The secret’s out. What started as a small gathering meant primarily for musicians to share their work and ideas with one another is now a full-blown monthly series showcasing some of the best local bands operating within the genres of experimental, psychedelic, shoegaze, stoner, ambient, noise and post-rock.
The monthly concert series, called the Secret Museum of Sound and Nature (SMOSAN) will be marking its one year of existence this Thursday, April 24 at Le Cagibi. Over the past year, the series has played host to boundary-pushing bands, including Dam Ships, UUBBUURRUU, Atsuko Chiba, El Salvador, The Walls are Blonde, Smokes, Silver Dapple and so many more.
When SMOSAN founder and main organizer Jim Demos started the series, he envisioned a collaborative space where music makers and lovers alike could discuss each other’s work with a big emphasis on the community aspect of the whole thing.
“In the music scene [in Montreal], as good as it is, I felt it would be nice to have one kind of place,” Demos said, “people would eventually get together and watch each other’s music being made and perform. People can talk about ideas, get things going. Even if they don’t come through, even if they never pan out, it’s just a good idea to get people talking.”
What really sets this series apart from others is the presence of some phenomenally good-quality live visuals provided by renowned VJs Zef and Santoz, who also perform together under the moniker Zef&Santoz. Together, they recently performed with Ghyslain Poirier at the Jutra awards after-party at the Société des Arts Technologiques [SAT]. They’ve also provided visuals individually and collectively for Igloofest, MUTEK and for Montreal electronic music duo Beat Market.
Providing a strong visual element, according to Demos, is a major part of the series’ raison d’être.
“Most of the bands who play the series are very underground,” he said. “it can be hard to get gigs that are a little more serious, have the visuals and have a really great spectacle. The bands that are just starting out, who maybe don’t have the resources, it gives them that opportunity.”
As someone who makes music for more than one project, Demos knows all about wanting to create that perfect atmosphere in a live music setting. He’s taking the opportunity this Thursday to perform some new music with composer Alex Janusz as Golden Tombs. He described Golden Tombs as in the same vein as his solo project Hellenica but more focused and meticulously structured.
“I never usually play gigs at the series because I run it. So I feel a little weird about it but I figured for the anniversary, it was ok,” Demos said.
Golden Tombs is a reincarnation of sorts of Janusz’s and Demos’ band The Dead Letters and Thursday they’ll play their first gig. They have a full record in the works, something Demos is really excited about since the project was “a huge undertaking” due to one member living in Winnipeg.
“We changed the name because we wanted a fresh start, we hadn’t done anything in a while and it felt like the right thing to do,” Demos said. “Plus there are like 30 000 bands called The Dead Letters around the world and new ones pop up every year [laughs].”
Golden Tombs will be followed by Montreal shoegaze nostalgia trip Femme Accident and avant-garde electro-rhythm quintet Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche, two bands that have been making waves in the underground music scene. Femme Accident has played POP Montreal and Montreal Psych Fest and will be playing at Canadian Music Week in Toronto in May. Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche have performed at Suoni Per Il Popolo and M for Montreal.
Booking quality live acts and providing stunning visuals has built SMOSAN’s reputation and the series’ popularity has experienced a healthy, steady growth in the past year. But Demos is not concerned with numbers nor with the competitiveness that can come with putting on shows in a city as bustling as this one.
“If you have a series or if you do shows or stuff like that [in Montreal], there’s so much going on that it takes time for people to remember that something is going on and to put in the time to follow and find out about the next one,” he said. “We’ll probably be good at Le Cagibi for a while.”
The Secret Museum of Sound and Nature one-year anniversary party takes place Thursday, April 24 at Le Cagibi (5490 boul. Saint-Laurent). The show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets cost $8 at the door.
Photo by Jessica Hébert for SMOSAN.