Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Things get hot at Hotbox — SAW Video’s annual fundraiser combines cheap eats, digital art, and music

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

The Holy Cobras played Hotbox last year. Photo by Ming Wu.

Wikipedia will give you about 10 definitions for the term hotbox — and only two have anything to do with marijuana. To the stoner’s surprise, hotbox also refers to baseball training and a kitchen appliance.

If you want to find some other commonalities amongst the references, you’ll see that term hotbox often emphasizes the idea of improvisation and small spaces. We’ll go with those two for the purposes of talking about Hotbox, SAW Video’s annual fundraiser to generate coin for the artist-run centre’s programming projects.

Hotbox is a display of artistic ingenuity that takes place inside the SAW Gallery courtyard on Nicholas Street behind the Rideau Centre. Last year, hundreds of scenesters crowded into the yard to try cheap eats from a number of the city’s trendy dining spots while taking in art. Strata Pizza offered mini wood-fired pies, while Jak’s Kitchen and Pascale’s Ice Cream miniaturized selections from their menus. (It was a good taste of what upscale street food could be like.) Performance artist Theo Pelmus took centre stage, as did DJ Adam Saikaley and The Holy Cobras.

Alexandre Mattar (DJ Zattar) will take the stage at this year's Hotbox.

Large screens were set up to showcase work by digital artists. It was a good boost for the work being done at SAW Video, without being overly promotional. From what I could sense, most people were there to soak up the scene and party, while happening upon a lot of art and music. As far as these things go, Hotbox is effortless to attend and a great place to catch up with the people you yak with over Twitter.

This year, organizers at SAW Video will do it up again for Hotbox 2012 with a new roster of dining options including ZenKitchen, TacoLot, and SuzyQ Doughnuts (and with the return of Jak’s Kitchen and Kichesippi Beer). Video artists Pascale Théorêt-Groulx and Pixie Cram will display their work with music by Boyhood, and DJs Lidija, Tech Support, and Zattar.

Hotbox takes place Thursday, Aug. 9, from 6-11 p.m. at the SAW Gallery courtyard, 67 Nicholas St. Admission is $5. Bring extra coins if you want to participate in the raffles.

Zattar is the DJ behind the wildly popular TimeKode dance party that takes place at the Eri Café (and is now being streamed live to air on CKCU) on the third Friday of each month. He’s also starting a new monthly night with DJ Trevor Walker taking place the first Friday of the month at Pressed Café on Gladstone Avenue. They’re calling it Tropikalo and the duo will focus on their current musical fixations: the soulful sounds of West Africa, the Latin American styles of Cumbia music, and anything else you might associate with warm, coastal locations. That event starts Sept. 7 and cover will be $5.

DJ Joe Juarez is also a chef. He cooks at Canvas on Holland Avenue when he’s not beat-matching at some after-hours gig. Juarez will take his turn as guest chef at TacoLot on the afternoon of Sept. 9 (a number of the city’s chefs have being doing a Sunday session at the West Wellie hub for charity). He wants the afternoon to be an event of music and food and is lining up a number of DJs for the day. Stay tuned for news. In the meantime, check out this video of Juarez making the links between cooking and food as created by Craig Conoley of Partus Films with some help from yours truly. We called it Mad Platters.