MEET A-WA, THE ISRAELI SISTER TRIO MERGING YEMENITE FOLK SONGS AND ELECTRONIC BEATS – Thump

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March 28, 2016 11:15 AM 

Three women dressed in bright pink djallabahs and headscarves ride across the desert in a white jeep. A trio of b-boys in matching blue tracksuits and red fezzes pull their best moves while an older woman watches in a rocking chair.

These are just a few of the scenes from the music video for “Habib Galbi” (Arabic for “love of my heart”), a song by Israeli sister trio A-WA, which currently has over 2.8 million YouTube views and has become the first Arabic-language song to ever hit No. 1 on the Israeli pop charts. The group (pronounced “ay-wah,” which translates to “yes”)—Tair, Liron, and Tagel Haim—sing in an obscure Arabic dialect of their Jewish Yemeni ancestors, infusing hip-shaking folk rhythms and ancient lyrics with an electronic Middle Eastern gypsy beat, or “Mizrahi” sound.

“We confuse the audience in a good way. We make people think and open their ears to realize that situations are not black and white. People can be many things, and that’s the beauty of it,” says Liron, backstage during a recent Toronto concert.

Originally from a small village called Shaharut on the Egyptian border, all six of the Haim siblings fell in love with music at a young age, listening to their parents’ record collection including Bob Marley, 70s and 80s prog rock, and gypsy music. They were also drawn to the Yemenite folk cassettes they heard when they visited their grandparents.

The lyrics of that folk music were preserved, but other elements were not—for example, the call-and-response aspect of Yemenite songs, which is is passed down orally from one generation to another. Recovering this aspect of the music was a challenge that Liron, who completed her bachelor’s degree in ethnomusicology, readily accepted. She eventually discovered archival references from 45s recorded in the 1950s and 1960s.

“There’s a beautiful music scene where young musicians like us are going back to their Eastern roots, be it Egypt or Iraq—they want to bring this sound of their Jewish ancestry,” says Liron. “We are a different generation. We don’t feel suppressed, as our grandparents did as refugees. Our generation is more open and curious about our family roots.”

While this style was shunned during the country’s formative years in the 1940s, today it’s enjoying a popular revival on the streets of Tel Aviv. A-WA’s songs come from a woman’s perspective, touching on social issues that are timeless, but adapted for a modern approach with an element of street poetry. “It’s very direct and daring, like from the streets, with a Yemeni sense of humour. Full of groove,” says Tair.

“Habib Galbi,” which has been remixed by artists including French duo Acid Arab and Polish producer P.A.F.F., has received frequent radio play and can often be heard at restaurants, weddings of all cultures, and other celebrations.

It’s not just Middle Eastern audiences who are paying attention either—the trio just wrapped up their first North American tour, including shows at this year’s SXSW (“It was crazy, like a jungle!” says Tair enthusiastically). In Austin, they were also interviewed by none other than former American Idol judge, producer, and musician Randy Jackson.

During interviews they’ve clearly accepted their roles as cultural ambassadors, often accidentally speaking in unison, while their live shows capture their powerful harmonies and subversive lyrics. Tomer Yosef of well-known Israeli group Balkan Beat Box(no strangers to colliding genres themselves), has been accepted into the Haim family as a true brother and has been handling their production work. The full album which has been out in Israel since 2015 will be coming to North America this summer, while their Habib Galbi EP has just seen the light of day across the continents.

“People are curious about our identity and the small desert town in southern Israel where we are from,” says Tagel. “Yemeni music is something very special.”

A-WA is on Facebook // Twitter // SoundCloud

Jesse Ship is on Twitter.

Canadian Headliners Spread the Spirit of EDC – Insomniac.com

Canadian Headliners Spread the Spirit of EDC 

With several editions across the US and a growing expansion into international lands, EDC has become a truly global phenomenon in its 20-year existence. The festival attracts ravers from all over the world, so it should come as no surprise that there’s always a strong contingent of neighbors from the North making the annual rave pilgrimage to EDC Las Vegas and various other EDC destinations. Last year, we met a ton of Canadian ravers in Vegas, and we got to experience the kindness and friendliness of ravers from the Great White North firsthand.

With EDC Vegas less than 100 days away, we caught up with some Canadian kandi kids who are spreading the spirit of EDC to their homeland and beyond. Meet Amanda Silbernagel of Calgary, Alberta, who was so excited to return to her happy place Under the Electric Sky, she created the EhDC Facebook group to bring together kindred spirits from the land where the maple syrup flows freely and lumberjacks dance through forests with techno blasting from their headphones. Also, get to know fellow Canadian Scott Sideways, who is a bit of a rave celeb in Toronto, representing the city with his +27,000-strong Instagram presence.

