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Charelle Evelyn

Charelle Evelyn

Reporter for the Prince George Citizen

Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

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Chris Holmes. Randy Staub. Jim Vallance. Rick Irvine had every intention of adding his name to the storied list of northern B.C. products who went on to influential careers in the recording industry. “I aspired to that when I went down to Vancouver and went to school. Then I realized I was going to get married and my wife wasn’t going to take care of me,” said Irvine.

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Cue the record scratch. Irvine returned to the north and got a job at a sawmill but never left music behind. For the past 20 years, he has quietly nurtured and helped local talent present the best versions of themselves at his home studio, Cheslatta Records.

As producer and recording engineer, Irvine helps ensure musicians sound good, whether it’s by recommending the use of a different microphone or an entirely different arrangement. “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play that can be super important,” Irvine said. But telling someone their work isn’t quite coming across isn’t always easy – even if it’s for the greater good.

“If somebody’s high on their music and creation and you have to tell them it’s not really hitting the mark… that’s the last thing somebody wants to hear – that’s a crushing blow to their ego.” But that’s why Irvine said he charges by the song and not by the hour for studio time, because those who are willing to put in the time can go do the necessary work and come back to positive results.

Out in the far reaches of the Hart, Cheslatta Records has an idyllic, cabin-in-the-woods feel that Irvine once imagined he’d create out on his family property in the upper Nechako area. The studio, converted from a garage, has been the staging ground for local acts such as Black Spruce Bog and Bright City Heights, as well as a stopping point for people like Juno Award-winning guitarist Lester Quitzau.

“It’s really all about the performers that showcase what you can do,” Irvine said of his calling card raw-production style. “You can’t put lipstick on a pig and you can’t soar with eagles when you’re flying with the turkeys.”

Irvine isn’t interested in propping up anyone who can’t already stand on their own, musically. In fact, if someone approaches him who hasn’t made the leap from singing in front of their mirror, he’ll encourage them to get in touch with other musicians and play together before thinking about recording.

Sure, the technology is available for people to record at home with their computer, but for Irvine, the magic happens when artists get together and find the vibe and groove that makes a song a true experience. A metal head in his younger days, Irvine said he’s come to appreciate the elements of music that truly connect with an audience.

“Nobody’s going to be impressed by how fast you play guitar – there’s always going to be somebody faster – or how fast you can play your drums – there’s always going to be somebody faster. What people are going to be impressed by is if they can get their body moving to your music,” he said. “And you can do that in two bars of a song – you can get people’s heads bobbing and feet tapping – if you can get that happening, you’ve really accomplished something right off the get go.”

Wely wails to Voice Champion

Geographically, it’s not that far from Rae Wely’s childhood home on Kelly Road South to the Treasure Cove Casino’s show lounge.

But the distance between hiding in a closet, singing Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, to earning a standing ovation and being crowned the

PGSG-150622-MZ-A.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro 2015-06-29 11-15-45Season 2 winner of 101.3 The River’s Voice competition may as well be measured in light years. Wely, founding member of three-piece band Circadian Rhythm with Melody and Tony Tabora, walked away with the prize on April 17 after two rounds of online voting culminating in a live performance and vote by the audience and judging panel. As The River’s Voice, Wely took home more than $1,000 in prizes as well as a chance to record a song at Cheslatta Records, which will then be played during the radio station’s New Music Monday lineup.

“About six or seven months ago I was actually driving down the road and I heard (2014 winner) Lee-Wai’s song on the radio and I thought that would be so cool to have your song on the radio,” Wely said. “And now this happened.”

Soured by previous bad experiences, Wely – who has no formal vocal training – wouldn’t have entered the competition if it weren’t for a promise she made to her grandmother. “She watches The Voice, she watches American Idol and she’s always like ‘you can do this, you can do this,’” Wely said, shortly after hearing her name announced as the 2015 winner. Wely not only did it, she commanded it, with a voice that judge Rick Kelly – afternoon announcer on The River – said ran the gamut from raspy to sweet with “some naughty in there, too.”

