2014 in songs

warm water” that you played through a portable speaker in the basket of your two-year-old bicycle, your last summer in montreal. volume turned way up, riding with two of your best friends — to work with the sun rising at your back, coffee in one hand, or to the bar at night, racing to beat the rain. you pretended you were in “now & then,” embodying every cliche: carefree, sun-kissed, singing at the top of your lungs without knowing the words. you played it at the park in the heat, in your stuffy apartment, on your computer at work, in the studio, and in the early morning when the three of you came home, sticky with sweat and laughter, from a night of partying under seventeen moons.

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speaker sessions 020 / lyli

lyl

i’ve never met lyli jordy in person. i’ve never heard her speak aside from picking up on her ghostly vocals in the productions featured on her soundcloud. we met in the way that seems typical of the music community – over the internet, earlier this summer when my good friend jackie spade pointed me in lyli’s direction, insisting that she has a “voice that needs to be heard.” i tucked into her soundcloud, devouring her every release from dripping, melting dub to complex microhouse or instrumentalized minimal thread through perfect, breathy vocal fragments. and though i’ve never heard it in person, i know for sure that lyli has a voice that, indeed, begs to be heard.

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featuring / ben nevile

ben nevile

ben nevile flies under the radar. although he regularly updates his soundcloud page with what seems like snippets of his musical musings, his profile is decidedly non-descript. he doesn’t have a facebook fan page, or a twitter account. his beatport profile is wiped clean of any telling information, and his biography on the telegraph records site – his home since he first started releasing music in 2001 – is a concise two paragraphs in length. if you take all of this to mean that ben’s artistry is equally as well-kept a secret in the industry, you are definitely mistaken.

it’s only been a couple weeks since local heroes hushlamb – made up of toronto natives sarah lamb and alicia hush – announced their third event, this time a nighttime follow-up to their under-the-sun jam earlier this summer. dubbed “motif local,” the party will host an incredible roster of canadian talent, including the likes of miss hush herself, magnanime, akufen, zeina, ana+one, diagraf on visuals, and of course, ben nevile. taking to the event’s facebook wall to voice their enthusiasm, everyone seems to be waiting on ben nevile. born in manitoba and bred in british columbia, ben makes detailed minimal and techno-influenced music grounded in his canadian roots; humble, organic, and genuine. it’s anything but elitist. ahead of this weekend’s festivities, i caught up with ben to talk keeping a low-profile, degrassi junior high, perfectionism, and what we can expect from the hushlamb motif local.

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september photo diary / and some things i’ve learned in berlin

one month ago, i packed up my entire life (and by that i mean i packed up 9 pairs of shoes, 7 pieces of outerwear, basically no clothing, and nothing else of use to me other than both my laptops, great job emma), hopped on a plane, and relocated to berlin, germany. it was scary. nothing anyone told me, and certainly nothing i told myself, prepared me in any way for the past four weeks. i’ve always published on littlecity in the name of full disclosure, so for better or for worse, here are some things i’ve learned about berlin.

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fabian rosas beckmann / exposition ephemere

rsz_fab

my first time visiting fabian rosas beckmann‘s apartment in montreal’s plateau, we had snuck off from an after party to go look at his art — including a piece he was gifting me after i had gushed it on facebook. to say that his apartment was filled with his art would be an understatement. every surface is literally covered in paintings. and not just walls — tables, counters, tops of shelves, corners; all stacked with paintings, planks of wood, and found objects that fabian has repurposed into his own unique canvases.

a mexican-born, montreal-based artist, singer, writer, photographer, and lyricist, fabian has produced over 200 pieces of work; some measuring more than 4 meters wide. if you asked me to describe his artistic style, the first word that comes to mind is “expression.” maybe that’s the obvious answer. maybe not. his paintings are multi-layered, wildly textural, capturing movement in fingerstrokes or freepoured paint so that the whole thing feels dynamic, engaging. each painting takes on a life of its own, abstract enough that it is read differently by everyone, but grounded enough that we all feel something when we look at it. he’s the kind of artist that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty: it might just be the secret to making his art so unsettlingly personal.

fabian and i play this game when we’re looking at his art. he asks me, “what do you see?” i always rattle off a peculiar anecdote or bizarre comparison, one that is sometimes different, sometimes identical to what fabian tells me when i ask him the same question. it’s like those children’s books — the ones with a pointillist image that when you squint at it a certain way, you see a sailboat? this hilarious but poignant conversation of “don’t you see it? right there?”

ahead of his debut solo exposition ephemere at montreal’s le saint jude tonight, we decided to recreate the game for this piece, where you’ll find five of fabian’s paintings, described by each of us. for more on fabian and his work, you can find him on instagram, or check out his expo tonight at 3988 st denis. he will also be hosting paintbending, a night of art-meets-music at lounge l’un et l’autre on october 11th, featuring sounds by swack, ana+one, zeina, daoust, M4CR0, alicia hush, and marc leveq.

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