On any given Sunday, you may have seen—or may yet see—a chartered TTC streetcar gliding through your neighbourhood, with a local band on board and a small army filming them. As part of an ongoing project called the Transit Tapes, created by Orbyt Media and partially bankrolled by Astral Media (which means not everything they do with the TTC is a hilarious disaster!), artists are being thrown into the back of streetcars and filmed playing songs as the cars rumble around town.
Christian Bailey, the Tapes’ creator, told Torontoist yesterday that he’s “always wanted to do something like this.” Inspired by Black Cab Sessions and La Blogotheque—both of which get bands to play songs in atypical settings and record the results—Bailey set out to put “transit and performance together,” and figured, he says, “why not the streetcar?” Streetcars connect neighbourhoods to one-another and connect passengers to those neighbourhoods, and Bailey hoped that the project would come close to approximating the experience of gazing out the windows of a moving car while listening to music on headphones—it’s all about “being a part of something.” (Besides, he adds, a streetcar is like “the greatest dolly shot of all time.”)
There’s little to show of the fledgling project yet; only the first videos shot, on January 25 with Spiral Beach and the Priddle Concern—both above—are yet up on the Orbyt’s YouTube channel, but there’s more to come: Gentleman Reg, Ayah, and Slakah the Beatchild were filmed this past weekend in one of those pretty old streetcars; and the Junction and Arkells are getting filmed this upcoming weekend.
The plan, says Bailey, is to accumulate about two dozen performances by “emerging talent” by the end of August, with a dedicated website for the project coming in mid-June. (You can, of course, follow them on Twitter.) Until then, the Transit Tapes will mix up not just the bands but the routes (“we go wherever we want” in the streetcar, which they book for five or six hours, says Bailey), the vehicles (may we suggest “Romantic Traffic”–style subway rides?), and, probably most interestingly, how the Tapes interact with the bands involved. Bailey likes the idea of, say, picking up and dropping off bands from shows; he aims for the Tapes to be “less of a production and more of a scene.”