Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
founder & head of design winnie surya managing editor & communications tiffany lam senior editors savoula stylianou erin holdbeck kaivan adjedani zev citron contributors: boris boitsov, brandon newfield, mike oshell, alec luna, marty hunter, kaleb hart, dan hogan, hayley hasessian, jasmine lee, andrea belanger, daniel hadfield, neil van, chloe hoy cover photo by ben rayner INTO THE CROWD MAGAZINE is a Toronto and US central online music magazine dedicated to showcasing the world of music, media, and pop culture. We cover - but are not limited to - indie rock and electronic music, whether local or international. stay connected. www.intothecrowdmagazine.com www.twitter.com/intothecrowdmag www.facebook.com/intothecrowdmagazine www.instagram.com/intothecrowdmag www.issuu.com/intothecrowd www.youtube.com/user/intothecrowdtv contact: email@example.com 2
what’s inside IN FOCUS: BOSTON CALLING 4 IN FOCUS: GO HARD FESTIVAL 6 IN FOCUS: VELD 8 MEET: MAUS 10 MEET: SHAGABOND 12 MEET: HARRISON 16 SAN FERMIN 18 COVER ARTIST: THE VACCINES 20 IN FOCUS: PANAMANIA 24 SHAMBHALA FESTIVAL 26 IN FOCUS: ELECTRIC ISLAND 1+2+3 28 SYDNEY BLU 30 THOMAS NEWSON 32 BATHS 36 ANTI-FLAG 40 LYDIA 46 IN FOCUS: TIME FESTIVAL 50 LUKE WALLACE 52
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
BOSTON CALLING Boston, MA | By Kaleb Hart
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
GO HARD FESTIVAL Toronto, ON | By Tiffany Lam
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Toronto, ON | By Alec Luna & Neil Van
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
By Kaivan Adjedani. Tell us a bit about how you started. What got you into the music scene, being a DJ, and producing? I started dabbling with the turntables in 1996. I got introduced to the electronic music scene by my boyfriend back then. He got me into the everything from the ambient and minimal techno sounds, trip hop, drum and bass and acid house. Goldieâ€™s first album (Inner City Life) especially caught my attention. I had never heard something that melodic, strong, and soulful yet. I had found my style and from there, refined it. I started to DJ by organizing loft parties and then, promote small nights in local bars. We would play every genre, being firm with refusing to be pigeon hold. Around 1998, I got approached to open for acts such as Gus Gus, Lamb, Roni Size, The Ninja Tune Stealth tour, Amon Tobin, Mobi and even David Bowie. My Drum and Bass sets were recognized over
my techno sets and I followed that road for years, releasing Intersections, a mixed CD compilation that got me touring Europe and North America in 2000. The CD got incredible reviews in music magazines such as XLR8R, URB (2000’s Top 100 DJ list) and CODA. I was always interested in the whole picture instead of just one piece of it. I left the D&B scene to explore more sounds, go back in the techno and house scene. Since then, I’ve been playing here and there and held residencies in Montreal clubs such as Sona, Aria and Stereo where I am still a regular player. I also hold a residency at Salon Dame since 2006. You’re playing an event under the name “No Pants Party: The Revolution”. Can you tell us a bit about this event? Given the idea behind the event is so... interesting, for lack of a better word, is this your first party of this kind or has it drawn influence from past events you’ve attended and/or thrown? I’m not really hosting this party but a good friend introduced me to Carla Tutu from San Francisco. She asked me to play this Burning Man sendoff and monthly party called “No Pants” and it sounded interesting right away. She also holds another monthly party called “Tutu Tuesdays”. Both of these parties attract a very eclectic, fun crowd and have a reputation for being great parties. A good friend of mine and Montreal legend Guillaume Coutu Dumont talked to me about this party before and how much fun he had, so to say I’m excited would be an understatement. I am also playing a 4-hour set so I can’t wait to experience this type of energy. Given how many multiple sounds you’ve played with and mastered, how would you describe the sound of Maus right now? Is there anything at the moment that influences your sound the most? I now mostly play House and Techno. The whole vibe is deep, sexy and always groovy. I am dancer and always pay attention to the dance floor so the groove has to keep my dance floor going. My main influences are Disco, Funk and 70’s Soul music. So being a resident at both Stereo Nightclub and Salon Daome in Montreal, do you play in a different manner depending on which club you’re spinning at? Absolutely. Every place has its own vibe and I prepare
my sets in function of not only the venue but the time I’m playing, even the week day. Every detail counts. But my signature stays the same. Are there any tracks, old or new, that are a MUST play for all, if not most Maus sets? Are you asking for my secret weapons? [laughs] For “ALL”, I have no idea but in my sets, you almost can be sure to hear some Dona Summer songs, lots of Disco gems, 6th Borough Project, The Revenge, Session Victim, Andre Lodemann, Premiesku Jay Sheppard, Boo Williams, Matthew Dekay, David August, a couple of selected favourites from Shonky, Uner, Re.You, Phil Bader, Johnny D and who knows what else... What is the most memorable career moment you’ve had to this date? There are so many beautiful, fun and memorable moments I can recall. I guess all I can say to keep it simple is that, being able to travel to share music is THE most amazing thing. In every trip I do and every gig I play, there’s a special moment. The ultimate pleasure is to be able to transmit exactly what I want to the crowd, feel the connection (as cheezy as this may sound). So anywhere, any place can be very special. But I love travelling so I guess the cherry on top is to be able to create this connection, while I am touring get some extra time to travel and spend time with friends... and it’s been happening many times this summer so I feel very grateful! Finally, tell us what we can be excited about that’s coming up for Maus? I am doing some dates right now on the US West coast. Playing the “No Pants Party” this Thursday August 27th, then Standard’s rooftop party in L.A. on September 3rd. Will check out the area in between, ride the A1 today from LA to SF... I will also be going back home to play my monthly Danse Contact with my favorite NYC crew and good friends, Keep it Movin’ on September 11th. Leaving straight to Dominican Republic on September 12 for a gig at Vibe Club (Punta cana) then back home to work in the studio. October should see me go back to Toronto for more studio work with new partner, Mathew Butterworth and a gig still to be announced. Then, I will spend the winter near Playa del Carmen, in Mexico. Doing my thing and more music.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
SHAGABOND From bedroom disco slow trot to x-rated Galaxy hops shimmer, young producer Shagabond has been making serious waves this summer, gaining respect for his creativity and style from a number of artists at home and abroad. We sat down with Nicholas, mastermind behind Shagabond, after his Tattoo show with Bondax here in Toronto and chatted music, influences, Bondax, university and more. By Tiffany Lam and Jeffrey Yau
What prompted you to make originals first as opposed to bootlegs initially? When I first started music I was super influenced by ethereal R&B stuff like The Weeknd, Zodiac, D’Angelo, people like that – that’s kind of what I want to do. I wanna do behind the scenes action instead of being like a forefront artist, but over time I found it was difficult to find people that I respected and wanted to have on my tracks so I decided just to make songs instead of making just background beats and over time it was just an evolution. I found a type of sound that I liked and it kind of just took off from there. A lot of DJs try and get into the scene through the remix game but I don’t see myself as just somebody who wants to jump into the game doing remixes... I just wanna make something that I personally wanna listen to, something that I think is good enough to be put out in public.
Tell me about your involvement in the Exhume Music Collective. For sure. One day I got an email from a local guy (Toronto) called Adam Bosley - I’m from Waterloo. Basically he said that he was starting this label/ collective, Exhume Music, and he wanted to manage me and he wanted me to do be on it. At the time I didn’t have a steady SoundCloud following or anything going on so I was interested. We ended up meeting at a local Chapters and we had a good conversation - I could tell he was the kind of person I wanted to surround myself with just because he told me a bit about his background in music and that he liked artists like Mount Kimbie and not just artists that were pushing SoundCloud music but like “real stuff” that I genuinely like to listen to all the time. I was like, “this is the guy. He’s going to push me and I’m going to push him”, and that was it. So you mention “real stuff”, can you share a little about your influences? A couple years back I was really into what The Weeknd was doing early on with the mixtapes (House of Balloons, Thursday, Echoes of Silence), that ethereal kind of style. Over time I started looking more and more into instrumental styles of production and came across (and everybody always says this in every interview) Brainfeeder. Brainfeeder puts you on an almost whole new way of thinking of like what music is, and what music can be. I started listening to a lot of Flying Lotus, Bonobo, Lapalux, etc. as soon I was getting into the SoundCloud realm of things. Then obviously Bondax, Darius... Even in Toronto there’s so many good producers like Hamlet, NIGHTIZM, The 25th Hour, Birthday Boy - that whole crew. There’s huge talent in Toronto and I’m blessed to be a part of the scene right now. On that note, do you think you embrace that part of the Canadian/Toronto scene culture. Exhume is listed as based in Toronto but it also says it incorporates music from all over the world. Sure I hope so! To be honest, it amazes me everytime I play a show, like I’m just here to play music. I’ll overhear people in the hallway like “oh yo Shagabond’s set is up next” and in my mind I’m just like “how do you know about me?!” It just feels weird that people know an alias of me without knowing anything about me, who I am, or an alias of me. They just know what I’m presenting to them on SoundCloud so it’s kind of phenomenal to have people backing you so I hope I’m making some sort of impact. How did the whole Bondax thing come about?
