Neil Johnson and Louis Bockner with a cello named Bella

Project examines music’s role in our lives

Argenta-based duo exploring how music affects people in the Kootenays and beyond

The Music Restoration Project is a conversation started by Louis Bockner and Neil Johnson about the potential of music and its natural function in our society.

“We hope to learn what role music plays in our lives, in both subtle and obvious ways, and how we can, with a more complete knowledge and awareness of music, interact with it in ways that might benefit ourselves and the world around us,” says Bockner.

The Argenta duo was in Victoria when the idea sparked. Johnson was asked to cover BC music for a bi-weekly newsletter and Bockner was studying photojournalism. They armed themselves with a digital SLR camera and began exploring the power of music.

“After the first few interviews, we saw the incredible potential of this project and wanted to speak with all types of people to uncover and share the functions of music,” says Johnson.

They delved into how different cultures and people interact with music, and how it affects people. Johnson and Bockner are learning how much music is used by people to lift themselves up, as spiritual practice, as expression, as healing and then how it is used to manipulate people, to motivate people to do certain things.

“We see there is far more to music than is known and understood by most people, including us,” says Bockner.

When the newsletter went on hiatus, the young men, who planned to return home for the summer, brought their project with them to delve into the culture of music in the Kootenays — a beautiful area away from the “fast-paced modern life” that attracts “contemplative and creative people” who are unique, intelligent and “have a fairly intimate relationship with music.”

Interviews for MRP include conversations with former Kootenay-based duo Moontricks, Kootenay Co-op Radio host Randy Morse and luthier Jeremy Behn. Nelson singer and teacher Allison Girvan, Kaslo harpist and songwriter Dawna McLennan, Slocan Valley music producer Adham Shaikh and Winlaw-based dance instructor Slava Doval are also featured.

“Conversations usually blossom into philosophy based on past experience and also often reach subjects that are more hypothetical and on the fringes of human understanding,” said Johnson.

Along side the project’s philosophical side, Bockner and Johnson, who’ve established a natural creative flow as a team, are excited about learning the art of the interview and sharing information through multi-media. Sharing these ideas develops a common awareness in a community, which helps that community evolve. The knowledge itself can be improved upon as well, they said.

“We feel that the larger scope, the bigger answers we are looking for, are held by everyone, like pieces of a puzzle that can be brought together to form a larger picture and understanding,” says Johnson. “We want to collect those pieces and put them together on the website for all to see.”

On Facebook under the page name Music Restoration Project, it can also be found at musicrestorationproject.com where short clips are being shared. MRP will also be made into a feature-length documentary premiering at Kootenay One Fest 2014, in Kaslo.

Just launched is the MRP Indie Gogo campaign to help fund the cost of their research. To find out more go to: igg.me/at/MRP.