Media, Darling: Karen Bliss

Karen Bliss is an established music
journalist for various print and web publications. She is currently the
Canadian correspondent for, writes for
, MSN, AOL’s
Noisecreep, Elle Canada, SOCAN’s Words & Music and more. Along the way, she
has interviewed everyone from Eminem to Shania Twain, Jimmy Page to Britney
Spears. Karen also created an anti-racism animated PSA, The Girl With Pinhead Parents, voiced by Nelly Furtado, Chris Bosh, Jully Black and others
Last summer, she started a record label, Daycare Records, with
musician/producer Luther Mallory 
(former frontman for Crush Luther and now bassist
and producer with Fortune, fronted by JD Fortune)
. Their first signing is woe-is-me indie-pop
act The Danger Bees (album out this summer). She also owns and operates,
 an online magazine about people,
charities and businesses making a difference. She has interviewed many musicians
for the site.

Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I actually became a music journalist
because I have no talent. I wanted to be in the music business and this was the
only way I knew how. Of course, as a small child I wanted to be a veterinarian,
and later, briefly thought it would be cool to be a cop or a criminal lawyer, but that was before I discovered The Rolling Stones and started going to all
the concerts I could during high school. I still dream of being a race car driver and/or an astronaut.

Where would you like to be five years from
Doing exactly the same thing, but to a
higher and more accomplished degree.

Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
I typically say I am in the music business.
I consider that my industry. But for someone who would specifically like to be
a music journalist, you have to learn how to construct news and feature
articles (take courses and also look at how well-written articles are
constructed) and become entrenched in music. Go out to see bands, get to know how
the business works, attend panels at conferences such as CMW and NXNE, and
network. In terms of the “journalist” part, I believe I make my living from
ideas. Without them, I would be broke. To me, I’m not interviewing musicians; I
am interviewing people — and everyone has a story. It’s your job to discover
that story from the interviewee and write about it in an accurate and
compelling way.

What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
I am obsessed with hard news, more than
music journalism. I watch all those one- or two-hour investigative reports,
such as Dateline, NBC Real Life Mysteries, as well as 60 Minutes and 20/20. I
also love Anderson Cooper’s interviews; he approaches them with heart and intelligence
and is not afraid to call someone out.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Too many to mention.
I have talked about this before, but
don’t want to put it out there on the Internet, never to be erased.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
In terms of my writing, very early on an
editor was going over one of my articles and said to me, “What are you trying
to say here?” So I answered. And he said, “Well, write that. Stop trying so
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
don’t live my life by any one rule. Maybe thou shalt not kill.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
Try and work with the journalist, even if the
request isn’t part of your current schedule ie. if an interview is requested
but it’s between albums or a tour to promote. Also, please help when
fact-checking is needed. Too often, publicists’ main agenda is to set up the
interview and afterwards there are some who can’t be bothered to help to
double-check names, dates and other information. The ones that do are the best
in their field in my books because they care about the accuracy of the final

Often, when I transcribe an interview, there are holes that need to be
filled or things people say that don’t make sense. I need the publicist to help
check facts with the artist or management, so I’m not just regurgitating false
info from misspoken quotes or the Internet. When I know the person I
interviewed, and can call or email directly, they often say, “Oh, I meant such
and such” or “Oh, it wasn’t 2005; it was 2008. Sorry.” Some publicists only
care that the article comes out. 

