a little over seven years ago, i sat in the backseat of my parents’ car, listening to “wide open spaces” by the dixie chicks on repeat, and crying as they drove me from my native toronto to montreal for university. i had spent the previous night having what i would later describe as enlightened moments with my best friends and my high school boyfriend — we had watched the sunrise from the top of the playground at my elementary school. the whole memory has a kind of a rose coloured glow. at the time, i didn’t think it was possible for anything to ever mean more to me than those moments with those friends. when i finally arrived in montreal, i cried for two days straight.
my first couple years here were spent at concordia, and i took on a life that involved frosh week, thirsty thursdays, beerfest, and st patrick’s day, the epitome of a university student. i loved every minute of it. but it wasn’t until i became immersed in the local music scene that i started to really understand montreal, and it wasn’t long before i felt like montreal understood me. i started going out to shows and concerts and having what i would later describe as enlightened moments on the dancefloor.
“we both love going out, meeting new people, new trends, music, and new concepts,” sarah-marie and florent tell me of their new events venture, bolting bits collectif. “we studied in different cities — paris, london, bordeaux — and these cities have really influenced us. we wanted to establish bolting bits by keeping in mind the collaborative cultural models of our favourite venues around the world.” inspired by events like saturday nights aboard the i.boat in bordeaux, which boasts a terrasse, art exhibitions, a bassin-a-flot, and a party in the ship’s hold, florent and sarah-marie hope to bring a similar sense of mix-and-match to their collective’s events. bolting bits will host not only DJ performances, but visuals, mixtapes, and videos. “we want to offer different activities, different media,” they explain, “we want this project to be 360°.”
i have a strange relationship with osheaga. this is my seventh year taking to montreal’s parc jean drapeau for the three day music and arts festival. you might say i’m a veteran. you might also say i have not ever learned my lesson. true, i know how to come prepared, dress for the weather, sneak in booze, and maneuver through the crowd, but i have not yet learned how to party in such a way that i don’t hate myself for the entire week following the festival. maybe some things are just unavoidable.
this year, like last year, i spent most of july shrugging that i was “not even that excited for osheaga” (that didn’t stop me from spending a whopping $250 on the full weekend pass), but i always change my mind when i arrive on site. i have a pretty well documented love of music festivals, but there’s something special about osheaga — sun shining, with my friends, in the city that taught me how to love music. the weekend was definitely not without its lows, though, so my coverage this year will cover both.
“i used to be a makeup artist.”
“i’ve been doing rodeo on broncos since i was 17.”
“When did you get the most scared on a horse?”
“last year. i fell down and the horse stomped on me. but it didn’t stop me from riding.”
“god asked me to be a pope.
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.