VIMA’s eclectic scene ready to roll

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February 26, 2013

The Vancouver Island Music Awards (VIMA) is gearing up for the 9th Annual Awards show on April 28th. Some of this year’s nominees include the Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra, Steph MacPherson, Woodsmen, Man Made Lake, and Carli and Julie Kennedy.  Andrea Routley recently talked with James Kasper, the founder and producer of VIMA, about what to expect.

So, 9th Annual Vancouver Island Music Awards, and you’ve been there from the beginning. You must have heard hundreds of submissions by now, and across such diverse categories like rock/metal, jazz, pop, spoken word . . . Have you noticed any musical trends over the years, or recurring themes? Is there a way to describe “Vancouver Island Music”?

There is definitely an eclectic scene here on the Island, with everything from blues to metal. But probably what I hear most is a kind of vocal-based organic roots-rock sound. I think it’s been like that here for years, from what I’ve observed.

Is there a particular artist or group that stands out over the years? Why?

Any artist who works hard and doesn’t give up despite the challenges and adversity . . .  Any artist who treats other artists and fans with respect and kindness no matter what level of success they achieve . . . Those are the artists who stand out to me.

The Awards show is a huge production. You’ve got 1,000 tickets for sale, up to dozens of performers, advertisers, media–camera crew, artist collaborations . . . So quick:  Best VIMA show moment ever?

Oh wow, where to begin . . . I like the moments where the audience is so excited to hear the winner’s name that people begin screaming even before the presenter is finished reading the card . . . This happened in 2011 when Aegis Fang won for Male Vocalist, and in 2012 when Lindsay Bryan won for Song of the Year. And really, the whole event is just a rush. I spend 8 months of my year preparing for the main event, and it’s pretty exciting to see it all crystallize into a 3-hour show.

Now, Worst VIMA show moment ever:

Hm, well, the cue cards have presented some interesting challenges over the years, including the first awards presentation in 2011 when the cue cards weren’t ready, and the presenters were left to improvise until I sent the hosts out to do damage control, which they they did just fine. It was stressful at the time, but some people told me later they thought it was all part of the act. Ha. Also, several years back, when David Gogo and David Lennam were hosting, they were asked to give out a door prize and they somehow procured an actual honest-to-goodness door in the rubble backstage and brought it out as a “door prize.” At that point, I shook my head and thought to myself, “I have completely lost control of this show.”

James, you are also a prolific musician, both as a touring musician and a recording artist. What can awards do for a music career?

I always advise independent musicians to just take advantage of any opportunity they can to expose their work and build their network of contacts. A music awards show is one such opportunity. And the Island Music Awards have always been much less about competition and much more about community, celebrating the Island’s music scene, and a way for a diverse array of musicians and music industry representatives to come together on one night and network with each other.

Last summer, VIMA’s put out a call for community support, seeking donations from businesses in order to continue into 2013. The goal was $100 from 50 island businesses. What happened with that?

To be honest, it wasn’t the result we were hoping for. There were some donations from a couple of businesses and a couple of musicians, which we were very grateful to receive, but the event is still in dire need of financial sponsors in order to stay afloat. Any Island business wanting to support this event can reach me at . . . because if we can stay afloat, it would be nice to have a 10th anniversary next year!

The 9th annual Vancouver Island Music Awards show takes place Sunday, April 28th at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, downtown Victoria. Tickets are available now. Contact

For the full list of 2013 nominees, visit


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