A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing my good friends over at the shape collective on my radio show, Aloof Future. Having met Austin Graff and Riel Bessai, two of the four core members, during my senior year of high-school, I've been eagerly following all of their creative initiatives ever since we all moved to Montreal from Ottawa back in 2012. The fact that we've luckily managed to stay friends throughout our entire undergraduate career has definitely made it all the more easy to stay up-to-date with each other – although Facebook stalking admittedly comes in pretty handy. Regardless, it's safe to say that this interview has pretty much been a very long time in the making, as I'm always excited to find out more about what my friends are doing, and showcase their artistic efforts in any way possible.
In fact, I first found out about Montreal's shape collective back in October when they organized a stellar launch event, held in the intimacy of their own apartment slash loft-I-wish-I-lived-in. On my way to the event, I was quite uncertain about what to expect, as I had only got wind about the collective in fleeting conversations with mutual friends a few days before the launch. One step through their front door, however, I was greeted by the sounds of obscure house music blasting on massive speakers and the sight of custom artwork painted onto their walls – an unexpected surprise, to say the least. After a few minutes spent exploring the space, it finally started to come together in my mind: shape is a collective dedicated to curating immersive experiences that aim to get both your mind and your body a movin'. Be it through the physical pulsations of a classic four-on-the-floor beat blaring on the dance floor or the mind-bending intrigue of performance art coming to life right in front of your eyes, shape is a platform for showcasing the creative works of local artists in the visual arts and music scenes of this marvelous metropolis we call home.
As it had been quite a while since I last welcomed guests onto the radio show, it felt so good to finally be able to laugh at jokes that weren't mine again.
Peep the interview below:
Rochelle Jordan - Day Ones
The Code - 9.46
T-Pain - I'm Sprung
PARTYNEXTDOOR - Thirsty
Drake - Madonna
The Code feat. KasFLow - Between The Lines
Fonda Rae - Over Like A Fat Rat
Groove Junkies feat. Solara - Paradise Groove
Chaos in the CBD feat. Archie Pelago - Common Unity
If you want to check out shape online, do peep their Facebook page and Instagram, and make sure to check them out on SoundCloud! As part of their shapesessions, they've already curated a selection of nine mixes from different DJs around Montreal and even around the world. If you're lucky, you may or may not find a mix signé Aloof Hipster.
Finally, if you're interested in attending one of their events, well shit: you're in luck! On Saturday, February 19th, shape will be presenting Profile, a show based around the portrait, during which "each artist will showcase a selection of work that best defines their artistic approach to portraiture." For more information, check out the event page. I'll see you there!
Here are a few of my favourite quotes pulled from the interview:
On what shape is:
The whole idea was to create these events that stray away from the typical party. We really want to create more of an experience through the use of installation art featuring local artists and our friends, and create a vibe surrounding each party that is unique to that experience.
On the importance of showcasing the creative works of local artists:
I feel like it’s impossible to get your foot in the door. In our own small way, it’s just really good to find people we respect musically, and to be able to push their music in the way that I want to push my own music. There’s always a struggle to get your sound out there, and it’s something you work super hard on, but nobody’s listening to it.
On the synergies between visual arts and music:
You go to a gallery, but you never take in visual art – or at least for me – in the same way you can just go, close your eyes and explore sounds. So it’s really to try to bring the two together to allow the art to be complemented by the sonic experience in a way that just brings everything together into an artistic experience on the whole. So it’s not just looking at something or seeing something, but experiencing something.
On bringing people into their own home:
Bringing people into our own home is an important thing to us, in terms of creating a space where it’s not just like you’re coming to an event and there’s music and there’s art. We’re really trying to come across to people genuinely. We’re not an events company, we’re a collective.
On millenials being an "experiential" generation:
I think experiences, now and in the future, will be more important than material things. [...] We’re still striving for this genuine, new experience that we ourselves are looking for. We’re trying to create something that we have not experienced.
On living in Montreal:
This is such a creative city! There’s so few places where you could go, pay so little in rent, and have an audience that is ready to engage with art in a way that isn’t tainted by a more commercial, invisible hand. [...] It’s an incubator for collaboration and community. We’re striving for these amazing experiences, and there’s the niche here for that.
On shape's 2k16 "Phase 2":
We’re at a bit of a crossroads right now with shape. We’re trying to branch out into what we call our “Phase 2.” We’re trying to get out of mainly our own space, to create bigger and better spaces that are more a visceral and intense environment.