It’s Friday night in Toronto - which of the 12 events that you’ve clicked ‘attending’ on are you actually going to? Better yet, which one will actually be worth it? In a city known for its nightlife, and one where nearly everyone is a promoter, it becomes increasingly difficult and crucial to make an event stand out from the crowd. Enter NUDE, a event production and artist management company that is challenging the norm. We sat down with founder Zachary Roher to discuss his vision, the future and the importance of community.
NUDE began in Montreal, where Roher was eager to do something different for the scene: “I thought I could combine my love of music, and musicians I knew, and my love of art, and the artists I knew, and curate events that didn’t focus on getting drunk or trying to get laid” - a focus that sometimes can seem unrivaled in major cities like Toronto or Montreal. In keeping with his vision, the first ever NUDE event featured over
20 art pieces by Jenna LaRose and music by Kaytranada - who was relatively unknown at the time - in a loft in Old Montreal. Stimulating and different, NUDE garnered buzz and grew from there. Since it’s inception, Roher has thrown countless events in both Montreal and Toronto, which aim to maintain a balance of focus on both art and music, rather than one or the other taking the spotlight, or one exclusively. As well as events, NUDE produces concerts, manages and represents artists and musicians, and, after working with over 70 visual artists, has hopes to begin dealing art in the future.
NUDE recently partnered with the Soho House Toronto for a series of which feature guest curators, each with a different overall theme. One of the most important features of a successful NUDE event is finding a musician or DJ to complement an artist, or vice versa. For example, the first of the series featured Toronto-based illustrator Gyimah Gariba, whose aesthetic, Roher felt, was perfectly complemented by one of his own artists, Birthday Boy, as well as the Toronto-based DJs Happy Boy Tona and Bambii. The cohesion of art and music is what ensures the flow of the event.
Another installation was presented in collaboration with Undisposable, a photographer with a similar approach to NUDE, and ACC Studios, a group of designers, artists and musicians, who Roher calls ‘one of the most interesting groups of creatives he’s ever seen’. A more interactive show took take place on Monday, May 4 at the Soho House Toronto (192 Adelaide St W).
Another major facet of what makes NUDE events what they are, is the spaces in which they happen. The loft in Old Montreal is probably the most conventional - and even that is a step away from a nightclub or art gallery. One of the first Toronto NUDE events took place in a barber shop on College, with then up-and-coming 19-year old producer Harrison and Birthday Boy, and artists Jimmy Chiale and Matt Cohen. If the talent wasn’t impressive enough, the unique space definitely added to the overall experience. Common to the loft, the Soho House and the barber shop are not their aesthetic, but that they reinforce the notion that these parties are offering something different.
The success NUDE has seen since moving to Toronto has been huge, but it wasn’t easy at first. The differences between Montreal and Toronto are very evident, says Roher: “When I first got here two years ago, it was a shock - I didn’t know where the culture was. Compared to Montreal, the community was way more sporadic. When I left Montreal, everyone supported each other. If I did an event, everyone else would be there - if they did an event, we would be there. It was always like a community.”
This isn’t to say that there was no culture in Toronto - there was in fact more of it, and finding a place to situate himself in a new city was the challenge: “Getting to know everyone is so overwhelming - I threw two weekly events for a year and it took that much to really understand everyone, where I wanted to fit in - it’s definitely hard.” He says he has since seen some changes in the right direction in terms of community support, though, which helps artists and promoters alike. He has even branded a unique hashtag - #NUDEfam - driving home the idea that family, community and support are at the heart of his operation: “I have always wanted to support artists and musicians I work with, and vice versa - that’s always been the point. I think if I can help someone be greater, they can only help me.”
On top of throwing events, Roher also manages three producers - Birthday Boy, Nightizm and Shagabond - and has plans to offer similar services for visual artists as well, such as representation and art dealing. He says the quality of some of the artists he has worked with is as good as anything he’s ever seen, so the next step of setting up a platform for their further exposure seems natural: “I find if we connect these artists with people to buy their art then the resources will improve, and then the art will improve, and it’s an amazing cycle.” Also, having just recently launched their official website, a potential editorial is in the discussion stage. And, in keeping with the off-center vibe of NUDE overall, it won’t be just any old article - “I want it to be like an art piece - I want there to be a lot more that goes into it, I want it to be an experience to go through it.”
This seems to be the common theme in all of Roher’s endeavors, and we are excited for what’s to come.
NUDE definitely offers something new and refreshing for Toronto’s scene, shedding light on artists that truly deserve the recognition. Stay up to date with all of NUDE’s projects at collectifnude.com