Sound Analysis

Interview: Tanya van Rooy

Perhaps best known for her film production work through Howl At the Moon Films, Waterford’s Tanya van Rooy contributes significantly to the local music scene, but also to many other aspects of Norfolk’s arts and culture scene as well. Most recently, van Rooy helped organize the TRIO Jazz performance at the Simcoe Little Theatre a couple weeks ago, an event which displayed a lot of potential for the future of live music in Simcoe. We were first introduced to her work when she provided some very valuable knowledge and assistance to our Sideshow project last summer, at Gentlemen of the Road’s Simcoe Stopover. While many have wondered what will happen to live music in Norfolk after that landmark event, locals like van Rooy are making things happen.

SA: You’re currently working on a website called Culture Rodeo. What can you tell us about that?
TvR: I love Norfolk County. It has so much happening that I want to tell people about. I do this every time I speak to someone, talk about what is happening. There isn’t anything like Culture Rodeo in this area so I decided to build it. I began last winter thinking about it and now I am doing it.

I want to have a spot people go to if they are looking to have lunch or dinner out or an evening on the town. I want to connect the audience with these great experiences. I hope in turn both the audience and the events grow. One of my mentors, Kit Julian, always tells me that you build the place you want to live, and for me this is Norfolk County.

Culture Rodeo is hopefully going to grow in turn to sponsor and present events. The first event it is presenting is an intimate performance of Milo MacMahon from Montreal. He is a neat guy. He is a comical storyteller and a talented musician. He is touring with his band now but is coming to Norfolk to do an acoustic show on November 2 at Serafina Good Food Upstairs. There is a three course meal included. It should be a lot of fun. Tickets are $35 and only 50 people fit. People can email me about tickets at for more information on that or head into Serafina Good Food.

SA: You recently produced a film about mental tragedy called Homages, which will be shown at the Hamilton Film Festival. What did you want to accomplish with this film, and where can we see it?
TvR: This was a major learning project for me. I had never done something of that scale before. All of the dots lined up. I met an actor while tree-planting, his friend had a script, my business partner at the time was a very talented cinematographer, the actor I met had friends, and so on. I read the script and loved it. I didn’t quite get it to be honest, but I knew I loved the words he wrote. I loved that he had cultural references like Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, etc.. I loved that he wanted to use a record cover from Mazzy Star. I loved that it was to be an art film in black and white and done in a film noir style, like Jean Luc Godard. It was intoxicating. I couldn’t say no. Everyone seemed to want to do it if I agreed to produce it. So I did. We had almost no budget but I managed to get everything we needed for the film, and more in some instances. I guess what I wanted to get from this was to prove to myself I could do it. I would love to be able to produce more full-length films, especially one I write myself. I have an idea that I want to work on. As soon as I get some free time, that is what I will be doing. It will be a lot easier to secure funding etc. with one finished and shown at festivals. It seemed that whenever I looked at grants, it was kind of in the criteria to have completed projects, and now I have that.

I will show it in Norfolk County at the Strand most likely, I have already inquired about renting the space etc. and eventually I want to set it up in a pay-to-stream type fashion. But for now it is opening the Hamilton Film Festival and playing on November 3rd, a Monday evening. They are holding a red carpet gala from 6-8 at the Staircase Theatre, it is free and anyone can go to that. And then at 8 just steps away for $10, our film is playing. Tickets are for sale now on their website.

SA: Recently, you helped bring TRIO Jazz to the Simcoe Little Theatre, a show that was well-attended and generally awesome. What did you learn from that event?
TvR: From TRIO Jazz I learned that Simcoe Little Theatre is such a great local venue not just for theatre but for music as well. It is interesting because you can bring alcoholic beverages to your seat. It has all of the requirements available to present virtually any show. It was fantastic to have new people into the space.

SA: Where do you see live music in Norfolk County heading?
TvR: It can only grow. With the highly likely prospect of being recognized as an official wine region next year, tourism will definitely pickup and along with that comes more music! It is a very exciting time in Norfolk County. I know that I am meeting people moving here from cities more frequently because they can see what we have, along with cheaper housing, of course, but they need things to do here too.

The Old Town Hall in Waterford has a fantastic concert series they do every spring. They have brought in artists like Martha Wainwright and Elliott BROOD. They are helping to grow the audience. Simcoe Little Theatre is beginning to test the waters, and the Lighthouse Festival Theatre also has cool music acts like on November 15th, for Norfolk Has Talent, they are bringing in Professor Louie and the Crowmatix. They sound fun.

We have also seen Burning Kiln and Blueberry Hill Estates host a jazz festival this year and Ryan VandenBussche hold a folk and blues festival. I went to CornStock this year and I thought it was a gem. I can’t believe I haven’t gone before. It was a riot.

SA: What sort of demand do you think exists for live music in Norfolk County? And which genres have the most potential?
TvR: That is the magic question. I know what I love. Indie music and electronic. We haven’t seen too much in the way of DJs but I think we have beautiful beaches and that would be interesting to explore. For the county, hard to say, we do have 60,000 people here so I would think that there would be an audience for all types. It would be fantastic to poll people somehow and give them what they want and what they like. Happy people in our area would go a very long way to upping our quality of life, and that is really what it is all about.

SA: Last year, you helped organized the downtown festival during Gentlemen of the Road’s Simcoe Stopover. One year later, what sort of legacy do you think that event has left?
TvR: Well, I definitely hear more talk about what can we do next and people seem more open then pre-Mumford days. I think that the legacy they left was that our area was stamped by a top-notch British act. I think everyone that participated has a little tattoo on their soul that will connect everyone in the community for years to come. It is great too when trying to find small talk, everyone has something to say about that.

SA: Are there any plans that you’re working on, that you can reveal?
TvR: Well I would like to do some sketch comedy stuff. I have recently rented a loft in downtown Simcoe and hope to regularly get some of my actor friends together and film bits and pieces of hilariousness. We have so much talent here it’s mad. Go follow howlatthemoonfilms on Youtube and you may get to see some. We are going to meet up this Friday for the first go, and it may take me a bit to edit and get it up live because it is a busy time, but I hope this can be a more regular thing.. turn it into a web show ideally.

SA: Who are your favourite Norfolk County musicians?
TvR: Definitely Fred Eaglesmith and Tiffany. She probably has a better stage name. She opened for Fred at the Old Town Hall and man, she rocked. Fred was awesome too! I really loved their show. It was the first time seeing or really hearing them and I was an instant fan. I now understand why friends of mine post that they are so excited because they are going to a Fred show somewhere across this continent.

This post was written by Scott

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