Lost in Rotation
Funded by ArtReach in 2019, Lost in Rotation was a weekly program that allowed up-and-coming DJs and producers of all experience levels to learn and create amongst peers and mentors. Led by the incomparable Berma, this inclusive program was open to all styles of learning and allowed youth to work in a safe space, giving participants the time and opportunity to create something they could be proud of.
Berma created the program after noticing a, “lack of opportunity for accessible, organized workshops when it comes to these art forms”. He encountered many young people who wanted to learn how to DJ or produce music but had a lack of access to equipment, mentorship, or spaces that allowed them to create their art freely. Berma also noticed that other programs focused on one certain musical genre, which could limit some participants who are trying to expand their musical knowledge. Lost in Rotation aimed to fix these issues by providing free training, equipment and a safe space while being a multi-genre collaboration program that explored new sounds and techniques, creating an exciting exchange of musical curation.
Lost in Rotation was designed to serve youth in Parkdale, and offered workshops that focused on DJing, sound engineering and music production. These free sessions included support from community-based mentors, facilitators, and volunteers, giving youth an understanding of representation and upward-mobility in the arts sector.
The end goal was to have each artist curate a set, composed of 5-7 songs that they created during the workshop sessions. This resulted in participants having a complete EP by the program’s end, as well as having the tools needed to become their own music producers, DJs, and sound engineers.
When discussing the importance of a program like Lost in Rotation, Berma explains that “Music and the music industry continues to be oversaturated with people sitting in an ivory tower making decisions for people on the ground that they could only hope to empathize with. It is important to equip young artists with the knowledge to become self-sufficient and independent in a generation where independence is synonymous with survival”.
An each-one-teach-one approach was emphasized throughout the program, which allowed participants to peer-support each other in attaining new skills and reaching their goals. This modality led to youth having a free-flowing space where they could rely on each other and build trusting relationships with no hierarchy in place.
Berma’s mission for Lost in Rotation was “for everyone to feel like they are able to comprehend concepts taught by others and feel confident in guiding others to do the same”. This opened up opportunities for youth to not only learn for themselves, but be able to share and teach their new skills to others. As Berma explains “This honest and communicative task shows youths’ ability to not only be a leader in how they critique each other, but in how they receive criticism. This allows abilities to grow based on constructive feedback”
The program culminated with an online showcase where participants could share the musical works they created. After successfully running the program Berma said he was “most proud of just being able to open the door for so many people to showcase their work”. He adds that “Lost in Rotation got all of us through some tough times, especially the cold and lonely winter nights, but it felt nice to be together and create a soundtrack to the cold and loneliness”
As a poet and artist educator in Toronto, Berma has been running community-based workshops for over half a decade and has worked with organizations such as RISE, Unity Charity, Sketch, and more. He started his career with poetry, which led him to be featured on international stages as well as local forums like CP24, REBEL, and the AGO.
Berma continued to craft himself as a versatile artist by learning how to DJ through the Lost is Found collective, which changed his outlook on life and the arts, providing the necessary inspiration to express himself artistically. Over the last three years, he has been teaching personal one-on-one workshops as a DJ and has gained experience by performing at 40+ parties annually, the biggest highlight being able to play in New York City during Pride Week celebrations.
Berma has created a lane for himself to curate sounds and atmospheres by hosting and featuring at events all across Toronto. Whether it be snapping to his words, or toe-tapping to the music, Berma is one of the City’s most inspiring up-and-coming leaders in the community arts sector.
Follow @_berma on Instagram to stay up to date on his latest projects!