It’s hard to imagine the New Brunswick music scene without Erin Bond cheerleading the artists within it.
The 36-year-old station manager at Fredericton’s campus radio station, CHSR-FM, has a passion for advocating for music and musicians. Her work was acknowledged on Feb. 6 when she was nominated for the East Coast Music Awards Media Person of the Year. She said she didn’t even know until she was tagged by the ECMAs on Twitter.
“To be nominated with such names like that, people from CBC and Alex Cook from The East …To have my name up there with those people is kind of surreal. I don’t think it’s still really sunk in yet.”
A voice for others
Bond is an award-winning radio host with nine years of experience working in the music industry.
Over the last decade Bond has become a voice for New Brunswick talent. Last year she started a record label, TwoFifteen Records. Two Fredericton bands, Wangled Teb and Wicked Vices, are signed to her label, but she said she has also helped 20 to 30 other bands write grants, bios, create press kits and helped with publicity and outreach, some even before the label started. She said New Brunswick has a lack of resources for musicians and she wants to fill that gap.
“I’m just going to try to help as many people as I can and give them the best shot at getting some recognition, whether it’s on-air or blogs or writing grants.”
She’s volunteered countless hours for local music festivals, such as Harvest Jazz & Blues and Shivering Songs Festival, and been a Music NB board member for over five years. She created, hosts and produces Homemade Jams, a 100 per cent local music radio show, and Her Turn, CHSR’s first all-female music show.
In the four years since she’s been the station manager, Bond has organized the 2018 National Campus and Community Radio Conference and festival to go along with it and launched a new initiative to distribute New Brunswick music to radio stations across Canada. She also advocated for New Brunswick music as a Polaris Prize juror.
Her office shows the work behind her passion for advocating for music and musicians.
There’s a stack of CDs close to the computer and a pile of file folders on the other corner. There’s a cup of coffee and a calendar featuring her favourite band, The Beatles. Her door is completely covered with band stickers and festival posters.
On the wall behind her, there’s a banner that says everything sucks. She said it’s part of her sense of humour.
Starting at CHSR
Bond remembers entering the seemingly never-ending music library tucked in a corner of the second floor of the Student Union Building at the University of New Brunswick in 2010.
“It was a little overwhelming in the best way possible… Literally when you walk into a room, being a music nerd that you are, and there is over 70,000 albums sitting in there, it’s heaven.”
Her friend, Ollie, who volunteered there at the time thought she might want to join him.
It was easy to sign up.
Two years later, the station applied for a grant to get her a job as volunteer coordinator. She said it might have had something to do with her being a self-motivated and self-driven person.
After Tim Rayne, the station manager at that time, received a grant to focus on his music documentary, The Capital Project, Bond became the station manager at the age of 32.
She said no day is the same at CHSR. She hosts and produces the weekly hour-long radio shows, Mornings Are Hard, Homemade Jams, Her Turn, Anything Goes and the two-hour-long !earshot20 countdown which airs to CHSR-FM and stations across Canada. She also does administrative tasks, looks for volunteers and applies for funding to keep the station afloat, while also making sure she stays on top of the latest and cross-Canada tunes.
She said her favourite part of the job is the opportunity to be exposed to and talk about music.
She gets to listen to up to 100 CDs per week through the stations music department.
“For me, it just falls back into more of the music stuff … Just being exposed to so much new music and all these bands you’ve never heard of that are from the middle of nowhere that completely blow your mind when you hear them. For me, it’s just trying to champion these bands and let people know that.”
Nothing else to do in a small town
Before Bond lived in New Brunswick, she lived in a small rural town in Nova Scotia of 12,000 people called Walton. With one paved road in the whole town, she said there was nothing to do as a kid other than listen to music, read books and play at the run-down ballfield. The self-described music nerd said her Panasonic Shockwave Discman got a lot of miles.
“I had a couple friends that would come over all the time. We would just jam until two or three in the morning.”
She remembers the first time she watched Empire Records, a movie about an independent record store, its employees and the chaos that ensues over the course of a couple hours. She rented it for the first time on a VHS tape when she was 12 and has watched it hundreds of times since.
“I watched that and that is really what hit me in the head because all the music in it was fantastic. And you won’t find any main musicians or anything like that. So that’s why I started going into my deep dives [into music discography].”
When she started post-secondary education at Acadia University though, she was majoring in physics.
After two gap years in Ireland, she attended St. Thomas University to take journalism and then anthropology, but neither was for her.
But it landed her in the midst of Fredericton’s music scene.
Juno and Grammy winners have graced the CHSR studio too, but for Bond, she’s always been more in awe of the bands and people nobody’s heard of.
When Balconies, a female-fronted rock n’ roll band from Toronto showed up to the studio for an interview with her, she said she was starstruck. She also said she had heart-to-hearts with some of her other favourites, Nancy Wilson, an American musician, producer and film composer and Danko Jones, a Canadian rock trio from Toronto.
She loves Fredericton but she said she doesn’t know what’s in her future. She said she’s not sure if she’ll stay station manager forever. She might move on to work full-time on her label or other projects in the music industry.
“We always joke that we’re lifers, but I could see things going a different direction at some point. Nothing’s forever.”
She said she’s a wallflower of the music industry and although she’s sometimes a bit envious of the people who have the guts to go on stage, she’s content helping musicians behind the scenes.
“Every day I’m always discovering so much new music. That is just insane to me that this is happening, let alone in our own backyard here. The music that is being created in New Brunswick is ridiculous.”