FringeBlog

What’s your scene? Lit, food, arts, music, theatre, find out what’s happening in the city of churches.

  • GoldLink Brings The Bounce To Newspeak

    • Photo Julian McKenzie

    Ever since his debut EP “The God Complex” seemingly fell out of the sky, Washington, D.C-native rapper GoldLink has delighted listeners, including myself, with his musical style of “future bounce” while keeping an air of mystique regarding his physical appearance.

    Unlike Canadian R&B songbird, The Weeknd who channelled Michael Jackson while rarely showing his face at all in his early days of stardom, GoldLink only likes to give a taste of his true facial features. Even as you type his name on Google images, there aren’t many photos of him at all.

    On the album cover of The God Complex there is a mask, which has become a symbol, a part of GoldLink’s image. During the rapper’s interviews and photoshoots, he only shows at most half of his face whether through camera angles and tricks, even using his fingers to cover his face; never revealing too much of himself.

    This much is clear about GoldLink; he can create good music. He is among the young wave of talent looking to take over the music world. Being named on music magazine XXL’s Freshman List of 2015 is a testament to that.

    This past Saturday at Newspeak, formerly known as Cabaret Underworld, GoldLink took the stage. Unmasked. It isn’t the first time he’s done so, but it was slightly surreal to see the artist live in person, especially when they’ve gone out of their way to cover their face from their spotlight.

    GoldLink appeared on stage, surrounded by haze—I couldn’t tell if it was some kind of smoke machine or weed. The smell of marijuana didn’t overwhelm my nostrils so I wasn’t sure—and his own entourage, who couldn’t resist but throwing t-shirts into the crowd every so often. He was joined by opening acts Montrealers Louie P and his brother Kaytranada the latter of whom mostly stayed in the background.

    GoldLink began with Bedtime Story, a smooth but banging track that is far from a lullaby unless a Fatman Scoop sample can put you to sleep and had the venue bouncing from there. The set featured some cuts from The God Complex, but the rapper also performed newer tracks including Dance On Me, a track that could be a song of the summer.

    In addition, he appealed to the Montreal crowd by performing tracks like Sober Thoughts, produced by Kaytranada, as well as Funeral , a collaboration between him and The Celestics, Kaytranada and Louie P’s joint project.

    As a side note, P impressed as an opener/stopgap before GoldLink came onstage, despite having his computer crash at one point during his set. He had the help from Kaytranada, spinning in the background before Louie P himself took over, playing entertaining cuts and keeping the crowd in the palm of his hand.

    GoldLink’s set couldn’t have been longer than 30 minutes; maybe 40 if you’re generous. Louie P graced the stage for a much longer period of time. It was still long enough for even a casual observer to immerse and enjoy themselves into the world of bounce hip-hop, a subgenre that has dipped in and out of the mainstream.

    The only reason why its sound hasn’t completely dominated airwaves and music players in 2015 may be because it’s waiting for “Fetty Wap” to settle into the mainstream fabric before coming up to upstage him.

    After his set ended, GoldLink jumped off the stage and briefly interacted with fans. As a fan, I couldn’t help but approach the young upstart and congratulate him. I asked for a photo and he surprisingly obliged. As we posed for the photo, he had a finger over his face. Sure enough, GoldLink covered half his face, a trademark.

    After the photo, I thanked him again. He showed his appreciation by pounding his heart with his fist. He walked into the darkness of Newspeak, disappearing from the crowd and any photo opportunity that presented itself.

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Pinup

    Montreal’s Pinup Academy launched its first workshop to give hopefuls all the tips and tricks they’d need to become pinup bombshells on Saturday.


    Nineteen women gathered at Marisa Parisella’s photo studio in the Old Port to learn about makeup, vintage hairdos, pinup fashion, body image and how to pose like a pro. At the end of the event, the women got to put their knowledge to the test in a photoshoot with Parisella.

