Features

Warm Notice

The Lido Music Residency

Warm Notice is an exciting new not-for-profit collective created to support women, non-binary, POC and otherwise marginalized BC musicians. The collective was founded by artist and community organizer Amanda Nicole, who brings nearly a decade’s experience in artist and project management, and even features a former Discorder Editor-in-Chief among its ranks!

In 2019, Warm Notice has partnered with nightlife and independent music mainstay The Lido to present The Lido Music Residency. This program runs seasonally, with 4 residencies offered per year, and secures each recipient a paid one-month performance residency at the iconic Vancouver venue. Artists in residence are guaranteed 2-4 evenings of stage time, which can be booked within a single week or spaced across weekday evenings throughout the month, and are also offered the opportunity to use an additional day for hosting a workshop or artist talk.

Applications for the very first residency, Spring 2019, have now closed, with the artist in residency soon to be announced. But Warm Notice are actively seeking applicants for future residencies, and encourage artists of all different backgrounds, approaches, and experience levels to apply. We sat down with Amanda Nicole to find out more about Warm Notice, and to ask what interested musicians need to know when considering The Lido Music Residency.

Q: Who makes up the collective? How did you come together?

A: The collective in its current form is me, Amanda Nicole, interdisciplinary artist and musician Casey Wei, and multidisciplinary artist and editor Brit Bachmann. The three of us started sharing ideas about a year ago, and Warm Notice took shape. For me it feels like it’s formed in part as a response to feelings of isolation as women in music and a longing to speak freely, create and be heard amongst peers. We look forward to having many more artists, activists and community members join the collective along the way.

 

Q: Why the Lido?

A: The Lido was a really easy choice for us, I’ve worked there for four years and I took over the programming in January. Since day one The Lido has supported local music and artists, offering hundreds of free concerts and events over the years. It’s a wonderful and safe space, there is a very serious zero tolerance for shitty, hurtful behaviour. The people who work there prioritize learning and adapt to what makes people feel safe and respected.

 

Q: We already know about the residency project at the Lido. Are there other projects in the works, and/or dreams and schemes for the future?

A: Our main focus is creating opportunities to showcase emerging musicians who have been marginalized in BC with the intent to further their career and/or export their music outside of British Columbia and Canada. Our first effort to do so is with the artist residencies. Earlier last year I started reading about and listening to talks linking the treatment of women to climate change and it blew my mind. I started reading about the brutalities women face when climate disaster strikes and it made starting up a new project seem pointless, unless we could weave in ways to shine a light on that. A big focus for us is finding ways to do that.

 

Q: How is Warm Notice funded?

A: We want to be totally transparent about where our money comes from and where it gets distributed. We think it’s an opportunity to contribute something educational for artists to reference. Once we have any money we’ll work towards creating a public document that is easy to read. The artist residencies currently are solely funded by generous donations from our peers.

Q: What do artists need to know if they’re interested in applying to The Lido Music Residency?

A: We hope musicians of all different backgrounds, approaches, and experience feel comfortable applying, we especially want artists who are women, artists of colour or marginalized for any reason to feel comfortable to apply. Once an artist is selected for the season we’ll meet with them to plan out their residency. Each residency includes live video documenting and recording , which will be given to the artist. Currently we offer  $400 per residency, which goes directly to the artist. We want this to be a useful opportunity during and following the residency. Our deadlines for the summer, fall and winter residencies are still rolling, so find us online and apply now!

Although it seems, retrospectively, both perfect and inevitable, Soleil O’wadi hadn’t planned to make their drag debut last Canada Day. In fact, they’d left the city, and were intending to spend the long weekend volunteering at an overnight camp.

But after experiencing transphobia from a fellow volunteer, Soleil decided not to stay, and found themselves back in Vancouver putting in a same-day request to the host of Commercial Drag: “I had a horrible weekend. Can I perform?”

“And then I got ready in a couple of hours,” Soleil tells me. “I went to Value Village to get something to wear; went to the dollar store to get my Canada flag, that I drenched in fake blood. And yeah, I debuted the same day that I decided to debut.”

The politically charged, emotionally intense debut, performed to Highly Suspect’s defiant “My Name Is Human,” could not have been better choreographed to introduce the bold and powerful style of Bo Dyp: the drag name under which O’wadi performs. But then, they aren’t really one for pre-planned choreography. Bringing a background in contemporary dance to their performance, Bo’s approach to drag is less about rehearsed reveals and meticulously mapped-out flourishes than an in-the-moment, embodied expression of their raw connection with a song and an emotion.

The impact of this profoundly honest performance style can be felt in the responses which it garners: “I often have the experience of a quiet and still audience while I’m on stage,” says Bo. “And a lot of people tell me about their experience of the quiet and still audience. It’s always a cool thing to experience for me: to just have the attention, and to have the space to share what I want to share.”

