As we gear up for season ahead, Vancouver writer Alli Hayes brings us closer to the magic that is Public Disco. Each event is carefully curated and this year we are excited to have Char Loro, Larisa Sanders, and Ralph Escamillan, to help us co-curate the series. Alli dives in to how these creatives think and what sparked their interest in public space and the arts. Our second laneway curator introduction features local powerhouse singer and performer, Larisa Sanders.
Larisa is a long time musician and co-host of hip-hop freestyle night, The Stew Jams. She will be curating the Public Disco Laneway Cabaret events in July and August. What really surfaced during our conversation was her desire to cultivate long-lasting, positive experiences for people in Vancouver, inspiring individuals through art and music. Through her own musical experiences on and off the stage she recognized the need for music and art as a vehicle for community. The Stew Jams has quickly proven to be an important staple for music in Vancouver, where bands, singers, emcees, and rappers float their creativity in freestyle under one roof.
"It's a different sense of belonging, a different thing that they didn't even know existed. Having this access point where people can tap into all the different niches, all the different realities that exist beyond them, that they could actually exist in, and be fully expressed. Watching, and after coming here and realizing that I wanted to do that, and now seeing it and living it, that's definitely the best thing to watch”, says Sanders.
Hayes - Public Disco aims to be a safe and inclusive space. Patrons are encouraged to dress in fun, creative outfits that best represent their individual style - in other words, dress to express! If you could describe yourself as a disco outfit, what best describes your style?
Sanders - I think I’d be the head scarf in an Afro.
Hayes - Collaboration is key to exploring and expanding the arts community. It builds strong networks, inspires and strengthens artists, and provides further opportunity for artist development. What does collaboration in the arts community mean to you?
Sanders - For me it’s everything. Connecting with dope people by sharing our skills and expressions and creating something that is bigger than any one of us is for sure my favourite thing to do in this life. And thankfully the byproduct of that work is something that is needed and appreciated so it’s very gratifying and fulfilling. We are helping shape this city’s culture and the only way to do it right is to collaborate.
Hayes - Tell us about a time you discovered something new about yourself through music.
Sanders - When using music as an expression, I’ve had to uncover layers of myself in almost all of my experiences, so the self discovery is kind of constant. Being in that space with others brings in even more discoveries because so much comes up when you are sharing in that vulnerable creative space. So I guess the main discovery came when I was first starting out and I realized that I’m brave for being so wildly uncomfortable at times to continue learning about myself and connecting with others.
Hayes - Creativity takes an intense amount of passion, motivation, and inspiration to keep the ‘creative flow’ flowing. What keeps you creatively inspired in Vancouver?
Sanders - Having the most amazing friends who are dedicated to creating culture and art to move this city.
Hayes - Who is an artist that you have been impacted by in a positive way?
Sanders - Sorry to be cheesy but my dad. He’s still doing his thing at 68 and that’s really inspiring to me.
Hayes - And finally… can you give us any hints about what we can expect from your Laneway Series collab?!
Sanders - Same beautiful, inclusive, sparkly Public Disco plus some diverse performances from your local live music community! There will be a little mix of everything, so you’ll be sure to find something new!