Joni Sadler: Drummer. Independent advocate. Postcard sender. Friend. Born January 22, 1986 in Victoria; died on May 30, 2021, in Montreal, of a cerebral aneurysm; 35 years old.
Meeting Joni Sadler was an unforgettable experience. his welcoming smile never seemed to be that of a stranger. Joni seemed to be lifelong friends with everyone, or anyone, anywhere. When her parents took her on a trip to Tijuana, Joni immediately made friends with street girls without knowing a word of Spanish. She was three years old at the time.
After many more road trips and competitions across Canada as a high school figure skater, Joni traveled east to Carleton University in Ottawa. Her passion for indie music made her quickly known to everyone on the scene, working in the local record store and as the energetic English Music Director of University of Ottawa’s CHUO radio. . She was proud to have been voted Best Taste in Music at the College Music Journal rally in New York at the age of 23.
If you were his roommate, the morning hum of his coffee grinder was as reliable and annoying as any rooster. Reports from some colleagues, that she was shaking so badly from all that coffee that it looked like there were two of her, were unfounded but widely believed. When she started playing the drums around the age of 25, her energy only increased.
During the jam, his freestyle drumming embraced Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground and Japanese rock band Les Rallizes Dénudés; when she accompanies songs, her intuition and consistency go beyond them. Joni often led the songwriting process. Self-taught on the instrument, his specialty was a raspy, certified organic style; not pretty, but very nutritious. She combined a sound of pots and pans falling down the stairs with a solid, late beat. Never has anyone his size beat those drums louder.
Joni’s master’s thesis, on how to better support independent musicians and their creative environment, “brought attention to a scene that still receives too little in Canada. He innovated … and led with his heart, ”said his adviser Sheryl Hamilton.
Soon, Joni was co-managing McGill University’s CKUT radio and supporting many up-and-coming Montreal musicians, either on drums or as the organizer of memorable independent concerts that welcomed everyone. When Montreal’s Constellation record label offered her the dream job of director of communications, she surprised them by refusing because she wanted to complete her personal five-year radio project plan.
She did, then joined the label, and in between, she was director of the POP Montreal symposium; started sailing and running long distances; learned to code; learned to weld. His friends could be forgiven for seeing double; Joni was everywhere. In so many bands on top of that, she basically had six jobs. His musical career coalesced into his inimitable no-wave band Lungbutter, who were planning an international tour in support of their debut LP.
Something fueled this new phase, something more than coffee. Her friends were shocked when Joni did something no one expected her to do: take a vacation. Judging by her smiling face as she held a smiling man in photos taken in the tropics or at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, California, it was clear that love had prompted her to do so; she had time for that too.
Everything seemed to fall into place over the last few years with Richard, we no longer saw double – the many Jonis became the only Joni. We can only imagine what she would do now.
A a memorial scholarship has been established on behalf of Joni in Carleton.
Blake Hargreaves is Joni’s teammate and friend.
To submit a Lived Life: [email protected]
Lives Lived celebrates the everyday, extraordinary and little-known lives of recently deceased Canadians. To find out how to share the story of a family member or friend, go online to tgam.ca/livesguide