viktor bijelovic [the pianist]

“Classical music nowadays often feels pushed into a corner of the loft, hidden behind old telephones, typewriters and the tricycle, and yet it possesses a magical, timeless quality that can speak to everybody.”


Viktor wants to change the face of classical music. If you ask Viktor why, he’ll easily be able to give you a rundown of the benefits of classical music, what it means to him and how he believes it can reach more people than it currently does.

Getting people’s attention, however, is so much more challenging today. Not only do you need to have the talent, but you need to find innovative ways to cut through and speak to the people who are either already interested in classical music or who ‘could’ be interested in classical music (the people who Viktor really wants to speak to). I think for a lot of musicians, this can be a really daunting task as they are more interested in creating and performing their art than they are trying to sell it. For other genre artists – such as pop or rock – it’s arguably easier to reach more people, whereas a classical artist has to re-invent a genre of music that has been with us for hundreds of years. It can sometimes be like trying to convince people why they need shoes for new reasons than why they already know and think they need shoes.

As part of Viktor’s mission to transform how classical music is received, he has embarked on a new way to get people involved in his music. He recently recorded his second CD, and this time, he has reached out to the webosphere to participate by helping with funding his project. He started a Kickstarter campaign and it was through this that he was able to get full funding for the CD design, marketing and duplication of his CDs. I have also been working with Viktor and Danilo (who you’ve already met here on koda|moda) to create some of the branding. This kind of project is a bit of a new territory for us all but I’m so excited to see how Viktor’s passion is leading his journey and to see how this approach will give classical music a new injection of life.

I think if you ask a lot of people about classical music, they’ll probably say something along the lines of it being boring or dull. To Viktor, classical music is about communicating love, joy and a story that can hit you at so many different emotional and intellectual levels. When Viktor and I chatted about how he wants to accomplish reaching more people with his music, we discussed that in order for it to transform how people receive classical music (and in his case, piano), there needs to be some education involved in describing the pieces and the composers in a bite-size and approachable manner. This is something he plans to integrate with his future projects, whether that is through youtube clips or voice tracks to accompany his recorded pieces in effort to to give everybody the chance to become more acquainted with the music (something which may have limited their interest in the genre before).

On Viktor’s Kickstarter page, Viktor had to say this about classical music and his vision:

“Classical music nowadays often feels pushed into a corner of the loft, hidden behind old telephones, typewriters and the tricycle and yet it possesses a magical, timeless quality that can speak to everybody. This project is here as the start of a vision to make the magical world of classical music open to all, regardless of how much or little prior knowledge they have about it. I am inviting you to join with me in this mission to bring our musical heritage to a new generation, so that millions can continue to discover what magnificent depths and emotional power this music holds.”

I look forward to see how Viktor’s passion inlays his vision to communicate and share classical music with a broader range of people.

Be on the lookout for his new CD …you never know, you may find yourself seeing a new side to classical music that you haven’t seen before :).

– heats

For more information about Viktor:





YouTube Channel:

iTunes Link to Previous CD:‎


freeing up space & appropriatism.

‘I’m only keeping things that I use. You could call it minimalism, but it’s probably closer to appropriatism.’ 

A mind that is ‘free’ and physical space – are they synonymous or exclusive? If we have a lot of physical space, in terms of the size of our home, our desk space at work, in our closets, etc., does this mean that we have more space in our mind? And how does clutter come into play? Does having more space in turn give us a stronger sense of freedom?

I often ask myself these questions and mainly because I am continually trying to determine the right balance between what I own versus what I physically need and the impact these decisions have on my mental state of being. That said, there is something that really attracts me to minimalist design. Whenever I see photos of a home with a minimalist interior design, I immediately feel a sense of calm hit me. But then I look around my own space and can visibly see that it doesn’t compare. I have too many shoes, too many jackets/ coats, too many necklaces, etc…


So if seeing a minimalist space gives me some peace of mind, then why is it so hard for me to apply this to my own living or work situation? And does it really matter?

