By Avery Kremer
COSMETICS Brave a New Wave World Take the softness of airy, feminine vocals and bathe them in the sultry ominousness of moody repetition. Add an analog synth. Repeat with simplistic rhythms worthy of a pulsating dance floor. You’ve now entered the effortlessly cool reality of Vancouver’s minimal synth crew, COSMETICS. Even the band’s name alludes to an authentic new wave structure, stripped down and artificially dynamic. It is a minimalism conducive to the sparse, repetitive melodies and noir motivations of this synthesized dance duo. COSMETICS formed in 2008 when Aja Emma started producing music with Nic M. Emma lends her voice and synthesizer talents, while M brings his unique flair on the synthesizer as well as the duo’s rhythm and production. They write and record their self-described pop collage sound at their OUI! home studio in Vancouver, Canada. This stripped-down genre, an interesting take on pop music, is certainly dance floor worthy! In 2010, Brooklyn label Captured Tracks released their 7" debut entitled "Soft Skin." The following year, their pop-synth production, "The Cries," galvanized the Milan runways, creating a haunting, dramatic atmosphere at the Versace Spring/Summer collection. Currently, COSMETICS’s release list from label Captured Tracks includes "Olympia…Plus," a compilation LP of their finest, circa 2010-2013 productions, one EP, and a few singles including "Black Leather Gloves" and "Sleepwalking." With a long-awaited debut album and a European tour underway, this west coast duo is scaling the new wave world, taking with them their analog synths.
By Avery Kremer
Navigating the Electronic Music World with Better Living DJ’s Music has always been a key indicator of the characteristics that define a decade. The 60’s saw The Beatles pave the way for popular culture and the 90’s saw Nirvana lead the underground grunge community to mainstream praise. It’s now 2015 and like clockwork, music is showing its cultural flags. It’s the electronic music decade. And house music, the genre’s originator, is back in full force. Here, 4/4 beats and bass propelled grooves fill the musical landscape. Pair these constructed tones with house music’s broad drops, melding rhythmical patterns and layered vocals and the result is contemporary electronic music. So where does Edmonton-based DJ and production duo, Better Living DJ’s, fit into this electronic music declaration? Well to start, the resumes of members Kurtis Schultz and Keith Walton read like a how-to book for an aspiring DJ-producer. Their strength as a pair is easily heard in their most recent release, the EP "Love Alive" from Vancouver-based record label Filter Records. The track, featuring vocals by Canadian singer Julie Adams, is bound for international attention if the strong buzz surrounding its release is any indication. As part of their 2015 plan, Filter Records will also release the original production "Game Tight," which features a remix by John Glassey. Add the March 2015 launch of the duo’s EP "Take Me Higher" that features another performance by vocalist Adams, and Better Living DJ’s are prepped for expansion. "2015 will really define a new direction for us," said Walton. Loving The Underground They’ve had their sights set on this moment since their 2012 inaugural year, one that found both men out of typical employment after they chose to pursue music full time in lieu of "working for the man." Both Schultz and Walton quit their nine-to-fives and immersed themselves in the world of music production. At the duo’s initial encounter at a friend’s rooftop party, a partnership blossomed instantaneously. Schultz explained, "Monday morning we were in the studio working on our first track. Since then, we’ve been working together continuously." Schultz’s history as a drummer naturally brought out the four-beat rhythms necessary for a pursuit in house music production. His previous producing partner had moved to L.A., leaving an opening that Walton quickly embraced. Walton’s entrance solidified the pair’s direction as house music producers. "As soon as we got together, it was obvious that house music was what we were going to be making," Schultz said. "It just felt natural." Easily falling into the rhythm of the genre, Schultz elaborated on the skills he acquired from his drumming background. Walton’s admiration for the music was formed on the dance floors of early underground house shows. He remembered, "I felt like every DJ I saw had a different message. After, I realized I had a message of my own and wanted to take people on a musical journey." Their backgrounds brought the contrasting dynamics into their production procedure and were a necessary component in the music that began to flow from their studio sessions. "Keith and I have strengths in different areas musically," Schultz said, "so it’s been great to help each other along the way. We each bring something unique to the table." Not to be overshadowed by her male collaborators, Julie Adams provided the powerful vocal touches that drive many of Better Living DJ’s productions. She was an essential part of the track’s overall direction. Recalled Walton, "Julie is one of the most talented vocalists we’ve ever encountered. After listening to her perform with her band Unwed Mothers, of which Kurtis is also the drummer, it seemed inevitable that we would collaborate in the house music realm." Outside of the studio, weekly residencies and continuous show bookings keep their schedules full and serve as a platform to test their personally-produced material. "There’s nothing better than playing out your own songs to a responsive crowd," Schultz expressed. "It changes what DJing is, because you’re not just playing someone else’s tunes anymore; it becomes a performance." It is these performances that both men consider to be their artist outlets. Walton explains, "It’s raw and poetic. It’s a form of communicating without ink." Like the musical heroes that shaped the decades before them, house music artists, including Better Living DJ’s, are driving this generation’s musical direction. As awareness for the genre grows and electronic music tracks are accepted into rotation on mainstream radio stations, these two guys are standing in the perfect position to take this house music trend to new heights. There are new rules and formulas for success as fresh players emerge to elevate the entire game. But it’s a game that these two fellas sure know how to play! Now that sounds like a better-lived life to me. Good luck guys—house music anxiously awaits your next production.
