A Conversation with Parris on Rose Gold

In special relationships an artist has with their craft, their inspired beginnings often vary. Whether it’s through a musical upbringing or an early interest in performance, there is a connection that is hard to put into words. And once that connection is found, it is hard to ignore and will forever fuel your creative drive. There are many notable up-and-coming artists in the Toronto music scene, and Parris is certainly one of them. We had the opportunity to chat with him about the inspirations behind his writing process and his upcoming project, Rose Gold, with which he brings us classic R&B with a twist. Get ready for it.

Kimberley Drapack: How did you first get involved with music?

Parris: My mother used to constantly play great albums in the house while we were cleaning or doing other things like going to the grocery store or even on our way to church. She would play anyone from Michael Jackson to Sade, and ’70s and ’80s new wave & alternative rock. Her catalogue of music is definitely a part of the reason why I’m doing music today. I was always singing all of her favourite songs everywhere we went, but my mother wasn’t one to judge me, even though it must have annoyed her at times. The voice I had then isn’t [like] the voice I have now. My passion to create music was self-induced but my mother’s positive influence over me definitely had an enormous role in the reason why I create music today.

K: What’s has it been like growing up in Toronto and your music developing within this scene?

P: Growing up in Toronto has been a blessing. I’ve met so many great minds living here in the city and built relationships that I know will last my entire lifetime. It is a big city with a tight knit community of creatives. Sometimes people’s egos clash in the music scene but it’s minor given the potential for growth within the city. Making music in the city with my friends is probably the most exciting to me. It fell into place naturally as if it was meant to be.

K: Your upcoming project, Rose Gold is classified as an R&B album. Can you tell us about the project?

P: Rose Gold means the world to me. This is going to be one of my most collaborative works but it’s pretty personal. I don’t want to give it all away just yet, but I’ll let you know that most of the subject matter on it is relationship based. This project is going to be something people will really appreciate because the content isn’t only up with the times, it also has its own unique sound to it.

I’m 23 years old, and before my birthday, which just passed at the beginning of this year, I told myself that I’d be more patient and take a lot more time with the whole process. My previous tape Point Five was pretty solid but it was a bit forced. I don’t regret the way I went about it because I definitely learned what I needed to know now to make Rose Gold a solid piece of art.

K: What inspires your writing process?

P: I used to get writer’s blocks all the time. I have breathing and meditative exercises that not only help me with writing but also help me with life in general. I’m a big believer in Christ and grew up in a Christian home so it all balances out for me in the end. That’s a bit off topic, but it has a lot to do with how I deal with the stresses of having creative blocks. I write best when I’m inspired and as soon as I feel like I’m losing it I walk away and come back to it at another time.

K: What other producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?

P: There are definitely some really hot artists and producers coming out of the city right now who’ve inspired me to do more than I’ve ever done musically [so far]. Artists and producers like Villabeats, DrewHoward, & MaxG have amazing work ethics that I not only admire but try to mimic myself.

K: What are the biggest sacrifices you have had to make for your career, if any?

P: The biggest sacrifice that I’ve made is time with my family and friends. People assume that there isn’t much work and time put into beautiful works of music but once they get into the studio and see the process, their whole concept of the industry changes. I love and think about my family and friends all the time so having them in my mind while I’m creating keeps me fluid.

K: What can we expect from you in 2017?

P: What the world could expect this year is a bunch of smiles and a lot of laughter. My team and I are so blessed to be able to bring beautiful music to the world. There isn’t much else we could ask for. Everyone behind this project seems to be of a really content vibe and that’s what it’s all about.

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Hot List: Artist Osheen Harruthoonyan

Osheen Harruthoonyan is an experimental photography-based artist working out of Montréal, Canada. He photographs using B+W film and prints on fibre based gelatin silver paper. Drawing upon his rich experiences growing up in Iran, Greece and Canada, he employs a multi-faceted approach towards his artistic practice; investigating the complex relationships between memory, history and time. Osheen’s work has been featured on the CBC, Vice, Bravo! Arts Channel, Space Channel’s InnerSPACE, and numerous national and international exhibitions and
publications.

Best Fall Fashion Ads… So Far

To some, the outlandish tactics used to garner attention within the fashion industry may seem like ridiculous attempts to either shock or put out confusing jumbles and present them as art. And though that may be true to a certain extent, there is one area where designers, film makers, photographers, and artists all agree: that bigger and bolder is always better. Fashion ad campaigns are one of the most important things that brands put out throughout the year, second only to the products made by the brand itself. They showcase the created message that may not have reached its audience during the initial runway show. Here, the entire creative team can create a fantasy world based on the collection, fragrance, cosmetic, or accessory that the ad is based on, taking whatever unanswered questions the collection left behind and filling in the blank spots on the canvas.

