I had known so many Filipino friends from my childhood and never even imagined I would’ve found myself visiting there!
As I love the tropics anywhere around the world one year before the Easter holiday I swapped around my shifts for additional vacation time and took Mabuhay Airlines over to Manila! When you fly to other Asian countries while in Asia it’s very economical and at that point I needed time off. As I was there with my friend for almost a month I decided to really take the time to rest and rejuvenate but more importantly take in the history and cuisine. What I ended up learning and how I ended up learning this was ‘the culture shock’ Let me add this in for razzle dazzle: Black People should still be wearing sunscreen. But Black People also need tremendous amounts of sun for health reasons and as I almost 3 winters in Japan…the amount of sun required was taken in mostly on these trips I would go on! I was gifted a cute caftan from my good friend and aesthetician so I wore that over my bathing suit when I went on those many trips and I promised myself first thing in the morning I’d head to the beach everyday to get a head start on sunbathing and saltwater (you know it heals) You get to know the staff really when your stay is extended. Also keep in mind that you treat your reception and service staff and crew nice and hope they’ll be nice to you too right? I minded my biz as usual and every morning greet them and know them by first name basis. As I walk past the front desk for the 5th morning that week the guest services lady asked me the strangest question, she said ‘I noticed you go the beach every morning…’
Me: Yes, why not?
Her: Why would you want to be in the sun?
Me: Vacation. I had no idea where this conversation was headed yo…
Her:‘are you from here?’
Her: Is your Mom Filipino?
Me: No (but in my head I’m like do I look Filipino to you?)
Her: You shouldn’t be in the sun-you’ll too dark
Me: Too dark? What? (I’m Black.Hello,I’m Black!)
Her: I thought you were Filipino but because you keep going outside that’s why I’m asking you…..
Me: I don’t understand what you are saying,I’m Black (I’m African) and I’m from Canada living in Japan and both places in Winter get no sun so I can and will roast as much as possible.
Her: In this country we associate being darker with poverty and lower class
Me: But I don’t care what you associate it with, I’m Black (I need sun,I live for it!) I’m on vacation…..I bit my tongue on this (because I was gonna tip her well by the end of my trip!) My mind changed after this interaction though….. what I did say to her though was….and ‘my ‘darker skin’ got me travelling to many places and booking at THIS hotel you work at…..’ I was so confused about the conversation, the mindset (she held) and how people are/were conditioned and why didn’t I know about this at home? (Toronto) Made me realize how much colonization of any kind was sad and dangerous. Later on that day and week I was floored because her ratchet statements and questions led me on a little adventure thereafter… As I went into town and hit the beach I used to have children shyly walking behind me. Some asking for candy’ and others asking for USD. But one day a little kid with a tightly curled Afro and much coppery tanned skin ran up to me and said: you look like my Mom. Another reference to me being ‘Filipino’. I just tried not to act surprised when the child said this and was like really? Okayyyyy! A tour guide assigned to me upon my arrival at the airport asked if myself and my friend wanted to go further across the island and we both agreed that we’d love to! They took us fishing and we stopped mid-ocean for pictures and some history lessons…..Then they took us to the mountainous regions and now in one trip I learnt about the colonization of the country and it’s post effects and the Indigenous that to my knowledge has never been the true face for that country. They led us to the mountainous region weekly marketplace where Indigenous women with woven baskets, hats, rattan home decor, t-shirts and souvenirs gathered for tourists and city folk to purchase stuff. And I came face to face with these gorgeous women. And no lie…..we looked at each other with a kind of recognizance. At the time I had just cut off my dreadlocks so my fro was pretty tight and some of the women had the same hair and beautiful skin that the little boy had. It was a kind of mirror in a way and looking from a child’s eye, I realized that I really did look like them! It was fascinating for me because I learnt all the history I needed to truly understand in one week-starting at my morning appointment with the sun!
So what’s the lesson here? sometimes the roots are the most important parts even if they are buried, behind the scenes, silenced, hidden, removed or unknown
I was happy for the man that then and there is when he realized and understood his racism. He knew that colourism was tied to his self hate and he knew for sure that he projected that to others he felt were weaker than him. He introduced himself and sat down beside me to explain that he was an inventor and that he visits NYC twice a year to patent and present his inventions. He quickly followed with ‘I have a confession to make’ Lemme assure you before I continue that I didn’t know this man. He was waiting for his shuttle bus to La Guardia and asked to sit down beside me in the lounge. I hesitated as I was waiting for the time to pass before grabbing my bus at Penn Station and I noticed that he was eager to talk to me-as if he had something profound to say. He apologized before uttering his truths and talked about his upbringing.
As a young man he explained, he had the deepest hatred for Black People and that he once hated Black folks so much that he would have never sat beside one of us in any public place- buses, offices, classes, meetings and lobbies, like where we were at that very moment. For him to start a convo this way-took a lot out of me and to then sit quietly and listen to him speak HIS truth….and now looking back at who I am today is pretty wild…I have very little patience today.
He admitted that he was treated differently growing up because of his ‘Native’ roots-he was labelled ‘Indio’ at school and though he had ‘Spanish’ roots he did have darker skin. It was a very uncomfortable topic for him at those younger ages to the point where he rejected himself enough to embody that much distaste for someone like me.
Upon moving to the United States though-going to Law school and studying Civil Law and even after becoming a practicing lawyer and later a professor-he still retained the same racist mentality he adapted and maintained specifically against Black People. He was a middle aged man at this stage (November 2001 post 9/11 to be specific. This is the most important part of this lesson) when I was talking to him. At the time he further described that he was was old enough to still remember the Native tongue he studied and spoke fluently (by his Native Grandparents) in addition to Spanish. He was even given a Native name at birth.
He spoke one of the Mixtec dialects very well. He studied with elders before his coming of age and at age 25 he migrated to the United States and began assimilating and began forgetting who he was. He talked about going to law school. Becoming a lawyer, assimilating into the ‘dominant’ culture while working civil cases for his people (Hispanics and especially Mexicans,)all the while taking digs in many professional settings at African American people especially women-he gave me a very detailed description of his thought process and said he was very ashamed but felt it was important to tell someone like me about his innermost thoughts related to race relations and oppression. It dawned on me then also that NBPOC hold the most adversity towards Black People. And I had never fully understood that concept until I left Toronto because I had grown up in VERY multiethnic neighbourhoods most of my life where the common denominator was being first gen children of immigrants.
What would trigger all these moments of honesty in a hotel lobby in the middle of the financial district in NYC? I was about 23/24 years old at the time. It was November 2001 only 2 months after 9/11.As we waited for our shuttle buses in the lobby to catch flights and buses he was reflecting on his life that had flashed before his eyes as the flight he should’ve been on to San Francisco was flying through one of the skyscrapers that burned down that sombre day. He had initially been angry that the airline had cancelled his flight and that he had to wait around-but as he watched the news at the airport lounge; his life was spared and had he been gone he would’ve left behind three daughters and a wife.
So what am I getting at with this travel story 20+ years later? Simple. Don’t wait for a world altering occasion to change your biases. Don’t allow division by race, colour, country,class-pretty much all the shit that distracts us from why we’re here on this planet keep up the hatred and maligned ways on which we think or treat others. That clichéd but truthful statement that life is short during this age of COViD et al and is too much of a historically altering time that is begging us to shift whether we see or not. So the man thanked me for hearing him out. He thanked me for listening intently and apologized for having these types of thoughts towards someone like myself whom he didn’t know! So, that’s the story! He, FINALLY at 50+ years loves himself-took a good look in the mirror after that near death experience and was thankful for his life. He shook off the self hate and learnt to like, get to know and truly respect others. He realized how easy it was to see others as deserving of respect! I went home that evening thinking about where I had biases (not that kind of deep racial hatred though) and talking to this man made me appreciate being from Toronto!
for any of you that have followed this blog over the years, you might have known by now that I’ve travelled quite a bit. I have usually only talked about where I’ve been and the fun activities I’ve planned out. It dawned on me the other day though; that I’ve never talked about the deep learning I experienced on my travels. When I look back at older travel pics and what I felt about the places I went to over the years after leaving Toronto only once in my life and then later living in Japan-those experiences changed me. The other night I was flipping through old photo albums and very specific interactions with profound occurrences that shaped my mindset moving forward…I could only think of four really powerful stories.
I’ll share them here over the next four weeks and they are indeed packed with details that I probably would have never shared in general conversation with anyone. These experiences do speak to where the world is headed right now and why it’s important for humanity and society to get it together personally and culturally-so stay ready to read them! 🙂
After last year’s multiple closures in the hospitality and venue space industries things became a little quieter than usual around the 6ix. Usually, right after the holidays as is often what happens after Christmas and New Year’s. I know this as I’ve worked at many of those places over the years. As the sun set on many of the city’s favourite places-recent memories included: Raw Artists, his signature anonymous (House of Balloons) ‘Weekend’ presentations before he became the mega star he is today- Now that I think about it over the years, I’ve even been to a few NXNE festival presentations or showcases there too!
Just a few short days ago Work Late dropped the announcement that the former Mod Club is renamed Axis and also re-opening! It’s an exciting new chapter as this corridor of College St. has so many historic spots! This piece was supposed to go out a few days ago and as I was excited to see that an old venue is re-emerging anew- my hope for the future, as with many venues and venue owners in this city, is that they would take a more open-minded approach to hosting events and artists outside of the genre they were most comfortable with and used to.
What I intended to write in this piece is that I felt Hip Hop and Underground genres should be given more of a closer look- considering how many Canadian acts have gone out to do great things on global charts and streams (the lockdown shows this) We are all very aware at this point that Canadian artists and acts can and do pull a crowd at many venues around the world.
The Axis Club then goes on a few days later to release this line up for the All Axis Festival next month! A full 2 in 1.The two-day hybrid event will featuring both IRL performances as well as pre-recorded streams via Happin, a ticketing and live streaming platform with artists Savannah Ré, The Dirty Nil, DijahSB, Dylan Sinclair and more will perform at the newly renovated venue. And who is actually more?
On September 9th along with 2021 Juno winner Savannah Re there’s 3409,Dani Doucette,DJ Shub,Dylan Sinclair,No Tourists,TRP.P,Villabeatz. And the following night- GRAE,Korea Town Acid,Olivia Lunny,Orson Wilds,Peter Serrado*+more
Happin,a Toronto based tech and ticketing company is working in collaboration with Axis Club and the Unison Benevolent Fund (a music industry charity, providing emergency relief to the Canadian music community in times of hardship for about a decade now) to deliver an amazing streamed and IRL experience for this event. Things have changed and they are combining the two performance options together. I like this.
This is one of the great ways to restart this city’s nightlife in a completely new way! For more details contact (Stay Out Late) and check https://theaxisclub.com/ for details on their next club/concert nights. The future of nightlife in Toronto is looking up. -theshineprjct
The definition of ‘if a remix was a true remix. All tracks were really good! You guys dropped this at just the right time. You know that tail end of summer?…..Flowdan’s flow is tight ‘I can smell what they’re cooking and I can’t overlook it! This is it! From UK Bass Master Roska, to local label Bare Selection’s come up king Wize, sub-soca legend Marcus Visionary (Inner City Dance) have you seen him live? I went to a Roni Size/Marcus Visionary party and my God, it was wikked and lastly local Cassius by way of Berlin and new with Bare Selection but knowledgeable in UKG as well as bassline Lijah (Bristol) ALL dropped a little something for us.
Here’s something worth noting: as new and underground sounds become more en vogue , Bare Selection is stepping forward and building up the scene. You know adding legs and deeper roots for Toronto’s underground community. I think we can FINALLY say that Canada (starting in Toronto,of course) is finally sustaining and creating a solid scene that is here to stay! So many pockets of subculture right here in the city and so many names, brands, events have their own distinct style. Bravo, Electronic & Underground Toronto! Yasss!
The one fave that stuck out the most on this Aug.6 re-release was ‘Plans In Motion’ why? well, the UK funky, drill and leftfield bass sounds (like any brand new track,) can and I’m sure, DID move waistlines in the 6ix-I’m sure of it, easily. Actually-tracks like these can and do appeal to multiple crowds. These tracks dropped at the perfect post Caribana ‘hotter than a devil’s balls’ time frame; when we reminisce about how summer went while still enjoying it.
This heat dropped at the perfect time. I had to replay them both a few times to see where/what was different and how it moved me.Plans In Motion was already loved by crowds, both here and across the pond. The newer improved versions though,give it more life! Wize definitely has the Toronto and London crowds in mind with the heavier (grime sound) while Visionary kept it a little more soca (sub-soca to be exact.) These sounded carefully crafted,and still all the way bashment!Let the tunes hit your ears and hips for these potential final weeks of outside (I hope not.)Keep an eye (and both hips) out for more fire drops from Bare Selection.
What a time to be alive! 2020/2021 was one for the books in all areas of life-but for House Music, i’ll say bravo, bravo! I spent most of the lock watching DJOON and Detroit Movement lives and caught all kinds of dope shit that I would’ve planned to see at festivals. .
I don’t know about you but…these tracks moved me! Time is an illusion so I’ve mashed together last summer and some of this summer’s finest that I play for my own ears and soul. As I presently have them all and more on rotation, let me preface this by saying that with many shifts in pace and modes of socialization gradually changing, music has re-emerged as the pillar of strength that carried us through that was seen on programs like Verzuz as well as dedicated channels and pay per view events.
I’ve taken in so many live sets online of which I wouldn’t be privy to unless I’ve seen those artists live somewhere, somehow. I’ve taken in tons of material that I don’t believe I would’ve heard if these artists were on the road most of the year. Thanks to Twitch, YouTube and other online platforms I make sure to factor in new and existing artist lives-I check for hot new drops and I am steadily listening to while I work.
Here are some of my top Global House & Tech track favourites! As much of a House and Deep House Lover that I am, I do listen to music outside of my faves and have stumbled on some good, good stuff. There’s some Canadian tracks squeezed in and around on rotation here goes:
Like a Fool Fred Everything Lazy Vox Crazy P – 15 Years of Lazy Days
This is what I remember hearing so often at Li’lys in Toronto! 2021’s Lazy Vox version of Like A Fool is a smoother and groovier collaboration with Crazy P. I call this a more buss down version of the earlier release in 2015. It’s subtle but waaayy heavier! One thing I love the most is when a Montreal DJ/Producer like Fred Everything puts his spin or re-interpretation on already really good tracks. Just when you think it can’t be made any better….This track sounds like what he usually puts out. It’s honest, raw and right in the centre of that pure Deep House scale. 2015’s Mercyless feat.Wayne Tennant has that same bounce. I couple this up with his Madhouse Records release Imagination & Determination. It’s soothing to my ears and soul. Keep them coming!
