Forward Music Group’s slow burn | The Coast Halifax

Forward Music Group’s slow burn

A decade and dozens of releases in, the Halifax-via-Fredericton collective keeps pushing on.

Forward Music Group presents JOYFULTALK and Gianna Lauren Thursday, October 19, 7:30pm The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street free

Forward Music Group was borne of scarcity and passion. As friends, musicians and show promoters in Fredericton in 2007, Kyle Cunjak, James Boyle and Zach Atkinson were "young and eager and getting to a point where we wanted to do more and make a go of this music thing," says Cunjak. New Brunswick's industry resources were limited at the time, so the collective was born.

Ten years later, they've got a catalogue of nearly 70 releases, nearly all on vinyl, from artists including Olympic Symphonium, Gianna Lauren, Share and Sleepless Nights. A sibling label, Backward, was spun off for more experimental releases. Forward's been celebrating its birthday with shows around the country, including this week's at HPX (where Boyle is on year three as executive director; Atkinson runs The Capital Complex in Fredericton; Cunjak is the remaining founder).

While Forward alone hasn't freed him to "make a go" at music—he's calling from the top of a month-long tour with David Myles—Cunjak says the label has offered "more opportunities. There's strength in numbers. Having this support network reaches a wider audience and helps the artists get heard," he says. "It's a slow burn—I mean the growth is a very slow trajectory upward. We're definitely the turtle in the music industry race."

Sentimental favourites
Kyle Cunjak shares five meaningful Forward releases.

Snailhouse, Sentimental Gentleman (FMG025, 2011)
We were excited to begin working with this project when Mike asked us to be his band for a few tours, then to help make the final Snailhouse record. The chorus of "Airwaves"—"Surfing on the airwaves with the trust-fund kids"—is one of my favourite lines.

Gypsophilia, Constellation (FMG026, 2011)
This album marks first time we worked with anyone outside our immediate FMG family. When we "signed" them I had to figure out how to write a record contract. This was also our first instrumental release, the first jazz record we ever worked on and the first coloured vinyl we pressed.

Paper Beat Scissors, Paper Beat Scissors (FMG029, 2012)
Our first "big" international release! We partnered with Germany's Ferryhouse on this album, which resulted in features in *Rolling Stone* and some larger European touring.

Backward Music Vol.1 (BKWRD001, 2012)
This compilation of three instrumental artists—Tim Crabtree, Joshua Van Tassel and Bing & Ruth—was released with hand-screened jackets, the first few being gold-foil-stamped, and an accompanying interactive website. This got a bunch of digital attention, resulting in millions of streams that still help us fund losses from other albums.

Michael Feuerstack & Associates, Singer Songer (FMG046, 2014)
It's an amazing collaborative album with guest vocalists like Devon Sproule, Little Scream, Bry Webb and John K. Samson sing lyrics/melodies that Mikey wrote specifically for them. It was also our first big Record Store Day release and included in all the official promotion which, for a small team like us, was pretty neat.