You mentioned earlier something about sending them a demo...? Yeah! Okay, so this is around the time I had first switched from using Logic Pro as my main DAW to Ableton Live and I had a summer where I was just making music everyday all the time and I finally found out ways to do things the way I wanted to make them sound; it was like a huge transitional phase. I made this song called Corral Soup (it was like a one night thing). It was just the weirdest thing; I was in my room drinking a Pear Martini and I was feeling pretty nice, and I had machine open and my keyboard and I loaded up my drums, and so that was it. I sent it to Soulection, Bondax, basically everyone and two weeks later they (Bondax) responded and they were like “we love this track!” So they put it on their compilation album - which I was floored to be on - and then in October (2014), we played here and I was in this room with them while Pomo was playing upstairs and we were having this serious, deep conversation. I asked them (Bondax) why they picked my song since they probably got thousands of emails... and they told me this story about how they were in a cab together in London and their friends were asking them if they got a lot of emails about music. Bondax was like “yeah, but basically all of it is shit, just kids playing around doing nothing” and so what happened was that my song just happened to be the first email so they were just like “check this out, I bet it is rubbish” so they played it… and loved it! They contacted me a few hours after but yeah, it was just the craziest coincidence and since then it’s just changed my life... That one moment that they decided to check out my SoundCloud page. You mentioned too that you first found out through social media? Yeah! They actually posted my track on their Facebook the next day and I didn’t even know. I have this SoundCloud friend called Rmyssn - he messaged me on Facebook and was like “did you just see this? They posted it on their Facebook page!” I was coming home from school when I saw and I almost passed out in my kitchen... I was freaking out and my mom thought I had a heart attack. …and from there it began and I’m sure you got a decent amount of followers? Yeah, people started checking it out and listening and I became a junkie just non-stop checking my Facebook and SoundCloud pages to see if people were listening to stuff. That was the spark and since then it’s given me the chance to upload stuff and people will actually listen to it without waiting months and months at a time for it to pick-up.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
That’s crazy insane. Tell me about Galaxy Hop and what that means to me. This is also a funny story. We were watching our The Superbowl and there was this commercial for ‘New Galaxy Hops Beer’ and I was like “woooaaah that sounds sick I’m totally taking this”, if the beer company sues me one day I’ll drop it and change it to like cosmic hop maybe!
branding. Do you have one thing that you think is “your brand” right now? For people who know a little about music, the eighth notes I guess - almost every track I do has an eighth note synth in the background. Every synth patch is self-designed, I don’t use any presets so I guess that’s another trademark because nobody is going to sound like you if you make them yourself.
Your Twitter handle used to be ThePurpleKid. What was the story behind that? I was going through a really awkward phase in my life... yeah let’s just say that southern hip hop was a massive influence so I was listening to a lot of that at the time. If you guys know Southern hip hop at all, it’s about drinking lean and purple sprite and I was just like “okay yo so I’m dat purple kid holla at me yo” and it was just kind of a thing that stuck. But yeah I finally changed it back to @Shagabond so go ahead and follow me already if you haven’t!
So your sound’s been described as mature but you’re only 18. How long ago did you start producing and how did you get into it? Basically I was in grade 8/9 and my brother came out of nowhere with his friend and they were like “we’re gonna be producers!” So my mom bought him a minikeyboard. It didn’t really work out for him and I was in a band at this time so I started messing with the keyboard and Garage Band as a tool for live expression. I found out I could make full songs with loops and all that, and at the time I was into alternative rock. And then I just started to get into deep house and dance music when I was in Grad 9 (14). The EDM wave was just starting up, Avicii had just come out and all those guys and I thought to myself “oh man it’d be so cool if I could just do that” and yeah, I just started trying to make EDM music which to be honest I’m not a big fan of it as it’s gotten kinda mediocre. At the time though, I was super into it and I was just getting more and more into electronic music and the path just leads to another path, and another, and then you’re just deep into subgenres before you find something you really love and wanna be a part of.
Besides all the Bondax stuff, what’s been your favourite memory so far? I played a show at Montreal at this club called Apartment 200 with this guy Da-P - he’s actually the only Canadian Soulection artist and coincidentally he’s actually in town tonight - and so I was sitting there about to play... This is 2am, club is packed everybody is dancing and I just had this moment where I almost started to cry where I was like “fuck I always wanted to do this I can’t believe this is actually happening.” It’s pretty difficult to understand everything happening because it wasn’t long ago that I was just sitting in my room wondering why I hadn’t blown up yet or pondering thoughts about how I had to do this. But I mean it’s all luck; you can have all the talent in the world but never blow up... it’s all a coincidence that everything works out. Who would you say is your favourite artist/ producer at the moment? Tennyson - they blew me away live. The Code is by far the best for aesthetics and polished sound - I was actually watching their vinyl debut video today and I was trying to come up with a quote that matched what I was seeing and it was something like, “at the pinnacle of complexity is the relevance of simplicity.” You realize just how important it is to be clean, polished. Nobody has that! Everybody on SoundCloud is just trying to be as complicated as they can and show off, but it’s the people who are simple and have the vision of where they wanna go that can make it happen. A lot of the times becoming an artist is about
What are you most excited for this coming year? EP release! I’m aiming for the fall, but you can never be sure. I’ll have this entire summer to work with so that’ll be good. There are some sick collabs in the making but I really can’t tell you who is going to be on the tape. I’m collaborating with an artist that I’ve been friends with for a long time and he’s doing all the artwork for it, so that’ll be sweet. You’re starting university! How’s that going to work with your schedule? I’m skeptical but since I was a kid, it’s always been implanted into my mind, but I mean, I’m here now and I’m in... But getting into university was one of the most stressful things. I’ll probably have to go easy on the course load so I can focus on the music. It’ll definitely be interesting because I don’t think a lot of people are accustomed to the scene or any of the music that I do so it’ll be weird to find people that are likeminded. I’ll be studying cognitive science at U of T.
synth patch is
self-designed, I don’t use
any presets so I guess
that’s another trademark
because nobody is going
to sound like you if you
make them yourself.”
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
HARRISON In two short years, this prodigious Toronto producer has gone from teenage bedroom beatmaker showcasing his homemade, sample-savvy wares on Soundcloud to hotly tipped studio savant positioned at the frontlines of the cityâ€™s R&B renaissance. Into The Crowd managed to steal a little time away from him and his busy day at Bestival to discuss his recent Colors EP, some influences, the flavour of love and more. By Tiffany Lam
Hey Harrison, can you start off my introducing a little bit about yourself? Hi I’m Harry. My real name’s Harrison but people call me Harry. I’m 19, I’m a producer and songwriter from Toronto. Is this your first festival? I heard you were here yesterday, who’d you check out? Anyone you’re excited for today? This is my first festival! It’s pretty cool. It was definitely a great way to - as my manager so eloquently put pop the cherry of festivals. I played really early but I got to sort of feel the vibe. I guess you went in with a bang with all the VICE interview stuff happening too, eh? Yeah. I’m gonna be sticking around to do more of that stuff today, but on my time off I’ll probably be... drinking excessively [laughs], I gotta catch Cashmere Cat. I gotta catch him every time. And NAS, wtf. You released your debut EP Colors via Last Gang earlier this year. Can you share with us a little bit about the process and making of that? It was like having a kid, watching the kid grow up and letting it go off to college. We’re gonna say “it”, because it can be a he or she; we don’t know yet [laughs]. But yeah it was great, it was a lot of fun. I was in such a great place when I was making that and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m really happy. So for the album, I hope it turns out exactly how it’s turning out, which is the opposite of the EP so we’ll see how that goes. Maddee was great, she knows how to write songs very well; it was a blast. I heard about your past Missing Hito side project, and I won’t ask to get into deep details about that but are there any other side projects you’re working on? I got like 16 different ones [laughs]. That one was the most important one and I actually went back to it. I put out a song 2-3 weeks ago, I don’t know, I think I just needed time to step away from the idea of it and put my head into the more creative part... Focus on the actual project itself and not any meanings.
You’re playing with Willow Smith on Friday... That’s pretty freaking cool. Are you excited? Oh man, I almost forgot about that! I’m so stoked... I’m so stoked. What. And then the NXNE block party. That’s going to be fun too. Harry’s first set on CDJs... Let’s see how that goes. Oh god, I’m stoked for both. So much fun and summer jams. Where do you draw your influences from? All over the place. Recently it’s been nature, and I know that sounds cheesy - the thing is I hate camping, I hate long obnoxious walks in the forest, but I’m really into urban cityscape walks like back alleys in Toronto and stuff. Quiet background noise in downtown Toronto. I’ll record off my phone a bunch and just put that into songs; the whole album’s really focused on that. Funk of course too; my parents were really into that so I had a big collection of vinyls from the 80s. And females! Gotta drive some inspiration from females and relationships and whatever teenage stuff you go through. I’m going to be 20 soon... Getting there. The other day my mom was like, “Twenty: huge deal, be scared!” If you weren’t pursuing music today, what do you think you’d be doing today? Voice acting for sure. For sure. I’ve sort of stepped into it but we’ll see what happens. I’ll talk to you guys about that later List 4 things you could not live without. Dog, piano, cigarettes... And love. I couldn’t live without love, no one could. Sorry, that was super cheesy [laughs]. Any music guilty pleasures? Music guilty pleasures? Ooh. You know what I was listening to the other day? “Shake it”... by I have no idea who. It goes “shake, shake, shake shake sha-shake it” Metro Station? YES. That song bumps. I love that song. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry is another good one, but that’s not even guilty.
