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Why Faith Healer Rules by Jarrett Samson

Faith Healer

Look, let’s face it: Bands. Who needs ’em? Mine included. It feels like there’s 3 bands for every 1 person in Canada. People have been playing instruments on a stage for years now. YEARS! Look at how many people have traded their squire jaguar in for 1/8 of the cost of licensing ableton software. Are they right to do it? …mmmaybe?

No, they are wrong. Bands are good. Band are relevant. Faith Healer is the proof.

Faith Healer is one of those bands where the sum of its parts somehow add up to way more than you could ever expect. Their records sound almost timeless, like they could have been made any time in the last 40 years and you’d believe it. (In fact, the dial-tone that opens Try 😉 might make you more inclined to disbelieve that it came out in 2017). These records are things I listen to and I love them and then I get angry because why can’t I make something this good? Who do they think they are? But then I feel fine again when I remember that I get to listen to them again and again and again until I’m even older and crankier than I am now.

The songwriting. Jeeze. There are so many bands (again, mine included) where you hear them and go “oh, they really like this band.” Someone loves This Heat, someone else is into Black Flag, etc etc etc. I have absolutely no idea what records Faith Healer listened to, what music inspired or drove Jessica to write these songs.

They stand between genres in this thin space that allows a listener to just subtly nudge them into whatever category might make them feel most comfortable with enjoying it yet at no time can that audience limitation truly limit the music. I mean, does this sound like AM radio hits or savage Can jams? Doesn’t that solo kind of sound like Boston, or is it Television? What band can I compare them to in my 300 word review if they don’t explicitly spell it out for me?!?

How does this all work? Well, it works because it doesn’t sound like any of those things. It sounds like Faith Healer.

Live, the band is on fire every time I see them, not a hair out of place (except for Renny’s as he hams up his solos) and composed of some of the all-time MVPs of the last decade in Canadian music. It’s ‘tight’, but not in the way you passively say to a band who let you use their drums but you hated their set, nor is it tight in a regimented, bland, over-rehearsed and sterile way– it’s tight because the whole band is playing with each other, knows how to play with each other, and (I’m hoping/assuming) LIKE playing with each other. It’s all I want out of seeing a band these days. It’s great music made by great people. I feel privileged to know them, to share a label with them, and to get to have this music in my life and in my ears and eye line pretty often.

All that being said, scheduling is leaving me unable to see them play at Kazoo! Fest, so someone let me know how it is. I bet it’s pretty good.

Jarrett Samson is the leader singer and guitarist for Tough Age, who will be performing at Kazoo! Fest 2018 on Friday, April 13th at ANAF (32 Gordon St.)

Faith Healer plays at Kazoo! Fest 2018 on Thursday April 12th with Elle Barbara’s Black Space and Alpaca Nachos at eBar (41 Quebec St.)

faithhealer.bandcamp.com

Why MAS AYA Rules by Nick Dourado

Photo by Paz Ramirez Larrain

MAS AYA

ok so here’s what i like ~ generosity.

i remember brandon in so many ways but first and foremost it is this way, giving, caring and present. incredible qualities for a percussionista or any kind of music maker. i remember being introduced eagerly by pals when he came thru to hali’s obey convention years ago with notthewindnottheflag. i had the whole afternoon to present all kinds of improvising music and i remember that colin and brandon were there for almost all of the four hours or so. and like the spirit of the true jazz giant, within the hours of meeting, brandon and colin came to play and i felt brandon’s voice through his hands from the drum ~ and this preface is to let you know how prepared and grateful i am to speak on mas aya and brandon and generosity and also how necessarily i must use this public platform to thank brandon. brandon, my pal. thank you.

i’ve haphazardly toured around the country in discomfort and one of the things i remember about brandon is how grateful i am to see him, light one up and share treasures from the crown of music. how many borrowed drum kits and favours and care-taking gestures i personally am indebted to this kind man is many and i know this sentiment is shared by all of his truly numerous illustrious collaborators.

i remember brandon from the stage of the polaris music prize and i was one of few people who could feel the pressure on him when all the monitors turned off and his drum was still deep into the pocket of the electronic sounds echoing around a deep theatre and still if you watch the video i’m sure you would not know unless i told you. i remember brandon’s convicted reassurance that no outcome at an award show would or could influence the speaking to the spirit that is our work. i remember brandon taking care of business and otherwise i remember brandon smiling and pouring another one in the hot tub.

i also remember clearly the first time i put on “nikan” and was again reminded that the collaborative spirit is always alive and well in the servants of music; and i remember feeling often with mas aya the same spirit that lido pimienta furiously reseeds into the musical landscape. as our ears decide it is time to assess our insecurities around our ancientness ~ we have a home in a new generation of popular artists that can see themselves a million years old.

my insider scoop is that mas aya is ultimately this spirit at work. something that is resiliently ancient and drilled with joyful discipline into the present. i don’t know what the yaks who text thru concerts get out of instruments crafted from and resonating thru the earth but i remember the first time i heard brandon touch a drum and i hear it every single time. honestly, i think the world of music is pretty confused about risk taking and spontaneous music and what it is to always be prepared. please do not heap your expectation on mas aya. just understand that someone who is observant and near the explosions of new music can bring you, tenderly, a new perspective. trust mas aya, y’all. please..

