there’s something to be said about sundays in berlin. unlike many other cities, there’s never a shortage of things to do on any given sunday in this city, and whether you’re brunching, burning the dancefloor at berghain, or shopping at mauerpark, there’s something strangely special about the way berliners take on what’s usually the week’s sleepiest day. certainly, then, there’s something to be said about lekker collective, a small PR agency that’s bringing a new warmth to your sunday schedule.
ben nevile flies under the radar. although he regularly updates his soundcloud page with what seems like snippets of his musical musings, his profile is decidedly non-descript. he doesn’t have a facebook fan page, or a twitter account. his beatport profile is wiped clean of any telling information, and his biography on the telegraph records site – his home since he first started releasing music in 2001 – is a concise two paragraphs in length. if you take all of this to mean that ben’s artistry is equally as well-kept a secret in the industry, you are definitely mistaken.
it’s only been a couple weeks since local heroes hushlamb – made up of toronto natives sarah lamb and alicia hush – announced their third event, this time a nighttime follow-up to their under-the-sun jam earlier this summer. dubbed “motif local,” the party will host an incredible roster of canadian talent, including the likes of miss hush herself, magnanime, akufen, zeina, ana+one, diagraf on visuals, and of course, ben nevile. taking to the event’s facebook wall to voice their enthusiasm, everyone seems to be waiting on ben nevile. born in manitoba and bred in british columbia, ben makes detailed minimal and techno-influenced music grounded in his canadian roots; humble, organic, and genuine. it’s anything but elitist. ahead of this weekend’s festivities, i caught up with ben to talk keeping a low-profile, degrassi junior high, perfectionism, and what we can expect from the hushlamb motif local.
my first time visiting fabian rosas beckmann‘s apartment in montreal’s plateau, we had snuck off from an after party to go look at his art — including a piece he was gifting me after i had gushed it on facebook. to say that his apartment was filled with his art would be an understatement. every surface is literally covered in paintings. and not just walls — tables, counters, tops of shelves, corners; all stacked with paintings, planks of wood, and found objects that fabian has repurposed into his own unique canvases.
a mexican-born, montreal-based artist, singer, writer, photographer, and lyricist, fabian has produced over 200 pieces of work; some measuring more than 4 meters wide. if you asked me to describe his artistic style, the first word that comes to mind is “expression.” maybe that’s the obvious answer. maybe not. his paintings are multi-layered, wildly textural, capturing movement in fingerstrokes or freepoured paint so that the whole thing feels dynamic, engaging. each painting takes on a life of its own, abstract enough that it is read differently by everyone, but grounded enough that we all feel something when we look at it. he’s the kind of artist that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty: it might just be the secret to making his art so unsettlingly personal.
fabian and i play this game when we’re looking at his art. he asks me, “what do you see?” i always rattle off a peculiar anecdote or bizarre comparison, one that is sometimes different, sometimes identical to what fabian tells me when i ask him the same question. it’s like those children’s books — the ones with a pointillist image that when you squint at it a certain way, you see a sailboat? this hilarious but poignant conversation of “don’t you see it? right there?”
ahead of his debut solo exposition ephemere at montreal’s le saint jude tonight, we decided to recreate the game for this piece, where you’ll find five of fabian’s paintings, described by each of us. for more on fabian and his work, you can find him on instagram, or check out his expo tonight at 3988 st denis. he will also be hosting paintbending, a night of art-meets-music at lounge l’un et l’autre on october 11th, featuring sounds by swack, ana+one, zeina, daoust, M4CR0, alicia hush, and marc leveq.
“music that moves you has a lot of different contexts. i can be moved at home, i can be moved on the dancefloor,” sarah lamb is explaining the philosophy behind the hushlamb mantra, “ the natural reaction to music is to shake and move your body. it brings community together. we all become a part of it.” certainly we do, particularly when it comes to the kind of music delivered by the event crew that she runs with her longtime friend and business partner, DJ/producer alicia hush. they affectionately call it their musical lovechild.
when i first arrive at sarah’s house on the outskirts of montreal’s gay village, she’s sitting in a chair on her balcony, and alicia is cutting her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors. there’s sangria. sarah and alicia have known each other for years, but it doesn’t stop them from being incredibly open and welcoming — qualities that extend entirely to the way they throw parties and the way they distribute music. there’s no politics here.
of all the interviews i’ve done, this was, surprisingly, the interview where i spoke the least and asked the fewest questions. sarah has a poetic way of speaking, of putting into words the exact answer you want without you even asking. by contrast and as her moniker would suggest, alicia is shy. a girl of few words. but like her music, when she speaks, it is impactful — less is definitely more. they balance one another. it’s been almost a decade since they first started going out together in toronto, meeting up on the dancefloor in much the same way that they do today, an experience they hope to bring to with their parties and events as hushlamb.
i know, i know. “the last speaker session was last week,” i hear you say to yourself. you’re right. but i couldn’t wait to bring you the 16th volume of little city mixes, because it arrived just in time for the bootleg edition of grey area, courtesy of montreal producer/DJ, dull.
grey area is a series of bi-monthly underground dance music events run by residents/hosts michael armstrong (aka M4CR0) and michael flandez, who together form DJ duo michael & i. although the community project is still in its relative youth – it’s only three events old, to be fair – grey area has managed to bring something new to the table. true to its name, grey area is “neither here nor there,” pulling in references from a plethora of intelligent dance music genres, putting together events that speak to the thinker in all of us. where other events cater to that fucked up bass drop party til you drop tip, grey area favours conceptual dancefloor centric soundscapes, live performances, and boundary pushing DJ sets. so far, the grey area roster has seen artists like ana+one, zeina, like a tree, mir, and magnanime, playing alonside M4CR0 and flandez.