i interviewed these guys (and why i love going to shows)

I’ve had some pretty good luck with interviewing bands I like.

Many music/entertainment journalists have to beg, borrow, steal and bribe their editors for that good “get” (don’t quote me on that – it’s just the perception I have of this industry).

But I haven’t.

How? Why?

First, it helps to work for an independent publication that is wholly dependent on unpaid* contributions from their writers to fill their mag. It’s hard for the higher-ups to say “No” to you. Not to say I take advantage of my editors-in-chief. I’m just saying that they’re more open minded about what you pitch.

Second, I go to a lot of shows.

Well, not a LOT – just, enough. I live in downtown Toronto, with the means to get around town, and I have a fairly flexible schedule. I have friends in the music industry and friends who enjoy going to shows with me (although I’m more than game to go to a show on my own), so I’m never lacking in reason or company.

How does this tie into my ability to get bands to talk to me?

I tend to go to shows of smaller bands, unsigned or signed, and I think there is some kind of mutual appreciation between the journalist and the artist in this case: the journalist knows the artist appreciates the chance to publicly talk about their music, and the artist knows that the journalist appreciates the chance to practise their craft and publish an article.

So usually, I’ll go to a show to see one band, and end up really liking a supporting act. I ask them if they have a publicist or manager present, and that’s where I get the ball rolling.

And although I’ve only done this a handful of times, I can genuinely say I’ve never had anyone turn me down.

My latest interview was with this charming band from Ireland, Nightbox. I saw them at Canadian Music Week and they blew me away. They’re a mix of Canadian, Irish and American boys who have had some pretty wild success for an unsigned band without a full-length album. They’ve toured with Lights several times, remixed a couple of her songs, performed at the Reading Music Fest, was a cast of Much Music’s “Discovered,” and had their EP produced by Seb Grainger from Death From Above 1979 and Al-P of MSTRKRFT, which was distributed by Last Gang Records.

For now, I’m grateful that I don’t have to bow to the wishes of a paying employer and still get to write about what I want to. But of course, I could just forego the whole steady-paycheck thing and live my life out as a freelancer. Who knows?

Til then, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.

*Press+1 recently started paying their writers for articles/reviews on Canadian cinema, thanks to a government grant!

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why ‘bill cunningham new york’ moved me

There’s something about fashion that has always fascinated me, and yet, I never could put my finger on it.  There’s the glamour, celebrity, couture, craftmanship, and fantasy – all things that drew me to fashion.

Bill Cunningham knows what makes him excited about fashion: the clothes.

There’s a scene in the film where Bill is outside of a fashion show in Paris, waiting to get in.  He’s patiently holding out his press pass to the “guardians” of the show (surely, a producer of some sort), and he is not getting the time of day from her.  Suddenly, a figure emerges out of the frame, at once ushering in Bill and reprimanding this producer saying, “Please, he’s the most important person in the world.”

The most important person in the world doesn’t believe he’s all that important.  He lives an incredibly modest life and has no flair for the extravagant. “I like very simple, down-to-earth, very basic things,” he explains.  In New York, his only mode of transportation is his Schwinn, he repairs his ponchos with duct tape, and wears a blue street cleaner’s smock whenever he’s shooting.  He admonishes wasteful behaviour and refuses to be owned by anyone. “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty, freedom – that’s the most expensive.”

It’s this jarring juxtaposition between such a humble and modest man and the subject(s) that he photographs.  One may wonder why he is so in love with fashion when his ethics seem to go against everything fashion stands for.

There’s a beautiful moment in the film when Bill is accepting the title of an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters from the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France (which he seems quite skeptical of).  In the last moment of his speech, his voice breaks as he explains, “It’s as true today as it ever was: He who seeks beauty will find it.”

Bill clearly finds beauty in individuality, evidenced by some of his favourite subjects to photograph: Anna Piaggi, Patrick McDonald, Iris Apfel…  But what I find so incredibly endearing and lovely, and of course – beautiful about Bill is himself.

He talks about how hard it is to be “honest and straight in New York,” but that he’s always trying to be so.  He won’t even accept a glass of water at high-profile events, because he wants to maintain his integrity and the integrity of the Times.  For him, objectivity is too important to be schmoozing with the socialites who all want their photographs taken by him (he scoffs at the photographers flocking to capture Catherine Deneuve – she wasn’t even wearing anything interesting!) He loves the $4 coffee and breakfast sandwich combo (“The cheaper the better!” he exclaims) and refuses to publish anything that would put anybody in a negative light.

