Thursday, 24 January 2013

... And Then Life Happens

I am a person who likes to plan things. I guess that's why I like being an event planner. I like having things planned out in order for me to feel comfortable. When something unexpected comes up, it steers me off course. Usually, I can bounce back quickly but it still throws me off my game temporarily.

Some things you just can't plan for. Something unexpected, like death.

Most times, we take life for granted. I am one of these people too, I admit it. However, nothing puts things in perspective like losing a friend.

So this week-end, I will not be going to the Ellie Goulding show as planned. I will be flying home to the Maritimes and attending my friend's funeral. And the next time I see my loved ones, I'm going to hold them tightly and tell them I love them.

Rest in peace. See you on the other side, buddy.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Preview: Ellie Goulding @ Metropolis

This Saturday, I will be heading to Montreal to check out the lovely Ellie Goulding at the Metropolis. At this point, you all know how much I adore the Metropolis. It is, hands down, my favourite concert venue! I'm really excited to see Ms. Goulding live, especially since the release of her sophomore album "Halcyon", which I really enjoyed.

Two weeks ago, I was a bit surprised to find out that the show is now sold out! That's great news for Ms. Goulding and for the Metropolis. However, yours truly will now have to attend the show solo, seeing as there are no tickets left for my partner-in-crime. However, I'm excited for the show, and I vowed last year to start doing things I enjoy on my own.

I've heard great things about the opening act, St. Lucia. I'm looking forward to checking him out. Although I never have high expectations for opening acts, I have high hopes for this one.

I will be writing a review of the show for Sors-tu, so be sure to check out my review on Sunday. In the meantime, you should check out the site to see what's coming up in the Montreal area.

Have a listen below to "Don't Say a Word", the first track of "Halcyon". It is one of many great songs on the album. Enjoy!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Enjoy the Silence

Yesterday was a busy day at work. Out of all the things on my to-do list that morning, I had to take 90 minutes off in order to supervise students during a test.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with this responsibility, since I had tons on my plate that I needed to get done. This task was going to prevent from being productive for that period of time. However, another reason I was dreading this responsibility is that I couldn't imagine being in a quiet room, with absolutely nothing to do! I would go insane... 90 minutes is a long time!

That morning, I came prepared for my supervising task. I brought two magazines and my iPod. I hadn't touched my magazines in a while, so I thought this would be a good time to dust them off and actually finish reading them. I was also thinking that my iPod might keep me from going crazy while the students wrote their test.

Here's the thing: my headphones are not exactly soundproof. If you're standing next to me while I'm listening to my iPod, you can hear the music. Seeing as we were in a really small room, and there was only two students writing the test, it was REALLY quiet! So as a sign of respect for the students, I decided not to listen to my iPod at all.

I thought to myself: "Great. This is going to be the longest 90 minutes of my life". However, as I began reading my Yoga Journal magazines, the quiet didn't bother me. I actually liked it. I began to enjoy the silence and I became very, very relaxed. It was actually nice to take time and zone out, and give my mind a break. After a crazy week at work, I feel like I needed a 90 minutes of silence.

This completely surprised me but I am thrilled that I got a little break yesterday morning. From now on, I'm definitely going to start embracing silence a lot more.

And wouldn't you know, "Enjoy the Silence" happens to be my favourite Depeche Mode song. You can check out the video below. Enjoy!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Preview: "Mirador" Album Launch

Tomorrow, Alexis Normand will be taking the stage at Club SAW at the official release party of "Mirador", her first LP.

Alexis Normand
The lovely singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan is a proud French Canadian, who's been hard at work playing music for many years. Finally, her debut album is ready to launch.  Normand's blend of jazz and folk is charming and her sound is refreshing.

For her album, Normand decided to collaborate with visual artist Zoé Fortier, in order to add layers to her artistic vision. The result of the collaboration not only includes an album but a series of paintings and multidisciplinary concert, which the lovely people of Ottawa will get to experience tomorrow evening.

The best part of this event? It's free! Also, it's early so you can get home at a reasonable hour, watch some prime time and go to bed. Nothing wrong with that!

I am really excited for this event and I am sincerely looking forward to seeing my old friend again. See you there!

I recently wrote a blog post on "Mirador" for Couch Assassin. You can check it out here.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Mirador Project Merges Music and Art

Originally published on Couch Assassin

Alexis Normand is a singer-songwriter from Saskatoon. She produces and composes a mix of jazz and folk music. Some have previously described her style as Norah Jones meets Joni Mitchell, with a splash of Stevie Wonder. "Mirador" is Normand's first LP and its national album release party is January 15. The album features ten new jazz-folk tracks, nine of which are in French, one in English. It was recorded in the heat of the student protests last spring in Montréal with producer Benoit Morier (who worked with artists like Chic Gamine, Theresa Sokyrka, and Geneviève Toupin).

"Mirador" is a dream come true for Normand, who spent many years studying and playing music. When she was young, Normand was enrolled in a music-for-tots class and her father worked as a DJ. Later on, she played around with the piano then she was enrolled in piano lessons. When Normand was in high school, she taught herself how to play the guitar using one of her father's old books of Beatles songs. "The first song I learnt was ‘Yellow Submarine’," said Normand. "After learning all the other songs in the book, I started writing my own. I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t play music."

After studying music and education at the University of Ottawa, Normand headed to Granby (Québec) to attend l’École nationale de la chanson in 2007 where she participated in an intensive 10-month crash course on the singer-songwriting career. The training included composition, lyric writing, studio work, history of francophone music, staging/interpretation, career management and various master classes, seminars and meetings with industry professionals and established artists and musicians. "My time in Granby helped me clearly understand just how badly I wanted to give song-writing a go as a career," explained Normand. "I had the time to nurture and fuel my ‘musical fire’ inside – a passion that drove me back to Saskatoon to begin this journey."

Back in 2008, while living in Saskatoon, Normand had a stroke of genius. "I thought to myself: 'Wouldn’t it be cool, when I have an album, to have a painting associated to each song?'” This idea stemmed from one of Normand's favourite classes at the University of Ottawa, which explored the similarities between different art forms.

In 2009, Normand approached Zoé Fortier, a Fransaskois visual artist, and shared her idea. Instead of commissioning Zoé to react to all her songs with a painting, both Normand and Fortier thought it would be more interesting to share the creative process. Together, Normand and Fortier explored physical and abstract locations inspired by the prairies to understand how these places may have shaped their identity. "One day, Zoé and I decided to spend an evening at the Lucky Horse Show Bingo," said Normand. "We took down notes and ideas, shared them and found a common idea, which became the starting point for the creative process."

In other instances, the creative process was fueled by shared experiences. Both Normand and Fortier's lives were affected by Alzheimer’s disease. "Zoé and I were both affected in our own way by the void or absence that is felt when a person forgets who they are, seeing as both our grandmothers were affected by Alzheimer’s. I speak of this in my song Grand-mère and Zoé in a series of small paintings entitled Alzheimer. "

The result of Normand and Fortier's collaboration is threefold: it includes an album, a series of paintings and a multidisciplinary concert. After the album was recorded, Normand started thinking of touring and promoting the album. Seeing as "Mirador" was an artistic collaboration, Normand could not imagine performing a live show without having Fortier involved. Normand explained that Zoé is included on stage during the show, just like any other musician, except that she manipulates video projections. "Zoé created images and animation to accompany the music in order to enhance the experience and allow the spectator to perceive the spaces described in the songs in a variety of ways," added Normand. "She manipulates these abstract flowing projections in real time with a tactile approach that includes traditional methods of animation, such as Chinese shadows, cut outs and various filters." In addition, a few of Fortier's prints will also be displayed in the room during the show.

Although most of her songs are in French, Normand makes an effort to speak English between songs in order to make the show bilingual, especially when the crowd is mostly bilingual/Anglophone. Booklets with the lyrics translated in English are available at shows so that people can follow along during the show or read through them before or after the show.

2012 was a big year for Normand. She traveled all across Canada to perform and even had the opportunity to perform in Whitehorse, Yukon. In addition, the Saskatchewan provincial government declared 2012 as the year of the Fransaskois, the first time any provincial government recognizes a minority-language community within the province. As a result, Radio-Canada teamed up with the Assemblée Communautaire Fransaskoise to hold a contest to find the theme song for the year's celebrations. Normand applied with a song she co-wrote with Shawn Jobin, a young, up and coming fransaskois hip hop artist - and the song was selected. "The song speaks of the close relationship that a person has to the landscape, horizon and land in Saskatchewan," explained Normand. "It is a spirit that lives on the prairies and finds its way into the souls of the people who inhabit them."

After all her hard work, it seems like the stars are aligning for Normand. You can check out her live show at the national release of "Mirador", taking place on January 15th at Club SAW (67 Nicholas Street), 5:30-7:30pm.

Reserve your spot by contacting as space is limited.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review: "Django Unchained"

I celebrated the arrival of 2013 with my husband and Quentin Tarantino on New Year's Eve. His latest film "Django Unchained" was released in theatres on Christmas day to the delight of Tarantino fans everywhere.

File:Django Unchained Poster.jpg
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The film stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. The film is set in the 1850s, a time where black slaves were sold to white folks to work on plantations in the Deep South. A bounty hunter (Waltz) recruits a black slave (Foxx) to help him find his targets, then decides to help his new friend rescue his wife (Washington), who has been sold to a rich plantation owner (DiCaprio). This film feels like a true western with a funny twist.

All the actors in this film did a phenomenal job. I'm not particularly a fan of Foxx but I must say that he did a great job in the lead role. I was cheering him on during the whole movie. Also, having never seen Waltz in a film before, I must admit that I was completely smitten with him. You cannot help but fall for his character. The dynamic between these two main characters is fantastic to watch. DiCaprio also delivers a very funny performance, as the flamboyant Monsieur Candie.

This film contains many elements that are Tarantino-centric, including an epic fight sequence, interesting camera angles, random tangents/dialogues, a long monologue by Samuel L. Jackson, and various cameos by the director himself.

I need to mention the soundtrack. The music in this film is fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised, especially when Tupac started playing during the main fight scene. I found it very fitting and totally badass. Another element of the film that I absolutely loved was the wardrobe, especially Django's outfits.

Overall, this movie is very entertaining and will definitely please Tarantino fans. Worth checking out!