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Interview with singers/songwriters Laurel and Hulley

Laurel Minnes and Taylor Hulley are two multi-talented musicians from Niagara, Ontario, Canada. They participated in the August edition of DKG’s Virtual Canadian Pub Night. Enchanting the audience with wonderful musical moments.

Taylor is a singer, a multi-instrumentalist and a winemaker. He released his debut solo album in 2015 and is also involved with various other bands.
Laurel is a Juno nominee and recipient of the „Songwriter of the year Niagara Music Award“ for 2018 as well as Female Vocalist and Best Original Song nominee.

Together they form the duo „Laurel and Hulley“ and they graciously accepted to be the first „video-interview“ for our new DKG interview series. Discover yet again, very talented and very nice human beings from Canada. Once more, catchy and beautiful songs to add to your playlist and names to remember for a potential future concert series in Germany.

This is a first attempt at modernism with limited equipment and video cutting skills.
I apologize for some sound issues and promise to improve in videos to come.
I do hope you enjoy this as much as I did. And don’t miss the performance at the end of the interview!

We might offer you Facebook live streams in the future with our next interviews…stay tuned!!!!
A huge THANK YOU goes out to Laurel and Taylor for your time and understanding for my „juvenile“ experience in video interviews 🙂

Interview with Canadian duet Laurel and Hulley

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Langjähriges DKG Mitglied und Canadian Pub Night Host, Tamara Joyette hat in Zusammenarbeit mit „Canadians in Europe/Canadiens en Europe“ ein sehr interessantes Interview mit der gefeierten kanadischen Köchin und in Italien lebenden, Jessica Rosvalt, geführt.

Vielen Dank Tamara!!!


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Interview with Entrepreneur Mélody Roussy-Parent of „Mélody’s Canada“

©Freddy – Publishing-group.de

Long time DKG member, Mélody Roussy-Parent is a multi-talented, self-made Canadian business woman who has been living in Munich for over twenty years. Not only does Mélody run three businesses but she also finds time to be the President of the Quebec Association in Germany (Association québécoise en Allemagne) as well as giving time for the DKG. To our great pleasure, the very sympathetic „Rimouskoise“ whom we know best under „Mélody’s Canada“, accepted to tell us about her life’s journey.

Mélody was born and grew up in Rimouski, a city in the Lower St-Laurence area in Quebec, Canada. Daughter of a painter and a business woman, she became both very creative and very organized. Mélody’s father first studied at the University Angelicum of Rom and travelled to many European countries. Then he taught theology and history of art at the University of Quebec in Rimouski and built his own painting studio which later became his gallery. Mélody’s mother who was a teacher and then the regional director of SUCO (Service Universitaire Canadien outre-mer) travelled many times to West Africa and helped developing countries by providing and coordinating the resources and expertise needed. When she met her husband and founded a family, she took care of the gallery and also promoted other artists. It is no wonder that Mélody became so hard working and skilled in many areas.

As a child, Mélody learned to read notes of music before she could read books. She studied piano at the conservatory of music from the age of five up to her 20th year and participated to the Canadian Music Competition which brought her to Vancouver in 1986. She might have liked to pursue but she could not handle the stress of playing in front of people. The pressure to perform became too much. She would have preferred to play another instrument to disappear inside an orchestra and not being the center of attention. Mélody was pushing herself already at a young age, studying music at the conservatory, and sciences at the „Cégep“ at the same time.

After college Mélody wanted to study medicine at the University but as she wasn’t accepted in the program, she opted for geological engineering at „Polytechnique“ in Montreal.

©melodyroussy-parent

As she was also attracted to languages and traveling, she participated in the Canadian Summer language program throughout her teenage-years, spending time subsequently in Lennoxville, Quebec, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Charlottetown, Prince-Edward-Island and London, England.

Later on, Mélody spent a summer in Spain where she learned Spanish at the Universidad de Salamanca. The next summer, she decided to learn German and came to Munich.
She liked it so much that she decided to stay. She appreciated the feeling of traditional village flair while being in a major city. In 1998 she made her decision and came to Germany for good, studying the German language in Munich for six months. Afterwards she started linguistics at the University of Munich. That is how she came about to develop online language courses partnering with the University and has been a tutor since.

Being the hard worker and creative person that she is, Mélody decided one day to import Canadian products to sell in Germany. To be able to import the products and start a business, she went on a quest to gather the needed information and launched Mélody’s Canada in 2006. At the beginning, she offered various products in a physical shop in Munich. After a while she found her niche with art, spirits, wine and maple products. All of those are carefully handpicked by Mélody; she has visited every producer herself and has inspected the production process and tested the final product.

In 2017, she decided to do her MBA (Master Business Administration) at the Oxford Brookes University. That is where she developed the idea for her latest business: „RethinkPath Creative Culture Consulting„. Mélody believes in the fact that new ways create new solutions and encourages businesses to explore international opportunities and create the adapted strategy to it. She offers her services and creative thinking training to international businesses, writes academic publications and gives presentations.

Curious and adventurous, Mélody has taken over the presidency of the „Association québécoise en Allemagne“ a couple of years ago. She is also involved in the DKG, participating in the Canadian Pub Night series and the organization to the next one in May. In the past, she also presented her products in various activities with the DKG Oberbayern in Munich as well as with the DKG Rhein-Main.

Mélody is just as versatile as the products she offers: intelligent, unique, creative, strong, resourceful, beautiful, nice and sweet.

https://www.melodys-canada.de/
https://www.roussy-parent.com/

From Iran to Germany – and to California via Canada – A Canadian artist’s story

©aryan ahangarani

“A picture is a poem without words” – Horace

Art cannot be explained. It is something that you feel. And when I first saw Aryan Ahangarani’s paintings, I felt all kinds of beautiful feelings. Her art moved me. And so I am very happy to be able to tell you a little bit more about a wonderful Canadian artist from Iran, who has lived in Germany and Canada. Aryan graciously accepted to tell me more about her life’s path and her experience of both Germany and Canada. Usually in our interviews, we present you a Canadian in Germany or a German in Canada. This time we have someone originally coming from neither country, but who experienced them both. A new angle for us all to contemplate.

A couple of weeks ago I joined a group of „Canadians in Germany“ on Facebook. I asked around if there was any artists interested of giving an interview to the DKG. Aryan Ahangarani was one of the first to reach out to me. When I visited her website, I knew I had to discover more about the person behind those beautiful paintings. So here is (some) of Aryan’s story, a summary of our zoom conversation of April 14th, 2021.

