By Sara Hanson
Every music guru loves the feeling of discovering a new band none of their friends have heard of. There is something uniquely satisfying about being the first person to explore the sound map of fresh talent, but this process is even more satisfying when your friends can’t stop talking about that new band you discovered.
However, sometimes a band might make an album that seems just too good to be true, and you don’t want to share their music with anyone. You want a personal music world only you can escape to, so you keep this new discovery as your own little secret. While their name might state otherwise, Calgary’s Secret Broadcast doesn’t want to be your little music secret. Instead, they want to be that band you just can’t stop talking about.
After six years and almost 100 unsuccessful jam sessions with musicians in Toronto, Secret Broadcast guitarist Matt Lightstone still didn’t have members for the band he desperately wanted. Lightstone soon found himself moving to Calgary for personal reasons, where—after placing an ad in FFWD—he finally found his musical counterparts. Although finding musicians to match his eclectic style was easy, Lightstone explains that finding an audience in Calgary to embrace the band’s music has been a little more challenging.
“I think there has been a little bit of resistance to the fact that we are different,” says Lightstone. “I think slowly, people are starting to take ownership. It was a gradual process, but at first it was like ‘you don’t fit into the Calgary music scene.’ There were people that actually told us that we don’t sound like Calgary bands. I thought that was kind of weird because if you want to be a unique city, you should just play whatever you want to play. You don’t all want to sound a certain way.”
While finding a niche in Calgary’s growing music scene hasn’t been easy for Secret Broadcast, their music isn’t as much of a secret on the other end of the country, as they were invited to play Toronto’s North by Northeast music festival in Jun. with only a basement recording under their belts. Following their NXNE performance, the band received offers from a few record labels, however, they decided to release their debut EP completely on their own—perhaps out of respect for the musical paradigm which originally influenced their name.
“I think we are aware of how much music has to do with image,” says Lightstone. “So for us, [the band’s name] was almost a joke, as in being part of the elite group that gets to hear us—kind of a play on the indie scene which we definitely support. There wasn’t really any defined meaning. A lot of
the times you hear band names to which there is no meaning, but at the time it seemed kind of fitting.”
Despite admitting to being part of the elite indie scene, Lightstone is hardly elitist when it comes to picking an exposure medium for the band. Instead, he just wants as many opportunities as possible for music listeners to decide for themselves whether or not they like the band’s music.
“Right now, if the country station played us, although they wouldn’t, I’d be happy,” says Lightstone. “At this point we are just trying to get out there. Since we were taking a loss on our CDs, it’s great [to be played on X92]. Whether I support community or commercial [radio], I really have no preference. If someone takes a side, they are basically just saying it’s kind of like a clique, but I’m just a fan of music so I really don’t care.”
As good secrets are often the hardest ones to keep, time will only tell if this trio will find their place in Calgary’s scene. For now, Secret Broadcast’s success is still a secret, even to them.