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Interview with Bones (Marc Xavier LeBlanc)













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Bones (aka BonesPOP, aka Marc Xavier LeBlanc) has been a key figure in the Moncton music scene for many years now.  He is the host of the great radio show La Photo Sonore, and has been DJing at various gigs in the Hub City and throughout the east coast for quite some time.  He has a definite interest in independent electronic music, and is the organizer of "Studio Lab Sessions", a frequent gathering of electronic artists, DJs and producers in the Moncton area.  I recently caught up with this passionate and creative man and asked him a few questions about the state of indie electronic music in the Hub City and beyond.

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photo by Sasha Onyshchenko(Kravetz Photographics) design by Dillon Turpin.
















 
1.  What types of music do you play on your radio show?
La Photo Sonore (CKUM 93.5fm, Université de Moncton). Well my radio show playlists have evolved throughout the years.  I try and feature all types of interesting music from pop rock, indie pop, folk, electronic, electro pop, new wave, chill wave, etc... however recently I've been more leaning and concentrating more towards the electronic music realm… be it electro, electro pop, left field pop, ambient, slow wave, chill wave, experimental and a lot of east coast Canadian content. I try to feature a LOT of up and coming talent and give a voice to bands that wouldn't get regular radio airplay anywhere else.   I also tend to look in at the regional music scene while featuring a mixture of outside music from all over the world. I also try and have acts come and play live and interview on my show once in a while too to mix things up. 

La Photo Sonore on facebook:

CKUM website: http://ckum.ca/

2.  How would you describe the music scene in Moncton?
The music scene in Moncton has always been a roller coaster ride or in flux.  At one point there was a HUGE really vibrant scene when you think of the  90's scene with Eric's Trip, Idée Du Nord, Monoxides, The Peter Parkers, Test Tone Channel and other east coast acts all wanting to play Moncton cause there was such a great scene here but it was more indie rock, punk and metal. It's known for it's harder edges or less polished sound. There were always exceptions though  with acts in the scene that were a bit more polished and had move vision to get out of Moncton.  A lot of Moncton bands have the same members who play in different bands… it's like band members swap.   

For a while the scene seemed in a bit of a slump but there has always been a steady stream of music being released… just sometimes it was a bit slower than others.  Lots of cool venues closed down and it was more difficult to organize all ages shows or just shows in general.  Shows at The Centre Culturel Aberdeen weren't as often with the renovations to the building and also key people who were booking and organizing a lot of the cool shows had moved on to other things.  A few key people really made a difference in the underground scene. People like Ken Kelley who were putting on shows at the Esquire and Magic Cone Productions(guys from Idée du Nord) as well as Marc Poirier(aka Joseph Edgar)  or Mario Doucette who was putting on really great shows when he was director at la Galerie Sans Nom… they were all putting on amazing shows at le Centre Culturel Aberdeen.  There are so many cool venues that have closed down: Le Kacho, Au Deuxième, Café Aberdeen, The Paramount. 

Lately the scene seems to be on an upswing… bands are really focusing on trying to organize more shows even though good stable venues are few and far between.   Some people are taking things into their own hands and putting on shows again. Either house shows or smaller intimate art shows.  Venues like Tide & Boar (Tide and Boar Ballroom), The Esquire has had a resurgence in punk and rock shows, Spin It Records are putting on all ages shows once in a while or Re:Flux sound art festival organized by La Galerie Sans Nom. 

For me i've been really trying to push the electronic music scene and try to kick start things.  Things seem to be moving forward but it's always an up hill battle but being in the scene for so long i'm in it for the long haul. It's what i'm passionate about so as long as there are cool artists and bands making cool and interesting music I'll be supporting them, promoting them and helping them all the way. 

