Local talent shines at New Music West – Metro US

Local talent shines at New Music West

Sweetheart plays the Roxy on Granville Street on May 3 as part of New Music West.

For three local bands playing the 16th New Music West festival, the West Coast means different things: crows, coffee and Lotusland.

Indie pop group Lotus Child named its group after slang for the region. The lure of the West Coast was too hard for singer Zachary Gray to resist while he spent a year backpacking in Southeast Asia.

“In the ’60s and ’70s, (Vancouver) was uncharted territory for people in Eastern Canada,” he said. “I came (home from travelling) and instantly fell in love with the city again.”

While he said the city has its irritating quirks — like the fact no one speaks on city buses — Gray feels the Greek legend, which tells of an island where sailors visit but become too complacent to leave after eating Lotus leaves, is fitting.

Local folkster Sarah MacDougall loves animals — even after suffering a cat bite that resulted in a few days of IV antibiotics. For MacDougall, the nameless crow living on her balcony and the birds she sees while walking along Commercial Drive are one reason the animals figure prominently in her lyrics.

“They represent this symbol of sadness and escapism,” she said. “Also, I’m from Sweden, and there are a lot of crows in the area I’m from.”

Sweetheart’s Matt Kittle envisions the West Coast as a steaming cup of coffee. Along with slamming back liquid caffeine during eight-hour road trips between gigs, the high-energy pop-punk group recently played for 500 Starbucks employees — at 7 a.m.

“We had to show up at 5:30 a.m. — that’s usually the time we’re going home to go to sleep,” he said. “We played at full volume, just like at a show, so it was a real wake-up call.”

The event celebrated the selection of the band’s song See You On The Weekend (the only Canadian track chosen) on a compilation of employee-performed tracks released by the company. Kittle said he enjoyed playing to his co-workers, though it was strange.

“We were wired — for one and a half hours before the show we were downing straight coffee,” he said. “It’s funny, I’ve become an instant celebrity … (my co-workers) are a little nervous when I’m working.”


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