OUR YEAR-END DOUBLE ISSUE
DECEMBER 2013 / JANUARY 2014 Issue • 311
JESSICA CHEN AN OVERCOMER WHO WAS MEANT TO DANCE
THE SHOW YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE TO BELIEVE
jane. ALL ABOUT
JAZZ SUPERSTAR JANE MONHEIT TALKS ABOUT A FEW OF HER FAVORITE THINGS. BLEEP 1
Photography by Matthew Holler
n i p e ble inside
ON THE COVER Jane Monheit has been singing since she was born but it was when her elementary school teacher pushed her into the spotlight that she got her first taste of what would become her life. Now, the Long Island native is singing on stages all over the world with some of the biggest names in jazz and Broadway. 2 BLEEP
Photography by Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster
She’s an artist. She’s an overcomer. She’s an inspiration. Jessica Chen is meant to dance.
All year long we’ve been bringing you parts of “Hollow Ferns” by Ben Humeniuk. Now, in a BLEEP first, we have the entire graphic short story from beginning to ending. With the release of their second full-length album, Our Nature, Savior Adore is touring the globe spreading their infectious sound, all the while staying true to themselves.
Letter from the Editor It’s hard to believe this is our last issue of our third year of publication. I’m so unbelievably thankful for the folks who have stood with us from the beginning and I’m equally thankful for all the folks who have joined us along the way. It’s an honor to bring artists’ stories to life and give people a forum in which to be creative. It’s been a big year. I turned 30. We’ve had our largest audiences ever for BLEEP and I released my first book. “I Laughed Too Hard” was a four year labor of love and I am so proud of it. It’s probably not perfect, but neither am I. Here’s an excerpt: “As I was lying in bed last night, I thanked God for a great many things in my life, and while I don’t feel I need to tell the world about everything God and I talk about, the frequency of our spiritual coffee-talks or the duration of said chats, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed sometimes for the things I have the ability to be thankful for. For instance, I’m thankful I wake up everyday in the city I love. I don’t have to question why I’m here, I don’t have to wish I lived somewhere else. I’m exactly where I’ve wanted to be for so many years. I’m thankful that no matter what’s going on, how we disagree or how busy we are, I have my people. Time and distance put a heavy weight on a friendship, and the longer that strain is there, the more you realize how strongly bonded you are or how loosely fastened you were. Turns out, we’re a pretty strong bunch. I’m thankful for the people in my life who speak fluent Muppet, for songs I can listen to on repeat for an entire afternoon and for new people entering my life and becoming important. But really, I thank God for the fact that He has me in a place where I’m truly happy. All of the above mentioned things stew together to create where I am and it’s the right place. No, I don’t have enough money. Sure, there are things that aren’t as perfect as they could be. But being truly happy trumps any of those things.” Thank you for sticking with us and enjoying our magazine. If you’re interested in reading the rest of my book, click on the picture and you can get it on Amazon or for your Kindle. It’s the truth of my life and my personal artistic expression. Look ma, I’m an artist too!
Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief 4 BLEEP
2013 IN REVIEW
Weâ€™ve got the perfect way for you to spruce up your holiday parties and New Years Eve celebrations. They are tasty takes on some of your favorite winter flavors. Born in Washington, Breann Johnson has lived in Korea, Hawaii, and Utah, before getting married and moving to San Diego. After two years in San Diego, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles so she could pursue her lifelong dream of being an actress in films.
Itâ€™s been our biggest year ever at BLEEP and we are celebrating with recaps, artists we love, the gifts that are on our Must Have List and THE YEAR OF of course, our lists of our favorites in film, television, musi, technology and more. Celebrate the art and artists who have graced our pages and made 2013 a year to remember.
BLEEP has your all-access pass to La Soiree, the highflying, mind-bending, laughinducing, circus spectacular currently playing the Union Square theater in New York. Photo by Max Gordon.
BLEEP CREATIVITY. UNCENSORED. RYAN BRINSON Editor-in-Chief RACHAEL MARIBOHO Culture Editor SARAH ROTKER Business & Audience Development Manager KADI MCDONALD Content Manager PABLO SALINAS Social Media Associate BEN HUMENIUK Cartoonist MATTHEW HOLLER Cover Photography FEATURE EDITORS: Juan Lerma WRITERS: Caleb Bollenbacher Courtney Shotwell Lisa Sorenson Laura Seitter Alex Wright FEATURE CONTRIBUTORS: Katherine Morgan Nathan Robins WEB CONTENT: Sheena Wagaman Renee Rodriguez Eric Lehman Jordan Shalhoub
All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.
P E E L bliPs B Photo by Prudence Upton
DON’T MISS IT
CAST MEMBER YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF: Sometimes in the show, there’s so much going on, you don’t know which sexy cast member to look at, and we mean that in a good way. But we found our attention was most captured by Jakob Karr. WHY: The “So You Think You Can Dance” alum shines wherever he is on the stage. He’s strong, he’s confident and he’s a world class talent.
SHOW NOT TO BE MISSED: NUTCRACKER ROUGE Are you ready for some sexy holiday fun? The New York premiere of Nutcracker Rouge is a sparkling reimagination of the beloved Nutcracker tale but with an erotic, sensual and opulent flare. Conceived, directed and choreographed by the neo-Baroque group Company XIV’s artistic director Austin McCormick and with a script adapted and written by Jeff Takacs is a baroque-burlesque confection of theatre, dance, opera, circus and sumptuous design. “I’m always drawing inspiration from classical text or story of some kind. The baroque aesthetic is just a part of my sensibility,” McCormick said in our August 2012 issue. “The mission of the company is really to unite all of 8 BLEEP
these mediums together. The design, the costumes, the lighting, the projection, the choreography and the music – everything has equal importance in my mind.” Company XIV’s work is a unique mash up of classical texts, Baroque choreography, eclectic music, pop culture, opera, burlesque, ballet, gender bending, high fashion, theatrical staging and sumptuous design. If you’re looking for something a little different this holiday season, Nutcracker Rouge runs off-Broadway through January 5 in a limited six-week engagement at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane) in NYC. www.companyxiv.com
EDITOR’S PICKS FOR SINGLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED BUT SHOULDN’T HAVE IN 2013 LOVING YOU by MATT CARDLE & MELANIE C We’ve said it before but “Loving You” by Matt Cardle and Melanie C is a spectacular pop song. Both are vocally impressive on their own but when they come together, they ignite something truly wonderful for the radio.
SHE by LAURA MVULA
Photo by Prudence Upton
The sound that Laura Mvula is creating is unlike anything else in music today. Her harmonies are so intricate and modern yet there is a timeless quality to the melodies. I discovered her on Spotify and am thankful I did. Her album is beautiful and though “She” may have released in 2012, it is something special. Check out our August 2012 feature on Austin McCormick and the rest of the Company XIV cast.
Photo by: Corey Tatarczuk
Marisol Cabrera said, “I came from a place of technique and your own artistry. In Austin’s work, he encourages us to really embody a character and try to connect to someone that you’re portraying. That, for me, was challenging because that’s not how I have been trained.” For dancer Laura Careless, taking on the characters in the shows has stretched her more than just as an artist, but as a person as well. “The work has made me a more compassionate person, able to understand people more,” Careless said. “Austin always come from the point of view that as human beings, we have the potential to be any shade of light or shadow that we choose to be. Having explored so many characters in such a physical way, I think we start to embody that principle. I think I would be a very different person if I didn’t have this opportunity.” For Marisol Cabrera, being a part of the productions has brought her a sense of belonging. “Growing up, I was always an individual performer 40 BLEEP
and I feel like I’m living the dream. Being a part of Company XIV, I’m on a team,” Marisol Cabrera said. “I feel like we are one big family and I’ve always wanted to be a performer that belongs to an ensemble. Being here allows me to feel that.” “The whole experience of working with these people everyday has been the most beautiful experience,” Sean Gannon said. “As a performer I feel completely different than I did a year ago. There’s always a new talent and a new thrill. I just love being in this world so much. I feel like that comes across in my performance every night.” One thing the company members and McCormick will all say is that the art emerging from Company XIV is both unique and relevant to today’s audiences. “I think what we have to offer is our ability to reimagine these classic sources for a younger audience,” McCormick said. “I think someone that’s never seen opera, baroque dance or ballet can come to our show and find it accessible and interesting.”
