Web Exclusives

Poutine w/ Whitney K | Photo by BB for Discorder Magazine

This week Montreal via Vancouver via Montreal via Vancouver artist Whitney K releases When The Party’s Over on Egg Paper Factory. It comes just eight months after his previous release, Goodnight. In conversation with Konner Whitney, a.k.a. Whitney K, he said he has already written and begun recording his next album. Konner, haphazardly prolific, agreed to a casual chat over poutine in Montreal’s Saint-Henri.

Scroll to the end of the interview for an advanced listen to When The Party’s Over, scheduled for release July 24.

.

.

Poutine w/ Whitney K | Photo by BB for Discorder Magazine

Konner Whitney: We do not drink Coca-Cola in Quebec, we drink Pepsi.

Brit Bachmann: Why do you think that is?

KW: […] It has to do with the quiet revolution, I forget exactly.

Two plates of poutine arrive.

KW: The gravy. The gravy is what makes this one. The gravy is so fucking heavy.

BB: So, you’re in Montreal.

KW: I am, and so are you.

BB’s hair falls into gravy.

KW: Careful, it will swallow you up.

BB: Why did you move back to Montreal from Vancouver?

KW: I was bored.

BB: Really, that was the reason?

KW: Yeah. I have this tendency of making rash, quick-second decisions.

BB: Do you feel more stimulated here?

KW: Definitely, in my day-to-day at least.

BB: You’re releasing When The Party’s Over on Egg Paper Factory, which is based in Montreal.

KW: Yeah, they are the homies I play music with — Josh [from Egg Paper Factory] is my musical partner in crime.

BB: Is it only being released on cassette?

KW: We might do more with it, but cassette for now. [The album] was just sitting there, and Josh thought we should do something with it.

BB: So, it was recorded on the West Coast?

KW: Yes, in Vancouver, at that, uh, office space that is gone now. Julian Mars, it was his space. A bunch of other folks used it, too. It was in an alley just west of Pub 340, on the bottom floor. The people running it had some grandiose ideas about throwing parties and having jam spaces. It went somewhere, but then they got evicted.

BB: Do you know why?

KW: [An adjacent business] on Hastings Street. [They] complained so much that the landlord finally said, “You guys gotta go. I can’t kick out [the adjacent business] because it has been here forever.” Fuck that place. Nobody go there. […] [They] shut down that space because they couldn’t deal with people playing music.

BB: I’m going to have to edit that a lot.

KW: Why? Can’t you publish whatever you want? What are you, Fox News?

BB: You did not accuse me of being Fox News.

KW: You need to include this part of the interview. Include this.

BB: Fine. So circling back, you played a show in Montreal a few days ago. […] Playing songs off this album, written and recorded in Vancouver, does it feel nostalgic?

KW: Ask me in four months. […] Our current live set doesn’t really include anything off this new tape, only a couple songs — “Cowboy City Rockers” and “Hard To Be God.” —Isn’t this gravy crazy?

BB: It maintains its shape when you push it with a fork.

KW: There’s definitely a good chunk of lard.

BB: Isn’t gravy vegetarian?

KW: What?

BB: Kidding. I like it when you go to countries that don’t really do gravy and you try to explain what it is, and it sounds so unappetizing.

KW: I haven’t yet been to one that doesn’t mess with gravy.

BB: […] What’s in the future for Whitney K?

KW: We’re actually recording a new album right now. […] We’re going to take time recording it. It’s not going to be another shit lo-fi album.

BB: Why the more polished sound?

KW: I need to do something big, quick, in case I decide to commit to a normal working life and not do music anymore.

BB: Do you think that could happen soon?

KW: I don’t know. I definitely haven’t been thinking about music as much lately, that’s for sure. I’m mostly thinking about getting a decent job. A decent job and good mental health. […] I don’t want to be 57 years old struggling to pay my rent and being bummed.

Konner, finished his plate, begins eating BB’s unfinished poutine.

Poutine w/ Whitney K | Photo by BB for Discorder Magazine

BB: So for Vancouver news, did you hear Woolworm got signed to Mint Records?

KW: Yeah! That’s funny. That band’s been around so long. I remember playing shows [with them] way way back, and it was still Woolworm.

BB: That’s the thing, if you’re a good band and you can just stick it out, things happen.

KW: So if I had stuck it out in Vancouver, I could have been signed to Mint? Hey, Ryan Dyck, what’s up?! […] Until very recently, music people didn’t talk to me. I only knew people who played in bands and like, three people who promoted shows.

Poutine w/ Whitney K | Photo by BB for Discorder Magazine

BB: Why do you think people started talking to you?

KW: Because I started talking to them. […] Listen to this, this is a new plan I’m figuring out — I play music long enough, keep doing stuff, and get all these friends that are involved in art and stuff, and eventually some other friends will get their feet in the door. This is the long con. I don’t have to do anything except not die for 10 years. Just fight off depression, and try to live.

 

—and keep making music.
 
x
 

 

 

THELIONSWEARE_BRYCEHUNNERSEN-0757

Francis Arevalo has been busy this past year. As the de facto founder of The Lions We Are, a Vancouver-based arts and music collective, he has been making music under his own name and collaborating with local artists who he is lucky to call friends. In his art and writing, Arevalo talks openly about living with bipolar disorder and his recovery process over the past year. Today, he defines himself by his decision to live intentionally and to make music that communicates a message of love. Discorder Magazine talked to Francis about TLWA, his creative process and what it has been like to heal out loud and through music.

Discorder Magazine: You are the founder of The Lions We Are. How do you define your role within the collective?

Francis Arevalo: In a sense, it doesn’t feel like I’m the founder of The Lions We Are. It honestly just feels like I named and acknowledged something that’s been here the whole time, these talented and generous friendships.

My role so far within the collective has been to facilitate others’ creativity and passions by organizing events, and encourage people to follow their passions, develop their craft, and collaborate with others.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: How do you define yourself as a musician?

FA: I used to have a stage name, Allo. It was short-lived however as I realized I wanted my music and messages [to] represent me honestly as a person. There is no separation between my life and what I make.

In my lyrics, there is love at the core: for self, for others, for life, and for my craft. In my performances, I want to welcome, move, and uplift people.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine

DM: Your Facebook page describes The Lions We Are as “A diverse, cross-disciplinary artist collective, aimed to create visible and interactive art for the city of Vancouver.” How does TLWA function? What is your intention behind creating visible art?

FA: Within TLWA, there are so many talents and skills at work: instrumentation, singing, rapping, producing, photography, videography, graphic design, painting, dancing, cooking, and more. For any one event or project, we assemble the know-how as needed. Our intention behind making and sharing art and music is to make the world we live in a beautiful place, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

The Lions We Are is rooted in a sense of family. We aim to spread positivity through art, to hold a non-judgmental space for creative expression, to engage our communities, and to seek fulfillment through group and individual passion projects.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: Why did you name the collective The Lions We Are?

FA: The Lion King has always been my favourite movie. This narrative of a young person going through trials and tribulations, finding friends along the way, and coming back home to play their role in their community always resonated with me.

To be lionhearted is to be brave or heroic. I believe there’s a certain kind of bravery and audacity in each person becoming the person – the hero – that they need.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: How does The Love & Basketball Mixtape compare to The TLWA Mixtape?

FA: [They] are very different. Love & Basketball is a seven track project that I recorded in seven hours in one day, and TLWA is eighteen tracks that I worked on over the course of six months! The tracks on L&B are held together by the title themes, but for the most part are a collection of singles. TLWA has a narrative arc through it. TLWA is the sound of a community coming together to make something beautiful. For me, it’s the sound getting back on my feet after getting sick. TLWA is my way of thanking everyone who helped along the way.

The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: What other projects do you have on the go? You have mentioned ‘A Night with Friends’ arts get-togethers, ‘Arts & Crafts’ sessions with Roya Bennett, and the TLWA blog you write with Irving Chong.

FA: I’m tending to a couple of EPs right now, but for the most part I’m trying to spend my time helping out on other people’s projects where I can.

‘A Night with Friends’ started as an annual summer-time jam session back in 2011, a night that our friends could look forward to every year to share in each other’s talents. Recently, it’s become an informal monthly hangout to share time, space, food, and good vibes, and make art and music together. ‘Arts & Crafts’ is what Roya and I call the time we set aside to create duo pieces. The blog [is] a way for Irving and I to highlight our friends’ work, archive events, and explore conversations sparked by the art we made and shared in.

At the core of The Lions We Are [and other projects] is making good things with good people.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: In your blog post “On Time and In Rhythm” you write, “Now I don’t know what else to do but heal out loud and in the open.” How does it feel to talk openly about bipolar and your experience with mental illness? How has healing out loud helped your healing process?

FA: I’m very lucky that for the most part people inside and outside of my community have been receptive to my publicly sharing my experience with bipolar disorder. There have been some people in my life that have distanced themselves from me, and I’ve come to accept them leaving.

Healing out loud through conversation, interview, and song has helped me come to terms with my reality. Bipolar disorder isn’t something that goes away, but is something that I can get better at managing. And I’m happy that sharing my story has helped some folks in their own personal struggles with mental illness. As much as I didn’t believe it when I was in the depths of the depression, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I had to trust I’d get there if I kept walking every day.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: What were you doing with music prior to getting sick? How are your goals then different and similar to your goals now?

FA: Prior to getting sick, music was simply this thing that I did for fun with my friends, and I didn’t actively consider the role it could play in my life, career or community. After getting sick and spending that time reflecting, my efforts have definitely become more focused. I’ve realized the deeper intentions and impacts that making music can have for myself and others. It’s how I best make sense of my world and connect to others around me.

The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Illustration by Marita Michaelis for Discorder Magazine

DM: You said in “On Time and In Rhythm” that the experience of getting sick and working through the recovery process has given you intention and agency. How does this agency come into play in your creative outlets?

FA: During that year of depression, I felt what it was like to have no impact on the world around me. As I begun to tell my story, reconnect with people, and write music again, I remembered the effects that art could have on my own well-being as well as my community.

I was reminded so deeply through the experience of getting sick and recovering how important my loved ones are to me. If making and sharing my music can bridge gaps between people the way that it did for my loved ones and me, I feel like I have to encourage it.

The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine
The Lions We Are || Photography by Bryce Hunnersen for Discorder Magazine

DM: What are your goals for TLWA?

FA: My main intention for The Lions We Are is to commit to spending meaningful time with meaningful people making meaningful art. As long as we can continue to do that, that feels like success. And I’m excited for wherever and whatever the path leads to. I hope that over time people feel empowered by TLWA the way that I did.

x

The Lions We Are will play a show at the Red Room on July 22. Listen to The TLWA Mixtape and The Love & Basketball Mixtape on Soundcloud. Watch Jon Chiang’s documentary about Arevalo’s recovery through music.