By Stacey Mullings
Watching the bustling intensity of the film award season as it came to a close with the Oscars on March 2nd left me in a reflective state. The films that stick out in my mind as gripping and moving have always incorporated strong, standout scores to support the storytelling process and impact the audience’s senses, heightening the experience. Regardless of the genre, a well-crafted, cohesive film score brings deeper dimension and feeling to each scene, and gives the audience a fuller understanding of the tone of the film. Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, John Williams, James Newton Howard and James Horner are a few of the big names that come to mind when we talk about film music composers. A common theme we find amongst these composers is the great breadth and diverse involvement they’ve had with music over the course of their careers. Many of “The Greats” are multi-instrumentalists, producers, orchestrators or conductors, and often more than one. They’ve had the opportunity to experience music in various ways: listening, creating and arranging. This profound understanding of music and exposure to it in different forums is paramount to composing moving music that will coalesce with a scene. Think of the ominous and thunderous nature of “The Imperial March” in Star Wars. If John Williams was tasked to compose a piece of music to strike fear in the hearts of men (and aliens), I’d say he certainly succeeded. Three soundtracks that find their way into my rotation frequently are Amélie, Pan’s Labyrinth, and About a Boy. Amélie There is much to love about Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 release, Amélie. The sweetness of this film lies in the depiction of life in the Montmartre arrondissement, Amélie’s imaginative and whimsical nature, and of course, the fantastical compositions of Yann Tiersen. The Amélie soundtrack is comprised of accordion and piano rich instrumental pieces that capture the eccentricity and loneliness that is Amélie Poulain. The closing scene of this film, which is one of my favourites, is a great example of music and imagery working in tandem to convey a feeling. We see Amélie and Nino, two endearing misfits, riding through the streets of Paris, carefree and totally in love to “La Valse D’ Amélie.” For the viewer, there is feeling of relief when Amélie and Nino finally get together. Amélie’s ultimate display of courage to let love into her life is a triumph for her that is fervently felt by the audience. “La Valse D’ Amélie,” with its playful yet romantic accordion melody, contributes to these emotions of triumph and freedom, not only for Amélie and Nino, but also for many of the film’s characters that have overcome hurdles of their own. It is actually somewhat reminiscent of “J’y Suis Jamais Allé,” which plays during the opening scene. This lighthearted but sassy piece is immediately switched to “La Dispute,” a sad, foreboding piano instrumental for the opening credits. In this way, we are introduced to the multi-dimensional nature of the film within the first five minutes. In 2013 it was announced that Amélie will be made into a Broadway musical. However, Tiersen’s music will not feature in the adaptation. Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth takes place in a tumultuous post-Civil War Spain and spirals between a dark, bleak reality and an even darker world of fantasy. There are a multitude of happenings and moods conjured up by this tale: the malevolence that marks this era, the cruelty and callus of Captain Vidal, and the spirit and bravery of the rebels and little Ofelia. Javier Navarette, who also composed the score for Guillermo del Toro’s earlier film The Devil’s Backbone, creates a haunting yet magical musical backdrop for the film. Writing a score to mirror a film with this much juxtaposition is likely no easy feat. There is the contrast between the innocence and determination of young Ofelia and her sinister but equally driven stepfather Captain Vidal. There is also this fantastical dark fairytale imagery, coupled with the captain’s macabre killings. Navarette’s score achieves this balance between the wonderful and the sad by employing a wide range of stringed instruments and the chilling hum in the lullaby “Long, Long Time Ago,” probably the most recognizable piece on the Oscar-nominated soundtrack. Through the storyline and graphic imagery, the film naturally evokes a lot of emotion from the audience. I recall leaving the movie theater completely awestruck. Years later, listening to just a few seconds of any track on the soundtrack instantly brings into mind the same harrowing emotions and images as if I had just seen it. About a Boy The UK’s Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, had already experience a great deal of success prior to scoring the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel About a Boy. The original sound of his 2000 album The Hour of Bewilderbeast, an eclectic collection of indie, folk and experimental songs, garnered Gough a lot of attention and an expanding fan base, which included directors and brothers Chris and Paul Weitz. About a Boy centers around the development of a friendship between a very unlikely pair: Will, a seemingly self-absorbed and emotionally detached man who lives a life of leisure as he collects royalties from a popular song his father wrote, and Marcus, a quirky delight of a boy who contends with bullies at school and copes with a depressed mother at