Run

Hear that song? Sing along, you dance the dance
Make no mistake love, you are here now
Be grateful we were good to give you a chance
Do not stop playing the game, bow down

Do not forget who it is that you are
But change clothes, dress up, put on some make up
Remember, without us you can only go so far
Speed up. These things, they do pileup

Be nice to the guests, show your charm
But you see — we have a reputation to protect
So no gum, no rum, hide that tatooed arm
Please them, please us, you will be perfect

Don’t run, you can’t go anywhere
Don’t run, we are not done with you yet


This poem is the backbone of a Digital Design project that challenged me to edit together my writing and my music. (Kind of like songwriting, but different.) “Run” was written as a way to find some sense of recovering and catharsis after my going through a character-defining moment of my life: upon being put against the wall to change into being someone else, with the promise of acceptance, it had to be my decision to wake up, and get out. I know that much of my own writing I like to read not for being proud of the text itself, but for being able to relive the catharsis from writing it out. This is the case here. But it is okay.

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Thank you, Clarity

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This staged photo of a tarot reading, lit by three candles, served as background to a much experimental self-portrait: the cards in the picture bring the answer of who it is that I am, and what it is that I am doing here — portraying the past, showing the reality of the present, and reveling the possibility of the future. The process of building up this particular project was, perhaps, the most intense in self-discovery throughout the semester. And it was, too, fun to make. It is called Thank You, Clarity.

I am not

For the children, I am an astronaut; for the grown-ups, I am trouble. Friends see me as empathy, but those who stay, they lose me — I tend to part away. And I lose them, even when I love them, I lose them. Slower and harder. I lost so many: addresses, pictures, smiles. I lost so many ideas, so many faces. I forgot. This was not their dream, after all. But I am more than the things I have — even the memories in my head. I am a journey; I am evolution, and I am not: I was and I will be, ever changing. The intent to be. I am what they see, I am what they gave for me to be. I am a little theirs, but I am all.

Hill & the Sky Heroes

It has always seemed to me that the most magnificent works of art tend to come from an inherent intellectual curiosity within the artist, more than all other propelling sources of creativity. It builds extraordinariness. This idea of exploring and expanding while creating is very clearly present in Canadian singer-songwriter Hill Kourkoutis’s latest collaborative solo project with Hill & the Sky Heroes, The Great Year. 

The innovatory aspect of the album starts with the journeying concept behind its release format: split into three sequential EPs (Dark Days, Electric Matter and Mystics) to be released over the course of one year, the album has been gradually revealing itself in all its amazing complexity and growing essential depth. This storytelling core also traces an allegorical parallel with the elapse of life and the artist’s personal as well as artistic evolution.

Although Dark Days, released in January this year, could absolutely exist by itself, when put into prospective according to the entire album reality, it is a musically and lyrically intriguing progression that ends with the profoundly revealing song “Hurt Me,” and ultimately leads to the even bolder follow-up Electric Matter — released shortly after the introductory EP, in May.

Both EPs are heavily marked by Kourkoutis’s masterful production skills and inquisitiveness as she combines more traditional musical styles, even presenting glimpses of soul, with genres of electronic music — which, on some occasions, inspire futuristic sounds. What really does stand out amidst the beautifully elaborate coalescence of auditory effects, however, is the singer’s voice. Her timbre has such a strong presence and her lyrics are so powerful and genuine, that the singing itself may always be, intentionally or not, the most captivating aspect of Kourkoutis’s music.

Just like Dark Days, Electric Matter approaches themes of search and connection, or lack of connection, at times; with another person or, as exposed through “Who Am I,” within the artist’s own inner self and identity and voice:

I just don't know what I see 
I’m looking in the mirror
I am looking for me
But just don't know what I see
So I'm looking in the mirror
Keep on searching in the mirror

The two first portions of The Great Year that have already been released represent a golden opportunity for Hill Kourkoutis’s listeners to not only appreciate her music, but also observe her closely while she adventures in the disclosing, perhaps cathartic, process of creating an album. About the conclusive EP, Mystics, it is on its way, and I cannot wait to immerse myself in Hill & the Sky Heroes’ awesome artistic world once again!


Text revised by the awesome Frances Burt.

The 2015 JUNO Awards

Time has made it clear that every day brings its contribution to history, and that some contributions are bigger than others. Certain deeds, because of their significance, will be remembered more vividly, for a longer time, and by more people. On March 15th, I had the privilege to attend the JUNO Awards broadcast – in Hamilton, Ontario – and witness an important moment in music history’s development.