He’s enigmatic without trying – he’s just not like the rest of us, so he just seems hard to understand.  But the strange thing is that he’s so simple, and that’s why we don’t get him.

After revealing that he attends church every Sunday, the filmmakers ask him, “Is religion an important component of your life?” Bill looks down, clearly holding back tears. When he finally does look up, he says, “I think it’s a good guidance in your life. Yeah, it’s something I need and… Whatever it is, everyone… you do whatever you do the best you can to work things out.  I find it very important, for whatever reason, I don’t know!” My heart is breaking at this moment, because as such as simple man, he seems to have such a heavy heart. I want to know what kinds of regrets he has.  Suddenly he breaks into a laugh and says, “As a kid, I went to church and all I did was look at women’s hats!”  For a moment, there’s a sense of relief, but he drops his voice again. “Later, when you mature – for different reasons.”

Whatever these reasons may be, I’m in love with this man who cups his hands around his ears to hear better and fearlessly navigates New York’s streets without a helmet.  He’s the antithesis of the often contrived fashion world but he never judges it.  He’s incredibly giving yet doesn’t seek much acknowledgment.

The President of the French Federation of Couture, talking about Bill getting the honour of being an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, puts it best, “Very deeply, I think, he doesn’t believe he deserves it.  That’s why he deserves it, even more.”

why did it take me so long to find this man?

I never browse the YouTube homepage for featured videos, because I like to stick to the channels I’ve subscribed to, but once in a while, I’ll get bored and see what’s new and trendy.

Today, under the “Music” section was an a capella cover of Rihanna’s “Only Girl”, and I LOVE boys that can sing a capella and look good while doing it. It’s unbelievably sexy.

I’m talking about Mike Tompkins, a music producer from London, Ontario. He’s super talented not only at beat boxing and singing, but being able to identify and interpret elements of a song and perform them with his vocals and mouth. It doesn’t hurt that he’s incredibly gorgeous. Too bad he’s married! Well, even Scarjo couldn’t keep Ryan Reynolds around, so I think it’s fair to say that I can keep hoping.

I really love his dorky dancing the most.

you gave it your all, but you’re not the girl we’re taking home, robyn.

In the midst of her tour, Robyn developed laryngitis.  In short, the concert I travelled from Montreal to attend was cancelled a few hours before it was slated to begin.

Cue tears.

Well, not really.  But I was incredibly disappointed, no doubt.  So I instead spent the evening with red wine, good friends, and Brazilian food (OMG I am so in love with this cuisine!)  Not a bad night.

Robyn did perform on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon the night before her Toronto show, so that’ll have to do until her concert is rescheduled.  Maybe it’ll be after Body Talk is released, which might actually make for a better show.

It breaks my heart when Jimmy says, “Catch Robyn live on Friday in Toronto!” after her performance.  Le sigh.

music maturity

When I was in “middle school” or “junior high” as you Americans would call it, I was so adamant on not being sucked into the bubble gum pop trend, and would be quite stubborn about my love for alternative rock, even though my knowledge of alt rock didn’t really go beyond Our Lady Peace.

Every self-respecting Canadian should own this album.

Don’t get me wrong; I really did love OLP back in the day, and I still love the name Raine, and I love that he and Chantal Kreviazuk are a super Canadian rocker couple with adorable children.  But I don’t cling onto my need to be “different” as much as I used to.  I suppose I thought it made me seem more mature than my friends who were hitting up the convenience stores every lunch hour to get the latest Spice Girls stickers.

Now, I can’t help but embrace the fact that I do love a good dance-pop song.  I think it all started with the fact that I began to drive nearly every day.  Driving is a lot more fun when listening to an upbeat song.  And then, the Spice Girls announced the reunion tour.  I totally jumped on that bandwagon.  I can proudly say that I attended the final concert that the Spice Girls ever performed together (their tour ended in Toronto).

Spice Girls at the ACC; their finale

And then, Britney went on tour for “Circus”, and my friend gave me tickets for Christmas.

brit brit at the ACC

So it all kept snowballing until I began to embrace my love for mainstream music.

I think as I’ve become more mature (for realz this time; not pretentious mature like Alex from Modern Family), I’ve come to accept that I like singing along badly in the car, or wanting to pump my fist at the club and mouth the words drunkenly to my friends (oh yeah, REAL mature).  My point is, I can still love my indie bands (holla, Copeland!) but embrace my silly dancey side (recent new love: Far East Movement).

one of my favourite albums, ever

So all that being said, I can’t wait to see Robyn in concert.   Her music and image has changed so much since the late 90s/early 2000s, but her position in the music industry still allows me to like her and be cool amongst my hipster friends (and all my uber trendy students).  Gotta love the proletarian claim to cool-dom.

she's too cool for you.

