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A Strange Q&A: Yer Scene

When the rad folks at Yer Scene reached out to us a few months ago, we knew we had to meet them.

Yer Scene is an online zine that covers music scenes from around the world, yet, its founders are based in our hometown of Saint John New Brunswick. Like us at Strange Grooves, Yer Scene is passionate about community and the role music, especially live music, plays in everyone’s lives. Their digital take on the scrappy DIY zine format and their global approach are ambitious and pretty cool. Oh, and they’re also all around really rad people!

We recently sat down with Yer Scene’s Editor-in-Cheif Kenneth Fury and its Head of Media and Design, Amelia Bailey, for a Strange Q&A session. 

Read on to learn more about Yer Scene, the records they can’t live without, and more!:

How did the idea for Yer Scene come about? What made you guys want to cover scenes outside New Brunswick?

Kenneth.

Kenneth: After the death of the last DIY space in Saint John, New Brunswick I was devastated. There had been others in the music scene, but that was before I was involved. It was called Mount Olympus but it was Mount O to everyone who knew it. It closed within half a year and our DIY scene was entirely shook. I felt like I was losing something for not only myself, but the community at large which is something that left a lasting impact on me. It had been more than a place for shows. It was an positive space for the bands and people who needed it. A couple years later, I found myself in my favourite diner with my girlfriend. My girlfriend is an incredibly fascinating person who continually triggers cool ideas in my head. Someway or another, Mount O came up. However, as university tends to do, I quickly realized that Mount O wasn’t an anomaly. In my area, perhaps. In the music world at large? No.

Going off this, I began wondering about all the “other” Mount O’s of the world. What’s the DIY spaces like in Australia, for example. So when I finished my coffee at the diner, I quickly began wondering if I could put something together. Initially, I wanted it to be a obituary for Mount O but it soon grew from that. I wanted to focus on the now, the good things. Not getting trapped in the rose-tinted goggles. I wanted to hear about what the world looked like. How small communities in places I may never see thrive. How did the kids who grew up on the other side of the world or even just four hours away spend their show nights? Did they have a greasy pizza place they visited after? Did they have to drive for an hour just to see a show? These were all questions I had. Once I got home, I hit up Facebook music groups with a vague description of my idea! Now a year later, we’re about to be 10 issues in.

Amelia

Amelia: I wasn’t really involved in the initial idea of Yer Scene, that was all Kenneth!I got on board after he posted on Facebook that he was looking for someone who had done graphic design in the past to help him on a project. As soon as I heard his ideas for Yer Scene I was so excited. I had never heard of anything like it. In terms of our reach, covering scenes from all over the world was a goal from the start. In eight issues we were able to gather up contributions from eight different countries, all the way from Chile, to Poland, to Australia! Our team continues to grow every day, and with the power of the Internet we’re able to recruit new writers and artists/photographers from all over. It’s a really cool thing to be a part of!

Obviously, this has some challenges, so how do you go about doing that in a way that is engaging to all readers?

Kenneth: I think Yer Scene actually thrives because of our larger connection. Because of it, we’ve found even more cool bands, artists, photographers and ultimately? People. Yer Scene is about connections, and even though yes finding people at times has proved a challenge, people will put their weight behind something they believe in.

Amelia: Also, I think Yer Scene is unique in that our focus is, and always will be, music scenes but that we are able to incorporate art and photography of other themes. I think that it’s engaging to our readers because it shows how diverse our team is and shows that we aim to include everyone, no matter their music tastes, no matter their race or identities, no matter their distance from us. Yer Scene is a place of acceptance and for me it emulates what we hope to create in our local scenes; a safe place to share music, art and photography that we love.

When I think of “zine” in the traditional sense, I think of physical DIY publications. What I find interesting about you guys is that it’s all digital. What made you want to go that route? Was it just convenience of the medium, or are there other reasons?

Kenneth: Oh absolutely. Zines are a physical phenomenon and we’re kinda an anomaly. I think ultimately the importance of us going digital is the ease of connection to people from other places. Having team members from all over, on different schedules and paths is tricky at the best of times. However, doing this over facebook and email makes it possible. But not only the convenience of putting it together. It being digital allows more people to read it without causing problems for us or them. It’s accessible. It’s accessible to big city kids or those rural. Those who are either in the middle of their scenes or are longing for the one around them to be active have access to the scene at large. It’s for the people of the scene, no matter who they are.

Amelia: I completely agree with Kenneth. The goal from the beginning was to be digital. We recognized that physical zines, while absolutely amazing, have limited reach. We saw an opportunity in being able to share the zine with anyone who has access to the internet, which these days means everyone!

You guys recently entered the podcast world with “The Pit”, can you tell me a little more about that?

Kenneth: Of course! I am an avid podcast listener (Strange Grooves included!) and frankly, someone who can’t shut up. I wanted us to do a podcast to do different kinds of episodes and give our team members different ways to shine and expand on their thoughts. Like enabling a metal show, one about queer identity and others to come. It’s a way for us to continue to develop and discuss our ideas further than just the monthly release! We didn’t want to limit our input onto discussion in the world to be merely monthly. With this many members, there’s always another take or idea coming.

Amelia: Yeah, it’s also a way for our audience to get to know us a bit better!

What role do you see Yer Scene playing not just in punk/emo/skramz/diy scene not just locally, but globally?

Kenneth: Good question. I think it’s about enabling people to make connections they may not have. Finding bands, promoters or bookers in places you wanna see or learn from. If we can enable one show to happen or one split? I feel like I’ve done good for the world. My goals for Yer Scene are either incredibly mundane or too overblown – have been trying to find a good middle ground.

