By Amanda Punshon and Meagan Gill
Hardcore music is “a bunch of people screaming their heads off, playing fast. Screaming their heads off, playing fast and playing loud,” according to Joe (“Joey Shithead”) Keithley, founding member of legendary Vancouver hardcore band DOA. Hardcore has been one of Vancouver’s most vibrant music scenes for 33 years, and DOA has been there in one form or another for all of them. In fact, the band’s second album, Hardcore ’81, which was released in April 1981, is responsible for the use of the term “hardcore” as a description of their type of punk music.
Despite being an offshoot of punk, hardcore was influenced as much by folk and metal as punk itself. Keithley counts Iggy Pop, Lead Belly, Arlo Guthrie, Jimmy Hendrix and Black Sabbath as some of the musicians that most affected DOA’s music.
Perhaps the biggest, most important reason for the spread of hardcore was the conservatism of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Politicians such as Ronald Reagan in the States, Margaret Thatcher in England, Helmut Kohl in Germany and Brian Mulroney here in Canada formed “a quartet of idiots,” in Keithley’s words, that people reacted to strongly.
The political climate may be different now, but British Columbians still take social activism seriously, which, Keithley says, is one of the reasons that Vancouver’s hardcore scene continues to thrive.
“Let’s put it this way, if you’re not politically aware, you’re probably not really a punk band,” he says. “Some of the bands are into it, and they’ll play at rallies and protests and stuff like that. Not all of them…but I mean, it’s a part of activism within the punk rock scene.”
In addition to its politics, Vancouver is known for its arts scene.
“Vancouver is a happening place, arts-wise. It’s not surprising that you’d get kids who want to do something in music, they’d move out here. They probably don’t realize how tough it is or how expensive it is but they get out here and somehow they keep working on it,” Keithley says.
And it is tough. According to Keithley, it’s incredibly hard to get a record deal because major record labels no longer have the money or the sense of adventure that they did in the 1960s and ‘70s. They’re much less likely to take a risk on a band that’s not a sure thing.
In addition to that, big record store chains are increasingly less willing to stock albums by little-known bands, Keithley says. So many hardcore bands — DOA included — start their own record labels. Others turn to the Internet to distribute their material, which, for Keithley, is a mixed blessing.
“It’s hard to be heard, or what I say, get above the ‘noise floor.’ It’s kind of hard to get noticed because the most outrageous things have been done, the most screaming’s been done,” he says. But at the same time, “it’s good, the access is there, you can make an album a lot cheaper [than in the past.]”
When DOA was starting out, hardcore bands would play alongside new wave, reggae and pop punk bands. They had to in order to fill a room. But today, Vancouver hardcore has enough of a following that the lineups for most shows are filled by other hardcore bands.
Keithley is not sure what the future has in store for hardcore music in Vancouver. “It’ll just keep growing and morphing like it always does,” he says. “There’s always going to be a new bunch of kids coming along that make their own scene. I can’t predict that.”
But one thing is certain – “people are so passionate about [Vancouver hardcore],” Keithley says. “There’s a lot of support for it…there’s love there for it, and [at the same time] the support’s not there because there’s not a lot of money. It’s coming from the heart, and that’s a good thing.”
For more Chronicle coverage of independent arts in Vancouver, click here.
Busker Marc Stokes is seeing the bigger picture in what he does.
“It’s very difficult to stay in an argument with Marc Stokes,” said Anthony Madani. Madani, a hip hop performer and friend of Stokes’, is the creator of the group Musicians United Against Censorship, which is a collection of buskers, as well as musicians who felt censored by the police.
Due to noise complaints from residents, buskers were shut down by the police in spring 2010. Madani and Stokes both said they understand the concerns of the residents and Stokes added, “If you choose to live on the loudest part of Granville Street, I think it’s kind of a ridiculous statement to complain about noise down there.”
In May 2010, Musicians United Against Censorship, protested against the regulations for buskers by blocking Robson Street and making music.
Madani said that Stokes did a lot of organizing for this event and he “is incredibly passionate about his music and he loves performing and making music for people.”
Stokes is a rapper; he also plays the guitar and the saxophone. He got his musical education in elementary and high school and said his most important influences were the people at the Anza Club. There he met “a lot of people with open minds and open hearts, who are willing to teach and learn.”
David Morin is one of these people. He is singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer who is often on stage with Stokes. About Stokes he said, “Marc is very motivated […] He is just a very determined individual so it’s inspiring to work with him.”
The protest concert caught the attention of people from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA). According to Madani, they liked seeing live music in the streets and how well people reacted to it.
DVBIA took Stokes as a contractor for bringing more music to the streets and, as a result of their work together and with city hall, laws were changed. Busking hours and decibel levels for amplification were extended and more busking areas were created.
