By: Ryan Ayukawa
Youth Jam Toronto 2018 is an opportunity for young musicians to have an inviting, all-ages, safe environment, where they can “show Toronto what they are all about”.
The event founders Ariyena Sorani, Celia Siriopoulos , and Annie Siriopoulos are among the many young performers in Toronto and across Canada who have felt their age as a barrier for finding places to not only play, but invite their fan base to. It was at Canadian Music Week that the girls heard about the Play the Parks events in an opening speech by Mayor John Tory. Loving their local park Christie Pits, the girls would later put together Youth Jam.
Play the Parks happens at 7 parks in the downtown Yonge BIA.
City of Toronto artist playing opportunities including City Hall Live and YYZ are on the Toronto.ca site under music.
Harlton Empire had the chance to talk with Ariyena Sorani about Youth Jam and supporting young artists.
RA: Before Youth Jam, what sort of public playing opportunities did you have? Were they limited to a small number?
AS: Many of them were in bars so we could not invite friends because they are under age and often the shows are quite late. We do get some opportunities to play festivals through word of mouth and seasonal. And also we do fundraisers but it is limited. Problem is getting our demographic to show up. Arts in the Park was not introduced until 3 years ago but we only found out about it recently at Canadian Music Week
When John Tory spoke about it in his opening remarks. So prior to this there were no opportunities for us to do this type of thing unless we owned a non for profit.
RA: Was it basically the same situation for all youth performers you talked to or knew?
AS: We think so but a lot just choose not to perform at all and that makes us feel bad.
This event is one of the biggest they have performed at and we wanted to make sure we chose at least a few artists who are in that scenario.
So that they can know how it feels and get the exposure and never give up on playing music.
Music is not like hockey or a sport where you can sign up and play. You have to get out there find places and you know we practice so hard and just want somewhere for people to hear us. Contrary to how some may perceive musicians, we just want to work and do the best we can. We want to form a community to support each other.
We hope this will be annual thing and maybe even out other events together in between and encourage other musicians in our community to play
RA: When you started to put together Youth Jam, did you know how much work would be involved?
AS: NO!!! (laughing) Not even close.
The logistics, the city and having to choose through hundred acts and only choosing 17 – that was so hard. We hated having to turn people away because we know how much everyone wants to play.
RA: Is there advice you would give starting out young performers about how to find places to play?
AS: Yes belong to a community of artists. Support other musicians talk to other musicians and get online. Also all ages open mics often are a good place.
Also keep practicing.