Aryan’s passion for painting started very early in her childhood.
Already at a very young age she could picture her surroundings in her head in great detail. And when asked at school at the age of six to draw her house, it came to her naturally to draw the whole floor plan and show everything in detail. Her teacher was astonished as it is very rare for such a young child to draw not only the house but the inside and with such precision. He immediately told Aryan’s mom to keep an eye on her and try to encourage her to continue drawing as he saw all the potential there was.

Unfortunately, after that came the revolution in Iran and art became a taboo. So Aryan continued by herself, practicing with books to try and quench her thirst for drawing.

Needing to express herself and her feelings, she later discovered writing and started creating funny stories about every-day-life for her friends and school; and those became very popular both with the pupils and her teachers.

As she started university in Economics, Aryan began fashion design and took art classes. That is where she discovered water colours. Later on she started working as an Economist for a consulting company, still doing fashion design on the side. She had several customers and various sold out fashion shows.

Then Aryan became a mom and had less time for her fashion. Sadly she did not have enough support, hence fashion-design, creation and sewing had to go on halt. But her urgent need to create and express herself could not be contained and she tried to find another way.
That is when she saw a beautiful painting in a frame shop. The painting, created by the art teacher Jamal Khoraminejad, reflected exactly the way Aryan wanted to paint. She knew she had to get in his class. So although Mr Khoraminejad’s classes were booked up months in advance, Aryan was able to convince the organizers to take her in. Her love of painting was huge and she really wished to be properly taught. This teacher was a revelation to her as he opened a whole new window and Aryan discovered a whole new way to satiate her craving for drawing, painting and expressing herself. She finally thrived and a year later had her first (sold out) show in one of the best galleries in Tehran.
A week later she was giving an interview on TV talking about her art and the way she feels when painting. That led to another TV show, this time a live airing, explaining how painting made her feel and what it meant to her, all while being careful of the way she was saying it as there were many restrictions; women not being allowed to speak too freely.
It is at around this time that Aryan finally received her visa to study in Germany which was no easy task at all, she had to fight her way through. As she was recently divorced with a child, which in itself was very difficult being in Iran, the authorities did not want to grant her the visa. Only with a lot of determination and resilience in overcoming the many obstacles was she able to follow her path to become the artist and the person she longed to be.

After much patience and courage, Aryan finally arrived in Germany with her four year old daughter. At the Kassel University she received her Master in Global Political Economy. True to her passion, she pursued her art at the university. All in all she had 4 art shows while in Germany. Her German experience was fantastic. It was, as she stated, the best time of her life. Aryan said that it is difficult to get to know people at first as Germans are more reserved. But once you earn their trust and they open up, they are the most welcoming people.
Aryan has countless stories where she was helped and encouraged by caring, lovely people. Like when she could not find a kindergarten place for her child but was allowed to take her to her masters class for several months in a row so she could still go on with her studies. Coming from a very old country she appreciated the history and culture in Germany;
the buzzing cities with so many activities. She was always amazed at how much Germans would know about history and politics in her home country.

But one day she decided to leave the country and that is when Aryan applied for immigration to Canada. As she already had a brother there, it made sense for Canada to be her next destination. With no-one to stop or hinder her anymore, she wanted to experience her freedom and see more of the world. This time, with her diplomas and life experience, the transition was easier. But coming to Canada was a total shock. They arrived at Calgary and after living in lively Europe with so much history, coming to this very quiet place was a big change. Also, people were very friendly but it was much harder to make friends; to be admitted into their intimate circle. Also Aryan had the feeling that Canadians were less informed about what is going on in other countries. But once again, art came in handy. The mountains and the beautiful skies became her inspiration. By painting the beautiful landscapes of Calgary, Aryan made contacts in the art scene, showing her work, connecting and networking. Even becoming an art teacher herself and sharing her knowledge, wisdom and passion. And so she made many helpful friends through her art over the years.

In 2019 her career as an Economist brought her to California. Her daughter, now 23, is studying European-Union Studies and Russian Affairs in Toronto. Aryan is a citizen of the world. A strong woman and role model who made it possible for herself and her daughter to thrive. An artist who shows her love for life through her paintings. Despite growing up and evolving in difficult situations, she always stayed focussed, going her way, believing in herself and that there was a place for her and her art. A very inspiring and beautiful story, full of hope and love, which we can all use anytime but especially nowadays….

To Aryan’s website

Interview mit Schriftstellerin Natascha Birovljev aus Caroline, Alberta

Natascha Birovljev ist eine deutsche Schriftstellerin die in der Provinz Alberta lebt. Geboren in Böblingen bei Stuttgart, fand Natascha ihren Pfad zum Schreiben über viele Umwege. Die talentierte Autorin der „Willow Ranch“ Reihe („Schattenpferde der Rocky Mountains“, „Die Schattenkrähe der Rocky Mountains“ und „Der Schattengrizzly der Rocky Mountains“) hat, zu unser aller Freude, eingewilligt uns ein paar Fragen zu ihrer Geschichte zu beantworten.

©Natascha Birovljev

-Sie sind in Baden-Württemberg geboren und aufgewachsen. Wie haben Sie Ihre Liebe zu Pferden und Tieren entdeckt? Meine Mutter war selbst leidenschaftliche Reiterin und hat mich mit ihrer Liebe zu Pferden angesteckt. Wir hatten seit meinem 10-jährigen Lebensjahr immer Pferde. Meine Leidenschaft war damals das Dressurreiten und ich bin, zusammen mit meiner Mutter, zu unzähligen Turnieren und Trainingseinheiten gefahren. Es war eine wunderbare Zeit. Von meinem Vater habe ich die Liebe zu Hunden in die Wiege gelegt bekommen.

-Wie war Ihre Verbindung zu Kanada bevor Sie zum ersten Mal dort Urlaub machten?
Ich bin immer schon gerne alleine gereist, war in vielen Ländern und wollte unbedingt einmal im Leben in den Rocky Mountains reiten. Durch Zufall habe ich in einem Reitermagazin die Anzeige der Ranch gesehen, die in Alberta Ritte in die Berge anbot. Im Jahr 2000 habe ich dort meinen ersten Urlaub verbracht, ein Jahr später habe ich dann meine Mutter mit auf die Ranch genommen. Wir verbrachten damals 14 Tage in einem Zeltcamp, das diese Ranch in den Bergen hatte. Ein unvergessliches Erlebnis und damals hat sich Kanada und ein Cowboy in mein Herz geschlichen und nicht mehr losgelassen.

-Kanada ist sehr gross, warum entschieden Sie sich ausgerechnet für Alberta?
Die wilde Schönheit der Berge hat mich begeistert. Und ich habe auf der Urlaubs-Ranch meinen Mann (jetzt Ex-Mann) kennengelernt.
Ich muss zugeben, dass ich erst Jahre später mehrere Provinzen Kanadas bereist habe. Die Ranch- und Cowboytradition Albertas liegt mir am Herzen und die Menschen hier, sind in ihrer herzlichen Art, ganz nach meinem Geschmack. British Columbia ist ebenfalls immer eine Reise wert, doch dort könnte ich nie für länger bleiben. Das ist ein ganz anderen Menschenschlag. Begeistern kann ich mich auch für die Ostküste und ich will, wenn es wieder möglich ist, auf jeden Fall Ontario bereisen. Einen Road-Trip quer durch Kanada, das steht auf meiner Bucket-Liste … einmal Westen nach Osten und dann in den Norden, bis die Straßen aufhören.

-Sie haben in der Zeit um 2012 schwierige Momente erlebt. Was hat Sie dazu bewogen, in Kanada zu bleiben und nicht nach Deutschland zurück zu kommen?
2012 habe ich ganz unerwartet meine Mutter verloren und meine Ehe stand vor dem Ende. Und doch war Kanada zu meiner Heimat geworden und ich konnte mir nicht vorstellen, zurück nach Deutschland zu gehen. Meine Ranch hier, war und ist mein Zufluchtsort, mein Paradies, in dem ich mich immer, auch in schweren Zeiten, geborgen fühle. Heimat ist tatsächlich mehr als ein Ort. Kanada und vor allem Alberta wurden zu meiner Wahlheimat eben auch durch die Menschen, Freunde, Nachbarn, die mich umarmende Natur und meine Tiere. Und ich bin zutiefst dankbar, dieses Leben hier leben zu dürfen.

-Was vermissen Sie manchmal aus Deutschland außer Familie und Freunde?
Ehrlich gesagt, vermisse ich nichts, außer die geliebten Menschen. Ich denke, das ist ein deutliches Zeichen, dass ich hier Wurzeln geschlagen haben, die tief hinab reichen und mich hier in Alberta mit allem versorgen, was mein Herz, mein Körper und meine Seele benötigen, um rund um glücklich zu sein.

-Sie waren 2019 auf der Buchmesse in Leipzig und auch in Frankfurt. Wie war Ihre Erfahrung dort? War es für sie das erste Mal als Autorin dort?
Ja, die Leipziger Buchmesse 2019 war meine erste Buchmesse als Autorin und ich hatte auch gleich einen eigenen Stand. Was für ein Erlebnis! Meinen Mini-Stand hatte ich mit Pferdedecken, Traumfängern und kanadischen Ahornblättern dekoriert, und ich glaube dass allein, hat die Besucher stehenbleiben lassen. Es war anstrengend, dort an allen Messetagen Fragen zu beantworten, zu lächeln und zu erzählen, aber ich habe jede Minute genossen.
Auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse war ich dann gemeinsam mit der Romanschule, für die ich seit fast 2 Jahren als Dozentin /Schreibcoach arbeite. Dort habe ich, zusammen mit einer Kollegin, live ein Buch geschrieben. Wir hatten es im Vorfeld geplant und uns dann einfach hingesetzt und während der Messe vor den vorbeilaufenden Besuchermassen geschrieben. Der Frauenroman befindet sich momentan noch in der Überarbeitung, da wir beide eigene Projekte haben, denen wir Priorität einräumen. Auch diese Messe war ein tolles Erlebnis und ich habe mit vielen LeserInnen über mein Leben in Kanada und meine Bücher gesprochen.

-Sind die Charaktere in Ihre Bücher von reale Personen Ihrer Umgebung inspiriert?
Nun muss ich lächeln. Meine Nachbarn hier sind sehr neugierig, endlich die englische Version der Bücher in Händen zu halten. Denn sie sind sich sicher, dass sie darin vorkommen. Wie könnte ich mich nicht von den Rodeo-Cowboys, den hart arbeitenden Ranchern, Cowgirls, First Nations people inspirieren lassen? Manche meiner LeserInnen haben mir auch gesagt, dass meine Figuren wirken, wie aus dem Leben gepickt. Und damit haben sie nicht ganz unrecht.

-Sie schreiben auf Ihrer Website einen Blog über das Schreiben und über Ihr Leben in Kanada. Es ist Ihnen vielleicht bewusst dass Sie den Traum vieler Kanadaliebhaber leben.
Kanada, Ranch, Pferde, Rocky Mountains, Schriftsteller…
Erzählen Sie uns wie sie es für sich wahrnehmen.

Mir ist durchaus bewusst, dass ich einen Traum von vielen leben darf. Auch von einigen meiner Freunden. Es ist aber eben auch so, dass ich nach sechzehn Jahren hier, manches als selbstverständlich hinnehme, weil es mein Alltag, meine Umgebung ist. Daher bin ich dankbar, dass mich meine LeserInnen und Follower auf den Social Media Kanälen immer wieder bewusst machen, wie traumhaft schön meine Wahlheimat, meine North Raven Ranch und mein Leben ist. Das erfüllt mich mit tiefer Dankbarkeit und einer immer wieder neuen Wertschätzung meines Lebens hier. Ich bin ein sehr positiver Mensch, schon immer gewesen. Lange Phasen von Trübsinn kenne ich nicht. Manchmal, wenn ich draußen auf meinem Gelände bin, mit meinen Hunden, bei den Pferden, gibt es Augenblicke, an denen ich mein Glück nicht fassen kann. Das mag kitschig klingen, aber genauso empfinde ich es.

-Dürfen Sie uns verraten, an welchem Projekt Sie momentan arbeiten?
Das vierte Buch meiner Willow Ranch Reihe liegt gerade im Lektorat. Es wird im Mai erscheinen. Ein Fantasy-Projekt möchte gerne meine Aufmerksamkeit. Aber ich werde auf jeden Fall auch weiter Romane schreiben, die eng mit Alberta, den Rocky Mountains, First Nations Legenden und dem Leben hier im Cowboy Country verbunden sind.

