While 2015 saw Canadian artists including Grimes, Justin Bieber, and Caribou make numerous "best of" lists, including our own, they were hardly the only ones that grabbed our attention this year. Issues of technology, sex, drugs, and drama (literal and figurative) across the country made for some compelling, if not downright weird, reading. From the good (Canada tapping into the growing vinyl market) to the bad (Guvernment shutting down), to the simply bizarre (Deadmouse: The Musical), here are the twelve stories this year that really had us talking.
With vinyl sales outpacing streaming this year, Canada was nearly left in the cold when the country's only pressing plant, RIP-V in Montreal, shutdown in late 2014—the machinery bundled off to New Jersey. Fortunately, Dean Reid and his team in Calgary stepped up to fill the void and opened Canada Boy Vinyl this fall.
Canadians got one more streaming service begging for their hard-earned cash this year with the arrival of a revamped Napster, the popular user-to-user downloading platform from the late 90s. Technological nostalgia has never been stronger.
This year, Torontonians proved themselves to be impatient, demanding, and grotesquely barbaric at the sold-out Disclosure concert in October. Stampeding over a coat check line deemed "too long and slow," a sea of fans ensured that the highly-anticipated event did not end with "Latch." Rather, the concert's "epic finale" was a near riot of stolen coats and pilfered pockets.
The Toronto Fringe Festival got some extra attention this year when they hosted Deadmouse: The Musical. It seems the real deadmau5 was none too pleased with the show using his name and he responded with a cease-and-desist. The producers of the show, which featured characters with names like "David Goudda" and "Avicheese," settled with the mau5 by adding "A Parody" into the title of the play—because sometimes it's harder to take a joke than it is to call your lawyer.
All you had to do was read the news this year to dispel the pop-culture stereotype that Canadians are all mild-mannered, law-abiding citizens besides the occasional hockey brawl. Daniel Cozac, an ex-chemistry professor from Laval University in Quebec was busted running a "sophisticated, industrial scale" ecstasy lab this year with his son. Of course, that was hardly the only strange drug story in Canada this year.
In trying to foster a conversation with university students about the intricacies of sex and consent, the University of British Columbia took an unorthodox approach: using emojis. While it was refreshing to see a new attempt at communicating with students about this important issue, using a sleeping emoji to show that sex with an incapacitated person is "creeeepy" feels alarmingly out of touch.
At first glimpse, Rock The Box, a documentary that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, appeared to be a proud moment for Canadian women in dance music. Produced by one female Canuck, and starring another, DJ Rhiannon, the film attempted to examine an age-old question amongst members of the dance music community: Is a woman's success in this industry dictated by her sexuality?
Provocative, but ultimately unfulfilling, the documentary's handling of a divisive figure within an already contentious issue felt superficial at best.
With seventeen reports of drug overdoses, Calgary's Chasing Summers takes the cake as this year's biggest festival shitshow. With almost as many drug casualties as there were artists on the line-up, Western Canada's largest electronic music event was less about chasing summer, and more about chasing ambulances.
This year's Canadian festival schedule got a little busier this summer with two international additions. UK-bred Bestival set up shop on Toronto Island and WayHome Music and Arts Festival, Bonnaroo's baby brother, rolled in from Tennessee. WayHome's four-day camping extravaganza coaxed legends like Kendrick Lamar, Neil Young, and Bassnectar onto Canadian soil, while Bestival called upon contemporary dance music leaders including Flume, SBTRKT, Jamie xx and Skream.
Toronto Life, a publication seemingly intent on scaring the shit out of your parents, published this piece by a 1950s housewife who recently emerged from a nuclear bunker: "In the EDM world, the predominant ethos is YOLO—you only live once—a mantra that cloaks a culture of risk, danger and hedonism in the language of adventure and adrenalin. Rather than worry about the future—unemployment, rootlessness, apocalyptic doom—millennial EDM disciples retreat into the dance party vortex, a swirl of sex and drugs and indulgence and escapist fantasy." Surely there aren't enough kids concerned with apocalyptic doom these days.
Nicholas Faria, 19, Sage Finestone, 21, and Natasha Robitaille, 18, three individuals with connections to a promotion company in Toronto were arrested on charges of sex trafficking after police rescued a 14-year-old girl from a downtown hotel. The arrests and subsequent allegations shined a light on the darkest parts of the dance music community.
On Sunday, January 21, 2015, eager ravers piled into the monstrous Queens Quay entertainment complex to attend the world's only LED-lit funeral. After a headlining performance from Deadmau5, Toronto's historic Guvernment nightclub shut its doors for the last time. There's a hole in Canadian club culture that may never again be filled.