The special gift of music and synesthesia 

A breakdown of what chromesthesia is at its core—students share their connections to it. 

When pressing play on a song on your phone, your only intention is to appreciate the track in question. For some, passively or actively listening to music involves more than giving an ear to it. 

This is when synesthesia meets with music. Synesthesia is essentially an occurrence where sensory crossovers happen. This combination of different human senses collide and merge. It can come in various degrees and causes some people to associate a sound or taste with a number, for example. 

There are also about 80 different types, subtypes, manifestations and other similar phenomena of synesthesia. Chromesthesia is one of them, which specifically defines people who see colours when listening to music. It can also take the shape of  “hearing a certain timbre or musical note, smell a perfume and hear a sound, or see a word and taste a flavour,” according to Pitchfork magazine. Additionally, American neurologist and author Dr. Cytowic indicates that about four per cent of people have synesthesia in some capacity. An array of artists like Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Lorde, and composer and pianist Duke Ellington had it.

Within the music industry, artists have shared about their personal synesthesia. During an interview with Nylon magazine, Billie Eilish notably expressed how it helps her creative process, especially during the creation of music videos, her artworks and song choices during live performances. The bond between artists’ synesthesia and their careers can have tangible impacts on the image of their work. Indeed, the album cover of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange is a straightforward orange canvas since it was the colour he saw when falling in love for the first time.

Other examples include Pharrell Williams seeing burgundy or baby blue when listening to Earth, Wind & Fire when younger, and Kanye West seeing dark brown and purple when hearing basslines. When creating an original score or forming any piece of music, Devonté Hynes aka Blood Orange explained in a TED Talk that he starts with patterns and colours, and layers them like a picture. The artist associates yellow with the C key, pink with F, brown with E, and red with A, which creates a canvas that helps him fill any gaps. 

Copy editor at The Concordian Mackenzie Sanche shares that she’s had grapheme-colour synesthesia since a young age, which causes her to associate numbers and letters with specific colours. Having this type of synesthesia made Sanche good at remembering numbers, dates and certain spellings because she’d see the colours splattered in her mind and could then identify which numbers she was looking for. 

Specific associations such as Jacques Cartier’s first trip to Quebec in 1534 show up as a splash of white, lilac, red and royal blue in her mind. “I remember when I realized in CEGEP that this type of memorization wasn’t the norm—as a visual artist, I felt honoured to have this condition that merged my art to things I’m not so strong at, like math and history,” she adds. 

Music-wise, Sanche does have some bits of chromesthesia. Some songs she grew up listening to still appear as full paintings in her mind, such as “Tears and Rain” by James Blunt, which translates to dark blue and lime green cylinders rising and falling. Sanche notes that while her synesthesia rarely manifests that way anymore without concentration, her memories are forever engraved in her head.

There is however a fine line between memory associations with music and synesthesia itself. Zixuan Li, a first-year communications student, vividly associates listening to a playlist featuring the band Khruangbin with the past winter semester. She had just gotten herself new headphones and wore them all the time to school. “I spent most of my time at the downtown campus and would often go to the hive café and JMSB building during that time,” Li shares. 

After leaving Montreal during the summertime and rarely listening to music throughout her trip, the communications student revisited Khruangbin and got hit by a wave of nostalgia. “I could smell the hive café where I’d typically order a grilled cheese and cappuccino and physically feel the heat of the JMSB building,” adds Li. 

Whether it’s musicians or your next-door neighbour, synesthesia—especially when interacted with through music—is more common than we may think.


Staff Picks: Study Music Preferences

Learn how The Concordian’s team enjoys music during midterm season.

It is no secret that music can boost motivation and increase energy while also proving soothing and stress-relieving. Here is how some of our staff choose to listen to music with schedules packed with midterm deadlines. Whether you are simply curious of disparities between music listening habits in high stress or seek new focus and concentration music to add to your playlists, look no further! 

