FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #6 – l i l a

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the sixth installment of this series, I spoke with Marianne (she/they) the front person and songwriter of l i l a. Other members of l i l a include Anthony (he/him) on guitar and synth, Audrey (she/her) on drums, and Pascal (he/him) on synth.

it is / a mood / a small gesture / a fragile sound / like cracking ice / maybe / a flower / maybe / a landscape / or maybe just / soft & slow sounds / from somewhere / between the sea / and the sky / hoping to comfort one / somehow / sometimes / in the darkest times

lilaPhoto by Phillipe St-Pierre

You named on your social media that your first EP, songs from a room, bloomed l i l a. Can you speak more to this — the beginnings of what is now l i l a?

oui! i’ve been working on my music for 4 and a half years now and for the first 3 years, i did it under my birth name [marianne poirier]. it was okay at first, but then i started to think and feel like it wasn’t what i wanted. it was not that my name was wrong, that i didn’t like it or anything, it just didn’t feel like it belonged with my music and my art. i wanted to detach myself from myself somehow, and create a full persona for my work. i thought about changing my name for a whole year before finally doing it but it’s kind of funny because in the end, i think i always knew i wanted to be called l i l a.

it felt like it represented me well. when they hear/see/read it, people might think of the flower [lilas/lilac], people might think of the smell, people might think of the colour but then again, it’s none of it and all of it at the same time. l i l a is for the idea of the ephemeral, the revival, the softness, the mystery, the secrecy. i wanted people to know me for who i was becoming and who i am now and not what they saw me as 4 years ago [i was on The Voice..yah..and people kind of identified me as the cute girl wearing a hat]. it kinda made me mad somehow because that is not what/who i am. i am human and that is all. i carry oceans and i play sad music. i wanted something neutral, i wanted it to be mysterious. i wanted anyone to feel like they could be l i l a, you know ? i didn’t want anyone to assume anything about me and my music without even hearing/seeing it and so yah, changing my name was the first step i felt i had to take..and so i did, but i also felt like it wasn’t enough just to change name: i had to give [something] to people. the idea of recording my first EP on my own came really randomly, but it also seemed like the right/best thing i could do. i wanted to do everything myself to show people who l i l a truly was/ gonna be and so i handmade 50 physical copies, all with a different drawing, made the jackets, burned the CD’s, did everything and i said:

here is me: here is l i l a. [it worked pretty well, i must say. and i was surprised! but also very happy and relieved because i was already working on the next thing when it came out]

I really want to acknowledge and appreciate how everything that I’ve come to know about l i l a is very personal and very tender — your song writing, the bedroom recording by you, the unique drawings for each copy and each t-shirt. There is a certain kind of care here that isn’t often seen. Would you be willing to share the importance that carefully hand making and personalizing everything has for you?

seriously, that is so sweet. i am deeply touched and must say that i got kind of emotional reading that’s the way you perceived l i l a because that’s exactly what it’s all about: caring.

doing music/art is my self care and i want it to help other people too. it is crucial for me that anyone feels included and important all the time. everything i do is very personal, yes, but it is also inspired by [everyone and anyone] so that’s why i want people to feel like they can still belong to it and with it. i want them to be able to recognize themselves in all my art and the last thing i want is to be placed on top of anyone [i notice there’s a certain hierarchy and coldness that can take place in the arts and i totally hate it]. i don’t want anyone to feel like what i do is not accessible or unaffordable and i think that is why i feel the urge to do everything myself. i am a real pisces [drama drama] and every single thing goes straight to my heart. i am very emotional and i feel like i want people to experience l i l a in that way too. i think that doing everything [my merch] by myself makes me feel closer to people and it also makes people feel closer to me. i know and they know that when they buy something of mine, they’ll have a real piece of l i l a/me and that they’ll be the only to ever have it. i find that very beautiful and i want to always make sure that everyone buying something from me understands what it means to me and how important it is and how grateful i am for them to even consider my art. I couldn’t do less or else i’d feel like i am not being truly true.  

