nice little rap show

soso with Rob Crooks, Nestor Wynrush & Lonnie Ce

Thursday, April 23, 2015
The Cavern, Winnipeg

soso accompanied by Maybe Smith and economics
with Nestor Wynrush, Rob Crooks & Chaps

Friday, May 22, 2015
Amigos Cantina, Saskatoon

 

For my first solo show in Saskatoon in more than a year, I have solicited the contributions of venerable duo Maybe Smith and economics. This has been my favourite incarnation of my live show with reverby guitars, beats, turntable noises and other electronic gadgetry. I’m also bringing in two Winnipeg artists who I greatly admire: Nestor Wynrush and Rob Crooks. Chaps will be flipping records to get us all fired up.

 

 

 


Born in Winnipeg, and raised in Mississauga, Nestor Wynrush taps into his West Indian roots. His music is personal, sincere and unvarnished. It’s storytelling music informed by love, sorrow, and the overall immigrant experience in Canada. His live performances are nothing short of cathartic. In 2009, we worked together on the release of his album Trinnipeg !78. It’s a project I am proud to have been connected to and I’m pleased to say that he has an incredible new record coming out soon.

 


Rob Crooks (real name) makes unconventional hip hop music. Despite his credentials as a battle mc, within the ultra conservative rap genre, Crooks use of live electronics, rapping and singing puts him in weirdo territory. By any other standard however, his creative hybrid approach is super fresh. Download his newest project for free!

 

Here to There

I’ve contributed a nice little lithograph to Access Gallery‘s annual fundraiser auction. This year they are raising money for a truly innovative and potentially insane artist residency. 23 Days at Sea will enable selected artists to book passage aboard a cargo ship and sail across the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver to Busan, Korea and Shanghai, China. Artists will be considered “in residence” for the twenty-three days aboard the vessel. Here are the details:

Here to There: Access’ Annual Auction Fundraiser
Works on view November 8-15, 2014
Preview night, Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7:00 pm
Auction evening Saturday, November 15, 2014, 7:00 pm
Preview the works here: www.auction.accessgallery.ca
Tickets: $20 at the door. Members Free

economics album release party

Economics is celebrating the release of his upcoming album, THE WASTES, at Amigos on October 25th. For the first time, Economics will be performing as a full band with many special guests who also appear on the album, including Maybe Smith, yours truly and The Karpinka Brothers!

Screening @ Videofag

I’m taking part in Unscene: “A pleasantly amorphous screening of work from the real centre of Canada (if you don’t include the Maritimes),” curated by Amber Christensen.

Saturday June 28th, 8pm
@ Videofag
187 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, Ontario

co-sponsored by Videofag, Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative and PAVED Arts.

The Framework Series

Troy Gronsdahl, Framework Series

The Framework Series is a conceptually-based performative sculpture. It is assembled by curatorial staff or a designate using an ambiguous sketch for reference and according to the following instructions:

Using the materials provided, compose a framework based on the diagram. Trust your hand. Using a hot, dry iron, remove the creases from a tissue. Drape it over one component of the structure in the most pleasing manner. Feel free to make small adjustments to the structure if it makes sense. It only has to look nice. Place the work in an obtrusive or unobtrusive space in proximity to other works. The framework performs best under flat white light. Spotlights should be avoided whenever practical to do so.

The structures are prone to collapse; if this occurs during the exhibition, the components may lay on the floor. The structure should be reassembled prior to opening each day and documented with photography. The diagram and instructions may be exhibited with the sculptural work.

Fundraiser

The Champagne Trio® is coming together to delight your ear holes and uplift your spirits! Join yours truly with Chaps and Maybe Smith on December 5th at Sushiro Sushi Bar for a delicious knock off Japadog and an icy cold beer. All proceeds go to the Canadian Red Cross to help out the Philippines.

Interview with Verb Magazine (CA)

Not For Nothing: soso mines personal and family histories for meaning on his latest record by Alex J. MacPherson

Not For Nothing is the latest record from Troy Gronsdahl, a Saskatoon-based artist and curator who makes hip hop music under the name soso. Conceived as a catalogue of personal and family histories, Not For Nothing is an attempt to assess the present in terms of the past. Drawing on moments both profound and banal, Gronsdahl paints a vivid picture of his childhood and adolescence that is as earnest as it is compelling. Gronsdahl has always been an unorthodox hip hop artist, and Not For Nothing casts his disarmingly sincere vocals against a sombre tapestry of atmospheric sounds and cardiac drums. I caught up with Gronsdahl to learn more about Not For Nothing and his notion of radical sincerity.

Alex J. MacPherson: You’ve written about how your last record demonstrated that what we call the music industry was an illusion, or at least not what you expected it to be. It feels like this record is a response to that, and a new way of looking at your music.

Troy Gronsdahl: I feel like I have a more mature perspective on that than I used to have. It can be easy to get caught up in certain ideas about what it means to achieve success as a musician and what a music career should look like. In the past few years I’ve given that more thought and arrived at a place that works for me. I feel like I can have a music practice and I can make art and I can have a job, and those things don’t have to compete with each other for my attention; they can all complement each other in some way.

