5 Must-see Movies from This Year’s Hot Docs Festival

There’s a reason we love documentaries: their beauty, power, influence and impact cannot be argued. They can cover any subject and be made by anyone, anywhere. There are no rules not really, except your movie needs to be true. Mostly true, anyway.

Documentaries can be transportive and awe-inducing, like the Planet Earth series or The Eagle Huntress. They can be unexpected and emotional like The Wolfpack. They can be terrifying, mystifying and ridiculous. They can also keep you up into the early hours of the morning, clicking next video after next video, winding up on conspiracy theory films about lizard people and the Illuminati.

I’m speaking from personal experience here.

It’s no wonder why we love watching documentaries and why events that honour them garner a fair bit of attention and excitement. I’m talking, of course, about the Canadian International Documentary Festival, which will take place at the Hot Docs theatre in Toronto from April 27th-May 7th.

This year’s festival packs a stellar line-up into its 11-day run. The documentaries being shown cover continents and topics. I can guarantee you’ll find at least one that interests you, but if you’re stuck, here’s our shortlist of some of the must-see documentaries playing during this year’s festival.

Becoming Who I Was

Via Hot Docs Box Office

Directed by Jin Jeong, Becoming Who I Was tells the story of Padma Angdu, an impoverished boy who discovers he is the reincarnation of a prominent Tibetan monk. The movie covers eight years of Padma’s life, from when he is banished from the local monastery, to his powerful bond with his godfather and journey to return to his rightful place.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Rat Film

So, there’s a documentary about rats. Specifically, there’s a documentary about how the infestation of rats in Baltimore is a problem born from the segregation of ethnic minorities into impoverished neighbourhoods. Directed by Theo Anthony, this film uses a city’s rodent problem to demonstrate the ways a society has failed its people in the most basic ways. Rat Film is not one to be missed.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tiger Spirit

North Korea has become a modern boogeyman to the world, but Min Sook Lee’s 2007 documentary goes beyond the usual narrative of fear and dystopia to look at two nations struggling with closed-off borders and the after-effects of war. Lee also incorporates her own experience shooting the documentary while six months pregnant into the subject matter, asking the question of who is and isn’t allowed to report from unstable countries. In our current political climate, this documentary needs to be seen again.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tokyo Idols

In a society where youth and celebrity are vital, Tokyo Idols is a highly relevant look at a culture that makes an industry out of these phenomena. In Tokyo, teenage idols perform lip-synch dance shows for an audience filled with middle-aged men who drop vast amounts of cash to be able just to meet and see them. Competition between the idols is fierce and the criticism from their dedicated fan base is relentless. Kyoko Miyake’s documentary dives into this world of fantasy fulfillment through following a 19-year-old performer and her 43-year-old fan.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Quest

Via Facebook.

In a basement in Northern Philadelphia, Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his wife Christine’a “Ma’ Quest” create an artistic getaway for their community, allowing young people to express their feelings and frustrations through song on “Freestyle Fridays” and serving as role models to their own children and those that visit them. Director Jonathan Olshefski shot Quest over a 10-year period, following the family in their day-to-day lives. It is an honest, hope-filled look at good people living in a country that is more uneasy than ever.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

 

 

Novella’s April Toronto Art Guide

For the month of April, we invite you to consider perspective: new perspectives or looking at something from a different one. Art is allows us to engage with perspectives we may not normally encounter, to use metaphor as a way to connect and understand. While these exhibitions are all vastly different in content, they will really make you consider your own point of view in contrast with that of those around you.

FEMME FUTURE: WRESTLING WRESIDENCY (MARCH 27TH—APRIL 9TH)

It shouldn’t be too hard to see wrestling as a tool for storytelling. Consider the luchadores of Lucha libre from Mexico: the masks, the dramatics, the history. Wrestling is, at its core, bodies interacting with other bodies and communicating through movement.