Also, sometimes I am asked repeatedly over
weeks to interview someone; I finally do, and the article comes out; I send the
link and I don’t hear a word back — not even a “thanks.” 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Too many to mention. My best experiences
are with competent publicists who get you all the materials you need to make a
good interview, go beyond the call of duty if you need something for a
particular story, and, as noted, will help fact-check. And also actually do send
the interview request to management and don’t just say “No” without trying.
I hate? 
Laziness, incompetence, excuses,
cigarette smoke, the drunk next to me at a concert, and walnuts.
I love?  
Music, talent, drive, intelligence, British humour, exotic food, big
dogs, Withnail & I.
I most recently read Michael
Eisner’s Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed because I have two of
the greatest partners I could hope for: Farley Flex for The Girl with Pinhead
and another, still-in-the-works sports venture; and Luther Mallory for
Daycare Records. I know I’m not always the easiest partner so this collection
of stories on various successful partners — from Eisner and Frank Wells
(Disney) to Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway) — provides
great insight into working together.
Best place on earth? 
I have climbed the steps inside the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt,
scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but I still think home is
the best place on earth.
Dinner guest? 
Keith Richards, Martin Luther
King Jr., John Lennon, my friends and family.
Don’t have one. I admire many people,
usually those who are committed and hard working, don’t make excuses and go for
what they want in life.  I also admire
people who quit complaining about their jobs, quit, and pursue what they really
want to do.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Don’t have one.
Pool or ocean? 
Does one of these come with
the completion of this questionnaire? I’m not picky; surprise me.
Voicemail or email? 
Email for quick
messages or questions, but prefer talking on the phone for anything that needs
more in-depth discussion, clarification or brainstorming.

Fashion-able: Hot Nails for Summer

Come summertime, your nails are your greatest accessory. Hands are out of gloves, toes are exposed… whether you like it or not, all nails are on display. Today, we present a few ways we will be having fun with our nails this summer.


A neon rainbow!
Image source.

Neons are showing up everywhere and we love a bright neon pink or orange, especially on toes. Our recs? Summer Pink by Pixi Beauty, Neon Red by American Apparel, Glowstick by Orly and Orange You Hot? by China Glaze.

Caviar Manicures

Ciate Caviar Manicure.
Image source.

We’re intrigued by these texturized manicures involving tiny microbeads stuck to the nail. Not really appropriate for a regular day at the office (no one wants to be blamed for a floor covered in beads), this would be fun for a wedding or bachelorette party this summer. Ciate offers a caviar manicure kit for $25 from Sephora, or you can invest in a thick topcoat and package of microbeads (also called bullion beads) from a craft store for less than $10.

Nail Art

An Erdem-inspired manicure from FASHION Magazine.
Image source.

Inspiration is everywhere for
complex manicures that look more like miniature works of art than nail designs.
FASHION Magazine’s Nail Corner
has us in awe every week, while the f*ckyeahnailart
tumblr collects some of the most intense manicures from across the Internet. Try typing Nail Art into YouTube for step-by-step instructions – over
79,000 tutorials show up!

Cupcakes for your nails!
Image source.

If you lack a steady hand (or
patience, creativity, an unending supply of nail polish colours, etc.), you
might want to have a professional step in. Tips
Nail Bar
 in Toronto is especially good for creative, out-of-the-box manis.

Nail Decals

Regular nail polish doesn’t get this shiny. Image source.

Nail decals are another fun
option. “Protective coatings” for your nails, they’re basically
stickers that can last up to two weeks. A favourite of celebrities like Beyonce, Katy Perry and Blake Lively, Minx
make some of the craziest designs. A number of salons in Toronto apply
them, or you can buy a package off eBay
for significantly less and easily do it yourself. 

A design for every occasion! 
Image source.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips offer a similar
effect. You can get them at most drugstores, or at Winners, where they’re usually discounted by a few dollars. 


Ombre nails in Tangerine – this season’s hottest colour
Image source & tutorial.

It was only a matter of time before the ombre trend moved from hair and clothing to nails. We’ve seen it done two ways: one nail with gradients of colour (like above), or gradients of colour going across all five nails (below). A great look for any girl who’s looked at her nail polish collection and realized she bought almost the exact same colour five times.

Only skill needed to create this look is excessive nail polish purchasing.
Image source.

Rave: Childhood treats

Here on the fourth floor we love good candy from time to time. Besides adding them to our weekly Yogurty’s creations, on occasion we’ll run out and grab ourselves a sweet afternoon pick-me-up.

While we miss the days of penny candies that actually cost a penny, certain treats have a nostalgic effect and bring back memories of our childhood summers. Below is a round up of candies we loved while growing up (and still love).

The everlasting candy. These gems were great as a candy option you could enjoy for hours, as opposed to devouring in the first 10 minutes. The small ones were the right size for us when we were kids, but now we’d probably need one of the jumbo ones to occupy us. 

Big Foot
Classic, delicious and fruity. Big Foot candies were always a staple in our 5-cent candy bags when perusing the aisle. Now they’re available in different flavours, which brings a whole new ball game. We especially love the raspberry flavoured ones. 

Pop Rocks
Both a noisy and delicious candy option. How many people tried the pop rocks and soda combo to see if that urban myth was true? After rigorous testing, this was proven false by children everywhere. Then more scientifically by the Mythbusters.

Fruit Roll-ups
While we’re not sure exactly how much real fruit is used, or Vitamin C you can get from a Roll-up, we can tell you how delicious these are. Rolling them up and putting them on your fingers, cutting out shapes or eye holes, or smushing them into a ball – these were a perfect recess snack.  

Another example of a great recess snack from our youth…and surprisingly hard to find photos of online. Sodalicious were the perfect combination of two things we love(d), soda and candy. With the different flavours we swore tasted exactly like Orange Crush, root beer, Grape Crush or 7-UP, you had to eat them the proper way, the top first, then the rest of the bottle. Plus, who can forget the awesome commercial – so Soda-licious! 

Fun Dips
Essentially bags of sugar that you dip a sugar stick into. As a kid (or maybe young adult…) what’s not to love?

While not exactly candy, these are quite possibly the perfect summer treat. You could break it in half to share with a friend, or eat it as fast as possible before it melted. Remember when you could win prizes and earn points on your popsicle sticks? We sure do. 

Fave 5: Places to buy swimsuits

Much like sunglasses, the guidelines for the perfect trendy-yet-flattering swimsuit are fairly generous. Over the years it has generally been the patterns and details that have changed and evolved while the shapes and structures have remained basically the same. We all know that different shapes work for different body types, so whether it’s a classic triangle bikini, bandeau or high waisted short shorts you’re after, here are our five favourite shops to find the perfect swimsuit. 

The Narwhal 8 Price St. 
Let’s start with some of the most incredible bikinis we’ve seen in a while. While the Narwhal is not strictly a swimsuit store, they do carry Mara Hoffman swimwear, need we say more? The bright and vibrant patterns as well as the flattering shapes of her swimsuits make us wish every day was a beach day.

We love the simple shapes with bold patterns.
Ah, to be at the beach…

Sandpipers 87 Yorkville Ave. & 2580 Yonge St.
With locations both downtown and uptown, Sandpipers is a convenient one-stop shop for all things swim. With over 15 brands including Vix, Australian designer Sea Folley and Agua Bendita, there is sure to be a bather for every body shape and occasion. 

Crazy patterns from Agua Bendita.
A classic Vix L.B.B (Little Black Bikini).

Victoria’s Secret Eaton Centre & Yorkdale Mall
Ever since we can remember, we have been loyal Victoria’s Secret swimsuit customers. The endless options, quick shipping and great sales made ordering from them a no-brainer. So imagine our delight when Victoria’s Secret opened in Toronto! Usually when American stores open up north of the border, prices seem to sky rocket. Luckily this was not the case here. Mix and match away, each piece costs as little as $15. 

A couple of our favourite new arrivals at Victoria’s Secret.

If you haven’t yet scoped out the bathing scene at H&M we suggest you go… right now. Much like most of the highly coveted pieces at H&M, the shelf life of these stylish pieces is pretty much non-existent. With bottoms for $5.95, grab as many as you can and you will have a new combination for every occasion this summer. 

Great as sets or as mix and match pieces. We can’t wait to see what H&M has to offer next. 

With all this talk of swimsuits we’re thinking we better hit up the gym. Summer is just around the corner and we plan on being bikini ready. 

Photo Friday: Neon

Because the warmer weather makes us drowsy, especially on Fridays, we wanted to give a new post type a whirl. Introducing Photo Friday, where we’ll post a Tumblr-esque series of photos that we love. Easy reading for you and fun for us. 

First up? Neon. 

Image source.

Media, Darling: Mary Kitchen

Mary Kitchen delivers the latest entertainment stories making headlines in Toronto, Hollywood and beyond, as the entertainment anchor on CityNews on Citytv and CityNews Channel.

