THE CITY SERIES TORONTO: SAMMY RAWAL

 



NOT A BAD DAY HERE AT YOUR STUDIO SPACE. TELL US ABOUT THE AREA WE'RE IN.

We're in the Bloordale neighbourhood, around Bloor and Lansdowne. It's sort of an industrial neighbourhood that has been transforming over the past few years. It's a cool little area, a nice mix of new and old


YOU PICKED TWO PAIRS OF KICKS, ARE YOU MAINLY A SNEAKER GUY?

Yeah, for the most part. I'm a pretty athletic person and usually only wear sportswear/athletic apparel. 


WHY DID YOU PICK THE REEBOKS?

I've always loved classic Reeboks, especially the all-white ones -- they remind me of shoes a prison might issue inmates (that's a good thing haha).


WHY DID YOU GO FOR THE BOXFRESH SNEAKERS?

They just look like a classic black hightop. I like simple, clean shoe design.


 

 

 



BEING FROM VANCOUVER, DID YOUR STYLE EVOLVE WHEN YOU MOVED TO TORONTO?

I moved here by myself as a teenager, so I definitely think my style has evolved. I look back at photos of myself and my personal style back then and I cringe. 


TOP 3 REASONS YOU'RE HAPPY YOU MADE THE MOVE

1. It's way better for the type of work I do
2. Toronto is a more diverse city and has much more going on in a cultural sense
3. No more 10 months of perpetual rain and greyness


YOU'VE GOT A PRETTY COOL JOB. HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

I got my BFA in photography knowing I wanted to apply the knowledge I got in still imagery and design to moving pictures/motion. I've always been really inspired by music, fashion and dance; with music videos being one of my favourite mediums. After graduating, I managed to get an internship at a big film production company and just hustled my way from intern, to paid office mule, to director. The executive producer at that company really took me under her wing and she became (and still remains) a mentor to me.


WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES YOUR JOB HAS TAKEN YOU?

My job has taken me a bunch of places, but I suppose my favourite places would be the ancient canals of Xochimilco in Mexico where I directed a Metric music video, and in an abandoned college/school a couple hours outside of London where I directed a video for AlunaGeorge.


 

 

 

 

WHO'S YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST / MUSICIAN YOU'VE WORKED WITH?

I'd probably have to say AlunaGeorge or Rey Pila.


WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ARTIST/PROJECT TO WORK WITH/ON?

I'd love to direct a video for FKA Twigs or Kelela.


HOW HAVE YOU HELPED TO DEVELOP AND GIVE BACK TO THE TORONTO COMMUNITY? TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASSION PROJECT.

Aside from being a director, I'm also a DJ and party promoter. For almost 7 years, four friends and I have thrown a queer hip hop/dancehall party here in Toronto called YES YES Y'ALL. We came from very humble beginnings (maybe 100 people at our first party) and it has grown to become one of the city's most successful parties drawing in about 700 people a month. Our biggest mandate has always been to bridge the queer and hip hop communities in the city and provide a safe environment for queer POC. YES YES Y'ALL is pretty indicative of the city and provide a cross section of Toronto...all genders, sexual preferences, races, and ages come out to the jam. 


WHERE WILL THIS PROJECT BE IN 5 YEARS?

Who knows...We've started playing bigger gigs (opening for A Tribe Called Red, playing the Basquiat opening night at the Art Gallery of Ontario and playing in different cities across North America). I'd like to maybe take it to the UK or Asia in the near future. We also consistently book international groups/acts/DJ's to play the parties. Artists such as Angel Haze, Le1f, Lady Dai Burger, Keys n Krates, A Tribe Called Red, Scratch Bastid, Timberlee, and Zebra Katz have all graced the stage at YES YES Y'ALL. We would definitely like to bring in more talent as the party grows.

 

 




Boxfresh Cowley in "Black"


WHAT HAS THE PROJECT TAUGHT YOU?

It’s really given me a sense of community. It was something I had never really felt when growing up in Vancouver. Through the party, I’ve been able to really find amazing friends, support, inspiration, and a better sense of self. The music aspect of it also has an obvious overlap with my film and music video work. They really work in tandem. 

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

I guess my biggest piece of advice is to not stop. Both industries I work in are insanely competitive and it’s a constant hustle. If you’re not able to instantly bounce back from setbacks and come back even stronger, you’ll get eaten up alive. Just get out there and start doing it and when you fall down, get back up. You also need to have conviction and confidence behind your ideas and vision.


DID YOU LIKE BEING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, RATHER THAN BEHIND IT THIS TIME? WHAT WAS THE CITY SERIES EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?

 No way—I’m so used to being behind the camera rather than in front of one. Thankfully The City Series experience was super chill and fun.


THE GREAT DEBATE
 
IS HAPPENING NOW, HOW DO YOU REP TORONTO: TDOT OR THE6?

 Ugh…I don’t love either of them to be honest but I guess i’d vote for The 6. TDOT makes me think of bad wild style graffiti, fat skate shoes, baggy pants and Kangol hats haha.


WHAT'S THE NEXT SHOE PURCHASE ON SHOEME.CA?

 I've been eyeing up a pair of waterproof Reebok boots for the upcoming winter.


ANY UPCOMING DETAILS OR UPCOMING PROJECTS YOU HAVE IN THE FUTURE?

 The new music video I directed for Matthew Progress just got released on The FADER a couple of days ago. I’m starting a new project with Casey Mecija (of Ohbijou) creating animated gifs for each of the songs on her upcoming solo album that comes out in January. 

 





Sammy's wearing Reebok Men's Classic Leather in "White" & Richer Poorer Socks

 


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