I read in an article (2019) that at the songs from a room EP launch in the Saint-Jean bookstore in Montreal, folks in the crowd were sitting and listening on cushions in front of you. To me, this sounds very comforting, intimate, and safe. Is this the kind of a environment you are hoping to cultivate at your FLOURISH show on April 27th?

the whole idea behind that night was to recreate my bedroom [because that was where i recorded most of the EP] so my friends and i moved all the tables and chairs, put blankets and cushions on the floor, hung christmas lights and sheets on the walls and ceilings, burnt incense, hung my drawings and even served kombucha! it felt exactly like my bedroom and with all the books around, it was so lovely. i was scared people wouldn’t show up because i called the show very last minute, but we ended up refusing people at the door cause the place was too full ! it was such a nice night, i still get the feels.

for the release of my new EP [quiet as fire], i did it at « le Knockout », which is a independent record store downtown Quebec City. it felt like the perfect place to do it since i released the EP on vinyl. i did things a little differently this time, but the main idea was still to create this very intimate and comforting place. i made it all very dark and the [almost] only lights were those purple christmas lights i hung with shiny garlands on that decor that my dad had built me. the night started with a listening of the vinyl and then i played that new solo set with my loop pedal, mixing both music and poetry. i think people were very surprised by all of it and then again, it was so lovely.

i always want to try and create a whole universe when i’m playing. it can never be just music because in my heart it’s not just music. i want people to be experienced. i want them to let themselves feel [things]. i must say that i am in my solitude a lot when i play. i love solitude and i am not afraid nor sad when i go there. i feel peaceful, nostalgic yes, but also very calm and serene. i feel like it is too often a place within oneself that people are afraid to go? but i really want to try and have people go there during my shows. not to have them feel sad or anything, but to have them realize that it’s all ok. because the music is so deep and introspective, a safe and soothing space is needed and it is my job to create it for them. from the lightning to the way they are seated, i always try to create this intimate and comforting place in which everyone can just breathe and move or close their eyes or be happy or cry [i’ve seen people do it] or dance or feel whatever they want to feel.

i am definitely hoping and going to try and create something similar [but also different, of course] at my FLOURISH show! i can’t wait to see the place and people! xxx

In the same post that you mentioned the blooming of l i l a, you also mentioned that there are many more amazing things to come. Are you able to share what some of those things might be?

Oui mais non mais non mais oui!

i must admit that i always write that [new things are coming out soon] to try and keep people around and have them in that perpetual state of wonder and mystery.  

Then again, I am constantly creating and working on new stuff: videos, songs, poetry, art stuff..and so i might just be working on new merch for Flourish! i don’t even know what i’ll be doing in an hour so who knows what’s coming up?

i guess i could say that we started pre-producing the second EP and that it is going to be crazy cool/good, but not out so soon yet. i will also have more shows coming up, one of which is gonna be pretty epic and it will take place this summer in Quebec City, my city. i cannot say more because it has not been announced yet and i think that people will still have to wait a few weeks before i can say anything serious about it all. BUT i can say watch out for it because you won’t want to miss it ! ! !

See l i l a live:

April 27th @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.

April 28th @ bloom fest, Sackville, NB.


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW#5 – FROOTI TOOT-E

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the fifth instalment of this series, I spoke with Rachel / Tomato (she/her), Claire / Banana (she/her), and Lauren / Peach (she/her) from Frooti Toot-E (NB) – a project that started out as just a joke on instagram between these high school pals.

frooti tooti.JPG
Photo by David Cheng

I *loved* the article that The Aquinian recently published that centers all ages programming at FLOURISH and interviews the youth that have been booked to perform or install art at the festival (Flatt, 2019). In this article, you were quoted saying that Frooti Toot-E started as a joke on instagram – could you let me, and the readers, in on this joke and the formation of the band?

Tomato: Well basically Peach and I took the course “Sound and Recording” this year at school. We got to make music using Logic Pro – basically a fancy expensive version of GarageBand. We found it really fun to make funny music and the joke kind of started with “oh my god, imagine if we started a band and it was just weird, funny music! imagine if we PERFORMED!”. We just thought it was funny until one day we said, “wait.. like.. we could easily do that, we just have to make an instagram and soundcloud. It’s grad year – why not!” and the band kind of took off from there.

