Deitra Magazine: The Menswear Issue

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Deitra Magazine is published by Deitra LLC. COPYRIGHT 2018. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Subscriptions One year for $35.00 in the U.S. and possessions; $39.95 for Canada and $65.00 for all other destinations. Payment in U.S. funds must accompany Canadian and international orders. Subscription orders are directed to For inquiries or letters to the editor, email Advertising and Sponsorship For advertising and sponsorship opportunities, or to receive a media kit, write to us at PRINTED IN THE USA.

crew deitra Editor-In-Chief / Creative Director

I started Deitra in 2008, blogging about local musicians in the greater Ozarks area. The first print issue of Deitra Magazine was published in December 2011, and I have since published 13 more, each issue evolving into something greater than the former. I grew up in a family of musicians, so I have a background in singing, piano and I can rock a mean saxophone. My first true love was creative and journalistic writing, but I have grown to love every aspect of what I do at the magazine, including graphic design, concept creation and photo shoot direction, fashion design and event production, among other creative endeavors. Above all, I love managing my team, which has bloomed into a creative force greater than I could have ever dreamed! I am grateful that these people want to follow me into my ultimate vision. ON MENSWEAR: I’m such a huge fan of a man dressed in a suit! I also enjoy an androgynous wardrobe for myself, with suit jackets taylored to fit my figure. ON GENDER IDENTITY: I love being recognized as a powerful woman. I never subscribed to the idea that women were inferior to men, and wasn’t even exposed to the idea until someone complimented my work with the added qualifier, “for a woman.” As added insult to injury, this comment came from another female. Confusing as that may have been, a person is about what’s inside their mind and soul. Outward human expression is a natural part of all of us, and I can identify with anyone who wants to be seen for who they are on the inside.


Facebook: Tamara Styer Deitra Mag Instagram: @deitra_editor @deitramag Twitter: @DeitraEditor @deitramag

Assistant Editor / Photographer I’ve worked variously as a writer, photographer and designer since 2009, when I landed my first journalism job despite being hilariously unqualified for it. Whether through divine intervention or sick, cosmic joke, I was able to parlay that into a host of other work ranging from photographing college sports to co-writing books with tech CEOs. I’d tell you the secret to my success, but the truth is there isn’t one — I just throw myself at anything that piques my curiosity and figure out the rest when I get there. IN THIS ISSUE: I photographed the “Awakening” spread (pg. 20), conceived, co-styled and photographed the menswear spread (“Style & Substance,” pg. 26) and proofread everything else. ON MENSWEAR: Dressing well is important to me for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a great way to nonverbally convey respect for the people who grace me with their company. When I find myself in less hospitable surroundings, I value a good suit the way a medieval knight might have valued his armor — it shields me from the rhetorical fray and keeps the unwashed assholes off balance. ON GENDER IDENTITY: The way people discuss gender identity reminds me of a famous zen koan about seven blind men feeling different parts of an elephant and arguing among each other about what they’re touching. The guy feeling the tusk says, “This is a plow!” Another guy, holding the tail, says, “You idiot, this is a flyswat!” And so on. The point is, everybody thinks their perspective is the only one that’s valid. But the truth is, we’d all be a lot better off if we spent more time listening to others and trying to understand them instead. Facebook: Charles Goodin Instagram: @charles.goodin SnapChat: charles.goodin Twitter: @CharlesDGoodin


deitra Beauty Director

Hey, I’m Kristen Lentz, the beauty director for the magazine. I’ve been a stylist for more than nine years and a Sexy Hair educator for seven of those years. I absolutely love everything this industry has had to offer me. Being a part of things both on the national and local fronts keeps me on my toes in fashion and trends to help provide fun things for you, the readers. IN THIS ISSUE: I had the privilege of working the “Awakening” (pg. 20), Trinity Mayer (pg. 38) and “Boss Babes” (pg. 12) photo shoots. They were all so unique and fun — and “Boss Babes” provided me with a new perspective being in front of the camera. I love working with the whole Deitra team. While we may not all be at the same shoots, we all bring something to the table to help. We have big and small personalities, organized and chaotic mentalities, shy and outgoing demeanors — but all are a huge family that can make amazing things happen. FUNNIEST DEITRA MOMENT: My funniest moment with Deitra, specifically for this issue, was working the “Awakening” photo shoot with Jasmine Gabriel. I had entirely too much fun dumping baby powder over her.


