One-Man-Band Escapes From Solitude

By Cherelle Evelyn on September 22 2014

Shortly after the news of Robin Williams’ death hit the world, Scott Dunbar found himself atop a schoolroom desk.

“Just like something out of a movie,” Dunbar croons in a YouTube video, “O Captain, my captain. I’d never stood up on this desk if not for you.”

His musical tribute to the actor, who committed suicide Aug. 11, is just one example of how Dunbar has steadfastly adhered to a determination to write music that adds something to the conversation.

As far back as 2005, Dunbar told the Prince George Citizen: “I don’t want to write apathetic music. I want to be part of the discourse that is going on worldwide in music – to be a part of the ongoing discussion in the media, and make our work an answer, a rebuttal to it.”

It’s something Dunbar said he still thinks of often. “[The tribute song] was exactly what that was about; all of a sudden there’s a conversation about Robin Williams and

his place in culture and his significance of what he did and the significance of his death,” Dunbar said. “All we’re doing in the arts is participating in this evolving discourse. As an artist, you want to encourage other people to participate.”

Though his approach to the music remains static, Dunbar has evolved as a musician. In 2005, Dunbar was part of Floored, a band that reached about as high as a local Prince George group could go.

“PG’s music scene was such a bubble,” said Dunbar. “I don’t know if any of those guys would admit it, but we though we would get discovered right out of Prince George – because we were that good.”

If there was a battle of the bands or a prize up for grabs, Floored was it.

“We were young enough and stoked enough and confident enough because we thought we were going to do it that way.”

But reality held something different for the bandmates (which included previous Scene cover artist Jeremy Breaks).

After the band went its separate ways, Dunbar found himself in Montreal. He spent five years in what is arguably Canada’s musical hotbed, busking as a one-man band – and gaining a following.

“That was kind of my education, in many ways, of the music world,” he said. “I think in many ways it takes a lot of travelling around a lot of experiencing the larger music scene in order to understand how things get done in the world.”

And how things get done is by doing them yourself. “There are a lot of different ways of trying to crack the egg,” said Dunbar, who discovered what might be his favourite method through his Records-for-Rent series of albums released in late 2013. The concept is fairly self explanatory: Dunbar takes up residence in a friend’s home and writes and records an album based on the experiences shared for that month.

“That’s my greatest hope, that’s what I want to get back towards doing,” said Dunbar, who will be spending the next stretch of months back in Prince George teaching at the new Dreamland performing arts studio.

“It’s almost an anti-capitalist idea really. You play a house show – arrive at a place in the beginning of the month – and you earn a bit of money for food. You’re going to stay with your friends and have a bit of fun for a whole month and at the end of the month you release it, you have a party, people donate again, maybe, and then you’re on to the next town. You really don’t require much more than that.”



Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.


M2014, MusiciansNorm Coyne