Fellow judges Elissa Meiklem from the Prince George Folkfest society and Coldsnap Music Festival, The River’s music director Jen Schluter, and station program director Ron Polillo were equally effusive about Wely’s performance. “Two words come to mind: power and passion,” Polillo told her. “I really feel that when you’re performing.” On the night of the finals, the top four contestants each performed three songs. By the end of Wely’s set of an original song, and covers of Sia’s Elastic Heart and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (rearranged to sound more like a 90s acoustic chick rock anthem) – third in the lineup – she was the first to have earned a standing ovation.

In its second year, The River’s Voice was more geared to listener input, said promotions director Khaira Black. “So instead of us picking the Top 8, we put it to a vote online.” And with the success of last year’s inaugural winner Lee-Wai Yu and his band Bright City Heights (who have two songs on The River and were featured prominently as part of the Canada Winter Games opening ceremony), interest had skyrocketed.

“It definitely has opened up a big door to getting our band recognized in the B.C. music scene,” said Yu, who was on hand on the night of finale with his bandmates to serve as the night’s house entertainment. “It opened the doors in terms of just getting our name out there and the opportunity to play on the radio. Getting that experience is something I don’t think many people get to do. It really helps your chops.”

Competition was so fierce this year, leading organizers to make the finale a Top 4 instead of a Top 3. Eventual runners up Demmy Hawkeye, Genevieve Tucker and Erika Callewaert all gave strong performances that filled the room.

“There were only 13 votes between No. 1 and No. 4,” Black said of the margin. Tickets to the live finale sold out in minutes, she added. “We had people lined up outside the door before we even opened our doors in the morning.” Can’t wait to hear Rae Wely? Head to Circadian Rhythm’s Facebook page for upcoming performances.

Kassandra Nagy: Scene styler

In addition to lending her face in front of the camera, Kassandra Nagy has also taken on the mantle of helping everyone else look the part in the Scene PG.

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So what makes the magazine’s stylist tick? Read on.

Have you ever styled before working with Scene PG?

KN: (Scene photographers) Christos and Trevor know I’m really into fashion, so they’d get me to pick out the clothes for the shoots and I’d do them as well. I’ve never styled before, but I’ve always been very passionate about fashion and the industry. I’ve read Vogue since I was 13 and … and I follow all the fashion shows. I follow a lot of blogs and I read a lot of fashion magazines, so it’s just my passion and I’ve been passionate for a really long time. I think from just growing and learning people end up seeing that you’re good at something and it just comes out.

Where do you think your love of fashion began?

KN: When I was younger, my mom always let me dress how I wanted and she never said I needed to wear certain things. So I think I started learning at a young age how to put things together and just from that I really enjoyed it. (In addition to her job managing the boutique at The London Spa and Boutique, Nagy also sells It Works! health products.) When I was in university, I was always into health and fitness because I used to race motocross, so I had a trainer. I’ve always been into health and wellness and fashion – I guess they go hand in hand.

How does it feel to see a shoot come together?

KN: I get excited. It’s all of our hard work and our vision all put together and it’s really nice to see it all come together and it all working how you want it to. And I think that’s like the most exciting part. That, and the end result – seeing the photos and feeling like all the hard work and the vision all came to life and it worked out. It feels really good when you see the end result.

Who are some of your favourite designers right now?

KN: Smythe: they’re Canadian designers and they make a lot of really cool blazers and jackets. (Duchess of Cambridge) Kate Middleton actually started wearing their blazers and that’s what made their big break. And they’re so nice, they’re really good quality blazers; Helmut Lange: I really like him. He has really nice leather leggings and he makes really nice blazers with a lot of leather accents; Michael Kors: a lot of his spring stuff was really nice this year; I really liked Fendi’s line this year for fall and Ralph Lauren makes really nice tweed blazers and I liked their prefall collection; Gucci: I like their stuff, too. They make really nice blazers and they make really nice hats and fedoras; Burberry makes great leather pants; and Givency: they make really cool, edgy things that I like.

A little about me

ncoyne3Norm Coyne has been active in local arts, entertainment and promotions for 15 years. He developed the Scene PG to provide local artists and musicians with exposure as well as connect a broader audience to the events and talent Prince George has to offer.


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