PERSONAL STYLE: As of late, I’ve been loving the ripped tomgirl/boyfriend fit jeans. They are incredibly comfy, and are so stylish to pair with wedges and a fun top — or Converse with a nerd/fandom tee. The guy’s section typically has the better options regarding those tee’s. Facebook: Kristen At Salon Plus Instagram: @kstylistlentz

Feature Photographer I grew up in Rogersville, and then went on to college at OTC for a couple of years. After that, I graduated and went on to College of the Ozarks, where I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Theatre in the fall of 2009. When it comes to creative paths, the ones I’ve gone down were a mix of theatre and photography. While it’s been a while since I’ve been onstage, I’ve been in three different productions at the Gillioz Theatre through OTC, as well as small stage parodies in downtown Springfield. As for photography, my initial interest was snapping photos of downtown Springfield as a means of historical documentation (I’m a Springfield history nut). Over time, I eventually branched out of shooting architecture to bands at the Deitra Nights at the former Highlife Martini Lounge, and then moved on to people. IN THIS ISSUE: For Issue 14, I did the photography for the spreads on Trinity Mayer (pg. 38), David Samples (pg. 54) and SIX (pg. 70), as well as the “Boss Babes” shoot with Tam and Kristen (pg. 12). I also captured a behind-the-scenes look for Charles’ “Awakening” shoot (pg. 20). FAVE ISSUE 14 MOMENT: I think I’d have to say it was when we were at the Queen City Wine Dive before our photo shoot with Trinity. As we were getting ready, the guys from the kitchen brought out a ton of food. There were waffles, sausages, bacon — and, my favorite — fried chicken. Damn, that was a good meal!


DEITRA GOALS: Oh simple: To take over the world! Oh wait, I was supposed to keep that a secret… Facebook: Matt Loveland Photography Instagram: @the_old_soul











crew Staff Makeup Artist

My name is Coryn Clark. I love makeup, I love creating beauty and I love people. My creative career brings all three of my favorite things together to make magic. IN THIS ISSUE: I had the job of doing makeup, anything else Tam needed and eating snacks.

WHAT DEITRA MEANS TO ME: Deitra Magazine means the world to me. I can show the world my talent and what I can do with the best people. My goals and aspirations with the magazine are to try and make the world a prettier place. The Deitra team is a mix of some of the most amazing people. When we all get together and our creativity combines, really amazing things happen. FUNNIEST DEITRA MOMENT: There is never a dull moment in Deitra, and I couldn’t possibly pick one single moment. CREATIVE RITUAL: My creative ritual is to just not think too much about it because for me when I overthink, my ideas start to get cloudy. I just like to go in with a little inspiration and work hard.

coryn dione

Facebook: Coryn Dione Clark Instagram: @queencoryn Twitter: @coryndian SnapChat: @coryndian

Photographer / Wardrobe Manager I feel that I am a lady of many talents. I like to try different things that will expand my knowledge and help me advance to other levels of awesomeness. I’m hoping that my work with Deitra will help me achieve my dreams of becoming a master of my many crafts, and I think I’m on the right path. IN THIS ISSUE: I am the photographer who brought Stevie Victory to these pages (pg. 62). WHAT DEITRA MEANS TO ME: Deitra is in the upper echelon of local arts, culture and music publications. It is the home for my creative outlets and without it, I may not be where I am today. CREATIVE RITUAL: I don’t really have a creative ritual, nor do I really plan my photo shoots. Whenever I try to make plans or have elaborate ideas, they usually fall apart. I go into my photo shoots with no plans or ideas and that’s when my best work happens. Facebook: Leslie Tucker - Photography Instagram: @lezlijean







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boss babes


TAM: Even now, many years later, we still do that. KRISTEN: And it works out really well, too, because Jasmine’s shoot (“Awakening,” pg. 20) was really amazing.

DEITRA MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tamara Styer and Beauty Director Kristen Lentz met while working at Victoria’s Secret in Springfield, Missouri. They have since become great friends and creative allies, on a mission to turn the local fashion and beauty scene on its head. These two boss babes sit down for lunch at Springfield’s Cafe Cusco to talk about their journey working together at the magazine since its debut in 2011 — as well as plans for the future and some of the most important moments in their careers. TAM: So, Kristen, what is your professional background in beauty? KRISTEN: I have been doing hair for more than nine years, and I have been working for Sexy Hair for about seven years. TAM: Is that how long we’ve known each other? KRISTEN: I moved to Springfield in June or July of 2010 and immediately started working at Victoria’s Secret, so whenever it was when you started — TAM: I think it was 2011. KRISTEN: It must’ve been pretty close to the start of 2011 or the end of 2010, because you and I built up a strong enough work relationship for you to ask me to be part of the magazine, and the very first magazine cover shoot. TAM: So you’re the longest-running person in Deitra Mag history. You also helped me do an issue where we did a [gender] transition piece. KRISTEN: Yeah! That was fun, too! TAM: So, what has it been like to work with Deitra Magazine through all these years? KRISTEN: It has been exciting all throughout, but there have definitely been some ebbs and flows in the seasons of Deitra. It’s all been wild and fun. TAM: How so? KRISTEN: Well, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when you first asked me to be a part of the magazine. I hadn’t started working with Sexy Hair just yet, but I had known enough people who work photo shoots and various things to know that doing a photo shoot in someone’s house was the norm.