3.  Do you make your own electronic music?  What gear do you use?
I've been more or a supporter in the scene but have always dabbled in experimenting with music in one way or another with projects like 'air du son' or 'My Lost Era'.  I collected a lot of gear throughout the years but being the kind of person who is an outgoing introvert personality it's always been a challenge for me to get my own music out there and meet people with similar music sensibilities.  I've used different gear for different projects.  My own projects which were very DIY and lo-fi in the early days where I was recording everything on 4-track recorders. I used my first analog synth the ARP Axxe I bought with my own money… I've always loved that synth… it's wonky and particular and changes sounds depending on the temperature of the room it seems.  My Roland JX-3P or JX-8P, Korg Poly 61 or my ARP Pro-dgx.  I also have an interesting collection of old Casio and Yamaha keyboards. I love effects like my Yamaha Analog Delay unit or my classic BOSS Digital Delay DD-3 pedal. I've recently added some really cool new components like a home made 8 step sequencer Robert Patey (Outhouse Phantom) built for me or my MOOG Sub Phatty analog synth or a bunch of smaller electronic gadgets and all my old Casio, Yamaha collection of keyboards I love playing with.  I also have a few old drum machines that always need cleaning or to be fixed which I used quite a bit. Lately I was part of an experimental electronic music duo called 'air du son' and we played a few shows in some odd settings like two sets in a Moncton city bus during the Re:Flux festival or we played a few performances live on CKUM or during a house supper organized at La Patente Archibald.    I've also had many obscure aliases when it comes to electronic music be it Phase 4 Phonic, iFound Sounds, My Lost Era, Noise Over Nonsense or Casio Men Enssemble.  Recently i've worked with my friend Nick Fowler (In Dreams, The Arka Teks, FWLR) and together we've done some remixes under the name of BONES & FWLR(said Fowler) and he's been my producer for some of my solo stuff as well.   

air du son (expérimental electronic music): air du son play on a bus:  http://vimeo.com/43045620 


4.  Do you know of many electronic acts in the Moncton area?
They seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days…  be it ambient, noise, house, edm, experimental, acid, glitch…  A few have been making music for a while like Paul Goguen(Paranerd) aka The Moncton Acid King(the music style, not the drug). He's been at it for a while and has been quite prolific with his output and he's been gaining good momentum.  We have people like Will(aka Oxygen Fad) who's moved away from Moncton but still making whacked out interesting challenging music. Or even Jay Vasseur which I used to play one of his old music projects on tape(when tape was the in format to release music on).    Outsider Duck is also making music pushing boundaries and styles. There is a whole new slew of acts coming out of Moncton so instead of just naming them… why not check them out for yourselves.  This is a list of most of the bands(with links) who've put out great electronic recordings or who are releasing music now.   The list is taken from my collection of East Coast Electronic acts that i've been compiling for the last few years.  I have almost 300 producers and electronic acts making original electronic music out here on the east coast and these acts all come from or are based out of Moncton:
 
BONES & FWLR: (Moncton & Saint John collaboration): https://soundcloud.com/bonespop/sets/bones-fwlr-remixes
DIAD (Moncton and Washington collaboration): http://ubiktune.bandcamp.com/album/diad
Long Distance Rivals (Moncton/Montreal): https://soundcloud.com/longdistancerivals 
Lukewarm Vapors (vapor wave): http://lukewarmvapors.bandcamp.com/releases 

SEЯGE https://soundcloud.com/maybe-scl


5.  What artists do you really admire?  Who has had an influence on you?
My taste in music and in art is always evolving. I'm forever searching for music and art that pushes boundaries.  I admire any artist that pushes themselves to the limits and is able to think ahead of everyone else.  Artists that were ahead of their times.  That's why I love electronic music cause they are making the music of the future today. If I had to list a few people I really admire, it would be people like Robert Moog… people who created a lot of the instruments and technology and tools that musicians have been using for the last few decades and that are still being used to this day.  Probably my first introduction to electronic music would of been on the TV show 3,2,1 Contact when Suzanna Ciani would talk about Electronic instruments and gadgets. I also remember being intrigued by the Switched On Bach by Walter/Wendy Carlos as well as The In Sounds from Way Out album by Perrey and Kingsley… those are my earliest influences album wise. Or Maurice Martenot who created one of the most expressive electronic line of instruments Les Ondes de Martenot.  Check out the trailer for the documentary called Le chant des ondes: https://www.onf.ca/film/chant_des_ondes/trailer/chant-des-ondes-bande-annonce

