For those popping down to Austin, TX for SXSW next month, you won’t want to miss the BeatRoute showcases with friends Music BC and WinnieCooper. The friendly face you’ll find representing Music BC Industry Association will be Savannah Wellman, project manager of the organization as well as frontwoman for the singer-songwriter project Redbird. As a local musician, Wellman knows the ins and outs of the industry, so her job is where she can put to use her passion for music and helping out other artists.
BeatRoute: How did you get started working with Music BC?
Savannah Wellman: About six years ago I came across a Music BC booth at Virgin Music Festival, and started volunteering at their events. Then I applied to be an intern, and before I knew it I had a job doing membership services. Over the next few years I worked my way up to my current position, where I administer all our projects and programs!
BR: What has been the most exciting part or your favourite moment so far of working for Music BC?
SW: Without fail, the work highlight of every year is heading up to Princeton BC for our PEAK Performance Project Boot Camp. It’s a ton of work leading up to it, but the payoff is magical. I remember the first year we arrived, and we had no idea what to expect. The energy and support that was created amongst those 20 artists was above and beyond anything we could have hoped for. I still remember the shivers down my spine as I watched We Are The City perform for the first time – those moments are what it’s all about.
BR: What kinds of projects and collaborations does Music BC typically do?
SW: Besides the PEAK Performance Project, we offer travel grants, plan educational seminars and workshops, hold “SchMusic” Networking parties, showcase BC artists at local and international festivals and conferences, offer resources and advocacy on behalf of our members, work with the Western Canadian Music Alliance on their annual awards and festival (BreakOut West), we’re the regional reps for FACTOR…the list goes on. Really we have something to offer every band or artist in BC, regardless of genre or location!
BR: What are you looking forward to most at SXSW this year?
SW: I feel like my goal is to simply survive. That and meet Sam Roberts.
BR: Do you get to go to a lot of festivals with the job? Where has it taken you before?
SW: This was a record year for the number of festivals that Music BC participated in. Let’s just say I’ve got packing light down to an art form.
BR: What kind of music do you listen to at work?
SW: My playlists are honestly at LEAST 50 per cent local. I’m a sucker for Canadian rock ‘n’ roll. And when I need to chill out I put on the “Valium” playlist, filled with great songwriters and local folksters. We’ve got a really talented scene here in Vancouver.
BR: How does the job work with Redbird?
SW: I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to take my vacation time to go on tour, and to be able to utilize the things I’ve learned through my job and apply them to my own musical career.
BR: What will Redbird be up to in 2014?
SW: I’m working on new material, hoping to record it soon!
Redbird will be playing the Steamwhistle Unsigned series at the Biltmore with JP Maurice and Rolla Olak on April 3. Entry is $5, which goes straight back to Music BC to support more music – and the cycle continues!
By Jessica Brodeur
Photos: Sarah Whitlam