BOMBS AWAY by JONATHAN THULIN & RACHAEL LAMPA This song released in January and not only showcases Jonathan Thulin (an artist you should be watching) but also features one of the best vocalists around, Rachael Lampa. The song is intense, the sound is full and the vocals are soaring and passionate. It’s my favorite single released this year. Period. BLEEP 9
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the intersection by
Roommates vs. Reality
It’s getting to be that time of year again – the time of year when studios are rushing to make last impressions with the critics in time for Academy Awards deadlines. By my conservative estimates, there are still around twenty-five sure-to-be-fantastic movies that have looming release dates – and just four weeks until New Year’s! When am I supposed to get my fix? And yet, in spite of all this, I’ve found myself looking beyond the Hollywood holiday jackpot to something a bit farther in the future: Days of Future Past, to be more specific. That’s right, there’s another X-Men movie on the horizon, and I could not be more excited about it. I grew up watching cartoons, as I’m sure many of you did, but as a kid I was never allowed to watch X-Men. I don’t even remember why, I just wasn’t. By the time I stumbled upon a copy of the first X-Men movie, however, I was old enough to convince my parents to give me the green light. I was hooked almost instantly. I never had any previous interest in comic books, but after that first movie I needed to get my hands on as many of them as I could. And reading comics led to wanting to write them. My first lengthy writing project was drafting scripts for a graphic novel. Prior to that a couple of pages seemed like a massive undertaking, but that first endeavor opened up a world of long-form storytelling that offers me no escape, and yet all my escape. It’s a long and ongoing journey that has roots in all sorts of soil, but there is definitely an aspect of that domino effect that started with the way that first X-Men movie grabbed me. So what is it about the X-Men that got its claws into me? “Mutants…freaks…outcasts…the X-Men are sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them.” This, with some slight variations along the way, has been the opening tag of most X-Men comics since their introduction in the early 60’s. Out of all the delightful escapist fare of most superhero comics, the X-Men are the one group that really has an essence of conflict. In their original incarnation, the X-Men comics were an allegory speaking out against racism, something that was made clearer when the comic was resurrected with a diverse cast featuring mutants from across the 12 BLEEP
globe. The allegory has expanded its focus over the years, but the core has remained the same throughout. The X-Men have always been outcasts, and that sets them apart from their colleagues. Peter Parker has to deal with people hating Spider-Man, but at the end of the day he can take off his mask. Batman has no parents, but his billions promote some degree of inaccessibility between him and the audience. But the X-Men cannot change who they are. No matter what they wear or what they do, they are outcasts in their very being, and regardless of where we stand in society, that provides an access point. This is why the X-Men have been inescapable for me: because they are fringe, they are “other”, and in spite of all that they are heroes. They are “sworn to protect” in spite of hate and fear, and though adversity never rests, they turn their faces into the storm that life offers, buckle down, and shoulder their responsibility. The intersection between this allegory and life is so complete that it hardly seems a fiction, in spite of the overwhelmingly fantastic tableau. This is where I relate. This is where everyone relates. It might not be so bold-faced for me since I don’t fall into one of those demographics that has been inherently discriminated against. Compared to the mighty mutants and many of their avid readers I have it easy. But I’m a writer, and that is not an easy thing. It’s a lot of work; it forces me to the fringe when I would rather be anywhere but, and sometimes it hurts. And yet, it’s who I am. I can’t phase through walls or teleport, but I can write, and for me to do otherwise would fly in the face of who I am. That is the beauty of X-Men. They press on. They’re ultimately comfortable in their own skin, even though it might make their life pain. They are different, and that uncanny aspect to their nature is something to be celebrated. And in the end they usually come up with a win, even if it costs blood and sweat. That’s why I’m going to be at the theatre next summer, waiting in line to see Days of Future Past. That’s why I’m going to keep devouring comics in the meantime. That’s why I’m one of the X-Men.
by Alex Wright
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…
recently closed an audience interactive show in Los Angeles called Delusion. Created by Jon Braver and produced by Neil Patrick Harris, Delusion is a horror based play that requires audience members to participate, and search for clues in order for the show and plot to move forward. This was the third year of Delusion, and this installment found the audience members—usually groups of ten to twelve people—running up and down stairs in an old church in Silverlake. Audience members were dodging under beds, ducking into closets, and dashing down hallways in a daring escape from the Plaque Doctors. Several moments in the play require one or two audience members to be separated from the group in order to complete a certain task. One example of this is a scene where two people are taken into the main sanctuary of the church and are demanded to confess their most shocking sins to the corrupt Bishop. At this point in the play, the only people present in the church are the two audience members, the Bishop, three minions, and myself. Every now and then, the audience members would nervously laugh, look at each other uncomfortably, and then shyly whisper that they once stole a candy bar when they were ten. Wild people, I tell you. However, more often than not, people were ready to confess some really shocking sins, especially when they didn’t have a preexisting relationship with the other audience member. Adultery. Stealing. Drug abuse. Hit and runs. Child abuse. Animal cruelty. We heard it all. I wondered how many of these audience members had shared these sins with their spouses—clearly the ones who were currently committing adultery hadn’t—and yet, they were willing to share these things with complete strangers. It made me realize that these audience members weren’t looking for absolution—clearly, this Bishop could not cleanse their souls. They were looking for relief and
comfort. They were looking for communion. They were looking for intimacy. Good art is like watching a confession. It is a spiritual transaction between performer and audience. I honestly think that one of the most powerful things in this world is when two people drop their walls and are just present and honest with each other. Intimacy like that, unfortunately, is incredibly rare. So often we confuse sex or friendship or money with intimacy, but really being intimate with someone…that can often times cost us too much. No surprise, then, that the people who were the most open and honest were the ones who weren’t onstage with their loved one or friend. They had less to lose and more to gain. I believe that this is why art is so essential. Art is spiritual. Art is religious. Art is communicating with the creative being inside us all. God is a creative being: He is the great creator! Therefore, when we are creative, we are tapping into the most powerful and most spiritual side of ourselves. In return, we create something that communicates a truth, a life force, which is deeply held within us all. When an audience member sees it or watches it, that same truth resonates within themselves and a connection, a communion, transpires. I believe that a whole creative well resides within each of us. Each experience, each time we travel, each piece of art we consume, each heartache and heartbreak, is added to this inner world. Art is taking that creative realm and expressing it to the viewer. That’s what makes art spiritual, religious, universal, and most importantly, intimate. Being honest and intimate in our art and with our loved ones is risky and dangerous, but I think the alternative is even riskier. What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to confess? BLEEP 13
THE YEAR OF
P E E L B
THE YEAR OF
by Rachael Mariboho
It’s the end of the year and our chance to reflect on what entertained and inspired us in 2013. Our choices were simple and easy to land on. Our favorites in the pop culture zeitgeist filled us with awe and reminded us what entertainment can do. PIPPIN ON BROADWAY It’s been a few years since a show as thrilled us as much as Pippin did. The story, the music, the performers, the acrobatics - it all fused together to create the best theatrical experience on Broadway. It is wonderful when new shows make it to Broadway, but it is magical when a revival of show can make us feel like we are experiencing it for the first time. NON-NETWORK TELEVISION Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Veep, True Blood and even Duck Dynasty proved that quality and ratings are to be found on cable stations, while Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards proved you don’t need a TV at all to watch great shows. This really is the 21st century renaissance of the golden age of television. MILEY’S OUTFIT It’s not Miley that we are applauding, it’s her aftermath. It’s been a while since an artist became a running sight gag, and it happened just in time for Halloween (when her teddy-bear-face onesie sold out all over the States). Between the teddy and the rubber outfit, people of all ages couldn’t resist dressing up as the long-tongued one. She has made her presence felt to such an extent that she is discussed as much in social media for wearing an evening gown as she is for twerking. TINA FEY AND AMY POEHLER What’s not to like about two friends famous friends being rewarded – and not maligned – for taking pot shots at Hollywood? They create quality work, together and separately, and they don’t take themselves so seriously that they are “Anne Hathaway-ed” in the public eye. It doesn’t matter if they are hosting, presenting, or winning awards; these two remind us that enjoying your accomplishments and sharing this joy with your friends makes it even more enjoyable for your audience. BEYONCE SUPERBOWL HALFTIME SHOW She literally ran the world the night she rose to the Superbowl stage. She gave more than 100 million people 14 minutes of a perfect show, complete with a reunion of one of recent music’s biggest and best groups - Destiny’s Child. It was the kind of epic, awe-inspiring performance that is more memorable than any game. BLEEP 15
THE YEAR OF
MUST. HAVE. NOW.
We’ve come up with the Must Have items you need for the holidays. Culled from the pages of BLEEP, these items represent some of the best artists we’ve had on our pages. No matter what the need is, we’ve got you covered.
We featured Marek + Richard on the cover of our April issue and judging by the response, you’re as big of fans of the brand as we are. Their underwear is more than functional. It’s fun. Guys - you need these. www.marekrichard.com
Studmuffin has been keeping everyone from club-goers to celebrities decked out in their fun clothes. Miley’s worn them. Missy Elliot is a fan. And so are we. www.studmuffin-nyc.com
We love DIVA! Their album is a burst of glitter and fun. That’s it. Just get it. It will bring you joy. www.martythomaspresentsdiva.com
Tickets to Pippin on Broadway are the perfect gift for anyone coming to New York, anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet, anyone who likes theatre...basically for anyone. It’s our favorite show of the year and you need to experience it for yourself.
Urban FLRT is more than a brand. It’s a philosophy. Their name stands for “Freely Living Real & True” and we couldn’t be more supportive. Plus, the shirts are bright, colorful and interesting. What else could you need? www.urbanflrt.com
Luigi Sardo has been a favorite for BLEEPers for a long time. Their new takes on a classic look like The Reflector (pictured here) will kick up your look. Pun intended. www.luigisardo.com
We’ve been snacking on Schmackarys since before there was even a store to get them in. Now they are the toast of Broadway and taking over NYC. Order some for gifts (or just for yourself ) and you’ll know what all the fuss is about. www.schmackarys.com
THE YEAR OF
Fashion is always trying to do something new and we have had a truly great designers on our pages. Kyle Brincefield and his Studmuffin brand took over the pages of our May issue, bringing some S.S.S. (studded street style...duh) to BLEEP. [ CHECK OUT THE STUDS HERE ]
Did you know there’s an art to that cocktail you’re drinking? Well, there can be. Our Cocktail Connoisseur Nathan Robins shares with us what we should be drinking each season and how to elevate a vodka/soda into something worth remembering. [ DRINK IT ALL IN HERE ]
Who wouldn’t love this face? We chatted with John Vairo Jr., Mamma Biscuit’s person, about the fun of playing dress up with a pug, and the importance of rescue animals. [ READ MAMMA’S STORY ]
Another “So You Think You Can Dance” alum landed on the pages of our October issue when Thayne Jasperson, currently starring in Matilda on Broadway, talked about becoming a dancer and a Newsie.
Art can be sexy and no one knows that better than the audiences at Broadway Bares. After Jerry Mitchell, the show’s creator graced our cover in June, we got a first-hand look at the show and the sexy dancers who take it off in order to raise millions for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS.
