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Arts Arts and Culture Culture

“Cartoon Acid”: Between obsolescence and progress 

Visual artist Connor Gottfried pays tribute to the technology of his childhood.

Jan. 1 is often synonymous with renewal and new beginnings. In 2024, the first of the year also happened to fall on a Monday, making this staple date even more symbolic – a new week, new month and new year all at once. As this new chapter begins, Canadian visual artist Connor Gottfried is right on theme with his first-ever exhibition, “Cartoon Acid,” which explores obsolescence and rebirth. 

Gottfried’s artwork was showcased at Montreal’s S16 Gallery from Dec. 14 to Jan. 7. It consisted of colourful, punk technological pieces made with aluminum and acrylic, all featuring some sort of game system from many decades ago, such as an old Nintendo screen or the original Pacman video game. Two Care Bears plushies were sat in the middle of the room wearing what resembled a VR headset with a front screen playing the original Care Bear comics in  loop. 

Gottfried is an artist, a musician, and a “technologist” per his own words, based in Calgary, Alberta. He is the CEO of a company which develops e-learning softwares called Leara eLearning and has produced 25 music albums over the last thirty years as well. “I really like to explore the intersection of art and technology,” he said, “I was exposed to technology from a young age.  I’ve always been fascinated by screens and interactions.” Gottfried started integrating screens and video games into his artwork a few years ago, which led to the creation of more psychedelic pieces such as seen in “Cartoon Acid.”

The exhibition was inspired not only by the artist’s childhood but also by the rapid pace at which technology has evolved since he was a kid. “My works are about the technology of my childhood, but also about technology’s childhood. There was a time where technology was more innocent, still developing, where we played together with technology. Now, it is evolving  into artificial intelligence: it has started growing into its own adulthood and maturity,” Gottfried said. His artwork is an homage to those candid moments of joy he has shared during his childhood with what is now obsolete technology.

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Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Concordia art history research highlight: Hysteric: femininity and pain in Paula Rego’s “Possession” series.

An interview with Concordia Art History student Charlotte Koch on her MA thesis research.

On Nov. 29, the Hypothèses conference series hosted their third session of the 2023-2024 season, titled “Femmes modèles et artistes: bodily experience in the painting of Bronzino and Paula Rego,” at La Guilde’s gallery space. The session featured two presentations, including a talk from Concordia MA student Charlotte Koch on her ongoing thesis research, “Hysteric: Femininity and Pain in Paula Rego’s “Possession”.” 

Koch discussed the scope of her project, offering a glimpse into the history of depictions of women’s illnesses and the women who fell prey to exploitation in asylums as early as the 18th century. The plight of these women is remembered through the vivid and dynamic pastel drawings by Portuguese-British artist Paula Rego in her larger-than-life “Possession” series. This series was part of the largest retrospective ever of Rego’s work at London’s Tate Britain art gallery in 2021, only a year before the artist’s passing.

Emma Bell:  What is the ultimate goal of this research? 

Charlotte Koch: What I really want to do is take a closer look at what it means to quote other images and reuse or recycle them into new work. I think work like “Possession” can raise really interesting and important questions about authorship and historical authority, particularly as they relate to ideas we have around the archive or the canon. What I want to do by looking at the history of hysteria is take a more critical look at who has had the power to record the lives and experiences of other people, and how they approached this process.

EB: What inspired you to embark on this project? 

CK: I was very lucky to see Paula Rego’s retrospective in the summer of 2022 right after I finished my undergrad. Originally, I wanted to write about something completely different for my thesis, but after hanging out with Rego’s work for a while, I was so enthralled and my brain was firing in so many different directions, I realized that she would be a great topic for my MA thesis. I knew I wanted to write about historical authorship in some way, and I had, weirdly enough, taken quite a few classes on psychoanalytic theory (my minors in undergrad were philosophy and French studies). It was hard to escape in philosophy, and a lot of French feminist literature from the ‘70s deals a lot with psychoanalysis, so I ran into it a lot then (since that’s what I was most interested in).So when I saw “Possession”, a lot of things clicked for me and I came up with the ideal of approaching historical authorship from a medical/intellectual history perspective. I thought I could put together a really fun, and kind of interdisciplinary thesis that could really utilise all the work I had done in undergrad. 

EB: How do you feel your discussion of the history that informed Rego’s work will impact the way we read media today? 

CK: I hope it can change the way we approach discussions of women’s health as to help take their pain more seriously. A lot of what exists in the archive around hysteria is very trivializing, but in dismissing hysteria outright, you fail to fully see and understand the pain of the women that suffered from it (or suffered from conditions that were labelled as hysteria like PTSD, depression, epilepsy, and more). I think Rego is very good at making the experiences of the women she depicts very confrontational and real. I hope that in highlighting her work and how exactly she accomplishes this, we can gain a new perspective on what it means to treat women’s experiences with the sympathy and severity that they deserve.

EB: How are you practising care as you work on your project?

CK: In my project, I discuss the very difficult lives of three women named Marie, Augustine, and Dora in quite a bit of detail. The only records that exist about them are medical records, and case notes largely only consist of rehashing their traumas. In only focusing on those, the archive continues to enact that same violence on their memory. What I want to avoid is reducing Marie, Augustine, and Dora to their suffering, without dismissing or ignoring their pain either. What I hope I am able to accomplish in my research is to present a balanced, nuanced, sympathetic and careful view of what it is for them to have their lives and stories recorded in this way. The three of them have been reduced to medical cases in the records that exist of them thus far. I hope to create a fuller picture of them as they exist as agents with their own thoughts, feelings, and histories.

EB: What was one of your largest takeaways from presenting at a conference like Hypothèses? How did you feel about the conversation? Was the feedback useful?

CK: It was terrific, and really helpful. What I find most useful when sharing my research is to see what things people latch onto and where they see gaps in logic or information. Conferences like Hypothèses are so great because it lets you test your project. What I learned, for instance, is that there’s a lot more I could say about the actual formal qualities of Rego’s work. I had really neglected my formal analysis of “Possession previously, but after getting some questions and speaking to the folks who attended, I was reminded about how much effect things like scale, perspective, and medium can have on the impact of a work. It let me really zoom out so that I didn’t get lost in my rabbit hole, and now I think my project is a lot more complete.

EB: What scholarship do you recommend for those who want to learn more about your topic?

CK: For folks who are interested in the history of hysteria, Asti Hustvedt’s book Medical Muses can be heart-wrenching at times but is very accessible and paints a beautiful picture of the lives of women who were diagnosed with hysteria at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris in the 1870s.

For folks who are interested in historical authority and history creation, Mark Salber Phillips has two great books on this topic: On Historical Distance and What was History Painting and What is it now? with Jordan Bear. 

I, of course, urge anyone and everyone to check out Paula Rego’s work. Since her Tate retrospective there is thankfully so much more being written about her. She was so prolific, within her massive body of work, you are bound to find something you connect with. Her Dog Women series, I think, is brilliant and a good place to start if you want to dive into her figurative work. And of course, I think Venus in Two Acts by Saidiya Hartman should be required reading for everyone who deals with people and archives their research and writing.  It is a short but deeply impactful read that will make you think harder and more carefully about how you write and who you write about.

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Arts and Culture Community Interview

The art of leadership

Four leaders in and around Concordia’s community spoke on how they implement creativity into their leadership approach.

In a polarized world, it is important to have leaders who focus on positivity, encouragement, and humanity. Being a leader now means being approachable and open, working well with colleagues, and honouring one’s role and connections. From top executives to middle management, creative leaders seek out purpose in their decisions, turning the activity of leading people into a masterpiece.

“I see leadership as an art in complex strategizing and continuous motivation and support of my team at work as well as my community,” said Kseniya Shibanova, team lead at Keywords Studios, a gaming company in Montreal. Being adaptable and open-minded while staying firm and true to yourself at the same time is not an easy task, and for Shibanova, it requires creativity and strong vision.

Shibanova believes that there is no reason to limit your creativity when it comes to leadership—it’s important to keep testing different approaches.. “I’m always striving to be innovative and test various ideas with my team. It can be in finding new ways to motivate or in creating custom solutions that will satisfy the need and keep everyone happy at the same time.”

For Christopher Menard, head chef of Bottega Pizzeria, employee satisfaction is a top concern in team leadership. “It’s really important to me to make sure that my staff is happy. I try to strike a good work-and-life balance for everyone,” he said. 

The chef, who has been cooking professionally for over 20 years, believes that a team achieves better results with someone who leads naturally. “I have worked with many chefs, and in doing so [I] was able to really pick and choose my leadership styles. I know exactly what’s going on in the kitchen at any moment and always know whether or not we are ready for a busy service. This is art,” Menard said

Chrissy Jean, a learning and development specialist in Montreal, highlighted how crucial it is for organizations to provide training to aspiring leaders in their teams. “Just like any art, we also get better at being a leader through practice and continuously improving ourselves. I believe that leadership is not an entitlement in which someone is born into the role,” she said. 

According to Jean, investing in a broad vision can be a valuable strategy to improve ways of leading and guiding people:  “Leadership is a rewarding, fruitful and wonderful journey. Practice your resilience, open your mind to feedback, and keep working at the amazing artform, you will be empowered to lead your people to achieve the common goal.”

Michael Netto, teaching a  leadership diploma course at Concordia University, believes that leaders must steadfastly drive towards the goals that align with their visions. “Leaders need to not only consider the voices of those followers, but to the voices of those who offer opposing perspectives. Those perspectives may help in discovering innovative ways to drive towards their goals,” he said. 

Netto believes that leadership is not restricted or reserved for those in politics or industry: it is most definitely an art, coupled with scholarly learnings. “Learn from the ones who have walked before you, learn from those who walk beside you, and continue learning from those who follow. With an open mind, you can better lead to serve those around you,” he concluded.

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Interview Music

Into the Mind of Bane

Concordia student Justin Tatone talks about his new album “BANE & BLESSING”.

On Sept. 29, Justin Tatone finally released his latest album BANE & BLESSING, a collaborative effort with his friend and frequent collaborator, rapper Benedict Tan. Released after a three-year wait, the project is an ambitious opus that fuses rage-rap with a myriad of other musical genres and styles.

Tatone credits American rapper Playboi Carti’s second album, Whole Lotta Red, as the primary influence for BANE & BLESSING. It paved the way for the rage-rap wave which was popularized by artists like Yeat and Trippie Redd in 2021. The genre’s characteristic sawtooth synths, 8-bit melodies, and heavy bass are all prominent on Tatone’s new album and originally constituted the entire soundtrack. 

