La La Land

I know La La Land came out two months ago, but, seeing as the Oscars are this weekend, it seemed an appropriate time to talk about it. 

The other day, I realized that I rarely see movies (in theatres, I mean) that aren't somehow adapted from books or comics. But - since I have a girl crush on Emma Stone and, like every other person, love Ryan Gosling - I've wanted to see this whimsical musical as soon as I saw the first trailer. 

I liked everything about it: the sets, and the timeless vibe, and how it was split into seasons, and, of course, the music. I liked how Mia (Emma Stone) had to work so hard to achieve her dreams (#sorelatable) and how it all paid off in the end (still waiting for that to happen to me). I liked how she doubted herself when she couldn't catch a break because it hit me in the heart (I feel you, Mia).

Here’s to the ones who dream / Foolish as they may seem. / Here’s to the hearts that ache. / Here’s to the mess we make.

I liked that Seb (Ryan Gosling) was so passionate about music (even if I don't love jazz) and I like how he made an effort to spread that passion. 

I also, admittedly, liked how he looked in a suit (who didn't?).

I liked how Seb supported Mia, especially when he tracked her down to give her the good news about her callback. I liked their whirlwind relationship in general. 

I did not, however, like that they - SPOILER ALERT - did not stay together. 

Sure, it was more emotional and probably more realistic, but that doesn't mean I was happy when she went home to another man, five years later (even if it was Tom Everett Scott).

And when they did the flashback scene to what could have been if Seb had't been so dismissive the first time they met, I'm not ashamed to say I teared up a little (my sister actually cried, which made then made me cry). 

Yes, it was super white, but it was a visually and sonically pleasing escapist experience and for that, I'm glad it's getting so much recognition. 

#selfcare music

It's been a rough few weeks for me emotionally, so I've been in the business of trying to find as many things as possible that make me happy. That's why this week, all my posts are going to be all about #selfcare, and what that means to me. Today: music.

Quite honestly, I listen to more podcasts than I do music, but sometimes I just need to listen to something that I know all the words to, can twist and shout and let it all hang out. For me, #selfcare music is pretty much the music I listened to in high school and musical theatre. I need to be able to belt it out, dance around to it, and be able to forget my worries for about 3 and a half minutes. 

Right now, my #selfcare playlist is pretty small, but here are a few tracks that are currently keeping my smile from turning upside down.

A song that has the lyrics "I bring whimsy and forest fires" has to bring your mood up.

All pop-punk. All the time. This can easily be subbed for anything by All-American Rejects, The Academy Is... and Blink 182.

Just... so much musical theatre.

So what music makes you feel safe and happy?

8123 Means Everything to Me

8123 is a management team/independent label that supports bands like The Maine, Beach Weather, The Technicolors and more. But, as I've recently learned, it's more than that. 

8123 is convincing your sister to take a trip miles away to Arizona in the middle of January to see one of your favourite bands celebrate their ten year anniversary (even though your managers give you grief about missing inventory. #sorrynotsorry). 

8123 is losing your mind when that same band premieres a new song on the radio the day you land in their hometown (technically next door to their hometown) and then listening to it non-stop for two weeks.

8123 is having heart palpitations when your number one girl crush walks past you while you're waiting for food.

8123 is silently weeping when a beloved band reunites for the first time in four years to play a forty minute set packed with their best songs. 

8123 is standing in a parking lot in Phoenix (where, by the way, it was not nearly as hot as I hoped it would be) with almost 3000 other people, all of you screaming the same lyrics. 

8123 is losing your voice two songs into the headlining set and walking around with a scratchy throat for the next two days.

8123 is humming the closing song to yourself for a week after the show is over.

8123 is lining up for three hours to meet a band you've already met three times before. 

8123 is hugging every member of that band while both of you genuinely thank the other for existing. 

8123 is planning your next tattoo as a memento to this experience, and this band, and this company.

In short, 8123 is everything to me.  

It’s about a number you can’t really explain but you don’t really have to, because the people you love already feel it too.
— John O'Callaghan

Kings of Leon Live is Better Than Kings of Leon Recorded

No, Kings of Leon isn’t a new band. In fact, they released their SEVENTH album in October. So I’m sure you’ve heard of them, but since they were my first concert of 2017, I figured I’d talk about them. 

