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Why Alejandro Garcia Contreras Rules by Scott McGovern

Alejandro Garcia Contreras

Alejandro Garcia Contreras

Alejandro is a dark priest of visual culture of the highest order. His unique vision resonates no matter what medium he uses, never compromised or fumbling. He samples thousands of years of human artifacts to blend the ancient with the contemporary, across cultures, geography, and religion, in a quest to find the essence of the human spirit. Images of magic, symbols, and nature are mixed with mainstream and trash culture to reconfigure ideas, casting beams of light on new possibilities and truths, ultimately questioning what we value.

Alejandro is from Chiapas, arguably the most unique and independent state in Mexico, and home to several indigenous groups, languages, and traditions. He spends most of his time there at the DEDAZO artist residency he runs (currently accepting applications!) but can sometimes be found in Mexico City, Los Angeles, Europe, and even Canada.

Every breath he takes and every decision he makes is for the purpose of creating his next project. He’s a particularly talented ceramist who is always learning new techniques, pushing his own boundaries, and both honours and destroys traditions at once. He knows that to make serious artwork, you also have to have fun. The viewer is provoked into discovering new ideas, instead of coddling the opinions they already have. He’d probably get kicked out of most art programs at Canadian universities for being too offensive, but personally I’m far more insulted by boring art that looks like yesterday’s reheated aesthetics.

I research a lot of artists, but Alejandro just kept appearing to me through no effort of my own. Images of his work have been showing up on my computer screen for years. I feel like it wasn’t a choice to end up working with him but more just something that the universe wanted to make happen. Recently, I had the honour to finally meet him when I was in Mexico City, and I felt like I was meeting one of my heroes. He is truly a alchemist of visual culture, and that’s why he rules.

Scott McGovern is the Program Director of Ed Video Media Arts Centre, is on the Board of Directors for Kazoo! Fest and the curator of the ‘Present Rituals’ exhibition.

Check out Alejandro Garcia Contreras three digital prints on canvas and one Super8 film in the ‘Present Rituals’ exhibition at Kazoo! HQ.


Why U.S. Girls Rules by Chris Worden

U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls? Holy moly, now there’s a show. I’ve been a fan for about 9 years or so, I guess. I’ve seen U.S. Girls when it was just Meg Remy and a bunch of analog gear in a suitcase, singing “Red Ford Radio” and “So Ladder Strong“. I’ve felt her big voice barreling downhill through a hypnotized audience, from the sparsely-lit outdoor stage and into the darkness of the woods beyond. It sure as heck made an impression on me. Only a year after that, I saw U.S. Girls as a full band for the first time. She played in the driving rain of a thunderstorm that tried and failed to show her up. I heard people talk about that for weeks afterwards.

Meg provides a weird, new angle on all our shared musical history. Different elements resonate with different people. Driving around with my mom when I was tiny, it was The Supremes, The Crystals, The Shangri-Las, Lesley Gore – that was the stuff that got turned up loud between commercials on 1460 CJOY, and which consequently burned itself into my brain. In part, U.S. Girls represents the logical evolution of the work done by these artists, as well as the rest of the best pop music from the past 60 years. She’s got a long view of the history behind her sound, and it gives her a clarity of vision and purpose for the road ahead that is darn impressive. That’s what happens when you take more than half a century of accumulated musical history and focus it on a tiny point, I guess. You become a laser, and you get to help burn the new path.

That forward motion is what U.S. Girls is all about. Meg is all progress, no backslide. U.S. Girls just keeps getting better. There are no dips. Near as I can tell, it’s more or less just been a straight climb these past 9 years. At any given U.S. Girls show, what you’re seeing is one of the best performers in Canada at the peak of her powers. That’s what you’re going to get at Kazoo! Fest this year. You’re so lucky.

Chris Worden is a musician (Natural Thirst, Baby Cages, Wolfcow), festival director (Electric Eclectics), and Kazoo! Board Member. He sure likes U.S. Girls.

Catch U.S. Girls at Kazoo! Fest 2017 on Thursday April 8th with Cold on Pluto and OBUXUM @ eBar.


Why LA Timpa Rules by Elliott Vincent Jones

LA Timpa

“Who the fuck is this kid and why am I so intrigued by him” is what I said when I first saw my friend Timpa strut down Kensington Market a couple summers back. Hair cooler and bigger than mine. Shoe heels taller than me. Outfits I could never pull off but only wish I could. Baby is shy… humble… and thankful for everything around him BUT with an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude AND determination to make odd music without anyone telling him what to do or how to do it.

The music just adds to an already impressive package and, for me, there’s something very nostalgic about the soundscapes he creates. I hear elements of everything that got me into music in the first place. I hear film, I hear Korine, I hear Lynch, I hear big empty dark spaces, I hear crowded alienating urban life and I hear pure youthful experimentation — music made by a young man who gets it.

I’m excited for what he’s got down the pipeline next. LA Timpa is the anti-artist. Futuristic love boy. Feel him. Love him. Hate him.

