Whenever it’s time to do a new Girl About Town post, I get so excited. There’s nothing more fun than thinking about which cool and talented woman to feature next. This month’s was easy for me because from the moment I first met this lady I knew I wanted to feature her at some point. Anna Wiesen is an all-around marketing genius with a quick-witted personality, the best taste in music and clothes and makes a truly lasting effect on anyone she encounters. We first met in the shop and had lots of friends in common, which gave us an instant familiarity with eachother. Over the next few months we bonded on our love of dance parties, community and bringing people together and how many cheeses we could possibly eat in one sitting. The more I got to know her the more I learned that she does- and it never seems to stop! She’s one third of Young Lions Music Club, an all-encompassing group that puts on great community events, and also keeps busy with various contracts and freelance marketing jobs.
Anna and her partner Bobby moved to Hamilton this past winter to set-up house in a smaller community and focus on their various projects. I can say with full confidence that Hamilton is so lucky to have them as part of our community. One thing I’ve noticed about everything YLMC touches- it’s always fun, inclusive and well thought-out. As a fellow organizer, I truly appreciate all that they do and see how amazing they are at it. This Saturday they’ll be set up at the Hamilton Flea, dj’ing some sweet tunes and meeting all of your sweet selves! Anna and I spent some time in the Flea’s location, the historic Treble Hall, chatting Hamilton, the challenges of moving to a new city, style and the Flea itself!
How did Young Lions Music Club start?
Young Lions Music Club started back in 2011 in my boyfriend Bobby’s basement apartment in Toronto. He had recently quit his full time job in music marketing and had been throwing dance parties where local bands would come on board as guest DJs.
The dance parties were growing in popularity and at some point Bobby decided he wanted to do other types of music events and somehow turn all this fun into a “full-time” job for himself. In those early days there was a lot of throwing around ideas and concepts, and I remember specifically the moment when we were lying in Bobby’s bed at night when he came up with the idea to create physical membership cards and then the whole idea took shape. I guess I’ve been involved with YLMC since Day 1 as the first ever member, and also as the person that would listen to Bobby’s ideas and help them take shape. The official soundboard, you could say.
I wasn’t really “officially” a part of it for a while, except that I was Bobby’s girlfriend, would go to every single party, and came up with ideas. Bobby sometimes calls me Young Lions Music Club’s First Lady, which seems to be appropriate. I had my own stuff going on – managing a singer and pursuing a career in marketing.
Fast forward to 2014, and Young Lions Music Club was planning the first of several Stanley Kubrick themed parties. This one was themed after The Shining. It was a couple of months before the party, and I asked Bobby “so…how exactly are you going to make this party feel like The Shining?” …he didn’t really know. That’s when we started assembling a team of insanely talented artists ranging from painters to set designers to lighting and projection artists to bring this party to life.
The party ended up being incredible, and changed the way Bobby looked at planning Young Lions events. When people started asking how we made the theme come to life, that’s when we dreamt up the idea of Young Offenders: a collective of artists from different disciplines that we would represent to try to find them work. I was able to apply my experience and passion for working with and managing artists, and Bobby could leverage his Young Lions relationships to find these artists some work. Bobby and I launched Young Offenders together as co-founders, and Young Lions exists as a separate entity, though the two companies work together all the time.
What’s your favourite part of YLMC/Young Offenders?
The best part is coming up with your ideas and bringing them to life without having to go up a chain of command. On the Young Offenders end, I love that we can find really great artists opportunities that they might not have found for themselves. For example, our painter Sarah got to work on a large-scale live painting piece for the Field Trip festival last month in Toronto for thousands to see. I’m proud that I could facilitate that exposure for her, and help her make money off her craft.
What was the most memorable event you’ve been involved with?
Tough question! I’m a huge fan of The Smiths, and one time Andy Rourke from the band DJ’ed on a boat for a Young Lions Music Club party and asked to borrow my headphones. That was a big deal to me.
But probably the most memorable was our Young Offenders launch party. We wanted to invite everyone we knew to see what the Young Offenders are capable of. So we got a warehouse, sent people cryptic invitations in the mail, and got all of our artists involved in some capacity to throw a party in the middle of February fit with a slingshot range, murals, and a giant eyeball installation that projected live surveillance camera footage from the party.
What are the upsides to working freelance/for yourself/from home, etc? Downsides?
The flexibility to work when it feels right and don’t work when it doesn’t is invaluable. Sometimes we get on a creative kick at 9pm and get a bunch of work done, but then we have our fair share of later mornings when we take time to make a nice, big breakfast. I also like being able to test and execute my own ideas.
The downsides are mostly financial. It’s hard to get used to not getting a regular paycheck. Money and projects come sporadically, so it’s important to stay organized and budget myself properly.
Where are your favourite places to go/hang out?
I love doing work at Johnny’s Coffee and grabbing lunch at the Green Smoothie Bar. I do a regular visit to Newold’s, Hawk & Sparrow/Eye of Faith, Girl on the Wing & Out of the Past since I have a vintage clothing addiction that can’t be tamed. I also enjoy hanging at Dundurn Park with my dog Charles and exploring all the parks and trails around Hamilton. I grew up in the country, so I love that Hamilton has so much nature in such close proximity to downtown.
Is there a specific moment that you can remember where you thought “I love Hamilton” for the first time?
I remember my first trip to Ottawa St to go check out some antique shops. I took Barton Street across and was completely enamored with the abandoned storefronts amidst a city that was developing in other areas so rapidly. Because I come from Toronto where everything is hyper developed and established, I see so much potential in many parts of this city, especially Barton St. It’s sad to see the ghosts of failed businesses but exciting to be here in a time when many people are starting new businesses and seeing Hamilton rally around them. It’s an inspiring place, and there’s a certain feeling of soul and community that is often missing in larger cities.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Vintage, colourful, comfortable
What’s your favourite thing you’ve found at Girl on the Wing and why?
An aquamarine blue raincoat. Whitney described it as “the coat your mom would wear in the 80s at Niagara Falls” and man do I love sporting that look on a rainy day on a walk with my dog. The colour cheers me up on a dreary day and the pockets are big enough for a ball and dog treats. Perfection!
What can we expect from YLMC at the Hamilton Flea?
Bobby and I DJ together under the name Summer Fling. We’ll be DJing and also selling some special YLMC merch. You can also find out more about Young Lions and sign up to be a member if you aren’t yet.
Who/what are you most excited to do, see, etc at the Flea?
I’m really pumped to eat some donuts from Donut Monster! I’m also hoping to find some vinyl from Roly Poly Records & Retro, and meet some more Hamilton pals.
Sunglasses: from a sunglass vendor at Austin Psych Fest
Top: Out of the Past
Jeans: Levi’s - Girl on the Wing
Sandal: American Apparel