Saturday, 19 January 2019

a Sun Sun rising

Heart Lake Road runs through Brampton/Caledon,
almost halfway to Orangeville.
By tonight it will be a foot deep with snow,
far cry from the slush and soot of
downtown's westside social scene in the Big City.
Yet, here in this rolling paradise of foggy fields,
one of Toronto's most brilliant and exciting creative personalities
has taken root in the fertile soil tilled by the 88 Days of Fortune collective
currently known as Fortune Bookings and Heart Lake Records (who release the music of Yasmine, Witch Prophet and Above Top Secret),
Francesca "Sun Sun" Nocera; composer, creator, designer, performer.
Tonight, Jan. 19th (730 doors 8pm show),
as part of the Emergents II series,
at the Music Gallery's new 918 Bathurst performance space,
followed by April (of Hooded Fang and Phedre) Aliermo's equally anticipated Artemis of Colour 
(itself a multimedia set featuring "audio-responsive visuals
by Sahar Homami, performed "live" by Kat Estacio.);
Sun Sun presents a new and immersive piece for electronics,
projected visuals, and echoing voice,
offering a deeper gaze into the sound of the producer behind the music of Above Top Secret and Abstract Random,
into the visions of bold, dancing lines and colours that shimmer through and swirl about the video clips and live stage shows
that Sun Sun has contributed to over the years,
to the handmade clothing Nocera produces as sunsuncreative,
the Cosmic Cards divination deck she's designed, the countless beats and drawings, sessions and collaborations.
Echoes of the Queen West scene of the 80s, in which, punk, dub, and pop acts lived side by side,
Words spoken on the stage and the page,
of intersectional unity and community,
of musicians who could not or would not separate practice from politics, performance from art.
Echoes of womxn's voices, looping.

All this to say fuck the snow, if you're not going to a bday party or playing a gig yourself tonight, do yourself a favour and get tickets
(online at
a classy date night move and a steal at 12$ 

Culture, like brunch, birthdays, and other weekend get-togethers, persists despite the weather.
There is too much at stake, and too much happening these days, a fresh, healthy wave of talent rolls across the city, from Scarborough, Vaughan, and Eglington,
all the way down to the shores of Leslieville, Porter, and Parkdale.
A new generation of musical heavyweights, working to make the Toronto scene ever more representative 
of the strengths and beauties, the diversity and dignity
of the people of the city we live in.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tigerwing at Smiling Buddha Dec 17

So for the show tonight, whats your setup like?

I’m always adding and taking away elements to the live shows.  I think there’s sometimes pressure to make it look like I’m actually doing something more on stage but fuck that, if I’m spending all my waking hours 
(and sometimes dreaming hours) on this music, I’m going to push buttons and perform it how I want and don’t need to hold an instrument to communicate that.
When I do add a new piece of gear it doesn’t last long.  I’ve had drum machines, synths, various pedals and it either gets "misplaced" by Via Rail or I lose interest after a few shows.  I prefer to have my whole set up fit in two bags.  That includes the flood lights I bring to every show because sad bar lighting isn't always the most inspiring or flattering.

Upcoming shows: 
Dec 10 at handlebar
Dec. 17 at Smiling Buddha

Recent recording and collaborations

I’ve mostly been working on writing/producing a lot and making music that I actually wanna listen to and perform for people because there can be such a difference.  Before I felt like I was almost making tracks as art pieces, more poetic, which is great-music can and should offer that too, but I felt a disconnect between what I want to listen to and what I was actually outputting.  I liked the idea of the music more than the music itself and reconciling that is an ongoing process.
Collaborations-  I haven’t had many this year/ been about some necessary tunnel vision.  I’ve been looking to do a lot of visual collabs with photography or video lately; there are a handful of video treatments I’ve been mulling over for unreleased tracks that I would ideally bring other people in on to enrichen that creative process.  

Bands/music youre excited about

First of all, there will always be so much great music coming out of the city- notably, A l l i e’s new album, “Nightshade” is really special.  She made an album where you don’t want to skip any of the songs?!  And there’s more to discover with each listen.  Total magic. 