My sister is actually the one who is a big KOL fan. I know their singles, and live for the bass in “Beautiful War”, otherwise I’m really more of a casual listener. I didn’t even know they had released Walls until a week later when I was talking about buying concert tickets with one of my friends!

I can’t pretend to be an expert on their music (all I know is Caleb Followill has a distinctive voice), but as a concert enthusiast, I can tell you what kind of performers they are. 

The first time we saw them in 2010 for Come Around Sundown, they lacked stage presence and enthusiasm. It felt like they were phoning it in, and I was a little disappointed - I thought for sure I’d end up their number one fan if their live show was phenomenal. Despite the letdown, we saw them again in 2014 for the release of Mechanical Bull, and they were MUCH better. More lively and they actually looked like they were enjoying themselves.  

This time, they were just as enthusiastic. They're still not a really talkative bunch - no long-winded stories in between songs and no banter between the members - but when they do talk (and it's mostly Caleb Followill), it's to genuinely thank us for being there and filling up so many seats. More importantly, they actually sounded like they were having fun. They're polished musicians, no hitches or mishaps, and they're entertaining to listen to. I'd argue that they're better live simply because it's more dynamic to listen to them while watching them (and also because I forget that I actually enjoy KOL until I'm standing in a venue). 

In short: I'd recommend seeing Kings of Leon the next time they swing through town. If you're already a fan, you'll love hearing your favourite songs live. And if you're not already a fan, you'll walk out of the venue with a deeper appreciation of their music and talents. 

Learning to Listen to Music Again

I think it's safe to say that on this website, Sam is the music aficionado. I like to stay in my little realm of podcasts and listening to the same music I've listened to for years. The new music that  I hear is in my many Uber rides and it seems that there are only about 5 songs that are ever played (if I never hear the song "Closer" by the Chainsmokers for the rest of my life, I would be okay with that).

Despite my lack of music listening, I decided to treat myself to a Play One Sonos speaker. The small but mighty speaker would connect to my computer or phone via wifi and I could listen to anything I wanted. The thing is, I have no idea what I want to listen to. The speaker's sound is so incredible and I feel totally overwhelmed by all the musical possibilities. I purchased a Spotify account in the attempt to become more in the know but it's only made me more confused. I don't know what I like anymore. New music feels either too complex or too simple for me. I find it difficult to give anything a chance.

So I'm beginning my musical education again. I'm opening myself up to all genres and all types of music. I've become stuffy and stuck-up in my opinions and I'm determined to loosen myself up and let the sound waves float through me in the hopes that I can reignite my own inner music aficionado.  

Best Albums of 2016

Most of 2016 was pretty awful, but it was a fantastic year for music! I chose 16 releases that I really enjoyed in 2016 (more or less in order and probably missing someone that I won’t remember for another few weeks), and made you a playlist for your listening pleasure (you’re welcome). What music blessed your eardrums this past year?

  1. Blush - Moose Blood
  2. Death of a Bachelor - Panic! at the Disco
  3. Stories for Monday - The Summer Set
  4. I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it - The 1975
  5. Dissonants - Hands Like Houses
  6. Echoes - Young Guns
  7. Wild World - Bastille
  8. Ellipsis - Biffy Clyro
  9. I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love - The Ready Set
  10. GLA - Twin Atlantic
  11. Backbone - Roam
  12. Limitless - Tonight Alive
  13. Throw Your Head to the World (EP) - Boat Race Weekend
  14. The Cabin (EP) - Foxtrax
  15. Merge (EP) - Heirsound
  16. Sincerely, John the Ghost (EP) - John O’Callaghan

Resolution: Watch More Movies

I kind of have a standing resolution where with each passing year, I want to ingest more pop culture. I'm only two days into the year and am already feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that's out there, and how little time I have to enjoy it all. Yesterday, I made a tiny bit of headway by watching four incredibly different films in a row. 

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople - This Taiki Waititi feature starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison is as heartwarming as it is gory, which is a shocking amount of both. It was a very fun adventure film, sweet and hilarious, with great chemistry between the protagonists. Highly recommend.  

The Big Short - I honestly understood maybe half of the film but I absolutely adored the way it was told. Well acted, upsetting movie, hard to understand all the technicalities, but great overall.

Man Up - A case of mistaken identity where the truth comes out a whole lot sooner than expected = a fantastic movie in my books. Much better than I would have imagined, and Lake Bell displays a flawless (to my Canadian ears, anyway) British accent. Very sweet and fun movie.

 John Wick - This. Movie. Was. So. Good. I don't even want to talk about the plot, it's so good. Just watch it.

Introducing Isabella

A couple of weeks ago, singer-songwriter Isabella released a single from her upcoming EP called "Ole". It's a fun song, with a great story behind the lyrics, and if you're looking to diversify your playlist, you'll want to keep an ear out for this Puerto Rican/French powerhouse. Scroll down for a short interview with Isabella and to give the song a listen!

The song tells the story of a king who is willing to sacrifice everything for the love of the world. It is influenced by gypsy culture and flamenco in southern Spain. The percussion reflects the sounds of Puerto Rico, the diversity of the culture and Isabella’s other musical influences that have surrounded her since her youth. 

When/how did you start making music?

I started making music after being encouraged to song write around the age of 14. It then became a habit to record melodies, then sit at the piano and write.

How would you describe your sound?

I would describe my sound as pop soul and Latin. I like exploring different genres. My writing style engages with my cultural upbringing even when the songs are in English. 

What are some of your favorite bands? Who (or what) else inspires/influences you?

I like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, No Doubt and many alternative bands. There is eclectic and bohemian influence in the music I create. In particular, I’m inspired by relationships within any social context under the confines of love. 

Who in the music industry would you love to work with (other bands/musicians/producers, etc)?

I want to work with Bruno Mars and Ricky Martin!

Do you have any tour plans in the works? What would be your dream tour line-up?

I would like to tour the east coast, Latin America and Spain. There are many inspiring indie artists who could do great tour collaborations with established pop stars. It would be very inspiring to cross over genres and languages in one tour. 

What kind of advice would you give someone who just started a musical career? What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Stay focused, persevere and endure. Have discipline in your craft and boldness with your passion. The best advice I've received is "just do it”.

You can follow Isabella on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Hamilton Mixtape - The Soundtrack of the Year, With a Twist

It's coming up on a year and a half since I have been listening to, engaging with, and sobbing along to Hamilton. I still have yet to see the show, despite my best efforts at attempting the lottery when I was in New York, back in January, but the most consistent music for me this past year, without a question, has been the Hamilton soundtrack. I thought I was lucky enough just to be able to revel in those 46 tracks, but then came another 23 on Dec. 2... The Hamilton Mixtape

Once again, I was awash with genius works, but now they were genius works I recognized but had been taken, updated, blended, re-worked, re-jigged, and remixed by incredible artists. I do admit that there are stronger songs on the mixtape than others. I could live without John Legend's cover of "History Has Its Eyes On You" and it pains me to say, but Usher's cover of "Wait For It" simply pales in comparison to the original. However, getting to hear tracks that were dropped from the show like "Congratulations", performed with incredible power and sass by Dessa, and "Cabinet Battle 3 (Demo)", with each debater played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, felt like being let in on a delicious secret. It feels selfish to want even more, now that we've been given this treat, but Hamilton Mixtape has made me hungrier than ever.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I'M SO THANKFUL THIS DIDN'T SUCK.

With Cursed Child being less than impressive, I was a little worried that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would let me down too. But I needn’t have worried - it lived up to the hype and left me stoked for more new material in the next few years.

Can I just say that Eddie Redmayne is flipping adorable???? I can't even cope with how precious he is (the freckly face!) and how perfectly he fits the role of Newt Scamander. I loved his suitcase and all the creatures he kept inside it (the Niffler and his favourite Bowtruckle really captured my heart) and there's a certain magic to seeing an Oscar winner perform a mating dance in Central Park Zoo.

The supporting cast is just as charming: bumbling Jacob who is as enchanted by the Wizarding World as we are; the delightful Legilimens Queenie (she’s almost a grown-up version of Luna but slightly less whimsical); and headstrong and sassy Tina who can't help being intrigued by Newt even when he's (accidentally) wreaking havoc with his case of creatures. I SHIP BOTH THESE RELATIONSHIPS SO HARD.

I’m trying not to spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen it yet (though really, what are you doing that you haven’t run to the nearest theatre??), but I’ll admit I partially saw some of those twists coming. They were still well done and classic J.K. Rowling, but I’m going to need another movie (or three) to convince me that [redacted actor] was really the best choice for [redacted character]. 