home. While there is a strong comedic presence in the film, there is also an awareness of the seriousness of the issues that Will, Marcus and his mother Fiona are facing. Each of the characters has this lovable peculiarity and it was important for the accompanying music to reflect this. Badly Drawn Boy’s score captures the beauty and friction involved in the burgeoning friendship, off center characters and events. The soundtrack is a mixture of dreamy instrumentals and songs that are more similar to the composer’s style found in his other works that feature his modest husky vocals. One of the most notable scenes is when Marcus’ mother Fiona returns home from the hospital after a suicide attempt. Observing her first interaction with her son after the tragedy and seeing her faced with readjusting to life, “A Minor Incident” plays and as the only real audio in the scene, is absolutely touching. You can just feel the fear and suffering; the lyrical content is spot on. There’s nothing I could say To make you try to feel ok And nothing you could do To stop me feeling the way I do And if the chance should happen That I never see you agai Just remember that I’ll always love you —“A Minor Incident,” first verse, by Badly Drawn Boy A good film score will provide accompaniment and an enjoyable background. Great and unforgettable scores intensify tone, emotion and imagery, as well as illuminate each scene’s narrative. Those are the ones that stick with you long after the ending credits have rolled off screen.
By Danielle S. Fuechtmann
At the age of fourteen, Deolinda Bernardo decided she wanted to dedicate her career to keeping the Portuguese tradition of fado music alive. Deolinda began singing at a very early age, cultivating a love and passion for music. Although she spent the first years of her musical career singing contemporary styles such as pop and rock, her difficult childhood made the emotion and power of fado an appealing creative outlet. Fado’s origins trace back to before the nineteenth century, spreading out from Lisbon to other regions in Portugal, gradually developing distinct regional styles. A bit like North American blues music, fado requires precise and delicate technique to tell very passionate and emotional stories. The music requires active listening, leading it to be compared to opera; fado songs often require some knowledge of the tradition and subject matter carries emotional significance. In Lisbon, fado music has developed a modern flavour, with influences from Africa and Brazil, the style in this region has developed a unique urban feel. The northern areas of Portugal take on a Celtic sound, while the middle regions of Portugal absorb inspiration from their southern neighbor, Spain. In the southern-central countryside of Alentejo, the music has North African influences. These influences reflect Portugal’s interesting pattern of trade and political relationships with the countries surrounding it. The most distinct of the regional styles comes from Coimbra, and is occasionally referred to as student fado. This style is recognizable for it’s exclusively male voices, and was made popular by the large student population in the city. Deolinda developed a love for music and singing at a very early in her life, and it was a constant in her difficult childhood. At 3 years old, separated from her mother, she began listening to the radio at her grandmother’s home where she was living. As she grew older she began singing, primarily in rock, jazz, and pop styles while working in a factory. Around this time she began to delve into the fado tradition, finding herself able to connect to the emotional stories the songs shared. When she was about fourteen, she recognized that her passion was something she truly wanted to share, and despite the difficult path pursing music would entail, she decided to follow it. As a young single mother, the life of a musician was not easy. She spent much of her twenties singing in hotel piano bars. These nights were difficult and often thankless, but she learned many things about performing and developed as an artist. Fado is a very technical music form with significant regional variances, and Deolinda took care to learn about all of them, becoming proficient in many of the styles and learning an extensive repertoire of classic songs. She performs with great enthusiasm and joy, educating her listeners about the traditions and songs as she is singing. Luckily, youth are beginning to develop an interest in fado again, with artists like Mariza, who performs a pop-fado fusion, performing to large audiences and generating new interest into the traditional style. As a result this traditional music is experiencing a resurgence. Currently, she performs weekly in Obidos, a castle in central Portugal. The castle is unique, as it is one of few that people still live in. The perfect location for Deolinda to share her traditional music, Obidos has a vibrant culture, hosting markets and medieval fairs requiring period dress. She performs at Troca-Tontas each Monday night, a small intimate venue serving traditional food. Despite singing with no microphone, her voice fills the room with ease. Deolinda loves performing and watching the eyes of her audience and soaking in their energy, and this shows through her endearing nature and charisma. She will also be performing and leading a seminar on the first Monday of each month at PHABRIK in Serra del Rei, which will be open to all ages. For the last 15 years, Deolinda has travelled and performed with her partner and best friend, Jose Piras, a fellow musician. Sharing a core musical philosophy has made it natural for them to work together. An excellent musician in his own right, he frequently accompanies her singing, covers male parts, and writes his own music. Together, they share an intense performing schedule, frequently performing more than once a day, as well as travelling, within Portugal and internationally.