Emma, News Editor: “I usually like an upbeat tune playing on my record player. If I listen to slow songs or classical music, I won’t be able to concentrate. When I’m studying, I’ll play Bad Bunny’s albums, “The Queen is Dead” by The Smiths and some of their singles. My record player has a bluetooth setting, so I’ll connect my phone to it and play Bad Bunny or I’ll go through my vinyls and play The Smiths. It’s such great motivation music and I feel like I can get through my homework and anything by going all out with what I’m listening to. I also have ADD and sometimes it’s hard to stay focused all the time, but for me, upbeat music keeps me motivated to get things done.”

James, Creative Director: “I have always listened to Homework by Daft Punk when I want to get in the groove of an essay or big project! The fact that it says “HOMEWORK” on the album cover serves as a reminder to stay focused every time I look at my phone and I find the repetitive but energetic energy of the music to be a great way to keep me on track. The sound is a little abrasive, so I don’t fall into the trap of getting too comfortable and getting distracted and it also doesn’t have too many words so my brain can focus on the words I’m trying to write!”

Matthew, Assistant News Editor: “I like listening to jazz while I study and do things. It fits the atmosphere very well especially since the weather is getting colder. Chet Baker is my go-to, otherwise I mostly exclusively play instrumentals. Another favorite is the artist Sewerslvt, who is retired now but she has a wide array of electronic music. It ranges from really hyper to slow and melancholic. For me, this music is mainly for writing while jazz is for studying!”

Stefano, Assistant Music Editor: “When it comes to studying, I either opt for specific albums and playlists or no music at all. Benny the Butcher’s Tana Talk 3 (2018) has always been a go-to for me due to its simplicity. The album is mostly boom-bap beats with a minimalist, nocturnal, and airy sound. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist is another example: at only 10 tracks and 35 minutes, it creates an entrancing, moody atmosphere—thanks to a combination of jazzy, soulful instrumentals and grittier boom-bap inspired ones. This explains why I also listen to The Alchemist’s instrumentals to study: the genres in these instrumentals are soothing, relaxing, and even hypnotic when looped into a full beat. The cohesive mood and setting created in these projects also makes them optimal for full listens since the slow-tempo and groovy qualities are calming, which allows me to focus. I use headphones very often, although sometimes I tend to let my vinyl collection just spin in the background. Plus, getting up to change the records helps put little breaks in between my studying, creating intervals (which is often recommended by professors & professionals).”

Mackenzie, Copy Editor: “Normally, if I’m in a noisy and busy environment, I’ll prefer to put on music in my AirPods with noise cancellation. Music is always better than the buzzing of activity for my concentration. I’ll choose either a lo-fi comfort playlist or my Autumn Vibes playlist, which currently consists mainly of indie folk songs. However, the music I pick for studying always has to be very familiar to me to avoid me getting irritated by unknown sounds and lyrics. If I’m home and it’s relatively silent, I usually stick to the silence. I feel that adding music in this situation only makes it harder to focus and I spend more time choosing music than actually working. If I do decide to put on music in a quiet place, I prefer instrumental lo-fi playlists that I’ve precurated. I used to always have music playing when I studied in high school or cégep, but university made me a bit more tired and overstimulated, hence the newfound pickiness.”

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.”

Music Quickspins

Quickspins: Olivia Rodrigo — GUTS

On her sophomore album, the pop princess rocks out and reflects.

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR was accompanied by one of the speediest, meteoric rises to pop superstardom in recent memory. Her breakup ballad “drivers license” blew up on arrival, debuting and remaining at #1 on the Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks. She earned a second chart-topper with the pop-punk hit “good 4 u,” and would go on to win three Grammy awards for the album. 

Her sophomore record GUTS takes cues from the winning formula on SOUR, bringing its style and writing to new heights. With an increased rock flair and equally captivating songs, GUTS is poised for as much success as its predecessor, if not more. The writing on GUTS shines as it successfully explores its overarching theme of relationships and breakups from different avenues, while also differing in tone from one track to another. 

“bad idea right?” and “get him back!” are tongue-in-cheek tracks where the popstar contemplates getting back with her ex. On the latter, she playfully sings about wanting “to meet his mom, and tell her her son sucks,” playing off the song’s double meaning of revenge and reconciliation. “pretty isn’t pretty” is a standout that describes the incessant insecurity that results from chasing unrealistic beauty standards and the sinking feeling of realizing that they cannot be reached. “lacy” reads like a love-hate letter from the singer to a figurative woman where she blurs the line between complimenting and envying Lacy’s character. 

