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Vote in Vue Weekly’s Best Of 2017

We’re so fortunate to be part of Edmonton’s talented arts & music community. Vue Weekly’s Best of 2017 seeks to recognize the best in the city in so many categories. Last year, we were voted “Best Place to See Live Music” in the small venue category. This year they’ve included a mid size category, which captures us a bit better! 

Don’t forget to vote for other venues around town, too. Since we’re not so small comparatively, give some love to places like 9910, Bohemia or the Sewing Machine Factory! Where are those places? Time to get out and explore! Support local businesses wherever you can, sweet readers! 

Check out the survey here:



A Special Interview with Jacob Collier

When the Needle got a chance to speak with international jazz sensation, Jacob Collier, he was in New York playing a string of four shows around the state. Almost immediately, he let it slip that Edmonton may be his first Canadian show. The 22 year old multi-instrumentalist released an album last year recorded solely in his bedroom, aptly titled “In My Room.” He’s been hailed as ‘the future of music’ by several press outlets but was also a delight to speak with, openly answering each question with thought and care. Not to mention questions posed by our two Instagram buddies, Ty and Joselito.


Q: What have you heard about Edmonton? Do you have any expectations?

A: Everything I’ve heard about Edmonton involves great vibes and good people. Perhaps that’s something common to Canada. I’m very excited to poke my head around and see what’s going on around there.

Q: Will Edmonton be the first show you play in Canada, ever?

A: I can’t remember which was the first. I think it might be though.

Q: And you’re playing JazzFest, which is a special time of year for a lot of people here. So, what led you to that style of improvisation and discovery through music? What led you on that path?

A: Interesting. I was brought up on all different kinds of music. So things like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, as well as lots of classical music. I had this great big palette. I was on this diet of lots and lots of interesting music and I think that I started to play it all at once to try to figure out what my sound might be. I found myself improvising because in part, I think jazz, a lot of the time that’s how people express themselves. I didn’t see my musical world as needing to have boundaries as such, like I never thought I should be a jazz musician or a folk artist or something. I wanted to try to achieve this mixture of different things, having so many influences growing up. I fell in love with jazz at a very early age because I find the harmonies in jazz really thrilling and so a lot of the rhythm in jazz I find fascinating. But you know, I think nowadays the most interesting music coming out in jazz but also in other genres, are that they join different worlds together in a sense. Jazz mixed with folk or jazz mixed with rock or classical mixed with whatever. These blending of genres are what truly excite me.

Q: Within the same tangent, I was reading about your last album and how you created it without any boundaries, or at least, you had to impose boundaries on yourself within the creative process. With whatever you make next, do you think you’ll carry that same idea or method into what you create next?

A: Well this past album I created in my room on my own. Essentially a room in my house in London I grew up in. I think that anyone who’s ever done something on their own without someone telling them what to do has come up with an interesting process, like if I do everything I want to do, how am I gunna get started? What that needs is a bit of discipline around ideas and organization of time and things like that. It was an amazing time in my life, I was 21 at the time when that was made. I wanted to try to crystallize the feeling of being inside that room, which was so magical. I think moving forward it’ll definitely be part of that in the sense that I’m going to be producing and recording the instruments and I’ll be writing the music but I think it would make a lot of sense right now to work with other musicians in addition to that kind of self contained process. That’s kind of what music is all about!

Q: This leads us into the questions a few of our followers on social media had for you quite nicely. Ty asks, “When is the next #iharmu series out? Also, what’s the deal with your collaboration with Tori Kelly?”

A: [laughs] Good questions! So the #iharmu thing, I have a remainder of 80 melodies still to harmonize. And just to tell you about the campaign, this is how I funded the last album in my room. I got a certain number of people to sign up to a website called Patreon, which is sort of like a tipping service. So, every new song I release from the album, as they were released, they tipped a certain amount of money which they in turn received a little melody they sent me to harmonize. They are these 15 second melodies which I would harmonize mixed with lots of different changes in my voice, which I’m sort of known for. Singing several vocal parts at once. I think I’ve done about 60 so far. So, I’m touring a lot, but when I get home I think in August, that’s when I’ll get to the next bunch of those. I find them so much fun. As far as Tori is concerned, we were hanging out last week and making some music. It’s really excited and I can’t say anything concrete just yet but I’m very much hoping some of that is going to make it onto my next album. So stay tuned for that!

