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I will admit, I’ve waited until the very last minute to write this before sending this issue to the printers. I guess I’ve been avoiding the realization that this issue is coming to a close. Taking with it the time I’ve used to heal and make decisions for the future plans with Austere as a brand, where it needs to go, and what I want it to be. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to move with a purpose. Enter Quest. It’s an issue I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. However, I hadn’t felt it was never appropriate. Diving in head first and coming face to face with the reality that sometimes, if not most of the time, I have no fucking idea what I need to do is next is terrifying. All I’ve ever wanted was to reach the happiness and fulfillment that comes along with creating something I genuinely feel embodies who I am and what I want my work to be. Scratch that, what I NEED my work to be. Enter edifying. Before this issue was on paper I interviewed the wonderful musician Jenn Blosil. She introduced me to this word and I instantly fell head over heels. It means to instruct or improve someone morally, intellectually, or spiritually. I’ve had the honor of spending the last four years meeting incredible human beings around the world. Everyone I’ve met has had the same type of energy; an edifying energy. As creatives, we strive to bring people closer to us through our work in everything that we produce. That’s what this issue is to me. Of course throughout the entire thing I’ve been uncertain, but the passion that drives us all kept me going. Quest is an issue about accepting the unknown and re-understanding our goals and paths despite the deep sadness or confusion we may feel. It’s an issue about accepting the scars that make us, and realizing that true beauty lies in our resiliency. There is a common denominator in every interview, story, and poem 1

in this issue; the humanity of riding the wave we call life and fighting like hell to stay alive. I wanted to make this issue to teach us all that we’re not alone, and it is possible to re-discover your path when all you see is darkness. Throughout this issue I interviewed many artists and only kept one question the same. What is your mantra to life? This question to me is the most important to understanding your path and seeking out your future because it embodies every aspect of your being. The majority of answers I received had to do with being kind. Simplicity at it’s finest, in order to make your dreams come true. Crazy concept, am I right? LOL. It got me thinking about my mantra to life. I came up with: Create with purpose, insight change, and be honest. Three things that I feel embody my work, my life, and myself. Your mantra is what resonates deep inside your soul and is that little flicker of light that guides you in you endeavors. As creatives, it’s important to keep your mantra close to you at all times in order to stay afloat. It is in our weakest moments when we tend to lost sight of our path. It’s in these moments, while were grasping for anything that could possibly keep us from falling where we end up coming right back to that flicker. It’s our mantras that keep us whole. Use Quest as a tool for whatever step of life you may be in right now, or in the future. Use the words, the feelings, and surely the heart and soul I left in these pages to help guide you back home.

“Ins i d e o f m e there ’s a ma ntra goi n g o n that re m i nds m e of w ho I a m. I t’s that place i nside – that n iche in the wa ll where the candle fl ame never fl ick ers. Always bri ngi ng me right to my heart where we dwell eternally.” -Ram Dass

Austere QUEST // 2


9 13 15 16 17 22

Introduction Home by emily bentley poetry rough patch by rhyanna odom poetry I am burning by rhyanna odom poetry depth with daughter interview in transition by kennedie cork poetry


C O N T E N TS pa l i m p s e s t CHAPTER III


25 27 29 31 33 37




m a y a CHAPTER V

77 81 83 85



61 Introduction 65 THE TILE HOUSE PHOTO STORY 73 sink or swim with HOTEL BOOKS INTERVIEW

k i n t s u g i CHAPTER VI

91 95 99 101 105 109 111


Austere QUEST // 4



Austere QUEST // 6








something or someone that




[sou’däde] CHAPTER I _





you love and which is lost.





Austere QUEST // 8

I now feel A loss


Schism. You’ve found yourself at an impossibly large expanse; a gap, scarlike, snaking across the path that is your story. It threatens you like an open mouth poised with the promise of speech, yet never speaking - ominous and inexpressible, it is promethean in your attempts to understand it.


It is loss. It has or will or is rendering your life into schism - what is before, and what is after. You’ve heard it a million times. But words only snake around truth without ever pinpointing it exactly, like the anxious tendrils of smoke from a cigarette in hand. What cliches and paradigms circle around is this thing, this writhing, greasy, human truth, which is fragmented into a million little multifarious sound bytes that we are temporary life is suffering the desire for permanence leads to suffering grief is natural loss is inevitable and more. You’re here, though, no matter the firings of neurons that create our preconceived notions. You couldn’t have prepared for this monstrous event. It’s terrifying. Because it doesn’t matter how much you can cognitively understand the inevitability, or how reason tells you of the universality of your experience Pain isn’t rational. And loss is messy. And there is no amount of grey matter or brain power that can relieve you from the need for screaming relief.

Because absence bears the most palpable presence. Like a phantom limb that you cannot scratch, there is something so visceral in the void that is left behind in the wake of something never to be returned. It’s the feeling of saudade - missing the once constant presence of the indefinitely absent. It is uniquely felt, but universally experienced; you, I’m sure, have found yourself here because you know this well. But it’s not just you. No story is limited to one subject - we’re here, spilling ink desperately across the page with you. This is a community, a family, and it is not hierarchy that separates you, reader, from we, the creators. We are one in the same, simply two faces on either side of a membrane - reflections reflecting each other, a snake consuming its own tail. We’re not here to give you answers. We’re not writing To speak with authority or to convince you of something. We’re not here to talk to you We’re here to talk with you. To write this story and ride these waves alongside you. Not to give answers, or even expect to find them, but to seek and to question anyways. Because the pain breaks any membranes that exist between us. Because compassion is to suffer together. Because beauty and loss are not so different. Both are larger than the sky.

Austere QUEST // 10



Austere QUEST // 12

h A










It was two months after you left me with a baby with wild curls and no money in the checking account and eyes so jagged I saw the whole world in pain I grieved in the beginning, in the morning, and sometimes I laughed but the rhythm was wrong. I walked in and out of hallways not sure of what I was looking for but certain it was gone. I was a graveyard of nothing and a circus with too much so I hid myself in the folds of the universe and prayed for sleep even when I was awake. I went on like this for sometime not human not ghost just stuck between the two and still learning to be a mother. Then one night my adopted sister climbed the stairs to the room I shared with my wild haired baby lay on the pullout couch with me that made up my bed ran her fingers across the jagged scars over my belly the heeps of loose skin the scars -a soft plum, and said it was beautiful. Said it was exquisite how my body looked after creating so much.

and for the first time in a long time I breathed the rhythm was still off but the music was still there. She had taught me that there was beauty still growing in the plot I had marked for a grave. beauty -exactly where I was not just an offering plate of broken glass from the destroyed mosaic It was two months After you left me With the baby and the empty checking account that I started the quest home.

Austere QUEST // 14

False idol, false prophet


You fucking hypocrite Apple of your eye, Don’t lie I’ll cry Begging for my forgiveness Like I’ll give it with readiness Are you blameless? Oblivious to your malice? I’m callous. Don’t bite the hand that feeds

by rhyanna odom



All smiles like I forgot it

This breadwinner exceeds Expectations, meets your needs Am I a charity? All proceeds Fund your misdeeds? This bitch secedes.

I am Burning by rhyanna odom Over the course of my life

Half-empty notebooks of

Still wet from the edges of your mouth

I have found that my devotion flickers

Half-hearted poetry and prose

And I am burning

Like flares from a small dying sun.

With half-watched TV shows.

Like the tiniest star in the universe

I am bright


Big enough to warm only you.

And hot

There are no half-loved people

But I am burning.

And then I am nothing, forever.

Because your love is gasoline

I am

And I am a carelessly tossed cigarette

Austere QUEST // 16

depth with Daughter


BY Natasha Brito, Austere

To be completely honest, when I first thought about making an issue about the quest, the first band that I thought could truly talk about all the “feels” of life, was Daughter. Specifically speaking with Elena reminded me of the kind of humanistic universal path we all seem to take and it was all too connecting. Is there a time in your life where you’ve realized you’ve lost your path? How did you find your way back home? I think it’s important to look after yourself and also be aware of when certain destructive patterns are starting to form in your life in order to fight them off early. To have a good routine, one that benefits your mental wellbeing is really important. To give yourself time to reset and I guess to realize what small things you can change to make you happier on a daily basis. A lot of destructive behavior is often a search for a quick fix, either to numb yourself or to create a short burst of happiness, which cannot be maintained long-term. To you, what creates inner wisdom? I think there is a lot to be said about following your guts. If you don’t feel something is right, then it’s probably your animal instinct for sensing danger. I have made so many decisions by trusting my insides! But I also think to counter-balance that idea, what makes you wise is also forgiving yourself for

the moments in your life where you have made stupid decisions. Letting them go and moving on instead of dragging yourself down and punishing yourself forever. Do you believe your purpose is to create music? Do you have/ what are your other passions? I don’t think I really have a specific purpose, I’d like to think that I could do lots of things if I set my mind to them. But music is definitely the one thing that balances me; I find I don’t feel right if I haven’t written something in a while. I have been creating music for over 10 years now because it is a totally magical way to spend my days. What gives you the strength of knowing your own identity, unshielded and raw? The idea of losing your identity is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have watched my grandmother slowly losing herself due to Alzheimers over the past few years, it’s the saddest thing to witness, I can’t bear it. “Who” you are is such a hard thing to fully know; I think as you grow older you are so much more accepting of yourself and your flaws. I felt as a teenager that I was constantly tearing myself apart, trying to mold myself into something and somebody else. Now I see my positive and negatives equally, addressing my social anxieties, noticing

that I have the same mannerisms as my parents... all these little elements of nature and nurture that have made me who I am. I think I am becoming more and more confident in being able to write about the rawest weirdest part of myself in our songs, I think it actually helps me to understand my own brain a lot better. You’ve talked about drawing inspiration from sadness; do you feel that you use it to heal the sadness? It seems that as soon as I write about the saddest moments and thoughts that I have had, I feel free of them. Writing is such a positive thing for me; it is the balance to those horrible sad internal moments. There seems to be a fear in the press community about asking too personal of questions to musicians about the contents of the songs. Would you be willing / interested in sharing more in depth explanations of a song of yours that is closest to your heart? Oh I have had some horrendous interviews in the past… Some people are definitely not scared of asking personal questions. But to be fair my lyrics are not particularly cryptic, especially on the new record, so I feel the meaning of each song is already pretty obvious. I definitely talked a lot more about

the meaning of songs on this record compared to anything we have done before; it felt like an emotionally open book anyway. My grandmother features on the new record a couple of times, as the main inspiration in “Doing The Right Thing”, and there’s a little moment of her in “Mothers”, I feel very affected by what she is going through, and maybe even more so because she has no understanding or concept of her condition. I guess I make a lot of my work through clinging onto memories, my inspiration comes from the words and feelings of other people, so to lose all of that back catalogue of moments, like a life-time of photographs and loveletters have just been totally wiped out. It’s utterly terrifying to me. Is there anything you’d like to add/share about what’s to come for you/the band? we have headline tours for the rest of the year, so just very excited to travel around and see more of the world and play music every day

Austere QUEST // 18

What is your mantra in life? B






What are things, people, books, or quotes you refer back to when you need a boost?

