Durham College student Jeremy (Jay) Hartwell, 20, is in his fourth semester studying video production, but has been a fixture on Riot Radio the entire time, where his hard work and exuberance for music and independency is on display in his show ‘Sub-Terranean.’
The point of the show is to bring underground music to life, introducing local Ontario rock bands who are performing in restaurants and contests as they build up their reputation. He was inspired by independent music station Indie88 bringing artists together and the band A Fistful of Vinyl.
The bands perform live on his show at Durham and talk about their origins, inspirations and lives. Whenever Hartwell is unable to find someone, he instead plays some of his favourite tunes and talks about them. However, more than 80 per cent of the time, Hartwell has managed to have a guest on his show. During his 38 episodes, he has successfully managed to have 28 individual bands on his show since he began in 2016, three of them returning for encores.
Some of the bands Hartwell has brought to his show are: Ghost Town Architects, Death by Carl, Backyard Riot, Scudfux and Xephyr. He also occasionally brings independent performers.
His favourite guest performers are The Cardboard Crowns, coincidentally the first one to perform live on his show.
“They’re good friends of mine at this point. I [even] drove out to Kingston to see them at one show.”
How does he find out about all these bands?
“Finding different shows and stuff is moreso about finding venues where those bands perform,” he said, citing the Hard Luck Bar, Smiling Buddha, Atria Bar and the Moustache Club as examples.
“I usually average five contacts [of bands] at one time. Planning up to two months ahead sometimes,” said Hartwell. He once travelled to Ottawa for one of these concerts.
In addition to video production, he was also in the game development program at Durham.
“It’s always been hard balancing all aspects between the concerts going to shows getting home at 2 a.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it.”
Hartwell is also a musician. He plays the violin, trombone and is now learning how to play the drums and has worked for bands in the past.
During one episode, Hartwell and Billy Oyster a.k.a. Dustin Kornegay, a guitarist who has been on the show twice, had a discussion on songwriting.
“In order to write a song, there’s a singularity of intent that carries through the whole song and then you expand it like an accordion into a particular image, and you have to have that continuity the whole way through,” said Oyster.
What Hartwell does is make up lyrics that appear in a situation and with the help of the band, ‘Frankenstein’ it together. One example is the chorus: “My reckless behaviour, something to savour” and then you patch another lyric on top, such as “just like your last cigarette” or “just like the whiskey on your breath.”
If all goes according to plan, Hartwell will graduate this semester and go on to make music videos, most likely for a film studio.