Hot Track: Taveeta Follow up Remix of Sophomore Single Paradise

While you are sleeping, the enigmatic singer, songwriter, actress and dancer, Taveeta, is strategizing her next move. Combining her love of music together with her passion for acting, performance and dance has been a dream come true. “I consider myself to be a true chameleon in that I’m constantly evolving…personal and professional growth is so important to me and I’m thrilled that I have the privilege of making music, while continuing to pursue my love of acting and dance.”

In the summer of 2017, Taveeta parlayed her pool of talent while performing at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Concert Series at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Canada, in front of 15,000 adoring fans. “I am so grateful and honoured to perform selections from my debut album at the Big Ticket Concert Series for all of my fans.”

The Gladiator Records Recording Artist, who released her debut album “Resurrection” in the summer of 2017, to critical acclaim, is set to release the remix to her heart-pounding and uplifting anthem “Paradise”, produced and remixed by resident hitmakers 80 Empire (Cee-Lo Green, Musiq Soulchild).

Taveeta’s debut album, “Resurrection”, takes the listener on a journey of self-discovery and perseverance and allows us identify with Taveeta’s powerful resurgence on every track. With the release of Taveeta’s “Paradise” Remix, fans can expect a more beguiling version of emphatic original.


Hear me out: what you should be listening to this month

October is a scary month. Not because we will have to live through another Friday the 13th, or as a result of any Halloween-related activities. It goes deeper than that. We are now one month into our school programs and everyday we inch closer to 2018. Remember when we said that 2017 was going to be our year and we were going to accomplish everything we’ve been putting on the back burner? Me too. Are we there yet? Not quite.

But alas, it’s going to be OK. Many artists are releasing their sophomore albums this month and we’re here to give you a reminder of who you should be checking out.

St. Vincent —  MASSEDUCTION (Oct. 13th 2017)

The queen has returned. If you haven’t heard about Annie Clark, you aren’t in the right circles. After the breakout success of her first album, Annie is  back with her sophomore album, this time with a pop flair.

DVSN — Morning After (Oct. 13th 2017)

Get ready to cry. This OVO artist is back with his second album just in time for the weather change. With this artist’s sultry voice and sexy lyrics, the album will keep you feeling them feelings about love lost.

Wu-Tang Clan — Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues (Oct. 13th 2017)

Following their reunion album in 2014, the Wu-Tang follows up with another saga. Not only are we graced with another album, the New York collective is heading out on a tour of the U.S..

Beck — Colors (Oct. 13th 2017)

As a follow-up to his last album, Morning Phase, which secured him three grammies, Beck is back with Colors. Beck is a chameleon. He carefully masters multiple instruments and brings forward a pop album that is due to climb the charts.

King Krule — The Ooz (Oct. 13th 2017)

Archy Marshall is back. The Ooz follows his last release in 2013 and focuses on the subconscious mind. With musical collaborations with names like Earl Sweatshirt, this album is certainly one to keep an eye out for.

Jessie Ware — GlassHouse (Oct. 20th 2017)

Jessie Ware has masterfully pieced together the perfect team of writers and producers for her upcoming album GlassHouseThe album is credited with Julia Michaels, Francis and the Lights, and Cashmere Cat.

Majid Jordan — The Space Between (Oct. 27th 2017)

Majid’s sophomore album will have 13 tracks and feature artists such as Partynextdoor and DVSN. This duo from Toronto will be taking October by a storm and proving that it’s truly OVO season.

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A Conversation with Britta Johnson on Life After

It takes a very special person to make a musical come to life. The challenges are apparent even from the writing process — one works to intertwine an original story with lyrics and imagines it into something corporeal. Britta Johnson has mastered this difficult task, and is making waves in the Toronto theatre scene with her new production, Life After

Britta, who’s been compared to the likes of Stephen Sondheim, is quickly making a name for herself and building a respectable brand most writers hope to achieve. Toronto’s Musical Stage Company was so impressed by her work that they have chosen her to develop and produce three new musicals for the next three years — something unprecedented in Canada.

We had the opportunity to chat with Britta just days before the opening of Life After. Learn about her story below and click here to purchase tickets.

Kimberley Drapack: How did you first get involved in theatre?

Britta Johnson: I grew up in Stratford. My parents were both pit musicians and I grew up in the theatre seeing all the plays every year. It would often be substitute for babysitting. When they couldn’t find someone to take care of us we’d go see Hamlet again.

It was a really big part of my youth. The culture of Stratford, most of the people you look up to are making a comfortable living in the arts. It felt like a natural progression.

There are three of us in my family and we all went into it not thinking it was strange. Now that I’m an adult I see that it’s a bit strange but I didn’t know it at the time.

