Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Bumping into... Kevin Hainey

Bumping Into... is a series of mini-chats with a variety of peeps that you might run into in some of our local music communities. (There's a bit of an intro and my thoughts behind the series here.)

How are you? Where are you?

I'm doing alright! Today, for a change, I'm at home relaxing with Sarah and the cats. Our place is around St. Clair & Christie in Toronto. It's the last day of my Christmas long weekend, so I've set aside some things to take care of, like this chat!

What have you been up to since March or so?

Well, as we all know everything changed in March. When the pandemic struck, I became instantly overwhelmed with work. I had just gotten through the always insane Christmas season at Canada Post (where I'm your average Postman Pat), when it all came back with a vengeance. Not only was it mind-boggling having to visit something like 500 homes a day, during a time when you're not even supposed to leave your own, but the amount of parcels we were dealing with made Christmas look like a walk in the park. I was finding myself doing overtime most days, and we went back to a 6-day week schedule.

On top of this, my Discogs seller profile started bringing in way more orders than usual. I think in March, or maybe April, I brought in more than $800 in sales from my collection, whereas most months it's more like $100-$200. You might not think wrapping up a few CDs or records can be time consuming, but when you factor it all in, there is a lot of handling time involved with shipping.

Things lightened up a little bit over the summer on the work fronts, and Outliers (my recording project with Sarah) has kept me creatively fulfilled in lieu of our locked down social lives. We worked really hard to craft some free EPs that came out over the summer, and an LP that we just released a month ago, along with the new LP by Reynols, which has been another fulfilling project to be involved with.

So, in a nutshell, I've had a lot of gruelling work and self-fulfillment going on, which seems strange at a time when most people are being forced to stunt and limit and even fear their days. I'm nothing short of thankful for it all, that's without a doubt.

Have you found any new ways to do old things? How are you feeling about the shifts in how music is being made/shared/listened to?

I've been finding all kinds of new ways to do old things. I recently took a free course through the Toronto Library that advises writers how to shop their novels to publishers, and found out I've been making some glaring mistakes, which isn't surprising.

When it comes to creating sounds, I've always been a bass guitarist first, and a drummer second. I've never felt comfortable with keyboards, synthesizers, effects, or much in the ways of technology and gear. I'm mainly a rhythm guy, when I'm not aiming to deconstruct some sort of sound or musical idea. My partner, Sarah, however, had a collection of Casio keyboards and some synthesizers lying around, so as we began the recording project that evolved into Outliers, I found myself warming up to the keys for the first time. 20 hours of recordings later, I still don't know what I'm doing, but I'm definitely getting better at creating melodies that don't make me cringe.

And then there's Outlier Communications, our new record label. This time around, it's going to be more like a record or two a year at most, unless we can acquire arts grants to help us, which we'll definitely be looking into next year. When I ran Inyrdisk it was more about providing an open ended platform for the thriving experimental scene of the day, both local and international, and doing an average of one release every month, but with Outlier Communications it's clearly set on simply supporting our own Outliers project, while keeping the lines open to doing the occasional outside release, like Reynols, when it's possible.

As we all know, vinyl is more expensive than ever to produce, which raises consumer prices to what they are today. I miss the days of $15 Drag City records, but now they're $35, so what can you do? I've certainly become more choosy about the new releases I buy, and only get the ones I feel like I can't live without--- which is still quite a few, of course. I'm an obsessive collector and have been since I was a little kid, so I'm always buying and selling this or that. I try not to listen to too much music online, because the sound quality of computer speakers is so crappy, but I love to discover new releases and check them out online. I'd like to think I'm using the internet as a tool instead of engaging with it as a platform, but I'm as lost as anyone else in this digital swamp.

Any works of art that have been a light for you in these times? Anything that's just been a good diversion?

Releasing the new Reynols album, Gona Rubian Ranesa, has been a great diversion. Seeing enthusiasm and praise for it come from all corners of the world, knowing that people love that record as much as we do, it's become a real light in our lives.

These days, when I've had some time to get into a book, which is admittedly rare, it's been by a Raymond, like Chandler or Carver, maybe Cormac McCarthy, Colin Wilson, or Michel Houellebecq.

We binge a lot of TV shows when the day is done. I'm a bit picky and we both have high standards, but having Rupaul's Drag Race and all of its offshoots playing often on repeat has certainly brought a lot of colour into our lives during this dark year.

We enjoy true crime stuff, but we also appreciate good storytelling, so not all of the shows out there are very watchable for us. Forensic Files certainly sets a high bar, in our opinion. Lately, Sarah's digging The Larry Sanders Show, and it's one of my favourites, so we've been watching a lot of that during dinner, or before we hit the hay.

"Nate: A One Man Show," a gender-bending comedy special on Netflix, really took me out of my head and showed me a new light. That's just cracking the surface, really. We are culture junkies.

How are you feeling about 2021?

Like the rest of the world, I'm hopeful that Covid-19 lightens up and things can go back to something approaching normal. I'm also hopeful we can see the middle west stabilized, because the world's biggest problem is no longer stabilizing the turmoil in the middle east, it's stabilizing the turmoil in the middle west, the USA. The terror they are facing is unprecedented and entirely self-inflicted. I'd like to see some healing going on down there.

Anything else we'd chat about if we bumped into each other?

How sad it is that the music scene we love so dearly has been shut down for almost a year... Will live bands survive not having an outlet? Who has this been affecting the most? A lot of these questions we'd ask each other can't really be answered right now. This is a real period of transition for the world.

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