I visited Triple 7 on a frigid evening in late December. Located in Vieux Hull only steps away from Terrasses de la Chaudière, a neon sign assured me they were open. Downtempo bass music swelled as I opened the door.
By: Aileen Duncan
My first impressions were formed by the quirky artwork by Steph Limage, and a choice collection of vintage clothing. I noticed evidence of a potluck. I followed the music and found myself in an event space. The main collaborators running the space were jamming, following the Capricorn birthday party earlier that afternoon. I was taken by the lighting, decorations, and the positive vibrations in the room.
Aymara Alvarado Sanchez and Julie Gauthier wrapped up their set to give me a little tour of the venue. Alongside Adam Vegys, these three artists have launched the space as Triple 7. Each of them brings different experiences to the table. Alvarado Sanchez spoke about growing up in Mexico City where her parents are also involved in the arts. Upon moving to Ottawa-Gatineau, she found the underground cultural scene in part by joining le Temporaire, which was a practice space for music and art.
After le Temporaire closed, Triple 7 took over the unit. Gauthier and Vegys are a husband-wife duo who have been throwing parties and working in the electronic music scene. Julie has lived in several major Canadian cities and sells vintage clothing at festivals, and Vegys also produces music as Spiritually Minded. His beats have been noticed on community radio and made Apt613’s list of top 40 local tracks from 2017.
WHAT IS TRIPLE 7?
Since launching in October 2016, Triple 7 have begun curating events and workshops. Recurring events include Art Jams and Freedom of Assembly, a dance party where they collaborate with other producers for music, visuals, and decorations. They also host workshops, which have included street art stencilling, gift-making with essential oils, and masquerade masks.
“It is the concept, and the community. We can move with the community.”
Triple 7 has been attracting a wide variety of people, and they like it that way. Most can be described as “creative people”, which suggests anyone with an open-mind would be welcome. Presently there is a focus on electronic music, but they expressed interest in facilitating events with bands and other types of music. The venue is available to be rented as well, but Gauthier feels it’s important for the people they work with to align with their values and vision.
“The events that happen here are an extension and a representation of who we are, what we’re doing, and what we’re building,” said Gauthier.
Community seems to be one of the most important things for Triple 7, and electronic music is one way to support each other.
Between laughs, Vegys put it well, “Without dancing, there’s no community. Without food, and people, and a good beat, there is no community.” Alvarado Sanchez also spoke about the importance of engaging younger people and having events that are all-ages.
As we spoke, I came to understand that their vision for Triple 7 is much deeper—and more ambitious—than simply a venue. At its simplest, Triple 7 is a place where artists and creative people can collaborate, be supported, and nourish each other.
Increasing creativity and feelings of connecting to one’s community is the anticipated change on the local level, but their goals can’t be fully described without mentioning their foundation of philosophy and spirituality.
What sets Triple 7 apart from other spaces is a desire to speak about the negative effects of capitalism—namely, systemic oppression based on intersecting factors such as class, race, gender, ability, and language.
“It’s time for something else and something new,” said Gauthier. “I believe in the idea of stimulating and creating our own sustainable economy.”
They’re trying to do something revolutionary that benefits society, while also making a living as an artist. If somewhat anti-capitalist, they are realistic about keeping the space sustainable. Gauthier expressed a willingness to bring in elements of the sharing economy into their business, such as trading skills for entrance into events.
For example, Triple 7 are looking to translate their website into French and Spanish. It’s one of the main reasons they want to collaborate with as many people as possible. When working with other artists on events or workshops, they will bring new people to the space, and keep a portion of funds to invest back into the venue.
A SPACE FOR TODAY
It’s a promising beginning for Triple 7. Awareness is spreading via word of mouth, and there’s a sense of excitement about the venture. There’s certainly a need for spaces like Triple 7 in the artistic community.
Yet, Triple 7 don’t have the option of building up momentum; the building been sold, and is slated for demolition at some point. Knowing this has given Triple 7 a timeline within which they intend to outgrow the space, and a freedom to turn the space into “this crazy explosive blossom of glory that maybe they won’t tear down, because it becomes a work of art in itself”.
Gatineau’s Heidelberg project, perhaps? Regardless, it isn’t just about the space.
As Alvarado Sanchez said, “It is the concept, and the community. We can move with the community.”
TO HULL WITH IT
Naturally, we spoke the challenges and opportunities about their location in Vieux Hull. There are advantages from lower rent and utility costs, but are there other factors for an emerging business to consider?
While Triple 7 is quite close to the Chaudière bridge, there are some barriers between Ottawa and Gatineau.
Certainly, one of the reasons people feel the separation between these two cities is the language. It’s a touchy subject.
I asked some friends over brunch whether a venue located in Hull is perceived as a disincentive. One friend, Jeffrey, admitted he feels uncomfortable in Hull because he hasn’t learned French. As for my bilingual friends, they were more concerned with transportation, especially the challenge of getting home at the end of the night. We concluded that there is a willingness to cross the bridge when there is something unique worth travelling for, and when it has been advertised bilingually.
At Triple 7, only Alvarado Sanchez speaks French fluently. However, all three are making an effort.
“I try to integrate,” said Vegys.
“A little bit of French goes a long way.”
Gautheir added, “You know how it is when you go traveling and you’re trying to say some of the words and [locals love it]? People forget that in Canada we have this other language. Even if you don’t have the pronunciation, you’re acknowledging that there’s another language over here and that people are fighting for their language.”
Community spaces are important in the development of the city, both personally and creatively.
Could artistic collaborations be the key to building authentic connections between Ottawa and Gatineau? Time will tell, mais j’espère que oui.
* Visit the Triple 7 website