Art to view, people to free…

Thought I would take a moment and share some upcoming events that I’m excited about!

Still from TREES OF SYNTAX, LEAVES OF AXIS, by Daïchi Saïto

If you’re in Toronto this week, head down to Cinecycle this Friday to catch a show of new work by the Double Negative Collective, presented by the Loop Collective as part of their Lighthouse series. There will also be a live performance by Jerusalem In My Heart.


.:. filmmakers ::: Christopher Becks : Lindsay McIntyre : Lucia Fezzuoglio : Philippe Léonard : Malena Szlam : Karl Lemieux : Eduardo Menz & Daïchi Saïto. ::: with a live performance by JERUSALEM IN MY HEART.

Friday, June 3 · 9:00pm – 10:30pm / Cinecycle / 129 Spadina Ave. (down the lane) / Toronto, ON

Two Double Negative members, Malena Szlam and Daichi Saito, are also responsible for programing at the Segal Centre’s CinemaSpace and they have just put out a call for submissions, deadline is June 15th:

For the occasion of the 2011 State of the Arts symposium, organized by ELAN Quebec, CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts invites submissions of short film and video work of less than 15 minutes made by Quebec-based and predominantly English-speaking artists.

CinemaSpace welcomes recently produced independent work from all genres: experimental, documentary, fiction and animation.

Two programs of short film and video work will be curated by Malena Szlam and Daïchi Saïto, Co-Directors of CinemaSpace. Selected work will screen in CinemaSpace on September 24 during the 2011 State of the Arts symposium. The screenings will be followed by Q&A discussion with artists present.

Pretty pumped for the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival this June! Lots of neat things to see and do. My fave part of this festival is their approach- it has what I think is an innate Montrealness what with the skill-share-y, art-focused, non-commercial aspect to their programming. Their collab’s with my former workplace Head & Hands and current volunteer location CKUT doesn’t hurt their chances with my MTL heart neither.

A few events I’m excited about: top of my list is the Parlovr + Mavo + Mozart’s Sister bill on June 16th. I love all three bands and am very excited to see our good buds (and one of Jeremy’s other bands) Parlovr play some of their new tunes. I think it’s also their first show in Montreal in a million years. I plan to go with Erin and get silly. The afore-mentioned Jerusalem in My Heart is playing the prior evening, June 15th, which I’d like to check out. The Suoni on Film portion of the festival will be screening two early documentaries by Brian De Palma (The Responsive Eye, etc) at Blue Sunshine on July 18th. Check out all of the music shows on the on-line calendar and wander around town for a festival guide for workshop and non-music related event info.

Finally, my good bud Sherwin is throwing two Slowdance Nights, one here in Montreal this Friday at Mainline theatre as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival and a Queer Slowdance in Toronto on June 17th in Toronto at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as part of Toronto Pride. Unite and dance slow!



Stuff I Like Today

1. Making a record. Today the other two let me make noise with an organ and it was good fun.

Hipstomatic photo by Erin!

2. Sleeping in one’s own bed and waking up whenever.

3. Fixture Records’ second compilation. Includes music by Mavo, Dirty Beaches, Brave Radar, Freelove Fenner and other coooool bandsssss.

4. Alden Penner’s 4 song recording Odes to the House. Some travel-inspired spirituals by a pop song craft-ster!

5. No longer living in a construction zone. The roof has been roofed, the ceilings and moldings have been mended and repainted, my studio is pretty much all put together and all is well in the world. Yesss! Soon we’ll be able to have people over for BBQs! Edwardian-themed dinner parties! We can really focus on the back balcony garden! You know, enjoy the season!

6. Our trip to NYC. I think this one will become a 2 or 3 part blog report.

7. Donating to excellent causes like the Root.ED trip to Senegal.

8. Just Kids by Patti Smith.

9. Long walks down by the river (is this on every non-winter SILT list I make?).

10. Having our record player hooked up again. Time for some epic listening sessions complete with lots of album art gazing!


NYC, Part 1.

So, we went to NYC this past week to celebrate eight years of togetherness and it was fun, illuminating and sore-feet inducing. It was also my very first time in New York and since we only had two full days in town, it will not be my last- still so much to see and do! We had lots of places to check out on our list and we got through a bunch of them, though definitely not all. We forewent attending any events in favour of investigating neighbourhoods and parks with our precious few hours, so we nixed museum visits or movie screenings this go-around…though it was pretty difficult to convince Mike to wait a few more weeks to watch Tree of Life rather than see it in a beautiful NYC movie house. I reminded him that if we didn’t watch it, we’d have one more thing to look forward to back in Montreal. It was a tough sell.

The morning of our departure we woke up early and I danced around Mike singing my NYC-trip happy song which started off with what I knew of that Alicia Keys/Jay-Z song and quickly deteriorated into my version of Amy Poehler’s Kaitlin character from SNL, sing-talking ‘New Yoooork!’. Anyway, we chose cheap over fast and took the train- we love riding the rails to boot.

We packed food/movies/books and weathered the 12 hour trip. It looked something like this:

Laptop movies, Just Kids by Patti Smith and chicken salad sandwiches.

Action flicks, eye strain from too much reading, soda and bad coffee.

The delay at the border was long but at least we had some views like this:

Not bad at all.

I’d always expected to fall in love with New York and when I was a teen I imagined that when I got there that I’d never want to leave. Years passed, school + bands + magazine publishing and their demands on my schedule and finances always seemed to bump travel from the top of my list of priorities. It’s back up near the top now. Important to how this whole trip ended up  resonating with me was reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids on the train to and from NYC (thanks to Erin for lending it to me!). Similar to that big city, Patti Smith had captured my young imagination early on, indelibly influencing me as a performer, musician and female artist. Reading her book on a train to NYC felt portentous since my band is now in full record-making mode, as well as meaningful since Patti’s book is about deep friendship, this trip being taken with my partner and a book given to me by a close friend.

Just around the corner from where we slept.

Just Kids also framed the Chelsea neighbourhood for me, the neighborhood we were staying in, and we stayed just a block over from the Chelsea Hotel where Patti and many other artists have lived. Of course, New York is a cinematic city so most of it needed no further introduction and Mike and I wondered through its neighborhoods, name-checking a slew of film references (Bringing Out the Dead, Escape From New York, etc).

After we dropped off our bags, we decided to hit up Times Square, a hectic hub of advertising and artificial light that I don’t think we’ll ever have to visit again.

Our fave moment in Times Square was this guy in his PJs who wandered up a side street with two leashed teacup dogs. He clearly lived around the corner and was shameless about his leisurely attire and tiny charges…Mike got this photo by having me stand next to the guy, pretending to pose in front of the neon madness.

Eventually we wandered home, slept fitfully in a new bed (I dreamed about my band and Patti’s Chelsea-era pals) and woke up early again the next day.

Part 2 of our NYC trip tomorrow.



Hello hello,

Hope your spring is as lovely as can be despite shiver-inducing showers and temperatures! I’ve been busy with some projects that are finally kicking into high gear and so blogging less often. I thought I’d whip up a few lists for you until my next real post.

What is up these days:

Living in a construction zone (our leaky ceilings are getting fixed), making a record, booking a summer tour, finishing up a redesign of my home studio, assembling the goods necessary for a small terrarium, reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (I’m on a strict no-bummer reading diet as prescribed by a seasoned band mate), trying to enjoy my recently-brought-out-of-storage spring and summer wardrobe despite the cool and wet weather, getting back into studying French…almost, getting ready for our NYC trip (gonna pick up a pair of sensible, and hopefully devastatingly sexy, walking shoes), etc, etc.

I’ve been enjoying: 

Bridesmaids, a portable recorder that I’ve borrowed for the summer for a new zine project I’m planning (more later), brunch at Griffintown Cafe…especially when enjoyed with breakfast cocktails.

Looking forward to:

The Anarchist Book fair this weekend! Show tonight!


Rock Show

Poster by Charlie Neufeld

This is happening next week! The Un ladies are great fun, Reversing Falls deal in sick tones and sweet riffs and we’ll be playing almost all new tunes. Join us?

Eye Light at MUFF tonight!

Last minute event announcement: The 52 Pick-UP video project (weekly videos made over the span of a year), conceived and run by Dayna McLeod is having a screening tonight at Pote:er (6029 du Parc) as part of the Montreal Underground Film Festival. One of my videos, Eye Light, is included in the program, which is quite similar to the program that showed at the Edgy Women Festival in March (completely failed to report that screening at all- sorry!).

In related news, I’ve decided to not complete my year of videos with the project as my creative life feels too busy with the band making a record. Initially I joined up because I thought that making weekly videos would be a fun way to keep my film chops up, especially with my limited video set-up of a handheld point-and-shoot camera with a video function, but I’ve since decided I’d rather not make unrigorous work. I mean, it didn’t have to be unrigorous, but it was becoming that way as my time and attention steadily focused elsewhere. The good news is that I’m slowly working on a Super 8 film and hope to be sharing news about it sometime in the future.


First Lady of Cinema

I was walking along with my beau and mentioned how much I’ve been loving menswear lately and that I’d had a small fantasy earlier in the afternoon about trying to pair menswear inspired clothes with 1940s hair, and he was like, ‘Like Katharine Hepburn?’. Exactly! I’m also gonna work on letting my freckles show. “I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.” -K.H.

Stuff I Like Today

1. Properly cooked chickpeas. Not the canned stuff, I mean soaked and simmered over a period of hours-kinda chickpeas. Totally delicious with just a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.

2. Fucking nutty clothing. I’m getting a little bit tired of pretty and tasteful. I’m craving weirder styling on fashion blogs and am now actively searching for wackier options to add to my bookmarks- please let me know if you have any to suggest! For now, check out this image from Style Bubble featuring a dress by Romance Was Born with what looks like a tinfoil ogre face on it.

3. Birds that live along the river. Living in the Verdun neighborhood of Montreal is wonderful because it’s just a short stroll to the river’s edge where several different kinds of birds thrive. At any time of day you can spot ducks and other water fowl paddling along in the eddies. My favorite birds, though, are the herons. They seem most active near sunset. They don’t hang out like the ducks do but when you spot them flying close to the surface of the water or sailing way over head, their wing span is always so surprisingly wide. I try not to interrupt conversation but can’t help exclaiming whenever I spot them. The birds are quite active right now as it’s mating season, so do come down and check out the amorous scene sometime.

4. These two Bill Callahan interviews. Thanks to Erin for sharing them! I know it’s Billy Smog overload around the blog lately, so my apologies if you can’t handle the guy. For my part, I could bottle his voice and go on a bender with it for days, it’s so smooth, the stories in the songs go down so easy.

5. My Brilliant Career (Australia, 1979 ). Why haven’t I heard about this film before?! It has all the hallmarks of an Amber-favorite: early-20th century setting, rad costumes. a feminist plot, great landscape photography, a lady director, etc, etc. And a shockingly cute 25-year-old Sam Neill– who knew? Well the blogger behind Ringo, Have A Banana did and I was inspired by this post to look up the film on Netflix a couple of days ago. Thanks goodness for the interweb or this film and I may have never met!

Horse-back, y'all. No dinosaurs in sight!

 6. Starting the album.

7. The new CKUT music department Twitter account I’m helping get set up.

8. Having my studio freshly painted and reorganized – photos soon!

9. Getting our ceilings replaced so that they’ll no longer be water-damaged and horrible-looking.

10. Mother’s Day this Sunday! Love you Mom!


'Patti rehearsing for a tour, 1976.'

There’s a strange physicality about being a musician; you practice until muscle memory trains the techniques and tunes right into you. When you’re a singer, a sore throat or a cold is a much-feared affliction and as a guitar player, you slice your vegetables mindfully. Then there’s the whole performing thing. My bud Erin and I both write for the band/sing/play guitar and agree that practicing on one’s own (and sometimes together) can be real work. It’s quite a different feeling compared to writing songs, which Paul McCartney described like this:

That creative moment when you come up with an idea is the greatest, it’s the best. It’s like sex. You’re filled with a knowledge that you’re right, which, when much of your life is filled with guilt and the knowledge that you’re probably not right, is a magic moment.”

I have similar feelings about composition. Of course, sometimes writing is a slog too and not all fun; in truth we’ve spent the past autumn, winter and current spring season writing and finishing songs for a new album (we’re starting to record really soon!) and it’s been work. Anyway, this is about practice.

As a kid who was never put in (put through?) team sports and who did a whole lot of independent learning in alternative schools and the like, I sometimes unexpectedly rail against practice – it’s like there’s a practice reflex in me that’s missing. It’s almost as if I unconsciously expect the value of the material combined with musical ability to bear me across the waves and onto the other side of finishing a song with the band. So, to compensate, I schedule practicing into my daily agenda and try very hard not to get distracted by any sexy new ideas that show up, or at least, not for too long.

Of course, feeling like a master rules. That’s a pretty good motivator, along with recording deadlines, band practice schedule and live performances. Maybe I’ll read up more on the 10’000 hours rule, too.

Good luck to all you other musicians out there! Now get back to it.


Do the Right Thing (1989)

Osama has been killed and, in reaction, a friend of mine shared this quote on Facebook today that I appreciate:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. …Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr