By Torie Beram (Interview by Ali Lopez)
Victoria BC, beautiful, relaxed, good coffee, temperate, gentrified, unaffordable. Basically Victoria is a picturesque yet difficult place to be a young musician (with good coffee). “It’s been a constant problem for Babysitter for like a year now, of [not having a space] where can we just practice or record, or make music” says Kristian, lead singer and guitarist of Victoria’s longhaired and loud Babysitter, a band that anyone who has been around the music scene here knows about. The quick pace of gentrification and rising prices in the city is something that most young people here also know about, and its’ effect on local music is surprisingly large. “It’s just gonna take like one group of kids who don’t mind destroying their tenant history” adds bass player Andy, “every year there’s less divey houses that you can rent and live at and jam at. Houses are being subdivided into like basement suites, you know, you just can’t rent a whole house anymore. A lot of the places that people I know rented got demolished afterwards and now they’re just completely gone or its just been renovated into condos at unaffordable prices.”
This brings to mind The Ramp, a venue that is now just a memory yet one that remains beloved to those who knew it. A small house with a huge amount of character it boasted constant shows and a skateboard ramp in the backyard, hence the name. “When Andy lived at The Ramp we put out a new tape every month or whatever, and now we just basically can’t afford to jam very often.” Says Kristian, who also adds; “from a homeowners perspective there’s just not a lot of reason to rent it out to young people in Victoria.” A depressing thought, especially since this city has a huge amount of young people, students and otherwise, full of creative potential and aching for something to happen. “There seems to be two-year-off, two-year-on periods with Victoria. And I feel like we’ve been on a two-year-off period for two years, so I’m hoping maybe that there’s like an on period pretty soon” says Kristian, adding a glimmer of hope to the difficulties faced by our musicians. “It is a thing we’ve lived with and it’s kind of hard to complain you know? It’s like, ‘I don’t have the convenience of jamming all the time,’ it’s a lame complaint so whatever” adds Andy.
Pessimistic tendencies aside, Babysitter are actually killing it. The shows they play are well attended and quintessentially them, and they show few signs of slowing down. Kristian explains, “We’ve just finished a new tape with [Montreal’s] JLK that I think we’re gonna put out this week. And she’s coming here and we’re gonna go on a West Coast tour with her. We’re going to California, we’re going as far south as Long Beach, and we’re gonna try and go to this place, Slab City, which is like a large libertarian squat and play there. That’s the final destination.” (By the time this goes to print they will have gone and come back). The aforementioned tape is a follow-up to their last release 666 and their full-length record Eye, released through Psychedelic Handshake records based in Montreal. The up-and-coming tape promises the usual: abrasive, thrashing guitar tones but with some subtle artistic nuances thrown in. Following the tour Babysitter plans on returning to our fair city to hibernate over the winter, harnessing their creativity in order to come out in full force once the cherry trees begin to blossom. “Doing so much travelling you find so many ideas, but it’s hard to creatively execute those because you’re living in a van and things happening so fast. You’re just driving, drinking beer so, yeah. I’m looking forward the winter as being a creative productive time,” says Andy. “I would definitely agree with that comment,” adds Kristian. “I think we’ll be pretty much staying put until March or April and then we’ll go on tour again.”
So here’s to a productive winter, and hopefully when the rain stops in the New Year and the spring sun greets Babysitter, the fabled ‘two-year-off-period’ will have come to an end in this beautiful, expensive and temperate place we call home.
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