TAM: Part of the reason I think it’s getting better, even though we are still using people’s houses, is because we have such a big team, and we always know who to bring. We have so many photographers — we always have a backup photographer, we have people who can set up lights and do backdrops, do makeup, hair, etcetera. KRISTEN: And that is where it has changed a lot, too, because it has gotten a lot more organized and people know the roles they’re playing so much better than when it first started out. TAM: Everyone really cares about their roles, too. They’re very passionate about it. Almost like an ownership thing. KRISTEN: It has been really fun, because I have been a part of the team for nearly seven years now, and you didn’t see a lot of that in the past. TAM: Organization, you mean? KRISTEN: Organization for sure, and basically everyone outside of you — no one really knew how to take ownership for their roles. TAM: I think so, too. And I hadn’t really found people I could plug in, in those ways. As far as the entire group goes, I pride myself in being able to find what a person is really good at, and being able to see if they are really going to stick with it. We have had a lot of people come and go, and all those people have been a great benefit, to be honest. But I always know when a person is ready to go. And the ones I know are in for good, I feel like that is my team right now. And I always have it in the back of my head, “What if someone leaves?” But it feels like such a family now, it is a lot different than what it used to be. I have had so many people on the team that have loved it but it wasn’t the same type of ownership, you know?


KRISTEN: Yeah, not like the full family vibe. It was a good, friendly vibe, but just not the same as how it is now. TAM: Right. So tell our readers about your role as beauty director at the magazine and at fashion shows.

KRISTEN: It started out with me just being involved with hair in general. You gave me a job, and I would do my job. I would collaborate with some of the other stylists in the beginning and just create some hair on the fly. It allowed me to be extremely creative, but I don’t thrive in just flat-out chaos. I need to have an organized chaos. So that is where it first started out and I had that conversation with you about having some sort of organization to the system, and that role just got created on its own. TAM: Exactly. We have 52 models right now, and even more knocking at the door, and I have to cut it off somehow.

KRISTEN: Right, but at least we know for the next show and when we start that process over again, it is equally as fun. As far as the fashion shows go, it’s really nice creating inspiration views for almost every single model, or depending on the theme of the show, we would have different groups, even if it wasn’t for any particular model. My role has developed into one that involves getting the stylists together and discussing the inspiration before hand with them, and just getting their creative juices flowing — along with my own. And when it comes to the day of the photo shoots and shows, I am also doing hair and sometimes makeup. TAM: Yes, you’re in the trenches with them and keeping them on the same page. You’re the first man on the ground and the last one to leave. KRISTEN: Basically. TAM: For sure. And that has been so helpful for me, just knowing you will always be there. We got a really big team of stylists last time and they are coming back this time. KRISTEN: Hearing that makes me really happy. All of that kind of attests to what you were saying earlier — picking out a group of people that really want to be a part of it, and that you can trust to work as a team. TAM: Yeah, we have a really good group of models, and I think that is one thing that you and I talk about a lot — just having a positive team. There is no drama, and if there ever is something that comes up, we can handle it quickly. I’m so grateful I have you backing me up with that so we don’t have to be hard on anybody.

KRISTEN: We have a direction and a vision now, instead of just themes for the show, you know? TAM: Yes, and the stress level has really gone down. I used to get sick before every show. I feel so organized now, though. It has been nice having you backing me up and building the team. KRISTEN: Right. TAM: So, what is it like when I bring those ideas out of my imagination and present them to you? KRISTEN: Well, I’m never sure exactly what to expect. I mean, we have an overall brand, so I do have certain expectations as to what you’re going to bring me. TAM: What’s that? KRISTEN: Edgy, out of the box — and that is what has been pretty consistent. I mean, we have done some very pretty, non-edgy shoots, but overall — TAM: There is always some sort of outlandish element. I like dramatic things. I come up with these ideas and I always wonder what it will be like. KRISTEN: Yeah, and that has been really fun. I love doing avant garde styles. I would say between your super dramatic avant garde and your classic vintage 50s and 60s styles — I love those, but they are super different from each other, so you kind of create elements in the middle. For instance, with Jasmine’s shoot, you have a sense of history in it with Marie Antoinette, and you’re jazzing that up with the Deitra brand of avant garde and out of the box.

TAM: We also added in some Elizabethan, some Geisha — it’s a mixed bag. It’s amazing, but it’s also piercing. I do think that was really beautiful but it was also very intense and I love that. That’s one thing I like to always keep. I do like ready to wear looks, but I love there to be some sort of dramatic element to it. KRISTEN: And it sets us apart from some of the other magazines and interests in the Springfield community, so we definitely reach a different part of the community. TAM: I agree, and I am excited to push the magazine out more and get more wide-spread. It has been a long time we have been pushing this forward, but I feel like it’s at a sweet spot right now for me — right before the cusp of something really big happening. So we better enjoy this. It’s kind of that golden age right now. I wanted to ask you — if Deitra could send you anywhere or fund any trip or something for you in the future, what would your biggest idea be for that? KRISTEN: One of my goals is to do hair for New York Fashion Week. I feel like that would be something that would be huge. Another thing would be to branch outside of Springfield. I could see Deitra doing really well in parts of New Orleans. TAM: Really? KRISTEN: There are so many cool parts of New Orleans. Between the history and the architecture, especially when you go down some of the streets and see the fashion, I could see it being down there. I think that would be really fun. TAM: The reason I ask is because, someday, I would like the magazine to be able to fund shoots like Vogue does. Like, “Oh, let’s shoot in Milan today.” The thing is, the first step would be road trips — New Orleans, places closer, you know?

