Herd Magazine + Ottawa Showbox bring you A Mid-Summer Riot

Although our latest issue is already released, what would a new edition of Herd Magazine be without a party? This time we’ve teamed up with Ottawa Showbox to bring you a concert, party, social affair, and riot! Plenty of room for everyone to make it into the venue! Details below:

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The time hath cometh to gather thy friends and colleagues and celebrate the season! We’re throwing another celebration, but this time nobody hath to wait in line all night for our new location hath plenty of space for all! We’ll beest celebrating summer mid-season with thee all!

Musical guests, The Cardboard Crowns, shalt grace the stage with their fartuous costumes and wacky performance! And the absolutely, positively, innovative liveth electronic project, Theaternia + Cabaal w/ visuals by Hard Science, wilt round out the night with hypnotic sounds and moving pictures!

Our resident DJ/Vj duo, DJ Greg Reain and VJ Ina wilt beest at it to provide yee with a sweet foxtrot party!

Tickets are $10 and available here, doors are at 10pm, and drinks shall be easy on the pocketbook.

Friday, July 3rd, Maker Space North, 10pm, $10 in advance, $15 at the door!

Hyphen – A documentary

Words by Heather Heagney

After studying Communications at Concordia, and working as a Video Producer at MediaStyle, Gabriela Warrior Renaud has decided to break out on her own as a filmmaker and tell her own story. With Hyphen, Warrior Renaud makes her debut into the world of documentary filmmaking and begins a storytelling journey that she hopes will help to redefine identity in Canada from a new perspective.

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On Saturday, May 30, she will screen the first part of HYPHEN at Arts Court. Her screening is also a fundraiser to help her complete the rest of the film. Sponsored by the Ottawa International Film Festival with refreshments from Seed to Sausage and Beau’s All Natural Brewery, the evening will give the audience a first look at what the overall HYPHEN project will become.

 

HH: What inspired you to make this film? Do you remember the moment when you realized that this was a film you had to make?

 

GWR: I’ve always been really passionate about this subject, and it’s come up in a lot of different ways throughout my life. I remember during one of my courses in Communications Studies at Concordia, I think the class was TV Studies, we had an assignment to pitch a TV show. I came up with this series that focused on these 2 sisters who were multiracial, and didn’t look anything like each other or their parents. I really liked the idea of a show that challenged how people perceived the idea of family. But the moment when I knew Hyphen was going to be my film was last summer during a roadtrip across the country with a good friend of mine. Traveling through the country at a slow pace really made me think about what makes us Canadian, and how many different perspectives make up the Canadian identity. The identity that I know more about is the multiracial identity and I wanted to explore that topic more in terms of where it stands within Canada.

 

HH: Why is it important to you to tell this story and to explore this topic?

 

GWR: The question of identity is something that challenges everyone. I don’t think anyone goes through life 100% confident in who they are and what they’ve chosen to identify with. Add a multitude of cultural references, some awkward instances of racism and a confused society, and you have a really great example of how identity should not be defined with such strict definitions. Culture is such a big part of how our society structures itself and when you start mixing things it gets complicated. A growing diversity of realities has been brought to the forefront in the last decade. I think awareness is a very important issue for our generation; it’s not because you don’t see that perspective on TV that it doesn’t exist. I know a lot of people have struggled with the same issues as me, and I think it’s amazing that film is letting us finally talk about it. Multiracial couples are much more prevalent now, and I want to be part of the change in people’s perceptions about these families and kids. I know a lot of multiracial kids and I want them to grow up without the stress and pressure from the judging outside opinion. When I am at a restaurant with my dad, we get looks because people assume I’m his girlfriend. I think it’s time for a wake-up call. I think as someone who has struggled with issues like racism and discrimination, I want to allow others an opportunity to speak and share their stories. As a woman who is sometimes perceived as a visible minority, I’ve had my share of obstacles, and I still do. So in my mind, if I’m still struggling, others are as well, and if I can use my position as a filmmaker to give them a voice, then I think that is my responsibility.

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HH: Your part of the film is one of several you plan to tell in the overall film project. Have you chosen the other subjects for this documentary? Do you know how many stories you plan to tell?

