Welcome to my WRAP UP of 2011! This is the 4th edition of what has become an annual event in which I take stock of the past 12 months of my life, paying respect to how I filled my days and nights, highlight some of my favourite sounds and sights, and set intentions for the new year. It’s exciting and humbling to write, and from what I’m told, enjoyed and anticipated by many of you. So without further delay…
2011 is done!
No, I’m not happy about it – this has been one of the best years of my life. Best because it’s also been very very tough, with major changes to all the biggies: work, relationship, and home.
I moved twice. I ended an unhealthy relationship, and haven’t been happier in ages. And I started working full time for myself as a graphic designer/photographer/artist/all ’round creative bloke!
What I’m stoked on is that through it all, I’m closer to becoming the real me, the true, strong, honest, passionate, positive, and creative me, that’s only shown cameos in the past.
Which brings me to what means more to me than any of the music, films, books, etc that I’m going to mention below: YOU.
Yes you. If you have been invited to read this, it’s because you are a positive, inspirational part of my life, and if 2011 taught me anything, it’s that what matters most in life are people who treat me right and are there for me. Some of you are new to my life, some have been consistently rad for over a decade. To all of you, huge love and respect!!
If I seem a little over the top with my adoration for you, if you are receiving messages and texts encouraging you to make the most of your life, to become the person/artist you truly are deep down, well, get used to it! It’s only gonna happen more! You inspire me, and as I see you grow, and be your true self, shedding any false layers, I am energized to do the same. As the Beastie Boys once said, “be true to yourself and you’ll never fall” (from “Pass The Mic”, for my fellow music nerds).
Aiiight, let’s get amongst it, shall we?
And please let me know what you think of everything by adding your comments at the bottom of this post. I’m open to constructive criticism, adoring praise, or if there’s some of your personal 2011 highlights you’d like to share, please do!
2011 MONTH BY MONTH
TOP PICKS FROM 2011
2011 MONTH BY MONTH
The Great Outdoors + Friends = Best Way To Start The Year!
In January, I got some great outdoor time with friends, including an excellent day riding Cypress w Geordie + Julian, and a North Van photoshoot walkabout with friend and mega talented designer & photographer jenny reed, during which I captured this strange, otherwordly wrapped structure.
Participating In Positive Progress
The city held a Live Performance Review open house @ Mount Pleasant community centre. This is a multi-phase review that is assessing and addressing the outdated rules that keep Vancouver’s art, music, and cultural scenes from flourishing, specifically, performance spaces. Through my participation, I have met some supercool, devoted, and inspiring people who are tirelessly working to bring cultural progress to the city.
Live Music Highlights: Little Dragon and Good Night Billygoat
I kicked off the year right with a great show at one of my favourite venues: Fortune Sound Club. Headliners Little Dragon were incredible
and openers Billygoat (since renamed to Good Night Billygoat) were thoroughly charming. They are visual artists who create soundtracks for their collaged stop motion animation. A beautiful, unique show that had the crowd at Fortune mesmerized.
Billygoat commented: “Hey man. These are the best live photos anyone has ever taken us. Hands down. Keep up the brilliant work. Thank you!”
I shot this show and Sarah Harmer in January (& many more throughout the year) for The Snipe News. Thanks Shawn & the whole Snipe crew!
Live Music Highlights: Givers @ Biltmore
A definite surprise, since I was there to shoot Ra Ra Riot, but holy shit Louisiana pop ensemble Givers put on one helluva live show!
Mesmerizing, Colourful Night at Vancouver Playhouse
In addition to shooting The Pack A.D. and Thee Manipulators for Scene In The Dark (big up Michael & everyone at Scene! You guys are awesome!), I also photographed two incredibly talented bands, Rhythms of Rajasthan and Kiran Ahluwahlia. It was my 1st time at Vancouver Playhouse, and I was the only photographer there this beautiful evening. The bands amazed the audience, and although I was kept to stage sides and balcony (no front shots on the floor allowed), I ended up with some nice shots. Bless you, Allan, for lending me your 80-200!
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In February, I shot Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sebadoh, and Quasi, but the highlights were:
Cheeky Rappers Das Racist @ Fortune
Postponed from an earlier cancelled show, Das Racist didn’t hold back on the theatrics, smirky faces, or solid delivery when they finally took the stage.
Ska by The Aggrolites and The Valuables
I had seen The Aggrolites a few years ago based on my tattoo artist’s suggestion so I knew this’d be a great show.
Local group The Valuables were more than worthy openers!
The Blow and Sonny & The Sunsets
Opener Sonny & The Sunsets are a surprisingly charming group that pen funny, deeply honest folk/rock/indie songs.
I’m not sure how to describe The Blow, except to say that she is a solo artist who sings, dances, and effortlessly had the entire Biltmore in her grasp. A beautiful, alluring, talented performance artist who you should definitely check out.
Surf Rock Madness!
I shot a crazy all ages show at The Rickshaw: Best Coast
and Wavves. Timez got nutz especially during Wavves.
The crowd went wacko – crowd surfing, jumping the fence, and fellow photog David Thai had his camera bag (temporarily) stolen by some crazy klepto girl in the crowd. Super fun night though!
Pre-Valentine’s Love by Jody Quine
Friend and talented singer/songwriter Jody Quine was highlighted in “a show all about love.” I was honoured that Jody asked me to photograph her performance.
Dip My Toes Into Another Music Industry Pool
From February to August 2011, I worked as Assistant Editor at The Snipe News. In addition to writing weekly articles (check out my page at The Snipe News), and posting new photo galleries, my main responsibility was requesting media passes for upcoming shows from publicists and promotion companies, and coordinating our writers and photographers to cover these events. It was an ongoing logistical challenge, but I thrived in it, my work was greatly appreciated by everyone at The Snipe, and I built great relationships with many people in Vancouver’s (and beyond) music scene.
My Black Keys Photo Featured in L.A.!
Rollo & Grady, a LA-based music blog, requested use of my pic of Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney on their site to accompany their interview. Rad! Check it out here – it’s at the end of the article!
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Good Times With & For Friends
In March, some other rad stuff happened, such as a brief visit from long-time Calgary-based friend Renee, Sarita (along with David and Ellee) had a beautiful sunny birthday brunch at their lovely waterside New West home, and our lovely Lucy Small officially became a Canadian citizen.
Instructions On How To Flash
I’ve been teaching Adobe Flash one-on-one and in small groups at VIVO Media Arts Centre since 2007. I love teaching, and am open to doing more of it. Anyone want to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, video editing…? Let me know.
In March, I taught a one-on-one Flash course to a woman who is a youth career coach. She brings multimedia skills into her coaching. Rad.
March of Music!
It was also a massive month for music! I saw, but did not shoot Akron/Family and Crystal Castles. Both of those shows blew my mind; Akron/Family because they got the entire crowd involved; Crystal Castles because it was a complete onslaught of intense electropunk awesomeness.
I shot Concretes, Millionyoung, Asobi Seksu, O’Death, Strange Boys, State Radio, Kaki King, Erica Dee, Mount Kimbie, Babe Rainbow, No Gold, War On Drugs, and Destroyer. Whew! And that’s not even including the top shows…
Telekinesis, Wye Oak, Callers @ Media Club
Whatta lineup. All amazing bands, but holy shit Wye Oak are mesmerizing. And their recordings are beautiful. One of my favourite discoveries of 2011.
Esben and The Witch, First Time Ever Using Flash At A Live Music Shoot
Shot at the impossibly dark Waldorf (c’mon Waldorf, sort out your lights aka buy some!), but a blisteringly brilliant show. I love this band to bits.