TAM: As soon as possible, as soon as we can get the equipment. I would like to do it once a week. KRISTEN: Cool, and rotating in and out is a great thing because everyone’s life schedule gets pretty chaotic. TAM: And there are enough of us who want to be involved — and we have Leslie Tucker, who has that great radio voice. I want to have people like LaComa Jefferson, our wardrobe Stylist for Deitra fashion shows — just some personalities we work with regularly like Matt and Charles. I just want it to be a fun time! KRISTEN: Cool. So what are your two proudest moments in Deitra or life in general? TAM: The first one that pops into my head would probably be the moment I walked into my very first Deitra Magazine release show at the Outland Ballroom [in Springfield, Missouri]. We had four bands volunteering their time, the bar was just incredibly generous with letting me use the space and even the lighting was perfect. It was me stepping into my skin for the first time and a million things I dreamt of doing, all coming to life. KRISTEN: Yeah, I remember we had so much support, people dressed up for it, it was awesome. And I think we were just styling musicians at that point. TAM: That is when I finally found my thing and I knew I wanted this to become my life.

KRISTEN: Yeah, and New Orleans isn’t that far away, but it is still a really big city. Austin, Texas, would be really cool also.

KRISTEN: Yeah, it’s your passion and your calling. That is how I feel about hair.

TAM: Let’s dream a little beyond what we can do tomorrow and say we can fund a trip to wherever.

TAM: That’s cool. I’m glad you feel that way about hair because you can take what I give you and just make it more beautiful than I ever imagined. We make a good team.

KRISTEN: That’s where I thought you were headed with that — just going a bit further than our favorite locations around the area like Eureka Springs, St. Louis, Joplin or Kansas City. TAM: That’d be cool because, that is the kind of thing I want to start doing. I mean, it’s going to be easy to branch into Kansas City or St. Louis — we just need to make more copies. I have a designer in Kansas City who is going let me borrow some pieces for the show, and I always have bands up there that hit me up. But to branch out further in the future would be awesome. KRISTEN: Yeah, and if we get the podcast rolling — because that is what a lot of people are doing nowadays. So I think branching out to that would be an excellent call. TAM: Definitely. We are going to add in podcasts and films and just keep branching out. KRISTEN: So going off the topic of podcasts, where would you like to see that go and how soon?

KRISTEN: I agree. TAM: There were many times in my childhood where someone encouraged me. I grew up in a musician family and I always sang and played piano, but I really wanted to be the writer of the family. That is where I found a passion. Certain teachers saw that in me, and really encouraged me to keep going. They never told me I shouldn’t be writing about [certain things]. Because I would write these dark horror things and nobody ever told me, ‘No.’ I did have one teacher call my parents and say she was concerned about me, and my parents just told me about it, like, last year. But they didn’t want to stifle me. I was just writing. KRISTEN: Right. TAM: But then I had a teacher funnel me into the journalism world, and it really changed my life. I would probably say that is another life changing moment for me, is when I discovered you can be a creative writer and still funnel that into journalistic ends. Then I got really into design and editing and being in charge of people. Then, within a year, I was in charge of the high school paper and got to keep doing that. I would say those are probably the two biggest moments for me.


beauty favorites








holy trinity







THIS IS A STORY about Trinity Mayer, a person who has come into my life and affected the way I view the world — as well as how I view myself.

I want to share some of the thoughts and intricacies that Trinity has shared with me, and the amazing things I have watched her step out and do in the face of adversity and fear. I have come to admire the way Trinity views the concepts of self and intellect, as well as the way she loves other people. Her smile and friendliness are contagious. When she is in a room, you can rest assured she will foster a resonating camaraderie between everyone there. I’m not even sure she is aware of this fact. I first met Trinity at the GLO center in Springfield, Missouri, when we were planning our Deitra fashion show for Pride Week in 2017. We were looking for volunteers to help us with all aspects of production, as well as anyone who might want to dip their toe into the world of modeling on our runway. Up walked Trinity, and I couldn’t help but be astounded by the intellectual being shining back at me. I felt I was getting a rare glimpse into the soul of a more intelligent species — perhaps someone from the future coming back to teach me a new way of looking at the world. Just 16 at the time, Trinity was brave enough to be thrown into the deep end of production and modeling at Deitra. We meet a lot of aspiring models, but here was a truly unique individual presenting an immediate conversation that has held weight with me from the moment we met. Trinity has affected the way that I view society’s on-going conversation about gender, and she has shown a fearlessness that goes beyond any physicality. The way that she presents herself to the world is purposeful, so that you see directly into her mind the moment you meet her. I find this methodical presentation fascinating, having been a person who always gets recognized for physical attributes long before people even consider that I might have anything resembling a brain.

