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Orillia native's Nomadic Family label finds jazzy home in Toronto

Cole Mendez's record label fuses genres; compilation album dropping Friday will feature talents of three Orillia musicians

A local musician is making waves with a unique fusion of musical genres in Toronto.

Cole Mendez moved from the Sunshine City to the Six a few years ago and has been busy with his Nomadic Family label.

A trained jazz pianist, Mendez has found other styles that seem to mesh with the jazz genre. Listeners can hear it for themselves on Nomadic Family’s Wavetapes Vol. II, a compilation album that will be released Friday. Various artists contributed to the instrumental “beat” album, which includes sounds of jazz, hip-hop, R&B and more.

Wavetapes exists for the same reasons Nomadic Family exists. ‘NoFam’ is committed to bringing together these fascinating artists not just for art’s sake, but also to showcase these essential community members to a broader public,” Mendez said.

Mendez isn’t the only Orillia talent to contribute to Wavetapes Vol. II. It also features Orillia natives Jack Finlayson, Taylor Geisel and Jacob Thompson.

Mendez’s experience in Orillia has played a major role in his musical endeavours. Well-known local musician Lance Anderson and Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School music teacher James Hilts were instrumental to his success.

“They were the first guys who taught me anything about jazz,” he said, also giving a shout-out to Blair Bailey and Mayumi Kumagai, both of whom were involved with the Kiwanis Music Festival, in which Mendez performed.

Jazz is often seen as a genre that attracts an older generation. At 22 years old, Mendez is bucking the trend.

“It’s a pretty normal thing for me because I’ve surrounded myself with people who are jazz trained but use that to make music that really speaks to a younger generation and the current movement,” he said.

It isn’t always easy to find an audience for that mash-up of styles in smaller communities, and that’s why Mendez moved the label to the big city.

“When we all moved to Toronto to pursue music, because we didn’t grow up here, we didn’t fit into any scene,” he said.

That’s starting to change.

“The whole jazz/hip hop fusion thing is pretty big now,” he said, adding, with the new album, he hopes people “get a better idea of the sound that Nomadic and this scene have.”

The scene doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and neither is Nomadic Family.

Mendez refers to Wavetapes Vol. II as the “first episode of Nomadic Family Season 1.” The label will release albums by its artists every two weeks. On Nov. 15, Naturally Corrupted Data, by bjorn.mp3 — an artist featured on Wavetapes Vol. II — will be released.

“This release concept mixes occasional surprise drops with a bedrock structure of bi-monthly album releases, coupled with intimate listening parties and live sets at communal living/studio space First Humewood,” Mendez said.

To keep up with Nomadic Family’s latest and to hear some music, check out

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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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