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!