-Was ist Ihr größter Traum als Autorin?
Ein Traum wäre es, an meinem Lagerfeuer aus meinen Büchern zu lesen, umgeben von zahllosen Zuhörern, die sich mit dem Flüstern des Windes und meiner Stimme verzaubern lassen. Da dies aus vielen Gründen momentan nicht möglich ist, überlege ich gerade, in einer Art Podcast aus meinen Büchern vorzulesen. Das würde mir sehr viel Spaß machen.
Und natürlich will ich weiter Romane schreiben, mit denen LeserInnen sich nach Kanada träumen können. Wenn mich Nachrichten meiner LeserInnen erreichen, in denen sie mir schreiben, dass sie mit meinen Figuren geweint und gelacht haben, meine Zeilen ihnen Mut und Inspiration gegeben haben, dann habe ich bereits das Gefühl, mein Autorinnen-Traum zu leben.


www.facebook.com/NataschasBuecher
www.instagram.com/nataschab
www.twitter.com/NataschasChirp
www.pinterest.ca/nataschacanada

Interview with Percussionist-Singer/Songwriter Joannie Labelle

Joannie Labelle is a multi talented artist from Canada. She is an achieved percussionist, singer, composer and teacher. She not only learned from the best but also composes for and accompanies various well known artists. She is also an accomplished singer/songwriter (under the pseudonym: „Bea Box„) who also teaches and shares her knowledge with a lot of people. Joannie appeared on many a world stage like Montreal, Vancouver, Berlin, Doha, Kolkata and performed with artists such as Lara Fabian, Marie-Josée Lord and Les Trois Accords. She graciously accepted to tell us more about herself…

-Which part of Canada are you from?

I’m from the province of Quebec.
 

-Please tell us about your career path and what led you to music and percussion.

As a young girl there was always a lot of music in the house. My dad played loud rock’n’roll music, we danced a lot, my mom, my sisters and I took piano lessons, I learned folkloric dancing … I think this ubiquity of music made it very natural to always have music around. Also, I attended a lot of live concerts, mostly punk rock. One day at a rock concert I saw a percussion ensemble, Zuruba, and I totally fell in love with percussion. It was a strong calling. My parents were generous and allowed me to buy my first bongos and find a local teacher, Normand Hervieux. Then everything slowly fell into place. College studies, musical projects, university studies, first musical jobs, more projects, more groups, etc.

-What brought you to Germany and how were your first impressions?

It’s a curious story! An ex-boyfriend of mine fell in love with Berlin and wanted to move there. As an adventurer, I accepted the thrill and followed him without a lot of money and without a good knowledge of the German language. It was a fascinating and difficult adventure. I really enjoyed Berlin and its colorful lifestyle. It was very inspiring. But the lack of German networks and communication skills made it quite difficult at first. Fortunately, I then met some very generous people, like Klaus Staffa who conducts the Groove Percussion Zentrum in Neukölln. Thanks to him, I still teach there from time to time. Klaus, among others, helped me build a network and start working as a percussionist in Berlin. Life then took me back to Canada for a few years, but two years ago I met my current life partner in Canada (he’s German!) and came back to live with him in Germany. In Hamburg this time. I find the city very beautiful and the nature all around makes it a great experience.
 

-You are not only a musician but also a singer, you compose for yourself and other artists and you are also an educator.  Can you tell us what you like the most about all of these aspects respectively?

For me, the singing is very intimate, personal. You offer your own voice and inner sounds to an audience. In relation to percussion, there is a direct conversation possible with your listener, with words and intimacy, about what concerns you. I find this very powerful and attractive to pursue. The composition is also a wonderful world. It allows all of my imagination to take place and be channeled. I enjoy this as a form of expression for myself, but I also enjoy being someone else’s voice. I get to compose for different artists, a lot of them are dancers, and it’s fantastic to slowly realize the musical ideas they hear in their mind. Very satisfying. Collaborative work is also very rich in learning and good social moments. Finally, I appreciate being an educator, because I like to pass on the knowledge and the good advices that I have acquired for myself. In the field of percussion, there is always this concern for cultural transmission. I have had the chance to study with great masters from different cultures and I feel honored to continue on this path, from them to my own students.

-You have started producing a series of video documentaries in which you meet with different percussionists in various parts of the world, how much of an impact has the pandemic had on your career and personal life?

Well … a big impact! Probably like most musicians. In my case, it was particularly difficult because I was starting to be well established as a musician in Hamburg, having been confirmed in a series of performances at the Hansa Theater. I also had a full summer planned of touring between Germany and Canada. It was going really well. But as you know, we don’t control these events and we have to learn to navigate them. So good things also happened as an outcome. I am teaching more and more online, I have developed good skills to produce video performances at home and I have time to write a few new songs. Regarding personal life, unfortunately I see less of my family and friends who live in Quebec, but I get to have more quality time with my life partner. The pandemic has definitely changed my life configuration. Hopefully traveling will get easier again eventually!

-You are known as „Bea Box“ as a Singer/Songwriter, any particular reason for choosing that  name?

Bea first came from Beatitude, because composing often brings me a great feeling of happiness. Everything stops and there is this magical flow that prompts me to write something, or to deepen an existing arrangement. It is a very nice state to be in. And then, Box is in fact this space, which has borders between me and the others. It’s a mental image of me being in that space, very personal, in a very happy state while making music. 

-Of all the people you worked with: DJs, musicians, singers, dancers, who impressed you the most and why?

I must think of my friend Kattam Laraki-Côté. I have known him for a long time because we have evolved together, as well as in parallel, as percussionists. A few years ago, he hired me to perform in his children’s show Kattam et ses Tam tams. It was such a pleasure to work with him. I was and still am impressed by his strong energy, his formidable skills in percussion and transmission, his sense of the spectacle, his concern to respect the different traditions that he shares and finally, his kindness and his work ethic. Always fair, always generous and open to discussion, I am impressed by his exceptional human and artistic qualities.

-What do you miss the most when away from Canada and what do you enjoy the most from/in Germany?

I miss my family, friends and colleagues the most. This is really what makes my life rich in Canada. I have a very close circle of people with whom I communicate often and whom I meet often. Of course, with the time difference and the distance, I have less contact with these people when I am in Hamburg. Missing them shows me how precious they are to me.

What I like most in Germany is above all my boyfriend! Also his family who is very kind and welcoming. After that, the city in which I currently live, Hamburg. I find this place beautiful, especially because of the nature all around and the water canals. The architecture is also very pleasant and I like the museums and the port. Finally, from what I know about Germany so far, I really appreciate Bavaria. The landscapes are magnificent.

-You are a grant holder from Canada Art Council and sponsored by several companies, what does it represent to you and what has been your proudest career moment to date?

These recognitions are very precious to me. I am grateful for this support. When these things happen, it’s like a gift in a long road of art and business development. In addition, it helped me a lot as a newcomer to Germany. My sponsors help me get the equipment I need and they expose my work to more people. The Canada Art Council helps me with art projects at times when there are fewer musical jobs. Incredibly precious. Having said that, I also find great pride in artistic achievements like producing my first album or touring with a great artist like Lara Fabian.

-What is your biggest musical dream?  

