Sight and Sound 10.2

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ISSUE 10.2 May / June 2018


Silicon Valley’s Innovative and Creative Culture

DJ DIRTYBEATS Aaron Schwartz

Sight & Sound Anjelah Johnson Liquid Agency CONTENT MAGAZINE, SAN JOSE $9.95

Akoma Arts

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e s o n to w n S a n J



C CONTENT ISSUE 10.2 “Sight and Sound” May / June 2018 Cultivator Daniel Garcia Editors Elizabeth Sullivan Kelsy Thompson, Grace Olivieri Samantha Tack, Marissa Ahmadkhani Circulation/Distribution Elle Mitchell Communication Manager Julia Canavese Community Partnerships Kristen Pfund

Designers Elle Mitchell, Maggie Moore Jeff Gardner Photographers Gregory Cortez, Arabela Espinoza Scott MacDonald, Robert Schultze Paul Ferradas, Joshua Marcotte Jacob Martinez, Joey Pisacane, Mark Chua Writers Brandon E. Roos, Cathleen Miller Michelle Runde, Nathan Zanon Johanna Hickle, Gillian Claus Daniel Codella, Tad Malone, Diane Solomon Marissa Ahmadkhani, Esther Young Kunal Sampat, Brooke Olsen Roush David Ma, Allen Johnson, Jeff Brummet

Publisher SVCreates You can begin to know a city by the sights and sounds you

Speaking of coffee, in this issue we feature Red Rock Coffee.

encounter as you move through its streets and pathways.

Not only do they craft great coffee drinks from fair-trade beans,

Each year we present some of the people who help make

they are also a great place to hang out to get a sense of the

up the visual and audio experiences that characterize our

Silicon Valley cafe vibe, from entrepreneurs planning their

city and region.

next company, to coders coding on their computers, to people listening to local music on an open-mic night.

We are honored to feature San Josean Anjelah Johnson, who has shared her experiences of the South Bay through her comic

Again, I am inspired by the few people we can feature in

characters and observational comedy. For the backdrop of

each issue. I hope that as you meet the people in this issue,

our interview and photo shoot, we worked with Winchester

you are also inspired by their work and lives and find a new

Mystery House, one of the local attractions and an historical

appreciation for our community—begin to sense the depth and

site that really showcases the uniqueness of our culture.

breadth of the creative culture of the South Bay and realize there are many more issues to fill in as the years go by.

Another aspect of our area is the branding and graphic-design creatives working with clients whose ideas ripple through the world. A few great examples of this are Liquid Agency, Cosmic, and Kevin Tudball. You have seen their work but maybe not even realized it. For example, if you happen to like

But for now, enjoy this year’s “Sight and Sound.” Enjoy. Daniel Garcia THE CULTIVATOR

Four Barrel or Verve Coffee, then you have experienced some of Kevin’s work.

IN THIS ISSUE Anjelah Johnson / Akoma Arts / Red Rock Coffee / Liquid Agency / Santa Clara Magazine To participate in Content Magazine: Subscription & advertising information available by contacting

CONTENT MAGAZINE is a bimonthly publication about the innovative and creative culture of Silicon Valley, published by



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May / June 2018 San Jose, California

SIGHT 08 San Jose Signs, Heather David 14 Artist, Anabella Piñon 20 Artist, Patrick Hobbie 24 Santa Clara Magazine, Steven Boyd Saum 28 BACK, Haley Cardamon 30 Photographer, John Agcaoili 34 BLiNK, Bill Lonero & Paul Ferradas 38 Liquid Agency, Scott Gardner 42 Eastridge Center, Rah Riley 46 Cosmic, Eric Ressler 50 Graphic Designer, Kevin Tudball

Anabella Piñon, pg. 14

SOUND 54 The Ritz, Corey O’Brien 58 Violinist, Alan Chen 62 Akoma Arts, Keith Hames 66 DJ DirtyBeats, Aaron Schwartz 68 Podcasters, WhatUp Silicon Valley, Creative Minds, Fanboy Planet 74 Cisco Kid, Joey Flores 76 School of Rock, Emma Preston & Riley Towle 82 Comedian, Anjelah Johnson FOOD/DRINK 88 Trifecta Cooks, Lai Chao, Ryan Gallego, & Jason Artajos 92 Red Rock Coffee, Tyler Toy

Cosmic, pg. 46

STYLE 96 West Valley College School of Art and Design 102 Album Picks, Needle to the Groove 104 Calendar 106 Contributors All materials in CONTENT MAGAZINE are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published, broadcast or modified in any way without the prior written consent of Silicon Valley Creates, or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of this content. For further information, or to participate in the production or distribution, please contact us at

ON COVER: DJ DirtBeats, Aaron Schwartz, by Jacob Martinez

Anjelah Johnson, pg. 82

Trifecta Cooks, pg. 88

works is your community art and performance center, a welcoming space where you can experience and create exhibits and events.

works is a creative laboratory where artists, audience, and ideas interact to expand the scope of cultural experience. now and next at works: anticipation: sjsu animation may 4 through 25 unity in diversity: design perspectives june 1 through 24 with san francisco design week works member exhibition august 3 through 19 (become a member!) imprint: art of memory september 7 through october 14 annual benefit art auction november 2 through december 8 works/san josĂŠ 365 south market street exhibits and exhibit guidelines: facebook, twitter, instagram: workssanjose

San Jose Written by Heather David Photography by Joshua Marcotte

San Jose Signs Project Facebook sanjosesignproject Preservation Action Council of San Jose 1650 Senter Road San Jose, CA 95112 408.998.8105 History San José


A Partnership Between the Community, Historical Organizations, and Local Businesses Cities across the United States are saying, “Our signs matter!” From historic and cultural markers to key components in urban renewal initiatives, signs are being embraced as local art and symbols of community and a fundamental sense of place. Cities such as Glendale, Las Vegas, and Cincinnati have state-of-the-art sign museums. There are public displays of local signs in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Los Angeles. Self-guided driving tours of signs are available in Tucson, San Francisco, and San Jose. There are walking tours, guided bus tours, bike tours, and virtual tours, too. One thing is for certain: the sign is back, and it means much more to people than a form of advertising. Here are some local favorites worth celebrating.


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O.C. McDonald (opposite, top)

Winchester Shopping Center (opposite, bottom)

1150 West San Carlos Street, circa late 1940s

Stevens Creek and Winchester Blvds, circa 1952

O.C. McDonald was founded by Oren Charles McDonald in 1906. We believe that the eye-popping animated roadside sign on West San Carlos Street dates to the late 1940s. For your commercial plumbing and HVAC needs, be sure to “Oh See!” O.C. McDonald.

The Winchester Shopping Center sign, with its giant red arrow and bouncy mid-century script, dates to around 1952. The sign has been dark for many years, but when it used to light up the night sky, the interior of the arrow was outlined in red neon, and the arrow flashed.


Babe the Muffler Man 808 The Alameda, circa early 1960s He’s the last muffler man publically standing in the Bay Area. Babe’s cousin in Hayward, Big Mike, moved into a private collection some years ago. Babe, a purchase from the International Fiberglass Company, first appeared on The Alameda in the 1960s. He was, and arguably still is, a brilliant piece of roadside advertising.

City Center Motel 45 E Reed Street, circa 1960 The neon diving lady sign at the City Center Motel arrived around 1960, following the addition of a swimming pool to the motel property. She is one of only two original motel-sign divers left in the entire state of California. 10

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Food Bowl Ann Darling Shopping Center 1625 McKee Road, circa 1959 The Ann Darling Shopping Center dates back to 1959. The “Food Bowl” portion of its flower-like Googie sign swings back and forth in the wind—it was probably motorized at one point in its life.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket 250 N Bascom Avenue, circa 1964 Want to know why people come from all over the country to photograph San Jose’s KFC bucket? It is one of the last in the country and the oldest still standing. Now, let’s get it spinning again.

Stephen’s Meat Products 105 S Montgomery Street, circa mid-1950s The Stephen’s Meat Products display sign was created by Electrical Products Corporation, as were the Hollywood sign in Hollywood, the spectacular Coca Cola billboard in San Francisco, and the Milk Farm highway sign in Dixon. Sadly, the pig has been a wallflower for a number of years. Help us get him dancing again by donating here: (select “Save the Dancing Pig” in the drop-down menu) 11


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“One thing is for certain: the sign is back, and it means much more to people than a form of advertising.”

Time Deli 349 S Bascom Avenue, circa 1950 Time Deli began its days as a neighborhood market run by the Carlino family. The sign was there when the Carlinos moved in, hence the original name of “Time Market.” Alas, the deli has closed, and the sign is dark. It’s time we figure out a way to get it switched on again.

Burbank Theater (opposite, top) 552 S Bascom Avenue, circa 1951 Designed by Cantin & Cantin, the 930-seat Burbank opened in September 1951. The theater closed in 1955, only to reopen in 1964 with a beautiful neon “Cinema” sign added to its marquee. Today, the Burbank is home to a dance studio, its notable sign dark.

Mr. T’s Liquor Locker

(opposite, bottom)

900 Lincoln Avenue, circa 1963 OK. Inquiring minds want to know: “Who was Mr. T?” And no, we are not talking the A-Team here. San Jose’s Mr. T predates the 1980s television show by about two decades. Someone out there has the answer.

Do you care about our signs? Get involved. The San Jose Signs Project (SJSP) is a partnership between the community, historical organizations, and local businesses. The mission of SJSP is threefold: to educate the public about, to advocate for, and to preserve historic signs in San Jose. For the latest San Jose sign news, follow SJSP on Facebook. The Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ) is working with city leaders to create a complete sign inventory and develop a proactive plan of action for historic sign preservation. PAC*SJ is also spearheading the repair and relighting of the once-animated Stephen’s Meat Products sign. Become a member of PAC*SJ and donate to the Save the Pig campaign. History San José (HSJ) has been generously providing storage space for displaced San Jose signs, with the hope that these signs will once again be on public display. Most of the signs in storage will need repair before being resurrected. Become a member and donate to History San Jose. C


Anabella Piñon Written by Tad Malone Photography by Daniel Garcia

Instagram rebella22

USING A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS, from photography to linoleum cuts, Piñon finds visual symbolism in the tumbleweed’s transient form. Art was always a big thing in Piñon’s household. She remembers seeing different types of drawings and architectural renderings laying around her house, an early inspiration for her own creative pursuits. Her father was an artist and a tradesman, and he encouraged his children to follow in his creative footsteps. “He was always drawing and painting, and he kept me and my sisters busy with different drawing and painting projects,” Piñon recalls. In high school, Piñon really started to get more serious about art. Starting with a photography class, Piñon enveloped herself in creative projects and credits different teachers with pushing her and other students to get exposure for their art. “They would show us a lot of types of art and really encouraged us to submit our art to galleries and festivals,” Piñon says. “Looking back, they were really progressive.” Born in San Jose, Piñon’s family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when she was 10 years old. After graduating high school, she moved back to San Jose, which she’s called home since. Piñon enrolled at De Anza College, where she was part of different group art shows and helped run a creative nonprofit in San Francisco. Around this time, Piñon started drawing tumbleweeds. “When I was a kid, we lived on two acres of land,” Piñon recalls. “So, I go from busy, multicultural, and diverse San Jose to Albuquerque, where one of my chores on the farm was to pull weeds.” The memory pleased her, so she got a tumbleweed tattoo. From there, the obsession with the weeds only grew. Then a couple years ago, Piñon started drawing tumbleweeds, making them bigger and more colorful and complex. “To me, the tumbleweed represents something that’s constantly growing and moving forward—even when they dry up, they move on and plant their seeds,” Piñon says. “I relate that to how I live my life: even if I get stuck behind a fence, I’m still going to push forward; I’m still going to be blown away and get planted somewhere else.”


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Anabella PiĂąon SnS 10.2



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“I’m driven by very simple things in life, so I’m inspired by just having time to devote to an artistic project. I’m also inspired by what artists around me are doing currently and the kind of impact they are making during their time.” –Anabella Piñon

Piñon soon found that aesthetic representations of tumbleweeds had some interesting applications. Using a variety of mediums, from 35mm film photography to acrylic paint, Piñon finds visual symbolism in the tumbleweed’s transient form. She also creates large-scale tumbleweeds and wheat pastes them or renders them with spray paint in public spaces, giving the tumbleweeds a more appropriate home—out in the wild. Piñon experiments with as many mediums and materials as she can to create the tumbleweeds. One of her more recent experiments used linoleum cuts to portray a skeletal tumbleweed form. Her most recent pieces incorporate tumbleweeds into figurative portraits, with the spindly shapes substituted for Frida Kahlo’s hair or Pancho Villa’s bandalero. The effect is harmonious, with the tumbleweeds dissolving into expressive shapes and tones, synthesizing the contrasts between real and artificial, manmade and natural. “Those recent pieces were born out of me thinking about how much weight these people, like Pancho Villa, had to carry and what that represents,” Piñon says. “I really wanted to give a value to the tumbleweeds, something most people walk right by or rip out of the ground.” Beyond the tumbleweeds, Piñon has an extensive background in the arts community, something she is quite modest about. She used to teach art, and she was heavily involved in curating and organizing art shows and volunteering at art workshops. Nowadays, Piñon mostly makes art for herself. “I’m driven by very simple things in life, so I’m inspired by just having time to devote to an artistic project. I’m also inspired by what artists around me are doing currently and the kind of impact they are making during their time,” Piñon shares. As for the future, Piñon plans to keep it low-key and cultivate the feeling of making art for herself. C


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PATRICK HOBBIE Written by Tad Malone Photography by Robert Schultze

Working in ink and watercolor, Patrick Hobbie creates entrancing portraits of animals that shine with a loose and energetic vibrancy. Artist Patrick Hobbie creates vibrantly colored ink and watercolor animal portraits that literally drip with a raw sense of expression. Originally from Dothan, Alabama, Hobbie took off to see the country after turning 18. At one time or another calling Atlanta, DC, or Portland home, Hobbie ended up spending most of his time in Austin, Texas. After 13 years there, work opportunities called him and his wife to the Bay Area—Mountain View in particular—where he continues to live. All that time, since he was a child even, Hobbie has been fascinated by art. Raised by a painter mother and photographer father, his household was usually bursting with creative energy. “We had an art studio in my house when I was growing up, which I think is pretty unique,” Hobbie recalls, adding, “I had art supplies at my disposal, and I feel very lucky for that. All of that was just commonplace for me.” Even though Hobbie wanted to follow a creative pursuit, he also wanted to take a different path than that of his parents, so he went to college for music and ended up playing in bands in Austin.

Social Media patrickhobbieart

Not long after, he started cooking, working his way up to line cook and eventually chef. All the while, his love of visual art waited in the shadows. It was only a few years ago that Hobbie started taking it more seriously. “I got the reaction from art that I always wanted from music or cooking. Finally, people were reacting a different way to the art I was making,” Hobbie recalls. “That really pushed art into being my main outlet for creativity.” Really, it’s no wonder. Hobbie’s art is captivating, consisting mostly of bright, loose ink and watercolor portraits that gleam with an aqueous vibrancy, drawing the eye in and holding it with a refined yet rough composition. Portraying mostly animals, Hobbie’s work is immediately recognizable, alluring, filling one—through colorful flicks of the artist’s wrist—with a sense of mysterious familiarity. Aesthetically speaking, Hobbie credits the raw, splattery art of Ralph Steadman and Italian watercolorist Agnes Cecile for his current style. But it’s the connection he makes with people that really gives him creative purpose. “The reason I do


animals is because of my daughter, who just turned eight. I used to do big abstract paintings, but then one day, I did a little ink and watercolor of a giraffe, and I got a reaction out of her.” After drafting up a few more animal portraits, Hobbie sold them at a craft fair and was amazed at the results. He realized that beyond abstract ambiguity and technical mastery, people can really relate to animals. “I love watching people’s reactions when they come by my booth; seeing their faces change is rewarding to me,” Hobbie says. “As someone who’s dabbled in other art forms, like cooking or music, as an artist, seeing that reaction from your art is an amazing feeling.” And unlike many of the creatives living (and barely surviving) in the Bay Area, Hobbie has found a wide array of outlets where he can get his work seen and sold. The watercolor portraits can be quickly rendered and are in dimensions that lend themselves to quickly made prints, so Hobbie sets up shop at different craft fairs, trade shows, and art events. In this last year, he has done more craft fair shows than ever before. Practically every weekend, one can find Hobbie selling his wares at a Bay Area craft show. “I think the Bay Area has been incredible for me as an artist,” Hobbie says, adding, “The amount of avenues there are for artists to get seen are tremendous; there are so many opportunities.” As for this coming year, Hobbie plans to sign up for just as many craft fairs and pop-up shops as he can. As for the future of his art, Hobbie doesn’t envision much deviation from his current style and purpose. “Every time I try to dabble in something else, I always end up coming back to animals.” Hobbie laughs, “With an animal, it’s alive, and it has a spirit. There’s a connection there.” C

“I think the Bay Area has been incredible for me as an artist. The amount of avenues there are for artists to get seen are tremendous; there are so many opportunities.”– Patrick Hobbie 23

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Written by Gillian Claus Photography by Scott MacDonald

Santa Clara Magazine Loyola Hall 101 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA 95053 Instagram santaclaramg Instagram (Steven) swamiriver


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Santa Clara Magazine

“Pay attention. Breathe life into the world there on the page.” – Steven Boyd Saum

For Steven Saum, telling stories means listening and thinking. Paying attention. And growing up in the 1970s, in a little town near Chicago, his initial perception of the world was informed by the Cold War. Nightly news hammered home looming nuclear threats, creating an atmosphere of apprehension and anxiety about what the “other side” might do. But the ’60s had an effect on American education which manifested in some extraordinary teachers in Saum’s high school. One taught Russian throughout the district, ultimately inspiring an exchange program with Leningrad for two of Saum’s four siblings. The other teacher introduced Saum to David Shipler’s Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams, which details profiles of average citizens in the Soviet Union—a book that would prove to be pivotal for him. “Here was a writer trying to help people understand who they are. That really struck a chord with me,” says Saum. “You didn’t get that in the news—a sense of what it was like for people every day.” The book fostered a love of writing and teaching in Saum—both fiction and creative nonfiction. After completing grad school, he moved to San Diego for a few years, taught, and pursued freelance writing. But then came the revolutions of 1989 in Ukraine. “I was really drawn to that part of the world I had been fascinated with for years. I thought, ‘This is the big story of the end of the 20th century.’ ” Saum, who speaks both Russian and Ukrainian, applied to

the Peace Corps, hoping to experience this story firsthand. He was accepted, and in 1994, found himself in Lutsk, a city of a quarter million, as one of only 10 people with access to email. He was drawn there, hoping to find a way to bring out narratives that were not allowed to be told. “As a teacher, you can help people develop their own tools for doing that. If you don’t tell your own story, there are lots of people ready to tell it for you—not necessarily the way you want it to be told.” He tried to immerse himself in the culture and the people around him. Teaching American studies and contemporary American literature, he assisted his colleagues with ways to teach English and critical thinking, a very new concept in the former Soviet Union. Most had never been allowed to venture beyond Jack London or Steinbeck and were delighted to experience more recent, politically diverse material. The British Council provided books and methodology, which enabled Saum to travel around the country doing workshops, working with Peace Corps people or other colleagues. In Ukraine’s bleak winter months, Saum would think of the teacher who gave him Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams and complain, “If you hadn’t given me that book, I wouldn’t be here now. Especially having moved from San Diego— what was I thinking?”


“It’s a cool gig, thinking about stories for a living.”


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– Steven Boyd Saum

Freezing weather was not the only challenge facing Saum in Ukraine. He was once arrested on the 4th of July, of all days. With the BBQ in the park rained out, he left his wet shirt hanging on the balcony and headed out with a companion to get more beer. But being in public without a shirt was a violation, and displaying tattoos usually indicated prison time. When the police duly stopped them, wanting to see papers, his explanation of quasi-diplomatic and special resident status didn’t cut it. “I am holding the document out, and the cuffs click on my wrists. So we went down to the jail.” He still manages to return to Eastern Europe fairly regularly as an election observer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). His last assignment was Belarus. “You knew the whole thing would be a charade, and OSCE had judged the one before not free and fair. Everyone knew who is going to win.” To assess an election, he gathers data, talking to commissioners and voters and surveying the situation on the ground. “Like when I was observing in Armenia a few years ago, there is a little polling station and a dozen guys in black leather jackets hanging out outside. They know everyone in this village, and they are making sure the right people vote or don’t.” Saum can listen without relying on an interpreter, which can be invaluable in getting the real picture. He stays in place until the polling station is closed, ballots are counted, and bags are transported to the regional commission. Now Saum is Senior Director, Messaging and Content Strategy, University Marketing and Communications at Santa Clara University which, his son says, makes it sound like he is in charge of propaganda. With changes he has implemented in the university magazine, Santa Clara Magazine, Saum hopes to infuse the university’s work with a certain level of storytelling. With fast-moving digital content and a more stately quarterly publication, a wide range of stories can be explored.

gain valuable experience, doing image research or compiling dossiers. But he also advises that they broaden their horizons. “Get outside the country— get outside this world that you know,” says Saum. “Pay attention. Breathe life into the world there on the page.” Saum himself can’t resist a blank sheet. “That is the part of me always interested in working on fiction or creative nonfiction. If I didn’t have to sleep so much, then it would be easy.” One current personal project, with a focus on the changing relationship of people to nature, “The Geography of Hell,” explores 13 places in California that have diabolical names. When he started working on the manuscript, he didn’t expect the devil’s winds to inflame the worst fire season in California or Diablo Canyon to contain California’s last nuclear power plant, slated to be shut down. As a parent, Saum worries about the changing dialogue in the world—the vitriol that has been unleashed with regard to politics, race, and gender. While his magazine caters to readers across the political spectrum, he never deviates from the ideals that continue to shape Santa Clara University. Saum has a feeling of care and respect for human beings, and that informs his editorial stance. “We obviously care for refugees; this is a school that was built by immigrants,” says Saum. He considers himself fortunate to spend his hours telling stories that might not be told otherwise. “It’s a cool gig,” Saum says, “thinking about stories for a living.” C

When people seek advice on how to get into publishing, Saum tells them to do their homework on the places they want to work at before making their pitch. While university magazines have the financial resources to hire top-flight illustrators from The New Yorker or writers from The Wall Street Journal, interns can learn on the job and



Written by Marissa Ahmadkhani Photography by Joey Pisacane Instagram bayareacreativesklub haleyonthemoon

Jumping in headfirst. That’s how Haley Cardamon would describe her explosive entry into the magazine industry. Born and raised in East San Jose, Cardamon harbors a deep love for not only the city of San Jose as a whole, but more specifically, the creativity and diversity she sees all around her— creativity that she believes is often overshadowed by San Jose’s notoriety in the tech industry. Cardamon has always been drawn to the creative world—particularly to the graffiti and underground art scene, which is featured prominently in her work. As she looks back on her journey, she laughs: “I’ve always been really into graffiti, but I kind of learned to keep that quiet. In middle school, I got suspended for it and had to do an anti-graffiti program and everything.” Today, Cardamon works to capture street art and more through her own artistic medium—photography. Gifted a camera while in high school, she began taking photos of the world around her, starting with architecture before moving into art. As her personal portfolio expanded, Cardamon knew that she wanted to compile and share her own work and initially set her sights on creating a lookbook. Upon further reflection, she realized that she could combine her lifelong propensity toward meeting new people with her love of art and could act as a conduit between artist and audience. In this way, the magazine Bay Area Creatives Klub, also referred to as BACK, was born. The first issue of BACK features an in-depth interview with San Francisco rapper Equipto. “That’s kind of how it started,” Cardamon explains. “I never even thought that he would answer my message. It took him awhile, but he did, and we did this super extensive interview. At that point, I just went with it and decided I was going to make a magazine.” Prior to the release of issue 1, Cardamon had no experience in magazine production, but she didn’t let that stop her. Looking back at the first and second issues of BACK, Cardamon notes the changes not just to the magazine itself, but also to her level of comfort and


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assurance. As she flips through the pages now, she points out the more streamlined look of issue 2. At just 20 years old, Cardamon often has to work hard to prove her drive and professionalism, but she doesn’t let that impede her goals. For Cardamon, 2017 was a transformative year. Once she knew that she wanted to seriously pursue publication, she decided to take a year off from school and completely dedicate herself to becoming acquainted with San Jose’s art scene. “I’d take my camera and just walk around downtown and go to art shows. A lot of the time, I’d go alone so that I could meet new people and just hand out my business cards to everyone.” For Cardamon, creating BACK has not only changed her timeline and career trajectory, but also her daily life. “I feel really proud,” she says, “and I’m always on the hunt for that hidden talent.” She has learned that the magazine industry is difficult in terms of profit, but money is not her main focus. Rather, she wants to be a mouthpiece for San Jose’s up-and-coming talent. “I want to get jobs for artists and show that San Jose is an art hub. Not just a tech city.” The positive feedback Cardamon receives is what is most important to her. “I want people to see me as someone who makes connections. You know, linking an artist with someone looking for a certain type of art. Or even just exposing audiences to artists that they don’t already know.” In addition to her magazine publication, Cardamon occasionally organizes giveaways and art shows, including her event, San Jose Day, which is held on April 8 and showcases local art. Currently, Haley is back in school at De Anza College and is on her way to finishing her degree in communications and media. She also works part-time at a custom display manufacturing company called Commercial Art Manufacturing and hopes to publish two issues of BACK per year. “Ideally, I do want this to open up to artists around the world, to travel for it, too, but right now I’m doing it for San Jose.” C

“I want to get jobs for artists and show that San Jose is an art hub. Not just a tech city.” – Haley Cardamon 29 SnS 10.2


John Agcaoili With a soft, alluring color palette and a videographer’s cinematic eye, John Agcaoili captures a sense of intimate distance. Written by Tad Malone Photography by Mark Chua

Instagram Facebook john.agcaoili

Whether it’s a fashion shoot or action shots of a Formula One race, photographer and videographer John Agcaoili brings a cinematic quality to his visual work. Born and raised in San Jose, Agcaoili always had an interest in the arts. After high school, he enrolled in the Art Institute of California in San Francisco. Back then, Agcaoili was more into the animation side of things—studying motion design, special effects, and animation—with the intention of working in the video game industry after graduation. He got his wish, scoring a job at top video game firm Electronic Arts in Redwood City, but his heart wasn’t in it. “It wasn’t something I was passionate about,” Agcaoili recalls. Hoping to refine his skills, he went back to school to finish up his degree in animation. One of his duties there was helping students build their portfolios, which required lots of photography. Already familiar with the camera, due to its use in rendering animation textures, Agcaoili gained a newfound passion for the medium. “It was during that time that I knew photography was the direction I wanted to go in,” he says. Unlike most people working the camera, Agcaoili learned photographic techniques backwards. Where many beginners develop a sense of lighting and perspective by endlessly tinkering with their

camera, Agcaoili had already learned a sense of light and color from 3D animation in programs like Maya (3D animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering software). “I applied that knowledge to the real world, and it kind of just worked out,” Agcaoili says of his roundabout apprenticeship. Photography was still a hobby until 2012, about two years after graduation. “That was when I started to get serious,” Agcaoili recalls. Only a few years later, he was able to make photography into a full-time career, for which Agcaoili credits the collaborative way he approached his camera work. He was also motivated by his fundamental aversion to the drudgery of day-in, day-out office work, something he experienced full well during his time at Electronic Arts. “I started surrounding myself with like-minded people, other creatives, and things moved forward pretty organically,” Agcaoili says on his trajectory, adding, “It wasn’t in the cards for me to plan it. It just evolved into a career.” Initially, Agcaoili found inspiration in photos he felt to be aesthetically pleasing or visually dynamic—a sense of visual drama still evident in his current work—crediting photographers like Annie Lebovitz for helping him define his sense of lighting and framing. Recently, Agcaoili has gotten into cinematography, using techniques he’s learned in still photography. And whereas earlier in his career

“My goal is to inspire the next generation. I know it’s kind of cliché to say you can do whatever you put your mind to, but I really believe that.” – John Agcaoili


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he had time to experiment for his own aesthetic development, with the commercial assignments that make up most of his current work, he has to rework and remodel his visions. “It’s a bit different when I’m adapting to an art director and executing their vision instead of my own,” Agcaoili relates. Regardless of reference or direction, Agcaoili produces spellbinding photographs that create a sense of intimacy and familiarity through the use of soft lighting and a sharper color palette. Whether it’s a photo of famed Formula One driver Mario Andretti gearing up for another lap or glossy portraits of high fashion, Agcaoili visually carves out his own world, while still making you feel like you’ve been there before. “Great photographers are able to build a relationship with their subject out of thin air, within seconds or minutes of starting the shoot. That’s a part of my process I feel is most important—building that connection,” Agcaoili says.

