“Fraud” by Ryan Patey

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I’m a fraud, and I’m going to be caught.

For decades, this has been an underlying thought in my head. In fact, it’s been hanging around my brain for so long that one of the few constant themes in my dreams that I can remember is the inclusion of government agents or some other group of people working for an overarching organization that are set on capturing me. Typically, despite numerous evasive maneuvers on my part, each dream (more like a stress-inducing nightmare really) would end just before I was apprehended. Either that or I have the classroom dream, but instead of lacking clothes, I’m lacking knowledge and I’m finally going to get a bad grade.

Of course, now that I think about it, the last couple of decades (maybe even the last few since, let’s be honest, I am just about to start my fourth one) have really just been a much more varied and nuanced version of those dreams.

Except I’ve never been caught.

Well, not in the sense where I have to admit that I’m a fraud at least.

When the first notion that I had fooled some person or group of people into believing I was something I was not came into my head, I was probably in grade school. Chances are, it revolved around my intelligence since I didn’t really have much more going for me at that point. I guess you could count the dinosaur sweater I wore in my class photo one year as something, but that depends on your interest in dinosaurs. At the time, and I say this well before any T-Rex bit down on a goat and chased a Jeep, I was really, really into dinosaurs.

But that’s not relevant to this story, and it certainly wasn’t something I felt I was pretending to be. I was seriously into dinosaurs.

What I wasn’t seriously into was school. Sure, I studied, but I spent as little time as I could in the library and that wasn’t because I could access everything on the Internet. I don’t mean to shock any one, but there was a time during my academic career when the Internet wasn’t even a word. Of course, when it did become a thing, and words like “ICQ” came along with it, I spent even less time studying. Yet somehow I managed to get the grades, and there was no intervention to tell me that I had to change my ways. Okay, maybe there was the occasional request to go to bed by whichever parent found me up at 2 or 3AM watching South Park, Beavis and Butthead, or whatever random movie was on at that time, but that was about it. Needless to say, these late night habits led to falling asleep in class numerous times, but since my grades were fine and I didn’t cause any trouble, I got away with it.

Moving into high school, and even further into my university years, I swore that I would change my horrible studying habits if my marks ever suffered. Despite that promise to myself (and even some roommates and study/lab partners), I never did change the night before cramming sessions or the late night “what classes can I skip to finish this report in the morning?” situations. In hindsight, it’s possible that I just lowered my expectations in terms of what constituted a good grade, but what is most likely the case is the possibility that I didn’t feel I deserved to be doing good.

Now that I’m out of academia, it doesn’t feel as important to the sense of being a phony that I still have, but it was the foundation for sure. At the time, I never felt like I put in the effort needed to get the grades I did, and I even coined the term “geek luck” to describe those moments when I would receive a good mark, a test would be postponed, or some other event would happen to counter the fact that I simply wasn’t prepared at the time.

Solid theory or not, seemingly conning my way through academia wasn’t enough for me, and I eventually found myself donning the hat of a music promoter through a series of random events at my part-time job at an Internet cafe. Although the cafe only ran as a music venue for a brief period, I managed to persuade a large majority of the local music community, as well as plenty of touring musicians, into thinking I knew what I was doing. Whether it was an all-ages show, an outdoor festival, or a multi-province tour, the musicians kept showing-up to work with me even when I thought it was obvious that I was just stumbling.

At some point during all of that, I started to dabble in publishing as well. First, it was vegan cookbooks, and then a dining guide. From there, since no one seemed to see how out of my league I was, I decided to kick things up a notch and start a magazine. Years later, I took the plunge and quit my full-time job to focus fully on what is probably my greatest con of all, and that’s what I’m doing today.

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I’ve published twelve issues, successfully funded an anthology through Kickstarter, spoken at several veg festivals and conferences, and travelled throughout North America to promote the magazine. With readers around the world, some would consider T.O.F.U. Magazine to be a success, but I’m not one of them.

For me, that feeling, that gnawing suspicion that I was getting praise, attention, or recognition for something while believing that I didn’t deserve it continues to this day.

And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m still waiting to be caught.

As if to further solidify that statement, since I started working on this piece, my dreams have been filled with ill-prepared test days, presentations with no materials, and more. It’s not like my mind has to work much on creating these scenarios. They’ve been rehashed and replayed a thousand times, and I doubt they’ll stop at any point soon. They’re like a long-running play on Broadway, but I’m the only one with a ticket.

