From jazz to cosplay, young artists and students add their own sense of creativity to the Lower Mainland’s summer festivals.
Reinforcing the region’s cultural diversity, artists such as Jory Kinjo and Kaya Kurz will play at the Surrey Fusion Festival and the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival respectively, while a team of UBC Masters of Architecture students should surprise and delight with an interactive cultural activity they designed for the Powell Festival in August.
Soul, Ska, Reggae and Rhythm and Blues – over karate
Multi-genre musician Jory Kinjo will be bringing his unique sounds to the Surrey Fusion Festival in July.
Kinjo grew up jamming with his siblings – four brothers and one sister – and his father, but it was in junior high that he developed an interest in jazz. He then continued his education in university, but decided to pursue a judo career instead, training in Okinawa, Japan. Though he performed well nationally, a serious knee injury compelled him to return to music.
“When I got home from the hospital there was a message asking me to audition for a band called Mocking Shadows. I got the gig playing bass for this Calgary soul band and never looked back. That was in 1999. Since then I have toured all over the world, both as a solo artist and a part of various different bands. I’ve toured with BB King, Buddy Guy and Ziggy Marley to name a few,” says Kinjo.
In his personal life he lives a mixed cultural life. Kijo grew up playing hockey every winter and practising judo and karate with his brothers and father. His mother, who is primarily Icelandic, Irish and Scottish, taught them to love and appreciate all kinds of art and music. His father was born and raised in Shuri, Okinawa, Japan. His first language is the Ryukyu dialect called Hogen.
“We spoke mostly English at home, but some Japanese as well. We spent some of our summers visiting our grandparents there and I still go back every year to perform,” he says.
Kinjo is looking forward to performing for the Canada Day celebrations. He will perform original material and some Canadian covers.
“My music is a blend of many different cultures coming together, much like this amazing country we are so privileged to live in,” he says.
Jazz in Burnaby
Drawing influences from artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor and Rebecca Sugar, up and coming musician Kaya Kurz will be performing at the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival. The 19-year-old is currently a Capilano University jazz student working towards her music degree.
Kurz says she began playing music relatively late. When she was 15, she took a guitar class through her high school Alpha Secondary School in Burnaby, but she wasn’t sure if she should pursue music full time in post-secondary. With her mother’s encouragement, she still auditioned and was accepted into Capilano University’s jazz program. It was either music or psychology.
“My mom said, ‘Music might not always be there.’ I’m so glad that I [chose music]. I can’t imagine having gone into an academic program over jazz. It’s so good. It’s so right. It’s so what I want to do,” she says.
Kurz, whose mother is Japanese-Canadian and father German and Swedish, performed last fall at Hapa Palooza, a festival that explores and celebrates mixed heritage. When she performed there, she felt very welcomed since there are not a lot people with a similar background.
“I’ve played lots of other things where people have been great as well, but it was just like immediate community. I’d never walked into a room before and been in the majority, which was a totally mind-blowing experience because I didn’t realize that it was something I ever had,” says Kurz.
Cosplay sushi style
If you could dress up as a nigiri, what would you choose? That question became the basis of UBC’s Masters of Architecture students’ activity for the Powell Festival.
Arkgo Chen, Yilang Kang, Jivan Khera, Alex Laos and Divine Ndemeye, came up with the idea they call Macro Maki. They won the competition that the Powell Festival Society held this year.
None of these university students are Japanese, but they all have a love of sushi, which inspired their idea to have people dress up as maki or nigiri on a stage that is 14 feet by seven feet. Then a camera positioned above them will take their photo.
Chen thinks the jury were initially scared that people would be offended that people were doing cosplay in sushi costumes.
“But then they thought that a lot of Japanese culture does have this kind of humour. A lot of Japanese comedies have a funky, quirky set where they dress up as noodles as well as cosplay. It’s close to Japanese pop culture, particularly anime or comics,” says Chen, who is from Taiwan.
People will be dressing up as different kinds of nigiri, including salmon, tuna, octopus, unagi, tamago, and ebi, to name a few. They may need to add an avocado nigiri for the vegetarians. There is one maki – the love maki, which wraps two people together in one roll. Chen thinks it will be interesting to see the reaction to this type of roll as most Asians are reserved.
“I think that kind of reaction for the kids and for the photo itself is quite memorable because they don’t get to see parents doing that a lot. I’m looking forward to that social aspect to see how people react to it,” he says.
The students also hope to incorporate a tea ceremony and a Japanese calligraphy demonstration on stage during the festival as well.
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