Warpaint (with PVT and Family Band)
Warpaint were mediocre. Tonight was all about Family Band, another favourite discovery of the year. Moody, gorgeous music.
Acid Mother’s Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO (w/ Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers) @ Biltmore
Haha no I’m not kidding – these were the names of the 2 bands playing. Awesome trippy psychedelic night.
Cute Bouncy Wolf Head Couple Steal Amelie Composer’s Thunder
I went for Yann Tiersen, but left in love with Breathe Owl Breathe. An adorable band. Obviously enjoying themselves immensely, they were all smiles, lead singer Micah Middaugh bouncing up and down throughout songs. The moment that caught my heart was during a song in which singer/celloist Andréa Moreno-Beals was wearing a wolf hat. During moments of the chorus, she would ‘yelp!’ like a wolf; as she did, Middaugh held the mic not at her mouth, but the wolf’s! So cute, so sincere.
International Women’s Day Highlighted at W2 Storyeum
Utopia Fest: 25 female artists, including Tanya Tagaq (who I’d been dying to see for years), Peaches, and Isis Salam, this was an unforgettable night.
I was invited to photograph the media-only preview of Cavalia, a Cirque de Solelil spin-off. The power of the horses was incredible. It made all the acrobatics of the humans seem silly, insignificant. We were given free tickets to the Grand Opening the following night – score! – to sit back and enjoy the production in it’s entirety.
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April, Ashley’s Month of BIG Changes
April! Well, whatta month that was! Becoming self employed, moving house, and my first ever trip to Portland!
Started Self Employment: Format No Auto Goes Solo, and Changes The World!
It was time to grab my life and career by the balls and head out on my own, so I finished working for ShowMakers Productions, my 9-5 family and place of employment since 2006. A crazy thing to do, to leave a consistent job with a good family-run business, but I needed to do it. And bless my boss, she was very supportive. Working independently has been a huge challenge, but through the struggles, I feel like I’ve grown a full foot in stature. And I am happy to say that my relationship with ShowMakers is healthy; I have been asked to return to ShowMakers twice a week starting January 2012, helping the gang out during their busy period.
Another Big Month of Music Photography
April was another month packed with tons of shows to shoot: Fleet Foxes, Olof Arnalds, My Chemical Romance, Two Door Cinema Club, Rural Alberta Advantage, Girls Rock Camp, Awolnation, Ellie Goulding, Bright Eyes, Titus Andronicus, Mike Watt, Run With The Heard, and Sex With Strangers! All this while transitioning to solo employment, and working as The Snipe’s Assistant Editor! Here are the shows that really stood out:
Trentemoller & His Theremin-Playing Companion
Euro multi-genre producer Trentemoller‘s music is dramatic; it seems he likes his live set to be so, too. And he likes peculiar opening acts: Dorit Chrysler (who also performs with his band) is not only a vocalist, but plays the theremin, that weird metal stick that creates sound without being directly touched.
Later that year, I shot Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who also use the theremin! Weird… Forget the ukelele, 2011 was the Year Of The Theremin!
tUnE-yArDs + Buke and Gase @ Biltmore
Easily one of my favourite shows of the year, tUnE-yArDs is a phenomenal, exciting performer, accentuating her belting, unique voice with flamboyant costumes and facial warpaint. One of my photos would later be featured in Spectrum Culture’s review of tUnE-yArDs’ Washington D.C. show!
Buke and Gass (now Buke and Gase) are a sweet duo who not only write incredible music, but have created their own instruments that are the reason for their band name: A “buke:” baritone ukulele and a “gase:” guitar+bass.
Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Dessa, Sims, and Lazerbeak All In One Night?!? Plus Nardwuar?!?!?!!
That’s right: At Rogers Arena early in the evening, pop/rap acts Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj co-headlined a massive stadium show.
Lil Wayne was alright, but it was Nicki Minaj, in her skin tight neapolitan ice cream suit that stole the show. I couldn’t help but make an animated gif of her twirling her superior booty in this post.
I actually met Vancouver music brainiac and icon Nardwuar outside the arena moments before he held this interview with Lil Wayne.
Afterwards, I cycled to the Biltmore to shoot Dessa, one of the massively talented Doomtree crew, on her solo tour, with support from Sims and Lazerbeak. Awesome show. Truly. The talent, the charisma, of this hip hop crew always amazes me.
Not Really A Rave, But They Still Bring Glow Sticks
Electronic duo Chase & Status brought a full-on, ear-bursting night of drum’n’bass, breakbeat, dubstep, and hip hop to the screaming, pouncing, seemingly underage sold out crowd at Gossip. It was mental.
5 days in Portland, Oregon. Brilliant. A trip with great friends, sharing a house in the Alameda neighbourhood, cruising around on bicycles in one of the most bike friendly cities I’ve ever cycled, hitting up microbrew pub after microbrew pub after food cart after food cart, it was a pleasure for the senses, night and day. Big smiles all week. I never thought I’d want to live in the US; this is the closest I’ve ever felt to it. I definite highlight of 2011.
Tennis! Almost. Not Really
I really like tennis. I’ve played with friends over the years, but there’s only so long that you can go whacking the ball without any control before it gets tiring and you’d like to get beyond just getting it over the net.
OK, so maybe I’m not that bad, but not much better than. So Cory & I signed up for lessons at Britannia. Great idea, right? Wrong. Remember the “summer” we had in 2011? Yeah. Monsoon, you mean. More than half our lessons were cancelled due to rain, so we didn’t really progress. Maybe I’ll revisit the idea in summer 2012…?
In April, the Vancouver Tool Library had their open house, and just down the road at the Croatian Cultural Centre, This Is East Van were selling their hot-off-the-presses first book (which features 2 of my photos!) at Make It Vancouver. Good crafty stuff a’happenin’!
New, Gorgeous, Temporary Home
At the end of the month, I moved out of my bachelor apartment (& home for 3 years) and into a shared home with my good friend Dave and new friend Erica. Although it was just a four-month sublet (while Olive & Ben cycled across the US for their honeymoon – you can read all about their adventures on their blog), the opportunity was too good to pass up: live with friends in a big, bright, gorgeous old home that I’ve admired for ages, in a quiet East Van neighbourhood during the summer. And I don’t regret the decision one bit. I loved everything about living at Turner St. Thank you Dave, Erica, and Tig! And thanks Olive for your beautiful room – I slept like a baby all summer. Fond memories of breakfast on the front porch in the sun, and BBQ’s out back in the evening. Bless.
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Federal Election – Gah!
A momentous federal election kicked off the month, in which The Harper (aka backwards, bigoted bullshit) Government gained a majority, but for the 1st time in history, the NDP secured official opposition status, thanks to the tireless determination of leader Jack Layton, who would tragically lose his battle with cancer mere months later.
This Is East Van Book Launch!
After a hugely successful release at Make It Vancouver last month, TIEV had their official launch party at the Waldorf to celebrate. As a contributor (2 of my photos are in the book, and later in the year I was a
Featured Photographer on their site), I was in attendance, and thought it’d be cool to shoot a few candids to document the evening. TIEV liked ’em so much, they added the gallery to their site. See TIEV 1 Launch Party.
This little community photo project has been so successful, a sequel is already underway (3 of my photos have been selected!), including a video project! Great things a’happen when people put their hands where their hearts beat.
Edmonchuk, Hear Me Roar
Since I wasn’t in Edmonton for Xmas 2010 (I spent it in Vancouver with friends – big up the orphan crew! Good times!), I took a quick trip home to Alberta.
