BEYOND THE STAGE
BEYOND the stage
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A little more than 5 years ago, the four original founders of Beyond The Stage sat down with an idea. Allison Lanza, Becca Mathias, Gabi Talisman and I were passionate about finding a way to bring you closer to your favorite artists and that’s what we decided to do. Thousands of texts, emails, Google Docs and Jonas Brothers memes later, the idea for a digital magazine was born. Fast forward a year, when we featured artists like Bea Miller, MAX, LIGHTS and more, creating a presence for our publication online and building our own site from scratch.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
GINA SCARPINO MANAGING EDITOR
CHELSEA GRESH PHOTO EDITOR
DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER
Fast forward to 2019, when we’ve released some of our best issues to date. Thanks to our incredible team and editorial board, we’ve worked with some of our favorite artists, favorite publicists and witnessed some of our favorite bands live.
Your Editor In Chief,
Addie Whelan Blake Charles Ivy Snadoval Joe Hernandez
From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you for being one of our readers and everything that you’ve done for us. We can’t wait to see what’s next for BTS and we hope you’re excited too. We hope you enjoy our 5 year anniversary issue!
Retrospectively, there’s nothing I would change. I’ve made some of my best friends working on BTS, learned some incredible things about working with a team and found some of the most talented writers and photographers in the country.
Addie Whelan Alyssa Buzzello Audrey Battis Bernadette Castillo Blake Nelson Chelsea Gresh Dana Jacobs Emily Nava Gina Scarpino Ivy Sandoval Jason Murray Joe Hernandez Maggie Montgomery Quinn Beaupre Raelena Kniff Sara Feigin Sarah Rodriquez
Read the latest news at: WWW.BEYONDTHESTAGEMAGAZINE.COM
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CONTENTS ON THE COVER
FEATURES AND FESTIVALS
30 HOODIE ALLEN 08 Wrabel 16 Spencer Sutherland 48 joan
23 The Regrettes: Tour Diary 26 Austin City Limits 40 Dessa 54 Allie X
04 Billy Raffoul 05 Noah Kahan 06 Mt. Joy 07 K. Flay 12 Phantogram 13 Reignwolf 14 Zara Larsson 15 Mallrat 20 Wilder Woods 21 Angels & Airwaves 29 Wallows 36 dodie 37 Yoke Lore 38 VALLEY 39 IDLES 44 The Hunna 45 Josh Groban 46 Houndmouth 47 The Who 52 Catfish & The Bottlemen 53 Avatar 58 Judah & The Lion 59 Japanese Breakfast 60 PRETTYMUCH
HOODIE ALLEN ON THE COVER
BLAKE NELSON - PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 2019
GINA SCARPINO - NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 2019
QUINN BEAUPRE - MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 2019
MAGGIE MONTGOMERY - NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 2019
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY BLAKE CHARLES
stunning example of the complex singersongwriter, Stephen Wrabel, known simply as Wrabel, is sharing stories that need to be told. Whether about heartbreak, loneliness, or the world around him, Wrabel has a remarkable ability of vividly putting his stories into catchy pop packages. His songs are subtle, yet demanding, with equal parts melodrama and pop appeal. While he started out making singer-songwriter style music, his breakthrough came from a very different musical world. Dutch EDM producer, Afrojack stumbled upon Wrabel’s original piano version of “10 Feet Tall”, and the rest is history. The booming production from Afrojack, paired with Wrabel’s soaring vocals and emotive lyrics proved to be the perfect pairing, as the track became a huge hit back in 2014, and Wrabel’s first song to chart internationally. “I feel like every EDM or DJ collaboration that I’ve done has usually been a song that first existed as a piano vocal. I remember Afrojack described it to me that he heard the ballad version of the song, and he heard the full crazy production in his head, with all the stuff that he ended up putting in it, which I think is so cool. One of the things I love most about dance music is how emotional it is. The best stuff, the stuff that transcends genres, I feel like is something that connects with people on an emotional level.” While both his solo material and collaborations had been connecting with people for some time, perhaps the most meaningful and impactful moment of his career thus far happened on his first tour, where he was opening for Andy Grammer and Gavin Degraw. After a show in Philadelphia, he met two transgender kids that were waiting outside the stage door to say hello. A quick chat turned into a two-hour hangout, Wrabel and the pair became friends. While he was touring almost nonstop at the time, they would all meet for coffee or a quick hangout whenever he was in Philadelphia. “I’ve been telling this story for a while now, and I can’t come up with a better way to say it than - they were just so simply themselves in a really powerful way. I feel like some of the most powerful stuff in life just happens like it’s a matter of fact. It’s a beautiful thing that doesn’t know it’s a beautiful thing. They were so themselves in a really simple way, and I don’t think they even realized what an effect they had on me, or on --I have to imagine-- so many people.” While he didn’t know it at the time, his connection with these kids would change not only his life, but the lives of countless members of the LGBT+ community all over the world. This chance encounter cemented not
only a friendship, but unknowingly began building the foundation for what he feels is his most important work thus far. “I was talking to one of them the day that federal protections for trans kids was taken out of schools, and hearing what it was like for them. The news is so scary right now and for the past couple years. It’s one thing to read a headline or a tweet, but it’s another thing to be talking to this kid who it’s completely affecting. Hearing what that day was like for a trans kid in public school broke my heart.” Despite the song’s massive impact, it took no massive struggle to create. The song was written, recorded and sent over to the kids on the same day. One of them immediately responded, insisting that Wrabel release the song for all to hear. Luckily, he listened. The song and video have since become more than just a song and a video; they have become a symbol of hope. The video is nothing short of a masterclass in visual storytelling. After the heartbreaking intro sets the scene, the following quote fills the screen: “In nature, a flock will attack any bird that is more colorful than the others because being different is seen as a threat.” Throughout the video, we see our protagonist, played by real life trangender man August Aiden, be treated like an outcast by their family and environment. As a way to express their gender identity, Aiden chooses to bind their chest, shave their head, and wear more masculine clothing. Watching Aiden’s journey of self acceptance, all while witnessing the hatred they endure from the world around them makes for a tough, yet important watch. “The Village” couldn’t be a more perfect song to accompany such a moving video, as Wrabel crying out that “There’s something wrong with the village” makes an already powerful statement all the more powerful. It’s no easy watch, but the video follows the idea that has given so many LGBT+ people comfort in even the darkest of times; it gets better. Ending with as powerful a statement as it started, the video closes with the following: “Dedicated to all the colorful birds.” The overwhelming response to both that song and video has made one thing clear; the colorful birds found their anthem. While “The Village” was a chapter in Wrabel’s career, he has countless stories left to tell. In the past, he had been known for taking a wistful, melancholic approach to pop music. Undeniably catchy production paired with heartbreaking lyrics, Wrabel had been drowning his sorrows in catchy pop hooks for the world to devour. Songs like “Bloodstain”,
“Sideways”, and of course his breakthrough single, “11 Blocks” show how Wrabel chose to repackaged his sadness. With his newly released one of those happy people - EP however, we see a much happier side of Wrabel, as he explores the complexities of embracing joy, while still acknowledging his own sadness. “The title [of the EP] came from me being the happiest I’ve ever been. I think people are used to me releasing really sad songs, so writing happy songs almost accidentally was really weird. It felt weird, but really exciting. I’m excited to be happy. I’m excited to feel good in my head and healthy and lowkey in love, and all these great things, but it’s hard to write about that, especially when you’re used to writing about the same boy that broke your heart a million years ago. I also thought it was really funny that one of the saddest songs on the record is called ‘Happy People’. I kinda liked what that said, because it’s playing with the happy and the sad.” Tracks like “Magic”, “Love to Love U”, and “Flying” show Wrabel leaning into his happiness for what feels like the first time. While he’s written love songs in the past, these tracks exude pure, unfiltered joy. Pure as they may be, his emotions manifest themselves in several ways throughout the project. On “The Real Thing”, we see Wrabel as not happy or sad, but as eager and optimistic. While he doesn’t know if this love is the real thing, he lets himself be excited about the possibility. The excitement may be cautious, but its excitement nonetheless. Even “Happy People”, which is very much a sad song to it’s core, plays with the idea that he’s overanalyzing his own happiness, and comparing it to the happiness he sees in others. Despite the newfound sunny disposition shown throughout much of the project, he in many ways still doesn’t see himself as one of those happy people. “The whole EP was kind of an accident. I had just come out of a record deal and kinda didn’t know what I was doing or what I was going to do or what I wanted to do. I felt a little confused. I wrote ‘Love to Love You’ and ‘The Real Thing’ on the same day. It kinda started with those, and a few other songs started creeping in and it was just kinda like, ‘I think we have a little body of work here.’” After splitting with his label and going independent, this EP marked new territory in Wrabel’s career. The ball was now in his court to make what he wanted, on his terms. In many ways, it also seemed to change his artistic paradigm. “We made a little label called ‘Big Gay Records’, and I think it really freed me up to create whatever. I think It’s really easy as a creator to think that if something works, that you should do it again, or variations of the same. For this EP, I felt so far away from that. I felt so far away from
trying to recreate ‘11 Blocks’, which I had been doing for two years. Even subconsciously, because you’re like, ‘This kinda worked, so what’s 12 blocks?’”
in a past life. Wrabel went on to co-write Rainbow single “Woman”, as well as over half of the tracks on Kesha’s yet to be released High Road album.
When he’s not busy working on his own material, Wrabel has worked closely with pop A-listers Kesha and P!nk, the latter of whom he got to record a duet with and open for on tour.
“She’s like the most inspiring person that I’ve ever worked with. It’s super cool and rare to have that connection with someone where you just feel like you can say anything and go there. Her commitment to an idea, and to seeing something through, and she has no ego which is so incredible to me. She’s so down to try any idea. She’s so down to dive into something and find out if it’s incredible or if it sucks, and that’s inspired me a lot.”
“We did a song together on Hurts2BHuman (P!nk’s latest album) called ‘90 Days’, and that was crazy to get the chance to record a duet with her. That was already hard enough to believe, and then to go in the studio and actually do it, and that was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing in my whole life.’ I was in the middle of the Ben Platt tour when we got a call that P!nk invited me out on the entire European leg of the Beautiful Trauma tour. For a part of the tour, I was just singing [‘90 Days’] with her, and then for a few of the dates she asked me to support. I mean, it’s crazy. She’s a true legend.” As if his work with P!nk wasn’t impressive enough, his relationship with Kesha was like fire meeting gasoline. The instant connection they shared was something special to them both, and they immediately began to ponder the possibility of them being closely connected
With freedom and inspiration flowing, Wrabel is planning on doing something he has yet to do in his career; release a full length album. Wrabel has put in the blood, sweat and tears that making a full length requires, but has unfortunately never seen one come to fruition. A milestone in any artists’ career, a full length for Wrabel feels like an inevitable reality. Full length or not however, Wrabel will without a doubt continue telling his story. Through breaking hearts, filling dancefloors and opening minds, Wrabel embodies the power and complexity of music at its finest.