Q: Hopefully that satisfies Ty [laughs]. And Joselito asks, “Are there any theoretical concepts you haven’t tried yet when it comes to music? For example, non metered music.”

A: Right. There are always going to be more theoretical concepts to enjoy. I’ve always been a fan of seeing the ways music fits together and which ones resonate with me in terms of making music. Certainly there are whole parts of the world which I feel I haven’t explored, such as the Indian music tradition. It’s so rich. I feel like I’m a little baby when it comes to understanding their rhythmic language. I’m definitely excited to continue to learn. If it were my goal to find every single way of understanding music theory and implement it, I’d be missing a very important point about music, which is that it’s about joy. It’s about having fun and it’s about pushing yourself for sure, but also being emotional and being a human.

Q: So because you’re a human and you need rest and time away from work, in your rare downtime, what do you like to do to rebalance and reset the creative spark?

A: Good question. Right now, because my time is so wrapped up in touring, there’s not too much time to even create things, so the first thing I probably do when I get home is probably to create something. And of course it’s about replenishing the things I forgot to do while on tour like sleeping and eating. I’m also really close with my family who live in London, so it’s really nice to spend some time with those guys whenever I’m home. I love to write, I love to drink in books, I love to drink in films and drink in all sorts of things, but I know I’ve come down and balanced when I’m in that room creating music.

Q: Excellent. Is there anything else you would like to add ahead of your first appearance in Edmonton next week?

A: I’m really excited about coming to visit a place I’ve never been before. It’s really a treat to see new places in the world and I’ve heard such wonderful things about Canada. I can’t wait to meet you guys.

Tickets are still available for this incredibly cool show:

Staff Spotlight on Quin

We’re bringing back our monthly Staff Spotlight feature introducing you to some of the amazing people we get to work with every day! This month we’re highlighting one of our star security staff who has an extensive background working at venues like the Pawn Shop, the Starlite Room and more! You may have seen Quin’s smiling face around the Needle checking your ID at the door or making sure everyone is safe in the most pit. Just who is this woman and why does she love working at the Needle so much? 


What is the most memorable performance you’ve witnessed here so far?

Quin: Five Alarm Funk and CKY!

What’s the best part about working here?

Quin: The bands and music. I’ve been going to shows since I was 14. Hall shows and punk rock were my upbringing. Now I love seeing the glow of somebody who has just seen an amazing performance. That’s so special. My goal in doing this is to make this a safe space for people to enjoy music. I want this venue to be a comfortable and safe atmosphere. I’ve had too many bad experience with people at shows and I know what it’s like to get beer spilled all over me. I want others to feel like if that kind of thing happens, I’m here for you.

What do you do when you’re not working? 

Quin: I read tarot cards. I’m here to help the earth and part of that is offering this gift. I read tarot in markets or privately!

What is your favourite animal?

Quin: Kitties! Kitties! Kitties! (and crows)

What’s your dream life?

Quin: I want to live on an acreage and run an animal rescue.

You’re stranded on a desert island. Everything you need for survival is provided. Which additional three items would you choose to be with you on this island?

Quin: High SPF sunscreen, a hammock and my tarot cards.

Yelp’s Wild Thing Burger

Unlike that memorable (and raunchy) South Park episode poking fun at Yelp, we’re actually on great terms with the corporation best known for publishing crowd-sourced reviews! Such great terms that we’re launching a special burger this weekend to celebrate our partnership! 


Introducing Yelp’s Wild Thing burger: 14 oz of ground beef stuffed with Gouda cheese topped with Black Forest ham, BBQ aioli and onion rings with lettuce, tomato and red onion served on a giant Kaiser bun! 

Available June 17th – 30th, this luscious creation is brought to you by our fabulous kitchen and our pals at Yelp Edmonton.

With a Yelp Check-in, this bad boy is just $12.

If you really ned extra titillating, here’s a saucy video of one of our bartenders, Johnny, chowing down on the Wild Thing!



An Interview with Heart Beach

The most exciting feeling is finding out about a new band who you can’t stop listening to. Right now we’re into Heart Beach, a band pieced together from far away bits of the planet, mashed together in mellow riffs, quiet, gentle vocals and a tinge of melancholy. We got in touch with Heart Beach ahead of their free & all ages show this Saturday with Borscht and learned about their tour must haves, their take on the Canadian music scene and more!


