Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Carrie Gates

photo, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

photo, intro by Jennifer Sparrowhawk

As a kid growing up in small town Saskatchewan, one of my most cherished life lines to the outside world was magazines. My favourite was Sassy. Where other teen mags guided readers in discovering the most abhorrent details of their appearance (you MUST hate something about yourself) and then kindly offered solutions to “fix” them (usually involving dieting, or buying cosmetics), Sassy started conversations with questions like “Do you need armpit hair to be a feminist?” And “WHY are you dieting?”. It was stylish and fun and smart and it didn’t condescend. It encouraged girls to think for themselves, not be afraid to be different, while providing helpful insight to teenage issues.

I didn’t know any other Sassy readers in my town and I dreamed that when I finally moved to a city I’d meet lots of friends who embody this ‘Sassy-ness’, and I have. One of the first I met upon moving here was the Sassy-est of all, Carrie Gates.

KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?

Right now, I’m preparing to go to Winnipeg for next weekend’s MEME Festival, where I will be headline VJing on Saturday night with Jaymez, as well as on Sunday night by myself. I just got back from the Motion Notion Festival in BC a few days ago, where I also VJed on the main stage on Friday night, as I’ve done for 9 years now. While I was in BC, a three-hour VJ mix that I made earlier in the year for The Drake Hotel in Toronto was screened at the WayHome Festival in Oro-Medonte, Ontario. Earlier this year, I created a video for Lorna Mills’ projectWays of Something,” which is a video remix by 50+ artists of John Berger’s classic art history documentary Ways of Seeing.” That piece is on tour now internationally; I hope it comes to Saskatchewan soon.

Later this month, I’ll be working on a piece for Undervolt & Co, a really cool international video art label that I’m pretty honoured to be working with. There will be an article in The Creator’s Project when the video launches; so watch for that! I also have a collaboration lined up with Jason Forrest from Network Awesome that is tickling my brain. Later this year, I’ll be working with David Quiles Guilló on the website for The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale for their second installment of the biennale, which features 500+ internet based art pieces from around the world. For the last edition of The Wrong, I did two videos for Anthony Antonellis’ “Young Internet Based Artists” pavilion — one with Jon Vaughn and one with Jason Baerg and Michael Red. Jason, Michael, and I have been talking about working together on another video piece that goes deeper into narrative and symbolism. I’m also hoping to find some time to do a major update on my Pizzabook browser plugin project, which turns your facebook into an animated pizza adventure. Some people have recently been asking me to DJ again, which I haven’t done for about 10 years, but I’m considering dusting off the turntables. I’ve also got a number of electronic and noise music producers in a queue for music videos and a few locals that I’ve been talking about jamming with but I’ll work on all of that as time permits…lots going on!

KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?

I make websites, print materials, logos, and strategy plans for academics, small businesses, non-profits, music labels, and artists. I love this work because I can see how my energy makes real changes in the world around me very quickly, while the skills I learn in my design and programming practice keep me up to date with my skills in my artmaking practice, and vice versa.

What’s challenging about my day job is dealing with sexism in the tech industry. Some people don’t believe women are as competent or innovative with technology, so it is a constant and rather annoying battle having to prove yourself and be heard time and time again.

KC: What’s important to you?

Being involved in the community around me and keeping in touch with people beyond work and art engagements is key to keeping myself grounded and healthy when I am busy. Life isn’t all about work, even if I love what I do. Sometimes it is hard to stay in touch with my friends and the people I love. Taking care of my body, getting enough sleep, and eating good food are also critical if I want to function at a high level. Sometimes I have trouble with my work/art life balance . I suffer from depression if I am too busy for too long and isolate myself or if I am not connecting with the right kinds of people enough, but I’ve learned an awful lot about how to be happier and healthier this past year.

Another thing that is very important to me is being true to myself. To me, that means speaking my mind, being honest and upfront with people, and not compromising my values, personally or artistically. However, that means that not everyone will see eye to eye with me, but in the long run, I think that it is more important to be true to myself than try to please everyone. Taking risks by being bold is the only way to do radical things with your life and feel happy about the person that you are.

KC: What do you like most/least about Saskatoon?

What I love about Saskatoon is the same thing that is my least favourite aspect. It is pretty easy to get to know everyone here. I’ve lived here and been involved with the underground electronic and noise music communities, as well as the broader art scene, since 1994, and sometimes feel like I have met most of the people here that have interests in common with me…but then again, there are always new people coming and going. It is great to feel a sense of belonging, but sometimes I wish that there were more people for me to meet here that share my interests. I also sometimes wish that there were more challenges and opportunities here for people like me, but I have set my eyes on international events and collaborations to help stimulate me, and it seems to be working out pretty well. I’ll admit that I’d go insane if I couldn’t travel, but I like calling Saskatoon my home.

KC: What is your impression of Regina?

Regina has always seemed to have more of a clubby vibe than Saskatoon, in terms of electronic music. There isn’t a lot going on for noise and experimental music there, but what I have heard of happening is pretty cool, especially from Ernie Dulanowsky, Ryan Hill, and Jeff Morton (before he moved away!). As for VJing, I only know of a few people in Regina that have been working in this field. Colby Richardson is really great and definitely one to watch, and I know you have featured him before on the Kindred Cities website.

As for the art scene, it’s clear to me that Regina is where more money for the arts flows, as most of the provincial headquarters are there. I’m especially into the programming from both Neutral Ground and Queer City Cinema - they are both real jewels of Saskatchewan culture, with top-notch curators (Brenda Cleniuk and Gary Varro, respectively). I also appreciate the larger galleries’ focus on Indigenous programming. It’s about time that the spotlight gets turned towards the people whose land we live on.

KC: (from the Proust Questionnaire) What is your greatest regret?

My greatest regret is not buying property in Saskatoon in the 90s.

Elan Morgan