Toronto Experimental Artists

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Toronto Experimental Artists (also known as TEA) began around 1988 as an independent, artist-run cassette label. It was founded by Mark Harrington and Ed Sinclair, who were then students at York University in Toronto, Canada. Within a year or so, it expanded to include their joint independent video productions (some of which were music-related, some humorous, and some were social commentaries in documentary form). The predominant goal of the artists involved was to experiment with various electronic media, and use these in new or interesting ways to create significant works of art on a very low budget. Often obsolete or older technology was employed such as reel to reel four track machines or a Casio SK1 Sampler Keyboard which was designed more as a toy than a real instrument. With the desktop publishing revolution, small press publications (photocopied chapbooks or zines) became another low-cost, low-tech means of communication embraced by the artists involved. In the spirit of Factory Records (i.e. the New Order 'label' as seen in 24-Hour Party People) TEA was meant to be a non-label, inasmuch as there was no 'business' end to it, and is/was very much DIY.

Between the years of 1990 and 1996, Ed Sinclair transformed the moniker of his part of the TEA umbrella to reflect his more socially relevant documentaries and films about the environment. His version of TEA became known as Toronto Environmental Artists and his early film and video work was placed on that label until 1999 when he formed the company "Electric Body Productions Inc" for his first long format dance film for Bravo! Television, Ohm: dance through an electric eye.

Around 1989, Mark Harrington began performing live on his own (after leaving the electronic band Heik and the Shakes). He often appeared at the Toronto's Spadina Hotel in the 'Cabana Room', where bands such as Barenaked Ladies, Rheostatics, and By Divine Right were regular performers. After a few cassette releases, Harrington's 1st CD (the 1st CD release on the TEA label), Capricorn Flakes, included not just the expected alt-pop fare, but a track called Message. It was a spoken-word anti-industry satire on the music business. Ed Sinclair directed the music video for the Harrington song Beg to Differ from the Capricorn Flakes CD. Harrington still releases music under his own name, but also created an offshoot project that varied in style from his other work, so a new name was chosen: Rubbernekkerz.

Harrington continues to make new music in his spare time north of Toronto, in a project studio named TEAudio. He is available for post-production, production, and mastering work.


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