Christian Dior Fall 2017-18

Although some may say that Maria Grazia Chiuri’s work at the iconic house of Dior is lacklustre, it’s undeniable that this ad campaign injects brute strength that may have been missing during the show. With Dior favourites like Ruth Bell and Fernanda Ly, the original idea of outfitting a strong and unapologetic woman in Dior is completely evident in this campaign. The pulsing, industrial music and stark black and white create an air of strength that follows each model as they twirl, stomp, and pose in their black leather berets.

Valentino Menswear Fall 2017-18

Menswear sometimes gets a bad rep of being the less inspired and completely out of touch brother to high fashion womenswear. However, many brands are starting to take notice on how important the men’s fashion has become. Valentino is definitely one of those brands. In recent years, Valentino has made amazing strides in taking their brand from luxury tailoring to here and now men’s fashion. Valentino is no longer your rich grandfather’s go-to suit, and their campaign for fall proves just that. Placing their models in a modernized version of punk London, the ad pushes the idea that Valentino is a brand that’s as fresh and as new as the millennials it wants to attract.

Gucci Fall 2017-18

Gucci‘s creative head, Alessandro Michelle, is no stranger to transforming a brand into a contemporary go-to. Not long after joining the brand, Michelle was able to turn the ever increasingly forgettable brand into the most talked about and coveted Italian name in the fashion industry today. For their Fall campaign, Gucci not only channelled the same cacophonic parade of colour and texture that’s brought it back to life, but also channelled something that’s become a staple in millennial style; nostalgia for times far before their childhood. The ad features the all too familiar setting of a psychedelic ’70s like space adventure that mirrors the bright rainbow of colour, texture, and inspiration that Gucci is all about.

Oscar De La Renta Fall 2018-17

Since taking the helm at Oscar De La Renta almost a year ago, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have thrust the brand into an interesting place. Hovering delicately between modern edge and old world glamour, the brand that has dressed the likes of Laura Bush and Sarah Jessica Parker is eagerly awaiting to see whether the fashion world buys into its new image. One key element in helping its audience understand the new De La Renta image is fashion icon Mariacarla Boscono who was the face of Renta’s fall campaign. Her strikingly alien face and sharp gaze helped sew together the contemporary edge that Kim and Garcia wish to bring to the brand with the grace and glamour that Oscar established years ago.

Miu Miu Fall 2017-18

Miuccia Prada is a fashion genius. No one is able to reinvent two brands simultaneously every season and keep the look and the ideas of the brands fresh and exciting the way she does. So it comes as no surprise that her brilliant collection for Miu Miu now comes with a brilliant ad campaign. Borrowing heavily from the collections fuzzy bubblegum-60s mod fusion, the ad takes its viewer through a pastel coloured journey that takes place in an old movie theatre where models (including Kate Moss!) all sit and watch a grainy Lousiana Bayou short film featuring the models themselves. And if seeing Kate Moss decked out it groovy Miu Miu is not enough, then seeing Adwoah Aboah and other stunning models of colour dominate the ad should be more than enough incentive to fall in love with this light hearted ad!

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Male Models: Fashion’s Current ‘It’ Guys

90’s trends have made a return in many ways. From Adidas track pants, to slip dresses and infatuation with beautiful super models, there is no doubt that the era’s fashion interests are making a return. Sure, the game has changed as the focus has moved from Naomi and Gisele to Bella and Hailey, but there is no doubting that fashion lovers once again love to follow our favourite models as they go out for coffee together in matching Tommy Hilfigers and wear perfectly styled outfits to airports.

Male models, however, fly more under the radar more than their female counterparts. This season, many male models are making their mark in fashion campaigns and shows, working in multiple countries and doing just as much as our fav ‘It’ girls, only minus the papparazzi. Here are some male models that you should expect to see slaying the fashion game in upcoming seasons.

Harry Smith

This British model has been seen at both London Men’s Fashion Week, and New York Men’s Fashion Week this past season. Walking for Raun Larose and many more, it is clear that designers are embracing the potential that Smith has shown in previous shows. When he isn’t modelling, he is studying music in England. Check out more on his Instagram here.

Kaissan Ibrahima

A skateboarder at heart, Kaissan Ibrahima from Paris has been discovered by major fashion house, Prada, and is now recognized as one of their most celebrated models in their recent collections. He opened the show for Prada’s infamous comic book/graphics themed show this season and also showed up in a recent campaign. It is safe to say that this new model will likely be reappearing in upcoming seasons! Check out more from Ibrahima here.

Kit Butler

As far as current male models go, Kit Butler is definitely recognized as being a recurring force in the men’s fashion world in the past two years. This model has been in both Vogue Italia and At Large Magazine, and has a large number of big-name fashion shows on his resume, including recent ones such as Cerruti1881Balmain, and ICOSAE. Butler is not as under-the-radar as some other male models as he has a following of 86.5k on Instagram (check his page out, here) but the modelling is definitely what stands out with this upcoming star.

Luka Sabbat

Possibly one of the most famous from a celebrity standpoint for current, young, male models, Luka Sabbat is an influencer in fashion by way of runway, editorials, and through his own web persona. Recently, Dolce and Gabbana began a campaign where online influencers were at the forefront of their collections. With this, Sabbat became an icon in D&G campaigns and runways. Aside from D&G, Sabbat has appeared on the runway for Yeezy and has been in GQ magazine, Vogue, and more. Check out Sabbat’s popular Instagram page here.

Matthieu Villot

French model Mattieu Villot appears to be top designers’ must-have model throughout this season. Seen across the world in shows such as Alexander McQueen, Comme des Garcons Homme, Prada, and many more, it is obvious that this model’s look and talent have not been unnoticed and will be a face to expect in many collections to come. Click here to see more from Matthieu Villot.

Bom Chan Lee

Bom Chan Lee may be based out of New York, but his agencies around the world have secured him places on the runways of every fashion week this season. Walking in multiple shows per city, Lee’s face became familiar to those keeping up with the men’s fashion runways. Some of the most recent shows that he participated in were with Raf Simons and Matiere in New York, and with Paul Smith in Paris. Check out Lee’s Instagram page, here.

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A Conversation with Neeraja Ramjee on Broken Images at the Red Sandcastle Theatre

With Broken Imagess Canadian Premiere at the Red Sandcastle Theatre comes a unique, one-woman show starring Neeraja Ramjee, written by the contemporary playwright, Girish Karnad, and directed by Clinton Walker.  This psychological thriller is a commentary with many different layers, focusing on the ways in which we construct ourself in our current world.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Neeraja to discuss the context of the play and the way in which image dictates our self-worth in our current world.

Kimberley Drapack: How did you first get involved in theatre? What was your first production? 

Neeraja Ramjee: I went to acting school in New York, I wanted to put what I was learning into practice and auditioned to be a part of theatre companies in New York. I became a part of a couple theatre companies and started auditioning for parts and got more involved in the acting/theatre community. The first production I was part of was very special for me, it was my first time acting in front of a large audience, and it was equally terrifying and thrillingJ. It was a lovely one act play and I portrayed this character who wanted to commit suicide and through the play, she talks herself out of it.

K: Tell us about your experience in presenting a one woman show. What are the difficulties? What are the surprises? 

NR: This is my first time performing in a one woman show and also producing it. I wanted to do something where the story excited me, was different and challenging, and this show presented all of these elements to me. Any solo performance is a challenge, because you are the only flesh and blood actor on stage, with all eyes on you and you have to take the audience through the journey of the character and tell the story. There is a lot of technique, tact and authenticity that goes with it and you cannot afford to sit behind on your heels. When you have another actor on stage, you can play off of them and you get energy from them. In a one woman show, really the audience is the other character. The playwright has written such a masterpiece with such an arc for the character and so many levels of complicatedness – so to hit it, be present in the moment and move the story along, all by yourself is definitely a challenge. There is a technology element to this piece of theatre and a level of precision involved there, which is also very exciting and challenging at the same time. I surprise myself everyday by discovering something new about the character, and her underlying intentions. It’s been quite the journey discovering her, and quite frankly discovering parts of me through this journey.

K: Tell us about Broken Images. How did you stumble onto this play and what can it teach us? 

NR: BROKEN IMAGES is a masterpiece of self-delusion and self-worth, taking a cutting look at the Indian literary establishment, the desire for fame, and the need to win at all costs. When Manjula, a mediocre Indian writer gets international fame for a book she wrote in English, and not her native tongue,  she gets flak from her literary community, and is questioned without warning by her ‘Image’ to unearth the scandal behind her sudden rise to fame.

I had watched Broken Images staged over a decade ago, and it stayed with me because it was a unique storyline that was edgy and I knew people would connect to it.  Fast forward a decade, when the opportunity presented itself to produce a play, I knew I wanted to recreate Broken Images. . The play explores themes such as identify crisis (do we really know who we are), reality vs hyper-reality (do we live in a false reality, do we project ourselves to be different from who we really are?), and the desire for fame, which are all still very relevant in today’s digital/social media world.

K: It is said that with Broken Images, you hope to nudge diversity in the local theatre scene a bit further, as well as make people aware of the negative effects of social media. What does this mean to you? Why do you feel that people are unable to be within their present moment?

