29 July 2011

"The Standard Is High" :: The Province Reviews Sessions Vol. 1

He didn't intend to, but Mike Slater has become a symbol for what Sessions Volume One hoped to accomplish.

Sessions Volume One is a 10 song compilation album issued by the Harbourside recording school, which set up a label, HIT (Harbourside Institute of Technology), to issue it. By the time it comes to make Volume Two, HIT (and Slater) will have first hand experience at writing, recording, manufacturing, distributing and promoting an album. For his part, Slater wrote the three songs that start the record with his band, the heavy Slow Wave Saga and produced them. He was so encouraged by the experience that he's set up his own production company that can be reached at mikeslatermusic.com. This is exactly what instructor Maximum Music owner Brian Watson and HIT's Tony Rudner hoped. They wanted someone not only who could make music but to understand the business well enough to survive it.

"Since I was 10 or so, I wanted to be involved in music," Slater explains. He'd heard about Harbourside through the son of his mother's ex-boyfriend and was in the middle of developing the band when his opportunity as a student to participate in the sessions presented itself. "We were right at the perfect time."

Like most compilations it varies - from reggae, to christian pop to ambient instrumentals - but the standard is high and there only are 10 tracks which suggests some control was exercised and what went on the album didn't merely fit a theme.

"It's a reflection of the person in the class," Slater acknowledges. With only four or five students in each, the transition from creation to completion was smooth. "It could be more in sync but but then it wouldn't reflect the individual interests of the class."

Watson owns the Juno winning Maximum, which has diversified from jazz to country to Celtic punk to this. He was hired as an instructor but was inspired by what he heard. An idea that became Sessions Volume One started forming. HIT came under the Maximum umbrella, which in turn is distributed by EMI.

Watson likes Harbourside's "no flash attitude."

"The sessions albums are the most commercial things the school does. " he says.

"The reason the record is here is because of this guy here," Watson continues, pointing to Slater. "Mike gave me a song, I went to Tony Rudner and said, 'This is one song; if we dig further we can do this."

By: Tom Harrison

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