Two weeks ago, on January 10th, the Fox Cabaret was transformed into an opportunistic runway. The large room felt cozy with people crowded around pilons and caution tape. WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING was set to start at 9pm and it was 9:30pm. The room was packed but there were still people lined down the block waiting to cram in. Theair was buzzing with energy and the organizers, an incredible collective of eight, were ecstatic.  

These eight, some of the brightest creatives in Vancouver, are: LillzKillz, Reece Voyer, Mescondi, Leflurk, Ripley Freedom, Jasmine Cambon, Emerencz, and Charlie. They are on a mission to create new art spaces in a city that is starving for culture and they, most definitely, achieved their goal. Together, they brought out the hippest youth imaginable along with a smattering of supportive and elegantly dressed parents. The show hadn’t even started and the room was already full of iconic outfits with surprising colour pairings and sky high creepers. LillzKillz’s Mom, possibly the coolest in town, was running the pop up shop along with Instagram and Facebook lives. The kilt wearing MC started hyping up the crowd and, all of a sudden, WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING was rolling.

Here are our thoughts on the five designers incredible lines.

Jared Kotyk:

This line came out feeling minimalist and punk. The graphics were satirical with an emphasis on American politics. The models looked tired and had scuffling feet – but it’s the aesthetic. Overall the clothes seemed easy to incorporate into any wardrobe and great for subtle statements. 

Not dead Yet:

The music was an electronic whine and the models came out with a quicker pace. The pieces were made from a hybrid of fabrics giving the line a futuristic utility feel. 

The clothes featured ironic prints with the words “fuck no,” “bottom,” and “top.” The unisex and vaguely Japanese feel of the line played on gender roles and used a lot of hanging elements. These pieces, while classic shades, have unique fits making them perfect for people who like to experiment with their style. 

King of Hearts:

This line took a colourful turn from the previous lines, bringing some serious patterns and 90s vibes. The prints were bold and and should have feel overpowering. Yet, the elegant fit made the clothes look incredibly stylish. It almost feelt like a 90s runway was photoshopped with internet memes. 


Ripley Freedom:

14 year old Isla started the line in a bright blue tee with a creepy caricature of a clown. Eerily childish drawings on pastel colours covered the models as they walked to upbeat music whispering “sex and photos.” One of the most iconic looks was a pant suit covered in intimate photos of people with clowns drawn on their faces. 



At long last the most anticipated finale by Lillz Killz. This line, first showcased at Vancouver fashion week, went on to Tokyo fashion week and Berlin in 2017. 

The room was bathed in electric yellow lights and the tunes turned to a wild hiphop metal. The clothes were no less eclectic – comprised of an ingenious mix of mesh, chain, pvc, velcro, and canvas. Checkered fabrics and blue snakeskin seemed to be a theme along with colourful graphics, red, yellow, and neon green. None of it looks like it should work but it does and it’s a goddamn look. All in all, an excellent showstopper. 

Needless to say, the show was a resounding success. The Fox Cabaret was at its full capacity and people were eager for more – they were not disappointed. After the show was a line up of musicians. Unfortunately Grounders was unable to stay for the full show but we suspect it was equally fantastic. Definitely keep your eyes out for future events by this crew. 

Here are the musicians also at the event:

Electric Sex Panther

Chillrose Place

Nomad Black

Avstin James

All runway photos are by Kirubel Asfaw and other photos featured are by Alison Boulier.  More pictures can be found here


Conversations: Leo Alexander Krukowski

Leo Alexander Krukowski, a softspoken 26 year old, is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. Leo’s projects probe at the meaning of what art is, how meaning changes over time, and the context of materials. As Leo explores new concepts he pursues new media creating a blend of techniques  throughout his work. 


Grounders sat down with Leo to discuss his latest series, Lionize, future projects, and his inspirations. Keep reading for the full interview. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself before we get into your work?

