Nature Of’s “The Mean” Official Cover Selection

We have some exciting news about Nature Of’s upcoming release!

As a way to promote student involvement, we collaborated with Constanza Pacher’s Typography II classes for the design of the cover art and album packaging for Nature Of’s new record, The Mean.

Members of Nature Of and the Bent River Records team went in to discuss the album’s themes with the students, but the project was left open to interpretation, resulting in a wide range of fantastic original concepts. In the end, the band had 39 different versions to choose from (no easy task)!

After weeks of deliberation, Nature Of narrowed it down to their top five choices, and decided the best fit for The Mean was the concept created by second year design student, Cam Zimmel. Congratulations, Cam!

Design by Cam Zimmel

“It was a super enjoyable experience getting a little taste of what ‘real world client work’ could look like in the future. I’m really glad we have the resources available at MacEwan to do collaborations like this. Everyone in both sections of the course did an absolutely killer job of giving the band their best visual interpretation of the music. I think it really was anyone’s game, but I’m honoured to have been chosen by Nature Of after what sounded like a pretty painstaking decision process. I can’t wait to see the cover printed and grab a copy of the vinyl to listen to!!”

— Cam Zimmel

And if you want to grab your own copy of the album, come see Nature Of perform, along with Kevin Dean and The Big City Wranglers, and Kent Sangster’s Obsessions Octet, at our 2019 Artist Spotlight on Monday, April 8th.

Check out the designs from our four runners-up below!

Concepts by (top left to bottom right)
Logann Fitt, Jenelle LeBlanc, Hannah Reaper, Keira Zanbak

A Night with Kate Blechinger: Special Pop-up Event

You’re invited to our Special Pop-up Event featuring Kate Blechinger at Towers on Fourth, Tuesday, March 26th!

Can you believe that Bent River Record’s Artist Spotlight is less than a month away?! Monday, April 8th, we will be featuring three of our Bent River artists in a night filled with brilliant music and musicianship. To start off the celebrations we are holding an Pop-up event at MacEwan’s Towers on Fourth from 6pm- 8pm on March 26th!

Kate Blechinger, our featured artist, accompanied by Kyle White, will be playing two sets showcasing music from her new album, Under a Dancing Sky. Kate is an inventive and charismatic vocalist, composer and arranger. Her “Jazz” is the musical equivalent of an artist’s palette, and is definitely a hybrid of sorts; she pairs the harmony, instrumentation and improvisation of more traditional jazz forms with the lyricism of modern jazz and folk genres. What results is personal, poetic, and playful- and one that involves audiences in a truly eclectic musical journey.

Come down to Towers on Fourth to enjoy the talented Kate Blechinger, meet the Bent River team, and enjoy some excellent food and drinks!

We would love if you could join us!

Towers on Fourth Pub:
Grant MacEwan University 6-101,
Edmonton, AB T5J 2B7

Jean-Michel Pilc in Edmonton

Be on the lookout for Jean-Michel Pilc this month! He will be in Edmonton Friday, March 15th for a Jazz Improvisation masterclass at MacEwan University and will also be performing a solo piano set at the Yardbird Suite, Saturday, March 16th from 8 pm – 10 pm!

Jean-Michel Pilc is praised for his improvisations. Pianist and composer Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous jazz giants including Roy Haynes, Billy Hart, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jean Toussaint, Marcus Miller, John Abercrombie, and the Mingus Dynasty & Big Band, among others. He also worked with Harry Belafonte as his musical director and pianist and performed a duet with the legendary opera singer Jessye Norman. Originally from France, Pilc moved to New York in 1995 where he established himself as an active performer. Jean-Michel has released four critically-acclaimed solo piano records: Follow Me (2004), Essential (2011), What Is This Thing Called? (2015), and his most recent solo double CD Parallel (2018). In addition, he regularly performs in a trio with both Montreal and New York City-based ensembles including Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig which performed at the Yardbird Suite in 2015. A dedicated educator, Jean-Michel founded the Improvisation Workshop Project with Rémi Bolduc, Kevin Dean and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, an educational research project funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQSC). In September 2015, he was named Associate Professor at The Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal.

