Page 1


CARRIE JADE CAI Carrie is both a creative hustler & visual storyteller. @carricature



EDITORS-IN-CHIEF, PUBLISHERS, CREATIVE DIRECTORS Dylan Bell & Sarah Amormino @byldell & @sarahamor


COPY EDITOR Linda Nguyen


Julia Kluga


Devon Little, Alexandra Votsis, Carrie Jade, Mac Bauer


Ailia Rizvi, Jordann Murray, Katie Burns, Kayla Free, Madeleine Gross, Kathryn Macnaughton, Natalia Orsanin, Kaitie Ross, Megan Stulberg, Niko Nice


Corey Lof, Courtney Miceli, Ebyan Abidgir, Julia Ho, Manaal Ismacil


Nicole Contador, Romany Williams


Nicole Prager


Sheldon Storey | Old Soul

COVER Allie Lee, Clairmont The Second, Dollar Paris, Charli Champ shot by Devon Little in Studio 223A in Kensington Market


“Untitled” by Andrew McEwan, @ohwownice


Stephen Trumper, for letting us completely fuck off to create this

CONTACT| @brokemgzn Broke is published twice a year.

© 2015. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission from the publishers. Views expressed in Broke are those of their respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the editorial team.

PRINTER Meade Graphics



ON BURGERS AND BITCHES We are hungry. Well, we were hungry. The type of hunger where you can’t think straight. The hunger where every other thought is a different dessert, every scent is just as tantalizing as the one that came before. The hunger where your brain starts telling your eyes that your teacher’s arms are savoury chicken drumstricks in disguise. The hunger you have no option left but to deal with.

This painful, desperate hunger only happens when you let it get to the point where your stomach takes control of your senses. When you starve it. And yes, unintentionally, we’ve starved ourselves. We did it while we were watching everyone else fill their plates sky high. We were patient because we were taught that’s what we’re supposed to be. Patient. If you wait long enough, your turn will come. Wait in line. Be patient. Well here’s the thing about waiting when you’re hungry: it sucks. That’s why you learned how to spread a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich before you were in kindergarten. That’s also why you knew how to boil water and cook Kraft Dinner before you could spell Mississauga. Because waiting really, really sucks. At one point in your life, you realized you had two options. You could bug one of your parents for a meal and wait the “Be there in a minute!”-minute that was really 25, or you could learn how to fend for yourself. So you bucked up, and you brought your toilet-training potty with you into the pantry and you put whatever edible thing you could find into your mouth. That’s just the way life works. We know this. But at some point—somewhere between the self-deprecating black hole that is high school and the other self-deprecating black hole that is your twenties—a lot of us forgot that we have to fight to be fed. We’ve starved 6|

ourselves of the sustenance our minds need to thrive because there’s an “order” to how everything works in the real world. The real world is Monopoly. The real world says follow the rules. It says do not pass go, do not collect $200. Damn that rulebook. Damn those rules. A moment of silence for those who have fallen into its trap. Shit boys, we lost some good ones. But for those of you who are still here with us, take some advice from two people who absolutely understand: fuck the rules.

Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you thrive. Eat. Eat everything that the world has to offer. Fill yourself to the edges, to the seams, to the brim. Burst, overflow, and be all the richer for it. Go outside of yourself. Go inside of yourself. And then bring everything back into your kitchen. Look at everything you’ve gathered; more than two decades in and you probably don’t even know how to use half of it. Turn on the barbeque, pull out some patties and c’est la vie. You’re old enough to cook for yourself now. You don’t need instructions. You probably never did. You’re already experimenting with everything else in your life, so why not dust off your cutting board and hit up the grocery store for some burger toppings? And not when it’s 1 a.m. and you’re greening out. Now, because the sooner you start spoiling yourself, the less hungry you’ll be. Think about that fat, juicy hamburger. You deserve it. You deserve it today. Why should you wait? There’s already enough saliva dripping from your mouth to drown an ant colony. The anticipation of seeing how much you can fit atop it is only rivaled by your readiness to over-indulge. But like every indulgence, burgers have their consequences too.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how it all starts to go downhill only after you’ve started to enjoy it? Pain-staking patty stacking, perfectly pickled onions and the precise amount of mayonnaise—and yet, after the first bite, it’s gone. You see it slip out right beneath your eyes. Shit gets everywhere. But the point isn’t to save that homemade burger forever. It’s to remember how delicious it was. But you probably don’t care about this stuff. You’ll just run to a street meat vendor and satisfy that craving because that was, and always has been, your quick fix to hunger—a filler for the time being. Enough with the small talk with your grandparents about what you’re doing compared to what you’re actually doing. Who gives a shit about what anyone in your life thinks about it? Stop being patient. Stop playing a supporting role in your own summer blockbuster. Start starring.

You are the storytellers of both today and tomorrow. You’re not “up next.” You’re now. So stop waiting in line, stop following the rules, and start feeding yourself. Feed your brain, your mind, your soul. Do it until you can’t anymore. Do it until you’re satisfied. Do it for your future self. We’ll put it simply: taking control of your life—and what you crave—is so much more fulfilling than letting someone else decide for you. Skip some steps and do what you want. Rip up the rulebook. Pass go, and definitely collect $200.




I carefully walk down an iced-over alleyway in Parkdale with an LCBO bag crunched under my frozen fingers. A stone’s throw from Grand Electric, a group of people stand outside a line of rundown sheds. Smokey exhales billow under the single street light illuminating the face of a white coach house.

The tiny coach house is crammed with friends—some dancing, some sitting on old Fenders, all permeating with a mellow buzz. “Someone once referred to this place as an adult clubhouse,” Sebastian tells me later. “And it’s so true. I just feel like I’m in a sweet treehouse that I spent a lot of money on.”

Faint rhythms leak out of its wooden walls. The door swings open. Music oozes into the alleyway, piquing the curiosity of passerbys. A hand-drawn “Couch House Sound” tattooed inside of the doorframe invites me in.

The space was leased, gutted and furnished by Sebastian, Aleda DeRoche, Lucas Prokaziuk and Max Cotter to create the recording studio they’ve aptly named Coach House Sound. In the early throes of young adulthood, the quartet share an appetite for audio engineering and creative collaboration.

I step over a heaping pile of black leather boots. Sebastian Palfery stands in the corner of the room with a disheveled head of hair and a beer. His tie-dye shirt says “Birthday Boy.” He swings his ‘70s 12-string Rickenbacker knockoff over his chest and gets ready to play the next song with his band, Shaking Hands. The band’s shadow is cast onto the white wall behind them as the crowd huddles around, seduced by the idea of live music on a Friday. 8|

As students, they spent years recording with bands in whichever spaces seemed acoustically plausible—basements, school studios, bedrooms, and even yurts in Northern Ontario. So naturally, it only made sense that they teamed up to facilitate their own space in the city. “Coach House Sound was born out of necessity,” Max says. Their goal? To provide high quality record-

ing space for local artists who need recording resources without breaking the bank. “We’re in between the bedroom recording and the big studio,” Lucas says. They’ve collected an array of technical equipment to piece together a professional control- and live-room. Lucas, Max and Aleda learned the ropes of sound engineering during their time in Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program. Aleda pulled in Sebastian, a childhood friend, who too shared a knack for creating good music. “Us four as artists, or engineers, or whatever we want to call ourselves, think of this space as a home base,” Aleda says. “Somewhere we can bounce ideas off of each other, and have the physical space to collaborate and create.” I sat down with the group on a quieter evening in the coach house. Despite the century-old plot of land and retro furnishings, the space has a raw ambience. Even with such little room to work with, every instrument in the studio has staked its territory.

USE SOUND The group spent weeks scoping out Toronto’s real estate jungle for the perfect place to call home. A funky space with cheap rent popped up on the radar, and Sebastian wandered over see it in flesh. “This guy opened the door, and the smell, the look, everything… I just thought, ‘Oh my god, hell no,” Sebastian says. It wasn’t until he was on his way home after an awkward, “Yeah, I’ll get back to you,” that he realized a few nuts and bolts (and a scented candle or two) could give the space some unique potential. So the group entered the handyman mindset and piled into a van with Home Depot on the horizon. Using YouTube (also known as the 21st Century’s Bible), they learned enough DIY to hollow out the coach house and build its bones from the ground up. The space’s walls and nearly everything within them is a product of repurposing. “It’s like that saying,” adds Max. “One man’s shit is another man’s gold.” Everyone laughs.


