Entries for Canada’s biggest online music competition have been made public, and Flin Flon is very well represented.
Four entries with Flin Flon ties are among the thousands of songs entered in this year’s edition of CBC Searchlight. Janève Masson, one of the group of four, entered with an original tune called “Wonderland King”, a song heavy with fantasy and romantic imagery. Masson recorded the track live at Johnny’s Social Club in January.
A pair of area artists are behind the second entry – Evan Zach and Courtney Lycan and their song, “Summertime.” Zach, an electronic musician, created the tune last year with Lycan on vocals. The song was used as the soundtrack to the Dancing Down Main Street event at last fall’s Culture Days.
The third entry comes from the Edmonton-based band Darryl Saves Lives, an indie rock outfit with punk, alternative rock and emo leanings. Bassist Neal Smedegaard was born and raised in Flin Flon before moving to the Alberta capital to study music at Grant MacEwan University.
The final local entry is the song “She” by Kenzie Jane. Originally from southern Manitoba, Kenzie Jane has made several trips to Flin Flon for performances in recent years, including the official release of her latest EP in 2018.
Public voting for CBC Searchlight opened on Feb. 5 and will continue until Feb. 14, with the second round of votes opening on Feb. 20. One hundred artists will move on to the second round, 50 by popular vote and another 50 after internal judging from a CBC judging team.
The winner will be declared by CBC on Mar. 7.
Up for grabs is a placement in the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class, a top-tier music and artist development program where musicians team up with key figures in the Canadian recording industry. Winners also receive performances at industry showcase events; a show at the 2020 Juno Fest and at the CBC Music Festival in Toronto; travel, tickets and a potential performance at the 2020 Juno Awards; and a recording residency at the National Music Centre.
Each of the entries comes with their own story and thoughts from the artists who made them.
“When I hear it on the radio, it makes me want to unroll my car windows and feel a summer breeze. Then I remember it’s 50 below zero,” joked Lycan of “Summertime.”
“You never know what could come of it. At the very least, it’s a great way to get your name out there.”
Smedegaard said his five-member band didn’t need to overthink which song they would submit to this year’s contest. The answer was unanimous.
“We all just kind of knew from the start that we would use this track because it does a very good job at displaying our sound as a whole,” said Smedegaard.
Masson, who entered under just her first name, took influences from 1950s culture and Alice in Wonderland for her entry.
“I was at home one night and I had watched one of those typical ‘30s to ‘60s-era shows where you’ve got the malt shops and the swing clubs and you’re sneaking out after curfew to hang out with these boys your parents don’t approve of. It’s kind of a typical theme in different movies. I was kind of inspired by that era. That’s kind of where that jazzy blues feel came in,” she said.
The Searchlight contest is not new territory for Flin Flon artists. Last year, two songs were entered by musicians from the community. The number entered by CC Trubiak reached the final round of public voting as one of the top-10 entries nationwide.
During his campaign, Trubiak told The Reminder one of his main goals in entering the contest was to motivate other creative people to share their work with the world. It appears that the message was heard. Both Smedegaard and Masson said Trubiak’s entry inspired them to enter.
“I’ve personally been aware of the contest for about a year. I remember learning about it when CC was in it last year. A couple of my bandmates knew about it from previous years as well,” said Smedegaard.
“I did watch some of the musicians from town – CC Trubiak, Mark Kolt and Jen McLean – and voted for them. They did pretty good and I got to know about the competition and figured it was worth a shot,” Masson said.
While the market is crowded for entries, Lycan, Masson and Smedegaard each voiced support for music and arts in Flin Flon, saying the town’s embrace of culture inspired them to pursue music.
“Flin Flon is the New York of the north when it comes to the arts. The amount of talent in this community is almost unbelievable. Having such a supportive community that fosters creativity certainly helps,” said Lycan.
Masson said it shows that Flin Flon has a vibrant music scene with many within it stepping forward in different areas.
“I’m really excited about it. As long as people are getting out and voting for a local talent or seeing a local connection, then you’re supporting Flin Flon. That’s the most important thing,” she said.
Smedegaard grew up in Flin Flon and didn’t know what it was like in other cities for musically creative people like him.
“After learning about what it was like for my friends in school at Edmonton, I was very happy to grow up in Flin Flon,” he said.
“Flin Flon seems to have a ridiculous ratio of people willing to take part in the arts to residents. Even with a population as small as it has, it produces so many interesting acts and talented people, which I think is due to the support group that small towns tend to create.”