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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Mykell Bowden, Lanie Davis, Haylee Finn, Emily Jacks, Sydney Maes, Marisa Neil, Amanda Puglisi, Jessica Pulos, Paige Williams FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHERS: Mykell Bowden, Caroline Finn, Haylee Finn, Rachel Leonard, Taryn Poe, Jessica Pulos, Linda Wang, Paige Williams GRAPHIC DESIGN: Jessica Pulos COVER PHOTO AND POLAROIDS: Linda Wang LAYOUT: Rachel Leonard FOUNDER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Rachel Leonard


We survived 2016! Congrats, everyone. As we prepare for the new year, we’ve set up a new magazine layout for you once again. Hopefully this one is a bit more streamlined and enjoyable for you all. This time around, we’re featuring some of the greatest guys I know. Flor and Lostboycrow are two of the top artists you’ll want to keep an eye on during the upcoming year. I’m very greatful that they were willing to work with us for this issue and I’m so excited to see everything they accomplish in the new year. As always, thank you to everyone who helped out with this issue including my incredible staff and the amazing publicists and artists we were fortunate enough to work with for this issue. I hope you all enjoy it. -Rachel Leonard







Walking into the Boston House of Blues on a Tuesday night for a show would normally bring an immense amount of excitement and energy, but this Tuesday, November 8th was a little different. Waterparks, Tonight Alive, and co-headliners State Champs and Sleeping With Sirens just happened to be making this stop on their “End the Madness” tour on 2016 election night. I walked in anxious for the impending election but excited for the temporary distraction.

it that night. Their setlist was a mixture of older crowd favorites like “The Edge” or “The Ocean” and newer songs like “Drive” and “Waves.” Fans sang loudly together and joined Jenna in uplifting themselves. At one point she took a rainbow flag from an audience member and wore it around on stage before hanging it from her microphone proudly. Not an ounce of hate or judgement could be felt. It brought a smile to my face in addition to the many others around me.

Waterparks started the night off with an energy that made me feel as though I was experiencing the scene for the first time again. They brought the banter and electric energy that captures the hearts of young people looking to dance and have a good night before seeing their favorite band. There was a bit of nostalgia that came with watching their set. As I watched their stage presence and soaked up music, I was reminded of 2009 and 2010 when I first saw bands like Forever the Sickest Kids or All Time Low as they were making a name for themselves. Waterparks showed that they have the talent to win the hearts of a generation just like the scene I grew up in won mine.

After their set I had gotten to the point where I had been anxiously glancing over to the bar dozens of times and things had started to take a turn with the election. Donald Trump was winning electoral votes that made the difference in his forthcoming win against Hillary Clinton. I became a little more on edge with how the night was progressing and was ready to lose myself to the surrounding room.

Tonight Alive came on after Waterparks with their positive energy and wonderful message of self-empowerment. This band, and especially lead singer Jenna McDougall, manages to make everyone in the room believe in themselves and others even if it’s just for a moment. Truthfully, everyone needed

State Champs performed before Sleeping With Sirens on this night but that didn’t stop anyone in the room from bringing their A-game. From the first notes played to the last, there were rarely moments when the room wasn’t in a frenzy. I was at ease in the mass of people pushing into each other and screaming, fully immersed in the crowd of people all looking to escape just as I was - even if it was just for a couple of hours. The pulse of the kick drum, the thump of the bass line, and the flow of the lights guided the movement happening around me. Lead singer Derek

DiScanio has a way of hyping up the crowd in front of him with his own passion for the set he’s performing. It’s one thing to use words and ask the crowd to get excited, but it’s even more effective when the lead singer is just as fired up as the most lively people in the crowd. Normally I avoid the center of the crowd. I avoid the pit and stay to stage right, but not that night. That night I started in the back until the energy in the room took over and I found any gap I could to slither into the center. The pit opened up to songs from their debut album The Finer Things and maybe even more so during the new songs from their sophomore album Around the World and Back. The connection between the five guys on stage and the rest of the people in the room was one that will be hard to forget. The same energy transcended into Sleeping With Sirens’s set despite the continued path towards a Trump presidency. For a large majority of the people in the room, Sleeping With Sirens brought the same escape I found during State Champs. You could see it in their faces, in the way they moved like one being to the beat of the song. You could see it in the euphoric faces of each member of the band even as they played songs of theirs from as far back as 2010. The presence and production were the best I had ever seen from Sleeping with Sirens. Their lighting was impressive and the risers were captivating as they changed images throughout the set. This was clearly a tour (and a night) they put their hearts

into and it was commendable. Kellin Quinn, lead singer, took a moment to address the event of the evening and reminded everyone in the room to never forget about the safe space we all were in. To never forget how live music brings together an array of people and despite any differences it can still be filled with love and support. It wasn’t overly political, it was just what the room needed to hear. I couldn’t help myself from constantly looking over at TVs in the bar to see the updates on the election as many others were also doing. The constant shaking of heads and deadpanned looks of disbe-

lief were clear signs it wasn’t going the way many of us anticipated. Being this was my first election night where I had participated and one where it went such a different route than predicted, it was a night I will never forget. I will always remember being sweaty and free for just a little bit from the madness of the real world. I feel the need to thank this tour and especially State Champs for bringing such a positive part to the evening. State Champs always bring something special to my life. Any time I have seen them it has been full of life and I leave feeling so whole again. It’s cheesy and I

even cringe a little saying it, but music helps heal. The escape it offers, the joy it brings, and the relationships positively impacted in the lives of listeners is special. I appreciate what that band has done for me even when I didn’t notice. I appreciate the home I have found in those songs, surrounded by strangers holding on to those moments as tightly as I possibly could before being snapped back into reality. The reality of this election is the scariest thing I have seen happen to our country in my lifetime. Luckily we’ll always have music and art to fall back on as a crutch during the difficult times.




Harry Potter and the Cursed Child may read more like bad fan fiction than actual, Rowling-scribed Harry Potter canon, but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fits comfortably into the franchise. Set in New York during the 1920s, Fantastic Beasts gives us an exciting look at not only the wizarding world in America but at some truly fantastic creatures. The story follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he recaptures his escaped beasts and discovers a force threatening New York much deadlier than any creature he’s encountered. Scamander, a shy and loveable Hufflepuff, is joined by Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol) on his adventure, and the four of them make for a group of protagonists as nearly as likeable as the original trio from the books. With it’s exciting plot and compelling characters, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (written by J.K. Rowling herself) really is a must-see for any Potter fan hungry for more of the magical world.




25 NOVEMBER 2016 Whether you grew up watching Gilmore Girls on TV or if you’ve binge watched all seven seasons on Netflix, we can all agree that the news of the Gilmore Girls revival was something to scream and jump about. The revival is comprised of four 90-minute episodes titled A Year in the Life. It’s the same old hyper speed banter, the same fun loving, over caffeinated Gilmore Girls, and the same old Stars Hollow, just the new twenty-first century version. As an avid Gilmore Girls fan, I was skeptical. Many revivals don’t live up to the hype and never live up to the originals, but I was surprised. After so many years, the cast didn’t skip a beat. There are so many familiar faces and many trips down memory lane. Love interests were revisited, one night stands were had, and some new boyfriends were forgotten. Having these episodes really brought closure to some unanswered questions from the original seasons. Although there was a lot of excitement surrounding the revival, there was still a black cloud of grief hovering due to Edward Herrmann’s (Richard Gilmore) passing in 2014. The grief-stricken Gilmore’s must navigate through life like they never have before. Have you binge watched the episodes yet? Do you know the final four words? Prepare for a shock if you haven’t.



words by MYKELL BOWDEN Paradise Fears has always been renowned for their aptitude with acoustic music. From their house shows in the early years to their first two acoustic EPs to their full US Acoustic & in the Round Tour, it has always been at the forefront of the band’s releases and performances. After releasing their second full length album, Life In Real Time, at the end of 2015, it was only a matter of time before they released another acoustic EP. Exactly eleven months later, after a nearly silent year, they dropped Someone Else’s Dream, which transcends acoustic and is something so much more than that. There are five songs from the full length, two new songs, and a rework of fan favorite “Color,” which was released exclusively through VIP on the Live Forever Tour in 2014. “Know Me” and “Turn to Gold,” the new songs on this EP, are my favorite tracks. Both songs have a nostalgic feel that is perfectly conveyed through not only the lyrics, but also the pensive music and the vulnerability lead singer, Sam Miller, projects through his vocals. This is particularly apparent in “Turn to Gold.” According to keyboardist, Michael Walker, the band has been holding on to this song for a few years, and I am glad they finally decided to release it. A final note, “Know Me” is unique in that it features a fan of the band and aspiring singer, Melanie Mergen. She sings back up in the song and it adds a definite sparkle to it. Someone Else’s Dream is a pure piece of artwork that everyone should listen to. It was created by Paradise Fears in all aspects, including recording and production. It holds true to their “roller coaster” nature, pulling the listener through emotional extremes. If you haven’t listened to it or want to relisten, it can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and others. It is my favorite album of 2016 and is definitely worth the listen. If you like what you hear and want to catch them live, Paradise Fears will be playing three shows in New York, Cambridge, and Chicago in the first week of January.


