RAVE’IN transcends music

This weekend’s virtual techno event is also a fundraiser for local non-profit, Le Chaînon.

This Saturday’s RAVE’IN event is about more than just music. With an all-women lineup, the event aims to draw awareness to femicide and raise donations for Le Chaînon, a Montreal-based non-profit organization that helps women in difficult situations, such as domestic violence, addiction and poverty.

Event organizer Léopoldine, was an exchange student from Paris at Concordia University during the 2019 winter semester. She had originally planned for the event to be a French culture night to share the musical culture of Île-de-France. She then partnered with OCTOV, a Montreal techno music collective that was established in 2014, in order to bring this event to fruition.

As an exchange student in Montreal, Léopoldine wanted the event to be a way to share her love of the Île-de-France region.

“At first I didn’t really go out of the city that much, but it’s my passion for music that pushed me to outside the city because there were more interesting and innovative and cheaper music venues in the outskirts of Paris,” said Léopoldine.

This event was originally intended to be held at Reggie’s, Concordia’s on-campus student-run bar, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down.

“This is a feminist event for charity. Truth is that this wasn’t what I originally had planned for my event,” she added. “At first, it was supposed to be a French night for students, by students for the IDF (Île-de-France) French music, but coronavirus made me rethink my approach to this event, I realized I could still do it with a live stream.”

However, one impact of the pandemic had a profound influence on Léopoldine and changed the goal of the event.

“I was really touched when I heard about the rise of domestic violence with the lockdown. That’s when I thought of making it for charity so I looked up associations that were doing work in this field and that’s when I found Le Chaînon.”

Léopoldine eventually sought out further ways to involve women in her ideal event.

“My project was taking form, I knew it was going to be a live stream, for charity for women. So logically I wanted to get other women involved. To make it empowering and uplifting. That was the vibe I was going for,” said Léopoldine. “BitterCaress was the first DJ I reached out to for this event. She encouraged me in this direction.”

Camille Bernard, better known as BitterCaress, is a Montreal-based DJ who was born in Paris. She sees techno music as a gateway to change.

“By starting to mix, I wanted to be able to express my opinion on various current issues that affect us from near and far. I sincerely believe that through art and specifically music, we can aspire to build a better world, make our audience think about certain important social issues and thus, help raise awareness and change attitudes,” said Bernard.

Bernard’s SoundCloud podcast, Mixing For a Cause, features a variety of episodes addressing topics such as violence against women, homophobia and arguments for pro-choice.

As of April 2020, Bernard rejoined OCTOV as a resident DJ following two years of sporadic collaboration with them.

“The techno world has anti-oppression values at heart, advocates open-mindedness, respect for others and for difference … However, despite the growing number of DJs, the integration of women is not always easy in this predominantly male environment … It’s not easy being a woman in this environment.”

Bernard added that “There is still a delay to catch up to achieve parity. In our community, curiosity must be nurtured every day, it is important to follow the development of emerging female DJs. We are all the actors and leaders of change in our local scene.”

When it comes to encouraging female artists, Bernard is not shy.

“With [the RAVE’IN event], I hope that we can show women who want to get involved within the techno scene that it is possible to become an agent of change and do something on their own scale.”

Bernard also added that this event will serve as an example, “To continue uplifting women’s voices in music, we should help women to express themselves without being afraid of being ‘too loud’ and continue making women more visible.”

When asked about what the future holds for events she plans to organize, Léopoldine said, “We’re in talks for making more live streams in the same line as this one. We have people reaching out saying they like what we’re doing and we have other artists wanting to play. I think it has a lot of potential. OCTOV and I would obviously love to go back to having events in public but we’ll keep to livestreams for now.”

With the event coming up soon, Léopoldine is looking forward to hearing the music by the two DJs, BitterCarres, and FAAST, accompanied by two visual artists, Rozetta and QUINT.“You can be sure that Saturday I’ll be in my living room with my speakers as high as my neighbours will tolerate it. I’ll be enjoying myself.”

The event can be accessed here.


Techno and house with a Montreal touch

Marbré is ready to take over the city’s electronic music scene

At the end of a corridor, mimicking the atmosphere of the Paris catacombs, lasers are skimming through the room, creating an atmosphere blending visuals and sound draped in blue light. While Jean, also known under his stage name Salem, is behind the turntables for his first set, other members of Marbré are getting ready to take over the set until 3 a.m.

