MAY 2015 Issue â€˘ 504
P E BLE
Rey Ortiz is bringing something new to the fashion game
The chart topping rapper talks about his new album Step Up: All Inâ€™s
Alyson Stoner talks about dance, movies & Missy Elliott
on their distinct style of hip hop BLEEP 1
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Photo by Shelby Hibbs
n i p e e bl inside: 10
ONE TO WATCH: RICKY REBEL
OFF-BROADWAY’S CLINTON BADDIES
CHART TOPPING RAPER KB
He’s toured with Britney but Ricky Rebel talks about how being blue turned into recording an album that allowed him to “transform sadness into positive expression which ultimately lead to my own personal healing.”
When your grandmother is Dionne Warwick and your cousin is Whitney Houston, it’s safe to assume you’re going to grow up with a passion for music. But not one to rest in the shadows of the greats that came before her, Cheyenne is making a name for herself. While Hillary is campaigning all over the country, she may or may not be aware that shes’ also starring in Clinton: The Musical Off Broadway. We talk to Kevin Zak and John Treacy Egan about playing the baddies in the Clinton storybook. American born, New Zealand living, singer talks about her new “System” and the joy of contemporary songwriting.
In his career so far, rapper KB has won a Dove Award for “Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year,” a No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Christian Album Chart and No. 4 on Billboard’s Rap Chart. Not afraid to talk about real-life issues such as suicide, family, love, and society’s look on women, he’s brought something new to the genre.
We caught up with emcee Josh Raff of Pants Velour on what’s coming up for the band and what makes this band rock.
BLEEP OUR. TEAM. RYAN BRINSON Editor-in-Chief
SARAH ROTKER Business & Audience Development Manager
Photo by Roberto Araujo
PABLO SALINAS Social Media Associate COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: Chantz Hough FEATURE EDITORS: Nathan Robins
As a kid, she was a hit in Missy Elliott’s music videos and in movies like “Cheaper By The Dozen.” Now, she’s starring in films like the “Step Up” movies, has a new single and recently had a viral hit on YouTube in tribute to those Missy videos.
REY ORTIZ As a boy, Rey Ortiz was enamored with creating his own illustrations and he drew nonstop. Today, he’s taking what he used to merely draw on paper, and turning it into fashions worn all over the world.
Photo by Brent Dundore
CONTRIBUTORS: Caleb Bollenbacher Rachael Mariboho Hatley Moore Laura Seitter Alex Wright FEATURE CONTRIBUTORS: Florian Hubertus WEB CONTENT: Sheena Wagaman All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.
From the Editor The reason I started BLEEP was to tell the stories of artists who might not have an outlet to get their story out there just yet. That’s always been what’s driven me and kept me passionate about this. It’s true that we have been able to talk with and feature people from all statures of success, and I love that part of it too. But at the root of it all, we just want to let you in on artists who are making great art and doing so because they love it. That’s why Rey Ortiz was such an easy choice for this month’s cover feature. It’s easy to feel like the fashion industry is only for those people who have already made names for themselves. The plight of the up-and-coming fashion designer is a tough uphill road paved with struggle and hustle, and honestly, most don’t make it to the top for one reason or another. But it’s inspiring to talk with Rey about his seamster family upbringing and where he’s headed with his talent. Chantz Hough, our featured cover shoot photographer said of Rey, “While spending some time with him on set, his passion for what he does became evident. He is true to himself, his designs, and is one of the most passionate people about what he does. It was motivating, inspiring, and refreshing. I know he is going to be big.” I couldn’t have put it any better myself. It’s exciting to see someone working so hard and seeing their dream come true. Rey is an undeniable talent with an inspiring story and being able to facilitate telling that story is an honor. We’ve got to support these artists when we discover them. We hear all the time about supporting indie musicians and films, but we need to also buy into the visions and creations of designers who are just trying to make clothes that rock. And Rey rocks.
Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief
BLEEPblips The 4th Annual NY BOYlesque Festival The 4th Annual New York Boylesque Festival takes place on May 8th & May 9th, 2015 and with over 40 male performers from Japan, France, Australia, Chicago, LA, London, Canada & more, this year’s Boylesque Festival promises to be the biggest yet. Hosted by NYC’s own drag mama Sweetie, and The World Famous *BOB*, this two day flesh festival promises to be the sexiest weekend of 2015. Get your tickets, and get yourselves to the festival. You do not want to miss it. We will be there! Friday May 8th The Teaser Party Hosted by The World Famous *BOB* W/ DJ Sammy Jo The Knitting Factory 361 Metropolitan Ave Brooklyn NY 11211 7pm Doors, 8pm Show $15 adv, $20 at the door Saturday May 9th The Main Event Hosted by Sweetie W/ DJ Scott Ewalt BB Kings 237 W 42nd Street NY, NY 10036 6pm Doors, 7:30pm Show VIP $50 adv, $60 at the door GA $25 adv, $30 at the door www.boylesquefestival.com
As is the case when any awards show releases their set of nominations for the year, there come the inevitable headlines about who was snubbed. In the case of the Tony Awards, those headlines pertain mostly to the TV and film stars who were “snubbed” since those are the only people most folks in the middle of the country would take note of. The truth of the matter is that the only real snub this year was the omission of Lisa Howard from the list of actresses being honored on June 7. I realize that’s a blunt statement, and it’s not a slight on any of the shows that didn’t get the nominations they were hoping for, but the performance Lisa Howard gives in It Shoulda Been You is more than just a stellar performance in a really fun show. It’s a quiet statement that there’s a place for a beautiful woman who isn’t 20 years old and who isn’t rail-thin to rule the stage. It doesn’t hurt that she’s surrounded by a who’s-who of formidable actors. Sierra Boggess and David Burtka are dreamy as the couple-to-be, Montego Glover and Greg Madison have the best wedding toast you’ll see on stage, and Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris are as wonderful as they always are when they grace the Broadway stage. But it’s Lisa Howard who grounds the show, gives it the injection of emotion it needs, and it’s she who ends the show being truly empowered on the big day. I really liked It Shoulda Been You. Everyone I know who has seen it did as well. It’s funny, it’s sincere and it has an incredibly timely moral to the story. David Hyde Pierce put together a comedy that wouldn’t feel out of place on “Frasier,” and that’s such a relatable breath of fresh air. I’ve also not heard anyone talk about this show without mentioning how Howard was a force to be reckoned with. This Broadway season ended up having some truly great works of theatre on stage and of course, not everyone can be rewarded with a nomination - but it’s a shame that this season, it was Lisa Howard who ended up being the one who shoulda been nominated. -Ryan Brinson, Editor
Photo by Joan Marcus
Shoulda Been Nominated: The incomparable Lisa Howard
by Alex Wright
Hit Your Mark Cross downstage. No, not like that. Take a step to your left. Oops, sorry, I meant you’re right. Okay, hit that mark. You know what kind of type you are? I’ll tell you what kind of type you are. You’re the girl next door. Have you thought about being a red head? That would look great on you. Dye your hair red. It’s decided. As an actor, you will have a lot of people deciding who you are, how successful you are, what type of work you should be doing. And everyone has an opinion. The lady on the airplane determines your success when she quips, “Oh, you’re an actor? Have I seen you in anything?” Which is code for, well, if I haven’t seen you in anything, then you must be unsuccessful. Which means you must be bad at what you do. Which means you must be…gasp…poor! Your agents and managers, if they’re any good at their job, will tell you what to do with your career. Take this job, not that one. Don’t do that show, it takes up too much of your time. Why do you have that part time job? It’s beneath you. There seems to be a million voices buzzing around you, telling you which acting class is the best and who is the person to contact and what headshot photographer will get you in the room. The voices tell you whether your work was “right” or “wrong” based off of whether or not you booked the job. You dread the day, though, when these voices stop because that means… what? No more acting career? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a people pleaser. It has created within me my fair share of anxiety riddled ulcers and nose-dive paranoia. What I’ve learned though, is that while being a people pleaser feels selfless, it ends up being quite the opposite; it’s me assuming that the people I’m trying to please wouldn’t be able to function properly without me making it just “right” for them. But that “right” is the right way for me, not for them. By opposing my idea of “right-ness,” I’m stripping them of their ownership of choice and
what is right for their life. I think a lot of artists are diseased by this need to please others. We want the applause and the accolades because it is proof that we have pleased our audiences, that we have done our job properly, that we have done it “right.” As a child, creating was easy. It’s probably the one time of day when parents and adults aren’t telling a child what to do. We weren’t concerned about pleasing others with our creations—we created to please and appease our inner well of inspiration and creativity. We didn’t crowd our head with voices of what is “right”, nor were we surrounded with the criticism of others. People weren’t defining us, and they certainly weren’t trying to define our cardboard box creation. It’s this lack of voices that allows for children to turn a cardboard box into a spaceship. They’re not concerned with what is right or wrong. That’s not the point. When did that become the point? When did creation transform into an adults playground of battling between what is right and wrong? And no, I don’t mean what is morally right and wrong—although that can certainly be explored in art—but I mean what is creatively right and wrong. In the end, after all, even that is just a matter of opinion, just one person’s voice stridently arguing that they know best. In order to create, the only voice that matters is yours. You have to silence all the other voices so that your voice is the one that rings truest. A piece of art that is full of someone else’s, or everyone else’s, voice is too loud, too general; in an effort to please everyone, no one is pleased. There is no right or wrong with a piece full of voices because there is nothing of substance to even weigh in the scales. I hope to continue to please myself more when I’m creating. It’s the only way to create something that is purely of my own voice, of my own self. And it won’t be right. But it also won’t be wrong. It will just be.
one to watch He’s toured with Britney but Ricky Rebel talks about how being blue turned into recording an album that allowed him to “transform sadness into positive expression which ultimately lead to my own personal healing.”
He is certainly one to watch.
