The independent music scene in Canada is alive and well. Over 80 TuneCore Artists took the stage last week at NXNE in Toronto. With Canada in the spotlight, we caught up with Montreal-based electronic dance music duo, Adventure Club. Composed of Christian Srigley and Leighton James, Adventure Club has worked hard to grow their career independently, and we chatted with them about what they’ve accomplished, where they’re headed, and what they’ve learned along the way…
What does being independent mean to you?
As a group we really like to maintain control of our creative process. While it’s nice to get friendly input from labels, we certainly don’t want to be tied down or have to change our ideas based on what an executive thinks is best. Being independent also allows us to communicate with our fans as we please—without having to pitch them an idea we’re not fully behind.
You recently played at Coachella – congrats! Have you done anything in particular to keep momentum going since the show?
Coachella was one of our number 1 goals when starting the Adventure Club project. To finally see it culminate was surreal. We got to close out the Sahara tent both weekends in front of fans who actually knew words to our songs—definitely one of our biggest achievements thus far. To be honest, we kind of went into hermit mode after that, taking the time to write more music. It’s nice to give the fans a chance to forget you a little bit before coming back out with music. It’s kind of like “oh yeah, now I remember why I love these guys,” as opposed to constantly trying to be in everyone’s faces.
We’re not about releasing music as much as possible. We take pride in and put a lot of emotional energy into the music we make. We have to be satisfied to the best of our abilities before releasing a new song, even if that means taking 4-8 months before a new single comes out.
How would you describe the indie scene in Canada?
The indie scene in Canada is massive. Every province has a distinct culture, which leads to a wide array of sounds and musical experimentation. Montreal alone (our hometown) had 5 acts plays at Coachella this year: Arcade Fire, Chromeo, Tiga, Duck Sauce (A-Trak) and us, all of whom started in a very indie setting. City and Colour (from Ontario) also played—huge inspiration for us—and they definitely were part of a grassroots indie movement when the project begun. It’s a very supportive and diverse scene.
How has your sound changed over time?
When we first started, we wanted to be as aggressive as possible, wanted it to be just full of dirty bass. Over time our musical preferences changed and we started to experiment with more liquidy, “beautiful landscape” type music. While most of our popular songs resemble dubstep with regards to the half time rhythm, they aren’t as aggressive as many people would expect.
Lately, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of different kinds of genres. Our musical tastes change quite frequently and we’re trying to pull from a lot of different places. Our song “Wonder (feat. The Kite String Tangle)” is an example of this.
Why did you decide to partner with TuneCore?
At first we thought giving away music was how it was supposed to be. A friend of ours from Big Gigantic told us about TuneCore. We decided to give the fans an option, they could download our music for free or go to iTunes (and the numerous other stores TuneCore distributes to) and purchase songs. What we found was: 1) Our fan base grew because there were people who only use music stores to find and download music; 2) We had many many fans who were willing to support us.
Do you use the trend reports and sales reports in your account to learn from and grow your brand?
The reports in TuneCore are incredibly helpful. Analyzing which songs and which stores perform best is crucial. We know what to promote more, and where.
What tips would you give to other indie artists looking to grow their careers?
Artists who can form a community with their fans often succeed. Online this means staying up to date on social media platforms. Offline it means connecting with fans as much as possible. We stay after shows for as long as we can to meet fans.
Complimenting this, artists and managers alike must realize that marketing does play a crucial role in building a successful brand. Staying on top of new trends and marketing techniques to get your music in front of as many eyes as possible is necessary. Our manager helps us a lot in that regard. You could have the best music in the world, but if people can’t find or easily access it, it might be difficult to make a living off of it (which is totally cool too).
TuneCore helped us tremendously by making it incredibly simple to get our music on major online music stores. Our fans helped the songs skyrocket in the charts, which led to a plethora of new people finding and sharing our music. Making money from the downloads was never the goal—we wanted to put ourselves in front of people whose main source of getting music was through online stores. We had no idea just how viral that could be as well.
What are some of the challenges you faced early on, and what (or who) helped you get past those?
When we started, the internet wasn’t as saturated as it is now with new music, producers and publications. Getting your name recognized isn’t as easy as just sending your music to a blog and hoping it will catch fire. We put a lot of time into building relationships with our fans and with blogs. One meaningful and lasting connection can make all the difference. We were initially successful mainly due to a lot of word of mouth from loyal fans, which led to constant touring. It’s been a snow ball effect ever since.
So what can fans look forward to next?
Currently, we’re locked away making new music. Expect it within 2-3 months. We’re also working on our new live show and getting everything ready to announce our tour.