It’s no secret that COVID-19 lockdowns have dealt a massive blow to many of the small joys of the student experience. Gone are the days of walking from lecture to lecture with a friend, laughing about a ridiculous thing a professor said, or bonding over a banh mi sandwich at lunchtime. Also gone are the wild nights out that punctuate the rigorous academics at McGill. With the university experience distilled to its most basic essence in a remote learning environment, much of the colour that usually defines student life has been drained.
Greenhouse Effect is an upcoming student record label that is trying to bring that joy back into university life. By providing an affordable platform for students to showcase their music, the group aims to add some spirit to the student body and lift aspiring musicians off the ground and into the digital atmosphere. The club, presently run by four McGill undergraduate students, is presently looking for new student artists to join their team for the upcoming Winter 2021 semester.
I spoke to the record label’s social media manager, Maddy Hay (U2 trumpet performance), about the importance of maintaining a creative outlet for students at McGill. Over Zoom, the enthusiastic musician professed her love for performing, as well as the importance of having an organized platform to bond over shared interests with other creatives.
“We have so many talented students at McGill who I’m certain just need a little push of motivation to create great things,” Hay shared, referencing the scarcity of formal creative courses at McGill. “They just need to know that there are other people out there who have their back and genuinely just want to help them create the best possible artistic product that they can.”
It’s easy to see why Greenhouse Effect would appeal to an average student in Montreal. Their Instagram is lined with images of neon lights and scenic shots of the city’s boardwalk in Old Port. These pictures evoke the pure, carefree fun of partying and exploring the city before COVID-19 shut down all of Montreal’s nightlife. In fact, one of the songs under the record label, “14 Weeks of Quarantine,” channels the genre of punk to express the frustration of having to stay indoors with nothing but a dark news cycle for entertainment.
Yet, Hay stressed that punk isn’t the only genre that Greenhouse Lift produces. “Mostly it’s indie, but we also have folk right now, some alt stuff, some EDM, some pop,” she shared. “It can be literally anything. Usually, it’s more vocal based, but I’m super open-minded … If it’s good music, it’s good music.”
Beyond just providing platforms for students to share their music with the public, Greenhouse Effect also runs frequent challenges on their Instagram to keep the student body jamming and engaged. In October, the club ran a poll to determine the ultimate breakup song. (The winner? “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye.) For Halloween this year, the club hosted a socially distanced drinking game over Twitch.
Hay stressed the importance of a virtual, musical community in helping students weather through the drear of yet another semester of online school. “The average mental health of the student body was already precarious before COVID-19, and since [the pandemic], it has somehow found a way to crumble further,” said the student-musician, “Students need an outlet, and if not a trained professional, since wait times for McGill therapists are insane, then why not an artistic outlet?”
To get involved with Greenhouse Effect in the Winter 2021 semester, fill out an artist application here.