BeatRoute Magazine ON 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

AMBER LIU

ALEXISONFIRE

HOLY FUCK

AND MORE


COME PLAY WITH US!

DISCOVER THE ULTIMATE GATHERING PLACE TO LET

GO, BE PLAYFUL AND DISCOVER SOMETHING NEW.

Plan your visit at TheRecRoom.com

The Rec Room Toronto Roundhouse

255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto, ON

The Rec Room Mississauga Square One

Unit #1-705, 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, ON


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, Amber Liu,

Alexisonfire, 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

DaBaby’s first show in

Toronto draws a high-profile

surprise guest.

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.

Hockey Dad, Dec. 10, 2019 at The

Gateway, Calgary. Read our review of

this and more online at beatroute.ca

YYZ

35

37

38

DesignTO

The annual celebration of design

is back for its 10th year.

Afrobeats At The Drake

Director Gurinder Chadha brings

her silver screen smash hit to

centre stage. Plus Regent Park

Film Fest focuses on unity while

the Toronto Sound Fest keeps

experimenting.

Cheat Sheet

BeatRoute’s Essential List —

the must-see shows this month

in Toronto.

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

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


UNIQUE

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FOR

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NHL and the NHL Shield are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. © NHL 2019. All Rights Reserved.


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


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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.” ,

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

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 aesthetic

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 Lane 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

WHAT THEY WANT IS

WHAT I WANT. YOU

HAVE TO LISTEN TO

MUSIC FROM THE

FAN’S PERSPECTIVE,

AS A FAN OF YOUR

OWN SELF.

—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.” ,


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. ,

26 DUNCAN ST, TORONTO

WWW.PARTEEPUTT.COM | @PARTEEPUTT

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


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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.

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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


Anyway Gang

T

he hardest thing

about being in

Anyway Gang is

wrangling. It goes

like this: I call Dave

Monks. No answer.

I call again. Leave a

message. Then I call Menno

Versteeg. When we get Monks,

the lines are fuzzy. Five calls

later we have a clear reception

and a little less time. But it’s

okay, because this isn’t about

publicity, anyway.

“One thing at a time—that’s

kinda been the mantra here,”

Versteeg says, hours before

playing the last Hollerado show

ever. Anyway Gang released

their self-titled debut album on

November 29. “We’re not doing

press just because that’s what

you’re supposed to do. We’re

doing press that we want to

do.”

This take-it-as-it-comes

attitude is an approach most

up-and-coming bands cannot

afford, but Anyway Gang has

paid their dues. Equally fronted

by Sam Roberts, Chris Murphy

of Sloan, Dave Monks of

Tokyo Police Club, and Menno

Versteeg of Hollerado, the

musical supergroup formed “on

a whim.”

Monks and Versteeg met

backstage in 2010 when

Tokyo Police Club opened for

The Flaming Lips in Toronto.

Versteeg met Roberts at a

concert, and when Versteeg

was in the eighth grade he got

a poster signed by Murphy,

oblivious to what the future

held for either of them.

“It’s pretty neat for Dave and

I especially,” Versteeg muses.

“We grew up listening to these

guys. Sam and Chris, like, they

barely know our band.” Monks

chimes in: “They are vaguely

aware that we make music.”

The road brought them

together, along with an email

Canada's latest indie-rock supergroup featuring members of Sloan, Tokyo Police Club, Hollerado and

Sam Roberts Band find a new perspective through jokes and junk food By DAYNA MAHANNAH

NOW WE

KNOW THAT YOU

CAN DO ANYTHING

AND IT’S GONNA BE

FINE AS LONG AS YOU

TRY YOUR HARDEST

AND HAVE A GOOD

TIME DOING IT.

Menno Versteeg

Having the

record be self-titled

just felt appropriate.

It was really an act of

discovering ones-self

and discovering the

powers within me.

thread and four back pockets-worth

of material that had

yet to find a home. Once they

managed to lock down a date

outside of their respective schedules,

it was “a pretty easy thing to

make happen.” Aside from being a

self-contained unit with a four-way

history of independent success,

pre-backed by a respected label

(Versteeg owns Royal Mountain

Records), the lighthearted, downto-earth

nature of Monks and Versteeg

make it simple to understand

how.

“The first day we sat around

the couches and a coffee table,”

says Monks, “and it was just like,

doing ukulele and guitar versions

of everybody’s songs.” Versteeg

jumps in, noting that between them,

they’ve been playing music for

decades: “Not to sound like this,

but we know what we’re doing. Any

idea that anyone has—it’s not gonna

be bad.” Without the pressure

of any one band member relying on

Anyway Gang to be their bread and

butter, the group has been free to

play purely for the love of it.

This manifested as a positive

creative culture within the group.

“That was a really cool part of the

process,” Versteeg expresses.

“Everyone was saying yes and

enabling each other.” That enthusiastic

alchemy crystallized into the

album’s most notable attribute.

“Everyone brought these songs

that were kind of outward looking,

like universal ideas,” Monks reveals.

“When we’re all working on our own

records, you dig into your personal

stuff. But this is the first band I’ve

been a part of where each song is

speaking more outwardly.”

Plus, it’s fun. The indie-rock

virtuosos have formed a nine-track

debut that is equal parts danceable

beats, catchy hooks, present lyrics,

and zippy production. The kind

of music to play amongst friends,

perhaps while sitting around eating

junk food and telling jokes, which

is exactly how Anyway Gang

recorded it.

“When you’re starting your

career, it’s so easy to be precious

about your stuff, and rightly so,”

Versteeg says. He’s got to go get

ready for his monumental last show

with Hollerado. And Monks just

claimed a spot on the guest list.

“But now we know that you can do

anything and it’s gonna be fine as

long as you try your hardest and

have a good time doing it.”

Anyway Gang is out everywhere via Royal

Mountain Records. They perform January

17 at The Horseshoe Tavern (Toronto). Tix:

Eventbrite

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 17


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

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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

MAGGIE STEPHENSON/RAPSEASON

Toronto

DABABY

Dec. 10, 2019

Rebel

A few hours before DaBaby’s Toronto

performance, he jokingly reached out

to the city’s most famous citizen via

social media after getting stuck at the

border.

“Somebody call Drake & tell em

they done had Baby hemmed up at

Customs for 3 hours,” the rapper

wrote on Instagram. It was a foreshadowing

of things to come, as the 6

God himself joined DaBaby on stage

at Rebel a few hours later to perform

hits like “Money in the Grave,” as well

as congratulate the Carolina rapper

for “killin’ this shit”—undoubtedly referring

to the incredible breakout year

that DaBaby has had since releasing

his debut album, Baby on Baby, in

March.

While a Drake cameo is about as

good as it gets, the show was exciting

even outside of that. Backed by stage

props that bordered on the comedic

(including inflatable babies, naturally),

DaBaby ran through his string of

recent hits, including the viral dance

sensation “BOP” and his breakout hit,

“Suge.”

Josephine Cruz

28 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


Toronto

FRIGS

December 14, 2019

The Velvet Underground

After hitting the road for most of

the year with cool country sensation

Orville Peck, making waves as

the charismatic masked crooner’s

backing band, Frigs made their

return to Toronto. Taking the stage

as headliners, the Polaris Music Prize

2018 Long List post-punks showed

everyone why they’re a notable act in

their own right.

The always bad-ass Bria Salmena

was more magnetic than ever, never

a shy front person, howling “THIS IS

SHIT AND I AM NOTHING” (Track “II”)

with the passionate crowd exuding

along as Salmena teetered along the

edge of the stage like a tightrope.

Kris Bowering’s drumming was

boisterous and bold, while Lucas Savatti

(bass) and Duncan Hay Jennings

(guitar) sonically weaved their dirty

and weird psychedelic web between

Salmena’s punk sermons.

Playing favs off their debut

LP, Basic Behaviour, along with some

intriguing new bits and bites, Frigs

were full of vim and vigor, and the

crowd was happy to soak it up.

Here’s hoping Orville Peck doesn’t

keep Frigs too busy to release some

new music in the new year.

Kate Killet

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 29

KATE KILLET


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

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.” ,

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 33



YYZ

01.20

DESIGNTO FESTIVAL

CELEBRATES ALL

THINGS BEAUTIFUL

By AURORA ZBOCH

T

oronto’s premier festival for all that is

beautiful, DesignTO celebrates the artfulness

of design with a series of events

across the city. From Jan. 17 to 26, more

than 100 galleries, screenings, workshops and parties

will allow visitors to experience a unique visual

medium across each of DesignTO’s broad range

of exhibits. Festivalgoers can view everyday things

reimagined—from furniture, sculptures, jewellery,

home and landscape architecture all the way to

urban planning and digital spaces.

One of the many notable exhibits is “Foliage

Fantasy” by Apoorva Varma, which uses opalescent

textiles to create a dreamy, other-worldly

environment that will be viewable throughout the

festival. Or, for two days only, visit the REMOTE

Gallery & Programming Space to help out your

“digital friend” Moira overcome imposter syndrome

in the interactive exhibit “You’re So Lucky!” Or

if you are interested in sustainability and social

models, “Design for Health, Wellness, Aging and

Inclusion” will reshaps household items to address

medical and special needs with dignity and decor.

On the educational tip, featured workshops

include “re:LOCATION,” presented by OCADU and

Regent Park Sewing Studio, which tasks industrial

design students to complete made-to-order goods. It

is a community-based approach to learning the craft

and skill of working with handmade materials, while

conversing on ideas surrounding locality and identity.

Music fans can also forward to DJ sets by

Sigourney Beaver and DJ Joe Blow at the Berkeley

Church launch event, or if you’re really feeling like a

party then DesignTO is throwing their 10th birthday

party on Jan. 25 at the Garrison.

DesignTO Festival // Jan. 17-26 // designto.org

TORONTO’S ESSENTIAL JANUARY HAPPENINGSk

Future Retrospectives, Urban Bath by Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart


01.20YYZAGENDA

YYZAgenda

AFROQUEERISM LAUNCH

Afroqueerism is a new open mic-style event series

created to provide a platform for Black Queer Art

in the city.

Beginning with the premiere of a short experimental

film of the same name by Marisa Rosa

Grant and Xeynamay Gezahegn, the evening will

take place inside 120 Diner and feature 10 performance

slots on a first-come, first-served basis.

Canadian comedian Daphney Jo will be the host

of the evening and will also be simultaneously

doing a live painting to “explore her artistic side”

for your comedic relief.

As if that wasn’t enough, DJ Ace Dillinger will

also be in the building providing sounds and

vibes. Show up early to secure your performance

slot.

Saturday, Jan. 18 // 120 Diner // $10 at the door

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY:

THE IMAX EXPERIENCE

(70MM) AT CINESPHERE

2020—it really sounds like the future doesn’t it? And what better way to move into

a new decade than to take a look back at one of the most iconic sci-fi movies of all

time. At the hallowed Ontario Place Cinesphere, you can do exactly that thanks

to a limited screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. For three nights only, you can

watch Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi symphony on 70mm film just as audiences first saw

it presented, with the bonus IMAX Experience.

This special 70mm version is considered an “unrestoration” because the

footage was reprinted from the original film and preserves the look from 1968—a

process that was overseen by Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. The threehour

spectacle will include an intermission, just as the original did in theatres.

2001 is the ultimate cinematic throwback for all to see how Kurbrick’s vision of the

future still lives 50 years on, especially since the film’s antagonist, disembodied computer

voice HAL 9000 is eerily relevant in today’s era of Alexa, Siri and other voice assistants.

These special screenings promise to be an immersive trip expanding space and time, so buckle in,

and hold on tight.

2001: A Space Odyssey: The IMAX Experience in 70MM at Cinesphere // Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 // ontarioplace.com

Unity Charity Hip Hop

Party Fundraiser

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to do

your part to support arts programs for underserved

Canadian youth, then Unity Charity’s Hip

Hop Party is the perfect way to start your 2020.

The annual fundraiser party is back and this

year Unity Charity is aiming to raise $250,000

for their forward-thinking organization that

enhances the lives of youth across the country

through hip-hop.

That quarter-million dollars will fuel weekly

hip-hop programming for more than 700 youth

in communities across Canada with a focus on

mental health and well-being.

The evening will feature a range of performances

from several local hip-hop artists as attendees

“party with a purpose” and listen to the

stories of resilience that inspired the foundation

of Unity Charity.

Thursday, Jan. 23 // $49+ // Tix: eventbrite.ca

36 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


THE BENTWAY WINTER SESSION

If you’re feeling the post-holidays blues, then getting outside to do a physical activity is always

a good bet. And it’s even better when that activity is free, which is exactly what you’ll find at The

Bentway Skate Trail.

The 220m figure-eight skating rink is now in its third season, and is open seven days a week

and completely free of charge. Make sure you stop by the winter village this month and grab a hot

chocolate (or something stronger) to keep warm while enjoying this reclaimed bit of urban space

underneath the Gardiner Expressway.

Don’t know how to skate? No problem. The Bentway also offers free skating lessons for both kids

and adults. Skates and helmets are available on-site.

Jan. 6 to Feb. 17 // thebentway.ca

COZYDQ-DEQUIERA ATHERTON

EBRU YILDIZ

AFROBEATS AT

THE DRAKE: Hot

Coco and Kuruza

If you’re not hip to Afrobeats, consider yourself (extremely)

late to the party—a very fun party at that,

one characterized by irresistible melodies, driving

drum beats and an undeniable je ne sais quoi that

just makes you want to dance.

The catchall term “afrobeats” refers to the

contemporary music coming out of Africa and the

diaspora over the last decade, and if you’re looking

for somewhere in Toronto to experience all the

varieties, look no further than The Drake Hotel and

its two resident parties—Kuruza and Hot Coco.

The parties both happen monthly, which means

you have two chances per month to get your fill of

Afropop, Afroswing, Jùjú, Naija, Amapiano, Kuduro

and any of the other dynamic varieties of Afrobeats,

played alongside hip-hop, dancehall and R&B in a

setting that’s as welcoming for experienced fans as

it is new ones.

So mark your calendars, grab your dancing

shoes, and get ready to sweat.

Kuruza, Jan. 3 // Hot Coco, Jan. 10 // thedrake.ca

ROM Speaks January

The Royal Ontario Museum expands on its

exhibits with an exciting series of lectures

for the upcoming 2020 season, a highlight

of which is a rare public talk and performance

with avant-garde American artist

Laurie Anderson.

On Jan. 16, Anderson will provide an

intimate look at her work through her

own words while offering commentary

on contemporary culture. The lecture will

complement Anderson’s new virtual reality

experience, “To the Moon,” an immersive

art and virtual reality installation co-created

with new-media artist Hsin-Chien Huang,

running Jan. 11 to 25.

Other notable lectures include “Our

Deadliest Predator: A Human History of the

Mosquito,” on Jan. 14, which coincides with

the “Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches”

special exhibition. Later in the month, you

can also learn about the rich history of

paleontology in Eastern Canada as John H.

Calder presents research and new discoveries

from scientists on Jan. 28.

Royal Ontario Museum // Jan. 14, 16 and 28

// rom.on.ca

JANUARY 2020 BEATROUTE 37


01.20YYZMUSIC

The Cheat Sheet BR PICKS THE 5 ESSENTIAL LIVE MUSIC SHOWS

HIPHOPR&B

ROCK

HEAVY

POP

ALT

1

MATTHEW DOC DUNN

Thurs. Jan 16. At The Baby G

Ascendent, luminsicent alt-country,

reminiscent of your favourite era of

My Morning Jacket. Stay late for DJ

Meg Ryan (U.S. Girls) on the ones

and twos.

2 ISKWE

Fri., Jan 17. at The Mod Club

Finding an even blend between

electro-pop and trip-hop, the Juno

and Polaris Prize nominee defies

convention and is a force of nature of

her own construction.

HÉLÈNE BARBIER

Thurs., Jan. 23. At The Boat

3

The Montreal-based vocalist crafts

a world of nebulous, effortful,

precision-indebted art rock that’s

intimately composed and rigorously

executed.

4 POSSUM

Sat., Feb. 1 at The Horseshoe Tavern

Angular and propulsive krautrock

that names ground control as 70s

proto-punk, and docks at both the

door of garage rock and the outer

rings of the psychedelic multiverse.

5

CALEXICO & IRON AND WINE

Sun., Feb 2 at Danforth Music Hall

The honey-voiced folk innovator

joins forces with beloved Tucson,

Arizona desert rock duo to

stretches outlaw Americana over

sprawling, sun-baked folk.

1

BURNER AND WLMRT

Sat., Jan. 4 at Monarch Tavern

Locals night featuring the city’s

finest hypendated bands: high-achiving

noise rock, and effortful, death

metal-worshipping hardcore.

