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LAL, Kimmortal, Rae Spoon Album Release Victoria
August 15 @ 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Album launch for Rae Spoon’s new record Mental Health and celebration of the long-list Polaris nominations for Kimmortal’s X Marks the Swirl and LAL’s Dark Beings.
My name is Kimmortal. I am a queer non-binary philipinx artist based on unceded, unsurrendered Coast Salish Territories also known as Vancouver, BC (Canada). I went to school for Visual Arts and Art History and would hit up open mics and share poetry and raps on my guitar. My work has evolved since to incorporate song, poetry, rap, dance, and visuals. Some of the highlights of my work thus far have included: being featured on CBC Exhibitionists, having my music-video animation screened at the Queer Women of Colour festival (San fran), and performing at Kultura FIlipino Arts Festival (Toronto), SXSW 2018, Rifflandia 2018, Junofest 2018, acting in a hip hop theatre at the National Arts Centre. I also enjoy leading workshops that exhibit the arts as a tool for healing and decolonization and collective action. I have shared the stage with some of favourite artists including Ruby Ibarra, Saba, Shad K, and Saul Williams.
Dominionated Review for X Marks the Swirl
I find it humourously appropriate that the first few times I saw Vancouver MC Kimmortal’s given surname — Villagante — in print, I kept reading it as Vigilante. In the last number of years, Kimmortal has emerged as an unreserved advocate for diverse voices and cultures, embodying BC’s hip-hop, queer, and Filipinx communities in one remarkable package. Like Lido Pimienta further east in Ontario, Kimmortal is a fiercely independent artist redefining what it means to be Canadian.
Though fans who were eagerly awaiting X Marks the Swirl may have initially been disappointed by a January 2019 announcement stating its delayed release, hearing that both Kimmortal and the album had found a home with Rae Spoon’s COAX Records was a welcome silver lining. Under Spoon’s direction, COAX’s roster of indie musical vigilantes (including respectfulchild, Abigail Lapell, Lal, and Spoon themselves) has led the charge, challenging every preconceived music industry notion of what’s relevant and popular by giving underrepresented communities and individuals a platform from which to reach new audiences.
X Marks the Swirl is well worth the wait. In a word, it’s remarkable for its artistry, advocacy, and unwavering mission. Though ostensibly a debut if you’re unfamiliar with Kimmortal, for those who’ve followed her work, X Marks the Swirl feels like a reinvention. Right from the start, “Stars”, featuring local “femcees” JB the First Lady and Missy D, is a pop-star-making performance that’s both a celebration and declaration of personhood, purpose, and relevancy. “Stars” on its own is a fantastic album opener, but it’s made all the more poignant given that Kimmortal invites her two contemporaries to share the spotlight and attention right out of the gate. It is a living embodiment of the song’s message: no matter our outward differences, on a cellular level, each and every person is made up of the same universal elements, and each of us has a right to live our lives to the fullest potential.
Last year’s single “I’m Blue” reinforces Kimmortal’s message of self-love and self-worth. As she sings of unburdening herself from a dysfunctional, dependent relationship (“I’ve lost count of how many times I knew my yes was a no / I’m your clown out of habit, there is dust on my throne / For you I dropped my shit, just to hear you say hero”) a mantra emerges to banish the blues of solitude away: “You are not a burden baby. You are on purpose baby.” “Longing” is imbued with the genuine human desire to be loved and appreciated for who you are, acknowledging that the battle for self-love starts by fighting against society’s innate hatred and misunderstanding of the person you see yourself to be. “Sad Femme Club”, the beating heart and centre of X Marks the Swirl, crystallizes Kimmortal’s message and pulls no punches in its denouncement of toxic masculinity and the patriarchal double standard that sees strong, confident women characterized in all manner of negative stereotypes.
“Sad Femme Club” is a masterclass, unapologetically delivering its message with style and substance. It is indicative of X Marks the Swirl as a whole — an album that’s relevant, entertaining, artistic, and adventurous all at once. It’s the full package. There’s not a clunker among its eleven tracks and is among the most expertly rendered Canadian records in recent memory. X Marks the Swirl checks off all the boxes: artistic vision, musical production chops, lyrical relevancy, and sublime performances that are consistently on point. X Marks the Swirl is an album that transcends regional, cultural, or community appeal; its message is universally understood. We all are in the Swirl. Every one of us — queer, straight, cis, trans, rapper, rocker — with our own X to stand upon. It’s up to each of us to decide what kind of stand we will make: with our hands extended to our neighbours or raised in a fist.
LAL is Toronto-based duo featuring Rosina Kazi and producer Nicholas “Murr” Murray. Their genre crosses the boundaries of Hip-Hop, Electronica, Afrobeat and more. They stand in solidarity with their community, uplifting LGBTQ2S+ and POC people. Their mission is to build culture where we can challenge the norm.
For a group who typically wait between four and six years to release an album, Dark Beings, LAL’s followup to their 2016 LP Find Safety, almost feels like a surprise release.
In fact, the sixth LP from the Toronto duo benefits greatly from its swiftness, as Dark Beings picks up the energy, passion and inventiveness from its predecessor and totally sprints with it. Tracks like the moody, spacious electronic opener “Dark Beings” and the groovy, direct chanter “It Was to Be You” feel simultaneously conceptual and completely alien from one another.
But what makes songs like the industrious/industrial “Losing Myself” and the yearning “I Am Not Your Victim” sound so powerful lies in how the duo manage to come off so self-reflective. Vocalist Rosina Kazi delivers personal and socially political lyrics that deal with issues of identity, mental health and the degradation of the planet, while multi-instrumentalist Nicholas “Murr” Murray matches her thoughtful disposition with some of the most well-crafted, challenging and aurally pleasing beats this side of Warp Records.
Dark Beings is a triumph of an album, the best of LAL’s strong career, and hands-down one of the most introspective and aware albums of 2019. (Coax)
Rae Spoon is an award-winning non-binary musician and author. They have released ten solo albums spanning folk, indie rock and electronic genres and have toured across Canada and internationally. Rae was the subject and composer of the score for the National Film Board–produced musical-documentary My Prairie Home, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Rae owns and runs an indie record label called Coax Records that has released fifteen albums by Canadian and international artists. They have been nominated for two Polaris Prizes, a Lambda Literary Award and a Western Canadian Music Award.
Mental Health, is Rae Spoon’s tenth full-length album and is being released on their label Coax Records. The album traces their personal journey with mental health through eight indie-rock songs that explore living with depression, anxiety, CPTSD and other challenges. Giving a voice to a perspective not as often heard in the media, the songs are a rumination on pursuing health without the pressure of being cured and the duality of trying to survive trauma and accept oneself at the same time.
Rae Spoon has been open through their writing and the NFB documentary, My Prairie Home, about growing up with a parent who had a, often untreated, mental illness in an unsafe home and the childhood abuse they experienced. The songs play like a follow up to that writing, being about the adult experience of being a survivor. Rae explores living as a trans/non-binary person in a community that experiences oppression and thus has higher incidence of mental health issues and suicide. Being part of these communities means losing friends to suicide more often and supporting each other through unspeakable conditions at times. Rae asks hard questions about how to cope with mental pain, to support friends and to live with trauma in late capitalism.
The album was recorded and co-produced by Jordon Koop at the Noise Floor on Gabriola Island. Rae was joined by the Pack AD’s Maya Miller on the drums and Becky Black on guitar and vocals. Rae’s ever-present electronic elements make an appearance through drum sequences and analog synthesizers and their band was made up of all-female/non-binary musicians. The result is the kind of infectious melodies and intricate pop music that Rae has become known for.
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