Ready? Set? Record

Tara Bradbury
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RPM challenge deadline is Friday

Local musician Ethan Gough — the artist formerly known as EGo — is currently working on his fourth album. He’s been making music ever since he can remember, and was cutting records before he was cutting teeth.

Ethan turned five last month, and looks forward to the RPM challenge every year.

“I’m doing good with it. I only have one more song to do. I think I have maybe nine or 12 done already,” Ethan told The Telegram. The precocious youngster explained he makes the songs up as he goes, and will play along on the drums or by patting the strings on the bass.

“Daddy has an app where you make a vocal,” he said. “I’ve just been making up songs as I go along. I have a good variety.”

In his songs, Ethan addresses issues like all the places he washes his hands, or “how everybody knows everybody.”

Ethan’s dad, Will Gough, said Ethan has always been gifted at music, though neither he nor his wife, Katherine, put any pressure on him. Ethan was just about a year old when they put him in front of a piano and let him bang away at the keys, and when the RPM challenge came around that year, Will got the idea to record him, take the most musical parts and mix them into tracks for an album.

That record was called “Never Too Young,” and back then, Will gave him the artist name EGo. Now that he’s old enough to pick his own musical alter-ego, Ethan’s not quite sure what to call himself; he thinks maybe Chocolate Face. He’d like to keep making music when he grows up, he said, being either a drummer or a DJ — and a hair dresser on the side.

The RPM Challenge, started in New Hampshire in 2006 by The Wire alternative newspaper, invites musicians to create a whole album of music during the month of February, containing 10 songs or 35 minutes. It’s not a contest and there’s no winner, the only prize being a sense of satisfaction.

The challenge started in this province in 2008 with The Scope, a now-defunct alternative paper run by Elling Lien and Bryhanna Greenough. Lien had heard about RPM the year it began, after asking friends to name some inspiring newspapers.

“It seemed like it would be perfect for here,” he said of the challenge

Once The Scope folded, publishing its last edition in December, Elling decided to find a way to keep RPM going.

“I really love it. I think it’s something really positive and genuine and honest that has happened here, and I didn’t want to just let that go,” he explained.

With CBC as a partner, RPM is continuing locally this month. The deadline to submit albums is Friday.

Last year’s RPM was the biggest ever, with 139 new albums written and recorded by locals, and Elling has received a similar amount of interest this year. He’s already got two completed albums in his hands.

In the past, artists have used the challenge to launch their musical careers: Kat McLevey, East of Empire and Steve Maloney — who will be showcasing at this year’s East Coast Music Week in Charlottetown, P.E.I. — all started by creating album as part of RPM, which they were then able to use as demos.

Comedian Matt Wright is putting his own twist on the RPM this year by recording a non-musical album, and Elling said he’d love to see more people branch out from music. Called ‘Vasectomy Baby’ (Wright says he is one — both his siblings are at least a decade older than he is), Wright ’s CD was recorded at The Republic over two nights earlier this week.

“I had a bunch of material that I wanted to lay down, and I felt this was a good kick in the ass to get it done. I’m not a musician — I play the guitar, but not in public — but I think there are a lot of pretty obvious similarities between comedy and music. There are a lot of creative people and good musicians working on albums, and I thought I’d jump on board and join them.”

 The album will feature a collection of material Wright has been working on for about two years, which he wanted to record before its shelf life was up.

“There’s a lot of stuff about making the transition from being in school to being an actual human, and I wanted to get that out now,” the 26-year-old explained.”

Wright plans to release the CD for purchase after the RPM is done.

In addition to producing Ethan’s album, Will is working on an RPM record of his own, with pal Alex Walsh.

Calling themselves The Iron Descendants, the duo is writing and recording songs that mix traditional Irish-Newfoundland music with heavy metal.

There’s a song describing just how Paddy Murphy died (“He got in a fight with Lukey over Paddy’s wife,” Wright said), and another, written from the point of view of a Newfoundlander working in Alberta, telling his girlfriend at home how much he misses, not her, but his quad.

There will be an RPM finish-line event at Fred’s Records

on Duckworth Street between

4-5 p.m. Friday, during which some previous RPM artists will perform. Friday night at the Eastern Edge Gallery, there will be an all-ages “last gasp” open noise jam, for anyone who wanted to record an RPM this year but didn’t. Just show up with your spoons or kazoos or pots and pans at 7 p.m.

In a month or so, Elling will announce details of a listening party for the completed RPM albums.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: RPM, The Telegram, CBC Eastern Edge Gallery

Geographic location: New Hampshire, Charlottetown, Alberta Duckworth Street

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