                                                                                                                                                   My first finding of the night – not as much as a researcher, but as a human being – was that there is something extraordinary about seeing someone else’s achievements being acknowledged, especially when it comes to any art form. It was astonishing to watch some new musicians’ performances that made me optimistic about the future of music. I am grateful for what they are doing; for the effort they are putting on expressing themselves, and I wish them, as well as all of us who hope for those artists to remain successful, the best of luck.

A completely different kind of thrill, even more intense, hit me when record producer and songwriter, Glen Ballard, walked up to the stage positioned in the center of the venue. The FirstOntario Centre, as the arena is called nowadays, was the place from where Alanis Morissette took home five Juno trophies with the phenomenon Jagged Little Pill, in 1996. She was the songwriter and female vocalist of the year; her album won “album of the year” and “best rock album,” also containing the “single of the year” winner – “You Oughta Know.”

            

Nearly two decades after such accomplishment; this winter; that night, she went back to Hamilton. This time, however, she was not there to be recognized for one extremely meritorious album; she was being honored because of her extremely successful and influential career as a singer-songwriter-musician. There would have been no one better than Ballard to induct Alanis into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The speech he gave about that particular time when they were working together on Jagged Little Pill was revealing, profound and touching, just like the album itself.

            

By the end of the night, after some other artists’ performances, the most recent Juno Hall of Fame inductee was joined on the main stage by Jason Orme, Julian Coryell, Cedric Lemoyne, Victor Indrizzo and Vincent Jones to beautifully deliver a medley of three songs. “Uninvited,” “You Oughta Know” and “Thank you” marked the thirty years for which Alanis had just been well deservedly honored. More than just representing a glimpse of the story behind her career’s timeline, these specific titles also implied a deeper meaning to the performance. The singer expressed sincere gratitude, but not ceasing to demonstrate that she learned to let go of material expressions of value and set herself on a spiritual journey to an ego-less state.

           

Being part of that moment, having the chance to give Alanis Morissette my applause, was one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had. It is a great honor for me to have been born in an era when such wise and genuine artist exists.

“Her voice rang as a bell of truth.”

– Glen Ballard, Canadian Music Hall of Fame Induction speech


Going to Canada is always an enormous pleasure, for I greatly admire all Canadians I’ve ever connected with. The journey this research process has developed itself into became much more meaningful after allowing me to meet some amazing friends. The inspiration I get from their benignity and talent is part of this project’s essence. And it was their generosity that took me to Hamilton this winter. Thank you Paul, Linda and Tim.

Text reviewed by Frances Burt, the kindest and most patient English Composition instructor ever. Thank you, Mrs. Burt.

Head over Feet

One of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood is actually about an ordinary day. I remember entering my father’s room, looking at the TV, and seeing this stunning woman supposedly perform magic with a minuscule artifact. It was a rectangular, maybe oblong, little piece of metal with holes on one side of it. When taken to the woman’s mouth, touching her lips as she inhaled and exhaled, the object would produce a very peculiar, high-pitched sound.

The level of fascination I reached after watching that video led me to a true musical awakening. That particular song with the mesmerizing harmonica was released on an album that won me over, at first, by how it sounded and how it had been interpreted. I didn’t have an opinion about what Alanis was saying in her lyrics because, back then, at the age of five, I couldn’t speak English. I soon realized that if I wanted to fully understand Jagged Little Pill, I should start studying the language. What I didn’t know at the time was that my recent passion for music, along with my willingness to learn English, would set me on the biggest adventure ever.

Life Defenders

My last trip to Brazil rendered me a very interesting meeting with Ricardo Negreiros, who owns the publishing company that is dealing with my book. It was very inspiring for me to learn that Negreiros has also founded an amazing entertainment company with the prime purpose of protecting the animals and the environment.

The Life Defenders started as an online game through which kids could learn about ecological sustainability and animal protection. In addition to the game, the company will have two books published this year in order to promote education about their cause.

The Life Defenders’ profits will sponsor projects related to environmental protection, the encouragement to adoption of abandoned pets, and special care for injured wild animals – also managing their rehabilitation, so they can go back to their habitat.

I am very excited to announce that part of my book’s profit will be donated to this extraordinary cause. And I am very proud to be a Life Defender.

Sean McGhee

British artists, in an extensive list of names, have been beautifully endowing music, all along its history, with distinguished talent. I’ve been given the privilege to interview a musician that represents part of that huge contribution.

As a record producer and audio engineer, Sean McGhee has accomplished full success and has over a million record sales to his name. His impressive skills in studio, highly refined, have made it possible for him to reach listeners all around the world through other artists’ albums. Listening to anything on which McGhee has worked has been an immeasurable pleasure since long ago, but just recently I’ve found a source of even greater joy: his voice.

Sean McGhee and Richard Oakes – guitarist of the British band Suede – started writing songs together back in 2008. Their collaboration resulted, at first, in a four-track EP called I Keep on Walking, released on May 2011. Although Artmagic, as the duo is called, was Sean’s first experience as a lead singer, and Richard’s first time making music with anyone that wasn’t Suede since he was in school, they turned out to be splendid together.

Their debut album – Become the One You Love, released on July 2012 – was filled with Richard’s guitar masterfulness, Sean’s adroitness as a producer, and both musicians’ aptitude for songwriting. The duo’s compositions are extraordinary; an elegant exhibition of talent and cognition. Artmagic has done an outstanding job in studio and in live performances.

McGhee’s triumphs in his career were mainly an outcome of his natural ability to make music, which was noticed in him since an early age. He was, then, given the opportunity to start playing in a band, but it was his decision to take it seriously. And it was his decision to be brilliant.

“I realized very early that I was annoying people because I would take it [music] very seriously. I always wanted to be brilliant. I suppose that that was the wrong time to be serious, with my teenage band. But that was what got me started, thinking that it was possible to work with music and take it seriously.”

Sean McGhee


Artistas britânicos, em uma extensa lista de nomes, vêm presenteando a música com notável talento ao longo da história. Eu tive o privilégio de entrevistar um músico que representa parte dessa grande contribuição.

Como produtor e engenheiro de som, Sean McGhee alcançou pleno sucesso e recebeu créditos pela venda de mais de um milhão de discos. Sua impressionante habilidade em estúdio, altamente refinada, o fez alcançar ouvintes ao redor do mundo através dos álbuns de outros artistas. Ouvir qualquer coisa em que McGhee tenha trabalhado tem sido um prazer imensurável desde muito tempo atrás, mas recentemente descobri uma fonte de ainda maior satisfação: sua voz.

Sean McGhee e Richard Oakes – guitarrista da banda britânica Suede – começaram a compor músicas juntos em 2008. A parceria resultou, primeiramente, em um EP de quatro faixas chamado I Keep on Walking, lançado em Maio de 2011. Embora Artmagic, como o duo é chamado, tenha sido a primeira experiência de Sean como vocalista principal, e a primeira vez que Richard compôs com alguém que não fosse a Suede desde o tempo da escola, eles formaram uma dupla esplêndida.

Seu primeiro álbum – Become the One You Love, lançado em Julho de 2012 – foi composto por toda a maestria de Richard como guitarrista, a sagacidade de Sean como produtor, e a aptidão de ambos para escrever música. Suas composições são extraordinárias; uma exposição de talento e conhecimento. Artimagic tem feito um ótimo trabalho em estúdio e em apresentações ao vivo.

Os triunfos alcançados por Sean em sua carreira foram, principalmente, resultado de sua habilidade para fazer música, percebida nele desde a infância. Por isso, ele teve a oportunidade de tocar em uma banda, trabalho que decidiu levar a sério. Sean decidiu ser brilhante.

“Eu percebi muito cedo que estava incomodando as pessoas por levar música muito a sério. Eu sempre quis ser brilhante. Acho que aquele era o momento errado para ser sério, com a minha banda da adolescência. Mas foi isso que me fez começar, pensar que era possível trabalhar com música e levá-la a sério.”

Sean McGhee

Tim Thorney

This summer, research on a major research project brought me to Canada and exposed me to some fascinating characters associated with my subject. The perspective I had of this project has been completely changed by its present phase. I realized that it would not be possible to analyze the interviewed musicians based exclusively on a portion of their existence, a limited epoch in their lifetime. I need to fully understand their particular career’s timeline in order to piece this puzzle together.

 

I get on a bus in Toronto, towards a remote town, with one main objective:  interview Tim Thorney in order to understand his career in its many facets. Once I get there and I meet him, we engage in genuine conversation. Not only about music, not about the book in any way. It’s not an interview, it’s just me having the privilege of, somehow, getting to know Tim. Some aspects of his personality made me understand exactly where his latest solo album, Villa Freud, comes from. It’s a result of the knowledge accrued by a person who has been making his own music since the age of three.

Tim Thorney’s dexterity in arranging well-rendered harmonies is broadly present in Villa Freud. The presence of instruments such as the banjo, the mandolin and the bouzouki, in contrast with, for example, the synthesizer, causes a sense of balance between acoustical and electrically enhanced music throughout the album. Expressive; transparent lyrics, well-suited with his timbre – and occasionally supported by precise, intermittent, harmony vocals, were part of the reason why the album, as a whole, had such a positive impact on me.

The themes exposed in Villa Freud’s songs are masterfully approached by Tim and his collaborators. The lyrics can be subjective – even displaying his beliefs about life itself, as in “Free” –, or descriptive of a collection of his memories – “I Was There.” Among objective verses depicturing certain situations experienced by the songwriter – also present in “The Other Side”, for instance –, there are intense feelings expressed in all of his songs. There is always depth.

You’ve seen me high and you’ve seen me drown

And it rains love when you are around.

The nature of Tim’s capacity to turn his consciousness into words is the comprehension he achieved that art is essentially reflective of its artist. This awareness, added to his aptitude for music, made younger Thorney conspicuous in Canada’s music business as a recording engineer and songwriter. During his career, he has also shown high competence in playing innumerous instruments and being a magnificent record producer.

Tim has survived for so long in the music industry not only for his multiple abilities and evident talent, but also because he knows how to adapt to the age. He is open to new technologies, he is curious and he thinks ahead. “When I first listened to digital media, I immediately knew that I had to work with that. I understood that the faster I did it, the faster I’d learn how to deal with that stuff. And going digital was obviously music’s next step,” he says. Tim’s personal progress as an artist is in perfect synchronization with music’s natural development and, at the same time, he manages to leave his traditional signature in everything he touches: meaningful words combined with meticulous instrumental backing track.

 

Text revised by Paul Cantin, who has been guiding me through the whole process of writing this book. Big Thanks, Paul.

 

♦♦♦

Neste verão, pesquisas para um projeto me levaram ao Canadá e me revelaram fascinantes personagens relacionados a meu assunto. A perspectiva que eu tinha desse projeto foi completamente alterada por sua presente fase. Percebi que não seria possível analisar os músicos entrevistados tendo como base uma porção de sua existência, uma época limitada de sua vida. Preciso entender inteiramente o cronograma feito pela carreira de cada um deles a fim de montar esse quebra-cabeça.

Entro em um ônibus em Toronto, rumo a uma cidade longínqua, com um objetivo: entrevistar Tim Thorney e entender sua carreira em todas suas facetas. Quando chego naquele lugar e encontro com ele, envolvemo-nos em genuína conversa. Não apenas sobre música, nada sobre o livro. Não é uma entrevista, é apenas uma situação que me dá o privilégio de, de alguma forma, conhecer Tim. Alguns aspectos de sua personalidade me fizeram entender a origem de seu mais recente álbum solo, Villa Freud. Essa obra é o resultado de todo o conhecimento acumulado por uma pessoa que compõe desde os três anos de idade.

A destreza de Tim Thorney para arranjar harmonias elaboradas está amplamente presente em Villa Freud. A presença de instrumentos como o banjo, o bandolim e o bouzouki, em contraste com, por exemplo, o sintetizador, causa uma sensação de equilíbrio entre música acústica e eletronicamente alterada no decorrer do álbum. Letras expressivas; transparentes, em comunhão com seu timbre – ocasionalmente amparado por bem situadas, intermitentes, harmonias vocais –, são parte da razão pela qual o álbum, como um todo, teve tão grande e positivo impacto sobre mim.

Os temas expostos nas músicas de Villa Freud são magistralmente abordados por Tim e seus colaboradores. As letras podem ser subjetivas – até mesmo revelando suas crenças sobre a vida em si, como em “Free” –, ou descritivas de uma coleção de suas memórias – “I Was There”. Em meio a versos objetivos narrando determinadas situações vivenciadas pelo compositor – também presentes em “The Other Side”, por exemplo –, há sentimentos intensos exprimidos em todas as suas músicas.

You’ve seen me high and you’ve seen me drown

And it rains love when you are around.

A natureza da capacidade de Tim de transformar seus sentimentos em palavras é sua compreensão de que arte é, essencialmente, reflexiva do artista. Essa percepção, adicionada à sua aptidão para música, fez com que Thorney, ainda jovem, se tornasse conhecido no ramo musical como engenheiro de som e compositor. Ao longo de sua carreira, ele também mostrou competência para tocar inúmeros instrumentos e ser um magnífico produtor musical.

Tim sobrevive por tanto tempo na indústria de entretenimento não apenas por suas numerosas habilidades e talento evidente, mas também por saber se adaptar ao tempo. Ele é aberto a novas tecnologias, curioso e pensa adiante. “Quando ouvi mídia digital pela primeira vez, imediatamente soube que tinha que trabalhar com aquilo. Eu entendi que quanto mais rápido o fizesse, mais rápido aprenderia a lidar com aquela coisa. E entrar para o mundo digital era, obviamente, o seguinte passo da música.”, ele diz. O progresso de Tim como artista está em perfeita sincronia com o desenvolvimento natural da música e, ao mesmo tempo, ele consegue deixar sua assinatura tradicional em tudo que toca: letras significativas combinadas com meticulosas faixas de apoio instrumental.

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Texto revisado por Paul Cantin, que está me guiando através do processo de escrever esse livro. Muito obrigada, Paul!