by now you’ve undoubtedly heard of humans of new york, the photography blog that has quite literally taken the world by storm. through his matter of fact photos and the simple, poignant quotes that go along with them, brandon stanton has captured hearts both with his camera, and with his unique blog, a mix of street style and story telling. HONY has inspired dozens of like-minded blogs and communities around the world from berlin, leuvan and paris to islamabad, tehran, brisbane, and karachi — it’s more than likely that you’ll find a version of the “humans of” concept in your own city. such is how i came upon portraits de montreal, the version montrealaise of humans of new york run by thibault carron, samuel rocheleau, and mikael theimer.
“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 hadn’t planned on writing anything about my trip to worldpride last weekend, intending to let the photos speak for themselves (read: i am lazy). but about halfway through the dyke march, i knew i wanted to put the experience into words, already conjuring up the right ones to describe the weekend. magic, however mushy and sentimental, came up more than once, and not just from me (the queen of wordly mush and sentiment). the dyke march was particularly special — throngs of smiling people taking photos, cheering, and throwing confetti, and that was just the spectators. the march itself was thousands strong, and everyone was dancing, singing, cheering, sweating, hugging, sweating, more sweating. i could have burst with pride, not just for my friends, but for everyone, and that emotion was echoed in every single person. there was a lot of love in toronto last weekend.
i read a feature about singer/songwriter tinashe kachingwe in dazed the other week. she’s a self made girl — started from the bottom, or whatever that horrendous expression is that drake did not make up but that people attribute to him — and the article talks a lot about her roots, and her rise to fame. when she made that hard as nails video for “boss” from her debut mixtape in case we die, she, her father and her manager filmed and edited and produced the entire thing. a lot has changed for tinashe in a short while: she’s really blown up, but it seems she’s taking it all in stride. that’s what it means to start from the bottom.
“where did everybody get donuts?” i wonder aloud to the other loner flying solo at al lafrance’s one-man show, the quitter. the guy doesn’t hear me, or pretends not to. it’s quiet save for the sam cooke track playing in the small show room at montreal’s improv theatre. i sit down, watching everyone around me chew their honey cruellers and boston cremes. “could go for an old fashioned plain about now,” i think, this time to myself. eventually it dawns on me that the donuts are a nod to the show’s tagline “an all true tale of donuts, mini-golf, and cannibalism.” even the sam cooke track, “that’s it, i quit,” is a clever reference to the show’s theme of life lessons, relationships, and giving up.