Q: Who are you?

A: Heart Beach. An indie-pop band from Hobart, Tasmania. Claire (vocals/bass), Jon (vocals/guitar) and drummer Jaq from Dundee, Scotland.

Q: Your music is described as “sad girl-guy 9to5 pop songs.” What do you listen to to inspire such a “genre?”

A: We listen to all sorts. Lots of classics like Talking Heads, Joy Division, Gang of Four, Pixies, the Breeders, Jesus and Mary Chain, Roland S. Howard, PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Dirty Three, Nick Cave. But also a lot of recent releases, especially from Australia such as Sarah Mary Chadwick, Treehouse, Kitchens Floor, Unity Floors, Dick Diver, Twerps), and Scotland (Honey Blood, We Were Promised Jetpacks). The genre is also influenced by the fact we all worked full time office jobs for the longest time.

Q: What’s the one thing you can never live without while on tour?

A:  That’s tricky. We’ve been on tour a lot lately! Beers, a rotation of drivers, beds to sleep in, lots of merch to sell at shows. Clean socks? I don’t know. I actually think it’s more the random stuff that happens. For instance, we all saw our first bear in the wild today. It was just sitting on the side of the highway!

Q: In a recent article in BeatRoute, it was alluded to that you’ve essentially ditched Tasmania to explore different audiences. Where is your home base these days?

A:  Oh that quote was taken way out of context. We love Tasmania, and recommend everyone visit, soon! It’s a golden island with an excellent music scene plus a private museum themed on sex and death built into the shores of the Derwent River in Hobart.  Heart Beach relocated to Canada for 2017-18 to be closer to North American touring routes. Our base is Montreal but we’ve been on the road a lot.

Q: In that same interview, you also playfully mentioned your music is brash compared to the politeness of Canadian bands. Since being here a little while longer now, has that opinion changed? If not, could you elaborate on that statement?

A: What we’ve noticed is that the current trend of Australian indie pop is distinctly more abrasive than a lot of the Canadian music we’ve seen. I think the two have the chance to inform each other in really great ways and I love coming across new music in each city and town we play. So far we’ve caught some fantastic bands across Canada, in both major cities and smaller towns. The standard for indie music in Canada and Australia is incredibly high.

Q: You’re playing Sled Island! The most sacred time of year for a lot of folks around these parts. If you have played Sled before, what’s one of your wildest memories? Alternatively, if this is your first time playing, what do you think you’d be telling us on the other side of the festival?

A: It’s our first time!! Can’t wait! I have only heard good things about the festival, and as a band from the other side of the globe it’s an honour to be part of such an institution as Sled. We love festivals. Once we played outdoors at Camp A Low Hum in New Zealand. It started to rain mid-set so the audience joined us on stage, squeezing in around the amps to watch us finish. I can only imagine the stories we’ll tell post Sled.

Q: What’s next for Heart Beach?

A: We’re on tour until mid-July. Then we’re planning on recording our next album at a Montreal studio in late August or September before we fly back to Australia for a string of dates in November and December. Heart Beach will be back in Montreal from mid January with plans for more touring in Canada and the US.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Thanks so much for the interview! We love receiving band and venue recommendations. If anyone wants to get in touch, look us up on Facebook or send and email to


Join Heart Beach and local songstress Borscht for a free matinee Saturday, June 17th. Remember we’re all ages until 9pm everyday! Come hang out. 

Peep the Facebook event here:

Jam Space of the Month – Whale and the Wolf

Edmonton’s own self proclaimed “erotic rockers” Whale and the Wolf are prowling across the prairies with a new single. The foursome recently released “Touch,” a radio friendly rock anthem, which could arguably be described as showcasing their softer side. Utilizing synth, bouncy guitars and more mature story telling, Whale and the Wolf are on track for big things. Not only is their new single full of big hooks and sexy riffs, but they’re some of the funniest people around. When the Needle asked for a sneak peek into their jam space, we weren’t bargaining for this many chuckles. Check it out! 


“We see singer Ryan mere seconds before trying to decapitate himself with a tambourine. It’s a really cool party trick if you do it right.”


