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The developer reserves the right to make changes and modifications. Pictures, drawings and digital renderings are for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon. E.&O.E.

Welcome to Currie, a master-planned community that connects people, places, and ideas. Located just seven minutes from downtown Calgary, this is a community where connections are made and possibilities are endless.









o u r t ea m FOUNDER & PUBLISHER Mandy Balak



JUNIOR EDITOR Lauren Steeves



on the cover

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A Sound Match: Drew and Danielle McTaggart of Canadian synth-pop band Dear Rouge have a whole lot of chemistry onstage and off. Read their story on page 44. Danielle is wearing an Acne leather jacket, A.P.C. shirt, Acne jeans, all from Gravity Pope. Ralph Lauren belt.

from us to you One thing bout music when it hits you feel no pain The Verve is our ode to Calgary’s and Canada’s music scene. It’s the vigour, spirit, and enthusiasm one puts into something. Verve inspires, energizes, and electrifies – it’s more that just a feeling, it’s an energy. You can feel it radiating around the city, in audiences and in crowds. In a year that’s brought us down economically, Calgarians aren’t allowing their positivity to falter. In fact, YYC is about to bring more verve than ever. The Year of Music has amplified the energy in Calgary, and we are feeling the buzz – not the one-too-many-tequila-shots kind of buzz – just like, a spiritual buzz. This is because of the incredible time of celebration that we’re experiencing and we’ll continue to experience it for a long time yet. This year promises a lot of musical excitement: the 2016 Juno Awards and affiliated events, the opening of the National Music Centre, the 50th anniversary of the Alberta Ballet and so much more. Calgary-specific annual events such as the Peak Performance Project, Folk Fest, and Sled Island always make their shows worth the wait. If you need to satisfy your craving for stellar sounds between those showcases, there’s venues in every neighbourhood that deliver live music on the daily, all year round. Of course, we can’t forget to give a nod to local publications like BeatRoute and Freq that are dedicated to getting us hyped, and bring us stories about local, national and international musicians on a regular basis. When Canadians think of burgeoning music hubs, Calgary’s diverse music scene can sometimes slip under the radar. The reality is, we live in an incredibly collaborative and creative community, one that loves to foster the ever-growing music scene. Our cover story features Juno nominated synth-pop band Dear Rouge, led by Danielle McTaggart and her husband Drew. Their story is unbelievable, one of inspiration and determination – and just a touch of luck. We also speak to RnB Soul newcomer Alessia Cara, a budding young Canadian songstress (who is also a Juno nominee this year). Cara tells us about the obstacles she’s faced so far, and how she plans to defy the odds of the pop-princess label that’s all to familiar for artists her age. Another killer female musician, isKwé, is a badass singer-songwriter from Manitoba with a Cree, Dené and Irish background. When we say badass we mean it – she is banned from playing at Harper events due to her honest and explicit lyrics about topics like missing and murdered Aboriginal women and the environmental effects of the tar sands. Relax as we drop the needle and explore the recent resurgence of vinyl by speaking to some local pros about the retro audio experience and why it has come back in a major way. By exploring the power of sound and the benefits of music therapy, we learn about the incredible method of treatment, and how it’s bettering the quality of peoples’ lives in Calgary and elsewhere. One of the highlights of this issue was getting to speak to a handful of Calgary music industry’s most recognizable faces. These folks work tirelessly to make sure you hear music all year, every year – so it only made sense that we’d give them some well-deserved props. They are introduced by non-other than His Worship Mayor Nenshi, who tells us what’s up in the YYC music scene in his own words. We’ve also created a list of some of the best places to grab grub while you jam – with some insider tips so you don’t show up to The Gateway in a bow tie or heels. Wherever you go for your tunes, you’re bound to catch music fever, and when you do, we’ll be ready to rock right along with you. So Calgary, turn it up and get your verve on – we know you want to.

Photo by: Shane Arsenault.

want to contribute? Want to talk to the team? Give us a shout.

contributors Adam Culligan, Alex Kool, Alisha Gionet, Asim Overstands, Cath Wood, Colleen Krueger, Conor McGrath, Courtney Manson, Dave Truscott, David Cree, Hannah Cree, Hazel Anderson, Jenna-Wade Kozak, Jessica Pechet, Jordan Mabey, Katie Tetz, Kayla Mann, Kelley McKinlay, Kim Noseworthy, Lauren Larsen, Megan Wilson, Milena Petrovic, Mirissa Kampf, Shane Arsenault, Shirley Vuong, Tieran Green

IN THIS ISSUE Drew and Danielle McTaggart of Dear Rouge are the definition of a dynamic duo: 端ber talented, Juno nominated and a seriously awesome married couple.








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LOVE THIS CITY Kayla Mann knows how to make a girl feel good in front of the camera. Read about her inspirational style of boudoir photography and how she provides her clients with much more than just sexy, tasteful snapshots for their photo albums.




INSIGHT + INSPIRATION We love unique photographers. Whether you’re behind the scenes, on top, or upand-coming, we will track you down. Here’s who caught our eye this issue.


What originally got you into photography? “I was a freestyle skier growing up and I actually blew both my knees skiing when I was around 17 years old. Since I was so into that sport, over the years it dropped me out of the high school crowd. To stay in the industry with all my friends I picked up a camera and started photographing for a free skiing magazine and smaller publications. I took this interest to university as a part-time gig to make extra money and shot everything from babies to families.”

KAYLA MANN Instagram: @mannipulator Portfolio: Followers: 3k Age: 24

How did your knack for boudoir photography come about? “It wasn’t until recently, like a year ago, that I got the actual drive to do the whole boudoir side of things. I photographed my roommate one time. She was a part-time model in town for Numa Models so I was doing some portrait work for her just in classic Calvin Kleins, and then girls started coming to me wondering if they could do that as well for their boyfriends and stuff. The responses I got from it were so big that I just kept doing it and doing it. I’m now a fulltime chartered accountant as well, and my company is totally cool with it because of how much I love it. It’s pretty sweet I can do both.” You actually modelled in a boudoir photo shoot of your own, what was that like? “Different. I realized how much more of an open person I became after starting to do it, but also I realized how critical I still am about myself. With my photography I give anywhere from 50 images, it usually ends up being more. So it’s a no bullshit approach. It’s one package and they get everything because what I like isn’t necessarily going to be what someone posing likes. For me that was a big thing for women too – to get a whole range of looks within one shoot, because over time things can hold different meaning to you than they do now.” How does photographing boudoir photos make you feel? “I’ve never felt more empowered. I’m five foot; I was overweight back in the day. I’ve done a lot to get myself in an image that I’m happy with. If I can do anything to help women feel that and have a moment like that, it’s like nothing else.” Do you have a specific shoot or photograph that really meant a lot to you? “I think my biggest one to date is a girl in Vancouver. I had no mutual contacts with her; she sought me out through Instagram. I went and shot her in Yaletown. She was maybe four inches taller than me, and she lost 70 pounds in under a year and she had skin everywhere. She was very uncomfortable with it but she approached me before getting a tummy tuck, to really finalize her transition. Her giving me that power and that confidence, the fact that she trusted me to make her feel sexy before she made that big transition was huge for me.” Your photos aren’t photoshopped or posed, why is that? “To be honest, this whole thing that I’ve created, I feel like it’s more of a social requirement. It’s the absolute coolest, and I’m the one who is so straight up with things. I hate stereotypes and I hate this whole new social media picture perfect, can’t have a shitty photo, can’t have acne, can’t have a chin zit – stuff like that just bugs me. It’s fun to bring people back down to Earth and help them realize they’re great how they are right now. That’s my drive.”




GEMS: kensington 10 ST NW

10A ST NW b.

c. f.

11 ST NW e.


kensington RD NW


While we often favour the hustle and bustle of downtown life, the truth is Calgary’s coolness extends far beyond the core. Each issue we’ll bring you our favourite places to eat, sweat, shop, and explore in different pockets of the city.

words by Lauren Steeves

a. PRLR LOUNGE 124 10 St NW

b. RAW CANVAS 200-1130 Kensington Road

PRLR may be the newest lounge on the block, but it’s well seasoned in its cocktail concoctions. At PRLR, you won’t ever go thirsty since it has an amazing mix of your favourite classics and innovative cocktails like the Gunsmoke: a mixture of pisco, lemon juice, maple syrup, and Red Alder smoked sea salt. Not only does PRLR serve killer cocktails, it also has tasty food to chow down on should your hunger strike. Its share plates include a Ploughman’s lunch (similar to a charcuterie board) and bourbon candied bacon. With PRLR’s vintage décor, you’ll feel like you entered a study or library with its brown leather booths, plush love seats, dim lighting and piles of old books spread throughout. So if PRLR’s the new modern-day library, chances are you’ll be hitting the books more than you did during your degree.

Raw Canvas is all about getting your creative juices flowing, while your relationships are growing. This new local business brings together a triple threat of wine, food and paint all in one space. Guests can purchase a canvas and paint, while at the same time socializing and indulging in delicious food and drink. At Raw Canvas, there’s no need to be intimidated if you’re not the next Picasso – they encourage you to paint outside the lines. Plus, we think we can all agree that wine can sometimes boost our creativity, or at least help us let Gogh. If you don’t have the room for your masterpiece, don’t fret, Raw Canvas will store it for you.

c. THE PLAZA THEATRE 1133 Kensington Road NW


The Plaza Theatre is a true historical treasure in the heart of Kensington. This iconic movie theatre has showed us the best alternative films and hosted the coolest events for over 75 years. Because of its rich history, The Plaza Theatre offers a unique movie experience that you just won’t find anywhere else in the city. If you want to make your date night extra romantic, consider hitting up The Plaza for your next movie. You can avoid the long lines, the screaming kids and you’ll get to sneak a kiss or two without anyone catching you red handed. If you want to go super romantic, The Plaza also rents out its space for private events and will even play your partner’s favourite movie. I hope all the men in YYC are taking note.

Swizzlesticks Salon Spa has been making our city look fierce and ohso-pretty for the past 25 years. Without a doubt, Swizzlesticks has got its beauty game locked down and can literally do it all. Its services range from women’s and men’s cuts and colours, to makeup services, and RMT-delivered massages, facials, waxing and tinting. If you are looking for some much needed R&R, consider getting one of its spa treatments like the Inspiritu Hot Stone Ritual, which uses hot stones to relieve muscle tension and calm your body, and includes a soak in its Chroma-Therapy Ultra-Tub. This is one of many Swizzlesticks’ treatments that will leave you refreshed, revitalized and renewed. With its knowledgeable and highly trained staff, there’s no chance you’ll leave Swizzlesticks looking and feeling less than a 10.

e. PURR 1220 Kensington Road NW

f. HIGHER GROUND 1126 Kensington Road

When it comes to fashion, Purr’s game is purrfectly on point. This local boutique sells some of the trendiest clothes for both men and women that are bound to up the fashion game in YYC. Purr’s clothing includes casual pieces that are perfect for hitting up a local show or chilling at home, but also has dressier pieces that will allow you to slay your date night look. Purr also sells jewelry and home accessories like lunch totes and candles making it a one-stop shop. But we will warn you, if you visit Purr you definitely won’t be leaving empty handed.

We all know coffee is what gets us through Mondays. And Tuesdays. And Wednesdays. And let’s be real, the entire week. So when you are deciding where to get your next caffeine fix, why not invest in the best? Higher Ground serves the freshest coffee that is completely organic, shade-grown and directly traded. Everything about this local coffee company is all about promoting sustainability to create a better world for us all. And if that wasn’t enough, this quaint coffee shop also serves delicious eats like breakfast burritos, mac n’ cheese and quinoa salads. With Higher Ground’s spacious environment, big comfy chairs and cozy atmosphere, it will easily become your favourite workspace or go-to date spot.



Meet your Neighbours

Catching up with Jodi Willoughby & Carolyne McIntyre Jackson words by Lauren Steeves / photo by Krystal Boyd

Kensington gives everyone who wanders through it a perfect snapshot of our city. From the natural beauty of the river and its greenery alongside Memorial Drive, to the active and youthful lifestyle that is embodied in Calgarians as they cycle to work, to the entrepreneurial spirit that ignites our city. There is an amazing selection of businesses sprinkled throughout this scenic neighbourhood, and one of the city’s favourite (and tastiest) locations is a bakery called Crave. Some people think that cupcakes are ‘so yesterday’, a trend that’s come and gone. But considering Crave’s been operating for 11 years and expanded to have four Calgary locations and one in Edmonton and Saskatoon, sisters and co-founders Jodi Willoughby and Caroline McIntyre Jackson are proving they are two smart cookies.

Why cupcakes? C: “I think because those other niche areas [cookies and cakes] were already covered by the market.” J: “And we just knew we had this really great recipe, and it was right before the surge of the cupcake shops. You saw this thing happening in New York, there were these cupcake shops, and we thought, ‘If they can do cupcakes down there, we can do cupcakes up here’ – so that was really why.”

How did you two start baking? C: “We grew up on a farm just outside of High River, so our whole family baked, our grandmas, our aunts, our mom. We always had buckets of frozen cookies in the basement, and our mom always baked our birthday cakes, so I grew up really baking a lot with my mom. Jodi and our younger sister rode horses and did more farm activities than I did. It worked out well because they would go out and move cattle with our dad, and I would be inside with my mom and we’d bake cookies. We always, always, always baked.”

Did you encounter any naysayers when you first opened? C: “Oh yeah. People would tell stories saying, ‘Oh we live in Kensington. My husband and I bet on whether or not you guys would last the year.’ That is no joke.” J: “When we first opened people would come in and say, ‘You’re going to make a living selling cupcakes?’ And I said, ‘I’m sure going to try.’ And then we have the supporters, like this one guy that came in and said, ‘Farm girls using real butter, love it.’”

Jodi, did you have any doubts when Carolyne approached you with the idea of Crave? J: “No, not at all. I jumped right in. I don’t even think I hesitated, and I was on a career path. I was working for a smaller organization, but I didn’t even hesitate. Everybody was like, ‘Well you didn’t grow up baking?’ And no, I didn’t. I learned how to bake in this kitchen. Carolyne taught me how to bake.” What inspires your baking? C: “I think it really comes down to family recipes and simple and traditional ingredients. There’s nothing super fancy, our objective is to always make it the best. So there will be a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookie and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my god if it’s the best chocolate chip cookie, we better go make it then.’ If it is better than ours, then we better make sure that it’s no longer better than ours.” J: “We have a kitchen table at our head office, and we’ll sit around and create all of these collaborations. It’s really a big team collaborative effort for sure.”

Why did you choose to first open in Kensington? C: “We just loved the vibe. We loved the community atmosphere. We just really liked the feel of Kensington when we first started 12 years ago.”

