James Kasper wants you to buy local, and he’s not just talking about fruits and vegetables.
“Supporting local artists, that’s just as important,” Kasper said, reflecting on the motivation behind his new label Blue Water Gun records.
As the founder and executive director of the Vancouver Island Music Awards, Kasper has made a career of promoting homegrown musical talent and fostering a network of collaborative artists over the past two decades.
“(Blue Water Gun) has a mandate of positive contribution to the community, artist development, youth mentoring and accessibility – a lot of things that major labels aren’t known for,” Kasper said.
“We don’t just want people who want to be rock stars, we want people who want to contribute to the community, do something bigger and just get involved in helping younger musicians to hone their craft.”
Part of that contribution to the community means each label artist will be paired with a charity, and will help promote its cause.
Kasper touts the label’s first concept band, White Hot Jet, as the modern Runaways, an all-girl rock group for which Kasper just held auditions. The group will debut at the label launch in spring of next year.
He also plans on rallying seasoned local musicians to donate a few hours of their time every few months to help foster new talent on the Island.
“We’ll have a long list of bassists, drum players, guitarists, singers and vocal coaches rotating on a constant basis so we always have somebody available to mentor,” Kasper said.
Blue Water Gun’s first signing will be local indie band Man Made Lake, he said.
Kasper’s advice to new bands is simple: success requires not just talent, but the right mix of business sense and attitude.
“If they’ve got something great to offer, and they fit into that mandate, then they’re a great candidate for the label.”