DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

UNCDTNL SUPPORT: The future of publicity in Toronto is bright!


Meet the two women partially responsible for the next wave of women music executives in Toronto: Yvette Angela and Deneita Evans

From what I understand UNCDTNL Collective are women of colour executives mentoring women of colour?

UNCDTNL Collective is a company that specializes in project management that support underrepresented individuals and groups. It is this specific program where we’ve created a mentorship component.

At what point did you decide to connect and collaborate?

We met in 2017 during our volunteer run at Yonge-Dundas, where we were handing out flyers for that years’ Manifesto. We just clicked and from working with each other and learning about our love for music, putting on shows, and what we felt was missing from Toronto at that time. We started talking and a little bit later, UNCDTNL was on its way.

What are some of the things about hip hop and R&B that becomes a little more challenging (aside from event production and talent buying.)

Curating hip hop and r&b shows in spaces where they aren’t welcome. Toronto loves the aesthetic of hip hop but doesn’t want live performers. It’s challenging to find the space where we are not only welcomed but embraced, not policed.

For Yvette and Denieta: What makes a great event from start to finish

D: I’d say the most difficult thing about planning an event would be keeping organization the whole way through, to make sure we’re not skipping a beat and we’re covering all our bases. Especially when it’s a decent sized group taking on a huge event. Also, being prepared when things randomly change and you now have to quickly find solutions.

Y: For me, it’s the lack of resources. Sometimes we will have a vision and it might be hard or close to possible to execute. So we either need to find/create the sources. We usually work with what we got until we can get what need and want. But it’s a huge hurdle to overcome, but we always do and we end up with more than we hoped.

What do both of you feel about carving your own path vs. following the industry standard? (What are some of the things that you feel have to be followed or blazed “blazing your own path”-Explain front and back of house?

We believe every path is different, we don’t think there is any industry standard. There’s space for everyone, you just need the passion and persistence to get there. The only thing in common with us, our mentors, mentees, colleagues is that we are all went for what we wanted. Sometimes that means volunteering internships, attending networking events – just putting yourself out there, working hard and you’ll see the fruits of your labour.

What you want to say to the next gen music entertainment women of colour executives in Canada?

Persistence, patience and passion is all you need. Sometimes it seems as though your goal will never get accomplished but it’s not true – it’s coming. But it only happens with hard work, be the best worker at every job that you do. Research and know your craft, and always be open to learning more.

What kind of events do you want to create in the future? Any company,client,group,biz,artists?

We are working on another volume of our show ‘Sunshine’, we plan on making some changes and doing it even better than our first one. We are planning on getting involved with more festivals in the country (such as Pop Montreal, VELD or NXNE) and also we want to continue to provide resources to those who don’t know where to go. We also are going to delve into art, Deneita is a huge art fan so that is in the works – to represent local visual artists.

How can people stay up-to-date with UNCDTNL? INSTAGRAM: @uncdtnl

Show Info:

CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK: Ebhoni, Witch Prophet and Sydanie.

May 8th at The Baby G (1608 Dundas St West)

Doors Open at 8pm / Show Starts at 9pm.

Tickets are $12 Online and $15 at the Door. 

Buy tickets: bit.ly/UNCDTNLCMW

DJ Culture & Music, events, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

LUXELIFE SOUND Touches Toronto

A few minutes before I arrive at a Downtown Café last Fall, she sends a quick text identifying herself as the one with the big curly hair! Walked up to the glass doors and yes, she had the massive hair and the warmest bubbly smile. We just dived right in! Cleo Ellis, one half of LUXELIFE SOUND broke down for me how the business came about, and like most of the conversations I’ve had with shineprjct interviewees, it was soooo organic!!!!

With the strong ongoing 2018 theme of women-lifting-women up and the pride I can hear in her voice, this story  is definitely a huge accomplishment. She didn’t expect it to take the direction it did ‘it kinda just happened’ Ellis said.

