VanArts Radio

How to Manager Your Finances as a Full Time Student

Oct 10 by Alyssa Jo Soloski

As a full time student, we have the stress of our school work load on us everyday. Studying, exams, projects… we think about these things on a daily basis. Our minds are occupied with school work so having to deal with the stress of our finances can push us over the top. Its important to have a good structure to deal with your expenses while you’re in school. Most of us don’t have the time to work, even a part time job so we rely on our savings and student loans. 

There’s No “Right” Way to Write a Song

Jul 23 by Adam Thorp

I am constantly writing songs to try help me navigate the web of thoughts in my head. Sometimes I feel like a helpless fly stuck in the web begging to be rescued, other times I feel like an agile spider in the web belting about the ups and downs of life. But regardless of my state at any given time, I’m creating music.

I’ve never had any professional training and honestly couldn’t read a note if I tried. I grew up listening to tonnes of music and have always been drawn to sound and instruments. My grandmother had a baby grand piano that I would always bang around on when I visited. I was always singing (sometimes to the point of irritating those around me, sorry hehe). I joined the choir at school as soon as I could and auditioned for every show or musical I had access to. I loved it! … but eventually got a little tired of singing other people's songs.

Singing other musicians lyrics and melodies is an incredible thing - it’s fun, intimate, and makes you feel less alone in this big wide spider-webby world we live in. However, I got to a point where I wanted to create something more personal. I wanted to sing my own words and express my own experiences through music, but there was just one problem...

I couldn’t play any instruments.

As I said before, I have zero training and almost no knowledge about music theory, but I loved writing and was determined. So, what I did was find a song that I really liked (“Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down - I’m a 90’s kid, don’t judge me) and then changed all the words in an attempt to make something new-ish and a lot more personal to me. I kept the same melody, but wrote all new lyrics that told a different story - my story. I remember feeling this adrenaline rush and immediately knew I’d started a fire that I couldn't stop.

I was hooked.

I got a guitar for my 13th birthday and that just added fuel to the fire. I learned a bunch of easy guitar chords from a book I was given and just kind of figured out the basics over time. Before I knew it I was strumming chords and humming little melodies and songs just started falling out my mouth.

I write from a very honest place and enjoy musicians who are raw and unfiltered and don’t hold anything back. I know everyone has their own processes and techniques and no one is right or wrong in their creation - just different. I’ve developed my style a lot since I got that first guitar (which I still adore and use till this day by the way - her name is Florence and she’s beautiful) and have lost track of how many songs I’ve written. It’s just become a part of my lifestyle at this point. It blends in with my daily life so effortlessly that I don’t really even notice that I’m writing anymore. I think of it more as reflecting and processing. Some people meditate, some people cook, some people exercise - I write.

So, when I heard about this new documentary that just came out called “Shangri-La” that focuses on a producer named Rick Rubin and his songwriting process… I was immediately interested.

Rick Rubin is an American music producer who co-founded Def Jam Records and is basically an icon. He’s worked with everyone from Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, the Dixie Chicks, Tom Petty, AC/DC, Metallica to Linkin Park, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile, Adele, Ed Sheeran, and the list just goes on and on and on.

The documentary talks about Rick’s life, his love of music, his career, the studio that he works out of (called Shangri-la), the artists he has worked with, and everything in between. It mentions how he has absolutely no musical training, but his genuine love for the artform guided him to the top and earned him legendary status in the industry.

Learning about his simple holistic approach to creating music took me back to my roots and how (and why) I started creating in the first place. Everyone has their own unique journey that influences their style, perspective, sound, process, messages, etc. and I think people (especially young aspiring artists these days) get too caught up in the idea of trying to be someone they’re not. They try to mould themselves to fit what they think is “in” right now and what could gain them the most traction online - which works for some people, but it’s not the only way to get yourself out there. I find it sad that so many artists believe that they’re not good enough, don’t have enough training, don’t have enough experience, are not pretty enough, are not “perfect” enough...

I always believed that I would never make it in the industry because of my lack of training. I thought I was too amateur and alternative and couldn’t possibly get very far. However, my outlook on the industry has changed dramatically in the last little while and learning about Rubin and his process basically turned that fire I mentioned earlier into a raging bonfire.

I think that by being genuine and tapping into your subconsciousness for art offers something so incredibly valuable and meaningful to the world. There’s nothing wrong with a structured and slightly more manufactured approach either - as I said before, there’s no right or wrong way to write a song - but I am personally so much more interested in the deeper oceans than the shallow waters.

I’m grateful for music and am so happy I stumbled across Rick Rubin’s story. Check out the documentary on Showtime!

Song of the week?

Jul 16 by Jordyn Bishop

 Ed Sheeran, Remember the Name. Featuring Eminem and...50 Cent?! My little heart is leaping with joy hearing this song. Honestly just seeing these two were in the song made me squeal like a little girl! The start just slaps ya in the face and Ed starts off by rapping himself. The background music reminding me of the 8 Mile to (the first generation) Step Up days. In my view, it seems the song goes over how these three men are legends. And ya better remember they damn names, because they aren't going anywhere! They talk about their lives and how they made it big. And if they can they will keep going, because come ON it's Ed, Em and 50 Cent! Three men that honestly helped shaped a generation of mistakes and success. 

