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Gary Flanagan Official Website

ABOUT ME

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Where to begin?  I guess if you are visiting this site you probably have some interest in my music.  But what many people don't know is that I got into music rather late in the game.  I didn't even start writing songs until I was 20 going on 21.  And I didn't start learning how to play keyboard until that time either.  Traditionally, I've always been a sort of "late bloomer".

Let's go way back.  I was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada.  I grew up in the nearby neighbourhood of Riverview.  My family lived there until I was about 6, and then we moved to the suburbs of Saint John.  As far back as I can remember, music has always played an integral part of my life.

My earliest memories of music are in the rec room of our house in Riverview.  We had this big old high-fi system, and I would listen to records on the thing for hours (yes, records, I'm showing my age).  :)  I had some "Muppet Show" records that I would listen to constantly.  My oldest sister was really into music too, and I would hear alot of the stuff she would play on the high-fi.  She was really into much of the funk/dance kind of stuff that was popular at the time:  Boney M, Donna Summer, Lipps Inc, Village People, Bee Gees, etc.  I soaked it all up.  I remember the radio being on all the time when I was a kid.  Songs by the likes of Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, and ELO would provide the soundtrack for my childhood.

Then my family moved to the suburbs of Saint John.  When I was about 10, I discovered the "Business As Usual" album by Men At Work.  It was the first rock album I ever owned.  I still have it.  I listened religiously to the Top 9 at 9 which used to be on CFBC back in the day, and I loved listening to American Top 40 every Sunday afternoon with Casey Casem.  It was during this time that I really developed an ear for pop music.  I loved all those catchy little songs.  I loved nothing more than to tape songs with my cheesy little ghetto blaster and listen to them frequently.  I was also a huge fan of American Bandstand at the time.  Every Saturday afternoon, I would never miss it.  My parents had this massive stereo system at the time, and they would frequently play much of the country music that they were into.  So basically, from a very early age I was exposed to a wide variety of music, and to this day my tastes are wildly varied.  I would have it no other way.

When I was in grade 6 some buddies of mine and I entered ourselves as an act in the end of year school variety show.  We were a lip synch group, and I was the lead singer.  We did "The Heart of Rock and Roll" by Huey Lewis and the News, and "Eat It" by Weird Al Yankovic.  We got a great respose, and we ended up coming in third place.  It felt great.  This was a very pivotal moment for me.  It was right at that precise moment that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

As time went on I got more and more into music.  In high school my tastes started to change alot.  I still appreciated the pop music on the radio, but I was going more and more into darker, more obscure avenues.  I discovered Leonard Cohen when I was 16, and my life would be changed forever.  I would often come right home from school, go right to my room, shut the door, turn off the lights and lay on my bed listening to his spooky, unearthly songs.  There was just something about this music that connected with something deep within me.  I still have never heard anything else quite like it.  Also, around this same time I discovered the late night weirdness of a radio show called "Brave New Waves", which really opened up my mind to new and exciting (and strange) forms of music.  I loved it.  The fact that this show was on all night long tied in perfectly with my nocturnal lifestyle, which I still live to this day.  I am NOT a morning person and never will be.  :)

It was also during high school that I got very serious about acting.  I became very involved with a local amateur theatre group.  I appeared in many plays, mostly your typical summer stock kind of stuff.  Fun, breezy musicals.  I look back on this time very fondly.  Amongst other roles, I played Sonny in "Grease", The Mute in "The Fantasticks", an apostle in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Jonathan Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace".  This entire experience, which went on for about three years, would prove to be critically important to me later on.  Many people comment that I have an enormous amount of stage presence when I perform my music live, and it was during this time in the theatre that I cultivated this "presence" and really learned how to work the stage.

I took acting very seriously, in fact I even went so far as to audition for the National Theatre School in Montreal in 1992.  But after a while, the fun just didn't seem to be there anymore.  My thoughts kept incessantly turning to music.  It was starting to eclipse all my other interests, including theatre, so I eventually decided to bow out of the acting scene.  I still consider myself an actor, and who knows, if the right role came up some day, I could very easily see myself returning to the boards.

What many people don't know about me is that my first love was actually film.  I used to make lots of crazy art films in my teens with an old Fisher Price PXL 2000 video camera.  Remember those?  I eventually became very passionate about other mediums, including 16 MM and Super 8.  For a number of years in the early 90s, I applied to several film schools to pursue a degree in film, and to my total shock I got accepted into Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto in 1993.  I was very excited about studying film at this school, and the thought of living in a big city like Toronto was so intoxicating to me at the time.  I went there without a second thought.

Alas, it turned out to be a rather dark chapter in my life.  Ryerson was great, but I had very little money (the student loan I received was tiny) and since I had absolutely no friends or relatives in the city, financially it was deperately rough.  It got to a point where I was basically living on a packet of Mr. Noodles a day, and a slice of bread was a luxury.  I slept on an old body cushion that my roommate lent to me, and I didn't even have any blankets (I used my trench coat as a blanket).  But do I regret this time?  Not at all.  It really made me see what it's like to live below the poverty level.  It was a real learning experience.  To this day, I don't take anything for granted.  Nor do I expect anything.  It pays to be unassuming, folks.

