The Halifax Jazz Festival wraps up tomorrow night with the instrumental, psychedelic, danceable music of Joshua Van Tassel's Double Tooth. Recently we caught up with the former Nova Scotia native.
What inspired you to take up music?
Both my parents are huge music fans and supporters, and music was always on in the house. I have early memories of my Dad sitting with giant 70's style headphones listening to records in the living room, and getting in trouble if my sisters and I ran around too much close the stereo because the record would skip. It was a really early lesson in respecting music and it's importance.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
I obviously still hold on to the value my parents taught me directly and indirectly for music, but have added my own reasons into the mix as well. Music is a way for me to express all the strange things and stories I have happening in my imagination.
What are the challenges of the vocation?
It's increasingly hard to be financially stable as a musician, and you have to be prepared to invest tons and tons of time for no guaranteed tangible outcome.
What are the rewards?
I'm extremely lucky to have my job be to make music with the people I love. I'm surrounded by an unbelievably talented musical community, and am constantly rewarded and inspired by working with them.
What have been some career highlights?
To be honest, every time I pay rent at the end of the month feels like a highlight! Like I said, I'm extremely lucky to be able to survive as a full-time musician.
Why are festivals like this one so important for artists?
Halifax Jazz Fest in particular is extremely important in terms of the musical community in the city because it has the prefect balance of bringing in well known international acts, recognized local acts, and then always some great surprises. Lulu Healey and the whole staff does an amazing job, and the festival allows relative newcomers like my own solo project an audience and exposure where I may not otherwise be able to get it.
What can audiences expect at your show?
The project I'm bringing to this festival is called Double Tooth, and it's a psychedelic dance party. The band consists of myself on drums and sampler, Robbie Grunwald on Rhodes and synthesizers, and Kyle Cunjak on electric bass and percussion. Our goal is to keep things danceable and super fun, but to also sonically push ourselves and everyone there into some different sonic and experimental territory.
What are your thoughts on the state of jazz in Canada today?
I feel like jazz there are some amazing players in Canada who aren't concerned with the definition of the term "jazz", and are pushing the musical boundaries and allowing all their influences to shine through in their music. It's extremely healthy and important for jazz as it continues its development as an art form I have a great amount of respect for.
What’s next on your musical agenda?
Recording a new solo album in the fall, producing a number of records for other artists, touring in the fall as a drummer with Great Lake Swimmers and Amelia Curran
Joshua Van Tassel's Double Tooth
Saturday, July 13, 11pm
The Company House, Halifax