 

GWR: My goal is to interview 6 families, including my own. I want to interview people across the country, to explore perspectives in different provinces. I haven’t met my “subjects” yet. I knew I wanted to flesh out my idea before I started pulling in other people and families. It’s been a really challenging project for me, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and was confident in the film before approaching other people. I also want to make sure each story gets the right amount of space to properly tell their story. But I’m really looking forward to just collecting stories! Bradley Cayford, who will be facilitating the Q&A session after the screening on May 30th suggested I could even start a forum for the stories. People can share writing, photos, letters, stories from relatives. I think it might actually be an amazing way to end the documentary. I’ve been thinking a lot about that.

 

HH: Since you are exploring such a personal topic, has the filming process been difficult, emotional, or therapeutic?

 

GWR: All of the above! When I decided that I was making this film, I had to tell my parents. They’re divorced, so I had to do this twice. I was pretty nervous because I was asking them to be vulnerable with me, but they were and continue to be incredibly supportive. I used to be the video producer at MediaStyle, a communications firm here in Ottawa. The videos that I would produce, I was able to them objectively. Our goal with all of our projects was to help our clients tell their stories in a compelling way. So during each video shoot I was making sure that the person felt comfortable, that I was editing the video so the message would be clear. But setting-up my mom in the little sound recording booth at SAW video — everything I knew disappeared. When I first announced to her my project, she was thrilled. She dug up all these old VHS tapes that she had taken throughout my childhood. For the first few months, I sat in front of my TV, rewinding, fast forwarding and took notes on all these videos. The first few sessions I spent mostly crying. I saw footage of my late grandparents, my parents in love, my relationship with them evolve. And it’s such an intimate project for me, I have rarely spent so much time with myself, watching myself, listening to my voice. HYPHEN has been the hardest and the most challenging thing I’ve done to date, but holy crap it feels amazing to do this and I can’t wait to hear other people’s stories!

 

HH: Why do you think is it important to make documentaries?

 

GWR: Someone once told me that there are so many amazing stories in this world, it’s hard to believe that you could make up something more powerful. Fiction films definitely have their value, and once I get enough confidence, I’d like to give that a shot. Documentaries are how we learn about what’s actually going on. We are able to watch different perspectives and learn about things that are outside of our own reality. If we want to become a more accepting and conscious society, we need to make sure that what we consume in terms of media is diverse.

 

HH: Do you know what your message is with this film now, or do you hope to find it in the rest of the filming process?

 

GWR: When you make a documentary film, your message doesn’t come from you. In this case it’s a bit difficult, because I’m part of the story. But I think by the end, the collection of people I will have interviewed and who have participated in this project will have helped shape what the message of Hyphen will be. Right now, my goal is to start a conversation about identity. I want to challenge how people perceive it and I want to start a discussion around it.

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HH: What’s next for you after Hyphen? Are you working on any new projects?
GWR: I’ve never been busier in my life! Right now, I’m producing Hyphen and will be for probably the next year or two. I also co-own a houseware company, Third Son Laserworks; I work part time at the Seed to Sausage General Store, and I still do freelance video projects. It’s been a crazy year for me and I love it! So my radar is staying pretty close to the present these days, because I need to make sure I don’t drop the ball on anything. After Hyphen, I’m not sure —  I know I want to continue to make films, and I think finishing this project will give me the confidence I need to really call myself a filmmaker. I also really want to travel. I talk about this in the film, but I’ve never been to India, and that’s a big missing piece in my world. So my mom and I have a plan to visit when the doc is done. She wants to take me to where she grew up, but also to visit where her family is from. Our family home still stands and I am so eager to see it! I’d like to take that opportunity to visit Asia, and then who knows, make my way back slowly towards Canada; a few (long) pit stops in Europe wouldn’t hurt anyone. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration for movies in there somewhere.

 

 

Fundraiser Screening for HYPHEN

Presented by the Ottawa International Film Festival

Saturday, May 30, 7 pm to 11 pm

Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa

RSVP at hyphen-fundraiser.eventbrite.ca

Entry by donation

$20 at the door gets you a drink voucher

Island Park Distribution: Ottawa’s Newest Thread Barons

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This coming Friday, April 24th, a launch party of epic proportions will be going down at House of Common in Hintonburg. Beer will be supplied by Dominion City Brewing Co., beats by DJ Lamb Rabbit and Eric Roberts, and to fill your semi-inebriated hunger pains will be the Gongfu Bao Cart! Holy children-on-fire, can you say awesome?

Now, who are the ingenious devils responsible? Ladies and gents, they are called Island Park Distribution.

Island Park Distribution, if you haven’t heard, is a brand new apparel start-up by Ottawa natives Martin Conley-Wood and Richard Monette. The name comes from Ottawa’s own Island Park Drive in Westboro where the two friends grew up together only streets away. Their working manifesto is in the true spirit of free-range creativity, collaborative entrepreneurship, and cultural growth, focusing on creative integrity and respect.

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The concept is tried and true, but they’ve done a couple things to mix it up. Firstly, there are no restrictions or guidelines for the artists, they have complete creative control (I like to call it free-range creativity). Secondly, their artists actually get paid a fair wage with no hidden contract fees or charges; fifty percent of the profit from every t-shirt sale goes directly to the corresponding artist. If you are an artist or designer who wants to get involved send them a shout at islandparkdistribution@gmail.com.

Currently their product line consists of t-shirts, each design by a different artist, and a multitude of 5-panel hats. Plans for product expansion include tank tops for summer, sweaters come fall, and a continuous smorgasbord of fresh designs. They may have just started but by golly they have some fun things in store.

Photographs by John Finnigan Lin.

City Fidelia: Bringing Appreciation for Musicians in Ottawa

Photos by Martin Nombrado

When a huge portion of mainstream rap seems to have lost interest in elaborate lyrics, it’s a gratifying moment when you find a genuine rapper like City Fidelia. Montreal born City ‘Luigi’ Fidelia takes pride in writing lyrics that reach the heart and mind. He grew up in Brooklyn and later moved to Ottawa, where he studies Criminology and Business at Carleton University. He’s shared the stage with people like Casey Veggies, Obie Trice, Action Bronson, Bow Wow, Fabolous & A$AP Rocky. His new album, “A Pisces World” shows how much he’s grown musically and as an individual. Music has always been a constant in his life, no matter the location.

His father was a bassist who passed down a love for jazz, funk, and Haitian zouk. In his early years, City gained a passion for singing soul music with influences such as Usher and the Fugees. It was during primary school that he entered the world of rap, thanks to his older brother.

“I was raised, told at a young age to know better, because my bro was a cold fella. No doubt, but he showed me the ropes, jotted down notes every time he spoke. I took em in.”

You can tell a lot about a person by what inspires them. Passion must be fuelled by something. For Fidelia, motivation flows from the desire to make his friends and family proud and to make a positive impact on the world. He’s inspired by his strong mother, who he remembers took in kids out of the streets and helped them and musically, he’s inspired by his father.

His brother is a huge influence to him and his music; being the one to introduce him to the rap battle scene. “He’s one of the people that made me who I am today. I feel like (my brother) did everything I wasn’t supposed to do and that made me appreciate everything he said. You start to realize that some people have wise words for you and have made mistakes in order for you not to make those same mistakes.”

 “I know that we just met but I feel already connected, baby let me tell you all the things that you are blessed with.”

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It’s rare and beautiful when an artist supports his fans as much as they support him. City is set on helping people and becoming a better human being. What’s missing from the music scene now-days is substance. Especially in the mainstream media. While everyone is promoting strippers, weed and getting drunk on a Tuesday, there is a lack of credible content in the world of hip hop. We need more people to talk about real shit to open up to people through their music and talk about their struggle, because that is what people can relate to and that is what makes people respect an artist on a personal level.

His new album, built with heavy framework and filled with emotional style. From the subaquatic cover, to the slow but soothing instrumentals, this album will seduce and submerge you with powerful chords. The rhythms relaxes you yet let you feel its strings pull at your body to move along with it. With the serene flow of “All In”, the sentimental recording from his brother at the end of “Paɪsiːz World” and the menacing beats of “4 AM”, City reached another level with this album.

