New year, new faces
Four recent additions to Side Door talk touring in 2020, expectations, and their shared love of music.
Artist: Meg Warren
“When I was in the band I was hyper-focused on my career, to a point of obsessiveness—my life revolved around it,” says Meg Warren. “Now I look at my career as a separate piece of my life.”
She’s on the phone from her home in Toronto, but the band she used to lead, Repartee, came together in Newfoundland in 2009. The band moved to the big city, put out a banger of a debut, 2016’s All Lit Up, then split up a year later. Warren has moved on as a solo artist.
“I’ve got a little studio in my apartment and if I have a song idea that doesn’t blossom I’ll leave it and come back to it,” she says of her “completely independent” music-making process. “I can take a bit of a slower pace, and come back to it when I have something rather than forcing it. I’m the only person involved so I can take my time.”
Last fall, Warren recorded a five-song EP with Daniel Ledwell in Nova Scotia that’s due out mid-year. She says it’s different from the upbeat, glossy, hook-laden songs she made with Repartee. “It’s a bit heavier, certainly less slick, less synth-heavy, more guitar focused, a little bit grittier,” she says, adding the record will fit well with the intimate shows available through Side Door. “Playing by yourself you feel super-vulnerable, super-exposed,” she says. “People go into those shows to really hear the lyrics, really hear the music. That’s not always the case for bar shows. When you’re playing a stripped-down set for an audience that is listening, it’s really wonderful.” —Tara Thorne
At Hayfitz shows, a sense of intimacy and connection is the goal for audience members: A unique experience that brings one to ponder deep topics in a meditative atmosphere.
Hayfitz, AKA Los Angeles-raised, New York-based singer-songwriter Brandon Hafetz, cites influences like Matt Corby and his secret garden shows for his upcoming tour through North America, booked mainly using Side Door and kicking off at the end of January.
The tour will have stops in major cities like Seattle and Vancouver, as well as small towns such as Bellevue, Alberta. “There is something super-charming about playing in little towns because there is just not a lot of national acts that are coming through,” he says, while adding he hopes to create a long-lasting rapport with people in the smaller markets.
Hafetz—who is also part of the Side Door to SXSW project in March—will play songs off his upcoming album, out in May, and road-test some new tunes to gauge audience reaction. He’s excited about the different venue options Side Door offers, allowing him to choose venues to fit with the intimate nature of his shows. “You are in a nice home with nice people and you are getting fed,” he says, “what else could you really ask for?” —Koby Stronach
Evolving from the heart of Montreal, the pop trio Caveboy is comprised of Michelle Bensimon, Isabelle Banos, and Lana Cooney. The three have been playing music together for eight years, but Caveboy officially began in 2015 with its debut self-titled EP.
As its name suggests, the band is constantly evolving, and discovering new things—its members don’t want to ever lose the feeling that comes with the genuine excitement of learning about the world. At the core of Caveboy’s music is a youthful nostalgia that brings to mind nights of staying up past curfew, first kisses, first breakups, and the thrill of discovering what makes you feel alive.
Performing is what the band loves to do most, so when Side Door was recommended by a fellow artist, they jumped on the opportunity. ”We are excited to get started with Side Door to play in different venues, meet new people and make the most of our time on the road,” says Banos.
“We experimented with different versions of songs on our new album to have fewer instruments and stripped-down vocals,” adds Bensimon. “We think this sound will lend itself well to house shows and smaller venues.” ”We are looking forward to bringing a different type of distilled energy to intimate Side Door shows and connect with our fans on a personal level,” says Cooney. —Mary Collier
Venue: Jelle’s Place (St. Albert, Alberta)
Nestled in the community of St. Albert is a home that is shaking up the music scene in suburban Alberta. This home goes by the name of Jelle’s Place.
Jelle Miedema and Cheryl Radford decided to open their doors and become hosts when they heard about a sold-out Side Door show in nearby Edmonton they couldn’t get tickets for and said “let’s just host our own.” So they did. The pair’s first show was with singer-songwriter Ben Sures in November 2019, and it was a huge success. “We already can’t wait to host our next Side Door show,” says Miedema. “We are hoping to host about eight shows this year.”
The space, as seen above, is an open-concept bungalow that comfortably holds about 60 people and has an intimate, cozy atmosphere. Bringing a Maritime feel of kitchen parties to the west, Jelle’s Place allows artists to connect on a personal level with their fans while still playing to a good-sized audience. It’s the perfect venue for artists travelling through Alberta who want to play a show with excellent acoustics, in a relaxed environment, for an attentive audience. “Our hope,” says Miedema, “is that our Side Door shows will bring the flourishing Edmonton music scene out of the city and into the St. Albert community.” —MC
Written by Tara Thorne
Tara Thorne is a writer, editor, and pop culture critic in Halifax