QUINN BEAUPRE - MADISON, WI - AUGUST 2019
BERNADETTE CASTILLO - AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 2019
BLAKE NELSON - PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 2019
JOE HERNANDEZ - PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 2019
SPENCER SUTHERLAND PHOTOS BY SARA FEIGIN WORDS BY IVY SANDOVAL
erforming. Fans. Tours. The support. Having people shout lyrics back at you. All things a person pursuing a career in music dreams of doing and having. For pop and R&B singer-songwriter Spencer Sutherland, that dream is now a reality. Ending his first headlining tour in August, “The Freaking Out Tour,” with multiple sold-out shows, the 27-year-old could not be more excited for what his future holds. Sutherland’s music gives off a raw, authentic story in his lyrics with a strong R&B sound that has hints of soulful twist to it. Acoustic and electric guitar with bass and groovy beats that combine with Sutherland’s ability to hit low and high notes flawlessly creates music that’s sure to make you feel different emotions with each and every song. The Ohio native had an interesting jump start into music when he was given the opportunity to be apart of season 14 of the UK version of The X Factor. Although he didn’t make it far in the competition, that never discouraged the passionate singer. Reflecting back on that experience Sutherland said it helped him “find himself as a person and artist more.” Prior to audition-
ing in 2017, Sutherland had released a single called “Heartstrings” in 2013 which was put on U.S. radio rotation and then later released another single in 2015. In 2017, he made his debut appearance on U.S. TV with a performance of his single, “Selfish” which has gained over 1 million streams. Since then, the singer-songwriter has released a few other singles along with his debut EP NONE of this has been about you back in March of 2019. The five-track project showcases his signature soulful low and falsetto voice with a very much 60’s and 80’s inspired production. His electric breakup-anthem single, “Sweater,” which is featured on the EP, has gained a lot of success being featured on Apple Music’s playlists including Breaking Pop, Hot Tracks (#1 spot), Top Songs - Pop and Beats of the Week. His vulnerable yet lively single, “Freaking Out” has also seen success with making it to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. In an era where social media is very much prevalent and having a following gives you a sense of being in the public eye, taking a break to truly figure yourself out, especially as an artist can be tough. Listening to Sutherland’s music gives off a definite authentic feeling and tells the stories of different life experiences.
For Sutherland, it took a while and along with time away from performing, to truly get to the point where he was confident enough to put out his true life stories into the world and to be more authentic in his work. Taking a break from performing for almost six months, Sutherland used that time to indulge himself in songwriting and truly becoming defenseless with his emotions. He wanted to create music that not only people could connect to, but that would connect people together. The “Sweater” singer spoke on his writing process and how he had the privilege of working with his best friend, producer and member of Emblem3, Keaton Stromberg while writing. The rising artist expressed the importance of patience when it comes to writing and the vulnerability that is needed to create art and music that is genuine. What is needed to create music that tells a story and connects with people. Sutherland has shown definite growth as an artist as his sound, lyrics and mindset have changed since the beginning of his career. Sutherland’s love for music and authenticity shows when he expresses, “I’m in music to make real art that people can
really grasp onto and put their own story to.” His latest single, “Wallpaper,” from his debut EP NONE of this has been about you shows off his soulful vocals while telling the story of not being able to forget about a past relationship. The track’s dramatic background bass with fun beats and Sutherlands choir-inspired background melodies give off Bruno Mars mixed with AJR inspired vibes. His comedic take in the video on a seemingly somewhat serious situation takes a quick twist at the end. The visual shows how easily one’s brain can take control and play games with your head, but not letting that take over everything and not taking life so seriously. His success--even in the past year-- has been incredible as a starting artist since signing with BMG. In the past year, Sutherland has done quite a few shows and supported pop duo Jack and Jack alongside Alec Bailey on thier “A Good Friend Is Nice Tour.” Looking back on the past year, Sutherland is shocked by the support he has gained saying, “A year ago, I wouldn’t even be able to sell many tickets in New York.” Even though he doesn’t have the highest numbers in streams, the immense love and support from his fans over the past year could never compare to numbers on a screen. Getting the opportunity to meet and connect with fans while on tour has been such a mindblowing time in Sutherland’s life. “This is why I do what I do. I’ve opened for a lot of people and seeing their fans so pumped and the fact that that is happening to me is wild,” Sutherland said. “It’s on a small level for me, but I appreciate it so much.” His love for his fans is something that is definitely apparent throughout social media, through interactions and energy at his shows, and during the meet and greets. Spencer Sutherland is an artist who you can tell radiates good vibes, gratitude and an immense love and passion for his career. Sutherland is just getting started and there is no doubt his name is one that will be big one day. Sutherland is the rising artist whose honest and relatable lyrics along with his dedication is bringing something new to pop music. Sutherland is on the path to a long and successful career hopefully making it to the “Shawn Mendes level” he dreams of. His debut EP is available on any and all available streaming platforms and make sure to follow him on social media @spencermusic to stay up to date with him.
