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Mixing Passions While Building Up Metro Vancouver’s Hip Hop Culture

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What do you get when you mix a love for music, a natural capability to interview, and a desire to inspire youth to accomplish the impossible? Meet nineteen-year-old Surrey-citizen and 2nd year SFU Communications student, Arshan Jawaid, Founder of Kids Take Over (KTO).

Kids Take Over (KTO) is a youth-focused hip hop media outlet including anything from 1:1 interviews and Facetime chats, to behind the scenes short documentaries with some of the hip hop scene’s most finest up-and-coming and highly successful artists and producers. What started as a vision, has now become a reality – with a recent launch exceeding all expectations by reaching 1,000 YouTube subscribers and hitting approx. 40,000 views on it’s first video with only a few weeks! Currently housed on two platforms, YouTube and Instagram, KTO was brought to fruition with a focus on helping inspire “young people being able to achieve their dreams.”

“Since I’m achieving my dreams of interviewing artists through social media, KTO tries to inspire the youth to do the same, in whichever creative field they choose” says Founder, Arshan Jawaid. In addition to this, with a focus on a lot of up-and-coming, young artists being highlighted in the content, Jawaid hopes to inspire creatives to help build up the hip hop culture in the Metro Vancouver area.

Jawaid has been surrounded by music since childhood, and explains that “music tends to be with me everywhere I go.” It’s a hobby, but more than that – it’s a culture that he lives and breaths. And Jawaid indeed lives and breaths the industry he is trying to break into. Listing Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, Trippie Redd, and Lupe Fiasco as some of his favourite artists, he displays his diverse taste in the hip hop genre.

Alongside the passion for music, Jawaid has been very much interested in journalism since childhood. “I had always consumed a lot of radio, TV, and news content.” He admits that in high school, he didn’t exactly know what he wanted to pursue academically beyond his grade 12 year, so he chose to start a podcast where he would interview locals with a multitude of different career paths so that he could gain a broader understanding of the breadth of possibilities available to him.

Through these informational interviews, he realized that he actually enjoyed interviewing, and should try his wits at the field. “I dabbled around with podcasts, discussions, news videos, all on YouTube……initially, I wanted to be a journalist and work with video teams for the biggest hip hop outlets. Now that I was able to create my own outlet, I’m really inclined to make this my full career.”

After experimenting with podcasts, news, and discussion videos, Jawaid stumbled upon the opportunity to conduct some interviews with various hip hop artists, and he began to post one every month. At the time, he had not established any branding or art direction for his work, and he too had to face some challenges in securing interviews. “Although I was proud that I was able to secure these interviews as a teenager, I wanted them to have a deeper meaning and purpose.

I also wanted myself to be so known in the hip hop community, that artists would come to me for interviews, despite my age.” “I got cancelled on so many times and soon found out people weren’t taking me seriously.” Despite the challenges, Jawaid managed to secure an interview with one of Drake’s music producers, Murda Beatz, and create a Behind The Scenes concept which highlights some of his struggles, and how he overcame them. Following the interview with Murda Beatz, Jawaid took four months off from interviewing to spend some time to brainstorm and establish his brand while marketing his natural ability. A few months later, Kids Take Over was officially born.

With the intent to inspire other youth to find their craft and pursue their passions, Jawaid focuses a lot of his content on him asking artists about how they perfected their craft while being a teenager, “so for the kids to hear those stories, it gives them inspiration” says Jawaid. “There’s also a series called “Behind The Scenes” where I give a lot of tips to young people in the creative field. Eventually there will be series where other young people are on camera.”

So how does one nineteen-year-old arrange interviews with the hip hop scenes heavy hitters? “I arrange them by simply sending an email over to the managers. Getting a good response, or a response in general, has to do with if they like my work/vision or not” explains Jawaid. When watching Jawaid, he exuberates a maturity, craftsmanship, and sense of ease well beyond his nineteen years. “I don’t necessarily see myself as an interviewer. I’m so passionate about pop culture and music that I just genuinely enjoy talking about it, and can have a relaxed conversation with anyone for hours on or off camera.”

So, what’s to come for KTO? Well first things first, they have a special interactive website planned for the near future. Jawaid also hopes to expand the initiative onwards to providing workshops for young adults in local high schools. As for any spoiler alerts for upcoming interviews…”I wouldn’t like to give too much away” says Jawaid. But he does allude to some pretty cool collaborations to come with Canadian artist, Anders, in the near future.

Oh and incase you were wondering which are Jawaid’s top 3 favourite albums are? Take note to make sure you have “Rodeo” by Travis Scott, “Good Kid, M.A.D.D City” by Kendrick Lamar, and “The College Dropout” by Kanye West. Classics.

Want to check out Kids Take Over? Follow the links below and subscribe to their content to be kept up to speed with the latest and greatest content on it’s way for 2019!

Youtube = Kids Take Over | Instagram = kidstakeoverig

Robyn is a status-quo disruptor, an old-soul, and has a serious passion towards continuous learning driven by a curiosity for the unknown. A creative and equally analytical thinker with experience in leadership, project management and marketing strategy. When she’s not working you can find her in the kitchen, searching for new music, or meandering local thrift stores, antique stores, or flea markets for a unique find.

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Help Canadian Artists Get Played

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Canadian musicians have a great opportunity to get radio play right here in Vancouver. Mary Kirk of Durham Radio has applied for a Vancouver license. With a new, local radio station artists will have a greater range of options to be heard, played, and paid for their music.

Durham Radio needs our help to get their application accepted. I’m reaching out to all musicians to send a letter of support for Durham Radio’s application.

Here is a message from  Mary and Doug Kirk:

Dear members of our Wave artist family,

We at Durham Radio Inc. have applied for a new FM license to broadcast The Wave on 98.3FM in the heart of Vancouver, Canada’s second-largest English-speaking market and a perfect backdrop for Canada’s Smoothest Groove!

Our application was publicly posted Monday, March 22nd on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s site (CRTC).  In order to be successful, we now need huge public support, especially from our wonderful Wave family of artists.   We hope you will add your own letter of support, documenting your past experiences with The Wave and with us personally, emphasizing our commitment to our artists, especially our Canadian vocalists and instrumentalists. If you have a personal story that will illustrate the impact the Wave has had on your career in the music industry, we would so appreciate your sharing it with the Commission.

Please begin your letter with a clear statement of support for our application.   Then explain why you think that our “Smooth Groove” format would be a welcome addition to the Vancouver market. You may have some thoughts beyond the obvious arguments that we’ll be adding diversity of choice for listeners and a new fresh sound, primarily from artists who do not get played on any other stations in Canada. Our dedication to live music around town and major show production will of course continue, once attending concerts is allowed again!

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts to make “Vancouver’s Smoothest Groove” a reality!  Our West Coast Wave will play an even balance of instrumental and vocal music and will be 40% Canadian in content. We are eager to get all our artists back on FM radio in Canada and introduced them to so many new fans.

With your help, we hope to be able to report on a favourable CRTC decision by late summer.

To mail your support: CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2 To fax your support please send to 819-994-0218 for further instructions contact Cat Levan at catlevan.music@gmail.com.  www.wave.fm

 

Many thanks for your support,

 

Cat Levan

 

 

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Surrey-local Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights Pulls At Heartstrings Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

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Visuals and animation done by Peca Petrovic of Smile Magnet.

The winter months have proven to be some of the toughest of the Covid-19 pandemic in British Columbia. Many people have been faced with loss, some for the first time. It is hard to comprehend the thought that a loved one is just not there anymore. But you are not alone. And Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights makes sure you know it.

Restless Nights is just 3 weeks old now, premiering amidst some of the highest Covid-19 related deaths that British Columbia has seen. With our province also under strict pandemic restrictions, many of us spent the holidays alone. Restless Nights came at the perfect time. The song speaks to the difficulty of not being able to be with the people you love, whether that separation be due to distance or loss. Many people have felt this hardship this year, including Singh himself.

“Over one year ago, I lost my older brother and wanted to write a song that would capture my grief. I am sharing Restless Nights in the hope that it may bring comfort and closure for those of us who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one, without getting to say goodbye. I want to reach out, especially during these COVID-19 days, and let you know that you are not alone,” he says.

