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.
“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.
“claing-sh-eye-bin. clang-sch-high-ben,” i stumble over the words, trying to tell a friend the name of the german record label i’ve been writing for. behind me, i can hear thomas baz, the label’s founder, laughing. “was that wrong?” i venture another attempt at the pronunciation, “klang-schybbin!” not even close. i met thomas last summer at toronto’s sound in motion festival. we became fast friends, and have long been supporters of one another’s work; him of mine under little city, me of his as demas and under the klangscheiben label.
thomas has been in town since last week, ahead of his gig playing as demas alongside swack and alicia hush at this year’s mutek festival (em15), but the magic is only about to begin. the rest of the family under his label — sebastian albrecht, marlene magnoli, and florist — flew in from berlin a week later. having been booked at a number of different events around toronto, montreal, and quebec city by their friends and sisterlabel hushlamb, the klangscheiben crew is set for a musical invasion. this saturday will see the entire roster take the stage on the rooftop of the societe des arts technologiques (SAT), an event put together by hushlamb. the festivities (which technically begin at tonight’s side by side event with mike shannon at bleury bar a vinyle) will continue on until sunday evening at piknic electronik, where hushlamb has its own stage.
it’s a rainy wednesday evening, and i meet up with thomas, marlene, sebastian, florist, and marlene’s boyfriend manuel at bethlehem xxx in little italy. over drinks, we get to talking about the music scene in canada. the group tosses names around — mike shannon, akufen, deadbeat, pheek — and the distance between canada and germany gets smaller. they talk about the kinds of parties they host or play at, the oversaturation of the scene in berlin, and the kind of music they want to show the world. for a second, i forget we’re from different cities; it all sounds so familiar. so much so that i almost forget to turn on the voice recorder.
i want to talk about the label. i don’t wanna say the name though because thomas laughed at me when i said it wrong the other day.
thomas baz: [laughs] it’s pronounced “kleng-scheibenn.”
TB: better! [laughs] i founded the label in 2004, so it’s ten years old this year. i wanted to have a label behind my dj name to play gigs. in 2006, i started to release stuff — first only net releases, then digital, then physical.
flori jansen: thomas even inspired me to do also my own label with sebastian called park recordings! the music is similar. we are also trying to sign acts that thomas doesn’t have on his label, so we are always pushing to find new music.
sebastian albrecht: we’re trying to be “elite” with our music. not elite, but…we are trying to always get quality music, just like thomas.