As far as music influences, they are pretty eclectic and they range from bands like: Stereolab, Stina Nordenstam, Unrest, Air Miami, Serge Gainsbourg, Pavement, Stone Roses(most of the Manchester scene), Red House Painters, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Komeda, A lot of releases on 4AD Records, Teenbeat Records, North Of No South Records and the indie pop and electronic Scandinavian music scene in general.  I think my aesthetics are still very indie but mixed in with electronic music now.   Also buying my first analog synth at a pawn shop in Moncton many years ago… my cherished ARP Axxe was a big influence in loving electronic music.  My parents also pushed me to be creative… both my mother and my father pushed music and arts on me and enrolled me in everything and anything I wanted to try so they influenced me a lot as well. 
   
6.  What do you think are the biggest challenges facing independent musicians these days?
One thing that is the biggest help is also the biggest challenge for independent musicians. Recording software is so readily available, affordable and almost everyone and anyone with a small budget can have an amazing studio in their home or bedroom making it very easy for anyone to come out with some great sounding tracks.  It's also very easy to get lost in the vastness of the internet for distribution, marketing and promotion of the music.  There is so much music being made now that we're almost drowning in music.  So many music blogs and independent press that everything is watered down and it's harder to find quality music… so much quantity but so little quality or it's harder to find the quality stuff.   What's great about being independent artists is they can do whatever they want but I always tell bands they should focus on making great music they love and know who you're playing for… get to know your market and share the process of your music making and the fans will grow with the you.     

7.  How could the music scene in the maritimes be improved?
 There are a few things that could improve the scene in the maritimes or east coast but one of the main things is if everyone could learn to collaborate more or join forces and share their skills.  I find most of the music scene is electronic, pop, rock, folk… All styles are very segregated and there's not enough musical exchanges or pooling of resources happening. Even in electronic music all the electronic styles have their own small underground scenes.  If the guys making house music would share productions skills and marketing skills with the EDM acts they would double their pool of resources. Imagine if all electronic categories would help each other out it would be AMAZING. A lot of bands just play in their respective cities and don't tour on regular basis and establish a rapport with other like minded people.   Share your knowledge, share your secrets and make the scene better and stop thinking me, me, me and let's think about us, us, us instead. Everyone seems to be doing their thing and not joining forces and not sharing knowledge with each other to benefit everybody and the scene as a whole.  I'll take the example of the electronic music scene on the east coast. There are a few people in each style of music recording and releasing their own music be it house, electro, electro pop, ambient, experimental but there isn't one common place or web site that people can go and network and exchange with other electronic bands. Each city be it Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John, Halifax, Charlottetown, all have small scenes but don't really utilize the full potential of creating true lasting relationships or musical exchanges be it bands, venues, promoters, managers, booking angencies or festivals.  If two festivals would get together and pool their resources and combine their knowledge in my opinion they would prosper and succeed and gain more momentum and a better fan base by sharing information, fans and resources.  

A few other key things that a scene needs: 1. A good studio bands can record in, 2. a good network to share their music, 3. A good concert series(monthly events or showcases on a regular consistent basis, 4. A good festival to showcase and gather and share the great music, 5. better more consistent venues and promoters and finally 5. Way more fan support. These days people are more prone to stay at home and be on social media sites than actually going out and see bands and dj's play.  As I like to say "less likes on facebook and more love in person".  

8.  What other interests do you have besides music?
I have many other interests… the arts scene in general is a big one as well as Photography.  My radio shows l'émission Polychromatique  which I started in 1990 which then became La Photo Sonore in 1999  combined my love of music and the arts.  I'll be celebrating my 25th year of hosting and volunteering my radio show at the end of 2015.  I'm also very passionate about cycling, community sharing.  Having been one of the founding members of the first ever bike co-op in New Brunswick called La Bikery in Moncton, people should check it out: http://labikery.ca/    

I've also collected a lot of things throughout my life be it stamps, pins, buttons, keys, musical instruments, posters, flyers, photos, rocks, sea glass… you name it i've probably collected it. So i'm passionate about lots of actual stuff.  I also LOVE sharing my knowledge with the younger generation by giving them resources that I might not have gotten when I first got started in the music industry.  Share forward! 