Photos by Graphics Metropolis
You’re working with some really exciting artists and you’ve toured with huge artists. How do these people inspire what you do? I am inspired by dynamic performers. Michael Jackson and Madonna have always been on top of that list. I was discovered by Michael Jackson and signed to his label under the SONY umbrella and later I signed with Madonna’s label Maverick Records and opened for Britney Spears on tour. At one point or another, I basically had two of the biggest living legends for a boss. They taught me about the industry and inspired me to become the artist that I am today. A fearless Rebel with a cause. What is the interplay between image and music for you? They go hand and hand for me. I will never be the kind of artist that puts on a pair of jeans and a dirty, white Fruit Of The Loom t-shirt, sing and barely move. Movement, fashion, performance and drama are what make an exceptional performer. I need the glam and the drama. Certain performers captivate me like that. Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson these are my influences. Dynamic people that command the stage. Each of them had an extremely exceptional image that was all their own. Fashion played a tremendous part in that. In my opinion, If drag queens cannot impersonate you without everyone knowing who they are impersonating than as an artist I believe you are just playing it too safe. I like to leave the boring stuff for someone else. What was the impetus for “The Blue Album?” There were a lot of events in my life that inspired the making of this album right around the time that I turned my hair blue. I fell in love, got engaged, broke up, went into a “Blue” depression, centered myself, focused on my career and found new love. I am now reaping the rewards of channeling my fear, rage and sadness into the creation of this record. It was a hard time for me, but I got a great album out of it and for that I am grateful. Had I not gone through all the pain “The Blue
Album” would have never been born. Why did you title it that? I titled it “The Blue Album” because I feel like these are the “Blue” years of my life. Blue has many contradicting elements and associations to it. Blue reminds us of the sky, the ocean, the heavens which are all healing elements. It’s also a masculine color that we typically associate with boys & men. Blue also stands for feelings of loneliness and depression. On my album, I explore all the many facets of the color blue. It’s a complex color but I am a complex character. Making the album has allowed me to transform sadness into positive expression which ultimately lead to my own personal healing. I hope that people who listen to the album in some way or another experience their own type of healing. Going through a breakup is tough but the message of the album is that there is life after loss. We have to “Rebel The Darkness” and Shine Your Light. And it doesn’t hurt to dance our butts off because life is short and we need to celebrate. What’s next for you? Currently I am promoting my new “Star (Remixes)” Package released on Audio4Play Records. It features the work of world renowned and Billboard chart-topping DJs Hector Fonseca (Sia, Beyonce, Madonna), Casey Alva as well as Tommy Love and it’s currently being played in over 15 countries. The Ricky Rebel “Star (Remixes)” Album is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon MP3. We have an official music video coming out soon on VEVO for the “Star (Hector Fonseca & Tommy Love Tribal Dub).” We also have several shows planned this year to promote the album. The Rebel Mafia and I are going to be performing at The Abbey in West Hollywood (May 21), Share Nightclub in Las Vegas (May 29), the San Diego Fair (Out At the Fair) on June 13, LA Pride (June 26), FRESH at GreyStone Manor in Los Angeles (June 26) and a special Audio4Play Records concert in San Francisco (July 4). Check my website www.RickyRebelRocks.com for more information.
the intersection by
Devil’s Advocate I, like just about everyone on my Twitter feed (or so it seems), have been watching “Marvel’s Daredevil” the last couple weeks. It’s another excellent offering from Marvel – one of their best so far – and it turns over an exciting new leaf in their greater cinematic universe while staying true to the traits that have made them so successful. Like nearly everything in the Marvel stables, “Daredevil” (not to be confused with the rather undistinguished Ben Affleck starrer from over a decade back) is character driven, giving as much play to the man behind the mask as to his superheroics. Like the rest of the Marvel ventures, the plot is intricate and the stakes are high. The added bonus of doing this as a series instead of a film is that the plot threads and character development are given proper time to grow, without rushing anything. In short, “Daredevil” executes to perfection. And I can’t find anyone to talk to about it. The problem isn’t that nobody is watching it. Like I said, most of my regular television crowd
is tuned in. It’s that nobody is watching it at my pace. That’s the drawback to the brave new world of binge-watching that Netflix has ushered us into. I know that most people adore the accessibility that comes with having entire seasons of television dumped on us in one go, and I am too, but something gets lost along the way. The problem with binge-ready shows like “Daredevil,” “House of Cards,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” just to name a few, is that they are shows that everyone wants to talk about and no one really can. Dozens of times I’ve heard these shows mentioned at work as someone tries to strike up a conversation, only to hear them inevitably shouted down by someone who doesn’t want to hear spoilers. Everyone runs their TV marathon at a different pace, and the result is that water cooler talk goes down the drain. The thing about pop culture is that it’s supposed to be experienced together. Culture, by definition, requires the participation of a group
of people, and the idea that everyone has to hold their applause and conversation because of the Netflix/Amazon release format is certainly an odd one. It’s especially interesting, especially given how social media has revolutionized the cultural experience of media consumption. Anyone who watches TV will realize within a quick minute how important social media has become to the greater experience. Networks constantly plaster hashtags across the bottom of the screen, urging viewers to discuss certain aspects of the show, and not for nothing. Half the fun of watching a story unfold is seeing the way people react. The greater public conversation that comes about when watching shows together is fascinating. It’s not just shows either: sports viewing (which can’t really be binged, even in the densest of March Madness weekends) is totally different in the social media age. You’re not just watching with the people in the room with you; in a sense you’re still watching with your old college buddies, or hometown fans you don’t even know. You’re watching with the world. Sharing like this enhances the experiences, pushing the borders of what conversation is, what culture is, and it makes the world a much smaller space in the process. It’s captivating, seeing everyone engage together like that in a giant community. And yet, that engagement is already starting to fade away in the rearview. The year’s buzziest shows – several of the big winners at the Golden Globes and Emmys were subscription service originals – are all jilting people at the alter of conversation. When we sacrifice the waiting that comes with weekly broadcasts, our conversations become more muted, less specific. Slow burns and marathons come at the cost
of lengthy suspense and discussion. And as online leaks become more prevalent (hi there, “Game of Thrones” season 5), this phenomenon isn’t confined to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. The tradeoff is interesting, because these shows are still being talked about. Obviously, they’re some of the most popular programs on the market, but when the conversation shifts from an excited “Did you watch last night’s episode?” to a cautiously exploratory “Are you watching…?” we lose an opportunity to share in the fullness of the event. The story is still there, sure, but we cease to be a part of it. Much like Daredevil, though we can still see, we’re suddenly operating in the dark.