MIDOCA EVERYTHING I NEED 10 NOVEMBER 2016 words by JESSICA PULOS Hailing from the streets of Los Angeles, Midoca brings us his hauntingly beautiful debut EP Everything I Need. The long awaited EP contains a 6 song tracklist, with some features from Lostboycrow and Dark Waves. The EP opens with the eerie and ominous track “What Haunts Me the Most” that sets the whole tone for this entire collective. This EP takes you on a journey of love and heartbreak, gradually descending into a place of self-dependency with lines like “Rely on yourself / No one’s going to save you / You’ve got to save yourself ” in the title track. Closing out the EP, this might be my favorite track solely because it fills you with a sense of finality and closure. “Ichi Go Ichi E” (translating to “one time, one meeting” in Japanese) seems like the most ideal ending to what is an emotional roller coaster of any relationship rightfully represented by each song on this project. Transforming emotions into a melodic longing for people who may not even exist, this EP, as a whole, is a cathartic experience for every person who lends their ear.


Nathan Sykes has experienced success as a member of boyband The Wanted, but now he’s making a name for himself as a solo artist. Over the past year, he’s released several singles, including “Kiss Me Quick” and his popular ballad “Over and Over Again” featuring Ariana Grande. On November 11th, 2016, 11 NOVEMBER 2016 Nathan Sykes released his debut album Unfinished Business after teasing fans for words by LANIE DAVIS over a year, and it was well worth the wait. Sykes’s vocal talent is obvious. His voice is unique, soulful and passionate, giving slower songs like “Famous” and “I Can’t Be Mad” the ability to touch your heart and make you feel his pain. The upbeat songs on Unfinished Business give off a retro vibe with modern influences. “Money” includes the sounds of horns but also features a modern beat breakdown, making for a good mixture of old and new sounds. “Twist” is a feel-good love song that even your grandmother would enjoy. Two standout songs on the album are the opening and closing tracks, “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” and “I’ll Remember You.” Both have big sound and carry powerful messages. In the opening track, Sykes sings about staying true to himself and being patient for a favorable outcome, which represents his journey as a solo artist. The closing track features strings, group vocals, and loads of emotion that make it perfect to bring the album to a close. Unfinished Business is an album packed full of hits, from ballads to dance songs. Nathan Sykes has a unique sound that is multi-generational, and the best part is that he is a genuine artist. Sykes hit the mark with Unfinished Business and is on the way to solo success.



Coming on the heels of the Tony Award winning musical, The Hamilton Mixtape features not only reimaginings of the original songs fans have come to love from the show, several new songs inspired by the musical, and a couple 2 DECEMBER 2016 demos of words by EMILY JACKS songs that didn’t quite make it to the stage. This blend of familiar and new material gives fans of the show a fresh experience with the same story they’ve come to know. Fresh takes on the show’s signature tracks include Ashanti and Ja Rule’s take on the show’s first act gem “Helpless” which toys with listeners’ nostalgia by harkening back to their frequent collaborations in the early 2000s and Chance the Rapper’s heartbreaking take on “Dear Theodosia.” The standout tracks on the album are “An Open Letter” by Watsky (featuring Shockwave), a rapped letter airing grievances against John Adams from the point of view of Alexander Hamilton, and “Wrote My Way Out” by Nas (featuring Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Aloe Blacc) the hook of which samples “Hurricane” from the musical and verses with each rapper showcasing their personal struggle to create a unique path through self-expression. Overall, The Hamilton Mixtape provides a treat to fans of the show who will love the fresh takes on their old favorites, demos of previously unheard songs, and new songs inspired by the show.

THE ROLLING STONES BLUE & LONESOME 2 DECEMBER 2016 words by MARISA NEIL December 2nd marked the release of the Rolling Stones’ first studio album since 2005’s A Bigger Bang. The Stones have made a welcome return to their blues-rock sound with this album, which may attract some new fans as well as pleasing those who’ve been jamming to this legendary band since the 1960s. This bluesy style of rock has grown in popularity over the last few years, so I don’t doubt that the timing of Blue & Lonesome’s release was intentional. Overall, the album hearkens back to the material the Stones released between 1968 and 1972, though perhaps not as remarkable as the likes of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. If you’ve shunned everything the Stones have put out since the 90s, you’ll want to give the new record a chance. Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts haven’t lost their touch and Mick Jagger’s 73-year-old vocal cords can still hold their own, most notably on “Just Your Fool,” “Hate to See You Go,” and the title track. Blue & Lonesome is a worthy addition to the Stones’ extensive discography.


ALBUM REVIEWS THE KILLERS DON’T WASTE YOUR WISHES 18 NOVEMBER 2016 words by MARISA NEIL Since 2006, the Killers have released a Christmas song for Bono’s (RED) charity, and this year they chose to compile their last ten singles into Don’t Waste Your Wishes (released November 18th). All your favorites from 2006’s “A Great Big Sled” to this year’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are available exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music. If you’ve felt like the quality of the Killers’s Christmas singles has dropped over the last few years, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” won’t excite you too much. The track starts off with three minutes of singer Brandon Flowers narrating a personal anecdote about his first white Christmas from his childhood in Payson, Utah. The rest of the track features Flowers’s former schoolteacher Ned Humphrey Hanson singing the classic Christmas tune. Flowers joins in on the second verse, but unless the rest of the band have learned the violin, we hear no trace of them in the new song. It’s a nice cover, but it would have been better if Keuning, Vannucci, and Stoermer made an appearance. Don’t Waste Your Wishes won’t turn you into a Killers fan if you aren’t one already, but it’s nice to have old favorites like “Don’t Shoot Me Santa,” “A Great Big Sled,” and “Boots” all on one album for your holiday listening pleasure. All proceeds from Don’t Waste Your Wishes album sales as well as individual tracks go to (RED).



Going to your first concert? Here are some tips to make the most out of your concert experience.

will thank you.

Tip #1: Leave early. The earlier you get to the venue, the better chance you have of scoring yourself a sweet spot for the show. Not going to a general admission show? Still leave a bit of extra time for travel; you never know what traffic bumps you may hit along the way. You don’t want to end up missing one of your favorite acts.

Tip #4: Bring a small purse or drawstring backpack. It makes it a lot easier to carry merch and keep track of all your concert essentials. If you’re carrying a purse, I recommend a small cross body bag with zippers. The items will stay more securely in your bag, especially while your dancing around with friends to your favorite song.

Tip #2: Dress comfortably. Dressing for a concert in the winter months can be quite tricky. The key is to dress warm, but not too warm. You’re going to be packed into a room with hundreds of other screaming fans; it’s going to get hot. Dress in layers you can easily remove in case of overheating. But, if you’re planning to arrive several hours in advance, bring a heavier coat and maybe even a blanket. Don’t want to carry around all those extra loose articles? Contact the venue and ask if they have a coat check.

*Pro tip: Have your bag open and ready for security to check at the door. You don’t want to be that person to hold up the line.

Also, planning to sport your cutest heels to the show may not be the best idea. You’re going to be standing for an awfully long time. Trade those heels for a pair of sneakers or combat boots. Your feet


Tips #3 Eat before the show and stay hydrated. As I mentioned before, it’s going to get quite hot in the venue. Be sure to drink plenty of water before going inside. Also, food and drink can get expensive at some venues.

Tip #5: Bring Cash. If there isn’t much street parking available you’re most likely going to have to park in a lot. Parking can range from $20-30. Bring some extra cash incase you decide to buy merch. *Pro tip: Buy your merch at the show. Sometimes items are sold exclusively on the tour and won’t be available online later. Tip #6: Leave the iPads and tablets at home. They are a big distraction and often obstruct the view for others. Take

photos on your cell phone or camera instead. Tip #7: Stop taking photos! It’s okay to take photos, but don’t over do it. Put your phone down and just enjoy the moment. You won’t get the same amazing experience by watching the show through a tiny little screen. Tip #8: Familiarize yourself with new music. Bands love to hear the audience sing back the lyrics to their songs. If your favorite band has released a new album, listen to it before or on the way to the show. Also familiarize yourself with the openers. I like to do a little research on the all the acts prior to the show. Some have actually become my favorites, and they might for you too. Tip #9: Be courteous to other fans, security, and the bands. Don’t push the fans standing around you. If you see someone shorter than you, try not to obstruct his or her view. Avoid over indulging on alcoholic beverages. Go with the flow of the crowd - stand when everyone else is standing and sit while everyone else is sitting. Be cooperative with security and follow instructions. Don’t talk over the band that is currently playing. And lastly, don’t toss harmful objects up on the stage. Tip #10: Have Fun! Make some new friends. Sing and dance like there’s no tomorrow. Just lose yourself in the music.


26 JANUARY 2017 words by LANIE DAVIS Based on the Archie comics, The CW’s Riverdale is a teen mystery drama in which Archie Andrews and his friends are dealing with the mysterious death of classmate Jason Blossom. The show stars KJ Apa as Archie, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones. If you’re like me and read tons of Archie comics growing up, the idea of the characters in a teen drama with dark undertones is very intriguing. Riverdale premiers on January 26th on The CW.


The Baudelaire children are going to be back soon, and 13 JANUARY 2017 I am very words by MYKELL BOWDEN excited about this. I grew up with A Series of Unfortunate Events, as I’m sure most of you did. When the movie came out, I was ecstatic, but it ended up being a bit of a let down with how far it strayed from the books. Now, Netflix has picked up the story to turn it into an original series. This can go one of two ways: it will either be amazing or totally blow. Lately, Netflix has been doing fairly well with their original works. Furthermore, with Neil Patrick Harris starring as Count Olaf, I am optimistic that the series will be a success.



LOSTBOYCROW “Sigh For Me” Release Date: 15 January 2016 Label: Independent Standout Track: “Powers

PARACHUTE “Wide Awake” Release Date: 11 March 2016 Label: Vanguard Records Standout Track: “Love Me Anyway”

CHANCE THE RAPPER “Coloring Book” Release Date: 12 May 2016 Label: Independent Standout Track: “Same Drugs”


compiled by MYKELL BOW

FRANK OCEAN “Blonde” Release Date: 20 August 2016 Label: Boys Don’t Cry Standout Track: “White Ferrari”


PANIC! AT THE DISCO “Death of a Bachelor”

THE 1975 “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it”

Release Date: 15 January 2016

Release Date: 26 February 2016

Label: Fueled By Ramen

Label: Dirty Hit (Interscope Records)

Standout Track: “LA Devotee”

Standout Track: “The Sound”

THE SUMMER SET “Stories for Monday” Release Date: 1 April 2016 Label: Fearless Records Standout Track: “Figure Me Out”

LBUMS 2016


LANY “kinda” Release Date: 24 June 2016 Label: Side Street Entertainment (Polydor Records) Standout Track: “current location”

THOMSTON “Topograph”

PARADISE FEARS “Someone Else’s Dream”

Release Date: 30 September 2016

Release Date: 4 November 2016

Label: Independent

Label: Independent

Standout Track: “Heart is Cement”

Standout Track: “Turn to Gold”


CREATURE CLOTHING words and photos by JESSICA PULOS top right photo courtesy of creature clothing

In a day and age where fashion is key, there often aren’t people dedicated to the creation of clothing with a meaning. Many people are focused on looking good and fitting in with the crowd and keeping up with the latest trends, but “Creature” clothing is different. The creator, Kyle Hill, set out to have a specific vision for his clothing line. He didn’t want to just make cool clothing, he wanted to give the clothing a voice and for them to represent something bigger than some thread


pieced together. The line is branded with the slogan “find your tribe” which is “all about creating a space for people to come together, like creating a tribe of like minded humans that want to be good to other humans.” Talking with Hill, we discovered how he’s influenced some of the people closest to him with the dedication he’s put into being a good person and helping those around him stay good and true as well. The

designs are unique, creative, and pleasing to the eye. As a unisex line, anyone can rock all different pieces, from snapbacks to crewnecks, it’s all there and they’re all something that you can wear with pride and confidence. Check out Creature Clothing online and maybe snag yourself some new threads. 2017 is going to be a good year, we can feel it.

“Kyle has done a very good job of taking his ‘find the tribe’ slogan and applying it to his life. He’s found a great group of people who love and push. He’s found people that are devoted and dedicated and charged with his energy to pursue their dreams and pursue love and treating people with respect. I’ve never seen anyone more passionate about this - about art, about clothing, about bringing a meaning to clothing and forming a community around it. The passion there is something to get really excited about. ” -Zach Grace of flor


HOW TO RUN A SU words and photo by PAIGE BACKSTAGE


Decide what you’re going to write about and stick to it. Maybe it’s one concrete idea like “music,” or maybe it’s something broader like “lifestyle;” the point is that readers should always have an idea of what they’ll find when they visit your blog. It keeps them coming back for more!


Start stockpiling posts. The number of posts you’ll need per week depends on how much you think you can keep up with (I usually stick to 1-2), but it sucks when your ideas run dry and a post is due. If you stockpile posts before you begin, you can either roll those out first and add new posts to the queue or just use the stockpile when you’re drawing a blank!


Find your audience. Your blogger friends are a good start because you can support each other, but they have their own blogs to worry about too. You’ll want to think about your audience while writing every post, drafting every tweet, and editing every IG photo. Who are they? What do they like? What can you offer them? If it doesn’t fit your audience, why are you sharing it? Be as specific as possible, because it will only help you when it comes to creating content. If your audience is young girls who go to concerts and shop mainly online, maybe doing sponsored posts about dishwashers isn’t a good fit. Know who you’re talking to and make sure everything you write will give them something (information, inspiration, etc.).



Streamline your social media. If you want to have a solid ~brand~, it helps if your social media handle matches on all platforms. If you’re “MusicBlogger” on Twitter and “JoBrosForever” on Instagram, it’s harder for people to find you. If everything matches, your brand becomes more recognizable and it helps to cement you as a Real Blogger™️.


Find your peers. One of the best ways to keep up with what’s happening is to follow other bloggers in your niche. Seeing their tweets and reading their posts will spark ideas for you and keep you in the loop of what’s popular in the blogosphere. Networking with other bloggers can create opportunities for cool collaborations, but it’s also nice to have friends that understand the struggles/achievements of internet life.


Have fun with it! Ew, so cliche. But seriously, if you’re not enjoying yourself... why do it? Blogging does not start off as a well-paid gig. In fact, it may never pay at all. If you’re not having a good time and enjoying writing, you shouldn’t waste your time. But if you love it, it won’t matter if you make $100k or $10. It feels pretty frickin’ great making $10 off a hobby you don’t expect or require to get paid from. Do it for the #content.





Over the past few years, vinyl albums have made a major comeback. This is great news for those who have come to love this vintage music format. With so many sources of records and so many albums becoming available in the format, knowing where to start can be a little daunting, however, here are some tips to help you create your best collection!

Tip 1: Get a turntable! Some people are collecting for collecting’s sake (completely fine!), but for the most part, if you’re looking to collect records you probably will need a way to play them. There are bunch of different types of players out there in all price ranges. I would recommend using Amazon to shop around and compare prices on a variety of models. I personally own a Crosley Cruiser which, in my unpopular opinion is a pretty decent player, especially given the price point ($60-80, depending on retailer). Tip 2: Pick your “must-have” records. Before you go crazy and start snagging whatever strikes your fancy, start out with a list of records that you need, whether they’re classics you’ve loved for years, or a more recent release. Making a list of your must-haves will help you

make sure that you’re buying quality albums that you’re sure to treasure for years. For example, my list starting out included Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and John Mayer’s “Heavier Things,” both of which I’m glad to report I now own.

band’s merch store once it’s released. You can also find records for sale on sites such as Barnes and Noble, Urban Outfitters, and Hot Topic (their brick and mortar stores are also great options for specific sub-genres!).

Tip 3: Check out your local record store! Aside from vinyl collecting, I recommend local, independent record stores for many reasons. But directly related to collecting, local shops are great because they often feature a wide variety of both new releases and older favorites. Often times local shops will buy used records, which results in a goldmine of lesser available records for less than $1, generally. Record stores also have great collecting potential because of Record Store Day. Record Store Day is an annual event occurring every April offering exclusive releases and repressings by a variety of artists, including movie soundtracks. My favorite smaller record stores include Graywhale (various locations throughout northern Utah) and Amoeba Records (L.A., Berkeley, and San Francisco).

Bonus tip: subscription services. With the surge in interest in vinyl collecting, vinyl subscription services like VNYL, Vinyl Me, Please, Vinyl Moon, and Magnolia Record Club have grown in popularity. Such services are a great option to get a bunch of really great (and sometimes less common) records delivered right to your door for one reasonable price!

Tip 4: Search online. As with most things, online shopping is the easiest way to find records you’re sure to love. You can often find exclusive colorways through band/label preorders prior to an album’s release, or via the

Tip 6: ENJOY! Now that you’ve got the turntable, the records, and you’re storing them properly, the only thing left to do is enjoy and appreciate your collection! May the vinyl gods be ever in your favor.

Tip 5: Storage. Now that you’ve gathered your various records, it’s time to think about storage. The best way to store your records is upright. Storing your records in stacks can bend or cause damage to the records lower down in the stack. The best option is a box or a crate, which can be found many of the same places you buy vinyl, but if need be, a designated shelf works just as well!




