The two maze-y floors of office space at 379-381 Queen West Street provided a well-hidden but perfectly-formed Academy HQ in the Ontario capital. Among the guests who hiked up the stairs and revealed their inner secrets and maverick mindsets were DJ Premier, Arthur Baker, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Mulatu Astatke, DJ Mehdi, MIA, Tony Allen, Prins Thomas and Dabrye. Participants, lecturers and team navigated their way around wooden rooftop terrace, lecture hall and project studios, all amidst a traffic-themed playground, dodging airplane vapour trails and bumper to bumper matchbox cars.
Tony Allen demonstrated how he flipped the jazz hi-hat blueprint, and Mulatu Astatke explained the mysterious tones and intervals that has made swinging Addis such a potent musical influence. From MIA and participants tearing up the Kool Haus, to Niagra Falls jet boats and Thanksgiving dinners, the Academy Toronto edition was memorable down to the minute. The ‘sleeve sneeze’ left its mark on the collective psyche, as did the unofficial after-hours and live Academy jams, irresistible shawarmas and Halloween street invasions. T’dot inhabitants came to get down, as DJ Mehdi and A-Trak showcased their Mad Decent styles at Manifesto, while Superpitcher turned Loki – one of the city’s cosiest basements – into a dancefloor of honest, intimate expression. The fresh chill of Toronto breezed through the Academy, and succeeded in bringing out the warmth in all of us.