[ SIEZE THAYNE’S STORY HERE]
[ TAKE A PEEK HERE ]
We caught up with Ariana DeBose, “So You Think You Can Dance” alum and star of Broadway’s Bring It On and Motown: The Musical. As she opened her first solo show in New York, we chatted with the powerhouse about life on stage and off. [ READ HER STORY HERE ]
THE YEAR OF
From Left: Diana Carl; Model, The Campbell Agency Rachel Andring; Hair Stylist Jerrad Trahan; Makeup Artist, La Bella Mafia Agency Steven Chan; Photography Assistant Brandon Lyon; Photographer Brent Hughes; Photography Assistant Roxanna Redfoot; Model, The Campbell Agency Juan Lerma; Fashion Stylist, The Dragonfly Agency Shawn Cude; Makeup Artist, La Bella Mafia Agency Adam Hughes; Photography Assistant
It started with brainstorming sessions at social gatherings amongst friends. Jerrad Trahan, Juan Lerma, Brandon Lyon, Shawn Cude, Brent Hughes, Steven Chan all shared ideas of interesting fashion photo shoots to execute. Outlandish ideas are thrown around what ensues is a massive collaborative effort. To create the perfect fashion editorial image takes a whole troupe of creative fashion professionals: a beauty team of hair stylists and makeup artists to sculpt the faces and perfect the already beautiful models; A fashion stylist whose sole job is to make sure every drape of a gown, every earring, and shoe is perfect; finally, the photographer who captures the image with the help of his team that lights the scene perfectly to set the mood of the photograph. 20 BLEEP
On Diana: Mira Hashem Navy Silk Gown with Asymmetrical Bodice. On Roxanna: Tony Bowls White Beaded Evening Gown, at Terry Costa.
This page: Right top: Michael Fjorbak in the November BLEEP. Right center: The Haus of 33 in the September BLEEP. Right bottom: Spring Break Ken in the April BLEEP. Right: Alexander DiJulio in the March BLEEP. [CLICK ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS TO SEE THE FULL FEATURE IN BLEEP]
THE BLEEP TEAM MUSIC 2013 PICKS THEIR THE CIVIL WARS Their band name became a THE YEAR OF for the troubled group, FAVORITE ART & metaphor but their sophomore album is BLEEP ARTISTS OF 2013 flawless from the first guitar chord to the last lyric.
BY RYAN BRINSON
BY RACHAEL MARIBOHO
“OPRAH PRESENTS MASTERCLASS” & “OUR AMERICA WITH LISA LING” Masterclass allows prominent figures to share the lessons they’ve learned over the course of their storied careers, and “Our America” showcases subcultures in America that go unnoticed. Both shows aim to enlighten and inspire a different way of thinking and both are masterfully produced. This is the kind of moving television experience only Oprah could provide. “THE GOOD WIFE” Since its debut, it has been one of the most exciting and wellcrafted dramas on television. But, the first half of this season has perhaps been its best so far. The cast, the writing, and the direction the show is headed in are all on point, and few shows have enabled their leads to grow in such dynamic, interesting ways. “SCANDAL” It’s the buzziest show since “Revenge” but unlike “Revenge,” this drama only gets better with each season. It’s the show you have to watch when it airs, before social media spoils the twists. And while Kerry Washington is its brilliant center, it has also provided a great showcase for one of our most underrated talents, Tony Goldwyn. “THE CRAZY ONES” Robin Williams’ foray back into television hit the right note, with a cast that’s able to go toe-to-toe with the comedy legend, and the wittiest writing since “30 Rock.” It’s quick, smart, and hilarious. And the rapport between Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar is pitch perfect. “BLACKLIST” The premise is a play on the Hannibal Lecter/Clarice Starling relationship, only more entertaining than terrifying. James Spader is at his best playing a career criminal who, for reasons not yet revealed, has decided to help the C.I.A. catch the world’s most dangerous criminals. The intensity and story lines of this intense drama are on par with the most seasoned drama’s currently on T.V..
KATY PERRY She’s become pop’s most reliable artist and her “Prism” album is no exception. The first seven songs are all hit-worthy and she delivered solid performances from awards shows to SNL. TEGAN AND SARA “Heartthrob” is, perhaps, the most well-crafted pop album of the year. The songs are catchy, interesting and sound different than the cookie-cutter dance songs on the radio. JESSIE J “Alive” was never released in the States, only in the UK, but it’s a superb pop album which puts lyrics and Jessie’s vocals in the forefront, rather than over-wrought production. AVICII With the radio consumed with dance music, it His album, “True” is a truly fun record. Yes, full of dance music, but with a spin on it that made it different and feel fresh. Disappointment Lady Gaga had the pop world wrapped around her fingers but with the prolonged process of releasing “Artpop,” the half-baked performances and uninteresting singles, she lost me. In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR - Lily Allen. She’s smart, making interesting music, writes about subjects that other writers aren’t writing about and this will be her first album in almost 6 years.
BY CALEB BOLLENBACHER
iOS7 I’ve started referring to anything especially sleek as “so iOS7 (it’ll catch on). BUZZFEED It’s been around for a while, but 2013 is the year we realized we couldn’t live without it. RECORDS My leaning towards old school tech makes me look like a prophet here, as vinyl sales are higher than they’ve been in over a decade. DIGITAL COMICS With Marvel leading the way (per usual) digital copies of hard copy comics are starting to become the norm.
Disappointment: “S.H.I.E.L.D.” really should have been a great show. The Marvel films are great, so why wouldn’t a show about that universe also be good? But without a central villain, each episode feels like it’s flailing.
VINE It started out feeling like a desperation move by Twitter…until the experts took over and turned it into an art form.
In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR - “The Kennedy Center Honors”. More so than any awards ceremony, this show is creative people honoring creative people from many art forms. Is there any wonder why we love it so much?
In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR - iPhone 6. Just take my money and sell me a brick if you want.
Disappointment: The ‘gram jumped on the mini-movie fad, and it only took me the duration of a Vine to forget this feature existed.
BY SARAH ROTKER
PRETTY YENDE Filling in for an ailing Nino Machaidze, 27 year old (!!) Pretty Yende stole hearts in her Metropolitan Opera debut as Countess Adele in Le Comte Ory. With a sparkling voice and glittering presence to match, Yende is a delightful new addition to the Met roster. DIANA DAMRAU Most singers will try out a new role at a festival, or smaller regional house. Bavarian superstar Damrau bucked that trend with a triumphant – and chutzpedik - role debut as Violetta in the Met’s revival of La Traviata, practically setting the stage aflame with one of the most passionately played final acts I’ve seen. “FOREVER” Speaking of Ms. Damrau, her latest album, “Forever”, must be included here. With a mix of operetta, showtunes, and movie music, Damrau showcases her unbelievable range – particularly with a heartbreakingly stunning “Over the Rainbow”. ANITA HARTIG The Wiener Staatsoper’s production of Carmen featured a terrific performance by young Romanian soprano Hartig. Singing the role of Michaela with a shy sweetness in her
BY MATT TOLBERT
BIG FISH - BROADWAY This story is best told on stage, and it was pure magic. DANI GIRL AT LOFT227 With a stellar cast and imaginative direction, Exit Pursued by a Bear is reinventing theatre as a social event.
beautiful, clear voice, Hartig was by far the standout performer of the evening. PIOTR BECZALA He gave a stunning, revelatory performance as Lenski in Eugene Onegin. Reviewers have been tripping over themselves to find a sufficiently positive adjective to describe his work in the Tchaikovsky piece, but I sense one does not yet exist. Disappointment: Theatre director Michael Mayer staged an abrasive, conceptually half-baked, “Rat Pack-ed”, neon Rigoletto. While it was easy enough to see where Mayer intended to go, his misguided production never actually reached its destination. In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR - Ah, what’s next? It’s impossible to pick just one highlight! Keep an eye out for Pretty Yende’s return to the Met in two roles next season, Anna Netrebko bringing her captivating “Norina” back to New York, and absolutely anything Mariusz Kwiecien does, bless him.
BY LAURA SEITTER
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH It was exciting to watch him skyrocket into superstardom with films like Star Trek: Into Darkness, 12 Years as a Slave, The Hobbit trilogy and the TV wonder Sherlock Holmes. THE GREAT GATSBY After months of anticipation, this film was a lush, dizzying spectacle that left its mark on everything cultural, including design, fashion, and music.
ANN - BROADWAY This well-crafted show from Lincoln Center Theater made this native Texan tearfully nostalgic.
3D RE-RELEASES Jurassic Park, Top Gun, and The Wizard of Oz are always worth seeing again, and definitely worth seeing again on the big screen.
THE TESTAMENT OF MARY - BROADWAY There’s something about one-woman shows that’s damn impressive, and Fiona Shaw was a real treat.
MONSTER’S UNIVERSITY Though it had been more than a decade since the original Disney-Pixar animation, it was fun to bring a new generation to see the wacky world of Monstropolis.
ROMEO AND JULIET - BROADWAY Believe it or not, Orlando Bloom delivered and is as professional as they come.
VENTURING TO OUTER SPACE Hollywood took us beyond the stars to the final frontier, and masterpieces like Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, were not to be missed.
Disappointment: Hands on a Hardbody on Broadway. Everyone did their best work, but this story just doesn’t work on stage.
Disappointment: The Passing of Roger Ebert. This beloved journalist and film critic was able to write reviews that perfectly captured the emotional resonance of a film. He loved movies – just like us.
In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR - Fly By Night at Playwrights Horizons. Folks in Dallas says Dallas Theater Center’s 2013 production was the best show they’ve ever seen.
