“I Hope We All Catch Our Dreams” – A MNFSTO9 Tribute to Redway

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Right before Years Ahead was released, a friend of mine asked if I was downtown, and what I was doing. At the time I was pre-occupied but still said, “Not much, what’s up?” He responded back saying Redway was having his album release party – an project produced by WondaGurl who had just appeared on Magna Carta Holy Grail – at Get Fresh Company. “Not another one,” I thought. Regardless, he was convincing and sounded passionate about this artist, so I made my way over. Unfortunately, I caught the tail-end of the event with people spilling out of 498 Queen Street W. in droves. The street became loud, as if family from years just reunited. I remember this night vividly because that was also the first night I met Redway – someone I would come to know as a passionate artist, and someone most people knew as a “us against the world” type of guy.

The project knocked, and Redway immediately got thrown into my list of Toronto-artists-not-named-Drake I’d share with my American peers who inquired often about our music. Quite frankly, Redway will always be in that list of mine. I also got aquainted with Redway’s previous music, but I was steadily hooked on Years Ahead – a title that now seems to hold more meaning than ever before. I’d miss the opportunity to work with Redway from a PR standpoint, something I’d later regret in 2014, but rambled about his music when I could. Even when I was hit up by CJ Fly’s management about openers for an upcoming show, I found myself telling her the story about this guy I’d just found out about who packed a popular clothing store to the brim.

That summer, I ended up running into Redway several times – at the most random times and places, and eerily almost too many times for someone I had just met, but that bright smile and coy demeanor was always welcomed. I also respected Redway’s hustle – the respect he showed others, the effort he put into his career, and how he thought of the city’s changing landscape. As I was putting together a last-minute Toronto showcase for the A3C Festival in Atlanta in August, I reached out to him to see if he wanted to be a part of it. To my surprise, he put trust in myself and this showcase, and said yes.

Manifesto’s annual festival was soon approaching, and it was no brainer to have Redway on the bill. It’d be the third year he’d perform at our festival. That day, he had an early set for Live At The Square. A few acts passed, tensions were already high, and 15 minutes before his set he still wasn’t there. “Hey, where are you!?,” I said in a frantic call. He said he was stuck in traffic – of course he was, as he was coming from Mississauga on a Saturday morning. “There’s talks about cutting set time, get here as soon as you can!,” I continued. With seconds to spare, he made it. With a big smile and positive energy, he took the stage.

Two weeks later, a troop of GTA artists would find themselves in the sunny air of Atlanta, GA. Most of us were also all kotched up at the same hotel (so it seemed), so throughout the week, I’d see Redway networking and building, or sometimes just posted up outside the hotel with his crew. The night of the showcase came, and just before Redway’s set, the steadily packed room started to disperse for one reason or another. In a bit of a panic, I wondered whether to stall his performance or not, but once again, I saw him take the stage with a smile. The room packed right back up, and a few ATL natives asked me who he was shortly after. “That’s Redway! He just released a project with WondaGurl that you should definitely check out,” I’d reply.

It’s been a year since that night in ATL, and by now, I’ve sent the video link to “YKTO” to almost all my American friends when they ask, “What’s Toronto like?” Having recently found myself back at A3C, I also found myself speaking about that ‘416 Showcase’ and what some of those artists were up to now. “We lost one of our guys from last year’s showcase this summer,” I blurted out after that realization hit. “It’s weird, you know… He was such a dope talent. He was the one who had next. He was one of the good ones.”

I’m one of hundreds who attended Redway’s vigil and funeral this past summer – a celebration of his life; ‘how he’d want it’, we were reminded. While my story of knowing him lasted a brief moment in time, the outpour of love and admiration for Shane Redway was – and still is – a consistent testament to who he was as a person. At this year’s Manifesto Festival, we wanted to pay tribute to the late Mississauga artist who touched hundreds of lives in his time. While emotions were high at Dundas Square, there was also a beautiful energy in the air. In my brief time of knowing Shane Redway, I can confidently say that that energy matched the smile of a man and an artist who’s legacy will always live on.