Agcaoili’s photography has taken him all over, with much of his work in collaboration with Darkside of the Moon Photography & Design, but one of his more recent projects he considers the biggest of his career—shooting portraits of traditional Polynesian tattooing in a show for the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Entitled “Tatau: Marks of Polynesia,” Agcaoili spent a year traveling the Pacific taking photographs, spending another year refining his photos in post-production. “Shooting for a museum was completely different, a whole different ball game for me,” Agcaoili says. As for the future, Agcaoili plans to continue what he’s doing—but with more of an impact. “My goal is to inspire the next generation. I know it’s kind of cliché to say you can do whatever you put your mind to, but I really believe that,” Agcaoili says. C



Written by Johanna Hickle

Creative Agency

Photography by Daniel Garcia

BLiNK Creative Agency Santa Clara 2175 De La Cruz Blvd, Unit D-2 Santa Clara, CA 95050 Social Media blinkcreativeagency

In an industrial part of town bordering San Jose International Airport, a revolutionary has taken up residence in one of the warehouses. The dieselpowered saws and construction-yellow Bobcats owned by the concrete contractor next door eye their new neighbor safely from behind a chainlink, barbed wire fence. Who is this newcomer? BLiNK Creative Agency. Tired of watching Silicon Valley’s creative exodus—artists feeling compelled to drive (or even move) to Oakland and San Francisco in search of places to express their imagination—Bill Lonero and Paul Ferradas decided it was time for a local alternative. “We’re finally here, so they can come on over,” Ferradas grins. The creation of BLiNK was far from instantaneous. Owner Lonero had been itching to convert the space into a photography studio ever since his band began using another part of the building for their rehearsal/recording studio. Though his main passion is music, he’s a strong believer that all creatives play on the same team. It ultimately took seven years for Lonero’s coveted space to finally become available, but after securing the spot, he recruited his longtime friend, fashion and advertising photographer Paul Ferradas, to oversee the operation. By bringing Ferradas on as general manager and creative director, Lonero was confident BLiNK could cater to the needs of photographers—providing the space and technical equipment currently in demand. With 15 years of experience and a strong track record, Ferradas also ensured connections with the industry’s local agencies. The next step was to find and recruit resident artists with skills in makeup, hair, set styling, and beyond. As this process is still ongoing, Lonero and Ferradas continue to add to this list with the intention of catering to as many niches as possible. “I want to have an umbrella of artists that we can call upon when the need arises,” Ferradas explains. With makeup, for instance, that means enlisting artists gifted in theatrical makeup, special effects, and natural styles.

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Bill Lonero (Front) and Paul Ferradas 35 (Back)

“You never know what’s going to come through the door. And that’s part of the magic.” – Paul Ferradas

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Besides the task of building a strong team, there was also the space itself to consider. To make it their own, Lonero and Ferradas needed to take the layout of the previous owner (a microphone company) and pull a grime-to-glamour transformation. When they first came into possession of the studio, “there was a bunch of machines and grease and dirt,” Lonero reminisced. In all, they spent half a year rolling up their sleeves and recruiting friends to help renovate the space. BLiNK opened January 1st of this year—a fitting time for a new beginning. BLiNK’s main attraction is its cycloramic wall. Also called an infinity wall, this cove consists of a smooth white surface with no visible corners. There is also a swanky loft where clients can either lounge on black leather couches or oversee the shoot as they lean on the sleek cable rail and dark wooden posts bordering the ledge. “Our whole thing is to provide a warm, welcoming environment,” Lonero says. “Art shouldn’t be cold. We try to make it personal.” Hoping to attract creatives of all kinds, Lonero and Ferradas aren’t limiting themselves to being “just a photography studio.” Though they expect plenty of fashion and still-life product shoots, all those with a creative bent (devotees from a variety of different mediums as well as hobbyists and professionals alike) are welcome to bring their ideas. “We want to cater to everybody’s needs—not only photo, but video, media, web design,” Ferradas confirms. “Anybody who wants to create, basically.” He later adds, “You never know what’s going to come through the door. And that’s part of the magic.” In addition to being a studio rental, BLiNK also offers workshops. “Yeah, you have YouTube,” Ferradas says, “but there’s nothing like meeting somebody face to face and being in that environment and asking questions.” Janice Daoud—a celebrity makeup artist who has worked with Rihanna and Usher—recently visited to teach established makeup artists about makeup kit organization. In May, renowned rock music photographer Neil Zlozower will share about his experience capturing legends like Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Guns N’ Roses (a perfect choice to fit both Ferradas’ passion for photography and Lonero’s passion for rock). Besides workshops, BLiNK also encourages creatives to meet each other and network through industry mixers hosted on the last Monday of every month. The hope is to be an incubator for new collaborations. “I know there are creatives down here in the South Bay,” Ferradas says. “They just need to come out from under their rocks.” C


“We set out to create a globally respected brand consultancy, one that blended logic and magic, and we did it in Silicon Valley.” –Scott Gardner, CEO and President

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LIQUID Scott Gardner Bringing Silicon Valley Thinking to the World

Over the last half century, Silicon Valley has become the global center of innovation—the world’s brightest minds flock here in droves. It’s the birthplace of some of the most groundbreaking companies in tech, and people have been trying to figure out what makes this place so unique for years. Governments have even spent billions of dollars trying to replicate it, failing miserably in the process. The magic, it seems, just can’t be reproduced. But Scott Gardner and his team at Liquid Agency figured out how to harness this magic and create one of the valley’s most valuable resources: Silicon Valley Thinking. Distilling decades of the area’s innovative spirit into this flexible methodology, Scott and company are building innovative brand experiences for clients that include Nike, Adidas, Walmart, HP, and GE.

Written by Daniel Codella Photography by Daniel Garcia

Liquid Agency Downtown San Jose 448 S Market Street San Jose, CA 95113 408.850.8800 Social Media liquidagency

Scott’s entrepreneurial nature became apparent in childhood. He was always trying to figure out ways to bring in money, from paper routes to mowing lawns. In college, he printed T-shirts and even started a small merchandising business. He got his first “real job” at a telecommunications company, but that only lasted 90 days. After swapping T-shirts for tickets to a sports game with a friend who led marketing for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Scott learned they spent millions of dollars on promotional items every year—and a light bulb went on. “I went home and told a guy I sold phones with what I learned, and he said, ‘Why are we selling phones? Let’s do this!’ So we quit our jobs and started a company that weekend.” In the early ’90s, computer companies were popping up all over the valley, and software and hardware sold for high prices at big-box tech chains like Computer City and CompUSA. Unlike consumer brands that gave away brand new Corvettes and tickets to the Super Bowl, promotions were nearly unheard of in the tech world, and Scott saw an opportunity to reinvent how marketing was done in Silicon Valley. He ran cross-promotional campaigns that connected tech companies with established brands, pairing Microsoft with Delta Air Lines and Symantec with The Sharper Image.


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“You have to find a tribe of people that will love your brand and tell others, and you do it through a strong culture. If you have a strong culture, you’re going to have a strong company.” – Scott Gardner

It wasn’t long before Scott’s disruptive approach caught the eyes of investors. In 1999, he was approached by an investment company that promised him fame and fortune, but the whole thing went south—he lost everything, including his marriage. “It was an incredible life lesson. I learned a lot of what not to do. But we still had a chance to turn the Etch A Sketch upside down. We set out to create a globally respected brand consultancy, one that blended logic and magic, and we did it in Silicon Valley.” And with that, Liquid Agency was born. More than a marketing company, Liquid is a brand experience agency that specializes in transforming cultures and helping companies find their “tribe.” Liquid doesn’t just make people aware of brands, it makes people fall in love with those brands. Scott understands that in today’s world, the customer is in control of your brand much more than you are. “People can now decide how they want to engage with brands,” says Scott. “You have to find a tribe of people that will love your brand and tell others, and you do it through a strong culture. If you have a strong culture, you’re going to have a strong company.” After working with Silicon Valley companies like Google and Intel, Scott and his team realized that fast production cycles were the key to these companies’ success. To help brands quickly transform their culture, they developed Silicon Valley Thinking, an approach that breaks down the valley’s unique execution mindset into a step-by-step process. “Typical businesses move slowly, but in tech there’s simply no time. You need to get the right brain trust together early, iterate constantly, and prototype as quickly as possible to get to market first—speed is essential,” says Scott. Liquid embeds themselves with their clients, working with them as partners. They swarm around ideas with kinetic energy, rapidly building out prototypes, which helps them get to the right answers faster than the competition. This method results in world-class brand experiences that capture the imagination and turn customers into lifelong fans. “We’re so fortunate to live in this valley. There’s so much opportunity, so many great people. We’re a people business. I wake up every day thankful and excited I get to do this. Not everybody has this,” shares Scott. No, not everyone is lucky enough to have what is here in Silicon Valley. As for the companies that come to him from around the globe, Scott is able to give them a little piece of our culture, thinking, and magic. C


SnS 10.2 Rah Marketing Manager 42 Riley,

Rah Riley, Marketing Manager

RAH RILEY Interview by Michelle Runde Photography by Daniel Garcia

eastrigeceEastridge Center Evergreen 2200 Eastridge Loop San Jose, CA 95122 Social Media eastridgecenter

– Thuc Vu

EASTRIDGE CENTER The Unexpected Heart of East San Jose

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“We’re a high-traffic epicenter of activity and diversity, and we want to embrace the best of San Jose and its community.” –Rah Riley Creativity and community engagement are not terms commonly associated with shopping malls. Spread liberally across the United States, malls are not wellknown for innovation. Rah Riley, marketing manager for the Eastridge Center in East San Jose, is changing that through art and creative programs. Riley knew there was enormous potential to transform the space—the fourth largest retail center in Silicon Valley—into a mecca for local art and design. There are four huge murals on the exterior of the Center. What was the inspiration behind those? Those were finished in early 2017, before I came on, each done by a local designer. The thinking was that they’d be an investment that would radiate out by supporting and celebrating local artists. The response has been incredible, and the feedback and community interest to collaborate has inspired a second wave of plans we’re calling “#EastridgeArt.” How do you think about integrating #EastridgeArt into the Center? We have programs that are doing this today that I’m really excited about. Every other Wednesday we host Open Space in the Community Wing for free. It’s a program for young artists to start sharing and collaborating on their work—a platform for the East San Jose voice. In my seven months we’ve had mariachi bands, ` Trung Thu moon Polynesian dance, a Bayanihan celebration, a Vietnamese Têt festival, lion dances, impromptu Bollywood, and ballet. We have an incredibly diverse population in East San Jose, and the Center really celebrates that multicultural core. We’ve also had events to introduce our larger projects. When the mural of the Bay Area was completed by artist Lila Gemellos, we hosted a pop-up park and had the karaoke ice cream truck Treatbot to celebrate. This year we’ve had drivein events near the Brendan Monroe mural with Victoria’s Secret’s PINK Bus, the Humane Society, and even the San Jose Public Library’s Maker[Space]Ship, a mobile workshop that connects people with technology and encourages problem solving through collaboration. This spring, the first community-produced mural is being painted as we look to the grand re-opening weekend in April and the launch of our new community wing.

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Entrance photo by Bernardo Grijalva

People might not think of malls or of East San Jose as hubs of creativity. How do you approach introducing these new experiences and connecting with the local community? It’s really about authentic partnerships and collaboration, and I look to current leaders in the community. Lorenz Dumuk, an amazing poet and local community organizer, is our host of Open Space. Our online video series Inner Circle is the work of Lailani Africa and Ruben Escalante, graduates of the San Jose–based art incubation center MACLA, which focuses on community transformation. I want Eastridge to support cultural events that are organized by local cultural organizations needing a venue and be a platform for community voice. What are you most excited about for this year? Definitely our grand re-opening weekend, April 6–8. The Center has been undergoing renovations, so it will be the time for visitors to see what’s new at Eastridge: a play area for kids, family lounges, fresh entrances, fully updated Center Court in the heart of the interior, added amenities, and, of course, our murals. We’ll also be opening the revamped community wing with two new community rooms. There will be a new community mural at the entrance to this space, and I hope local organizations, who are doing amazing work, will be excited to bring their brand and resources to Eastridge to be spotlighted by our marketing platforms and become more accessible to the people they want to reach. The goal is to have a full weekly schedule of after-school activities, music lessons, artist talks, fitness classes, performances, exhibits, and workshops like career development, personal finance, and grant writing. What keeps you inspired to create these new programs? While I’ve only been with Eastridge for seven months, with a space like this, there are so many opportunities I’m excited about; the hard part is picking which one! Ultimately, I want to give East San Jose the voice it deserves. We’re a high-traffic epicenter of activity and diversity, and we want to embrace the best of San Jose and its community. C


“Branding and marketing, they’re multipliers of impact.”

– Eric Ressler, Founder & Creative Director

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COSMIC Eric Ressler

Designing with a Purpose

“Branding and marketing, they’re multipliers of impact,” says Eric Ressler of Cosmic, a digital design and branding agency with a focus on social responsibility. “They have the ability to take an organization that’s only known in a small community and [make it] known around the world.” This is one of the concepts that Ressler and his team have introduced to both the nonprofit organizations they work with as well as the for-profit clientele that have a social cause cooked into their mission (think Warby Parker, which donates a pair of glasses for each pair purchased, or the Renewal Workshop, an apparel repurposing company that Cosmic works with). Their small firm, run out of a bright and spacious open office space in downtown Santa Cruz, has carved out a niche in the world of branding. “The main thing that sets us apart is that we specialize in what we call social-purpose branding,” Ressler says. A transplant from La Honda and San Diego, he moved to Santa Cruz to play bass in a band with some friends and experience a change of scenery. Although he never intended to stay long, he fell in love with the community. A self-proclaimed “design school dropout,” he began his career by doing freelance website work, eventually building enough of a network of clients to form a full-fledged design and branding agency, which he has now been running for about seven years.

Written by Nathan Zanon Photography by Daniel Garcia

Cosmic Downtown Santa Cruz 115 Cooper Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Instagram _designbycosmic Facebook designbycosmic Twitter designbycosmic

Ressler didn’t start out with the specific goal of working with socially conscious brands, but at a certain point, his feelings of responsibility to the community around him and the world at large made him ask some important questions of his own work. “What is our purpose as an agency? What are we trying to accomplish with the work that we’re creating? And then, what’s it doing for society?” he asks. It’s an idea that has also permeated Cosmic’s non-hierarchical office culture. “We’re very collaborative, very flat in terms of our structure. There’s not senior and junior designers here. The analogy that I like to make is that we’re kind of like a basketball team, and I’m the coach, versus, I’m the boss, and everyone else is my underling.” In addition to being non-hierarchical, the company maintains a fourday workweek, with Fridays off. “In the advertising world, there is a very high-pressure, always-on, always-working-late-nights, crazy-deadlines kind of culture, and we have decided to opt out of that,” Ressler exclaims. Cosmic gives staff three-day weekends every week so they can step away, recharge, have a life outside of work,


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and spend more time with family. “Creativity is not something that is sustainable in an environment where you’re overdoing it. You have to step away. You have to have room in your life for an idea to pop into your head—when you’re out surfing or when you’re in the shower—and if you don’t have time for that, your creativity starts to diminish,” Ressler adds. Working with nonprofits and social-purpose brands is not always easy. Budgets tend to be a challenge, and marketing isn’t always prioritized. “We find a lot of nonprofits have a zero marketing budget. People are spread very thin. Everyone wears a lot of hats, and there’s not a lot of overhead, so marketing can be kind of piecemeal,” Ressler says. Even worse, he maintains, society has a negative attitude toward nonprofits spending money on branding and marketing. Fortunately, Cosmic has experience with traditional corporate brands, along with a determination to find ways to make the marketing happen, no matter how small the budget. “Sometimes we get creative around where the funding comes from,” Ressler admits. “But learning from the corporate world—best practices around branding and marketing—and applying that to these social-purpose brands will allow them to actually achieve their mission much more quickly, more effectively, and to a deeper level.” C


Kevin Tudball Written by Michelle Runde Photography by Daniel Garcia Instagram kevintudball tudballdraws

Coffee and Ink

The man behind the graphic designs of iconic Bay Area–born brands.

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Branding for a company is a make or break affair. The right logo, the perfect print for merchandise— all of these things contribute to the creation of a successful brand. To make this happen, companies find graphic designers to bring their vision to life in 2D. Kevin Tudball, a Santa Cruz–based graphic designer and illustrator, is one of the creative minds behind the marketing success of iconic Bay Area companies Verve Coffee Roaster and Four Barrel Coffee. Inspired by his love of both surf and skate culture in California, Kevin brings his creative style to corporations as well as his own personal work.

half drawing. With an emphasis on hard lines and clean aesthetics, Kevin worked closely with Verve management to capture their vision. “I helped craft their brand, and I worked hand in hand with the owners to do that,” he said modestly. Verve developed a reputation for having beautiful merchandise, with illustrations ranging from detailed grizzly bears to vintage bikes, thanks in large part to Kevin.

Following his artistic aspirations, Kevin moved to Palo Alto in 2007 as a production artist for Frog Design, a global design tech firm. In 2008, he moved to Orange County to work as a graphic artist at the famous surfing brand O’Neill, where, for two years, he gained experience in the industry. When the recession hit, Kevin decided to take a break from office work and moved back to Santa Cruz in 2011.

After three years, Verve began to expand, and Kevin decided to look for other opportunities. “It was a very special time at the company, when they were starting to hire a lot more people for their new cafes. It was when they were expanding to outside of the Bay Area to LA and Japan.” In 2013, Kevin soon found a job in San Francisco as the art director for Four Barrel Coffee, and it was there that he began to develop his portfolio with new shading styles and more eclectic designs. “Four Barrel allowed me to expand my creativity quite a bit,” said Kevin. “Verve was a bit more polished as a brand. They cared a lot more about things like brand recognition or a consistent color palette.” While Verve was inspired by Apple, with an emphasis on simple and elegant designs, Four Barrel’s culture was more diverse. Kevin recalled the moment he first realized how different it was: “When I got to Four Barrel, the first thing they said was they didn’t have a logo, and they didn’t want a logo. That’s a cool idea, but very confusing to a designer. How would people know it was their stuff?” Along with creating a collection of logos, Kevin’s playful illustrations were soon splashed across merchandise and marketing material in all Four Barrel locations.

During this time, Kevin began working at cafes while picking up illustration gigs on the side. In 2011, he applied to be a barista at Verve, but what they saw instead was a resume full of design work. “It ended up being a perfect storm, because they were looking for a surf-wear designer and saw my design style and that I’d worked at O’Neill. I was just looking for coffee shop jobs, but they needed design help,” recalled Kevin. Upon being hired, he spent half his time serving coffee and the other

After three years of living in the city, Kevin was ready for a change. “I felt like I was finally ready to freelance, and it was the right time to leave.” Returning to Santa Cruz in 2016, he continued to do commission work for Four Barrel but was free to pursue other projects. Ever the nomad, Kevin will be living on the road with his girlfriend as they travel across the United States in 2018. As he finds new inspiration, admirers of Kevin’s work can expect to see new and exciting work coming soon.

Although Kevin was one of the key designers for Verve and Four Barrel, he wasn’t always in the boutique coffee industry. After graduating with a BA in graphic design and illustration from the University of Michigan in 2006, Kevin set his sights westward. “I knew that California had the kind of design that I wanted to be doing. All of my stuff is kind of illustrative, and the Midwest and East Coast tend to be a little more conservative in terms of design style, more of a clean and modern layout,” said Kevin. “In California it’s more illustrative, and most important for me, the surf and skate movement influences the design.”




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“I knew that California had the kind of design that I wanted to be doing.” –Kevin Tudball


Written by Brandon E. Roos Photography by Arabela Espinoza

The Ritz SoFA District 400 S 1st Street San Jose, CA 95113 Social Media theritzsj

The love for music was first ignited when Corey O’Brien was introduced to punk at Winchester Skatepark. In the years since, he’s worked to create spaces for live music in his hometown, often when none were available. The Ritz may seem to simply be an upgrade, a relocation and expansion of the former Blank Club. There are plenty of details—larger capacity, greater amenities, busy location—to support that claim. Given Corey O’Brien’s local history, though, there’s also something more personal at play. Music needs to live somewhere, somehow, some way—even if that involves trying to figure it out yourself—and O’Brien’s efforts as a promoter and club owner over the years have been guided by this principle. His efforts with the Blank Club were a reaction to the exodus of live music from downtown San Jose at the time. The Ritz continues these efforts by presenting great live music with all the bells and whistles O’Brien wished he’d had at the Blank. The Ritz also represents the revival of a storied club that was once a key component of the SoFA District’s former heyday. Well before the years of disrepair, when the reflective, scale-like tiles of the Angels sign swayed quietly in the breeze, the club was best known as F/X, then the Usual. O’Brien worked at F/X and frequented the club under both its F/X and Usual incarnations over the years, so the corner space has continued to carry an allure for him.

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“I always loved this room,” O’Brien reveals, seated at a stool in the club’s front bar—outfitted in all black. “It was a real scene down here that the people made. It wasn’t forced.” It took two years of discussion with the building owner to arrive at a deal, but in April 2015, one of the darkest spots in SoFA was finally reactivated. For O’Brien, skating and music have always gone hand in hand. “I got into music through the skate park,” he says, referring to the now-defunct Winchester Skatepark, his former stomping ground. “Back then, skateboarders got into punk pretty early. All the older people at the park were getting into punk, and we got into punk and started going to shows.” He and his friends would head to San Francisco multiple nights a week—to clubs like Mabuhay Gardens— catching Flipper, Black Flag, the Damned, and Dead Kennedys. Unlike his brother Gavin, lead singer of skate punk legend the Faction, O’Brien never joined a band, but he did try his hand at being a promoter. For his first show, he brought Social Distortion, a favorite of his at the time, to San Jose City College. Another effort was a backyard show featuring the hardcore groups Necros and Whitecross. “Back then, bands would hang out,” he explains. “So we would just approach them and try to get them to play down here. We’d rent a hall, and the next time they came up, they’d play here. At the time,” he adds, “there were no clubs in San Jose. Not one.”

“Back then, bands would hang out, so we would just approach them and try to get them to play down here.” – Corey O’Brien, Founder


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His skating career started to reach new heights at around the same time. In 1983, O’Brien placed sixth in the first street-skating contest ever held. In time, he went pro, with his tenure immortalized in video parts for both Santa Cruz Skateboards (Streets on Fire in 1989 and A Reason for Living in 1990) and Speed Wheels (Speed Freaks in 1989).

“There was nowhere to go anymore,” he recalls, and, once again, he wanted to help fill that cultural void. With Larry Trujillo, O’Brien led the charge to construct a space for live music when those rooms were growing more and more scarce. “We got some people together, borrowed a little bit here and there, and started the Blank Club—because we had to.”

While pro, O’Brien made stops throughout the US and across Europe for contests and demos. It was his first time traveling internationally, and though he wasn’t so fond of it at the time, it did have one huge upside. “We’d get off the plane, and if we had time before the contest or demo, we would look for record stores,” he shares. He began collecting records in the late ’70s, and he maintains he’s never sold any of them. Locally, O’Brien recalls digging for mostly rock and punk at places like the defunct Record Factory and Dedicated Record Collector, both formerly along Bascom Avenue.

The Blank Club opened in February 2003 and, during its 12-year run, featured Agent Orange, the Donnas, Fishbone, Flying Lotus, the Ataris, X, and plenty more. During that time, the tiny club carved out its place as the top rock venue in San Jose, yet O’Brien was never fully satisfied with the space. The small-capacity room couldn’t minimize the risk of a big-ticket show, and the tiny stage and lack of amenities was a hard sell for bands. Taking a leap of faith, O’Brien and company didn’t renew their lease, choosing instead to move their operation to the heart of downtown San Jose’s arts district.

He certainly remembers the SoFA’s former heyday, when places like the Cactus Club and Ajax had people swarming downtown San Jose on weekends. That’s likely what made it all the more striking when those venues slowly vanished, and SoFA, for a time, became a barren tale of former glory in the early 2000s.

The Ritz officially opened in April 2015 to plenty of local fanfare—and with good reason. Downtown San Jose had finally regained a midsize venue to accommodate touring acts, a long-missing piece in the city’s live music ecosystem.

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“We’re still having growing pains here, but I think it’s better for the city that we have this.”

–Corey O’Brien

Once inside, patrons walk past a front bar into an expansive room, the darkness bathed in deep red hues. A large bar area offers plenty of space for mingling, and a lowered floor helps partition the space, tracing out the pit for those looking to get as close to the music as possible. The Ritz’s 8,000 square feet triples the size of the Blank, and its capacity now tops 500.

In September 2017, the Ritz partnered with LA-based promotions company Spaceland Presents and has hosted the likes of reggae/dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry, alternative hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces, and indie rockers Japanese Breakfast. Spaceland also helped broker a deal with Noise Pop, normally a San Francisco–based festival, to bring some of their programming down south—a first for San Jose.

There are two greenrooms, a shower, and a washer and dryer for acts to use, along with an onstage mixing board and a custom-built subwoofer. It’s simple, but perhaps the better word is spartan, in the best sense—no nonsense, with the invested details helping to accentuate a fruitful live-music experience for listeners and providing a thoughtful stay for acts. The city has supported the club’s efforts from the start, providing city grants to help with permitting (Mayor Sam Liccardo even attended the Ritz’s VIP preview party). Over their nearly three-year run, they’ve welcomed groups like the Melvins, the English Beat, Fu Manchu, and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

It may be difficult work, but music’s always been a passion for O’Brien, well before it became his livelihood. He may be far removed from throwing backyard shows nowadays, but he maintains his efforts for the same simple reason: “I love doing it.” C

With the bigger space comes added pressure to succeed, and while they’re going on three years, O’Brien acknowledges it hasn’t been perfect. “We’re still having growing pains here,” he admits, “but I think it’s better for the city that we have this.”



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VIOLINIST ALAN CHEN HAS FOUND numerous avenues to showcase his talent, inserting his voice into contexts as varied as indie rock and classical music—but those chances appeared only after a much-needed hiatus from his instrument.

Written by Brandon E. Roos Photography by Robert Schultze

Instagram fingerstringflingringer

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“If you’re doing one thing and you’ve got blinders on for your whole life, you’ve got to turn around and ask yourself what you’re doing at some point.”– Alan Chen Violinist Alan Chen is incredibly articulate and expressive. He’s measured yet entirely transparent to the moment, peppering in quizzical, comical, and fervent accents to make his statements that much more expressive. “Playing the violin is a direct mirror of how I live my life,” he admits. If the inverse is true, his phrasings are an intimate insight into how effectively he draws his bow to finesse melody from his instrument. His varied musical projects may also indicate just how much he has to say with his fiddle, with each offering a different shade of his musical soul. Chen was born and raised in San Jose and began studying the violin at seven. He remembers how his mother, a piano teacher, would quiz him about composers they’d hear on the local classical station, KDFC. The sounds of Slayer, Pantera, and Metallica were present as well. He dabbled in guitar with friends in high school, but nothing captured the fervent focus tethered to his violin. He was accepted into the San Francisco Conservatory of Music out of high school, yet after only one year, he chose to step away. Too many years of obsessive musical focus had taken its toll. “I was just running on the hamster wheel,” he recalls of that time. Chen shifted his studies to San Jose State University (SJSU) for two years, though music was no longer his primary focus. “Even though it was what I wanted to do, as a person, if you’re doing one thing and you’ve got blinders on for your whole life, you’ve got to turn around and ask yourself what you’re doing at some point. Instead, I dropped out and ran away to Oregon for a few years.” Chen met a girl online and was granted his reason to get away, uprooting and moving to Beaverton, Oregon, in 2004. The relationship eventually deteriorated, and he came back to San Jose after close to four years away from home. Perhaps what’s most shocking is that, aside from one drunken night when he attempted in vain to regain command over an instrument he’d tried to master for half of his life, he largely kept his fiddle in its case until he returned.


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Back from his Oregon sojourn, he dove headfirst into teaching, offering lessons out of two music schools and his own studio for the better part of five years. He also reconnected with a few friends from Independence High School who offered him a chance to audition for their rock band, Curious Quail. “It kind of just fell into my lap to be honest,” he says of the chance, which proved a match. It was a surprising opportunity for a metalhead who never imagined he’d get to play his instrument of choice in a rock context. In 2013, Chen headed back to SJSU with a focus on violin performance, graduating in 2016. As it turns out, that pause did provide him with a fresh perspective once he returned. Sheet music— classical music in particular—became clearer. He says he caught the music department at a great time. “Through them, I really did come to know music as something that was a vibrant thing—more cultural, more connected.” Chen is currently in his second season with Chamber Music Silicon Valley—part of their Young Artists roster. The gig provides a chance to learn from world-class talent in his field, which he says “fulfills the whole academia-driven, high-level, high-expectation place in my life.” Curious Quail, in contrast, occupies a more loose, informal space. “It’s not like it’s not serious when you get on stage,” he’s quick to counter. “It’s a different color, not any less vibrant.” Then there’s NO/YA. Working within a loose, jam band framework, the trio’s sound, in his estimation, best aligns itself with the chilled-out, emotive, and woozy world of vaporwave. “If you were to hear me in that, you would hear me literally talking to you,” he admits. “I can actually speak through the instrument without the fetters of other people’s composition.” Chen still teaches, and thanks to his time away from his instrument, he’s more inclined nowadays to tell students to be unafraid to try new things. As his own example shows, sometimes you need to step away from what you truly love to regain your appreciation for it. C


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AKOMA ARTS An Experience That Opens Your Heart

It’s not surprising that Keith Hames named his performance ensemble Akoma Arts. The Akan people of Ghana call the human heart “akoma.” This word represents not only love, but patience, tolerance, faithfulness, goodwill, and unity. These are his values and the ethos of his West African ancestors. Since childhood, Hames has sung gospel and soul. At 12, he began playing the drums and forming bands, and while he may have come to San Jose for college, he stayed for the music. While raising a family with his wife, Melody, Hames worked as an art director for tech companies and performed with reggae, blues, and gospel groups. In the late 1970s, Hames became a devotee of the drum. He got hooked when he saw a group playing traditional West African music at San Jose City College, and in the 1990s, he joined Jaliya, a West African music troupe. In 2011, he and eleven others started Akoma Arts because they wanted to perform more and to teach drum and dance classes.

