Creative youth playing their cards right in Scarborough

Scarborough Arts EAST Collective Logo 

There’s noise coming from the Scarborough Civic Centre chambers. The councillors are long gone. They took their bickering westward, to Nathan Phillips Square years ago.

This sound is far more melodic than debates over permits or budgets.

The chambers look much the way they did when they housed Scarborough’s city council — except now there’s a keyboard nestled in the corner. A couple of guys sit next to it, holding guitars. A few feet away, two young women perched atop a desk, harmonize. A few more guys sit in the high-top chairs near the apex of the circular desk. They’re scribbling furiously into notepads, bouncing ideas off each other.

It’s a Thursday evening meeting for EAST, a Scarborough Arts-based music and project management collective for creative youth. The room is full of talent.

Seth Dyer, better known as Epic, has been with the program for two years. He’s a confident guy, and why not? Just 19, Epic released his debut LP, Last Symphony Rehearsal, in June 2012.

Cover of Last Symphony Rehearsal, the debut LP by Epic

“I produced, mixed and mastered the entire thing,” Epic said. “I started off as a hip-hop producer. But musically, I had a lot of things that I wanted to say.”

Epic is as driven as he is articulate. Inspired by Bob Marley and a slew of 90’s hip-hop and R&B artists, he taught himself how to play piano in order to start producing beats. His ambition makes him an ideal member of the collective.

Jen Fabico is the glue that holds the group together. Her affection for the collective is only surpassed by her admiration for the young adults involved.

“I think because I’ve been doing this project for quite a while, I sort of picture them as my kids,” Fabico said. “You get to know them really well creatively and that’s such a big part of you.”

Formerly a high school teacher, Fabico said she feels very comfortable working with young people. She enjoys facilitating new experiences and opportunities for the collective members.

“I bring in resources that these guys would never have had otherwise,” she said, sporting a grin from ear to ear. “Being together with other people who are creative and intellectually fuelled and inspired is such a great environment for them to be in.”

One of the most exciting opportunities for the group is recording tracks at Phase One Studios. Mobi Mawla, a new member of the group, described his first experience at the renowned studio.

“I was immediately impressed by my interview at Phase One studios,” he said. “I was walking down a hall for like a minute. And I continued walking, and I continued walking (it was so huge). The whole ti

Mobi performs the Unity Kickoff concert at Dundas Square, Toronto.

me I’m seeing gold and platinum plaques of big artists I’m a big fan of. I was like, ‘where am I? This is not Scarborough?’”

But it is Scarborough. Located On Kennedy Road just north of Finch Avenue, the facility has worked with international superstars including: The Black Eyed Peas, Bono, Rihanna and Sting. Last year was the first time the group recorded at Phase One.

“Everyone was really blown away,” Fabico said. “It was a really humbling experience.”

East runs for eight months, from November through June 2013. During that period the group will produce a 16 track LP, music videos, press kits, and perform in gigs across Scarborough and Toronto. The term culminates with a CD release party in the spring.

The theme of the first LP is casino and it has the tag line “play your card right.” These young adults already are.

About this article

By: Scott Barber
Copy editor: Evan De Souza
Posted: Dec 8 2012 11:05 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life