Archive for the ‘YouNxt Interviews’ Category

Photo: Jensen Gifford

There is popular music and unforgettable music. O&AL belong in the latter category.

An acronym for Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, O&AL is a London, Ontario band fronted by singer/songwriter Olenka Krakus and members Sara Froese, Evan Brodie, Christian Hegele, Simon Larochette,  Jeff Moon and Kelly Wallraff.

Influenced by her Polish roots and Canadian upbringing, Olenka delivers songs that resonate with passion. The songs don’t just play for you, they speak to you. And many of them relate specifically to her Polish heritage, especially her memories of Communist Poland and the country’s folklore.

Olenka Krakus Photo: Rob Nelson

Supported by a mix of instruments such as the cello, violin, accordion, trumpet, saxophone, lap steel, mandolin and glockenspiel the music resonates with an eclectic mix of traditional Eastern European ballads and North American country and folk tunes.

It’s a sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire, Cat Power, Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello but which manages to exist entirely on its own.

When Olenka and her band recently played at Toronto’s Gladstone hotel (as part of the NXNE festival) the crowd gave them a rousing ovation. And rightfully so.

Here is a taste…

It’s the sort of music that you can listen to over and over again and with every listen it creates a deeper impression.

The band’s newest album And Now We Sing is packed with memorable songs. It’s really worth checking out.

"And Now We Sing" album cover by Patrick Schmidt

"Motel Blues" lyrics

The band is also set to play a string of shows later this summer and fall so, if you get an opportunity, make sure to go. The truly great thing about small concert gigs is that they are so intimate and the bands always give it all they’ve got.

In the meantime you can listen to some of the tunes online on the CBC Radio 3 website.

And have a look at this interview that we conducted with Olenka during her NXNE show.


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Polish Cinematographers are some of the most skilled and highly regarded filmmakers in the world. At the top of the list is Janusz Kaminski , the two-time Oscar winner, who has photographed all of Steven Spielberg’s films since 1993’s Schindler’s List.

Determined to eventually reach that level is Montreal raised Pawel Pogorzelski. Here is his profile…

Name: Pawel Pogorzelski

Age: 31

Education: MFA Cinematography American Film Institute (AFI)

Profession: Cinematographer

Location: Los Angeles/Montreal

What are you working on now? Participating in an internship with world-renowned Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Brokeback Mountain, Alexander) on a new film starring Twilight’s Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon called Water for Elephants.

How did you get into filmmaking? I was studying sciences in CEGEP (post-secondary education system in Quebec) and hated it. I took a photography class as one of my alternative classes and fell in love with it. One day I saw La Haine and Baraka and I knew I wanted to change from still photographs to moving images.

What drives you in your work? Storytelling — I’m driven to create cinematic moods that evokes emotional responses. I love creative collaborations with people who can enhance my work. Also, I’m fuelled by the adrenaline and challenge of being on a film set; meticulously working on one lighting setup at a time, knowing, that there is never enough time to get everything done but finding solutions to make it happen anyway.  

What are your future plans? Working professionally as a Cinematographer on films that are meaningful to me (fictional or documentary) and shooting my first studio feature film.

Major Accomplishments: I’ve received two “achievement scholarships” from AFI. The internship with Rodrigo Prieto was a huge deal for me.  Also, my thesis film The Strange Thing about the Johnsons was selected for the Slamdance festival as well as the AFI Showcase one month after completion.

What little things in life do you enjoy the most? Good food, good wine and great company.

Favourite TV Show: Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire

Why are your Polish roots important to you? Even though, I was raised in Montreal, I believe that my Polish roots are a big part of who I am and are reflected in my work.

Pawel Pogorzelski in his own words…

Moving to Los Angeles was a rather interesting decision.

That summer, in Montreal, I was offered a job on a Television Show, which would have given me work for six months and great money. But, I also got into the American Film Institute (AFI), where I could pursue my dream of shooting movies. The money was really compelling and working with friends for six months would be great. On the other hand, the unknown possibilities, the allure of Los Angeles (the Mecca of filmmaking) as well as the AFI, the warm weather and most of all, the chance to develop my career as a Cinematographer ultimately won me over.

…(Los Angeles) does not compare to Montreal. I realize now that Montreal is not that big of a city. For our business, LA is definitely a good place to be. You are surrounded by film and entertainment. The office of Technicolor, the headquarters of Panavision and KINO, massive film studios – they’re all here. It’s impressive!!! It’s a great motivator to know that the dream is close and accessible.

However, the films I am interested in making are far from what Hollywood has to offer. I love filmmakers like Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick and such recent films as Revanche, Thirst, Enter the Void and Summer Hours, which are not Hollywood Blockbusters. Despite this, it feels good to be here and to learn by being in the right place and meeting interesting people.

…you never know who you are about to meet here. There are genuinely great people and those that talk themselves up. I learned to take everything with a grain of salt. What is interesting is the dichotomy of the population. The mega rich live among the mega poor. A lot of crazy, interesting and challenged people walk along these streets.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto

…working with and learning from Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto was something I never imagined. It was great watching a Hollywood blockbuster being made and realizing that it is not much different from the work we do on student films. The big difference is that everyone is at the top of their game. Rodrigo is one hell of a talented cinematographer. It was great to see him work and understand the lighting decisions he was making. It was an inspiring experience.

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Ania Boniecka of Aniab.net

We first stumbled upon Ania Boniecka in the latest issue of Canada’s famed fashion magazine Flare (check out our original post here). At that time, the Calgary based model and fashion blogger (behind  Aniab.net) was just about to depart for New York City to attend an exciting fashion bloggers conference happening amidst the hustle and bustle of NY Fashion Week.

We caught up with her after the fact to get her impressions about the event as well as to find out how she ended up getting into modeling and blogging in the first place.

Check out our interview with Ania below. And as always, we’d love to hear from you, so please  leave a comment.  

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