Originally from Edmonton, she  moved to Toronto from Vancouver  in 2014  to pursue her Masters Degree in Professional Communication and almost immediately started a  volunteer position with Canadian PR Powerhouse Natasha Koifman of (NKPR) during their TIFF IT Lounge. That was also how she met her now business partner, DJ Lissa Monet — and unbeknownst to them both, that was the beginning of Toronto’s first all-female boutique DJ booking agency — LUXELIFE SOUND. JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Cleo Ellis – Partner
Photo: @djpplus

Anyone following Monet on Twitter will notice that she drops needles of wisdom navigating the industry as a tenured DJ and as a woman. She’s one of Toronto’s most well known DJs and has pioneered the way for a host of other DJs in the city, particularly female DJs.

DJ Lissa Monet – Partner

Even further ‘Our DJs are more than just a playlist. They actually have the skill needed to live-spin to the needs of the crowd’. LUXELIFE SOUND’s goal is to set a luxury standard of service for their clients, but also to ensure each and every DJ on their roster is paid their worth and treated fairly — the DJ industry, particularly in the club sector is notorious for these issues.  Cleo takes the time to educate each client on the expectations of hiring a DJ, while making the process seamless and simple on both ends. . One of the most engaging parts of our exchange was her communal ideology. ‘In our world, everyone gets a bag and everyone shines’ (Yeah, baby EVERYONE).

For years she was on the club circuit  and transitioned to corporate events , all while keeping a keen eye on other up and coming  lady DJs in the space. Many of whom  I’ve seen and heard at various events all over the city. The grouping of what is now LUXELIFE’S  roster includes a few definitive selectas from all over Canada. Cleo explains ‘we lucked out in that every DJ on the roster is so different; if the client requires a certain style, WE DELIVER and that is our strength’

Although business is flowing in from all over Canada they are not yet ready to expand nationwide but would like to continue reaching clients from coast-to-coast. “One day we hope to replicate this model on a larger scale in other cities, and maybe even expand to the US — but slow and steady wins the race. We want to be able to have the infrastructure to support a move like that”.

If you’re looking for more LUXELIFE SOUND has a dope SoundCloud channel  right now. Keep your ears open for the ladies at the next private party, it might be yours! Wishing LUXELIFE SOUND amazing success in 2019!

Follow ‘em IG: @luxelifesound

Follow ‘em on Facebook: @Luxelifesound

Beauty, events, Health & Wellness, Holistic Health, Reflections, supply, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

Lift & Co’s Expo & Legalization in Canada

As of October 17, 2018 Canada is one of the first countries in the world to legalize non-medical pot at the federal level. That day put Canada on the map as being the first G7 country in the world to legalize non-medical pot federally.

After walking around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on both days during the Expo, I was surrounded by anything BUT a bunch of smokers (they weren’t allowed in the building anyway!) I was introduced to topics surrounding Cannabis use as related to medicare, food, body pain and  CBD oil based products for pets and beauty! All panel discussions talked candidly about how to normalize public engagement and all leaders within the industry spoke on their perspectives.

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One of the first questions I asked was…..Soooo what about Jamaica? One of the major questions I asked Lift and Co’s CMO about the country with the strongest advocacy for cannabis’ medicinal and health benefits (for many generations.) An official announcement was released late May 2018 after theshineprjct.com’s interview confirming that Jamaica will be the sole exporter of Marijuana to Canada.

As of May 27 of this year, JMCC has just announced agreements to provide medical cannabis to Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada’s approval. JMCC operates a collective in Jamaica that is owned 51% by local farmers and 49% by JMCC Canada.(Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective)

CEO Diane Scott and Jamaican Minister for Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Andrew Wheatley gave a joint presentation entitled “When Countries Collaborate” on the final days at the LIFT Conference shedding some light on this decision.