Barbara Fairbrother is the event-planning coordinator of DVBIA, who was and is working with Stokes. She said, “I think Marc is very passionate about what he believes in. He is open-minded and willing to listen to different groups and their concerns and I think that’s what helps him work between so many different groups.”
Looking back, Morin sees a transition in the relationship between buskers and police. “First, they [the police] were really hard on us and when they got little bit more used to what was going on they seemed to loosen up on us,” said Morin.
Guitarist Bodhi Jones, who has been a busker for five years, says he never had problems with the police or the city. “As I recall, the bans on busking only started the day the Stokester showed up,” Jones said on the group’s Facebook page in May. “It seems to me that he just likes to talk a lot of shit.”
And, via email, Jones said, “Marc Stokes and his hip hop collective do not speak for me or any of the handful of professional buskers that I’m friends with.“
When confronted with Jones’ quotes, Stokes said, “I think what the concern was a lot of people thought a lot of this was coming from me. […] About what Bodhi said, well, I mean, I’m human and I’m always gonna make mistakes and errors. I don’t know if it is possible to satisfy everybody. But I will try.”
Stokes sees the bigger picture of how life in Vancouver could be someday. He wants the mindsets of people to change. “Maybe some day it doesn’t matter anymore if you drive a BMW. Maybe someday it matters if you’re happy or not.” Stokes said he is not afraid to take the small steps along the way. However, the power for the small and big steps lies in his passion for making music for people.
Stokes’ website: www.un1music.com
The Kwantlen Student Artist Collective has held its first art sale, last week on the Surrey campus, as a way to gain exposure for their group and raise funds for artists.
KSAC was started only two months ago in an attempt to make a name for students in Kwantlen’s Bachelor of Arts program.
“The whole thing is, we got sick of how apathetic everyone is in the fine arts department. So, we had the show last year in Cloverdale, it was okay, but we want more exposure,” said Andres Salaz, one of the founders of KSAC. “We want to be at the same level as Emily Carr now that we got the degree.”
Salaz began studying art at Kwantlen four years ago before switching to Emily Carr. After two years at Emily Carr, he returned to Kwantlen because he didn’t like the atmosphere.
“People were too snobby and cold. I remember I was in the photo room all the time and no one would talk to anybody and it was just like walking into a fridge,” he said
The goal of KSAC is to expose Kwantlen’s artists to the Vancouver art scene through shows and art exhibits.
“In art, all you need is exposure and be out there, and you have to make your own shows so the galleries get interested. That is why we started the collective, to raise money with the art sale and things like that,” said Salaz.
“Emily Carr gets it [exposure] because it has the name but no one knows about the bachelors in fine arts at Kwantlen. We just want to get the name out there.”
The Kwantlen Student Art Collective currently has 22 members and welcomes anyone to join.
New Dungeons & Dragons-inspired webseries Standard Action not just for geeks, says creator Joanna Gaskell
Joanna Gaskell, a Vancouver actor and self-professed geek, is the creator/writer/producer of the new webseries Standard Action, which takes place in a fantasy world not unlike that of Dungeons & Dragons. It centres around Edda, who is rather bloodthirsty; Fernando, a half-Halfling bard; Gwenevere, a vain sorcerer; and Martin, a cleanliness-obsessed Druid. All of the characters are outcasts, neither suited to their roles nor particularly powerful.
Gaskell has gathered a team of local independent film talent to create Standard Action. In this interview, she discusses her inspiration, her team and why she decided to create a series for the web.
Watch Standard Action episode 0 on YouTube here.
by Miranda Gathercole and Amanda Punshon
Warhammer, a table-based miniature war game, is “the coolest thing you’ve never heard of,” according to Doug Widdes, an employee at the Games Workshop in Metrotown mall. The game is part strategy, part art, and its players are all passion. In this 18-minute audio piece, we step inside the world of Warhammer for a few moments to get an overview of the game and meet some of the players.
Kwantlen students and others were asked what they use as their lucky charm, whether for midterms, final exams or daily life. A video by Brittany Tiplady and Paul Fleischanderl.
Olivia Lovenmark isn’t just typical fashion-obsessed Vancouverite: She is style struck.
At 22, she’s working two jobs, penning entries for her blog Style Struck and hoping to launch her career in public relations.
Lovenmark’s fashion sense was there even as a child. “My aunt made my sister and I these pink jeans with bunnies on them and even as a five-year-old, I was like ‘there’s no way I’m wearing these.’”
After high school, Lovenmark enrolled in Kwantlen’s Fashion Design and Technology degree program. After a year, she realized design wasn’t for her. She took a year off and then went into fashion marketing and eventually the public relations program at BCIT.
“A short-term goal of mine would be doing public relations for Holt Renfrew. That’d be amazing,” she said.
A few of her favourite designers are Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld and Carolina Herrera. Her favourite local spots for shopping are Zara, Browns and Holt Renfrew. Lovenmark describes her style as “constantly changing.”