His ability to switch up the speed of his flow in “All In” bares a likeness to early Kendrick Lamar. Both artists can spit calculated rapid fire lines then ease into slower rhythms in such a way that you would think is second nature.

Stress Free” is one of those songs that throw back to old school R&B days that you can connect with but at the same time wind down to. Pro Bono, a personal track, was inspired by seeing his brother in court before going to jail. City was frustrated that he wasn’t able to help his brother get a better lawyer at that time. With the motivation of that situation, he expresses in the song that “even if I’m doing something for you for free, I’m giving you 110%.”

“Money comes and money goes, but all my homies on the payroll.”

Experiencing “A Pisces World” was a sort of pallet cleanser for me. The clean flowing songs wash away that familiar negativity often associated with rap. Fidelia takes a refreshing approach to his music and forms a deep connection with the lyrics. It’s City’s therapeutic way of expressing his thoughts, emotions and insecurities when he feels like he has no other outlet. Listening to the album is therapeutic too because we hear about a situation or a line that we connect with and don’t feel like we’re the only ones going through it. People who come from a similar background as the artist can relate to his songs as well as people that are the complete opposite of him. Even if your struggles don’t mirror his, you can still connect with the emotion he expresses in his music. Rhythms, rhymes and melodies are powerful when they can reach beyond just being a catchy tune. When they touch someone’s heart and soul is when you know you’re making a difference in someone’s life.

“I have people tell me to keep going because ‘you’re the inspiration for us.’” City told me about a girl that he normally wouldn’t expect would listen to his music, coming up to him after one of his shows. After telling him how his music spoke to her, broke into tears. “My approach to this life is that we’re all at the same level, we’re all the same people. When she started crying, I didn’t know how to react… I’ll never forget that moment.”

Letting his thoughts out on paper has helped City free his mind. He loves when he’s on stage, seeing people raising their hands in the air and singing along to his lyrics, he says; “That’s my high in life.”

“Every great man needs a back bone; good Feng shui when he back home.”

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Promoting education is also big for City. He was shocked when a fan asked him if he should drop out of school so he could be a rapper too. City quickly told him it would be the wrong thing to do, while another rapper may have said, “Sure go for it, follow your dreams!” without thinking of the consequences. Fidelia realizes that in order to gain knowledge and experience in life, school is necessary. You must first be educated in order to be able to teach other people. “I wish coming up that I had a rapper that I looked up to in the city to tell me, ‘you need to go to school first then do whatever you wanna do after.’ Parents can tell you but sometimes it takes that one person you look up to.”

In a city filled with politically minded people, it’s reassuring to know that talented, unique artists are breaking through the barriers and working hard to make a name for themselves. Ottawa isn’t exactly known for our musicians, let alone our rappers. The clubs and local radio stations don’t favour local artists. Often-times local artists are used as opening acts for more widely known musicians. It’s common for people to work a full time job while saving their passion for music as a hobby on the side. Creative minds prosper in places with similarly minded people. For this reason City last November, Fidelia decided to move to Toronto.

“To me, my heart is still in Ottawa; I’m just trying to find a way to climb the ladder in what I do and bring it back to the city.” His goal is to change local people’s perceptions on the music culture in Ottawa. If someone wants to be a doctor or a lawyer, that’s fine but if they want to be a musician, that career path should be given the same amount of respect in the community.”

“The city on my back man, something like Pac Man. Fellas gotta eat before we all get ate. Eight prison years, 8 bullets there, cause people in my city don’t really care. I just lost another fella rest in peace Jabber.”

“Places like Atlanta or Detroit, those types of cities, their artists have made it so big from the support of their cities. Once your whole city’s behind you, everyone wants to be a part of that; they want to know the story of that city.” In order to help Ottawa become more open minded about their musicians, City thinks it would take one artist to go out and make it big but then bring all the love back to the capital. This would open doors for a lot of other people to follow in the same footsteps, having someone to look up to. He wants to be that example for artists in Ottawa to follow and I think City Fidelia is the perfect role model for it.

Not only would it make Ottawa a place for more opportunities for creative thinkers, it would also help the economy. When the people are doing well, the wealth can be shared.

“It helps the economy in Ottawa. On a government scale, the more we do things like that, the more money the government makes.” The more we put into the city, the more we get out. City’s goal is to make Ottawa known on a bigger scale. He’s all about reaching people through his music and changing lives for the better. “I feel like that’s where I’m at right now. I see people appreciating (my music), and I’m not doing music to try to be the best at it, as long as I can connect with people, share my story and have fun.”

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He dreams of being nominated for a Juno in the near future and possibly even a Grammy later down the line but the man’s main focus is to make the people closest to him proud and spread a message. There’s too many people getting into music now who just want to be rich and famous. They follow in previous musicians’ footsteps because they want to become “the next Mariah Carey” rather than creating a fresh path. We need brave people like City Fidelia, who write about things people can actually relate to, such as the struggles they faced growing up with family, school and relationships. “Growing up in the projects, you see a lot of kids not doing things that they should do in life. When I’m around these kids or people, I feel like I motivate them to do better things in life. That’s what this album is about.”

A Pisces World will be released on iTunes April 28th.

Photography as Social Practice: Windows From Prison, by Mark Strandquist

Mark Strandquist is an artist and activist living and working in the Americas; his work is focused on themes of social justice, education, and connecting communities. Topically however his work centres around the prison system, incarceration, and those citizens behind bars we conveniently seem to forget. Recently, he travelled here from the States to bring us a manifestation of one of his many initiatives, Windows From Prison, which is an on-going project connecting inmates and students through photography and writing.

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While he was in town Mark was kept extremely busy. Thursday he presented an an artists talk at the University of Ottawa and, following, a work shop at City Hall; Friday marked the opening of Windows From Prison at La Petite Mort Gallery; and between all of the preparation work were two more collaborative projects with Spins & Needles, the School of Photographic Arts, and the Ottawa School of Art! If you were smart enough to visit La Petite Mort on the opening night you would have had the opportunity to grab yourself a limited edition print (see below), which came from one of the above collaborations.

The poster itself is a map of the United States, but what makes this map so interesting, and equally as disheartening, is that it denotes every single prison, jail, and detention centre – public and private – in the country. The number of institutions is shocking for many reasons, and is only driven home harder when you realize the map is lacking any borders typically illustrating the shape of the country. There are enough prisons in the United States of America that one can clearly make out the country itself. We need to ask ourselves some serious questions and do some serious soul searching.

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What kind of message is this? How and what does this reflect of Canada, and what does that mean? How many are private versus public? How many citizens have been arrested, detained, and incarcerated? Were the reasons just? Are they being treated fairly and with humanity? Do they have access to effective rehabilitation programmes, or programmes at all? I think the most important question we can ask ourselves as “free” citizens is: What can we do to reform the judicial and prison system?

Mark’s various projects take these questions and look for an answer, while offering support and creative outlets for inmates and their families on the outside. Windows From Prison, specifically, is a project in which inmates are asked, “If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?” Based on their response a group of volunteer high school or university students are sent into the field to that location to recreate it photographically. Once the image has been made the photograph is printed at standard size (4×6) and sent to the respective inmate for their personal use. The photographs are not printed any larger because of restrictions enforced by most prison facilities; it is for this reason that when the photographs are presented in an exhibition context they are not printed any larger than 4×6.

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The photographs are always shown with the matching letter, and while the originals are kept somewhere safe Mark and his team have generously printed postcard reproductions of the letters for visitors to read and take-away. The postcards are placed directly beneath their photographic partner, which themselves are at eye-level creating a quiet, intimate moment between oneself and the story before you. The letters are all incredibly moving and often poetic as the writer revisits their past and gives further explanation into the significance of what we see. Currently, this project has begun with the University of Michigan and with the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Accompanying Windows From Prison was another on-going project called Write Home Soon. Participants are given a fully blank postcard to illustrate and describe a place (physical or mental) that they have lost access to. Once the postcard has been created they are mailed to a participating organization, or the projects own mailing address. This project has been workshopped at over 40 different locations, which include prisons, shelters, retirement homes, and mental health clinics, as well as a myriad of publicly run facilities (libraries, museums, etc.).

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The show will be up until April 26th, and the gallery can be found at 306 Cumberland Street in the Byward Market.