By Valerie Siebert
As your friendly neighbourhood spider-man of the Toronto art scene, new online talk-show Late Night in the Bedroom is out there promoting the people behind the art you view in the galleries, music you hear wafting from dingy basements, and theatre shows with those entrances that take detailed maps in order to find. With the goal of being thorough in their support, this for-the-artists-by-the-artists program casts webs across tight-knit art communities and pulls together into one room all players from all mediums.
The show is shot once per month in differing art-venues around Toronto and features a live audience. The show is also in possession of serious Toronto art-cred as it is in association with the Whippersnapper Gallery and has a few very illustrious artists on its staff roster. They will be filming their seventh episode Friday, Jan. 29th at the Show and Tell Gallery at 1161 Dundas St. West at 9pm and will air it on their website shortly thereafter. The Gallery is a storefront-style venue so people passing by on the street will be able to check out the action in-progress.
When I swung by their Spadina HQ, they had been spending the evening recording their personal spots and statements about the show for the website, so I was lucky to catch them all in very, very, VERY chatty moods. Without further ado; introducing (some of) the creators of Late Night in the Bedroom.
Carey Wass: Host – Though an actor by trade, Carey bears all the features of a late night pro with his innate wit & repartee and commanding voice, but also brings his style into the locality of the show by mixing a bit of TO hipster-chic with rugged Canadian good-looks (he rocks some seriously impressive “what!?-yeah-I-wrestled-that-bear” stubble). Also, ladies, he is “aggressively single”… whatever that means…
Joshua Barndt: Producer – Soft spoken and humble, Joshua is a well known man-about-town in the artistic community; as well as being an artist himself by day (with pieces ranging from installation, animation, and painting) he also has a understanding of and commitment to the communal “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mantra of a healthy and thriving arts community.
Jessie Hayes and Chris Altorf: Directors of Photography (also directors of the Whippersnapper Gallery) – By all accounts, these two masters of media (known collectively as “Istoica”) are integral to the overall quality of Late Night in the Bedroom. As senior members in a separate production company, they are the bringers of the means of production in terms of technical support, knowledge, equipment, space; pretty much, without them, the show would likely look and sound like a pile of crap.
Adrian Dilena: Umm… Everything? – Adrian is the title-less wonder boy of Late Night in the Bedroom; performing a myriad of tasks (including, shooting, editing and set building), much of which he learns by doing. He too is an artist, with his own studio, but pays the bills in a kitchen. He wears a pretty sweet toque.
How it began…
Carey: I was the person who actually pitched the idea initially to Josh at a house party. It was mostly an idea because we had so many friends in the arts. We might have had a few in us… and when I pitched the idea to him, he literally just walked into the middle of the room and said “Hey guys! We’re going to do a late night talk show!”
Adrian: How did I get involved?… I just showed up!
Joshua: Carey suggested we do a talk show with a late night/live audience format to bring together artists from different mediums; dancers, artists, musicians, people in theatre and other formats to discuss their work. I said “great idea!” and then right there proposed it to everyone and they were like “yeah!”, and by the next Wednesday we had our first show!
Carey: It was… not good…
Chris: Josh called me up one day and says “we’re going to do a late night talk show” and we kind of said “uh.. great… ok!… How are you going to do that?”
Jessie: Chris and I knew Josh from the Whippersnapper Gallery and he and Carey just mentioned to us that they were trying to run this show and they had done an episode, but that the quality of the filming just wasn’t there. They had no idea that it would be such a big job to shoot it and edit it and all that.
Chris: They showed us the first episode and quality was just horrible, like you couldn’t hear what people were saying and it was all dark…
Jessie: Chris and I work at this studio in film production so we knew that we could access all this space and equipment so we just sort of volunteered ourselves. At first we just said “oh yeah we’ll come by and film your… show…”, but after we got there we realized what an amazing project it was and we ended up becoming core to it.
Adrian: I was involved with Whippersnapper Gallery for, like, 5 years so I knew everyone from there. We just figured we needed to get people excited; and why should we wait for someone to give us the opportunity to do so, when we could just do it ourselves?
Carey: The first live audience was actually kind of funny, at least the way I like to think of it. When we came to shoot the first episode, our friend Joshua was recently single…
Joshua: The first show, we invited everyone we knew, just a random bunch of people really.
Carey: …and that first live audience had the most spectacular looking women that I had ever seen!
Joshua: I just sent out a mass email and filled the audience with about 40 people.
Carey: I directly link that to Josh being single and him releasing a mass email that had people coming who knew he was single. I’m serious! It was mainly made up of girls who were seeking Josh’s attention.
Joshua: The first episode was actually shot in my apartment, in my living room; it’s where we got the name, but “Late Night in the Living Room” wasn’t as interesting so we decided to make it a little sexy. We had 40 people crammed to my apartment, my living room and my kitchen. We had a band set up in my kitchen and Kerry and all the equipment.
Meeting and deciding on guests
Carey: We meet about once a week as a group, but, we’re kind of like a band in that I see the members outside the meetings a lot and we hangout and exchange ideas for the show, but once a week we have our “Jams”.
Joshua: At first it started off with who we wanted to have. I knew a few people who wanted to get out there, were dynamic individuals, and could speak well and always had good work. One stipulation we made was that they also wanted to do this as a career because we want to support that.
Carey: One time we made the mistake of saying guests were ‘serious artists’, but then someone pointed out, how the hell can you tell if they’re serious or not? So, we changed the phrasing and now it’s this: we want to help people who not only deserve the help because they’ve been around so long or putting in so much time and effort, but also people who are 110% into adding to the artistic community, because, the more engaged they are, the more engaging they’ll be. We also try to pick artists that we ourselves are fans of.
Adrian: Picking the guests can sometimes result in fights between us, especially at the beginning. But as the show has progressed we have become better at agreeing on it.
Jessie: People in the team propose artists that they like or people on Youtube etc, and say “oh we should get them” then as a group we look at that artist; make sure they have focus and are legitimate. One thing we shy away from is when someone just says “this person is really cool”, and yeah, they may be cool, but they aren’t presently engaged in a project. There needs to be a news angle in a way; the artist needs to be putting energy into supporting themselves and working on something timely.
Carey: We should do a show on vampires!
Joshua: It’s less of an interview or audition and more like “Hey! We really like you! Be on our show! It would be awesome”, we don’t pretend like we’re big shots or anything.
Jessie: We want to give artists a platform to express who they are; to give people an idea of the person behind the artwork.
Joshua: I’ve always felt, and I discover it more every show we do, that there are interesting personalities behind all of those artworks and giving exposure to those personalities and back stories really contributes to appreciating the artwork. It’s why celebrities are successful and continue to be successful because people get to know where they’re coming from and then it’s easier to get into what they do.
The Future of Late Night in the Bedroom
Jessie: Our main focus is the arts community and so really what I hope for is just to get more people watching because that’s the whole point. If no one watches the show then we can’t say we promote artists. A bigger budget would be nice, I mean, we talk about putting out posters and things, but at the same time, it’s all out of pocket.
Carey: I would love to see it on TV one day in some way shape or form, but I feel that the future is in online audiences. We have support through blogto, but as for commercials, we haven’t been approached yet and we don’t know how to go about approaching it so we’ll see what happens.
Joshua: I think looking towards it becoming lucrative is not very productive. It would be great if people could be compensated for their time and it would allow us to do a better show as we wouldn’t have to work with the stress of our full time jobs and not have to borrow all our equipment. But really we just want to get our show out there to people who are interested in seeing it and these artists. For example, we had this singer on our third episode named Tim Moxam, he’s a singer/songwriter, and not that well known in Toronto (more so in Montreal), and we found out a week later that he had played a new song on our show for the first time, but at his gig there were people singing along. The only way they could have heard it was if they’d watched our show, and that sort of thing is really satisfying.
From Torontonian to Canadian: Expanding
Joshua: It has mostly been Toronto based, but that’s mostly just been convenient, being very local. Of course, part of it is fostering and continuing to contribute to an active and exciting community here. We all exist as artists here and we want there to be energy and creating the show helps to spread it. Energy is contagious.
Carey: It is Toronto based for the most part, but we’d love to grow across Canada. Josh has mentioned the idea of a cross country tour, which I love, because I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar since I was a little kid. This would be the closest thing I will get to going on the road like one. So look out for it: Late Night in the Bedroom: The Road Tour.
Adrian: Well… only one of us has a driver’s license.
Jessie: We’ve talked about doing a tour, but we don’t want to say that we’re bigger than what our means are. At the same time we don’t want to be boxed in, or exclude anyone; we’re still trying to figure out what our show’s all about.
Joshua: We’re thinking in the summer we might rent a van and go to a few cities, we love focusing on local Toronto artists, but I think it would be great to get out there and make some connections with other groups doing similar things in other cities. Artists generally can’t survive in only one city, there’s a necessity to move around and gain a bigger audience.
Setting LNB apart from other talk shows
Carey: I’m always the first to admit when people ask “well isn’t it just a talk show?” that yes, it is just a talk show, the format is far from groundbreaking. Talk shows have been around since TV was invented. We’re not trying to break ground there, but rather innovate it, turn it on its head and be creative with it; show people that you actually can execute an almost Wayne’s World type of talk show. Yeah, like Wayne’s World, except more sober… I think. It’s like a sporting event; I can’t wait to go toe to toe!
Jessie: Something that sets us apart in terms of format is that we aren’t about soundbytes. Often on late night talk shows guests go on with specific stories they want to tell; they have a pitch basically with which to advertise their product. We do want to get the stories out and to promote, but we really try to make things more conversational. More than just anecdotes.
Joshua: The next show will be pretty exciting because it’s the first time we’ll be really exposed to the public, because it’s at a storefront so people walking by will be able to see it, while with the other episodes, you would only be able to see it if you already knew where to find it. We have a band called Everything All the Time, they’re a local, pop, indie, dance group with an amazing vocalist who’s really soulful. Carey is so excited, crazy excited because we have the two key people from the online show Nirvana the Band the Show on the next episode
Carey: Next show we have Nirvana the Band the Show and we’re kind of their unofficial fan club.
Joshua: We all really like them, but Carey’s like their biggest fan.
Carey: One of the best, if not the best online show.
Joshua: He’s obsessed!
Carey: The fact that it hasn’t been picked up by a major network shocks me.
Adrian: It’s awesome; about two guys who shoot their show out of their apartment and they’re in a band and trying to get a gig at the Rivoli, which is just down the street from them. They are hilarious; you’ve got to check them out.
Chris: It’s sort of like Arrested Development, but now. It’s hilarious and SO well scripted.
Joshua: And our visual arts guest is a collective called Team Macho. It’s five guys and they do really funny, punchy, raunchy illustration work. They have this really aesthetic and random approach to creation where they work on each other’s work and on top of each other, really cool stuff. They call the collective Team Macho, but present themselves in a way that is opposite to that; rather they are a bunch of effeminate, hilarious, ironic dudes.
Carey: Team Macho; my favourite work by them is a portrait of Freddie Mercury… with the ‘stache.
Jessie: I’m interested in seeing Team Macho because, as a collective, they don’t individually sign their pieces. Chris and I had the privilege of photographing them, so we met them briefly, and what really struck me is how they seem to have their own little network and for us that’s interesting to see how another group deals with their internal dynamics.
Chris: Jessie and I met Team Macho before and they were just SO cool. The sort of people you meet and just think “I want to be around you”.