Cheyenne Elliott five
When your grandmother is Dionne Warwick and your cousin is Whitney Houston, it’s safe to assume you’re going to grow up with a passion for music. But not one to rest in the shadows of the greats that came before her, Cheyenne Elliott is making a name for herself with a new song and a new sound. You’ve been surrounded by some of music’s most iconic voices in your life. How has that influenced and affected your own voice? Both my grandmother and cousin have been major influences in my life and music. Being surrounded by such powerful women who have impacted the music industry the way they have is inspirational. My grandmother has always been there to give me advice or critique about my music and I am so thankful for that. How did “With You” come about? What makes this song unique to what’s happening in music today? “With You” is a song collaboration between my mother and me. It is an upbeat, fun dance track with a positive love-infused message that we are very proud of. “With You” stands out from the rest with the idea that we tried to focus on the vocal aspects of the song more so that the musical track itself. A lot of dance artists fail to attack a song in that manner. What can we expect from you in terms of a full project? I am currently working on new material for a full length album that should be released in the near future. Beyond your heritage in one of music’s most legacyfilled-families, what do you want people to know about you? My family is a such a blessing and I thank them for everything that have taught and given me. So much wisdom! However, I am my own artist with my own sound. I want to create a name for myself. What’s next for you? More music to be released and other various projects!
For more on Cheyenne, head over to www.facebook.com/OfficialCheyenneElliott BLEEP 15
Kevin Zak n a g E y c a e r T John
clinton the musical stars
y hit, a w d a o r -b f f o ir talk about the se, hillary. r u o c f o d n a s politic
Your role has been beefed up since NYMTF! Being a part of the evolution of the show, what’s it like to see the changes for Ken Starr? I think our writer/composer, Paul, and the creative team saw more opportunities to make an antagonist out of Ken Starr as the show moved towards more of the story of the administration and the highs and lows of the Clinton marriage. And thankfully, they wanted me as that antagonizer. During rehearsals, songs and scenes changed daily. We went through around 6 various opening numbers. Songs got reassigned, characters got added. You kind of had to come in each day with a fresh palette, knowing the show would keep evolving. You love comedy. Why do you think parody shows like Clinton are important? You leave the theatre on a high. There are a lot of shows out there right now that are incredible to experience, but just leave you emotionally taxed afterward. Shows like Clinton or Book of Mormon shed satirical light on familiar subject matters, things we’d normally take too seriously. Clinton is a laugh-outloud, cathartic break from the 24 hour news cycles. Humor is one of the most powerful tools out there, and I think we’re using it wisely. I’ve had people of all parties approach me after the show saying they could not stop laughing. That to me is the most important thing
in a show like this, you can’t take sides or you’ll lose half your audience. Will the show evolve as Hillary’s campaign continues? I think we’ll try to stay current in a “foreshadowing” kind of way. There is breathing room in the script, which I think adds to the fun and organized chaos of the show. About halfway through the rehearsal process with started commenting on the “e-mail scandal” in the show. People will have to come back and check in on us! Since we last chatted, what have you been up to? This! I was lucky enough to partake in the Clinton workshop in the fall, and we began rehearsals shortly after the new year. I also got a new carpet. Apart from Clinton, what are you working on? Over the passed few months, Clinton has been a dream full time job. We’re currently in understudy rehearsals during the day (I cover both Bill Clintons). But in my spare time, my on stage cohort and colleague in the show John Treacy Egan (Newt Gingrich) and I love making quick backstage Instagram videos with various characters we come up with. You can check those out at www.Instagam.com/KevinJZak
n a g E y c a e John Tr How has this role challenged you as an actor? I was worried. I watched a lot of videos of him on YouTube to try and get him down. After reading the script, I realized “this guy” is a crazy behind-the-scenes Newt that doesn’t exist...I think. The wig is probably the only thing in my performance that slightly resembles the real subject.
Obviously, this show is both timely and topical. What’s it like to be a part of something that is so relevant? The timing is awesome. Hillary announcing her run for POTUS makes the show more fun. The audience really feels like they are in on all the action. What’s your favorite moment in Clinton? Well, I do get to eat a lot of unhealthy treats during the show. (Comes in handy when I skip dinner) My favorite moments are all the interactions I have with Ken Starr, actor Kevin Zak. He is hilarious and so fun to play with. I have a “talent crush”
on him. He’s gonna be a big star in his career. He’s like a musical theater Jim Carrey.
Every election cycle, actors publicly cheer on their candidate of choice. As an actor in a political show, how do you feel about actors and other artists who are public figures voicing their political views? I think if you have an opinion and someone asks you about it, let ‘em know, whether you’re famous or not. So I’m goin’ with Hillary! F*ck Yea! Apart from acting, what are you passionate about? Music, manners, my dogs, people doing the right thing...and laughing a lot! Apart from Clinton, what are you working on? My bad hip, my messy apartment, my weight, and a new CD (my other two are available on iTunes)
BLEEP CREATIVITY. UNCENSORED.
American born, New Zealand living, singer talks about her new â€œSystemâ€? and the joy of contemporary songwriting
When did you figure out that music was going to be what you would do vocationally? Believe it or not, I actually had every intention of being a mathematician, but when I spent the days leading up to exams writing and recording songs opposed to studying, I realized that music was a deep passion of mine that was worth pursuing. When you write a new song, what’s your process? Most often I write songs when there is something in my brain that I’m struggling to process. I use it frequently as a therapeutic method to sort and organise thoughts. However, that can be very limiting so I branch out and splurge when I’m feeling creative. Usually I have a lyrical idea first and compose the music around that, but I think it’s important to try different approaches. Almost everything I write is a result of me sitting at my piano, toying with words and notes. Occasionally I will start over-thinking the song so I strip it back to writing on guitar. What sets “System” apart from your previous works? System was all about the vocals and lyrics for me. I had discovered looping, which was the method I used to write both “System” and “Silhouettes.” I became really excited about exploring the voice as a more versatile instrument, using it for atmosphere and storytelling. The System EP is dark and playful. For me, it was about creating atmospheres, small 3 minute environments for listeners to chill in and relate to. What was the most challenging aspect of recording the EP? Trusting that I knew how I wanted the music to sound, and communicating that to people I worked with. The more I have delved into the industry the more opinions I have had thrown my way, and although every one is valid, it’s impossible to use every single one. I learned that I can listen to everyone’s feedback but ultimately it’s something I’m creating and I have to trust how I want it to sound in order to be proud of what I produce. This is why it’s so great to work with someone like James, because he shares the vision I have for my music. Communication is the other thing I improved. Growing up as a classical pianist I never had much to do in the way of recording and producing so my terminology has often been a stream of sporadic adjectives. In the past year I’ve learned so much about the production side of music and have definitely improved my skills.
What do you want to say with your music? The thing that I love most about contemporary songwriting is sitting, listening to a song I’ve never heard before by an artist I have never met, hearing a lyric and being overwhelmed by the fact that someone has experienced the exact sensation I have. It’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one to struggle, it’s satisfying to know when you’re ecstatic other people have felt the exact way. I think it gives us as humans a much firmer understanding of empathy and allows us to relate better to each other. My goal is to bring that down to an everyday level. I had false expectations of how often I would fall in love, or how often I would get my heart broken, due to how often I heard songs about it on the radio. What I needed out of music was to know other people felt happy but oddly lonely, or suffer from conflicting sensations about how to approach living every day. For me it’s all about creating something that makes people feel a little less isolated inside their minds, and music is an outstanding medium because it simultaneously tells the story of your words. Who or what inspires you as an artist? That is such a hard question. I don’t want to be cliché and say everything but I kind of feel that way. Most artists I listen to I’ve learned something from...I’m scrolling through a playlist now that is like Springsteen, Kate Nash, City and Colour, Rage, Nirvana, The Police, The Beatles, Sum 41, Jamie Cullum, Fat Joe. I mostly write about how I think so I really enjoy discovering how other people do. Content-wise I’m inspired by the happenings around me and music-wise I’m inspired by my desire to mash up all my influences into something coherent. What practical advice do you have for someone wanting to make music in today’s technological/ cultural climate? Know who you are, understand your style, and diversify. The most successful and interesting people I’ve met are the people who take an interest in all aspects of the industry - songwriting, production, business, etc. I think it’s important to know what you like and how you want to sound, but I find it very limiting if you restrict yourself specifically to that genre, listen to everything old and new. Expanding your horizons should come naturally if you’re passionate about your pursuit of music. What’s next for you? I have another EP coming out halfway through the year entitled 41.9
In his career so far, rapper KB has won a Dove Award for “Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year,” a No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Christian Album Chart and No. 4 on Billboard’s Rap Chart. For his newest album, “Tomorrow We Live,” he spent time in Capetown, South Africa to develop his new crop of dynamic hip hop tracks. Not afraid to talk about real-life issues such as suicide, family, love, and society’s look on women, he’s brought something new to the genre. 26 BLEEP
There has been a wave of recognition recently of Christian rap and hip-hop. How does it feel to be one of the voices leading that wave? I feel incredibly grateful. I don’t, in any way, feel like I deserve people to follow me. I work extremely hard so that when I am heard, I want to bring something to the table that’s of substance. I don’t want to be adding to the noise of our culture, but I want to be adding to the hope and truth that could transform our culture. Being on the front line is something that I can’t help to be grateful for and recognize it’s a gift I’ve received. I want people to look to me and confide in and add to the conversation. You’ve worked with some of the greats. Who inspires you as an artist? I pull inspiration from many genres and artists. A lot of the artists I’m inspired by don’t have the worldview that I have, they don’t see life the way I do or believe how I believe. But I’m a firm believe that all creativity flows from the Creator.
