Picture of Zoe

Letters from the Staff

Welcome to the Spring 2021 issue of demo magazine. The theme of this latest edition of demo is “Spirit,” and I cannot think of a more apt word to associate with this remarkable publication.

It is indeed a spirit of energy, curiosity and passion for the transformative power of music that demo captures so well.  Whether you are a long-time friend or a first-time reader, welcome.

During the dark and difficult days of the past year, as we have been separated from one another both by public decree and out of concern for each other’s safety, music has continued to unite our spirits, just as it always has.  But beyond that, music has become our coping mechanism, our emotional salve, and an ever-present reminder of happier days spent together.

Music inspires – there’s that word again - artistry and innovation in many forms.  If you need proof, you need look no further than this edition of demo.  It has been produced through the creative efforts of student journalists, photographers, artists, editors and others who have enriched this publication with their remarkable gifts.  I am deeply grateful to all of them.

By the time the next issue of demo is published, here’s hoping we will all be able to gather in person to celebrate its release.  In the meantime, I sincerely hope this Spring 2021 issue of demo lifts your spirit, for that is what music does better than anything else I can think of.

Kind regards,
John Monahan, Warden of Hart House

Is it cause for celebration that Toronto is in the Red Zone?  I never thought that would be good news, but in a year where we have all lived quite literally under lock and key- it feels like a small victory on the long road to global recovery.

Arts and culture have taken an unexpected turn, and artists of all genres have had to challenge themselves to be uber creative in terms of delivering content, maintaining connections, and still finding the motivation to create, bring joy and carry on with the mundane details of everyday life.  In fact, this has been the soundtrack for all of us over the last 12 months.  The halls have been relatively empty here at Hart House, and no live music has been performed here by students or Toronto artists since last March. And yet, this past year may have been the most tuned in we have all been to sounds of all types. How many nights did I spend watching and listening to old skool classics on YouTube — probably too many to admit but I’ve also been way more aware of nature’s sounds too.  The crunch of snow as I take a walk after a long sedentary day, the birds chirping beckoning with the promise of Spring, listening to the sound of open water from the banks of the Humber River, or the leaves rustling through my neighbourhood trees, being swirled away by gusty breezes.  Nature has been creating her own symphony and reminding us that she is creator, conductor, and arranger and we are all just voyeurs to her maddening yet glorious spectacle.

It is fitting then that this issue of demo takes us on a journey to explore the notion of SPIRIT.  What does it mean, how do we engage with it, and how does it manifest itself within the world of the arts? Flip these pages to unearth more stories, connections, and ruminations about spirit and its connection to music and the artists who make it.  I think we have all dug into our own ‘spirit’ and recognized spirit in places we never thought to look before.  We hear the resilience of spirit as we re-construct our world in new ways, as the one we left behind will not return in the same way as we knew it. In many ways, we have been as busy as ever, engaging with music and the arts in new and different ways – despite it all the Hart House Student Music Committee has continued hosting its Open Mic series, my fellow colleague Marco, has continued to build a tight-knit community of future creatives at Producers’ Circle.  Many words have been exchanged through our Hip Hop Podcast Take Overs and as you will see in this issue of demo, interviews have continued and music has been experienced by our crack team of contributors led by our amazing Co-Editors, Zain and Charlie.

On behalf of Marco and myself, we want to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you to Zain and Charlie for their expert stewardship of demo through this extraordinary year when nothing was as it seemed and uncertainty was the order of the day.  We also wish to recognize and applaud them for their work through the years on this publication and for shepherding it deftly into the hands of a new student crew as they move on and complete their degrees at U of T.  As has been the case for many previous Co-Editors, we hope that you both stay in touch, continue to contribute to the magazine and join an amazing list of demo alumni wreaking awesomeness all over the world!

Keep all the music flowing, stay aware of all the wonders of nature’s sounds, and feed your spirit with the rich content you will find in this nearly impossible edition of demo!

Zoe and Marco, Staff

Letters from the Masthead

This is the second issue of demo that we’ve had to release during COVID. Although I would love to celebrate with everyone in person, I am so grateful to the people who helped us maintain demo throughout this difficult year. Thank you Zain, Jen, Mena, Zoe, Marco, John, all of our writers, everyone at Hart House, and my parents and friends for always answering my FaceTime calls and being a sounding board.

We chose the theme ‘Spirit’ because this year has pulled the curtain back on so much –– both on a societal level, and an individual one. Spirit has many meanings: soul, ethos, morale, essence… and liquor. In the past twelve months, we have confronted our souls, our faiths, our morales, our essences, and maybe indulged in vices, whatever they are. 

Jen Wan explores what this year has done to religious choirs and clubs, and how they’ve maintained their faith and song this year. Meanwhile, Alex Pompilli explores the darker side of spirit in their analysis of the Satanic-inspiration of the 60s. I had the opportunity to talk with Kahnawake-based DJ Pøptrt and find out how DJs have been creating atmospheres online. And there’s so many other exciting articles which explore what spirit means in music.

I’ve been watching Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz’s Pretend It’s a City on Netflix recently, and Fran said something which really stood out to me: “I really think that musicians are responsible for the most pleasure in human life… Music makes people happier, and it doesn’t harm them. Most things that make you feel better are harmful. It’s very unusual.” Music has brought us hope and joy in an extremely difficult year. I am so thankful to be able to experience it, and to be a part of a magazine where I get to explore how and why music is able to do so much.

Charlie Jupp, Co-Editor-in-Chief


When my co-editor Charlie and I came up with the concept for this year’s issue of demo, we settled on the idea of spirit, since we felt it was uniquely poised to speak to the complex and varied nature of the past year. Indeed, over a year into the pandemic, our spirits have been drained through a series of lockdowns, replenished through our communities of support, and soothed — throughout it all — by some incredibly amazing music. 

From the euphoric pop of Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia to the gentle strums heard on Taylor Swift’s Folklore, 2020 gave us some of the best albums yet. This year’s issue of demo promises to delve into the music, exploring a wide range of topics that deal with the notion of spirit, from 60s psychedelic music to the spirit of the local Toronto community. 

I would like to first and foremost thank Charlie for once more being the best person to work with — we did it again! Jennifer, thank you so much for all the hard work you put in to get the website up — it truly is so beautiful. Thank you to Clairmont The Second for an incredible interview and for being incredibly generous with his time, as well. Lastly, I would like to thank Marco Adamovic and Zoe Dille for their constant support. 

Signing off as Editor-in-Chief is certainly a sad occasion, but I am incredibly excited to see what Eram and Marina do next year. I have no doubt that the magazine will be left in extremely capable hands. 

I hope you enjoy this year’s issue of demo. As a third lockdown looms on the horizon, I hope that these stories and pages can provide you with even the smallest sense of relief. Time and time again, the Toronto community has proven that it is incredibly resilient — if I know one thing about us, it’s that we’ve got spirit! 

S. Zain Ahmad, Co-Editor-in-Chief

This year has been a monotonous and challenging experience for many of us, having to stay at home and navigate online learning. Creating this year’s demo issue has been a breath of fresh air -- albeit a mildly stressful one -- that is something new and exciting breaking the repetitiveness of lockdown. Our theme this year, Spirit, explores so many unique and interesting aspects of music and of our own lives. 

It has been a pleasure to work with everyone at demo for the past four years, and I hope that those of you reading will enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed creating it. I want to especially thank our designers, illustrators, and web dev for making this year’s edition of demo especially unique and delightful. Have fun reading!

- Jennifer Wan, Design Editor

The past year has been cuckoo bananas in every way. I am thankful for the things that have kept me tethered— desperate snack runs with family, songs exchanged between friends, British panel shows, when my cat is asleep and he hears me approach and he starts purring without even opening his eyes, the rare and occasional spark of finally understanding readings. I am also thankful for that which has allowed me to float and dream and dance from the confines of my bedroom: music! I have travelled far and wide with these songs. Thank you to my friends Zain, Charlie, Dani, and Jen at demo for helping sculpt this tiny, beautiful space that I am blessed to know. Please enjoy our magazine and let the days be gentle and kind on you!

- Mena Fouda, Chief Online Editor