St. Catharines is acclaimed as being the hub for the Niagara Region artistic scene given the number of individuals and organizations that contribute to saturating the city’s culture. Whether it’s a large-scale event such as the STRUTT Wearable art show taking place in late November, or smaller, more intimate affairs including the countless art -based events that take place in downtown cafes, St. Catharines provides an overwhelming amount of opportunities for local artists to showcase their talents. Music production company and record label IndoorShoes happens to be a piece of this diverse and extensive puzzle.
Timur Inceoglu, founder of IndoorShoes, never had intentions of starting his own label but rather moved to St. Catharines with plans to eventually work for the renowned label, Dine Alone Records. However, given the rapid success that Dine Alone was seeing at the time, they relocated to Toronto all within Inceoglu’s first month of moving to St. Catharines. Though Inceoglu didn’t involve himself right away in working with Niagara’s music scene following Dine Alone Records’ transition, he was openly critical of the way local talent was being represented. It was in his second year at Brock University when a peer essentially told him to “put your money where your mouth is, and do it better.” It was this idea and desire to showcase local talent effectively and fairly that resulted in the conception of IndoorShoes.
Inceoglu was joined by Erik Dickson in 2011, another St. Catharines man with the same drive and vision to emphasize and spotlight the musical talent that Niagara had to offer. Their primary goal is to create a network that provides accessible shows to the community at large and to support the talent of local artists. The financial standing of the company is not the primary concern of IndoorShoes, which is what separates them from the approach taken by more profit-driven companies. “After the money is given to the artists, we put most of our profit back into the company to keep the quality of our shows up,” said Dickson. “We make sure our bills are paid and if we happen to make some money for ourselves in the process, then great.”
Neither Inceoglu or Dickson have ever been in the business for the money. They both have separate full-time jobs to meet their own financial needs, while simultaneously spending five to six hours a day working on the company’s upcoming shows and projects.
“There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t thought about this company,” said Inceoglu.
IndoorShoes has seen themselves in a number of different venues over the years and through a lengthy process of trial and error, have finally found one that meets the goals of the company. At one point their shows were being held primarily at Mansion House but more recently, the majority of their events take place at Detour Music Hall. Located at 88 St. Paul Street, Detour provides a space that’s accessible and inclusive to anyone who wishes to attend. They are still fully-licensed while still catering to all ages.
“That’s the reality of our company,” said Inceoglu, “If people want to experience the arts that we are presenting, we don’t believe that age should be a determining factor of them being able to attend. You won’t find us doing too many 19 plus events.” With shows happening anywhere from three to four nights a week, IndoorShoes provides musical entertainment featuring an array of genres that cater to a wide range of music lovers. From metal to folk, they showcase many local artists deserving of the recognition they’ve worked diligently for in their music. The challenge is getting an audience on board. It often seems that people are only interested in something if everyone else has heard about it, but this type of thinking is detrimental to the success and sustainment of local companies and organizations. This includes the ability for a local music scene to thrive.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see really famous, popular bands,” said Dickson, “but it’s equally important to sort of expand your horizons and see what else there is and realize you might actually like it. Just because you’ve never heard of something, does that mean it’s not as good or worth going to? How do you think every other band started out?” With the media and community focused more recently on city-funded facilities such as the Meridian Center and the soon to-be-open Performing Arts Centre, the spotlight has never been bigger on the downtown core.
“Both of these facilities legitimize our efforts in the downtown core,” said Dickson. “Corporate and municipal investments of this magnitude help strengthen the efforts of all artbased organizations here in Niagara.”
Both Inceoglu and Dickson enjoy seeing more people choosing to see local artists at the shows they put on, but they also involve themselves with other organizations within the artistic sphere of Niagara. They will continue to collaborate with St. Catharines theatre company Suitcase in Point and the In the Soil Festival, a festival of culture and creativity which takes place every April. They also work extensively to help with SCENE Music Festival each summer. IndoorShoes places importance not only on their own company goals, but the goals of the overall artistic community in St. Catharines and Niagara. “We have been very fortunate to work with companies such as Brock Centre for the Arts, Carousel Players, Suitcase in Point, SCENE Music Festival and many others,” said Inceoglu. “Any time we’re able to work with more established arts groups in Niagara we see it in a positive light. These groups sometimes remind us that we have a long way to go in terms of having a lasting impact here in Niagara.”
IndoorShoes is a prime example of a company that is involved in their surroundings and immersing itself into the rest of what their culture is offering. Having worked with artists such as USS, Hollerado, Gob, Sun Kil Moon, La Dispute, Kurt Vile, Born Ruffians and The Sheepdogs, to name a few, the primary focus has never shifted from ensuring a local presence at these events.
“We just want to bring quality programming to St. Catharines without losing focus on what has made us successful up until this point,” said Dickson. “Upcoming events such as Tokyo Police Club, Silverstein, and Balance and Composure are all a reflection of the strong independent music scene here in Niagara. Having said that, at the end of the day, we are just a small piece of this puzzle, we are mostly just curating events, anybody could do our job.”
“As excited as we are about our own events, events such as STRUTT and Bahamas at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre are events I’m equally as stoked about,” said Inceoglu. “There really isn’t a night in Niagara where there isn’t something cool going on, I speak for both of us when I say I’m excited to see where Niagara’s going to be in the next year.”
For more about IndoorShoes or if you’re interested in volunteering, visit them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @indoorshoesca