Pecha Kucha is coming up tomorrow night (watch for our ticket giveaway on Twitter), and as per usual we’ve sought out one of the interesting speakers for a sit down. Lyndon Cormack is the Co-Founder of Herschel Supply Co.. He launched the company with his brother, Jamie, in 2009, and the two of them have since changed the way we look at the humble backpack as an everyday fashion accessory. Herschel Supply products are sold in Canada, from the foothills of the Rockies and Europe to Australia and all across Asia (and everywhere in between). Their company was named after the small town in Saskatchewan where three generations of the Cormack family grew up. Scout recently took a tour of the Herschel headquarters in Railtown last week and spent some time talking to Jamie and Lyndon. Here is that conversation:
Herschel is an outdoor-focused brand. It’s in the DNA of the company. Tell us about your favourite local excursions. Where do you go? (Lyndon) I live in Deep Cove and I have kids, so I stay pretty close to home, I think our family is personally responsible for some of the cutaway trails that go to Quarry Rock. We use the trails all the time and run them. During the recent fog we were getting above it and going up to Seymour where it was scorching hot and sunny. Being from Deep Cove, it’s even an excursion to go to Granville Island. Places that other parts of Vancouver consider to be their backyards are excursions to us. Both Jamie and I have boats (Boston Whalers), so we’re boating around there all the time. (Jamie) Last trip in the Whaler? I use it weekly. I was out last week, fishing out by Bowen. We caught lots of pinks. Didn’t keep any, but it’s fun to get out there.
While we’re on the topic of Deep Cove, the two of you recently launched a side project – a new retail shop – there called A’hoy with your brother Jamie and Deep Cove business veteran Megan Curran of Room6. How on earth did you find the time and vision to start a side project on top of running Herschel? (Lyndon) We LOVE Deep Cove. I mean, we both live there. We boat there and spend a bunch of time there. With the geographic location of it, the beauty of it and the access to nature, it’s amazing to me that it’s just not THAT good. It hasn’t developed into something ridiculous. I mean, we have a fantastic, Vancouver-famous doughnut shop called Honey Doughnuts; we have a fantastic restaurant called The Arms Reach Bistro; and there is a great gift shop called Room6, which is also amazing.
So there is some good stuff, just not enough? Jamie and I were saying: “Rather than bitch, why not do something great here?” We had an opportunity to partner with Megan [Curran] and open something else with a different concept; something that would cater to men, women and kids. It’s a small space (800 square feet), but we fill it up with our favourite classic brands: Vans, Cons, Ray Ban, Levi’s, HBC, Pendleton and Herschel Supply. We wanted a business that could cater to the local community as well as have some cache for Vancouverites to come out for a visit. A’hoy aims to portray a picture of what Deep Cove is about: comfort, casual, classic.
So, Deep Cove is home, but you think that it could be a lot better. The new shop is a move in that direction. How else would you like to see it change? Why hasn’t someone opened the best fish and chips joint? A cute, organic fish n’ chip shop with perfect packaging and clever design. Why isn’t it there? I mean, there is a fish n’ chip shop there, but…put it this way, I think Bestie is a perfect example of something that has been able to come in and offer a fresh story. It was done through good design. Good design isn’t expensive. It’s the thoughtfulness and the passion that are the hard part. So why isn’t it there? I don’t know. I find it shocking and that’s why we need to fix it.
It’s about doing things differently. I think the clients in Deep Cove will spend money, if it’s worth it. If you’re just jacking up your prices because you feel you can, you’ll fail miserably because but it’s just not the community that is going to pay for that. They like value but they also care about quality. And they care about design. I’m probably guilty of thinking of the macro rather than the micro. I see the big picture of these businesses and I see the way that Deep Cove could evolve. There are a whole bunch of people who could do it better than us. They should come. Come to Deep Cove! Start a trend!
So, if you have a predilection for the ‘macro’ view with your hobbies, that’s probably true of your business as well. How do you draw the line and stay on track? Both Jamie and I are idea guys. We have to show a lot of restraint in not developing a lot of new products. We’re very focused. It’s not because we can’t. We have every opportunity in the world. We can, wether it be t-shirts, hats, footwear, or glasses or watches or what have you. We could do anything. Right now, what’s important for us is to solidify our foundation, because the foundation’s not set yet. Once we have that firm foundation we can built a lot on that.
The goal is to always worry about that that target on our back, continue to innovate, continue to create, change, continue to adapt . You’ve got to own your space in the market. We earned it, now we have to own it. Globally. That’s a challenge.
How do you avoid the trap of becoming a fad and burning out? We talk a lot internally about ‘getting too comfortable’ and I think that would turn us in to a fad and that would possibly have the ‘fizzle out’ affect. If we got too comfortable and started saying things like “Hey, we sold ‘this many’ black this year and we sold ‘this many’ navy last year” and all of a sudden you stop trying to innovate, stop trying to change, stop trying to be better and you worry about the anniversary of your business rather than creating new stories to tell.
There is a cycle that comes through. Someone who bought a bag in year one might not buy a bag the next year, but they might come through in year three. They need to have that same excitement and sense of discovery at that point. Sure, they know the brand, but now they want to know a new story or a new product within that brand. That requires innovation. That’s going to be the key. That’s the key for every brand. And any great brand that’s actually managed to succeed has constantly innovated, constantly changed. If we don’t do that, we deserve to fizzle out.
In order to make sure we stay on track, we rely on not only our eye and our travel but our partners’ eyes and their travels. We rely on our ‘reps’ who have eyes on the road and in retail stores, and we rely our design team who is well-travelled and well-versed in culture. We listen to what they tell us about what they see. We trust that – with the number of eyes that we have on things now [hundreds] – that we can come up with a pretty good sense of what will work. After that, you’ve got to just go with your gut.
(Jamie) Pushing in to new categories so that even if someone does own a bag and they are not looking for a bag that day, they are going to come back and buy a wallet, buy a computer sleeve, want that new duffle bag. Our range has expanded. That’s one thing that we knew right from our first season, we did not want to be pigeon holed. We wanted to offer range. It allowed us some creative freedom. It allowed us to be able go out there and think about more than just one thing. We had it on our minds because we were travelling.
At this stage, we’ve been able to stand back and look at things like: how do you us devices, how do you use an iPad, how do you travel with your bag? So our bags have a heritage feel for the user, but once you open them up, they function. Constantly innovating.
Is part of the plan to have a little boutique for Herschel, a flagship? (Lyndon) I would have to say yes. It’s definitely going to be something we do. We have some shops in Hong Kong and Taiwan, some kiosks in Korea. Eventually we would move to having a couple of flagships, but they have to be in the right place at the right time. We’re just getting started here in terms of our brand, we’re only 4 years old.
Definitive Records asks interesting Vancouverites to pick the three albums that anchor their musical tastes. Today, we hear from Bob Rennie. Most Vancouverites know him as a real estate marketing legend (he’s been at is since 1975), but he’s also one of Vancouver’s leading supporters of the arts. He sits on Emily Carr University’s Board of Governors and chairs the North America Acquisitions Committee (NAAC) at the Tate Museum of Modern Art in London. The public can check out his own Rennie Collection in Chinatown’s Wing Sang Building two days a week. Have a listen to the foundational sounds of…
Beck, Bogart & Appice – Superstition | LISTEN | “Very fond friendship memories of youth and camping.”
Simon & Garfunkel – At The Zoo | LISTEN | “Describes life…animal farm-ish.”
David Bowie – Young Americans | LISTEN | “My ex-wife and I loved this song when we were 18!”
Diane Espiritu is one of many new vendors who will be showing and selling their creations at the revamped Chinatown Night Market. She studied Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art and Design before launching Espiritu Design Studio, a ceramics-focused studio in Chinatown. Diane attributes her creativity to growing up with a resourceful father who could not resist the challenge of finding a dual purpose for everything he came across. When the utilitarian nature of his engineered objects lacked elegance, Diane finessed a polished finish. Today, she combines the spirit of that mindful innovation with a modern design aesthetic.
What type of artist are you? What style of work do you produce? I’m an industrial designer at Espiritu Design Studio, a company we started in 2011. Initially, it was an effort to find studio space to make and market my own in house designs [but] soon I was working with a variety of clients to bring their visions to life, too. I specialize in two mediums: functional and architectural ceramics and soft product design.
Three things about Coal Harbour that make you want to live there? The seawall as it winds its way into our beloved Stanley Park, the proximity to beaches, and green spaces.
