These days, it seems a pop artist must also be an artistic visionary to have an impact. A savant musician. A creator of interesting things. Case in point? Allie X, an emerging Canadian artist who exploded onto the scene with a 48-hour multimedia extravaganza at the Phi Center in Montreal, where she launched her first EP as Allie X, CollXtion I.
Allie X started life as Alexandra Ashley Hughes, a regular on the Toronto music scene where she enjoyed a modicum of success with the release of two albums, Ladies and Gentleman and Waiting for the Prize. Dissatisfied with what she was producing, she went back to the drawing board. She studied sound design and music production and spent two years cocooned in her shoebox apartment, writing music and perfecting her sound before she emerged onto the LA music scene in 2013 – a butterfly complete.
Her music is complemented by strong visual elements that include original artwork, boundary-pushing videos and spinning GIFs. When asked what is fuelling this new age of music and art, she replies: “In a word, the internet. It’s turned the music world on its head in negative and positive ways – the positive being that there is a lot of artist empowerment. You can become a star in your bedroom on your own YouTube channel. I think by putting more power into the artist’s hands, it’s changed the parameters of how weird you can be with the work you put out.”
Although Allie X regularly converses with her fans online, she remains a fiercely cloistered person. Her eyes are usually hidden behind a pair of oversized sunglasses or her hair is draped across her face. Even her chosen name ‘X’ comes from the algebraic expression of the unknown: “I want people to take on X as their own identity and not to become a part of my identity.”
As we meet and get to know each other, we’ll reveal more about ourselves and have a more vulnerable relationship. It is a dichotomy, though, because this project is about opening up your soul, but also remaining anonymous.
How will she overcome the problem of wanting to have a more personal relationship with her fans while still maintaining boundaries and privacy? “I think of it as a relationship like any other,” she says. “As we meet and get to know each other, we’ll reveal more about ourselves and have a more vulnerable relationship. It is a dichotomy, though, because this project is about opening up your soul, but also remaining anonymous.”
Perhaps the struggle for identity and anonymity is one that all artists go through as they transform, and are transformed by, the music world. But as we wait in anticipation for what comes next, let’s just hope that Allie X is able to keep her freak unique.
Duckwrth cannot be pinned down. The 28-year-old rapper, born Jared Lee in South Central, landed like a splash of mixed paints with his debut full-length I’m Uugly in fall 2016. Its 10 elastic tracks stretch across hip hop, chill wave, funk, and punk, all shrouded in a soft-focused haze. He aptly calls this impressionistic concoction “psych rap.” Early last November, Duckwrth released An Xtra Uugly Mixtape. Whereas I’m Uugly exalted the beauty that lives within the harshness and griminess of everyday life – from the physical to the political to the socioeconomic – An Xtra Uugly Mixtape encourages being unapologetically you. It is, as Duckwrth writes on his Soundcloud page, “the anthem for your rebellion.” Fittingly, the tape is higher in energy; the guitar sounds are cranked. An Xtra Uugly Mixtape is his attempt to put hip hop and rock on equal footing within the same piece of music. An Xtra Ugly Mixtape is also a gradual step towards fulfilling his stadium rock ambitions. Duckwrth had one of his most formative musical experiences at a stadium show. “I used to do the whole protest [thing] and be more politically driven,” he says. “But then there was a time when
Over the past four years, Halifax pop artist Ria Mae has accomplished dreams she has openly spoken about: being produced by fellow Nova Scotia success story Classified and touring with Tegan and Sara and Coleman Hell. Since creating her self-released demo of “Clothes Off” in 2013, she has signed with Sony Music and Nettwerk Management. The former has helped develop the careers of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Coldplay, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and many more. The finished version of the song – her major label debut – earned Mae her first Juno nomination, for “Single of the Year” in 2016, which put her in direct competition against Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. From Mae’s new home in Toronto, only two days removed from a cross-Canada tour with Scott Helman, she spoke with Georgie about her sudden rise, working with Classified, stepping up as a voice for LGBTQ groups, and more. G—As you’ve discovered, you can make a lot of unexpected connections in a small town. But that can be a good thing because working with people who differ from you in their approach forces you to create from new perspectives. Do you ever have reservations about working with people who
Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so