DJ Culture & Music, House Music, Information, Knowledge, theshineprjct, Toronto

The Canadian Underground Scene & Industry Writing: Through a More Colourful Lens

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!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Information, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto

Demuir’s Digital Return – Local House Series – Installment 8 (2020 Vision Series)

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.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article about the ones bringing the spotlight to the genre-Honeycomb Label Owner Josh Milan’s interview, I discussed with Milan back then about being nominated for the Grammy twice which is (rare for House/Underground) and I brought the comparison to Drake at best (even though the genre is different,) the concept of keeping Toronto and Canada at-large on people’s minds and creative collaborations was VERY important then (pre-covid) and NOW.

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…..

Served Raw

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.

Looking to step your production game up? Visit Demuir over at Patreon>>>http://patreon.com/demuirofficial

Beauty, Food, Health & Wellness, Holistic Health, Information, Knowledge, Recovery, Reflections, Toronto

Ayurveda – What’s Your Dosha?

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.

Dosha Skin Quiz.jpg

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.

Owner/Founder Karryn Arato

@wtwellnesscolonics

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!

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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.

Sonal Ayurveda

Dr. Sonal Bhatt – Ayurveda For Total Health

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!

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!

-shine