“I was in such a great place when I was making that and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m really happy.” - Harrison on Colors EP 17
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
CATCHING UP WITH
American baroque pop-rock band San Fermin, started
songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone, make in Toronto for an exclusive NXNE showcase at Adelaide Hall. We sat down with bandleader Ludwig-Leone before the show to chat about touring, the band itself and sophomore album Jackrabbit.
Hi Ellis, can you start off by telling us a bit about you and San Fermin. I’m Ellis and I’m the keyboard player and songwriter for San Fermin. I started the band 2 years ago and basically we’re an eight piece band. I write the tunes and one by one we learn them. Wow, eight people in a band is a quite a lot. You guys are playing on such a tiny showcase stage tonight too... Does that tight stage space happen a lot? Every now and then, at festival things like this. And when it does I mean, it’s kind of nice. Our first tour was like that for sure. It’s nice to be close to the other instruments, even though that sounds kind of weird. I feel like we play tighter when we’re like this rather than when we’re on a wider stage because it’s harder to hear. Ever feel claustrophobic? I’m always a little claustrophobic on stage, just because I’m behind my keyboard and there’s often a speaker behind. But it’s nice to play having everyone close. We spend a lot of time in the tour bus together and THAT gets claustrophobic [laughs]. It’s nice to tour as eight though because there’s always someone
By Tiffany Lam
to talk to. It’s a size where everyone looks after each other but we don’t get sick of each other. It’s a real consideration when we’re talking about tours lasting two months. If we had to tour as a 3 person band, I think I would lose my mind a little bit. For sure. And so I heard it all kind of started right here in Canada in Banff after you graduated from Yale in classical music, and that was where you were able to nearly write the entire first album. Yeah when I was a kid, my mom went to Banff. I visited her when I was like 10 and it was super cool to see her there; she’s a painter. So when I graduated school, I needed somewhere to go get away from my life and write a little bit... That was my first idea and luckily it paned out. The record basically came pretty quickly when I was there. Have you contemplated going back for either more inspiration or even just pleasure? Oh I would definitely go back. It’s just that my schedule now is such that it gets a little hard to block out that kind of time. Where was Jackrabbit written?
The first half of the record, I went to a slightly more accessible place - I went to New Hampshire and did some writing there. But then I sort of finished it when I came back, some of it I wrote on the road and that was definitely a very different experience because I had the band there as we were touring, so I was really writing FOR the band. Your music is very intricate, complex and grand evocative and epic. It’s very orchestral. What are some progressions from the self titled to the recently released sophomore Jackrabbit? I think it got a little bit more focused on the live show. It turned from a thing I didn’t know who would be playing the songs [for] the band... To writing this new album and these new songs where I would be imagining them. In doing that, I think I definitely made the songs more suited to them and probably more suited just to the live show in general. There’s a lot of moments where I knew would do well live if I wrote it this certain way. So essentially more consideration put into it from experience over the last years with San Fermin. What has been the most challenging thing for SF so far and how did you guys overcome it? A big hurdle was when we got all our stuff stolen when we were on our first tour. It was terrible. Basically we had no money, we weren’t making money from shows and we lost 20,000$ in equipment. Someone blowtorched our trailer - which is crazy and actually a pretty impressive effort - but we lost everything. That was tough. Luckily our fans came through a little bit and helped fund some stuff
which is amazing and then luckily we had enough shows that we were able to pay off the rest of it. That definitely set us back. It was a real effort to come back from that. I guess now you guys probably really careful with how you guys store your stuff. Yeah we are. We never leave anything out. And the thing is we were only there for a couple hours... but you just never know. In contrast, what has been one of your greatest pleasures thus far in San Fermin? I think the best thing is the feeling of knowing you came up with something, started it, and then suddenly people care about it. Then you’re sharing it with not only fans but this group of band members who occupy this funny place somewhere between friends and family - it’s this weird sort of bond. And you go from these songs meaning something to you to these songs meaning something to them, and not to sound corny but there’s definitely something magical about that. Any significant tour memories? It all blends together a little bit. When I thought about touring, I thought it would be going around everywhere, seeing places, experiencing them... but it’s really in and out because just the nature of touring. Every now and then when we get to stay in a place for a minute, it’s a really great memory. We stayed in Iceland for four days, had a really great time, same for Italy - really amazing experience there in Ferrara. Basically any time we have a day, it’s awesome. We all really like each other it’s
just we’re always scheduled on tour. Anywhere you’d like to go on tour? Yeah I’d love to go to Australia we’ve been talking about it for a while, it’s just a matter of making sure it makes sense financially. That’ll probably happen sometime in the next year and it’ll be really fun. Any side jobs coming out of school or did you just jump right into this project? How did you financially fund yourself to make San Fermin happen? Right when I graduated from Yale, I got a part time job as a musical assistant to a composer named Nico Muhly - he does a lot of cool stuff and has been a very important person in my life. He’s a classic pianist but also does arrangements. I worked with him for about two years snd that helped with the transition. What’s one song you wish you wrote? “Graceland” by Paul Simon. It’s super considering of his amazing songwriting and sounds are great, but it’s also kind of understated and not over built. I feel like I always add, so it’s cool to see something that’s so confident What’s next for you and San Fermin? We have festivals all summer and then we do this tour with Alt-J and then we do some headline stuff! We’ll be playing stadiums too; I don’t think I’ve ever played in a stadium so that’ll be quite a phenomenon.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
THE VACCINES are back with their third studio album, and it’s given us a reason to be very,
very excited. The album English Graffiti contains the old Vaccines sound that we love, with
earworms like “Handsome” and “20/20”. On the other hand, songs like “Dream Lover” and “(All
Afternoon) In Love” take on a slower pace, but
don’t lose the enrapturing effect that makes The Vaccines’ music so effective. Before their show at The Opera House, we caught up with lead
singer Justin Hayward-Young and bassist Arni Arnason in their tour bus to talk about English Graffiti, their dream lovers, and the theme of having love and love lost.
By Jasmine Lee. Live photos by Winnie Surya Did your new album English Graffiti turn out the way you first envisioned? If not, why? Justin: I don’t think we really had anything like set. I think all we knew was that we were going to do something different and we didn’t know what that was going to be or how we were going to get there. So I don’t think we actually had anything in mind when we set out to do anything, and I actually think ironically it probably ended up different than what we expected it to but probably more like Vaccines of all… I don’t know, it was an eighteen month [to] two year period where everything was wide open so I don’t think any of us had any sort of expectations or plans, just everything went, didn’t it? Were there any specific struggles you dealt with when writing and recording this album. If so, how did you overcome these barriers? Justin: I think we were trying a lot of stuff for the first time, so like you ultimately come across the odd hurdle. But I think being challenged is sort of what – you kind of thrive on that. There was definitely like I think for a long period of time we were so set on trying to do something different like we would start with a new production idea or like an interesting drum beat, or weird sound, and we perhaps didn’t actually focus as much on the song writing. I think the heart of what The Vaccines do [is] this simple good, old-fashioned sounding pop songs. So I think it took us a year or so to come full circle and realize we could do anything we wanted to do but we had to start with a song first. That’s not how all bands work but it works for us. Have you changed the way you wrote and recorded this album in comparison to the past ones? Justin: Well we just tried everything, didn’t we? Arni: Everything up until this point has been pretty much sort of, as [Justin] has millions of times, like [being] at the end of a bed with an acoustic guitar type of mentality, and everything that comes after that is just sort of an extra. And we always basically tried to stay out of the way of a song – there’s no instrumental hooks or anything that does detract from the main course of the song and that’s not the case anymore. Now basically you name a thing and we try it… When it came to the production of the album a lot of it was actually down to taking things away rather than adding things, because we just got everything… What works, what doesn’t?
What have been the hardest parts of this tour and what has helped you handle it? Justin: We’ve been away from home for the last seven weeks; we’ve been in five continents in eight days like Japan, Australia, Mexico, the UK, Europe, North America. It can get intense; you’re living in a small, confined environment so it gets hard, it takes a toll on your body and emotionally as well. But well I think we are a strong group of – well we’re a family really. Whenever you’re down you can kind of lean on the support of others. Arni: On the more positive side, we’ve done this for years now and we’ve learned how to take care of ourselves. Justin: Also playing shows really…that’s so fun. Arni: That’s the reason why we do it. For the next album, do you see yourselves starting again with experimenting with everything stylistically, or do you see yourself starting on a more focused path? Justin: I think it’s important to build on what you already have and what you already do or else you’re not going to have an identity. But I don’t know, we’ve only really just started thinking about LP four, and we just want to make a great record – a better record than the third – which is better than the second which was better than the first one. We have been hypothesizing slightly but nothing is really set in stone yet. How did the concept for your album cover come about? Justin: We wanted to be on the front cover. We’ve never been on the cover and we wanted to put ourselves on it this time. Arni: Which is brave. Justin: And we wanted Jesse Jenkins, who we’ve done lots of videos with and shot loads of photos with before. It sort of happened accidentally; there were a bunch of cool sweater records and stuff that looked like the images of the people had been cut out and put onto these kind of like blank canvases essentially. We went and took a bunch of photos in front of this red background – I guess we chose red because we’d seen a bunch of records that look kind of cool. And yeah we just spent the day fucking around and that one picture was actually the test Polaroid, so it wasn’t supposed to be the photo. But after six hours of photos the first one that was taken was the best one.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
The Vaccines music videos have always been very creative and I can see the effort that goes into their production. How do the ideas for the videos come together? Justin: It’s always collaborative. I mean from this record it’s definitely come from us, the idea of kind of a – you know – making these homages to cinema and different periods and genres of cinema, just because I think there’s that aspirational quality to cinema and this otherworldly escapism. But also everything we’ve chosen is quite tongue in cheek, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think hopefully it’s to some degree an embodiment of our music really. What was the inspiration for the distinct Asian theme in your music video for “Handsome”? Justin: It’s supposed to be a Hong Kong kung fu movie and it originally did come from a Japanese idea, but it switched to a sort of ode to Hong Kong kung fu. But I don’t know, I just wanted that silly escapism – Arni: We were in New York and we wanted to be in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Vaccines are well known for their catchy songs, but after the first album what made you go down the route of exploring slower tunes? Justin: Well I think you just choose the best songs, your favourite songs. I think like, no one ever wants to write the same songs over and over again. I think it’s important to have an identity, but we’ve always been a songs-based band, so we’ve always just chosen our favourite songs really. I think that when we made the first record most of them happen to be three chord pop songs, but not all of them [like] All In White – Arni: There seems to be this perception of us that’s like of a total in your face punk band, but I don’t think there’s ever really been like high-octane three chord pop-punk songs. There have only ever been like three in every album. Justin: Well we just play them all live that’s why. For the music video for “Dream Lover”, how was the production process of that and did it in any way
connect to the song? Justin: No, again, we just wanted to create a period of cinema that we love which was – Arni: Shitty sci-fi – Justin: And retro-futurism kind of stuff. Shitty sci-fi and we just wanted to shoot up some bad guys and [be] silly…It was an opportunity for us to dress up and be in a film. In the song “20/20”, not only does it have a catchy vibe but it also carries this message saying you don’t want to think of someone anymore. Was there a story behind it that inspired the making of the song? Justin: Yeah of course, always but the whole record is, I think, one in the context of love and love lost. And I think that’s probably, you know, the redemption song on the record. Can you elaborate on the theme of love and love lost in this album? Justin: It’s about the difficulty in, I think, our generation at connecting with people and the misconnection and disconnection. I, like anybody else, fall in love with people and like anybody else can have my heart broken. So we wrote it over a two year period, so it was a whole journey really, and “20/20” was written towards the end of that journey and certain songs – well I don’t need to tell you which ones – were written earlier on in that journey. But I mean, you know with any song people can take what they want from it so I don’t want to describe it too literally otherwise it would probably becomes quite alienating. Who are your dream lovers? Justin: My dream lover…hmm… ITC: Not Amanda Norgaard? Justin: No, definitely not Amanda Norgaard. Arni: I’ve been in a relationship so I can’t answer that question. Justin: Well you can [laughs] Arni: Yeah, my girlfriend for five years. Justin: And mine would be the subject of the song, wouldn’t it? But I’m not telling you who that is [laughs].
â€œ... the whole record is, I think, one in the context of love and love lost.â€? - Justin Hayward-Young
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
PANAMANIA Toronto, ON | By Neil Van
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
CAN A MUSIC FESTIVAL CHANGE YOUR LIFE? I WENT TO SHAMBHALA TO FIND OUT
By Erin Holdbeck. Photo by Leah Gair It is never easy to find the words to describe my experiences at Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo River Ranch, BC. Even after two weeks back in the “real world”, I have a hard time coming up with a concise answer when my friends ask me what I thought about this year’s event. It’s not a simply task to put five sleepless days and nights spent throwing down in the Fractal Forest, lounging by the river, and forming lifelong connections down on paper. Even the umbrella term “life-changing” doesn’t begin to cover this one-of-
a-kind festival. This was the second year I made the daylong trek from Toronto to Salmo, BC. My first year attending was due to an impulse ticket purchase made at 4am after having been invited by someone I barely knew. To this day, it was the best decision I have ever made. Despite my previous experience, I was no more prepared for what I would witness walking through the gates Thursday night as a I was the first time around. The grounds had come to life as lasers flashed, hoops twirled, and a crowd full of onesies ran by. As I was greeted with a mix of hip hop and house pouring from The Amphitheatre and someone in a bee costume holding a sign reading “Just BEE Yourself!” I knew I was truly welcomed home. Shambhala’s unique experience can be traced to its beginning in 1998 when it started as a familyrun event. Now celebrating its 18th consecutive year in operation, it has become one of the longest running festivals in Canada. The event is still completely run by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. They have also never accepted corporate sponsorship, leaving organizers with full creative control. The festival is currently home to six uniquely themed stages and hosts over 10,000 attendees, who also camp on the ground, for five days and four nights. Without a doubt, the people at Shambhala are fully responsible for making it the incredible experience that it is. This includes the volunteers, organizers, security, and, of course, the festival go-ers. I have yet to come across another crowd where everyone in attendance is there truly for the love of music, dance, and positive human connection. By Saturday
night, I had been handed more lollipops, stickers, and glow sticks than I could count and had received even more hi-fives and hugs. The dance floor at Shambhala is the most judgement-free and accepting place I have ever experienced. Until you have taken a moment to appreciate the Fractal Forest after 3am, when things are in full swing and everywhere you look from the concession stand to the tree tops there are swinging hips and smiling faces, you can’t truly understand how special this festival is. Much of the positivity and kindness between the people at the ranch is amplified through Shambhala’s harm reduction measures. Alcohol is not permitted on the grounds nor is it sold there. This rare measure aims to eliminate the issues relate to drinking from unwanted physical and sexual aggression to accidental personal injury. The festival is also known for its unique and progressive approach to drug use. Offering free and nonjudgemental drug testing has been a staple at the festival for years. “Camp Clean Beats” even offers a drug-free campsite complete with counselling and support for those who wish to attend but are battling addiction. Drug culture has gone hand in hand with music festivals for decades. By accepting the reality of drug use at festivals, these harm prevention techniques seem to be working as the festival has only reported one drug-related death in its 18 years of operation. As amazing as the line-ups, sound quality, and production are each year it is easy to forget that this is still a “music” festival and not just a giant adult playground. The six unique stages feature genres
ranging from drum and bass to funk to trap to house and much more. This year’s line-up included returning Shambhala veterans Pretty Lights, Skrillex, and Excision as well as heavyweight headliners Kygo, Claude Vonstroke and Bonobo. As always, local legends Neon Steve, The Funk Hunters, Skiitour, and many more drew nearly as large of a crowd as the international names. Regardless of your preferred genre, there is no doubt that you will find a set to dance to at any hour of the day. It was 5am on Monday morning when I was barely able to lift my legs that I finally called it quits. As Mat the Alien and The Librarian closed out a perfect end-of-Shambhala set at the Pagota stage, my friends – who had been strangers only days before – started our long walk back to our camp, Camp Lovemore. In the afterglow of such a magical 5-days, it is easy to forget that there is a real world outside of Shambhala. While people here are riding swans down the river and dancing in a forest dressed as chickens, there are people waking up to go return to their 9-5 office jobs. Many festivalgoers would be returning to similar obligations in the coming day. However, you would be hard pressed to find anyone claiming they were returning as the same person who had arrived at the gates only days before. It is impossible to leave a place of such positivity, love, and acceptance and not bring the experiences and lessons learned on the ranch into your everyday existence. Is it possible for a music festival to change your life? For me the answer is a resounding “Yes” but you will have to buy your ticket to Shambhala 2016 and find out yourself.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
ELECTRIC ISLAND Toronto Island, ON | By Alec Luna & Tiffany Lam
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
SYDNEY BLU: “RELENTLESS” 30