By Chantele Theroux
You knew the beating rhythm of a heart before you could breathe. We are flesh and bone, born to resonate and can feel sound. Your heart lives as the metronome for the rhythm inside you, and has evolved to synchronize with other living systems, and our earth as a whole. The intuitive creation of this abstract communication forms a flowing balance, creating a quiet, colossal symphony veiled by inexpressible colour and sound. The seemingly imperceptible mystery and intrigue of this connection can be felt and the vibrational interplay heard inside you, through music. By random and intelligent design, music is a collective manifestation that echoes the wonder of all life. Through this resonance and within the audible space of stillness, rhythmic solidarity is born through sound. We are made in and of music. It can be interpreted into sound by one being, and perceived as math by another. Likewise, music can be created mathematically, and relayed acoustically to others. It transcends and combines the disciplines of mathematics, astral and quantum physics to become a truly universal language. It expresses the wondrous relationships between the celestial bodies and our earth, the other planets, the sun, and solar systems. The shifting proportions, balances, distances, and vibrations can be measured both scientifically, and felt with the heart. The perspective that music is a living, breathing organism is acutely felt in the band PULSE, the master project of Martin Johann Kloppers. An accomplished Canadian cellist/composer/artist, he merges his lifetime of musicianship and artistic visionary exploration with a perplexing array of creative skills, including TIG-welding. He began this musical journey at age five, making his own wooden instruments and by age seven, he began pursuing private cello studies. By fifteen he was composing his own music. Martin was also a founding member and the electric cellist of the enigmatic ARIA award-winning group, ‘Feeding like Butterflies’. He earned his technical chops with a Bachelor of Music (cello performance) and is a self-taught drummer/percussionist. As a result, the visually stunning instrumentation and eclectically beautiful music is rich in depth and interest. PULSE combines musical influences from all over the world, film score, alternative, pop, and dance genres, all blended by the masterful instrumentation, timeless mood, and precise orchestral layering. The result evokes scenery, images, and stories only limited by the imagination of the listener. It’s best described as a soundtrack, encompassing nearly every genre, making it a truly universal experience. It alludes to the inexplicable beauty of the universe, its creatures, and the great abstract of unexplored wonder and brilliance. It is the imaginative vision of PULSE that makes it a truly timeless innovation; combining the future and past, and the mystical beauty of accidental order. The ‘Cellotaur’ & Global Drums Martin has handcrafted PULSE’s exquisite showcase instruments, which embody complete originality in artistic endeavour, beginning with the ‘Cellotaur’. The inspiration for its distinctive shape is based on a symphony of scientific, archaeological, and fantasy-based thinking, asking the question, ‘If cellos were living musical creatures, and we discovered their remains on a distant planet, what would those remains look like?’ It is a world-class sculpture, painting, and living musical instrument, and unlike traditional cellos, is not dependent on the body for sound-resonance, but truly electric. Its final shape is visually-striking; a delicate balance of feminine lines with a deliciously dark, macabre undertone. Its very existence changes our perception and notion of possibility in music, and the universe. In a similar fashion, the Global Drums symbolize the celestial bodies; planets, moons and suns, glowing orbs that all communicate through vibration in PULSE. They range in size, the largest being four feet in diameter and their unique lightweight TIG-welded design allows for overhead suspension, rotation, and movement. With built-in backlighting, the drums come alive with booming color and energy. They attune the vibrational connection of life, different times, and distant places. Many of the musical compositions and pieces performed in PULSE have over a hundred recorded cello or instrumental ‘layers’, expressing the complex link between the physical world, the imagined, and the infinite composition of music and science. Martin’s piece ‘Kududance’ is one example, and it emulates the creatures of Africa, his birthplace. Through this immense symphony of sound, PULSE blends a cacophony of electronics, signals, and waves and integrates musical inspiration from even the smallest creatures on our planet. Add to that the haunting and expressive vocals of Kirtan artist Sparrow Grace, and PULSE’s ‘world-electric’ genre is alive with the energy of our earth. PULSE is a masterful expression of the harmony and chaos of human experience becoming alive and present, and a communication with the universe.Every village has a drum. Every person has a voice. Every body has a PULSE. PULSE is beating at: pulseworld.ca
By Stacey Mullings
There are a multitude of reasons why music is important in our lives. It’s an expression of our triumphs and struggles; be they personal, social or political. Something to cry to, laugh to, head bang or cut a rug to. When a piece of music resonates powerfully with the listener, it can be incredibly comforting; almost as though the songwriter took the words right out of his or her mouth. For me, that is one of the main things that separate “the greats” from the mediocre artists. That ability to reassure the listener that they are not alone in their joy or strife. I believe that it is this innate talent that has given Blue Rodeo such longevity and a fan base that spans generations. When Blue Rodeo’s debut album Outskirts was released in 1987 I was just a kid of 7 years old. My eldest sister however, well into her teens, had become an avid fan of the band and I had been exposed to their music initially through her. (Thanks sis!) After years of connecting with each album they released, and singing along each time a Blue Rodeo song came on the radio, one thing that eluded me was why I had never made the effort to see one of their live shows. It was not due to lack of opportunity, as they’ve performed in Edmonton on numerous occasions. I’m a concert-goer so it hasn’t been due to an apathy towards live performances. I have always heard good things about Blue Rodeo’s live shows but for one excuse or another I had never made it to one. When Blue Rodeo announced that their 25th Anniversary Tour would include 2 nights in Edmonton at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, I committed myself to finally go and see what I’ve been missing all these years. Blue Rodeo has a rich sound that really benefits from an establishment with good acoustics like “The Jube.” This being their anniversary tour, I knew the show would include many of my beloved favourites, and I was not disappointed. Popular hits like ‘Try’, ‘Hasn’t Hit Me Yet’, and ‘Lost Together’ found their way into the evening’s set. One thing that struck me was how well they performed. Not that I expected a butchered performance or anything, but to sound as good live (if not better) than on a produced recording is a true feat. Every high note hit, and each key in time, I was impressed. While many of their songs are melodic and harmonious, they aren’t without complexity, and it was just refreshing to see them show how skilfully they can play. Each band member had solos throughout the night, however the most notable were those of keyboardist Michael Boguski. This guy stole the show. You just felt it. Every key, pure soul. There was one instant when Greg Keelor wasn’t 100% thrilled with how a song was going and stopped mid-song stating “These people paid good money to be here. We can do better than that!” and started the song again from the beginning. Blue Rodeo has always had that likeable band personality; Simple everyday guys who care about what they do, want their fans to have a good time and leave feeling inspired in one way or another. This is one of the other things that appeals to people and something that you don’t get to see by simply listening to an album. You really get a feel for band dynamics and personality by watching members interact onstage. Watching Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor was like watching two brothers who have seen it all and done it all together. There is an undeniable depth and chemistry to their relationship. I had previously mentioned that Blue Rodeo’s fan base spanned generations, and the audience that filled The Jubilee Auditorium definitely supported that notion. Teens, golden aged, and everyone in between, could be seen tapping their feet or singing along in the crowd. I think that is what happens when an artist’s range is so wide. Blue Rodeo is categorized as a country rock band, but their sound transcends the confines of just one or two musical genres. There are elements of blues, pop and soul scattered throughout their songs and performances. During the Edmonton show I attended, there was a moment during the song ‘After The Rain’ when I was quite certain Aretha Franklin had possessed Jim Cuddy onstage. It was amazing. The band even performed the old gospel song ‘Somebody Touched Me’. The rendition was so good it rivalled many of the artists that recorded the song back in the 60s. It is my guess that this ability to successfully cross musical genres and reach people in a wide range of demographics comes from a bona fide and deep love of all types of music, and a historical understanding of how each type came into being and why they were necessary; really relating to people of all backgrounds and with a different story. From the southern lady in the church choir, to the small town boy trying to find his way, Blue Rodeo has found away to understand, feel and give voice to so many. In fact, right before performing ‘Fools Like You’, the band took a moment to bring awareness to the Idle No More movement, once again showing the band’s unwavering dedication and support of those who are politically or socially disadvantaged. I left the January 9th concert feeling motivated, entertained, impressed and with the realization that before seeing Blue Rodeo live, I had no idea how powerful and important their place is in the Canadian music scene.
By Stacey Mullings
Shout Out Out Out Out Spanish Moss and Total Loss Normals Welcome Records After much anticipation on my part, and likely on the part of many Shout Out Out Out Out fans, the electro band’s third album, ‘Spanish Moss and Total Loss’ was released in July of this year, and as expected, it did not disappoint. When considering a band like Shout Out Out Out Out, expectations can be placed quite high. Time after time, they present a body of work that evidences just how passionate they are about their craft, and shows a level of expertise and artistry that’s pretty flooring. The highly skilled and complex instrumentation found in Spanish Moss and Total Loss is so fluid and cohesive that it produces melodic and accessible pieces which is undoubtedly a science in itself. A myriad of instruments including two drummers, four bassists, analog synths, Rhodes piano, baritone guitar and saxophone work in unison to construct an album that is pensive, relatable, thought provoking, and just really cool. The mood is one of profound reflection. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Nik Kozub stated “As on our previous two albums, I sing through an old analog vocoder, and lyrically I try to tackle my own demons, dreaming of a life where I can just stay on vacation forever, not having to deal with being broke all the time or be reminded of personal failures.” Despite the heavy lyrical content, listening to the album from start to finish does not feel like a depressing or taxing experience at all, more of a journey through truly inspired sound. Having seen Shout Out Out Out Out’s live performance on numerous occasions in different cities, I can say with conviction that they bring a certain explosive energy that ignites and already amped audience regardless of where they play. I think we can expect to see more great things from this band. Poolside Pacific Standard Time Day & Night Recordings Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise, also known as Poolside, introduced their brand of contemporary groove soul pop with the release of their debut album, ‘Pacific Standard Time’. The LA-based duo’s relaxed, feel-good sound was an instant party favourite over the summer. Pacific Standard Time sets the scene for a chilled out beach party over looking a California sunset and makes it virtually impossible to sit still while listening. Poolside’s rendition of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is a whole new take on the folksy classic, placing it under a downtempo beat. Both Nikolic and Paradise had already earned the respect of music aficionados prior to teaming up together to create Poolside. They have worked with some notable artists in both the electro and indie rock genres. With Nikolic, playing with Ima Robot and touring with Junior Senior, and Paradise fronting The Calculators (members later went on to form The Rapture), they brought a strong fan base along with them when they decided to form Poolside. Being DJs of discriminating taste, Nikolic and Paradise put out a solid, 16-track album with the kind of music they would like to hear at a beach party or LA nightclub. As the last of the few dog days of summer come to a close, Pacific Standard Time is definitely one to pick up at the record store, drop the needle and kick back. Thesecond track, ‘Next To You’ is a personal favourite. If Poolside makes a video for this one, they must cast Pam Grier!)
