BeatRoute Magazine BC 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

PLUS!

TORY LANEZ

ALEXISONFIRE

HOLY FUCK

AND MORE

+ 10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

PuSh

Festival

Preview

PAGE 35


UNIQUE

50LES

FOR

UNIQUE

50ULS

JOHNFLUEVOGSHOESGRANVILLEST··WATERST··FLUEVOGCOM


PLUS!

TORY LANEZ

AMBER LIU

ALEXISONFIRE

HOLY FUCK

AND MORE

Contents

BEATROUTE

BEATROUTE

BEAT

ROUTE

BR

BRLIVE

BRYYZ

Music

4

6

23

25

29

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,

and 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

King Diamond hails satan

and shines amongst an

army of loyal Mercyful Fate

fans.

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

Travel

From 5-star food trucks to a

flaming hot local music scene,

Portland, Oregon is a city that

shows up.

+ 10

CANADIAN

ARTISTS

TO WATCH

IN 2020

32 Style

Rising star Lennon Stella

shares some tour fashion

tips and highlights

her skin care essentials.

33 That's Dope

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.

High On Fire, Dec. 2, 2019 at The

Rickshaw Theatre. Read our review of

this and more online at beatroute.ca

YVR

35

36

38

Frontera

Experimental rockers Fly Pan Am

navigate their way through liminal

spaces at the PuSh Festival.

YVR Agenda

Our top picks for PuSh, Elevate

Music Project takes things to the

next level in the finals and the

VSO’s New Music Festival tunes

into a diverse medley of classical

composers.

Cheat Sheet

BeatRoute’s Essential List — the

must-see shows this month in

Vancouver.

MARIA GOVEA

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

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


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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


8 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


VANESSA HEINS

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.” ,

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)

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

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


MUSiC ARTIST INTERVIEW

A

M

B

R E

L I

U


After leaving f(x) and emerging as a solo artist from the S.M.

Entertainment K-Pop factory, Amber Liu is reborn By CONNOR GAREL

A

mber Liu

doesn’t want

to be perfect

anymore. It’s

not that she

believes she

already is, but

rather that her deepest instincts, forged amid

an aborted childhood, betray a profound

desire to be unerring. It’s an ascetic, monastic

kind of itch, the sort of crippling force majeure

that would make any surgeon or ballerina,

in spite of other compromising

qualities, excel at their jobs. Liu

AMBER LIU

wants to be impressive. She wants Thursday, Jan. 23

to be precise.

Vogue Theatre (Vancouver)

Such desires inevitably fail to Tix: $24.99, eventbrite.ca

cloak themselves. “My choreographer

yells at me a lot,” she tells me over

the phone, laughing, one long early morning

in November. “I’m always calculating myself

in the mirror. I’ll just stop the routine if I don’t

extend my arm at, like, an exact 45-degree

angle. It’s stupid.” In other words: anything

that isn’t perfect must be done again,

repeated until emptied of all that

might be construed as unpolished. The

enemy, forever lingering behind each

target, is mediocrity.

“It probably has to do with me starting

out so young,” she says. “I never

really got a chance to grow up, or to

explore who I was.”

Call it armchair psychology, or call it

a self-diagnosis, but in either case, the

assessment tracks. Liu was barely 15 when

she was enrolled into the years-long training

system that would spit her out, fully formed,

on the other side of f(x), the five-member

South Korean girl group that would become

one of the most internationally recognized

K-pop acts of all time. At 15, she was a nerdy,

inchoate teenager from California, nursing a

quiet interest in biology and chemistry. Then

she blinked, and she was someone very, very

different.

“Those teenage years are when you’re

really figuring yourself out, and I was already

thrown into a world where I’d be in front of

millions of people,” Liu explains. “And those

people were going to be judging me.”

This intense judgment is, ostensibly, what

the K-pop factory system anticipates. The

hope is that, through long days and rigorous

training, all flaws will be systematically eliminated,

and the artist will adopt a congenital

allergy to mistakes.

In September of this year, Liu officially

announced that she had not renewed her

contract with S.M. Entertainment and became

the first member of f(x) to begin a solo career.

She’d already released a couple of stray singles

after signing with Steel Wool Entertainment

in 2018, but transitioning into a full-time

solo artist marked a definite, promising

rebirth. It’s almost as though she’s returning to

the exact moment when she lost the chance

to explore who she was, just to correct it.

“I’m ready to have fun now,” she says. Liu

still remembers f(x) fondly, but she now realizes

that none of the money or fame it granted

satisfied her, never made her any happier. “I’m

going to escape rooms now. I’m geeking out

with my friends on anime. I’m playing video

games. Work can become just work, and I’m

trying to learn how to have fun with it.”

This isn’t hard to believe. It’s right there in

the music, which seems buoyed by the spirit

of someone who has not yet decided where

or how to set up camp. If you listen to Liu’s

latest three songs, for example — “Ready For

The Ride,” a smoldering slow jam; “Numb,” a

sparse piano ballad; and “Curiosity,”

a mellow, radio-friendly dance

tune — you’ll hear the ambient

noise of someone fiddling intently

with a pile of puzzle pieces,

as though trying every possible

combination to figure out which works best.

“I think that, after being in a certain type

of system for so long, human nature is to do

something different — hopefully,” Liu says.

“I know now that I don’t have to kill myself

over being perfect anymore. I don’t think I fit

the criteria of a K-pop idol as of now, but it’s

always going to be a part of me.”

That doesn’t mean she’s shedding all of

her K-pop inclinations. In her music videos,

Liu is still drawn to elaborate, precise

choreography. Her upcoming EP, X, will have

accompanying music videos for all six songs.

Liu is also preparing to embark on a major

2020 U.S. tour, one that will take her to 24

cities and become the longest North American

tour any K-pop artist has ever done.

I ask, already anticipating the answer,

whether this moment feels more like home

to her. “Yes,” she replies, eagerly, then

describes what seems like a return to the

locus of what governs her devotion to music:

how it connects people in varying degrees of

intimacy; how it illuminates inner truths, like

a hyperactive firefly in a dark cavern; how it

forces a position of honesty and vulnerability,

all off of “a bunch of sounds.”

“Everyone that I’m working now with has

really allowed me to be more vulnerable and

open up, and has taught me that it’s okay

to express my emotions,” Liu says. I mean

to ask what the alternative is, but then she

compares her manager to her dad, and before

I can chalk it up to a Freudian slip — like

when you accidentally call your third grade

homeroom teacher “Mom” — she starts to

say he isn’t unlike “a big brother, or maybe an

uncle,” then describes her team as an extension

of herself: a sort of intimate, surrogate

familial unit.

It’s this sense of closeness and grounding,

perhaps, that is helping Liu to come into her

own — to relinquish her desire for control

and to trust that her instincts will catch her.

It will be a long process, as all births are. “I

don’t want to be afraid anymore,” she says.

“Even with making mistakes.” Later, I make

note of how many times she has used the

word “mistake” over the last 40 minutes of

our conversation. I write it down: eight times.

“Perfect” comes up six. Nature, it would

seem, is the most difficult trap to elude. ,

GOVERNMENT

PARTNERS

theatre

dance multimedia music

JAN 21 — FEB 9, 2020

PUSHFESTIVAL.CA

MEDIA

PARTNERS

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.

RALPH

MORE INFO AT: BEATROUTE.CA/BEATROUTE-EVENTS

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 electronic outfit Holy Fuck dance between techology,

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


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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.

K!MMORTAL

X Marks the Swirl

COAX 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

“Stars,” the opening track to X

Marks the Swirl, sets the tone

for K!MMORTAL’s ascension to

a celestial sphere in their music

career. A departure from the

organic, acoustic quality of their

debut album, Sincerity, X spins

hard-hitting verses in brisk succession,

soothed by soulful hooks

and enlivened with impeccable

electronic production. Everything

we loved about K!MMORTAL in

Sincerity—a voice of raw honey,

whip-smart lyrics serving inconvenient

truths, community awareness—abound

in X, only amped

up. Magnetic from the upbeat

“Questions” and swaying “I’m

Blue” through to hip-hop heavy

“88 and Beyond,” K!MMORTAL

hits every note with confident

transcendence.

Best Track: Sad Femme Club

Dayna Mahannah

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


SAT JAN 11 IMPERIAL

WITH SPECIAL GUEST JUDGE DAN MANGAN

NOBLE SON

STRANGE BREED

MICHAELA SLINGER

THE LUNCHTIME BAND

CAM BLAKE

THE BROKEN ISLANDS

FRI JAN 24 VOGUE THEATRE

FINALISTS ANNOUNCED JAN 13

TICKETS AVAILABLE AT ELEVATEMUSICPROJECT.COM

28 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


Live

MUSiC

Vancouver

KING DIAMOND

Nov. 28, 2019

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Low ticket sales couldn’t stop Heavy

Metal royalty, King Diamond, from

shining brighter than the wedding

band aisle at People’s Jewellers.