Other things to note:

  • JMCC is well on track to produce volumes equivalent to the large Canadian producers.
  • JMCC is already under contract to provide Jamaican cannabis to three Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada approval.
  • It has signed a three-way supply agreement with a developer of cutting-edge medical and health cannabis products, and an LP that remains confidential.
  • It has received signed letters of intent to purchase from another seven LPs, and is in discussions with another half-dozen in Canada and Europe.

The Jamaican government is focusing on Canada as a major market for its legal medical cannabis and has been very supportive of the industry. Furthermore, it fully supports JMCC. 

Folks,meet Kerri-Lynn McAllister (Chief Marketing Officer, Lift & Co) She describes the trepidation she had after being vetted by Lift and Co as their now Chief Marketing Officer! ‘I was head hunted from a tech space. I wasn’t too keen on working in the weed business at first but once I saw it’s potential and investigated some more-I found my role was exciting. IT was an opportunity to shape an industry’.

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How has the discussion about Cannabis changed since she joined Lift and Co? In six months she reports that plenty of people want to come out of the woodwork to talk about stocks/investments or how it’s helped them or family members. She was not aware of the discussions people were having prior to joining the organization. So it’s been interesting to see who was or wasn’t interested in the topic. It also shows that there is still some hesitancy to discuss topics on how to change public perception.

Do you see a difference in the getting this together-organizing it, running it? The size and scale in Vancouver is smaller but the vibe is incredible. Our events team is on the ball and have created an amazing event. Vancouver was a little more challenging to set up the event. There’s only one venue. January is the only time we were offered and January isn’t the best time for an Expo but we still have very successful attendance. From the dispensary perspective and the prevalence of cannabis businesses in the recreational market it seems Vancouver is more progressive but Toronto is way more open.

This year’s expo seems heavily focused on every avenue of the cannabis industry-it seems as though there’s an opportunity everywhere where does it start? End? Many insulary services and external products for women and particularly exciting beauty products. She noticed that Sephora was starting to carry CBD products. It’s a huge market. Food, Machinery,Textiles is all here. We don’t allow you to sell anything while exhibiting. Everything has to be above-board. We welcome various segments of the industry. We feel that there are so many auxiliary products that can serve the industry. The real focus at this Expo are the licensed producers and the niche companies.

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Canada as the Cannabis leader: Setting World standards How? So the Netherlands now gets mentioned for the first time in the whole discussion. Cannabis isn’t legal there but the by-law is re-translated to include all substances. So Canada would be the first country behind Uruguay to legalize it. And second, the first UN country to legalize it for recreational use at the Federal level. Canada is also considered a pioneer of medical cannabis use. Germany and Australia are nations observing Canada’s process in order to monitor recreational use over there!

A thought: As Canada is attempting to build a profitable Cannabis industry,one would hope that foundations like Lift and Co could join in the fight to remove charges and laws protecting those accused of profiting from Cannabis illegally. McAllister agrees that it’s not fair. We both agreed that it is a topic to be re-visited once details are ironed out from the retail point of view. Many aren’t talking about how to connect lawmakers and big businesses about deep changes that must be made to criminal legislation at a local and federal level. No organizations have come forward to discuss…..So many issues that were called into question spur a whole new set of questions. What does it look like for other provinces? What does it look like internationally? How will the cannabis industry look come October 2019?

Am I staunch Cannabis supporter? Yes and No

Do I recommend it to minors? NOPE.

Do I recommend it to treat ailments and diseases that pharmaceuticals should not be treating? Yes! 

Personally, I have vastly changed my opinion on the matter. After seeing my best friend’s Mom fight the battle of her life for almost five years with vicious stage three abdominal/cervical cancer. Seeing one of the strongest women I know lose weight and strength…..I was alarmed with how much medication was administered to her. Her condition, her overall body pain and deteriorating health after each aggressive chemotherapy session was heartbreaking. THC and Cannabis oils were not considered an option so late in her treatment but I do often think about how much it might have alleviated her pain.

