What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
On the grill
Who Are You
I’m a musician and music video creator living in Vancouver. My primary projects are the folk string quartet the Fretless, where I play fiddle and viola, and the folktronica band Speaker Face. The Fretless just released our fifth album, Open House, which is a collaboration with some pretty incredible singers we’ve met along the way. My fiddle also keeps me busy as a session musician and side player, working on albums that range from bluegrass and folk to pop and electronic. When I’m not on the road I absolutely love playing pick-up gigs around town with some of the other fantastic pickers and singers living in the city. Playing classic tunes with my friends all night to a tiny room of smiling music lovers just feels so right.
As a video creator, I focus on music and art. My passion with film is interpreting a piece of music through the creation of a kinetic art piece, and bringing that to life on screen in a way that mutually enhances both the music and the visuals. I’m constantly experimenting with a camera, and drawing ideas in a notebook, looking wherever I can for inspiration.
This is a hard one to pin down, as I spent a lot of my childhood going to old-time dances, fiddle contests, and house concerts. My first concert memories are a blur of learning to dance with very lovely, very old ladies who smelled of sherry, and sneaking on stage behind the dance band. I’d discretely scrape away on my tiny fiddle week after week, slowly figuring out the tunes until one glorious day, an old timer thought I sounded good enough, and pushed me up to a microphone.
Laying in the grass looking up at the stars as my skin melted into the body-temperature breeze at the Campbell Bay Music Festival, I heard Brasstronaut play the most perfect 30 seconds of music I have ever heard. The entire concert was sublime, heightened I’m sure by my recent transcendent cosmic experiences of bioluminescence and shooting stars… But those 30 seconds… They came at the perfect time in my life, as countless experiences of joy and wonder converged on my underprepared mind, and presented what I had been dreaming of communicating musically for many years. It took me another 30 seconds, and a nudge from my bandmate Eric to realize I was now screaming in awe at the night sky. We then spent the next five years writing an album distilled from the emotion of those 30 seconds.
Top three Records
Béla Fleck The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 This was one of the first albums that broke me away from the notes I was taught how to play. Hearing Vassar Clements and Stuart Duncan play with such freedom opened up a whole new world of expression, and inspired me to study improvisation. The way Béla Fleck led this band, and composed for these instruments, continues to inspire me. In the world of instrumental bluegrass at this time, his albums drew out the best playing from an all-star cast. I also owe this album a tip of the hat for being my gateway into a life of bluegrass and old-time music adoration.
Rachel Sermanni So It Turns Currently in the record player, and a soothing favourite. This is a more recent album from an artist that I can’t get enough of, and have been lucky to collaborate with on occasion. Most recently Rachel sang a Feist cover on the latest Fretless record. Her albums are fantastic and deeply inviting, and yet only capture an ounce of the stunning energy she shines in a live performance.
Atoms For Peace Amok There are a few things I love about this record. For starters, the consistent and almost soothing vibe of the groove holds my attention through the entire album. It’s constantly interesting, and turning over itself, while working towards a common goal. Couple that with a restrained choice of sonic palette, and you have created an entire world to live within for 45 minutes. I love how Thom Yorke continues to create, and be innovative entirely at his own pace. I find that very inspiring as a career model. Lastly, I love how this album is collaborative and the voices of all the artists are identifiable yet cohesive.
All-time favourite video
Hania Rani “F Major” Come oooon! Three albums was a brutal limitation, now you want just one video?! This stuff is half of my life!! I’ll choose a newer obsession though: Hania Rani—“F Major”. Some of my favourite music of the past couple years, mixed with a stunning location, beautiful dancing, and impeccable and creative camera movement. I’m a sucker for a one-take video and this is the gold standard.
What’s in your fridge?
Deacon Vale Farm Knock Your Socks Off hot sauce. I stock up on this stuff every time we hit Mayne island, drink half a bottle immediately, then proceed to use it on at least one meal a day. Also a fantastic tour meal-booster for the road days.
Lemons. For salad dressings, zesty baking, mixed drinks and more—they just brighten my day in so many ways.
High-fat organic milk. Making a midday cappuccino fuels most of my recording sessions and video-editing days. It’s also something I love to share, so here’s an open invite to anyone wanting to join me at my place for a coffee hang!
You can listen to Open House by the Fretless here.