“Guns or Butter” is an unreleased song by Michael C. Duguay, taken from his forthcoming video EP, Unprecedent. The song was written by Duguay in the spring of 2020, shortly after emergency relief benefits were announced by the federal government, as he and his peers pivoted their projects, trajectories, and resources. Named after a macroeconomic theory which describes how as a country invests more in its military (produces more guns), it must reduce household consumption (butter). The song is a celebration of peer support, social welfare, and the micro-economies that exist in artist circles.
This live-off-the-floor performance features Teilhard Frost (Sheesham & Lotus, Klave Y Kongo, Jenny Whiteley) on fiddle, Jason Mercer (Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Ani Difranco, Ron Sexmsith) on upright bass, and Liam Cole (Little Kid, Highs, Decoration Day) on percussion.
Unprecedent EP, a collection of live performances of unreleased songs filmed by filmmaker Josh Lyon, will be available on March 11 exclusively on YouTube.
Duguay’s frequent collaborator, Jamie Kronick, offers some words on the genesis of “Guns or Butter”:
“It was the spring of 2020, the early days of the pandemic. I was living in the West End of Toronto and would go on long walks to cling to a semblance of sanity or normalcy. Michael got in touch about collaborating on the album artwork for his new record. His voice accompanied me in my headphones on a few of these walks as we’d bat around concepts for the artwork. The CERB had just been created, and I remember this announcement creating a faint feeling of the shaky ground beneath my feet firming up ever so slightly. The uncertainty of finances after losing over six months of touring income in the forthcoming year gave way to a temporary calm of keeping the rent paid, albeit temporarily. We joked about how the government would keep our landlords’ pockets full, and whatever we had leftover after our monthly expenses would surely wind up being passed around to our fellow artists, keeping each other afloat with our various creative endeavours — just as Michael was doing by hiring me. Artists propping up each other. Passing the buck around as needed. True grassroots support.”
– Jamie Kronick (photographer, musician, friend)