Ten Lessons to Take Away from Buffer Fest

Written by Andrea Vahrusev

This year, Buffer Fest took place over the weekend of October 20th to the 23rd. The event brings together tons of creators —many of them being YouTubers— to downtown Toronto where attendees engage and learn from the experienced entrepreneurs.

The festival is split into different events such as panels, screenings, and workshops. Many community partners come together in support of the festival and one of them being our very own, Ryerson University. This year, SpiritLive sent out one of their own volunteers to accumulate information for future and current creators of all types.

Here are some of the lessons learned from Buffer Fest:

1) Media value can be determined by the reach (viewership, subscribers) and the engagement (likes, shares, comments) a creator has.

2) Clickbait isn’t always bad. There are two types of clickbait. Bad clickbait means audiences view your content, it doesn’t relate to the title. Good clickbait means your title is intriguing and the viewer remains engaged with the interesting story. Don’t be afraid of clickbait!

3) Being a sellout only happens if the creator uses too much brand information meaning they follow a script that makes the promotion of a product seem unnatural. But brand deals aren’t  bad if the creator promotes them genuinely. Extra money isn’t bad either, don’t be embarrassed to make a living. Adsense is only one part of the earnings.

4) Peter Hollens, a well established YouTuber said, “You have to do something you love. If you do something for the wrong reasons you will fail…love the work that’s going to take you there.” In translation, love your craft. If you’re not passionate about what you do, you’ll feel like time is wasted. When you love what you do, you’ll feel internally rewarded.

5) To be successful, commitment and discipline are key.

6) Learning to take a concept and execute it is important. You learn to be on all ends of a spectrum in terms of producing content.

7) Think of the resources you already have and take advantage of them. Don’t let things go to waste because other people have better resources than you.

8) Over-saturation can be tiring. Stay unique.

9) Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go as planned or you feel like you’re not reaching enough people. Persistence is important and it’s easier if you’re actually passionate about what you’re doing. (Refer to lesson #4)

10) The story is the key. Without the story, there’s nothing to be made. The story starts with you.

Andrea is our graphic designer and youtube lover! Stay tuned for more. 

We Day 2016

Written by Paige Neddeau.

 

On October 19 the We Movement event We Day Toronto took place at the Air Canada Centre. The event brought together world-renowned speakers, A-list preformers and over 20,000 youth to celebrate and mark the start a year of social action.

 

The powerful event hosted by actress and UNAIDS ambassador Zendaya featured many well known speakers and performers such has Singer Jason Derulo, American Idol host Paula Abdul

and many Canadian change makers including Youtube entertainer Lilly Sigh, four-time Canadian Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak, recording group Hedley, astronaut Chris Hadfield and lead singer of the Tragically Hip Gord Downie.

 

The co-founders of WE, Marc and Craig Kelburger spoke to the crowd to remind them of the importance of living WE. The event also featured a moving performance from Macklemore and Grod Downie.  In a passionate performance Macklemore premiered his single “Drug Dealer” about his past addiction to prescription drugs. Later The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie preformed “The Stranger” the single to his new project “The Secret Path” in honour of the 50th anniversary of a young Ojibway boys death after his escape from a residential school. We Day also shared ways to create a change through we movement campaigns such as we scare hunger, we bake for change, and we schools.

Mackelmore Singing his new single

Mackelmore Singing his new single

 

 

 

Paige Neddeau is a SpiritLive Programmer appearing in our 2016 fall season. 

Toronto Concert Roundup – April 2016

April is a HUGE month for concerts in this city. Whether you prefer a stadium-sized affair, or a small club show — you won’t have any trouble finding an event to help you procrastinate during this exam season.

Here are some shows we’re looking forward to attending in April:

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS & LIZ PHAIR @ MASSEY HALL, APRIL 12, 2016

It should take absolutely NO persuasion to get any music fan to this show. The infamous Chicago alt-rock band — on their “Plainsong” tour — will be playing stripped-down versions of their greatest hits. Liz Phair is set to open.