We Say Goodbye to #MNFSTO9 with an Amazing 2015 Recap Video

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Over the course of 5 days, we’ve once again seen our city come together to support the arts and culture of Toronto. As we close off our 9th Annual Manifesto Festival of Community and Culture, we’re excited to say that not only was this year’s festival a success, but once again, we came out on top by showcasing our homegrown talent across multiple disciplines, and are proud to have been able to highlight our thriving arts and culture scene once more. After all, we are #OneCity! Following its premier on Complex Canada, check out our 2015 #MNFSTO9 recap video, which features interviews with our headlining acts, competition winners, and various other people who truly believe in what we do, and where we’re going.

Our most heartfelt thank you’s go out to all of our incredible sponsors, partners, artists, volunteers and amazing crowds who showed up to support our city’s arts and culture communities night after night. An extended thank you goes out to TD Canada, Complex Canada, FACTOR Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, SOCAN, Steamwhistle, Redbull Canada and Shopify for letting Manifesto create an amazing event once again. 

Spek Won photo by Jah Grey

#MNFSTO9 Future Sounds: Spek Won interview

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Spek Won isn’t new to this. While he dropped his debut album Sofa King Amazing earlier this year, Spek Won has been making progressive sounds as part of Toronto’s creative music community for several years now, building up his reputation in collectives like 88 Days of Fortune. So while his album features some organic instrumentation and approaches, it also explores some vividly futuristic directions that much like his production alter ego Marty McFligh, take things back to the future. MNFSTO.COM caught up with Spek Won to discuss his music and approach within Toronto’s burgeoning reputation as a progressive sonic hub. – Del F. Cowie

Spek Won will be appearing as part of Manifesto at Future Sounds on Friday, September 18th with Adria Kain, a l l i e, Clairmont the Second, City Fidelia and Birthday Boy.

9pm – 2am
Daniels Spectrum (Ada Slaight Hall), 585 Dundas St. E.
$20 Advance Tickets
19+ event

Get Tickets

Join Facebook event page


Follow Spek Won on Twitter at @spekwon


On Sofa King Amazing your production alter ego and one side of the album refers to a Back to the Future character [Marty McFligh]. Do you feel like there’s a futuristic approach to what you’re doing?

I feel like there’s definitely a progressive thought process that goes into the writing and the concepts. I do my best to try to mould and put together. I come up on hip hop and music during a time when you didn’t have the influx of music through social media and what not so it was almost like you had to stand out. Me, personally when people tell me my music sounds new or futuristic, I feel like it’s more that it sounds different because I still hold on to the mentality that I have to do my best to sound like me, which is different than a lot of the paths people take. Because I feel like there’s the dominant culture that’s in Toronto right now which is I guess you can call it the OVO Sound, that it’s like it’s heavy it’s like a machine, concrete and steel. The majority of artists from Toronto in Canada and worldwide are adopting that OVO Sound, whereas there are many of us in Toronto and worldwide that are adding to what I like to call counterculture. And pretty much it’s just the culture that doesn’t oppose the popular sound but it is at the other end of the spectrum of what the popular sound is right now. So I guess I’d rather call my music counter-culture to whatever’s popular as opposed to futuristic. I guess if you call it futuristic, OK, I guess it’s futuristic.

What are some of the things that you feel have been happening for a while in Toronto. You were a part of 88 Days of Fortune collective for example.

I feel like 88 Days of Fortune definitely added to the artistic state of what Toronto has become and has been becoming because it was an alternative to the straight-forward, ‘just get on the stage with the MC and a beat [approach]. It was, like, ceremonial when you came to one of our shows and we had so many aspects to it , we even had so many types of shows we hosted parties, we hosted shows we hosted all kinds of things. 88 Days of Fortune definitely did their part for that. I feel like there was also a certain moment of time where Toronto producers were just killing it. And I mean we still are but there was a certain moment in hip-hop where every beat you may have heard it may have been someone from Toronto whether it was 40, whether it was Boi-1da, whether it was Rich Kidd, whether it was T-Minus, whether it was LordQuest. I feel like that also added to the progression to this ‘future’ sound that we have coming out of Toronto. There was a producer era where a lot of producers were just going heavy.



#MNFSTO9 Future Sounds: a l l i e Interview

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Ever since allie released her  Strange Creature EP in 2013 she has explored a sound that is at once familiar and adventurous as well as being traditional and refreshingly new. Her emergence and aesthetic, rooted in soulful music has come alongside a definite sonic shift in R&B, yet she has managed to add her own inimitable and distinctive creative approach. Working collaboratively with other Toronto-area artists like Elaquent and 2nd Son who are inherently wired to push rhythmic boundaries of their own, allie has been able to issue tracks like “Cross My Mind” and the SOCAN Songwriting Prize-nominated “Private Island” that boast immediate appeal while traversing eclectic sonic paths. Having just released “I Can’t Wait,” a sumptuous collaboration with Birthday Boy, allie spoke with MNFSTO.com to discuss her sound within the context of Toronto’s creative community. – Del F. Cowie

a l l i e will be appearing as part of Manifesto at Future Sounds on Friday, September 18th with Adria Kain, Spek Won, Clairmont the Second, City Fidelia and Birthday Boy

9pm – 2am
Daniels Spectrum (Ada Slaight Hall), 585 Dundas St. E.
$20 Advance Tickets
19+ event

Get Tickets

Join Facebook event page

Follow a l l i e on Twitter at @alliemoves


Since you’ve started have you noticed more of an interest from the R&B coming from Toronto?

For sure, for sure.

Why would you say that?

 There’s something definitely happening here. It’s hard to define it. And a lot of people are calling it a sound. I think that’s a little too limiting a term because there are a lot of different sounds going on that are super diverse. But I think that there’s just a lot of talent here, a lot of people are like pushing and taking advantage of the fact that there are a lot of people watching right now. And I think there’s a really different feel of community for me right now where I think in Toronto where a bit of the divide on the music scene and right now it just feels like everybody is supporting each other like coming together to make some dope shit.

What are some examples of the things that are particularly impacting for you in terms of the collaborations happening in the community?

Well, like I’ve just been working with a lot of people from Toronto lately and like I’m working, obviously I’m doing some stuff with Birthday Boy. I’m working with River Tiber, there’s a bunch of different people and it feels like the scene has really opened up for me cos when I started I was working with a lot of producers that weren’t in Toronto kinda right off the jump and that was a bit tough ‘cos it was a lot of internet stuff and we couldn’t actually get in a room with each other. I was really missing that personal connection so that’s kinda been the best part of it for me to be getting in a room with people and to be actually working with close friends I can build relationships with.

So you recently dropped “I Can’t Wait” with Birthday Boy, that’s the only song you guys have worked on, right?

 Yeah, that’s the only thing that we’ve put out. We’re working on some other stuff right now. We’ve both got a lot of projects on the go, but I’m working on my full length, he’s working on some stuff for that. And then as I said River Tiber and 2nd Son [who produced allie’s debut EP Strange Creature] and then there’s just a lot of people in the scene that I’m really looking to right now for inspiration and also right now that I would love to work with, like Harrison, bizZarh and it’s cool because they’re all friends so it feels really natural and organic and I think that’s a lot of the reason people are looking at us right now, ‘cos it is actually organic, you know? It’s not forced. It’s not contrived. It’s a bunch of people who are actually friends who are really supporting what each other are doing, working together and I think that makes it something special because, I don’t know there’s a genuine quality on the scene right now that probably a lot of other cities don’t have.

You’ve said there’s a lot of eyes on us right now a couple of times. What do you think has been a main contributing factor to that?

The really obvious one is the Drake effect [laughs]which everybody talks about a lot. And now The Weeknd is like making this big move. So people are paying attention ‘cos of that, but I think that it’s more than that. I think it’s not just the music scene, it’s the city itself is really growing and changing and turning into something really completely new and in all facets of the city, so I think that it’s just natural that the music scene is having this evolution and that people are like more interested in what’s going on in Toronto and also more interested in the artists that are living here and working here and coming out of here. It’s cool because for so long as a Toronto musician you really had to leave and this feels like really the first time where you can lay down roots here and do your thing. You still have to leave, but it just feels very different to me right now.


Exclusive Interview: From Vanity Fair to Your Favorite Local Hub, Soulection’s SoSuperSam Does It All

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Samantha Duenas lives to innovate. As SoSuperSam, the Los Angeles-based DJ and member of worldwide label/collective Soulection, boldly blends her unique variety of hip hop, R&B, electronica, and indie music into a sonic experience that has charmed the likes of top-tier rappers to Hollywood A-listers to media giants. Her unique approach to the turntables and amalgamation of a charismatic performance background soon became potent ingredients for a stacked portfolio, as a coveted slot supporting Childish Gambino’s US Camp tour and an invitation to be Vanity Fair Magazine’s DJ of choice for many of their high profile photoshoots, only scratch the surface of what the compelling DJ has accomplished. Not one to remain stagnant, the young innovator has some surprises in the works to round off the year, which may come sooner than you might think. – Interview by: Samantha O’Connor | @samomaryleona

SOSUPERSAM will be performing at Future Sounds at Daniels Spectrum on September 18. Follow her on Twitter: @sosupersam

What are you looking forward to most about playing in Toronto at this year’s Manifesto Festival?

I haven’t been to Toronto in a few years and the last time that I was there, I had a really good time. So, I’m just looking forward to being in Toronto. I’m going straight to the OVO store, because I want to get some Hotline Bling merchandise if it’s not sold out.

You’ve worked with one or two artist on the bill that you will be sharing the night with on Friday at Manifesto. What can you tell me about that?

I’m a big fan of Birthday Boy and I’ve used his songs on my mixtapes before. I really want to meet him and I’m really stoked to be on the same bill as him.

How did you come across his music?

Just Soundcloud digging, when you fall into that hole of clicking and clicking and I stumbled upon him and downloaded his entire EP. It’s all really good stuff. Sort of jazzy house remixes.

The event you’ll be headlining at Manifesto is all about sonic innovators of future soul and hip-hop, so in your own words, how does that describe your vision as a DJ?

I think I really fit in the bill in terms of sonic innovation, because my sort of signature stamp as a DJ has always been to sort of blend songs that you would never think of doing. So, a very recent example is, I was playing a party and I mixed Riff Raff with Tame Impala. I let it mix for a good two minutes. Just listening to those two artists mashed over each other, it stunned a lot of people in the crowd, because they didn’t really know what they were listening to. I thought it was a nice crossover and sort of an innovative way to share new music among different types of listeners.

Your resume is stacked. You’ve DJed many types of different events from the HBO Girl’s wrap-up party to a tour with Childish Gambino. So, what does a perfect DJ set look like to someone with a palate so versatile?

For me, a perfect DJ set goes back to sonic innovation, where I’m playing a little bit of everything. My favourite DJ sets are when I’m mixing it all up and the audience starts to really gravitate towards my every transition and what’s coming up next. There’s an anticipation while I’m playing for what’s going to happen next. That’s when I feel like I’m doing a really good job, is when I’m playing things that are unpredictable that still work together.

Any DJ rituals that you have that are important to you?

I’m a very nervous person. I thought that at the beginning, it was just a rookie thing, but I’m just a nervous person in general. The nerves and the anxiety I feel before a DJ set hasn’t really faded overtime. In terms of rituals, I’m usually very quiet and I don’t talk to anyone, which I guess is anti-ritualistic. I try to mentally focus on doing the best job as possible. But I get animated and dance around. I try to give a really good performance, not just blending music but giving as much energy as I can.

And that comes with you being a performer as well. I know before you became a DJ, you were a dancer. So, in an alternate universe where you were on the dancefloor instead of the DJ booth, what song would you be dancing to the hardest?

My all-time favourite would be, Ciara “Ride” but probably anything from the <em>Dirty Sprite 2</em> album, I would probably lose it.

What are your current sonic obsessions this fall?

I’m still on <em>DS2</em>, so that’s in heavy rotation. My label-mate Sango just released some tracks that he had from three years ago. I’ve been listening to that on the plane and it’s been my travel soundtrack. And Makonnen is really finding his way into my life. I have The Internet’s album in rotation a lot. But I’ve been working on my own music.

New stuff, what do you have in the works?

Some production stuff and some vocal stuff. I’ll be putting some of it out next week and throughout the end of the year. It’s scary but it’s time. It’s happening. In addition to dancing, I always sang way before I started DJing. After I finished school, I wanted to be a professional dancer, then I always had a dream of being a corporate power house executive with the corner office and power suits and the heels. Then, I was going to DJ on the side while being a working professional as a boss, because I never thought DJing would actually be my career. The irony is that, what I really thought my hobby was going to be, it turned into my career. I’m stoked on it. So now, I’m just circling back to dancing and singing and all the things I used to do and finding ways to incorporate it into what I’m doing now. It’s been a really fun and interesting process to find ways to do it all at the same time.

So in that regard, you’re still a boss. You’re just doing it all at once.

It works out.


TENFOLD - Dimensions by Taj Francis

#MNFSTO9: Getting to Know…Taj Francis

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Taj Francis may be one of the most imaginative, gifted and versatile artists creating contemporary visual art today.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Francis began drawing as a child, going on to train at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts where he fine-tuned his multidimensional talents.

Creatively fuelled by music, Francis’ work captures lush, evocative worlds and enigmatic characters brimming with sensual spirituality and this compelling mix is garnering him exciting collaborations. Francis recently joined his passions of music and art through stunning videos for his “TENFOLD: Opus” audio-visual project including collaborations with Green Lion Crew (“Temple” ) and Proteje (“Who Knows Dub”).

Today, the full-time artist, illustrator and designer’s work can be found across diverse mediums such as websites to custom artwork on shoes and clothing, as well as this year’s Manifesto festival.  –  Introduction and interview by Chaka V. Grier

Taj Francis’ art will be on display with many other artists’ work as part of the Manifesto Festival at the Common Art Ground Art Show on Sunday September 20 at the Super Wonder Gallery at 876 Bloor St. W. PWYC + All Ages (3pm – 8pm) /$5 + 19+ After 8PM. Buy Tickets. Join Event . Follow Taj Francis on Twitter @tajfrancis and visit his online store tajtenfold.com . 

How early in your life were you aware that art was a passion that you wanted to follow?

Pretty early, I actually can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I did get a lot more serious about it after high school.

What themes did you originally explore in your work (as a young teen)? And has those themes changed as you’ve gotten older?

I spent a majority of my time creating comics, and trying to mimic Japanese manga. A lot of my drawings from childhood were kind of fantasy themes. I wanted to create graphic novels, really. I honestly don’t see it so much as change, as it is all those things culminated to the path I’m on now.

Very dignified and gorgeous women seem to comprise many of your images. Is this a coincidence? Or, are women a particular visual theme that inspires you?

It was probably a more just a coincidence at first. But I’m someone who likes to create what I don’t really see represented, even unconsciously so. I didn’t really see women of colour portrayed in art that often. At least, not in the way that everyone else gets portrayed. It’s not even that deep or edgy, it’s just the idea of kind of normalizing these images. People appreciate it, because people like to feel a connection to art, to feel as if they can see themselves in it, or relate to it. Everyone should get that chance I believe.


There’s a beautiful image of Nina Simone with piano keys in her hair that I was struck by right away. When you’re drawing icons (like Miss. Simone, Ms. Lauryn Hill etc.), whose images have been so coveted by other artists, are you looking for a new angle to capture them with? Or does the image just come to you organically and that’s the way you express it?

I’m very intent on capturing them in a new angle. Both of these women have a very strong impact on the culture, globally. They pioneered a lot of what we get in the culture and music today. If I create an image of someone, it’s not just me drawing him or her for the sake of likes, or hoping that they, or someone, tweet or share it to get a look. I’m trying to honour what this person has done through my own art, so it’s not something I do often.

Music seems to play a big part in your visual inspiration? Is music as much as a creative catalyst in your work as it appears to be? If so, can you explain why?

Yes, in a way. There are particular kinds of music that create certain moods and tones that help me visualize ideas. Or sometimes it’s a particular lyric, or line from a poet. It’s just one aspect in a series of things when I’m creating.

You use mixed-media to create your work (pen, ink, brush, digital and spray paint). How do you decide what tools to use when you’re creating a piece?

No deciding factor really, I just create with what’s available or with what I feel to. At the end of the day, they’re just media. So I’ll use whatever I think will best fit what I’m trying to convey.

How long does it take you to complete a piece like “The Upsetter, Lee Scratch Perry,” which won you 5th place in the international Reggae Poster Contest (RPC)?

Funny story about that, I thought I was too late to submit (I didn’t realize the call submission got extended). So I just did it anyway, figuring I had nothing to lose, and if it were too late it wouldn’t matter, it was fun creating it. I think it took me about a day or so to do.

Your new online store  is rich with such bold and striking images — it’s as if you could climb through the computer screen and enter a lush alternative universe. How exciting and/or daunting has taking this step been for you been?

Thank you, it’s super exciting. I love the idea of being able to make my work available to as much people as possible. I didn’t want to go the route of using a third party website to distribute, because I wanted to have control over how it was presented and how people access it. I didn’t want to be in competition with other more popular art, I wanted to bring the people to me. This is something I’ve been planning since late last year (like many other things). I spent these past months working on several things, setting up this store being one of them. I wanted to make it as accessible as I could. So to get to have it out now is great!

How does it feel to be collaborating with Manifesto this year?

I love the idea of community building through the arts, so to work with Manifesto this year is awesome. We could really use more things like this on a whole, so I’m really excited about the collaboration. Much love to Toronto.


#MNFSTO9: Getting to Know… Derin Falana

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Formerly known as The Flan, Brampton artist Derin Falana (not to be confused with his sister [Victoria] Falana) is busy carving his own path and doing it straight from the suburbs of the 905. The 21-year old is wise beyond his years, often speaking from a the viewpoint of someone’s who too busy with mastering his craft than following the crowd. So what’s it like to be an artist from Brampton, a place that’s often overlooked by its sister city of Mississauga? We sat and spoke to Derin about his hometown and how he’s carving out his own pathway through the industry.  – Erin Lowers

Both Derin Falana will be performing at Live At The Square at Yonge-Dundas Square on September 19. Follow Derin Falana on Twitter: @DerinFalana.

What part of Toronto (GTA) are you from/Where do you live in Toronto (GTA)?

I’m from the suburbs in Brampton.

What is your favorite thing about where you live or the part of the city you are from?

It’s very quiet and peaceful up here. Downtown Toronto is like my second home so it’s nice to come back to Brampton after a long, busy day in the city. I can go for a walk at 2 am with my headphones in and just enjoy my surroundings.

How have you seen art and creativity directly impact the area of the city you live in?

Brampton has a few front runners that serve as inspiration for the city. People are starting to take more pride in being from here. Artists like Alessia Cara and groups like 4YALL Entertainment who are coming up fast have definitely impacted/inspired me and I’m sure I can say the same for others. This isn’t art-related but Brampton also has a few players in the NBA. Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Ennis and Sim Bhullar, who actually made history for his country. It’s things like this that are really starting to inspire people in Brampton to pursue their dreams whatever they may be.

What do you think that you as a creative person brings to the table that is different than other artists?

I think one thing that really sets me apart is that I dance. I can’t name an established artist in the industry right now that raps and dances. It’s very uncommon for a rapper. It’s usually found more on the R&B/Pop side of the industry.

Why is it important for you to take part in the Manifesto festival? 

It’s important for me to take part in Manifesto because as artists/people we all have to come together and connect with each other. Toronto needs more of what Manifesto represents. We really need to break free from this ‘screwface’ stigma. There’s too much talent here for us not to be supporting each other and I want to be apart of the change so this is why I’m grateful to be taking part in Manifesto this year.

What Canadian rap song epitomizes your childhood? OR If you were to name a Canadian rap song that embodies our hip hop landscape, what would it be?

I’d have to say Kardi’s “Ol’ Time Killin” or Brassmunk’s “Big.” Those 2 songs remind me of my childhood the most.

LISTEN TO: Derin Falana – 905 (Mixtape)