Other tracks include select lyrics that perfectly capture their song’s essence. “It takes strength to forgive, but I don’t feel strong” is a poignant lyric on “the grudge” that perfectly embodies the exhaustion that results from manipulation in a relationship. 

GUTS leans into the pop-rock and pop-punk sound far more than SOUR, and its tracks are all filled with driving, groovy basslines, and roaring electric guitars. The pop-punk groove, drums, and guitar licks on “bad idea right?” are addictive, and “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “get him back!” are high-energy pop-rock jams. 

On the other hand, less is more for some of the album’s ballads. Softer tracks like “lacy” and “logical” feature minimalist production consisting almost solely of soft guitars or somber pianos. The album also has great pacing, with songs like “all-american bitch” and “vampire” starting off slow and building towards explosive rock passages, including both styles within the same song—the latter even being a continuous crescendo across its nearly four-minute runtime.

Rodrigo’s vocal performances are commendable on the album. Her rock performances are shouted, energetic, and in-your-face, whereas her balladry is soft-spoken and passionate. “get him back!” features a standout, anthemic hook that is reminiscent of Joan Jett. The outro “teenage dream” also excels at both: Rodrigo’s falsetto repetitions of “it gets better” feel like a warm hug of reassurance, before the track collapses into a rock release as she cathartically ponders “what if it don’t?”  She also often layers soft, angel-like vocal lines and “ahhh’s” behind her lyrics, harmonies that add lots of colour to the verses they lie beneath (as best done on “bad idea right?” and “vampire”). 

This combination of varied writing, vocal performances and styles, and production is what makes GUTS such an enjoyable record. No matter how brazen or blissful the songs are, Rodrigo’s writing is raw and relatable, her performances are passionate, and the production is the perfect palette to soundtrack it all. GUTS is filled with energetic hits and captivating ballads, and many of its tracks showcase the potential to reach the same chart-topping heights that “vampire” already has.

Trial track: vampire 

Score: 8/10


Students vs. Spotify

The platform increased its monthly rate amidst the absence of a student discount in Quebec

Remember watching Disney Channel as a kid? Can you recall the feeling of excitement that came with the idea of winning sweepstakes and getting to meet your favourite TV star, only for the offer to be “not valid in Quebec.” For Spotify users in the province, the disappointment is the exact same.

For many years now, Spotify’s student discount has not been offered in Quebec. The province’s Consumer Protection Act prohibits companies from automatically charging for services at regular price once a free trial or discounted period has ended—for which Spotify faced a class-action lawsuit in 2017 before the Superior Court of Quebec.

Quebec is notably the only province in Canada that does not accommodate the discount. On SheerID, Spotify’s student verification system, no Quebec institutions can be selected from their directory. However, these same schools can be found on UNiDAYS, the site used by Apple Music. Students can thus access the same discount for the same price, just on a different streaming platform.

Minh Tu Chau, currently studying in the computer engineering co-op at Concordia, believes that the student discount should be available solely based on its widespread demand: “More people use Spotify than Bixi, but we [students] have a Bixi discount.” He also sees Spotify as a cornerstone of student life: “So many people use it for studying.”

Some students have since found a workaround: selecting universities outside the province that are also named Concordia, such as the one in Edmonton. “Just send an acceptance letter or any other official Concordia document,” an anonymous student shared with The Concordian. Transcripts, schedules, offers of admission, and attestation letters—”anything with the word Concordia on it,” they added—all grant access to the student discount when uploaded through SheerID under another “Concordia University.”

Furthermore, throughout the month of August 2023, Spotify users have been greeted with a bright blue screen with news that is equally blue: starting in September, their subscription price will be increasing from $9.99 to $10.99 per month.

Many subscribers have expressed their dismay towards the change, but Tredy Delcar Méroné—a first year economics student—sees it as inevitable: “It’s their first time ever increasing their prices in 11 years.”

“It’s annoying that we have to do all this just to have discounted Spotify,” Delcar Méroné said, which is just about the general consensus around the Spotify-student situation in Quebec.


How Far Will You Go?

Concordia students share the lengths they have gone to attend the year’s biggest concerts.

This summer, pop superstars took the world by storm by concurrently embarking on international tours. With Taylor Swift and The Weeknd breaking records every week, their concerts have been flooding social media feeds for months.

However, none of these tours included any stops in Montreal. For Concordia students, this meant catching these shows would have been impossible without travelling considerably long distances. The Concordian spoke with some of the students who went the extra mile (thousands, even) to see these shows and asked about their experiences.

7000 kilometres for Harry Styles

After Harry Styles’ 2021 Montreal show was cancelled, second-year psychology student Samantha Vizzi decided she had finally had enough: “I took this opportunity to see him as many times as I could,” Vizzi said. Since last summer, she has put in 27 hours and 7700 kilometres of travel by bus, train, and flight to catch Love on Tour three times. Harry Styles waved at her on her birthday during his New York show, and she attended the tour’s final show in Italy.

Maria Luisa Velez, a second-year communications student, also caught Love on Tour last year in New York, flying in from Colombia. She explains that sometimes, travelling for a show is the easier solution: “They don’t do tours there [certain cities] or they only have a few dates available, which makes it harder to get tickets.”

5,500 kilometres for Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour

Alexandre Jevans Silva —also in his second year in communications— credits his home country France with helping him secure tickets to see Beyoncé in Paris: “I would not have been able to get Club Renaissance tickets anywhere else” In France, Ticketmaster uses a first-come, first-serve system instead of verified fan presales. His €500 seats in Paris cost $1000 CAD in Toronto. He especially cherishes having made the trip home due to the “special feeling of wanting to see your city represent and be the loudest” (or for Beyoncé, the quietest).

The Eras Tour: turning dreams into reality

Daniela Orrego-Grosso, a first-year economics student, is seeing Taylor Swift in Toronto next fall alongside her cousin, who is joining her all the way from Peru. The two share childhood memories of listening to Swift’s albums and dancing together. “My cousin didn’t hesitate to come, even if it meant lots of paperwork to get a Canadian Visa.”

For these students, travelling was not an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to create more memories beyond the shows.

Music Quickspins


The ASTROWORLD follow-up is filled with psychedelic hip-hop that is ambitious, eclectic, and exciting.

UTOPIA’s opener “HYAENA” begins with a robotic vocal sample that is both inviting and confusing. What follows is Travis Scott dominating over a knocking drum break and an addictive harpsichord loop, making for a song that is frantic yet exciting. The track is unlike most of Scott’s existing catalogue, and even sticks out from what follows on the album.

UTOPIA stands out due to its unique instrumental palette, one that spans different subgenres, sounds, and moods. You can find standard hip-hop/trap production on cuts like “MELTDOWN,” “I KNOW ?,” and “TOPIA TWINS.” “SIRENS” contains triumphant drums reminiscent of Brazilian funk, while “DELRESTO (ECHOES),” “LOOOVE,” and “K-POP” are danceable tracks influenced by house music, dancehall, and Afrobeats. 

The production on the album also features synth passages (courtesy of Mike Dean), beat switches, and melodic intricacies that elevate the tracks and allow them to evolve as they progress. Key examples are the beat switch-up on “THANK GOD” and the glimmering synths after the hook on “FE!N.” 

Kanye West’s influence is another instrumental force behind the album’s sound. Scott’s flows on “MODERN JAM” are reminiscent of Yeezus cuts “On Sight” and “I Am a God,” whereas the instrumental and delivery on “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” are similar to “Black Skinhead.” Meanwhile, “THANK GOD,” “GOD’S COUNTRY,” and “TELEKINESIS” are finished versions of demos recorded during the 2020-21 sessions for Ye’s Donda album. 

UTOPIA also features noteworthy tracks characterized by an ambient and mellow sound like “TELEKINESIS” and “MY EYES.”. The latter is a standout that begins with a slow, lullaby-like tune before accelerating into a starry trap beat so ethereal it could be the Rainbow Road theme. The track also showcases Scott’s ability to give captivating performances, as he croons softly in the first half and raps with a nonstop, speedy delivery for over a minute once the beat switches. 

For most of his rapping on the album, Scott finds pockets within the instrumentals that complement the beats and sticks to them, resulting in verses and hooks that are engaging and easy to follow. “I KNOW ?” and “TOPIA TWINS” are a back-to-back offering of catchy, earworm choruses—some of the record’s best.

Much like its predecessors, UTOPIA has a hefty list of features. Standouts include Playboi Carti debuting a new deep voice on “FE!N,” Teezo Touchdown’s bold and eccentric belting on “MODERN JAM,” and SZA’s angelic entrance onto the already heavenly “TELEKINESIS.” 

Travis Scott has brought on everyone from A-listers to newcomers and underground legends, including the likes of Drake, Beyoncé, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Bad Bunny, Future, Westside Gunn, Rob49, Yung Lean, and more into one lineup. With all the features hidden before release, the first listen comes as a pleasant surprise. 

With UTOPIA, Travis Scott defies the expectations of what this ideal reality can be, delivering an album filled with dark, varied production, stylistic switch-ups, and high-profile surprise guests hiding around every corner. It is fitting that the outro “TILL FURTHER NOTICE” is a perfect marriage of these elements: verses from Travis Scott and 21 Savage, a dark Metro Boomin beat, and a haunting James Blake feature creating a beautifully eerie, atmospheric, and star-studded track.

Trial Track: “MY EYES”

Score: 8/10

Festival Review Music

My first experience at a Music Festival in Europe

After booking my escapade in Europe this summer to mainly visit family, I stumbled upon the lineup for the twentieth edition of Primavera Sound (PS) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The music festival’s main weekend took place from June 1 until June 3 which perfectly fit at the start of my trip. 

I try to attend at least one big music event each year, especially during the summertime, hence I felt no hesitation before booking the three-day-long festival, being fully aware that I’d be going solo to an event starting only two days after landing in a country I had never stepped foot in. 

One of the decisive factors for me was the lineup. It included artists I had been listening to for years, and even the artists had become very fond of quite recently. The festival started at 4 p.m. and the last sets finished at 6 a.m., following the same schedule every day.  Being relatively sleep deprived is one thing, but standing up for the majority of those 14 hours while constantly hearing music through humongous speakers is another— and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

My most memorable performance was by NxWorries, the duo made out of record producer Knxwledge and recording artist Anderson .Paak.  I was near the barricades and got the chance to get on the stage during one of my favourite songs off their 2016 album Yes Lawd! titled “Link Up.” 

It was pretty surreal but for some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. I had an absolute blast dancing with everyone and singing whilst interacting with the crowd. The most unexpected interaction happened when I was in the food court at 3 a.m. on the third day, and a stranger came up to me because she had recognized me from the show. She then airdropped me footage from the performance… the world is too small sometimes. 

Definitive highlights from other performances I attended started with the musical duo Jockstrap’s energetic and experimental set. Georgia Ellery pulling out a violin to play on top of the track “Concrete Over Water” was too awesome of a sight before Taylor Skye pulled out a water blaster to the crowd. Moments after, a remix of the theme song from the show Succession played. Despite the song having nothing to do with the band, the crowd got ecstatic due to its extreme popularity. 

Kendrick Lamar — also a headliner at Osheaga — had everyone shouting his name and lyrics even before the large-scaled canvas unveiled behind him. This impressive painted backdrop accompanied Lamar throughout the coverage of his music catalogue from Section.80 up until Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. His cousin Baby Keem also hopped on stage to perform their infamous “Family Ties” and other tracks, making the energy even hotter than the actual fire rising up by the stage.

Singer and rapper Channel Tres’ performance was overflowing with grooviness, made even better with witty and calculated dance moves. Listening to his song “6am” almost at 6 a.m. was so much fun to say the least, and he couldn’t believe people were still out and about for his set at that time. JPEGMAFIA, an American artist that’s collaborated with Tres, made a similar comment about how ridiculous and awesome it was to play at 4 a.m. the next day. 

