Back to the bushes

Even as indoor music venues reopen, Revelstoke's secretive bass music scene is growing, led by local DJ collective Group Research Project.

Canada Day Rave Hosted by Group Research Project. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

This story is part of a feature that first appeared in print in Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine’s September 2022 issue. Read the entire e-edition here:

Under a cover of pine trees and stars, the ground trembles from bassy growls. Far past the reaches of the nearest cell tower, they gather in a sea of sparkles, mismatched patterns, and strobe flashes through the hemlocks.

Even as Footloose-esque laws relax and indoor music venues reopen, Revelstoke’s secretive backwoods rave scene is growing. At the centre of this bass-music renaissance is Group Research Project; a local DJ collective led by Nick St-Germain (a.k.a. DJ Kitchen Sink) and Justin Jackson (a.k.a. DJ Juicy J).

The group says it is supported by dedicated volunteers, attendee donations and electronic music aficionados, Group Research Project celebrated their first anniversary in August 2022. Their first event saw approximately 200 attendees. Since then, some events have seen nearly double that attendance.

“I want to create an open space for people to be exposed to really cool underground music, while being in a safe environment. Where you can express yourself and be free with whatever you do,” reflects St-Germain on the groups inception and their first event over a year ago.

Through word-of-mouth advertising, the group has attracted hundreds of artists and attendees; extending beyond the general Revelstoke area.

“We are now having out-of-town artists and well-known Shambhala [Music Festival] DJs play at our events, and we are also outreaching to artists outside of Revelstoke to come to town and play and show us their art,” St-Germain says. While the secretive nature inhibits name-dropping, DJs from the Nelson area are rumored to appear at their next event.

Group says it prioritizes attendee safety and minimizing environmental impact

Despite operating in a legal grey-area, Group Research Project says it has pulled off these events for one year without any serious incidents.

The group says it uses on-site medical and harm reduction staff, sober drivers, attendee camping areas and a dedicated “green team.” Keeping an underground profile also promotes a caring environment, St-Germain explains.

“We have our followers come to [us] specifically. It’s not just random people that show up in town. It’s people that follow us, that know the culture, that know how to properly rave.”

So, how does one properly rave? Recently, Group Research Project says it introduced a dedicated harm reduction tent where attendees can have a calm place to chill out, refuel on water, snacks and electrolytes, and get information about how different substances interact with each other. Naloxone kits are a common sight, fixed to fanny packs and utility belts on volunteers and attendees alike.

“Anything can happen, whether it’s at a rave or not. That being said, we do everything that we can to anticipate those situations,” St-Germain adds. This is where their team of sober drivers come in. The group maintains an evacuation plan at all their events, with enough volunteers to safely get people home.

While Group Research Project keeps their locations secretive until the day of the events, the group says Revelstoke paramedics are always notified of their exact destination, St-Germain says.

As for environmental impacts, St-Germain is well aware of the damage that noise, garbage and human waste can cause to local ecosystems.

“A big part of my mentality is also to leave nature and the environment better than it was,” he says. “We have a green team that kind of comes in after the event, and they will do all the nitpicking of little pieces of trash that we’ve missed.”

With an eye on the future and continued growth, St-Germain pays homage to the people who bring it all together.

“These events wouldn’t happen without anyone, all of our volunteers. So, we have an insane amount of people that are happy and want to volunteer at all of our events. I just want to give the biggest thank you to those volunteers because these events wouldn’t happen without them.”

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Bailey Gingras-Hamilton is a recent graduate of the Mount Royal University Journalism program, where she developed an interest in current events and social issues. As a chronically curious individual, she enjoys exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures.