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interview

Sarah Morrison

Groovy Tunes Magazine / Exclaim!

Sarah Morrison is a Métis-Canadian editor, journalist, digital marketer, video producer, and musician. 

Morrison is the founder of Groovy Tunes Magazine, a multimedia music publication in Toronto, Canada, providing filmed interviews and live set footage, with the addition of written interviews and other articles for niche artists nationally and internationally. 

Outside of the magazine, Morrison continues to pursue other artistic avenues, such as video production using Super 8 cameras and songwriting. While not working on her independent material, Morrison participates in writing album reviews and interviews for Exclaim! Magazine. 

Sarah Morrison

Where are you based?

I’m currently based out of Toronto, ON

Where do you work? What do you do?

I run my own music magazine and video production platform Groovy Tunes Magazine as well as contribute to Exclaim! Magazine. Before the pandemic hit, I worked in the live UK music industry as a Digital Marketing Associate. During personal time I’ve started working on short films using a Super 8 camera.

What are you listening to?

Mostly I listen to a lot of 70s Arabic Disco, Funk, and Jazz, 60s Francophone, 70s/80s Disco Electronica, and a lot of 60s/70s/modern day Psychedelic/Surf Rock. Also anything Third Eye Stimuli from Aus are putting out! 

Majority of the time I pick music based on tones and themes in which best express my emotions at that given time. I really enjoy snooping for new music to add to my collection of playlists. I have one for every season of the year, different moods, musical eras, genres, and ones for when I hangout with specific friend groups.

How do you discover new music?

Most of the time it’s a complete accident. I enjoy the hunt and sort of use a lot of different digital music platforms as a main base. I like taking risks when hunting for something new, so there’s no method that I wouldn’t try. 

Reverberation Radio and Aquarium Drunkard are two key platforms that I find music through. There’s such a variety of music and culture that they present. I’ve found some of my favourite hidden gems through them. 

When it comes to finding modern-day subculture, most of my discoveries have come from word of mouth, press releases, or even promoters. I’m lucky to be immersed within a community that’s so supportive of one another’s creative ventures which makes discovering new talent very open.

“I’m lucky to be immersed within a community that’s so supportive of one another’s creative ventures which makes discovering new talent very open.”

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

At the moment, I have been relying on the use of Spotify and YouTube to listen to music. When lockdown started in early 2020, I became very invested in refreshing my mind with the music that I first felt connected with and building more knowledge on similar music styles and musicians. I’ve seen a growth within my tastes as well as the geographical location of the artists I listen to. 

When I’m at home and am looking for some tranquility, I’ll rely on the use of my vinyls. There’s a definite shift in atmosphere for every format you decide to use.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

Before the pandemic, the majority of my listening happened either at home, at work, or while commuting; I constantly had music playing. At the moment, my listening happens at home or while driving. I have a turntable in my room, have Spotify hooked up to my television, and I also have a projector in the common area.

“There’s a definite shift in atmosphere for every format you decide to use.”

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I’m very blessed to receive a lot of unreleased music through my inbox. Other than that I rely on a direct link to a publication posted on an artist’s social media.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Convenience has become an almost dangerous word. As a music fan, you will find Apple Music or Spotify a great asset to your daily life. But while you may find the benefits to these new technologies, others may be suffering because of them. 

Convenience is ultimately the largest benefit of listening to music digitally. We have access to a larger library of music, we can create playlists, listen to music whenever and wherever we go, and we are more alert to new music releases. Without moving a muscle or spending a dime, we’ve got access to such a vast pool of music on a continuous loop. 

But with this convenience comes hardship for those in the production chain. The lack of compensation that artists receive because of our demand for convenience is the greatest frustration. We have ultimately diminished the value of music, making it nearly impossible for an artist to live comfortably. We demand artists to work continuously to produce new music because of our selfish motives and yet have no compassion for the workload we’ve put on them. We’ve made a competitive market nearly impossible to break into unless lucky enough to have connections or qualify as an “influencer.” We’re then somehow shocked at the number of artists struggling to make ends meet and/or struggling with their mental health.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Honestly, Spotify has been really helpful with keeping me organized. I mentioned earlier that I have a large variety of playlists I’ve been cultivating over the past year and genuinely make a new one every two weeks. I also run a playlist through the Groovy Tunes Magazine Spotify channel that stays updated with all new music releases!

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

When a friend releases new music, I try to get the word out through all my personal social media channels. I guess I’m also lucky to run my own publication platform and use it as a main tool for sharing new releases, whether that be in the form of an interview or news.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Glove from Tampa, FL, are an act Shaun Couture (The Nude Party) and Ryan Lindsey (Broncho) put me in touch with in late 2019. They’ve been putting a lot of work into their debut album, and it isn’t one you’ll want to sleep on! Their new single drops April 21. 

Benjamin Clementine and his partner Flo Morrissey started a project under the name The Clementines in early 2020. They’ve only released one single as of yet but it’s not hard to imagine what these two dynamic writers will be coming out with.

Allah-Las, Mapache, PAINT, Molly Lewis, and Maston are five of my favourite acts from California. Beautifully structured music that I find a lot of comfort listening to. 

FRIGS, PACKS, Paul Jacobs, and Yoo Doo Right are all Canadian acts that have left lasting impressions on me. Luna Li, Deliluh, Tess Parks, and Pottery are all other impeccable treasures to check out. 

Lemongrab just moved to Berlin and have new music on the way. Das Beat, a Berlin-based new wave/dance act with ties to Canada, just released their first single and it’s a bop. 

Lastly, CLAMM from Melbourne, Australia, completely took me by surprise but released one of my favourite punk albums of the year. 

#HowWeListen 2021 Picks – a playlist by Byta, curated by all of 2021’s interviewees

"I like taking risks when hunting for something new, so there’s no method that I wouldn’t try."

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