Category Archives: SUPAFRIK

Recap: SUPAFRIK at FNLROM

Thank you for joining us at Royal Ontario Museum earlier this February as we programmed and activated some spaces for their #FNLROM Black History Month Special. We converted the Rotunda into “The Afro Lounge” and Bronfman Hall became “SUPAFRIK Central”.

The Afro Lounge: Designer Chinedu Ukabam invited FNLROM guests to the coolest new spot in town, “The Afro Lounge” where they could order Suya, grab a drink, and play the African strategy game Oware(also called Ayo or Mancala). There was also a dressing room in the back to try on exclusive pieces from ILU, his unreleased Chinedesign summer collection inspired by Igbo proverbs from Nigeria and the ROM exhibition Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana. Photographer Jalani Morgan was on hand to capture images for an interactive lookbook edited by Maz Osman. You can find the look-book we created on our page.

SUPAFRIK Central: To bring the #SUPAFRIK effect to the ROM,we assembled an art-dance-food party. It featured some new talent like ADL dance crew as well as frequent collaborators like Golden Stool Restaurant (whose Jollof rice was sold out before 10pm!), DJ Revy B and DJ Deemaks, who debuted a live Afrobeats video mix. By the time the spontaneous electric slide broke out in the middle of an Afro house set, it was clear that this was one of the best FNLROMs yet!

Stay tuned for what we have coming up in spring!

DJ RQAway on: “The Sound of New Orleans”

New Orleans native DJ RQ Away will be our featured guest DJ at tomorrow’s GUMBO! He has made a name for himself by being able to create a distinct vibe no matter where he spins. His eclectic sound and ability to bend genres has captured ears in intimate spaces of downtown New Orleans, neighborhood bars in Brooklyn and the pubs of London.

For a decade DJ RQ Away’s career has thrived off his unique artistry and leadership. In addition to curating inimitable experiences that strengthen community ties through dance he also operates as Founder and lead organizer of the citywide brand, #AWAYTEAM. His high quality works have made him a beloved household name as well as the go to DJ for worldwide acts and brands like Robert Glasper, The Foreign Exchange, Erykah Badu and Bilal. DJ RQAway recently put together an exclusive mix from the Gumbo crew highlighting the sounds of New Orleans so we picked his brain about the history and happenings of his hometown music scene.

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DJ RQ Away. NOLA’s Finest DJ. These are his tees too and you’ll spot them all over the city.

You come from a city with a rich and varied musical heritage. Tell us briefly about the music scene in Nola today?

The music scene in NOLA is as it has always been in the sense that it is a sampling of a hometown interpretation of the many influences and styles that come here from all over the world. It’s hard to give a simple answer as we have so many different things happening here all the time artist like Trombone Shorty and Christian Scott carry the New Orleans’ banner across the world via Jazz and their own tailored version of that and many other genres. Tank and the Bangas are the closet thing we have to The Roots (in my opinion) consistently creating a unique showing of sound via R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, and Poetry. Artist like Dominic Minx create their own sound from pieces of Rock, Hip Hop, and Jazz, while Chase N. Cash and Ciel Rouge carry their own unique interpretations of the classic Hip Hop sound. Artist Like Chris Royal, Stefan Rene(Prosper Jone$), Mykia Jovan, and so many others share powerful sounds from across genre’s all while sharing the love for music that is truly New Orleans. This is definitely a short answer. 

Are there any upcoming artists in the soul/jazz scene we should be looking out for?

Cool Nasty, a band composed of young NOLA bred artist. You can check them out every Wednesday at the Cool Nasty Jam Series

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Fresh off the “Couches” stage, Singer Cole Williams and members of Cool Nasty – a sick nu jazz future wave band

What is second line music?

Secondline music, it’s love from a tuba, foot stompin, body bending vibes that travel from drum to horn to random second liner ten people away. It’s a style of Jazz that was once soley know to accompany funerals, and now often without the associated funeral the upbeat drum and brass focused sound calls for crowds of thousand to walk through New Orleans streets on any given Sunday.  

If we had one day in New Orleans, which band do we absolutely have to catch live?

Again Cool Nasty and if there in town Tank and the Bangas.

Tell us about Super Sunday in New Orleans?

