#festivalseason - Rifflandia returns to lay its genre-less assault on Victoria.

Rifflandia (This year keeping Victoria up from Sept. 13-16) is a multi-headed beast that comes at you hard. There's a lot of stuff to sort through because there's a shit-ton of music to see at a glut of stages and too many good times to be had. Every year on these lists we lay down what we're looking forward to seeing, the gems we recommend, with little regard as to where they're playing. But when we thought about it for this year...why would we include anything at Royal Athletic Park (Rifflandia's main stages, running throughout the day Fri-Sun)? There's only one stage running at a time, so if you're there just go see the music that's on. There is some incredible stuff there this year like Beardyman (Seriously, Beardyman is a beast and a true creative force), Daniel Caesar, SonReal, Metz, Jessie Reyez, etc. Don't be a moron. If you're at R.A.P., just see the damned music. This year we bring you a list of recommendations that only looks to the night, to the times when the mass of humanity fractures into mini-parties all over downtown Victoria. Bass, hip-hop, soul, funk...you know what we do over here at Rags Music – grooves. Hit anything on this list and you're guaranteed to get your hips swaying and feet moving. Remember kids: Rifflandia is a marathon, not a sprint. We got a long way to go. Pace yourselves and take care of each other.

JF Killah (Saturday, 9:30-11:30pm, Lucky Bar)

So, this year at Bass Coast during the Radio Stage takeover by the legendary Vancouver drum 'n' bass masters Shah DJs, my friend and drum 'n' bass expert, Jerrrrrf, planted himself for the entire length of the marathon set. Three and half hours, to be exact. As I've stated before, I don't know a whole lot about drum 'n' bass, but I trust my friends so I made sure to keep going back and checking in with my homie throughout the afternoon. The set that kept me the longest and really had me going was courtesy of J.F. Killah. The big doses of grime and heaviness – without the overwhelming aggression I feel from a lot of heavier drum 'n' bass – was just what I needed. My path into learning about drum 'n' bass has been long and windy, but masters like J.F. Killah who incorporate such a wide variety of sounds into their repertoire are the ones who have helped my own development as a listener. Her work as one half of Levrige, whom admittedly I had heard before hearing J.F. Killah on her own, shows off an even grimier side, going deep into that extra-deep, slow-burning bass shit. With two hours to lay it down in an intimate place like Lucky Bar, this is the perfect time to get properly acquainted with one of the west coasts foremost purveyors of accessible drum 'n' bass with nasty bite.

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#festivalseason - Motion Notion finds a new home and packs it full of funky homies.

I honestly don't know much about Motion Notion, which is odd considering it's a BC festival and I live in BC and it's in its 19th YEAR. (The fuck was I doing until about three years ago when I heard about it?) I've heard nothing but good things and the pictures make it look excellent. And this year the good people of MoNo are setting up shop in a new home, The Coldwater Fields in Merritt, BC – the home of the legendary Bass Coast Festival. More than almost any other festival lineup I've seen this years Motion Notion is filled with a ridiculous amount of Rags Music-certified Gs. In fact, this years lineup features no less than 10 past answerers of our own 5 Questions With Rags interview series. In honour of this HomieFest, this list is comprised almost entirely of artists I am super familiar with. I'm pretty confident when I write these lineup previews that I'm giving you all the goods, but this time I'm wholly confident in my picks. Motion Notion has put together an incredible lineup and this just the tip of the iceberg. And really, just the tip of the part of the iceberg I know at the time of this writing. Even if you fuck the rest of your weekend up, you'll have a proper good time if you just go see these cats.

Get tickets for Motion Notion 2018 (August 23-27) now!

Marten Horger

Sometimes you see someone time and time again and you wonder if you reeeeeeally need to see them again. Even though I've been thoroughly enchanted every time I've seen this wonderful human lay down his relentless bass stylings (Even arguing with friends the whole way home after a powerful night at Vancouver's near-legendary Red Room where they claimed he wasn't the most untouchable of the night...they were wrong), I almost didn't go catch him here in Victoria last weekend (July 28), because I am aging and going out, even on a Saturday, is at times a monumental task that defeats me on a regular basis. But I'm glad a friend helped me soldier through, because Horger was as on point as ever. He was going B2B with the homie Neon Steve – who you should definitely also see as I am just noticing his name here on the MoNo lineup – and was as in command as ever. When you feel and hear the devastating bass of a Horger track your heart beats a little harder and then you look up to see him behind the decks and you almost see the joy radiating off of him. Make sure that no matter what you do with your weekend, get after it and see this legit Hero of Breaks.

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5 Questions with Rags #69 - DJ All Good

Have you ever walked into a place completely foreign to you and just felt wholly and completely welcome? One of the few times as an adult I've felt that was the first time I walked into the Turntemple. A true monument of Hip-Hop, The Turntemple (A travelling DJ school housed in a 26-foot U-Haul) is unlike anything I had ever seen; a place where one of the pillars of Hip-Hop is tended and shared. The incredible human at the head of this low-key important space is DJ All Good (aka Peter Poole), Western Canada DMC Champion, Redbull Thre3style Finalist and human beam of Love. It didn't take more than a few seconds of me being in the Turntemple for him to come up to me, welcome me and notice my eyes on those turntables. Despite my crucial error in my first minute of touching them (“As long as you don't hit the needle, you're golden...” BAM! Right away, needle off the record.) he encouraged me to stay on and try it more, get closer to this foundation of the Hip-Hop that I love so much. Everyone I know who has crossed paths with the homie (This is a very high number of people) has glowing things to say about him and for good reason. His passion for music and willingness to share his vast reservoirs of knowledge – and his straight-up phenomenal skills – have made him a staple of West Coast festivals, strengthening the deep bonds between hip-hop and modern bass music whenever he sets up shop.

Finally getting a chance to do this interview thing proper with All Good was a thrill and I couldn't just pass up the opportunity to pick the brain of such an incredible DJ about all things scratchy and turny. So, in addition to the usual nonsense, we've mixed in a generous helping of queries about the Turntemple and the Art of Scratching.

Recently the U-Haul truck that housed the original Turntemple drove its final roads and breathed its final gasps of life. If you dig the noble mission of preserving the Art of Djing, check out the Turntemple's GoFundMe page and considering supporting the cause with a donation to help cover the costs of getting this educational beast back on the road.

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

It was one of those 1 penny for 10 albums things. I got 10 cassette tapes. I remember in that collection there was Pearl Jam Ten, INXS Kick, The Cure Greatest Hits, The Doors Greatest Hits, the Jimi Hendrix Experience Greatest Hits. Don't remember all of them but those were in there. As I matured I was a little bit ashamed I had so many Greatest Hits albums. There was Kids in the Hall skit where Bruce McDonald is running a record store and the guy comes in, “Hey, I'm looking to buy some Doors.” And Bruce says, “I'm not selling you any Doors! Greatest Hits albums are for grandmas!”

1a. How'd you get into the whole DJing thing?

Jam Master Jay...hearing “Peter Piper.” That song totally blew my mind. That and “Rocket” by Herbie Hancock. A lot of scratch DJs credit that song with being the song that got them into DJing because it's the first song that highlighted the turntable as an instrument. I'm talking turntablism here, not just DJing. I remember walking to school and air-scratching on my zipper, pulling it up and down. Hearing those songs really got me into it. Then I started making mixtapes for friends and house parties and stuff. I think if you're making a mix cassette tape it's a form of DJing – you're taking the time to curate and compile music for other peoples' listening experience, creating a journey.

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Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit (Review)

Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit


The silence is broken by the steady sound of an axe chopping wood, soon joined by a single guitar and gospel-tinged harmonizing. “We all heard the stories/Bring you to your knees/Ain't no lord gonna help you now,” intones a ragged voice as more guitars and drums join, building to a momentary fury before falling silent again, except for that voice, that single guitar, and that unrelenting axe. So begins Stranger Fruit, the second LP by Zeal & Ardor, the brainchild of Manuel Gagneux, a thunderous blend of slave music and black metal.

And what a fusion it is. The album's title references Nina Simone's savage, sorrowful song about lynchings in the south, and here also we find songs about a people hounded and pursued. People forced onto ships, people murdered and mourning, the fear and tension are thick and palpable. The song “Row Row” speaks of someone losing their name “in salt and stone”, of being taken below, while “Gravedigger's Chant” begins with a burial, with the song's narrator asking for the dead man's shoes to be brought down to the sea shore, possibly the closest they can come to home.

These are not songs of mourning though. Like the introductory track, the looping rhythms of slave hymns give way to reveal a darker, angrier sound just beneath the surface. These are songs of a people turning away from the light of white Christianity, invoking something darker, something that promises vengeance, bought in blood and fire. “Now listen here, you can join us/Or you can die in the fire” says the song “Servants”; “Ship on Fire” begins with its narrator singing “I come in the breath of the dead/Bathing in my papa's blood/Bare-boned and covered in red” and ends with him promising “Nobody waiting on you/You better run son”.

Again: that axe. A steady, rhythmic sound, the sound of hard, thankless work, toiling under the sun. But also implicit in that sound is a threat, as the axe is both tool and weapon, ready to explode into an act of violence at a moment's notice, to be turned against the oppressor without warning. “You Ain't Coming Back” repeats the line, “Don't let anybody tell you that you're safe,” throughout. At first it seems to be spoken to caution a child or a friend, but as the song increases in intensity, the menace lying beneath the surface is revealed. “These are the eyes that saw them die/theses are the hands that dug their graves/don't let anybody tell you that you're safe.”

The introduction ends with a final stark thud, louder and more ominous than the rest. Vengeance is coming.  (Independent)

Support good music and pick up Stranger Fruit.

#festivalseason - The Phillips Backyard Weekender delivered all I expected...And then some.

There was a ridiculous amount of great music at Phillips Brewery for the annual Backyard Weekender in Victoria this year and I could go on and on about it. I could tell you how The Revolution was better than anyone could have thought, laying down a set comprised entirely of some of Prince's best tracks – and even a couple surprises... “America,” anyone? Or how Victoria OG s, Murge and Verse – The Champion Sound, held it down between sets all damned weekend. Or I could tell you about the fiery and relentless disco assault of !!! (Chk Chk Chk) lit up a mostly unsuspecting crowd. In a weekend packed with highlights, here are the four acts that inspired my own lazy ass to get back to important work, like creating things and loving live music even of a fraction of how I used to.

Reggie Watts is so good at what he does that people now believe non-facts about Victoria.

Ask anyone who was there - apart from the two dudes I saw walk out early declaring, “This guy's a fucking weirdo.” - and they'll tell you that Reggie Watts' Saturday night performance at The Phillips Backyard Weekender was a incendiary force of creativity. It was funny, fresh and relentless. It demanded attention to mine its deep rewards. During his set, which my words will never do justice to, Watts told the potted “history” of spare ribs. We all had a good chuckle. Early the next day, whilst in the smoke-pit, I overheard a discussion about the improvised glory that Watts laid down the previous night. “He must have done a lot of serious research about Victoria. Like, he talked about the history of the spare rib and how it came from Victoria. I didn't know that!” “I'm from Victoria and I didn't know that!” These are actual things I overheard. Are there hundreds or possibly thousands of people out in Victoria now spreading the wholly false idea that Victoria is the legit home of the spare rib? God, I hope so.

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