You were also quoted saying that you had never intended to play a show, but then it “became something real”. How did this happen? Does Fredericton often embrace and centre youth in the music and arts community?

Tomato: No, we honestly never thought it’d be possible to perform live since most of our music is just us singing over a backing track we made ourselves, but our music teacher (shout-out to Mr. Webber!!) really encouraged us and gave us a way for this to happen which was incredible. Performing live has been super fun and I honestly am super grateful to Mr. Webber for helping us start that.

And yeah! I think Fredericton definitely has places where they encourage youth to be creative with music and other forms of art – the Charlotte Street Arts Center has been an awesome place for us personally and i know they do a lot of events to encourage youth to be creative. I think that’s awesome.

What can folks at FLOURISH fest expect from your set at shiftwork on Thursday, April 25th?

Banana: Well.. definitely something they probably haven’t seen before. Our sets are pretty unique but definitely playful and fun – the whole set has sort of a storyline to it which we think is cool. We hope people will like it!

I’ve seen and heard many folks (Jane Blanchard, Motherhood, The Aquinian) refer to Frooti Toot-E as fashion icons. Can you tell me about your aesthetic and why this is a critical part of your performance?

Peach: haha! The day jane said that about us we all freaked out !! Motherhood thinks we’re FASHION ICONS?!?

But yeah, fashion and style is something we really like to incorporate into our performances. Because we are all fruit, we make sure to dress in our fruit colours, so i’m dressed all in pink, Rachel (tomato) in red, and Claire (banana) in yellow.

We just like to have fun with our outfits and be as creative as possible when deciding what to wear to our shows. We’ve worn skirts from value village as shirts and full pastel wigs before – it changes every time!

What are some ways that you feel Frooti Toot-E is paving the way for other youth to take up space in music and arts communities? Do you have any advice for creative youth?

Tomato: I think because we’re so different from i guess “normal” or your typical form of music, it might encourage people and show them that they can make whatever they want. Although not everyone will like it (you can’t please everyone), there’s always going to be people who enjoy it .

This sound cheesy, but as long as you’re creating and having fun, that’s all that matters.

Banana: Yeah I agree. For advice, I’d say just be brave and try your hardest to create for yourself and not to please other people – it’s YOUR art, not theirs. Being creative is fun!

See Frooti Toot-E live on April 25th at FLOURISH Festival!


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #4 – THANYA IYER

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the fourth interview in the series, I spoke with Thanya Iyer (she/her), “an enigmatic songwriter who crafts sparkling experimental pop music” (2018) who is one-third of her self-titled band, Thanya Iyer (Montreal). Currently working on a visual album called “Kind”, their music “empowers listeners to embrace mindfulness, aesthetic beauty, and the interconnectedness of all things” (2018).

Thanya 2 by Sophie Grouev .jpgPhoto by Sophie Grouev

In your music there are themes of change, healing, growth, and dreaming – all tools for resistance. Are there overarching forces that drive and motivate these themes in your songwriting?

Definitely! Songwriting and music in general for me has this amazing ability to engage people, create community and provide healing in a deeply therapeutic way. My songs are about my journey and the journey of life, the things we face throughout them, where we are going, where we come from, who we are. A lot of my songs tell stories that travels through questions around racism, healing, chronic pain and disability, aging, depression, and acceptance.

I’ve noticed that while you are resistant to define your own music, you have been explicit that you do not use guitar. Your soundscape, and the intentional absence of guitar, draws many parallels for me to Lido Pimienta! During a live performance, I recall her stating that she’s not interested in collaborating and creating sound with guitar – drawing it back to being a woman of colour in an industry that is dominated by white men with guitars. Would you be willing to share reasons and feelings behind your intentional absence of guitar?

Its true! We don’t have a guitar. While I have many beautiful friends who play the guitar and know some wonderful people who have guitars in their music, it’s just not really something that has ever appealed to me! A lot of the musical frequencies that the range of the guitar has is quite similar to violins and synths that I already cover and of course there is just also a high frequency of white men with guitars in the universe already. (I love Lido Pimienta by the way and all her work and am so inspired by her music and motherhood and vibe).

It is definitely difficult to be in a world where there isn’t a lot of visibility for amazing women and folks of colour creating awesome music and doing wonderful things. Because insecurities do come up about your worth and your ability to keep going, and incidents where people treat you less then you are happen. A discussion with a good friend a couple years ago made me realize that maybe it’ll take just a little bit longer for my music to reach the surface because i’m not really “marketable” (in the sense that I’m not white and didnt have bangs (no offence to people with bangs)). But I feel like the best thing that we can do is just keep doing it! Never give up and live our truth. All of my role models and the musicians I love are just doing it! Making amazing music and just continuing! Living their truth and pushing forward in a world that’s not so easy to exist in.

I read in an interview (2018) that you were in the recording stages of an album that you will be calling Kind. Can we expect to hear this album in the near-future?

Yes, you can hear it eventually but I’m not exactly sure when! Definitely within the next year! We are in the process of finishing the album, and we recently had some sessions with some amazing collaborators who are all bandleaders of their own and a part of the montreal community (including a very rad group of female singer-songwriters who formed the MAWMZ PLUS choir, Tamara Sandor, Emilie Kahn on harp and voice, Corey Gulkin, Brigitte Naggar (Common Holly), Shelby Cohen and Sarah Rossy and Frédérique Roy on voice and accordian) – . We are just in the final stages making a mix and making some art and all of that stuff.

Another huge part of the project is that we would like to release the album as a 20 minute film. We have all the music ready and have the same team who created our DayDreaming music video on board to create some magic, Bucky Illingworth directing, Elysha Poirier and Sophia Grouev on animation!

For folks attending Flourish Festival, could you share what spaces you like to create and the impressions or messages you try to communicate during a live performance?

We love to create a space that is comfortable and safe and home! I love to connect with people and share and hear their stories and their journey. I love interacting with the audience and creating a warm atmospheric soundscape universe for people to submerge themselves in.

We recently added a new band member, Sophia Grouev who will be doing visual projections at the show. Sophia is such a lovely person and also helps create the dream world and vision we are going for, just to lift you out of reality for a moment and then bring you right back in.


See Thanya Iyer live:

April 11 – @ 12 CAT Arts Collective, Kingston, ON.

April 12 – Kazoo! Fest, Guelph, ON.

April 13th – w/ I am Robot & Proud, World News, and Precious Jewel @ Wavelength Music Series, Toronto, ON.

April 25th* – @ BAE, Bangor, ME.

April 26th – @ FLOURISH Festival, Fredericton, NB.

April 28th* – @ Casa Del Popolo, Montreal, QC.

April 29th* – @ Live! on Elgin, Ottawa, ON.

May 2nd* – @ This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton, ON.

May 3rd* – @ The Baby G, Toronto, ON.

May 4th* – @ Spark Art Space, Syracuse, NY.

May 5th* – @ BSP Kingston, Kingston, NY.

* – w/ And the Kids


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #3 – EVA GEORGE

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the third interview in this series, I spoke with one of the staff members at Charlotte Street Arts Centre (a FLOURISH venue), Eva George (she/they). With over ten years’ experience working at organizations that serve youth & community, she now oversees social development programming at CSAC. As part of this position, she is planning and organizing a music festival called FEST FORWARD that gives space to emerging musicians and their professional development. Outside of CSAC, Eva loans her time to planning and organizing two growing music festivals, Feels Good Follyfest and St. Andrews Paddlefest.

eva george

Photo by Julie Easley

For folks that are unfamiliar with Charlotte Street Arts Centre, can you first give me an overview of its role in the community?

Charlotte Street Arts Centre is a focal point of community based arts.  We are unique in that we offer free programming to individuals and groups who might usually face financial barriers to accessing the arts.  We also have two galleries and we are the home to a growing list of tenants who are rooted in the arts, for example NB Film Co-Op has been a long time resident as well as a number of artists and dancers who have studios in our building.  Our newly renovated space and annex has given us physical accessibility with an elevator that services all levels of the building. We have a beautiful auditorium which has hosted many great performances.

I’m curious to know more about your position as ArtReach Program Manager – can you share with me what kind of programming you develop and offer through CSAC?

As ArtReach Program Manager I work with our community partners to go after funding opportunities so that we can offer them free arts based programming.  We partner with The Multi-Cultural Association of Fredericton, The Boys & Girls Club, Evelyn Grove Manor, Fredericton Mental Health & Addictions as well as Youth in Transition to name a few.  Our programming is very much based on the needs expressed by the communities we serve and we hire professional artists to facilitate our programs. Along with Penny from Motherhood and Jane Blanchard we created the very first Girls+ Rock Camp in New Brunswick which has since grown to Moncton and Saint John is planning their first camp as well.  

In this position, as a board member at Youth in Transition, facilitator for Girls+ Rock Camp, and as a parent, I’m wondering if you can you speak to how important it is to offer art and music spaces that are accessible to youth?

Young people are really great at taking the lead and doing amazing things when adults step out of the way and give them space to do so.  Our Girls+ Rock Camp really has been a highlight of my career in youth/community work. I have always been of the mind set that if you can’t see it, you won’t be it, so by giving Girls+ the opportunity to take centre stage through the support of our (wo)mentors from the local music community we are hopefully transforming the future of the music scene which historically has been overly dominated by men.  

In speaking with Jane, the co-director of Flourish Festival, it is clear how important all-ages programming is to the festival. What are you feeling especially excited to host at CSAC during Flourish Festival this year?

We are super excited to host a Girls+ Rock Jam with some of the visiting bands on the Saturday afternoon of FLOURISH.  I have a super big band crush on Motherhood so I am really pumped for their show here on Friday and we don’t get enough Jane Blanchard these days so I am really looking forward to that show on Saturday evening.


Contribution by Nikki A Basset

FLOURISH FEST: INTERVIEW #2 – TERRE WA

As part of the media coverage for FLOURISH (April 25-28), not your boys club will be having conversations with some of the folks that will be organizing, creating, and performing at the festival.

For the second interview of the series, I spoke with Indigo (she/they), Erin (she/her), and Emily (she/her) from Fredericton’s own, Terre Wa.

Indigo Rain Poirier (synth/drum machine) is an electronic musician recently awarded “artist of the year” for their solo project, Wangled Teb. Erin Goodine (synth) is an interdisciplinary artist, collaborator, and designer new to improvised electronic music. Emily Kennedy (cello) is a cellist, improviser, and collaborator active in genre-crossing projects with poets, textile artists, and dancers.

Together, Terre Wa is a powerful synthesis of these diverse backgrounds in visual arts and classical, experimental, and electronic music. Their improvised sets can abruptly turn from heart-wrenchingly beautiful to dark, intense, and menancing.

terre_wa.jpg

Photo by Emily Kennedy

How did Terre Wa form and how long have you been creating and playing music together?

Indigo: Terre Wa originally kind of grew out of a project Erin, her sister Robin, and myself were organizing called Sunday Music Spa. Sunday Music Spa is an ambient jam session for women and non-binary people where we set up a bunch of synths/drum machines, encourage people to bring their own instruments if they want or to use ours, and relax and make noise together in a soothing, supportive environment. Sometimes we make tea. It’s great. We had been hosting these sessions periodically for about a year or so, I think? Anyway, after awhile of performing together in that space, Erin and I ended up playing a set at Reads (god rest its soul) along with New Hermitage and Northern Apparatus, and then we decided we wanted to keep performing together and asked Emily to join us not long after.

Erin: Yeah, I think we had been doing Sunday Music Spa for around a year by that time. Sunday Music Spa came out of the need for a space that welcomed experimentation from people who were not musicians. I’ve always been interested in synthesizers and experimental music, but it always felt so daunting to learn how to play that type of music myself. After having that space to learn more about synthesizers and the time to experiment, Indigo was so generous to invite me to play a set at Reads with them even though I didn’t have much experience. It was the first time I had ever played music in front of an audience, but it was really encouraging and we got really good feedback from that first show. Once Emily joined us we became Terre Wa and everything came together so well.

Emily: Yeah, I went to that first show at Reads, and it was awesome! I was so stoked on it, I was was pretty tickled when they asked me if I wanted to jam, and then that was that. I’ve always enjoyed electronic music, and Terre Wa has been an awesome project to just explore how a good old wooden cello can fit in and mix with that kind of soundscape.

What can people typically expect from a Terre Wa set? Specifically at Flourish?

Erin: I guess it’s hard to say what to expect because it’s so different every time! Since all of our performances are improvised, we don’t necessarily know what it’s going to sound like going into a set. We did start to notice that the spaces we’ve performed in have really influenced the sound, like bar venues tend to be louder and more intense, while outdoor areas and quieter venues build up slower and are more relaxed. We will be creating an outdoor sound installation at Flourish this year as well as performing, so that will definitely influence the sound.

It seems that, outside of playing music together as Terre Wa, you are all very active in the music and arts community. I was hoping you could all offer some insight and perspective on the community there for folks not living, working, and creating in Fredericton.

Emily: Fredericton is a pretty special little arts community. I’m from New Brunswick, but I had lived in Ontario for seven years or so before deciding to move back home. It was really eye opening coming back – there are just so many supportive and hard working artists and musicians here. I think when I left, I felt the classic “grass is always greener” need to get away from where I was from, to go someplace larger. It feels even more special now to see how much of a gem this place is. There is this very grass roots, do-it-yourself culture here. People aren’t afraid to just start something, whether it’s a musical project or a festival. When you see that all around you, it’s inspiring. You realize that you can do that as well.

What does Flourish Festival mean for each of you? 

Erin: Flourish always feels like such a nice celebration. Friends come back to town, the weather gets warmer. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows at Flourish, not only because of the amazing musicians and artists, but also for the space it creates.

Emily: Yes! Flourish is the best way to send off winter – a weekend jam packed with great music, art and pals.

Erin, can you specifically talk about your involvement with the arts and the collaborative textile poster that you worked on for Flourish?

Erin: Yes! I primarily work as a graphic designer by day, and had the opportunity to collaborate with my sister Robin Goodine and Emily Blair on the Flourish Fest poster. They created a textile piece in Montreal and I designed a poster around it. I’m also an interdisciplinary  artist and have contributed artwork and installations for Flourish Fest in the past and have been involved in many collaborative art projects in Fredericton with the Shiftwork Collective and Connexion ARC. I’ve had some really great opportunities to collaborate with many amazing artists and musicians over the years. I also recently collaborated with Emma Hassencahl-Perley and Emilie Grace Lavoie on a curatorial project at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery that will be open during Flourish Festival this year.

Indigo, I know that you also play solo under the name Wangled Teb. Through this project, I saw that you will be offering a free workshop at The Charlotte Street Arts Centre Auditorium that will empower folks to use Ableton Live. Can you share what folks can expect of this workshop?

Yes! I’m going to talk about some basic terms that people should be familiar with when mixing, some general techniques for EQ and compression, a brief explanation of subtractive/analog synthesizers, and how I use Ableton for live performance. I might also go a bit deeper into how I approach writing a piece if there’s time.

What are each of you most excited for during this years Flourish Festival outside of your involvement(s)?

Indigo: Definitely excited to see Property again. I saw them play at Reads (god rest its soul) last year and they were AWESOME. Also that whole lineup for the Shiftwork show on Friday looks great!!

Erin: I’m excited to see Indigo and Emily’s other projects Wangled Teb and Pallmer! I’m also looking forward to seeing Carinae again. I saw them for the first time at last years Quality Block Party in Saint John, and they were amazing!

Emily: Yes, all of the above! And I can’t wait to see Thanya Iyer (and everything on Friday..), and the Flourish Gallery Crawl – – should be a lot of fun!

Terre Wa plays Flourish Festival on Saturday, April 27th at The Charlotte Street Arts Centre Auditorium (all ages / doors at 530 / $15)


Contribution by Nikki A Basset