What inspires you? I draw inspiration from a number of sources. I’m very aware of my surroundings. Whether it’s the built or natural environment I like to connect with the objects living within these spaces. I’m fond of new experiences and encountering surprising elements. I look for emotional experiences. I admire thoughtful makers that make you smile when you interact with their creations. I appreciate the craftsmanship, mindfulness and sensibilities required to achieve a form that is as elegant and simple as it is intuitively functional.
You are one of the first local designers to jump on board and grab a table at the revamped Chinatown Night Market planned for this summer. What is it about the Night Market this year that has you most excited? I want to embrace the idea of being a part of something new as it emerges [...] I would love to take this opportunity to collaborate with like-minded designers on a few small scale projects.
Tell us about your studio space in Chinatown? Espiritu Design Studio is located in the Chinatown Mall. The main level contains the equipment and tools we need to execute soft product design projects. I share this space with my dear friend and design colleague Angel Dawn, who works with fibre, leather and other materials. If there is any evidence of organization in the studio it is because her skills are impeccable. The second level is where all the ceramic magic happens. The studio is my home away from home so I try to make it cozy. I place reminders of the people who have supported and inspired me along my journey over the years pinned to the studio walls.
What is your favourite creation right now? I’m really digging the potential of the pieces that I’m creating for the Chinatown Night Market. These are pulling inspiration from the distinctive elements of our neighbourhood and the idea of collaborating with other local designers and members of the Vancouver Design Bureau.
What is your favourite Chinatown indulgence? When a fruit comes into season and it’s readily available at the markets, I will consume copious amounts of it daily. My favourites are mangos and the sweet yet tart mandarins.
Where can Vancouverites find your work? Recently, I had the great opportunity to create ceramic taps for artisan sake in collaboration with designers Tlell Davidson and Craig Stanghetta for Pidgin. You can also find the ceramic coffee pour-over cones that I designed for Panoramic Coffee Roasters at The Pie Shoppe. While I begin to court local shops to carry my work, you are welcome to visit my studio in the Chinatown mall by appointment to check out what’s hot off the kiln shelf!
If you want to be a vendor at this summer’s Chinatown Night Market, click here to learn how.
We’ve been fans of Wild Rice since it opened way back in 2001. Over the years it has proven to be one of the most consistent restaurants in town, staying true to owner Andrew Wong’s original concept of a restaurant that was modern and open in design and outlook (both gastronomic and environmental) but true to his Chinese heritage. And as a founding member of Ocean Wise and Green Table, it has been a leader in sustainability since long before it was sexy. Behind the consistency is the chef, Todd Bright, whose passion for local product and unique preparations are deliciously evident on the plate, 7 nights a week. Wild Rice expanded this time last year by opening a new location in the revamped River Market out in New Westminister. Bright came on as a chef/partner in the new enterprise, which is to say we’re very grateful that he took time he couldn’t spare to answer the following questions…
Where did you go to school? Toowoomba, Australia.
If you had a motto, what would it be? Work hard, play harder.
What’s the thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? I love chicken skin! I know lots of people are opposed to eating poultry skin for health reasons these days, but it’s the best part.
What ingredient grosses you out the most: We would never use this at Wild Rice, but you know what natural raspberry flavouring is made of right? Natural raspberry flavor, or castoreum, comes from the anal extracts of a North American beaver.
Default drink of choice: Beer — anything local and cold.
What are you the most proud of: I’m really proud of the team we have built at Wild Rice, and that we get to be part of the River Market renewal process.
What are you the least proud of: I’m the least proud of not being able to answer this question honestly.
Your favourite smells: Roasted chicken stock is pretty awesome.
Your least favourite smells: The smell of something burning. I hate the smell of something burning!
Your chef role models: Neil Perry, Tetsuya, and Marco Pierre White.
Your favourite sound: I really like the sound of a busy restaurant. The roar of the hood vents, sizzling pans, communication from my crew, laughter and chatter from the dining room. It’s music to my ears!
Your least favourite sound: Dropped cutlery. It pings through the entire restaurant. It’s horrible.