SARAH RODRIQUEZ - BROOKLYN, NY - SEPTEMBER 2019
ANGELS AND AIRWAVES JOE HERNANDEZ - PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 2019
THE REGRETTES TO U R
D I A R Y
CONTRIBUTIONS BY (IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER):
ALYSSA BUZZELLO, RAELENA KNIFF, BECCA MATHIAS, BLAKE CHARLES, DANA JACOBS
LOS ANGELES, CA
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS PHOTOS AND WORDS BY IVY SANDOVAL
Texas’ Austin City Limits Music Festival took place Oct. 4 - Oct. 6 and we are taking a look at the day-by-day coverage of the three-day festival. Although it was one of the hottest ACL weekends in history, with temperatures peaking in the high 90s, the sets were too cool to handle. The annual music festival is held every first and second weekend of October in Austin’s infamous Zilker Park. With seven different stages across the park, musicians from all over the world, including smaller, rising artists, to legendary, chart-topping artists were set to perform for the all-day, three-day weekend. Along with artists from all over the world, fans from all over the world traveled to the Lone Star State’s capital to experience sets by their favorite performers bringing a wide range of genres from indie, EDM and pop to rap and country. In between sets, fans were able to stay hydrated with multiple hydration stations and over 30 food booths to choose from local Austin-based restaurants along with cooling down and satisfying their sweet tooth with a few desserts. Day one of weekend one set the tone for an incredible rest of the weekend and what was to come at weekend two. Day one started off with performances by R&B/ soul singer, Alessia Lani at the smaller T-Mobile stage along with electronic-pop duo Houses. The day continued with performances from the likes of indie pop
queen King Princess, DJ Jai Wolf, RL Grime and Grammy-nominated K-Flay. King Princess took over the big Honda stage performing both old and new songs to get fans ready for the release of her now-available debut album, Cheap Queen. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter rocked the stage in an iconic all-white jumpsuit in honor of a new era with “Cheap Queen’s Revenge” in silver font on the back with her well-known number 69 on each back pocket of the jumpsuit. The confident, badass-esque attitude she gives off was felt during her set along with the constant love and empowerment from her fans. The headliners for the night, Tame Impala and Guns N’ Roses closed out the night with legendary performances bringing over 30,000 people to their sets. Australian psychedelic rock artist Tame Impala took over the main Honda Stage while Guns N’ Roses ended the night at the biggest main American Express stage with a two-and-a-half-hour set performing their biggest hits, bringing together fans of all ages. With men in their 60’s jamming out with younger men in their 20’s, it was a show that brought a lot of energy. After a long day one in the Texas heat, it was time to prepare for day two. Day two brought another packed day full of talented artists and mind-blowing sets from your favorite artists. Day two brought even
more excitement with artists such as Night Cap, indie duo Flora Cash, rapper Taylor Bennett, ACL alum who from the moment he stepped on stage got the crowd at the T-Mobile stage ready to party. Taking over the Miller Lite stage was pop singer-songwriter and producer FINNEAS, indie duo Hippie Sabotage, contemporary pop singer Kali Uchis and English singer James Blake. Other artists taking the ACL stages were Norwegian singer Sigrid, indie-pop band MisterWives, singer-songwriter Brittany Howard, who gave a powerful performance with her soulful voice and alternative band Judah and The Lion. Soulful pop singer-songwriter Patrick Droney gave an electrifying performance, at the smaller BMI stage, that even blew away attendees walking by with a set that was the epitome of passion. Headliner Billie Eilish took over ACL at the main Honda Stage, bringing over 30,000 people to her stage, where fans were packed and waiting for hours before her start time, holding her back - not even the cast boot on her foot. She rocked neon green from head to toe and gave fans one of the greatest sets of the weekend, bringing together thousands of fans for ballads, mosh-pits and of course her chart-topping singles. Headliner 21 Savage hyped up the crowd during his hour set at the T-Mobile stage. Ending day two was Childish Gambino, who has performed at ACL many times, with a high-energy and fan-interactive performance at the American Express Stage. Also ending the night was famous rock band, The Cure with a two-hour set. Another blazing hot day paired with possible exhaustion from the first two days didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop attendees from showing up for the final day of weekend one. Day three started with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Kevin Garrett who gave an amazing performance at the small BMI stage, rock band cleopatrick, Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin, English in
die-pop act The Japanese House, British rock band IDLES and Nigerian-Canadian rapper and singer Tobi. Also taking over day three was Australian techno producer FISHER, singer-songwriter BANKS, rock band Third Eye Blind, producer and DJ GRiZ, and pop-rock singer Bea Miller who, even with equipment difficulties, managed to pull off an amazing performance. Rocking in all black with her vibrant pink hair, she brought both fire and gold to the stage. Popular indie pop band LANY hit the Vbro stage performing old hits as well as new music and R&B/soul singer Pink Sweat$ packed the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage. One of the most highly-anticipated performances of the weekend was chart-topping, body-positive, empowering queen Lizzo who brought over 40,000 to the Miller Lite stage almost taking over the Honda stage nearby. This was a very different crowd from when she last performed at ACL back in 2016, at a much smaller stage with a noticeably smaller crowd. The Houston-born and raised artist gave one of the most lively and unforgettable performances of the whole weekend. Fans were also especially excited for Grammy-winning Kacey Musgraves, who gave an incredible, breathtaking performance rocking a beautiful two piece floral set as she also showed her Texas pride. Day three ended with Mumford and Sons who gave an electrifying and memorable two-hour performance, as well as Cardi B giving a (quite literally) ground-shaking performance at the Honda stage, although some fans were not very happy after she was 30 minutes late to her set, but overall was a great end to weekend one. This year’s Austin City Limits was one to remember and fans are already gearing up for next year’s with tickets already on sale and lineup announcements coming soon.
