You can make a strong case that deadmau5 is the most interesting figure in all of Canadian music, and the most recognizable brand in all of EDM.
For evidence of the latter, look no further than the launch event for Jay Z’s music-streaming platform, TIDAL. On-stage among music’s royalty was the Niagara Falls–born deadmau5—looking as comfortable as one can when one is wearing a mau5head and flanked by Madonna and Kanye West.
Also, deadmau5 is a cat guy.
But what makes the 34-year-old electronic musician, born Joel Zimmerman, truly fascinating, aside from his massively popular catalogue of progressive house tracks, is his life is a social-media popcorn flick. Calling out the people he regularly shares the stage with as overpaid, talentless hacks. Proposing to his former fiancée, Kat Von D, via Twitter. Taking Rob Ford on a Tim Hortons run in the Purrari, a Ferrari 458 Italia Spyder with a hilariously gaudy Nyan Cat wrap.
This modern-day theatre plays out online for everyone to see.
Plus deadmau5 has two kitties. Their names are Professor Meowingtons pHd and “the other cat”. He is undecided what discipline Meowingtons earned the doctorate of philosophy in.
His prolific online presence isn’t a one-way broadcast. You’d be hard-pressed to find any major artist more engaged and forthcoming, and lengthy live-stream video Q & As with fans are a common occurrence. In a recent one, which went on for five hours, he covered TIDAL (the launch was awkward, but he likes the platform because it rewards artists rather than labels, who fuck over music-makers on streaming royalties), releasing Skrillex’s breakout EP on his mau5trap imprint (Skrillex would have blown up with or without him), career advice for aspiring musicians (make human connections rather than online ones), and how he got his start in music (his first official release was a remix of Revenge of the Egg People’s “I’m Electric”, which he did under the moniker Karma K. Listening to it makes him cringe).
But did you know he’s got multiple cattoos, including one on his neck? So let’s talk about the cats, because every other topic has already been discussed and debated, ad nauseam.
Speaking with the Georgia Straight via Skype from his home in Campbellville, Ontario, the EDM superstar won’t confess to being a crazy cat guy, despite a mounting body of evidence that suggests otherwise. If you’re looking for the smoking gun, it might be that he humoured a 30-minute catcentric interview without calling his interrogator a fucking idiot.
Some of the questions were lighthearted: who likes lasers more, people who go to dance-music shows or your cats? “The cats. People are over lasers. They understand them. The cats just can’t seem to grasp the concept that it’s a light source coming from a little pen. It’s always magical to them. So weird.”
Others were deeply personal matters: you famously got your name because you found a dead mouse in your computer. Did you ever think that maybe a cat killed it and put it in there as a gift for you? “Doubt it. Didn’t have one at the time. It definitely crawled in an exhaust fan and just roasted on a video card.”
Even though his mother paints rather awesome pop-surrealist portraits of her son with Meowingtons and “the other cat”, deadmau5 didn’t grow up with cats. Rather, he turned to them later in life for the same reason a lot of us do: companionship. Meowingtons, a chubby tuxedo male, was adopted from the Toronto Humane Society five-and-a-half years ago, and “the other cat”, a runty grey female, made it a menagerie two years ago.
“They don’t have opinions,” he says of his fondness for the cuddly little critters. “I don’t know what my cat is thinking or planning.…I get to make up how he’s feeling, myself. They’re so enclosed and so withdrawn from the world that they think they’re the only fucking things in existence, which kind of gives them that air about them.”
Meowingtons is his favourite, and has active social-media profiles, shirts with his face on them, and his own line of headphones for cats. He had a mau5trap tour and compilation named after him, and appeared on the cover of deadmau5’s 2012 LP > album title goes here <.
“It was my album, to be fair. If it was someone else’s album I’d be impressed,” he says, modestly downplaying the cat’s impressive accomplishments. “There’s no real thing to the cat. He’s just a domestic shorthair cat. He doesn’t have a mustache and all that other shit. So he really doesn’t have a whole lot going for him in that department, which is why we can’t have some major cat-festival appearances.”
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of festival gigs for deadmau5, who, as noted, will be headlining FVDED in the Park, a two-day rager at Surrey’s Holland Park. If his recent power-outage-inducing show at Governors Ball in New York is any indicator, everyone should turn their lights off a few hours before his set starts to help conserve energy. Assisting in burning through countless gigawatts of Surrey’s electricity are R&B sensation the Weeknd; trap kings Flosstradamus; hip-hop shit-disturber Tyler, the Creator; and house DJ-producer Afrojack, who is also a former beau of superstar DJ Paris Hilton. Both have been popular online punching bags for deadmau5.
Despite Meowingtons lacking the “it” factor needed for superstardom, the cat and Paris have at least one thing in common. “I’ve always had this idea of doing a cologne for Meowingtons. Not for cats, but by a cat. And do a Meowingtons-shaped bottle,” deadmau5 schemes. “It would have to be some generic thing that you buy for the bottle. There’s no way Paris Hilton’s cologne is the best. Just make an awesome bottle, put your shit on it, and sell it. I was thinking of calling it Pussy Whipped.”
After discussing literal pussy, it’s tough to steer the conversation towards his live show and 2014 release while(1<2), which he refers to as his first “artist album”, as opposed to a compilation of dance singles. This was initiated by asking how he feels he’s pushing things ahead musically so he’ll be able to provide for the cats for years to come.
“I think a cat could live a full and awesome life on less than $20,000.”
While that figure may seem a little high, keep in mind that deadmau5 recently purchased Meowingtons a miniature LP 47 Superveloce. “It’s a Lamborghini, so he has his own little whip,” he explains. “We took out the steering wheel so he could fit in, and put down a little cat bed and stuck it in the office so he can bug my assistant all day. When he’s tired of doing that he just takes a little nap, and it’s pretty funny.”
The Internet agreed. A photo of Meowingtons in this luxurious bed received nearly 47,000 likes on Instagram.
But for those of us who follow deadmau5 online, there has been an alarming shift from cat posts to high-performance-automobile posts over the years. Where do his priorities lie?
“Like, do you mean if they were both going to fall off a cliff and I could only save one?” he asks for clarification. “Uh, I guess it would depend on the car or cat. Yeah, if it was Meowingtons versus a LaFerrari, I’d help Meowingtons out on that one.”
It’s worth noting that a LaFerrari has a sticker price of over a million dollars. It’s also worth noting that the car’s manufacturer sent deadmau5 a cease-and-desist notice because of customizations done to the Purrari. In the past week he’s settled similar disputes with the Toronto Fringe Festival, over a parody titled Deadmouse: the Musical, and with the world’s biggest rodent, Disney, over “mouse ear marks”. We can all sleep well knowing the musical will happen, there’s room in the world for Mickey ears and mau5-heads, and a Nyanborghini is in the works.
Looking ahead, deadmau5 has no feline expansion plans, which is a shame. “Two is enough. I don’t want to be a crazy cat guy with cats everywhere.” But as great as cats are at cleaning themselves obsessively, sleeping in hilarious positions, and shedding on everything you own, they simply cannot be trained to protect your property. It has been an unfortunate and regular problem at deadmau5’s Campbellville estate as random people keep showing up in his driveway, presumably to catch a glimpse of Meowingtons. Still, he’s enthusiastic about the solution.
“I actually did some research. In Canada, if someone is on your property or breaking in, you can have a [firearms] possession-and-acquisition licence, but you can’t shoot anyone. You couldn’t even beat the crap out of them. But, as it turns out, if you post signs every 50 feet that say ‘Beware of Dog’ and you get a couple of trained fucking killers it’s fair game. I’m actually in the process of working with a guy who’s got a litter coming of interbred wolf/German shepherds,” he explains rather devilishly. “I’m sure the dogs will be cool and not rip my cats apart.”
Whether dogs and cats and mau5 can peacefully coexist under one roof remains to be seen. What’s certain is it’ll all unfold online, and we’ll be sure to ask him all about it next time he rolls through town for a headlining festival gig.
I wish they offered a class on Beyoncé when I was in university. True, I graduated before Destiny’s Child disbanded, but since the trio’s 1999 album The Writing’s on the Wall the writing was on the wall that Bey would be lionized in academia with 300-level Sociology courses in schools across North America. My term paper would be on “The Duality of Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé”, and I’d be sure to include a photo of Blue Ivy on the Works Cited page—as if any prof who penned a syllabus for this course could resist writing A+ next to that kid’s face.
I am not a pupa in the BeyHive, but at the same time I don’t have a death wish and wouldn’t take the course just to spew contrarian platitudes such as “Bey’s overrated. Why isn’t there a Jay Z class? This is reverse sexism.” (There’s always one in every single class.) However, I am a firm believer that you should take as many dumb electives as you can. The more dubious in educational merit they are the bet- ter, as they’ll help hone your bullshitting skills. These will prove valuable later in life if you ever want to win friends, influence people, or, you know, procure employment that doesn’t make you cry like a decidedly un-fierce also-ran in the shower every Monday morning.
I spent many sleepless nights slaving over essays on Shakespeare. Over a decade removed from school and still no one wants to yak about Hamlet with me—the real tragedy is most people into the performing arts are on life support and in a vegetative state. Dropping knowledge from that mandatory 100-level Stats course never charmed the interviewer for that plum gig I desperately wanted. And then there was a class on the weather. Yes, the weather. Somehow Clouds 101 was deemed essential for obtaining a degree. While my cumulonimbus identifying skills are unfuckwithable, every time I point one out to the person next to me on the bus they end up switching seats.
I should have been studying Mrs. Knowles instead. Bring her up to that same cloud-hating asshole and they’ll be hanging off your every word. Yoncé is all on our collective mouths like liquor.
Don’t fret the inevitable “Yes parents, I am taking a class on Beyoncé and this is a perfectly sane thing to do with the tuition money you’re giving me” conversation. They’ll see the light when you eloquently break down why Kanye is right and she deserves all the Grammys using a third-wave feminist critique. Besides, you can add, Religious Studies is a thing, and the Queen Bee is more popular, influential, and relevant than at least three of the top five major ones.
Nothing about the Cultural Hegemony of Bey, Gentrification and Craft Beer, the Intentional Communication of Ronaldo’s Abs, or Rihanna’s Instagram: Why We Can’t Even on the docket this semester? Doesn’t matter. The scholarly world moves at a glacial pace, and doesn’t recognize genius as quickly as you do. So put a ring on your education, and opine about “The Political Economies of Game of Thrones” (Poli Sci), “Grumpy Cat and the Theatre of the Absurd” (English), “Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and Oedipus” (Psychology), or the “Cultural Appropriation of Twerking” (Sociology). Just be sure to hurl around a few Marxisms like “commodity fetishism” or “means of production” and you’ll do fine regardless of how flimsy your argument is.
“Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?” you ask. Well you can accomplish both when post-secondary educa- tion is in line with your interests. So fill up your tub halfway with dumb electives and ride them with your surfbort over the next four years. That, or you can spend the rest of your life lamenting missing out on that Beyoncé course as you keep a careful eye on the offerings in the Continuing Studies department.
this article was originally published by elective magazine in march 2015.
If you’re an out-of-touch 35-year-old male, attending an Ariana Grande concert is great way to be confronted with your own mortality and irrelevance. Quite frankly, up until a few days ago I had no fucking clue who she was apart from what I’d gleaned from tabloid headlines. But apparently, while I was taking a nap, she conquered pop music this past summer and can pretty much sell out Rogers Arena now.
If you’re equally clueless, Grande initially gained fame for playing Cat Valentine, a lovable, vermilion-haired ditz on Nickelodeon’s Victorious—think a musical Saved by the Bell with a far more jarring laugh track. (Yeah, I watched a few episodes. What of it?) This is a vital detail because the elementary-school- to high-school-age girls in attendance were all wearing cat ears as a nod to this character.
If you didn’t bring your own cat ears, the kind people at the merch stands were selling them in two varieties: black lace ($20) and light-up ($40). Other hot sellers, which made parents uncomfortable, were shirts with Love Me Harder emblazoned across them ($40) and booty shorts with I Got One Less Problem Without You on the posterior ($30). The mob scene for these keepsakes put iPhone launches to shame.
At 9 p.m. on the button, Ari took the stage for the Honeymoon Tour, this much to the delight of the faithful, nicknamed the Arianators. (Meh. Too bad Arian Nation was already in use.) Pairing a sparkly black skirt and top with her trademark thigh-high boots and a set of cat ears, which, astonishingly, were not available at the merch table, she opened with “Bang Bang”, a collab track with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj.
The show immediately started ticking all the good pop-concert boxes. An eight-piece band who didn’t do much or warrant an introduction. A dozen backup dancers bouncing out of trap doors. Costume changes galore. A massive LED wall complemented by smoke machines, lasers, and pyrotechnics. And, most importantly, Grande had already flown around the stage twice by the sixth song—once on a cloud and once on a chandelier.
But here’s the problem: virtually every other song the 21-year-old hitmaker has done features guest vocals. So you’re spending a lot of her set listening to the canned voices of Minaj and the Weeknd or watching videos of her boyfriend Big Sean (twice), Childish Gambino, and Mac Miller rapping. While this is happening, Grande just sort of shakes her hips while waiting to unleash maddeningly inoffensive lyrics ranging from “Here is what you need to do to get with me” to “We are broken up now and I sorta regret it.” Again, this all played well to those in attendance, and what the fuck do I know anyways?
We got all the megahits like “The Way”, “One Last Time”, and “Break Free”, and the show went as scripted. Except for one moment following a video tribute to her recently deceased grandfather. During “My Everything”, the title track off her sophomore LP, Grande actually choked up, missed a verse, and had a tough time composing herself. Did an errant piece of the confetti-snow that was falling from the rafters during this emotional number get in her lungs? Or was it possible she wasn’t grown in a vat of synthetic amniotic fluid by Nickelodeon’s marketing department?
Shockingly, it was the former. Up until that point, audience interaction was strictly of the “What’s up Vancouver?” and “C’mon, make some noise!” variety. But then she piped up and humbly thanked the crowd for supporting her music and sending funny tweets that make her laugh. “This is such a surreal experience. I’ve felt like crying all day. I never thought I’d be here,“ confessed one of 50 most beautiful people in the world, according to People magazine.
The precisely 90-minute set ended with her biggest hit “Problem”, which had video-screen guest vocals by Iggy Azalea. A huge bottleneck ensued on the way out, as the satiated jostled to purchase what shirts remained. When asked what he thought of the whole scene, one parent replied, “Well, it’s over. Ask the kids.”
You didn’t need to. Even geriatric Ariana Grande neophytes such as myself recognized that the selfie-stick-wielding hordes all looked like that hearts-for-eyes emoji at the end of the night. They are the future. Consider yourself warned.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in april 2015
Dance music fans in Vancouver haven’t had it this good since newly legal club kids were in preschool.
At a mainstream level, international acts are bringing bass drops to town every week and there are so many massives going on it’s doubtful your body could handle attending all of them. And at an underground level, intimate after-hours gatherings go down every weekend night and the local acts playing them are getting international attention on sites like Boiler Room, FACT, and Resident Advisor.
The scene hasn’t been this vibrant since the heyday of the Lotus Sound Lounge, and the idea of opening a store that dealt exclusively in phat pants was a viable business plan.
At the forefront of the mainstream side of things is Blueprint, a company that’s grown as fast as EDM has in recent years. “Blueprint, which used to be a two-to-three-person operation, is now a 400-person operation,” explains Blueprint’s digital marketing manager, Matt Owchar, interviewed at the Charles Bar in Gastown. He is pretty on the ball considering that the grand-opening bacchanalia for the company’s latest property, M.I.A. nightclub in Gastown, has just gone down the previous evening.
Under Blueprint’s expansive, fun, and fur-lined umbrella are five other nightclubs and an equally large number of dance-music festivals. One of these signature blowouts, the Seasons Festival, starts today (April 1). Inspired by Seattle’s Decibel Festival, this five-day citywide happening includes over 20 shows at all of Blueprint’s clubs as well as a two-day, all-ages main event at the Pacific Coliseum headlined by international tastemaker Diplo and the king of melodic big-room dance, Eric Prydz.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Seasons bill this year is that alongside EDM heavy hitters like Dillon Francis and Tritonal are local talent Bear Mountain and Sabota, as well as artists from underground dance-music labels 1080p, Genero, and Pacific Rhythm. If you were to describe some of these as EDM at one of their shows, the music would abruptly stop with a loud needle scratch, and the entire warehouse would stop dancing and stare at you.
“In our back yard we have all these amazing acts that are making waves internationally. And they’re awesome and they’re credible and they’re worth supporting and putting on a bigger platform,” Owchar declares. “It’s personally satisfying to take a label like 1080p and put it next to all these big-name DJs.”
This is what’ll be going down at the Free Association party on Thursday (April 2) at Fortune Sound Club. Organized by Natasha Lands and Chad Murray, this free event features three floors of electronic beats from some of Vancouver’s top underground labels. (Noticeably absent from the bill is Mood Hut, whose artists are touring Europe.)
With ample posters, photography, videos, and zines made by locals on display as well, it’s safe to assume that most attending this art-school-friendly show won’t be dancing in their underwear and a SpiritHood to Diplo this weekend.
“Going back seven, eight years, people that are now in the underground dance-music scene in the city, they were more in the punk-rock scene. They were dudes in punk-rock bands,” Owchar recollects. “It’s funny how the remnants of that scene have moved into this.”
It’s true. If EDM is the new rock ’n’ roll, then underground dance music is the new punk. An example of this is 1080p, whose sound might primarily be uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss, but whose ethos is pure punk. Launched by New Zealand transplant Richard MacFarlane nearly three years ago, the frenetic label has over 40 cassette releases from local and international acts.
The appeal of cassettes is that they’re fast and cheap to produce. All assembled by hand, they’re more of a limited-run, lo-fi, objet d’art reward for purchasing the MP3s than something most are bumping in yellow Sony Sports Walkmans.
“A lot of people criticize this trend where house and techno has become popular with people who had previously made guitar music. But I think it’s really amazing and I’m coming from that zone,” MacFarlane admits at Matchstick Coffee in Chinatown. “It’s good people are discovering this. In my opinion, it’s a lot more fun than going to see a show with three bands.”
DJing under the name 1080p Collection, MacFarlane will share the stage at Free Association with one of his New York acts, techno DJ-producer Max McFerren (“Everyone wants to come to Vancouver because they hear there’s this insane house and techno scene”), and local celestial house architect Friendly Chemist.
Soledad Muñoz of Genero echoes 1080p’s DIY sensibilities. Her all-female, multimedia project, with a label component, had its first cassette release this past summer, featuring the wyrd electronic pop of Stefana Fratila. Since then, two more have followed courtesy of deep-house and techno producers Regular Fantasy and D. Tiffany.
“I felt like there wasn’t enough female representation within the electronic realm,” she says of Genero’s inspiration, interviewed via Skype from a Portland coffee shop. “I come from a very critical-theory-based practice. But I also think that academia has this separation from reality. I’m very into pop culture. I’m very much into music. And I’m very much into getting together and making things happen.”
If critical theory doesn’t sound exactly, you know, fun, Muñoz rejects the idea that being an academic feminist and having a good time are conflicting notions.
“That’s how it has to be. C’mon, I’m not just inside a room reading books all day,” the Emily Carr grad jokes. “To me it’s about opening the doors and being ‘Yes, we are here and we’re doing it. Everyone come dance with us. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great, and also we’re very good musicians.’ ”
Performing at Genero’s Free Association showcase are house and techno DJ Jayda G (“She can carry a whole party if she wanted to with her energy”), rapper and R&B singer MamaRudeGyal, and tropical electronic soundscape weaver Ramzi.
Muñoz is quick to point out that the project wasn’t started as a “fuck you” to everyone else in the local dance-music landscape. “I appreciate what all of our friends have done for this scene in Vancouver,” she explains. “The community has made Genero. It’s not just me.”
In fact, none of these upstart labels are concerned about competing with each other. D. Tiffany, whom Muñoz can’t say enough kind things about, has also released tapes with 1080p. At Free Association she’ll be playing in the Pacific Rhythm showcase, and the label plans to release her work on a forthcoming vinyl compilation. Additionally, Pacific Rhythm has a brick-and-mortar store (441 Gore Avenue) where you can buy everyone’s cassettes.
“More and more people are getting into it. 1080p came along. Now there’s Pacific Rhythm. And us. It’s growing and, hopefully, it doesn’t stop at all,” Muñoz says optimistically.
There’s a pretty palpable sense of community bubbling up in Vancouver right now. A healthy underground and a healthy mainstream are byproducts of one another, and this year’s Seasons Festival is building a bridge between the two. When the stadiums and festival dance tents need new sounds to keep partiers moving, they look to the warehouses for inspiration. And when the novelty of the lasers, confetti cannons, LED walls, and DJs hucking cake at you wears off, there’s always room for one more on the city’s dingier dance floors.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in march 2015
“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants?” Jerry asks a casually dressed George. “You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’ ”
That one exchange from an episode of Seinfeld that aired over 20 years ago has helped define the discourse around sweatpants. Any conversation you have about them is likely to shift toward George Costanza, the de facto style icon of comfortable dressing. Consequently, there’s a good chance you’ll look like a schlub if you step outside in a pair of sweats, unless you’re on your way to the gym or you have a rap recording deal.
Then along came fashion sweatpants, to the chagrin of belt manufacturers everywhere. Despite that oft-shared quote from Karl Lagerfeld that “sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” they’ve been popping up in Vancouver’s most stylish boutiques, and it isn’t difficult to spend more money on some comfy sweatpants than on some uncomfy skinny jeans.
“They’re more like fashion pieces. They’re definitely a different approach to activewear,” explains Natsumi Akatsuka, buyer and store manager for Roden Gray (8 Water Street). “People that work out want to feel like they’re dressed up too. But they don’t want to actually go all the way to wearing suits or dramatically change their style all of a sudden. They can actually put on nicer pieces and still feel like themselves.”
The current wave of fashion sweats, which it’s safe to assume no one is wearing to Club 16, place an emphasis on craftsmanship with tapered fits, exotic fabrics, meticulous detailing, and, occasionally, zipper flies. (Think about that last one for a moment.)
“Sometimes with normal sweatpants, you still feel like you’re working out or sleeping or lounging in the house. With high-end, top-quality pieces, you can still feel confident enough to go outside,” Akatsuka says while showcasing the sweats on offer at one of the city’s premier menswear stores.
Hearing Akatsuka passionately describe the artistry and attention to detail on pairs of Thom Browne cashmere sweatpants ($1,595) or the kolor Side Stripe ($475) makes purchasing them seem like a sane proposition. A more affordable option, and a top seller at Roden Gray, is the John Elliott + Co Escobar ($230), inspired by the U.S. soccer team’s warm-up outfits in the 1980s.
Fret not if you’re a bit lighter in the wallet. You can be on trend and on budget, according to Vancouver stylist and sweatpants proselytizer Leila Bani.
“It’s taking something that’s so pedestrian and being all, ‘It’s fashion. Look it up.’ There are two schools of thought. You can go for the elevated, tailored vibe,” she explains. “Or you can just rock it and go for a straight prison look, which is also amazing.”
For the former, Bani recommends homegrown line Reigning Champ (starting at $110), available at gravitypope Tailored Goods (2203 West 4th Avenue). For the latter, she recommends sweats by Champion and Fila. These are tough to find, so your best bet is to keep your eyes on the racks at Winners (various locations).
The consensus is that black sweats are good for blending in, while white or grey ones tend to draw more attention to the fact that you’re, you know, a grown man wearing sweatpants in public. If you’re sporting a pizza-stained T-shirt and ratty Reeboks, it won’t matter how much money you dropped on your fashion sweats. The key to pulling them off at work or as everyday wear is to complement them with a nice shirt and sneakers. Showering occasionally will also do wonders. Alternatively, Bani, whose recent styling credits include the likes of GQ, suggests just being comfy and not giving a fuck.
“I think it comes back to the lifestyle here. You don’t see people dressed up. I love Vancouver because I can be a slob,” she declares. “I’ll be comfortable in my stretchy shit. Whatever. Embrace it.”
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in march 2015
That’s an excerpt from Adrian Mack’s Top 10 albums of 2014 for the Georgia Straight.
Here’s a website I recently got up for the Arrival Agency New Year’s Party at the Hotel Vancouver.
Vancouver author Jennifer Croll recently released an outstanding style bible entitled Fashion That Changed The World. Published by Prestel, this thoughtful and exquisite book explores the history of fashion from a multitude of perspectives and is a must read for any lover of fashion. You can grab yourself a copy of her style bible from the Book Warehouse, Hager’s, Vancouver Special, Chapters, or online from Amazon here.
A site I got up recently for a Halloween party at the Hotel Vancouver.
If Banksy and Shepard Fairey are the Stones and Beatles of street art, then consider OSGEMEOS the Beach Boys, if Brian Wilson were a Brazilian B-boy with an equally gifted identical-twin brother.
In the past year, OSGEMEOS (Portuguese for “THETWINS”) has collaborated with Banksy during his wildly popular residency in New York, staged a triumphant homecoming show in São Paulo that drew huge crowds, and painted the 737 that was used to transport the Brazilian national squad during the World Cup.
(It’s possible their iconic, smile-inducing, yellow-skinned faces, which adorned the plane, prevented 200 million Brazilians from ripping Seleção to shreds after its loss to Germany.)
Before this banner year, OSGEMEOS showed at the now-shuttered tastemaker gallery Deitch Projects in New York (2005), decorated the monolithic façade of the Tate Modern in London (2008), and took up a large chunk of real estate in the biggest retrospective of graffiti ever at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2011).
Now that they’ve conquered the art world while somehow maintaining their immense street cred, the next logical career move is to execute their biggest public mural ever—in Vancouver, a city whose most revered piece of public art is the $97,000 poodle on a pole at Main and East 18th.
Preparation for this massive undertaking, which was organized by the Vancouver Biennale, began with a scouting mission back in December. While here, the 40-year-old brothers, Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, noticed a marked difference between Vancouver and their hometown of São Paulo, a topsy-turvy world where outdoor advertising is outlawed, heritage buildings are preserved, and tagging everything in sight is a popular daytime activity on Sundays.
“You don’t see many murals or graffiti in the city [of Vancouver]. They really control and really go against it. That’s sad. That’s really sad,” Otavio, the more talkative of the two, recalls in a home near urban-art epicentre Brentwood Mall, in Burnaby.
“We don’t think graffiti is vandalism. We think that the way the government governs the city, this can be vandalism. How they treat the people who pay tax every month, they steal and you don’t know what they do with the money. They don’t care. This can be vandalism,” he continues, and then adds: “If you don’t use the city, the city’s going to use you.”
His brother Gustavo is attentive and occasionally chimes in. However, he’s also focused on prepping a stencil that will be used on the mural, a 360-degree, 23-metre-high public art project that will spread over the six Ocean Concrete silos on Granville Island. When it’s unveiled on September 7 for the 2014–2016 Biennale, not only will the mural be a beacon for art enthusiasts around the world, it’s certain to become the most Instagrammed landmark in Vancouver. (Apologies, gum-covered head of Douglas Coupland. You had a good run.)
While the scope of the project is ambitious, the Pandolfo brothers have had ample time to prepare. Having drawn since they were four, the twins began brandishing spray cans at age nine, after spotting some guys tagging near their home. “When I saw the spray cans, I wanted to draw with them. So the next day our parents bought us spray cans, one for each of us, and we sprayed my parents’ whole house,” Otavio says with a grin. “In the ’80s, you had to find ways to play. We liked to destroy things and burn things.”
Unfortunate for their family home and, possibly, the one they’re staying at in Burnaby, but it’s a good thing they got comfortable with the tools of the trade at such an early age: they’re going to use 1,400 cans on the silos, a large number of which will be their signature yellow.
“Yellow is a very magic colour, a very strong colour. We believe it can make a lot of change in a good way,” an impassioned Gustavo pipes up. “We believe in our own world,” he elaborates, shamanically. “It is a place that we go after we pass away. All the drawings that we do, most of them come from this place.”
This dreamy otherworld Gustavo speaks of is an idea they developed symbiotically at an early age. In it, downtrodden, colourfully dressed vandals, gostosas, musicians, children, and other assorted neighbourhood characters are all presented with a playful dignity. It’s the sort of work Diego Rivera might have produced if he’d watched Wild Style on Repeat during an ayahuasca trip.
Today, their surreal visions are in such great demand that people come at OSGEMEOS’s noncommissioned street work with masonry saws and dreams of selling the slab of concrete at Sotheby’s. But the two are quick to point out they don’t believe their career is simply some Basquiat-esque rags-to-riches transition to becoming contemporary-art-world darlings.
“Our school is from the streets, but we see our work as more than painting a wall or painting inside a gallery. It’s more spiritual for us. We need to find space that we can create our universe, this universe that we believe. That’s why we started to work with galleries, because we get the empty space, white space, and could transform all this into the world we believe in sharing with the people,” Otavio says. “Spirituality for us is positive vibrations—bring positive things and give positive change. This is one of the important reasons to make art.”
With Emily Carr University of Art and Design poised to relocate in 2016, OSGEMEOS and the Vancouver Biennale are ensuring that art will always be an important part of Granville Island. While the two don’t have immediate plans to give our city walls any additional gifts, the Biennale is running a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to help offset the costs of the endeavour. (The budget is only about $28,000 more than the poodle’s.) One of the donation perks is a limited-edition lithograph of the finished mural, which is sure to sell out and be much easier to frame than a slab of concrete.
However, if, over the next few weeks, you see a pair of similar-looking fellas with a ladder around Main and 18th, and then hear the unmistakable rattle and hiss of spray cans, don’t call the cops. It likely means OSGEMEOS are giving that bloody mutt a much-needed make-over.
At this point in the summer, how is anyone who attends music festivals not flat broke or in the hospital? Surely no festivalgoers in our province have $300 left in their bank accounts for tickets—and enough serotonin left in their brains—to pull off another weekend of partying.
Legions of people who, apparently, have endless supplies of money, insatiable appetites for flower crowns, and Andre the Giant–esque tolerances for drugs and alcohol swarmed the opening day of the Squamish Valley Music Festival. (Noticeably absent were about 80 lightweights from last weekend’s Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton.)
But how long would they last? Walking along a serene, winding trail to the fest’s entrance, a shirtless fellow in a clown mask wiped out, already too inebriated to walk at 2 p.m. If this was how the day was to go, the medical staff hopefully had numerous stomach pumps and enough activated charcoal to power a locomotive onsite.
This year, the annual blowout features an expanded site to make room for more revellers and more brands looking to “activate” through the power of event marketing. To give you an idea of how big the new festival is, if you smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day (okay, a full pack) and your legs are still sore after playing soccer with a group of 12-year-olds five days ago, it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Stawamus Stage on one side of the grounds to the main Tantalus Stage on the other. (Or 15 minutes if you don’t stop for a smoke.)
This means you have to make some tough decisions because you can’t possibly see all the acts. I’m sorry Foster the People, it’s not my fault you were far away and your set overlapped with the guy who released one of the greatest rap albums of all time, the guy who played this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, and the DJ whose luscious, flowing mane has its own Twitter parody account (@TommyTrashsHair).
“Are you ready to get groovy? I can smell something in the air,” asked Lykke Li, the first of the festival’s heavy hitters to take the Stawamus Stage, before performing “Sadness Is a Blessing”. Surprisingly, she turned out to be the day’s most vocal proponent of weed. Shortly into her outstanding set the effortlessly stylish Swede asked, “Can someone pass that joint on-stage, please?”
Someone obliged and handed her a massive one. She took a pull off it and placed it on a keyboard to save for later. Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson! I’m not sure how things go down at music festivals in Sweden, but here in Squamish, that is called bogarting a joint and it is not a cool thing to do.
Nas, who was playing right after our pot queen, received the second most shout-outs from Li. She kept going on about how excited she was to see the half-man, half-amazing-MC and even dedicated her set to him before “Youth Knows No Pain”. However, unless Elon Musk installed a hyperloop for the talent to travel between stages, it is unlikely she caught the legendary rapper.
“If you’ve heard of my first album, Illmatic, from 20 years ago, put your hands in the air,” said Nasty Nas early in his set. If you didn’t oblige, that was okay, as he was about to perform it in its entirety. With upward of 14 women sitting on men’s shoulders, Nas reached the third track of the album, the chorus of which is likely a motto for many a festivalgoer: “Life’s a bitch and then you die/That’s why we get high/’Cuz you never know when you’re gonna go.”
The 40-year-old rapper burned through Illmatic in 30 minutes, ending with “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”. He then dug into his vast catalogue, and after “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” he earnestly told us, “You know I love you.” Shucks, we were a little unsure, Nas, so it was nice to hear you actually say it.
Sure, you could hang around and hear another 20 minutes of classic rap, but there was a DJ with a fantastic head of hair playing at the dance music stage. There wasn’t anyone there when he started, but Tommy Trash’s locks looked great. As it got darker, though, the lure of bass drops and samples of Lil Jon screaming “Turn down for what” proved irresistible and people gradually fist-pumped their way there, even though Bruno Mars was about to take the main stage.
If some schlub read Bruno Mars lyrics off a sheet of paper, they’d come across as cornball pickup lines. However, his undeniable charisma, talent, and likability means every lady he drops one of those lines on would drop her panties. Rocking a fedora and the best smile you’ve ever seen, he opened with “Moonshine”, “Natalie”, then “Treasure”. Thankfully, his outstanding backup band, the Hooligans, abided by the age-old rule of one fedora per crew.
While performing “Our First Time”, Mars segued into versions of “Pony” by Ginuwine and the “Ignition” remix by R. Kelly, and it proved to be the grind-the-person-next-to-you moment of the festival. He followed that up with “Marry You”, which was the lift-the-nearest-female-onto-your-shoulders moment of the day. After a piano interlude, the global pop superstar returned with a new fedora to end with “Grenade” and “Just the Way You Are”, the every-woman-in-Squamish-was-feeling-beautiful-while-singing-along moment.
Then it was seemingly all over and gradually people began to file out of the festival. Rookie mistake! Mars hadn’t played “Locked Out of Heaven” yet. And if you weren’t already sold on how talented this guy is, he elected to play a lengthy drum solo intro to his biggest hit.
Watching Mars sing, dance, and charm the shit out of everyone, it was not hard to see why people are proclaiming him the next Michael Jackson. Thankfully, there were no King of Pop (and Pepsi!) comparisons to be made when he was showered with sparks during the show’s final number, “Gorilla”, as his hair did not catch fire.
Fittingly, the best song Mars will ever appear on, “Bubble Butt” by Major Lazer, played over the speakers as we booked it to the Blueprint Arena to catch Boys Noize.
“Are you ready to get turnt up?” a shirtless bro near me asked his friend. Everyone was, and the dance stage was now officially the kind of raging fucking party you don’t ever want your parents to know you were at.
The festival’s EDM headliner, Boys Noize, was in his LED plinth-booth and dropping an aggressive set that included his track “Excuse Me”, his remix of Danny Brown’s “Smokin & Drinkin”, and House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Guess which one of those songs received the most ecstatic response from all the shirtless musclemen?
At one point during his set a woman asked to borrow my lighter. I later spotted her and a group of friends, who had all joined arms and were doing a Rockettes–style leg-kick dance routine. What in God’s name were they smoking? And why didn’t they offer to share? Lykke Li, I blame you for this!
Walking back to your car along the winding trail, you could hear campers hooting and hollering. It was 2 a.m., but the partying would continue well into morning. Sure, they were having fun now, but this was only Day 1. Let’s see who doesn’t have an overdraft and is still standing come Sunday evening.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014