why lady gaga inspires me: a review of the #artrave tour in yeg

3 June 2014

when I heard that lady gaga was coming to edmonton, I knew that I would absolutely love to see her perform. I looked into it and, as suspected, tickets sold out quickly and were way out of my price range. last week, it crossed my mind to look for tickets on stubhub, which i'd never used before, and when i found tickets for only $45 it was a quick and easy decision to get them. 

i decided to make a small tribute to gaga in my outfit - i found these nail wraps that reminded me of the alexander mcqueen outfits in my favourite lady gaga video - bad romance. i felt like the nails were a mix of the green outfit on the bottom right and the black outfit that included the unbelievable, show-stopping mcqueen heels on the right.

we arrived at the show late, during the last song or two from the first opener - hatsune miku, a software-generated musical act portrayed by a holographic anime character. i think. no, i do not know how a software-generated musical act becomes an opener on a world tour. i'm not gonna lie, it was a little weird. but then again, this is a lady gaga concert we're talking about - weird is the benchmark. 

the second opener was lady starlight, a dj from new york who has worked closely with lady gaga for most of her career. she performed solely with a drum machine, and although i found the music itself uninspiring, i definitely took some notes - she is a fellow female dj after all, and i have much to learn. 

and then, finally, preceded by a host of dancers in neon booty shorts, the mother monster took the stage. the material was mostly from her most recent album, artpop, peppered with a handful of her most popular anthems including poker face, just dance, bad romance, paparazzi, and telephone (which i can not listen to without thinking of the hilarious steve kardynal chatroulette video. link is nsfw-ish… beware of man dancing in a bikini).

throughout her high-energy performance, my favourite moments were when she paused to connect with the audience. at one pause in the music, she sat on a chaise lounge while fans threw gifts onstage, and as she selected items to look at she sought out the person who gave each item, thanked them personally, and offered for them to come backstage after the show. i'm not going to lie,  it made me a little teary-eyed to see the fans reactions when she took the time to address them… it's not hard to see that the messages of self-acceptance in gaga's music and the community of 'little monsters' that she has brought together has changed countless lives for the better, regardless of its zany packaging. 

the thing about lady gaga is that she actually inspires me. of all the artists i listen to, there are only a handful that i would actually say that about. no, i don't love everything she does, and i am by no means a die hard fan - i only own the fame monster album. all the same, i find myself bursting with creative ideas when i watch her perform (even just on video), and see how she ties an entire theatrical concept together in each song. as i mentioned, she has created a loyal fanbase that clearly includes many people who have felt like outcasts, including many who identify as LGBTQ - a community that gaga has been outspoken in her support for. 

wondering how i can find inspiration in a performer who's infamous for a meat dress and racy music videos, among other things? here's what i've learned from lady gaga. 

be unapologetically yourself. if it's not clear from her unparalleled style, you'll get this from her lyrics, and any interviews you watch or read. one of the standout moments of her edmonton performance was her powerful piano rendition of born this way, which has become a powerful anthem for many, especially the queer community. i'm impressed by this woman, who wrote a chart-topping song that declares that you are 'made perfectly' and that 'god makes no mistakes', and has affirmed individuality in a meaningful way for so many people. 

you are a human. gaga embodies this fascinating paradox between being fantastically theatrical and incredibly real. i love that although she often dresses provocatively and in stereotypically 'sexy' outfits, she also chooses outfits and styles that are frankly unflattering, while so many of the big-name female performers in the music industry stay only in the territory of perpetual perceived beauty and sex appeal. for the last outfit swap of the #artrave show, gaga changed on stage with her wardrobe crew emerging to transform her from head to toe. it was surprisingly human to see her in a wig cap, between flashy outfits - it took away some of the smoke-and-mirrors of her performance, and i appreciated that a lot. 

perform. while i definitely dig authenticity in a musical performance and lyrical content, i have always been captivated by performers who do just that - perform. it's no secret that i love freddie mercury, who gaga cites as an inspiration (and even a namesake), and many others who dive into over-the-top productions. although it's been a long time since i've been involved in theatre or the performing arts, there's an element of my work as a dj that is still a performance, and it absolutely inspires me to watch someone who so clearly throws her all into every moment on stage. 

this post goes out to the gentleman caller who patiently waited for me to finish my gaga-inspired manicure before rushing out the door, and also bought me earplugs and insisted i wear them, which was a little nugget of wisdom i would've definitely overlooked. xo

one year at home: wearing my journey on my walls.

