Features

Wrong Wave Festival 2022

Wooden sticks for the brave

The kick-off of Wrong Wave Festival 2022 opened with a distorted saxophone. I went by myself, and brought my book to keep me company, but then that feeling of what the fuck am i doing here …. i am so dum……i am not artist…started to hit. Despite it all, the distorted microphone helped me calm down — as music often does. 

Symphony of Fire is an experimental music and video festival created by Andrea Lukic who sat in row five. They narrated the event in between films in groups of threes. All submissions were shown in order of file name. I wrote my notes in the dark, but from the illegible, came: “munching on mushrooms,” “a close-up of a caveman” “everyone dies in my castle,” and “The Logical Song,” which I decorated with underlines, overlines… even a little heart. My favourite scribble of the evening was: “forgive, goat-billy.”

Every so often you could hear people witnessing their work on-screen. A squeal, a gasp, a crescent glance over seats to see who was watching. The theatrics that whisper in cinemas, in front of a silvery screen. That lovely sense that the screen is a silver mirror which becomes a plate the whole room can eat off of. People filtered in and out between breaks. I left after the two-hour mark, knowing the festivities were only beginning as the Wrong Wave Festival, host festival to Symphony of Fire, itself runs from July 5th to the 31st. 

Symphony of Fire is a genre-less festival which accepts applicants of all backgrounds, skill-level, fame, notoriety or anonymity — local and international. If it’s a video, and there’s music, it’s accepted. They stated that they will make room for those who make room for others — so racist, sexist, ableist, homo/bi/queer trans-phobic etc. videos were unwelcome. Another request was that all music videos screened had to be new, and previously unscreened to a mass audience. 

Which brings me to my last scribble from July 5th, Symphony of Fire: “wooden sticks for the brave.” If you’ve never been to the symphony, I’ll try to explain. 

It’s held in a convex hall, where gold-rimmed walls push the music outwards to meet you at your seat. One by one, musicians carrying wooden sticks will sit down and begin to rub them together. Percussionists use pebbles and matches. Strings tie and brass rattles. Sparks emerge. Trumpeteers blow bubbles as woodwinds watch and sigh at reeds. The cellists use walking sticks. The room warms up as the light begins to dim, red flames emerge, the symphony begins.

And the audience applauds. Because it’s the work that’s half-finished, the thoughts abandoned and the songs still being written that Symphony of Fire reminds us is still worth seeing. And, more often than not, the coolest stuff out there hasn’t been put out yet. So light those matches, rub those sticks you’ve got hidden in that cupboard somewhere and see what sparks something. It’s showtime, baby.

Jodie Jodie Roger

Not a fucking boring human being

Interviewer

​​Do you feel like the curtain was pulled back on having fans or being an entertainer?

Jodie Jodie Roger

No. The curtain would be drawn back if I was a boring fucking human being, then maybe yeah.

 

Jodie Jodie Roger is anything but a boring fucking human being. They’ve been bounding across Vancouver stages offering tempered provocation to any and everyone who will listen for the past few months — and who could help but be riveted by their buoyant screams appealing for your attention? Jodie’s music fluctuates dramatically, balancing playful 808s and heavy-metal vocals in a delightful assault on the listener’s ears. 

Jodie moved to Vancouver 10 months ago from Montreal, where they had lived for six years attending McGill. “I did engineering and I did not like that. When I graduated I wanted to try out music, and then COVID hit and I decided I wanted to be an artist.” They thought about that for a second, “not necessarily an artist — it was more so that I’d always been on the track my dad had wanted [for me], and I was like, ‘Wow this fucking sucks.’”

While working a “good job” coding in Montreal, Jodie began supporting friends who were hosting parties around the city. “I would DJ for my friend SUPER FREDDY — and by ‘DJ’ I mean pause-and-play on his laptop. I was such a homie, and then I decided to stop being a homie and fuck shit up a bit. So I would turn down his volume, I would grab a mic and ad lib for him. But he loved it and the audience loved it — they fucking loved it.” This cheeky style perfectly complemented their inflammatory penchants both on stage and off. “I want [the audience] to entertain me. So I need to give them a little jumpstart. I want you to entertain me, but I don’t want to hear you talk about your trip to Cabo, so I’m going to call you eight slurs and see how you react. […] I’m your friend, I’m not your entertainer. I’m not here to gas you up. That’s the energy I always go for in my concerts. You’re here to entertain me as much as I’m here to entertain you. Life’s a party, you’re a boy. But following [SUPER FREDDY] around, just realizing the audience doesn’t like moving unless you give them a massive incentive… if you’re not white. That’s just the evidence. And that kept me away from making art for a while. I saw friends who were super, super fucking talented, and it was like pulling teeth trying to get people to move.”

Despite moving to the West coast less than a year ago, Jodie Jodie Roger already has a dedicated fanbase. “I feel like I’ve beaten the Vancouver curse of moving here and having no friends for the first year. I was like, ‘No, I am way too hot and mentally ill. I will find a way.’” And it’s not surprising at all, as they so succinctly put it, “Where else will you get a blue/pink haired queer Black person who’s super hot and super kind and super humble? Who just starts screaming, and you’re like, ‘Whoa.’ And then there’s an 808 out of nowhere, and you’re like ‘Whoa,’ and I’m up there moving and grooving and rapping. That’s where I’m coming from, I always want people to come in and say, ‘I cannot get that anywhere else.’”

The earnest frenzy embedded in Jodie’s performances (and recordings) is a complete anomaly in Vancouver’s famously aloof venues. “I learned that you have to have the energy of an entire band. I have to literally do the dance that I want people out there to do. I can’t just shimmy and expect them to mosh… yet. I have to have the energy of a drummer, the aloofness of a bassist, the fucking mommy entitlement of a lead singer, and the cocaine addiction of a lead guitarist. Bring it all together and just blast it at people for 30 to 35 minutes. […] I spent a long time going along with other peoples’ definitions of what they think is fun and it was boring. The reason why I make my own music and my own beats is because I don’t really hear a lot of stuff like the shit I make and I want to listen to it. I want 808s and guitars and metal screaming and Nirvana lyrics. I was looking for that online and I couldn’t find anything that was really interesting to me.”

The search for contradictions and chaos extends into their writing process as well, “I like to spread as much nonsense as humanly possible because… I’m bored. I spent all that time trying to figure out: why do I like this? I’m just bored, nothing really entertains me. I’m gonna spew this and see if some of it sticks. […] The lyrics, and the art I make, are personal. For me, life is messy, but it’s OK because it’s all kinda’ stupid. The driving force of my lyrics is nonsense. It’s why if you ever read my lyrics it doesn’t make sense. That’s literally by design.”

Jodie Jodie Roger’s album Drowning Lessons was released in February of this year and features “collaborators” Solomon Grundy and Rudi Sainte-Cloud. “They’re all me,” Jodie smirked. “Rudi Sainte-Cloud, that’s all me. You can tell the aesthetic changes between the artists — that’s the whole point. I was like, ‘Well if I’m just an angry metal rapper, I’m gonna get extremely bored, so how can I tell people I can be like this too?’ Which vibe do you like? Do you like “808s and Cocaine”? OK listen to this. So if you see Rudi you know what it’s gonna’ sound like. If you want the more aggressive angry metal, then listen to this one.” The album explores these two characters navigating deep trauma. “Jodie Jodie Roger is the narrator and [Rudi and Solomon] are the characters I’m actually talking about. It’s a story but it’s not actually a story. I’m not gonna tell you what it’s about. It’s just how I can make music that can stay on track. There’s a big-ass story in my head that’s constantly moving and changing and I write what I think the characters might be thinking in that situation.”

Jodie Jodie Roger seesaws thoughtfulness and chaos and is intentional in the disorder they create. “I have artistic talent maybe, but I’m mostly a fucker.” Whether or not audiences can handle Jodie’s bark, you can’t deny their bite.