CHELSEA GRESH - CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 2019
HOODIE ALLEN PHOTOS BY GINA SCARPINO AND WORDS BY IVY SANDOVAL
or any aspiring artist, it takes a lot of work and dedication to put yourself out there and get recognized. It might be a bit easier in today’s world, with social media being so prevalent and part of our everyday routine. Whether you know from a young age you want to pursue music or start later in life, taking the initial jump to that begin that journey with endless possibilities can be quite daunting. Rapper Steven Adam Markowitz, professionally known as Hoodie Allen, knew from a young age he wanted to pursue music. He discovered his love for hip-hop and rap at 10 years old, rapping to beats he would find online. He then showcased his talent to the internet at 13 and to his friends and family and 16. Yet, like most aspiring artists who drop everything in the moment, he didn’t quit everything and dive right into music. He continued with high school, went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, from which he is a proud alum of as shown in his lyrics and after, managed to even land a job at Google. Although having a great job, Allen still knew he wanted to pursue music and went to multiple meetings with record labels that ultimately never pulled through. The Long Island-native decided to take a leap of faith and quit his job at Google, moving from San Francisco to Manhattan to pursue music full-time as an independent artist. Looking back, that decision definitely paid off — as he went from tech exec to a rap sensation. The now 31-year-old singer-songwriter, although still fully independent, has seen so much success already. His unique mix of hip-hop, pop and a bit of pop punk in his music, with his clever and fun lyrics makes his sound something so special and nothing like any other rapper or musician now. His debut EP landed a spot on Billboard’s Top Albums, gaining popularity from singles like, “No Interruption” and “No Faith In Brooklyn”, and soon after, he released his popular 2013 mixtape, Crew Cuts, and first full-length album, People Keep Talking. He has also collaborated with a multitude of artists, including the likes of Ed Sheeran, Chance the Rapper, Blackbear, Kyle, State Champs, MAX, Spencer Sutherland and many more, but yet still remaining under the radar to many people. The “Small Town” singer has just wrapped up his North American tour in October in celebration of his latest album Whatever, USA. The nine-track project tells the story of the ups and downs of the past few years — particularly while creating this new record. This new album brings some nostalgia of his early music like, his mixtapes Pep Rally and All American while also offering a whole new vibe for a brand new era. Living in New York, the rapper traveled back and forth to LA to write and record the album. Talking with Allen, he explained
how the distance of living in New York and recording in LA gave him a chance to live away without any pressure to be constantly working and in the studio and gain experiences to mold lyrics and inspiration to take back to LA. Whatever, USA is one of his most personal pieces, sharing personal experiences and an album that he felt was necessary to be vulnerable at the time. “I think music, in general, is at its best when you’re really vulnerable,” saying it was a more vulnerable process from the start to the release of the final product. With the new record, the rising hip-hop rapper aspired to evoke the feeling of “falling in and out of love with your surroundings,” and wanting fans to “find themselves and place themselves on the map of Whatever, USA.” And he succeeded. One of Allen’s now trademark moments live is the segment during his song, “Cake Boy” which he throws cakes into the crowd brought by fans before the show. “The reason these things became a thing in the first place was to have these exciting moments during a show.” Throwing cakes into the crowd and riding a blowup raft to surf the crowd have now become tradition for Hoodie Allen shows and making songs like “Cake Boy” even more popular live, hopefully making it a forever thing if fans are up for it. He says, “As long as they keep bringing cakes, I’ll keep doing it.” Apart from music, Allen has an immense love for his fans. “Since day one, before anyone cared, I made it a point to interact and comment with them-- the early days are where fans emerged. I always noticed that having real interactions with people and showing them I appreciate that, lead to them knowing how real I am.” Getting to meet fans on tour is one of his favorite parts although as
tour goes from interacting on the internet to real life, it gets harder to maintain interaction online. “I was always told it would be impossible to maintain connection all the time, but I like a challenge,” is his response to never wanting to break that bond as his goofy, but confident personality shines. “Even if I can’t physically respond to every single thing, there are different things I can do to keep it up. I feel like the reason I’ve been able to do this as long as I have is because of those relationships I’ve managed, and to have these people in my life. it’s never been unmanageable.” Allen is one to keep it real and genuine with himself and his fans. “I’m never too cool or too good for anyone to know how much the support means,” Growing a connection with his fans also means growing more comfortable as his fans have become with him getting to the point of roasting each other. “If you can get to the point where you can roast your fans and they’re like ‘Yes, thank you’, then, you’re doing something right.”
As an independent artist, he does mostly everything himself but has no problem with that. “If I’m not the biggest person in the world, at least I’m in control of my fan relationships, my distribution, when I want to tour, when I want to drop something and it’s been so powerful and real.” When asked what advice he had for other aspiring independent artists, he mentioned how some aspects of how he started getting recognitions are no longer prevalent anymore but, “People just have to be creative and find different ways to break though with the different platforms. Make stuff you love and think of who your potential audience is and how you can get in front of them, and once you do get some people, treat them well.” Hoodie Allen is one of the most passionate, downto-earth artists around and is truly the epitome of dedication and hard work — constantly releasing new music and giving his all for his fans, getting everything done, despite not having a label to back him. So what’s next for this rising star? For now Allen is planning to work on new music, release some singles, a possible acoustic project and a European leg of the Whatever, USA tour. There is no doubt he will do great things and he has proven that by his immense dedication and love for his career and his fans.
