Updated: Dec 26, 2020
by Mark Allard-Will
- Moose Jaw's own Johnny 2 Fingers poses at Ness Creek Music Festival
Let’s cast our eyes south for a moment. No, not to the United States, but to Moose Jaw in our very own Saskatchewan. A city best known for its Victorian era buildings and its historical tunnels that, today, are the city’s most prominent tourist attraction. In recent memory, Canadian rock icon Burton Cummings chose to relocate to Moose Jaw; but you’d be hard pressed to think of iconic music from Saskatchewan’s oldest city.
You’d be wrong and happily so, as it turns out that Moose Jaw has one of Saskatchewan’s most thriving recording studios and a plethora of acts from varying genres from homegrown Canadian Hip Hop to Rock.
2020 has seen Moose Javian acts such as UMXY and Nicholas Hennink release either new albums or new digital singles with the aid of the city’s Nebulus Entertainment, both for recording at their studio and film production for music videos.
UMXY, a Hip Hop duo, released their third album, Purple Pill, in June and it’s a release that’s as unique as Moose Jaw itself and as hard to define as the Canadian national identity. Featuring a catchy, rhythmic electronic backing that’s not quite slow enough to be considered Drone, but not fast enough to be labelled Electronica, Techno or Dubstep. The deep, rich vocals are neither slow nor quiet enough to be drawn in to the Mumble Rap moniker that includes Torontonian Drake, yet not a traditionally fast or cantered Rap. It’s a terrifically catchy album that has to be heard to be believed and you can hear it for yourself, as Purple Pill is available now on all major digital platforms.
Also in summer of 2020, fellow Moose Javian and Rock artist, Nicholas Hennink, released his single I Am Strong on Spotify and Apple Music. The single’s release was marked by the debut of a glossy music video shot, at least in part, at the city’s metal scrapyard Finders Keepers; a video which was released to support and encourage positive mental health and discussion surrounding addictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicholas, who himself is not just a Paramedic but has been named Paramedic of the Year by the Paramedic Association of Canada, performs both musically and vocally in a style reminiscent of arena Rock singers with emotive hooks and catchy choruses that are best described as anthemic.
Speaking of the eclectic and varied slate of musicians that make up the city’s musical backbone that he’s worked with, Jared Robinson of Nebulus Entertainment stated: “As someone who has lived in Moose Jaw for over twenty years, I’ve marvelled at the variance of musical influence here. Where a select number of genres can be identified as “that prairie sound”, I’m fortunate enough to hear those, plus projects influenced by music from across the globe. I consider myself fortunate to be part of such a diverse industry.”
The music scene in Moose Jaw is rounded out with unique tweaks on what Jared Robinson describes as “that prairie sound” with the trio Johnny 2 Fingers & The Deformities, an act that takes that deep, bassy Saskatchewan sound of a psychedelic Doom Rock, often fused with minor hints of Country, and merges it with elements of Blues to create a sound as uniquely Saskatchewan as grid roads, Bunnyhugs and Vi-Co.
So, next time you think of Moose Jaw, perhaps you’ll think of its fabulous melting pot of homegrown music and artists and not just its protected buildings, storied history with Saskatchewan’s prohibition and its tunnels.
- photos courtesy of Deanna Roos and Contingent Colours Photography