Mary’s knowledge of all things fashion, music, television, film and the arts keeps viewers on the pulse of Toronto’s vibrant entertainment scene night after night. From red carpets and breaking entertainment news, to exclusive interviews with national and international celebrities, Mary anchors the Entertainment City segment on CityNews at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on Citytv and CityNews Channel. She is also a regular contributor to Breakfast Television, keeping viewers informed on updates from Canada’s Got Talent, and is the voice of digital reality series Canada’s Best Beauty Talent.

Previously she was a reporter for Fashion Television Channel and travelled around the globe interviewing celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna and Natalie Portman. As host of Red Carpet Diary at the Toronto International Film Festival, she has interviewed A-list celebrities, including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen.

Did you always
want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
No, I never knew this was really a job I
could have. I got into the business in a roundabout way, starting as an actor.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Working with happy people and telling
good stories.
Any advice for people getting started in your
I think it has to be a part of who you
are, it’s not something you can force. It has to be in your nature. I think you
either have an innate appetite for this stuff or you don’t. And you must be
prepared to sleep very little!
What are your favourite media outlets, not including
your own?, the Globe and Mail, New York
and Interview Magazine.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Not sure of my best interview, but there
are best moments. Woody Allen is fascinating, Emily Blunt and Mark Ruffalo are
two of my favourites because they’re always so generous. I was in awe of Tilda
Swinton. I had the biggest CAN Lit crush on Margaret Atwood. Sometimes you’re
disappointed though, so I’m happy that there are a few of my favourites that
remain a mystery. I’d never want to interview James Gandolfini and feel let
Not sure if it’s the worst, but it was the most
disappointing: Julian Schnabel. I was so looking forward to speaking with him,
as I’m a huge fan of his work. It was on a red carpet. He walked up to me and
asked if I saw the movie and I said no (as there was no press screening) and he
gave me a really hard time about it. The clip played on 98.1 CHFI, and for
years people asked me why he was such a jerk.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Kurt Russell told me that “the
business picks you,” meaning to not worry what I was supposed to do in this
business. I guess he meant that if you fit in, if it’s meant to be, you’ll find
your way. My aunt Heather also told me the hardest thing in life is to be
yourself, so strive for it.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
See answer above… and, I really think it’s
important to not take yourself too seriously, and to laugh a lot. Try to be as
healthy as you can, and to find the magic in life.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
People in media are on such tight
deadlines: we don’t have any time, so do the work. Write the story, or set up
the shoot theoretically and approach journalists with a creative ideas. Give
journalists a package and make it easy. In the end, we both want to get great
stories out there.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to
hear about #wins.
George Clooney’s publicist – he was just
such a nice guy. He’s calm and knows his stuff. He treats people with respect
and gets the job done, and does it all in a very elegant manner. Same with all
of the great studio publicists, the best are always great to talk with.
I hate?
I don’t like uptight people, or people
who take themselves too seriously. I don’t like nastiness or bad-spirited
I love?
Movies (drive-in movies, in particular),
surfing, animals, Jay-Z, art, laughter and telling good stories. Organized
publicists are great at helping with that.
Reading for work right now, just
finished The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey (like
everyone else). 
Best place on earth?
Family cottage, and anywhere I can go
Dinner guest?
I would love to have Judy Garland or
Lady Di for dinner (I think Diana would have been a great interview).
My mom and sister.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these
Just downloaded the new Santigold album
and Girls. Also addicted to Game of Thrones, New Girl and American Horror Story. No favourite app.
Pool or ocean?
Voicemail or email?

Rave: Best Skin Seminar – Summer Radiance

The lovely folks at Consonant Skincare regularly hold Best Skin Seminars out of their store (2479 Yonge St.), since education is such a huge part of their mandate. Along with producing innovative products, they strive to contribute to their patrons’ overall well-being. Held on what felt like the year’s first really sunny Monday, their latest seminar was aptly titled “Summer Radiance”. The seminar featured two experts — Marina Cortese (, a holistic nutritionist and Donna Bishop (, a green beauty expert and founder of Bamboo Magazine — each of whom applied their area of expertise to the theme of “summer radiance”. We’ve decided to share the knowledge with our faithful readers. 

