Episode 35: Exploring Osheaga, Canada’s coolest festival

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Tune in to part 1 of Episode 35: 

Tune in to part 2 of Episode 35: 

00:30-5:01 Talk Show Host by Radiohead

05:40 We were at music festivals most of the weekends in July. We started with FVDED in the Park, followed up with Pemberton Music Festival to see Kehlani, and at the end of the month, flew to Montreal for Osheaga Music and Arts Festival.

7:00-8:50 We discuss our thoughts on the location of  Osheaga, which takes place at Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal, an island with views of the city centre of Montreal.

9:00-13:14 Brands have become such a huge part of the festival experience and at times it feels like you’re being accosted by marketers as you find your way between stages. We discuss the balance between art, commerce and music at Osheaga, and how brands like Virgin Mobile and Schick Hydro have found a way to make their marketing appealing to concert goers.

13:15-15:29 Osheaga makes art an integral part of the festival experience, and we discuss the various installations that we took in while at the festival.

16:56-20:11 Opera by Jazz Cartier

20:12-24:00 Girls, Women, Ladies by Clairmont the Second. Clairmont released Quest for Milk and Honey and it’s so powerful and timely and good.

24:09-28:24 Cawna Pt. 2 by Staasia Daniels. We pronounced Staasia incorrectly, it’s phonetically pronounced as Stay-Sia. She also just released a project titled Hidden Gems, a very smooth and sexy R&B effort.

30:03-35:10 We give our highlights from Day 1 of Osheaga, which included seeing The Underachievers, Flume and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

35:10-42:00 We recap Day 2 of the festival, and how familiarity kicks in, as you start to understand the layout of the land. We took in Kaytranada‘s set, as well as Best Coast and encountered our first scheduling conundrum between seeing Lana Del Rey and Future. We ended up seeing Lana Del Rey’s set and the Osheaga stage was a perfect fit for her, with fireworks going off during her dreamy performance.

43:15-51:12 Day 3 of Osheaga was definitely the hottest day of the festival. We were there midday for Skepta’s performance and then things cooled down for Grimes set. We were excited to see Disclosure but their set was cancelled due to travel and Radiohead took the stage early and enchanting fifty thousand people for over two hours.

52:21-55:50 Be Somebody by Clams Casino ft Asap Rocky and Lil B

56:10 A reminder that we’ve switched up our format to an extended once a month show. Our next show is scheduled for September 21st.

56:40 Duckwrth is gearing up to release his new project I’m Uugly and he released his new song Get Uugly and we love the video for it. It’s directed by Mancy Gant, and features Channel 3 doing the “Uugly dance” with Duckwrth. He’ll be in Vancouver on September 4th, as part of Anderson Paak and the “Free Nationals” tour.

58:28 We’ve been working super hard on our new wellness line Vellum Wellness. Sign up at vellumwellness.com to be the first to receive news and product samples.

 

 

 

Episode 34: FVDED in the Park brings festival living to the suburbs

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With music festivals becoming an integral auditory exercise for music lovers over the past decade, people are flocking to desert towns, sunny islands, and the core of their cities to experience a mashup of artists from different genres, and to meet other music lovers who don’t mind a little dirt on their shoes, in exchange for checking multiple artists off their bucket lists.

FVDED in the Park, a two-day festival put on by Blueprint Events and Live Nation, saw thousands of fans taking to Holland Park, the home of snoozier, family friendly festivals, to check out 34 emerging and well-known hip-hop and electro acts. Taking place during the first weekend of July outside of Vancouver, in the suburbs of Surrey, BC, this year saw a huge increase in numbers, with over from 20,000 festival goers to more than 40,000 this year.

This year marked some changes, namely the FVDED Lab a third stage showcasing local talent like rapper Tommy Genesis and Pomo, a Vancouver based producer who’s been a force on SoundCloud, with his remixes reaching millions of hits.

FVDED’s set list was curated with breakout artists garnering a lot of traction in 2015 and maintaining the momentum in 2016. Stand out sets included: Jazz Cartier, Kaytranada, Tommy Genesis and Metro Boomin. The festival welcomes an all ages crowd, with plenty of underage boobs and booty shown off over the the weekend. Many of the artists on the roster perform at nightclubs when in the city, so this was a chance for teenagers to experience artists like Zedd, who puts on a light show equally as impressive as the music. FVDED is a unique festival in that it’s bringing internationally renowned talent to the suburbs, and providing a reasonably priced experience to a growing city.

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Jack Ü headlined the first night of FVDED in the Park and had a beat and rhythm for everyone to find, no matter what their preference. Diplo and Skrillex weaved their way from dancehall, soca, bhangra, top 40, back to their own tracks. Their collaborative music mirrors their performance style and they often meshed their songs during their 90 minute set. Jack Ü understands the diversity of their audience and they switched up from periods of frenetic electro to let the crowd breathe during a sweet medley that included Cinema and last summer’s hit Lean On. Other hijinks included Skrillex coaxing the crowd to wake up a dead Diplo, and the duo premiering a new coordinated dance routine atop a giant platform on the FVDED stage.

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Metro Boomin took the stage on day 2 and treated his set like a victory lap celebrating the hits that he’s produced over the last three years. He teased the crowd with his intro from Kanye’s Father Stretch My Hands Part 1 but didn’t deliver on the drop until much later. His work on major mixtapes from Drake to Future (and Drake + Future’s WATTBA) last year drew the biggest cheers from the crowd. His Gucci Mane tribute was nostalgic, making you realize Hard To Kill was released 10 years ago. Metro’s stage presence is more that of an emcee than a DJ and he was one of the most hype acts on Day 2 of FVDED. The droves of people sprinting to the front as he started that infamous “Young Metro” tagline, and his command of the stage show that he’s definitely one of rap’s most promising young talents.

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00:00- 06:04 The Line by DVSN

06:05-09:40 Opera by Jazz Cartier

09:41-12:12 100 Roses by Jazz Cartier

12:12- 14:40 Uber Everywhere by MadeinTYO

14:41-19:12 Neva CHange by Schoolboy Q ft. SZA

19:13-24:37 Tookie Knows II ft. Traffic and TF

24:38 We’ve switched over to a once a month format while we work on Vellum Wellness. We’ll be extending our show past 11:00 p.m. so we can have a long, luxurious show!

24:54 We discuss our time at FVDED in the Park

31:21 We’re attending Osheaga festival from July 29th – 31st in Montreal. Follow us on snapchat @thescreengirls

32:00 Lana Del Rey and Future’s sets conflict at Osheaga. Let us know which act you’d see.

32:27 We play our interview with Noodles

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Harrison hones his craft before his social media debut

It’s a fun game to hop on Instagram, or Twitter and scroll back past a curated feed of Fader articles, album covers and performance photos to see who an artist was before they started sharing their music with the world.

But when we played this game with Harrison, a 21-year-old, Toronto based music producer, we were surprised to see how stark his social media accounts were.

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Harrison performs at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver

After signing with hometown record label, Last Gang, Harrison released his debut EP album, Colors, full of feel good electro soul music. Since then, Harrison has gone on to collaborate with label mates, Ryan Hemsworth, Clairmont the Second and Young Guv for tracks off his soon to be released LP album, Checkpoint Titanium.

There is very little social media existence of Harrison prior to him being signed to Last Gang, late 2014; he has only 179 tweets, despite joining six years ago. He currently has 133 posts on Instagram – the earliest picture dating back to 44 weeks ago. The numbers seem very low, for someone who would’ve essentially grown up with social media (he would have been nine when Facebook launched). For Harrison, the one social media tool he used, and thrived on, was SoundCloud, where his tracks reach up to 450,000 plays. He continues to post to the adulation of the platform’s music community, despite secretly praying it’ll go under.

