Montreal is crowded with event promoters – a fact that can make weekend planning a chore. Recognizing this, McGill grad Jesse Walden co-founded LOOKOUT in 2004, a creative services company that strives to foster the crème de la crème of Montreal nightlife. They hold their own by hosting Montreal weeklies – including Tokyo Thursdays – as well as one-off special events, and have worked with DJs including Kid Cudi, Jokers of the Scene, and Peer Pressure.
LOOKOUT is not alone in its mission, but Walden aims to set his company above the sea of competitors. “For our club nights, we pride ourselves on working with the best DJs. And for our shows it’s always about the right act that’ll bring some element of surprise or impressiveness to the table,” Walden says. LOOKOUT has also made a conscious decision to react against the suffocation of the McGill bubble; it aims to appeal to a variety of audiences by offering distinct events. “We try not to be too in your face,” Walden says.
This weekend, LOOKOUT is putting on two shows for the no-bullshit music fiends of the Montreal hub, hosting “modern funk” royalty Dâm-Funk and the ever-evolving band YACHT.
L.A. native Dâm-Funk (né Damon Riddick) is stopping at Montreal on his current North American tour. Dâm, (pronounced Dame), who sports killer hair à la Super Fly, is a DJ/producer/musician signed to Stones Throw Records, and has worked as a session musician for Ice Cube and Mack 10. West Coasters may know him for one of the liveliest weekly L.A. parties, Funkmosphere. His 2009 debut album, Toeachizown, is a two-hour, five-volume tour de force of “modern funk”.
Dâm goes by the maxim “Funk is not a fad…. It’s a way of life” so it’s no doubt that for Dâm, funk is more than just music – it’s an ideology. “The funk way of life,” says Dâm, “is about staying true, staying classic, and staying dependable. Sometimes a pair of 501 jeans from Levi’s is really all you need.” Essentially, he’s not into the trend-of-the-moment music or the temporariness of emerging fad genres of music, both of which permeate our contemporary A.D.D. culture.
“Funk has a rich history, and I want to try to continue that,” Dâm says. Indeed he has – he is currently working on an album with legendary Steve Arrington from the seventies Ohio funk group Slave. “He was already aware of what I was doing, which is what made me really excited about working on the project. I wasn’t chasing him down. We both hooked up because the funk allowed it to happen. He’s a friend, like a big brother I never had. That’s what makes the project so special,” Dâm gushes about his dream-come-true collaboration.
Funk is not a fad, and neither is Dâm-Funk. He’s here to stay.
Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt’s inspiration for their latest album, See Mystery Lights, came from the paranormal phenomenon of the Marfa Lights in Texas. The bandmates are fascinated by the tendency of our generation to expect explanations: “When we couldn’t Google or Wikipedia the Marfa Lights and we couldn’t have a solid answer, that was really inspiring and strange for us. We take a lot of information for granted and its nice to be humbled by something frighteningly mysterious,” Evans says.
See Mystery Lights is a bouncy and feel-good album that delivers finger taps, foot jiggles, head nods, and suddenly whole body engagement. Engagement is indeed YACHT’S master plan. “There is a ritualistic aspect to indie culture. Everyone acts a certain way and people feel like they need to be an audience member as opposed to part of a secret society or whatever else. We do everything we can to break down those divisions between audience and performer because it’s really alienating and it’s hard to overcome,” she explains. YACHT throws itself wholeheartedly into this objective, incorporating tools like video, PowerPoint, and audience participation. Evans elaborates, “We do a lot of physical contact and try to get them out of their comfort zone and shake them up.” Their often surprising choices of venue complement this – YACHT is known to perform in unconventional spaces like underwater and in museums.
Their current North American tour, YACHT & The Straight Gaze, is once again going to break preconceptions. They’ve rearranged the form of YACHT by adding The Straight Gaze, which is made up of Rob “Bobby Birdman” Kieswetter, Jeffrey “Jerusalem” Brodsky, and D. Reuben Shynder of Rob Walmart, to their live performances. “Around every six months, we get a revelation that we have to make a dramatic change to YACHTmai in some way,” Bechtolt explains. By challenging the audience through content and surroundings of shows, YACHT creates “a special zone that is independent of what people’s expectations are.”
Dâm-Funk performs on March 5 at Club Lambi (4465 St. Laurent). YACHT performs on March 6 at Le Belmont (4483 St. Laurent). For more information, please visit lookoutpresents.com.