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Halifax Jazz Fest – Day 4 – Backward Music!

Of the many, many shows and workshops taking place all day for the Halifax Jazz Festival, there will be an exceptional cornucopia of sound at The Peggy Corkum Music Room (8pm). Forward Music Group is presenting its experimental subsidiary label, Backward Music, comprised of Halifax’s Tim Crabtree, Nova Scotia native Joshua Van Tassel and Brooklyn’s Bing & Ruth. Last night was the first time all three acts shared the same stage (in Riverport NS), and they’ll be riveting crowds again tonight with their fusion of exploratory instrumentals. Arts East recently caught up with Crabtree to find out how Backward Music came together and his excitement to meet Bing & Ruth in the flesh!

Get a taste of the wonderful sounds of Backward Music by visiting the website designed by local artist Daniel Espeset:

How did the concept of Backward Music come to fruition?
TC: Kyle Cunjak of Forward Music has wanted to set up an experimental label for sometime, now. He'd had a lot of success with Forward Music Group (the label has put out releases by Snailhouse, Gypsophilia, the Olympic Symphonium, Gianna Lauren and Paper Beat Scissors to name just a few), but had an itch to set up a label that could be a home for music that didn't quite fit into the Forward stable. Music that was a little more experimental. Last year Kyle and I finally got the thing rolling, and thanks in part to a grant from the province we put together a compilation of music that we were digging ( and that I was making :) ). Kyle has played music with Josh in the past, and was excited to release some of his music, both on the compilation, and to put out Josh's new album which was the second Backward release. I've been working on some more ambient and electronic material, so that made its way onto the comp, too. Finally, I've been a huge fan of New York's Bing and Ruth for the last couple of years, and when Kyle and I were bouncing around ideas of who else to include on this compilation, they were my absolute first choice, and I was elated when they wanted to get on board.
Tim Crabtree

How would you describe the cornucopia of Backward Music styles?
TC: 'Experimental' is probably the best label that we have for what we're doing, as it leaves the door open for a lot of different styles.  The first compilation runs from orchestral to acoustic to electric to electronic in terms of instrumentation.  It's certainly ambient, and pretty much entirely instrumental, but I don't think we will hold ourselves to those genres as limitations in the future. We just want to put music out there that's exploring new areas and that’s outside of the mainstream (that it would have more limited opportunities of being heard and being distributed without this kind of label.)

What can audience members expect from tonight’s performance?
TC: Something hypnotic and involving; music that will exercise their brain at the same time as giving it a little massage—something special. I'll be building some evolving sonic landscapes with my electric guitar and computer, Josh has an amazing band that will carry everyone along with him, and Bing and Ruth will use grand piano, clarinets, cello and more to create patterns and movements and then lull you into hypnosis before snapping you back into the present with discord and distortion.

How have you enjoyed your latest tour and which places have you performed?
TC: I've been on tour in my other guise as Paper Beat Scissors for the last two months - a six-week European tour (mainly focusing on Germany) and two weeks travelling west from Toronto out to Victoria (with a somewhat doomed attempt to play at Calgary's Sled Island during the flood, there).  It's been amazing, not the least playing shows with and meeting some of my musical idols in the shape of the Notwist and the National (the second meeting happening randomly on the street in Toronto).  That said, I'm very excited to have a little time at home in Halifax, and to work on my set for the Jazz Festival.

Which acts do you want to catch at this year's Halifax Jazz Fest?
TC: Bing and Ruth are the topmost top of my list. I've been a huge, huge fan for a few years, now, and so excited to hear them play their beautiful, hypnotic music live. A Tribe Called Red will be a wicked party, and SKY AM I (local violinist Gina Burgess' collaboration with Inuit artists and a New York electro artist) promises to be something special too.

For more information on other Halifax Jazz Festival events, visit:

* Note that tonight, Tuesday and Saturday evenings there will be free concerts at the Halifax Jazz Festival Tent!

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