Today we have Spotlight – Featurette Round 2. One of our very first Spotlights we had was with Featurette so it’s nice to catch up. We get to sit down and chat about what’s been going on since and the newest release music video for The Blame. Check it out now!
Hey Featurette, long time no talk, we last spoke in January 2020, and I completely forgot to ask- how did the 2 of you settle on the name Featurette?
Hey hey! Long time indeed! If you can believe it, it was actually Jon (the drummer – who normally doesn’t touch lyrics haha!) who came up with the name. Wild! He literally pitched it to me on a couch one day, saying: “…we’re going to make little sound vignettes, like a mini-movie… a featurette!” and the rest is history.
Last time we spoke, your album Dream Riot was just released. You have had a year to sit and meditate on it. What are some things you wish you had done differently?
I wish I hadn’t released it right before a global pandemic, that’s for sure! But in all seriousness we did get to play some really cool shows in BC and Alberta. It was a really lovely send-off into the forever-isolation that is Covid in Ontario. I do wish we had gotten to play our home-town show. We were just a week away from it .. but hopefully that’s something to look forward to 🙂 One thing I wish I’d actually changed on that first album though was The Blame, which is exactly what I would come to do in Covid all these months later.
What are some key differences in style between your albums Dream Riot and Crave?
Oh man Dream Riot is so different – it’s a lot poppier, it’s louder in it’s messages and sounds. It’s way more us putting ourselves out there than Crave in a way, because we settled into this new sound that doesn’t really have a niche in Canada so overtly, so it was a bit of a risk really! Crave was so fun, I loved that it was through-composed/a concept album that told a story from start to finish, but since you now know the meaning of our name (Featurette), I think you can see a lot more of the featurettes coming out in Dream Riot.
There are some amazing tracks like “The Blame” (which we will discuss later). Also White Rabbit, is a major highlight. Can you tell us a bit more about White Rabbit, and what went into its creation?
White Rabbit was such a highlight for me as well. Firstly the subject matter, humanity’s impact on the environment, is something I’m hugely passionate about. Because of that getting to bring listeners into this dystopian post-apmpololyptic world not only in the song but in the music video too, was a dream. I wanted to really hammer home that message that we’re running out of time, just like Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit. White Rabbit was a call to action in a conversation with Mother Nature, and what’s really awesome is that music video we created was definitely the smallest footprint we could have made (environmentally speaking) as well.
We very much worked with what we had. In this case a hole in the ground and some standard fluorescent lights, a shove or two and recycled painters suits. You have to practice what you preach of course! White Rabbit was also the first time we made some of those more sparse sounds in our music, and I don’t think it will be the last. We’ve definitely been heading further down the ‘alt’/‘art’ path as opposed to the ‘pop’ path as of late, so something to look forward to there.
One year since album dropped, and one year without shows to play it at. What was it like trying to promote a new album during a pandemic?
I wish I had a good answer for this – but honestly I don’t. We honestly didn’t really get to promote it once the pandemic hit. It wasn’t just he pandemic that captured everyone’s full attention. Rightly BLM and women’s rights movements, trans rights, and politics at large. All those things were front and centre, at least for my news feed, and I didn’t feel it was right to try to shout over that. Of course we have been writing all the while, and are ready to hit the ground running if we ever get to tour again, but it just felt like it wasn’t our time. And I think that’s ok. I’m happy with the choices we made to step out of the spotlight, in favour of more prevalent issues coming into focus.
Since we have not spoken since pre-Covid, what has life in Ontario under Ford been like for you? Are you still GTA?
*Sigh* yes we’re in the GTA – we’re in Toronto around the Junction area.. 3 minutes from a hot spot, but not in a hotspot directly. It’s been bleak honestly. For us, working from home was the norm before, but since our jobs lie in the entertainment industry (we’re musicians and entrepreneurs in the visual art world) where we function in bars, restaurants and clubs… we’re not optimistic about having work anytime soon. We were lucky to sign a publishing deal with CCS Rights Management during the pandemic in August of 2020, so we’ve been really leaning into the publishing side of things, which is a great option to have. We’re so lucky to have any options. Not going to say that we’re not frustrated with the pace of things and the constant yo-yo initiatives of the current regime… but still, there are blessings to count.
Life in quarantine has certainly been a learning process. What have you learned about yourself during the last year?
Oh wow, yes, more that I thought possible somehow!? Let me give you an honest af rundown: months 1-4 of lockdown included absolute panic (financially, emotionally etc), followed by a not-so-brief existential crisis; I’ve never felt less essential. Over the next few months, as it became colder, I started to accept that we’re in it for the long haul, and then the creativity started coming back, some.
Then came introspection, and I did a deep dive into past traumas and healing, and then I re-wrote The Blame, and birthed this beautiful piece of art (music video/visuals and all) that I would never have had the time or mental space to confront or conceive of previously. Now, I’m actually doing pretty well. I feel like I’m growing in new and unexpected ways. I feel like I’m being more patient with myself and making space for myself and my emotions. I’m looking at the bigger picture. Good stuff.
Part of why we’re reconnecting, is that you are on your healing journey. You are coming to terms with being a sexual assault survivor. If you are comfortable, I would love to know what changed in you deciding to speak openly about it?
As I mentioned in my Covid-timeline above, I think I finally came to a place of introspection that allowed me to address this issue, and make space for healing, where I wasn’t able to do so before. I’m proud to talk about it now. I’m proud that I survived and that I’m doing something beautiful with my pain. You know in Peter Pan where they have to clap to save tinker bell, and it’s believing that allows the fairies to live? I feel like making this art is something like that. Just having people see it gives me a little bit of my power back. Let’s me reclaim my narrative, and in turn, helps me reach other survivors, such that they might too begin to find peace and healing. One baby step at a time.
Your new video for “The Blame” is out now. I wanted to talk a bit about the song itself and what it means for you, and for fans listening as well.
I’m really glad that we were able to go back to the drawing board on the music for the video, because we actually started pre-production for that video thinking we were shooting with the original song released on Dream Riot in 2020. I’m glad we had the courage to tear it apart and really dive in and let it come into the light as it was meant to be this second time around.
This song deserved the attention and care that went into creating it, because the writing is beautiful, and painful, so I couldn’t be happier that we didn’t just sweep the issue under the rug, but really looked at it critically and thought about how we could make it sound like the story it’s telling, even if that’s a departure from many of our previous releases. For fans listening, I hope they feel my heart when they hear it. Recording the vocals for that was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do, but I think something really beautiful came out of it. I hope some people listen and hear ‘hope’.
The video is a visual masterpiece, and the imagery is so on point. Walk me through the creative process of creating the video. Lexie, you directed, produced, and helmed this project yourself.
I did, as I do for most of our videos. The concept is always, at least in part, my own. This one was entirely my baby. It’s just so personal and I needed to confront my demons head on. So with every paper airplane I folded, I was reflecting. With every choice, down the the butterfly clips, because those were literally in style and something I would wear when this abuse was happening… all of that had such careful thought and planning. The see-through costume I wear though-out the video is meant to represent how invisible and transparent I felt because of this. There’s so much innocence, contrasted with this stark shadow cast over it, like the birthday party, but where all the decorations and the cake are black. Giant pencils all pointing, accusingly, making me feel smaller than ever.
I even folded those origami predators (the spider and snake) myself, reflecting all the while. As my wonderful art department hands on set that day tied me up in the web of magnetic tape, I was back in the web of this predator that I’d been in for so long, only this time, as an adult and my own woman, I get to smash my way through that invisible barrier at the emotional arc of the song before the last chorus. There is no greater healing. Not for me anyway. It was a painful and disturbing, yet unimaginably healing process to have both conceived of, and physically created those visuals. A huge shout out to Jon for being there with me during all that. I know that wasn’t easy for him.
Obviously, live music and 2020 were like oil and water. What was your experience like with doing online shows? Positive or negative?
Mostly positive, I’m glad that we were able to participate in a few, especially the festivals which benefited the BLM movement and frontline workers, that really aligned with our mission and hearts. Sonically… there’s nothing like a live show, and online just can’t compare. As an introvert who’s largely social media-adverse, I’m proud of us for putting ourselves out there. We even converted our set to acoustic – just live piano and vocals – which I can’t imagine we would have done otherwise. So that was super cool.
Do you think online shows will help new artists reach audiences they would not have access to before? Or is it an oversaturation of the market? With many live music venues shutting down for good, it is looking more common place post-Covid.
I think virtual is here to stay, but I don’t think that it will at any point replace live shows. We just crave human connection, even the most introverted among us. The energy in the room of a live show is undeniable. But it is super cool that so many artists have now mastered that aspect of their craft. We can play shows for international audiences and back up the spotify/streaming machines that are already built to export us. It’s certainly a cheaper way to do it than traveling!
Summer is quickly on us; do you have any plans? I know it is hard to plan too far in advance these days.
My plan is to get vaccinated. That’s it!! We still can’t leave our houses in Ontario at the moment (haha- ugh) so I’m not holding my breath for much more than that. But with the release of The Blame (Exposed Version) comes a beautifully uncorked creativity which is relentlessly flowing out of me, so I’m very VERY excited to chase that dragon and see where we end up as far as new music. Some really exciting stuff in the works, sonically speaking!
I would kick myself if I did not ask, any new work on the horizon? In any media format now that we know you can do it all.
Long-term goals I actually really want to start art direction/set creation for other artists, so when it’s appropriate I’m going to start putting myself out there for that, because the more of it I do, the more I want to do it! As far as Featurette new work, hellz yes bb. There is so much already finished and ready to go… just waiting for the stars to align so we can put it all out there. I’ve definitely been excited to release music before, but I’ve always felt like I was pretending in a way? A lack of confidence or trust in myself to be able to do it… right? Not anymore. After this release of The Blame, I’ve laid it all out there. Nowhere to go but up.
This last year has been brutal for our smaller and independent businesses. Who are some of your favorite local places to hype up and give a shout out to?
OMG yes Love that this is in here!
First and Last Coffee Shop is run by my good bud Sharon (She’s a super talented musician as well!). Dupont near Spadina, right in the annex. Definitely go check that out. They make a mean oat milk latte and it’s so cute in there (for when we can go back inside!) @firstandlastcoffee
Salvador Dalia (East Toronto) did the cake for the birthday party scene in The Blame. It was SO GOOD and Janna (owner) is so talented and a close personal friend of mine. @salvador.dalia
On the west end of the GTA, Jade Gardens is a lovely family run greenhouse and they have beautiful things there. They’re located in Oakville and definitely worth the drive! @jade.gardens
(Can I also plug my own??)
Jon and I run Paint Nite in Toronto, along with an unreal team of artists. We used to host events in local pubs and restaurants every day, but now we have virtual events which you can find on www.yaymaker.com! As well, Jon and I have started a business selling art supplies with our partner Tammy Wilson. We have a nice simple little website: www.canadaartkits.ca which was our pivot since we couldn’t have Paint Nite events in Covid. We have all kinds of Paint Nite supplies, as well as Plant Nite supplies (Succulent Terrariums, with succulents by Jade Gardens), Ukulele making kits, and more 🙂
And of course you can also help a ton of talented Canadian bands by letting them know you’re still listening. Whether it be by buying an LP from a Bandcamp page, by following their music when you stream, saving them to playlists, following them on insta, whatever you can do. It really makes a difference right now!
Yay for local business owners! Hang in there everyone <3
Spotlight – Featurette Round 2 is a wrap! It’s always fun catching up with some old friends
Check out The Blame now!
Keep up with Featurette right here
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