georgia straight

DEVOURS: Delightfully Dark Dance Music

Earlier this week, I was listening to the CBC while driving and someone (sorry because I can’t remember her name) started playing snippets of different DEVOURS songs. I immediately loved them! I’m terrible at looking for music, but I’m always desperate to find music that makes me want to dance or exercise. Within a few seconds of listening to his music, I could tell that DEVOURS fit the bill!

The CBC announcer said Devours was a Vancouver musician, so, out of curiosity, I googled whether or not Devours was going to be playing any shows in Vancouver. Lo-and-behold, I found out he was playing the China Cloud on Main on August 24th. I purchased tickets for my partner and myself. We had so much fun at the show! Devours (a.k.a. Jeff Cancade, who originates from Nanaimo) is also playing a show tonight, August 25th, as part of the Hexistential Festival on the Red Gate Revue Stage (CLICK HERE for more info about the festival).

What do you love about Vancouver?

DEVOURS: “I have a list of things that I love: the first, food wise, favourite restaurant is a place called Kinemi’s Kitchen. It’s in Champlain Heights. It fuses Asian with Italian cuisine, really interesting meals. I love it. This is a sort of a boring answer, but I also love that the Skytrain goes right to the airport. I’ve been to a few other cities, and this is like amazing in Vancouver. And then the other thing maybe just is the size of the city, it isn’t so big that it’s overwhelming, but it has everything you’d want in a city: lots of diversity, a cool arts scene, it has the downtown, it has neighbourhoods that feel kind of cozy. I don’t know it kind of has a bit of everything, so I think it’s a nice city. Is that a boring answer?”

No, I don’t think that’s a boring answer! I avoid spending money on cabs at all costs, so being able to take the Skytrain directly to and from the airport does make this city extra special.

If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

DEVOURS: “Ooh yeah, definitely feel like an outsider in Vancouver still…not so much, but a few years ago, before I started performing live here…I wanted to play music in Vancouver and music, like genre-wise, there wasn’t a lot happening here that sounded similar to my music, and so I felt like an outsider. I also am a little bit older than some of the people starting out in the scene here, so I felt a little bit awkward about that at first. Also at the time I didn’t know other gay musicians in the scene here, and so I wasn’t sure if my voice would be heard, or if there was a place for me here. All of those things combined made me feel pretty hopeless that I wouldn’t be able to find my place in Vancouver, but I think that what helped get me through it was getting involved and that is ultimately what it is.

There are a lot of people in this city that also feel like outsiders, I think. It’s not the easiest city to break into, but there is a lot of amazing stuff here and a lot of amazing people. I joined a choir actually, an East Van choir. I joined something called Shindig, which is like a battle of the bands. I just got involved and really was outgoing and forced myself to go to stuff and go to shows. I think that that’s what it takes I guess is just like exposing yourself to stuff and realizing that everyone feels a little bit weird, but that everyone wants to be friends and make friends.”

I am really going to focus on taking that last line of Devours answer to heart! It is so easy for me–as someone who gravitates towards spending time alone and because I have a lot of anxiety when I am around other people–to reinforce my self-perceived outsider status. Devours words reminded me that I will never be able to break out of feeling like an outsider until I open myself up more and realize that I am not alone. Next time I feel like a freak, I’ll remind myself that “everyone feels a little bit weird”-Devours. Well put!

Here’s a link to DEVOURS Bandcamp page: CLICK HERE. 

I just bought Devours 2016 album Late Bloomer from Bandcamp. Hopefully, I’ll use his music as motivation to get outside for a workout in the rain today!

Baths Interview

I fell in love with Baths album Obsidian back in 2013. It is dark and sad, yet also very danceable and catchy: a rare find in my opinion. Anyways, Baths (aka Will Wiesenfeld who originates from California) took the stage (in Nike running pants, which I found entertaining) at Fortune Sound Club last night.

The crowd was clearly really into his music and his set flew by (I can easily get bored at shows, but this was not the case at his show). Part way through the set he mentioned that he’s sick, but I never would have know since his voice was incredible, clear, and powerful.

If you’re feeling down and want to wallow in your sorrows while listening to some beautiful indie electronic music download some Baths asap!

 

 

 

 

LA Group Clipping Found Their Fellow Freaks

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Clipping (left to right): Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson, and Daveed Diggs

Clipping played the Biltmore tonight and their showed was packed to the brim. I must say they’ve got some seriously loyal fans and I understand why. Jonathan Snipe, William Hutson, and Daveed Diggs comprise Clipping and their music is a unique combination of quirky and surprising electronic noises, solid beats, and relentless rhymes. VanIsReal.com got a chance to speak with Clipping after their show, and it was a pleasure speaking with the guys! Give ’em a listen if you want to hear unpredictable hip-hop.

If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

“If you feel like a freak for long enough you’ll find the other freaks who also feel like you, then, you know, the norms get to be freaks and that’s friggin’ awesome…”

24HRS: Atlanta Artist Extraordinaire

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24hrs (IG: @2fourhrs) and I (Christina/VanIsReal.com) after his show at Fortune Sound Club

What do you love about Vancouver?

I mean so far the weather was super cool, like the snow. It was like snowing, but it wasn’t too cold, so it was like super lit. And then, like, the people have really nice hospitality. It’s cool so far.

If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

The freak part? Like what type of freak? I’m just playing with you. Just following my dreams and people actually supporting what I do, like, and maybe at first people didn’t get it or understand it, but to see everyone scream my lyrics to my song, it looks like being the outsider or being different or being a freak or whatever it is helped me, and it paid off, so continue doing what you’re doing.

Here’s a link to his soundcloud: 24hrs soundcloud.

Background story from my perspective: I almost never go to live shows even though I often go out dancing to DJs, because it’s always a risk…you never know what you’re going to get. Another requirement for me if I’m going to see a live show is that I wanna hear music that lets me release some of my aggression and energy, so I gravitate towards rap shows since artists in this genre most often give me what I need out of a live show.

Anyways, I work super close to Fortune Sound Club and tonight while at work I thought I should take a look and see what was going on at Fortune tonight (Saturday, February 4th). I found out that an Atlanta rapper called 24hrs was doing a show.

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24hrs Open EP: No throwaway songs…he’s oozing talent.

Before tonight, I hadn’t heard of him and I didn’t listen to a second of his music before purchasing a ticket for myself and my boyfriend. I took a risk in spending $50 plus dollars on an artist I’d never heard (though during his show I realized I already did know some of his songs, I just didn’t know he was the artist performing them), and it was SO WORTH IT.

My job can be stressful at times and tonight my coworker and I were on the receiving end of intense anger coming from tenants of the building we work at, so I needed something to make me feel good after work. I felt reinvigorated after this show and I was on cloud nine after 24hrs let me interview him!

24hrs is such a present, confident, and fun artist. He owned the stage all the way. His music sounded so beautiful, tight, and powerful live and I am now a huge fan of 24hrs! I am always on the lookout for motivational, intense songs to add to my workout playlist, and I’ll be adding 24hrs EP Open tomorrow.

Thank 24hrs…I’m so happy to have some new special music to listen to.

Kevin’s Key to Being an Outsider: Own It!

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Kevin Wolfhard (@kwolfhard) knows what’s up!

If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?

“Always…and essentially, I mean it took me quite a lot of time to sort of figure this out, but if you don’t own being a dork, being a weirdo, being a misfit, being an outsider…it’s, you can’t live life like that.

So if you just own it, it’s the best thing in the world. It’s who you are, right? This is why I dance at the Fox. It’s the ultimate expression of who I am as a person.”

I was feeling super crappy today (damn you PMS and a lack of sunlight), so I am so thankful to Kevin for his unbelievably wise words, because they boosted me up and reminded me of what’s important in life.

Owning who you are (which I find challenging to do all the time, but it feels so good when I do own who I am) is the best way to cope with feeling like a freak!

If you want to look at some gorgeous photos, please follow Kevin on Instagram: @kwolfhard. 

Socially Awkward and Sober

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It’s been close to 8 years since I’ve drank alcohol. I’m an alcoholic and as such I choose to abstain from alcohol because, for a variety of reasons, I was never able to “handle my alcohol” and often ended up making a fool of myself while in a blackout state.

I don’t want to drink again. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t miss alcohol. I think I abused it in part because of how damn socially awkward I am, not because wine is delicious or anything like that.

As a kid I was really confident, outgoing, and never thought twice about what I was going to say or do. For most of elementary school I was popular, but as puberty hit my confidence plummeted. I had a strict mother, so flirting or dating boys was something I was taught not to do, and that affected my social status. By grade 7 how sexy a girl was started to become what the boys were interested in, and so since I didn’t look or act sexy my social stock was weak and I felt like a loser.

Anyways, by the time I hit high school I was full on uncool. I remain that way to this day. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18 years old. Due to my negative relationship with alcohol via how I saw it affect my father (he went to rehab multiple times during my childhood and struggled to stay sober) I took the perspective that I would never drink. Then one day when I was 19 my impulsive brain changed its mind and I decided I wanted to drink.

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I thought I’d throw this in because I love this pic of myself.

The first night I drank I got totally out of control, which lead to my house getting trashed during a party, and the cops getting called. My mother and sister hated me when they came home from Toronto the next morning to find their home in quite a different state than they’d left it the day before.

I could only remember bits and pieces of my first night drinking and that night was definitely an indication of how almost all of my future drinking experiences would unfold.

The thing is I have a lot inside of me that I’d like to let free. For example, by dancing like a ma-ni-ac. But since I was uncool and didn’t feel confident, I was incapable during my early 20s of letting myself go wild while sober (for the most part I’m still incapable of doing this in front of anyone who isn’t a close friend or my boyfriend). Also, since I viewed most other people as more attractive than myself, anytime I was in a party or social environment with any people who weren’t close friends I immediately started drinking copious amounts to try to help myself relax and feel more comfortable around the people I was intimidated by.

Then I’d act a fool and feel very ashamed the next day. Then I’d feel even more self-conscious and nervous the next time I entered a social environment, especially if the same people I’d been blackout drunk of in front of before were there, so the cycle would continue and the need to use alcohol as a social lubricant, or more appropriately social flood, carried on.

Eventually, I reached my breaking point and was able to admit to myself that I was an alcoholic and the only way to ensure that I didn’t get super drunk ever again was by stopping drinking entirely.

The plan worked because I haven’t had another drink of alcohol since I quit at age 24. I still continued to have an addiction to marijuana that only came to an end 2 years ago, so it’s not to say I  abstained from drugs after I quit drinking, but I didn’t have a substance to rely on that took away from my self-consciousness and stopped my incessant stressed-out internal dialogue like I did with alcohol.

I think I thought that the longer I was sober I would suddenly become relaxed and totally at ease when going to a party or meeting new people.

But that hasn’t been the case. I still feel minor levels of panic when entering a party or entering situations where I don’t know the people. It might not seem like that on the surface because my approach is to push on through and be openly friendly and enthusiastic, but I’m usually feeling a lot of fear at the same time.

One thing I was able to overcome 2 years ago was my fear of dancing in public. Now I’m able to go out to clubs sober with other people or alone and dance my heart out.

It’s the social situations with groups of people that still really freak me out.

Part of this is because I am definitely not a “chilled out” person. I’ve got A LOT of energy, which is both a gift and a curse. What sucks is when I’m around people either at a new job or at a party and someone tells me to “chill out”, “relax”, “don’t be nervous”, “don’t let them see your fear” (this last one was told to me by a work supervisor before I started to teach a new, high-level class and it immediately caused my stress level to spike because it indicates that I am showing my fear and somehow need to make it immediately disappear–not possible). Also, before I was okay with dancing sober it used to make me so uncomfortable when I wouldn’t be dancing and the dancing king or queen who seems to have no fear of dancing in public (but I also noticed the only people who ever tried to force me to dance when I wasn’t up to it were drinking themselves…coincidence? I think not.) would point me out and try to get me to dance.

Ahhhh…I would wonder, “Can’t you see I’m incredibly self conscious? Everyone isn’t a social butterfly like you…please leave me alone so I don’t feel even more weird than I already do”. I don’t think anyone had bad intentions in these situations–they’re enjoying themselves and probably just want me to enjoy myself in the same way they are–but it only lead for me to feel even more like a sober loser who is way too uptight and not easygoing like everyone else.

My body language is rigid, and I know that. I never know what to do with my hands. For example, I took a counselling course at UBC this summer. We had to videotape ourselves with a “client” (another classmate) and practice being a “counsellor” and critique how we moved and spoke and then receive feedback from the instructor about the same things. One of the first things my instructor focused in on during my first critique (thankfully I was able to greatly improve and “lean in” more by the last assignment) was how my body language was awkward and closed-off. I wasn’t surprised. I know that this is the way I appear to others and it was a minor consolation to have my instructor confirm this, because at least it shows my perception is not all in my head.

The point I’ve reached now though is I’m no longer entering situations like this and constantly repeating “relax” over and over to try to seem calm. I am hyper. I do have an excess of energy that doesn’t always flow out of me in a perfectly dispersed way. My body isn’t free-flowing and that’s OKAY.

I’m sober and I’m a socially awkward geek. I am who I am and I’m happy to have reached the point where I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. Oh, and when it comes to the supposedly chilled-out people who have told me to slow my roll, are they really all that chill themselves if they’re telling someone else how they need to behave when I was just doing my own thing?

Peace!

Sonja Larsen: Her Memoir Red Star Tattoo Is A Life-Changing Read

This summer my friend Nessa passed along a copy of her friend Sonja Larsen‘s impeccable memoir Red Star Tattoo: My Life As A Girl Revolutionary and I was hooked from page one. Larsen’s past is full of lots of different topics that are both fascinating and painful, such as being part of a cult and experiencing sexual abuse. Sonja’s talent lies in being able to appropriately delve into her shocking and painful past experiences without making them too heavy or going to the opposite end of the spectrum and presenting them in a salacious or tabloid-like manner. The book is educational without taking itself too seriously. It’s fun to read too! These are just a few of the reasons as to why I highly recommend that you take the time to read it.

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I am grateful for Sonja’s decision to turn her life into a memoir, because it reminds me that I need to let go of my own shame and there is nothing in my past that should ever prevent me from moving towards a more enjoyable future.

Thank-you Sonja for sharing and for taking the time out of your day to let me interview you!

Sonja Larsen: “If I ever felt like a freak or an outsider…well if you’ve read my book you’ll know that I was definitely a freak and an outsider in lots of different ways, so often in my life. You know, my Dad was a pot dealer. My mother was a communist. You know, but I think part of my growing up was that I actually kind of was raised to believe, because my parents were a little bit hippies at first, that being an outsider was not such a bad thing, that if you were questioning the system that was good. But I think really what has got me through it is sometimes realizing that you’re not alone. That everyone is sort of making it up as they go along.”