Marley Pays The Bills
I was approached to design material for Rohan Marley (Bob’s son)’s company, Marley Coffee. I have designed posters, flyers, stickers, and coffee bags, created web content, written and edited copy, photographed product, edited video, and drawn illustrations for coffee bags. I’m happy to say that Marley Coffee has become my main ongoing client, and for that I thank you for approaching me, Nicole. One Love.
Store Your Files In My Toaster
I bought an NAS, aka my “toaster” (it looks exactly like a traditional tin toaster, except the slots are on the side). I needed space for the tons of RAW photos I’m accumulating and to free up space for clients’ files on my local. I’m not entirely sold on it, because it’s NAS (Network Attached Storage), which means wireless, which means it’s not terribly fast. But it frees up a lot of hard drive space, which is more than just convenient, it’s actually necessary. I was running on zero kb of local free space for a bit there! And RAID (mirrored drives) ain’t so bad for peace of mind, either.
Best Photographer In Vancouver! Almost
I was nominated as Best Photographer in the 1st ever Vancouver Urban Culture Conference, but unfortunately, the conference was cancelled last minute due to insufficient funds. I might not have won – the competition was pretty impressive – but it was nice to be mentioned amongst the city’s best! Big love to my fellow photogs, you are a constant source of inspiration!
Arcade At The Auction
Music BC has noticed my gig photography, and I was asked to donate my photo of Arcade Fire‘s Régine Chassagne for Music BC’s Charitable Foundation Gala and Auction. I’m honoured to have had my piece amongst other auction items and prizes such as a signed Joe Satriani guitar!
Speaking Of Photography, What’d You Shoot This Month, Ash?
I shot Mother Mother, KT Tunstall, Joe Pug, The Kills, Atmosphere, and Wolf Parade’s (supposedly) last ever gig.
Stand Out Gigs? First Surprise: Some French Girl Named Yelle
Who knew? I photographed this one just for more photo-taking experience, but it ended up being a blast! Yelle really knows how to put on a show and entertain her audience! High energy electro dance pop.
Female Artists Impress
Alluring, mystical, highly talented women continued the standard set by Yelle: both gothic synthpop act Zola Jesus
and indie/dream pop songstress Lykke Li blew me away.
Fantastic performers, truly a joy to photograph.
Cute, Innocent, Whistling… Animals!!!
Peter Bjorn & John. Sure they write irresistably catchy pop tunes, but who knew they’d kill it live, like proper rock stars? Great show, complete with shoulder high kicks and thrashing guitars.
Yea Or Nay? I Say ‘Yea’ Every Time!
I definite highlight of the year. I have always loved Yeasayer for their unapologetically experimental rock full of raw, honest lyrics. Expectations were high after hearing their stellar live album Live At Ancienne Belgique. Yeasayer brought it: when they rocked the Commodore, all expectations were satisfied.
A nice surprise was opener Hush Hush, a tall, skinny, bearded man shakin’ his thang, givin’ a young Mick Jagger a run for his money, singing spankdirty songs with nothing but a mic, an ipod, and a lot of costume changes. Highly entertaining.
Electric Owls, Souvenirs Of Canada
All in one night, I was at the grand opening of Electric Owl, the new Main St/Chinatown bar/restaurant/live music venue, AND waxing philosophical with internationally renowned author and visual artist Douglas Coupland.
Quick recap: after the Owl, I was too late to get into the Coupland/McLuhan/Youtube event at the Waldorf. So I thought what the hell, it’s a nice night, I’ll go to Nuba (connected to the Waldorf) and stay for a drink or three. A couple hours later, who should sit down at the table next to mine? That’s right: the world famous artist & writer himself. One of my friends is such an enormous fan, she went over, introduced herself, and brought Coupland over to our table. He happily launched into it when I asked about his presentation that evening.
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Thanks to my new roomies at Turner, I discovered the Beyond The Blue Box program. All those potentially recyclable materials that you aren’t meant to put in your regular recycling (styrofoam, polystyrene food containers, electronics, CDs, milk and juice containers, etc) are taken and sorted by Beyond The Blue Box! Rad. Check the Britannia Community Centre site for more info.
Two Friends, Two Shows
Two successful artist friends of mine had openings the same night: Chris Von Szombathy‘s art opening at Helen Pitt,
and Persistence of Vision by Holly Ward @ Artspeak
Flailing Feet In The Sky, Bypass My Teeth
In June, I actually chilled out a bit on shooting shows, while I really tucked into my graphic design business. I even took in a show without my camera (gasp!) and replaced it with beer drinking and moshing with friends. Dropkick Murphys @ Commodore: crazy night out with the boys!
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Rihanna, An Unlikely Pair
They weren’t on the same bill, but after shooting decent shows by My Morning Jacket, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae, Friendly Fires, and Invasion Fest, it was Trail Of Dead and Rihanna that really blew me away.
At Electric Owl, an awesome lineup included Follow That Bird and Ringo Deathstarr.
But it was the epic, soaring, driving rock of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead that stole the night.
Then in a completely different venue (Rogers Arena), a completely different performer (Rihanna) proceeded to surprise me and gain my respect. Respect? Prancing her bikini-clad curvy body all over the stage, you ask? Yes.
See, for one, Rihanna knows what she’s got, and she knows how to move it. She owns it. Secondly, I’ve seen a lot of these big pop stars at Rogers Arena, and most rely on the fireworks and jumbotrons to satisfy the arena full of fans. What’d Rihanna do? She worked that stage like she owned every inch of it. She pounded the pavement like it was her first ever gig. Top marks to this pop superstar!
Harrison Hot Springs Sucks, Harrison Lake Is A Trip
Cory and I took a weekend outta town, camped up around the northeastern side of Harrison Lake, and, well, melted into the surroundings. We found an incredible point that shot out into the lake, and since the walk out to it was fairly inhospitable, it became our peaceful spot to recharge and engage in wicked conversation.
Photography’s A Drug
Since I wasn’t shooting as many shows, it satisfied my ichy trigger finger to be invited by jenny reed for an afternoon Gastown shoot.
As Assistant Editor at The Snipe, I was in constant contact with our amazing group of writers and photographers, but hadn’t met most in person. So it was cool that The Man at The Snipe, Shawn Conner, organized a contributors party at Revel Room in Gastown. It was awesome to meet everyone, though some people (I’m looking at you, Rachel Fox) were disappointed that I wasn’t a perky young girl(!) Oh my name, how you provide me with constant surprises and entertainment!
Drawing Is Meditation
I have a somewhat regular meditation practice. This is something I started many years ago (thanks Veronica!), and have, at times, focused on (a 5 day silent retreat in 2009). This is my ceramic bodhi leaf incense holder, a tribute to my practice.
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Collaboration, My Love
In July, I began a collaborative project with teacher and artist igor santizo. Igor had taken a series of photos of his piece “Dissolutio: State Phase” and wanted to present it as a poster. He approached me, and over a few months, we worked together, exchanging ideas, and we emerged with an 11×17 poster that feels like a page out of a newspaper or old magazine.
In December, it was featured in QR_U, an art exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, after I responded to one of their questions about the importance of collaboration in art. You can read my post here.
I attend CO-LAB @ Centre A, a multi-artist show that presented the results of collaborative workshops that took place earlier in the year. A piece by friends & super artist couple Emma Hendrix & Julie Gendron was in the show. Called NOISE/DE-NOISE, multiple analog tape decks are arranged on a waterbed, and play indefinitely, intentionally deteriorating. Laying on the bed with the tapes around my head felt like I was in the womb.
Asian Ghost Stories
Just a couple of weeks earlier, I was at Centre A to take in Howie Tsui’s Celestials Of Saltwater City. Read my review of the exhibit here.