That being said, thanks to conversations with other business owners and folks who I’ve looked-up to for one reason or another, I’ve come to realize that everyone is stuck in their own play, and the only reviewer we believe is ourselves. No matter how much success we achieve, or how much praise we’re given, we always find a way to write it off and tell ourselves that we were just lucky or folks are being polite.

But what if they’re not? What if we really have accomplished great things? What if we have learned things that other people don’t know? Is it so wrong to think that maybe we’re capable of that?

Ryan Patey is the Editor of the long running, pay-what-you-want digital publication T.O.F.U. Magazine. 

“Grey Area” by Gesilayefa Azorbo

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Self portrait by the author

& then there was that time
I didn’t say no
but I didn’t say yes

& I felt like I had to
because I’d shown up late
& I felt bad

& he stopped each time I said stop
only to start again
taking it just a bit
further
each time

& I thought he was sweet
& maybe just pushy
& we were going to eventually, right

so why not now
why not the first date

even though
all I wanted that day
was to be held
& nothing more

but I didn’t want him to feel bad
cos I’d shown up late after all

& it didn’t occur to me then
that my body didn’t have to be
the apology

& thereafter
I taught myself that
Fuck & No
make a complete sentence.

 

Review: Dark Bird “Lay Low”

dark bird - lay low

Dreamy folk-pop

Apocalyptic imagery greets us at the entryway to an old gothic theatre. As we enter, a jaunty little head-nodding electronic drum loop kicks in over the PA speakers which are littered around the cozy familiarity of the venue. A voice both meticulous and consoling sings a comforting tune in phrases simple enough to appeal to each of us personally. His voice puts us so at ease, we’re quick to forget the burning wilderness and poisonous high altitude air we experienced only minutes ago. “I love you,” my companion turns and says to me, her voice in unlikely unison with the man in the speakers. We laugh, bemused, and link arms as we continue through the lobby. A greying bearded yet exuberantly youthful man smiles at us as we pass through the smoky haze. A slight recognition chills us, pin-prickling our skin as the singer repeats those most fabled of words. I love you.

She remembers the distance we used to feel even as we lay in bed next to one another: this I can tell from her expression. The athletic melody of the music has conjured the same memory within us both. My eyes sink to the floor. We move slowly, as if drifting through a trance, and I watch the carpet. Its psychedelic swirls reminds me of my first acid trip. The song in the air syncs up with my discomfort. A rhythmic shift urges me further inward and I recognize the man’s voice as my own. Rather, it is the disembodied voice in my head: the one the keeps me from leaving the house and seeing my friends. The one who eggs on my latent paranoia and turns simple pleasures – grass between my toes, watching fireflies, children’s laughter – into teachable moments. Like the vocalist, forever entrenched in seductive electronic beats, parlour bound acoustic guitars and whimsical effect pedals, I am self aware. I notice her warmth walking beside me even as I lose myself in the music, the atmosphere, the patterns, the memories. My darkness has always served my art even as it has crushed my self-esteem. My head starts nodding along to syncopating catchy yet soul-squeezing “Ohhhhhhhhhs” and I am slightly embarrassed when one song ends and another, down tempo excursion begins.  I can hardly make out the lyrics now, but I’m tethered to the music and determined to find out where it’s headed; where it ends.

Whether I am hearing strings or synthesizers seems insignificant as I look up from the ground. We’ve long since left the lobby and are nearing the end of a long hallway. A lonesome window awaits, and I notice the reddish sun dipping down beneath the peeling lead paint of the windowsill. She smiles at me broadly and I squeeze her warm but slightly clammy hand. As we walk past the window, past the sun as it lays down the sleep, I imagine touching down on a new planet. Leaving this all behind, this decimated blue and green orb, and planting our feet on newly hallowed ground. Would our troubles disappear? Fluorescent orange political beasts and famine and plastic oceans? Might she and I start anew somewhere hospitable, not unlike earth but unencumbered by eons of human interference? A fire burns  in the distance; I can smell it. It’s a welcome aroma inside this crowded yet chilly building. She and I ascend the stairwell, ancient red velvet carpet beneath our boots degrading with every step. What is it that I’m feeling? I can’t remember why we’re here. The song echoes my realization. A bulging, buzzing, bass-filled echo chamber. “Why are we here?” I feel my lips moving but I know she can’t hear me, surrounded as we suddenly are, by hundreds of other people. Thousands? I swear I can hear a theremin cry, just for a second. The voice inside my head persists, unfaltering, and I let go of her hand.

Out on the floor, surrounded by other concert-goers I move my body to the music. Like nobody’s watching, like nothing matters. My arms raise above my head. My hips sway then circle then jerk back and forth. This beat I cannot resist. The song changes and I barely notice. So what if we’re living at the end of a blip in cosmic history. I grab her hand and she joins me. Conjoining arms and swinging each other around the enormous dance floor. We both know that this is the end. Soon, the music will cease and everyone will gather themselves up. There will be a moment’s pause, during which we’ll feel the weight of everything. We look into one another’s eyes. Hers like suns in disguise. Is God here, in this enormous old theatre? Sibilance and echoes, repeated phrases and afterthoughts. The music stops. A pregnant pause. Then, the intoxicating roar of a thousand voices cheering. Voices toppling each other over like dominoes, every one unique. House lights down. Stage lights up. I take a deep breath, lay low, and enjoy the show.

Review: The Hologlyph (s/t)

Beautiful experimental bubblegum disco with an obsidian underbelly.

the hologlyphEiyn Sof is a mysterious and ever-morphing entity. She’s been putting out albums since at least 2010, but it takes substantial digging to locate all of them as they’ve been released by various labels (including Rick White’s Blue Fog, Utah’s ur audiovisual, and Ontario’s Arachnidiscs recordings) in every possible format. There is no central hub for all of Eiyn Sof’s offerings, which speaks both to the diversity of her discography and her tendency to create music on a far from linear plane. 2010’s Bloodstreams album has become the stuff of legend amongst her devoutly diverse fanbase, thanks to the urgent self-awareness of its lyrics, impeccable harmonies, and the juxtaposition between rootsy twang and beautifully perverse technological manipulation that clearly set the stage for her future offerings. 2015’s Chthonic Tongue was a gentle foray into autoharp-based songwriting that conjured a timelessly feminine mythological creature; it’s evil twin sister album is 2017’s a capella, beatbox-laden Heavy Hands in Liquid Light. Meadow Thrum stayed loyal to analogue and found instruments while manifesting a highly visual lyrical feast: a fertile sprawling druidist landscape entirely of her own creation. The thing is, all of this is merely scraping the surface of an iceberg artist. Eiyn Sof is Melissa Boraski, prolific and diverse in her creative outputs, and a veteran performer, collaborator and recording artist. The Hologlyph finds her reinventing herself yet again, humbly severing any connection to her past projects in favour of starting anew. There is something eminently relatable about her willingness to erase certain aspects of her past (entire albums have been removed from their original streaming platforms and many are out of print) whilst openly confronting others.

The Hologlyph is by turns sexy, irreverent, silly and revolutionary. Through all of its twists and surprises, the album proves itself as sincere as it is inventive. Eiyn Sof begins the album with a simply seductive drum beat and serpentine bass line. She sings and breathes percussively in a confident lower register over Casio strings and sets one touchstone down only to drift off into the cosmos on Spaceshipbandwagon, crooning the decidedly r&b number in a lilting soprano that might well be one of her trademarks. Instrumental Mean Muppet lives entirely up to its name: a darkly whimsical loopy dance interlude that excites before the contemplative broken tape machine whirl of Canticle for the Holy Spear. Her ethereal backing vocals counterbalance the campy 80’s TV theme plonk and funk of her keyboard riffs, uniting and elevating them in the seamlessly into the mix. Children of the 70’s and 80’s can safely cuddle up with the album and its dimpled Cabbage Patch doll tendencies. Welcome surprises abound, however, and they are mercifully well executed. Eiyn Sof’s saccharine vocal delivery meets its match on the blissfully anti-social odes Stepping Off, in which she squares off with a delightfully restrained male guest vocalist, and Goodbye. The latter bids adieu not only to unhealthy emotional and spiritual attachments but also to any likelihood of the album losing melodic steam in the home stretch. Crunchy distortion pops up ceremoniously on chorus vocals, and all over the album, occasionally pushing itself into glorious self-oscillation as evidenced on Canticle for the Holy Spear. Industrial drum and bass gives way to breathy percussion in the pizzicato space baroque of Escaping the Castle. By the time the album wraps itself up in languid cosmic imagery, it’s become clear that we’ve just witnessed a metamorphosis. From larva to chrysalis to obsidian winged creature, The Hologlyph births, comforts and teaches us the ways of a world we’ll never truly know. When transformation sounds and feels this satisfying, we can’t help but start the process all over again.

