Editor's Note

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Anyone who has kept up with my Editor’s Notes will know that I love nostalgia. I love revisiting old Discorder features and CiTRisms, and sneaking them into my writing like the chewy bit in a Tootsie Pop. But, nostalgia isn’t always sweet.

As I write this Editor’s Note, I am listening to CiTR / Mint Records’ Pop Alliance Vol. 2 from 2011. It takes me back to that era of Vancouver pop music — lazy-romantic song lyrics that lean hard on the quotidian; an unresolved tension between classic guitar-driven pop and electronic dance pop; and more than anything, the artists’ ambitions to become that band that defines West Coast sound. Though I hear Vancouver in the music and I love it, I don’t have the same fondness for the art.

The original cover art for Pop Alliance Vol. 2 is a totem pole with the likenesses of local musicians in place of traditional figures and spirits. Although the artist wrote a statement (included in the record sleeves), there is no justification for cultural appropriation. The cover art is harmful in its trivialization of Northwest Coast Indigenous culture. It is my personal view that not only is the cover art a gross misrepresentation of the vinyl, but it also contradicts the values of decolonization that both CiTR / Discorder and Mint Records strive towards. Our organizations are making a renewed commitment to educating ourselves on Indigenous cultural appropriation, and holding workshops that will be open to CiTR / Discorder members and our community at large. You can find our statement and apology online, and on page 4 of this issue.

Why now? Over the past year, CiTR / Discorder have been working on how to address the harm of this cover art, and also an instance of artistic cultural appropriation that Discorder published in the April 2017 issue. Discorder is complicit is the creation and dissemination of an illustration that appropriated the work of an Anishinaabe artist. As a magazine and media organization, we take responsibility for the ways we have failed our contributors and community, and we want to keep this conversation open.

June is National Indigenous History Month, culminating in celebrations on the Summer Solstice, June 21. I encourage Discorder readers to take some time to reflect on the land you occupy and the people for whom the land means life. Seek out education on local Indigenous issues, and show up where you can.

In this issue of Discorder, you’ll read about the Indigenous burlesque group, Virago Nation; emerging hip hop artist, Rude Nala; DIY artist-run space, Duplex; Dim Cinema’s experimental moving-art programs; Moniker Press’ experimental risograph printing; toxic masculinity as defined by WAVAW, and so much more. Pull out the June event calendar and flip it over for the Music Waste Festival schedule (June 7-10).

I would also like to welcome Sydney Ball as the new Under Review Editor, and extend a thank you to Alex Lenz for guest editing Real Live Action.

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What does it mean to be “too political?” I ask myself this every time we conduct a readership survey, when, like sour keys between general praise, honest suggestions and new music leads, there are comments that I’m too political and that my editorial direction has led Discorder astray. I live for these sour keys. They keep me motivated to continue profiling organizations and movements that challenge the reader to think outside their realms of understanding. And honestly, isn’t that what a dynamic publishing platform is all about? Discorder isn’t hard-hitting journalism, but we aren’t a mag of fluff pieces either. Like all good medicine, we supplement our bitter aftertaste with a little buzz.  

So, when I read Jonathan Kew’s DOXA feature on page 6, and the Director of Programming, Selina Crammond, mentions that DOXA has been getting complaints for becoming too political with their program, I admit I got giddy. DOXA and Discorder are completely different, and yet, our structures are similar in that our teams both work an incredible amount of (often unpaid) overtime to produce something for the public that we hope will provoke emotion, even if that emotion is anger.

In this issue of Discorder, we feature several artists and organizations provoking emotion within their own corners of the universe. Dusty Babes Collective is a group of ceramicists challenging the conventions of clay; Girls Rock Camp Vancouver is working towards a more gender diverse music scene; DJ Kookum’s EDM sets overshadow the rap and country music she grew up around; Nasty Women Comedy pushes against Vancouver’s male-dominant comedy scene; grunt gallery’s urban screen brings storytelling to The Independent; and Heather Kai Smith’s artwork revisits history through gesture.

I would also like to remind readers that May is Asian Heritage Month. Last month, Mayor Gregor Robertson issued an apology to the Chinese community for the prejudice shown towards immigrants and their descendants by the City of Vancouver. In the same week, the City rolled over to amend zoning, seemingly at the request of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society and the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association, which directly contradicts the efforts of community organizers standing up for legacy businesses and elders. In the VCBIA and VCMA joint press release, they accused younger activists of “reverse-zenophobia” and not representing the true stakeholders of Chinatown. If you live or work or play in Chinatown, especially this month, please take some time to research the neighbourhood and consider your position within it. Visit chinatown.today for current news and follow @chinatown_today on Twitter.

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE

I’m thrilled to start as the new Station Manager at CiTR / Discorder! No doubt this will be a challenging and rewarding experience, and I look forward to being of service to the station and the community at large. A little about me:

Growing up (and still living) in the Downtown Eastside, I developed an interest in and passion for community building and grassroots art and culture in Vancouver. Fortunately, I have been able to pursue this passion as founder and Director of Red Gate Arts Society, which is committed to providing affordable, inclusive working, exhibition and performance space for artists, musicians, and creative individuals of all kinds, in a supportive and creative environment. I became the Executive Director of the Red Gate Revue Stage in 2016, expanding the disciplines that Red Gate can support to include theatre and dance.

Vancouver is at a crossroads. The cost of living in this city has risen to the point where it’s difficult for venues and audiences to take a chance on paying to see a show or buy an album from an unheard of or untested artist. In spite of that (or perhaps because of that struggle often leads to amazing art!), the quality and diversity of music coming out of Vancouver is better than ever. As a city, we must decide what our priorities are. Grassroots art and culture can disappear unless conscious decisions and focused effort are made to facilitate it. I truly believe that we can make Vancouver an incredible city for everyone to live in, but it will take a lot of work and cooperation among many disenfranchised groups.

CiTR / Discorder has been a guiding voice in this effort and will continue to do so for many years to come. The Station Manager position will allow me to advance and expand my passionate efforts on behalf of Vancouver culture, guided always by the principles of collaborative governance, community building, and providing opportunities for lesser known and underrepresented artists to showcase their work.

-Ana Rose Carrico