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Pop Drone brings together artists from far and wide for special concert series

Jessica Eritou | Fulcrum Contributor

Photo provided by Gregg Clark

GREGG CLARK, CO-FOUNDER of Ottawa-based record label Pop Drone, says all the artists on his label have only “one degree of separation”—members from every project have performed or recorded together in one way or another since 2002. That’s what makes it so unique.

The collective formed out of unlikely circumstances and sheer coincidences. For example, Clark met label mate Julien Dussault while in Belgium in 2005. Years later, the two actually ended up in the same history class at the University of Ottawa.

“Small world incidents brought this about,” says Clark.

At this point, many of the artists from Pop Drone are all over the map—Ottawa, Boston, Texas, Toronto, and more. But Clark says his ultimate goal is to have every artist in one room playing at the same time.

Pop Drone will do just that as it hosts a brand-new series of concerts that will kick off Feb. 1 at Café Alt and run throughout the semester.

The first show of the series will feature Yuri Bakker, Organ Eyes, Camp Radio, and Winchester Warm. Drinks will be cheaply priced at $3.50 due to a deal between Pop Drone and local family-owned brewery Kichesippi Beer.

Bakker, a classically trained New York-based Dutch solo artist and one half of the electronic group Dialoog, remarks on the communal atmosphere of the label.
“Pop Drone is a very close-knit community,” says Bakker. “They support me for what I’m doing. I have faith in what they do for the label.”

Artists help out however they can. Pascal Huot works at Café Alt, plays in the Ottawa-based Pop Drone band Pony Girl, and does design work for the label. Isaac Vallentin (Josef Pollock, Pony Girl) also designs some of the artwork involved, while Bakker arranges string parts for some of the other bands.

“Everyone in the label contributes,” says Clark. “Everyone’s creating opportunities for each other.”

Clark worked at Café Alt during his entire undergraduate program and has seen its progression over the years. Currently, nine out of its 12 staff members are involved with Pop Drone. Most of the artists in the concert series have a special tie to the venue.

Naturally, Clark and the rest of the Pop Drone community are excited to have the concert series held on campus. He explains that the people are a big part of what makes it special. Given its location, the café has a rather unique clientele—fine art, language, and history students along with geologists and professors are a few of the regulars that frequent Café Alt.

“People spend Monday to Friday here, and more than half the customers come at least once a week,” says Clark.

The space is also a big selling point.

“We flip it entirely at night,” Clark says, “We’ve been reaching out to visual artists to commission light fixtures. We’d like to offer something you haven’t seen.”

Finally, the location plays a key role. The main attribute of Simard Hall, where Café Alt is located, is that the venue is surrounded by empty buildings at night, and the artists can make as much racket as they please without noise complaints.

The concert series will run throughout the semester, with shows set for Feb. 14, March 15 and 22, and additional dates being added along the way.

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