By Tracey Ellis
Lou Salomé is a music artist from France, and as you would expect from the birthplace of haute-couture, she exudes class, sophistication, and charm along with her musical talent. Sitting in her Parisian apartment near Bastille, she is a figure of chicness in her skinny jeans, silk blouse and trendy shoe boots, enhanced by simple silver jewellery and the hint of a dirty laugh; the effortlessly stylish image all Parisians seem to possess. A Diane Kruger lookalike (but with a trendy, curly, bob) and a sultry voice like Shakira, Lou is a sexy siren full of soul, French style. And with performing in clubs all around Paris and the south of France, she is busy too. Having just released her second album in France - My Art Belongs to Dad - Lou is now ready to conquer the world; well, the English-speaking world at least. Inspired and influenced by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, The Mitsouko, Bashung, Sting, and the great singers of jazz, her bilingual album is an eclectic mix of soul, jazz, pop and funk. The album has all the contours of hope and celebrations of life, along with a mixture of the fragility and forces of nature. It is also a heartfelt dedication to her father who died of cancer. “Singing has always been a spirit inside me; an intense passion. I connect intimately with the music and sing to express myself and my emotions”, says Lou. “Inspiration for this album came to me like an earthquake after my father died, it flowed quickly and naturally.” Lou began singing as a child, letting her voice echo down the stairs of her parents home in the south of France. A hidden ambition for many years, it was only a few years ago she decided to take it more seriously, writing and co-composing her first album in 2008 ‘Tic Tac Mania’. At this time the identity of Lou Salomé was not born yet, but the first steps of her musical journey had begun. “The singing was deep-rooted since my early childhood, so deep that I did nothing to indulge it for all those years. Then one day it became clear, and I understood that I had to engage with my passion and dare to share these things that have always resonated within me.” A relative newcomer in the music industry, Lou started her career at age 34, a bit late perhaps in the age of youth claiming fame younger and younger. What she does bring to the musical table is grace and soul, as well as experience in many different genres of music, allowing her to realise that she does not want to be locked in to just one classifiable genre. With the confidence to pursue her dream and the talent to back it up, her music is beginning to cross oceans and transcend borders with the help of her music collaborator and childhood friend - Carine Bonnefoy - a renowned pianist and jazz composer in France. With their eyes set on Canadian Folk Festivals, concert halls, and clubs, Lou is excited by touring a bilingual country such as Canada. “I want to hear English-speaking people singing my songs in French, and French people singing my songs in English, crossing borders to embrace each other in universality.” Onstage Lou does not disappoint, to the ears, or to the eyes. Extremely watchable, her style is uniquely hers; feminine, bohemian, and sexy combined with nostalgic flair. “I’m influenced by the 20’s”, says Lou. “I love the materials that make you so elegant and feminine, the pearls, the feathers, the (false) fur and the women’s liberalization that occurs during this period. Coco Chanel was a precursor of this trend and I love her work for that.” One of the first women to wear trousers, cut her hair and reject the corset was Coco Chanel. Probably the most influential woman in fashion of the 20th century, Chanel did much to further the emancipation and freedom of women’s fashion. And if you think the name ‘Lou Salome’ sounds familiar, you are right. The singer chose her stage name based on the Russian-born Lou Andreas-Salome, one of the first women psychoanalysts who dared to write about female sexuality. Lou has based her image on the free-spirited nature of this woman, and her vintage Chanel flair echoes this theme onstage, through her image and her music. What does she like to wear when performing? “I love to wear heels, false fur, peacock feathers, and a pearl garland on my head. I love to wear also cuffs on my wrists and lace...I love to mix the styles of the 20’s with a contemporary style. I love sophisticated materials as well as fur or feather that illustrates the animal part we have all in us.” Signature items? “I always wear a pearl headband and peacock feathers, I used them for the album cover. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the beauty of this bird. I found it bizarre, mysterious and marvellous in the same time, different. I love the feather, it looks like an eye, maybe the third eye, who knows?!! It is for me the eye of the child I was, all what made me from my childhood until today, all the life experiences and the memories.” As she prepares for a string of concerts in the south of France, Lou is nervous, as always. When I ask her how she deals with her nerves, she gives me a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Shoot for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. As Lou has proved, it’s never to late to shoot for the moon, and there is no doubt that wherever she goes, she has star quality. Look out for Lou Salome performing across Canada next year. In the meantime check out her album on her website http://www.lousalome.fr/en, Spotify or Amazon.
