Jona Barr (left), Patrick Hamilton and Brendan Preston produced the unique Beneath the Broadcast video segment in CBC Yukon’s Basement last winter

Last winter, nine bands entered the CBC Yukon basement. There, each completed a one-shot live music video. The clips were compiled into a 45-minute segment and released as Beneath the Broadcast at an April screening in Whitehorse. This is a very simplified summary of the Beneath the Broadcast video project though. Behind the scenes, it took weeks of meticulous planning to bring to life a film that would showcase the talents of Whitehorse’s musical community and offer a peek into the diverse artistic landscape that exists in the Yukon.

Beneath the Broadcast was produced by Big Boat Records and Something Shows, in collaboration with Brendan Preston Productions. At the helm of the project were three of Whitehorse’s most creative: Jona Barr, Brendan Preston and Patrick Hamilton.

“At the start it was basically just a buildup of a lot of conversations,” said Barr. “Dawson (Bealieu) and Patrick (Hamilton, Big Boat Records co-founders) came up to me with this idea to do a video night where we get a bunch onstage and have someone film it to get some live videos for the bands.”

Barr then found himself talking to Dave White, host of CBC Yukon’s Airplay. He pitched White on the idea of using the radio studio’s basement as the venue. When Brendan Preston was brought on board, Preston suggested using one continuous shot for each band’s video. That’s how Beneath the Broadcast started to come together. For Preston, the CBC basement was a prime venue as far as space, lighting and atmosphere were concerned.

“I think the audience really gets a sense of space and some different flavours of the room,” said Preston. “It was a good way to make a film that can be viewed at one time or cut up into individual clips.”

When working on the filming, Preston decided to experiment using different techniques for each band, creating juxtaposition and an ever-changing ambience throughout the nine-part video. He compared the bubbly, pink-lit aura of Paris Pick’s performance to the stark, minimalistic punk vibe of the Cryptozoologists’ clip, and the big open area in which Groan Boy plays to the cramped, claustrophobic space Calla Kinglit and her band squished into. 

Originally, the segment wasn’t going to feature as many bands as it ended up including, but according to Barr, as rumours about the project circulated, there was a lot of interest among Whitehorse musicians. Several prominent local groups came forward to express interest in being part of the project. In the end, the nine bands featured in Beneath the Broadcast were Soda Pony, The Sweeties, Groan Boy, The Sputnik Experiment, Paris Pick, Calla Kinglit, Cryptozoologists, Jona Barr and Local Boy. The videos were all filmed over the span of a few days, with the exception of Local Boy’s—that one was done a few months later when the producers decided a hip-hop performance would help showcase the diversity of the Yukon’s music scene.

In addition to a public screening of the entire project, the nine video clips were released individually as well. Each premiered in a different online magazine. Some of the publications that covered Beneath the Broadcast include Exclaim!Canadian Beats, and Some PartyBeneath the Broadcast has also seen some coverage on CBC Music.

Barr thought online coverage by respected publications would help the featured artists get into more festivals and showcases, especially with BreakOut West 2019 taking place in Whitehorse this fall. “Lots of these bands would be applying to perform at BreakOut West, so having these videos would help with that,” he said. “There’s a little bit of buzz about the Yukon now with BreakOut West coming up, and there’s a really cool DIY scene happening up here.”

Of the groups who appeared in Beneath the Broadcast, Cryptozoologists, Local Boy and Paris Pick will be performing as part of this year’s BreakOut West showcases. Big Boat Records will also have representatives at the event to network with other industry professionals. With money raised from Beneath the Broadcast’s initial screening, the producers were able to hire a publicist to help the project get more exposure. This is important to Barr, as the Yukon’s remoteness means many potential managers, agents and fans aren’t going to just stumble across the scene.

“When I was younger, I found myself looking outwardly to other music scenes and wishing there was something like that in Whitehorse,” said Barr. “Now the scene is growing and changing with diverse styles and genres. I think there’s a lot of really cool stuff happening up here!”

The individual clips from Beneath the Broadcast can all be found on YouTube. Check out BigBoatRecords.com, SomethingShows.com and BrendanPreston.com for more information on the companies behind the project.

There are a few more things coming up for Beneath the Broadcast, according to Barr, but he can’t talk about them yet.