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  • Broken Social Scene to reunite for Arts & Crafts anniversary concert


    Published 01/14/2013 07:00:03

    TORONTO - On-hiatus Toronto indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene will be mended for a one-gig reunion this spring, at a festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of its record label Arts & Crafts.

    All artists from the respected Canadian indie imprint will gather for the Field Trip Music & Arts Festival on June 8 at Fort York & Garrison Common in Toronto, including decorated songstress Feist, acoustic troubadour Hayden and British dance-rock outfit Bloc Party.

    Tickets go on sale Wednesday for the concert, which will also feature Ra Ra Riot, Timber Timbre and Cold Specks.

    But the biggest lure for fans will likely be the reformed Broken Social Scene, who have been on indefinite hiatus since a Nov. 2011 show in Brazil that the group had predicted would be its last.

    Indeed, this festival performance is being billed as a one-night only return.

    "I think if it was in any other situation, they wouldn't necessarily come back," said Arts & Crafts co-founder Jeffrey Remedios in a telephone interview, noting that the members of the group remain close friends but are currently focused on other pursuits.

    "Without Broken Social Scene, there would be no Arts & Crafts.... The first 10 records we put out were in some way related to Broken Social Scene. So they're going to play one show to help Arts & Crafts celebrate 10 years.

    "It'll be really special to see," he added. "They've always been about reinvention, so they'll probably pull on a lot of stuff they're working on now, and mix that in with stuff people are going to expect to see."

    And the stacked concert won't be the only way in which Arts & Crafts will mark this milestone.

    The label is also planning a photography exhibit by Toronto-based photographer Norman Wong, as well as a series of fashion collaborations with Canadian designer Jeremy Laing and a retrospective collection of hits, rarities and B-sides culled from the past decade and packaged as a vinyl boxed set or deluxe double-disc release.

    Also in the works is an altogether new collection of collaborative works by Arts & Crafts artists, a combination of new tunes and fresh interpretations featuring what Remedios says will be almost the label's entire roster.

    While Remedios still feels a bit strange reflecting on the label's history — he jokes that he's recently found himself tumbling into "nostalgia vortexes" — he says the label wanted to use this anniversary as an opportunity to once again shine a light on its solid stable of artists.

    "We didn't want to do it in a way that was at all self-serving," he said. "We (wanted) to do it in a way that would maintain the goals we've always set, which is to help artists connect to fans and potential fans."

    Arts & Crafts was formed by Remedios and Broken Social Scene singer Kevin Drew back in 2002, intended at the time as less a real label and more a vehicle to release and promote the band's masterful "You Forgot It In People." As that album won surprisingly breathless raves from reputable music media around the globe, the band and label saw their profiles rise in tandem.

    And Broken, a loose collective of notable Canadian musicians, proved a fertile source for daring new music. Over its first few years, Arts & Crafts issued albums by Scene spinoffs Jason Collett, Apostle of Hustle, Valley of the Giants, Stars and Feist, who broke out on her own to become perhaps the label's most commercially and perhaps critically successful star (Remedios calls her "one of the greatest artists I've ever heard, let alone worked with.")

    And since, Arts & Crafts has branched out further, signing the highly regarded likes of Vancouver indie-folk craftsman Dan Mangan, Toronto folk-soul singer Cold Specks and retro-minded fuzz-rockers Zeus.

    Over the past 10 years, Arts & Crafts has grown from a two-person operation focused on one band to a relative indie giant with a couple dozen employees in offices spread across the continent.

    Remedios points to a number of factors for the label's success: the prolific output of the talented label's central collective; the rise of influential indie media including Pitchfork; and the piracy-driven disintegration of the industry's major pillars of power.

    "There was the right confluence of an approach, the opportunity, the timing — it all kind of just came together in a perfect storm," he said.

    Asked how it will feel to see all the musicians that Arts & Crafts has nurtured on the same stage this summer, Remedios laughs and says he has "no perspective on that."

    "For now, the whole thing kind of feels a bit like a dream," he said. "I'm just excited to bring everyone together, and we'll work to make sure that all the artists and all the fans have an amazing experience.

    "If that happens, I'll be a happy man."

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