Education, Establishments, events, Information, Music, theshineprjct, Toronto

The Future of Black Music in Canada

I’ve been working with the Songwriter’s Association of Canada since last Fall. It’s a smaller but VERY influential NPO located in Toronto with connections to other Canadian music creator advocacy organizations. I was motivated to work with them once I found out about their nearly 40 year history and it’s founder Terry McManus. McManus, a longtime songwriter and educator founded the org to fight for the compensation of Canadian artists as songwriters.

Prior to the early 80s, Canadian songwriters didn’t receive royalties from their music. Terry McManus (one of the early influences for SOCAN among many other organizations founded in Canada,) along with other very influential people in Canada’s music industry, created an association that would move forward to develop and protect the creative, business and legal interests of Canadian music creators. ‘With over 1,000 current members, including 200+ professionals, S.A.C. offers a suite of invaluable digital services and provides education and community for songwriters, lyricists, beatmakers, sound designers, topliners, instrumentalists and song collaborators’.

Please read more benefits of S.A.C. as an organization and the value of obtaining a membership with them here. S.A.C. is undergoing a multitude of changes behind the scenes so stay connected to them across all socials. If you’ve followed any projects and work I’ve been doing over the last decade-I’m passionate about Canadian music and underground culture; especially musicians and artists that are often not seen or highlighted due to heavy competition and very limited chances for media exposure and discussion. I really enjoy this stuff and talking about the music!

For Black History Month this year, along with the Operations Coordinator (Natalie B) at S.A.C., we designed a four week panel where I dug through many of the artists I’ve loved and known for years! I’ve watched their careers grow and wanted to talk to them to find how they were ‘doing it’ in Canada. I also wanted to showcase what making Black Music and creative material was like pre-BLM 2020 while looking forward into the future. With another lockdown imposed after Christmas, it caused a blockage and dramatically changed the budget and programming style we were hoping for.

Even though it was harder to navigate the discussions, the transparency we had in these conversations were invaluable. I urge you- if you’ve got an hour at a time over the course of the next few weeks, listen in to what Black Music creators and writers have to say about the industry in Canada. The struggle isn’t over for any type of artist and creative globally, but what Black Music creators and writers had to say about jumping over hurdles to remain in the music, arts, culture sphere is admirable.

I had a great time putting this program together to showcase Black Canadian Creators and an even better time asking artists questions about topics rarely discussed on a public platform. Here’s the the link to the Songwriter’s Association of Canada (YouTube):

A little side note here: I’d like to thank all artists for joining me to discuss the industry in Canada. It’s through discussion, that greater insights are made and change is possible!

-shine

Biography, Education, Information, Japan, Knowledge, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

travel story – lesson 4

This is the last and most profound lesson I absorbed during my time in Japan. It’s something that I hadn’t expressed verbally but more so- an observation and a feeling. Whenever I do talk about Japan with folks who’ve never been to Asia, one of the many remarks made is that ‘it must’ve been a cultural shock to live there’ and although it sounds correct it isn’t. The culture shock hit me when I returned to Toronto. It took some time to process the difference and it also took time to flow again with what I’d known my whole life. For example: how to navigate where I was headed (on public transit and professionally) once I got back. I had to learn how to reject what people around me suggested I do.

Let me tell a story as I did with the first 3 travel stories for context. Every morning, when I first arrived to Osaka-I’d take the train to work. When you (a foreigner) arrives to Japan, you stand out (you’re not them.) It takes awhile to get used to, so the people around you seem like a blur because it’s a new environment. I’d head into the office (a whole multimedia centre) to teach English modules by webcam (pretty much what Zoom is like today!) *13 years ago we taught by webcam…..anyway during breaks, between classes, lunch hour, no show classes and finally at the end of the day- I’d sit around the centre talking to other instructors, operations staff and sometimes even the cleaning staff. Lemme focus on the cleaning staff. You know the saying we see often: “speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” I discovered comes from Albert Einstein. I think about that quote a lot but I think about it in reverse. It’s hard for me to explain this in a way that doesn’t sound short sighted.

As teaching staff in that office we did our best to keep it tidy and clean up after ourselves-it never seemed disrespectful against the cleaning staff. After seeing 2 cleaning staff members almost everyday and talking to them here and there within the office space; there’s an observation I made as I navigated the city for my next 2 years there. Folks in all areas of the society worked hard, happily and with purpose. Please click the link that follows later in this paragraph. I use the term ‘happily’ very carefully. I observed the way different societies placed types of work in categories and then I observed those that actually worked those jobs; they worked with a kind of esteem I’d never seen before. I also looked at (the way workers interacted with each other), the people in the cities they worked for as well as public exchanges and cultural interaction between them) It was different.

