Sunday, 27 January 2013

MARK HARRIS: 20 Questions

Mark, you’re always a busy guy.
Please tell me about your current projects.

I'm currently rehearsing a new band,
we've yet to pick a band name or decide on songs,
but it's promising.

What else?

I’ve been writing an autobiographical comic book,
“Therapeutic Narcissism”,
as a way of exploring self-deprecating concepts
in my attempt to come to terms with the divine banality of life.
I have a couple pages left to finish before I publish it.

Are you in school right now?
You’re always in school.
What are you studying?

Religion, focusing on Himalayan religion
and the issue of religion in the Public Sphere

Political commitments?

I ran as to be a Member of Provincial Parliament in the
last Ontario election with the Freedom Party, a fringe libertarian party.
I'm currently apathetic.

Very busy guy. Do you feel like a machine sometimes?


How do you bring calm into your daily life?

I try to meditate every morning before setting out a list of things to do in a day

How do you bring sustainability and environmental consciousness
into your daily life?

I compost

Are calm and connection to nature difficult to find in the city?

There is a pretty vibrant community of conscious people
creating sustainable space in the city,
running small gardens and such, but you need to seek them out.
I currently live in a U of T Frat House, so
I have really no direct connection to sustainability or silence.

What are your favourite times of day?

I’m a morning person but also an insomniac.
My favorite time of day is between 4 and 10am

Favourite TTC route?

Dufferin Bus.

If the highway was removed from Toronto's waterfront, would you opt for more condos or for more public beaches?

I would opt for more condos. As it is, Toronto's waterfront is a desolate tourist attraction with very little to offer residents like me. The more condos we build there, the longer we can keep other neighborhoods yuppie-free and affordable. Better we stack them all there.

If time travel could help you escape the city,
what period of history would you flee to?

I would escape too Greece 500 BCE to study under Pythagoras. He ran a commune of vegetarian magician philosophers who studied math and music.

We need to remember the beautiful crazies like Pythagoras.
Who would you like to see sainted and why?

I think Christopher Hitchens should be sainted
because the irony would piss a lot of people off,
atheists and religious folk alike.

What Toronto artists are you excited about?

What else are you listening to?

John Adam's “Nixon in China
MF Doom's Madvillain
Danny Brown
Dave Brubeck

What are you reading?

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordechai Richler

What's your dream job?

My dream job would be writing music and copy for advertisement.

Im having a potluck and all I have is beer and wine.
what will you bring to make the party better?


Surrounded by the edifice 
and the detritus 
of 20th century splendor,
armed with the knowledge, 
and speed 
of 21st century technology,
the new generation of artists is 
(naturally, effortlessly)
giving form to a new type 
of aesthetic/spiritual experience.

"I really believe that when I’m creating is when 
I’m closest to magick, the universe or whatever you want to call it. 
But it’s not always that way, 
sometimes I”ll be making something 
and I know it’s going to be shit or feels like shit because my mind is too loud. 
Like there are all these stupid thoughts going through my mind saying 
“does this look good? Will people like this? Does this look good again?” 
That’s when I know that I’m out of tune. 
But then they’ll be these other times when 
I’m totally present and clear and my heart feels open 
and that’s when I’m allowing the universe to flow through me 
and I create something that speaks to me. 
It might not look “good” per se but it just feels right. 
That’s the unexplainable, that’s magick. 
I think a lot of artists, musicians or anyone that creates something 
can sort of relate to what I’m saying.  
When I do achieve that state of being, things seem to happen, 
or I allow them to happen because I am open 
and then I create things through the language of the universe 
in a way that it speaks through me. 
A lot of my art seems to do with spirits and nature
 so I guess that’s the language that I’m speaking, 
that’s my inspiration. "

There is nothing on the surface 
of Evie's work or life 
that one would call shocking 
or unexpected.
One finds her possessed of a strong desire 
to balance practical and social pressures 
with her urge to to create 
without prejudice 
and aware of her surroundings

"Everyone wants to be an artist, especially those who can afford it. You need one of two things: 
Relentless self-sacrifice. Sacrifice any liveable living conditions, 
sacrifice your time, money, relationships. 
If you want to be a true artist, you literally need to give up your life to your art. 
The second option is being a trust-fundarian. 
That probably makes being an artist a whole lot easier. 
I don’t have either of those things. 
I definitely don’t have the discipline or desire to give up my life for my art 
and I’m not a trustfundarian that has the option 
of having the privilege of giving up my time for my art. 
I need to eat and I like hanging out with my friends. 
So I guess I’m not really a true artist but I don’t care that much 
because I know that the ability to make art 
is something that will always be a part of me, 
it’s a strong aspect of who I am."

a series of 'shamanistic' portraits of her friends and sister

"I incorporated their spirit animal into their portrait. 
I believe that each person has certain animal qualities that reflects their true nature. 
As a result, it is one of the most pure aspects to their personality 
because it is not shaped by upbringing, 
but rather by something deeper and unhibited."

"I think every place has a different energy 
and might have different things to offer 
but at the end of the day it’s all about the mentality that you have. 
I believe there’s a lot of magick flowing through Toronto, 
I mean, how could there not be? 
There are so many different people and cultures and artists and things going on. 
The winters can be pretty harsh but the city seems to come alive in the summer, 
and it seems like there’s more magick during that time. 

Yet I believe that it’s the people that make it easier for others to tap into it. 
Like people seem to be more open and then more magickal things seem to occur 
because this positive energy seems to pulse through each other. 
Inter-connectedness. I think it mostly depends on how open one is to see these things, 
how open we are for things to happen 
and how open we are to each other and as a result to the universe.

But overall, I think Toronto can be pretty magickal, 
it just depends on how you see it."