Nick Dourado is a Halifax-based engineer, artist and multi-instrumentalist involved with BUDI, Century Egg, Beverly Glenn-Copeland & Indigo Rising and Special Costello to name a few. Dourado will be performing at Kazoo with BUDI on Friday, April 13th at Kazoo! HQ (127 Woolwich St.), with Special Costello on Saturday, April 14th at 10C (42 Carden St.) and as part of Beverly Glenn-Copeland & Indigo Rising on Saturday, April 14th at Dublin United Street Church (168 Glasgow St W.)

MAS AYA plays at Kazoo! Fest 2018 on Friday April 13th with Castle If at Silence (46 Essex St.)

masayamasaya.bandcamp.com

Why WHOOP-Szo Rules by Andrea Patehviri

Photo by Penelope Stevens

WHOOP-Szo

Society has been experiencing a bit of a seismic shift over the past few years. We’re starting to realize shit’s fucked and there’s no excuse left to be complacent. Cause if you’re comfortable, then you’re probably part of the problem. For some of us, it’s been a new process of learning and unlearning, teaching and holding each other accountable, but fortunately there are those who’ve been at it much longer that we can look to and learn from. Enter WHOOP-Szo.

Since their debut in 2009, they’ve always approached their art as a way to heal. With Sturgeon’s Indigenous background and the band’s aim to connect with Indigenous communities all across North America, marginalized voices are always situated at the centre of what they do, even if how they do it has changed. It’s an amazing thing thing to go through WHOOP-Szo’s discography and witness their progression from the dreamy psych-folk of nearly a decade ago, to the sludgy, fuzzed out, loud-as-hell band they are today.

WHOOP-Szo is a band that commands the room. They’re not the kind of band you can talk through at the back of the bar. They have a lot to say and they want you to hear it, so when you’re at one of their shows, you’re going to listen. They’re not afraid to challenge you and make you feel uncomfortable, and that’s what good, socially-conscious art should be doing. Cause it’s only when we’re uncomfortable that we’re willing to change.

There’s a transformative process that happens when you listen to WHOOP-Szo’s music. The places they’ve visited help shape much of the music they write, and their shifting melodies evoke the natural landscapes in which they were written, one moment calm and pensive, and the next, crescendoing into a cacophonous furor. Their music is bigger than the spaces they’re performed in, and we’re transported with the band right to the source of where their stories are from. They bridge the gap between the communities listening to their music and the communities informing their music, demonstrating that the “us” and “them” distinction doesn’t really exist. We’re all in this together, and if one of us is hurting, then we’re all hurting.

We need bands like WHOOP-Szo now more than ever. They inspire self-reflection while generously sharing what they’ve learned to create fertile new grounds for cultural understanding and healing. I can’t imagine a band more suited to playing a community music festival than one who always keeps community at the heart of all they do.

Andrea Patehviri is the Marketing & Outreach Coordinator at CFRU 93.3 FM as well as a Kazoo! Fest board member and part of the year-round and festival programming committee.

WHOOP-Szo plays at Kazoo! Fest 2018 on Saturday April 14th with Beverley Glenn-Copeland at Dublin Street United Church (68 Suffolk St. W.)
Tickets for this performance are available HERE.

thenoisymountain.bandcamp.com

Why Ken Ogawa Rules by Clara Venice

I once asked Ken how he shaves his moustache so incredibly perfectly. (It’s perfect. Trust me: You have never seen more immaculate facial hair EVER.) He just looked at me and said, “Oh I don’t shave it. I pluck it.”

My bunny, Kiki Shobun, is Ken’s BFF. Whenever I’m on tour or out of town for any length of time, Kiki goes to Uncle Ken’s house and you would not imagine the adventures they have together. Although I always miss Kiki when I’m away, I look forward Ken’s updates letting me know how they’re spending their time: he builds her beautiful playhouses and habitats, he once constructed a tiny, bunny-sized book, and thanks to Ken, Kiki now has a profound love of David Lynch films.

The best thing about collaborating with Ken is that he always interprets my ideas in ways I would never imagine. I am obsessed with cute things, as is Ken; but his representation of cuteness always comes with an edge which ensure that the visuals he creates are never sickly the way North American “cuteness” can appear childish. Ken’s designs are instead “child-like” and sweet, but always retain that element of darkness or the threat of fear

lurking somewhere close, like the monster in our closet. Here’s my new website design by Ken Ogawa.

To say that Ken is quiet is an understatement, and yet people often mistake this taciturnity for shyness. It’s taken me years to see that Ken isn’t shy, it’s just that he respects the silence and does not see it as something that should make us uncomfortable. In fact, Ken is always happy to break the silence, but only if he has something worth interrupting it for.

