Toronto Comic Arts Festival breaks barriers between music and visual art with Loop Sessions


Even if you’ve never been to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), this is a good year to start. 

That might sound strange in a year that the festival – a meeting point for illustrators, comic authors, artists, writers, video game creators and other ink-covered creative people – happens entirely online. But going virtual is allowing organizers to expand its scope beyond the page. From May 8-15, you can enjoy a robust online marketplace, workshops, gaming demos, guests from all over the world and events that could never have happened in a regular year. It’s expanded, more accessible than ever before and it’s all free. 

“Comic arts” has taken on a whole new meaning, one that draws in art and culture from all over the map and takes away the barriers between them. 

One new event that shows that scope is Seeing Sounds. Happening on Saturday, May 8 at 6 pm ET, it’s the first collaboration between TCAF and Loop Sessions Toronto. The live drawing event will pair three artists – Freddy Carrasco, Hana Shafi aka Frizz Kid and Gyimah Gariba – with three beatmakers – Cheema, Reazhun and Sikh Knowledge. Together, they’ll create a mind-bending audio-visual experience of live art and collaborative soundscapes. 

“This is a no-brainer for me,” says VJ Smith, one of the people behind Loop Sessions Toronto and the co-host of Seeing Sounds. “Visual art and music just go together. They’re two senses that enhance one another.

“Personally, I am a producer and I do visual art,” continues Smith, who also makes adventurous electronic music under the name Pursuit Grooves. 

“Music producers are inspired by visual art and vice versa. I wanted to show some diversity in our community, whether it’s age, background, genders, locations, different genres, comic art and digital art and different kinds of beatmakers – I want this to be a showcase of all of that, because as artists, you know, we’re all in it together.”

Each artist and musician collab will last about 20 minutes, and Smith says to expect a lot of good vibes. The Loop Sessions’ regularly scheduled monthly events give a handful of DJs and producers one sample chosen by a guest curator, which gives them a deadline and some constraints – both restrictions that really help with creativity during the pandemic. They’ve also gotten into education, giving glimpses into the process of musical geniuses and demystifying their creative process. 

This breaks the format a bit, but continues the theme of artists taking inspirations and reinterpreting source material – in this case, it’s visual rather than an audio sample. 

“This way, we can have both disciplines work together and see how they bounce off each other,” Smith says. 

A big part of DJing and live producing is feeding off the energy of a crowd, which is something that has been missing over the last year – but Seeing Sounds brings back that energy exchange, even if it’s coming from a different direction. 

And you can join in that energy watching from home. 

“After putting this together, I think we’re all thinking: why didn’t we do this before?” says Smith.

Here are five more can’t-miss events at TCAF 2021, and head to for TCAF’s full programming.




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