Read all about these raving Canucks, and if you run into Canadians like Amanda and Scott at EDC, don’t be shy—give them a hug! It’s true what they say about Canadian manners.

Who are you in your everyday life, and where do you live?
Amanda Silbernagel: I live in Calgary, Alberta—born and raised. It’s tough to leave the mountains! I’m a dental hygienist by day and a competitive cheerleader and gymnastics instructor by night. Let’s just say I can’t have as much fun with my daytime scrub uniform as I can creating my rave bras and other rave attire. Being a competitive cheerleader allows for me to take cool pictures.

Scott Sideways: Toronto (the 6ix), Ontario, Canada. In my day-to-day life, I work as a digital marketing manager. As my full-time career endeavor, I’m a model/actor and pilot, and I work with many different companies through Instagram for different promotions and sponsorships. And of course, I’m a contributor to iHeartRaves.

Amanda, why did you start the EhDC Facebook page?
Amanda Silbernagel: I began the page to make new friends. I had a falling out with some individuals with whom I had planned to go to EDC Las Vegas 2015, and I was now a lone wolf with a ticket to EDC. I figured, what better way to meet some new friends before EDC and potentially find a hotel mate and a new rave family. It then became a place for advice for newbies and veterans and a place to share our experiences Under the Electric Sky.

How many times have you been to EDC?
Amanda Silbernagel: I’ve attended EDC in Las Vegas twice: 2014 and 2015. I am hoping to make my return this year for the 20th anniversary.

Scott Sideways: Last year was my first one, actually. I already have my ticket for this year! I would like to continue to come back every year. It’s a wonderful experience, and I’ve had the ability to meet many artists and fellow ravers because of it.

It’s a pretty big distance to travel! What makes EDC amazing for you?
Amanda Silbernagel: It’s decently far to travel just for a festival. However, EDC is not just a festival. It’s life-changing. My first year, in 2014, I met so many wonderful souls, people of all walks of life. Every person I met was happy to be celebrating music, friendship and life. It isn’t just about the party in Vegas. The crowd EDC attracts is really one big family. I was so blessed to be a part of it, I couldn’t wait to return and bought my EDC Las Vegas 2015 ticket the day they went on sale.

Scott Sideways: It is a big distance—about a 5.5-hour flight! For me, EDC is less about the music as it is the experience, the feeling of being around thousands of like-minded individuals that share a common love. It’s a feeling that can’t be explained enough. EDC is amazing because of the whole adventure. I travel across countries, across the continent, thousands of miles. It takes a car, cab, plane, taxi and the bus. There is so much to do and see; it’s an overwhelming punch to your senses.

How do you represent Canada at EDC? I heard there’s a special Canada gear day being planned.
Amanda Silbernagel: Day one at EDC seems to be the day where most attendees wear their country’s colors. Last year, I planned for this day and made an event for it on Facebook, requesting for everyone to proudly wear red and white and bring our nation’s flag! We had a group meetup on Friday and were lucky enough to contact Insomniac photographer Barrie Martelle of edmphotos.com. He was our man!

Scott Sideways: I always carry around a Canadian flag. When anyone sees or hears that I’m from Canada, they get excited. People love to meet people from other countries, and the general perception of Canada is quite positive, which always opens the door to many conversations. I also bring along many little Canadian trinkets, such as maple syrup bottles, necklaces, charms, etc., which I will give away to people.

What’s the weirdest question about Canada you’ve received at EDC?
Amanda Silbernagel: I can’t say I’ve had too many weird questions at festivals. Most people don’t really know too much about Canada, but to answer the typical Canadian question: No, we do not live in igloos and ride our dogsleds to work.

Scott Sideways: All the stereotypical ones: “Do you have an igloo? A pet beaver? Do you drink maple syrup? Is the Queen your president?” The weirdest question I can remember came from a girl in her early 20s, who approached me and asked if I could speak Canadian to her, and she couldn’t grasp the concept that it’s still English!

What were some of your favorite EDC moments?
Amanda Silbernagel: I’d have to say my favorite EDC moments are when an entire crowd of thousands of people joins together in singing the lyrics to a DJ set. It’s really like we are collectively one huge, loving family. My most memorable one is probably when Galantis closed kineticFIELD on the last day and everyone sang their hit “Runaway.” Another favorite part of EDC, in general, is trading kandi with fellow ravers through the well-known PLUR hand motions, which allow us to connect and share peace, love, unity and respect for one another.