As we searched for Harrison’s missing social media history, we found an early music video for City Lights from his EP When It’s Bright on Vimeo, and a few dead social media accounts, but mostly, we found that Harrison has been crafting his vision and aesthetic as an artist for a great deal of his life. Everything we found, whether it was a no longer functioning Tumblr account or Twitter account, or his first digital album, Beat Tape Bunkum, shows consistency and growth. The desire to constantly edit our online lives leads people to believe in overnight success stories, but the work begins long before social media. Rather than crafting an image online, Harrison crafted his sound.

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Harrison performs at Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver

 

Harrison started building his references young, at an early age, before he was even aware he wanted to be a producer. In grade seven, he noticed the soundtrack to an anime show, Samurai Champloo and did his research to find it was scored by the late hip-hop instrumentalist, Nujabes. That reference and inspiration has stayed with him, and is identifiable in his work.

This deep thirst for knowledge, and a constant desire for self improvement comes across as he reposts album reviews, acknowledging any critiques, promising he’ll get better. With traces of social anxiety, he’s ever the optimist, as he tweets that he’ll get better. Beyond reposts and tweets, and library books, Harrison credits his mentor, Seamus, and endless hours of YouTube videos for learning his craft.

Harrison was returning library books, when we began our phone interview. Ever self aware, he apologized for sounding cynical after ranting about how the books actually sucked. We were mostly surprised that he still checks out library books. We have more information than we could ever comprehend, at our fingertips, but Harrison still makes the trek to the library.

During our interview with Harrison, we chatted about how he claims he “bad at social media”, despite having amassed 31, 000 followers on SoundCloud. He also told us how he’s looking forward to practicing the piano more, now that his album, Checkpoint Titanium, has wrapped. The album, set for a September 9th release date, is highly anticipated as we wait to see his evolution as a young producer.

Canadian illustrator Pencil Fingerz is making his mark on hip hop

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(Pencil Fingerz)

The hip hop core community has changed significantly from what it was, during its sudden birth in the ‘70s.  As with all great cultural movements, hip hop evolved as it made it’s way from a niche – a few men beat boxing and emceeing in the streets of South Bronx – to finding a global audience through radio play giving a popular voice to black artists and changing the landscape of music in a way that still resonates today. As Kanye West declares he’s the biggest rockstar on the planet, rap has replaced pop music, brands are shelling big dollars for product placements in songs, and every pop starlet from Ariana Grande to Selena Gomez has sought out a rapper for a feature to edge up their sound.

Hip hop and rap’s ability to connect people through little more than bass and lyrics has attracted lifelong fans (and brands) from different environments and all corners of the planet. Everyone’s trying to cash in on the culture, whether it’s Hillary Clinton dabbing to Fetty Wap on the Ellen show or fast food chains tweeting about rappers feuding online. Social media has made it possible for anybody from all over the world to participate in the culture but true fans of the genre are now able to connect and actually influence their favourite artists. 

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(Andre 3000 drawn by Pencil Fingerz)

One of these lifelong fans is Pencil Fingerz, a digital artist, illustrator and painter who resides in the rural Canadian town of Chilliwack. While his environment is more suited for country music than rap, his portfolio includes: a music video for CJ Fly, tour posters for Yelawolf and Mick Jenkins, and album covers and more for Rittz. One of Pencil Fingerz longest ongoing collaborations is with The Underachievers and was sparked after Issa Gold spotted Pencil’s portrait of Andre 3000, with roses sprouting from his mind. 

Pencil’s exposure to rap began by chance when he first found a stray Eminem CD on the ground. It was that serendipitous moment that ignited a respect for the culture. After Eminem, he fully immersed himself into early 00’s hip hop, and often reflects on this era, with portraits of artists, like Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Since then, he’s honed both his artistry as well as his appreciation for hip hop and has injected himself into the culture, by producing art for some of his favourite artists.

Since meeting Issa online, Pencil has collaborated with The Underachievers to produce covers for their Cellar Door, Evermore: The Art of Duality albums and their latest mixtape, It Happened in Flatbush. Under Issa’s instruction, he’s even drawn himself into the artwork for the latter, shown smiling and laughing, amongst the rest of Issa and AK’s inner circle. Not bad for a young kid working from a small town in Canada.

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(It Happened in Flatbush cover art by Pencil Fingerz)

He’s amassed quite a following on his Instagram, where he posts lifelike portraits of public figures like Chance the Rapper, Will Ferrell, Audrey Hepburn and Pickachu, replete with a blunt in his hand.  With talent, a Wacom tablet, a bit of Photoshop, and a rich portfolio of  illustrations of all the rap gods from the golden era and beyond, Pencil Fingerz has since become quickly sought after, for up and coming artists looking to incorporate his signature pencil drawings into their brand. 

We spoke with Pencil Fingerz, on our radio show and discussed his favourite works, his creative problem solving with Chance the Rapper’s management and his collaboration with Complex magazine.

Pencil Fingerz Underachievers cover

(Evermore: The Art of Duality cover art by Pencil Fingerz)

 

Nep Sidhu brings his vision to the West Coast

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We recently received an email from the Surrey Art Gallery, inviting us to check out Toronto based artist, Nep Sidhu’s first solo exhibit, Shadows in the Major Seventh.

It was our first visit to the gallery and we were warmly greeted by Jordan Strom, the curator of exhibitions at the gallery. He introduced us to Nep, who was setting up, and getting the final preparations ready for Saturday’s opening reception. Nep’s exhibit features mixed large scale work in mixed media, sculpture and textile design.

Nep describes himself as an artist linking the ancient with the here and now. When viewing his work, the ancient part stands out immediately – for example: Confirmation, a 3-piece work, created with ink on paper, brass and sheet veneer marble, features Kufic script. Kufic, the oldest calligraphic form of Arabic scripts, was developed around the end of the 8th century in Kufa, Iraq. As Nep gave us a narrated tour of his work, he explained how the ancient Kufic script also serves as the here and now. In Confirmation, the translated script is actually the lyrics of frequent collaborator Ishmael Butler, of hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Nep sees timelessness as an important quality of art, so it’s not surprising that his work, overall, doesn’t have too many obvious pop culture references present.

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Confirmation

His work is chock-full of global influences. Nep draws from his own Northern Indian heritage, as well as invoking elements of several African and Middle Eastern cultures. It’s a worldly take on the various social justice issues he covers in his work. One work in particular, a series of elaborate textile designs titled Pigs in Paradise, is a collaborative effort with Alaskan artist Nicholas Galanin. The garments advocate for the protection of aboriginal women, who’ve been largely marginalized in society. Thematically, Nep’s art is largely tied to social justice issues, and the divine feminine.

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Pigs in Paradise

When we were first exploring Nep’s work, we were interested in the concept of Paradise Sportif, a non-commercial clothing line. We noticed Nep doesn’t seem to references collections or seasons when explaining Paradise Sportif, but rather describes his work in chapters. Because Paradise Sportif isn’t a commercial clothing line, it doesn’t operate within seasons or collections. This unique approach to a clothing line is intriguing, in the sense that it’s not inundated with the demands of the fashion industry. Paradise Sportif is made up of materials and processes like embroidered silk, embossed leather, and wool chenille, and are worn by members of Black Constellation and other friends. The modern elements in his clothing – the leather sleeves, silk bombers and vibrant red jerseys would fit in well at major luxury retailers, so it’s surprising that he’s chosen to avoid commercialization. When broaching Nep about this, he explained, “It’s one thing to create pieces in the numbers I do, it’s another thing to be answerable for a large quantity that needs then constant touching base with purveyors of the work. There’s a lot that becomes involved in which, I sort of fall back from, I’m not too interested in.”

For now, it seems that Nep is focusing on his artistry, and communicating his thoughts on issues that are affecting both his community and human consciousness overall. With social media, and the communities that exist online, it’s easy to forget about the physical communities around us, but for Nep, it’s a strong point of reference and inspiration, stemming from his Sikh upbringing.

After looking at his pieces, we sat down with him for a quick chat, about process, timelessness, and his non-commercial clothing line, Paradise Sportif.

Check out the full interview below, after the pictures.

Nep’s first solo show is taking place at the Surrey Art Gallery from April 9th to June 12th

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