While I agree A LOT of clutter can have a major impact on everything from your mood to your health (see anything by Peter Walsh –, but how detrimental is it to have a little bit of clutter? I know a lot of incredibly creative people (musicians, artists, actors, etc) who aren’t the tidiest people but seem to be able to thrive in their professions. So is it directly correlated or is there more grey area?

Many days I am asking myself which items I can ‘let go of’ in my small London bedroom (did I mention I moved to the UK? That would probably explain my radio silence here). You see, I went from having a decent sized 1-bedroom apartment in Toronto to a small flat I share with my friend in London. My personal physical space has decreased dramatically and so have the number of personal belongings I have direct access to (I left a few things in my friend Maria’s basement in Toronto). I have to say that when I was in the process of downsizing before the move, I felt quite liberated. I sold or gave away probably about 75% of my belongings. I think a big part of me has the desire to be nomadic and to be able to travel and move around easily, so I think I associate having too many physical belongings with an incompetence of achieving this (which, I’ll be honest, is a bit overthinking things since I am not actually moving around that much). However, when I look at what I currently possess in London, I know that I would have a lot of stuff to pack up if I were to make an exit.

I recently spoke to my friend Danilo, (a good friend who happens to be a very talented artist, based in Belgrade), about ‘The day Danilo threw everything out’.

After spending a number of days with Danilo last Christmas, I quickly noticed that he hadn’t changed his choice in outfit the entire time I was there. That was when I decided to start asking questions…


When I asked Danilo to describe that ‘fateful’ day, he glazed it over, saying it ‘wasn’t a big deal’. He said that it was more or less a decision that didn’t require a lot of thought or consideration as its main purpose was to make his life and surroundings more ‘functional’. He recalled this moment as:

‘I remember just opening the closet door to get dressed for that day, and figuring out that I only wear two or three things in the whole closet. So, I put all of them in a bag and left them beside the dumpster – and that was that. Why I did it? Probably the same reason I threw away most of my old furniture – just wanted to keep the place tidy and functional.’

I then asked him to tell me about the impact this has had on his feelings and he put it this way:

‘The immediate feelings were probably one of slight relief. Whenever I take out something that I don’t use, it feels like the home becomes a little more spacious. Instead of focusing on the objects, you start to experience and enjoy the space itself.

[Now], I feel good. I have added a few new items in the wardrobe since then, but just a few. I’m only keeping things that I use. You could call it minimalism, but it’s probably closer to “appropriatism” – I know it’s a silly word, but it has point. As the designer Frank Chimero put it: “Add things until it starts sucking, take things away until it stops getting better.”’

If I stick to the topic of clothing, for many of us, it’s REALLY hard to discard items you’ve had for years, even if you never wear any of them. A lot of it has to do with the attachment we have to the item, whether it’s how much we paid for it, or if it was a gift from someone special, or simply because we find it plain difficult to get rid of ‘stuff’. Growing up, I would keep EVERYTHING, including the plastic bags the items came with (yeah, I know, weird right?). As I started moving from place to place, I realized how impractical and even silly these habits were. As the years go by, I’ve been trying to place less importance on things ‘just for the sake of having them’ and have been trying to see what kind of value they are adding to my life. For example, what is the point of keeping that pair of heels that I can’t even walk in? (Let’s face it – I have trouble walking in flats with my embarrassing clumsiness).

We tend to forget how privileged we are to have everything that we do. While not purposely trying to turn this into a guilt-trip on being thankful for what we have, I really just want to focus on the fact that creating space in our closets and letting go of ‘things’ we think have more importance than they merit can have an impact on the type of space we are limiting in our hearts and minds. Try it – do a big purge of your closet every 2 or 3 months and evaluate how you feel afterwards and even the day after that. I even recommend having a bag full of the items you want to donate to charities or even share with interested friends.

I have a lot to learn and should consider a stronger commitment to uncovering what minimalism (or is it appropriatism?) means to me and how I apply it to my life. I think this is something I need to experiment more with because I do believe that simplifying my physical surroundings will have some impact on my life. Perhaps we should call this blog post a work in progress/WIP….TO BE CONTINUED


  • If you want another perspective from a committed individual, from time to time, I check out this guy’s blog: I really like his take on minimalism.

