Placeholders jam their way to the top of the Kingston music scene

Local band makes their mark on funk

Placeholders played at the Alibi on Feb. 27.
From Placeholders' Facebook.

Local funk band Placeholders hopes to bring light to new artists and have an impact on Kingston’s soul and funk scenes.

The band has two local shows coming up: the Rockters Without Borders 24-Hour Charity
Concert at the Alibi on Feb. 27 and 28, and another at BLUMartini on March 7, which will feature Queen’s band MINT.

Playing a mix of funk, neo-soul, and jazz music, Placeholders’ members don’t allow themselves to be defined by any one genre. Instead, they prefer to switch up their music to keep things exciting for both the audience and themselves. Their sets include adapting covers of other artists’ work to the band’s unique sound.

“We like to play songs that are kind of popular—we put a bit of a spin on some songs. We really like to open things up and jam,” bassist Greg Ivens said.

Placeholders is made up of eight local Kingston artists: Reid Cunningham on lead vocals, Nicholas Lennox on saxophone, Mike McKitrick on keys, Dylan Lodge on guitar, Nicolas Pacheco on trombone, Ryan Stilwell on drums, Brittany Smith on vocals, and Ivens on bass.

Many of the members studied music at Queen’s. Ivens graduated with a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education in 2018, Pacheco earned a master’s degree in Arts Leadership in 2019, and Lennox just finished his Bachelor of Music and is currently earning a Bachelor of Education.

“That’s how a lot of us got to meet each other. I was able to find the guys that I really loved playing music with and build a group around that,” Ivens said.

The band has been growing steadily since their start in September 2019. They recently recorded two singles that will be released in the near future.

The band’s name came about by accident. When opening for a Toronto band early in their career, the group didn’t have a name to give promoters.

Panicked, they chose to submit ‘Placeholders’ while trying to figure out what name they’d choose permanently. Ultimately, Placeholders stuck as their name.

When asked what he enjoys most about performing with Placeholders, Ivens discussed the bond he has with
his bandmates.

“My biggest philosophy in playing music is that you need to be able to hang out and chill with the people that you’re playing with outside of the context of music, so that when you’re playing music in a live setting, you can read each other,” Ivens said.

“We have so much fun opening up and jamming on stage. We’re able to just get funny, go on stage, get weird, and play some music.”

Ivens also noted the gap in Kingston’s funk music scene that the band hopes to fill.

“Kingston doesn’t necessarily have a large pocket of musicians that are playing funk music with a horn section.”

“We were fortunate enough to be like-minded individuals who were interested in that type of music but also had the skill sets to back up their playing [...] We want to directly try and make an impact on the soul and funk scene in Kingston.”

In the future, Placeholders aims to begin playing summer festivals. Ivens hopes that this exposure and experience will help the band build their performance as a whole.

Queen’s students may also be seeing a lot more of Placeholders soon.

“We always have a lot of fun playing events at Queen’s and we’re really going to try to start playing more in the Queen’s circuit,” Ivens said.

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