1. What is Defunct Music Archive?

Ben archive BUTTON project

What is Defunct Music Archive? It is a website devoted to collecting information, music, biographies, and photographs about lesser known, Canadian musicians and bands, and making it all available to a wider audience online. It is meant to be a collaboration of like minded people interested in telling the untold stories of an overwhelming amount of musicians and groups that made quality recordings, but never ‘made it’, and thus relegated to obscurity.  By using internet tools such as the digitization of vinyl records and cassette tapes, making these recordings available online for download through websites like bandcamp, and interviews and short biographies of the artists involved, Defunct Music Archives hopes make the works and stories of these lesser known Canadian musicians and their contributions to our culture available to everyone.


After reading Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen’s article “The Presence of the Past” for a public history class, I began rethinking my thoughts about what a ‘history’ could be, and what history meant to me.  One of my hobbies is to collect information about my favourite musicians and bands.  Collecting their stories. When were they active? Where did they come from? Who were their influences, and who did they influence? What other bands did they play in? What other bands do they sound like?  What were they like as individuals?  The first thing that I do when I listen to a new band is try and find out what their story is, find out what went into the music they created.  These stories are important to me.  And then I realized something: there is currently no database that collects this kind of information together for Canadian music specifically. Why not? I have friends who have made some of my favourite albums, but what happens when they break up?  What if my computer breaks and those few songs that I have are lost, or I lose one of the handful of tapes that exist?  There must be other people like me, I thought, with friends in great bands, who, for all kinds of reasons may never get a chance to share their music with a wider audience. And that is a shame. This music has value to the people that made it, to the few people that get a chance to listen to it, and to the culture to which it contributes.

This was only reinforced when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of ‘It Came From Canada’ at Cheap Thrills records a couple of months ago.  Here was all of this great music, some of it great, some of it mediocre, some of it really, really, strange, and it was Canadian, and from Montreal!  I looked online to see what I could find out about the compilation, and there was some information there, but the music itself was nowhere to be found.  Why was this music so hard to find now, when it is relatively easy to digitize records and upload them to the internet? Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, I decided to do it myself.

This website is only a test to see if the tools necessary to collect, share the music, and tell at least part of the stories of the Canadian everyband.  I have chosen to focus on short biographies, photos, and free and easy access to the music itself to demonstrate what a larger database might look like.

The website has been organized into six separate sections, numbered 1 to 6.  The idea is to introduce the reader to the bands and artists through a short biography, let them listen to the artist’s music, garner a more personal view of the artist by reading the interview, and finally to teach them how to digitize their own records and cassettes so that they too can share their collections on the website.  There is also a References page at the end of the process that includes links to other interviews, music, and photographs of the artist/label under scrutiny.  Contact information is available on the side bar of every page, asking for submissions of information and music of bands not already on the website.   The aim of this process is to allow the reader to learn more about the artists, and give them the tools to submit their own defunct music with the website..

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