Galen Ashley of the Root Sellers will present his band’s new music amidst the mystique and mystery of the Yukon Transportation Museum at this weekend’s Boys’ and Girls’ Club Masquerade.
“It’s really grand. It has a giant airplane in the room,” says Ashley with a hint of awe creeping into his voice. “I really love the atmosphere at the Transportation Museum as a venue and the masquerade [in 2007] was one of the first events that showed it.”
That first fundraising masquerade went so well that event organizer Lauren Tuck put another one together.
“Behind every good producer, there are tons of other people that are helping make things happen,” Tuck says, sharing the credit.
Local bands Soir de Semaine and Agents of Chaos will join Root Sellers and many other performers, designers, volunteers and community organizations.
“This event has art and music and food and culture, and it’s all inclusive. It’s going to be the event of the year,” says Tuck.
She’s not the only one enthused with the production.
“The idea of the masquerade suits Halloween so well,” says Ashley. “There’s mystery everywhere.”
That isn’t all. There are also birds. Large ones. Or at least sculptures of them created by Whitehorse artist Sophie Fuldauer.
“I wanted to make the birds wild and fun to amp up the party atmosphere,” says Fuldauer.
“The feathers are all tousled; they’re a little wild and it looks like something very big crash-landed in my bedroom. It’s been fun.”
In addition, Ashley points out the fundraiser will raise awareness for youth issues in Whitehorse.
“We don’t have access to a big city environment so there isn’t always a lot of culture available to youth,” says Ashley, who also works for the department of Health and Social Services.
Through his work, he often pairs with kids who have undergone trauma. He believes organizations such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Whitehorse are integral in creating safe spaces for youth.
“I’ve got therapeutic clients who are big fans of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club,” he says quietly. “They provide valuable programming for youth at risk and youth not at risk.”
When asked how necessary funding is to the club, Ashley responds immediately: “Absolutely necessary.”
Community support for the club is huge, he acknowledges.
“They’ve done a really good job creating a space downtown and also at the [Youth Lounge] at the Canada Games Centre. Both are well-attended and youth rely on them.”
Ashley says funding for the organization will allow for that new video game or piece of sports equipment to be provided for the youth.
But, if your bleeding heart needs other reasons to attend the masquerade on October 29, you need look no further than what inspired Ashley and his brother, Daniel, to start creating music.
“We were really interested in world travel and world issues and youth issues all at the same time,” he says.
They began performing as the Root Sellers after being asked to participate in the opening of the Canada Games Centre five years ago. They have since used their Yukon base to expand their sphere of influence and grow their talents. While the Yukon may seem too small for their huge sound, Ashley isn’t concerned.
“I get fairly claustrophobic in cities after awhile. I’m interested in visiting them, but I don’t feel at home in them,” he says. “There’s certain parts of me that don’t really relax until I’m out in the trees in the woods. We love going to our little cabin in Lake Laberge to compose and digest this stuff.”
The Ashley brothers are avid travelers who have sampled sounds from the places they’ve been, whether from nature or composers and musicians they’ve been exposed to abroad.
They spent the last five years gathering material from Indonesia, China, Africa, B.C. forests, and the Maritimes.
With such broad strokes painting their sound, it’s not surprising that their work is complex. After he grew up playing violin, Galen Ashley went through a metalhead phase. He’s probably best described as a musical Da Vinci, but he would probably shy away from such a comparison.
“As a child I lived in fear,” he admits. “I was never interested in studying theory. I just thought it sounded boring, so I’ve learned by ear and by teaching myself and improvising.
“I studied some theory at university, but I’m not really a classically-trained guy.”
Still, his background gives him insights that have benefitted his art.
“I became interested in blending my experience as a violin player with my love of electronic music. I’m definitely interested in taking acoustic sounds and pumping them up.”
Ashley says he and Daniel are stoked for the home audience to hear the new Root Sellers’ tunes at the masquerade.
“We’re really excited,” he says.