The Band Boot Camp Diaries

The Band Boot Camp Diaries

The Band Boot Camp Diaries

Week 1

“As we come to the end of Creative Catalyst “Band Bootcamp” week 1, it has been awesome to see this group of musicians engage in every aspect of the professional development sessions.

Arts Whistler’s executive director, Mo Douglas, kicked us off, taking the artists though what to expect and how to get the most from this rare opportunity to rub shoulders (from 6ft apart) with so many expert music industry professionals. In the second session, Jess Robson showered us with knowledge on copywriting and provided some insight into the difficult, but essential, task of writing about yourself (and all on her birthday no less!). We rounded off the week with local performer and performance coach, Ira Pettle, who guided the musicians through an interactive session aimed at improving their performance skills. Ira’s session was a great, dynamic way to end the week.

We look forward to another busy week of workshops ahead!”

– Amelia Browne, Creative Catalyst Program Lead

Check The Next Level page


Week 2

“Week Two of Band Bootcamp was jam-packed with an incredible line up of industry professionals. We kicked off with local dynamic duo, Kristen ‘KR’ Robinson and Scott McPhee. With almost 60 years of combined industry experience, they had so much wisdom to impart to the artists. They shared what they expect from artists when they turn up for a professional gig; how booking agents and the tech teams integrate in the process; provided a better understanding of how these important parts are all interconnected; and learned ultimately what will “get you the gig”. This session was so informative and dynamic with lots of dialogue – sparks of inspiration and learning were flying everywhere! Memorable quote, “Sound checks are NOT rehearsal!”

“From there we took the sessions online, connecting with professionals from further afield. Toronto-based band manager and publicist, Joanne Setterington took the artists through the benefits of working with a publicist, drawing on her own experiences working with an array of incredible musicians throughout her career.  Then Michelle Leroux (Pembertonian and marketing manager for Scandinave Spa) took the artists on a journey to better understand social media, the importance of authenticity and the benefits of planning and scheduling your posts in advance.”

“Finally, we had the pleasure of introducing the bands to Dear Rouge (also over Zoom), a ‘synth rock’ duo from Vancouver who are currently recording their new album in Toronto. Drew shared the pair’s journey to where they are today and assured the bands that if they put in the work, good things will happen for them. Danielle took over and eloquently broke down the key elements of being a lead singer, drawing on her own experience in connecting with the audience  – even when sometimes things go wrong, it can often turn out great! She shared a story of when they lost all power mid-show and Danielle entered the audience, hugging people in the crowd to find many of the audience report back to say how great the show was. That moment of connection was the part that made it so memorable! Hearing these stories and relating to two successful artists who have been down the road that our local bands want to travel was inspiring for everyone. It was an excellent way to round off week two of Band Bootcamp.”

– Amelia Browne, Creative Catalyst Program Lead

Check The Next Level page


Week 3

Week Three kicked off with our final keynote speaker Sandee Bathgate. Drawing on her 30+ years in the music business working alongside the likes of Michael Buble, The Offspring and Bryan Adams, Sandee took the artists through ‘The Business of the Music Business’ with some awesome and tangible advice for the artists.

After every session with our industry professionals, we asked each individual artist what their main takeaway from each session was. It was remarkable to see how each artist had taken different valuable points from each talk, some valued the practical advice while others found value in finding parallels with the keynote speakers’ experiences and their own, drawing comfort and motivation from that. This reflection after each session really highlighted how much information was being shared around the room (or Zoom)!

After the final workshop, each artist was given the opportunity to pick up to four of our industry professionals for One-on-One sessions, where they dive deeper into each area of expertise. Here’s what Introduce Wolves had to say about their One-on-One experiences…

“The one on ones were amazing. So I just generally like hanging out and talking with KR about all things Whistler. She actually gave us a lot of encouragement, just asked and Liam were starting feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of tasks that we’d been adding to our to-do list she pointed out that we had achieved a hell of a lot in a year where things have been a struggle and that the next steps would present themselves shortly. Which they did, Jo was very informative, she kinda kicked our asses a bit over the quality of our recordings but that led to us shortly afterwards re-recording some old vocal parts and sending off our first two songs to be remixed and mastered. Dear Rouge we’re pretty wonderful, Drew is a real hard worker and pretty much gave us the exact next steps that we need to take. He even put us in touch with one of their friends who is a producer who we have since spoken to so we sort of got an extra one on one session with him. We will definitely be pursuing radio play when our new music comes out and writing some radio songs is definitely going to be a big part of what we work on in the future.

Scott was super helpful too, he really gave us a lot of advice about balancing our distorted messy sound whilst playing live and said he’d really try going to town with us for our live show in May.

I also thought I’d share this with you, got the cutest feedback ever this week. One of the little girls that I was teaching in ski school this winter, her mum got in touch to say thanks but also that they’d somehow found our hear and now show (which I never actually mentioned at all) and that I’m now her favourite rockstar hahaha!” 

