A Note on 'Serendipity'
A Meditation by co-editors Andrew and Aya
“I am going into my 4th year”. Words that I, as a bright-eyed freshman, would not have been able to utter. Likewise, this upcoming year serves as the proverbial swan song for the Yoo-Kobayashi dynasty - an unlikely pairing that has achieved an astonishing amount considering the impromptu happenstance. If Ignition was transgressive, looking for an institution to be mad at, and finding the will to grapple with mortality and express ourselves in a (mostly) post-COVID world, ‘Serendipity’ is about healing. To be grateful for the happenstance that we, as students of UofT, have the outlet and opportunity to pour our hearts out over the music we hold dear. It is the appreciation of the friends and relationships that just so happened to come together to form something as beautiful as DEMO.
There is something serendipitous about finding music. The jubilant, bubbly feeling of, for once, not ignoring your friend’s recommendation and being pleasantly surprised or bopping your head to an album the internet’s busiest music nerd gave a 5 to. Discovering what you jive to and developing an individualized palette has become a cornerstone of the late-stage capitalist experience that we might as well not take for granted. It is always worthwhile to indulge in something new; be passionate about a genre, artist, or song to the extent others revile you - even if it’s Brockhampton. Learning to simply not care about (unasked for) opinions is the cheesy inspirational shit institutions encroach on you like the plague, but it got me through three years of insufferable political science discussion. Being unapologetically yourself (i.e., annoying) is just not a skill school can teach, it is tempered from years of being chronically online and receptive to every wrong opinion thrown at you.
My playlist going into the semester is reflective of a serendipitous attitude; an unintelligible jumble of songs synthesized from memorable concert performances, films, recommendations, and unadulterated hyperfixations (namely, shimmery indie-folk, post-hyperpop emo-rock, and Black Country, New Road). It’s jarring to go from Thugger’s “Harambe” to NewJeans’ “ETA” but who cares? Music listening doesn’t always have to make sense; it doesn’t have to surrender to "boom bap catboy sunday morning" or whatever categorical monstrosity Spotify deems to be a playlist. It’s okay to let the universe take the wheel and run with whatever it imparts. At a point in my life where I was going through the motions, becoming a DEMO co-editor lit a flame under my ass and urged me to reach for the fucking stars. It awoke an enigmatic passion I thought I had misplaced after years of writing academically rigorous shlock. I no longer desire to be esoteric and mysterious, brooding behind my laptop in class while onlooking peers look at my intentionally visible last.fm and think “What is wrong with this guy?” I wanted to be me for the sake of me and Aya took a chance on me.
Despite this, I am not sure I have found my 'Serendipity' in 2023 just yet. If anything, I have been actively avoiding confronting my emotions and being in a state vulnerable enough to be susceptible to unexpected moments of joy. During DEMO's first social at the AGO (a rousing success, thank you all very much), I found myself lost and disassociated. I couldn't grasp the profound affective reaction that 'Serendipity' entails; I saw artwork that struck me as interesting, but none that would pierce through my uncertain interior. Perhaps as the co-editor of Demo I should be more in-tune with the theme, but it's okay to be honest with yourself and what you are willing to feel. The beauty of 'Serendipity' is its capriciousness, the inability to tell when/if it will occur but I sincerely hope that, sometime in my final year, I can allow myself to appreciate 'Serendipity' once again.
In trying to avoid sounding like a rambling, nihilistic hippie (unlike the stoic he/they I usually am), I will cut to the chase. ‘Serendipity’ is more than encountering a song/artist/album you didn’t expect to find, it’s about discovering purpose and safety within a hostile world that rarely gives way. Within DEMO, I have found myself in a community with lifelong friends I wouldn’t trade for the world. It has imbued an irreplaceable individuality and appreciation for the craft I wouldn’t have adopted from academic essays. DEMO was my serendipity and I hope it can, in some way, be all of yours as well.
Thank you so much from the deepest crevices of my soul for bearing with us. Let’s make the 20th issue of DEMO magazine the best it can be.
Andrew Yoo (the nice co-editor)
Time is a tricky one. Seconds could feel like years, and years could feel like a simple blink of an eye. Most adults often look back to their university years with rose-tinted lenses, admiring a rather awkward, dissonant, and uncomfortable time of self-discovery and being so close, yet so far away from the gavel that decides the trajectory of their lifetime. When I found Demo, it was a rather unprompted, serendipitous event. I was in my second year, filled with anger and despair at the realization that I didn’t know myself at all. Coming from the rank-and-file of overachievers who attended prestigious private schools, the only form of identity I’ve ever had was that a) I was smart, b) I got good grades, and c) both qualities were enough to pilot me into success. So, when it suddenly hit me that I needed much more than what was hammered into me throughout my entire life, I was lost. I was decent at sports, but I wasn’t agile enough to be a star player; I could draw pretty well, but I wasn’t creative enough to join the art club; I can play a plethora of instruments, but I wasn’t talented enough to make music; I believed I was clever, but not clever enough for debates or any major-specific society. To put it simply, I was everything and nothing at the same time—and that’s a rather inconvenient place to be when you’re halfway through completing your degree.
'Serendipity’ is a word that means a lot to me due to how close it feels in describing the eureka moment I felt upon discovering an integral part of myself. Serendipity can be a little scary, but for the most part, it’s a feeling of reassurance—a cozy hug to welcome you back from your arduous journey into the trenches of uncertainty. Demo was a community where I rekindled my rather complicated relationship with music and writing, and it was a place where I honed my skills. Meeting Nick for the next generation of Demo and promptly having Andrew join me was serendipitous; chance and divine intervention. All of these people were strangers, and I didn’t know how I’d do in a team with such different people. This fear was amplified when I promoted Andrew into the co-editing team; I was under the impression that friends cannot work well in a leadership position. Now, here I am, co-editing for Demo with Andrew yet again as I say goodbye to a rather tumultuous, but extremely exhilarating and worthwhile chapter of my life.
The concept of 'serendipity' is also transient—one that changes with the ebbs and flows of life. Some things can be serendipitous to you then, and either become a part of your routine now or a dark part of your life that you wish to forget. Regrets can be serendipitous; the process of acceptance and closure. I've loved, loathed, lamented, and let go of many things this year—be it falling out with former friends, experiencing an achingly agonizing pang of grief, naturally growing apart from people I've held dear in the past, and of course, being confronted and more familiar with the reality of an impending entry into adulthood. Today's sorrows and woes are tomorrow's wisdom, and the cyclicality of hurt and tolerance is serendipitous in itself. Once I've begun to tell myself that everything will always pass, I found myself enjoying the lessons I've learned on the way, looking back at each struggle and strife with a small smile on my face as I look forward to who I will be in the near future.
Andrew has already mentioned it, but Demo is my Serendipity as well. I can’t imagine an alternate dimension where I haven’t worked with Andrew for two years straight, and the last few years of my university life will be painted in bright, vivid colors by everything we’ve done for Demo. Demo’s not just a magazine; Demo has been one of the best communities I’ve been in throughout my young adulthood. Demo has brought me serendipity every single day, whether it was finding my new favorite artist through an article I had to edit with Andrew, attending concerts of people I’ve never heard of, or actively communicating with a circle of creatives that continue to inspire me at both my best and my worst. In earnest, I hope Demo will become your serendipity too. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to stay in this magazine and work with so many people that I get to call my everlasting friends. We’ll continue to shoot for the stars and leave an unforgettable legacy for our 20th issue, just like how Demo has become an unforgettable part of my life.
Aya Kobayashi ( the "not as nice as Andrew but still nice, I suppose" co-editor)