Pilc’s masterclass is centred around his book It’s About Music: The Art and Heart of Improvisation. Jean-Michel’s workshops are based off the expressive aspects of improvisation. He bases his teachings off the premise that originality in art is a matter of expressing one’s own uniqueness.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from a masterful improviser and musician, Friday, March 15th at MacEwan University and be sure to see him live in action Saturday, March 16th at the Yardbird suite!

Tickets are $26, and $22 for EJS members, plus applicable fees.

Get your tickets here:

Get your copy of his book here:


Marcus Paquin and the Creation of Nature Of’s Album

We can’t believe a year has gone by since Marcus Paquin was in-studio and we were tracking for the Nature Of record! It was such an incredible experience for our team and the students who got the opportunity to get involved and learn from Marcus. Bent River Records prides itself in being a learning lab for faculty and students, and bringing in another brilliant mind such as Marcus to work with Nature Of and our students was such an extraordinary opportunity, and something we will never forget!

This time last year, the beds for 2 songs of Nature Of songs were being tracked and we had just begun overdubs. Now a year later, the project has come full circle and Nature of is getting ready to preview their record at our Artist Spotlight on April 8th. The release of the album will be later on this year, and audiences at the Spotlight will have an exclusive look at the album, and will be able to purchase it prior to its release! Time flies when you’re having fun!  

In celebration, we caught up with Marcus and asked him to recap his experience with the band and what he has been up to lately!

1. What did you enjoy most when working with Nature Of and Bent River Records on this project?

It was a real pleasure working with such open minded and creative musicians and of course with Paul Johnston and the staff at Bent River records.

Nature Of have a unique and organic approach to making music that I relate to deeply so it was really fun to listen to the songs move from demo mode to completion; it’s a very deep record.

Of course it’s always a joy to work with my old friend Paul Johnston. Paul is a very talented and accomplished musician as well as being an intelligent and sensitive recording engineer. Our skill sets are very complementary so I really hope to do more work together in the future.

2. What was your process for recording this project?

The first thing I do when working with a band is to discuss their own thoughts about their music (strengths/weaknesses) and their influences. If they’ve got a certain sound or aesthetic in mind, that will influence how I operate from both a technical and artistic standpoint.

As a producer, one of the most important things for me to keep in mind is that I’m there to help the artist I’m working with realize their vision. I may have creative input in a project but the artist always has the final say.

Paul and I have similar technical approaches to recording because we studied together at the McGill tone Meister recording program so there wasn’t too much deliberation from a technical standpoint; a bit of microphone talk and that was it.

From an aesthetic standpoint, we all agreed that the focal point of this music is the voice, so we went about framing the vocal in a way that best complemented Steves lyrics and performances.

We discussed that preserving a certain raw and paired down element to the Nature Of record would be very important. This involved using room mics on many of the elements we recorded, favoring vintage instruments, amplifiers, microphones and preamps. We also made sure the arrangements didn’t get to dense or overwhelm the lead vocal.

3.  Any memorable moments from the studio or working with Nature Of/ Bent River Records?

All the people involved in this project from the band to the staff and to the students were enthusiastic, driven, and excited to make something truly special. For me, adopting a “yes and” attitude is crucial to making something unique and all parties involved were on board… that’s what always makes the most memorable recordings.

4. What projects are you looking forward to this year?

This is going to be a really fun year indeed.
I’m currently working on the new Little Scream record.
I recently finished Tim Baker’s (Of Hey Rosetta) solo record that will be coming out this year.
I worked on the new Begonia record that will also be coming out this year.
I’ve been writing new material for a yet to be named project of my own that I’m very excited about.
And I’m starting a couple of top secret projects this spring… stay tuned!