Vancouver curator, Mikala Taylor has got to be one of the coolest people this city has to offer. If you are looking to find the best live music venues, rock tales and after show info in Vancouver Mikala is definitely the one to follow. And lucky for us, she crafted up two amazing local guides to show us where we too, can hang with the band.
This week, we caught up with Mikala to find out more about her site, Backstagerider and what inspired her to curate her Where the Bands Booze Guide on Urbandig:
When did you start backstagerider and why?
I launched BSR in December, 2010 as a reaction to being an underpaid freelancer for so many years. My theory was that if I was being poorly paid to write in a prescribed voice, format or tone for someone else, I might as well be poorly paid to do things exactly the way I wanted, in my own voice and style. My favourite music tends to be alternative, indie rock, techno/electro and skewed pop – so the content on BSR reflects my passion and deep curiousity for this.
BackstageRider is about integrity: I don’t compromise on crappy advertising, or profile bands that I’m not at least curious about. It’s about my own personal stories and experiences, and unique features as well as live reviews, because I’m a total gig obsessive.
There are plenty of local blogs/media covering local bands, which is great. There’s nothing I love more than a community of music lovers. But my fascination lies with the PEOPLE who make the music. I like to think that I get along well with a lot of band types, because I know and understand their realities. Rather than do straight reviews, I like to put a spin on things like: what was the audience like? The vibe on stage? The chemistry of the band? The conversations before or afterwards? The larger context of a buzz band? I also like to inject a bit of humour.
BackstageRider is also, more or less…me. I work with photogs sometimes but generally I do all the writing, the photography, the organization, the production and the promotion. I live on Twitter and Facebook and I love connecting with passionate music fans there. This is not about starting a big magazine, it’s about being creative and giving an outlet to my passions and connecting with other passionate people.
Where did your passion for music and live bands come from?
I wrote my first album review when I was 12 years old and cannot remember a time when I wasn’t singularly focused on becoming a music writer. At my alternative high school in Toronto, my classes were even interrupted by the secretary asking me to come to the phone because a record label wanted to confirm a band interview I was doing. My work for a student newspaper went towards my credits. By the time I applied for university, I had an enormous portfolio. I interviewed my first US bands when I was 17. I subscribe to the motto: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And what’s the worst that can happen? People can say no to your requests. But what if they say yes…?
Any cool band stories?
Oh gods, where to start?
Cornering Steve Earle for an unarranged interview when I was 17 and he was a biker druggie, sitting down to chat not once but twice with John Taylor (my idol) from Duran Duran, seeing and hanging out with so many incredible UK bands on their first Canadian tours in the 90s (Blur, Oasis, Verve etc), partying with the Manic Street Preachers (before the disappearance of their revered guitarist and figurehead) in Denmark and on and on…
Recently? Hanging out backstage with the Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters and having an EPIC time with Flaming Lips, being on tour in Germany and the West Coast with Sebadoh and sharing a tour bus trip with Henry Rollins and Dinosaur Jr. One of the most remarkable experiences just happened in January: I spent four days on a massive Cruise ship with 15 bands (5 of which I knew personally) on the Weezer Cruise. It was an experience unlike any other and I’m currently writing up my visual diaries of it for BackstageRider but I’ve also covered it for the NME in London, England and Consequence of Sound in New York/Chicago. Also awesome? Meeting and befriending so many amazing local bands here in Vancouver.
What are your top 3 cities for live music/hanging out with bands?
- Vancouver: Naturally I feel at home in Vancouver because I know the venues, the promoters, and see the same fans at shows, but we often get robbed on the hang outs with bands, because they tend to hightail it back to Seattle after a show and overnight in Bellingham. But I suppose that doesn’t count.
- Seattle’s great as it’s a quick jump over the border, and I’ve now got some cool music fanatic friends down there.
- In London or New York there’s always something going on every night (oh I miss NYC but I get back to London fairly regularly). But I try to go to gigs in every city I visit, even if I’m out for a work conference!
You mentioned you collaborated with some bands on your Where Bands Booze guide. Do tell…
Yes! I approached many of the folks that I consider the top musicians in Vancouver, and who represent a variety of types of music in the city. The chanteuse Jill Barber, the most amazing folkie (and mega rising star) Dan Mangan, the scruffy mountain man Steve McBean from BlackMountain/Pink Mountaintops, my garage rock heroine Maya from The Pack AD, my fave performer Devon Lougheed (who plays in THREE local bands including Beekeeper) and Isabelle from one of my fave quirky alt-electro-pop bands Sex With Strangers (she’s also in Guilty About Girls and Combine the Victorious) all said yes. The result is a truly bonkers tour of a variety of Vancouver drinking establishments, from legions to dive bars to trendy spots. I also asked Bryan Adams, Tegan & Sara and the Japandroids… but they were busy. And I am informed that Bryan isn’t drinking much anymore.
Download Urbandig and let Mikala guide you to the best live venues in Vancouver. For more great stories, read her amazing blog, check out her Facebook Page and follow her on Twitter.