I started writing for my high school kind of as an excuse to get out of class and hang out with my friends and it slowly became a big part of what I do.

K: It seems as though you grew up with a great support system within a creative field.

BJ: Absolutely. I was the youngest in my family and both my sisters were really good at piano, and it was partially me being competitive that I wanted to get good at it fast.

K: What facets of musical theatre first drew your interest?

BJ: It wasn’t ever a decision that I really wanted to be a musical theatre writer. I was always really interested in theatre and storytelling and I’m a musician and a pianist. I used to want to become a writer for The Simpsons and it happened through writing for my high school shows that I learned I had a knack for it.

I think storytelling is important and there are all kinds of things that are made possible when you use music that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. It’s always the work I’m most curious about. I certainly don’t unconditionally love the form but I do think that when you get it right telling a story with music, there’s some honesty there that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without music.

K: When you’re writing a script, do you find it a tough process to jump from dialogue into a song?

BJ: It’s generally kind of rare that I’ve done all three, writing scripts and then the music and lyrics. I’m usually more of a songwriter, which makes it easier because someone else is making those decisions and it’s an active collaboration. With this piece, it’s not a super traditional musical, it’s mostly music and really plays with time and space. It’s not a super narrative-driven, linear thing. It was really about mining the emotional moments that were important to musicalize and then just making sure that they audience could stay on board and it felt like it had a natural progression and a satisfying arch.

That’s always the hardest part to write: the moment before someone starts to sing. It’s so strange.

K: How did your writing process begin for Life After?

BJ: It started as a series of songs about a loss of the same person. A story started to grow around it, but really music is the central driving feature. It was an organic process because I didn’t walk in knowing what the story was. I walked in knowing what I wanted to explore, which was what grieving feels like when you face it for the first time. Figuring out what story to hang it off of, because I do think you need some kind of foundation to let it live in and then figuring it out what that would be to earn the musical moments and to earn the emotional world that we were trying to set up.

K:How does it feel to be compared to the likes of Stephen Sondheim?

BJ: I mean that’s insane. I can’t really take that on board or I’ll have a nervous breakdown. I think he’s the master and the reason why I write what I do. That’s always exciting to read and I think he manages to do amazing things with his music. I’m honored by that, but if I think about it too hard I’ll need to leave town.

K: Not only is Life After well underway, you will have a busy next couple of years with The Musical Stage Company developing and producing three new musicals for the next three years. This is unprecedented in Canada. How does this process work? How do you feel at achieving such a big accomplishment?

BJ: Well, talk to me when I’ve written them, so who knows?

It’s crazy. It’s totally unprecedented and I’m keenly aware of how lucky I am to get this kind of support and I know I’m lucky to be coming up at this time where in this country it feels like people are starting to get excited about musicals again. I think what happened with Come from Away is part of that and I think that The Musical Stage Company are really unique in their vision and they’re so smart and ambitious. I’m lucky that my aesthetic lines up so much with theirs.

It’s huge and so exciting. Usually, as a freelancer, you have to finish one project and then have a nervous breakdown because you don’t know what the hell is going to happen next. To know where I’m landing after this is so huge. I get to turn the page and work on the next thing and to build my brand along with such an incredible company. I’m so thrilled I hardly know what to say.

K: How do you continue this flow and begin the next process? Do you have ideas in the back of your mind of what this process might entail?

BJ: Both musicals are already kind of on the burner. The next one is well underway and we’re doing a workshop of it in the winter. Life After is the only musical where it’s just me. The other two musicals will be with collaborators.

If I was doing three musicals alone, I wouldn’t have time to be speaking with you right now. (Laughs). I also want to go outside and sleep and stuff. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about them, but we’ve decided what they are and they’re on their way.

K: How do you continue to stay inspired while writing and producing multiple works at a time?

BJ: The lucky thing about my work is that it’s all very different from one another. Nothing else sounds like Life After. When I’m working on something, I try to immerse myself with things that make me feel the way I hope to make the audience feel.

I’ll often make myself playlists of music that gives me the feeling that I want the world of the show to have, and read things about the topic. I always try to immerse myself a bit in the feeling and the world of the show. I’m lucky and think I’d burn out a lot faster if I didn’t get to work on such different stuff. Nothing is like each other, or else I’d totally run out of ideas. I can turn the page and then think about the next thing I need to think about.

K: Do you ever start on one project and find that there are similarities with another? Is it ever difficult to have those moments?

BJ: Absolutely, and I do run into those. That’s when I need to cleanse my palette and try to listen, watch or read new things. I struggle to write more than one thing at once. I usually like to fully immerse in one and then fully immerse myself in another and I haven’t quite figured out how to do the juggling act but I’m working on it. Otherwise, there is a bit of bleeding that happens.

