How Bass Coast Is Keeping Underground Music Labels Alive

By: Hollie McGowan

Heart To Heart Photo by Valerie Legere

Merritt, BC
July 7-10

Over the past nine years, Bass Coast Electronic Music and Arts Festival has risen to a level of international notoriety beyond its humble beginnings as a tiny underground event just off of the West Coast of BC. Yet despite its success, the annual summer outdoor gathering has continued to support underground labels and artist collectives both locally and internationally.

This year the festival shed ample light on these groups by allocating lengthy slots for each collective to showcase their sound not just as individuals, but as cohesive crews. Included in this wide representation were labels and collectives such a Heart To Heart, Chapel Sound, Critical Music, SHAHdjs, Lighta Sound, and Pacific Rhythm. “This is the biggest showcase we get,” shares SHAHdjs member, Willisist. “Every year, Bass Coast is THE gig. For the last month or two [leading up to the festival], it’s kind of all you [can] think about when you’re doing music stuff.”

SHAHdjs Photo by Valerie Legere

At Bass Coast, supporting the local community has always been one of the main objectives. Collectives from across BC and Alberta give credit to the festival for allowing them to showcase their music alongside headliners from around the world. “Bass Coast does a great job of [maintaining] a small vibe [while continuing to be] a world class event,” mentions Myles Away, also of SHAHdjs. “Different crews and labels that are being featured and getting a proper spotlight by being put on stages [amongst other notable performers]. They don’t book people based on reasons such as numbers of soundcloud followers either; they have some people here [on the line-up] that only have three hundred followers but [are] amazing [producers]. The focus here is on the music, the vibe and what you have in your soul.”

Allowing each group the space and freedom to exhibit their true, authentic selves as artists is another major component of the festival. Performers who have played at Bass Coast Festival report a great amount of acceptance and receptiveness from the organizers when it comes to letting them simply be who they are. “We just get to be us,” boasts Chapel Sound member, Shaunic. “When we play in Vancouver, we’re catering to a crowd. Here we’re just playing for ourselves and if [festival attendees at Bass Coast] feel it, they feel it. It’s very freeing.”

Photo by Valerie Legere

The learning experiences that Bass Coast Festival presents for artists is another major advantage for those who are still newer to the electronic music scene. Being exposed to a variety of talent from different backgrounds has proven to be worthwhile for both attendees and performers. “I’m learning a lot on this trip,” says Wsuptiger of Chapel Sound. “It’s so interesting to hear all these different sounds from all the people we look up to like Lighta Sound.”

“This is where I come to get really inspired by things that I’ve never heard or seen before,” states Bron Wells of Heart To Heart. “It’s important that interesting and eclectic electronic music exists because there’s just too much corporate music out there that is predictable. [For them] it’s a money thing, and [Bass Coast] is not about the money. It’s about real art and people. If you’re truly into [electronic music], you come here.”

Photo by Valerie Legere

Photo by Valerie Legere

Photo by Valerie Legere

Photo by Valerie Legere

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