The League of Lady Wrestlers aren’t aiming to tell stories in their exhibition at the Gladstone Art Hut, but their goal is to convey ideas about feminine identity and empowerment through wrestling performances set up in the hut and a documentary by one of the league members. Intrigued? We certainly are.

Find more information here.

VPN TO IRL (MARCH 31ST—APRIL 29TH)

Think, for a moment, about every relationship you have online. Now consider what would happen if your interactions within those relationships occurred in real life. That’s part of the thought process behind the group exhibition at the Xpace Cultural Centre this month. The interactive exhibit, a collaboration between Ronnie Clark, Marlon Kroll, Sophia Oppel, and Timothy Truong, aims to construct a new reality around participants based on connections and constant feedback. The installation is looking at something we are only just beginning to skim the surface of in our own society: the ethics of the Internet and its consequences in real life.

Find more information here.

NAOKO MATSUBARA (APRIL 1ST—22ND)

Japanese artist Naoko Matsubara will be the featured artist at Abbozzo Gallery for the month of April. Matsubara’s reputation as a skilled printmaking artist precedes her, with accolades from Carnegie Mellon University and a previous teaching position at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Matsubara’s work is absolutely stunning and demands to be seen in person. Luckily for us, we’ll have the chance for a whole month.

Find more information here.

FOR THE LEFT HAND ALONE (APRIL 1ST—29TH)

Most of you are probably familiar with the phantom limb; the idea when the person who loses a limb is haunted by a feeling, maybe an itch or an ache, where the limb used to be. In her video exhibition at Trinity Square Video, artist Karilynn Ming Ho examines the phantom limb sensations as unrequited longing, as a way to navigate an increasingly disembodied world and our relationships to representations of bodies that are not genuine.

Find more information here.

[EXPLETIVE DELETED] (APRIL 5TH—16TH)

Think of a curse word. Right now. Maybe you can say it out loud, or maybe you can’t, because swear words hold context and connotations when used. Your character is usually reflected negatively by the curse word. But what about when we really need to say one?

We live in very strange times. Letting loose some expletives is, frankly, one way to cope with the madness of our current world. This is what visual artists Diego De La Rosa, Abbey Laura Pauline Gagnon, Greg McCarthy, and Dermot O’Brien are looking at in their group show at Gallery 50 this month. Through their own media, these artists will respond to the swear word-inducing times we live in.

Find more information here.

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20 Songs to Help You Get Over Winter

Winter is a fact of life for us in Canada. It’s long, harsh and hangs by its fingernails on the coattails of March, only to be finally dragged away by the wind and rain of April.

We’re finally in spring territory now. This first day of spring occurred earlier this week, the days are getting longer and the sun seems just a little higher in the sky.

Don’t get me wrong, I like living in a place that has four seasons – it makes you more appreciative of agreeable weather when we have it. It’s just that there are days when spring and summer are merely distant memories and not the very near future.

If you, like us, need a little post-winter, pre-summer music pick-me-up, we’ve got recommendations for you of sun-soaked tracks to take you into the lighter time of year.

Kings of Leon – “Back Down South”

Come Around Sundown is one of my all-time favourite summer albums, and “Back Down South” is one of my favourite tracks off of it. Due in part to their deep southern roots, Kings Of Leon always bring a summery, sweaty sound to the table, and this track is all of that, but tapped with a bit of nostalgia, for those warm nights when you’re thinking about home.

Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”

I inherently associate Frank Ocean’s first album Channel Orange with warm weather because that’s when I first heard it. “Sweet Life” in particular is a slow, sultry jam begging to be played while lounging poolside or kicking back on a street curb with soft sunlight kissing your cheeks.

Geowulf – “Saltwater”

“Saltwater” is a track that absolutely needs to be played on a sunny day (despite the music video taking place at night.) From the dreamy guitar riffs to the melancholic lyrics, it brings you right back to days at the beach, where it’s nothing but you, the sun and the waves.

Tinashe – “Flame”

Let me be clear: any Tinashe song is a good bet to play any day in the year. But I’ve got a feeling that “Flame” is going to be a real banger this spring, and what better way to welcome in the warmer weather than a hot track by the hottest of the hot herself.