Why do you think we’re on this earth to begin with?

I think my biggest boost of happiness in life comes from talking to other people, whether it’s my best friends around a table, my parents or my love, to have other people to share thoughts with makes me feel so much better when I’m having terrible brain times. Also, just looking up at the sky and realizing that I am a tiny little insignificant speck of dust so I should probably get on with it - the fear of dying without finishing another record snaps me out of it pretty quickly!!

I think we are all here completely by accident. I don’t think we were ever supposed to be here. It actually makes our achievements all the more incredible, weird creatures building and creating and talking and falling in love with each other - when we are not fighting and being awful to one another, we can actually be really beautiful things.

“Who you are is such a hard thing to fully know; I think as you grow older you are so much more accepting of yourself and your flaws. I felt as a teenager that I was constantly tearing myself apart, trying to mold myself into something and somebody else. Now I see my positive and negatives equally, addressing my social anxieties, noticing that I have the same mannerisms as my parents... all these little elements of nature and nurture that have made me who I am.” 19

NOT TO DISAPPEAR, 2016 Austere QUEST // 20



In Transition dust settles on my shift in between empty bottles of whiskey i call a collection instead of an addiction i rely on my altered state to help me become the person i barely want to be it’s easier than becoming someone new i lost part of myself to keep a smile on your face but now you’re fucking someone else while every word i say is slurred lately i haven’t been great or called you on the phone there is no need i’ll find my way on my own

A poem by Kennedie Cork Austere QUEST // 22



















/,panE’sēe/ CHAPTER II _




Austere QUEST // 24



And so, we’re walking.


Our steps may have been belabored, clunky even, at first, but the stride takes time. Everything is a part of us, you know. We seldom leave something behind that does not tear at the sinews of our very being, as it becomes unmoored from the bones of our departing ship.

You just start walking. Dazed or uncertain, you can move, at the least. Don’t fight the pain, or dam the flood. There’s so much to be had in openness, right now. It will be hard to fight paralysis, sometimes. You’ll have to push yourself to experience everything that entices you, and especially, when you can, the things that repel you. Limits are just your landmarks, not your barriers. Your road needs neither purpose or goal.

There is no leaving without a leaving behind.

You learn by wandering.

But even if it rips, the skin of your soul can heal. It’s not as simple as time or distance - the existence we occupy, of course, is so much more than physical. And the salves of the spirit are legion, if looked for. It’s not an easy journey, though, finding the path that will be your panacea. The road to the “cure-all”, as it were. While it may involve literal travel and physical objects on the surface, your journey is as much paved with polished stone as it is with hopes and goals. It’s not physical, nor measurable. It has no weight, no wear, no friction to your feet as you, nonetheless, tread there.

The only way you’ll find the thing, or things, that may be your all-curing/cure-all, is to beat the odds. Exhaust every avenue - every art, pursuit, passion, or project. Who knows how long it will take, or if you’ll even look behind the right door. The cure all is only found by searching in all places. There’s a plot, a path, no matter how distant, or hazy. We’ll do our best to show you.

So how does one even begin a journey that has no maps, no roads, no gravel to crunch beneath your shoe’s sole?

Austere QUEST // 26

h i k e

by britTany shaban


I have struggled with depression all of my life. It runs in the women in my family on both sides. I also have ADHD and was medicated for that since I was 6 years old. I took antidepressants on and off high school through college but found that they did not do much for me personally. Perhaps this was because I felt that I relied on medication just from having taken ADHD medications from such a young age. I already felt like a zombie and it wasn’t helping me.


I am naturally stubborn. I refused to acknowledge that fact for most my life. But in this I find a strength that I did not see til recently. I have never let my depression or my ADHD defeat me. I have found ways to combat it. What I have come to find that through these things that cause me so much pain and struggle, is that they also have made me incredibly creative, passionate, and independent. For me, solitude has always been a test of strength. Not the strength to be without others, but the strength to be with yourself. Independent does not mean lonely. Being alone with your thoughts can be frightful but eye opening. I have found that the times that I have been adventuring on my own are the times that I have felt the most bliss. I find more answers when I stop asking others “why?” and begin to ask myself “why?”. I am someone who enjoys traveling by myself. Mostly because I don’t have to put up with anyone else’s shit, but also because I feel it’s the most efficient

way. I have been so incredibly lucky in my life to be able to visit the places I have been to, whether it was with family, friends, or myself. I am so grateful for these experiences. But of these experiences, nothing compares to the feeling I experienced when I visited Banff in Alberta, Canada. Previous to my trip to Canada, I had been through what felt like the worst 6 months of my life at the time. I am aware that is a fairly melodramatic millennial statement, but at the time it felt like things were going pretty shitty. I went though a breakup with the person I lived with, I recently graduated college, and had no idea what I was doing with my life. And from the looks of everyone else’s life around me, it seemed that being 23 was going about the same for them. The depression hit hard from the moment I graduated. I felt useless, unwanted, and lazy. I couldn’t get myself to do much of anything besides apply to jobs all day, a process that went on forever with little to no replies. Getting jobs in the creative industry is no easy task. I eventually got a job, I didn’t love it, but it was money in my pocket from doing something I was good at. Then came the breakup. It felt like it shattered me even though I saw it coming. I quit my job the following day, something I had already intended because the commute was killing me. Mostly because I spent 2 hours of every day thinking of everything I could do to fix what was happening in my life. One of these ways being to just drive off the road into whatever oblivion awaited me. I felt completely defeated at this point.

Fast forward to 5 months later. I was in Canada with 9 of my best friends. I was feeling better at this point, but I still did not have anything figured out job wise or emotionally. I was a mess but at least I was still laughing. There were two separate days that we headed out to Banff National Park, part of the Rockies that extends into Western Canada. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. My best friend cried on the drive in, overwhelmed by the beauty. For me the tears would come soon enough.

“I find more answers when I stop asking others ‘why?’ and begin to ask myself ‘why?’.” One of the days we went on a 14-mile hiking trail. I have never done anything like that. We hiked mostly as a group, but eventually as it got harder separated into groups, and then into solo hikes. I hiked by my lonesome for a good hour. During this time I took in the last 6 months of my life and beyond. I thought about the things I had done and said and all the things I said I’d do but did not. I could not change the past, but realized I could control my future. I realized how much my negativity had affected my mental health and my life as a whole. I finally reached the bottom of the hike, which had led us to a valley with a large

creek running through it and the most incredible view of the peaks surrounding us. I saw my friends gathered by the creek. I paused and I looked at them and everything else around me. I felt happy. I was happy. I rushed to my friends and I burst into a fit of tears. Confused, they asked what was wrong. And all I could muster is that I was so happy. I was happy to be alive, happy to be with them, happy to be where I was. Everything around me was beautiful; the nature, the people, the smell, the sounds. I was experiencing slight Stendhal Syndrome. I was in a moment of extreme personal significance that overwhelmed me to the point of tears.

even existed. There are an innumerable amount of things in this life to live for. There are so many places to see and to go, so much love to give and to have, and so much to laugh about. Be present and live audaciously for yourself. Love will always be with you if you choose to give it to yourself first.

For the first time in my young life, I felt in control of my life. The presence of mountains so big, made me remember that my problems are so small and that my ideas, goals, and heart are much bigger. I may not know exactly what I am doing or where I am going to go right now, but I am figuring it out through the steps I am taking presently. I believe that after great conflict comes even greater resolution. I know that in my life I will have conflict, but I won’t ever let it defeat me because what follows will always lead the something better. Travel, whether near or far, can change your life. You meet people that have the same struggles or even harder ones. You see things that were there long before your troubles or long before you Austere QUEST // 28

“your energy is vibrating” and my friend tells me this like it’s supposed to be a compliment. like it should mean something to me.


A P oe m by M e l i n a P a d r o n


the lights are dimming at the bar, as the words “last call” echo through everyone’s ear. there’s smoke stuck in my hair, and everyone’s so wrapped up in conversation that our drinks have become watered down. i don’t want to go home yet. i want to leave, but i don’t want to go home yet. going home only reminds me of fluorescent lights desperately dripping on linoleum floors. of IV’s dripping. of my mother’s coughs waking me up at 2AM every night. i toy with the phrase “you’re vibrating” in my head. i wind it through my brain like a cat’s cradle. my instant response was to say “its probably just the mania… just the anxiety” but those are the things you can’t tell a group of friends at 1:45 in the morning right before last call. when i was young, all i ever wanted was to go home. to jump into my bed and hide underneath my sheets to feel so small, so hidden from everything that scared me. every thing scared me, but nothing could touch me at home underneath my sheets. and all too quickly I realized that those comforts die as you get older. the sheets become dirty. the house begins to collect dust. memories become trapped inside of the walls and they claw and pound against the speckled plywood every night begging to be released, begging to wake you from your dreams. once i was lost, and once i thought i was found. i tried being nice. i worked out. i graduated from high school. i got clean from coke. i stopped drinking myself to sleep every night i thought my demons would win. i called my parents. i visited my family frequently. i knocked on god’s door and even convinced myself that i heard him toying with the lock, but i think he was too much of a coward to tell me what he felt in person.

cancer. that word always seemed so cliche to me. so foreign to me. like a distant relative you’d heard rumors about, like the name of your assistant manager’s spouse. things you don’t really keep inside of your head because they aren’t applicable to you in the moment.

when i was told my mom had to go into hospice, i stopped trying to be a good person. i disconnected from my family. i started popping pills. i started looking for myself at the bottom of a bottle. in between the lines on the pages that i wrote, underneath the epidermis of my skin when i cut into. in the eyes of a man who is married, a man who will never love me.

“my instant response was to say ‘its probably just the mania… just the anxiety’ but those are the things you can’t tell a group of friends at 1:45 in the morning right before last call.”

and i do it knowing that none of this will save her. knowing that none of what i’m doing will make her any more proud of me, any more ready to leave me. but i rationalize it by convincing myself that she isn’t really here. most days she doesn’t talk back. won’t even look at me, and the guilt that lives beneath my breast bone makes me think that she knows.

when my mom first got sick, i still tried to be nice. i tried working it out. i started college, i joined organizations. i tried to make good grades. but staying on path is so hard when death is running up behind you, biting at your ankles. reminding you that no matter what path you take, the possibility of it all ending still exists. and its not me. i knew and i know that the one suffering wasn’t me. but how many times did i wish it was? i couldn’t even begin to tell you. watching the woman who made you possible, the woman who carried you inside of her for 9 months degenerate into almost nothing only made me wish i could take it all away.

eat her cancer. take her place. eat her cancer. take her place. eat her cancer. take her place.

most days, i leave the house without saying goodbye. i take a drive to any place that isn’t that house, the one i used to call home. i drive until i see colored specks, until the street lights look like stars. until the lines on the roads look like clouds and until the asphalt looks like the dark before sleep. i drive until i get lost, until i think i’ll never find my way back, but most days i do. and someday i will make it back home. and maybe it won’t be the home i grew up to know, the one with the silk sheets that managed to protect me from everything. perhaps it will be a house constructed from the ashes that were left from the fires i caused in this life. perhaps i will build it from my mother’s bones when she has deceased.

perhaps i will stick to brick. i once was lost, and right now i still am. but its not the end. the light turns green and i go. the bartender yells “2am” and i go.