A lot of UK artists have been grabbing my attention; there’s Miink who only have one track released- “Who Are You”.  It’s probably my favourite thing I’ve heard all fall and I keep checking back to see if they’ve put out more but the mystery and the wait is even more exciting.
I just heard Col3trane’s new tape and was totally blown away. Been on repeat.  Also Coucou Chloe. She has that sexy ugly noise thing happening which I am ALL about.

Food/beverages you’re excited about

I’ve been hitting the canned Moscow mules pretty hard all fall, which is funny because I don’t even like the real thing.…lately I can’t find them at any LCBO’s though and I’ve had multiple staff be like want me to call some other stores to see?  
That feels a little extra so I haven’t taken them up on the offer.

How toronto feels this fall/winter

It finally feels appropriately cold for faux fur and dramatic layering so I'm okay with it.  Winter is such a rich time for making art because it's always dark and there's less reason to go out and be social which means you can kind of stay in an uninterrupted dream state.  It also means less FOMO when you want to stay in and work on shit because who can blame you for that when it's negative double digits and it takes twice as long to get anywhere.  Like, see ya in May.

How has moving/life changed/affected tour music making in the past year?

Like a lot of Toronto residents, I’m on my like third home in three months and am finally getting to the point where it’s like …maybe I can unpack these boxes and chill out for a bit?
I spent the past two years feeling pretty isolated and consumed by grad school and it really wore me down so I’m honestly just getting back on my feet in every sense- especially with music.  
That intense academic experience was rewarding in some ways and I’ll always have that side to me but by the end of the two years I lost all concept of why I was doing everything and forgot that any of this was supposed to be fun.  So I’m ISO fun while also being more of a hermit than I’ve ever been because I’m excited by what I’m working on.

 photos by Gabrielle Smith

Thursday, 14 September 2017

ROTARY DIAL: Tonight at the Piston!

On Sep 8, 2017 9:01 AM, "Rotary Dial" <> wrote:
Sorry this took so long! 

1 whats fun in toronto?
Playing loud music with friends. Alternatively, staying home and playing videogames.

Rotary Dial!  Come see us at the Piston Sept 14 and we guarantee you'll have fun.

Fun was outlawed in the '20s.

I'm partial to long walks late at night around the city because there's always something going on, but it didn't really get hot enough this year. So... I'd say checking out new businesses, there's always a new brewery, or a restaurant, or a new vintage clothing place... Gotta take it all in before fun is outlawed again, like in the 20s.

2 what time is your set on sept 14?
10:30 ish? We're trying this new thing where we don't make people stay up until an ungodly hour to see us, so even though I believe we're last, the show is starting relatively early.

3 what bands are u totally into rn?
Monarch is a great Toronto band that has recently resurfaced after cloistering themselves for a recording project. Had the pleasure of sharing a bill with them with my other band at TO Lounge last month and my face was melted clean off. 

The War on Drugs, The War on Drugs and The War on Drugs. 

Skinny Puppy and Anne Murray.

I have recently (within the last few years) discovered that my favourite album is Key Lime Pie by Camper Van Beethoven, but as for recent and more relevance I was really, really into the set that The Rathburns did at our video release party.

4 whats fun on tv?
Youtube videos of children falling over. 

Video games?  They are on my TV. 

The Office is fun.

Like Florendo, I also usually turn my TV on for YouTube, and I've been really into all the media that the McElroy brothers make. They've done a few podcasts that I love and made a TV show and also have some nerdy gaming YouTube channels. 

5 dietary restictions for the band?
Stomach elasticity?

Some, but we make it work.

There isn't a food Florendo will not conquer.

Wait, are we getting taken out for dinner? But really... You won't find me in a steakhouse I guess.

6 future tour plans?
We're looking to head out East in the foreseeable future. Stay tuned!

7 where / hiw can we pick up your new album?
Talk to us after a show! Also, we're on Bandcamp and that's the best way to support us.
We're also on all the streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music so you can check us out there anytime!

8 best movie u saw this summer 
"We Are the Best!" A Swedish indie movie about a bunch of 13 year old girls starting a punk band in the 80s. Wasn't released this summer but I just watched it then.

Baby Driver. Absolutely brilliant. Big Edgar Wright fan. 

