Behind the scenes of Edmonton's active live music community are people who work tirelessly to set up and promote shows, ensuring this ever-growing community continues to evolve—and one of them is Mattie Cuvilier of Clean Up Your Act Productions, which celebrates its fifth anniversary tomorrow.
Cuvilier's foray into the music industry began when he was a teenager, when he became the go-to guy to set up shows for his own band. Soon, Cuvilier began setting up and promoting shows for other bands as a way to contribute to the scene—which he continues to remain active in as an artist, taking on vocal duties for the band Disabler.
“Around 2008 I just decided to pursue it more actively, to do shows with a similar sort of vibe on a really regular basis, because there were some elements in the scene that I felt needed to come together—I went to enough shows that I knew kind of exactly what I wanted to see, so I wanted to make it happen,” recalls Culivier, who started Clean Up Your Act in 2008, adding he wanted to bring bands of different genres like hardcore and thrash together, as there weren't huge opportunities for them separately. “I thought it would be a lot better to build a more unified community in terms of punk and hardcore and crossing that over a little bit more than what I was seeing at the time.”
Promoting has contributed to what Cuvilier sees as a beneficial balance to his work as a youth social worker at the Bissell Centre
“I went out of my way to do that, y'know?” he continues. “It just needed to feel right, otherwise it wasn't worth it.”
These days, Cuvilier has a pool of approximately 30 artists he works with on a regular basis, but he admits getting to this point has been a slow build. In the early days of Clean Up Your Act, the biggest challenge was finding venue space. The shows, which have maintained support for all-ages audiences, started off small, which meant little in the way of finances to book many of the city's larger venues. However, things started to take off when Cuvilier met Jay Moore, the owner of Circles, a storefront that doubled as a multi-purpose space. Soon, Cuvilier started presenting monthly shows in what he says was a safe environment that allowed him to go through the trial-and-error process of getting his company up and running.
It's taken a lot of cold-calls and emails to build his clientele, but these days Cuvilier has been expanding his reach through more referrals, bringing in talent from out-of-province as well. The bands Cuvilier tends to back are a varied bunch, which is evident in the lineup at this weekend's fifth anniversary show. Punk-rock veterans Knucklehead and local rockers Slates are joined by local indie-goths Cygnets along with one-man acoustic band Evan Symons and a carefully curated mix of Cuvilier's favourite DJs to present what he believes is an apt representation of Clean Up Your Act's mentality.
“I like people who are really feeling the music, not just doing it because it's going to be popular or kind of instantly appealing, and kind of more like misfits—not like the band Misfits—but in terms of their outlook,” explains Cuvilier. “There's obviously a market for garbage everywhere, but I think in the punk scene and indie music scene, there's less of a tolerance for the fluff … we're like winter hardened or something. We need something real.”
Fri, May 10 (7 pm)
With Knucklehead, Slates, Vapid, Cygnets, Evan Symons,
Spastic Panthers, Stepmothers, various DJs
ISBE Domain (9529 Jasper Ave)
$18 (advance), $20 (door)