Mixing Music & Media With Halifax DJ/Promoter Jami Gaudet
Jami Gaudet proudly shows off the shiny green stack of tickets he just picked up from Ticket Pro. They’re for his upcoming show at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax. Gaudet will be selling the tickets for the show where he himself will perform, as well as other musicians that he promotes.
A life-long musician, Gaudet has taken his passion and turned it into something tangible. He’s also the founder of the new media music blog Sunken Sounds, as well as the DJ duo Wet Paint. Gaudet creates art, and promotes the art that other’s create. He is 24 years old.
Gaudet’s days are busy. He’s a communications assistant at Dalhousie University, and spends the rest of his time working on his art. He says he started the music blog Sunken Sounds in his first year of university in 2010 (a blog which, according to Sunken-Sounds.com, aims “to aggregate the most recent in many different genres including but, not limited to, hip-hop, RnB/soul, electronic music, indie rock, etc.”) While originally just a Tumblr, the website grew as he dedicated more time to it and built connections in the music industry.
“I wanted to establish kind of a brand, and take it in more interesting directions, so we began looking into putting on shows,” says Gaudet.
When he says “we” he means himself and the contributors to the blog, made up of people from both Halifax and the United States.
“We’re always looking for new different projects and ways to expand, and collaborate and things like that,” says Gaudet. He started Sunken Sounds so he could have a brand under which he could help other artists.
Originally from Hammonds Plains, N.S., Gaudet graduated in April 2014 from NSCAD University with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, focusing on multimedia. He took a mixture of graphic design, video, and audio. His talent in blog writing and artist promotion is self-taught. The blog started small, and grew naturally as musicians began to notice Sunken Sounds, he says. “I think that it’s like any project, it kind of grows exponentially as you go. You know in the beginning it was kind of slow and then it just got faster and faster because you know, awareness just breeds more awareness.”
Over the past few years, Sunken Sounds has developed a sizeable following of musicians, says Gaudet. “A lot of artists and agencies will reach out to me because they want to be written about. I’ll look through [my e-mails] and find people that I want to work with, and that’s usually how I make some of my connections.” Gaudet says around 4,000 people per month read Sunken Sounds, most coming from the United States, about a third are from Canada, and some from other countries around the world.
Sunken Sounds has more recently taken on all-encompassing artist development management, says Gaudet. For example, if an artist was going to put out an album, he would then secure a premiere through a big blog, do the art for the album, send the word out through his contacts, and follow up. “It’s a nice tool for artists because it’s like a platform that they can jump off of,” he says.
Sunken Sounds just finished a campaign with a Prince Edward Island DJ Whaleskin. Gaudet says what he likes the most about Whaleskin is that he uses a lot of local artists’ materials in his remixes. Gaudet wrote a review of Whaleskin on Sunken Sounds, promotes his music, and gets his songs played on other blogs, including the Hype Machine Charts.
The Hype Machine is a blog that takes submissions from other blogs of their choice, and puts them into charts and a voting system- similar to Reddit, but for music. Gaudet says the website is selective, making Sunken Sounds more valuable to artists for being chosen. He says they get about 25 percent of their traffic from The Hype Machine.
Gaudet doesn’t just promote artists, but is also one himself. Wet Paint samples soul music and puts electronic beats over them. Last year, Wet Paint played shows in Halifax with Whaleskin, using their name along with Sunken Sounds to build up the hype around Whaleskin’s talent.
Gaudet and Wet Paint’s other member, Dan Shanahan, nod their heads along with the beat as they play and talk about a track they’re working on. Their studio is a small room in Gaudet’s apartment in the north-end Halifax, set up with a large computer screen connected to a laptop, and a small keyboard.
Shanahan says their creative process is a mix between working on a track together and each doing their own tracks and then collaborating. “We both have different styles, but they kind of come together, says Shanahan. “[Gaudet] has this more R&B style, where as I have more of like a funk, hip-hop, but it all like comes together pretty well.”
Gaudet says he started Wet Paint while living in Montreal, and it was after moving back to Halifax that he added Shanahan. After playing Nova Scotia’s Evolve music festival solo, a friend of his recommended Shanahan, a fellow electronic music maker from Hammonds Plains. “It’s more fun and it’s more productive,” says Gaudet, about turning Wet Paint into a duo.
While they both consider themselves musicians and producers, Shanahan says Gaudet is the expert when it comes to any kind of PR. All the art, connections, and “internet-ing” is what Gaudet does best, and he’s really good at it, says Shanahan.
When they perform live, Shanahan plays guitar while Gaudet DJs, and this year they are adding more live instruments into the mix. Wet Paint are now moving towards tour opportunities in the U.S. “So it seems like it’s all kind of boiling down to where we want it to go,” says Gaudet. When asked if he’s in it for the long haul, Shanahan says “I’d like to take this as far as possible.”