Static Zine, the zine I help run, was featured on The Grid today. We talked about zine culture, our latest issue entitled “The Story of Our Lives” and something we like to call Static School. Thanks to The Grid for featuring us!
My friend Aviva and I started a new blog called Treat Boards. Late last year, we became obsessed with Joanne Kates’ Top 100 Restaurants in Toronto list and decided to tackle everything on the list. This is where we will track our progress.
Ohbijou have looked to their hometown of Toronto for inspiration since their 2006 debut, but it was time to become a little more worldly for ‘Metal Meets.’
“It’s something we’ve never explored before, that desire to expedite my cultural background,” singer Casey Mecija, a first-generation Canadian of Filipino decent, tells Spinner.
This new outlook was inspired both by Mecija’s work as a coordinator at a Filipino arts center and with her recent sociology and equity studies at the University of Toronto — and, of course, the band’s recent globetrotting.
“I’m glad that it impacted our writing,” she says. “It added more depth to our record.”
After touring Asia for the first time last year with Ohbijou in support of 2009’s ‘Beacons,’ Mecija and sister/bandmate Jenny have an even stronger desire to visit their parent’s homeland. “Jenny hasn’t been and I haven’t been since I was a baby,” says Mecija, who laments the fact they never actually it made it to the country on that jaunt.
There are plans to hit the Philippines this time around, though, as Mecija is proud to showcase the band’s most adventurous release yet.
‘Metal Meets’ has a “bolder and more ethereal” quality, a shift which comes from enlisting the production wizardry of Besnard Lakes frontman Jace Lasek. “We were coming up with a lot of atmospheric sounds and just thought of Jace because, obviously, the Besnard Lakes is this tripped-out, amazing, electronically-resonant band,” Mecija says. “We had never met him but as soon as we did there was instant chemistry.”
The end result was just what the band needed — a grander sound, fuelled by Lasek’s production cues. “He knows how to get really good sounds out of his studio. He was so easy to work with, he just took what we had and added more. If we could hang out with him every day, we would.”
Though working with Lasek meant heading to Montreal to bunker down in his Breakglass Studios, Mecija and her Ohbijou bandmates are still tapped into Toronto’s tight-knit music scene, a community which has fostered the careers of Austra, Timber Timbre and Diamond Rings.
“It’s really exciting to see what our friends are accomplishing,” Mecija says.
- Published October 14, on Spinner
Static Zine decided to do profiles on each other their contributors, in preparation for its second issue (out October 22). Since the theme for the issue is ‘firsts’, we all filled out questionaires of our first times! Here’s mine - read, laugh, sympathize.
Static’s second issue, First Times in Toronto, is out October 22nd. So to celebrate, over the month, you’ll get to know the contributors of the issue through some of their first times in Toronto.
Melody Lamb is one of the managing editors of Static. She wrote two articles for the…
Since releasing a free mixtape, House of Balloons, in March, 21-year-old R&B singer Abel Tesfaye – otherwise known as the Weeknd – has been tantalizing fans and critics alike with his mysterious persona. Refusing interviews and often posting cryptic, short messages on Twitter, Tesfaye has cultivated a strong following based on internet buzz but until last night, when he played to a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Mod Club, he had yet to make a proper live debut.
Tesfaye owes much of his current fame to his mentor, fellow Toronto native Drake, who met him in 2009 when a songwriting/production team Tesfaye was part of called the Noise wrote a song for the rapper, who was then putting together his debut full-length Thank Me Later. The track, “Birthday Suit,” never made it on the album, but Drake kept an eye on Tesfaye nonetheless – and when the latter release House of Balloons, Drake was so impressed that he tweeted the lyrics to the song “Wicked Games” and linked to it on his blog. Now, each is working on the other’s upcoming records – and Drake has remained Tesfaye’s biggest booster.
And for good reason. His songs sounded spot-on, if not better, live, proving the wait for Tesfaye has been completely worth it. Though apparent on recordings, Tesfaye’s voice is even more astounding in person; it soared over the screaming crowd, which sang along to every song.
Since Tesfaye’s music heavily weighs on samples, ranging from Beach House to Aaliyah, it seemed logical that the performance would be barebones, perhaps vocals plus backing tracks, like the clip that surfaced on YouTube last year of the singer performing at a talent show at the University of Toronto, where he is a student. Instead, the Weeknd is a complete band live. With the help of a drummer, guitarist and bassist/keyboardist, a majority of the samples were recreated onstage, with the laptop merely tucked away side-stage, used sparingly in between everything. Opener “High for This” and “Glass Table Girls” benefitted from the transformation, becoming anthemic crowd pleasers whereas “Coming Down” was stripped down to keyboard ballad and “Rolling Stone” still upheld its acoustic charm.
As expected, Tesfaye’s hype man was present. Watching from a VIP balcony that overlooked the audience, Drake was probably the biggest fan of the show. Singing out loud to every track, the rapper – currently wrapping up his new record, Take Care – even donned a lighter in the air for his friend. After the show, he tweeted: “I am so fuckin proud. You performed magic tonight.”
- Published July 25, on Rollingstone.com
I wrote a little goodbye letter to my friends at Criminal Records. Read!
Toronto’s Criminal Records closes its doors on Sunday. In honour of them, Melody has written an open letter about the independent record store. (Don’t forget to check out her zine article, People Watching: Record Store Edition, which took place there.)
The first time I walked into Criminal…
During NXNE, Static Zine and Via Sky Blue Sky - two projects I’m part of - teamed up to put together a day show to celebrate the first issue of Static. Fun was had, bands played and cupcakes were decorated and eaten. Via Sky Blue Sky camera guy Brian captured it all for Via Sky Blue Sky’s second episode. Watch now!
My lovely friend Jessica Lewis decided to start a zine a few months back and as a devoted lover of zines (but not ziner myself - is that what you call them? Ziners?) I just had to join!
Technically, I’m the ‘Managing Editor’ of Static but really, all I did was help plan a few things and wrote a couple of articles. The first issue is out now at your local record shops and other locations. Click on the link for a list of places you can find it!
We’re also throwing a launch party on June 19, 2011 at Sky Blue Sky/Christie Pits - click here for more info!
You may not expect it because of Anna Calvi’s seemingly tiny frame and meek speaking voice, but she has quite the commanding stage presence. With the exception of the thumping noises of the rock band on the second floor of the El Mocambo, this was quite possibly the quietest show I’ve witnessed all year. She sang and we listened.
Calvi took her time; she didn’t rush through songs. With that, the singer-guitarist set a serene pace for her set — a pace with which the audience happily complied, standing through every song attentive and pretty much in awe.
Calvi was accompanied by a drummer and a multi-instrumentalist, but she and her guitar were the stars of the performance. The powerful guitar solo on “Rider To The Sea” showcased Calvi’s spectacular ability to create swirling hypnotizing riffs. Her voice was equally as captivating on “The Devil,” a larger-than-life tool, equal parts dramatic and soulful, likening comparisons to someone like Nicole Atkins.
A few key moments were interrupted by the noise upstairs, so what could’ve been beautifully intense, quiet moments in Calvi’s set were filled with loud thumps and distractions from the neighbours above. Without those intrusions, a song like “Love Won’t Be Leaving” would’ve soared even more than it did.
Although Calvi’s onstage persona is a step up from her recorded efforts, there’s still a sense of beautiful restraint to her performance. The singer knows how to give the audience just enough reel them in and leave them wanting more. No matter how late the band’s midnight set ran, it’s sublime delivery made it worth the internal debate of staying for one more song vs. leaving to catch the subway before it closed.
If a relaxing Friday evening was what you were looking for, Calvi satisfied all your needs. Her set may have appeared to be understated at first, but between her voice and her guitar, she left her audience transfixed.
- Published May 30 on Chartattack
Lykke Li knows how to put on a show.
Between the flashing strobe lights, the fog machine, the wind machine and the elaborately draped black fabric, it’s clear Li has studied the makings of an arena-worthy show. That’s exactly how it felt Sunday night in Toronto — big, bold and almost as if we were in the Air Canada Centre instead of the Phoenix Concert Theatre.
The excessive use of fog machines created a dream-like state in which Li whisked us away to where her percussions knock you over the head, collective harmonies resembled a heavenly gospel choir and Li was the ringleader of this show. She was planted front and centre with her band — two drummers, two keyboardists, a guitarist and a back-up singer — positioned around her, and commanded attention. I wasn’t just because of her dramatic black cape.
Although Li’s voice (more powerful and endearing in person) fell short against the pounding drums, her stage presence was magnetic, drawing everyone’s attention with her dancing and overall dramatic flair. That’s something the singer must’ve taken from her love of acting and film.
What really elevated Li’s show was also what highlights her music, though: the percussionists. From the crushing stomp of “Rich Kid Blues” to the infectious rhythms of “Dance Dance Dance,” Li’s drummers really became the star, overshadowing the melodies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Li often joined in on the beats, banging on the drum and cymbal at her side. Still, it was Li who shone on ballads such as “Sadness Is A Blessing,” “Jerome” and the stripped-down “I Know Places,” in which the singer performed solo with a harpsichord.
A Lykke Li show is often meticulously calculated, as shown by the stage setup, but it also allows enough room for the free-spirited Li to dance and improvise with instrumentations. It was that creativity and ability to amp up what was already a bombastic enough new album in a live setting that made Li’s show worth every penny.
- Published May 24 on Chartattack