Song of the Week:

May 29 by Adam Thorp

Africa - where drums echo, wild dogs cry out in the night and it’s going to take a lot to drag me away from you. Toto first released their massive worldwide hit in 1982 with their album “Toto IV”. The song reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983 and has since been the group's most popular song to date.

Private Instagram “Likes” Change The Game

May 03 by Adam Thorp

I’m not much of a social media guru. I use Facebook and Instagram and that’s about it. I post things that make me happy and share constructive messages I want to put out into the world. I try not to get caught up in the modern world of social media because I know it’s all just a performance. A lot of the time smiles are forced, sunsets are enhanced, and bodies are edited to unrealistic standards. I consciously try not to fall into this trap because I know it’s not healthy - especially for someone with an anxious mind such as myself.

But sometimes even I find myself staring at a photo (for way too long) wondering what other people will think… I edit and compare and delete and go back and forth between two almost identical pictures for longer than I’d like to admit… and then once I’ve posted my final decision, I continuously refresh my news feed hoping I get a bunch of "likes" that will somehow elevate my self esteem.

A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to get "likes" online. The society we live in today often suggests that an individual's self worth or success is based on that little number under their latest Insta post - and I honestly hate that idea.

But I have some potentially good news for ya, my friend.

At Facebook’s annual conference this year, it was announced that Instagram is trying a new experiment in Canada. The platform has introduced a feature called “private like counts”, which basically hides the amount of "likes" a picture or video has received from the general public. The user can privately see exactly how many "likes" their post gets, but nobody else can.

And as you can probably imagine, the internet had a lot to say about it.

Some people hate it and believe that it will put influencers at a huge disadvantage. They think that sponsors will be less likely to work with influencers and that online opportunities will decrease. Some also believe that the platform just won’t be the same without the visible “likes” and want others to be able to see how many people approve of their posts.

Other people love the idea and think that this is the best update Instagram has made in a very long time. They think it will encourage more genuine and unique content from users as it won’t be all about the amount of “likes” you get on a photo anymore - but rather about the quality of the content you’re putting out instead. They also feel that sponsors will be more likely to work with influencers that accurately represent their brand, instead of just picking someone based on the amount of “likes” they recieve.

Instagram was made for people to express their individual perspectives, and I personally think that the platform has completely veered away from their initial starting point. Nowadays it’s more about trying to fit in any way you can to accumulate the most amount of “likes” you can get - whether that be through posting a revealing photo or a picture of you in a car that you would never actually be able to afford. People are much more concerned about how the world perceives them and use social media as a way to compare themselves to others - most of the time to strangers with professionally edited photos. I think this update could make Insta a better and safer place for a lot of users. I think it could help a lot of people's self esteems and thus their mental health. I see this as a step in the right direction and applaud Facebook for even suggesting the experiment.

I hope the “private like counts” feature sticks and people see the potential behind an idea like this. I’d love to see more genuine posts and people feeling better about themselves online.

- A

Songwriting from the Heart

Mar 29 by Adam Thorp

I am constantly writing down my thoughts and feelings to try understand myself. I have over 1100 notes on my phone right now - most of which are ideas, perspectives and memories that strike at random times.

Sometimes I’m on the bus and an image pops into my mind.
Sometimes a friend says something and it happens to hit a nerve.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and scribble down random words that came to me in a dream.

I don’t use nearly all those words my brain strings together. Sometimes I just need to write them down to help myself in the moment. But those notes often end up being the seeds of the songs that I write. I plant them in my phone or on a piece of paper and water them with time. I let them grow and eventually they blossom into something more.

People always ask me how I write songs.
I never really know what to tell them.

I wrote my first song when I was 13. Myself, my mom, my dad and my younger brother had just moved to Dubai and left my older sister in South Africa. It was our first night in the hotel and I was extremely overwhelmed by the whole experience. I had never left South Africa before I boarded the plane to Dubai and honestly wasn’t sure if I ever would leave South Africa before I moved. I got a guitar for my birthday that year and remember sitting in the hotel room strumming the same chords over and over again. Music had always been incredibly important to me and got me through the day more often than not. I knew the very basics of guitar and had a lot going on inside that I felt like I needed to get out somehow. I kept strumming quietly while I looked at the moon from my window. I remember thinking that even though my sister and I were thousands of miles apart, at least when we looked at the sky we were looking at the same moon. That brought me comfort somehow, so I wrote a song about it.

Since then, songwriting has been a lifeline for me that I genuinely don’t think I could live without. It allows me to process my emotions and get in touch with things I don’t even know I’m thinking or feeling. I’m a very visual thinker and often need to see my thoughts written down to understand or work through them. If I can get a song out of an overwhelming feeling or situation, it feels like it was worth it to me and I’ll be okay.

I’m also a very sentimental person and always have been. I have an obsession with capturing memories and often struggle to let things go. I have a bunch of shoeboxes at home filled with memories from my life so far. Polaroid pictures, notes, movie tickets, medals, birthday cards, little toys, gifts, books, letters, albums, flyers, cool shoelaces, plane tickets - literally anything with a memory attached to it is in those boxes. I want to remember and appreciate all the things that have happened to me, and that’s a huge part of the reason I write.