In 2014 WE CAN’T WAIT FOR – Our favorite books to become movies with adaptations like Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars, The Giver, the continuation of trilogies like the Hobbit and The Hunger Games, and – of course – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
by Laura Seitter
Unconfined to the Page It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good book in possession of an intensely loyal fan base must be in want of a box-office-busting film adaptation. Though Hollywood has always gathered inspiration from the pages of our favorite novels, this sensation of book-to-film has, it seems, become more prevalent in recent years. As the masses have flocked from bookstores to theatres and back to see their favorite works of literature brought to life through film, it is fascinating to see how these dichotomous mediums often challenge each other to produce the most dynamic characters and cherished stories. In one illustration, literature has frequently challenged filmmakers to develop advanced cinematographic technology and animation techniques in order to successfully translate from book to film, especially in the realm of Sci-Fi and the supernatural. Fans of the military sci-fi book “Ender’s Game” waited nearly 30 years for filmmakers to be able to effectively recreate the complex imagery of an anti-gravity battle room. Peter Jackson and company famously developed new motion-capture technology for Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Nowadays, books deemed “un-filmable” are a doubledog dare to ambitious filmmakers, and odds are the results will be pretty visually stunning. The prevalence for book-to-screen adaptations has perhaps had the biggest impact on the Young Adult genre, in both literature and film. There seems to be a new powerhouse franchise every year, as YA lit series like “The Mortal Instruments,” “Divergent,” and the “Percy Jackson” series are reimagined for film. In just the past few weeks, the second installment of The Hunger Games series, “Catching Fire,” has swept theatres all over the world, elevated from typical teenybopper fodder to a collectively renowned saga. As each new epic enters the scene though, a classic chicken-or-egg conundrum arises; is the film industry simply capitalizing on the success of many YA lit series, or has the YA lit genre been ignited by the imminent 24 BLEEP
possibility of an epic movie adaptation? The process of translating from page to screen can be an arduous one, as there are some stories that just seem to exist better in one or the other. At the 2013 Cannes film festival, James Franco attempted to recreate Faulkner’s classic novel “As I Lay Dying.” It is little wonder, with 15 different narrators, that the film failed to translate, and Franco’s film merely got a quick direct-to-DVD release. The timeless swashbuckler “The Princess Bride,” on the other hand, is always a fan-favorite movie, but the original novel, written by William Goldman in 1973, is not nearly as popular. Ultimately, any literary narrative has the potential to be adapted into a screenplay. Which, at the very least, will allow BuzzFeed to keep publishing those 24-books-you-must-read lists for the foreseeable future. Following the release of any film adaptation, many will probably opine, “the book was better.” It certainly may be the case; imagination is limitless, and the imagery produced in our mind’s eye can easily outmatch that which we see on screen. However, that shouldn’t deter the production and artistry that goes into adapting a book to a film. A film can allow us to re-visit our favorite fantasies, and see how someone else imagined a beloved character. Reading a book can be a highly personal and solo experience. Sitting in a theatre with 200 other viewers allows us to share that emotion in a culturally significant way. 2013 saw a pretty wide collection of adaptations, from “The Great Gatsby” to “Admission,” and all the YA lit in between. 2014 and beyond promises a pretty exciting list too, ensuring something to look forward to for both bookworms and movie buffs, alike.
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The Cocktail Connoisseur Nathan Robins
inter has come around again: the season of laughter, holiday music, family and friends. In this installment I present three cocktails to help you laugh more, tolerate the holiday music, and ring in the New Year feeling like a million bucks. Even writing from Texas, where it still feels like it could be summer, I couldn’t help but get into a festive mood while making these drinks. I believe this is the first time I’ve worked with coffee as a base for a drink in this column, and that’s a shame. Coffee works surprisingly well with a variety of spirits. Building from the concept of an Irish coffee, one can make a Jamaican coffee or Highland coffee using rum or scotch respectively. It can even play well with citrus flavored spirits and more esoteric liqueurs like Benedictine. Though prepared initially as a hot beverage, the coffee drink included here is exceptionally good over ice, as are many other coffee-based cocktails. Given that one can find vodka flavored to taste like anything - from birthday cake to black pepper - I’m sure someone has made spearmint vodka. However, making infusions such as this one can be very easy, and is usually cheaper than buying another bottle. They can also be potent, and I’ve included one in a drink that may be too minty for some. If taken in big gulps some might find it akin to mouthwash - remember it’s a drink meant for moderation. This drink also incorporates habanero bitters, which should be used with caution as they can be quite spicy. My nod to toasting in the New Year is actually something of a throwback cocktail re-imagined. It gives a chance to add a little sparkle to an underused cocktail ingredient - just don’t serve it to your vegan friends. Happy holidays, and safe and happy drinking.
This drink can be considered something of a winter take on a mojito: lots of mint and just a hint of sweetness, plus a bit of a burn. I made spearmint vodka by soaking dried spearmint in unflavored vodka for half an hour. The blue in the drink comes from this – I added dyes to a variety of infusions I was trying. The color is of course optional, but it adds a bit of festivity to what would otherwise be a pale off-green infusion. For the habanero bitters, I used Hellfire Bitters by Bittermens™, which adds a subtle lingering burn to the mix. The Orgeat syrup derived from almonds, sugar and rosewater - adds a bit of mouth feel, but if only overly sweet syrup can be found this should be omitted. I recommend serving this as a sipping drink - think of it as a palate cleanser, or as a surprisingly intense shot. 1 oz. Spearmint Vodka ½ oz. Peppermint Schnapps ½ oz. Orgeat Syrup 1-2 drops Hellfire (Habanero) Bitters Combine all ingredients in a shaker of ice, shake vigorously and pour into a cordial or vodka glass.
Salted Caramel Irish Mocha In my last column I included a drink which paid homage to an autumnal favorite – the pumpkin spice latte. It seems I am destined yet again to take inspiration from the world’s favorite coffee chain and replicate another drink it popularized - the salted caramel mocha. Adding cream and whiskey to coffee is nothing new, and an Irish coffee is a great way to start or end the day. Here you can either add the two separately or take a shortcut and just use Irish cream, which combines cream, whiskey, and neutral spirits in a homogeneous mixture. Mixing caramel into coffee can be tricky, so I recommend making an easy caramel sauce: microwave caramel until it is has melted, and then mix in heavy cream and a dab of corn syrup to thin it further. When it cools, it should remain thin enough to mix into the drink and drizzle over the top of whipped cream. Recently a company began selling alcoholinfused whipped cream in several flavors. If you want to add an extra kick to this drink, that would certainly do it. If you really want to play up one of the key flavors, both Irish cream and coffee liqueur are available in caramel and mocha varities. I am partial to coarsely-ground Himalayan pink salt for applications like this, but if you’re looking to best replicate the inspiring drink, a mix of turbinado sugar and lightly smoked sea salt is called for. Speaking of the topping, be sure use powdered chocolate or a good hot chocolate mix – standard cocoa powder is much too bitter to use for dusting. 3 oz. Brewed Dark Roast Coffee 1.5 oz. Coffee Liquor ½ oz. Irish Cream ½ oz. Crème de Cacao ½ oz. Caramel Syrup Dash of Coarse Salt Powdered (Ground) Chocolate Whipped Cream 30 BLEEP
Combine coffee, coffee liquor, Irish cream, crème de cacao, caramel and salt, either stirring together or shaking vigorously with ice if preparing cold, and pour into an Irish Coffee Glass. Top with whipped cream, drizzle with caramel, dust with chocolate powder and sprinkle with salt.
Millionaire’s Toast This is a loose take on the classic cocktail the Millionaire. While many variants of that drink exist, at its heart are whiskey, orange liqueur (usually Grand Marnier), lemon juice and an egg white. In this rendition I’ve substituted Brandy for the whiskey, though a good Cognac could be used if you’re truly feeling like a millionaire. The Grand Marnier was replaced with Bauchant. This Cognac-based liqueur is made with sweet as well as bitter orange peels, and is similar to Cointreau. Inexpensive Curaçaos are typically sweeter, being made from sweet peels, while higher-end liqueurs like Grand Marnier are typically made from more bitter oils. Bauchant falls somewhere between these two, having a nice and mellow sweetness. The egg is optional, but had adds a distinct mouth feel to this, and many other classic cocktails. While it is making a comeback, a drink with egg in it may still be too strange for some drinkers. If it is undesired, or there are health concerns over using raw egg, it can be omitted, or replaced with pasteurized egg whites or another substitute. Though any sparkling wine can be used to finish this cocktail, I recommend using an Asti. This Italian sparkling wine from the eponymous city in the Piedmont region is balanced without being too sweet or too dry, complementing the other balanced ingredients of this cocktail. 1 ½ oz. Brandy 1 oz. Bauchant ½ oz. Lemon Juice ½ oz. Egg White (Optional) Dash of Cranberry Bitters Maraschino Cherry Asti (Or Similar Sparkling Wine) Combine Brandy, Bauchant, lemon juice, egg white, and bitters in a shaker of ice, shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Add cherry and top with Asti.
She’s an artist. She’s an overcomer. She’s an inspiration. Jessica Chen is meant to dance. WHEN DID YOU START DANCING? I started dancing when I was about 5. My parents enrolled me in Chinese school, which met every Saturday morning. It was a struggle for me, because I wanted to stay home and watch cartoons all day like most of the other children in my neighborhood. At Chinese school I learned about my culture and my heritage, but I also had an elective and I chose Chinese Folk Dance. Even at such a young age dance brought everything to life for me. My chosen elective not only made going to school on a Saturday morning worthwhile, but Chinese Folk Dance also brought a deeper understanding to my world and helped me to make better sense of my identity, my culture, and my heritage through traditional dance and movement.
taught me about dance as a form of artistic expression and I was expose to various forms of modern dance. I explored my voice as a choreographer with the mentorship of Tonia Shimin, when I was selected as a teen choreographer for the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance’s annual showcase On the Verge. My senior year, I was accepted into The Ailey School’s Professional Division in New York City. So days after receiving my diploma, I flew to NYC to continue my training at schools including The Ailey School, Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts (EMIA) and Broadway Dance Center (BDC).