Amelia: I think, for me, the goal is to be able to reach and include people everywhere. We’re already kind of doing that, but as I said earlier, the Internet is giving us an opportunity to expand and grow globally. It’s a really cool feeling to look at the stats for our website and see that we have readers from places like the Dominican Republic, South Korea, and Singapore. One big goal for the next year is to include articles in other languages, we really want to make Yer Scene accessible and enjoyable for all of our readers!

What role do you see smaller/DIY publications like Yer Scene playing in music communities, not just in New Brunswick, but anywhere?

Kenneth: I think smaller publications get to focus on what they absolutely want to. We don’t have to say the right things because someone might pull their ad, and thus our revenue. We are entirely free to do as we will. Smaller publications also have the ability to try new things and risk failures in the attempt to develop. This is something we really thrive on and constantly remind ourselves of. Even though we have a small following, I think we’ve cultivated the idea that mistakes are healthy to have. As long as you’re learning, there’s no excuse to not try something new.

Amelia: Yeah, I agree. There’s no pressure to be the best. We obviously try to make every issue perfect, but we’re human and we make mistakes. In terms of the role we play in music communities I think we are in a unique position. Like we mentioned above, our goal is to be global but our focus is local, if that makes sense. We cover smaller scenes within the larger picture of the music industry. We want to encourage and support smaller bands and venues and give them the platform to grow. For example, one of our writers Hugh and his band Kids Luv Cops [came] up from Massachusetts to play Quality Block Party in Saint John [last] weekend. That wouldn’t have been possible without Yer Scene. We also just started adding “backpages” in each issue. Similar to the classified ads in your local newspaper, the backpages will allow the music community to ask and advertise globally through Yer Scene. It’s a pretty cool endeavour for us!

What’s your long-term vision for Yer Scene? Where do you want to take this?

Kenneth: As of now? It’s hard to say. Our biggest goal is about building the developing the networks we’ve started to make. It would cool to be able to spin a map and point to anywhere and have some sort of reach there. We’re trying incredibly hard through Europe! We used to spitball long-term goals but we’ve found that it’s more about taking it day by day and seeing what comes up. I’d like us to get the better reach so it helps bands when we put them in the zine.

Amelia: Yeah, I mean we’re only ten issues in, we’re still growing and learning. Adding more team members and growing our reach is always a goal. And like Kenneth said, we’re just taking it day by day, issue by issue to see what happens.

Are there any events or cool things in the works people should keep an eye out for?

Kenneth: The new podcast show is coming, the development of our backpages (which is basically a DIY yellowpages) and the continuation of diversification of content, whilst still having our core. More directly, a team member from the USA is coming up to play in Saint John’s quality block! Can’t wait for that one.

Amelia: On my end, we have some cool merch coming soon! We’re still trying to work out the logistics but it should be launching within the next few months.

Ok, time for you guys to get the Strange Grooves treatment. For each of you, what’s your favourite record and why?

Kenneth: Ah, that’s a hard one. I think my most ESSENTIAL record is Converge’s Jane Doe. It’s my backpatch, it’s a focal point of my life. The record emotionally connected me like no other. The genuine despair and pain expressed through it? Unmatched. It got me into hardcore which would be the basis of my ethos and push me towards finding DIY shows in my area. Jane Doe is a demanding experience. My relationship with it continues to evolve as I do as a person. I’d never trade the lessons I learned from that record for anything. It is heartache and the emotional rot embodied.

Amelia: Oh man! That’s difficult. I’d have to say Sempiternal by Bring Me The Horizon. I’ve always loved music but this was the first record that I really connected to. I was going through a rough patch, just having been diagnosed with depression, and every song I listening to I really felt. The music is also just good, hahaha. I stan BMTH more than any other band I’ve listened to.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island, what are the three records you would want to have with you?

Kenneth: Alexisonfire- Self Titled
Pig Destroyer- Terrifyer
Converge- Jane Doe.

Felt very sad I couldn’t take any Every Time I Die with me.

Amelia: I love this question.

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond – for moody, intense, thematic moments
All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us by Architects – for when things start to look bleek
Talk That Talk by Rihanna – for when I want to dance

What’s been the most memorable show or concert you ever been to. Why?

Kenneth: I think seeing Ingested with Moncton was an insane experience. It was wonderful to see such a supportive crowd in New Brunswick of such heavy music. The pits and wall of death were superb. It was fascinating comparing it to the punk shows I usually attend. Entirely different cultures and expectations of people. Yay, music anthropology!

Amelia: I’d have to say seeing Little You, Little Me at Peppers Pub for my birthday in 2016. I love LYLM and convinced my friend who’s does NOT have the same music taste as me to come. She stood in the corner while I had the best time ever. It was hilarious, shout-out to Brittney for letting me drag you along!

Ok, finally, who is on your concert bucket list? What’s the one act you need to see?

Kenneth: Alexisonfire and Every Time I Die have both alluded me twice. ETID even went to Moncton! The cards just weren’t in my favor and nothing worked out. Shucks, someday.

Amelia: I’ve had the privilege of seeing some really cool concerts, but I’d have to say that Bring Me The Horizon is at the top of my list. I’d also love to see Three Days Grace… Again.

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Cherise is the co-host of the Strange Grooves podcast. She started collecting vinyl back in high school, but her love of classic rock and AM Radio hits goes back long before that. When she’s not listening to music, Cherise is the Associate Editor of Huddle Today, an online business publication that covers Atlantic Canada. She’s previously worked for CBC New Brunswick, The Canadian Press and the Telegraph-Journal, among other great publications.

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