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Why Xuan Ye Rules by Jenn E Norton

Xuan Ye

Xuan Ye, otherwise known as APA (A Pure Apparatus), is a prolific artist, a multi-instrumentalist, and computer coder, whose wanderlust creativity has led her to live many lives before she arrived in Toronto four years ago. Despite her soft spoken nature, she is an explosive force in performance, drawing upon her eclectic background to respond improvisationally.

Xuan was born in China, where she was trained in classical piano from age six. As her family was likely the sole owners of a piano in her small community, Xuan travelled long distances to Quanzhou for her weekly lessons before ultimately leaving her home at eleven years of age to pursue her musical education. Xuan majored in piano performance at a boarding school in Gulangyu, an island otherwise known as Piano Island, famous for its architecture, winding carless streets, but moreover, the plentitude of pianos.

After the completion of her studies on Piano Island, Xuan to a brief break from playing to focus on sciences, though soon formed an all-girl punk band, while concurrently performing R&B covers on televised and radio talent shows.  Though successful on the talent show circuit, her parents forbid her from continuing in hopes that their daughter would secure a financially viable vocation. Xuan continued a clandestine solo music career while studying e-commerce and financial engineering in Shanghai. Posting online and performing at night made her certifiably internet famous on Douban, the hugely influential social network, like a mashup of myspace, facebook, and imbd, in China. Influenced at that time by bossanova and folk music, Xuan performed with her guitar and harmonica. Upon graduation, Xuan once again left the familiarity of her home, quit her job to become a bar singer in a mountainous community in Lijiang, near Tibet. The gig obliged Xuan to perform certain standards, and some of her own choosing, including numerous Nirvana covers. Frustrated with the fetishization of the sweet voiced singer inherent to the genre, Xuan then moved to New York City to study corporate communications and media studies at NYU.

Focusing on sound and semiotics of performance, it is here that Xuan became familiar with the works of John Cage and Alvin Lucier. Xuan made demos privately, deleted her Douban profile and transformed into APA. Xuan moved to Toronto and began performing, guided by a self-defined rule to never repeat the same setup. ‘A Pure Apparatus’ is emblematic of this ethos of improvisation.

Jenn E. Norton is an artist working with interdisciplinary media including interactive stereoscopic animation, video, installation, sound and kinetic sculpture.

Xuan Ye is performing at Kazoo! HQ at Kazoo! HQ (127 Woolwich Street) at 2pm, Saturday, April 8th, 2017, presented by Ed Video and Channel.


Kazoo! Fest 2017: Friday Preview

Kazoo! Fest 2017: The one where it snowed — but that sure hasn’t limited all the great things that have already happened! Hope you’ve been able to balance getting out to all of the great shows while also keeping your energy levels high for the coming days, cause there’s so much more in store.

Today’s got quite a few options for you to check out. At 4pm, you can wake yourself up after your workday with a cup of coffee from Planet Bean while catching the sweet jams of Cedric Noel and the infectiousness of BUDI – a perfect way to usher in a day crammed full of amazing music.

If you’re looking for something a little louder (but still pretty chilled out) to kick off the day’s shows, make your way to Take Time Vintage at 5pm for a performance by Ottawa’s slack-rockers DJ Smoke Weed Guy, and Guelph’s pop-grungy outfit, Ten Boy Summer. It might not feel like spring out there, but these laid back rockers will make Take Time Vintage feel like a summer oasis.

Ease into the evening at Silence for Kazoo!’s co-pres with Riverfest Elora that features a stacked bill of Guelph’s Golden Boy, Gregory Pepper & His Problems followed by the haunting tunes of John Southworth.

With the metal riffs of Peps and the beautiful ballads of Southworth still swimming in your head, you now have a difficult decision to make. You can either head over to Mitchell Hall for Kazoo!’s co-pres with the CSA and Wavelength, featuring the incomparable Jessy Lanza, HAN HAN w/ Hataw and Softside (plus a set by DJ Junglecat and visuals by Karl Skene!), or head to the ANAF for a night of experimental and electronic tunes with YlangYlang, Persons, LA Timpa, and Ice Cream. If you’re instead looking to jump around and get sweaty, check out the eBar at for Eyeballs, LAPS, Century Egg, and Badminton Racquet, with visuals by Versa. Tricky decisions are what Kazoo! Fest is about so pick something based on your mood – or run between each venue to really make the most of the night! Whatever you chose, you’re gonna see some great music today. But don’t burn yourself out, ’cause Saturday’s gonna be cram packed with Kazoo! goodness.

Kazoo! Fest 2017: Thursday Preview

Well, what a night that was. If you were able to get out on Wednesday, we’re sure you had your wig flipped at the Present Rituals Opening and screenings of Bight of the Twin and Heavenly Sin, were blown away by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Luyos MC, and sang until your heart hurt with Richard Laviolette and Klarka Weinwurm. There’s even more amazing stuff in store for today.

After you’ve recovered mentally and physically from opening night, go on down to The Cornerstone at 2:30 for a very special pop-up performance we’re calling the You’ve Changed Revue, featuring the phenomenal talents Ian Kehoe, The Weather Station, Steve Lambke, and Richard Laviolette. Then you’ll have a bit of downtime before The Guelph Night Market starts at 7PM at Mitchell Hall at St. George’s Church. The Night Market is the biggest one yet, so make sure you get there with enough time to grab a snack and a Kazoo! Brew and check out tons of vendors selling vintage clothes, handmade wares, food, and much more.

Right up the street from the Night Market at Kazoo! HQ is the presentation of the debut presentation of the 2017 Kazoo! Fest/Ed Video Look Hear Micro-grant project: FEED, a study of the modern film form and its effects on the spectator. Opening for FEED at 8:15 is Brigitte Bardon’ts Infinite Poolside presents: The Karen Carpenter Story featuring Hexzuul.

Now things get even trickier as you have to make a tough decision between two amazing shows (or mix and match, or run really fast back and forth to see everything you can). At eBar, we have the amazing U.S. Girls, who is performing as an 8-piece band, with visuals by filmmaker extraordinaire Emily Pelstring. Opening this show is Guelph’s Sweethearts, Cold on Pluto, and Toronto via Somalian, OBUXUM. At the ANAF, we have a stacked rock show co-presented by our buds Place For Bands, featuring Guelph’s instrumental shredders Baby Labour, followed by everyone’s favorite post-punk barnburners and ex-pats from Victoria, Fountain, with the perfect post-grunge pop of Casper Skulls closing out the night.

After that, it’s up to you, but we would suggest getting some sleep so you have energy for an even more packed Friday.

Kazoo! Fest 2017: Wednesday Preview

Well, looks like we’ve made it. 10 years ago, we kicked off this little festival and we’re still kicking. Thanks for sticking with us – we hope you enjoy the week.

At noon, we’ve got a free CSA noon-hour concert by Richard Laviolette happening on campus in the University Centre. It is co-presented with our friends at CFRU 93.3 FM, and the concert will be broadcast live.

We have a few options to choose from for how you want to spend your opening night. Join us and our friends from Ed Video at 7:30pm at Kazoo! HQ (127 Woolwich St.) for Present Rituals, a group exhibition featuring video, film, installation, digital prints, and drawings about magic, ritual, and witchcraft. After that, we very excited to bring you two great films – first, at 9pm, we will be screening Hazel McCarthy III‘s film, Bight of the Twin (which documents Hazel and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and their journey to Oudidah in Benin) then, at 10pm, we will present Actually Huizenga‘s film about a convent-inclined female that is forced into marrying a creepy, possessive rich dude, Heavenly Sin.

Meanwhile, over at Silence, we have programmed what is sure to be a very special night. The evening will open with Luyos MC and her arresting and innovative experimentation. Following Luyos MC, we are thrilled to be able to present Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. A renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg activist, author, musician, academic, poet and a member of the Alderville First Nation, we are quite fortunate to have Simpson and her band help ring in Kazoo! Fest 2017.

As soon as things wrap up at Kazoo! HQ and Silence, rush over to eBar where Sackville standout Klarka Weinwurm, performing as a three piece, will get things started just after 10pm. Then we’ve got Guelph’s golden child, Richard Laviolette hitting the stage with an all star band. This is also Laviolette’s release show for his long-awaited (and soon-to-be-classic) LP, Taking The Long Way Home (You’ve Changed Records).

Kazoo! Brew is also back. Be sure to try this tasty dry-hopped pale ale, which is available all week exclusively at Kazoo! Fest venues. Big thanks to our friends at Wellington Brewery for making this happen!

10 years.
Day 1.
Turn it up.

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.