This is, 
to be truthful, 
a mindset that is typical, 
 even de rigeur amongst 
young Canadian artists 
working in this paricular style 
which balances Turtle Island's natural iconography
with the visual languages 
of traditional illustration, 
and watercolour.

They are gathering together the pieces 
that will form a language
to describe the spiritual world 
in which we are living, 
out of which 
their art/work emerges, 
and into whose hidden depths 
we may now peer.

"I just know that I believe that we all have 
the ability to tap into certain energies, 
to reach a different level of consciousness 
and that coincidences are a language from the universe 
that might be trying to tell us something.  
It’s hard for me to explain certain things, 
like why I believe in the things that I do 
or feel certain things or do certain things. 
I strongly believe in the power of dreams 
and I really believe in the importance of being in the present, 
because how else can one read the signs 
or see the magick that everyday holds? 
I also believe the reason people are so obsessed with love
 or being in love is because that’s when they feel fully in the present 
and see the world in a different way. 
It allows them to feel magick.  
Sometimes it’s harder and other times it’s easier to stay in tune, 
but it’s usually a little easier when I’m either in nature or creating. 

I’ve lived all across Canada and some places 
seemed to be better than others in terms of magick but then again, 
I think a lot of it had to do with my mentality 
and what I was going through in each place. 
Vancouver was pretty hard, 
I think it might have been the rain or something."   

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Interview With Patrick Power

20 questions with Patrick Power
March 2012

1. Please describe for me your current musical projects.

Valued Customer ( and, 
and the Patrick Power Memorial Library ( are my main things right now. 
I'm also working on solo guitar arrangements of pop songs and doing a film score for a Sheridan student.

2. What distinguishes the approach you take in each of these groups?

Valued Customer is a very catch all group. We've done oldies cover sets, 
albums of weird original music, Spice girls covers, and solo guitar improv sets. 
My friends Justus (@_Ugggy) and Chris (@_hvy and @chrisbaragar) are in that group with me. 

The Memorial Library plays my songs and is an attempt to bring together the different kinds of songs 
write (across the spectrum of lots of chords and notes to very few chords and notes) into a cohesive set.
 And I have a lot of fun being a goof when the Memorial Library plays live.

3. What consistent musical threads tie your music together?

My weird obsessive musical tics are one thing, 
but mainly I just try to write music that people will have a positive response to.

4. What venues in Toronto would you like to play in the next 2 years?

I want a warehouse somewhere that I can hold shows in anytime I want. 
Besides that... I'd say, Massey Hall, Molson Ampitheatre, the ACC, maybe the CN tower skywalk.

5. What musical projects do you want to be involved with over the next 5 years?

I want to keep getting better at guitar. I want to write a musical. 
I want to make a million Valued Customer albums. I want to do more hip hop.

6. Do you feel that Canadian New Music has a distinct identity?
Not really.

7. Can serious music be funny?

8. Can funny music be serious?

9. What is the most important formative influence on your music?
Probably Genesis 1971-74.

10. Would you rather invent a genre or defy all categorisation?

Defy. But I want to have an unmistakable sound.

11. Would you rather your live shows incited orgies or riots?
Orgies are more fun.

12. Do you feel that a new Golden Age lies ahead for Toronto musicians?

I don't know enough about the history of Toronto musicians 
to know of any past Golden Ages to gauge whether or not there is one impending. 
As long as we're all having as much fun as possible then every day is a golden age!

 13. Would you rather see an artist-controlled capitalism or a kind of unionised musical socialism?

Artist-controlled capitalism. From what I can tell, 
the classical music world is kept alive by government money and rich donors. 
If classical performers/composers had to fend for themeselves, 
they would have to do the unthinkable and start making 
music that the average person has a chance of giving a shit about. 
That would be really interesting and perversely satisfying for me to see.

14. Do you feel that there is anything left of classical music for the avant-garde to deconstruct?
Nope. Maybe the concert setting itself, it's a stale format. 
But I think that classical composers need to step back from the notes and look at the big picture.

15. Is pop music sustainable in its current form ie 
can a global cult of celebrity continue in the age of information?

The cult of celebrity seems to be doing fine so far. 
I think it's human nature to have those big names and so things will probably stay that way. 
Though in this age there is more of an opportunity for weirdos like me to get their music out there 
which is great.

16. How has Jazz as a tradition become stronger and/or weaker through its acceptance into the academy?

There's so many young people who are so good at playing jazz now. That's all I can really say. 
It seems like they have an even harder time than classical musicians finding work though. 
Jazz is cool in a purely musical way - I don't see a lifestyle that can be attached to it. 
It's pretty abstract and sequestered.

17. Do you feel that hip hop can expect a similar form of acceptance by the musical establishment?

By establishment, do you mean academics? If so, then no, I don't think it will, nor would I want it to. 
Hip hop is kind of always going to be outsider music. 
But at the same time it's become such a dominant force in pop music.

18. Why don't people dance at shows in Toronto?

I have often lamented this fact to my audiences while I'm on stage. I don't know man. 
They don't court boldly enough, don't drink enough, don't have enough joie d’vivre? 
People are more likely to dance if the person beside them is dancing though. 
Nobody wants to be the first. But people don't think you're weird if you're the first, 
they just secretly envy you. So go for it!

19. Which Toronto musicians are you most excited about?

Valued Customer,
 the Torontiade, 
Charlotte Mundy, 
Tommy Foolhardy, 
Toy Piano Composers, 
First Act Productions, 
Taylor Cook Quintet, 
Evan Cartwright, 
Brandon Wall, 
Chelsea Shanoff.

20. What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Eat a banana and peanut butter sandwich.