Mainstream music has always been well-represented in Vancouver. B.C. Place and Rogers Arena are on hand to house large concerts, and venues like the Commodore and the Vogue are prime spots to catch well-known artists swinging up the West Coast.
Recently, underground music has begun to gather a similar momentum. Previously hampered by the lack of available places to play, up-and-coming artists have now found a home in locations like gallery spaces and coffee shops that have won the right to host late-night shows in their stores. In turn, permanent venues are starting to feature a growing roster of Vancouver acts.
In order to capitalize on that booming interest in local performers, a number of grassroots collectives are pitching in to promote rising stars in their communities.
One of the most prominent groups is Groundwerk. A monthly meet-up for electronic music enthusiasts, the event invites some of the city’s most successful industry insiders to give keynote speeches, mentor those starting out, and offer feedback on local producers’ tracks. Billed as a “listening party”, Groundwerk’s monthly events have since become a pillar of underground electronic music culture in the city—and as its followers have increased, so has its mandate.
Recognizing that a number of tracks submitted for its peer-listening scheme are of high enough quality for commercial release, the group are gearing up to launch Groundwerk Recordings: a brand-new record label created to showcase Vancouver producers. Tapping into the city’s unique climate, the collective aims to distribute tracks that tell the story of Vancouver’s four seasons, ranging from its dark and heavy winters to bright, beach-filled summers.
The label’s first EP features Diana Boss: a duo who have frequented Groundwerk’s meetups since day one. Slated for a November 30 release, the three-track offering captures the spirit of a rainy fall. Lead single “West Coast” pitches the soaring harmonies of local vocalist Elle Wolf over a light, arpeggiated guitar riff, with a gritty, thumping bassline underscoring the melody. The second track, “Legacy”, offers an arrangement of dark, gravelly synths accented by a driving four-to-the-floor beat. Topping off the collection is a remix of “West Coast” by accomplished Vancouver export Karsten Sollors, who channels Wolf’s vocals into a more mellow, tech-house setting.
Dedicated to celebrating local talent, Groundwerk will continue to evolve in order to serve its community—and fans of the EP can expect more music from the collective in the near future.
Diana Boss’s “West Coast EP” will be released on Groundwerk Recordings on Wednesday (November 30). The Groundwerk Listening Party runs on the last Wednesday of the month, upstairs at the Anza Club. Check out Groundwerk’s website or Facebook for more details.