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Matt Blair takes the indie road anyway

By Cameron Gordon

In the republic of Toronto, Matt Blair is many things to many people. He is the founder of Indiepolitik, a social action group for Toronto’s indie music community. He is the organizer of the highly successful Just fundraiser nights, dedicated to playing a single track ad nauseum in support of local charities (Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” are two of the tracks to get the Just treatment). He helps curate the Strong Words reading series for independent authors. And last but certainly not least, he is the son of Bill Blair, Toronto’s Chief of Police.

You’d think that public service and independent arts would mix like oil and water, but in the Blair family, the mix is more amicable. Broken Pencil sat down recently with Matt Blair to discuss his dad, his deeds and his outlook on the state of the DIY spirit in his hometown.

BP: With your father so much in the public eye, is it something you find yourself talking about on a daily basis?

MB: Not really. I actually find he’s not really as much in the public eye as most people think. It’s less legitimate questions from strangers and more gentle ribbing from friends-nothing I can’t handle, anyway.

BP: Did you ever entertain notions of following in your dad’s footsteps, career-wise?

MB: Maybe a bit when I was younger but never for very long. He’s always been very encouraging of making your own choice in life, and keeping options open.

BP: Indiepolitik seems to be an organization that will help champion any worthy endeavour that falls under the “indie” banner. How do you decide which projects Indiepolitik will pursue?

MB: Almost everything happens on a touch-and-go basis, and especially when Indiepolitik first launched in mid-2005, every project we thought was worth doing, we tried out, just to see if it would work. We launched the Strong Words reading series after a couple of months, and it’s been going strong since. We’ve done a number of fundraisers and have more in the planning stage for the future. And it’s really only now that we’re formalizing everything and building an actual non-profit organization.

BP: From your very first Just Ace of Spades night, your song marathon fundraisers have garnered amazing levels of coverage within the mainstream, especially for events rooted within that indie ideal. What has been your reaction to the attention so far?

MB: All three of the fundraisers have been learning experiences about how the mainstream media works-nothing else that Indiepolitik does comes close to getting that level of coverage. Sure, a lot of it is the name recognition that comes with the artists we feature but if that’s what it takes to get the Regent Park School of Music on the CBC or Much Music, it’s well worth it.

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