Jonah Brazeau and Oliver Ross-Parent explore if the pandemic has shifted Montreal’s music scene for the better.
It’s undeniable that so much has changed in the last year, and the Canadian music scene, like many other industries, looks a lot different than it did at the beginning of 2020. I had the chance to chat about the state of the Montreal music scene with Jonah Brazeau and Oliver Ross-Parent, founders of LIVE in Montreal.
— Fiona Ham, Writer
Photo by Ryan Maybee
I wanted to pick up some recently released records — Richie Hawtin’s Time Warps and Wolf by Montreal’s own Gene Tellem — so I asked Jonah and Oliver if they’d meet me at La Rama Records, one of Montreal’s finest electronic music record stores. As expected, Kris, La Rama’s record master, had just the sound for the occasion. Once our groove was on, the three of us migrated down towards Café Olimpico and were lucky enough to get a few rays of sunshine while getting down to business.
To get you all situated, LIVE in Montreal is an artist-managed organization that redefines the value of local music. Their mission is to empower self-sustainable artists through promotional content, and offer them a platform on which they can benefit from being the focus of the industry.
Oliver and Jonah originally met through a mutual friend. Jonah was looking for someone to conceptualize his idea of documenting and capturing Montreal’s local scene through a more human lens, and heard that Olivier captured wonderful moments with his camera. This pairing led them to create a series of videos that answers questions like “Who are the strong-minded individuals building Montreal’s cultural industry?” and “How can LIVE in Montreal bring them closer together?”
Through this series, it became pretty clear that LIVE in Montreal would reinforce the communal spirit of the industry by actively seeking a stronger connection between artists in Montreal. Their mission is solid and the determination is real. Their platform also came together rather timely because of the new environment we were offered — The Pandemic.
Photo by Ryan Maybee
As I chatted with Oliver and Jonah, we took a step back to reflect on Quebec’s pre-pandemic days for a moment…were things actually working out for us as a music community before the pandemic? Have people’s lifestyles considerably improved or declined overall since the pandemic began? Are we stronger one year later and ready to take on the world again?
Jonah points out that this past year has given us all the time to reassess our priorities and lives. There seems to be a greater communal bond that has been created for having collectively accepted the financial support of the government. As a music scene, we’ve become even more resourceful, in turn strengthening our skills as Quebec music industry professionals.
We also talked about people’s silent denial of the new now — it reminded us of the olden days when technological improvements changed people’s music consumerism habits. I also raised a brow in denial of what today was, but today is and will be better.
From his own experience, Oliver sees that cutting our social interactions down to a click has definitely helped everyone in prioritizing and restructuring their lives. This new communal spirit brought Montreal’s creative scene closer through the digital sphere and that is what LIVE in Montreal hopes to capture, represent and share. By demystifying the artist lifestyle, Oliver and Jonah amplify the voices of local artists and support a vision in which Montreal can bridge art with local commerce like their collaboration with L’Orbite, a venue for artist-entrepreneurs to develop and explore their creative identities.
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I was obviously curious to know: What sparked Oliver and Jonah’s idea?
It came from Montreal’s summer of 2020, a season that no one will ever forget as we all came together and the flow of organic collective creativity was endless. LIVE in Montreal took on a role of connecting bridges between all of the local creative entrepreneurs they met, and creative entrepreneurship took on a whole new avenue as digital resources became more abundant.
That summer, Oliver and Jonah sought ways to acquire as much knowledge as possible and to share it with artists through digital means. Now, one year after LIVE’s conception, Oliver and Jonah push people to follow their passion and continue to showcase Montreal’s local scene despite the restrictions of the pandemic, and have actively re-centred the artist within the industry.
LIVE in Montreal’s network and connecting is what we Quebecers call l’entraide. This French word has an even stronger meaning than cooperation and is key to our culture as it describes the action of helping one another and reflects on the action of exchanging. In Quebec, the nuance in the meaning between the words l’entraide and cooperation is important because the former is free of all expectations. When understanding l’entraide, I reference a quote by the founder of humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow:
“A need for love, affection and belonging begins to emerge. The need to feel alright and to know that others accept you as you are. An abundance of love and community often sustain people through difficult times.” (Maslow, 1987, pp. 20-21)
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LIVE in Montreal embody this concept. The organization is present on Facebook and Instagram and has curated a short docu-series to introduce you to the Montreal music industry. For your entertainment they made sure to include a little bit of Franglais as all true Quebecers should always try to attempt on tape!
Watch all episodes:
Episode I – LIVE in Montreal
A global pandemic, newly imposed social distancing guidelines and adapted music management. How do all these things interact with each other?
Episode II – Brunch at L’Orbite
Ever wanted a one stop shop where you can create, collaborate and perform your very own music idea?
Episode III – Alex Nicol Band
As we approach the New Year, the team looks back at Alex Nicol’s musical gift to Montreal and his unique concert experience with POP Montreal.
Written by Fiona Ham
Follow Fiona @studiohausofham
Fiona Ham is the founder of HAUSOFHAM, a multilingual communication studio comprised of artists and creative thinkers. She is Serious Betty’s Montreal representative and one of our contributors.