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Witchpolice is a digital audio archive of Lost Winnipeg

Monday 06th, April 2015 / 02:59
By Julijana Capone

witchpolice_webCALGARY — There are garbage bags full of cassette tapes just waiting to be digitized and shared, and the guys behind Witchpolice are probably some of the only ones willing to do it.

The music blog turned radio podcast, featuring Winnipeg friends and music-makers Sam Thompson and Jon Askholm (both of space punk act the Mouth–Boat), hip-hop weirdo Rob Crooks (also of Magnum K.I.), and recent addition Elliott Walsh (a.k.a. rapper Nestor Wynrush) has developed into an ever-growing archive of local Winnipeg music since its inception in 2009.

It’s possibly one of the only places on the Internet to find oral histories from lost local favourites from the ‘90s, along with free music and interviews from under-the-radar types, and interesting unheardofs.

“The idea behind the podcast is not to go find the most successful bands and get hits,” says Thompson. “It’s about finding a cool band that’s doing something interesting or an up-and-coming band or a band that we used to love that maybe isn’t getting the respect that they used to have, and putting it out there.”

The podcast, now 120 shows in, usually focuses around a randomly generated weekly theme word, although a few recent episodes have dropped the theme in favour of exploring oral histories from a slew of forgotten acts, such as ska outfit JFK and the Conspirators and seminal hop hop crew Shadez (previously Different Shades of Black).

Shadez, along with DJ Bunny, Frek Sho, Farm Fresh and Mood Ruff are considered to be among those who laid the groundwork for Winnipeg’s early hip-hop scene.

“Shadez was really important to the development of the local rap scene,” says Thompson. “Aside from a couple of videos that have survived on YouTube, there’s really not much out there, which is surprising because at the time they seemed so big.”

With oral histories from Frek Sho and Peanuts & Corn alumnus Farm Fresh in the works, along with further plans to archive and digitize some of the local music put out on tapes that would have otherwise been lost, Thompson says he hopes the site/podcast will influence people to document more of Winnipeg’s music scene.

“Most people don’t have the time, the equipment or the inclination to digitize a tape,” he says. “A lot of that stuff is great and it’s just sitting in basements.”

Visit witchpolice.com for a back catalogue of podcasts, oral histories, music and random Winnipeg weirdness.

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