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WANTED TO DANCE AS A PROFESSION AND NOT JUST A HOBBY? As my college graduation was approaching I was HOW DID YOU TRAIN AS A DANCER? repeatedly asked the dreaded question, “So what Growing up with Chinese Folk Dance, I learned how are you going to do when you graduate?” I studied to share stories through movement, costumes and and took the LSATs, thinking law school would be a music. We trained in ballet as well as various forms of logical next step. At the same time, I began to pay Chinese Folk Dance. attention to how I was spending my time when I was I went to college at University of California, Santa not studying. Barbara (UCSB). I received my degree in Global Studies, I realized that I had spent my entire college career but spent a lot of time in the Dance Department consistently taking a full load of courses in my major as studying with professors including Nancy Colahan, well as almost the same amount of units in the Dance Christopher Pilafian and Stephanie Nugent. They Department. Dance has followed me throughout 32 BLEEP
Pictured: Jessica Chen BLEEP 33 Photography by Paul Dimalanta
school and college and had served as a way for me to balance the challenges of life. So I went to my dance professors for guidance. They all told me I had the talent to make it and one of my professors gave me the advice to surround myself with a strong arts community. She said that when it gets hard, it is important to be able to find inspiration and support within that community. I had already gotten into The Ailey School’s Summer Intensive Program, so I decided that I would give dancing in New York City a try for a few months after graduation. I didn’t realize it then, but I had already made up my mind that this was going to be my life’s work. And even though I am constantly re-creating and re-defining what dance means to me, I know it is what I was truly meant to do. AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED
On this page: Sandy Shelton On next page: Yahui Lu 34 BLEEP by Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster Photography
YOUR OWN COMPANY? It all started with someone very special planting a seed… I met Earl Mosley, who was my Horton teacher, while I was training at The Ailey School. In the first day of classes, he singled me out and had me repeat the dance phrase across the floor all by myself. As intimidating as it was, I truly appreciated the attention he gave me. I received a full scholarship to his summer intensive program EMIA, where I created three new pieces in two summers. After the last performance, Mosley found me and told me I should be applying for festivals in NYC because I would get into them. Coming from someone I respected so much, I listened to Earl Mosley and created J CHEN PROJECT. J CHEN PROJECT is as much a dance company as it is a community of artists. I wanted to create a company of artists that encourage one another. The life of an
artist is not an easy life. I have worked extremely hard to get to the place I am in and I could not have done it without the support of my mentors, colleagues and friends. So I wanted to create a safe place to explore the power and beauty of expression, movement and art.
Before the accident, I was going a mile a minute. Everything was moving very fast and then it all got flipped upside down, literally. I was forced to stop. And when you stop or slow down you can have the space to see what is important in life. I got to reflect on all the decisions I have made in my life and in my career. YOU WERE IN AN ACCIDENT THAT CHANGED YOUR My recovery from the accident was and continues LIFE. EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY IT to be a journey, which I navigate through with my CHANGED YOU. community at my side. As an artistic director and In early August 2012, I was in a near fatal car accident. choreographer, my creative process is now even more I was the passenger in a Mini Cooper convertible with collaborative and is for sure an unknown journey. the top down. We swerved to miss an oncoming car. The Mini Cooper flipped three times and came to rest WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET BACK ON YOUR FEET? on its roof and I was trapped under the car. WHAT KEPT YOU GOING? I was helicoptered to the nearest hospital, where Of the many fractures all over my body, I severely I underwent eight hours of brain surgery and spent broke my right anklebone. My orthopedic surgeon thirteen days in a coma. When I woke, I had fractures went in and placed pins in my leg to repair the all over my body. I had to learn how to breathe, eat, damage. And because of the pins, I was told that I sit, stand and walk all over again. may never be able to dance again. I simply could not I had the chance to start all over again, from the come to terms with the news that the thing I most beginning. When you go through something so cherished was being taken away from me. horrific and you survive, you really start to understand And then within a month of the surgery to put the what is truly important in life. Those little nuances pins in, my body was literally pushing the pins back of life that use to bother you or the insecurities that out. So, I had to return to surgery to have the pins once held you back all go away. removed. My physical therapist said that she had
never WHERE seen WERE anything YOU BORN like that AND before. RAISED? In so many ways, I was my raised body was in atelling suburb mebetween that it wanted Dallastoand dance Fort again. Worth.And I listened to my body. I used dance and movement to heal myself. It was WHAT my way DO YOU of expressing, DO? processing and resolving everything. I am currently In physical trying therapy, to discover all of the mymovements passion and that purpose were asked in life. of In me the became mean time, choreographed I’m acting, modeling, pieces inlearning, my mind. discovering And I stilland keep having the pins a great as alife! reminder of how close I came to losing one of the things that I cherish WHATthe CAME most and FIRST, thoseACTING, pins continue MODELING, to keep me OR going. MUSIC? I have played instruments since I was a kid. Piano CAN first,YOU acoustic TELL guitar, US A BIT andMORE drums. ABOUT I became ‘NEVER interested WAS BROKEN’? in film acting the summer before my second year of I didn’t start creating ‘Never was Broken’ in the studio or in rehearsal. It all started from a dream, a vision in my head. I would imagine the dances in my head and write down my thoughts. The first workshop for ‘Never was Broken’ was in February 2013 at PMT House of Dance and in May 2013, Broadway Dance Center generously sponsored
Pictured: Lindsay Hall and Sandy Shelton 36 BLEEP Photography by Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster
a college work-in-progress at The University showing. of North It was Texas their andway decided of welcoming to sign with meanback agency. to NYC I signed and back for modeling to my artistic at the path. sameAnd timethe because fully realized my agency showsaw premiered potentialatinthe me Salvatore for modeling Capezio work. Theater Both have at Peridance been aninadventure. September 2013. HOW This MANY show INSTRUMENTS is inspired by CAN life,YOU miracles PLAY? and reflections… I can play piano, My lifeacoustic completely and changed electric guitar, after the bass accident, guitar, and only thebecause drums. my perspective shifted. The evening is titled, ‘Never was Broken’ because the idea DOof YOU ‘being HAVE broken’ ANYisPROFESSIONAL only one-way ofTRAINING looking at aIN situation ANY OForYOUR a person. TALENTS? OR DOES IT ALL JUST COME I madeNATURALLY? this shift after some pretty violent events, so I took do understand acting classes thatwhen it canI first be very started challenging. acting and SoI still withtake this them show, now I wanted to help to give perfect people my askill. glimpse There of the possibilities that can come from an ounce of compassion, gratitude and honestly. Reminding everyone and myself that we are never broken. There are many things in life that we cannot control, but we can make a constant choice to stay connected and see the bigger picture. Life is definitely not perfect or predictable. But then again, what is inspirational
about perfect or predictable? WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO TAKE THE STAGE IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE AND DANCE AGAIN? Thirteen months after waking up from a coma, I returned to the stage for the premiere of ‘Never was Broken.’ It is hard to describe in words the emotions that ran through me on that magical evening. One of the most memorable moments for me was about fifteen minutes into the show. I stepped on stage to perform my solo. It is a very personal piece that came from an intimate collaboration with my dear friend, Nicole Smith. As I was going through the motions, it felt like I was dancing in a studio all by myself. And then the lights faded to dark and I heard an overwhelming wave of cheers and applause coming from the audience. And in that moment, I realized I was now sharing my story with the world. The evening was created through collaborations with my dancers, some of my closest friends as well as my boyfriend who was in the accident with me. So it meant the world to all of us. And the audience was filled with special people that had taken the journey with me. From my physical therapist who taught me how to walk again to my father who kept me safe throughout my recovery. My rehearsal director, who led the company while I was recuperating, flew from Japan with her family. And friends from all over the country came out to support me.
THEMSELVES INJURED OR FACING AN EXTREME UPHILL CLIMB? There is no defined path, so you must create your own path. There is not one way and there are no guidebooks. Everyone heals at a different pace and there are different stages. The stories that seem miraculous and impossible are available to everyone. For example, I always thought that my career would start once I was awarded a significant grant or a major commission. I was waiting for someone to give me my “big” break, so that I could call myself a choreographer. But when I was in the hospital and I started to rebuild my life, I realized that I had already started my career. You have to take care of yourself and be compassionate towards yourself. We are typically much further along than what we think we are. No one can tell you how well you are doing, because you have to measure that yourself. It’s your own journey. You have to walk your own path, because it is only yours to walk.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? I am one of the lucky people in this world, because I have found the thing that I am meant to do. I get to be creative and expressive through my art. It is part of who I am and it is what makes me whole. I am sure that my definition of it will morph and change, but it will always be a part of my life and my existence. I found it at a very young age and then it was taken away from me and I had to rediscover it. As a dancer, choreographer and artistic director I feel as if I am in the right place, fulfilling my purpose in this life.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? The premiere of ‘Never was Broken’ was an important milestone for me. In many ways everything came full circle and it was an indication of how far I have come in my recovery process, emotionally, spiritually and of course physically. As far as my career is concerned, I am speaking and teaching around the country. I will be presenting at the Semester at Sea TEDx in January 2014 in the San Diego Harbor. I will also be touring with my company performing ‘Never was Broken’ and we are in conversation with a New York venue for a full run in Spring 2014. And I will continue to explore and uncover the deepest parts of myself. I am on a journey to discover those raw and honest places that hold my fear, anger, love, mystery and dreams. And with that sense of freedom, I will continue to create. And of course, I will keep dancing…
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR ARTISTS WHO FIND
We love creative people. BLEEP 39
“ ” Let’s talk about real things.
Let’s talk about truth.
Let’s talk about the theatre.
- Meow Meow
Photo by Max Gordon
OIREE BLEEP HAS YOUR ALL-ACCESS PASS TO LA SOIREE, THE HIGH-FLYING, MIND-BENDING, LAUGH-INDUCING, CIRCUS SPECTACULAR CURRENTLY PLAYING THE UNION SQUARE THEATER IN NEW YORK. INTERVIEWS BY RYAN BRINSON BLEEP 41
THE ENGLISH GENTS While performing on the street in Melbourne, Australia, The English Gents were offered a guest spot in the show by the creative director of La Soiree. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were auditioning and after they shortened their 45-minute show to 9 minutes, they were on track to being audience favorites all over the world.
