Lighting up the night

At We Are The Lightthe underrepresented become the presented, and the presenters.

Janette King will be performing at We Are The Light.

Tomorrow, Jan. 27, is the final day of Lux Magna, and the festival, she ain’t ending with a whimper.

Closing up the second year of the mid-winter festival is a music and poetry event at Casa called We Are The Light created and performed by womxn of colour.

After about ten failed opportunities, creator and curator Shades Lawrence and I were finally able to connect and talk about this night of music and poetry, underrepresented artistic communities and Lux Magna itself.

Dave Jaffer: For the uninitiated: who are you and what do you do?

Shades Lawrence: My artist name is Shades Lawrence. I am a hip hop artist, poet, DJ, producer, and event curator. I have been active in the Montreal scene for approximately four years. I tend to focus on projects that highlight traditionally underrepresented communities — womxn, non-binary, BIPOC [and] those with a history of mental health challenges).

DJ: Why do you do these things? Why did you gravitate towards them?

SL: I make music and organize events by, for, and with underrepresented communities because I believe if we make space for those on the edges of the mainstream, we get stronger as a culture and a society. Also, diverse identities represent me.

DJ: I first heard about Lux Magna via an artist who tweeted that it was a “soon-to-be-a-staple festival in Montreal that puts diversity and equality in it’s [sic] forefront while celebrating great art.” Do you share this opinion of Lux Magna?

SL: I believe that the team organizing Lux Magna has their hearts in the right place and strong values around representation. That being said, the team also has an eye for quality in the art and music they choose to highlight.

DJ: What, if anything, do you have to add about the arts- and music-related festival scene in town?

SL: The hip hop scene specifically, has been welcoming to me and my art. I am grateful for that.

DJ: You told me that We Are The Light is going to be one of the “go-to events” of Lux Magna. Why do you think this?

SL: We Are The Light features some of the strongest up-and-coming poetry and soul music artists in the city. I also believe that the fact that all the artists involved — Janette King, Shanice Nicole, Emma Maryam, Claudia Edwards, and myself — bring a unique approach to the stage considering our commonalities as womxn of colour.

DJ: You create and produce arts and music events featuring womxn, people of colour, non-binary people, and so on. What are the overarching characteristics of these events outside of the demographics? Put more plainly, what are the most marked differences between these events and maybe more mainstream ones?

SL: Compassion. Respect. A unique approach to artistic creations that is grounded and open-minded. Anytime I have performed or organized a show featuring womxn of colour there has been an acknowledgement and respect for the space. I also believe womxn of colour are so underrepresented in the scene and the music industry at large, that putting them at the forefront of We Are The Light makes a statement. ■

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. We Are The Light is at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent) on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. For tickets, go here.