2 CARTRIDGE

Sat., Jan. 25 at Houndstooth

Boston punks with an advanced

degree in guttural, teeth-pulling

hardcore. Don’t be late — each

song on their last EP clocked in at

under 50 seconds.

3

SHADOW OF INTENT

Fri, Jan.31 at Hard Luck Bar

Does anyone ever really grow out

of deathcore? Splash in a bit of

Eastern European black metal and

you have your answer.

4

RED DEATH

Tues, Jan. 28 at See-Scape

D.C. punks, same as it ever was: a

wandering eye for speed metal,

and some of the wickedest,

big-bellied riffs around.

5

HIDE AND CLOUD RAT

Fri., Feb. 7 at The Garrison

Fri., Feb. 7 at The Garrison

Fierce and merciless, the ever-impressive

Michigan grindcore outfit

and the Chicago-based electronic

duo excavate the feral depths of

everything we attempt to resist with

elegance.

1

JON BRYANT

Wed, Jan. 29 at The Drake Underground

If you’re into Bon Iver or City and

Colour, you’ll want to get familiar

with this Halifax-bred dream-pop

singer.

2

BEN LEE

Wed, Jan. 22 at The Drake Underground

The prolific Aussie has released an

album every few years since 1995,

so you know his show is going to

be stacked with material that spans

his impressive career

3

MEGAN & LIZ

Sat, Jan. 18 at Velvet Underground

Pioneers of the YouTube age, these

fraternal twins built their career

alongside a thriving social media

community to the tune of 250+

million views.

4

JP SAXE

Tue, Jan. 28 at The Drake Underground

Los-Angeles-based singer/songwriter

brings his yearning brand of

soulful R&B back to his hometown

of Toronto for one night.

5 METRONOMY

Sat, Feb. At The Danforth Music Hall

Silky, sexy and cheeky as hell, the

English electronic group are on the

edge of their 20th anniversary and

the perfect guides to navigating

This Modern Age ®.

1 GZA

Mon, Jan. 27 at The Phoenix

The Genius of the Wu-Tang Clan

will perform Liquid Swords in its

entirety to coincide with the classic

album’s 25th anniversary.

2 ATMOSPHERE

Fri, Jan. 17 at The Danforth

For over 20 years, Ant and Slug

have been representing the Midwest

hip-hop scene through their

label Rhymesayers and their own

prolific musical output.

3

AN ORCHESTRAL RENDI-

TION OF DR. DRE: 2001

Sat, Jan. 25 at The Opera House

Though we all know Dr. Dre’s

classic album like the back of our

hand, now is your chance to hear

it in a whole new light thanks to

Concept Eventz and Alternative

Symphony.

4

IT’S OK* FEAT. THEO

CROKER

Sat, Jan. 18 at Betty Oliphant Theatre

Theo Croker is neither R&B, nor

hip-hop, but we had to slide him

in here somewhere. He’s jazz to

the core, and creates music that is

both “timeless and of the moment”

(in his words).

5

TEDDY SWIMS

Thurs, Jan. 30 at Rivoli

The “Swims” in his name is actually

an acronym that stands for

“someone who isn’t me sometimes,”

a reference to Teddy’s goal

of integrating different parts of

himself into his music.

DANCE

1

ELECTRIC CIRCUS

Fri, Jan. 17 at The Drake Lounge

DJs illo and Techtwelve will be

bringing back the vibes of the

iconic live-to-air dance party for

one night only. Expect the best in

old and new club music.

2 SKREAM

Sat, Jan. 12 at CODA

One of the UK’s best-loved selectors

brings his open to close magic

back to Toronto for a night of disco,

house, techno, dubstep and everything

in between.

3

NINA KRAVIZ

Fri, Jan. 24 at The Concert Hall

Recently named as one of the top

10 DJs in the world for 2019 by

DJ Mag, the Siberian star touches

down in Toronto after postponing

her November date.

4 MATRIXXMAN

Sat, Jan. 25 at 211 Geary

One of the pillars of the US techno

scene, Matrixxman has releases

on such labels as Dekmantel and

Ghostly.

5

JANE FITZ

Fri, Jan. 31 at 188 Pearl

A unique opportunity to catch an

all-night set from this DJ’s DJ who

has crafted a 25-year-and-counting

career with her expertly curated

selections spanning acid, psychedelic

techno, trance and beyond.

38 BEATROUTE JANUARY 2020


01.17.20

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