Interview by Tess Martens
Tess Martens went to Kazoo! Fest in Guelph, Ontario and saw St. John’s, NL band Property. Property is the indie-pop trio of Sarah Harris (guitar/vocals), Jack Etchegary (guitar/drum machine), and Liam Wight (bass). She reached out to interview them and to see them again as their social media stated that they were playing in a house show in Kitchener, Ontario. Property promptly replied and stated that the venue was not confirmed yet so Tess offered her house, The Front Room Gallery. They organized the show in two days and the KW community came out on a Wednesday to see Property, Lo Siento and local dj coco smoochi! Below is the interview. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for playing at my house. I appreciated it and the crowd loved your music!
Hey Tess,thanks so much for having us! It was a very fun night.
Where did the band's name Property stem from?
The first music we released was for the RPM challenge, a international self-motivated challenge to write and record an album of original music in the month of February. I was living in Halifax at the time and Jack came up and we made an RPM together. We wanted to use an everyday word that has a versatile meaning. It can be colloquial, or political, or whatever.
How and when did y'all meet?
We met in high school in St. John’s! The three of us played in a different band together for a few years. As that band stopped playing and writing music because of other members moving away, the three of us sort of spawned off and formed a new band. It was all very natural.
What is the music scene like in Newfoundland?
We can’t really speak to the wider Newfoundland and Labrador scene, but the St. John’s scene is very community oriented. There are a lot of bands made up of artists, community organizers, and musicians based in and around St. John’s. We have two independent music festivals, Lawnya Vawnya, and Out of Earshot, that are doing really well and speak to the success of the scene there! We bring in a lot of touring bands for those festivals and connect our music and arts community to the larger independent Canadian scene.
How do you describe your music?
We started using the term angular pop to describe our music due to the fact that we use a drum machine in place of live drums so the tempo and beats are all quantized and rigid. We also have a very riff-based approach to our songs. There is a lot of interplay between the two guitars and the bass whereby we’ll each play our own lines that fit together but also move independently of each other. The songs have a prominent vocal melody as well so that’s why we say pop.
Your dance moves are mesmerizing during your performance. Are you influenced by any bands and do you have any other talents outside of music?
Haha! We got in the habit of doing certain actions that reference some of the lyrics during some of the songs so we keep doing them. We are 100% influenced by many bands. A couple notable ones that have choreographed movement are Talking Heads and St. Vincent. We are by no means professional dancers except for Liam who once won an award at an 80s dance party for the best moves. That’s his talent. Sarah can ride a unicycle and Jack can drink vinegar like it’s water.
Tell me about your writing process and your lyrics.
The songs usually start off as a demo from me (Sarah). Sometimes they’re full in form, sometimes it’s just a verse or just a chorus. Then we jam and arrange them in the Property format and that’s where they really come to life! The lyrics are usually inspired by stuff that I’m reading, or general feelings, or tongue in cheek commentary on the world, haha.
How was Kazoo! Fest in Guelph and the intimate house show at my house in Waterloo (The Front Room Gallery)?
Kazoo! Fest was so great! We were really grateful that they booked us considering that we came all the way from St. John’s. We got to play two shows and both were a really good time and we made some new pals along the way. The house show in Waterloo was amazing! It came together on such short notice and we definitely did not anticipate such a good turn out and such a generous reception. Thanks again for putting that together and getting people out. Couldn’t have gone better.
Tell me about the next festivals that you will be playing at.
The next festival we’re heading to is Flourish Fest in Fredericton. It’s a community based DIY festival that’s run by a couple of super cool folks our age. We met one of the organizers, Jane Blanchard, at Lawnya Vawnya last year. It’s a weekend of bands, visual art, literature, and workshops! We are also playing Bloomfest that weekend which is a side-festival for touring bands happening at the same time as Flourish. It’s in Sackville at Thunder and Lightning and is presented by Not Your Boys Club, an East Cost music and arts blog. After that we’re headed to the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown, PEI which is more of an industry based event with showcases and professional development stuff.
Who would be a dream to tour with?
We don’t really have a dream band to tour with but we definitely have a dream place to tour. We really want to go to Japan and play. So in that case, any band heading to Japan who needs an opener for their tour. Hit us up!
What advice would you tell someone who wants to start a band and tour?
Just do it and don’t over think it. Play with people you like hanging out with. Take all the shows you can get. Talk to people from your community who have done it before! Connect with bands in the places you’re going (they usually know the best places to play). And apply for touring grants from your provincial music and arts organizations!
FB // IG : @propertytheband
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You can spot Tess Martens performing with all her heart during karaoke night because she has to compensate for her singing voice or cracking jokes at a music open mic night. She is a performance artist and painter that exploits her vulnerabilities and humour. When she is not doing art, she is working with seniors. She recently received her Masters of Fine Art at the University of Waterloo. She now resides in Waterloo, Ontario. Follow Tess on Instagram.