Chu, co-founder, New Feeling

Editor’s Note – Issue 4: Economics

EDITOR’S NOTE – Issue 4: economics

Art by: Amy Ash

The cover for New Feeling’s fourth issue, Economics, comes courtesy of Saint John artist Amy Ash. Her 2016 piece, Factory Girls (Time Change), features a photo of Hershey Co.’s last Canadian manufacturing plant, the Moirs factory. The facility operated out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia until it shuttered in 2007. The piece also depicts two girls from a collection of photo negatives dating back to the early 20th Century in Atlantic Canada. “[Factory Girls] is from a project that explored the changing nature of families in Halifax when the Moirs factory opened because it made working outside the home both appealing and normalised for women, ultimately changing not only the economy but family dynamics,” Ash explains in a statement. New Feeling aspires to likewise change the music economy by prioritizing equity in our co-op membership, the freelance writers and visual artists we contract, and the music we cover.

Ironically, New Feeling originally planned our Economics issue for December 2020, the same month we decided to pause publication to focus on organizational matters including remuneration for writers. (You can read more about New Feeling’s development as a cooperative here.)

Fast forward to today. New Feeling has been pre-approved for a SOCAN grant to fund our fourth issue. Though we are thankful this grant allows us to continue publishing and upholds our goal of paying writers and visual artists, relying on grants creates a precarious existence. Going forward, we are launching a membership drive. We hope everything New Feeling has managed to accomplish thus far—without a steady income stream—will encourage our readers to join the co-op and directly support us in our ongoing work towards equity in music journalism.

The SOCAN grant has allowed New Feeling to open our call for story pitches to writers outside the co-op for the first time. Aly Laube takes a deep dive into Canada’s inequitable grant system as it pertains to operations funding for non-profits. Roshanie weighs the risks and benefits of crowdfunding platforms for both artists and fans. Sumiko Wilson speaks with a money expert who teaches financial literacy through the lens of healing trauma. Kaelen Bell illuminates the psychedelic brilliance of the Poppy Family’s 1969 record, Which Way You Goin’ Billy?

As for our organizing members, Tom Beedham extols Guelph’s most exciting new artists. He also explains how playlist algorithms and the pay-per-stream model devalues the labour—and craft—behind tracks that exceed the standard length of hits.

New Feeling is excited to be back, and we hope you are just as excited to see us.

Leslie Ken Chu, co-founder, New Feeling

Editor’s Note – Issue 3: Wellness

EDITOR’S NOTE – ISSUE 3: WELLNESS

Illustration: Jane McWhirter

In early March, a tweet did the rounds: “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.” As most posts getting the viral treatment do, people responded with a mix of humor and criticism, highlighting the absurdity of the suggestion that a global pandemic would catalyze their own version of producing a seminal text. 

And as with the ‘memeification’ of every idea, debates over productivity have since skyrocketed. Whether straightforward or tongue-in-cheek, the question of what we’re supposed to be doing when the world as we know it drastically changes has remained central to the COVID-19 discourse. Industry and government suggest that we do what we’ve always done, albeit on a smaller, safer scale (that is, if you’re privileged enough to benefit off the labour of those without the opportunity to stay home, or have housing to begin with). Do your job, create, pivot – how inspiring! 

This suggestion hasn’t sat right with many – this group tends to appeal to the concept of wellness, individual or collective. The concept of self-care is not novel but has definitely experienced a renaissance among friends, internet acquaintances, and brands alike. Others argue for the imperative of community care, pointing to our failures to prevent – and our roles in exacerbating – disparities across race, class, and gender. These responses centre on economies of affect rather than economies of output, and ask us to take a look inward at our shared experience as humans. 

Except it is not always so clear-cut. Wellness is not only a concept or lifestyle but an industry that can capitalize on personal vulnerabilities and traditional, cultural healing practices. Further, it’s not often clear what wellness actually entails for you. Catch-all remedies, suggestions and products are not always sensitive to the personal aspects of hurt and healing, and often minimize the importance of community care.

New Feeling’s third issue, Wellness, reflects this multi-dimensionality. Leslie Ken Chu’s discussion with Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg of Absolutely Free and Memory Pearl examines the artist’s study of music therapy and its application to both clinical practice and everyday life. Lenore Maier’s Saskatoon Scene Report highlights the city’s recent rise in solo projects, reporting on a range of local musicians that have fostered creativity by turning inward. Conversely, Tom Beedham’s ‘Why I’m Not Writing About DIY Anymore’ digs into the insularity of the do-it-yourself ethos, arguing instead for ‘inter-dependent music’ scenes. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Yves Jarvis about his experience living in Gravenhurst’s Tree Museum, placing wellness within the context of nature and setting. Jesse Locke’s Deep Dig into Pascal Languirand’s Gregorian chants and “earthly forms of reverence” on De Harmonia Universalia brings the relationship between wellness and the sublime into focus. Dan G. Wilson’s rumination on the gentrification of weed culture showcases the harms of turning wellness into a trend and the often-pernicious effect this process has had on Black populations. 

As always, we’ve got a care package of reviews for you to open up – with an extra roundup of our favourite Canadian songs from 2020

With the end of 2020 in sight, we’d like to thank everyone for their continued support since our launch in September. This will be our last issue for the next little while – we’ll be taking a step back to build out our practices as a cooperative organization and contemplate how to best achieve our goal of supporting Canadian music communities. You can read more about this decision and our reasoning here

Katerina Stamadianos, co-founder, NEW FEELING 

Editor’s Note – Issue 2: The Fear

Editor’s note – issue 2: the fear

Illustration: Sam Reilly

As a musician and freelance journalist, The Fear has been strong in 2020. Every day brings closing venues, closing newsrooms, and an absolute lack of certainty for the future in a pair of industries that had already been pronounced dead before the pandemic. What’s kept me pushing forward is a renewed focus on reorganization, finding ways to band together outside of the system and create something better, like we’ve done so many times before.