    “It’s an accessible form of glamour that all ages and all sizes can really accomplish without feeling the need to be tall, blonde, slim,” said Lori Morrison, founder of the academy.

    Morrison says the workshop was created in Toronto by Elle Rebel, the owner of Rosie the Rebel Boutique, which is a rockabilly, psychobilly and retro clothing retailer. In March, Morrison started to work on bringing the idea to Montreal.

    “I thought the idea was so fantastic and that it would translate very well to the Montreal market, so we [Elle Rebel & herself] worked together on that,” said Morrison.

    Here’s a taste of what happened at the workshop.

    Makeup with Audrey Ivory


    Audrey Ivory, a burlesque performer/producer, pinup model, hairstylist and makeup artist, kicked off the workshop by teaching attendees how to get the perfect pinup look.

    “I’m telling you what works for me,” said Ivory. “The more you use makeup, the more you’re going to find techniques that work for you.”

    The first step to a pinup ready face: foundation.

    “For photoshoots and the stage, water-based products like BB creams are generally not covering enough,” said Ivory. Her go-to foundation is Teint Idôle 24h by Lancôme, a liquid foundation with SPF that fixes on skin for a matte effect.

    Then there was contouring and concealing before moving on to creating winged eyes and red lips, a classic pinup look.

    Hairstyles with Alexandra Apple


    Next, attendees tried their hand at two hairstyles: curls à la Veronica Lake and victory rolls. Alexandra Apple, owner of Salon Unlistd on St. Laurent Blvd., along with her assistant Cassie, offered a hands-on approach to hairstyles that were somewhat tricky to achieve.

    The Veronica Lake is a multistep process. To get the look, part hair in six sections—two at the front and four at the back. Curl each section—starting with the first two—from root to tip. Once hair is curled and heated, curl it onto itself and secure the piece with bobby pins. Some women may need a touch of hairspray here and there to keep unruly hair in check. After some time, let the curls down and finalize with hairspray.

    Body image and style with Lavender May


    Lavender May, burlesque entertainer, pinup model, costume designer and vintage collector, spoke about body image and how to dress if there are certain parts of your body you want to camouflage. One by one, the women were asked to share which parts of their body they liked the most and which they liked the least. Most women agreed that they liked their bust the best. Attendees were not as unanimous in regards to the least favorite body part, which ranged from butts and thighs to bellies and arms.

    Handy tips:

    If you love your breasts, a heart-shaped collar with large straps that tie together at the nape of the neck will beautifully accentuate the bust.

    If you want to hide your belly or accentuate your waistline, high-waist clothing with frills will hide bulge and draw the eye to the waist. If you’re up for it, waist-training with a corset will also accentuate curves.

    May, who’s been sewing her own creations since she was eight, emphasized the importance dressing the way you like. “For me, it’s not just about wearing vintage clothes. As long as you like what you’re wearing and you feel sexy and confident, that’s pinup,” she said.

    Photoshoots and posing with HellCath


    For the last segment of the workshop, HellCath, a model with 10 years of experience under her belt, spoke about posing and knowing what to expect and how to behave during a photoshoot. HellCath, who specializes in pinup, had an extensive list of dos, don’ts and practical advice for the hopefuls:

    Dos

    • When posing, think about making triangles with your arms to create space between body and limbs; you’ll look less big.
    • Book your photoshoot early in the day or late, so you don’t have to deal with the full glare of the sun.
    • Study pinup photos from the 50s or whichever decade you want to emulate.
    • Be camera-ready: wax, shave, trim, dye your hair, paint your nails (toenails too)
    • During the shoot, move slowly to have a variety of poses of the same look.
    • PRACTICE
    • Prepare a CD mix to put you at ease during the shoot
    • Always have a back-up plan.

    Don’ts

    • Don’t do pinup for the money
    • Avoid anachronisms; a 50s look with a car from the 70s is just a bad idea.
    • Don’t look too far away from the camera if you’re going for that ‘looking away look’—all the camera will see are the whites of your eyes
    • Avoid that ‘oops’ look (you know the one, where you feign surprise and put a hand to your lips) gratuitously. Better yet, just don’t use it. Why? Because often, contextually, it doesn’t make sense.
    • When shooting, don’t use your favorite outfit first—keep it for later as you may not be completely comfortable at the beginning of the shoot.

    When all was said and done, Audrey Ivory, donning a pink dress that matched a large, pink-glazed plastic donut on her head, performed a playful burlesque set in honour of the snack. After her performance, attendees changed into dresses, re-touched their makeup, fixed their hair and ended the workshop with the opportunity to test what they learned in a photoshoot with Parisella.

    For those who may want to try their hand at pinup modelling, Morrison says the Pinup Academy’s next workshop is being planned for the end of August.

  • Randomness and Determination

    • Photo courtesy the Black Theatre Workshop.

    The lights go black; the room falls silent. Quiet sounds fade in, and white lights illuminate the actress sitting at centre stage on a wooden chair. The red lights behind her glisten, and the ambiance becomes somber. She begins her lines in a clear voice, heavy with a British-Jamaican accent.

    A young Black woman tells her story in the present tense, taking us through morning until afternoon. Her alarm clock goes off, and she unwillingly heads downstairs long after she finally feels awake.

    Her daily routine begins—breakfast, school, classroom casualties. But by afternoon, what seemed to be a normal day turns out to be anything but normal. She rushes home to find policemen in her home, speaking to her parents about her brother.

    One play—12 different characters—all played by one actor, Lucinda Davis.

    A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Random is a story of frequent racist shootings that took place in London over several years roughly a decade ago. The script, written by Debbie Tucker Green in 2007, made its first stage appearance in London in 2008 at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre.

    The play was presented by Black Theatre Workshop, and ran from March 18 to April 4 at the MAI theatre in Montreal. The director, Micheline Chevrier, first heard of the play over a dinner conversation with a friend who resides in London, and found it to be impressionable.

    “You can’t follow through with a play like this without an actor already in mind,” said Chevrier during a question period.

    And it’s true. To be capable of playing 12 characters in one hour is impressive. The piece was highly focused on the performance aspect. Davis was able to seamlessly shift in and out of a diverse set of characters without confusing the audience.

    It became nearly impossible to not get hooked into the world of the play and follow each step of the story with her. The repeated mention of time was an element that helped, as well as the on-point sound effect cues throughout, suggesting different scenes or times of day.

    It was exciting to see Davis jump into different accents and drastically change her body language to portray each character. She went from sitting up straight with a young girl’s voice to slouching down in her chair with her legs apart joking like a cockamamie boy.

    Her accuracy was humorous at times and truly believable, especially when she played the mother. The mannerisms, accent and emotion of the character were brilliantly captured.

    The setting was intimate, with the audience sitting on stands surrounding the front of the stage. We were crammed in so tight that you felt bad for breathing on someone, let alone move. At about 20 minutes in, the room was a sauna. This was exactly what Chevrier wanted.

    “It’s really the storyteller that is showcased here and I never wanted to take anything away from that,” she said. She knew that people would be forced to listen and focus in on the acting.

    Although this play was well-performed, the story lacked originality. Perhaps the fact that it was about an abnormal situation rising out of a normal day was what did it. From the very beginning, the outcome of the story was predictable. It was so forcefully unexpected that it was expected. Nothing too outstanding set this story apart from others, and it seemed like it had been told too many times, whether in the news, in documentaries or in short stories.

    The sound effects, rhythmic pacing and script did help with comprehension of the story, but they also seemed to give away the essence of it. At 7:45 a.m. this happens and then at 10:15 a.m., this happens—something bad was bound to be in store.

    In the end, the single-actor factor is what set this play apart. The Black Theatre Workshop did a good job executing this project, spreading awareness of prejudice and the long-term impacts of acts of violence and racism, as they usually do quite well. However, the final resolution was predictable.

