R.I.P. Toronto Music Scene Staple Michelle Puska
The promoter, sound technician, manager and musician died following a cervical cancer diagnosis
Published Jan 21, 2022Michelle Puska, a tireless fixture of the Toronto music scene, died following a two-and-a-half-year battle with cervical cancer. Her death on January 20 was announced in a Facebook post by her husband, Travis Kiid.
Puska was born in British Columbia before moving to Toronto in 2010. She initially began promoting concerts under her Indulge Productions banner, which led to a large number of other jobs that found her working as a venue booker, stage manager, talent manager, sound technician and organizer.
Over the years, she worked at venues including the Dakota Tavern, Rec Room, Collective Concerts, the Silver Dollar Dollar and Velvet Underground, at festivals such as NXNE, CMW, CMJ and Nujazz, and with other organizations including Collective Concerts, Paper Bag Records, Magus Entertainment and Do Right! Music.
Puska also served as the drummer of Toronto psych trio Seraphic Lights, performing alongside vocalist-guitarists Katelyn Molgard (now of Bad Waitress) and D.B. Buxton. Their lone release, debut EP Trapped, was released in 2013.
In 2015, Puska along with fellow concert promoter Juliana Carlevaris (now of Dig Productions and Hot Garbage) founded Night Owl Festival, which slowly became the city's go-to celebration of psychedelic, thought-provoking music of all stripes and eventually began promoting shows year-round. During the festival's five annual instalments, performers included Of Montreal, Oh Sees, Allah-Las, King Khan and the Shrines, Ty Segall, Shannon & the Clams, the Besnard Lakes, Badge Époque Ensemble and countless local and emerging artists.
Puska was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2019. Her battle was supported by a series of GoFundMe campaigns that raised money to financially support Puska's treatments, care and costs of living: an initial 2019 campaign following her diagnosis raised $6,120; a subsequent campaign following the cancer's metastasization in late 2020 raised $12,220; and a third campaign from late 2021, supporting Puska's move back to British Columbia as a result of her cancer being deemed terminal and her wedding to Kiid, raised $2,450.