YEDaily: The BassBus Boys

Gareth Rider (24), Joel Ferguson (24), and Baran Faber (26) are the gents behind BassBus, an innovative and phenomenal concept that helps gives the arts and emerging artists a voice. Find out what BassBus is and why they developed this unique concept in today’s YEDaily feature.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Our business is centred around the operations of a renovated and redesigned 72-passenger school bus. We have converted the bus into a luxury transportation solution that we operate in support of arts events happening in Calgary. In addition to transportation, the bus is a mobile platform for the promotion of all art regardless of the medium. The idea was to develop a platform where all art could be promoted using various features and functions we built into the bus.

We promote emerging artists regardless of the medium in which they produce art. The bus has a deployable stage for performance art, including theatre, live music, and poetry. We can set up the stage as a catwalk to feature emerging clothing designers in a fashion show setting, and regardless of the event BassBus has organized, there is always space reserved for artists and artisans to set up tables to give them an opportunity to sell their works; similar to a mobile market in support of designers and artisans.

Cross promotion is a major strategy for BassBus. Imagine if you are a dancer, and that person over there is a painter, and she is a DJ, and he is jewellery maker; BassBus provides an opportunity for each person to present their work in the same setting at the same time. If everyone invites friends and supporters, each artist is exposed to each of the other artists’ supporters. Hopefully, everyone gains exposure and in turn growth occurs.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
We all have a passion for the arts, yet none of us are all that talented in a specific artistic medium. We all have strengths, but nothing amazing enough to run with, so we decided we would do something that will help emerging artists get their work out there. We firmly believe that all art should have a voice; it’s kind of the symbolism surrounding the speakers in the BassBus logo, giving art a voice where it may not always get it. We think it’s important to support artists who are working hard at their craft, yet may not be in a position where they can do what is necessary to bring their art to the public.

Everyone knows someone who is excellent at doing their thing. Unfortunately, not everyone excels at performing, showing, or selling their work to the public because they may not have the necessary self-promotion skills, or may not be able to fill a room at a club, or may not know the people at the galleries or whatever. BassBus is a mobile platform to give these people a chance to do what they do in front of people. BassBus is not interested in hiring bands to throw parties, BassBus is interested in going out, finding the unknown bands who are wicked good, and giving them an opportunity to play live (for example). In doing so, we hope to inspire emerging artists to continue to develop their skills.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
The best thing about working and building our business is seeing talented individuals get the opportunity to do what they do in front of people. We believe that confidence and inspiration grows from being able to perform on stage, hang a piece of art, or sell some clothing. Weekly, we confirm this by allowing young talent the opportunity to use BassBus as a vessel for their artistic expression.

The most challenging part?
Balancing our idealism with the fact that we need to survive as a business. If we could throw all day parties, and have performers from all over Alberta playing music, and have a market area set up where any artisan could set up a table at no costs, and have a culinary area where anyone could showcase their best cuisine we would be ecstatic; that would be a dream. Obviously it costs money to do events like the one described. We hope to position ourselves for private bookings, and target clients who can use BassBus as an artistic platform as opposed to a luxury transportation service.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
We are working to develop the reputation of BassBus into a respectable performance platform with the intention of getting involved in the art and music festivals circuit. Part of our business plan is to develop the familiarity of the performance platform in new and changing environments; being involved in art and music festivals around Western Canada is the perfect way for BassBus to accomplish this.

What does success look like to you?
A sustainable business where private bookings support BassBus’ bi-weekly open-mic-style events; a free artistic show-and-tell open to anyone who possesses talent. BassBus will use these nights to find performers for use in the festival setting. BassBus’ free events are supported by a festival season where we’re booked at arts and culture events as a platform for the local talent. Showcasing the talents of the local community supporting the festival is where we see opportunity.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The idea was spawned eight months ago, and on July 2nd, 2011 we released our bus and it felt amazing; three friends who had known each other for years finally completing their bus. The sense of accomplishment was huge. However, two weeks later we were booked to do Motion Notion Music Festival just outside of Drayton Valley, AB. We were hired to provide a full stage, and keep it operational for four days, 24-hours-a-day. That weekend is a milestone we will never forget; we achieved our goal of being a stage at a festival.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t say “if,” say “when.”

So far for us, it has been all hurdles and more hurdles; if you can relate, take pleasure in overcoming them, it makes it easier.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Right now we are working with and supporting the Art Gallery of Calgary. We are the entertainment sponsor for an event they have coming up in September which is in celebration of their new exhibit called Calgary Collects. We are providing a full lighting and stage production which will include many local artists, DJs, fire performers, and more. We are exited to work with the AGC as they have a strong passion to work with, educate, and help develop new and emerging artists within the city. This falls right in line with our passion and intention, so the partnership between BassBus and the AGC was an instant connection.