Most bands in Whistler are playing, like, pop-soul or brandishing their punk swords or are too preoccupied with the riffs of AC/DC or Led Zeppelin to even think about experimenting.
But then there's Squamish, which has attracted a slew of musicians from Vancouver and Whistler and elsewhere, due to cheaper real estate, and so on. This has begun the cultivating of an organic music scene that is about the music itself and not packing nightclubs to the ceiling.
Enter Step Twelve, brainchild of Andre Chamberlain. The singer-songwriter project is a refreshing case of indie rock in a region almost completely void of it. Each song is built around the bass guitar, where Chamberlain uses a capo while looping and strumming, techniques rarely used with the instrument, to create a totally unique sound.
"Usually bass is used as the back-up in a band, y'know?" he says. "I just tried to make it a bit different, write songs with it and add things like a piano, xylophones and drums."
What might sound like a bit of a gimmick is anything but - textured indie-rock that would fit right in at any Main St. bar in the city.
Chamberlain doesn't talk much. He's a soft-spoken man of 25 years and it's clear he's more adept at expressing himself through his instrument than with words. What we do know is that Step Twelve was one of five local acts picked to play the 2010 Squamish LIVE festival, from the 55 between Whistler and Vancouver that had applied. He's played a few shows in the city but mainly he has been focusing on recording.
"I was focused on recording an EP (extended play) and now I'm trying to get my name out there to play more in the city," he says. "It's just meeting the right people and getting the ins it can be a bit more difficult living up here."
He says the music scene in Squamish was looking pretty grim there for a while. When he first started playing in bands five years ago there weren't many venues to perform at. Back home in Ontario, he could be playing every weekend with any number of bands, or by himself, but in Squamish, well, bands were relegated to basements and garages.
"I felt like in Squamish there were only certain areas that would allow artists," he says. "Sometimes it was hard for local acts to even get out and play, you know?"
More venues are opening now and there's a scene brewing. It's here that Chamberlain's other projects, the indie-gospel duo Chamberlain Davey and the blues-rock cover band the Overcomers have found a home.
And it's from Squamish that Chamberlain draws the most inspiration. First of all there are the mountains and the ocean. There's moodiness to the town, that plays into each of the songs on his independently released EP End Close Sight, which plays like the soundtrack to a particularly enlightening walk along the Howe Sound in October.
The EP features a cast of local musicians on various instruments and his live shows have expanded the instrumental palette. He's currently writing new material for a full-length album, which he hopes to record next year.
"I'm just putting out a positive message and getting people to kind of groove along with it," Chamberlain says.
It's that kind of grooving that people who are tired of hearing Zeppelin and Van Morrison covers can gain some comfort from, knowing that it exists and that some really cool new-fangled rock music is being created in the Sea to Sky.