“i drive until i see colored specks, until the street lights look like stars. until the lines on the roads look like clouds and until the asphalt looks like the dark before sleep. i drive until i get lost, until i think i’ll never find my way back, but most days i do.” Austere QUEST // 30


stone of serenity

lunar lifter



Jade teaches acceptance. It carries a serene and calming energy. It helps people become less critical of the self and others. Something we all need in our lives.

Moon Stone aids in inner growth, strengthens intuitions and stabilizes emotions. It is known as a stone of new beginnings.

prosperity finder A L E X A ND R I T E One of the most intriguing aspects of Alexandrite is it’s color changing feature. Blueish-green in the light and purple-red in the dark. This stone is said to balance your mind and bring peace to your life. It increases creativity and intuition.



your highness A M E T H YS T Amethyst is a truly spiritual stone. It is a healing stone that helps one tune into a higher awareness of knowing. It is known to calm, bring clarity, sooth sadness, balance the hormones and so much more. We can definitely say it is our favorite stone. Like a one stop shop.





Lapis Lazuli comes from Egypt. It has been said to unlock mysteries as it helps one move through confusion and emotional blocks as it digs through the root of the problems.

Rose quarts has a gentle energy. It is a heart healer or physical healer. It helps us practice self-love.





Hematite is a grounding stone. It is often used to aid those who tend to avoid worldly tasks and events by outof-body flight. Place it in your pocket during a trying situation like a funeral, job interview, etc. It will help you feel comfortable in your body.

Fluorite crystals help guard one against picking up negativity or negative energies nearby. It essentially absorbs it for you. NOTE: must cleanse weekly to keep it protecting you.

Austere QUEST // 32




QOYA BY Natasha Brito, austere

I met Rochelle two years ago in a longer than life line for Acai bowls at a transformational festival called Lightning In A Bottle in the dessert lands of California. Her energy and perspective on life was so unique that it was no surprise that she literally turned her living into a traveling guide for other women to find their path, grow and live inspired through movement.

Tell us about qoya. Qoya is about movement with meaning, movement as metaphor and movement as medicine. Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember. We remember the physical sensation of truth in our body and that our essence is wise, wild and free. At what point in your life did you want to create this movement? I was sitting in a women’s empowerment group in NYC when one woman said, “Everyone is telling me I need to get out of my head and into my body, but I don’t know how to do that.” I realized she wasn’t looking for the next fitness fad, she was looking for guidance on what it feels like when your soul lands in your body, when you feel comfortable in your own skin, when you don’t repress your nature, you express it and just like many of learn to use words to communicate, there is a language you can learn that taps you into something deeper when you move your bones, body and breath. Can you recall a time in your life when you lost sight of your path? What did you do to reconnect to yourself? The times in the past where I had lost myself the most was in romantic relationships. I was so good at listening to my intuition with work, travel and my health, but somehow when I was dating, I would go against my inner voice to pursue the idea of something I thought I wanted vs. the reality of what was. I find movement as one of the most powerful ways to come back to myself, because it brings me back to the power of the present moment. Travel, being in nature, supportive community where I can authentically express myself and my spiritual practices also have been instrumental of my journey. Another big part of this was using my pain as fuel to create art! I wrote a whole book about my journey and that was an alchemical process of transformation from wounds to wisdom. What is your mantra to life? I love this questions! I have to say that in those moments where I need to make a decision, I often go back to the teachings of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho where he wrote, “When you follow your heart, the world will conspire on your behalf.” I started living my life as an experiment to see if that is true and found that the more I stayed true to my heart, the more that things came into place. Not that there aren’t real challenges, but it feels easier to embrace them when they occur on a path that I chose from inspiration vs. obligation.

What are things, people, books, or quotes you refer back to when you need a boost? The thing is NATURE, always. The people are my friends that feel like sisters, like family, like tribe. The Books are the ones that pulse with a magnetic vibration that I cannot put them down and am called in this moment to share if you haven’t read Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, please do. I love what Maya Angelou says about that book, “Everyone that can read, should read that book!” What gives you the energy to guide others into connecting to their inner wisdom? The thing that gives me the most energy is the belief that we are all one. I love the quote by Carl Jung, “To be human is to meet yourself in a million different disguises.” When I am helping someone, I am really in the most cosmically connected sense, holding space for another embodiment of the divine essence that we all share to remember who they are. It’s an honor and ultimately, it’s impossible to do the spiritual and soulful work for anyone else, everyone wakes up as much as they can and have the capacity to hold the vibration in love. Different narratives, different details, different timing, all of us on a archetypically similar journey. Do you have a specific success story of anyone you’ve guided in the past that you’d like to share some of their story/transition? A woman just posted this on Facebook and I thought it was a great testimonial! In August 2015 I ventured to Kripalu in Western Massachusetts to participate in a Qoya retreat & teacher training. Over the course of the week our guide & Qoya creator Rochelle Schieck took us on a journey around the sun. We started with Autumn, the serpent, shedding our skin, releasing what’s not serving. Then we moved into Winter, the jaguar, sitting in the darkness, feeling it all and trusting the unknown. Both of these felt so familiar, places I’d been intensively over the previous years. And then we got to Spring. The hummingbird. Joy. And shit, if I wasn’t so freaking uncomfortable all damn day. And the fact that I was uncomfortable on THIS day the day about joy - really pissed me off. What was wrong with me??? It took me a solid 24 hours of discomfort to realize why I was so miserable. The following morning I woke super early, while it was still dark. I wrote in my journal, drank some tea, walked in the hazy dawn down to the lake where I stood watching the steam rise from the water and just breathed in the beauty.

Austere QUEST // 34


Austere QUEST // 36

a mirror of a mirror,

always whispering in our ear

is that you will never stop breaking,

capital T truth

because the real

and it will be a becoming

by chipping away

you must build

by consuming parts of yourself,

you must sculpt


of stories with an end,

the fear

time is that old serpent


in trying to pin this down


and you will eat your own

but you can try

you can’t put it in words

it is self sustaining,

what ways your mind because the real

capital T truth

is that you will never stop breaking,

experiencing pain,

but you’ll get better at enduring

the recurring,

revolving doors,

and this will be your

self-justified story,

meaning made

only in what you

decide to say,

might find the mirror

to your view,

no matter what you do,


remember the power you have

in weaving,

dreamed-up meaning,

through the pains of


and know that you’ll come to this place

again and again,

there’s no definite end

for you to try

and find, because

through whatever circular as significant as anything, created

but you are always on course,

test our self,

if we even try to

a target we will miss

and we think this

in what courses we map,

in what we think we can handle,


close to an impassable

we find ourselves

in breaking

once again, self-consuming time,

we are




once again,

we are


as significant as anything, created might find the mirror experiencing pain,

but you’ll get better at enduring

the recurring,

revolving doors,

and this will be your

self-justified story,

meaning made

only in what you

decide to say,

what ways your mind

to your view,

no matter what you do,


remember the power you have

in weaving,

dreamed-up meaning,

through the pains of


and know that you’ll come to this place

again and again,

there’s no definite end

for you to try

and find, because

through whatever circular

self-consuming time,

in breaking we find ourselves close to an impassable gap in what we think we can handle, in what courses we map, and we think this a target we will miss if we even try to test our self,

it is self sustaining,

but you are always on course, a mirror of a mirror, you can’t put it in words but you can try and you will eat your own tale in trying to pin this down time is that old serpent

because always whispering in our ear the fear of stories with an end, but you must sculpt by consuming parts of yourself, you must build by chipping away and it will be a becoming

Austere QUEST // 38




written over, but not perfectly,










When the words of a story are

and what’s beneath is still visible. DO



/’palEm(p),sest/ CHAPTER III _




Austere QUEST // 40

To improve

in loops If every bone of your being were to be born away, only to be replaced - where then would you place your self?


In these winding roads we’ve wandered, it can be so easy to displace parts of the self amidst the flotsam and jetsam of schizophrenic inspiration that we are immersed in, in our world. From this jumbled mass of possibility - more now than ever before - we are presented with a challenge in the untangling of some recognizable thread that we can call our life.


Our world, with its technology, with its evolving interconnectivity, opens so many doors that, often, we don’t know what to do with. We’re paralyzed by potential. A thousand doors, open and ready to be explored - but what, then, if opening one door closes another? Which inspiration do we follow? What is our true calling, if such a singular thing exists? Our mosaic minds found external, all-knowing eyes, but we’re blinded, and meaning is fading, and we are overwhelmed, catatonically, because our path has gone so off the rails, bending back on itself and trailing off, winding here and there -

One thing overwrites the other. Our attentions run deficits as we sift through the surplus of ideas that are out there, freely found. And through all of this, we write upon ourselves in layers of ink, scrawling ideas and experiences, as if a person paperless, desperate to remember that little tidbit. But unlike the ink which runs at the slightest sign of a sweaty palm or a morning shower, this writing has no intention of departure. Nothing is ever truly erased; only desperately covered by the sheen of more recent something. Don’t freak just yet. Like all those missed-alarm mornings, desperately searching for that unwrinkled shirt - it’s going to take some dirty-laundry digging to get to the bottom of this. If we lost ourselves somewhere along this journey, then we know there was a self to begin with. We might have to search the same places a few times, before something turns up. We may feel like we’re moving backwards, during this journey. Winding back and forth, chasing our own tales like an ouroboros - a snake, eating its own tail - it may seem frustrating. Confusing, even. But this is the fever before a breakthrough; the cacophony before the resolution of a symphony. Trust harmony as you would antibody - the fever will break. Somewhere in the shifting waves, we’ll find a current to follow.

It’s just the simplest palimpsest, that’s all.

Austere QUEST // 42


Austere QUEST // 44

CYC L ES WITH z a r i n a

Artwork BY Zarina

There is a time and place for every style of work Zarina chooses to tackle. I always think I’ve figured her out as an artist before she switches it up again, all the way to the opposite side of the spectrum in which she had previously been working in. For her, change is what keeps her moving. It’s what makes her realize that she has still yet to define the type of artist she wants to be. But who says she ever has to?

What kind of artist would you call yourself? Haha, thats a loaded question. I don’t think I could really categorize my work and myself within art. I do classical paintings to abstract plant watercolors and everything in between. I would call myself an inspired artist, who makes what is called to made. How do you feel your work has changed over the course of your career? My work has infinitely changed over the last 8 years, and I really love it. I am pretty open to change, so my work changes drastically over and over again. There seems to be a common thread within my work, which is me. Which is all I need. I love the idea my work never stays the same, nothing in this dimension ever does anyways… so its a very freeing and exciting feeling thinking even in the next 10 years I will be making something completely different. I’m always exploring different parts of my mind and existence with no pressure or demand from my ego to stick to one type of art making. I believe the constant unattachment to my work allows my mind to flow to new places and broadens my skill set overall. You go through different phases and styles in your work, which have you felt is the most you? Each style and phase of my work is magical and special to me, but to be honest I’m not sure I’ve found the type of art making that I am most connected too. Do you feel when you rewrite your style, do you become more or less what you envisioned yourself in your artistry? I believe I become more of myself in my work, absolutely. It’s a great feeling to see your skill set growing within your work. Which one piece do you feel most proud? I did an oil painting of an Iceberg a few years ago, it’s pretty special to me.

