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That up there is one of my favourite early photos from Toronto based touring songwriter Kristin Sweetland’s self-portrait photography series, ‘Adventures in Sweetland.’ I first met Kristin as one of my husband’s dearest friends, many moons ago when we first started dating. I was immediately smitten with her mysterious and creative ways. She’s the kind of woman who emanates artistic sensuality and a dark fire, yet constant grace and sweet friendliness. An air of fantasy and intrigue embodies all that she does. You at once become entranced with her intoxicating, witchy ways, if you’re lucky enough to meet her.
My husband describes her as a surprisingly and uniquely brilliant musician and photographer; a friend he has loved and admired for 15 years. A mind that flirts the line between the innocent and the macabre.
For years I’ve been blown away by her vision and the flawless execution which she unfurls into her photography. This is completely her alone at work here, using a tripod or mirrors and other tricks she may or may not tell you about. She definitely doesn’t have someone following her around snapping the shots. Most of them feature herself as the subject of muse and at times, she opens up the lens to include those she travels with on tour as a musician.
This collection dates back as far as 1999. That’s nearly 16 years. I would say it’s about damn time she released a book of her work and had an exhibition of equally (to her) fanciful proportions. The book layout is designed by Toronto-based promoter and graphic designer Michael “A Man Called” Wrycraft, who has worked on album covers for Bruce Cockburn, The Trews and Sweetland`s most recent instrumental project: Captain Dirt & the Skirt, amongst literally hundreds of others.
The Adventures in Sweetland series began when Kristin was given an assignment in a photography course at the University of Victoria to document her emotions through a series of self-portraits. The class ended, but the series never stopped. Watch the video teaser for this project…
When Raven and ShoShona, of Digging Roots, approached me to work with them on a music video for their song, “I’ve Got It Bad” … I was both terrified and honoured. Yet, as it goes with many things in my life, I decided to abandon fear and dive in. It began with Shoshona and I writing the concept. ShoShona wanted to experiment with the idea of not taking themselves too seriously so I presented her with a series of tongue-in-cheek treatment ideas and we hashed out many different concepts and story-lines. As is often the case, our original concept was a much longer story. But, as also is often the the case, we didn’t have endless funds at our disposal so we reigned shots in to utilize who and what we had to work with. Which, from a professional prospective; was a stunning well of creative professionals of which to draw from anyways.
From there, Raven, Doug (the D.O.P, co-director, editor and my husband), Sarain Carson-Fox, Shona and I just went for it. We decided on a storyline of, learning to love yourself. How do you tell such a story without being cheesy? Comedic relief. Over five days, we shot tons of footage in Longboat Key, Florida. Even when Shona was stung by a stingray on the third day, she kept going!
This video is truly a labour of love. Our children, ranging in age from 2 to 18, all helped. My mom and Shona’s mom helped and together we were able to have fun, work hard and put together a really charming and FUNNY video. Our actress Sarain was a dream. Such a great sport with fantastic comic timing and to top it off … she’s gorgeous! Her character tells the story of how a woman who thinks she’s in love, finds what she was looking for in herself instead. In her darkest moment, she sees herself and saves herself from her own heartache. She is, in essence, her own prince charming.
To be honest, those five days of production helped me forget how much pain I was in from the Lyme Disease that was infecting and attacking my body. That’s when you know you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing.
Thanks to Digging Roots for having faith and thanks to Doug for spending so much time on this project.
Of course you’re in. What better way to start then, by sharing a brand new sound just curving its luscious hips around a release in the New Year of 2015? This is a well-crafted, live music video; the first take they filmed and the in the end…it became the chosen one. You are indeed in for a treat. That alone should make you press play, but I’m going to go ahead and prophesize that you just might FALL IN LOVE today during a climactic experience where music meets spirit…with the raw, gritty, sounds of DARKLARK.
I first met Mel Larkin on her farm in magical Prince Edward County. (We started an up close and personal piece showcasing her amazing home, farm, orchard and vintage finds. We’ll be getting back together some-time this fall to finish. If you love home tours and candid interviews with inspiring arts educators and music professionals, then Larkin’s home tour here on ROAR will be something to look forward to!)
This is a woman who isn’t afraid of that (dirty!) word feminism and her ideas on the term definitely include loving herself, being sexual, being smart and YES…appreciating men too. I’ve had the honour of hearing rough cuts of her baby, her main musical project, DARKLARK. They released a single for the project last year, ‘SISTERS.’ A 7″ vinyl single and a one-time printing, SISTERS was the response to a challenge given to Mel by Rich Terfry (aka Buck 65). He sent her this wikipedia link and asked her to write a song from the perspective of the long-passed Papin sisters. (Incestuous lovers and maids to aristocrats in France. The sisters lost it one day, after being worked 6.5 days a week for too long and violently murdered their masters. She takes the side of the sisters in the song) so yea – that’s just how gritty, dark and fabulous DARKLARK is, if you’re into that sort of throught provoking, musically gratifying and spell-binding thing. The single includes a quirky B Side called ‘The BREAKER’ that will never likely make it onto a proper record. They are in a very creative stage of this project right now with lot’s of writing, rehearsing and tweaking going on at the moment.
So when longtime collaborators Mel Larkin and D’Ari Lisle released a live video of their freshly mastered track, ‘GUTTER’…I was stoked. This video in all of its goddess-like, fierce, sincere, passion and emotion-filled excellence moved me to tears. Perhaps because Larkin and I have found a sisterhood in each-other, we share some similar pains from the past. Although that is the intangible thing about ‘GUTTER.’ Many people can relate to the kind of pain of being in a soul-sucking, damaging relationship without having to go into great detail.
The video was produced in Toronto by One Take Wonders and is as visually captivating as much as it is sonically mesmerizing. Enjoy!