Marketing Cannabis: Challenges and Opportunities

Although there were many restrictions imposed on marijuana industries on how information should be disseminated it didn’t dampen many companies/brands from reaching the public. All organizations ran into snags but found very specific techniques wildly successful. By employing savvier techniques to promote higher distribution of info and less visible imagery (lending more to the pothead stereotype), it’s made them more advanced than other industries which is one of the most difficult images to shake-off; especially in society or groups that still see weed that way. (As a drug)

In many cases it seems like a generational roadblock combined with a competitive push (to compete) with massive pharmaceutical brands.

What happens when all standard pharmaceutical cocktails fail terminally ill patients and/or chronic pain survivors? See Pain Warriors Movie 

In many cases pharma drugs are overwhelming to the system. Hurdles to overcome post-operative and/or incurable pain- includes insufficient funding, unwillingness to collaborate with Marijuana organizations from tactics like stonewalling, to the rejection of advertising and/or co-collaboration, lack of legal support, limited staff, little or no funding for startups, no bookkeeping and/or accounting services, restraints on public (social media) platforms about what can/can’t be mentioned (wording) online. The list goes on……

So where does that leave a rapidly growing and slightly forbidden industry in 2019?

One of the key answers to this ‘blazing’ question: Find the organizations that will. Cannabis organizations are savvier, they find the best in their respective lanes/industries and the right UN-biased yet open-minded companies who would like to grow with the industry. Find the companies courageous enough to overlook the stigma and see how far the movement can go. (The movement has gone so far that legislation has currently been approved at the House of Commons, and awaiting final approval) McAllister strongly suggests ‘If you’re paying attention to the space and you’re a professional services business-you’re ignoring Cannabis to your own detriment. You’re letting your political views get in the way of growing business’. (Are you?)

How Does The Growing Industry Work Around The Social Stigma? These are some VERY excellent marketing and promotional take-aways that have worked well for the industry. 

  • In short-harmless but necessary features such as clean & clear, unbiased branding, well-emphasized key mission statements (CULTURE, HEALTH/WELLNESS and COMMUNITY for example) emblazoned all over venues and promotional material (and actively creating those environments for the public to focus on.
  • Tactile and sensory marketing to convert socially doubtful and biased (opinion) to genuinely embrace items containing secondary marijuana products with an openness that might not have been possible 10 years ago. i.e. taste,test,smell

Many online platforms (Twitter, FB, IG) have rules and regulations for promoting ‘illegal substances’ online. Certain photos, commentary and suggestive language cannot be used. Marijuana businesses often align themselves in terms of community-building, health/wellness/awareness and/or industry building. All cannabis industries ran into snags but found very specific techniques to achieve success. By employing savvier techniques (strong digital and traditional marketing) was used to promote usage and/or distribution; it’s made this sector more advanced and in many cases they have more of an advantage because they’ve created a stronger movement like what we’re seeing now. Aurora Cannabis has done a fine example of clearing away the ‘pothead’ image-which is one of the most difficult images to erase pre-legalization. i.e. Collaboration with NXNE

What are some of the opinions for and against Marijuana?

Seems to fall into 3 camps:

  1. Post-operative terminal illness survivors who try to live day-to-day while searching for holistic topical methods to combat pain. In most cases Dr. prescribed pharmaceuticals numb pain and makes all tasks slightly bearable. (On the fence.)
  2. Those who do not tolerate use as an alternative choice under any circumstances (Is that societal, cultural, generational, institutional?)
  3. And those who use it recreationally and accept it.

In Ontario a private retail model is set to go public April 1st this year-What this means for Ontarians is that recreational marijuana is currently sold online for recreational use and will be sold by licensed re-sellers to the public. Will this make business better? Will it change the way other countries and societies at-large view Cannabis? Only time will tell.

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Heather – Apollo Records – (APT) Chicago’s – International – House Music – Summer Series 2018 – (Chicago) Pt.1

With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.

