There is no one in St. John’s who writes music like AE Bridger. That’s not personal opinion, it’s a city-wide sentiment: in December’s “Best of St. John’s” issue, Bridger won the People’s Choice Award for Most Original Songwriter, for his haunting, prolific output.
In a December issue article on Bridger’s win, The Overcast’s Lukas Wall wrote that he “bends genres with an idiosyncratic and creative sound unlike anyone else, and cites everything from free jazz and psychedelic rock to Newfoundland traditional music and Gregorian chant among his vast influences.”
If that vast array of influences sounds like the background of a Berklee Music Grad, it’s interesting to note that Bridger is self-taught. His forthcoming album, Museum, is a haunting 30 minutes of moody, ethereal sounds that fuse aching viola, accordion, and trumpet to accomplish something no one else is serving up in town.
He’ll be launching this album one month from today — July 8th — at the eclectic and always interesting Sound Symposium. And once the album is out, it will be accompanied by an equally impressive endeavour: an album length and continuous music video that took “about a year to edit.”
Bridger is as excited as anyone to be at this year’s Sound Symposium, and cites the festival itself as an early influence on him. Anyone familiar with his music won’t have any trouble seeing AE Bridger as a product of the very unique offerings he took in as a teenage spectator of the Sound Symposium.
“I went to the sound symposium around the time I was first starting to really get into the idea of ‘psychedelic’ or ‘progressive’ music,” he says. “My cousin Tonya was dancing at a multi-disciplinary event at LSPU Hall, and this man named Stuart Dempster was playing didgeridoo through flexible PVC piping, spinning the pipe over his head as he droned.”
That kind of stage performance is something modern-day Bridger would be at home on. Lately, Bridger has been playing atypical musical accompaniment for writer Iain McCurdy on stage and on literary recordings.
Of the aforementioned Sound Symposium performance he saw as a teenager, Bridger says “I had never seen a performance like that, and it hit me at the exact right moment in my musical development.
“That performance has resonated through me ever since, and in many ways I see that concert at Sound Symposium as the moment when I realized that I really wanted to create music that stretched the limitations of what sound could do to your mind and body.
“To be part of this amazing St. John’s tradition is a huge honour; Sound Symposium is probably the coolest thing that happens here.”’
Bridger’s performance at the festival will be one to check out. We live in a world where music has been reduced to singles and flash-in-the-pan hits. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a thing, a reality. AE Bridger though, you hear a song of his, and can’t help ask, “Who the hell is this, and what is he doing?”
Here’s a teaser vid he’s put together: