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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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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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!

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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!

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

Establishments, Food, Health & Wellness, Knowledge, theshineprjct, Toronto

It’s That Time of Year Again…..1 month to go…….

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Even though corporations have vast collaborations with food banks to donate food on a grand scale and they are in every position to do what we can’t do financially; it’s people like you and I that add a personal touch to giving.

There are many things you can do as an individual to stay grounded. Staying grounded is something you should do regularly to remind yourself who you are, where you could be and what you want life look like internally. A great way to live your life is one where you’re giving of your time, efforts and hands to those in need-especially those that will appreciate it!

As a high school student I volunteered at the Y and loved teaching kids sports! I designed simplified Basketball, Soccer and Volleyball activities for really young kids. I loved watching kids progress with their motor skills and confidence over a year’s time-it was so rewarding! At the local hospital I’d be helping operating room patients fill out their paperwork when they could not understand the information or did not have next-of-kin with them when they checked in!

Those moments I’ll always remember. For the last few Christmases-I would call around and sign up with different organizations to help out for soup kitchens and/or food banks and the waiting lists are so long because so many want to help out this time of year. Early last Fall, I called the Daily Bread Food Bank and asked if they needed any people and they did!

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I reached out before Canadian Thanksgiving and glad I checked in a lot earlier. Just like food donations and hands, it’s better to start early. Did you know #DailyBreadTO supplies other food banks in Toronto with food/supplies/preserves? This insures that all neighbourhoods get an equal measure of what’s needed instead of running out-especially this time of year!

Apart from feeling good about helping others, the most rewarding part was seeing some of the same families every week who feed their children and are truly grateful for what’s available. Some of the other volunteers were so kind, dedicated and gracious. Once I got to know everyone, I got to hear their stories. Many people in the city are making ends meet and a few extra things make a huge difference.

The Food Bank is set up to look and feel like an actual grocery store to remove the ‘ration’ style of the Food Bank process and each customer can shop like they should. Volunteers are waiting to help bag the groceries and customers know how much they are permitted to receive!

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I lived in Etobicoke for almost 7 years and had no idea that Daily Bread Food Bank was on Islington Ave! I’m writing this not to promote volunteerism or helping out during the holidays but mostly to encourage food donation all year round. Once the holidays are over-shelves are bare. Many items running out quickly are things like diapers, wipes, ensure, milk, eggs, produce, laundry detergent, toilet paper and toiletries.  Anything that is used daily or weekly is so needed.  After talking to so many people, when the holidays have passed, it’s tougher to retain enough stock to go round.

There are so many corporations who bring their employers in for food sorting and packaging marathons to raise money for the Food Bank and those events are always high energy with good music and live DJs! (That’s my favourite part.)

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One thing I found touching was seeing patrons check labels for calories, sodium,  ingredients and expiration dates. They are just as conscious about what they are eating as the next person! Give what you can of course BUT think about the health of your fellow human beings.

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For me personally, food donation and donation in general has now taken on a whole new meaning. I give outside of the common holiday gift giving times, I give whether or not there’s a dire need or disaster and I try to give what’s necessary besides the usual donation items.

It was an incredible experience. Have a Happy Holiday! Have a wikked 2018!

-shine

 

Beauty, Fashion & Beauty, Food, Health & Wellness, Holistic Health, women & entrepreneurship

Naturals for Naturals: An All Natural Product Marketplace!

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Awesome grassroots brands with amazing stories, make healthy living effortless! Living naturally becomes essential when chemicals and toxicity reach high levels. #naturals4naturals is one of those brands holding this philosophy!

 

FOR NATURALS ONLY: @naturals4naturals launched an all natural marketplace FOR NATURALS ONLY.  That means only products with all natural ingredients. 🌿🌿🌿
Go to www.naturals4naturals.com to shop all natural products for men, women, babies, and pets.  You can also sign up as a vendor. (Link in the bio @naturals4naturals)
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Our Story: 1 daughters and 1 mother were tired of checking the labels of “natural” products and still seeing so many ingredients that were not truly “natural,” so they came together to create Naturals 4 Naturals by IveyDale. We are a team of 3 women collectively known as IveyDale (our last names + mother’s maiden name) who are committed to adding more natural & organic products to our kitchen and medicine cabinets.
Why Naturals 4 Naturals? For me (Amber the oldest daughter), it started when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2012. I could no longer afford to put chemicals into my body and I started changing my diet. Because of my health concerns, I started looking at labels like a hawk. The sad reality, which many of you already know, is that a lot of our food is extremely toxic. If you have a natural, organic, or vegan product line and you would like to partner with them, contact them at http://www.naturals4naturals.com/
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DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, Knowledge, Manifesto, Movers & Shakers, Music, New York, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto

Manifesto 11 – Toronto (June 2017)

It’s with the utmost pride that I can say Toronto’s got an organization devoted to Urban Arts & Culture. Something I’ve always supported and it’s where my musical roots came from. Artists like Maestro,Kardi,Julli Black,Ghetto Concept and Dream Warriors is what I knew. I’ll always love Hip-Hop no doubt but I turned away when outlets remained bare.

