Last April, Toronto was blessed with a visit from a very special person. She came over from Europe and graced us with her charming personality and beautiful music. Here at the Lomography Gallery Store Toronto we were fortunate to have Marike Jager from the Netherlands play for us. Read about her firsthand visit to the Great White North after the jump!
Hello Lomo amigos on the other side of the ocean!
My name is Marike Jager, I’m a Lomo Amigo from the Netherlands. I’m a musician/songwriter with a huge passion for analogue. Furthermore I like growing cayenne peppers, playing Gretsch guitars, listening to vinyl and drinking either good coffee or Argentinian wine (preferably aged in wood). I enjoy listening to the sounds of the night and I love running because I’m always in a hurry.
Recently I visited Toronto with my La Sardina camera. Here’s my story:
Early April and still no sign of Spring in Toronto?!!? Well, I couldn’t be bothered. It was my first visit and I immediately fell in love with this vibrant city. I just loved wandering around in the snow in my retro Bulgarian woolen coat, strolling down the colourful Queen Street West or gazing at the skyscrapers at Bay Street. I was on my own. The trip was an adventure, a challenge. I relished each moment, though I also had my dark days. But trust me, I’ve learned to embrace those moments as well.
So here I was. I’d taken my guitar, my wooden sword and my smile…my heart, my confidence and my optimism. Really, what else would you need in a big city? But of course! My Lomo camera! Just because it’s so much fun to walk around anonymously in a big city and shoot from the hip every now and then, ha! Also, Lomo taught me to be patient and to become overexcited while waiting for the films to develop. To me, this is the perfect recipe for growing older, but never growing up ;)
I spent my first days in a dodgy hostel and due to the lack of space I adored my bunk bed. It was my space, my personal area and my castle. Fortunately, I decided to move out and that’s when I happened upon the amazing Planet Traveler hostel. Imagine a clean (!) hostel with a great, funny and caring crew. Imagine free bananas at breakfast and a very committed owner who personally fries burgers on the rooftop (outside temperature 7 degrees!) for all travelers. Surrounded by newly found friends and a comforting haven, I turned my attention to the city, bouncing on my favourite pink sneakers.
Being a musician and songwriter, I’ve always been inspired by Canadian artists like Feist, Ron Sexsmith and Patrick Watson. This was one of my main reasons to visit Toronto. This city produces great music. How would I experience it? Would it influence my writing?
The street life, the food, the sounds, the energy, the nights. I couldn’t believe how much was happening. Compared to Amsterdam your live scene is huge! There’s music in every corner. So I went to see the famous glitter backdrop in the Horseshoe Tavern and the charming little Piston bar and came across the beautiful Randolph Theatre and the Cameron House. I played at the open mic at the Supermarket, thrilled to become part of the rhythm of my surroundings. I also met lots of musicians and did some co-writing with songwriters and producers.
Far away from home I was determined to organize my first gig in Canada. And I found the perfect venue: the Lomography Gallery Store Toronto. Since I’ve been a Lomo Amigo for quite some time in Holland I was looking for some Lomo activity in Toronto. And fortunately I found the store and its enthusiastic employees! Always in for something exciting and analogue, we immediately made plans for an acoustic in-store concert. Few days later I played my songs in front of my ‘new Torontonian friends’ in the middle of the Lomo store. It was a beautiful, intimate session and my first Canadian gig so I was proud as can be.
At last…there she was! The sun came out and Toronto started to blossom immediately. Yes it was still cold, but the whole city came out of its cave and was out there on the streets, celebrating the start of Spring (finally!). The beautiful street art and graffiti hit me even more. The industrial buildings, the fresh fruit at Kensington market, the mix of cultures, the city was smiling. People were having coffee at the side-walk, croissants in the park, fresh fish on barbecues, wearing skirts, funky sunglasses, live music on the streets, it was just an overload of vivid energy and creativity out there! Meanwhile this was just a first, subtle burst…..I was trying to imagine what summer would bring. Oh my…
Meanwhile I’m back in Holland, strumming my guitar and working on my new album. Still got my pictures as a memory.
Toronto, thank you for the inspiration and adventures. You’re one of a kind.