The best way to die: Fat, happy and with no regrets. Read more
Next week local creatives from across the city will gather to watch yet another series of Pecha Kucha presenters take the stage at the Vogue Theatre. The line-up this time (as always) is stellar. We’re super stoked to hear from the ladies of Victory Gardens and TJ from The Shop, and we’re also looking forward to hearing what Lizzy Karp has to say. We’re used to seeing Lizzy’s name around town a lot. It’s always tied to something pretty great, so we knew that we wanted to find out a little more about her. We could have waited until next week to catch her PK performance, but we didn’t. We tracked her down and asked her a few questions instead. What an awesome decision. What an awesome girl. Between planning Raincity Chronicles this Friday (sorry, it’s sold out), darting around town collecting books for A Good Book Drive and pulling together her PKN presentation, Lizzy took a few minutes to answer a few of our questions….
Three things about Fairview that make you want to live there I technically live in Fairview, but refer to it as South Shaughnessey when I want to feel fancy. It’s not one of Vancouver’s most celebrated ‘hoods, but I love my corner grocer Sunshine Market, long runs through Shaughnessey and the endearing architecture and logotypes of the apartment buildings.
Where did you grow up? Salt Lake City, Utah, aka the Beehive State.
Where did you go to school? The University of Toronto to sit in the Hart House library and read all the books.
Where was the last place you called home? Toronto aka “Tarana”
How long have you lived in Vancouver? I moved here the day Michael Jackson died, June 25, 2009. I’ve got a couple of years under my belt, and can (usually) get around without using Google maps.
What was your first Vancouver experience? Before I put down roots here, my boyfriend Pat and I came on a reconnaissance trip in January to get the feel of the city as I’d never been before. That was the wild and weird foggy weekend that covered the entire city in a thick blanket of clouds. We wandered down to the seawall in Stanley park and I couldn’t see the water, or the mountains, skyline, anything. So we danced and guzzled beer at Honey, followed by a hangover brunch at Bandidas the next morning, and in my foggy state was sold on the idea.
What was it about Vancouver that made you want to move here? My hometown is nestled in a gorgeous mountain range and after years living in Toronto I was drawn towards Vancouver’s proximity to nature and mysterious personality. I made the decision that I wanted to continue living in Canada, but was intrigued by the west. And like a fresh notebook or next chapter in a novel, it’s always invigorating to start something new.
The first album that made you love music? I grew up sounded by Motown and classic rock records, but Buddy Holly sparked my very first crush, musically and romantically. Any compilation of his hits I adored (and still do!).
Three of your favourite films? I’ll go for Man on Wire, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Clueless.
An under appreciated Vancouver event/person/feature that you think deserves a closer look? This city is filled with so many talented people that are not celebrated in the way they should be. But I’d have to pick Banquet Atelier and Workshop. Sarah Edmonds and Tammy Lawrence create gorgeous paper products that are produced and printed in Vancouver, yet the accolades they’ve received are mostly from out of town. I adore the work they do and hope you do, too. Read more
by Michelle Sproule | Meet Michael Thomas Host and Tanja Hinder of mth woodworks. They’ll be in their Parker Street studio during this weekend’s highly anticipated Eastside Culture Crawl (November 16, 17, 18), so be sure to drop in and check out their super-cool stuff…
What do you do? We design and build original furniture using locally salvaged trees and organic resin. Every piece is one-of-a-kind and a guaranteed conversation starter. The bloom collection is our revolutionary way to showcase the beautiful local rain forests. We are complete rain forest junkies and our designs have become an outlet for us to bring the forest into our living room.
How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? This is our third year. We absolutely love it.
If you were to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended, what would you say? It’s your opportunity to saunter around and check hundreds of talented and local artists. Everybody opens up their doors and welcomes you to check out their work. You’d be surprised what a pile of talent can be found under one roof.
What are you most excited to be working on right now? Our new collection piece (Style no. 13). The photo doesn’t do it justice. The inlays are Yellow Cedar which are over 400-years old. It’s just unbelievably unique wood and we really enjoy working with it. PS: It will be showcased at the Crawl.
Why is the East Van a good place for art? The east side, especially our building (1000 Parker Street), has a strong community vibe and efficient infrastructure, but it’s not a manicured place. A little dirt can sometimes be very inspiring. Perfection is boring.
How do you get ready for the Crawl to begin? We CLEAN the shop from top to bottom, install the displays, dim the lights, and put on some tunes. Now all we need is for you to come by and check us out.