THE 1975























Wanderer is the Phoenix based indie project of music extraordinaire Adam Simons. Backed with several years of experience in the music industry in previous bands, Simons is now forging his path as a solo artist. With his debut EP release this past November, Wanderer is a name that will quickly become one everyone knows. Often described by Simons as perfect for late night drives, his music is artfully created and easy to fall in love with. You will definitely want to keep Wanderer on your radar. Simons sat down with us to discuss his debut EP, touring plans, being a solo artist, and next year’s plans for Wanderer.

Aspects Magazine: You just put out an EP, C I T Y. I’ve been listening to it, honestly. I saw you at Pub Rock with Beach Weather, CRUISR, and Against The Current. I was there and it was really good. So, talk about your EP. How’s the reaction been to that so far?


Adam Simons: It’s been great so far. It’s been nice to finally have an album out, sort of. Until then I only had a couple songs, so it’s great. The response has been really awesome. Not only fans and stuff, but from other local bands I know around here. Everyone’s been really supportive and it’s been really cool to see people liking the music.

AM: Did you have any specific influences while writing the EP? AS: Yeah. I mean, I have so many influences across the board, but I think for this, for the Wanderer stuff, I really took a lot from The Weeknd, Arctic Monkeys, and bands like The 1975. AM: Yeah, I can hear a lot of that. AS: Yeah, and also stuff I’ve been listening to for a long time like Fleetwood Mac, stuff from the ‘80s, and even John Mayer as a writer is a big influence on me. All that I think comes together. Every song is a little different, so I can’t just say one person influenced everything, but everything I listen to just kind of comes out subconsciously when I write. AM: I saw that you also put out a music video for “Call Me Crazy.” It was really, really cool. I like that all-white look and then you jump to the color. How’s the response been to that? AS: It’s been great so far. I mean, obviously it just came out, so we’re still kind of pushing it out there. I think just giving people those visuals for the songs, at least for me, is really important because I visualize music pretty clearly. I want to give people a visual aspect to each song. So it’s been great so far. It’s a cool video. Just simple like you said with the black and white going to color and getting some visuals that I felt were the vibe of the song.

AM: That’s really cool! AS: Yeah, it’s been really good. AM: What are your plans for 2017? Anything fun? Touring, shows, album? AS: Oh yeah. All of the above. I will be doing some touring early next year and hopefully throughout the year. We are going to be doing a west coast tour - up to Seattle and down to California and everything. That’ll be great. I have a couple shows in Arizona that I’ll be doing and, yeah, a lot more music. This is kind of just the first chapter here, but I already have the next stuff kinda. I already have the plan for that and I’m already working on that stuff, so it won’t be long before there’s new stuff out. Everything will be going kinda full force next year and it’s going to be really exciting. AM: Aspects Magazine is about helping people build their foundation in the industry. How did you build your foundation in music? AS: It’s been a long time coming. As far as playing music, I’ve been playing guitar for like 13, or 14 years. I’ve been in bands since high school. The last band that I was in a few years ago was called RadioDriveBy. We were kind of like a pop-rock act and I was in that band for a long time. I kind of managed the band for awhile and that really taught me how to kinda do this from a local basis to touring and


“You’re always building on your skill set and you never stop doing that.”


releasing our music. So I kind of learned everything through just trial and error and just not knowing how to do it, but being like “Okay. I have to figure out how to do this.” So now I feel pretty good, because I have a good understanding of how management, booking, recording, PR, everything works. I’m not a specialist, really, in any of those fields besides making music, but I know how to do it and that definitely helps me strategize how to run the project and how to direct it. I think, everything I’ve done - just years and years and years of being in bands and touring, recording and writing, and singing and playing guitar - it all comes together. You’re always building on your skill set and you never stop doing that. I’ve been doing it for awhile so it’s put me in a good place where I feel confident so I do whatever I want to do without being limited by not having a record deal or anything. AM: That kind of goes into the next question. You’ve been in bands before, so how is that transition from being in bands to being a solo act and was it an easy or hard adjustment? AS: It’s interesting because it was always something that was in the back of my head that I’ve always wanted to do and I think a lot of people, whether out of fear or something, don’t go all the way with things. We kind of sell ourselves short, like maybe do something that’s a little safer where we don’t have to really put ourselves out there as much. Because it’s easier. You’re not open to the world and it’s just you, so I think I dealt with that for awhile, just kind of not being scared of doing what you really want to do. It took awhile to finally realize I can do this. I want to do this and I’m going to do this. Once my last band ended it was the perfect time. It was like “Okay. I’ve been doing this with a bunch of other people for awhile, but I sing and I can do this and I write.” It was just perfect. I was like “Now I’m going to do this.” It’s worked out great. Now I get to do exactly what I want and I write my own songs. It has its advantages and disad-

vantages with being in a band vs. being a solo artist. But I really love it. It’s total creative freedom. I’m very particular about certain things in terms of, like, visuals and all the little details that go into something, so I get to be a perfectionist and all that. AM: Would you say that’s the disadvantage to being in a band is that you just have so many opinions? AS: Yeah. I’d say that one of the disadvantages is if maybe not everyone’s on the same page it can be kind of hard, too, and it can create weird energy between people. But that’s why it’s so important to make sure you work with people who you vibe with and who you trust and who have mutual respect. But I mean, being in a band also has advantages to where you’re with multiple people who can help out with things. But I love what I’m doing now. It feels really good. AM: That’s good! Okay, let’s go back to how you recently opened for Beach Weather, Against The Current, and CRUISR. How was that? AS: The show was amazing! It was my first show with a full band behind me. I’ve played a couple smaller shows just very stripped down with just me and a friend on the drums. So it was the first show where we had a full band. That was awesome in itself to hear the songs played the way I recorded them with all the different parts and everything. That was great. The show was awesome. The crowd was amazing. A lot of people came out and they were so receptive. They thought I was part of the tour even and I was like “No, I’m from here, actually.” It was awesome to be received that well by local fans and stuff. Like you said, the lineup was stacked. I’m good friends with the guys in Beach Weather and it was awesome to see them again and meet the other bands. It was a great night. It was a great first EP release show.

AM: It’s a good crowd to have. And I know you have a show coming up with Kenny Holland, LUXXE, and Rival Coasts on the 23rd. Are you excited for that? AS: I’m very excited. It’s a like charity, benefit show. It’s free. It’s by donation. It’s all going to the Tyler Hallsey Foundation, I think, which is an awesome cause for fighting cancer for kids. It’s going to be a great time. The lineup is awesome. All the good friends. AM: Where can people find you online? AS: They can find me pretty much anywhere. I’m on Spotify, on Apple Music, on YouTube. Just search “Wanderer” and you should find it. Twitter is @wandererband. Pretty much everywhere you can go. AM: Social media is very important. It’s kinda sad. AS: Yeah! It’s very time consuming to keep updated on everything, but it’s where I go to find out stuff, so it only makes sense that you would want to cater to that. There’s so much possibility on there with finding new people. And Spotify, for me, has been really huge in helping get my music out there very organically through Discover Weekly playlists and stuff like that. It’s been super awesome. Kind of out of nowhere I’m getting put on playlists and stuff. AM: Anything else you want us to know? AS: Check out the EP if you haven’t yet. It just came out. It’s got five songs on it that I think are really cool that I’m pretty proud of as a first body of work. There’s definitely more to come, but check that out if you haven’t yet and let’s follow each other on social media. There’s a lot coming, so hopefully I’ll be playing wherever anyone reading this is. Lots coming in 2017. Lots of love. -AM


PAIGE BACKSTAGE words by RACHEL LEONARD photos courtesy of Paige Williams

Meet Toronto-based music blogger and YouTuber Paige Williams, a.k.a. Paige Backstage. With over 11,000 followers on her social media pages, Paige is breaking barriers in the online music world and is becoming an exciting woman to watch in the industry. She’s taking the industry into her own hands and creating an incredible online space where people can come together to love and share the music that means the most to them. We sat down with Paige to discuss her experiences in the music industry, her inspirations, and what she’s most excited about the upcoming year.