Right now, I think my biggest dream is to make a wonderful second album. Colourful, groovy, modern. And I would love to have an amazing team around me to promote the music and the project forward, reaching as many people as possible. I know these things usually slowly combine over years and years of work, so this should be my dream for a while!

https://www.facebook.com/joannielabelle

https://www.instagram.com/joannielabelle/

https://twitter.com/joannielabelle

https://linktr.ee/joannielabelle

You are looking for something new for Christmas? New songs to change from „Last Christmas“? Don’t look no more! Canadian artists Kristine-St-Pierre (Ontario) and Justin Lacroix (Manitoba) have produced a wonderful Christmas CD in 2019 with 9 original songs: „Noël avec toi“. Voices as soft as velvet, humour, wit and lots of love with wonderful melodies that will warm your heart and bring you joy for a Christmas like none other.

©Marcel Druwé

The sympathetics Franco-Canadian singers and songwriters have graciously accepted to give us an interview.

-Can you please give us a glimpse of your respectives journeys as artists up to now?

Justin- I’ve been playing music from as early as I can remember. I first took violin lessons from the age of 4 until I was 12 and then went on to learn the guitar. I immediately started singing songs I liked as I would get my guitar teacher to show me how to play them. I continued like this for the next 10 years; learning to play the songs I wanted to sing and shared them with friends and family any chance I had. When I was 22, one of my brothers passed away in a car accident. It’s a bit of a heavy detail to share but since it’s when I started songwriting and when I decided I would live a life driven by meaning, it’s essential in telling my story. Since then, I have been following my songs from stage to stage and continue to seek to connect with the beings that I cross paths with on the way.

Kristine- My journey is actually quite similar to that of Justin. I’ve always loved singing from since I can remember. I learned piano when I was young and played in different musicals in school. I particularly loved singing and karaoke! I then learned guitar in 8th grade, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I picked it up again. I took singing and guitar lessons, even had the chance to learn flamenco guitar in Spain. My first real performance, as I like to call it, was just before my mom passed away after battling breast cancer. It was the first time that I performed my original songs on guitar. Like Justin, her passing is when I really started songwriting and began my path as a songwriter and musician. It’s brougth me so much joy and comfort over the years. I often feel that it was her gift to me.

-How did you meet and how did you know you could collaborate on a project both being solo artists to start with?

Justin – I’m from Winnipeg and Kristine is from Ottawa – a 24 hour drive away! We met in Thunder Bay (not quite midway between our home towns) in 2011 when we were matched up to play the same evening at a concert at the Apollo music venue when we were each on our respective tour. We kept in touch and shared the stage a number of times through the years. Sharing the stage has always been a harmonious experience and so in 2019, when Kristine mentioned a possible collaboration on a Christmas album, it was simply easy to see that it would be a good thing. We both have our personal projects but this one is a great way to join positive forces to shine some joy and love and compassion on the world.

Kristine- Yes, Thunder Bay, 2011! It was my first solo tour in that part of Ontario and the owner of the venue had offered that I open for Justin. I was still so new to the world of songwriting and performance and I was blown away by his voice and his songs! Still am!

-What does Christmas represent for you?

Justin – For me, Christmas represents a time to celebrate family and friends. As of late, I have also begun embracing this time of year as a time to express gratitude for my journey and the people who accompany me and to confirm the path I wish to continue to follow.

Kristine- I’d also say that Christmas is about family and friends. I love decorating the house and going to get a tree. One of the things I love when traveling is buying a small ornament to put in the tree. I’ve accumulated many ornaments from all over!

-Where did you get your inspiration for your Christmas songs?

Justin – I hadn’t really thought about composing any Christmas songs in the past. Maybe because it seems a little like all the Christmas songs already exist. Once I did allow myself to do it, the first one simply required myself asking myself what Christmas means for me and what I would wish it to be and the song kind of just showed up! When Kristine and I started working on the album together, I had that first version of that song and she had one song as well and a couple other ideas so from there, it was just about letting our memories of Christmases past and our imagination lead us through.

Kristine- I have to say that I had been wanting to write Christmas songs for a long time, but hadn’t really taken the time to do it. Once we said we’d do this, I just started thinking about what I love about Christmas, what it is I want the most, how I want people to feel. I also listened to a lot of other folk artists to get inspired!

-You wrote music and lyrics together, how easy/hard was it to agree to a final product?

Justin – It was definitely a good way to keep momentum going. And though it’s not always easy to comprimise, I have come to enjoy the discussion that is had on the way to that final product. And yes, it’s a very supportive space so I think that is the key.

Kristine – It was actually really easy to write with Justin. It’s not easy to find someone that understands your approach and your pace and gives you the space to explore different avenues. I think we both did that for each other. Some songs were very quick, others took more editing or revising, but it’s great to have someone to conspire with musically!

-Justin you play numerous instruments, how many of them did you use for this album and which ones are they?

Justin – The album is mostly based around Kristine and I’s acoustic guitars. I have often accompanied Kristine on the mandolin over the years so that instrument naturally found its place on some of the songs as well. We also wanted to have some upright bass and some cello but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to learn those yet so we had some musicians from Winnipeg to record those. After that, our good friend and the one who engineered and mixed the album, Joël Perreault, recorded lead acoustic guitar on „Il neige“, and a bit of electric guitar, some slide guitar and a bit of banjo… oh! and some little bells for the last song on the album. I also recorded some electric guitar, banjo and the rest of the percussion.

-A prominent figure of Canada fairly recently claimed that the francophone community in Canada is dying which angered many people, among them many young French-Speaking people of the said community, what are your views on this?

Justin – I understand the anger. Having grown up as francophone in a mainly English speaking population, I have a very strong bond with my french community in Manitoba (the province in which Winnipeg is located). When somebody says something like that, it can feel like a denial of a community’s existence and nobody likes to be told they don’t exist. In any case, I don’t think I really felt that same anger when those comments were made. I feel like at this point in time, though existence itself is a bit of a question I ponder, I don’t question where I come from and how those roots are forever a part of who I am. After that, I don’t necessarily like the idea of fighting for the survival of one’s culture – I rather choose to put my energy towards celebrating it (though I do recognize that people have fought for the right to keep this culture alive and I am grateful for those resilient guardians).

-How easy or hard is it to do music in French in Canada (and outside of Quebec)?

Justin – It’s not hard to do music in French anywhere, it’s just that it’s not always easy to find an audience for it. As I said, I am from a French community in a mainly English speaking city so I grew up with both those languages being very present in my life. I enjoy writing and singing in both of these languages and enjoy shaping each concert to fit the audience. If there aren’t many francophones in the crowd, I may not play as many french songs, but I always like to do at least two or three. After that, well, a life trying to live off of playing music is pretty challenging no matter which tongue you sing in… but very gratifying.

-Do you plan to work on other projects together and if so, which ones?

Justin – We have already collaborated on one of Kristine’s recordings this past year between last Christmas and this one. To tell you the truth, it seems Christmas time, for the foreseeable future, will be spent continuing to work together (and that means pretty much working a little bit throughout the year in order to be ready for November/December – just like little musical elves). We’ll see what else comes along the way.

Kristine- Sounds like a wonderful plan to me! 😉

-How has the pandemic influenced your career and how do you see your future as an artist?

Justin – It was pretty strange how it went down because I periodically go through a bit of a self-questioning period and kind of reset my heading. I was actually going through a thorough re-evaluation when everything shut down pretty much overnight. No more concerts and no more songwriting workshops in schools(which is an activity that I hold dearly and is also an important part of my making a living as a singer-songwriter) and no sign of when those activities might go back to „normal“. I’m not sure exactly where I’m heading with it but have been working at figuring out how to build a space to share music via internet and am embracing it. In fact, the online sharing of music was something I wanted to work on (as a compliment to playing live for people – cause there’s nothing like the potency of being there in the physical form) so this is kind of like an intensive workshop I suppose. A little intense, and I look forward to playing more for people in the flesh, but I am still happy to be able to sing for folks in any way I can.

Kristine- It definitely forced me to do more things online! I was really fortunate to get a few grants to perform online, which I really enjoyed. But like Justin, it certainly created some doubts as to how to move forward. I did appreciate the time to breathe and take some time to reevaluate things. But I am so so happy we were able to ’save Christmas‘! It’s been so great to be able to perform our Christmas songs again!

©Marcel Druwé

It does not happen often that one comes across a Canadian designer by chance, but my wife, designer Carmen Siebold, CaSieLiving, saw the Log Bowls in the Alberta Craft Magazine, and immediately fell in love with them. From there it did not take long to establish a contact with the two Albertans, who were open, welcoming and friendly as Canadians are, and willing to share a bit about themselves and their art and handicrafts with us. So here we are with some insights into their beautiful designs and crafts. ****Intro from Michael Siebold

©Joe Johnson and Loyal Loot

„Loyal Loot“ is Doha Lindskoog and Anna Thomas. Their work has been shown in many cities and is also available all over the world.

-Where does the name “Loyal Loot” come from?

We came up with the name Loyal Loot when we were in design school. We started by making a long list of words that emulated the kinds of products we intended to create. After a process of voting and elimination, we settled on Loyal Loot. ‘Loyal’ is about keeping and loving our creations in your home for the long term, something of quality that will last, ‘Loot’ references treasure, finding something special.

-What is your “parcours” up to Loyal Loot. And how did you get the idea to start it?

Loyal Loot began when all four of us were in the Industrial Design program at the University of Alberta together. We worked well together on projects and had similar interests in the Bauhaus movement, Dutch design, women in design, and the arts and craft movement. We decided to enter new designs in an open call for ‘Cabin’ a showcase of new work with a Canadiana theme, organized by Motherbrand, which was a Canadian design group dedicated to presenting Canadian design internationally. Since we were still students, the prospect of our work being chosen was foreign, and we found strength in numbers. We submitted our work as a collective, and consulted each other on our designs throughout the process. All of our designs were chosen, and our success as a group really bolstered our confidence to go forward with more projects together.

-Where do you get your inspiration for your work? And what role does Canada’s nature play in it?

We are inspired by many things of course, but most notably nature, as we both spend a lot of time outdoors. We have the benefit of natural prairie, forest and mountain landscapes very close by both of us, and make sure to make the most of that easy access with hikes and visiting mountain parks as much as possible. We find both the scenery and natural elements as material to use in our work very inspiring, the possibilities and beauty are endless.

-How important is it for you to use sustainable and reclaimed materials?

It is very important to us to have sustainability in mind when creating new objects, and whenever possible, using material or practices that have minimal impact on the environment. This includes using unwanted wood for our Log Bowls, naturally dyed leather, sustainably sourced wood, and water-based or naturally derived finishes. Currently we are working on a glass project that utilizes glass packaging as a component of the final piece.

-How do you see your role as an artist?

We approach our practice with consideration for the curiosity and wonder that an object can inspire. How can we make a simple item that allures? What happens when we bring outside indoors or reimagine the scale of things around us? How can something soft and pliable be made out of something smooth and solid? Our approach is about questioning the norm and considering a different angle.

-What message do you want to share through your pieces?

We want to show that objects can be thoughtful, considered, and not too serious.

-What are the 5 pieces of design you are most proud of and why?

Our Monsieur DressUp set (Anna Thomas), Log Bowls (Doha Chebib Lindskoog), Coat Hang (Dara Humniski), Bear Rug (Carmen Douville), and Mineral Mirror (Doha Chebib Lindskoog).
We don’t have many products for sale, as we do not release new work every year. Our craft is a slow process, and making the items takes time. We are proud of the diversity in style and point of view, the endurance of interest in these designs, and the varied materials and techniques.

-On your website you mention the desire to create objects of integrity and timeless beauty. How do you define integrity and timeless beauty?

To us, integrity means we are putting our utmost effort in ensuring that these objects are made with materials that leave a minimal footprint on the environment, are made by individuals locally (or ourselves) who are fairly compensated for their work. Timeless beauty in our eyes means aging well. The objects we make are meant to last both physically and stylistically.

-In what way does practicality and usability play a role in your design work?

Usability is always considered in our work, but we like to bring whimsical form into the equation. We like that our pieces, if used purely for form, as a sculptural piece or objet d’art, can stand on their own, whether being used for their intended function or not.

-Has Corona affected your business and how?

Yes, definitely. We were preparing new work to show in Milan in April 2020 with Ventura Projects, as well as a design market with Isola and Milan Design Mart. Obviously Milan Design Week was cancelled, and all of these possibilities to show our new and old work to a new audience was put to a halt. We have also seen sales to both shops and direct to customers decrease.

Elke Porter is a German-Canadian who is very active within the German-Canadian Community in Canada. The writer and blogger (to name just a few of her many talents) has just published her book “75 German-Speaking Influential People in Western Canada”. It describes and shares stories of Germans and German speaking people who have contributed to their communities in Canada.

©elke porter

Your Parents emigrated to Canada in 1956 and 1961 then met and married in Toronto where you were born. What were the reasons for them to emigrate to Canada?

My mother came to Canada as the youngest daughter in a family of 3 girls. Her mother wanted to get away from Germany after a divorce and decided on Toronto, ON.

My father was the typical young man looking for adventure. He was the youngest of 3 boys and his oldest brother was living in Toronto, ON, so it made sense for him to go there. His brother attended an active church with a large youth group that included my mother, so my parents literally met the first day my father set foot in Canada and it took them only 5 years of courtship to marry.

-Did they ever want to go back to Germany at some point?

Not many people know that after having my brother and myself, my parents did move back to Germany and lived in Bad Nauheim for a few months. My father worked as a private investigator in a firm called “Retail Credit” and they agreed to attempt to open a branch in Germany. But after five months my parents were forced to make a decision when my father’s car broke down. Should they buy a new one or go back to Canada? He would need to have a car as his job involved a lot of travel. But my mother missed her family back in Canada, missed the wilderness and the wide-open spaces, and wanted to raise us in a country that allowed us to walk on the grass and run in the woods. Instead of Toronto, my parents went to the West Coast and bought a little duplex in Burnaby.

Tell us a bit about you and your background as an Author.

When I was 6 my parents bought some land in Surrey, where I attended the Surrey German Language School. As a 15-year old, the Pazifische Rundschau (German newspaper in BC) asked me to write the story what it was like to graduate from the “Sprachdiplom I” class. That was one of my first articles I ever published. I also wrote poetry and screenplays. Journalism is in my blood, although I never officially studied this. Instead, I started publishing a newsletter in 2007 called “German Voices Vancouver”, which became “Westcoast German News” in 2008. I have also written 4 short books that were self-published on Amazon. This recent book “75 German-Speaking Influential People in Western Canada” is a book that I am quite proud of and feel that it is something that answers many questions that people have. I was able to interview many of the people in this book personally and found out more than I had hoped to learn.

-How did you get the idea for the book?

At a business networking event organized by Dr. Klaus Schmidt, the Consul General for Germany in Vancouver, the Deputy Mayor of Vancouver asked my colleague Beatrice Schreiber – who is the President of the German Canadian Business Association – about the German Canadian Heritage Plaza and how many other German-connected places there are in Vancouver. I started writing an e-mail to answer this question and eventually it became this book.

-Why was it important for you to share those stories?

The German Community in BC had its heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Even in the 1980’s, the Vancouver Alpen Club had over a thousand members. But as people age and pass away, their memories, their experiences, their history often goes with them. It is my goal to record this for posterity and to let everyone know the contributions that so many Germans made to Canada.

-This project must have been a long time coming. How long have you been researching for it?

Ever since I started publishing my newsletter in 2007, I was always keeping an eye out for famous or influential German-speakers in Vancouver or beyond. I was on the Board of the Swiss Society publishing the Swiss Herald (newsletter) for 3 years. I was a member of the German Canadian Chamber of Commerce. I eventually joined the German Canadian Heritage Plaza Committee and the Eurofest BC Society. Now I am the Secretary of the German Canadian Business Association and an Associate Member of the Vancouver Alpen Club. All of these positions allowed me to get to know Austrians, Germans and Swiss people that contribute so much to their communities. I interviewed some of them for my newsletter. I interviewed some people on AhornTV, a German television station here in Vancouver. I started publishing the magazine “Das Schwarze Brett”, where I interviewed people and wrote about places and things. It still took me 9 months to publish the book, but it was a culmination of over ten years of research.

-Why „75“?

When I first wrote the book, it had only 40 people, but gradually I heard about more and more while I was researching for this book, and so the number grew to 75. Influential is a subjective word and so I have to emphasize that anyone in this book was seen as influential by me. When I first started writing this book, everyone got 1/3 of a page, but eventually I realized that it is better to give everyone at least one page. Some people have 2 or even 3 pages now. This book has given people a voice, especially those who were around before the age of the Internet.

-How do you explain the attraction of Canada on Germans?

My father and many others grew up reading Karl May books. He actually wanted to immigrate to the United State originally, but it was too hard to get in. Canada was a lot more welcoming and, in retrospect, my father now appreciates living here in Vancouver. Germans often love the freedom of the society, the wide-open spaces, the oceans, lakes, rivers close to mountains or meadows and the welcoming, friendly people. We once had visitors from Germany who wanted to see “nothing”. We were wondering what they meant. Then they rented a car and just kept driving North until they saw no signs of civilization. To them, this was “nothing”. There were mountains, trees, lakes and wild animals, but not much else. They just loved that.

-Germans seem to be more interested in the West Coast than in the East Coast, why do you think that is?

There are more Germans living in the East Coast, but the West Coast has more work & travel visa visitors or temporary workers or just plain visitors. That is because of the climate and the ability to swim in the ocean, ski on a mountain and hike in the hills all on the same day. The German Chamber of Commerce closed their Vancouver offices years ago, and the Goethe Institute closed their offices here years ago and ever since then I have been working hard to prove that there are Germans in Western Canada as well. Hence the “Westcoast German News Blog” and the book I wrote about influential Germans in Western Canada.

-Do you have other projects you are working on at the moment and can you talk about them?

Yes, I am working on Part II of this book, as I heard about many other people that I weren’t included in the first book for some reason. I also still want to write about the Swiss Consulate and the German Consulate, the history of the 4 German Schools, the German Language Meetup Group and many other stories. I wrote a feature length screenplay that I am now editing, which stars a young German character raised by a single mother whose life is changed when he starts searching for his biological father. I am also working on a fiction novel, although that might take a while as there are so many priorities taking up my time.

-What would you recommend to Germans or German speaking people who would like to resettle to Canada?

Canada is a wonderful country and I urge you to enjoy all it has to offer. But at the same time, keep the German clubs, associations and society’s in mind. Some of them could really do with an infusion of energy from young people who would bring new ideas and fresh insights to the table that might help them grow in such a way to attract others. The world has changed and we need to change with it. Younger people could help by finding a mentor and learning from them. Older people could work to pass the torch on to the younger generation. If someone has ideas an how to start a German Cultural Centre here in Vancouver, this would be a good place to start. The most important tip of all – is buy my book and learn about “Who’s Who Past & Present”!

Thank you very much Elke Porter!!

©elke porter

*Her book can be found here. And Mrs Porter’s blog can be found here.

„Acoustic with attitude“

©Andrew Kruse Photography Vancouver

Tara C. Taylor came to Berlin in pursuit of her musical career.
She considers Berlin to be one of the only cities where artists have a great variety of venues to perform at and also to be who they want to be, as the German capital has audiences for all kinds of personalities.
Influenced partly by the punk scene, Tara describes herself as „acoustic with attitude“. She plays various instruments, writes catchy songs and is definitely one artist to watch as well as a very interesting human being in general.

Even though the Corona-Crises has hurt the cultural scene badly, it is here to stay and Tara C. Taylor will be a part of it. That is to our greatest pleasure.
So stay tuned!

-Your husband and yourself took a sabbatical to come to Berlin to focus on your music. How has the pandemic changed your plans? Will you still continue on the same path?

In regards to continuing on the same path, I would say that right now I am seeing this time as an opportunity to re-define myself as an an artist and to branch out beyond my “Acoustic with Attitude” sound to an “Electronic with Attitude” sound. I am not completely abandoning the acoustic music I have created but, I am currently expanding my material to reach more audiences through the streaming platforms. My goal is to have as many songs as I can be added to playlists on all the streaming platforms.

During the pandemic period Don (my husband) and I have been mastering the art of producing music videos at home. An example was the song I did for the Canada Day celebrations. I have been collaborating with my dear friend and musical colleague in Vancouver Canada refining the process of recording songs and videos at a distance. We are really getting good at it! In general Don and I work well together and even in quarantine/lockdown we are very productive.

The pandemic has changed a lot for me. Recently my husband and I were under quarantine for a week on orders of the Berlin Health Authority (Gesundheitsamt) because, we were at a concert at a small bar in Berlin and a friend who attended the show at the bar unknowingly had the Corona Virus (the person tested positive a week after this event). We had a Coronavirus test and our results were negative.

There was also a report in the Berlin Morgen Post in regards to 18 people testing positive after being at a music event at a bar so, this has given me a new perspective in regards to playing live. I really don’t see myself playing live at a small venue/bar because, the risk is too great for the virus to spread. The realization that this virus is a sneaky bastard and people who have contracted the virus don’t even know it because, they don’t feel symptoms and that is a really scary thought. I want to be safe and keep my friends safe at the same time so, unfortunately I do not see myself performing live unless it is out of doors and I have complete control over all my equipment including a personal microphone and stand.

-Your love story with Berlin started in 2007. And now you have been living there for 2 years. What do you still appreciate from it and are there any downsides?


Berlin has always had a special place in my heart. When I was in Theatre School at the University of Manitoba I took a “History of Theatre” class and in that class I was taught about the all of artistic (art, dance, music, theatre & design) philosophies and movements from out of Berlin in the past 100 years. All of this information literally blew my mind and I knew one day I would make a pilgrimage to this city.

I feel that I have been extremely fortunate to be granted the chance to live here and to absorb the creative energy of the city. So many musical/recording artists like Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & U2 created some of their best works in Berlin. Berlin’s creative energy is something I will never take for granted.

The only downside is being musician/freelance artist has been a little difficult because I am not a citizen of the EU. Starting completely from scratch has proved to be a bit of a challenge. I must admit the most difficult part to navigate is the process to get into the German public health insurance system. Because I (and my husband) are “freelancers” and not employed by a company in Germany getting into the public system is not an easy task. Also, when it comes to dealing with German bureaucracy Don sees it as a strange sport and challenge to manage all the paperwork.

-You started singing at a very young age, is your family musical?


My family are music lovers more than anything. They have always supported my artistic endeavours whether it be music or theatre/film. My mother learned to play the piano at a young age but it wasn’t a pursuit of hers. She really enjoyed playing the piano at home as a hobby. My father was more interested in martial arts (specifically Karate) but he loved to listen to a wide variety of genres of music. When I was a kid my father would listen to anything from classical, singer/songwriter, Irish folk, country, disco, rock, electronic, Kraut Rock, pop and new wave. My younger sister Lori loved dance and she took jazz dancing for a few years and my younger brother Alan was more into martial arts (karate) like my father.

-What is your favourite place in Canada and why?


All of my friends in Vancouver are going to kill me for saying this but, my favourite city in Canada is Montreal. It is a city that doesn’t have to say it’s cool because it is cool. I love the “Montreal Joie de Vivre”, the European look and feel of the city with its mix of old and modern architecture and the transit system rocks. Like Berlin you really don’t need a car if you live in Montreal which is something I really value (for personal and environmental reasons).

-Who is your favourite Canadian and German artist and why?


My favourite German artist/act hands down is Kraftwerk (Rammstein is a close second). My father loved listening to Kraftwerk so, I basically grew up listening to them. Without Kraftwerk artists/bands that have influenced me like Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, OMD and New Order would not have come into existence. I am so happy I had the chance to see Kraftwerk 3D at Lollapalooza Berlin in 2018 and the show was amazing!

Choosing a single favourite Canadian artist for me is a difficult decision to make. I have admired Canadian artists/bands/projects like Buffy Sainte-Marie, Metric, Delerium and the Tragically Hip because, they all share the following common traits which include sounding powerful, being unique, breaking conventional rules of “Pop” and their songs draw strong emotions from me.

-Which artist would you like the most to perform with (alive or not) and why?


This is a really tough question but, if I had to choose only one artist it would be David Bowie. I have always seen Bowie as a fearless artist, someone who didn’t give a damn and also a creative mentor. Also, he was the first concert I went to and when I saw the crowd respond to him I said to myself: “That’s what I want to do!”.

Runners up include: Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode & Recoil), Johnny Marr (The Smiths & Electronic) and Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order).

-In which venue have you always been dreaming of playing at?


There are so many venues in so many cities I would love to play a concert in but if I became really really popular and could choose anyplace to play I would choose two venues: the Greek Theatre in Berkley California and Waldbühne in Berlin.

-You played for the Canada Day virtual celebrations 2020 organized by the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, how was your experience?


Watching the online Canada Day celebration was exciting because, this is the first time I have played for a Canada Day event. Also, Canadian Comedian Ben Maclean was a great host!

Altogether being a part of it was a wonderful experience for us! Because Don and myself had already been filming videos for online/Youtube shows (ie. Matthew Presidente’s World is Watching You” Youtube house concert show) so, getting our 60 square meter apartment ready for a video shoot was easy. Editing was not a problem and I was glad Matthew Presidente in Vancouver had time to shoot some backing piano and vocals that we could edit together for the song.

-What do you miss the most from Canada apart from your friends and family and do you plan to go back someday?


I miss Bick’s Pickles, Old Dutch Salt n’ Vinegar Chips, Hawkin’s Cheezies, Mae Wes cakes, strangers on the street smiling at you (surprisingly it happens in Toronto too) and the way we are able to agree to disagree when a political discussion has concluded (and then have the option to cheers a drink if the political discussion has taken place at a bar or gathering). We Canadians have a special spark to us that you can’t find in another country.

Do we plan to go back? I think at some point we will move back to Canada. Don’s sons (from a previous marriage) are going to want to have kids of their own and I think Don will want to be closer to them. My parents are getting up there in age and I will want to be closer to them as well.

-What is your greatest career goal?


When I was younger my goal was “World Domination Madonna style” but, Lady Gaga came along and took that position……just kidding. I have always wanted to connect with people through my music, develop a cult following and play cool and intimate venues. In the end I just want to tour, play shows, see interesting places around the globe, meet interesting people and get paid to do it. 🙂

**For more information on Tara visit her website and listen to other interviews here.

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