Jeff Plewman, otherwise known as Nash The Slash, was a Canadian multi-instrumentalist who formed the progressive rock band FM with Cameron Hawkins in 1976. Just before FM’s first album Black Noise was released in 1977, Nash left to pursue his own vision. Technically fluent, he used counterintuitive instruments such as the electric violin and the electric mandolin in a guitar-laden world of hard rock. He created sonic soundscapes that mixed his influences and ignored convention. He was a pioneer of electronic music who had a well known love affair with the drum machine, proclaiming that he was the first Canadian to use one on an album.
The anonymity of his persona - a featureless face covered in bandages - freed him to become a canvas that was as theatrical as it was paradoxical. Through collaborations with other like- minded artists, his stage performances reflected a trip so psychedelic that he crossed both space and time. Nash was gay. It wasn’t until 1998 when he publicly declared his orientation at a Toronto Pride performance. His sexuality was not known by all that worked with him.
Nash died in 2014. His legacy left behind four decades of wild stories, strange releases, smoke stained master tapes and dusty vinyl recordings that are still managed by his estate.
Toronto-and Ottawa-based filmmaking and production studio Side Three Media today launches a crowdfunding campaign in support of the 2019 release of And You Thought You Were Normal: A Documentary Film About Nash The Slash.
Through extensive interviews, archival footage and exclusive, rare imagery, audiences journey through Nash’s inimitable contribution to Canadian culture, including how and why this outsider artist commanded such strong international appeal, and why his work remains relevant to today’s new generation of music lovers.
The feature-length documentary tells “the universal story of an artistic struggle,” says Side Three Media of the mysterious musician who shared the stage with the likes of Iggy Pop, The Tubes, and Gary Numan; the doc features interviews with Numan, as well as Cameron Hawkins, Toronto’s Mike’s Music store owner and musician Michael Waite, Martin “Youth” Glover from UK band Killing Joke, and performance artist Danielle Dax. It “illustrates an artist who pursued his vision without compromise through his unwavering dedication to his gothic obsessions, punk aesthetic, and musical eccentricities.”
And You Thought You Were Normal comes to the screen with a handful of the country’s top storytelling and documentary talent. Co-directors Kevan Byrne and Tim Kowalski champion the film’s vision; Byrne is an indie arts scene veteran, having toured the world with his band King Cobb Steelie, and added to his extensive TV and film credits by editing the film. Kowalski, for his part, is a triple-threat in the same scene; a musician (Toronto’s The Mean), cinematographer, and director, he also produced the doc. Additional producer credits are extended to revered visual artist, rock star whisperer and producer Leanne Davies for her experience with all things “weird, outrageous, and bizarre” on the project, and to Kevin McGowan for his dazzling storytelling forte, thanks to his creations in unique audio series’ for The Ottawa Citizen, Training magazine, Rabble.ca, and CBC.
The project’s crowdfunding campaign is live October 25th at https://igg.me/at/youwerenormal
And You Thought You Were Normal: A Documentary Film About Nash The Slash is set for release in 2019.
ABOUT NASH THE SLASH
ABOUT SIDE THREE MEDIA
Side Three Media is a Canadian film production company based out of Toronto and Ottawa. The team’s current release, started in 2016 and slated for release in 2019, is a feature documentary about the life of music iconoclast Nash The Slash.
Kevan Byrne is a recording and performing musician as well as a film, animation and television editor and a documentary filmmaker. From the early 1990s he has recorded and toured with the Toronto based music collective King Cobb Steelie. Collaborations with notable producers include Steve Albini (The Pixies, Nirvana), Bill Laswell (Herbie Hancock, PIL) and Guy Fixsen (My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab). The emphasis of these recordings and performances is on creative sonic explorations and improvisation versus narrative songwriting.
As an editor and filmmaker, Byrne has worked in broadcast television, 2D and stop motion animation as well documentary film. Most recently he helped cut the film I Dream Of Wires, a history of modular synthesizers and is co-directing the story of the life and music of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Nash The Slash. These documentary features profile artists who pushed the boundaries of composition and sound which mirror his own interests in the possibilities of music.
Kevin McGowan is a producer and podcaster based in Ottawa, Canada. A lifelong music fan and record collector, he has always sought out new and unusual artists to write about. He claims that Nash the Slash (subject of the team's documentary film) was his "gateway artist" after discovering a Nash LP as a teenager. From then on, he has dug through countless vinyl stacks looking for the next beautifully weird album for his collection. As the executive producer of the film, Kevin assembled the production team and assists with story development, interviewing, research, and legal issues. Like everyone on the team, he wears many hats.
Tim Kowalski is a cinematographer, director, producer and musician from Toronto, Canada. Kowalski got his start performing in clubs before he could legally drink. He has performed as the energetic low-end of many bands including Toronto’s Deep End, Squirrel, Helens, electro duo ProCon, and most currently The Mean. Over Tim’s musical career, he shared the stage with the likes of SNFU, 7 Seconds, ALL, the Flaming Lips, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Peaches. His early obsession of photography paid off and he began to adapt his knowledge of light, composition and mastery of zig vs zag to moving pictures--starting with music videos for his own bands. Always a fan of the obscure and strange, Tim was inspired by Nash the Slash at an early age. As a witness to Nash’s various exploits on local TV, a seed was planted. Shortly after Nash’s death, Tim rediscovered his music and dug deep, and as it turned out, Nash’s life story was as fascinating as his music and the inspiration for a full-length documentary had begun.
In 2016 Davies painted the Toronto outsider musician Nash The Slash, which led to a telephone conversation with one of the team members working on the feature-length documentary And You Thought You Were Normal. After being interviewed as a fan of Nash, she painted him again on a larger scale. A year later, and unable to shake Nash as a muse, she was brought on board as a producer.
You can see more of Leanne’s
work at: www.leannedavies.com
"He had a cult-like following and a sound like none other. Now, legendary Canadian “anti-star” Nash The Slash also has a documentary about him."
Leanne Davies is a pop-surreal painter and producer from Toronto, Ontario. Dialed in to all things weird, outrageous, and bizarre, Davies paints portraits of people who often possess some kind of eccentric characteristic or style, or who just stand out to her as being able to express themselves freely. Davies paints in acrylic on both panel and velvet. Her velvet paintings earned her the monicker “The Velvet Queen of Canada” by the Velveteria Museum’s co-founder Carl Baldwin in 2017.
Born in Victoria, B.C. on the west coast of Canada, she moved to Toronto in 1993 to pursue a visual arts degree at York University (BFA 96). In addition to her artwork she has performed as a drummer in Toronto’s indie rock music scene for 20+ years. In 2009-2010 she lived and worked in Paris, sharing a workspace at the legendary Les Frigos, a former railway hangar converted to artist studios.
Photo by Paul Till
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