Since her debut on the runway, Trinity has become a favorite of the Deitra production team, the magazine staff and her fellow models. Trinity has been an instrumental part of keeping a positive atmosphere behind the scenes, and I’ve watched a camaraderie grow and flourish even further than what it had when she stepped into our lives. When I met her, Trinity described herself as non-binary, which is defined as any gender identity that doesn’t fit within the strict confines of the male-female paradigm. When asking what pronoun would be appropriate to use when writing this article, Trinity responded, “I don’t really care about pronouns that much. I more so just have people go by what they see me as.” What I see is a multifaceted, brilliant young mind, who is as ambitious as they come. Now just shy of 18, she is planning to study a wide variety of subjects in college, including computer science, psychology, public speaking and even dance. “My ultimate goal is to just stay true to the fact that, ‘This is me who has done all of this. This is solely what I want to do. This is solely what I strive to be doing,”’ she says. “There are definitely some people who have influenced me to change my opinions. I feel like you should be stubborn in what you believe in. I feel like that’s definitely what shaped me into what I am right now. I feel like, as a person, you pick and choose what traits stand out in somebody, and you kind of imitate that. Not to say that you aren’t your own person, but with that mixture in everything, it definitely does make you different. It’s kind of like DNA. You have one trait, and then you have another one, and it just copies itself, and each one is like a different letter.” It’s a beautiful way to approach the comingof-age story. We all tend to emulate those we respect and admire. We all strive to achieve the lifestyles that we might want for ourselves. It’s important to visualize what you want your life to be, form

what you believe and be stubborn about it. No one else in the world can be you or do what you can do. “People who identify as non-binary and were originally female don’t really want to live by the standards of gender roles necessarily related to someone who is female,” Trinity says. “I definitely feel that part of the reason I identify as [having a gender that is neutral] is tied to the fact that in middle school, people would always stare at my breasts, and I couldn’t really play with the guys because I wasn’t as tough — mostly that kind of stuff. I definitely feel that having more of a neutral outlook would change somebody’s first impression of me: ‘Hey, this person can do whatever they want.’” When Trinity said this, it was like a bell ringing in my head. The subject of sexual objectification and gender really resonated with me, causing me to examine myself and consider what I think about my own gender — and how I feel about the subject of gender identity and gender equality as a whole. I have always loved being a female, and fully embrace my gender. But more importantly, I’m grateful to have had parents who raised me to appreciate my intellect, talents, creativity and personality. Any time anyone would

compliment me with some permutation of, “What a pretty little girl,” my parents would correct them and talk about the beauty on the inside. They wanted me to be ingrained with the idea that my intellect mattered more than any physical beauty. I was not even aware that my gender was widely considered the “weaker” one until later in life. I remember always admiring the tough women in movies — or even the female villain in a comic book — because she was strong and powerful, and she was not treated like the damsel in distress. She was never a victim. I’ve been asking myself why I loved that so much. I connected to it in some deep way. Trinity makes me think of all of these things when she alludes to times when appearing genderless may

have protected her from sexual harassment or ridicule — or feeling weak, even at a young age. I remember that feeling so clearly. My only advantage was that I was taller and bigger than most of the other boys at school, and at six foot tall, I still tower over many men now. Trinity, on the other hand, is slight, and she has expressed the desire not to be seen as weak but rather as an intellectual mind. That is exactly what I always wanted — to be seen for who I am rather than what I look like. That same desire runs through all of us. We are all different, but acceptance is something that every human wants. Who we are on the inside — our hearts, minds and souls — is the part that matters to all of us, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. Gender equality is a hot topic in our society, especially for women, who are in many cases still treated unfairly. But gender aside, what Trinity is striving for is something that every human identifies with: the desire to be seen for who we are rather than what we look like. It’s the yearning for identity. Trinity believes we should all focus on who we are as individuals, not on the bag of bones we carry around in this life. That, we can all agree, would be the ideal utopian dream, whether you’re masculine or feminine. Characteristics like gender, sexual orientation and skin color are not what most want to be noticed on first impression. We all want to be known for our individual intellects, and leave an impression with our conscious minds.








It’s what makes us all human. Accepting each other as diverse and unique individuals is of the utmost importance. “It’s exactly that,” says Trinity. “There was something that I saw on Facebook, and it basically said, ‘As every cat lover would know, putting yourself in a box is completely different than somebody putting you in a box.’ You can label yourself, and that’s completely fine because labels are meant to define something and help other people — maybe not understand you — but to understand enough to accept.” We are just beginning to have the conversations that are important in bringing this struggle to light. It’s important for anyone to learn to accept themselves, and allow others to be individuals as well. And that is precisely what Trinity is striving for. She believes that everything comes down to how we treat each other. “It’s about respect,” she says. “That’s really all it is. It applies to everything, not just diversity. You do need a backbone, and that’s something I had to learn the hard way, but there also comes a point where you want to be civil.” Kindness is what Trinity is talking about. Human interaction shouldn’t be something that makes us want to retreat. Through kindness, perhaps we can begin to bring out the best in each other. And it all starts with people like Trinity, who show us the way.







THIS IS SOMETHING I feel everyone strives for. If one is not accepted, it is hard to find a place in the world. Society, in my mind, is something that brings people together. However, there are many who feel left behind as outcasts — people who comply and cover themselves in a suit that society hands out, and play the part assigned to them. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just because everyone is human does not mean that everyone will have the same definition when defining themselves, or even each other. It is because of the complexity of humans that things like labels are created. The world at some point has to realize that everyone is different, and that being different is okay. There are those who are trying to become more comfortable with themselves, and this issue of thinking they are “bad” — and should act more feminine or masculine — has gone on long enough.

The only thing that kind of mindset accomplishes is making people feel as if their comfort has no meaning — those selected few who have the courage to challenge norms. I believe everyone should have a chance to live as their ideal self. Lots of people around the world don’t get that opportunity, because of these social standards that are set on their shoulders. In my senior project, I express how society affected the way I not only expressed my gender, but also the way I saw myself. I use Freud’s view on psychology to show this. In psychoanalysis, there are three major terms: superego, ego, and id. Superego represents morals or values. Id represents thoughts that should be repressed. And finally, the ego represents the middle area or the balance between the superego and id. I portray my struggle with photos that capture my longing for release and acceptance. As an individual I consider myself Trinity. Not feminine or masculine. Not a boy or a girl. Having this outlook on self expression, I feel liberated but also further from the community.


This is supported by Freud’s theory as I use society in place of the superego and my gender identity as the id. To further explain, in some photos I am seen by myself in a coffee shop. It is at times that I am alone that the “rules of normality” force themselves into my head, and I am left feeling like I do not belong. However, in others I am seen hanging out with friends in worn-down areas around downtown Springfield. It is then surrounded by those who support me - that I feel pure happiness and comfort. Ultimately, the moral of this article is to make a statement. It is okay to not understand each other, or even to disagree. What is unacceptable is making those of us who have emotions — just like the rest of the world — feel as though their feelings are invalid. Everyone seeks acceptance, and it is easy to give, as it requires neither understanding nor agreement. I would like to see hope in the future — a place of pure happiness, like I feel every time I am accompanied by true friends.


& order

I FIRST MET DAVID SAMPLES when he was the front man for Assembly Line Gods, then a popular metal/rock outfit that has since disbanded. Samples was among some of the first people who embraced Deitra Magazine as I was just starting out, writing about the local music scene. Not only was he an incredible performer and songwriter, he’s also a highlytalented artist and illustrator. I got the chance to interview him during that time to talk about his music and art, and what I found was a highly intellectual and creative mind. One of my all-time favorite people to interview, Samples went on a hiatus for about five years, but has since resurfaced with a renewed artistic focus. Photographer Matt Loveland and I got the chance to catch up with Samples at J.O.B. Social House in Springfield, Missouri. The following is part of our conversation. Tamara Styer: We met because your band invited me up for an interview before I even lived in Springfield. Then I got to see your artwork, and it was really cool to get to know you that way. The marketing side of that band was really influential for me. You guys taught me to do my own thing, because I realized how hard you guys were pushing towards it — you did all your own artwork and logo, and everything was polished, and going in the same direction. It really made a big impression on me for what I wanted to do and inspired me to get my stuff together and polish what I wanted my brand to be. David Samples: That’s really cool. I appreciate that, because I really think that you’re one of the most important fucking people in Springfield. When bands do stuff like that or when artists do stuff, then there’s the audience that might appreciate it, and say, “Oh, that’s neat.” But when there are people like you who — it’s not that you’re a middle man — but it’s like you’re preparing it for people in a way. And you’re framing it in such a way that really makes it more of a worthwhile experience. I kind of feel like sometimes artists don’t appreciate that you need to present yourself in the best possible light, and when you have people like you — your goal is to create all this interesting media, like Deitra Magazine. That’s an amazing goal to have. And if it wasn’t for Deitra Magazine, then all these other artists wouldn’t look as interesting, is the fact of the matter, you know? That’s kind of the reality of it. TS: It excites me to find somebody who I think is doing something cool, and then make them look even more badass, in my way, and put the spotlight on them. In the other way, I’m like, “Here’s the way I’m presenting the dish.” I think sometimes people don’t wrap their minds around it as much as what


you just said. It does make me feel good when people get it. My heart is for artists because I’m trying to do something that’s creative and is super deep inside my soul. DS: Now let me ask you a question. Don’t you think that it’s really just about visualization? It’s about, “I’m gonna do this thing, goddamnit!”

TS: Absolutely. It’s wild what you can do with just an idea in your mind. I also find it unfathomable that people come up with these great ideas and then they never act on it. That’s weird to me. Like, why not, you know? They have this amazing movie idea, or whatever, and I’m the type of person where I want to help you write the script. I want to push you to do it. I’ve also learned that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Not to be cliché about it, but it’s true. So many people say they want to do something in their lives and then they don’t pull the trigger. And then they wonder why they’re unhappy. To me, I feel that Deitra is not only a healing thing for me, but people who work for me or people that I write about, can shine and talk about what they’re passionate about. DS: Right! And it just makes things so much better, because there are so many talented people, even in Springfield. Springfield, you think, “Oh, if I want to do something artistic and meaningful, I need to go to this coast or that coast, or I need to go south,” but Springfield has all sorts of brilliant people.

TS: Springfield seems like it evolves a lot. It just seems kind of like a rolling hill of change all the time, with new people coming in, and it’s very entrepreneurial. I like that about Springfield. DS: Yeah, we’re an interesting experiment, here in the middle of the country. Of course, you can make anything you want from wherever you are, because people want you to do that, even if they don’t realize that they want you to do it. TS: That’s true. When I first moved to Springfield, everywhere you walked there was a photographer doing a photoshoot in an alleyway, or there was an artist with a bag full of art, and he’s carrying it around, and there’s a guitarist playing on the corner of the street. And I always thought that was really cool, because I’m from a really small town and we didn’t really have that. Even the street art is getting cool here. I think that it’s an evolution here, and sometimes the creative scene goes downhill, and other times it has a resurgence. Which is a good segue to this question: I feel like I didn’t see you for a long time on social media or anything, so what is bringing you out and about?

DS: Well, there were some serious life changes in deciding that I was going down maybe the wrong path. That’s a really long, in-depth story, but I got to the point where I was having all these crazy dreams, and I think it was because I was not trying to do as many creative things. There were all these different signs from my subconscious telling me, “You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing anymore, David. What are you doing, David?” I’m the type of person who tries to be scientific and objective, but my mind is very abstract, so I can’t help but notice really abstract things in my life. Some people might consider it superstitious, but just seeing some of the random things someone might say to me during my day, and it would make me think, “That means something.” Like, that person knows something, even if they don’t know they know it. And I have to respond to that. There were things that I thought that

I could do — I thought I could live a certain way and still be the person that I’m supposed to be. After a long time, I realized that’s not really accurate for me. I have to focus on myself. I need to do some sort of job that has some sort of design thing going on, and I have to have a clear direction. I have to have some sort of meaning that I’m pursuing, otherwise my brain doesn’t work. TS: Oh, me too! That is a good way of putting it, because it’s like this cloud goes over me, and I can’t even think straight if I’m not focused on what I am really meant to do. It’s frustrating to me that we made everything about money. You have to have a job. You have to make money to even be able to afford your bills so that you’re not so stressed out, and you’re not living on the street. It’s just kind of fucked up to me

how we set that system up. I do think we’re getting back to it now where everyone is starting to realize, “Oh, maybe I can make money from what I’m good at.” I feel a new renaissance going on. Do you feel like that right now in society? DS: Yeah, absolutely. I saw the beginning of it when I was in the band and we were doing music, and we saw the big music industry turn into smaller things, and then all these “smaller people” able to do bigger things. And that’s true in all the arts. It’s true in visual art as well, and in design, because technology is becoming more intuitive, so all sorts of different types of people can express their ideas in a more palpable and fascinating way. Things like Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign — when you think about what InDesign does for you, compared to what a graphic designer used to have to do, like changing the leading between type. “Okay, I’ll press this button.” And that’s all it takes. That used to be a headache. That used to be a horrible nightmare of work. TS: Even ten years ago it was way more difficult. And now there are free online websites, and things that are pre-built for you, like drag and drop websites. DS: Yeah, and all the education you can get online. Even when I was going to school and studying design and illustration, and some of the time — and this isn’t to denigrate the experience because I’m really grateful for the things I learned from my design teachers and the experiences I had. At the same time, some days we would just look at tutorials in class, because those tutorials are made by brilliant designers who are already professionals. So, yeah, there is a revolution or a renaissance going on that’s allowing people to do all sorts of things on their own. Because we were always able to do it on our own, but we just had this mindset that, “Oh, you have to do this and this, and then you’re good enough.” TS: I know! That used to really stump me before I decided to go ahead and start the magazine. I used to read all these how-to books and instructional books about how to start your own magazine, or how to get paid for writing, and every single one of them was just so closed-minded and made me feel more stumped and more stuck because that’s how you “have to” do it. Like, you have to have a huge amount of money, or you have to have this or that, or else it’ll fail. And listening to that just made me more and more desperate and lost. And then, once I finally started paying more attention to the people who were doing it a different way — like people were starting blogs, or people were doing things a new way online — it just made me look outside the box and realize, “What the fuck am I waiting for?

