Keep your ears to the ground — or to your favourite venue — music fans, for Saskatoon’s newest label is generating a whole lot of noise in the local scene.
Grey Records is one of the newest record labels to come out of Bridge City. Founded and run by two former University of Saskatchewan students, Duncan Pickard and Lenore Maier, Grey Records is a label that seeks to put the needs of the artists at the forefront of the operation. And judging by the conversation Maier had with the Sheaf, it’s about damn time.
This artist-first emphasis comes from an empathic understanding of the trials that local musicians encounter, as both founders have been active participants in Saskatoon’s music scene. Maier plays in the sister three-piece The Garrys, and Pickard plays in the psych-rock outfit Shirley & The Pyramids.
“Being musicians ourselves has given us the experience in knowing that it’s really tough to make any significant kind of money for the creation of your art. But we both also know that if you plan things properly and chart a logical path, you can be sustainable and stay above water. It’s just math, really,” Maier said, in an email to the Sheaf.
In addition to knowing the difficulties of making money while being an artist, Maier and Pickard’s experiences as musicians with other labels in town have given them information on how a label should be run, as Maier explains.
“I have been approached by ‘labels’ a few times in the past year that didn’t want to do anything more than put their logo on my music. I feel that this is a half-hearted approach and decided that promoting and supporting bands both publicly and financially to help them excel and develop is more the way to go,” Maier said.
Aside from being artist centred, Grey Records also looks to be sustainable, accessible, inclusive and helpful for artists and showgoers alike. They plan to host shows in a variety of venues and to help the artists who play in a plethora of ways.
Despite the issues that Grey Records seeks to fix in Saskatoon’s music scene, Maier remains hopeful about Saskatoon’s sonic future.
“Every city’s music scene has it strengths and weaknesses. Lots of Saskatchewan bands get overlooked by other provinces, and that’s a major disadvantage in my opinion … We are trying to build upon the great things that Saskatoon currently does well and improve upon the things that kinda suck a bit,” Maier said. Maier insists that, although Grey Records is a business, it is ultimately fueled by a simple love for music.
“Starting a label is also just a super fun and cool venture. We are both music nerds, so this is something we are both really interested in. I’m currently active in the music scene, but that won’t always be the case … It’s a way to stay relevant in the Saskatoon scene once my current projects run their course,” Maier said.
Although the official launch for Grey Records was only on April 7, they already have an impressive roster of artists — featuring Maier’s The Garrys, Pickard’s Shirley & The Pyramids, Owners, and the Sips, to name a few.
The next Grey Records show is on May 20 at PAVED Arts and will feature Ghost Twin, Waitress and 3 Ninjasks. The first official Grey Records release will happen on May 19, with the dropping of The Garrys’ second album, Surf Manitou. Be sure to check out these events.
To find out more about Grey Records and their forthcoming events, visit their Facebook page.
Tanner Bayne / Culture Editor
Graphic: Grey Records / Supplied