By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Nathan Gignac knew if he was going to get big, Hollywood was a great place to start.
The 28-year-old Cornwall-native is part of a wave of Canadian musicians chasing the American dream. In January, Gignac moved to California and enrolled at the Musicians Institute.
After being in the LA-area for a short period of time, he’s already rocked legendary venues like The Roxy and Whiskey a Go-Go. Opened for major acts from P. Diddy and Warren G to Otep and Norma Jean. Plus, one of the three bands he’s with, Neo Geo, are releasing their sophomore album, Digital DNA, on October 22 under Hermosa Beach indie label Hardline Entertainment.
“I had no doubt that music was my passion, but I had never really been on any large tours or been through pressure from others,” said Gignac. “So I figured this would be an opportunity to see if I would sink or swim. And I’m still swimming.”
A rare turnaround in the music industry, for an aspiring guitarist who previously watched his shot at stardom sink away.
In 2009, after winning Toronto’s Paragon Online.ca’s Band Clash 20/20 finals, Gignac and then-band Fathom Ties were set. They took home a $20,000 cash prize, plus $20,000 in prizing that included a $10,000 recording package, live video shoot, and major publicity in trade magazines.
The band broke up shortly after.
“I was crushed when Fathom Ties split up,” said Gignac. “In fact, for months it was hard to pick up the guitar and have any sort of inspiration.”
Still, Gignac and his guitar didn’t waste any time gently weeping. He played locally with an acoustic party cover band called “Dirty Uncle,” until he decided it was time to scope out a new music scene.
He watched the St. Lawrence River fade in the rearview as palm trees and California sunshine became the new scenery.
“I figured that Los Angeles is the mecca of entertainment,” said Gignac. “And that this would not only be an experience of a lifetime, but also an eye opener as to where I stand in the larger pool of talent.”
For now, Gignac is back in Cornwall seeing family and friends, while saving up money for another round at the institute.
In terms of music, he said it’s hard to compare the two cities.
“One thing I will say is that, while LA bases art how it can marketed and profited by; whereas, the Cornwall I know appreciates something that is raw and most importantly real,” said Gignac.
Other bands he plays for are: Dead Heroine, a straight-up heavy rock band made from within the walls of the institute; who he’s currently writing and recording an EP with. And Kauze, a metal band located in the heart of Hollywood.
Gignac attributes his success to being from a family of musicians and artists that support his every move. He will be going on tour with Neo Geo, in September.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to you to follow your instincts and pursue your goals and dreams no matter what anybody tells you,” said Gignac.
Follow this link to hear Neo Geo: www.neogeomusic.com/.