Tag Archives: The Banff Centre

Neil LaPierre’s Office Studio Alert Bell (Banff, Alberta, Canada)

Neil LaPierre is 6’3″, 185 lbs, an air conditioner salesman and a performance artist. I met LaPierre at The Banff Centre, within a thematic residency program, Experimental Comedy Training Camp. “I’m from Southern Ontario, Canada, but I ran away to art school in the Maritimes. My favorite dinosaur is the Tyrannosaurus rex. I have my own Blog and I draw inspiration from Tony Little, and Suze Orman.”

LaPierre’s Banff series’ ringtone is related to a series of self-help inspired, one-on-one performances he’s doing at Experimental Comedy Training Camp (ECTC). The concept is simple and fun. “If a person makes an appointment with my receptionist, they can expect a free, personalized and weekly-based themed session that lasts approximately 15 minutes.” Themes within the first month of the residency included Take Control of Your Life, Fantasy Week, and Total Transformation. Participants attending the sessions may receive light therapy, invent new dance moves with the artist, have their fingernails painted, or receive a harsh talking-to.

When The N. LaPierre Office Studio is open, the artist comes into work appropriately attired (suit jacket, shirt and tie, nice shoes). Mr. LaPierre is aided by another ECTC resident, artist Briony Clarke. His ringtone, the Office Studio Alert Bell is a sound you’d hear in one of these sessions. “When I’ve run over the allotted time with a client,” LaPierre says, “Ms. Clarke rings a bell to let us know the session has concluded.”

The gentle bell sound makes for a lovely text message alert. Thanks to Neil LaPierre and his assistant, artist Briony Clarke, for sharing their performative sound with Locally Toned.

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Jeneen Frei Njootli’s “Anai, Nakwaltuk” Ringtone (Banff, Alberta, Canada)

Jeneen Frei Njootli is a visual artist who works at The Banff Centre. It’s fitting that she’s contributed the first tone in the Banff series, for it honors Aboriginal peoples in Canada. “I’m First Nations,” she told me, “with some Czech and Dutch in there, too.” If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, “First Nations” describes various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis.

“I was born in the North, my home community is in the Arctic, but I was raised in Prince Edward Island, and went to school in Vancouver. Having moved around a lot, I find myself drawn to the energies that exist within the ‘inbetween places,’ that I inhabit. Part of my artistic practice is an investigation of history embodied in land–I’m interested in exploring the idea of stories associated with a place through sound and image. In terms of sound, when I look at the land, I imagine the stories various places might hold, and think of some of the ghosts, or spirits that are present, there, too.””

Here is Jeneen’s haunting Anai, Nakwaltuk (“Come here, I’ll tell you something”) Tone. We recorded it in a stairwell that had great acoustic quality, within the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed building on The Banff Centre’s campus. Her ringtone consists of improvised melodic vocals–her response to the beautiful land in the area. It’s a sound that Jeneen has been exploring lately with her newly formed (and still un-named) band. “I recently got a loop pedal, a mic and amp. I was thinking about an economical way to spend the winter here. There’s always snowboarding, but it is expensive and potentially painful. Plus, I’m bad at it. So I decided to invest in doing something this winter that will allow me to interact, practice, have fun, and play with other people.”

Here’s wishing Jeneen Frei Njootli a musically inspired and productive winter! Thanks, Jeneen, for this first and lovely tone in the Banff, Alberta, Canada series.


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September / October 2012: What does Banff (Alberta, Canada) sound like?

This fall, I’m at The Banff Centre attending an artist residiency program. I’m here to work on my other ongoing project, Ventwittoquisms, but I brought along my audio equipment to record a series of tones from the Alberta region of Canada. I’m hoping I’ll be able to capture the sound of Elk in rutting season, but I can’t be sure I’ll have that kind of luck.

I’m here for 7 weeks of Experimental Comedy Training Camp. Led by artist Michael Portnoy, the purpose of the Camp is “to make your art work funnier.” I’m working with seriously silly and talented artists from around Canada, the States, Finland and England. When we’re not reading comedy theory, making prank phone calls, having studio visits or performing, I’ll be fishing around for tone contributions from those attending the Camp with me. Perhaps I’ll even get some from those who are leading and visiting the program (such as one of my sound-making heroes, Reggie Watts).

If you happen to live in Banff and have an idea for a sound that’s special to this region, time permitting, I’d love to work with you to capture it out in the field. Just reach out to me here, or write to me directly at locallytoned *at* gmail dot com. Scroll down to see a some of my snapshots from Banff / Experimental Comedy Training Camp.

T. Foley’s “Popcorn Eating Act” with Hector the Dummy (of Ventwittoquisms)

Michael Portnoy introduces artist Sean Joseph Patrick Carney

Artist Bridget Moser’s chair bit at Performance Night

Michael Portnoy, Director of Behaviour at Experimental Comedy Training Camp, gets his 5 minutes at our first Performance Night

Artist collective Fake Injury Party–Derrick Guerin, Scott Leeming & Paul Tjepkema (video still)

Still from Maarit Suomi-Vaananen’s “In a Misty Musty Thicket”

Neil LaPierre’s “Take Control of Your Life” improvement sessions (with artist Birony Clarke)

Emily McIntyre & Selina Doroshenko–Nothing Special–sport spectacular outfits each and every day.

Slide from visiting artist Steven M. Johnson’s lecture

Artist Steven M. Johnson talks about his work

The Banff Centre is situated within a National Park–stunning vistas are everywhere.

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