Here’s the classic, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” off of the iconic 1995 album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness:

TICKETS: http://www.masseyhall.com/eventdetail/SmashingPumpkins

RIHANNA & TRAVIS SCOTT @ AIR CANADA CENTRE, APRIL 13 & 14, 2016

Fresh off the release of her latest album, ANTI, Rihanna will be kicking off a two night stand at the ACC on Wednesday the 13th — to (nearly) sold out crowds on both nights. Ticket-holders probably wouldn’t be too far off in assuming #6ixGod Drake may show up to perform with his “friend” and frequent collaborator. If that’s not reason enough to buy tickets, we don’t know what is.

Get to “Work” listening to her hit single — it’ll pump you up for the show:

TICKETS: http://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/10004F779F952B28

FATHER JOHN MISTY & TESS AND DAVE @ MASSEY HALL, APRIL 20, 2016 

On tour supporting his 2015 release, I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty will be bringing his dreamy/psychedelic indie rock to Massey Hall. While his crazy antics and sarcastic stage presence have earned him a reputation for being a bit of a wild card, he’s also known for his excellent musicianship. Expect relaxed acoustic guitar strumming and piano-playing from the former Fleet Foxes member — along with backing from his full band. Trust us, this show will be worth the pricier tickets. Folk/Pop duo Tess & Dave will open.

Check out the title track from his breakthrough album:

TICKETS: http://www.stubhub.com/father-john-misty-tickets-father-john-misty-toronto-massey-hall-4-20-2016/event/9499236/?sliderpos=true

PARQUET COURTS & SODA @ PHOENIX CONCERT THEATRE, APRIL 22, 2016

NYC rock band Parquet Courts are set to play the Phoenix this month, soon after the release of their fifth studio album, Human Performance. Their upbeat, Pixies-esque repertoire is bound to draw an energetic crowd — and will hopefully make for an unforgettable show. Florida band Soda will kick things off.

Listen to the title track off their 2014 album, Sunbathing Animal:

TICKETS: http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1079729/tfly?utm_medium=api&utm_medium=291182 (19+)

 

For a full list of shows taking place in the city this month, check out SongKick.

 

By: Alex Reinprecht

Review: Freddie Gibbs – Shadow of a Doubt

Two years ago, Freddie Gibbs’ career seemed destined to plateau. If nothing else, he was poised to be a very, very, good blog rapper. After falling out with (the artist formerly known as Young) Jeezy and his CTE imprint label, Gibbs made it his mission to call out the rapper on his following mixtapes, radio appearances, and interviews. By his account, Gary’s own was simply too thug to coexist on a roster with an increasingly inefficient and dishonest CEO. It was a nice cosign on paper, but in practice, it proved to be extremely disappointing and problematic. Whatever the reality of the situation was, it truly resulted in the best case scenario for Gibbs, who in the end, emerged hungrier than ever.

Two years after severing ties with Jeezy, Gibbs worked on an impressive run of street-ready bangers like “Eastside Moonwalker” and “D.O.A.”. These releases culminated in an unlikely, yet massively successful collaboration with Stone’s Throw legend, Madlib. The duo linked sporadically for a minute, which ultimately resulted in a full-length LP. On 2014’s Pinata, Madlib provided an avenue for Gibbs to refine his sound, posture himself with more ambitious flows, and weaved his most cohesive narrative to date. The album was a critical hit, appearing on many “Best Of” lists, and it projected Gibbs into the mainstream conscience. Despite Pinata’s success, it was still undoubtedly viewed as a joint effort. It was an immediate reminder of Madlib’s brilliance; becoming an important success for the backpack community, in an era oversaturated by trap-oriented aesthetics. Most noticeably, however, it forced Gibbs onto an eclectic platform, and augmented his already vicious delivery with something entirely new and refreshing.