At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’

On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’

What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.

I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol

We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’

About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this  addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.

Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.

Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.

How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.

Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉

DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..

It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.

 

She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!) 

Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’

It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of  her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!

Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.

About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.

For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.

Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me.  In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.

She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a  formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say  for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.

I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……

Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read. 

  • Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
  • Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
  • Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop

 

What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?)  I shared with Heather  recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at  Resident Advisor and it  then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.

Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!

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Japan, New Jersey, New York, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel, Vancouver

10 Travel Tips While On The Road

Are you a Snowbird or do you travel all year round for business? Are you switching climates or checking off your bucket list? Where are you headed? What do you need? How do you prepare for flights/trips? I’ve had a few things happen during trips and in some cases had to work around them here a few tips with bonus:

  1. Mail photocopies or digital versions of passport, birth certificates , frequent flyer cards or citizenship particulars. If/when those things go missing-if you’re able to get to an Embassy everything needed to travel can be replaced fast.
  2. Book your seat as soon as you book you ticket-most international flights and air carrier seats are gone right away-as fees have gone up on everything and most things that never used to be charged are now charged (emergency seating is now classified as extra-leg room seating) and can cost anywhere from $20-$100 more
  3. If you do have first aid training or emergency anything training-if you’re comfortable consider sitting at the emergency section. There are so many that panic during turbulence and may not remain calm during a REAL emergency-jus sayin’ (Ex-airline trainee over here!)
  4. Stay hydrated outside and inside (you’ll feel amazing once you land, no matter how long the flight is/was.) An Evian water atomizer or spring/distilled in a mini spray bottle is just fine
  5. Depending how far you go, stand-by is always a great option (Jet Blue’s stand-bys are cheap and organized)
  6. Save foreign currencies in jars so you can see what you have-you may not be headed to the same country again but you might be passing through a country’s airport and can use whatever bills and coins you have-it comes in handy and you don’t need to exchange any currency for a short stopover!
  7. Find the coldest place in your house when you return-leave your luggage there-let critters and bed bugs die. If it’s Winter where you are (even better) the garage. It is said that bed bugs and critters live in hotels in big cities and you may bring them back with you…..
  8. Get an effective mobile roaming package for your mobile-not all countries have the best wi-fi connections (if any). If your phone provider does not have a great one at least get one for free unlimited or broad text messaging. If that’s entirely not possible get an international SIM card with a local phone number i.e. Vodafone is an excellent company that operates in most cities worldwide.
  9. After I’ve used most of my travel sized products during my trip-I buy travel size products to re-fill my travel bag again from the country I’m in so it’s ready in my suitcase for the next trip. Don’t need to pack that again!
  10. If I plan on shopping and I’m staying in a country for a longer period of time and I know that I’ve used a small suitcase and I don’t want to carry anything around with me, I mail heavier items (via local post office) to my address. It usually arrives within days of arriving home and I’m still able to walk with a lighter load.
  • Bonus: Not all airlines have the same (flight) track record. Ask your travel agent to look up and research airlines that might not be well-known but have a flexible schedule and affordable price! I’ve generally always used Air Canada but there are other air carriers going to the same countries and leave more frequently, fly to other metropolitan cities in your designated country of choice and a few hundred dollars cheaper! 

There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to ensure an easier flight or travel experience. Is there anything YOU do to make the journey easier,cheaper or more organized? Please share! Safe travels 🙂

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DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Music, promoters, Public Relations, Reflections, Toronto

Canadian Music Week – CMW 2018 – The Information Age

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A full week of non-stop music, panel discussions and mentorship all here in the T-Dot! This has to be one of the largest Music Week’s held in Canada this year! The official program guide was jam-packed with dozens of events hourly (Held at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and all over the city.)

