Jen Fabico (left) with Amanda Rabey and Mike Smith laughing in the recording studio at Phase One.

EAST Music Collective getting tuned up for a second year

Auditions underway for eight-month youth music program

The EAST Music Collective is back.

Auditions are underway for hopeful youth looking to get a chance to express themselves musically in the hope of becoming recognized in the competitive music industry and perhaps start down the road to making it big.

The collective, in its second year, is organized primarily by Scarborough Arts and Phase One Studios, along with other community organizations.

The collective is all about gathering emerging artists among youth in Scarborough and the GTA to collaborate and create original music, Scarborough Arts program director, Jen Fabico says.

Program director for Scarborough Arts, Jen Fabico.
Program director for Scarborough Arts, Jen Fabico. (Tamar Atik/Toronto Observer)

“I always like to tell our team: ‘It’s a “we” thing. There’s no “I” in it,’” she said.

The collective is an intensive eight-month program, which was composed of 13 youth last year. Phase One’s senior engineer Mike Smith says the group intends on sticking with the same number this year.

Senior engineer at Phase One Studio, Mike Smith, laughing in the recording studio.
Senior engineer at Phase One Studio, Mike Smith, laughing in the recording studio. (Tamar Atik/Toronto Observer)

“They have an amazing opportunity to work with industry pros, to try to get their feet wet and get recognized in the industry,” Smith said. “A lot of these people don’t have the means to come work here: it’s very expensive to work here.

“Now Scarborough Arts is giving them the means to experience this and hopefully once they get bitten, they can take it to the next level themselves.”

After applying to the collective, youth wait to be called in for an interview, Smith said. Those that get selected become part of a team that meets once a week to work on songs until it’s time to perform concerts and launch an official CD.

© Copyright Scarborough Arts 2013. All Rights Reserved. Producer: by Dan-e-o Executive Producer: Jen D. Fabico Recording, Mix and Mastering Engineer: Mike Smith Second Engineer: Mike Ho and Matt Snell

Last year’s CD, Jazz Casino, was launched in June 2013. The 13 youth chosen to work on it were picked from a group of 50 who applied. The program is limited to young people between ages 16 and 24.

“They don’t need to be in school, they don’t need to not be in school,” Fabico said. “I think all of that is sort of up in the air and we’ll see who comes to us.

The opportunity to work in a top-notch, quality studio that sees many big names walk through its doors is a big deal to those in the collective, she said.

“It’s an opportunity that they would not have otherwise,” Fabico said. “(They get) to work with people in the industry who have been doing this for quite a while, to push out an album with other people who you might not have even thought of working with, as well as concerts.”

The EAST Music Collective began six years ago on a much smaller scale — it only became an official program last year — and was originally aimed at giving an opportunity to youth specifically in Scarborough and especially those coming from priority neighbourhoods.

“Scarborough has, I believe, six of the 11 priority neighbourhoods within Toronto,” Fabico said. “That’s quite a high number and back then … we had the ‘summer of the gun’, we had so many things that really put Scarborough on the map for not the (right) reasons.”

It became a question of providing an outlet for youth and the positivity in Scarborough, she said.”We found that music was a primary vehicle,” Fabico said. “It’s a universal thing to come to. Everyone listens to music, has music appreciation. And we started that way.”

At that time, the age range was six to 19. The collective has since grown and program assistant at Scarborough Arts Amanda Rabey says that’s left an impression on her.

Amanda Rabey (left) and Mike Smith at the control panel in Phase One's recording studio.
Amanda Rabey (left) and Mike Smith at the control panel in Phase One’s recording studio. (Tamar Atik/Toronto Observer)

“There’s so many great things that this program offers,” she said. “Being in Phase One, for example. The first time I walked in here I was thinking: ‘We’re a little community program and we’re working here. This is unbelievable.’

“Then with our end-of-year showcase, seeing everything come to life like that, something that we’ve been working towards for months, putting work into. And then seeing everyone performing, all these people I’ve worked with and just seeing their joy. Things like that just really step out.”

Auditions for the 2013/2014 EAST Music Collective program were set to take place on Oct. 4, 9, and 16.