But before becoming a music collective, these young men were primarily a group of friends. Hector, Jean, Pierre, Benjamin, Jules, Simons, Lucas, Ezer, and Nico, who wish to remain anonymous as part of their collective image, all share a passion for electronic music that pushed them to form Marbré in September of 2019.

The eight McGill students created Marbré with the main goal being to democratize all aspects of electronic music through their passion for mixing. “We are on a large spectrum of electronic music; listening to different styles,” said Jean, who is in charge of communications. “We can give the people a taste of all the other genres that exist.”

“That’s what we are trying to do in our sets, to transfer from techno, to tech-house, to deep-house,” said Lucas, the graphic designer of the collective. “To gather as many genres as possible.” They demystify what is happening behind the turntables and shed light on the creative process behind DJing.

The collective found a frenetic audience at both of their house-style shows that promises them a bright future. “We have to learn how to control the energy we get as this project begins,” said Nico, one of Marbré’s DJs. “The hype that we got from the night at the Belmont was not expected.”

Yet, the success of their performances does not seem to trouble the members of Marbré. “We need to stay in contact with reality, keep our feet on the ground, our hands on the plates,” said Lucas, with a laugh.

On Jan. 23 at the Velvet-Auberge St-Gabriel, Marbré had their first show as La Marbre, the name used to distinguish their techno performances. “The idea was to develop something that was more tech,” said Hector. “To continue the big house events that everyone loves but also to develop a more techno branch—something deeper.”

La Marbre will also allow them to incorporate visuals and VJing, starting with the lasers at the Velvet, which is more adapted to techno music.

Electronic music has a whole community, mostly based on SoundCloud, who come together to “dig” and share their favourite tracks. Artists dig tracks that they intend to analyze up to the last beat to use them during their performances.

“Mixing is about knowing your tracks,” said Pierre, another of the group’s DJs. “You have to listen to a track again and again to know what comes next. If you had cut the treble when a voice comes in, you’re fucked!”

According to all the members of the collective, this aspect of DJing is crucial to a set: they all talk about their hours of digging to find the “gem,” as they call it.

“Groups like Chasse et Pêche, Kizi Garden and Turning Point paved the way for us,” Pierre said. “Here in Montreal, we can really do whatever we want. There is a saturation in larger markets that makes it more professional.” The scene allows them to express their diverse style and have complete freedom in their sets.

Their upcoming performance on Feb.13 will be the next chapter of La Marbre at the Velvet, further exploring the darker musical side of the collective.     


Photo courtesy of Ezer Berdugo

Student Life

Dancing our way to safety with PLURI

Nightclubs are beginning to address the sexual harassment marginalized groups experience

Suppose you want to have a fun night out with a group of friends, but you’re not a cisgender, heterosexual male. Of course, bartenders are usually apt to thwarting suspicious behaviour, and venues often have bouncers or security for when dodgy situations escalate. Nonetheless, for marginalized groups—namely the LGBTQ+ community, women of colour (WoC) and cisgender women—a night out typically entails a mixture of catcalling, verbal harassment, non-consensual physical interactions, and, in too many cases, sexual assault.

In 2017, just under 30,000 sexual assault cases in Canada were reported to the police, according to a StatsCan report released in July. Of those cases, almost 4,000 were deemed unfounded, meaning “police determined that no crime had taken place,” reads the same report. The Conseil des Montréalaises released an opinion paper titled “Montreal, a Festive City for all Women: Security of Trans Women and Girls at Outdoor Events in Montreal.” It cites studies indicating that, in 2011, 47 per cent of women felt twice as nervous as men walking through their neighbourhoods at night, and 45 per cent of women avoid certain areas at night. These, and many other reports, cannot even begin to quantify the degree of sexualized violence marginalized communities experience and the number of unreported sexual assault cases.

Christopher Roberts, a Concordia student who enjoys Montreal’s nightlife, said they spent a lot of time at Bar Datcha, a popular cocktail nightclub on Avenue Laurier W., one block west of St-Laurent Blvd., one of Montreal’s popular nightlife strips. Datcha is a nightclub that recently partnered with PLURI, a non-profit organization aiming to reduce harassment on dance floors. Through integrated safety monitors visible by the yellow ‘Party Support’ label on their backs, or staff shirts from respective venues, PLURI volunteers are trying to make dance floors more enjoyable for everyone by intervening in harassment situations before they escalate.

PLURI, which stands for Peace Love Unity Respect Initiative, was co-founded by Éliane Thivierge and Celeste Pimm, alongside a small team of other volunteers, in August 2016. The non-profit offers a range of workshops for event organizers, bar staff, and aspiring volunteers that provide “training on how to recognize harassment, how certain systemic oppressions interact with party spaces and bystander intervention,” according to an interview with PLURI.

Party Support volunteers have been present at music festivals such as MUTEK, POP Montreal, Red Bull Music Festival, and Slut Island. PLURI explained that Party Support volunteers are the “middle [ground] between the event patron and security… They are points of contact that are more accessible and less intimidating than security.”

Bar Datcha, a popular cocktail nightclub on Avenue Laurier W., one block west of St-Laurent Blvd., one of Montreal’s popular nightlife strips. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Patrick Gregoire has been the manager of Datcha for the past four years. He said the venue has been working with PLURI’s dance floor safety monitors for over six months, despite only announcing their partnership just over a month ago. Gregoire explained that, at first, the Party Support volunteers were inconspicuous, and didn’t wear any labels that indicated their position. “But we felt that their work is best when people see someone on the dance floor with authority that isn’t security,” said Gregoire.

Roberts explained two instances, both occurring the same night at Datcha, which involved their friends experiencing sexual harassment to the point where bar staff and security intervened. “The wrong people found [their] way to [some] queer people […] and one was grabbing people, including my friend,” said Roberts. “I found a bartender to let them know the situation and, immediately, a bouncer kicked the guy out.” Roberts said the second incident involved a cis male harassing two of their queer friends and, when the situation escalated, Roberts “made eye contact with a bouncer who immediately dissolved the situation.”

Carla, a bartender at Datcha, said she’s very happy about the bar’s collaboration with PLURI. “It’s a plus having that extra team around,” she said. “And the fact that they’re all women—I love.”

Chris, another bartender at Datcha, said he’s been fortunate enough to “work [at] places where [they’ve] always had someone to deal with those issues.” Carla added that the Party Support volunteers try to educate people and deconstruct instances of harassment. “At the end of the night, the girls all sit down with security and the bouncers and go over what happened that night,” said Carla. “It’s really cool.”

Gregoire, as well as PLURI, emphasized the benefit of having initiatives like Party Support. “Before, these things wouldn’t get flagged until it was a problem,” said Gregoire. “[Volunteers] often end up checking in with people who are being harassed before they decide to reach out for help,” explained PLURI. The non-profit organization added that most patrons facing harassment will accept the support offered instead of tolerating these behaviours or removing themselves from the space.

Concordia journalism student and techno music enthusiast Erika Morris said that an initiative like PLURI “makes [her] feel better about these places recognizing an issue and trying to do something about it.” Security has been helpful at times by keeping their eyes on men who harass her, explained Morris. “Sure, it made me feel a bit safer that night, but the next time I went out, I had just as many chances of being harassed again,” she said. Marginalized communities—particularly queer folk—who experience harassment in public spaces, thus creating the need for these programs, “just reflects a higher societal problem,” added Morris.

“I think it’s cool that these people who are volunteers stay sober to try and help people,” said Morris. Roberts agreed that they feel PLURI and the Party Support initiative is an important step towards helping marginalized communities feel safe when they go out at night. “But in the end,” said Roberts, “there’s an overwash of sorrow that reminds our communities that we are being pushed into corners of spaces […]. [We] need more help than ever just to feel comfortable being with each other and ourselves for a night.”

Feature image by Alex Hutchins.


Montreal’s eclectic DJ: Amir Javasoul

The house DJ performed at Igloofest’s opening weekend

Igloofest brings thousands of people together to dance in the ice-cold winter to the beats of the world’s best DJs. The festival kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 12 and will be going on until Feb 19. On Saturday, Jan. 14, Amir Javasoul, a house DJ based in Montreal, closed the Videotron stage from 10 p.m. until midnight. His high energy techno beats kept the crowd warm throughout the night. The audience danced enthusiastically to his European style techno sounds until the very last minute. Javasoul has been Djing at Igloofest for the past 10 years and is known for performing at other festivals and clubs in the city, including Piknic Electronik and Stereo. “Igloofest is something unique. I can’t think of any other festival in the world that brings over 10,000 people to dance in the cold,” said Javasoul. According to the Igloofest website, 2016 welcomed 79,000 people to the festival, 25,000 of which attended the opening weekend last year.

A computer engineer by day and a renowned DJ by night, Javasoul began spinning vinyl 20 years ago. Growing up in Montreal, he started going to clubs which, he said sparked his passion for electronic music. “I just really liked the complexity of electronic music,” he said. “At the time, most people were listening to rock or pop. Techno and house was a new type of music that had endless possibilities.”

According to Javasoul, It was Derrick Carter, a legendary Chicago house DJ and producer, who first inspired him to take on the art of mastering house and electro beats. Javasoul said there are three cities that are important in house music: New York, Detroit and Chicago. New York house was a by-product of disco. Detroit experimented more with new technology and machinery—it was more industrial and techno-oriented. Chicago was in between, combining elements of house and techno.“Usually, people who started Djing back in the days, they connect to these original sounds. I connect most with Chicago house, ” said Javasoul.

Photo Courtesy of Amir Javasoul.

It can be easy to confuse house and techno music. “House music has a more organic sound to it. It derives from disco, and when you listen to a house track you hear more instruments, baselines and percussions,” said Javasoul. “Techno is much more linear. It is more industrialized and computerized.” According to Javasoul, today’s technology makes it easier to mix a lot of different sounds and genres together. “There is less of a need to distinguish between house and techno,” said Javasoul. “You can create a beat that has both elements combined. We can simply start to call all of it electronic music.” He said technology has also taken away the actual need to know how to mix records. Today, a computer software can do it all for you. “When I started, it was about mixing vinyl records together. You learned the real craft of mixing records,” said Javasoul.

Whether Javasoul plays at Igloofest for 10,000 people or at Stereo for 1000 people, he said he needs to adapt his music to the crowd’s ambiance. “I never plan in advance. It’s always on the fly,” he said. “I get there, I feel the crowd, I test some tracks here and there to see how the reaction goes. It’s always been an impulsive process.” He said his number one rule about Djing is to never program a set—it’s what makes electronic music different from all other genres of music. “You have the liberty of creating on stage. DJs can play live sets and create beats right on the spot,” said Javasoul.

In 2001, Javasoul moved to Paris, where his musical career bloomed. He got to try out his music with a completely different crowd and was able to gain experience Djing around Europe. “I got to play in many cities such as Paris, Berlin, London and Ibiza,” he said. “I was in France for 10 years and it was the most important years of my DJ career.” He played in renowned clubs such as Queen, Studio 287, The End, Ministry of Sound, Pacha Ibiza, Crystal Istanbul and Fabric.

Amir Javasoul Djing live in Fabric, London. Photo by Nick Ensing Photography.

In January 2015, Javasoul played in the main room of club Fabric in London alongside Craig Richards and Ricardo Villalobos who are both  renowned DJs in the underground scene. DJ Ricardo Villalobos also came to Montreal for the MUTEK festival in 2014. “Fabric was the most important gig of my life,” said Javasoul. “I played with the two best DJs in the world in one of the best clubs in the world.” Javasoul has also performed at the Burning Man festival and multiple times for Piknic Electronik. “Piknic Electronik and Igloofest organizers are the same crew. They love to showcase local and international talent and they find a good way to blend both together,” said Javasoul.

It’s Javasoul’s interaction with the audience and sharing his love for music that makes the experience of performing most worth it, he said.“The best part is when you get the reactions of the people you play for. Being an international DJ has also made me a lot of friends from around the world. You become friends because of the music and then your friendship grows” said Javasoul. Recently, Javasoul has been working on a collaboration called “Creatures of Habit” with DJ producer Maher Daniel. Together, they released a vinyl record last month. Stay tuned for Javasoul’s upcoming shows, where his house beats will send you running to the dance floor.

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