With the upper balcony of the

Queen Elizabeth Theatre closed, the

camaraderie was at an all-time high

as an army of loyal Mercyful Fate fans

gathered on the Orchestra floor to

hail the band’s one-time lead singer

and Heavy Metal mastermind.

Rolled out on a makeshift gurney,

King Diamond wasted no time resurrecting

himself, standing to his feet

and squealing through the band’s first

banger, “The Wizard.” The macabre

style performance was set against an

impressive two-story backdrop with a

cellar door in the centre of the stage,

allowing Diamond to easily dispose of

Villains and Demons who would dare

attempt a mutiny against their dark

overlord.

And of course, what would a

King Diamond show be without a

baby sacrifice, as the singer drove a

dagger into a black-haired newborn,

freeing its soul before ripping into his

classic track, “Abigail.”

Despite a lack of Mercyful Fate

songs in the setlist, King Diamond’s

cult following remains robust, and the

devil horns were raised highly in his

honour.

Jeevin Johal

LUKAS HOLT

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 29


TRAVEL

PORTLAND,

OREGON

THE PACIFIC

NORTHWEST

MUSIC TOWN

THAT SHOWS UP

By YASMINE SHEMESH

SHUTTERSTOCK SLEATER KINNEY/KAY NYBERG

“I

t’s important to show up for the

people you love,” Carrie Brownstein

proclaims to the audience at the

Crystal Ballroom on the final night of

Sleater-Kinney’s two-part homecoming

gig in Portland, Oregon.

Specifically, the guitarist was referring to fighting

against social injustices. Activism has always been

at the heart of the band’s ethos. But one couldn’t

help relating Brownstein’s sentiment to Sleater-Kinney

themselves: the riot grrrls have had a bit of

a tough go lately, with the departure of longtime

drummer Janet Weiss. Here, though—in their hometown,

in a packed house filled with fans that made

the venue’s famous floating dance floor levitate—

everyone showed up.

Portland is nestled in the banks of the Columbia

and Willamette Rivers and framed by thick forest

and the snow-dipped Mount Hood. The lush Pacific

Northwest surroundings come second only to the

creativity that blooms in the Rose City. Filled with

artists, designers, culinary visionaries, and musicians,

it’s a cultural mecca.

While Portland has always been known as an

eclectic music town (the Kingsmen, Esperanza

Spalding, and the Dandy Warhols all call it home)

plenty of locals will tell you that, right now, the

scene is more diverse, inclusive, and vibrant than it’s

ever been.

Queer, Indigenous artists like Black Belt Eagle

Scout are getting more visibility and making glorious

noise. Hip-hop, which has a complicated history in

Portland, is thriving thanks to monthly showcases,

rising stars (Karma Rivera, Maarquii), and stalwarts

such as Cool Nutz who continue to promote the

culture in the city. There’s Sávila, a Mexican American

band that plays with cumbia and salsa rhythms.

Their guitarist, Fabi Reyna, is the founder of She

Shreds, a female-focused guitar magazine.

It’s no secret Portland has seen an influx of

growth in recent years. But the population boom

has contributed to an exciting time for the music

scene. It’s helped it evolve. Lifelong residents and

newcomers alike are engaged. They’re inspired.

And, together, they create a powerful force that reverberates

beautifully into other corners of the city.

DESTINATIONS

KEX Portland

100 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd

Housed in the century-old Vivian

Apartments on Northeast MLK, this

boutique hotel has a design-forward

aesthetic, with a variety of

accommodations from shared

rooms to private suites.

The concept for KEX was born in

Iceland, where their flagship is already

a hip landing place. And, like

in Reykjavík, local art and culture is

at the forefront of the experience

in Portland.

The lobby bar, where you can

enjoy Nordic-meets-Pacific Northwest

cuisine, is a modular space,

doubling as an intimate venue for

live music nearly every night. Some

Rose City history glows in the

outdoor courtyard: the Music Box

Sleater-Kinney

marquee from the now-demolished

landmark Fox Theatre.

Downstairs has a multi-use gallery,

too, outfitted like an old boxing gym

with a vintage punching bag. In fact,

the entire hotel is filled with antiques

sourced from Europe and Oregon’s

surrounding areas—the wood floor

in the lobby was salvaged from an

abandoned train depot across the

Columbia River. It adds to KEX’s

warm, lived-in vibe that makes travelers

feel right at home.

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Ave

Founded in 1892, the PAM is the

oldest art museum on the West

Coast. It boasts an expansive and

impressive permanent collection, as

well as exciting travelling exhibitions.