Aspects Magazine: What inspired you to start your blog? Paige Williams: I spent a few years working at the biggest record label in Canada, so I got an opportunity to see the music industry on a pretty large scale. One of the things that bothered me a lot was that I felt like a lot of smaller bands weren’t getting the attention they deserved. There were all these artists that signed on thinking they were going to be supported and then were essentially being forgotten. I wanted to create a space where I could sort of showcase the bands that I thought deserved more attention or just bands that I really enjoyed. I also felt like I didn’t have a voice in such a big company. It was very


much like “small fish, big pond” where as if I made my own pond then I’m the only fish. It was something that I’ve always loved doing and I’ve had multiple blogs before, but it’s been really fun and fulfilling in some way. AM: What inspired you to add a YouTube channel into the mix? PW: I found there was some stuff that was easier to just talk about. It’s easier to have a conversation with people or show something off that maybe doesn’t require a full post. I actually used to have a YouTube channel, so I had already been associated with YouTube and I knew it very well. I actually went to school previously for acting for film and television, so I’m very comfortable with a camera and that was just something that I missed doing. Honestly, all the things I’m doing right now are things that I’ve wanted to be doing for the last ten years but I had to keep shutting them down or I didn’t have the platform or I didn’t have the confidence to do it, so I’ve kind of taken the time now to kind of get back in to everything. YouTube has ended up kind of being my favorite, but I’m trying to focus more on my blog now this month. Part of the problem is that you want to write the blog posts and have that good content but the attention comes so much faster on YouTube. Most of the

people on my YouTube don’t even know I have a blog. Attention on YouTube is so much easier because there’s people already there that are fans of YouTube itself, so they’ll find anything on YouTube and they’ll look through different videos whereas if you look on my blog and read a post it’s not going to say “Here’s four other bloggers you might like. Read their posts on similar topics.” I think everybody kind of gets swayed toward YouTube because it’s easier to find your audience. But your blog is your own personal space that you can control. YouTube is having issues lately where they’re not putting videos in subscription boxes and randomly cancelling people’s subscriptions to channels. There’s all these weird things happening and you have no control over that because it’s not your platform, whereas your blog is yourplatform so really we all should be focusing on them more because we actually have control over them. I’m trying to split my time between both this year. That’s my goal for 2017. AM: You’re participating in Blogmas and Vlogmas this year. What made you decide to do the thirty-one days of posting on both of your sites? PW: Last year I did Blogmas, but it only lasted until December 24th because I lost internet after that. But it was fun doing that because I had just started my

blog so my plan was mostly to stockpile content. I didn’t really focus it on music, though, because at that time I just thought “I’ll do music and everything else.” I didn’t really have a focus for a while, but not long after I realized I should just try to make everything tie in to music. But then I kind of accidentally didn’t post on my blog for, like, four months which wasn’t good. I didn’t realize so much time had passed and then I was like “Oh. My last post was in May. That’s fine.” So I said “You know what, it’s time to just buckle down and get all this stuff going so that in 2017 I have a base to jump off and somewhere I have music content written and published somewhere.” So I decided to give Blogmas a try again. A lot of people do Vlogmas, too, but I don’t really vlog so I thought “What if I just make a video every single day?” I didn’t want to neglect my YouTube just because I was doing my blog, so instead I decided to completely

overwhelm myself and do everything. Honestly, if I thought it through better, I should have done alternating days – one Blogmas, one Vlogmas – but I didn’t think it through. It’s too late now. [laughs] AM: Is there something specific you’re looking forward to getting out of Blogmas/Vlogmas? PW: I’m really excited to see how this helps with all the changes with YouTube right now because so many people are having issues getting people onto their channels. I figure if I’m posting more content I can see how YouTube is doing things and I can kind of test it that way. So far so good. I’m also trying to kind of wean my audience off the vinyl videos because there’s only so many videos I can make without bankrupting myself just buying more records to talk about, but when I post other content they don’t watch it as much or as fervently as they watch my vinyl videos, so I’m trying to

show that I have more interests than just my record collection and then I can see what content they would prefer me to add or what they completely don’t care about. I’m willing to adjust my content to what they want, but I also want to talk about some other stuff that I think is cool or important. I’m excited to branch out and I’m excited to get some new viewers in, because I have goals for 2016 that I want to reach by the end of the year. AM: You’re obviously a huge vinyl collector. Do you have any tips for people who want to start collecting but are maybe worried about the cost or just feel so overwhelmed they don’t really know where to start? PW: One of the things I think people ask me about is “What are the records that you have to have in your collection” or “What are the records that every vinyl collection needs?” I feel like that comes


from this mentality that’s been handed to us by middle-aged men that have made up the vinyl community for so long that act like if you don’t own every Rolling Stones and Beatles record then you’re a fake vinyl collector and you’re garbage. I feel like we need to get over the mentality that you need to have these records or your collection is not real. Your collection is your collection. Why would you spend money on stuff you don’t care about? I don’t own any Rolling Stones records. I’m sure there are a lot of bands whose records I should own that I don’t, but it’s my collection and it shows who I am so I feel like that’s what’s important. Don’t spend money on records you don’t actually want just because you think it’s necessary. And don’t let people at flea markets trick you in to paying more for your records because you’ll overspend and you’ll regret it forever. I prefer stores anyway. I go to [HMV or major retailers] because I know I can find stuff and I know it’s going to be at the right price. I shop there. I don’t care. And I’ll shop


at Urban Outfitters. It’s fine because I find what I want. There’s this mentality that vinyl collecting has to be this hipster thing where you’re digging through somebody’s garbage in a basement and it doesn’t have to be like that. We need to get over the whole superiority complex. Also, never store your records like pancakes. Stand them up or you’re going to wreck them. That’s my advice. [laughs] AM: This magazine is all about getting people started in the music industry. How did you get your start? What made you decide this was what you wanted to do and what kind of steps did you take to get there? PW: I’ve been playing piano since I was three-years-old and I’ve always been super connected to music. It’s been the main part of my life since I was born. I think it was always a given that I was going to do something with music and when I went to school for something else

I think my parents were really surprised, but I just didn’t really see how I could make a career out of music. I never really realized there were options out there for me. My mom ended up sitting me down one night and just said “I just don’t really know why you’re going to school for anything other than music.” So I dropped out of school and found another school for entertainment management. I don’t know what they’re like in the States, but in Toronto there’s a whole handful of [specialty schools]. So I went to school for that and there you learn about every part of the industry. You learn about working at labels, about management, being an agent, graphic design, website design. They literally teach you everything. It’s nine months of school and a three-month internship. When it was time for me to get an internship, I contacted the biggest labels in the country and actually interviewed with and got internships at both and then I had to pick. What I learned from working [at the

label] is that a lot of interns come in and kind of do the bare minimum just because they want it on their resume, but you have to put in work. Make yourself indispensable so they can’t imagine life after your internship is done. They extended my internship twice because they said, “We can’t hire right now, but we don’t want you to leave.” They just kept extending my internship until a spot opened up and then they hired me right away. You just have to make sure that you’re putting in work and that you’re not just taking advantage of the situation. You have to really do what you can to make sure you give yourself the opportunities you deserve. And do not undervalue yourself, because I did that a lot and spent way too many hours at the office and didn’t get paid for things that I should have gotten paid for. I thought, “Oh, if I don’t do this for free or if I don’t put in ten extra hours today then they’ll find somebody else who will.” That’s not necessarily true. You should definitely stick to your guns. The industry can be hard to get into, but if you look for opportunities you’ll find them. Everybody’s looking for people who are willing to come in and help and it’s always a good way to get your foot in the door for something more long-term or paid. AM: Obviously you’ve done a lot since you started in the industry. Is there any memorable project or moment, whether it was with your work or on your own? PW: When I worked at the label, I was just an assistant so I wasn’t actually supposed to have my own projects. I was just supposed to help everybody else do menial tasks so they could focus on their projects. But in July of I think 2014, I saw that Halsey had just signed to Astralwerks and Capitol so I ran into my boss’s office and said “There’s this artist I know of that you guys definitely don’t know yet and she just signed. Can I have this project?” and he was like “She signed like an hour ago. Nobody here is doing anything yet.” So I kept coming back to him and saying “Hey, I really

want to do this” and he said “We’re not doing anything here yet. She doesn’t have music yet. She just got signed.” By the end of the year I said “If I write out a business proposal on why I should be her marketing manager, will you let me do it?” and he said “Yes. If you bring me a good enough plan, sure.” I wrote out this whole marketing plan over my Christmas break and brought it back in the new year and my boss said “Fine. You can have this project.” Up until that point I was kind of already doing everything anyway. Everybody at the office kept saying “Nobody cares. She’s just another indie-pop artist. There’s other priorities. You need to calm down. You’re just excited because you’re a fan.” I got that every day of my life there. “You’re just excited. You’re just a fan.” I was like “I’m an employee just like everybody else. I’m allowed to be excited about music. That’s why we’re all here.” But I kept pitching it and kept trying my best to get it out there. I would sneak it into Spotify playlists and into other stuff and by the end of the year she was the top-priority artist. I ended up leaving the company a little bit after her album was released, but then this year the album went gold so I got an award! I got [a plaque] and it was the most important moment of my whole life, just being able to see that it went from me being the most annoying person that anybody at this company had ever met to one year later when I could say I was right! So many times people ride-off my music taste because I likes boybands or pop music. But then I could say “No. This time I was right and now I have a huge plaque to show for it.” That was my big work moment, even though it happened after I left. There have actually been a lot of things with my blog that were important moments for me. I think probably the most important one was the first time I went to my PO box and had something from one of my followers. Companies will send you stuff sometimes. I don’t get that much from companies, but there are vinyl subscription services that will ask