Elliott Vincent Jones is an Toronto-based musician who currently performs as Elliott Vincent Jones and previously made music with Ell V Gore. A Guelph ex-pat, Jones has played in local bands such as Brides, The Meat and Tamsen & Elliott.

Catch LA Timpa at Kazoo! Fest 2017 on Friday April 7th with YlangYlang, Ice Cream and Persons @ ANAF.


Why Emily Pelstring Rules by Mike Deane

Emily Pelstring’s work makes me want to be a more involved and evolved human being. It makes me want to know more about video art, art history, feminist theory, technology, and the world in general. I’m completely blown away on a visceral and intellectual level whenever I see Emily’s work, but I’m also left feeling like there will always be layers to discover – like, no matter how much I learn, I will always be a few steps behind Emily’s big brain.

But this can also be a good thing: because when there’s so much going into every piece, even a video art ignoramus and casual college film theory burnout is able to walk away completely satisfied.

I would talk about Emily’s dance performances and, indeed, one of my first memories of her was Emily nailing a live performance of the dance from Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”, but am not sure I have the vocabulary to really do justice to the skill and choreography. I would talk of her installation and musical performances with The Powers, but I fear I wouldn’t be able to fully explain their advanced and humorous exploration of the occult, contemporary feminism, consumer culture, and art itself (though I will say the skeleton body dance is both a mind fuck and hilarious.) And I could try to explain Emily’s installations, but I think you’d do much better to go see the incredibly appealing and innovative multimedia structures currently on display at Kazoo! HQ – like much of what Emily does, they are deftly crafted, visually impressive, somewhat funny, and are imbued with an originality and thoughtfulness rarely seen (when setting up, the artist helping Emily with the installation remarked “I could never think of something like this; my mind just doesn’t work that way,” and I knew exactly what they meant). So where does this leave us?

Emily’s music videos are perfectly paced pieces, and highly involved affairs, mixing heightened aesthetics with advanced DIY, giving them a professional and personal feel at the same time. The shimmering lights, smokey production, glammed-up Midwestern “Heart of Glass” feel of the U.S. Girls’ “Jack” video, the retro creeped out belly dancing Maddin-vibed “Wild Love” video by The Pink Noise, or the stop motion puppet animation of Yamantaka Sonic Titan’s “Hoshi Neko” all differ wildly, but at their heart is a technically proficient perfectionist creating something that has hints of nostalgia, but goes so far beyond anything it nods to.

Emily’s videos deliver on every level: they are masterfully crafted pieces that would impress any video art auteur, they are packed with meaning that could busy a media or gender studies major, and they can entertain anyone from a stoned teenager to a high-art snob. Whenever someone brings up video art, music videos, or anything to do with video cameras, I will always bring up Emily Pelstring, because I think everyone can get into what she creates. As heady as her work can be, it’s often hilarious, and just looks fucking cool. Go see her work at Kazoo! HQ and when she does projections for U.S. Girls on Thursday night.

Mike Deane is a member of the Kazoo! Fest programming committee and the President of the Board of Directors.

Catch Emily Pelstring‘s work at Kazoo! HQ (127 Woolwich Street) as part of Present Rituals throughout the festival. Emily is also doing visuals for U.S. Girls on Thursday April 6th @ eBar.


Why LAPS Rule by Adam Sturgeon


Hailing from a scene dominated by blues, garage, and folk-rock, LAPS are a throwback to mid-’90s/early 2000s Canadian math rock. This band recaptures the sounds previously dominated by men, by cityscapes and pretensions. But their math rock renaissance is defined by their own peculiar differences…

Sure, LAPS drop hook-laden time changes quickly and with striking contrast, skillfully inheriting their lineage, but with a decisive intervention: vocals, at times baroque and theatrical, delivered by one Heather Ogilvie, vintage clothing boutique owner and humble songwriting genius. Setting course for her songs on the 9 & 3’s is her band of gentlemen, consisting of youth prodigy Tate Lejeune on his untuned and jangly left-handed guitar, all-around good guy Cedric Noel methodically and “simply” owning the low end, and rounded out by Cuzn’ Scotty, forever counting on the kit.

Launching their public profile the right way: with a live video session in their hometown of Fredericton, LAPS recently transplanted to Montreal and have just begun to dip their toes into the possibilities of their complete and whole togetherness. Admirably, they have been charting a path all their own – their sound set adrift and defined by their relative isolation from their hometown; the barren shores of the Northside of the Saint John River’s (lesser but more accurately known as the Wolostoq), juxtaposed with the churches, monuments and general hustle and bustle of the South. LAPS are a shimmering hint on the water’s geometrical edges, an undertow of artistic measures, and current of electrical differentiation.

Adam Sturgeon is an Anishinabek artist, musician, avid screen printer, grassroots community builder and an advocate for Indigenous rights, social change and the strengthening of one’s identity within a cultural context. Currently based in London, Ontario, Adam fronts WHOOP-Szo and is a core organizer behind the Grickle Grass Festival.

Catch LAPS at Kazoo! Fest 2017 on Friday April 7th with Badminton Racquet, Century Egg and Eyeballs  @ eBar.