Where do you see Crave in the next five years? C: “It’s tough for us to say right now. I mean we definitely love what we do every single day. Having stores in different cities is challenging. We are women that have children, and there’s a real fine balance between what you can and cannot do. So a big thing for us right now is the rebranding. For our rebranding, we want to get out of that niche of being just cupcakes.” J: “I’d say it’s about working on our culture and working on our products. We have such a great base, but I think it’s our year to strive for just that much better.” Any advice for young entrepreneurs in Calgary? C: “I always kind of go back to the fact that you really need to be passionate about what you are going to do. It’s a lot of hard work and I think people always think that it’s going to be easy. You have to be really true to yourself. It has to encompass who you are.” J: “I think that’s one of the reasons why Crave has been as successful as it is because the business that we run is very true to who we are as people. So it’s not like we are trying to run something that’s different than how we live our lives.”





D N O U F YYC O S E H T We asked some of Calgary’s most notable music industry professionals about their jobs and their passions for music. In their own unique ways they successfully deliver the sound of music to the masses through a variety of different mediums. These folks represent just a few of the many incredible individuals and organizations that work tirelessly to support, create and showcase music in our city. A huge Calgary music supporter is Mayor Naheed Nenshi. His Worship is the person who officially proclaimed 2016 the Year of Music, so we figured who better than him to introduce this collaborative and celebratory feature?

“The music community in Calgary is incredibly supportive of one another. In a lot of other cities it’s a real dog-eat-dog kind of environment, but here people celebrate one another’s successes and help others get better, which I think is pretty exciting. I think a lot of people across the country, but particularly a lot of Calgarians, don’t know the incredible depth and breadth of the stuff that goes on here. I’ve already had several really big Year of Music experiences that stick out in my mind. One was the world premiere of The Little Prince at Theatre Calgary, and the other was a wonderful show called Life, Death and the Blues at Alberta Theatre Projects, a part of the High Performance Rodeo. Through the rest of the year we are going to have the opening of the National Music Centre, Studio Bell and we are going to have the new Decidedly Jazz Danceworks dance centre opening, which is going to be the first purpose-built dance performance space in Calgary. And of course, I am hugely looking forward to the Junos. Music in Calgary is incredibly vibrant and diverse, and this is precisely because of those who work to create such an exciting music environment.” – Mayor Naheed Nenshi

photos by Krystal Boyd BRANDED | 21

(Marsh, Jardine-Olade, Kitteringham, Grier, Vitalis)


JESSICA MARSH Programs Coordinator, Alberta Music (South Office in NMC) Additional gigs: Musician

SHEENA JARDINE-OLADE Managing Editor/Co-Founder, Freq Magazine Additional gigs: DJ, Promoter

“As a programs coordinator I coordinate all the programs in both Edmonton and Calgary. There’s a lot of things going on that I’m privileged to be a part of and represent as a staff member from Calgary. The best part for sure is getting to work with my friends, just because of the way the music community is. We’re a pretty tight knit group so it’s fulfilling to be able to further the careers of Alberta artists and also because you have personal relationships with them and you really want to see them succeed in what they’re doing. I just moved here in May 2015, and I’ve come to find that Calgary has a great live music structure established, and they have a great live music audience and fan base here. For me, as a musician myself, it was really exciting for me to come here and have the opportunity to play and watch live music in incredible listening rooms that really are set up to be open to the general public.”

“Freq came about because my roommate at the time, Paul Brooks, and I were discussing how electronic music culture deserved a little bit more of a shine. We realized that it’s become like a cultural institution where it dictated what people did in their lives. Not only were people interested in electronic music, they were interested in architecture, design, travel – they were well-rounded people. We thought there was an opportunity for a magazine to cover all those different aspects of someone’s life. An amazing part of my job is that a lot of people come to me who don’t have a journalism degree, and I help them realize that their passion should not be dictated by what their educational training is. We’re willing to foster and help them grow if they want to express themselves through words – that makes me really excited. Being completely and totally immersed in new music, new ideas and people pitching me stuff – having my ear to the ground of the Calgary music scene, that’s something I find very attractive about my position at Freq. I think the music scene in Calgary is amazing. It’s going to get even better.”

SARAH KITTERINGHAM Production Manager, Canada Boy Vinyl Additional gigs: Shrapnel Editor at BeatRoute Magazine, Freelance Writer for Noisey, Exclaim! Music and Iron First Magazine, Programmer at CJSW

WILLOW GRIER Calgary Beat Editor, BeatRoute Magazine

“I really love being involved in the music scene. I think we have a really great base in Calgary. For a long time this city hasn’t had a lot of industry support and so to have more people here be stepping up to those more industry-oriented roles is really great to see. The most important part for me is being able to expose all of these local bands in Calgary who really haven’t national support in the past. People who are in the know in Calgary know exactly what is going on. I think for a lot of people it’s difficult because Calgary is such a commuteroriented city, it can be hard for people who’ve recently moved here or don’t spend a lot of time downtown to know about the music scene. This city is actually probably one of the highest producing arts cities in Canada, if not the highest. People are starting to notice that, which is a really positive thing.”

“Getting to work with really passionate people is the best. A lot of times you get to write about music that you’re really stoked about, but working for BeatRoute it’s been really fun to meet a lot of my heroes in the industry, bands that I’ve followed for a long time, artists I really look up to, or even just bands that I know locally. It’s really exciting to get to shine some light on people that are doing really awesome things and they might not be getting a lot of attention otherwise. The Calgary music scene is blossoming, it’s been happening for a long time, but I think only recently people have – on a global scale – been picking up on it. Part of it is musicians breaking out and starting to play bigger and bigger festivals, and part of it the upsurge of the Internet fan base that’s been happening, there’s a lot more opportunity to network without having to spend a ton of money and tour.”

CHANTAL VITALIS Artistic Associate, Folk Fest Additional gigs: Musician “I just like being involved in something that is so important to the city. I think there’s a really good DIY attitude here. It’s an expensive city to live in, and I think it’s exponentially more expensive if you want to live the life of an artist here in Calgary. I think people go out of their way to make things happen for themselves. I think it’s a good scene in that everybody kind of knows everybody else. I think there’s an amazing music scene here. I feel sometimes like the rest of the world has some catching up to do. I think that it’s been so under the radar for so long here in Calgary, but I always feel like ‘Oh this is the year that something big is going to happen here’, and I still feel that every year.” BRANDED | 23

(Curtis, Saunders, Atkinson, Brooks)


GREG CURTIS Owner, Tooth Blackner Presents “Tooth Blackner Presents is 11 years old this year. I started in the music business at the University of Calgary booking MacEwan Ballroom, and as that developed we built MacEwan Hall a few years later, which is about twice the size. I was booking both of those and I started getting busy with side projects as well. I took my job at MacEwan Hall and made it a contract to a company with Tooth Blackner Presents, which I started up. There’s something about a job where you get to do a task in which the end result is that people are having fun and getting entertained. The best part of the job is when that show finally hits the stage, the headliner finally hits the stage, and you’re standing there and you look around and you see the joy on people’s faces. You realize you had a part in making that happen, that’s the best part. It’s fun to make people have fun.”

MYKE ATKINSON Station Manager, CJSW 90.9 FM “It’s cool that I get to be in a place where all of these amazing DJs are coming in every single day and they’re passionate about bringing their views, and their music, and their culture to the rest of Calgary. I think Calgary’s music scene is one of the best scenes in North America to be honest. We have something incredible in this city. There’s a lot of people outside of Calgary that don’t know it, because it’s actually very hard to get out of Calgary, which I think plays into why it’s such a good scene. The local scene develops within itself, which means there’s a lot of sharing of resources, it’s a small scene, a lot of cross-pollination between genres, different genres playing together and I think that overall strengthens the quality of music being created here. It hasn’t exploded yet and part of that is we’ve had a hard time exporting our artists outside Calgary. But it’s changing every day. It’s not going to be one of those things that will happen overnight. It’s been developing for years and will continue to develop for years. That’s a good thing – because if it just exploded overnight it might become one of those flash in the pan things, and that’s not what musicians in Calgary deserve. The level of quality that’s brimming right now – there’s going to be some wins coming up over the next little while that will definitely be bringing some eyes in this direction.”

CHAD SAUNDERS Director of Operations and Special Projects, National Music Centre “I think if there’s one thing to come out of this year it’s that while there’s an industry part of music, I think Calgary has a really great music community. And that community can be showcased from initiatives like National Music Centre and Studio Bell opening up this year. There are a lot of birthdays and anniversaries like Calgary Phil Harmonic turning 60 last year, Sled Island turning 10 this year and the Music Mile initiative starting up. When you think of this year as the Year of Music, I really hope that it provides the incubus to make it ‘Years’ of Music, pluralizing ‘years’. I think if I had to describe Calgary’s music scene I would say that our music scene is far more diverse than anyone would think or expect. I think there are so many undiscovered pockets in Calgary’s music scene. I think Calgary has a lot of good infrastructure, but could use more to encourage a better music scene. The bar scene and the live music scene where you can go out on weeknights and weekends to see music is bordering on some of the best in the country.”

PAUL BROOKS Music Business Teacher, Beat Drop Music Production and DJ School Additional gigs: Programmer at CJSW, Manager at HIFI nightclub (communications and promotions) “It’s hard to find people that are really stoked to go to work everyday. I love working at all my jobs, and I’m always excited to tackle new projects, work with new people, experience new music and help facilitate new musical experiences for Calgarians. Working at Beat Drop, it’s really inspiring to see the students that come through the program and hear their perspectives. The teachers at Beat Drop are incredible too. I’m really into the electronic music side of things in Calgary. There are promoters and groups that work together and there’s less extreme competition between different promotional groups like I see in other cities. This helps make our scene more progressive. I love the local festivals like Sled Island; I wish Calgary could be like that all the time. I love when there’s music flowing out of every venue, when people are focusing on riding their bikes and engaging with our local arts organizations – when the streets are alive. I think we’re moving towards something more like that.”


off the record how vinyl spun Its way back WORDS BY: LAUREN STEEVES ART BY: SHIRLEY VUONG


Oh how the tables have turned. Although records were once thought to be riding the wave into oblivion, the past decade has proven otherwise. With records seeing a substantial boost in sales, popularity, and overall coolness, the once-doomed technology is experiencing an incredible resurgence. And honestly who would have thought? As shown time and time again in the realm of technology, as soon as a newer and trendier form comes along, people hop on the bandwagon quicker than Kanye stealing a mic from Taylor Swift. But it seems that when it comes to records, people are making sound decisions. The history RCA Victor created the first commercial record in the 1930s and marketed it as “program transcription” discs with a playback at 331/3 rpm, pressed on a 12” diameter plastic disc. But RCA Victor’s invention was no commercial victory. Not only were consumers unsure, but they also couldn’t justify purchasing the product during the struggle of the Great Depression. However, RCA Victor’s creation wasn’t a total loss, as he was able to introduce vinyl resins, which was harder and finer than shellac (wax). Using vinyl allowed a substantial increase in the number of grooves from 80-100 grooves to 224-226. So what the heck does all this mean? What’s grooves got to do with it? Well, quite simply, the more grooves, the more music. In 1939, Columbia Records was hellbent on turning this technology into something big. So Dr. Peter Goldmark and his team worked tirelessly to resolve prior issues of recording and playing back narrow grooves, to create a new medium that would be inexpensive, desirable and reliable. They also wanted a record that would be able to hold more music, but wouldn’t compromise the quality of sound. Nearly a decade later, during a press conference in New York, Columbia Records unveiled its upgraded version of the original record. This new technology was an unbreakable, 12-inch, microgroove disc that could hold 23 minutes of music per side. But RCA Victor wasn’t going to let

Columbia Records get all the glory. And with that the “War of Speeds” began, with RCA and Columbia battling back and forth on who would emerge with the better record. The result? Columbia’s 331/3 rmp would become the most common LP format, and RCA’s 45 rmp would become the most popular single format. So just like both Drake and Biebs won your heart this year in completely different ways, both Columbia and RCA earned their place in the record realm. Digital domination While the record spun its way into becoming a household staple from the ‘50s to the late-‘70s, its popularity came to a crashing halt in the ‘80s with the compact disc. The CD was able to win the hearts of the masses with its smaller size and its durability, as it was less likely to scratch. But what the CD had in design and practicality, it lacked in quality of sound compared to the classic record. However, it wasn’t enough to keep most music enthusiasts from trading their records for CDs. Fast forward to 2000 and a new music format is introduced – the MP3. With Apple’s newest innovations, the iPod and iTunes, the masses flocked to this new technology since it offered convenience and practicality allowing people to listen to their tunes anytime, anywhere and on nearly any device. With consumers loving this new easy way to access and listen to music, CDs began to lose their competitive edge and records were considered a retro thing of the past. Quicker than Beyonce dropping her digital album, our music preferences drastically changed, as we fully embraced the digital age. And for most people, when it came to music, size really did matter. The resurgence We’ve all heard the saying, “What’s old is new again,” but when it comes to technology, that’s hardly ever the case. I mean we don’t see people busting out VCRs and flip phones – well unless you’re Adele in the Hello music video. So when vinyl records saw a 15 per cent rise in worldwide sales in 2007, which steadily increased each year after

that, it was clear that vinyl wasn’t just music to hipsters’ ears, but was instead experiencing an epic resurgence. In fact, YYC alone is home to over 10 independent record stores, and as of September 2015, it’s also home to Canada’s only record pressing plant, Canada Boy Vinyl – proving records mean more to us than a little nostalgia. Al Cohen, Recordland owner, says he noticed the shift towards vinyl about five years ago, with more young people pining to own a piece of the past. “We saw that same shift in the late ‘80s to the mid-‘90s when people would come in with three big boxes of 300 records and then would say, ‘Oh I don’t want my records anymore I just want CDs,’ and they would take three CDs for their 300 records. They would take the exact same CDs as the records in their box. And now what’s happening is the complete opposite where people bring me 300 CDs and tell me that they want just three records. And they’ll take records that they already have on CD as well. It’s weird the way it works.” With vinyl moving from a garage sale staple, to having an entire section devoted to it at retailers like Urban Outfitters and Lukes Drug Mart, it leads one to wonder what’s behind this cultural phenomenon? Gareth Lukes, owner of Lukes Drug Mart, credits it to people wanting a physical form of music and a totally different listening experience. “Vinyl is the only physical alternative that exists now – that’s somewhat acceptable to people. I think it’s also a collector’s thing for a lot of people. I think the other thing that’s really important with vinyl too is the listening experience is a lot different. When people are listening to music on their iPods or iPhones, they are putting their playlists on shuffle or something like that and they aren’t really experiencing the album. But with a record on vinyl, listening to both sides is a whole different experience than just scanning through songs, or listening to playlists.” Dean Reid, commanding officer of Canada Boy Vinyl, echoes that statement saying, “As more people get turned on to it, I think they realize why they were so awesome in the first place.