Needless to say my film degree was left unfinished which was a hard pill to swallow at the time, but I realize now that the timing just wasn't right.  I ended up back in New Brunswick, bouncing between a series of awful, dead-end jobs.  I did get my hands on some old synthesizers, a drum machine and eventually some recording equipment, and pretty soon I was writing dozens and dozens of songs.  Music basically replaced my fervent passion for film.

In 1996 I enrolled in an Intensive French program at the Saint John Community College.  This was an awesome course.  It was basically designed so that you could enter the course not knowing a word of french, but by the end of the year you are totally bilingual.  I was very happy with this course, and I am so glad I took it.  It was a very positive experience.  It was also around 1996 that I started attending the Saint John Writer's workshop.  During one of the meetings, I had a conversation with a young man named C.S. Graves, and we learned that we shared a mutual love for keyboards and electronic music.  Our friendship continues to this day.

During my time taking the French course, at one point we had to do an oral presentation in front of the class in French, and I opted to write a song in French and play it for the rest of the class.  This would have been the first time I ever played a song I wrote for anyone outside of my immediate family and friends.  I got up there, spoke a little bit, then started playing the song.  The whole time I had my head hung low, looking down, terribly nervous.  I thought "damn, they're so quiet, they must be hating this!".  Then, when the song ended, the class erupted into a flurry of applause.  I was stunned.  The positive response felt AWESOME.  "Yeah, this is good", I thought.

Around late 1997, I went on the internet for the first time.  I somehow heard about this magazine that was published in the States called "Lexicon".  Apparently it was dedicated to 80s New Wave, so I decided to investigate.  I soon got in touch with the guy who published this magazine, David Richards.  David would eventually start his own music label Ninthwave.  I think that he had mentioned something about a call for submissions (apparently he was assembling a compilation disc featuring various indie synthpop acts).  So, I sent him a tape with a few of my songs on it, and he replied saying that he would actually like to release a full album of my material.  I was pretty excited.  Around late 1999, my first album "Anthems For The Young At Heart" was released by the Nithwave label.  As far as I know, I think this was actually the very first album that Ninthwave ever released.  As a neat footnote, Ninthwave would later go on to release Heaven 17's latest offering "Before After".

It was also in 1999 when I decided to start my own fanzine called "Nightwaves".  Basically, I wanted to do a zine that would focus on the underground electronic musician.  This was long before MySpace, and I felt like there wasn't many avenues for indie electronic acts to get exposure.  So I created one for them.  In total, I published 16 issues of Nightwaves, which ran from 1999 until 2005.  The zine opened many doors for me, and I was lucky to interview such visionaries as Stephen Singleton, Robert Moog, Roger Linn, Ron Mael, Mark Mothersbaugh, Tracey Howe, and countless others.  I decided to fold the zine last year due to a lack of funds, plus I learned the hard way that zines can be a very pricey endeavour.  Plans are currently underway for a Nightwaves website.

Ninthwave also released my second album "Another Coin in the Daydream Machine" (2000) which was embraced by those who loved my minimal, low budget approach, yet panned by critics who constantly chided my "off key singing" and "out of tune synthesizers".  :)  Also that same year, my friend C.S. Graves had decided to start his own micro label called Eleven Wave, and he released my album "Dressed In Black", which showcased my darker, more experimental side.

In 2001, I decided it was time to break down and start playing my music live.  This was a huge jump for me.  I was completely comfortable on stage acting, yet performing music was a whole other ball game.  But I felt like I had to do it.  I kind of thrust myself on stage.  In the Fall of 2001, my very first gig was at the "Electrobash" event, which was organized by myself and my friends Rod and Jenn.  It took place in Fredericton, New Brunswick in a small art gallery.  The turnout that night was pretty small, but it was still such a magical event.  I was hooked from that point on.  From that very first gig back in 2001 until the present day, I have played shows all over four provinces.  It's been one hell of a ride!

While I was signed to Ninthwave, one of my label mates was a band called Ganymede.  They had heard my stuff and liked it, and offered to release my next album on their newly formed Cohaagen label.  The album, called "Future Fashion" featured three new tracks, plus revamped, polished versions of songs off of my previous three albums.  The album would go on to meet much praise from diehard synthpop fans.  It was released in the Fall of 2002.

After "Future Fashion", I spent much time doing live gigs all over the east coast, but I did not do alot of composing or recording.  I went through a few creative dry spells that were very nasty, and I hope that never happens again.

In 2003 I decided to go back to university, this time pursuing my BA with a major in French.  I finished my BA in 2007, and I am currently working in the education field.  I live in the north end of Saint John with my wonderful wife Janelle.  She has been an amazing support to me from day one, and together we share lots of crazy adventures.

So, as things stand right now, I am poised, ready to release my fifth album on the world.  It will be called "Rhapsody in Black".  I have no clue how people will react to this album, since it is definitely NOT synthpop, and it couldn't sound any more different from my previous material.  It is definitely much more dark, deep and profound.  Personally, I think it just may be the greatest thing I have ever created, and I hope people get something out of it!