Written by Diane Solomon Photography by Daniel Garcia

Akoma Arts Alma Community Center 136 W Alma Avenue San Jose, CA 95110 Facebook akoma.arts Instagram mrakomaarts

Since 2011, Akoma Arts has used hundreds of performances, classes, and workshops to entertain and promote African music and culture. Twice a week, Hames holds drum and dance classes at the Alma Community Center in San Jose. The ensemble performs at community celebrations, civic events, weddings, museums, and at Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. The East Side Union High School District brings Akoma Arts to their schools for assemblies and workshops. The ensemble’s musicians play the ancestral music of West Africa on Ghanaian hand drums, bells, and rattles, accompanied by the group’s dancers. The heart of this music’s percussion is the djembe—a large, goblet-shaped, goatskin drum. The djembe’s name comes from the Mande phrase “anke djé anke bé,” which means “everyone gather together in peace.” In 2016, the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza gave a fiscal sponsorship to Akoma Arts, providing its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to the group. Tamara Alvarado, executive director of the School of Arts and Culture, says this decision

Left: Keith Hames, Founder and Artistic Director


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Standing L to R: Lisa Gaines , Leon Beauchman, Tiye Garrett, Lucurisa Hammork, Melody Hames, Malcolm Halcrombe, Carolyn Jones, Kathy Love - Stokes, Shauna Badger, Dani Wadlington. Seaeted: Keith Hames

was a “no-brainer.” Alvarado is also a member of Calpulli Tonalehqueh, an Aztec dance and cultural diffusion group that holds classes and ceremonies at Mexican Heritage Plaza. “Keith’s a healer, he’s our trusted elder, and he is crystal clear,” says Alvarado, “that ceremony, culture, identity, resistance, and solidarity must be key in our lives if we want to make this world better.” Alvarado adds, “We are all ceremonial people. You’ve got your emails, your laptops, cell phones, and all those things, but if you don’t connect with some form of ceremony, you lose your humanity.” Alvarado and Hames agree that Akoma Arts and Calpulli Tonalehqueh share a calling—the revival of their ancestors’ indigenous spiritual and cultural traditions. They were largely lost in the 15th through 19th centuries, when Europeans conquered Latin America and began a transatlantic slave trade. Akoma Arts’ mission is to bring people together and create community through drum, dance, and song. “We engage our audiences and get them up to dance,” says Lisa Gains, Akoma Arts’ dance director. “They realize that we’re sharing our culture, and that breaks down barriers between us.” Akoma Arts engages young audiences by showing them how to dance and play the drums. This often introduces African American students to their African heritage for the first time. “Many of them don’t feel seen,” says Gains. “We have impact—we plant a seed and give them something they can hold on to, something to be proud of.” Hames believes that traditional West African music can help people. He says that experiencing it promotes mental balance, and it can unify a group of strangers. When he sings and plays his djembe, he connects spiritually with his ancestors, and that’s a conduit to worship and well-being. This connection is available to everyone, which is why he’s so passionate about sharing it. “We’re stewards of African music, culture, and connection,” says Hames. “We’re sharing these songs, and we’re sharing an experience that opens your heart.” C





FOUNDING INSPIRATION THROUGH THE GIFT OF MUSIC and thanks for the close friendships that have come with it.

A love for underground bass music culture has guided Aaron. .Schwartz’s journey as both a DJ and producer. With a record. .deal newly inked, he’s set to continue sharing his heavy grooves. .and whirlwind rhythms..

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Since childhood, Aaron Schwartz has never stayed in one place very long, and over the years, that traveling spirit has carried him, sometimes on a whim, to places as far-flung as New York and Israel. Wanderlust is in his bones, but his one constant has been music— making it, sharing it, celebrating it.

“A lot of electronic music is creating loops then breaking them apart and arranging them. Usually, I’ll hear something. I won’t know what I’m doing half the time. That’s kind of what the art of it is.” –Aaron Schwartz

Schwartz, known by the stage name DirtyBeats, jokes that being born in Miami meant he was destined to love bass. In his early years, he moved back and forth from the North Bay to Boulder, Colorado, always emphasizing music in his life. “My mom always forced me to take some type of musical instrument class. It stuck with me,” he shares. Strangely enough, his mom is also the one who introduced him to electronic music. After returning from a trip to India in the late ’80s, she encouraged him to listen to a new type of music she had heard called acid house. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s, when electronic music was becoming more of an underground force stateside, that those sounds truly grabbed ahold of Schwartz.

he encountered could serve as source material for his music. Schwartz got into the habit of capturing everyday sounds with his field recorder, bringing the device along with him to capture a busy restaurant at night or the metallic clang of the light rail slowly chugging through the streets of downtown San Jose.

“High school is when I got into electronic music kind of hardcore, just going out and partying more. I started going to a lot more raves then,” he explains. Acid house may have been his entry point, but drum and bass was where he found love. His stage name, DirtyBeats, for instance, is an homage to a Roni Size track; Goldie and the Metalheadz crew remain an obsession, and it has long been his dream to sign to that label.

Take the title track from his Anubis EP, released in May 2017 through Dubstep SF. A phased-out Muslim call to prayer, recorded on his phone during his time in Israel, slowly builds to a drop that reveals a floating flute melody slinking in between metallic yelps and scratchy swoops, all underscored by subbass moving at dubstep’s signature half-time pace. It highlights his point perfectly: electronic music can build from practically anything to create an evocative mélange. Last year also welcomed the release of a more drum-and-bass focused effort, the Preon EP, through Bass Star Records.

At 16, he had his first shot on the decks, jumping on at an after party. “I know I didn’t sound good,” he laughs when thinking back. “When I started buying records, I didn’t understand sorting through and mixing by beats per minute, so I know it sounded jumbled.” Early on, his mom’s friends tried to start him off on slower music, but he insisted on mixing breakneck breakbeats, often moving at 160 beats per minute—an insanely fast and precise task to transition into for a beginner. However he did pick it up in time and, at the age of 18, won a DJ competition put on by San Rafael music shop Bananas at Large, which earned him a free mixer. His fascination with manipulating sound led him to study audio engineering at SF State. That experience also helped him discover that anything

“A lot of electronic music is creating loops then breaking them apart and arranging them. Usually, I’ll hear something. I won’t know what I’m doing half the time. That’s kind of what the art of it is.” A spark may come from one of the files in his huge sound library—a cache that’s crashed his computer on more than one occasion.

Written by Brandon E. Roos Photography by Jacob Martinez Facebook dirtybeatsfanpage Instagram deeplegends Twitter dirtybeatssf

After some hiccups and uncertainty, he recently received some good news: he’s back onboard with 50/50 Global EDM, a label associated with Sony Music. He’ll be rolling out three singles this year through their imprint: “Bring the Hype,” “Lahav,” and “The Giants.” Keeping in line with his established sound, the songs will feature elements of dubstep, drum and bass, and grime. “Part of me feels like when I do more production, the better events will come—festivals and that kind of stuff,” he states of his hopes for 2018. C


CREATIVE MINDS FANBOY PLANET Written by Kunal Sampat Photography by Daniel Garcia

WHATUP SILICON VALLEY The Authentic Voices of Podcasters Podcasts—on-demand audio or video programs—have been steadily gaining popularity among young and old. Podcasters are modern-day storytellers harnessing the power of the internet to share their message with thousands, if not millions, of people around the globe. With the tap of a finger on a smartphone, you can download an iOS or Android podcast app and gain access to hundreds of podcasts almost instantaneously. There is a podcast on every topic you can imagine—from self-improvement to urban farming to learning a new language. A quick Google search will bring up results for popular shows such as This American Life, Freakonomics Radio, and Talking Tech. And the best part: most content is available at no charge. In many cases, podcasters publish content simply as a labor of love for their communities. However, some creators may be compensated for brand mentions during the podcast or receive Patreon contributions from their listeners.

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Listeners can subscribe to podcasts and be notified every time new episodes are released. The beauty of podcasts is that you have the flexibility and choice of tuning in to your favorite shows anytime and anywhere. You can listen to podcasts while commuting, exercising, cooking, or even just relaxing at home. Podcast formats can range from interview-style episodes, where the host interviews a new guest every episode, to series solocasts, with engaging fiction or nonfiction stories. And podcasts aren’t just for adults—there are shows for kids of all ages, including bedtime stories and educational programs. Today, anyone with a microphone, recording device, and a message to share can start a podcast. However, you’d be wrong if you thought of podcasting as amateur radio. Many podcasts have highly curated and well-produced content. And, depending on what you listen to, you’re guaranteed to gain new and interesting perspectives that will inform and entertain you for hours on end. Here’s a group of Silicon Valley podcasters who are influencing our community and culture through their authentic voices.

“It all starts with your goal. Look at the sequence of events you are doing to accomplish those goals.”


The impetus for the Creative Minds podcast was a desire to explore the idea of creativity and the creative lives of human beings. The goal of the show is to inspire people to think creatively and learn from other creative people. Whether you’re already an artist or believe you have never done anything creative before, Chad Hall’s show will get you thinking outside the box in no time. People often think of creativity in terms of writing or painting—but programming is also creative. Everything we do—even something like planning a meal and putting together a grocery list—requires the use of the creative mind. Chad wants people to get acquainted with the idea that they are creative people with creative minds. Chad believes that creativity is the key to making the world a better place. Everybody has something to say; everybody is passionate about something. The problem isn’t what people believe in. It’s how they behave, the way they interact with each other. We are closed off, siloed, and protected—the exact opposite of what we need in order to be in a creative space. In a creative space, you are vulnerable, you are open, and you are generous. Creativity itself is inherently generous—to create something and put it in the world is to create for other people. If everyone did this, the world couldn’t help but improve.

The podcast delves into questions such as how someone recognizes that they are productive for the wrong reasons or really not productive at all. According to Chad, “It all starts with your goal. What’s your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Look at the sequence of events you are doing to accomplish those goals. If there are too many steps between you and that goal, then you’re not being productive.” He also suggests doing the things that will get you to your goal and throwing everything else out. “Don’t listen to advice from other people,” he says. “Figure out what works for you.” He wants listeners to know the importance of creativity. As human beings, we need wonder. We need to not know the answer to some things sometimes, because that is how we take the next step into something new. Creativity lives in the space between the absolute and the questionable. Creativity and productivity are the same thing.

– Chad Hall

Creative Minds Instagram therealchadhall

Creative Minds also features a monthly creative challenge. Chad wants to give people an actual place to start creating if they’ve never done it before and challenge those who already create. Each month has its own unique creative prompt—such as “rebirth,” for example. Listeners then have an opportunity to express what that prompt means to them. Maybe they want to take a photo, make a video, draw or paint something, program an 8-bit game, or even create a GIF. The goal is to create a community where people can look at what other people are doing, a place where people can fail. The podcast challenges listeners to make something, to be creators and not destroyers. 1


with Ric Bretschneider and Derek McCaw Fanboy Planet was born to give people a taste of the kind of conversation you would experience in a comic store. The show started with conversations around topics like “Was Superman Returns any good?” Today, the show boasts over 500 episodes covering comics, films, TV, board and electronic games, sci-fi, digital media, and more.

Ric Bretschneider

Derek McCaw started working on this project over a decade ago but has been writing about pop culture for nearly two decades. Derek and Ric Bretschneider frequented the same comic shop. Ric was working at Microsoft and wanted to do a podcast about PowerPoint. He had all the equipment to start a podcast but was not ready to take the leap until he met Derek. With Ric’s passion for high-quality audio production and Derek’s commitment as the podcast host and content creator, Fanboy Planet has been consistently producing rich content for their audience year after year. 2

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Derek McCaw

“Today the world knows a lot about entertainment and the process of entertainment.”

Fanboy Planet is recorded once a week, generally on Wednesday nights at the 7 Stars Bar & Grill in San Jose. Derek and Ric usually get together for dinner, record for an hour and a half, and then spend an hour making final edits before hitting publish. Their mission is to promote the people they like. They take pride in treating their guests like Hollywood stars and showcasing creations and characters that nobody knows about. For instance, Fanboy Planet featured Alexis E. Fajardo’s Kid Beowulf adventure graphic novel series in the early phases of the author’s career, long before many people knew about his work. Every day, Derek and Ric are inspired by graphic novels, films, news, and TV shows. Derek adds, “Today the world knows a lot about entertainment and the process of entertainment.” They get press releases with trailers for a new video release or a new board game. Their Facebook friends and Twitter connections are creators. Announcements on their social media feed have become a source for their daily inspiration.

– Derek McCaw

Fanboy Planet Facebook fanboyplanet Twitter fanboyplanet

When it comes to creating and sharing content, the two aren’t just looking for quick clicks. In fact, Derek recounts the discipline and rigor his high school journalism teacher put him through during his youth. Before hitting publish or accepting a new story at face value, Derek will ask himself, “Would my teacher have approved of this?” That is his compass. For Derek and Ric, the podcast is not about making money—it is an opportunity to meet people in the industry and make friends. Their networking and experience has given them amazing opportunities, such as allowing Derek to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a presenter on BBC Radio. They meet dozens of people every year at conferences and then keep in touch. If they find someone interesting or someone worth showcasing, they feature them on their show. This is how their circle always keeps growing. Fanboy Planet offers them a way to share their enthusiasm for something they enjoy. 3


with Sam Kabert, Sergio Oliveri, Hannah Duchesne, Jessica Smith, and Aubrie Avina

WhatUp Silicon Valley Facebook whatupsv Instagram whatupsv

WhatUp Silicon Valley is a network of podcasters, each having a particular area of expertise. The aim of the show has always been to highlight the South Bay. The show was started in January 2017 by Sam Kabert and Sergio Oliveri, who, along with their friend Palvinder Jagait, also run the Silicon Valley Young Professionals group. During the early days, the show focused on networking, events, and sports. Hannah Duchesne, Jessica Smith, and Aubrie Avina later joined as podcasters in January of 2018. Each of them produces a show on a different day—Monday through Friday—and together, they form WhatUp Silicon Valley. Sam is their fearless leader; he gets the ball rolling and keeps the team on track. He kicks off the week with his show, Mojo Monday. The concept for the show is to energize listeners with inspirational personal-development talk. Sam believes that with the right mindset, you can accomplish anything. Tuesdays are all about marketing and communication. Hannah, who has a background in marketing and branding, hosts South Bay Social. Hannah features Silicon Valley businesses and shares what marketers are doing right. She interviews South Bay industry experts on all things marketing. Through her show, Hannah teaches people how to build their own websites, hack their own SEO, and more. On Wednesdays, listeners get to enjoy WhatUp with Sam & Serg. The show shares stories of successful people from the South Bay. Guests are asked questions such as “What advice do you have for young


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professionals to set themselves up for success?” or “What did you do in your early days to get to where you are today?” People sometimes forget how many powerful things have come out of the Silicon Valley, but technology from the South Bay is used worldwide. There are a lot of people who have gotten their start here, and their stories need to be told. Showcasing these stories is the sole purpose of this show. Jessica leads the Thursday show, That Valley Vibe. The show is about strategic ways to find a job, build a personal brand, and get a promotion or an interview. Jessica has been a tech recruiter for over five years, has hired a lot of people, and knows what it takes. According to Jessica, pushing yourself beyond endurance is not the only path to success. It’s not so much about setting up your profile and interviewing correctly. “It’s more how you take care of yourself—mind, body, and spirit.” In each episode Jessica shares tools and wellness strategies successful people use in order to show up at work at a hundred percent capacity. Aubrie wraps up the week with her show, Sweet Home Silicon Valley. Being in real estate, Aubrie talks about not just housing but also the lifestyle side of things. She shares tips on how to decompress from a workweek or find a good hike. She loves to showcase hiking trails, outdoor parks, and activities that people can participate in. She hones in on the Silicon Valley community and lets people know what’s happening and where it’s happening.

People sometimes forget how many powerful things have come out of the Silicon Valley, but technology from the South Bay is used worldwide.

Hannah Duchesne | Sergio Oliveri | Jessica Smith | Aubrie Avina | Sam Kabert

Even though each podcaster hosts a distinct show, they have continuity from day to day as a group. Each month there is an overall umbrella topic that they all touch on. For instance, one month they might talk about goal setting, and the following month will be about taking action. Once a month, the five podcasters get together for Hustle Valley—a roundtable discussion recapping Silicon Valley Business Journal news—discuss the topic of the month, and, most importantly, inspire one another with new ideas and creative thoughts. C



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Joey Flores, Drummer and Band Leader

CISCO KID Joey “Jam” Flores pays tribute to War and to his uncles, Sonny and Rudy Madrid, who paved his way in the culture of music. As the bandleader of War tribute band Cisco Kid, Joey Flores is loyal to one vision: do it for the OGs. Though covering classics like “Low Rider” can be hit or miss, this eight-person band balances passion with the discipline and faith to pay good, honest tribute. With the support of original and current members, Cisco Kid honors War’s music through opportunities that have multiplied since they started in 2017—and it all started with a family business.

Written by Esther Young Photography by Joey Pisacane Instagram ciscokidband

When Joey was in high school, his uncle Sonny Madrid started Lowrider Magazine, the ongoing publication that first came out in 1977. Uncle Sonny was a photographer, and he wanted to do something about the gang warfare accompanying lowrider culture in pockets of San Jose. “He would take his camera to the corner of King and Story,” Joey recalls, “where he would cruise and talk to some of the kids: ‘Hey man, if I was to take pictures of you and your cars, would that stop this madness?’ ” Joey recalls that the magazine was not even 10 pages, black and white. “We were in Mom and Dad’s garage stapling—we had a little assembly line.” When Uncle Sonny showed those kids on the corner of King and Story the pages, their expressions said it all. Joey sensed the impact his uncle had made in his community. Put in charge of mail, Joey opened their first international subscription request: “I showed my aunt, like, what is that? She saw the address said Germany and another one that said Australia: ‘Oh shit, Sonny, we just went international!’ That’s when the whole Lowrider Magazine became a thing.” Sonny, the visionary, and Rudy Madrid, former bandleader of the Cruisers, both mentored their nephew. By the time Joey started Cisco Kid, a ready fan base had gathered around their legacy. “We had over 425 paid attendance in the ballroom. They had never even heard us. All they knew was it was Joey Jam, the nephew of Lowrider Magazine, and he’s got the Cisco Kid tribute band.” Though Cisco Kid began with six members, most of whom Joey met at his home church, Cathedral of Faith, vocalist Stefan Jones and guitarist Cory Clar make a total of eight. He credits his managers for keeping them focused, allowing one


“Robert and Anita always tell me: stick to your vision. When you start asking five or six other people for their opinions, you start getting sidetracked.” – Joey “Jam” Flores door to open after another. “Robert and Anita always tell me: stick to your vision,” he says. “When you start asking five or six other people for their opinions, you start getting sidetracked.” A gush of pride animates his story about finding his youngest band member, harpist Ryan Walker. While Joey had known other band members through close connections, finding Ryan was a matchmaking game. A harp teacher recommended him to Joey. “He sent me a picture. I was like, oh, white dude in San Jose has a ’fro like that?! And plays harp,” he exclaims. “Every band has that signature sound. With War, it’s that harp, that Lee Oskar sound.” When Ryan joined the band, the remaining original member of War mailed the band his blessing in the form of nine hundred dollars worth of harps, reeds, and cases last summer. But Cisco Kid is not limiting their repertoire to War’s hit singles. A lesser-known album released


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in 2014, Evolutionary, caught Joey by surprise. “I’m looking on Spotify going, War?! Wait a minute.” He anticipates similar reactions when he shows other fans the songs. “Oh man, is that Prince? No that’s War.” Joey tells the band, “Play it just like the album. Don’t rewrite the song. Listen to your parts.” But there are still moments during a performance to treat the audience to a solo. Like War, a “band’s band,” Cisco Kid’s musicianship is tight. “I invite musicians to come check us out.” On stage, Joey still remembers the first supporter of Cisco Kid. “Right before my uncle passed away, we were playing Music in the Park, and I made sure he had a front row seat right at the rail so he could be there next to me…and he had this beautiful grinning smile.” With that reminder, Cisco Kid is on the right path. C


Written by Brandon E. Roos Photography by Daniel Garcia

School of Rock Almaden 5035 Almaden Expy San Jose, CA 95118 Instagram schoolofrocksj Facebook schoolofrocksanjose

SCHOOL OF ROCK School of Rock San Jose may be part of a worldwide franchise, but it still conducts itself with the personal touch of a small business. Opened in October 2013 in a strip mall along Almaden Expressway, this small school is a labor of love first realized by Eric and London Delicath, who had an empowering mission in mind when starting the joint business effort. “Both Eric and I were musical quitters as kids,” jokes London Delicath, who headed west from Illinois for tech and then left a nine-year career with Apple to start School of Rock’s San Jose location. Both were passionate about punk while growing up in the Midwest. An ad in Entrepreneur magazine promoting School of Rock franchises caught London’s eye in 2011 while she was on maternity leave. As fans of both music and kids, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for the couple. She returned to Apple, but the ad stuck with her. A year later, the two finally decided to make a School of Rock in San Jose a reality. School of Rock takes its curriculum and philosophy from musician Paul Green. After inviting some of his students to jam with his band, he made a striking discovery: within a month, these students were progressing much faster than students that only received solo instruction. Acting on this breakthrough, he began to integrate group sessions into his curriculum, and he officially launched the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Philadelphia in 2002.


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Green’s efforts were captured by the 2005 documentary Rock School. He’s also quite likely the main inspiration behind Jack Black’s character, Dewey Finn, in the 2003 hit comedy School of Rock. In the years since, the Paul Green School of Rock Music has been rebranded to School of Rock and become a franchise. It now operates in 140 locations across the US and in eight countries around the world, from Canada and Mexico to South Africa and the Philippines. The schools offer both individual instruction and group study, and San Jose’s location offers programs for students as young as four. There’s performance group, which features groups of around 20 students rotating in and out of different four- or five-piece ensembles. For more advanced students, there’s audition-based house band. Students are accepted at any skill level, and each student’s part is tailored to fit his or her level of competence. In performance group and house band, instructors coach and correct in real time as needed, but as London emphasizes, “The goal is to teach them how to communicate together.” After four months, group performances culminate in community concerts based around a given artist, era, or theme. For example, “I Want My MTV” was organized around songs from key music videos during the network’s infancy. One past show even focused exclusively on the Beatles.

E M M A PRESTON Voice & Guitar

Though it was years before she’d take the stage, Emma Preston traces her first “performance” to a musical moment inside a car when she was five. “I cleared my throat, and everyone laughed,” she recalls. She informed everyone, to more laughs, that clearing her throat made her sing better. “I’ve been singing ever since,” she explains. Preston’s been studying voice and guitar since age eight and started at School of Rock San Jose two years ago. Now 17, she just began rehearsing for her sixth showcase at the school, a cycle based around the theme of protest rock, where she’ll be singing and playing rhythm guitar for Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black,” among other tunes.


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“Up on stage, I can just be free and the person I want to show people but probably shouldn’t, because it’s loud and big and sassy,” states the Leigh High School senior, finishing that final thought with a hearty laugh. “When you join a regular teenage band, someone has a setup in the garage, and that’s kind of where you exist,” she adds, “but here, I’ve played the State of the City address, Santana Row, Elk Grove—it’s a lot of fun.” Those performances also helped her land her latest gig: a former School of Rock member enjoyed her playing and asked her to play bass for the band Half Undressed.


R I L E Y T O W L E Drummer

Riley Towle’s first musical spark came thanks to children’s music group the Wiggles. “I know, it’s kind of weird,” the sixteen-year-old Lincoln High School sophomore laughs. “I saw the drummer, and I told my parents I wanted a drum set for my birthday.” He had a new kit and signed up for lessons when he turned four, and he’s been taking individual lessons once a week ever since. But it was his first show with School of Rock San Jose that helped him see a path to a full-time career in music. “It was this light bulb: this is how I’m going to take those steps and get to where I want to be,” he recalls. During his two years in the program, he branched out by learning to play guitar and bass. He even tried his hand at singing lead vocals.


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Towle admits that School of Rock took him very far during his time with the program. He had just arrived at a point where he had to strike out on his own. “That was the next step: learning how to write music instead of just playing it,” he says. He’s been working out that goal on two fronts. There’s Crosswalk, his pop punk five-piece, and Cultbusters, an indie rock trio. The latter just released their debut, Stop Being So Dumb.

“In most music schools, instructors come in, give the lesson, and leave. In our school, our entire teaching staff has to work together,” notes London, pointing out that their team emphasis forces instructors to be accountable in individual study to ensure their students are prepared for group performances. Of course, getting thrown into the mix with strangers as a beginner can be frightening, but she says the welcoming tone set by students and staff soon alleviates such fear. “Until you experience it, you don’t know how powerful it is to play music with other people and create something together,” she says. For Riley Towle, his first show with School of Rock was the catalyst that helped him piece together the possibilities. Suddenly, he and classmate Avery saw an avenue to make their dream come true—a breakthrough he never gained through years of individual drum instruction. “When we played that show, that was a moment where we thought this is what we want to do for a living. We don’t want to just play drums as a hobby; we want to get out there and perform,” he recalls. “I think that’s the biggest thing about School of Rock: they get you to have fun and collaborate.” Since leaving the school in early 2017, after two years of instruction, Riley’s gone on to form the bands Crosswalk and the Cultbusters. “That’s like the ultimate compliment to what we do,” says London when asked about Riley’s experience. “We’re launching them, and to watch them go and be inspired to do it on their own, aside from some of them wanting to come back and be teachers themselves, that’s the ultimate that you could hope for.” As for highlights, she mentions Annapurna “AP” Tobler, 2017 Drum Like a Girl Contest finalist and popular vote winner in the under-18 category—at only age 11. Yet London also highlights the impact of students who didn’t just find a path to a career—they found themselves. “We’ve got kids that just don’t fit in, that haven’t found their thing, and this becomes their thing,” she says. “I’ve cried with moms and dads [who said] thank you—their kids didn’t have a place until they came here, and this is their place. They found their people, and it’s going to leave an impact on their lives forever.”

showcase at the school and says that above all else, her time on stage has helped her show off her vibrant side. “I love being able to perform and be a little different than the person I portray myself as to regular people during the day,” she shares. However, after five years of building School of Rock San Jose into a successful venture that now reaches nearly 170 students, the Delicaths have chosen to step away. Starting in March, School of Rock San Jose will become a corporate venture. “It’s just a personal decision for us,” she says. “We’ve got three kids of our own, and for us, we feel it’s a natural breaking point. [The school is] something we can feel proud that we did and feel confident it’s going to carry on with the team we have here.” Though ownership may be changing hands, she says the School of Rock intends to retain her current staff. That news is encouraging to London, who stresses how the developed connection between students and their instructors is at the heart of the school’s success. In that sense, the mark the Delicaths have left in five years of business will endure long after their absence. “They’re the coolest group of people that I’ve ever had the chance to work with, because all of their motivations are really pure,” she concludes. “They want to pass on what someone gave to them, and they want to keep music alive.” C

Emma Preston has certainly seen a change in herself since starting at School of Rock, and she’s currently so involved that she’s dropping in for individual and group instruction no less than three times a week. She’s nearing her sixth



Writer / Johanna Hickle Photographer / Arabela Espinoza Talent / Anjelah Johnson Producer / Kristen Pfund Art Directior / Elle Mitchell Stylist / Mariana Kishimoto Hair Stylist / PJ Ciraulo Make-Up Artist / Renee Batres Sister Extraordinaire / Veronica Johnson Location / Winchester Mystery House Wardrobe / Scotch & Soda, Bonito Silicon Valley, Donald Pliner Social Media anjelahjohnson

Black star dress with sheer sleeves, Scotch & Soda; burgundy pumps, Donald Pliner 14

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“I think my natural gift is the ability to take people on a journey through a story—the ups and downs of the story, the rhythm of the story, the pauses of the story.” – Anjelah Johnson While other children played at house or hospital, Anjelah Johnson stacked books onto an imaginary desk, scattered papers everywhere, and fantasized that she was a stressed-out white-collar worker. “That was my dream growing up,” Anjelah reminisces. “When I become an adult, I’m going to have a messy desk and a phone and be stressed out from a long day at work.” Young Anjelah resolved to be a lawyer—mainly because they worked at desks. But that’s not quite how things turned out. Today, Anjelah works in front of a camera as a standup comic and actress rather than behind a desk. Like her unconventional childhood dream job, Anjelah probably doesn’t fit your expectations of a standard comic. For one thing, she prefers watching crime dramas (or as she puts it, “something murder-y”) to sitcoms. If Forensic Files isn’t on, then she’ll settle for Friends. But on a more profound level, Anjelah can’t be reduced to simply her stage presence. When she’s not entertaining under the spotlight, she’s still warm and friendly. She’s still humorous. But her vibe understandably shifts when she isn’t the focal point for a crowd of thousands. Her energy dips an octave into an easygoing assuredness, and her jokes highlight the color of her conversation rather than infuse each and every line. This dynamic is even more evident during a photoshoot, when Anjelah cracks a joke and pulls a silly face at a curious passerby before composing her features into model-serious expressions for the camera. This entertainer’s delightful sense of humor is an indisputable part of her personality. There are many flavors of comedy, and Anjelah prefers anecdotes over one-liners. “I think my natural gift is the ability to take people on a journey through a story—the ups and downs of the story, the rhythm of the story, the pauses of the story,” she explains. She also possesses quite the arsenal of impersonations and accents. In fact, one particular accent and her experiences at a nail salon would fuel the launch of her career. It 16

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started with a need for material for a free joke-writing class. When Anjelah signed up, she had only recently moved from her Bay Area hometown. She was new to LA, finding her way among the city’s colony of actress hopefuls. For the class, Anjelah wrote about a conversation she’d had with her nail salon lady, Tammy. The skit was posted on YouTube, and then, all of a sudden, a lot of attention was coming Anjelah’s way. “My messages from people started blowing up,” she recalls. “I had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of messages from people all over the world.” They wanted her to come perform. People in the industry wanted to meet her. At the time, she had all of 12 minutes of material. “I didn’t know how to be famous. I didn’t know how to have fans,” Anjelah remembers. “I thought I was supposed to respond to every person who messaged me, so I would spend hours upon hours replying to people. It was exhausting.” At one point, Anjelah remembers thinking, “OK. This is either a little phase I’m going through, or this is the beginning of the rest of my life.” It quickly became evident that her career as a comedian was not temporary. At the beginning of 2007, Anjelah had no bank account, no auditions, no agent, and nothing affirming she was on the right track. By the end of that year, she had an agent, a manager, a spot on MADtv, and a headlining standup act touring the country. Since then, she has appeared in commercials, guest starred in TV shows like The Shield and Ugly Betty, and appeared in films such as Our Family Wedding, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Two of her acts are featured on Netflix, and from January to June of this year, she’s booked for 88 standup shows. Anjelah is, perhaps, best known for a role she fashioned for MADtv. The character, Bon Qui Qui, is a sassy food-service employee working through an “out-of-the-hood” program. As cashier, Bon Qui Qui


Rust velvet blazer, Bonito Silicon Valley; black cami, Scotch & Soda; green glitter shorts, Bonito Silicon Valley SnS 10.2


Gold suit pants, Bonito Silicon Valley; black lace top, Bonito Silicon Valley

“Trust the journey and the process that you’re on, and grow where you’re planted.” – Anjelah Johnson welcomes customers with “Welcome to King Burger, where we can do it your way, but don’t get crazy.” Anjelah says the character is fashioned after her “ghetto fabulous” little brother, Kennie. “Pretty much whatever my brother says, I put into Bon Qui Qui’s mouth.” Another source of inspiration was a girl from a drive-through in Memphis, Tennessee. “It was her disregard for other people,” Anjelah remarks. “She was not very self-aware in the way she communicated—but she was very confident. It was almost like I was at her house asking her to make me some food.” Unsurprisingly, the larger-than-life Bon Qui Qui broke out of her MADtv skit and proceeded to strut her way through a number of music videos, pursing her lips and flourishing her talon-length decals disapprovingly at anyone in close proximity. Her videos portray an alternate reality, where you can persuade kidnappers to let you go by pulling some dance moves and thug life consists of temporary tattoos and threatening people with squirt guns held sideways. There’s something appealing about the filming environment, Anjelah notes. “If you’ve ever gone to summer camp—that’s what filming a movie is like. You meet all these new friends and you bond, and it’s a cool experience for however long that is.” Her hope is to act in the next breakout TV show, but she recognizes the importance of appreciating where she’s at. “Trust the journey and the process that you’re on,” she advises. “And grow where you’re planted.” Such sage advice is one final reminder that Anjelah is not your cookie-cutter comedian. C


Interview by Brooke Olsen Roush


Photography by Arabela Espinoza

Sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami

Trifecta Cooks Instagram trifectacooks Facebook trifectacooks

Trifecta Cooks is a brotherhood of three chefs—Lai Chao, Ryan Gallego, and Jason Artajos—who, for over 13 years, have chopped, seared, and rolled sushi in some of the best kitchens in the Bay Area. Despite their recent success, they are quick to pay homage to the collaborative culture of the culinary community, crediting several local chefs with introducing them to new flavors and species of fish that have become the core of their menu. What spice best defines your individual flavor profile? LC: Mine is easy: Thai chili. We borrow from Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines, and a lot of our food reflects that. I grew up eating spicy, so I can’t go without it. It has to be a special chili, though—the one that my mom grows from seeds that she had in Thailand. When I go back home, I always grab some of my mom’s peppers. RG: Growing up in my house, my parents used a lot of fish sauce instead of salt, so that is a distinct flavor and smell for me. When I was younger, my dad would always make scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes, and fish sauce, and it was—it is—amazing. JA: For me, it has to be vinegar. I put it in almost anything. I like that sour taste, and my dad always used vinegar. People will look at me when I’m eating and wonder why I’m putting vinegar over everything, but I’m like, “Why not? Leave me alone.” What part of your menu best represents how your individual flavor profiles have blended? RG: Lai’s crack sauce. We call it “crack sauce” because it’s super addictive. JA: Oysters, eggrolls, any kind of protein—it’s the dipping sauce for everything. LC: Yeah. You could say the crack sauce. It’s umami. Where do you bring the most value to Trifecta Cooks? LC: Shopping for the food. I could spend hours in a supermarket. The Asian markets have so many different kinds of fresh fish that you just want to buy them all and find out what they taste like. RG: I look at our account and pay attention to the bills. I also think a lot about how we can plate our dishes differently and what we should add to our menu. I like to be on the creative side and see what we can improve upon. JA: I like the prepping and keeping the tradition alive, like my

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Ryan Gallego, Lai Chao, and Jason Artajos SnS 10.2 21 Chefs:



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“A huge part of what we are doing right now is because of other chefs who have helped us out and showed us how to cook with new ingredients.” –Lai Chao

mentor taught me. I want everything to look perfect, because a lot of our customers are eating our food for the first time. You can lose sight when you make the same dishes over and over, but a lot of people come to town just to eat our food, so we want to make it really good. You’ve just won Taste for the Space—$50,000 and six months free rent at Eastridge Center in a dining space that will likely be open this summer. When you reflect back on the years of hosting Feastly pop-ups and catering private events, what has driven your success? RG: We have a product that we believe in, and that drives us to make it better. We want to share our food with the world and the people that we care about. I eat out a lot and try new dishes and flavors to see different ways that chefs prepare their dishes and then figure out a way to put my own twist on it, just constantly learning. LC: This is not a job for us. We love it. So, we show up, always try to make the most of it, have a good time. A huge part of what we are doing right now is because of other chefs who have helped us out and showed us how to cook with new ingredients. The community that chefs build is so that we can help each other. We grind together, respect each other, and make each other’s dreams come true. JA: I remember one day when we were working at Village Sake, and we were short two people. Chef cut most of his side of the menu since there were only three of us in the kitchen. We served 170 people in four hours. I was helping Chef with the grill while he was working the fryer, and then he’d come over and help me with the rolls. We were both constantly turning around and working on different dishes. That can only work when you trust each other. What wisdom can you share with chefs who are coming behind you? LC: Don’t train new people on a Friday night. C



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Tyler Toy, Coffee Manager

RedRock Coffee

Written by Brooke Olsen Roush

Caffeine, Culture, and Community Powered by “Caffeine, Culture, and Community,” Red Rock Coffee has become the best charging station in Mountain View. Purchased in 2005 by the Highway Community, a nondenominational Christian church, Red Rock Coffee’s mission “is not to make money or add to church membership, rather, to provide a space where art, music, conversation, business, and fantastic coffee flow easily and freely.” As a nonprofit, every dollar that doesn’t go to overhead or payroll is used to fund charitable organizations, advocacy groups, and community programs, consistent with the belief that Red Rock belongs to the community. Manager Tyler Toy understands the central role that attention to quality and community plays in the success of Red Rock’s model. There are a lot of great coffee spots in the Bay Area. What makes Red Rock Coffee different? First, we serve fair-trade Verve coffee from Santa Cruz, which is delicious. Our main bar serves the Streetlevel Espresso blend, and we have different single-origin espressos at our 2Bar; but we can always make pour overs of any of the coffees that we have in the shop. Second, our baristas are painstakingly precise in their craft. Our drinks are really good. With weekly events like Bootstrappers Breakfast, Open Mic, Knitting Club, Kids’ Story Hour, and live shows, Red Rock has a diverse following.

How has Red Rock created an environment that seems to attract everyone? There are two names that come to mind: Dave and Carlos. Dave worked here for about seven years and has just recently left. Everyone remembers their first encounter with Dave, because he is just this boisterous, interesting character. Recently, he’s gotten into tattoos. In fact, most of the staff and a lot of our customers have tattoos from him. He’s just one example of how so many of us who either work or drink coffee here have intersecting lives outside of Red Rock. Red Rock was always intended to be a place of connection and friendship, so it is great to see that it has become that for so many of our staff and customers.

Photography by Arabela Espinoza

Red Rock Coffee Downtown Mountain View 201 Castro Street Mountain View, CA 94041 Social Media redrockcoffee

As for Carlos, he has been coming to Red Rock for a lot longer than I’ve been around. He has a unique personality and self-deprecating humor. Everyone knows his coffee order, and he and the staff are constantly trading quips. He’s a steady fixture. In fact, when we are training new employees, there is a moment when we say, “And this is Carlos. Get to know him.” But, you know, we could say that about a lot of our customers. One of our regulars, Doug, orders cappuccinos every afternoon, and I’ll often run into him at the bars. Todd is in tech sales and comes in almost every day. Another regular is Katie, who is the local music director for Los Altos Stage Company. She was here so often that we asked her to be our social media director. There


actually is a big contingent of people who vacation and spend time together outside of Red Rock, which is probably why so many are drawn to it; it’s a tight but inclusive community. On YouTube, there are videos of people who come to Red Rock to experience Silicon Valley culture. Have you noticed that type of ethnotourism? Sometimes I personally feel very anti–Silicon Valley; so, it’s interesting that Red Rock Coffee has become a place where people come to experience the tech culture. I like to think that we are a warm introduction, and of course, as I look around at the open computers and important conversations, I can see how Red Rock has become somewhat of a beacon. We have very loyal customers, excellent coffee, and staff who work hard to create a culture of belonging and community, so I’m happy that Red Rock has become significant in that way. Anyone famous drinking your coffee? Fairly often I’ll see pieces of technology that no one has seen yet or hear multimillion dollar pitches at these very tables, which is amazing. WhatsApp has an office down the street, and a lot of what they’ve done has originated in here. In fact, Red Rock is the only account that WhatsApp follows on Twitter. Does that count? C 26

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“Red Rock was always intended to be a place of connection and friendship, so it is great to see that it has become that for so many of our staff and customers.” – Tyler Toy


West Valley College Fashion Design and Apparel Technology The Fashion Design and Apparel Technology (FDAT) program at West Valley College is a twoyear accredited career technical education program, established in 1985 by a group of industry professionals to fill the need for public education in the field of fashion. Recognized as a leader in fashion education, both locally and nationally, the program now offers two associate of science degrees and three certificates in design and production. The Cilker School of Art proudly presents the work of Fashion Design and Apparel Technology students at Launch, a gala fashion show on Saturday, May 5, at the West Valley College Cilker School of Art and Design. DANIELLE PHAM A fashion designer born and raised in the Bay Area, Danielle’s aspirations began when she was a child playing dress-up in her mother’s closet and, later, reworking her own clothes for a personal flare. Instagram: dani.pham

OLGA TOLOCHKO Inspired by Eastern European fashion, Olga has been creating her own garments since childhood. Fashion icons Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn were the inspiration for her latest collection. Facebook: studiopaulinka

DINA HAZZAR Dina holds a degree in software engineering, but she has an artisan’s soul. She is passionate about art, and her portfolio ranges from painting, decoupage, ceramics, and sculpture to jewelry and fashion design. Website:

FOROOGH MARJANI Art has always been a part of Foroogh’s life. Since moving to America, Foroogh has won a Peninsula Wearable Arts Guild scholarship and participated in the fashion show. She works for a high-end menswear company. Email:

CLARITA ESPINOSA DE LOS MONTEROS Clarita moved from Mexico City to pursue her passion for fashion design. In 2012, she began her blog and YouTube channel, Fashion Riot, which now reaches nearly 600,000 subscribers. Instagram: myfashionriot

BRIANA LAW Briana is a proud mother and aspiring fashion designer with a passion for illustration, graphic design, and high fashion. She left retail to work on the creative side of the fashion industry. Instagram: art_of_bri

ERIKA KEATING Erika is a California-grown only child with a big personality and even bigger ambitions. She has a love for fabric and a love for music; together they complete the blue-haired girl. Instagram: keatingdesign

ILSE FUENTES Ilse has set herself apart in the beauty industry and is now transitioning her aesthetic talent into fashion. Her inquisitive mind seeks knowledge and education constantly. Instagram: its.ilse.designs

NATALIE MAHARAJ Natalie was born and raised during apartheid in South Africa. She loves to travel and wants her designs to reflect her diversity and global experiences. LinkedIn: nataliemaharaj-84563128

MARIA FLORES Inspired by her mother, who was a seamstress in Mexico, Maria has always had fashion in her life. She currently works as a costume designer and spends her time visiting art exhibitions. Email:

NATASHA KHANNA Natasha is a full-time student working two jobs while interning for image consultant Alyce Parsons. Her dream is to have her own stylish and affordable brand. Email: Natasha.khanna96@yahoo. com

NOOR KELANI Noor is a fashion student who loves revamping traditional styles into something new. She hopes to continue travelling the world and exploring more design disciplines. Website:

EMILIE ZELEK Emilie is a lover of all things beautiful and romantic. As a designer, she will also pursue her other passion: helping those afflicted with substance abuse. Twitter: emiliezelek 28 SnS 10.2

RICKY PHAM Born and raised in California, Ricky is obsessed with Disneyland and hot summer days. He aspires to work in men’s fashion one day. Email:

TRINA VAN A dreamstress and sewing enthusiast of all colors and fabrics, Trina is a costume designer who has made over 100 costumes for herself and clients. Instagram:

VANESSA JIMENEZ GRANADOS Vanessa creates custom-made denim kimonos. Her designs are inspired by traditional Japanese shibori dye techniques on allnatural fabrics. Instagram: elliot_lotto

the Designers



West FASHION DESIGN STUDENTS Cilker School of Art & Design, West Valley College

Valley Photography by Paul Ferradas


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Art Director/Producer: Kristen Pfund, Stylist: Elle Mitchell, Style Assistant: Arabela Espinoza Models: Jaskiran - Scout Models // Imani - JE Models // Natalia - Stars Management // Irene - Look Models Hair: Jackie Vigil, Monica Villa, Catalina Del Ponte, and Stephanie Hankins for Paul Mitchell The School San Jose Make-Up: Renee Batres, Make-Up Assistant: Susana Padilla, Footwear: Donald Pliner, Location: BLiNK Creative Agency


ALBUM PICKS Curated by Needle to the Groove Instagram: needletothegrooverecords


The Fall

A few years ago, I picked up The Universe Smiles Upon You, the debut LP from Khruangbin, off of a recommendation from a friend. All I can say is: buy it and file it. This unique Texas psych band layers sparse, airy vocals over gorgeous arrangements of head-nodding, cinematic instrumentals. On their newest LP, Con Todo El Mundo, they continue that lovable, walking-tempo, slow-burner vibe that sparks and soothes the ears every listen. They understand creativity and songwriting like few other bands. The fusion of psych, soul, Thai pop, funk, kosmische musik, and blues creates transcendent, colorful grooves, emulating a dream-like state of rhythm and melodic genius. It takes a special ensemble of songwriters and musicians to thrive without a lead singer, and there is no doubt that instrumental music gets play. The instruments are the voice. The guitarist is absolutely sublime and plays so many styles so beautifully, it is difficult to describe it in words. There are so many amazing moments on this record that every time I listen to it, I have a new favorite track. Currently, I’m drawn to the slow groovers, like “Rules,” “A Hymn,” “Lady and Man,” but “Maria También” is also great, with an upbeat in the pocket rhythm section, subtle percussions, and a funky Eastern-influenced guitar riff. Front to back, this is hands down a record you must own if you give a damn about collecting vinyl in 2018. It will be difficult for another band to top this LP this year, but don’t take my word for it. Buy it.

Of all the many, many records the prolific artist Mark E. Smith made with dozens of members of the always-revolving and devolving Fall family over the last 30 years, Slates was the one that first bewitched me. Just a six-song EP—originally released in 1981, full of booze-fueled tongue darts and speed-head genius—this is music like no other. Halfway through “Prole Art Threat,” I was transfixed. What were these adverse, uncompromising, slanted, and slagged sounds searing through my speakers? The words spat and drawled like some unique code to be deciphered. I must crack it. I must crack the code. “Get out the pink-press threat file.” Repetitious dagger riffs punctured by the bark and bite of a Manchester language detective—the boy is like a tape loop. Take “An Older Lover,” a brutal and brilliant piss-take, anti-romance warble. “Dr. Annabel lieeeeeeeeees.” Simple yet confusing, bleak yet loose, I hear the hum at 3am. I must crack the code. All six songs are their own distinct and extinct universe, shackled and ramshackled. “Leave the Capitol! Exit this Roman shell!” The Fall was John Peel’s favorite band. “Always different, always the same,” he famously said. This code, it must be cracked. Recently re-issued by the peerless Superior Viaduct label out of Oakland, this slate of tracks is aural hypnotism buzz sawing into your brain. “The evil is not in extremes / It’s in the aftermath.”

Con Todo El Mundo (Night Time Stories) Release date: January 26, 2018

Slates (Superior Viaduct) Re-release date: January 29, 2017

Favorite track: “A Hymn” AIRKHRUANG.COM Facebook: khruangbin Written by Allen Johnson

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Favorite track: “An Older Lover” SUPERIORVIADUCT.COM Instagram: superiorviaduct

Written by Jeff Brummet

Third Sight

Prince Paul

Third Sight, rap trio from the South Bay area, have always been rather casual with promoting their releases. It’s as if by design that their work sells out in Germany and Japan, yet local heads aren’t familiar with them. Their catalogue goes back to the later ’90s, where rap—especially indie hiphop—was in the midst of a second renaissance, veering toward wild experimentations of style and expansive deliveries. These guys were in the pocket of that emergence, with a rotating cast of characters contributing to their projects. The core, however, has always been three: Jihad the Roughneck MC, D-Styles, and Dufunk. The troupe has local roots, meeting at De Anza College in the early ’90s, and have made four albums—Golden Shower Hour, Symbionese Liberation Album, Chillin’ with Dead Bodies in a B-Boy Stance, and IV—to critical acclaim but paltry local fanfare. This latest release, Orchids & Corpses, is a prequel of sorts, recordings that either didn’t make the final cut for their debut or others that were recorded around ’96 to ’97. But Orchids & Corpses succeeds because it relies on a proven formula, one that has been unchanged since the group’s inception: lucid manifesto rhymes with macabre imagery, peppered with references to literature, body parts, math, and car chases. The production is fitting, both dark and minimal. D-Styles, arguably the group’s most well-known component and who’s also considered one of the most precise, DJs and adds layer and mood to the entire palette with technical turntablism and incredible scratch routines. It’s always great hearing young artists find their stride, but Orchids & Corpses is the opposite. The members of Third Sight were the few lucky ones who found themselves, and their sound, early on.

Every artist has had moments of regret after releasing his or her work. Every writer wishes they could fine-tune a sentence here or there. Even a musician of the caliber and reach of Kanye West couldn’t resist editing songs on The Life of Pablo. West is also likely the first modern artist to do so in real time, letting listeners see omissions and tweaks deemed better than previous versions. For Prince Paul, one of hip-hop’s most respected and longtime producers, revising one of his most criminally slepton albums wasn’t a difficult decision. “I’ve always felt that critics, as well as fans, sort of dismissed this, so I wanted to redo the whole damn thing,” says Paul in an interview on San Jose’s own emergent podcast, Dad Bod Rap Pod, adding: “I like being the first artist who does things.” Paul’s credentials run deep, from groundbreaking work with De La Soul as far back as the late ’80s to genre-defining work with Gravediggaz, which also featured RZA of Wu-Tang Clan. Paul has been a visionary that tackles projects with grace, technicality, and—perhaps most pronounced and refreshing of all—humor. Originally released in 2003, Politics of the Business, like most of Paul’s work, features a who’s who of rap royalty. This latest renovated version not only carries additions and lost tracks to the original, but is a complete redo of beats and arrangements. You have legends that we’ve since lost, such as Guru of Gang Starr, as well as colorful creatives like DOOM. Comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle are also a part of the cast, ushering along the album’s skits and narrative. Prince Paul is the clown prince of rap and certainly has always been a bit too forward thinking for the masses. With this release, he proves he was too forward thinking even for himself. This redux is proof that it’s never too late to put your best foot forward.

Orchids & Corpses (Sanctimonious Records) Release date: June 2, 2017

The Redux (Self-Released) Release date: October 13, 2017

Favorite track: “Meditated Sedated” SOUNDCLOUD.COM/THIRD-SIGHT Twitter: roughneckjihad

Favorite track: “I Don’t Care” SOUNDCLOUD.COM/DJ-PRINCE-PAUL Instagram: djprincepaul

Written by David Ma

Written by David Ma




MAY/JUN #ContentPick

Jane’s Walk


Launch: A Fashion Show for 2018


Silicon Valley Open Studios



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Jane’s Walk is a global movement of free, locally led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. Community guides will share stories of San Jose on each walk. 5/4–5/6 Various San Jose Venues

This professionally produced show will highlight the work of West Valley College fashion design students, culminating their program within the Cilker School of Art and Design. 5/5 The Cilker Building at West Valley College

Hundreds of artists open their studios and shared spaces, showcasing the tremendous diversity and wealth of artistic talent in this creative valley. 5/5–5/20 Various Silicon Valley Venues

Silicon Valley Bikes! Festival & Show

The bicycle community will celebrate cycling and its history with demonstrations, artists and vendors, family fun, BMX stunt riding, and more. 5/6 History Park


An Evening with Neil Zlozower


Maker Faire Bay Area


Sleeping Beauty



With over 1,000 magazine covers to his credit, countless albums, and a career spanning more than 40 years, Neil Zlozower’s photos have helped shape the music landscape. 5/12 BLiNK Creative Agency

This annual gathering of makers features innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance, and craft. 5/18–5/20 San Mateo County Event Center

The ultimate fairy-tale magic of New Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty story ballet will delight and enchant the entire family. There is also a condensed version for younger audiences. 5/19–5/20 California Theatre

Packed with nonstop video programming, original artwork, music, dance, games, and panels, this celebration of Japanese art and pop culture is run by fans for fellow fans. 5/25–5/28 San Jose Convention Center

SUN 7PM–11PM The Eulipions Jazz Jam Session The house band led by saxophonist Tim Lin plays a set followed by an open jazz jam. Cafe Stritch

WED 9PM The Caravan Lounge Comedy Show Comics from all over the Bay Area and the world perform, hosted by Ato Walker. The Caravan Lounge

THURS 7PM–9PM Live Lit Writers Open Mic This casual open mic offers a home for poems and stories in all languages over pastries and beverages. Caffe Frascati

MON 7PM–9:30PM Red Rock Open Mic Night A family-friendly open mic experience that welcomes people of all talents to share and perform their art. Red Rock Coffee

WED 7:15PM–11:45PM Wednesday Night Hop This swing dance party is preceded by a choice of classes, introductory to advanced. First United Methodist Church (Palo Alto)

THURS 9PM The Changing Same This excursion keeps time with the future of soul, R&B, and jazz through guest DJ sets and live performances. The Continental Bar


Taco Festival of Innovation


fEAST San José


Hedwig and the Angry Inch


SVArts Celebration & Content PickUp Party 10.3

Make Music San Jose

Moveable Feast curates over twenty food trucks serving renditions of a taco—from Vietnamese shrimp to ice cream tacos—plus entertainment to enjoy between tastings. 5/26 History Park

This Obie-winning rock musical tells the captivating story of Hedwig—a fourth-wallsmashing, genderqueer, East German, punk rock goddess. 5/30–7/8 San Jose Stage Company

Veggielution will host its annual fundraiser to support the work of the community farm in East San Jose, partnering with Adega to provide an amazing meal for the occasion. 6/10 Veggielution

Content Magazine will celebrate the latest issue release along with a short program for SVCreates’ 2018 SVLaureate awards. 6/21 School of Arts and Culture @ MHP


Anjelah Johnson



SubZERO Festival


Silicon Valley Music Festival

Mortified Live




Comedian and San Jose native Anjelah Johnson became an internet sensation with her viral video “Nail Salon” and her original character created for MADtv, Bon Qui Qui. 5/31–6/3 San Jose Improv

Focused on subcultures thriving in the region, this combination festival and artwalk is a DIY, artistically bent, hi/lo-techno mashup where street meets geek. 6/1–6/2 SoFA District

Hailed a “cultural phenomenon” by Newsweek, adults share their most embarrassing childhood artifacts, from journals to lyrics, in order to reveal stories about their lives. 6/2 The Ritz

Held annually on the summer solstice, Make Music San Jose is a DIY musical celebration open to everyone, with concerts in parks, plazas, and porches across the city. 6/21 Various San Jose Venues

Chamber Music Silicon Valley launches its new Ensemble-in-Residence, an artist collective that fuses Western classical artists with traditional global musicians, at this festival. 6/28–6/30 Venue TBA

Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates Pride Month at their 35th anniversary concert that will inspire audiences to be bold, strong, and proud. 6/29–6/30 Santa Clara University Recital Hall


Events are subject to change. Please confirm event details with the presenting organization or venue.

1ST MON 8PM San Jose Poetry Slam Slammaster Scorpiana Xlent leads this spoken-word competition that features tasty food, brews, and poetry. Gordon Biersch

2ND & 4TH WED 6:30PM–8:30PM Open Space at Eastridge Hosted by Lorenz Dumuk, all are welcome to bring words, music, movement, and art. Eastridge Center eastridgecenter

3RD FRI 8PM San Jose Bike Party This themed ride is a place to make friends and have a good time. Riders without lights can get free lights installed. Announced 24 hours prior

3RD TUES 7PM–10PM Two-Buck Tuesday The gallery hosts $2 art sales, along with a combination of performances, live painting, and/or art-making activities. KALEID Gallery

3RD THURS 6PM Brews & Beats Diners can enjoy hip-hop and craft beer culture with beats provided by resident DJs Mr Choe and Cutfresh. Park Station Hashery

2ND SAT 6PM–9PM Songwriter Saturday Showcase Coffee is served while local songwriters perform. New Crema Coffee songwritersaturday


CONTRIBUTORS The production of CONTENT MAGAZINE would not be possible without the talented writers, editors, graphic artists, and photographers who contribute to each issue. We thank you and are proud to provide a publication to display your work. We are also thankful for the sponsors and readers who have supported this magazine through advertisements and subscriptions.

MARISSA AHMADKHANI Bay Area native and poet, Marissa holds an MA in English from Cal Poly SLO. In her free time, she enjoys creating and being outdoors. Her poetry has been featured in numerous publications and has received the Academy of American Poets Prize in 2015 and 2017. instagram: marissamehh

JOSHUA MARCOTTE Joshua is a photographer, historian, hoarder, and fourth generation resident of San Jose. His ongoing photo project, Lost San Jose, documents the fragments that make up the shifting world around him in this place called Silicon Valley. instagram: lostsanjose

HEATHER M. DAVID Heather is a San Jose-based cultural historian. She is the author of the books Mid-Century by the Bay, Motel California, and numerous articles on American popular culture. website:

ESTHER YOUNG Esther is a graduating senior at Santa Clara University. She has written for Santa Clara Magazine and The Owl.

SAMANTHA TACK Samantha is a contributing copyeditor for CONTENT who is passionate about consistency and developing content. She is also the copyeditor for GRĂ˜SS Magazine and works in online content operations. In her free time, she enjoys all things crafty, weekend road trips, and country music. instagram: its_sammyyyyy

DAVID MA David is a longtime music journalist whose work has appeared in Pitchfork, Wax Poetics, Rolling Stone, Red Bull Music Academy, Mercury News, The Guardian, The Source, and other publications. instagram: _davidma

KUNAL SAMPAT Kunal is the founder of Clinical Trial Podcast, a podcast for clinical research professionals. He enjoys connecting likeminded people, introducing new ideas, and immersing himself in an environment of continuous learning. instagram: wildfirekunal

Be a part of the CONTENT community. Contact us at:

instagram: eestarrious

BROOKE ROUSH Brooke recently repatriated to the US after eating nasi goreng in SE Asia for four years. She has been married for 16 years, is a mother of three, and is vice president of the consulting firm Know Your Strengths. Brooke played Division 1 volleyball and studied English literature with an emphasis on the medieval period at Montana State. skype: brookeroush10

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SnS 10.2

Photography by Geoffery Silver


Dana Albany, Tara Mechani Appearing through June 9th at Plaza de César Chávez The City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with Burning Man Project present this artwork as part of Playa to Paseo, an initiative bringing art from Burning Man to Downtown San José. 43 SnS 10.2



California Theatre 1,122 seats

City National Civic 2,850 seats

Center for the Performing Arts 2,608 seats

Montgomery Theater 468 seats

Convention Center Grand Ballroom

In Silicon Valley, fortune favors the bold, and the bold find inspiration in the beauty around them. Stage your next meeting in our historic theaters where electric-punch was drunk, iconic tech devices were launched and Broadway’s best is belted. INNOVATION • NATURE • CREATIVITY • CULTURE

June 21, 2018 Mexican Heritage Plaza San Jose Join us for a celebration of our arts community as we present the 2018 SVLaureate awards, featuring live presentations and performances. Pick up the latest issue of Content Magazine, being released this evening, with proďŹ les of the SVLaureate recipients.



May May5, 5,2018 2018 The TheCilker CilkerBuilding Building at atWest WestValley ValleyCollege College Featuring Featuring runway runway line line from fromthe the graduating graduating fashion design fashion design students students at the Cilker School at the Cilker School of of Art Art&&Design Design at at West WestValley Valley College College Produced Producedby by Joseph Domingo Joseph Domingo »»Tickets: Tickets:



CULTURE made in san jose, ca


Perform 10.3 SAN JOSE 2018

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