How a white dude’s music ended up on American indigenous radio

I’ve thought very carefully on how to approach this issue, but I realized I had to say something sooner than later.

Long story short, I’m not indigenous. Why does that matter? Read on.

It started on SoundCloud. After not checking my page for a long time (I don’t use it that often), I noticed my track “Sail” was getting a lot of play, considering I never really shared it anywhere.

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Maybe people thought it was that Styx song?

Then, I noticed that it had been reposted (the SoundCloud equivalent of retweeting) by Revolutions Per Minute, a “global new music platform for Indigenous music from across Turtle Island and around the world,” according to the description.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.26.24 PM.pngI didn’t think much of it. I figured that it was either a mistake, or they didn’t exclusively focus on indigenous music. I decided to sit on it and maybe talk to them later on.

I went back to not checking SoundCloud, as is my usual behaviour. Flash forward a couple weeks, and I check my notifications to see Dustin Riel McGladrey has reposted “Sail.” I go to the profile to see who it is, and I realize I should have said something to RPM earlier.

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Not anymore!

I realize I need to say something. I message both Dustin and Revolutions Per Minute on SoundCloud.

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Man, I seem a lot less polite in that second message.

There we go! It was done. I sat back, hopeful that they’d see the messages and we’d go from there.

But I checked a few days later, and the reposts were still there. They’re still there as I write this.

That takes us to this past Friday, when I got an email from someone living in Oregon. They had heard “Sail” on KBOO the night before, and they emailed the station to see who it was. I was flattered that they went to those lengths, and I was touched by their message.

But after checking the show schedule, I realized that “Sail” was played on Rose City Native Radio. I’m assuming the DJ checks SoundCloud to get song ideas, and they must’ve stumbled upon RPM’s repost.

Now, some might question why I’m making a big deal about this, but I can’t sit here and take up airtime meant for indigenous artists. I want the opportunity to spread my music as far as possible, but not by taking that opportunity from someone else.

I hope I’ve handled this properly. I’m always looking for feedback. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Thanks,

-Trent

The Last Month or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and then Forgot My Lesson Overnight and Kept Worrying Anyways

Trenton Burton playing guitar and singing on stage at The Handsome Daughter on February 1, 2017
Performing at The Handsome Daughter, February 1, 2017. On a side note, I recently bought that cord that’s coming out of the Korg on the left, and I think it looks like a snake. Yeah? No?

After days of panic, weeks of practice, and months of stress, I officially unveiled Six to Twenty-One at The Handsome Daughter on February 1.

As you can guess, I slept late the next day.

The last month was insane. The first few weeks of January were spent coordinating with journalists. I performed on CTV Morning Live and Shaw TV, spoke to the Winnipeg Free Pressand detailed the album in more depth on River City 360. I got called a singer/songwriter a lot. It was weird.

Trenton Burton on CTV Morning Live, with the title card reading
See? I wasn’t lying.

After the interview, River City 360’s Nolan Bicknell and I had a long conversation about this new label. “Crazy, isn’t it?” Nolan said.

For the longest time, I’ve been on the look for interviews with my favourite musicians. I’ve watched them answer questions they’re all probably sick of, like, “What’s your writing process?” or “Where are you going from here?” or “Kanye, why are your shoes always sold out?” They might not like it, but I had always wanted someone to ask me those. Especially that last one.

And there I was, answering questions as if I was a legit musician. And when I expressed that thought, Nolan said, “You are!” It was surreal.

The following week, I finally launched the album. As we set up in The Handsome Daughter, bitter cold coming in from the back door, I had an awful feeling. Something was going to go wrong.

  • Would it be the electronics? We prepared the songs with as little technology as possible to avoid trouble, but we still relied on it.
  • Would we be able to hear everything? We had a weird mix of instruments, and it was difficult to get them all sounding balanced.
  • Would I contract laryngitis, carpal tunnel, and severe tinnitus five minutes before the show?

Of course, we didn’t have any problems. Once I played the opening chords to “Six,” every worry wore away, and all that was left was to enjoy the show.

When we started, I remembered that I hadn’t planned anything, speaking-wise. Thankfully, no one seemed to mind my inane rambling between songs. Some laughed. Some yelled. One broke a bottle. Whether that was positive or negative, we’ll never know.

Thanks to everyone that came to the show, and also to those who bought the album! You can still pick it up on Bandcamp. It’s also on iTunes and the streaming services. Again, all net proceeds are being donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba & Winnipeg Region.

Until next time,

Trent

Crumpled

This summer, I worked a full-time job and spent every night working on this album, which is the story of my life with mental illness from age six to now. I’m very proud of how much I accomplished. But my biggest achievement of the summer, and of the last few years, was something that may seem like nothing to most people.

My biggest achievement was getting rid of the towel in my room.

Sounds silly, right?

Yet it was something that I struggled with for almost ten years.

In “Crumpled,” I focused on a story from my elementary school days. I had been getting ready to walk to school, and I was drying my hands in the bathroom.

I dried them and left the room, but I quickly doubled back. Something felt wrong. It’s hard to put into words, but my hands felt contaminated. Imagine sneezing into yours, shaking hands with the least sanitary person you know, and then milking a goat covered in manure.

It felt like that.

Of course, I thought. We just need a new towel in here. I went to the closet, grabbed a fresh one, and threw the dirty one into a bucket in the corner of the room. I washed them again, drying them on the obviously spotless towel.

But it didn’t feel spotless.

In fact, it felt exactly the same as before. Rationally, I knew that it was impossible for this towel to be dirty. Yet I still felt like it was. I repeated the process.

And then repeated it.

And then repeated it.

And then repeated it.

I don’t remember how many I got up to, but it was almost ten. At the end of it, my hands were a roadmap of blood. And not a great roadmap, either. It was like Apple maps on launch day.

To avoid another incident, I eventually started keeping a towel in my room. I’d wash my hands in the bathroom, carefully open the door without putting my hands on it, then run straight to my towel.

I had a few rules for that towel, which I hung on a rack. If it fell off, it was dirty. If it touched the bath towel next to it, it was dirty. If anyone else touched it, it was dirty. If it got soaked in mud and then got splattered with spaghetti sauce, you guessed it. Dirty.

It remained like that until August, when I decided I’d finally try to ditch the system. Things had gotten a lot better since I was younger, and I thought it could be possible. Reluctantly, I washed my hands and reached for the towel hanging in the bathroom.

It still felt gross to touch, but I somehow refused the urge to wash my hands again. I left the room, trying to push the urge out of my head. After a few minutes went by, I noticed that it had somewhat passed. I knew that if I could last five minutes, I would be fine.

At the earliest opportunity, I took the towel out of my room.

I haven’t looked back since.

 

 

Too Much

Well, I did it!

It’s been a few weeks now since I released “Six,” the first single on my upcoming album.

It feels pretty weird typing that. I started working on the song in January, even before I fleshed out the album’s concept. I’ve probably heard it several hundred times over the past few months. But I still haven’t gotten sick of it, so that’s a good sign.

As I sat in my room late that Wednesday night, my cursor hovered over the “Publish” button, I had no idea what to expect. Would people like it? Would I get any negative comments? Would anyone even listen to it?

As you can predict from my Facebook stats, I was blown away. Notifications piled up for days. Several people messaged me telling me how much they loved it, and a couple people I know who’ve dealt with mental illness reached out as well. People I’ve barely spoken to have talked to me about it. It also surprised some family members, incidentally. Whoops.

It’s been crazy (pun not intended). I’m so happy to share something I’m so passionate about, and to get a lot of attention with it.

But to be honest, it was pretty difficult to adapt to that much attention.

I’ve always felt awkward receiving compliments on my music. For example, when I auditioned with a friend for a high school talent show, it was the first time I sung in public, and it went really well.

But I was nervous for the rest of the day, cringing every time someone brought up my performance. I didn’t want people to acknowledge that I even did anything. I wanted to get off the stage and blend in with everyone, to pretend that I was an audience member and not a performer. After the eventual talent show, I actually interrupted someone who was complimenting me afterward and changed the subject.

Yeah. Really.

I’m not sure why I’ve had trouble with compliments, but it might be because I have trouble being the centre of attention. When you feel like you’re being watched all the time, realizing that people are actually looking at you can be unpleasant.

Taking a line from the Sufjan Stevens song I posted at the top, there was almost “Too much, too much, too much love.” But at the same time, putting myself out there can be a really rewarding experience, so I’m trying to get better with it.

Did I just quote that so I had an excuse to share the song? Yeah, maybe. Sue me. But it’s relevant. Age of Adz, the album that track’s from, is one of my all-time favourites. It’s also the most anxious album I’ve ever heard, featuring such lines as, “Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn/Illness is watching, waiting its turn.” I highly suggest you give it a listen.

I’m pretty anxious (hah) about how this project will progress, but I’m just as excited. Expect more from me soon.