BeatRoute Magazine AB Edition - January 2020

beatroute

BeatRoute Magazine is a music monthly and website that also covers: fashion, film, travel, liquor and cannabis all through the lens of a music fan. Distributed in British Columbiam Alberta, and Ontario. BeatRoute’s Alberta edition is distributed in Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Canmore. The BC edition is distributed in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. BeatRoute (AB) Mission PO 23045 Calgary, AB T2S 3A8 E. editor@beatroute.ca BeatRoute (BC) #202 – 2405 E Hastings Vancouver, BC V5K 1Y8 P. 778-888-1120

JANUARY 2020 • FREE

THE

METEORIC

RISE OF

R

E

X

ORANGE

COUNTY

+ 10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

PLUS!

TORY LANEZ

ALEXISONFIRE

HOLY FUCK

AND MORE


UPCOMING

EVENTS

THIS MONTH @

DEERFOOT CITY

JAN 3

JAN 10

JAN 11

JAN 19

JAN 24

JAN 31

BROWNKAM &

KILLQUAN

GHOSTBOY

MADCHILD

Demon Tour

AND HERE LIES

MAN

PROJECT TRYBE

CITYSLEEP

THIS MONTH @

SOUTH EDMONTON

COMMON

JAN 4

JAN 10

JAN 11

JAN 17

JAN 24

MEDICAL PILOT

w/ Reform & Ways in

Waves

MADCHILD

Demon Tour

XBAND

Latin Sensation

ANCIENT SHAPES

MURPHY & THE

LAWMAKERS

THIS MONTH @

WEST EDMONTON MALL

JAN 3

JAN 17

JAN 18

JAN 24

JAN 25

NOTORIOUS YEG

MARGØ

YIKES

LIVE BAND

KARAOKE

w/ The Nervous Flirts

THE 9S

JAN 31

A NIGHT OF MAGIC,

COMEDY AND

HYPNOSIS

w/ Chris Gowen & Keith

Miller

Discover the ultimate gathering place to let go,

be playful and discover something new.

Tickets and full listings

TheRecRoom.com


PLUS!

TORY LANEZ

AMBER LIU

ALEXISONFIRE

HOLY FUCK

AND MORE

Contents

BEATROUTE

BEATROUTE

BEAT

ROUTE

BR

BRLIVE

BRYYZ

Music

4

6

23

25

28

The Guide

Calgary rapper Jae Sterling

has big plans for 2020 and

after his visionary album,

Trap Bby, we’re paying

attention.

Artist Features

Tory Lanez, Alexisonfire,

Torres, Holy Fuck.

The Playlist

All the singles we can’t stop

listening to this month.

Album Reviews

Stormzy, of Montreal,

Tinashe, ...And You Will Know

Us by the Trail Of Dead,

Kaytranada, Free Nationals,

Wolf Parade and more.

Live Reviews

Mariel Buckley closes out a

banner year at the King Eddy

while the Funk Hunters channel

their holiday spirit for the

ultimate dance party.

THE

R EX

Cover Story

20

METEORIC

RISE OF

ORANGE

COUNTY

Rex Orange County

London-based bedroom

pop songwriter Alexander

O ‘Connor AKA Rex Orange

County minds the gap and

croons beyond his internet

beginnings with a toothy

grin.

JANUARY 2020 • FREE

LifeStyle

30 Style

Rising star Lennon Stella shares

+

some tour fashion tips and highlights

her skin care essentials.

10

CANADIAN 32 That's Dope

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

Anders, FrancisGotHeat,

and Rich The Kid deliver

the first song ever

composed from sounds

extracted from a cannabis

plant.

Tinashe is

in complete

control:

Album

reviews,

page 26.

Hockey Dad, Dec. 10, 2019 at The

Gateway, Calgary. Read our review of

this and more online at beatroute.ca

YYC

35

36

38

40

41

Juliet and Romeo

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks put

the famous literary heroine at the

front of their unique rendition of

Shakespeare’s classic tragic love

story.

YYC Agenda

Our High Performance Rodeo

top picks, the Calgary Philharmonic

captures Norway’s folk

spirit in Nordic Greats, and Arts

Commons gets down with Detroit

bluesman, Ace Todd Albright..

Big Winter Classic

Annual winter fest heats up with

top notch talent just in time as

temperatures drop.

Edmonton Extra

Eamon McGrath is DIY for life

while Winteruption gets ready to

welcome Wu-Tang Clan’s illustrious

GZA..

The Cheat Sheet

BeatRoute’s Essential List —

the must-see shows this month

in Calgary.

SEBASTIAN BUZZALINO

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 3


UpFront

JANUARY

10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

BeatRoute spotlights

Jae Sterling and nine other

rising stars on the Canuck

music scene

See page 14

BEATROUTE

Publisher

Julia Rambeau Smith

Editor in Chief

Glenn Alderson

Associate Editor

Brad Simm

Creative Director

Troy Beyer

Managing Editors

Josephine Cruz

Melissa Vincent

Contributing Editors

Sebastian Buzzalino

Dayna Mahannah

Contributors

Ben Boddez • Dora Boras

Catalina Briceno • Mike Dunn

Connor Garel

Fraser Hamilton • Natalie Harmsen

Chayne Japal • Jeevin Johal

Kate Killet • Brendan Lee

Christine Leonard • Dave MacIntyre

Maggie McPhee • Pat Mullen

Johnny Papan • Michael Rancic

Yasmine Shemesh

Graeme Wiggins • Jordan Yeager

Drew Yorke • Aurora Zboch

Contributing Photographers

Joshua Farias • Sam Gherke

Vanessa Heins • Lukas Holt

Zee Khan • Kate Killet

Adrian Morillo • Kay Nyberg

Darrole Palmer • Allison Seto

Maggie Stephenson

Bobby Tamez • Alex Waespi

Coordinator (Live Music)

Darrole Palmer

Advertising Inquiries

Glenn Alderson

glenn@beatroute.ca

778-888-1120

Distribution

BeatRoute is distributed in

Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary,

Edmonton, Winnipeg,

Saskatoon and Toronto

Contact Us

26 Duncan Street, Suite 500,

Toronto ON,

M5V 2B9

e-mail: editor@beatroute.ca

ALLISON SETO

@beatroutemedia

@beatroutemedia

beatroutemedia

beatroute.ca


One Yellow Rabbit's

34th Annual

High Performance Rodeo

Calgary's International Festival of the Arts

January 8 - 26, 2020

TICKETS

ONSALENOW

HPRodeo.ca Photo Credit: Room 2048



MUSiC

A REUNITED

ALEXISONFIRE

REKINDLE

THE FLAME

By JOHNNY PAPAN

A

lexisonfire was at the height of their

career when they announced their

sudden breakup on Valentine’s Day

2011. At that point, the post-hardcore

quintet from St. Catherines,

Ontario had been together for 10

years. Forming in their teens, the band had

grown into adulthood together, spending their

formative years writing, recording, and touring

on the road. Then it all came to a halt.

“It was a necessary trip,” remembers

vocalist George Pettit over the phone from

Hamilton, Ontario. “It was terrifying at first.

We were all little kids when the band started, I

was, like, 19 years old.”

When they released their self-titled debut

in 2002, the band described their sound as

“two Catholic high school girls in mid-knifefight,”

an image that was also used for their

record’s cover. Their music is an eclectic

balance of haunting beauty and utter chaos.

Pettit’s agonizing screech complemented by

the melancholic and soulful voice of guitarist

and co-frontman, Dallas Green, gave the

band a unique edge at the time. The band

became a mainstream sensation after the

release of their second album, Watch Out!,

which was spearheaded by their explosively

ethereal breakout single “Accidents.”

“We got kind of institutionalized by playing

shows and just touring constantly,” Pettit

says. “Being in this band is how we identified

ourselves. So when you lose that, you lose

your identity. I think everybody struggled with

that.”

After disbanding, the group scattered into

different directions: Pettit started the band,

Dead Tired, a post-hardcore outfit that is

sonically dirtier than Alexisonfire in nature,

and exclusively features Pettit’s unmistakable

vocals. Bassist Chris Steele became a barber.

Jordan Hastings filled in on drums for Billy

Talent and joined the gritty, garage-rock outfit,

Say Yes. Guitarist Wade MacNeil became

the frontman of English hardcore punk band,

Gallows, and started the Black Lungs. Dallas

Green shifted focus onto his solo project, City

and Colour.

“I think there was probably a year where

we didn’t communicate too much. We all kind

of went our separate ways and found other

CONTINUED ON PG. 9 k

VANESSA HEINS

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 7


bh2020-beatroute-jan-2020.pdf 1 2019-12-05 11:12 AM

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CM

MY

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CMY

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8 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


VANESSA HEINS

MUSiC ARTIST INTERVIEW

ALEXISONFIRE

k CONTINUED FROM PG. 7

passions away from Alexisonfire. Musically and

otherwise,” says Pettit.

In 2015, three years after completing their

farewell tour, Alexisonfire returned for a show

at Riot Fest in Toronto. The idea was sprung

by Dallas Green, who was originally going

to perform the festival with City and Colour.

Green reached out to the rest of Alexisonfire

via email to see if there was interest in making

a surprise appearance for City and Colour’s

encore, playing a few classic tunes. Pettit

admits he was hesitant at first, but after chatting

with the band, management, and others,

Alexisonfire announced they would play a full

set at the festival.

“I think after some time and convincing we

decided we didn’t need to hold the breakup so

preciously,” he says. “There was still desire out

there to see us play. When [the band] started

coming back again, I mean, it felt like I’d been

away from it so long that I wasn’t sure if I

could still do it, you know? When I was touring

heavily back in the day, I was just numb to performance,

it didn’t scare me. It was like muscle

memory. Now, I don’t do it every day. There is a

little bit of fear. The fear makes it easier to get

to the place of performance. Like there’s more

on the line now.”

Earlier this year, Alexisonfire wrote, recorded

and released new music for the first time in

nine years. “Familiar Drugs” is a raw, abrasive

offering, that Pettit explains as, “coming to a

point in your life when you recognize that you

need to make a change, and being given the

opportunity to make that change.” The second

new release, “Complicit” is an in-your-face

mosher about white privilege and trying to be

an ally while reconciling what it means to reap

its systemic benefits.

“I think we were outside the realm of good

taste by not recording and putting something

out,” Pettit explains. “I don’t think any of us

really want the band to become a nostalgia

act. And I recognize there’s a certain degree of

nostalgia with Alexisonfire. I think we all felt like

we could still contribute and still make good

music.”

Though Pettit denies the idea of Alexisonfire

releasing a fifth full-length record, he claims

that the band has some “secrets” hiding behind

closed doors. He admits that the process of

writing and recording has been revitalizing for

the group.

“Get us in the room and we become who

we’ve always been,” Pettit concludes. “It’s a

lot of wisecracking. It didn’t take much for

us to just kind of fall back into our old roles.

Regardless of what happened, nobody’s really

thinking about that. It felt very comfortable

when we first started hanging out again. That

really drove our creation and making music and

playing again —the sensation of being around

one another. These guys are, for lack of a

better term, like my brothers; they’re very much

family. I really do feel like the years that I spent

away from the band were very valuable. It’s a

good feeling to know that this thing that maybe

we thought was gone is back.” ,

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 9


MUSiC ARTIST INTERVIEW

SUPER

TORY LANEZ

CRAZY

IS ABOUT

TO GO

By CHAYNE JAPAL

just about everything Tory

Lanez does.

At his shows, he

hurls himself into rowdy

crowds, climbs walls like

Spider-Man, and dangles

from whatever’s around,

whether or not it can support

his bodyweight. He’s

undaunted by fellow MCs,

works with the artists he wants to work

with (despite the public opinion around

them), and is quick to counter whoever he

feels disrespected by.