EatArt Powers The VAG
My friends who are involved with EatArt (famous for Mondo Spider, but should be recognized for all the great work they are doing investigating, in creative ways, our relationship to energy use) dressed as snakes while cycling stationary bikes throughout the day to power the Vancouver Art Gallery and to highlight the great things that EatArt is about. Keep up the awesome work, it’s been a blast getting to know you all, you crazy talented wacky people.
Taking Media To The Street
I attended Fresh Media ReMixology 6: Hit Refresh – Taking Media to the Street. Fresh Media is a cool, forward thinking group of people who put on ReMixology nights to get speakers and interested people to speak & share ideas so that we can reimagine media & journalism in Canada.
What’s A Snipe?
Now that Guttersnipe had officially changed it’s name to The Snipe News, I created new business cards for everyone. With a snipe (bird) on the back!
Fucked Up For Free
A free Fucked Up show?!? WTF! Thanks wendythirteen for continuing to be the coolest promoter of punk in Vancouver.
Openers Real Problems were highly entertaining. Later, their bassist Denis contacted me to say that my pics “looked amazing, you are talented, and because of this I had already posted some of them onto our Facebook site.”
I also shot The Herbaliser at Fortune, but on the 2nd night of their 2-night tenure, and the place was half empty.
The Wild Styles of Les Savy Fav & The Dirty Awesomeness Of Handsome Furs
I love Handsome Furs. Dan Boeckner has always been 1 of my favourite 2 Wolf Paraders; the intensity in everything he does is so fucking inspiring. He’s one of those people who just lives, breathes, and shits music. It’s all he does, he’s obsessed, and I love him for it. And I love that he’s in a band with his wife, three albums into a successful international career.
Co-headliners Les Savy Fav are more about the spectacle that is their lead singer, Tim Harrington, than their average post-punk songs.
Electronica In The Forest, Shambhala Eat Your Heart Out
Bass Coast Fest! Truly awesome. An incredible group of artists and festival goers, but all the props need to go to the lovely ladies who have run the Bass Coast Project for years.
Everything about the festival was impeccably run. I appreciated how well I was treated as media. And hey! Even though I arrived as a Snipe photographer, I’m now an official Bass Coast photographer! See my shots on the Bass Coast facebook page
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Joffre Lakes, Glacial Beauty
I spent more time in the glorious outdoors, returning with Kirby to one of our favourite camping & hiking spots: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, just northeast of Pemberton. Along with Andrea, Matt, and Lindsay, we hiked the brilliant all day hike alongside three immaculate glacier lakes, up to the glacier’s source, then soaked in the serene evenings with Jenga and a bloodthirsty pack of deer.
Speaking Of Deer, It’s Time For A Stag!
Joe’s a gentleman. Instead of your regular, drunken, idiodic pranks, trashy strippers-type stag, we had a civilized backyard BBQ. Congrats to you and Shona, Joe!
Leather Pants Reinvigorate Me
My live music photography was reinvigorated after a great Jon Spencer (“The Blues Are Number One!”) Blues Explosion and Rich Hope show at Venue. @johnlee_ tweeted “those JSBX shots you did were amazin. nice work, Ashley. cheers, J”
Tapes ‘n Tapes
I also shot rock’n’rollers Tapes ‘n Tapes and The Chain Gang Of 1974 at the Biltmore. Later, Tapes ‘n Tapes tweeted at me: “@formatnoauto thanks! Sweet pics”
Such Gorgeous Sounds Come From That Potty Mouth
One of my favourite shows of the year was Aussie songstress Sia, known for her work with Zero 7, but also making a name as a solo artist. She has a very unique voice, and my god it was impeccable through every note of every song. What surprised me was how blunt she was during between-song banter, describing the patterns of her dress as being covered in vaginas, and introducing her band members by the “sexual names” they had acquired during the tour. Hilarious and entertaining, just unexpected from such a seemingly innocent woman whose website is painted in crayons.
Music BC holds occasional industry nights that are open to anyone. Called SchMusic BC, August’s was a Summer Tiki Party at the Waldorf. It’s a great chance to meet up and coming musicians, producers, promoters, videographers, photographers like myself, and others in the music biz.
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Next Stop: Woodlandia
In September, my 4 month sublet had come to a close, and I sadly had to say goodbye to the incredible Turner St home and my wonderful roommates there. I’m now nestled in the Broadway/Woodland area, affectionately known as “Woodlandia,” and makin’ it home.
Spunky, Sexy, Whipsmart
This was a treat: taking in a show with Kirby & Andrea, without my camera!
Jean Grae! I’m a longtime admirer of this killer MC, even back to her days spitting on Herbaliser tracks as What What. Spunky, and surprisingly sexy too. Just as ill live as you’d expect.
Massive Month For Art & Music Fests
Victory Square Block party, the Boom Booms Block Party, UBC Master of Fine Arts grad exhibit, SWARM & New Forms Fest! Great music, outdoors at the Waldorf during Vancouver’s late summer heat (read more here).
A definite stand out amongst NFF’s visual component: a beautifully shot, stylistically arresting pair of films entitled Lorenzo, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, featuring contemporary dancers Jennifer Mcleish-Lewis & Josh Martin. I could watch this diptych daily forever. Read my thoughts here.
Bambu Gives Hip Hop A Real Voice
Ben & I checked out rapper Bambu at FIVESIXTY, a club I hadn’t yet been to. Unfortunately, it seems they’re trying to attract a douchebag crowd, with their glossy trashy advertising and nights focused on cheesy disposable djs. Which is unfortunate, cuz the space is actually pretty dope.
Bambu was awesome. He oozes confidence, his messages are educated and intentional, and he delivers it all with perfect cadence and timing.
POP Montreal, How I Love Thee
One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself: After being approached to shoot POP Montreal, and really wanting to do it, I talked myself out of it. But it wouldn’t go away, it was in my head, in my heart, and I just knew I had to go, no matter how much sense it didn’t make financially.
So the night before I flew, literally hours before my early morning flight, I bought a ticket. And I tell you what: if I needed a reminder that following your gut is the way to live, this was it. There wasn’t a single thing, nor a single moment, that wasn’t absolutely brilliant about this trip. Possibly the top highlight of 2011. A free bicycle rental, 2 lovely homes to stay at (cheers Cat & Feo, and Ed & Vicki!), great weather, tons of incredibly talented bands from every genre you could imagine, dedicated, knowledgeable and fun staff & volunteers… Genius.
I made a ton of solid contacts in Montreal, and many of the bands, or their publicists, requested to use my photos, including The Fundamentals, Alaclair Ensemble, and Dominique Young Unique.
For more thoughts, photos, and links to original published pages in The Snipe News, read my blog post here.
What’d You Put In My Drink, Mister?
Amon Tobin. His ISAM 3D mapping cube Tetris stage setup. Unfuckingbelievable. I’ve never felt so high and been so sober. Honestly, my pics don’t do it justice, you need to see it live. For the closest thing to it, watch the trailer, which I posted on my blog here.
I Continue To Be Inspired By / Jealous Of Burnkit
Fellow photog/designer Cory Stevens and I headed to Burnkit, a super rad Vancouver design house that we were introduced to as a design students (our professor knows the Burnkit guys personally and took us on a field trip to their studio). Burnkit continues to set the trend as a thinking out-of-the-box company, now holding art exhibitions in their giant Railtown space, this one called Prototypes. For more, read my post.
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October! Let The Games Begin!
A pretty big month with the Occupy Movement kicking off around the world. Personally, this month was HUGE and it’s where I took some major “it’s a bird it’s a plane” sized changes in the right direction. Let’s take a quick look at them, shall we? (he says while smiling brightly)
Ended a negative, emotionally draining relationship that I had given more than it deserved. This changed e v e r y t h i n g for me.
