Dillon Collins: The Newfoundland Sound

Diversity, in any construct like, lets say, culture, is of paramount importance. 

Outside of the necessity of being inclusive in taste – variety is the spice of life they tell us –having a vast array of options just makes things better, doesn’t it? Painting would be fairly boring with only one colour on the pallet. 

What do you think of when you picture the music, the very sound, of Newfoundland and Labrador? Many think of the ‘trad’ staples that make up pub playlists and serve as the backdrop for tourism adverts.

Influences & Inspiration

No doubt, bands and artists like Sons of Erin, Dick Nolan, Ryan’s Fancy, Shanneyganock, Great Big Sea and The Navigators have and continue to wave the flag of the Newfoundladia sound. But a closer examination, a deeper look through the murky soundwaves reveal a deep well of genres, influences and inspirations. 

Take a look, by way of example, at the eclectic crop of nominees for this years MusicNL awards, which naturally honours the very best this island has to offer. 

There are, of course, your celtic/trad standards like Rum Ragged, Mike Sixonate, Brad Tuck and Rosemary Lawton, holding down the fort alongside country artists Carolina East, Mallory Johnson and Sherry Ryan. 

Diverse Music Genres 

Fancy a bit of electronic beats? Alex Byrne and Game Boy got you covered. On the jazz spectrum there are the exceptionally talented duo Earle and Coffin, Glen Collins and Florian Hoefner. Need more rhymes in your playlist? ChessClub and JYAY are just two of the nominees for rap/hip-hop artist of the year. There’s rockers Mick Davis, Waterfront Fire and the deeply complex stylings of Joel Thomas Hynes. 

And sex and gender boundaries or barriers? MusicNL doesn’t discriminate, toasting the likes of The Ennis Sisters, Adam Baxter, Brad Leriche, Rube & Rake, Ouroboros and Kellie Loder.

There’s this and that and other stuff. Something for everyone, always a surprise. I suppose you could say it’s a perfect embodiment of ourselves as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Tried, true, different but the same all at once, but consistent in our ability to adapt to any weather.

So what do I think about when presented with ‘the Newfoundland sound’. I think of pop, I think of rock, of jazz and dance and country. I think of folk and the trad standard bearers who started it all. I think of rap and hip hop, instrumentalists and genre-blenders. I think of punk, hardcore and yes, even heavy metal. 

When you think of Newfoundland music, as you do the place and its people, don’t paint us with the same brush. There’s far too many colours for that.

Dillon Collins, The Herald’s Staff Writer, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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