And of course, he’s been known to

10 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020

JOSHUA “MIDJORDAN” FARIAST

here’s a fearlessness to

flip a classic hit every now and then, and

not just for two of his most successful

singles to date – 2015’s “Say It,” which

samples the rich three-part harmony from

Brownstone’s 1995 smash “If You Love

Me,” and 2016’s “LUV,” which borrows from

Tanto Metro and Devonte’s 1998 dancehall

crossover “Everyone Falls In Love”—but

particularly for his beloved Chixtape

series, which launched in 2011, a fan favourite

within his prolific catalogue.

The core of his confidence lies in his

taste, which he defines as a constant

negotiation.

“What they want is what I want,” Lanez

explains, sitting in Toronto’s Adidas store

before a meet-and-greet, where a long

lineup of the fans he’s referring to extends

through the store and up Yonge Street.

“You have to listen to music from the fan’s

perspective, as a fan of your own self,” he

elaborates.

Between the telepathic bond he’s

created with his fanbase and the constant

clamoring on social media, Lanez knew

he had to revisit the series. “I had stopped

singing for the last three years—that’s why

I felt like that essence that the Chixtape

had was gone. But when you listen to Tory

Lanez, there’s always gonna be a variety

of music. I’ll always give you a variety of

lanes.”

The whole point of the

Chixtape project was for

Lanez to put his rhymes aside

and make the sexiest R&B

jams he could, highlighting

his impressive singing

vocals and flexible songwriting.

In 2014, 2 took

a new direction, introducing

a storyline—

told through a series

of lighthearted,

but drama-filled

skits. “It was so

important to

the whole aes-


thetic of the Chixtape,” he explains. The

following year, he would continue to make

samples of 90s and 00s R&B standards

his signature on 2015’s 3 and 2016’s 4.

The songs aren’t covers (nor are they

loops) of familiar songs that Lanez just

sings over. Instead, he uses the originals

as launching points for new compositions.

The classics are confidently screwed,

chopped, reversed, replayed, interpolated,

and filtered in every which way as Lanez

juxtaposes his own and, usually, Play

Picasso’s grimy, almost eerie, sounding

production under his angelic vocals on

odes about relationships, lust, love, and

sex. In some cases, the

samples are barely

recognizable, but

their role in deconstructing the series’

themes of nostalgia and adolescence is

always clear.

For its 5th and newest edition, Lanez

wanted to do something different with the

Chixtape: “Something we felt would push

the narrative and move the needle on it.”

He found his answer when he played

T-Pain his flip of “I’m Sprung,” eventually

titled “Jerry Sprunger. T-Pain was so into

it, he laid a new verse on the remake just

for Lanez. That got the gears turning and

the ball rolling as Lanez recalls, “It was the

T-Pain feature that I used to run to all the

other places and tell people like ‘Yo, I got

T-Pain on this song, so you should do this

with me.’” The-Dream, Mario, Trey Songz,

Mya, and Ashanti – whom Lanez asked

to be the album’s cover model – and

several other artists who dominated the

00s, are seamlessly woven back into new

incarnations of their signature work on

Chixtape 5.

It’s a tough ask, but Lanez

downplays the process of

assembling such a potent

supporting cast for the

project, admitting the

real challenge was

working through the

legalities (“The clearing

process was the only

hard part for me.”) The

fact that Tory Lanez has

built up a reputation —

and a rolodex — that enables

him to execute a

project on this scale

is a feat in itself,

but, ultimately, Lanez and Play Picasso

didn’t let the whole “guest thing” distract

them from putting together an incredible

batch of songs from the most daunting

conspicuous source material imaginable.

And as cool as he’s trying to be about it,

Lanez is proud of his work, plain and simple.

“It’s so nostalgic. It’s so much to give

all in one sitting. It’s really good.”

Chixtape 5 feels like a creative peak

for Tory Lanez: a mammoth of a concept,

only executable by a bold artist. But for

Lanez, it’s still part of the groundwork

for the legacy he’s aspiring to build

for himself. Looking back at a decade

worth of Chixtapes alongside numerous

other triumphs, Lanez is cognizant of

is trajectory. “I came in at 2011. This is

the decade I got famous in, and I stayed

“relevant” throughout the whole decade,”

he laughs as he says “relevant,” as if the

idea of it going any other way for him is an

absurdity.

“[The 2010s] definitely embodies the

foundation of things. When we get down

the line and we look back at these first 10

years, we’re gonna be like ‘Yo, that’s when

everything was just getting started.’ From

2020 and upwards, it’s out of here.”

With a brief headlining tour—featuring

“special guests,” who will more than likely

be a few of the artists featured on 5—on

the horizon, his mentoring of soon-to-be

R&B diva Mariah the Scientist, and more

music on the way (including teasing a 6th

Chixtape), Tory promises he’s not ready to

rest on his laurels. “I’m about to go super

crazy. Crazier than the world could ever

expect from me.” ,

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 11



T

here’s a layered story

behind the cover art

for Silver Tongue,

the fourth album by

Mackenzie Scott, the

NYC-based artist who

performs under the

moniker TORRES.

Hypnotizing, enigmatic,

and cryptic, a painting of Scott in

a black turtleneck illustrates her

delivering a self-assured stare, and

positioned in front of a UFO with her

hand extended, seemingly, inviting

the viewer aboard. “It’s an invitation,”

she describes over the phone from

New York City of the painting created

by her girlfriend, artist Jenna

Gribbon. “An invitation to join me on

my trip.”

For the last seven years, Scott’s

blend of personal narratives, upheld

by tight riffs that highlight small

details, are what has made TORRES

albums feel distinct, like you’re

reading a secret diary or listening

in on someone conversing with

themselves. Even the moniker of

TORRES comes from Scott’s grandfather’s

name, which she explains

is both “arbitrary and meaningful.”

“A family name but also meaning

nothing. Ungendered,” the 28-yearold

Scott clarifies.

For Scott, who’s always told her

own story through the vehicle of

powerful and intimate confessionals,

Silver Tongue is an exercise in

diving into new depths, and towards

a deeper truth which was aided by

finding a new home on different

label.

It’s been a long journey for Scott

to get to where she finds herself

now. After garnering critical acclaim

for her self-titled debut album in

2013 (which she recorded in just

five days), Scott’s music continued

to evolve. While releasing similarly

acclaimed albums — Sprinter (2015)

and Three Futures (2017) —Scott

toured with acts like Sharon Van

Etten, Garbage, Brandi Carlile and

Tegan and Sara.

Just two years ago, she peeled

back the curtain of a broken industry

when she tweeted: “My former

label, 4AD, has decided to drop me

from a 3 album deal for not being

commercially successful enough.

I wish them all the best. Also, fuck

the music industry.” The future of

TORRES seemed uncertain.

“It’s been a really hard couple of

years,” Scott remembers, her voice

hesitant while recalling a difficult

time. “I really think that suffering,

hopefully, makes us more resilient

and resourceful beings. I’m relieved

and grateful for the support I’ve had,

but I’ve also fought tooth and nail to

get here, so I’m proud of myself.”

Scott’s situation was far from

unique, and labels severing ties with

MICHAEL LEVINE

MUSiC ARTIST INTERVIEW

TORRES

feel.”

Mackenzie Scott aka Torres journeys into new songwriting territory

with new self produced album Silver Tongue By FRASER HAMILTON

their artists is far from new. Even

pop superstars like Taylor Swift

aren’t exempt from similar issues,

who is confirmed to be re-recording

her entire discography to gain

ownership of the songs from her

previous label. And more recently,

in 2019, alternative R&B singer

Tinashe recently celebrated the

release of her recent independent

album after years of being trapped

in a controlling label that eventually

dropped her. “I think it probably

happens more than people realize,”

Scott muses. “But most artists are

smart enough not to tweet about it.

“My publicist definitely wasn’t

happy,” she ends with a laugh.

There’s a fine level of discipline to

Silver Tongue which is likely due to

the album’s conception.

The album title itself refers to

the powers of persuasion. “‘Silver

Tongue’ as a phrase really stood

out to me,” Scott explains slowly,

meticulous about selecting the right

words to describe it. “This idea of

wanting something very specific and

pursuing it. Getting and not getting.”

While it’s her fourth record, it’s

also her first time producing it

completely by herself, which offered

a greater degree of autonomy and

new levels of freedom. It underscores

how organized and tidy of

a project Scott can create with

complete control over production.

“It felt like the one thing in my life

that I could control,” Scott admits.

“I absolutely loved producing solo.

There’s always that initial moment

of trepidation when you step into

the studio, but those fears quickly

dissipated. We just started blaring.”

Blaring might be a harsh way to

describe it, but speaks to the album’s

sense of urgency. Silver Tongue is a

beautifully lush, dark and enveloping

record, weighted carefully by Scott’s

deep, haunting vocals as she sings

about new love, gloom, and self-mythologization.

Songs like “Good

Scare” and “Dressing America’’

represent the anxiety we get from

a new and powerful love, scared we

could lose it in an instant. While on

“Gracious Day,” the album’s quiet

and passionate standout, Scott’s

convictions are evident. “I don’t want

you going home anymore,” she sings,

her voice close to quivering. “I want

you coming home.”

With a new album and tour on the

horizon this year, Mackenzie Scott

is eager for the expedition. While

touring may seem like an exhaustive

process to some, Scott looks

forward to the mental and physical

workout. “Touring is a totally extroverted

process, completely physical,

not cerebral,” she finishes, her

excitement evident over the phone.

“I love what a strong tour makes me

,

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 13


10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

EDMONTON

1 Obroa-skai

obroa-skai.bandcamp.com/releases

Obroa-skai opened 2019 with their incredible self-titled record, which

took the harsh noise/screamo band on tour across Canada, and

in 2020 their destructive forces will show no signs of slowing with

two new split records in the works as well as plans for a full-length.

Named after an obscure planet in the Star Wars Extended Universe,

this hardworking trio stand out for their ability to incorporate caustic

noise into more conventional song structures, situating their place in

the ecosystem of extreme music as urgent, vital, and unpredictable.

CALGARY

A year can be an arbitrary unit

of time when it comes to music.

But once all the “best of” dust

has settled, starting a new year

provides a good opportunity to

look forward instead of behind,

and think about artists who

have promising futures ahead

of them. Here’s a list of artists

across the country we think will

be making waves in 2020.

By MICHAEL RANCIC

14 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020

2

Bruce Roach

potatoheadz.bandcamp.com/album/bruce-roach-gut-c-s

Bruce Roach’s Gut cassette was a surprising hit for Melbourne/

Berlin based label Potatoheadz Records last year, but an initial

listen makes it easy to understand why. For 40 minutes, Roach’s

austere techno is executed rawly and wholly entrancing. Stylistically

Roach incorporates elements of early techno and Electronic

Body Music (think Front 242 or early Skinny Puppy) into these

compositions, leaning toward the style’s darker, eerie textures.

Not much is known about the Edmonton-based artist, though

they also collaborated with Montreal-based DJ and producer

PULSUM last year on their The Fear You Give To Me release. Also,

their Soundcloud page, which dates back a few years, is adorned

with screencaps taken from the 1989 Canadian cult horror film

Things which also happens to star an actor named Bruce Roach.

It’s an obscure, but fitting, reference for this gloriously unpolished

project.

ALLISON SETO


TORONTO

VANCOUVER

3 Stripmall

stripmall.bandcamp.com

These self-described “prairie punks”

released the killer debut Surrounding

Area this past summer and have been

gigging hard ever since. Featuring

former members of Blü Shorts, Hag

Face, Shematmomas and WeKnew,

they live up to their noisy pedigree by

delivering bold, gothic country with a

sinister slant. Vocalist Geneva Haley’s

howl is truly fierce, meeting the fiery

intensity of the open-plains-evoking

fretwork, grimy basslines, and unrelenting

percussion of the band as

they contemplate the openness and

bleakness of rural life.

4

Jae Sterling

soundcloud.com/jaesterling

By now Jae Sterling should be

a name that’s familiar to most

Calgarians, whether it’s from his

recent tenure as one of the National

Music Centre’s Artists in Residence

in 2019, or as co-founder of the

Thot Police collective along with

Cartel Madras’s Contra and Eboshi.

On Sterling’s latest tape, Trap Bby,

which arrived in the summer, he declares

he has “Big Plans” and you’d

be remiss to not take him seriously

as someone who can see those

plans through. Trap Bby showcases

his staccato flow over lithe, idiosyncratic

beats that forgo the usual

gauzy, woozy textures of trap for a

sound that’s as clearly defined as

visions can get.

5

James Baley

imjamesbaley.bandcamp.com/album/roads

James Baley has proven himself as an indispensable collaborator and

performer. Whether it’s been backing the likes of Zaki Ibrahim or U.S. Girls

onstage, appearing on the latest LPs from artists as wide-ranging as the

psych-funk sextet Badge Epoque Ensemble, and the deep-house revivalist

AZARI, or his work in Toronto’s Kiki and ballroom scene, the message

is clear: follow Baley’s rich voice and talent wherever he goes. Baley has

released two EPs of his own in 2015 and 2017 respectively, and recently

took part in The Canadian Music Publishers Association Create Canada

song camp in Calgary, so hopefully there’s more where that came from

very soon.

6

Lavender Bruisers

lavenderbruisers.bandcamp.com/releases

Bruisers mastermind Kritty Uranowski is someone who rarely gets

the spotlight shone on her, even though many would agree that

she’s a pillar in Toronto’s music scene. From her previous work in

White Suede and Patti Cake, to managing and mentoring other

artists in ventures like Girls Rock Camp Toronto and Baby Pineapple

Studio, playing with Dorothea Paas and Queen of Swords, or

the recently launched Toronto-centric music podcast Come For

A Ride that she co-hosts with partner Jesse Locke, Uranowski

has her hands in many different projects. Her commanding voice

and knack for smart hooks lie at the centre of Lavender Bruisers’

appeal, and with a great amount of momentum behind her recently

rebooted band, there’s no time like the present to start paying

attention.

7 Biawanna

biawanna.bandcamp.com

After hearing the string of stellar singles that singer/songwriter,

multi-instrumentalist and producer Biawanna released in 2019, you’d

never guess that they were released in their first year as a recording

artist. Right out of the gate, songs like “Care” are written with the

sensibilities toward melody, rhythm and style of a seasoned pro,

while Biawanna’s sleek vocals can’t help but soothe even if they’re

concerned with love lost and personal conflict. With hundreds of

thousands of plays on Spotify already, many have already taken note

of this burgeoning artist’s talents, and it’s only a matter of time before

Biawanna’s name is ubiquitous.

8

DJ Venetta

soundcloud.com/djvenetta

As co-founder of Vancouver’s NuZi, a collective dedicated to providing a

platform for Black, Indigenous, queer and trans women in the city’s electronic

music scene, Venetta (aka Betty Mulat) understands exactly how

political the dancefloor can be. Speaking out against the lack of affordability

in Vancouver for artists and how that directly affects the city’s nightlife,

Venetta has become an outspoken champion for reclaiming the space in

electronic music originally carved out by marginalized people. Her mixes

and productions are just as biting and relevant, oscillating between acid,

funky, tech house and everything in between.

CONTINUED ON PG. 16 k

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 15


10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

VICTORIA

JONAH GRINDLER

9 Sussy

As a solo project for Suzie Raudaschl of Victoria indie pop faves

Bridal Party, Sussy is immediately a much more personal affair, something

reinforced by the stark electronic production of her songs, which fosters a

sense of intimacy and closeness with Raudaschl’s voice. The drum machine

driven backdrop of “Why Bother?” or synthy house of the more recent “1

Busy Gal” (produced by collaborator Madeline Collier) showcase just how

delicate but expressive those vocals can be, as well as the range of styles

and sounds she’s willing to play with here – making Sussy a difficult project

to pin down but all the more exciting for it.

10 Loving

loving.bandcamp.com/

After finding their footing with their highly-acclaimed 2016 self-titled

EP, Loving are readying the release of their first full length, If I Am

Only My Thoughts, this month via Last Gang records. The band’s laid

back, lo-fi folk sticks to everything it touches, like honeyed melodies

that you can’t help but feel drawn to. The band, which features brothers

Lucas and Jesse Henderson and David Parry record their songs

to tape in Parry’s basement, a process which gives their material a

great deal of warmth and timeless feel.

16 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020



Holy Fuck

I still want

everything to be

really difficult

because I feel like

that’s where some

of our best creativity

comes from.

Brian Borcherdt

Toronto-based electronica outfit Holy Fuck dance between

technology, nostalgia and humanity on new album Deleter

By YASMINE SHEMESH


W

hen Holy Fuck’s Brian

Borcherdt is working

on music, he dances.

He prefers to be on his

feet, moving, rather than

sitting still in a chair. It

helps boost his creative

energy. Lately, he does

it every day—not just

in his basement studio,

but with his family. They

recently moved from

Toronto to a rural part

of Nova Scotia, the

province he grew up in.

When there’s not much

to do, they put on records and dance. His

14-month-old daughter especially loves it.

“She understands it,” Borcherdt says, over

the phone. “No one taught her. It’s just inherent

to the human experience, I guess. We

hear music and immediately we start moving.”

Maybe that’s one of the things we continue to

retain, he contemplates. “Maybe that is where

a lot of our freedom comes from. I think there

is some form of protest in that. In a way we’re

saying, ‘I’m not working right now.’”

Being physically engaged has always been

important to the Toronto-based band’s inner

mechanisms, and the theme of intentional

disconnection surfaces often on the group’s

newest album, Deleter, which rejects the concept

of swallowing the technology we come

into contact with whole. Instead—through idiosyncratic

sonics that combine euphoric 90s

electronica with loose, rhythmic beats and,

by design, encourage freeing movement—it

advocates for a different outcome, where we

can still retain autonomy over who we are,

and the art we want to consume.

In the past, Holy Fuck have resisted

working with vocalists, but this time around,

the songs just felt right, as did the musical

landscape.

It seems like a better time now to do

this kind of thing, Borcherdt explains. “Give

people interesting one-offs that sound a little

different and take bigger risks. It’s something

I look forward to doing more, actually.”

Deleter features a handful of carefully

selected collaborations, including post-punk

musician Angus Andrews on the standout

sort of-title track “Deleters,” an infectious,

buzzy stomp; Pond frontman Nicholas

Allbrook on the ebullient “Free Gloss,”

and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor on “Luxe.” For

“Luxe,” which tinges classic house textures

with a folksy warble, Taylor contributed his

vocals through a 1940s-era Voice-o-Graph,

a coin-operated phonograph booth that

scratches audio onto vinyl.

It’s estimated there are only two left in existence:

one in Liverpool and the other at Jack

White’s Third Man studio in Nashville, where

Taylor recorded. Along with a warm vintage

quality, the equipment brings a fascinating

conceptual addition to Deleter that leverages

history to reflect the advances it represented

in the 40s, and remind us how similarly

uncharted the territory feels now.

“I don’t want to get caught up in that

‘thing,’ where I’m just mad at the way things

are changing—an old man who doesn’t like

what the kids are into or something like that,”

Borcherdt adds. “I think part of what makes

things exciting is that things will change. It

doesn’t mean we have to jump headfirst into

them. I think it just takes a little precaution.”

In fact, the Toronto-based electronic

music group is known for how they eschew

genre tradition by using live instrumentation

and non-instruments instead of laptops and

software. When they were starting out, the

approach was, in part, a reaction to how their

contemporaries were exploring a kind of limitless

technology in their music. For Borcherdt,

infiniteness is hard to wrap his head around.

“I like limitations,” he laughs. “That’s part of

what draws me to music: trying my best to do

something. I didn’t study music or anything,

but I’ve always loved it. Music has always

been my number one passion, but I’m coming

at it somewhat as a luddite. I like to pick up a

guitar or whatever to try to pour as much of

myself as I can into it, to try to make it good

as it could be.”

Borcherdt’s enthusiasm informs a question

of where that passion-to-challenge relationship

goes as technology changes and

if there’s a way to subvert the medium, so it

maintains a struggle. “I still want to struggle

when I get onstage,” Borcherdt continues. “I

still want to struggle in the studio. I still want

everything to be really difficult because I feel

like that’s where some of our best creativity

comes from.”

It persists as a fundamental consideration

for Holy Fuck, especially today where nearly

all of our day-to-day interactions happen

within a digitized realm. Responding to that as

a musician is difficult. With all the music in the

world at our fingertips, who’s really listening?

“We’re actually probably reaching more

people in one sense, so that’s kind of exciting,”

Borcherdt says. When it comes to the

time and sacrifice it takes to create an album,

though, it can feel disproportionate. “It leaves

you wondering how many people are making

a strong connection.”

Borcherdt grew up during a time where

finding common ideals among his peers was

challenging, especially in an area without

much exposure to what he was looking for. “It

created this thirst for inspiration, but it also

created an appreciation for those things that

I did find along the way,” he says. “Whether it

meant picking up albums and spending that

hard-earned money on them at the record

store, getting home and not even really liking

it. You know, that disappointment,” he laughs.

“And we’ve maybe forgotten what that feels

like, disappointment. But there’s also that elation

and sense of ownership, that something

can really represent to you. I think about that

so often because [now] we have everything.”

With expansive technological landscapes

come the perplexity that we don’t exactly

know who is controlling algorithms or how

our data is actually being used. Borcherdt

worries if the ambiguous vastness of it all

is more dangerous than we realize, and we

might not fully understand how vulnerable we

are. “I think that our best protection of that is

just being aware of it,” he continues. “I enjoy

having the option of unplugging and I enjoy

having the option of deleting.” ,

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JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 19


RE

LONDON-BASED, SINGER-

SONGWRITER ALEXANDER

O′CONNOR AKA

REX ORANGE COUNTY

IS A SOULFUL

ARTIST FOR THE

INTERNET

AGE

XORANGE COUNTY

By

JORDAN

YEAGER

20 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


R

ex Orange County

doesn’t mind

putting himself

under the magnifying

glass. E arly

on, he realized he

wasn’t the band

type, finding it

creatively nourishing to do it all himself. From

writing deeply insular lyrics, to producing synthy,

sunshine-soaked melodies to accompany them,

it’s been the prerogative of the multi-instrumentalist

to be the sole narrator of his own story.

While the reflective, insular nature of his work

has worked in his favour—he boasts more than

8.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify and 1.1

million followers on Instagram—his artistry is an

argument for the benefits of thriving in solitude.

The only person Rex follows back on Instagram

is his girlfriend of four years, Thea.

Rex Orange County hails a long way from his

sunny west coast namesake. Born Alexander

O’Connor in the Surrey village of Grayshott,

England, the singer-songwriter spent his formative

years in the suburbs, dreaming of escaping

the school system and taking control of his life.

At 16, O’Connor moved to London to attend

The BRIT School, a highly selective performing

arts institution notable for renowned alumni

like Adele, Amy Winehouse, FKA Twigs, and

Leona Lewis.

“I was dying to go, so I worked a little

harder,” he says over the phone from

the UK. Though notoriously difficult

to get into for anyone outside of

London, O’Connor managed to secure

his spot at the school by committing

himself to mastering the

drums, his instrument of choice

since his elementary school choir

days. He turned out to be one of only

four drummers in the class of 2016, which

enabled him to work with a wide range of peers

and genres – after all, everyone needs percussion.

The variety exposed him to possibilities

he hadn’t considered for his own music before,

like taking up guitar, honing his singing skills and

learning music production software.

“Everything I do to this day is thanks to [The

BRIT school]. My friends there were doing all

these different things, and I had nothing other

than drums. I was like, ‘I should probably do

something other than this.’” Of the school’s

impressive roster, he was inspired by the level of

ambition the school normalized. “I just think people

are driven there,” he muses. “If I’m honest, I

think they had a good run with a few people in

the beginning, and that inspired others to go. I’m

not going to lie, I think ultimately it’s the people

who went there that made it for themselves, not

necessarily the school itself.”

“I only have good things to say about my time

there,” he continues. Some highlights? “Simon

Cowell came in one time. He was giving a

speech about music, but it didn’t last very long.

I think he had somewhere else to be. And Ne-Yo

came in! Do you know Ne-Yo? Of course you do;

I just had to make sure.”

In 2015, before he had even graduated,

O’Connor released his debut album, bcos u will

never b free, an entirely self-produced, quintessential

bedroom pop album. Tyler, the Creator

found the mixtape on SoundCloud and, impressed,

reached out to compliment O’Connor’s

style. Then he flew him out to L.A. in late 2016

to collaborate on Flower Boy which resulted in

O’Connor featuring on “Foreword,” and earning

a writing credit for “Boredom,” with a writing

credit for the former.

“I thought it was somebody else,” O’Connor

remembers about receiving that first email from

Tyler. “He had an email address that sounded

like it would be him, but I thought it wasn’t. I was

like, ‘Why on earth would he reach out to me

right now, at this point in my life?’”

At the time, O’Connor had not completed

Apricot Princess, his ultra-personal sophomore

effort, but his work on Flower Boy had been

revelatory. Wanting a similarly well-rounded

portfolio of his own material, he continued working.

Hard. And ended up releasing 2017’s Apricot

Princess before Flower Boy had even come out.

That’s one of the benefits of operating solo: you

maintain total control not only of production, but

also of when your work is released.

“On Apricot Princess, I produced pretty much

all of it myself, other than a couple helping

hands,” explains O’Connor. “The mixing was

done by Ben Baptie,” who went on to play a

heavy hand in not only the mixing but also the

production, composition and lyrics for 2019’s

Pony.“This time around, [on Pony], Ben and I

actually got deeper. [He’s on] pretty much all the

songs from the ground up. There were a couple

other musicians as well, but no feature artists

listed or anything like that.”

His introverted method of making music

makes sense, considering the personal nature of

each of his projects – he revels in getting to the

core of universal experiences, which often feel

lonely and isolating from the inside. Whereas

Apricot Princess was an upbeat, rose-tinted

ode to Thea, the subsequent two years of

O’Connor’s life took him to parts of his soul that

were previously unknown. On Pony, O’Connor

delves even deeper into his own psyche through

themes of love, longing, and growing distant

from old friends.

On the first lines of the opening track, “10/10,”

he muses, “I had a think about my oldest friends

/ Now I no longer hang with them.” The rest

of the album takes its listeners on a journey

through the poignant ups and downs of this

period in O’Connor’s life – a sort of in-between

phase, when he’s achieved what he’s always

wanted and it came with some downsides he

didn’t expect. When O’Connor turns inward, he

wears his vulnerability on his sleeve. His lyrics

are delivered with a confident cognizance of

who he is, and what he stands for, and that

self-assurance seems to stem from the ability to

admit when he’s unsure.

“I still wanted to be the only one telling the

story, and not relying on anyone else to make

the song better. It’s a blessing and a curse:

you’re the one that makes all the decisions, so

you’re happy with it, but at the same time that’s a

burden to take on.”

CONTINUED ON PG. 22 k

ALEX WAESPI

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 21


RE

XORANGE COUNTY

k CONTINUED FROM PG. 21

“There’s so much that’s

happened to me that I

hadn’t expected before,”

he continues. “I’ve had a

difficult time. The years

from 18 to 21 are quite

important for everyone, I

imagine, and for me, there

was a lot of negativity that

I didn’t see coming. When

REX ORANGE

COUNTY

Monday, Jan. 20

PNE Forum (Vancouver)

Wednesday, Jan. 29

to Jan. 31

Danforth Music Hall

(Toronto)

Tix: $36.59 - $46.59

I was making Apricot Princess and bcos u will

never b free, [my relationship] was all I had to

talk about and all I really wanted to talk about.”

As O’Connor’s position in the world has

shifted, so have his ambitions as a songwriter.

“This time around, there’s a lot I wanted to

discuss rather than love so much,” he continues.

“But songs like ‘Pluto Projector,’ ‘Everyway,’ and

‘It Gets Better’ celebrate the positive side, and

having that relationship. We’ve made space to

talk about me being on the other side of the

world and missing her – which is still a massive

part of my life – but there are all these other

things I wanted to address. They were more

pressing in my mind.”

When asked what exactly he went through,

O’Connor deflects, brushing it off as “hard to

explain right now.” But he’s never been one

to dwell on the negatives, anyway – listen to

Pony and you’ll hear that acceptance is more

his speed. The result is an album drenched in

emotion that evokes images of dancing in a

flower-strewn field, alone except for the chirping

birds. It’s the morning after a life-changing

party, and now you’re reflecting on the night by

yourself, glad it happened because you learned

something about yourself.

“The whole album is actually about getting

through that period of time and looking back at

the end of the tunnel and being like, ‘That was

very, very tough, but look at me now.’ I can talk

about it and put it into a song, and it’s just a

song. Things are better now.” That sentiment

is actually how the album closes out – its final

track, “It’s Not the Same Anymore,” ends with

the line “It’s not the same anymore / It’s better.”

On top of the universal anxieties of growing

up, O’Connor has the additional pressure of

doing so on an international stage. Pony is his

first major-label release, and the only album he’s

recorded with the knowledge that, yes, people

will definitely be listening.

“I spent a lot of time feeling scared in the last

The whole

album is actually

about getting through

that period of time and

looking back at the end

of the tunnel and being

like, ‘That was very,

very tough, but look

at me now.’

few months, just being nervous, because

it’s a different feeling having more people

listening,” he says. “It was harder for sure. I

spent quite a bit more time looking at each

of the things involved, whether it be lyrics

or production, just me and Ben in a room for

hours going over things more intensely than

I did before. Saying the right thing, and not

saying things, just to say them is very important

to me. Right now, though, I’m excited.”

In fact, O’Connor says making Pony is the

accomplishment he’s proudest of to date. He

took his time with it, painstakingly contemplating

each decision until he was absolutely sure it was

the best it could be. Although his rise to fame

seems sudden, the foundation has been laid for

years, and O’Connor urges other artists to be

mindful and deliberate with their work, too.

“If you go up very quickly, you come down

very quickly,” he advises. “So try to take your

time and make considerate decisions and don’t

let other people run your career.” ,

ALEX WAESPI

22 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


The Playlist

BEATROUTE

RIGHT

BEATROUTE

BEAT

ROUTE

BR

BRLIVE

BRYYZ

10 SONGS IN

HEAVY ROTATION

AT THE BR OFFICES

NOW

CHECK OUT

BEATROUTE.CA

FOR MORE HOT

TRACKS ON

OUR ROTATING

PLAYLIST

+ VIDEOS,

ARTIST

INTERVIEWS

AND MORE!

Lil Uzi Vert

Futsal Shuffle

2020

We have to give

credit to Lil Uzi

for featuring

Vancouver’s own

Nardwuar on a

surefire hit song,

closing the track

with a sample

from one of his

many encounters

with the plaidclad

interview

king. Predictably

unorthodox, with

skittering techno

synths reminiscent

of old soccer

videos set to

rave music.

The Weeknd

Blinding Lights

Perfect for his

new shades-toting

80s pimp

and/or Scarface

drug kingpin

look, The

Weeknd teams

up once again

with pop savant

Max Martin for

an electrifying

and upbeat

synthpop track

that never loses

the mysterious,

dark and twisted

essence that

makes him so

unique. Abel rolls

through Vegas

and struggles

with romance

once again.

Kaytranada

(Ft. Kali Uchis)

10%

Kali Uchis wants

her money.

Kaytranada’s

funk-inspired hiphop

production

has the ability

to make anyone

sound like their

absolute coolest

selves, but Uchis’

permanently

aloof and confident

delivery

never needed

much of a lift

in that department

anyway.

Sometimes all

you need is a

pounding house

groove and a

great bassline.

Grimes

My Name

Is Dark

Grimes, in her

perfect, completely

bonkers

way, described

this track on

Twitter as “a very

not pg13 ethereal

Shadow of the

Colossus demon

nu-metal song

about insomnia.”

“Imminent annihilation

sounds so

dope,” she sings

in her jarringly

cutesy voice, just

one of the many

thoughts that

crosses her mind

when she lies

awake at night.

Stormzy

(Ft. Headie One)

Audacity

This is surprisingly

the first

collaboration

between the

smooth-voiced

alt-R&B duo and

the king of styrofoam

cups and

Auto-crooned

raps. Main

vocalist Daniel

Daley sounds

eerily like Drake,

right down to

the emotionally

distant flexes, as

he trades verses

with Future over

a slow-jam beat

from producer

Nineteen85.

Tame Impala

Posthumous

Forgiveness

A track that originally

debuted

in the Mortal

Kombat 11 trailer,

the ever-menacing

Savage slices

up his opponents

like Liu Kang in

the full version.

Dropping quite a

few references

to the gaming

franchise

amongst his

usual deadpan

humour and

quotables, this

is over four minutes

of straight

bars.

Khruangbin

(Ft. Leon Bridges)

Texas Sun

The uncategorizable

Texas trio

team up with one

of the smoothest

vocalists in the

game for the title

track of an upcoming

EP about

all things Lone

Star State. With

cover art depicting

an open road,

Khruangbin step

into folksy country

and Americana

territory as

Bridges sweetly

sings about driving

through every

Texas locale with

the girl of his

dreams.

Teyana

Taylor

We Got Love

Conceptualized

during Kanye

West’s 2018 Wyoming

Sessions,

the track finally

materializes minus

the original

verse from Mr.

West but still

brimming with

his personality in

the production

featuring heavy

percussion, orchestral

strings

and a gospel

choir. Taylor is

a star in and of

herself, rap-singing

and flexing

about the love in

her life instead

of her material

possessions.

Okay Kaya

Asexual

Wellbeing

Norwegian

bedroom-pop

artist Okay Kaya

uses some of

the year’s most

vivid, allusive

and bluntly

humorous lyrics

to construct a

pulsating and

self-deprecating

anthem about

being there for

a lover, vegan

peanut butter

chocolate ice

cream in hand,

even if the sexual

side of the

relationship isn’t

as fun as it could

be. The many instrumental

quirks

are strangely

infectious.

La Roux

Gullible Fool

The second single

from the first

La Roux album in

six years, this is

a full seven minutes

of the retro-pop

mastery

that we’ve come

to know from

Elly Jackson. An

uptempo piano

ballad that grows

into a deliciously

rhythmic synthfunk

jam session,

Jackson pounds

the keys and

criticizes herself

for getting too

optimistic about

the future of a

relationship once

again.

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 23



Reviews

ALBUM

STORMZY

Heavy is the Head

#Merky

Last summer, Stormzy headlined

Glastonbury wearing a

Union Jack-emblazoned stab

vest made for him by Banksy.

The artwork for his sophomore

album, Heavy is the

Head, depicts the English

rapper looking down at the

vest while wearing a text

crown reading “h.i.t.h.,” a

not so subtle metaphor for

his ascent to the top of the

British grime scene.

Stormzy continues the

blistering form he’s been on

since his 2015 single, “Shut

Up.” The ruthless, aggressive

delivery on “Wiley

Flow,” to well-placed

features from H.E.R. on

“One Second” and Headie

One on “Audacity,” to

heart-on-sleeve tracks

like “Rachael’s Little

Brother” and “Lessons”

all serve as highlights.

Heavy is the Head

shows Stormzy sounding

as confident and assured

as ever.

Best Track: Wiley Flow

Dave MacIntyre

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 25


MUSiC ALBUM REVIEWS

...AND YOU WILL KNOW

US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD

X: The Godless Void and

Other Stories

Dine Alone

Back in motion after a six-year lull,

Austin’s …And You Will Know Us

by the Trail of Dead celebrates lead

singer Conrad Keely’s return from

living in Cambodia by releasing a

10th full-length LP.

Bursting with creativity and

emotion, the versatile post-hardcore

outfit’s painterly riffs and spirited

harmonies generate grand impressionistic

landscapes on “All Who

Wander” and “Something Like This.”

Further in, the dauntless title

track, “Who Haunts the Haunter,”

and “Through the Sunlit Door ‘’

slice through thorny heart brambles

with laser-synth precision.

The electronically-enhanced

“Gravity” delivers a crashing

crescendo blow, before dropping

a thought bomb on your cognitive

ground zero.

Best Track: Don’t Look Down

Christine Leonard

TINASHE

Songs For You

Tinashe Music Inc.

ANTI-FLAG

20/20 Vision

Spinefarm Records

KAYTRANADA

BUBBA

RCA

WOLF PARADE

Thin Mind

Royal Mountain Records

“All these songs are for you baby.

You know who you are,” Tinashe

whispers on the six-second

“You.”

It’s a message to the loyal fans

who have waited patiently for

Tinashe Jorgensen Kachingwe

to finally reclaim her own sound.

After years of label interference

and a solid album in 2018 where

struggles over her sound were

apparent, R&B songwriter Tinashe

is finally back, completely

independent with an album full of

songs – for you.

Right from the start, Tinashe

makes it clear she has no ill will

towards her past troubles on

opening track, “Feelings.” “You’re

still stuck in the past,” she teases.

“I don’t get mad, I get bags.”

It’s a little bittersweet but

exhilarating how free she finally

sounds here, letting her voice

explore different octaves over

late night R&B beats and low-fi

disco tracks.

Songs For You cements

Tinashe’s staying power, proving

just how good an artist can be

when they’re in complete control

of their own sound.

“Would you fight for what you

want?” she asks on “So Much

Better.”

Tinashe clearly knows what

she wants, and she finally got it.

Best Track: Stormy Weather

Fraser Hamilton

With 20 years of pumping out

aggressive anarcho-punk anthems

under their studded belts, Pittsburgh’s

Anti-Flag stand head-andshoulders

above the mosh pit of

their hardcore peers.

Driving home the quartet’s

current politi-punk sentiments, the

crashing opener, “Hate Conquers

All,” takes direct aim at Trump’s

administration with defiant vitriol.

Clear and concise cuts like

“It Went Off Like a Bomb,” “The

Disease,” and “A Nation Sleeps”

pour gasoline on America’s cultural

dumpster fire.

Meanwhile, the sidelong approach

of “Don’t Let the Bastards

Get You Down,” “Christian Nationalist,”

and “Un-American” sympathize

with the battle fatigue that comes

with being woke as AF.

Best Track: Hate Conquers All

Christine Leonard

It’s been two and a half years since

Kaytranada’s Polaris and Juno-winning

debut album, 99.9%, and he

clearly took the time carefully

crafting his follow up, BUBBA.

Kaytranada made his name on

the back of a signature sound that

took Soundcloud by storm—one

marked by soupy basslines and

swinging drums. BUBBA bears

witness to Kaytra’s growth from

bedroom producer to bonafide

pioneer, one who has left a deep

mark on pop music as we look to a

new decade.

Kali Uchis, Pharrell, Tinashe,

Charlotte Day Wilson, SiR, and others

lend their talents without ever

taking away too much attention

from the star of this show, which is

Kaytranada’s lush productions and

thoughtful artistry.

Best Track: What You Need

Josephine Cruz

Set in front of the now-common

backdrop of the late-technological

ennui era, Wolf Parade’s fifth

studio album attempts to reconcile

our quasi-cyborg condition with

the beating hearts that remain

inside us still. Lead single, the

frenetic “Forrest Green,” tries to

make sense of the band’s natural

surroundings on Vancouver Island,

where the album was recorded.

The idyllic and spiritual island functions

as a metonym for the larger

condition of life according to Wolf

Parade, a sort of paradise lost to

big consumption and bigger money.

With heavy use of vintage

synths and some of the band’s

most urgent performances on

record, Thin Mind features a Wolf

Parade ready for a resistance that

starts within.

Best Track: Forrest Green

Sebastian Buzzalino

26 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


FREE NATIONALS

Free Nationals

OBE, LLC / EMPIRE

Hip-hop of the grooviest order

is presented to you here by Free

Nationals. Anderson .Paak’s choice

touring band step into the light on

their self-titled debut.

Cruising through low-key funk at

a delicious pace—slow-mo, sped

up—Kelsey Gonzalez, Ron Avant,

Callum Connor and José Rios lasso

in their signature mix of cosmically

velvet instrumentals.

Featuring sublime artists like

Daniel Caesar, .Paak, Kali Uchis

and the late Mac Miller, the album

sways to beats about lovin’ and

chillin’, with the Nat’s own Connor

waxing poetic on two tracks. The

Free Nationals have true swagger

and street cred all their own.

Best Track: Oslo

Dayna Mahannah

BEACH SLANG

Deadbeat Bang of

Heartbreak City

Bridge 9 Records

OF MONTREAL

UR FUN

Polyvinyl

A psychotropic electro-pop

extravaganza, of Montreal, return

with their 16th album, UR FUN.

It’s a mature and otherworldly

blend of time periods, ranging

from 90s-inspired indie summer

jams to whole sections that feel

transported straight from the 80s

pop scene.

Raring guitars, funked out

basslines, and endearing choruses

densely populate the 10-track

effort that’s all about living life in

love.

The band has long been known

for their wacky avante-garde

vibe, and with yet another release

chocked full of lines like, “I can’t

go to work today cuz I’ve forgotten

how to human,” ringleader

Kevin Barnes absolutely does not

disappoint.

Best Track: St. Sebastien

Brendan Lee

Beach Slang have always been

about channeling the power of

rock and roll to bring hope to the

bleakest of places.

With their latest offering, they’ve

double downed on the rock and

toned down the hopeful notes, offering

a bleaker and more nihilistic

take on the world. It’s a bombastic

album that builds on their Replacements

influences (bassist Tommy

Stinson even has a guest appearance)

with cock rock swagger.

If you thought frontman James

Alex’s Quiet Slang project would

take the band down a notch

volume-wise, this album proves

otherwise. Lead single “Bang Rang

Rang” is a high octane glam-punk

rush of adrenalin that takes their

familiar sound and sleazes it up in

all the right ways.

Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak

City rings through with a beefier

and crunchier sound, boasting

enough hooks and monster riffs to

keep you riding high.

Graeme Wiggins

HARRY STYLES

Fine Line

Columbia

Harry Styles has finally found his

own sound on his psychedelic

sophomore album, Fine Line.

The former One Direction

member shed his image with his

sweeping self-titled solo debut,

but fell into a trap of imitating his

favourite rock legends instead of

creating something personal. This

time around, Styles easily dances

past the sophomore slump in

sparkling fashion, and isn’t afraid

to banish everyone’s expectations.

The record, which was recorded

under the influence of hallucinogenic

mushrooms, begins as

a party with the glittering funky

standout, “Watermelon Sugar,”

and the dark disco-inflected

“Adore You.” It quickly fades from

its euphoric kickoff, and halfway

through descends into a comedown

where the joy evaporates

and is replaced with sentimental

piano-driven and folksy ballads.

Styles toys with the ukulele,

flirts with some synths, and plays

around with jazzy horns. The

result is an array of songs that

delve into heartache and explore

the many layers that result from

finding love and losing it.

Fine Line is experimental but

playful, not straying far from the

territory of his idols, David Bowie

and Stevie Nicks, whose influences

peek through.

Now, Styles is fully in control,

letting loose and having fun.

His heart is open, and beautiful

melodies and soulful lyricism are

pouring out.

Best Track: Lights Up

Natalie Harmsen

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 27


Live

MUSiC

Calgary

MARIEL BUCKLEY

December 12, 2019

Studio Bell at National Music Centre

Never one to rest on her laurels,

Mariel Buckley’s victory lap after

winning the top prize at this year’s

Project Wild featured an expanded

band, special guests and a rollicking,

rousing set that spanned the breadth

of her Americana-inspired roots rock.

Comfortable in front of the nearly

sold-out crowd for the last Alberta

Spotlight show at Studio Bell of the

season, Buckley wasted no time

getting right to the point: fierce and

unapologetic, she ripped into “Wait”

with her red-hot band vamping behind

her, a full seven-member ensemble

taking flight and filling up the gorgeous

room (and building, the back of

the Performance Hall open to the rest

of the National Music Centre) with

their huge sound.

Adding keys and a slide guitar

were not the only surprises Buckley

had in store: midway through the set,

she invited her brother, T. Buckley, to

the stage for a full-band cover of the

Hip’s “Ahead By a Century,” as well

as a beautiful duet of Hayes Carll’s

“Beaumont.” Not done yet, Buckley

joked between songs, introducing upcoming

numbers “the real way” with

the stories that inspired “Jumping the

Fence,” a live debut of “Stray Dogs”

and her very first Christmas song,

“Get On With It.”

Finally, a huge, spacey rendition of

“Motorhome” wrapped up the show,

putting a larger-than-life bow on a

breakout 2019 for Mariel Buckley.

With 2020 set to record a new album,

it won’t be long until she becomes a

household name.

Sebastian Buzzalino

SEBASTIAN BUZZALINO

28 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


Calgary

FUNK HUNTERS

December 14, 2019

The Palace Theatre

Vancouver DJ duo the Funk

Hunters made their annual festive

pilgrimage to Calgary with friends

Naturalist and Skratch Bastid,

celebrating five years of Funk the

Halls.

The holiday bash is a fan

favourite. Tickets sold out online

the night of the event, leaving last

minute buyers frantically seeking

that golden ticket.

The energy in the Palace on

this brisk Saturday night was

thick with excitement as people

waited to see the Funk Hunters,

who were recently announced on

Bass Coast Music Festival’s first

wave lineup.

Funk the Halls keeps turning

up the notch each year. It’s clear

the show is meticulously thought

out from start to finish, including

production to track selection.

The Funk Hunters satisfied

with their blend of glitch hop, hiphop,

funk, and soul. However, it

was “The Digital,” their collaboration

with Defunk, and “Body

Move” with A.Skillz that pushed

the crowd into a full-on dance

marathon.

The duo’s musical prowess

was also on full display as they

worked the decks, seamlessly

transitioning each track.

After a captivating performance

and relentless applause,

the group came back on stage to

surprise fans with a sweaty encore

to cap the night off, leaving

the halls sufficiently funked.

Catalina Briceno

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 29

BOBBY TAMEZ


Style

5

SKIN CARE

TOUR TIPS

WITH

LENNON

STELLA

By DORA BORAS

1

2

3

4

L

ennon Stella has

come a long way

since she, along with

her sister Maisy, first

charmed audiences

as children, performing

pop hits on YouTube.

Poised for the spotlight,

she graduated to the role of

Maddie Conrad on the show

Nashville until 2018. Today,

Stella has embarked on her

own projects, including her

well-known radio hit “La Di

Da,” a collaboration with pop

favourites The Chainsmokers,

and her latest single, “Kissing

Other People.”

