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Lacklustre music scene drives Quinte musician to go DIY

By Allen Steinberg [4]

TRENTON – The metronome clicks inside of local multi-instrumentalist Tyler Brassington’s headphones as he records himself playing his parts over and over again.

In a community where he says musicians do not have an abundance of support, Brassington is doing it all himself.

The 19-year-old is currently creating music in four bands, for which he writes and records the guitar, bass, drum and vocal parts.

“This community has shaped me, in the sense that I ended up learning how to play multiple instruments out of necessity because I couldn’t really find anybody who wanted to play or record my stuff,” Brassington said.

Not only that, but he produces all the music himself and releases it out of his in-house studio in Trenton.

His musical talent was passed down from his mother, he said.

My mom was active doing music until I was about eight. She recorded an album [5] in Mexico in 2006. I kind of sat around the studio while she was recorded, and I guess that sparked my interest.”

He was born in Edmonton and moved to Vancouver Island at a young age. His father, who is in the military, was posted to Trenton in 2014 and the Brassingtons have lived there ever since.

Having spent a number of years in this area, Brassington says that he has had to become a one-man show due to a shortage of active musicians and producers in the community.

Because he’s had trouble finding local collaborators who share his vision, he’s started to release music this past year with some long-distance friends.

Tyler Brassington and Shelby Olmstead have been friends since 2016, and the duo have written several songs together. Although they live in separate parts of Ontario, the musical bond they share fills the gap. Photo courtesy of Tyler Brassington

His main focus, he said, is his band Mntclr [6], who released a two-song single last fall.

Brassington writes most of the band’s songs, and records, mixes and masters all the material himself. His friend Shelby Olmstead sings in the band but lives in Toronto.

We didn’t actually have a band” on last fall’s single release), Brassington said. “I ended up playing all the instruments. I think it really lets me experiment a little more heavily with stuff when I have most of the control of the band.

Olmstead said making the band work has been a struggle at times.

“Working with Tyler in Mntclr isn’t always easy because of how far we live from each other,” she said in a phone interview from Toronto. “The distance puts more stress on musical opinions and disagreements, because we aren’t there in person to figure it out.”

But despite the hardships, the music they make makes it all worth it, she said.

“When I was 15 we realized we had this writing chemistry and that we should work on music together no matter what. I wouldn’t want Mntclr to be any other way.”

When Brassington isn’t making groovy alternative music in Mntclr, he writes for indie-rock band Hypnotic State [7], drums for the newly formed Ruptured Bodyparts and is also in the midst of starting his own solo project.

Brassington shared a sample of a new track for Hypnotic State with QNet News:

Although it would seem he’s starting to find his groove, Brassington said it hasn’t exactly been easy pursuing music in the Quinte area.

“I spent my childhood in Vancouver Island, and it seems as though it’s not as encouraged in this community to really go with your whole art thing,” he said. “Not that it’s discouraged, but because of the sort of culture you see around here, it doesn’t seem like a very art-heavy, music-heavy town.”

While musical people exist locally, vast opportunities for them to showcase their talent don’t, he added.

There’s hardly any actual recording studios here. The other thing is that there are no venues for original music. Everybody here wants to hear bar bands – cover songs that everybody knows. There’s little coffee-shop gigs that won’t even pay you. But the thing is, being a musician is a special thing. You deserve to be paid as a musician.”

The few bands that are based here do not thrive locally, he said. They go to larger markets for work that could be done here, he added: “A lot of bands I see that have original music end up booking shows or recording out in Toronto, Ottawa and even further than that.”

Still, the busy musician has big plans for the future, with releases expected from all of his four projects in 2020.

“Ideally, we’ll have full-length albums from Mntclr and Hypnotic State by the end of the year. I’m also working hard on my solo project, and I hope to release a couple of songs by myself,” he said.

“It’ll be hard to juggle, and the distance is tough, but I really do think that if everybody can commit, it’s all possible.”