There’s something tangible there, there’s something real to it, there’s something collectible about it and there’s something valuable. Like the fact that you can hold onto a record jacket and actually look at cool artwork and read liner notes while you’re listening to the record. I mean a lot of that part of it has been taken out of the mix with the digital market. So I think the new generation is catching on to why dad’s record collection was always so special to him.” Music to your ears When it comes to a vinyl listening experience there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Listening to music on vinyl is like drinking a glass of expensive wine, whereas listening to music from a MP3 is like drinking strawberry vodka – both will get you drunk, but let’s face it, you appreciate one more than the other. Record enthusiast and Recordland employee Dylan Harrison explains the sound difference between vinyl and digital saying, “There’s a lot of warmth that comes with listening to an analog recording versus listening to a digital recording, and that’s also some of the appeal that comes with it. Especially with older people that have always sort of listened to records and they compare them to CDs, and it’s never been the same since listening to that one old record.” When you ask Lukes why he chooses vinyl over digital, he says it’s all about the mood a record sets. “I think it’s the experience. I think it’s that whole idea of having people over and throwing on a record. It’s a whole different experience than just throwing your iPod on – even the process of flipping the record over when a side is done. There’s that warmth with vinyl that you can’t recreate with anything else.” And with over 9.2 million vinyl albums sold in 2014, it’s clear that Lukes and Harrison aren’t the only ones that appreciate the vinyl experience. In fact, record pressing companies are actually having a hard time keeping up with consumers’ demand. “There’s such a high demand for records right now that they can’t even press them fast enough. 28 | LOVE THIS CITY

The new David Bowie is sold out everywhere that it will be probably six months before we see it. Basically every single record pressing plant on earth is a six-month to a one-year wait just to get these records pressed. It’s crazy right now. They can’t even make them fast enough,” says Cohen. Reid says that people need to understand that pressing records has its own unique challenges. “The biggest challenge is split into two. The first is the difficulties of building a production line from scratch using equipment that’s from the ‘70s is definitely difficult. Secondly, we are kind of all alone here in Canada. There’s hardly anybody that knows anything about record pressing in Canada, so we have to figure most of it out for ourselves. Sometimes it’s pretty cold and lonely up in the Great White North.” But luckily Reid says the vinyl industry is more like a community now compared to the competitive vibes that existed in the ‘30s. “I found that there’s sort of this community that’s based around the vinyl, even with other record pressing plants or people that do know what’s going on. Instead of this super competitive thing they are like ‘Look the more record pressing plants that get into business and get records out there is just going to make for a stronger future for vinyl. People aren’t going to have to wait so long to get their records.’ So I find there’s just a lot of help and support from these people. They’re like, ‘Look there’s plenty of room in the sandbox, why don’t we just try and help each other out instead of fighting over everything.’” Fad or needle to the future?

There’s no doubt that vinyl is music’s comeback kid, but many are still skeptical as to whether records are truly here to stay. While Gen Y and Millennials are huge contributors to the resurgence, a lot of people are claiming it’s just the hipster crowd buying into it, and well, they change their minds more than Snoop Lion changes his name. But Lukes says that’s the biggest misconception about records – that toque-clad, skinny jeans, Conversewearing kids are the only ones buying them.

“You look at our average customer that’s buying vinyl and he or she is not your stereotypical Portland hipster. They are like the average person you went to school with. That’s the people that are buying vinyl. It’s the same people that bought CDs 10 or 15 years ago – it’s the music buying public. I think that’s one thing I really like about it, it’s becoming less elitist in a lot of ways which I think is really good.” And with artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande dabbling in the vinyl game – and no I’m not lying – it’s obviously more than just a hipster trend. But will vinyl stand the test of time? “I think that records will always be there. I think that anybody that’s serious about music will collect physical format music. I think the download world will always be there too. But I think the download world is going to attempt to smarten up and give you CD quality sound,” says Cohen. Harrison agrees saying, “It’s almost the ultimate way to own a piece of music. It’s the most displayable. It’s the most pleasant to look at. It just has that better feeling altogether.” For only being 17, Harrison is already record junkie with a personal collection of 2,300 records. “When you get the bug it’s hard to stop. You tend to use every opportunity you can to buy up records. I’m quite the bargain hunter myself so I go to garage sales and try to find records for next to nothing. It’s fun when you find something for a dollar and to you it’s worth way more than that.” And with Cohen’s personal collection at over an astounding 20,000, I ask him if he’d ever give them up. His response is just what you’d expect from a true music lover, “Never. You’d have to pry them out of my cold dead hands.” Only time will tell if records are truly here to stay, but watch out. Before you know it vinyl could be spinning you right round, baby right round. Once you’ve heard a piece of the past, there’s no turning back from that.

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre Opening Summer 2016




LIVING Future superstar alert – 19-year-old Juno nominated songstress Alessia Cara has had all eyes on her since her break-out single Here climbed the charts all the way to number one.





c re at o r

Thoughts and anecdotes from some of YYC’s most motivational peeps

i nn ova tor

Colleen Krueger

Artist Management, Promotions, Talent Buyer MusicYYC, Landlocked Management

I feel very lucky to live in a city where creativity and innovation are welcomed with open arms. Calgary is a city I now proudly call home. I grew up in Hamilton Ontario, where I went to my first shows when I was 13 at the Hamilton Legion. When I was 16, I used to travel between Montreal and Toronto to see bands like; Coheed and Cambria, Death From Above 1979, Sonic Youth and so many more (I still have a little box with the ticket stubs) some twice in the same weekend. You can safely presume I am a touch obsessed with music. A French lady once told me there was a word for me, Mélomane, which translates to ‘music lover’, so naturally I got it tattooed. When I listen to music I feel incredibly inspired and connected. Much of the time I feel like it is an extension of my own emotions, and since I don’t have the same capacity to present my emotions through music, I have simply fallen in love with those who can. I left Hamilton and travelled around for some time, until I found myself in Calgary in 2011. At the time, I didn’t have a clear vision of what I was going to do here, and in all honesty – I didn’t think Calgary had that much going on (which is a much different story today). Over the past five years I feel I have witnessed a transformation in Calgary, and today it is bursting at the seams with amazing creativity. 32 | LIVING

It’s truly the tipping point for many creative industries here and a very exciting time to be in YYC (so happy I stayed.) With the spotlight on Calgary this year, there is so much going on with the announcement of the Year of Music in Calgary: the Juno Awards, the NMC opening, the 50th Anniversary of the Alberta Ballet, as well as the 10th anniversary of Sled Island. Over the past four years I have worked in the music industry, but only this past year have I been able to make it a full-time job. It all began when I offered to design posters and take photos at shows for my brother’s band, Double Fuzz. Then, I started talking to them about booking shows (so I would have more shows to design posters for) and this led to me meeting more bands and more music enthusiasts in the city. I found that I really enjoyed booking shows and getting to know other local artists, so I started to think of ways that I could get to know more musicians. This is how the idea came about for MusicYYC, which began as a website to list profiles for local bands. Social media has become a strong platform to share local events, festivals and news for the Calgary community. Around this same time I also founded a booking/management company by the name of Landlocked Agency. I was finding it hard to book shows and especially tours outside of Calgary with my personal email, so I thought a business name and email would help to best represent what I was trying to accomplish. I knew after booking a few tours that I wanted to focus my energy on being an artist manager more than an agent, so I changed the name of the company to Landlocked Management in order to realign this focus. Landlocked has been the home to artists such as: Double Fuzz, JJ Shiplett, and is currently home to Beach Season and 36?. I have also worked with a number of other local and Canadian artists, consulting on project planning, tours, and general development. My day-to-day work includes a lot of administration, talking with other music professionals about upcoming opportunities, booking shows, writing grants, planning tours, making travel plans for the tours,

dealing with publicity inquiries, business management, talking with lawyers, and working alongside agents and labels. Being an artist’s manager is much more than going to shows and hanging out with musicians. Picture the wheel of a bike; the manager is the hub of the wheel, the artists are the wheel itself and every spoke is an element of the artists’ career (agent, label, video, merchandise, business management etc.) If one of the spokes is out of whack, then the wheel will not move forward steadily, it will wobble. The manager’s job is to make sure all the spokes are well balanced so that the wheel can continue on. My job is a very dynamic one. I can safely say I learn something new everyday. I find it takes high levels of troubleshooting skills to sort out all the plans and make sure things are running smoothly. There are numerous moving parts, many personal relationships to maintain and a continuous stream of opportunities to plan in order to make an artists career take shape. Both MusicYYC and Landlocked Management have given me the platforms I needed to best share and present Calgary’s music and work with the artists that inspire me everyday. Where I am today in my own career is nothing I could have imagined four years ago when I offered to simply design a poster. I realize that I still have so much to learn and that is exciting because my job has a very high ceiling of endless possibilities. If you have a creative and innovative idea, I would recommend taking the leap. What harm is there in trying it out and seeing where it leads you?

“Over the past five years I feel I have witnessed a transformation in Calgary and today it is bursting at the seams with amazing creativity.“


www.y West Real Estate

Zach – 403 984 9876 Jack – 403 984 9884

@y ycretailteam


x Entrepreneurship

Chasing your dreams, changing the game, choosing adventures – there’s a lot to think about when you’re an up-and-coming Calgarian. When it comes to making your ambitions a reality, the struggle is real. So here’s a column that aims to inspire action and provide advice. It’s not your typical financial advice – it’s more like cool stories that sometimes happen to be about money.

Jordan Ostrom – or as you might know her, Sykamore – grew up loving music. But when she was 18, she decided to take it a step further. “I understood it was one of those things that if you don’t give it your all, you probably shouldn’t try to do it. It’s one of those things that’s all or nothing. It’s not a glamorous story, by any means.” Ostrom, 25, is a Calgary-based country musician. She’s at the start of a promising career in music that’s already taken her to Nashville, where she works on recording and writing, and to Halifax for last year’s Juno Awards, where she was nominated for a Discovery Award. One of her songs was just featured on the TV show Heartland, and she’s performed with many Canadian musicians in Calgary and across Canada. Her success, she says, has come from drive and patience. “I had to do a fair bit of research because I really wanted to understand what I was getting into. Everything else just kind of fell into place after,” she says. Even in the short time since her career started, there have been lots of changes in the music industry. Album sales aren’t what they used to be, the live show is more important than ever, and streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify have changed how people access music. “Learning about people’s attitudes towards paying for music has taught me what to invest in and what not to invest in, in terms of time and effort but also start-up finances,” Ostrom says. For Ostrom, music is both her career and her business. And those lines are blurred for a lot of entrepreneurs who contract out their skills or do freelance work. Wellington Holbrook, ATB’s Executive Vice President of Business & Agriculture, says that above all else the most important thing for entrepreneurs is to know their business. “Know the kinds of risks that you’re likely to face, build a plan that creates the right degree of flexibility for you, and capitalize on the

opportunities that you can,” Holbrook says. One of those opportunities for Ostrom is taking advantage of good media coverage and creating an effective marketing strategy. “Last year when my song was on Heartland, I had a huge spike in album sales on iTunes just because of that one little bit of exposure,” she says. Winning the ATB Financial All-Albertan Song Contest also had a big impact in that realm. “I won the contest in the fall of 2014 and it’s still having an impact into 2016. That’s longer than I anticipated, and I’m not complaining. It’s been great press,” she says. Ostrom says the life of a musician doesn’t come without its challenges, but she loves it and wouldn’t give it up for anything. So she follows two pieces of advice. “Be patient, because in this kind of work, starting up takes years. You really need to ramp up to it over a long period of time,” she says. “The second part would be just do your homework because there’s this age-old perception of artists being naïve and having dudes in suits do all of their work for them,” she says. “Be aware, ask questions, do your research and try not to be foolish about it. At the beginning, you’re going to make mistakes, but at least you can minimize the chance of someone taking advantage of you if you know what you’re doing.” Ostrom has a new album coming out later this spring, and she’s performing in Calgary during Juno week. Go to to hear her music and her interview with ATB. Correction: our article in the previous issue of Branded Magazine indicated that a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an unregistered account. Well – it’s not. A TFSA is a registered product. Sorry about that! More questions? Visit






Have you heard? Music therapy is a prescription that doesn’t require pills.

words by Hanna McLean / photo by Krystal Boyd


Eleven-year-old Jack was having a bad day at school. Jack has autism, which means sometimes he has difficulty verbally communicating and interacting socially with his classmates and his family. He is typically a very happy guy, but on this day it was evident that he was down in the dumps. After school Jack went to see his music therapist, Elle McAndrews, for a session at her home in Southwest Calgary. Jack’s mother, Carol, let Elle know that he wasn’t feeling the best – and so Elle decided to utilize his emotion during her time with Jack. She asked him to play how he felt as he sat perched over her piano. He reached for the lower end of the keys and played a few octaves that sounded like melancholy. Jack couldn’t really explain how he felt in words, but that day he was able to express it through music. For Jack, having the ability to communicate this way may be why music is one of his biggest passions. “Jack won’t tell you,” Carol says in a hushed voice while her son is playing piano with Elle in the living room, “All we can do is observe what his interests are. If they love something, they love it, and they invest in it.” By the echoes of Jack’s enthusiasm and liveliness from the other room, he undoubtedly does love these sessions, “It’s a great relationship. He really enjoys coming every week. I never have to ask twice.” Carol says since he began seeing Elle last September, Jack has shown an incredible amount of initiative; he’s demonstrated memorization, he’s improved his skills on the keyboard and he’s become engrossed in the world of music in general. The things she saw change in Jack were largely facilitated by music therapy, a method accessible to all ages and abilities. Elle is a Calgary-based music therapist who works with young adults and children with autism, people with speech delay, seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia and individuals with cerebral palsy and seizures through her company, Core Music Therapy Ltd. She’s played the piano her whole life, and went to school to get a Bachelors of Arts with a concentration in classical piano. But when Elle lost her father to cancer nine years ago during her last semester of her undergraduate degree, her love of music was put on pause. “After that I had no desire to be near my instrument. Perhaps it was from the burnout of practicing five hours a day, it could be a combination of losing my father who was very musical – but eventually I started to play as a way to heal myself.” Elle took guitar lessons on the very guitar that her father was so good at playing himself, and she used that instrument as a very powerful motivator to pursue a career in music. “The music helped me get to this point where I was ready to go back to university and embark on this journey.” Elle went from using music to heal herself, to using it to facilitate relief for others. She says that “music is the therapist” and she makes it possible for the benefits to occur through her sessions with clients.

The Progression Of Music Therapy Music has the ability to prompt instant reactions by triggering a catharsis and outflow of emotion. It can make a grown man cry, and it can make a sad child smile – this initial reaction is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to music therapy, because below the surface music can do much more than just affect our physiological reaction. So how exactly does music work to better the quality of peoples’ lives? Music has been used as a healing implement for centuries, and over time it has become the process through which music therapists use sound and harmony to aid social, physical, spiritual, emotional, aesthetic and mental health of their clients. The idea that music is a healing influence goes back to the time of Aristotle and Plato since it was present in their writings. Fast forward to the times of World War I and II, and musicians were going to Veterans Administration hospitals around Canada to play for the many veterans who were experiencing trauma from the battles. The Canadian Association for Music Therapy was founded in 1974, prompting academic programs to manifest for music therapists, allowing the profession to slowly become stronger across the country. This type of therapy is practiced all over the world, but still not largely known in Canada compared to other techniques such as physical or speech therapy. “While it has existed in Canada for over 40 years, a big reason why we are not so widely known in our profession yet is we are not government funded,” says Elle. In the United States – somewhere you might think it would be the opposite – music therapy is actually very prevalent in hospitals, and the demand for interns and therapists is steady. Elle hopes her profession will be more widely recognized in the future because right now it’s “not as big” here in Canada. “In the States many hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools have a larger budget for music therapy. They [the States] have this huge support for medical music therapy.” Some of those things include improving stress relief, sleep patterns, bonding (maternal and otherwise), stabilizing moods, selfexpression, self-esteem and lowering blood pressure. In recent years some notable figures and celebrities have become outspoken advocates for music therapy. Elle mentions that support from public figues can add “a lot of clout to a profession”. The American congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011, received music therapy as part of her overall rehabilitation. She is now able to testify to the profound effects that music therapy has had on her and how it helped her become a functioning person again after the shooting. This is one example of how a person in the spotlight can create understanding for the masses. “People are looking to it, where they didn’t look to it before. They’ve started to hear about it and they’re going on to the Alberta Music Therapists Association’s website. People are getting curious about it,” she says.


Celebrities advocating for music therapy isn’t the only thing that’s creating more buzz around the profession. In Canada, music therapists promote music therapy through social media, and organizations such as Music Heals and The Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund bring attention to the subject. These organizations are huge advocates for Canadian music therapists and Music Heals has amazingly donated over $250,000 to music therapy programming. What Music Can Do There is a science behind music therapy that incorporates methods such as psychotherapy, clinical therapy, musical acoustics, psychoacoustics, biomusicology and music theory. Music therapy has shown to effectively treat mood disorders, psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression and medical disorders such as heart disease, neurological disorders and stroke recovery. This form of treatment has also been found to help victims of abuse, PTSD, premature babies and even those suffering with HIV/AIDS. Due to the vast list of conditions that music therapy can help

If you were feeling totally lost all the time everyday, having these really important moments where you feel like you are giving and participating and remembering – how incredible would that feel?

with, music therapists can be found in a number of places that benefit from their services such as children’s hospitals and hospital ERs. Music therapy in long-term care facilities helps to bring a level of interaction in a place where isolation is common, and the method is very effective with the geriatric population. There are music therapy companies that travel to do sessions with clients, and there are also therapists who work out of their own homes. Every client has his or her own goal set by the music therapist depending on the condition they are living with. This could be anything from banging a drum with a mallet, to playing an octave on the piano, to singing a verse from their favourite show-tune. “I have a client who I’ve been seeing for three months. Two weeks ago they reached their index finger out and strummed my guitar. Usually, if I put the guitar in front of them to see if they’ll do it, they push the guitar away,” Elle says. Whether it’s a small breakthrough or a big one, the days that her clients move forward in any way at all, is the ultimate joy for Elle. “These little tiny breakthroughs really validate that what I’m doing is effective and it’s working.” But she clarifies; by ‘working’ she doesn’t simply mean ‘healing’. “The misconception about music therapists is that we are going to go in and ‘fix’ everything. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about improving health and wellness, it’s not about finding ‘the cure.’” “When we go in to work with a client we do assessments, we write reports and we develop goals and objectives and programming 38 | LIVING

for that client based on the individual’s needs.” Elle says that the awareness about music therapy and what it entails generally needs to be stronger within Canadian communities. “I’ll say to people that I’m a music therapist and they’ll go, ‘Oh so you’re Guns N’ Roses, and I’m going to feel better because that’s is my favourite music?’ That’s not the extent of it – it’s not putting on a CD.” That’s not to say that listening to one’s preferred genre can’t be very therapeutic, but music therapy is not quite as simple as that. Striking A Chord In music therapy there is a different application than just pressing a button on an iPod or speaker. Music therapy is live music, singing and improvisation. It’s an interaction with the client through music. “There’s something very different from sitting down in front of a group of people and playing the guitar, than there is for a music therapist who’s trained to watch the responses of each person who knows about the disease.” When it comes to specific responses, Elle says the effects of music therapy on her clients who are in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is particularly moving to witness. “When you are suffering from those diseases your sense of time is obsolete. You don’t know who you are, where you are, what time of day it is and at certain stages it gets worse. Studies have shown that when you play music from when these people were younger often you’ll get a response from them.” “If you were feeling totally lost all the time everyday, having these really important moments where you feel like you are giving and participating and remembering – how incredible would that feel?” For most of us, it’s hard to imagine feeling that displaced, but one can imagine how connecting to music can make life better for those suffering. “Music is a huge motivator and we know this to be true, as we are inspired to workout with music, to have music to soothe us to put us to sleep, music to inspire, it’s a huge part of our lives. This is taking it a step further and applying it in a very clinical way.” Music takes you to a place of spontaneity; it takes away the regiment and allows people to go into their own world. “Does it make you cry, does it make you smile, does it give you energy?” says Elle. “It touches across cultures, it brings communities together – it connects us. Think about the act of sitting together and listening to a concert, you’re all there for the same reason and there’s now this community of people that have that one binding thread.” The benefits of this type of therapy are numerous, so it’s hard for just one to stand out. But in Jack’s case, Carol says the highlight is the fact that there is little-to-no expectation or pressure on her son, given the non-threatening non-verbal nature of the medium. “He would not be good at having that expectation of a recital or performance. He gets a lot of anxiety, so he likes this,” says Carol. “It’s just really fun for him.”

This March is Music Therapy Month and on March 5, local Calgary bars will be participating in “A night out for Music Heals” where $1 of every cover charge will be donated to the non-profit organization. On March 20 there will be a 2.85 km walk through the city to raise funds and awareness for music therapy with the money going to the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.





words by Milena Petrovic photos by Megan Wilson


isKwé’s stark vocals are entrancing, her sound is enthralling and her lyrics are evocative. Voted as one of the Top 10 Canadian Musicians You Need to Know and one of 10 Artists to Watch in 2016 by CBC, isKwé is raising her voice, raising awareness of cultural and gender limitations as her music is raising up the charts. Her powerful downtempo electronic beats are laced with alternative RnB sounds with soulful vocals making up her eclectic sound and supporting her impactful messages. Born and raised in Winnipeg, her Cree, Dené and Irish background show through in her music and cross-cultural style aesthetic that includes tribal face paint around her blue eyes. She carries an English name but proudly goes by isKwé (pronounced iss-kway) meaning ‘woman’ in Cree, which is an artistically shortened and styled version of her full Cree name, Waseskwan Iskwew. Coming from a musical and artistic family, isKwé grew up immersed in classical dance, music and art. However as powerful as her voice is, it didn’t always come out with such confidence. It wasn’t until she was about 21 years old that she decided to try out for the first season of Canadian Idol. Before auditioning, she made her partner at the time stand at the end of a long hallway so she couldn’t be seen before she belted out Black Velvet. After she impressed her partner from a distance, she got the courage to dive into singing full throttle, making it through the first few sets of auditions for the show and then continuing to take music lessons to further build and explore her musical strengths and style. Emboldened by over 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada, isKwé writes poignant lyrics to gripping sounds in her music that is turning up the volume for current cultural issues that have been silenced. Her single Nobody Knows – that has been charted on the Strombo Show Hundo’s list as a top 100 pick for 2015 – is a fervent anthem captivating listeners as it calls out for change with impassioned lyrics. isKwé’s Aboriginal roots run deep in her upcoming album, The Fight Within, set to come out May 2016. As her second album, The Fight Within, takes a more politically charged stance as she hopes her songs start conversations about racism, sexism and the treatment and connections to our land. What does being of Cree decent mean to you? “I think for me it’s something that I was always very proud of even though when I was growing up it was not yet considered cool. I grew up as a mixed kid in Winnipeg who could easily pass as Irish. I also grew up with a brown grandpa who would tell me from time to time that I was lucky because my eyes were blue and my skin was fair. There were a lot of mixed messages. But he was also very encouraging. I went to school in Winnipeg through the Aboriginal Centre, and I was sort of the first member down his line to reclaim that. It was mixed messages for me because of history, because of Winnipeg’s history remembering how just last year Maclean’s voted us the most racist city in Canada – these things have been a part of my life growing up. Seeing friends and family who are more Indigenous looking than I am to the naked eye versus my experience of being fair skinned and people not assuming that I am of a Cree background, talking to me as if I am going to relate to the shitty things they would say. It was a weird juxtaposition for me, but yet it was a feeling of pride that I carried and I always felt the need to hold on to and research more.” How have you brought your roots to your art? “In very different ways over the years. I used to wholeheartedly maintain that my music was Indigenous because I am Indigenous. I am making music therefore I am making Indigenous music. I still hold on to that because I feel it’s important not to get stuck into a

glass ceiling box where a lot of times people will pigeonhole you into things based on a distinct demographic that they think you should fit in. I notice it can happen to a lot to artists.” What inspired you to paint your face? “I was living in New York at the time with a friend who was an art director and we were going to do a photoshoot. I told her to do what she wanted but don’t make me look pretty – I don’t want the sultry eye, bright lip or fake eyelashes. I wanted it to be creative. We came up with this idea in the dawn of the movie the Black Swan and we came up with something that felt amazing – it was kind of dark and spooky. I started to play with it. Once I got back to Winnipeg I met a makeup artist who I started developing other looks with and again it was this freedom to be an artist in it. I feel like there is often this idea that when you put something on your face you’re hiding behind it, behind a mask of some sort, but I found the opposite to be true for me. When I painted my face I felt far more present in the art I was doing and it liberated me.” Tell me about the production of your songs Will I See and Nobody Knows. “After the death of Tina Fontaine I watched my community fall apart because of it. Not to diminish any other woman’s significance that has gone missing, she was just that last bit that made me go ‘What the fuck?’ I watched my community crumble because of that, but then immediately come together as a unit. We had a vigil for her and we walked together to the monument for all of our missing and murdered Indigenous women. That sensation of crumbling together and then coming back up together inspired me and I went home and wrote Will I See. The first verse is me singing to the women that we lost and then the second verse is my interpretation of them singing back to us. It was a song that I actually wrote, sang and worked closely with the producer to create.” “Nobody Knows was written a year later as women were still going missing. In the grief cycle I was beyond sadness and now feeling anger. I wrote that song with the Toronto band, The Darcy’s. We worked together thanks to a mentorship program that was sponsored by Manitoba Music and Canada’s Council for the Arts. Over the course of three days we naturally gravitated to writing about that topic. I think because it came from such a place of anger for me it was easy to just scream it.” Did you ever fear singing such powerful lyrics and speaking out politically? “Yeah, I did at first. I started out singing it quite passively and it was Jason (from The Darcy’s) that pushed me. I had never sung with such intensity on something that I wrote. I covered other people’s songs but I never owned that sensation that came when I wrote this song. So for the first few times that I would perform it, I would leave it as the last song because it would give me bad shakes afterwards because I couldn’t control the emotion that came out of it.” How did the public perceived it? “From the feedback that I’ve gotten, I feel like people appreciate the level of emotion that comes from it, the intensity in it. I recently learned that I was blacklisted from playing at government events by the Harper government. I felt proud of that. I feel like the message that I was trying to get out there is working. I feel like whenever I say the line, “I won’t let you look away anymore”, I fucking mean it. BRANDED | 41

I decided that I just don’t care if I’m not received in a gentle way anymore. I’m going to be the artist that I am, I went through 15 years of experimenting and trying to see what would be well received. You have all of these sort of ideas of what you’re supposed to be when you’re a female artist and what you’re supposed to act like and dress like, what sort of topics you should speak out on and all of these parameters put out there, and to me, that song was my way of screaming out on the issue of murdered and missing women and me feeling like I’m tired of being told what to do. I’m not going to let you look away any more.” Is there a song from the new record that you’re looking forward to releasing? “Soldier. It’s the one song on my album that I didn’t write. My violin player and dear friend, Melissa Bandura wrote it and worked with the same producer I worked with on Will I See. It’s a beautiful song, very powerful and in the downtemp electronic realm. The lyrics are about the tar sands and sort of making sure that we have an earth here later on.” What is it about music that makes it a great outlet to call out for change? “I think because music has so many different faces and one song could mean so many different things to whoever is listening, to whatever individual is receiving the music in that moment. I teach art workshops that involve storytelling through visual art, movement and music. One of the things I do with the students is I get them to listen to Will I See, not telling them that it’s me or what it’s about, and I get them to tell me what they think it’s about. Depending on the classroom, it has been about any number of things-sometimes they pick up that it’s about somebody going missing; sometimes it’s about a breakup. I think that’s what makes music such a special platform for


speaking out on an issue is that you can be a little cryptic with it and give room to that person listening to interpret it for themselves to give meaning to that individual.” How does performing make you feel? “That’s my favourite part of what I do. It makes me feel very alive. I feel like I can go somewhere else. I am quite solitary in my day-to-day life and enjoy being alone but when I’m on stage it gives me the room to go beyond myself, to go beyond my body standing there in front of a room of people. I don’t know if I can actually put it into words but I am not just a body standing there singing. I am just something else – it’s not about me anymore or at least I don’t feel like it is anyway.” What would you like to see more of in Canada’s music scene? What do you enjoy most about it? “I really enjoy the grassroots support in the Canadian music scene. I think that’s quite unique to Canada. It can be a very good and gentle platform for artists at the emerging intermediate stages. I think that’s awesome because it gives us room to grow as artists without feeling shunned or feeling structural pressures to be like someone else. As far as what I would like to see, I’d like to see the love and support for artists continue to grow in the sense that we are now at a place where at one point just a few months ago three out of the top five artists were Canadian for Billboard’s Hot 100. That’s amazing. I feel like up until recently Canadian artists and their music have been on a bit of a back burner when it comes to international acclaim. I’m excited to see that continue to grow, where Canadian artists are receiving that support and encouragement from Canadian music fans but not only in the realm of staying in Canada but also going beyond and giving a name for Canada in the music world across borders.”

A Sound Match


For some couples, working with their spouse sounds like a nightmare. For Drew and Danielle, it sounds like heaven – a synth-pop rock star kind of heaven, to be exact. The McTaggarts, otherwise known as Dear Rouge, officially formed their band just after tying the knot in 2011. Danielle is the lead vocalist and frontwoman, and Drew plays bass guitar and co-produces the high-energy anthems that have now catapulted their band into the spotlight. After getting married and setting some serious life goals (a.k.a. working towards pursuing music full-time), the duo worked tirelessly to make that happen and released their unique, edgy sound to the public – and man, talk about results, because fast forward to 2016, and Dear Rouge’s music is rocking the Canadian music scene.

Back in early 2013, before they had established themselves as Canada’s alternative rock darlings, Drew and Danielle decided to take the plunge and quit their jobs to focus primarily on Dear Rouge. Clearly the risk they took has paid off, although at the time it was a huge gamble. “After we got married, that’s when we were like ‘OK, let’s give this a go, let’s show people and let’s openly try with music,’” says Drew. “We started out with no career and really, nothing,” laughs Danielle. Dear Rouge was able to successfully solidify a spot on Canadian radio and take the charts by storm in a relatively short amount of time. Seriously, it’s rare to experience a car ride without hearing one of their jams on the radio in just Calgary alone (not that we’re complaining). Their ability to produce radio-friendly yet independentsounding lively music has given them the opportunity to attract a steadily growing fan base from a variety of demographics and it’s not hard to see why: their sound is unique, their messages are profound and their performances are incredibly magnetic. Drew and Danielle attribute a lot of their initial success to winning The Peak Performance Project in 2012, a radio contest based out of BC (the same contest runs also in Alberta). Back in 2012, The Peak awarded the winning artists a whopping $102,700 to

go towards music production and to develop their careers in general. “We give them a lot of respect and props for that support. It changed the course of our lives. It was pretty life-altering actually, that whole experience,” says Danielle. The lead singer remembers how crazy things got after they snagged the top prize, “Our first single that we put out, I Heard I Had, was a big accomplishment for us because that was the first time that we were recognized for one of our songs in such a public way. It got to number two [on the Canadian charts] and we were just in awe that we could make a big impact.” The band’s list of accomplishments are impressive considering their music was only released to the public in April 2012. Some of the notches on their guitar straps so far include winning Most Dynamic Duo at the 2013 CBC Buckys, Favourite New Artist at the 2014 Edge CASBY Awards, and their hit song Black To Gold, reaching over three million streams on Spotify in 2015 and winning a prestigious songwriting prize as well. Their album, also titled Black To Gold, has impressively yielded three Top 20 singles since its release in spring of 2014. That same year, I Heard I Had became the most played song on modern rock radio by a Canadian band, which is pretty outstanding for a band with no management and no label backing them. Black To Gold even landed on the CBC’s list of the best Canadian albums of 2015. If there were an award for making waves in the music industry the fastest, they would surely win that too. “I think when you start out as a kid you think it’s totally possible, then somewhere along the way life kicks you in the ass, and you realize that it doesn’t happen for many people,” says Danielle. One of the accomplishments they are BRANDED | 45

“Our work, our passion – we’re doing it altogether. Danielle and I are both independent people, we are happily married and so it can be hard, but it’s not in the way that people think.” most proud of was winning the $10,000 SOCAN Songwriting Prize in 2015 for I Heard I Had. This annual competition recognizes 10 outstanding songs written by Canadians. Along with the cash, Dear Rouge was awarded studio time and vocal coaching with esteemed industry experts. For Drew and Danielle getting a nod for their craft - and specifically for their songwriting, was incredible. And, the best part of all is that the Canadian public voted them as the winners. Dear Rouge was also nominated for a 2016 Juno Award, Breakthrough Group of the Year, which is incredible. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that their winning streak continues.

It’s hard to believe now, but when Drew and Danielle first met, it was anything but love at first sight. “It wasn’t a heavy dislike – not serious or anything, but I was like, ‘Who is this girl?’” Drew laughs. That was 13 years ago, and that girl was his future wife and band mate. “Our first meeting was me wanting him to play bass for my band that was not very good,” Danielle laughs. Drew chalks up their initial reluctance towards each other as their competitive natures, “She was doing her music thing in Red Deer (Alberta), I was doing my music thing in BC, and we both just felt like we were too good for each other I guess.” “For me, it was more that I thought Drew was really cocky, and that he thought he was cooler than he was,” says Danielle. “And, he kept talking to me about other girls he’d kissed.” In spite of that initial standoffishness, they developed a platonic relationship through sharing music and keeping in touch while pursuing separate ventures. After a few years of being buds, the relationship changed, they matured and realized their connection could go much further than just swapping demos and EPs. “Sometimes you see that in relationships; when you have a lot that you dislike about a person, you realize it’s actually like a 46 | LIVING

connection in a weird way,” says Danielle. Their modern love story is a great example of how down-to-earth and funny these two are; the easy-going vibes the couple radiates are undoubtedly what made them such a good match in the first place. A big part of figuring out this sudden swell of success has been the McTaggart’s attempt to balance and separate their personal and professional lives together. “Because we spend all of our time together it can be difficult, but when something good happens we get to share it with each other. So when an email comes in about a gig we got or an award we received, we get to celebrate together. That’s a really fun part about doing music with your spouse,” says Drew. The couple says that despite what some would think, working together isn’t the hard part, “Some people are like ‘Oh man, working with your spouse, that’s really difficult.’ In reality, the hardest part is separating the music from our lives,” says Drew. “I’d be lying if there wasn’t a strain in it, because we’re spending 99 per cent of our time together. Our work, our passion – we’re doing it together. Danielle and I are both independent people, we are happily married and so it can be hard, but it’s not in the way that people think.” Although working with your spouse can be a challenge at times – most often it’s actually the best thing ever. Both Danielle and Drew have come to really appreciate things about each other musically since forming Dear Rouge. “The thing that I love most about Drew is his ability to hear parts, to add new things to a song – creative aspects of the song that are were there before, just to keep it fresh,” says Danielle. “I love seeing her connect with the audience. She is super energetic on stage, super captivating, but then non-pretentious and very inviting to musically connect with the crowds. And I just love the fact that I get to be part of her band that gets to watch her,” says Drew. It’s clear that one of the reasons their music sounds so good is because of their connection to each other while creating it.


Drew: Club Monaco sweater, own jeans

Danielle: Acne sweater (Gravity Pope), Isabel Marant tank dress (Gravity Pope)


“Some musicians are against streaming, but we embrace and use those tools the best we can.” This chemistry is easily seen on stage during performances. “You know, some people are brilliant musicians, but they don’t care about the audience, and I would say that Danielle cares about the audience,” says Drew. “She wants them to have fun, she wants them to enjoy watching her, she wants them to have fun singing the songs and it’s really cool because she’s really, really good at it.” Well, if this isn’t #relationshipgoals then I don’t know what is.

Combining their talent, their winnings, and their edgy-yet-approachable look, Dear Rouge has become a main player in the scope of Canada’s music landscape. “A big checkpoint for us was when we had some sold out shows this last tour and people were singing along and really with us – because that’s the ultimate goal,” says Danielle. “Seeing that and being a part of a room full of people who gave that energy back was amazing.” The band is now getting used to their ever-growing fan base knowing their lyrics, partially thanks to the large presence of social media and streaming services which allow fans full access to their music from any location. Dear Rouge is able to reach listeners worldwide through these types of channels, sometimes to people that wouldn’t have heard of them otherwise. Drew and Danielle say they are really grateful for these platforms. “Social media can essentially be a tool, a streaming tool, and we can use all of that stuff to get our music out there. Some musicians are against streaming, but we embrace and use those tools the best we can,” says Drew. “We played in Europe and the States for the first time this past year and there were people there who said ‘I heard you on Spotify.’” Drew reiterates that it’s streaming services that make music so sharable, creating opportunities for musicians who don’t have the chance to tour internationally or the reach to get their music played on the radio in other countries. “If people don’t like Spotify they might as well not like the radio,” says Drew. Streaming is inevitably helping with one of Dear Rouge’s goals: to become known outside of Canada. While they’ve been

feeling unwavering love from the True North, they are itching to take on new stages and new audiences. Another goal for the band? Sticking to its roots. Coming off of such steady success, maintaining their independent sound is something that will admittedly be tricky for the duo, but they’re totally up for the challenge. “We’re just taking it one step at a time. We’re looking at this next record, and we are trying new things. We’re trying stuff that other people have suggested. But ultimately, we’re going to go back to what we are feeling and what got us to where we are today.” Drew and Danielle say they try not to set any expectations when it comes to how their music will be received by the public or industry experts. They reiterate that no band can ever really prepare themselves for how people will react when releasing new material. “If we expect something then sometimes we can get hurt,” says Drew. But that’s not to say that they aren’t incredibly pumped to show everyone what they’ve created next. “We are feeling really excited about our new music. When artists get excited about their music they get really anxious to share it. We want to finish it so we can show people what we’ve been working on,” says Drew. We think it’s pretty clear that Dear Rouge fans aren’t going to do anything but freak out (in the best sense) over any new material in the future. The band is currently taking a break from touring and is continuing to work on their next album, aiming to make it even better than the last one – if that’s even possible. “We are going to write deeper than we did last record. Write a little bit stronger,” says Drew. It’s hard to imagine that stronger writing is achievable given the high caliber of their work to date, but considering the strength of this musical and marital match, anything’s possible.



here to stay One of the music industry’s coolest Canadian newcomers, Alessia Some call her sound retro-soul, RnB, “It’s so great to speak to you,” Alessia Cara Cara, gets real about her pop, or a mixture of everything. However you says through the phone when we are finally decide to categorize her style, it’s undoubtedly able to connect. If I wasn’t overwhelmed with skyrocketing career, her unique. the excitement of talking to the singer before, It took three years for someone in the I was now on a whole other level of fangirling. laid-back image and her music industry to notice her killer pipes. She is currently in Boston for one of her Eventually, EP Entertainment contacted first shows of the North American leg of her famous fans. Cara after the company saw her cover of The headlining tour; one she had kicked off a few Neighbourhood’s Sweater Weather. She was days prior. Cara had also just slept on her new then signed to a management deal at the age tour bus for the first time the night before, words by Hanna McLean of 16 and things have been moving along ever something which most brand new artists can since. only dream about. The day we spoke she was “After I got discovered on YouTube I started making my own seriously excited about the almost sold-out Know-It-All tour, which original songs in the studio after school hours. I’d go to the studio and also has many dates scheduled in Europe. “Being able to perform everywhere for everybody and seeing would write some songs with this guy name Sebastian Kole. That was everyone in the U.S. and Canada singing my lyrics – it’s amazing to the first time I’d really ever written a full song or been in the studio.” Cara seemed to really hit it off with Kole, who’s previously written see that.” Things have been moving at lightning speed for the singer over for J.Lo and Flo Rida. Together they co-wrote Here and continued to the past few months. Cara says despite the whirlwind, she’s thoroughly work on Cara’s full-length album while she kept this whole about-tobe-a-superstar thing a secret from her friends and schoolmates. enjoying the ride. It wasn’t until after she walked in her graduation ceremony in “I knew Here was going to change my life,” says Cara. “But I guess you can never prepare yourself for how quick something is 2015 that she filled in her crew about the news: she had been signed to Def Jam Records where her label mates consisted of industry going to go. I really didn’t think it was going to be this fast.” Born Alessia Caracciolo, the 19-year-old grew up in Brampton, heavyweights like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Frank Ocean and Jhené Ontario and has quickly emerged as a musical force to be reckoned Aiko. Cara proceeded by releasing her five-song EP called Four Pink with. She’s thrusted into the spotlight because of her smash-hit Here, which she followed up by releasing her debut album, Know-It-All, from Walls in August 2015. The extended play project painted a detailed picture of her childhood bedroom and the bright future she dreamt up Def Jam Records last November. The young songstress had a stellar 2015, making Spotify’s Year of while in it. She is fulfilling one of those dreams right this very moment Music list, which included that well-known debut single being named – being a professional singer. the most viral song in the United States in 2015. Here sold more than two million copies in North America and the music video for the track is currently closing in on 61 million YouTube views and counting. Traditionally when it comes to a stellar homegrown talent, we All of this success was made possible because a shy 13-yearold Cara plucked up the courage to post covers of famous tracks like tend to become insanely proud of those Canucks that break into the Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours and Amy Winehouse’s Valerie on YouTube. international music industry and rep the True North with serious Cara’s voice was powerful and captivating and not the kind of sound swagger. Cara is on track to level up with fellow Canadians Drake and Justin Bieber – and at the rate she’s going, she will be on par with one expects to hear from a timid-looking teenager. “I started posting because I was really scared to sing in front of them in no time. In late January she knocked Drizzy out of the top spot of the Hot people. I wanted to sing and I always wanted to do this as a career, but I was really shy initially, so that was kind of my way to get my voice RnB/Hip-Hop Song on the Billboard Charts – an accomplishment that out there without having to sing it in front of real people. People could was a bit mind-blowing for the singer-songwriter. Cara had surpassed still hear my voice but I didn’t have to be in front of a live audience Hotline Bling, Drake’s longest chart-reigning song to date. “It’s kind of cool to be able to do that, especially because he’s an just yet. It was a good way to ease myself into it.” BRANDED | 51

“It’s such a dog-eat-dog

kind of world, for females

especially. You just gotta try to ignore all the extra stuff and the outside noise and pay attention to why you

initially wanted to do this to make music.”

artist that’s so amazing and incredible and that I look up to. It’s funny that it happened. I don’t even know what he would say. He hasn’t said anything to me yet. Maybe he’s not talking to me, maybe he’s upset,” she jokes. “It’s pretty much the same person being up there either way – Canadians, we’re all the same.” If it feels like Here has been on the radio rotation forever, that’s because it kind of has. In fact, the song has the longest ascent to number one on the Billboard Pop Songs Chart in 22 years. In the music biz they call this a “sleeper hit”, and Cara took to her Twitter acknowledging the achievement saying, “26 weeks. Slowest little song that could.” “It is insane. It’s so weird to think that it’s even up there,” she says. “We released the song I think on May 1 of 2015, it’s been a while. When we released it we didn’t really expect much from it. We weren’t really sure about it because it was kind of a risk. It wasn’t the safest song to release, so it was a scary thing but I believed in it and I’m so glad everyone else believed in it too.” This unwavering fan love has really resonated with Cara, which is why she seems to represent a new generation of young celebrities whom are aware of the importance of their words and are more focused on their craft than on their image. On a live televised New Year’s Eve show in Times Square, Cara wore a loose-fitting outfit some fans mistakenly assumed as being sweatpants. They tweeted criticism of her clothes to her, to which she responded with a message that said, “I’m not here to be easy on your 52 | LIVING

eyes.” While other pop singers her age are going crazy with contouring and flaunting everything the good Lord gave them, Cara is content with her Converse, jeans and T-shirts. She admits it’s been a “weird adjustment” getting used to life in the spotlight, but also says her laid-back appearance and nonchalant attitude about her image aren’t going to change anytime soon. “People are starting to pay attention to things that you never really thought they would pay attention to, like what I’m wearing and things like that. That can get a little weird. I’m just here to sing my songs and make music; everything else is just additional fluff that doesn’t really matter that much to me. Maybe in the future it will and maybe I’ll change my style, but right now this is who I am.” “I think it’s important to stay who you are, especially in this industry. It’s such a dog-eat-dog kind of world, for females especially. You just gotta try to ignore all the extra stuff and the outside noise and pay attention to why you initially wanted to do this – to make music.” Someone helping Cara navigate through the notoriously superficial industry is one of her role models, non-other than America’s Pop Princess herself, Taylor Swift. (Swift’s a big fan as well. Just check out Twitter.) “Taylor gave me some really good advice, especially being a female artist in the pop world. It’s cool to get that advice from someone that’s in your lane. She told me a lot of things, but I think the biggest thing I took out was that she said that music is not just music – young people, they really follow it and they listen to what artists’ have to say.

