Tag Archives: Music

Arkells Support Hamilton-Area Refugess



If you’ve been paying attention at all you may have figured out the Arkells have become one of the biggest rock bands in Canada in the last year or so.

They seem to understand that with this great new power they’ve also got great new responsibility.

When they played their big hometown stadium show this past June in Hamilton they also used it as an opportunity to raise funds for Refuge Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health.

I spoke to lead singer Max Kerman about the reasons why they did this for Samaritanmag.

To read the piece go here.


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Polaris Podcast EP 16 — The FAQ Episode

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

People have a lot of questions about how the Polaris Music Prize works.

So many questions, in fact, we dedicated a whole podcast episode to answering many of the big ones.

The answers to these FAQs and other Polaris Podcast episodes can be found on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.

Or if you can’t be bothered to go that far you can listen to it right here:

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Peaches Does Herself: Wants ‘Rocky Horror’ Cult Fame for TIFF Film

Peaches Does Herself

Peaches Does Herself

Long before Toronto’s Merrill Nisker stumbled into a career as the electro art provocateur Peaches, she had every intention of becoming a theatre director, at least until reality set in.

“I quickly figured out that I didn’t want to work with actors or all of these factors I thought would give me a heart attack by the time I was 30,” she tells Spinner.

Still, when Hebbel Hau Theater in her adopted home of Berlin asked her to do a production, Peaches was thrilled to have a chance to go back to her artistic roots. Assembling over 20 songs from her four albums, the foul-mouthed and sharp-tongued singer crafted a retrospective “anti-jukebox” musical loosely based on her life called Peaches Does Herself. She also filmed the show, which ran at the Hebel in October of last year, because she wanted to document it in some way.

Ten performances’ worth of footage, 1,500 edits and just under a year later, the film version of Peaches Does Herself is making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The movie, as described on Peaches’ official site (we’d try to paraphrase, but there’s no sense in messing with perfection) “tells the story of a young woman who, inspired by a 65-year-old stripper, begins to make sexually forthright music. Her popularity grows and she becomes what her fans expect her to be: transsexual. She falls in love with a beautiful she-male, but gets her heart broken and then ventures on a path of self-discovery.”

The elaborate dix and tit-shaking spectacle is written and directed by Peaches, who also stars in the film as herself. Her supporting cast includes Naked Cowgirl Sandy Kane as the 65-year- old stripper in question, transgendered porn star Danni Daniels, electronica artist Mignon and a dance troupe known as The Fatherfucker Dancers. The flick’s set designs and props feature, among other things, various labia representations, laser harps and a gruesome exploded phallus that’s becoming notorious for its ability to make audiences squirm.

“It should be uncomfortable, like ‘Is this a joke?’ This has actually turned really gory, but it’s actually really weird-looking,” says Peaches. “It was actually done by Babes in Horny, a company that makes dildos and they made me two exploding penises.”

There’s also a pair of exploding breasts in the film, but Peaches is less impressed with how they come across.

“I must say the dick was much better than the boobs.”

A replacement pair of blasting boobs was eventually crafted for the stage, but logistics prevented them from getting their big movie break.

“One unfortunate thing is that we did have new boobs — new exploding boobs that were way better — but we had to use the shots of the old ones and actually we had to reshoot one scene where I had to put on the old costume for the closeups and stuff.”

The new, improved and more Cronenergian boobs are now in storage in Berlin, thwarting any temptation she might have had to wear them on the red carpet for the film’s premiere.

If things go well with Peaches Does Herself the artist says that she’d be interested in revisiting it as a theatrical production, but it would have to have the right funds behind it.

“I’m waiting for a mega-producer to give me money, and then I’m there. Let’s see… who should give me the money? Maybe if we say someone’s name, they’ll set us up,” she says with a mischievous grin. “I want money from… I want money from Snoop Dogg.”

“Snoop Lion,” a member of the documentary crew that’s currently following Peaches around corrects her. It’s one of the many projects she currently has on the go, including a new single (“BURST!”, which comes out next month), DJ gigs and her continuing efforts to support Pussy Riot.

“Snoop Lion? He’s not Snoop Dogg anymore?” she asks.

“He’s a reggae artist,” it’s explained.

Peaches shakes her head, unimpressed.

“Then I don’t want him. Forget it,” she says dismissively. “But really, in a real world, it should be Tina Fey.”

In the meantime, the singer is doing things the low budget way, trying to wrangle the cast of Peaches Does Herself for a Friday night performance piece at Toronto’s Drake Hotel called, appropriately enough, Peaches Does The Drake, and attempting to find family and friends who will let everyone crash with them during TIFF to save on hotel costs.

After that, it looks like PDH is primed to take on the film circuit. On the strength of the first press screening alone, Peaches has already received offers from other festivals. Beyond that, she’s hoping that the picture reaches the kind of cult status the live show was starting to cultivate in Berlin.

“I started to see people who came the second time start to dress up. If it went on longer, maybe it would have started to have that Rocky Horror kind of feel of yelling things and stuff. I think someone even threw something one night.”

In other words, does that mean that she’s hoping that her film will someday have its own callbacks and midnight screenings?

“Hell yeah!” she says smiling.

This feature originally appeared September 14, 2012 on AOL Spinner.