One night, I observed two city workers on my way back from a DJ gig, both were bowing to each other after their shifts. It was something I’d never seen before. I looked at the way a city like Toronto places heavy importance on the status of an individual whether it be the ‘look’ and ‘show’ of class, wealth, clout and/or intelligence or the outward keeping of appearances to exude (being worthy of respect solely based on luxury, materialism or race) and then the hush, hush nature of being support staff and/or performing ‘blue collar’ work. Here’s a very unique thing to keep in mind also: the education process is quite intense in Japan- so no matter what your future looks like, by the time you choose a career path (most young people would have studied ALOT.) Everyone is well learned and fierce with the books.

So let’s step away from my intricate observations for a moment. This is the transitional part of myself I want to share here: One morning I was on the train-a few months before I ended my contract and came home. The train was packed. Typically, you will see on TV around the world what Japanese urban centres look like during rush hour. I used to hold the bar tightly preventing myself from tipping over on to other passengers. As I stared out the window on the train I felt someone looking at me. I was so used to it by that time: being taller than most, having dreadlocks and then later a little afro (I chopped them off) and the the obvious just being black…..anyway

I looked to my right and then my left and saw a couple standing together both smiling and waving at me. For a second I thought they looked so familiar. They waved and greeted me. I then realized who they both were, dressed to the nines and headed to work. I didn’t recognize them because I’d only seen them in their work uniforms for almost three years. I didn’t know they were husband and wife-she had a beautiful Prada jacket, handbag and hat-he was decked out in a beautiful and VERY expensive suit. I don’t know why it hit me differently at that moment. But the resonance for me hit in waves and it said ‘it’s necessary to have self esteem with whatever you do-no need to be fake about that shit, provided it’s safe, legit and works for you, NEVER FEEL ASHAMED for where you are NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO.’

I know it sounds like a judgement against them (the cleaning staff couple) for me seeing them dressed up and then later dressed for work-it wasn’t just seeing them at that very moment that made me think like this, but a series of events and observations of them at work that led me to embrace this message strongly. It prepared for the next decade in Toronto with no shortcuts. It was a culmination of things: I was headed back to Toronto with all types of plans for the way I wanted life to go and leaving the Canada I once knew and returning after sometime. This was a very much a ‘from the ground up‘ process. I’ve worked at many places to get by, to get through school again (Humber PR) and to literally, make it! And even when I was made to feel like what I was doing was beneath me at many intervals in the last decade; depending on where I was whether it be around certain groups, environments or classist circles that for some reason attempted to stamp that permanent mark of ‘less than’ on my back or forehead, I constantly reminded myself about what I had come to know after setting foot back in Toronto. I understood a resonance I described to you up top. Teachable moments are often more of a sense than anything else so please excuse how this message rolls out.

Looking back at the last 12-14 years, I realize there’s so much I had to learn by going through all types of experiences to get what I wanted and it wasn’t easy. I don’t think I would’ve had the grit I have today to sustain my goals if I hadn’t been through as much as I did. So after all this extra descriptive language and explanation, I formally re-discovered ikigai a few days ago. I also realized that what I’m trying to carefully explain here is ikigai in action. It’s definitely a strong cultural mindset. Even though I embraced hard work most of my life with diligence. I worked jobs in spaces and places I never thought I should or could do-THAT was my cultural shock. Here’s a paragraph that explains the concept and how it should ideally work:

Pride and camaraderie are more difficult to define and obtain. These two values are different in that they depend on each individual person’s character and needs. They are reliant on the relationship between the employee and his or her job (pride) and the relationship between the employee and his or her coworkers (camaraderie). What each person needs to be proud of their job is personal and unique and it’s crucial to ensure that everyone is in a role that satisfies their goals. The quality of relationships between coworkers depends on the personalities and different preferences each person has as well as the ability of the team to match them. Pride and camaraderie can be related back to the concept by ikigai when you think about appreciating others for their personal reason for being whilst valuing yourself for yours. This will create a harmonious work environment composed of successful individuals.’ See more about this concept.

Naturally, it was easier for me to work retail, wash n fold laundry service, cashier, bartending or server jobs after experiencing ikigai. No shame in the game-you learn a multitude of things and are exposed to dynamics you’d never see, know or understand otherwise. It’s humbling yes, it might even feel like punishment. But having a sense of pride, esteem and full comprehension of all angles of work makes you know shit very well. So, this wasn’t something I picked up in one trip-but over the course of my stay in Japan. It’s something that’ll always be a part of me. I know how to put in the elbow grease with no complaints-I know in my mind where I’d like to be. Lastly, I judge no one.

For ambitious folks, this lesson 4 is:

what you do for work isn’t your final destination

Education, Information, Knowledge, Reflections, Travel

travel story – lesson 2

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?’

Me: No

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

Education, Information, Knowledge, New York, Reflections, theshineprjct

travel story – lesson 1

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!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Information, Music, promoters, Public Relations, theshineprjct, Toronto

The Mod Club’s Got A New Name & Look…Now Let’s Check Out The Vibe……..

ALL AXIS FESTIVAL

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

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.

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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