It’s no surprise that music brings people together. Interestingly, during this pandemic, it helped two Guelphites create art without ever meeting.
Elena Stocco, an administrative assistant at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and Damian Weston, a housing locator for the Welcome In Drop-in Centre, formed Season of the Senses, a band that shares their love of acoustic and electronic music, blends genres and delves into themes of light and darkness.
Weston, a professional musician who plays all the major music instruments, and Stocco, a singer with no professional training, met on a Facebook group this year and just clicked. Now, they’ve recorded a song called Young & Strange, created its music video and submitted it to CBC Music's Toyota Searchlight 2021 contest. And the two have no plans to stop.
“It was really weird actually because singing is just a hobby for me,” said Stocco adding that the only time she really sang was when she went out on Karaoke nights with friends.
“I had no sense of relief when COVID happened. I couldn’t do that anymore.”
Weston said he has been a one-person production band for a long time and was looking for a partner to work with.
“She had a voice that needed to be heard,” said Weston about Stocco. “I mean, what a shame if that’s a voice that people have not actually heard yet.”
Weston has been a professional musician for several years producing work for film and television, commercials and even playing in an industrial metal band.
“Recently I started getting the bug to do my own stuff again, not for someone else’s film, but just as an expression,” said Weston.
To find someone to work with, Weston shared a post on the Guelph Music group on Facebook that said he was looking for someone to collaborate with early this year. Although he had a number of replies, he found Stocco the most engaging.
“The reality is when I actually heard her sing, and how good she was. It blew my mind that she was not professionally trained, not professional singing in any way,” said Weston.
Stocco said she casually messaged Weston and didn’t think much would come out of it and was surprised that she’s in a band now making music.
“When I first started talking to him, I was kind of blown away by the songs he has in the works. He let me listen to some samples. He’s incredibly talented,” said Stocco, adding that creating songs has really helped the two parents get their mind off of the pandemic.
Weston helped her learn how to record professionally and the two had a good workflow going. Weston said he would send Stocco’s songs with instructions and she would practice her own way and his friend Darius Szczepaniak would mix it.
“There was something very authentic about her. She seemed very easy to work with,” said Weston.
She ended up getting a good microphone and Weston taught her how to record professionally. "She went from zero to 100 in terms of teaching herself how to record within a month,” said Weston.
Weston edited royalty-free short films to create a short music video to submit to the CBC Music's Toyota Searchlight 2021 contest. Voting for the contest begins on May 11. The winner receives a seat in Allan Slaight Master Class, a trip to the Junos 2022, a five-day residency at the National Music Centre in Calgary, studio time, music equipment and MPE distribution.
The two are now working together on their album continuing the partnership with Szezepaniak on the mixing desk while balancing Stocco’s work as an administrator and Weston’s work to help end homelessness in Guelph.
“Eventually, we want to work on music in the same place,” laughed Weston. “It would be a lot easier.”