10 years since I’ve been running this blog. I honestly don’t know where the time went!
To commemorate this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to TREAT y’ all to a pic of this VINTAGE RAVE FLYER I found while cleaning. See those funny rectangular cutouts on the sides? I did that to make filters for my Ls. I know you destroyed a couple of flyers like that too. On the lower left corner, you will see a reference to the legendary Sunday Boat Cruises. Had I known this handbill would become a future repository of Toronto’s Dance Music History, I would not have carved it up so recklessly.
So much has changed since I started amateur music journalism in 2011. Social media platforms have overtaken blogs. It is the way of the world. Communication evolves. And so have I, my fellow Ecstaticans.
Through many ups and downs, I delivered content with passion and love for the dance music scene. And by extension, related subject matter such as underground art, psychedelics and alternative lifestyles. This blog was a journey of self-development and an utterly transformative experience. I leveraged it to obtain a copywriter post in E-commerce, which I was told I could never attain without a journalism degree. A resounding F.U. goes out to the narrow minded twat who tried to dampen my shine!
My output has diminished considerably, especially over the last year. As you know, I have been focusing on writing fiction which takes considerable time and effort to develop. It is a more exacting discipline than blogging, where basically anything goes. Lord knows the publishing industry is chock full of pitfalls. That’s why it is especially rewarding to have one’s work recognized professionally. I never made a cent from blogging. I never intended to. Frankenräver was my love letter to the dance community and an opportunity to hone my writing chops. My body of work speaks for itself.
Writing is an investment of time and resources. I do recognize my worth and I am happy to say my change of direction is paying off. Keep checking this space for future updates! And I will write the occasional post every now and then.
Good news! My sci-fi piece, X.O. Tempo has been published in Augur Magazine’s winter 2020 edition at http://www.augurmag.com
Premise: In a dystopian near-future, an Afro-Indigenous DJ finds a mysterious graphic novel and embarks on an interdimensional journey of self-discovery.
I’m so grateful to have this opportunity. It is extremely difficult for writers to get their work published, so when it happens, it means you’ve done something right!
This experience highlights the importance of hiatus (periodic breaks from routine practice) for artistic renewal. I knew it was time for my writing to evolve and took a break from blogging to work towards that. X.O. Tempo was written just before the lockdown and refined during that period.
The theme of Issue 3.2 is “A Multiplicity of Futures.” This anthology explores possible outcomes for humanity with a strong emphasis on BIPOC narratives. X.O. Tempo is the beginning of an exciting project born from my love affair with dance culture and sci-fi. Expect to see interesting developments around this later on. So what are you waiting on? Get your piece of the action in Issue 3.2 at http://www.augurmag.com in what may very well become a collector’s item 😉
9 is the number of gestation. I am birthing a beautiful brainchild onto the literary stage. Call me exhibitionist; one must not be shy when it comes to one’s talent! Taking time to steer my writing in a different direction has borne delicious fruit. I planted the seeds and toiled for hours, through covid lockdown and turbulent times. You think writing is glamorous? Well I’m here to tell you it ain’t. It can be isolating and often, those close to you don’t see the value of it. Worst is when the demons of self-doubt attack when you have to slay some literary darlings in the fiery hell of editing.
After 9 years, I have realized that this blog won’t last forever. And that’s okay. I have given back to the dance music community from my heart. I never monetized the blog; then again, it was never about money. Yet I do recognize my intrinsic self-worth. It is why I have chosen a new path in not just writing but my creative career. Thanks to all of you for being part of my loopy journey! Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks to come.
Today, September 18th, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix’s passing. Though primarily associated with rock music, Jimi incorporated funk, rhythm and blues to create his remarkably complex signature sound. His legacy has influenced numerous artists across many genres including dance music. He is one of the most recognizable musicians of the modern era; his face gracing everything from t-shirts and mugs to cushions and murals.
To commemorate this special day, I have decided to share a photo album of my experience at Jimi Hendrix’s 40th anniversary in London, England. (see link below):
“Axis: Bold as Love” (1967) was the first album of his I listened to. I was absolutely floored by the richness of textures, soundscapes and lyrics. Quite frankly, I’d never heard anything like it! Jimi Hendrix took me on a journey of self-discovery whose effects resonate within my soul today. As a Black man, Jimi shook the lily-White rock establishment, placing himself at the apex with a bold act of cultural reclamation. Rock music evolved from early rhythm and blues artists such as SisterRosetta Tharpe, Little Richard and Ike Turner, who never got commercial recognition as pioneers of this artform due to institutionalized racism.
