We all tend to live in our own little bubbles, and music scenes are no exception. New York City has a bustling garage rock scene, New Orleans is the best place in the U.S. for jazz, and, of course, California is spitting out some of the best surf rockers.
Have you ever wondered what these different music scenes that are going strong around the world are like? Well, BTRtoday has! We’re constantly chatting with and interviewing bands, musicians, and music industry professionals about their music, so this time we thought we’d ask them about their world’s music scene.
BTRtoday spoke to some of our favorite musicians and bands we’ve interviewed in the past about their music and the cultures that surround them—some aren’t too keen on their scene, and some live by it.
Hart Gledhill of Sleeping Beauties (Portland, Seattle):
Unfortunately, we are based in the home of Voodoo donuts and condos, in a city where people will continue to stand in lines of tourists, after little kids are shot across the street, and complain that they can’t go get their ice cream at their Salty Straw. They’ll knock down old houses, and they’ll build more condos, and then they’ll complain about how you’re loud and you’re playing music, but that’s what Portland is.
Musically, [Portland] is pretty piss poor. As far as I know, there are two good bands: there is Lavender Flu, and there is Long Knife, and that’s it. No certain genre; it’s the genre of good music. It doesn’t matter what it is. There’s not like a striving ska scene, or there might be, but I’m not a part of it.
Katie Monks of Dilly Dally (Canada):
Toronto is cool, it’s the best shit ever—and Drake has absolutely nothing to do with it, I’ll tell you that! There are such great bands in Toronto, but in NY there is just so much—so many musicians trying to make it. It’s just so easy to get lost in the pond or lost in the ocean, because there’s so much of it—it’s hard to be discovered within it.
Toronto is very small and tight knit, it’s really competitive because there’s so many great acts and so much comes out of there. So, it’s not like you can roll into Toronto and become the next big thing, which is exactly what me and Liz tried to do—move in from the suburbs, be like, ‘yeah, we got this! We’re gonna go straight to the top!’ and the city was like, “nope.” No one gave a shit about us, we got ripped off for shows, it was all cliquey. We didn’t feel like we fit in with any scene at all and it took years and years to really find a way to take what was going on everywhere in most of Toronto with the great live music that was there and to just embrace all of that and translate our vision into this different context and draw from all of our gross, heavy, friend bands and our awesome producer friends.
Lias Saoudi of Fat White Family (U.K.):
Depends where you are in the U.S.—obviously, we’re more established in the UK, a lot more than we are over here [in the U.S.]. The big city gigs are great, little places are a bit more challenging. NY & LA, once you get past the first couple of hurdles, they can be great fun. We’ve played little places like Omaha, Pontiac, Michigan, Tucson, Arizona. Generally, it’s different compared to the audiences—American crowds can be fun though!
Martin Dacorrd of Weird Omen (France):
Well, for sure [France] a big influence because we have different radio here, so rock’n’roll is far from us when you’re a teenager in France. When I was a teenager there was just one place to buy CDs and it was a cheap clothing shop, so the things [music] I could find were totally vintage. So, I think this is the most difficult thing. So, what has influenced us is that rock’n’roll is far and you have to reach for it in France, instead of the U.S. or in the U.K.
Dylan Sheehan of Ruth Carp & The Fish Heads (Australia):
It depends on which city, but Sydney has got a good thing. It’s a really tight knit sort of scene. So you see a lot of the same people at the same shows. It’s a decent scene, for sure—I like it a lot. But it would be hard if you were traveling over there from overseas and you didn’t know someone who was in a scene, you’d probably end up going to a bunch of venues that weren’t really playing much or where many people are there. You kind of have to know what’s going on.
There’s a little bit of a D.I.Y. scene. Marc and I, the guitarist who is also in Dead Brian, we sort of started a house called “The Surgery House,” which was our main DIY spot and it was super ghetto and we would have gigs and stuff—it was pretty cool. It just got a bit too much and we all had to move out ‘cause, well you know, it was pretty wild.
Diego Solórzano of Rey Pila (Mexico):
The scene in Mexico City is the same [as NYC] in the sense that it’s young kids going to shows and a lot of love for music, especially rock music—it has the most people. Like, every band from the UK and US come here to play to their biggest audience, it’s crazy! Interpol doesn’t play for the same amount of people in the US or Europe. Mexico is very big for Interpol and indie [music]. The Strokes are very big here, Franz Ferdinand, White Stripes—it’s a very rock’n’roll town.
Mexico kind of influences Rey Pila, because, you know, we live here, I was born here. There’s a very intense love for ‘80’s music here in Mexico, there’s actually a radio station 92.1, that only plays classic rock music, like ‘80’s and ‘70’s pop songs. That radio station is the one I’ve always liked the most since I was a little kid. I used to listen to the station and stumble across a band like The Cars or Depeche Mode and other cheesy ‘80’s stuff. So, in a way, I think the band has a lot of influence of that whole world, especially the cheesy songs. A lot of bands, it’s politically correct to have a direction and look towards great rock’n’roll bands or very established bands like Pavement and deep indie rock, which is really good, but I think this is a time where that’s ending—indie music is ending for me, it’s done.
Jordan Corso aka Cotillon, also a U.S. rep for Modern Sky Entertainment (China):
Recently I was in China. Someone gave me a book a couple years ago about architecture in communist countries, like photographers who would go gorilla and photograph things that weren’t meant to be seen. I kind of used that book as a reference in going to China. There’s a ton of really cool music that is western inspired that is more or less under government control, so it doesn’t really get heard.
I went to a music festival there—it was primarily Chinese bands, bands that were into Joy division, kraut, synth music, and basically got totally blown away! It was almost like I landed on another planet and got to see things that no one else knew about. It was refreshing. I was listening to this band called Retrose. I got their catalogue while I was in Beijing. What happens is a lot of famous musicians go over to China and this experience happens to them, and they’re kind of surprised, and they want to get involved. I’ve been kind of orchestrating some bands over there now, sending some producers. It’s really exciting!