K: Life After has some sadness behind it, but there is a lot of honesty and truth in sad stories. They’re important to tell because a lot of people can relate. Do you find that when you’re writing or going through the process of developing a show you’re looking for something that an audience can grasp onto?

BJ: Absolutely. I think honesty has to be key, especially when you’re working in as heightened a form as this. You start feeling like you’re manipulating or lying to people pretty fast when what your characters are singing isn’t truly rooted in something about the human experience. Even if it is a comedy or a tragedy. I always hope, even if I’m working on something totally outlandish there is something within it that people can find to relate to. Especially when you’re talking about something like loss, or grief, something that literally everyone in the entire world has to walk through. You really want to get it right or else it feels like a disservice to your audience.

K: Do you ever feel as a writer you have a certain amount of power? Do you feel an added pressure?

BJ: Absolutely, and then I have to remind myself that nobody dies if they don’t like my show or if it doesn’t speak to them. Also, it would feel like a wasted opportunity if it didn’t. I want people to feel glad they came. You can only ever try your very best.

K: What’s your favorite part of opening up a show?

BJ: I’ve never got to work on this scale before. These are big companies involved and it’s a very extensive and impressive team. I’ve never got to collaborate on this scale before where everyone in the room is the very best at what they do.

It’s been really thrilling at how quickly things can happen and I trust everyone in the room so much and the collaboration has been so exciting. The piece has grown at such a rapid speed.

Getting into the rehearsal room was something that’s been in my head for so long and has been so great. It really is a team effort and that’s what I love about theatre, even though I get to do all the interviews. It’s good for my ego.

Don’t miss Life After from September 23rd to October 22nd  and continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Album Review: Leikeli 47 and LCD Soundsystem

Leikeli 47

Text: Toni Styles

Leikeli 47 is a rapper from New York City and quite possibly the heir to the throne of sassy, biting rhymey-rap. If Missy Elliott and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, aka the ODB, had a child, it would likely be Leikeli 47. Like Missy, she is sufficiently other worldly with her signature attire that consists of various ski-masks, and, like ODB, she has no censor when it comes to her content. I’ll be the first to admit, the popular often stilted lyrics coming out of the studios of many of today’s female rappers just don’t do it for me. Having listened to several of her vanity themed tracks, I must admit there are some catchy lyrics. On repeat from her recent album “Wash & Go” is the single “Braids tuh’da flo(w)” — a song that puts you in the middle of a club huddle with the artist and her “girls” as she sings line after line of girl power: “Lit. Brand new outfit. Braids down to the flo. Y’all already know. My girls don’t trip, my girls keep winning, my girls don’t lose, my girls just keep on, getting braids to the flo.”

I like discovering a brand-new sound, something that knocks you out with originality — music that is confusing, ridiculous, even scary. Yes, I’m one of those annoying ’90s kids who swears by the artistic superiority of the musicians who haunted the charts during the last decade of the 20th century. Over the course of that period, everything was fresh; primarily because the music industry and labels were unafraid of taking a chance on, and ultimately courting both variety and quality. But, while Leikeli 47’s sound is not the 9th world wonder, she is a sort of wonder “kid” — from my understanding, a part of her mystique is that nobody knows her age. What really makes her stand out is her content more than her sound; she has mastered the ability to genuinely tell a story for an individual listener that remains consistent throughout her tracks. In other words, she, like the best talent, knows who her target audience is and what they want — she does not fail to deliver the goods. Perhaps, in that sense, the ski mask is a necessity, one that not only sets her apart, but also keeps the focus where it should be: on her ability to leave an impression on the listener. If Leikeli 47 can break away from the one-size fits all sound that is festering among  female rappers of the day, she may very well have something great to bring to the industry, something that can even last as long as “braids tuh’ da flo(w).”

LCD Soundsystem is a rock band from Brooklyn, who made their debut in 2002. Their sound is an ’80s-esque cooler than you, their lyrics are ’90s-esque moody distortions, and their overall delivery is an ’00s-esque startling awakening that refuses to bow to the status-quo. Think emo-pop, if you so desire. Simply put, this is music that must grow on you. Yes, that was quite blunt, but nevertheless, in most cases, quite true. LCD Soundsystem is not for a quick listen, it has too much depth to be handled so carelessly. This music is for tea time, a time when you can relax and detach yourself from yourself. On repeat from their recent album ‘American Dream‘ is the title track with lyrics “You took acid and looked in the mirror. Watched the beard crawl around on your face. Oh, the revolution was here — that would set you free from those bourgeoisie. In the moment, everything’s clearer, when the sun line exposes your age. But that’s okay.” The album does not come with many surprises, the music is thoughtful and the tracks transition well. Admittedly, the genius of LCD Soundsystem has yet to make itself fully known to me, but it does exist. I would say, give them a try if you like music that makes you think and maybe, just maybe, get up and dance.