me to review them. But actually having somebody say “Hey. I saw this record and thought of you so I just sent it to you.” Or people will send me letters. It’s really cool because it feels like you’ve actually connected with or helped somebody. Or sometimes I’ll get these really nice DMs on Instagram that just say “Hey. I’ve been having a really bad day, but I watched one of your videos and it helped my anxiety so much.” It just feels good to know that it did something other than just join this massive internet hysteria of people wanting to gain followers. It’s a good feeling. AM: If you had to pick a top moment of 2016, what would it be? PW: I think the best part of 2016 was the first time I got a check from YouTube. They only pay out at $100 and the most I’d ever made with a YouTube account before was like $2.03, so the first time I hit $100 it was like “Holy smokes. This could actually start into something.” It put me into this new mindset and I feel like that was the moment I kind of flipped. Also, I met my boyfriend, Aaron. I feel like maybe I should say that. He may be offended if I don’t. That was a big moment. He’s really good and supportive. He’s pretty great. AM: Since we’re approaching the end of the year, what do you think were the top three albums of 2016? PW: Number three is PUP’s “The Dream is Over.” Number two is “Down in the Dark” by Safe to Say, and number one is “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” by the 1975. 100% best album. AM: Any last words to the readers? PW: Yes. The plural of “vinyl” is “vinyl” or “vinyls.” Everyone needs to get over it because both are grammatically correct as proven by many articles by many people, so stop thinking you’re better than people because you say “vinyl.” [laughs] -AM


EMILY KEENER words by LANIE DAVIS photos courtesy of Emily Keener

At just sixteen years old, Emily Keener auditioned for The Voice, giving a performance of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” that made all four judges turn their chairs. She ended up advancing to the Top 12, and has since released an album titled Breakfast. We spoke to Emily about her time on The Voice, her new album, and live shows.


Aspects Magazine: You made it

to the top 12 on Season 10 of The Voice. What was that experience like? Emily Keener: It was completely surreal! I never expected my career path to include something like The Voice. I’m so glad I took the opportunity, because it was a great learning experience and challenge. Working with Pharrell, all the talented contestants, and the coaches and mentors behind the scenes was an honor. I’m going forward with a lot

more confidence and self-knowledge. AM: You just released your first post-The Voice album in November. Tell us about it! Did you bring anything you learned from The Voice to this album? EK: My new record is called Breakfast, and the whole thing is very fresh and intricately arranged. The songs live and breathe in a bold new way, and the production is very evocative and exciting.

My last two records have been a little more on the acoustic side of things, so I think Breakfast provides a nice contrast to that. The musicians and producers involved are all good friends of mine, and the love and collaborative spirit in each track is very apparent. AM: What song are you most proud of on Breakfast? EK: I’d have to say “Fire & Brimstone.” As a writer, I view it as one of my best works, and in the context of this record I think it’s beautifully produced. The “character” in the story is based mostly upon myself, so the song is close to my heart, and I’m always moved when I play it or hear it. AM: You’ve been writing and playing music since a young age. What inspired you to start? EK: I grew up listening to music constantly, and I always said I wanted to be a rockstar. My dad played guitar and sang for us often. I loved to watch and try to understand what was going on. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. At eleven, I just decided I wanted to learn. He showed me a few chords along the way, but I mostly taught myself. I would sit in my bedroom for hours; playing until my fingers bled. At twelve, I spent six months learning about chord theory and song form with a local songwriter named Chris Castle. I started writing my own songs and performing them locally that same year. Five years later, I found myself on national TV, chatting it up with Pharrell Williams. It’s been such a lightning fast journey! AM: Your songs are very unique. What is your songwriting process like? EK: Most of the time, I begin with a chord progression or the beginnings of a melody. I start with the music and let it inspire a feeling before I put down lyrics. I write each song a little differently, but often I describe my writing

process as almost trance-like. When I’m truly inspired, it doesn’t require a lot of mental strain to create. Of course, there are technical things that I’ve practiced so much that they come easily: song form, numbers of lines and syllables, rhyming schemes, build-ups and breakdowns, using specific melodies to convey certain emotions. All these things are important tools. But when I’m in the moment, I focus more on my emotions and inspiration, and the song works itself out. AM: Who are your biggest musical influences? EK: Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley, and Norah Jone, to name a few. I really like classic styles of writing. I listen to a lot of music from the 50s-70s. It’s the stuff I grew up on, and it definitely had a subconscious effect on my stylings. Songwriting in those days had a tendency to be either simplistic storytelling or beautifully abstract poetry. I appreciate all genres and styles of music, and growing up with that era of artistry really encouraged my passion. AM: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before? EK: I would describe my music as a fusion of folk and pop, with intricate melodies and honest, vulnerable lyrics. AM: You’ll be doing some live shows throughout December and January. What can someone expect to see from an Emily Keener show? EK: The two main shows I have in January will showcase the different ways I perform. On January 13th, I will be with my full band at GAR Hall in Peninsula, Ohio. The musicians I have with me bring many exciting elements, and the show is really energetic. On January 15th, I’ll be doing a solo acoustic show at The Listening Room in Port Clinton, Ohio. There, people will have a chance

to hear my songs in an intimate setting, with the stories of how they came about. Whichever vibe you prefer, they will be really fun! AM: Aspects Magazine is about setting foundations and gaining experience for hopeful music journalists. What advice would you give to a hopeful musician? EK: My advice would be to not let perfectionism and self-doubt stop you from beginning your work. In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (which I would recommend that you read. Over and over again.), he does a wonderful job of describing the opposition - internal or external - that every artist, entrepreneur, and creator will experience when they try to follow their passion. Figure out what it is you love, and don’t be afraid to throw everything you have at it. If you have a calling in your soul to create something, do it and push past anything that tries to discourage your passion. AM: What are your plans for 2017? EK: My plans are to continue writing as much as humanly possible and to tour regionally. I’m looking forward to taking my music to new communities, and I’m very excited to start working on the next record. I have a lot of the songs down on paper already. AM: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers? EK: I hope that everyone reading this will make 2017 the year that they create or get involved in something new! Whether it’s that book you’ve been wanting to write for so long, that melody you’ve had floating around in your brain, or that cause you’ve been so passionate about. It’s never too early or too late to begin. This past year of working on The Voice and the new record has taught me that we’re all a lot more capable and innovative than we think we are. Taking the leap of faith can be scary, but trust me, it’s worth it. -AM


EXNATIONS words by SYDNEY MAES photo courtesy of EXNATIONS

EXNATIONS, an up and coming independent band from the D.C. area, had quite the year in 2016 as they debuted three singles and even found themselves playing with Against the Current. The group is still celebrating their most recent release, “Free,” as they head into the new year, where they plan to start off on the road. We got the chance to speak with the band and learn what it was like to be EXNATIONS in 2016 as they embarked on the independent journey, as well as more insight on what 2017 may hold for them.

AM: If you had to describe EXNATIONS sound to someone who has never heard of you before how would you describe it? Gaelen Smith: Sturdy pop music with modern sprinkles.

AM: Who would you say influences or inspires your music and you personally? Josh Reich: For me it’s just the people and the different moments I have had and will have in my life, good or bad. AM: Similar to a lot of up-andcoming artists, EXNATIONS is not currently signed to a label and you’re doing things on your own. What has that journey been like for the band so far?

GS: OneRepublic, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay

JR: It’s definitely been cool, it gives you a significant amount of freedom on the artistic side of things. I think on the other side of it having someone like Taylor who really thrives at the promotional and social networking side of things is an invaluable person to have on our side and in this with us.

AM: In October you released your single “Free.” What was the creative process like for that song?

AM: You guys are from the Washington D.C. area. What was the music scene in DC like when you

AM: Who are 3 bands you would compare EXNATIONS to?


Taylor Hughes: Josh and I were hanging out before practice one day and he started playing a “new idea” on acoustic guitar. The only thing I had on me at the time was a sample pad. The song started with just sampled claps and guitar. It came together almost immediately with just those two components.

first started going to shows? JR: It was definitely a different time and there was a lot of buzz around the poprock scene. But it was really fun and I’m glad to see how active it has remained. We always love playing there. AM: How was your recent show in Baltimore with Against the Current, CRUISR, and Beach Weather? GS: So amazing. It was the first show that I felt we fit in. All of the bands were definitely similar to us in sound, so I think that helped us connect to the fans there. AM: At the beginning of the year you’re touring the Northeast. How excited are you guys to hit the ground running in 2017? GS: Yes! Things have felt sluggish this past year in some aspects, so I’m excited to start showing our music to more people next year. AM: What else can expect to see from EXNATIONS in 2017? TH: An actual record! More shows, more tours, lots of awkward hugs. -AM



Welcome to the Feels Like Home tour. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, their hometown, but by no means the birthplace for either artist, flor and Lostboycrow have made a nice home for themselves in Los Angeles, CA. Flor, a four-piece group who emerged from the shadows in October 2014, have taken the music scene by storm, from touring with Halsey to signing a record deal with Fueled by Ramen in 2015. Lostboycrow is an artist who broke out onto the scene in December 2014 with his debut single “Adolescent” and has continued to soar, from touring with Vérité in the summer to flying to Amsterdam to play showcases for Sony Music. These artists are forces to be reckoned with as they continue to make a place for themselves in musical history. We sat down with both artists at their last show of the tour they embarked on together to get a feel for the minds behind the music.


