WTF Wayhome, Ouch Osheaga: Let’s Discuss Cultural Appropriation

I think it’s important for people to check themselves. Is your speech, behaviour, attire, or accessories offensive in some way? If you’re unsure, the answer is probably, Yes.

I was really fortunate this summer and I was able to experience two major music festivals, the Wayhome Music & Arts Festival in Ore Medonte, just outside Barrie, Ontario, and the Osheaga Festival of Music and Art in Montreal, Quebec. Attending these two festivals affirmed my love for my fellow Canadians and the ways in which music can be used as medium to bring people together. I met so many amazing people during my time at these festivals, like-minded individuals from all over Canada (and other parts of the world) who were looking to enjoy their favorite artists and have a good time.

On the other hand, there was one really big issue that I couldn’t get past. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a one time occurrence but several instances in which I was extremely uncomfortable, and unable to understand why those around me didn’t share the same sentiments.

What really irked me throughout the festivals was the abundance of non-POC individuals donning culturally significant items such as bindis, headdresses, cornrows, dreadlocks, dashikis, warpaint, etc. I could go on forever.

WHAT IS CULTURAL APPROPRIATION? 

The definition of cultural appropriation is pretty simple: cultural appropriation is the use of a certain culture by members of another culture wherein the meaning or significance of these cultural ties are lost, misappropriated, and is disrespectful to the culture that it is originally from. Considering this, it’s pretty simple to understand that non-POC individuals, aka white people, are taking advantage of a culture when using it as a part of their costume at a music event.

Cultural appropriation is by no means a new concept, and, this far into the year 2017, I hoped to see changes from past years in which music festivals almost seemed as though they were breeding grounds for white dudes in cornrows and white girls in bindis. It saddens me that this is still a thing.

WHY DOES CULTURAL APPROPRIATION STILL HAVE A PLACE IN OUR FESTIVAL VENUES? 

This question has plagued me for the past few years. How has there been no reform to what people are allowed to wear at these festivals? More over, who perpetuates this trend or gives a “thumbs up” to these perpetrators before heading out the door?

There is a lot to be planned before heading to a festival, and a big part of that preparation is putting together an outfit and making accessory, hair, and makeup choices. Each year, I go through my overflowing closet in hopes of pairing together some makeshift ensemble that is cute and eye-catching and, most important, hasn’t been done before. While it may be hard to find that extra detail that will help make your look standout, I can assure you, it will not be found through the use of someone else’s culture. Do better.

From Alessandra Ambrosio‘s Instagram account. The post reads, “Becoming more inspired for @coachella with this amazing Native American headpiece @jacquieaiche #feathers #festival #coachella #foreveronvacation #inspiration #cocar”
From Kylie Jenner’s Instagram account
From Vanessa Hudgens’s Instagram account. The post reads, “Coachella life. Day 2 =) xx”

Social media often becomes oversaturated with the misuse of culture by the wrong demographic of individuals around festival season, (as seen above) so if the affirmation of a celebrity wearing such items becomes a confirmation for you to do the same if you are a non-POC, that is where we run into some trouble. One may ask, “if I see Kylie Jenner wearing such things, and she looks great, why can’t I?”

There is a long weighted history and discourse behind the argument that I am posing with this article, not all in which I can include. Instead, I am hoping to instead bring light to this topic, in the hopes that it sparks a greater debate between friends.

This is one of the ways that we can make a change.

WHAT DO MUSIC FESTIVALS LIKE WAYHOME AND OSHEAGA HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CULTURAL APPROPRIATION?

I did some research to see what I could dig up about the stance that certain festivals take on the issues I mentioned earlier. There was not a whole lot of information I could find, but, rather, a lot of great articles on the subject. Like I said earlier, I am not the first person to talk about this.

In the case of Wayhome and Osheaga, specifically, here is what I found. After scrolling through an “overview of festival rules” for Wayhome,  the only mention of clothing and/or accessory was through the bullet point stating:

  • No gang clothing and/or gang support shirts.

This bullet point appeared on the list twice. I am unclear as to what this is referring to or in what context Wayhome would qualify a shirt as “gang supporting,” but, nevertheless, I didn’t find another mention of clothing, accessory, or hairstyle. After scrolling further, I did find one more interesting bullet point, under the topic of “additional rules/regs”:

  • No confederate flags.