By Beryl Bacchus
Canada has become a leader on the festival world stage hosting the likes of the Toronto International Film Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Edmonton is also home to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (EFMF), an event that is now viewed as one of the foremost music festivals in the world offering an incredibly diverse musical range that many say is not just folk-based, at affordable prices. Held in Edmonton’s downtown Gallagher Park every second weekend in August, past performers include Elvis Costello, Sarah McLachlan, Blue Rodeo and Ryan Adams. In 2010, festival goers were treated to performances by artists such as Jakob Dylan, Ben Harper, Gord Downie, Colleen Brown and Basia Bulat. “When I joined the EFMF the festival was $60,000 in debt and weekend passes were selling for $20,” Producer Terry Wickham tells Phabrik Magazine. “I come from a business and economic background. To change an image or perception of something you have to change the programming.” This is exactly what he did. One of his goals was to increase the awareness of folk music through the depth of the performer line-ups selecting artists within a broad musical mandate--mixing familiar and not so familiar as well as repeat and first time performers together. Festival goers have the chance to experience music from around the world such as this past season’s performance by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba from Africa. At the same time, the festival maintains at least 40% Canadian content. ”I remember driving back from Calgary after the 1992 North American Folk Alliance Conference. I had this sudden flash of the full potential of our festival and here we are 18 years later,” says Wickham. His goal was realized when his dream came true to have Van Morrison play for the fans in August 2010. When asked who would be next now that this dream has been realized? “There are so many, but I would have to say my next would be Paul Simon. The festival is volunteer driven and works to ensure the proper treatment and respect of the volunteers, audience, performers, sponsors and media. Over 2,000 volunteers work to deliver the majority of services provided to patrons of the festival. Media Liaison, Sylvio Dobri, has been involved with the EFMF for 31 years. “I am encouraged by the growing number of younger volunteers who are becoming involved in the festival community,” says Dobri. The number of youth volunteers continues to grow each year, ensuring there will be a well trained group to keep the festival alive. “Musicians laud and applaud the festival and its army of volunteers. Whether young or old, first-timers or festival veterans, musicians performing here are always eager to talk to the Edmonton writers and broadcasters,” states Dobri. He shares his favourite memory to date of, “Taking Ramblin’ Jack Elliot to a local radio interview and after he was done driving him to the Hudson’s Bay store on Jasper Avenue where he spent an hour trying on colourful Hudson’s Bay coats.”
From the kitchen party culture of the east coast to west coast jazz, Canada’s vibrant music scene boasts a spectacular roster of talent and innumerable ways for fans to enjoy the music. Canadian artists continue to pump out top-drawer recordings notably Calgary-based Grammy Award winning bluesman Donald Ray Johnson, Quebec City’s Carocol, Toronto’s Shakura S’Aida and Vancouver’s Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive fame. Recently, Canadian artists made a strong showing at the US Grammy Awards and they may walk away with more awards when we celebrate Canadian talent at the upcoming JUNO Awards in March. Youthful stars such as pop dynamo Justin Beiber, jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky, and classical piano sensation Jan Liesicky have captured the world’s attention, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of jazz icon Oliver Jones , and renowned folk/pop artists Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Bruce Coburn, Ian Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot. Events such as the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival, Winnipeg Folkfest, Calgary International Blues Festival and the Vancouver Island MusicFest speak to the range of dynamic, family-oriented events showcasing local, regional and international music. Live clubs have dedicated years to presenting Canadian music notably the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton that recently celebrated 50 years of bringing marvellous music to patrons, Bud’s on Broadway in Saskatoon and the Bistro a Jojo in Montreal. Distinguished venues such as Massey Hall in Toronto, Vancouver’s Orpheum and the Chrysler Theatre in Windsor are home to some of the finest symphony orchestras and opera companies in the world. Radio stations both commercial and commercial-free continue to profile the vast array of up and coming Canadian talent as well as reminding us of those that created the musical footprint. Television programming gives us Elvis Costello’s Spectacle, along with Bravo, Much Music, and CBC television that all profile musical greats for the planet to enjoy. Canadians and visitors to our fair nation can anticipate an exciting and eclectic music scene in any given community across the country, one simply has to choose from a myriad of selections of genres, styles and artists. We are proud of our music and are more than willing to share. Indeed we do, with our artists being picked up by record companies and setting off on tours around the globe for millions of fans. Cindy McLeod producer of the Calgary International Blues Festival calgarybluesfest.com