Hendrix was fortunate to have worked with many gifted artists and pioneered innovative techniques such as the instrumental usage of feedback and the wah-wah pedal. “Electric Ladyland” (1968) is a sprawling testament to his genius, recorded during a chaotic period of personnel disputes and inner conflict with career goals and his hard-partying lifestyle.
The Band of Gypsys was a band unlike any other. Comprised of bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, their brand of funk-laced rock produced one of the best concerts of all time (Live At The Fillmore East). Furthermore, they were an all-Black rock band – something virtually unheard of at that time. Unfortunately, their success was short-lived but their futuristic legacy lives on for anyone brave enough to pick up where they left off.
As an Afro-Indigenous musician of Native American ancestry, Hendrix proudly embraced his Cherokee heritage, evidenced by his choice of turquoise jewellery, fringed jackets and moccasins during iconic performances such as Woodstock (1969). In an era of police brutality and Black Lives Matter, Jimi is the embodiment of two marginalized groups united in the fight against racial injustice in North America. He raised political consciousness amongst youth of his generation with anti-war classic “Machine Gun” and his rebellious rendition of “Star-Spangled Banner.”
His untimely death raised many questions which may never be answered but the Electric Gypsy’s inimitable style lives on in our hearts and minds. Be Bold As Love from this day forth!
Today, I am taking time out from hiatus to express my thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. COVID-19 and its consequential social distancing has changed commerce, communications, entertainment and the way we party. In 2020 A.D., a well-dressed virus has done the cha-cha all over our beloved rituals and humdrum routines, leaving chaos and anxiety in its wake. We are not allowed to even dance with one another in social settings, much less get in someone’s face to ask for directions. The new normal has arrived and it is virtual, for the most part. Which begs the question; what kind of world do you wish to create? I’d like my future children to have the freedom to dance with others in large groups, if they so desire. It seems that future has been jeopardized by the choices that we, humanity, are making as a collective. Moving too fast with hi-tech lifestyles and spending way less time just sitting with ourselves alone, engaging in honest dialogue with others that is not broken up by sporadic texts sent over a data net like a perverse game of ping-pong.
Turns out, there’s nothing quite like external agency to shake things up and rearrange priorities, especially when people aren’t paying attention to what’s truly important. Clean air and authentic human connections matter more than money. I think this crisis is an opportunity for growth, renewal and letting stuff go whether they be toxic people, fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake attitudes. For those of us who aren’t in danger, we are fortunate to have this luxury of self-isolation to examine who we are and where we want to go while the system resets itself. When it rebounds, if you have done the work on yourself, you may move forward at warp speed, experiencing life in a totally new and incredible way.
My thoughts go out to all those who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through illness, loss of loved ones, unemployment and emotional distress. You are not alone. Everyone across the planet is being affected by this crisis in some shape or form. I encourage you to reach out for support; help is available and technology has facilitated its dissemination via social media and online communities.
Social distancing is a challenging situation, where days plod by in a seemingly interminable march towards weeks which eventually turn into months. Believe me – we can do this! When it’s over, we should take care to remember and embody all the insights we have gleaned during this period otherwise the next shakedown might unveil a harsher truth; we may never dance again.
4 years ago on this day, Prince departed our world. His peerless contributions to music and humanity will continue to enrich lives in present and future generations. Discovering gems like this performance made me realize I will spend the rest of my life on an endless treasure hunt when it comes to his artistry. So I take a moment to remember genius and express gratitude for all the joy this remarkable person has brought into existence.
8 is symbolic of infinity.A closed double loop signifying completion.
8 years for Frankenräver to evolve and embrace what is to come.
After much thought, I have decided to go on hiatus. Other projects require my full attention and focus so that they can grow into ravishingly successful monsters!
I have tons of articles I’d love to throw up. Unfortunately, the luxury of time is not abundant like before. Besides, I have given all of you so much to digest over 8 years and further into the future. I figure now it’s time to reap tangible benefits from the talents that I have honed through the hard work and sacrifice that it took to maintain Frankenräver.
This blog has brought many blessings into my life. I am so grateful that I could share my gifts with the globe (over 160 countries to date).