The fact that this was added to this list sends a red flag to me and really makes me interested in what event must have happened for the organizers to feel they must mention this. In Canada. In 2017. Either I am living in a fantasy world or there are bigger issues about what individuals are bringing to music festivals than I have ever imagined.

Osheaga on the other hand, was a little bit better. In 2015, the festival put a ban on the admittance of:

  • First Nations headdress and other feather headdresses

On their website, they specify that, “The First Nations Headdresses have a spiritual and cultural meaning in the native communities and to respect and honour their people, Osheaga asks fans and artists attending the festivals to not use this symbol as a fashion accessory.” 

This was really important. Osheaga was one of the first major music festivals to take a stand on cultural appropriation and to lend support to the Indigenous community of Canada by creating this rule.

SO… WHAT NOW? 

Here, my friends, we come to our final question: “What exactly can be done?” How would a music festival enforce these rules in practice? The fact is, it is impossible to police. There is no system that will be put in place that will not admit a white person because of a hairstyle or because they chose to wear a bindi.

This brings me full circle back to my frustration, and my understanding that the policing needs to begin within. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article: everyone needs to check themselves, and better yet, check your friends.

There is just no room for excuses. We all play our part, and as tough as a the world is, it’s important that your role in all of this is one that is as unproblematic as possible. There’s too much shit going on.

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Sets You Don’t Want to Miss at Osheaga 2017

Osheaga never fails to impress. Once again its lineup has every other music fest in Canada quivering in its boots. How can they even compare to the likes of Lorde, Muse, and the Weeknd? Your fav could never. Not only does Osheaga have a legendary three-day lineup, it takes place in a city that is very close to my heart, Montréal.

The most difficult part of attending a music festival, besides the fear of a dying cell phone, losing your friends, or running into your ex-boyfriend and his new boo is choosing what artist you are going to see on a given day. Let’s face it, it’s impossible to do it all, but that won’t stop us from trying. We often get too lit, or too lost (most likely a combination of the two), and run the risk of missing our favourite artists.

Not to worry, we have you covered. Claire and I have made a list of our top artists you must see on each day of Osheaga to help cement your decision or simply point your internal compass in the right direction after one too many Molson Canadiens with your best friend, Ben.

FRIDAY AUGUST 4TH 

Photo: Matt Seger

SAMPHA [SCÈNE DE LA VALLÉE VANS @ 4:55-5:40 PM]

Not only do I love slow, melodic soul music, but I also have a soft spot for British accents. Considering this, Sampha sings and speaks directly to my soul. He has quickly become a muse for some of the biggest names in music (Drake and Kanye for example), and built a reputable discography for himself. His debut album, Process (2017) came out after many years of waiting and long time fans like myself devoured it.

Photo: Marie Claire

TOVE LO [SCÈNE DE LA RIVIÈRE VIRGIN MOBILE @ 5:40-6:30 PM]

If Tove Lo’s music is anything, it’s honest. Her mix of cool synth pop and frank lyrics are the reason why I like her so much. Her music is raw, brutally honest, and empowering. Her unique vocals have also lent themselves to tracks with Coldplay, Nick Jonas, Broods, and Flume. Who doesn’t love to sing along to the dark breakup anthem Habits (Stay High) or the raw confessional love song Talking Body?

SATURDAY AUGUST 5TH

Courtesy of Capitol Records

JON BELLION [SCÈNE DE LA VALLÉE VANS @ 6:30-7:20 PM]

There is a lot of work that goes into creating music. Often, artists have a huge team backing them to help produce, create beats, and to put finishing touches on their work. Jon Bellion creates and produces all his own music. Anyone accustomed to his music will know the great amount of fine detail that goes into each track he creates, which registers as a sure sign of an absolute creative genius.

Photo: arkellsmusic.com

ARKELLS [SCÈNE VERTE SONNET @ 7:20-8:20 PM]

If you haven’t seen them yet, it’s an absolute must. These Ontario natives rep their hometown of Hamilton, HARD. They are known for their passionate and honest rock and energetic live shows. Their latest album, Morning Report (2016) was described by the band’s singer/guitarist Max Kerman as their “most honest” work yet. The album’s first single, ‘Private School,’ peaked at number one on Canadian Alternative radio. A festival is a perfect venue for them to show off what they’ve got.

SUNDAY AUGUST 6TH

Courtesy of Vevo

ZARA LARSSON [SCÉNE DE LA MONTAGNE COORS LIGHT @ 2:05-2:45 PM]

I haven’t been in love most of my life. That is, until I stumbled upon Zara Larsson. This singer-songwriter is a Swedish bombshell whose debut international album, So Good, was released in March 2017. She produced six singles, including ‘Lush Life’, ‘Never Forget You’, ‘Ain’t My Fault’, ‘I Would Like’ and ‘Symphony’. One can’t help but dance along to her infectious music, and I guarantee that you don’t want to miss her set as a closer for your last day at Osheaga.

Photo: The Fader

LOCAL NATIVES [SCÈNE DE LA RIVIÈRE VIRGIN MOBILE @ 4:10-4:55 PM]

I was recently introduced to this band by a friend of mine, and I have been obsessed with them ever since. Their dramatic brand of indie rock gives off some serious California vibes, which makes sense since their home base is Los Angeles, California. Their music is a combination of various harmonies and intricate sounds that somehow come together to form a collaborative, dreamy sound. Formed in 2008, the band has come a long way. Their sophomore release reached number 12 on the Billboard 200, and their highly anticipated third album, Sunlit Youth, was released in summer 2016.

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Bruno Ledyet’s TABLEAUX VIVANTS at Montreal’s Galerie Youn

Bruno Ledyet is a Montreal-based painter whose works are concerned with introspection, beauty, and certain kinds of intrigue. Nudity is common in Ledyet’s work yet it is approached as a way to deeper feelings. Through June 29th, Montreal’s celebrated gallery, Galerie Youn will be hosting TABLEAUX VIVANTS, a public and free exhibit of his works. Here, Ledyet explains aspects of his works and his creative process:

Portrait de Juno Youn et Lloyd — Bruno Ledyet (Acrylic on canvas, 48” x 72”, 2017) Image courtesy of Galerie Youn

In most paintings, the figures are not engaged in a particular activity. They’re in a contemplative state, perhaps thinking about the beauty in their surroundings. They’re almost hedonistic, away from the craziness of the outside world, creating their own aesthetics.

Everything starts with a pattern, a combination of colors. Inspiration can come from a film, a video, a painting, bit of paint on a wall somewhere, etc. But it also comes from the model. There has to be something that captivates me about the person, something I find so beautiful that I have to paint it.

My portraits are like tableaux vivants: they’re not scenes from everyday life, but are inspired by it. They are landscapes of my mood when I painted them. Often, a figure is a starting point. Patterns and juxtapositions in colors appear almost organically. Or I have something in mind already and it happens to fit. For instance, in ‘An-devant le Rideau Chinois,’ I wanted to capture the figure’s flesh, his gaze, his style; then the red shades and the pattern became obvious to me.

An devant le rideau chinois — Bruno Ledyet (acrylic on canvas, 20” x 30”, 2017) Image courtesy of Galerie Youn

The models’ faces and their gazes are crucial. Most often, they look out — they know they are being looked at and they stare back. In a way, they are presenting themselves to the viewer. ‘Portrait of J’ is a good example. It has a few symbols — my symbols —, clues I left here and there that hold parts of the meaning of the piece.

Very often, the meaning of a work relates to my own life. But this occurs on a subconscious level. I realize it only long after I’ve finished a piece. Often, the models are, in fact, me. The works are dream-like, stylized versions of my life and the feeling it entails.

‘Toile de Jouy Dream’ started with Samuel. He has posed for another painting and had told me that he had this suit made with a Toile de Jouy pattern. I knew I had to do a painting of him wearing it. Two years or so passed and I had this dream — I often have these weird dreams of strange landscapes and places in crazy Technicolor, or ones with great big old houses filled with objects — where I saw a prairie with a row of odd-looking houses with huge storks made of green tiles in the front. And I thought of putting Samuel in that place and using the greens and blues to give it this unreal nighttime feel and depth to the surroundings.

Toile de Jouy Dream — Bruno Ledyet (acrylic on canvas, 48” x 72”, 2017) Image courtesy of Galerie Youn

‘Adrian Odalisque’ exemplifies my approach. It is a take on art history, namely the female nudes from the 17th to the 19th century. The figure in ‘Adrian Odalisque’ seems to be offering himself to the gaze of the viewer, but he’s not. Even though my paintings often have male nudes, or are nude portraits, my art is not erotica. My figures’ faces often display melancholy, not desire. They speak more about revealing the self, about being vulnerable, about taking risks. There is quite a bit of irony in my paintings — a romanticism that doesn’t take itself seriously and a subtle surrealism.