Comic excerpt: “Nurturing Instinct” by Scott Gray / Illustrated by Ryan Stanley

Parallel scenes run down the left and right panels of this short and brutal comic, which turns the serial killer status quo on its ear. For me, it immediately brought to mind the tale of the Demon Midwife who, along with her husband and a doctor colleague from her hospital, murdered at least 100 babies in Japan in the 1940’s. Her heinous actions might have spurred the Japanese government to legalize induced abortion for economic reasons. Her shrewdness (she turned her passion for expiring babies — which she claimed to have done altruistically during the WWII starvation crisis — into a business opportunity) and position as a trusted health care professional would feel right at home in the panels below…

WARNING: MORBIDLY GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS BELOW.

Enjoy?

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Visit Scott Gray’s work, and download full versions of his perversely socially conscious web comic “The Beard” : http://www.trinkettrance.ca/

And his music here:

Visit Ryan Stanley’s illustrative work here:

And his(our) music here:

An interview with Olde Nightrifter (Eiyn Sof / The Hologlyph

the hologlyph
Photo by Olde Nightrifter

Pinky: You’re such a prolific creator of music. What was the longest period you went without producing anything, in your opinion (as creativity is subjective and ever-morphing)? That is to say, have you always produced this much music and visual art?

Olde: Well funnily enough, I feel like I’ve currently been musically quite non-productive, but that’s because my time’s been consumed by a visual art project. So I don’t feel like I’m being idle at all.

I cannot stand to feel like I’m not DOING something creatively. Not sure if that compulsion’s healthy or not, but I’ve always been this way so I’m resigned to it, for better or worse.

I have been daydreaming about my next musical project though, and this stage of things reminds me that playing with ideas and allowing them to gestate, while quietly threading a motif together, is very productive, just not quantifiably so.

(Since you wrote this, I believe you have almost fully realized your upcoming musical project, The Hologlyph).


Art by Olde Nightrifter

Switching gears. What role does the dichotomy between depression and anxiety play in your life. Is it friend or foe? Do you ever feel like you’re completely on an even keel mentally, or emotionally? Like everything is actually just fine?

I don’t deal with either to an extreme degree, so at this point in my life I’d say that they’re friend in that they’re useful to me as creative motivators. With that said, I’ve got issues for sure, and the shit I am working through keeps me weighted, constantly having to be cautious with my footing, especially in how I relate to other people. I feel like I’m never NOT keeping myself in check and having to go pretty deep to do so, and to get back to an equilibrium.

Yeah. I know that feeling well. It’s always a shock when I realize I’ve let my guard down, which usually only happens in the safe space of recording or solitary writing.

I sort of always feel like a mess, but if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be compelled to engage with art, and then… I don’t know.

Photo by Olde Nightrifter

There’s so much dark disturbing shit in the world to offset the beauty and glory of love and art and nature. Do people need to address the dark parts of life to get to the really good stuff?

It’s really weird to me when folks throw a lot of energy into ‘positivity’… I mean I don’t think leaning too heavily into darkness for too long is wise either, but avoidance of it isn’t useful for much. It stalls progress for sure.

Eiyn Sof’s all-voice improvised 2017 album
Photo by Olde Nightrifter

Explain to me the logistics of recording music. Do you have to have an empty house to yourself, can everybody else be asleep, or can they all leave you alone in your space? Are your kids old enough to know to be quiet while you’re working on music, or do you just not bother until you’re alone? Is it ever a family affair?

I prefer to work alone, but just because I like to get lost in the work and not have to stop to talk to anyone. But I’m not very precious about external sounds as anyone whose listened to my albums closely would pick up on. So how it usually works around here is that I let everyone know when I’m recording, and they all stay out of the room if they can. But it’s never much of an issue either way.

The odd auxiliary sound is picked up but I have no problems with that, and actually would say that’s ideal; it offers a little texture, humanity, context to the material, right?

Of course! I’m all for leaving the squeak of a piano bench in the recording along with other weird bumps and distant voices.

Eiyn Sof’s 2017 album “Meadow Thrum”

Please tell me about the church that was a big part of your young life.

This is super loaded!

I know.

I grew up in a Christian home- evangelical protestant, non-denominational, very charismatic. Always poor. We lived communally for a few years within the church. I embraced Christianity fully in my teens and was practicing into my early 20’s; always actively involved in church life. I was a worship leader as a teenager, working in the soup kitchen, really invested in the tenants of new testament christianity.

When my belief system shifted in my early 20’s, I defected from the church, then shortly after from the religion itself. It wasn’t a slow, stupid, slipping away from god (‘backsliding’, as it’s called); it was an intentional movement away from a culture I no longer wanted to a part of. I redirected myself.

I’m still inclined to look at things from a spiritual perspective more often than not, which is probably because it was by far the dominant theme of my childhood.

I have some bizarre memories, and I know my childhood was unusual compared to, say, someone who was raised middle-class in the suburbs, never moving, same friends, same everything. But I truly wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I feel like I had a very niche life-education, which has unfolded as I age into familiarity with some nebulous concepts that I’m able to navigate somewhat fluidly thanks to it all.

Wow. You explained such a profound shift in your life very concisely. I can relate to the moving around a lot (easily a couple dozen times by the time I hit adulthood), and the conscious redirection away from the culture in which you were raised.

So, where where you born? Where were you raised? What is your most pleasant memory of your childhood?

Born in Barrie, Ontario. Moved almost every year until I was 14, including a few years in and out of the States (Indiana and Minnesota), as my folks were involved with an American ministry based in those places.

Settled when I was 14 in Brantford, Ontario, and spent my entire high school career at one school.

My family wasn’t without our fucked up-ness, but I always felt loved, and I guess that’s what presides over my childhood memories. Very thankful for that.

Wonderful. Not everyone has that. Definitely, I felt loved by one parent and I realize now how crucial an impact it has on one’s emotional security later in life. Obviously.

Art by Olde Nightrifter

Are you willing to share details surrounding the worst meal that has ever happened to you?

I made a terrible meal for my partner Roan’s mom once for her birthday. I was trying to be nice but it would have been much nicer if I’d just ordered a pizza or something. I made a godawful ‘Tibetan loaf’… I think there were walnuts and lentils involved. It was hard and it was tasteless. Not sure if that answers the question properly but there ya go!

Gross! But adorable that you tried to create something from scratch. I have a feeling we are both notorious perveyours of food experimentation. Sometimes the flavours and (leftover) ingredients I have assembled have been downright disgusting.

Photo by Olde Nightrifter

Do you agree that love takes work? Or does love simply HAPPEN to you, like a lightning strike from which you are forced to recuperate? Or none of the above?

Yeah. With Roan, (partner of 12 years), the attraction was very, very strong. Once our prospective life situations opened up and allowed us to be together, it was OUT OF THIS WORLD- meaning that it felt like a spiritual energy, something universal drawing us together. A deep connection. Rightness. The energy was palpable.

Clutching my heart as I read this.

But feelings aren’t static, and neither are humans, so that energy has shifted- we’re in a partnership. And yeah, it takes work. Always. If you’re not on the same page at the same time, you’ve got to make a decision to accept where they’re at, and accept where you’re at, and not be a dick about it, and not forsake kindness. We all fuck up from time to time and are less than we’re capable of, but that’s the realness of relationship. If it’s not kinda sloppy it’s probably not on a very interesting path.

Absolutely. If you don’t have doubts or conflicts in your life, I don’t imagine it would be easy to make exciting new discoveries about yourself — or continue to make art that beckons you back for another round.

Art by Olde Nightrifter

So… Why are we all here, together, now?

We all happened to have tumbled into terrestrial form from the cosmos at the same time. But I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be doing here. Trying not to overthink it!

For the best.

Who was your first (“romantic” non-family) kiss?

My brother’s friend, Ryan. He was older than me by a few years, a snowboarder, long-hair. Pastor’s kid. The best option for me in our small town at the time! Ha.

I went inside and threw up right afterwards.

Glorious!

Art by Olde Nightrifter

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