I was so frustrated that I even started a talent showcase with fellow York U Undergrad (Dj Nana) we hoped to provide a platform for unsigned hype from Singers to Battle Rappers to Poets and it ran for a minute. We even tried to start an Urban Media Arts Association-but the work and support back then was bleak.

As I took stock of the many years learning about the music scene in Toronto, I started with my first internship at what was Flow 93.5 and from there I became a NXNE and Honey Jam volunteer to promoting parties and events over at CHRY college radio station. Manifesto is the evolved and growing version of what I’ve always hoped for.

An organization like @Manifesto_TO is something to be incredibly proud of. To see artists,acts and personalities rally around an incredible festival that’s put Toronto on the map (permanently) is quite amazing. With Canadian exports like the Biebs,Drake,Tory,Party Next Door,Weekend,Tika,Slakah,Majid Jordan and the list gets longer….. we’ve got so many more to put on display!

If you haven’t purchased tickets to anything; look for something and become a part of Toronto’s rich ‘Urban Culture’ landscape. Find an art installation, find a concert.Hit up the Opening/Closing Party and Artists Panel. If Urban isn’t your thing check it out, you’ll be blown away. Here’s the website: http://mnfsto.com/

This weekend the #theSHINEprjct is pretty excited to be stationed over at Echo Beach not just as a volunteer,intern or avid concert goer but a part of the festival reppin’ Toronto at Manifesto 11. Here’s to another groundbreaking decade!

Stay social:

Socials
Twitter: @Manifesto_TO
Instagram: @Manifesto_TO
Hashtag: #Manifesto11

 

Establishments, Fashion, Fashion & Beauty, Movers & Shakers, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

Studio Fitzroy Dress Rentals in Toronto

I’m proud of these ladies because from a vision they had they created a very savvy business for fashionistas wanting to spruce up their look for multiple occasions. Looking for a few dresses but don’t wanna spend more money? You get to spend more money on makeup, shoes, a handbag and hair! Not just any kind of dress-but very high quality, high fashion on trend pieces.  I walked in there and it looked beautiful. Right away I saw Carrie Bradshaw’s closet. Racks and racks of beautiful dresses.Flowers,velvet,chiffon,silk. Absolutely, Amazing!

 

Studio Fitzroy’s assistant asked me where I was going, when I was going and what my size was. She pulled together two racks of items and offered me some Champagne. On a lazy Sunday afternoon-why not? There were dresses in the pile she gave me that I felt right away I didn’t wanna try AT ALL-but she urged me to try. I tried the ones I didn’t like first. Surprisingly they all looked amazing.The assistance is great! The two dresses I chose: For Love and Lemons Ornate Velvet Mini Dress 100.00 CAD for (4 days) and retailing at $800 and Glamourous UK’s Dynasty Dress at 60.00 CAD for (4 days) retailing at $150! Excellent choices for the holidays!

 

When was Fitzroy established exactly and why a dress rental biz?

Fitzroy is 5 years old, but we’ve only been a rental business for less than a year. We were previously just a regular clothing boutique selling clothing online and at seasonal Pop-Ups several times a year. Our first one was in Yorkville back in September 2011, and since then we’ve been hovering around the Queen West and Ossington area where we’ve established a good following.  Over the years as social media’s influence grew, we noticed women didn’t want to wear the same thing twice anymore, and that they were sick of spending a ton of money on dresses that would just sit in their closet taking up space. So we decided to test out the rental concept and it turned out there was a huge demand.  It’s more fun,more affordable,better for the environment ; just makes more sense for so many reasons, so making the switch seemed like a no-brainer!

How is Fitzroy different from the others in Toronto? (i.e. Rent, Frock, Repeat, Rent The Runway)

We definitely have our own unique style, we call it boho-glam. There are certain brands we carry that have that edgy, cool-girl bohemian vibe for sure, a very Californian / Australian look. We’re also different in that you don’t need an appointment to come in and try on the dresses, just pop in anytime during store hours!

I visited the shop while it was a pop up located on Ossington. Why go from a Pop-Up to a full-fledged shop? (the new shop is beautiful by the way!!!!!!)

We’ve been a Pop-Up for 5 years as I mentioned, trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the brand. Once we landed on the idea of rentals we knew we needed to find a permanent home for the collection and create a welcoming, intimate space where women would feel comfortable coming in to try on the dresses. We wanted to make it feel like you’re at your best friend’s house trying on dresses, and that’s the feedback we get about the space most often – it makes us so happy!

What brands do you carry and how do you choose? Do designers approach you or vice versa?

It works both ways but we are very picky and selective about what brands we carry.They all have to fit in with our unique style/vibe, and each piece needs to be something special and unique, that you wouldn’t necessarily see everywhere.

Who’s your target market? Who did you anticipate that would become your target market-any surprises with the types of customers you’ve attracted?

Our target market is largely the same as when we were a clothing store; 20 and 30 something young professional women with a packed calendar and social schedule and a great sense of style.The Queen West girl essentially. However we’ve also had lots of dresses rented by younger and older women – which we love! Fitzroy is for everyone, and we’ve had clients in their teens up to their 70s!

What kind of events do people rent dresses for?

All kinds! Weddings are the most popular in the summer when everyone has at least a few on the horizon, then there are Birthdays, Bridal Showers, Bachelorette Parties, Engagement Parties, Photo Shoots, Trips, Awards shows, Film Premieres (we were slammed for TIFF), Charity Balls, Galas or just something as simple as an anniversary dinner or date night.

Who are your fave local designers?

We love Marika Brose, we have a ton of her pieces, lots of super fun details like feathers and sequins! Also Narces has some beautiful feminine pieces and Jordan de Reuiter makes the most beautiful tulle dresses – we have a few different styles.

What are your fave fashion pieces? Dresses and fashion accessories? (A must have for you.)

My personal go to is a 70s Kaftan! I have quite the collection that i wear in summer with sneakers and big sunglasses. In terms of the shop, we love really flowy, easy to wear pieces in fun colourful prints. The racks are a rainbow of colour when you walk in, and that’s just how we like it.

What’s in store for Studio Fitzroy for 2017?

We’re working on getting in some new styles, definitely more gowns and dressier pieces and a lot more options for our large and plus size ladies. Stay tuned!

To check out what they’ve got before you go try on what they’ve got visit them over at https://www.shopfitzroy.com/collections/rentals. Follow them on social IG or Twitter @studiofitzroy

Dresses can be booked in advance or same-day, either in the studio, online or over the phone at 416 901 6572.

Studio Fitzroy Dress Rentals is located in Toronto at 1227 Dundas Street West, Upper Floor The SHINE prjct wishes Ang and Jules all the best this year and beyond!

 

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Food, Gifts, House Music, Japan, Okinawa, Osaka, restaurants, Travel

Return to Japan!

#10yearslater

I remember being interviewed after applying for this teaching job and not knowing what to expect….they asked me where I wanted to work and I told them straight away Tokyo. They weren’t sure that I’d like Tokyo because it was expensive and overcrowded. Okay. I knew I wanted to be some place where the nightlife was amazing and where I’d never have a shortage of stuff to do BUT I knew then that Osaka’s where I wanted to be.

The interviewer showed me a map and pointed out the distances between cities and showed some of the main attractions of each major city. He made mention that all if not most of Osaka’s comedians, musicians, artists and entertainers came from there and I knew that was the better option. He had lived in that city he told me that they had a MASSIVE Tower Records store and that I could walk right in and lounge there like a Chapters/Indigo or Barnes & Noble. I read up about Osaka but none of the textbook info got my attention as much as the recruiter did that day!

When I returned to Toronto I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to go back and wasn’t too sure if I’d visit again. Ten years was the perfect time!

2006-2016

Special thanks to Sojourner Travel (8A-1444 Dupont St in Toronto) for the research! So many very different things I experienced the first time while I lived there. My StepMom came with me…..we had some awesome memories together. The trip to Japan was something we tried to plan for years BUT 2016 was the perfect time!!!

Finding Your Flight

This trip took a few months to plan. I started looking at flights in July for October. The air carrier options provided by the travel agent were China Eastern, Air Canada, Air China, ANA or Korean Air. Some of the rates were EXCELLENT. But after checking and browsing I saw the layovers were a day or more. China Eastern had a whole day stay so I looked into roaming the streets once we arrived to see what it was like in China but (in order to stay a day or more in China a visa is required.) Air Canada was the best option. The 13 hour flight went from Toronto–Tokyo-Osaka. Instead of booking additional travel from Toronto I decided to book within Japan. It’s so much cheaper and a little more accessible. I asked one of my good friends within Japan (Hey,Kina Jackson!Thanks so much!) and she recommended Vanilla Air and Peach Air ! Vanilla Air didn’t go to many places that I wanted and I didn’t see Okinawa on the list. The prices on Peach Air are amazing! Depending on the day,prices range anywhere from $100-$250 roundtrip! Naha, the capital city is quite small so the airport is tiny and the flights are infrequent. If you are interested in booking on Peach Air-be mindful about the way you book when you select the day of the week, location and times-the website is a little tricky.

I looked at my itinerary and realized that it was the same month and week I had left Toronto 13 years prior. (insert nostalgia here.) I really hoped I’d be able to see friends that I had contacted in such a short time. I saw so much shit I didn’t notice the first time around so it was like visiting a brand new place. There were English speaking support staff EVERYWHERE and at every info desk!! I was so concerned about my limited Japanese….I didn’t have to use it as much and when I did-I forgot how much I remembered!! Props to Google Translate for assisting us in areas where people don’t talk to tourists as much!

Japan Airlines

 

Our flight arrived into Haneda (Tokyo) Airport and after an hour we got a flight connection to Osaka (Hitami) Airport! The connecting flight was quick and the food was awesome (choice between Japanese or Western cuisine).

Book Your Accommodations From Home
At the time of the trip I forgot that Air BNBs were not legal in Japan. The Japanese government is reviewing their decision to have the business operate legally within the country. Be prepared to call ahead once you arrive to your city in Japan. The addresses listed on the website booking aren’t the same once you arrive and Taxi Drivers are not too helpful when they can’t find the address you listed. Call your Host to be sure that the address listed is the one you will be staying at. It helps you save time.

I went back to the old office building I used to work in (Downtown Namba, Osaka. The (Nova) office is no longer there but the building is still there. Lots of hustle and bustle at the OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal). In #10years Osaka has become busier, more densely populated and more tourist friendly! The underground walkways (Shotengui) are filled with flags from all over the world. This wasn’t the case before.

Osaka is one of those cities where there is ALWAYS something going on and there is ALWAYS somewhere to eat.

We visited an awesome Indian Restaurant that I used to frequent with friends. Whenever we wanted a very heavy and spicy portion of food we used to go to Asiyana. Surprisingly, Asiyana was still open! It’s not that the restaurant wasn’t good it’s that foreign food restaurants don’t always stay open for long. Asiyana doesn’t cater to the Japanese palate.It’s spicy, flavourful and authentic.

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The Balls……

Osaka is known for it’s Tako-Yaki balls. They are battered and crepe textured with bits of Octopus, shrimp and a parsely like seasoning. In that crepy textured batter they put puffed rice, green onions, chopped octopus. This batter is poured into circular shaped grills, oiled so they don’t stick and they are rotated as they cook with little skewers. After they are removed  and drizzled with Teriyaki Sauce and fish flakes.It tastes amazing! It’s had been a long time since I had them.

 

Mobile Phone Rental/Pocket Wi-Fi

Most Air BNBs should have pocket wi-fi units. IF it does- it’s great and saves you money and time. The pocket wi-fi can be carried around the city with and you can hook your mobile phones to it to browse the net or use Google Maps. Pocket wi-fis look like old Nokia flip phones and must be charged daily. Not all airports have rental kiosks/booths so one of the first things to do is find a kiosk or station in the city. I used my phone quite a bit to find buildings, shrines, shopping malls and restaurants. My bill when I returned was HUGE! Your phone carrier may not have a great international plan especially for a country like Japan. Japanese phone carriers Docomo,Vodafone,Sofbank all have centres to set up your SIM cards and phone rentals. Find the best for the duration of your stay. I wish I knew……

Okinawa Was a Last Minute Add-On

I found some amazing Air BNBs all over the island but settled for an apartment on the main road in Naha, Wakasa-Dori Wakasa (若桜町, Wakasa-chō)  has everything on it food shops, 24 Hour Conbinis (convenience stores), clubs, the post office (where you can use your international ATM card for withdrawals) and many, many clubs, Karaoke Bars.

Downtown Okinawa

Naha Port is One Straight Path (Everyone told us to go straight)

This main road runs straight through from the highway from the airport to Naha Port. Naha Port can be reached on foot in less than 15 mins. All the Ferry boats that travel to the smaller beaches and islands near Naha leave 3 times a day! Passengers can choose whether they’d like to stay overnight for a few nights or return the same day with a Travel and Tourism board of Naha. There are money booths that look like ATMS where you can check for the exchange rate for whatever currency you have and exchange it for Japanese Yen! It’s such a lifesaver-you get the exact rate for whichever country’s currency you need!

Spending a whole day there felt like a whole weekend! What can I say about it? It’s beautiful! I’m not sure why I never visited there when I lived there. It’s pretty breathtaking. It’s an island next to an island.  The ferry boat takes about an hour and 45 minutes and it’s a comfortable ride on a fully equipped mini cruise liner. The cost is about $60 CDN with a television and luxury seating. You can sit indoors (AC) and outdoors (AIR). Going from the urban city to the Tropics on one island is amazing! When the Ferry boat arrives you find your seat, secure your day bag and go to sleep or enjoy the sun!

Tokashiku Village

Shuttle vans and taxi drivers are waiting for guests to drive you to one of the 8-10 beaches across the coast. It’s not a long ride but depending how much time you have it’s an amazing experience to visit at least more than two!We stopped at the first beach and there were at least 10 people on the beach.

 

 

The Food is Amazing

My favourite restaurant was an Okinawan style place. The special thing about Okinawa is it’s island location, history and close proximity to Taiwan. The food is AMAZING. Spicy,full of variety and unique from the usual Japanese cuisine! So tasty I went there twice! Each set of tables in the restaurant were like mini Izakayas (Gastropub) with curtains (small food pubs). What an incredible culinary adventure! Look at the food! We headed over to Kokusaidori (国際通り, Kokusaidōri, literally “International Road”) All souvenirs are there! Every souvenir that you can find signature to Okinawa is on this street. You have to walk up and down the street to compare prices. You’ll find sea salt products; cakes, cookies, chopsticks,Blue Seal Ice Cream German Bundt Style Cake and all kinds of tropical destination clothing. One of Okinawa’s gifts to Japan is the Okinawan Sweet potato or ‘Imo’-it’s one of the tastiest things EVER! There are samples of those cookies EVERYWHERE!

 

 

Records/Vinyl

I set out to check out the nightlife and I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked even. Most if not all venues look like dive bars from the outside and hold at least 200+ people. While walking down Wakasa St. I stumbled on the area’s ONLY record shop. It’s cute! Naminoue Record Shop is well equipped with all genre CDs and vinyl with new shipments arriving everyday. They run most of the city’s block parties, street festivals and club nights. I went to most of their events all weekend while  I was there. Local and international talent come through all month. I was shocked and excited to sift through their selections. I went straight for their Japanese artists and production section and found VERY good stuff! I’m mostly interested in Japan only releases! The place is pretty chill with all kinds of people passing through. I returned twice to pick up goodies. The shop was a lot smaller than King Kong in Osaka but the selection was very unique. I picked up a few mix CDS of really great DJs from other cities in Japan! They are excellent at promoting their local artists around town, in other parts of Japan and to tourists…..there’s a little photography display and artwork with t-shirts; all kinds of stuff! There’s a little DJ booth for live DJs to play out the hottest tunes! One of the highlights of my vacation! I went to a great party- the guest DJ Moochy Juzu (Crosspoint Japan/Juno Records) played the stuff I loved. Four all you SOulFul and Deep House heads. He played Josh Milan, Osunlade, Vikter Duplaix and added in his own production which was interesting. It’s Tribal House but from a more Okinawan and Traditional Japanese sound. I was surprised. IT was very unique and to hear a set that spoke to Japanese Heads was refereshing. Here’s his SoundCloud if you wanted to check it out. He’s an excellent DJ/Producer!!

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Department Store Shopping

Visiting department stores in Japan is quite an experience. When you’ve been to one of them in Japan, you’ll never look at them the same again! It is a fully loaded one stop shop. They’ve got prepared food in the basement. All kinds of foods! All Flagship store brands are definitely available all over Japan! The best and most inexpensive things to look for are cosmetics, Body Care tools,perfume and face care!  Make sure that the day you go around any of these shops-make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and dedicate a whole day or more to look around. These department stores are enormous! One of the biggest Department Stores in the City (Yodobashi Camera) has the most products and best prices in the city! The recliner section is filled with people taking naps and ‘trying’ out the merchandise!

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Tourists get tax discounts at some stores and either the taxes are taken off ahead of time-and you’re given your taxes back in cash. Goods are re-packaged and prepared for your departure. If a store chain doesn’t offer the tax breaks right away, you will be given a map to locate a city tax centre. This is done so it’s easier to clear customs at the airport.There are tax-free stations at most large retailers where you can claim your taxes on some purchases. At those stations associates check them and pre-wrap them for your trip and a clearance form is stapled to your passport.  It’s a great system!

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I could go on about my trip BUT definitely it’s a country worth visiting. #10yearslater it’s still growing and still as fascinating as it was then. It’s great to visit again when you’re no longer a resident. You notice things more. Late October is an amazing time to visit. The weather is fabulous! It’s like July. Pack light, pack Summer stuff. Pack a few great sweaters and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Eat as much as you want! You’ll do a lot of walking! Have a great time!

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

House Music Series-Local-Installment 8-Ticky Ty & Miz Megs Make an Awesome Team! (Toronto)

No matter where we are there’s always a starting point…..these ladies here revisited memory lane to talk about how they started doing what they’re doing today!

Before the official interview I spoke to Ticky Ty and for some odd reason- I discovered some interesting facts. For those of you who actually know me I’d lived in Japan for a bit and after talking for a bit I learnt that she also lived there! She worked at a local franchise club/bar Sam and Dave’s. They had many locations all across the city and country and I too worked at that same location many years ago. She had lived in Fukuoka/Osaka and I lived in Osaka. Two really happening places in the Kyushu and Kansai areas- this was an awesome surprise!

Cool facts about Miz Megs:

o She met Ticky Ty at Andy Poolhall;she booked her for an all girl DJ line-up

o She just found out about the term ‘New Jack Swing’ this year! She’s loved it long time.

Some cool facts about Ticky Ty:

o Used to listen to Happy Hardcore and Chill out. Did you?

o She started with a 2 channel Stanton Mixer and Battle Mixer Turntables

What struck my interest was the energy they had behind the decks. I wondered what it would be like to talk with them. I’d been to their shows a few times-Li’lys, CODA and Geary Lane. You see, sometimes it’s not so much what they play or how they play…it’s the passion they put into what they do. It shows. They keep the crowd going. I’d seen them spin separately and finally side by side at Love Buzz this past July! They absolutely make a great team. They took a bit of time to chat about how they got started. I’m truly inspired. I asked them what keeps the passion for music going and eventually we talked about how it all started …..

Me: What’s you earliest connection to music?

Megs: I remember being 6 years old, listening to Dance music, pushing the couch aside and watching my reflection in the TV while my parents played cards with their friends. I just loved Pop-you know, Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul. I would turn on the Pirate Radio Sessions (Energy 108) and listen to Chris Sheppard! (I think everyone started with that.) I also danced Ballet from ages 3-16, that was very similar to Ticky Ty!

Ticky Ty: I started dance at Toronto Dance Theatre at 3 years old. All my early music connections were dance-related. ‘I went back to visit almost 24 years later and the same pianist and drummer was still there. Rhythm came naturally to me.

One thing I loved about talking with them is that they followed each others’ cues. You can see how connected they are. It’s then that I understood that these two had one of the foundational pieces that demonstrated a deep interest in music at such an early age.

Me:Which music era speaks to you the most? For me, I really Iike the 70s……

Miz Megs: 90s Euro and New Jack Swing. ‘I never knew there was a term for it until this summer’ I offered Blackstreet as the more well known groups that was known for this style in the 90s. She spent some time on Youtube listening to songs to see more groups. She never knew there was a term for it until this summer.

Ticky Ty: She says ‘Guys don’t laugh at me, but I really love the 20s. She mentioned the movie Chicago. And the truth is the 20s sound has been sampled quite a bit in Dance music. She is hilarious because she adds ‘ I probably wouldn’t do to well in that era or even be alive then. ‘I still really like Jazz and Swing.’

Me:When did you realize you were into House?

Miz Megs: Dancing at home and thinking I was in a club….’I wanted to be a GO-Go dancer’ and Ticky cheers her on and says ‘It’s not too late girl it’s not too late’ This was the interview highlight.lol

Ticky Ty: ‘For me it would be with an old friend of mine, we used to steal her older sister’s Happy Hardcore CDS and pick raspberries in the backyard and zone out.

Me:How did you both meet? Andy Pool Hall! They were both booked for an all girl Dj line up and Flipside/Andy suggested she ask Ticky for that night. Meg booked Ticky. ‘Thanks Flipside!!’

Me: Who do you wanna work with? Any production yet? ‘We’d love to work with Duro. ‘I had a song out with Jerome….We’ve worked with Flipside. Internationally they’d love to work with Chus and Ceballos and Channo.

Me: What kinda music are you both listening to right now?

Ticky Ty:‘Stuff comin out of Brazil… Groove to Light and all that dirty and hard stuff.(Okay!!!???lol) Megs-‘ Luciano is my all-time favourite but lately I have been especially inspired by Loco Dice. I love that hip hop flavor he adds to his sets.

Me:The one thing that comes to mind ladies; in the industry doing your thing spinning- Meeting people at the party, meeting people in and around the scene. What’s it like? You know, doing business?

They break it down to two trains of thought:

You get the ‘Wow, chicks that’s hot… let’s watch it OR ‘Oh mi gawd chicks;they’re probably gonna suck’…’You get a little bit of both. It’s either you don’t get the same sort of initial responses as with a guy. You’re either a chick or you’re a commodity. Or you suck. ‘You have to prove yourself past those barriers. Every. Fucking.Time. Which is fine-because every time we do it-we show what we can do…..’

Me: You ladies take what some would consider very sexy photos…..what’s up with that? They (the pics)look good by the way…

I got in shit for that a few weeks ago…..Meg said ‘someone called them out for showing side boob and abs’ they were told that on TRC….. that no one would be attending their gig because they actively/purposely used their bodies to sexually try to get a gig’. Their comment got destroyed by people defending us because they are just press PHOTOS and anyone who has actually seen us in person knows we usually wear baggy clothes and are so not like that. The guy eventually apologized. <<<interesting, yes.

Me: Wasn’t the gig already got?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty: Yes! We didn’t make the flyer. A group discussion ensued and one of our fans supporters told the person where to go….fans are awesome that way!

Me: Where can we find you ladies?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty:Nest, CZ (Comfort Zone) and various parties across Toronto or in cities out-of-town.

What do you both like about Dj’ing? Meg-‘The music and getting to be a part of something that has to do with the music you love….‘Just being there to dance. And creating a new sound with what you love.’

Ticky Ty:‘I love the connection I have with everybody. It’s really intense. You can almost feel the energy of this group of that people or that group of people. As long as you let go you get into a meditative thing. You can just feel it. Everyone moves as one. Not over thinking it. It’s really nice to be the catalyst of something like that. Spurring a movement, its healing for me and so many others.You can go to an underground party and a CEO of Microsoft can be dancing beside someone homeless. And it doesn’t matter. No one cares what you do in the daytime. No one asks.’ What do you do in the daytime?’ Meg says ‘I hate when people ask that’ they both agree. ‘Shut your face we’re dancing right now.’

It’s a challenge for the music/entertainment scene to really delve into current issues and/or politics but very necessary so I asked anyway:

In light of everything that has happened in the last week. (Orlando shooting) How do you feel about it as a musician/artist/House enthusiast?

Ticky Ty:I wanted to take it back to pride month because the House scene did come from the Black Gay Scene. She played the night and remarked at how special it was to spin for so many.’There are no cultural and sexual boundaries. We don’t give a shit about that stuff. We’re blessed to be part of an Underground Community that embraces everything. No cops standing around at the outdoor party. No one is being searched at the door. People are enjoying the music…..it’s such a gift….……The vibe is really connected. You can’t fake it. It’s visceral. You either don’t like it  or you totally enjoy it.And beats is their gift to us.Entertainment people don’t really like to make comments about political shit but they did! So much has happened since then…..

We’re half way through the year what’s in store for 2017? At the same time they answer: Production! That’s the next step, albums will happen once we tour and produce more!!!

Alright ladies, DO YOUR THANGS! You can find them on most social platforms! @DjTickyTy @MizMegs

Thanks so much ladies!! You both rock!

 

 

 

 

 

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

House Music Series -Typical Cat…everything bass. turntables only-LOCAL-Installment 6 (Toronto)

 

Typical Cat

It’s amazing to have a blast from the past……a lady I met about 7-8 years ago we talked about turntables and vinyl. We stayed in touch. Look at what she’s up to now…..

Who are you? DJ Typical Cat

What’s Her Story?

As far back as she could remember her Dad was a drummer. He collected records. Her aunt was a country music singer. ‘When I was younger I was listening to House Music and stuff…I’d turn on the radio and I would just feel it in my heart…stuff like Electric Circus or Much Dance…you know that kinda shit?’ When she first heard something she liked she says, ‘I felt it in my chest, I felt it in my heart…. in high school about grade 8 or 9, Freaky Flow was the first guy I heard of when it came to Jungle or Drum N Bass. In high school I heard his ‘World Domination’ album  and it got me hooked. I heard Nelly Furtado on a track with the drums and bass and I wanted to understand this type of music more. So I got into guys like Andy C, Dj Craze, Dj Hype. I’d always loved this music without knowing what it was. I wanted to know about it and I started to go to raves by myself and I just knew that I wanted to DJ and I was just there for that.

About her first gig…. Her very first event and it was bigger than she expected. This was one of  her very first BIG events at Velvet Underground. ‘I was nervous as hell but I had fun with it and opening up for Plastician was a huge deal for me because he was a DJ, I looked up to in so many ways.’ She noticed that people loved what she was doing. She mentioned that this is something that women go through. She remarked that women should be confident especially when wanting to pursue a thing like Dj’ing. Some people will like that. Focus on the positives.

About raves….I wasn’t going to party and do drugs. I would just watch what the DJ was doing- I just knew that I wanted to DJ.

What did you do the first time around? In grade 9 my mom asked me if I wanted to sign up for-those program books for summer classes. And right away I was like I’ll take that! Then in grade 11 when I had enough money, I bought tables!

How were those classes? What did you learn? ‘I took that class and actually Oscar ‘DJ Grouch’ was the first person to teach me how to use a turntable. He taught me VERY basic stuff-he taught me motions like scratching and stuff, not cuts but feeling it out with drums and using levels. He was an awesome connect because he’s pretty big in the city. Knowing him made me feel like I was on the right path. He wasn’t just some guy turned DJ. He was part of the scene, he was a great teacher. He would even give me records. I started with Hip hop and I went from that to Jungle.

 What kind of music do you like? ‘My heart’s with Drum N Bass. I love listening to the radio. I love top 40. I love funk. I love listening to things I’ve never heard. My sound right now is Bass.’ She plays unreleased dubs straight from producers-I love things that are brand new!

