About the Show
The Whoop Dee Doo and POP Montreal project revolved around a creative collaboration between Montreal-based musicians Josh Dolgin (Socalled) and Ruby Kato Attwood (Yamantaka//Sonic Titan), and four students from Montreal’s Head & Hands program: Paula Rosales, Naeem Johnson, Zoë Black & Rocelle Custodio. Josh is a Montreal-based Canadian composer, producer, singer and rapper known for his unique fusion of disparate musical styles such as hip hop, klezmer and folk, and Ruby is the co-founder, director, composer and performer of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, a Toronto- and Montreal-based band and art collective bringing together members of Diasporic Asian and Indigenous Canadian identity. This multidisciplinary collaboration occurred during a weeklong workshop under the guidance of the Whoop Dee Doo artists. The scope and nature of the installation produced was mutually conceived by the youth and musical artists, with the emphasis on creative process and collaboration.
Josh Dolgin and Ruby Kato Attwood assumed the role of professional musical artists on this project, bringing their artistic expertise and experience working with youth to the intensive workshop and creation process. Dolgin and Attwood collaborated hands-on with the teenage participants, sharing their diverse artistic practices and honing the group’s interests, skills and collective vision towards a realizable goal. The aim was to concoct original performances, to be unveiled to a live audience in a stylized variety show-type set-up at POP Montreal’s 2013 festival.
Another critical partner on this project was DHC/ART, an important voice in contemporary art in Montreal. DHC/ART engaged its Education Department and ensured the ongoing participation of two bilingual educators for the entire duration of the 10-day project: full day inaugural activities, week-long after school creative workshops, support during performances, and post-event follow-up and evaluation. The organization also participated in the promotion of the project, and offered in-kind technical support.
Montreal-based music critic and musician Rafael Katigbak served as the project’s curator. He was responsible for establishing initial contact with Whoop Dee Doo as well as collaborating with POP Montreal in the selection of Josh Dolgin and Ruby Kato Attwood as professional artist participants.
Whoop Dee Doo, the Head & Hands students, along with Josh and Ruby, gathered together each day to research the musicians’ past performances, costuming and influences. Together we created a unique full-encompassing set modelled after an early 19th century spook show, with a multitude of set pieces designed as build-outs from the installation. These efforts made the entire floor-to ceiling installation have a myriad of props, puppets and actors popping out of hidden doors and windows throughout the entire show.
Whoop Dee Doo artists focused on our collaboration with Josh, creating a new act for our show utilizing both his musical talents and his skills as a musician. Josh was very generous with his time, showing the students his past work with music videos, puppets, instruments, live performance and comedy, and his predominant focus was being a great presence throughout the process, and working with Whoop Dee Doo to create a basic structure and main character for the live performance.
For our collaboration with Ruby, our students designed, created, practiced and performed three of the main components of the final show. The first was the design and creation of Ruby’s costume, based off of images of her interests and the history of her work and culture. The final piece was a 10-foot dress and headpiece that was a cross between kimonos and ghostly imagery. Second, a giant puppet based off of a traditional folkloric Chinese dragon, to exhibit itself in the audience at the climax of the YTST song. Lastly, we created a traditional shadow-puppetry show that was lit and performed inside and behind Ruby’s giant dress. The story was based and written as a unique interpretation of Ruby’s song. A contemporary love story that was re-made into a sad and touching story of the death of two ghosts. This entire performance and all of its components were created and conceived by the students, and the end product was said to be “moving” and “gave the audience chills”.
Overall, we were incredibly grateful for all of these organizations coming together to allow for such a great pairing of unlikely collaborators. The final show truly blended the talents and ideas of all of our collaborators, and the audience was certainly wowed by the final outcome and environment we created.
Ruby Kato Attwood (Yamantaka//Sonic Titan) and Josh Dolgin (Socalled)