Wednesday 04th, September 2013 / 06:00
Laina Dawes

Laina Dawes


While many Noctis goers will be attending the festival for the insanely stacked lineup, the conference and expo portions of the fest give headbangers a reason to battle through their hangovers and catch some informative, provocative and overall entertaining content from scholars, musicians and industry folk of all forms.

Though many speakers at the conference hail from the United States and beyond, the majority are Canadian and therefore provide insight from a local or national perspective. One such example is Toronto-based Laina Dawes, author of What are You Doing Here – A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal.

“What I like to do when speaking to Canadian audiences is talk about the issues of how racial identity is shaped by musical preference from a Canadian context,” Dawes elaborates. “The history of how African Canadians came to Canada is vastly different from African Americans and because of that, our relationship to music is different.”

Dawes, of course, focuses on the racial tension that rises in a scene with a disproportionately large white and male population, stating “when there ceases to be [this] problem in the metal scene, I’ll stop talking about it.”

However, her work doesn’t simply illuminate the difficulties of minorities in metal, but also the strength extreme music can provide for these groups.

“The book is not focused solely on racism, however, but more on how black women have found liberation within the metal, hardcore and punk scenes… What I found in my research is that black women are just as turned on and passionate about the music as anyone else.”

Another Canadian voice at the conference is Maritimer Josh Hogan, a multi-dimensional musical mind and co-owner of Diminished Fifth Records, as well as Red Tentacle Solutions. Hogan’s presentation is titled “NO ONE OWES YOU SHIT,” and gives bands insight into “just how hard you have to work in this industry for just a chance to ‘make it.’”

Diminished Fifth Records was founded to “shed light on the East Coast metal scene,” while Red Tentacle encompasses a variety of marketing and PR services in order to “free up more time for musicians to do what they do best… create art.” Through work with both of these companies as well as others in his hectic music career, Hogan has developed a pragmatic, if a bit cynical perspective on achieving notoriety in metal, something that could certainly benefit inexperienced bands with dreams of grandeur.

“Bands need five things: to be realistic, to have goals, to be motivated, to be patient and last, but certainly not least, have talent. The better a band understands these things, the better off they’ll be at leveraging their strengths and working on their weaknesses,” Hogan explains.
“Recognition isn’t something that happens overnight but hard work and motivation will almost always pay off to those who really deserve it.”

Hogan, Dawes and a host of other personalities, including documentarian Sam Dunn, drum legend Gene Hoglan, and others, make the Noctis conference a rare treat, well worth attending.
“Having been lucky enough to attend Noctis 3 and 4, I can safely say that it is not only an amazing music festival, but a one of a kind heavy metal conference which brings some of the greatest minds in heavy metal together,” agrees Hogan.

“Calgary and Western Canada should feel very grateful to have such a world class and professionally run event in their neck of the woods,” concludes Hogan.

What better way to show our gratitude than by soaking up as much knowledge as possible from an array of industry greats.

Attend the Noctis Conference on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the Noctis 666: Lucifer Rex festival. It will take place at the Ramada Inn downtown.

By Ian Lemke