JOE HERNANDEZ - PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 2019
BLAKE NELSON - PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 2019
GINA SCARPINO - NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 2019
BERNADETTE CASTILLO - AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 2019
INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY EMILY NAVA
apper, poet, entrepreneur, author and so much more, Dessa, continues to conquer everything in her path. Recently, Dessa performed on “The Hamilton Mixtape,” alongside some of the biggest names in music. Now, she’s taken her “neuroscience-inspired” album, Chime to the stage alongside the Minnesota Orchestra to share her confidence and passion for music in front of a live audience. Prior to her performance at Chicago’s Thalia Hall, we spoke with Dessa on her latest collaborations, where her music is going next and more. Read on to learn more about the singer that continues to defy her own ideas. Describe your music to someone who may not have heard it before. If somebody hasn't heard the music before, it's a blend of hip hop and R&B and pop sounds, but with a lot of attention paid towards the lyrics. I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid and I hope you can hear that in the music. Some of our readers may know you from your contribution to the Hamilton Mixtape, what was that experience like? It was awesome. Getting a call from Lin Manuel obviously is a day-making sort of event so when he called and asked if I wanted to record it, I jumped at the chance. I'm part of a crew called Doomtree which is based in Minneapolis and I worked with my Doomtree cohort Lazerbeak and a musician named Andy Thompson to sing that one and submit it to the mixtape. Who are you inspired by musically? I don't know if I'm inspired by, in that, you try to be careful not to bite other artists so if I really like an artist, I would say that I'm careful to try not to gravitate to their sound because I don't want to inadvertently plagiarize anything. I think Billie Eilish has some cool stuff, I think Banks has some cool stuff. My bandmate Matthew was playing some of it in the car yesterday, it was awesome. You’re about to release your new album Sound the Bells, which features the Minnesota Orchestra, what can you tell us about it? So, that was one of my career highlights - I've been doing this a long time, so to receive an email from the Minnesota Orchestra with the invitation to collaborate on a record was really exciting. It's essentially like you're taking stage with like 75 other musicians to work together to make a collaborative project. It's ex
citing working with the orchestra, not just because of the talent, but because the dynamic is so good. You can be as small and delicate as a single harp or violin and as enormous as dozens of people playing at full volume together with all of these overlapping parts - I like that. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your songwriting process like? I tend to sort of capture little fragments of ideas all day and then when it's time to eventually put together a song I'll drag out those notebook pages of scrap material to try to assemble it. You also are a New York Times published author, can you tell us a little bit about that experience? I started writing when I was like a teenager and it's a
hard industry to figure out how to break into, at least it was for me. I first had the opportunity to write for the New York Times Magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a piece about travel. I was nervous, I was excited, I called my parents saying, "I can't believe I got this opportunity!" and when that went well, I later had the opportunity to also write a travel piece for the New York Times. Along with that, you published your own series of essays, My Own Devices, for someone who is just being introduced to you, what can you tell us about that? I've always been attracted to art that centers on true stories. I don't mean dramatizing a historical event as much as like, your friend who can tell a story the best at the bar because they have great comic timing and they're funny and they're expressive and they do all the voices
and they can think of the perfect metaphors to explain stuff. I like that kind of true storytelling, so that's the kind of work that I do on the page I think too. When it's successful, I think it's funny and poignant and I hope it sounds like it's the product of a curious, rigorous mind. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your favorite part of performing live? I really love harmonies. I think essentially feeling connected by a shared feeling with a lot of people in the same room. I really like how that feels, you know? When we're all making a similar face and we've all got similar feelings in our chest. I don't go to church, so that kind of
experience is very much a communion to me. What can we expect from you in the rest of the year? I will be heading, with a couple of my bandmates, Aby Wolf and Matthew Santos, to Cardiff, Wales to make our European orchestral debut. I'll be playing with them at BBC National Orchestra of Wales. And of course, we'll be releasing Sound the Bells so a lot of the next few months we'll be planning special performances and appearances to try to share that work live.
JOE HERNANDEZ - PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 2019
BLAKE NELSON - TROUTDALE, OR - AUGUST 2019
QUINN BEAUPRE - AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 2019
DANA JACOBS - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 2019
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY JOE HERNANDEZ
oming off what almost seemed like a co-headlining tour with flor, the 80’s synth pop duo joan are finally getting their chance at their very own headlining tour. “This flor tour has been really good for us. It’s the first tour maybe ever that we’ve been added on at the very beginning to help sell tickets. We’ve really gotten to see each city and see how many fans we have. To take that into our first headlining tour next year and be like ‘we can do this,’ it’s awesome,” says the duo. joan has come a long way since first releasing music in 2017, and are quickly becoming prominent names in the indie pop genre. Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford are the names behind joan. Both are from Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended the same school but at different times. Since Little Rock has a smaller music scene, the two met from playing the same shows while in different bands and eventually decided to work together to make music for film and TV. In about a five-hour period, Thomas and Rutherford came up with the majority of a song titled, “take me on,” which would become joan’s first single. “We were like, cool this is a band now,” the duo says. Overall the duo would call themselves pop heads, as that’s primarily what they listen to and the sound they gravitate toward. For their first EP, portra, the group was experimenting and playing with a lot of old keys and drum samples, but joan’s signature sound wasn’t intentional. “We didn’t sit down and go, ‘Let’s be an eighties thing,’ ” they explain. “We just really like those sounds and it just kind of happened. We like to chase feelings more than we do sonically, if that makes sense. Why does that sound from that record make us excited? And so we were just like, ‘Man I want that same feeling in our song.’ So we just chase that every time.” With no plans to move out to Los Angeles, the duo continues to operate from Little Rock. Whenever they are at home and off tour, the duo is in their home studio working on new music. “We treat it like a job. You know, as much of a job as we can,” Ruthorford explains. “But like from 10am to 5pm every day we’re in the studio. So usually, we’ll take voice notes that we’ve compiled and pick the ones that we like the best or are feeling really good on. We’ll kind of sit down and chase those ideas.” With their management based out of London, label based in Sweden and booking in New York, all of joan’s work is conducted online. For their next batch of songs, the band is flying a producer out to Little Rock for extra help. However, with further help from the internet, they’re able to set up a Dropbox folder full of songs and ideas to sift through ahead of time. joan isn’t an album band, and with the label deal they have in place and the way streaming is changing how people consume music, it works out well for everyone.
