Dashing from home before a looming rainstorm, I arrive late to the Charlotte Street Arts Center. Sadly, I only catch the end of a set by Shady Jane, one of Flourish’s youngest bands this year–their precocious rock chops shine through in their final chords, and in the applause that erupts as I sneak into the auditorium.

Shady Jane pt.2
Photo by Caitlin Dutt

The auditorium is darkly lit and colourful, with a smattering of chairs in the center of the room, and bar stocked w local craft brews and merch tables at the back.

Guelph, Ontario’s VERSA begins their set by thanking Iris from Shady Jane for lending them a bass. Ironically, Iris’ bass guitar matches VERSA’s co-ordinating all-white outfits, complementing their aesthetic. The multimedia duo of Monika Hauck and Alex Ricci improvises mellow, hazy electronic music along with live visuals projected overhead. While some of the visuals are geometric, digital animations that resemble light streaming through blinds, or warping colour grids, others are live-painted by Hauck.


Photo by Caitlin Dutt

At first, I mistakenly think Hauck is playing a theremin with a pen-like wand, until i realize she is using a long dropper to add pigments to a liquid ink medium on her work surface, which is rigged with a camera that projects her creations overhead. The pigments morph and blend with reverberations from the nearby amps, keeping the visuals in perpetual motion. The combined effect of the music and visuals is atmospheric and watery, swelling and receding in waves. Between songs, Hauck prints the live-painted medium onto a page, preserving an imprint of each performance.

While the stage is reset for the next band, I wander the CSAC’s labyrinthine galleries and find a variety of art and music exhibits scattered throughout: cyanotype tapestries by Rachel Thornton, miniature couture creations by Tracy Austin, and a live music collaboration between Fredericton band Pallmer and Charles Harding (read more about this project tomorrow!). Most of the historic building retains the original winding, ornate wooden staircases. A newer wing, completed in the last year, includes an elevator, making the venue’s galleries, events, and basement pizzeria, Milda’s, accessible. On my way back to the auditorium, I notice that Flourish volunteers have taped “All Gender Washroom” signs under the binary gender markers on the washroom doors.

Next on stage is Massachusetts-based indie band And the Kids. Only one half of the band appears tonight (singer Hannah Mohan and drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro), but their sound and energy fill the room with the power of a full lineup. Their first song features Hannah Mohan on vocal, guitar, and tin flute–after the tin flute solo, she brightly tosses it offstage to jump back on guitar. Mohan’s voice is clear and high, with sweet peaks in her upper range that somehow capture the nostalgic feel of a rockabilly crooner, but with a definite riot grrrl edge. And the Kids has a summery, indie sound that is charming without being precious, with plenty of grit in the instrumentals. Their onstage presence is equally engaging; between songs, Mohan jokes about astrology, and encourages the audience to check out their new album, When This Life Is Over. “My doggy’s on the cover!” she exclaims, to delighted laughter, “so check it out!” Halfway through And the Kids’ performance, most of the audience has abandoned their seats to dance.

The dancing continues with Carinae, a five-piece band also hailing from Massachusetts. Bassist Nina Kent builds a solid groove that is layered with shimmery synths and guitars to create a bouncy, psychedelic feel. It is telling that drummer Gabe Camarano grins non-stop while playing, even when his hat slips over his eyes during the last song.


Photo by Caitlin Dutt

Rounding out the night is dynamic Fredericton trio Motherhood: Penelope Stevens on bass, keys, and vocals; Brydon Crain on guitar and vocals; and drummer Adam Sipkema. Showcasing songs from their latest album, Dear Bongo, Motherhood are ace performers. Their sound is high-powered, oddball experimental rock with plenty of arty grooves and more onstage enthusiasm than seems physically possible–it is clear why Motherhood is a major local favourite.


Photo by Caitlin Dutt

As much as I am swept up in the sound, and enjoying the visible fun both Carinae and Motherhood have while performing together, it is during these sets that I notice a shift in the crowd. It is only by the fourth or fifth time I am bumped into or brushed against that I notice that the audience has filled out with mostly men. Though I am standing closely with a small group of mostly femme-presenting friends, men keep cutting through us instead of going around us, and knocking into us as though we are invisible.

It is in no way the fault of the bands–of any bands, for that matter–but I can’t help but notice that as soon as the majority of the musicians onstage are men, the number of men in the audience increases, as does their aggression, and their lack of spatial awareness. The audience is quickly dominated by white men, most over six feet tall, standing and nodding in the front and middle of the room with little to no regard for the space or sight-lines of shorter audience members.

Both Flourish and its performers have made obvious efforts to make a safe, inclusive space for all audience members. The spirit of the festival and the music it features are overwhelmingly welcoming and engaging, so it feels extra disappointing when public spaces still feel like they are made for men, with the rest of us left feeling out of place and overwhelmed. At least during Flourish, the music gets us dancing through it.

Racing across downtown Fredericton to the Capital Complex, I am not prepared for the transformation the familiar downstairs bar has undergone. Kristina Rolander’s Neon Forest Remix installation has turned the Capital’s lower level into a psychedelic fairy tale: hand-painted tapestries of abstract greenery and neon waves cover the walls, and layers of leafy paper forms hang from the ceiling, washed in a mysterious blend of green and purple light. The dreamy, smoky voice of Thanya Iyer winds through the dark, leafy forest, drawing me immediately toward the stage. Iyer and her three-piece band are soon joined on stage by Anna Horvath of Merival, who bounds through the crowd and settles on-stage behind a speaker to provide backing vocals for the night. Muted bass plucking, percussion, softly looped violin, and synths provide a backdrop for Iyer’s enigmatic lyrics about healing, pain, and interconnectedness.

Live, improvised video by new band member Sophie Grouev project over the band, washing the scene in gently warped images of nature, household objects, and close-ups of microscopic organisms. From where I am in the crowd, I watch pixels from the video projection scatter light and colour across Iyer’s face, and over the sinuous leaf tapestries hung from the ceiling. The combined effect is mesmerizing, layering smooth, organic and electronic textures both visually and aurally.

“We’re so happy to be in this magical forest,” Iyer says, while introducing the band between songs, and in that moment, I can’t help but feel the same.

Contribution by Rebecca Salazar (she/her)

Rebecca Salazar is the author of the knife you need to justify the wound (Rahila’s Ghost) and Guzzle (Anstruther Press). Recent publications include poetry and non-fiction in Briarpatch, Minola Review, and The Puritan. Rebecca is currently a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead and Plenitude magazines, and a PhD candidate at UNB.


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