Jointly presented by San Rafael and Amsterdam Brewery-I don’t even know WHERE to begin-this Canadian Music Week was PACKED with current information; From the Mentors’ Cafe to the panels, to industry organization exhibitors (SOCAN, MROC,FACTOR)

It was refreshing to see all the various organizations that work behind the scenes to assist artists in bringing forth new-ish ways of tackling the good ole industry…..

Their app was quite good! I loved the high touch accessibility of the app and it was much easier to navigate than look through the program and section it off with post-its like I did in the past…..or maybe I like apps. My favourite was the scheduling tool! You know where to be and at what time……

Blockchain

With the app I found Blockchain Music:Set It and Forget It,You’re Getting Paid it’s been a hot topic for a minute and this was a conversation circulation at ADE2017! Panelists (Dino Celotti,Jason Robert,Jesse Grushack,Ritesh Patel and Steven Masur) all part of the Music Production and Indie Label industries,collectively explained Blockchain and how it benefits the artists and the cascading industry as a whole. It’s great to see that many panels across the board had a heavy focus on the future of the industry with all the new talent and new technology. It’s interesting to see how they’ll connect and grow to make things a little more efficient (especially for the artist.)

My takeaway from this presentation: Blockchain could work if implemented correctly by making sure who gets paid at what point in the process of the file sharing process-and that this is a huge task and a bit of a lengthy process.

Lemme re-iterate here: The idea of being able to move assets between artists or from business to business in a seamless process, can make distribution simpler. With Blockchain promotion is still primary and editing and recordings can’t be remixed or altered. Blockchain is great for tracking transactions and artists still maintains rights to their music.

I ventured over to the SOCAN,!eDDS and travel booths-What’s travel got to do with it? Hundreds of people came through all week (May 7-13, 2018) especially very specific cities all over the U.S. and Canada. What makes this so important is that the cities closest to us all play a role in boosting the travel,tourism and music industries!

Part of the infrastructure built around the music industry depends not only on the talent, businesses and establishments but it may partially coincide on the neighbouring cities closest to us.

Discover America located in Mississauga,Ontario in conjunction with city states nearby- ‘promotes U.S. Travel and Tourism to Canadians in Canada. They offer ‘a variety of initiatives that connect travel and tourism stakeholders on both sides of the border’
Hotels, travel agents and Motor Coach Airlines are members of this organization.

I spoke to Dream America Canadian representative and Montreal native Pedro Barbosa who delved a little more into the topic of music festival tourism and the mandate in place for the cities involved in boosting their travel and tourism initiatives for any of the music festival seasons. Barbosa mentioned that ‘most of these places present today have routes covered by Air Canada or Porter Airlines-so there’s the routes that bring Canadians and Americans from all over the country, it gets the word out across the country and it’s kind of like a trade and exchange…..some of the places exhibiting here at #CMW2018 are even closer to Montreal than Toronto is’.

We talked about the benefits of visiting cities that have broad musical varieties. He’s big into Jazz and Metal but some city scenes he feels ‘are much smaller and there appears to be less of a fan base even when the scene is popular in that city.’

Barbosa did mention though that ‘when it comes to niche [music] markets, it’s the markets themselves that don’t always reach tourist outlets. Tourism boards tend to focus on specific genres and in order for Tourism Boards to present music venues,events and seasonal programs in their plans and more liaisons can be formed in the future to promote all music across the board.

All representatives for each city/state were highly informative and provided tons of info on the vibrant nightlife for each of these cities. Surprisingly,Portland has a very vibrant Underground House scene and Choose Chicago (sister city to Toronto,) representative spoke in detail about Chicago’s House and Underground scenes…..it’s looks like a coincidence that just a few days ago it was announced that there would be a lunch hour dance party at Daley Plaza! (Yaassss Chicago!)

Portland – The cities represented at this year’s CMW all had one thing in common: thousands of Canadians commute from all over Canada to all these places-each booth was set to highlight their musical influences,entertainment and nightlife. I spoke to Director of Content Strategy Karen Martwick about Portland’s offerings and was presented with information about Craft Beer, Independent Design both Interior and Graphic by Independent Artists. The other booths held tons of information for Canadians on: Myrtle Beach, NC (undergoing major reconstruction), Georgia (Explore Georgia-Macon/Decatur and other historic sites.) And finally Austin,Texas. I look forward to delving into their Underground scenes in the future!

!Earshot for Indie Artists !Earshot Digital Distribution (!eDDS) really stood out among all the booths because of its slant on music distribution.Partially funded by the NCRA (National Campus & Community Radio Association)  It’s an online platform that is designed to get music from the Canadian music industry to the Canadian College campus and community radio sector.) With so many platforms internationally available in 2018 it’s easy to overlook a distribution system like this. Canadian College and University radio is still a powerful method to chart Canadian music and with Canadian Pride at it’s all time high over the last few years, I think this is an essential resource alongside all other local and global platforms. Over 90 stations are on this roster in May 2018.

Independent artists will be able to fully access this database this September. The cost is $7 per song and $50 per album! College Campus radio is still one of the most powerful outlets for pushing new and local music.  The list will grow by September especially after Canadian Music Week-check out the details here: I highly recommend any new or existing artists getting their feet wet and/or would like to do a little more national radio promo…..Tap into this resource as a starter or accompanying promotional tool.This is exciting!

Late Night Delights

What I missed: the Drake Underground with Amber Mark (her vocals possess Rihanna’s abruptness and Sade’s familiar sounding velvety Contralto. Live Nation artist tickets were sold out right away-no luck in May, I’m sure she’ll be visiting Toronto again!

What was recommended: Taiwan Beats (ABAO) Aljenljeng, JADE EYES and Dizparity

What I enjoyed: Ottawa MC @draemusic. He closed out for two of T.O.s hottest crooners: Tika and Sophia Danai! That night was electrifying (TIKA, HMLT,Sophia Danai and BAYLA.)  Drae laid some strong lyrics with a very. live. band. I’m lovin’ the live band and MC sound all over again!

Can’t wait to hear what next year’ll bring!

DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, Travel

In the Land of Windmills and Dance Music: 11 Things a House Head Should do at #ADE2017

25 years in the making and it shows! I was looking at where to visit and I chose the Netherlands (Amsterdam Dance Event) mostly because of their emphasis on technology. Amsterdam has been known to be forward thinking and many steps ahead in the way they run their society among other things…….Amsterdam Dance Event describes itself as ‘the leading electronic music platform and the biggest club festival in the world for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres’.

I absolutely admired ADE’s strong support for all genres. They welcome all sorts of DJ culture-regardless of colour, gender and preference.What I loved the most is the way the city embraced  & all the artists,press,delegates that were participating! There were posters,stickers and promo EVERYWHERE!

I personally loved this scene so much and in several days I took in some DNB, Classic,Deep, Tech and Afro House-it was all-inclusive. It was crazy fun! I met all kinds of people-all music enthusiasts from all over the world in town for ONE thing: music! I met some of the same people at many events. Some enthusiasts from Belgium asked me where I was headed because they were so used to checking out the same artists everywhere.

Before and After a Music FestivalI truly wished I had gone a few years prior. I can’t wait until they expand even more. Jokes aside with memes depicting festival burnout, after the 6 hour flight from Toronto to Schipol Airport it was not tiring at first…… but after 48 hours………with all the excitement and party line-up-I crashed!

 

The one thing that really caught my attention was the Health and Wellness program dedicated to festival burnout and Dance Music/Club Culture. With all the networking events,panel discussions and parties-there were daily yoga and meditation sessions available for whoever needed it. Panel discussions like  [Protecting Mental & Physical Health for Fans & Professionals], and “Who is Responsible for the Mental Health of an Artist?” are very important discussions to be had in any industry.