What’s the first thing that you do when the Crawl is over? Go home, put our feet up, order pizza, and chat about all the great people we met and amazing feedback we had.
As noted in this morning’s Scout List, Pecha Kucha Night Vol.23 goes down this week. The theme this time around is Art & the City. We checked out all the presenters and became fascinated by the concept of a second hand green couch touring around the city and country like a moveable stage for bands to perform on. Wanting to know a little more, we caught up with The Green Couch Sessions creators Michelle Allen and Jonathan Krauth and asked them a few pre-PKN questions…
Where are you from? What neighbourhood do you call home and why do you love living there? Michy: I am from the far reaches of Northern BC. I call the Fairview neighborhood home now and I love living here because we are only 100 meters from the Sea Wall and a 5 minute bike ride to the dog beach. JK: I am from Caracas, Venezuela but I call Vancouver home, love everything about it … the mountains, the beaches, the ocean, the lakes and sometimes even the rain.
Can you explain briefly, the concept of Green Couch Sessions? We are a grassroots music film project working with local, Canadian and International artist to capture musical moments on a magical Green Couch around the city of Vancouver and across the country. The couch is a digital venue; our most prominent fans are from the UK and Brazil.
A lot of people will immediately equate your project with Vincent Moon’s La Blogothèque Take Away shows. What sets Green Couch Sessions apart? Ever since I was in film school I have been a huge fan of Vincent Moon, he has been a huge inspiration. The Green Couch Sessions are more than a simple take away show. The physical entity of the ‘Green Couch’ creates a unique defining thread to all the videos. The imagery of a vintage couch in different locations, a beach, a field, an alley way creates a distinctive impression on the musicians as well as our audience. We have been creating a small community and generating local support for a lot of Vancouver’s emerging artists.
What’s in this project for you? We want to create a space that merges the art of film and music with the landscape of our city. The personal concerts by fantastic musicians aren’t too bad either.
Do either of you have a background in music? We don’t have a background in music. Jon is a filmmaker and has been behind a camera since he was a kid. We both have a deep appreciation for music and the creative experience. We worked in the local music scene on the video side for a few years before starting the sessions and really saw it as a way to give back to the community and give a lot of artists who are starting out a chance to make a great looking video.
Strangest place you’ve seen the green couch? Sitting outside a dumpster near Davie Street. We saved it immediately and it became our muse.
One place you’d love to see the couch travel to? Too many to mention, so I’m going to keep the locations local. Roof top of the Convention Center. A boat in False Creek. Wreck Beach at sunset. The VAG. Grouse Mountain SkyRide.
A local musical talent/band you’d love to see on the couch? Dan Mangan for sure! He’s sorta the big one. We have tried a couple times but he is a very busy man.
Have you ever had a band so large that they didn’t fit on the couch? Who was it? We filmed a session last year with local electro duo Humans. They had the amazing and talented Carnaval Band cover Avec Mes Mecs. 30 people that formed a giant circle around the couch and they all played an instrument. You could totally feel the energy in that room.
What was the last non-Green Couch concert or musical encounter that totally blew your mind? Last weekend we traveled with The Matinée to Desolation Sound. We took a boat to Grant Lawrence’s family cabin and they played for an awesome mix of locals on the deck as the sun set over the mountains. We are big Matinée fans. They are the nicest group of guys. Their new album keeps getting stuck in our heads and watching them perform this very stripped down private concert in such an epic location was something truly special. We will never forget it.
Ever found anything good under the cushions? A few guitar pics and a couple pennies. The real treasure is in the green vinyl. It absorbs a tiny bit of every musicians musical soul when they sit and play. We know this because the Green Couch is a little heavier after every session … or maybe we are just getting weaker.
by Michelle Sproule | Danielle Tatarin, the President of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association, has had a very good year. She was named the 2012 Vancouver Magazine Bartender of the Year in the Spring and came 2nd at Scout’s Bartender of the Year tournament earlier this month. She’s also just returned from the famed Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, where she presented a seminar on Traditional Chinese Medicinal Ingredients in mixed drinks. Dani currently runs the wood and well at The Keefer Bar in Chinatown, where she and her cohorts incorporate house-made syrups, tinctures and bitters into classic and contemporary cocktails.
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live in East Van: I love it here – community, lots of big trees and cheaper rent than downtown.
Name the thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Fries dipped in ice cream
Default drink/cocktail of choice? Tie between a Martinez and a Vieux Carre.
The Vancouverite that you admire most and why? The ladies who run the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. They work tirelessly to help the women and children of the DTES.
Your role models? Charlotte Voisey, Audrey Saunders, David Wolowidnyk, Brad Stanton, Lauren Mote, Cam Bogue, Cam Watt, and Bestey Johnson.
Favourite breakfast? Purple rice and almond milk with Strawberries or blueberries (healthy) or the Avocado Benny at Roundel Cafe.
The historical personalities, both good and bad, that fascinate you the most? Ada Coleman, Elvis Presley, Aldous Huxley, Hippocrates.
The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair? I wore it in a big curl at the top of my forehead once. I thought it looked pretty cool at the time but now I see pictures and laugh at how stupid it looked!
What are the three things you’d like to change about Vancouver? Provide more help to the residents of the Downtown Eastside (mental health care, education, jobs, homes). I find it absurd that there are empty, over-priced condos and people living on the streets. I’d also change liquor laws and take out a few parking meters.
Do you go by mixologist or bartender? Depends what I am doing. I consider myself a bartender first and foremost but the term mixologist is one that has been around since the old days. If I am consulting on a drink menu or crafting drinks for an event then I would not be against having “mixolgist” beside my name as the creator of the drink.
Your go to, no-frills place for dinner? Peaceful Restaurant or The Eatery.
If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? Edmonton to meet my new niece Emily and visit my pregnant sister Kamiko.
The strangest ingredient you’ve ever had to build a cocktail around? When I first opened The Keefer I was working on the concept of incorporating traditional Chinese medicinal ingredients into cocktails and was perplexed by [things like] mushrooms and sea horses, et cetera, but I figured it out.
The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years? 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye.
What is the best way to get to know a neighbourhood? Walk around, visit the corner stores and smile at people when they walk by.
Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure? New Orleans, Louisiana.
Your major character flaw? Procrastination.
The character flaw in others that you can’t abide? Dishonesty.
What was the luckiest moment in your life? Being born in Canada.
What was the unluckiest moment in your life? Almost being killed by an ex-boyfriend. Read more
by Michelle Sproule | So what if she never learned to ride a skateboard. Danielle Krysa has a BFA in Visual Arts, a post-grad diploma in design, has worked as a designer and Creative Director, has created a seriously popular blog called The Jealous Curator, writes for other seriously popular blogs, curates shows, runs art workshops all over North America, and is a mother, a wife and a dog owner.
In February of 2009, after years of looking at beautiful contemporary art and thinking “Damn, I wish I thought of that”, she finally decided to say it out loud, and The Jealous Curator was born. She writes a daily post about emerging and established contemporary artists that make her jealous (in a good way, of course!).
Three things about Steveston that make you want to live there: I love a) being on the water, b) that there are a ridiculous amount of ice cream shops and fish n’chips places to choose from, and c) my favourite coffee shop (Rocanini) where I sit and write every single day. Seriously…every day. I think they might give me my own desk in the back.
Name the thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? CHIPS! Old Dutch Au Gratin chips. Always and forever.
Default drink/cocktail of choice? A one shot soy latte, and if you want to add a bit of Bailey’s, that would be ok with me.
Best Vancouver place or event to be inspired by emerging artistic talent: Easy. The Cheaper Show. So much fun, and so much amazing art!
Last art show that really blew you away: In Vancouver: Monument(al) at East Van Studios featuring Sarah Gee/Jessica Bell/Aaron Moran. Elsewhere: Matthew Craven at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco.
What trend have you followed that you now regret? When I was 14 I so badly wanted to be a skater chick. I wore ‘OP’ shorts (remember ‘Ocean Pacific’?!) that were way too big for me, shaved my hair on one side and left the other side long, and carried a skateboard with me wherever I went. Yes, I said carry. I had no idea how to ride it.
The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair? See the previous answer. Oh, and Sun-In, circa 1986.
What are the three things you’d like to change about Vancouver? Well, I’d like it to be warm in May, June and July. Is that too much to ask?
If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? Paris. No, New York…oh, or Bali. Hmm, maybe I’ll need an around the world ticket.
Your go to, no-frills place for dinner? Gudrun in Steveston. Simple, very cool setting, and amazing food! Nothin’ like cheese fondue and a cold beer on a Friday night.
The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years? Well, “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” was pretty impactful when I was 10. The book that literally changed my life was ‘The Artist’s Way’. I only read it a few years ago. I was at a major crossroads with my own art work and with life in general, I guess. I cried so many times during the 12 weeks that I read the book/did the weekly tasks, but I came out on the other side a different person. So many people have that book on their shelf but haven’t read it. They should just pick it up and do it…tears and all.
What is the best way to get to know a neighborhood? I love sitting at cafes and people-watching. I do that when I travel too. I like to blend in and not look like a tourist. My husband and I have a long standing tradition of playing a game we invented called “director-not-a-director” – basically we stare at passers by and decide if they look like they have what it takes to be a movie director, or not.
Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure? I just got back from Portland (which I absolutely loved!), and I am literally on a plane right now on my way to Minneapolis to do one of my Girl Crush art workshops. Up next, Philly in October. I guess you could put these trips under work and pleasure, but more pleasure!
What is your biggest phobia? Snakes. Oh my word…snakes. Read more
Pecha Kucha Night goes down tomorrow night. This edition is themed “Community, Connect and Engage” and it, as usual, involves a great group of speakers, like Adam Schelle and Kev Holloway. The pair are commercial/editorial portrait photographers and not musicians, but they love music so much that they created www.playground.is, the event series wherein a band and an audience create music together. Along with a team of other creative, hard-working music lovers, they hold these events in and around Vancouver. Say hello…
Can you explain briefly, the concept of Playground? One band. One audience. One goal. Create a song together and then record it. In less than an hour. It always happens in a unique space that isn’t a typical music venue. There’s always beer, and it’s always free. It’s free to come collaborate.
Where did the idea come from? Some guys out of Paris called La Blogotheque produce live music videos called Les Concert A Emporter (the Take Away Shows). We learned about them around 3 years ago and were immediately inspired by the down-to-earth, honest, approachable way that the artists were portrayed. They featured many big indie acts actually performing without a safety net in a way that showed them as imperfect, vulnerable humans. Each video was full of so much charm. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the highly polished and packaged way the music industry has been presenting musicians for ages. During the Olympics we tried our own variation on this concept by setting up a few “spontaneous” musical performances in and around Blenz coffee shops in the city. Shortly afterwards we realized that all we were doing was the same as La Blogotheque, but ours was a shitty version. We had the grass roots feel down but there was nothing new to the concept. Around that time we were also getting inspired by other videos on-line: The Morning Benders’ video Excuses showed us the potential of getting a whole bunch of people in on one recording to create a great wall of sound. A video of Bobby McFerrin at a Science Festival showed us that people are innately musical and when people are willing they are able to be lead musically fairly easily. There were other videos as well and they all pointed at how music was something that people shared in many aspects of life. With these inspirations in mind we began looking at the music industry with a critical eye. The funny thing that we noticed was that the great big music industry and all its packaged performers only seemed to offer live musical performance in one format: artist performs and audience observes. We began asking ourselves: What if we could do something with a grassroots, spontaneous feel kinda like the Take Away Shows, but instead of making it about the artist, it’s an event where the artist is there to collaborate with the audience. The audience then gets to be as important to the song as the band.
“One band. One audience. One goal. Create a song together, and then record it. In less than an hour.” Seriously, beginning to end in one hour? How is this possible? The trick is the band has got to lead it and there has to be a plan for how the collaboration works. This way the song and the musical direction still come from the band and it’s not just a jam. The people who are complete non-musicians can still engage and also it means that there’s some sort of quality control. Being imperfect is so important and that will inevitably be a part of the final recording, but we’re also interested in creating the best possible result we can. It really is about planning the shit out of the event so it runs smoothly and then providing a framework for the collaboration to happen. Then we just let people’s natural musical abilities happen and it seems to work. We’d imagine the beginning of the process is a bit clunky. You provide beer for participants, which undoubtedly would help loosen things up a but, how do you know when the crowd has fully committed and you’ve passed the point of no return? From the moment people RSVP to the event, we ask something of them; we ask some sort of collaboration so people are already in that mindset when they walk through the door. Once the event starts there’s a learning process that everyone goes through as a group which always feels a bit clunky but it works and people still commit. It’s usually at the first rehearsal of the entire song where it becomes clear in everyone’s mind that we’re all making a song together. It’s a great feeling when that happens. As I mentioned earlier, people are innately musical and when they are open to it are relatively easy to be lead through a musical collaboration. Read more
by Daniel Colussi | One of the most interesting groups to emerge from Vancouver’s dense cultural foliage is the V.Vecker Ensemble, a nine-odd man/woman army of bassists, drummers, guitarists, and one player of the Indian santur. They’re brought together by local artist, writer and musician Keith Wecker, the Ensemble’s composer and conductor. I first saw them play at the Anza Club two years ago and it was a sight to behold: Wecker guiding the group through the sturm und drang of free jazz frenzy and krauty grooves conjuring the atmosphere of an East Village loft party circa ’81 (not that I would know, really). They were too many to all fit on stage so they played on the floor like a punk band, and it was great. Interestingly, the group’s been invited to play in this year’s Jazz Fest, so they’ll be representing the more out there fringe of the fest. In anticipation of that date, Wecker has provided Scout with a music video playlist that ranges from the austere (Art Ensemble Of Chicago) to the crass (Odd Future), with an Obama mash-up added in for good measure. From the desk of Keith Wecker, here we go… Read more
Just…wow. I’ve met some characters in the local food business in my time, but Salam Kahil takes the cake. Before you press play above, be warned: it’s totally NSFW, containing male full frontal nudity (for real), wildly inappropriate stories, non-stop sexual innuendo, hilarity, and random acts of kindness. The film is yet another solid effort from Lewis Bennett, who has taken it upon himself to create 12 movies on Vancouver, its people and its surrounds in 2012. We are proud to present “The Sandwich Nazi”:
The Sandwich Nazi is about Salam Kahil who runs La Charcuterie, a Scandinavian deli in the Port Kells area of Surrey, BC. He is an art collector, a former male escort, an amateur piano player, and a strong supporter of the homeless in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside but his true passion is talking about blowjobs.
Note that this is the fourth film in Lewis’ series, and the best we’ve seen to date.
Internationally recognized Canadian slam poet and writer Shane Koyczan is a legend across Canada. Although he was born in Yellowknife and raised in Penticton, he has also logged a significant number of hours wandering the wilds of Vancouver and we would like to claim him as an honorary Vancouverite whenever possible. He’s coming to town this week to pull a gig at the Vogue (details here) and we caught up with him on tour to ask him a few questions in advance of that show…
Best thing about Penticton in the Winter? It’s easier to find cuddle buddies because I’m big and warm.
Best thing about Penticton in the Summer? Midnight bike rides.
Default drink/cocktail of choice? Vodka and soda water with lime.
The Vancouverite that you admire most and why? Ivan Coyote. I admire integrity.
Your role models? Are so cool that they wouldn’t want to see their names printed here because it would compromise their egos.
First summer job/part time job as a kid? I worked at a convenience store called The Red Rooster…interestingly it was the same store where I got hit by a van in their parking lot.
The historical personalities, both good and bad, that fascinate you the most? Charlie Chaplin and Grigori Efimovich Rasputin.
The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair? Once upon a time I had a mullet.
What does poetry offer to community? Poetry.
Your go to, no-frills place for dinner in Penticton? Haveli…it’s not fancy. Just great Indian food.
Your go to, no-frills place for dinner in Vancouver? Brittania Sushi.
If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? To her…wherever she is.
The strangest place you’ve ever been to? A potluck where every guest brought the same dish. There was lots of ginger beef to go around that night.
The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years? Watership Down, Yurtle The Turtle, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.
What is the best way to get to know a neighbourhood? Say hello to it’s inhabitants.
Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure? Currently on tour and last night was Guelph so it was work but the audience made it an absolute pleasure.
What is your biggest phobia? I have horrible vertigo.
Where did you go to school? Lots of different places. Playgrounds, parking lots, libraries and some actual schools.
The cliché that you overuse? Safety never takes a holiday.
The strangest talent that you possess? Getting cats to love me.
What trend have you followed that you now regret? Obesity. Read more