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It’s electric — new open-stage night comes to Saskatoon

By in Culture
Jesse Selkirk playing live at last week’s Synaptic Monday.
Jesse Selkirk playing live at last week’s Synaptic Monday.

Electronic music fans in Saskatoon have a new home.

Vangelis Tavern launched Synaptic Mondays on Jan. 14. The open mic event is the city’s only weekly showcase of electronic music.

Launched by Vangelis’ event booker Rich Taylor and musician Jesse Selkirk, who performs as a solo artist under the pseudonym Sleepwreck and in the band The Depth, Synaptic is a venue for electronic enthusiasts to play, network and enjoy local electronica.

“We see Synaptic as a lot of different things,” Selkirk wrote in an email to the Sheaf. “It’s a great way for people who are new to performing and new to the scene to get their feet wet on stage and meet other folks who are making similar music.

It’s a chance for more experienced artists to test out new material on a decent-sized [sound system] and an opportunity for them to provide mentorship to artists with less experience.”

Selkirk is also a music instructor at Saskatoon’s Academy of Music where he teaches guitar, bass and voice. Mentorship at Synaptic is important to him.

He describes the weekly event as “an artistic melting pot,” saying he hopes “to see some new and interesting collaborations coming out of it.” Selkirk added that new collaborations are a “big contributing factor to the health of a scene.”

Synaptic joins a slate of local talent showcases along Broadway. Lydia’s hosts open mic on Tuesdays while the Fez’s open mic lands on Wednesdays. These nights aren’t as specialized as Vangelis’ Synaptic Mondays — they cater primarily to bands and acoustic musicians.

“One thing that’s always been really exciting to me about live electronic music is that no two people do it the same way,” Selkirk wrote. “We’ve had MCs freestyling over originally produced hip-hop beats, we’ve had improvised downtempo incorporating looped voice and guitar, we’ve had… rocktronica with live vocals, and I expect the list to keep growing and diversifying as time goes on.”

Vangelis has already lined up artists for Synaptic Mondays. So far local acts Clive Sinclair and Danny Hanson have performed and, on Feb. 18, Synaptic will feature Saskatoon artist Brennan Hart, known by stage name Knar.

“He’s been making glitchy IDM [intelligent dance music] since the mid-late 90s and his set-up is always changing,” Selkirk said. “The last time I saw him he played an entire set just on a couple of vintage hardware pieces.”

Synaptic Mondays begin at 10 p.m. at Vangelis. New artists can sign up on the event’s Facebook page or through Selkirk at

Photo: Daniel Etchell

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