I’ve been thinking about moving.
This isn’t a new thought. I’ve moved many times over the years, most notably to Austin and Toronto. I love living in big cities; Toronto is in my Top 5 favorite places on the planet. Despite the cost of living and the traffic, I treasured my time there and have frequently considered going back in the nearly six years I’ve spent away.
Saskatchewan is my home. It’s where my people are, and where my roots run deep. Being here, my toddler gets to see her grandparents often. She gets to play with her cousins and spend many of her days at a small farm, outside in the clean air and without screens. I don’t take for granted the closeness of my dear friends and family. This closeness is what I missed most when I lived thousands of kilometres away from home. It’s why I moved back (that, and the expense of the city).
But is Saskatchewan a place for indie rock acts?
I could certainly argue it’s a great place for some kinds of musicians. Cover artists and country artists do well here. But indie rockers?
To be certain, some stellar hustlers have made it work. I think immediately of Rah Rah, Library Voices, Def-3, and further back, Wide Mouth Mason. Most of them, at some point, moved away. But they started here. They pulled it off.
Moving to a big city isn’t a guarantee of success. It’s probably the opposite. There’s so much more opportunity, but that opportunity comes at the cost of accessibility. Everything is more difficult: jamming and rehearsing, getting into venues to perform, the higher costs of frequently going out to live shows, the longer transit times, and on.
Michael and I made that mistake the first time we moved to Toronto in 2013. We were starry-eyed idealists chasing a dream. But the dream died when we scraped up against reality. The reality being that we were broke, lonely, and in way over our heads.
I’d like to think I’m smarter now, that I could plan instead of daydream, that I could take action instead of sitting around. I’m better at risk-taking than I was. I’m less afraid. But it’s so easy to kid myself into thinking that the Big City is a cure-all, the single thing that’ll make everything else work. I already made that mistake once, and still I want to believe it’s true.
The pragmatic approach is to stay in Saskatchewan for a while. Hunker down and use the low cost of living and stability to my advantage. But the dreamer in me – the one who craves excitement and a rich storybook life – wants to dive into the bright lights and loud noises and small living spaces and crowded streets, to hell with it all.
At the very least, I’m staying put until 2021, in no small part because of Covid. After that, all bets are off.