KB BLEEP 27
I pull from where I see His beauty all over the place. I’m inspired by the “Artist of All,” the one we pull all our art from. God’s art and creation. I went to South Africa and I considered looking at the mountains and oceans and animals as his own paintbrush. Personally, I’m inspired by all the guys on my label. I appreciate Lecrae, how he continues to evolve year to year. He does not get stagnant. That inspires me to always be reforming and evolving and becoming better. What sets “Tomorrow We Live” apart from your previous albums? I think this album is not necessarily what’s expected of me. There’s a safety in going with expectation and making the music you know people are going to love, when you understand a formula and churn that out regularly, there’s a danger in that that’s a safety. I think it’s dangerous because you don’t grow and your art isn’t evolving. There are always more levels to go through and it’s important to be true to my calling and my process. I’m a father now, I’ve been married for several years now, I’ve learned so much about the industry, I’ve traveled the world – I’m a different dude. I would set 26 year old KB apart from 22 year old KB. You’ll hear a very unexpected KB on “Tomorrow We Live.” Very focused, very mature, very evolved – a different KB. What was the process of putting together the new album? For me, I found it helpful to start my album process by leaving the country. We went to South Africa and spent a couple weeks just getting the sound, the concept and direction down and beginning to define what I wanted to bring to the table. That was very instrumental, but there’s something valuable about focusing on nothing but the task at hand and search your heart to find out what’s keeping you up a night. Sometimes, you just have to get somewhere and be quiet to really discover that thing. When someone comes to your show for the first time, what should they expect? My shows are, I think, climactic, there’s a theme and I’ve thought just as intentionally about my set as I have about my album. One of the favorite things I do is performing in concert.
In your opinion, what differentiates you from other artists in the field right now? I think the lines are very thin. A few things that make me different is sound. I don’t think I sound like anyone else in hip hop. I have a unique sound that is constantly merging my Midwestern influences and creating a new sound that I call world tracks: big tracks with lots of instruments. I’m not a theologian though I have a degree in theology. I have a very particular message. I exist to bring clarity to people’s understanding of God. That’s all I do. All my songs, my shows, my interviews, I want you to understand who God is better now that you did before you met me. That’s my message. That’s what my music is about and it’s a particular message. The music industry seems to be changing every day. What do you think are the advantages to the continued integration of music and technology? There’s a lot of advantages and I think we will always be trying to figure out how to take in the new waves that make music accessible to people. We want to make music so people can hear it. With technology, it’s almost impossible for your music to reach your fans now. I really appreciate that. I think it’s okay to feel the tension of figuring out how to adjust to make sure the artists are getting paid. That’s not an easy task so I understand the tension and how the music industry is getting attacked in some way by these new ways of getting music out there. But this is just a time for us to feel that tension and then adjust and know it won’t look the same. It keeps us reforming which I think is good. What’s next for you? I plan on pushing and touring with “Tomorrow We Live” and I want to continue to build up brothers and sisters all over the world. I try to live as outwardly as I can and as selflessly as I can to set a model for people to follow in that we find our joy in helping preserve the joy in others.
EMAIL US FOR DETAILS RYAN@BLEEPMAG.COM
What started Pants Velour? What did you want to bring onto the scene that wasn’t there? There are multiple Genesis’ (Genesis’s? Geneses? Genesis’es’es?) of this group. You could say what started Pants Velour was a pair of pants purchased by a corpulent Raffsputin in 1996, or you might argue that Sam Coe’s acquirement of specific hip-hop accoutrement in 2006 was the start, or you could go so far as to say that…well, let’s just stick with the pants story and call it a day. We didn’t necessarily have a goal to bring something that “wasn’t there” or to burst onto some kind of “scene” – this was just an idea that we had based on a variety of collaborative circumstances and we thought the dynamic of rapping/singing was cool. It did help our cause that this wasn’t really being done all that much, but we don’t really claim to be any kind of trailblazer. If a group is the sum of its parts, tell me what you each bring to the group to form what we see on stage. Raffsputin is the heart and the frontal lobe of the brain, E-Squire is the spine, Niki Darling is the face and the lungs, Jordan is the head, shoulders, knees, and toes, Sammy CoeCoe comprises the key organs such as kidneys, bladder, and a hard-boiled liver, Max and Richard are the arms and legs, Queen Nophi is the freshlygroomed hair, equipped with Soul Glo. You have some shows coming up in May. What part of your live performances is your favorite? The idea of everyone working together as a unit is pretty special – we are all up there as individuals, but we exist on stage as one. That might be a little deep, but it’s true, and it’s a beautiful thing. What sets you apart from other hip hop acts? We’re a live hip-hop band that’s got a three-headed monster in the front and a big ole’ booty in the back…and lord have mercy, that booty can shake. How do you stay inspired? What keeps your growing as a group of artists? We strive for Pants Velour to become the best version of itself that it can be. We don’t feel like we’ve hit that yet, which is a good thing. We have motivation to do bigger things, write better songs, play bigger shows, sleep with hotter groupies. What’s next for Pants Velour? Literally or figuratively? In the short-term, these questions made us kind of hungry so we might stop off for a quick milkshake. Down the line, suffice it to say that we’re not going anywhere…wait, that doesn’t sound right. What I mean is…we’re not…we’ll be…ah fuggedaboudit. For more on Pants Velour, tour dates and where to follow them, head over to www.pantsvelour.com 32 BLEEP
We caught up with emcee Josh Raff of Pants Velour on whatâ€™s coming up for the band and what makes this band rock.