What do you need to happen or to do in order to What 45

what do you need to happen or to do in order to create work that is meaningful to you? Inspiration, space, pressure and time to think.

What is your mantra to life? “You do not will a flower to bloom, it just does under the right circumstances.” I think about that a lot when I become impatient in my life.

Tell us about one of your favorite pieces that has helped you grow

What have you done in order to recollect yourself when you’ve felt you are at a loss in your path?

through creating it. My Iceburg oil painting was definitely one of my favorite pieces to make. I learned I need energy to come through the painting, I crave a certain amount motion and feeling in my work. I grew so much making that piece, even when it came to techniques needed to paint translucent Ice, which for me was difficult.

“ I love the idea my work never stays the same, nothing in this dimension ever does anyways…” Why do you feel you need to create art? It’s become something I have to do to survive at this point. It’s like breathing, eating, sleeping, if I don’t do it I don’t function the right way.

I found letting go of my demands of myself really helps. I’ve had to learn I’m never really lost, sometimes the universe forces you to take a break, it pulls you back to propel you forward, like a slingshot. What are quotes, books or people that inspire you to keep seeking truth and enlightenment for yourself? “The Heart is Noble” by the H.H. the Seventeenth Karmapa / Jason Silva videos / “The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the sources of my inspiration.” - Claude Monet

Do you have an end goal in mind of mastering your craft? what does that look like to you? or is this an infinite experience? I definitely have some goals set in mind for me, which are all attainable, time is just a factor. But at the end of day, it really is an infinite experience. Like i mentioned before, I see the world as this constantly changing and infinite place, so naturally mastering my craft will fall under the same perspective.

“I found letting go of my demands of myself really helps. I’ve had to learn I’m never really lost, sometimes the universe forces you to take a break, it pulls you back to propel you forward, like a slingshot.” Austere QUEST // 46


artwork by zarina kay

“Each style and phase of my work is magical and special to me.” Austere QUEST // 48

feelings and the future with

J ENN B L OSI L I remember sitting on my couch as I was about to watch the final season of American Idol. Not really being a show I typically watched, I analysed the crap out of it and mocked the majority of the people featured until I discovered Jenn Blosil.


Oh. My. God. Firstly, I couldn’t get over how corky and cool she was but when that girl sang, it was like no one else was even in the competition. It was like watching the type of artist that takes you into the honesty of her words and tells you it’ll be okay. After reaching out to her and some fun back and forth with alien emojis and everything, I found her sitting in my very own living room where I had once watched her on TV ready to play some guitar, talk about her feels on life and her next steps with her music all accompanied by her genuine goofiness, as expected. Enjoy the friendly banter that is the epitome of Jenn Blosil.


“I hope when people listen to my music they feel connected or feel like they know me. Or that they feel like the music spoke to them in some way because the lyrics were so honest.�

Austere QUEST // 50

Let’s start by having you introduce yourself and telling us a little about yourself. Introduce your vibe a little bit. Hello, my name is Jenn Blosil. I’m 24 years old, even though I look 18 (It’s fine..). I… What’s my vibe? I just believe in kindness. When I see people being kind it makes me cry. And I like jokes! Jokes and kindness. That’s what I would say. My vibe is jokes and being nice. And thinking about things.

What was the first moment in your life where you realized that pursuing music was something you wanted to do full time and wholeheartedly? The first moment in my life where I realized I wanted to pursue music came as a kid, I would say. It wasn’t as much of a dream but something that I always knew would happen even though I would always tell people something like ice skater, and lawyer, or these other things. But in my mind I always knew that I would be a singer. It’s what I loved. It wasn’t until after American Idol happened where I realized that I’m quitting my day job and I’m going to do this full time. Like, I deserve to do this full time and that I belong on that stage. I belong singing to people, that’s what I do. I don’t do anything else, like any side day jobs, that’s just not what I do. And so I’d say that’s when I decided to commit to it completely. And it’s been so good and has paid off so far.

Let’s talk a little bit about your creative process. What do you need in order to start working on a new song? What is your process from inception to completion? The creative process differs for me all the time. I typically will write songs about experiences that I have. So for me it’s very cathartic. Like, I need to talk about it. For me I don’t have a particular space to be in, it’s just kind of wherever it happens, it happens. I could be driving and think, “this is so cool.”. I also love listening to music and then thinking about things and then coming up with lines in my head or lyric pieces that I want to use. I really love co-writing or co-creating because I have a hard time finishing things. So basically I’ll go to someone and I’ll have a concept and a melody and all these key words. Or I’ll have a verse or a chorus and I’ll ask them to help me put in a second verse. Or I’ll just have an idea and ask them what they think. So, co-writing is the most fun for me because people help me make sense of my ideas. And then also we can write things far quicker. Where I’m like okay, bam, we


just wrote a song in like 30 minutes (Hi Grammys). Haha, I mean it hasn’t happened yet but hopefully one day.

Where are you originally from and what is the creative community like from there? I’m originally from Utah, and I’m obsessed with it. The more I leave, the more I think that Utah is great. For reasons recently, I’ve discovered that Utah is very industrious. I grew up in a community where people were starting their own companies all the time. We had start ups and they were really successful, and multi-billion dollar companies. And that wasn’t just one out of a dozen, it was happening all the time. My friends had all the coolest jobs doing creative things like graphic design, marketing, advertising or whatever. I just love that I live in this community where people are encouraged to have dreams and follow them, like starting their own business. And also, our community is very close. Like, the music scene in Provo is very competitive but in a cool way where we were each learning from how another marketed themselves. A band that I love, The Moth and the Flame (they are so good) we would play together, and one time for advertising they put their logo all up in trees around the community and did all this cool stuff. So I was like, awesome they did this so what am I going to do? What can I do to try and bump up the game like they did? So it’s just a fun grass roots community of marketing yourselves and your music, but we were still homies that would hang out and it wouldn’t even be weird or too competitive. There’s also mountains and people are really nice.

Is there anything that’s truly important to you to get across in anything that you do whether it be creatively or musically? The thing that’s really important to me is creating things that are authentic. I feel like it’s such a gift that people give to me when I see a piece of art or hear music or watch a film that has such humanity in it where I’m like, oh wow that was so edifying. I love that word. Where it’s not just cool, but it had some substance in it where I’m a better human being and more connected because of it. So I would say that a huge purpose of what I do is to create things, not that I’m perfect at it but I’m learning, that I am connected to. And things that I want people to hear.

What do you have coming up? I’m so excited to be recording more music. I moved back home to Utah to my little creative community, and I’m stoked because there’s so many incredible songwriters and musicians out there. The plan once we’re done touring, is to just go and start curating my music and writing a ton of songs and then going back and choosing the songs I really want to fully produce and then gathering them. I love the word curate, because I feel like each song is an art piece and I’m creating this gallery, so to speak, whether it be an EP or an album for it. But putting new content out there for people to hear is what I’m so excited about. So that’s coming up, and I’m so thrilled.

What would you say, sound wise, you could define this new music? What are some elements and textures you would say are present? The music mostly that’s out right now is an EP that we recorded a few weeks ago. I worked with a producer that I loved because he takes risks, and I really appreciate that. I love working with people who are intuitive, where they say, “Cool, let’s try it.”. Even if it’s a bad idea, they’re okay to try it. Kind of like there’s no bad ideas. I’m excited to work with him again. And also, I was raised playing classical piano and I want more of that present. There’s darkness and beauty that comes from approaching music in a classical sense. And then I have a friend, Jay, who is an incredible jazz drummer, and I want to use him for the beats because the stuff that he does is so fresh and cool. And then we’ll probably compress it and sample it and find new ways to keep that freshness. I also love indie grunge guitar. One of the writers I love working with, Robby, is one of the best guitarists I know. His guitar playing is out of this world. So, those are some sounds and elements that I’m really excited about. Where it’s moody and dark, yet beautiful and light.

or do I want to change my behavior?” Changing my behavior will ultimately lead to me to being happier but part of me is like, no, I’m so set in my ways. Even though this cycle keeps repeating itself, a part of me wants to be on this ride. So then I’m like, “Wow.” I love that my songs will come back and teach me things. That is so cool to me, like holy smokes I wrote about this but right now it’s teaching me this new thing, and then I get to sing it to myself. Where before it was sung for someone else, but now I need to listen up. The second thing I would say is prayer is really huge for me. I believe that the spirit of God can teach me. Something that I’ve loved is going to God and asking, “Okay cool, what’s the next step?” Then, whatever comes to mind or is pressing on me, I say cool. Even if I don’t know the next ten, here’s the one. And I move forward like that as well. As a creative, what is the biggest take away you want people to get from what you create? I keep coming back to the word edifying. I just want that in all aspects of my life. The interactions I have with people, the way I live my life. I found that I’m happier when things are authentic and I’m with somebody and it’s this real space of connection. Which is the most frightening but also the most beautiful thing. So I hope when people listen to my music they feel connected or feel like they know me. Or that they feel like the music spoke to them in some way because the lyrics were so honest. Sometimes I can’t listen to music and I get annoyed because I don’t think they mean what they’re saying. I hope people know that I mean what I say when I’m singing about it, and that other people can say wow, thank you for speaking about something that I’ve thought about but maybe have been too scared to admit. That’s what I hope people take away.

Where do you go, or what do you do, in order to reconnect when you feel lost on your path? A few things came to my mind. When I am feeling a little bit lost, or want to know what the next step is, one of the things that I thought was that songs that I have written will take on new meanings at different points in my life. One of my songs that’s called “If That’s What You Want” was originally written for a different topic but now means something different to me just in the past day or two. I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve flipped. I do this thing that’s causing me a lot of pain, and now I have this choice, since I’m aware of it, to be like, “Cool, do I want to keep doing this

Austere QUEST // 52

// DNR //


Closed. Calling it: dead on arrival. It seems, lately, that the curtains have fallen prematurely on far too many a phenomenon. Whether person or place, figure or venue, we frequently must confront - and often, very suddenly - the locked doors of finality. It can be the literal dropping of a curtain or locking of a door - or it can be a door-slammed-in-your-face feeling of an ending relationship. Generally, it fucking sucks. Denton has felt such loss of place heavier than most. Within the last year, the music scene has seen the passing of its beloved Rubber Gloves, Hailey’s, J&J’s Basement, and more. It’s a time of change, in DFW at large, and in our culture, too. Vestiges of the past, good and bad, are coming to a close. These edifices that we build helped build us, back - how many musicians and artists, music-lovers and audiences alike, do you think felt woven in with the bones of J&J’s Old Dirty Basement? How many aspiring bands and ramshackle touring vans do you think walked out of Rubber Gloves, as if reborn amidst dust and grime? Or dancers and late-night deviants, losing sense of self and shame to the tunes of childhood, in a neon-and-smoke-ravaged small town rave at Hailey’s?


It may sound dramatic, to say such things, but if you have not felt an attachment to the venues of your life, then simply think of the souls that you have inhabited, intertwined with like a vine climbing a high-rise. Your relationships have been homes as much as these shows and venues have been. And the loss of such things is something we all try to author self-help for, yet, rarely do we find a panacea that seems to spare us the pain. We all know these kinds of losses to be a part of life, and yet, this knowledge makes no real difference in our coping. And it presents no obstacle to our desire to resuscitate. Here’s the thing: we always fight for continuance. We want to keep these venues, these people, alive. We want to defeat physicality and its laws. The desire is admirable, but ultimately, it’s known that we cannot win such a battle. The real strength, then, is letting it pass. Like a toe tag proclaiming “DNR”, we’ve got to get ourselves to the point where we can say DO NOT RESUSCITATE, and we can believe it, feel it, want it. You can’t prolong anything forever, as hard as that will be to grasp. But you can make the choice to stop revisiting this loss, to finish grieving, and to begin reassembling the shards of what may seem to you a shattered being.

You were never so solid that you could shatter irreperably, though. You are no ship of boards and beams. No matter what is lost, or what is replaced, there will always be a “you” that only breaks in order to be rebuilt. Your body and mind may split apart like a thousand leaves of paper spilled on the floor; but yours was always an unbound book, and you need only gather up the pages, again and again, until you find the thread of the tale once again. So you’re going to break. And wounds of all kinds will paint your body like a canvas - but never think you must cover up these torn seems and shattered dreams with some unseen epoxy, though. Your brokenness is the purest beauty.

“We always fight for continuance. We want to keep these venues, these people, alive. We want to defeat physicality and its laws.”

So seal the schisms of your skin with gold, so all may know the tramplings that your soul beholds. It will be as a sculptor beset upon stone - you will know pain greater than anything come before. Trust me when I say that it will be okay even though that pain will never fully leave you.

Austere QUEST // 54

That’s the looped nature of living - you will turn about the wheel of memory over and over, until your ghosts of loss lose their skin, their teeth, and slowly, their visage fades into nothing more potent than an atomic shadow, emblazoned as reminders in the sides of buildings that stay standing. I tell you all of this because it took me so long to pull the plug, and decide not to attempt resuscitation. I was a record stuck skipping on the same song, over and over, despite how conscious I was of the waning pleasure. It’s no secret to most who knew me that I was hung up on a relationship with someone that kept managing to make me press play “one more time”, ad infinitum. And I won’t sit here and pretend that I was the one who was brave enough to cut the cord. I had to be left in order to be broken enough to rebuild - with the glacial grace that only a hopeless romantic can have, of course - myself and my life.

I hated being defined by that loss. I had so much expression pouring out of me about it, and yet, constantly lived in the insecurity of believing that everyone had enough. Plenty of you did, I’m sure. Even now, I wonder if it just seems that I’m revisiting this nearly-nine-months passed loss, if I’m still hung up on it, working through it.

Pain may always linger. And you may constantly find yourself chewing further, even when your jaw aches and your bones erode, when friends and family leave you sitting at the table to slowly, if ever, finish this meal. And that’s beautiful. It’s horrid sounding, depressing maybe, but it’s my truth. It’s what I have to offer you, through all the loops of loss that I’ve gone through. It’s not just one thing, but, I have only so much space on this end-ever-approaching page. So, as I must do soon, with these words You must find a way to do this with loss. Cut the cord. Refuse to resuscitate. There’s no way to set such a cord-cutting, though. It is not as precise as the Fates, and their measuring and cutting of life-threads. You must know, now or later, that life is a wheel, and you would be lucky to learn anything in a single revolution. It brings you back around, again and again, because it takes countless tumblings to polish smooth a stone.

You’re going to find yourself wondering - how many turns does it take? How many times do you have to spin a record before you hear the words of the music? Before you find where the chapter ends, where a side becomes b, and you see the meaning?

Maybe I am. That’s the entire point of this. No one tells you this, but, I’m going to give you a little secret, a little portent of perspective, here, that you may not find palletable, nor pleasurable - in fact, I hope you find it repulsive, in the way of an unendingly chewy, dry morsel that lingers on your tongue long after you taste it: As a child, your bones were new and your skin was growing, still elastic and ready to rebound from any scrapes or cuts. But as an adult, there are some losses, some wounds, whose scars will never fade. You may not ever get over the things you lose.


You might have to be alone. Or maybe, surrounded by the thousand-leaved lotus that is the village of friends surrounding you. Love is not just the sweet suffering of romance; it’s the compassion between us all. All it takes is the right cocktail of experience and mindset for you to see it all. There’s no telling how many times you’ll have to go around the wheel to get what you need. No one can give you a grocery list of requirements for moving forward; you’ll just have to struggle, survive, and eventually, find a way to see things clearly. And that clarity may, as it did for me, come in the form of something very hard to swallow:

That you will break again. That loss only signals the beautiful chaos of life - up and down, loss and gain, reset and rebuild. That there is no end, no final goal, save the goal of aspiring towards growth purely for the sake of growing. That some things will break you beyond repair, but you will stitch and glue until you can stand and shake and move and groove again. It will not be perfect, and your loss may be sewn into the very fibers of your being, and the scars of such a parting may always ache. But you will spin the wheel. You’ll survive. And one day, you’ll find the strength, at least, to stop giving breath to that which has long ceased to beat, to bleed, to be what you need. I know you’ll make it.

“I had to be left in order to be broken enough to rebuild-”

Austere QUEST // 56

Theseus’ ship when we break, what do we lose? If all of the material pieces of our being are lost, exchanged, replaced - then are we still ourselves? Where is that core of Theseus’ ship that remains constant,


even when every board and beam is rebuilt?


Austere QUEST // 58

59 PHOTOGRAPHER adi putra



inexpressible of


understanding or enlightenment. BOOKS






/se’tôrē/ CHAPTER IV _









Austere QUEST // 60


a bursting



Anything that helped you was okay.

It’s all coming together now through satori.

Any path pursued in passion is more than okay.

That’s it. It’s hard to express, isnt it? You know it and recognize it, but putting words to it never seems to satisfy. Voicing this newfound understanding becomes a lump in the throat that just won’t go; it’s like a zen koan which, in trying for the bullseye, only gets farther from the full sight. Seeking concrete, black-and-white answers only leaves us with less understanding.

So you lost. Maybe fell apart, even, for a while. But look at you now. You’ve burst through the surface, and that first breath is exhilarating. As it should be, when you’ve been strangled so long by thought. You broke, but you’re back - things come together as much as they fall apart because everything breathes.

Follow the ever unfolding questions, for their own sake. That’s how you got here. Like a tree bearing countless vascular branches, life has revealed the paradox of order within chaos; of patterns lurking within absurdity. There are worlds other than these, like innumerable bubbles of soap, floating, and who can say, and who should care, if this is the best of all possible? The idea is that all branches are bound together, and all difference is just pieces of the same whole. That’s what you’ve gathered, you rolling stone, no? Any choices you made were okay.

Expand, contract. Like any old house, It may crack your foundation, or shift the frame, but this is all flowing with the waves. We can’t fight the circle of loss and change anymore than we can avoid the movement of seasons. Just breathe, and be born along.

Austere QUEST // 62

63 PHOTOGRAPHER maya beano (LEFT/right)

“For a long time, I believed that one has to be a very tough cookie to get through life unscathed, and I spent a lot of energy putting up defences that I thought would shelter me from anything unpleasant that may come my way. Year after year, these walls grew higher, but lately, I’ve come to learn that there is more strength in fragility than I ever imagined. Instead of retreating inwards, I am starting to venture outwards. I am reconnecting with my love for life, accepting all it’s ups and downs and discovering new sanctuaries along the way.”

Photographer // Maya Beano

Austere QUEST // 64


THE TILE HOUSE Photo Story By // Conner Sorensen and Emily Landers – Bluebird, Baby Photographer // Bryce Sorensen Features // Conner Sorensen, Emily Landers, Bryce Sorensen, Garrett Young

Austere QUEST // 66


Austere QUEST // 68

“It was the dead of night, the only thing lighting our path was the stars. Blindfolded after a three hour drive, we finally arrived at our secret destination. It was my birthday, and Emily and my brother, Bryce, had planned a surprise getaway. When I stepped out of the car, the air was cold and dry. Making our way into the house, the scents of wood and incense filled my nose, and I was sat down. Beyond the blindfold was a sensory overload of mosaic tiles, Buddhist depictions, junk art, and books. The house was completely filled with books.”


Austere QUEST // 70

“Making home in our new fortress, The Tile House, became the host of something truly rare. With no presence of technology and no responsibilities to attend to, we stepped into an era before ours. Time became irrelevant to the intimacies of seven friends in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do but tell stories, read poetry, listen to music both new and old, and explore the vast surroundings so drastically different from our LA homes. With an on-going high, we ventured through our souls and shared vulnerable thoughts, leading us all to agree that The Tile House was an incomparable experience that cannot be fully retold.�


“We didn’t know at the time, but this journey was what felt like the beginning of everything, a rebirth. We disconnected from ourselves to reconnect in a way we had never experienced before. The unexpected gifts offered to us by The Tile House aided us in this rediscovery of how to be present and awake.

The photos we chose were candid and taken in some of our most vulnerable states of being. Moments of impulse and honesty make an illustration of time spent interacting with the surprises in life, surprises that can only lead one further on the path to enlightenment.”

Austere QUEST // 72

What is your music writing process? It varies from every single record, typically I do a lot of journaling. Sometimes I find old journals of things I’ve already went through, and be like wow this was something that was really important to me i should reflect on that. And that journal entry ends up becoming a poem. Sometimes Caleb will have an instrumental written and I’ll be like ”Oh my good, this the home or vessel for this poem.” Sometimes I’ll have a poem and he’ll listen to me read it and he’ll write to it and other times we’ll have 5 poems and 5 songs and kind of see if any of them fit together. So it just depends on where we’re at but Caleb and I and, some of the most beautiful musicians ever, my buddies Louie and Nick Ingram, our producer from the last two records will write with us. We have a lot of people who help steer the ship including my buddies Kevin and Peter back home. They try to keep me from going too insane cause I get very lost when I write so a lot of the process is taming me.

Can you give each album you’ve released a single sentence description? “Everything We Could Have Done Differently” was a stream of consciousness trying to work through adapting to an adult life but dealing with the reminisce of high school drama. “I’m Almost Happy Here But I Never Feel At Home” is a record about finding a sense of home when the things you rely on the most are gone including family members and literal homes.


“Run Wild Young Beauty” is a record about breaking down the walls I’ve built between others and myself through selfishness and understanding we’re created to run wild.


“Run Wild Stay Alive” is about the survivor’s guilt that comes from surviving the trials of life knowing that those that you love and those you never got but look up to you didn’t survive.