“We see drummer Joel inspecting an off colour mole on his arm. This may require a trip to the dermatologist. Fingers crossed for no melanoma!”


“Bassist Lucas is instructing drummer Joel on the benefits of good posture. No future back problems for this band!”


“Obligatory 3D picture of a wolf, flanked by an actual hand crafted wolf carved for the purpose of being sold at San Fransisco novelty Shops across Canada. R.I.P.”


“Pedal board and dry erase marker board for set list. Hot tip: new felt markers don’t make you as light headed as the ones from the 90’s.”


“Singer Ryan’s guitar. He made all those markings on his guitar with his car keys to give the perception that he plays it a lot. He bought that guitar brand new last Tuesday.”


“Gig posters of bands we wish we were as good as. The windows to our jam space were stolen from the change room of a local public swimming pool near you.”


“An antique canteen style vacuum cleaner from the 80’s. Still runs, needs some work. For sale on Kijiji. $4,367.00 OBO.”


“Guitarist Brandon swiping right on Christian Mingle.”


“Satanic Goat Head.”


“Bassist Lucas asks ‘Can we smoke in here?’ at every practice. The answer is always ‘no,’ but he’s very persistent. Admirable.”


“$6 music stand with broken leg that falls over and spills paper on floor at least one time each practice. Could we fix it? Yes. Will we? Meh. Note: top sheet has lyrics to “Wagon Wheel” on it. Cool, right?”


“Real stuffed baby tiger from Malaysia. Comes to life at night and eats spent 9 volt batteries. Strobe light. Handsome foot. CSA approved home made foot switch that definitely meets safety standard and regulations.”


“CSA approved home made foot switch that definitely meets safety standard and regulations in action.”


“Gig posters of bands we like and shows we’ve seen.”


“Close up of bands we like and shows we’ve seen. Note: we like every band featured in this picture except one. Can you guess which one?”


“Brandon replying to match he made on Christian Mingle. Love at first swipe.”

Catch Whale and the Wolf Saturday, June 10th with The Unfortunates and Kickupafuss! Tickets are available below.



An Interview with Nature Of

Local indie darlings, Nature Of, have recently released their latest effort “Cherish” and are gearing up for the release party Saturday, May 27th! The new album is polished, gorgeous and mature; a subtle step up from 2014’s Self Titled offering which saw the band developing those qualities. The four piece took the time to answer a few questions for us about the new album, touring essentials and more!



Q: Tell us about the new album “Cherish.” Did you change anything about your approach to making music to create this record?

A: Cherish is simply the accumulation of songs that we feel made the cut form our last three years of writing. Nothing really changed in the writing process, aside from the fact there was a conscious effort in crafting an album this time around.

Q: It’s been out for about a month now. What has the response been like?

A: The response has been positive. Up to this point, Cherish has been an online release, so we are looking forward to having physical albums, playing shows, and engaging with audiences in live settings.

Q: What are some things you cherish?

A: We cherish our morning coffee’s, the office and fish tacos. But beyond that we cherish the time we get to spend with each other making music and seeing the country while sharing it.

Q: As for your upcoming tour, what are some must haves on the road? Certain albums? Socks? Snacks? How do you make yourself comfortable while out on the road for long periods of time?

A: This will be our longest tour yet, but in the past a big part of staying sane has been skateboarding. It’s the perfect outlet to break up long drives, and release any stresses of the trip. We seem to tour a lot in the winter so this time we plan to take full advantage of the summer months. The albums we listen to are usually chosen by the driver, luckily we all have overlapping music tastes so we’re all usually pretty happy. We plan to eat as healthy as possibly and try to keep the gas station meals to a minimum.. we are very optimistic.

Q: What’s next for Nature Of post tour?

A: Firstly, we’ll need a shower. After that we hope to continue writing music and to begin working on album number 3!

Catch Nature Of with the Velveteins and Bedside this Saturday! Pick up your tickets below:

Sled Island Giveaway: Sponsored by Steam Whistle Pilsner


Our friends at Steam Whistle Pilsner have been very generous to set up one hell of a summer music festival giveaway! One of our favourite indie music & arts festivals, Sled Island is coming up June 21st – June 25th in Calgary and we’d love to send you and a pal!