It isn’t surprising that American artists aren’t used to PS’s different schedule. Osheaga, for instance, ended around 10:30 p.m. — just about the time some folks at PS Barcelona would start showing up. The earlier curfew of cities in North America completely shifts the magnitude that a music festival could ever become, counting less artists to begin with. 

Seeing Rosalía perform her album Motomami in her hometown was also very special. She rallied a wide variety of fans (the Spanish ones being more than passionate and not letting anyone squeeze their way in any closer).

Talking about the audience, it seemed like the entirety of Europe came to Barcelona for this weekend. Locals as well as Canadians and Americans were in attendance so I heard an extensive range of languages when passing by foreigners. 

The Concordian’s Assistant Music Editor and fellow student, Stefano Rebuli, attended this year’s sixteenth edition of Osheaga and recalls there being a lot of traffic from stage to stage. Getting around between the two main stages was tricky due to clashing crowds entering and exiting between two consecutive performances. 

“It left everyone packed and nearly caused a crowd crush between Kim Petras and Kendrick Lamar’s sets on Sunday. Everyone tried to get forward, but nobody was allowed in for a good 30+ minutes,” Rebuli said. As for PS, the crowds seemed to always be mobile which made getting in and exiting smooth. Getting home after the shows is another story— whether it be Montréal or Barcelona, the metro is a hot spot for waiting and waiting behind a stagnant crowd.

The security at Osheaga could have been “much more rigorous” according to Rebuli. His friend had a glasses case which was left unchecked, which means he probably could’ve snuck anything inside. PS’s security also let me in quite easily, with a filled water bottle in my pocket which they didn’t check. 

Moving on to some numbers, PS in Barcelona held 16 stages whereas Osheaga counts 5 across its site. Both are near the water, but PS is impressive with its clear views of the sea. In terms of prices, however, it’s expected that the food or beverages aren’t affordable at any festival.

I brought some granola bars to keep my food purchases low but on my second night I had to have actual food so I ended up spending about $15 for a burger. Osheaga charged $13.75 for a poutine, tax included (taxes not being something to consider in Spain was pleasant at least). For beer however, I spent about $7 for a regular sized cup at PS, whereas Osheaga charged around $10.  

From an artist cancelling their set last minute to discovering a new favourite song at a random show you decided to check out, music festivals are a chance to fully immerse yourself with passionate people all day— or all night. Whether in my own city or overseas, music in a festival setting has proved itself to be a driving force for a boisterous time.

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.”


Best-loved summer songs from our staff

Check out The Concordian’s music picks from this summertime! 

Summertime is notorious for celebration across the board and for a lot of us, it is an opportunity to travel outside of our year-long cocoon of a city. It involves new soundscapes to accompany us through places we’re heading to and in the midst of discovering them, it reminds us of people we’ve carved new relationships with or even briefly encountered. Music is a natural attachment through and through, acting like a time capsule to specific feelings and slices of life. Whether you spent your entire day at the beach in some European town, stayed in your neighbourhood to run important errands, or hung out at a park in Montreal with your friends, I’m sure we all had music in some proximity this season. Here is a list from some of our staff members sharing a piece of how music came into their summer window and what it means to them— and potentially you.

Dalia Nardolillo – Editor-in-Chief“Dance the Night” by Dua Lipa (2023)
This is going to sound super corny but this song was the highlight of my summer. I worked at Lush this past summer and we recently released the Barbie collection. My coworker Michel blasted this song throughout the store and we would just have a party in the middle of the day. It was the best time I’ve ever spent at a summer job.
Lucas Marsh – Managing Editor“I’m Just Ken: from the Barbie Soundtrack” by Ryan Gosling (2023)
Sticking with the Barbie Theme, if there is one song that I will associate this summer with it’s gotta be “I’m just Ken.” I got to see the premier of the Barbie movie while I was in Athens. When we got to the part in the movie when this song started to play, a group of elderly Greek men sitting around me started to sway and dance in their seats, overcome by the song. 
Mackenzie Sanche – Copy Editor“New Perspective” by Noah Kahan (2023)
This was my go-to song this summer for long windows-down drives on a beautiful sunny day. I love the feeling of freedom it gives me to process nostalgia, how fast time goes and how things change, while also accepting that it’s a good thing.
Carleen Loney – Graphics Editor“Self Care” by Mïrändä (2021)
An absolute bop! Poppy, vibrant, and sweet, this song is all about slowing down the pace of your life. For me, my summer was a weird blend of high-stress-constantly-busy-workaholic-central so I needed a reminder to take a breath and just lay in the sun. Never feel bad about taking care of yourself!!
Casey Kiss – Opinions Editor“Timeless (Taylor’s version) (From the vault)” by Taylor Swift (2023)
As a big Taylor Swift fan, I kept up with her tour, album announcements and releases this summer. This was also the first album release my boyfriend got to experience with me and listening to this one got me a little teary-eyed. Itinstantly became a new favourite.
Emma Megelas – Co-News Editor“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams (1984)
I traveled to Ogunquit, Maine this summer as I’ve done every year since I was young. My mom went there for the first time when she was my age and every time we’d hear this song on the radio, it reminded her of summers in Ogunquit. She dragged me down the rabbit hole of 80s songs and I got hooked on this one from the start. Now every time I think about Ogunquit, I play this song.
Stefano Rebuli – Assistant Music Editor “Sprinter” by Dave & Central Cee (2023)
From the moment this song dropped on June 1, I loved it and had it on loop for hours. I left for the UK a month later and the song was in constant rotation throughout my trip (both rappers are British). It not only played during the day at Wireless Festival, but I also got to see Central Cee perform it at Osheaga, which further cemented it as my song of the summer.
Tabéa Benlakehal – Music Editor “Sasaci Pererê” by Jorge Ben (1986)
One of my core moments was spending time with my Brazilian friend in Portugal and notably exchanging with the big Brazilian community there. I am very fond of Brazilian funk (also called funk carioca from its emergence within the favelas in Rio) and MPB so I overplayed the genre a lot— especially this song shared to me by um brasileiro at a hostel. 
Music Quickspins

 QUICKSPINS: Plastic Eternity – Mudhoney

 One of Seattle’s greats proves they’ve still got it.

Mudhoney, one of Seattle’s last alternative strongholds from the late ’80s/’90s, just released a concept album entitled Plastic Eternity on what they most like to talk about in their album: issues like pollution and fascist ideologies, and the political commentary that comes with it.

Plastic Eternity marks their 15th studio LP, which is no mean feat, especially for bands from that era. Clearly, vocalist Mark Arm still has serious topics to tackle in their songs. He starts off the album by yelling “Everyone tells me it’s nice to have me back,” which is completely true for those who love the ’90s. 

Staying true to the name, the album starts off with “Souvenir of My Trip,” which sounds like quite the trip. If you got Curtis Mayfield bongo funk and Dry Cell nu metal together in a studio, that’s what the instrumental sounds like on the second track. Then add Mark Arm’s psychonaut, spacey vocals and you have “Almost Everything” it takes to make a psychedelic song that even Hunter S. Thompson would appreciate. In fact, I think he would play this entire album on repeat. 

The instrumental in “Cascades of Crap” puts you in the middle of a desert. A Mad Max-esque desert, to be precise. The lyrics, however, depict the social satire that Gen Z wants. They are their own political commentators in this concept album. 

One of my favorite songs from this album was “Plasticity.” I mainly enjoyed the intro with the vocoder, that was followed by guitars and synths galore. The whole song consists of the singer naming plastic objects, not unlike Kanye in “All of the Lights.” Another song that I appreciated a lot was “Flush the Fascists,” because it’s another song whose title and lyrics feed into the political commentary that Arm sets as a solid precedent. The song depicts the band’s desire to rid society of fascists, or rather “flush ‘em down.” This is very much solidified when Arm describes them as “teeth that are rotten to the core,” needing to be pulled out.   

The song “Severed Dreams in the Sleeper Cell,” especially the chorus, sounds like a satirical answer to Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up,” which was coincidently used in the movie “The Matrix.” Where Zack de la Rocha (RATM vocalist) belts “WAKE UP,” Arm sings “We don’t wanna wake up now,” attempting to convey the message that people don’t want to get out of their day-to-day rat race.

Also, move over Justin Timberlake, Mudhoney is here. Where “Cry Me a River” is a tale depicting Timberlake’s unsuccessful relationship with Britney Spears, the Mudhoney track “Cry Me An Atmospheric River” boasts a manic Arm taking the persona of the weather on Earth who cares not “what happens to humans.” 

While the album isn’t bad, I feel like there is a quantity-over-quality issue here. Songs like “Human Stock Capital” and “Tom Herman’s Hermits” could’ve been killed off the tracklist and put in a vault for B-side releases. 

The other songs, such as “Flush the Fascists” and “Move Under,” give a hint of what the band feels towards our society. Yes, it is true that you can’t go into too much detail when singing about a pressing topic. However, the runtime of Mudhoney’s songs on this record are shorter in comparison to other alternative bands, and even compared to their own older hits like “Touch Me I’m Sick” and “Suck You Dry.” Overall, listen to your discretion if you want to hear old ’90s Seattle drug-infested-port-city mavericks rage against our society.   

Trial Track: “Almost Everything”

Score: 6.5/10

Concert Reviews Music

Festival Review: FungeonFest 2023

 “A safe space and the place to be.”

On March 18 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the underground (literally!) hidden gem in Mile End, The Fungeon held its first-ever festival, appropriately named Fungeon Fest. The DIY festival delivered 12 hours of indie/indie-rock performances from various bands, like Toronto’s John’s Cottage and Montreal’s Hole in Heaven, among many others.

Leading down to the fabled stage in the basement stood a room next door, decorated ceiling-to-tile with the various bands’ merch booths on one side and on the other, handmade art from talented independent sellers such as Muskoka’s lovable mother-and-son duo The Hippie Pocket, or Montreal’s Low Life High Road, and others. 

Due to the occasion, the customary basement-reserved venue was flowing through the entire apartment. It started with the regular lively gaggle of strangers and friends alike, smoking, talking, and laughing outside the back door, moving to the ticket setup in the kitchen and the temporarily empty living room, bathed in soft pink lighting along with host Morleigh Mo Ida Smith’s spellbinding visual art. The magic then moved into the previously mentioned art and band merch seller’s room, and then finally to the illusive star of the show, the basement. 

With a handwritten setlist crowning the entrance, the underground venue glowed. Multi Coloured Christmas lights on one pillar, twinkling fairy lights on the other, bright blue light projections in the corner, dining chairs neatly lining the back wall, and even more decorative art pieces graced the concrete walls of the unfinished room. As the night went on, more and more festival-goers passed through this local haven. The crowd consisted of city locals, non-locals, artists and art enthusiasts of all ages, genders, sub-cultures and walks of life. Everyone stood present under the basement’s tapestry-adorned ceiling. They were watching, listening, and occasionally headbanging to the earnest music of the artists in front of them. By 10:30 p.m., the night was coming to a close, and one last performance remained: The Fungeon’s very own host and owner Joe Cassis. 

Cassis moved to Montreal from his hometown of London, Ontario six years ago. He moved into The Fungeon’s address a few years later with his ex-fiancé and her two children. The Fungeon had come to life through the now-separated couple’s desire to remain in the local music scene while still staying at home with the children. Eventually, The Fungeon as we know it formally opened its basement doors for the first time on June 18, 2022, and has been making a melodious name for itself ever since.  Cassis describes the venue as a “safe space for people to f—ing play” and a beacon for others to make their own statements.  

Before beginning his set, Cassis gave a very humble thank you to the crowd that had gathered in his warm and welcoming basement. He then gave a deeply captivating performance of unplugged, raw, self-written songs, with the exception of “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Harry Nilsson which was performed in honour of his late father.

When detailing the Fungeon Fest, Cassis recounted crying in the arms of John’s Cottage lead singer Max, as they performed one of their more emotional songs. “That’s the thing about these bands being so genuine to themselves is that they have the potential to save people’s lives and the lives they’ll save the most is the kids,” he explained. “That’s what these bands are perpetuating. That it’s a safe space and the place to be.”

Graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws

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