Hinds – “San Diego”

Girl-band Hinds brings the perfect blend of youth-powered garage rock and beach boardwalk tunes to the scene. Their song “San Diego” has an unstoppable energy and all the attitude when you need to start wearing shorts again after going six months without.

Janet Jackson – “Escapade”

I mean. I MEAN. Do I even need to say anything else about the ultimate vacation jam from the ultimate dance-pop diva?

Lower Dens – “To Die in L.A.”

This is actually a sad song. It’s not about happy, spring-y feels. But sometimes the warmer seasons aren’t about running in a field or cuddling on a ferris wheel. Sometimes they’re about riding around downtown L.A. in your convertible moaning about the one that broke your heart. The lyrics are heart-wrenching, the vibe is ridiculously cool.

Alabama Shakes – “Hang Loose”

Alabama Shakes is a fantastic group. Brittany Howard’s voice alone could wake me from my wintery grave and have me born anew. “Hang Loose” is a loud, boisterous call to life, to hang on and hope. As Howard belts out in the chorus, “We’re gonna be alright.”

Khalid – “American Teen”

This entire album is AMAZING. And the entire album is summer vibes for sure. Khalid’s jams are  simultaneously smooth and cocky, fresh and shy, much like the actual experience of being a teenager. The title track off of American Teen to me, gives the ultimate throwback to teenage summers, when there was nothing to do but cause trouble.

Empire of the Sun – “Half Mast”

This song is a ridiculous, ridiculously catchy pop ride through space. That is exactly how I would describe it. Empire of the Sun take you through the trials and tribulations of love with an electro beat and punchy vocals. (This is another track that I absolutely need to listen to on sunny days.)

On June x KEVI – “Sunrise”

“Sunrise” is one of those essential tropical house tracks for parties on the beach and long, warm nights in good company. The whole song is just screaming “summer.”

Girlhood – “Say It”

The fact this video has so few views on YouTube is insane. This track is so good! It gives a sick throwback to the 90s while touching on the current mood and vibe of young women. It’s a slow and easy track, easy to get lost in when you close your eyes and just listen.

Sublime – “Doin’ Time”

Sublime is a bit of a strange group, but they make some awesome music. This offbeat track is a great companion to help get you into the mood for the carefree mood of the summertime.

Vampire Weekend – “Walcott”

There’s something about this song, maybe it’s the piano riff, maybe it’s Ezra Koenig’s voice, or maybe it’s the fact the song mentions Cape Cod; either way, there’s something about this song that makes it sound just like summer.

Swim Deep – “Honey”

“Honey” sounds like a trip to the beach. Do you know what I mean? And if the line “Don’t just dream in your sleep/it’s just lazy” doesn’t inspire you to daydream the day away, then I don’t know what will.

Real Estate – “Easy”

Every Real Estate song ever is about summer. Trust me. Any song from the album Days could’ve worked for this list. “Easy” was chosen because 1) it’s one of the beach-iest and 2) I just really like it.

RAC – “Hollywood” feat. Penguin Prison

I don’t consider this a warm-weather song per say, but it does make me think of L.A. an awful lot, which in turn makes me think of warm weather. And honestly, this tune is just so catchy and pop-y. It’s easy to listen to, easy to get stuck in your head, easy to bop around to.

Only Real – “Get It On”

This definitely isn’t a song for everyone. It’s a British, white boy rapping with 90s-sounding instrumentals. I love it, and for me, it’s brazen and weird enough to make it into my essential summer tracks playlist. I’ll warn you though: it may make you want to steal a shopping cart and ride it down a hill. For no reason at all.

The Marvelettes – “Playboy”

If you like girl groups, or specifically, if you like girl groups from the 60s, then The Marvelettes are your gals for chirpy songs about beautiful-yet-terrible boys. This is a good one to play whilst sitting outside in the sun with your friends, complaining about every person you know.