What brought you to create this into more of a band as opposed to simply being a spoken word poet? Hotel books started as a poetry blog and I started memorizing the poems and performing them at coffee shops and had some friends in metal bands who were inviting me to perform a poem or two while they would set up for a metal set. I knew Bradley Hathaway and Me Without You and some artists who had incorporate music and spoken word and my buddy Kevin came in and started writing soundscapes for his own music. So I actually started pairing my poems with the soundscapes. There was no conversation, I just did it one day and sent them to him and we both felt like there was some power there, through the synergy of it. And then through signing to a label, touring, learning what works and what doesn’t work, and trying to keep the noise control to the room to a certain level it made more sense to add more instruments. It got to a point where we found ourselves as a full band because we wanted to find the healthiest and most sustainable vessel we could to share our poetry.

What do you want your fans to take away from your poetry? I want everyone in our community and the people who hear my poems or my bands songs to just understand that there are so many people selling us solutions and so often those are the same people creating the problems. I think we’re so advertised too constantly that we forget to just breathe and say hey you’re alive and that’s pretty cool. I try to create music where people can find hope and love in just existing. Not having to change, not having to adapt, not having to fit a mold but rather just say, “I’m alive and that’s enough for me to pursue love.” Check out their latest record, Run Wild Stay Alive and keep an eye out for upcoming things like a new book, a documentary and much more certain to inspire the soul.

“I surrendered control to the heart inside of me and let my passion drive until I was done completely. Done completely out of the hole, gained back control, saved from the cold, feeling back home. Or maybe feeling home for the first time.

Because for the first time in a long time, I felt alive. I felt the ability to strive. I felt like there were odds stacked for me, and love was on my side.

Everybody has the strength to do great things as long as we don’t compromise for a world of things. Darling, you deserve so much more than what this world has given you; I promise it’s true And if you see through it, you can do anything, anything you set your heart to.

sink or swim with


I’ve been at the lowest point beyond anything I ever did foresee. And with the power of love and ambition, I found myself back into a place of peace.”

Austere QUEST // 74








behind world.















lifting the veil of reality and


/ mīE, ’mäyE/ CHAPTER V _




Austere QUEST // 76



It’s called a breakthrough for a reason.


Because in order to burst through the bubble of mundanity, and into the realm of higher understanding, we must first break our own bonds. Look through the lens of your words, and you’ll come to see that they are less so the surgeon’s suture, ever-precise in its weaving together of life and meaning, and more so simply a needle, poking holes in the sheets over our eyes. Maya is revealed. We’ve got to break past the membranes that keep us wrapped up in our own limited, singular perspectives. Through whatever tools you end up finding, along the way, you’re going to have to break and rebuild, break and rebuild, wielding your story like a chisel and your scars like the valleys of the sculptor’s vision. After all, the movement towards beauty does not remove the marble’s pain. How many times will it take? How many cycles, loops, steps backwards and forwards, until you’ve finished? That’s the greatest loop of them all. The ultimate ourobouros - that there is neither end nor closure in this pursuit, save in the self-completion of a circuit. Because you will continually break and rebirth yourself. You will molt your

skin and your self indefinite times in your life - but like your actual dermis, the nebulous thing that is “you” is layered, standing astride the imagined line between what is physical and what is not. It is self sustaining. Self-justifying, as well, this pursuit. There doesn’t need to be a goal to achieve, or a destination to reach. If we gave you a ring of keys, and you knew without a doubt that one of those keys would unlock the door onto all that you wish to be Would it matter how many keys there were? Would you not try anyways, even if it were impossible to test them all? See, ultimately - it’s just the determination to try without promise that matters. Say you never found that one “perfect” key perhaps there is no such, for any of us - would you not find so much more, about yourself and your world, than just the achievement of one single goal? Our quest was never about a beginning or an end.

Austere QUEST // 78


Austere QUEST // 80





You have your favorite top on. You know the one that shows a bit of your stomach? But not too much, just enough to show your belly button and the tiny amount of skin so many boys get excited about. You are sitting at a crowded bar. A stranger reaches over you to grab their beer, accidently spilling some of it on your hand. The stranger doesn’t notice. Okay, they’re not really a stranger. They’re a friend of a friend, and although you’ve exchanged polite hellos, you don’t care to interact with them. You keep checking your phone to see if he’s texted you back, he hasn’t. You check Snapchat, and see he’s uploaded recently. You feel slighted. Someone burns your arm with their cigarette. They apologize profusely; it happens. You guys both laugh about it, and then they go back to flirting with the person next to them. You smile a bit, look around, and try to make eye contact with your actual friends. It doesn’t work. They’re all singing along to karaoke. A girl with a deep soothing voice is singing “Killing me Softly.” She is obviously way too good to be doing karaoke at a dive bar. That stuff is always painful, you know? No one wants to hear a good singer at karaoke night. Everyone is there to laugh at how awful they are. There is something about collectively acknowledging your flaws that brings a crowd together. Anyway, everyone around you is laughing. You want to join in, but it all feels kind of fake. I mean you’re having fun, but you’re not reallllly having fun. Something is troubling at you. You decide to take a break from the small talk and the awkward eye

contact, and go to the bathroom. You walk as fast as you can, hoping no one realizes you’ve slipped away. While doing so, you almost run into someone; a cute boy. “Snap out of it,” you say. You’re on a mission. Almost like a refugee approaching safety, you run into the bathroom. Luckily, the stalls are empty. You enter a tiny yellow stall, and struggle to lock the door behind you. Right before you can, a drunk girl enters the bathroom. She can see inside the stall; you both lock eyes. To her, the little sliver that exposes you is an open invitation for conversation. She enters her stall, screeching “Heyyyy, girl.” She is rambling about how drunk she is. You don’t care. You look at the posters and flyers taped to the stall walls. Most of them look like punk bands; there are some rap groups in between. One particularly catches your eye. It’s a girl with spiked hair staring directly at you. Her eyes look empty, she looks sad. In the stall next you, the drunk girl asks if you’re seeing anyone. You desperately want to escape, so you close your eyes. You have returned to your childhood room. It’s a gloomy afternoon, and you’ve been locked in your dungeon. The bright pink walls are mimicking you. The teddy bears pilled on your bed are staring at you. They look as bored as you feel. You’re too old for this room, I mean after all you are fourteen. Outside you can hear your parents arguing. “Why does she wish to go somewhere else,” your mother yells.” “She has everything here she needs.” Your parents don’t understand you. You guys are so different. If puberty wasn’t enough to divide you, surely the fact your parents were

born in another country does. I mean, you were born there too, but America became your home before you learned how to pronounce your own name. You are beyond bored, and you are frustrated. Why would your parents never let you hang out after school with the other kids? Was going over to Sarah’s house after school really that bad? Was it really all that scandalous for two teenage girls to be home alone? What kind of trouble would you really get into anyway? It’s not like boys were going to fall through the ceiling. Maybe they would use the doorbell instead? Maybe Sarah would let you invite over the boy who called you “too dark” yesterday. You know the boy who you thought was cute, but for some reason made fun of you in front of the whole class? The one that made your mind go through mazes and do backflips. He confused you. Even back then you knew you shouldn’t like boys who made you sad, but you did anyway. You do anyway. Your teenage years were filled with longing. Longing to experience something you’d been denied for a long time. Some call it freedom, others called it salvation. You wanted to be your own person. You wanted to escape from your parent’s judgmental glare or harsh tongues. You wanted to escape the pressure of being an immigrant’s child; a child that worked ten times harder than everyone else, because your failure was your parent’s failure. You wanted to go where you pleased, when you

pleased. You wanted to strip your fake skin. The skin you wore around your family, almost like armor. You wanted to be able to laugh at the top of your lungs with friends, and talk about how the boy from 5th period had a beautiful jawline. How when he passed you in the hallway, you’d flip your hair, and check your breath. You know? Just in case he decided to say “hey.” He never did. You wanted his attention, and wanted to feel good about it. You wanted, you wanted, you wanted. You snap out of your thoughts, and you’re back at the bar. The epitome of freedom, but yet something still feels wrong. Moments like these are always confusing. You’re in your early twenties. Your parents are both out of mind and out of sight. You can be you. You can finally laugh out loud about the man sitting at the bar that kept trying to buy you a drink, or how uncomfortable it was when he took your hand; attempting to make you dance with him to “PYT.” You can even sit at the back of the bar with the boy that was playing pool. The cute one you ran into while speed walking to the bathroom, the one that smiled and waved. All this freedom and you still don’t exactly feel happy. It’s then while sitting in that dingy yellow stall, the drunk girl next to you blabbering about being on a break with her boyfriend, you realize something about yourself. Something you never really considered a problem, until now. You’ve always associated

freedom with attraction. Some call it love others prefer lust. Maybe it was because that was the only thing that was really yours. Something your parents’ couldn’t silence or take away. It was YOUR hidden defiance. You found happiness in the glares of strangers. Delighted by how they pursued you, and sometimes whispered sweet words in your ear. It was comforting to know that someone desired your presence, especially since you spent so much time trying to escape your own skin. You had inadvertently managed to decide that inner peace and happiness came from the harmony of two hearts beating as one. Although you once perceived it as salvation, you now realize it was an illusion. Love or lust is not the only path to happiness. You now know you have locked yourself behind a pseudo understanding of joy. You open the stall; the drunk girl is already out washing her hands. She realizes you’re out of the stall, and she is crying. Mascara is running down her eyes, she softly says, “He always does this me. He doesn’t give a fuck.” You try to soothe her, and tell her all the things you would want to hear. “It’s okay, he’s probably just busy. He still loves you. Boys just suck sometimes.” The usual, but even saying those things now felt wrong. You stop yourself, and look deep in her eyes. You tell her, “Hey, I don’t really know you, but you seem lovely.” She blinks at you, happiness sweeping her face. “So what if that boy doesn’t

message you back,” you say. “Enjoy your time out. I am sure you have friends here who love and care about you.” She wipes her tears, and you guys both laugh about how much the bathroom smells like piss. You leave, feeling as if you’ve shed some skin. When you’re outside, you spot cute pool boy. He approaches you, and asks if you want a drink. You politely tell him “no” and return to your table of friends. Everyone is wondering where you’ve been for the last few minutes. You smile, and make some jokes about how much you just peed. Your friends tell you they’ve signed you up for karaoke. At first you’re hesitant, but eventually realize it’s all in good fun. To be honest, you’ll probably crush it, because you’re actually a great singer. Ironically, you’re just as good as the girl who sang “Killing me softly.” You don’t care anymore, you’re ready to shine and have fun. As you look around at the smiling faces, your phone vibrates in your pocket. You open it, and it’s a text message from him. He says “What are you up to?” You look at it for a while, trying to decide what exactly to say. You just end up smiling, and turning your phone off. You’re up next for karaoke.

Austere QUEST // 82








PHOTOGRAPHER lauren slade




I recently journeyed to Peru. The spontaneous trip was triggered by a particularly nasty breakup and, ever the dramatist, I booked my ticket in what I imagined would be a week of new experiences, rich and rewarding. Images of helpful Inca, bursting with gusto for life, washed over me. I romantically mused about roaming the streets of Lima, too absorbed in the architecture and cultural aberrations to care about anyone or anything that did not concern the sweeping, breathtaking beauty in which Peru enveloped me. But I was mistaken. I did not blossom into an independent, vibrant woman of the world in the span of a week. Yes, the awe and power of the Andes brought me to tears, and yes, when I touched the damp stone of the cathedrals I felt the ravages of time as well as the fortitude of humanity. I experienced a multitude of sensations- but the one I marveled at the most was the inability of the heart to heal willingly. I learned that for true growth, one must not flee from adversity nor pain. A whirlwind adventura, albeit romantic, is not the cure-all we may deem it to be. In discovering this, I was more lost than ever. But as any weary traveler of the world (or Elmore, or Mellencamp) will tell you – sometimes you’ve got to get a little lost in order to be found.

Austere QUEST // 84


PHOTOGRAPHER marle banta

If you told me a year ago that someone could pass along energy in the name of healing for a living, I’d sign up for a lifetime membership. I recently came across Gina who not only performs Reiki to clients in need of healing, but also serves as a Death Doula. Her job literally helps guide us through life and learning about it has opened our eyes tremendously.


BY Natasha Brito, Austere

what is Reiki and what does it means to you? Reiki by definition is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and realization. that may promote emotional and physical wellbeing. reiki to me is the flow of universal life force energy or key which flows through the practitioner to a receptive client. When i’m doing reiki i always ask from my heart that the client receive the energy in a manner that is in alignment with what is in their highest and best good at that moment. I also tend to combine reiki with some other healing modalities like vibrational sound massage and some breathing exercises like pranayama as well What got you into it? What got me started with reiki is about 9 years ago one of my close friends that i was living with at the time experienced a reiki session. She had a profound release of this old stagnant emotional energy that she had been carrying around for a while. When she got home, she told me about it. I totally was like, “Whoa that sounds so amazing.” so I felt an inner pull to start researching teachers in the area and research the modality in itself. Being a nurse I had already started at that point to feel uncomfortable with some of the limited ways we provide care for patients in the hospital. By limited I mean we focus solely on treating the disease and the symptoms but rarely do we consider the full spectrum of being human means. So to me there’s a physical component to that and you can treat physical symptoms in the body but it’s much deeper to me than that; there’s emotional layers, spiritual layers. In my experience we have something called subtle bodies and it’s explained differently depending on whom you learn it from but there’s different kind of energy bodies that extend within and around the physical body that make up your “aura”. So treating that whole universe that everyone has their own little world, their own little aura around them, and by treating that, especially the etheric body and the emotional body and the mental body, more profound healing can take place and i feel like it’s a much more balanced approach in addition to conventional medicine. I definitely wouldn’t rule out conventional medicine totally. Between energy work and alternative therapies, it’s just a more comprehensive way of looking at a human being and caring for things. It enables us using energy work in my

experience to get to the root cause of something. We don’t always have to name it or understand what it is but it brings this higher vibrational energy to the moment and helps shift anything that the patients been holding on to, whether it is energetically, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. What benefits does it have to people and what type of healing does it provide? I think I sort of named some of the benefits of reiki in my last statement but in my own experience with clients it seems to vary from person to person. Some of it depends on the day, the receptivity of the client, how clear and awake and ready I feel. So it seems like there’s a good amount of variables but reiki does also have it’s own intelligence and it works on whatever level of those subtle bodies that I was talking about that the recipient needs in just the right amount. so with my own clients I’ve had them report a reduction in stress levels, more clarity around a subject that they were wrestling with, etc. Sometimes just small miracles seem to happen. I had an animal client once who was my landlord’s dog actually and the dog was in liver failure and I did some reiki for the dog and the liver condition completely dissolved and the dog was healed. I don’t know if it was the reiki or something else but it was kind of amazing. My landlord felt like it had a lot to do with the reiki because it had been a really chronic condition and it seemed to heal quite quickly. So that’s pretty cool. Stuff like that is pretty amazing when something like that happens. I also feel that Reiki opens

people up to other possibilities, other understandings of who we are and why we’re here, more to the miracles of life. People realize they have their own innate gifts or want to be empowered to follow their own healing path or learn different healing modalities, learn about astrology, or different meditations, etc. The more people that receive reiki and have good experiences tend to go out and talk about it. People either reiki themselves or share the experience and people are like, “Oh maybe there is more to life than just what we see in the material world or physical world in front of us.” It’s my hope that that’s what happens, that people begin to see life in more of a magical way. I think that’s one of the biggest benefits, it’s not just the healings that take place, but it’s also how it opens people up to a different kind of way of seeing reality or experiencing their reality. You are a death doula. What is that? Why is it essential and what benefit does it have to others? I was trained first from Inelda, that was the training I went through which was a weekend long. At birth when babies are coming into the world, there are mid wives and birth doulas. They kind of are there to support the process and a death doula is pretty much the same thing except the other transition which is out of the physical world into whatever you believe is next. So it’s sort of holding space for the family and creating a safe supportive environment. It gives the client or patient some sort of control and empowerment around death. I feel like in our culture death can still be

considered taboo. Our ways of dealing with death are really outdated, almost medieval to me. We don’t acknowledge that it is a beautiful process and could be a beautiful process of letting go and forgiving. So the death doula kind of anchors that beautiful space for the family and helps guide them through a process of looking back on their life, what they want to remember, what they want to let go of and just preparing so it’s not just something that happens and life is over. It’s acknowledging that it is a transition and just another phase. It could end up being a profoundly spiritual and deep experience for everyone as opposed to just seeing it as an ending. So I feel like that’s kind of what it’s about and why it’s essential. What is your perspective on life’s purpose? How have you found your purpose? To be honest I feel like I’m still in a process of understanding my life’s purpose. So I don’t feel my search is over. The first thing I thought of when answering these questions was if I had found my life purpose. I thought of lord of the rings with Gandalf talking about just doing small acts of kindness and how that becomes more important than having this big quest that you need to accomplish or do, it’s more like just being. The Dalai Lama says something similar, which is doing small kind things for people, and it leads you where you need to be along your path. There’s just as much importance in the ordinary things in life and if you do those ordinary things with great love and reverence and (#1) respect for yourself so you can acknowledge yourself and then

extend that to other people. It’s important to come from a place where you’re filled with your own inner satisfaction and peace and then you share it with others. It’s a balance thing; you go back and forth in my opinion. It’s not some ideal. “Yes I’m filled with love and now I’m going to sprinkle it everywhere.” I’m not there yet anyways, it’s more like knowing when I need rest or time off and acknowledging when I can or can’t give. What is your mantra to life? My mantra to life is Om Mani Padme Hum, which is a Tibetan chant. It means the joule in the lotus of the flower. Can be translated into different meanings. It’s the mantra of the mercy and compassion. I’m constantly saying it over and over to myself. One of my biggest challenges has been being compassionate with myself. I can be compassionate with others but sometimes self-compassion has been more of a challenge. so that mantra helps me to stay centered.

“People either reiki themselves or share the experience and people are like, ‘Oh maybe there is more to life than just what we see in the material world or physical world in front of us.’ It’s my hope that that’s what happens, that people begin to see life in more of a magical way.”

Austere QUEST // 86




Austere QUEST // 88





more been

beautiful broken.


















The art of repairing something with



/‘Ken(T), ‘süge/ CHAPTER VI _






Austere QUEST // 90



You’re becoming.


It takes breaking to rebuild. Where once you were being, comfortable, stagnant, you have now grown. It was uncomfortable, inexpressibly so, even, but it has brought you here. You thought you wanted to just float on, to let the uncoupling of your self from the object of your loss free you from being. Because it’s heavy, being here, ripped apart from something you thought definitve of your being. But you’ve learned, now, that there’s no need to hold on. That we only hate breaking because being whole is comfortable.

Or you find new understanding Of the old. And this understanding is that You are broken, But you are all the more beautiful because of it; kintsugi. Now breathe. Close your eyes. We said this was not about end, And so you have to be ready For it to happen again.

First you have the beginning of your story: Don’t mind the sensation of falling a loss. We’ve just come to another expanse. You seek remedy, but you find You’ll do even better, this time. We know it. That the plot begins to lose sense, To lose hope, But you stumble upon a new path,

Austere QUEST // 92

93 PHOTOGRAPHER maya beano (left/right)

Austere QUEST // 94

cinderblock-ed s e s s i o n s



Story by tabitha redder, AUSTERE

It’s not just a show that you’ll find in these parts: it’s something more like a communion. A dozen couches surround a stage framed with dangling Edison bulbs. Floor and table lamps cast dim lighting, while candles, coffee tables and rugs surround guests. The hushed atmosphere engulfs you and the small crowd waits with bated breath. The show is about to begin. “We bring you to our living room,” said Jake Hull, Cinderblock Session owner and founder. Cinderblock Sessions are intimate, recorded, live acoustic shows with local Dallas-based musicians. What started in late 2014 with a handful of attendees now draws crowds of 50-60 every session and has a hefty amount of community support and admiration. Hull explained how he strived to create an experience where guests could enjoy the music and vibe, free from distraction of chatter, clinking drinks and waitresses taking orders. “The cool thing about our shows is people show up on time because they want to be part of the entire experience,” he said. Within the room, there is also a mutual respect for the music, so it’s relatively quiet. “People sit down, shut up and listen to the music,” executive producer Nick Melita states. This unique experience allows guests to experience a more intimate immersion in the music, and from this, feel a deeper sense of connection with the space, the artists, and the community within. It’s a Session that provides so much more than a 45 minute set of music. Cinderblock Sessions is a branch of Cinderblock, a full inhouse production company, making this a different genre of music venue with a perfect niche to fill. “Lots of musicians need content, but not a lot of sessions do studio work,” Hull said. Given their background in photography and film, with the help of their team, the duo is able to produce high-quality video products for local musicians free of charge. This generously gives the artists material that they can potentially send to other venues, booking agents or labels. It’s almost unbelievable that something so beneficial for the local art community, so benign and innocent as people vibing

Austere QUEST // 96

to music, would be met with so much opposition. In late April, Cinderblock Sessions was setting up a show for later that evening when a volunteer pulled Hull aside and told him the Dallas city code inspector had paid them an unexpected visit. “My heart went straight to my stomach,” Hull said. After the duo promised to sort out the building’s bizarre permit situation come Monday morning, the inspector left and Cinderblock continued their session.

“It’s almost unbelievable that something so beneficial for the local art community, so benign and innocent as people vibing to music, would be met with so much opposition.”