WHERE DOES YOUR LOVE OF PERFORMING ORIGINATE? I had done gymnastics all my life and even competed in the World Championships. But I didn’t really like competing. It was just so stressful. Everything built up to one competition and I didn’t enjoy the competitive part of it but loved the culture of doing the tricks and learning new stuff. WHAT DRIVES YOU TO MAKE EACH SHOW COUNT? We are our own choreographers and our own directors. We are doing our own material so it’s really personal to us. It’s not like we are doing someone else’s script. When we’re on stage, we are looking for ways to polish and perfect it. APART FROM YOUR DUET, YOU HAVE A SOLO ACT IN THE SHOW AS WELL. The seed of the act was when I saw a pole-dancing video on YouTube for the Australian pole-dancing championships. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was acrobatic, it was balletic, it was sexy without being sleazy. I thought if a guy could do that and make it look masculine, that’d be pretty cool. I took pole-dancing lessons and then took the circus-equivalent of that, the Chinese pole. Then I used the concept of “Singing In The Rain” and spinning around the lamppost. If Gene Kelly’s version is the daytime family version, mine is the nighttime cabaret version.
Photo by Prudence Uptoncap
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE CIRCUS? I started doing acrobatics when I was 12. I did that for quite a few years but was never good enough to go pro so I went into circus instead. WHERE DID THE CONCEPT OF THE ENGLISH GENTS COME FROM? From desperation maybe. We were starving acrobats and couldn’t get work doing our serious act we had developed so we began street performing and that changed everything for us. WHAT SETS YOU GUYS APART FROM OTHER SIMILAR ACTS? We are a little more character-based and thematic. It’s a bit different. And we are constantly working on new skills. I suppose doing new skills is what keeps us passionate about it. WHAT’S IT LIKE PERFORMING IN NEW YORK? This city is crazy. It’s an amazing, fast place like no other city. The crowds are amazing here. They’re receptive, warm and know how to enjoy themselves.
“I HATE THEM. THEY’RE STUPID.” THAT’S WHAT JESS LOVE USED TO SAY ABOUT HULAHOOPS WHEN SHE WAS GROWING UP IN AUSTRALIA. NOW SHE’S FRONTAND-CENTER IN LA SOIREE, WOWING AUDIENCES WITH WHAT SHE CAN DO WITH A HOOP OR TWO (OR SEVEN OR EIGHT). WHERE DID YOUR LOVE FOR CIRCUS ORIGINATE? As a youngster, I did lots of outside extracurricular stuff. I was in musicals and plays, and I took gymnastics. I did a course in Melbourne in circus arts where I combined gymnastics, the circus and the acting/theatre studies I’d done. WHAT COMPELLED YOU TO PICK UP SO MANY HULA-HOOPS? I did artistic gymnastics and I never touched a hula-hoop as a kid. I started hooping at the circus school. I had a South American trainer, who was seventh generation circus family and he taught me to hoop from one up to four. He wouldn’t let me do any more than that and wanted me to stick to a strict program. We parted ways and I started being self-taught. I had split nine hoops and at one point, I held the world record for 115 hoops at one time. Once I felt freer, I knew what he meant by needing some structure, but I also know you need artistic leniency to push the boundaries.
Photo by Max Gordon
WHAT KEEPS IT INTERESTING? It’s in a different city every time and as a result, the audiences are incredibly varied. It’s a different vibe. They find different things funny and like different people better. Getting to travel the world and experience life through this show is amazing.
HAILING FROM SPAIN VIA THE UK, URSULA MARTINEZ’S PERFORMANCE IS MUCH MORE THAN A RISQUÉ DISAPPEARING ACT. HER COMEDY WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH UNTIL YOU HURT AND HER BRAND OF ‘HANKY PANKY’ WILL LEAVE YOUR JAW ON THE FLOOR.
HOW DID YOU BEGIN PERFORMING? I had a theatre degree and at the time, I wanted to be an actress. I was pretty unsuccessful at being an actress and was terrible at auditions. I spent a few years failing at that and around the age of 27, I was very frustrated. I knew I wanted to be on stage but couldn’t find enough opportunities to do that, so I decided to make my own opportunities. I devised a cabaret act and I found the club Ducky in London. There was a platform for me to do my stuff and as soon as I did that, everything fell into place. I realized my voice is stronger than my acting abilities. I’m doing my own stuff, doing my own material and am on stage on my own terms. HOW DID YOU CREATE YOUR CHARACTERS IN LA SOIREE? In a way, I never really see my work as having different personas. I have two very different acts in the show. In the Hanky-Panky routine, I’m a highstatus and formally dressed businesswoman who takes her clothes off, and the other act is a comedic flamenco song act. I don’t see either as characters, I see both as different sides of me. The flamenco act is actually autobiographical in that I’m half English, half Spanish and the act was born out of that duality.
Photo by Joseph Hammond Hagan
WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT ACTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD? It’s great for a social life. We’ve toured around the world together for almost ten years and we know each other and get on well. It’s a great backstage family while on tour in strange and new places.
SHE’S INSPIRED BY RISK AND HUMOR AND LOVES WHEN PEOPLE WANDER OFF SCRIPT. SHE ALSO LOVES JACK BENNY. MISS BEHAVE KNOWS HOW TO SHOCK YOU IN ONE MOMENT AND MAKE YOU LAUGH THE NEXT.
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO. I’m a live cartoon with a late-night attitude. I swallow things. I put things through my tongue. I blow things up on my head. If I get more specific, it sounds like a freak show, which it’s not. If I sound more vague...could it be more possible? WHERE DID THIS CHARACTER COME FROM? She’s me. She sort of emerged out of late-night clubs, fetish clubs, renegade cabarets, gay bars, drag bars and sort of morphed from my love of playing with the crowd. I have become kind of a cartoon that allows me to get away with anything with people. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PERFORMANCE FRESH? I do a lot of other things. I produce and host my own shows and I’m moving into different areas with that. Ultimately, the audience is brilliant every night and whenever I’m tired into a season, I see that the audience is alive and I mirror that.
Photo by Stephanie Wolff
STEPHEN “BATH BOY” WILLIAMS
THIS AUSTRALIAN-BOY PERFORMER BEGAN TRAINING IN THE CIRCUS AT THE AGE OF 17. HIS AERIAL STRAPS ACT FLIES INTO NEW YORK COURTESY OF HIS HIGH SCHOOL, WHICH OFFERED A PHYSICAL EDUCATION ELECTIVE COURSE THAT HAD A BIT OF CIRCUS IN IT.
WHY DID YOU START CIRCUS TRAINING? I’ve always been a very hyperactive person with a lot of energy. In the beginning, the training got rid of that energy and I could focus on schoolwork. Then I started to really enjoy it and it became a living. YOU JUST JOINED THE COMPANY. WHAT’S BEEN INTERESTING ABOUT BEING A PART OF A TEAM FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD? When you work with a load of performers from all different backgrounds, countries and styles of performance, you get to learn a lot from them. New ways to approach something is always interesting.
Photo by Max Gordon
WHAT KEEPS IT FROM BECOMING THE SAME THING EVERY NIGHT? Trying to get it perfectly right. I think it’s impossible but we try to do it. We always hear someone backstage saying that one bit was great but another bit needs work the next night. There’s always something that could be better.
THIS CANADIAN CLOWN BEGAN WORKING PROFESSIONALLY AS A CLOWN AT 15. NOW, SHE STEALS THE SHOW EVERY NIGHT AS GLORIA.
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR START? My first job was working for an entertainment company doing magic shows, making balloon animals and painting faces. Over time, I started getting less generic and more individual. When I first started, I was in a traditional clown outfit and over time, it became the character of Gloria. My first gig out, I didn’t even have a wig and a fantastic drag queen gave me a wig, which is where I got my blonde wig. WHAT MAKES LA SOIREE DIFFERENT THAN ANOTHER SHOW IN NEW YORK? We’re intimate. It’s a big show in terms of the places we’ve been able to play, yet we are still down-to-earth and small in our backstage life.
Photo by Prudence Upton
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? I’m really shit at accounting. I’ve always liked making people smile. When I was a youngster, I knew I liked making people smile. As soon as I learned clowning was a profession, I jumped on it and never looked back.
MEOW MEOW HAS BEEN IN-ANDOUT OF LA SOIREE AS A GUEST ARTIST FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS AND NOW THAT IT’S IN NEW YORK, SHE BRINGS HER BRASSY IN-YOUR-FACE CABARET TO THE UNION SQUARE THEATER AUDIENCES EVERY NIGHT. WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? I’m pretty old school actually. I’m obsessed with the theatre in a serious way. I’m obsessed with the death of the theatre actually. This show is great fun but I’m obsessed with the fleshiness of live theatre. I want to be on the audience, shaking them up, slapping them or whatever needs to be done. We are all in the same space together and that’s thrilling. Sadly, live theatre is the most boring thing in the world and we’re killing it. We’re killing theatre. WHAT KEEPS IT FROM BECOMING ‘JUST ANOTHER SHOW?’ My stuff is so audience interactive that it just can’t be the same night after night. There’s no fourth wall and you give the audience permission to engage. I’ve done shows on the West End that have a fourth wall but I really love when I get to be alive in the room. We are together during this time. If someone gets sick, or someone gets the giggles, or my dress rips, it’s all real. The theatre should be the most real place in the world.
Photo by Prudence Upton
WHAT’S IT LIKE PERFORMING IN NEW YORK CITY AGAIN? Lance Horne who is playing piano for me says there’s something about the crystal New York is built on that’s energetic. There’s a special energy in New York. The people who come here have already made some sort of break with conservatism in a way. You’re all in this sort of conspiracy together of possibility.
MARIO QUEEN OF THE CIRCUS ORIGINALLY FROM PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, THE MAN WHO BEGAN AS THE JUGGLER AT PARTIES AND CHILDREN’S MAGIC SHOWS BECAME THE CENTERPIECE OF ONE OF LA SOIREE’S SCENE STEALING FRONT MEN. WHERE DID MARIO COME FROM? When I lived in New York, I was married to a Brazilian woman and we had a show called Planet Banana. We had these two lover characters, a full band and with that indoor live music, she was able to do her trapeze work. To conceptualize the idea, we made the setting a bar and added a third character, Mario. It started out as just him doing some tricks to the baseline of “Another One Bites The Dust.” Then, I started doing the three-ball juggle and lip-syncing to the song. I knew it was either horrible and embarrassing, or it was really good. I did it at an open stage and people really responded to it. HOW DO YOU KEEP THE SHOW FRESH EACH NIGHT? A lot of this show is leaving the audience better than when you found them. It’s like being an actor in a show that runs and runs - you are trying to breathe spontaneity into something you’ve said a thousand times. Every day I hope I can do better than the night before.
Photo by Olivia Rutherford
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Music inspires me. My two kids inspire me. The joy in my three-year-old’s eyes makes me a better clown. Being in New York City inspires me. It’s where Mario was born and it’s really where I came of age as an artist.
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jane. JANE MONHEIT HAS BEEN SINGING SINCE SHE WAS BORN BUT IT WAS WHEN HER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER PUSHED HER INTO THE SPOTLIGHT THAT SHE GOT HER FIRST TASTE OF WHAT WOULD BECOME HER LIFE. NOW THE LONG ISLAND NATIVE IS SINGING ON STAGES ALL OVER THE WORLD WITH SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN JAZZ AND BROADWAY.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATTHEW HOLLER INTERVIEW BY RYAN BRINSON
Photos by Matthew Holler Hair by Boswell Scot of DOP DOP Salon Photo assistants: Sarah Rotker, Gary Shackleford
WHEN DID YOU FIRST PERFORM IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE? I was eight years old and my elementary school choir sang at our town’s Christmas tree lighting. My teacher asked me if I wanted a solo and I bizarrely said no, which isn’t like me at all. She convinced me to do it and I sang “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” in front of my town and that was the first time I sang in front of people who weren’t my family. WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO SING VOCATIONALLY? I pretty much always knew that. For me the only question was genre. For many years I didn’t know if I wanted to go into jazz or musical theatre. I decided to study jazz in school at a music conservatory because the voice teacher I wanted was at a conservatory. But now I audition for musical theatre and I’ve done community theatre. I realized I don’t have to do just one thing.
Last year, Jane was a part of song writer Scott Alan’s live album recording along with some of the biggest names in Broadway. She sang a duet with November cover artist Sierra Boggess called “Always/Goodnight.” She said of the experience, “I was freaking out. I was here with all these Broadway people and it was amazing for me. I never get to be in that world. I am just such a huge fan of these people. Lea Solanga, Christiane Noll and Stephanie J. Block? I mean come on. It was amazing. Scott’s just a brilliant writer and a wonderful guy. That was a really fun show.”
YOU’VE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM WITH SOME OF BROADWAY’S BIGGEST NAMES TOO. I do a lot of cabaret-style gigs as well and I feel like I have a foot in both worlds. I’ve been lucky. I get to Take a look at “Always,” by Scott Alan, sung as a trio with do whatever I want in a way. The basis of what I do is Broadway powerhouses Eden Espinosa & Christiane Noll. really going to always be rooted in the great American songbook and in Brazilian music, but the American songbook will always be my focus. other voices and hear their technique. WHY BRAZILIAN MUSIC? I’ve always loved it. Most jazz musicians do. It tends to go hand-in-hand. In the 60s, we had all these great jazz musicians going down to Brazil and bringing Bossa Nova back with them. Since then, it’s gone hand-in-hand. All of these famous Brazilian tunes are written to be sung so singers really enjoy them and we all learn them. In New York, there’s a bit of a Brazilian music scene so it all goes together.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIG BREAK? The Monk Competition. The Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz has their annual competition every year and each year it’s a different instrument. In 1998, I was a senior in college and the competition was voice so it was perfect. I came in second but the woman who came in first was 64 years old and I was 20. So I got as much attention as she did. I was signed to my first label then and things started to happen.
WHAT HAS PERFORMING WITH SINGERS FROM OTHER GENRES DONE FOR THE WAY YOU APPROACH YOUR SONGS? It’s always good to take inspiration from other areas and other genres. It also allows me to appreciate what I do in a way. I hear these singers with incredible technique and it’s wonderful for me to be inspired by
WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH TO CRAFTING AN ALBUM? In jazz we approach things differently. I made my last album in the studio in three days. We go in prepared with songs and arrangements already done. It’s our job to be able to deliver on the first time. We work quickly and save a lot of money that way. BLEEP 59
WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO PERFORM? Birdland! This is my favorite place. I’m very close with members of the staff. I hang out here. I come here to hear other artists. If they’d let me move a cot in the back, I’d stay here. It’s a beautiful place to hear music. YOU’VE GOT A NEW HOLIDAY SINGLE YOU’LL BE RELEASING IN DECEMBER. I’ve done one each year for the past three years and it’ll be available on my website. The first year was a free single, last year was an animal charity and this year is an LGBT charity because it’s incredibly important to me to support that. Most of my friends and loved 60 BLEEP
ones, this is something that affects them very much. I keep it personal. This year, I recorded a song written by my father-in-law called “Here’s To You.” WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Everyone that I love. My husband. I learned how to sing love songs by falling in love with him. We were in college, when your brain is expanding exponentially every day and I remember I had a particular standard stuck in my head and I thought, “Wow. I know what this songs means now because of him.” And now my son. He inspires me. The guys in my band are my best friends – they are
like brothers to me – so I look at them and I’m just so I see too much of and you can’t trade on that. First filled with joy. learn your craft, and then worry about being pretty. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG SINGERS WHO ASPIRE TO DO WHAT YOU’RE DOING? You really have to learn your craft. You can’t mess around with that. You have to be as strong of a musician as any instrumentalist you may work with. You have to be able to communicate emotionally and sing those lyrics and not be afraid. Listen, I like to be pretty and I like to look glamorous, but you have to be able to back that up with your craft. The over-sexualization of female singers is something
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? A lot more touring. I’ll be getting ready to make another record soon but I stay on the road because I feel lucky that I get to. That’s how we do it in jazz. We don’t make money off of album sales. It’s about the live performance. I feel very lucky that I get to do it. www.janemonheitonline.com
We love creative people. BLEEP 63
BREANN }JOHNSON} 64 BLEEP
PHOTOS BY BLAIRE OSTLER
Born in Washington, Breann Johnson has lived in Korea, Hawaii, and Utah, before getting married and moving to San Diego. After two years in San Diego, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles so she could pursue her lifelong dream of being an actress in films.
and eager to help. The town of Whitewright, Texas, where we filmed “Red Wing” welcomed us with open arms and eager attitudes. The people on set were so supportive and accepting to how I needed to do my work. And all the “names” who worked on Red Wing were great examples to me. They all grew to be my Red Wing family. I was surprised at the bond I would share with everyone by the end of filming.
HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO YOUR CRAFT CHANGED SINCE YOU FINISHED “RED WING?” It hasn’t really changed much. I just do what’s WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FORAY INTO ACTING? important to my job, which is focusing on my character. I’ve been acting in theater since I was eight years old. I When I get a character, I create a strong backstory and kept up my acting in high school and college in theater a history for them so I understand them completely and I always loved it. My first film gig when I moved to and can make the character feel as real as possible. It’s L.A. was a music video called “The Way We Are” by That important for me to know the whole story inside and Noise. I played a creepy ghost. out and when I know it, then I create my character’s history. I fill in all the gaps that aren’t already written in WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU COULD MAKE ACTING the script to create a complete character. When I have YOUR PROFESSION? all the backstory it allows me to act in the present as the It’s been a slow realization for me. I’ve always loved character. it and I’ve always been involved in acting, but it didn’t really dawn on me that I was meant to be an actress WHAT KEEPS YOU GROUNDED WHEN YOU’RE NOT until later. I would watch some of my favorite movies ON THE SET? with characters similar to myself and I would think, I look forward to the next job. I start working on that “That’s what I want to do!” Then eventually it clicked. character as soon as I get the script and I get excited to do my part. I love creating new characters and bringing HOW DID YOU NURTURE AND WORK ON YOUR them to life. I devour the script and when I feel I have CRAFT? a strong grasp on the story, I start filling in the gaps. I took a film acting class for two years that I felt What does this person think like? Why do they do what really helped me develop as an actress. I learned how they do? What do they look like? What do they dress to open my mind more to new personality types and like? How do they do their hair? I try to think of every more history I could develop for my characters. I started aspect of the character that I can. I love thinking about booking many short films after taking that class. my characters because it helps me become them more easily on set. YOU’VE DONE A FEW SHORTS. WHAT DID THAT TEACH YOU ABOUT YOURSELF AND ABOUT YOUR WHO/WHAT INSPIRES YOU? ACTING PROCESS? Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis, and many They taught me the basics of how a set works as more. Their performances are so natural, realistic, and well as the technical side of acting. I also learned how believable. I find most of their characters very relatable. to network. Being an extrovert, and someone who I have to love the characters in the story before I love thrives on connecting with others, it was easy for me the movie. to network effectively. I love talking with people and the more I connected with them on set, the more jobs I WHAT’S YOUR DREAM? found myself getting down the road. I learned the value I hope to inspire others with my work. Maddie, the of networking through those experiences. character I played in “Red Wing” is an extremely strong woman. She’s not tough, but she has tolerance and WHAT MOST SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE PROCESS faith. That is what gives her strength to continue on and OF DOING A FEATURE-LENGTH FILM? my hope is that people will see those characteristics in I was surprised with how much I would grow to love her and be inspired to find their own sense of inner the people I worked with. Everyone was so great, kind, strength. 66 BLEEP
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r o i savadore
l l u f d n o c e s r i e h t f o e s a e e r l o e d r a e r h o t i v h a wit album, Our Nature, s r i e h t h g t n g i n d e a e l r p s e b o l g g n e i h y t a t g s n i e r u is to us sound, all the whil infectio themselves. true to
Photo by Eric Weiner
interview by caleb bollenbacher
very personal, emotional songwriting that we had been doing for years. Not that the new stuff wasn’t emotional, but we were like “let’s get away from writing about our feelings.” And we ended up making…this nineteen minute, short fairy tale…The Adventures of Mr. Pumpernickel and the Girl with Animals in Her Throat. DM: After we finished it we were just like “well, that was fun, see you later.” But then we gave it to our friends, for kicks, and it ended up taking on a life of its own. From there on we signed with a label and they were like “you guys should play some shows” and we were like “okay, we’ll get a band together; okay, we’ll make a record”. PH: And it kind of went on like that at each step for a while, which was really nice ‘cause it sort of took the pressure and anxiety off the situation…we were just doing whatever felt right at the moment. “Now that we’ve played a couple shows, let’s go to a different city and play a few more shows.” Eventually it become more and we realized “we can just do this, this is awesome.”
