By Nolan Boehm.
Photographs by Agnieszka Pajor.
It’s hard to agree on anything these days. Thus, life remains interesting. Sometimes I feel like having the same opinion isn’t as important as having the conversation. Music is a great communicator. Whitehorse is a city like no other. Alley-ways lined with murals are patrolled by foxes. People walk the winter streets and acknowledge each other, even on days cold enough to freeze one’s eyelashes. An international airport sits within a 20-minute stroll from downtown. We are blessed with a truly communal, commercial-free radio station (92.5 FM), daily concerts in the summer months and public pianos. Ironically, though, there may well be more instruments living here than people – even though the town is currently between music stores. But maybe music doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe music means a little bit more.
People combat the winter’s darkness differently. Some fly south, some keep close company and the lights on, others spread laughter, some sing; and many, delight in solitude, diving into the virtual worlds of novels and Netflix, or trying our hands at our own creations. In the darkest places on Earth, the depths of oceans and caves that stretch endless, the world is lit not by sunlight but by bioluminescence. Life we classify as “simple”, worms and squid and flies, have learned to make light using chemical processes in their own bodies. Life, in absence of day, shines on. We refer to these various creatures (and sometimes plants) collectively as Glowworms. Depending on who you ask, explanations for the glowworm’s glow may differ. Like us, they need to eat, mate and signal each other. I wonder if it’s just for lack of something better to do. Are people the same? Why do we craft stories and songs? How do we remember them so well? Is it simply a source of food and companionship, or might our dreams serve purposes mysterious to ourselves? The popular notion that 10,000 hours dedicated to a craft, grants the level of ‘mastery’, I consider an oversimplification. It leaves out all the personal pleasures and satisfactions that come along the way. Anything I have seen to an end, I can be proud of that I have had the opportunity to enjoy. Not to mention, many masters may tell you, “you are never finished”.
People in the north, display a stronger sense of self than I’m used to. Is it because we live on the edge, bounded by forests and mountains that we have the luxury to get to know ourselves? Is it common kindnesses that liberates self-expression? In any case, I always love to meet someone who is comfortable in their own skin and confident in their own thoughts. More and more, I find this strength coming from people who allow themselves to be artistic. Since moving to Yukon, I have tried my hand at: poetry, prose, gardening, journalism, singing, instruments, drums, drawing, rap, knitting, musical composition and production, and stand-up comedy. Though I haven’t given any of these practices their 10,000 hours quite yet, the journey has been, and always will be, worth it. We do it for the people we have loved, and the worlds we have walked and for the glory of inspiration. Hopefully, we’ll make this world a more beautiful place.
I never sweat so much as when someone examines my personal creation. And every time I have faced that fear, I am glad I did. Even when, or especially when, it is embarrassing. If you are someone who glows in the dark, that is, if you have a talent you are ready to share, it is to you I am speaking. Quick question: Did you ever want to be a recording artist? I have an opportunity now to reach people and compile the hidden voices in this beautiful community, and communities beyond. The main-focus is musical, though for anyone whose talents lie in the visual or audiovisual spheres, we have opportunities for these contributions as well. An album needs a cover. My aim is to create a multi-disk CD designed to allow singers and writers to showcase their perspective of the north through varying genres: poetry, hip-hop, world jazz and fusion, rock, funk, and traditional, as well as, electronic music. Comedy will also have its place. In the effort to be efficient, let’s just call it ‘folk’. The music of the people. We’re making an album by Yukoners and for “Everyone”. You don’t have to be especially skilled or classically trained — just enthusiastic. Anyone who feels they have things to say but lack an outlet needn’t go it alone. I shan’t censor anything contributed in the spirits of love and truth, for honesty and compassion are integral. Where to start?
Well, it has already begun. You can see the first few experimental tracks I have published on Soundcloud. The playlist is called Glowworm Projectre, and the username is SN0W, with a zero. For now, the songs lack vocals. You can be the voice. If you find something that speaks to you or inspires you to add lyrics, feel free to get in touch with us there, or email Snow.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t like what you hear but think you can do better, then please, prove it! If you have put thought and effort into something and wish to share it with any others who may be drawn to this project, feel free. If you aren’t a lyricist, but play an instrument, and wish to add a melody or harmony, this is most welcome as well. Every day without knowing it, we do things that have never been done before. Time slips by, we grow a little more. The past is tragic and the future is intimidating. Yet we must meet it one way or another, proud or cowed. I only wish to connect people who lighten and enlighten each other. Like the lightning-bug who doesn’t know how to turn himself off, like a new star igniting to illuminate its own system of worlds for the first time, you never know the effect a little light might have on others. Indeed, I am sure we all have examples of music that changed our lives for the better, unbeknownst to the artist who created it. I don’t desire recognition or money. My goal is to promote human respect, strengthen the empathy of the community and one day be able to say, “You had it in you the whole time.