The short answer, Super Sunday is a historical celebration around the indian culture shared with slaves years ago. African Americans spend all year crafting hand sewn suits of beads and feathers featuring elaborate designs and colors. Various “tribes” start walking processions in their neighborhoods and walk to meet at different spots in the city. Having “Show downs” via demonstrations of their suits beauty. Super Sunday (St. Joseph’s Day) is one of our largest indian displays aside from Mardi Gras. My brand, #Awayteam, host a yearly bike ride where we travel across the city to meet and see the indians.

What is Nola Bounce?

New Orleans Bounce is a unique genre of dance centered music created years ago by using specific break beats by pioneers like Mannie Fresh. It features 3 core beats, similar to that of “riddims” in Caribbean music culture, that are remixed and used over and over but always with unique results. The sound is fast and exciting and often features sexual lyrics from MCs. Historically the genre was carried by hard, upbeat rap tracks, over the years the genre has been heavily adopted by female and transgendered MCs.

We know about No Limit and Cashmoney but what are the lesser known rappers or crews that have been making a wave out there?

This one could take all year to answer considering all that has happened in our music scene over the years! Jay Electronica, Pell, Paasky, Deep N Space are all great examples of our Hip Hop scene now. But the stories of crews and artist in between then and now are countless.

How was your experience at the last Gumbo Party in New Orleans?

It was great, I had a great opportunity to be myself playing anything that came to mind from disco, soul, house funk and beyond alongside some groovy cats. Hopefully there’s room for that this weekend! 

Is this your first time in Toronto? What are you looking forward to?

Yes it absolutely my first time here and I am interested in getting a peek into Toronto’s famous culture. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. We are excited to rock with you this weekend!

David Oyelowo introduces Nollywood at TIFF16!

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*TORONTO* Nollywood has invaded your city for #TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and we are excited to get in on the action! Nigeria’s homegrown film industry has blossomed into the 2nd largest film industry in the world with an avid fanbase spread across Africa and the Caribbean. In addition to checking out all 8 movies that are part of TIFF’s City to City focus on Lagos, Team #SUPAFRIK will be popping up at some of the Nollywood X TIFF parties, talks and special events. So follow us on Facebook and Instagram for reviews/happenings. Tickets are still on sale through ticketmaster here and we have already given away 6 pairs of tickets through the @SUPAFRIK instagram account and we have still lots more film and after-party tickets to give away. Follow us on instagram and twitter right now! The odds are in your favour.

The City to City focus on Lagos opened up the full exuberance and drama of Nollywood with a screening of “The Wedding Party” which chose TIFF to make its world premiere. The film was well received after this celebratory intro by British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo set the tone for the rest of the evening.

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MEET THE FRIKS – The Interns

Next up in our Team Tuesdays Series – our interns!

SUPAFRIK welcomed a new batch of interns onto our team for our early 2016 projects. They’ve been working hard helping us on our mission to saturate Toronto with contemporary African awesomeness. Get to know them a little bit better…

 Studio Manager

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Name: Rufaro Matanda
Meaning of Name: Happiness
City/Cities of origin: Harare

Why did you decide to become involved with SUPAFRIK?
Supafrik, in the past, has had amazing projects that showcase Contemporary African fashion and art. I had been an avid fan and follower of their curatorial lens, so when the opportunity jumped out for me to participate I immediately jumped on it.

What is your favourite part about working on these projects?
The hands on experience is by far my favourite part. Working on the canvases and having input on the creative process behind the curtain has helped me enhance my perceptual abilities as an artist and an aspiring art connoisseur.

What SUPAFRIK projects are you most looking forward to?
Ahhhh! Water Carry Me Go is amazing! It is a must see!

What is your favourite Afrobeats song right now?
Patoranking ft. Wande Coal – My Woman, My Everything

PR and Communications Intern

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Name: Hawa Noor
Meaning of Name: My first name, Hawa, means different things in different languages. In Swahili, it means Desire or Longing. It’s the Quranic (Arabic) version of Eve (as in Adam and Eve). In Hindi, it means Breeze. My last name, Noor, means light.
Cities of origin: Faza and Mombasa (Kenya), Moshi (Tanzania), Toronto (Canada)

Why did you decide to become involved with SUPAFRIK?
My friend Souleik went to a few of SUPAFRIK’s parties last year, which I could never make it to because I was always at work! She’s the one who introduced me to SUPAFRIK and their projects. I’ve never encountered a collective that’s so much of a combination of everything that I love – art, music, fashion, and Africa!

What is your favourite part about working on these projects?
I’m never bored here. I have a notoriously short attention span, so I knew I was at home here when I went 9 hours without tweeting. I also love everyone I work with. I’m learning so much.

What SUPAFRIK projects are you most looking forward to?
All of them! I can’t choose. Right now, I’m looking forward to the next project, Water Carry Me Go. The garments are under lock and key and we only get tiny sneak peeks – I can’t wait to see them all together.

What is your favourite Afrobeats song right now?
I have way too many. I’ll name the first song in my Soundcloud playlist right now – Lil Kesh – Ibile. It’s probably going to change tomorrow, though.

Artist Assistant

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Name: Oyinkansola Olalekan
Meaning of Name: My name is a Yoruba name that means “Honey has dropped into my wealth”. I’ve always teased my Mom saying that with a name like this one, how could she ever be surprised that she gave birth to an artist.
Cities of origin: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. But grew up in New York and Calgary before I found myself in Toronto.

Why did you decide to become involved with SUPAFRIK?
It didn’t take much for me to know I would want to work with the Supafrik team. I saw the work they had previously done with their pop-up shops on the blog. Their events found a way of blending all of my favorite things: art, design, fashion, and of course foo

What is your favourite part about working on these projects?
I love the conceptualization process that happens with the Supafrik team. It’s a beautiful thing seeing how an idea that gets tossed around becomes something real and tangible. I think part of that is definitely the atmosphere that’s been built as we put in the long hours at the studio. Its a space that allows for us to share the ideas we have and play with them until they feel right.

What SUPAFRIK projects are you most looking forward to?
I really cannot wait to see the final pieces for Water Carry Me Go. It has been so exciting to get sneak peeks as the designers finish their projects. Each piece is so detailed and specific to the designer’s interpretation of the theme and I think it will be incredible to see it all live at the ROM.
What is your favourite Afrobeats song right now?
Definitely still bumping Aye by Davido, Standing Ovation by Tiwa Savage ft. Olamide, and even though they aren’t Afrobeat, the Ibeyi twins have been getting steady play.

 

Behind the Scenes at Style and Profile!

We can’t believe that Chinedu Ukabam’s Style and Profile is just about coming to a close. Tonight, the SUPAFRIK fam will be at the Come Up To My Room Love Design Party to celebrate our hard work and long nights. Chinedu partnered up with Gregorio Jimenez from Honour Carpentry to create some amazing pieces for Style and Profile. Here’s a look back on a few moments (out of the countless hours!) spent putting it all together. The show is still on until Sunday evening – if you’re in Toronto and haven’t checked it out already, make sure that you do!

 

 

Where We Spend Our Late Nights: BAND Gallery

It’s been a busy start to the year for SUPAFRIK. We’re just about to wrap Chinedu Ukabam’s installation at Come Up To My Room, Style and Profile, and jump right into getting ready for Water Carry Me Go. None of our planning, plotting, and scheming would have been possible without our outstanding sponsors at Black Artists’ Network Dialogue (BAND) Gallery who have generously opened up their studio space for us. They’re dedicated to highlighting and supporting the work of Black artists and cultural workers in Toronto, and are, in a nutshell, pretty dope. Here’s an introduction:

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What is the Band Gallery Mandate?

BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre is dedicated to developing emerging and mid-career professional artists and arts administrators by providing an accessible venue to showcase artists’ work and to present Black cultural community events and programs to the general public.

What is coming up in the space?

We have two main events coming up in the next few months.

The first is Black History Month Programming 2016 happening from February 11th to March 6th entitled “50 years of Creating Safe Spaces: From The Rent Party to Club Night.” This interactive exhibition will bring music, videos, photography and dance together to document safe spaces. This exhibition will include the photography of Ian Watson along with the archival promotional posters of Hot Steppers who bring us Bump and Hustle.

The second is the Scotiabank CONTACT Festival happening from April 28th to May 29th. In partnership with Autograph ABP,BAND presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by the celebrated African photographer James Barnor, showcasing a wide selection of street and studio portraiture from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Through the medium of portraiture, Barnor’s photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving towards its independence from colonial rule and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis during the ‘swinging’ sixties.

How can artists in the community get involved with BAND Gallery?

We have opportunities for people in the community to get involved at the gallery as volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for gallery maintenance and guest relations, with an emphasis on educating and exhibiting. If interested please send cover letter and resume to Paula Kennedy at admin@band-rand.com.

 

To the BAND team from SUPAFRIK: Thanks for all of your support!

Water Carry Me Go Artist Profile: Carol Barreto (Brazil)

In anticipation of the fashion-art exhibit Water Carry Me Go, we’ve created a series introducing all of the designers involved. Read the rest of them here.

Carol Barreto – Brazil

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Carol Barreto is a black feminist woman and fashion designer from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Carol is a Professor and PhD student at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). She has been showing her collections in runway shows since 2001. In 2013, Carol was invited to represent Brazil at Dakar Fashion Week. In 2015, she presented her “VOZES Collection: Fashion and Ancestries” in the fourth edition of the Black Fashion Week in Paris – she was the first Black fashion designer from Brazil to present a collection at a fashion event in the city. We’re proud to introduce Carol as one of the featured artists in Water Carry Me Go.

1) How did you approach the theme of water for your piece in Water Carry Me Go?

For Water Carry Me Go, I reemployed my research about Yemoja, a Yoruba spirit who is considered to be the mother of all Orishas, that I had initially conducted for an earlier collection of mine titled Fluxus Collection. Fluxus centred on the African Diaspora and was a provocation for viewers to think over the social value of contemporaneity between Afro-diasporans across the world. Using my findings, I created a conceptual garment for Water Carry Me Go that is connected to Mami Wata, a mermaid Goddess that reoccurs in oral traditions throughout Africa and the Caribbean. Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion that developed among communities brought from West Africa as slaves, carries within it one of the most popular Orishas (‘orixás’ in Latin America), Yemanjá. The personage of Yemanjá originally comes from ancient Yoruba mythology about Yemoja; she is the goddess of the ocean.

According to the spiritual outlines of Candomblé, Yemonjá represents the essence of motherhood. Every year in February, thousands of Yemanjá devotees participate in a colourful celebration in honor of the Queen of the Sea. At the end of the ceremony, offerings are thrown to the water by local fishermen, and a massive street party ensues—I live on the street where this takes place. Yemanjá is widely worshipped throughout Latin America, including in the south of Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba and Haiti, but the strongest and the most popular cult is maintained in my hometown of Bahia, in Black Brazilians’ hearts and culture. My personal Orisha is Yemanjá.

2) What motivated you to be involved in this project?

I was motivated by Water Carry Me Go’s potential to push forward our struggle against racism and to act as a vehicle of resistance for Black diasporas who have been subject to European colonialism and neo-colonialism. The theme of the exhibit, water, has been and continues to be a vehicle for our dispersion and a source of our mythologies, and is a salient theme in our identity as Black diasporans. Additionally, by showcasing our cultures and speaking about our contemporary identities in the Black diaspora, we are working against a tradition of colonization that continues—the marginalization and erasure of our cultures. Being invited to participate in Water Carry Me Go is an opportunity for me to take part in this discussion as well as pay homage to my favourite Orisha, Yemanjá. It is my first time exhibiting my clothing designs at a museum and an art gallery. Fashion is usually perceived as functional, never artistic. I get to work with an interesting team an an honourable production staff during an important month of commemoration, where I also get to celebrate my presence as a Black, Brazilian, Feminist Woman.

3) What does your workspace look like right now? Is there anything else you want to add?

My atelier is currently divided in two cities. Maria Viana, my seamstress, is working in Lauro de Freitas (Bahia, Brazil) and Juliana Fonseca, my accessory designer, is working in Cruz das Almas (Bahia, Brazil). Both of them were my students at fashion design university, and we have a lot of experience working together. We have created samples in an attempt to be as close to our conceptual proposal as possible, and we’re working hard to get the dress finished!