HOW DID YOU START MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER? PH: Well, it started sort of as an accident in a weird way. We didn’t originally have the intention of starting a band. But we were playing together a lot, our solo acts. We met at NYU – to take it further back – at a songwriting club. But we ended up playing ten to twenty shows together, at different cafes and venues. We both got frustrated with the limitations of that, of playing with an acoustic guitar alone, and we were interested in a lot of the same types of music and experimentations, so we came up with this idea to go into a studio for a weekend and we were just going to record for two days, and whatever we ended up recording would be something, you know? We also made an effort to depart from the
IS THIS SOMETHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO, AS FAR AS MAKING MUSIC? WAS THAT THE DREAM GROWING UP? DM/PH: Yeah!
Photo by Kristen Winter
2013 HAS BEEN GOOD TO SAVOIR ADORE, AND SAVOIR ADORE HAS BEEN GOOD TO 2013. STARTING THE YEAR OFF WITH A BANG – THEY SIGNED WITH NETTWERK RECORDS AND RELEASED THEIR SECOND FULL-LENGTH ALBUM, OUR NATURE – THEY SHOW NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN. THEY’VE JUST KICKED OFF ANOTHER ROUND OF TOURING IN SUPPORT OF THE INFECTIOUSLY DREAMY OUR NATURE, ARE PREPARING FOR DATES AT SUNDANCE AND IN EUROPE, AND ARE ALREADY BEGINNING THE PROCESS OF WORKING ON A NEW ALBUM. THE BAND – WHICH IS COMPRISED OF DEIDRE MURO AND PAUL HAMMER –WAS KIND ENOUGH TO SIT DOWN FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH BLEEP TO DISCUSS INSPIRATION, CREATION, AND COLLABORATION.
WHAT ARE YOUR I N S P I R AT I O N S? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO CREATE? PH: Our families DM: That was a big part of it. Both of us had musical families. Learning to play piano was just a given when I was very small. My parents taught me in the beginning. Music for both of us was just a given thing that existed in home life, so there was that on top of being in bands in high school. For me, I got into writing music because when I was younger, singing has always been one of my favorite things, but my voice doesn’t easily fit into the kind of categories you have
Photo by Eric Weiner
growing up in school. I didn’t have a belt-y enough voice for the pop songs at the talent show, I didn’t have a musical theater enough voice to be in plays, I didn’t have a classical enough operatic voice for choral solos. The closest I got was jazz singing, which I really loved because I grew up loving Ella Fitzgerald and loving standards. But even when I got far enough into that world, I wasn’t jazz enough for it. My brother was really into writing music…so I got into writing because of that and because I thought “I should just write my own music for me to sing, because then no one could tell me ‘oh you don’t have the right voice for this’ because it’s my music! PH: I think that was part of the reason I – not rebelled against classical piano – but I got very frustrated with the limitations of it, because it’s done. There’s a certain level of expression anytime you play a written piece – I’d play this classical pieces and then I’d hear my dad working on a synthesizer or composing this whole different thing and I was like “wait a second: you can do whatever you want with this and you can do it with whatever sound you want?” That was always just so much more appealing for me. Once I started playing guitar in high school I started writing music. WE MENTIONED INSPIRATIONS EARLIER. ONCE
YOU’VE GOT THE INSPIRATION THING DOWN, WHAT DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS LOOK LIKE? FOR EXAMPLE, TELL ME ABOUT HOW “DREAMERS” CAME TO BE. DM: It was very piecemeal, but somehow it came together. PH: I think part of the reason we took so much time with it was that there was almost a mystical sort of “this song is special, we need to let it grow on its own” sort of feeling, which was fun! We’ve written songs in an afternoon that are done and they feel great, but with this I think we could just tell that we didn’t want to rush it. It was an important song all along, and it’s been wonderful to see the response on it. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO SINGS LEAD WHEN? PH: We often make things really difficult for ourselves. Our ranges often overlap. It’s fun because often we’ll write melodies that either of us could potentially sing. Our song “At The Same Time”, we sing the whole song in unison, which is fun because there are certain points where Deidre’s voice is a bit stronger and then parts where mine is a bit stronger. DM: And it’s really funny because people have actually written about the song and mistakenly said that one of us is singing. So you love that game. BLEEP 91
Oftentimes though there is no formula for who sings what. We often just duke it out to see who wants it more. [laughs] PH: We’ve recorded a few of the songs, like I recorded the vocals for “Our Nature” to see how that would sound, and it just didn’t work. I sounded like a vampire! DM: It just comes down to who sounds more right in the part, which is kind of funny. A TYPICAL WEEK IN YOUR LIVES: WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE? DM: There is no typical week. That’s the typical week. If we’re on tour, we’re in a van all day. Or if we’re here in Brooklyn, we have a studio that we built with my husband, and we’ll spend a lot of our days doing various projects down there. Maybe we’ll be rehearsing, or working on other recording projects. Every day is different! PH: There are so many different things we’re working on. There are days where we just email, all day: catching up, or scheduling rehearsals, or booking shows. DM: “Oh no, we’re running out of merch! We should probably get a new t-shirt design!” PH: We’re also in that middle point too where we have a team – a manager, a booking agent, and now the record label – but there’s still so much we not only need to do but want to be in control of. WHAT IS IT YOU LOVE ABOUT NEW YORK? DM: I think for both of us there’s the baseline incentive that we are only an hour away from our respective families, which is a huge bonus - to be in one of the most awesome cities in the world and also have your family nearby. For me, it’s just sort of where I happened to build my network of people that I love and people I love to work with and be around. To have it also be New York is pretty awesome! PH: I think it’s the community here. Going to school here, making all these really strong relationships – artists we play with, and friends we’re inspired by – being able to collaborate with these people who live ten blocks from you…plus New York is just the magical icing in the cake. There’s an energy here, we’re very fortunate to have planted our roots here. YOU MENTIONED HAVING NETWORKS OF COLLABORATORS; IS THERE A ‘DREAM COLLABORATION’ YOU HAVE IN MIND, LIKE IF YOU COULD WORK WITH ANYONE? PH: Yeah, outside of New York there are producers. 92 BLEEP
Like the guy who did the Sky Ferreira record also did the Haim record, and the Vampire Weekend record. He’s been – for lack of a better phrase – killing it! This guy has a magic touch. But also Dave Fridmann, who did the MGMT record, did the Tame Impala record, Flaming Lips record, he has such a natural quality to his recordings. Philippe Zdar, who did the Phoenix record…we probably listened to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on repeat for a whole tour. There are a lot of bands…Phoenix would be one. Jack White for her… DM: He’s my dream collaborator. Just ‘cause I think he’s inspirational. He’s the bee’s knees. He would bring his awesome intuition to it. He’s at the top of my list. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT BLEEP IS PASSIONATE ABOUT IS SHOWING THAT CREATIVITY DOES MAKE AN IMPACT AND CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? DM: I think on a very basic level we like to know that the things we create and we get pleasure out of creating, can bring pleasure to people around the world that we’ve never met before. Even just creating a moment of delight for someone, creating happiness. Or even if it’s not happiness, being able to have emotion because of a song, make someone feel a certain way…if we can supplement peoples’ lives in that way then that’s awesome! PH: Sometimes we’ll get things like that where people will say like “you got me through this really difficult week” or we’ve gotten messages where people have used some of our songs in their weddings! WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU GUYS AT THIS POINT? YOU’VE GOT A TOUR COMING UP… DM: Yeah, tour dates around the northeast and west… PH: We’re starting work on new music! Which is crazy, ‘cause we’ve spent so much time touring for “Our Nature” that we’ve missed creating new stuff. DM: We’re planning on working on it a lot over the winter. We spent two days straight on new ideas last week and came up with several nuggets, so that was really fun. PH: We start with little nuggets. We’re going to Sundance actually in January to perform. And then we’re going to Europe, which is fun because we haven’t played in Europe for the new record. DM: Outside of that, hopefully just making a new record by the time next summer comes around! www.savoiradore.com
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by Katherine Morgan
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE? I would describe it as one solid cohesive look. I never mix and match patterns. If I want to wear winter gear, then I wear all winter gear. If I want to wear exercise gear, then I’ll wear all exercise garments. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE THAT YOU OWN? I have this amazing Jeffrey Campbell shoe collection. I love them. They’re really collectable and so much fun. I have this one pair of thigh high black leather boots that are my heart and soul. They would have to be my favorite pair. WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU BELIEVE WILL NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE? I think that blazers, blouses and a good pair of stilettos will never out of style simply because they are timeless and they go along with everything.
JANEY, Bainbridge Island, Wash. Nanny 96 BLEEP
bleepquiz Breann Johnson
I am...an actress. I’m here because...to inspire people through my work. What makes me happiest is...my husband. The color that best represents me is...yellow. What I hope to accomplish today is...to make a new fan. My best friends are...my husband Michael. I can’t live without...Michael. Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be...an Oscar winner, hands down. If I wasn’t me, I’d be...no one else. I’m happy to be me. I like it best when you...listen to me. God is...the one who knows and loves you perfectly. I’m hungry for...more. I cry…when I feel pain. Style means…when you’er confident about how you look. I want to go...everywhere. I love to travel. The most obnoxious sound in the world is... indifference. What makes me weak is...fear. At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... my work. I crave...more. My inspiration…are my mentors.
P E E L B
International jazz superstar Jane Monheit graces the cover of our December/January double issue.