Bedroom Pop / future house / Hip Hop / House / Indie Folk / Indie Rock / Neo-soul / Soul Jazz / Tech-House / Techno

Pique Winter Edition: Ottawa Arts and Music Festival of Discovery

par Rédaction PAN M 360

Housed in a four, and sometimes five-story building (there is impossible space) in the heart of Ottawa’s Art’s Court, Pique is a multidisciplinary, quarterly arts and music festival that is unlike any other festival we have attended. It’s a bit chaotic with multiple shows happening at once throughout the night on different floors, but the night is intended to be a moment of pure discovery. Happy-go-lucky hip hop in one room, gorgeous indie bedroom pop with a political message in the next. An arts market that spans multiple rooms and floors? Forget about it. Pique is the kind of event you get when you have a collective of artists who aren’t afraid to dream big, each with their whacky idea that somehow all works. With programming from 5 p.m. to the early hours of the morning, we were busy at this year’s Pique, and are anxious for the next iteration. Below are a few performances that stuck out.

Nycky Ghost & J Chinnasz – Something Out of Nothing

The first set I caught at this quarter’s Pique fest was a hip-hop set from Ottawa-based J Chinnasz, supported by his producer Nycky Ghost. Lighthearted and showing off some serious confidence, Chinnasz strutted his stuff on stage as he walked us through his wordy, boisterous bars. He’s articulate, letting us catch every word of his happy-go-lucky lyricism that nestled so effortlessly amongst Ghost’s luscious, 90s hip-hop and R&B-inspired instrumentation. The highlight of the set was when Chinnasz brought up collaborator CHILD onstage for a few songs (including one on his own).

The two complement each other nicely. CHILD’s darker, more emotionally rooted rap style (think Earl Sweatshirt) perfectly counters the bouncier, more juvenile tone of Chinnasz, who fits in amongst the new wave of young rappers who aren’t afraid to get a little silly with it (think BBNO$). Together, along with some serious competence on display behind the booth at the hands of Nycky Ghost, these rappers brought a quiet room to life—starting chants, getting the people moving, and evidently, having a great time doing it. (Lyle Hendriks)

Naïka Champaïgne – Stripped down soul funk with a lotta heart

The funky and captivating jams of Naïka Champaïgne were the perfect dose of feel-good vibes for the gradual come-down at Pique on Saturday. With a voice that recalls the gravitas of greats like Nina Simone, and guitar chops that made me think of Nile Rodgers with a nylon string and a hint of Big Mama Thornton, Naïka Champaïgne had us all under her spell. The general message of peace, love, and being genuinely good to strangers was in the air and Naïka’s atmosphere was one full of gratitude. At times it felt like a show in a quiet coffee house, others an outdoor show off some tropical beach. She flexed her finger-picking guitar skills with prowess and at times, almost started rapping, dropping a few quick bars with some blue-eyed neo soul. It makes sense as she is one half of the hip hop/beat-making Montreal duo, Strange Froots. (Stephan Boissonneault)

Osita – Selfish Self-Expression 

Perhaps it was the psychedelic, glitchy visuals projected across fifty feet of wall. Maybe it was the energy of a room full of Ottawa partygoers happy to be inside on a cold winter’s eve. Maybe I was just looking for a DJ to really get me moving. Whatever the case, the unbridled passion of Osita and his eclectic mix of dance, house, hip-hop, and techno was an absolute highlight of my Saturday night at Pique. Osita describes himself as selfish when it comes to his work as a DJ, producer, and purveyor of taste. And while the word might conjure some negative associations, the reality is that Osita is all about self-expression and the music that makes him happy. If you’ve ever heard a DJ who was obviously pandering to the crowd, you understand how important a strong personal style is—and Osita delivered his in spades, grooving and moving to each track with a huge smile on his face. With hundreds of people to bounce off of, I felt Osita’s set like a warm come-up emanating through the room and coursing through my very being. His transitions were seamless, and his hard-hitting selection of tracks maintained a steady electric vibe sitting right around 128 BPM. (Lyle Hendriks)

poolblood – Barebones and Beautiful

Standing in stark contrast to the high-energy, lighthearted offerings of some of the evening’s other acts, poolblood brought a sombre energy to their Pique set that can only be described as devastatingly beautiful. Barebones and minimalistic, the trio created an impossibly rich array of sound out of so little. Group leader Maryam Said has an absolutely show-stopping voice and yet chooses only to lean on it in the most essential of moments. Breathy, intimate, and profoundly vulnerable, their lyrics soared beautifully across the little auditorium—tales of heartbreak, longing, and missing friends that haven’t been friends in a while.

The simple guitar was elevated by artfully placed piano lines, held down by a steady bass to provide a foundation for Said to build upon. With music as stunning and evocative as poolblood’s, it would be easy to let it carry us away in a bedroom-folk haze. But rather than granting us an escape, Said used their literal spotlight to call attention to a vital cause, performing in front of a massive projection depicting nothing but a cracked bit of pavement and the word “CEASEFIRE.”  Mark my words, poolblood will be going places, and I think that it won’t be long before small, intimate shows like this one are but a distant memory for the promising Toronto artist. (Lyle Hendriks)

RegularFantasy – Disco Vocal House for the Wee Hours

It’s difficult to fathom just how long RegularFantasy played for during Pique, but it was at least two hours, or maybe three. Either way, the room was electric and everyone in the crowd seemed to be on a healthy dose of something, perhaps the “?” edible bag going around, and filled to the brim with sweat and gleeful euphoria. With multiple sets of dreamy vocal house music and a few remixes of Britney Spears, RegularFantasy commanded the Club Saw stage. The crowd demanded more and RegularFantasy (real name Olivia) was happy to deliver, spinning some futuristic house under a heavy glow of vibey visuals and colour-coded lights. RegularFantasy looks like a pro on the stage, having a calm and cool demeanour through the whole set as if she’s been DJing since she could walk. (Stephan Boissonneault)

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