Scott Sideways: After Above & Beyond, when the fireworks were going off—everyone turned away from the stage to watch. I could see tears in the eyes of almost everyone around me, bewilderment and amazement, a moment I won’t ever forget.

Where are your favorite places to party at home?
Amanda Silbernagel: The electronic scene in Calgary is definitely growing. Flames Central hosts a lot of big-name DJs, and the venue is great! Marquee also has hosted a few DJs and oftentimes has complimentary entrance, which is great for those of us on a budget planning to return to EDC. There are a few massive raves between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, that happen throughout the year. A lot of us travel between the two cities to attend these events, which are often two days. It’s a chance for us to meet up with EDC-goers in other cities and have meetups.

Scott Sideways: Back in Toronto, I often visit Uniun, Coda, the Guvernment (before it closed down), Comfort Zone and Nest. I tend to go to a lot of house parties, though, which still rank among the best events since it’s much more intimate and relaxed.

Jesse Ship is based in Toronto and may or may not live in an igloo.

Follow EDC Las Vegas on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

12 ways Toronto changed in 2015

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With $2.4 billion invested in the Pan Am Games and a seemingly never-ending condo boom, 2015 changed the face of Toronto. There were some sad goodbyes, but also welcome changes to the city’s infrastructure.

Click for full story on TheStar.com.

Got Time for a Good Time?

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Embrace Production’s Time Festival has proven again and again that it’s a cost-effective summer escape for Torontonians looking to get away but maybe don’t have the time to travel too far away?

For a mere $45 in advance ticket prices, kids looking to catch up with the pulse of the Pitchforkers and Stereogummers of the world were treated to a widely diverse group of artists like gangsta rapper Freddie “fuck da police” Gibbs, DJ Ryan “RyRy Bad Boy” Hemsworth, jazzaholic wannabe hip hop backup banders BadBadNotGood, feel good slacker rocker Mac DeMarco, and the explosive rave rap insanity of pikapikapika Die Antwoord.

 

While I’d seen a handful of the acts already, bands like BadbadNotGood make for very high calibre background noise, and there were no complaints I could think of.  The highlight for some was Mac DeMarco whom I finally got to see live, and attempt to grasp the appeal. He speaks to the “softboy” in all of us.  
Die Antwoord’s set was epic with multiple costume changes, mostly from Yolandi, while Ninja kept the crowd entertained with some kind of banter, rap, hyping, and prancing. One of the highlights was  their outrage over not having time for an encore. To be honest, they must have known all this before they got on stage but were probably fuming all day about it and let the festival know LOUD AND CLEAR.  It was unfortunate and ironic that two songs earlier they had led the 8,000 person strong crowd in a rousing “FUCK THE RULES, FUCK FUCK YOUR RULES” chant.  Sigh.  Corporate festivals (sometimes) suck.
Also, Ariel Pink was mighty pissed too after his mic suffered from feedback three times. He stormed off stage at the end saying “we had a really fucking cool finale planned for you but fuck this. We’re done.” Tech difficulties were more noticeable to artists than anyone though.
I’d rate the fest, for the audience over all, at an 8/10. 
Note: After posting some of this on FB I was corrected by a Time Festival Die Antwoord went on late which is why they didn’t have time for the encore. Their crew at least knew about Toronto’s strict 11pm curfew ahead of time but they had some sort of delays in changeover and went on 5 minutes late.

Fort York’s dusty all purpose field’s been put to good use as things were kept simple with a single stage of power flanked in the sides and rear with a slew of local festival favourite food trucks and one magical merch booth.

 

 

 

House Music Sleeping Giant – DJ MK – Metro Toronto

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I was offered an interview assignment with house music legend DJ MK for The Metro Canada. How could I say no??? Big wins for the House movement. Nary an EDM edit or mention. Metro editor team, I love you! And a weekend edition spot again!

 

An animated history of cartoon bands

Diplo’s Major Lazer project joins the likes of Gorillaz, Jem and Prozzak, finding commercial success with virtual musicians 

American DJ Diplo created Major Lazer in 2009 as a cartoon alias in order to produce Caribbean-influenced music like reggae and dancehall that didn’t necessarily fit into his repertoire.

What began as a playful way to perform tunes under the guise of a mysterious Rastafarian freedom fighter from the future has spiraled into a full-fledged cartoon series of 10-minute segments, available in Canada on iTunes.

This wouldn’t be the first time music and cartoons have crossed over before. Here are a few memorable intersections.

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Gorillaz (1998-)

Not since the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine has a cartoon band left such an impression on pop culture. Created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and produced by Dan the Automator, the animated supergroup blends dub reggae, rock, rap and trip hop for an out of this world “feel good” experience. Artists like James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Snoop Dogg and even Madonna have collaborated with virtual band members Murdoc and 2D, and there will likely be more high-profile adventures. Albarn has recently announced a new album, expected in 2016.

New Kids on the Block (1990)

They had all the right stuff for a cartoon series. A golden age of Saturday morning cartoons, pop stardom and legions of young female fans hungry for collectable binders, toys and trading cards. The short-lived series followed the band as they went about their lives escaping packs of fans and doing teenaged pop star things. While they didn’t voice their animated characters, Danny, Donnie, Jordan, Joey and Jonathan were featured on the show with behind-the-scenes interviews.

Jem (1985-88)

Record label owner and band manager Jerrica Benton inherited her deceased fathers holographic computer and used it to transform herself into Jem, frontwoman of the hair-metal-inspired Jem and the Holograms. Her high-tech earrings foreshadowed the wearable technology movement while the band taught the Saturday morning cartoon generation that music was magic through music videos. There was never a live-action Jem band, but a hotly anticipated live-action movie is in the works for October 2015, starring ’80s icon Molly Ringwald in a supporting role.

Josie and the Pussycats (1970-71)

Looking to jump on the bubblegum pop sensation and envious of The Archies’ smash hit “Sugar Sugar,” Hanna-Barbera Studios contacted the Riverdale gang’s creator Filmation to receive permission to create a spinoff series based around the less popular comic-book character Josie. The result was a series that fused concepts of The Archies with Scooby Doo-styled adventures to create a hipper, updated series based around touring 1970s rock band. The show broke ground with outspoken tambourinist Valerie, the first African-American character as a regular on a cartoon.

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Prozzäk (1998-)

Canada’s British-accented dance-pop band (comprised of Canadian indie rockers Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum of The Philosopher Kings) were inspired equally by the likes of the Beatles and late-’90s internet culture to create catchy feel-good singles, beginning with “Sucks to be You” in 1998. Cartoon music videos were focused on the stoic Simon and the lovelorn Milo on his quest to find a mate. Their breakout 2000 single “www.nevergetoveryou” sampled the catchy “uhoh!” sound effect from social network granddaddy ICQ, which can still be heard on some of Toronto’s Chinatown supermarket cash registers. Catch Prozzäk at a reunion show on July 18 at Atomic Lollipop, the “unique geek festival” at the Ontario Science Centre.

Daft Punk 

In 2001, the perpetually masked French house maestros hired their childhood hero, the prolific Japanese animator Leiji Matsumoto, to create a full-length musical sci-fi film to accompany their smash hit album Discovery. The project was titled Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem and segments from the film were released episodically as music videos chronicling the adventures of an oppressed blue-skinned race of aliens.

What to bring – Pool Parties 2015 – Metro News Canada

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Mutek 2015 – Metro News Canada

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I was thrilled to share my music passionate music and techno geekery with Canada, in this review of Mutek 2015 that was printed in the Metro Canada, and ran nationally.

Massive Attack – One FM Essential Mix – 1994!!

I worked on a project last month that gave a taste of Massive Attack origins.  I think I know where they were looking for inspiration now.  Wow.  “Welcome to tonight’s Essential Mix on One FM. And now for something a little different, we head down to Bristol and hand the turntables over to Massive Attack! Standby.”  Broadcasted on Sunday 11th December, 1994.  How can this intro not give you chiiiiiiilllls?

Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy Of Gold
Fu Schnickens – Breakdown
Jeru The Damaja – Statik
Public Enemy – Louder Than A Bomb
Main Source – Scratch And Kut ? ?
ESG – UFO (Instrumental)
Gang Starr – The ? Remains
Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush The Show
A Tribe Called Quest – God Lives Through  

6 People Who Gained Amazing Skills from Brain Injuries – Bad ass Jesse

Many years ago I did a stock photography shoot. The images are still in circulation and pop up on billboards in Hawaii, Japanese, ads in The Metro, ESL textbooks or sites like Cracked.com, usually featuring me as some kind of “bad ass” “bully” or “aggressor” because I guess that’s how my photo is tagged in the massive Getty Images database.  It’s kind of awesome.  Here I am being used to illustrate a man getting his ass kicked in their “6 people who gained amazing skills form Brain Injuries (sic)”

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