Yolanda B Cool & DCUP – “From Me to You”

Okay, so the music video for this song features palm trees and girls in bikinis. Even aside from that, this is another song that is the embodiment of summer parties, either on a beach, on a rooftop or in someone’s basement. You don’t need to actually be in paradise. Let the music take you there.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of PFW Street Style

In terms of style, there are few things more iconic or elusive than the “French woman.” It has always served as the pinnacle of effortless chic. Despite certain well-known tricks of the trade (i.e. lots of black, tailored jackets, simplicity), it has always been difficult for those of us not French to emulate.

But for Paris Fashion Week, the focus is not actually on Parisian style per say. It’s about the individual, about the movers and shakers who come for the shows and linger long after in the blogosphere consciousness. For the Fall/Winter 2017 collections, we saw a parade of styles and creativity. We saw bright colours, graphic patterns, mixed textures, and, as always, the casual air of someone who is rocking their look and completely knows it. That, more than anything, might be the biggest secret of effortless style.

Here are some of our favourite trends from PFW street style.

Floral Accents

I, unfortunately, hear Meryl Streep’s voice saying, “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking,” every time I consider wearing florals this time of year. The truth of the matter is, I do like wearing florals, and they do appear in the spring more often than any other time of year. The floral accents we saw at Paris were mainly outerwear details, as show-goers were still fighting the cold while welcoming the change in season. These gorgeous floral prints definitely stood out during the gray days in Paris.

Photo By Jonathan Daniel Pryce via British Vogue
Photo By Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo By Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle

Denim on Denim

The Canadian Tuxedo trend has officially taken over, and I’m ambivalent about it. Mostly because I associate it so much with my parents’ friends in the 90’s, but here we are seeing it go international. I’ll allow it, mainly because it has brought out some crazy good streetwear looks both back here in Canada and worldwide.

Photo By Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Imaxtree via The Fashion Spot
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

Shoe Gaze

Colourful, statement shoes were one of the main accessories seen in Paris, from the new Balenciaga heels to the mismatched Celine booties. Shoes are the perfect way to make any outfit a little bit more, to add some extra drama. The photographers’ gazes dipped a little bit lower on the Paris streets to catch some of these wickedly cool kicks.

Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Sandra Semburg for Vogue Paris
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle

Vinyl Tap

Standard leather fare needs to take a breather because high-shine vinyl has arrived. Not to say it wasn’t here before, but it’s definitely here now in a big way. It was seen on the streets in pants and jacket forms. This would seemingly be a difficult trend to style on the regular, but the folks at Fashion Week have shown that it’s actually pretty easy to wear and easy to pair.

Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Brock Cardiner via High Snobriety
Photo by The Stylograph via Who What Wear
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

Statement Shades

When the sun finally came out in Paris, the best accessory to whip out was a killer pair of sunnies, and the show-goers certainly delivered. Glasses are an accessory, like a great watch or a pair of earrings, that can tie a look together. It’s that finishing touch, that metaphorical cherry on top that takes an outfit to another level.

Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

The New Monochrome

Traditionally, I considered monochrome to be when one dresses entirely in black or white. And while that is true based by definition, for the past few years, street style has given us a new way to think about monochrome. It’s wearing only one shade or colour, but picking any shade or colour you want — it can be blue, red, green or yellow, but that colour takes over the look. And the effect is striking.

Photo by The Stylograph via Who What Wear
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle
Photo by Imaxtree via The Fashion Spot
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris

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A Conversation with Andi: Singer, Songwriter and Producer

In the world of digital communication and social media, making your way as a solo musician is both easier and harder than it’s ever been. Easier because of the access to resources and open platforms, for putting out your content, and harder because of stiff competition and an overflow of options available to the public. Like most artistic professions, it takes talent and dedication.

Toronto-based singer-songwriter Andi definitely has the talent, and is now putting in the time and dedication. Having already released her debut EP SKETCHES last January, Andi is already writing and producing a second album while performing all over the city with her band.

We spent an afternoon with the 21-year-old artist at the Botanical Gardens to talk songwriting, management, and why criticism is a good thing.

Natasha Grodzinski: When did you make the decision to pursue music as a solo artist?

Andi: I’ve always been in the arts. I didn’t start in music, but I tried every facet to see which one served me best, which one was the best to express myself with. I tried acting, filmmaking and I enjoyed all of them, but music stuck. It was what I was passionate about, the one where I thought, ‘I could do this every day of my life.’ As soon as music was what I decided to do, which I think was around high school, I knew I wanted to be a solo artist. I wanted to write my own stuff and decide the direction of my art. I didn’t want to make any compromises that I didn’t have to. I wanted to work with others, but I wanted to be in control of my work.

NG: Did you study music at all, or did you pick it up naturally?

A: I took piano when I was a little kid for a long time and I’ve always sung, I love doing it. I didn’t do any professional training at all. In high school I had a great jazz program, in this little high school is Caledon called Humberview. They had a great jazz choral section and we performed at Disney World! It was really awesome. I tried out for Humber College and did a year of jazz training with a professional there, then left and started doing it for a living.

NG: Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?

A: Yes. Yes I do. There’s been several things that I’ve worked on where there’s been a due date, and I’ve pushed it back. I won’t put something out unless it’s exactly what I envisioned. It’s very rare I’ll start a song or a video without a very specific idea of what the endgame is, and I will not stop until that’s fulfilled. I couldn’t put out something that was half done.

NG: So you’re writing all of your own music — are you producing it all as well?

A: I produced very heavily on my first album. I’m still producing heavily on this one, but more so in a partnership with my producer Paul Barton, who is also a member of my band. It essentially works that I’ll write the tune, I’ll write the chords, and bring that skeleton of the song to my producer. We’ll go back and forth, then I’ll bring in instrumentalists from my band. We’ll go in a patchwork way until everything is there.

NG: Have you found difficulty in working with a producer and a band? Or does it ease the process?

A: I’ve had difficulty with producers in the past because all of them were very clear that they wanted to create my sound for me, or they wanted to create my image for me, or I wasn’t dong right by my sound. Some said it was too alternative while others said it was too pop. That’s impossible to work with. The producer I’m with now, is an incredible musician and an credible producer, and is devoted to my vision for a song. He’ll make it happen. We work well together and have similar instincts, so it’s very easy.

NG: That’s a great partnership.

A: It really is, and it definitely is more of a partnership than a collaboration. He’s on every track.

NG: How did that partnership come about? Was it from working with the band?

A: I’d say the band came after the music. The music happens first, then the band comes in, and when I start writing I didn’t have a band. I met Paul early on when I was making my first album. We weren’t even playing it yet!

NG: Tell me about the experience of creating that first album.

A: Oh, it was amazing.  I just thought, ‘I need to make an album.’ I had just gotten out of school and just had this random fluke performance with David Foster. That propelled me out of school to making an album, which is really what I needed to do. I had all of these ideas and they needed to be out here so I can move on. You know, when you make music, I think it’s best if it’s here, if it’s live, you finish it, you put it out and that way, what you’ve made and the space you’ve made is relevant to the space people listen to. I don’t want to say it’s time-sensitive, but it almost feels that way.

NG: Because this record was made so much in a particular moment, was there a specific vibe or concept happening?

A: I think that album was very much an introduction, you know? I was just testing the grounds. That was my first try at producing myself — that whole album taught me how to make music, really. A lot of it was about personal situations. It was a very introverted record. Now that I have that know-how — how to produce and write — my next project is about looking outwards and talking about issues, not so much about personal relationships.

NG: It’s moving into a bigger sphere.

A: It’s more commentary, it’s more imaginative, it’s a bit more outwards.

NG: How would you describe your sound?

