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Fresh Tracks: Droryboy goes from the streets to recording

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Chances are you’ve seen Ethan Drory before. He’s been walking Whyte Avenue since last October, a decision he made to stretch beyond his usual schedule of recording music in his home studio and releasing it on YouTube. His smiling presence and acoustic guitar can also be seen during a weekly residency at Block 1912.

Drory, who stars as Droryboy, moved from Winnipeg to Edmonton five years ago and maintains an online presence that’s a firehose of music. In 2020, he took part in a “song-a-day challenge” which saw him create daily tunes, of varying quality, for 365 days. Now he’s whittled it down to a five-song EP, idc plus, that’s my art.

If you haven’t figured out the title yet, Drory explains that the impetus for recording the EP came from a desire to break free from the fear that held him back.

“I had to destroy the preconceptions people had of me to free me to be the artist I was meant to be,” Drory said. “I had to get to a place where I had to stop caring what people thought and just dive deep and fall in love with the creative process.”

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Drory clearly no longer cares about listener expectations on idc, that’s my art. The EP lacks a unifying sound, moving from electro-freak genres to heartfelt acoustic folk songs. A track like Barracuda Fisherman, backed by a numbers rock soundtrack, is paralyzed by its lyrics: “Barracuda fisherman/what a man to be/his name was Tony/and arms were boney”. A wacky, ironic satirical tune or just a stupid pun, it’s up to the listener to decide.

Drory finds some success on Kick My Heart, a light-hearted ditty about suffering from a case of grief so agonizing it lands the narrator in the emergency room. It’s the kind of fantasy you might expect to become a meme on TikTok.

What this version doesn’t capture is Drory’s aw-shucks optimism that he showcases in his many social media videos. Watching his video diary entries detailing his street adventures is oddly gripping and might make you think twice about avoiding eye contact with a street performer.

Catch Droryboy’s EP release concert at The Aviary on Saturday. Salty Auntie and Brooklyn Blue will also perform at the show.