Releasing their EP portra wasn’t even part of the original plan. The duo at the time was trying to write as many songs as possible, and discovered that the group of songs they were working on were cohesive and fit well together. After releasing their second single, the plan was to release the collection of songs as an EP. joan isn’t against the idea of doing an album and the possibility is there, but as of now the duo are happy releasing smaller compilations and focusing on singles. “So far, it’s been really nice to focus on every song as almost its own entity. It’s still joan, but it feels like you could have one song that kind of lives in this vibe and this feeling sonically. Then, you can move to this song and it doesn’t necessarily have to live in the exact same space because it’s a single. Now, I hope that you could collect six of those and put them into a collection or compilation. We’re friends with bands that like to sit down and map out an album. We haven’t really had to do that or felt the need to do that yet.” With being an up and coming artist on the watch, one of the things joan is trying to get better at is working on music while they are on tour. Finding time during tour to work on music is tough, and when they do find time, it’s not ideal. The duo travels around the country in a van, with Ruthorford predominantly driving. Thomas may be in the back seat with headphones on and a mini keyboard, but it’s not the same as those artists who have the ability to tour in a large bus with a space in the back suited for focusing on writing. “For us, it’s been one of the biggest challenges as a band, writing on the road. But by the end of the tour, we’ll still have maybe 25 to 50 voice memos that we’ve done, maybe more. We may be like, ‘Oh, here’s a cool little vocal melody.’ I’ll show Steven something and he’ll go, ‘Hey, what about this drum part?’ Those kinds of things. But while we’re on stage, I’ll get a guitar idea and he has a beat, and that kind of stuff,” Thomas explains. Despite their busy tour schedule, joan was able to find time to release their latest single, “ease your mind” on October 18. With three weeks off before playing a short run of headlining shows and festivals in Asia, joan and their producer plan to focus on finishing up their next batch of songs. They hope to release new music prior to their first headlining tour in 2020, but are undecided if that will be a single or a follow up EP. Regardless, keep your eyes out for new music and an announcement of their upcoming tour. Keep watching as joan continues to grow and become a staple on the indie pop charts.
CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN ADDIE WHELAN - CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 2019
DANA JACOBS - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 2019
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY BLAKE CHARLES
Intriguing and unignorable, Allie X is an enigmatic presence in the world of pop. Her jet-black hair, striking outfits and impressive eyewear have become staples of her image, and the visual manifestation of the mystery that surrounds her. Presentation aside, Allie X, born Alexandra Hughes, uses her specific brand of pop brilliance to tell distinctly human stories. While her music is unashamedly pop, it’s a fresh and alluring take on the genre, through the eyes of an artist who’s dedicated to telling a story beyond just the music. In many ways, pop music is Allie’s medium for creating different musical universes in which her songs or projects inhabit. While it may seem as though her projects live in very separate worlds, there is one thing binding them all; the concept of X. The concept of X is something that Allie has been exploring heavily throughout her career. Used to describe the unknown and unexplained, X is an idea that cannot be defined. The idea of embracing uncertainty has always been a pillar of Allie’s artistic vision and the idea of X emcompasses that. “X is the freedom that I give myself to feel anything, and to be okay with not knowing anything. I think with a lot of pop stars of the past, there’s this idea that you’re supposed to be a role model and represent something to people. Almost like they’re supposed to be someone who you look to for how to live your life, and I’ve never really related to that. X is just my way of saying that I don’t know the answer, and if you don’t know the answer, that’s alright.” Allie’s willingness to embrace, dissect and question the very genre in which she operates is a testament to her creativity and boldness. Her debut project, appropriately titled, CollXtion I is a perfect example of this creativity and boldness in action. From head to toe, the seven-song project is chock-full of sticky hooks, punchy production and impactful lyrics, all delivered by the incredibly powerful vocals of Allie X. Her voice is strong yet emotive, and beautifully transforms itself to fit an array of different sounds and subjects throughout the project. With tracks like the quirky “Bitch”, the introspective “Good”, and the uplifting “Sanctuary”, Allie showcases her dynamic range of impressive vocal styles. Sonically, the project is a synth pop utopia. Track after track, Allie is accompanied by striking and shimmering production that doesn’t pull a single punch. Catchy and refined, with a distinct left-of-center edge, CollXtion I is a killer first piece of a never-ending puzzle. Her following project, CollXtion II works as a dark and diverse counterpart to CollXtion I. While CollXtion I wore it’s pop appeal front and center, CollXtion II’s pop appeal is a little more hidden. While still without
a doubt a pop project, it took risks that most pop projects don’t; and it paid off. Through experimenting with different sounds and even more distinct lyrics, a completely new musical universe arose. While opening tracks “Paper Love” and “Vintage” make for a peppy start to the record, the majority of record is distinctly less peppy. Take the ominous “Simon Says” for example, where Allie twists the famous children’s game, viewing the titular character as a sort of abuser and manipulator. It may be far darker than your average pop song, but it’s still absurdly catchy. Even more mellow cuts like “True Love Is Violent” and “Downtown”, which explore themes of heartbreak and mistreatment, are still pop songs to their core. The project largely feels like an exploration of different sounds and themes, wrapped up in an undeniably catchy and interesting pop package. “If we talk about the concept of X, I think it’s ultimately about finding my truth. Through each body of work I’ve been trying to do that and I continue to try