The Canadian electronic music scene is relatively little-known internationally, not least its radical activist elements. But LAL, the Toronto-based electronic duo, never sought widespread international recognition. Instead, the self-identified ‘semi-anarchist’ couple – singer-songwriter/manager Rosina Kazi, and producer-instrumentalist Nicholas Murray – have embraced their position outside the mainstream by fostering a literal and metaphorical space for alternative musicians and poets. They produce their own unique sounds, inspired by both European electronic and fusion bands. They’re also influenced by both the Canadian, and the global socio-political landscapes. I sat down with Rosina in a downtown Toronto coffee shop to discuss the band’s history, potential move to Europe, and their community performance space, Unit 2.
TO BE A FEMALE PERFORMER – ABUSE AND HARASSMENT IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
by Tom McGhie
Content warning: sexual harassment, sexual abuse, misogyny
There are few greater feelings than when an artist connects with their audience at a gig, something more than just applause and guitar chords. Most people have, at some point in their lives, attended a gig which has stuck in their memory because of that very exchange between performer and public. This visceral communication is what propels music as one of the most important art forms; it brings people together in an ever-dividing societal sphere.
“WE’RE FIGHTING A DOUBLE BATTLE IN THIS WHITE-DOMINATED WORLD” – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TUTS
by Chris Jarvis
2016 will be the year of the Tut. After a crowdfunding campaign that achieved double its original target, The Tuts are set to release their debut album – Update Your Brain – in September. The all-woman three piece from Hayes have nurtured a loyal and growing fan base in their first few years, with tours alongside UK veterans Kate Nash, The Selecter and Sonic Boom Six helping to build a wide creoss-genre appeal.Continue Reading
THE LOUD SILENCE OF WHITE ARTISTS ON #BLACKLIVESMATTER
by Mike Vinti
This week, racial tensions in America have been reignited by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castle and five members of the Dallas police. The response from the the majority of people of all races has been one of shock and sadness, with many black musicians and artists using their platforms to voice their solidarity with the victims and their support for the BlackLivesMatter movement.
Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z both released statements following the attacks, with Jay-Z even releasing his first new song – Spiritual – in years to support the BLM movement. UK rappers Stormzy and Novelist, two increasingly political artists in their own right, have spoken out, highlighting the issue of police violence in the UK as well as the US. RnB icon Miguel has recorded a song listing the names of black Americans killed by police with plans to update it every week. These are just some of the interventions made by high profile musicians in the last week. Continue Reading
SKEPTA, CHANCE THE RAPPER AND RAP’S DIY REVOLUTION
by Mike Vinti
The last week or so has seen the release of two of the most anticipated projects in recent musical history; Skepta’s fourth album Konnichiwa and Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape Coloring Book.
With both MCs having made a name for themselves over the past couple of years as being pioneers in their respective fields of rap music, the release of their full length efforts has served to cement their reputations and effectively crown them as kings of their respective sides of the Atlantic. However, while both projects are excellent musically speaking, what’s most interesting about the hype surrounding both Chance and Skepta is that they’re both totally independent artists.Continue Reading
BEYONCÉ, HILLSBOROUGH AND UNITY THROUGH SONG
by Mike Vinti
It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks in the pop world. Prince died, Beyoncé pulled a well, a Beyoncé, and today (Friday April 29th) Drake has released his new album VIEWS. If ever there was a week to remind us of popular music’s impact on society and culture, this is the one.
While each of these moments are significant in their own right and worthy of articles of their own, of which there have been many, together they’ve demonstrated the power of music to unite people. Be it through, grief, shock or pure unadulterated hype, the three most significant cultural moments of the past eight days have used music to bring people together and for a few days at least, forget about those intent on tearing us apart.Continue Reading
THE CORPORATE UNDERGROUND
by Mike Vinti
The lines between the underground and mainstream music worlds have been blurring for a while now. As with the majority of issues facing the music industry these days, this is largely because of the internet. While it’s been an undeniably positive force on music itself, allowing fans and artists to connect more easily as well as opening whole new worlds of music to potential fans, it’s also made underground music more marketable.
This may not sound like a bad thing, and to a large extent it isn’t. While it would be great if musicians could live off credibility alone, in the ruthless world of capitalism in which we live, you need to be stacking that P if you want to survive. Where this increased marketability becomes less positive however is when corporations start getting involved.Continue Reading
VOICES OF HOPE COMING OUT OF THE DARKNESS – AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY DOOM OF POLICE BASTARD
by Chris Jarvis
For anyone of my generation who group up in the Midlands with a taste for alternative music, Johnny Doom is something of an icon. Tuning into Kerrang Radio (when it was still broadcast on FM), it was the dulcet tones of this Brummie legend that would really excite, much more so than even the anarchic Tim Shaw or the esoteric Nick Margerisson. Unsurprisingly, he has won accolades for his wry radio conversations, being named Brummie of the Year in 2008.
But Johnny has a long history within music outside of his radio work. Becoming active initially in the late 1980s in the influential Crust Punk band Doom, Johnny went on to form the less acclaimed, but equally important Police Bastard, who fuse a raw and brutal aggression with thrash metal riffs and hardcore compositions. Encapsulated within that sound is an anti-authoritarian politics which is evident even from the band’s name. Because of this, we decided to talk to Johnny Doom about his politics and the role it plays in his music as part of our series Music That Matters.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
by Mike Vinti
We’re barely a month into 2016 yet it’s becoming plain to see the musical trend that’s going to dominate the next twelve months: comebacks.
For as a long as there’s been a history of popular music there have been comebacks, it’s a natural part of the scene. The bands and musicians you idolise as a child and throughout your teenage years hold a special place in your heart and that’s always going to translate into a desire for more music and more shows form those artists; nostalgia is a powerful force.
Of, course, where there’s nostalgia, there’s money. Artists that have been around for longer can charge more for tickets, command larger production budgets and utilise the demand from fans to open doors not available to their more contemporary peers. This is doubly true for those than have been away and come back again. From Blur to Black Sabbath, Take That to Jay-Z, the combination of die-hard fans and risk averse record label execs sets the stage perfectly for a comeback if you’ve been officially out the scene for more than five years. Money and nostalgia, it seems as simple as that, right?Continue Reading
A NEW WAVE: FEMINIST PUNK
by Mike Vinti
Feminism has been in the news a lot recently. Whether it’s Femen’s brand of topless demonstrations, protests at the premier of the film Suffragette or straw-man attacks on the movement in the Spectator, for a movement that’s been active for some decades now, its seems that 2015 was the year the cause really broke into mainstream circles.
Pop music in particular has been significantly influenced by feminism this year. Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj established themselves as sex positive feminists and two of the biggest musicians on the planet, bands like Catfish & the Bottlemen are publicly derided for the kind of indie-lad-band antics that would have been celebrated in the NME five years ago and Whirr pretty much just wrecked their career by slinging misogynistic insults at the trans-fronted, feminist punk band G.L.O.S.S on Twitter. Two years ago we had ‘Blurred Lines’ – now we have clearly defined boundaries of consent.