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DISCovery with Karen Bliss - Broken Social Scene

Welcome to DISCovery, a new series pitched to Vinyl Pursuit by music journalist Karen Bliss. The Toronto-based writer, who has interviewed everyone from Kurt Cobain to Shania Twain, Metallica to Eminem, plans to interviews various musicians about their relationship with vinyl, whether it’s their own or if they themselves are collectors. She might even throw in some other collectors, such as members of the music industry and private collectors. We’ll see how it goes. 

Q&A with Brendan Canning: Broken Social Scene Co-Founder, Solo Artist and DJ

Photo credit: Simon Head

By Karen Bliss, September 28, 2022

Brendan Canning is co-founder of indie rock collective Broken Social Scene, an international touring act which has released five studio albums since 1999. He started his music career in a Toronto band called hHead and was a part of By Divine Right, Valley of the Giants, and Cookie Duster, among others. Along the way, the singer, bassist and guitarist has also dropped several solo albums, 2008’s Something For All Of Us, 2013’s You Gots 2 Chill, and 2016’s Home Wrecking Years. But Vinyl Pursuit was interested in speaking with Canning because on the side he is a professional DJ with a sizeable record collection.

Canning is the first interview for Karen Bliss’ new DISCovery series for Vinyl Pursuit.

How integral is vinyl to your career?
I wouldn’t say it’s integral. Because of the era that I grew up purchasing music, that was the format. I never really bought that many cassettes only to make mix tapes. In a way when you go into somewhere to find records, it's like going clothes shopping, ‘Oh, I'm just gonna browse.’ I don't go in like when I was a kid. ‘I'm going to get Slayer’s Raining Blood; I'm going to get Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. I'm going to get the new Poison album or I’m going to get the new Company B single. So, I guess, it's only integral because it has continued to provide me a musical community that's not the indie rockers.

 How big is your collection?
I don't know, like 2000, including seven inches. Probably like somewhere between 2000 and 2500. I got rid of a lot of the house music that I used to play. And then all my metal records from when I was a kid, they all got wrecked to my parents' basement. That was sad. They were in the crawl space and got water damage. So basically all the Manowar, Icon, Ratt, Destruction; I still have all the Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax though.

Broken Social Scene, Photo credit: Richmond Lam 

How big is your collection?
I don't know, like 2000, including seven inches. Probably like somewhere between 2000 and 2500. I got rid of a lot of the house music that I used to play. And then all my metal records from when I was a kid, they all got wrecked to my parents' basement. That was sad. They were in the crawl space and got water damage. So basically all the Manowar, Icon, Ratt, Destruction; I still have all the Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax though.

Are you a collector because you DJ or are you a lifelong collector?
The deejaying definitely ramped things up in a pretty significant way. I went through a CD buying phase from about ‘91 to ‘96. And then once I got the bug, after a night of doing some MDMA, and hearing [progressive house DJs] Sasha & Digweed at a Better Days party at the Guvernment [since defunct Toronto nightclub] in 1996, I was like, ‘That's it, I'm getting turntables.’

So that's how you DJ, you don't do it digitally?
No, never. Do you have a routine when you get a piece of vinyl?

Do you smell it? Do you sit down and go through the liner notes? No, no. Never really interested in liner notes.

What do you do?
No, because I buy like 15 at a time. Come home, dump ‘em in the new release section. So there’s no big ritual. Other people that don't buy 15 at a time, that's what they do. For me, that was the exciting part, looking at the artwork, reading the thank yous.

Do you have personal piece of vinyl versus your work vinyl? What do you mean ‘work’ vinyl? — and just call them records. Don't keep calling them vinyl.

Work vinyl, meaning you're a DJ. So you might not make some of those purchases if you didn’t DJ.
 Who knows? I just really enjoy the process. DJing has been a great side hustle. Some years, I'll make a bunch of extra money. Not like $50,000 or something like, but pretty good here and there as far as side hustles go.


So this is all your personal collection?

I have music I listen to for work because I have to, and then I have the ones that I'll throw on because I'm a fan. Well, I wouldn't be playing records out that I didn't like. Let's say if I play a Bruno Mars track out, which happens once in a blue moon, it's not like that's necessarily my home listening, but it's good to have in the crate if you're playing a party. If it's fun dance party and people want to hear ‘That's What I Like’ or Calvin Harris, shit like that.

Do you have any thoughts on original vinyl pressings versus new?
Yeah, as long as the original pressing was a good pressing, but some of that becomes prohibitively expensive. For example, I was in in a bar and there was a song playing and I was like, ‘Oh, what's this?’ And I got my friend to Shazam it and it was Martin L Dumas’ ‘Attitude, Belief & Determination.’ Well, the original of that is 1600 bucks, but fortunately there was a reissue which was 35 bucks. it's a happy day when that record arrives.

Do you have any advice for new collectors, who is just a fan and wants to experience a record and then there's others that are looking to get something of value.
Collectors looking to get something of value, that's a whole different world; they're not going to be reading this. The expensive records, you know, right. Like Blue Gas, the guy from Telephone Explosion was DJing, and I'm like, ‘What's this song?’ Of course, it's a 1984 Italian pop song [‘Shadows From Nowhere’] that’s like 380 bucks. But it's a killer track. It's one of those ones where, as soon as I hear it, like that Martin L Dumas track, you're like, ‘That's gonna be expensive.’ You just know when they're good tunes and they're rare records, the price is high.

Let's talk about your own bands and vinyl. Did hHead have have vinyl?
No, come on, we were not a very good band.

Yes, you were. I liked it. Would you sit around and at a party and put on a hHead cassette?
No. We never released vinyl.  Broken Social Scene, everything is available on vinyl.

Was that from the very first release?
We always did vinyl.

Must have been a fun experience, picking the art work, seeing the sleeve, even though you don’t care about liner notes, you said.
When I got the first Broken release on wax, yeah. It was great because that's the medium that I choose to buy.

There are so many people in your band, how do you all agree on artwork?
Not everyone weighs in on that shit.

Have you done anything cool, like coloured vinyl?
I don't really like coloured vinyl because you can't see the grooves. I just like plain old black records the way they were made. The only colored vinyl I like is a Little Simz record.

With your own work, Cookieduster, your solo stuff or Broken Social Scene, is there cover art you find particularly cool?
My solo record [2008’s Something For All Of Us…], it's pretty cool artwork. I'd say that's probably my favorite.

What went into it?
A woman named Juliana Neufeld who worked with Sarah Haywood, my partner at the time who was giving her the concept, just basically telling her what the inspiration was. And the inspiration was these reggae records. The artist was Tony McDermott. He did these album covers for Scientist, reggae producer. So there was Scientist Wins The World Cup, Scientist - Heavyweight Dub Champion, all fun album covers with cool little illustrations. So Juliana Neufeld just she's a great artist so she executed and made it her own and it depicts Draper Street where I still live.

Do you have a prized piece of vinyl?
I mean God, so many. It changes. So nothing in a protective case locked away? no, I'm not that I'm not that freaky. Maybe a Bobby Hutcherson record on Blue Note that I got [San Francisco]. It's not super expensive. I only paid 45 bucks for it. ‘A Night In Barcelona’ is the jam on this album.

What's your thought on young people who call it vinyls? I mean, you're mad at me for calling it vinyl (laugh), so what do you think of people that call it vinyl with an ‘S’?
I'm not here to give anyone a hard time, but that's incorrect obviously. It's funny because buying records now is more of an esteem thing. People come up say, ‘oh, well you're a real DJ; you're playing records.’ It's like, ‘No, I'm just older.’ I just happened to buy records when they weren't prohibitively expensive. They’re just records. There's millions of records out there. Some are good. Some are great. Some aren't so great.

Please check back for the next interview with Karen Bliss!

Article credit : Karen Bliss (Visit Karen on Instagram at @Karen.Bliss)

Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene

$49.00

Label: Arts & Crafts – A&C014

Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, GZ Media Pressing

Country: Canada

Produced: 2017

Genre: Rock

Style: Indie Rock

Condition: NM / NM
Vinyl is in near mint condition. Cover is in near mint condition. Labels are clean. Includes original inside sleeve. Records are ultrasonically restored and ready to enjoy.
View Details
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People

$38.00
Label: Arts & Crafts – A&C001
Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, GZ Media Pressing
Produced: 2017
Genre: Rock
Style: Indie Rock
Condition: NM- / NM-
Vinyl is in near mint condition. Cover is in near mint condition. Labels are clean. Includes original inside sleeve. Records are ultrasonically restored and ready to enjoy.
View Details

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