Between now and June 16th, anytime you’re in the venue enjoying a pint of bottle of Steam Whistle Pilsner we’ll give you a ballot to win TWO FULL FESTIVAL PASSES AND TWO NIGHTS ACCOMODATIONS in Calgary for Sled Island.

We’re also rewarding our VIP Newsletter Subscribers with extra ballots! If you’re a subscriber, show your server or bartender a copy of the newsletter on your phone (or computer if you have it) and we’ll give you three extra ballots for a total of four! Pretty sweet, right?

We’ll contact the winner on June 17th so you have a bit of time to plan out your adventure to Sled Island!!

What is Sled Island? In short, a fun time where new friends are made, new favourite bands are discovered and it becomes possible, if only for a short time, to eat Tubby Dog for breakfast everyday without consequences.

Find out more here, including the line up, FAQ’s and more!

An Interview with the Raygun Cowboys

One of Edmonton’s longest running cyber, pyschobilly bands The Raygun Cowboys are back with their new album Cowboy Code and are prepared to set the Needle Vinyl Tavern ablaze with their Danzig infused punk country tunes this Friday!

We caught up briefly with singer/guitarist Jon Chris before their show to find out more about the record and what’s on the horizon for the Cowboys!


TN: What is the Cowboy Code?

JC: The cowboy code is an issue joke in the band. We had a saying about 10 years ago that we would cheers to before shows and it was really stupid. Hahaha. “Drink triple, see double, act single”

TN:  During our last interview (in BeatRoute) before the last album, “Heads Are Gunna Roll,” you had mentioned that the band was finally starting to sound the way you wanted it to. Do you think you’ve gone even closer in that direction with this new release?

JC: I think with this album we really found our sound; I’m really happy with the turn out. The writing process for me was similar to Heads are Gunna Roll, but I was able to spend more time in the country writing so I was able to develop the songs more before bringing them to the band.

TN: What’s ahead for the Raygun Cowboys? Plans for the summer?

JC: We are touring Europe in the Fall so we are really excited for that, we can’t wait to go over there and play, it’s an exciting time.

TN: Also, what was it like touring with SNFU last year? Those guys are legends!

JC: Touring with SNFU was great, I learned a lot from those guys and I was able to sing cannibal Cafe every night so I loved it!

Catch the Raygun Cowboys performing their new album The Cowboy Code live Friday night with The Real Sickies, The Gutterdemons and The Devil’s Sons. Get your tickets here:

Jam Space of the Month: The Hearts

Edmonton’s Indie rock darlings, the Hearts hit the Needle’s stage this Thursday with Post Script and Northern Beauties. If you haven’t heard the Hearts before, expect spatial, retro folk blasts and tons of romantic imagery. They perform with a lot of heart, as their name suggests!

If you’re not into mosh pits and enjoy sitting down to enjoy live music, they infuse just the right amount of rock n’ roll to make sure you still feel like a badass at their show.

Jeff Stuart of the Hearts was kind enough to snap a few shots of their jam space for us to see where all of their creative juices flow. Check out the shots below taken by the talented Dwayne Martineau!

It’s a cozy, but functional and inspiring little space just below street level somewhere in Edmonton.  The space was renovated specifically to serve as a writing, rehearsing and (sometimes) recording space.
You’ll see some unique looking gear in some of the pictures. That’s because our guitar player, Gavin Dunn is also a tech – when he’s not repairing instruments and gear at Acoustic Music Shop, he likes to repair and custom build amps and pedals. The twin red ‘Silvertone’ guitars have an interesting history.  Gavin found one of those in the trash, rescued it, fixed it up and customized it. Years later he stumbled across the other one you see in the picture. He bought it on the spot as a back-up because it was the only other time he had come across another one like it.
You’ll also notice the classic Casio SK-1 – the worlds cheapest sampling synth. An uncle or auntie of mine bougt it for me as a toy when I was a child and I managed to hold onto it over the years. Dwayne (Martineau) was putting some keyboard tracks down on one of our earlier albums, and he incorporated one of the sounds from the SK-1 essentially as a joke. We ended up leaving it on the track, and now it’s become a regular part of Dwayne’s arsenal.
We like to use the white-board to map out ideas for song structures and chord changes. Right now we’re working through some new ideas and material for an upcoming EP, which will likely drop before the end of this year.

Check out the Hearts Thursday night! Pick up your advance tickets here: