Creativity is a human concept that never seems to become old, overused or cliché. Built from the root word “create,” it points to the ability to bring something into existence or produce through imaginative skill. Creativity, for me, means being able to make something from nothing. Just the mention of the word fires up my imagination, liberates me from whatever constraints I might have imposed on myself or, rather, that might have been imposed on me. The idea of creating something is experimenting with new ideas, materials, styles, formations, viewpoints, dimensions, place. But this does not happen without structure or context. Creativity is marrying freedom with form, like harnessing the birdlike, ethereal nature of melody within a rhythm, tonality, harmony and/or song. I consider it an essential aspect of life, up there with water, food, sleep and belonging.
Angelenos express their creativity in unique and powerful ways. There appears to be no limit to what residents of this city can achieve, and the vast, beautiful landscape that is Los Angeles occurs like a blank canvas for people who populate here. From its settling by the multi-ethnic coalition of “Los Pobladores” in the late 1700s to the present mecca of commerce and global community, the city and its diverse make-up enjoy resources such as temperate climate, lush desert-to-sea expanse, flora and fauna, historic neighborhoods, convening spaces, edifices, restaurants, global media and other elements. Within this environment Angelenos express their identity through a myriad of modalities: family, religion, politics, entrepreneurship, farming, education, art, collections, cuisine, sports, fitness, bodily adornments, fashion, vehicles, machinery, art, dance, music, sexuality, professionalization, consumption and innovation. I am amazed at the current reclaiming of indigenous land, culture and practice, the activation of non-traditional, hidden and forgotten spaces, youth movements, public art, the demands for human rights and systemic reform, and local expressions of creativity and community in virtual realms.
Musicians Kibrom and Etsegenet are a husband and wife team from Ethiopia who live in Pasadena and are fast becoming staples of the L.A. music community. Kibrom performs in multiple local bands including Ethio Cali, Nsimbi, Wondem Band while Tsegenet was recently featured in the Broad Stage's Musical Explorers series. Together they do an endearing combination of spiritual, improvisational and indigenous songs referencing their African homeland, but the two musicians got married here and have established their love in and for Los Angeles.
Thalma de Freitas is a multidisciplinary artist, performer and composer, known as a household name in the Brazilian contemporary cultural scene. She’s a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter of samba-jazz and afro-brazilian folk, a popular darling of her generation known for charismatic performances and dazzling personality. Discocanto is Thalma's DJ set and radio show at Dublab.
Hailing from New Zealand, internationally acclaimed musician Mark de Clive-Lowe spent over ten years as a pioneer in the UK underground house scene and makes a living traveling to all corners of the globe. However, what makes Mark unique is his grounding in the current Los Angeles scene as a producer, bandleader and recording artist. His latest releases Heritage I and II showcase a veteran coming-full-circle to his roots as a hāfu (half-Japanese) composer and jazz virtuoso.
Dexter Story is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, music director, producer and music industry creative based in Los Angeles. Story currently consults as Artivist in Residence / Event Producer at Community Coalition of South Los Angeles, a community organizing and advocacy non-profit and he is a 2017-2019 cohort with the APAP USC Leadership Fellows Program. As a recent M.A. graduate from UCLA’s African Studies department, Story recently released an acclaimed East Africa-influenced album entitled Bahir on Soundway Records, and he is entering the Ethnomusicology PhD program at UCLA Fall 2019 as a 4-year Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. Story ultimately plans to write, lecture and research at the university level, and release derivative recordings that support his academic research.