I’m also trying to work out what roles some of the minor characters will play - that one senator’s son, and the creepy child, and MERLIN’S PANTS, I JUST REMEMBERED THE NAME DROP THAT HAD ME CHOKING ON MY POPCORN. If I ever lost faith in JKR’s imagination (not possible, but IF), this movie would be the very thing to bring me back from the brink.  

Shameless self-promotion: here’s a slightly more coherent review where I didn’t use a lot of capital letters. 

The Music of Moana

There wasn't a chance that I wouldn't love a movie that involved The Rock, Lin-Manual Miranda, Polynesia, and Disney. Moana is a piece of art, from the gorgeous animation and visuals to the sweeping score and soundtrack. It's truly the best thing to come out of Disney Studios since Tangled, which has a far less solid soundtrack, and many skippable tracks. 

I've only seen Moana once but with the power of reprise and Apple Music, I feel like I know the songs inside and out, and yet also feel like they have more to teach me. I went for a run yesterday by forcing myself into some gym clothes and stuffing earbuds into my ears and blasted the Moana soundtrack and for a brief moment, I didn't quite feel like my legs would give out and my lungs would burst: I felt hopeful and happy and free, like the precocious protagonist of Disney's latest flick. With original songs written by Miranda and Opetaia Foa'i, the songs are philosophical and fun, and already feel as if they will stand the test of time in Disney's legacy.

This is the breakout "Let it Go" track of the movie, which, I will just say, hits me much harder emotionally than any song in Frozen did. Through every reprise of the song, Moana comes more and more into herself and into her power, something that I, as a 26-year-old woman, still struggle to do. It's thrilling and uplifting and will make you run that little extra bit, that you didn't think you could.

A sweeping anthem that starts in Tokelauan and ends in Lin-Manual Miranda, this song tells the story of the world that came before Moana, when her people were voyagers. It sets the tone and theme of the movie perfectly, and it was an inspired choice to not have it open the film, unlike other movies with similar introductory songs like Frozen and The Lion King.

Rock "The Dwayne" Johnson gets to show off his completely non-surprising singing chops in this snappy Broadway-like number, which, of course, has a bridge of Miranda-penned rapping, that Johnson pulls off with ease. It introduces us to our antagonist/reluctant hero Maui in a cocky, manipulative ditty that has Moana, and the audience, completely entranced... before we realize it's all a lot of bullshit. But he does sing it in style.

The other big number is sung by a massive gold-loving crab (lobster?) played by Jemaine Clement. It's a taunting tune that messed with Maui's head but stole my heart. The song is playful and ridiculous, perfect for the former Conchord, whose parody-folk I had missed. Clement brings a Bowie-ness to the glamorous song, which may have been Miranda's intent (in Miranda's demo version, he puts on a Bowie-esque voice), or may have been an ode to this. Either way, with one song, this crab/lobster/shellfish completely stole the show.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Happy Halloween!!

I’m combining Monday’s themes of music and movies to bring you a special holiday post talking about one of my favourite movies of all time, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

If you haven’t seen this movie at least once in your life, I’m definitely going to shout at you the next time we talk. I don’t care if you consider it a Halloween movie or a Christmas film – November is actually the ideal time of year to watch it – it’s a classic and, if anything, you should appreciate it for its beauty. Stop-motion is underrated – it takes so much work to produce one scene but the final results are always gorgeous. 

I’ve decided to highlight my three favourite songs from the movie, though trust me when I say it was tempting to just throw the entire soundtrack into this post and let you listen to it yourself (I listen to it on the regs, starting in October). 

This is Halloween

This really is the best way to introduce the movie, since it highlights a lot of the citizens of Halloween Town and, of course, culminates in one of my favourite scenes in any movie ever: when Jack rises majestically out of their pool. Everybody hail to the Pumpkin King, indeed!

What’s This?

I prefer Christmas to Halloween, so naturally one of the best scenes is the one where Jack discovers Christmas Land. I love all the imagery of the elves and the decorations and how innocently intrigued Jack is. I also haven't been able to say the words "what's this?" without immediately bursting into song for nearly twenty years, so it definitely has staying power.

Oogie Boogie’s Song

Like King Louie singing “I Wan’na Be Like You”, Oogie Boogie’s Song has that old-timey flair that makes it so darn catchy and is probably the biggest culprit when it comes to getting stuck in my head.

