Travel Diary: Melbourne singer/songwriter HOWQUA takes us to Toronto

Melbourne singer/songwriter HOWQUA shares with us his journey through Canada for Canadian Music Week, his introduction to international touring and more. We tag along for his experiences in Canada, his visit to Movember headquarters in the Toronto, his last minute invitation to perform and his time spent with his friends. 

Beanie face crosses the seas

It was an early morning drive to Melbourne Airport with a mixture of excitement, nerves and snoozy eyes. We took off, headphones blazing to the sound of the inflight entertainment’s opera channel just to build the anticipation even more. The weekend prior I had just played a couple of fundraiser shows to help towards flights and now I was off to Canada to play two showcases as part of Canadian Music Week. It was actually happening.

We landed at LAX with a seven hour layover before heading to Toronto. Beanies as blindfolds, bags as pillows and jackets for blankets. A sleepy introduction to international touring.

Welcome to Canaaaada!

We made it to Toronto by midnight on the Tuesday night and had a little shut eye at my friends Zoe and Ryan’s place. First thing Wednesday we headed into the city to get our passes and have a quick peek around. When we arrived to pick up our festival wrist bands, the Canadian Music Week organiser invited me to play another show that night. It was an outdoor set and it was great to get straight into playing some tunes. There was no time for jet lag.

Another special MOment

Thursday kicked off with a visit to our friends at Movember in the Toronto headquarters. I absolutely love what this organisation does for men’s health. Late last year I had the pleasure of playing their launch shows in Melbourne and Sydney. I was now over the other side of the world and had been invited to pop in and play a few unplugged tunes for these inspiring legends. I had an introduction to the team, the video for my song ‘My Mindset’ got a little spin on the projector and I shared my journey about how music was a real help for me getting through a tough time.

We then all headed on up to this beautiful roof top and I busted out a couple of numbers and had some great chats. A very cool experience with some good souls.

Tourist Man

Oh and I was totally tourist man with a shot in front of the CN Tower.

Flying helps you grow

This photo was taken from a night I was asked last minute to come and play a set for a local music magazine at their CMW party. It was on the fly and a bunch fun. It wasn’t until I stood in front of a random height chart at the bar that I questioned how I’d grown 4 inches on my flight between Melbourne and Toronto. I’m assuming the chart may have been a little bit off as I don’t particularly remember wearing heals at any point.

Sneaky Dee’s and Nacho Cheese

Friday was pretty jam packed with meeting new people and checking out the Australian delights at the Aussie BBQ. Spread across two great venues I got to see a bunch of music and have some great hangs with old and new friends. A last minute Aussie BBQ spot became available so I jumped up with new pals Betty and Oswald and we played a couple of impromptu tunes each. Then it was straight to Sneaky Dee’s for my CMW Official showcase with some fine local acts Raycroft and CAIRO, amongst others. We took the advice of every local we met and tried the deliciously famous Sneaky Dee’s nachos, followed by a little bit of chill time and a super fun set. This showcase resulted in getting some local music blog love and being named ‘Best Solo act of CMW’. Must have been those cheesy nachos!

The lucky Horseshoe

The next day I was straight into my final showcase of the trip at Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery. This was the sister event of the Aussie BBQ and a gig set up to showcase Australian artists in solo mode. It was such a rad venue and a stage that had been graced by acts like the Stones. I jumped up on stage and played a little 20 minute set that felt pretty good. When I came off stage I had a great chat with Adam from The Agency Group who had seen the gig and really connected with my music. He had such great vibes, we decided he would be perfect to represent what I do for North America, and we took him up on his exciting offer to join the team. It was crazy to think I would now be booked by an agency that looks after acts such as Muse, Bloc Party, Vance Joy and a hell of a lot more!

the AU review

The showcase at The Horeshoe Tavern AKA ‘The Shoe’ was followed by great chats with Larry Heath of The AU Review and my first filmed interview.

From Croydon to Toronto

It was time to have a few cheeky beers with some friendly faces. Good mates from back home The Pierce Bros had also been chatting with The Agency Group so we were all in very good spirits. I actually first met these boys years ago when I put together an open mic/acoustic competition out in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne which they won. Since then we have stayed good friends and it was great to share these exciting new experiences with a couple of top lads from back home.

Hostess with the Mostess

My incredible friend Zoe who I had met while she was backpacking in Australia (and soon to be wife of one of my closest mates) was a dreamboat of a host. She looked after my manager Charlotte and I so well. Feeding us maple everything, giving us a place to crash and just being an all round legend. So the final day we spent checking out the Kensington Markets with her. We learnt about Cherry Blossoms, and Dairy Bell, I bought some fun sunglasses and a dodgy Canadian flag key ring, and I was given a free baguette from a bakery for some unknown reason. This Canadian adventure was coming to a close.

It’s been fun my Mapley friend

After heading to Canada to play 2 shows in 4 days I happened to somehow end up playing 6. It was an absolute whirlwind, it was hectic, it was non stop but it was an amazing experience. It was now time to book in my first ever Australia headline tour. Thanks to the support of so many for making it possible to get over there and share my music with another part of the world. I was now heading home with a top notch North American booking agent, bunch of new friends and a pair of sunglasses that probably fit much better on John Lennon’s head than mind. And I couldn’t be happier.

Be sure to follow HOWQUA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/howquamusic