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EMAIL US FOR DETAILS RYAN@BLEEPMAG.COM
alyson stoner As a kid, she was a hit in Missy Elliott’s music videos and in movies like “Cheaper By The Dozen.” Now, she’s starring in films like the “Step Up” movies, has a new single and recently had a viral hit on YouTube in tribute to those Missy videos. We catch up with Alyson about what she’s up to and the state of the dance industry. Your tribute video to Missy Elliot has been viewed over 13 million times. How does it feel to have other people enjoying your revisit to that time in your/their lives? Missy’s videos were everywhere. First of all, I think she represents an era of hip hop culture. Those good ol’ times that we all miss and want back. Between the timing of the Superbowl and the 10 or 12 years it’s been since we did those videos, it landed in the hands of people perfectly. People were remembering a
time in music and now it captured the transition of a young girl to an adult. What’s special to me is that I stopped waiting for someone else to open a door for me and I coordinated, produced, helped edit, I played all the roles – it was incredibly validating that the public received it so well. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to recreate such a wonderfully viral moment on YouTube. It was so motivating to me. You were in hit movies (“Cheaper by the Dozen”) and hit music videos as a kid. As you got older – did you find it difficult for people to shake off that image of you? As an actress, my success is predicated on an audience’s perception and reception of my performance. Connection is the greatest currency. If they feel I have left them behind and gone a new route, then I lose my fan base I’ve built for a decade. I thankfully have a wonderfully supportive fan base that I don’t want to shock or lose – I’m just now entering a place where I can show them all the sides of myself. I’m just scratching the surface of the journey. I want to be a person of integrity and I have a strong team with strong values that
Below: Alyson in Missy Elliott’s “Work It” video. Middle: “Cheaper by the Dozen” Bottom: “Step Up: All In”
I want to continue to represent. As a strong, independent, fearless woman, there will be opportunities for that. You’ve done movies, television, voiceover work, video games…you’ve stayed busy. How do you compartmentalize all of the different mediums you work in? To be completely honest, growing up balancing the different parts of the industry was something that brought me tremendous anxiety and hardship. I struggled internally wanting to be a master in all areas and not feeling like I had enough time or any guidance. I would run myself into the ground. Everything was about getting the job and once I had it, it was about being better than I was the last time. Since then, I’ve done better with managing what’s on my plate. Sometimes you have to let go of the idea that you can do everything all the time, but what you do, do with quality, conviction and inspire others. Talk about your new single “Pretty Girls.” It was written over a year ago and throw in the trash pile until we resurrected it to be the opening song of my film “Sugar Babies.” It was inspired by my lovely friend who is drop dead gorgeous and a sweet soul. I call this the halo effect, but people are blinded by her beauty. I started noticing the power women have using their good looks and using their beauty to seduce, manipulate or persuade to get what they want. It’s even projected onto them against their wishes. The song is about a woman who is almost apologizing that anyone that gets too close will fall under her spell despite of themselves. It’s a seductive allure and it translates to the movie because my character is in a relationship with a sugar daddy and it’s the difference between real love and an arrangement built on lust, greed and money. My character has to navigate that because she falls for her sugar daddy. You were a part of the “Step Up” series, most recently “Step Up: All In” that was a hit last year. The exposure of dance in the media means what for the future of the art? Dance has been popularized by SYTYCD, Dancing with the Stars, and various shows – but from behind the scenes, it has barely been a catalyst for dancers receiving decent treatment, payment and compensation. In my experience, the dance community has been far too easily pleased with the
recognition they are getting. When I was dancing back up, I felt like a second class citizen. I got paid under minimum wage, and there were so many free jobs. Groups like Dancers Alliance have made an impact on how dancers are treated, but for the future of dance, we need to step up and embrace what we deserve as hard working professionals. We put in whole days of rehearsals, we are physically beating our bodies up and we are doing it for entertainment that brings in such tremendous revenue. My perspective is less of the idealist, hopeful, wishful thinking and more the practical steps we have to take if we want it to mean more than a gimmicky cultural phase. Dance is a universal medium that’s not going anywhere – but it would be a shame for it to be reduced to an era of entertainment as opposed to transcending and continually inspiring generations. What are the steps that should be taken then to take better care of the dance community? I think there are two steps. Groups like Dancers Alliance are helping inform dancers of the legalities and the business side of being your own business as an artist. The other step is education. Educating dancers to know that what they are sharing with the world is their business. Yes it is a beautiful thing to pursue your dreams and not have to worry about a 9-5 if what you want to do is dance, but in a world where you have to make money to survive, you have to know business and be educated. There’s such a lack of that. I’m not sure why it’s so inconsistent. Once we inform dancers, I think they can take ownership of their careers, be proactive and create their own opportunities beyond a conventions, classes or backup dancing. I am sure there are 100 other ways we can infuse dance into culture if we can mature as whole business people. What’s next for you? This year I have a few films coming out. “Sugar Babies,” “A List” is a teen comedy, and I’ve got two thrillers along with some continued voiceover work. As a person, I’m dabbling in new production roles. I’m choreographing for Australia’s Glee Club, producing and writing my music and hopefully as things shape up, I’ll have new music rolling out. I can’t wait to share it because it will represent my taste as opposed to “Pretty Girl” which was made for a movie. For more on Alyson, head over to www.alysonstoner.com
42 BLEEP Photo by Chantz Hough
As a boy, Rey Ortiz was enamored with creating his own illustrations and he drew nonstop. Today, heâ€™s taking what he used to merely draw on paper, and turning it into the fashions worn by the likes of Bianca Del Rio. We talked with the emerging Puerto Rican designer about his passion for clothes, his inspirations as an artist and why you have to create for the love of the craft.
