Calgary’s Music Scene through the Eyes of Young Talent

Calgary has always been viewed as a city with less of an influence on music than others in Canada. This is hardly the case for twenty-four-year-old Cale Zebedee, the bass player for the band Risky Endeavor. He spoke about his experiences in the music industry in Calgary and what music means to him.

“I’ve been in many bands over the years, many not worth any mentioning at all,” says Cale.

Music was always a big part of his life.

“When someone asks me why I love music, it’s hard to explain with words about why I care so much about it.”

“It was countless hours listening to records trying to discover what I liked and who I wanted to be like.”

Cale has been in another band famous in Calgary: Benny Sheers and the Bad Beat. But he had more to share about his current project.

“I’m currently writing with Risky Endeavor: a three piece alternative rock band.” They are known for being three cool dudes having fun playing up beat rock and roll.

The music for Cale is more than just words and lyrics.

“Playing music to me is like a religious experience. It never really lets me down. It is always a creative outlet, even if it were just drifting away in my albums.”

Music has a different meaning for each person. For some, it is purely the beat that keeps them dancing along, or the guitar shredding along at speeds incomprehensible to some. For Cale, it meant the pure raw ferocity of playing live.

“I was probably 15 or 16 when I bought ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana with my allowance. It blew my mind!”

“I had never heard and still have yet to hear such a major top 40 band give such a raw performance,” Cale remembers.

“It takes a special kind of person to tour. It’s not for everybody. I mean so many bands end up breaking up after first or second tours because of how hard it is.”

The best part for him was being on the road touring with his friends.

“But living on the road can get to you. You’re away from all your friends and family.

You’re sleeping entirely in vehicles or on floors, or wherever you can crash.”

But at the same time, he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

“I miss being on the road more than anything. I’ve never felt at home anywhere, so being a vagabond is when I feel best.”

The music in Calgary has gone on unnoticed, even to its own citizens.

“I feel the Calgary music scene is booming in parts and dying in others,” says Cale.

“Calgary is a great place to branch out to other markets. It forces bands/artists to actually explore beyond our city to truly be successful. I find that larger cities trap musicians in their confines,”says Corey Tapp, bass player for the band Torches To Triggers, and formerly of This Is A Standoff.

Musicians aren’t necessarily in the music scene alone. They support their fellow band members as well as the other acts associated throughout the city.

“As a result, the community bands together to promote any style of music,” says Corey.

“We all try and support each other as best as we can by going to each other’s shows, doing promos where we can, and tossing each other on bills (show line-ups),” says Cale.

“One thing that makes me proud to be a musician in Calgary, or Alberta for that matter, is our province’s method (Alberta Foundation for the Arts) and support of the arts,” says Corey.

But why hasn’t Calgary seen a rise and shine like other cities (such as Toronto or Vancouver) who is known for being pioneers of music?

“Calgary will first and foremost always be an oil city and that’s what Alberta is,” Cale explains.

“Opportunities are up to the artist really. The music we make isn’t necessarily known or understood really but we can create our opportunity [here],” says Sean Sinclair, co-creator and MC for the group Chief Navaho.

“There are countless talented people in this city, but people just haven’t seen the light like in places like Vancouver or Toronto,” Cale added.

The way people gain exposure in Calgary is through radio contests.

“Amp 90.3’s Rockstar and X92.9’s Xposure have shown a bit more light on what Calgary really has to offer,” Cale says. “More people should realize that Calgary could easily become a hot spot for music.”

Cale has always supported his local music scene going to shows and being a promoter for many bands.

“I really want to get more into the business side of [music] whether that means becoming a promoter or a bar owner a producer or something along those lines.”

The way musicians survive together is by viewing the music scene as a collaboration of raw talent, instead of having each act being on their own.

“No matter what you project in a band, success or hipster Lo-Fi obscurity, the music is foremost what will sell your band and the rest is quite secondary,” says Corey.

Even when Calgary can’t find solidarity throughout the vast differences in musical taste, each musician can guarantee an influence on the city.

“Lord knows rock and roll won’t pay the bills, but if you’re smart about it you can make music your career,” Cale beckoned.

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