That’s the ongoing motivation behind New Feeling, as we now share our second issue. Behind the scenes of assembling these features and reviews, the members of our cooperative have been busy. This includes formalizing our set of values and putting a business plan in front of our steering committee, which you’ll be able to learn more about in the near future. Our collective numbers have grown as we welcome three new members: freelance journalists Chaka V. Grier and Luke Ottenhof, and organizer Lenore Maier, who also drums with spooky surf-rock group The Garrys.   

On the editorial side, we’ve assigned a few roles that will rotate between New Feeling members. I’m currently taking on the position of Features Editor, and Laura Stanley is now our Reviews Editor. Other members have been active elsewhere, with Katerina Stamadianos appearing on the ISO Radio show Solidarity in Sound to chat about what we’ve been doing, and Michael Rancic guesting on the podcast Nick Flanagan, Weakly. Last month, Melissa Vincent moderated the Venus Fest panel Shifting The Conversation (co-presented by New Feeling and Pop Montreal), where she joined a group of panelists to discuss the evolving roles of media support and marketing for artists.

It’s been an inspiring process to pull our second issue together, hearing the seeds of ideas planted in spirited Discord meetings and watching them emerge as fully bloomed features. Rather than offering you straightforward scary stories for the month of October, we decided to put our own spin on what “The Fear” can entail. That includes Laura Stanley’s compassionate profile of musician Michael C. Duguay, who has struggled through experiences with homelessness, addiction, and spending time in jail on his road to recovery. Leslie Ken Chu spoke to Vancouver experimental hero Anju Singh about the ways funeral music and Mozart requiems have helped her confront mortality. Michael Rancic is our MVP this month, turning in a fascinating feature on the ways sample clearance hinders the creativity of artists like horrorcore rapper Backxwash, and the first edition of our Deep Digs review series on Lucifer’s Black Mass, the 1971 Satanic music album by Moog composer Mort Garson. The scary cherry on top is this month’s cover design by artist Sam Reilly.

Alongside a wide-ranging selection of album reviews, this issue also includes the results of our first Reader Survey. Katerina Stamadianos has collected the responses of 144 individuals and transformed them into a compelling report, illustrated by Melanie Nelson, with additional commentary from musicians Cadence Weapon, Paul Carpenter, and Dusty Lee. As Katerina writes in the survey, “we believe that a successful publication is one that is both responsive and accountable to the community.” This issue continues our baby steps towards the process of collective ownership. We hope you enjoy reading it as we rally together against The Fear.

Jesse Locke, co-founder, New Feeling

Editor’s Note – Issue 1: Renewal

EDITOR’S NOTE – ISSUE 1: RENEWAL

Illustration: Paterson Hodgson

When COVID-19 hit, the opportunities available to music journalists dried up quickly, but incredibly, the music kept coming. Though there was talk at first about how the music industry would pause during the pandemic, the opposite seems to be true. 

Even though the live music industry virtually disappeared overnight, it didn’t take long before you could spend an entire evening moving from one artist’s livestream to the next. It felt nothing like hopping from club to club, but the flurry of activity was a welcome distraction and a sign that you couldn’t just halt creativity. Similarly, “Bandcamp Days”—the now monthly occurrences where the digital music platform and marketplace doesn’t take their share of revenue—encouraged artists to release new music and continue their creative output, benefitting from an outpouring of audience support. Mutating from its original intent to distribute money to artists affected by the pandemic, musicians began to direct funds to causes if they weren’t in need themselves. 

It’s in that same spirit that we’ve founded New Feeling. As a music journalist, it was frustrating to watch all of these great and interesting stories arise while having so few places to write about them. I think many of us feel the same way, as more and more of my peers are turning to starting their own Substacks or Tinyletters. I think we all know what we have to do: if the opportunities don’t exist, then we have to create our own. 

At the same time, there’s no sense in replicating the very models that are not just failing us in this moment, but have failed us continuously for some time. The immediate slashing of budgets and restructuring of departments at the outset of the pandemic served as a reminder of how precarious our situation already was. I can’t talk about the few opportunities afforded to me since the industry was uprooted without also acknowledging that many people, especially, Black, Indigenous, and writers of colour, are not even afforded those. In trying to build something new, it’s imperative that we also course-correct and question what it is we want to take with us and what needs to be left behind. 

In that sense, “renewal” makes a very fitting theme for our first issue. In Leslie Ken Chu’s profile of guitarist and songwriter Hiroki Tanaka, renewal comes in the form of life cycles and the ways in which family often reciprocate care across generations; Jesse Locke catches up with Katie Lee (aka EEJUNGMI), and learns how creativity was key to her ability to process and move on from life-changing conflict; and Daniel G. Wilson writes about how a new, diverse cohort of musicians fundamentally changes their relationship to CanRock and their place in it. 

Renewal is also a good theme to introduce ourselves with. Though I’m proud of the work we’ve done to get this far, I also know that we can do better. That’s the ethos at the heart of what we’re doing. Our ability to build a new, sustainable model for what music journalism can look like hinges on our understanding of what has come before and learning from it. We won’t be successful if we don’t acknowledge that growth and change are a negotiation, whether it’s in terms of our continual striving as a co-op toward big ideas like equity and democracy, or the dialogue we’ve started today between us, the music community, and our readership. I hope you’ll be a part of that conversation. 

Michael Rancic, co-founder, New Feeling