Steve Bates is an artist and musician currently living in Treaty 6/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Formative experiences in DIY punk (including a local band that opened for Fugazi as their first gig), combined with an undergraduate degree in theatre design and philosophy, have been influential to his development. Finding his intuitive voice via post-hardcore was a crucial pathway towards harnessing artistic engagement with and expression of topics both personal and political. Coming of age in Winnipeg's burgeoning anarcho-punk and social justice communities in the 80s-90s, Bates played in hardcore and indie rock bands (XOXO, Pull My Daisy, Bulletproof Nothing) while contemporaneously continuing to fiddle obsessively with the shortwave radio his father bought him as a child—sensibilities that continue to meld and inform his sound work to this day.
Bates founded the Send + Receive Festival in 1998, a crucial development in putting Winnipeg on the map for avant music and experimental sound art, which he helmed for seven years. Moving to Tiohti:áke/Montréal in 2005, he took on the Sound Coordinator position at Hexagram (Concordia University), released solo and duo work on ORAL_records and two albums with his Black Seas Ensemble on The Dim Coast, while pursuing myriad other ongoing audio research, installation and collaborative projects.
Bates explores a wide range of themes his musical, installation and audio-visual work, some of which include: “the night” as a produced space of libidinal and political freedoms; barbed wire as colonial weapon; “feedback” in music, art, biological, predictive and economic systems; historical and contemporary experiences of pathological and non-pathological auditory hallucination; and most recently a speculative project on the sound of Hell. Always seeking to encourage and provoke active listening, Bates creates music and sound worlds that interrogate the listener, conscious of the listeners’ agency and desire. He strives to make work that exists at the edge of formal delimitations, that cannot help but leak out of received contexts and structures. He works in the field, on the air, in museological/gallery and performance contexts, these shifting territories being crucial to the overall texture and content of his practice. His exhibition and site-specific works have been presented throughout North America and Europe, Chile and Senegal.
Bates also continues to play in bands and make records, sometimes releasing them on his own label The Dim Coast—most notably his ‘large band’ project Black Seas Ensemble. He has made duo records as Lanterner (with sound artist and drummer Marc-Alexandre Reinhardt), as Fifths (with Elizabeth Anka Vajagic), with Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), and with Burkhard Stangl, to name a few.
After 15 years in Tiohti:áke/Montréal, Bates moved to Treaty 6/Saskatoon in late 2019—a return to the Canadian Prairies just before pandemic and a dislocation/relocation that profoundly shaped the solitary, immersive, assiduous practice that yielded his most purposive and powerful purely ‘recorded’ work to date: All The Things That Happen (Constellation, 2022).
For high-resolution downloads, click here
Contacts & Links
The Dim Coast website
Press enquiries EU:
Ed Benndorf at Dense Promotion
Ian Ilavsky at Constellation