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Ones To Watch: Up-and-Coming Talent on Our Radar

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

As our readers well know, Novella is that friend who keeps giving you suggestions on what to do, wear, read, watch, etc., perhaps at a rate father than you can keep up with. It’s the inner grandma who’s paranoid that you don’t have enough to eat that compels us so. In other words, it’s with love and affection and a kind of cultural anxiety and an insatiable need to dictate. But mostly with love. Without further ado, let our contributors come at you with their choices of up and coming individuals of talent you should take second and third servings of.

Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief 

Kelela Album Art – Take Me Apart

Singer and Songwriter Kelela has consistently been making good music since her 2013 debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me. We last heard from the songstress back in 2015 with the release of her EP ‘Hallucinogen’, which garnered good reviews, and yet she is still not a household name. In October, Kelela will release her debut studio album Take me Apart, and if her current single LMK is any indication of what we can expect from the second generation Ethiopian-American singer, I have no doubt that we will be hearing her name a lot more.

Hoon, Managing Editor

Relief of Julian the Hospitaller from Chris Knapp’s ‘States of Emergency’ published in the Paris Review this summer

Chris Knapp’s essays and fiction have been published in the pages of the Paris Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books, which for many — perhaps too many — writers today, is considered a sign of ‘having made it’. The blurb on Knapp on the Paris Review Daily says that he ‘lives in Paris, and also sometimes Brooklyn, with his wife. He’s recently completed a novel.‘ He’s achieved residence and certain placeness (the latter may be my fantasy) on both sides of the Atlantic, a functioning relationship, and finished a novel. Despite all these good signs, things many – perhaps too many — writers would kill for, I think Knapp is still up and coming. Judging from his short story, ‘State of Emergency,’ he has a lot to say. Knapp weaves the personal with the political, the immediate with the faraway past and future in his essays and stories — the stuff of good writing. If his circumstances have changed since the the Paris Review wrote his short bio, and if his website, which you can visit here, is telling the truth, he also has strong ties to Charlottesville, Virginia; I’m eager to hear what he has to say.

Adina Heisler, Contributor

While Phoebe Robinson has been an active writer, actress, and standup comedian for several years now, it’s only recently that she’s been getting the attention she deserves. Her podcast with Jessica Williams2 Dope Queens, just wrapped up its third season, and her solo podcast, Sooo Many White Guys, recently finished its second season. She also released a book last October called You Can’t Touch My Hair (And Other Things I Still Have to Explain). This is all on top of being a writer for Portlandia and appearing in the show I Love Dick. Robinson is an utterly delightful comedian, and brutally honest about all topics, from race relations in the U.S. to her love of dad-bods.

Meg Summers, Contributor

One of my not-so-guilty pleasures is following every member of the Toronto-based band, The Beaches, and admiring their musical talents, individual styles, and overall “cool girl” vibes. This band seems to always be busy touring both Canada and the U.S., recording and creating fabulous music videos. In fact, their latest, Money, shows off the band’s creative edge and incredible musical abilities to create catchy and aesthetically great pieces. Look out for more from The Beaches as they are sure to continue growing a buzz around Toronto and far beyond. Follow them on Instagram here.

Kimberley Drapack, Contributor 

Morgan Parker — photo by Kwesi Abbensetts

Morgan Parker’s ‘There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé‘ is a standout success. Parker successfully intertwines pop-cultural and political titles to her poems that explore the complexities of what it means to be a black woman, isolation, femininity, and so forth in the context of the 21st century. She also folds in personal references, Marvin Gaye lyrics, and Hip Hop. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Photo: Giphy

That Poppy may have been making videos on youtube for quite a while now with the help of her director Titanic St. Clair, but 2017 seems to be Poppy’s big break. Not only did her Instagram explode over night, her music career has finally caught the eye of Island Records, which have sent her on a North American tour that’s sold out in a few cities already. But Instagram fame and tours aren’t what makes her so interesting. It’s her entire persona that makes her so different from any of the pop acts parading around the music scene this year. Labeled or suspected to be everything from a satanist, Illuminati puppet, robot, and even a matrix like computerized entity, Poppy has created a satirical musical persona that pokes fun and exaggerates the all too common assumption that most pop stars sold their souls for fame. Like her persona aims to be, Poppy is a delightful mix of sugary sweet pastel princess with a mysterious, almost sinister, inner turmoil that often bubbles to the surface in her videos, leaving viewers dying to know if she really does live inside a computer or if she’s been brainwashed by a big record company and completely changed from her former self. It is a fresh take on the idea of what a performer and their performance can be.

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