Work Kicks Into High Gear
With 5 months of independent graphic design work under my belt, I found my stride in October. Focused, determined, and delivering the goods.
Dance, Connect Deep Within
I joined the lovely Jules’ Chakra Dance Series, dancing for two & a half hours every Friday night, focusing on one chakra each week. I was hesitant, because it sounded a bit too hippy for me, but it was beautiful fun, and kickstarted the path I’m on to reconnect with myself, with my body, which I feel I lost connection with in recent years. Thank you Jules xo
East Side Yoga!
Rediscovering the importance of being truly connected to my body, I ended my hiatus from yoga and joined a new studio: East Side Yoga. It’s a sweet little space at Commercial & Grant, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the great character and level of quality instruction there. I get to turn my brain off, stretch, strengthen, go inside and feel my fingers, toes, hips, back and shoulders, and return to a sense of my sensual self. I’ve also dropped in on my old studio, Open Door, for occasional classes. Variety!
Cycle This Way
I continued my history of volunteer work for Vancouver Biennale, this time for the Tour de Biennale, during which cyclists raced around the city, with public sculptures as check points. I was a traffic marshal, directing cyclists from Cambie towards Queen E Park. My uniform? A tight pink cycling jersey!
Work For Food
I started volunteering at Quest Food Exchange, where I’ve been intending to volunteer for years. It’s right up my alley, I do a little of everything: work in the warehouse organizing & labelling food, in the store culling produce and restocking shelves, and in the office, updating/fixing the website, creating store signage, working on photos, etc., all with a good group of people doing great things.
Art, Collectives, Friends
I attended the Freelance Finance workshop at W2. Also, before a free screening of Press Pause Play at W2, pre-drinks were at Also Known As, a shared studio space for digital artists & designers. They also use the space for gallery exhibits. A wicked concept, awesome people.
And fellow photog Jason Statler had his work in an exhibit called Open Relationships at a great little space called Studio 1666, near Granville Island. Supposedly it’s dj & bartender school during the day, which is dope, it means there’s a full bar there for gallery shows!
Plus a super Thanksgiving: Big dinner potluck, hosted by Dave, Olive, and Ben at their cozy Turner house. Great people, delicious food. Perfect. Afterwards, big Thanksgivr party at Geri & Michael Hall’s palace. More great peeps dancin’ off their turkey.
Not A Lot Of Shows, But The Ones I Shot Were Excellent
Electronic/soul producer SBTRKT (w/ collaborator Sampha, pictured here) made a big splash in 2011, and the crowd at Fortune gave proper respect. Opening duo (& real life couple) New Look were surprisingly good, with their simple, catchy 80s synth pop.
I never thought I’d get a chance to see this highly influential band, yet there I was with camera in hand at the front of the stage of the PNE.
Read my thoughts, and check out a video of Portishead’s newest song in my blog post.
I also shot the SONG recital for Music BC. In Coquitlam! Crazy, I never thought I’d have a reason to go there.
Return Of The Greenhorn
After leaving 12 months ago on a road trip to top all road trips, Neil returned home after driving from Vancouver to Panama and back, surfing all the way. Check out the video I made of his arrival home:
You should read Neil’s blog – The man’s a good writer! Check it: The Greenhorn Surf Diaries!
Awesome Halloween weekend, dressing up as Richie Tenenbaum, and Erica as my sister Margot, partying with good friends including Troy, visiting from Quadra Island.
On the 31st, Kelly painted us all so we looked dead/undead/zombie, we carved pumpkins (that many of the parents complimented us on), and we gave candy to 117 kids!!! I thought I overbought candy, turns out it was barely enough. Super fun.
Six Acres, One Of My Favourite Places In The City
Close out the month with a cool shot.
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On November 11th, the world lost an awesome man. My mentor and friend Allan Bergman passed away after fighting lung and bone cancer. He was the founder of ShowMakers Productions, the company I worked for as a multimedia designer from 2006-2011. He was one of the only people I know who got as excited about photography as I do, and he was such a cool dude he lent me lenses on many occasions, without hesitation. I loved his dry wit, and how he put on a convincing sense of aloofness, even though I know he was a deeply loving man underneath it all. His wife and children love him immensely; their family is incredibly close. My heart is with the Bergman family. With love, respect, and fond memories of an incredible, inspirational man – Mr. Allan Bergman, you will be missed. Rest in peace.
I watched Polytechnique, a movie about the massacre targeted at women at the Montreal École Polytechnique. I am invigorated to take action against violence against women, but also against violence in general. It disgusts me that people are so fucked, and feel so alone, that they blame others for their sadness and lash out in violence.
I was raised to be respectful of women and of people in general, no matter their age, sex, culture, or religion. Yet in the past, I have perhaps been too polite/tolerant of ignorant, racist, sexist assholes. No more bullshit, I absolutely refuse to tolerate it. I have volunteered for Vancouver Rape Relief in the past, and will become more involved with organizations such as Say NO – UNiTE and the White Ribbon Campaign, because being kind and respectful to women doesn’t mean I am less of a man. It means I am more.
I recommend you watch this TED talk in which Tony Porter challenges the characteristics that men are expected to adhere to.
More great references to check out: XY Online
and Futures Without Violence
Shrinks. Why Are They Called That?
I found a new counsellor and he seems like a good fit, someone who will be a key player in my intention to delve deep into some personal work and growth over the next 6 months.
It’s Upper Lip-ember!
With fellow moustachioed friends participating in Movember here and around the world, my upper lip was a soup-strainin’ beast of badassness for a month, while we raised $$$ + awareness for prostate cancer research.
Get Your Vote On holds Candidate Speed Dating evenings at The Biltmore in the lead up to Vancouver’s municipal elections. It’s a meet and greet, where city hall candidates move from table to table, speaking directly to average citizens like myself. After this round-table, a more traditional Q&A is held, with the candidates on stage.
This is such a beneficial, educational event, that leading up to the next municipal election, I’m determined to make it a series of nights. Think of it: if held once or twice a week over the course of a month or so, you could meet all of the candidates, not just a handful, which is the most honest way to judge their potential as a person who will make decisions that directly affect us all.
Outdoor hottub party?! OK!
Actually, I was home & cozy, listening to great tunes, when Erica & Kelly came home around midnight. It was Saturday, I had been out the night before, and wasn’t planning on doing anything. But they *dragged* me out, and I’m so very glad I went. I met some truly incredible, beautiful people that night.
Art Art Art!
Lots of great art in November, with the annual Eastside Culture Crawl being an annual favourite.
I had a meeting with Linus and Denise, the wicked couple behind Vancouver’s go-to place for all things art: Artsy Dartsy.
And jenny invited me to a special presentation of the Snapshot Fred Herzog film at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. There were presentations by Douglas Coupland, Gary Stephen Ross, Sam Sullivan and Andy Sylvester. And when Shelagh Rogers (CBC radio superstar) had to cancel her appearance last minute, she sent her speech by mp3! Whatta lady! And the man himself, Fred Herzog, was in attendance. Who knew that he isn’t only a fantastic candid photographer, he’s also an incredibly charming and hilarious man.
Experimental Sound Art: Viva VIVO!
An excellent evening at VIVO Media Arts in Vancouver BC.
Three incredibly talented groups of musicians with video projectionists (+ 1 interpretive dancer):
Ross Birdwise, Soressa Gardner, Victor Ballesteros, Luciana D’Anunciacao
The Automatic Message
Read my post about the night in here.