and do that, so there’s a cohesiveness in that way. Like everyone else; I get older, I grow, I learn stuff and I think my work reflects wherever I’m at, at the time.” As a means to explore the concept of X, both CollXtion I and CollXtion II touch on the many ways to interpret or understand one’s true self. Often shown through personas or dualities, Allie is unafraid of stepping outside herself in order to gain a new perspective. Take the video for non-album single “All the Rage” for example; heavily featuring the idea of duality, Allie and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki exist as dueling, doppelganger-esque entities. With her third project Super Sunset, Allie decided to do an even deeper dive into the world of character-driven pop music, as she created three unique characters with distinct points of view and stories to tell. The Nun, the Hollywood Starlet and the Sci-Fi Girl all exist as vehicles to detail the ups-and-downs of living in Los Angeles, which Allie has called home since relocating from Canada in 2013. “I’m always exploring themes of duality and the shadow self and trying to figure out who I am. That’s been prevalent throughout all my records in different ways. With Super Sunset I really took it to the next level. I really wanted to have fun with it and play with these different characters.” While these characters represent very different entities, their stories all come together to create the enchanting world of Super Sunset. With tracks like “Not so Bad in LA” and “Girl of the Year”, we see these different characters searching for the heart of a city that oftentimes seems heartless. The project as a whole is perhaps her most cinematic, as a track like “Science”
takes a vivid and atmospheric look at the city through the lens of a late night drive. “The world is out of focus like all the passing cars” she sings, moments before the mighty yet ethereal chorus hits. With similar gusto, “Little Things” explores the image-obsessed LA archetype, as she admits that the little things have been weighing heavily on her self-image. The final chorus is pure bombast, as the little things cause her frustration to burst through the seams. The project is an ambitious exploration of the Los Angeles attitude, shown through each character’s unique kaleidoscopic paradigm. With three distinct projects under her belt, Allie X is showing no signs of slowing down. Her most recent single, “Fresh Laundry” very much feels like the first piece of a new musical universe. Taking a more melancholic approach to storytelling, Allie uses fresh laundry to describe her desire for a clean, balanced existence. It’s a poignant song, as the idea of fresh laundry conjures up a certain soft, clean, and comfortable feeling which Allie longs for. “I decided to show this idea that I’d written a long time ago which was, ‘I want to be near fresh laundry, it’s been too many years of not folding’. I added a melody to it that morning, and we kinda just went with it. No expectations, no sound in mind and that’s kinda what happened, which we felt really good about. It felt very fresh. When I think about what inspired me to write that lyric --which I had written on my phone in like 2017, around the time that CollXtion II came out-- it was literally just a thought that I
had. I felt really gross and dirty, and while I was living as an adult, I was not living a very elegant life. I just wrote, ‘I want to be near fresh laundry’ with the idea of wanting to be around stuff like clean towels.” While the song very much fits with the idea of X, it arose differently than much of Allie’s previous work. With no frame of reference or sound in mind, “Fresh Laundry” represents Allie at her most inspired. “We weren’t referencing anything, which is usually how a pop song gets started. You play a song and go, ‘Let’s write something like this’ or ‘Let’s do a throwback to this’ and with ‘Fresh Laundry’, we just did it. I had the acapella idea, we started playing something on guitar, and we didn’t say, ‘Let’s make sure it sounds like your other songs’, we just made it. It felt so right. I think evolution in art is cool. When I’m a fan of someone, I never say, ‘Why doesn’t this sound like their last record?’. That’s why we get into doing this in the first place. Not to sound selfish but its kinda for yourself, for when you have something to express.” While currently preparing for the next era of her career, Allie has also been on tour opening for MARINA in North American and Europe, where she’s been able to showcase quite a bit of new music. This, in many ways is a full circle moment for Allie, who has cited MARINA, formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds, as a huge source of inspiration. The pairing makes tons of sense as well, as they are both strong, distinct women who fall to the left of the pop spectrum. “For a female artist to lift up another female artist that’s in the same sort of lane as you is something you don’t always see. I feel like it was very generous of her and I feel really honored to be here. These venues are beautiful, and her whole team is treating us so nicely. All the goings on behind the scenes is probably the best I’ve seen on tour, so that side of it is awesome. I’ve looked up to her --in terms of the business and in terms of how she makes music-- she’s always been a guiding light for me of the kind of model of something I could do. I remember when I was just starting to write my own music and listening to ‘Shampain’ was just like revelation. I was like, ‘I could do something like that’. Her inspirations may come from far and wide, but Allie X’s music is unequivocally her own. She’s created a world where pop music walks the line between outlandish and accessible, while exploring the unknown parts of herself and the world around her. Never one to shy away from a little mystery, Allie requested that we end with the following quote: “Thank you, Mother. So lucky that I’m balanced now.”
JUDAH & THE LION AUDREY BATTIS - ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 2019
JAPANESE BREAKFAST JOE HERNANDEZ - PORTALAND, OR - AUGUST 2019
JASON MURRAY - SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 2019
1. Don’t Say It’s Over - Vacation Manor 2. Lose Control - Colony House 3. East Chicago, IN - Michigander 4. Malibu Nights - LANY 5. Fantasy Theme - Kevin Krauter 6. Yoko Ono - Solarsuit 7. T R N T - Andrew Belle 8. Warm Glow - Hippo Campus 9. Arabesque - Coldplay 10. Assume Form - James Blake 11. Daydreaming - Radiohead 12. It Might Be Time - Tame Impala 13. white noise - flor 14. Park Bench - VALLEY 15. What I Want - The Band CAMINO
FINNEAS | PHOTO BY GINA SCARPINO