Healthy Eating for Healthy Skin

With warmer weather comes the return of delicious, in-season produce. For many of us, this means that our diets naturally tend to integrate more raw foods. Raw foods are rich in enzymes, which are a great source of fibre, water and skin-beautifying vitamins and minerals, all of which are fantastic for your skin. 

Raw, delicious food. 

Hot weather also means our beverage consumption increases (and no, we aren’t talking about cocktails!). We’re sure you’ve heard it before, but water is your #1 beauty food. It makes up 75% of our body, and keeps skin and organs healthy by flushing out toxins. As the body’s largest detoxifying organ, water is supremely important to our skin and in the summer months it is essential to keep hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your weight in water (for example, 150 lbs = 75 ounces of water) daily.

Alongside water, you should be drinking lots of fresh juices*. Juicing is a great way to deliver vitamins and minerals directly to your body, helping to energize you and support your body in cleansing. Think of it as a heroin injection of antioxidants. The combinations are endless, but the juice Marina brought was especially delicious: cucumber, celery, green apple, mint and lemon (she called it the “green zinger”, one sip and we could see why). 

Elixir of beautiful skin. 

To close out the seminar, Marina left us with her “Top 10 Food Beauty Tips”:
– Hydrate
– Chew your food (should be paste-like, to decrease the work for your digestive system)
– A juice a day keeps the doctor away
– Listen to your body
– Eat a variety of foods and rotate (don’t eat the same thing everyday)
– Eat organic, “happy” foods (think of meat as a treat, not an everyday staple)
– Eat nutrient-dense food
– Do some spring-cleaning
– Quit your bad habits
– Have fun and never feel guilty!

*We are not talking about Tropicana here. Juice means fresh-squeezed, no sugar added or from concentrate nonsense. And juice doesn’t just mean fruit – veggies are an amazing juice ingredient, too.

Healthy Makeup and Skin Care

Before launching into summer skin care, Donna gave us an overview of the cosmetics industry and, damn, is it a terrifying landscape. Donna compared it to the “wild west” — impurities and by-products don’t need to be listed on product labels, there’s no standardized testing of products before going to market, and companies often hide behind the guise of “proprietary information”. If we weren’t sold on organic products before, we certainly are now. 

Moving on to summer-specific skin care, Donna’s guidance was fairly straightforward — sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen. The sun is the #1 cause of skin damage, with 80% of damage happening before the age of 18. Yikes. She also gave us a general rule of thumb as to the difference between UVA and UVB rays: UVA rays age us, while UVB rays burn us. 

Lotion up!

During the summer months, especially with more of our bodies being exposed to the sun, we should always be wearing sunscreen. Donna suggests applying it after your shower as part of your morning routine to ensure you don’t forget. Curious as to how much you should use? A good guideline is using a shot glass full per adult. And steer clear of spray or powder sunscreens, as you end up inhaling just as much as goes on your body. Gross. 

Organic sunscreens get a bad rap. They tend to have difficulty blending into the skin and end up looking like you’re slathering a white paste all over. However, there are brands making great strides to be both good for you and easy to use. Donna’s tried-and-trusted favourite organic brands include Devita, Original Sprout and UV Natural

Donna’s favourite organic sunscreen.

When applying sunscreen this summer, try to put it on 30 minutes before going into the sun to allow time for it to absorb properly. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your forearms and hands daily. We tend to focus on our faces, while forgetting that our hands often belie our age first.  Finally, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by high SPFs. Studies show that anything above a 30 SPF offers only marginally more protection than a 30 SPF, so you should still reapply every 1-2 hours you’re in the direct sun.

Interested in learning more about your best skin? Upcoming Best Skin Seminars as as follows:June
4, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy Aging

June 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Summer Radiance
July 96:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy Eating for
Healthy Skin (Advanced Course)

July 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Healthy
Eating for Healthy Skin (Advanced Course)*

For more information, please call Consonant Skincare at 416.925.2855.

*tentative date, subject to change.