With an ever-growing fanbase

and a promising first fulllength

album in progress, Stella

is a rising star, spending the

bulk of her time on tour, sharing

her music with the world.

BeatRoute sat down with

Stella at the Annex Hotel to

ask her to share her tour fashion

and skin care tips that she

lives by on the road.

Taking inspiration from

the late 60s and early 70s,

Stella gets her style inspiration

from rock royalty of the past,

naming Janis Joplin and Stevie

Nicks as her go-to muses both

in fashion and music. With

Pinterest as her guide, the pop

starlet uses the inspiration

board website to search for

new cues and insights on her

personal vision. “When I was

a little younger, I loved the Almost

Famous sixties vibe. Now

I feel like seventies - collars

and buttons – I’m very drawn

to,” she says.

Simple and sweet, Stella’s

go-to makeup products are a

mix of beauty lover’s classics

and new renegades.

5

1. “Lip liner is big for me!”

Cork by Mac & Coconut by

Kylie Cosmetics

2. BECCA Blush

“I love BECCA Blush!” I like it

to be dewy with lashes.”

3. The world needs to know

about: Sanitas Brightening

Peel Pads. “They’re literally

life changing and everybody

in the world needs them.”

4. Tried and true: Neutrogena

makeup wipes

5. Lights Out: Kiehl’s night

time oil with moisturizer

30 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


RALPH

MORE INFO AT: BEATROUTE.CA/BEATROUTE-EVENTS

NMC presents

ALBERTA

SPOTLIGHT

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JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 31


That’s Dope THIS

MONTH IN CANNABIS NEWS AND VIEWS

W

hether you

prefer Black

Sabbath’s

“Sweet Leaf” or Young Thug’s

“Stoner,” there are plenty of

songs to choose from if you’re

looking for a song about weed.

But how about a song made

from weed? The pool of songs

to choose from is whittled down

from thousands to just one.

Producer FrancisGotHeat, R&B

singer Anders and chart-topping

rapper Rich The Kid recently

came together to create the

first-ever commercially available

song composed from sounds

extracted from a cannabis plant.

The result is their track “Sticky

Situation,” and while it’s undeniable

that the result is a hot beat

with a catchy hook and lyrics, we

still wanted to understand how

the whole thing worked exactly,

so we decided to go straight to

the source.

“We initially had our team record

bio rhythmic vibrations from

our new proprietary cannabis

strain [the aptly-named “Sticky

Situation”] we are currently developing

at the Merry Jane Labs

420 DECIBELS

Anders, FrancisGotHeat, and Rich The Kid deliver the first song ever composed from

sounds extracted from a cannabis plant By JOSEPHINE CRUZ

in Los Angeles,

Kai Henry, Chief Strategy Officer

of MERRY JANE explains of the

innovative process: “Then we converted

these vibrations into MIDI

data, so we can export through

music programs and actually hear

the plants through different instruments.”

It was then that FrancisGotHeat

involved to work his magic with the

MIDI samples, and take them from

recordings of vibrations into a full

track. “I incorporated the plant in

the beat in several ways, the biggest

being the main melody,” says

Francis. “I took the MIDI signal of

Anders FrancisGotHeat Rich The Kid

the plant and routed it to a plug-in

which gave it a bell-like sound. I

also used the raw sounds of the

plant as just some background percussive

elements or ear candy.”

Once the production was finalized,

it just needed some vocals

which come courtesy of Rich The

Kid and Anders, whom Francis has

collaborated with in the past. “Me

and Francis are always working

on some cool shit together,” says

Anders, “but when he told me he

was going to put a weed plant in

the booth and make a beat with it,

I didn’t even understand what he

saying. But I was down!”

The track was released in

conjunction with the one year anniversary

of legalization in Canada,

and it seems fans are enjoying the

vibes thus far: the song has racked

up over 500,000 streams on Spotify

alone.

While Anders and FrancisGotHeat

may have never thought

they’d be making a song with

(not just about) weed, the experience

of making “Sticky Situation”

served as a reminder about the

endless possibilities technology

has provided us with today when

it comes to creating.

“I made this whole beat based

off of plant signals,” Francis says.

“It could be anything next.” ,

32 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


Wings $5/lb after 4pm with beverage purchase, gst not included, dine in only.

18+, legal ID required. this event is open to all SAIT students, staff, faculty,

alumni, members, and guests. please visit Saitsa.com for more information.

18+, Legal ID required. This event is open to all Sait students, staff, faculty, alumni, members, and guests. Please visit Saitsa.com for more information.

H O

L Y

F U C K

THE NEW ALBUM AVAILABLE JANUARY 17, 2020

FEATURES ALEXIS TAYLOR (HOT CHIP),

NICHOLAS ALLBROOK (POND),

ANGUS ANDREW (LIARS)

WHAT’S HAPPENING

FREE

TO PLAY

WED, NOV. 6, 2019

$5/LB WINGS

5:00PM REGISTRATION | 5:30PM BINGO

Saitsa.com/Events

Wed. Jan. 8, 2020

The Gateway Presents

WINGO

BINGO + WINGS! FREE TO PLAY!

Fri. Jan. 10, 2020

Monster Energy Presents

Headphone

INAUDIBLE Party

Free Event – Tickets via Universe.com

Tue. Jan. 21, 2020

The Gateway Presents

JON BRYANT

+ Josh Hyslop

Wed. Jan. 22, 2020

The Gateway Presents

DIRTY BINGO

FREE TO PLAY

Thur. Feb. 6, 2020

The Gateway Presents

RU PAUL’S

DRAG RACE TRIVIA

FREE TO PLAY

Wed. Feb. 12, 2020

The Gateway Presents

BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH

+ Odario Williams

Sat. Feb. 15, 2020

The Gateway Presents

SOULFLY

+ Toxic Holocaust & more

Wed. Jan. 15, 2020

The Gateway Presents

DISNEY TRIVIA

FREE TO PLAY

DIRTY BINGO

Hosted by Felicia Bonée

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+GST W/ purchase of beverage

DRAG QUEEN

PERFORMANCES

Sept. 18 2019

FREE TO PLAY • Registration 5 p.m. • Game 5:30 p.m.

THE GATEWAY V203 Campus Centre

Wed. Jan. 22, 2020

The Gateway Presents

ATLANTIC STRING

ORCHESTRA

at The Odyssey

Thur. Feb. 20, 2020

CJAY 92 Presents

ROYAL TUSK

+ BRKN Love + Sights & Sounds

Sat. Jan. 18, 2020

CJAY 92 Presents

THE STATIC SHIFT

+ The Velveteins

Sat. Feb. 1, 2020

Monster Energy Presents

ONE BAD SON

Free Tickets via Universe.com

Sat. Mar. 21, 2020

CJAY 92 Presents

THE BLUE STONES

+ Mute Choir

For a list of all upcoming events visit GatewayYYC.com/Events

And make sure to follow us @gatewaybar to catch all the latest announcements!

18+, Legal ID required. This event is open to all Sait students, staff, faculty, alumni, members, and guests.

Please visit Saitsa.com for more information.

GatewayYYC.com

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 33


Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

25 January 2020 / 7:30PM

Jack Singer Concert Hall

Nordic Greats

Discover Norway’s lost Violin Concerto

at this concert inspired by the landscape of

Music Director Rune Bergmann’s homeland —

featuring Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing

and choreography by Yukichi Hattori.

Tickets from $25. Presented as part of

One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo.

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and a friend to select concerts.

Register at calgaryphil.com/cposs.

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34 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


YYC

01.20

JULIET AND ROMEO

Decidedly Jazz

Danceworks

Reimagines

Shakespeare’s

Classic Love Story

By BRAD SIMM

A

rtistic Director Kim Cooper is quick to

point out that the new Decidedly Jazz

Danceworks production is called Juliet

and Romeo, rather than the original Shakespearean

title, Romeo and Juliet.

“It’s called that because we were interested in

exploring more of Juliet’s perspective,” she says.

“We didn’t add anything more to the story, we just

think Juliet is more interesting, so we choose to

focus on her.”

When soliciting feedback on the original play,

Cooper’s insight that Juliet is the more impressive

character has resonated well with both women and

men.

“We talked to people taking English (degrees) and

they felt, ‘Well, Romeo is kind of stupid, and Juliet

gets screwed.’ To which I said, ‘Yes! Come see the

play!’” laughs Cooper. “Romeo’s a bit flakey, while

she’s a real powerhouse in the story. We suggest

what would happen if she was able to make her own

decisions, it would have turned out differently.”

While the ending doesn’t actually change in DJD’s

version, Juliet at the forefront certainly makes you

feel it should have been different. She stood up to

the patriarchy, she deserves better.

“Yeah, she totally does,” says Cooper. “I think

Shakespeare was a feminist. That’s all in there, we

just don’t pay attention to it as much.

Another central part of the production is the

reading of play itself by orator Natasha Korney.

“In terms of the text,” explains Cooper, “it’s all

been adapted, except a reading of Queen Mab’s

speech, which really encapsulates the violence and

passion as not always beautiful and kind of ugly. But

that’s the only true Shakespearean text, everything

else has been adapted to rap, slam poetry or

spoken word. The end has a big open letter to Juliet

from society, apologizing for letting her down, for

letting all young women down.”

Juliet and Romeo runs Jan. 16-26 as part of the High

Performance Rodeo at the DJD Theatre.

CALGARY'S ESSENTIAL JANUARY HAPPENINGSk

TRUDIE LEE


01.20YYCAGENDA

HIGH PERFORMANCE

RODEO:

One Yellow Rabbit's annual international festival of the arts celebrates

a hyperactive blend of cutting edge theatre, dance and music

throughout the month, starting on Jan. 8. Here are BeatRoute's

picks of the fest. By BRAD SIMM

Queer Blind Date: A different

twist of fun and fate

“Queer relationships, fundamentally, have all

the same ingredients that straight relationships

have,” notes Julie Orton, one of the lead players

in Queer Blind Date. “But one of the things

we made room for is a personal history that a

straight person definitely would not have experienced.

Specifically, that’s coming out.”

Central to the play’s production is interacting

directly with the audience where they exchange

stories with the performers on stage. Essentially

improvising and acting out a blind date together.

Orton says the currency of that exchange is

honesty, truth-telling.

“That’s the bedrock of the agreement you

make with the audience member. What we really

revel in is the expanse and rich history all our

dates have. A personal history that is profound

and funny and painful sometimes. But what

really grounds this play is queer people have the

unique experience of coming out.”

Orton adds, “It’s also really sexy. The queer

community tends to be open sexually with their

wants, desires and preferences. So the boundaries,

in the context of the play, we can push a

bit further.”

Queer Blind Date runs Jan. 21-26 at The Studio in the

Vertigo Theatre Centre.

Vivek Shraya: How to fail as a pop star

Although she’s a professor in creative writing at the U of C, and found success in the literary

world with her best-seller, I’m Afraid Of Men, which Vanity Fair touted as “cultural rocket fuel,”

one of Vivek Shraya’s other first loves - to be a pop star - has not (yet) flourished.

During her teenage years, Vivek’s bedroom walls were plastered with Madonna posters. Following

through with her obsession, she spent a decade singing in different projects determined

to glow in the electro-pop stage lights. That dream, still in the making, is the focus of Vivek’s

debut on the theatrical stage – How To Fail As A Pop Star.

“There’s all these memes on Twitter that say, ‘Don’t worry Tony Morrison published her first

book when she was 40.’ But you never hear, ‘Don’t worry if you haven’t started your pop career,

Britney Spears had her first single at 55.’ It’s very much a youth-centric market. And for me,

who’s approaching 40, I’ve really had to think about the fact that this just is not going to happen.”