Naked Fist

I don't know if this counts but this summer I finally watched The Room and it changed me.

9 favourite restaurants 
TO Lounge, Skyline, The Steady, Banh Mi Boys, and admittedly A&W. 

As a band we tend to end up at Disgraceland. 

Anything owned by Cara Operations. 

I'm really into weekend brunch at D-Beatstro.

10 fave beverage
Depending on my mood, beer, whisky, and Tahitian Treat.

I'm a beer guy.  Anything but Coors Banquet.

Beer-fee. Cof-eer.

Before I sing on stage: double whiskey, neat. During rehearsals: literally any kind of beer. If I'm out and feeling fancy: Old Fashioned.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Mercy Now album release tonight @ the Horseshoe

Announcing, this friday August 18, @ the Horseshoe Tavern....

A roots rock and heavy soul
double release show featuring

The Mercy Now
Rooftop Love Club

The Two Times
and The Electric Spoonful

“I should have brought my daughter!”
Russel Fernandes is waiting for me on Queen west at my
 weekly Mixtape party. I am 42 minutes late and have found a vcr along the way. For some reason i think of Nicole and our third date, slam dancing to the Mercy Now at the El Mocambo, just like my aunt Fiona would have done at the Ramones, except she would have knocked over a table. This is the buzz old timers told me reminded them of mescaline, that noise in the boxcar sized room of a bar formerly known as Not My Dog. These are the kind of hijinx we used to get up to, in the beginnings of the Signal. It was on the back patio that Russ insisted these were “the good old days”. He was married then, and his daughter barely toddling. His wife Tanya tended bar at NMD, and they`d run the scruffy little dive for a few years by the time i wandered in, chasing dreams in some shadow of downtown Weeniepeg, of HaMiltown, or Sault Ste Murray. Sometimes, when i see Russ play with the Mercy Now , i smash a tambourine against my hand until it hurts. I bounce around the floor saying  Hello Toronto, do u wanna dance?

Are u here tonight to rock some soul tunes and exhaust yourself in sweaty fumes of bliss and kicking off that stress to some angry rhythm and blues? 

“We're less angry now.” Russ assures me. 

Because of You is the fresh single by the band off their new, self titled album, the first release in six years. It features Russ` trademark vocals and visceral bass work, both of them raspy and relentless.  The textures are clear and crisp on this self produced LP,  with drummer Lee Rogers providing airy, swinging grooves and precision fills, and Dave Kirton deftly handling all guitar parts. 

27 hours later I find Russ near the bar at the TO Lounge, full of rage and hot to jam. What are the themes of this album? I ask him. “Rascism, death, and parenthood. We're all Dads now.”

The piano from Not My Dog can be found at the Skyline Restaurant where i work. Children come and touch it, a tactile relic of the history that their very prescence is overtaking. Parkdale is changing? Parkdale is change itself. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

This is Not She at Toronto Fringe Festival

Julia Haist is a playwright, performer and director based in Toronto. She made her creative debut at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2013, writing, directing and performing in Slumgum & Quaqua’s Give Up the Ghost. She most recently directed Or Not to Be by Andrew Batten at Alumnae Theatre.

Hi Sam! 

Hi Julia,

So tell me a  little bit about this play. Your character, Maura, is an english teacher trying to teach Shakespeare while under various pressures. Where does this character come from?


I was inspired to write This is Not She by my mother, who taught high school English for over thirty years. I witnessed both the rewards and challenges, the struggle for teachers to attain adequate resources for their students, the prevalence of teacher strikes and work-to-rule campaigns, as well as the job itself, educating and connecting with people who don’t always want to engage. I realized this would provide the perfect environment for a character at the end of her rope, fighting to maintain control while her personal life is in a state of turmoil.


What kind of a breakdown does your character go through during the show?


So I'm not sure how much I can say about the "breakdown" without spoilers; A lot of her struggle comes from how the events that have happened to her recently affect the way she's seen by others, and this class in particular is a sort of stand she's making,  that she won't be defined by what's happened.

Whether or not she succeeds in maintaining her professionalism and identity is the main crux of the show, and on some level, that's for the audience to decide. 


Why did you pick this particular Shakespearean piece, Troillus and Cressida, to integrate into your script?


It's a strange, obscure play that no one seems quite sure how to categorize (comedy, drama, satire etc.) but happens to somewhat mirror the situation Maura is in and shares a ton of themes, like infidelity, war, love, morality and such. 

Originally I looked into Troilus and Cressida because I was looking for a play that audiences wouldn't know very intimately, so that I could teach the themes of the show and tie it in with the events of this class without the audience bringing their own defined ideas of what the play's about. Every time I bring up Troilus and Cressida, which I looked into because I knew basically nothing about it, practically everyone (including my English teacher Mum) says "oh yeah... I don't really know anything about that play."


As writer and performer, how do you manage the dynamics of interacting with the audience both as classroom and theatre-goers?


Managing the dynamic was actually a huge challenge; the character is going through a hard time and sometimes isn't the most friendly or attentive person; once I started doing this in front of people, we realized that that dynamic is troublesome because we are asking a lot of the audience.  That was a balance we had to find and that I continue figuring out. But the audiences we've had have been very generous and even if they don't start out totally enthusiastic about the participatory elements, they seem to quickly realize that they know how to do this; they've been in a classroom before, and they become excited to participate! 

This is Not She is an interactive solo show written and performed by Julia Haist that explores the relationship between teacher and student, taking dark and unexpected turns along the way. Audience members can expect to read from one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, Troilus and Cressida, share their own thoughts on love and war, and get to know their teacher far more intimately than anyone anticipated, including the teacher herself.

The Simian Assembly is comprised of Playwright/Performer Julia Haist and Director/Dramaturg Taylor Marie Graham for the purpose of bringing This is Not She to the stage. After directing Graham’s script Cottage Radio at the 2015 Fireworks Festival at Alumnae Theatre in Toronto, Haist brought her idea for a solo show centred around an English teacher to Graham, who is herself an English professor at Sheridan College in Toronto. The two continued developing This is Not She over the next year all the way to its world premiere at the 2017 Montreal Fringe festival.

Taylor Marie Graham (Director, Dramaturg) is a writer, director, producer, and educator living in Toronto. Taylor is the recipient of the George Ryga Award for Excellence in Playwriting from York University. In 2016, celebrated playwright Judith Thompson named Taylor as the up and coming playwright to watch in Playwrights Guild of Canada’s The Playwright Applause campaign. Her opera The Virgin Charlie was nominated in 2008 for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera / Musical.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Wild, Wooly, and Wonderful: tales of “pre-gentrification” Parkdale

A was for ART PARTY.
We were likely a headache to the old staff at the Dog and the Sister. Scraps of paper from collaged flyers for ill-attended concerts were inevitably strewn about their establishment floors whenever more than a few of us were congregated. We called ourselves an artists collective but maybe we were just a confetti factory.

B was for BLOB
A social grouping including everyone to whom you are related, all those with whom you have played in a band, and anyone with whom you have swapped spit

C was for CULT
This was not an art-cult. Nobody was being coerced into abandoning their family or socio-financial potential in favour of bohemian splendour and seedy grandeur. There was no mayor of IMAGINATION TOWN

An obscure and inefficient method of street promotion that appropriates real estate news boxes and the like to create dusty, ephemeral, and mostly invisible public art, whose commercial ineffectiveness is both critique of and tribute to the culture of advertising it subverts

E is for ERIN
To whom the first half of the DILLA-PLATH album was demoed and whom the second half aimed to impress

F is for FUN IS BACK

An oft employed slogan of JOHNNY AWESOME, WE ARE FRENCH, and other blob affiliates, originally c. 2008

A band whose drum chair was once abandoned for Oh Henry $, denied me, granted upon DAWN LEWIS, and for whom I implemented the first “cargo-cult” style merch table at SNEAKY DEES

H is for HIGH PARK
Across from McKENZIES PUB, the saturday afternoon open mic of which marks the first meeting of myself and Mr “Mischeif” McGoey.

Who played blues on the steps of NOT MY DOG until he came of age, who stayed up all night before his drivers test listening to Milli Vanilli on the boombox. That guy.

