Musician draws on his Capilano cohorts to make sweet sounds

Some of best times I’ve ever had playing or seeing music have been in living rooms. There is something about a big, open, comfortable space that is conducive to making great music. And when you can stand inches behind a drummer who is really digging in, it makes for an experience unlike any other. A Ghost To Kill Again’s inaugural show at the Vancity Culture Lab was like being on a really sweet sofa, and having your mind blown watching a wicked band.

The Culture Lab is just one result of the 14 million dollar renovation of The Cultch. Once known as the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, The Cultch has been a hub of artistic endeavor for 36 years. Among the many changes is the introduction of the Curators-In-Residence, a program that is “making the Lab available to young artists making waves in Vancouver”.

Aaron Joyce isn’t just making waves, he’s tsunamiing your ass. As the first to helm the new series at the Cultch, Aaron and his band A Ghost To Kill Again really broke in the new room with their modern take on Prog Rock. Although Joyce isn’t consciously trying to channel bands such as King Crimson, Yes, or 70’s Frank Zappa, the result of his “wanting to make a new music record that happened to be in the guise of a rock band” definitely owes much to those caped and bell-bottomed hair farmers. Joyce is drawing from the same pools of inspiration as the progressive rock bands before him, incorporating elements of classical and world music, as well as jazz improvisation.

Accompanying Mr. Joyce were his long time associates and compadres, Alvaro Rojas on lead guitar, Cory Curtis on bass, and Sam Cartwright on drums. The band formed during their tenure at Cap’s jazz program. Aaron’s reasons for choosing Cap were more than just learning to play the guitar: “When I first went to Cap, my only goal was to meet other musicians and start a band.” He found the majority of his musical relationships through the program.

The evening also served as the CD release of AGTKA’s second album, Stockholm Syndrome, a fantastic sounding production recorded at The Hive Studios. Joyce is no stranger to the Hive, having recently produced a new album for singer Jess Hill. “The album has very lush instrumentation, violins, violas, cellos, mandolins, banjo, upright bass. Part of being a good producer is getting the best performance out of the musicians, but it’s also being really organized, booking rehearsals, writing arrangements, making sure people are being paid.”

The set up for the first performance really was like a living room, with the band in the middle of the large performance space facing each other inwards. At one point Aaron asked the audience that surrounded them to move closer, and they happily did. Corbin Murdock is the Youth Coordinator of the Cultch, and he loved the way that Aaron used the space: “It created a totally unique concert experience. You could hear every note and nuance. It was one of the best shows I've seen all year.”

Murdock sees the Culture Lab contributing to Vancouver's emerging cultural community. “As well as boosting the profile of the curators themselves, the program aims to showcase the best of what is happening in Vancouver. It is about exposing The Cultch's existing audience to artists in this city, as well as bringing new audiences to The Cultch.”
On top of the Curator-In-Residence program, Murdock is responsible for creating opportunities for young artists, including mentorships, performances, and the IGNITE! Festival. The Cultch is further committed to making the arts accessible to youth through the TELUS Youth Pass. “It is available free at the box office. It'll get you $2 tickets if you are 12-19 (however, keep in mind, we don't ID).”

Aaron’s next performance is September 27th, and will feature his band Microscopic, an improvising trio in which he plays the Weissenborn guitar, an acoustic lap-steel that is played with a tone bar. That show will be a CD release as well. And to cap off his residency he will be unveiling Spearbeak, a ten-piece atonal Afrobeat project. “It’s highly rhythmic, all the crazy things I don’t get to do in A Ghost To Kill Again I do in this project.”

There is no doubt Aaron Joyce is making waves, and with the Youth Pass available at the Cultch there is no reason to miss the great work of these Cap alumni. Spearbeak will be playing a crazy Halloween show October 30th, so check out Joyce’s blog at, or go to for more info.

Mike Kennedy
Arts Editor

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