Next week we’re working with the amazing Jessie McNaught a personal stylist and coach who will guide the artists through ideas on how to express themselves through their own personal style.

– Amelia Browne, Creative Catalyst Program Lead

Check The Next Level page


Weeks 4 and 5

As we entered week 4 of Band Bootcamp, the impact that COVID-19 was having in Whistler was amplified when two musicians in the program were contacted to self-isolate due to potential exposure. This meant taking a couple of the styling sessions to a virtual setting – Zoom saves the day once again! Luckily our stylist, the brilliant Jessie McNaught, and our fantastic photographer, Logan Swayze, were super flexible and helped us overcome this COVID-related obstacle.

The styling sessions and photoshoots were private one-on-one sessions with the bands, and Jessie and Logan, as it is such a personal process. It was important for the artists to feel comfortable being fully open and authentic; I didn’t attend these sessions so the bands could embrace the process fully.

Jessie McNaught has written a few words about her experience to give us some insight into the work done, followed by personal perspectives from some of our musicians.

Jessie McNaught:

 “When Amelia asked me if I would like to be involved in the Band Bootcamp it was a big yes! The moment of feeling like Jack Black in School of Rock had finally come true. What blew me away at the start was the vast uniqueness of each of the artists and how much heart and soul they all poured into their music.

 Before we met, I had each artist fill out a questionnaire and create a mood board that showed their vibe so I could get a better understanding of who they were. With this information, I made a brand board for each of the artists. Listening to the artist’s lyrics and music while creating these boards added a whole new level of depth to the creation process. This brand board encapsulated their values, style, voice, what the brand evokes, and the imagery that supports what their brand is all about. I think most of us as humans want to be truly seen, even if it feels scary. It was a memorable experience to give the mood boards to the artists and witness them feeling seen and understood as they looked through them. This piece was a really helpful launching pad for the photoshoots with Logan.

 During each session, we talked about what your image says about you currently and what you want it to say, where the eye is directed first and how to use that to your advantage and dressing for where you want to go. How to create unity between the band members was an important question, and embracing how dynamic and unique you are was a very passionate topic that ended in some bangs being cut, haha!

 Logan then joined the sessions to brainstorm ideas for the photoshoots happening the following week. It was amazing to collaborate on the final vision, from concept to reality. Everyone brought ideas to the table, and we planned it all out together- from locations to how many outfits, what each band member would wear, to the vibe and energy of each shoot.

 Logan was an absolute joy to work with, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner on this project.

 Some of my key takeaways were:

  • Own your voice – use your style to express your music and who you are.
  • When performing, dress for where you want to go, don’t default to where you are currently.
  • Communication between band members is essential to create more cohesion visually.
  • How we innately know what we like when it comes to our style, it’s more about permitting ourselves and creating the confidence to wear it.

 My biggest takeaway was how much I adored each and everyone one of these incredible artists. Not only are they mind-blowingly talented, but they all have the biggest hearts and great senses of humour. I felt so energized working with all of them, and I cannot wait to fangirl in the audience at their shows.

 Thank you Arts Whistler! It was a blast.”

Working with Jess was a total pleasure for both myself and the musicians.

Here’s what the musicians had to say about the experience:



Cat Madden

“I learned how to express myself with my style; to be bold and not care what anyone thinks. I even wore one of my new outfits to the pub on my birthday… gold and black patterned pants, semi-pink hair and a tweed blazer with elbow patches. I didn’t give a fuuuuu***. I also learned that Logan and Jessie make a great team. They made me feel comfortable, strong and talented. The photos are amazing. Thank you!!”



Rory Malkin – Introduce Wolves

“I didn’t know what to expect from a styling session. At first, I thought we were getting haircuts or something; then I started to think it was more like branding. But, it wasn’t either of these at all! Jessie really understood where we were coming from and just wanted to help us get our message across with the best possible versions of ourselves. We talked a lot about music, clothing, life in Whistler, and where we would like to get to in our music career. Two hours went by pretty quickly, and we came away with solid ideas for artwork, photography and how we should dress when we’re on stage. When we met Logan, we had a rough idea of what we were doing, but Jessie’s instructions were to go and have fun (and take some beers). So we got pulled over by the cops straight away, then the first thing we did on our photoshoot was climb a rickety tower. The more comfortable we got, the sillier we got. Once we got to Pemby, we started to go with the flow, do stupid stuff with our instruments, climb rocks, etc. Logan really just captured us messing around and he had a good idea as to what he wanted from the photos. Our final shots were taken in front of my car’s headlights after we kicked up some dust, this wasn’t planned at all, but it really suited what we were trying to achieve.”