Photo 1:

hiro hayashi [hair]

 “I used to tell people that hairdressing is not my job-job, it’s my hobby.”

Personally, the effort to find a solid hair stylist who can really cut hair can be closely compared to what I think of as a week-long scavenger hunt that ends with a lump of coal as the winning prize. In other words, the risks are high and the likely outcome is disappointing. As such, you can imagine the state of my hair when I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and decide that enough was enough – I needed a haircut.

It was a Thursday evening and I walked into this hair salon just steps away from my workplace. It would be at this place where I would be thrown into the hands of Hiro Hayashi, co-owner and Creative Director III of salon bespoke.

Talk about fate. Not only was I met with someone who just happens to be from one of my favourite countries in the world, but I was also graced with the presence of someone who is truly and unapologetically passionate about his job.

No wait – not job – I actually meant to say hobby.

While his role as a hair stylist does provide him with the means to fill his bank account, Hiro likes to describe his passion for cutting hair as his hobby. He will proudly tell you that he works 6-7 days a week and never gets bored of it because he is fulfilling both a necessity (i.e. pay cheque) and, much more importantly, his passion fueled by a sincere interest in his client’s experience. Hiro explained this concept to me as this:

“I used to tell people that hairdressing is not my job-job, it’s my hobby. I’m not going home to watch a hockey game; all I do is hair and that is what I enjoy.”

With the goal of this blog to showcase people who demonstrate a certain joie de vivre through what they do, I couldn’t help myself but to persuade Hiro into meeting me to discuss his hobby-job in more detail.

Hiro’s drive for success started at a young age. His parents were able to identify early on his zeal for art and his creative instinct, and therefore had the insight to place him in art school.

“I was always drawing something or turning something like an empty box into toys and my Dad would always say ‘don’t play with garbage’. He didn’t understand at the beginning, but after a while [my parents] started to realize what I was into so they even sent me to art school when I was in grade two or three.”

As a kid, Hiro was introduced to his friend’s parents who owned a hair salon. It is with this first exposure, along with the mentorship of his uncle, who was a fashion designer and vintage clothing business owner, that initially set Hiro’s mind on the track for a career in hair styling. This, coupled with the strong desire to live abroad, is what ultimately led Hiro to Toronto.

 “My friend’s parents owned a hair salon so I started going there. I was so impressed and I was always looking at how they were cutting hair. Eventually, around the age of 10 or so, I started thinking to myself ‘this could be the one’.”

Hiro was no stranger to hard work. Along with a grueling school life in Japan, he also started working at a very young age. When I asked him to give me a word that best describes his fierce ambition, he said “pride” was the main force.

 “I basically wanted to try harder & do better than my childhood. When I was 8 years old, I used to wake up at 6am to deliver milk. When I was 12 years old, I used to wake up at 5am to delivery newspapers. So I was already working hard, and I always believed that I should and could do better when I got older because I have pride. I firmly believe that I have to be better and improve myself as I get older.”

This sense of pride, along with his relentless ambition, is what pushed Hiro to set a personal deadline for the age of the 30. It was by this age that he wanted to be successful in an international career, and if not, he’d return to Japan. With this personal deadline always lingering at the back of his mind, Hiro dedicated himself to his craft. As if it weren’t enough that he faced a language barrier on a daily basis, Hiro had a few other roadblocks along the way. However, with a lot of strength and tenacity, and with the support from his friends and clients, Hiro was able to overcome a lot to get closer to that age 30 yardstick.

“One of the most important things to me is my relationship with my clients. And I kind of got rejected at the airport one time. They basically kicked me out and sent me back to Japan. I couldn’t get back into Canada for a year and a half and I lost all of my clients. I felt terrible because I couldn’t even say goodbye or say sorry to them. Even though they trusted me and my English was so bad, they’d always come back to me for a haircut. I truly appreciated how loyal they were to me. When I finally came back, a few of my regular clients from 2 years before came back to me and I felt like crying. I was so happy. They are like my family and friends. I will do anything for them and that is why I work 6-7 days a week. I don’t care if it’s 10pm at night, I’ll be there.”

Fast forward. As Hiro sat in front of me reminiscing of his 30th birthday, I could get a sense of how strong his pride really was. It was at the age of 30 that Hiro found himself in the staff room at his old salon, Toni & Guy, and reflected on his accomplishments as the salon’s creative director, educator and sales record-breaker.

Not only did Hiro meet all of his goals set by his 18-year-old self, but he knocked them out of the park with the opening of his own salon in 2011, along with three other talented hair stylists (all previous colleagues from Toni & Guy). However, despite all of his accomplishments, Hiro remains humble and chooses to look to the next adventure, deciding not to let any particular accomplishment dictate to him what success should look like.

“I don’t even know if this is success. I’m never satisfied. I appreciate a lot but I’m just never satisfied. I just want to be better and better and better. I just keep pushing myself because I’ve never really seen what success is.”


– heats

manifesting chaos.

It feels like 2011 was a year exemplary of emotional and physical chaos. Bad news seemed to lurk around every corner – cancer, death, mysterious tropical viruses, earthquakes and tsunamis. Every time it felt like things could not get any worse, another mole would pop its head up from the soil and threaten to destroy the yard. As such, 2011 showed me that struggle is the keystone to unlocking the root of one’s inner strength. The reality is that life ebbs and flows and there are just some years that are more challenging than others.

Sometimes the effects of the chaos in and around us can manifest in ways that not only deliver a new perspective on who we want to be or how we want to live our life, but also generate a sort of vigor that might not have ever surfaced or existed otherwise. Perhaps these struggles can be regarded as tests, or passages to other opportunities (says the eternal optimist). Maybe it takes it too far to say that these struggles are, in fact, tests that we are meant to ‘pass’, but regardless of your beliefs, I feel that the way of looking at these struggles as tests can also be a personal motivating vehicle that can be used to push yourself to become a better, more evolved individual. That said, these life tests come in many forms and varieties – some more obvious than others, and some more difficult to face than others – but in the end, if you keep repeating the same mistakes whenever faced with these tests, then there will never be a fair chance to evolve beyond where you have settled in the present…at least in this lifetime anyway.

“Oh Salvador, now you know the truth; that if you act the genius, you will be one!” – Salvador Dali

Sometimes when I am feeling a bit lost in my own chaos, I look to the works of Salvador Dali. To me, he was the king of manifesting the chaos of his subconscious mind and the world he observed around him.  For some reason, I can identify with his work more than almost any other artist. There is something intrinsically authentic about his work that really makes me feel as if I can connect to his mind …or even maybe that he can connect to mine. The way he gets you lost in this different realm he has created through his strange depiction of life and imagination is what draws me in time and time again. Rooted in his surrealist undertaking is this labour of love and meditation that went into composing some of the most thought-provoking and controversial art of our time. That is the true beauty of Dali’s work to me: beautiful, raw chaos in the most organized and committed form – all variables that soak in the essence of life.

I believe that turning a blind’s eye to these tests, or your inner chaos, is serving nothing but your ego and will limit you in ways that you might not ever consider. You owe it to yourself to explore these tests and the challenges they force you to face, just as Dali did so ferociously through his art. It likely won’t be pretty when you take an honest approach to doing this, but eventually with perseverance and letting your gut guide you, you will be that much closer to painting the shapes screaming at you from deep within.

– heats

  • Photo: Halsman, Philippe, photographer (1948). Salvador Dali A
  • Dali quote: Neret, Gilles (2007). Dali. USA: TASCHEN.

brian adam banks [music]

“Music has become such a big part of my life and I can’t really turn it off.”

“My hair was long and blue and my fashion sense was equally as askew”, says Brian as he begins describing to me how he got involved in filming an indie documentary, funded solely by himself, in the States a few years back. I found that this statement really did justice to creating the imagery I’d associate with Brian’s trials and tribulations… Blue, long, askew – that about sums it up.

I chose to interview Brian for many reasons. A photographer, poet, writer, activist and amateur soccer player (I mean, football, of course)  – Brian projects a sense of unabashed confidence that often intimidates people upon first encounter (that and his 6’4’’ frame and thick Scottish accent). Not only is he incredibly talented, but he has done everything possible to make it so that music is the leader of his life.

Brian drew his momentum from many sources and on two different continents. At first seen as just a hobby, Brian stumbled upon opportunities that led him to create Music Vice, the online music magazine which he is the founder and editor.

Brian’s first attempt at North American life ultimately brought him back to Scotland to regain some perspective (and some cash) just to return to Canada with a newer, hungrier appetite for following his dream as a music journalist. However, he would quickly learn that taking a big bite didn’t mean it would give him a full meal; there would be a few key things he would have to change and/or understand about his approach before he would be able to find the foothold that he has today with Music Vice.

1) Be prepared and try to know your stuff. The documentary Brian wanted to film started with a Myspace message to a Detroit-based band which propelled Brian to quit his cushy day job in Canada (selling mobile phones, no less) to follow the band to LA. To make a long story short, Brian got duped into forking over a month’s rent ($900 USD to be exact) to the manager of the Viper Room just for the ‘privilege’ of filming the band inside for 20 minutes.

“I was following around this band and I didn’t even know [how to use the video camera]; I was reading the manual on the plane basically,” says Brian on the documentary he created in the States.

“The whole thing was something of a glorious failure but it was also a very big learning curve experience for me because I believe in what I do and I have this obsession of writing about music, and I feel like in anything, especially in creative writing, you really shouldn’t write about anything until you can do so with fluidity and knowledge and experience.”

2) Don’t be TOO prepared, otherwise you may miss out on opportunities because you didn’t think you were prepared enough/didn’t think you could handle it. After Brian’s Hollywood money-sucking experience, he then went as far as Norway, via Toronto and Germany.

“Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve just winged it.”

Brian’s ability to shed his inhibitions  (or to ‘Derren Brown’ a situation, as he puts it) is the reason why he was able to land shooting some big bands early on in his career – bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, Foo Fighters and Green Day.

“When I walk into a venue, it’s my comfort zone and I act as if I own the place.”

3)  Let your passion lead you and be honest. Brian believes in supporting good music. He won’t interview bands he doesn’t believe in and if he is pushed to write a review about a band he doesn’t fully stand behind, don’t expect him to sugar-coat anything.

“I want to present the artists who I feel are worthy of having the attention. I know it sounds weird because I’m not the Rolling Stone, I am just curious really. Music has become such a big part of my life and I can’t really turn it off and that’s the whole reason why I called it music vice to begin with.”

4)  Find balance. Listen to advice of others and know that what you do is important, but it’s not always the most important thing in life.

Brian interviewed a band in the UK called the Dangerfields. At the time, the bassist of the band (Jamie) had a very personal family emergency that really brought a new perspective to Brian’s life and journey as a music journalist. While Brian was convinced that there was nothing that could ever replace the energy you get from music, the drummer of Dangerfields (Andrew) bestowed the following wisdom onto Brian that has stuck with him to this day:

“Rock & Roll is meaningful and important, but on the other hand, it’s absolutely insignificant. You have to find a balance between Rock & Roll and real life.”

The main takeaway I got from my talk with Brian is that following his passion is more of a duty unto himself more than it is to anything or anyone else. While Brian still struggles to stay true to his roots and to find a way to reward his passion in monetary terms, he does his best to stay positive and to keep with it – and mainly because he doesn’t feel he has a choice. In other words, it’s his kodawari.

brian: I think there’s a fine line between passion and obsession. The line can blur and maybe I do spend too much time doing this.

koda|moda: Would you have it any other way?

brian: I don’t think I have a choice.

– heats

Brian’s websites: