Music issue out now!
Illustration: Erin McPhee
Last summer, Team Shameless gathered at a visioning session to talk about the future of our little indie mag. Facilitated by our friend (and advice columnist) Aruna Zehra, we sat on the floor of my studio’s hallway and re-affirmed our commitment to this modest project and dreamed of the ways in which we’d like to grow and challenge ourselves to do better work. We decided: we want to stay in print, we want to host more youth events, and, we want to reinstate the Shameless Youth Advisory Board (YAB) — a group of teen girls and trans youth who can advise us on content, editorial direction, outreach and special projects.
Shameless staffers Ronak Ghorbani, Lauren Pragg and I took the lead on this project; together, we recruited eighteen amazing teen girls and trans youth, each with amazing skillsets—art, writing, design—and limitless imagination and spirit. The group is designed to meet four times a year for paid sessions that combine capacity-building workshops and skillshares. We have a bit to offer — some experience in how to put together a magazine — and they have a lot to offer: lived experience and expertise on what’s important to our readership.
At our first two-hour session together in Toronto, we met up to break the ice and start planning the next year of editorial. We talked about our strengths and what we were all hoping to get from the experience, and we broke into groups and collaged cover mockups of our ideal Shameless issues. Three themes came from that creative brainstorm, which will serve as a basis for this, the music issue, and the next two to come.
I was personally excited to work on a music issue on behalf of the YAB. In my own life, I’ve played in four bands, and recorded a number of albums and EPs, and I’m often reminded of those experiences when I work on a new issue of Shameless. Both are forms of collaborative expression, creativity and community-building. Both have nourished my well-being and taught me so much about the world around me.
I asked the Shameless YAB to say a few words about why this issue is important to them:
The Shameless Youth Advisory Board is a group of young women and trans youth who were chosen by some of the editors to be a contributing part of the planning and behind-the-scenes work for Shameless — ensuring that there is representation of the magazine’s audience. This is the first issue in which that the YAB played an active role and we personally feel very proud of this music issue.
Music has helped some YAB members be shameless, and we’re certain that every one of you has been touched by music in some way. To us, music is a form of expression and individuality, it helps us forget anything that’s happened and to say what we feel; music helps us to live life like we’re singing and dancing in the shower and to be ourselves.
Music takes many forms and is a whole lot of things for a whole lot of people. For some, it can be an avenue where you can feel free, like we said above. Music allows us to fight conformity, to be different, and, most of all, to be shameless! It allows for expression — whether personal, political (take Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance!), cultural, social — or can be a form of commentary. Music is never non-responsive; it touches each person different and often touches all parts of our lives, especially for young people.
With that, I leave you with this, our music issue. In it, we explore class (p. 18), music journalism (p. 28) and misconceptions about hip hop (p.24). We honour badass Indigenous (p.14), Latinx (p.15) and punk (p.9) music-makers, and we work to give you tools and tips to use your voice (p.6), own your stage style (p.40) and find your sound (p.7). We hope you enjoy this issue as much as our inter-generational team enjoyed putting it together.
Sheila & The Shameless Youth Advisory Board
The Shameless 2015-2016 Youth Advisory Board is Nasim Asgari, Olivia Baker, Rama Castillo, Taylor Cenac, Tyler Cenac, Jacqueline Lim, Saul Freedman-Lawson, Tessa Hill, Natasha Marvo, Arina Moiseychenko, Sapphire Newman-Fogel, Alex Newton, Natasha Poley, Milena Rzepa Sztainbok, Emily Wood , Caroline Wang and Tia Wong.