Harvesting knowledge from video tutorials and friends’ advice allowed the group to build a legitimately sturdy spot. One wall, however, that slopes down above the window in the control room will forever be the reminder of their learning experience. “I remember lying in bed and having nightmares about how we were going to drywall this weird angle,” Max says. “We had no idea what we were doing at first, but we fucking built this place.” Four months of work were spent sawing, measuring and occasionally playing ping pong on sheets of drywall. A panoramic “before” snap now hangs on the wall to remind the team of their laborious endeavour. To fund the project, the group created an Indiegogo and raised just over $10,000. The funds were put towards tech equipment, building materials and general crew needs. Despite surpassing their goal of $6,000, they dug into the depths of their pockets to support the CHS growth. NUMBER ONE | 9

10 |

Mac is a local photographer with a penchant for film and black and white. @fourcheesepickup


“A BIG PART OF CREATING ART IS THE ENVIRONMENT THAT YOU’RE WORKING IN.” “Yeah, we’re broke—we’re all broke,” Max says. Although serving tips, petty change and pay cheques have been funneled into the project, they all seem to agree that sculpting creativity is worth more than the temporary pleasures of a pair of new kicks. Coach House Sound charges daily rates that are negotiable, and they aren’t charging for the space, but for their time. “We want to be a part of the process and the artistic integrity that comes in and out of here,” Sebastian says. Along with spending time posted up in the control room, Sebastian’s band, Shaking Hands, also reaps the benefits of the space. They recorded the first official session at Coach House Sound. Because of this, he’s profited from both sides of the soundproof window.

12 |

“The thing that we’re trying to do to separate ourselves from the pack is that we provide this intimate experience, whereas a lot of the studios I’ve recorded in have been very cold, very sterile, very intimidating,” Sebastian says. “We’re obviously just starting out too, so we’re going to put a lot into every session.” The CHS crew has worked with local acts like Blonde Elvis, Gay, and Tess Parks in the past. The space is equipped for musical recordings and performances, but the group offers the location to be used by artists of all breeds. “A big part of creating art, no matter what kind of art it is, is the environment that you’re working in. And some weird fucking shed that’s the size of your living room is so cool, and it has such an influence on what you’re making,” Max says.


14 |

As for long-term plans, the group says they’d like to maintain the edgy scrappiness of their initial project. There’s no real interest in establishing the next Sun Studio, but Aleda says she’s always looking to improve on the little things. The next wave of funds will be dedicated to making final renovations in the space, including the construction of a proper washroom. “I mean, I’d like to be able to take a piss inside five years from now,” Aleda says with a laugh. In the meantime, the group will continue to focus on creating a nest for Toronto’s artistic mosaic. They are indulging in the project with open minds and the readiness to learn. “This is what we can afford, and this is what we have access to right now. Humble tools, and a humble environment,” Max says. “[CHS] is like our own classroom. We’re trying to learn our way through the industry.” The “On Air” sign shines red beside a stack of old tapes as they pile into the control room. They hit play and the rock and roll waves of Shaking Hands flood the air. I say my goodbyes and slip a cigarette into the empty pack of Belmonts that’s hanging by a thumbtack on the door. Walking back up the icy alleyway feels a bit warmer this time as the familiar hum from Coach House Sound trails behind me and saturates the city’s night.


* Courtney is a freelance human with an empty notebook. @courtneymiceli




Juju is very poor at multitasking, but she’s known to rock ‘n’ roll on occasion. She’s still looking for her redeeming quality. @jujuwieners

You’ve got some critical eyes Sharpen the corners even more when everything you look at is already cutting through your spine and dislodging your flesh cells from your skin cells Who are you that peers inside my brain garden? The walls of this country have not yet founded Who are you, takes me to class learn with submission the bastards on this street Who are you learning to teach me drought and bran flour feasting on a salmon dinner Who are you behind my socket eyes drowning unwavering soulless spine Come bring in the bounty this country seventeen I am the bottom of coffee mugs stained resin tarred black sediment I am ashes crystal meth lingering sullen breaths I am shaved acid rain core of nothing water droplet I am intense gaze over streetlights weary wander green red yellow Shadow smoke how holy blow drift incantatory rhythmic incense behind the bookshelves of Satan’s bibles peering beneath skirts wretched notebooks full poetry and rhyme hidden behind hidden behind bookshelves of Satan’s bibles

16 |

Meg is a freelance illustrator who spends her spare time running a vegan recipe blog, occasionally jogging, playing with other people’s dogs & drinking too much coffee. @meganstulberg NUMBER ONE 17 |17 17|

AILIA RIZVI Ailia is a 17-year old with green hair & a weakness for angsty teenage girl art. @teenbean98

18 |

KATIE BURNS Katie’s art combines realms of absurdity when layers of pastel meet darker intentions. @katielittleb


THE NEW T Devon Little is a photographer who has established himself through his avid support & passion for Toronto’s music scene. Devon honed his distinct style of portraiture working with a wide range of artists in the city from Young Guv to Sean Leon. @devonlittle

Charli Champ, Clairmont The Second, Dollar Paris, & a l l i e photographed by Devon Little 20 |


Meet your neighbours. These four artists are geniuses. We’re leading with that because genius is all that matters. It’s the peak. Both the rightful King and Queen of adjectives, it’s what every other peasantly word wishes it had been born as. It reigns supreme. Like one of those British philosophers you glazed over when studying once said, “Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire.” We’re not saying they haven’t had to work hard to get to where they are now. They weren’t birthed as heir apparents to the throne of musical greatness. Creativity, dedication and skill have all had their part to play, but genius is what distinguishes them. It’s from genius that innovation happens. Each pioneers in their own ways, these four artists aren’t simply replicating their influences or copping fads that fade. They’re creating music that not only speaks to them, but for them. Music that doesn’t fit neatly into a monosyllabic genre. Music that evolves and grows and thinks. Music that transcends a single feeling and reaches out, grasping for as many emotions as it can manage to fit into its hand. And the best part? Unlike our self-proclaimed “6 God,” who spends more time in his L.A. “YOLO Estate” than anywhere with a six in the area code, they’re kicking it in Kensington and bemoaning the TTC just as often as you are. So for the sake and sanity of everyone actually in the city, turn Drake down for a minute and give them a listen. Come on. An ex-Degrassi ‘star’ up against Toronto’s young elites? No contest. * These are four faces you need to know. Give them a shot and get to know them before the rest of the world does. * We actually really like Drake





When discussing emerging talent in the Toronto music scene, the name a l l i e (Allie Ho-Sang) has become a bit of a buzz word amongst musicians and media types alike. In 2013, the singer/songwriter came into the scene with the release of “Cross My Mind,” which featured frequent collaborator and label mate 2nd Son. The single garnered a significant amount of noise for the self-described “future soul” singer, and led to the release of her debut EP, “Strange Creature.” It’s been nearly two years since then, and talented the songstress has remained far from idle—performing at festivals across North America like M for Montreal, NXNE and CMJ. Not to our surprise,

22 |

she was recently selected for the prestigious Red Bull Academy in March, along with 19 other vocalists, DJs, and producers. With her latest single “Remedy” (produced by the incomparable Nick Wisdom) blowing up the blogosphere—it’s easy to see that 2015 is full of potential for the queen of Toronto’s soul scene. We caught up with her to discuss her origin story, writer’s block, Andre 3000, Kendrick’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and the Toronto music scene. I: How would you describe your sound? allie: I usually call it ‘future soul’ because that’s the easiest way to describe it. The

sound encompasses so many different influences. That’s kind of the most simplistic and easiest way for me to describe it. Ultimately, it’s soul music. I: How did you get started? allie: I wouldn’t call myself a singer for the longest time. I was so shy about it. My dad is a vocalist and plays a lot of different instruments. When I was growing up I was around a lot of different musicians. He tried to get me to sing in front of them and I was always like, ‘I can’t do it.’ I was so bored in university that I started taking vocal lessons and writing songs and that was the clicking point for me.