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What Novella Loves — Spring Edition

Our content team is a motley crew, each member with their own quirks and stories that define our stranger than usual weirdness in the ways they clash and meet over pitches and wine at every meeting. But if there is a consistency in the diversity, it is our impeccable — yes, impeccable — taste in all things stylish and beautiful. What Novella Loves showcases these two defining qualities of our team.

It’s April, and for those of you who’ve been bemoaning the lack of definitive Spring signs, we bring to you this Spring Edition.

Even though I don’t own one, I believe it’s a must-have accessory. I am obsessed with the timeless and chic design by Chanel. What I love most about a classic black Chanel bag is its versatility. It can be worn with anything and never go out of style. I love the chicness it can bring to an edgier look like we saw on the streets during NYFW. A real original, the classic Chanel flap bag is something every girl should own.  Claire Ball, Editorial Contributor

Victoria Beckham which has recently announced her new collaboration with Target with a cool graphic T-shirt from her collection in LAX that was printed with the slogan “Fashion Stole My Smile”. I found this tee fun and amusing, as it shows a sense of humour concerning her poker face that has become her trademark. This shirt comes in black or white and is available for around $150, which might be a bit expensive for a graphic T-shirt but a reasonable price for a designer one.  Liat Neuman, Fashion Contributor   

I have to convince myself that it’s actually spring everyday. With the still inconsistent temps, if I am forced to bundle up, why not still be stylish. Montreal-based designer Xian’s wool blend coat with 4 snap detail closure can keep me warm and still looking good on the days where we go from sunny to grey and chilly in one day to the next.  Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief

My pick for my spring must have is definitely going to be The Enchanted Forest by the Vagabond Prince.  The unisex scent comes from a very niche perfumer, so it isn’t the easiest scent to get your hands on outside of the US. However, I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to snag a bottle of this mysterious blackcurrant fragrance that has reviewers mesmerized by its fairytale scent!  Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

I love my Mer Bag. As our editor-in-chief likes to point out, I can fit my studio apartment in my backpack and still have room left — the smallest size available for a basic backpack is H24 W12, so you can imagine the possibilities. It’s waterproof, weatherproof, and made with industrial materials to last. The highly functional bags come with simple designs best suited for any purpose other than a gala dinner, unless the gala dinner involves cycling, bmx, or skateboarding, in which case, it’s even good for that. Every time you order a Mer Bag, Rob Nelson, who founded the company back in 2001, hand makes it himself at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Rob is also a really nice guy with an adorable dog the size of a bicycle.  — Hoon Ji, Managing Editor

The best bags are the ones that keep getting better with each wear. For the past two years, my go-to has been the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. The New York based company started with these iconic bags in 2012 and became the instant must-have items on social media. The bag comes in different variations with a wide range of colours for exteriors and interiors. The materials used in the bag are high-quality leather crafted in Italy. Over time the leather becomes buttery soft and makes you want to wear it more.  I love throwing everything in my purse rather than digging through compartments to find my keys; this bag is just effortless cool. — Michelle Cheung, Social Media Coordinator

ICYMI: Paul Jacobs ‘Human Emotion’ Video

pauljacobs-human

Psych pop reinventionist Paul Jacobs has just released a new video and it’s part nightmare, part lucid daydream. “Human Emotion” spins a web of confusion from everyday trivialities. And it’s sort of hard to describe.

With videos like this, it’s easiest to refer to LSD and other chemical psychedelia. “It’s like a two minute acid trip, maaaaan!” But that’s pretty boring and, in reality, the video has more going for it than that. Devoid of colour and spatial perspective, “Human Emotion” is effectively drab, but still pretty mesmerizing. The constant VCR-referent glitches make it feel like an alternate universe that’s been super-imposed onto itself a dozen times over. Yeah, it’s trippy, but in a way that’s totally haunting. Once more, those masks have become something of a trademark for PJ, who’s always integrated his music with a signature visual style—hand drawn tape covers, comics, t-shirts, kick drums and whatever else.

The song itself comes from his fifth album, I’m Into What You’re IntoPreviously a one-man-band—a psychedelic wunderkind of sorts—PJ’s latest record features a full backing band. And if “Human Emotion” is any indication, the group has successfully honed their abilities to craft wacky pop music for wacky people. Watch the video. See what wacky looks like.

The video for “Human Emotion” was shot by bandmates Matt Menard and Meagan Cullen, and edited by The Attic Video. Check it out below.