Two Excellent, Yet Very Different Exhibitions
Poemitron @ Charles H Scott & Shapely @ CSA Space
Read my blog post about these exhibits here.
Female Vocal Power x3
I photographed Ohbijou at the Biltmore, but the real highlight was Austra, Young Galaxy, Tasseomancy at Electric Owl: easily one of the best lineups this year, 3 solid pop bands with strong female lead vocals in all.
Deaf From Above
My 1st time shooting for Backstage Rider, and it was a good’un: Death From Above 1979! Awesome. You gotta read Mikala’s review – it’s psychedelic & spot on.
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Gettin’ Older And Loving It
The last month of the year always kicks off with my birthday, and I take my birthday very seriously, in a completely off the wall, fun way. It’s the day I was born, and I figure if there’s ever a time in the year to take time off work (a MUST. I always book my birthday off. I actually believe everyone’s birthday should be a stat holiday for that person. Working on your birthday?!? Sacrilegious!), have fun, and do whatever it is I want to do, this is the day.
Well, my 36th birthday landed on a Saturday last year, so I made a full weekend of it. It was completely everything I could’ve wished for, and more. Thank you to everyone who played a part in it. To all those who sent me birthday wishes by phone, email, text, and fcbk, to the lovelies who made the journey all the way to the N.Van art party, to everyone at my potluck, brunch, Hastings steam, and to everyone who allowed me to drag them out for days(!), denying you the right to return home for a shower & change of clothes, I love you all.
I officially joined Olio Festival as Assistant Operations Manager. I am super stoked to work alongside Dani, Sarena, and the Olio Team to make the festival’s 4th year it’s best ever!
Kunst the cat and I guarded Emma, Julie & Ari’s home while they were overseas doing their super artist thang.
Kunst is a good influence on me: even after I had cleaned his litter and fed him and even poured a little water in the tub (his preferred way to drink), he’d meow and meow and meow. Then I figured it out: he’d only stop meowing once I sat down and stopped moving. He just wants me to chill! Thanks buddy! I appreciate it!
One Of A Kind
I went to the One Of A Kind art show to support two immensely talented women: Jules Emmerson, clothing designer, and Nathalie Columbe, painter. Nathalie is the beautiful woman who set me up to stay at her sister’s whilst in Montreal. Even though I barely knew Nathalie at the time, and had never met her sister, it all went splendidly well, and I have a very strong loving connection with her family. This was solidified when I met her charming and warm mom, who was supporting her daughter at One Of A Kind. Big love to the Coulombe family!
Art With Energy
An incredibly curated show, Art With Energy at EatArt was one of the most engaging art shows I’ve been to in awhile. A wide variety of work, from photography to painting to meticulously detailed illustration to electronic sound generated in organic (tree trunks!) material, and of course, EatArt’s showstoppers, the Mondo Spider, snake, and Prosthesis Project, it was a fantastic night of art and good people. See my energized photos on fcbk
I received a devastating phone call. My Mom, while walking in a parking lot, was hit by SUV. The driver had no license, no insurance. And she expressed no sympathy or remorse for hitting my mom. Luckily, my mom survived without any broken bones or concussion. She is severely banged and cut up, but it doing her best to recover. Thank you to everyone who has sent your love and prayers, it means more than you know. I was with her for a week over the Xmas holidays and made sure she knew how much care and love was coming from friends around the globe. Bless you all.
Xmas Dinner, Stone Mason Style
Since I didn’t have my own Xmas party (no company, no staff!), I was kindly invited by the stone mason crew to dinner at Hamilton St. Grill. Which is surprisingly not the run-of-the-mill bar/grill it appears to be! It actually has a very nice interior and a quality menu. Steak, Chicago-style, for everyone!
Then catchin’ up with Kirby and our lovely Kate, visiting from T.O., at The Narrow.
A brilliant 2 hour vinyasa yoga class at Open Door, led by two of my favourite instructors: Jennifer and Randy. Thank you both for leading us through an engaging class to set positive intentions for 2012!
It’s NYE: Surprise!
Cuz his lovely girlfriend just wanted “to see his silly face,” we planned a multi-stage surprise birthday for Geordie, taking him (distracting him) snowboarding, to keep him out of the house while preparations (food, tunes, people gathering) were being made. Then a dinnertime arrival, SURPRISE! (met with: “but it’s not my birthday!”), lotsa good peeps & good times to celebrate Geordie who normally gets screwed, his actual bday being Jan 2nd when everyone’s still burnt out.
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BEST STUFF I HEARD IN 2011
Black Mountain Wilderness Heart (2010)
OK, so this is a 2010 release, but I didn’t hear it until January 2011. And my “best of” lists aren’t confined by year. It’s more important for me to share with you what rocked me throughout the year, regardless of when it was released, published, or printed.
Black Mountain has put out nothing but solid rock, yet they supercede all previous efforts on Wilderness Heart. It kicks ass.
Listen to “Rollercoaster”
The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (2009)
2011 was the year I fell deeply in love with The Besnard Lakes. Their 1st album is great, but oh my goodness I melt everytime I hear The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night.
Listen to “Albatross” (& prepare for a heart-stopping drop at 3:03)
This girl should be MASSIVE by now. All the big DJs know this – listen to Rusko’s bangin’ remix of “Pro Nails”
Wye Oak The Knot (2009)
Infuckingcredible. A duo who generate more power and emotion than most bands twice their size can create. Gorgeous (but far from cutesy) female vocals provided by Jenn Wasner, and drums & keys by Andy Stack. If you want gorgeous, powerful indie/country-tinged folk rock, Wye Oak is your band.
Listen to “For Prayer,” from their 2009 release The Knot. They have a new one out, Civilian, that I’m dying to hear.
Doomtree No Kings + Sims Bad Time Zoo (both 2011)
This Minneapolis hip hop collective, and one of their members, Sims, have released 2 of my favourite albums of the year. There are amazing layers on Doomtree’s new one. I feel that the 8 member group is finding new and exciting ways to combine and fully utilize their voices and talents.
Listen to “Team The Best Team.”
And Bad Time Zoo is just solid, positive hip hop. Sims has bumped up his lyrical delivery some serious notches. And the energy that he and producer Lazerbeak have injected into this album is infectious.
Listen to “Good Times”
I’m a sucker for heart-felt folk. I was sent this vid by Papillon’s publicist. It made my day.
Esben and The Witch Violet Cries and Hexagons EP (both 2011)
I fell in love with this band when I photographed them at the Waldorf. Their live show was blistering. Their recordings are more moody, but I love them all the same.
Listen to “Hexagons II (In Flight)”
Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes (2011)
What an incredible album, such a variety of moods & energies. Except for whining “Sadness Is A Blessing,” it is a truly solid album from beginning to end. I mentioned her in my blog here.
Listen to “I Know Places”
POP Montreal discoveries
So many incredible bands. Highlights include AraabMuzik, B L A C K I E , Death Grips, Dominique Young Unique, Evening Hymns, Holger, Megan Bonnell, Purity Ring, The Darcys, TONSTARTSSBANDHT, and Trust. I highly recommend you check them all out.
Listen to “Klink” by Death Grips
Listen to “Lofticries” by Purity Ring
Listen to “Shaking Down The Old Bones” by The Darcys
This really needs no introduction. Just watch it.
The Weeknd House Of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes Of Silence (all 2011)
What an incredible year for this youngster! Toronto boy Abel Tesfaye went from unknown to massive international success, and not off a single, which is all most music sensations need these days. No, he released THREE full albums in one year. WTF amazing. Nominated for the Polaris Prize, Canada’s highest honour in the music industry, I’m looking forward to more silkysexysmooth R&B from The Weeknd in 2012.