29 April 2014

skateboard deck from the skateshop where i worked for three years in new zealand - a little fish fossil that was sent to me from a dear friend as a reminder of faith - a camera salvaged by my brother for me from my great uncle's home - skull mask & bird whistle that my man's mom brought me from guatemala -

this week marks one year since i moved into my sweet little apartment. in the past decade, i have lived in a grand total of three homes for more than one year. including this one. because i had a hunch that this one would be a long-term castle, at least by stacey standards, i have put a lot of love and thought into adorning my walls. as a celebration of my one year anniversary with my apartment, and to welcome new readers (heyo tattoo talk friends!) i thought i'd give a little virtual tour of my girl-pad.

come on in!

one time i came home from an adventure, and my mom had hung this sparkly banner of my name across the kitchen. i kinda love it, and i added a little sparkly buddy that matched... 

my walls are covered in special things that i've collected throughout my travels, and i love that when i look around my house i see bits of my story all nestled together. this is also the first time in nine years that i have had all my belongings under one roof (my posessions were split between canada and new zealand until just this january), and i am such a sentimental person that it means a lot to me that things handed down from family members, which i could never have with me in new zealand, are right beside bits of my stories from around the world. 

a teacup from my grandmother's collection with a little sugar skull that was a gift from my sister and brother-in-law.

it's pretty apparent in these photos that i have a fondness for a couple specific things. i don't intentionally collect things... but um... almost every picture in this post has either a skeleton or a teacup (or both). also: the colour pink. a lot of my friends are surprised to see how girly my home is - i don't really come off as a 'girly-girl', and i wear all-black outfits waaaaay too often... but those who know me well know the truth. my aesthetic is a mix of ultra-feminine, retro, and a splash of punk rock. 

seriously. teacups everywhere. i use them for everything - candles, laundry token-holders, candy dishes... this one was a gift from a dear friend when we moved in, and the pink doily belonged to my great grandmother.
seashells that i brought home from my adventure living on a boat in the fiji islands. (yes, i know now that it's naughty to take shells home... i was younger and ignorant-er at the time.)

ahhhh, my photo walls. these are a labor of love, and will remain a work in progress as i frame and hang tidbits that are particularly meaningful to me. i had so much fun picking out photos and song lyrics for the black frames...

clockwise from left: - ace ventura mental institution scene. yes. - 'til i come marching home' (lyrics from one of my favourite war-time swing songs) - two old friends & coworkers wrestling on the floor of our store's office - me lined up after a long day of snowboarding with a bunch of the teenagers that became my family in new zealand - freddie mercury and roger taylor in sombreros - the pick that lars frederiksen handed me after the rancid concert last year - the lyrics to hollaback girl - a man i met on the streets of st petersburg who sold me the three most precious pieces of art from my europe adventure - splash mountain with dear girlfriends - one of my best girls and i having fun on a weekend getaway - 

clockwise-ish from top left: - a print by one of my favourite artists, lora zombie - a skateboard that was a gift from the king of kings skate ministry family after a two week skatepark tour together around new zealand - the t-shirt i bought the first time i saw my all-time favourite band - broken skateboard artwork made just for me - my name patch from the days i was a roller derby referee - a poster from the aforementioned favourite band's concert - the movie poster from a dear friend's premiere and farewell - a print from my friend and tattooist antony von ratcorpse

and now, the pièce de résistance: my princess bed. i'm a bed person. i've always been more of a bedroom-dweller - i have to remind myself that i now have a living room, and i can hang out there too. i put a lot of time into creating my canopy out of tulle and organza, weaving in three strings of fairy lights, and hanging the perfect white floral pomander just so.... and i am so happy with the result. my parents gave me the bed frame for christmas, and with my box spring it's high enough off the ground that i actually have to climb up into it. i am happy to report that my bed haven has been tested and approved for one of my favourite pastimes: bed pizza. 

that concludes the virtual tour... come on over in real life next time :) you're always welcome! 

gratitude cafe

26 April 2014

this week i am thankful for... 

- a modern hymn that spoke straight to my heart this week. 'put no trust in the earth...' thank you. - new hair! - delicious food and great company on our wee road trip to calgary - spring grass finally sprouting - banana nutella muffins. yes. - i love this face, even when it's hidden - 
the last little while has been a bit busy and stressful, and i have found myself stopping to give thanks so often - it's a little respite in the middle of runaway-train thoughts. other things i have been thankful for this week: a dear friend's birthday; my freaking awesome landlady; lots of family time over easter weekend; a thought-provoking book written by a dear friend; queen; a lovely coffee date with trish the awesome; nice enough weather to run outside...

have i ever mentioned that i love the internet?! yes, yes i think i have. regardless, here are some gems i've found around the place lately:

- clothes for kids that are both entirely ethical and just a little bit punk rock.
- a photographic exploration of america's rockabilly culture
- an amazeballs t-shirt design that only edmontonians will understand
- the ever-inspiring questlove started a series with venture magazine... i want to read everything this guy ever writes! his work is hella musically motivating and thought-provoking
- on leaving behind the stones...
- i made these muffins, minus the blueberries, plus the nutella, and they were glorious
- a new favourite the voice audition (yes, i have many) - a must-watch, via Sarah

alright, that's it from me - what are YOU thankful for?

get lost: things to do on a whirlwind trip to calgary - part one.

24 April 2014

last weekend, we hopped in the car for a whirlwind trip to see our southern neighbors. the gentleman caller works for a television show that received a plethora of nominations at our provincial film awards, so we packed our fanciest clothes, consulted our compass, and got on the queen elizabeth highway full sails to calgary. and by compass i mean google maps. naturally. 

our tickets and yes, my matching nails because awesome. a little snow for the road.

upon arrival in calgary, we headed straight for the fine diner. i had done a bit of research before the trip, and aspired to eat only at restaurants featured on you gotta eat here - one of my favourite food network offerings. this classy little cafe boasts a menu full of local, organic ingredients and friendly, fun staff. we met my dear friends holly and jake in the waiting area (which was a nice consideration, because who likes standing cramped in the doorway, or hovering so close to patrons they can't carry on conversation over the sound of your growling stomach? yeah. not me. plus... waiting room = coffee!). the menu details a 'mealshare' program, where you purchase one of the specified menu items for yourself, and the fine diner donates a meal to a charity benefiting calgary's homeless.

ryan enjoyed a stuffed brioche french toast, which was just as decadent as it sounds. even though it was brunch, i couldn't resist the sound of a wild mushroom and spinach mac and cheese made with truffle oil. oh yes, it was glorious. if you're in calgary, definitely go check out the fine diner

with full bellies, we headed to our accommodation, which was almost exactly in the middle of the city. my room was on the twelfth floor, with a great view of stephen avenue - which we explored later on. we stayed at the hyatt regency hotel, and, to quote ferris bueller, 'it is so choice. if you have the means, i highly recommend it'.

obligatory calgary tower photo... 

after an afternoon of wandering around downtown, we went back to the hotel to sharpen up for the awards ceremony. i donned my new dress from mars & venus (my favourite!), and my pearls (also favourite), and we walked arm and arm down to the awards ceremony.

fix up, look sharp!

bad picture, but the awards were hosted by comedian shawn cullen - he was pure gold. 

28 in music.

15 April 2014

how freaking awesome was my birthday cake? 

it's that time of year again... i just turned 29! last year i really enjoyed recounting all of my favourite music discoveries of the previous year, so i decided to do the same this year. new finds, re-kindling of old loves, and plenty of positively pleasurable musical finds: here are my top 28 musical picks for my 28th year. (click here to read 2013's list)

regina spektor - photo by c.j. on flickr

- i can't help but love a woman who kills it musically, even when she's singing about seemingly mundane things. i mean, she makes finding someone's wallet and returning it to blockbuster sound like poetry! regina spektor is quirky, clever and absolutely one of a kind. 

- we all have albums that transport us back to a certain place in time - passenger's all of the lights album will forever remind me of driving around new zealand with ryan. i discovered passenger after watching him perform no diggity with ed sheeran, bought his album within minutes of first hearing his voice, and then it became our go-to driving music for our new zealand adventure. his lyrics are heart-squeezingly beautiful - my favourite song is holes. no really, you must listen. another road trip staple was canadian newcomers highs - perfect for cruisey summer days.

- shooting stars is an old kiwi band that my dear friend kim introduced me to. i rediscovered them during a stressful week this year and was reminded how soothing they are to the soul. i also rediscovered mutemath, and relive 2007 every time i listen to them. my final rediscovery this year was the sweet, poetic evolve by bosc.

- it's no secret that i love me some motown-ey soul-ey goodness, here are this years faves: sam cooke, otis redding and blind willie johnson. i've been fascinated by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of cooke and redding - both died at the height of their musical careers and had numerous posthumous hits. redding's iconic song, sitting on the dock of the bay was recorded only 3 days before his death.

- i unironically love cheesy 80s love ballads. like, my roommate has banned me from playing meatloaf's bat out of hell record at home when she's there... because that is a thing that i would do every day if these boundaries were not in place. chicago's you're the inspiration is the cheese choice of this year.

the tallest man on earth - photo by bjorn geisenbauer on flickr

and i'm just a shadow of your thoughts in me
but sun is setting, shadow's growing
a long cast figure will turn into night
it's like nothing in this world ever sleeps... 

- i finally caved and checked out the tallest man on earth. i had hesitated because i was convinced that he was a cool-kid trend. he's not. he's awesome. other awesomesauce folk artists i've become enamoured by this year include brett dennen, holley maher, michael bernard fitzgerald, and jake bugg (that voice! and he's just a kid!).

- i discovered c2c last year, and was immediately impressed by their infectious song, happy and it's grin-inducing dance-r-ific video. i did a little reading and found out that c2c is actually made up of four DJs, which is not only fascinating in terms of music production, but actually mind-blowing when you think of the talent and teamwork required to perform together live.

- the only rival for c2c's happy, in terms of danceability is of course, pharrell's happy. a lot of days, i tune in to his 24-hour music video while i'm getting ready in the morning to get me amped for my day. it works!

- one of the most beautiful music videos of the year, definitely goes to a track released mysteriously, named simply 'glowing', with no artist specified. the tender, poignant video was produced by rapper tyler the creator, and the sweet song made its way into my heart to stay.

- speaking of videos, there's just something about this almost one-shot video for anna kendrick's cups (when i'm gone) from pitch perfect. and i must not be the only one who thinks so - 123 million views, yo!

- listen. i LOVE weird al yankovic. no shame. a dear friend bought me tickets to go see him for my 28th birthday, and it was the best ever. life is waaaay too short to take myself so seriously all the time (and i am at risk of that!). so just sing along to 'eat it' at the top of your lungs with me, alright? 

- i went to some unforgettable shows last year. the top of the list, hands down, was rancid. their music has held a sweet spot in my heart for years, and now i can't help but grin when they pop up on shuffle... every time i hear them i now it takes me back to singing at the top of the lungs with tim armstrong himself. argh. i still... can't. even. other live shows in a nutshell: the glenn miller orchestra was classy, macklemore was a sweaty riot, weezer was nostalgia central, blink 182 was the realization of teenage dreams, and passion pit's impromptu dj set inspired me.

- my two most recent discoveries, which have made their way into regular rotation are bastille and mat kearney, and yes, i realize that i am a wee bit late to the party on both accounts! both are awesome, and keep me smiling and singing while on my writing grind.

phew! that's 28! how about you? i'm always down for music suggestions. what's your latest musical discovery?!

gratitude cafe

11 April 2014

lately i've been thankful for...
opportunities to create lovely images with lovely ladies - game of thrones is back! omgomgomgomg! - a date with two of my favourite people - a very 'stacey' cake, compliments of my sweet roommate - watching one of my oldest friends kill it at a battle rap competition - getting my beloved guitar back up and strumming (this was one of the priority items for me to retrieve from new zealand) - froyo because yolo with my man - running with a view... winter is almost over! - 

it's been too long! april has been busy and lively and fun. i took a leap into something i've been plotting for a while (more soon!), and i truly hit the ground running. i've had some super inspiring coffee dates with a new friend with whom i have a creepy amount in common, and am amped to keep kicking ass in 2014. the internet has been full of gems lately - check out some of these links!

- on being re-inspired to push your limits, to make yourself proud.

'- i had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy, but a flower couldn't help but bloom inside of me..." an absolute must-watch video on beauty. for more, this is a fantastic supplementary read for more of the buzz around Lupita.

- for the writers: just write. seriously. every day.

- holy resources, batman!

this is about to happen to my favourite five iron t-shirt from yesteryear.

- total cello badassery.

- this woman knows how to make even a blog post sexy... oh! and it's a post about music. yes.

- this romantic and heartwarming video is making the rounds...

- and this video will remind you how simple and beautiful life really is...

i've been reading so.much.stuff on blogging and business while trying to brainstorm for some next steps, and i've found some pure gold...

- first of all, sign up for sarah von bargen's small business newsletter - it comes with two e-books chalk-a-block full of advice and resources. GOLD.

- through the e-books above i've tuned in to some great new voices. i don't normally listen to podcasts, but shenee's all-caps-excited audio Q&A was just what i needed to hear.

find anything good on the internet lately? more importantly, what are YOU thankful for?!

grief & writing: guest post

28 March 2014


'it feels like wilting flowers, a child lost in a throng of strangers, and a raft adrift at sea, beyond any hope of reaching the shore. in conversation, smilies feel dramatic, but ‘it hurts’ is tragically insufficient...'

read the rest of my guest post over at danerickson.net

life is short.

26 March 2014

this will be available as a print in my etsy shop soon...

life is short.

this is a reality. 

this reality should inform your decisions, at least in part. 

stop doing things out of obligation.

take some risks.

cut things out that don't add to your life. 

quit wasting affections on people that don't reciprocate. 

and for goodness sake, stop trying to be cool. 

through loss and change and watching the calendar pages flip by at speeds indiscernible by the human eye, i have become acutely aware of the brevity of my days. i know, i know. it sounds like i am being unnecessarily dramatic - i, too, have heard the 'what would happen to you if you die tonight' sermon at youth group, and i promise you: that is not where i am headed with this. (i will say, however, that the pithy number of our days gives reason to make spirituality a priority.) 

where i am headed pertains more to the places we expend our energy, and the risks we do and do not take. if you knew that you had a very limited amount of hours to complete your life's work, to leave a legacy, and to become the person you want to be, what would you change the way you spend your time?

here's the reality - you do have a very limited amount of hours, all things considered. 

if that is the case, then why, oh why are you still at that job you hate? what are you waiting for before planning that round the world trip? how much space in your heart is occupied by people who aren't returning your affections? whose style are you so worried about emulating that you've practically forgotten what it looks like to just do you?

it is waaaay easier said than done to kick all these preoccupations to the curb - especially the ones that we cling to because we lack the confidence or self-respect to leave them behind…but the hard work is worth it. set some precious hours aside to ask yourself what your ideal life would look like, and identify what you need to do to get there. be honest. i'd hedge bets that vital steps forward don't include spending copius amounts of time watching reruns of gilmore girls. they might include more difficult things like seeking out counselling, or dropping some commitments that fill your calendar but not your heart and soul. 

figure out what it looks like to just do you. then do that. and do it now. 

because life. is. short. 


25 March 2014

i finally got connected with bloglovin - come on over and follow me there!

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musical discovery: postmodern jukebox

24 March 2014

guys... GUYS.

today i discovered postmodern jukebox.

if you've been around here for a while, you'll know that i love old music, i love pop music, and i love covers. postmodern jukebox's latest release was a big band/swing cover of beyonce's drunk in love. YES. yes... yes.

other covers include a 50s doo-wop version of miley cyrus' we can't stop, a bluegrass blurred lines and numerous motown renditions of nickleback songs.

the curator of these clever re-thinkings is jazz pianist scott bradlee, a self-proclaimed 'devils advocate' for the artistic merit of pop songs, and king of the ragtime piano mashup.

here's my favourite postmodern jukebox video. don't let this be the only video you watch, though - hop on over to their youtube channel and find the mariachi version of avicii's wake me up or the 1930s version of weezer's hash pipe. pure. awesome. 

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