On June 9th, "The Onyx Experience", a new live concert film that traces Black rock music in Canada gets its world premiere.
Despite rock n' roll's historically significant roots in the Black community, the presence of Black rock artists in North America, and in Canada in particular, is miniscule.
And for the small number of Black rock musicians who do participate in the genre and its surrounding culture, their voices and culturally unique point of view are often muted or rendered invisible.
Welcome to "The Onyx Experience"–directed by Andrew Hamilton (Drake, Our Lady Peace, dvsn)–an otherworldly multi-evolutionary live concert art film which counters that narrative of invisibility, while documenting and celebrating Black artists performing rock music in Canada.
Shot over a two-day weekend in a studio transformed into a multi-sensory dystopian universe, "The Onyx Experience" tells the story of rise, rebellion and rumination featuring electrifying performances from platinum selling Canadian Radio Music Award-winning singer songwriter Fefe Dobson, 2021 Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominees The OBGMs and 2022 Juno Award nominated artist SATE.
"I produced this film to celebrate and shine a light on Black artists doing rock music in Canada," explains the film's producer and Toronto-based music industry veteran David "Click" Cox who launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to support the film. "There are not enough opportunities for Black artists to be heard and seen. This film brings together some of Canada's best artists in an evolving art installation by Kizmet. With the vision of the director, we created a cinematic art film that will bring people through multi- dimensional rock performances and experiences."
Adds film director Andrew Hamilton: "It's not often you get a chance to create for the younger version of yourself. Bringing this project to life felt cathartic after all these years of loving rock music and constantly feeling like that love would never be reciprocated. We're creating the inspiration for the next generation that will get to see themselves in the things that they love!"
Working out of the tradition of Black Canadian rockers that came before them (eg. Infidels, Wild T, Blaxäm), the assembled cast of musicians came together on this special weekend in 2022 to celebrate the powerful influence of Black life and culture in rock music.
"The Onyx Experience" is not a traditional concert film, as there is no live studio audience, instead what you witness is a constantly evolving art house set shot with highly creative camera angles that adds much cinematic flair to the way the concert is presented.
And throughout the film, camera's follow a PA (Jahmal Padmore) as they help bring the production to life, outside of the music, exploring the world of the artists both on and off the stage.
Black rock artists in Canada haven't always been heard, but at this moment, they will be seen.
This concert experience also serves as a historical document showcasing a group of dynamic Black rock artists raising the bar of artistic excellence, while using their artistry to illuminate an underrepresented subset of musicians in Canadian society.