rachel elizabeth

Formerly Known as Fern

"A dream that you'll never want to wake up from."

-Razmataz Magazine

BreakOut West Day One

7:30am: Somewhat frantically finish packing.

I went to the wrong Cosmo centre for election worker training the previous afternoon and ended up having to go in the evening when I had planned to get organized. For those of you who don’t know, Saskatoon has a Cosmo Seniors Centre as well as a Cosmo Civic Centre. One I can easily walk to, the other is an hour and a half bus trip from my place. Guess where I went by mistake?

8:00am: Try to get my hair to look good because I have to get my driver’s license renewed on the way out of town and it’s a new photo year. Bless the goddesses (ALL OF THEM) that it ended up looking really great. :P

8:20am: Drop partner off at work ‘cause he generously let me take the car to Regina for the conference.

8:30am: Coffee, renew driver’s license, hit tha road.

I hit good weather aside from a chilly pocket of fog around Blackstrap, which was ok with me because the hoar frost on the trees was beautiful. I think seeing potentially dangerous road conditions as “beautiful” officially makes me a city kid. I do like highway driving for the most part, though.

11:00am: Experience Reginaaaaaaa.

I rolled straight up to the conference feeling, honestly pretty shaky and gross. I didn’t have the best sleep the night before and was already nervous about going to the conference for the first time. Once I got myself registered, I plopped down in the lobby and scanned the room for familiar faces.

I FOUND NICK FAYE, who I played a show with in Saskatoon earlier this year. So that was comforting. We caught up for a bit, he introduced me to Jon Neher (Orphan Mothers, Nick Faye & the Deputies), then we parted ways before the first workshop.

From here on out, the timeline gets pretty hazy, so I’ll summarize my afternoon. I took in a lot of information provided by everyone from label management to show promoters and booking agents, caught up with a couple fellow artists I hadn’t seen in a while, and took a couple mental health breaks. Burned my tongue sipping tea. Tried to track down a food source. The usual conference things, I suppose??

My biggest apprehension was going to one on one meetings with industry mentors that day. In this particular setting you could pre-book 15 minute meetings with participating delegates to chat about your work, ask questions, and potentially (for some artists) ‘pitch’ your project. I mean, honestly it was a pretty cool opportunity to be able to talk to people with experience who might be able to pass on their wisdom and advice to artists. It also felt like a lot of pressure. With only 15 minutes a meeting you need to be pretty clear + concise or you risk not representing yourself well. There is also no guarantee that you’ll click with the person you’ve booked in to talk to, which makes for a loooong meeting.

If I’m being totally honest, the first couple meetings felt rough. I was stiff and nervous and had a hard time articulating the things I wanted to talk about. By the third meeting I had loosened up a bit. Coincidentally it was with Nathan Stein, an A&R rep for Arts & Crafts.

I SHOULD have been most nervous about this one because I spent a good portion of my early 20s listening to A&C artists like Stars and Broken Social Scene. They’re arguably the most famous indie label in Canada + I’ve definitely fantasized about being represented by them.

By this point though, I was tired + my adrenaline rush was wearing off. I was reminded that my intention going into the conference wasn’t to try to get a big record deal, it was to meet people, talk about my work and take in new experiences. Why worry, right?

So we just chatted about the things I was doing and in what capacity. I’m pretty sure I said I didn’t think I was ready to work with big management/labels yet, which was/is true. He affirmed some of the things I was saying about my long-term plans and when I couldn’t think of more questions to ask we chatted a bit about our local scenes. I think that counts as a win.

It was nice to settle into that. A big part of my ‘artist growth’ over the past few months has been to consider whether or not the things I’m doing are sustainable. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I feel a lot more centered in making decisions. I’ve been working at building things slowly (with help) and I feel good about that. I don’t think that makes me unambitious, but you might have a different opinion and that’s ok.

Maybe this comes across as ‘throwing away an opportunity.’ Maybe he felt like I was wasting his time. 

I don’t know. I do know that I skipped an after-party that night in favour of poutine, Netflix and a good sleep.