Christopher Ward is a songwriter and author who currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto. Renowned for writing the hit single “Black Velvet” by Allanah Myles, Ward bears the distinction of being one of the first ever Canadian on-air video jockeys (VJ) when MuchMusic launched on August 31, 1984. The network went on to alter the course of live broadcasting and music media for decades and Ward was an active participant in its early, heady, experimental, and chaotic days. He’s chronicled the experience in a compelling new oral history book called Is This Live? Inside the Wild Early Years of MuchMusic The Nation’s Music Station, which features commentary from musicians, hosts, producers, crew members, and many other firsthand witnesses to the weirdness. Is This Live? was published this past fall by Random House Canada and Christopher and I recently met at his publisher’s office in downtown Toronto to discuss how MuchMusic got started, how and why it became beloved and influential, its rawness and prescience for interactive content and social media, his book, and more. Sponsored by the Bookshelf, Pizza Trokadero, and Planet Bean Coffee.
Gary Taxali is a gifted and renowned visual artist, author, and illustrator who lives in Toronto. He has exhibited his work in galleries around the world and his images have appeared in many major magazines and advertising campaigns. He also owns his own toy company, Chump Toys, is a teacher at OCAD University, and is one of Canada’s most sought after speakers and lecturers. The Cambridge, Ontario gallery Idea Exchange is exhibiting Here and Now: The Art of Gary Taxali at Design at Riverside until September 20. Here, Gary and I talk about the mysterious tulsi tea that yogis often drink, teaching at the National Institute of Design in India eight months ago, returning to India after many years and not knowing the dialect, Hindi school, seeing Indian movies on Gerrard Street in Toronto’s ‘little India’ as a kid, secretly loving Indian films and culture growing up in Canada, the film Amar Akbar Anthony, assimilation and culture shock as a first generation Canadian, recognizing one’s cachet after high school, Indians in the NBA, the Indian-ness of Gary’s work, parental and family support, his dad the hobby artist, Johnnie Walker, Indian judgment, working for Penthouse and doing a billboard for Levi’s, working collaboratively and the importance of maintaining one’s copyright, ethical considerations, doing fewer illustrations, working with Converse, talking about the Mississippi Delta Blues, Wyatt Cenac and Jon Stewart and white dudes satirizing people of colour, political correctness in art and life, the Bernie Sanders #BlackLivesMatter protesters, punk rock, holding a gallery exhibition between now and the third week of September at Idea Exchange in Cambridge Ontario, Canadians not recognizing achievements by Canadians before international patrons do, watching Kanye West perform at the Pan Am Games, a new solo exhibition called Hotel There at the Robert Levine Gallery in NYC, where the art goes, the Morgan Spurlock story, a Mike Myers story, my print of Gary’s famous work OH NO., the future, and that was it.
Related links: taxali.com ideaexchange.org vishkhanna.com