The RPM Challenge challenges anyone to record an album of original music in the month of February. Luckily, as a leap year, 2016 offers an extra day to record the ten songs or 35 minutes of music needed to meet the challenge.
The challenge first started in Newfoundland in 2008 when Elling Lien, via The Scope, urged local musicians and non-musicians alike to record a record in February. The first year yieleded 22 albums, but these last few years average a whopping 135 releases a year. With the challenge now in its ninth year, more than 800 local albums have been recorded and released for the challenge.
As of this year, Elling Lien’s new organization, UNpossible NL, will spearhead the NL RPM effort. “RPM gives people this great excuse to make something for the fun of it without being judged, because, I mean, you made it in a month. And that can be really liberating. The RPM Challenge isn’t a contest, so it frees people up to just experiment and learn and just try out ideas for fun. Want to record a song about your dog Max? Great. You want to try rapping? Great. People just try things out and then play it for their friends or the RPM community here. Sometimes surprising things work — or they don’t — but what odds!”
The idea behind Unpossible Newfoundland & Labrador is to find ways to give locals that same sense of creative liberty and expression with all kinds of art, “and to make people feel supported in making adventurous choices. Expressing yourself is important. I mean, just because you aren’t excellent at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You also can’t get better at something if you don’t work at it.”
There’s a New RPM Mentoship Program
This works both ways. If you want to help people make stuff, or, get help making stuff, visit http://www.unpossible.co/mentorshippenpal Experienced musician are asked to donate 1 hour to bounce a few emails back and forth with a novice RPMer to help them make their album come true.
CBC NL to Host an RPM Song Contest
Throughout February, RPM is asking musicians to send videos of their best new song. RPM will post the video on Facebook and the song with the most shares wins a live appearance on CBC Radio One. The winning musician will also receive a CBC video and audio recording of their appearance.
Last Gasp Album Jam
A last-chance RPM Challenge improvisational recording session on Sunday, February 28th at Rocket Bakery & Fresh Foods at 2pm. Open to anyone who wants to be on an album!
Rocket Bakery to Host Listening Parties
A live and public RPM Challenge listening party, of one song by each artist, will take place at Rocket Bakery’s Orbit Room on March 6th and 7th, with artist interviews. If you can’t make it, stream it at www.nlrpm.com
Weekly Karaoke Socials for RPM Community
Every Friday night at Peter Easton Pub, unstrap your guitar and go see what your fellow RPMers are saying over a few beers and karaoke songs. The events are free.
So what have been some favourites of Elling’s over the years? He couldn’t tell you. But having just re-listened to the 22 albums that came in the inaugural year in 2008, here’s three he reminisced on.
AM/FM Dreams — How the Aviator Sees the Rainbow (2008)
Damian and the gang are such excellent songwriters, and they have this unique sound that is so well developed. They’ve done an album for every RPM since. To think of all the energy and heart and time they poured into making those albums, it’s incredible.
The Domestics — Welcome to the Good Life (2008)
This was the first time they played and recorded together, and it’s so great. They’ve kept making music together as the Domestics, and they’re a popular local band now. Like, I just saw their new album at Fred’s on vinyl. On vinyl!
Vic Lewis — The Sham (2008)
Vic Lewis rules. He had been making homemade albums before the RPM came to town, but I’m so happy the RPM has encouraged him to make and release more music. His band Kujo just released an incredible new album in January.