By Kaivan Adjedani and Erin Holdbeck. “Relentless is me to a T, which is exactly why I called the album that. It is my relentless drive to not stop loving and making music my career, because it is an exhausting journey for sure but I have literally been doing this for fifteen years now, so that’s relentlessness.” Sydney Blu remarks from the rooftop patio of the Thompson Hotel in Toronto, hours before she gives a room full of excited guests an exclusive first listen at her debut album. After a lengthy music career that most could only dream of achieving, Sydney Blu decided to return to her roots rather than chase fame and fortune. “Relentless” is not a word used to describe pleasant experiences. The heat of a desert is relentless, and the word is often used as a synonym for harsh, unforgiving, and sometimes even cruel. But there is no better word to describe the gruelling two-year experience of producing an album that is authentic and true, not cliche and commercial. While many producers today decide to sell out producing catchy and repetitive EDM tracks, Sydney Blu took the opposite route, staying true to her sound and her passion for music. “I don’t want to be swept up into the dance music craze like everyone else is. Everyone is changing their sound to fit a bottle service crowd and that’s not what I want to do. So I went back to my roots. My roots are from the Toronto underground, and I want to stick with them.” Sydney references the opening track “What’s Inside”, as an accurate representation of the journey to the final product of the album. “It’s a really cool sampling kind of track that I did that is very reflective of wanting to look at
yourself and that’s been my life for the last two years. I changed my style of music two years ago, and because of the fact that I did some kind of a reflective thing about what’s been happening with my music, I kind of wrote a song about it. And I feel like every song on the album has something to do with being authentic, being real, and being myself; and that’s exactly who I am. I try to be myself all the time.” Sydney Blu’s musical transformation is most prevalent on songs like “It Doesn’t Matter” and “My Neighbors Hate Me”. Replicating and rivalling tracks on the decks in underground Chicago and Detroit clubs, this album was not meant to be mindlessly blasted for a room of three thousand fist-pumping and neon clad ravers. “I like house music and I come from Toronto, which is a city that was very influenced from Chicago, where house music comes from. Learning so much about that in my early years as somebody in electronic music it was really important to me to go back to my roots, and that’s really where it all came from.” While she cited her influences for her sound in the production booth, Sydney also touched on how her hometown Toronto has helped her on an international scale, more specifically when behind the turntables. “It’s really important to use what I’ve learned here in the outside world. Because here, it is extremely important that you are a good DJ if you want to play amongst the DJs here. The DJ’s in Toronto are really really good, and they push me. I’m so grateful for them being hard on me and pushing me because it made me the DJ that I am. This definitely has helped me on the worldwide stage because I go out and people are
like ‘shit she knows how to spin’, and I’m like ‘yeah because I come from Toronto and you have to know how to spin!’. If you want to play in a club in Toronto you gotta know what you’re doing.” Her relationship with Toronto, consists of both give and take. While the city has been a key component in developing her abilities as a DJ and sound as a producer, Sydney Blu has yet to abandon the city for her international acclaim. Instead, every year Sydney Blu throws one of the most anticipated parties on her own stage at the Toronto Pride Festival. “I remember the first time we went to pride I was like ‘Oh My God, this is amazing; I want to be a part of this’, and now I’m curating my own stage which is amazing. It’s been a long journey”, she remarks. The star’s commitment and devotion to Toronto Pride is clearly not a publicity tactic, but rather a genuine appreciation and enjoyment for the event. “I’ve been playing for ten years now and it’s really awesome that I am able to continue to do Pride every year. Every Friday at the beginning I basically launch it. It’s great, it’s very cool, I’m always very excited.” Overall Relentless is a solid album filled with proper tech house beats that belong in any internationally acclaimed club. But when you put in perspective Sydney Blu’s transformation as an artist, her fearlessness in returning to her roots, and the two years she spent making this album; you truly realize that Relentless is a musical composition that will not be replicated anytime soon. Upon seeing the final result from all the blood, sweat, and tears; we too like Sydney Blu, strive to be relentless. Relentless is out now on Beatport and iTunes.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Recently, Into The Crowd had the opportunity to sit
down with 21-year-old Dutch DJ Thomas Newson prior to his Toronto show at Uniun Nightclub. The young producer shares with us his story, the evolution of his sound over the years, new tracks to be released and more.
By Tiffany Lam.
You’re 21 years old now, still pretty young, but have been making music for quite some time now. Can you tell us a little more about your background with regards to music and how you started out? I started making music when I was 16 years old on Logic Pro. Then I started spinning and then soon I had “Flute”. Then I signed a contract with a booking agency and started touring last year. I just made music as a hobby and “Flute” did pretty well on Beatport, got picked up by radio stations in Holland. It all kept getting bigger and I was just like, woah. I noticed your sound had kind of changed from 2013/2014 to now, from “Flute” and “Pallaroid” to “Summer Vibes” and “Together”. Is this the new sound direction you’re heading in? I’m still doing hard-hitting things but yeah, the new release “Summer Vibes” is very different. I always wanted to try some new things and I think I did a great job with summer vibes. It’s a lot more different than what I usually do. And yeah the new track with my dad, “Together”, is also more in that vibe too. Sometimes I’m doing progressive stuff, sometimes I’m doing the harder stuff.
You have songs on Armada Music, Revealed Recordings, Spinnin’ Records and more. Is there a reason why some songs are particularly on some labels or was it just totally random? Nope not really, it was just random. I just want to release everything on the big platforms. Seeing as you’re so young, do you ever feel like you’re growing up too fast or not yet? I think I’m growing steadily, not too fast, not too slow. What does your dad think about you pursing this career? I think he’s proud, I hope [laughs]. Where do you see yourself in the next few years? Hopefully playing and headlining bigger shows. We’ll see! What has been your craziest experience so far? Both times when I’ve played Tomorrowland. So you’ve gotten pretty used to playing shows now and for massive crowds, festivals like Tomorrowland... Is there anything that still makes
you nervous? Flying from place to place. I’m really scared of flying. There’s so much buzz about DJs these days and people especially love to gossip or fan over European progressive house artists I find. Have there been any misconceptions, false rumours or weird encounters? Hmm... I don’t think so. Oh yeah, people thought I was a ghost producer because my dad is already a known DJ so they were saying he made my music. That was due to a Twitter group called the “FBIA” and they consider themselves like the “fake producers intelligence agency” and they would hunt people. They really focused [on me] and so we did a live studio session and then the allegations dropped. What’s one song you wish you wrote / produced? I really like Calvin Harris’ stuff. He’s really good. Any music guilty pleasures? No not that much, most of the time I listen to techno or hip hop so I don’t think I really have any music guilty pleasure.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Current favourite possibly underrated artist? Moksi’s a good one. It’s two guys. I really like them. Biggest fear in general? Flying. During the Asia tour in April, I had a really bad flight Bangkok to Phuket. We were flying in a thunder storm and ever since I’ve had trouble flying. Name one thing on your bucket list that you want to accomplish in the next year or so (personal or career wise). Play main stage at Tomorrowland or Have a spot in DJ Mag. Which do you prefer: Festivals or smaller club shows? Festivals. Do you craft festival sets differently than club show sets? Yeah when I play a festival set, it’s usually more bangers and shorter times than in a club. What are your favourite tracks to play in a set right now? Of course my new track with my dad called Together, and Summer Vibes. Some other tracks. What are you most excited for in the next few months or year? I’m doing an Asia tour with the whole Revealed team and I’m really excited about that. I think we’re doing 10 shows in 2 weeks or something like that. I’m really excited. And lastly, what can we expect more from you within the next few months to a year? I signed about 10 tracks already. “Summer Vibes” just came out last month and then “Vandals” with Sandro Silva and then after, the track with my dad, “Together”, is coming out later in September. I’m really excited.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Back in June, we chatted with California based
producer Will Wiesenfeld of Baths prior to his NXNE showcase and discussed producing
struggles, video games and collaborating
with beloved Canadian producer with Ryan
Photos and Interview by Winnie Surya Since you’re not touring or anything, did you fly out here just for this showcase? Yeah, we’re spending three days here just hanging out and stuff. Are you planning to check out any other NXNE showcases while you’re here? We’re going to try to see Health, but we might also be doing a DJ afterparty at the same time so we might not make it. The band No Joy is a friends of ours so we’re going to check them out. You haven’t release an album since Obsidian in 2013. Any plans to release a new album soon? Yeah, we are working on something right now, but the timing depends on how things go when we’re finished with it. It’s still going to be another 6 or 8 months after we’re done for it to come out, so 2016 maybe. Is this upcoming album going to sound particularly different than your previous ones? I think so. It’s going to be more dance-y and brighter and pop-ier, but not like “Cerulean”. It’s kind of hard to explain but it’s going to be really fun, [laughs] that’s all I know. What’s the toughest part when it comes to producing? That’s an interesting question! I think its striking to balance between all the things and it’s like, you can make a great drum part or a great bass line or great vocal or great lyrics... any of those things you can hit really magically, but getting everything to work together at the same time – which I guess a lot to do with mixing – that can be really hard. It can take a long time and you can second guess yourself super easily; I would work on one song for a really long time and just hate the way it sounds. All the parts were right and I know they’re right, but it just doesn’t feel right on my ears so I have to work on it for a lot longer. It’s the thing that takes the longest. Is it because you listen to it again and again on repeat and you started to get sick of it? Yeah, totally actually! That’s actually a test for me whether I should use a song or not; it’s like the test of time. If I could listen to it a hundred times and still enjoy it, basically it’s worth putting on a record.
You have to listen to it a thousand times, like the songs from “Cerulean” – playing it as much as we have, I probably heard each of those songs almost a thousand times – making them, touring them, and hearing them in different contexts; it’s insane. I’m very done with that record and I’m very excited to work on new stuff. It’s pretty cool that you write, produce and sing on your own tracks! I don’t think that’s the common majority among electronic artists these days. I’m glad you think so! From the beginning I always wanted to do all the things. I didn’t actually know what a producer was until much later. I was making the electronic stuff and lyrics and singing and guitar and piano all at once, and I thought that was how people did it. I literally didn’t understand that in pop music, it was like a person and the other people who work with them and make all of their shit all the time. Or I was just slower to realizing that. I was very naive starting out but it works to my own benefit because in my head, I had to do everything. I don’t have to rely on the others. So you took the one man show path? Yeah, I thought everybody was doing that so that’s why it happened. Had I known, it would’ve been so much easier for the most part. I would probably would’ve slowed way down for a bit. You’ve collaborated with well-acclaimed Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth before for “Still Cold”? planning to do any more work with him in the future? I don’t know. It was fun, certainly. It’s always fun to work with other people but I’m much slower doing that because I like making my own shit way more. Collaboration is fun but it’s not my realm of music making. It’s not my most comfortable and most exciting or most liberating field; it’s just a fun exercise for me. I enjoy it and there might be more in the future but I’m way more excited to work with my own record. That’s where my heart is 100% at and where it’s going to be at. Some of your music has unique sounds reminding me of video game music. Where do you pull influences and inspirations from? Probably a lot of video games. I like video games a lot, but I can’t help getting inspired by all of the different
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22 things in the world. I watch a lot of anime and play a lot video games and watch a ton of movies and TV but yeah, I can’t help being inspired by those, whether it’s to my music or not. So speaking of anime and video games, what are some of your favourites? Probably Evangelion, just because the weight of it. It’s just so unique and bizarre but I love different things for different reasons. That’s a good one to start with. Silent Hill 2 is probably one of my number one video game ever; I’m obsessed with it. I’ve been playing Dragon Age Inquisition a lot, I really enjoy that. Journey is also one of my top video games ever. I cried twice from that, from positive feelings. Do you get a lot of video game down time when you’re on tour? Sometimes. It depends on the tour. I have PSVita and a Nintendo DS and I’ll play stuff on tour, but usually it’s harder to enjoy it because I’m all over the place with touring. Especially when I’m touring in the States, I have to drive everywhere and I don’t get a lot of time to do that. Reading and playing video games are the best thing to do on planes. What’s your guilty pleasure song? Lately it’s that song “I Love You Always Together” by Donna Lewis but I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure because I’m very open about how much I love that song. I’m playing a DJ set and it’s literally on the set. Out of random curiosity, where did your name Baths come from? Did it come to you while you were bathing? Yes but not in the literal bathtub sense. It’s something that came to me cause [bathing] is where I mostly get all of my ideas. It’s a nice place to think. The idea of it, it’s like the good place to come up with things creatively.
“If I could listen to it a hundred times and still enjoy it, basically it’s worth putting on a record. “ -Will Wiesenfeld
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Pittsburgh political punk rockers Anti-Flag stopped by Toronto earlier this summer as part of their world tour in support of their 10th record, American Spring. We sat down with Justin Sane and Chris #2 at a small and quiet cafe patio in Queen West to discuss their newest LP along with the strong messages and ideas behind the project.
Interview by Zev Citron. Photos by Winnie Surya. First of all, I’d like to congratulate you both on your 10th album. That’s a pretty big milestone! Chris: Thanks, we’re very excited about it. I’m just glad it’s out and happening because it’s been a really long process. It’s been over three years since our last record. You guys have a long tour ahead of you. How’s it going so far? Chris: It’s been very easy. The shows have been filled with very kind people. I feel like the state of the world currently is giving us fewer and fewer places to feel free to be ourselves so that’s obviously a big concern of our band and that’s one of the themes of the record. Justin: I’d say it’s giving people less and less places to be themselves. Chris: So when we play the show and we’re with a couple hundred people who are just excited that no one’s judging them – there’s a room with zero racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry, that’s a huge victory. So we’re very fortunate that we get to travel the world and meet like-minded people who live a life with empathy and care about things more than just themselves. Every show we play is really great, whether it’s 150 people at the Bovine or a 50,000 people festival in Germany. Your album, American Spring dropped a couple weeks ago and it has a very strong album cover. Can you discuss the artwork and the idea behind the title? Chris: We worked with an artist in Pittsburgh – his name’s Doug Dean. He kind of spearheaded the design side of it, but we came to him with several ideas. We had the record title, American Spring, and we knew we wanted to reference the Arab Spring and the unprecedented movement of using technology to bring people together in a part of the world where they assumed revolution was never possible, so giving kudos to those who are breaking ground and working tirelessly to promote equality was the idea behind it. I think that this idea of an American Spring and living a life with empathy and feeling as if there is progress to be made was really important for us to harp upon. One of the things that we wanted to do was challenge our own perceptions and challenge the perceptions of the audience of Anti-Flag and anyone who walks into a record store. So I think that putting a Muslim
woman, a really archetypal character on the front cover and then this hyper-realistic exploding flower that gives this feeling of violence and makes you think “is that a gunshot? An explosion? What is it?” That range of emotions that comes from that was really important for us because we wanted people to think “What’s okay? What’s not okay? Why are we seeing violence when there is none? Have we become so indoctrinated as a society with images of violence that we just walk right by them?” We had a few really interesting social experiments with the artwork. We had a friend come to see the front cover and he said, “Wow that’s amazing.” Then we turn the back cover over and there’s an American soldier and they’re like, “Oh you can’t do that.” Well why can we do one and not the other? Whether you think that you live above racism or prejudice or privilege, you can’t just say that. You actually have to be acknowledging it and constantly recognize that where we come from, we’re hit with thousands of images daily that are telling us to feel one way, act one way, or live our life another way. Punk rock kids see soldiers and they think babykillers. Middle American Fox news viewers see a Muslim woman and they think: terrorist. Justin: It’s that inherent racism that we all have as a result of living in our culture. Any good sociologist will tell you that it’s impossible for people not to have some level of bias within themselves. The point that we’re trying to make to people is that we want them to recognize that they have that. As soon as people can recognize that they have a certain level of bias within themselves, that’s when they can actually rise above it and be more open and accepting of others, start to have empathy and understanding for others, and start to bridge gaps between people so we can bring people together. You guys dropped the music video for “Brandenburg Gate” a couple weeks back. There’s a lot of powerful imagery and messages throughout. Can you discuss the process in making the video and how it relates to the song? Chris: We wanted to carry that theme of perceptions of violence. I think that when you see a kid building a bomb, you’re thrown to Boston and to other parts of the world where these kind of things have happened. People get uneasy and uncomfortable with that. Being that antagonist is very important for us because being too comfortable leads to complacency. We wanted to make sure that right from the get-go, people were seeing things that were making them uneasy so it will
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22 make them continue to watch the video. Justin: Also adding to that theme of being so indoctrinated by violence that we actually see violence when there is none. Because the reality is that there was no violence in the video but people’s inherent belief immediately sees a kid working on something and thinks bomb. Chris: I’ve had people tell me that they died and that the ending is a dream sequence and all kinds of crazy shit like that, but that’s all part of the art. It’s cool that people can have their own interpretation of it. Justin: Furthermore, a big part of the theme is hope. “Brandenburg Gate” the song to me is really a song of hope. Talking about the fact that, (and this theme kind of runs throughout the record), that the economic system that we live in is immoral and unjust. Capitalism is not good for everyone and it’s something that we need to change. The idea with the “Brandenburg Gate” being that during the Cold War, it was totally unreachable for people from both East and West Germany because it was the dividing line between the two. We’re kind of making a parallel between the idea that so many people didn’t believe that communism could ever fall and the Cold War could never end, but eventually it did. A lot of people think that this kind of economic system that we’re living in right now and the type of governments that we have right now which are very corrupt and are pretty much run by corporations at this point, a lot of people believe that these systems can never change and our point is that these things can change. Change comes in places where people never expect it. With the video you see things go from very dark to very positive. To me, that’s just one more metaphor between the meaning of the song and the imagery that you see in the video. Chris: Also, it’s a fucking music video [laughs, everyone] Justin: It’s a good time. Chris: I think that all of the tools, whether it’s a rock and roll record, a music video, talking to you in a weird shutdown cafe; all of that is about saying when you see this or hear this or read this for the first time, perhaps you feel as if the world, as fucked up as it is, there is still a glimmer of hope in it, and you can recognize that there is somebody else out there that feels the same way you do and that’s all of the things we try to do with the band. Sometimes you get this feeling like everything has to have the end all meaning where it’s like, this is the catalyst for the revolution. No, none of it is. The revolution doesn’t come from a rock band or a t-shirt or any of that shit. It comes from
people coming together. It’s the way it has always been throughout history. Our role in that is to have these mini-rallies, these celebrations, and bringing as many people in as possible so that we can say, “Hey we all give a fuck about more than just what pair of jeans we’re wearing so let’s do something with that.” I went through the We Are Resistance essays and there are some very interesting and inspiring quotes throughout it. What’s your idea behind accompanying essays with an album? How did that come about? Chris: The songs are two and a half minutes long, so there’s a lot of inspiration that goes into writing that song. While I do want as much of it to be up for interpretation as possible, I do think it’s important for people to know where we’re coming from. Justin: The same way the people can’t fully get the meaning behind all of our ideas in a short song, we can’t get it all out in those essays either, but the goal is to give people an understanding of what has inspired us over time and what inspired us to write certain lines or lyrics in a song. Furthermore, some of those things are just a great opportunity to expose people to some of the people that have inspired us. We have an excerpt from Dr. Cornell West, “Dr. King weeps from his grave.” My idea of putting that essay into our booklet is that I want people to see this amazing essay that was written by Dr. Cornell West and say to themselves, “Who is this guy? What else has he done?” hopefully that will inspire him to look up his other works and be influenced by his ideas in the same way that we have been. Chris: It’s all like this gateway drug to activism, and so whether it’s that you saw the video on YouTube and you wanted to know more and that snowballs into reading the essays. That’s the end all be all for us; to just bring more people into being cognizant that there is an entire world out there. Also, we grew up on records and foldout posters and all that kind of shit, so thankfully we are back with a label (Spinefarm Records) who’s willing to help us spend money on those ideas and get that stuff to fruition because for the last couple records, we’ve been limited by budget in doing so. Justin: A lot of those essays, for example, the old Dead Kennedy records, those were things that inspired us to make art and to make music and to care about things and learn about things and try to make a difference in the world. I think that is an element that has been missing from a lot of musical releases,
where nowadays because everything is digital, bands just automatically think, “Oh screw it, we’ll do a 6 page booklet and put lyrics on it” and it doesn’t matter, but I think you can be creative and the packaging can be a whole other piece of art in itself that accompanies the music and I think it should be. Chris: All economies are microcosms or mirrors of each other. So when your school runs out of money, they cut art or music. When record labels run out of money, they cut packaging; they cut art. So that being said, it’s really important for us to try and do that kind of stuff and have that in there and have it not just exist in a digital world because I want people to sit down and listen to the entire record and have something to read when they’ve listened to it 4 or 5 times later. Justin: Yeah, fuck the digital world, man. Analog! Chris: Yeah. Also take your phone and shove it up your ass! ITC: Noted. Chris: And make sure you’re still recording because I want to be quoted correctly. [laughs] ITC: Done. Who do you want to be a voice for? Justin: I think that we wanna be a voice for anybody that doesn’t have a voice right now. It’s not so much that we want be a voice for someone. We want to put ideas out there and by putting ideas forward, it will hopefully inspire people the same way we were inspired by bands like The Clash or the Dead Kennedys, or Minor Threat, because ultimately it’s people who make change in the world; one individual at a time. So the main goal is to put ideas out into the world and hope that those resonate with someone and inspires someone to act in a certain way. Chris: I don’t appreciate his humility. We wanna be a voice of the generation! Justin: We’re the Pepsi Cola of 2015! [Sings] “I’d like to buy the world a Coke!” Chris: Yeah exactly. Punk rock is where we come from and that’s who we are. Punk rock has always been about speaking as a collective for those who can’t speak for or stand up for themselves. Whether it’s doing Food Not Bombs, which is an organization that gives food to homeless people in cities around the globe, or whether it’s teaming up with the ACLU to help protesters in movements or protests where they get jailed, there’s an endless array of examples of people saying, “Well right now in this collective we have a lot. We have our creativity. We might not be financially wealthy or any of those things but we’re
“...when your school runs out of money, they cut art or music. When record labels run out of money, they cut packaging; they cut art.” -Chris
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
wealthy in many other ways and how do we share that?” It’s not about calling yourself “a voice of” or “a voice for.” Justin: But I think that is a good point. What drew me in to punk rock was that it was a genre that was giving a voice to people who couldn’t speak for themselves. I think that is important and that is something that we try to do with our music because I believe that is what punk rock in general does as a community.
Justin: It was a Nike cutoff aqua shirt with a pink Nike swoosh. Chris: So that was my favourite Toronto memory; when I looked over and he wasn’t there and then he showed up in his board shorts and his cutoff t-shirt. Justin: But we’ve done so much here. We’ve played the Air Canada Centre. You know who else did? Drake. Chris: Riding our coattails again…
You guys have worked with some real punk legends including Tom Morello and Billy Talent who are Toronto locals. Chris: Yeah everyone is just riding our coattails. It’s weird.
You have the power to time travel, you can play any venue in any city at any time. Where would you play? When would you play? Who would be your opener? Chris: I would play in 2015, right now. I wouldn’t time travel but I would go back in time to get the bands to play the show because they’re dead. The Clash would headline the stadium in Pittsburgh. We would play. Billy Talent would play because that would be awesome. Alexisonfire would play because that would be awesome. Cancer Bats would play because that would be awesome. The Homeless Gospel Choir would play, he’s our buddy Derek from Pittsburgh. It would be an all-day festival at the stadium in Pittsburgh and all of our friends and family would be there and it would be the coolest. We would buy the world a Coke! Justin: And we’d all sing “Kumbaya”. I’d probably keep it small and dirty. There was a really cool venue in New York City called Coney Island High. I think we’d pack in Coney Island High with many of those same bands. I certainly would’ve liked to see The Clash because that would be cool. So, The Clash would open for us and then we’d headline.
Speaking of Billy Talent, what’s your connection with Toronto? Do you have a favourite memory of performing here? Justin: Oh fuck yeah, we probably have the exact same one. Chris: It’s probably different. We disagree all the time. Justin: He says black, I say white. He says CocaCola, I say Pepsi. Chris: Actually you say Coke. Justin: Well for me it was definitely the Opera House in Toronto, we played “Fuck Police Brutality” one time and as soon as we started the song, literally on the first beat, the barricade just when BOOM and fell down because the kids just rushed it. Chris: Same thing happened at Warped Tour and that was my favourite memory so it was kind of the same but different! Justin: Was that Toronto too? That’s crazy. So we successfully destroyed two barricades in Toronto at two different shows. Chris: My favourite memory was Warped Tour where we left Justin in Montreal and he had to get from Montreal to Toronto. He missed the show and he didn’t have any clothes. Justin: All I had was a pair of shoes and a pair of shorts and no socks. Who doesn’t have socks? Chris: Like board shorts, you know? There were no cell phones so he was on the payphone and we left him. I was touring with a pager but everyone had everything had turned because it was so expensive in Canada so he had to call the promoter in Montreal and they came. First he had to convince the hotel to let the shirtless man in board shorts back in because we had checked out of the rooms, but all they had for him was a shirt from the lost and found.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
By Andrea Belanger. Photos by Winnie Surya A few months ago, Toronto was greeted with the return of 8123’s melodious indie-rockers Lydia. We had the opportunity to sit down with all three members – Leighton Antelman, Matt Keller and Justin Camacho – for a friendly chat just before their show. Welcome back to Toronto! Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! You’re about halfway through this tour now with The Early November. Any crazy stories so far? We’ve been driving like crazy! I think that’s what every tour is, but this tours had some really long drives. I don’t know if we have any crazy stories. The other night in Denver, our tour manager was driving and I was in the passenger seat and a school bus came to a dead stop in front of us on the freeway – a dead freaking stop. We almost crashed into it and died, so there’s my crazy story. I’m glad we did not die. Well we’re glad you didn’t either and made it here safely enough! How has it been touring with The Early November and what’s the crowd reaction like? It’s been freaking awesome. Yeah, we’re all having a great time. Those guys are great; really cool guys. We’re thankful for them bringing us out, it’s really cool. Awesome. So, following your return in 2011, it took some time to secure the line-up you have right now… picking the right band members seems very important. What sort of things did you take into account when making sure someone’s a good fit for Lydia, or just to even deal with being cramped into a bus or van with for hours on end? I guess you have got to first off make sure they’re not an asshole, [laughs]. It’s a very specific gene I think some people are born with, to know when you’re pissing everyone off. Cause lots of people don’t have that and they go their whole life pissing everyone off and no one likes them, so if you’re that kind of person you’re not going to get involved very long. There needs to be some serious silence. It’s hard sometimes. They have to be a really good musician and then also be able to live with them, cause you’re with them 24/7. It’s kinda tough, but we have a pretty good crew with us right now. Everyone’s really happy with it.
So, “Devil” was released in 2013, “Paint It Golden” in 2011, and “Illuminate” back in 2008. Should we be expecting the same 2-3 year trenwd between albums or should we be on the watch for a release soon? It’s hard to say. We just finished recording a new record and I don’t think we ever really planned it out, whether it would be 2 years or whatever, but we are putting it out in the fall! So what, is that 2 years? [laughs] A year and half in you start to get the itch… you want to write something new. And a supporting tour for that album? Yeah, we will be doing a headlining tour for that. Which I’m sure we will be coming through Toronto again. We love it here, really. Love the city. Let’s talk about the record’s sound… Same sound as previous releases or some new directions? It’s a little bit more moody than Devil; Devil is happy. It’s hard to say, it’s definitely not the same as Devil. We’re not the kind of guys who are even remotely okay with doing that. We’re trying our best to, you know, just write really good songs. That’s always our end goal. Your current tour partner band is The Early November and they’ve got a pretty distinct fan base. If you could tour with any bands in hopes of their fans coming over and joining the Lydia family, who would it be? Is it a cop out to say Coldplay? [laughs] I would love to have their million fans like our music too [laughs]. On the more selfish side, who would you want to tour with just so you could see them play every night? John Mayer! It would be really cool to watch him every night. Normally in between albums you guys are always touring and keeping busy. Do you find time to write while touring or manage to set away time while you’re free from the tour life to do the writing? How does that process work for you? I think it’s harder to write when you’re touring. It just kind of wears on your body. Especially when Tanner’s your tour manager – it’s hard to eat! Jesus Christ, [laughs].
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
“Fans allow us to do what we love to do. You know, we are all literally living our dream – we play music with our friends and travel.” You guys aren’t getting fed out here!? No, [laughs] we rarely get fed! We are still recovering. When I get home, my girlfriend’s going to be like, “You’re a stick. You look amazing.” The thing with writing on the road is all 3 of us write songs but kind of do it on our own, and then come together and try to work the songs out as a whole. And there’s not a lot of alone time to be had with tour, [laughs].
We try to keep updated on our social media. Then tonight, or every night on tour after the show we stand out and meet everyone who might want to meet us. Sometimes it’s 2 people, sometimes 200 people. It’s crazy because the next time those people are going to bring someone else out here hopefully, and then it just keeps barreling from there. I think that’s one of the bigger things we do to stay in touch with the fans more. Yeah, it seems like that’s a big thing for everyone in the 8123 family – to keep up fan interaction. It’s huge, yeah. Fans allow us to do what we love to do. You know, we are all literally living our dream – we play music with our friends and travel. They all make it happen. What’s one thing you would change about the music industry if you could? I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked that question. I feel like the music industry is very fast paced, maybe slow it down a little, get to sleep more. Um, that’s a good question. That is a good question. As it changes, good and bad things happen you know. The internet obviously, it’s the biggest thing in the world, it’s the best and the worst thing in the world. There’s new bands using it to their advantage and there’s older bands who are just like what is this computer thing?! Yeah, I think if you are one of those people that say, “ this and this and this is what I would change about the music industry” like, you’re not gonna change that, so you shouldn’t have that point of view.
So after touring, do you find the time to put aside for more writing? Or do you just wait for it come to you, wherever and whenever you may be? For sure. After tour, I take a huge break from humans. There’s a lot of humans in the world. But um, yeah I don’t know. I think it just comes and goes, you write when you’re feeling it or you don’t. You can’t force it.
You just have to do what you do. You can’t cater to what everyone wants. You can’t, you know, purposely go the other way... you just have to do what you do.
Definitely. So promoting your material is another huge part. What do you try to do as a band to make sure what you create is really getting heard?
We got our album coming in the fall, and like we said, there will be the tour to support that so be sure to keep your eyes open for those dates! Thank you guys.
Definitely. Well said. Thank you guys so much for chatting. Any last words for our readers? Thank you for caring! It means a lot.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Toronto, ON | By Winnie Surya and Neil Van
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
seemed to be the perfect freedom for that because you can sound and speak however you want when you’re writing your own music, and it’s quite a freeing thing. For those who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe your sound? My sound is a twenty-two year old young man trying to stop the expansion of pipelines through folk music, and trying to make it as upbeat and optimistic as possible.
LUKE WALLACE Folk musician and documentary filmmaker Luke Wallace is making a change for good. Within the past year, the release of his documentary, One Big Coast, and its associated soundtrack The Kitimat LP, marked the beginning of his mission to bring about awareness about environmental justice and inspire change. A documentary that focused on the impact of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, the film was well received, and has gained numerous support from communities, educational institutions and environmental groups across Canada. We caught up with the Vancouver artist to discuss his musical beginnings, passion for social change, and exciting plans for the summer. By Chloe Hoy Can you give me a background of your beginnings and when you began to pursue music? I grew up playing piano, and I played trumpet and began singing in choirs and writing when I was about fifteen or sixteen. I guess the transition from what I was playing into folk music was sort of a rejection of the binds and structure of written, classical, jazz and orchestral music. I was just tired of having to think constantly about posture, technique, tone and everything. Folk music
You released The Kitimat LP in December, which acted as the soundtrack to your documentary, One Big Coast. With the music in particular, where did you draw the big ideas and inspirations from? The Kitimat LP resonates around an idea of global oneness; the idea that there are enough people on the Planet Earth now, that even the small decisions that you and I make in Vancouver will impact someone on the other side of the planet, and that’s whether we like it or not. That came out a lot in The Kitimat LP, where it’s ideas of coming together, uniting and recognizing that instead of fighting against each other and negatively impacting each other, let’s find ways to collaborate globally to create a sustainable Earth to live on. That was one huge idea, that sense of oneness and that sense of collaboration and coming together. Another sub-point was my figuring out what I wanted to say. It was the first album that I made that was direct. I’ve made other little EPs that were kind of just fun and poppy, but The Kitimat LP was the first time that I stepped into something and I said, ‘OK, here are ideas and here are ways that I think we should be.’ And so there are little subtleties throughout that record of me trying to figure out exactly what that means and what that sounds like. The documentary was filmed last summer in Kitimat and focuses on the impact of the Northern Gateway project on the community and the coastline. You are a geography major in university, so did this further impact why you are passionate about conservation and the environment? Growing up, going through tenth and eleventh grade, I began to really get engaged and involved in environmental and socio-environmental issues. It just started making sense. To be honest, and I mean this only out of respect, but I don’t understand how the rest of society walks around and doesn’t stand up for environmental rights. For the social impacts of environmental changes, it’s in my eyes the kind of thing that once you know about it and once you learn about what’s going on, it is your responsibility at that point to
stand up and try and change it. Not doing so is either choosing to be willfully ignorant or to accept the impacts of these choices and to not do anything about it.
you. How can I help?’ That’s the exact reason that I went out, and the exact reason that I’m going to continue making music and film.
I’m not in a position and I’m not the kind of person who is going to let that happen, so once I started reading, learning and talking with people about these issues, it was like ‘OK, well whether I like it or not, I am going to spend the rest of my life standing up against these things.’ That was one premise, and then the other premise was that I’m never going to work a day job and I’m going to play music for the rest of my life, and so the choice was kind of made for me. If one has to accept those two premises, which I did, then the only choice was to combine the two of them and to try and create social and environmental change through music.
Through your music and art, you’re hoping to bring about change and awareness. What do you hope people gain from both? Music is the most powerful tool in the universe, and nobody can say otherwise. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It can bridge cultural, social, age and language gaps. Music is a universal language and has the ability to move people in ways that nothing else can, and I think that if there’s any hope in finding a balance on the Planet Earth between the human race and the environment, it will be through music. That is the only means of which that will occur.
You have travelled to Montreal, throughout B.C. at various campuses including a Youth Sustainability Conference, and come full circle back to Kitimat for screenings and performances, so clearly a lot of support from the community. What has this reaction been like for you? Yeah, it was exceptional. The tour for One Big Coast was a remarkable thing, it was exactly what I intended it to be and way more. I set out to do One Big Coast initially to connect communities of people. I knew that there were thousands of people across the country that felt the same way that I did about the expansion of fossil fuel development, the need for environmental justice, and to stand up for environmental rights, but these people I found often were disconnected, disjointed or didn’t know about each other and felt isolated. So I took on as my role to connect these communities and I did that just through sharing a film. I went and showed One Big Coast in twenty, thirty rooms at universities, high schools, youth conferences, environmental groups, everything.
Can you share a few words about the Vancouver music scene? The Vancouver music scene is a lot like Vancouver, in that there is a wide plethora of musical genres based on the wide plethora of cultural backgrounds that exist in Vancouver. There are so many people from so many places all over the world, so you get every genre of music and you get every aspect of performance. The music scene that I’m invested in is in the very environmental-conscious music scene and there is a fair amount of musicians in Vancouver who are playing this game. But there are world bands, punk bands, hip hop bands... To be honest, a critical part of the Vancouver music scene is the apathy of a lot of people in Vancouver. People don’t really go out and support live music; they don’t support musicians relative to other cities in Canada. Globally, people are not paid well here at all, and that’s just a fact. The music and art itself in Vancouver are incredible, but the platform on which it should occur isn’t as strong as say markets like Toronto or when you get into Ireland; those are regions that really cherish and support live music.
We’d show the film and then we would talk and I would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been around this whole place and I want you to know that there are all these people in all these other towns that really care about this stuff, and so you’re not alone in caring about it, and it’s really important that we all band together.’ That was just an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience to meet everyone and to have conversations, especially with young people; I went and showed the film at tons of high schools and conferences and to interact and inspire with young people in that way, and say ‘Hey, this is damn important that we stand up for the wellbeing of our coastline and our planet, and here’s why.’ For them to get it and go, ‘Right on Luke, I agree with
What are your plans for the next year? We’ll be touring the documentary leading up to the election at the end of October, hoping to get Stephen Harper the hell out of office. Into the New Year, it will probably be continuing to tour that film and really get people engaged. One Big Coast resulted in a lot of momentum and I have a couple thousand people behind me now that I didn’t have before. If I can work and build off that, I think there is a lot of room for growth, a lot of room for connection, and a lot of alliances that can be formed in the next year if things go according to plan.
Into THe Crowd Magazine | issue #22
Published on Sep 3, 2015
Featuring The Vaccines, Thomas Newson, San Fermin, Baths, Sydney Blu, Lydia and more! www.intothecrowdmagazine.com