What Bo has to share goes well beyond what one may expect, or be prepared for, at a traditional drag show. In the 8 months they’ve been performing, they’ve hushed audiences across the city with their uncompromising refusal to shy away from complicated topics, and a visual style which references their Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw heritage (Soleil is from the Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w nation, and bears the strikingly apt Kwak’wala name Kwa̱nxwalaogwa: “One Who Possesses Thunder”).

But despite bringing attention, through their drag, to real-world injustices from ongoing colonial violence to sexual assault and ecological destruction, Bo is hesitant to describe their art as ‘activist’. Reflecting on the label, they tell me “I wouldn’t consider myself [activist], but I do have a life saturated in things that I have to care about in order to survive.”

The name Bo Dyp is a double entendre referencing both the term ‘body politics’ and the late Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw Chief and master carver Beau Dick, to whom Bo is loosely related and from whose style they draw for their mask-inspired drag looks. Indeed, part of what is so remarkable about Bo’s drag is that it does so much: continuing Dick’s powerful legacy of bringing to life and reinterpreting Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw cultural heritage, while simultaneously offering a complex exploration of the body politics with which they have experience. Bo’s drag is informed by their intersecting identities, which include being queer, AFAB, and non-binary; mixed-race, with Indigenous and white-settler ancestry; a survivor of sexual assault; and a person who experiences arthritis, depression, dysphoria, addiction, and ideation of body death.

Unsurprisingly, Bo can find bringing these experiences to the stage exhausting: “Performing is emotionally laborious for me, because of the content I perform. But it’s also releasing, and then to have the positive feedback that I do makes it even more rewarding. But the other side of that is people being like ‘you’re an asshole, you made me cry!’ — saying these things that they don’t need to say.

“And then touching me nonconsensually [sic] — like, here have a bunch of hugs; I’m gonna touch your arm; I’m gonna rub your neckpiece… People, I think, forget that performers are people. So I’m not just this shiny thing that is to be admired. If you appreciate my work: pay me. Thank me for my emotional labour, and give me some money.”

Although the emotional tax of performance is exacerbated by these tendencies within drag audiences, Bo is drawn to the medium for its accessibility and the nature of the platform it provides. Having withdrawn from formal dance education as a consequence of their arthritis, Bo explains that “drag gives me space to dance, but to dance to my own ability, without pushing my body too hard, and without doing it for a very long amount of time.”

Drag is also a tool to further what they identify as the primary goal of their practice: drawing attention to Indigenous people, Indigenous art and Indigenous issues.

“My main thing is Indigenous visibility: I want people to know that we’re still here, that we can engage with pop culture in a way that remains true to who we are… like, I’m me, and I’m Indigenous, and I’m doing this other thing that’s still me.”

Through drag, Bo is able to showcase the work of other Indigenous artists; a practice which extends from performing to Indigenous musicians (M’Girl, Frank Waln, Jeremy Dutcher, and Snotty Nose Rez Kids have all served as inspiration for Bo’s drag numbers) to starting off-stage conversations. “My make-up is sometimes inspired by specific artists and specific looks, so just having that and being able to talk about that with people [is important],” says Bo, who has modelled previous looks on masks by Klatle-Bhi, as well as Beau Dick and carvers from their own family. “It’s about getting all of us out there.”

As Bo’s star continues to rise in the Vancouver drag community, they’ve been bringing this mission and message to ever more prominent stages. After winning Commercial Drag’s first ever “All Stars” event this January, they went on to compete in the high-profile Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar competition, where they made it all the way to the finale. (Those yet to experience Bo’s drag can find these performances online, including the finale in which they lip sync to Lady Gaga’s “Til it Happens to You” as an abused and violated Mother Earth — the silence is palpable even via Youtube.)

But alongside these competitive milestones, 2019 has also brought success of a more personal kind. Shortly after their VNDS success, Bo was officially adopted by established local drag sensation Gender Spice, marking the inauguration of the House of Spice.

For Bo, the adoption means a chance to collaborate with one of their drag idols: “They were actually zone of the first drag artists who I saw and was like: ‘Wow. Amazing. I’m so impressed,’” recalls Bo. “It was my [very] first show that I went to, when I saw Gender Spice perform, and I thought: ‘Woah. They are so cool. And someday they’re gonna think I’m cool, too, because I’m gonna perform.’ And then it happened!” Laughing, Bo explains they were drawn to the style of their now drag zather because “they are really good at genderfuckery. Just like — confusing the audience. And that’s what you gotta do!”

You can find and follow Soleil O’wadi (Bo Dyp) on Instagram. Their work also appears in the catalogue of the recent Hatch Gallery exhibition Masquerade: Exploring Fashioned Resistance. To see them live, watch out for their FernGully-themed Commercial Drag booking this month, where they’ll perform both as Crysta and as Mother Earth.