Stay Inside (Girls of the Internet Extended Remix) JT Donaldson, Liv.e, Girls of the Internet Classic Music Company |
I think upon hearing this I really didn’t mind being inside at all!!! Soulful vocals like this were definitely heard across most 90s tracks for them to be a certified bop; this revival is a solid new classic. This is what I was saying earlier about songs being created at the time for that perfect moment in history- it feels very authentic. I don’t know how else to say this; but black female vocals are unmatched. This is smooth and renews a place in time for 2021 and beyond! Accolades for the both of you putting something as dope as this! More please! https://bit.ly/3eV6sph
China Charmeleon – I Want My Soul – Tribute To George Floyd (My Father’s Records) Stay True Sounds
Soulful and timely for the year that everything changed. His death touched many around the globe including our brothers and sisters in Africa South. Something special about 2020 and 2021 brought forth cuts like this. This tune has the signature classic sound that moves us House heads. This is fresher. This track brought me to look a little deeper at China’s pre Stay True Sounds discography and remixes. China literally lights up any previously released track in a multitude of ways. We see that in Sculptured Music’s fire track re-do of Sad To Think. Check out China’s set at Djoon’s presentation of the Stay True Sounds roster to capture a more direct taste of his kind of vibe! https://bit.ly/3kQo3Cu
Boiler Original Mix Sydney Blu Release: Conviction I love to dance and this is it for me. It took me a minute to release that this was a punchier and persuasively Housier version of theUndr The Radrrelease in 2020. This track is an example of a period in time where Dance music had some very lit energy! The vocals are catchy and this to me stood out on the Conviction release. This goes with me to the gym, this sits with me as I work! I have to add in that she is also Canadian! You can hear this album here at this presentation from earlier this year! Mr. Afterparty presents Sydney Blu – Conviction Album Set https://bit.ly/3l64ir1
Devotion by Fred P devotion W&P by Fred P
A good friend put me on to his music years ago as he ventured out to Berlin from the U.S. years ago -and his sound imprint has only gotten clearer and deeper over the years. I’m a huge fan of Fred P’s Private Society on Bandcamp and look forward to all the new vibrations he puts forth on this platform quite often. His genre is described as ambient, electronic and it really does sound like this. Devotion is that perfect background music used to gather inspo to create masterpieces and is one of 7 beautifully crafted cerebral tracks released a few months ago. I look forward to anything under Perpetual Sound. How distinct is he as a DJ/Producer? Have a listen to this Fred P remix for Electro Pop artist St. Vincent featured on Nina Kraviz presents release compilation from 2019. I love to chill and lounge with some wicked thought provoking tunes and Fred P did THAT! (listen to the original as well!) He changed that tune into a whole other genre in his distinct style! https://bit.ly/3iLzKaV
I’ve loved Portia Monique’s sound for quite sometime. She captured my ears in (2013) on The Layabouts – Colours of Love. In addition to that I stayed listening in (2019) on Ralf Gum’s (Go Go Music) album Progressions with sneaky link track After Midnight and right now, this year with Who You Know and Flower. This song intends to nurture the soul and it does just that! The most beautiful tracks are the ones with the strongest messages. She can effortlessly ride these beats so if you’re more into the beauty and strength of vocals-check this out and take it in. Her voice is gorgeous and her sound is unforgettable! She knows her voice (lyrically and soulfully)-you should get to know it too!
The Way (Jazzuelle Darkside Remix) Luka, Jaidene Veda, Jazzuelle Re:Vibe Music (Afro Creations Vol.10 Compilation) – Spotify Reunited again and it sounds so good! Three artists on the House/Deep House circuit that I absolutely enjoy listening to when they collaborate with others but together-is some synergy. One signature style/sound I’ve come to recognize about Luka is what I personally call dark and jazzy which is rarely captured ensemble in ‘House’ anything. I first took notice on 2 out of 3 of them collaborating on the 2013 release Overstanding with the We Go Deep label remixed by sir lsg & Anthony Nicholson. Jazzuelle definitely demonstrates the deviation from his signature futuristic sound on his own projects. I love to hear it! https://bit.ly/371nQUW
Listen, I could go on and on but these are just a few of the things I listen to- maybe I’ll check in with some stuff in the fall or winter! Enjoy being outside and keep dancing!
What will it take for underground music publications in Canada to start seeing it more broadly (you know, a little differently?)
Another perspective never hurt anyone…….
The BLM outcry phase of 2020 permeated the globe and touched all socio-cultural, political,entertainment and justice areas among many other sore spots in our collective human stories. As we can all recall, it touched the world so profoundly that many large capital cities all held peaceful and profound rallies to support their awareness of the fact that humanity hasn’t always been kind to Black People from the onset of human recorded history. I myself, cried seeing these rallies because as a Black Woman with African roots born and raised in Toronto, I have experienced my brand of adversity in the creative space where I reside. #torontoishome
Although ‘performative ally ship’ and ‘inclusivity’ are now common buzzwords that appear more frequently in conversation; the tidal waves that this topic made across the music industry, I believe is one that has catapulted Black Music’s value to an even higher degree across the globe. Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two Black music industry executives at Atlantic Records and Platoon (Apple) organized #TheShowMustBePaused (where corporate colleagues spread the word across social media for many to change their tiles black in efforts to) ‘hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable … It is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.’ The Underground is more known for its DIY promotion, rugged venues and a more grassroots development so it’s hardly comparable to the ‘wealth’ described in Thomas and Agyemang’s quote. (But stay with me here.)
As there are so many factors that make up the scene globally- all segments of the scene could equally contribute strongly to the industry in a much different way than how it was usually glossed over in the past.
I’m not calling any existing publications out at all. But this time-into the next decade; let’s start reporting about it from a different lens. Let me explain what I mean: As multiple newsrooms, print magazines and newspapers have folded up and as brick and mortar facilities have gone digital, and some others have completely abandoned publications because print has dried up in the last recent years, reporting from a different lens as I call it; is what needs to happen as publications realize that their scope has been limited. And as freelance writers and previous journalists now have the flexibility to write differently-I think it’s time to look at other genres of Underground Music and have it written and reported from the lens that understands it. You know, a first person/first hand perspective i.e. not limited to but from the culture, by the culture. It might not be written from a lens that is widely embraced or be completely understood by a publication’s readership but it may attract more readers and build a wider audience.
The more frequently and out of the comfort zone the writing is,I believe the readership becomes accustomed to MORE (the community develops from coast to coast) and with the global lockdown and public venues bringing DJ based entertainment to a halt, this is the Underground grassroots publications and supporting media’s cue to start looking outside their bases to rebuild and bolster the culture’s roots.
At the top of 2021 it’s okay to still keep BLM in mind and recognize all Black artists that have contributed to the scene but let’s put this into practice. And for publications that have writers outside the scope of what they’ve always covered, it allows the publication to research more about the genre i.e. Afro House, Afro Tech and other subcultures as well as upcoming new talents and of course-OGs in Canada who have paved the way. It has become increasingly difficult to capture movements and trends because they are so hidden and that is also the beauty of the Underground!
What brought about me writing this piece is that on the ‘Urban’ side of things-now called Progressive R&B and Melodic Rap (the term’s been abolished) countless publications that downsized their teams following last year’s lockdowns did have many Canadian Writers on their U.S. rosters and many writers and creators faced lay offs. Others faced a shortage of pitching opportunities with changing publication staffing and release dates/times. I do imagine a revived industry across the board where Black perspectives are valued and sought after instead of diminished and diluted.
I’m not saying that publications should loosen up their pitch guidelines and points of consciousness to change the trajectory of a magazine or publication’s legacy. Nor am I saying that publications should loosen their standards to accept any old kind of writer. What I am saying is by having more diverse writers in all genres and writing methodologies, the cultural landscape is better. Black humour,Black expression and Black experiences are eye-opening and stylish at best.(Everyone knows this!) Canada has plenty to offer the global scene (look at how many Canadian DJs,Vocalists and Producers we have? I can make a huge list here there are many!)
The discussions about European and American dominance over what encompasses the real Underground, who founded the genre and what the scene and industries should look like has come up a few times a month on and offline across social platforms but still, a little more quiet in Canada. So here are some questions: What does the industry look like in Canada, how many Underground publications exist here in this country? How is it reported? How many publications have gone digital? How many are still in print? What’s the readership like? Who are the fans? And does the writing reflect the Underground (House,Tech,Deep,Dub) scenes across the country at all levels? What are the regional publications in Canada? How do publications view themselves in the greater environment? To that I answer- it can and should look like whatever it wants to be with a few small changes I’m proposing here:
· Working with writers who write differently, express uniquely and come from different parts of the cities across Canada, it’ll prevent the slow death the scene is experiencing as one chapter of nightlife is ending.
· Connect people with things that make sense. By bringing in more diverse writing into the fold with publications that already exists it offers guidance to its subscribers at home and beyond, with heavy emphasis on Canadian representation first and foremost.
Editors: Be more open-minded to the style of writer you can and should accept. Why? The more open minded you are to the types of topics, writing styles and point of views- the more colourful the industry will be: Paint it Black if you will. Although publications that have celebrated many great years of readership and tremendous levels of success and ‘tradition’. By changing the flavor of writing, its stance and its bird’s eye view will garner more attention, more success, more fans and greater influence. I would even argue a better industry and scene in Canada. Think about it! The Underground is the IT factor for a reason-it sets trends in advance of a few years before it becomes common to everybody else and that is a HUGE accomplishment. And what is IT that I refer to in the title up top? The Black Experience.It’s fun, it’s juicy, it’s dynamic. It exists!
Saying the phrase ‘getting your edges snatched’ sounds pretty intense but for real though- you really don’t want that at any point during your healthy hair journey. The idea is to nurture the hair, keep it hydrated and healthy right? I’ve talked about Ayurveda a number of times on this blog so we’re at a point where I’ve incorporated this into all areas of my life and it’s actually replaced most of my hair care. With more time to do my weekly routines-I mean, I’ve always cared for my hair and it’s undergone plenty of phases but one of my biggest focuses after the first lockdown last year was moisture and hydration.
For those of you who are familiar with the hair type classification chart created by Andre Walker (Oprah’s Hairstylist), Many say the chart doesn’t matter but in some instances it helps. I know now my hair is type 4 and low porosity. The porosity is a huge deal because for years I wore braids (I love them, this is my favourite look!) I still wear them but I realized that my strands needed ultimate hydration that would retain the new hair after all the growth/gains. Also, I’m VERY focused on my hair and keeping its thickness! As we age, hair does go through some change and I’m not there yet; BUT it’s better to take care of the hair as naturally as possibly with the most benefits. I’ve got thick strands and as I’m ‘low porosity haired’ natural black hair enthusiasts call it. Hair length is definitely a last result for me BUT thickness, (intact edges and minimal heat damage are my focuses!)
I found both (Curly Proverbz) Farida Sharma and Khadija Dawn Carryl of (Henna Sooq) I perused quite a few You Tubers and stumbled on both their pages I had always bypassed. I think what got me was the fact that they promoted Ayurveda and that they both promoted curly, coily, kinky natural hair and it was pretty thick!!!
I watched her mention of amla and fenugreek which I had used for face masks in the past and for cooking too-but she kept referring to them as game changers. She then showed her before and after pics-mind you it’s been 10 years to see her full transformation. The results are amazing!! So with more time to explore and no need to rush my weekly schedule, I dove right in!
She talked about onion juice (sulphur based) which I was not a fan of, but the detailed content was what got me into that! She talks about tea rinses from chamomile to lavender to green tea (I had always seen tea as an ingredient for hair colour change in the summer (but I found out it eliminated shedding!)
I opened my cupboards and found Yerba Maté and coffee grounds which had been collecting dust in their bags for a few months. Apparently they’re DHT blockers and great for the scalp and follicles. She then spoke the praises of Henna! I was so hesitant about henna because of the dryness I’d experienced previously not knowing there were new and updated ways to use henna!
I’m writing about herbs now that summer is here! All the fresh herbs work really well during the warmer months and I can’t wait to mix more of them to try out what works. I found out that there are many herbs I’ve known before but didn’t know all their names and functions. If you’re ready to get your kitchen messy while you cook too: here you go!
Here are someof the tools you’ll need to get started:
A fine strainer, vinyl gloves, cheesecloth, mason jars, ceramic bowls with plastic spoons (henna shouldn’t be used in metal as it could cause a reaction on your scalp and skin)
Henna (Neutral) It doesn’t dye the hair. It does strengthen the strands. (Your hair should be handled with care after an application of henna as the hair strands really get reinforced.) An excellent deep conditioner of your choice is required.
When you choose a henna shade to colour your hair, aloe vera powder, juice or puree is required to give your hair the moisture it needs while colouring or covering greys. It really works!
Tea Rinses – Green, White, Black, Nettle, Chamomile, Lavender (Mostly either eliminates shedding and/or strengthening or moisturizes the hair across the board.)
Roots – Garlic, Burdock Root, Garlic, Onion
Ziziphus which is dried red dates a staple I used to drink in Japan! (if you find it in powder form, it can be added into pastes OR as whole dates they can be brewed into a tea!) VERY GOOD for moisture and curl pattern formation.
Essential Oils – Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Clove, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Lemongras (Good for the scalp)
Moisture – Raw Organic Honey, Shea Butter, Aloe Vera Juice or pulp, Cactus (Nopales, find at a Mexican Grocery Store.)
Oils – Olive,Jojoba,Hemp,Coconut,Carrot,Avocado,Sunflower,Almond,Castor (Jamaican & Regular) *there are many more that are so ideal but it really does depend on your hair type and preference-what works for me may not work for you!
I tried henna a few years back to colour my hair when I didn’t need colour and now during quarantine, I started seeing greys! Yeahhhhh they’re here now. I had seen Mums and Aunties of friends with orange strands (henna dyed greys) and not liking what that looked like…….so I took my time learning how to set it up and mix the pastes. You can also buy the henna pre-mixed (Vatika) so you won’t have to wait for the dye to release for hours before application.
Henna mixed with indigo which gives a dark chestnut brown colour and wow-it looks good. I’m gonna play with what gets hair a lighter brown for a more sun kissed look! We’ll see what happens. Hair YouTuber Farida has a system where you pre make these deep conditioner (I call them hair hockey pucks) they’re frozen pods. It takes some time to prepare but making enough of these to last 8-15 weeks saves so much time. Here’s a little secret: I go to the discount racks of my local grocers and buy old avocados and bananas the riper the better and whip that shit up-however many pucks that makes, I’ll make 30 or more! My hair is getting thicker so 1 puck is no longer enough so I use 2 now! Look at that-Everything needed in your conditioner base all from your fridge and pantry! Avocado, banana, plantains, hibiscus (sorrel),kale powder, herbs- I mean the list is endless. My hair is eating GOOD! 🙂 I have a bit of an apothecary on my shelf now with all the herbs and counting because it works!
I made my first set of pucks and of course I didn’t expect Rapunzel hair overnight but what I did get was incredible hydration!!! I realized that my low porosity hair needs a deep, deep conditioning EVERY WEEK! Not just deep conditioner either-I needed all those ingredients mixed with a rich conditioner (MANUKA HONEY & MAFURA OIL INTENSIVE HYDRATION CONDITIONER or JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL STRENGTHEN & RESTORE TREATMENT MASQUE or Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle) on high heat. I had a bonnet dryer attachment that I used sparingly and started using it every week with my henna hockey pucks all mixed with castor oil, more herb powders and plenty more Jamaican Black Castor Oil…..my God! Really, I get it now-it’s a game changer!!!
My hair changed!! Shrinkage was tighter, curls were tighter, my hair got darker, shedding was minimal to none and it was growing alot even after my only trim of 2020! Heat damage from silk pressing was visible on my ends and my roots on those same strands were growing in thicker. The thicker roots became so apparent that the ends looked very thin and lifeless-so I’m really taking time with the ends and gradually trimming them off at home! We don’t have a choice right? I think this homebound haircare routine is teaching me how to really delve deeper into holistic beauty practice. Another thing I’ve found also is that many of these ingredients are found in Africa and India as well….most tropical countries actually have most of these plants so as I pick up provisions in any tropical market, I find many of these ingredients at a much cheaper cost. Even with the prices going up this year. (Jojoba is expensive now yooooo!)
Prices are going up on everything so I traded out tons of products for the herbal counterpart. Also, I bought my first massive stash of things late February 2020 and most of them have just about finished this month! For shit you use weekly 1 year plus is a long lasting period of time to have these kicking around!
I started taking Ashwaganda tincture internally and realized I can also use it on my scalp too! Ashwaganda happens to be one of the herbs used in the hair teas and hair pucks. So my goal was to get into adaptogenic herbs that can be ingested to balance hormones and sleep deeper as well as get it onto my scalp and strands.
During the last quarter of lockdown, greys started popping up in the middle of my head and a few light strands on my temples. I debated for awhile whether I’d be using drugstore boxed dye or getting it dyed at the salon. Lockdown made the decision easy. So this is where I am now I started looking into henna. For anyone who’s tried henna only a handful of times, there are so many methods to protect the hair from drying out. Aloe vera juice, powder or pulp is excellent in the mix (I’m re-iterating here again okay?) You know those snatched edges that often referring to on social? Amla powder is amazing for it! That dehydrated look when the hair dries out after a wash n go or the frizz that pops up after a humid day with a low bun looks very different these days with Amla involved. Another thing too……I started making my own hair oils because many of this mass marketed companies put the cheapest oil as their base with the herbs (mineral oil anyone?) That ‘s the worst for Black hair and skin!
Darker colour wheel – Browns and Blacks
Lighter colour wheel – Blondes, Light Brown
Many of the henna sites recommend adding lemon to the mixture-please don’t use lemon on anything! It’s not great for afro hair! This stuff is designed to strengthen, thicken and grow the hair! The strengthened strands are enough! Also too-you can’t go blonde with henna if you’ve got darker hair but you’ll see a lighter hue than you’re natural colour!