LOSTBOYCROW Aspects Magazine: You just got back from Europe doing showcases for Sony. How did that relationship come about and how was it experiencing those new places? Lostboycrow: The industry is very small and so we’ve kind of been back and forth for a little while now, ever since


releasing music a couple years ago. Then it was just the right time with Sony Europe and my team and it made sense to do something over seas. It all kind of happened really fast and it seemed like a good fit so they brought us over there and we did a couple showcases and met everyone. We got to really explore Amsterdam. We had a lot of down time and

got to see the city and got to see all of it’s dark, beautiful glory. It was amazing. It reminded me a lot of Portland, where I grew up originally, and it was nice to be able to wear scarves again. It was a very beautiful place and I would love to go back. AM: In previous interviews you

briefly discussed your forthcoming debut album. Do you have a specific theme and certain inspirations that have contributed to the writing process thus far? LBC: Yeah. I mean I’ve been in the studio so much this year, especially over the summer, and I went in with some concepts in mind and I’ve been making what I like to think will end up being an album, but you know, you never know the way things work with timing and videos and deals. It might end up being an EP first and then just part of an album later, so I’m not sure. I’m trying to piece together right now, because in my mind I have specific themes and this journey that all ties together and I’m trying to

figure out how to package it, which is kind of the unfun part - compartmentalizing art and seeing how it fits together and how it can be marketable. So that can be a bit of a bummer and that’s what I’m trying to figure out, but I definitely have a certain amount of songs that I’m very proud of and that flows together. But I’m excited to share it with you guys. AM: You’ve done two covers in the past and started incorporating “Heartless” into the live version of “Powers.” Do you find doing covers beneficial to an artist and do you have any plans to do more? LBC: Yes. I think if you were to ask me that about another artist doing covers I’m not really into it a lot of the times, but that’s because most people doing covers don’t blow me away with it. My rule with writing music, original music, too, subconsciously I think we try to imitate our heroes, even without knowing it. I think the key to being a true and good artist, whether you’re doing covers or originals is realizing that you can’t beat someone at their own game. You don’t want to, you don’t even want to try. So I don’t like the idea of covers, typically, like YouTube stuff. But that being said, I always have fun incorporating things like “Powers” or doing the Chance The Rapper song, which was totally different from the original. I like to think of it as basically rewriting the song, so that excites me and I think I’ll always do that. To answer the first part of your question, covers seem to work on some level. But I would say very few covers excite me. Yes, I will always incorporate the songs that I love into my music as well and make it sound like a Lostboycrow thing. AM: What are some of your other emotional outlets outside of music? LBC: I mean, just different mediums. I’ve always enjoyed combining sketching with writing, whether it’s other people’s

words or combining different topics or just writing a letter to President Obama about Standing Rock. Anything like that - writing, drawing. I love to get out and shoot hoops. Doing something physical like that takes me away from the world that I’m in so often with the studio. Or binge watching Game of Thrones. AM: Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned? LBC: Both. I think every child is an artist. Every child is creative. And then I think it’s really sad, but over time we’re just taught to grow out of certain things. But every child, if you look at it, just wants to create, wants to dream, and has crazy awesome ideas. So I would say it’s in human nature. Because it is, I think, and it should be nurtured instead of discouraged. I get it. Artist can mean different things, like I make money off of my art. Not everyone can or should do that. But I think that everybody has a medium, everybody has creative outlets that they should not suppress, regardless of if you’re getting paid for it or whatever skill level. That’s why everybody loves music, everybody. It’s like our language. Art connects us. It’s how we communicate like beyond anything else. AM: What’s a question that you wish more people would ask you? LBC: That’s a good question. Maybe that one. I always enjoy explaining what different artists mean to me, because I think that it goes beyond music even, so I enjoy talking about that. I just like to be surprised, I like when people make me think, like right now. So I guess you can always just tell the lazy questions that are asked the same for every interview instead of specifically for an artist. I think that there are a lot of questions that could be asked that we need. I wish that in interviews people would just get to know me to the point of being curious about certain things and ask questions that they don’t usually ask people. -AM




Aspects Magazine: You’ve been spending a lot of time this year working on your full length album that will be released through Fueled By Ramen. What can listeners expect as far as the sound or vibe of the album? Zach Grace: If there was a median sound, it would probably be somewhere around “Unsaid” or “Warm Blood.” I think that is like the middle ground. We have a couple songs on the “Back Again” spectrum of flor and a couple songs on the “Get Behind This” spectrum of flor. But I think a good portion of it will be based around that midground. McKinley Kitts: I think there is a sweet spot we’ve kind of found toward the middle of our release process last year or so where we had that right combination of guitars and synths and that was kind of like “Warm Blood”/“Unsaid” vibe and we locked into that. We stray a little to one side with synths or guitars on the record, but overall it’s that balance. Dylan William: The biggest sound difference compared to what we’ve released previously is that with all of our previous stuff we just programmed the drums in the computer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to do Kyle live and having him on all the songs on the record is going to be a very, very big difference. It sounds huge. Kyle Hill: Yeah. It brought them all to

life in a way they weren’t. ZG: I think we were very fortunate as a band to hit the road as many times as we did and really get a feel for the live performance. We had a couple songs, but they all came to life as soon as we figured out “Oh, this is how we exist in a live environment. Let’s make that more like the album. Let’s make the album explode and be full of energy, because that’s the kind of show we want to put on.” We want to put on something that’s blowing people’s minds. MK: Expect something livelier than our current releases. The live drums, I mean. We had a really fantastic mixer named Andrew Maury who mixed the record. It really breathes. DW: Livelier is a good way of putting the vibe. Livelier than our previous stuff. MK: It still has that vulnerability that Zach brings to every song. ZG: Exactly. You’re gonna get the Zach songs. You’re gonna get the Dylan production. It’s going to be flor, but it’s going to be… MK: Livelier? ZG: Livelier. MK: But still vulnerable. AM: So you guys recently signed to Fueled By Ramen. Has anything

really changed from being an independent artist? MK: They’ve been really supportive of the touring stuff. The bands they have are ones that have always kind of started off hitting the road hard. They seem to build artists up. They’re helping us with merch, our designs, putting us on the road, kind of helping out with that. Creatively, honestly, they let us do pretty much whatever we want, which is... Well, we’ve all heard some horror stories. ZG: Yeah. It’s very surprising that they have enough faith in us or, I don’t know, maybe they thought we wouldn’t listen to them if they were going to mess things around. But no. We came to them with songs that they loved already off that bat and they basically said “Let’s make these better, but we don’t want to get too involved in the creative process. We want to keep it very much flor. We want flor to be pushing this.” It’s been incredible. It’s something I wouldn’t have expected a label to ever do. KH: At this point, it’s been great! MK: And we started releasing pretty soon. ZG: There’s a bit of... I guess it’s kind of pressure. There’s pressure there to live up to expectations and kind of make our label proud, you know? DW: Good pressure.


ZG: Yeah, it’s great pressure! It’s really great to be on this roster. KH: It’s great and it shows, too, I think, especially on this tour, just how much as a band and individually, how much we have kind of upped our game a little bit. And like Dylan said, it’s a good pressure. It’s pushing us all to be the best we can be. AM: So has that helped you develop as artists, having that pressure on you? DW: Oh, yeah. What we didn’t have before... I mean, we had people giving us notes on songs. We’d send stuff to friends. They’d give us feedback, but we’ve never really had, like, the label gave us an A&R to bounce our songs off of and tell us to change things up - not too much, but just little hints to make it a little bit better. We’ve never really had anything like that. MK: We have someone who’s dedicated job is helping us shape our record without being too invasive. DW: It’s been really helpful. AM: Visual content has always been pretty central to you both online and with your live shows. How did you decide that’s something you wanted to incorporate into the development of the band? ZG: Whenever I’m making music I have visions. Not like psychic visions or anything like that. I have a world I go to in my mind. There’s a place. There are colors I see. There are storylines playing out. You can’t ask me to tell you what those are, because they change and shift every time I listen to the song, but there’s always a movie going on in my head. We’ll try and lock that down with some music videos. Obviously we’ll try for that vision. But because it’s how I view music and it’s always been there and it’s always been an important part to me, we wanted to create visually compelling things to match our music. To start,


we had a very, very talented artist and photographer and videographer and every other aspect of camera work there is who was very passionate about us and wanted to help us and had really cool ideas for eye-catching Instagram posts like we did. So that was easy to jump off there. We have an amazing artist who we love to work with very closely who I talk with and live with enough to just kind of get. She gets me, I get her. It’s easy to go to her with these sounds and say “I’m seeing this. I’m seeing pink. I’m seeing clouds.” whatever. And she’s like “Okay. I’ll mock up something and send it to you and let’s see if we’ll post this or whatever. Or let’s see what we can do to a photo to make you guys look like you’re illustrated rather than human beings.” MK: Everything’s been pretty high concept. Even with our most recent photo shoot that’s coming out soon. It’s not just photos against a wall. We like to really put some art into it. ZG: I’m a very fantastic person. MK: The actual definition of that word. ZG: High fantasy type of deal. “I like to try and get out of this world” would be the best way to say it. And that’s what we try to do with art. We try to make something you could never see. Or maybe you think you could see in the world but you also like know that can’t exist. But can it? A magic element, if you will. Like we all love Harry Potter and we all love that magic. We all know that can’t happen. But maybe. DW: The art also comes out of sort of necessity, because I think nowadays with social media and everything, everything that your band does has to be stimulating to the audience. We thought about that very early on. Obviously, because the first thing we released was art. That’s something that’s been on our mind since the beginning. MK: I think it’s really important to have visual accompaniments to music. Which

is funny, I remember like reading, I think it was Springstein, he thought the idea of music videos was really weird and wrong. And now the idea of releasing music without a visual seems like a bad idea. ZG: I kind of agree with him if he says something like he doesn’t want it to lock down a specific vision when a song should be able to speak to everyone. I agree with that, but I also think that visual accompaniment is very important. But I do hope that our listeners do feel the freedom to imagine whatever they want as soon as we start putting out music. We’ll have videos and hopefully you’ll love them, but also hopefully you can listen to that song and it can still feel like what you want it to feel like. You can find the meanings that you want to find. AM: Do you think adding those visuals helps people connect with the songs? ZG: I think so. I think you get to look into my mind with most of the visuals that we do. I don’t know that everyone is always in a pastel dream world when they’re just sitting around. They get to see what I’m envisioning for this a little more. I think it helps. AM: And then you’ll be debuting your first video for the album cycle for “Hold On.” How has the filming process been and when can we expect a release? MK: January 6. ZG: It’s coming out January 6 and we are actually really excited about it. Filming was a breeze. We found maybe the cutest actress in the world to play the part that we wanted. The concept is cool. It’s fun. It’s interesting. It really captures the feeling I want for the song. Everyone that was a part

of it was passionate about it. We did things that we probably should not have been able to accomplish with the budget we were given. We are very, very excited to get it out. Filming was in two days.

nominated for a Grammy? I know you’re still super humble about it because you don’t think it’s a big deal, but...

MK: And then color was really important. A lot of the budget went toward lighting. We really wanted to make sure of that. The director of photography did a really good job lighting every shot. And then in post they also colored the video how we wanted them to.

DW: It’s interesting for me. I’m really honored by it. It’s hilarious. I feel like I shouldn’t have been nominated, but it’s special because Halsey asked specifically for me to work on that song with her. It’s amazing being a part of the Justin Bieber record, but her being comfortable enough with me to work on her vocal on that song means a lot to me and that for me justifies the Grammy nomination. [laughs] Which sounds so weird, but that’s what makes it special to me. I hope to get another one later in life. Maybe ten years from now. I was not expecting anything like this now.

AM: So Dylan, how is it being

AM: How did you feel finding out

MK: The editing process took awhile. They fixed it in post. [laughs] DW: It was us telling them the ideas and them doing it. We were pretty much there just for the filming.

about it? DW: I was like “What the fuck?” I saw my name next to Skrillex and I showed it to McKinley and he just busted up laughing. It’s dumb, but it’s great. AM: It’s a good story. ZG: We’re all so proud of him. We all didn’t expect this was the way Dylan was going to be getting a Grammy. We all knew it was coming, but... MK: It’s been a really good conversation piece. Makes for good stage banter. KH: Good jokes in the van. MK: Good jokes. About 90% of our jokes have been about Dylan since we found out. -AM


FLOR x LOSTBOYCROW AM: What are you most proud of so far in your career? Lostboycrow: I think this tour is the perfect example of proud. Me being proud. Proud of watching my friends grow into what they are, proud of myself for being where I am along side them, proud of us for what we’re doing together, so I think the Feels Like Home tour right now is the perfect culmination of pride that I have and I’m very proud that it has come to this moment and that it’s going to keep going on. I’m very lucky to work with such great people and I take a lot of pride in that Zach Grace: You expect something like to play in front of 4,000 - was it 4,000? McKinley Kitts: It was 5,000. ZG: To play in front of 5,000 people in London. That would be like a really, really cool thing to be proud of. But I’m actually just proud of all of us. Us as four individuals sticking with this through some really low lows, but having enough of a level head through the highs. MK: It’s pretty impressive. We’ve been doing this together for a long time. I feel like there are very few bands with four guys who get along for that long. Our biggest fight would be so insignificant to other bands. Dylan William: It’d be like “What do you want for lunch?”


MK: We’ve never experienced anything

really bad and we’ve been together for a long time. Other bands have been in nightmare situations and I always hear horror stories. DW: Even if we do get into a really bad situation, we know how to handle each other now. I’ve been writing music with McKinley for over ten years. We know each other so well. We know how to act. Like, if someone else is upset we know how to deal with it.

music and have just been doing it ever since, so it just has been really, really special being able to tour together. And for both of us to be able to do our own thing in our own way, but to share the experience as best friends. DW: It’s a big milestone for all of us just to be on tour together. KH: It’s been really fun having him and his team. His crew is awesome.

MK: Everything is always okay.

DW: They’ve helped us a lot.

ZG: I’m just proud of us being true to ourselves, true to the music that we made, and being good friends.

ZG: I think it’s safe to say that the travel days are probably the best they’ve ever been.

Kyle Hill: And the record we’re going to be putting out next year I’m incredibly proud of. It sounds incredible. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of anything.

AM: Since you guys have been friends for so long, how was it creating “Still Standing Still” together?

AM: You guys are on the last date of the Feels Like Home tour. It’s kind of been a long time coming, I think, with how closely you guys work together. So how has it been finally getting to do a tour with some of your best friends? DW: So sick! It’s been so much fun! MK: It’s been talked about for so long. KH: Lostboycrow and I particularly go way back. We have been talking about going on tour together since we were like that tall. We grew up in the same town. We actually got each other into doing

LBC: It’s honestly just like you would imagine. It was so effortless. Zach and I sat down with Dylan and it wasn’t like “Hey we have to write a song. It’s time for a collab because we’re touring together.” We could have easily written a hundred songs by now, but it was a matter of we have a good reason now to all get in a room together and actually do it. So once we actually sat down to do it it just happened really quickly. We got it all recorded within a few hours. It was a breeze because we pretty much work together anyways, so it was just effortless. DW: It had been a really long time coming. We had always talked about getting all of us together in a writing session,

expect for 2017?

ZG: We didn’t dive into the flor world entirely. We didn’t dive into the Lostboycrow world entirely.

ZG: We got the tour bug. This is the most fun we’ve had in a long time, being on the Feels Like Home tour. We all want to do it again and keep doing it and working on our craft and make it more and more special and more spectacular.

DW: It’s not even a middle ground either. It’s like something else.

MK: We want people to go to a live show and have it be an experience.

thing special; truly an amazing experience. The energy and passion that was brought to the stage every night was something to admire. Watching Lostboycrow and flor move and work so effortlessly and smoothly onstage together, when they performed their collaboration “Still Standing Still,” was a feeling that I wish I could bottle up and open in my darkest times. flor’s stage presence is mesmerizing and so energetic; there’s no way you can stop yourself from dancing. Lostboycrow’s energy is infectious. His chill inducing vocals and prime dance moves make you want to jump and scream the lyrics to every song. The crowds on tour were loud, no matter the size, and the fans screamed every word they knew. Being in a room with those musicians was nothing short of inspiring, thought provoking, and fun loving. I encourage everyone to take a trip to a show of theirs one day. -AM

The Feels Like Home tour was some-

(For more interview questions and videos of the interview, check out the Aspects socials.)

but it never worked out or someone was sick or whatever. Eventually we just got it to work out and that first day we just got the song done. Everyone was very, very inspired. It takes a while to get into a session, because it’s really hard to just create right off the bat. But within half an hour to an hour we were just going and finished it. It turned out really, really good, I think. MK: It’s weird. It’s unique. It’s hooky. It builds. AM: And it still kind of fits with both of you.

LBC: I think Feels Like Home part two. [laughs] No, 2017 is going to get weird. It’s going to get a little poppier before it gets weird, but then it’s going to get weird, in a cool way. DW: Lots of touring. MK: Yeah, we’re going to try to hit the road real hard.

MK: It’s like a higher ground. AM: To wrap it up, what can we