Freddie Gibbs now follows up his best calendar year ever with, “Shadow Of A Doubt”. The gloomy and brooding collection runs 17 tracks deep, ultimately ending up as a victim of “quantity over quality”. “Shadow Of A Doubt” is a mixed bag. In fact, it’s more of a mixed duffle bag, something you’d be familiar with in listening to the rapper’s mythos. There’s a little too much being offered on this LP, and would do well in leaving a few numbers on the cutting room floor. The strength of the album lay in its first half, however, which makes a strong case for one of 2015’s best run of tracks. From “Narcos” to “Lately”, Gibbs swaggers through fine production, making it look way too easy in the process. Assists from Boi-1da, Tory Lanez, and Gucci Mane, help to paint some hypnotizingly gritty soundscapes. There are some still, however, some real duds. Take for instance, “Cold Ass N***a”, which sounds like a forgotten Pusha T demo. Then there’s the offensively boring, “Basketball Wives”, which brings the amazing and aforementioned run of 9 songs, to a screeching halt. These few stinkers make it challenging to sit through the entirety of this project. However, the handful of excellent songs are enough to salvage “Shadow Of A Doubt”, and make it something to revisit again (even if it’s only for one or two songs a sitting). This album is another notch in the belt for Freddie Gibbs. If nothing else, “Shadow Of A Doubt” is a nice way to maintain relevancy, and a way to satisfy fans new and old.

7/10

By: Aidan D’Aoust

CONTEST: Tweet To Win A Pair Of Tickets To See The Rocket Summer!

In partnership with local event promoter Homesick, SpiritLive will be giving away 2 pairs of tickets to two lucky listeners to The Rocket Summer’s upcoming show on March 29th at Hard Luck Bar.

All you have to do to enter is tweet us — @spiritlive — the answer to this question:

Which famous RTA grad is featured in The Rocket Summer’s music video for his latest single, “Same Air?”

Bryce Avery is currently on tour in support of his latest LP release, Zoetic.

CONTEST DETAILS:

  • Open to all RTA: School Of Media students
  • One entry per Twitter handle
  • All Ages Event
  • Must “Like” both Homesick & SpiritLive on Facebook
  • Must “Follow” both Homesick & SpiritLive on Twitter
  • Winners will be contacted 48 hours prior to the show

Contest closes THURSDAY MARCH 24th @ 11:59 PM.

To purchase tickets to the show, click here!

 

Pop Goes The Week: Bestival Festival, Girly Grimes & Radiohead Reunited

Each week, SpiritLive will be rounding up the biggest stories from around the mainstream music world, along with the most buzz-worthy pop culture moments in order to keep our readers entertained and informed.

Bestival Toronto’s Full Line Up Revealed — And It’s Killer

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#BestivalTO is back — with a brand new venue (thank God, because we all know how well the transportation for last’s year’s festival turned out) and a stellar line up. While we were made aware of the big headliners — The Cure and Tame Impala — last week, the festival bill was released yesterday, and it didn’t disappoint. Canadian indie darling Grimes is one of the bigger headliners, with British acts like Jamie xx, The Wombats and Daughter rounding out the UK-imported event’s line up. You can purchase tickets for the festival — taking place on June 11th & 12th — here.

Radiohead Announces Their First World Tour In Over 4 Years

Radiohead

Radiohead fans rejoice!* These creeps (pun game strong) are hitting the road for a world tour — something they haven’t done since 2012. While we still have NO idea if they’ll be releasing new music any time soon (we do have this BAD ASS alternative James Bond theme — that Thom Yorke shared on Twitter as a Christmas gift to fans in December of 2015 — to tide us over), the British alt-rockers will be playing select shows in cities all around the globe. If you’re Canadian, better buy tickets to Osheaga ASAP — it’s the only stop their making here. Click here for a complete list of the tour stops.

*If you live in the following cities

Grimes Is Teen Vogue‘s April Cover Girl 

While pretty mainstream for a independent Canadian musician, Grimes announced via her Instagram that she’ll grace the cover of Teen Vogue‘s upcoming issue. She was interviewed by designer (and rock star spawn) Stella McCartney, who recently recruited Claire Boucher for her latest perfume campaign (photo below). It’s the first time an indie musician landed a cover of the magazine. As the kids say these days: SLAY!

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Toronto Concert Roundup – March 2016

Whether you’re a huge music fan, or just looking for a fun night out with friends — there’s a concert happening in Toronto this month to please everyone.

Here are some shows we’re looking forward to attending in March:

TY SEGALL AND THE MUGGERS @ THE DANFORTH, MARCH 4, 2016

This will most likely be a high-energy show well suited for any indie/psychedelic/garage rock fan. Segall and his band are touring in support of his latest record, Emotional Mugger, and will be sharing the stage with new indie rock band CFM.

Check out “Girlfriend” from 2012 album Melted:

TICKETS: http://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/10004F6BC29664AB (19+)

BEACH HOUSE @ THE DANFORTH, MARCH 5/6, 2016

Beach House were set to play a two-night stand at The Danforth. But with tickets in such high demand, they’ve announced a third show at an installation venue (tickets already sold out) on the 4th. The indie dream-pop band is on tour promoting their latest album, Depression Cherry.

Check out “Space Song” off Depression Cherry:

TICKETS: http://www.stubhub.com/beach-house-tickets-beach-house-toronto-the-danforth-music-hall-theatre-3-5-2016/event/9422104/ (19+)

DAUGHTER @ THE DANFORTH, MARCH 7/8, 2016

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, you may want to check out one of two Daughter shows happening this month at The Danforth. The indie-folk trio is definitely worth seeing live.

Check out to “Youth” off of their debut album If You Leave:

TICKETS: http://www.stubhub.com/daughter-tickets-daughter-toronto-the-danforth-music-hall-theatre-3-8-2016/event/9470150/

LEON BRIDGES @ MASSEY HALL, MARCH 10, 2016

The R&B/Soul/Gospel artist will play to a sold-out crowd, along with opening act Son Little in just over a week. Bridges played The Danforth last October, and high demand for tickets meant an upgrade to the larger (and iconic) venue Massey Hall this time around. There are a few select tickets still floating around on StubHub.

Check out “Coming Home” off his album of the same name:

TICKETS: http://www.stubhub.com/leon-bridges-tickets-leon-bridges-toronto-massey-hall-3-10-2016/event/9414930/

BADBADNOTGOOD @ THE DANFORTH, MARCH 12, 2016

Canadian hip-hop/jazz instrumental group BADBADNOTGOOD will play to a hometown crowd at The Danforth, supported by Marvel Alexander.

Check out “Cant Leave The Night” from III:

TICKETS: http://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/10004F8F31DB8593

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE @ THE ACC, MARCH 23, 2016

Death Cab needs no introduction. The almost 20-year-old alternative rock band returns to Toronto in the wake of their latest release, Kintsugi. They will be supported by one of Toronto’s most successful indie acts, Metric.

Check out the classic “I Will Possess Your Heart” from Narrow Stairs:

TICKETS: http://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/10004F84A0AB2924

 

For a full list of shows taking place in the city this month, check out SongKick.

 

By: Alex Reinprecht

Malachi At The Movies – Top Ten Films Of 2015

Malachi Rowswell is SpiritLive’s resident movie buff. He’ll be reviewing all kinds of films — from current flicks to old-time favourites — for our readers’ pleasure. Think of this as a “Movie Lover’s Guide To The Industry.”

Top Ten Films Of 2015

Wait, what — it’s March 2016? How did that happen?!

Looking back, 2015 was a pretty great year for film, even if it did see the release of its fair share of duds — like Fifty Shades of Grey, a terrible Fantastic Four reboot and Terminator Genesis (sorry, Genysis).

But this list is all about the flicks I really loved from the past year. And now that we know which movies were the big winners at The Academy Awards, let’s see how my picks measure up.

Regardless, the following films deserve a watch in the near future — they’re great.

10. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I’ve already talked in length about my feelings for the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise, so let me just sum up why it’s on my list. While I would’ve preferred a completely original story, I can’t deny that The Force Awakens made me feel the way a Star Wars fan should feel. I was transported to a fantastic universe where sci-fi magic is possible. While there were a few flaws, the film was a wondrous spectacle combining amazing acting, writing (dialogue — not story) and special effects. J.J Abrams brought the franchise back in a big way and has left me thirsty for more — unless Episode VIII is a rehash of Empire Strikes Back. Then I’ll just be annoyed. Also, if the Death Star is positioned as a major plot point again, I’m going to throw a chair.

9. Trainwreck


I’m a huge fan of Judd Apatow’s comedies, including The 40 year Old Virgin and Knocked UpTrainwreck is no exception. But while Apatow may have directed this intelligent comedy, it’s clearly Amy Schumer’s masterpiece. Schumer wrote and starred in this gem, and that’s the main reason it worked so well on screen. Her charm — both as an actress and as a screenwriter — is what tied everything together. Although incredibly raunchy, it still remains a smart satire on the current state of modern romance. Even more surprising? The film is also a heartfelt character study, featuring emotional scenes from both Schumer and co-star Bill Hader. The film might disappoint some who were hoping to see a “typical” Judd Apatow movie, but this is a comedic collaboration that definitely works.

8. Thank You For Bombing


The second film I saw at TIFF this year was about three war correspondents in Afghanistan. It featured three interconnected plotlines, each following a different journalist. The amazing thing about this screenplay is that each individual story works well both as a portion of the whole feature, or as a fantastic stand-alone short. Because each section focuses on one particular character, audiences grow to understand and care for each one — until a blast of an ending changes everything. We have Barbara Eder’s intensely bold direction to thank. A lengthy — and according the director, improvised — rape scene also made the final cut of the film. While scenes like this are hard to watch, their inclusion within films centred around real life events are important, as they shed light on the dark aspects of humanity. Moreover, this sequence raises awareness to the way women have been treated in times of war.

7. Embrace Of The Serpent

Another one of my favourite films from TIFF 2015, Embrace of the Serpent is an epic drama which takes place in the Amazon. The film is about an Amazonian shaman — the last of his tribe — who, as a young man, leads a German explorer in search of a sacred plant containing amazing healing properties. He then leads an American man on the same quest 30 years later. The result is an interesting piece that is best described as a spiritual journey, and a cross between Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Serpent boasts a unique setting and style, and it admirably tackles different themes — being the last of one’s kind and the power of nature. It also has an awesomely trippy ending; better than 2001’s in my opinion. It was also nominated for “Best Foreign Picture” at the Oscars, so I encourage you all to check it out.

6. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

While there’s been a surge of teen cancer dramas lately, this is one worth your time. I didn’t see The Fault in our Stars, but I almost finished the book (I felt as though John Green was trying his best to make me miserable; I’m assuming the film is very similar). It’s hard to spend all of that time investing in characters, only to have them taken away. I prefer Me And Earl And The Dying Girl because (SPOILER) while someone does die, the film allows for both the main characters and viewers to have some kind of catharsis to make up for the loss. The filmmakers handle this extremely well, as the ending is crafted in such a way that we feel the character is still with us — even in death. I was also impressed by the cinematography, acting and writing. All of these elements work together to create a blend of the angsty romance from your favourite teen drama, and the quirky charm of a Wes Anderson film. By the way, the last 15 minutes will leave you a weeping mess on the floor — I can attest to that.

5. The Hateful Eight


For some reason, critics and fans alike haven’t been too impressed by Quentin Tarantino’s latest. I was recently discussing the film with a friend, and she said she probably wouldn’t see it due to its mixed reviews. For me though, The Hateful Eight makes not only this Top 10 list, but it also falls within my Top 5 Tarantino movies of all time. I understand why some might not like it; the movie definitely has a slow build, but Tarantino and his crew are able to carry the film almost entirely on dialogue and acting chops alone. So when the fighting does (eventually) start, there is a sublime satisfaction. Way better than The Revenant, but that’s a story for another day (shameless plug for my first YouTube video of this series — coming soon).

4. Spotlight

This year’s “Best Picture” winner is nothing short of brilliant. For those of you who haven’t heard, Spotlight is based on the true story about a team of investigative journalists from The Boston Globe, who helped expose the molestation scandal within the Roman Catholic Church. This film is not only important due to the nature of its subject matter, but also in the way it depicts journalism. We’ve seen a decline in newspaper dramas as of late, and we need them now more than ever as the industry seems to be on the decline. Spotlight plays out in a logical sequence — viewers are introduced to these bad ass journalists with one goal in mind, and the plot is set up like a series of puzzles they have to solve. Because the movie unfolds this way, one might think it would alienate audiences who are looking for some emotional depth. That’s where the actors come in. Every single actor featured in this film is at the top of their game. Pay special attention to Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo; they both play characters that seem to lack complexity, but end up providing the emotional core that drives the story.

3. The Martian

Here’s another movie that plays out sequentially. You have Matt Damon — starring in the third instalment of the “Spend a LOT of Money to bring Matt Damon Home Trilogy” — stuck on Mars, NASA on Earth trying their best to get him home, and the rest of his team in space going back to rescue him. The film answers a series of questions, such as “How do I find water and food on Mars?” and “How do I communicate with NASA?” — all of which are answered through science, so the film ends up being extraordinarily accurate. It’s also genuinely funny, so I didn’t mind that it won for “Best Comedy or Musical” at this year’s Golden Globes.

2. Inside Out

Pixar has been in a bit of a rut since 2010. Following the excellent Toy Story 3, the powerhouse animation studio released a string of lackluster films including Cars 2, Brave, and Monster’s University. Inside Out saw Pixar recapture its brand of intellectual, emotional and humorous entertainment. This movie is packed with enough wonder for children to marvel at, but it also provides a lot of satisfaction for adult viewers. The film blends actual psychology and imagination in a way that’s both fun in its creative presentation, and intellectually stimulating in the way it interweaves fact with fiction. To top it off, this is one of the very few kid’s movies that tackles the issue of depression in a respectful and emotionally-fulfilling way. If you need any more convincing, remember how you cried during the first ten minutes of Up? That will be you throughout this entire movie.

1. Steve Jobs


WHY, OH WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO UNDERRATED?? Man oh man, is this a masterpiece. I would go so far as to say that it is transcendent, and that’s largely due to Aaron Sorkin’s (The Social Network, House of Cards) screenplay. Sorkin structures the film in a way that is both fitting of the titular character and satisfying for viewers. The film looks at three important product launches throughout Jobs’ career: the original Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac. The film however does not show Jobs giving his iconic speeches; it only focuses on his preparations for the events backstage. Each segment of the film shows Jobs interacting with the same group of key supporting players, including characters played by Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels — all outstanding performances. Not only is the script competently unconventional, it’s innovative for the biopic genre in general.

Hollywood really likes biopics, and while most of them are amazing, they all usually share the same formula. Lately, certain films — like the Bob Dylan flick I’m Not There, and the upcoming Miles Davis film Miles Ahead — have been playing with new techniques, including non-linear storytelling and multiple actors portraying one character in various life stages. Steve Jobs innovates by not trying to cover too much ground. Sorkin and director Danny Boyle picked the highlights from Walter Isaacson’s MASSIVE book on Jobs to tell an extremely satisfying story. The other thing that’s great about this film is the portrayal of Jobs. A lot of people griped about the casting of Michael Fassbender, but it is very clear from his performance that the crew made the right choice. Fassbender presents us with all of the best and worst parts of Steve Jobs, culminating in a anti-hero who is still somehow so infectiously likeable.. The fact that it didn’t receive a “Best Adapted Screenplay” nomination for this film is bogus. Aaron Sorkin is literally a dialogue wizard.

Well that’s it for my list, but I would hate to leave you without mentioning some runner-ups. Honourable mentions include:

  • Melissa Mccarthy’s Spy, which includes the actresses’ most grounded work to date — as well as some impressive improv from Jason Statham.
  • It Follows; if you want an in-depth review, check out my indie horror movies piece.
  • Furious 7; a surprising amount of entertainingly-dumb fun, with wonderfully hammy performances from Vin Diesel and Kurt Russell. It’s also a beautiful tribute to the late Paul Walker.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road for its sheer ballsy filmmaking. Some people love it, and some hate it, but I respect George Miller’s incredible risk-taking; it resulted in commercial success, and yet another complete reinvention of the action-adventure genre.

So, there you go! Lots of great movies to check out. Look for my first-ever filmed Malachi at the Movies review, in which I’ll be comparing The Revenant and The Hateful Eight. See you soon!

By: Malachi Rowswell

This movie blog will focus on reviews, actor profiles, etc. with the hopes of transforming content into a YouTube series. Please let me know what you think about this review! You can contact me on Twitter (@malachirowswell) or on Facebook. I would appreciate any general feedback, as well as any additional suggestions for future posts.

Review: Zayn – PILLOWTALK

Friday, January 29th — a day many had been anxiously anticipating.

Zayn Malik — former 1/5 of One Direction, and now, just Zayn — dropped his new single “PILLOWTALK,” his official debut release as a solo artist since his departure from the British boy band.

Less than 12 hours after its world premiere, the music video had more than 1 million views on VEVO, and had been played on my phone approximately the same amount of times — possibly more.

The song definitely screams edgy in comparison to the cookie-cutter pop we’re used to hearing from Malik. The heavy bass and sensual lyrics attribute to a far more mature sound — definitely not a bad transition. His vocal performance was also on point, obviously. As many One Direction fans know, Zayn’s solos were often the strongest, and most technically impressive.

If there’s something to critique, it’s the amount of editing producers added to the vocal during the chorus. The layering — which seemed to create an echo effect without the use of Auto-Tune — really took away from his raw talent in that particular portion of the song.

Overall, PILLOWTALK’s R&B vibes set the tone for his solo sound, and I for one am excited. It’s clear he’s finally able to release a style of music he’s far more comfortable performing and promoting. It also seems to match his newfound bad ass image.

It appears that Zayn has finally arrived, and he’s more than welcome to stay.

By: Cara Licastro

 

Malachi At The Movies – Indie Horror Flicks

Malachi Rowswell is SpiritLive’s resident movie buff. He’ll be reviewing all kinds of films — from current flicks to old-time favourites — for our readers’ pleasure. Think of this as a “Movie Lover’s Guide To The Industry.”

Indie Horror Flicks

I love horror movies, and I know there’s a lot of people out there who feel the same way. But the genre as we know it? It’s kinda bad — at least if you don’t know where to look. The studio-backed films that get wide releases (i.e. recycled remakes and tired retreads) aren’t the place to start if you’re looking for some good contemporary horror.

The indie horror film scene however is ripe with selections that deliver in both the fear and art department.

Here are five indie horror movies that I’ve checked out, and I’m going to review them right now — just for you:

Goodnight Mommy 

Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian film. Released in the fall of 2015, it centres around two brothers who witness their mother’s increasingly strange behaviour post extensive facial surgery. If you’re one of those people who can’t stand subtitles, then…y’know, I wouldn’t recommend it. But you’d be missing out, because this movie is pretty great. The strong performances reinforce the general sense of dread created by other integral horror elements including cinematography and sound design. While the film isn’t the scariest, the mystery and gradual build of suspense throughout paces its scares. It employs some of the best acting and technical execution I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. The only real problem is the ending. Sadly, I can’t really go into detail as it would totally spoil it, but I will say this: M. Night Shyamalan would be proud — and that’s NOT a good thing.

Rating: 7.5/10

It Follows

My dad has always told me that in music, if the beginning and the end of a piece aren’t good, the rest won’t matter. This also applies to film — if you’re going to spend two hours watching something, it’s got to hook you in right from the start, and leave a lasting impression long after the credits have rolled. It Follows does just that. It begins with a showcase of solid acting, cinematography, editing and sound design that create a magnetic tension, establishing the perfect tone for the rest of the movie. Its final moments feature peaceful, yet eerie shots that subtly reiterate the horror that’s just unfolded before your eyes. Having said that, I’ll let you in on the gist of the plot. It’s about teens who bang, then realize they’re being chased by spooky, scary ghosts — if you’re a parent, pro tip: show your kids this movie. Using a mixture of suspenseful, atmospheric and emotional elements, It Follows becomes a different kind of film — horror in a way that’s strangely intimate, and uncomfortable at the same time.

Rating: 9/10

Oculus

This flick was kind of cool. It’s about a brother and sister who survived being killed by a haunted mirror as children — I promise it’s a lot cooler than that last sentence suggests. The film has two central story lines: the two siblings surviving the haunted mirror as kids, and the siblings attempting to destroy said haunted mirror as adults. While it’s not a new technique to use flashbacks in this particular genre, Oculus‘ transitions are both elegant and jarring, thus adding to the film’s overall scare factor. It’s pretty well-made and engrossing, but there are two things about Oculus that bothered me. I didn’t like the development in which the two siblings’ parents eventually go bonkers. Had the movie included a few more scenes to make viewers become emotionally invested in the parents, we’d all care more. Also, the film just sort of…ends — one moment I’m fully immersed in this interesting movie, and suddenly it feels as though the climax unfolds in a span of 2 minutes.

Rating: 7/10

V/H/S

Two trends that have grown in popularity recently in horror include “found footage” and anthology. V/H/S blends both of these sub-genres with various degrees of success. Since this is an anthology, I’m gonna switch things up and do a bunch of mini-reviews:

Tape 56 — The first segment is also revisited after each short included in the film. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bad. The premise is interesting enough: 4 criminals raid a dead man’s house and come across a rare videotape. In addition, they end up finding a bunch of videotapes, all featuring crazy, morbid happenings. It’s great to have a segment that connects all of the shorts, but it doesn’t really connect the film as a whole story-wise. There’s no explanation as to why these tapes are in this house, or why horrific events unfold in said tapes. Worse still, the horror-element (I’d be spoiling if I explained) doesn’t really make sense. The whole segment just seemed unnecessary. 4/10

Amateur Night — This short’s excellent pacing and natural acting make it the best part of the film, and a strong stand-alone piece that’s worth a few re-watches in order to take in all of its beautifully frightening details. 9.5/10

Second Honeymoon — It’s not particularly original, but it has an impactful twist that makes it worth watching. 6.5/10

Tuesday The 17th — Also standard fare. However, an interesting performance from Norma C. Quinones, who plays Wendy, brings a heaping plate of creepiness. Wendy’s a heroine, but not the right kind; this plot choice should have been brought out a little more. 7/10

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger — Great use of aliens and creepy boyfriends. 8/10

10/31/98 — Like some of the other shorts, this one includes a popular gimmick that is thwarted by a thoroughly sub par film. If you’ve already seen an exorcism on screen, skip it. 4/10

Parts of V/H/S are certainly lacking in the story department, but each segment is technical sound, which gives the “found footage” sub-genre some credibility. I’d say the film was ‘aight.

Rating: 6/10

The Babadook

Holy cow! This movie will mess you up — in the best way imaginable. One of the things I look for in a scary movie is a mixture of supernatural, and human horror. The Exorcist was the last horror film I saw where I genuinely felt for the characters as humans, and was genuinely terrified for them. The Babadook surpassed the iconic 70s movie in this particular area for me. The film is about a single mother who is forced to look after her only child after her husband dies. The mother and son come across a mysterious pop-up book that contains a spirit known as “The Babadook;” it escapes and haunts the mother and son over the course of the film. The result is so terrifying, that I couldn’t finish the movie when I first started watching it — I had to go back two weeks later. It’s not the “jump out of your seat” scares that make it so intensely frightening; it’s the deeply horrifying study of the human condition. Strip away the supernatural elements of the film, and at its core, you have a study of grief and what it drives people to do. Essie Davis’ chilling performance as the mother will leave you in tears — even I cried because I was so terrified! If you have any respect for the human need to be scared, you need to watch this film.

Rating: 10/10

By: Malachi Rowswell

This movie blog will focus on reviews, actor profiles, etc. with the hopes of transforming content into a YouTube series. Please let me know what you think about this review! You can contact me on Twitter (@malachirowswell) or on Facebook. I would appreciate any general feedback, as well as any additional suggestions for future posts.