A: Alternative pop is the umbrella term, but it draws from a lot of different aspects, since I love different types of music. There’s influences from RnB, electronic, noise rock, and independent rock. It’s kind of whatever aspects of those genres lend to a specific song. If a certain song has an attitude lyrically of the RnB realm, then I’m going to pull from that aspect and tonality. If it needs something a bit heavier or something to represent angst or self-conflict in the lyrics, then I’ll bring in some noise rock inspiration.

NG: It’s interesting that the sound is based off of the words.

A: Or the general concept of the tune. It’s a package. I’m very concerned with things being fluid while having a sense and a purpose. It’s just how I write. I’m a songwriter for sure.

NG: Bring us into your songwriting process. Do you start with a big concept or do you start small?

A: Well, every song is pretty unique. I’m heavily inspired by visuals, so often, when I have a song, I’ll come up with a concept anytime I’m analyzing myself or what I think about something. I’ll think, ‘Oh, this is something I can write about. This is something that is important to me.’ When I start thinking about that, I immediately gather visuals that go with what I’m thinking of. Once I have the first verse and the chorus, I usually put together a board of visuals. I’ll either print them out or make them digitally. I’ll use that as a reference to keep writing and to create the atmosphere of the song. That’s often a direct link to how I make music videos.

NG: It’s interesting that you use such a visual process for something focusing on words and audio.

A: It’s all the same thing to me. I grew up in a gallery, my father is a visual artist. I did art for years and still do. I tattoo and illustrate to keep the wheels going for music. Laughs. Visual art has always been a big part of my life. When it comes to art, they’re inseparable for me.

NG: I was thinking something similar when I saw the video for Caffeine. It’s so beautiful visually that you get the sense some of the stills could be a painting.

A: Actually, I do have paintings and illustrations of the storyboard at home. When I made the video, I illustrated a full storyboard, which is great for videos because you can literally align your time to the musical beat. I can say, okay, four beats on this one shot, then let’s take a rest and go to a black shot for a second and then come in on three with the wide pan. You can use the language of musical theory to align the shots. That’s why I love how organized music video planning can be. In order to get the right tone for Caffeine and to really translate it to the videographers, I did illustrations, I made visions boards and I had the whole illustrated storyboard. I also used that as a guide to edit when I brought it back to the studio.

Andi’s storyboard for the Caffeine music video.

 

Another image for the Caffeine video by Andi.

NG: Do you think you’ll do that for every music video, having the concepts so clearly laid out?

A: It’s pretty much where every song comes from. Obviously not every one will be made into a video. It does help me write. Maybe that’s my ties to film — I love filmmaking and I love movies. half of my reason why I love art in the music realm is I get to make music videos.  As a lover of film and a lover of any kind of movie or TV aspect, I feel as though I have a similar palette in knowing what visuals and what colours go with certain music.

NG: It’s making the music atmospheric.

A: That’s what I’m hoping for! I’m concerned, not outwardly because I’m sure people will make their own opinions about my music and that’s really all I want, but for me, the important thing about my music is I’m making it for me. This is the only thing I really want to do in my life. Making this art makes me happy, and to make it the way I want, a true expression of my vision. I want to represent ideas, colours and feelings.

NG: That’s important, I think. It’s as though you need to do this because it’s the best way for you to express yourself.

A: I do. I need to do this. Part of me almost feels like it’s a little selfish because I do make music for myself, but I think you can only make art that isn’t inhibited if you are making it for yourself. If you’re making it for someone else, then other people’s expectations get in the way of your creative plans, your flow of art and recognizing how you look at things, whether it’s flawed, straight up or abstract. That’s your interpretation of visuals. I think Bjork is a really good example of this. She says she can’t talk about her music too much with people because she needs to focus in on what she wants. When other people come in, it’s almost like a radio is on. You can get confused. I find myself very easily influenced by other people’s expectations. What I need to do is focus on what I expect of me. When I do that, I come up with my best stuff.

NG: In the writing process, then, do you go to a very introspective place?

A: I do! My studio is out in Caledon, out in the country on a 20-acre property. I come to Toronto and do all of my work and then I leave to the country. I stay in my very clean room and have a very scheduled day. That helps me return with an energy and an expectation for what I have to do, so I can make art every day. It’s so hard. Anyone who does art knows the hardest thing is doing it, is getting up and actually doing it. Everyone procrastinates the hell out of it. You’ll go on and live your life until you have to make it. And then you make it.

NG: These songs are your babies, right? You write them and produce them…

A: They are my babies. I love them.

NG: Do you get nervous when you put them out to the public because they’re so personal and you put so much into them?

A: I think I only ever feel worried about the expectations of my family. Everyone has that — who puts out any art. You don’t really want to talk to your family about your darkest personal feelings. When you put that out there people could judge you, but I think you just need to be like, ‘Well, this is me.’ I stand by each track, I stand by the message and I feel confident. If I can do that and feel that way before anyone else hears it, then I’m okay.

A lot of my songs are about sexuality, they’re about women, they’re about being a woman — it’s stuff that sometimes people don’t want to talk about, or something people won’t always talk about legitimately. Talking about women’s sexuality is a whole spectrum of opinions from different people.

NG: Looking forward to your next album, what can you take away from your experience working on the first one?

A: Well, the good thing about the last album was I started it and didn’t know how to make music, and I finished it and had a pretty good idea. Laughs. This album, first of all, is just way easier. Writing each song isn’t a terrible struggle. Writing now comes much more naturally. I don’t have to focus so much on the basics. I can expand a bit more musically and lyrically.

I was proud of the last album. It was a good introduction and it was a good presentation of me in that time. The biggest thing I can take away from that is I want this album to be just as genuine. I’ve changed, it’s been a couple of years. Everyone changes, hopefully. I want to do another accurate representation of who I am. I want to be honest and vulnerable, and that’s hard. It’s hard to be vulnerable in music when you can rewrite it, to make yourself sound better.

NG: While you’re in the process of creating this next album, are you performing live?

A: Yeah, we’ve got a couple of shows coming up. We’ve got one March 30th at the Rivoli. Got another one April 27th at the Supermarket. And we’ll be performing all the way through the summer, right until this album comes out.

NG: Do you love performing live?

A: I do! It’s not the same feeling I get as when I’m writing. I love writing and producing, that’s my favourite. I am a recording artist first before I’m a performer, I think, but when you share this stuff is when it’s alive. For example, I hadn’t heard my last album for a long time, and I thought, this music needs to breathe. It needs to get out there. That’s when people can really hear it, when they see you perform it and see how much it means to you.

NG: You’re also an independent artist. Is that a important part of the process to you?

A: It’s so confusing nowadays, where your lines are on how you own your art. I’m independent, and purposefully so. I want to own my music for as long as I can. In a label you can still own your music, but it gets hard. Creatively, you have to compromise, so I’m going to do everything on my own [for as long as] I possibly can, before joining up. I think any independent artist should do that. In this time, in the digital age, it’s so easy to just do what you need to do as long as you work your ass off. All the resources are there.

Something people may not realize when you are an independent artist, especially a solo artist — when you don’t have a band co-owning your music — is it’s 70% non-music work. It’s managing and scheduling. You have to be the boss of it. If you want to get somewhere, you have to work hard. Every day.

I realize as a musician it’s hard to prove yourself again and again, because that’s what it is. Even with artists who are big, they have music, they put it out and you’re just waiting after that record is out for them to put out another record to prove that they still got it, or they’re still hip. You know, that can be really discouraging. And again, it’s one of those things you can write for. You could write to prove yourself. The best thing to do is just follow your own expectations. You should be confident and do that but also always stay humble. Know where you are. Don’t get Kanye about it. I mean, I love Kanye, but don’t get Kanye about it. You have to listen to other people. Constructive criticism is so important. It’s hard, but it’s awesome.

I am an artist who works on her own and I only collaborate so often, but I listen to the people I collaborate with. I take their opinions and I learn, I grow. Don’t be afraid to change, even if it’s your own stuff.

You can visit Andi’s website here and see her Instagram here.  

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