I: So you started singing out of boredom? allie: Well, I wasn’t bored with life. I was bored with school and I needed something to be excited about. I was living in Montréal and I didn’t know anybody there and that’s why I started taking the lessons. I always wanted to sing in front of people but it was something I did in secret. I didn’t have the confidence. I thought, ‘Okay, if I take these lessons, then maybe I’ll be able to sing in front of my friends and my family.’ I never thought it would go anywhere. Where it’s gone… it has just completely gone beyond what I ever thought I would do. I: I was reading about your participation in the Red Bull Music Academy. How was that experience? allie: It was insane. Being able to walk into any studio and watch how [other musicians] work and everybody was so unique and open. I didn’t feel any sense of ego or like anyone felt like they were above anybody else. It was a really cool experience. It felt like everybody there was having a shared experience of feeling like this was a turning point. Like, after we do this, we aren’t going to be the same. I: I imagine being in a room of people that are entirely like-minded and spending four intensive days together breeds creative energy. Do you see any prospective collaborations coming out of that? allie: Yeah! Definitely. I was working with Beach Season a bunch. There was a little cocktail party the first night and we gravitated towards each other a little bit. We both really liked each other’s music right off the bat. I started working on something with Nick Wisdom and I had already been working with him previous to that. There was just so much talent there. I could’ve connected with so many different people but it was such a short time. With River [Tiber] and Charlotte [Day Wilson], I was super excited to be in a contained area with them for four days, but everyone was jumping around and River ended up doing a lot of mastering on his album. So when we got to jump in the stairwell — I: Was that the stairwell a capella cover of “Know Yourself ”? allie: Yeah. That was kind of like trying to

steal as many moments as you could because you felt the weight of the experience and the time constraint. We had the idea at the beginning. We were joking about it a little—it wasn’t serious at first. Then we went to one of the parties. It was on the second night—it was DJ Quick. We were all in line for the coat check discussing whether we should do it. Then the coat check person handed me my number and it was ‘666’ and we were all like: ‘It’s a sign!’ *laughs* So we did it the next day. I: Well it worked out pretty well. How do you feel about Toronto right now and the music scene here? allie: I feel like it’s crazy right now. I’ve never been this inspired by the city before. I grew up here. I’ve been here my whole life, aside from the few years in Montréal, and I hated Toronto growing up. I just wanted to get out of here. I think I was in this really small isolated bubble. I didn’t really know what was going on, so when I went to Montréal and came back I got to experience this whole other side and become part of this artistic community and it just seems to really keep on expanding. The mentality that there used to be in Toronto, where it was ‘every man for himself,’ it seems like that is starting to disintegrate. There are so many people here that I want to work with and I’m excited about it— especially because I’ve been working with so many people outside of the city in the past year. I’m just looking forward to bringing it back to Toronto.


I: There is a real sense of pride in Toronto now. I always reference the ‘Drake Effect,’ with him representing Toronto— allie: It’s a big effect. *laughs* I: It does have a big affect and it’s kind of undeniable! Are there any emerging artists in Toronto that you’re excited about? allie: I’m super excited for bizZarh. They’re friends of mine and I know their new album is coming out soon, so I’m really excited about them. I’m really excited about KJ [Kieta Juma] too. I really like Birthday Boy. I really like Deebs. There is just so much going on here—Jazz Cartier, too. Instead of it being only a few people to choose from, it feels like there is this wealth. It’s expanding to where it’s a real scene right now. That’s exciting to be a part of.

Manaal is a 20-something who uses her love of words to navigate her obsession with pop culture & politics. No longer a hoarder of her writing, she plans on sharing a collection of her writing & and poetry in the very near future. @manuelaismachil


24 |


I: What are you currently listening to? allie: This morning I was writing in my journal and listening to the new Kendrick.

Redding and Billie Holiday and current stuff — I started getting into the whole beat scene through Fly Lo. I feel like what I make now is a mix of those.

I: What do you think about the album?

I: What is your dream collaboration?

allie: I was so happy this morning because I knew so many other people were listening to it. I felt this weird connectivity, like you’re part of something so much bigger than yourself. I think that he is a genius in the way that he connects people. It’s the way an artist should be. I’ve also been listening to Post Malone. He only has a few tracks out but I’m obsessed with “White Iverson.” Honestly, I’m not listening to that much new music because I’m in a writing mode and I like my writing space to be pretty insular. I’m not taking in too much new stuff right now.

allie: Oh my god… probably Andre 3000. I would love to see what his writing process isbecause no one has lyrics like him.

I: What are some of your major influences? allie: I love D’Angelo. I love Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott. Those four artists were probably the biggest influences on me right before I started putting out music. Then older stuff like Etta James, Otis

I: You’ve said what you are informed by musically. What else are you informed by in the writing world? allie: I was super obsessed with Kerouac growing up, so that element of free writing — just going for it without structure — I got that from him. I feel like all art forms lend themselves to each other. The more stuff that you do in different areas, the more it strengthens whatever your main focus is, you know? I draw and I write and I dance. I grew up as a performer, but I did everything but singing. I was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and I taught for 10 years. I had a strong performance background, but singing was completely different.



I: Do you find that all of those things play more into your role as a singer as its become your main focus? allie: I’m so thankful I have that foundation. Having that comfort on stage is so important and if I didn’t have that—if all of those things weren’t a part of my history it would have been a much harder transition. I: Would you say you’re entirely comfortable on stage then? allie: Yeah. Well, I get really nervous sometimes. It can go either way. Either I’m paralyzed with nerves or I’m just completely *waves hands in the air.* Last year was great because I got to do a lot performances and that gave me the confidence I needed. You have bad days and you have good days. You’re a human being. Somedays you do a show and it’s the worst day of your life, but you still have to perform. That was the biggest learning experience from last year: How do you get in that head space when you’re not feeling it? That’s

the difference between being a hobby artist and a professional artist. I: And when you’re not singing? allie: I read a lot. I write a lot. I’ve been meditating a lot because last year I went through this horrible writer’s block and everything I was writing didn’t feel right. So yeah, I’ve been meditating for years and I got back into it as more of a solid daily practice and that’s really changed my whole shit up. To any artists that are experiencing any kind of block: I recommend meditating. I: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to a young artist? allie: Just remember that nobody can do what you can do. You have a unique voice. You have a unique perspective. Just focus on your craft because everyone starts out trying to replicate and then you get to a point where you have to just create your own lane and be yourself. Be yourself.






28 |

28 |

Clairmont Humphrey II [noun]: A 17-year-old rap artist who hates high school, loves old school & has created music that’s setting the standard for Toronto’s new school. And just like backpack Kanye, the boy wonder is ready to graduate. With 31 tracks on his Soundcloud and two albums under his belt, he’s on the right track. Equal parts production wizard and lyrical wunderkind, he’s got the equation for success down to a science. We shot the shit with the whiz kid himself and sat the guy down to talk music, muses and more. The self-proclaimed revolutionary has one thing he wants to make explicitly clear: ‘I don’t like being treated like I’m young and stupid.’ We’ll vouch. Sit down and get out your notepads—class is now in session.


I: How’d you get to this point? Clairmont: I started playing drums when I was four years old, and then a couple years later my older brother started teaching me how to make beats. From then on, I was always producing and what not. On the side, I would write raps for fun, and I didn’t think that I would ever take rap seriously. Then I met a couple guys in grade nine who rapped, and they said that they would make a track with me, so we actually made a track, and from there I was like: ‘Okay. I actually want to do this seriously.’

that he listened to. It’s funny—everything that he was listening to when I was super young is what I’m listening to now. I: Like who? Clairmont: Outkast, The Neptunes, Missy Elliot—just going back to that time is so nostalgic. I: Those kind of vibes... are they the same thing you try to emulate with your music?

Clairmont: “Don’t Sleep On Us.” We were like a group, and I had the weakest verse, so I was like ‘I’m going to practice super hard – like writing and practicing flows,’ and that’s when it started.

Clairmont: For Project II—the project that I just dropped—I was really focused on just making the album, so I didn’t really have time to do the research. Now that I’ve put that out, I’m doing a lot of research. It won’t be as formal as Project II. When I say that I mean that I’m going to experiment with different sounds because not a lot of people are experimenting right now.

I: So when you say ‘practicing flows,’ how does that work? What’s that process?

I: If you could pull another genre of music into your style, what would it be?

Clairmont: When I write verses, I go over and over them to tighten that flow. To practice flows, I kind of just make sounds with my mouth—beats on beats.

Clairmont: I don’t really know, truthfully. Hopefully the next project is so good that I can’t really identify it. I think that would make it really cool.

I: Where does your inspiration come from?

I: You dropped Project II six months ago and you’re already talking about your next project, eh? What’s the process like for that one? Are you writing stuff already?

I: What was the name of that track?

Clairmont: Honestly, my brother. This smooth sound coming out of Toronto from artists that are making it big right now—it’s not that hard to make. Everybody wants to make stuff that sounds like everybody else’s stuff… instead of trying to make something new. That’s not for me. That’s what I love about my brother’s production line. It’s very abstract. I: What’s his name? Clairmont: Cola. Have you heard of the the OBGMs? He’s the drummer. Honestly, he’s the best producer there is. I’m not saying that because he’s my brother, I just know that he’s the best producer. He raps too. He’s partially why I started rapping seriously—he had this confidence when he rapped, and his flow, and his writing was crazy, like punch line after punch line. I: He’s 10 years older than you, yeah? Did you grow up listening to him? Clairmont: I grew up listening to the stuff

Clairmont: I’m thinking on it. I’ve written a few songs, but I don’t know where it’s going. I know the overall concept of the next one already because so much has happened between the release of Project II and now. I: What’s the premise of that one? Clairmont: People telling me how to do me! No, let me do me, you just watch. I: When it comes down to actually making songs, how does that go down? Clairmont: It’s unorthodox. Sometimes I’ll hear a beat I like and write to it. Or if I’m in a funk and I can’t make a beat, I’ll try to find one I can write to. It’s about finding inspiration. I get inspiration from everything. Everything I interact with, if I’m inspired I’ll write something immediately—I always have material. Everything I write is either something I’ve seen or experienced or felt. NUMBER ONE | 29

30 |


I: Alright, alright. Two meet ‘n’ greets. Go. Clairmont: Chance the Rapper and Andre [3000]—I feel like I want to meet Andre more, because he’s not on social media, so it’s harder to get a hold of him. Andre is pre-Internet age. He’s a legend. I: He doesn’t need Twitter, he’s Andre. Clairmont: And he’s a great lyricist, but yeah, because he’s harder to get ahold of, if I were to meet him I’d be in awe. I think I’d probably just stand there, mute. Prince too. SOS Band. Wu Tang. I: What kind of music would your parents put on in the car when you were a kid? Clairmont: Gospel music. I grew up in Gospel—and it’s in my music too. Even in progressions and producing a beat, it’s grounded in gospel roots. I: You’re 17, you’re in high school. Do you have a muse that you pull from? Clairmont: Teenagers inspire me. I don’t

mean that positively. I’m annoyed by teenagers, and me being one is just... it’s annoying. I: Do your teachers know what you’re up to outside of school? Clairmont: Teachers don’t care. There are a couple teachers who are aware, but they don’t listen to my music, they just know that I make it outside of school, and that’s pretty much all they know. I hate when teachers say, ‘You guys think you’re stressed? This is nothing.’ But half of them don’t realize how full my plate actually is, but I don’t feel like I need to justify myself to them. I just let them talk, and when they see me later, they’ll be like, ‘... Wait…’ *laughs*. I: Yeah—high school sucks for everyone. What do adults say to you? Clairmont: I’m from a Christian family, so adults can be very condescending when you’re not doing that ‘typical job,’ like you know, being a doctor. I’m doing music, I’m doing rap music. *laughs* But, I’d rather be honest doing rap music than not feeling honest doing something else. NUMBER ONE | 31


I: How do your parents feel about you going into the music industry? Clairmont: I know deep down they want me to go to school to get a degree, ‘because a degree will help me,’ but a degree won’t help me become a music artist. There is no job for a music artist. Music is the job, and you don’t need a degree for that. I: You’ve got talent, which is the prerequisite to a successful career in music. The rest comes in time, I guess. Clairmont: I’ve learned quickly how very

few people out there will actually listen to you and support you as a new artist. It’s kind of sad, people don’t support inside their community as much as they do outside of it. Like, when girls go crazy for Justin Beiber, it’s like: ‘I’m literally standing next to you, and you’re not crying for me.’ *laughs* I: I’m sure they’ll be pining by the time your next project is out! When will that be? Clairmont: Whenever it’s done and I’m ready to put it out. I have to be relaxed. During my last [album], I wasn’t relaxed, and being relaxed is important—it’s very very im-

portant. I feel like I shouldn’t be stressed at 17, but I’m stressed at 17. I: Would you rather be stressed now, when you’re young and you can handle it, or would you rather be stressed when you’re old and— Clairmont: Neither! I’d rather just not be stressed. Ever. I: *laughs* That’s the dream. Clairmont: That’s the goal. * NUMBER ONE | 33

bizZarh EBYAN ABDIGIR @bizzarh

Toronto-bred duo bizZarh are everything from the hip-hop/soul power of the late ‘90s to harbingers of cross-genre space-waves from the distant future. Comprised of co-vocalists Dollar Paris & Charli Champ, bizZarh’s intuitive experimental URL sorcery has been trickling into the IRL underground hubs of the city since the duo were in their preteens. Now with their latest release, “Dragon”, the 1993born lyrical witches have transcended the melodic reverie of quiet ecstasy you hear in their earlier songs. I caught up with bizZarh in Allan Gardens to discuss “Dragon,” the black experience, and fucking shit up without giving any explanation. If you don’t know bizZarh yet, you’re about to find out what’s up. I: What’s your creative process like? Dollar Paris: It’s odd. We never wrote a song while we were physically together, it was distant. We would call each other up on the phone like ‘Yo like listen to this,’ and just feed off each other that way. So our creative process is not what you would expect from a typical duo. But it just comes together like a puzzle. Charli Champ: The process is always random. For example, the song “Pangaea” seems super complex as far as a song goes, but the writing process was fluid, it was easy. That song was based on some dreams that we were having. It was produced by one of our favourites, he goes by Afta-1. The way we go creating a song is based on our feels towards our producers. We’ve yet to start producing our own beats, so we develop a spiritual connection to our producers. We have a handful that we just love so much. We just hear a beat that we fall in love with, we just start flowing, and we each come up with vibes that come to us. Essentially, we’re just streaming these creative energies.

34 |


Ebyan is a writer & overall journo-girl based in Toronto. Her name means complete. She’s both everything & nothing @eby3n


I: Your music doesn’t sound like it’s transfixed in a location, especially given that your genre has hip-hop influences. Hip-hop often references a specific demographic. Would you say that bizZarh has one? DP: I don’t really want to talk about struggle in our music, or the hood, the block, where I’m from or whatever. I just want to create this space in my music where I can be free. I don’t really talk about street life in my music. CC: I’m always travelling, you know. Even just mentally. Mentally, I try not to stay in the same place, so I feel like naturally my music is just going to come out like that. Although we’ve lived separately for a long time, we grew up on the same block. I meet people from different places, and I want to connect with people from different places. Not that I don’t forever rep where I came from. I just feel like maybe it’s not in our music because bizZarh is a universal energy, it’s a world wide energy. It’s not stagnant; it’s forever dynamic. I: Do you try to make your music timeless? CC: That’s a really good question. I think the influence that forces that “timeless” energy is the fact that we’ve always been ahead of ourselves, even when we were super young. We’ve always been older than perceived. We were 15 performing at bars we shouldn’t have been in. Our music is definitely ahead of us, and I mean as young as we are physically, we are ageless. I: It feels like you’re both in-tune and on the same wavelength. How would you describe your creative relationship? DP: I feel like it just comes together. We flow like water. CC: We never try to make music, we just spend time together and the music just happens. Not only is it fun, but people are intrigued by it and appreciate it as much as we do. We’re really just casting spells, declaring our dreams, wishes, and trying to construct our reality with some instrumentals in the background. That’s what our music really is. DP: That’s why we don’t put struggle into our music. I’ll never rap or sing about death, because I feel like whatever you put out will come back to you. We’re born to die, but if you put it in your music, it comes to life. 36 |

I: bizZarh channels varying moods, from exuding confidence to calming subtlety. Is that on purpose? CC: We, as an entity, are fire and water. So just as intuitive and soothing as our music can be, it can also be really hot, firey — DP: Explosive. CC: And in your face. And that, first of all, has to do with the fact that we are black, and that we are female, and as black females we are expected to be reserved, calm, docile, and the opposite of what our music is. DP: It’s about being sure of what you do, not making up some story in your music. CC: Our come-up is truthful, where we came from is truthful. We’ve both lived in the hood, we’ve both been raised by single moms. They’ve been our mothers and our fathers, they’ve been our feminine and our masculine energies, they’ve been our chill energies and our confident, aggressive energies. Naturally we put the fire that we put into our music just as much as we put in that water.

I: What is “Dragon” all about? DP: “Dragon” to me feels like a song that empowers women, black women especially, but it’s also about empowering black men as well. We’re mentioning these rapper guys that are just lying in their music, and putting on a front. Some of these men, I really had faith in their music, but they let me down. And it’s because they don’t want to reflect. CC: You can always tell from someone’s music how much reflection they put into it. Like when they go to bed, are they cool with themselves? “Dragon” was definitely our last straw as far as tolerating blatant bullshit. It’s our most social song; it’s the song that has come to address everything that has come outside of us. We’re usually singing about our emotions, and how we want to display ourselves. But “Dragon” is a song that had to be tamed. CC: It’s like this whole trendy ‘Stay woke!’ thing that’s happening. Nah. Go to sleep, get some rest, then wake the fuck up. You’re depriving yourself of sleep, you need that.



CC: People are taking it out of context for sure. That’s a cool analogy. Just comparing sleep to self-awareness, a lot of people are depriving themselves of self-awareness and comparing it with staying awake. Sometimes we have to come through as the sleep fairies, sprinkle a little bit of dust and put people to sleep so they can realize they’re not actually socially aware. I: Do you see a connection in your music to politics now that the single is done? CC: I feel like artists are the most genuine type of politician because they speak for the people. The people genuinely connect to them. They also influence, they actually do something about it. I feel like the only difference between artists as politicians, and government officials as politicians is that we actually relate to people. We can walk into a crowd of 100 people and blend in, whereas a politician sticks out like a sore thumb because they don’t actually connect or relate. I: Those who know you really dig you, and you’re somewhat incognito to everyone else. Is that the goal when you market your music — staying underground? DP: We don’t beg ever. I’ll see people post their Facebook page, and tell everyone to like their stuff. We never do that. We’re grateful for the little that we have, we’re grateful. I don’t ever want to push my music. CC: One thing we truly believe in is that hype is not necessary for growth. We also don’t believe in spamming people with our art. Just in the way that we are vessels for creative energies for our music, we are also magnets to people that respect our music. Real recog-

38 |

nizes real forever, you know. Whether it’s 100 people or 10,000 people, it’s only about the amount of real that respects it. Also, we find it really cool when we come across music. Some of the greatest instrumentals that we’ve ever had or been on, we’ve just come across it online. That feeling—there’s nothing cooler than it. We want to be that experience for someone else. I’d really like it if I could be outside of myself and come across bizZarh. Rather than like, being at Yonge & Dundas whipping mixtapes like Frisbees. I: Do you ever bump your own music? CC: We make music that we want to hear. When we made “Trans Phat,” we made it with the goal of having music that we can get ready to at night. We both love having music playing when we’re getting ready. So we made that with the goal of having mirror music. With “Pangaea,” we wanted a song we could relax to and listen to when it’s raining. When we made “Pluto,” we had a turn-up track, and we were tired of hearing boys talking about living in the trap. I: There’s a wave of diversified content in music. It’s big. What do you think about it? CC: I’m just glad people are accepting the challenge and wanting to be themselves. I’m glad there are a lot more DIY people, like bedroom producers figuring shit out for themselves. It’s fun, and it’s a cool parade of everyone trying to be artists. I: So... new work? Is it a secret? CC: We’ve got some summer feels, but up next is “Dragon.” We’re making spring time right for everyone. We go with the weather.



40 |

When she’s not collaging away, Kayla enjoys making zines & rocking out on her flute.



Hilary-Joyce’s fascination with minor details & experimenting with any bit of art & design tends her learner’s spirit. @gr00ligan

Left: Opal Doily by Hilary-Joyce Arellano Headpiece Sir New York Sweater Three Eighths Pants Right: Opal Doily by Hilary-Joyce Arellano Headpiece J.Lindeberg Jacket Old Soul Backpack Rascals Pants Call It Spring Shoes




Photography Alexandra Votsis Hair & Makeup Nicole Prager Pulling Nicole Contador Styling Sarah & Dylan Set Design Sheldon Storey Models Ryan & Spencer Ostrowski

42 |


21-year old Alexandra is a fashion photographer with international ambitions. She snorts when she laughs. @alexandravotsis

Three Eighths Jacket J.Lindeberg Sweater Three Eighths Undershirt 44 |

Nicole is a wardrobe stylist who went to school for fashion design & interned at More Magazine. @nicolecontador_style

Left: Aldo Toque American Apparel Overalls Three Eighths Sweater Sully Wong Shoes Right: General Idea Sweater American Apparel Pants Aldo Shoes NUMBER ONE | 45

46 |

Ante Meridiem Vest Three Eighths Shirt Ante Meridiem Pants Sully Wong Shoes

Sheldon’s installations & curations establish the experience of a relationship with an object & have been displayed nationally. @sheldon.storey NUMBER ONE | 47

J.Lindeberg Jackets Wordsmiths Shirts Three Eighths Pants Aldo Shoes

48 |

Spencer is a muse for this generation. In being true to who you are & using it as a platform, they are forging a path for acceptance. @spencerostrowski NUMBER ONE | 49

Left: Parloque Jacket Right: Kye Jacket Three Eighths Sweater J.LindebergUndershirt

Nicole has done makeup for Kate King of Dolce & Gabbana, Degrassi star Luke Bilyk, musical artist JWalk, the CAFA Awards & many others. Aside from owning her own freelance company, Nicole also works for MAC Cosmetics. @nicoleprager 50 |

19-year-old Ryan is a goddess trying to find herself in this crazy society. She is currently working hard on her music, schooling & making a name for herself in the modeling industry. @rostrowskii



my achilles heel: i feel too intensely and react too passionately. it’s something i’m learning not to apologize for. while those around me cake themselves in browns and greens their cherub skin protected under weighty lies they’ve come to think of as armour i am trying to find those mad enough to walk with me stark naked into enemy fire; leathery; cracked; bruised skin and all firing cannons of truth: boom! boom! boom! enough to make them realize their armour has a breaking point and so do they.

52 |


Julia is an illustrator, designer & hair stylist. Her works are predominantly black ink & pencil. She has a keen eye for detail & the ability to showcase a person’s natural assets through her art. Julia enjoys singing to the top of the stratosphere & writing songs for her ukulele. @jukl


KATHRYN MACNAUGHTON Kathryn is a collector of vintage magazines. She pulls inspiration from the grit of her risquĂŠ keepsakes & translates them into her own modern interpretations. @kathrynmac

54 |





Niko Nice, Machine Lord. The title isn’t arbitrary. The 22-year-old is meticulous and methodic. His aesthetic is a manifestation of both dedication and determination. We caught up with the graphics guru in Java House to talk brands, branding, careers, and creating. I: You’ve got your fingers on so many different things. What is it that you want people to know you for? Niko: I’m just trying to curate my skills. It’s hard, man. My first goal in the arts, or whatever you call it, was to be the greatest music video director of all time. I remember thinking to myself, “Yo, if you don’t have a Niko Nice music video, you can’t go #1. *laughs* That was gonna be it! But it all changes so quickly. That wasn’t even two years ago. I was enrolled in history at Brock and I was like, ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ Then I had an epiphany to transfer to film, buy a camera, and start shooting and directing. I was 19 at the time, and it made a lot of sense. It was only once I made that first step that I realized I didn’t want to do that, but it gave me the foundation needed to do this.

56 56 ||

I: Where do you see yourself in five years? Niko: Man, I love the creativity of Google. I believe in a Google world where everything is Google. It’d make everything easier. They’re doing some incredible shit. I’m attracted to Google as a company and as a brand and a creative house and an idea incubator. I want to be there. I: What’s your take on the relationship between social media and art? Niko: It’s everything. It’s every part of this life I’m building. Every artist, every person who’s doing something independently needs to consider themselves a brand. If you do that correctly on social media, really only good things can come from it. You’re a place people can explore. I: What’s next? Niko: I’m working on a musical release of my own. The title is Machine Lord Digital. It’ll be an EP consisting of exclusive music from some of the artists I work with.



Niko: I’ll curate, produce, and brand it. And if there are certain artists that read this and want in, holler, and if not, you’ll holler eventually. *laughs* I: That’s sick. And also really… different. Just like everything you’re working on. Niko: I don’t believe in the career in 2015. I can wake up and do a new thing every day. I can do what I love just because our generation was put into a world where shit was done so repetitively for so long. We need a change. People had all these ideas on how to do everything, and now we’re finding out that a lot of them are wrong. There are so many wrong things that need to be fixed. Our generation has that power. I saw this incredible TED Talk on the future of architecture. It explained how certain buildings came out shitty because it looked good on paper, they’d build it, it’d take four

years, and only after could the public critique it. But now, we just render a 3D image of it, put it on Instagram, and say: ‘Do you like this?’ If they like it, we build it, if they don’t, we move on to the next one. You get rid of that trial-and-error and go straight to the perfect product. We can now present the idea before we execute it, and we can save time and money. And that can be applied to everything. It’s all about efficiency now. I: What advice would you give to young creatives? Niko: Keep working on whatever it is you’re doing. I’m by no means in a position where I can live comfortably off of what I do, but it’s new. And to anyone who’s doing something new, keep going. One day it’ll pay off. Share ideas. Collaborate. Work together. Create. Creating banging product. And be proud of what you’re doing. *

Top L: Kanye West, So Help Me God viral album concept Top R: PARTYNEXTDOOR, Ferina EP concept Middle L: Sean Leon, narcissus, THE DROWNING OF EGO album artwork Middle R: Red Bull Sound Selects’ Twin Cities festival poster Bottom L: Nike Air Max + OffWhite conceptual design Bottom R: HXV, Future Odyessy album artwork

Niko has no title. Conceptual design and art are the foundation for every step he takes. @nikoxnice

58 |



“A seagull cracks the shell of a crab & eats the meat shamelessly, watching me watch it. with its cold dead eyes.”


part one

From bird’s eye, flying south, the roads of Vinehaven Trail form a tarmac pentagon. Its sidelines parallel and baseline continue out in both directions so it looks like the outline of a house on a two dimensional horizon. Flying north, it looks like a hole in the ground. High-end, two story homes line up, no more than 15-feet apart, on either side of the Trail, all brick, different shades of red, three to four peaks per roof, each sealed with black tar shingles, unique only in the material used for and intricacy of the walkways and steps that connect the driveway to the front door and the gardens that boarded them.

If you stand in the middle of my room with your back to the door, you can see out my window and directly into the bedroom of my neighbour and best friend, Aaron. I’m standing there now waiting for Aaron to pull back his curtain. With me I have my cell phone and a bottle of pills. I stole the pills from my grandmother. They should be strong enough. They weren’t with the rest of her medication in the cupboard above the microwave; they were in a jewelry box in the top drawer of the dresser beside her bed, hidden, like she didn’t want me to find them. The warning on them says, “Take with food.” I haven’t eaten yet today.

On the West side of the pentagon, a flagstone path starts at the top of an empty driveway, dipping into the front lawn before curving up towards a dark green panel door with a frosted glass transom.

I’m waiting for Aaron. It feels like we’re characters in a movie. It usually does with Aaron. He’s dramatic. But for once it feels like a movie I would actually watch.

A garden overflowing with fountain grass runs along the path and wraps around the north side of the house, ending under a second story window. The curtain to the window is drawn. Behind the curtain is a controlled fire. In the middle of it stands a boy with his journal.


He writes in pen. 60 60 ||

Muffled yells are heard throughout the No Frills parking lot, over every square foot of asphalt, in the grocery cart drop off cage, and right up to the automatic glass sliding doors. A buggy boy in a green apron that barely reaches his belt line finds it cringe-worthy, but he’s impressed when he discovers the

muffled yells are coming from a Land Rover parked all the way in the back corner of the parking lot. While passing the Land Rover to retrieve a cart, he sees a man in his peripherals in the passenger seat with short dark hair, wearing the jacket version of a turtle neck, punching the dashboard and a woman in the driver’s seat, calm. He grabs the grocery cart and on his way back to the drop off cage can’t help but look inside. The man pays no mind to the bursting vein that grows like a tree root under the skin on his forehead. The woman wears the expression of a drown victim that’s accepted their fate. This is a normal scene. Normal people wait until they get to the car, knowing the checkout line at a grocery store is not an appropriate place to air their dirty laundry. That being said, a normal person normally wouldn’t see their wife not having enough cash on her to cover the bill as reasonable cause to break into a full on rant, in public, starting with the lack of cash issue but eventually making their way through every

little thing in their life that they see as part of the road block that stands between them and the happy, successful person that somewhere deep down they believe they could be—especially if that normal person has enough cash on them to cover the bill/Robert, who’s punching the glove box, red-faced in the passenger seat, isn’t normal. Earlier, when the preteen cashier, in her oversized green apron, announced the total for their groceries, and Beth, his wife, whose job it is to make a list of the items needed, go to the grocery store (Robert shouldn’t even be here right now!), pick out and pay for the items with the cash that she has all the time in the world to just go to a goddamn bank machine and get and bring them home to prepare so that Robert and their quiet, self-quarantined son, don’t starve, didn’t have the sufficient cash, Robert saw it, not only as reasonable cause, but in many ways, as a necessity, to break out into a full on rant. A rant that started with the fact that he needed the money that was in his pocket; he is going out tonight to celebrate his long-time miserable friend’s recent divorce; he took out the money specifically for this; there’s going to be drinks to buy, food [and strippers]. Who knows. He doesn’t want to be fiddling with a credit card all night, waiting for the machine, signing, losing track of how much he’s spending and he definitely doesn’t want to go to the bank because he was just there and it’s a pain in the ass and if she needed some fucking money she should have asked for it when he was just fucking there. Goddammit. Then, eventually, after touching on many things (in the rant), most alluding to the happiness he felt, before the kids, before the marriage, he got to the topic of her “weak habit” of enabling their three children; with the oldest two, who don’t even live at home anymore and stay in as little contact as possible, only calling to bitch or ask for something, by answering their calls and listening to them bitch or giving them the something they ask for; and with the youngest, who is 17 and whose recent phase of what Robert sees as teenage melodrama, lets him stay locked up in his room day and night. Bringing him every meal. Egg whites only, no crusts, and paying for his phone bill, which is curiously through the roof—with guess who’s money? His.

Robert started this rant at the check-out while he grudgingly pulled the cash from his pocket and handed it to the preteen, who smiled complacently while her eyes darted around the store, looking everywhere, at anything, but Robert and Beth. He continued while walking out, carrying every single bag of groceries even though Beth was willing and capable of helping, because, goddammit, life is work. The buggy boy had brought the stray cart and its siblings from the drop off cage back inside, through the automatic glass sliding doors, and still, Robert wasn’t finished. He hasn’t stopped and he won’t stop and Bethany knows this and that is why she is staying quiet now. At the check-out, before Robert was in full swing, she made one attempt to save face in front of the patrons who’s heads turned at the sound of Robert, who has no concept of inside voice, by putting on a cute face and asking in a playful tone, “What’s yours is mine?” but has since said nothing. She knows there’s no use, that eventually he’ll tire himself out and he’ll go quiet and as soon as his brain gets a break from his own voice, he’ll remember the papers and then his demeanor will change and his face will adopt a look of almost-contentment and she’ll hate it; she’ll hate it because she’ll know he’s thinking about those papers, drawn up and ready to be signed, and even though they’ve talked about it a million times and she knows it’s going to happen, she wishes he wouldn’t get so excited about it. She wishes he wouldn’t wear it all over his face, his musings: two out of three, goddammit, just one more. As soon as he’s old enough or moves out. Three years, max. The Land Rover starts up and exits the parking lot. * I stare through two panes of glass at what looks like a window-framed portrait of Aaron on fire. The portrait stares back at me. Aaron’s standing centred in his window with his phone to his ear. His face is glowing orange. His hair is clean and combed to the side. I haven’t seen him put this much effort into his appearance in months, not since he stopped leaving the house and we started meeting like

