Why Petra Glynt Rules by Jonny Dovercourt (2014)

 In Why This Rules

Petra GlyntPetra Glynt rules because she’s what I like to call a Total Artist. What’s a Total Artist? The real deal. The whole package. The hype to be believed. Alexandra MacKenzie is insanely talented, and pretty much everything she touches turns to gold, but thankfully she’s too humble to let it go to her head. With Petra Glynt, her electro-psych-pop solo project, she drums, sings, writes lyrics, composes and programs electronics.

She has a huge, operatically trained voice that belies her small physical size, and cuts through the psychedelic haze of her instrumentation with commanding presence. Petra Glynt’s music, as heard on their addictive five-song cassette EP Of This Land, released by Toronto’s Healing Power Records (read my label review for Musicworks Magazine here!) is that rare combination: it’s irresistibly danceable while also taking you on an experimental sound journey or head trip. But no hippie freakouts necessary, thanks.

Petra Glynt might be her turn in the spotlight, but she’s been in lots of other collaborative projects in the Toronto DIY scene, including drum punk duo Romo Roto (with Tomas del Baiso, ex-DD/MM/YYYY), art-rock duo Wet Nurse (with Rebecca Fin) and garage-punk band Machetes and Dentata. She’s also part of the percussion-driven protest-music project Pachamama, a collab with her current partner, Brandon Valdivia (also of Not The Wind, Not The Flag).

Alex is also one of our most talented young visual artists. Her paintings are phastasmagorical journeys into fantasy worlds and parallel dimensions where our consumer culture and colonialist impulse is devoured and regurgitated into something disturbingly beautiful. Her installations, similarly are small Temporary Autonomous Zones where glitter and garbage come together to create space that is similarly liberating and thought-provoking about the state of contemporary society. As a Total Artist, Alex is driven by political concerns, especially with regards to indigenous people’s rights, environmental degradation and economic sustainability.

Alex MacKenzie rules because the quality and quantity of her work speaks to the strength of the DIY arts community in Canada. Here’s a story: this morning, I had the displeasure of starting my day by clicking on a link a friend shared on Facebook that took me to an article on Noisey (Vice Magazine’s music blog) entitled “A British Guy and an American Guy Tried to Explain Music to Each Other.” Consisting, as the title suggested, of a conversation between two bloggers on either side of the pond, the piece was equally entertaining and abhorrent (and mostly incomprehensible to me when they talked about “EDM”) but it contained a juicy, telling quote from the Brit:
“One thing that always surprises me about the US is that it’s still seems cool to be in an unsuccessful – or as you guys would call it ‘underground’ – band. In the UK, if you’re in a shitty band with limited 7” releases and a Bandcamp page that Kim Gordon once tweeted about, everyone just thinks you should give up on your dreams and get a proper job.” Isn’t it telling that Britain hasn’t produced a decent new band in the last five years, with the exception of Micachu & the Shapes? I’m totally open to being proven wrong on this, but a friend who spent time working in the music biz in London told me, “there is no DIY scene there.” Everyone is either trying to become the next Oasis, or part of the academic, arts-council-funded experimental music scene. There is no middle ground.

Canada, being culturally closer to the US, but with grants and healthcare instead of guns and foreclosures, has a strong DIY scene that produces Total Artists like Petra Glynt. And we don’t care if it’s cool or not. Alexandra herself summed up her musical ethos quite nicely in an interview for BlogTO, so I’ll let her have the last word on why she rules:
“I’m sick of music that doesn’t promote anything valuable, that prefers not to challenge things in music and also in the system/society we live in. Things like decolonization, deforestation, indigenous rights or workers’ rights but in the context of really celebratory, good vibes music. I feel that community gets lost in cities, and communities are groups that have the power to make change. There’s too much hustling happening to get together sometimes, and sometimes music can be a very unifying thing.”

Petra Glynt plays on Friday April 11th with DIANA, Manatee, and Adverteyes at the eBar for a Wavelength co-presented show.

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