Artistic director, Femme Wave Arts Society; CJSW Music Director, UCalgary
Hayley Muir shares the Top 40 honours with Kaely Cormack, co-founder of the Femme Wave Arts Society where the duo started out as bandmates in a local feminist punk group called The Shiverettes.
Wanting to create a more diverse and inclusive city prompted them to establish the first Femme Wave Feminist Arts Festival in 2015. Now an annual event, it has to date presented more than 450 acts showcasing at least one member who identifies as a woman or as non-binary.
What is your job at CJSW? I source new music releases that are suitable for our airwaves; co-ordinate and engineer live on-air sessions with local and touring musicians; distribute local music releases to stations across Canada via digital and physical mailers; work with programmers to find new music; and I provide general guidance for local artists about the music industry and radio.
How has COVID-19 impacted your day-to-day work? Live sessions have been on hold mostly since March, which has been difficult for everyone. We are slowly opening that back up, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, and I am really looking forward to being able to provide a platform to local artists again. Everyone is looking for connection and community, and a radio station like CJSW is such a unique and valuable resource for that.
What have you missed most during the pandemic? Live music! Those events are such a social hub and I’m a very social person, so I’ve missed running into friends at shows or on patios. It’s also been kind of a nice break, however, to just relax and take things slow. The last five years with Femme Wave and the band have been super-busy and just non-stop, so I’ve also welcomed a bit of a break and pause!
How did Femme Wave come to be? A few years ago, Kaely and I noticed that, even though there were lots of women playing music in the city, we didn’t see them on stages very often. We wanted to put on one show that was all women and non-binary musicians, and that snowballed into a multi-day, multi-venue, multidisciplinary festival! The more we talked with people in the community, the more others wanted to be involved and we realized that lack of representation and space wasn’t just in the music community. After that first year, we got asked if we’d do it again, so we did ... and here we are, almost six years later!
How did you and Kaely meet? We were both working at BeatRoute Magazine at the time, and I always thought Kaely seemed super-cool and wanted to be her friend. I knew she played guitar so, when I was thinking about starting a new band, I asked her if she wanted to play around with some song ideas. Lucky for me, she did! We formed The Shiverettes and a year or so later organized the first Femme Wave and have been partners in crime ever since.
Do you remember any professors who were exemplary? When I was doing my Journalism diploma at SAIT, I had an instructor, Danny Miller, who taught print layout and InDesign. His teaching approach really resonated with me, which is why I went on to do layout for BeatRoute for 10 years. We’ve connected via radio over the years, and I’ve always held great respect and admiration for him. While I was at the University of Calgary, my sculpture instructor, Ron Kostyniuk, was really encouraging and wise. I was considering moving to Toronto or Vancouver at the time, and he kind of talked to me out of it, which I am still grateful for to this day! I would have missed out on a lot of the amazing experiences I’ve had in Calgary since then.
What is the most satisfying thing about your job at CJSW or with Femme Wave? The most fulfilling thing about both jobs is just connecting with people, and helping artists get their music and message out. There are tons of barriers in the music industry, especially for BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ artists, and being able to use my privilege and experience to help break down some of those barriers and provide more access points is all I hope to accomplish. And, if someone comes to me and says, “Oh my god, that band or artist is my new favourite and I had never heard them before,” then I know I’ve done my job!
If you were to go back to school, what would you take? I would probably go to law school, for criminal or human rights law.