June 7 2012 – For the 18th straight year, North By Northeast (NXNE) is happening in Toronto from June 11th to the 17th 2012. NXNE is a music festival, conference, and even a film festival all rolled into one. NXNE is the most anticipated summer music event in Canada and aims to bring exposure to Canadian music of all genres and in general to support the Canadian music industry. Over 650 bands and 40 films converge for 7 days in Toronto and put us on the map in terms of large artistic and creative gatherings. Modeled after the fabled South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, we are very pleased that Toronto is hosting NXNE and we are certain that NXNE will grow in both number of attendees and stature in the music industry (much like Toronto’s International Film Festival has). SXSW is plagued by over-commercialization and unless you’re deeply embedded in the industry you can forget about watching the big names. NXNE will also feature large free performances at Yonge-Dundas Square for four nights with the Flaming Lips being the main attraction on June 16.
After we weeded through all the bands bios found here and listened to their music, we were still left with a long list of bands that we were interested in finding out more about. We approached some of our favourite bands to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. Today we set our focus on a band from Windsor named The Blue Stones. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on THE BLUE STONES’ NXNE description reads:
Gritty garage-blues duo who, if doubled in size, would probably sound like Black Keys-style arena-sized rock. As it is, they’re spiky lo-fi alt-ers with a point to prove.
Here is what they had to say to us:
1.Hey The Blue Stones, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?
The Blue Stones: Tarek Jafar is rocking the guitar and lead vocals while Justin Tessier plays the drums and sings back-up occasionally.
2.How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
The Blue Stones: We’ve been friends since grade 9, although we didn’t jam until our second year of University. I guess you can say that’s where we started developing a “sound”. It was nothing too serious, I just had a couple riffs floating around and Justin was itching to hop on the drums for them. We started practicing together more often and created a small but solid repertoire of songs. Before we even thought about adding a bass player, we made a name for ourselves and sought out bookings at local venues. That was about two years ago, and we still don’t have bass. Not because we don’t want it, things are just working out without it.
3.Who are some of your musical influences?
The Blue Stones: Collectively, we draw a lot of influence from Sam Roberts, The Black Keys (it’s hard not to), The White Stripes, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, Rage Against The Machine, Alberta Cross, MuteMath and probably a ton of others that we won’t have time to fit in here.
4.We found you as we were searching through the mountain of artists being featured at the 2012 NXNE. Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them?
The Blue Stones:We reenact “Caddy Shack” word for word before every show for the audience. What else would you want?
In all seriousness, we are VERY passionate about the music we make, and are sticklers about keeping our audiences happy with the presence, tone, and quality of our live material. We may only be two guys up there, but we play like we’re one thousand. We’re planning on busting out all the stops for our NXNE showcase so we hope you don’t miss it!
The Blue Stones
5.What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
The Blue Stones: Tarek “My favourite line is actually from a song we haven’t released yet (although, it’s coming out very soon). From ‘Rolling With The Punches’: ‘Tell the rest of your hungry dogs that I’ve got a new weapon just to rule them all’
Justin “Although the context isn’t the same, I like “We’re only in it for the headrush” from “I’m A Stereo”. When we sing this line, it’s about our ventures into the music industry and getting up on stage and putting your art out to people you don’t know… it can all be very stressful but you do it all for the great feeling you get from it.
6.What does the rest of 2012 and 2013 hold for you?
The Blue Stones:We are soon releasing a record that we’re VERY excited about. We’ve given it the effort and attention it deserves in order to create material that we’re confident in sharing with our listeners (and hopefully to new ones!). That’ll be out closer to the end of the summer. In the meantime we’ve started to break out of our hometown shell; playing shows all over Ontario in order to garner a little more attention from the national spotlight (although playing only Ontario is FAR from ‘national’, it definitely helps). We’re so happy to be playing these fantastic music festivals in Toronto, and even to finally be playing Toronto on a regular basis. I guess we’ll have to keep spreading our music as best we can and hope more and more people tune in.
7.Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig.
The Blue Stones:Tarek – Well, let’s see. I mean I would say Led Zeppelin but what’s the point, it’s fucking Zeppelin. Openers are forgotten by the first nasty Page riff. I always thought it would be cool to open for Elvis. Let’s face it, women loved him, he had insane stage presence, and he was a solid on-stage dresser. I think at the end of it all I’d be the happiest opening for Hendrix, especially when he played with Clapton in the UK. Our music would be an excellent fit to his style, he’s a legend, and I’m pretty sure he hopped on stage with a bunch of his opening bands back in the day, so that would have been a treat. Currently? I’d love to be on a worldwide tour with Pearl Jam or The Foo Fighters. They seem like great guys, and their concerts are incredible.
Justin – I’d love to tour around with Jack White in any of his groups, be it The White Stripes, The Dead Weather or now with his solo act. He seems like such an interesting guy, and has that impossible-to-teach talent of being a quality entertainer and artist. You can tell he’s so passionate about his work, and it would be awesome to have the opportunity to spend some time travelling with him, to see what little things you could be fortunate enough to pick up on to add to your own repertoire.
The Blue Stones
8.What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists?
The Blue Stones: The future of the music industry is scary. It’s so accessible. EVERYONE can make music now and share it with the world at the touch of a button. I think the idea of releasing an album every few years is dying out. Bands will start to release more music, more often, and in small doses (6 or 7 song collections versus 12-14 song albums). As long as you have access to a computer, and the internet, the economics of releasing your music are definitely feasible. It’s good in the sense that there’s loads of untapped talent out there restricted by money or opportunity limitations, but let’s hope that people still think of music as an art and not as a quick way to make some cash cough* cough* (insert billboard top ten name here) cough* cough*
9.Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere?
The Blue Stones: Our music is currently on iTunes, at HMV (both online and in-store), and available through our websites (linked below) and youtube channels. Our CD is also being sold at some awesome local record shops here in Windsor, so if you’re ever down you should check them out!
10.At the end of 2011 we did our picks for top 10 albums of 2011. What album do you think we should include in our top 10 albums of 2012 article?
The Blue Stones: ‘Blunderbuss’ by Jack White. That album is killer. He was hesitant about embarking on a solo career, but he settles into it beautifully with this album, and still shows everyone he kicks ass.
The Blue Stones
11.Any closing remarks for our readers?
The Blue Stones: Just want to thank everyone who’s supported us thus far, and to thank NXNE for having us play in their festival. Thanks to you folks at TMAK world for giving us a nice sit-down chat. To all you readers out there, we hope to see you at our showcase at The Sister! We won’t let you down!
Thanks so much to The Blue Stones. We hope that you can see them live. They are playing The Sister @ 10:50 PM on Friday June 15th for NXNE. The band’s website is here and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube.