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BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS “ALTERNATIVE FOLK POWERHOUSE” WHISKY & PINE

PATRIZIA BURRA THE UNIVERSE WITHIN

AHI

AN “ENTIRELY NEW” GENRE OF MUSIC

JESÚS ORTIZ

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Photo by Sergio D. Spadavecchia | Creative Spades • Model: Adam Joseph Chase


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Photo by Sergio D. Spadavecchia | Creative Spades • Model: Alex Black - Hot Lips


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ALBANY PICKERING “If I knew”

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JACLYN TRUSS Letter from the Editor

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VICTORIA YEH A heartfelt tale of love, loss, music and the triumph of the human spirit

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AHKINOAH IZARH Interview with AHI

GUN ROZE Upcoming gallery show featuring Toronto street photographer

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ANTONIO RUGGIERO Confronting the disingenuous mentality of materialist consumerism

UYOKA - NNEKA ATTO Succumbing to Jupiter’s orbit

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ARYNA PUSHKEVICH Complexity, minimalism and striving for greatness - A snapshot of a fashion photographer

KSENIA DOLGORUKOVA Fashion felt in nature showing the light within

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ALICE ZILBERBERG Navigating the landscape of emotion

PATRIZIA BURRA Tapping into the magic that makes us human

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ALEXANDRIA SANTAGUIDA How music saved one woman’s life

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UPTOWN SOX The story behind “a sock for every man”

DION WALCOTT MARTK’D Storytelling with sneakers: one man’s vision to bridge the gap through sneaker culture

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SUSAN & GARY PARKER A deeper look into the undeniable allure of the wildly creative social phenomenon that is sweeping North America


@inspadesmag

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BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS Alternative folk powerhouse is making waves

InSpadesMag

SERGIO DAVID SPADAVECCHIA Publisher/Creative Director - info@creativespades.com creativespades.com - @creativespades JACLYN TRUSS Editor in Chief - info@inspadesmag.com ANISSA STAMBOULI Assistant Editor - info@inspadesmag.com - @astamdesigns ALBANY PICKERING MCCABE - Resident Poet CÉLIA BERLEMONT - Writer GUINEVERE JOY - Writer TALIA MARKOS - Editorial Assistant DARIO SPADAVECCHIA - Media Research CHRISTINA DEVEAU - PR & Social Media - @christinadeveau

@pr0ject_uno

Pr0ject_uno

CAROL GONG - CHIEF CONTENT AGGREGATOR KRISTINA REESE - COMMUNITY MANAGER

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JESÚS ORTIZ Uniquely charming 3D illustrations that will tickle your fancy and tug at your heartstrings

@PR0JECT_UNO @THEDARKPR0JECT @THEMYSTERYPR0JECT @THEGRAPHICSPR0JECT @PR0JECT_SOUL @PR0JECT_BNW @SOMBRESOCIETY

@SOMBRESCAPES @SOMBREBEINGS @SOMBREXPLORE @S0MBREBW @HUMAN.EDGE @M3XTURES @ THEFASHIONPR0JECT

COVER: Joachim Bergauer: InSpades Magazine is designed & distributed by

© All images, text, logo and content of InSpades Magazine or Creative Spades properties is under the Copyright Laws of Canada. Any reproduction strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.


JesĂşs Ortiz @jesuso_ortiz - @handsandcolors


If I knew your number I’d have called tonight I should’ve kept searching But I gave up that fight If I knew your address I’d have driven by your place Even though I know not if you’d be glad of my face Of course there are other ways in this day and age to reach a long lost soul when you have much to say It pains me so deeply to leave so much unsaid But that’s the trouble with loving someone gone but not dead. @ albany.new.york - @ the.aimless.muse


Letter From the Editor BY JACLYN TRUSS

Words For Everything

As someone who spends so much time with words, it is only a matter of time before you learn that there simply aren’t words for everything. Emotions, the language of the soul, birth from unknown places, places where words have yet to form and may never. We may like words, we may crave explanation or excuse, but all the things that matter most - the things that break us, exalt us and change us forever - carry no syllables or syntax. Just because I know a lot of words does not mean I am not at a loss for them constantly. But just as constantly, I am searching for them. I love to read because, often, others have the words for the things I do not. The words I cannot find the means to muster, cannot divine or claim for myself, but endlessly long for.

There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string…

“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves…

—Excerpt from— “The History of Love”, by Nicole Krauss

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.”

May you always have a piece of string and the courage to make it sing. Please enjoy,

Queen of Spades If have yet to read this stunning novel or need to read it again, you can find a copy here: www.goodreads.com/book/show/3867.The_History_of_Love


“Having begun to feel, people’s desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People became addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It is possible that this is how art was born…” —A History of Love, Nicole Krauss @patrizia_burra_photography

www.patriziaburra.com


ilberber

The Exotic Creativity “In them, I see a familiarity, a place that is so beautiful, that has recognizable features, but somewhere I feel alien.�

T

here is no such thing as a timestamp that sets the standard for how long a work of art should take to produce. Whether photography forms after fifteen minutes of tapping on a mobile app or months of tweaking and tedious labour, the calibre of a finished product transcends the measure of time. For f ine art photographer Alice Zilberberg, the production of her exquisite photography is measured in moments and experiences, not hours or months. She adjusts her attention to f it the needs of each individual project, patiently cultivating her art with lived emotional experience, rather than force of will.

@alicezilberberg


BY ANISSA STAMBOULI


Using gracefully allusive imagery, her themes touch on female empowerment, the complexity of joint isolation in romance, and landscapes of transcendent calibre. In her series Oasis, Zilberberg introspectively navigates the desert of her past relationship with elegant visual recollection. “After a complicated breakup, I found myself on a trip in the desert with a couple that was newly in love,” Zilberberg recalls in a written explanation on her website. Journeying through the desolate plains – made pleasant and hospitable by the lovers’ affection – Zilberberg was inspired to capture the concepts that became Oasis. In the series, Zilberberg uses the landscape to symbolically display her withered relationship. While exploring the barren landscape of desiccated fidelity, she also marvels at the coveted gems of rare oases – which reflect the pockets of elated splendour that romance can contribute to one’s life. With a landscape both spatially wondrous and diluted in complexion, Zilberberg reveals how romance shapes our reaction to the world around us. Two people in love can be an island from the world, engrossed with infatuation and blind acceptance of one another’s f laws; likewise, a shift in dynamic can reveal the parched earth which cracks the foundation of

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their relationship, dehydrating the affection that once poured so effortlessly and isolating them in a wasteland of mutual, solitary pain. “Unlike with painting, in photography the person you photograph is literal,” Zilberberg explains to INSPADES, comparing her experience in painting – where subjects are interpreted according to the artist’s perspective – to the more accurate and realistic representations of a subject captured by photography, “I have to make sure that the model will help me convey the message I’m trying to communicate.” Working with an authentic couple for Oasis, the clarity of Zilberberg’s vision is unmistakable. In addition to Oasis, Zilberberg’s series, Home, cleverly addresses the complexity of belonging. Born in Estonia, raised in Israel and now based in Canada, Zilberberg’s non-singular sense of ‘home’ has evolved into a unique blend of landscapes, cultures, and languages. It is her diverse upbringing which carries a multilayered perspective to her work. Zilberberg’s Home ingeniously blends the terrains of Canada and Israel, merging their distinct landscapes into unlikely harmony. “In them, I see a familiarity,” she writes, “a place that is so beautiful, that has recognizable features, but somewhere I feel alien.” The landscapes are both wildly familiar and strangely foreign, ref lecting Zilberberg’s

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conflicted relationship with Israel and Canada, and the notion of ‘home’. Having relocated throughout her youth, Zilberberg continues to globe trot for her work, often relying on exotic landscapes for her shooting locations. “The challenge is to get the lighting and weather right,” she explains to INSPADES, adding that the best time to shoot is at sunrise or sunset. “Sometimes it can be difficult if it rains, or if it’s too sunny. If the weather is not right, then I’ll go back on a different day.” For the right shot, time is a worthy investment. When it comes to her creative process, each work is unique and can sometimes take a year to deliver. “I try to learn as much as possible during that time,” Zilberberg divulges, “engaging with art galleries, history, podcasts and traveling.” A fter much research for a project, Zilberberg’s background in fine arts plays a key role in sketching her projects, or simply testing different images digitally to see if envisioned manipulations are feasible. Next, Zilberberg tests the desired location before inviting the model for the official shoot. For some projects, she will shoot the model and other elements, such as props or setting, on separate occasions; they are pieced together digitally during post-production.

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“After shooting I could spend weeks or months putting the pieces together, along with colouring, toning and painting digitally.�

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“After shooting I could spend weeks or months putting the pieces together, along with colouring, toning, and painting digitally,” Zilberberg explains. At last, when the piece is finalized, she enters the printing process to ensure that her artwork is enhanced by the most flattering paper and framing options. Living as a professional photographer, Zilberberg’s journey began with drawing and painting at a young age. Her interest in digital illustration and image manipulation developed before she discovered photography, preparing Zilberberg for her career as a digital artist. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Toronto’s Ryerson University in 2011, Zilberberg slowly made a name for herself. She began by working as a retouching freelancer, but also kept a foot in the door with other artists. “I worked with other photographers and tried to immerse myself in the art community as much as possible while giving my art the time it needed to grow,” she recalls. Today Zilberberg has created a business from her art, successfully blending traditional photography with digital illustration to achieve elements of surrealism. Having expanded on her reputation with awards, gallery exhibitions, auction houses, publications and international collections, Zilberberg continues to explore the globe for creative inspiration and is currently exploring themes of mortality and existentialism in her next artistic endeavour.

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ANTONIO RUGGIERO @ruanphotographer


THE ABANDONED VALUES OF GLOBALIZATION BY ANISSA STAMBOULI

“WE’RE LIVING IN A GLOBALIZED ERA WHERE EVERYONE’S WORTH IS EXPRESSED BY MONEY, BITCOINS AND STOCK INDEX.”

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I’M GENERALLY SKEPTICAL ABOUT PROFESSIONAL MODELS BECAUSE I DON’T BELIEVE IN POSING WITH FAKE EMOTIONS. CRITICAL OBSERVERS WILL FEEL IT IN THE PHOTOGRAPH. I LIKE TO WORK WITH THE ‘GIRL NEXT DOOR’ TYPE

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When

met with the term globalization, most people associate the concept with international trade, the benefits of cultural sharing, multilingualism and other colourful perks – like the downtown region of a city where Indian, Thai, Japanese, Greek and endless other ethnic foods are conveniently found in one place. When Italian photographer Antonio Ruggiero contemplates globalization, he ponders the deterioration of human connection – the performed happiness of crazed consumers and the solitary, individualistic aftermath of ongoing materialism. “We all live the same miserable condition, the same fate,” Ruggiero confides, “We’re living in a globalized era where everyone’s worth is expressed by money, bitcoins and stock index. It inspires a feeling of isolation and desperation that we all feel deep down, but nobody seems to recognize or address it.” In Ruggiero’s most recent photography series, a sophisticated woman wearing sombre colour tones is positioned with a stoic, straight posture throughout an abandoned industrial space. Her sleek appearance oddly displaces her presence within the deteriorating space – yet it is this juxtaposition of her expressionless poise amid the urban ruins that delivers a striking edge to the series. “The idea of beauty surrounded and penetrated by deep solitude and moral death inspired this photographic series,” says Ruggiero, “The materialism accompanying globalization allows us to hide something perverse within us – unhappiness. I like to throw it in everyone’s face by showing the unhappiness in a beautiful woman’s eyes,” he concludes.

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The female subject in Ruggiero’s series finds herself lonely in the void space of an abandoned building – her beauty reflecting the values of materialism while the building signifies the crumbling integrity of consumers. In addition to seeking reprieve from the materialistic values of general global society, Ruggiero prefers working with amateur models. He finds that their facial expressions are more refreshing and honest; unlike professional models, casual models have not perfected the technique of guarding and controlling their expressive mannerisms, allowing an air of authenticity to permeate the relationship between photographer and subject. “I’m generally skeptical about professional models because I don’t believe in posing with fake emotions. Critical observers will feel it in the photograph. I like to work with the ‘girl next door’ type,” Ruggiero confides. With a background in expressionist painting, Ruggiero’s discovery of photography was serendipitous. “I found a Kodak camera for sale for a discount. I bought it just to experiment, to try something new,” he recalls. Ruggiero began to play with selfportraiture as a new creative outlet and found a new favourite medium for unravelling his emotions. “It was by chance that I stopped painting and devoted myself to photography.” Currently, Ruggiero is working on a new project, but he’s keeping mum about it. “I’m a little superstitious,” he admits with a grin. Set for release in 2018, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for what this artistic photographer has in store.

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“THE MATERIALISM ACCOMPANYING GLOBALIZATION ALLOWS US TO HIDE SOMETHING PERVERSE WITHIN US— UNHAPPINESS.”

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BY ANISSA STAMBOULI

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THE UNIVERSE WITHIN PATRIZIA BURRA “What attracts me is the universe of emotion caught inside each person.”

@patrizia_burra_photography / www.patriziaburra.com

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F

antastical, charming, disarming – the exquisite

artistry of photographer and painter Patrizia Burra will leave you enchanted and moved. With incandescent precision, her lens drills through each of her subjects, exposing a portal to a disarmed human experience, which Burra then polishes with a fantastical wash of fine edits. “Many people build a mask that they present to the world. The faces I capture must be legible – I must know the true soul of my subject and then bring it to light,” the photographer shares. Through her sensitive approach to direction, Burra works with the models to create an open channel of human connection, enrapturing the viewer in the scope of her vision. “What attracts me is the universe of emotion caught inside each person,” Burra continues, “When I tap into this with each model, I have to interpret it and bring that magic to life.” Born a creative spirit, Burra has always felt compelled to create through drawing and painting. In her adult years, she developed an interest in literature. She claims this cultivated her imagination, allowing her mind to open and her sense of self to reach its full potential as an artist. It wasn’t until she was 20 years old, that Burra discovered a love for photography. “I used to spend hours and hours developing and printing my negatives in the darkroom,” she recalls nostalgically of the pre-digital photography age:

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“I used to spend hours and hours developing and printing my negatives in the dark room. Seeing the picture appear beneath my hands was wonderful.�

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“Seeing the picture appear beneath my hands was wonderful. I was always restless to see the finished product and would often work through the night to develop the negatives and print my photographs.” As a self-taught photographer with no patience for manuals or instruction booklets, Burra claims that her tenacity alone carried her through the learning curve of film photography. “I taught myself through a winding and beautiful way,” she explains, “I repeated procedures until I exhausted my options, which led to the results I was looking for.” Such repetition and experimentation transformed into a versatile experience, making Burra the seasoned artist that she is today. With the rise of the digital movement, Burra remembers, “I struggled to accept the evolution. The development process had changed, and I seemed to have lost something important.” At first, Burra mourned the loss of the labourintensive process required for film photography, a method that forced her to earn each finished print with hours of invested energy. Yet, as she continued to develop as a photographer, Burra realized that the digital approach introduced a new realm of creative possibility. “The practical world of digital photography offered the right tools to create things I would have never imagined,” she explains, “I realized

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that photography and painting could be blended and that realization has determined my style.” Since converting to digital photography and post-production edits, Burra has embraced the benefits that programs like Photoshop have to offer, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to find a compromise between painting and photography in my portraits.” A lthough Burra works heavily with Photoshop today, her beginnings in f ilm photography prevent her from relying solely on digital editing software to perfect a piece. Photoshop can easily catalyze a photographer’s approach if they aren’t careful. An agent of change in a photographer’s method, Photoshop can either launch the photographer’s work into a new realm of possibility, as it did for Burra, or it can make the photographer negligent in their shooting technique. Summoning her artistic roots in painting and drawing, the digital age allowed Burra to revolutionize her creative approach and exceeded to a new level of expression. Translating reality into dreams and fantasies into tangible artwork, she has embraced digital photography and postproduction as her default artistic outlet. “Painting is visually dynamic, but it doesn’t allow you to capture the moment. Photography translates my more wild, passionate and restless visions into a single image,” she says.

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“Children are readable. Their souls are candid—not shielded with disingenuous superstructures.”


Working often with children in her professional and personal photography, Burra captures the most honest and innocent elements of humanity through their facial expressions. “Children are readable,” she claims, “Their souls are candid—not shielded with disingenuous superstructures.” For Burra, children represent the resilient dreamer. Having yet to face the jaded reality of failure, disappointment or challenge, children firmly believe that their dreams can be manifested. This belief branches not from stubborn delusion, but rather from the naïve simplicity of a mind not yet tarnished. “For me, children walk a white road. They are the pure element that lives in an abstract, timeless reality.” As their understanding of the world develops, children lack the ability to fully mask their inner experience. For Burra, this makes their vulnerability the perfect window into the human experience in all its simplicity, before the complex perceptions of the “real world” arrive to warp their perspective. From the town of Grado, Italy, Burra continues to produce stunning portraiture and digital illustrations to rival the masters. Her current experimentation with the graphics program, Cinema 4D, promises a new level of creativity from this remarkable artist.

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Shoots with Phase One P40+ and Schneider Kreuznach lens (110 mm LS f/2.8, 80 mm LS f/2.8) Greatly inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “Prufrock is the ideal subject, with a lifetime imagined and irretrievably lost.”

PATRIZIA BURRA

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Benjamin Dakota Rogers Whisky & Pine

BY JACLYN TRUSS

“I’m so tired of this holy war I’m laying down my guns I can see it in your eyes you’ve already won So turn my cannons from your tower With gunpowder and smoke The world you’re fighting for has long been broke So build me a campfire out of whisky and pine Over the ridge stay up til sunrise Lay by my side and watch the stars collide Will you think of me when you watch the night sky”

@ruanphotographer / www.benjamindakotarogers.com

Photo by Chad Pilkington for Benjamin’s Whisky & Pine Tour promo.


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fiddle flares amidst a poetic ballad with passionate precision, the strings singing with traditional folk music, seeded with east coast inf luence. Benjamin Dakota Rogers, relaxes the bow in his hand. His voice — gritty and evoking — fills the space, pulling at parts of you from the inside, parts you didn’t even know you had. A multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer, Rogers — with his captivating storytelling — marries poetic lyrics with lively fiddle and brisk guitar compositions, creating songs that are, at times, both heart-wrenching and explosive. “I feel like being on stage and getting to perform for an audience willing to listen and participate is always a gift, but I also love being in the studio and getting to build music and just experiment,” says Rogers.

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This “alternative folk powerhouse” is debuting his third album, Whisky & Pine, a collection of eleven original songs brimming with raw emotion and sultry harmonies. Yet while influences of Leonard Cohen, Gregory Allen Isakov and Passenger ring throughout this album, Roger’s unique voice, thoughtprovoking lyrics, energetic performances and dynamic fiddle techniques leave this up-andcoming musician in a class of his own. “My creative process has a lot to do with improvisation,” divulges Rogers, “I don’t write chords or lyrics one before the other. I sit down with a guitar and start singing and playing. Sometimes what comes out is exactly what goes on an album and sometimes I tweak it for a year, but it usually all starts out with some sort of emotion and just rolling with it.” At the age of seven, Rogers inherited his


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great-grandfather’s violin and his passion for folk music began. Later he began street busking for money, which evolved into gigs in bars and eventually, larger venues. While his love for creating meaningful and honest music has resonated with folk-lovers and gained significant praise, Rogers has also received many award nominations. Only four years into his musical career, he has already proven to be a marked veteran talent not indicative of his age. Rogers earned nominations for Young Performer of the Year at the 2014 and 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards, one for his leadoff album, Wayfarer, and the other for his second album, Strong Man’s Address to the Circus Crowd. In conjunction with nominations at the Hamilton Music Awards and several international songwriting awards, Rogers can now also boast that Whisky & Pine has ranked

six in the top ten albums of 2016 at Folk Roots Radio. “Receiving recognition for my music is amazing,” Rogers admits , “When you submit to competitions you never know who you are up against or what they are looking for. I have been really fortunate that what I have created so far has been worthy of recognition.” Benjamin is currently on tour promoting his latest album, Whisky & Pine, a collection he ref lects on differently from his first two albums. In Wayfarer, written when Rogers was 18-years-old, he did not play the guitar yet, and all the songs were written on mandolin or tenor guitar and translated to his producer who played the guitar tracks for the album. To play live and tour on his own, Rogers realized he would have to learn the guitar for Wayfarer, a primarily guitar-based album.

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“I think the biggest difference between my first two albums and Whisky & Pine, and the one being recorded now, is that now the songs are me.�

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He buckled down to learn the the instrument, and that became one of the biggest progressions to Strongman’s Address to the Circus Crowd, his sophomore album that was released the next year. “I feel like creating the album that’s in my head is the hardest part, trying to teach it to the people you are working with, without it changing too much. It’s hard because everyone has a different vision and you have to pull it all together to create something that is beautiful.” Rogers reveals the songs in both Wayfarer and Strongman’s Address to the Circus Crowd are written from a “childhood imaginative place”, when he had little life experience and was more inspired by books and short stories he had read, rather than other people. “ I think the biggest difference between my first two albums and Whisky & Pine, and the

one being recorded now, is that now the songs are me,” remarks Rogers. Undeniably talented, Rogers is poised to make his mark in the world of folk music. With a bright future ahead of him, he looks forward to completing his new album and touring. “I love being on the road as much as possible with my music,” exclaims Rogers, “Writing as much music as I can and playing as many shows as I am able. All I want is to make music and share it.”

“I’ve never had a venue, event or festival that has been a marker for me to play; I feel like it’s more about the number of people I can reach, rather than where I reach them.”

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@arina_kavrishka @arina_in_retouch


BY JACLYN TRUSS

Fashion Forward

Aryna Pushkevich

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You may remember

Aryna Pushkevich’s bold and beautiful fashion photography from the small photographic spread that concluded INSPADES Magazine’s Issue Quattro. While Pushkevich was, at the time, unavailable for interview due to her travels, we could not resist slipping in a few of her striking images. Now that she has returned to her home in Minsk, Belarus, we have been able to get the full story behind this extremely talented and fashionforward photographer.

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“My journey in photography began when I was twelve-years-old, and I asked for a camera as a gift. I remember it was a budget film camera and, at the time, I had no skills in photography — no idea what exposure, perspective or overall manual camera settings were about. Regardless, I still dreamed of owning a professional camera.”

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“In my family, it was expected that you be an ordinary worker with a technical or commercial education. They would explain: ‘To be a photographer, you need to have a big budget to open your own studio. You need to choose a profession that requires no investment, something that is in demand in a country that pays well’. I have always had the tendency to draw and craft, and have been trained in various clubs and studios since childhood. Throughout this time, photography was always more of a hobby. With the recommendation of my parents, I pursued studies in engineering. For a long time, my creativity remained on the back burner.”

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“However, I was not satisfied with studying purely technical subjects — my love for art and nature has always stirred within. I went on to study landscape design, focusing on architecture, painting, design and sketching. It was only in my last year of university that I required a camera for photographic material. It was then that I remembered my childhood dream of someday having a professional camera. Now that I had earned money of my own, I decided to purchase one and bring that dream to life.”

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“After graduating and having free time for creativity, I experienced a lack of skills and knowledge. Having learned from friends about a photography school, I enrolled and studied there for two years. It was a traditional program where we learned about the process

of developing film and how to print photographs. I worked mostly in the portrait genre, which is my favourite to this day. I shot more with a digital camera because film photography was, and is, expensive in our country, and not all materials are readily available.�

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“After I completed my studies, I remained in the school studio as a reportage photographer. The institution offered many opportunities for photography: there were many organized performances, workshops, concerts and master classes. Sometimes, I would shoot three to five events per day with one-day turnarounds. Reportage photography is a very interesting genre, but not under such loads, and you must be in excellent physical shape and have a lot of stamina. It left me no time for other projects, and I prefer to work at my own pace and not be a slave to time. A year later, I left to float freely, to work on individual projects and to experiment.” “As I said, portrait photography is one of my favorite genres. It is important for me to feel it, to find a contact, to show emotion, to reveal what’s inside. Perhaps this is my main pursuit in photography — to find a common language with the environment and people. Sometimes it is very difficult, and I often don’t get the desired result because I’m such a perfectionist.”

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“I’m often asked about my style. What is it? I cannot say definitely. Working on a portrait often intersects with fashion. I like fashion and accessories and enjoy developing concepts and creating images. It is the genre in which there is virtually no framework or limitations.”


“In general, I love when a shoot becomes a symbol, reflecting the team’s collaborative creativity. Sometimes shooting lasts a full day of work, just like a real advertising photo shoot. However, the main challenge is assembling the team so that all members understand each other and do their work efficiently and ‘breathe’ one idea.”

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“I love bright colours and, at the same time, I like muted colours, similar to the art form of painting. Colour is one of the most important components in photography, and I focus on my personal perception of it. Sometimes I tear out frames from films of different eras and stylize them under a similar colour. The end result usually depends on my mood or where the original ideas came from.” “Thanks to my education, I appreciate diversity, complex backgrounds, lines and perspective in the frame. This simultaneously complicates the work but allows for more intrigue during the creation process. I’m not trying to copy and imitate anyone, so I usually try to express myself and understand through my personal exploration. I draw inspiration and ideas from travel, sculpture, art and in good cinema.” “Recently I have been fond of minimalism. The most difficult aspect is finding a way to capture the simple, the natural, and then to emphasize it. The target is to create such an atmosphere and mood that catches you and keeps hold of your memory. My great desire is to be published in various magazines.”

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“I plan to move to Europe and I hope that there will be time and inspiration for further development. I think that any real photographer is constantly finding themselves and evolving throughout their life, working on their own style, filling their work with meaning and content, and is dedicated to their work entirely. That’s what I strive for.�

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VICTORIA YEH


BY JACLYN TRUSS

“It has taken me nearly two years to piece my life back together and to redefine myself, but since closing this last chapter of my life, many wonderful things have also happened.”

Q

uivering, piercing and penetrating, the sound of singing strings flows energetically from a television set. A young girl listens, mesmerized, watching as a “stick” pours, sometimes furiously, sometimes soothingly, over a pear-shaped instrument. Barely passed her toddlerhood, Victoria Yeh, not yet knowing the name of the instrument that was inexplicably calling to her, had to wait until she saw a picture of a girl playing the violin in a newspaper before she could declare to her mother, “I want to play ‘that’!” Her classical lessons began at the tender age of four, and from that moment on, Victoria Yeh could not imagine her life without her beloved violin. However, in the years to come, Yeh would find herself facing many things she never imagined.

@victoriayeh - www.victoriayeh.com

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“Throughout my youth, my goal has always been to become a full-time musician. At a high school leadership conference in Montreal, I jumped on stage for the first time to jam with a band at a sugar shack and was enamoured with the experience of creating new music instead of just reading it. Shortly thereafter, I started finding different rock bands and musicians to jam with to expand my musical horizons as I continued to study classical violin,” recalls Yeh, “I also began teaching violin and performing semi-professionally.” Yeh made the decision to pursue a higher education in business in hopes of acquiring practical life skills to support herself financially during the budding years of her music career. This choice came in an apt moment as she had also suffered a devastating ulnar nerve injury in her left arm, which rendered her unable to play the violin for over a year. Developing cubital tunnel syndrome from excessive playing combined with poor technique. Yeh was left in too much pain to even consider playing. “I have since developed a much greater understanding of proper posture and skeletal alignment through my own personal research, as well as through the wonderful advice of various health experts,” explains Yeh. “The changes I made were small and would probably go unnoticed by most, and yet, were so significant that they allowed me to play again without pain.” By 2003, Yeh’s arm had healed and, with her technique modified, she moved from her hometown of Edmonton to Toronto to start her corporate career and establish herself as

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a musician in the city. She also married her University sweetheart and drummer, Trevor Maybee, in 2006. Together they built a recording studio and led several bands including their own original group, Violet Fusion, which released its first EP in 2012. The highlight of their career came in 2014 when, in March, Violet Fusion travelled to the Northwest Territories on an 11-day educational outreach tour sponsored by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. Later that year, in September, they presented two feature shows at Theatre Aurora in Ontario. It was an apex moment for the happy couple, but tragically, their journey together would not go much further. Yeh’s husband was diagnosed with cancer the following October, in 2015, and passed away on December 23rd of that same year. “Following the loss of my husband, I disbanded Violet Fusion. Playing music became both comforting and horribly painful. In the following months, as I drowned in the deepest days of grief, I was laid off from my day job, lost my violin in a house fire (from which I narrowly escaped with my life), and had my identity stolen,” recounts Yeh. Her first year alone, Yeh was in shock. So overcome and numbed with grief, she shifted from day to day, void not only of joy but also of other strong primal emotions, such as anger and fear. Her battle with anxiety and depression began and she found herself overwhelmed nightly by the vast darkness of a world asleep; her loneliness painfully accentuated in the silence. For many months, she would practice


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well into the night, the sound of her violin splintering the void and creating a focus on something other than her endless grief. She even painted her entire living room wall with chalkboard paint, allowing her to write out charts and jazz theory exercises, their looming presence staring at her every day, forcing the motivation to pick up her violin and play. The deeper her pain wrenched inside her, the more her playing improved. The memory of beloved husband, who had supported her for so long, refused to cease in her darkest hours, pushing her past herself, however painfully, in the direction of her own magnificence. “ I lea ned on music a nd spi r it ua l contemplation. Music helped me by giving me something to create, and it also kept me in touch with the world because, often, the only reason I would leave the house, or even eat, was to meet up with musician friends or to go to a gig,” Yeh admits, “You can imagine how devastated I was when my violin burned in March 2016 and I fractured my elbow in June 2016. I am evergrateful to a handful of very close friends who were there for me at all hours - bringing me to doctor’s appointments, looking out for me, listening to me and just being understanding. They gave me the safe and non-judgemental space I needed to put myself back together.” “It has taken me nearly two years to piece my life back together and to redefine myself, but since closing this last chapter of my life, many wonderful things have also happened,” shares Yeh, “For one, I have never looked back at corporate life - in fact, being laid off was

a blessing as I could no longer manage two careers at once. I have also since been invited to perform with amazing artists such as Rob Tardik, Pavlo, Tom Barlow, Tyler Yarema, Stevie Gee, David Hines, Art Griffin’s Sound Chaser and many more.” Even more unanticipated surprises were on the horizon for Yeh, because sometimes and often especially, when you least suspect it, love will make its way through the tender cracks to find you. “Of course, the one very big and very unexpected thing that happened to me was finding love again with my new partner. All I can say is, it is a rare and special person who can help you scatter your spouse’s ashes and let you cry, grieve and cherish the memories of your past marriage, all the while knowing and feeling secure in the strength of your present relationship together. Our relationship is one that is kind, supportive, loving, fun, passionate and respectful - and this has definitely helped me enter this new chapter of my life.” Yeh also has found new purpose in her community work, and now aids efforts to bring the joy of music to at-risk youth in Brazil. Brazil Strings, a foundational outreach that brings music education to underprivileged children, helps to bring volunteer string educators from outside the country to come teach at schools in need. “The kids we’re talking about can be in truly dire circumstances and music is sometimes the only thing that keeps them on a positive track in life,” asserts Yeh, “We take for granted how things are here for us in Canada. There are

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schools there with so little money there that they have to choose between paying their teachers and paying their power bills. This means kids can only rehearse outside until the sun sets. Music programs are continuously in peril because funding is erratic and it’s hard to find donors who want to donate regularly to keep an established program going. Last year, we were able to raise over $7000 USD in our first ever online fundraiser and were able to make some great donations to the youth in Brazil.” Yeh will also be serving as concertmaster of the Summerhill Orchestra, a brand new symphony orchestra currently establishing itself in the heart of Toronto. First rehearsals begin October 2nd, with their inaugural concert to be held on December 1st, in which they will perform the complete Beethoven Symphony No. 8 and The Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. “This community group is a diverse gathering of musicians that includes full-time professional musicians alongside students, hobbyists and amateurs who have full-time careers outside of music. What excites me most is having met players that have said that they quit music for years (sometimes for decades) and decided to pick it up again. This orchestra has invited them to rediscover the magic of creating music and it’s simply incredible! Having been that person myself, I cannot help but feel awe-inspired,” smiles Yeh. Another thing Yeh is working towards is living more sustainable lifestyle. Having spent a lot of time in meditation to contemplate, grow and to become more aware, Yeh sought

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guidance to help her through her difficult journey, resulting in the completion of certified training in both Reiki and yoga. Having sold her house, Yeh will be moving into a yurt this fall. Her plans include building a sustainable, passive off-grid house with an integrated greenhouse and space for house concerts and yoga sessions. Having not only survived but thrived through the most traumatic times of her life, Yeh serves as an inspiration, a living symbol of the triumph of the human spirit. “I try my best to live day by day and to seize opportunities as they arise. When truly wonderful things have happened in my life, they have always been the times where I’ve been living true to my heart and to my art,” muses Yeh. “The times when I’ve known what was important to me and was open to any path and opportunity that presented itself. So, in terms of my music career, I really have no clue what the future holds for me because I’m sure that my present-self is incapable of even conceiving the possibilities that will one day present themselves.” Victoria Yeh is a Toronto-based acoustic and electric violinist, having performed across Canada from coast to coast. Classically trained, Victoria studied under many teachers including the late Ranald Shean (founding member ESO), Broderyck Olson (Assistant Concertmaster, ESO), Frank Ho (Grant MacEwen College), Martin Riseley (former Concertmaster, ESO), Christian Howes (former Asst Professor, Berklee College of Music), and the late Jacques Israelievitch (former Concertmaster, TSO). You can find a full show listing posted on her website victoriayeh.com To donate to Brazil Strings and help at-risk children receive access to both music and hope, please click here to go to their FundRazr site and make a difference today!


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BY JACLYN TRUSS

Playful Tableaus & Cute Couture Any moment, even if it seems insignificant, can be inspiring.

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@handsandcolors

@jesuso_ortiz / www.jesusoart.com


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wo rose-headed lovers swept up in a passionate kiss, a barrage of button hot air balloons soaring high above the clouds, f loating cherry tomato balloons with a penchant for escape, a girl sashaying fashionably in her orchid petal skirt — these are but some the sweetly charming and whimsical creations of 3D artist Jesús Ortiz. Since his childhood, Ortiz dabbled happily in all forms of art. Distinctive in his creativity from the beginning, Ortiz even painted his watch so that it would be uniquely his. At the age of 14, he began to study a variety of artistic disciplines in Cordoba, Spain, including natural and technical drawing and met other artists with similar interests. While he learned much in his studies, he remains steadfast in his belief that true learning comes from practice and work. Originally moving to Málaga from Cordoba to study advertising in university, Ortiz has since stayed, made his home there, and now crafts contemporary art in one of the oldest cities in the world. “I started working with real objects in a casual way, initially including illustrations in some photos,” explains Ortiz, “I liked the effect of the illustration on a photo, and that’s how I started to focus on the illustration as the central theme of my gallery.”

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Blending natural objects such as f lowers, leaves, twigs, fruits and vegetables, and manmade objects such as buttons, clips, cotton, matchboxes and confetti, with adorably detailed cartoon drawings or realistic portraits, his creations range from beautiful to endearing, but always intricate in their simplicity and exquisitely captivating. “Many people tell me that I always bring them a smile with my works and that they transmit calm and tranquility,” says Ortiz, “I am very direct in my work, I like to show a little, but to transmit a lot. Simplicity and playing with colours fascinates me.” One glance at his portfolio and the expanse of his creative well is inarguably apparent. To create such pieces, one must look at everyday items in unique ways that have yet to be expressed by their current being or use: a rose becomes a hat and the eyebrows of a lady’s face; a hot pepper becomes a smiling gnome’s conical hat; a hibiscus head becomes the horn of an old gramophone; a pinch clip becomes the head of a pet alligator. Married with talented drawing abilities, Ortiz orchestrates simple, playful tableaus and cute couture that immediately captures your attention and your heart.

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“Inspiration simply arises,” admits Ortiz: “It is not something that can be explained, it just happens. Ideas can come at any time. I think it helps to be calm, without situations of stress and with a clear mind. Any moment, even if it seems insignificant, can be inspiring. Each image depends on the moment. Sometimes I can think of an idea and look for the elements to create it; other times, I see an object or a flower and I can think of an illustration to add to create something original; other times I simply photograph objects and save the photos, so that when I see them again at a later time, I can come up with ideas that I did not think of the first time around. I like my images to be very clean and without too many elements. Works that feature many elements are meant to be enjoyed over time in order to discover everything that the author wants to tell us. In my case, posting my art on Instagram where images are viewed quickly, I think it is better to be very direct. To transmit as much as possible with fewer elements.”

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The platform of Instagram has been integral to Ortiz’s social development as an artist. He first began publishing his images in 2013 and since then, the exposure and ability to reach people around the world have led to working with fashion designers for couture collections, worldwide campaigns, and even working with some brands on Instagram. While very selective in accepting proposals, Ortiz had never imagined working on projects such as these on his own, and he is very grateful for these opportunities. “Now I have the possibility to work for myself,” relates Ortiz, “I have worked for major brands, and I have projects outside my country thanks to Instagram. It has been a very good leap for me because I have a lot more creative freedom when I work on my own.” Now, Ortiz’s illustrations are for sale printed on paper, small mirrors, magnets and cloth bags, as well as commissioned work for clients. “I would like to work exclusively on my own,” says Ortiz, “Focus on my online store and commission as an illustrator for my clients.” To check out Ortiz’ online store, please go to

www.jesusoart.com

and find — or create — that perfect gift to tug at the heartstrings of that special someone!

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Gravel on Silk The Art of Dreaming in Music BY JACLYN TRUSS

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@ahimusic / www.ahimusic.com


AHI

takes the stage. His peaceful presence and first words into the microphone grab the audience’s attention. His voice, like “gravel on silk”, is smooth and husky, wrapped in a warm familiarity like an old friend calling on you to wish you well. He eases into his first song, and the feeling is one of immediate captivation. Remnants of Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman and Ray LaMontagne linger throughout the performance, but cannot speak to AHI’s signature sound, uniquely his own and passionately performed. In an exclusive INSPADES interview, this rare and burgeoning musical star shares his thoughts on the art of singing, the importance of family, dreaming in music and aligning with your life’s purpose.

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You mention on your website “your humble beginnings”. Can you tell us how you got your start? “I didn’t grow up in a musical household at all. My siblings and I would do talent shows and lip sync contests for fun, but in our home, it was mainly sports, God and education, though not in that particular order. I first started playing the guitar in my early twenties and I still barely consider myself a guitar player. If I weren’t doing music, I would probably be a teacher, social worker, theologian or a nomad [laughs]. Music was not on the agenda. In high school, I started burying myself in hip hop. I was relatively good at rapping, but I realized pretty quickly that being a forty-year-old rapper wasn’t the most glamorous future. If you knew me growing up, you knew that I’d always had a passion for singing. During school, I was always running through the hallways singing out loud. I wasn’t any good, but I had a lot of heart [laughs]. And one day I just had this epiphany: there wasn’t any current music that made me feel the way people like Bob Marley made me feel. I felt there was this void that needed to be filled and since no one was doing it, I figured — why not teach myself how to sing and play and fill that void myself? If I had felt there was someone out there making the music I wanted to hear – better yet, that I needed to hear – then I wouldn’t be making music right now.”

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How do you train your voice, and have your methods evolved over time? “I never used to train my voice at all. I thought training would take away from the rawness of it, so what you got was what you got – which was a total deadbeat mentality. I’ve never taken any vocal lessons, but I did learn the power of listening to myself. A lot of singing competitions are filled with people who don’t actually listen to themselves sing. They’re only listening to what singing feels like to them. I used to be one of those people who thought, ‘If it feels good it must sound good’, but I eventually created my own methods and techniques for training my voice. I’m not a music nerd and I don’t know theory all that well, but just realizing that I needed to focus on doing specific things to improve my voice was a huge step in the right direction.” How did you develop your singing and musical style? “Honesty. I believe everyone can sing if they find their honest voice. Finding the natural timbre of your singing voice might take you down a bizarre and uncomfortable path, but once you find your voice, you instantly become one of a kind. You can learn how to imitate someone and still go pretty far in your career but I think the singers who stand the test of time are the ones who find their unique voice and refine it to the point of greatness. It’s rare, but it should be the norm because we’re all pretty unique.”


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Where do you get inspiration for your songwriting and musical composition?

You have said you prefer passion over precision, can you elaborate on that?

“From life in general. A pretty boring answer, I know [laughs], but as a songwriter, I talk about real things that I’m thinking about or experiencing. Even if I write a song about a completely made-up story, it probably developed from something that either I or someone I know has experienced. My process is very loose and old fashioned. I have my studio room where I do my writing and record my demos, I sit down with my guitar and either start with an idea or melody that I already have, or I see if there’s something new looming around inside me, and when I’m relaxed and patient some really beautiful things happen in those moments. I’ve learned not to force songwriting, but I do make an effort to keep myself on the ball. I often dream music, too; I have a lot of late-night recordings of me mumbling some melody that won’t make sense to anyone but me. Dreaming music is possibly the most fascinating thing about being a songwriter. It’s almost like I’m capturing signals from a radio transmission and the voices are rarely mine. Sometimes I feel like there are songs I’m dreaming that are out there for anyone to capture, but I’m just tuned into that channel. The trick is to wake up and record it as accurately as possible in my groggy, half-asleep voice before it fades into the dream ethers. I dream a lot of weird stuff, too, but I’ve learned which stuff is worth getting up for and which I can sleep through. I wonder if there is some scientific study on this, because I know I’m not the only one who experiences it.”

“There are a lot of talented people who are very precise about their craft but they’re heartless. You can’t really feel anything from them because it’s all technique or style. For me, music is about getting lost in a feeling or escaping a feeling. I don’t want to make it sound like passion is all you need, but passion is so important because people feel and connect to that.”

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How has this journey been for you, and how is it now that you have a family? “It’s been a good journey so far. I’m moving at my pace, on my terms, and I feel like I’m on my purpose. I’m patient about my career and things are aligning for me in what feels like the most beautifully orchestrated way. My family is my fuel, so they make things easier for me. I never understand when people use their children as excuses to stop pressing toward their goals. One of my jobs as a parent is to actualize my goals so that my children can have a direct example of someone accomplishing what they set out to do. My children motivate me and inspire me to excel.”


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What have been some of your greatest challenges and successes working in the industry? “For me, the biggest challenge has been networking. I can be very social when it feels right and I think I’m a pretty likeable person, but I often just want to sit in my room all day writing songs and daydreaming. I’m not too fond of all the industry schmoozing because I don’t really fit the mold most people in the industry are used to, so it’s hard to communicate that in a first impression elevator pitch conversation. I’m way better at it now, but I’d really just prefer my music to speak for itself. This is a relationship-driven industry though, and there is no success without making the right connections. My success is that I’m doing me. When people discover me, they are discovering something wholly unique and true to self. It’s refreshing not only for them but for me as well. I hope that people get lost in my music the way I and so many others have gotten lost in Bob Marley or 2Pac’s music. I truly feel like I’ve found a way to break through the noise without compromising my integrity.” You’ve toured quite a bit. What were some of your favourite experiences? “There are so many! But what I’m finding is that the more I tour the better everything is getting. My career is growing exponentially every day, so you might have to come and find me in ten years and ask me this question again.

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But to give some kind of answer, touring the UK and Europe with my wife and three-yearold daughter was something I’ll always hold close to me. People thought we were crazy for doing it, and maybe we were. We were naïve, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. How did you go about forming a band that synced with you? “To be honest, I think it’s the songs. The songs are good and they’re relatable, so the players sync with the music. I’m pretty cool too, but I strive to write music that is easy to play without being shallow or unimaginative. We are all in sync with the music and the music is an extension of me.” What advice would you have for someone pursuing their musical career? The kind of advice I give would depend on the person to whom I’m giving the advice. For me though, a general rule is to be as brutally honest with yourself as possible. This industry chews up and spits out a lot of people. It sells a lot of dreams and someone will be more than happy to exploit your insecurities. Brutal honesty makes a lot of things transparent and it can really help you navigate through the confusion and noise.”


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ALL SONGS WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY AHI

EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY AHKINOAH H. IZARH PRODUCED, RECORDED AND MIXED BY ERIC MASSE AT THE CASINO IN NASHVILLE, TN, USA. MUSIC PLAYED BY AHI, IAN FITCHUK, ELI BEAIRD, NICK BOCKRATH, FRANK CARTER RISCHE AND ERIN RAE MC KASKLE MASTERED BY JOE LA PORTA FOR STERLING SOUND IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

ART DIRECTION BY AHKINOAH H. IZARH FOR HOUSE OF IZARH COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

SPECIAL THANKS TO AHSHATÈN IZARH, ORIN ISAACS, LORNA PARSONS, NSAI #21006 and CBC RADIO ONE

This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters. Ce projet est financé en partie par FACTOR, le gouvernement du Canada et les radiodiffuseurs privés du Canada.

From humble beginnings in Brampton, Ontario, AHI (pronounced “eye”) independently toured over 100,000 miles of the vast woodlands of Canada and the neon lights of Nashville, to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and eventually beyond the Atlantic to the brick lanes of London. Along the way, he has recorded leading acoustic sessions across the UK and Europe, but none have been viewed as much as the simple home video AHI recorded — a stunning rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”, filmed on a London street and accompanied by the sweet harmonies of his three-year-old daughter. The video caught the attention of the Marley family, who featured it on the official BobMarley. com website and sent AHI a personalized note from Mrs. Rita Marley herself – an unparalleled experience for an artist who cites Bob Marley as his greatest musical inspiration. Soon after, AHI returned home to find that his Indie Soul EP (2014) was chosen as one of CBC Radio One’s top 10 records of the year, and

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he has since been recognized and awarded by Folk Alliance International, Nashville Songwriters Association International, the Songwriters Association of Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts, among others. For his debut full-length album, We Made It Through The Wreckage (2017), AHI has collaborated with CMA winning producer Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert) to create what Masse has called an entirely “new genre”, blending folk, soul and rock, and topping it off with a vocal performance to be expected from a seasoned powerhouse rather than an indie debut. The feel-good single “Ol’ Sweet Day” broke the Billboard Spotify Viral 50 Chart and hit #34 on the U.S. Viral 50 without any promotion or marketing. The track took off on playlists worldwide and surpassed 1 million streams; a rare feat for an artist yet to make his mark. Now a 2017 finalist in the Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class, it’s not hard to see why AHI is one of Canada’s most promising emerging acts.


A HI IN D I E S O U L

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ALEXANDRIA

SOUL STYLING “When I am up on stage, I know my purpose: to anchor the light and elevate the collective consciousness. My voice is a gift that I know carries healing vibrations, and this is why I need to share it.�

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@theonlyalexandria - www.theonlyalexandria.com


A


F

reestyling and free-flowing melodies from the heart, Alexandria Santaguida channels her music, allowing it to move through her as though she is the instrument creating, purely from feeling, complete songs without chords. Later, adding lyrics and working with producers to put chords to her sweet melodies, Alexandria’s creative process proves to be a gift that pours forth freely from her soul. “I had always been a performer - my mom said I was singing before I was talking. I danced as a child, played the violin and never missed a moment to put on a performance in the living room for whatever guests my parents had over. I had been writing poetry and songs since I can remember - entering poetry contests as young as age 10.” Though blessed with a loving family, Alexandria’s love of performance would have to take a backseat to her family’s ambitions for her future. A career in performance was not something her parents were able to understand, insisting she was to pursue a university degree in something more traditional. Following the “rules” Alexandria continued her schooling at McGill University in Montreal, with arts as only an extracurricular activity. Although her parents did support her other ambitions by providing her with singing lessons, Alexandria could not resonate with any of her voice coaches, and so abandoned any formal vocal training. However, Alexandria had begun making friends with students in the music program at McGill and, with one such friend from her choir elective, she produced her first recordings sitting in a bedroom with just a laptop and a USB microphone.

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“With no vocal training at this point, I had recorded two covers and we brought to life my first original,” recounts Alexandria, “I had sung out the chords to him and he taught me how to make harmonies. I sent those three songs back to my family in Toronto and, if not for the words of encouragement from my older sister, I would’ve overlooked these recordings completely.” That summer, Alexandria found out about a studio that would host a weekly music industry social gathering. Taking a chance, she ventured out, and ended up networking and meeting people in the music scene. After the event, Alexandria sat down with the studio’s main producers and played them the 4 tracks she had recorded at the time. Liking what they heard, they took her in, having her write some of their tracks. “They gave me the chance and opportunity to create, to dive into songwriting and I recorded for the first time in a real studio set up with them,” recalls Alexandria, “I made two EP records with them and I met many amazing people. It set me off on my musical journey.” With the summer ending and the start of school fast approaching, Alexandria was coming up on a difficult choice to make, and though it was made more difficult by something else she was going through, it also ended up making the decision unequivocal. “I was moving through some deep depression and mental illness that made left me with a choice: stay or go. Either live and walk my purpose or leave this planet. Somewhere inside of me, I found the strength to stay and began my spiritual awakening.” Feeling that had she not stayed, all that she learned and the relationships she had formed would’ve been for nothing. It took all of her courage, but she chose to defer school only three weeks before classes resumed.

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@photographybyolivia

@shadesofnate

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“Leaving school saved my life,” div ulges Alexandria, “With no training or contacts, I’ve had to learn everything from the ground up, but music saved my life.” Now, Alexandria currently has a catalogue of music ready for release that she is excited for the world to hear. She practices daily meditation techniques that allow her to stay grounded and in a positive flow, it also allows her to be unconditional herself and others. “It has changed my life and how I interact with life completely. I am able to see things from an outside perspective and be connected to my heart centre. What I love about this is that I get to share these techniques with people and empower them,” shares Alexandria, “I am always writing, getting inspired by daily encounters and my own personal life scenarios. I have also been writing for and taking part in a few films, so a lot of wonderful things are on the horizon! What got me to where I am now was flowing with life, learning that every situation carries a gift that allows you to evolve, and trusting in the process. If I could impart one thing, it’s that you should never give up, even when it seems impossible to all those around you.”

ALEXANDRIA also teaches yoga, runs wellness events with NU LOVE (@nulovecommunity), performs energy healing, teaches mediation and runs sound healing sessions. She is also passionate about animal rescue and has created a wellness program for dogs: Zen Dog Wellness (@zendogswellness), which helps to people to heal and bond with their dogs.

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“Be amazing at what you do, work on your craft. Flow with what comes and never stop trusting you will make it.”


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The story behind “a sock for every man” “A

bout three years ago, we [Woods and Wright] were in the desperate process of preparing for our upcoming wedding. As things were progressing, Woods was still left with the dire task of finding the right gift for his groomsmen. The dilemma was underscored by the need to somehow coordinate the lads with the ladies - which were to be decked out in fuchsia. At this point, lacking sleep, and


perhaps having gone one past his red bull limit, Woods stumbled into the random shop that would lead to an unprecedented epiphany - how about socks? Once he saw them, he knew that no other gift would suit his groomsmen better than pairs of bright fuchsia socks. We didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a common experience among many guys. Around us, men from every walk of life – from truck drivers to investment bankers – were actively changing the trends in men’s fashion and attempting, with varying degrees of success, to fight against conformity. Many of us will remember the brief period in the late nineties when loud ties festooned with cartoon characters became acceptable. It was an attempt to market nonconformity while selling consumers the idea that they were somehow lampooning the status quo. The problem, however, was that there was also a point at which this weak form of rebellion became the ultimate symbol of conformity. What’s happening now is different. Unlike ties that are on display for all to see, the beauty of socks lies in the fact that they are generally hidden from view. The only clue that a man is taking a stand against the norms might be a fleeting glimpse of colour seen as he strides across the room. We fell in love with the idea of socks that were not only funky and different but that even tell their own story.”

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“The beginning was hectic but strangely magical. We couldn’t believe that we were indeed executing our dream and that it was actually coming true. There were many pieces of the puzzle that had to come together in order to create our vision. We all had a basic understanding of what to do, but in times of uncertainty, we had to become resourceful and find the answers. We knew that it was vital for all three of us to target on what our strengths were. It is important to let each person focus on what they do best and we believe it has a lot to do with our growth and success so far. Growth also didn’t come quickly for us, we had to be patient and trust that our progress would come one step at a time.”

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“The design process for us is not mechanical. When we began, we would research patterns and come up with ideas on our own as well. Sometimes, our ideas would arise organically, while others took more time to develop. More recently, our inspiration comes from simply observing what men are wearing on the streets, in the office or even at concerts. It is also important for us to actively listen to our customers and hear what they are asking for in a sock design. Lately, we’ve been designing more patterns based on client requests but we will always put our own ‘spin’ on things. Once we’ve come up with ideas for our patterns, Wright sketches them and then transfers them to Adobe Illustrator. There are also manufacturing limits on what we can put on our socks, so we often have to tailor our ideas into what can be properly translated into the fabrication process. As for our brand, we will often come up with crazy ideas and think, ‘Is this something we should actually do? It seems a bit nuts!’ and then we usually end up doing it. We thrive off of giving our clients the unexpected, it’s what makes us unique.”


“Our respective backgrounds have helped us tremendously in the whole process. Manufacturing was tricky in the beginning, as we had certain ideas that were met with limitations when it came to actually producing the socks. Once our first collection of sock styles were produced, it was key for us to receive samples of our product before selling them to the public. We wanted to feel the quality of our socks in person and wear them before we made them available to our customers. We are extremely picky about the grade of our socks and often wear each pair for several days making sure that it is up to our standards before offering them for sale. As for shipping, we had to do a lot of research on the different rates around the country and internationally. This wasn’t a simple or fun process as we all tend to enjoy the creative side of the business more than the tedious details. Fortunately, for our website, it wasn’t complicated for us at all. Wright had seven years under her belt working with a lot of software and this really helped things go smoothly.”

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“One of our biggest challenges is being patient about the process. It is important for us to celebrate every small milestone as if it were a big one. It was a lot of work just to get it started as well, we were working to get the business off the ground while working other careers and engaged in higher education studies. We had to persist and focus on our business, despite the other events that were going on in our personal lives.”

“The entrepreneurial journey is one of many highs and lows. There will be a day where we will hit a bump in the road, but then, all of a sudden, we will get a big break. There is often something that will surprise us every day. The best part of being an entrepreneur is meeting and networking with other like-minded people. Our company thrives off of creativity - it’s what keeps us alive. When we get the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and hear their stories it gets our imaginations stirring. It’s a road of constant changes, but that’s what keeps our lives interesting.”


“Having fun in our business is beyond important for us. There is a lot of tough work that happens behind the scenes. We’ve had to stay up late many nights and pull several strings to get our company going. For it all to be worthwhile, the process has to be entertaining. Your career is something you spend the most of your time doing, therefore, we believe our working environment should be energetic and playful.” “Being welcomed in our very first retail stores was pretty exciting for us, but our greatest success is hearing from our happy customers. We love it when a customer tags us on Instagram or Facebook wearing our socks it’s a really good feeling to know that your hard work is paying off.”

“For the future, we would like our company to continue to expand. We want to keep to cultivating relationships with our smaller retailers while getting into larger stores as well. We would also like to eventually create more types of men’s accessories such as boxers. There are not a lot of brands that focus themselves exclusively to men’s apparel and we would like to remain a brand that gives men more exciting options for what they can wear.”

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TEAM THOMAS WOODS

Woods’ prior occupations included working with individuals with special needs. He also has a background in sales and has always wanted to start his own business. Woods has a passion for working with people and amongst the team, he is considered “the face” of Uptown Sox.

JESSICA WRIGHT

Wright comes from a design and art background. She has a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a master’s degree in architecture. She has always emerged herself in design, art, colour theory and fashion. Wright typically works behind the scenes on the designs and creative aspects of the brand.

BASSAM SAEED

Saeed has a background in business and has studied business accounting at Algonquin College. He is known for his dynamic people skills and has previously managed a highprofile restaurant in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Saeed offers his expertise to the business and works strategically with sales and operations.


BY GUINEVERE JOY

Natural Beauty KseniaDolgorukova @ksenia.dolgorukova

“I remember when I was a little girl, the whole world around me was inviolable, opened and painted in pink tones. Blossom Twins reveals to us the world of little girls who stay somewhere on the edge. When children grow up, things change.�

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elf-proclaimed “art-addict” photographer, Ksenia Dolgorukova, immerses her fashion models in woodland whimsies and playful floral frolicking, revealing her deep connection with the natural world. With early memories of visiting her dacha (country cottage), like many city dwellers in Russia, Dolgorukova’s family would find reprieve in their dacha on a regular basis, especially in the warmer seasons:

Dolgorukova shoots with Nikon D800 and D90 Lenses: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G, Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Flash: Nissin Di622 Mark II Camera bag: Lowepro Slingshot 102 AW

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“When I was a little girl, I stayed in the village with my grandmother in Siberia. Early in the morning, I would wake up to freshly baked bread. I would look out the window and see a shepherd driving a herd of cows. The most beautiful cow was ours; she was crystal white and big. After breakfast, I would go with my cousins to the forest and we would collect wild berries and mushrooms. Later, we would go fishing, flanked by countless cats. Village cats would catch fish in the pond and were, by far, the better fishermen. In the evenings, we would go to a village disco or gather at a home to listen to the local musicians. Old men would play balalaika and accordion, adorned in costumes that were smoothly ironed, and for special occasions, they would also smoothly shave their beards.”


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From her maternal Kazakh heritage, Dolgorukova was imbued by the vast, sunkissed steppes and deep, dark pine forests. Dolgorukova’s picturesque upbringing infused her spirit with fresh air, playful wildlife and a joy of simple things, lending a refreshing vibrancy to her present-day perspective. Her aptitude for noticing the fine details of life’s moments, and her instinct to look for them, has assisted her greatly in her artistic expression: “I have always been interested in art. I wanted to express my thoughts and ideas. At first, I drew pictures, and then I played the piano and guitar. Then I realized that photography resonated more strongly with me than music. For me, it is less interesting to create a moment on the canvas than it is to inspire your idea in a photoshoot - cooperating and working with other people to share their own feelings and life,” Dolgorukova shares. With the utmost sensitivity and sincerity, she aims to capture not just the superficial charm of her models, but the person within as well. Taking her desire to relate to her models to an even higher level, Dolgorukova completed modeling school herself, which gave her the experience of knowing what it’s like to stand under the lights and in her models’ shoes. Now as a photographer, she works with several different modelling agencies, but always with the fundamental belief that beauty comes from within:

A few sources of inspiration: Salvador Dalí Vincent van Gogh J.M.W. Turner Mikhail Vrubel Arkhip Kuindzhi

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“When I plan projects, I think not only about wardrobe and types of faces, but I also find out what the models are about: What does she like? Is she active and cheerful or quiet and shy? Is she happy at this moment? Is her heart is broken? I can help to express their feelings in the photoshoot. That is why it is easy for them to express themselves in front of my lens. Models can dance, jump, cry, eat flowers and do crazy things. Moreover, I can do crazy things too and have fun.”

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It seems that Dolgorukova serves a dual purpose as both photographer and spirit-lifter, for she works to help each of her models realize their own unique exquisiteness, delighting and celebrating their unique so-called imperfections that speak to her humanity. In creating Light Inside, Dolgorukova had the clear intention of capturing the ability of dance to transcend language as “conversation between souls, showing the light and strength within.” Dolgorukova’s appreciation of beauty is not limited to fashion. In her day-to-day life, she attempts to find inspiration whilst witnessing the special moments that life brings. “Every day I try to find things, moments or even people that inspire me. A man who helps a beggar. A street musician who performs a song. A loving couple walking under one umbrella. Children who play and laugh.” Dolgorukova has many dreams and aspirations for her future career, but keeping her faith in people, continuing to see – and capture with her camera – the natural goodness in humanity is of paramount importance to her work.


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In The Gallery with

GUNROZE BY JACLYN TRUSS

“People are far more conscious and reluctant to be photographed by strangers than they were when I was photographing them in the early-80s.” In 2012, street photographer and portraitist Gun Roze uncovered a series of colour negatives contained in his archives. Hidden for 30 years before the point of rediscovery, Roze recognized them as images he shot in Manhattan in 1982. With captivating subjects and unavoidable highlights of the bold, colourful and experimental fashion of the time, these gritty 80s images are an unadulterated look at bustling New Yorkers in their everyday lives. Encouraged by his friends, Roze resurrected the forgotten images for a gallery showing and has begun production on his book entitled: Manhattan 1982.

A Toronto-born and based photographer, Roze has worked in professional photography labs in Toronto, Vancouver and New York City over the past 35 years. He considers this broad experience to be his most valuable source of information and experimentation, and learning from the mistakes of both himself and others has led him to his unique perspectives as a photographer.

“My street photography is not the usual type of imagery that most people associate with the category. Shooting out and about daily for five years has allowed me to shoot as freely as I am interested, in an abundance of subject matter. Rarely when I photograph people on the streets do I engage with them. Instead, I capture them as I am experiencing them — often from walking behind so that they

“Most importantly, finding the archives of Manhattan inspired me to return to street photography in 2012, though this time from a resident’s perspective. I have kept up a daily practice of shooting whatever impresses me along my routes to all my destinations, and opportunities present themselves. I intentionally chose a compact pointand-shoot digital camera, both for its easy

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@gunroze - www.shot-by-gun.com

remain anonymous. As soon as the subject notices my camera, the interesting situation I was attracted to shoot is changed and no longer intriguing to me.”


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accessibility and the image quality that closely resembles the grainy early-80s film look. When I moved back to Toronto in 2015, I wasn’t sure that I could continue with my daily street-based practice, and people were far more conscious and reluctant to be photographed by strangers than they were when I was photographing in the early80s; however, it is my passion for street photography that helps me rediscover and appreciate my hometown, which has changed greatly during my 20 years living elsewhere — so I make sure my little camera is with me at all times,” smiles Roze. In 2013, three of Roze’s street portraits made their debut in New York City at a group show with ClampArt and, in 2015, a solo show was exhibited in Toronto at Akasha Art Projects. Thanks to social media, Roze’s posted images have gained a worldwide appreciation and following. His photography and method remind us of something simple that the digital realm of photography and post-production can sometimes forget — the way you feel when you click the button and capture the moment. More than just the beauty or merit of an image, Roze instills the deep sense of the photographer themselves, moving with a fluid interaction throughout their world, capturing unique moments that, so fleeting, can disappear in a mere millisecond. He reminds us that a photographer lives for the moment, a moment so thrilling when caught because it could have been lost just as easily.

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Roze has developed many themes over the years of continuous shooting, including architecture, found objects, street art, graffiti, posted signs, abstract details, reflections and ref lection self-portraits. His upcoming solo show, Street Shots: NYC 2013-14 and TO 201517, will run from October 4th to the 31st, 2017. “This exhibition is to show my transition from shooting in the streets of New York (2013-14) to those of Toronto (2015-17), once I relocated. Each new showing or project is connected to the previous one, so even though I have been photographing since the age of eight, I am still considered an emerging artist. I am still introducing myself to Toronto’s photography and fine art scene. I hope that viewers will appreciate how wonderfully unique each city’s visual offerings are, and that one is not superior over the other, only different. I always photograph to please my own sense of aesthetics and meaningfulness. It is completely unpredictable which image will capture the interest and complimentary reactions from its audience. My exhibition is a combination of images that were very well received on social media, and some of my own personal gems that have yet to be seen.”

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BY GUINEVERE JOY

UYOKA

NNEKA ATTO •

J U P I T E R S O N G 132

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@jjupitersong / www.uyokamusic.com


“My cultural background is Nigerian, and growing up in a Nigerian household within the Canadian/ Western culture was a really interesting experience; I identify very strongly with being Canadian, but my Nigerian roots have definitely helped to shape who I am.�

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oronto based singer-songwriter Nneka Atto, known in the music world as Uyoka, recently released her album Jupitersong. As the title suggests, the album is as great and mysterious as the planet that it is named after. According to Uyoka, the planet Jupiter signifies knowledge, higher learning, exploration and expansion. In astrology, each of the zodiac signs is ruled by a planet and, being a Sagittarius, she feels a connection to Jupiter in this aspect as well. “In a sense, it was like I was learning and exploring more about myself through these songs,” reveals Uyoka, “Sagittarians are known to be the philosophers and curious explorers of the zodiac, and Jupiter is all about big visions and expansion. Both of these aspects can be found within my music.” Although Uyoka has called Toronto home for most of her life, she has familial ties to Nigeria. Growing up with her family in the greater Toronto area, her artistic talents were nurtured by a constant stream of music that played in her home. From country to rock, to jazz and also traditional Nigerian music, her exposure to sound was diverse. “Traditional Nigerian music, as with most

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African music, is melodic and chant-like with very bold rhythms, which have influenced the melodies that I write,” she shares, “My artist name, Uyoka, also has Nigerian roots: it’s a portmanteau of my first and middle names, Uyoyoghene and Nneka.” Uyoka’s talent for writing was also nurtured from an early age, having written her very first song at the age of thirteen. In that moment, the joy that she experienced from creating a finished work of art led her to realize that writing music was the path she was destined to follow. Although she has dabbled in painting, drawing, and even self-published a children’s book, Ollie’s Carrot, writing music was always her heart’s calling: “Although I am an alternative rock artist, I love and appreciate the music of all genres. Because of this, my taste in music is highly eclectic. With my work, what I try to do is fuse bits and pieces from all of these different styles, and the sound that I create is very explorative and experimental as a result. The songs have such complex, intricate layers, reminiscent of the swirling, dancing patterns of the album’s namesake.”


Uyoka’s Top Ten Playlist Tracy Chapman “Fast Car” Chris de Burgh “A Spaceman Came Travelling” Trisha Yearwood “She’s In Love With the Boy” Green Day “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” Marc Cohn “Walking in Memphis” Jewel “Hands” Gackt “Seki-Ray” Bone Thugs-n-Harmony “Resurrection (Paper, Paper)” Sting “Fields of Gold” Selena “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”

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The uplifting songs from Jupitersong were written in her late 20s which, for her, was a time of soul-searching. “During that time, I reflected a lot upon who I am, what I’ve done, what I want to accomplish, and the type of person that I want to be,” she recalls. Uyoka has a self-described unorthodox style to creating music, as she relates to music on an intuitive level. The fact that she has never studied music formally does not interfere with her ability to create melodic tracks. Like Uyoka, scores of musicians have a keen ear for rhythm and perfect pitch without prior knowledge of formal musical technicalities. Uyoka discloses: “My strength is in being what’s called, a ‘topliner’. I compose vocal melodies and write lyrics. As I don’t play any instruments and

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I can’t produce music, I rely on a producer, musician or instrumentalist to create the actual music for me. Once I’ve got a track, then I can get to work.” To create her songs, Uyoka retreats from the chaos and speed of the city to look inwards: “During my writing process, I like to be alone with the music in a quiet place and allow the music to speak to me. We live in such an incredibly vast and ever-changing world, no matter how long we live, I don’t think we can ever really know it all. With a new album and budding musical career under her belt, Uyoka will continue to produce tracks with uncompromising integrity, filled with meaningful lyrics and beautiful rhythms.

Ollie’s Carrot


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A Movement in Sneakers

Dion Walcott

In

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BY JACLYN TRUSS

the 19th century, a rubber-soled shoe, whose colourful horizontal line adjoining the upper sole resembling the depth line on the hull line of a ship, earned it the nickname the “plimsoll”. It was in this moment that the first sneaker was born. Becoming a sensation, originally worn mostly by vacationers but soon becoming popular among tennis players, the soles were soon being modified with patterns to increase their grip. At the turn of the 20th century, the rubber-soled shoes, now coined “sneakers” because of the of their quiet stealth, would continue to grow in popularity as an athletic and leisure shoe. Since 1984, Nike’s famous endorsement deal with Michael Jordan arguably became known as the inception of modern sneaker culture, and since then sneakers have represented a myriad of meanings in society. Far from simply serving the basic purpose of footwear, sneakers have

@_martkd - martkd.com


“I realized how much power sneakers have, not only as a consumer good but as a driver to make people do things they are uncomfortable with.�

Photo Lucas Kwasniewski www.eyeprojekt.me - Video @88everything

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MARTK’D

is a movement that uses art on sneakers as an outlet for artists and creatives to showcase their work. The mentorship process we are working towards is to build a circle of influence for their followers to plug into. They hold a series of events for all different stages, but the main goal is to establish a community where everyone involved can be a resource for one another and bridge gaps within the arts.

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progressively continued to embody and convey a sense of personal identity, national identity, affiliation, race and even have the ability to ref lect political positions. Ever-evolving, sneaker culture continues to permeate our society and Dion Walcott, the director and founder of iDEEa Consultancy Group, which specializes in community engagement through contemporary culture, has made it his mission to take sneaker culture to a whole new level. From his humble beginnings in a lowincome area in Toronto, it all began in a fit of creativity - unable to purchase leisure shoes for a high school dance, Walcott coloured his white basketball sneakers. “Many thought I did this to be cool, but the truth is, I did this out of necessity, and my creativity was born,” explains Walcott. Since then, sneaker culture has become a way of life for Walcott, and he now uses it as a tool for mentorship in his sneaker art initiative, MARTK’D. Walcott launched the first ever sneaker mentorship program which has since been executed across Toronto, and later, went on to become the director of programs and partnerships for the first ever Sneaker Exhibition in North America, which was hosted at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. “I have a lot of respect for the knowledge the Bata Shoe Museum allowed me to gain while I was there. I learned about art and sneakers, and how there was an intersection where both meet to produce a unique culture,” shares Walcott, “MARTK’D is a community movement that creates, develops and hosts a

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wide variety of events, programs, competitions and initiatives all wrapped about sneaker art but, at its core, offers mentorship to youths and the community. Since starting MARTK’D, the goal has become building the brand to be a local, national and international movement that celebrates art on sneakers as a way to connect cultures, races and creatives.” As a platform for engaging young artists and those interested in art, MARTK’D has made its impact by opening up youths to a wider conversation, creating a means not only to connect but also for self-improvement and empowerment. “I took a group of young men sneaker shopping in New York City,” recounts Walcott, “This group would never have been interested in going to New York City unless it was for sneakers. After that trip, I realized how much power sneakers have, not only as a consumer good but as a driver to make people do things they are uncomfortable with. Once back in Toronto, I began visiting schools and bringing my sneaker collection to showcase to ‘at-risk’ students. I quickly realized how much respect I could garner simply because I had certain pairs of sneakers. The showcasing turned into a mentorship session once I made what I call ‘the pivot’ - taking the subject of sneakers and altering into a conversation about life. By asking questions such as: ‘How do you plan on affording sneakers for the rest of your life?’ In that moment, the conversation makes an organic change from sneaker talk to life talk - and the kids would really open


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up. From then on, I would embed life skills into sessions with the premise of just hanging out and talking about sneakers.” With his innovative and creative way to connect with students and teachers, Walcott began receiving referrals for other schools and teachers, and before he knew it, he was completely booked. Sneaker art creates an approachable way for youth to tell their stories, express their inner selves and explore subjects such as relationships, gender, identity, life challenges and other topics that, in another setting, would seem off-limits to them. This motivated Walcott to create MARTK’D as he had found a way to bridge the gap, not only for artists that require outlets but also for institutions looking to engage with them. The BATA Shoe Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, for example, benefit from having an authentic partner that will help make artists, creatives, and the community feel welcome in a new space. Within nine months, MARTK’D has worked with six universities, six major brands and over 1000 artists. MARTK’D has proven its solid ability to unify and organically establish relationships between groups of individuals and organizations alike. “The Bata Shoe Museum was looking to engage a new audience and it was a perfect pairing. I spent five years working with them around the sneaker exhibition and they are a major reason I have the know-how to work with brands and further the development of MARTKD. I have had to be creative in finding ways to build the brand and walk a

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tight line between private and public, corporate and community. Introducing sneakers as an engagement tool was new a way for a lot of people to look at things. Achieving funding has also been a challenge since it’s such a new concept. But the success of seeing an artist have a great time, working with different brands and seeing them understand the power of a subculture make the effort worth it.” With its unique methodolog y and mentorship, MARTK’D continues to grow, its dedicated following prospering greatly from its partnerships and initiatives. For Walcott, the future is clear: to make MARTK’D a global brand and celebrate art on sneakers all over the world. “MARTK’D will continue to inspire and connect youths with their expressive selves by igniting personal growth opportunities and harnessing the power of sneakers and art as a form of communication and storytelling.”

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Paint & Cocktails

We want to bring this positive, empowering experience to the rest of Canada and then to the world. Any artists interested in franchise information should contact us directly at joinus@paintandcocktails.com

“We place an emphasis on the therapeutic benefit and personal empowerment found in creating, something people have left behind in their busy lives.� @paintncocktails - www.paintandcocktails.com


L

aughing over drinks, a would-be artist picks up a paintbrush for the f irst time. Smoothing paint over a canvas in unfamiliar brushstrokes, a beautiful scene begins to emerge. Two hours later, the vision is complete with trees reaching for the sky in a technicolour swirl towards the sun and, in an instant, a new creative soul is born. In recent years, painting parties have become all the craze, inspiring professional painters, never-touched-a-brush novices and everyone in between. A session is typically two-hours long, and participants gather at a venue for an evening of painting and drinking - no experience necessary. The host company provides easels, paint, brushes, smocks and fun, interactive instruction for creating a one-of-akind art piece that the participant can then take home. The first of the paint-and-sip parties originated in New Orleans by a pair of moms, Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, who created Painting With A Twist, as a way to help rebuild their community and raise morale after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. While they remain the largest proprietor in the painting party realm, many fun franchises of the paintand-drink variety have sprung up across North America. We sat down with Susan and Gary Parker, the husband and wife team that brought to life one such franchise, Paint and Cocktails, for a deeper look into the undeniable allure of the wildly creative social phenomenon that is sweeping nation after nation.

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Susan, a registered nurse, and Gary, a former police officer turned paralegal, have always been passionate about helping others. Both hobby artists, they decided to combine their artistic skills, business acumen and passion for improving individuals’ lives by creating a company which focuses on reconnecting people with their creative side in a fun and positive environment. Paint and Cocktails host many types of events, including their scheduled events that are open to the public, private house parties, corporate team building, fundraisers and special events such as art competitions and national celebrations. Each type of event boasts its own energy and dynamic, which further cultivates the devotion that Susan and Gary have for enriching the lives of others. Enjoying every opportunity to encourage people who describe themselves as “non-creatives� to explore that side of themselves, this caring couple dedicates themselves to inspiring creative courage into the hearts of others. How did the concept for Paint and Cocktails first develop? I [Susan] attended a painting event with some friends. It was something I had never heard of but looked like a great night out. While fun, the evening left a lot of room for improvement in

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its execution. So over the course of the night, I found myself concentrating less on my painting and more time analyzing what and how I would do things differently. By the end of the evening, I had worked out a complete business model in my head. I got home and told Gary. His response? ‘Let’s do it!’ The rest is history. While it is a niche business, there is also existing competition. How did the business develop over time and what strategies did you use to get yourself out there? It is always a challenge to start a business from the ground up. If your funds are limited, you find that you are every department - IT, finance, HR, legal, marketing and customer service! It is easy to get lost in the daily tasks and competing priorities. My advice is to take a step back regularly and reassess your priorities, ensuring that you are working on the right outputs that move the business forward. We learned and adapted our approach to venues and customers and marketing over time as we discovered what worked and what didn’t. The difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur is that the latter is nimble, willing to adapt and pivot to whatever the business and customers need from them at any given time.

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How do you coach a person who has never touched a brush before into being able to paint an entire portrait in such a short span of time? There are several things that must be considered when creating paintings for our guests. Creating paintings which look challenging and cover a wide variety of subject matter, but that can be broken down into teachable steps and completed in under two hours, is always tricky. Our artists work as a team to bounce ideas off each other and get feedback and suggestions on how to break up a painting into bite-sized pieces that the average person can duplicate, regardless of skill level. I think this team approach is a great way to keep communication open and allows everyone to see what others are working on and come up with inventive ways to make the art pieces not only approachable for our guests but also accomplishable. What is it about these painting parties that people are so drawn to? I think initially, people are drawn to the fun aspect of it all but leave with so much more. We have many repeat customers who return again and again for the whole experience. We

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place an emphasis on the therapeutic benefit and personal empowerment found in creating, something people have left behind in their busy lives. It is so rewarding, for both us and the guests, to watch the transformation of painters from a doubtful and anxious start to a finished product that they are amazed by! After successfully completing a painting that they were convinced they couldn’t do, we ask: “What’s next? What other challenges have you been saying ‘no’ to?” In addition to drawing attention to the achievements of the group, we additionally strive to treat each guest as an individual. We ensure that we offer encouragement and point out some aspect of each person’s painting that is outstanding. People are always so critical of their own work, and it is our job to help them break through that protective wall and recognize what they have accomplished. What advice do you have for someone who thinks they can’t accomplish something they have never done? I think you need to ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” We need to challenge ourselves in order to grow as individuals. So my advice is: just get out there and try something new! You’ll be glad you did!

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WE FEATURE YOU, SO YOU CAN INSPIRE THE WORLD

BECOME PART OF THE TEAM

OUR FIRST GOAL PAY THE COVER ARTISTS! Our first step will be to pay the cover artist! YEAH! OUR SECOND GOAL PAY THE COVER ARTISTS and the 3 Featured Artists!! Wherever you are, Whatever you do, Do it #INSPADES


YAKOVLEVA IRA - @YAKOVLEVAIRA COVER ARTIST OF OUR NUMERO DUE


WE FEATURE YOU, SO YOU CAN INSPIRE THE WORLD

BECOME PART OF THE TEAM OUR FIRST GOAL PAY THE COVER ARTISTS!

We strongly believe that artists should be paid, so we would like to give an honorarium of $500 CAD to the Cover Artists that will be featured, to give them a strong message that we believe in you and we love your work...and by “we” I mean all of us...YOU included!

OUR SECOND GOAL PAY THE COVER ARTISTS and the 3 Featured Artists!! We would like to give an even larger honorarium of $700 CAD to the cover artist, PLUS give 3 Main Featured Artists $500 CAD each!

Giving a leg up to the Little Guys...and the Big Ones! All around the world, there is incredible artistic talent and creative passion that goes unseen or unnoticed. In this digital era, months of work can apex with a few “likes” on Instagram before being lost forever in the vast seas of social media. Many of the up-and-coming artists in our magazine never thought they would make the page of any magazine and are over the moon to be provided a platform of credibility from which they can showcase their work. From talented hobbyists to seasoned professionals, whether they have thousands of followers or none at all, INSPADES Magazine has only a single criterion talent. With in-depth artist and editorial features, incredible visuals and focus on turning everyday artists into superstars and showcasing their work on a global scale, INSPADES Magazine garners an especial esteem and appreciation within art communities all over the world! And now, we want to take it a step further!

Become part of the INSPADES family by checking out our Patreon Rewards page today!


IRINA ROIK - @ROIK_IRINA


Our new and upcoming video community showcases the best artists and creative talents the world has to offer! Tune into the INSPADES YouTube Channel for exclusive inter v iews, behind-the-scene looks and stories about fascinating people and their spectacular creative genius!

We bring the creativity to you!

www.youtube.com/c/Inspadesmagazine

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Benjamin Dakota Rogers - Whisky & Pine “Alternative Folk Powerhouse” Resident Poet Albany pickering - “If I Knew” OUR FANTASTIC ARTISTS! A...

007 INSPADES  

Benjamin Dakota Rogers - Whisky & Pine “Alternative Folk Powerhouse” Resident Poet Albany pickering - “If I Knew” OUR FANTASTIC ARTISTS! A...

Profile for inspades