NR: As an avid fan of the performing arts, and most certainly theatre, one would be hard pressed to find many diverse actors in lead or one person shows. If this show could open doors, nudge diversity in theatre a bit further, wouldn’t that be great. There is so much talent out there, so many stories to be told from different cultural standpoints, it would be great to walk in and see more diverse actors in prominent roles, telling stories that hit us as human beings, irrespective of race, gender, caste, and creed.

I think social media and digital is great for a lot of things, it makes our life more efficient, makes the world smaller, gets us information way faster, helps us spread important messages, gets people together etc., however I think it’s great as long as it does not affect the emotional well-being of people. We are all performers in some way or the other, and the question really is do we project ourselves to be different than who we really are and is that false reality of ‘perfection’ impacting our emotional well-being, because we tend to evaluate our life based on a ‘false reality’ we see. I think, and I am as much prey to it J, sometimes we are so interested in capturing the moment, vs. actually being present in the moment and soaking it all in.

I was reading an article recently on how social media is harming the mental health of young people. There is a need to constantly feel a sense of ‘self-worth’ with the number of likes you get, and a fear of missing out and not being looped in with your friends. I think we chase ‘perfection’ that we see on social media/television/billboards, which quite frankly does not exist, and can be quite harmful, if it affects the emotional well-being of people.

The play touches on themes such as false reality, self-delusion, self-worth and the impacts of it is relevant to the current digital/social media world we live in.

K: At the same time, as being a successful actor, you are also a very successful business consultant. How do these two worlds collide? How do they intersect?

NR: The two worlds I live in are on either end of the spectrum. As a consultant, your emotions are always in check, controlled, it’s the exact opposite as an actor – emotions are raw, with no inhibitions. At the end of the day – art imitates life, it is about people, human behavior and there are elements from my personal and professional life that I bring to the characters I portray. The discipline, professionalism and analytical side of me helps me as a producer and actor, and my creative side helps me look at solving business problems with a different lens.

K: What is wrong with society’s obsession of image? What are the dangers, and how do we navigate away from this?

NR: As human beings, we are perfectly imperfect, which is beautiful. However, we project ourselves in society to be ‘perfect’ and quite frankly perception is reality J. There is a pressure to be ‘perfect’ . Most of the posts you see online are of people having a ‘perfect’ time, it’s the way we like to project ourselves. You seldom see posts about challenges in people’s lives on social media. I don’t know if our lives can be as perfect as Instagram J. If we chase this perfection which does not exist and it affects  our emotional well being, that’s when it becomes dangerous. What’s real and what’s not? Why does someone look so perfect at 7 am in the morning, when I look pretty crappy with my tousled hair and puffy eyes……if this leads to questioning your self-worth, if you begin to define yourself by a social media post, or a like or comment – then we have a problem.

K: How did your collaboration with Clinton Walker begin? What is it like working with a director in an intimate, smaller rehearsal space that makes up the one woman cast?

NR: When I knew I wanted to move forward and produce Broken Images, I knew I wanted a director who was talented, was on the same page as me in terms of the vision for the show and also someone who was focused and challenged me. My agent (we share the same agent) introduced me to Clinton who had directed a one person show last year at the Fringe and has been in the industry for close to 40 years. When I met Clinton, we had an instant connection, it’s hard to put in words and we bonded because we both don’t have patience for BS :D. I am very fortunate that he jumped on this journey with me. It’s been an incredible journey so far. We entered this maze of what’s real and what’s false, and the different avatars we play. It’s been a frightening and thrilling experience. We’ve shared laughs, tears and discovered things about ourselves and most importantly had fun as we navigated through this brilliant piece.

K: Not only are you starring in this production, but you produced it. What was it like to wear both hats? Were there any difficulties throughout?  

NR: This is my first time producing and it’s been a learning experience for sure. Very exciting and challenging at the same time. As an actor, I had more of myopic view to the entire production of a show. I understood the story, my character, how it fits into the larger storyline and did the best to take the audience through the journey. As producer, your pulse is on every element of the show – getting the right people onboard is one of the most important elements, if you have people you can trust and work well with, half the battle is won. Managing all elements of the production and the minutia of it has been challenging and then switching to actor mode J. But I love it, wouldn’t trade it for anything.

K: What do you hope audiences take away from Broken Images?

NR: I think a good play entertains you and hopefully affects you, impacts you in some way. Hopefully the audience walks away entertained, and also slightly impacted/changed or with questions to ponder on J.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

NR: Depending on how we do, it would be lovely to take the play to New York. Continue to work on my craft and see what is interesting, challenging and authentic for me to take on J

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