9.  Can you think of an album or a song that had a really profound impact on you?
There are so many albums and songs that have impacted my life but if I go way back there is one album called The In Sounds From Way Out by Perrey and Kingley which I discovered in my parents vinyl collection a LONG time ago which can sum up my love of music…  it's kitchy but had some avant-garde sounds too.  They were way ahead of their time and used samples before samplers were even  invented by recording sounds on reel to reel tapes which they spliced together mixed in with electronic sounds like Moog synthethizers .   There is also a song by Stereolab called "Changer" that literally changed the way I listen and play music. Stereolab sing in both French and English and are like no other. Me being bilingual it really left a mark on me linguistically but also stylistically and aesthetically. They had a lot of elements that I loved in music all put together. They make music that sounds simple but has multiple layers and can be quite repetitious and hypnotic.  

Perrey and Kingsley - The In Sounds From Way Out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hU8gVDxmUc 


10.  I understand that you organize gatherings in Moncton for artists and DJs who are into electronic music.  What inspired you to start this?
As I mentioned above I just felt there was something missing to help create a place where like minded people that were into electronic music could meet. When I see nothing is being done I don't complain about it… I like to take action so I started Studio Lab Sessions series.  It's like a labrotory where  dj's, vj's, electronic music producers, remixers or even fans of electronic music can meet and talk about technology, software, hardware, analog and digital synths, gear and the electronic scene in general. I've been compiling a list of as many of the electronic artists as possible on the east coast and there is so much talent that no one knows about. People that are making music in their basement or bedroom and just releasing it online without focus.  There was no communication between electronic artists. Just small pockets of people here and there doing their thing. I thought if I gave them a place to gather and meet each other it would help create a better more communal spirit and give them a place to share their knowledge and just geek out once a month. I get a few people in the music industry to come and share their knowledge and insight at the sessions.  I've met so many talented artists and I wanted them to meet each other in one place so Studio Lab Sessions was born. I started it in January of 2014 and they're gaining momentum with every session. I just wanted people in Moncton to meet and create a shared space to talk about electronic music.  I now have people from Halifax, Charlottetown and Saint John that want to come on a monthly basis. Every session we talk about various things but I also ask two artists to showcase some of their favourite electronic gear so other people can see and hear what they're doing.  These sessions are evolving as we go and i've also introduced a monthly gear swap where artists can bring equipment they don't use and sell and trade it with others. Some people's trash is other people's treasures.  I might even take the sessions on the road and host them in a few key cities.  I also plan on doing actual recording sessions and have monthly artists come and create for a whole month in the space and hopefully release a series of live recordings from it so they can use them in their Electronic Press Kits. 

11.  Please tell us how interested people can learn more about your efforts.  Do you have any websites, bandcamp pages, etc?  Can people outside of Moncton tune in to your radio show?
I'm working on creating a website  that will assemble all my interests but for now people can follow me on different social media and on these sites listed below… some of them are outdated and some of them I still use frequently:

My personal Facebook page that I post most things i'm into or that I organize be it dj events or things I love:

My IPN with BONES monthly dance party events  group (I host all over the east coast): 

Here is my soundcloud link where I post songs I love and my radio show podcasts as well as a bunch of cool playlists of music that I'm into:

Here is a little video that talks about my work in radio and as a DJ: 

Instagram: 


LastFM:

La Photo Sonore (radio show) group on Facebook:

Flickr (lots of my image archives for my IPN with BONES posters and other photos):

A little video that talks about my work in radio and as a dj:

Here is a link to my monthly IPN with BONES dance parties I host all over the east coast which I've featured a lot of east coast talent:

 

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photo of me in my Studio Lab. photo by Robert T. Wilson (2014)
















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