this. The shirt he’s wearing looks new, a black button up with every button done up and tinted orange with backglow. I wonder if I should change my shirt, something not polka-dotted with curry splatter. I ask him. “You look great,” he says, barely moving his mouth. I’m wearing a white t-shirt—an undershirt is what most people would call it. I’ve owned it for I don’t know how long and it’s been through the washer and dryer so many times that it’s shrunk to the point where it’s tight in my armpits and barely reaches the hem line of my pants. It’s also decorated with last night’s dinner. I can hear him breathing through what must be his nose because he’s not moving and his mouth is closed. He’s a portrait. “How do you feel?” he asks, again without moving. “I feel fine,” I say, trying to match his stillness—the only things that show life are his eyelids, blinking twice for every one breath— but my heart beats loud in my ears and I feel like my shoulder is going to give out. I pass the phone from my left to my right hand. I don’t feel fine. I can usually hold my phone up like this, talking to Aaron, for hours. I didn’t tell him because I know he wasn’t really asking. I usually think nothing of the fact that our conversations always start with this question or the fact that the conversations always contradict how we answer it. I need to know why he’s glowing. “Simple, right? Nothing spectacular?” I blurt. He breathes through his nose. “Right.” He says, in full control. The light flickers on his face, different shades of orange, moving shadows. The portrait is on fire. I raise my hand to my face and slowly Queen-wave the air in front of it. “Because you look like you’re glowing. Like your face. Or is that just me?” I let my left hand fall to my side and wipe the sweat from it onto the leg of my jeans. “No,” he says, “You look like you’re glowing too.” It’s the blood rushing to my face if anything, my heart beating in my ears. “I need to do this now,” I say. I pinch the phone between my face and shoulder, freeing my hand to open the bottle of pills. NUMBER ONE | 61

I press down on the lid before turning and then empty them into my hand. “Did you leave a note?” he asks. “No. Did you?” I drop the bottle to ground. I’ll never hear the sharp sound of plastic on hardwood again. He’s so calm. “In my journal, but it’s hidden away.” ‘Open your mouth,’ I think, ‘I need to hear your teeth chatter.’ I can’t be in this alone. “Are you ready?” he says. Then, as if hearing my plea, he lets out a deep breath through his mouth. His shoulders drop. His eyes widen and he stutters, “Zack?” He’s no longer a portrait. This is a movie. “I’m ready.” I say. He drops his phone to ground, plastic on hardwood. Again. I can’t hear him breathing but I see his chest rising and falling. He steps forward onto something, raising him in the window frame by a foot and pulls down a noose made from black rope. In the movies, things are right where they need to be. He holds the noose at four and eight and stares through it and two panes of glass. At me. I throw the hand full of pills into my mouth. I try to swallow but they’re dry. My mouth is dry. If I can’t get them down I’ll die choking. He puts his head through the noose. I chew the pills. I force myself to salivate and start swallowing the bitter powder. He falls, half a foot. His arms are at his sides. He sways but there is stillness in his eyes, staring at me. He’s a portrait again, but of someone I don’t know. He’s a doll on a rope. I hear the sound of a car and it makes me look left towards the road. I see his parents parking their Land Rover in the driveway. They exit the car, his dad carrying grocery bags, and walk to the house without saying anything to each other. I can’t be in the window when they find Aaron. I look at Aaron one last time. I think about them finding him. I think about my grandmother. I imagine her finding me. I think about this movie, how it’s just getting good. I don’t want to miss it. I want to see it. I turn my back on the window and Aaron and I go for the door. 62 |

* The house is too quiet. As a rule, Robert doesn’t like it when it’s too quiet, like he doesn’t it like when there is too much noise. Noise, for the obvious reason: it’s annoying; and quiet, because it makes him suspicious. Beth takes her time with her shoes. She props herself up with one hand on the bench in their entrance hallway and uses her other to take her shoes off, starting each one with the heel, popping it out, then sliding it down and off her toes. She has a method for her jacket too which also takes time, but Robert doesn’t wait. His ritual when getting home is a scan of the house. This is a routine they’ve developed over time, without ever discussing it, allowing them to spend as little time as possible in each other’s presence while inside the house. Without taking off his jacket or shoes, he leaves Bethany in the entrance hallway and heads into the kitchen where he drops the grocery bags on the counter for her to deal with, pulls open a few drawers—knifes, cloths: good, everything where it should be—and opens the dishwasher, noticing the dishes are clean and making a mental note to listen for the sound of not only groceries but also dishes being put away. He then makes his way through the living room, again, checking that everything is where it should be—the coffee table: clear, centred in the room; the couch, the love seat: situated in a disjointed L, facing the window, about four feet from the walls, a foot and a half from the table, both upholstered in unstained, offwhite olefin, both looking like they’ve never been sat in. He checks the dining room, making sure all the chairs are in their places: three on either side of the table and one on each end, tucked in so that the back rest sits an inch from the table’s edge. He makes sure the candles that have never been lit are centered on the table with the empty vase between them. Beth’s jacket is off and hung but she waits to leave the foyer until she hears Robert walk up the stairs. His movements are like clockwork. Beth can hear exactly where he is and she knows exactly what he’s doing. She moves into the kitchen to put away the groceries and listens. At the top of the stairs she hears two steps then the creak of a door, their bedroom door, a five second scan; their king size bed: made; the two bedside tables: clear.

She hears six steps down the hall—he always passes the bathroom—and then the opening of Matt’s bedroom door. Though the room hasn’t been touched in six years he spends the longest time here, ten seconds usually. Robert enjoyed being a father for the first 13 years of Matt’s life but hasn’t since. Three more steps down the hall then Gabe’s door. Gabe’s room is always quick. It hasn’t been touched in three years, with the exception of her fine arts degree from Emily Carr being taken off the wall—Robert seeing it as nothing more than a reminder of a tremendous waste of money. She hears Robert take five more steps down the hall to Aaron’s room—the quickest check—where he’ll usually knock on the door and after a muted response, Robert, without saying anything, usually takes 14 steps back to their bedroom where he finally takes off his jacket and shoes before making his way to the kitchen (as Bethany exits) to pour himself his early afternoon Woodford double, neat. She hears the five steps and she hears the knock but there is no response. Aaron hasn’t left his room in three months. Ten seconds. Twenty. When she hears the creak of Aaron’s door, she leaves the cupboard she is stocking ajar. Drama starts when routine is broken. When she gets to the top of the stairs Robert turns towards her, orange light flickering on his face. Her one wish is that she didn’t know him so well; that she didn’t always know exactly what he was thinking. His expression is neutral. He says nothing. She meets him in the door way. Aaron hangs in the center of his room with his back to the door where Bethany and Robert stand. Behind him is a milk crate. Robert wonders where it came from. Every surface in Aaron’s room is covered in lit tea candles. There are hundreds of them burning, flickering, different shades of orange, moving shadows. On top of Aaron’s dresser, surrounded in tea candles he’s stood a framed photo of himself with the same black button up shirt he’s wearing now. This is a shrine. Bethany runs into the room, grabbing Aaron at the waist, struggling to lift him up. He’s heavier than she remembers, now completely limp. There is a scent to him that she can’t quite place, a scent that she’ll never forget. Robert stays in the doorway. A vein grows like a tree root under the skin in his forehead. He bites his tongue. ‘Three out of three,’ he thinks.


Natalia is a teen girl with a passion for art & documentation. @nataliaorsanin




* Gabriella stands on a cliff at the edge of the escarpment on the Bruce trail, her cigarette held out to one side, her shoulders turned 20 degrees from the cliff’s edge, in a perfect thoughtful pose, and looks out over the small town of Grimsby, the houses backed up against houses, black shingles, pastel coloured plastic siding. Each with their fenced in back yards, little squares with little decks and little pools, next to gridded streets, leading to the bigger plots, the Walmart and Canadian Tire with one shared parking lot, a yellow striped slab of asphalt, the No Frills, the Best Buy, the Superstore, each with their own yellow-striped slab, backed up against the highway, six lanes, the only thing you can hear from the trail, on the other side of which sits more houses, more and more sparse until you get to Lake Ontario, a rippled mirror for the sky, sprawling out east and west and north. The jagged silhouette of the city.

back at cross walks, with their coffees, coming and going, and she feels her mind feeling something poetic.

She focuses on the people, smaller than dolls, a thousand, two thousand feet down—she isn’t sure, numbers aren’t her thing. She sees them, the tiny people, getting in and out of cars, walking in and out of shops, carrying bags, pushing carts, holding their children

“Not again,” she says, resuming her pose. “I wish you would stop asking. I’m far too busy. I told you, I’m writing a novel.”

She looks over her shoulder to her boyfriend, Tom, who stands on the cliff beside her. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he says, staring out over the town towards the lake with the mindless eyes of a well fed dog. If he even notices the people, he thinks nothing of their endless coming and going, she thinks. He sees no poetry. “Yes,” she says. Tom smiles best he can and steps towards her. “I think it’s finally time.” He says, grabbing her hand and pulling her shoulders parallel with the cliffs edge. “We should get married.” Before he’s able to dip his knee, Gabe shakes her hand from his.

“No,” Tom says, with his inflection on the O flying over the trees. From what he remem-

bers, last time he asked, she said she was busy pursuing her photography, putting together series of photographs based around awnings, something about a truth umbrella or shield we hide behind or under that prevents us from truly experiencing nature, and being one, or something—Tom will be the first to admit that most of Gabe’s “projects” go over his head. “Well I am.” She says. “That’s not an issue. I’ll stay out of your way. We’ll turn your dark room into a writing studio and I won’t dare enter.” “It’s not your physical presence. Emotionally, mentally, a wedding would drain me.” She looks away from the people and out towards the silhouette of the city. She tells herself she’s suffocating here. What does suburbia offer to a young artist? She imagines a gorilla in a hamster cage. She thinks about a live installation. She wonders what animal rights activists might say. Maybe she’ll put herself in a cage, like the ones people use to transport their lap dogs on planes—or is that too obvious? NUMBER ONE | 63

64 64 ||

“What’s it about?” Tom asks. “Jesus. It’s just not a good time. Like I said, I’m too busy. Can you drop it?” “It. I’m asking about the novel. What’s it about?” “Oh,” she says, regaining her composure, her perfect pose. She takes a long drag of her cigarette and squints off into the horizon. “I’ve been toying with a few—” Gabe’s phone vibrates in the pocket of her jacket and without excusing herself, she drops the conversation and answers. Tom watches her as she steps back from the cliff’s edge and every muscle in her faces relaxes, turning her calculated pose and expression into the limp faced stare of someone in a trance. She clears her throat and speaks up: “Yes. I’ll have to move some things around, but I can be there.” She steps back into her body and towards the cliff, bringing her shoulders once again to that perfect angle. Her head tilts back. “Well I think we all saw that coming,” she says. “Do you think he’ll come?” Tom kicks some dirt between his feet. He looks east down the trail. For such a nice day, they aren’t many people hiking. “Look, I need some time to digest this… Yes. I’ll see you then.” She hangs up. “That was my mother,” she says, without turning towards Tom. “This would happen right now, as if life isn’t enough.” “Is everything OK?” “The novel will be about my struggle, my life, and my observations of life. I’ll release it one line at a time on Twitter.” “Hmm.” She takes the last drag of her cigarette, inhaling deep. She doesn’t seem to exhale, but instead lets the smoke slither out of her mouth. It runs over her face before being stolen away by the breeze. It swirls and dissipates. “What did your mother say?” *

Foss Road is a dead straighaway, stretching only eight kilometres through Fenwick, between Victoria Avenue and Pelham Street. Foss Road is responsible for five of Matt’s nine speeding tickets. Its few houses are situated just close enough to keep the entire road classified as residential, making the speed limit a painful 50 km/h, yet just far enough apart to give the driver the feeling that they’re on a drag race track in the middle of nowhere. The road is part of a short cut to Niagara College—a place Matt finds himself more often than he’d like lately, writing for Suburban Life’s blog, where more than a few stories seem to be based around mediocre elementary school establishments. He took the job on impulse after graduation, regretting it almost instantly once he realized they aren’t so much committed to unveiling what lies behind the white picket fence as they are to just churning out crap. He is coming from Niagara College now, where he’d interviewed a few students for an article that explores a possible correlation between student satisfaction rates and the increased cost of tuition. He’s been to several colleges around southern Ontario asking students a variety of questions about their teachers, the facilities, how they feel about the cost of tuition and whether they think what they are paying is “worth it.” At this point all he’s sure of is that he’s not sure current students are the right people to be talking to. A large majority of the students he’d talked to didn’t know what a semester in their particular program cost—most unable to even ballpark it; the general consensus on teachers has fallen somewhere along the lines of, “Whatever,” and the only piss off across the board seems to be limited wifi in certain hallways. You could say the work wasn’t as satisfying as what he’d hoped to be doing five years out of school. His cruise control is set to 60 km/h. He’s holding his phone to his ear and fighting his right foot’s urge to push down on the pedal. He’s talking to his editor, wearing the same pissed off, cocky smirk he’s been wearing since his early teens.

“No, it’s going great. Next week I was thinking I’ll go to some local high schools, interview the athletes: Top Ten Go-To Breakfasts for the Starting Line… Jesus Christ. That was a joke. No! If I ever write a top ten article you can chop my dick off.” His editor’s defence of Top Ten articles is interrupted by a beep. “Just a sec,” Matt says. “I have another call coming in.” He takes his phone from his ear to see the call waiting is from his mother. He treats the call like he always treats calls from her: he presses ignore. “Sorry about that. Listen, just because we’re online doesn’t mean we have to be shit.” The beep is back. “Jesus. Give me a sec. I’ll call you back.” He switches calls. “What?” The tiny voice of his mother, slow and quiet, echoes baselessly inside the car. “Are you serious?” Something behind his face drops but the smirk remains. “Well, fuck. I’m not surprised... No, I’m not blaming you, but do you think your little game helped anything? No. Of course I’ll be there.” He picks at the leather of his steering wheel and his foot starts to weigh down on the gaspedal and he’s going. He hangs up the phone. He’s going. He’s about to pass a farm on his left with a long driveway sheltered by evergreens where cops like to set up with their radar guns. He knows to slow down before this driveway. He’s flagged it in his mind, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t even notice. He blows past—it only occurs to him only after seeing the red-and-blue lights in his rearview. He pulls over and watches in his mirror as the cop stops behind him and takes a minute in his car, doing whatever it is they do. Matt pulls his phone out again. “Hey. Sorry… Listen, I’ve got something I want to write about. It’s a bit a different. Print-worthy. The Inevitable Tragedies of the North American Family. I want to write about a death and a divorce.” * NUMBER ONE | 65

66 |


The 62 people listed below are the reason that 48 young Toronto creatives are published in Broke today. Broke itself may not have made it into the world as a print magazine if it weren’t for the beautiful souls that believed that this idea could be anything more than that. To our loved ones and goto’s, thank you. To the people who stumbled upon our Kickstarter and watched a video

of two 21-year-olds looking naïve in front a camera and still proceeded to donate to this magazine, perhaps we’ll meet one day, probably not, but thank you—we love you too. As well, from the bottom of our hearts, a massive shout out to the inventor of the triple espresso black eye, Adderall, crappy retail jobs and the guy who stole Sarah’s bike last month. In each of your own special

ways, you’ve ruined our lives, but made us tough AF. The beginning of Broke started with every one of you three months ago, but it doesn’t end there. We’ll always carry a part of you with us in every issue; your vote of confidence in what this idea could be is eternal. And yes, oddly enough, we’re actually looking forward to a future where we’re only going to be more and more Broke.




MADELEINE GROSS Madeleine specializes in fashion portraiture, product photography & is a practicing artist in several media. She uses paint markers to create layered perspectives akin to children’s colouring books. @madeleinegross



70 |


72 |

Broke Magazine Volume One  

An indie arts magazine spotlighting young creatives in Toronto. Published biannually.

Broke Magazine Volume One  

An indie arts magazine spotlighting young creatives in Toronto. Published biannually.