Right now, I’m sitting in a place called OFFSITE Concept Space where I will be having an exhibition from the sixth of January until the middle of February. The open invitation will be on my website and that is the most important thing to know about me, right here right now.

Will pieces be on sale as well?

They will.

All part of Lionize?

There will be one or two other things included but it will all about Lionize. Right now I am also speaking with a computer scientist named Xavier Snelgrove and we are working on making procedurally generated series of short videos based on my pieces – based on components that are extracted from my photos and analyzed by a computer.

[confirmed: Xavier has contributed a video experiment called Subjective Functions x Lionize]

[note: there is also an installation by Calder Ross, the curator and director of OFFSITE, which is based on Lionize]

What do you mean by procedurally?

It means algorithmically generated. So, we will feed images of Lionize through a program by Xavier called Subjective Functions which will learn, through viewing them them, a language.  Sometimes there are patterns of light and dark, sometimes there are dots of green, sometimes there is a fancy border… It will look at all these traits as components of the entity it is looking at, make a language based on them, and express sentences in that language. But, the way this program speaks is in images; so, it might create images and pieces in this series that don’t actually exist. For example, we may ask it to interpret the Mona Lisa in that language from my work.

Do you think it would be possible for any of these languages to be robust enough to create useful or relevant images?

I think technology is much more useful than art as a baseline. I don’t think it’s about usefulness necessarily, it’s about exploration in the same way these (Lionize) are an exploration of what a painting is, what an image is, what bronze is and what history and art are. Because these all contribute to the materiality of the project. The videos that Xavier is producing are treating data and information as a material.

So, coming back to Lionize, what is the process?

For those of you who are not sitting with us right now, this is one of the pieces from the series. It is the eighth piece and it is called Unseeing. This is what it sounds like [see below]. This is the remnant of the investment, which was used to produce the second piece in the series called Self Portrait. The process I am using is an adaptation of what is called the Lost Wax Process which is 4500 years old and allegedly invented by the Prince Sennacherib of Assyria.

The way you do that is you make a mold of an object, you pour wax into the mold, you remove that wax and cover it in ceramic, you melt the wax out through a hole, pour bronze into the hole, and then break the ceramic once it cools and hardens.

This is part of the mold that was facing the painting, so this is the texture of the second piece.

What is the wire for?

 a portion of the mold
a portion of the mold

When you pour in the bronze there is a thermal shock to the shell which can crack it or warp it. As the bronze cools it contracts which can warp its shape. This wire is to add strength against unexpected tensions.

Are you working with multiple people to produce this series?

Right now, I am working with a company called Artcast based in Georgetown. The owner is named Marcus Knoespel and he is doing a lot of the work directly with me. They are a really good company.

On your website you mentioned that most of your work is exploratory. What have you learned in your exploration through Lionize?

It’s hard to put into words. I’ve learned a lot about death, and the ends of things. About half of the paintings I used for this are destroyed in the process – and they are not my paintings with the exception of one of the recent ones. So, I am learning what it feels like to destroy something very personal to someone else to achieve some kind of ideal – which is something happens all the time to people who are hurt or abused or exploited.

I’ve learned a lot about appropriation. I was concerned about that at first. I am less concerned about it now. I’ve learned for me, the sensation of appropriation requires assuming the identity of someone else which I am not doing. I am very firmly seated as the person who is making these sculptures, not the person who painted them. I’ve learned a lot about durability as the absence of fragility rather than as something protecting fragility. It’s been a sad and painful process. Self Portrait is from a picture someone painted of me, and it is not one of the paintings that survived. So in making this I learned what it felt to tear apart a portrait of my own face, and then also have it gone in the final piece.

How did that make you feel?

Serious. When I do things like this it makes me want to earn the position of what I am doing.

When you mention durability and the feeling of destroying other people’s work. How do you feel about your work being destroyed?

Oh, it’s really hard to destroy this.

Do you mean physical or emotionally?

All of them. To be serious, it’s hard to destroy these because destruction is implicit in the process. When the vector you are on is degradation anyways they are really good at absorbing abuse.

Do you keep photos of the paintings before you use them?


Is your main format normally sculpture?

No, it’s kind of new to me. The last artwork I made – you know how I said that these I made of art and history? The last artwork using this metaphor was made partly of privacy. It was a book of pictures that I made over the course of two and a half years. It was my third or fourth attempt at making it. The thing I did before that was study the French painter Delacroix and make kind of mashed up copies of his pictures. Before that I mostly painted pretty birds and trees.

You mentioned, on your website, that you get more inspiration from Asian art over Western. What are the main differences between the two?

One of them is an element of service. I was sitting at this table yesterday with an artist who is a friend of mine named Ekow Stone. He draws a lot of imagery from his roots growing up in the West Coast looking at Haida and Coast Salish art and his heritage from Africa – to engage with the spiritual symbols of his ancestry. We were talking about that yesterday and there is a greater sense of seriousness as soon as you get out of the European tradition. It is about honouring things. I don’t really buy the whole European notion of art being about expressing yourself. I don’t feel creative when I make work. It doesn’t feel like something I made. It feels like it’s something that I found either inside myself or outside of myself – and I’m trying to honour that.

When people look at your work, what do you imagine is the ideal response from someone looking at your work?

A moment of honesty. I describe a lot of my work as being quiet.

Funny because the pieces in Lionize make sound.

I’m talking with a local musician, Just John, about organizing a series of musical soirées where drummers from various percussion traditions would perform on pieces from Lionize. This, which is now a secret between me and Grounders, might happen at some point in 2018.

What was the question? Oh the perfect circumstance.

A few years ago, I made a work of art that really humbled me and taught me about being honest and I haven’t really made anything for someone else since about a quarter of the way into that project. I know that what I am engaging with, with my work, is vital and true enough that if people who are in a position to engage with it, to meet it, they will. And I’m really only concerned with my relationship with it. Not that I don’t appreciate my audience. I have a lot of people who don’t notice my work. I’ve also had people who spend an afternoon staring at a piece, and people who laugh and cry. Those are all amazing responses including the people who didn’t notice them.


After Leo’s showcase at the offsite space he will have another show at The Peäch Gallery (722 College)

You can also stay up to date with Leo by following his Instagram





This event is an art show by Vancouver locals presented by the Past Five. All proceeds went to the BC Mental Health Foundation. 


We arrived at MIA at 11:00pm and were lead by a strip of yellow lights down some stairs to pay cover. After tossing our tens we worked through a small maze to the low ceilinged club. The event was winding down with around twenty people milling around. Artists had little nooks which they turned into immersive experiences of their art. 




The crowd was decked out in chains, baggy pants, and colourful sweaters. Many of the attendees were either artists or friends of the artists. Aided by some $5 drinks, the conversations about art flowed freely–the vibe was friendly and open. There were even rumours that Cole Spouse stopped in for a minute, which confirms that the show was definitely hip. Overall, we definitely recommend future events hosted by the Past Five.

Mescondi and Reece Voyer’s Photos


We highly recommend checking out the artists in the show, a couple of which are Grounders alum:

Lil’ DevDev

Katsutaka Inoue

Reece Voyer

David Leflurk – featured in Grounders Issue 3 read here

Mescondi – read his interview on the Grounders blog here

Noah Viloria

Amanda Glover


Hunter Reilley


Noah Viloria’s work


This event was attended by Olivia and Ash from the Grounders Team

  Event Poster
Event Poster

FORM // Preview

photographer: Sevan ichkhanian

event information

FORM is a design showcase for the second year fashion students at Ryerson University. The name has a double meaning to us, one one hand it represents fashion forms a vital aspect in creating our garments. While simultaneously meaning the forming of ourselves. As young designers and creatives we are in the constant search to find our aesthetics, styles, and most importantly ourselves. FORM is the representation of that crucial moment in any designers life when they come into their own and realize the kind of impact they can make.

          – Blake Harris, Organizer



Written by: Antonio Velarde

All photos by: Antonio Velarde

 Pascal & Nilly (Loot Bag)
Pascal & Nilly (Loot Bag)

Favela is a monthly event inspired by music deriving from the slums (referred to as ‘favelas’) of Brazil. It’s seen as the youth movement down there. Each event is hosted at a local favourite known as “Apt. 200”. The non-stop traffic at this venue fuels the movement in Toronto and it’s been getting a great response since they’ve started.

However, this isn’t new. A lot of reputable DJ’s have been entwining it within their sets for the last couple of years. Needless to say, a lot of the influence comes from afro funk, batida, and kuduro which is also prominent in the beautiful country of Angola. 

Let me introduce you to NOY and TEO NEO, two of the resident DJ’s for this ongoing event. Firstly, they’re both from Angola. Additionally, Nilton (NOY) has also resided in Brazil, illustrating the importance of this music to him.

As mentioned, TEO and NOY are resident and they tend to have a third DJ in rotation every time. At the latest installation, they featured SADA (newest member of New Wav Radio), who’s been making huge waves in the city recently.

The recipe to success? They mix favela- tropical afro sound- with new hip hop and trap music to easily integrate it into the Toronto scene. Nonetheless, this steamy genre is undoubtedly gaining worldwide popularity.

Here’s some shots I took at the latest event:

Missed out on the last one? Stay in the loop by following me on the ‘gram and I’ll see you at the next! 

 Click here to view my personal site!
Click here to view my personal site!


Written by: Antonio Velarde

Who doesn’t love good vibes???

Huge shout out to the teams at Loot Bag, New.Wav and Time+Again for hosting such a wonderful event, where I met some amazing individuals and had the opportunity to enjoy the night.

Five of ten designs were released at the “Hen-T” launch party which were all instantly iconic!! Click here to browse + purchase their collection!! (Join the mailing list for further updates)

As always, the New.Wav team had the function booming with only the spiciest tracks of them all.

Here’s the shots I captured:

 Click here to view my website! 
Click here to view my website! 

Manifesto 11 – A Recap

Written by: Antonio Velarde

Free concert? Favorite artists? Say no more. 

Long story short, I had such an amazing opportunity to be a part of this year’s Manifesto 11. Following the house party that took place at The Drake Hotel, I knew this weekend was definitely something to anticipate. 

Now unfortunately I missed Isaiah Rashad’s performance due to my late arrival. However not to worry- as I entered Echo Beach, the jazzy, groovy and euphoric opening melody sounded all too familiar… the rest is history. 

Highlights of the night: The Internet, Syd, Steve Lacy, DVSN, Roy Woods

Enough of my boring words. PEEP THE CONTENT BELOW!

                                                  Click here to view my personal site!
                                                 Click here to view my personal site!

Conversations: CXXLAID

Skynation is a Vancouver based digitally creative brand intersecting technology, entertainment, and design. CXXLAID is Skynation’s latest project. It is a hip-hop showcase that puts a spotlight on “Vancouver’s underground hip-hop scene.” CXXLAID is in its first season and about to do their third show this Saturday at the Rickshaw Theatre. The headliner is Quentin Miller, supposed ghost writer of Drake, and Skynation will be producing his first music video. 


Grounders sat down with the Kayode Fatoba and Victor Tochon, respectively Skynation’s co-founder and VP of Sound, to find out more about their project CXXLAID. 

Tell me about Skynation? How is it related to CXXLAID?

Kayode: I’m the co-founder of Skynation the other is Jerry Agudogo. He’s really the inspiration behind Skynation. He wanted to be a programmer and a lot of people were coming to him to hack into and jailbreak their Iphone 3. I told him he could make money off it and we should start a business. Then we came across the South African government who paid a lot of money for their government website. We decided to service individuals and Skynation started as a web development company to create affordable solutions for the African design community.

