Fans of Kinnie Starr's genre-crossing songs will want to be at Virgin Mobile Mod Club tonight for the fundraiser for the Toronto graffiti documentary Between The Lines, as this will be their first chance to get a sneak peak at the tracks on her upcoming album.
"I've been test driving these songs for about a year in small unpublicized venues, but this is my first proper show for the new material, so I'm pretty excited," Starr explains.
Not only will tonight's gig be the public unveiling of the new songs, but listeners will also have a chance to buy some of them early through their phones, using QR codes at the venue and the MiiScan app. However, Starr herself admits she's not completely sure about the idea.
"Everyone seems excited about it, but I don't really know much about it. I'm still kind of old school - I love albums, you know? I only have one app on my phone: just Instagram. I'm curious how this is going to work and if it's going to be effective, but I'm just not that kind of tech person."
She's a lot more into the benefit itself, as she herself got into music through street art, and has strong feelings about the issues being discussed in the documentary.
"I try not to do too many fundraisers, as I have to make a living too, but this is particularly dear to my heart. Cities aren't really doing what they were built to do, which is to be connected spaces, rather than disconnected."
From her perspective, there's a very big difference between how Rob Ford talks about street art and her own experiences in the culture. While Ford is still stuck in the 80s and sees tagging as gang-related crime, Starr sees much more potential and power in the medium.
"The people who are stealing cars aren't out there putting up beautiful murals."
While it might not be immediately obvious how someone goes from graffiti to making music, if you think of both as a form of communication and ways of staring public conversations, the links begin to seem less tenuous.
"I used to make stickers before I was singing - I had one that said ‘I want to kiss my girlfriend in public' with an image of two girls holding hands, or one that said ‘TV is crack for the masses'. I would print a stack of them, and when I was hitchhiking around I'd sell them to bookstores when I came into a city. It was an economy for me, because I was broke, but also a way of creating communication. When I started music, I didn't really think of it as a career - it was also just another form of conversation."
Starr does, however, relate to the anger some people feel about the less nuanced and aesthetically pleasing aspects of tagging.
"I get a little frustrated when I see crappy, poorly-planned pieces put up on the side of people's houses. I wish I could just shake these people by the shoulders and tell them to practice at home on cardboard."