She claims to have two alter-egos when it comes to her fashion sense. One resembles her blog: more frivolous, sparkly and fun. The other is her more casual everyday look, with tailored jackets and ties.
“I really love androgynous clothing. I just really like men’s apparel, it’s got more structure to it and it’s a more thoughtful design.”
She claims her guilty pleasures are donuts and shoes. As a proud owner of more than a hundred pairs of shoes, she says, “I have a weakness for expensive shoes, but I also have a knack for finding designer shoes on sale.”
But lately her wallet has been given a break from the designer brands.
“I’ve been very fortunate lately to receive free clothes because of my blog. They see me talking about their brand and send me clothes to help promote their label, by blogging about their clothing and advertising for them,” she said.
She’s had her blog for two years and she’s been receiving clothes from a number of designers for about a year.
“It’s about building experiences. I worked for Guess by Marciano and by working for that brand or other brands, it really builds your credibility and people start to notice that and want you to wear their clothing, too,” she said.
Lovenmark blogs about everything fashion-related — what she wears, what’s in style, events she attends and people in the fashion industry she meets.
One of the biggest fashion faux pas, in her opinion, is when women show too much skin.
“I think that girls should cover up more, and leave a bit more to the imagination,” she said. “You can still look sexy and fashionable without showing too much.”
Lovenmark is a big believer in the power of social media to help build a personal brand.
“Social media is the new way of communicating; it’s here to stay. I was listening to this speaker earlier this week who describes social media as a cultural shift and I think that’s so spot on. As a blogger, your whole life is on social media, on Facebook, Twitter and your blog,” she said.
The key to being successful is being able to meet people in the industry and network through social media, she said.
“It’s a free platform to express yourself and kind of brand yourself as an expert in your field, I don’t have the capital behind me to start my own business, but with my blog I can show off what I do and people can find me and see what I’m about,” she said.
One of the biggest perks of her fashion blog are that it has opened the door to meeting other interesting people in the field.
“One of the best highlights for me is having the opportunity to meet so many cool people. I’ve been able to meet Judy Becker, Lisa Tant of Flare Magazine and Adrian Mainella from Fashion File. Being able to meet these people and talk to them, when I’ve looked up to them for so long, is an amazing experience, whether they’ve seen my blog or not,” she said.
Armani Exchange has just opened a new store in Oakridge and, of course, Lovenmark is going to be at the grand opening.
“They dressed me for it, so I’m going to wear Armani and promote the brand,” she said. “I really like working tandem with brands like that. For them, it’s good to have someone wearing their brand who blogs about it all the time and, of course, I like it because it builds my credibility. It shows that I’m working with established brands.”
Of all the opportunities Lovenmark has had available to her in the fashion industry, she said it’s all because of Style Struck.
Kwantlen’s brass ensemble played pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi and others as part of Music at Midweek, on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at Kwantlen’s Langley campus.
The ensemble — four trumpets, two French horns, two trombones and a tuba — had been preparing for the performance since September under conductor Thomas Shorthouse, principal trumpet with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.
“He, being a trumpet player, he’s the trumpet teacher, so any trumpet players here get one-on-one lessons with him,” said Adam Junk, one of the four trumpeters.
Junk wrote an arrangement specifically for the performance, called Papa Tom’s Pizzeria. The piece featured excerpts from the Godfather theme and other Italian-flavoured songs.
The free show was part of the Music at Midweek series of musical performances put together by Kwantlen’s music department. Each Wednesday, until the end of the semester, a different ensemble performs for about 45 minutes in Kwantlen Langley’s auditorium at 12:15 p.m.
Some audio excerpts from Wednesday’s performance:
Grand March from Aida by G. Verdi, arranged by K. Snell
Symphony #7, 2nd movement by L. van Beethoven, arrangement by R. Larden
Queen of the Night Aria by W.A. Mozart, arranged by T. Shorthouse
Papa Tom’s Pizzeria, featuring excerpts from traditional Italian songs and the Godfather theme, arranged by A. Junk
Ever since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, people have been tuned into the world of contemporary poetry after Shane Koyczan’s “We Are More” performance. Kwantlen Student Mark Funston isn’t a slam poet, but his work is like Koyczan’s in that its author’s voice breathes it to life.
Sonic poetry is the name Funston uses for his work, and it is phonetically charged with both old and new style. By playing with classical poetic forms, with rigid rhyme schemes and structures, he is able to add an extra layer to his work.
Funston has completed his minor in creative writing at Kwantlen, but is not considering launching a career as a professional poet.
On Oct. 28, Kwantlen students and staff gathered in the Richmond campus rotunda for a THIRSTday Halloween costume contest. Hayley Woodin and Jeffrey Yip document the fifth annual spooky fashion show through video and photos.