Musicians I love (and my own creative existential crisis)

Lately I’ve been struggling with creative inspiration.

I’ve been late to reply to emails, shoddy at fulfilling writing commitments, sluggish to decide on music submissions, and absent on my own podcast. I haven’t written a song in months, my journal pages have been blank since January, my mixed media project is 75% complete, and I have a stack of unread library books by the front door. The other day, I couldn’t decide on a movie so I just watched an hour and a half worth of trailers, most of which were from the 80’s and 90’s (I came this close to watching Working Girl).

Basically, I feel mentally bankrupt and the only thing that I can muster up the energy to do is put on my blank, anonymous artist’s glaze and sketch strangers on the subway. At least in crowded café and clustered streetcars, I feel like no one is expecting anything, no one is judging, no one is watching with a critical eye.  I am finally free in an outlet all my own.

As many of you know, Sasha and I celebrated our blog’s fourth birthday this month, and with that came the realization that with much potential comes missed opportunity. I was reviewing past posts and wondering, “Could you have tried harder here? Could you have written more, explored this discography in greater depth? Could you have done a custom illustration for this feature? Could you have agreed to that interview?” A more ambitious version of myself is kicking the sandwich out of my current’s self’s hands.

Sometimes I wonder how other bloggers & journos do it. How does one wrap 1000+ neat words into a pithy post complete with a pleasantly drôle yet incisive b&w sketch? I feel like I need to learn Adobe Illustrator and a billion other complex design programs (as well as five coding languages) just to stay relevant.

What can I offer at the party? A side-scrolling verbal wrap-up of current events? A dumb and erratic dance sequence? Crumbs on my tits?

At this point, I’m looking for something to inject me with a sense of purpose. But for now, since this is a music blog, I want to clean out the inbox. That’s mainly the point of these Grab Bag Posts – it’s my effort to stay on top of things (failing miserably). One day, I will find the right balance of posting exactly what I want and honouring our obligation to undiscovered musicians. I am searching for it every day.

Sometimes I consider yanking down our blog email address, but then I wouldn’t have met the absolutely LOVELY GEMS of First Rate People, Delta Will, Walrus, Sheepman, High Diner, The Planes, The Blank Tapes, Ketamines, Jay Arner, Faux Fur, Michael Rault, The Dirty Nil, Yoofs, Lost On Purpose, Adam Torres, plus people like Leaning Trees RecordsGraveyard Orbit, Mike of My Boy The Riot Girl, Jason of Astral Travelling, ect.

So this post goes out all of you who have connected with me as a human idiot, or with Music Between Friends. I think of all the genuinely cool people that I’ve had the chance to meet, and I am glad.

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Trying to find my way back home

Hey gang, it’s me.

I’m back from my week in Hamilton spent with my freshly-imported boyfriend, who has returned home from a year abroad in Switzerland.

It seems that many people disregard Hamilton as a dirty, sketchy, blue-collared steel worker standing in the shadow of The Great Toronto. Perhaps this is because their exposure has been limited to chemically polluted bays and desolate grey smokestacks tipped with flames as they speed across the bridge to Niagara Falls (and the so-called mecca of Across The Border Shopping)

But to us, Hamilton is our home.

Adam Torres is a gifted songwriter from Austin, Texas. His self-titled album is currently a free download on DZ Tapes. This is an album to tell your kids about. It begs you to make memories, make love, break bread, break down, find meaning, find yourself. 

There are plenty of hidden gems to be found in Hamilton, and I’d like to share some of them with you. I have three favourite neighbourhoods – Westdale, Locke St., and James St. North. Whenever I visit the city, I visit as many of these places as possible. They have retained the essence of free-spirited DIY, small-batch, homemade, artisanal culture that has been paved over by condos in Toronto.


White Elephant is owned by two lovely girls who have delightful taste in heirloom Canadiana, vintage women’s clothes, and one-of-a-kind jewellery.

Parker got the world’s most adorable bow tie for factor[e] Design‘s upcoming charity event for literacy.

I got the cutest soft leather clutch in a dark brick red.


Parker’s bowtie, which I taught him how to tie


Re-imagined vintage furniture, local prints, paintings, and pretty little clothes that would make Zooey Deschanel swoon.

I got a lovely lamp painted with a floral bouquet and a jean romper from the Spring/Summer 2011 collection from Allison Wonderland.

NEEDLEWORK, James St. North

From two of the ladies behind the Beehive Craft Collective. Grade 9 Home Economics has really come full circle, and now it’s cool to learn to sew.

I’m hoping that this trip has jump started my creative side again. Parker and I spent a little time improvising pieces on the violin and piano, which felt so much like Win and Regine of Arcade Fire that I could puke. Hopefully, I can dig into the backlog of kind reader emails and feature more incredibly talented musicians like Adam Torres. If you enjoyed his album above, I encourage you to check out more artists featured by DZ Tapes. If there’s one person in the Internet music industry who’s doing it right, it’s Brett Isaacoff.