AJM: And by stripping away all the excess you’re able to write an intensely personal record.

TG: I was sort of thinking about my position in the independent hip hop landscape, and I feel like I’ve established myself through this radical sincerity. When I was thinking about hip hop when I was younger a lot of it was about posturing. It was very macho. I liked the idea that sincerity could be radical in some ways, so I try to write from a personal place and use my experiences as a starting point for writing my songs. It’s a way for me to understand my experiences and place myself in the world.

AJM: It seems that Not For Nothing is an attempt to examine your past and prove that life is not for nothing, that it actually matters.

TG: I think that’s fair because it’s searching for meaning, not only on the cosmic scale but also on the micro scale. The experiences we have, the failures, there’s a hope that it’s not for nothing. It is easy to be disillusioned about certain things. I guess I’m trying to be reflective and maybe hope that it was not for nothing, that some growth comes out of setbacks and you learn through disappointment.

AJM: You’ve written that “there are no real hooks” on the record, yet the beats seem to match up with the songs – tension, unresolved figures, stress.

TG: I worked with a producer named Maki. He currently lives in Kamloops and we finished the record together in Victoria. I’ve known him for quite a long time and I really respect his work. He makes these brooding atmospheric beats that I think really complement what I was thinking about for this album – he would share beats with me and it was more of a process of writing to certain songs, sort of feeling which ones would work the best. In some respects, it was me responding to the beats that he was sending me, picking ones that resonated with me or ones that harmonized with the lyrics I was working with

AJM: I’m curious how you feel about the idea that life is not for nothing now, after making the album.

TG: It was kind of cathartic, I think. Somehow putting words to this experience and naming it in some way, or even alluding to it, had given me sort of a place to move forward from. I guess maybe that’s the cathartic moment with the album. It’s something you can work with then. Sort of like once you can articulate that there’s something and you don’t know what it is, it gives you a place to move from.

Not for Nothing, Pop Revue Express

Un peu comme celle de Buck 65, la musque de Soso à autant à voir avec le folk, l’electro qu’avec le rap ; et c’est ce qui fait tout son charme et sa particularité.
Très habitées, les 11 chansons qui figurent sur “Not for Nothing” renvoient à des images de campagne perdue, évocant même par moment des ambiances de film fantastique ou de western, avec ces boucles lancinantes et cette voix étrange et affectée du chanteur, presque triste, mais qui fonctionne parfaitement et qui colle bien aux sonorités et aux musiques mises en place par Soso : beats lents, bass lourde, piano triste, sonorités électroniques, arpèges de guitares fantomatiques.
Sorti sur label auvergnat Kütu Folk, l’album de ce producteur  canadien est une vraie réussite, un disque très beau, très intimiste, très touchant.

[8/10]

http://poprevuexpress.blogspot.ca/2013/08/soso-not-for-nothing.html

Not for Nothing, Dead Magazine

Sechs Jahre sind seit „Tinfoil On The Windows“ vergangen. Sechs Jahre, in denen es insgesamt sehr still um den kanadischen Künstler wurde. Denkbar konsequent tritt dieser nun ein – wenn man das so betiteln mag – Comeback der ruhigen Art an, ein grandioses obendrein.

„Not For Nothing“ wirkt in seiner Gänze wie eine durch elf Tracks geformte Stille. Behutsam nimmt Soso seine Hörer an die Hand und führt diese mit seinen ruhig artikulierten und ebenso poetischen Worten durch glasklare Welten. Wunderschöne Landschaften sind es, welche man durchquert.

Die außergewöhnliche Schönheit erlangen die Songs natürlich auch durch Makis makellosen Produktionen. Ihm gelingt es, die Emotionen an ihre äußersten Grenzen zu treiben ohne jemals in konturenlosen Kitsch abzudriften. Dank dieses Spagats ist die Aufmerksam- und Empfindsamkeit der Hörer durchweg gewährleistet.

Den nötigen Respekt den Produktionen gegenüber erweist auch Soso selbst. So hört man ihn häufig nur in der ersten Hälfte vieler Songs und die Musik den restlichen Rahmen für sich selbst sprechend ausfüllen.

Bei „Not For Nothing“ kamen zwei Künstler zusammen, die zur wortlosen Verständigung fähig waren und es vermochten, sich breitflächig ausfüllend zu ergänzen um am Ende einen der hochkarätigsten Outputs des Jahres hervorzubringen.

– Markus Matt, Dead Magazine

Not for Nothing, 3 Million Cheers (JP)

寂寥感あふれるヒップホップ。ポエトリー・リーディングなラップで、Arab Strap っぽい感じ。

物悲しさは主としてバックトラックによって醸し出されている。きれいで染み入る音、単体のポストロックとしても聴き込めるクオリティ。
その上に重なるポエトリー・ラップは、トラックとは別々のものとして流れているように聞こえる。「歌」のように一体的に噛み合ってる感じがしない。かと いってバラバラというわけでもなく、もっと上位のレベルで相互作用しているような。リズムやトーンといったところとは違った部分での作用。あるいは、抑制 的な単独モノローグが終わったあとにうっすら昂揚するメロディが静寂から立ち上がって引き継がれる、っていうのとか。
全体的に「これとこれがこう組み合わされるのかー」っていう感銘がいろいろある。

スピーキングと音楽の関係に、映画のような雰囲気あるかも。

 

 

Troy Gronsdahl によるユニット。カナダのサスカトゥーンという地方都市を拠点にしている。ヴィジュアル・アーティストとしても活動しているとのこと。

Not for Nothing, Christophe (FR)

“SOSO” Sorti le 10 juin dernier voici donc “Not For Nothing”, album, très attendu par le petit noyau de fans Soso a le mot juste, sobre et beau du hip hop lent des textes fort qui ne sont pas là pour rien …

“Not for nothing” et notre petit canadien,discrète icône de l’alt rap, à sa grande et juste valeur. Soso réalise la parfaite toile de fond, lumineuse et triste, pour porter ses mots. Des mots sous forme de chant ou rap auxquels la production apporte la juste dose de beats, de cordes et de sons minéraux, délicate et onirique, mélodies rêveuses et éthérées et d’ambiances tristes,il n’est donc pas venu pour rien voici un lien en dessous où l’album est a écouter avec rien dans votre assiette, juste un casque sur les feuilles de choux…

Christophe, August 17, 2013

soso – Not for Nothing

soso Not for Nothing soso Not for Nothing soso Not for Nothing soso Not for Nothing

soso Not for Nothing

On the title track of his fifth release, soso wonders aloud: all this for what?

In a calm, resolute voice the Canadian rapper grapples with “seemingly obvious but elusive truths.” He wanted to write a record about god, the hunger for myth, benign cruelty, and acceptance. He wanted to explore the complexity of life through an assemblage of personal reflection, contradiction, and observation. I can’t put my finger on it, not to stop the bleeding, not to tie a perfect bow… (Pretty as a picture)

This is a record about trying to figure shit out. It’s not pretentious, but it is edging rap lyrics into somewhat unfamiliar territory. It is contemplative. There is yearning. There is vulnerability and frustration. What is the distance between resignation and surrender? (If I ever knew you, I don’t know you now)

soso is an unorthodox hip hop artist best known for songs that explore family and social histories, personal experience, and place. His latest album is a culmination of the creative strides he has made over the past decade. The writing is more wordy than previous efforts and is laced with idioms, double negatives, and nuance. There are moments of off-kilter crooning. It’s a bit obtuse, but certainly sincere.

The album was produced by indie hip hop stalwart and long time collaborator, Maki. Best known for his melodic, brooding sample arrangements and a strong no-nonsense drum program, Maki has been quietly killing shit from his desert valley home in western Canada. After a string of 7″ releases on European bespoke labels Luana and MISM, he returns to where it all began. It is a homecoming of sorts. Embracing obscure shades of progressive rock, folk and rap sensibilities, he has created the perfect backdrop for soso’s best moments. Not for Nothing is forthright, aching, haunting.

I will listen for your voice in every empty cup. (The blushing bride)

Track Listing

01. The wait
02. Things started out so pretty
03. Pretty as a picture
04. The rain barrel
05. If I ever knew you, I don’t know you now
06. Choke
07. The extermination of a raccoon, first part (Revelation)
08. The extermination of a raccoon, second part (Epiphany)
09. The blushing bride
10. Not for nothing
11. A map of all the constellations I can see from my kitchen window

Not for Nothing, Freezeec (FR)

J’ai découvert Soso, figure du rap indé canadien, avec l’album Tenth Street And Clarence sortie en 2005, et ce fût une véritable claque pour moi ! Ce rap minimaliste ou intimiste avec ce penchant mélancolique inspiré des hivers canadien me parlait ! Depuis cet album je n’ai pas lâché les albums de Soso, plaçant même l’artiste dans mes artistes fétiches.

Malheureusement il avait un peu disparu de la circulation ces dernières années, mais voilà qu’il y a quelques mois il lâche un teaser annonçant un nouvel album.

Continue reading “Not for Nothing, Freezeec (FR)”

Not for Nothing, Hartzine (FR)

Icône très discret de l’indie rap blanc post-anticon, le canadien Soso  inventa au début des années 2000 avec son premier album Birtday Song une manière originale et toute singulière de faire « hip-hop »; une sorte de folk-rap brumeux et ascétique teinté de références sonores à sa contrée natale – la province du Saskatchewan – le tout habillé d’un spoken word toujours introspectif mais jamais prétentieux. Soso n’avait pas totalement disparu de nos têtes malgré sa longue absence discographique et ce  grâce notamment à l’excellent travail du label Kütu Folk qui, en 2010, eu la bonne idée de rééditer son dernier album, Tinfoil on the Windows (lire), initialement paru en 2007 et de le faire jouer l’année suivante aux transmusicales dans le cadre de leur collaboration avec le festival rennais. Il semblerait que cette coopération ait porté ses fruits puisque sort aujourd’hui via la structure Clermontoise,  Not for Nothing,  son 5ème album…

Hartzine

Not for Nothing, SURL Magazine (FR)

Quand une amie m’a demandé « Tu connais l’artiste Soso ? », je ne me doutais pas encore de ce qui manquait à ma vie. De son vrai nom Troy Gronsdahl, Soso est un artiste canadien, révélé lors des Trans-musicales de Rennes. Bien qu’inconnu à mon répertoire, l’artiste n’en est pas à son premier coup d’essai puisqu’il sortira lundi 10 juin son cinquième album Not for Nothing.