BANE does not juxtapose rage rap with other styles and seamlessly fuses them together, resulting in unique, electrified versions of these subgenres. The foundation of Tatone’s creative collective Xion in 2022 granted him new collaborators and ideas that would break the project’s one-dimensionality, venturing into sounds like grunge and synth-wave on “BANE’S THEME,” and dance-pop on “BLEACH ON ME.” “I needed things like that [other styles] to offset the agedness of those harsh rage tones,” Tatone explained. 

Tatone fully embraces the album’s low-budget production and DIY approach, with most of the record having been recorded in his bedroom. He notably boasts on “BREAK THE FABRIC OF TIME” that he is out-rapping his competition, despite using BandLab (a free music production app for mobile devices). “When you’re stripped back in terms of budget and materials you have to wear that on your sleeve,” he said. 

The artist invokes XXXTENTACION and Ski Mask the Slump God as examples of this mentality, given their inclusion of heavy distortion and room tone into their music. Tatone also praises the Baltimore-based rapper JPEGMAFIA, whose overblown mixing helped Tatone embrace the imperfections of his own.

BANE & BLESSING is a persona piece where Tatone and Tan portray two titular characters. “Bane is vain, indulgent in the iconography and gluttony of hip-hop. Blessing is woke and open-minded, he is the voice of reason,” Tatone explained. His character represents the current, bravado-heavy side of hip-hop, whereas Tan embodies the genre’s woke, conscious side. 

Tatone’s lyricism is also filled with ridiculous one-liners like “You’re Boots, I’m Dora” (“MASK ON!”) and “Facebook moms love me like I’m Candy Crush” (“FANS / NEVER GOING BACK”), which fulfill his attempt at taking himself less seriously. “People are going to criticize you anyway, so might as well make it a fun time,” he said. These lyrics are guaranteed laughs from the audience but also help him loosen up. This idea relates to the masks in the album’s artwork, a motif that has been used to promote BANE & BLESSING since early 2022. “It helps to have a mask: I can pick at myself and make silly comments but still feel confident.”

Jaden Warren, a design student at Concordia, served as the creative director for the album, directing the art and designing a colour palette. The final album cover is AI-generated by Tatone and received praise from Warren as it lived up to his envisioned aesthetic. The rapper sees the AI cover as an extension of the album’s technological nature. “Bane only exists in the digital realm,” he claimed. Tatone sees no issue with artistic integrity as he believes he successfully divorced himself from his work on this album, allowing himself to embrace AI as an artistic medium. 

Tatone cites collaboration as key to both his and the album’s artistic evolutions: “As a creative person, you can get stuck in a silo of thinking and have tunnel vision because you’re in love with your work.” The album notably contains guest features from Xion member E.Sko, punk-rapper KPTN, and rage-rap artist KeBenjii, all of whom hail from Montreal. A guest feature from Atlanta-based rapper Zoot was also secured through a mutual friend.

Overall, BANE & BLESSING is a highly ambitious and creative experiment that pushes the raging sound to new extremes while bringing different artists, ideas, and creative approaches into the mix. “It’s heavily derivative but an original interpolation of the culture. That’s what I’m most proud of,” Tatone concluded.

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Interview Music

Life in Xion

A look into the collective that’s growing in Concordia’s music studios.

Multidisciplinary artist Justin Tatone first met Benedict Tan in high school back in 2017. The pair began collaborating over the years. “It was just us making stupid songs and I would produce the beats. It was so bad.” The pandemic later inspired them to take their musical alliance seriously and they began working on a collaborative project in 2020. This union marked the inception of Tatone’s art collective Xion, which welcomed four more members in 2022: Yorgo Al Terek, Leo Deslauriers, Giancarlo Laurieri and E.sko (Elias Skotidakis).

The group’s name is based on the word Zion, which is derived from Tatone’s Jamaican heritage. In Rastafarian lore, it signifies a land of promise. He was also inspired by the 1999 sci-fi film The Matrix, in which Zion is referenced as a land where humans can live freely and without restriction. The intention behind the collective was to “share resources, create a space promised for us,” Tatone explains. The replacement of the Z by an X represents a dissociation from perverse connotations and variations of the word, specifically Zionism—the nationalist movement predicated on reclaiming territory in the Middle East.

As an electroacoustics student, Tatone gained access to the sound studios at Concordia. The available equipment provided him with resources that allowed the group to expand and make music they never would’ve been able to afford to make, according to him. 

The group’s dynamic is highly collaborative: the approach to their forthcoming group album Xion Vol. 1 notably had three producers individually working on a sample (as a background melody) simultaneously. Deslauriers would then splice the renditions together into one, full beat, with drums and other elements being added later. Al Terek, who also studies electroacoustics, describes the process as working in “episodes,” and recalls creating shorter beats with the intent for his colleagues to add to them however they want. 

Each artist fills a specific role, but their contributions converge into a larger, distinct product. “Our collective space serves as the crossroads of artistic expression,” as Laurieri puts it. Tatone wants his collective to be bigger than music: “I want to build a community based on sharing resources. The first step to that is allowing people in the space who aren’t necessarily artists.” 

Laurieri, who is currently a second-year political science student, is an example of this. He has no distinct training in music but plays a key role in the group, serving as its marketing and networking specialist, and as creative consultant. He put together the campaign for E.sko’s Love, Wannabe tour this past summer, a makeshift tour born from booking every open mic and venue in town. The experience was a success, bringing the group to several bars throughout Quebec and even Ontario. “Montreal has so much opportunity for small artists,” Tatone says.

BANE & BLESSING, the electrifying rage-rap album from Tan and Tatone, will finally launch on Sept. 29 after three years of creation. The album is set to be supported by live performances, with punk venues being envisioned. Tatone also expresses interest in embarking on another tour in summer 2024, this time as a collective in support of their upcoming group album, the boom-bap influenced Xion, Vol. 1. He also revealed that a documentary for the Love, Wannabe tour is on the way.

Xion may just be gearing up, but their ambition and output support Laurieri’s description of the group. “It’s a journey of creative convergence where the sum is truly greater than its individual parts.”

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Music

How DJs at CJLO 1690AM navigate tangible Music

A talk with CJLO’s music director about the radio station’s airing process.

As Concordia’s one and only radio station, CJLO 1690 AM’s team needs to stay up to date with the emergence of new music to air while continuously cataloging incoming music. As conveyed on their website, over 80 DJs spin through various music genres and  CJLO has been streaming seven days a week from early 2003. Their tower and transmitter can be heard as far as Ottawa and Burlington, Vermont. This means that the station’s crew ought to not only constantly broadcast but also take into account their large number of listeners to successfully run a radio station in 2023. 

CJLO’s head music director, Lisa Rupnik, shares a typical day in the life at the station and what the DJs encounter and need to consider when airing music these days. Her job mainly consists of tracking what DJs play on their shows and translating that information into their weekly music charts. In her day to day, she is also in correspondence with record label representatives and radio promoters who keep her up to date on all the latest releases. This allows her to ensure their playlists are suitable for listeners and offer novelty. 

After receiving recommendations, Rupnik curates what gets added to the station’s digital library based on their DJs’ tastes and interests. After the digital side is taken care of, she explains that the next step is to oversee the physical media collection and coordinate volunteers to help with music library projects. 

Rupnik validates that the majority of the DJs at CJLO stream music for their show exclusively. With the decline of tangible music like CDs and vinyls at the station, she says some DJs make an extra effort to play physical media, but it is generally just for fun and doesn’t actually make any noticeable difference to listeners at home. 

Their in-house music library holds hundreds of physical media and is part of their permanent collection that has been going strong since CJLO’s start 25 years ago. As music director, Rupnik continues to add physical submissions to their library, which she receives from promoters. 

“We value keeping CDs and vinyls to keep a tangible archive of music trends over the years,” Rupnik says. “The fact that CDs and vinyls are rarer these days encourages us to keep and maintain a quality collection.” 

As a core member of the CJLO team, Lisa can tell when a release is really exciting, as the singles take the radio by storm long before an actual album is released. For example, the latest Slowdive album, Everything Is Alive, was just released on September 1, but CJLO’s DJs had already been spinning the singles since June.

That being said, a lot of other DJs will play artists on their show whose entire discography consists of singles. These artists are often found on TikTok, YouTube, SoundCloud and even Bandcamp. Rupnik agrees with this support: “It’s great that DJs are supporting these artists as some of them are totally DIY, although you should take into consideration that the “singles only” trend happens amongst both indie and major artists.”

Concordia’s on-campus radio station is then far from vanishing collectible pieces of media but does keep a close eye on taking the extra effort to sustain their library and encouraging DJs in engaging with more tangibility in music. 

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Interview Music

DJ PØPTRT is taking over

Meet the Concordia student playing Quebec’s biggest festivals.

Hailing from Kahnawà:ke, DJ PØPTRT (real name Kiana Cross) is an Indigenous DJ and second-year communications studies student. She is coming off a loaded summer which included performances at Montreal’s Club Unity and some of Quebec’s biggest festivals such as the Festival d’été du Québec, the International Balloon Festival, and Piknic Électronik. 

One of the festivals that the DJ performed in was Festival d’été du Québec (FEQ), and she looks back at the experience with nothing but admiration. She also played at the International Balloon Festival and PIknic Électronik, the latter being the biggest crowd she has ever gathered. “I was so focused on transitions and playing music that when I finally looked up to see thousands of people it was surreal,” she recalled.

DJ PØPTRT describes her style as “nostalgic sounds from the classic ‘90s rave scene in a more contemporary vibe.” She incorporates aspects of her Indigenous culture into her music and hopes to “see the world, to tour,; to connect with people and share an insight on who I [Cross] am and my culture.”

The rising artist also got candid about the sacrifices involved in balancing a DJ career with being a full-time student: “It was hard. I remember having a job during the day, a class in the afternoon, and I would DJ until 3 a.m. […]I’m trying to add the human aspect of being kind to myself and healthy, combining both so I can have longevity with this lifestyle.”

A Mohawk artist, Cross shared her feelings about receiving support from Quebec festivals and organizations, given Canada’s negative history with its Indigenous populations.

 “It’s interesting to be in this time, especially as a female Indigenous artist. When people reach out, it’s hard to decipher if they’re simply trying to appease by making it seem like they’re supporting an Indigenous person,” she said.  While she is grateful for the environment she’s in, DJ PØPTRT finds that “there is a lot of work to be done,” and aims to address Indigenous issues and decolonize the music scene.

As an artist who manages all aspects of her career by herself, including graphic designing and business management, Cross has also played gigs in Ottawa and New Brunswick. She now plans to make a breakthrough in Europe following her increasing popularity in Canada. “I’m already making connections and seeing where I want to go,” she told The Concordian.

Be sure to catch DJ PØPTRT’s upcoming show at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa this September, which she describes as having “original music and visuals— a sample of what’s next.”

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News

Strike in motion: Concordia students share their thoughts

Students share their opinions on the strike for a reading week in the fall semester

As of Oct. 2, 13 member associations (MAs) within the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) have passed a mandate to strike from Oct. 3 – 7 for a fall reading week. The growing awareness of the reading week strike has spread across Concordia, resulting in some students having strong thoughts on the subject.

The Concordian interviewed students across both Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses to get their opinions regarding the upcoming reading week strike: 

Concordia students Amélie (left) and Lennie (right) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Amélie (left) and Lennie (right) 

“I think it should happen because we have one in the winter, and other schools have them, so I think it only makes sense to have the whole week off to catch up on studies and have time for midterms,” said Lennie.

“I think it is a good idea because it’s important to have time to catch up on school, but it’s important to have time for other stuff than school like leisure, family or anything else in your life. I feel like when you’re in school you have less time for that,” said Amélie.

Concordia students Luca Quol (left) and Sofia Pofizkus (right) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Luca Quol (left) and Sofia Pofizkus (right)

“I honestly just learned about it yesterday. I am in support of it. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that we don’t have a reading week, it seems like every other university in Canada does,” said Quele.

“I think it’s a good idea, honestly, since everyone else has one. We also need a break in the fall, not just the winter,” said Pofizkus.

Portrait of Concordia student Emma Megelas at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Emma Megelas

“I think that it’s beneficial for students to do the strike and the reading week. Not only will it give us more time to study and be prepared, it will help to spread out our schedule so that you’re not crammed with other exams you have to do. You also won’t feel so stressed with work or getting a good grade, so you can be feeling a lot more confident with what you got,” said Megelas.

Concordia students Luca Safar (right) and Exael Cormarie (left) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Luca Safar (right) and Exael Cormarie (left)

“I think it’s fair enough, you know what I mean? Reading weeks are important and they said that they would give one,” said Safar.

“I think it’s interesting and motivating to see everybody wanting to do this. I am an international student, so I don’t really know what a reading week is, but I do like the idea of having extra time to relax. We don’t seem to have that many breaks already throughout the term,” Exael said.

Portrait of Concordia student Mohammad Abdullah at Sir George Williams Campus. ANTONY FALCONE/ The Concordian

Mohammad Abdullah

“No, I am not against it. I wasn’t sure about the reading week strike but now that I heard about it,  I’m sure that students should get the time to participate. They can get their homework done. It’s good to have a strike. I’ll probably catch up with my homework, my labs, assignments, and get ready for midterms,” Abdullah said.

Concordia students Francisco Ceballos (left) and Cesar Delossantos (right) at Sir George Williams Campus. ANTONY FALCONE/ The Concordian

Francisco Ceballos (left) and Cesar Delossantos (right)

“I think it should happen because other schools have a reading week in the fall term. I’m gonna need to study and catch up on my other classes,” said Delossantos, a civil engineering student.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for students so they can catch up. Some students might have fallen behind on classes so it also gives them the opportunity to catch up. It has also been really crazy since we’ve been back in school. It’ll be great for everyone to relax, not stress out and settle down a little bit to use that time to catch up with notes and things like that,” said Ceballos, who is currently pursuing a degree in civil engineering.

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Interview Music

Quebecois singer-songwriter Elliot Maginot is taking the province by storm with his indie music  

The Concordian sat down for an interview with the musician between a sound check and his biggest headliner at Outremont Theatre

Elliot Maginot, whose real name is Gabriel Hélie-Harvey, has been slowly winning over the hearts of la belle province since his first EP was posted to MySpace in 2013.

He calls himself a “contemplative soul” and is always looking to explore new sounds and avenues with each album release. His songs combine different musical instruments, sometimes including a saxophone, a cello, two guitars, a keyboard, a drum-set and backing vocals all playing together.

After discovering the guitar early on, Maginot dipped his feet in the musical universe as a teenager and doesn’t plan on leaving it.

Although he writes and sings his songs entirely in English, the artist is a dedicated Québécois francophone through and through.

His album Young/Old/Everything.In.Between which released in 2014 propelled him into the spotlight. He quickly joined the lineups for important cultural scenes, like the Montreal Jazz Fest or the Festival d’été de Québec.

Staying in his comfort zone

Although he was not raised religious, Maginot often writes songs with Christian influences. “Holy Father,” “Holy Water” and “Dead Church” are only a few of the songs where the singer uses spiritual vocabulary.

“I guess I am fascinated by the symbolism because it’s so unknown to me. It’s cathartic to sing ‘hallelujah.’ When I sing ‘holy’ I just want to raise my hands,” he said.

One tradition he and his band members share is to dress up in Christmas sweaters in mid-July — right when the heatwave peaks — and write a yearly holiday song.

“I do like Christmas, but it started more as a running gag and now it’s become tradition. It’s a way to return to the studio mid-album. It’s a song we’ll never play live so it’s less pressure and the recording sessions are lighter.”

Future possibilities

Having two previous Gala GAMIQ nominations under his belt, Maginot certainly hopes to win an award in the near future “just to have it at home so [he] can use the statue as a paperweight.” He is currently nominated for two categories in the upcoming Gala de l’ADISQ.

He’s currently working on his next album, in which he hopes to include more collaborations with other artists. As he put it, “My creative bubble is very closed and airtight. I feel intimidated. I’d like to sit down and write something with another artist.”

With every new project comes the goal of exploring new sounds and ideas. Keeping a consistent aesthetic without repeating himself is a challenge Maginot takes on with each new creation.

The singer is currently touring across Quebec promoting his latest album, Easy Morning. On Sept. 16 he passed by Montreal, playing in the Outremont Theatre. It was his biggest show as a headliner.

With a full house, the show offered an intimate performance, with Elliot and eight accompanying musicians delivering a touching rendition of his work. 

Picture by Auréa Gamboa

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Arts

Artist of the week: Jordan Daniele

The Concordian spoke with the multi-talented artist and Concordia student about inspiration, overcoming creative block, and more

What makes an artist? Concordia’s very own Jordan Daniele, who is a painter, creative and artist, delves into this complex idea by peeling back the layers of his own work. Largely inspired by historical artists and influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat-style expressionism, Daniele emulates a deliberate childlike approach to painting, citing “childhood is something everyone can connect with.” He feels it is important to remain a kid at heart. 

TC: What inspired you to take up painting?

JD: I have been studying art history for four years now and I’m still studying it to this day. I’ve reached a point where I want to move on from learning about artists that already exist and become one myself. I’m still not certain I want to be an artist as a profession, but painting is something I enjoy, so I might as well explore that while I can. I think that because I’m a fairly reserved person that painting has given me an outlet to express myself in a way that comes most naturally to me. I’ve never been great at speaking up, but now, with my most recent work, it has allowed me to speak my mind on the canvas in a way that I never could with words.

TC: What would you like people to take away from your work?

JD: For me, it’s all about expression — what I’m going through, what I’m thinking. If even one person can connect and find solace in it, that’s what it’s all about. Even if my work can brighten someone’s day, add some positivity to their mood, that would be cool. When I was just starting out, I used to paint more abstract, random brush strokes, Jackson Pollock-type work. Then, my dad actually inspired me to branch out and venture into more figurative work. Before that, I had never really thought to have a message embedded in my work. My primary focus was more aesthetic-based, and finding the beauty in arbitrary brushstrokes. I wasn’t overly concerned with incorporating a definite message because it’s supposed to be subjective. I want people to connect with it the way they want. If they want it to have meaning then they can find one hidden in the brushstrokes — if they don’t, then that’s cool too. Everyone will have their own experience with it.

Facial Features by Jordan Daniele

 

TC: How often do you face creative blocks? How do you overcome them?

JD: Actually, a few months ago, when we were in lockdown, I was painting everyday. At one point I was making five paintings a week. This went on for about a month. I would often go back and paint over those paintings too, so I actually created more than what’s physically out there. So in terms of creative block, sometimes I get stuck on figuring out whatC exactly I’m trying to portray or I get stuck wondering if it should have a meaning at all. Sometimes I won’t paint for a month if I’m particularly frustrated. It can really get you questioning your abilities when you get stuck like that. I’ve caught myself thinking “Am I even good at this anymore?” But I learned that when you get in that headspace, it’s best to just take a break. Once you clear your head, you just have to paint — just go for it and trust that something special will come out of it.

TC: What themes do you find yourself drawn to?

JD: I listen to a lot of music. So, I like to incorporate lyrics into my work. Music plays a big role in my inspiration. I could do a whole painting filled with quotes from a song if it resonates with me. My work has a lot of jazz influence as well. I like to include the actual instruments in my paintings. Sometimes, something as simple as a sound or phrase that gets stuck in my head can spin off and evolve into its own theme and inspire me to explore something new. There isn’t really a single thing that I find myself drawn to, it definitely depends on my environment and what catches my attention, but music and sound are consistent themes.

TC: Can you tell me a bit about your favourite piece?

JD: It’s hard to say because I’m my toughest critic. I’m around my work so often that I’m constantly nitpicking the details of it, so it’s constantly in flux; I can love a painting while I’m creating it and a month later I’ll change my mind. Right now though, I’ve been working on this series of paintings with a bunch of flowers, and it’s my favourite because of the meaning behind it. I start off with quick brushstrokes in the shape of a flower, then I go over it with a more precise outline of it. The contrast of the neat precise outline to the quick and messy shape of the flower is representative of us: people in society. We’re just like flowers. Even when we’re feeling messy and when we’re missing petals, someone may still look at us and see beauty like we do with flowers.

 

The Dark Clouds of Reality by Jordan Daniele

TC: What does being an artist mean to you?

JD: Anyone can be an artist. Of course, it does take some degree of skill for certain types of artwork, but mostly it takes a specific mindset. You have to be ready to take the rawest emotions and thoughts you experience and translate [them] into something tangible. There are so many people who are artists and don’t even know it yet because they haven’t given it a shot. At the end of the day, you just have to be creative and express yourself to the fullest. 

For more information about Daniele or to explore his work, please visit his Instagram page @artistjordandaniele.

Visuals courtesy Jordan Daniele

Categories
Music

Keep your eyes on LUMINOUS

 Rookie K-Pop Group LUMINOUS talk about their first comeback “All eyes down (advance)”

K-pop quartet LUMINOUS shine bright — wear sunglasses if you need to.

Youngbin (23) is the leader, lead vocalist, and a dancer. He was a contestant on the popular reality survival competition show Produce X 101 . Suil (22) is a rapper, dancer, and sub-vocal in the group. Steven (22) is Korean but hails from Sydney, Australia. He’s a rapper and sub-vocal, and like Youngbin, he was a contestant on Produce X 101 . Woobin (21) is the main vocalist and “maknae” (youngest) of the group. 

During our nearly 40-minute talk, the guys seemed genuinely close, they laughed, interrupted each other and fit on a single couch. Actions speak louder than words though, or an interview with a journalist. LUMINOUS was once known by a different name and they were meant to debut under a different company. While the details aren’t clear, whatever happened, they left and stayed together to end up at WIP Company, run by Kim Sung-eun who has been a vocal coach for acts like BTS and TWICE.

Finally, after their years as trainees, reality show stints, a few company changes, and a case of COVID-19, they debuted with their first EP YOUTH and the lead single “RUN” in September 2021.

They’re back now with their new project Between Light and Darkness (Self n Ego) which, as the title suggests, echoes Jungian concepts of persona, self, and ego through confusion, loneliness, and anxiety, to represent youth struggling with some of the big questions in life. 

With help from a lovely translator, The Concordian sat down with LUMINOUS to talk about their comeback, debut, and hopes for the future.

TC:  I read that originally you were going to debut in 2019 and you, of course, debuted in 2021. There was a two-year period, what was that time like for you guys?

Woobin: So although we were supposed to debut in 2019, because it got pushed back we were disappointed and wondered ‘When are we going to debut?’ When we finally did debut it was almost like a relief. It was like turning over a new leaf so that was really exciting.

TC: How did you all originally become trainees? Did you audition? Were you scouted?

Youngbin: I auditioned.

Suil: I received a DM asking me to come in.

Woobin: I went to an arts school so I was doing a lot of auditions so I got contacted by the previous company. The current one, I met with the CEO.

Steven: I first got casted on Facebook. They just DMed me like, “Oh, we’re in Australia, we’re nearby, do you want to try to audition?” So I thought it was a scam [at] first. So I was like “Okay yes, let’s meet up here,” and then I was scared so I brought all my friends to be with me in case I got kidnapped [laughs] but yes, I realized it was actually real. So I took the audition, I somehow passed and then later on… connections with the company right now and the CEO.

TC: Does anyone remember what song they auditioned with?

Steven: This company I don’t think I did an actual audition or anything, but then my previous company I think I sent a Taylor Swift song [everyone laughs]. I didn’t know how to sing or anything so “I like this music, I’m just gonna sing it,” and yes, I sang it spoken. I don’t know what the song was, it was Taylor Swift… “Star Struck”? “Star…” I’m not sure, I forgot.

TC: It might have been “Starlight”?

Suil: Tom Odell.

Youngbin: Maroon 5.

TC: And who are your biggest musical or performance role models?

Youngbin: Baekhyun (of EXO). He’s so bright, can always capture the stage, and he’s cool. I really respect him.

Steven: For me singing wise it’s IU “sunbaenim” (Korean honorific for someone older or with more seniority in school or the workplace). And then for rap, Eminem got me started rapping. And then I think I got more interested in rapping with Logic and Joyner Lucas, and Tory Lanez.

Woobin: Kang Seung-Yoon (of Winner) has great melodies and songs that are really my style. 

Suil: I don’t have a specific role model, I respect so many artists and I look at what they’re good at, kinda digest that, and try to put it in my own music and style.

TC: As a group, what do you hope to do with your music?

Suil: As artists, we’d really like to bring comfort and good vibes to everyone who listens. If you’re in a bad mood or you want to cheer up we hope you listen to LUMINOUS. But at the same time, the members want to have fun, this isn’t just a job but something we really enjoy.

TC: This is your first comeback, congratulations by the way! It’s been a few months since your debut now, how have you guys changed and grown since then?

Youngbin: We’ve become a little more mature and our… aura has become cooler.

TC: The new EP is called Between Darkness and Life (Self n Ego). What’s the concept?

Suil: In the album, we’re looking at the fake self versus who you really are. And LUMINOUS fighting through going through those motions to really figure out “Who am I?”

TC: I read that “Joker” inspired the performance, how does he fit the concept?

Steven: We kind of tried to get that beastly vibe from the Joker. Like a werewolf kind of vibe. So that’s what we tried to put into our choreo. And then for our concept, I think the Joker has two sides, and he’s just struggling to be himself. 

TC: The first song on the EP is “MATRYOSHKA.” Steven, you co-wrote that song, do you want to talk about it a little?

Steven: It was one of the songs that I wrote quickly because I was short in time so I couldn’t really, you know, spend time on it and be like, “Oh, I think this will be better and then try to improve these parts.” It went by really quickly.

TC: What’s your favourite song on the EP?

Steven: Mine is “Want it more?” When I hear that song it just gets me motivated, it makes me wanna work harder for the things I want.

Woobin: I like “MATRYOSHKA.” I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, I feel a bit more hip when I listen to it. One of the fans said it would be a good song for a bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding [collective laughter].

Suil: I really enjoy “Trouble.” When we were recording I thought it was so great it could be a title track if we didn’t have “All eyes down (advance).” 

Youngbin: “Scintillation” really brings an innocent unique feel to the EP. 

TC: As individual artists and as a group, what are your goals for the rest of the year? 

Steven: For me as a group and personally I think my goal is to stay healthy, not get hurt. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. If we’re sick or hurt we can’t make music.

Youngbin: I hope everyone listens to LUMINOUS and looks to us for healing. And like Steven said I hope all the members and staff stay safe and healthy.

Suil: As LUMINOUS since we’ve received more of the fans’ love, we hope we can become deserving of all the love the fans give us and really show our best side as artists. Personally, I’d like to participate in writing one of our songs. 

Woobin: We’d love to have a world tour, perform in front of everybody, if we can do it we’d love to. My personal goal is to be the best. 

TC: To finish off, do you have a message for your fans? 

Youngbin: Thank you so much for all your love and support, we’ll work towards becoming a better LUMINOUS. 

 

Editorial Note: Youngbin, Suil, and Woobin’s answers have been translated from Korean to English with help from a translator. Editorial liberties were taken not to change what they said but to account for translation. Unfortunately certain details and nuances have likely been lost in translation. Global PR & Marketing by MJTONZ.

 

[spotifyplaybutton play=”https://open.spotify.com/track/3JsAc6cHAcK7tt9mRybp0q?si=bb6a9581bff6483c”]

 

Categories
Music

A few questions with Evan H. Clarke

This Concordia graduate’s music is full of life

Evan H. Clarke is making his return to releasing music all the way from Austria. The Concordia graduate is back with Nighthawk USA, Pt. II, the second installment of an initial vision for a double album.

Nighthawk USA, Pt. II marks Clarke’s third release in 18 months, following 2020’s Maverick, and Nighthawk USA, Pt. I, released earlier this year. Instead of releasing one album with 20-plus tracks, the original idea will see light via three separate releases.

“I was like, ‘What am I gonna do? A double album?’ No one listens to albums these days, let alone double albums, so I’m gonna release it as three EPs and figure out what’s the best way to sequence them so they worked in the album but also as three separate EPs,” said Clarke.

Creative space is not a problem for Clarke, who says he tends to write songs in batches. This batch, the second part of his double album, is one that borrows inspiration from different parts of the globe. Its roots as demos and ideas were in British Columbia, but these only wrapped up recently after settling into his new European groove.

If this new release can be summarized: it’s mellow, full of life, and an easy listen.

Whether it is the folk-pop feel of Maverick, or the folk riffs on these Nighthawk projects, what is being done is being done well, but it’s not a limit. According to Clarke, his next project is an electronic one — something fun just to get it out of his system.

 

The Concordian to Evan H. Clarke about his latest release, and what’s next.

TC: How do you differentiate this project from Nighthawk USA, Pt. I or Maverick? Is this an improvement?

EC: I feel like every time I make something, record, produce, release, I learn and I get better for the next one. So I feel like for this one, in terms of sequencing the songs, mixing, even honing in on my writing, I feel is potentially stronger than the other two just because I’ve learned from that, in terms of working on my proofreading and my editing and making sure that the lyrics are the best that they could possibly be.

Compared to the other two, lyrically, sonically, it is better. I think it is also more emotional. The first couple tracks on the first EP and Maverick, there’s some emotion, but a lot of it is just kinda rocking out and having fun. […] I think that with this one I’m very proud of it because I’ve allowed myself to be more vulnerable than before.

TC: Where did you finish the making of it?

EC: I wrote all of these songs around the same time when I was living in the Okanagan, so the sound of it, the content, the lyrics, the direction are all very much influenced by that landscape. […] I did some of it in Montreal, some of it in BC, some of it in Austria, so it’s been cool to see how the tracks evolve depending on where I am and what kind of instruments I have access to.

It was a lot of fun to do, but it is a lot of work. Particularly when you’re either finishing your degree or starting a new full-time job in a new country, you don’t always have a lot of time to work on it. So every now and then you have an hour or an hour and a half to work on the mix, but this whole project is just me having fun.

TC: How does your new life affect your creative output?

EC: Last time we spoke, I talked about wanting to do more electronic stuff. When I was in Osoyoos I was like, “Man I need a banjo,”  because it suited the landscape. Now that I’m here I’ve been producing, I don’t know if it’s going to be an EP or an album yet, but more like a sample-based electronic project. I feel it’s directly influenced by being in Vienna, I don’t know what it is, whether it’s being in the city, having more technology, I don’t know. That’s just how my creativity is manifesting in the city, more electronic.

I’ve still got the third part of Nighthawk USA to finish, I’ve got all the music done, I just have to record the vocals and stuff. I think I’m gonna try and do this electronic one first, to get it out of my system, then go back to the folky stuff.

TC: In our past conversations, we’ve talked about changing directions towards electronic. Where do you go from here?

EC: I just started making this beat one day, and it sounded awesome. Then the next thing you know, I’ve got three or four of them going and I’m thinking, “Maybe I’ll focus on this for a little while.”

When you’re recording acoustic folk music, you have to worry about your neighbours being loud and, I live near a street which is like super loud, so that stuff can be kind of frustrating as well. So I figure for a little while now, until I get some kind of booth set up in my apartment, I’m just going to focus on electronic. It’s funny how that kind of stuff is influenced by your surroundings.

Clarke’s musical career shows no sign of stopping regardless of what his life looks like.

 

Photograph courtesy of Evan H. Clarke

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