by Gillian Francis
Rachel Weldon named Debaser after a Pixie’s song she found while scrolling through her iPod. Debaser started as a CKCU FM radio show that gradually grew to become a local promoter of under-recognized acts in Ottawa’s music scene.
Weldon and her partner Emily McQuarrie are planning to make a few major alterations to Debaser starting this fall, including changing the status of the organization and restoring an old show.
Debaser curates events regularly that showcase local bands. The organization also focuses on putting underrepresented genders on stage, such as women and people who are a part of the LGBTQ spectrum.
“Part of our goal in putting underrepresented folks on stage is to help other folks to be inspired. They see themselves in the person on stage and they picture themselves as performers. You know, they look like you,” Weldon said.
As a part of this goal, Debaser collaborates with other local collectives such as Babely Shades, an organization that aids in assisting individuals of colour within the artistic industry. Debaser and Babely Shades collaborate to show how seemingly progressive punk spaces are reinforcing the same hierarchy and marginalization seen across the music industry as a whole.
“They are incredible. They have done some of the most challenging and selfless work and I know it’s been so hard on their collective and them personally. It’s very emotional work and thank goodness for them,” Weldon said. “They were pretty much the first people to call us out on not really considering the erasure of colour in the music scene and it’s always difficult to receive criticism but it’s so essential.”
Debaser was not always an organization. It had its humble beginnings as a radio show. Weldon said she first broadcast the show through CKCU FM 93.1 for the first time in October 2012.
Shortly after this, McQuarrie joined through her connection with Weird Canada, a blog for emerging and experimental Canadian musicians and artists.
“The executive director at Weird Canada, Marie Flanagan, sent an email and was like ‘You both are interested in doing shows in Ottawa. You should connect,’” Weldon said. “So we did our first show together—probably it was in May 2013.”
McQuarrie said Weird Canada inspired her to get involved with Debaser and helped her build it into the organization it is today. The excitement she felt for the music industry, the community, and for interacting with people is what McQuarrie said pushed her to be involved music. Continue reading