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Indie music, Vancouver-style with Amanda Ash

Article published at GranvilleOnline.ca on June 4, 2010.

By Krista Eide

Amanda Ash isn’t just a music blogger, journalist and wiki builder, she’s also one of local indie music’s biggest fans

I first met Alberta-raised Amanda Ash in a writing class, where she bravely shared an essay about her love of country music, despite her firm fix in the world of indie. A freelance music journalist for numerous local and national publications, she has since completed a Masters in Journalism at UBC, and spent the last nine months helping CBC Radio 3 to build the recently launched Canadian Music Wiki.

On her popular music blog The Indie Files, Amanda covers the Vancouver and Canadian independent music scene, including interviews, and concert and album reviews. With the recent launch of the wiki, and her rising social media profile, she’s fast becoming a Vancouverite worth watching. Here she is in her own lovely words.

Granville: How did you become a music writer?

Amanda Ash: It was kinda by accident. At the University of Alberta in Edmonton I volunteered for the campus newspaper,The Gateway. I was really into theatre, but my editor had me pick up a few music stories. My first music article sucked. I sounded like I should have been writing forTiger Beat. I got better, and music writing slowly became my thing. I’ve played music all my life, so writing about it came naturally to me. I freelanced for free or little money for a long time (i.e., years), to get my byline in as many publications as possible.

I decided to take my writing one step further by pursuing a Masters in Journalism degree at UBC while cultivating a career here in Vancouver. Now I work for CBC Radio 3Exclaim!, The Block and Us Weekly, and I’m a juror for the Polaris Music Prize. I also blog regularly.

What can we find on your blog?

On The Indie Files, I concentrate on interviewing and reviewing local indie musicians. I want to spotlight these wonderful acts and give them a bit of press. I do feature other Canadian indie acts, but I feel my job here on the West Coast is to keep my ears open for emerging Western Canadian bands. I post audio interviews as well as photos, concert and CD reviews, contests and music videos.

What do you love about the Vancouver indie scene?

What I love is that it’s like one giant family. Everyone knows each other; everyone jams with each other; and more importantly, everyone wholeheartedly supports each other. There’s a feeling of comraderie and friendship that pushes and motivates these artists to take their work to new levels.

Vancouver musicians are also incredibly steadfast and self-motivated. They don’t wait for the big city spotlight to bring them recognition on a platter. They will work hard no matter how popular they are! They’re like Bounty paper towels: Crazy durable.

Tell me about the Canadian Music Wiki and how it works.

The Canadian Music Wiki was actually the lovechild of two very clever brains: Steve Pratt, director of CBC Radio 3, and Alfred Hermida, my j-school professor at UBC. Last summer they asked me to head the project because of my music journalism background and my interest in social media.

CBC Radio 3, a digital radio station, is a pioneer in integrating collaborative technologies into its daily operations. A Canadian Music Wiki was another way of experimenting with social media. We received public funding for the project last September, and May 21, the site went live.

The wiki allows anyone to create pages or edit information on anything related to Canadian music. It’s a hub for Canadian music, where the community can engage each other around a niche topic to create an online knowledge repository similar to Wikipedia.

Feel free to add your Canadian music knowledge to the wiki: www.canadianmusicwiki.ca.

Who was your favourite interview?

Oh gosh… I don’t know if I can name just one! I had a lot of fun interviewing Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas for May’s Exclaim! cover story. Tegan and Sara are a riot. They’re so witty. Jenn Grant and Amy Millan also crack me up. I interviewed Basia Bulat last year and our conversation was over an hour long. We talked about English Lit and the Bronte sisters for way too long!

Best Vancouver venues?

The Biltmore Cabaret is my favourite. I practically live there. The sexy red velvet seats get me every time. However, I also enjoy a good show at The Railway Club or The Media Club.

Your dream festival lineup?

Joan Jett, Fleetwood Mac, The XX, Justin Rutledge, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Shad, Team Canada DJs, Hannah Georgas, Dan Mangan, Fan Death, Frances May, Basia Bulat, Tegan and Sara, Great Lake Swimmers, You Say Party! We Say Die!, The Racoons, Rae Spoon, Black Mountain, Lightning Dust, Char2d2, Billy the Kid. And special surprise performances from Lady Gaga and Beyonce!

What’s next for you?

Work! My plan is to continue freelancing here in Vancouver. I’m in love with this city. I don’t plan on leaving any time soon.

Amanda’s top local listens

Hannah Georgas
I’m absolutely addicted to Hannah Georgas. She writes the juiciest pop songs and is incredibly versatile: one minute she’s singing serenely, swaying with her guitar, the next she lets loose a flurry of high kicks. Oh, and her full-length debut This Is Goodis, well, really good.

The Pack A.D.
The Pack A.D. gives me chills every time. There’s something about their gritty, bluesy rock that makes you want to tear off your clothes and stomp around in a pool of your own sweat. I’ve had the duo’s new album We Kill Computers on repeat for a while now.

Dan Mangan
Oh, Dan Mangan. What a sweetheart! The singer-songwriter makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. His voice is growly and seductive and his songs are  irresistible. If his album Nice, Nice, Very Nice isn’t in regular rotation on your iPod, you should remedy that situation!

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    Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

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