On until January 20 is Hank Willis

Thomas’ All Things Being Equal….

30 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


KEX Portland

Portland Art Museum

The first career retrospective of

the Brooklyn-based artist features

over 90 works, including conceptual

photography, videos, and

sculpture, that survey and critique

American ideals from sports to civil

rights from the Black gaze. One of

the most affecting pieces is “14,719

(2018),” a large-scale installation

the PAM commissioned from

Thomas. It resembles an American

flag, with the number in the title relating

to how many white stars are

stitched into the navy fabric—and

each star representing someone

who died from gun violence in the

U.S. in 2018.

EAT/DRINK

Jojo

3582 SE Powell Blvd

If you ask around for the best

friend chicken, locals will point you

towards this food truck. Whether

Doug Fir Lounge

Deadstock Coffee

you order a classic southern fried

chicken sandwich, a boneless

thigh with spicy Thai fried Brussels

sprouts on the side, or one of

their many rotating specials, you

can’t go wrong. The offerings are

juicy, flavourful, and messy. Bring

napkins and an appetite.

The Solo Club

2110 NW Raleigh St

This eatery and cocktail lounge

serve up Mediterranean-inspired

plates and excellent brunch on

the weekend (the shakshuka

is top notch). Their drink menu

prominently features Amari, bitters,

and vermouth in both classic

and creative concoctions. Plus,

with kitschy details including original

barstools and light fixtures

from its historic sister-restaurant,

Besaw’s, you’ll want to linger longer

just to marvel at the décor.

Jojo

The Solo Club

Deadstock Coffee

408 NW Couch St

Sneaker-themed and judgement-free,

this coffee shop is at

once a creative hub and the place

to get a damn good brew. They

roast their own beans and have

all sorts of fun stuff on the menu,

including the LeBronald Palmer

(sweet tea, coffee, and lemonade)

that’s named for a rare edition

of the LeBron 9 Nike shoe. Plus,

you haven’t seen latte art until

you’ve seen a kick in your caffè

crema.

SHOP

Wildfang

404 SW 10th Ave

A go-to for Tegan and Sara and

Janelle Monáe, this boutique

specializes in gender neutral styles.

Think everyday essentials that look

beyond typical ideas of women’s

fashion. Their Wild Feminist Collection,

which includes everything

from fleece and t-shirts to tux

blazers, is one of their signatures.

Mississippi Records

5202 N Albina Ave

This little place has been a collector

go-to for more than 15 years

for its selection of rare blues, soul,

and jazz vinyl that also comes at

an extremely reasonable price. A

quick peek around the shop and

you’ll spot hard-to-find titles from

John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and

Blind Willie Mitchell. Mississippi

also operates as a label, specializing

mostly in re-issues. It all firmly

abides by its “Love Over Gold” motto,

which emphasizes founder Eric

Isaacson’s vision that decisions

here are made in the name of love,

not money.

Music Millennium

3158 E Burnside St

Opened in 1969, this Portland

institution just celebrated its 50th

anniversary. And, as the city’s oldest

record shop, it’s as much of a

destination as it is the place to find

quite literally any vinyl, cassette, or

CD imaginable. From Angel Olsen

and Orville Peck to the Buzzcocks

and David Bowie, bins of $2 wax,

as well as a thorough selection

of rare 45s, Music Millennium has

it all—even their own merch. Set

aside an hour or two just to explore

this awesome space.

Powell’s Books

1005 W Burnside St

No trip to Portland is complete

without a pilgrimage to Powell’s.

Known as the largest new and

used independent bookstore in the

world, it first opened in a former

car dealership on Northwest Burnside

in 1971, a flagship location that,

following a big expansion in 1999,

sprawls an entire city

block. Now, Powell’s

boasts five different

locations across PDX,

with an inventory

upwards of two million

volumes.

She Shreds

Founded by Fabi

Reyna to provide a

visible and inclusive

platform for female,

non-binary, LGBTQ+

and BIPOC guitarists and bassists,

She Shreds is redefining how

players from underrepresented

communities are presented in the

greater guitar industry. Features

from what it’s like being pregnant

on tour to women instrumentalists

in tropical music are just a glimpse

into the topics this magazine dives

into. “Reimagining, reinventing,

and redefining language, imagery,

design, and music journalism all

play a part in how She Shreds aims

to push culture forward,” Reyna

tells BeatRoute. Pick up an issue at

Powell’s.

