The search is on, and Ryan Guilbeault wants to be discovered.
Shuswap residents may know the 28-year-old Sicamous native for his powerful vocals and his affinity for funky grooves with the bands Scarecrow, Lead Painted Toys and, currently, Shoe Swap.
These days, Ryan is busy penning all new original material for an upcoming album. But he’s not waiting for the release party to make first release, Dance of Life, public. He’s chosen this track to be his entry into this year’s Searchlight: The Hunt for Canada’s Best New Artist competition by CBC Radio.
“I figured, I’m doing these recordings, I might as well see how far we can go with this,” said Guilbeault, describing Dance of Life as a ‘funkier’ tune. “Basically, it’s about… me and my wife. When things happen or people don’t necessarily believe in you, as long as we do it together, we can do this dance of life and we’ll be successful.”
Guilbeault said his dad (and frequent bandmate), John Guilbeault, entered Searchlight last year, so he made it a point to have something ready for this year’s contest. The top prizes include $20,000-worth of music equipment from Yamaha Canada and a spot on a high-profile music showcase. The contest begins regionally, and the success of entrants depends on how many votes they receive. Guilbeault is part of the Kelowna region, and as of March 20 was competing against 70 fellow artists.
“But it’s not bad… I don’t know how many regions there are. There could be hundreds. But someone has got to win, so it might as well be me,” laughs Guilbeault.
In the regional competition, entrants are paired down to the top 10, who move on to the national competition. From there the public will select one semifinalist, and another three will be chosen by this year’s panel of Searchlight judges – musicians Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Operators), Jenn Grant and Saukrates – who will also decide the winner.
Though he has his eyes on the grand prize, Guilbeault sees entering the contest as an opportunity – his song will be on the Searchlight website for all to hear.
As for the album, Guilbeault says it’s a slow process but it’s coming together. This is largely to do with the fact that he’s doing it all himself.
“Everything on it is me… I’ve done all the parts, so it’s been a lot of work to put any of them together,” said Guilbeault, noting he’s trying to keep the album danceable and fun. “I’m a bass player at heart… so I tend to play more funkier kinds of songs because the bass lines are more fun. I tend to have that feeling in a lot of what I do anyway. So this album is really coming out to be more funkier, more danceable stuff.”
The public can begin voting on Monday, March 30, and people can vote for up to 10 of their favourite entrants daily. Guilbeault’s song can be heard at http://music.cbc.ca/#!/artists/Ryan-Guilbeault.