This is another option in case the salons don’t open for awhile longer in Ontario. Henna (good quality kind), brahmi, moringa, triphala, burdock root, neem, ashwaganda, castor oil, shikaikai, fenugreek, amla, tea rinses (black, green, chamomile, nettle, lavender) all these items are mentioned above; check them out to see how they’ll benefit you and your hair! I also ask myself if I can/will be able to eat any of these items for everything else. Many of them work well in foods too! Lavender lemonade anyone?
The key to making all this work for you is to pre make everything you’ll use because 1) it gets messy 2) It takes time 3) It is best to buy the herbs in larger sizes. (the amount of tablespoons you start putting into your concoctions because the stuff works so well, will have you finishing a 100g bag quick!)
The Afro/Indo connection:
Coconut milk, moringa, cloves and neem all come from both continents and are widely used in body, food and haircare. These ingredients are excellent starting points for mixing herbal ingredients together. I have always been a big supporter of Ayurvedic herbs for years but not to the extent that I discovered this past year!
I started mixing herbs into my regular hair conditioner alone and found some of the recipes on their YouTube channels. I found that I really liked AMLA, Fenugreek and Henna. I also found that nourishing masks (pre poos) before an actual shampoo really strengthens my hair and strands. I can see some new strands coming up within a few weeks of use. Another observation I’ve made is that when I use the herbs with heat its sooo good for 4C hair. I use an extension with a blow dryer weekly for optimum results. I’m looking to invest in a hair steamer though. It is summer and of course it is hot; but even 20 mins instead of a full hour under it; changes the hair tremendously.
Just want to note that not everything works for everyone but this is something worth trying once you see the transformation. If I do a follow up article I’ll show my before and after in a few more months. Hydration is really what took me by surprise here. Good luck on your possible holistic hair journey!
You could be making green sauce, pasta sauce, tea rinses or hair juice (to replace plain water.) That’s the best thing about natural anything!
As we have reached the final days of February, we reflect on the new way we talk about Black artists in the Underground and all over the globe. Before I make this seem like another Black Artist asking for flowers, let’s consider how many we don’t really pay attention to even though they’ve delivered some excellent projects for the last decade. I’m proud to say he’s Canadian and even more so, he’s represented Toronto on a number of platforms most recently on his own over at IG,Patreon, Demuir DJ set – ReConnect: Deep House | @Beatport Live and Demuir Live From CODA in Toronto also last year. One of the things that caught my attention at first was the poster I saw at ADE a few years back with Demuir among many on a line up (he was at ADE) Demuir became a leader right before our eyes in a space where few speak up about issues that matter. Not only did he speak on multiple elephants in the room in 2020,he spoke on topics that get ignored but still affect the culture year after year.
There’s something to be said as COVID-19 has socially and culturally transitioned Canada into a new era-maybe I’m only speaking for Ontario and Quebec-There are frontrunners like Demuir that can beautifully represent being Black and Canadian in the electronic space at home and abroad. If not him then who? I pose this question because every win is a spotlight for the collective (it ain’t a competition or a point of contention, it’s motivation and in my case shine for all.)
There’s also something to be said where governing Canadian music entities (FACTOR,CBC,Ministry of Culture ,Sports & Tourism,CMW,Junos,Spotify,Apple,Live Nation to name a few) to take a look at nightlife as a viable cultural entity in and beyond the nightclub arena across the country especially now. Why? Now’s the time to anchor deeper roots and build an immovable legacy. It’s more than just pre-colonial museums, artefacts,colonial landmarks and I still say this: Canadian music and talent has always been lucrative and electronic music production has made a sharp boost in the last few years with remote production and tech tools being a little more readily available to most who are serious enough to take the craft to higher levels than most. Pay attention, people forget that Canadians have always supported other components of the local and international dance music landscape for long.
One of the hashtags I’ve used for years is #itsaboutthemusic and I still believe it is, but what happens in and around that though? Well, when Demuir decided to do this (online) he looked at the tools he could gather to assist his journey, the credibility he had developed over the years and the platform he already had and started putting informative pieces out. Demuir explains, ‘you see, apart from the music it’s also great to be in a position to serve people because it creates good vibes. It is about how I can help people. It’s a great feeling- people hit me up to thank me or something as simple as a personal email reply to a purchase or an exchange sets an impression…..going in with a perspective to serve others is rewarding ten fold.’
This chat meant alot because I was met with an incredible challenge a few years ago where at one point I was not able to reach, arrange and talk to DJs at home (Toronto) from a Canadian perspective for a number of years. This interview is VERY important. And in order to truly make a huge difference from a systemic standpoint; discussions should be had. I was pretty stoked to talk to an Electronic music focused DJ from this city who had a lot to say with no holds barred. If you follow him on IG, you’ll know. @Demuir
The Zoom age has actually pulled the communication standard up in that it is one of the only ideal ways available to make change and exchange. Demuir Pierre, owner/founder of Purveyor Underground contributes in more ways than one. He shares knowledge on sound & production, shows expertise on track development and genre specific techniques and very much an expert in music arrangement & instrumentation. And finally-he tells folks where to go. In addition to being informed it’s excellent to see it all come together. We talked about a lot of things and I made sure to ask about his opinion on media and press even small ones like mine and what it meant as an artist, we’ll get into that…..
His take on print and online media: ‘I think media and writers who are actively invested in what they are writing is a good thing for the music. Good and bad feedback in terms of the music itself. It comes down to the media and writer intentions. It should move between both quality and quantity.
How has COVID changed the game? Congratulations on your progress. I did notice how you’re bringing stuff on to the social space. ‘I think social media is the way. Whatever your niche, the tips and tricks is dope. Alot of people are good, but they need to level up. We talked about the huge pause levelling EVERYHING up and everyone up and the way it was reposted multiple times over. The people who get mad, with opinions are the people who pay $10,000 a month to make fans and the public think they’re the shit and then pay someone to make the music sound good with no talent.’ That’s pretty direct….but it’s the truth. If you really have to show us what you’ve got,these situations now have placed folks in a position where it forces people to re-think things-it’s an opportune time to do what is you. Be your authentic self with your craft.
What he thinks about social media platforms: With the SM tips and tricks and YouTube you have to tackle it with purpose. I’ve always had a global focus in mind. It’s (social media) is just a natural inclination to being connected to the world. By leveraging the power of socials he gets to work at what and who he likes, respectfully!
His take on copying and emulation:There used to be an old school gatekeeping mentality about sharing your signature/trademark production secrets because the thought was that someone is going to copy and your sound is gonna be out there-it doesn’t really matter.I can put you in a studio with me for a week, a month even and you will never be like me (it’s true) in terms on intuitively, that’s what makes us unique. There’s more depth to people. He has no problem sharing tips for this reason. And he feels that this way you can inspire someone today to be even better at what they do.Copying and pasting is a moment in time. It’s a form of flattery. It’s funny and frustrating. But it happens.The tips and tricks,plug ins can create something completely different than what Demuir has shown them.
What’s your musical style? For those who don’t know…..’I represent the Underground’s harder stuff.’ He does point out that some other DJ/Producers tend to represent the more commercial side of things but he points out that his stuff is more likened to artists like DJ Sneak, Sea Moss, Besassi. Real heavy hitters.
This symbol the accompanies the label name what is it? What does it represent? (Black History Moment) He brought my attention on the symbol-the concept goes back to the slave trade with the underground railroad. It’s a big part of his heritage and with Trinidadian roots he meaning is quite profound. He explains that ‘when slaves would escape to freedom this symbol would be etched into the ground for direction to the northern star.’ That’s deep.
About the labels: He goes on to explain-‘I’m a seller of free thought of artists and pushing Underground culture. The music is raw sounding, house jacking & tech house.’ He is definitive about the way it sounds. The label represents free thought of artists integrity and artists 100% in the forefront. It’s his 3rd label (Peetaah Music was in the early 2000s) He took a huge hiatus for about 10 years at the time and things had changed dramatically once Apple iTunes was just introduced. He introduced Purveyor Underground in November 2017.Purveyor Underground is an extension of Demuir. He has another joint venture Kultur with Junior Sanchez and it’s inception pays ode to Black and Hispanic roots to Underground sounds.
Strong statement about BLM/Racism in Underground – He doesn’t believe the industry is inherently racist but the method and/or practices with respect to business is an output or consequence of a systemic business model that’s been followed for a number years and must stop. They try to package the music in a way that it’s more easily consumed. He speaks very clearly in 2020 that as many Black artists should and could be on the line up representing their music and should be present at lives and festivals. ‘Factors such as the right look, age and race have affected representation. It’s about action now, visibility and no more long talk. It always should come back to the music. Let’s have more, more, more and in 2021 it looks like MORE is being shown!
What do you wanna work on the last quarter of the year?2020 Continue cultivating direct to consumer avenues particularly making music and focusing on licensing and publishing. He also enjoys the impact his music has at the creator level as well as the fans and supporters. People commend him about the progress he has helped them make when working on music production and it’s indeed fulfilling to receive the feedback. At that time of our interview he had about 11 hours worth of material ready for teaching courses so it’s coming soon. (Expect some tracks out on labels, at home still creating, connecting with true friends. And of course dealing with real people who like what he does.)
The advice about growing, building and establishing in the scene/industry? Alot of producers get caught up with others who look locally and worry about the same line up on every flyer. Work around some of the same things that seem to be deeply connected ,limiting opportunities and blocking the way. Start thinking on a global level. Work harder-think about the person across the globe who has no connections and less resources. Every city has it’s own thing, build yourself up. As an artist you’ve got to define who and where you want to be in this game. Don’t look at it from this city’s perspective. Be concerned about everything that’s happening in the city but find your place.
Amsterdam duo Barbara Rose and Andrew Foley bring sounds and styles that do not overlap. A set with them live at the hotel or pre-recorded on SoundCloud are incongruent and yet still mesh well. Lemme explain this: times are changing but prior to now, especially in Dance Music genres were quite distinct and remained separate. This is changing and can exist creatively together and I sat down with the two of them and recalled what it was like to meet them both on my first and second trip to Amsterdam’s Dance Event (ADE) and boy, do those trips REALLY mean so much to me this year! During my 2nd ADE focused visit I followed them out to a city limits radio venue (AMW for one of her very first live Techno sets) and two things stood out the most 1) #blackgirlmagic behind the decks and 2)what her story was- you see Barbara, former professional dancer was seriously looking for a comparable but creatively rewarding outlet after suffering from a dancing injury and musically paired up with Foley (Deep Rooted Soul) to form PASTRY MUSIC.
Rose recently returned to Holland after a one year foray in Spain and as many globe trotters all abruptly had to return to their respective hometowns because of COVID, she talks to me about her journey and what the take-aways were. She talks about how different it was: Djs play with passion, ‘from the heart’ Even if they aren’t spinning Deep House-whatever it is they play more deeply. In this way she learned how to listen more. She listens to music with more intention because of that kind of depth. Only a 2 hour flight from Holland and in Spain she found a whole ‘nother culture, culture. In light of her travel experience, this interview would’ve gone differently but in the thick of a global revolution, Barbara Rose put the topic out on the table about being Black in Spain.
On one side Spain is absolutely beautiful….’the food is amazing,the cultural experience is exciting….the night life is enchanting…..she describes it with fresh nostalgia. ‘You know we are world travellers,we are well-travelled. I got to know alot of Djs with the music,rent is cheap,food is great. Finding and securing gigs is an easier process….but the thing with Spain,they don’t even look at your music. If they like your vibe,they’ll book you,it’s as if nightlife has a completely place in the city. It is it’s own encapsulated experience.
This is synonymous what I’ve heard frequently. After all these positives with one huge BUT. At this very moment in out global history we as people can cross reference our POV’s soooo…with a poignant swiftness she says,’ once you’re there you feel like a minority’. Is it possible to have 2 experiences on two sides of a Euro? Absolutely.
Andrew recalls on his visit to Spain-‘they live in a bubble, bureacracy is thick’ This is pre-COVID we’re talking about here. Rose talks about not expecting it to be as intense, especially being a Black Woman when dealing with people in Spain….. But yeah, it was…..
Andrew Foley 2nd half of Pastry DJs crew shared so much about his love of Disco, Hip Hop and later and longstanding, House. He enjoyed the sounds from era to era but he also enjoyed the signature feel of what what each genre brought to the next. ‘I used to buy alot of vinyl and the sound is vintage, which is why it’s still so good.’ I didn’t know Andrew at all but I got to understand what he was like based off of the way he played on the night I met him at a late, late night party at really super tiny place after a day at ADE (Bar Karakter) I walked in really you would think we were at a place in 2004-5.
If I’m saying this don’t every think that I’m pre-dating this musical era as old or out of touch! But House Music between 2003-2006 had some of the dopest sounds I think I’ve ever heard; and from the greatest musical minds, so many great sounds came out of that era. Maybe it’s a regional thing on my part, I consume ALOT of music but I have NEVER heard some of the music I heard that night and he played the shit out of that.
I thought that this was a first listen on my part and coming from Toronto, I thought that maybe my tastes and preferences had fallen off. Then I heard Andrew (Deeprooted Soul) again at another ADE live event. Andrew, your extensive catalogue and knowledge of the genre is incredible and your delivery of this stuff is impeccable. He captures a time and space in Dance Music and if you know, you know. I urge you to tune in and give it a listen at some point with all this downtime we’re about to have. It’s nostalgic, it’s euphoric, it’s precise and it’s well seasoned-most of all the passion is in there. Check them out: starting 09 jul. | Moxy Houthavens presents:
P A S T R Y M U S I C L I V E S T R E A M a fresh weekly concept every Thursday live from Moxy Houthavens Amsterdam.
They announced their collaboration with MOXY Houthavens Amsterdam this past summer. As of Thursday the 16th of July they have been streaming live on location bringing a fresh vibe to the lockdown blahs every week! It’s the hotel party of parties. (It’s called the PAS T R Y M U S I C show.) From 19:00 till 21:00 giving you the best in House & Tech Music with a touch of R&B every week with a new set of guest DJs. Join them live! They are definitely one of many DJs helping us enter the new global #livestream life on Twitch (@pastrymusicdjs.) It’s a different vibe over there. They’ve got some feel good energy!
Her take on passion is insightful: what will her children take from what she puts forth today? Her response were a very different type of introspection that would have quite possibly rolled out a whole lot differently if we had done this exact interview 3 years ago-at this stage she tries to really focus on staying healthy and balanced and to show her kids that she has passion for music. ‘I want them to be around that…. not so they can go out and make music but I’m definitely open to them finding their passions in their own life’.
I talked about last year’s Canada Music Week focus (South Africa) and she matched my excitement and threw in that she toured SA. I told her about the the South African connection program I had put together last year-she added that they (the roster) went in the early 2000s! ‘IT was a long time ago’…..in 2001. She visited Capetown, Durban and Johannesburg it was incredible and with it being her first time, she reminisced about what a beautiful place it was and that over there she felt the love. That feeling ‘the love’ we talk about was felt wherever she went to perform.
About travel and performances: I’ve been on tours to so many countries because of DJ’ing. I’ve been able to visit so many parts of the world. Seeing how connected everyone is-is quite amazing. You can speak a completely different language and still be so connected to each other. Music is universal and when I started going outside of Chicago I saw how connected we all are. We have so much in common because of music y’know? And that’s what is so incredible about us (as people) and it continues to keep us unified. And that’s what is so incredible. Thankfully because of Dj’ing I’ve been able to visit all parts of the world to just see the community between us dj’ing and dancing and how connected how we all are……
One thing I noticed Colette talks about music,arts,dj culture with deep vivid passion. Isn’t that what inspires people the most when it is what you are most authentically passionate about? It really had me thinking how much of this year’s events had changed the trajectory of our lives – our interconnectedness is critical to the survival and sustainability of the culture.
She knew what I meant when I asked how do DJs do life? How does she balance everything? I take it day by day-I started releasing music in 1996 and started touring in 1998 and have always been working on something but having children does take so much time and diligence….. So making music and being a parent is definitely never boring which is good. I don’t sleep as much. When you’re making music and being a parent, being a wife it kind of suddenly is all about juggling and balancing time-So I can do the things that I love.(for me it’s music.)I want them (my kids) to grow up around that and be inspired by that.-I’m open to them finding their own loves in life. But I want them to see that I’m very passionate about something and it’s been like that my entire life.
How has this whole quarantine life been for you? DJ Community especially? Everything is on pause. We both say in unison (Everything is on pause.) At the time of this interview she says, ‘so far it’s been just over a week and I just try to take it day-to-day and spend one part of the day paying attention to the news but at the same time I’m not trying to spend my whole day on there. And my kids are here and we’re homeschooling here and still trying to work on music and y’know not trying to have too much concern and daily thoughts on this change. (wise perspective) I think that these are unprecedented times (how many times have we read this in the promo emails that keep coming through?) There’s no way to really plan for it, all you really can do is focus on the day. (I love that she said this)
Seriously it sounded like a mantra: Colette said, ‘Today I am healthy, today I am safe. What can I do that will bring joy to myself, my children (you know I’d rather show something light or entertaining online because I think that is what everyone needs right now (Don’t we, we really do!) We need some ‘lightness’ in our lives (I’ve been trying to stick to that!) Firm stance is positive. Love this.
She let me know that music is still always coming out. And she wanted to remind us all that as much as it can be disappointing with plenty of events cancelled worldwide-at least for now; it is also for everyone’s safety, health and well being.
Did she have anything that was released this year prior to lockdown? Absolutely! People can still listen to music, can still experience the music and she encourages everyone to look out for new albums that are dropping. She’s got music coming out this year celebrating 10 years of Candy Talk (her label) and will be releasing a bunch of compilations with stuff from the very beginning of DJ Colette’s journey along with new drops as well.
It’s really all about being patient and not getting overwhelmed by everything she reassuringly explained. And she’s right about this across the board. I asked her if we’d be expecting any Second City Sessions next year because I really like those-Her reply to that: ‘Heather and I are always doing tour dates together and we just celebrated 10 years of those…we’ve always toured together. We did have something set up for May at Smartbar…..we’ll play together again sometime soon! It might get pushed back. We have always had the best times playing records together and that’s not going to stop anytime soon!’ And for real those Second City Sessions are where get to really hear and feel their taste for music! These nights are the result of some very tenured music connoisseurs.
It’s changed so much in the last 20 years for female DJs and even this year alone the level of exposure that is even more possible with our favourites livestreaming more frequently- and on platforms with wide reaching audiences. Any advice for those who want to break into the scene? Into production? What should they prepare themselves for? What should they do? I think for anyone when diving into the world of music and art is to really focus on what’s inspiring to you instead of going with what the trends of music are….for me I think for anyone….We all have our own special flare and once you’ve learnt your craft and figured out ways to translate music-this is what makes us unique. And that’s what people want. It’s so much more fun to just play and make music that you feel and not worry if it’s popular or if people are gonna like it. First and foremost it has to be honest. And that is what will make you the dj, producer, vocalist, songwriter etc….the happiest. And when you can create music that you really feel-People will gravitate towards that. I find it weird when people are chasing a trends musically because if you don’t like the trend then what are you trying to do? Creating art is magical and you just have to tap into that inner voice, make what inspires you.
I asked about other labelmates she told me it OM was one of her favourite labels…and she gave me a little history ‘My first album debuted on OM, I’ve been signed to OM since 2005…..being on that label changed the course of my music, it changed so many things for me. I support everything they do.’ So I got a little rundown and schooling. I knew Marques Wyatt and Miguel Migs were on there BUT Kaskade?! OM is a big deal to me and even still- I had no idea about that…! I got new info and the correct details (these mean everything to me.)
This entire convo was a vibe. As deeply reflective as she was in the way in which she responds, remarks and teaches- I walked away with a sense of strength and understanding. All in one go I asked specific questions and got waves of info! Having this chat meant I’d now possess an even greater appreciation for her music and the style she’s delivered all these years: It’s flawless. The Second City Sessions event tour date I attended at The Loft (#toronto) almost 3 years ago was where I was introduced to her live vocals on tracks which I’ve never heard live and I listen in more now.
What are some of the projects/lives we can catch again or in the future? She joined the #ChicagoKids crew on Sneak’s Feast of Beats last month (https://futurestream.tv/djsneak exclusive with pay for play access) She was one of many artists providing entertainment at this year’s MCH Virtual Weekend and Fundraiser (MiCasaHoliday) in partnership with Build Chicago and YourPassion1st where artists performed and participants were able to connect with international & local talent! Content was streamed for 7 days, 24 hours a day. Check the snippets out all over FB and YouTube! Most of the lives are grouped together in segments of 5-6 hours, check it out-it’s really good-definitely something to take in while we’ve got a bit more time on our hands for the holidays and the global lockdowns! And at the time we interviewed, the uplifting video dance challenge for 2010 Club Hit Remix ‘Call On Me’ with Joshua Heath was released too! She announced that within a few days that she’d be working on a collaborative music video. Asking folks to contribute their own little videos of new dancing so put together a nice montage of people at home relaxing and dancing around (this is an excellent idea- an all inclusive video) and folks being silly and just letting go. It’s fun to watch!
To sum up this year, she said ‘I’m taking this day-by-day, my kids are healthy-what else can we do? It’s not an easy moment- we’re all trying to get through something that we’ve never seen in our lifetime-I don’t even watch the news more than once a day. It’s too much to process.’
Her daughter entered the room as our talk came to a close and I can’t help but wondering if she’ll get into the industry in the distant future making folks remember again that HOUSE is back and it’s never left! Only time will tell….
The Talk: I bring a closer lens to these women and their brands, what it takes to build, grow, maintain and now in #COVID; pivot. Women have always had to maneuver to succeed-no matter the circumstance.
We’ll discuss the tools, inspirations and resilience required to keep going. (more stuff too….)
Panelists: Anané Vega (@nulumovement), Asya Shein (@fusicology), Czarina Mirani (@5.magazine), Dam Bee (@drumsradio), Jaidene Veda (@jaideneveda_), and Nneka Gryffyn (@aptentertainment)
March 2020 seems like a distant memory while looking back a few seasons. Seasonal changes happen with products-But with more time close to home, varying your beauty regime seems more of a curiosity than a luxury. When I’d head out to pick up toiletries I looked for items on sale, items that had a great fragrance and multi-usage items that are effective enough to replace some of the things I’ve always used. With a tighter budget I bought some items and started doing some of the treatments myself. I’m a little biased because I’ve noticed that I love flowers on everything. I started doing my own microdermabrasion, laser treatments, manis and pedis. My skills have gotten better but nothing like the real thing. It’s gonna be like this for a while- so might as well get used to it!
Here are my top 10 products that have grown on me and love to use:
1.J.R Watkins Body Oil Mist in Grapefruit – I’ve always loved the fresh and clean smell of citrus but grapefruit…..smells like a bright sunny day! The oil is quite dry, free from silicone and mineral oil so it actually hydrates the skin and smells naturally powerful. Its base oils are soy, rosemary and apricot kernel. I use it after the gym and also on my freshly braided hair. This will definitely take you into the winter months and give you that midsummer pick me up! If you’ve read any of my previous beauty articles you’ll know that I love more natural fragrances for everyday use! It retails for about $7.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada.
2. Nuxe Florale Body Oil (Summer Use)– This French made oil is also quite dry but smells more exotic than fruity! It is said to enhance body, face and hair. I use this mainly for fragrance during summer and it’s incredible! It’s dry consistency makes it a longer lasting fragrance. I pour that in plain lotion and voila-it smells better and you are hydrated too! There’s an original version without floral notes.
3.The Ordinary (Niacinamide) – The Ordinary isn’t just all hype. Niacinamide is excellent for oil control (which thankfully I still have)….it’s also great for marks/spots, it reduces the pore size which controls the oil and the face glows. It’s VERY good! This product works well to combat the new maskne issue,it keeps the skin supple and clears it up beautifully you’ll notice the difference in a few short weeks. Use a thin layer so you don’t have the product flaking off as it dries quickly.
4.Sukin Super Greens Facial Moisturizer with (Kale,Spirulina,Parsley,Chlorella) – I discovered Sukin at Marshall’s and Winners about 7-8 years ago in the ‘natural’ skin care aisle. This Australian brand knows how to use their ingredients. Most of the ingredients are organic but the most effective lines they carry are the charcoal based and Super Greens line. It’s pretty inexpensive, it’s on sale almost always at Rexall now and is the only thing that soothes my skin.It gives a healthy glow ALL the time. If you’re a green vegetable and smoothie fan…..what goes inside is also excellent for the outside!
5.Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Daily Therapy Cream – I recently acquired a home IPL hand unit from silk’n.ca before quarantine and now that I’m six months into my own home treatments with the help of many Youtubers-it is recommended to use BHA (Beta Hydroxy Creams – Salicylic Acid) to keep the bumps away! This specific cream is not sold in Canada but can be ordered online! It works well for coarser hair types and works well for ‘strawberry legs’. If you’ve got the strawberry dots you know!
6.Rejuvacote (Nail Growth System) – No more shellac manis once a month like I used to-for years!My last mani was in February. I let my manicure grow off, cut my nails and started using this nail hardener to grow them back to what they were. The hydrolyzed wheat protein, soy and calcium keep the nails strong. They really do grow in 14 days and for ladies with dry nails as a result of the hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing-it works incredibly well! This is $13.95 a little pricier than regular hardeners but it lasts long! You apply every other day to keep the nail coated. Don’t let it flake off unless the layers are thick and can no longer stay on.You’ll have long,strong nails you can file into coffins or ovals easily,I promise.
7.L’Oreal Paris Fine Flowers Cleansing Milk – If you backtrack a few years on this blog, I’ve talked about the double cleanse method (I learnt in Japan) with an oil or a cream. I discovered this really fragrant cleansing milk that I actually replaced my oils and aloe vera cleansing cream. I developed a bit of ‘maskne’ from wearing masks outside when running errands especially during the summer heat. The cleansing milk calms the flare ups without over drying like tea tree oil. This cleansing milk is excellent for getting rid of make-up (even though make up isn’t necessary now -with these protective COVID masks) It soothes the face, and moisturizer isn’t necessary.It has beautiful Jasmine/Rose extracts. This goes on sale often at any drug store, the regular price is about $13.99 but you’ll see it for $8.99
8.Dabur Herbal Neem Toothpaste – I buy this at my local Desi/South Asian Market as a replacement for the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste-because you know,#flouride. This herbal toothpaste does not have it (flouride) and it’s flavoured with Clove Oil (fresh breath),Acacia Arabica (decreases gum inflammation) and Neem extract to strengthen gums. The strengthening of the gums you can actually feel. Some pastes are too sweet or to harsh especially the whitening ones. Consider switching it out completely and alternating both-you won’t regret it!!! This sells at most stores for about $1.99
9.Rose Water – I nixed the witch hazel and micellar water. I believe that flowers are the key!The rose water reduces inflammation, helps heal up the scars, hydrates deep into the skin and just smells soooo good! I use the rose water in a spray bottle to refresh the skin after a workout, as a light perfume, as the water base in my bentonite clay masks instead of plain water and as a daily toner in my routine. You can find the rose water at Rabba’s for $2.50 or at Loblaw’s for $2.50! It’s great! Stock up while you can-it’s always sold out at both places, especially during quarantine/lockdown.
10.Bulgari Omnia (Sapphire) – Sometimes you want to smell real good! Like for special occasions. I like Eau de Parfums/Toilettes with Vanilla base notes. For some reason Bulgari perfumes are not often carried at major department stores and boutiques in Toronto. I used to use the Omnia in the brown and silver spray clutch and it smelled like chocolate. As you know by now……I’m at Shoppers Drug Mart frequently. There’s a side display of perfumes with selected smaller bottles for $19.99! You’ll find all the ‘celebrity’ and higher end perfumes in 25 ml sizes at decent prices.
I know it’s a very challenging time and self-care may seem like a frivolous endeavour. When you’ve taken care of your insides-with meditation, by eating well, a fitness routine and finding your life’s purpose-take time looking for great beauty deals. You can find some excellent products to make your routine as luxurious as possible. Always remember you’re worth it-take care of your soul as well as your outside. Stay well!
Her voice is poignant with a strong and powerful message that speaks to the times we’re currently in. I listened to this song so many times. It’s gorgeous. She channels Sara Vaughn and Erykah Badu can you hear it? She also equally enjoys Ari Lennox and Victoria Monet and Lil’ Wayne. She reaches in from a VERY different angle that not everyone can hear at first listen. I first saw her at The Hustle a late evening showcasing that ran at the Drake Underground for a little while a few years ago.
We met on the West-end before the COVID lockdown of 2020 started and had no idea whether to wear masks or not-but it was like we’d continued where we had left off that night.I met plenty of new folks that night and some old Toronto faves in the crowd that I recognized and with all the folks I saw, I just knew it was gonna be a dope night!
For the record, all the performers that night were amazing and it made me proud to see locals at a series that was so fresh at the time. It was such a proud moment as 20 years prior, I had always wanted to see stuff like this all over the city!
Take Flight slid right into my Spotify Discover Weeklies sometime in February and I wanna add: I really love both my automated music finds as well as the stuff I’ll always pick first…there’s a specific sound and style I like. I’ve been introduced to some really dope artists (through Spotify) and I take more interest in Canadian ones as I love to hear what they’re working with. ‘Take Flight’ is beautiful. The sweetness in her voice makes the message hopeful, full of wonder and discovery.
Ms.Chambers: Writer,Vocalist,Bramptonian,sometimes performing in Toronto,writes her ass off. As always I asked about the process and it’s quite unique.She went from journal entries and reflections with eventually evolving into songs and later feelings…it was never really about writing poetry.For someone like me who notices words-her lyrics sound pretty poetic…
About her latest track Take Flight: How would you (yes reader,you) best describe meeting your true soulmate? Do you know? Are you sure? It feels the way this song sounds. In a world filled with co-dependent lyrics how would you best pick up on lyrics that describe that knowing, that feeling? The elation,the wonder,the peace and the innocence. Listen to this song a few times-once you hear it-if you know, then you’ll know and you’ll appreciate the once in a lifetime experience through this song.
What would you tell artists who are breaking into the scene? In this case brand new like yourself? I’m new right now…..so I’d say keep putting out music. You don’t need to show everyone what you’re doing but it’s great to have a small circle or group of friends that you can present some of your ideas to make sure they’re real ones who’ll give you honest feedback y’know-A small connected circle,start with that. Sign up for different shows in your city. For example I didn’t know about Brampton’s Very Own was being run by Black Women and I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from taking part in local stuff.
What’s 2020 been like for you so far? It’s harder to find stuff at the moment since things have slowed down and I added in ‘especially with the Coronavirus’…….and she added ‘since local is the focus we can’t go NOWHERE,yup.’
I saw the Hustle Academy-what I really liked is that she sang covers and later her own stuff…..How do you feel about doing covers? Erykah Badu is my favourite,I love Neo Soul covers and TLC especially. WE might have shows again…I’ve got the same guitar player so we’ll definitely do something again….She recalls that night very clearly, she sang something by Summer Walker, she also did one of her own pieces Committed Fool and TLC’s decades old classic No Scrubs. She likes a little bit of a mix of old and new sounds……
Is the vibe different out there? Nicole proudly states ‘I was born and raised in Brampton….and as a brand new artist yes, I feel the big difference. When I do shows in Toronto I’m often asked where I live and new fans and supporters are often shocked….and we laughed hard at this……cuz I’ve lived out there for some time…….’there’s ALOT of talent in Brampton and sometimes we forget how many people have lived at one time or are from Brampton and please give it props….she starts listing them (artists) off Roy Woods,Alessia Cara,Jessie Reyez and also Tory Lanez…….
Around that time I had attended a FACTOR event Women and Inspire Toronto Serial Entrepreneur & Sandbox Studio Owner/Creator Kiana ‘Rookz’ Easmond spoke about her experiences in the industry-she talks about very specific topics women face-from image development to being questioned for their talent and building a viable and memorable career. Rookz talked about one of the issues she felt Toronto had which folks not sticking around long enough to watch artists grow. I turned the question over to Nicole.
TRUE or no? Is that a thing Nicole? Not sticking around to grow? There are so many new people dropping material every month and yes nowadays Toronto is a bit of a hit factory. It can be overwhelming for both the artists and fans….it’s important to have female artists all existing together so that vocalists and writers can all somehow collaborate alongside each other-it’s as if she knew Meg and Cardi B were about to drop something almost 6 months later…!
I was so excited to talk about Take Flight-For those who know, the feature rap artist ‘Stretch’ is from Scarborough his tone, his flow and his writing is stellar. She loved working with him and she announced that they’ll continue working together in the future. And about the message she didn’t think many people would make the connect at first and at the moment this meet up was right after Valentine’s Day she’s so sweet too when she says ‘I’m really into love right now…. and I wrote this song for the person I hope to meet .I haven’t met him but I wrote it as if I had met him already’ (the power of manifestation at work there.)
For someone who doesn’t write poetically….she sounds like poetic justice. Listen to the song a few times…..If you’re on any kind of a soul mate journey-you’ll really get this…I’ve noticed that her voice has gotten stronger over the years since HCIF How Could I Forget (look up this song) She’s been doing intense vocal warm ups before shows and daily (as her body is her temple) and it has made a HUGE difference with her vocals. We talked about Reiki healing and it’s helped her voice.
About your future: Where do you wanna take this? I want to travel-Europe, the states, anywhere my music will take me. As for collabs-more local collabs…Stretch is on the list Mole, Zensoul, Junia T (who was nominated for Polaris Prize Shortlist in 2020) She notes that they are amazing people and excellent artists. She’s working on an album and is due this September..she’s aiming for an RnB album/jazz flavour with a Hip Hop flavour – she really loves a wikked drum pattern. Expect something a little experimental…it’ll be fun! I write all my music but I want to have some poetry in it finally so working with MCs will bring that extra piece to my next album…
If you’d like more nuggets of treasure-check out her beautiful and growing discography.
What in the self-quarantined absorbed post is this?(It’s an interesting time) This was a use-for-later-affirmative-self-rebuilding exercise I put together about 4-5 years ago! I picked this up the other day while clearing out papers and pieced together why I assembled them this way. I was meant to pick this up for later.‘FOR LATER’ is actually like,right now!
Quarantine is such an ideal time for this kind of exercise. This exercise is used to ‘remember’ who you are. I picked this up the other day forgetting that I even created it and the point of the photos were to imprint our happiest moments along with what was happening at the time and photos of people that exude the energy that is most often always you! (I didn’t have any #essence magazines at the time I’m sorrrry mannn) 😆I combined my photos with things I’m #grateful for-I have jars of these everywhere as well as post it’s and also awesome things people had written about me during a team building exercise …. I got to know many of these people over the course of a few days and these are some of the most heartfelt things I’ve ever read!
I’m pleased with the little pieces I gathered because over time in toxic environments,toxic persons and traumatic events (like COVID) are riddled with projections and may skew how you see yourself in the world. It’s truly a process to rebuild all that. It’s quite easy to lose those some of parts of yourself……
I welcomed the positive re-inforcements because I felt open-hearted and comfortable around these people and I got to know them in a way that felt REAL.
The point I’m trying to make:you may not be the person you used to be but some of the core elements will never change and if they’re good-don’t lose ‘em. They’re your most valuable assets (not physical btw) Wherever you go and whoever is chanced to meet you…..those traits do stand out. Don’t let anyone/thing change that about you….and if anyone doesn’t know, it’s okay-you know it for YOU. Super special thanks to Sereda at Naturally High Life for setting me up with this exercise-I created it after completing a few of the modules she created on her site and this was the last item I tucked away!
Love Yourself (Wash Your Hands!)
*I never look for external validation BUT I do know what is true about ME…..and that’s pretty valid😎 (Hopefully this downtime helps you realize who you are also!)
I had to pull out an excerpt from our Skype interview almost 3 years ago! So I asked,’You mentioned at the beginning that you’ve been to Toronto once?’ Which he replied ‘Yes. In the Winter. It might have been 2009. Or 2010. I had a great, great night. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was an amazing party! I can’t wait to come back’
Interviewed a few years ago at Toronto music lifestyle blog theshineprjct.com at the cusp of his last album release he talked about his first visit to Toronto and how unique he thought our scene was….he returns next month with theshineprjct.com and Drumsradio UK bringing you local and international selectas together…..can’t be missed!Please read it>>>>> https://bit.ly/2Tpd3fz
It’s 2019….and folks,HE’S BACK! I’d like to add that I’ve had a list of people I wanted to interview for years. He’s one of the DJ/Producers that I didn’t expect to return my requests and he did! It was a thought provoking interview and he’s made some banging hits! It’s Ralf GUM feat. Monique Bingham – Take Me To My Love (Ralf GUM Main Mix) – GOGO 053 – that lead me to speak to him.
With a solid Discography spanning more than a decade he gifts House with new,new album Progressions. He wraps instrumentals around vocals, he handcrafts each note to match the human voice (you definitely hear this with Monique Bingham’s tracks!)
German DJ/Producer and Label head Ralf Gum of GO GO Music re-visits #toronto with a long-planned intimate night of Deep and Soulful House. After 10 years he returns and brings forth his latest album Progressions (2019).
DJ/Producer SIR LSG joins Ralf (Luka ft. Jaidene Veda – Overstanding – Remixed with Anthony Nicholson – 2013) and (Gratitude feat. Melanie Scholtz – 2017) on first Traxsource charted album ‘Moving Circles’.
This year’s Canada Music Week selected country focus was South Africa- just because #CMW2019 is over doesn’t mean the electronic rhythms by way of SA aren’t…..theshineprjct.com held a ‘Tribal to AfroTech’ panel with guests Nick Holder and Ralf Gum this past May; to shed a little light on the Canadian and South African #djculture collaboration. Part Deux will be exciting!
These blog-to-live events are the first 2 of a series of #inspiredevents created by Owner/Creator Shanay Egwuenu with her PR/Digital Marketing agency urbcomgrp.com.
With a few years under her belt as a Digital and PR Marketer- I continue to mix my love of blogging,social media and organic promotion with Underground Music. I aim to deliver a fresh perspective on traditional media. Stay tuned for more!
Arrive early, Come as you are, We are Global, It’s #aboutthemusic
Meet the two women partially responsible for the next wave of women music executives in Toronto: Yvette Angela and Deneita Evans
From what I understand UNCDTNL Collective are women of colour executives mentoring women of colour?
UNCDTNL Collective is a
company that specializes in project management that support underrepresented
individuals and groups. It is this specific program where we’ve created a
At what point did you decide to connect and collaborate?
We met in 2017 during our volunteer run at Yonge-Dundas, where we were handing out flyers for that years’ Manifesto. We just clicked and from working with each other and learning about our love for music, putting on shows, and what we felt was missing from Toronto at that time. We started talking and a little bit later, UNCDTNL was on its way.
What are some of the things about hip hop and R&B that becomes a little more challenging (aside from event production and talent buying.)
Curating hip hop and r&b shows in spaces where they aren’t welcome. Toronto loves the aesthetic of hip hop but doesn’t want live performers. It’s challenging to find the space where we are not only welcomed but embraced, not policed.
For Yvette and Denieta: What makes a great event from start to finish
D: I’d say
the most difficult thing about planning an event would be keeping organization
the whole way through, to make sure we’re not skipping a beat and we’re covering
all our bases. Especially when it’s a decent sized group taking on a huge
event. Also, being prepared when things randomly change and you now have to
quickly find solutions.
Y: For me, it’s the lack of resources. Sometimes we will have a vision and it might be hard or close to possible to execute. So we either need to find/create the sources. We usually work with what we got until we can get what need and want. But it’s a huge hurdle to overcome, but we always do and we end up with more than we hoped.
What do both of you feel about carving your own path vs. following the industry standard? (What are some of the things that you feel have to be followed or blazed “blazing your own path”-Explain front and back of house?
We believe every path is
different, we don’t think there is any industry standard. There’s space for
everyone, you just need the passion and persistence to get there. The only
thing in common with us, our mentors, mentees, colleagues is that we are all
went for what we wanted. Sometimes that means volunteering internships,
attending networking events – just putting yourself out there, working hard and
you’ll see the fruits of your labour.
What you want to say to the next gen music entertainment women of colour executives in Canada?
Persistence, patience and passion is all you need. Sometimes it seems as though your goal will never get accomplished but it’s not true – it’s coming. But it only happens with hard work, be the best worker at every job that you do. Research and know your craft, and always be open to learning more.
What kind of events do you want to create in the future? Any company,client,group,biz,artists?
We are working on another volume of our show ‘Sunshine’, we plan on making some changes and doing it even better than our first one. We are planning on getting involved with more festivals in the country (such as Pop Montreal, VELD or NXNE) and also we want to continue to provide resources to those who don’t know where to go. We also are going to delve into art, Deneita is a huge art fan so that is in the works – to represent local visual artists.
How can people stay up-to-date with UNCDTNL?INSTAGRAM: @uncdtnl
CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK:
Ebhoni, Witch Prophet and Sydanie.
A few minutes before I arrive at a Downtown Café last Fall, she
sends a quick text identifying herself as the one with the big curly hair!
Walked up to the glass doors and yes, she had the massive hair and the warmest
bubbly smile. We just dived right in! Cleo Ellis, one half of LUXELIFE SOUND
broke down for me how the business came about, and like most of the
conversations I’ve had with shineprjct interviewees, it was soooo organic!!!!
With the strong ongoing 2018 theme of women-lifting-women up
and the pride I can hear in her voice, this story is definitely a huge accomplishment. She
didn’t expect it to take the direction it did ‘it kinda just happened’ Ellis
Originally from Edmonton, she moved to Toronto from Vancouver in 2014 to pursue her Masters Degree in Professional Communication and almost immediately started a volunteer position with Canadian PR Powerhouse Natasha Koifman of (NKPR) during their TIFF IT Lounge. That was also how she met her now business partner, DJ Lissa Monet — and unbeknownst to them both, that was the beginning of Toronto’s first all-female boutique DJ booking agency — LUXELIFE SOUND. JUST.LIKE.THAT.
Anyone following Monet on Twitter will notice that she drops needles of wisdom navigating the industry as a tenured DJ and as a woman. She’s one of Toronto’s most well known DJs and has pioneered the way for a host of other DJs in the city, particularly female DJs.
Even further ‘Our DJs are more than just a playlist. They actually have the skill needed to live-spin to the needs of the crowd’. LUXELIFE SOUND’s goal is to set a luxury standard of service for their clients, but also to ensure each and every DJ on their roster is paid their worth and treated fairly — the DJ industry, particularly in the club sector is notorious for these issues. Cleo takes the time to educate each client on the expectations of hiring a DJ, while making the process seamless and simple on both ends. . One of the most engaging parts of our exchange was her communal ideology. ‘In our world, everyone gets a bag and everyone shines’ (Yeah, baby EVERYONE).
For years she was on the club circuit and transitioned to corporate events , all
while keeping a keen eye on other up and coming
lady DJs in the space. Many of whom
I’ve seen and heard at various events all over the city. The grouping of
what is now LUXELIFE’S roster includes a
few definitive selectas from all over Canada. Cleo explains ‘we lucked out in
that every DJ on the roster is so different; if the client requires a certain
style, WE DELIVER and that is our strength’
Although business is flowing in from all over Canada they are
not yet ready to expand nationwide but would like to continue reaching clients
from coast-to-coast. “One day we hope to replicate this model on a larger scale
in other cities, and maybe even expand to the US — but slow and steady wins
the race. We want to be able to have the infrastructure to support a move like
If you’re looking for more LUXELIFE SOUND has a dope SoundCloud
channel right now. Keep your ears open
for the ladies at the next private party, it might be yours! Wishing LUXELIFE
SOUND amazing success in 2019!
As of October 17, 2018 Canada is one of the first countries in the world to legalize non-medical pot at the federal level. That day put Canada on the map as being the first G7 country in the world to legalize non-medical pot federally.
After walking around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on both days during the Expo, I was surrounded by anything BUT a bunch of smokers (they weren’t allowed in the building anyway!) I was introduced to topics surrounding Cannabis use as related to medicare, food, body pain and CBD oil based products for pets and beauty! All panel discussions talked candidly about how to normalize public engagement and all leaders within the industry spoke on their perspectives.
One of the first questions I asked was…..Soooo what about Jamaica? One of the major questions I asked Lift and Co’s CMO about the country with the strongest advocacy for cannabis’ medicinal and health benefits (for many generations.) An official announcement was released late May 2018 after theshineprjct.com’s interview confirming that Jamaica will be the sole exporter of Marijuana to Canada.
As of May 27 of this year, JMCC has just announced agreements to provide medical cannabis to Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada’s approval. JMCC operates a collective in Jamaica that is owned 51% by local farmers and 49% by JMCC Canada.(Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective)
CEO Diane Scott and Jamaican Minister for Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Andrew Wheatley gave a joint presentation entitled “When Countries Collaborate” on the final days at the LIFT Conference shedding some light on this decision.
Other things to note:
JMCC is well on track to produce volumes equivalent to the large Canadian producers.
JMCC is already under contract to provide Jamaican cannabis to three Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada approval.
It has signed a three-way supply agreement with a developer of cutting-edge medical and health cannabis products, and an LP that remains confidential.
It has received signed letters of intent to purchase from another seven LPs, and is in discussions with another half-dozen in Canada and Europe.
The Jamaican government is focusing on Canada as a major market for its legal medical cannabis and has been very supportive of the industry. Furthermore, it fully supports JMCC.
Folks,meet Kerri-Lynn McAllister (Chief Marketing Officer, Lift & Co) She describes the trepidation she had after being vetted by Lift and Co as their now Chief Marketing Officer! ‘I was head hunted from a tech space. I wasn’t too keen on working in the weed business at first but once I saw it’s potential and investigated some more-I found my role was exciting. IT was an opportunity to shape an industry’.
How has the discussion about Cannabis changed since she joined Lift and Co? In six months she reports that plenty of people want to come out of the woodwork to talk about stocks/investments or how it’s helped them or family members. She was not aware of the discussions people were having prior to joining the organization. So it’s been interesting to see who was or wasn’t interested in the topic. It also shows that there is still some hesitancy to discuss topics on how to change public perception.
Do you see a difference in the getting this together-organizing it, running it? The size and scale in Vancouver is smaller but the vibe is incredible. Our events team is on the ball and have created an amazing event. Vancouver was a little more challenging to set up the event. There’s only one venue. January is the only time we were offered and January isn’t the best time for an Expo but we still have very successful attendance. From the dispensary perspective and the prevalence of cannabis businesses in the recreational market it seems Vancouver is more progressive but Toronto is way more open.
This year’s expo seems heavily focused on every avenue of the cannabis industry-it seems as though there’s an opportunity everywhere where does it start? End? Many insulary services and external products for women and particularly exciting beauty products. She noticed that Sephora was starting to carry CBD products. It’s a huge market. Food, Machinery,Textiles is all here. We don’t allow you to sell anything while exhibiting. Everything has to be above-board. We welcome various segments of the industry. We feel that there are so many auxiliary products that can serve the industry. The real focus at this Expo are the licensed producers and the niche companies.
Canada as the Cannabis leader: Setting World standards How? So the Netherlands now gets mentioned for the first time in the whole discussion. Cannabis isn’t legal there but the by-law is re-translated to include all substances. So Canada would be the first country behind Uruguay to legalize it. And second, the first UN country to legalize it for recreational use at the Federal level. Canada is also considered a pioneer of medical cannabis use. Germany and Australia are nations observing Canada’s process in order to monitor recreational use over there!
A thought: As Canada is attempting to build a profitable Cannabis industry,one would hope that foundations like Lift and Co could join in the fight to remove charges and laws protecting those accusedof profiting from Cannabis illegally. McAllister agrees that it’s not fair. We both agreed that it is a topic to be re-visited once details are ironed out from the retail point of view. Many aren’t talking about how to connect lawmakers and big businesses about deep changes that must be made to criminal legislation at a local and federal level. No organizations have come forward to discuss…..So many issues that were called into question spur a whole new set of questions. What does it look like for other provinces? What does it look like internationally? How will the cannabis industry look come October 2019?
Am I staunch Cannabis supporter? Yes and No
Do I recommend it to minors? NOPE.
Do I recommend it to treat ailments and diseases that pharmaceuticals should not be treating? Yes!
Personally, I have vastly changed my opinion on the matter. After seeing my best friend’s Mom fight the battle of her life for almost five years with vicious stage three abdominal/cervical cancer. Seeing one of the strongest women I know lose weight and strength…..I was alarmed with how much medication was administered to her. Her condition, her overall body pain and deteriorating health after each aggressive chemotherapy session was heartbreaking. THC and Cannabis oils were not considered an option so late in her treatment but I do often think about how much it might have alleviated her pain.
Marketing Cannabis: Challenges and Opportunities
Although there were many restrictions imposed on marijuana industries on how information should be disseminated it didn’t dampen many companies/brands from reaching the public. All organizations ran into snags but found very specific techniques wildly successful. By employing savvier techniques to promote higher distribution of info and less visible imagery (lending more to the pothead stereotype), it’s made them more advanced than other industries which is one of the most difficult images to shake-off; especially in society or groups that still see weed that way. (As a drug)
In many cases it seems like a generational roadblock combined with a competitive push (to compete) with massive pharmaceutical brands.
What happens when all standard pharmaceutical cocktails fail terminally ill patients and/or chronic pain survivors? See Pain Warriors Movie
In many cases pharma drugs are overwhelming to the system. Hurdles to overcome post-operative and/or incurable pain- includes insufficient funding, unwillingness to collaborate with Marijuana organizations from tactics like stonewalling, to the rejection of advertising and/or co-collaboration, lack of legal support, limited staff, little or no funding for startups, no bookkeeping and/or accounting services, restraints on public (social media) platforms about what can/can’t be mentioned (wording) online. The list goes on……
So where does that leave a rapidly growing and slightly forbidden industry in 2019?
One of the key answers to this ‘blazing’ question: Find the organizations that will. Cannabis organizations are savvier, they find the best in their respective lanes/industries and the right UN-biased yet open-minded companies who would like to grow with the industry. Find the companies courageous enough to overlook the stigma and see how far the movement can go. (The movement has gone so far that legislation has currently been approved at the House of Commons, and awaiting final approval) McAllister strongly suggests ‘If you’re paying attention to the space and you’re a professional services business-you’re ignoring Cannabis to your own detriment. You’re letting your political views get in the way of growing business’. (Are you?)
How Does The Growing Industry Work Around The Social Stigma? These are some VERY excellent marketing and promotional take-aways that have worked well for the industry.
In short-harmless but necessary features such as clean & clear, unbiased branding, well-emphasized key mission statements (CULTURE, HEALTH/WELLNESS and COMMUNITY for example) emblazoned all over venues and promotional material (and actively creating those environments for the public to focus on.
Tactile and sensory marketing to convert socially doubtful and biased (opinion) to genuinely embrace items containing secondary marijuana products with an openness that might not have been possible 10 years ago. i.e. taste,test,smell
Many online platforms (Twitter, FB, IG) have rules and regulations for promoting ‘illegal substances’ online. Certain photos, commentary and suggestive language cannot be used. Marijuana businesses often align themselves in terms of community-building, health/wellness/awareness and/or industry building. All cannabis industries ran into snags but found very specific techniques to achieve success. By employing savvier techniques (strong digital and traditional marketing) was used to promote usage and/or distribution; it’s made this sector more advanced and in many cases they have more of an advantage because they’ve created a stronger movement like what we’re seeing now. Aurora Cannabis has done a fine example of clearing away the ‘pothead’ image-which is one of the most difficult images to erase pre-legalization. i.e. Collaboration with NXNE
What are some of the opinions for and against Marijuana?
Seems to fall into 3 camps:
Post-operative terminal illness survivors who try to live day-to-day while searching for holistic topical methods to combat pain. In most cases Dr. prescribed pharmaceuticals numb pain and makes all tasks slightly bearable. (On the fence.)
Those who do not tolerate use as an alternative choice under any circumstances (Is that societal, cultural, generational, institutional?)
And those who use it recreationally and accept it.
In Ontario a private retail model is set to go public April 1st this year-What this means for Ontarians is that recreational marijuana is currently sold online for recreational use and will be sold by licensed re-sellers to the public. Will this make business better? Will it change the way other countries and societies at-large view Cannabis? Only time will tell.
With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.
At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’
On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’
What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.
I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol
We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’
About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.
Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.
Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.
How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.
Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉
DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..
It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.
She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!)
Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’
It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!
Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.
About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.
For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.
Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me. In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.
She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.
I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……
Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read.
Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop
What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?) I shared with Heather recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at Resident Advisor and it then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.
Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!
Are you a Snowbird or do you travel all year round for business? Are you switching climates or checking off your bucket list? Where are you headed? What do you need? How do you prepare for flights/trips? I’ve had a few things happen during trips and in some cases had to work around them here a few tips with bonus:
Mail photocopies or digital versions of passport, birth certificates , frequent flyer cards or citizenship particulars. If/when those things go missing-if you’re able to get to an Embassy everything needed to travel can be replaced fast.
Book your seat as soon as you book you ticket-most international flights and air carrier seats are gone right away-as fees have gone up on everything and most things that never used to be charged are now charged (emergency seating is now classified as extra-leg room seating) and can cost anywhere from $20-$100 more
If you do have first aid training or emergency anything training-if you’re comfortable consider sitting at the emergency section. There are so many that panic during turbulence and may not remain calm during a REAL emergency-jus sayin’ (Ex-airline trainee over here!)
Stay hydrated outside and inside (you’ll feel amazing once you land, no matter how long the flight is/was.) An Evian water atomizer or spring/distilled in a mini spray bottle is just fine
Depending how far you go, stand-by is always a great option (Jet Blue’s stand-bys are cheap and organized)
Save foreign currencies in jars so you can see what you have-you may not be headed to the same country again but you might be passing through a country’s airport and can use whatever bills and coins you have-it comes in handy and you don’t need to exchange any currency for a short stopover!
Find the coldest place in your house when you return-leave your luggage there-let critters and bed bugs die. If it’s Winter where you are (even better) the garage. It is said that bed bugs and critters live in hotels in big cities and you may bring them back with you…..
Get an effective mobile roaming package for your mobile-not all countries have the best wi-fi connections (if any). If your phone provider does not have a great one at least get one for free unlimited or broad text messaging. If that’s entirely not possible get an international SIM card with a local phone number i.e. Vodafone is an excellent company that operates in most cities worldwide.
After I’ve used most of my travel sized products during my trip-I buy travel size products to re-fill my travel bag again from the country I’m in so it’s ready in my suitcase for the next trip. Don’t need to pack that again!
If I plan on shopping and I’m staying in a country for a longer period of time and I know that I’ve used a small suitcase and I don’t want to carry anything around with me, I mail heavier items (via local post office) to my address. It usually arrives within days of arriving home and I’m still able to walk with a lighter load.
Bonus: Not all airlines have the same (flight) track record. Ask your travel agent to look up and research airlines that might not be well-known but have a flexible schedule and affordable price! I’ve generally always used Air Canada but there are other air carriers going to the same countries and leave more frequently, fly to other metropolitan cities in your designated country of choice and a few hundred dollars cheaper!
There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to ensure an easier flight or travel experience. Is there anything YOU do to make the journey easier,cheaper or more organized? Please share! Safe travels 🙂
A full week of non-stop music, panel discussions and mentorship all here in the T-Dot! This has to be one of the largest Music Week’s held in Canada this year! The official program guide was jam-packed with dozens of events hourly (Held at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and all over the city.)
Jointly presented by San Rafael and Amsterdam Brewery-I don’t even know WHERE to begin-this Canadian Music Week was PACKED with current information; From the Mentors’ Cafe to the panels, to industry organization exhibitors (SOCAN, MROC,FACTOR)
It was refreshing to see all the various organizations that work behind the scenes to assist artists in bringing forth new-ish ways of tackling the good ole industry…..
Their app was quite good! I loved the high touch accessibility of the app and it was much easier to navigate than look through the program and section it off with post-its like I did in the past…..or maybe I like apps. My favourite was the scheduling tool! You know where to be and at what time……
With the app I found Blockchain Music:Set It and Forget It,You’re Getting Paid it’s been a hot topic for a minute and this was a conversation circulation at ADE2017! Panelists (Dino Celotti,Jason Robert,Jesse Grushack,Ritesh Patel and Steven Masur) all part of the Music Production and Indie Label industries,collectively explained Blockchain and how it benefits the artists and the cascading industry as a whole. It’s great to see that many panels across the board had a heavy focus on the future of the industry with all the new talent and new technology. It’s interesting to see how they’ll connect and grow to make things a little more efficient (especially for the artist.)
My takeaway from this presentation: Blockchain could work if implemented correctly by making sure who gets paid at what point in the process of the file sharing process-and that this is a huge task and a bit of a lengthy process.
Lemme re-iterate here: The idea of being able to move assets between artists or from business to business in a seamless process, can make distribution simpler. With Blockchain promotion is still primary and editing and recordings can’t be remixed or altered. Blockchain is great for tracking transactions and artists still maintains rights to their music.
I ventured over to the SOCAN,!eDDS and travel booths-What’s travel got to do with it? Hundreds of people came through all week (May 7-13, 2018) especially very specific cities all over the U.S. and Canada. What makes this so important is that the cities closest to us all play a role in boosting the travel,tourism and music industries!
Part of the infrastructure built around the music industry depends not only on the talent, businesses and establishments but it may partially coincide on the neighbouring cities closest to us.
Discover America located in Mississauga,Ontario in conjunction with city states nearby- ‘promotes U.S. Travel and Tourism to Canadians in Canada. They offer ‘a variety of initiatives that connect travel and tourism stakeholders on both sides of the border’
Hotels, travel agents and Motor Coach Airlines are members of this organization.
I spoke to Dream America Canadian representative and Montreal native Pedro Barbosa who delved a little more into the topic of music festival tourism and the mandate in place for the cities involved in boosting their travel and tourism initiatives for any of the music festival seasons. Barbosa mentioned that ‘most of these places present today have routes covered by Air Canada or Porter Airlines-so there’s the routes that bring Canadians and Americans from all over the country, it gets the word out across the country and it’s kind of like a trade and exchange…..some of the places exhibiting here at #CMW2018 are even closer to Montreal than Toronto is’.
We talked about the benefits of visiting cities that have broad musical varieties. He’s big into Jazz and Metal but some city scenes he feels ‘are much smaller and there appears to be less of a fan base even when the scene is popular in that city.’
Barbosa did mention though that ‘when it comes to niche [music] markets, it’s the markets themselves that don’t always reach tourist outlets. Tourism boards tend to focus on specific genres and in order for Tourism Boards to present music venues,events and seasonal programs in their plans and more liaisons can be formed in the future to promote all music across the board.
All representatives for each city/state were highly informative and provided tons of info on the vibrant nightlife for each of these cities. Surprisingly,Portland has a very vibrant Underground House scene and Choose Chicago (sister city to Toronto,) representative spoke in detail about Chicago’s House and Underground scenes…..it’s looks like a coincidence that just a few days ago it was announced that there would be a lunch hour dance party at Daley Plaza! (Yaassss Chicago!)
Portland – The cities represented at this year’s CMW all had one thing in common: thousands of Canadians commute from all over Canada to all these places-each booth was set to highlight their musical influences,entertainment and nightlife. I spoke to Director of Content Strategy Karen Martwick about Portland’s offerings and was presented with information about Craft Beer, Independent Design both Interior and Graphic by Independent Artists. The other booths held tons of information for Canadians on: Myrtle Beach, NC (undergoing major reconstruction), Georgia (Explore Georgia-Macon/Decatur and other historic sites.) And finally Austin,Texas. I look forward to delving into their Underground scenes in the future!
!Earshot for Indie Artists !Earshot Digital Distribution (!eDDS) really stood out among all the booths because of its slant on music distribution.Partially funded by the NCRA (National Campus & Community Radio Association) It’s an online platform that is designed to get music from the Canadian music industry to the Canadian College campus and community radio sector.) With so many platforms internationally available in 2018 it’s easy to overlook a distribution system like this. Canadian College and University radio is still a powerful method to chart Canadian music and with Canadian Pride at it’s all time high over the last few years, I think this is an essential resource alongside all other local and global platforms. Over 90 stations are on this roster in May 2018.
NCRA – Ottawa
Independent artists will be able to fully access this database this September. The cost is $7 per song and $50 per album! College Campus radio is still one of the most powerful outlets for pushing new and local music. The list will grow by September especially after Canadian Music Week-check out the details here: I highly recommend any new or existing artists getting their feet wet and/or would like to do a little more national radio promo…..Tap into this resource as a starter or accompanying promotional tool.This is exciting!
Late Night Delights
What I missed: the Drake Underground with Amber Mark (her vocals possess Rihanna’s abruptness and Sade’s familiar sounding velvety Contralto. Live Nation artist tickets were sold out right away-no luck in May, I’m sure she’ll be visiting Toronto again!
What was recommended: Taiwan Beats (ABAO) Aljenljeng, JADE EYES and Dizparity
What I enjoyed: Ottawa MC @draemusic. He closed out for two of T.O.s hottest crooners: Tika and Sophia Danai! That night was electrifying (TIKA, HMLT,Sophia Danai and BAYLA.) Drae laid some strong lyrics with a very. live. band. I’m lovin’ the live band and MC sound all over again!
25 years in the making and it shows! I was looking at where to visit and I chose the Netherlands (Amsterdam Dance Event) mostly because of their emphasis on technology. Amsterdam has been known to be forward thinking and many steps ahead in the way they run their society among other things…….Amsterdam Dance Event describes itself as ‘the leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres’.
I absolutely admired ADE’s strong support for all genres. They welcome all sorts of DJ culture-regardless of colour, gender and preference.What I loved the most is the way the city embraced #ADE2017 & all the artists,press,delegates that were participating! There were posters,stickers and promo EVERYWHERE!
I personally loved this scene so much and in several days I took in some DNB, Classic,Deep, Tech and Afro House-it was all-inclusive. It was crazy fun! I met all kinds of people-all music enthusiasts from all over the world in town for ONE thing: music! I met some of the same people at many events. Some enthusiasts from Belgium asked me where I was headed because they were so used to checking out the same artists everywhere.
I truly wished I had gone a few years prior. I can’t wait until they expand even more. Jokes aside with memes depicting festival burnout, after the 6 hour flight from Toronto to Schipol Airport it was not tiring at first…… but after 48 hours………with all the excitement and party line-up-I crashed!
I was floored by the holistic/health and wellness shops on every corner-shops all over the city carrying products I still have to order online lol! From sprinkles on buttered toast and fresh fruit and smoothies on Albert Cuyp Straat……the contrast was so refreshing. Everything was within walking distance-once you get the subway/streetcar line down pat-you can get anywhere within minutes. A sleek UBER from Schipol Airport takes you to the main city in a 15 min car ride!
The drivers, airport staff and city all expectedly ask you if you’re there for ADE and they have tons of information at their fingertips to help you navigate the city! (LOVE IT!) October is a bit chilly so bundle up with layers and your favourite walking shoes!
DRUGS and ADE! Everyone is aware ADE exists here and speak highly of the event. All drugs are tested before they are brought into venues to avoid injury and/or death! I highly respect this approach because Dance is often intertwined with hard drugs and this is a primary method to eradicate the misconception behind it.Total props!!!!!
They push for body positive health awareness. I praise their drug education and push for ‘healthier’ usage instead of the ‘war on drugs’.
As drugs are often synonymous with club culture they do encourage safe usage and responsibility for fellow party-goers. It’s impressive.
All aspects of the scene are considered, and openly discussed. Room is made available to talk about the future of the industry. Panel discussions covering technology from equipment- to vinyl’s revival all had a space to showcase,teach and exchange ideas. ADE University teamed up with labels to discuss how they can improve websites, apps and ticket sales to boost revenue and allocate funds in an organized fashion.
I’m not sure if it’s organization is a Dutch thing or that it’s 25 years in the making, but whatever they are doing is beyond music for music’s sake.
I did find their app a little complicated to maneuver and also found it hard to navigate some of the workshops and networking locations around the city. However, all the flags and physical landmarks labelled everywhere made up for the app. I really wanted to attend more events but there are so many programs happening at the same time and back to back that by week’s end-I knew I’d be coming back! All these years I’d only stopped over at Schipol Airport and was finally able to visit and was so grateful for!
The highlights of the week were the Detroit Love Party (Mirko Loko,Waajeed,Carl Craig,Kenny Larkin,Stacey Pullen,Kevin Saunderson and Moodyman) EPIC partay.
One of the final night parties at Paradiso (Louie Vega, Joey Negro, Francois K,Space Dimension Controller,Prins Thomas,Amine K,Beesmunt Soundsystem,Jan van Kampen) was memorable!
Honourable mentions go to the guys over at Cuisine 020 (Bar Karakter)-DJ Migosy (Offering Recordings), DJ Andrew Foley (Deep Rooted Soul), and AMW Gill Charleston-it was a tight-knit LIVE joint! Had a great time! I’m sure by October this year………
Go to the Amsterdam Dance Event, check out as many genres as you can……
Take naps in between events-you’ll wake up refreshed for your next workshop
Go to the artist panels/talks (they are so informative and inspirational)
Check out the good eats (so many amazing restaurants-if the locals are in it- it’s the shit!)
Buy some records, take in new music say hello to your fave and upcoming DJs (the environment is so chill out there!)
Club Hop, there are so MANY amazing events, all on the same night, check out all of them!
Purchase tickets in advance from home (they sell out FAST-months in advance), make sure you can actually attend all the events once you arrive!
Check out the Heineken Museum
Go to a local Coffee House and meet some interesting people, try out the green (if you feel like it!) It feels fabulous to be at a place where there are no issues with green treats-you’ll find many,many,many strains and flavoured paper 🙂
Don’t forget to browse in as many weed shops as you can-Many of the shops get most of their best strains from Canada (betcha didn’t know that!) *wink,wink
Link up with people who you’ll be able to work with later on-you just never know!!!!
When weather changes, life conditions and circumstances change our bodies respond and react. For me, Ayurveda serves as a maintenance and management tool. With a Canadian climate Ayurveda is a very useful tool for weight management, skin maintenance and overall body health and wellness.
While in Japan for example, I found it very humid, so humid that I had (heat rash) that just appeared the first few months of moving there. I’d never experienced rashes in Canada and I didn’t know what to do. I immediately consulted my book: Absolute Beauty by author and Ayurveda Practitioner Pratima Raichur. One of the first things to look at before using anything is to do the quiz and discover what your body is doing right now! The quiz helps you to understand where your body is imbalanced and it is often not the symptom that shows up on the surface-it’s a series of symptoms that create one reaction or illness.
You’re usually asked to complete a quiz that asks about skin and shows you the kinds of foods you’re eating, the foods that are aggravating or causing your symptoms and what you’re doing daily. Ayurveda gets you to tap into your life in detail by figuring what your body needs to heal or recover from its dis-ease. More than likely the foods that we all love the most are the ones that should be eaten in moderation or avoided completely.
I visited Dr. Sonal Bhatt for the first time 11 years ago. She’s one of the best Ayurveda practitioners in Toronto with a vast knowledge in Western Medicine as well! I had visited my family Dr. a few times and he wrote my skin eruptions off as a temporary skin flare up and gave me a series of harsh antibiotics. Without analyzing my symptoms too much,the first thing she did was look at my finger nails,the whites of my eyes,my lips,my hair strands and she pulled my skin to check for elasticity and hydration.
I love avocados, bananas and olives all of which I should not be eating. However I can tolerate these foods prepared with other fruits vegetables and spices! I also love peanuts and cookies (those of which I really have tried to scale back.)
She asked me to go into my Dr’s office and request lab tests asking for nutrient levels,antibodies,hormones,iron levels and hemoglobin. I returned with the results and her diagnoses was even more accurate than the test results. She sent me to get the test results so she would not administer ‘natural medicines and herbs’ that were too dangerous or would cause adverse effects.
She recommended I find a colon hydrotherapist (who I’ve recommended to many over the years) once I started ‘cleansing’ my system with all the herbs. I found a very experienced and knowledgeable colon hydrotherapist (Karryn Arato) owner of (West Toronto Wellness Centre) on Bloor St. W. She’s one of the most youthful and healthy persons I’ve ever met!!!!!! Between both of them I used to travel back and forth to check for progress, and to receive more herbs and concoctions.
Dr. Bhatt gave me all kinds of hand-prepared pills and capsules made with all kinds of herbs (usually bitter) to be taken with every meal or a few times a week with VERY specific instructions. Once those customized preparations are made it’s usually enough to last 3 months or more and the most incredible thing is that I see her very early on before said symptoms are severe-usually the issue disappears within a few weeks!
Because Ayurveda, like most Native medical treatments, works with the body’s earth elements, symptoms are described in accordance to senses. Ingredients are used to diminish or balance overactive reactions within and outside the body. So for example: If the skin has acne breakouts and is maybe red and inflamed that’s considered heat, so a cooling food like cucumbers or Papaya are applied to the skin with Turmeric and honey (a natural anti-inflammatory)…..Get it?
I spent about a month mixing honey, turmeric and mashed Papaya all over my face and the eruption disappeared in about 10 days!
Many of us don’t pay attention to what our bodies are saying until the ‘disease’ appears. Ayurveda focuses on self-healing, prevention and maintenance. Author and Ayurveda Practitioner Pratima Raichur even has recipes with all natural cooking ingredients-some you might have to look for (in Brampton.)
With the quizzes online or in any of most informational books you’re able to see what your body does normally, what it’s doing abnormally and what it needs to achieve balance. Pre-mixed and measured face oils, face scrubs,teas and tinctures all need to be rationed, refrigerated or kept in dark bottles to prepare. Once you understand what the item is supposed to look like, how it’s supposed to smell and the expiration of the concoction-it’s easier to make the batches every few weeks!
Processed foods, fast foods,canned foods and chemically engineered foods can aggravate other times the body only shows symptoms at a chronic/critical stage. Which is why it’s important like any other medicine to finish it all and take at the recommended time!
Every season-I check the quiz, look at my symptoms/reactions and do a 30 day fast. It’s only required to do 9 but I find that the fast/cleanse doesn’t feel too extreme if it’s stretched out for a longer period of time. I do it this way to prepare my system for the next season or after a major change like a trip/flight or back to back partying OR stressful times and situations.
If I’ve eaten badly/poorly and had a fair amount of alcohol-the fast/detox/cleanse is more intense and will run for a longer period of time.
This detox is mainly an elimination of low vibrational foods and more nutrient rich ones which correct any bothersome symptoms such as gas, constipation, extreme sweating, body odor, bad breath, indigestion,weight gain, skin eruptions, joint pain or persistent colds and flus. (I haven’t had any of those symptoms in sooooo long.)
Living or travelling to another country for the first time was a huge change for me health wise. When I returned to North America I needed to overhaul my diet. It was really hard to eat foods I wasn’t used to. I developed allergies to foods I previously enjoyed. I used the little knowledge I had of Ayurveda back them to balance EVERYTHING.
Creating balance means eating a particular way to balance your body’s constitution. You may be required to also fast anywhere from 9-40 days or more! (With very specific foods of course.) After that a Pancha Karma (or five treatments) is needed to remove all the waste accumulated and ready to be dumped out. It involves colon cleansing, intense massage with steam/heat/herbs and induced vomiting. It’s a long process but the results are long lasting. It’s an amazing feeling afterwards-you feel lighter,cleaner,gut not as bloated and energy levels are sky-high. Countries with seasonal changes are places where it might be a better idea to fast and/or cleanse for clarity!
I found Ayurvedic practitioner (Sonal Bhatt) on Dupont St. She now has a new location on Lawrence Ave. in Toronto. She’s one of the best in the city, along with her assistance-she offered me an in-depth quiz and analysis which helped my established body constitution (Kapha) and she ordered a few lab tests and we found out with those results that I was deficient in every vitamin.
Iron, B12, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin E and many more. I took them separately instead of a bottled multi vitamin (too many fillers.) She recommended that I isolate the supplements to recover from deficiencies more quickly. She gave me tons of herbal supplements made from hand-picked herbs and I took them for about 3 months and felt brand new!
I incorporated dietary changes into my daily routine. That was 10 years ago.
I recently went to see her again last year! As your body is constantly changing with age,jobs, life schedules and dietary changes-the old instructions she gave me were no longer required. I kept the previous instructions-I know what to do when something gets off track. (If I’m out and not eating or drinking what you’re having I’m not boujee I just can’t eat it-I really don’t feel great eating certain foods-I always try to find what alternatives work best!) One of the things I use to balance my combination/oily and sometimes overactive skin is all the oils inside and out. (Evening Primrose on a 15-day rotation, Cod Liver and Flax.) Within a few days EVERYTHING balances out-not to mention my skin looks great! Toronto water can be a little harsh, these oils protect everything from hair to nails to skin!
So here she’s marked off foods I can/can’t eat under Kapha Dosha…..
Most wheat based foods I shouldn’t be eating…
An herbal tea every morning-it works!
I was sometimes eating take out foods and foods that caused inflammation in my system from canola or soy oil used to prepare items so I tried to stay off of cooked foods for a while and it worked. I followed some of her guidelines for at least 3 months and all the symptoms ceased. The treatments were and still are very effective! Visiting my Ayurvedic practitioner maybe 4 times in a decade means the results and advantages are PRETTY good! I usually don’t see my Doctor except for my routine annual check-up or an ear or eye exam.
So many household brands are embracing the Ayurvedic concept. What’s great is that companies making that subtle shift also make it easier for us to incorporate balancing practices and nutritional fasting into our busy schedules. As commercial brands evolve as they also dis-spell the myth that eating well and healthy is expensive or impossible.
I still consult a few Ayurvedic and other holistic books here and there for more understanding about ways I can change my meals and balance my skin and digestion. One of them is Queen Afua’s: Heal Thyself This is just one pathway to healthier living/eating.And yes, it’s a persoanl choice. There are many out there that’ll work better for you! We’re in month two of 2018-here’s to a cleaner lifestyle!
Even though corporations have vast collaborations with food banks to donate food on a grand scale and they are in every position to do what we can’t do financially; it’s people like you and I that add a personal touch to giving.
There are many things you can do as an individual to stay grounded. Staying grounded is something you should do regularly to remind yourself who you are, where you could be and what you want life look like internally. A great way to live your life is one where you’re giving of your time, efforts and hands to those in need-especially those that will appreciate it!
As a high school student I volunteered at the Y and loved teaching kids sports! I designed simplified Basketball, Soccer and Volleyball activities for really young kids. I loved watching kids progress with their motor skills and confidence over a year’s time-it was so rewarding! At the local hospital I’d be helping operating room patients fill out their paperwork when they could not understand the information or did not have next-of-kin with them when they checked in!
Those moments I’ll always remember. For the last few Christmases-I would call around and sign up with different organizations to help out for soup kitchens and/or food banks and the waiting lists are so long because so many want to help out this time of year. Early last Fall, I called the Daily Bread Food Bank and asked if they needed any people and they did!
I reached out before Canadian Thanksgiving and glad I checked in a lot earlier. Just like food donations and hands, it’s better to start early. Did you know #DailyBreadTO supplies other food banks in Toronto with food/supplies/preserves? This insures that all neighbourhoods get an equal measure of what’s needed instead of running out-especially this time of year!
Apart from feeling good about helping others, the most rewarding part was seeing some of the same families every week who feed their children and are truly grateful for what’s available. Some of the other volunteers were so kind, dedicated and gracious. Once I got to know everyone, I got to hear their stories. Many people in the city are making ends meet and a few extra things make a huge difference.
The Food Bank is set up to look and feel like an actual grocery store to remove the ‘ration’ style of the Food Bank process and each customer can shop like they should. Volunteers are waiting to help bag the groceries and customers know how much they are permitted to receive!
I lived in Etobicoke for almost 7 years and had no idea that Daily Bread Food Bank was on Islington Ave! I’m writing this not to promote volunteerism or helping out during the holidays but mostly to encourage food donation all year round. Once the holidays are over-shelves are bare. Many items running out quickly are things like diapers, wipes, ensure, milk, eggs, produce, laundry detergent, toilet paper and toiletries. Anything that is used daily or weekly is so needed. After talking to so many people, when the holidays have passed, it’s tougher to retain enough stock to go round.
There are so many corporations who bring their employers in for food sorting and packaging marathons to raise money for the Food Bank and those events are always high energy with good music and live DJs! (That’s my favourite part.)
One thing I found touching was seeing patrons check labels for calories, sodium, ingredients and expiration dates. They are just as conscious about what they are eating as the next person! Give what you can of course BUT think about the health of your fellow human beings.
For me personally, food donation and donation in general has now taken on a whole new meaning. I give outside of the common holiday gift giving times, I give whether or not there’s a dire need or disaster and I try to give what’s necessary besides the usual donation items.
It was an incredible experience. Have a Happy Holiday! Have a wikked 2018!
It’s been a minute (like 3-4 years) and glad I went this summer! So much to do out there-tons of new food places/establishments to see! My return to NYC was amazing! I’m nostalgic because this is kinda the reason why the blog started. Travel provides a sense of wonder and inspiration. This is probably where my motivation comes from.
As always its essential to figure out where to stay. I’ve stayed at different hostels, homes and hotels but this time I chose to stay somewhere accessible, comfortable and a little swanky…..It’s a smaller hotel located on the Lower East of Manhattan the best things about it is mainly it’s location. The Smyth is located at a point where three stops east you’re in Brooklyn four-seven stops west you’re in Chinatown. This makes travelling around on foot, Uber or NYCT cheaper and safer. The Smyth (Thompson) is a small but stylish hotel on Broadway Ave next to subway, Whole Foods and a Barnes & Noble.
The service is amazing there! The staff is on point and the Bellman knows where to send guests for the best inexpensive/expensive food, nightlife and the nearest Duane Reade! The exchange rate wasn’t too great- for Canadians visiting make change at home. There are 2 other Thompson locations in Manhattan and this area is the best to get to BK, Bronx or Coney Island! The hotel lounge has a homey feel-looks very much like a cozy living room.
I didn’t wanna stay on the premises for long BUT decided to have breakfast at the restaurant connected to the hotel one morning. It’s a quaint French-style Bistro looking small from outside; when you walk inside it’s filled with people ALL day. The menu is amazing and all breakfast items have a little variation to it. This restaurant is inspired by famous chef James Beard, this you’ll notice from the decor to the meal presentation. It’s good food. There’s a full service bar and patio on the premises. The whole restaurant is quite an experience.
Little Park – 85 W Broadway
Walking around the city and also with how HOT it was there; There were many stops for water, snacks and more food. Favourites include any Afro-Muslim food places. They are clean and have a crazy variety to choose from. Speaking of African food, I purchased tickets to the Afropolitan NYC Food Festival! It was held at The Brooklyn Navy Yard quite a ways deep into BK but for a fairly new culinary event to the city, it was very interesting. Foods from all over Africa made from local NY rising chefs and well-known establishments in the area were in attendance. The restaurant booth with the most line ups were the Eritrean and Ethiopian foods. There were South African wine samples, Afrobeat DJs and refreshments. It was a hot-ass day. Any refreshments they sold were a welcome relief. The food actually looked like the picture and tasted amazing.
One more noteworthy food place Brooklyn Greenery-a hidden gen on Flatbush Ave. You can take the B,Q and S trains to Prospect Park Station. It’s a healthy, healthy place but what got me is the Hip-Hop Smoothie and Green Juice names. You have your choice of a small or large Supreme Clientele (Pineapple, Carrot, Green Apple), Mos Def, Queen Bee or Redman drinks. And to make your taste buds multitask you also hear your fave Dead Prez or Method Man playing for support. The place is immaculate and earthy. They run live shows in the shop and it is treated like a community meeting place. This shop has an each one teach one concept-they have a shelf filled with books where you can drop some off and pick some up. Besides it’s Hip-Hop enviro, the main reason it’s a gem is that it’s located amongst dozens of Popeyes’, Pizza joints and Golden Crusts-all of which have one too many calories to eat on a hot day! They really stand out on that block. Here’s a quote written by a Yelper about BKG: ‘The names of the smoothies and drinks are relevant and fitting for the times. The price is worth it.’ TOTALLY.