I was floored by the holistic/health and wellness shops on every corner-shops all over the city carrying products I still have to order online lol! From sprinkles on buttered toast and fresh fruit and smoothies on Albert Cuyp Straat……the contrast was so refreshing. Everything was within walking distance-once you get the subway/streetcar line down pat-you can get anywhere within minutes. A sleek UBER from Schipol Airport takes you to the main city in a 15 min car ride!

The drivers, airport staff and city all expectedly ask you if you’re there for ADE and they have tons of information at their fingertips to help you navigate the city! (LOVE IT!) October is a bit chilly so bundle up with layers and your favourite walking shoes!

DRUGS and ADE! Everyone is aware ADE exists here and speak highly of the event. All drugs are tested before they are brought into venues to avoid injury and/or death! I highly respect this approach because Dance is often intertwined with hard drugs and this is a primary method to eradicate the misconception behind it.Total props!!!!!

Testlocaties-ADE-2017They push for body positive health awareness. I praise their drug education and push for ‘healthier’ usage instead of the ‘war on drugs’.

As drugs are often synonymous with club culture they do encourage safe usage and responsibility for fellow party-goers. It’s impressive.

All aspects of the scene are considered, and openly discussed. Room is made available to talk about the future of the industry. Panel discussions covering technology from equipment- to vinyl’s revival all had a space to showcase,teach and exchange ideas. ADE University teamed up with labels to discuss how they can improve websites, apps and ticket sales to boost revenue and allocate funds in an organized fashion.

I’m not sure if it’s organization is a Dutch thing or that it’s 25 years in the making, but whatever they are doing is beyond music for music’s sake.

I did find their app a little complicated to maneuver and also found it hard to navigate some of the workshops and networking locations around the city. However, all the flags and physical landmarks labelled everywhere made up for the app. I really wanted to attend more events but there are so many programs happening at the same time and back to back that by week’s end-I knew I’d be coming back! All these years I’d only stopped over at Schipol Airport and was finally able to visit and was  so grateful for!

The highlights of the week were the Detroit Love Party (Mirko Loko,Waajeed,Carl Craig,Kenny Larkin,Stacey Pullen,Kevin Saunderson and Moodyman) EPIC partay.

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Detroit Love 2

One of the final night parties at Paradiso (Louie Vega, Joey Negro, Francois K,Space Dimension Controller,Prins Thomas,Amine K,Beesmunt Soundsystem,Jan van Kampen) was memorable!

PARADISO

Honourable mentions go to the guys over at Cuisine 020 (Bar Karakter)-DJ Migosy (Offering Recordings), DJ Andrew Foley (Deep Rooted Soul), and AMW Gill Charleston-it was a tight-knit LIVE joint! Had a great time! I’m sure by October this year………

11 things to do in Amsterdam (during ADE ) if you’re a House Head or purveyor of Dance Music

  • Go to the Amsterdam Dance Event, check out as many genres as you can……
  • Take naps in between events-you’ll wake up refreshed for your next workshop
  • Go to the artist panels/talks (they are so informative and inspirational)
  • Check out the good eats (so many amazing restaurants-if the locals are in it- it’s the shit!)
  • Buy some records, take in new music say hello to your fave and upcoming DJs (the environment is so chill out there!)
  • Club Hop, there are so MANY amazing events, all on the same night, check out all of them!
  • Purchase tickets in advance from home (they sell out FAST-months in advance), make sure you can actually attend all the events once you arrive!
  • Check out the Heineken Museum
  • Go to a local Coffee House and meet some interesting people, try out the green (if you feel like it!) It feels fabulous to be at a place where there are no issues with green treats-you’ll find many,many,many strains and flavoured paper 🙂
  • Don’t forget to browse in as many weed shops as you can-Many of the shops get most of their best strains from Canada (betcha didn’t know that!) *wink,wink
  • Link up with people who you’ll be able to work with later on-you just never know!!!!

Bravo #ADE2017 see you people at #ADE2018!