A capital idea
The members of Carter and the Capitals encapsulate everything the music program offers
The first year of any post-secondary program is a whirlwind—finding your bearings, keeping up with homework and connecting with other students. But MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music program is a whole other animal—one that requires students to attend concerts and engage in the music community as well.
“I was told before I came to MacEwan that ‘you get out of it what you put in,’” says Lindon Carter, Composition major.
But it wasn’t until his second year that Lindon and four other students decided to get the most out of their music program experience and start a band.
“In my first year, I was just going to shows and meeting people, and studying a lot,” he recalls. “I was overwhelmed with that. There was no point starting a group in first year because I didn't know enough people, I didn’t know the ropes, I didn’t know what sound I wanted to go for and what kind of band I wanted to be in.”
When Lindon figured those things out, he joined together with Sam Malowany, Ali Mirzaie and Eric Wildeman to form Carter and the Capitals. (The band went through a few keyboard players as the group settled in, but eventually Eric Doucet found a home in the band.)
“We all come from very different musical styles,” says Lindon. “Eric’s a metal guitarist—you couldn’t really tell that now because he can do everything. Our bassist, Ali, plays jazz and all the funk-rock stuff. Our drummer, Sam, plays in punk rock bands and is a great jazz drummer as well.”
It didn’t take long for the group to develop its own sound—funk-pop fused with R&B—and dive into the process of writing songs and developing their image and brand. Soon after, Carter and the Capitals began booking shows and going on summer concert tours.
Balancing life as both a student and a working musician is no easy feat. Eric W. recalls playing three gigs a week, and the times late nights gigs clashed with the next day’s classes.
“My grades never slacked at all but I sure felt the stress in the busy times,” he says. “As musicians, I think we just learn to say yes, figure things out as we go, and typically things work out. It’s definitely not a great way to live constantly but it’s part of musically improvising and just running with it.”
Putting a band together during the program, as difficult as scheduling may be, is something Lindon highly recommends to future music students.
“It’s a lot of work in terms of balancing shows and late nights, but it’s so vital,” he says. “When I come out of university, the fact that I have a solid group is the best thing. I’m still going to be in a limbo state—I’ve been in school since I was six and I haven’t come up to a September when I haven’t been going to school—so to have a group of friends and musicians right after graduation is important. I’ve already built up that whole networking base from scratch.”
In June, four of the five band members graduate from the program (bass player Ali has another year to go), and they epitomize everything the music program has to offer—composing, theory, performing, recording, career management and more.
Even though his childhood dream was to be a rock star and perform on stage, Lindon wasn’t planning to study music after high school. He was ready to pursue a psychology degree until a friend in the music program convinced him to follow a different path.
“He said if I wanted to do music, I had to commit myself at a young age,” says Lindon. “And I realized I couldn’t just do it on the side. If I wanted to really try it, then I had to go all in.”
Meet the band
From left to right:
Eric Wildeman, lead guitar
Ali Mirzaie, bass
Eric Doucet, keyboard/synthesizer
Lindon Carter, lead vocals and guitar
Sam Malowany, drums
MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the Class of 2017. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.
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