I love event planning and I see it as my mission to bring people together. So I said “dude we can bring technology and events together.” I’ll handle the design side and expose people to Skynation and you can handle the tech. We realized we were doing a lot for the event from ads to music for the ads and sourcing artists. We pivoted so much that we became a company that creates solutions intersecting technology and entertainment and design – like TED. We have a ton of creatives and projects in the pipeline. Our company has started to grow into this complex thing and we became responsible for a lot of projects. We produced SFU’s fashion show, African Business Forum at UBC, we pioneered the African Descent Festival and we have produced a couple of applications ourselves. CXXLAID is this concept that we are producing as our own project.

Victor what do you do for Skynation?

Victor: I am the Vice-President of Sound in production services. I manage artists and take care of music production. I produce anything to do with sound like music videos and events. In terms of CXXLAID I am managing relationships with all the artists performing. We have Quentin Miller coming and I am going to be managing him and the crew. We will be doing a couple of videos here in Vancouver.

Victor Tochon – VP of Sound

Do you hava timeline for those?

We can’t say more on that, there is a lot in the pipeline.

How do you balance CXXLAID being “underground Vancouver” while bringing artists from other places?

Kayode: Quentin Miller is relatively underground in that if we didn’t bring him out nobody would. The headliner from show two was from SFU and the artist we brought from Toronto for show two was not the headliner. Where else do you have that?

Vancouver is difficult because there aren’t many new places to perform. Are you going to try and change that?

Victor: Vancouver is different because it has a really strong folk scene. Which isn’t a bad thing we just have to compete with their infrastructure, also EDM. We need to find ways to highlight the underground hiphop scene in Vancouver.

Kayode: Historically it’s going to be written that CXXLAID started in Fortune Sound Club. Part of what we are doing is not trying to limit the showcase to that specific spot. If I’m trying to see an EDM show I can go to Caprice or Venue there are so many options. We want to build our brand then move around. But it depends on what we are trying to present. Hiphop is not just rap we are just using that to commercialize CXXLAID. Hiphop is more than that it’s music, fashion, dance, djs, graffiti, and more. We have live painting at all our shows and a dance battle in show two to show that we are not limiting ourselves.

Where do you want CXXLAID to be in a year?

Kayode: We have  three year plan.

Should I jump to the end of the three years?

Kayode: Haha nah I can’t say but we have a lot of plans. We are in a lot of talks with management and a lot of growth is being associated with our platform. After the third show we are going to have a merch section where you can buy posters of the artists and whatnot. Those proceeds will go straight to the artist. We are also developing partnerships with radio stations. Because it’s hard for them to curate music to a genre they don’t listen to.

So are you becoming a brand development agency + platform?

Kayode: Yeah because we are cross marketing all the artists for this huge stage where they are getting a quality production. We are trying to get partnerships with different blogs and magazines that would be able to have that exposure too. There are a lot of community stakeholders who want to purchase from our platform because we are curating locally but have an international feel that helps them step their game up.

What do you get out of that? How does Skynation benefit?

Kayode: Revenue from tickets. Our shows are not free and we pay all of our artists and production crew. With sponsors we also reinvest back into the platform and keep going.

So why “CXXLAID”?

Victor: Do you ever make yourself some Kool-aid? You know where on the blender it says one cup of water and the Kool-aid pack tells you to put in two spoons of sugars but you do three because you do what you want? I be jamming all night on that sugar high. Kool-aid is a culture thing.

Kayode: Adding to that. There is not a lot of black people in Vancouver

Victor: I was trying to hit that

I have no idea how that was going to happen but you did not.

Kayode: Vancouver is one of those cities which has practiced gentrification so well it is so normalized. Ecological gentrification is something that a lot of people speak about. But, rarely do they speak about the appropriation of culture from gentrification. Basically, the aspect of commercializing a culture is something that for me can be seen growing up with Kool-aid in Toronto. There was this stigma “oh you drink Lool-aid, you drink purple drank, you don’t drink normal juice.” I thought “that shit hurts.” As I grew up I realized that Kool-aid is actually a normal brand.

Victor: I mean every white kid drinks a Capri-Sun why don’t they get shit about it?

Kayode: See what I mean? We thought why don’t we pick something that symbolizes what we are trying to do without us explaining it. So [CXXLAID] captured the culture. What is actually interesting is that it is Canadian culture. As much as Africans listen to hip-hop they don’t drink Kool-aid. Us in Canada we are very diverse so how do you curate for a subculture who lowkey likes Kanye but your mom doesn’t know who he is? That frequency is who we are trying to target with CXXLAID.

So you are trying to target Canadians? Recently OVO, XO, and So-loki are making a name for Canada but people don’t understand that the reason that is possible is because of the Canadian environment.

Kayode: Yeah like Juni Kim is this rapper who is blowing up in Korea but we don’t know about that and he’s Canadian. It’s crazy because the question becomes how can you pick a name that isn’t generic but is encapsulating of individuals who consume what was black culture but has become a sub-culture. Because what is black what is white? We start to talk about colourism. So what I’m more focused on is something that is able to bring everyone together for the love of hiphop without it being trashy.

To avoid it being gentrifying?

Kayode: Exactly, so that is where we are coming from. A lot of artists are really pushing for it and there are return artists.

I know you have only had two shows but is the audience you want coming out?

Victor: That’s a good question. The audience we had come out for the first show has been hitting us up about this show so I would say they are committed. I spend a lot of time meeting the people coming to these shows and a lot of them are artists, photographers, musicians. I tell them to keep coming and sharing so we are hitting the people we want without caring about things like background and ethnicity.

How many shows do you think will happen this season?

Victor: Better to burn out then fade away. Every couple of months we have one so like three shows.

Kayode: Then we will have a wrap-up networking event. All the paintings from the shows and the photos from the shows we will put up on the wall. It might be at SFU Woodworks and it would be a 24hr showcase to see what Season 1 was.

How do people get involved?

Artists are hitting us up on Facebook. We are in the process of making a website which would have an application process. Right now our goal is to build concept pieces with potential partners.

Do you have anything you want to say?

Victor: Not really – you guys are waiting for me to say something – I got a business degree. I’ll start my album off like that.

What is your name going to be?

Victor: I’ll probably go with Foreign Sun but he doesn’t like that much. He like’s Fear of God more. I don’t think I’m into it anymore because I’m not as hard anymore.

Kayode Fatoba – CEO of Skynation

Your turn, Kayode, what’s your name?

Kayode: I’m just myself – Kayode Fatoba.

Victor: That’s the dopest thing you can be – you aren’t hiding behind anything.

So why do you have a stage name?

Victor: Yeah because I’m pretty weak. I’m strong enough to admit that.

Kayode: I was like that, I went through phases where I was picking artist names. What happened is I tried my first large scale event in Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the headliner was supposed to be K’naan and the project was $70,000 and my team raised $65,000. We were $5000 short. He pulled the plug so I had to go up on the stage and tell everyone. That was SFU’s first event, in 2010, and the articles were all full of who’s fault is it. I fell into depression and I went back home to Toronto. Everyone was stoked and like “you got a $70,000 scholarship and then you raised $65,000!” It was trippy. Back here everybody was saying I failed but at home everyone was excited about it.

Did you try again?

Kayode: I just started working on different events. SFU got talent, fashion week, a number of conferences. I got elected as the first VP of student life. Frosh, week of welcome, and then events in Skynation. Because of that mental need for me to overcome what was a “public failure.” Now I don’t see it as that because it was SFU’s first concert and I created the infrastructure for that on the mountain. I pushed myself to rewrite my name because I was scared that if I give my resume, they pop my name on google, and I won’t have a job. I redefined myself to have a lot more positive and then the community that came around me came around Kayode. So it makes sense to go by name.


We are excited. Hopefully we meet our targets for the next year and Show 3 is just the beginning.


Don’t miss CXXLAID’s third show happening April 29th in Vancouver, BC.