Adam Saikaley
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Adam Saikaley

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band EDM New Age




"The new method (photo)"

Photo accompanying article in Ottawa Magazine's January 2011 issue about the PLACEmachine artist collective. (Adam Saikaley, far right). - Ottawa Magazine

"The new method (text)"

Please see link to read article about PLACEmachine collective featured in Ottawa Magazine's January 2011 issue. - Ottawa Magazine

"Adam Saikaley, Fire (2011) reviewed by Calum Marsh"

It’s not uncommon in Ottawa for a single musician to round out a half dozen bands at any given moment, but few manage to exercise as much discretion—or at least fall into as much luck—as Adam Saikaley, whose widely varying creative endeavors never fail to impress. If you’re even marginally interested in the local music scene here in the capital, you’ve most likely encountered Saikaley in one form or another before, whether on keys in former pseudo-prog outfit As the Poets Affirm, heading up vocals in the currently on-hiatus Videotape (whose excellent debut My Favorite Thing was celebrated by Conrad in these pages before), or while wielding complicated-looking computer equipment during one of his highly involved solo sets. Maybe you saw him DJ a party once. Or perhaps you’ve heard him on the radio, where he hosted CBC Radio One’s Bandwidth. I realize that to anyone outside of Ottawa (and, trust me, you are the 99%), none of this means much of anything. But try to understand that in a city without proper celebrities, local celebrities are sort of a big deal. This is the city that treats spotting Don McKellar at a Braids show like the second coming. Guys as talented as Adam mean a lot.

Because his bands have opened for bigger touring acts like Sunset Rubdown and Destroyer, I think Adam’s recognized around town as something of a quintessential indie rocker. But he’s also a classically trained musician who studied sound design in University, facts reflected more clearly in his solo compositions than in anything he’s done in a rock-oriented setting. On his own he’s opened for Pauline Oliveros, Trevor Dunn, and Growing, and I suspect those names are indicative of Adam’s personal influences and aesthetic predilections; they’re certainly appropriate reference points when it comes to describing the work he’s capable of producing alone.

Though he’s been known to delve into everything from deep house cuts to idiosyncratic glitch-pop, “Fire,” what you might consider his definitive composition, serves up the more straight-forward ambient-noise work Adam’s always done best. Originally released as a limited-run cassette (another gesture typical of Ottawa), “Fire” is finally being granted a more formal official release from Bird And Flag, a new local label run by one of Adam’s former bandmates. I suppose its life as a cassette made a certain aesthetic sense—“Fire” is rooted in the seductive nostalgia of analog equipment, after all—but there’s little, if anything, lost in the translation to digital; “Fire” still sounds as full-bodied and dynamic coming through earbuds as it ever did elsewhere, its texture still intact.

And its texture, in fact, is crucial: like Emeralds, with whom he shares a fondness for the sounds of technological obsolescence, Adam makes ambient music feel rich and full, a body with real momentum. It’s too easy for ambient music to lean on negative space, and when it does it sounds not so much “expansive” as empty. “Fire” does the opposite: as a soundscape it clearly stresses sound, and its depth gives it substance. It may be easy for ambient music to be superficially approximated with laptop loops and ready-made plugins, but you can’t fake something like “Fire”—the sounds speak for themselves.

I’ve seen Adam perform “Fire” live about six times across the last two or three years, and regardless of the venue—a Soviet-themed bar, a church, someone’s basement, wherever—it always commands the room. But then Adam’s always performing something somewhere in the city; a couple of weeks ago I saw him kill an hour-long set of improvised dance-rock with a new three-piece band called Silkken Laumann (at the opening of an art exhibit sponsored by the Mexican Embassy, natch), and they commanded the room then, too. The guy’s an indie rock Renaissance man, and “Fire” is just one facet of his talent. A compelling facet, of course, but it’s more impressive to consider it as one piece of a ridiculously impressive whole. I can’t wait for his hip-hop record. -

"Winner of the 1st Ottawa International Film Festival Music Video Challenge: Adam Saikaley's Bike"

Adam Saikaley - Bike WINNER of the 1st Ottawa International Film Festival Music Video Challenge. Directed by Luke Ciesielski, Matt Zhuk and Eric Leece. Cast: Lidija Rozitis, Anton Sharko. website: -

"Local composers give voice to Ottawa buildings"

Ottawa’s non-profit and artist-run centre Artengine hopes to unite sound and space in a festival that guides participants on a tour of local music and architecture.

The festival's called Electric Fields, which commissions artists to create projects with both sound and space in mind. It begins with Polytectures, a narrated walking experience that guides listeners through key pieces of architecture in downtown Ottawa.

Montreal artist Antoine Bédard, who has done a similar project in Montreal, produced the narrated soundwalk, choosing 10 local composers and musicians to translate 10 downtown buildings into new pieces of music.

You can download the audio guide from Electric Fields' website. All that’s left for you to do is plug in those headphones, follow the map given online, and let the soundwalk do the rest.

OpenFile spoke with some of the artists involved about the buildings that inspired their compositions. Listen to those interviews and that music by following the links below. All photos by Holly Gordon (with the exception of Confederation building, which was courtesy Vince Alongi via Flickr).

St. Andrew’s Church – Adam Saikaley
Government Conference Centre – Andrée Préfontaine
Confederation Building and Justice Building – Kingdom Shore
Supreme Court of Canada – My Dad vs. Yours
And here are the rest of the buildings and artists taking part in the festival.

National Arts Centre – Crush Buildings
Ottawa Convention Centre – Meat Parade
Parliament (west block) – A Tribe Called Red
Parliament (east block) – H. de Heutz
Bank of Canada – Math Rosen
C.D. Howe Building – PH


Adam Saikaley is a composer and musician based in Ottawa. His assignment for Electric Fields’ Polytectures was to compose a piece of music inspired by St. Andrew’s Church on Kent Street. - OpenFile

"Who’s Hot In Ottawa’s Music Scene 2012 – Hottest Male Musician"

Adam Saikaley voted hottest male musician in Ottawa on local music blog. - Ming Wu, Ottawa-based music blogger

"Adam Saikaley talks about Polytectures (St. Andrew's Church)"

(Radio interview) - CHUO, University of Ottawa campus-community radio


Light Limited/Tropigogic split tape with Ookpikk (PLACEmachine Records, 2011)

Fire (Bird and Flag, 2011)

Chemical Peel compilation (PLACEmachine Records, 2009)

Circles (Self-released, 2008)



Once upon a time, Adam Saikaley stared longingly out at Blackcomb Mountain from his small apartment at its base. After hearing Four Tet’s Rounds for the first time, he packed up his professional snowboarding dreams and flew back to Ottawa. Within a couple weeks, he had blown all his savings on gear and auditioned for a spot in the music department at Carleton University.

Today, Adam balances projects with as much grace and impetuousness as is evident in his compositions. Writing and performing music for no-input mixers, sound sculptures, cassettes and VCRs, he coaxes these machines with the irreverent playfulness of your best friend, gently tossing pebbles at your window at a quarter to midnight.

In February 2012, Adam's split tape release with fellow PLACEmachine Records artist Ookpikk hit #1 and #7 on electronic music charts at CJSW, Calgary and CJSR, Edmonton, respectively. That Alberta airplay propelled the tape to #5 on Earshot's national electronic music chart. Adam can't wait to show his appreciation in person at this year's Sled Island festival.