I appreciate the preparation Jessie did to serve me. That foundation helped shape my vision so I can, in turn, better serve and inspire others. The questionnaire and Pinterest board were wonderful tools for me to articulate my essence and the transformation I’m going through as an artist, and even more, fundamentally as a human.  She listened, held space and allowed me to be.  Her branding guidelines really helped articulate the messaging that I want to offer. I’m getting goosebumps right now, which for me, is always a visceral sign of alignment.  I was in tears — in a good way — at so much magic. I felt she understood me, my past, my present, and where I want to go – bridging my spirituality and art as a sacred offering to the world. Logan is a gem. He was able to pull the crux from our consultation and guide me to find our shoot locations. He made me feel comfortable, was open to experimenting with ideas while still being mindful of time and lighting. He captured magical moments that visually expressed my essence.”

This has been such an epic experience; overseeing the program and seeing the transformation of the musicians from start to finish, although this is not the end…

It’s been quite the journey for our bands as well. I can’t wait to see what they bring to their live performances throughout May and June for The Next Level and how they continue to thrive in their careers in the future.

I’ll have one more entry once The Next Level showcases have finished to report on how each band applied this whole experience to their live performances.

We will be streaming each of their live sets from our theatre, showcasing how the bands put all they have learned into practice. Don’t miss them! Check out their Hear and Now performances and let us know how you think they have improved. See you on the internet.

– Amelia Browne, Creative Catalyst Program Lead

Check The Next Level page

Hear and Now performances on the Arts Whistler YouTube channel


The Next Level wrap up – final post

It has been an absolute pleasure to watch our performers from the Boot Camp truly take it the Next Level in the showcases!

By the time the Next Level showcases came along, we were so hoping to have a live audience in the theatre, but due to COVID restrictions that was not possible. The performers were then challenged with creating a great in-person show with almost no in-person audience while delivering it with energy to break through the video screen – that’s no mean feat.

Our artists rose to the challenge and upped their game in so many ways for the final showcases. It was evident that they had applied what they had learned in Band Boot Camp.

As the project lead for both the Hear and Now Music Series and the Next Level performances, it was remarkable to see how these five musical acts had grown and taken over the reins of their potential. At their core, they are all talented musicians – and we’re lucky to say that we have an abundance musical talent in the Sea to Sky. But these musicians proved that creating a great show is more than the music; there is a lot of work behind the scenes that goes into making a performance top notch.

Some took what they had learnt and applied it with all their might. Boot Camp keynote speakers Jess Robson and Michelle Leroux spoke to the importance of social media in promoting your brand and being honest about it. Introduce Wolves and Cat Madden noticeably took their social media game up a notch, and Cat even increased her Instagram following by a hundred followers.

Jessie McNaught coached the artists in solidifying their style and brand. Evan Kinsella (in his own words) ‘picked a lane’ and it really paid off. He is talented in many genres, but the ‘lane picking’ really streamlined the end product, and his show was phenomenal. Although a bold move, his idea to change up the stage plot last minute was a great one. He created a visual representation of his music style and vibe before he even plucked one string his guitar. The performance really flowed and was truly engaging.

Little Earthquakes harmonies were flawless as usual. It was quite an ethereal experience to watch them perform and an excellent way to round off the performance series. Coming out of this experience and because of the support of this program, Little Earthquakes have started working on some new material – a slightly different more electronic vibe. I’ve already had a sneak peek, and I cannot wait to hear what else is to come.

Lozen took us on a theatrical performance through aligning her songs with each of the energy chakras while sharing the stories behind each of her songs. Scott McPhee and Kristen (KR) Robinson drilled home the importance of technical riders and coming prepared for show time, and that’s exactly what Lozen did. She came with a clear vision of her show including a set list complete with lighting and stage directions. This made it simple for our team to support her vision on stage and resulted in a well-choreographed and successful performance! Since the video shoot, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings have approved Lozen’s grant proposal, a massive milestone for her that proves that hard work does pay off. A huge congratulations to you Lozen!

Our Creative Catalyst musical participants practiced and practiced, then practiced some more. Introduce Wolves was so excited to be involved in the production elements of their show. Their creativity shone through, and their energy was infectious to the entire team. They helped us understand what they wanted from their performance by providing a clear mood board, and they even cooked up a punk version of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” – which was a definite highlight for me. More of that please!

Cat Madden was first up in the Next Level series so she had a quick turn-around from the end of the Boot Camp to getting show-ready and she threw herself into the showcase with full force. Her preparation and professionalism set the bar high for the rest of the performers from the get-go. She thought through how she wanted her show to look in terms of lighting design and queues, collaborating with the tech team in creating a great show. She demonstrated her ability to captivate a crowd with the emotion of a song through her incredible voice. It’s amazing what leaning into the emotion of a song can bring to a performance.

Overall it has been fantastic to watch these musicians thrive in these especially rough times, and it’s been rewarding to see that our Creative Catalyst/Band Boot Camp program has accelerated their creativity. On behalf of Arts Whistler, we thank these artists for committing fully to this opportunity. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

– Amelia Browne, Creative Catalyst Program Lead

Check The Next Level page

Hear and Now performances on the Arts Whistler YouTube channel


Comments are closed.

Recent Posts