Vivek laughs at that prospect, which is largely about what her stand-up play is all about: a

“reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination.” And

to grin and bear the reality that some dreams come true more than others.

How To Fail As A Pop Star runs Jan 22-25 at the Engineered Theatre

Premium Content:

The art of being online

A webcam, a video project, polyamory, a

bunch of kinksters, the internet, and making

art with consent (although the consent part is

tricky). How does that all dovetail together?

“Yeah, where do you start?” laughs Geoffery

Simon Brown, who directed and acts in

Premium Content. First off, Brown explains all

of the characters are written without gender

pronouns, and switch who’s playing Blair, the

central character.

“Blair is living with two of their best friends

and is invited into this polyamorous relationship.

Basically, they get an idea to hide a

camera in the room and create art from it.”

Reluctant to say how all that unfolds,

Brown does reveal that they are really interested

in making important, authentic art. “And

what can be more personal and real than

putting your life online.”

Premium Content runs Jan. 21-25 at The Studio in

The GRAND

36 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


YYCAgenda

Diavolo: Architecture in Motion

Presented by Alberta Ballet, Diavolo

promises to push boundaries, promises to

be different. The dance company from Los

Angeles sets the bar sky high with its ambitious

production exploring “the relationship

between the human body and its architectural

environment.”

Giant structures of various shapes and

sizes are erected on stage - part playground,

part obstacle course, dancers

romp and roll all over these large-scale

moving objects in synchronized patterns,

creating a choreography all of its own.

Set to the vibrating deep grooves of EDM,

Diavolo is the kind of exciting spectacle

that runs parallel to Cirque de Soleil and a

high-energy Vegas show.

Diavola runs Jan. 16-18 at the Jubilee (Calgary)

and Jan. 21-22 at the Jubilee Edmonton)

Eldbjørg Hemsing

Nordic Greats: Capturing Norway’s

landscape and folk spirit

Eldbjørg Hemsing is known throughout Norway as one of the country’s

leading violinists who made her solo debut with the Bergen Philharmonic

at the tender age of 11. Now 29, she released her first recording in 2018

paying homage to the violin concertos of Hjalmar Borgström, a Norwegian

composer from the early 1920s.

“This concerto, written in 1914, is incredibly beautiful, full of Norwegian

nationalist sentiment so typical of its time but also worthy of international

attention,” Hemsing says. “The rugged landscape of Valdres and

Jotunheimen, where the surrounding mountains rise dramatically over the

valleys – the music makes me yearn for my roots.”

Hemsing will also be accompanied on stage by dancers, choreographed

by Alberta Ballet’s principal dancer, Yukichi Hattori.

Part of the High Performance Rodeo, Nordic Greats takes place Saturday, Jan. 25

at the Jack Singer

BEATROUTE.CA

Get even closer

to the music.

Visit the all-new

beatroute.ca

Photo : Darrole Palmer

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 37


01.20YYCMUSIC

A reimagining of Shakespeare’s

passionate and tragic tale

JANUARY 16 – 26

AT THE DJD DANCE CENTRE

AS PART OF THE 34 TH ANNUAL

HIGH PERFORMANCE RODEO

Det roit Bluesman: Ace Todd Albright

Smitten by the country-blues some 25 years ago, Todd

Albright was in his teens when he first started performing.

Today the Detroit vocalist is world renown for his vigorous,

gritty and soulful 12-string guitar picking steeped in the tradition

of pre-war blues and ragtime (1880-1939).

Albright honours the masters singing and playing in the

spirit of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Skip James and Leadbelly.

His latest record, Detroit Twelve String Blues & Rags, was

released on Jack White’s Third Man Records.

Friday, Jan. 17 at Arts Commons

For never was there

a story of more woe

than this of Juliet and

her Romeo

For tickets visit

decidedlyjazz.com

Alberta Spotlight:

Caleb Hart & Roca Roots

Northern Alberta is distant and wintry cold, a long way

from the Caribbean sun. But Caleb Hart—originally from

Trinidad—and Venezuelan-born Roca Roots are now based

in Grande Prairie and they haven’t lost their island warmth.

The duo, backed by dancehall DJ/producer, Infamous Ray,

mix a variety of uplifting styles by sharing their love for gospel,

soul, pop-rock, calypso, soca and, of course, reggae.

Friday, Jan. 24 at the King Eddy

38 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


BIG

Winter

Classic

WINTER FESTIVAL

CELEBRATES FIVE

YEARS OF BUILDING

COMMUNITY

By SEBASTIAN BUZZALINO

I

n Scandinavia, hygge refers to a kind

of cozy In Scandinavia, hygge refers

to a kind of cozy togetherness that

helps bring community under a roof,

in particular during the long, isolating,

dark winter months.

Across the prairies, music and art scenes

band together in a different way, coming together

at venues and ad-hoc spaces to commune in

their own styles. From Winnipeg to Saskatoon,

Regina and, this year, Edmonton’s Winterruption,

festivals break out in the dead of winter to

celebrate music; in Calgary, BIG Winter Classic

does the same, bringing together headliners and

emerging bands, brands and local businesses,

under one cozy party roof.

This month, BIG Winter Classic celebrates

five years of expansive, wintry vibes. The festival

has made a name for itself in Calgary for its

willingness to throw a party just about anywhere

there’s space, from established venues to DIY

pop-ups.

“It’s the unofficial, official fifth year,” laughs

Adrian Urlacher, founder of BIG. “It’s hard to

believe we’re still here. You think back to all the

years we’ve done — we’re pretty self-funded, it’s

an ongoing challenge and it’s amazing.”

BIG once started as a reason to get out of the

house in the winter (and not have to compete

with jammed festival schedules during the

summer). Since then, it’s evolved to drive a true

community-building ethos — Calgary coming

together to do what it does best.

“We’ve compacted the festival to keep trying

to create a real community feel,” says Urlacher.

“Everything is five blocks away from everything

else [in the Beltline] and we’re packing venues

to empower our community.

“We’re all in it for the same thing: building

our brands and engaging our city. Creating that

collectivity is always something we’ve been

proud of.”

From the outside, peering into the fogged

windows of each BIG venue, the music and arts

lineup might seem daunting. Headliners from

across Canada and the States share intimate

stages with local and emerging bands and

everyone gets to revel in that unique sense

that everyone in the room is your friend. We’ve

picked five of the coolest headliners whose

shows (including openers) you should not miss.

Bodega

Thursday, January 23 @ Broken City

Post punk has undergone a renaissance in the past couple of years. Huge names, like Idles and

Shame, have put the angular art form back onto the main stage, while bands like New York City’s Bodega

hustle their disaffected, deadpan anthems for a new audience. Laden with the ennui of modern

life, all couched in jangling guitars and rhythm-heavy bangers, Bodega simultaneously sneer at and

embrace the myriad contradictions that define the 21st century.

Dboy

Friday, January 24 @ Broken City

If Dboy had their way, we would all

be Dboys — a massed collective

of red radicals in search of a

greater good through two-minute

blasts of hardcore-inspired propaganda

punk. The full package

is tongue-in-cheek and it’s so well

done, you could be forgiven for

thinking the height of the Cold

War is still raging. Fall in line, comrades,

for the International Performance

and Recreation Council of

Russia is watching and Dboy are

part of the Inner Party.

Jennifer

Castle

Thursday, January 23

@ Last Best

Mystic and minimalist, Jennifer Castle

is one of Canada’s best hidden

gems. A thoroughly underrated

songwriter and a massive artistic

presence on the national landscape,

Jennifer Castle’s ruminations

on mortality, grief and ghosts echo

throughout her songs. With the

confidence of a country singer, the

delicacy of a folk poet and the arrangements

of a master composer,

Jennifer Castle’s set is nothing if

not transcendental.

Ron Gallo

Saturday, January 25 @ Last Best

The spirit of 70s, NYC Chelsea

Hotel punk poetry is alive and well

with Philly-raised, Nashville-based

Ron Gallo. He would have fit in perfectly

with Tom Verlaine and Patty

Smith, a pissed off oddball that

fits nowhere else but among other

weirdos howling overtop fuzzy,

screeching guitars and late-night

garage grooves. Self-effacing and

disarmingly charming, Ron Gallo

sets the standard for the modern

blank generation.

Girlfriend Material

Friday, January 24 @ The BIG

Empty Space

Two of Canada’s most endearing

early-2010s bands, Tokyo Police

Club and Hollerado, team up to

form Girlfriend Material, a supergroup

of sorts that’s full of promise.

With enough optimism to bust

through even the most morose

news headlines, Girlfriend Material

front-load their singles with catchy

riffs and bouncy choruses. It’s indie

rock for the 30+ crowd who’ve

had their hearts broken more than

once, but return to the dating

scene undeterred; who’ve spent

enough time as “adults” to be nostalgic

for their early 20s. It’s never

too late to join the cool kids’ table.

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 39


12.19EDMONTONEXTRA

EAMON MCGRATH

Smouldering Punk Songwriter

Eamon McGrath Bears DIY Flag

Out Of Necessity By MIKE DUNN

Eamon McGrath can’t talk long. He’s in a bit of a rush on a

Sunday afternoon in Toronto, getting ready to head downtown

to his side hustle, stage managing for a big show at the

Danforth Theatre. Like most independent musicians, the gig

economy has come for him as well.

“Especially this time of year, there’s such a demand for

decent stagehands,” says McGrath, “because as a music

market, Toronto’s become unmanageable. There are so many

bands touring, and so few people who are experienced in

managing a show. New York has this built-in network of behind-the-scenes

people, but Toronto is only just building that

now, which is good for me between tours and recording.”

McGrath’s been forced to take full ownership of his career

because he doesn’t check off the boxes that make the

business of selling music easier. His DIY ethos has been

necessary, he says, because he wants to make the music

he wants to make, rather than fill a role. “The entirety of

humanity is becoming more corporate,” says McGrath. “You

look at every mom-and-pop music operation, bands or record

stores, and even the show itself. People are going to see

production as much as they are music. They’re paying to see

gear that’s been sitting in the back of a truck for eight hours

get switched on.” McGrath admits that his own light show,

a collection of thrift shop house lamps collected along the

highway, is part of his own statement about the digitizing of

the analog art form.

While he never openly states he’s “carrying the banner” for

the punk rock, DIY aesthetic, that people who know his music

ascribe it to him doesn’t bother him in the least. From pissed

off punk as a kid, to more mature, folk-based songwriting on

his latest record, GUTS, McGrath makes music and tours.

“I’ve accidentally come to embody that ethic for some

people,” says McGrath, “and I’m really proud of that: it means

I work hard. It’s not like I went out with a fucking flag to colonize

the bars for a certain aesthetic. It happened because I

had to do it this way.”

Eamon McGrath tours his latest full-length, GUTS, through Western

Canada in January, including dates at The Starlite (Edmonton,

January 23rd), The Palomino (Calgary, January 30th), and The

Owl (Lethbridge, January 31st). Full tour dates available at www.

eamonmcgrath.ca

GZA

Edmonton

Winterruption

This year marks the debut of

Edmonton’s own Winterruption — a

welcome addition to the city’s festival

lineup after Interstellar Rodeo

called it quits a few months ago.

Modelled after the Winterruptions

in other prairie cities,

Edmonton’s arm brings the music

and arts community together to

play during the winter. Eight venues

downtown, including the Starlite

Room, Temple, Freemason Hall,

The Station, Rocky Mountain Ice

House and Abby Glen Park, all

within walking distance of each

other, will be packed to the rafters

for the inaugural festival.

Of particular note, GZA (of

Wu-Tang notoriety) headlines the

party on Friday, January 24 at

the Starlite Room, performing a

special set of Liquid Swords for its

25th anniversary. It’s probably as

intimate a venue as it gets for this

kind of show, but that’s the spirit

of this festival: togetherness and

community.

