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Activism to anthems: How a young Victoria musician is breaking into the ‘Minor Leagues’

Honourary Citizen of Victoria Rupert Yakelashek releases new album Minor Leagues on June 21
Rupert Yakelashek is Teenage Art Scene. (Yakelashek)

A child environmental star turned rock musician is making his mark in a new musical way.

Rupert Yakelashek, 20 years old, was 10 years old when he made headlines via his volunteerism with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot movement. Lately, he’s busy putting out his new music album, Minor Leagues, which comes out on June 21.

Since starting Teenage Art Scene, a solo recording project, in 2019, Yakelashek has put out 22 releases on Bandcamp with all instrumentation done by him, including an electric 12-string. His catchy music ranges from hard-hitting rock to alternative with elements of 80s synth-pop, new wave, indie electronica, and punk – the music of political activism – with influences like Pixies, Guided by Voices and the Strokes.

Minor Leagues is his most narrative album, an anthology for a new life stage as he studies Anthropology and environmental issues at UVic, and breaks into the Victoria arts scene with live shows performed with a 4-piece band.

As a child, Yakelashek and his younger sister, Franny, were environmental crusaders, presenting in municipal chambers, schools, conferences and the legislature, in addition to rallying in front of it. Working with NDP’s Laurel Collins, Blue Dot and other organizations, they created an e-petition to the House of Commons urging the federal government to update the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to include amendments to recognize environmental rights in Canada.

In 2023, it paid off when Canada recognized the right to a healthy environment for the first time at the federal level.


READ MORE: Local 10-year-old declares the right to a healthy environment

“It’s been a journey,” he said. “It was a really amazing thing to see something we had been working on for 10 years had come to fruition.”

Yakelashek still considers himself an environmental activist, though it looks different these days.

While not all of his music is a form of advocacy, advocacy does play a role. For instance, his song Moving Backwards, released on Earth Day, 2021, is “a very fiery, punk-influenced track” that laments people in political positions pretending that climate change and environmental issues will go away on their own, and the slowness with which those in power enact change.

“I think that music takes up the same place in my being that activism did for a very long time where it’s sort of what got me going. It’s my means of expression,” he said. “Many people through making music gain sort of a platform that can really be used to inspire change.”

Trouble With the Art Scene, a recently released single from Minor Leagues, is the result of Yakelashek writing a “theme song” for his project, and plays with a phrase that he found evocative. Rather than being about what’s wrong with the art scene, the song plays with the idea of what an artist could do to get in trouble with the art scene – “which is known for being open-minded and accepting and very willing to explore new ideas.”

The released Trouble With the Art Scene music video depicts Yakelashek being chased down in a fun foray through downtown Victoria streets by beret-wearing artists. And his crime?

“I used Comic Sans in a painted mural.”



With Yakelashek’s music, he strives to push the edges and experiment – and that means exploring various genres, new ideas, and touching on both serious, advocacy-worthy topics and ones that are just fun.

“I never want to do something that is, for lack of a better word, boring. If I don’t have something that I feel is fresh or sort of unique to me to say, I just won’t say it, because there’s so many other people out there that are just probably saying it way better than me, so I try to do stuff that is in that vein.”

Yakelashek’s sister is also involved in his project. “She’s a huge part of the whole operation. She’s an extremely skilled artist and does all of the art, all the album covers, posters, merchandise, designs.”

There will be plenty of chances to catch Teenage Art Scene live in the next year, including a 6:30 p.m., June 9 show at Oaklands Community Centre.

Teenage Art Scene’s new album will be released on June 21 on Bandcamp.

As a young musician emerging into the “Minor Leagues” of the arts scene, Yakelashek has steadfastly established his talents and proven that he is a musician with something to say; and that something is worth listening to.

Rupert Yakelashek, centre, playing with band Teeange Art Scene at Little Fernwood in May 2024. (Don Denton photo)

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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