Celebrating these two creatives’ 2021 projects and keeping an eye on them for the future
Emma Mendez (She/Her/They/Them) // Culture Editor
Natasha Lee (She/Her) // Illustrator
Mauvey (he/him) is an alternative musical artist who blends various genres into creative, authentic expressions of love. His latest project, a mixtape titled The Florist, was released in late 2021, accompanied by a short film. Born in Ghana, but raised in the UK and so-called Vancouver, Mauvey continues to push the boundaries of the local and international music scene all while spreading love.
Q: How does love influence and or guide your art? How is this expressed in your most recent project, “The Florist”?
M: Love is the reason I quit everything else I was doing in my life, to focus on music. It really is the entire driving force. I want to experiment, I want to genre bend. I want to get on the biggest possible stages, all so I can just tell people, “hey, look, you’re important, I love you.” I wanted to make big radio friendly — easy to communicate songs, to communicate it to the most amount of people. With the project, I created a short film to go alongside it. Each of the characters are so extreme, they’re not exactly me. But they are extreme versions of all parts of me. I’m trying to show each character’s love story, which is what it really is. They’re all different.
Q: I think we all define love differently, so what is the meaning of love to you? How do you define it personally?
M: To me that’s an impossible question — my whole goal in life is to try and distribute love. But to try and communicate the meaning of it is too much for me. I respect love so much that I think it’s too much for me to try and define it or to give it any particular meaning. I really feel like people don’t respect love enough. I think that they think they can just put it in a box, “this is what it means.” It has so many facets and some are rational, some are irrational. In some ways there’s a toxicity to the idea of unconditional love. If I had to answer the question, I would say it’s everything. There’s so many facets, so many layers, so many variables, so many things to consider. I want people to feel loved, I want people to know they are important. I say that in every single show; “you’re important.” Because they need to know how crucially and uniquely important they are. So, for me, that’s distributing love.
Q: The shade mauve dominates your aesthetic, how is your aesthetic and the shade of mauve an expression of your authentic self? Or an aspect of your authentic self?
M: Realistically, that’s the question. It is myself. I’m obsessed with all shades of purple and when I dove into mauve, to me it’s the hardest colour to define. Is it a bit blue? A bit purple? A bit silver? It’s so many different things. And when you look at my music, is it a bit pop? A bit R&B? Or a bit soulful or afro? It is me as an artist. It’s the first thing, beyond my actual name, that made the most sense to me. Where my music is a bit this and that, I just said the phrase, “it’s a bit mauvey.” It felt so at home, I felt “this is me.” My goal beyond talking about it, is to unofficially own as many shades of purple as possible. So whether you love me or hate me, love my music, hate my music, like my views, hate my views — when you see any shade of purple, you have to think about me.
Q: What was the creative process for “The Florist” like? And throughout the creative process, what was the most transformative moment and why?
M: I wanted to be myself above all. As an artist, I don’t have a particular box that fit into, so I wanted to make a string of songs that have one consistent line through it, that is love, relationships. That’s what’s carrying through, at least lyrically. All I’ve done is dress those stories in different genres, sonically. You might hear a rocky guitar, or something that is more R&B and soulful. I think the transformative moment was when writing “Irrational.” I’ve spent so much of my life as a people pleaser. I still struggle with that, but it was really cathartic to let myself know “you know what, I am who I am.” And irrational sometimes, is who I am. I’m only at this point now because I dreamed irrationally, to think that out of millions of people I could get a record deal, out of millions of people, I could play at a festival. So why do I punish myself, or buy into people’s opinions and judgements about how I live my life and make my decisions? That was a turning point. I never meant for it to be a mixtape as well, I was just in the zone recording a bunch of songs and when I put them all together they worked because I was in a very consistent frame of mind. Then I thought, “I’m just going to put these all out and at the end of the year into a mixtape.”
Q: How do you think you would present love in an upcoming project? How would you explore love in a different way?
M: I have a debut album coming out at the end of next year and I’m filming a feature film to go along with the album, creating a theater show to be a moving part to my tour.. There’s an idea to communicate in a bit of a different way. That’s the most that I can say right now. The main thing with this whole thing is communication, “how do I communicate this message, the most effectively to the most amount of people?” There’s things that don’t change that one can do on an everyday basis. That’s being kind, saying thank you, telling people you love them, telling people they are important. There is a very everyday way to do what I’m doing that doesn’t need enormous creative thought, and schemes, and projects. It’s day in and day out, I just get to do music as a bonus.
Q: If you could show love to your past self or your childhood self, what would be the primary way that you would be doing that now?
M: I would actually tell myself the things I’m telling other people, “you are important.” And being kinder to myself. Someone asked me the other day what’s the difference between you and the Mauvey project? I really thought about it and in order for the Mauvey project to be a thing, I don’t sleep, I don’t eat a lot, I’m constantly travelling, I don’t invest incredibly heavily in my personal relationships, all because I’m trying to build this thing so I can communicate to more people. So I would definitely say your mental health is really important. To my younger self, “it’s okay to actually take some time out.” That “you’re not going to upset this person if you don’t do this and if you do that’s okay.” The main thing would be to communicate and that it’s actually okay to prioritize yourself at some point in this journey.
Megan (she/her) is a CapU Alumna, who is making her mark in the writing and publishing world. She is also a former Courier editor. In late 2021, she was published in the fantasy anthology, “Retelling Her World,” published by Smashbear Publishing. Her flash fiction story “Sink or Swim,” explores environmental injustice in so-called Vancouver through folklore. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time editing fantasy and speculative fiction for Smashbear or for her own freelance editing work through her own business Fair Folk Editing.
Q: Can you talk a bit about being a part of this anthology? What does it mean to you? What does it represent for you?
M.A: I am a huge reader of fantasy fiction and I tend to only read fiction by women, femmes, BIPOC, because the stories that are often told by white men are ones I’m not interested in. Women, femmes, BIPOC, are often written as side characters with no personality and not much agency. And if there is a woman main character, often it seems like they are trying to make it appear more equal by having the woman character be a femme fatale, but not in a way that means anything. Just for the shock effect. So, for my story in the anthology, I wanted to take the femme fatale trope but have it be personified as the city. Not just because she is evil or a seductress for no reason, she’s doing it because she’s fed up with humankind as a whole. But obviously I chose a man to die in that story for a reason as well. It’s nice to be part of an anthology that is not centered around the male gaze.
Q: How do you think your piece subverts the trope of the siren, and why this particular fantasy trope or folktale being?
M.A: I didn’t want her to just kill men, I wanted to bring this idea and put it in the context of Vancouver, the city itself. And see how that myth would reflect in our own environment, and for me that had to do with pollution, littering, privilege and subverting the male gaze. Even though the story is from his perspective, he never has power or agency. He starts off under the influence, then under the influence of her. I really wanted to invoke the sea, which is heavily polluted around us. There are always oil tankers, or cargo traffic in the distance. I try to bring that into the story as well. I was thinking of various water myths, there are so many that are distinctive to different regions, peoples, cultures. I wanted one that was universal, and the siren is a myth that has appeared in almost every folklore, so I thought it was a good one to bring into Vancouver and show the city and the ocean’s wrath.
Q: Where does your love of writing come from? And where has inspiration been blooming from for you lately?
M.A: My mom was actually a writer, she wrote poetry and had won awards for it. She wrote a book and so my love of writing has come from her before anyone. One day I must have been 18, and I had borrowed books from the library, I had run out and the library was closed. So I thought, “okay, I’m going to start writing my own book then.” So I wrote a book, it was horrible! But that’s how I started. My inspiration nowadays is definitely still folklore. The story that’s actually in the book is from my graduating project at CapU! I had to write modern folktales, modern warnings that take place in a city that were flash fiction. I wanted to have the city of Vancouver almost be its own personality, its own character. So that’s where the story in the anthology came from.
Q: I know that you do freelance editing under Fair Folk Editing, and now you’re part of a fantasy anthology, would you say that you are enchanted by fantasy in the day-to-day? And how does fantasy fit into your life?
M.A: I am absolutely obsessed with fantasy from start to finish. I love folklore, I love any stories that have to do with vampires, or faeries, or monsters, anything with a little bit of magic. I actually didn’t think I loved or even liked reading when I was younger until I started reading fantasy, because the books they assign you in high school are rubbish and I couldn’t get into any of them, so it was steamy paranormal romance that got me into reading. Then, I extended from there into other genres. Even with my editing, I tend to edit speculative fiction or fantasy fiction. Actually, the anthology I’m a part of – I work for that publisher as an editor. So my life is surrounded by fantasy, that’s the way I like it!
Q: What are you working on right now or hope to in the near future?
M.A: I’m working on a manuscript that is a sapphic retelling of a Scottish myth that originally is about a guy who gets kidnapped by the queen of faeries, it’s a little bit different. She gets kidnapped by the queen of faeries and finds out the reason for her kidnapping and then they go and topple the monarchy. I love writing and love editing, it’s where my passion is! I didn’t think I could make a career out of it for much of my youth. But I said I was going to do it, and I am.