IT’S NO SECRET Ottawa is home to some wicked artistic talent, but what’s often said to be lacking is a culture that celebrates and promotes talent. Enter Vinyl Tap, a local music and arts collective founded in 2003. While Vinyl Tap releases albums, founder and manager Devin Atherton explains the collective is different from most record labels.
“It’s more of a co-operative in that any artist that sells a record through Vinyl Tap gets 100 per cent of the money that’s made,” says Atherton in an interview with the Fulcrum. “That being said, Vinyl Tap doesn’t really put that much by the way of money into the [record’s production] generally.”
Instead of solely producing and selling music, Vinyl Tap focuses on creating a support base for local talent and promoting their work.
“There’s no contracts, no signing on the dotted line—it’s just a bunch of artists getting together with some promotion behind it,” explains Atherton. “So on top of being musicians, there’s also a lot of street artists and visual artists. A lot of times at art shows you’ll see musicians performing, as well as live painting on canvases.”
Along with furthering Ottawa’s arts scene through Vinyl Tap, Atherton currently co-hosts Cypher on CHUO radio and hosts his own online artist interview show, Freestyles Thursday, on Athertontv.com.
“It’s into its second year now,” says Atherton about Freestyle Thursdays. “I do about 16 episodes each season. It’s kind of comedy meets music. My manager describes it as Between Two Ferns meets Rap City.”
Atherton also spends his time creating music and has released two successful collaborative albums so far: A Different Way of Doing the Same Old Thing with Sire in 2006, and The Leathers with PBrain in 2010. Atherton is now building up to the release of his third full-length and first solo LP, No Threat, which is due to drop May 19.
“It’s been about five or six years in the making,” says Atherton. “I started it actually before The Leathers record and then my computer crashed, so I had to reformulate everything and kind of start again from scratch.”
No Threat will be Atherton’s first record that features mainly his own beats and a lot of instrumental support.
“The first two records were a lot of sample beats, those were produced by other people,” explains Atherton. “This is the first record where it’s music I’ve created myself. On this new record I have a lot of session musicians come on, so I have flutes, I have sax, I have guitar, mandolin, banjo—just a wide array of sounds and a lot of synths as well. I like the idea of having additional musicians.”
Not satisfied with his current success, Atherton stated his future goals for himself and Vinyl Tap will continue growing.
“From here, we take over the globe and get the rest of the world interested in Ottawa musicianship.”
Cypher airs on CHUO 89.1 FM Friday nights 9–11. Vinyl Tap can be found online at Vinyltap.ca, while AthertonTV is online available at Athertontv.com.