Introducing Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray: Eastern Comma Artists-in-Residence

We are pleased to introduce Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray as the first of two 2020 Eastern Comma Artists-in-Residence. For the month of October, Rosina and Nicholas will be living in North House, a solar-powered home situated in the rare reserve. Each year, this residency is offered in partnership with Musagetes to welcome artists and writers to immerse themselves in the natural landscape. The month will provide space in this living laboratory for Rosina and Nicholas to explore their practice.

For over two decades, Polaris Prize longlisted Toronto’s downtempo soul saviours electronic duo LAL, comprised of Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray have built a catalogue of silvery, internationally-influenced electronica that insists that the dance floor remain a place of resistance. In the process, they have become the backbone of Toronto’s sprawling DIY scene, nurturing and propping up a multi-generational group of artists.

Read on to learn about Rosina and Nicholas’ plans for the month, how the pandemic has affected their work, and their experience at rare so far:

Q: What do you have planned to work on over the next month while living at rare?

We are putting out a new album on November 6, called METEORS COULD COME DOWN. It was written after our tour got cancelled mid-way when COVID-19 hit Seattle. We were on the west coast and were performing in small, more independent arts and community spaces. After we were forced to return [to Canada] due to the pandemic, everything in Toronto was on lockdown, so we stayed home and wrote an album about how we were feeling and the mood that had hit the world. 

Over the next month, we will be rehearsing this album in preparation for the launch and also the short film we did with Guelph/Montreal film maker, Jose Garcia — a short experimental and meditative film that goes with the album that we hope to launch with Musagetes. The album is a reflection of the world we were building pre-COVID, as Queer and /or Black and Brown identified artists and our friends. Now that world really needs to be the one we focus on — the small, the local, community minded and based.

We also are working on a Canada Council for the Arts granted project for our Dance Music side Murr featuring Rosina. We are preparing for one day when we can dance again in public and are eager to create new material.

Q: How do you connect to the environment through your art? Do you ever experiment within an art-science interface space?

Our work is very much connected and inspired any nature and our environment. Many of our songs use nature as metaphor to reflect on our lives and the communities we are building. Our home is also a DIY arts and community space that we’ve been running for over 12 years and it’s definitely impacted how we work and what issues we address in our music.  We make a point of playing outside in nature when we can and love mixing tech into things we do, though we work within a more DIY vibe.  This is our first time working in an art-science interface space and it’s magical. We have worked within disability culture with art and tech, trying to make things more accessible. Our hope is to continue this sort of work since our music bridges art and tech through the creation of electronic music.

We are also very aware we are on Indigenous territory and do our best to honour this history.  We big up Six Nations, and are understand we are in the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Peoples. 

Q: What did you first notice about the ecosystems/land/species around North House when you arrived at rare?

We noticed the amazing wind and sunlight, then immediately went out for a walk to the river. We are trying to explore every day outside. The sky at night is so clear and the air so crisp. The landscape, the trees, the wildlife and the water is breathtaking and grounding. Something we really needed because Toronto can get very busy and stressful. 

We are very excited to welcome Rosina and Nicholas for their first official residency! Learn more about the duo and their music at lalforest.com.

Feature Photo by Tiana Smith

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