When did you start noticing what people were wearing were more than just garments and were someone’s creation? I grew up watching my mom make clothes as a seamstress and my grandfather was a seamster. I saw the creations my mom would make being worn by people, and the reason I took notice of it was that she had very happy customers. I want that too. What was the first article of clothing you remember creating? It was a Halloween costume for a friend. She wanted to be a white witch and was having a hard time finding witches that were white. It turned out to be an amazing, sexy outfit for her. Who are the designers you have looked up to and why? My mentor, Carlota Alfaro, an 80+ years old designer that taught me most of what I know today. I respect her so much I even call her “mother.” She taught me that design comes from within and that kindness guides us through the design process. She is a great example to follow because her spirit, kindness and skills match perfectly. To this day, she teaches fashion design in Puerto Rico and she was the
developer of the pattern making system used in the Island for over 40 years. I admire many other designers but she would be the ONE. Now that you’re a part of crafting the fashion people wear, what challenges do you face as an emerging designer? The biggest challenge isn’t technical. I find myself being my biggest challenge. I get into my head and I overthink the process but once I start doing it, everything else fades away. There’s always room for improvements, challenges and successes. Also, since I come from humble beginnings, the financial aspect is always challenging. But, it has never stopped me and, on the other hand, it gives me more desire to make it big and look back with a smile. Where does your inspiration come from now? A variety of sources. Fabric, I love fabric shopping. It’s relaxing and like therapy for me. I love to see designs that are not basic or cookie cutter. That’s something I really like creating. Whenever someone asks me for an outfit, I try to being something to the table that has some interest to it. What excites you about fashion today? I have an anti-cookie cutter policy that I apply as much as possible. Why design if it’s not bringing [something] new to the table. I’m excited by designs that push the envelope. I must add that lately I’ve seen many guys playing the “androgen” look and I’m kinda obsessed and happy for them. Viva-laexpression. Describe your aesthetic. Very structured. I love tailored pieces, I love to make a body look and feel amazing. Also, anything that challenges me when it comes to seaming. I love to create cool new ways to construct clothes and challenge myself technically. As society and culture continues to change and evolve, why do you think fashion will continue to matter as an
Photo by Rodolfo Sanchez
Photo by Chantz Hough
artform? Fashion will always be prominent because, in part, it creates identity and allows your inner self to be expressed externally. Even when people say that they don’t follow fashion, I guarantee you that they would have an opinion if asked. What drives you? To be able to do this full time. Right now, I’m not. I also have a personal challenge that I need to keep making my family and friends proud. What’s next? I am working on a few custom pieces for clients. I’ve done several clothing pieces for drag queens like Bianca Del Rio and Alyssa Edwards. I’ve made a few men’s fashions as well including ones that I wear myself. I’ve got lots of accessories, harnesses, bracelets - just cool stuff that I can make with leather. Leather is something I’ve been working a lot with lately.
It can be easy to see the fashion industry as only a place for huge designers and corporations. But with outlets like Etsy, people are able to sell their work. What is your practical advice for emerging artists who have a passion for design? As long as you do everything with passion, work hard, and have good technique, people will also value your work. You can’t fool people. They know who does it for just as business and who does it for the business and for the love of the craft. Don’t sell yourself short and work for free sometimes, it opens doors (trust me). For more information and to follow Rey, head over to www.Facebook.com/reyortizdesign, www.Instagram.com/ReyOrtiz.designer or to order custom pieces, email Rey at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The May issue of BLEEP features emerging designer Rey Ortiz, chart-topping rapper KB, Step Up: All In's Alyson Stoner, hip hoppers Pants Vel...
Published on Apr 30, 2015
The May issue of BLEEP features emerging designer Rey Ortiz, chart-topping rapper KB, Step Up: All In's Alyson Stoner, hip hoppers Pants Vel...