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Polaris Podcast Went To Hamilton For EP15

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

For episode 15 of the Polaris Podcast we went on the road and recorded a house show of sorts in Hamilton, Ontario.

The event, which was held at Jillard Guitars, featured jurors Jamie Tennant (CFMU), J.C. Villamere (villamere.com) and Biljana Njegovan (Cut From Steel).

This and other Polaris Podcast episodes can be found on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.

Or if you can’t be bothered to go that far you can listen to it right here:

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Jenesia Tackle Poverty, Abuse



Spruce Grove, Alberta pop duo Jenesia are using their music to further good causes.

The pair are speaking up on topics like poverty and sexual abuse.

I spoke to them about their social efforts in a feature for Samaritanmag.

To read it go here.


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Massive Attack: Pre-Millennium Tension

Massive Attack

Massive Attack

Look over your shoulder, keep your eye on your neighbour, trust no one: These are sentiments usually reserrved for paranormal-hunting government agents, not rock stars, but the leery eye has afflicted Massive Attack, too. Mezzanine, the Bristol trip-hop trio’s new album, is more spycatchers’ guide to self-help than bass-bin beach party.

Indeed, bubbling just beneath the monstrous bass lines and Liz Fraser’s (Cocteau Twins) sweet vocal mixes is a tension you’ll miss if you don’t pay attention. But it’s there — wild-eyed suspicion.

“Being in a band is quite schizophrenic, really,” says 3D. “We spend a lot of time away from home and when we get back we don’t relate to people necessarily.” He’s unshaven and looks as though he could have authored numerous conspiracy theories, rather than dub-infected pop songs. “These things do lead to a bit of insecurity and paranoia and that’s reflected in the music.”

You wouldn’t think a group as important as Massive Attack would need to be a wary lot. Three albums in (Blue Lines ’91, Protection ’94, Mezzanine ’98), the aforementioned 3D, Daddy G and Mushroom are pretty well-established these days. They work with Madonna; get to pick and choose who they’ll remix; and the band have become both a popular pick and a critical fave. If you trace Massive’s roots back to its genesis hanging in Nelle Hooper’s crew, it’s not a great stretch to suggest that the Attack is single-handedly responsible for creating the trip-hop genre.

However, a quick listen to the dark “Group 4” from Mezzanine suggests they’re still more trench coat than top hat. Lyrical snippets: “While TV cameras monitor me” and “I train myself in martial arts” don’t exactly ring out peace, love and positive vibes. Throw in the equally sinister “Angel” and the reptilian “Inertia Creeps” and there’s little doubt the band is looking over its collective shoulder.

“It’s one of the themes on this record,” says 3D. “I mean, we haven’t gone out and been deliberately dark in this end-of-the-century kind of way that says everyone’s getting darker… it’s like a general end-of-the-century kind of freak show going on, y’know what I mean?”

“With us it’s just based on themes in our lives — our relationships.”

From that, one could gather Bristol is some James Bond-ian swing town where rock stars double as covert ops in crazy world domination schemes. Sadly, it’s far less glamourous. Mushroom suggests: “A quick night in Bristol. You probably come down there. Go to the pub. Then go home,” he says, laughing.

“People think Bristol is a marketplace town like Seattle,” Mushroom continues. “You walk down the street and see Portishead hanging on one corner and we’d be on another and Roni Size’d be on the next. It’s all really just people staying in. It’s a really boring town, actually.”

If Bristol is so boring, then the wariness so palpable in songs like the rolling-thunder “Risingson” must come from somewhere else.

Perhaps somewhere even closer to home — in their heads. The next three hypothetical scenarios give weight to this theory by showing Massive Attack even exhibit hints of suspicion in their humour.

Who would win a battle royale between Madonna, Goldie, Tricky and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince?

3D pipes in immediately: “Madonna’s the richest, so she’d probably hire some serious assassins. She’d make the phone call and that would be it — done.” Then, with more introspection — but also with more secret knowledge implied, Mushroom adds, “You wouldn’t be able to find Goldie because he’d know it would be coming up, and he’d just run out the back door and sic pit bulls on ’em.”

If six death-metallers with swords and two rappers with Glocks are 10 feet apart, then start to fight, who’ll win? “Glocks are going to win against swords every time man,” says 3D. “Yeah,” adds Mushroom.” You don’t miss with someone with a sword coming at you.”

If everyone smoked a big joint simultaneously would it mean a massive shortage of junk food an hour later? “I think there would be riots,” says 3D.

Riots, pit bulls, sleazy short guys with gold teeth? It screams out “vivid imagination,” but check the Horace Andy-sung “Man Next Door” and you’ll know Massive Attack truly believe in these type of characters and scenarios, and always have.

Indeed, even the band agrees. As 3D says, “We’re pretty much the same place [as that]. The same level, the same mentality.”

This feature originally appeared in the May 1998 issue of Chart Magazine.

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Feist & K-OS Featured On Polaris Podcast EP14

Polaris Podcast EP7 was live from Ottawa.

The focus of Polaris Podcast episode 14 was two albums that had received Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize hall of fame designation — Feist’s Let It Die and K-OS’s Joyful Rebellion.

For this episode we interviewed expert Polaris jurors Karen Bliss and Tabassum Siddiqui.

This and other Polaris Podcast episodes can be found on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.

But if you can’t be bothered to go that far you can listen to it right here:

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