THE BEGINNING

It can be a mucky business, funding a life as a recording artist.

getting-to-know-you

The road to becoming a rock star is paved with odd jobs and moneymaking schemes. Eight musicians discuss their past and present positions of employment that have kept them in the game. 

Jack Cooper of Mazes
The Deckchair Attendant
“My first job also happens to be the best job I’ve ever had. I still have time to fix that but I don’t see it changing. I was a quiet kid at school but becoming a deckchair attendant on Blackpool promenade brought me out of myself. I’d sit in the sun all day, talking to girls and skimming deposits. It was bliss. Frank Carson and his wife got a chair off me on the same afternoon as Bill Bryson… that same week I saw someone killed by a tram. Life’s rich, fucked up tapestry. I quit when I got a job at the zoo.”

Laura Lloyd of No Joy
The Papergirl
“I have a great story about a job I had working in the porn industry. Unfortunately it’s still a little sensitive and I can’t really talk about it openly, so I will tell you about my first job. When I was 12 I had a paper route in small town Victoria, B.C. I would get up every morning at 4:30am and deliver The Times Colonist newspaper to all my neighbours’ houses. I remember getting my first paycheck of $86. I went straight to the bank and cashed it. As I was holding the money in my hands I remember saying to my mom, ‘This is the most amount of money I have ever held’; to this day that is still true. I quit that job when I started realising that getting up at 4:30am wasn’t worth the $86. Now I only get out of bed for $87.”

Patrick Doyle of Veronica Falls
The cab dispatcher
“When I was 14 I got a part time job at the local taxi firm, taking phone calls and dispatching cabs. The office was in a caravan at the end of my boss’s garden and they paid me £1.66 per hour. I remember thinking it was cool that you could smoke in the ‘office’, until half way through my first day when I somehow managed to set the curtains on fire. My boss walked in on me stamping on them, having just pulled them off the window. It was just the first impression I was looking to make.”

Ergo Phizmiz
The Teacher
“In my mid 20s I worked as a lecturer in music and visual art in a small franchise of a larger college. I lasted one year. The problem was the bosses – two brothers, one who had previously been involved in some kind of slave trade, and the other of who played jazz-funk-fusion saxophone. Not a winning combination. Before long the atmosphere turned into a Kafka-esque nightmare of paranoia. One problem was the installation of a surveillance system – two cameras, one in the corridor, one in the room where I worked. Eventually I began to deliver special treats for their delectation, my favourite of which was as follows: naughty students who didn’t finish their work on time, instead of being bawled at, would be obliged to perform solo dances to Myron Floren’s ‘Disco Accordion’ at the end of sessions, one after another. Needless to say, this and other shenanigans did not please Slave & Sax, and the job ended ingloriously with a swearing walk out. Then I went home and covered lots of Beyonce songs. And the rest isn’t history.”

Boom Bip of Neon Neon
The Store Clerk
“When I was 14 I worked as a stock boy for a shop called The Bluelick General Store owned by an elderly Christian lesbian couple. The store was a division of their home and most of their time was spent in the dining room watching The Golden Girls and Who’s the Boss while smoking cigarettes. The majority of what they sold was beer to the local factory workers and ice cream to their kids. They had a large refrigerator containing all of the beer to be stocked and I would sneak and take my first ever sips of beer. Years later I ended up taking one guitar lesson from one of the women and with a big smile she asked me what song I wanted to start with. I replied, ‘‘Fade to Black’ by Metallica.” Her response was, ‘let’s start with Amazing Grace’.”

Ra of Blue Hawaii and Braids
The Midnight Baker
“When I first moved to Montreal when I was 18, being an Anglo, it was next to impossible to find a decent job. I had many strange forms of employment, but my oddest job was being a midnight vegan baker, starting at 12am and going until 7am. I noticed that the girl who was training me had burns all over her arms – she later told me that at night to watch out for the oven as the outside of it gets hot and the floors can be rather slippery. I didn’t end up finishing that morning until 10am. When I got home, I remember flopping on my bed and bawling. I called the owner and quit, and, man, he was a fucking jerk, but I made sure to chase them up for the $40 cheque I would later receive. I wore my sunglasses in with a hoodie to pick it up. I still don’t really like baking vegan treats”

Jasamine White-Gluz of No Joy
The Modelling Agent
“I currently work as the senior booker at a high profile modelling agency in Montreal. My day-to-day routine includes booking models for major campaigns, editorials and runways. Over the years I have developed many skills, which include but are not limited to: being a really good judge of women’s hip sizes, being able to get someone out of jail for drug possession so they can make it to their photo shoot on time, being able to have girls work in Japan without becoming escorts and being able to hurt people’s feelings by judging them solely on their appearance.”

Gabriel Bruce
The all-rounder
“Making music does not pay rent. It’s a horrid disease that you’re willing to debase yourself for, like an addiction, I guess. It’s a habit that you have to work to support. For the last five years of my life this has been the one steady truth. I’ve sold old books, Christmas trees, scratched records, soiled clothes, beautiful furniture and fossilised dinosaur excrement. I’ve worked as an electrician, as a soundman, as a waiter, even briefly as a hand model. Tomorrow morning I will get up well before I’d like to and travel to west London so I can spend my Sunday preparing for and cleaning up after a child’s 5th birthday party at the toyshop I work in. The only autographs I’ve ever signed were accepting deliveries of rubber ducks and Hex Bugs. It comes with the territory. It’s what you have to do to support your filthy habit, even if every now and then you have to get punched in the dick by a seven-year-old all hyped up on birthday cake.”

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