NIGHTLIFE

Doug Fir Lounge

830 E Burnside St

Dressed up like a log cabin in homage

to its location’s roots (Burnside

was once a logging road) this

iconic venue plays host to some

of the best indie and up-and-comers

in the city. The performance

space is intimate, with a sunken

floor and open concept, so there’s

not a bad seat in the house. The

upstairs restaurant is open all day

from 7am until late and features an

exceptional science-based cocktail

menu. Don’t leave without trying a

Nitro Old Fashioned from the north

end of the bar.

The Lovecraft Bar

421 SE Grand Ave

With a huge pentagon overlooking

the dance floor, a room with a coffin

in it, and an eight-foot-tall statue

of Cthulhu, the octopus-man-dragon

creature dreamed up by writer

H.P. Lovecraft, this horror-themed

bar lives up to its namesake. It’s

also well-known for its industrial,

goth, punk, and dark electro dance

nights.

Jack London Revue

529 SW 4th Ave

Tucked away in the basement of

the Rialto Poolroom, the Jack London

Revue has a speakeasy feel to

it with, as they put it, “the modern

bells and whistles of a cutting-edge

21st century club.” The place to

see live jazz and an important

facilitator in making

space for it in the city,

the venue also hosts

a number of fantastic

weekly nights including

Neo Soul Sundays with

Rich Hunter, a figure

of Portland’s hip-hop

community.

Aztec Willie’s

1501 NE Broadway St

Taqueria by day, salsa

club by night. Voted as

the best spot for Latin dancing in

Portland, Aztec Willie’s includes a

variety of styles from bachata to

timba. You don’t have to be a pro to

join the fun. In fact, there’s usually

a dance lesson before the floor

opens up into a giant party. ,

KEX/MIKAEL LUNDBLAD

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 31


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

32 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


That’s Dope THIS

hether you prefer Black

Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”

W 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 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 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

MONTH IN CANNABIS NEWS AND VIEWS

420 DECIBELS

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

from sounds extracted from a cannabis plant By JOSEPHINE CRUZ

Anders FrancisGotHeat Rich The Kid

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.” ,

RIO

THEATRE

1660 EAST BROADWAY

JANUARY

JANUARY

3

JANUARY

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JANUARY

5

JANUARY

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JANUARY

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JANUARY

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JANUARY

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JANUARY

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JANUARY

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JANUARY

31

Hayao Miyazaki’s

MY NEIGBOR TOTORO

*Additional dates www.riotheatre.ca

Christian Bale & Heath Ledger

THE DARK KNIGHT

John Carpenter’s

THE THING

Friday Late Night Movie

Final Screening!

PROMARE

FANTASTIC FUNGI

*Additional dates www.riotheatre.ca

THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN

THE WORLD BROKE OPEN

#CDNFilm

THE SHINING

THE ROOM

Ricky Gervais hosts

THE GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

Live & FREE!

RSVP at www.riotheatre.ca

MIDSOMMAR

Director’s Cut!

Warren Miller’s

TIMELESS

Lil Peep

EVERYBODY'S

EVERYTHING

ZIGGY STARDUST

AND THE

SPIDERS FROM MARS

The Gentlemen Hecklers Present

LABYRINTH

Paul Anthony’s Talent Time

FUTURISTIC

NEW YEAR’S EVE SPECIAL!

One Trilogy To Rule Them All!

THE LORD

OF THE RINGS

All Day. Back to Back. Extended Editions.

April O’Peel’s

CARTOON CABARET

Nicolas Cage in

COLOR OUT OF SPACE

The Geekenders Present

BEATLES LIVE BAND

NERDLESQUE

COMPLETE LISTINGS AT WWW.RIOTHEATRE.CA

S

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 33



YVR

FLY PAN AM NAVIGATE

THROUGH LIMINAL

SPACES IN FRONTERA

By YASMINE SHEMESH

L

ast

September, Fly Pan Am released C’est ça, their first

album in 15 years. Now, commissioned to create the

soundscape for FRONTERA, a collective multimedia

performance that leads the charge at this year’s PuSh

International Performing Arts Festival, the Montréal

post-rockers are back with a very big bang.

FRONTERA fuses the band with Animals of Distinction, the

contemporary dance company of renowned choreographer Dana

Gingras, and United Visual Artists, a UK-based art practice. With

its title meaning “border” in Spanish, the show uses live music,

wild movement, and striking lights to explore concepts of boundaries

and surveillance.

Though mixed-media endeavours are familiar terrain for

guitarists Roger Tellier-Craig and Jonathan Parant (outside the

band, Tellier-Craig and Gingras are frequent collaborators, and

Parant has worked extensively in congruence with dance and

theatre), FRONTERA was a unique undertaking.

Parant describes the creative process as a series

of co-existing ecosystems. The first was Gingras

and a few dancers, who then worked alongside

UVA to design the lights. Fly Pan Am entered

into the third ecosystem and composed by

watching, listening, and doing. As they developed

the score, the choreography and lights

shapeshifted with them, and vice versa. “There

was this constant push and pull that ended up

crystallizing,” Tellier-Craig explains. And as the

collective have begun to publicly perform the piece in its

entirety, he says, the work has continued to transform.

Borders are liminal spaces, too—something we can’t

tangibly see, but we feel—and the notion expands both

metaphorically into the performance experience, with

interactivity between the artists, and physically. “I feel

like we’ve never seen [the show],” Tellier-Craig laughs.

“We have a few layers of different types of opacity, curtains

going up and down.” These, he adds, are a type

of frontier that can feel limiting, but also very freeing.

“I’m totally obsessed with liminal spaces,” Parant

says. “Sometimes a border is very open. It’s what you

don’t perceive. The space where matter is intertwined.

Is it the beginning of existence or the end of

it?”

January 30 // Queen Elizabeth Theatre //

Tix: $36-75, pushfestival.ca

PuSh

Festival

Preview

01.20

VANCOUVER’S ESSENTIAL JANUARY HAPPENINGSk

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 35

ADRIÁN MORILLO


01.20YVRAGENDA

BEATROUTE’S TOP 5

PUSH PICKS By YASMINE SHEMESH

For more than 15 years, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

has been a champion of innovative and provocative ideas, with

nuanced programming that seeks to challenge, enlighten, and inspire.

Our top picks for 2020 take on complex notions of identity, social politics,

perception, and lived experience, all with music as an anchor.

PuSh

Festival

Preview

Strange Breed

SAM GEHRKE

1

Ikigai Machine

January 25 / Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre

In Japanese, the word “Ikigai” refers to the reason for one’s being: the

thing in life that brings you joy and value. For Myles de Bastion, a deaf

advocate and artist, that thing is music. de Bastion creates installations

where sounds, light, and vibration react to one another. For this

particular project, a combination of mesmerizing soundscapes and

captivating imagery come together to create an immersive, inclusive

narrative.

JAKKUB FULIN

MATT REZNEK

2

She, Mami Wata &

The Pussy Witchhunt

January 29-February 1 / Performance

Works

DJ Softishan provides a live

soundtrack to d’bi. young anitafrika’s

highly physical, emotional,

and intentional performance about

four friends and their lives in

present-day Jamaica. Embodying

a number of characters, from a

church pastor to a pole dancer,

anitafrika weaves a powerful,

intersecting narrative that explores

gender, sexuality, religion, and the

black diaspora.

3

Footnote Number 12

February 6-8 / Performance

Works

David Foster Wallace’s 2006 New

York Times essay about tennis

player Roger Federer becomes

both performance art and cultural

criticism in this challenging and

thought-provoking production. The

text is broken up and unpacked

into a series of monologues that,

by their delivery—digitally altered

by sound artist Nancy Tam—examine

the politics of language,

privilege, and social context.

SONNET J BLANTON

4

Anywhere But Here

February 4-15 / Vancouver

Playhouse

Juno Award-winning hip-hop artist

Shad makes his theatrical debut

with contributions to the score of

this dark political comedy, written

by Chilean-born, Vancouver-based

playwright Carmen Aguirre. The

music, which borrows from a broad

spectrum of genres from disco

to samba, helps inform themes of

home and displacement as a family

journeys to contest their refugee

status on the border between

Mexico and the United States.

5

The DJ Who Gave

Me Too Much

Information

February 7 / Western Front

Exploring the way music infiltrates

our lives and shapes our

perception and understanding

of our experiences, PME-ART’s

“party performance” takes

dozens of records, plays them

one at a time, and tells accompanying

stories attached to the

tune. Audience members are

invited to listen and reminisce,

too.

ELEVATE Music Project:

Semi-Finalists Break

Through The Sounds of

Vancouver’s Music Scene

If you’ve been feeling something

simmering just below the surface

of Vancouver’s local music scene,

now may be the time it bubbles into

plain sight. Incredible musicians are

florid on the west coast, yet without a

justified platform they sometimes risk

flying under the radar.

The ELEVATE Music Project is the

brainchild of The MRG Group. Sensing

opportunity amidst the slow touring

season, Adam Vickers and Angela

Howells of the ELEVATE team explain

that the intent behind the venture is to

give Vancouver musicians elbow room

in the performance sphere—and a

shot at career-changing prizes and

opportunities.

After 24 bands and artists showcased

their musical dexterity over

four nights of preliminary rounds in

November and December, the selected

semi-finalists are now up to plate.

On January 11, a genre-diverse cast

of six local acts hit the stage at the

Imperial for ELEVATE’s semi-finals.

Revel in Noble Son’s quirky charm,

The Broken Islands’ post-rock chutzpah,

Strange Breed’s riot grrl attitude,

the groovy beats of The Lunchtime

Band, Michaela Slinger’s angelic

vocals, and the youthful energy of

Cam Blake.;

Special guest judge Dan Mangan

will preside amongst a panel

of industry professionals who will

choose three finalists to move on to

ELEVATE’s last hurrah for the grand

prize on January 24. Be a part of the

experience that celebrates Vancouver’s

burgeoning talent and put the

fun back in no-fun city.

January 11 (Imperial Vancouver),

January 24 (The Vogue Theatre) //

Tix: elevatemusicproject.com

Dayna Mahannah

36 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


Agenda

YVR

RAPTURE, RHYTHM, AND THE TREE OF LIFE

Emily Carr’s forests and portrayals of Indigenous life are some of her most important work; the latter,

particularly, from a critical standpoint as a glimpse into the colonialism of the late 19th and early

20th centuries. In Rapture, Rhythm and the Tree Of Life: Emily Carr and Her Female Contemporaries,

Carr’s paintings are displayed beside Indigenous creators from the same period — Amy

Cooper (Th’ewá:li), Mary Little (Nuu-chah-nulth), and Placida Wallace (Lílwat Nation) — whose

pieces prominently feature materials from the cedar tree: the “tree of life.” With contributions

from other Vancouver-based artists like Unity Bainbridge and Beatrice Lennie, this exhibition

highlights the prolific contributions women on the West Coast made to modernism in this era.

Until June 28 // Vancouver Art Gallery

WE WILL ROCK YOU

Footloose meets Freddie Mercury in a dystopian future where

music and freedom of thought is forbidden, We Will Rock You

follows a group of rebels — the Bohemians — as they face

off against the all-powerful Killer Queen in a fight to save rock

and roll. The jukebox musical, which includes many of Queen’s

biggest hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, of course,

“We Will Rock You,” was first staged in 2002 in London’s West

End and is one of its most popular productions.

January 10-11 // Queen Elizabeth Theatre // Tix: ticketmaster.ca

NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL

Viviane Hagner

(re)creations is the theme for the Vancouver Symphony

Orchestra’s seventh annual New Music Festival, with

programming that offers fresh takes on a diverse medley of

music and features celebrated composers, both local and

internationally renowned. Among the highlights include Nicole

Lizée’s reimagining of The Sound of Music, set to cuts from

the Montreal-based artist’s own catalog; VSO Music Director

Emeritus Bramwell Tovey’s rendition of Vivaldi’s The Four

Seasons, with violin, strings, and electronics; and the Violin

Concerto of Korean composer Unsuk Chin, interpreted by

German-Korean violinist, Viviane Hagner and Finnish clarinetist,

Kari Kriikku.

January 11-16 // Various Locations // Tix: vancouversymphony.ca

Hall

ALL AGES/BEV Service for 19+

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 37


01.20YVRMUSIC

The Cheat Sheet BR PICKS THE 5 ESSENTIAL LIVE MUSIC SHOWS

HIPHOPR&B

1 ZION I

Fri, Jan. 17 at Biltmore Cabaret

Spiritualistic alternative hip-hop at

its finest. This genre-bending old

school project will take your mind

to a meditative level.

2

YBN CORDAE

Fri, Jan. 17 at Fortune Sound Club

From funky bass to 808s, Cordae

is a lyrical prodigy in the eyes of

his YBN crew, with recent collaborators

including Anderson .Paak

and Chance the Rapper.

3 SHOCORE

Sat, Jan. 18 at Rickshaw Theatre

Revisit the early 2000s with the

return this industrial rap-metal

group from Vancouver. They will

surely have your “bones cracking.”

4 GZA

Mon, Jan. 20 at Fortune Sound Club

Celebrating the 25th anniversary

of his atmospheric and philosophical

record, Liquid Swords, this

Wu-Tang Clan original will put you

in checkmate with his genius flow.

5

XAVIER OMÄR

Fri, Jan 24 at Fortune Sound Club

This soulful R&B crooner’s atmospheric

ambiance thrusts listeners

into a seductive, neon vibration.

ROCK

METAL

INDIE

1

THE STRUMBELLAS

Fri, Jan. 10 & Sat, Jan. 11 at Commodore

Ballroom

This alt-country collective has been

in high “Spirits” since jumping into

the mainstream, earning them two

nights in a row at the Commodore.

2

FOG LAKE

Wed, Jan. 15 at Biltmore Cabaret

Like a sedative, this lo-fi songwriter

from Newfoundland will guide

you into a dream-like haze with his

acoustically prominent, hallucinatory

songs.

3

KING PRINCESS

Thurs, Jan 16 at Queen Elizabeth

Theatre

One of the hottest artists of 2019,

this pop music royalty has taken

the crown with Cheap Queen, topping

best-of lists all over the world.

4

...AND YOU WILL KNOW

US BY THE TRAIL OF THE

DEAD

Mon, Jan. 20 at Fox Cabaret

Taking influence from varying ends

of musical spectrums, this explosive

art punk group can deliver

multiple experiences in one track. .

5 PARAVEL

Sat, Jan. 25 at the Roxy

This young group from Abbotsford

looks to take listeners on a trip

through the stars with their cosmic

pop-rock sound.

1

CHTHONIC DEITY

Sat, Jan. 11 at Astoria

Dropping their debut record, Reassembled

in Pain, this past Halloween,

Chthonic Deity leaves listeners

baffled with brutally graphic lyrics

and a headbangingly putrid sound.

2

GOD SAID KILL

Fri, Jan. 17 at Pat’s Pub

Contrary to what their name

suggests, this six-piece group is

technical, melodic and demonically

heavy.

3 NIGHTSEEKER

Fri, Jan. 24 at Wise Hall

Inspired by 80s metal, Nightseeker

takes listeners on a space-rock

odyssey with songs of slaying

dragons, making love, and drinking

beer.

4 WINTERFEST

Fri, Jan. 24 at Rickshaw Theatre

The first metal festival of 2020, Winterfest

aims to destroy Vancouver

with performances by Anciients,

Gross Misconduct, Pound and many

more of the city’s heaviest acts.

5 BISON

Sat, Feb 1 at Rickshaw Theatre

Like the animal for which this band

got its name, Bison’s beastly sound

takes listeners on a wild journey of

sonic sludge

PUNK

1

THE RARE FORMS

Sat, Jan. 11 at Antisocial Skateboard

Shop

Featuring members of the Shivas,

BHS, and Marion Walker, this group

from Seattle adds a nostalgic rock

twist to their dirty sound.

2

THE KING KHAN

& BBQ SHOW

Fri, Jan. 17 at Rickshaw Theatre

Intricately mixing punk rock with

doo-wop, this infamous Montreal

duo takes seemingly incompatible

genres and puts forth a unique

sound.

3

GREG REKUS

Sun, Jan 18 at Pat’s Pub

Who needs an electric guitar? All

this “punkoustic” rocker needs is

his trusty acoustic six-string to

deliver hard-hitting, catchy, punk

tunes that keep you dancing.

4

ALEXISONFIRE AND

THE DISTILLERS

Tues, Jan. 28 at See-Scape

One of the biggest shows of the

month, Canadian post-hardcore

legends, Alexisonfire return from

an 8-year hiatus with the recently

reassembled, equally influential,

Distillers.

5

THE JUDGES

Sat, Jan. 25 at Wolf Bar

This group of punks looks to slam

the gavel down in Maple Ridge,

sentencing listeners to a night of

smashing into each other before

they smash the patriarchy.

EDM

1 DEORRO

Fri, Jan. 17 at Harbour Events Centr

An electro-house O.G., Deorro will

have you clapping your hands and

shaking your rumps to the bumps

of bass.

2 KHANVICT

Fri, Jan. 17 at Imperial

Hailing from Surrey, BC, this

Punjabi producer takes inspiration

from his Indian heritage to create

a unique, atmospheric electronic

sound.

3 WOOFAX

Fri, Jan. 17 at Gorg-O-Mish

Beginning his career as part of

Krewella, Woofax has spread his

wings to create a wobbly, bassheavy

set of future funk and dank

dubstep.

4

WAX MOTIF

Fri, Jan 24 at M.I.A.

Deep house icon, Wax Motif, will

surely drop a bombastic set of

bouncy tunes fitting for an underground

vibe.

5 JAUZ

Sat, Jan. 25 at Commodore Ballroom

A maestro of the mix deck, Jauz

can take a variety of genres and

drop them into a full night of never-ending

party slappers.

38 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020



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