Later, just after Hull had hit record on his camera, again, a volunteer whispered into his ear that they had yet another unanticipated visitor, but this time it was the Dallas Police Department. “It’s not always fun to see cop lights in front of your establishment when you have guests,” Hull said. “It’s embarrassing.” After showing the city inspector’s business card and promising, again, to fix the permit issue Monday morning, the police left, leaving the session to go on. “I had a knot in my stomach the whole time, hating everything about it. Fortunately, Jonas Martin killed it that night,” Hull said. “People in the room were crying, just because of how emotional it was. Even though mine and Nick’s heads were somewhere else, the

guests and Jonas really saved that session.” After the show was over, another officer arrived and told the duo that guests aren’t allowed to park in the grass lot next to their building without permits, meaning if they didn’t fix the issue, they would be shut down indefinitely. Thankfully, this officer eventually left as well. “The rest of the night was a super bummer for Nick and I,” Hull said. “But we found out later that we hid it so well from everyone that it didn’t ruin the night, which was a huge relief for us.” In the meantime, Cinderblock Sessions still had three shows booked in the season. They found a temporary venue, the Commondesk, an office and event space in Dallas. While Cinderblock Sessions was unloading their equipment for the next show at the Commondesk, the Fire Marshall arrived and said if they hosted the show, they would be fined. For the first time in over a year and a half, Cinderblock Sessions was forced to cancel a show. “It was heartbreaking,” Malita said. “You work with these artists and have audiences that root for you, and it sucked to tell them three hours before the show that it was canceled.” First thing Monday morning the duo started their lengthy quest with the city to get their problematic certificate of occupancy resolved. “I’ve been to the municipal office over 20 times,” Hull said. “When you go to the municipal office you are there for hours. You sit in this huge waiting room behind people that have city plans in these huge rolls.” “That process was like pulling teeth, but we finally figured it out,” Malita said. The building was up-to-code except Cinderblock Sessions lacked adequate parking for the type of business they were conducting. To remedy this, they would have to pave a parking lot, racking up a ten thousand dollar bill. “We were standing in our soon-to-be parking lot thinking, ‘how are we are going to get ten thousand dollars?’” Hull said. They decided to launch a month-long Indiegogo campaign to keep their dream alive. “We basically said, ‘we can’t afford this, but maybe people believe in us enough to donate.’” Malita said. After the first few days of the campaign, they had raised a third of their goal, but it plateaued after that. With three days left in the campaign and seven thousand

dollars short from their goal, the duo brainstormed an epic idea: a 12-hour telethon using the newly released Facebook Live. A timeslot system was created while friends, musicians and artists were all hailed and asked to share a portion of their day for the sake of the Sessions. “We tried to emulate a PBS telethon,” Malita said. The duo started the telethon at 8 a.m. donned in pajamas, robes and with coffee mugs in-tow. “In the first three hours we raised three grand. It almost put me and Nick in tears,” Hull said. The telethon featured musical performances, a game show, Madlibs, interviews with artists and bands and also included a shout out for every donor. “In the last hour we were doing anything and everything to get money,” Hull said. “I took a shot of Jack Daniels for $100.” It was a desperate hope that began this fight, and it was the same energy that kept it alive right up until the very last minutes of the telethon. Though the fight was arduous, taxing, and bureaucratic - The team triumphantly ended the day around 10 p.m., their goal conquered, and the sessions resurrected. The thing about Cinderblock Sessions is that ego or individualism plays no part. It’s an effort fueled by community, and through this last-ditch effort to keep this musical communion alive, the spirit of the Sessions truly shines through. “Everyone came together to support us and I don’t think we will ever be the same because of it,” Hull said. So, once paradise is paved, Cinderblock plans to put up a parking lot - and when the building is up to code, invite the policemen who visited their shows to prove that the sessions are just art. The Sessions will soon return, and with them, a missed sense of intimacy for which this city is in dire need. It’s no secret that Dallas has had a rough few months, in big news and small. It’s a city in need of naked compassion - of camaraderie so vulnerable and unadorned that everyone can join in. And that was always the idea inherent within the Cinderblock Sessions, no matter what came to stand in the way. “The plan is transparency,” Malita said. “Because a small, intimate music show that’s very innocent shouldn’t have to happen in the dark.”

“It was a desperate hope that began this fight, and it was the same energy that kept it alive right up until the very last minutes of the telethon. Though the fight was arduous, taxing, and bureaucratic - The team triumphantly ended the day around 10 p.m., their goal conquered, and the sessions resurrected.�

Austere QUEST // 98

your am heat wakes me up like a lucid dream gone too long I debate escape, or to wait either results the same, sculpts a game that doesn’t end, only begins in misdirected desire and burns away in prematurely woken ire,

A .M.




but now your fire is out, burning down with another pet name, replaced, and as I hurry to awake before I’m late, phone must’ve died cause I didn’t hear a sound, I’m thinking of how some things, people, you miss, but not when you force yourself to burn yourself by getting in close enough to the flame to remember that maybe, it wasn’t so glittering, that being alone is more so gold, because here I am broken in all the best places, and remembering that there are other ways to wake up besides an alarm.

Austere QUEST // 100




Daniela Andrade is the perfect example that you can start your career on Youtube playing covers and transition into the artist you’ve always wanted to be. Her recent EP, Shores, which is a visual EP, shares her path and journey.

We’ve heard your new EP, (LOVE it btw) how has your EP helped you grow? Thank you, glad you’re enjoying it! This EP involved me having to get out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and lead a pretty recluse life. I only moved from home a year and a half ago. It’s been 17 months of figuring myself out in my craft. This EP, which was recorded last summer, is a big step towards a direction I’m feeling fulfilled in. There are brand new questions and ideas in my head about where I want my full-length album to go sonically. All of this traction I’m feeling began with this EP. Tell us more about the deeper messaging behind each of the 4 songs. Digital Age is about the overwhelming sense of hope a new relationship brings, the possibilities seem endless and we love to dream about all the potential. However, human nature being as it is within us, makes room for error and dead ends. No matter how much love there is things can still become tarnished. I wrote it shortly after reading an article about being able to bury our loved ones on the moon. I felt torn and amazed all at once. Sound was a song I wrote after getting out of a Toro y Moi concert in Toronto. I remember arriving at the show wondering if I’d stick around till the end; I hadn’t slept properly in what felt like weeks. I ended up feeling all sorts of great emotions during the show. I closed my eyes and let the bright colours hit my eyelids, it felt like rest better than any recent attempt at sleep. Sometimes when life is a bit off and you can’t put your finger on it, it feels worse than having a name for your discomfort. I wanted to remind myself that music is my safe place, where I can steady myself. I’m glad I went to that concert. Come Around is the oldest of the four tracks. I actually wrote it while I was in a good phase of a relationship, thinking about how badly a previous one ended. Go figure. I was definitely digging on the analogy of feeling dim. I think I was slowly learning the hard lesson of placing trust in bad hands. I wanted to walk away from the bad and make my way towards the good. It was an important time, I think i was 19. Shore is the most recent song I wrote for the EP, I pieced it together shortly before the recording began last summer in Montreal. Its pretty straightforward lyrically

and the meaning came from a genuine place. Its funny how we experience love as kids, to teenagers, to adults. It became so much more complex for me as I aged. I feel like I used to see love as a dew drop. Adulthood made me realize it’s this huge, incomprehensible, beautiful expanse. Like an ocean. I stuck with that analogy. The lyrics came so easily when I thought about it against that imagery. How would you compare this string of songs compared to past releases? There was definitely a lot more thought put into every part. From the search for the right music producer, to the film director, to the completion and making of the visual EP. There was a lot of build up before this release and that was a very new way for me to treat my content. At first it was hard to keep it all hush-hush from my audience, whom I’ve been very open with but it also taught me that letting things simmer and soak is a nice way to learn about myself and my music. At what point in your life did you realize creating/playing music was your purpose? When I wrote my first song, I think I was about 14. As a kid, I’d always loved books and writing short stories or journal entries. Turning words into a song felt like this fuse of what I’d enjoyed through my childhood. I felt so complete afterwards, it felt like I’d found something to belong to. Can you recall a time in your life when you lost sight of your path? What did you do to reconnect to yourself? I’m always battling with keeping my mind focused on what I want to accomplish, which at the end of the day is simply to create. I feel like I’m constantly having an existential crisis because I put a lot of pressure on myself, what creative doesn’t? When I get out of these heavy bouts of doubt I realize that pressure--while healthy in doses-- is mostly unnecessary and crippling. The best trick for me to reconnect with the essence of why I do what I do is to remember where it came from. For me it was the quiet confines of my room. Apart from its wonky weather, Edmonton allowed me a lot of space to listen to myself and follow my intuition. It seemed there wasn’t much else I wanted to do in the city. When I lose sight, I know it’s because I’m not listening to myself. My love for my craft is hard wired into me. Sometimes I just let a lot of thought-clutter get in the way. When I’m able to discern this I take to my journal and start to try to find ways to remind myself with words.

Austere QUEST // 102

What is your mantra to life? “question and seek” What are things, people, books, or quotes you refer back to when you need a boost? Coffee, a good chat with my best friend, Haruki Murakami books and the quote “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

What is your creative process? The middle and end of it is constantly evolving. The beginning I can say for certain comes from experiencing life, reading and observing other humans. While experiencing life may sound a bit obvious there’s something special about conscious experiences, like that concert I went to for example. Being open to possibilities and changing up routine is where I find the most growth.

What’s to come? Shows/tours/releases, etc I’m going on my first tour come fall. We are planning to go to Asia and the United States. I’m thrilled to hit the road, get more live show experience and meet the amazing people that support my music. I’m also working on new music, which is always exciting.


Austere QUEST // 104

BE BITTER, PITY always rolling, never bored, simply floored, no breaking of boards will leave me moored, because

when it happened, i knew they’d feel pity for me, but pity is a corpse, bloated, bleeding, nothing achieving save in its leaving departure by decay.


I wasn’t woven into such things, I wasn’t going to be reduced,



it was in the music and the faces and simply in this budding visage of playing powerful music or writing words


it was the light of the hope that if I kept going I could do it all, and all that I wanted to be was just on the other side of a membrane, that I have yet to figure out how to breach but I could feel it beating and breathing and know it there just on the other side,

but I have seen a light like god and it wasn’t in you or in love or in the sky,

not when we’re all made of rain, cascades of feeling, shifting beings that find form in promethean dealing; appearance changing, we fall only forward,

A 105

there are a million faces and one, in me; I am just a thousand leaved breaking, Just a scattering of unbound pages that will be picked up and dropped again as the snake eats its tail and we go around once more,

that moved you, reader, watcher -


and I knew that pity was a corpse, but breakage my defibrillator, and I may not perfectly heal but I could get up and breathe again

Austere QUEST // 106

107 PHOTOGRAPHER Isabella Stahl

Austere QUEST // 108

e v e r g r e e n c r o w n Reel in the wayward leaves and weave myself a crown, oh darling, make them evergreen. watch the sunbeams seep between the branches, lay my imperfections out on the dirt and make them seen. let them wither under the new light, let them brown.


they have no power over me in my evergreen crown.


A poem by Camille Mirabella

Austere QUEST // 110







Sat Nam means: the breath of life is truth and this truth is my infinite identity.

Austere QUEST // 112





Natasha brito editor-in-chief garrett smith senior editor ALCYNNA LLOYD STAFF WRITER tabitha redder intern writer



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