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Rising Music Stars Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray of LAL: “We would love to connect and/or start a grassroots network of artists, activists, and friends, who are interested in pushing boundaries but also healing and justice”

We believe in the small. So we would love to connect and/or start a grassroots network of artists, activists, and friends, who are interested in pushing boundaries but also healing and justice. There are so many communities who already exist but it’s hard to find out about each other unless we know someone in a […]

We believe in the small. So we would love to connect and/or start a grassroots network of artists, activists, and friends, who are interested in pushing boundaries but also healing and justice. There are so many communities who already exist but it’s hard to find out about each other unless we know someone in a place or city. We have been guided by our spirits and the creator to these communities around the world, so it would be so amazing to somehow get the support to make this dream happen. We’ve always dreamt of an organic user-friendly and free database, that is protected, for people to use and connect. But because we do so much, we haven’t had the time to even organize our contacts! DIY / DIT (Do it Together) spaces are disappearing all around North America, and though new things pop up and always will, it’s alarming.


LAL is a Canadian electronic duo who also runs a DIY collective space in Toronto called Unit2. LAL Founding members Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray came from their local scenes of hip hop, punk, electronic and experimental music and blend all of those influences along with house and techno come together for their sound. LAL is heavily influenced by their collective experiences and the Toronto community they are a part of Queer, Trans, 2 Spirit, non-binary, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and their friends and allies. A large focus of the LAL experience is to create inclusivity for the audience and a safe place to be, create and support each other.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Well, we started in 1998 as two teen-agers who were very much involved with the local hip-hop and r&b scene. Then eventually we found the electronic music, international music scenes and all sorts of arts and activist scenes b/c Toronto was smaller and more affordable. Plus we are super curious beings. We have never been great at the ‘industry’ side but naturally, we feel good in an ecosystem. So I think b/c electronic music is relatively new to Canada, and we are weirdos of color, that didn’t fit the box that we were supposed to fit into, we just did our own thing. Plus we burnt out from all the admin, but Instead of getting super mad or frustrated, we channeled that energy into our music and community and started Unit 2. Unit 2 is a space we run with different community folks in Toronto out of our home. Now we do anything from hip-hop to techno shows, theatre, community activation and organizing, and supporting the next generation while paying homage to people before us. Our dream is to just play weirdo festivals and build with communities who care and want to make a change and understand how crucial it is to shift our consciousness away from capitalist/patriarchal and elitist frameworks.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?

There were so many! I think for both us, we remember playing in Mumbai in Dharavi, which is one of the biggest slums in Mumbai. We played to a bunch of kids with like one speaker with our bass player Ian de Souza and Cara Eastcott who organized this tour we were on. When people hear ‘slum’ they think extreme poverty and disorganization, but what we found was a thriving and organized community, that indeed struggled with day to day living, but in fact, we’re doing amazing things to survive. The kids were so happy and generous and danced the whole time!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We are always up to something. Right now we’re working on a new techno/house project, our side project called Murr featuring Rosina and hope to release an EP by April. We’re heading to Ibiza for a big electronic music conference in May and hope to be in Europe throughout the summer to connect into like-minded and hearted communities. Also, we have an amazing tour lined up in March, in the US hitting mostly DIY / indie spots with the release of our album off Cruisin’ Records out of Seattle. They are a punk label who are amazing folks! We also just got involved with the Shesaid.so an organization that supports women/differently gendered people in the music industry and this is exciting!

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Because we run a community space, we come across all sorts of folks. Our friends and collaborators are probably some of the most amazing and interesting folks we know! People like Mohawk Artist and community animator Ange Loft, Visual Artists and activist Syrus Marcus Ware. For someone more on the famous tip, when we opened for Tricky and also Mecca from Digable planets. Tricky was super chill and wanted to collaborate but his manager never got back to us! And Mecca called us at our home to let us know she loved our track ‘brown-eyed warrior’ and we were like wtf? wow…..Also meeting and opening for Roy Ayers and Terry Callier was such a dream, b/c both were so amazing as artists and people, kind and humble.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

We tend to be inspired by the underdog. B. R. Ambedkar is someone who super inspires us. He was a Dalit Indian economist and social reformer. He campaigned against discrimination towards the untouchables. Nina Simone is another artist we absolutely love. And though her work is celebrated and held in high regard, she struggled with mental health and being shunned by the American music industry for her political and groundbreaking music and activism.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Of course!

Well, we share our profits, and our home. We hire people within our community and we house and support folks when they are going through a lot and need a space to be held. A lot of Black, Indigenous, People of color and friends have crashed by us for support and/or housing. Plus we have been doing a community dinner over the winter for Queer, Trans folks and friends who struggle with the long winters here in Toronto.

We also share our resources from grant info to mentoring the next generation on how to be mindful and compassionate, not to get too caught up in the bullshit and to build a new world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We believe in the small. So we would love to connect and/or start a grassroots network of artists, activists, and friends, who are interested in pushing boundaries but also healing and justice. There are so many communities who already exist but it’s hard to find out about each other unless we know someone in a place or city. We have been guided by our spirits and the creator to these communities around the world, so it would be so amazing to somehow get the support to make this dream happen. We’ve always dreamt of an organic user-friendly and free database, that is protected, for people to use and connect. But because we do so much, we haven’t had the time to even organize our contacts! DIY / DIT (Do it Together) spaces are disappearing all around North America, and though new things pop up and always will, it’s alarming.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

We would suggest:

  • build a team
  • sleep and exercise
  • don’t be a workaholic
  • eat well — if you can — grow a garden
  • be aware of the energies that aren’t yours that push you into doing things you aren’t comfortable doing
  • ask for help
  • don’t try to control everything

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

– Build a team

– Do a course in accounting

– learn how to strategize

– take breaks!

– If you work with your friends make sure to have clear contracts and boundaries

– understand everyone has a way to be in the world and allow for diversity

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

This was super hard! We are inspired by so many people. We got it down to 2 people: Alice Walker and Yoko Ono. Alice Walker because of her amazing spirit, work, and journey and to hear her tell her story and experiences, would be life-changing.

Yoko Ono, because she has always been this mysterious and incredible Woman, who did so much but for a long time. It took a long time for her the respect she deserved as an artist and innovator. Sitting with both of them would be so dope!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

www.lalforest.com

https://lalforest.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/lalforest/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClGlFQTmwfq9TdjVruJtmfg

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