Party in the 90s with fellow Concordians

Several student groups collaborate to host a 90s-themed party at L’Atelier d’Argentine

Concordia students and alumni can go back in time and experience a night in the 90s on April 29. Get out your best chokers and graphic t-shirts for an end-of-semester party called “Fullhouse: Long live the 90’s!” taking place at L’Atelier d’Argentine from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“We wanted to throw an end-of-semester event where people can have fun and let loose from exams,” said Felicia Therese Da Conceicao, the public relations officer for the Concordia Caribbean Student Union (CCSU), one of the groups that organized the event.

Two DJs will be present—DJ Serius and DJ Caz. They will be spinning iconic 90s tunes from artists such as Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Biggie and 2Pac. Party-goers can also expect to hear a mixture of dancehall, soca and afrobeat music.

“We thought that since all the 90s babies are grown up now, we should have a night of all throwbacks,” said Audrey-Lise Benoit, the CCSU’s VP event coordinator. “The 90s are slowly creeping back in style, and we wanted to do something to celebrate it.”

The CCSU collaborated with multiple student associations to plan the event, including the Nigerian Students’ Association Concordia, the Haitian Students’ Association of Concordia, Concordia Music Zone Out, Association des étudiants Africains de l’UQAM and Association des étudiants haïtiens de l’Université de Montréal.

Tickets are $10 until April 28—on April 29, they increase to $15. They can be purchased through any of the student associations involved, or online here. For more information, visit the event page.

L’Atelier d’Argentine is located at 1458 Crescent St., a short walk from both Guy-Concordia and Peel metro stations.

Header graphic by Thom Bell.


Where to rock out when school’s out

Start your summer break off right with these must-see Montreal concerts

While we may be approaching exam period in the next few weeks, soon after, many of us will be saying goodbye to Concordia for a little while. Why not start your summer break off right by going to an energetic concert? We’ve compiled a quick list of must-see shows. Bonus: they’re all inexpensive.

Overcoats at Divan Orange on April 30

New York duet performing new album, YOUNG in Montreal.

The New York female duo, Overcoats, will be performing the folk-soul ballads from their anticipated new album, YOUNG. The duo consists of vocalists Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. They both have soothing and soulful voices—their songs focus strongly on a capella. They will be kick-starting their North American tour for their album launch on April 20. They also recently performed showcases at the SXSW music festival. If you are a fan of experimental soul duets and a capella music, and would like to hear something magically unique, this is the show for you. They will be performing, along with Yoke Lore, on April 30 at Divan Orange at 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $12.

Dawn Tyler Watson at Upstairs Jazz on May 5

Concordia alumni and notable jazz figure.

If you’re a fan of jazz and blues tunes, a performance by Dawn Tyler Watson will never disappoint. The singer-songwriter and Concordia alumna’s energetic and enthusiastic performance style is sure to keep you on your feet all night. Watson is the recipient of nine Quebec Lys Blues Awards and also placed first in the International Blues Challenge in Tennessee this year. Her most recent album, Jawbreaker, which was released in 2016, pushes the boundaries of blues, incorporating elements of soul, folk and gospel. With Watson, you’re bound to hear a mixture of originals and iconic jazz interpretations. The show at Upstairs Jazz begins at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $15 at the door. You can also catch Watson performing at the Montreal House of Jazz on April 28.

Jojo at the Corona Theatre on May 7

Jojo’s album, Mad Love, features a mixture of smooth R&B and club hits.

You might remember Jojo for her mega R&B-pop hits “Too Little Too Late” and “Leave (Get Out),” which came out in the early 2000s. For many of us pop fans, they were a part of our childhood. After a 10-year hiatus from releasing music due to problems with her former record label, Jojo finally returned to the music scene in October 2016 with Mad Love. The album features an eclectic mix of club bangers and sultry R&B tunes. Luckily for Montrealers, Jojo is making a pit stop in the city during her Mad Love tour. It’s sure to be a night filled with dancing, drinking and a lot of energy. Rumour also has it Jojo will be performing a few throwback hits—truthfully, it’s never too little too late for her to do so. Catch Jojo at the Corona Theatre on May 7—the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.50 pre-purchased, or $33 at the door.

Nick Hakim at Bar Le Ritz on May 12

Listen to soulful alternative/indie sounds on Nick Hakim’s new album, Green Twins.

Would you care for some mysterious and sultry, yet experimental indie/alternative sounds? If so, make sure to check out Nick Hakim’s performance on May 12, as he launches his new album, Green Twins. His eclectic, smooth guitar riffs, along with dreamy vocals, will bring you into a state of bliss. His soulful and passionate music is known for its relaxing romantic alternative tunes that can sweep you off your feet. Hakim is originally from Washington, DC, and will begin an international tour promoting his new album on April 19 in London, England. The solo artist will be in Montreal on May 12 to share his deep and soulful sounds at Bar Le Ritz at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door for $20. Don’t miss out on this emotional and profound experiential indie show.


Nostalgia through sound and style

R&B-pop artist Sophia Bel keeps her music fresh with hypnotic beats and moody lyrics

It was Britney Spears’ sophomore album, Oops I Did It Again, that made Sophia Bel want to become a singer when she was young. “I knew the whole thing by heart,” she said.

These days, though, the Montreal-based singer-songwriter has been listening to a lot of 80s and 90s house music and old jazz tunes for inspiration. Her newest track, “Winter,” dropped on March 24. The analog synth-based song features a 90s backbeat and drawn out, echo-y vocals.

“I was on a night out and I was coming home in an Uber, and I felt those late-night, post-party blues. I wanted to express that kind of ringing sound you can have in your head when you’re falling asleep after a party,” Bel said about her inspiration to write the song. “It’s about addiction and trying to get your life together.” The single premiered with an accompanying music video.

Bel’s music can be described as R&B-pop, but there are elements of jazz in it, too. “Right now, I’m really into 80s synths—like synth basses and keyboards. I’ve also been getting into vintage-sounding guitar pedals,” Bel said, adding her music has a nostalgic feel to it.

Singer-songwriter Sophia Bel’s sense of style is eclectic and vintage, qualities which reflect the essence of her music. Photos by William Arcand

Her personal style also bears this same nostalgic feel—her outfit ensembles are often reminiscent of those from an earlier generation—fitting, as she often shops at thrift stores. “I get inspired by either a memory from my childhood of a certain style that someone had, or I’ll have a t-shirt and I’ll build an outfit around it,” she said. “I enjoy being creative. For me [fashion is] a hobby, and it’s cool that it can help direct my image, and the vibes that I want to bring to my music,” she said. Her style, as she described, is “eclectic and slightly kooky.”

Bel is currently in her last year of the jazz music program at Vanier College. She said her studies helped her develop her sound. “I could write a catchy song [before], but now I can explore different textures, different sounds. I have a better view on the medium itself,” she said.

Her vocal technique has also changed over the years. When she first began singing at a young age, she would try to emulate powerhouse singers, such as Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. Now, she opts for a softer sound vocally. “I pay more attention to subtleties and the sensibility in the interpretation, and not so much showing off a huge voice,” she said. Bel’s voice on her recently-released tracks is soft, silky and smooth—nearly hypnotic.

While Bel is commonly known for her time on season four of La Voix, the Quebec music reality TV show, she does not want to be known as the reality show singer forever. She is grateful for the exposure the show gave her, but she said she felt she wasn’t portrayed in the best light—she was deemed the shy, awkward girl, which isn’t reflective of who she is or wants to be.

“The lack of control of your image when you’re on a show like that is kind of tough to deal with,” she said.

“[The show] taught me to be more authentic with what I want to share with the world,” she said. “It re-centered my focus—now I just want to focus on my art and the stuff I actually want to do.”

For her last performance on La Voix, she sang Lana Del Rey’s “High by the Beach,” a cover which she quickly became known for. “It was the performance that got me the most exposure. It was my most popular performance,” she said. So much so, she recorded a version of it on her Facebook page, which has over 74,000 views. “I got literally hundreds of requests to do my own version,” she said. Del Rey is also one of her musical influences.

However, Bel said she believes her biggest accomplishment is still to come. “A lot of people would say it’s La Voix, because it gave me a big boost in my development as a public figure,” she explained. “But my biggest accomplishment is my EP that I’m going to release—that’s how I feel right now.”

Her new EP does not have a release date yet, but Bel is aiming for the end of this summer or early fall. It will feature all new songs, which she described jazzy and sensual. Bel will also be involved with the artistic direction of the EP. “I’m inspired by space right now—aliens and spaceships,” she said, referring to the imagery she wants to incorporate in the EP. “I’m also thinking of the colour green and orange a lot. I don’t know if my inspirations are too weird,” she said with a laugh.

For aspiring musicians, Bel said, ultimately, it’s important to be authentic and develop a clear musical direction. “Unless you have something to say, no one’s going to hear anything,” she said. “[Your music] is not going to resonate if you don’t have a clear vision and a clear direction.”

Music Quickspins

ACole – It’s a Sports Term

ACole – It’s a Sports Term (SportsTerm Records, 2017)

ACole’s debut record, It’s a Sports Term, is loaded with just that—sports terms. The opening track, “Hat Trick,” is essentially a rant about how uncultured our copy team is. In “This is How It’s Said,” ACole lectures listeners on the importance of proper sports terminology by repeating the phrase 46 times throughout the three-minute track. The standout track is “ESports.” Here, ACole incorporates synths, banjo and even a sitar, while attempting to convince the audience ESports are real sports that require strength and endurance. In the end, every song on the album sounds the same lyrically. It’s simply a salty mess—and that’s coming from CsaltSanza, so that’s saying something. I would say he should just stick to sports, but if he did, his second album would be even more of a disaster. This was still pretty lit tho. Lit is a sports term, btw.

Rating: 7/10

Trial Track: “Off the Bench”


The Franklin Electric – Blue Ceilings

The Franklin Electric – Blue Ceilings (Indica Records, 2017)

Montreal-based alternative-rock band The Franklin Electric’s sophomore album is filled with delicate piano-playing and folk drum beats, which are complemented by lead singer Jon Matte’s textured and emotive vocals. “Burning Flame” is a piano-based ballad with a chord progression that is reminiscent of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” It is instrumentally simple, but the haunting vocal harmonies bring it to life. “All Along” is a standout track for its quick drum beat, subtle guitar riffs and emotional strings. Blue Ceilings is a good album to play on repeat while studying. The drumming is eclectic enough to put the listener in a productive mood, but the slower tempo of most tunes gives it a relaxing vibe. While the album is instrumentally cohesive overall, when listening to it in its entirety, many of the songs can sound similar. The record isn’t a jump musically from the band’s debut, This is How I Let You Down, aside from the addition of some faint electronic sounds in some tracks, such as in their single “Walk With You.”

Trial Track: “All Along”
Rating: 6.5

Music Quickspins

John Mayer – The Search for Everything – Wave Two

John Mayer – The Search for Everything – Wave Two (Columbia Records – 2017)

John Mayer released the second round of tracks from his upcoming album, The Search for Everything. The album’s songs have been teased to fans in sets of four, Wave Two being the second set. In the opening track, “Still Feel Like Your Man,” Mayer confesses he has not let go of a past love. The song is full of groove and smooth vocal harmonies. The change of tempo in the bridge gives the blues-pop track an extra level of dimension. The ballad of the bunch, “Emoji of a Wave,” features a simple guitar melody. The echo-y oohs and ahs sung in the chorus can put you into a relaxing daydream. The energy picks right back up with “Helpless,” where Mayer’s electric guitar takes the lead—it lends itself to a few punchy solos that take up nearly half of the song. When looking at Wave One and Wave Two as one unit, it’s clear Mayer is staying true to his original blues-pop roots, but still adding a hint of country and folk here and there.

Trial Track: “Still Feel Like Your Man”

Rating: 8/10


Music Quickspins

Ed Sheeran – ÷

Ed Sheeran – ÷ (Atlantic Records, 2017)

After taking a break from social media for a year to travel the world, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. From incorporating the Irish fiddle in “Galway Girl,” to the high-energy afrobeats in “Bibia Be Ye Ye”—where he also sings in Twi, a common dialect in Ghana—it’s evident his time away inspired him. While some tracks feature Sheeran singing with just a guitar or piano, such as the emotional closing track “Save Myself,” overall, the album is more instrumentally dynamic when compared to his first two albums. “Perfect” is the ultimate love ballad, and is sure to be the first dance song at every wedding this summer. The sassiness in “New Man” is humorous, as Sheeran sing-raps about an ex lover who’s now with someone who’s the opposite of him: “He wears sunglasses indoors, in winter, at nighttime, and every time a rap song comes on, he makes a gun sign.”  ÷ is sure to please the bulk of Sheeran fans—it’s dynamic, but he doesn’t stray too far from the acoustic style that makes him so popular.

Trial Track: “Galway Girl”

Rating: 7.5/10


Bringing improvisation to the classical music world

Part-time music vocal instructor Irene Feher brings out the musicality in all her students

As I prepare my recorder for the interview I’m about to have with part-time music professor Irene Feher, she takes a seat at the grand piano in the room. We’re in a music class in the MB building. “I’ll be comfortable sitting here,” she says, as her fingertips glide across the piano keys. The lights above her illuminate her body, which sits tall and straight at the piano bench. She begins to improvise a few piano chords while humming.

A few bars later, she is singing a series of oohs and ahs. There’s no method to how she’s doing it—it is free, it is random. But there is a power—a meaning, a feeling—in the jibberish. I knew by the goosebumps running down my arm, and the wide-eyed gaze I had listening to the combination of sounds. And that, Feher would say, is the art of improvisation in music.

Improvisation wasn’t a big part of Feher’s life until a few years ago. But coincidentally, her late aunt, Annie Brooks, used to improvise all the time when she was young.

“Annie used to spontaneously break out into song,” Feher said. “And it’s funny because I feel the importance of it more now than I did when I was experiencing it in the moment. She could sing and improvise… It was just astonishing to listen to the breadth of her expression, and the colours she would put into her voice.” She was one of Feher’s early musical influences.

“Music has just been in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s kind of a clichéd statement that people make, that you don’t choose a music career—the music chooses you,” said Feher.

Originally untrained vocally, she learned to sing through being in bands. In the 80s, Feher performed regularly and went on tour, singing a lot of dance and rock music. She had a popular music background, but the now mezzo-soprano had a limited range at the time. “[I was] singing a lot of guy stuff, you know the very deep black velvet type singing,” she said, mimicking a deep voice. “But I had so much guts. I just went for it.”

Ultimately, she found the bar scene too tiring and unstable. In 1990, Feher began taking vocal lessons with classical music teacher Huguette Tourangeau, to help expand her range and improve her voice. Through Tourangeau, she discovered the world of classical music.

Classical music simply spoke to Feher. “I remember Huguette telling me, ‘you have a classical soul,’” said Feher.

Five years later, Feher made the courageous choice of going back to school at 30—to study music at Concordia. Her decision was met with disapproval from her father, who thought she should do something more practical, like an office job. However, Feher strongly felt she needed to pursue music.

“I knew I wasn’t going to have a big classical music career, I started way too late. But I knew whatever the outcome would be, I’d be much happier,” she said.

“I was probably one of the few 30-somethings who would be getting up in the morning saying ‘I’m going to school, oh my God!’ I felt like a kid,” she said with a big, bright smile. “I couldn’t wait to get to class. Concordia was just this place that allowed me to foster my passion, and not feel judged.”

She noted one of her professors, Beverly McGuire, as someone who had great influence on her, because they came from similar backgrounds—in popular music. “A lot of the people who go straight into classical training either have parents who are classical performers, or they’ve been exposed to [classical] music all their lives, or they’ve been studying from a very young age… I didn’t have that,” she explained. “My hero at the time was Barbra Streisand.”

She now works alongside many of the professors who taught her, including McGuire. Feher began teaching at Concordia in 2009. 

Currently, Feher teaches one music course at Concordia called Private Study – Classical and Contemporary Voice, which is offered at various levels. She sees students individually for vocal lessons.

Irene Feher is a part-time vocal teacher at Concordia. Photo by Frederic Muckle.

“It’s been a wonderful experience, because I see students from all kinds of different backgrounds, many of them having backgrounds resembling my own,” she said. She explained some students may be singer-songwriters, some may be actors wanting to learn music, some may have been playing gigs all their lives—they’re all unique.

She has learned a lot about her students over the years. “I’ve learned to listen to every student as an individual. By listening better, I’m trying to allow them to be the best individuals they can be. It’s not about making a bunch of cookie-cutter singers,” she said. “It’s about having these individuals bring what they already have to the table, and making that grow. It’s the diversity of the Concordia students that makes it a very exciting atmosphere.”

Within the part-time faculty union, Private Study teachers at Feher’s level of seniority can teach a maximum of 12 students. This semester, Feher has 10 students. Feher explained part-time Private Study teachers are paid on an hourly basis, but only for the time spent in the classroom. Feher said, however, there is a lot of work that goes on outside lessons, such as emailing students, preparing schedules, learning the pieces the students will be singing, among other tasks.

“I think there is less understanding university-wide of what goes on to make those lessons successful—what has to go on outside of those lessons,” she said. “If I were to offer a suggestion, I think all Private Study teachers should meet, and a consensus can be agreed upon as to an average number of hours that are actually put into class preparation, and that could be mandated into the contract.”

However, Feher said there are blessings to being a part-time professor. “When you’re part-time faculty, you can still lead that whole other part of your life, which is that of an artist. I’m giving improvisation workshops, concerts, involved in some interesting research and I’m singing. So that’s the blessing.”

Prior to teaching at Concordia, Feher spent a lot of time at McGill, as she completed both her graduate and doctorate degrees in Voice Performance and Pedagogy, at The Schulich School of Music.

“McGill just opened up my eyes. It was a whole other experience because I really got the view of what formal classic training was,” she said, explaining it was also a bit of an intimidating experience. “I felt like an imposter. I felt like I didn’t belong there. Because I didn’t have that [classical] background. Because I didn’t start music at a young age.” Regardless, she said she loved her experience at McGill.

During her doctoral studies, she discovered the world of vocal science—vocology—a relatively new field about science and habilitation of the voice, through her voice teacher, professor Winston Purdy. At McGill, she was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) fellowship for her research on the use of visual feedback to instruct lyric diction. She travelled to the UK to present her work.

While she was fascinated by the scientific aspects of the voice, Feher was itching to tap into her creative side again once she completed her doctoral degree. But, a big shift occurred in her musical life—she felt stumped by her own voice. When she would get up on stage to sing, or try to sing at all, she had difficulty—anxiety, tension and restrain. She said it got to a point where even hearing other singers perform stressed her out.

“I loved my music, and I loved teaching, but there was a joy and a soulfulness that was missing for me. A part of me was not there,” she explained. “I think a part of that was my wanting so much to fit into that [classical music] expectation—and I placed the expectation on myself—of wanting to fit in and be a classical musician, because I had such respect for classical musicians.”

Feher took a short break from performing to overcome her vocal difficulties and tension. She turned to body work—yoga, meditation and the Feldenkrais Method—a type of exercise therapy aimed at improving flexibility, posture and reducing pain and tension.

In 2013, she came back to the musical world, in a new and exciting way. She went to her first session at Music For People, a non-profit organization with the goal to revitalize music-making through the art of improvisation. Feher said Music For People was an opportunity for her to go back to the basics of what music was.

“My world was rocked,” she said. “All of a sudden something had broken open. It was what I was looking for.” The biggest lesson she learned from Music For People: there are no wrong notes.

“When I improvised, I was hitting notes that I hadn’t hit in years, in fact not at all in my classical singing,” she said. “Then when I’d go back and do the classical exercises, I couldn’t do the notes… I realized the inspiration was coming from inside of me… How I feel in my body when I make music is so different now.”

She is currently part of the organization’s four-year musician leadership program, where she leads and coordinates group sessions. Upon her graduation this fall, she will be a certified Music For People facilitator.

What Feher learned at Music For People helped her as a music teacher, and she includes improvisation-based exercises in her lessons now. “The training is not only improvisation, but in facilitation. Learning how to facilitate changed my teaching. Because it wasn’t about me imparting information. It was about me enabling and bringing out the genius in the students,” she said. Feher is hoping university music programs will start integrating improvisation into formal music study.

Along with vocal challenges, Feher also openly discussed a visual challenge she has faced from birth—congenital cataracts—the clouding of the eye lens, which results in impaired vision. When she was young, she was operated on to have the lenses removed from her eyes. She is legally blind, but has low vision—which is usually described as partial sight.

“That limited me to many jobs. I can’t drive, for example. I have to enlarge text by 300 per cent. I have certain challenges,” she said. “But, in many ways, not being able to take the safe route allowed me to take the brave route. I went for what I wanted to do.”

She felt it was important for her to touch upon her visual impairment, as many students she meets face challenges, too. Her advice: look for that one thing in your life that you love to do, that you can do for hours and hours, and do it. For Feher, that is music.

“Yeah, it takes me three times longer to read something than the average person. But when I discovered that I had my little place in the sun, that I could sing a song in front of a group of people, that I could stand up in front of a group of people and have them all making music out of nothing, then I realized—it doesn’t matter that people can read three times faster than me,” she said. “We all have our own individual talents. We often focus too much on what we can’t do, than what we can do.”

If there is one change she would like to see within the industry of music education, it’s for learning music to become more accessible, more mainstream. “I love virtuosity, don’t get me wrong. I have such appreciation for great artists,” she explained. “But I believe if we have more people learning through making music together, communal music-making, I believe we would connect more with each other. I believe very strongly in the power of music to connect people.”

Other than teaching at Concordia, Feher also teaches a class at McGill and conducts singing lessons in her home studio, Living Your Music. She has been teaching privately at home since 1993. She accepts students of all levels, ages and musical styles.

This semester, she has also been facilitating a series of free improvisation workshops at Concordia called “Collabra-dabra-tory,” which take place every second Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in MB. 8.135. They are open to all students. 

Watch our interview with Irene Feher here


Finding your athleticism

Keeping physically active is all about discovering the activities that excite you

When I was in high school, I was never one to get grass stains on my knees. I cringed at the squeak of running shoes across the gymnasium floor. If you asked me how I felt about gym class, I would tell you I’d rather be solving the equation of a line.

Like many high schools, my P.E. class curriculum was predominately team sports-based. Throughout the school year, we would rotate between different sports, from soccer to basketball to rugby to floor hockey. A big chunk of students—the jocks—would excel no matter what sport they played. As much as I wanted to fit in with them, I didn’t have the hand-eye coordination or the natural talent to make a great pass or score. As team members were being chosen by captains, I’d twiddle my thumbs and stare at the floor, knowing I’d be one of the last invited to play.

I was labeled one of the lazy girls. And to be honest, at the time, it was true. I was unfit. Unmotivated. Occasionally, my teacher would allow me to walk laps around the school instead of playing sports with the others.

What I have learned since then, though, is that I didn’t hate gym class because I hated exercising. I hated it because I never got to discover a type of physical activity that brought me joy and excitement.

Over the last four years, however, I found my place in the world of fitness. For me, it’s really been all about trial and error. Even today, I continue to discover more about my athleticism and physical capabilities.

There are a few activities where I feel in my element, such as running, spinning and biking. I discovered these activities through gym classes in CEGEP or by hanging out at the park and observing how others were being active. But more recently, bootcamp classes have really changed how I view physical activity. For over a year now, I have been a member of KinéKat Santé, a workout studio in the borough of Lasalle.

Graphic by Florence Yee

According to Kathy Landry, the owner and main trainer at the studio, bootcamp is a form of interval-based training which targets muscular and cardiovascular endurance, as well as agility and coordination.

During each class, we complete a series of four exercises at specific intervals, repeating the entire set three times. Then, we complete a second series of four different exercises three times again. At first, I thought the exercises would get boring after a while.To my surprise, every time I’ve attended, Landry has come up with new exercises, making the course fresh and exciting. Personally, that’s one of the aspects that makes the course so entertaining for me—you never know what you’re going to get.

It would take the entire word count of this article to list all of the exercises I have done through bootcamp. We do a variety of planks, squats, lunges, push-ups, agility exercises, weights and a lot of work with bosu balls, a dome-shaped exercise ball.

Bootcamp can also easily be done at home using minimal equipment. A few weights and a mat are all it takes to get you started. But, for me, being part of a class is more motivating, as I feed off of the energy of others without it getting competitive. Classes are also a reasonable size—eight to 10 people. While Landry has several other classes, such as zumba, yoga and POUND, bootcamp is the class I keep coming back to. It is impossible to leave without sweating your butt off.  It is challenging and energizing. I feel my muscles tightening with every sequence, and it’s rewarding. I started out not being able to do a single push-up or hold a plank for more than 20 seconds—those days are long gone.

It’s virtually common knowledge that being physically active reaps significant benefits, not only physically, but mentally. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, keeping active regularly can improve self-esteem, reduce stress, increase energy levels and overall happiness, all while reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

I can attest to the fact that being physically fit has made me happier and more confident. The key, in my experience, is finding activities you truly enjoy—ones that don’t feel like work—that you’re motivated to do. Year-round, I workout four times a week—through bootcamp, biking or running.

It is easy to feel like you are just not meant to be fit, or just not good enough for sports. If there is any advice I can give to anyone in that predicament, it’s to be curious. Try new activities, and go into them with an open mind. More importantly, don’t get discouraged if you dislike something. Of course, there are days where, no matter what, even a workout you enjoy will feel like work. But it’s when you don’t mind that grass stain or the squeak of your shoes against the floor that you know you’ve found an activity worth sweating for.

Music Quickspins

John Mayer – The Search for Everything – Wave One

John Mayer – The Search for Everything – Wave One (Columbia Records, 2017)

John Mayer recently released four tracks off of his upcoming album, The Search for Everything. It’s been over three years since Mayer released an LP and, based on these songs, it’s evident he’s going back to his original musical roots. The first single, “Love on the Weekend,” takes fans back to the days of Room For Squares—it’s reminiscent of the catchy, pop-bluesy hits Mayer first established himself with. The mid-tempo, the reverb-filled guitar riffs and Mayer’s silky, smooth voice come together to tell a love story. In “Changing,” Mayer reflects on growing older. It starts off with a simple piano ballad, but by the bridge, a killer blues electric guitar solo kicks in, signature to Mayer’s style. “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me,” is a subdued, sad piano ballad accompanied by whistles and emotionally-driven lyrics. The Search for Everything – Wave One is a must-listen for all Mayer fans—prepare to get hyped for the full-length release.

Trial Track: “Changing”

Music Quickspins

Gabrielle Aplin – Miss You

Gabrielle Aplin – Miss You (Never Fade Records – 2016)

In this EP, Gabrielle Aplin fiddles with electronic sounds and bubbly beats—definitely a step away from the acoustic-based melodies she’s known for. The first two songs, “Miss You” and “Night Bus,” touch on themes of longing, loneliness and loss, and act almost as parts one and two of a break-up story. Aplin’s vocals are smooth and angelic—they nearly put you in a transient state. The second half of Miss You features the side of Aplin fans are more familiar with. “Run For Cover” is mysterious and haunting—lyrically, Aplin plays with the metaphor of a burning house, all while featuring eerie, yet simple instrumentation. The EP concludes with a piano rendition of “Miss You,” which puts more emphasis on the sadness of the lyrics due to its bareness instrumentally—her vocals take centre stage. As always, Aplin’s tunes tell creative, relatable and meaningful stories.


Trial Track: “Night Bus”

Music Quickspins

KyAzMa – The Magician’s Mirror

KyAzMa – The Magician’s Mirror (Aeon Radix, 2016)

KyAzMa’s debut album, The Magician’s Mirror, brings forth an eclectic, fresh genre. Traditional instruments, such as the piano or guitar, are used to create a folksy feel, but overtop lies layers of haunting electronic sounds and deep, downtempo beats. Add to that the soft male and female harmonies of duo Christina Enigma and William Moon and you have the essence of The Magician’s Mirror. The electronic-folk mix creates a powerful, enchanting vibe on a lot of the tracks. Lyrically, the duo explores themes such as following your heart and overcoming your fears. Although the dissonant nature of the album is intriguing, by the midway point, the songs start to bleed into one. The singers stay mainly within the same vocal range throughout the record. The tempo also does not get tampered with much from track to track, adding to that repetitive nature. The Magician’s Mirror is surely experimental, but the melodic sameness makes the electronic-folk feel become stale.

Trial track: “Kia”


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