The story behind my first music video “Between the Earth and Sky”

On July 1st 2013, I released my very first music video for a song I wrote 2 years ago called “Between the Earth and Sky”. The song was written on my first trip visiting Toronto in 2011. I made the decision to go out east from a gut instinct. I was nearing the end of my 5 year university career and I really wanted to leave Vancouver and see if Toronto was the place for me. I had also heard about a hip hop festival called “Manifesto” where some of my favourite artists like Ian Kamau, Eternia, and Blu were supposed to perform at… It seemed like the perfect opportunity and so I sold my electric guitar and pulled my savings in to buy a plane ticket. I think now that me leaving the city had more to do about my own questions about myself than the festival.

I woke up the first morning I was there, found my friend’s nylon string guitar leaning against her bedroom wall, and I started plucking. The lyrics that came out reflected questions I had about my relationship with someone at the time … questions that had me wondering about where we were at, and whether or not our paths would cross again with every new decision we would make towards our individual freedoms. I wanted to be reassured in the unknown.

It’s funny how it’s been more than 2 years since I wrote this song and it really applies to where I’m at right now. Not only that, but it speaks to what the people in my life are going through now. Namely break-ups, breaks, or consequential shifts in intimate relationships … there is that overwhelming pile up of questions that fill you when you reach these crossroads. When we branch out into a new, different, separate path, there are no guarantees on this other side …and where that is, where you will end up… is the question of this song. And somehow taking rest and being reassured that everything is going to be alright is what I’m trying to sit with here.

How this song became THIS VIDEO is funny. I initially recorded the song on my mac’s Photobooth and released it on youtube on the same day. When I was back in Vancouver I was out with my friend Adam and he ended up playing this same song in his car. I was like, “what? you converted this into an MP3? Dope!” A few months later, I accidentally deleted my email account and lost all my youtube videos. Thankfully, my friend had saved the song!

The song lived on my ipod for a while since then until I decided I wanted to do something with it, release it to fresh ears. That eventually became a bigger project when I decided to experiment with pairing it with film. I added harmonies to it on Garageband and a few days later, my friend Joey Chaos filmed the majority of the scenes for it at Jericho beach. The sky scenes are me looking out an airplane’s window on my way to Winnipeg where a chunk of the video was also filmed this past May.

So that’s that, hella D.I.Y., no?  I’m happy with the final product cos it started from something that was just a personal little thing into a more public thing. I hope you will rest with me in believing that everything is going to be alright, whatever happens is for the best.



Check more of my creations out here:





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C&C and Some Smoking Kids


I was adventuring, (non-literally,) through the great interw3bz and stumbled, (also non-literally,) onto a great, wonderful, marvelous piece of work.

I love art, I make art (I think!) and I feel that more than half of the deal is appreciating the art of others. There is no creation without consumption. In fact, I try to loosely follow this law, that I’ve created for myself: THE LAW OF CONSUMPTION & CREATION. It sounds awesome, I get 10+ brownie points in the ‘intellectual!’ category, and best of all, I think it’s hugely, honestly, wonderfully true. Consume to create, create to give others something to consume, but never do more consuming than creating, and creating doesn’t work out at all without consuming.

So onto the inspirational, “Oh hey, look what I consumed!” bit:

I came across “Smoking Kids” by photographer Frieke Janssens and was completely blown away.

At first, I was hyper enthusiastic about the imagery. All of the kids were brilliantly dressed, there was a feeling of antiquity that came through the pictures via the lighting, dress and font… But then I started to think about how wrong this was. I mean, kids smoking? DUDE, YOU’RE SICK, GET OFF THE INTERNET. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY-

Then I was confused. I didn’t really understand what the works were trying to say.

I thought about it more and decided that this is probably precisely what Janssens wanted- some shock value. Over time, I learned to appreciate every single portrait. It was edgy. It had me feeling extremes of RAGE and WHAT THE HELL and OH GODS, I GET IT, I THINK, MAYBE, PERHAPS, KIND OF. That’s kind of the point!

After doing some research, I discovered a couple of things that helped clarify the artist’s purpose/methods:

  • Janssens was inspired to make this series of juvenile smokers after seeing a controversial YouTube video of an infant who smoked two packs a day. (Check my Indonesian homeboy here:
  • The cigarettes and smoke in the photos are actually chalk, sticks of cheese, candles and incense

Janssens said that she used children to direct the message towards the act and effects of smoking itself, regardless of audience. Seeing an ad with an adult smoker doesn’t have much of an impact because it’s something we see in our everyday lives.

I also appreciate the duality of the beauty of the way each child is dressed and how each picture is staged, and the ugliness of smoking itself. It shows different types of people and how they are their “personalities” are hugely amplified or even defined by the way they smoke.

One of the reasons why I think people are drawn to art is because of all that it can be. Something like this proves to be just as beautiful, complex and confusing as the human mind often is, and I think there is comfort to be had in this fact. It was after seeing just this one piece of work by Janssens that I made a mental note to one day aspire to make people go from COOL to WAIT WHAT to OH OKAY THAT’S PRETTY SWEET with just one set of work.

What do you aspire to do as an artist? Do you follow something like my law of C&C as well?

♥ Jen (@jenmartine_)

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Art Party: A look behind the scenes with our OneLove 2013 video shoot

On June 21st, a few members of the ArtQuake team, OneLove art mentors and youth got together at the Purple Thistle to shoot a promo video for this year’s OneLove Arts Festival. The shoot was directed by  Levi Hildebrand with videographer Jamie Edgar, of Lively Willy  Productions.

Brace yourself; because the following is jam packed with too much behind the scenes awesomeness, your dial up server may not be able to handle it:







The following polaroids were taken by one of the youth photography “mentees” during the session:


By, Rachel Gamboa
Photography Mentor, OneLove Mentorship Program 2013

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Refugee Shorts


The United Kingdom has just finished celebrating Refugee Week from June 16th to 22nd. Here in Bradford, there were a variety of events from a heated Question Time-style panel discussion to a walk highlighting the monthly journey that destitute refused asylum seekers make to sign on with the court. The University of Bradford Union’s Amnesty International and Student Action for Refugees societies collaborated to create a series of short films to contribute to the Week. As a member of both societies, I was lucky enough to play a part in making the project happen. We tried to make each film in a different tone and style to appeal to a different type of audience.

The first film in the series, Refugees 101, is a set of facts counteracting several major misconceptions which abound in the United Kingdom as well as outlining some of the major challenges facing asylum seekers here.

Street Talk has a more light-hearted feel, a quiz challenging the audience to question how much they really know about asylum seekers as they play along with the Bradford locals.

Out Into The Rain is my personal favourite because it was largely guided by the subject of the film. From when she sat down, it seemed clear that she knew exactly what she wanted to tell the world.

In Someone Else’s Skin was the film with which I had the least involvement, a situation that was probably for the better because the result was far more metaphorical than my literal mind could have created. It explores the labels and stigma stuck on asylum seekers and refugees.

“Refugee Shorts” premiered on Monday June 17th, and we hope that the films will continue to be viewed and affect people long into the future.

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Join the Crowd!

There are so many amazing events and projects happening in our communities, but not enough time to get involved with them all! How can we still show our support?


Crowd-sourcing is an excellent opportunity to support projects from all around the world even when you may not have the time to get involved. Why does ArtQuake love crowd-sourcing? Because creative minds get the opportunity to share their ideas and to see them come alive.  It gives people like you and me the chance to harvest and foster an artist’s idea by funding it.

Platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter are reaching a wide-ranged audience through relevant and easily accessible platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, WordPress and many other forms of social media. Crowd-sourcing is  a great way to connect with all groups of people who share similar, if not the same passions of and for creating change.

local art

An example of a successful and local project is Make It Happen! How to Succeed in the Handmade World. It is an Indiegogo campaign featuring a to-be documentary about the lives of everyday people who have quit their day jobs to start their very own creative businesses, selling what they make. Their goal is to inspire others to pursue their passions and show how it is possible to be successful as a creative business entrepreneur and live a life where nothing but passion, drive, dedication and love are invested into their work. The founders and team of this campaign include Jenna Herbut, who is the co-producer of the Make It craft show and Make It University. Along with, Neil Mangan, former lawyer, author, videographer, creative entrepreneur and previous tour manager to his successful Vancouverite brother, Dan Mangan! Dan Mangan also is featured in an interview in the film. They have raised a total of $16,035 and have surpassed their goal of $15,00!

 Now you can join the crowd too!…

50cubed layers plain bw

Check out ArtQuake’s #50cubed campaign. Our goal is to get 50 people to donate 50 dollars within the 50 days. All the proceeds will go towards our annual OneLove Festival, which is a two day celebration of young artists using their creativity to spark change in the world. Over 20+ local Vancouver youth will be capturing our city’s collective identity through spoken word, improv, painting, photography and more! You too can be a part of it all by helping us reach our goal of $2500! For every donation of 50 dollars, you will receive two festival passes and a chance to win an exclusive print from the show! The OneLove Festival will be held at the Cultch in East Vancouver on August 21 and 22.


Twitter, Media, and Change

My mom informed me about the federal court’s ruling on voting fraud in the last election before it was reported in the mainstream media because she was tracking it on Twitter (not that the mainstream media seems to be too interested anyway).

A couple days later when I asked how the Globe and Mail paywall affected her night-time news-reading ritual, my aunt informed me: “Guess I’m getting more of my news from Twitter.”

Plenty has been written about the death of the newspaper; and it seems like for some of my family, they’re replacing it with Twitter. Maybe I’m not the best person to comment. Initially, a complete Twitter-sceptic, I now observe from afar: I regularly read my favourite hockey writers and my mom’s feeds, but I don’t have an account of my own. As frequent readers may have guessed, the 140-character limit does not suit me. I find that it limits the capacity to communicate nuance and therefore increases the possibility of being misunderstood. There was one point about a year ago, where I warned my mother that her Twitter feed made her sound like more of a political extremist than she was.  So, while brevity may be the soul of wit,[1] I am a long-winded Polonius. You could say that my attitude towards Twitter is better suited to a grumpy old man. However, the more I reflect on it, the more I realise Twitter doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table; rather it simply magnifies, extends, and intensifies the way we already interact with the media.[2]

“The Readers’ Prejudices”

The internet has been praised for opening up dialogue and breaking down barriers.  However, while it’s very easy to find viewpoints with which you don’t agree on the internet, this ideal is generally not what happens. Instead, people tend to use the internet to find and interact with like-minded people. As  Twitter feeds are filled with people who they choose to follow, Twitter acts as a personalised collator of information that confirms people’s pre-existing ideas. I found it interesting how after the recent murders in Woolwich, my Facebook feed filled up with condemnation of the racist backlash, but was itself devoid of any racist backlash. Not that the confirmation bias arrived with Twitter. The following clip from the satirical 1980s British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister does a fairly good job of describing today’s British print media.

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Meet the 2013 OneLove Mentors

The OneLove  Mentorship Program is in full swing this summer! 20 youth are acquiring skills in photography, improv, spoken word, and painting, to share with you at the OneLove Festival. This year’s OneLove show is themed around “Identity.” Participants will be using their creativity to engage audiences in issues of racism, gender inequality, homophobia, and more! Their inspiring work is being mentored by some of our favorite local artists! Meet them at the festival on August 21st and 22nd at the Cultch. In the meantime, learn more about them here!

Graham Myers ~ Improv


Graham Myers is the Owner and Artistic Director of Second Storey Theatre and a founding member of table23 Comedy established in 1999. He has been performing and teaching improv professionally since 1998. Graham has had the great pleasure of working with the likes of Unexpected Productions, The Upfront Theatre, Vancouver Theatresports, Instant Theatre Company, C is For Comedy, Urban Improv, Impromaniacs, Yuk Yuk’s, Canadian Improv Games and Lafflines. He has also been a part of the Vancouver International Improv Festival, The Seattle Festival of Improv, as well as the Edmonton Fringe Festival. He loves to perform and hopes to do so until he’s so wrinkly that he is mistaken for a human prune. Graham will putting his years of improv teaching to good use as he tailors the performance art of improv to incorporate and expose issues related to identity.

For more information on Graham and Second Story Theatre, check out their website!

Rachel Gamboa ~ Photography

rachel1-smallFreelance by title, but an expert in the dance, fashion and editorial photography field, our photography mentor, Rachel Gamboa, will be guiding the youth group through this program and helping with preparation and presentation at the OneLove Festival. Based off the experience level and preferences of the youth group, Rachel will be facilitating workshops that will help the youth build and develop their photographic skills, knowledge of the industry and portfolio building for the group with the intention of preparing the youth with the skills and confidence necessary to continue pursuing their photography passions. In addition, Rachel will support the group in conceptualizing and preparing for the final presentation to be unveiled at OneLove.

To learn more about Rachel follow her on twitter!

Stephanie Gagne ~ Painting

steph1Stephanie Gagne has been an active participant in Vancouver’s annual OneLove festival since 2010. Her dedicated passion towards art drives her to explore new mediums in the fine arts. She currently attends Emily Carr University. This year she will be concentrating on acrylic painting for the OneLove painting program. Stephanie’s teaching method allows the youth mentees to enhance their technique and conceptual skills. She is open to all traditional, abstract and experimental approaches. Youth menthes will learn how to use color, prepare canvases, learn about various tools and materials as well as how they can be used to support the thematic aspects of their paintings.This four month program fosters personal expression and development.

Kim Possible ~ Spoken Word


Kim is  a local visual and spoken word artist, performer, and activist, residing in the East Vancouver area. Arts and activism is her personal passion and can  usually be found in all her creative works. She graduated with a degree in Visual Arts and Art History from the University of British Columbia in 2011 and since then, has been involved in arts-based work within the social justice community. Kim has years of experience working with children and youth, and recently completed training in anti-oppression facilitation through the City of Vancouver’s CitizenU program.

To view Kim’s work please visit her website!

ArtQuake @ TEDxKidsBC

October 20th 2012, Jannika Nyberg and Tahia Ahmed took to the stage of the OmniMax theatre to deliver their speech “Piecing it Together” for TEDxKidsBC’s fall conference : Connect.Inspire.Act.
The pair are still reeling from the excitement! With over 400 audience members ranging from age five to fifty- five, the energy in the big domed room was overwhelming. The talk, focused on the importance of creativity in shaping and re-building communities to be thriving spaces all folks can feel empowered by. This talk was followed by back to back workshops on community development through creative empowerment aimed at children and their families.


Speak Your Colours

Running on midnight oil when not really having anything to do in particular is something I’ve been doing more and more to start/complete some form of artwork. I’m not sure why, but when the world is quiet and I’ve consumed enough soda, coffee, milk tea, <insert unhealthy, energizing beverage here>, maybe even enough of it to replace my blood, I end up becoming both frantic and comfortable. The paints slide better, the pencil scribbles mesh together to form a whole picture, the poetry I write is almost effortless.

But sometimes, I don’t get any of the above- just an inability to sleep, a restlessness that won’t get off my back and an endless number of questions that haunt me until I finally do manage to get the Sandman to land some of his magic dust on me. However, good things can rise from the ashes, and from these unfortunate situations, I managed to collect some questions that are actually really important.

Jen E. blog

One of the grand questions that have been running with me lately is:

Do I, as an artist, have a responsibility to speak up and defend my ideas?

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