A Canadian music festival and arts celebration in the spirit of feminism.
A strident songstress whose intensity is cloaked in mellifluous vocals, Emel Mathlouthi is also known for her role as a leading artist in the Arab Spring. Born in Tunis, she was shunned from her country's official airwaves but rose to prominence through social media. She released her first album, Kelmti Horra (my word is free) in 2012, garnering lavish praise from critics and fans for her powerful vocals laid over a unique mix of north African rhythms and modern electronic beats. Her 2015 was prolific, including work on a new album with producer Valgeir Siggurdson and culminating with her solo performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. She returns with her second album Ensen released on Partisan Records 24 February 2017. On Ensen, she’s merged to a style that’s even more uniquely her own, combining organic and electronic sounds to produce a record that will appeal to any lover of innovative and heartfelt music.
Grouper is a recording and performing project by Liz Harris. She lives and works in Portland, OR.
“Ruins was made in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 on a residency set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois. I recorded everything there except the last song, which I did at mother’s house in 2004. I’m still surprised by what I wound up with. It was the first time I’d sat still for a few years; processed a lot of political anger and emotional garbage. Recorded pretty simply, with a portable 4-track ,Sony stereo mic and an upright piano. When I wasn’t recording songs I was hiking several miles to the beach. The path wound through the ruins of several old estates and a small village. The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.”
In a little over two short years, Weaves have gone from a collection of voice memos on Jasmyn Burke’s iPhone to establishing themselves as one of the most stridently individual acts to emerge from Toronto’s fertile and multifaceted DIY scene. Led by the collaborative efforts of Jasmyn Burke and Morgan Waters, and joined by bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole, the band have built a devoted audience while capturing the attention of the international media with a brand of ebullient, art-damaged pop music as difficult to categorize as it is to ignore.
Their debut LP, released on Buzz Records, explores every facet of their always adventurous approach to pop music and leaves no idea unexplored. Extensive touring culminated in a 2017 JUNO nomination for best Alternative Album Of The Year. Filled beyond bursting with hooks and possibilities, Weaves possess the sound of a band propelled forward by the thrill of discovering the limits of their sound and gleefully pushing past them.
Perpetual Surrender, the debut LP from Toronto's DIANA was among the most celebrated releases of 2013. The band was initially conceived as a one-off recording project, a constructive way to use studio time that Kieran Adams and Joseph Shabason had on their hands. But when joined by Carmen Elle on vocals, the excitement that greeted "Born Again," the first track released from the album, was completely unexpected, propelling the band to a place they had never planned on going. This rapid rise to prominence left the band in an unusual position, as the release of the album, the attention it received, and the touring that followed, were in a sense their foundational experience as a group. They set to work conceptualizing their follow up, Familiar Touch, beginning a recording process that spanned over 5 months, influenced by their interest in the period of 70s and 80s recording from which many of DIANA's most frequently-cited influences originate. The care taken in its composition, arrangement and production is evident throughout Familiar Touch, and the album leaves the impression of the band's significant maturation, as they pick up the threads of their debut and weave them together with a collection of new influences into patterns at once familiar and distinct.
Lido Pimienta is a Colombian born, Toronto-based interdisciplinary Afro-Indigenous artist who is also known as “Colombian darling” and “Soundsister” in both the mainstream and underground global bass movement.
Pimienta exists in a roulette of musical journeys from traditional Colombian percussion to darker avant-garde electronic soundscapes, all united by her piercing and explosive yet heartwarming voice.
Waving the flag for intersectional feminism, sex positivity and human rights, Lido Pimienta is a force ready to take over the world.
Queen Of Swords is the new project from Aerin Fogel (formerly of the Bitters, and creator of Venus Fest). Sweeping melodies and driving undertones make up a complex mixture of dark dream pop and old school rock n’ roll. Queen Of Swords has quickly gathered a following in Toronto's music community with their etheric live shows, joined by keyboardist and vocalist Kritty Uranowski. Their debut LP produced by Bobb Bruno (Best Coast) is set to release on September 15th, with Venus Fest as the release party.
The Highest Order is Paul Mortimer, Kyle Porter, Simone Schmidt, and Simone TB. Having spent the better part of the last decade touring North America as members of two time Polaris long listed One Hundred Dollars, Mortimer (guitars/vocal), Porter (bass) and Schmidt (guitar/vocal) hooked up with drummer Simone TB (Darlene Shrugg/The Seams) in early 2012 to form The Highest Order.
Their debut album, “If It’s Real” took elements of psychedelic rock and classic country carried by a heavy rhythm section and Mortimer’s guitar lines, and paired them with Schmidt’s critically acclaimed poetic lyricism and vocal delivery. Three years after that release, the band returned with "Still Holding." If their debut was a work of cosmic country then the band have doubled down on the cosmic. It's the songs that stay with you, fully realized as though they have always existed, vessels for Schmidt’s words. Deep truths. Athletic metaphors. The Highest Order are Still Holding and they saved some for you.
Ice Cream is the Toronto Based musical project of Carlyn Bezic and Amanda Crist. Since 2014, the duo's minimal, machine influenced "Molecular Pop" has been sending icy pulses through Toronto's underground. "Love, Ice Cream," their debut long player, was produced by Ben Cook (Young Guv) and Tony Price on Bad Actors Records. Through the meticulous manipulation of Moog synthesizers, bass guitars, and various boom box inflated drum machines, the record finds Ice Cream melting down their acidic brand of oblique funk to its bare essentials.
Melted-pop duo Phèdre make music for escaping. The visually evocative soundscapes emerging on their previous releases take form like a great comic; a concise narrative, bright colors, and psychedelic textures. If comic books had strobe lights Phedre‘s certainly would.
As for what they take from the real world, Phèdre‘s music borrows from hip-hop, psych and high-bpm electronica to make music digestible to internet-induced-ADD-types and also those who can sit through a heavily conceptual full-length.
Phèdre has toured extensively in North America and Europe, including playing shows in Mexico, Iceland and Russia. 2017 will see them entering a new cycle, with some new energetic releases.
Ayo Leilani is a queer, Ethiopian/Eritrean, singer/songwriter, the Co-Founder and Director of Toronto based music and multi media collective / label 88 Days Of Fortune, a member of feminist based electro dub hop group, Above Top Secret (fka Abstract Random) and a solo artist under the name Witch Prophet.
Leilani has independently released two mix tapes “Bonjour” 2009 and “Ayo x Exile” 2010. Along with a handful of singles from 2013-2015. She also has written songs and sang on two Abstract Random albums “Disrupt Dis Reality Bluuuurd’ 2010 and “Siren Songs” 2012 and has additional vocals on the Shad album “Flying Colours” 2013.
Currently, her band Above Top Secret released their self titled album via Daps Records + 88 Days Of Fortune with distribution through Outside Music in July of 2016. Her solo projects “H.P.B”, "Architect of Heartbreak Remixes" and “The Golden Octave” (as Witch Prophet) are due for release fall of 2016, Spring of 2017 + Summer of 2017.
HEX are an all girl rock band formed through Toronto community program Girls Rock Camp. Powerful vocals and clear guitar lines reminiscent of PJ Harvey and early Breeders cut through songs about spells and nature. The voice of three young girls paving the way for the next generation of musicians. Their first album, MS PRISTINE, is coming soon.
Kamee was born in an immigrant suburb to an Armenian family by way of the SWANA region; and currently lives on settler land, uninvited. She arrives in the world today as a queer womxn, a mother, and an interdisciplinary artist, producer, facilitator, and storyteller. In collaboration with fellow artists and allies (Kalik Arts, Saboteur Productions, Lovelinest), she continues to develop and build on a body of work that spirals in-to and out-of fragmented time/place through ancestral healing, diasporic futurism and decolonial imagination — inclusive of film, performance, writing, transmedia, digital art and design.
Diana Lynn VanderMeulen is a Toronto-based artist, who received her BFA from York University in 2012. Her practice is fluid between collage, painting, sculptural installation, and digital media. Past and present works investigate the psychedelic and mysterious elements of our natural world through the lens of magic realism.
Vanessa Rieger; Videomancy.