Yukoner Willow Gamberg, left, and Annastasia Fairbanks launched the online magazine Not Your Scene to promote the Vancouver underground heavy music scene.

We shouldn’t judge bands such as The Almighty Excruciating Pain, Xenocide and 3 Inches of Blood by how they look and their creepy names. If we do, we won’t get past the macabre imagery to the tender side, which, according to Whitehorse resident Willow Gamberg, is their creativity and integrity, their musical talent and their storytelling.

“Heavy music is an art form, just like any other, and there are tons of people who are passionate about it, myself included,” Gamberg says. “While lots of the names and themes in the heavier spectrum of this scene may be gory or brutal, the people in it are some of the nicest, coolest, most relaxed people I have ever met in my life.”

Since high school Gamberg has developed an appreciation for — and ability to differentiate between — sludge metal, speed metal, dark metal, doom metal, death metal and blackened death metal.

“I love it for its aggressiveness, emotion, skill level, structures, messages and for the care and time put into it by the musicians,” she says.

Gamberg followed her love of music to Vancouver to pursue the Music Business Administration certification program at Nimbus School of Recording Arts. While studying and writing articles for What’s Up Yukon, Gamberg has also been developing an online magazine to promote the psychedelic and metal rock scene in Vancouver. She and her business partner Annastasia Fairbanks, a music photographer, realized that Top 40 shows were getting lots of publicity, while the hometown Vancouver musicians were not.

And while the heavy music scene was thriving, it was so insular that it was tricky for anyone not totally dialed in to figure out when the shows were. A scattering of Facebook pages posted announcements for different shows and post-show photos, but they would get lost in the social media drivel. Fairbanks and Gamberg, both newcomers to Vancouver, were pooh-poohed when they asked about local metal.

“The scene was also kind of elitist and people were like, ‘Oh, it’s not really your scene,'” Gamberg says.
But it is their scene, and in January they launched the magazine Not Your Scene, which welcomes anyone with an interest in the genre.

“Fans are people from all walks of life, from 20-year-old girls to 50-year-old Beard-os,” Gamberg says.

The site, www.NotYourScene.ca, features a calendar of shows; photos and videos from past shows; interviews with bands; and the team’s favourite songs.

They now have of nine contributors and 372 followers on their Facebook page. Gamberg recognizes that some people are turned off by the imagery of spilled blood and demons, and can be spooked by tough-looking guys with showcase beards screaming into a microphone.

“This is another reason exactly why we wanted to start this magazine — to show that this scene is not a big, scary evil organization,” She says. “It’s a supportive and passionate community of people that love music with a message.”

They’re doing it for the Anciients, Astrakhan, Bison, Black Wizard; for Haggatha, Baptists, Wiser Fool, Nylithia; for all the other Vancouver heavy music bands and the people who love them. Fairbanks says they have already been earning the love of fans, bands and promoters.

“Promoters, bands and the venues are really thankful for the free promotion,” Fairbanks says. “And people going to the shows love (the magazine) because they can see quality photos and videos that we’re putting out there for them.”

And word is spreading. Visitors are coming to their website from around the world.

“We might be exposing people in Europe to the music scene in Vancouver and it’s pretty cool to be able to do that,” Fairbanks says.

Their hope is for everyone, everywhere, to support their local music scene.

“Support the people you grew up beside, who are making a solid effort to make their art,” Fairbanks says.

Check out Not Your Scene online at www.NotYourScene.ca