Sunday, November 16, 2014

VALT - Q and A with Co-Founders Aaron Morris and Kat Morris

Kat and Aaron Morris at Valt 2013 -
Photo by Ed Ng Photography
With Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week 2014 (VALT 2014) ready to hit the runway on November 21-23, it's be perfect time to offer this behind the scenes Q and A with 2 of the event's 4 co-founders - Aaron and Kat Morris.  If you missed my Q and A's from last year the links are here -  Kat Ferneyhough and Kat Kozak. Still need to get your tix - click HERE.

Where were did your grow up and what were you like as kids/teenagers? Feel free to share a memory of you back then that hints at the future career you would take.

Aaron - I grew up in New Zealand and from an early age have always been in entertainment. I started a school band in High School, the first in 10 years and we competed in our local “Battle of the Bands”, winning the competition our second year and solidifying my desire to be on stage performing. As the front man/singer of the band and many bands since, it prepared me for the welcome challenge of MCing for VALT as well as various other events around Vancouver.

Kat - As one of the only members of VALT who is truly Vancouver born and bred, I find myself in a bit of a minority as everyone I know is from somewhere else… My teenage years were all over the place, I was a very nerdy isolated kid and I spent my lunch hours in the school library reading instead of being outside. As I got older, I found a niche in sports and became a bit of a jock, but my pursuits outside of that were always artistically related. I was active in Drama Clubs and spent most of my free time in the Art Room painting and drawing or developing film in the school darkroom. I was also involved in event committees and yearbook organization, so I suppose I've always had a leaning towards a creative career. 


Aaron and Kat Morris backstage at VALT 2013. Photo by Tammy Maltese Photography
Aaron - talk about your journey to launching Morrismore Production House? GrindDown Magazine?

The concept of Morrismore literally came to me in the middle of the night. I had a dream about producing shows, bringing together various local musicians in all different genres and helping them to connect and work together making music with mixed genres. This expanded into fashion shows with live music accompaniment (as the models walked) and developed into live performance and a full night of entertainment. With everything from fire dancers to poets to comedians to break dancers.

We were doing so many shows and constantly having to find models for the designers that my wife Kat and I felt that the next logical step was to start our own Alternative modeling agency, so Morrismore Models was born! Western Canada’s first Alt Model agency, we brought Vancouver the beautiful faces and talent of the alt scene in a Tattooed, petite, plus size package, signing 45 girls within 3 weeks and dominating the local Alternative scene. We ran MM Models for 3 years closing it in early 2013 and have the honor of our ladies winning and placing in several Alt model competitions, commercials, music videos, fashion shows and a multitude of other awesome opportunities. 


Photo on left by Tammy Maltese - Photo on right by Ed Ng Photography
GrindDown Vancouver Magazine came to life as an answer to Vancouver’s need for non-mainstream news, writers from all over the Lower Mainland have added their voice to articles about their favorite city, casting a wide net on exposing awesome events, shows, music, fashion, food and fun from many different perspectives in an edgy and engaging fashion. GD was in print for the first year handing out thousands of free magazines, after that first year it was decided that because of financial constraints and the growing costs of printing that GD would become an online only magazine. Grinddown.com was re launched with an amazing new look designed by our good friend and local web designer Guru Eric Breuers. GrindDown continues to serve Vancouver and is constantly looking for new talented writers and photographers to promote through our site.


Photoss by Kat Eye Imaging


Kat - Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a make-up artist? What about this career draws you as an artist? Also share about your businesses - Nightshade Beauty and The Horror Honeys.

Prior to beginning my makeup career, I had spent years as a painter and artist in other mediums, and then another 10 years trying desperately to work up the courage, the emotional support (and the money) to get myself to school. I've always been fascinated with fashion and makeup and when I was younger I was obsessed with Fashion Television, and all I wanted to do was to go to Toronto and go to fashion week and meet Tim Blanks. While I know what drew me to makeup artistry when I started, I can’t say that I have the same view of it now. As a creative outlet, I’m blessed that makeup artistry has enabled me to be able to work with like-minded artists and creatives who inspire me to work harder and stretch my abilities. Since I tend to shy away from mainstream work, it’s more about finding the next phase of expression now more than anything. 

Nightshade Beauty is the glamour/fantasy side of my makeup business. My work has been called “dark avant garde” in the past, and I’m totally fine with that. I love big hair, and bold colours and creating makeup that tells a story or evokes an emotion. The Horror Honeys is a completely different side project that is reserved for my writing work. I manage 8 women who write about horror…everyday is Halloween for us and we cover lifestyle, comics, movies, gaming, books and more. 



Co-Directors Aaron Morris, Kat Morris, Drew Ferneyhough, Kat Ferneyhough, Kat Kozak and Victor Kozak
Photo by Ed Ng Photography
How did you  meet the other founders - Kat Kozak and Kat Ferneyhough - and become involved creating VALT ?

Aaron - My wife Kat and I approached the VALT founders after stumbling upon their newly created group on Facebook. Kat and I sent them a personal message and introduced ourselves. After we contacted the VALT founders Kat Kozak and Kat Ferneyhough we set a meeting to meet Kat and Victor Kozak on Mayne Island where they were temporarily staying after their big move from Toronto to start VALT. We had an inspiring lunch and spent the day talking about the vision of VALT. As an interesting note, my wife Kat and I had discussed doing an Alt fashion week on Dec the year before meeting the VALT crew, and as a coincidence we had called it VALT as well…. It was a sign that meeting them all was meant to be. :)

Talk about the journey to conceive and launch VALT 2 years ago? What have been the biggest challenges from your viewpoint?

Aaron - As Morrismore, Kat and I already had a large amount of contacts at our disposal from events we had created ourselves. The “process” was the biggest part to share with the new VALT group. The Processes for the model castings, finding bands, the different designers in the Lower mainland, sound and lighting techs, locations and of course Hair and Makeup etc. The biggest hurdle each year is coming up with an original and innovative theme for the different nights. Something that helps those involved in the show to feel personally inspired to do something original and exciting as their individual part.

For those who have not attended, can you share your vision of what this alternative celebration of art, music and fashion offers the Vancouver scene?

Aaron - Personally I feel that the vision should be: “You won’t see this anywhere else! The excitement for something different that Vancouver has never seen before rules all that we do. Saying that, I do realize that you must also not alienate your audience but if you call yourself an Alternative Fashion week then you should do everything you can to be Alternative and inspire those around you to reach higher. VALT has always worked hard to inspire others.


VALT Fashion Police during the Vancouver 2013 Pride -
in photo are co-founders  
Kat Kozak,Kat Morris Aaron Morris and Kat Ferneyhough
How hard is it to balance your day to day business commitments with the demands of producing VALT each fall?

Aaron - Balance may not be the correct description when it comes to Kat and my life, more like expertly timed juggling. Not only do Kat and I work full time day jobs outside of all of our business commitments including, Morrismore Productions, GrindDown Magazine, Nightshade beauty Makeup and The Horror Honeys, but I myself am also working on my Graphic Design Cert at BCIT as well as multiple MC performances around the city on top of being the MC, and model Director for VALT each year. Because Kat and I work together on all these projects we also count this as quality time as husband and wife, building your dreams together as a couple is essential when you live in the eye of a hurricane. Having a solid life plan is crucial, keeping accurate records, notes and a reverse timeline helps us to stay focused on our goals while keeping our minds free from the confusion of juggling so many pursuits. If you just keep everything in your head you are bound to be unfocused and confused, whereas writing things down and constant goal setting keeps your mind clear for innovation and new ideas. 


Aaron Morris with artist Shay Lhea of Occulto Masks - Image by TravisWPhotography
Please share your favorite memory from last season.

Aaron - Actually I would prefer to share my favorite memory from the first season. When I inhaled the helium from a balloon and had a conversation with my young friend Eden from stage on the Sunday night “Delight”

Kat - Backstage is such a whirlwind for me that it’s actually very difficult to choose a moment. My favorite moments will always be with the MC’s, helping them to get into character with makeup is definitely a highlight, and I’m always amazing to see them flourish and take on a new personality.


 What are you most excited about in this upcoming season?

Aaron - Getting on that stage as MC and having the time of my life.. in only the way I can do it!

KatI may try to watch the show this year, I’m usually so wrapped up backstage that I have to wait for the photos to come out to see what I missed!  I’m never sure what to expect from VALT, and I know that this season will be full of wonderful surprises and incredible moments. 

For more information on VALT 2014 go to www.valt.ca. Limited tix are still available - so get yours today at http://www.valt.ca/attend/tickets/.

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