Continue reading “Not for Nothing, SURL Magazine (FR)”

Not for Nothing, Exclaim

Soso makes sad, depressing music, and nothing much has changed in the six years since his last solo album, Tinfoil on the Windows. On his fifth solo record, Soso asks, “What is it all for?” touching upon topics of loss, loneliness and a reluctance to accept change. Oh, and also pesky but cute baby raccoons. His lyrics are heartfelt and honest, rhyming as often as not, and his delivery is much more spoken word than traditional rap flow, although he does attempt earnest, off-kilter crooning on “The Blushing Bride” and the title track. With long stretches of songs without words, the music is equally as important and Maki’s beautifully melancholy production is a perfect match for Soso’s sorrowful subject matter. The downtempo beats are intricately crafted, layered with hard-hitting drums and a preference for piano, violin and acoustic guitar — the simple guitar progression and accompanying violin and twangy guitar on “The Extermination of a Raccoon, Second Part (Epiphany)” is an album highlight. Like Buck 65, Soso’s style is rooted in hip -hop, but it’s just a starting point to explore music and story. Those looking for unique, beat-based music with heart would do well to check out Not For Nothing.

Thomas Quinlan

Not for Nothing, Gaîté Live (FR)

On reconnaît sans mal un album de Soso, jeune musicien originaire de Saskatoon au Canada, ayant déjà semé derrière lui une poignée de petits disques visionnaires, parus pour la plupart sur son propre label, Clothes Horses Records. Cela tient d’abord à cette atmosphère qui, grâce en particulier au soin apporté à la production, constitue un des principaux signes distinctifs du travail de Troy Gronsdahl (le véritable nom du garçon). Cela résulte ensuite de cette très louable ouverture d’esprit qui lui permet de mêler dans un même geste post-rock contemplatif, soul diaphane et hip-hop patraque. Cela s’explique encore par un travail remarquable sur les mélodies, les arrangements et les guitares.

Continue reading “Not for Nothing, Gaîté Live (FR)”

Not for Nothing, Fake For Real (FR)

Depuis 2007 et son dernier véritable album, Tinfoil on the Windows, on pensait que soso avait disparu avec Clothes Horse, son label. Il y avait bien eu All They Found was Water at the Bottom of the Sea, en 2009, un disque sorti en commun avec DJ Kutdown, mais cela n’avait été qu’un projet instrumental sans lendemain, disponible uniquement chez les fétichistes japonais de Hue Records. En 2013, cependant, soso est toujours là. Comme d’autres artistes importants de la vague rap indé, il a trouvé refuge chez l’un des rares labels à entretenir encore la flamme, en l’occurence, ici, le Endemik Music de Scott Da Ros.

Continue reading “Not for Nothing, Fake For Real (FR)”

More of the Same (Installation)

Rooted in a conceptual art tradition, More of the same is a text-based project developed in response to the manifesto Refus Global. Written by French-Canadian artist, Paul-Émile Borduas and published in 1948, Refus Global called for a rejection of stifling conservative values and is considered a contributing factor for the Quiet Revolution. A number of Québécois intellectuals and artists signed the manifesto including members of the abstract painting movement, Les Automatistes. The manuscript has since become part of the Canadian art canon.

The manifesto is intriguing. The document is earnest; from an admittedly privileged contemporary perspective, it now seems almost quaint. Yet the author’s courage and sincerity is admirable. Reading the English language translation, the complications of translation across languages and spans of time are striking:

“Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries!”

Taking Borduas’ urgent appeal at face value, I created a suite of letterpress prints to fulfill the challenge issued by the manifesto. The exhibition includes a series of paper works, objects and ephemera related to the letterpress printing process. With a dry wit, More of the same considers ideas closely related to art and the creative process. The viewer is invited to reconcile expectation and promise with the quizzical artworks. Make way for magic! Make way for objective mysteries!

The Gallery At Frances Morrison Library
November 22 – December 27, 2012
Saskatoon, SK

 

Not for Nothing

In October 2012, I traveled to Vancouver, BC for a week of family, good food, art and music. I finished the week in Victoria with an intensive recording and production session with my collaborator, Maki. This is a single entry rap diary.

—-

I have just awoken from an impromptu post-dinner nap on the floor of Maki’s bedroom studio in Victoria, BC. I have been taking full advantage of lunch and dinner breaks gorging myself at some of the must-eat restaurants in the city — wood fired pizza from Prima Strata, pulled pork and deep fried mac and cheese from Pig, chicken liver pate from Stage, and a fish taco AND fish and chips from the wharf-side spot, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Unadulterated gluttony in conjunction with long sessions of in-studio inactivity (lots of sitting, pacing, thoughtful listening) have been wrecking havoc on my energy level. At any rate, I don’t think Maki noticed I had dozed off as he has been engrossed with a bass line for the past hour or so. We are entering our second day of recording melodies, moving bits around, dropping snares, re-ordering kicks and the like. It’s kind of a tedious process but absolutely essential. We review our progress periodically and are reinvigorated. The coffee and other caffeinated beverages also help.

The new record has been taking shape over some time. The earliest of tracks were written upwards of four years ago with the newest material finished just days before recording. I was hoping to conjure a sweeping epic exploring the human experience — things about god, the hunger for myth, benign cruelty, acceptance. Of course songs about love and personal failure have inevitably found their way into the mix diluting an otherwise brilliant opus into more of the same old soso. Next record I guess.

Following up on Tinfoil on the Windows has been a bit of a challenge for me. The production was really quite something. Maybe Smith scored a special record of such scope I was unsure how I could ever make another “regular” record. At the same time, however, I’ve found new optimism in a less goal-orientated music making process. Gone are the fool-hardy notions of independent success through well-penned one sheets, radio service, key markets, media campaigns, and other nonsense. If the Canadian independent hip hop scene scratched out a niche in its formative stages through innovation and determination, it had been being quickly undermined by the false promise of the “music industry.” I was not immune to the BS. I had poured everything into my last album and as the fall of 2007 gave way to the winter of 2008, I was feeling downright burnt out and slightly bitter. I was someone with absolutely nothing to lose and I felt that I had somehow lost. Looking back, it was the most incredible time in my young life and I found a way to feel like I had been wrong done by.

Fast forward to the uncomfortable carpeted floor of Maki’s home studio. I am listening to him hone his beats with a weird feeling of pride. Maki has been dj-ing, making beats and organizing shows since the early nineties. In fact, he promoted a show on my first Canadian tour (I was tagging along with my Saskatoon rap pals on a tour with Awol One and Busdriver). Over dinner, Maki confessed that he  slapped some kid in the face for making disparaging remarks about my music. Good to know your rap homies have your back. Though I had worked with Maki in the past, a full length project had never really been in the cards due in no small part to my sluggish work pace and the geographical distance that separated us. The timing was right for this record though and after a couple of years of starting and stopping, sending beats and vocals back and forth, we finally reached something that had the makings of an album.

And it’s a great album if I do say so myself. Maki has hit his stride. Blending his brooding melodic sample arrangements with a strong no-nonsense drum program, he has created a cohesive collection of beats for this record. The writing is more wordy than my previous efforts and I’ve enjoyed playing with idioms, double negatives and other nuances of the English language. There’s a bit of off kilter crooning. It’s a bit dense at times and, of course, there are no real hooks. I think it’s a nice progression. The record is called Not for Nothing. The details of the release haven’t been entirely resolved but should be in place in the next couple of months.

 

Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre

Square Pegs is Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre’s fifth annual screening of video art in Kingston’s Market Square. Modern Fuel has partnered with AKA Gallery to exhibit the experimental vanguard of film and video. AKA is contributing a selection of works from the Prairies and Modern Fuel is showcasing work from Kingston and Eastern Ontario.

Square Pegs
August 15, 2012
Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre
Kingston, Ontario

MoSo Festival, 2012

June 16, 2012
MOSO Festival
Broadway Theatre
Saskatoon, SK
w/ Shuyler Jansen & Damien Jurado

MoSoFest is Saskatoon’s premiere music festival, which features over 50 artists and musicians. Having captured both local and national attention, MoSo is aiming to become one of western Canada’s most promising up-and-coming festivals.

Transmusicale Tour Diary

The following is a recount of my experiences at Les Transmusicales de Rennes, France. Originally published by my homies at Ominocity.com, I’ve compiled the series for equal parts posterity and vanity.

—- Part 1 —-

Maybe Smith and I spent the past couple weeks crafting our set and practicing comical French phrases. I’m hoping to string together charming, semi-coherent sentences using my rudimentary high school French vocabulary. Colin is threatening to bring out his creeping Quebecois jargon, but I expect he’ll be nothing short of diplomatic.

An uneventful flight to Toronto and one predictable, expensive and kinda shitty meal in the airport later and we’re airborne once again. I capitalized on a temporarily unsupervised drink cart parked dangerously close to my seat. With stealth and cunning beguiling my otherwise gentile appearance I slipped two little plastic bottles of red wine into my storage pouch. I’m a rapper. We steal things. While a plane load of sleepy travellers nodded off, I sipped from one slightly pathetic little plastic bottle of wine and then another as I watched a Will Ferrel movie about a drunk who’s life goes to shit. (Movies are so fake.)

“France is beautiful,” our driver, and trumpet player, Julien quips. Piloting a tour van through a particularly unattractive area in the city of Renne, we eventually find our way to the venue, Aire Libre. A proper concert venue, the space is ballin’ hard with three chandeliers and almost too much red velvet. I left a nauseous, post vomiting Maybe Smith in the the hostel style lodging just steps away from the venue to meet one friendly French musician after another and tour the new home I will share with twenty of my new best friends. Kütu Folk has pulled together an ambitious one week program of collaborations and rehearsals with members of its roster culminating in soso performances on Saturday and Sunday (that’s what I’m telling everyone at home anyway).

I’m amped up and exhausted. No sleep yet. I need to brush my teeth.

Communal meal at 7pm. A bien tot.

—- Part 2 —-

Kütu Folk is like the little label that could. They’ve parlayed a series of limited edition, hand sewn releases into major European distribution,  mainstream press coverage and an unprecedented week long run at the Transmusicale Festival. They’ve arranged for exclusive use of the performance space for the week, including a full service kitchen, a staff of audio and light technicians, and have assembled a cast of eighteen or twenty musicians for a collaborative set featuring songs from each of the participating bands. This extraordinary feat of organization requires a bit of strict scheduling and well-meaning ball busting. We’ve spent a couple of very long and weary days of rehearsal, performing for school children, festival organizers, invited media. My sweaty pits have been diligently documented by a hired photographer who has been shooting hours and hours of video and still photography. There is one particularly unflattering picture of me in the local paper bellowing out gang vocals. In the meantime, however, we’ve sorted out a lovely live interpretation of Hungover for Three Days Straight with Hospital Ships, Maybe Smith, and the Delano Orchestra. They also brought in a small string section, I assume, to make my music sound more credible. It’s a very sweet rendition.

The venue, though perfectly equipped and staffed with the most hospitable folks I’ve met, is a bit out of the way. During short breaks from the dark (and smoky) performance space, we’ve explored the immediate area on foot — a neat little suburban development located adjacent to the Rennes airport. After two very full days of rehearsal, Colin and I happily took the opportunity to bus into the city centre with our new pals, Taylor Holenbeck from Hospital Ships and Jonus and Sylvie of Evening Hymns. We gawked at cathedrals and ate churros in the square, returning in time for one more pre-show rehearsal.

—- Part 3 —-

The first few days here felt like I was in a performing arts school, like the movie Fame, or the famous school in New York where Tupac honed his acting chops. After consecutive days of twelve hour rehearsals, the first show was nothing short of cathartic. The cast was excited and there was a real camaraderie developing. We celebrated into the wee hours, drinking and dancing to Motown classics. The following day everyone was physically drained and more haggard looking than usual. Our performance that night suffered as well — I counted at least a few cringe worthy fuck ups and technical problems. I was the first to take the stage and I think my less than elegant entrance set the tone for the evening. Trying to pick my way through a maze of guitars, pedals, stands and other gear, I tripped over a monitor and staggered into centre stage in a hilarious, slap stick kinda way. The crowd applauded. Post show commiseration evolved into more revelry. I invented what became the official drink of the festival — a cup of beer foam mixed with Irish whiskey. I call it the parfait parfait.

—- Part 4 —-

We made amends for Thursday’s spotty performance with a perfect performance on Friday. Once again the musicians were in a celebratory mood and the party moved to an offsite festival venue. With a full day of scheduled rehearsals, sound check and performances, Colin and I (and my petite ami, Carleigh, who just arrived) decided to turn in and catch up on some desperately needed sleep.

The novelty of living and working with 20-odd artists in such close proximity is beginning to wear a bit thin. The house is ripening and the air is getting thick from the humidity of ten thousand showers, sour towels and cigarette smoke. An uninterrupted night’s sleep is impossible with the constant banging of doors, drunk giggling musicians, and angry outbursts from the most senior of artists (the otherwise affable and incredibly versatile drummer, P). Needless to say, the fake enthusiasm is getting difficult for old soso to maintain. Colin and I dragged our extremely tired bodies out of bed for a scheduled 11am rehearsal, first postponed for another band, and again for piano tuning (do pianos really need to be tuned everyday? Jesus Christ). We had just enough time to plug in our gear, figure out which guitar to use and run through two and a half songs when we were abruptly stopped so some skinny teen hipster band who I haven’t met could sound check. I don’t care if they’re the nicest teenagers in France. Colin and I hate them and their moustaches look stupid.

As I write down these last few bitchy remarks, one of the organizers passes me an envelope stuffed with euros. My mood has improved considerably. Sound check is at 3!

—- Part 5 —-

All the anxiety that accumulated over the day was alleviated during the the show. The venue was filled to capacity and I think my clumsy French was sufficiently charming. French audiences seem particularly well suited to my slow, melodic songs — they are respectful, engaged and seem genuinely interested in music. Getting them to jump around or clap along to a song is a bit more of a challenge but I’ll take a patient and curious listener over a rowdy crowd any day. I inadvertently did an encore fake out when I walked back on stage to grab my jacket. I’ll have to remember that trick. I had a quick interview with a French journalist between sets and took the stage for the finale. I channeled Band Swap type energy into our Kütu group set, bruising my thigh with an over enthusiastic sleigh bell performance (rookie mistake). Champagne and still more beers followed; the venue was incredibly hospitable. We were spoiled all week with quiche and roast chicken and lamb and gâteau aux poires and the most delicious cheeses and breads. I’m gonna miss this place.

Sunday was our last scheduled performance. The collective energy was pretty low following the success of our previous evening. I was not expecting much from the show and was pleasantly surprised by another great turnout. I did my best to grind out a meaningful performance. A couple of small fuck ups thankfully went unnoticed. Colin really killed it. We mingled with fans after the show and signed a few autographs. I made amends with the aforementioned band (they are very, very nice). We sold out of my CD at the merch table. I said farewell to most of my new music pals and retired to my little suite in the attic feeling content and very proud.

The next morning I said my final adieu to the few staff people still kicking around and the primary Kütu organizer, Alex. He gave me a copy of the popular French daily, Libération–in the festival recap I received props for the best performance in the festival. Incroyable!

I’d like to thank my homie, Maybe Smith, for lending me music cred and patiently enduring the first world hardships of tour. I’d like to thank all my new pals at Kütu Folk, the skilled and friendly cast of musicians, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board who offset my travel expenses through their appropriately named Travel Grant program. Merci beaucoup!

 

Les Transmusicales Music Festival

I’ve been invited to join my label-mates at the ambitious and adorable imprint, Kutu Folk at Les Transmusicales de Rennes. This is a prestigious music festival held annually in Rennes, France. Over the course of a week, I will be working and performing with the band, interpreting some of my material. I will be accompanied by my tour pal and long time collaborator, Maybe Smith. Many thanks to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for supporting this performance opportunity through the Travel Grant Program.

Venue: L’Aire Libre
Saturday, December 3, 2011
soso with The Delano Orchestra, Kim Novak & Kutu Folk Records, The Band

Venue: L’Aire Libre
Sunday, December 4
soso with Pastry Case & Kutu Folk Records, The Band

Soso – Tinfoil on the Windows (Kütu Folk Records) from Kütu Folk Records on Vimeo.

Creative Residency

I have a complicated relationship with the place of my birth. I vacillate between polarized and seemingly incompatible points of view — trying to reconcile the deep emotional attachment to this place with a creeping sense of trespassing. I was hoping to explore this at a creative residency at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus. A fitting context, the school was founded in the same English imperial enterprise that informs most present-day institutions in this province. The campus was envisioned as a prairie oasis created to nourish pursuits more noble than the mundane affairs of labour and sustenance of self. The school flourished and sketching trips and painting en plein air gave way to a modernist art movement that is so closely associated with historical art production in the province. The campus has since returned to less intellectually rigourous (and perhaps pretentious) artistic concerns, primarily consisting of amateur painters and nature enthusiasts.

The surrounding lakeside area is a site of intensive development — a mish-mash of tiny summer cabins in various states of disrepair and large, featureless vinyl-clad dwellings transplanted from subdevelopments in the south. In this recreational netherworld, building bylaws and standards of decorum deviate wildly and folks seem to embrace a small town congeniality. The stores sell bait and booze and pre-foiled baked potatoes and I am the only person the cashier doesn’t know by name.

Beyond the improvised network of dirt roads lies the vast boreal forest of the Canadian Shield; a forest with a rich visual legacy in the history of Saskatchewan and Canadian art. I am interested in playing with familiar depictions of the forested landscape to destabilize the patriotic, heroic landscapes of the Group of Seven and the serene, beautiful imagery also typical of the genre to consider a more nuanced and complex relationship with the land. The week long residency yeilded some interesting results that I will be further developing in the coming weeks and months.

  

Back and Gone

Beginning in the the fall of 2009, I was engaged in PAVED Arts new media production program, Throughput II: Speculative Video. I produced a video installation that considers the relationship between moving image and sound and continues my exploration into themes of vulnerability.

The element of sound, specifically the lack thereof, has figured prominently in my video work. The absence of audio distinguishes my video from traditional cinema or documentary genres and is intended to enhance the intimate qualities of the subject matter. The activity supported by Throughput II has enabled me to extend my investigation of the formal qualities of sound through the research, development and production of an acoustically treated viewing environment.

As this project will be on view for an extended period of time, it required an installation space that was accessible to the public yet did not occupy or interfere with the gallery’s regular exhibition schedule. I proposed the narrow service space that separated PAVED and AKA Galleries as it met certain logistic requirements and provided an opportunity to pursue a number of ongoing conceptual and aesthetic interests.

I have been interested in the poetic potential of the passage way and it has figured into my previous installations. The location for this installation introduces notions of an “in between space” neither here nor there. The space determined to a great extent the size and scale of the design and it narrows to a possibly uncomfortable or unmanageable width. The dark space is intended to exacerbate a sense of possible unease.

I’ve treated the interior to minimize echo within the space and create an unexpected auditory experience. By significantly reducing the acoustic stimulus, I hope to envelop the viewer in a conspicuous silence. Materials I have used for this project fulfill utilitarian and conceptual functions. I have finished the space with black felt. Its function is to suppress echo, reduce ambient light and provide a familiar or pleasurable tactile surface that may suggest warmth and comfort.

Through an increased awareness of the space, I hope to create a sense of solitude or isolation. This environment informs the reading of the video component. Shooting in low light and providing minimal information, the viewer is challenged to interpret the video image – an encounter with a figure, appearing into the light before receding again into darkness.

Crossing the Pond

Crossing the pond (artist emergings, there and here) is an artist-initiated international screening series featuring video works by emerging artists from Canada, England and Belgium. Organized by Canadian artist, Troy Gronsdahl and his English co-conspirator, Matt Giraudeau, Crossing the pond is a collection of six short videos presented in the spirit of curiosity and collaboration.

Continue reading “Crossing the Pond”

Tinfoil on the Windows, Gaffa (DK)

Han er en pudseløjerlig fætter som få, canadiske Troy Gronsdahl, der opererer under aliaset Soso, og som siden midthalvfemserne har været én af de helt centrale aktører på scenen for avantgardistisk hiphop indhyllet i lige dele electronica- og indierock. Programmerede trommer danner bunden og lægger skuldre til elektronisk fremelsket knitren, akustiske og elektriske guitarspor samt ikke mindst Sosos indfølt fortællende rap, der er et enormt aktiv i sig selv. Pladen åbnes modigt af et ikke mindre end ti minutter langt nummer,Rubber Rings, som med sine dvælende stemningsbilleder er en fin indikator for resten af albummet, der oftest hviler velafbalanceret i sig selv. Indimellem er musikken smuk og meditativ som på de fabelagtige Your Mom Is In The Next Room og den bjergtagende finale For A Girl On A Faraway Hill. Andre gange bliver den slet og ret for tålmodighedskrævende, som når Soso kompromisløst trækker tingene i frustrerende langdrag på All The Useless Things These Hands Have Done og Floorboards And. Yderst interessant dog.

Japanese Tour

In 2007, soso and Maybe Smith embarked on a Japanese tour in support of the album, Tinfoil on the Windows, on Hue Records.


soso with Maybe Smith
September 8, 2007 at O-nest, Tokyo

Birthday Songs, Hue (JP)

hue下半期最初のリリースとなるのは、sosoのファーストアルバム
「Birthday Songs」のリイシュー。2002年の発売だが、再プレス
されることなく近年は長らく廃盤となっていた。そもそも、この
アルバムとの邂逅によって俺とsinは本格的にこちらの道へと足を
向けることとなったもので、思い入れもひとしおな一枚である。
だが、同時に最近この手の音を聴き始めた人たちがこのアルバムを
入手できないことを遺憾に思っていた次第で(このアルバムの
レビューを書いた2002年のことを今でも鮮明に思い出すが、あれから
4年も経過したのだ! そりゃ、またワールドカップやってるわけだ)

Continue reading “Birthday Songs, Hue (JP)”

Thesis Sahib – Loved Ones

Thesis Sahib - Loved Ones

CD | CHR012 2006

On his third full length offering, Thesis Sahib showcases his well-honed, rapid-fire delivery, harmonic vocals and imaginative lyrics. An ambitious 30 track album produced by Nyles (of Howl), Loved Ones, is a creative, musically diverse album exploring alternative instrumentation, playful arrangements and tempo variations.

TRACK LISTING

01. Dengue
02. The Butcher’s Daughter
03. I’ll Ride Away *End
04. Mud Pies
05. Thought This as Thoughtless
06. With What We Have
07. How Fortunate
08. On Secondhand
09. Twenty Sick Sweet Teeth
10. Plastic Spoons
11. Punk Rock Soccer Mom
12. Stuffed as a Champion
13. * Abandon
14. Part of the Family
15. And So and So
16. On the Road to Rotting
17. The King’s Men * Lets See
18. Useless Honest
19. Near the Low Stream
20. Crawling on Your Needs
21. A Different * Lullabies
22. Inside Voices
23. Eavesdrops
24. Calling Home
25. Action Man
26. Laugh Lines
27. Sleep to the Sound of…
28. The List * Thin Veil
29. Again and the Guilty Man
30. Face and Hands

Stagnation and Woe, Exclaim! (CAN)

After the recent re-release of his first two albums as the single CD Corroding the Dead World on Clotheshorse Records, Halifax, NS-based Recyclone returns with his fourth album, Stagnation and Woe — a collaboration with CHR in-house producer and label-head soso. The melodically dark and depressing beats are the perfect accompaniment to Recyclone’s Doom Soon theories and nihilistic lyrics, made even more suitable to his anti-rapper style with clunky, clanking mechanical samples mixed into the backdrop.

Continue reading “Stagnation and Woe, Exclaim! (CAN)”

Recyclone & soso – Stagnation and Woe

Recyclone & soso – Stagnation and Woe

soso has applied a clanking mechanical edge to his lovely melody driven beats to compliment Recyclone’s barrage of dark revelations. The mad man is in fine form, spitting delightful, nihilistic lyrics addressing social ills and environmental sickness. The album is a tight, cohesive work culminating with the gritty eight minute call-to-arms featuring fellow Halifax mc’s Squig, DP, Wall Flower, Adam Hartling & EMC. This is an enhanced cd featuring the video for “Gearbox Therapy.”

Recyclone & soso – Stagnation and Woe
CD
CHR011 2006

TRACK LISTING

01. Gearbox Therapy
02. The Earltown Hermit
03. Episodes of Constant Torture
04. Trash Culture
05. Body Parts
06. Ghosts
07. The Introduction feat. Squig, DP, Wall Flower, Adam Hartling & EMC (Second Front)
08. Gearbox Therapy Bonus Video