One quiet night at the LABYRINTH open mic, I met this convivial and powerful man. I told him I needed backbeats and he said he likes the Band. He held the RETRO RADIO drum chair hence.

Who slept on my couch and dreamed up his set list for the only ever live show by GARLIC FLAVOUR. Who proclaimed “my best friend is white” and Yank the chain, flush the bullshit down the drain”

My cousin's cousin's old band, under whose influence i have attempted to dislocate both my shoulders, and there was that time at the CADILLAC when i stripped off my outer pants while grinding to their grooves.

M is for MIP
Notwithstanding my own sister, the blobber whom i have known the longest, currently on a west coast summer tour. Loud, proud, and powerful. Esp. stoked for u to play Lop Lops.

In 2008 several Blobsters performed at the MnB Yummy Ethiopian restaurant, and held the first and only “Boxasaurus Parade”, led by person or persons wearing a paper mache dinosaur head and causing a lot of silly noise, even by NB standards

O is for OPEN MIC
A traditional gathering held by musicians, poets, and sometimes standup comediannes, a sort of musical potluck occuring usually at a local watering hole on an off night and featuring a wide range of performances, random collaborations, often birthing bands

Anna Mernieks (now with BEAMS) and Katie Plant (now married) started a two piece rock band in high school. Their dance crew was straight clowning, they killed it at Wawapalooza

Q is for QUINCEY JONES, who spoke at the memorial for Oscar Peterson at Roy Thompson hall almost ten years ago, which is a decent entryway into the whole Miles Davis sidebar...

Land of baby strollers and green grocers. Also a good place to run into Damon from the Muckabouts. Clearly above Parkdale on the social ranking because the name of the street is more easily mispronounced

One of many attempts to descibe and/or pidgeonhole the various and ferociously un-pidgeonhole-able musical offerings of Toronto's downtown westside

T is for TIA BRAZDA who, let's face it, got me as close to Drake as I'll ever get:

U is for the UNFAMOUS
The state of being well-known and easily identified only within one's own social sphere

Dan Burke`s club on Queen where one picturesquely rainy night RETRO RADIO played an all-boombox set and i burned a hole thru my cool shirt with a cigarette(the rain saved me)

W is for WAF and thereby also WARREN MCGOEY, who is an unprincipled genius and ought to be stopped, and who discovered the Garrison back before it was the Garrison.

X is for BLOB X, which, aside from the BLOBMAS XMAS 2009 offering, was the tenth and final compilation release by T. Babinski of underground Parkdale bands on compact disc

Y is for YARDWORK, a band inspired in the way of Sonic Youth and Deerhoof and featuring our pal Christine. Had a dream about you bud, where are you now?

Z is for ZE. It sounds just like he or she but denotes no specific gender and sidesteps the potential plurality of “they”. Dont be a stick in the mud. Be respectful and open-minded

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

150 degrees of pride (part one)

Fuck me canada, you dont look a day over 100

Fuck you Parkdale, you just lost the dog and mezzrows in less than a year

Fuck me Beardonce, u were amaze last wknd

Fuck you John Mayer, ur a dick and a white supremacist

Fuck me Drake, 25 simultaneous billboard hits?

Fuck you Dre, cowardly dr

Fuck me TO Loungers, u have called for the grimy rock, and we shall bring u weekly mixtapes, starting up again tuesdays in august

Fuck you Church. Unmarked children's graves in your yard are still unrepented

Fuck me Sweaterpants, nice work at TO Lounge, catch Mark Watts and the gang every Tuesday in July🍸🎶🎸🍻

Fuck you Cosby. Let's have a cypher, ill tear your weak words apart

Fuck me Trudy. U got some backbone now but still sound unsure in the house.

Fuck you Gomeshi. We won't forget.

Fuck me Brandon. Doctor Decters throwing down some solid modernist ish. B would prolly mention Malevich

Fuck you TTC. More security and worse service. “ride the rocket” i guess they never said “friendly skies”

Fuck me Pride, u sure do know how to party

Fuck you Oliver Stone, you`re not edgy, just self-centered and ignorant

Fuck me Toronto, u look beautiful this summer

Fuck u America. Choose healing, choose life. Stop clinging to an old fake copy of Time Magazine for dear life. Face truth.