    Random rests on the laurels of a terrific performer. Davis shines bright in this piece, and she carried the story with success.

  • I Do Love This, I Will Not Go Outside

    I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Earl’s third full-length to date, continues the upward swing the L.A. native has been cultivating since he and Odd Future first exploded on the scene in early 2010. His latest release is at once a fleshing out of the musical motifs and lyrical themes that make Earl so mesmerizing and accessible. Still representing a huge step forward, it is for certain the most intimate, personal piece he’s yet released.

    I Don’t Like Shit is tight, but more than being tight, it’s loose. Tight lyrics, tight beats, tight final product. The production, however, and the structure, are as loose as it gets — more jazz than R&B, though it’s very R&B, reminiscent of Shades of Blue and Madvilliany.

    Earl is almost scatting, giving us little in the way of concrete melody. Gone are the days of simplistic hooks or leaning on trapish simplism. Instead, what Sweatshirt offers is at once brutally honest, incredibly hard and flowing like butter— and at times enveloping and totally aural in its atmosphere, an amalgamation of the wavy, dreamy sense of a Flying Lotus track, with the mindful control of Sweatshirt through it all.

    You won’t find more interesting juxtaposition of jazz elements, R&B and trap offered in a more riveting way so far this year. Everything about this record causes obsession — Sweatshirt’s intonation, the math nature of the beats — everything. Odd time signatures abound, with never a predictable moment, Earl switching easily amongst several different analog and digital recording techniques.

    An analog feel certainly wins out, though, with a tape hiss between most tracks, and the beats occasionally sounding as if underwater, juxtaposed with Earl’s signature keyboard melodies and modulated harmonies. The final product feels like it was made to played on vinyl, just like an MF Doom record.

    Despite all of that, though, what shines through the most on I Don’t Like Shit is the genuine honest nature of it all. The lyrics, the intonation, the passion — Earl is not fucking around on this record.

    Even for Earl, who is definitely known for his Real with a capital R lyricism, I Don’t Like Shit is on a new level; lyricism, delivery, mechanics, themes and all. A verse that stands out especially is from track 3, Faucet, which concerns Sweatshirt’s disassociation with his home, and his mother, before he left for Samoa:

    Fuck out my face while I’m thinking.
    Ain’t step foot up in my momma’s place for a minute.
    My days numbered.
    I’m focused heavy on making the most of ‘em.
    I feel like I’m the only one pressin’ to grow upwards.
    It’s still fuck you and whoever you showed up with.
    Just trying to see an end and some steadier hands.

    That kind of intimacy is maintained, expanded on, throughout the record. And what’s more, it’s fucking hard, and it stays fucking hard. So imagine that — an amalgamation of Madlib’s analog beat feels, with the atmosphere of darker wave-trap like Night Lovell, and the hard honesty and delivery Earl gives us so well.

    Holy shit, man. Honestly, this record is fantastic. Do yourself a favor: Buy this record and go see Earl.

    Make the right decision: Catch Earl Sweatshirt with Vince Staples and Remy Banks at Corona on April 15th, 8pm.

  • Changing Islands, Keeping the Roots

    • Reggae artist Face-T premiered his newest release EP1 this month.

    As uncommon as it may sound, Reggae artist Face-T, though raised in Jamaica, was actually born on Canadian soil and moved to Jamaica early on. He grew up on the west side of the Caribbean island in a small village of only 500 people. It was in Montreal, however, that Face-T started making music professionally.

    “I didn’t really need to in Jamaica”, he explained. “Music in Jamaica is everywhere 24/7; you’re just hanging around and there’s a beat, someone around the table starts with a verse and it just goes on.”

    Growing up, like most of us, he would listen to his parents’ music from the 1970s and ‘80s, but what really caught his attention was what played on the radio. “There would be different sounds and new types of music, amazing artists like U-Roy started appearing,” Face-T said. “U-Roy created a mix between rap and reggae and used very explicit lyrics, which was uncommon for Christian Jamaica, and as youngsters we were freaking out, we adored it”.