January 23 - 26 // Multiple Venues //

winterruptionyeg.com

40 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


01.20YYCMUSIC

The Cheat Sheet BR PICKS THE 5 ESSENTIAL LIVE MUSIC SHOWS

INDIE

1

LIQUOR MOUNTAIN &

CHILD ACTRESS

Friday, Jan. 10 at the Palominoy

A stacked night of mostly local talent

that spans the gamut from acid

country, to gothy post-punk and

saccharine singer-songwriting.

2

HALF MOON RUN

Friday, January 17 at MacEwan Hall

Montreal indie rockers return to

Calgary with their rhythmic, percussion-heavy

anthems.

3

THE VELVETEINS

Saturday, January 18 at The Gateway

Edmonton surf garage rockers

bring the chill and the vibes to

Calgary, with support from local

retro-rock act, The Static Shift.

4 BEGONIA

Sunday, Jan. 26 at the Palomino

Winnipeg’s Alexa Dirks transforms

into a full pop diva as Begonia,

singing about self-doubt, anxiety

and the kind of serene panic so

consistent with contemporary life.

5

ONE BAD SON, OPEN AIR,

THE GENTLEMEN’S CLUB

Saturday, Feb. 1 at The Gateway

Guitar solos and rippin’ riffs galore

with three local bands that throw it

back to when the guitar still ruled

the roost.

HEAVY

FOLK

1 SYRYN

Saturday, January 4 at Dickens

Blues rock, power metal and thrash

come together in SYRYN, whose

debut album, Beyond the Depths, is

set for release on January 3.

HELMS ALEE

Saturday, January 11 at Palomino

2

Seattle’s jangly shoegaze/sludge

masters return to Calgary for a

banger party at the Palomino, with

support from Gone Cosmic and

Iron Tusk

3 HYPERIA

Friday, January 17 at Dickens

Shredding, high-fire vocals combine

with a heavy rhythm section

in this melodic thrash trio, who are

celebrating their album release.

4 REDSHIFTED

Saturday, Jan. 18 at New Level Brewing

Head down to Calgary’s only

metal-themed craft brewery to celebrate

the release of RedShifted’s

Masks EP.

5 HAZZERD

Friday, January 24 at Dickens

Local metal titans are gearing up

for their sophomore album release

party, Delirium. With support from

Concrete Funeral, Osyron and

LunAttack.

ROOTS

THE STRUMBELLAS

Tuesday, January 14 at Southern

1

Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Warm up in the dead of winter with

festival-ready hooks and anthemic,

feel-good folk-pop.

2

JON BRYANT

Tuesday, January 21 at The Gateway

The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter

crafts acoustic, melodic

heartbreakers with a maritime

influence from his native Halifax.

3

CALEB HART &

ROCA ROOTS

Friday, January 24 at the King Eddy

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago,

now based in Grande Prairie,

Hart blends gospel, soul, reggae

and soca into a mixture he’s aptly

dubbed “island soul.”

4

EAMON MCGRATH

Thursday, January 30 at the Palomino

From punk to folk, McGrath has

stayed true to his DIY ethos.

(Feature: Page 40)

5

JR. GONE WILD

Friday, January 31 at the Palomino

Country twang meets punk rock

grit when these old school Edmontonians

take the stage.

PUNK

1

ANCIENT SHAPES

Thursday, Jan. 9 at Broken City

Daniel Romano’s perfect power-pop

side-project crosses

Canada during the coldest months

in support of their latest release, A

Flower That Wouldn’t Bloom.

2

SILENCE THE SWAMPS,

EX ØMERTA

Friday, Jan. 10 at Broken City

From 70s-inspired NYC punk

to 90s SoCal pop punk, there’s

something for everyone to mosh

to on this stacked, four-band punk

bill.

3

MIESHA & THE SPANKS,

FLORIDA BC, THE HOURS

Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Ship & Anchor

Free shows at the Ship on

Wednesdays are always a good

time, especially when the lineup is

this good from start to finish with

local talent.

4

POLLY DACTIC

EP RELEASE

Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Palomino

Krauty synths, improvised performance

art, and nods to astrology

come together in Nyssa Brown’s

solo project.

5 ALEXISONFIRE

Thursday, Jan. 23 at Saddledome

Dallas Green and gang reunite for

another victory lap tour across

Canada, joined by the Distillers.

(Feature: Page 7)

EDM

1 DOWNLINKS

Saturday, January 11 at the Palace

Theatre

One of Kelowna’s most notorious

bass music producers, Downlink

brings banger after banger to his

rowdy dance floors. Free before

10:30 pm.

2

BEN NICKY

Saturday, January 18 at the Palace

Theatre

One of the biggest dance music

producers hailing from Bristol, UK,

Nicky’s catchy trance, psy trance

and techno sets are guaranteed

fun times.

3

TONY ROMERA

Saturday, January 18 at the Hifi Club

Get a taste of French House with

the 2019 Fractal Forest Headliner

and half of Bellecour.

4

KRAFTY KUTS

Friday, January 31 at the Hifi Club

The legendary UK turntablist

is bringing a two-set special,

including the Canadian debut of

a golden-era of hip-hop set and a

breakbeat headlining set.

5

JUSTIN JAY

Saturday, February 1 at the Hifi Club

Deep house and tech house come

together in this vibey, Los Angeles-based

DJ’s sets.

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 41


SAVAGE LOVE

Open Ended

I’m a mid-20s cis straight man.

After my girlfriend and I finished

college, she moved overseas to

start her job. We’ve broken up twice

and gotten back together twice.

We are interested in opening up our

relationship, but I have reservations.

She wants the freedom to

throw herself into her new world

without the constraint of having to

shut down non-platonic sparks. My

girlfriend has brought up marriage

several times. While she admits

she doesn’t have a good track

record with monogamy, she insists

marriage will change that. Another

concern: The last time she was in

an open relationship, she cheated

on her then-boyfriend with me. “No

exes” was one of their rules, and

I was her ex at the time. (I didn’t

know she was with someone else.)

Another wrinkle: When I confided

in her recently that I had developed

romantic feelings for another

person, she asked me to choose between

her and them, and so I aborted

this burgeoning connection.

That felt unfair, seeing as she wants

her freedom. She is also bisexual

and wants to have experiences

with women. I would be fine with

her hooking up with women, but it

makes me sick to my stomach to

think about her with other men. She

would be willing to put her desire

for experiences with other women

to the side in order to be with me,

she says, once we are married. I

would love to hear your thoughts on

these things: (1) Whether we should

open our relationship. (2) My male/

female hookup distinction. (3) How

to move forward if your partner is

unsure whether they are built for

monogamy but nonetheless wants

to settle down in a married, monogamous

relationship

Onto Processing

Entirely New Situation

1. Don’t open it. End it. It’s time to

put this dumb, messy, past-its-expiration-date

shitshow of a relationship

behind you. Would knowing

your girlfriend is already fucking

other people help you do that?

Because your girlfriend is almost

certainly fucking other people.

Already. Because when someone

with a shitty track record where

monogamy and nonmonogamy are

concerned asks their partner for

an open relationship while at the

same time demanding their partner

“abort” any potential “non-platonic”

friendships they might have… yeah,

that motherfucker is already fucking

other people. They just don’t

want to give their partner the same

freedom they’ve already seized for

themselves.

2. It seems like a silly distinction to

me, OPENS, one that comes from

a place of insecurity. (And a “no

other dick” rule would make most

gay open relationships impossible.)

But sometimes, working with your

partner’s insecurities—accepting

them, not fighting them—is the

key to a successful open relationship.

And since many bisexuals

in monogamous opposite-sex

relationships often ask to open the

relationship because they want to

act on their same-sex attractions

(or, indeed, have their first same-sex

encounter), keeping outside sex

same-sex—at least at first—isn’t an

entirely unreasonable request. But

this is irrelevant in your case, since

your girlfriend is already fucking

anyone she wants.

3. Your soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend is

hilarious. People who are bad at monogamy

don’t get better at it once

they’re married. If anything, people

who were good at monogamy tend

to get worse at it the longer they’re

married. If your soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend

isn’t bullshitting, if she isn’t

bringing up marriage and monogamy

to complicate and extend

your conversations about opening

up this doomed relationship, then

she’s deluded. And if your girlfriend

cheats because she gets off on

risk, danger, or deception, getting

married—which would obviously

make cheating riskier and more

dangerous—could make cheating

more appealing to her, not less.

I’m a twentysomething bi man in a

loving relationship of three years

with a straight woman. Last year,

we opened up our relationship.

At the beginning, we set some

ground rules. One of her rules was

that I could get together only with

women, no men. It bothered me at

the time, but it was the only way

she would be okay opening up, so

I didn’t press her on it. Fast-forward

to a couple days ago, when I

brought it up again. She eventually

admitted she’s afraid I will leave

her for a man, and that’s why the

idea of me being with other men

makes her uncomfortable. She

knows these are stereotypes, but

she says she can’t get over it. I

ended that night angry and hurt.

Now I don’t know what to do. To be

honest, if we weren’t in an open relationship,

I wouldn’t be bothered

by the fact that I can’t be sexual

with men. But now that I know

she is not okay with me doing so

because of these bi stereotypes,

it drives me nuts. I’m not going to

end our relationship over this, but

how can I get her to understand

my bisexuality is not a threat?

Bye-Bye Bisexuality?

“BBB obviously isn’t going to leave

his girlfriend for the first man he

sleeps with,” said Zachary Zane,

a “bisexual influencer” and a sex

writer for Men’s Health. “All bisexual

men are not secretly gay. But this

is a lie—a vicious stereotype—that

BBB’s girlfriend has heard countless

times. So even though she

knows this logically, she still can’t

shake that concern. Fear often isn’t

rational and it can override logic.

She’s simply insecure.”

And while accommodating a

partner’s irrational insecurity is

sometimes the price we have to

pay to make an open relationship

work, accommodating your partner’s

insecurity—one so clearly rooted in

biphobia—isn’t going to be sustainable

over time. You’re already angry

and hurt, BBB, and you’re going to get

more upset with every dick you have

to pass up. So what do you do?

BY DAN SAVAGE

“The key to helping BBB’s girlfriend

understand that his bisexuality isn’t a

threat is for him to reassure her often

that he’s not going to leave her for a

man,” said Zane, “and to tell her and

show her how much he loves her. He

might also ask if there’s a way she’d feel

more comfortable allowing him to be

sexual with a man. Maybe they have a

threesome. Maybe she prefers that it be

someone she knows, or someone she

doesn’t know. There’s a lot to discuss.”

But eventually, for your own sanity,

you’re going to have to insist that your

girlfriend get over her biphobia. She

can’t just throw up her hands and say,

“I can’t help it!”

“Perhaps I’m giving BBB’s girlfriend

too much credit, but it sounds to me

like she’ll come around in time,” said

Zane. “And while BBB is angry—and

validly so—the anger shouldn’t be

placed on his girlfriend. It should be

placed on a society that has ingrained

in her the belief that bisexuality isn’t

valid and that bi men will always leave

their wives/girlfriends for another man

if given the opportunity.”

And if she never comes around,

BBB, then you can show her how silly

and irrational her fears were by leaving

her for another woman.

Follow Zachary Zane on Twitter @

ZacharyZane_.

On the Lovecast, do you trust gay

men more to sell you clothes?

Science has the answer:

savagelovecast.com.

mail@savagelove.net

Follow Dan on Twitter

@fakedansavage

humpfilmfest.com

42 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


UNIQUE

50LES

FOR

UNIQUE

50ULS

JOHNFLUEVOGCALGARYTHAVESW··

JOHNFLUEVOGEDMONTONAVENW··

FLUEVOGCOM


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