Kate Killet has a running bit “that I repeat too much,” about how she’s “the next Andy Warhol but, like, better.” She says this self-effacingly, belying the truth of her being the scene queen of Toronto, a heavy crown that comes with a sense of responsibility and gratitude. She loves her community of weirdos, and she works hard on its behalf. A relentless booster of all things local and DIY, Killet is the founder and president of POSIVIBEZ, the “interdisciplinary art collective” that serves as a beacon for Canada’s counterculture. In this capacity, and as a longtime journalist and photographer, Killet has taken it upon herself to document all the real wild ones who make up both the local and touring-through freak scene of Toronto. Her Polaroids serve as a visual history of the music that thrives, against all odds, in the shadow of monoculture. While primarily working in digital, Killet has always appreciated the derring-do required to work with film and for over 10 years has been showing up at shows and award events with a Polaroid camera in hand.
The Polaroid medium—which Killet believes is “less intimidating than all the digital gear”—has its own utilitarian allure and a playful nature that tends to draw out even the most shy of musicians. In turn this allows Killet, who fondly recalls the feeling of access she got as a teen reading old issues of NME, to pay that feeling of being there forward, by documenting “vibes for the kids” who may be just as hungry for a window into the underground (and the less cornball landscapes that occasionally appear, like Mitski mirages, in the aboveground of pop culture) as she was as a wee alt.
Whether it’s a loose and joyful shot of Buffy Sainte-Marie (an opportunity Killet describes as “quick and magical”), a capture of a simultaneously stern and flamboyant Snotty Nose Rez Kids, or a playful Jesse Reyez throwing up the universal sign for “I like 60-degree angles so much I want to eat them,” Killet’s photos conjure an alternate world where musicians can coolly exist—outside of the false binary of photoshopped and anodyne promos or party-photographer performative sleaze—and just be. The pictures document a scene, both casually glamorous and willfully egalitarian, that Killet has devoted her life to cultivating, where no one is interested in the trappings of 15-minute fame, but everyone’s a superstar.