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culture

Festival Music House Emphasizes Links Between Music, Film

Now in its third year, the three-day event looks to give Canadian bands a chance to get their music in films from around the world.

Jason Collett plays Wednesday as part of the Festival Music House. Image courtesy Rockit Promo.

Now in its third year, TIFF’s Festival Music House was started by a few members of the Canadian music industry with one fairly simple goal: give Canadian musicians a chance to perform in front of film industry players, thereby improving their chances of having their song featured in a movie.

“With TIFF, this major global powerhouse of a festival, being in Toronto, there’s certainly the opportunity for some of the other artistic disciplines to access the film world,” says Arts and Crafts Records president Jeffrey Remedios. (Arts and Crafts is one of the show’s producers.) “The music industry kind of went ‘How can we showcase our emerging and established artists?’ Festival Music House was kind of the genesis of trying to achieve those goals.”

Remedios explains that acts are selected by a five-person jury out of a field of roughly 300 submissions, with jury members drawn from “various corners of the music industry.” Fifteen artists and bands will play over three nights (Festival Music House began last night and runs through Wednesday) at The Mod Club. The invite-only audience will consist mostly of film industry insiders, who will be on the lookout for potentially licensable material.

“We’re not looking at genres, or what kind of music could fit in the film world, because who’s to say what doesn’t fit,” he says. “I think all different sorts of music could fit in a film. We’re just going ‘Who is the most exciting and engaging that is available?’”

This year’s edition of the Festival Music House features a wide variety of acts, including heavy rockers Monster Truck, pop-rock-rap hybridizers Down with Webster, and self-described “world beat haute rock” band Young Empires. Empires bassist Matthew Vlahovich says that the Music House gives bands like his a crucial business opportunity in an era where licensing songs for TV and film is what he calls a “lifeline” for independent bands.

“We like to try to be involved with as many different artistic communities as possible,” he says. “We’ve been involved with Toronto Fashion Week and various art fairs. Being involved with the film world is just a no-brainer for us. We’ve already had our music in a few TV shows in the US, and every band at our stage hopes to get [a song] in a feature film.”

Singer-songwriter and Broken Social Scenester Jason Collett is also playing this year’s edition of the Festival Music House. As an artist who’s already had songs licensed for several films, and describes licensing arrangements as a “substantial part of my bread and butter,” Collett says that playing the House is partially a way of telling the film industry to “keep up the good work.” More than that, however, it’s also a unique gig and a good time.

“It carries with it all the hoopla of TIFF,” Collett says. “There’s a good energy in town, people are going to parties, people are eating canapes and sipping cocktails. It’s a bit of a funny one, but it’s fun.”

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