I have been a fan of Elysse Cloma since we first met in 9th Grade Social Studies class, and I’m thrilled to have her join the SAD Team as my fellow Web Editor! Read on to learn all about Elysse: her intersectional approach to media creation, her musical inclinations, and how very cool she is.
Let’s start with your name and pronouns.
You’ve been to school on both sides of the country. Tell me about your educational journey.
I’m generally indecisive, so for my undergrad, I did a double major in two interdisciplinary programs. My degree is from the University of Toronto in Equity Studies and Diaspora and Transnational Studies. I studied a lot of history, critical theory, gender studies, and anti-oppression. Being in school felt pretty dialectical/ideological so I started to seek out more practical ways to apply myself.
When I was finishing up my degree at U of T, I had the grad-year future-panic over the fact that I had become expert in my school work, but not much else. I knew I wanted to sharpen my skills a bit more, so I decided to move back home and study New Media Design and Web Development at BCIT.
That’s where I started to figure out how to communicate the things I’m passionate about through writing and design. I was able to get a scholarship to the BCIT program by writing about why it’s important to have diversity in tech, and what I intended to do with my skills gained from the program, which was (and still is) basically to push my feminist agendas. I created a number of projects about arts and culture and social justice. I don’t think my cohort was thrilled about sitting through my design presentations about zine culture or feminist music festivals, but I had a blast building my portfolio.
How do you bring together equity studies and new media design in your work?
The first time I used media and communication in a very meaningful, authentic way was when I was in Toronto working at U of T’s community radio station, CIUT. The director of the station, Ken Stowar, let me have my own 2-hour show every Thursday. I used the platform as an opportunity to theme every episode around an issue: to have dialogue about racism in the local music scene, to feature music by female-identifying musicians, or to talk about music as a form of resistance. I’m not sure anyone tuned in, but having that 2-hour time slot helped me confirm that I wanted to keep finding ways to make these interests intersect, and to make sure I’m actively using a critical lens and circulating ideas about equality.
You’ve been involved with some really cool projects since returning to Vancouver, (ie. Yellow Noise!, MsRepresent). Is there a guiding ethos or vision for the projects you get involved in?
When it comes to collaborating and working on projects, I’ve been lucky enough to know people who I share values and interests with, and who want to collaborate. For example, Charlene Sayo (MsRepresent) is someone who I’ve known for a long time, who I consider to be a mentor, and someone I admire. Being able to do some work with/for her on MsRepresent developed out of our pre-existing relationship, our shared beliefs in feminism, and the desire to create media representation that highlights the achievements of women.
Do you have a personal art practice?
Music! Anyone who knows me knows I’ve dabbled with a million instruments: trumpet, piano, drums, guitar, singing/choir. I’ve recently fulfilled my lifelong dream of learning to play the harp. I can’t think of a less convenient instrument to play. It’s physically inconvenient to transport and it’s technically difficult. I spend hours in solitude practicing, many of them in frustration, but I enjoy challenging myself in a new way. Taking up this instrument is teaching me a lot about having patience and learning incrementally.
Now to plug music stuff‒my friend and I have a duo called Succulents. In the past, I played in duo with my sibling called The Lonsdales, as well as drumming here and there with the artist Kimmortal.
What are you looking forward to about working for SAD?
I’m really looking forward to meeting more collaborators, and I’m excited about being more attuned to what’s going on locally.
You’re in charge of Music, Fashion, Art. Can you tell me a bit about what interests you about those fields?
I really love how art, fashion, and music shape culture. Other than that the common thread for me with music/fashion/art is that I get pretty invested and curious about what’s being communicated through it, whether or not it resonates with me. I like knowing about the story and context of how something was created or how it came together, and I like learning about the relationship art has to the artist, and/or other things outside of it.
Desert Island band?
JONI MITCHELL. No words can describe how deeply her words and songs touch me. If I’d be allowed to listen to her whole discography on this desert island, then that would account for a number of other great musicians she’s worked with as well. If you’re talking single albums then I’d pick Hejira or Clouds.
When people are unaware of how they take up space.
Got any party tricks?
When I choose to stay sober, I put a lime wedge in a cup of soda and ice, and that usually wards off any pressure to be drinking!