This dawn is yours to break, this path is yours to take
Skeptics they want you – old fears they haunt you
There is no time for fate. This is yours: create, destroy, create.
This chain is yours to end, farewell to absent friends
You say your sorries – wrap up your stories
The less you take the more you lend, the less you break the more you bend…
(“This Is Yours” – Goodnight, Sunrise)
When OTM first began, it was a way for me to remember every concert I’d ever attended.
Setlists are wonderful, true, and Setlist.fm wasn’t around yet. But I wanted to remember more than the songs that were played. I wanted to remember how Tori Amos had thrown people out of the show, how Matthew Good had owned people with a clever observation about social justice or how I’d gotten into a fistfight with a guy groping women in a mosh pit.
Unemployed in 2012, fresh out of college, I stumbled onto winning passes for NXNE. Having never been to the festival beyond a few free shows, I decided this was an adventure to remember. I blogged endlessly about the experience, skipping my own convocation to see films and early sets. Much to my surprise, people began sharing my reviews. Artists began asking me to see their sets. I was flattered, and later moved in discussions with them. For many indie artists, getting coverage is difficult at best, especially in a crowded field of festival acts. One good quote from a blogger could help sell them to another, and so on.
I love music. I love it because it’s saved my life. I love that no matter what life brings, there is always a perfect song for the soundtrack. I decided that I wanted to give something back. Redesigned and with a more professional approach, Open ‘Til Midnight was born.
I’ve spent three years running around on no sleep, ignoring chronic pain and illness, snapping photos and hugging artists and sticking glo sticks in my hair. I’ve juggled a full-time day job around 7 hours of coverage during festivals, collapsing onto the couch weeping in pain. It never stopped me from editing photos or throwing up reviews, though. Musiclove, as I call it, kept me going.
I love the Canadian music scene. I love the amazing talents we have. I’ve grinned as the band that sent me snarky, hilarious emails with their rough recordings of thrashing punk grew into The Dirty Nil that other music outlets have caught onto. I’ve inadvertently ended up in a documentary for Wildlife, discussed the fine art of Cola Sangria with Goodnight, Sunrise (still one of my favourite interviews ever), and shared cough drops with The Beekeeper. I’ve shot photos of Metric and echoed the sentiment of their lyrics: “Is this my life?” I’ve been warmly embraced by friends and family of bands, told that their brother/friend/significant other “just doesn’t know how talented” he or she is. But I know, and it’s because of a whirlwind series of events that began with a tweet about Bran Van 3000.
(My obsession with cheese has never been so useful.)
Blogging is hard work — ask any of the amazing outlets in this city. It’s even harder when you’re flying solo for 98% of the time. When you’re also trying to manage precarious health, writing novels and a 9-5 gig… Eventually, as the saying goes among the chronically ill, you run out of spoons.
Something has to give and for now, this blog is that something. It’s been a difficult, heartbreaking decision I’ve debated for a good 6 months. I am always compelled to help others, to give back. But in the end, if I give nothing to myself, I have nothing to give anyone else.
OTM is now closed to submissions for the indefinite future. I say indefinite because I will occasionally return to blog, as I did before the self-imposed pressures of regular content. The existing content will remain online, of course. It is, as always, a record of the shows I’ve seen and the music I love.
If you’ve enjoyed my writing here — and several of you have already reached out privately to tell me as much (I love you; thank you) — I’ll be over in my land of fiction, releasing my third novel in June. Thanks to all of you, my novels have killer soundtracks (I even namedrop a lot of you wonderful indies in the pages, hoping that readers will take a curious listen).
I still won’t shut up about music, so connect with me on Twitter and keep sharing your songs with me. I will always need more music. @emptysthemepark
Until the reunion tour, remember: lyrics are language; melody is motivation.