Writing a song is like taking a picture of a feeling.
It’s a way to capture raw emotion.
A way to remember.

People always ask me how I write songs.
I never really know what to tell them.

Sometimes I start with chords.
Most of the time I start with lyrics.
Sometimes I pick up my guitar and a whole song pours out of me.
Other times it takes me weeks to figure out exactly what I want to do with one specific line.

I’ve heard songwriting be compared to open heart surgery before, and I fully understand why. It’s deep and vulnerable and intricate and really fucking hard sometimes. Many songs are made from extreme emotion and it’s hard to explain how one translates that intensity into art. Emotions are unpredictable - and thus so is songwriting.

This is kind of an abstract thought, and I’ve never heard anybody say anything like this - but I almost feel like I don’t write my own songs. I feel like they’re given to me in a way. Like someone put those ideas in my head somehow. I honestly don’t know where the ideas or melodies or lyrics come from. It just kind of happens.

There is no right or wrong way to write a song. Songwriting is about expression and you can do whatever the hell you want with your feelings. My advice is to be brutally honest, don’t be afraid to get deep and dark, keep experimenting and do it for YOU. I always hope my songs help other people, but I do it for me at the end of the day. I don’t share 90% of the songs I write because they’re not meant for other people. The songs that I do share are still extremely personal and are still meant for me - but that unflinching vulnerability is where I think a lot of the magic found in music comes from. Music is an extension of the soul and artists are brave to share that with the world.

People always ask me how I write songs.
I never really know what to tell them.

There is no right or wrong way to express yourself - as long as it’s coming from the heart.

- A

Opinion: Freelancing is ???

Mar 21 by Max Monday

It seems as though one of the only times I get to see my friends as of late is when I'm volunteering. At the moment I'm a part of a collective that runs Red Gate Arts Society, a community events centre in East Vancouver – we meet every Monday night to discuss the future art exhibitions, concerts and goings-on we want to have at our establishment. There, I see familiar friendly faces: the couple that invited me to be a part of Red Gate, buddies that I made while attending and working events, and art-loving pals I've recruited for the team. This week, as the meeting wrapped up, I packed up my things as most people headed to the back to smoke and socialize. Jeremy, an old friend and new Red Gate recruit, stopped me on my way out.

Drowning in my Gratitude (Journal)

Mar 15 by Adam Thorp

I’ve struggled with my mental health since I can remember. Sometimes it feels like anxiety takes my consciousness and runs away with it. My brain gets stuck spinning the same record over and over again. Some days “what if’s” and “maybe’s” consume me to the point that I can’t function. Simple responsibilities overwhelm me and before I know it I find myself questioning my self worth. I get frustrated with myself and feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like I should be doing better or I should be more successful or at least more functional on a basic level.

In some moments it seems so far out of my control that I end up feeling hopeless - and that is absolutely no way to live.

Negative thought patterns are an easy trap to fall into. I like to think about them as an old toxic relationship. They’re familiar and comfortable, and at least you have some company to get you through the night, but in the morning you end up feeling even more empty than before. Trying to rewire your brain is like throwing yourself in the deep end of a pool when you’ve never been taught how to swim. It’s terrifying and I’ve felt like I’ve had to fight for my life at some points - forcing myself to keep breathing even when I swore my lungs were filling up with water.

There are a lot of things you can do to help keep your head above the waves while you’re learning to swim though.

I take meds and go to therapy regularly. I try eat well and get enough sleep most nights. I talk about what I’m going through with people I trust and spend a lot of time writing and reflecting on myself and my thoughts. I am on an endless quest to understand why I am the way I am, because I believe empathy comes from understanding. All of these things are helpful and obviously important in their own rights, but I’ve started doing something recently that is so beyond simple I never thought it would or could ever work - but it really does.

I started keeping a gratitude journal.

(Cue dramatic eye roll)

Stay with me.

Next to my bed I have a tiny book with lined pages and the phrase “Today I am grateful for…” written at the top of each page. Every day I write the date and take some time to really think and reflect on what I am grateful for. Some days I can think of 10 things to say, other days it takes me 10 minutes to think of one thing to say. But no matter what it is I’m grateful for or how many blessings I am able to count, I write them all out. I write them out and look at the page and take a moment to absorb the words. I give myself reasons to get out of bed. I give myself reasons to keep going despite the water in my lungs. I take my hand and forcibly turn my face to the sun, because I know how dark it can get in my head if I don’t. The grass is greener where you water it, so I try water the flowers.

Redefining new thought patterns and making better neural pathways for your mind to wander down is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do if I’m honest, but it is so worth it - especially when the new pathways are healthy and beautiful and filled with the flowers you deserve. Keeping a gratitude journal may seem useless and insignificant, I definitely thought it was... But it helps me keep my head above water some days, and I wanted to share my simple discovery in case it might help you too.

The road is long and sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed and carry on, but if I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that there is always something to be grateful for.

- A

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