I’ve got my comfy Deena & Ozzy ankle booties to dance all night in. SO EXCITED!

i <3 jf

No, not JB, but JF – Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy (I think we’re tight enough to refer to each other by our first names ;D) has always been one of my favourite cast members to ever pass through SNL, and I LOVED it when he was the co-anchor of Weekend Update with Tina Fey.  When he was hired as the new host of NBC’s Late Night, I was a little skeptical, because I hadn’t seen him in any type of hosting capacity before, and I couldn’t imagine him living up to Conan’s amazingness.

Jimmy doing an ode to Perez Hilton, his guest on August 10, 2010.

However, I was pleasantly surprised, and in the past year, Jimmy has gained a lot of momentum with his show.  The most unprecedented success of his show is the sheer popularity of his online presence.

Jimmy’s strength is taking contemporary stories from the media and twisting them into hilarious sketches or original music/dance.  Of course, his constant bits such as “Pros and Cons”, “Thank You Notes”, and “Put it in Reverse” are awesome, and to show how in touch he is with the power of online media, “Hashtags” and “Remix the Clips” has become a very popular weekly bit.

Aside from that, his random antics on the show are what make his work online gold (mostly in the form of viral video).  It doesn’t hurt that Jimmy is well known for being an exacted impressionist.  I think it all started with his spoof of MTV’s “The City” with Seventh Floor West.

PIZZA PARTY DANCE!

It’s become such an ongoing hit that the star of the original “The City”, Whitney Port, made an appearance in one of the episodes.

EAT THE PIZZA!

It should be noted that it’s nearly impossible to find clips of “Seventh Floor West” on YouTube due to NBC’s wretched diligence, but the entire two season reality series is available on the dedicated site.

One of my favourites of his sketch series is Robert is Bothered.  They are a series of videos of Jimmy spoofing Robert Pattinson as a disturbed, pale-faced British it-boy who sits up in a tree and complains about things that bother him, always accompanied by a Moleskine and a blowup doll girlfriend that angers him each episode, landing her at the bottom of the tree.

My all-time favourite has to be his complaints about the iPad.

(Sorry about the quality – watch the video on Jimmy’s site for a better version!)

He takes the spoof to another level when he shows the videos as if they were on YouTube, shown here in the episode, Robert is Bothered by Daniel Radcliffe (complete with insulting response by Daniel Radcliffe, and subsequent insult mashup of both teen heartthrobs).  Although he has since abandoned this format (this was the first episode of the series, which got so popular that it sparked the rest of the series to be created), the online presence of his subsequent videos makes it a little meta. Neat-o.

Here is another example of the original star of the spoof source making an appearance in Jimmy’s parodies: Robert Pattinson is Bothered by Robert is Bothered.

Next is his series of Neil Young impersonations, singing songs about random things found in the media all done in a Young manner.

He has done Double Rainbow, Pants on the Ground, and even performed live as Neil Young at a charity concert singing the theme to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.

Some of my other favourite Jimmy moments include American Idol Hedgehog Song (ft. Jake Gyllenhaal) (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you want to see Jake dance around in a canary yellow body suit), Balls in Your Mouth (completely safe for work), and the recent Jet Blue Song: the Ballad of Steven Slater.  Actually, any time Jimmy busts out the guitar, you know something awesome is about to happen.

Balls in Your Mouth (again, check Jimmy’s site for original quality)

Jet Blue Song: the Ballad of Steven Slater

So here’s to you, Jimmy, in hopes that you will continue being awesome, and that NBC won’t eff you over for being a nice guy like Conan.

blogs blogs everywhere

I am really beginning to fully understand the true power of online media, and I just LOVE blogs.  Blogging as a form of personal output is great, but I also love how the medium has been elevated into the realm of creating [popular] culture.

I stumbled upon this AMAZING blog entitled P.S. I Made This whilst searching for some awesome DIY ideas for my new apartment (I’m a student and I’m brizoke, bitches)!  The creator of this blog, Erica Domesek, is highly regarded DIY artist and decorator and even has a book available for sale with her really fun and cool ideas.  I love that she always goes for the funky, cool, and chic home & fashion accessories to recreate.

I for one cannot wait to make myself a macrame necklace!

Image courtesy of P.S. I Made This

Anyway, I just thought I should share what other blogs I enjoy frequenting that aren’t on my blogroll; I think this will shed some more light on my personality, too!

Maybe next time I’ll post about who I follow on Twitter and why…!!