As a celebration of our Hot Tramp Festival 2019 partnership, we put together a collaborative shoot with Hot Tramp and Citizen Vintage, styled and photographed by our Creative Director Malaika Astorga. The afternoon was a beautiful swirling haze of laughter, music and incredibly talented female artists loving and supporting each other. The artists photographed are Hanorah, Cyber, Maryze, Janette King and The Leanover.
We were also lucky enough to have Claire Loewen interview some of the Hot Tramp artists for us in a round table discussion, so you can get to know a bit about them before you see them at the festival this week. She spoke to L.A. FOSTER, Janette King and Sorry Girls.
Claire Loewen for Pink Things: What’s the first song you listened to when you woke up this morning?
L.A. FOSTER: Philip Glass, The Hours Suite Movement.
Dylan of Sorry Girls: The first song I listened to this morning was Two Tickets to Paradise by Eddie Money. That song gets me really pumped up.
Heather of Sorry Girls: I listened to Sally Oldfield’s Sun in my Eyes. I heard this live version of the Sally Oldfield song last night. The lyrics are so beautiful and it’s a really stripped down version of the song and she has a crazy voice, like an angel voice. It’s really good. So I just wanted to hear it this morning; until it’s done, until I can’t hear it ever again.
Janette King: The first thing I listened to was The Daily [podcast], just to catch myself up on all the horrible things happening. I like to do a lot of research in the morning, so I researched how many shootings have happened. It was kind of a morbid morning. I wanted to inform myself. Then I listened to Taylor Kelly’s new album Up Up and Away.
Pink Things: L.A. FOSTER, tell me about how you got involved with music.
L.A. FOSTER: I started as a DJ doing parties and residencies in Montreal, as well as hosting radio shows on CKUT and CJLO. I was born a singer and that manifested itself in singing in people's projects. After experiencing stage life and touring I caught the bug and started L.A. FOSTER out of a need to keep going.
Pink Things: Janette, do you find what’s happening in the world influences your creative process?
Janette King: Oh my gosh, yeah. Yesterday, I wrote two songs about if people were given the opportunity to be ok. If you want to see change or if you want to influence change, you can do it. But you have to sacrifice something, change your daily routine, or you have to actually go take action in the world. It does influence my music for sure.
Pink Things: Do incidents such as mass shootings make you want to make your art more activism-driven?
Janette King: Yeah, totally. I just write about what I’m feeling all the time. So if I’m really energized, driven to action, that’s what I write about. I write about whatever’s on my brain.
Pink Things: How does songwriting work for you?
Dylan of Sorry Girls: It’s a little interesting because the most typical way is I’ll make an instrumental often fully, but I won’t have a song in mind at all. I’ll just make a fully produced instrumental and give it to Heather, who will write a song over it. But we’ve had instances where Heather has written a full song and I’ve produced around it. Both ways work. We just released two singles. One is called Waking Up — I made an instrumental and Heather wrote over it, but Easier is a song that Heather wrote.
Heather of Sorry Girls: It’s unusual. Most people write together, but we’ve mostly only done [this]. Next album, maybe, we’ll talk about writing together more.
Janette King: I collaborate a lot, I write alone a lot too. It’s kind of 50/50. Right now, someone will send me a beat and will be like, ‘Hey, write over this,’ and I’ll work on it. In the past, working with producer Jordan Esau, we’d meet up, have some beers, and I’d be like, ‘Oh, what about this piano line?’ and he’d be like, ‘I can play this over it,’ and we go from there. Lately, I’ve just been doing it the producer way.
Pink Things: The dreaded question: Describe your sound.
Heather of Sorry Girls: We never know how to do this. You always have to write this everywhere. Every time I write something different because we have no idea. The guitar, the synthesizer are the most obvious sounds? So I guess it’s synth-driven, pop-y rock.
Dylan of Sorry Girls: It’s funny. One time when we went on tour, we put a post that let our fans make a playlist… and it was really bad. So I guess we don’t like the same music that the people who like our music seem to like.
Janette King: It’s so hard to really pinpoint it, especially because what I produce is a little bit different from what other people produce. I would say it’s electronic RnB pop. It’s always changing.
L.A. Foster: My music is very emotive and rooted in me healing and getting over, sometimes traumatic, situations in my life. So there’s elements of sadness, but its paralleled with hope, faith, and joy — ie., the dance part. It’s the balancing act. I see myself doing more production with the beginning of writing for my new LP. I am entering a new chapter of my life where I am studying music and gender. I will have more time to dedicate to exploring, which is super exciting. I hope to play more bass and keys with the new music. I'm also really interested in starting new projects outside of L.A. FOSTER and focus on playing an instrument.
Pink Things: What kind of music do you like? Who are your influences?
L.A. Foster: Being in Mozart's Sister taught me how to use samplers and sequencers and how to navigate digital audio worksations, but I would have to say that Montreal's DIY attitude has definitely been one of the biggest influences. Montreal is all about working with what you have on a shoestring budget. It’s like, ‘Alright I got my voice and my computer. What can I do with this?’ Turns out ... a lot! Haha.
Heather of Sorry Girls: What’s funny is that who we’re always compared with are people I got into after I had made any songs that would be out. Tangible influences are really far back for me. Like, Backstreet Boys, just really super pop-y stuff. All eras of pop music, I love. Anything that was meant to reach the largest amount of people and be as simplistic and easily accessible to everyone — that sort of philosophy of making something powerful that you feel something about, but that you can confer to as many people as possible.
Dylan of Sorry Girls: I think artists that I like a lot I listen to so much that they probably do influence what I make. I really like Bruce Springsteen, I’ve listened to him very consistently over the years. And the most contemporary thing is Blood Orange… I really love them.
Janette King: I’d say my Influences are Solange and Erykah Badu. Sade is one of my influences because I had never seen a jazz band be so accessible before Sade. She just blended pop, RnB, and jazz so well that I felt so moved every time I saw her perform. As for Solange, I love how she incorporates electronic sounds into her music and how alternative it is. It’s not so straightforward.
[Growing up,] I was in multiple bands, I studied jazz, arranging, and composition in college. I think it all boils down to jazz for me. I wouldn’t say that I’m a jazz singer, but it’s definitely in there. There’s just this sadness about it. I just like sad stuff.
Pink Things: Are you excited to play at The Diving Bell?
Heather of Sorry Girls: We did our seven inch release there, and Crystal Slippers, the drag queen, performed with us because she’s in one of our videos.
Dylan of Sorry Girls: It also feels like they actually think about what they’re booking, because it feels like every time I’ve gone there, it’s been an interesting show.
Janette King: I love playing there. Every time I play there it’s always fun. I ended my North American tour there. I love everything about the venue. The sound is amazing; the people, they’re family. It’s really a community vibe there. You go there, and you feel warmth and you feel welcome. I’ve never been there and felt unsafe.
Pink Things: Why do you think it's an important festival?
L.A. Foster: It’s important to support female artists and female-run initiatives. We have a tendency to only support things we already know or have been backed by things we already know (which is usually male). Hot Tramp Fest gives a stage to artists who are underrepresented and creates a community by doing so. Supporting each other as female-identified artists in the music industry is a radical move — we are so often pinned against each other. I'm happy to be there repping for all of us and vice versa.
L.A. FOSTER is playing at Hot Tramp Fest on Friday, Aug. 30 with Backxwash, Maryze, and Night Lunch at the Diving Bell Social Club. Janette King is playing at the opening party for Hot Tramp Fest on Aug. 28 with Hua Lia at the Diving Bell. Sorry Girls are playing at Hot Tramp Fest on Sunday, Sept. 1. They’ll be playing with Bodywash, who are releasing their album that day.