Now, on the holistic tip. I visited Namaste Bookshop. Wasn’t too fond of the name but the amount of people there……you’d want to walk in just to see what the hype was about. Lots of books, Crystals, incense EVERYWHERE. There were mini workshops and Tarot card readings going on. From the looks of it-it was as if everyone is looking to expand their minds at the same time. There people asking associates all kinds of questions about body ailments and meditation tips. This shop smelled amazing. It’s sensory overload when you walk in there! Lots of trinkets to see……
I ate so much but burned it off with walking and dancing of course! This was my favourite part of the whole trip. There’s always something to do anywhere/somewhere in Williamsburg,NY. My favourite record store (Dancetracks) is gone so I headed over to the newer ‘gentry-fied’ Halcyon in BK. The music is still the focus. One thing I love about many establishments in New York are that they double or triple as a few things. This is wonderful for business as it brings many people to one spot at any given time. Over at Halycon you can drink coffee, listen to live DJ sets, sample records you’d like to purchase, party on the rooftop or party inside! (Output) I arrived when sound check was going on before the big event-their soundsystem was ridic……..I brought back some goodies-can’t wait to spin with them!
On of the main things I do down there is shop at the black beauty supply stores for cheaper or larger sized products and summer clothes. I visited a very neat flea market. A very stylish one with handmade but fashion forward. Who needs a mall? I found plenty of that EVERYWHERE!
The highlight of the whole trip was BBE’s 10th Anniversary celebration for JDilla’s ‘The Shining’. Parties for this anniversary celebration were held all across the U.S.and I’m sure the others were just as amazing! It was an incredibly epic night. All kinds of freestylin’, all types of horn players. Guest birthday boy/ bad-ass drummer Daru Jones (Jack White of former White Stripes) killed it! Subrosa NYC hosts an event ‘Soul in The Horn’ on Fridays where Soul, Jazz,Hip-Hop and any other genre meet. Hosted by Dj Natasha Diggs and friends, I was blown away. The Shining was celebrating FULLY that night. Guest DJs Rich Medina & DJ Scratch attended. Have a listen to a snippet from that night at>>>>>> Soul In The Horn
There’s so much more I can share here but if you’ve been to NY, you’d know that your adventures/travel preferences would completely differ from mine! If you head to the Big Apple, I’ve mentioned some places definitely worth checking out. Come by and visit shine2u.wordpress.com every now and then to see what I’ll be listening to and where I’ll be!
I found out about her after seeing the work she had done on a photo shoot! I could see how swiftly she applied make up on the model-like she’d be doing it for years.
I met up with Dionne Lafond and was immediately floored at how long she worked at MAC cosmetics. She started her career at MAC 18 years ago in Ottawa, Canada at a time when the company was a young, innovative addition to retail and beauty industries in this country. She wasn’t necessarily keen on make up artistry- but was able to pick up skills quickly through her general curiosity to learn. When I asked her to tell me about her career she closes her eyes and said, ‘Let me think…….there’s so much-I can’t remember’. She looks incredibly young for a lady whose career spanned 20 years at the ‘trend-setting organization’.
A friend who worked for MAC who thought she had style + solid retail work experience recommended she apply for a job there. Once she applied she got the job with an aim to watch, practice and learn. She embraced the different opportunities outside of the retail floor to practice skills discovered from being at MAC.
She embraced many opportunities to take part in so many ‘fashion meets charity’ causes affiliated with MAC. She worked at the very first Fashion Cares fashion show, the MAC AIDS fund show, L’Oreal Fashion Week-And in the late 90’s she did quite a few notable music videos!
It’s through her love of creating and learning that she’s realized she loves to teach. She prefers to teach skills and techniques to students. After so many years of learning and building her expertise it became less interesting. With her love of teaching, she explains ‘I gain customer/client trust with trust I can show them how to make visual changes’. i.e. eyebrows, lip colour, blush
So what’s in store for Ms. Lafond MUA? She is currently participating in a hair styling for make up artists program at George Brown College in Toronto and looks so excitedly forward to embrace this change. She had a general energy about her and any client would be excited to get dolled up! She continues to freelance for new and longtime clients.
So of course, I took the chance to ask her what was trending in make up this year and her are some trends she mentioned from runway, fashion spread to client requests:
Lafond says ‘All women regardless of look or ethnicity enjoy the contouring and exaggerated fully made face it’s great for the camera’.
Her sound advice for those trying to get and stay in the game:
Times have changed things aren’t the way they were. The competition is stiff. Keep this in mind.
Get stuff published or at least ensure the projects you’re working on get published-to get published means it’s decent work!
Always work on your craft, never stop learning.
Find other artists who inspire you-you don’t have to copy them per se but you can learn skills and techniques that they use (her inspirations are Sir John, Francesca Tolot, Lucia Pieroni and Pat McGrath).
About make up application for clients or for yourself-remember to keep it simple….it’s okay to pare it down and keep it clean!
She does make-up for all occasions and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org!
After reading so much about his accomplishments and time spent in the industry- the descriptions I heard were all positive. His intense level of creativity…his tenacity for music and his jet-setting Tribe crew….I had questions about what started it all and what keeps the whole thing going…
I hit up the TRIBE website and was graced with some new and current tunes from an awesome podcast and as I scrolled around I saw the growing list of label artists who hands down seem to be one of the hardest working artists collective in house music…I smiled at my fave-Kristel (props), Peven Everett, Tim Regisford, Djeff Afrozila (see July interview) Nathan Adams….the list is growing. As I met up with Zepherin ‘Dean’ Saint last weekend, I understood that he had been travelling extensively…..the kitchen corridor at the new Ricky Ricardo’s became our interview space and I fired away….
I asked him about the artists and why he signed them…. he answered straight with no chaser ‘it’s all soul music, with depth’…..I liked his answer this set me up to understand the way he perceived music……I asked him ‘why house music?’ He had grown up playing a wide variety of instruments (drums and piano) and he adds ‘house music is one of the only genres to encompass all styles sounds under one umbrella’ For what house music represents this is a very unifying answer. What’s the one trend changing the UK house scene today? The new generation is embracing the sound of the 90s and re-working it to suit the modern taste and style.
What do you think of the South African music scene? Simply put ‘I’ve been visiting SA since the 90s…from then until now they stay hungry (about the music) South Africa had a bourgeoning scene in the 90s they’ve now been able to create something tangible and lasting, they’ve nurtured something that is uniquely their own.’ Similarly he argues that the South African House is differentiated by the drive and hunger of the people who make up that scene. From dance floors to studios it’s all authentic…… Very candid and well thought out!
I asked him how he feels the Miami Winter Music Conference (WMC) had changed in the last 15 years and one of the most interesting answers I’ve heard…He believes that ‘it hasn’t translated into a new audience, numbers haven’t grown or expanded which mean they haven’t connected with audiences’….Could Zepherin ‘Dean’ Saint be onto somethin’?
If things haven’t changed too much in the industry and you have trailblazers carving out their paths where does all his energy come from? How does he keep going artistically? It comes from the various musical genres he can draw from to make good music-no matter what it is. Disco, Latin, African, Caribbean, Tech….. pretty much anything. His comments veer into production styles he says that these genres can allow him to play with musical tempos and make use of some great production software. (He’s a techie)
With all this travelling the team’s been doing where has TRIBE been well received? He lists first and foremost France (See DJOON podcasts), New York, Atlanta, Montreal and Greece (Kefalonia) The energy in those cities is on a completely different level. You can see that the TRIBE family often promote and travel to these places together! They support one another-this seems to be the formula!
With TRIBE making so many waves this year, what should we look out for with TRIBE in 2014? New music from Miranda Nicole and Stephanie Cooke and a string of singles he’s working on!
Advice he offers to those trying to get ahead and make waves with their music, projects, talent, production, promotion: Believe in yourself, stay focused, keep your passions alive!
If you listeners can recall she brought singles Flo (2009), Do for Love (2010), Healing (2012) with Toronto DJ/Producer Victor Undergroundvibe (Soul Expansions) and now- sexy single ‘Overstanding’. Her vocals ride the beat effortlessly and she enunciates each word for you to feel the melodies.
The chorus resonates:
I tried, I cried, I’d fight, but now I’m overstanding this town, overstanding this sound, overstanding all around, overstanding this, now I’m overstanding my ground
She uses her voice to capture overstanding’s (Rasta) meaning beautifully.
Her vocals are neither overwhelming nor overstated. Less is definitely more here. Be sure to also check out the Overstanding remix by SIR LSG (sirlsg.com) & Anthony Nicholson (Miquifaye)
Enjoy this end of summer beauty. It’s on repeat for me!
This album is perfect for lounging at the Martini bar with a cocktail. Can you see it? It’s got the perfect Downtempo sound with substance and perfectly sweet. A cool 10 tracks with a proper bonus remix. There’s something about ‘Futuristic Soul’ that sets a precedent for good quality music that will always be ahead of it’s time! Each song is strikingly hypnotic….almost meditative.
Atlanta based ‘army kid’ import Dezaray
Dawn, has nailed a distinct sound and evokes thought by song rather than the usual listening ‘journey’ through the whole album. Each track can make strong standalone singles. Listen to single Over It. I first heard and still have Blue Six’s Aquarian Angel (2007) on rotation and I believe Dezaray’s The Dawning is taking its place.
The album is mellow with its intro title (The Dawning) and serves as an excellent entry into the world of Dezaray Dawn. This album challenges RnB artists to really push the envelope with sound rather than catchy, empty lyrics. The Dawning is a perfect mixture of Electronic and RnB music. Tracks to tantalize your ears: Da Day, Over It (2012), Chameleon (AppleJac’s Sound of Mecca Remix). My personal favourite is Brand New– it has an awesome chorus and sound. If you love ambient with soul, this album is yours!
As a freelancer embracing opportunities and leads like a private investigator-I’ve come across some very interesting circumstances. These situations have become synonymous with most clients and situations which led me to write this piece.
When deciding to take on a project whether its paid or not I’ve understood in the last few years that if the client is looking for: a) money b)fame c)endorsement with any of the work you will be doing for them, you are most definitely headed for disaster! Rather than any one of those three driving forces, a client looking to understand what the social media machine means to their business and to themselves as owner/CEO of the business is a key component to my willingness to work with them.
The progress the client/potential client has made since they’ve embraced any form of media-whether it’s a website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. will translate into how fruitful or complicated the undertaking of the assignment will be.
Clients/partners/collaborators can fall into a few categories:
Client 1: has no idea what social media is but needs help and is open to listen and learn
Client 2: has no idea what ‘new age’ promotion is and unwilling to listen/learn or relinquish control over to you
Client 3: has an idea about social media but doesn’t understand how it can grow a business (but uses it personally-sometimes a little too personally)
Client 4: making very little effort and wants to hand everything over to you to take over (ideal but comes at a cost-financially and brand marketing wise)
Client 5: has an idea what SM is/does but doesn’t use it for business and wants their work/brand/company to speak for itself (possibly living in a bubble or under a rock)
I am not pointing this breakdown at anyone in particular but I’m sure anyone working in the event promotion, marketing, public relations or social media industries would understand the path I’m trying to follow with this article.
If your client does not know how they can highlight their business, service, art, image, brand to the public-no amount of assistance from the best team will help.
So far I’ve found that the clients I prefer to work with and the ones with the most successes or growth besides making money are the ones who’ve tried and (need an extra hand), or those who are starting social media or promotion from the ground up. On the other hand existing brands making transitions from the old style to the ‘new school’ are at a major advantage to grow their reach and influence by tweaking their message.
Brands or entities with a huge fan base or stellar image or body of work can and do grow their businesses in areas they had never imagined possible.
I promise you that anyone seeing your vision as an artist, musician, business, brand will want to do what’s best to see you succeed.
Remember, your work is as good as your client’s efforts! Visit us over at @urbcomgrp_pr for tips and tricks!
As a child in school I never really identified with my heritage. I never identified with any particular group or thing. I just knew myself as ‘girl who likes to draw, girl who rides her bike, girl who lives at Jane-Finch,girl who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, girl who thinks about writing, girl with lots of ideas……years and years have passed and those things haven’t really changed (My locale has, lol)
It’s only when I started kindergarten that I met other kids and they would talk about ‘who they were’.
When kids would ask ‘what are you?’-As is customary in Toronto and I’m assuming in Canada-I would tell them I’m a Chinedu, I’m a girl, I like Star Wars.
Literally, it’s only through racism I discovered who I was. It was being asked by teachers how long I’d been in Canada or the the seemingly slow, slow speech that teachers would utter to me that I began to realize that I was seen differently than I viewed myself. After teaching in Japan and teaching students by webcam online, the first few lessons I taught; students would ask me where I was from and the shock comes when I tell them Canada and they shake their heads saying that ‘only white people are from Canada’. Again, another rude awakening about ‘what I am’ during another milestone in my life……another reminder that I never quite got right since grade school.
To be Canadian is a frame of mind and as I get older I see that it truly IS a frame of mind. With aging parents one of whom I wasn’t raised with (she spent most of my life in the home country, returning to Toronto after 25 years!) I see how differently I think from them, how I speak to them, even my opinions about certain topics….all DIFFERENT. My self-awareness is VERY different.
As important as it is to be self-aware- I believe that dis-association of labels can be an excellent way to achieve goals, ambitions with less caution and restraint. You learn more and you end up in places and spaces most people would only dream. Knowing oneself without becoming wrapped up in what it means to be just that in a limited framework is also important.
A few weeks ago they had a talk (they talked at me) about where I should be in life and what I should be doing now. The interesting part about the talk was that I couldn’t understand why my mother couldn’t see my point of view.
A topic like this gets written off as generational or perhaps I’m not thinking clearly (Maybe I’m transient)…but what I got from the talk was that I was a new species to them.
My Dad started talking to me about embracing both cultures and that I was African-Canadian (Canadian born of Nigerian parents) and it had me thinking the same way I thought as a little girl in Junior Kindergarten……To my parents I wondered what it meant to them to be a Nigerian-Canadian.
Based on their comments it dawned on me that they would never be able to see what my identity means and looks like to me. It seems simpler to them to build some guidelines on how-to-be ‘Nigerian’. Comparisons to other family members who’ve migrated to North America (as Africans maintaining culture or any other ethnic group for that matter, were being bridged).
I started wondering what they knew about what it meant to be me. You see: to me I don’t identify like that.I never will. I’ve never entirely went with a specific group. I’ve never completely identified with Africans. Maybe because most of the Africans I’ve met were newcomers to Canada. They all (parents and those I’ve met) expect me to speak the language, visit the home country frequently demonstrate and understanding of the customs and have them acted out in true form. I say ‘act’ because it’s easier to just follow to behave ‘African’ so guidelines are met and being ‘found’ would be much better than being ‘lost’.
The urgency comes from my mother’s fear( I didn’t grow up with) of me being ‘lost’. My being lost and not ‘knowing the culture’ is a nightmare for them. The problem with that is families have no idea that a hybrid child is created once (im)migration occurs. DNA is the same but the finished product is ‘a new thing’, not ‘ a bad thing’.
If only they understood that my experience with identity had been carved out a long time ago. I already identified with being ‘A Chinedu, a girl, a peanut butter jelly sandwich eater’ long time ago.Seemingly all things making me a Canadian aside from birth.
I believe it’s important to know where someone comes from, where their customs are coming from and understanding about heritage…..but understanding where you are and how you fit in and demonstrate the here or now is more important too!
The point I’m trying to make here is very clear to me: Within the landscape of Toronto-people, organizations, offices, other ethnic groups, your own family, even employers see a name or a face and immediately want to place you, categorize as something and once they get to know you or mis(understand) and dissect you they either become horrified, impressed or shocked why? Because they are expecting you to fall into any of the categories for your supposed type to make it easier.
When I visited the family’s home country….. I remember meeting random people in the streets of Lagos, in shops, people visiting my family during our stay all knowing and not expecting me to be anything other than what I was—A Canadian.
Sooo I may not go camping or fishing every Summer, I may not say Eh! All the time either. Heck, I may not be Caucasian. But I know what it means to be from here. I AM CANADIAN!
Me. Sweating in the car. Sweating in every car. It’s so hot there! :S I’ve returned from a family trip in Nigeria. It was an interesting experience. There are lots of things to see and I look forward to visiting again but travel a little more on my terms. I love the beach, I love trying out street food and the beautiful marketplaces. I was supposed to be in New York again right after this family trip but I missed my flight. I’m back in Toronto again trying to continue building my NYC travel plans. Smart Serve course was completed. Next is the (Toronto Institute of Bartending.)