Every song has a message, whether you know it or not you’re saying something to people.” Swift went on to tell her how important it is for a person in a position of influence to lead her followers in the right direction and that Cara’s music was doing that, “That was really nice of her, and I hope I can continue to do that.” Cara was even invited to perform with Swift on her 1989 tour, in Tampa Florida in front of her biggest audience yet – 55,000 people. “That was a really, really big thing for me. It just felt like a dream, like it wasn’t real. That was probably the thing that made me pinch myself.”

Cara had to learn to be resilient and persistent when people doubted her abilities, especially at the beginning of her career. “I felt like throughout this whole thing, and still now at times, I need to prove myself a lot and show people that I’m serious. As a young female, it’s hard for people to take me seriously. I hope I’m countering that and can be taken seriously,” she quickly corrects herself. “Should be taken seriously.” It’s safe to say she is definitely being taken seriously now. Her fans have been incredibly receptive of her honest lyrics and soulful sound. Even though she’s pretty new to the game, she’s a natural at writing diaristic lyrics, and she maintains the message within them needs to be relatable and positive.

“For me, every song has a different message. All I ever wanted to really promote or push with my life in general was to live your life and have things to talk about, make memories that you can talk about and not worry about what people are going to say. Don’t ever apologize for just being yourself – that’s why I always find it important to be myself. Because really, how can I preach things and not practice them?” Cara has had many incredible moments so far in her career. She made her TV debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she’s got a number one debut single under her belt and she’s made some famous friends and fans. In a few weeks she’ll be adding to her ‘big moments’ list for 2016 because she’s taking the stage at the Saddledome to perform at the Juno Awards in Calgary. She’s also been nominated for an award in four different categories: Juno Fan Choice, Single of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and R&B/ Soul Recording of the Year. “I think it’s going to be incredible, I’ve never been to Calgary before. It’s going to be insane – just that fact that I’m attending the Junos is crazy, but then the fact that I’m performing and getting to be a part of that huge event.” “I think there’s like a sense of credibility to an artist when they get invited there and they get to perform there, I don’t know, it’s going to be really exciting. I have no idea what to expect.” Cara may not know what to expect, but based on her track record Calgary can anticipate a spectacular performance from this young, confident superstar in the making.


107 10A STREET NW • 403 670 6783 • MODERNSTEAK.CA


TASTING A spread even Sir Mix-A-Lot himself would be proud of – enough said.




feed the beat Words by: Lauren Steeves and Katie Tetz

broken city

the blues can

6 1 3 1 1 T H AV E N U E S W

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Located on the old Electric Avenue (ask your parents), Broken City lets the beat go on. Here, it’s totally appropriate to over-do it with tequila shots and vodka sodas. Not so much for the easy-listening type, Broken City is a great venue for a night of debauchery, dancing and fun. From rock and roll to hip-hop, you won’t be able to stay off the dance floor. 

A live blues bar located in the heart of historic Inglewood, The Blues Can has a full schedule of live performances every day of the week. With southern-themed food and a great line of sight to the stage, you can sit back and enjoy the blues played by both big names and locals. Its dark and intimate atmosphere collides with its history, giving you a taste of another time and place.

Standard uniform: Not much. The dance floor gets very hot.

Tip: Trust us, come hungry.



What was once the home to the Inglewood landmark, National Hotel, has transformed into a contemporary cool bar space that will have you yearning for the good ole days when time stood still for a great cocktail. Off Cut Bar creates an atmosphere of sophistication, while remaining approachable for a date night or night out with your mama and pops. At the Off Cut, you can sit back, relax and enjoy its selection of live music. But be sure to mark your calendars for Thursdays, this venue hosts Live Music Thursdays, a jam you’re not going to want to miss. Shows start at 8p.m. and there’s no cover.

If Jay-Z lived in YYC, he’d easily coin Commonwealth as “home of the hip-hop”. With its epic 10 at 10 shows, a monthly hip-hop musical showcase where at 10 p.m. 10 artists perform 10-minute sets, and its hip-hop karaoke, Commonwealth makes it hard to say no to a night out on a weekday. This venue may have common in its name, but the experience you’ll get here is anything but. With a club vibe, lots of f*ck boys and a killer dance floor – you’ll be a regular in no time. We will warn you though, after a night out here, you may be calling in “sick” to work. #sorrynotsorry

Standard uniform: Dressed to kill.

Tip: This place is bumping, so you’ll want to go before 11 p.m. to avoid waiting in line.


We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places in the city to eat, drink and soak up the sound of live music. Whether you’re in the mood for something chill, looking for a date night hot spot, or longing to sweat it out on the dance floor, we promise you’ll find a place on this list that will have you fist-pumping with one hand and holding your half-eaten burrito in the other.

nite owl


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Big advocates for losing sleep, the Nite Owl is a live music and entertainment venue located on 10th Avenue, the same location of Vinyl from back in your university days. Good news: They got rid of the carpets. This is a great place to stop if you’re club hopping down 10th as it’s got everything you need – great music and a dance floor.

Gravity is our favourite go-to for midday coffees and snacks, but in case you didn’t know, it’s also the perfect relaxing, ambient spot for live acoustics and local songwriters on Friday and Saturday nights. Bonus: Aside from incredible coffee, they also have a well-selected wine and beer menu. An optional $10 cover charge lets you give back to the music community, with half going to the artist and the other half going to local charities. Tunes start at 8 p.m.

Tip: Hit up Nite Owl on a Wednesday for its Rockin’ 4 Dollars – cheap drinks, open mic and $3 cover.

Standard uniform: Dressy casual. Think booties, chunky knits, leather leggings, button-up shirts and dark denim.



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You don’t have to be a student at SAIT to enjoy your time here. Think of The Gateway as your cool, young-at-heart friend that always knows the next big thing in the music scene. Host to some of the best indie acts like Scenic Route to Alaska and Wintersleep, The Gateway will legitimately lead the way for you to meet your next favourite band. With its stage in the middle of the venue, The Gateway makes it really easy to get up close and personal with its musical acts, creating a super chill and intimate experience that any music lover would die for.

We love the Ship because we can always count on it to open its patio up as soon as it’s questionably warm enough to sit outside, even if scarves and mittens are still necessary. But no matter the time of year, you can also count on the Ship to give you a good excuse to go hang out there, even if it’s for Punk Rock Bing on Tuesdays or for some live tunes. Completely unpretentious, you’ll feel like you can be yourself there, whether you fit the hipster profile or not. Standard uniform: Plannel, chunky glasses, toque and last night’s makeup.

Tip: You’ll find a plethora of cheap drinks here – we personally recommend a pitcher of Canadian. BRANDED | 57


THE PALOMINO smokehouse

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At Mikey’s Juke Joint, you can literally come as you are. We are 100 per cent serious. This place has nailed the sweet spot between a music joint that you and your friends would go to, and also a place for your parents to rock out. But you’ll never feel uncomfortable here because everyone is always drunk and dancing. Its space may be small, but don’t be fooled it packs a powerful music punch of oldies and blues. Mikey’s feels like your jamming out at your buddy’s place, but the music obviously sounds much, much better. Tip: Mikey’s fills up quick, so you’ll want to arrive two hours before a show if you are hoping to score a table.

Located in the heart of downtown on 7th Avenue, the Palomino will cure your winter blues with its endless BBQ season. With its droolworthy menu, you are going to want to hit it up for pre-show dinner and drinks with friends. We personally recommend the pulled pork— you’ll thank us later. After some delicious eats, head downstairs for some live music. When it comes to musical variety, at The Palomino you can expect the unexpected. We will say that there’s something about this place that will have you staying for a second round…or fifth. But that’s okay because the C-train is located right out front to haul your drunken ass home. Standard uniform: Converse, ripped denim and toques.



100 1011 1ST STREET SW

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Café Koi is like your favourite mixed CD from back in the day, meaning it’s got a little bit of everything you love – local art, music and culture. You absolutely can’t miss its infamous monthly Notorious Hip Hop Improv nights – a mixture of freestyle rap and improv comedy that will keep you laughing so hard your abs will be dying the next day. Café Koi also gives you the chance to prove you’re the next Kanye, Yoncé or J Biebs with its many open mic nights held throughout the month. We recommend bringing your squad here, after all, every star has an entourage.

Located in the heart of Inglewood, Ironwood is legit when it comes to live music. Offering live music every damn night, you have no excuses not to check it out. The vibe here is chill and casual— the perfect go-to spot for a first date since it will calm your nerves and make you feel at home. Ironwood also has some of the best eats, like flatbreads, burgers and a to-die-for spinach dip. But because Ironwood is a music hot spot in YYC, we recommend you make a reservation well in advance. Don’t panic if you can’t get one though, at Ironwood everyone is friends – chances are you’ll meet your next drinking buddy.

Tip: Order its Yam-Abushi (12 yam wedges with garlic coconut and miso dips) and wear clothing that stretches, the food is just too good to resist. #YOLO


Standard uniform: Anything goes. You could bust out your Nikes here and no one would bat an eye.

32000 MEALS



Happy Birthday!


FOR MINAS 1 Anniversary! st

Thanks Calgary! Come and celebrate with us.

CHECK OUT our website for upcoming events AND PROMOTIONS


The Big Dobranski words by Mirissa Kampf, photos by Asim Overstands

Cam Dobranski is the chef and owner of a few of Calgary’s favourite spots. He opened Wine Bar Kensington seven years ago, eventually taking over the space above it for Brassierie Kensington, followed by Container Bar in 2014. Dobranski, however, is nothing like you’d expect. Actually, he is unlike anything you could expect. He’s a curious combination of warmth with a very serious air about him; he’s reserved and strategic, while being raw and candid. He’s jovial and colourful, with very muted moments. He’s quiet and polite, but all the while he swears on the record to another question. Above all else, he lights up when he speaks about his city and community, and it’s easy to see why he’s made this place his home. “Nobody ever held my hand”

Cooking is something that came naturally to Chef Dobranski. He started in the hospitality industry when he was just 12 years old, washing dishes in a small cafe owned by his late uncle, who coached him along the way. “I curse him sometimes for getting me into this industry,” he laughs. “At the same time, I’d give him a high five because it’s gotten me to where I am.” Chef Dobranski says that café was where it all started for him. Right there, in that small, family-owned restaurant with his uncle. He was washing dishes and eventually learnt the line for breakfast service. During junior high and high school, Chef Dobranski moved around the industry, working at Earls and other restaurants. It was when he decided on college that Chef Dobranski says he came to a crossroads. He was accepted into two very different programs - Culinary Arts and Biology Sciences Technology. “I decided around 18, to go into culinary arts. I wanted to travel and see the world. I thought it would be fun... And back then, there was no Food Network.” After choosing and completing the Culinary Arts program at NAIT in Edmonton, Chef Dobranski worked at NOtaBLE and Edmonton fine dining restaurant and Hardwood Grill. Eventually, under the guidance of Chef Larry Stewart, Chef Dobranski learned the fundamentals of running a business. “He was kind of a hard ass, but he taught me some really good organization and cleanliness, and I just got a taste of what a real chef should be like.” Playing at the International Level

When discussing his accolades and accomplishments, Chef Dobranski casually mentions going to Europe and Germany with the Culinary Team Alberta. He was asked to join the team while studying at NAIT. From there, he travelled to Erfurt, Germany where he and the team competed in the worldwide Culinary Olympics. It was one particular morning in Germany that a chef in Zurich,

Switzerland called Chef Dobranski up and asked if he would like to come work with him. He decided to drive down to Zurich to meet with the chef and then took the job. “I flew back to Canada, got my shit together, packed up, and moved to Switzerland. I was there for a year.” Since he was then based out of Zurich, Dobranski was able to hone his creative side. “It was when I really got the knack of being creative. My chef would just throw a piece of something on my board, and be like, ‘Do something.’” He attributes his time in Switzerland to some of the more key moments in his career. “I was doing what I wanted to do, travelling the world, meeting interesting people and doing weird shit that I probably can’t repeat.” Chef Dobranski had finally found his calling. After a year in Zurich, he decided to come back to Alberta to attend a Business Management and Operations program. He finished the two-year program within 12 months. He then had the opportunity to move to Calgary in 2004. He remembers saying that he was only going to be here for a year before moving back to Europe. Chef Dobranski had moved here with a girl and, “she ended up leaving and I ended up staying... And then just kind of building my businesses from there.” You know, casually “just” building three of Calgary’s most well known spots, along with creating another two businesses that ship internationally. Chef Dobranski was making a name for himself. Calgary

Now constantly being referred to as a “serial entrepreneur,” Chef Dobranski saw huge opportunities in Calgary which prompted him to create Wine Bar after the big boom, with Brasserie Kensington following a few years later. In 2014, Dobranski saw the opening of Container Bar, a small all-recyclable bar in a former alleyway beside the building that houses Wine Bar and Brasserie. He says that Kensington is the only place he sees himself. “I just like it here. It’s a neighbourhood. It’s funky. It’s still growing,” he says. “The neighbourhood just really supports us, so that’s really cool. I just love it here.” And his advice to future entrepreneurs? “Have confidence in your decisions. Hold yourself accountable. Have a solution. There’s nothing worse than not having a solution and not saying that you fucked up. Just say, ‘Hey I fucked up.’” Ironically, it seems like this guy hasn’t messed up a single thing. Everything he touches turns to gold (or rather, a really cool, recycled outdoor bar).


Beef Tartare

Serves two to four people - 6oz (180g) of finely chopped and chilled Grass Fed Alberta Sirloin - 1.5 Brunoise shallot - 2 tablespoons parsley - 1.5 tablespoons grainy mustard - 2 tablespoons diced dill pickle - 1 tablespoon Tabasco or hot sauce - 1.5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Salt and pepper to taste, Marash Pepper, Fresh Horseradish 1. Mix all in a bowl until combined. 2. With a ring mold, place the tartare in the middle and press down until compressed. 3. Take a fresh farm egg and separate the yolk from the whites. Make an indent on the tartare and place the egg yolk in the dent. 4. Shave fresh horseradish on top. 5. Sprinkle on Marash pepper and Maldon Salt. 6. Serve immediately.



The Developer reserves the right to make changes and modiďŹ cations to maintain the high standards of these homes. Square footage and measurements are approximate. E&OE.

started from the garden, now its here how Dirtbelly is growing the taste of clean food.

words by Lauren Steeves 64 | TASTING | ADVERTORIAL


all been there before. You’re busy shopping or working and decide to stop for a quick bite at the food court to avoid becoming full-on hangry. As you scan the food court looking at what to eat, you can’t help but feel like your options are limited, even though there are dozens of businesses. But let’s be real, everything looks the same and everything tastes like junk food. You know that whatever you decide to eat is going to leave you feeling disappointed, or second-guessing your ability to squeeze into those new skinny jeans you just bought. I’ve got one word you need to add to your vocabulary stat – Dirtbelly. Dirtbelly, the name seems odd, but in fact it’s a playful, not-soserious way to describe its roots. With a menu lineup inspired by earthy gems like roots, shoots, leaves and fruit, this is one place you’ll find all the garden candy you can handle. This local eatery opened its first location at the +15 level in TD Square in June of last year and the outpost itself, is housed in a crisp industrial space, with a napa-like ‘vedge-shed,’ and oozes a farm fresh vibe. A second location is hitting Market Mall this month. Dirtbelly may be new to the block, but it’s quickly changing the game, the look, and most importantly, the taste of fast food. Yet that comes as no surprise when you start digging into the company’s roots. From the ground up Dirtbelly was founded by the same group that introduced us to the world of juice in 1998, with a little company called Jugo Juice. At that time, no one would have expected a company that served juice to grow to over 150 stores across Canada, but then again, that’s what sets this group apart from the rest – they are truly innovators that are always one step ahead of the pack, especially when it comes to our taste buds. So what inspired the creation of Dirtbelly? Well, like Jugo Juice, they saw something missing in the food scene and wanted to fill the void. Dirtbelly is a fun, healthy concept. We can all agree that there’s a need in the marketplace for healthy, good-tasting food served in a fast, casual environment, and that was the intention of the first location. Dirtbelly understands our lives are go, go, go, and it recognizes that we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health in exchange for convenience. Unlike most fast food offerings, Dirtbelly’s menu is full of all the good stuff that you would expect to find in a garden like beets, carrots, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. The look behind this company is full of vivid imagery and colours. So it comes as no surprise that its name is from a picturesque day spent in the garden picking vegetables and fruit, that goes right from the dirt, into your belly – a name that doesn’t require you to be a green thumb to remember, or appreciate. Oh kale yeah Dirtbelly’s menu is inspired by taking nature’s bounty of healthy, fresh vegetables and combining them with in-house dressings and unique ingredients that really hit your palette in a gourmet way, where you think, ‘Wow that’s unreal – the flavours, the texture and the colours.’ Dirtbelly’s signature staple is its delicious salads by-the-scoop, and they definitely can’t be compared to the basic food court Caesar salad that you get, that lacks flavour or is doused in dressing overload. Unlike typical fast food, its ingredients are actually fresh and mostly local with everything made in-house—including its dressings and vinaigrettes. Plus you can add grilled chicken, seared ahi tuna, or a

vedge patty to boost your protein intake. Not only does Dirtbelly’s salads rock your palette, but they also are creative and innovative in their variety. Despite knowing that we should eat healthy, a lot of us just don’t commit to it because we think healthy food is not as tasty as a deep fried tater tot. But what Dirtbelly does well is really combining things on the menu that offer a great gourmet experience for customers. For example, its curry cauliflower recipe is made from scratch by first roasting apples and onions in a curry before they’re blended into a dressing to achieve the kind of unique flavours you won’t find anywhere else, except maybe your mom’s kitchen. We’ve all experienced times when you are so hungry that you are literally ready to eat the new boots you just bought, and in those dark times, it’s hard to imagine getting full off of lettuce. After all, we aren’t cows that can afford to graze on grass all day. But after chowing down on Dirtbelly’s salads, there’s no way you will be heading back to a work meeting with a stomach that’s talking louder than your boss. In fact, that’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions about Dirtbelly. “We’re eating healthy,” a phrase we’ve all said, even more than Lindsay Lohan says she’s sober. In our best efforts, we try to find places that have killer salads and nutritious food that’s actually filling, but the truth is these eateries are few and far between. Dirtbelly challenges this perception by combining the different salads together with ingredients like vegetables, spices, seasoning and protein in them. Give them something to taco about Eating healthy is great and all, but you know there are times where you can’t stand the thought of having another salad, and the temptation of the greasy burger and fries combo is looking you straight in the eyes. You know you shouldn’t cave, but at the same time YOLO, right? Unfortunately, YOLO can’t be your excuse for everything. In case your adult taste buds are like Justin Bieber, and haven’t quite grown into vegetable-loving maturity, no need to fret, Dirtbelly’s still got you covered. Dirtbelly’s most crave worthy food item combines the best of our favourite things, tacos and bread, giving us the baco. No you’re not dreaming, bacos are real and they are oh-so-yummy. Inside of its warm bread, the baco is filled with juicy protein like seared ahi tuna or grilled chicken and signature garden fillings and fresh herbs. Unlike burgers and fries, this is actually a well-rounded meal you can feel good about, taking your level of adulting to new heights. It only takes one bite before the baco is all you can taco about. Shop ‘til you drop For most of us, shopping is considered our cardio for the week. So to keep you hustling to find the ultimate date night look, you need something to energize you. Rather than reaching for another cup of joe or a sugary energy drink, head over and try one of Dirtbelly’s energy superballs instead. These super snacks look like mini-donuts and give you instant motivation to keep searching the racks. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they taste like little balls of heaven. But if you’d rather try something else to fuel your day, you might want to reach for a cold-pressed juice. Since there’s no oxidation, the juice is able to keep all of its nutrients, so you’re not getting liquid sugar in a bottle. They also offer Tealadas, a signature infusion of tea with fruit and herbs served over ice. So next time you hit the mall, say kale yeah to Dirtbelly’s signature salads and blissful bacos. After all, we’re all adults now, so it’s time for us to grow up, and make better life choices.


#xoyyc #wearethenobles

Dr. Louis Grondin MD, MBA, MScPd, FACPh






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DATING Grab your honey and some popcorn, this is one date you’ll want to see on the big screen.





it’s a musical life words by Adam Culligan

As the city of Calgary prepares to deliver a full dose of musical awesomeness in 2016 I can’t help but be excited for all of us. Think about all the first kisses that are going to be cemented by the Justin Bieber concert...or how many people will experience their first philharmonic as Calgary’s own celebrated 60 years in 2015. Music makes life better and life in Calgary will benefit from an onslaught of very cool musical events. How will it impact your life, you ask? Raise your hand if you’ve ever been busted wailing away behind the wheel of your car to your favourite song. Anyone? If your hand isn’t up you are either lying or you have no musical soul. Few things give me more satisfaction than pulling up next to a fellow car singer in traffic who is just lost in the moment – drumming the steering wheel, bobbing your head or executing a flawless driving fist pump. You are my inspiration. Be it Taylor Swift or David Bowie. Bruce Springsteen or Dave Grohl, Bon Iver or Ryan Adams. They have given you a little bit ‘extra’ in that moment and it’s a beautiful thing. This is impact in the simplest form. Besides creating a little extra float for our boat, music anchors moments in our life with ruthless efficiency – good memories and bad. They’re all there, hiding out in the attic of our minds until one day, on comes Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you immediately go back to when you called that girl eight times in one day. Why wouldn’t she pick up? And why the hell does this song remind me of it? Music populates our lives at every turn. It builds us up and can sometimes break us down. I’m sure you have plenty of times where it has done one, or the other, or both. I could fill this page and every one after it with musical reference points that would tell the story of my life, but these are my five musical anchors: Number 1. After a horrible breakup out on the coast, I was crying myself to sleep with Ryan Adams and his album Heartbreaker. I still can’t listen to Come Pick Me Up without getting a little misty. Number 2. Leaving Edmonton for said coast with said girl and

my best friend hands me Bruce Springsteen’s album, Nebraska. With it there is a note. ‘I hope this album teaches you as much as it taught me’. I’m still figuring it out, but I still love Bruce and I still love that friend. Number 3. I left a surprise copy of Ray Lamontagne’s album, Trouble hanging on the door handle of my future wife’s Toyota Corolla after our second date. I left a little example of my soul hanging in that plastic bag and thankfully it fell into a musical heart. Ray still gets a lot of airtime in our home. Number 4. My best friend is in a band called The Dungarees. They’ve opened for Blake Shelton. They’ve opened for Miranda. They’ve headlined at Stampede and a bunch of shows and festivals in and around Alberta and beyond. One night, years before all that, we were sitting in the dark in our apartment, and he played my favourite song of his just for me. Harmonica and all. Say what you want, but that was a beautiful moment and I’ll never forget what it stirred up. Number 5. Any road trip with my dad, ever. The other day I reconnected with Night Moves by Bob Seger. Every note reminded me of those trips and as the song built to its crescendo I fell right back into the passenger seat. We would point the car west, roll the windows down and crank the knob to 11 as the wind and the music just washed away the city. Music can also feed your soul in the simpler moments of the every day. I had a really good friend of mine tell me a story of his time in Toronto. The thing he remembers most about living there was taking the TTC every day listening to his iPod. It was the best 45 minutes of his day as he had the freedom to escape to Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics albums. So much so that he can’t listen to them now and not think of his time there. There might be some rather difficult commutes in Calgary this year. Perhaps now, more than ever, we should turn to music and allow it to fill our daily voids with hope, nostalgia and even a little laughter? I mean, you simply can’t be unhappy when that staccato beat sends you off with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back.

Besides creating a little extra float for our boat, music anchors moments in our life with ruthless efficiency. Good memories and bad.

On top of all that, music can inspire you to be your best. In Major League Baseball, whenever they call in the closing pitcher, he gets to walk out to a power song of his choosing. This song is intended to flip a mental switch. One of my favourite conversation starters is asking my friends, if you were a major league closer, what would your ‘song’ be? Well now I pose that question to you. If you had to pick a song today to inspire you to kick ass, what would it be? What will fire you up, make you smile and stir your verve enough so that nothing will stop you? Whatever it is; find that track and put it in the rotation, then crank it to 11 and pump your fist. Whether it’s work, relationships or life in general giving you a hard time, let the music carry you through it. BRANDED | 77

I’ve been work, work, work, work, working on my shit. words by Mandy Balak I often wish I could go slap some sense into my younger self. Taking advice in advance has never worked for me. I fail hard, in the most disastrous, drag-yourself-through-the-mudways, before the lesson really sticks. Perhaps I don’t understand the true meaning of consequence, or I’m averse to risk or maybe I trust myself to act instinctively. In any case, the hard way consistently shows up as the most meaningful way for me to go. If you’re one of those people who listened to their mama the first time, or receives great advice and can instantly apply it to your life, I commend you. I am not that girl. Somewhere along my journey I got the idea that relationships were easy. Bey and Jay make it look so simple - “Put us together, how they gon’ stop both us?” Don’t get caught trying to follow a fairytale, it’s a trap. The truth is that a meaningful relationship is fucking hard and what may appear to be all “mami’s a rider, and I’m a roller” from the outside, more often than not isn’t what it seems. The older I get, the greater my expectations are of each relationship - the stakes are always higher and I want all my chips in the middle. I have become captivated with hearing about all types of relationships and am obsessed with trying to understand what ‘normal’ is so I can manage my expectations. Curiosity flows through me as I uncover what issues arise for my friends in their relationships and how much time it takes for them to bounce back from conflict. I have invested time, energy and many late nights into learning how to communicate with the people who are most important in my life and no matter what, I still come up short. Part of me feels relief when I can relate to the struggles that people consume themselves with, the overanalyzing, the fear, all the big deals out of little things that we jeopardize 78 | DATING

everything for. I am guilty of all of it. What I have discovered through all of my curious conversations, is there is no such thing as normal. We are all broken. We are all damaged in some way. And we’re all fighting for a happily ever after, a pursuit of something great with someone equally as damaged and broken. So, when I ask those couples who have endured the test of time, “ What’s your trick?” Their answer is always, “ You simply have to put in the work.” The work a couple puts forth might be about compromise, patience and communication - how to speak each other’s love languages, how to respect past baggage, how to ease pain and show support unconditionally, and it will most definitely be messy. But the harder, more challenging work is actually the work you have to do on yourself. The painful, gritty lessons like learning how to be vulnerable without ego or pride, and to really listen with empathy and compassion. Take note, it’s not about being right. One thing I have learnt from being stubborn and defensive in my relationships is that it gets me nowhere. I’ve been guilty of listening to respond, instead of listening to understand and passing blame instead of owning what I’m accountable for. I now realize I have no control over anything in life except for my actions. There is one thing I know for sure: If you’re unhappy in your relationship, and you’ve accepted yourself as ‘too damaged’, or are unwilling to accept responsibility for the work you need to do – there is no point in trying. Pack your bags. Move on. You will meet someone new. They will be charming and perfect for you, and then, you’ll find your same underlying issues repeating themselves. Reality check. The constant, is you.

your mom that is truly worth the pursuit. Maybe it’s not a matter of trading up, or the grass being Vulnerability is a very uncomfortable place for me. greener. Maybe it’s a matter of truly acknowledging how you I like to keep my feelings locked up tight. I am terrified of could have shown up better. what people might think if they see me be weak so I show Now this is the tough stuff - the lessons too damaging up strong, poised and on the defensive. You know, ‘be cool’ to my pride for me to pay attention to before experiencing - except that’s where things fall apart. I’m so conditioned real loss. Every day I’m experiencing new lessons about to put on a smile and a fearless attitude that I’ve avoided honesty, letting go, non-judgement, compassion, empathy – admitting how I really feel and what my potential is to really the skills that can only be learned by losing something that emotionally show up. Vulnerability offers us the courage to matters the most to you by walking through the fire. let our guard down, and when we can do that we can release Have you ever ended a relationship and found yourself, the accountability of our failures from anyone but ourselves. with a bottle of wine and your closest friends, justifying every Relationship skills are learned and often have to be reason why your ex ruined your life? Your friends cheering reformed and refined over and over again depending on the you on like, “You don’t need that shit, you’re so much better type of examples you were influenced by growing up or your than that.” partner’s zodiac sign. A certain etiquette only perfected with Yeah, that feels good for a minute. You feel validated, time, they take willingness to accomplish and humility to you feel right. deliver. These skills require a level of emotional maturity that Until the next day when you wake up with a hangover is easy to write about and extremely hard to put to practice. and realize that you’re in the exact same place. Your fan club Once you accept responsibility for your own happiness has gone home, and you don’t feel quite as strong as you did and well-being and hold yourself accountable for having the night before. gotten to the place you are at - you can stop and decide. You In times of extreme failure, we surround ourselves with can look around and dig deep inside of yourself knowing this safety because we are terrified to take responsibility that you are the only one capable of changing your own for ourselves. We leave relationships, we quit jobs, we stop circumstance. Let everyone else off the hook for some returning texts because we cannot imagine ourselves being unwritten contract that it’s his or her job to make you feel anything but perfect. whole or worthy. Light your own damn fire. You’ll be so much Did you really show up the best you could have? more loveable if you love and respect yourself. Taking the Accountability is the first step in learning how to alone time you need to know who you are, what you need be in control of your actions. You need to be able to look and what you can give will yourself in the mirror and say “I fucked up” having “The more vulnerable you let yourself define how much you’re willing to work – what is the courage to own your be in acknowledging where you fell really important to you – and shit so you can start making progress towards the person short, the greater the potential for you you’ll get what you give. Sure, it’s not all you. you actually want to be to dive into the self-worth account and There are two people in a rather than simply passing celebrate your growth.” relationship and of course blame and moving on to the you’ve been hurt in the next one. crossfire. But you cannot change that, and you can’t control The reward you gain from investing in yourself is what anyone does but you. So, let go of the anger. Accept invaluable. You get to stand proud in front of that same that your partner may not be the villain you made them mirror reflecting on your scars and your stories knowing out to be and maybe you aren’t as innocent as you believe that each and every one of them was earned. The more yourself to be. Don’t pass on the opportunity of your failures vulnerable you let yourself be in acknowledging where to transform your resentment and self-pity into empathy and you fell short, the greater the potential for you to dive into compassion. the self worth account and celebrate your growth. And the The work you are doing has to mean something. It has scariest part about being vulnerable, is being exposed. The to yield progress in your relationship and in your life. If there moment you choose to open up and share is the moment are two hearts, fighting against each other instead of with you’re asking someone else to save a space for you, to drop each other, it’s a losing battle. Set an intention of kindness everything important to help you through those moments. to yourself and to each other as we accept our failures as In my experience, when someone is asking for your help, opportunities to grow. acknowledge that you’ve earned that place and it is your I challenge you to ask yourself what matters. Is the work privilege to be there for them. you’re putting in the best you’ve got? If you walk away today It is no secret that relationships are hard. Truly letting can you honestly tell yourself you did everything you could your guard down and trusting someone else with your heart to show up the best way you could? and being trusted with that gift is our greatest responsibility, Creating rich and meaningful relationships requires and the circumstances aren’t always ideal to perform. Our all the hard work and that work doesn’t allow you to take generation is conditioned to throw things away when they a day off. You have to show up, ready to deliver, and most aren’t perfect instead of actually doing the work. We cut our importantly you actually have to do great work. It’s not going losses, because YOLO, and we can always swipe right. But it’s to do itself. We can’t always do it right the first time, but can the enduring kind of love, the kind that grows with you and we make progress, and after a while you learn to fall in love supports you through your most trying challenging times, with the necessary hard work it takes to really change. your bad haircuts, your bad habits and Sunday supper with

She Said

She Said HE SAID


Only a few days after breaking up I noticed (a.k.a. I was social media stalking) that my ex had deleted all the pictures of us off of his Instagram, which really hurt. What is the protocol here, should I delete my pictures too? - Female, broken up, 31

Balls. That sucks, it seems like a knee jerk reaction. Doesn’t he know how many people get back together after breaking up? My first reaction is, ‘Duh! Of course you delete all the pics.’ You don’t want that interfering with your next romantic opportunity. But then I wonder, how long was the relationship and is it really over? Before the Internet, people would tear up or burn pictures or put them in a shoebox. Deleting seems so final to me. The person was a big part of your life, but people do crazy things when they are hurt or emotional.


He’s deleted them for one of two reasons: A) He’s on the market and he doesn’t want any questions about all those pics with him and some hottie, or B) He’s really hurt, angry, and doing it to piss you off. Yes, he’s a kid inside, a poor little man-child. The reality is, when you move on to your next love interest – and believe me you will – the new guy probably won’t want to see any kissing or PDA pictures of you and your ex, just like you won’t want to see any of him and his ex. So do you delete them? If it’s truly over and you want to move on, yes, absolutely. If you’re waiting for things to change, maybe don’t inflame the fire by deleting them. You can also take them down and file them away in a weirdly marked folder on your computer. When the storm passes and emotions aren’t so raw, then decide if you want to permanently delete them. And who knows, maybe that’s exactly what your ex did too. Also, if you’re on Facebook, they’re rolling out a tool to help limit your exposure to your ex after you break up, which will probably help you to not get upset while lurking in the future.

the theatre date

Fashion is coming back full circle this season with 70s inspired shapes and fabrics a la Chanel. With the flare making a strong comeback this time of year ladies should take advantage of this flattering shape. Match your pants with a great pair of heels and you’re set for a dayto-night date look. Who said pocket squares should only be worn with jackets? Add one to a casual shirt to switch things up and be a trendsetter. It’s a fun twist that says, “I wanted to be comfy but I also wanted to be a gentleman.” Hottest shoe for both sexes this season? Adidas Stan Smiths. It doesn’t matter what colour you choose to buy, this shoe will keep you super comfy and right on trend.

him: Zanerobe pant ($150) Hudson North shirt ($25), Molls & Dolls pocket square ($70), Adidas shoes ($115), H&M socks ($13).

her: Marc Cain pants ($230), Marc Cain cardigan ($750), Marc Cain blouse ($310), Marc Cain shoes ($570), A.M.K. necklace ($75).

photo by Krystal Boyd, styling by Hazel Anderson, shot on location at The Plaza Theatre Calgary BRANDED | 81

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STYLING Kelley McKinlay of the Alberta Ballet shows us how streetwear can be dressed up for a sharp look both onstage and off.




headbanger These styles make it so you can bang your head to the beat and still look like a 10. Whether you’re walking to the bus stop or heading to a show, these hairstyles scream creativity, and why not throw on some headphones and match your music to your style? hair + makeup: Alex Kool (RedBloom Salon), clothing: 27 Boutique, model: Cath Wood, Urbanears provided by Lukes Drug Mart


(left page) Fringe fishtail braid + Urbanears Plattan in White. (from L to R) Sporty, textured ponytail + Urbanears Humlan in Tomato. Threestrand fishtail braid + Urbanears Zinken in Dark Grey. “The Miley� buns + Urbanears Plattan in White. Neon side braid + Urbanears Kransen in Chick. BRANDED | 85


Las Palmas A fashion story by Kim Noseworthy and Jessica Pechet Clothing from A Vintage Affair


Previous: Anna Kosturova Filigree Mini Dress ($265) Current: Anna Kosturova Bianca Dress ($525) 88 | STYLING


Anna Kosturova Gypsy Bikini ($170) 90 | STYLING



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photos - Asim Overstands dancer - Kelley McKinlay (Alberta Ballet) styling - Lauren Larsen (Ensemble Style) hair + makeup - Alex Kool (RedBloom Salon), hair assistant - Jordan Mabey (RedBloom Salon)

When it comes to our wardrobe, we require all the comfort we can get. Kelley McKinlay, who is currently celebrating his 14th season with the Alberta Ballet, demonstrates how movement and fashion can fuse together to keep us springing forward and looking fresh no matter where we’re headed.


PREVIOUS PAGE: Chapter shirt $178 (Leo Boutique) Steven Alan pant $270 (Leo Boutique) Trafalgar suspenders $127 (Nordstrom) CURRENT PAGE: (Complete look from Less 17) Reigning Champ tank $65, Reigning Champ shorts $85, Nike pants $120.


M0851 jacket $1065 (M0851), Pomandere pants $295 (Gravity Pope). BRANDED | 95

Arc’teryx Veilance jacket $1,100 (Leo Boutique), Unitard (dancer’s own), Nike pant $120 (Less 17). 96 | STYLING

Nike shorts $220 (Less 17), Reigning Champ shorts $85 (Less 17).


BACK BAR All hail Calgary’s cocktail! We shed some light on the fabulous creation that was born right in the heart of YYC.




124 10 Street NW Calgary AB (Upstairs) @oaktreetavern


Oak Tree Tavern

Where Kensington goes for cocktails. Live DJ every Saturday




124 10 Street NW Calgary AB



TARTAN TAI A sophisticated spin on the Mai Tai, the Tartan Tai is perfect for an entry-level scotch drinker. With its light, lemony and masculine flavour, this cocktail will make you feel like you’re on vacation after just one sip. Recipe crafted by: Alex Newman Location: PRLR Ingredients: Ardbeg 10 Year Old, Rye, Cointreau, lemon, Orgeat syrup


102 | BACK BAR

Ask the Bartender: Conor McGrath (Off Cut Bar @ The Nash)

Each issue we ask one of YYC’s finest mixologists to write about a topic of their choice within boozy realm of bartending. They enlighten us with anecdotes, experiences and lessons they’ve learned during their time behind the wood.

words by Conor McGrath photos by Krystal Boyd

“I would give all of my fame for a pot of ale and safety,” Shakespeare – Henry V. Now I may be taking this out of context but I feel this quote embodies the spirit and passion people have for the drink. It has certainly been one of my favourite past times, starting with questionable choices and a tolerance of a goldfish. Over a decade of fulfilling my love affair with the bar top, I have come to take comfort in an industry that has and will always be there for the people. Like those before me, I started in the dish-pit on the bottom rung of a very tall and sometimes dodgy ladder. It appealed to me almost instantly. I spent many years in many kitchens. In my personal experience, walking into a new kitchen is one of the most stressful and rewarding things one can do. It’s that feeling of stepping into the unknown and hoping your experience can carry you through. It’s always a comfort to know there is a bar, if not where you work, then close by waiting for you at the end of that shift – somewhere to drown one’s sorrows or celebrate one’s triumphs. My longing for the bar grew ever bigger over the years, mostly spent sitting at it talking to my work mates or hashing out issues for the next day’s service. This has always been a comfortable place to be. About a year ago things changed. My love of the industry was still there, but I wanted something different, so I took to the warm embrace of the bar – the place that has been there for me through the thick and thin of it all and with some praise from others, I was given the opportunity to try my hand at bartending where I found my stride almost immediately. I haven’t looked back. There’s something to be said about the room where I now tend bar at The Nash: our history and our place in it. I am fortunate to be able to work in a room that for over a century has (in

one form or another) been providing the warm comforts of spirits that we all long for. From the railroaders and cowboys to the bootleggers and the bankers, the room has seen it all. When it’s quiet, and my mind wanders, I imagine what the room was like and the stories it holds. Within the room are the people I am privileged to call my colleagues. The knowledge and passion I see on a daily basis is mindboggling and is a constant motivation. We want to give our guests the same warmth and comfort that brought us through the doors in the first place. The feeling of family that we have and the mutual support spurs some of the most creative and exciting meals and cocktails I’ve been apart of. It’s a very exciting time for bartending and being encouraged to explore and develop my craft along with others is very rewarding. This passion and creativity can be seen in the product that we choose to use in the bar. While I’d love to serve up some bathtub gin, the AGLC (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission) wouldn’t be far behind, so instead we make our own cordials and shrubs. Along with a select back bar and an attention to quality, we can bring the guest the best drinks we make with a lot of personal character in them. The combination of these elements is why I love what I do. It’s the same reason I’ve always been drawn to the bar. It feels like home to me. No matter where you go or how far you travel, there will always be a stool waiting and a glass ready. I am in a great room with amazing people giving our guests the best we can create. The bar is family and we welcome everyone into our house to share, not just food and drink, but an experience of warmth that bars and pubs and been giving to people for ages, and will continue to do. There is solace in our cups and comfort in our surrounding when we are merry with the warmth of spirits in our stomachs.

Hail Caesar words and photos by Milena Petrovic

Anju Restaurant 104 | BACK BAR

Tommyfield Gastro Pub


t is not creamy like the salad dressing but it proves to be as proud as the Roman Emperor himself by the way it is garnished. It is savoury, spicy and strikingly sippable with a trusted taste and a surprising style. It is a cocktail that originated in Calgary with a touch of English attitude in its name – we’re talking about the Bloody Caesar. The mastermind behind the drink was Calgary Inn’s bartender, Walter Chell. Rewind to 1969 to The Calgary Inn (now Westin Calgary) where Chell worked as a bartender spending months trying to make a signature drink for the grand opening of Marco’s – an Italian restaurant in the hotel. For inspiration he turned away from the sweetness of fruit baskets and turned to the traditional Italian pasta dish, spaghetti alle vongole (pasta with tomato sauce and clams) that he was determined to liquefy. In the pre-Mott’s Clamato days, Chell shucked clams, mashed them, and extracted the juices to add to the drink’s tomato juice base. The clam juice worked well to dilute the thickness of the tomato juice and the briny liquid from the clams punched up the flavour of the tomato. The clam juice is crucial as it sets it apart from its cold tomato-soup-flavoured American cousin, the Bloody Mary. Chell then added vodka, two generous drops of Tobasco, four dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper and poured it on the rocks in a highball glass. Then Chell had to top off the drink with the most distinguishable part of the Caesar – the garnishes that crown the glass. The Caesar takes garnishing bloody seriously. It is a complex, coddled cocktail with the many ingredients it takes to prepare it and with an array of garnishes that adorn it. Originally the highball glass was served with a celery-salt rim, a stalk of celery, and a wedge of lime but over the years, bars started putting their spin on the Caesar’s garnishes to make it the Cadillac of cocktails.

The Westin Calgary

You can find it served with snack-sized pickled garnishes like asparagus, a green bean or the pickle itself. Some bars prefer to serve it with meaty morsels such as a crisped bacon strip or a pepperoni stick. Then there are those bars that garnish for the head turning effect by putting a buffet in the glass with skewered meat and shellfish, and pickled veg alongside the classic fresh stalk of celery and lime of course. Some bartenders even muddle herbs into it. Anju’s modern Asian twist on the classic includes ramen cascading down the glass with crushed seasoning salt on the side. Meanwhile, the bartenders at Tommyfield’s Gastro Pub concocted an eye-catching meal-and-drinkin-one by topping their Caesar off with a breaded chicken slider on a pretzel bun, a green bean, pepperoni stick, a stalk of celery, and just when you think this is a break down of a dinner, add a slice of lime and a jalapeno popper. Legend has it that one of the hotel bar’s regular visitors, an Englishman, tasted the Caesar for the first time and said, “That’s a damn good bloody Caesar.” From then on, the originally classic titled cocktail held on to the English attitude. Today visitors make their way to the Westin’s Liquid Lounge where they get a taste of the original Bloody Caesar. With over 350 million Canadians sipping Caesars yearly, Calgary is proud to be known for a creation aside from ginger beef. The Calgarian concoction went on to become Canada’s National Cocktail, and after 40 years it was announced that May 14th would be the day to commemorate this local treasure. After all without our Bloody Caesar, what would we be drinking? …a Bloody Mary? All too often, Calgary gets labeled for its ‘steak and potatoes’ and ‘yee-haw-ing cowboy’ culture but the Bloody Caesar revives our city’s image (and most people on Saturday mornings after a night out). Cheers to Chell for creating a deliciously robust umami-flavoured cocktail and the arch-nemesis of hangovers. BRANDED | 105




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Profile for Branded Magazine

Branded Magazine: The Verve  

Issue nine of Calgary's lifestyle magazine.

Branded Magazine: The Verve  

Issue nine of Calgary's lifestyle magazine.