    The thing Face-T and his youngster friends were freaking out about was something that came to reggae at the end of the 1970s. It was digital rhythm, and it exploded onto the reggae scene, creating new possibilities and changing the genre forever.

    “Once you start getting into reggae music, the possibilities are endless,” said Face-T. “Jamaica produces the most music per capita; it’s incredible”.

    As the reggae/dancehall scene exploded around the world, Face-T credits its fast circulation and growth to the Internet, enabling people from all over the world to partake in the genre’s evolution.

    “Now you can go to a concert in France and they know all the lyrics, they know the artist and their history—it’s just crazy how many people find out,” he said.

    In a way, Face-T admits that this has also made it harder for him to keep in touch with the Jamaican local scene. There’s just so much going on and from all sorts of places. “Now there are amazing Reggae artists from Scotland, Poland, France, all over,” he said.

    For the Canadian-born star, this new diversity isn’t concerning. “My music is not for Reggae purists because the aim is not necessarily to create untainted Reggae but rather something I love that is original,” he said.

    Face-T has no need for the typical stereotypes or labels; he wants to embrace every musical genre. He believes it’s interesting to meet people from all backgrounds and finds it extremely encouraging to see how many of them are interested in collaborating with reggae artists.

    “Music should come naturally, but I think when you do music or paint or write, or any kind of artistic expression, to [be able to] keep on expressing yourself, you have to observe around you, take it in and put it back out,” Face-T said. He emphasized the need to keep ourselves aware of our surroundings; we shouldn’t watch TV, he said, but rather get out, travel and meet people.

    Face-T will be premiering his new record, EP1, at Le Belmont on Friday, March 27. His warm, fun dancehall sounds filled with Caribbean beats and catchy lyrics will have you hooked in little time.

    “My message often resonates within reggae’s main themes, such as love, unity and peace, but my aim is to get people in Canada to become more aware and open up to what’s going on in the rest of the world,” he said.

    Face-T’s music acknowledges the political, social and economic discrepancies that exist between Canada and Jamaica. “It’s important to be aware of all the privileges that come with being born in a rich country,” Face-T told The Link, “but usually it’s hard to get that right away.”

    As the reggae artist explained, when he moved to Jamaica in 1979 there was an embargo on the country and a lot of internal rioting. “All there was on the shelves was sugar, flour, and rice,” he said. “People had nothing, no toys, no toothpaste, no nothing.”

    Moving back to Canada at the age of sixteen shocked Face-T. It felt like “another world.”

    Going from such poverty to a place like Montreal was very jarring, Face-T said, and it caused him to be acutely aware of the importance of balance between excess and scarcity—only if we realize that our society and our types of living are the root of this problem can we start to make the necessary changes.

    Face-T describes the Montreal Reggae scene as separated in two categories. The divide is mainly between anglophones from Côte-des-Neiges or Lasalle—who are mainly Jamaicans and Caribbeans—and guys from Montreal like RiddimWise who do productions and organize evenings in the Plateau that tend to be more open to a general public.

    The latter might not be “pure” reggae music, but it gives you a taste of today’s culture.
    “This scene has changed a lot with the increase of French immigration to the Plateau,” Face-T said. “It’s been growing and evolving; more and more French people come to the evening shows.”

    An increasing amount of small Montreal venues are closing down, causing greater synthesis of styles in the bigger venues around town. Face-T argued that this makes it harder and harder for small artists to perform since there’s no venue available to them.

    “I’m very lucky because I have no problem organizing a show, but it can be almost impossible for upcoming artists!” he said. “Venues cannot be confined to the Quartier des Spectacles – it needs to be around the whole city.”

    Face-T would love to see more support from different pillars of the government. Montreal’s culture is not confined, he said; it’s very open and therefore its music scene should be too.
    “That’s why we love Montreal: the mix of cultures—it shows up in the music and more generally in the music scene,” Face-T said. “People from all over the world can appreciate it.”