Thanks to all of my fellow Ecstaticans for being part of this wonderful journey! I have gained so much insight about my relationship to dance culture. It is my sincere hope that your lives have been enriched through entertainment, whether through music or my engaging articles.
Do check this page every once in a while as I will post updates on my upcoming projects.
Too late I sank the 8 but wait – the game ain’t over! 😉
If you’ve partied in Toronto’s underground within the last 20 plus years, chances are you’ve seen Ab Boles. A flamboyant fixture at countless raves, clubs and warehouse parties, Abs is the elder statesman of dance music culture in the Toronto. He recently got some recognition with a front cover on NOW magazine in August. So when I found out he was celebrating his 70th birthday at the ROUND venue in Kensington Market, I had to pay my respects.
Architectures on Thursdays is known for its chill, psytrance vibe and they delivered as usual. Special guest Living~Stone from Montréal ran the decks with accompanying visuals from Nostylejack. 20% of proceeds from ticket sales went towards Rainforest Alliance, a charity supported by Abs. Now that’s what I call conscious partying. At the rate humans are going, future generations might have nothing but a patch of scorched earth to dance on. Abs’ thoughtful gesture sets an example for many of us to follow.
When I first saw Abs, I was a youth at a rave in the 90’s. I thought he looked old enough to be my dad yet he danced like there was no tomorrow. I got used to seeing him everywhere; at clubs, parties, The Guvernment, Cherry Beach. Everyone that I knew accepted Abs as he was and left him alone. He always seemed to be completely absorbed in a zone but his outfits were fantastic. I realized that past a certain age, most people retire from the club scene but not Abs. In his world, it was perfectly acceptable to party past middle age. This colourful elder demonstrates that when it comes to raving, age ain’t nothing but a number!
Tonight Abs was warm, effusive and basking in his blessings. I told him how happy I was for him and how much it meant seeing him on the dance-floor all these years. Other revellers approached with gifts. I even met his son. It was touching to see the reverence paid to this elder. Abs still looked the same as I remembered him back in the day. Enough of the age-shaming that is so endemic in western culture – Abs, I salute you for aging defiantly and dancing to the beat of your own drum. May you live to rave much more!
Amidst the noisy clamour of mainstream music are calm ripples of beauty, so quiet that they may slip by unnoticed. But not entirely with those that have ears to hear. Lone Lady (Julie Campbell) from Manchester U.K. is one such artist who commands your attention. “Groove It Out” (off Hinterland, 2015) grabbed my ears during a mundane shopping excursion at a department store. Thanks to Shazam, I was able to identify the track and absorb its lush glory during repeated listening sessions. Reminiscent of mid-80’s acid house with artfully layered synths, a la “Voodoo Ray” and “Theme from S-Express, ” Groove It Out transports you to another era while remaining firmly grounded in this one.
The video was shot in what appears to be a decrepit warehouse (most likely in Manchester) that pays homage to Julie’s roots and the post-industrial environment that helped inspire her music.
Lone Lady is truly a one-woman show. She sings, writes and produces her own music in addition to playing several instruments including cello, keypads, samplers, bass and guitar. I’m all for sisters doing it for themselves (which is never easy in a male-dominated industry). Lone Lady does it in her unique, inimitable way so I encourage you to support her music, explore her albums and spread the word! http://lonelady.co.uk/
Afrofuturism is hot. Ever since “Black Panther” clawed its way to box-office glory with a killer soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, the concept has taken feverish hold on a growing fanbase. In the heady rush to capitalize on this trend, let us take time to appreciate Parliament-Funkadelic, the phenomenally futuristic acid-funk-rock-proto-punk-band with a history so vast that it cannot be contained in a single blogpost. Here is a band teeming with enough inspiration to inspire future generations. As pioneers, these exceptionally talented musicians, showmen and show-women were truly ahead of their time. Some of us are only now catching up to them. Others never will but that’s alright. P-Funk knew exactly who they were playing to.
For much of my life, I’ve been familiar with smash hits such as Atomic Dog, One Nation Under a Groove and Tear The Roof Off The Sucker. But I knew nothing about P-Funk mythology until I spied Wax Poetics Issue 18 in a record store on Queen St. West in 2006. My interest was piqued by the animated figures of the band on the cover, (Mothership and all!) created by hip-hop sculptor Jean-Yves Blanc so I bought the magazine. It turned out to be an entertaining mix of archival photos, artwork and interviews with various band members and collaborators but most of all, it gave me clear insight into The Funk Mob spirit. Therefore, photos and references in my blogpost have been extrapolated from Wax Poetics Issue 18 — a rarity since it is now out-of-print.
Peep this photo of The Parliaments taken in 1966. Now try to reconcile that with the wildly colourful elder statesmen of funk we know now. If Sun-Ra was the godfather of musical Afrofuturism then George Clinton is the high-priest!
Equally mindblowing is that in the early 70’s, Parliament-Funkadelic briefly relocated to Toronto, Canada. They even played gigs at The Hawk’s Nest which was located at 333 Yonge St. just north of Dundas. On The Robin Seymour show that aired from Windsor in the 60’s, the band used to wild out during their live performance and smoke ganja onstage in a hooka. After glimpsing their appearance on the show in a documentary, I realized that The Parliaments were Black artists that had given birth to punk a decade before it came to prominence through their unique interpretation of performance art that was previously thought to be the domain of hippies and privileged White artists. You could say they were…blippies! P-Funk were far-out, freakishly gifted and too funked-up to care what the mainstream thought. They had embarked on the trip of a lifetime and there was no stopping the souped-up funkateers, on course to make their collective mark on music history.
I could spend days speaking of Maggot Brain and what Eddie Hazel‘s searing guitar solo did to my brain cells. Or Bootsy Collins‘ larger than life Starchild persona. Or raving that Alice In My Fantasies is one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. What’s the point? Just listen and experience greatness for yourself.
There is no question that the P-Funk multiverse consists of deeply intelligent beings, many playing the role of cosmic clowns in order to get their message of psychic liberation across. Parallel dimensions await people of all colours to “free your mind and your ass will follow!” The Mothership is really a metaphor for the vehicular mind freed from mental slavery. A mind set loose from its artificial moorings can traverse throughout the universe, to places many would not believe possible. Parliament-Funkadelic knew this and embraced cosmic philosophy in their branding strategies and outlandish performances.
My sole criticism of Issue 18 is input should have been included from the leading ladies of P-Funk’s empire, like Brides of Funkenstein’s Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry. They are still touring and I’m sure they have many interesting tales to tell about their experiences as women in a band notorious for their outlandish antics.
Parliament-Funkadelic knew the masses could only handle small doses of G-(alactic) tonic. So they diluted and spoonfed listeners bit by bit, ensuring to disguise the medicine in polychromatic layers of highbrow silliness, yet retaining the strength of the message in their art. Of course, what they were really creating went over a lot of people’s heads because their stage act and marketing ploys were so outrageous but they didn’t care! Top notch is the donkey taking a dump on the steps of Royal Albert Hall to promote “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow” in 1971. Apparently, the donkey was telepathically attuned to the band’s desire to overcome institutionalized racism – and made its contribution to the cause. Which in turn caused outrage from the stuffy British establishment while busting down barriers so the band could successfully tour Europe to sold-out crowds.
Through all of the internal squabbles, financial difficulties, drug abuse and inevitable losses, Parliament-Funkadelic succeeded in their mission because they knew it would take at least another 60 years for people to have that aha moment.
Having been recently honoured at the Grammys with a Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2019 and wrapping up a farewell tour for George simultaneously, it’s great to see Parliament-Funkadelic getting industry recognition that ‘s long overdue. Obviously, Afrofuturists can’t rely on the wilfully blind to show us the way because often, by the time they come around, our gifted professors have long flown ship.
Whether you can believe it or not, Parliament-Funkadelic is in fact, a front for futuristic entities to show the dispossessed a way out of their personal funk. They found music to be a far more effective method of preaching to the population and they exploited that angle to the hilt. So what we have 62 years later is a living, breathing legacy that is still influencing next-gen musicians tapping into this dynamic, trans-dimensional lifeline. Despite old wounds, love remains among some surviving members, which was evident during their performance at the 2019 Grammys.
Wax Poetics Issue 18 is the definitive guide on the history of Parliament-Funkadelic, albeit in condensed form. It blows the cover off their delirious disguise and exposes them for what they really are and it may even blow your mind as well.
Kudos to Andre Torres, Matt Rogers, Edward Hill, Dante Carfagna and Richard Edson for your outstanding contributions to making Issue 18 a stellar example of music journalism.