How’d you find your style?  It was a journey. It’s taken her a few years to know her musical taste. She plays a more Housier Bass style now but for awhile she went through a Jackin’ House style even. But really, mostly ‘I need that Heavy Bass…I think I found my sound at Plastician-it has the same BPM as House’ (Yes, it does.)

Working with Alan Lam-what’s that like? Her partnership with Alan Lam (Stranjah) didn’t just happen, It came after some time. ‘He’s got a wikked business sense and very passionate about his work. I’ve thrown parties with him and I know there’s a huge following. Regardless of that-I love this music! She is grateful for her crew because they know what they are talking about. They are pioneers of Jungle. It makes her feel confident.  When they’ve produced tracks he asks her opinion. She never questions his decisions when putting together events or tracks. She recalls her first ever event headlined party with Demuir which was a huge success.

About Vinyl and Serato ‘I really need to learn not to carry records everywhere that I spent so much money on. I went switched to Serato. It’s the next best thing. It’s like faking records. So now I just stick with Serato. It’s funny cuz I feel like I’m stuck in the past with all of this. People are all up on their shit with CDJs and all that. There are USBs wherever you go. Something about the CDJs are just not my thing….I’m a record and turntable person…it’s not the same feel. I need to feel it. People now know that if they’re booking me I won’t show up without turntables….I made it that way.’ She doesn’t care that it’s a hassle. ‘People have told me I wasn’t gonna make it anywhere because I insist on turntables. So many people say it’s not industry standard.’ She thanks and shouts out club owners who come through with turntables.

About Old Skool tunes…. Some old heads have said that they’ve heard some parts of her mixes/sets. They listen to her mixes and they say that the samples or funk records are from back in their B-Boy days…..’If I hear it and I like it and it’s usually from an older genre’.

Vocals? No vocals? ‘I like some singing but not too much of it. It must be subtle….not too overdone. It’s hard when you have a set with too many vocals. Actually, it’s just not my style. Sometimes I like vocals every 2 or 3 tunes. I usually like vocals at the beginning of my mixes because it draws attention to the crowd.’

How do you prep for a gig? ‘You overcome your nerves. Even if the bar is empty I used to get nervous but like always I’m still riding off of it. The rush you get from it is amazing. You break walls after the first gig. You reach out to people you don’t even know. People tell me they’ve downloaded my shit and bump it in their car. And I’m thinking…. I did that just for me….I’m still riding off the gig I did 2 nights ago’ lol

Your Mom and Cousin were at your last gig…..

She told her Mom to wear black to fit in. She thought it was everything that her Mom felt it would be. I talked to her about what my mother said also. It was something out of a movie. ‘I didn’t think my cousin was gonna stick around but she stayed ’til the end of the show!’ She remembers how her mom used to yell at her because all she would hear is Bass shaking the entire house and she’d tell her to stop. Shockingly she kinda yells out ‘Now she’s coming to my parties?!!!! It was very weird. I haven’t even heard her opinion yet. I’m so scared. I don’t even think she has an opinion it was just something for her to experience in the moment. It was amazing. My mom would ask me back in the day about the Bass shaking the walls. I think my mom was very proud of me.’

Cat, who do you wanna work with? She wants to work with anyone specifically with the people who throw Promise parties. She wants to bring her sound to Costa Rica. She sees herself in Europe. (Anywhere in the UK) and many of the people she works with are always touring there. We talked about the Underground and how our scene is quite different from across the pond. For example how progressive and genre flexible the musical tastes are.

Any advice to those in the creative field who want to venture into production, promotion, Dj’ing anything related to the industry/scene? (As a woman to the ladies out there what would you say?) Throughout our talk she kept referring to the old her…’. I was so concerned what others thought about the music I played-now I don’t give a shit’….You don’t always have to play for everybody else just play for yourself. The people who like it will enjoy it….!

How about people who have an original skill/sound….We talked about upcoming female producer Wondagurl she comments ‘I can guarantee you she’s doing shit she loves. I’m not big time nothing but I’m just doing it cuz I love it. I wasn’t ready for it before. I’m ready now. And all the things I’ve always wanted are coming to me. I love this music!’

Cat emphasizes….‘I can’t stress enough…you need to stop caring what other people think of you. Just do it. Reach out to whatever connection you have-because not everyone has them-and if you know even one person that’s into the same thing as you or if you know one person that you’ve looked up to, reach out to them’. She’s reached out to people from across the world on Facebook alone…. ‘It’s that easy, some are flattered and will do everything they can to help you. Take the plunge and just ask. She realizes that she’s the only person holding her back and if it’s meant to be it’ll come’.

Typical Cat spins next at Round Venue in Kensington Market, August 25th 2016

 

Thanks, Cat!

Check out her set Typical Cat – Live @ Rumpshakers Present AMIT + COMPA – July 2nd, 2016 on SoundCloud!

Vinyl Rainbow