Comox Valley musicians Helen Austin and Emily Spiller have done the Valley proud.
Each is nominated for the Vancouver Island Music Awards five times. That’s right; they’ve received five nominations each.
The awards ceremony will be held at the Sid Williams Theatre on June 23. As part of the Vancouver Island Music Business Conference, the gala event features performances by some of Vancouver Island’s best musicians including Austin and Spiller.
Austin and her Song of the Week CD is in the running for Producer of the Year, Female Songwriter of the Year, Female Vocalist of the year, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year.
“I thought I’d be lucky to get one or two nominations,” says Austin. “I never expected five!”
Prior to moving to the Comox Valley and launching her career as a musician, Austin worked as a comedian in Britain. “I’d love to add award-winning musician to award-winning comedian but just being nominated is really cool,” she says.
Over the past year Austin, who describes her music as quirky alternative folk, has sold numerous songs to the TV and movie industry. In addition to singing and recording, she loves nothing better than a songwriting deadline.
As well as writing songs, recording and performing, Austin’s mom to Charlie and Daisy.
“It’s always busy and always a challenge,” she admits. “I love spending time with my kids and I love my career, it’s hard to drag myself away from either.”
This summer, Austin’s off to Knoxville for a song writing playoff and in November will be in New York giving a presentation on how to get your music into movies and on TV.
“I was invited to New York because I’m 43 and that’s considered old in this industry,” Austin says. “But I’m proof that you don’t have to be young to make a living in music.”
Spiller is nominated for Female Songwriter of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Artist of the Year and Producer of the Year. Her composition, Soul, is nominated for Song of the Year.
“It’s really great to have creative talent on the Island recognized this way,” she says. ““Just being nominated has been a boost to my career.”
Spiller’s earliest memory of performing is jumping up and down on her bed and singing into the mirror when she was three. When she was ten she begged her parents for a saxophone and lessons.
“I always wanted to sing professionally but was too scared,” she says. “Then I took a Singspriation course with Judy Blue. That was the catalyst that changed my life.”
Spiller recently performed in Australia and Toronto and has a busy year lined up with gigs in Calgary, the Interior and the Vancouver Island festival circuit. She’ll also perform at the BC Shellfish Festival Dinner at the Filberg Lodge on June 17.
The 34-year old has lived in the Comox Valley home for three years.
Spiller’s known for her live looping.
“I use a special machine that I can play with my feet,” she explains. “I can store different songs on it, then build on them live, bringing instruments in and out to change the sound.”
She calls her music an experimental blend of soul, blues and jazz with some pop elements mixed in.
The goal of VIMA is to celebrate and build awareness of the Island music scene and provide networking opportunities between artists and music industry representatives. The awards acknowledge the excellence of the artistry and work ethic of Vancouver Island artists, encourage artists to pursue their dreams and p