Listen to “Lonely Star”
Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park (2010) and Demons (2011)
After 26 years(!) of making music together, the Cowboy Junkies are at the top of their game. Seriously gorgeous music, incredible storytelling, brilliant musicianship (killer organ in “See You Around”). The Junkies are a secret guilty pleasure of mine, because I think they are (wrongly) categorized as alternative country. But one of the reasons I love where they are now is that they’ve opened up and experimented and their sound is now much more blues and soul-infused. Speak to me!
Listen to “Wrong Piano”
tUnE-yArDs W H O K I L L (2011)
Love love love this woman. Talent and soul just pour out of her, effortlessly.
Listen to “Powa”
Pretty Lights’ Posse (various)
Pretty Lights, a killer dj and producer, is now running his own label. He’s carrying incredible talent: Gramatik’s Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1for funky early Herbaliser-style grooves, Break Science’s Further Than Our Eyes Can See for the dirtier, hiphop-injected side of this group, Michal Menert’s Dreaming Of A Bigger Life for sweeping DJ Shadow-esque voyages. Big up to Dwight in Colorado for turning me on to Pretty Lights years ago!
Listen to “Happiness On A Leash” by Gramatik
Listen to “Move Ya Body” by Break Science
Listen to “Alpha Omega” by Michal Menert
PJ Harvey Let England Shake (2011)
Although nothing will match the raw power of Rid Of Me (still my favourite PJ album), Let England Shake is the most important album PJ Harvey has ever released. A concept album focused on the idiotic results of war, and the decline of her England, this album rightly won the Mercury Prize.
Listen to “The Glorious Land”
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles II (2010)
Both albums are solid end-to-end bangin’ brilliance. As mentioned, I lost my mind at their live show.
Listen to “Baptism”
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BEST STUFF I WATCHED IN 2011
Nina Simone Live At Ronnie Scott’s (2003)
I’ve said before that it’s soul in music that gets me. It doesn’t matter what genre, if the creator poured their soul into it, I’ll be hooked. Nina Simone gushes soul. I hear it in her recordings, and in this video recording of a live performance from 1985, the expressions, the changes in her voice, her movements, how she teases the piano, it’s all so marvellous I feel tears welling up at the same time the corners of my mouth create a smile.
Watch “Mississippi Goddam:”
Touching The Void (2003)
Truly inspiring movie. Even though you know that the characters survive (because they are doing voiceover throughout the movie), it is still unfathomably intense. I believe I’ll remember this movie every single time I’m in a precarious situation.
“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.” – Joe Simpson, talking about his decision to lower himself deeper into the crevasse he has fallen into, alone, with a broken leg, in the Peruvian Andes.
Andrew Bird: Fever Year (2011)
There are people who have creative talent, yet live average 9-5 lives (most of us), then there are those so consumed by their talent, they can do nothing else. One of those people is Andrew Bird, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, and one helluva whistler.
This gorgeously shot documentary, with impeccably recorded audio, follows Bird as he tours relentlessly for 1 full year, struggling with a sickness through nearly all of it. During the day, he’s burning up, feels like death, but at night, he takes the stage, and you wouldn’t know he was less than 100%. He plays through his sickness, he sings and smiles and whistles through his sickness, and gives it 300% every night, night after night, because there is nothing else he’d rather do. An inspiring movie, my pick from 2011’s Int’l Film Fest.
Armed Chinese Troops In Texas! (2011)
Ignore the last 30sec or so (it’s a political campaign for Ron Paul). The message of this vid is spot on.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
A charming film, it takes the premise that life after suicide is the same as this life, only worse. The main characters handle their new “lives” in a variety of ways: a Russian gypsy who sings Gogol Bordello songs, a young man convinced his girlfriend is there & is searching for her, and a hitchhiker (the strikingly attractive Shannyn Sossamon) is convinced she is there by accident and is looking for the People In Charge. A wacky roadtrip flick with heart.
Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)
A difficult but rewarding film to watch, it fully deserves to be shown alongside any of Bacon’s meat and blood drenched paintings. Raw, cruel, terrifying; director John Maybury never attempts to make Bacon likeable. In fact, no one is likeable in this film. Yet the characters, especially Derek Jacobi’s Bacon and Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bacon’s lover & muse, are so engrossing in their flaws, they are irresistible. The tortured artist, depicted to perfection.
Read my thoughts of this absurb, epic, Cannes-winning film here.
Powerful performances. A unique story with a hint of the supernatural. A perfectly executed film with equal parts intensity and subtlety.
Just Keep Going (2011)
APPLAUSE. That’s what this project deserves. He breaks through the silence & gets a few people on the subway to think about their lives and what it means to them, and in turn, what it means to us. Learn more at wearechange.org.
Black Swan (2010)
I finally saw Darren Aronofsky‘s newest film. Holy shit what an incredible movie. The tight shots throughout give a claustrophobic feeling that is only relieved occasionally, to pull back and show just how far Portman’s character is slipping.
Yes, watching a man trapped inside a box for 1hr40min IS recommended. Very suspenseful, masterfully controlled. Not over the top. Restrained believable performance.
Beautiful. Another example of a person who is so absolutely obsessed with their passion that they can do nothing else. This documentary is a piece of art that visually honours and complements the audio art that Gordon Hempton devotes his life to.
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BEST STUFF I READ IN 2011
How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul (2009) by Adrian Shaughnessy
Exactly what the title says, and written with the spunk and attitude that the title implies. Full of practical advice, including interviews with successful designers who chose to forge their own path rather than bend over for their clients.
Preview the book at Amazon here.
Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time (2009), a Barron’s “Icons of Culture” book by Chris Dickie
Read my thoughts here.
Through which I discovered Audrey Kawasaki. Check out her site of gorgeous illustration/painting. I wrote about this rad art mag here.
The Outsider by Albert Camus
It made me laugh at times – the main character, Meursault, speaks with such emotional detachment from his surroundings, his lines occasionally come off as deadpan. Read some of my thoughts and favourite quotes that I posted here.
Here’s an example: “So I fried some eggs, and ate them off the pan. I did without bread as there wasn’t any left, and I couldn’t be bothered going down to buy it.”
Preview the book at Amazon here.
Selling Art Without Galleries: Toward Making A Living From Your Art (2006) by Daniel Grant
Not judging a book by it’s cover (gah! vomiting rainbows!), Grant actually shares some great info. Everything from specific tips on shooting your art for slides, to curating your own show, to juried shows and festivals. There are a ton of tips in here, and although its USA-centric, which means I skipped through the specific lists of associations and festivals, all other advice is pertinent.
Preview the book at Google Books here.
New Media Art (2006) by Mark Tribe + Reena Jana
Well written, comprehensive coverage of new media art, a wide-spanning, difficult subject to condense. “Part of the appeal of (the Internet) is that it is outside the museum-gallery complex, and thus gives artists access to a broad, non-art audience.”
The 4-Hour Workweek (2009) by Timothy Ferriss
Although it sounds ridiculous to work only 4 hours per week, Ferriss lists a variety of ways that it is possible, from reducing the amount of time we spend on email, to how we must remove ourselves as an equation in money making (aka establishing passive income). Like many self-help books, there are aspects of this book that I didn’t agree with, but it was great to read as I started my own business last summer.
Preview the book at Amazon here.
The 99 Percent
Entirely unrelated to the Occupy Movement, Behance‘s 99% bases their name off Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”
At 99%, they research and post articles that can push us through the actual creative process, after the initial inspiration, aka the most difficult but most necessary part of getting anything done.
Check out their online content here.
World Changing: A User’s Guide For The 21st Century (2011), edited by Alex Steffen
I don’t like the subtitle – I don’t see this as a user’s guide in the way that you need a guide for your TV. This is instead an indispensable collection of information, it is a resource, and at 600 pages, it is an encyclopedia. Calling it a user’s guide is disrespectful.
The book describes what people and organizations are doing around the world to efficiently and environmentally handle the crazy changes that are happening in this world that is our home. The major sections are Shelter, Cities, Community, Business, Politics, and Planet, with a ton of subchapters within each. Inspiring.
For more info go to the World Changing site.
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RECAP OF GOALS FROM 2011
- Redesign formatnoauto.com to professionally promote my photography.
I made some significant changes to my site formatnoauto.com, cleaned it up and added an animated gallery to slide through a variety of my work (drawing, photos, design), but I didn’t do a complete redesign nor migrate to WordPress. I made the effort, and what I learned in the process is huge: I’m not a programmer. Nor do I want to be.
It’s critical to my success to be able to admit where I do not have skill (nor interest), and instead of banging my head on walls of PHP and MySQL, leave it to the talented folks out there who want to and can do that work. Outsourcing. That frees me up to focus on the stuff I am passionate about and have talent in.
- Become independently successful, wealthy, and famous as a photographer and artist.
Hmmm. Well, I officially started working independently in May. So I accomplished that. And I’m successful enough to be paying rent, eating good food, and enjoying life. So that’s a win, too. But wealthy & famous? Not yet – let’s see what’s in store for 2012..!
- Volunteer to walk dogs for the SPCA and/or the Animal Shelter.
I contacted both organizations, and to my surprise, they have more than enough dog walkers! Instead of walking my furry friends, I started volunteering for Quest Food Exchange.
- And my overall intention for the 2011 was: to be honest.
And hells yes, this I can say I accomplished this with a resounding YES.
It hasn’t been easy. Being honest, to me, means more than just avoiding lying. It means telling people what you feel, what you believe, even if it will ruffle their feathers. Even if it might hurt someone you love.
Which is especially difficult for me. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt my loved ones. But I realized that if that meant not being honest, if it meant not saying things that I think you might not want to hear, I’m actually doing more harm than good.
For example, if I think that you’ve made a bad career or relationship decision, by not saying anything, you might be missing out on a helpful alternative viewpoint on your decision. Now, if I am brutally honest and offer my perspective, without fear of hurting your feelings, my honesty could help you in the long run. I know, because I have huge respect for those of you who are unafraid to give me your opinions on my life. Even if I’m pissed off at you initially for saying something I don’t want to hear or don’t agree with, if it comes from a genuine place of caring, I end up loving you for your honesty in the end.
So if I’ve hurt you with my honesty this year, I’m sorry because I don’t do it to be cruel, I say what I say and act how I act out of love and respect. I hope that you can see this, and extend the same love and respect to me. Don’t be afraid of being honest with me. I’m a sensitive fellow, but my heart is fucking huge and I can take it!
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GOALS FOR 2012
- Learn ballroom dance.
That’s right: partner dancing! It’s sexy, it’s classy, it’s fun! And hey! You get to dance with someone! Why do we only do it at weddings or other formal events (and then do it badly)? I say it’s time to break out of this, time to bring partner/ballroom dance back. I’m looking into some swing classes that start in the new year, though I’m open to salsa too. And this doesn’t mean we need to start listening to jive or salsa, no not at all. I plan on busting it out at dupstep nights. Ladies, are you ready?
- Deepen my involvement with music and art events.
My experience at POP Montreal was so powerful and positive that I flew home knowing that I had a future in the music and art industry beyond photography. I am going to organize & operate events and festivals so I can bring to people what POP Montreal brought to me. My new position as Olio Festival’s Assistant Operations Manager kickstarts this. I’m going to do everything I can to make this year’s Olio it’s best yet. And beyond this? I am going to continue to push myself in how I can fully utilize my creativity and passion to manifest an art + music revolution!
- Expand my photography skills.
I love photography. I love everything about it: capturing a moment in a way, just so, just how I see it, to share with you. I love the range of possibilities, from candid snapshots to highly elaborate setups. I even love the techy side of it (as any of you who have been in a conversation about lenses, or f stops, or full frame vs cropped sensor bodies will know).
And as much as I love event photography and see myself doing it well into my last days, I’m ready to push into new possibilities with my talents. I’m in search of a photographer or a studio that will take me on as an assistant in portrait/product shooting. I am ready to learn lighting, modelling, and people/product-specific post-production. If you have any suggestions, let me know – thanks!
- My main focus for 2012: Personal work.
There are a lot of great things I’ve figured out over the years: my passion for music and the arts. Total love and respect and importance of spending quality time with my friends and family. The necessity of an occasional single malt scotch and cigar.
But there are some things I haven’t figured out. Some are personal, some are interpersonal, such as relationship issues. These haven’t been figured out because I’ve never given myself the time to properly address them.
So I’ve made a decision: the time is now. Things are going incredibly well for me; I’m the only thing holding myself back from truly riding this wave of progress and breaking through old patterns and habits. This means facing these issues and patterns head-on. I’ve already begun the process. I’m working with a great, no-holds-barred counsellor for the 1st time in my life, and am committed to working on myself hardcore for a solid six months, until late June.
I know that personal work is a lifelong process, but sometimes you need to focus on it like it’s a project with a due date. Like a final paper. Or client’s assignment. Or moving house. Or packing for a trip.
That’s how I see this time in my life: it’s like I’m starting a journey at the end of June. I’ve done a lot of research and prep and planning and work to get there, but now I’m taking off in six months and there’s no more time to procrastinate. Either I do the work now, or I’ll miss my plane. So I have chosen these 1st six months of 2012 as my time to act, to get some serious work done. So if you see me sitting in cafes around town reading self help books, go ahead and chuckle. At least come in and buy me a muffin.
Return to menu, please
Thank You And All The Best To You In 2012
To continue on what I started with, blessings to all the beautiful (inside & out) people who bring smiles to my face and warmth to my heart. I truly feel that warmth, and the reverberating energy shooting out to my fingertips and toetips when I connect with you. I appreciate anything that keeps us connected, whether you are near or far, whether it’s texts, emails, messages, sharing dinners, engaging in live music or art. You are everything to me.
The last couple months of 2011 have been truly unbelievable. I haven’t felt this positive or energized in years. Literally. My early 30s weren’t easy. Internally I’ve struggled with a lot, and it’s stuff I rarely share. So to all of you who have stuck with me, respected me, been patient with me, and offered your advice, thank you. Your loyalty and friendship will be rewarded. You know that. I’m good to the people who are good to me.
Love, my friends. It’s love. Be true to yourself, spend as much time as possible doing and seeing and kissing and hugging and dancing and listening and sharing the things you love with the people you love. Beyond this, there is nothing. Beyond this is a bunch of bullshit that’s just shoved at us to confuse us into a depressing, rewardless pursuit for more money, more possessions, and stuff that takes us away from our hearts. Don’t get caught up in that bullshit. Get caught up in the loves in your life.
2011 is done. The past is gone. 2012 is here, it’s all about living in THE MOMENT to build for the future. Take stock of your life. Love those who deserve your love. Be true to yourself, believe in yourself, and go for everything that inspires you. Follow your passions: art, music, film, athletics, physical passion, spiritual passion, intellectual passion. Live it, live large, my friends & family!
Looking forward to sharing 2012 with you, Ash
Me & Jason Statler starting 2012 off right! Polar Bear Swim in the freezing cold ocean, English Bay, Vancouver BC, Jan 1 2012