After a two-year hiatus, Mighty Speck Records has returned and the Nanaimo-headquartered, Island-focused record label has announced its new 21-band roster.
Seven Nanaimo-based artists were named to the label, as well as nine representing Victoria and one each from Comox Valley, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Port Alberni and Salt Spring Island. The artists cover genres including folk, rock, heavy metal and hip hop.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” Mighty Speck founder James Kasper said of the response to his call for submissions. “I expected more like about maybe a dozen or 15 artists applying and I think we ended up with about 35.”
Kasper said it’s an enthusiastic group of artists, split evenly between emerging musicians in the first few years of their careers and seasoned artists who have been at it for at least a decade. Kasper said he was looking for skilled musicians who also shared the label’s spirit of community-mindedness and an interest in charity work.
“When I’d hear from somebody it was kind of obvious right from the outset whether they were a fit for the most part,” he said.
One of those artist is Ryan C. Schmeister, a 21-year-old VIU nursing student who originally hails from Powell River. He’s been playing guitar for the past eight years and started playing for money when he was 15. Schmeister started out as a “straight-up metal guy” and released a metal album in 2018 but changed directions when he found it difficult to replicate his dense arrangements as a solo act.
“I ended up getting into the acoustic guitar and trying to translate my weird, progressive rock and metal stuff into a one-man, singer-songwriter context and it just slowly blossomed into its own thing,” he explained. “So I suppose if I was to try and define myself, I’m a weird cross between folky, singer-songwriter acoustic guitar and a voice and progressive rock and metal.”
Schmeister said he saw the Mighty Speck callout on social media and after reading about the label and its goals he was immediately “blown away.” Within 24 hours of learning about Mighty Speck’s existence, Schmeister was signed to his first record label.
“I’ve never heard of a record label with such genuinely good intentions, not only for the artists that they represent, but as well as the communities which their artists are in…” he said. “It’s just such a unique and special thing that we have going here. I’m really thrilled to be able to be part of it.”
The Mighty Speck artist roster includes Victoria’s Alli Bean, Atomsmatter, Big Flakes, Hekate’s Torch, Mulligan, Signal Static, White Hot Jet, Provinces and Jackson Slater. Nanaimo musicians include Bruce Gerrish, Hallam Highwater, Kasper, Schmeister, Shakes, Social Silence and Trevor Price. Artists Clunky Boots, Geoff Johnson, The Grinning Barretts, The Kerri Tales and Superfeather hail from Comox Valley, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Port Alberni and Salt Spring Island respectively.