Shelter - Porter Robinson & Madeon

I still have Japan on the brain, one week of Toronto-living under my belt, where I am still waking up on a regular basis not knowing where I am, so I still have the epic "Shelter" by Porter Robinson & Madeon in my head. I'm not a big EDM, or electro house, or dubstep, or I don't even know the right names of the genres, but there's something about this song that is hitting me in all the right places. 

The mixture of chopped up vocaloids, a fantastic beat and simple but powerful lyrics makes the song unstoppable, and there is a resonant feeling that you, yourself, are unstoppable as well when you listen to the track. It doesn't hurt that the first time I heard the song was for the accompanying A-1 produced anime short film (also called Shelter, which I wrote about for Squeeing Saturday here), which evoked a lot of emotions in me. It's one of those "soundtrack of your life" songs, where you can build a world of scenarios in your head for how the song fits into moments of badassery in your life (much like Rin, the protagonist of Shelter). I think the song is just so beautiful, and melancholic and hopeful and it will be on repeat for quite some time.

Better Off This Way - Woke Up Waiting

As you're probably aware by now, I'm a big pop-punk fan. And since one of my resolutions this year was to listen to more Canadian bands, I'm extra pleased that I've recently started listening to Woke Up Waiting, a pop-punk trio from Vancouver. 

If you need a comparison, I'd say WUW is a combination of early Mayday Parade and late 5 Seconds of Summer; they have a dash more pop than most of the other bands I listen to, but it's refreshing and they fit right into any one of my many playlists. Despite only releasing their debut EP, Better Off This Way this week, the trio have already established a decent following by releasing covers of popular songs that fit in with their sound, like 5SOS's "Broken Home" and Neck Deep's "December". Their original material is just as catchy as the covers they choose, showing the band's bright talent and enthusiasm. 

I was going to do a track-by-track of their EP, but instead, I'll tell you that if you're even remotely a pop-punk fan, Woke Up Waiting will make you sit up and pay attention. Whether you're into acoustic-y ballads like "For the Night" or jaunty hand-clap worthy jams like "Danger" or a blink-182-esque tune like "Return to Sender", you'll find something to enjoy on this raucous debut. If they don't sound fully polished, it's okay: they have room to grow, and I look forward to watching them make a name for themselves in the scene. 

Amanda Knox

Continuing on my true crime train, I watched the Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix. I knew vague details about the story, mostly that it was in tabloids constantly and that there was maybe a murder? I didn’t really care, much like I just knew that JonBenet was a thing without having any details on her death.

For those of you who don’t know, Amanda Knox was the college student living abroad in Italy who was accused of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher. She acted strangely, she wasn’t grieving appropriately according to Italian authorities, and she seemed to lie when she was questioned by police.

For some reason, Amanda Knox became a tabloid sensation. People everywhere were talking about her and how it was likely she and her Italian boyfriend had killed Kercher is some deviant sex game. She became known as “Foxy Knoxy” and was slut-shamed from here to high-noon. When she was imprisoned, the guards lied to her, saying that she was HIV positive, in the hopes that that would get her to talk. All it did was fuel the fire that she was a sex-crazed psychopath, as she listed, in her prison diary, all of her sexual partners in her attempts to figure out who could have possibly infected her. The diary was leaked to the press, and somehow, according to sleazy journalist Nick Pisa and the Italian prosecution, this was just a larger indicator of Knox’s guilt.

By film’s end, I was convinced of Knox’s innocence. The facts didn’t add up, she had no motive, it just didn’t make sense. What stuck with me was how abysmally this woman was treated. She’s a marked woman for life because of a prosecutor that was determined to make an example of her. The movie is upsetting and for good reason. We see a prime example of how women are so often treated in the world. This case isn't that old. That's scary. Because of that, this movie is compulsory viewing. 

Edgy Pop: A Conversation with Shayla Souliere

When it comes to pop songs, Shayla Souliere gives it her all. Whether it's her latest single, "Screw U", or one of her covers, she belts out the lyrics with passion and enthusiasm. 

Shayla answered a few questions for us here, so read on to learn about this young Canadian talent!

When/how did you start making music?

I started making original music in 2013 when I met my Producer/Mentor Alex Cantrall. When I got the call confirming we were going to work together, I was so excited! Alex has 100% helped guide me to the Artist I am today.

How would you describe your sound?

My sound is a fun pop sound with some edge mixed in.

What are some of your favorite bands? Who (or what) else inspires/influences you?

I have tons of favourite bands! To name a few Artist/Bands they would be: Justin Bieber, 5 Seconds of Summer, Michael Jackson, Prince, Usher, Beyonce. I could keep going haha! I get my inspiration from so many different things. I find that every musician brings some sort of inspiration to me, towards my songwriting or performance etc.

Who in the music industry would you love to work with (other bands/musicians/producers, etc)?

I would love to work with Justin Bieber. Bringing two Canadians together for a collaboration would be extremely fun and creative. I believe I could learn a lot from him as he is such a talented musician.

Do you have any tour plans in the works? What would be your dream tour line-up?

I am working on booking shows as we speak! My dream tour line-up would be with either Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Usher, or Rihanna

What kind of advice would you give someone who just started a musical career? What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?

The best advice I have received is to stay humble and true to yourself and I would say that is the best advice I could offer to anyone as well!

Who are some of your girl crushes (real or fictional)?

I loved the Spice Girls growing up hahaha!

You can follow Shayla on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Breaking Down the Elements with "Song Exploder"

If you've ever wondered about the story behind a song, how it was built and came to be, "Song Exploder" is your new best friend. Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway (though he says far less in this show than in his other podcast "The West Wing Weekly"), "Song Exploder" is an interview based podcast, where an artist will dissect one of their songs to its barest bones, from its inspiration to how they chose to compile it. 

"Song Exploder" features songs of all various genres, but on of my favourite episodes is the breakdown of the theme song to Bob's Burgers. Loren Bouchard, the creator of Bob's Burgers, is also the mastermind behind its fun theme. He breaks down how the theme has evolved over the seasons and how it has come to perfectly define the quirky comedy. 

Post Emo Sadcore: Chatting with Chasing Down Sunset

Need some more pop-punk in your life? Meet Chasing Down Sunset, a young (in both age and actual life-as-a-band) group from New Jersey who are ready to introduce you to your new favourite genre: post emo sadcore. The quintet may be young, but what they lack in age, they make up for in talent: their music is sharp and hard-hitting, energetic with a splash of sadness for good measure. Their most recent four-song EP, A Proper Introduction, is the first to feature this permanent line-up, and it leaves you wanting more. Luckily, the band has literally years to keep making music...once they all graduate high school. 

I've already done an in-depth interview with Chasing Down Sunset for idobi radio, so this time around, I asked them a couple of "serious" questions, and a few nonsense questions to get to know the band a little better. 

When/how did you start making music? 

The line up we have now is not the line up we started out with when we first started making music as a band. It started off with just Jill and Dan jamming together as middle school friends. Nothing was really serious, until the start of our freshman year of high school we came up with the band name and decided to start a project of some sort, undecided for what genre we would face towards. We met Zion that year and he became our second guitarist, went through some swaps of bassists and singers throughout 2015, and that summer is when we came across Ryan from mutual friends, he became our bassist, and January 2015 is when we finalized our line up as a band with our permanent lead vocalist, Jimmy. Our sound and style of music was really never decided, it was more so developed by all of our different styles of writing and creating music combining. 

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What are some of your favorite bands? Who (or what) else inspires/influences you? What would be your dream tour line-up?

Jimmy: You, Me and Everyone We Know, PMToday, and Gatsby’s American dream are my favorites, and as inconceivable as it is, that’d be my dream tour. 

Jill: Some of my favorite bands are PVRIS, State Champs, Paramore, Four Year Strong, City & Colour, and Turnover and all of those bands I think influence my playing a lot. I would say the band that inspires me the most would be PVRIS because of how hard they work and their overall drive as a band. My dream tour lineup would probably be Speak Low If You Speak Love, Tonight Alive, PVRIS, and State Champs.

Dan: Inspiration comes to me in many different ways and from many different artists as well. Some of my favorite bands and artists are Knuckle Puck, The Story So Far, Luke Holland, Transit, Moose Blood, and Elder Brother. Of course there are many others that have influenced me and my playing, but lately those few have really dug into my soul and gave me a different feel for music. Touring with any band from that list would be a dream in itself. 

Zion: Some of my favorite bands would be Knuckle Puck, Boston Manor, Transit and State Champs. I think in Knuckle Puck they put these different types of chord progressions and the guitar leads that really inspires me the most. My dream tour line-up would be with Boston Manor, Transit, State Champs, and Knuckle Puck. 

Ryan: I’m into plenty of different genres, but my heaviest influences would be bands from the tech metal, indie, and alternative scene. Periphery, Intervals, Tiger’s Jaw, Scale The Summit, A Will Away would be a couple of my all time favorites. What I take as influence for my bass playing is more of the time and style of playing rather than writing, I’m always searching for the best way to break through the mix. My dream tour would have to be with The Story So Far, Jack’s Mannequin, and Moose Blood. 

Our sound and style of music was really never decided, it was more so developed by all of our different styles of writing and creating music combining.

What fictional world would you most want to live in (movies/TV/books, etc)?

Jimmy: Stephen King’s version of New England for sure, I’d love living in Derry

Jill: It’d probably have to be Avatar The Last Airbender.

Dan: I'm with Jill, i would love to roam the world of Avatar the Last Airbender

Zion: The Avengers for me. 

Ryan: LOTR for sure. 

What’s your favorite/essential summertime song?

Jimmy: The entire Pompeii album by Gatsby’s American Dream or the Zoey 101 Theme Song.

Jill: I don’t have a specific song that is my essential summertime song, but a few bands I really get into the summer mood listening to is Transit, Smallpools, and The 1975.

Dan: Chlorine - Trophy Eyes

Zion: Gold Rush by Knuckle Puck.

Ryan: Anything by Transit, and the Everything In Transit album by Jack’s Mannequin

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Jimmy: There’s Vegan CheeseSteak at this place called Lovin’ Hut, I would so not mind that haha

Jill: I love ice cream but that’s pretty unhealthy so I’d go with Rita’s Italian Ice.

Dan: Pizza.

Zion: Chinese food by far.

Ryan: Chicken and Waffles.

You just finished your first tour (congrats)! How was the experience? Did you learn any weird things about each other after traveling together? 

The experience we’ve all had on tour was absolutely incredible. It definitely was a time we will never ever forget. I think a random thing we all learned from this tour is that there is very little that can get between Dan and Pokemon Go. 

Exploring the Dark Side of Tickling in "Tickled"

In honour of TIFF, I knew I had to write about a movie this week. However, because TIFF intimidates the crap out of me (too many choices!), I’m not going to be writing about a film that is currently premiering at the festival, but it’s still a film only playing in a limited capacity.

This past Thursday, I went to go see the new documentary Tickled, about the seedy underbelly of the tickling industry. Didn’t know there was a tickling industry, let alone a seedy underbelly of one? David Farrier, journalist and director of Tickled, didn’t know either, but after attempting to contact the creator of a tickling video he happened upon online, he suddenly became the victim of intensely vitriolic homophobic threats which soon led to legal action. Someone didn’t want outsiders looking in to tickling.

The tickling videos that Farrier started to investigate were said to be part of "Competitive Endurance Tickling", a competition set up by Jane O'Brien Media. "Competitors" would tickle a tied up participant to... well, it's never quite explained to what end, but Farrier knew that this was a story he wanted to tell.

The film starts off lightly enough, since it all seems so absurd. Who could possibly be taking tickling seriously? It turns out… a lot of people. As the film goes on, the giggles start to turn into gasps as the movie takes a serious turn. By the end, everyone in my theatre was wide-eyed. No one was laughing anymore. David Farrier does a great job of narrator, director and star of the documentary. He seems so baffled by his discovery, yet his inability to let the bizarreness go makes the film incredibly compelling and at times, quite scary. There are so many twists and turns, I was left just as breathless as the tickling victims. I don't want to give away the ending, but know that it is worth the barreling through the bizarre and the discomfort of the adult tickling world. It is currently playing at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre.

Soundtracking the Season: Fall 2016

Fall is, as my friend Khadijah keeps reminding me, just around the corner. I haven't completely let go of the summer yet, so a lot of the songs I've been listening to in the past couple of weeks are still pretty "summer". Still, I thought I'd update you on what I've been obsessing over - music-wise - lately. 

And because it's not on Spotify but it's one of the greatest things EVER, here's The Maine covering Ace of Base's "The Sign". Why so perfect, John O'Callaghan?