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Jojo Dacres #OneFlow

KNOWING:

When we speak of passion; passion regarding anything one deems worthy in life’s journey, we should also consider side-plating it with a fair helping of ‘drive’. I believe passion can become an emotionally void word unless there is decisive and consistent action expressed towards it. 

Katie Morley pursued her passion with vigor and constants. 

From a young age, Katie had the fortitude to envision a life filled with creativity & as a well known veteran of the live entertainment circuit, Katie has proven to peers & fans alike that she is the real deal. She is a triple threat in the music world with flowing talents in song, writing & musicianship.

This is Kate Morley’s FLOW:

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Who:

Katey Morley

What:

Singer-Songwriter

Where:

Canada

When:

So long ago! I started singing and banging on the piano when I was a toddler, and wrote my first song as after my first heartbreak, at about 14. Music- both listening and creating- has always been my obsession, my escape, my therapy- it occupies every layer of me.

Why:

It feels as necessary as eating or breathing. When I’m not making music, or at least listening to it regularly, I am at my most sad, unfulfilled. Writing is how I tell people I love them, or they’ve hurt me, or how I explain the world or difficult things to myself. Life gets complicated, and music is like an equation or formula for me to sort it out.

How:

I am a singer, first and foremost. I also write a lot of songs. I also play a bit of piano, autoharp and dulcimer, as a means to writing those songs.

One: 

By Definition: existing, acting, or considered as a single unit, entity, or individual,

being a particular, unique, or only individual, item, or unit.

Were you born in Canada and if so, in what neighborhood did you call your playground?

Yes! I grew up just north of Toronto. My parents were separated and I lived with them both, in two equally safe, lovely and boring towns, Thornhill and Markham.

Has a career in music always been at the forefront of your life’s vision?

Yes. Doesn’t every musical kid want to grow up to be a rock star? Reality kicked in in 2001 and I went back to school for design, which has been great, as it allowed me to get a grown up job. What I didn’t know–all those years struggling as a musician and DJ– is that if you’re lucky, you can have a day job AND pay your bills AND have enough left over to make an album! I’ve been taking music more seriously in the past 2 years because I can finally afford to. Almost.

Did you study music at any level of education? if not, what did you study and why?

I sang in the choir and studied music (trombone and voice) throughout high school. I had an amazing music teacher, Andy Rush, in middle school. He gave me my first solos, and treated me like a real musician, even though I was this super awkward, weird looking kid. In high school, I had another great teacher named Dawn Caswell, and my voice coach Elaine Overholt, who both really made me take my talent seriously and challenged me musically. I studied music in university, but I hated it. It was not the place for a vocalist, and I lost a lot of confidence there, surrounded by these brilliant young jazz students who knew ALL the chords, and ALL the theory. I kind of wilted there and would have died, but I left after 2 years to join my first rock band. You are a singer, songwriter, and musician. It takes a considerable amount of talent, balance and the ability to produce to accomplish what you have. Tell us a bit about each aspect and how it all came together for you. The singing always came easily, and the song writing sort off just spilled out, but I have never been confident in my skills as an instrumentalist. It took many years until I was brave enough to perform with an instrument, instead of just singing lead. Now I feel naked without an instrument in my hands! I still get a huge amount of stage fright and still fumble sometimes, but with each show, it gets easier.

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You also maintain a full-time job as a Visual Designer; a most often demanding position. How do you balance work and play, giving 100% of your energy to each?

I had to quit DJing to work a day job, but surprisingly, I have found that adulating does, in fact, leave enough time to go out and play or see music most nights. I try to go to bed by midnight on the weeknights, but it’s sometimes hard. I’m tired a lot, but it’s totally worth it! To quote another hardworking/playing Canadian musician: YOLO

Although you are always thinking creatively; in work and play, there must be times when you just want to do nothing at all. When you begin to tire while in the creative process what steps do you take to get your Mojo back, motivate and set you back on the creative path again?

Seeing great music live is the most effective. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a fantastically talented community of musicians here in Toronto that never cease to inspire me. When I’m really brain dead, and trying to write, I give myself creative writing challenges or pull out old songs to work on. If that doesn’t work, I hit the couch and watch a movie or an entire TV series.

Where do some of your inspirations come from? Musically or otherwise.

Whether it’s art/design or music, I have figured out that all of it comes from the same place, and it’s usually about the “story”. If I’m happy or sad about something, or angry, or worried, that’s what comes out in my work. Sometimes I give myself a topic if I’m feeling less inspired, for example: “today I’m going to write about that house fire we had a few years ago”. I don’t pressure myself– sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to dream a song, or have a whole line pop magically into my head on the bus. I think after so many years of listening to music so much, it just bubbles back out of me, unbidden. The music I listened to in high school has remained a part of my life and will always be my ‘go to’ for life’s movements and standstills. What kinds of music did you listen to in highschool and do you still listen to them even as your own musical talents develop?

There’s SO much! Ok, to name a few, from the high school era, only: Sinead O Connor, DeeeliteSoul II SoulSarah McLachlanU2The B-52sKate BushLed Zeppelin, The EurythmicsHarry Connick Jr., David BowieChris IsaakSarah VaughanCole PorterDepeche ModeSadePeter Gabriel…. These are the CDs you would have found in my Sony CD Walkman!!! And yes I do still listen to them, though some not so much anymore. I feel fortunate to have grown up in a time where pop radio was quite diverse.

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A well grounded artist usually has the backing and support of family and friends. What part does your family/friends play in your journey?

They play a HUGE part! My mom is the person to thank first, because she’s the one who the piano in the living room when she discovered I was musical, and made me take lessons. She bought me the best keyboard she could afford when I went away to school, and has been making a scrapbook of my accomplishments for 20+ years. She is the first person to listen to new mixes when I get them, and always has an opinion on them.

My dad is equally supportive, in a totally different way. He’s not much of a music guy, but he believes in me 100%, and my talent. He didn’t freak out when I left university to join a rock band, and when I told him I was going to spend a huge amount of money on making an album last year. He has never pressured me to get a “real” job, and has been known to “sneak” me money here and there over the years in order to allow me to keep being a musician.

My stepdad Fox exposed me to the best music. He was a huge music lover, and had a zillion albums. I was under strict instructions not to touch them, but then he’d leave key ones out when he wasn’t home, knowing I would. At least, that’s what I like to think he did. I inherited his collection and his ipod a few years ago when he passed away.

My partner Steve is also a musician, and the reason I made this album. He pulled me into a music community so vibrant and strong, and introduced me to Tom McKay, my producer, and basically demanded to know when I was making an album. I told him I’d been working on one for about 12 years, and he said, well time to finish it or make a new one. He helped me regain my confidence in myself, which was low after being out of music for a few years.

Finally, my Poppa, who passed away almost 3 years ago left me a little bit of money, and I decided to put it towards making this album. He was also a music lover, and I knew he’d understand. It’s the first time I’ve made my own album, though I’ve done tons of recording for other bands and session work. I like to think he’d be proud of me.

FLOW: 

By Definition: A mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. To move or progress freely as if in a stream.

How would you describe your music and how do you think it fairs against the many?

The older I get, the more I realize I’m not pop, although I have loved it forever, and I write pop melodies! I don’t think my tunes, or my “look” would ever have gotten me on pop radio. I’m more of a Ron Sexsmith, or a Bon Iver or a St. Vincent– someone a little more timeless, hopefully? It’s more of a folk-pop, with a hint of country/Americana and jazz. I get comparisons to Tori Amos, Linda RonstadtKaren Carpenter, Kate Bush, Alanis— all over the map.

The lyrics of most of your songs (in my opinion) are filled with emotional sentiment. Are your words, at all, a reflection of experiences you’ve had?

Usually, they are quite literally an experience I JUST had. That’s how I sort through my shit. But sometimes, like with Lady Cop, it comes from a dream or my imagination. But those times are very rare. I usually write when I am hurting, or really happy about something specific.

You’ve been a constant player in Toronto’s Music Scene for many years. How many years and list some of the venues you’ve played. Any favourites?

I played my first Toronto show at Sneaky Dees in about 1993. There are a lot of good venues in Toronto, and there are a handful of great ones. It’s a combination of a great stage, great gear, great sound-person and an audience who is there to hear music. Here’s my top ten:
Hugh’s Room
The Piston
The Painted Lady
The Music Gallery
The Burdock
Lee’s Palace
The Rex
Free Times
C’est What
The Dakota (technically, I haven’t played there yet, but I’m hoping to!)

Can you shed a little light on your creative process when it comes developing a song? Do the lyrics come first or does the composition of music come first?

It depends. Usually, a short line will pop into my head, with lyrics and a melody. For example, “Didn’t You” came to me on the bus, with the line “I’d rather be writing a love song about you”, so I sang it into my phone. When I got home that night, I laid some chords under it and tried to figure out what I was trying to say. Then the rest of the chorus came, and then I had to go back to the beginning and write the verses. Other times,  I’ll be fooling around with some chords on the piano or auto-harp, and a melody will just materialize. Then I have to go digging for a topic. Usually, there’s one not too far off!

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You just released your first album named ‘Now & Then’. Congrats again! Explain the vision behind this tender album.

Thank you! I had been writing a bunch of new songs and decided to record them with Tom and go for a Factor grant. When I got the grant, I realized it meant I could finish up some of the songs I’d been writing with my friend/producer Scott Currie for the lat 13+ years. He has a home studio with great equipment, and we had about 15 songs in various states of completion. I chose the best 5 and we finished them up, Hence “Now” and “Then”. They didn’t quite fit together as one album, but they work well as companion EPs.

Tell us about some of the obstacles you encountered with the self-production process of the ‘Now & Then album?

Money and time, mostly. It’s expensive, and it’s really hard work. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked on something, though it was also the most fun. Next, I’d say is knowing what to do with it when you’re done. I feel like I am botching the whole thing, sometimes, but I keep plugging away, hoping the right person will hear the tunes, or see me play, and that magic SOMETHING will happen…
Lastly, it’s the fear that you won’t do the songs justice, or you won’t know what you’re doing and get it all wrong. That fear went away as we got deeper in though. I feel a million times more confident now about my skills as an arranger, producer, instrumentalist, band leader, singer… it was an intense process!

Is there a song you’ve written that you identify with the most?

I have a new one called “Fits and Starts” that makes me cry a little every time I sing it, because the insecurity that inspired the song is always hiding around the corner. Also, Soon, from the “Then”  EP, which is hard to listen to because it’s about a friend who passed away.

Can you describe your audience? Who are your fans?

Seems to be from late 20’s to 60’s folks who like my voice and my stories. I seem to have a lot of musician fans, but that’s probably because they’re all friends. A bunch of good looking, friendly folks who should come to my next gig! ha-ha

Where would you like your creative journey to lead you?

I would like to place my music in tv/movies, and I think they are well suited for that; I’d like to write songs for a living; I’d like to go to Nashville or LA or any music city and collaborate with some established singers who need songs! I’d like to make a bunch more albums- I have so many songs that need to be recorded. I would even love to produce music for other people. I really enjoy it. I would enjoy some more radio play, on a larger scale.

Who are some of your favorite Canadian Artist inspirations?

Almost all of my faves are Canadian! Here’s another top 10:

Rose Cousins

City and Colour

Joni Mitchell

Ron Sexsmith

Rufus Wainwright

Sarah McLachlan

Marie Pierre Arthur

Feist

KD Lang

Alanis Morrisette

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You sing/play with a talented band named Percy Flight, headed by Steve York, another uber talented mainstay on the music scene. How did that collaboration come to be, how is it all going and what’s in the future for you and Steve’s band?

Oooh, Steve’s gonna be so embarrassed if he reads this: I saw Steve playing at a tribute night at The Piston and comically, clumsily, fell madly in love with him instantly. It took about a year to actually get the nerve to speak to him, and then miraculously, he fell in love with me too. Playing together started right away. I had learned a few of his songs from his “Into The Night” album and got him to play them for me one day, and I started harmonizing, and our voices had this magical blend. Now, we back each other up in our respective bands, and occasionally write tunes together. “Blood Red Moon” is a collaboration with him. He has an album coming out later this year, so we are both all over each other’s albums, too. Hopefully, this continues for a very long time!

Have you experimented with other genres of music and/or incorporated any in your work?

You name it- I have sung it. I love all music, and have done a lot of session work: reggae, funk, adult contemporary, gospel, jazz, triphop, country. I even had a club hit in 2002 on a friends’ track, called “Invading Privately” by Mach 747. It was released by Paul Oakenfold‘s label, Perfecto. That was exciting! Dance music is a huge part of who I am, though I never get to show that on stage, or in what I tend to record

You live in a pretty culturally eclectic part of the city. Do your experiences in the community influence or inspire your art?

Absolutely! I try and observe as much as I can everyday. It helps me in both my music and my art/design. There’s so much material to dig from, just from riding a bike across town, or getting on a bus. Also, living in a city with great clubs, galleries, museums, design shows makes it possible to thrive as an artist. I can’t imagine trying to do what I do in a town where there is no music/art scene.

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Music has a profound way of encouraging, enhancing and evoking the riches or despair of humanity. For every emotion, there is a song that translates. Which emotion/s do you want your audience to experience when listening to your music?

It’s not so much the particular emotion I seek, but when they tell me a certain song really meant something to them because of something they’ve gone through themselves, that’s when I feel like I’ve done a good job of connecting. Often I get told “that song made me cry” and it’s not that I want people to cry, but I do want them to connect to the music, so in a way, that feels good. Sorry! I just think about how I’ve connected to other people’s music, and times when music has made ME cry,  and I think, wow, if I had that effect on someone else, that is the ultimate compliment.
“Good writers spend a good amount of time reading.” Do you agree and what kind of literature are you most attracted to or inspires you?

Good question! Yes, I agree. I have been an avid reader my whole life, though I have noticed in the last few years I have been reading less, because I am never home, and also my eyesight is getting terrible! I prefer writing that is not flowery, that is poignant, and makes me think about what I have read for a long time afterward. Here is a top ten list for you:

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Margaret Atwood

Joseph Boyden

Roberson Davies

Larry Niven

Michael Ondaaje

Steven King

John Irving

Charles Bukowski

Sylvia Plath

What is your opinion of the Canadian Music Industry and its place on the world stage?

I think Canadian music is some of the best in the world. I might be biased, but I really don’t think I am! We have such high caliber of talent, great recording studios and producers. We have such diversity in our sounds, yet we often have an earnestness about our music that, to me, somehow feels so uniquely Canadian. I listen to a lot of music, from all over the world, but my favourites have remained Canadian musicians over the years. This is not just because I am Canadian. We are fortunate to have a great support with agencies like CAC, OACFactor (who helped fund Now/Then), and TAC. It makes a huge difference. I would like to see more support given to good artists, in more areas, and especially with figuring out how to get that support in the first place. I would also like more support given to venues who keep our music scene alive, and to small festivals and residencies that encourage communities to come together for culture.

Is there anything you would like to change within Canada’s music scene that you think would be beneficial to up and coming artists?

A lot of people complain about CanCon. I think it’s wonderful, in theory. Canadian radio stations have to play 35% or 40% Canadian Content, which is a great idea, and I’m sure has helped many artists in the past get heard! I just wish it meant we were hearing a more diverse selection of upcoming talent, not just more Celine Dion and Justin Bieber (no disrespect to my homies). I would love to fix that system so it does more of what it was intended to do. As I mentioned above, I would also like more support for musicians and venues. A city IS it’s culture, and we can’t afford to have our galleries and music venues closing down. Oh! And I would like more people to go to see live music. In the 90s when I was just starting out, a good night at a club was 100 people. Now it’s 30.

What advise can you dispel to live venue owners that you think would have a positive impact on production value for live acts in general?

Don’t skimp on gear. Don’t hire bad/mean sound people. Be kind to the musicians and pay them fairly. Feed them if you can. Create rooms for sound. Don’t- for the love of God- put giant tv’s in the same room as your stage. Or at least turn them off when someone is performing.

What advise can you provide for up & coming artists?

Perform as much as you can. Go to open Mics, meet other musicians, workshop your tunes. Connect! Practice! Shine! When you’re making an album, do it right. Don’t skimp on mixing and mastering, and HIRE someone to do marketing for you. Release it properly. Most importantly- please don’t try to sound like everyone else. Be YOU!
The last words are yours…..

THANK YOU JOJO!!! What a great interview! Thank you! So thorough and so thoughtful!

  My next gig is May 13th at The Painted Lady. We are releasing the “Noah” video. From 7-9:30pm

www.kateymorleymusic.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/now-ep/id1130226891 https://www.facebook.com/littlekatey

https://www.instagram.com/kateymorley

Know this……

Take a solid stance in your life’s endeavours because as you just read Katie is living testament to the developing success of the pursuit of happiness. As we breathe, walk, talk play, experience & grow, we journey through life with subjective hesitation but we must always continue to move forward. Forward with what makes you whole, with what makes you live with uninterrupted passion & drive. Forward march!

Thank you, Miss Katey, for sharing with us your abundance and love for what makes you whole. Continue to enjoy the journey and I’m looking forward to listening to more of your wonderful work.

 

 

 

Keeping it Real with Dj Misty Hill

If you have been out & about in Toronto and visited a number of retro dance venues/special events in the last 10 years then you may have had the privileged of experiencing a sweat soaked, sore back session of dance floors gyrating unleashed by the one and only DJ Misty Hill. 
Dj Misty specializes in spinning Rock n’ Roll, Soul, Vintage R&B, Punk &  Alternative Rock and has established herself as one of Toronto’s best.

Dj Misty

The One:
Music begins at home. Take us back to your childhood for a moment. Was music a big part of your childhood? In what way?
I grew up in a house full of music and musicians. My dad has always played guitar in a band and we had instruments all over the house that I was always encouraged to pick up and play. My real fascination was with my parents’ stereo and record collection though – and I still have and play most of those records today.

Was there a defining moment when you realized that you wanted music to be a constant & extensive part of your life?
I don’t think there was a single defining moment. I can’t imagine music not being a constant and extensive part of my life, it’s never not been!

I remember one of my first album purchase. It was Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam & the Ants. I bought it at a yard sale. It was in great condition and I knew nothing of them but I really liked the cover so I bought it. It is still one of my favourite albums! Do you recall your first album purchase?
My first as a kid was The Specials first album because I loved ‘A Message To You Rudy’ but then when I was a teenager my first three CD’s were ‘3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…’ By Arrested Development, ‘Hints, Allegations & Things Left Unsaid’ by Collective Development and ‘Dookie’ by Green Day. Random, right?

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There are some bands/artists I will never get tired of listening to. They have become my ‘go to’s’ for my life’s triumphs & failures because they remind me of who I am. Are there any artists/bands that you hold in the same regard? Who & why?
Funny enough Green Day always stuck with me and I’ve remained a fan but for the most part a lot of the music that have become my go-to’s are the classic artists I grew up listening to through my parents. A lot of soul, Motown in particular, has remained because it’s so timeless. And artists like Nina Simone will always remind me of life’s triumphs and failures because so much of what she addressed with her music as a black woman are still very relevant.

You love vintage culture. It’s apparent in your music, clothing & lifestyle. Tell us what it is about vintage culture that you love.
I love vintage music because it’s what everything comes back to. Every style of music today traces back to vintage blues, r&b, rock n’ roll. Everything I liked musically -even punk rock – could be traced back to vintage rhythm and blues. My mind was blown the first time I heard Big Mama Thornton sing the original version of ‘Hound Dog’. Suddenly hearing a song I had thought was by Elvis being sung from deep down in the gut of a black woman completely changed how I heard that song and music.

What/Who inspires you as a woman, a Dj, a culturist?
So many things! As a woman, other women inspire me and wanting to see each other succeed. As a DJ I’m inspired by fun, good times, letting loose and trying to channel positivity wherever I go. Everywhere else I’m constantly inspired; by other artists, by the women I work with in the community, by activism and need for change both in Toronto as well as globally.

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The Flow: By Definition: A mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. To move or progress freely as if in a stream.

Toronto has a very vibrant music scene. As a Dj, a lifer of music, an insider; what is your take on the overall scene?
Toronto is booming! Big cities have tons of talent and Toronto is no different. Obviously we have been in the spotlight with some major local acts and that’s really put a lot of attention our way but I think where Toronto really stands out is in the communities we build around music. Toronto has some very tight knit music scenes and the support that artists and DJ’s give each other makes Toronto amazing. For example, within the vintage music scenes DJ’s are supporting each other by going to each other’s events and promoting each other whenever we can. I’m proud to part of a collective of musicians, DJ’s and artists called the “Toronto Soul Club” who works to promote the best soul and vintage parties in the city, whether they are our own or not.

There is a long roster list of male dj’s. They have dominated the Dj Industry for years but in recent times we’ve seen more and more young women come up in the scene. What, if any, adversities have you experienced as a up & coming female dj?
I’ve lost gigs for not being “sexy” enough because I didn’t want to look a certain way and I’ve also not been taken seriously because sometimes I like dressing up although that’s irrelevant to me playing music. I’ve had people come up when I’m dj’ing and even though I may have a record in my hand they ask a guy in the booth for a request or ask me where the DJ is. There are so many things both obvious and on a micro level and I could write whole articles on this but ultimately it’s why building relationships and community with other artists and dj’s – especially women – is so important to me. I am fortunate to have an amazing network of people who are working hard to bring each other up so it helps me be able to focus less on adversities. 

What was your Dj “I’ve arrived” moment?
Probably the first time I made a dance floor go bananas! I’m just kidding! Being nominated (and voted runner-up!) as Best DJ in NOW Magazine’s Reader’s Choice for the past two years has been my biggest honour so far. I don’t really know what officially qualifies as saying “I’ve arrived” though because I’ll never stop trying to accomplish more.

What events/venues have you Dj’d?
I’ve dj’ed almost every type of event and venue from parties, clubs, weddings, small pubs, museums, after hours, galleries, burlesque shows, sports events, ice skating parties… You name it! Three highlights so far have been dj’ing for burlesque legend Tempest Storm, dj’ing on King St. W. for the Toronto International Film Festival and getting to DJ at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Have you Dj’d anywhere else in Canada or internationally? Where/what event?
My goal is to DJ as many places as I can, so far I’ve DJ’ed vintage music at clubs in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles and most recently in Mexico City. Next stop, travelling Japan in the fall!

Tell us about the kinds of music you love to spin.
I like to play lots of different genres. I’m mostly known for DJ’ing vintage music from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s but the music I’ve DJ’ed is as varied as the music I listen to. Anything from punk, new rock and alternative, retro 80’s and 90’s, top 40 though most of what I play falls *outside* the electronic/EDM umbrella which can be a little unusual for DJ’s sometimes!

Who are some of your favourite female dj’s in Toronto & internationally?
In Toronto some of my favourite DJ’s are women who I’m also lucky enough to call friends (and often co-conspirators!) like DJ Nico who DJ’s the mod party, ‘With It’ and DJ Blush who DJ’s Stones Place and party ‘Hold Tight!’ with me. I’m also a big fan of DJ Fawn, DJ Betti Forde and the YES YES Y’ALL DJ’s. Internationally there are way too many (yay!) but I recently met three killer DJ’s in Mexico City, DJ Elisse Locomotion of the HIPSHAKERS! and Girls Got Soul parties, DJ Denepa Panky and DJ Bam Bam of Radio Paax (http://www.radio-paax.tumblr.com).

What are some of the awards and hardships of being an established female Dj?
It’s all good! The biggest challenge I have sometimes is balancing time between my full time career, dj’ing and taking time for myself but truthfully I see myself as being VERY fortunate to be in a position where that can be a challenge.

What is the Dj community like? Are they supportive or competitive?
Overall I’d say very supportive with a healthy dose of friendly competition. In terms of gigs and events I’ve found other DJ’s both in my immediate circle and beyond to be encouraging but my friends and I can sometimes get a little competitive around record collecting and sometimes even skills – but not with any ill will, more as a form of admiration towards the other DJ for keeping the fire under our own butts lit.

If music is the medium then Dj’s are the messengers. Can you elaborate on this?
I think it depends on what the message you’re trying to get across is. My first priority is wanting people to dance and have a great time but there’s still a level of consciousness to the songs I select and if a song or artist doesn’t sit well with me I can’t bring myself to play it. That includes music and artists that are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, etc. It’s not that I’m a fan of censorship, but that’s not what this is. I just can’t put myself behind a message I feel strongly about if that message can’t be inclusive or is harmful to having a great time.

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You’ve won Best Runner Up Dj by NOW voters the last 2 years. Hopefully, this is your year. What conscious steps/if any have you taken to help you get the win this year?
Honestly, just being nominated (especially alongside some of the other nominees) is such a huge honour in itself. I haven’t taken any conscious steps to try to win this year, I just want to keep being able to DJ events where people keep having fun and if I can keep making people happy it’d be an awesome accolade to accomplish.

If you could headline any event in any part of the world what and where would that be?
I honestly don’t even know… I’m up for dj’ing anything/anywhere fun, headliner or not! It’d be an honour to DJ alongside Jonathan Toubin from New York’s Night Train so I’ll say that’s my #1 pick.

Would you ever leave your day job to pursue a full time career in Dj’ing?
No way! I’ve DJ’ed full time before and when I relied on it as my sole source of income I found myself losing the love for it because my greatest source of fun was also my greatest source of stress and sometimes those things just shouldn’t be the same.

What message can you send to other women who seek a career in DJ’ing?
DO IT! Please! :)

Give us your top 5 list of songs that you can’t live without.
Too hard too hard too hard :p I can barely narrow it down to 5 genres sometimes but my favourite soul song to DJ is Tainted Love by Gloria Jones and my favourite rock song to DJ is I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett.

You are you own brand. If you were an advertisement what would your tagline/mantra be?
Marketing has never been my strength… I need to work with someone who could help me with this perhaps, haha.

What does it take to become a great Dj?
PASSION! Being in love with music is really the thing, if you love and know a wide variety of music the rest can be learned.

Tell us about your extensive music collection?
I’m trying to limit my physical collection to what I will listen to often at home and/or play out. That still means I have way too many records of course but they are pretty eclectic. I have a lot of different genres in there; punk, soul, garage, funk, indie, vintage r&b, jazz, classic rock, hip-hop, and so on. All the things I like to listen to!

Pic4

Where do you acquire most of your music?
Record stores like Kops, Sonic Boom and June Records and I’ll hunt for specific 45’s on websites like discogs from time to time. Otherwise I buy my music online though sources like iTunes and beatport.

What are your plans for the future? Is Dj’ing a part of that?
Definitely! The future is still a big question mark but music will always be part of it in some capacity. I’ll never stop collecting records, and I’d love to be in a position where I can facilitate opportunities for other women and girls to learn

Vinyl or Digital…where do you stand?
If a DJ can make me dance I don’t care what format they are using – and I DJ with vinyl and my laptop, depending on the event. My personal collection is also made up of both. My general rule of thumb is that music usually sounds best on the format it was initially meant for; if it was originally pressed on vinyl, it probably sounds best on vinyl!

Vinyl is making a huge comeback, as it should. Although Digital makes things light and convenient, vinyl is the real thing. Does it effect how you buy your music and your show?
YES because I’m not buying as much vinyl these days – it’s too expensive. The comeback is amazing and I get so happy when I hear my 21 year old sister is buying and collecting records. But one of the downsides is that now you’re finding (used) records that are worth a few bucks being sold for $30, and ultimately compared to buying digitally, vinyl is not the most economical choice. But let’s be honest, the satisfaction of holding and playing a record is unparalleled. I’m pretty happy with technology DJ wise though because it’s able to encompass both. Serato’s digital vinyl system for example is incredible.

Pic5

Are there any sub cultures within the Dj Community? What are they?
I think just about every music genre or scene in the city has its own subculture or even many. Be it the soul/mod/vintage DJ’s who make up the Toronto Soul Club and beyond, the Queen West rock n’ roll scene and so on. That’s part of what makes Toronto so exciting for music and as a DJ, is that there’s a scene, culture or DJ night for just about any music fan.

Where are you playing next and where can people find out more about you and your music life?
I’m dj’ing the first Friday of every month at the Rivoli called HOLD TIGHT! with the amazing DJ Blush, I’m also dj’ing the last Saturday of the month at Swan Dive at a party called Good Times. Through the summer you’ll be able to find me a bunch at Stone’s Place as well as dj’ing afterparties at Miss. Thing’s tiki bar for the Golden Flamingo Revue. It’s going to be a fun summer! My website www.djmisty.com or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/djmistyrocknroll) is the best place to keep up with where I’ll be.

I admire women who live what they love and look great doing it! Misty is fast becoming an unstoppable force delivering happiness and inspiration to many. She’s having a great time and affording her audience the same because she is pure to her art. Simply, it’s who she is.

Artisans Exposed Projects is a Toronto based Blog highlighting the solo artisan, the creative warrior, the ‘One’. One challenges conventional ideals on all fronts. One is true to One’s creative self and exhibits endless passion for One’s unique endeavours. One is resilient and steadfast in the pursuance of One’s flow and gains strength while streaming through the face of adversity. #rebels #creativewarriors #blog #deviantartists #one #flow #rogues #Toronto #artisans #art #music #design #talent

Artisans Exposed Projects is a monthly publication for Artisans Exposed Projects Blog & G5 Canadian Urban. AEP features Toronto’s most interesting solo artisans, so if you believe you are ‘One Flow’ and would like to be featured…and you reside in Toronto, send a brief bio to houseofjoartistry@gmail.com. Share your Flow!

 


 

Soul to Love with FoXx Williams

Artisans Exposed Projects presents: One Flow: A series of short interviews with uniquely passionate performers and artisans.
By: Jojo D
http://artisansexposedprojects.blogspot.ca
Nothing But Soul!
I AM THANKFUL! Thankful to all creative warriors who, throughout all, commit their time and intelligence to aspects of life that are so definitively beneficial to the substance of humanity and it’s needs. We don’t often take the time to introspectively absorb the intricate realities that surround us daily but they are there…everywhere. These are the people who create, develop, instill and maintain the valuable commodities that defines large portions of our existence or tug at our heart strings or inspires us, diversely. One of these influential, infinitely ‘all of all’ entities, is what we know as MUSIC. It lures us in, seduces us, propagates unity & chaos and encourages the strength to achieve great things. Music feeds the mind, body and soul! One such music maker is a Scarborough breed, R & B singer and songwriter.

FOXW

Soul to Love

Who: FoXx Williams

What: I am a singer/songwriter and international recording artist.

Where: Canada, Jamaica and Italy presently. This year I will be releasing singles in Poland and Germany as well.

When: I began my journey at the tender age of about 7 years old. I used to sing into the handle of the vacuum cleaner while my mother was cleaning. As a teenager I spent time in various singing groups working on my craft. I would say that my professional journey began in 2004 when I was given the opportunity to open up for Lloyd Banks of G-Unit in Bethany West Virginia.

Why: I do what I do because I love it. I enjoy music and had formal training in piano in my younger years which has helped me in my song writing craft in building melodies, harmonies and backup vocals.

How: I create melodies to help illustrate story and use my West Indian heritage to give my music a little twist. I enjoy performing live and getting people who may not necessarily know my music to get up dance, bob their heads or simply smile. I like to write songs that are inspirational, uplifting or just fun music that the average person can relate to.

Your given name is Lavel Williams but you are known as FoXx. What is the inspiration behind that?
As a kid my friends and I would get into a little trouble here and there like any teenager does. I got the name FoXx because I was quick and slick and always found a way to get us out of trouble.

Music has always played a huge part of my life, even as a wee child. And as a child I developed a bond with music through exploring my parent’s diverse collection. When we would go to ‘friends of my parents’ homes, I would explore their albums as well. I would sit and fascinate about what it would be like to be a famous singer….and I’d dance like it’s no one’s bizznizz.. Do you recall any of moments that may have established your desire to become a singer?
I remember attending a summer camp in Toronto at West Scarborough Boys and Girls Club and having my two older twin cousins sign me up for a talent show. They had me lip-sync to R. Kellys’ “Bump & Grind”. On my way home I actually sang the lyrics and surprised myself that I could actually carry the notes very well. That was the first time I really realized that I had a voice on me and not just the desire to sing.

 What came first…song writing or singing?
Singing has always come first. My earliest memories are of singing in church choirs, school choirs and doing various talent shows in a group. I was never one to want to perform on my own.

How would you describe your music and who are you writing for?
My audience is everyone. I cover EDM, Progressive House, R&B, Hip Hop and also Reggae. I like to merge genres to widen the audience. My target audience is anyone who appreciates good music and loves to dance.

*MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/nRO9xnii68g

Are you educated in any musical disciplines?
Yes. I was trained formally via the royal conservatory of music in piano. I got up to grade 6 before I quit. I must say that my musical background helps me to build complex harmonies and melodies.

What are your top 3 musical genres that lend inspiration to your style?
Reggae, House & RnB

Where do your roots lie and what, if any influences does it provide you in your journey?
I roots are in Gospel and R&B. This has helped me with strong vocals and the ability to be versatile in my musical delivery.

As exciting as live performance is, it also puts us in a very vulnerable place. This is particularly true in the case of ‘first time’ experiences. Tell us about your first live stage engagement.
My first live stage performance was in an elementary school play called “Clowns”. I played Silly Willy and had my first real solo. I was very nervous but I had a great show and subsequently my performance got picked up by TVO Canada for two kids TV shows “Stuff” & “Off the Hook”.

List your top 5 personal influencers, musical or otherwise?
1.) God
2.) Parents (Lance and Velma Williams
3.) Bob Marley
4.) Michael Jackson
5.) Beres Hammond

Commitment is key in any life flow, if you want to succeed. Have you sacrificed anything to be where you are today?
Following any type of dream requires sacrifice. In order to be a musician it requires you to either be signed or have some sort of financial backing. In order to make a real push in the industry I’ve had to make a lot of scarifies such as time, sleep, family time and time with friends. Music is my first love so I have to make sure that I put in that work. I gave up a teaching job in West Virginia to return to Toronto to work on my craft in a city that is musically booming.

*MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/eNrtOtZBH5o

In your experience, what are your top 5 attributes one needs to successfully pursue a career in the music industry.
Determination
Dedication
Flexibility/Versatility
Stage Presence
Vocal Ability (continuing to strengthen my vocals every year.)

You music is known worldwide. Where do your greatest fans live? (Internationally)
My greatest fans are in Italy. It was amazing to walk the streets of Sorrento and people were walking up to me asking me if I was FoXx. They would say Call Me (the name of the song) and ask for a picture. It was such a humbling experience and it honestly gave my musical career the much needed encouragement it needed.

On a scale of 1-10, where does your Canadian fan base rank and your thoughts on why? (10 being best)
My Canadian fan base I’d say would probably be a 3. No disrespect to my Canadian fans, but I find that Canada only backs the music that they are told to back. When a song is big in the United States, we as Canadians jump on it. I find that it is very difficult to make it in Canada because our market is much smaller and more complex than most places. I love the fact that I’m getting fans now all across Canada, however, it’s been a long time coming.

*MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/w4RGMPq4T0E

Not everyone can like your work and with technology and devices, transparency can be a benefit or an obstacle. How do you handle the ‘haters’ and ‘naysayers’ out there who spout negativity about the industry, people you admire or know or even about you?
Haters make you stronger. If people didn’t hate…I probably would have given up already. It’s the fact that when people say or have said “you’ll never make it”…or “you’re doing the wrong kind of music”, it pushed me to prove them wrong. So to the people that gave me the drive that I needed….Thank you and God bless!!!

Not every Artist has the benefit of being backed, financially or emotionally by a supportive family and personal circle. How important is this type of supportive backing to your success? Why?
My family has supported me from day one. They’ve seen me be signed to smaller labels, invested in my projects, came out to see me perform when there were only 20 people in the crowd and probably 15 of them were my cousins. From 20 people shows to joining Karl Wolf to do a half time show at the A.C.C for the Raptors home opener, my family has remained a constant support system and have always encouraged me to keep my faith in God as I pursue my dreams. Anything is possible through God.

*MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/_wc8ITpA_54

What last piece of advice can you offer to those looking to find success in the music industry?
Be true to yourself. Think of your target audience. Create a team (managers, PR, Radio Trackers etc… you cannot do it alone. Get an education so that you have a backup plan and an additional source of income. (I’m a teacher who is currently a social worker.) Do what you have to do so that you can do what you want to do. Never forget to give thanks to God.

What is coming up next for you?
I’ll be working on 2 EP’s this year. One in Reggae and one in Dance/EDM/Progressive House. I’m also planning on visiting Portugal to check out the music scene there and to see if I can make any connections out there as well.

FW

Where can people find your music?
iTunesBeatportYoutubeSound Cloud
Facebook: FoXx Williams
Twitter: @FoXxWilliams
IG: @FoxxWilliams

Thank you FoXx for being a creative warrior! Your journey shows true conviction and commitment. Your pursuit of happiness is and will continue to be rewarded as you grow musically and we look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the years to come!

Artisans Exposed Projects is a Toronto based Blog highlighting the solo artisan, the creative warrior, the ‘One’. One challenges conventional ideals on all fronts. One is true to One’s creative self and exhibits endless passion for One’s unique endeavours. One is resilient and steadfast in the pursuance of One’s flow and gains strength while streaming through the face of adversity. #rebels #creativewarriors #blog #deviantartists #one #flow #rogues #Toronto #artisans #art #music #design #talent

Artisans Exposed Projects is a monthly publication for Artisans Exposed Projects Blog & G5 Canadian Urban. AEP features Toronto’s most interesting solo artisans, so if you believe you are ‘One Flow’ and would like to be featured…and you reside in Toronto, send a brief bio to houseofjoartistry@gmail.com. Share your Flow!

 


 

Lego post LP10

Unique, eclectic and uberifically creative, is how I describe Ekow’s Flow.
I became interested in Ekow and his art because it touches a part of a human experience we have all shared and still luv today. LEGO, a household playtime activity, was founded in 1932 by
Ole Kirk Kristiansen, a Danish carpenter. LEGO, literally means ‘play well’…and we did. LEGO has maintained its dominance and world wide appeal for nearly 80 years and there is no sign of slowing down. In fact, over the years, LEGO has introduced a wide variety of building kits, blocks and interactives that continue to attract and engage the kid in all of us. They have branched out and tapped into exciting accessories and exclusives such as robotics, video games, vehicles, books, and the prestigious LEGO Master Builders Academy. Their Star Wars collection, one of their most popular series, is just one glowing example of how they have kept relevant over the years.
As LEGO continues to gain popularity in young and old alike, there are those who have taken ‘building’ to new heights. The most creative of those gain respect and notoriety within the LEGO world community and amongst those are a lucky few that have become certified professional builders exclusively for LEGO. There is only a handful of LEGO recognized professionals and the road to the top is long and arduous but once the pinnacle is reached, the sky is the limit of what can be achieved within the LEGO world community. And, it is a world onto itself! Ekow is amongst a select group of professional unofficial builders. Unlike official LEGO builders, Ekow is free to creativity explore just about anything he wants to and retains all creative control. He is an independent Lego builder who has established much success over the years through commissions, exhibits and curated projects.

This is One Flow….

LP1 LP5 LP4

Who: Ekow Nimako
What: Visual Artist
Where: I live in Toronto, Ontario
When: I’ve been building with LEGO since I was five years old. My professional art practice began in 2012.
Why: From as far as I can remember I wanted to work for LEGO, or work with it at any rate, and now it has become a reality. I made it a reality. I can honestly say there aren’t many things I enjoy more in the world than building.
How: When constructing beings, creatures, or other living structures out of LEGO, creative play becomes this very natural, alter-biological process for me where creation seems to occur on the molecular level. I always start with the eyes, and everything else takes shape from there.

How did your fascination with Lego’s begin & how old were you?
I remember being five years old and moving from London England (where my family lived for a year), to London Ontario, and I remember that from then on it was LEGO, G.I. Joe, and Transformers all day. Now it’s just LEGO. Those Michael Bay movies have long lost their muchness.

Where do you commonly draw inspiration for your designs and/or is it always evolving?
I am inspired by the world I encounter, the emotional lived experiences and fantastical imaginings of people and creatures, society, nature, otherness. My sculptural process draws from an observation of living entities, and much like natural creatures it must evolve. Every single sculpture I create is made with a more evolved process than the one before it. They all typically carry the same unique aesthetic, but no two are made the same way.

Tell me a little about the design and build process. It sounds like a fair bit of math is involved.
Well, there is math involved in my sculptural process, or engineering rather, but it is not something I often recognize as equational. Structural stability must always be negotiated when building, as well as things like balance and weight distribution. Sometimes I have to use some math to work out ratios if I am building larger-than-life, and in those cases I will usually ‘sketch’ out the piece with a smaller sculpture as a sort of guide. In truth I can draw fairly well, but not as well as I can build. 

Your work was recently featured in this year’s Nuit Blanche, congratulations. Comment on your exhibit and the influence behind it. Silent Knight was a monument to the Ontario Barn Owl. It remains one of the most extirpated species in the province, so I thought that if I bring this magnificent creature into the collective consciousness it may help prevent its localized extinction. The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art co-produced the exhibit with the city and they were all very supportive of my work. I was with the piece for most of the event and I’m glad to say that several people were definitely inspired.

If LEGO hadn’t panned out, what would you be doing with your creative time?
Well I’m also a writer so I’d probably be writing books. I love reading and writing fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. I’ve already completed two unpublished novels for young readers, one of which I also illustrated. So I will likely end up writing more at some point.

Professional LEGO artists are a rare breed. There’s but a handful, worldwide, that are recognized by LEGO as Certified and Professional Builders and part of the LEGO extended family, in which artists benefit from employment, sponsorship and endorsements. There are also many talented artists that contribute to the community who are not officially recognized. Where do you stand currently?
I am a professional artist, and as such I am not sure how I feel about forging a direct relationship with any brand corporation. Despite my profound love of LEGO, too, I am an artist before I am an enthusiast. That order of things is important to me.

Amongst the pros, there are a few who generate a livable wage and even fewer bear the rock star status of income generation. This leaves the majority of artists who don’t/ or can’t earn a living at being a LEGO artist but are still finding the time, money and energy to pour into the art. Do you art for the sake of art and the challenge of the medium or is the challenge of becoming one of LEGO elite Builders that entices you?
I think the sensitivity of my artwork is rare even amongst elite LEGO builders creations, however to gain this distinction is not why I make art. LEGO just happens to be something I am extremely familiar with having played with it for over thirty years. My main purpose as an artist is to inspire, to make people think, to make people act, that’s what art is made for isn’t it? To transcend humankind?

What’s the Lego Community like?
My connection to the greater LEGO community is tenuous at best, but I know some pretty diehard fans. They go to all the conventions, win LEGO awards, and probably spend all their disposable income on LEGO. Completely fanned out.

LEGO is a fundamental part of most childrens lives, yesterday and today, unwaveringly. What is it about LEGO that holds such power over our inner child? It effortlessly merges complexity, simplicity, and colour for every emotion.

If you could relay a message to Ole Kirk Kristiansen, the founder of LEGO, what would that be?
Thanks man!

What sort of opportunities emerged for you as a LEGO artist?
I think LEGO is amazing at captivating people’s imaginations, so working with it has definitely afforded me opportunities to work with great institutions and people. There are a couple celebrities who own my artwork so I have their patronage to be thankful for, as well as all of my clients who supported me from the beginning.

What types of LEGO events, conferences, tradeshows etc are offered to the community and have you ever attended any yourself?
There are various LEGO themed events around the world to be sure, but I don’t really know how many, I took part in a contest once, but I haven’t participated in anything LEGO-themed since. I am more concerned with moving forward as an artist than being wholly defined by my medium.

What types of objects are you most recognized for building?
I think people recognize my creatures most of all. Silent Knight got a lot of attention which then brought more attention to some of my other birds and mammals. I think deep down most people really love animals more than people.

You work with large quantities of LEGO blocks. Are the tools you require easily available to you or do you have to custom order your supplies?
I order my parts from an aftermarket website, most of which are recycled, all of which are from people’s personal collections from all around the globe. There is nothing special about what I order, except maybe the quantity depending on the build.

What prerequisites does one require in pursuing this creative & specialized path?
An aptitude for art, the patience of a snail, and an impervious layer of skin on the bottom of you feet.

If I wanted a life size LEGO sculpture of myself, how much would it cost to produce something like this?
A life sized human sculpture would cost… more than a few thousand.

Here’s an LEGO art project for you…the Toronto skyline…with the help of a youth artist volunteer initiative program. Have you worked with such groups?
Actually I have been the Artist-in-Residence with The Power Plant Gallery’s Power Youth Program for the last two seasons. In it I visit the Boys and Girls clubs in marginalized neighbourhoods once a week and work with the youth on exhibitions that focus on themes like identity, community, and afro-futurism. The winter exhibition was called Building Beyond: Legacy 3015, and this fall we focused on gentrification and street art in Regent Park with Building the Block.

What piece of advice can you offer other young LEGO artists trying to make it?
Keep at it, and avoid building things that other people have already built unless you can build it better.

What approach/es do you take when seeking financial support & investment for sustaining your art?
When it comes to seeking investment or financial support for a career in visual art it is important to find as many revenue streams as possible. It is rare for artists to make their income solely from selling art. In Canada there are three major governmental councils (Municipal, Provincial, National) that disburse grants for artist at various levels of their career provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Residencies are also a good resource to explore. If you are a Canadian artist, signing up with CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation/le Front des Artistes Canadiens) is a good move.

What’s coming up next for you and your art….any new projects on the go?
I have some exciting projects that will be coming together in the new year, but you’ll just have to wait and see.

How can potential clients & event planners contact you and see your work?
The best way to reach me is to visit my website: www.ekownimako.com, or email me at: info@ekownimako.com.

Thank you Ekow. You are amongst an exclusive group of artists and you have the fortunate opportunity to skillfully and playfully extend joyous parts of your childhood into adult life. You inspire others to pursue their dreams, especially if those dreams surround childhood memories and pastimes. Any parting words of wisdom?
I always try to remember that for all its imagery and inherent sentimentality, art is politics, and in this world you can’t have politics without rebellion.

Photos sourced by:

www.houseofjophotography.weebly.com

www.ekownimako.com

1LOVETO article by Christina Cheng

Instagram user @sbnuitblancheto

 

Artisans Exposed Projects
One Flow Series
http://artisansexposedprojects.blogspot.ca/

Artist: Ekow Nimako
http://www.ekownimako.com/

Artisans Exposed Projects is a Toronto based Blog highlighting the solo artisan, the creative warrior, the ‘One’. One challenges conventional ideals on all fronts. One is true to One’s creative self and exhibits endless passion for One’s unique endeavours. One is resilient and steadfast in the pursuance of One’s flow and gains strength while streaming through the face of adversity. #rebels #creativewarriors #blog #deviantartists #one #flow #rogues #Toronto #artisans @circusjo @G5CanadianUrban

Artisans Exposed Projects is a monthly publication for Artisans Exposed Projects Blog & G5 Canadian Urban. AEP features Toronto’s most interesting solo artisans, so if you believe you are ‘One Flow’ and would like to be featured…and you reside in Toronto, send a brief bio to houseofjoartistry@gmail.com. Share your Flow!

 

Tla Talks

 

TE

I believe that children are the future

Teach them well and let them lead the way,

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter

Remind us how we used to be

-Whitney Houston

Greatest Love of All

I have worked with children for over 20 years and along the way there have immeasurable lessons and aha moments. If I were to glean one lesson from all my experiences, it would be how important it is to teach children that they are worthwhile and that they have value regardless of how they look, how they behave and where they live. This is simple to state, but hard to do and even harder to maintain. As my own eight year old questions why the world keeps shooting young black people, I struggle to convey the logic in the senseless violence. As I awkwardly bumble through a well rehearsed rhetoric about my love for children and the ways I hold them in high regard, I explain that sometimes the world demonstrates another perspective on the value of children.

The world today is a world of constant screen time and comparisons, of pretty/ugly dichotomy’s, of winning and losing and the necessity of public approval. Growing up we were told what people thought didn’t matter, Nowadays, getting liked, being liked and presenting as likable is such a part of how we live and receive our social validation. It is more important now that ever before that we teach children that they matter on the inside; that they liking themselves is the most important like of all. Only when we are able to teach children they have intrinsic value, can we start to build their resilience. It is vitally important now than ever, to verbalize our positive feedback, to reflect to the children around us what they are good at, and to provide opportunities for their growth and development. Along the way, consistent and sincere encouragement and constructive criticism are critical to ensuring that the message takes root in the children and starts to grow. Within that approach, I have come to understand the power of modeling. Telling children they are valuable when we don’t think the same of ourselves dilutes the message and makes adults seem hypocritical. If we don’t demonstrate loving ourselves, how can we expect children to love themselves.? Self love is the single most powerful weapon we have to survive our world.

And if by chance that special place

That you have been dreaming of

Leads you to lonely place

Find your strength in love.

-Whitney Houston,

-Greatest Love of All

 

 

Ttalks 2

Photographer: Montano St. Jules

She does not know her beauty

She thinks her brown body

Has no glory

If she could dance naked under palm trees

And see her image in the river

She would know

Yes she would know

But there are no palm trees in the street

No palm trees in the street

And dish water gives back

No images

-Nina Simone, Images

Nina Simon’s song Images always represented black mothers to me. The image of a woman standing at the sink washing dishes, un aware of the curious little brown eyes that observe and adore her from afar always struck me as poetic.

I believe in the power of mothers and the critical role we have in shaping, moulding and influencing global citizens. As the oldest child of six children born to a dynamic and powerful black woman, I understood the sacrifice of motherhood very early in life and have a special place in my heart for single mothers. The first time I heard this song, it hit me that those who do not know their beauty are often the ones that produce the most beautiful things. I saw for myself that the same brown unglorified bodies are the same ones that continually bless the world with life, and work tirelessly to ensure the growth and blossom of people and things around them.

Our visually obsessed, perfection seeking, self absorbed cyber world continually spits images of who and what we are and how the world sees and understands us. As I pass through time, I have a growing understanding of the creation, impact and errors in the images of our selves we consume. I understand better who controls the images we are fed and how critical it is to question, critique and guard against ingesting images that aren’t true, healthy or positive. Images and understandings of ourselves as objects of beauty or ugliness are contrived by powerful and external forces. It is our lifelong work to fight these images and the minimize their power.

My mother is a great case in point and as I celebrate her birth and the fact that she is healthy, active and still living and loving life, I reflect on the lessons she taught me and the strategies she demonstrated on how to get through life. As her child, I rarely saw her celebrated or honoured as an object of beauty, but I relished in the beautiful home she created, the beautiful yard she gardened into being, the beauty in the perfumes she wore, the bags and shoes she bought and way she carried herself. My mother loves beauty and raised us with heaping doses. Through her I learned that beauty is strength, that goddesses have scars and that war wounds are badges of pride. My mother taught me that the keys to life are time, health and passion and with these anything can be achieved. Her lessons continually colour my life, and dictate my journey.

So while dishwater is incapable of reflecting beautiful images, I can stand proudly as a product of the brown un-glorified body. Happy Birthday and special thank you to my mother Jessie Matthews and all the other brown un-glorified mothers out there for all you do and the limitless beauty you inspire, evoke and embody.

 

T Talks

Photographer: Montano St. Jules

And when we speak, we are afraid our words won’t be heard, nor welcomed.

……But it is better to speak…….

Adapted from Audre Lorde

 

 

Hello World!

Welcome to my Blog: Tla Talks

A different artistic space for me as a dancer to explore words as a method to release my

thoughts, ideas, images, opinions, suggestions, critiques, and reflections into the world.

The above quote has been such a lifelong favorite and I think I have idolized it into what I

want it to be. I met it while on an Audre Lourde addiction during my undergrad studies. I

immediately resonated with the idea that staying silence can be just as scary as speaking up.

Over the years, I have used this quote to strengthen my written voice with a “feel the fear

and do it anyway” attitude that works for me. Writing it somehow always gives me strength

to say what I don’t feel comfortable saying.

Writing this blog scares me. I have wanted to blog for years and have always had a running

list of topics to write about if I were ever to be given the chance. As a student, writing was

the most enjoyable part of my academic career. As a writer I have a couple published

articles to my credit. However, the opportunity to blog regularly for someone else is

different, and finally here! While the world knows me as one to dance, I will now introduce

myself as one who also writes. As I face my fears, it is my hope that reading this blog

strengthens you the reader in some way and encourages you to reflect, question, challenge

or push through your own demons.

What you can expect from me will be a little of everything: my core passions of art, culture,

and community will intertwine with my voice as a mother, lover, educator, director,

fashionista and great intuitive, proudly Canadian/Trinidadian rooted spirit living

representing for my beloved T.Dot City.

Thank you to Jace Cozmic for the presenting the opportunity to join the G5CU radio family

and smartly resisting my attempts to back away from the chance.

Looking forward to sharing my voice with you.

Walk Good!

TLA

http://tamlamatthews.com/blog/