Ken was born and raised in Japan, and he is fluent in Japanese. The last time I went on tour in Tokyo I brought home several Japanese fashion magazines and a new generation Tamagotchi that only speaks Japanese. Ken patiently translated several articles for me (my favourites were a makeup tutorial on ‘How to Achieve 3D Eyes’, and a dating column, ‘Beware of Snake Man’) and my Tamagotchi instructions. Thanks to him I managed to raise three generations of virtual pets. Ken is a really good friend.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ken’s mother; a beautiful, statuesque, blonde Italian woman – who moved to Japan after marrying Ken’s father (a Japanese martial artist) and has been there since. Learning that Ken is half Japanese and half Italian explained so much of his design aesthetic; the combination of beautiful, hand-drawn images and bold graphic design hinting at Italian futurism. His craftsmanship is beyond reproach. Ken is the utmost synthesis of both of these aesthetically rich cultures.

On Ken’s CV, after his impressive education, work history, and numerous awards (for which he never brags, of course) he lists his volunteer activity: dog walker.

When I found out that Ken is vegan I asked what his favourite restaurant is, and he replied “I really like Wayne Gretzky.”

Because Ken develops websites and is so up to date with all the technological advancements and devices, you’d expect that he would always have the newest gadgets on the market, but Ken still uses his trusty iPhone 4. The other day he came over and took it out of his pocket; it was inside a ziplock bag. “What’s that?” I asked. “Oh, that’s my new phone case,” he replied.

Ken makes some of the most brilliant animations I have ever seen. Despite having access to powerful software to simplify his process, Ken continues to animate frame-by-frame. This painstaking attention to detail is what makes his work so powerful, regardless of genre, and this is why I love it so much. Everything he creates – illustrations, websites, print layouts, branding, logos – makes tangible the soul of this most wonderful, unique, and talented person.

Kazoo! Fest alumni Clara Venice creates ethereal, dream pop music using an array of instruments inspired by her classical music training and her life as a 21st century pop princess.  She has performed around the world alongside her hologlamorous video personas, opening for the Violent Femmes, Rough Trade, Carole Pope and BNL.

Ed Video and Kazoo! Fest present YKMSNTR by Ken Ogawa, featuring a new animation with a soundtrack by Clara Venice. The work will be up from April 7th to 28th 2018 at Capacity 3 Gallery (6 Dublin Street S.) where there will also be a reception on Sunday April 15 from 10am – 1pm.

kazookazoo.ca/art-more/ykmsntr-by-ken-ogawa

Why No Boys Rule by Will Wellington

No Boys

What is it that rises in my chest when I listen to No Boys (or noboys, or noboyz420), the jangly, jazzy Guelph quartet of singer Jon St. Michael, guitarist Emily Reimer, bassist Anne-Marie Walters, and drummer Trevor Cooke? Not a feeling, but a curious mingling of feelings. Ecstasy and longing. Euphoria and loss.

Let’s call it love — but not love like windswept hair and roses clenched in teeth. Jon St Michael even jokes about musicians who peddle that kind of love on the demo for “Secongary,” a shuffling, sad, sexy number about love over long distances: “Shiiiiiit … rockin’ with you smooth,” he purrs.

Jon and his crew have tapped into something even sweeter. Through their splendid blend of humour and heartbreak, they get at the real, plain, everyday feeling of deep affection and attachment that you develop over time for the people you eat, sleep, fight, shoot the shit, and play music with — love, but the kind of love that sneaks up on you, that you often only notice when it’s gone.

It helps that so many of their songs are about the love between friends, like “Brandon” and “Antonio,” both named after their real-life subjects. “Brandon” manages to capture the unique melancholy of growing apart from a friend without a whiff of bitterness, honouring love and lack simultaneously. “I never had the heart to ask / It seems it’s for the best … And you know I love you / As I said I would,” sings Jon.

“Antonio” is even more unusual, a song composed of inside jokes between roommates, goofy phrases like “You’re the master of all things pasta.” Jon’s delivery, punctuated by passionate sighs, gives this twee adoration touching potency, turning a gag tune into a transcendent celebration of companionship.

Throughout all of this I’ve barely touched on their instrumentals, which meld so well with the poetry as to be truly inseparable — Jon’s vocals are even often submerged in the mix, swirling in the harmonies. On guitar, Jon favours stripped back seventh chords, adding a pinch of dissonance without getting fussy. The bass, handled handily by Anne-Marie, harmonizes simply and gorgeously beneath, creating a rich, saturated under-layer upon which Emily’s trebly, jangling lead lines can skate. Trevor’s drums are tight and restrained, propelling the band’s surging sound.

The total effect is full of fuzz, blur, and crackle, like an old Polaroid, or a family video on VCR — a sound perfectly suited to their wistful songcraft. They don’t go in much for big dynamic shifts, but, again, that fits their aim to bottle the kind of emotions that fill you up and take you over. It’s colourful, it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s sad, it’s full of joy.

Music ought to make you feel something, right? Music that makes you feel like this? That rules.

Will Wellington plays in Guelph bands Drunk at the Library & Mad Marion, writes for The Ontarion, and publishes interviews at wowgreatwow.com.

No Boys play at Kazoo! Fest 2018 on Wednesday April 11th with Mauno at eBar (41 Quebec St.)

soundcloud.com/gladly420