This loss shines through in Singh’s vocal and lyrics. The raw vulnerability that he sings with holds an authenticity that cannot be replicated without having to navigate the firsthand experience of losing a loved one.

Singh’s lyrics and musicianship are complimented by visuals and animation done by Peca Petrovic of Smile Magnet. The video shows Singh walking through an empty park, playing his guitar. Other images flash by that are meant to draw our eye, whether they be memories of his own family or the prominent image of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix at their daily address.

You can watch Restless Nights on YouTube now.

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New Christmas Originals CD from Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan!

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Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan
spreads the love with “The Joy of Christmas”

Produced by Billboard chart-topper Steve Oliver, her new EP dropped on Nov 6

Longtime Vancouverite Cat Levan’s second album (EP) “The Joy of Christmas” released November 6th, breathes fresh feeling into the much-loved classic “Silent Night”, and introduces two new favourites that will have listeners craving snuggles and hot cocoa by the fire. Her sultry tone brings an intimate feel to #1 hitmaker Steve Oliver’s engaging ballad “Watching the Snow Fall”. The idea for her self-penned, softly-rhythmic title track “The Joy of Christmas” sparked earlier this year when she spotted a tiny Christmas tree in the studio where she was recording her first album “Double Life”.

“I love Christmas, not just the tinsel, lights and gifts, but the whole idea that there is a time of year when people give a little more, care a little more and open up their hearts to others. Maybe we can’t all hug right now due to Covid, but I hope this song feels like I’m giving you all a big, warm, hug!” offers Levan.

As a lyricist, she is a storyteller who writes about love, connection and the warmth of family, which suit the vulnerable qualities inherent in her ethereal voice.

“The Joy of Christmas” is dedicated to my Mom who always made Christmas so special, and to those who’ve lost someone and really feel that loss at this time of year,” admitted Levan who has also launched two videos on Youtube to accompany the album release: The Joy of ChristmasWatching the Snow Fall .

Levan found that remembering family times helped her let go of heartache. “The memories spark traditions which in turn, keep the memories alive. It’s a wonderful way to honour those who are no longer with us,” reveals Levan saying that the song “Watching The Snow Fall” is “about the holidays becoming even more wonderful when spent with your special someone. Creating new memories with them can once again make this a magical time of year. It’s about feeling the love as you watch the snow fall…”

She brings a solid groove to “Silent Night”, a well-known traditional Christmas carol. A subtle gospel rhythm speaks to the soul and gives an ancient song new life. Her voice gently caresses the lyrics and brings renewed meaning to the words “heavenly peace”.

The “The Joy of Christmas” EP contains the following songs: “The Joy of Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “Watching the Snow Fall”. Curl up with a glass of wine and listen to Levan as she casts a Christmas spell with “The Joy of Christmas”

About Cat Levan:

A former professional kick-boxer, restaurant owner, clothing designer, marketing director, illustrator – and mother, Cat Levan finally realized her long-held musical dream this past spring when she released her debut album, “Double Life”. The Vancouver-based artist teamed with Billboard Top 10 hitmaker and guitarist Steve Oliver to write seven original songs for the 11-song recording produced by Oliver in his Southern California studio.

Her Canadian countryman and brother-in-law, contemporary jazz saxophonist Walle Larsson (married to her sister, Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriter Melanie Chartrand), guested throughout the collection that finished production just prior to the closure of the border due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tracks from the CD have been played by host Nou Dadoun on “The A-Trane” Vancouver’s longest-running jazz radio show and are now charting in regular airplay rotation on smooth jazz radio stations across the USA and UK, as well as on “Wave FM” Canada’s main smooth jazz station located in Southwestern Ontario.

Levan’s quest for music brought her to the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, where she was a soloist, and Soundscape A Capella group where she discovered harmonies. She has been a guest artist with blues bands and classic rock bands but decided it was time to explore her own music.

Levan’s friend Chris Thornley, who plans the annual Blues for the Bank benefit concert in Surrey who like Levan is also a singer and marketing professional, said he’s impressed by Levan’s musical efforts. “The quality of production, arrangements and songwriting are all first-class.”

For more information, please visit https://catlevan.com.

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Surrey-based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis, Defies Western Beauty Standards Through Music, Fashion and Beauty

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By Navreet Dhaliwal

Surrey-Based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis is using music, fashion, and beauty as expressions to challenge western beauty standards that she has been faced with since her younger days as an emerging artist and entrepreneur.

“Breaking stereotypes since 1979” has become a part of Natalia’s rhetoric because of her journey as an artist and her mission to go against the grain of what she was told to do in order to be a more successful artist and entrepreneur. Natalia states how a woman’s age has come to define her in the music industry. Natalia got her breakthrough into the music industry in her late 20’s, which could be considered as a “late start” by music industry standards. Natalia’s reps at that time would go on to tell her she is in luck due to the fact that she looked so young.

For years, Natalia stuck with the narrative of being perceived as young just so she could find success with what she loved to do, which was play music. Overtime, Natalia states “I didn’t feel authentic as an artist and did not like playing along to the narrative of being younger than I actually was.” Overtime, Natalia did what she does best, which is to break stereotypes and start stating her actual age to let her audience know about her journey as an artist and the hard work it took her to get to where she is.

From the get-go, Natalia was often told that she needed to lose weight and be a specific body type in order to garner success as a musician and entrepreneur. Growing up with this negative narrative and witnessing it being instilled in female students that she was teaching, Natalia chose to speak out against body-shaming through her ventures and the online platform that she has come to build as an artist. Once again, Natalia is on her mission to break stereotypes as she weaves strong messages of body positivity in her body of work and her online platforms, Natalia states “no one’s body affects who they are, their music, their voice, and what they can do.”

Natalia admits that her journey to go against the grain of western beauty standards has not been the easiest thing to do. She states “life has been hard but it’s also been beautiful.” She has been able to discover herself through her journey and come to the fact that it is not okay for anyone to be turned down opportunities simply due to the fact of who they are and how they don’t fit into a cookie-cutter image of success.

Using her music, her lifestyle, and her beauty brand, Natalia wants to build a community of like-minded individuals who feel like they are not alone as they figure out who they are and not feel like they are stuck at a disadvantage because they don’t fit into a certain “ideal” image of beauty.

Natalia released her newest single “Mr. Slowpoke” in June, which can be found on Spotify. If you want to keep up to date with Natalia’s journey as an artist and entrepreneur, she can be found on @natavivi on Instagram and on Facebook as Natalia Paradalis Music.

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Legendary Canadian Band HONEYMOON SUITE Hit the Top 30 Rock Charts for the First Time in 19 Years

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“Find What You’re Looking For” Latest Release Previewing New Album, Their First Since 2008 | Watch “Find What You’re Looking For” via YouTube Here

36 years on, that headline above makes the fact all the more impressive. Canadian classic rockers Honeymoon Suite hope you “Find What You’re Looking For” in this, their newest single – available now!

The newest preview for the iconic band’s forthcoming album, “Find What You’re Looking For” has been eagerly ushered in by fans and critics alike, hitting the Top 30 rock charts in Canada in no time flat. It’s their first chart-climber in 19 years, and follows late 2019’s “Tell Me What You Want” – their first single release since 1992.

The two tracks lift the curtain, revealing the latest in what’s to come from the band who’ve long made themselves a household name. Early listens show the release has an unmistakably fresh energy to it, while still keeping true to the classic Honeymoon Suite sound fans have loved for nearly four decades.

First formed in 1981, Honeymoon Suite first broke onto the scene thanks to hit single “New Girl Now” taking the cake in a ‘Homegrown’ radio station contest put on by Toronto’s Q107. Founding members Johnnie Dee and Derry Grehan would soon be joined by Gary Lalonde, Dave Betts, and Peter Nunn, and go on to win a JUNO Award for ‘Group of the Year’, countless nominations, and continued International recognition over their near-40 years.

“Sometimes you just know when everything starts lining up, and sounding really good early on,” says Honeymoon Suite. “This new album will be the strongest new music we’ve released in a long time.”

“Find What You’re Looking For” is available now.

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