Raquel Cole wins hearts and loot at the Nimbus Recording Competition Finals

Students Bram Roelants, Gillian Dunn, Alison Costello and Samuel Carter.
Nimbus Business Students (from left) Bram Roelants, Gillian Dunn, Alison Costello and Samuel Carter.

Last Friday marked a fight-night of scales and wails at downtown’s The Cellar Nightclub. Four BC bands competed for a chance to take away a musical support bundle offered up by staff and students at Vancouver’s premier recording school, Nimbus.

The bands' coveted prize was a to-be-finished three-song EP with Nimbus Audio Engineering and Music Production prof Futcher (We Need Surgery, Fences, The Be Good Tanyas), $500 from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and an Artist Development Plan including ongoing consultation with the Nimbus Music Business program.

The Vancouver Observer spoke to Keith Parry—both Music Business prof, and Nimbus’s very own urbane Gandalf counterpart.

When asked about his role in competition’s conception Mr. Parry said—whisking his long, silvery strands—that previously the “Nimbus Showcase” was held where bands would compete for student recording time: “I thought, why not sweeten the pot? Because student recording doesn’t have the same cachet as working with a real producer.” 

Past incarnations of the competition saw winners We Hunt Buffalo and Cobra Ramone recording EPs with legends like Garth Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Biffy Clyro) and Alex “Condor” Aligizakis (Nickelback, Hedley, Bend Sinister) respectively.

A chance to work with the greats: winners get a chance to record with music legends

So one can imagine the stakes being 4/20 high for any starving artist hungry for the next tier of success; 180 international applications for this year’s competition came from countries including Turkey and the land down under. 

Miss Heather Blue, a Nimbus Business student described the selection process (one that she was an active member of) as a difficult one; the goal to pick acts that would be worthy regardless of genre, meaning the night would be devoid of indie-pop.

And it was.

Raquel Cole, a twinkle-in-her-eye northern belle (from Vernon, but often operates in Nashville, naturally) opened the night with subdued country flavour. The group featured a talented trio of women led by Cole sirening some superb harmonies over updated pop progressions.

The second band to play, If We Are Machines, strangled the stage with  rhythmic rumbling, and a wall of crackling cabinets; they yelled their lyrics above waves of careful distortion (and man, those guys have some killer beards).

Next up, toting semi-buzzed skulls and eponymous ballcap, Real Mad Decent laid out Sublime-seasoned lyrical flavour, while Righteous and the Wicked reminiscent riffage was snare-drum-smacked in the face by soundman-defiant slap addiction.

Mindil Beach’s marine life-conscious badboys were stoked on playing their first gig as a four-piece (down from five—life’s about healing, my dudes). Reggaified island beats had the dancefloor in hot step and the band dodging dainty undergarments. Smooth transitions, extended jams, and subtle frontman charisma ended the night’s live music with a deserved encore.

The energy in the room—due perhaps to booze-infusion, perhaps the “lastness” of Mindil Beach’s set—seemed to effuse that they would take the prize. Not so.

Raquel Cole, though the tally was tight, had taken it barely as the night began. 

The Vancouver Observer looks forward to hearing the forthcoming recording.

Photo by Creative Copper Images

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