Like, just do it. Do whatever you can now, there’s no reason you can’t. You don’t have to be the best. Keep experimenting. You should never be done learning. Try it with just any way that you can.” So, when you went to college, did you just do graphic design, or did you do a lot of hand-drawn illustration type classes? DS: When I graduated high school in 2005, first I went to college to be a studio artist — I was a painting major. Then, I took a break — a short seven year break — and ran around with the band and explored music. Then, I went back to school for illustration and graphic design. My major is illustration, but thankfully they make you study a lot of graphic design, and history of graphic design and typography, the basics of typography and things like that. TS: Do you think that has helped you in what you do in your personal art? DS: Yes. In fact, I think that graphic design has made me a better painter and a better illustrator because there’s so much emphasis on fundamentals of design. In a way, it’s holding something back from you — you don’t get to be as expressive, because we normally think of using a paintbrush or using color or using paint. It’s so abstract and fluid that it’s a very expressive thing. If you’re only working in terms of graphic design, you’re working primarily with typography and layout — in a way you can understand the fundamentals of art and creativity in a much deeper way because you’re trying to do more with just body copy, or a display type. It’s not to reduce it in any way, but it’s sort of like holding something back. I don’t get to just paint on things, so it’s making me think in a different way. I still love painting and I love illustration, and I also love comic books, and I want to make comic books.


TS: I was going to ask you about that, because we were looking through your drawings earlier, and a lot of them really reminded me of Marvel and comic book style. Tell me more about that. Do you want to draw for comic books or create your own?

DS: Yeah, I want to create my own, because going back to the renaissance you talked about — that’s also happening in the comic book industry. There are these big comic book companies that, sure, that would be awesome to be able to work for them, but at the same time, you really don’t have to, because then you’re a work-for-hire, then they own everything you do, then they determine when you can even put that on your website to say, “This is this thing that I illustrated,” which might be worth it to some people. That’s completely understandable. Look at Robert Kirkman, the guy who made The Walking Dead. That started out as a comic book, and I’m pretty sure that he just started a company with a credit card. TS: Badass. DS: Yeah, it’s kind of badass, you know? TS: Now he’s got this giant franchise. That’s my kind of stuff right there. I love hearing that. That’s very encouraging. DS: It really is. It’s definitely a different level of thinking about things. TS: I love hearing those kinds of stories because it’s really encouraging. At some point, if you just keep on trying for what you want — at some point it’s going to work out. “Be the last man standing.” I’ve been hearing that a lot. “Just don’t quit. Ever.” People who are successful in this kind of thing — they just didn’t quit. So many people give up. It’s the easy thing to do. So, not to tell me exactly what the premise would be, but what type of comic book would you most like to do? DS: I really like science fiction and science fantasy. I like the future and stories about the future, and how will things be 100 or 200 years from now. I grew up obsessed with that concept of a one-world government. I think that goes back to having a religious background — you always hear about that stuff. It affects all of us in one way or another, so I think that’s an interesting theme. I really like the idea of things that have action and adventure, but then dialogue that’s deep and existential in discussing the crisis of being and the improbability of being — and then people kung fu fight in space (laughs). Something like that.

TS: Are you creating something like that right now? DS: Yeah, there is a book that I’m working on. There have been several things that I’ve worked on to try to hone my abilities, but there’s a specific book that I’m working on. Really, the first issue of that could potentially be done in a matter of months. I’ll probably put that on Kickstarter or Patreon. TS: Tell us about some of the paintings we saw at the photo shoot. DS: The theme behind a lot of those is kind of two-fold. It has to do with the idea of chaos and order, and the idea that the universe emerges from chaos, or that the universe is comprised of chaos and order. But then, specifically, the art itself probably, most objectively, is spontaneity versus control. A lot of the backgrounds are kind of chaotic, and I’ll use acrylic for a background because it’s water-based, and in a lot of ways that can be good because you have less control over it. Then, I’ll use oil over the acrylic, and you can mix oil with turpentine, and then it becomes more chaotic and flowing. But usually you use oil to carefully mix colors and keep things calculated. I’ve been exploring a lot of color theory and trying to express things through color theory and composition. Color is a really complex thing, because color is actually made up of temperature, saturation, value and hue. So, those are the four dimensions of color. And there’s a lot you can get into there. Another consistent theme is the idea of the way that stars form, because stars start as a cloud or a nebula of hydrogen atoms, and then they condense because of the gravity of that cloud, it creates a center point and creates a singularity, and that’s supposedly the way the universe started. In Hinduism, the universe began as a singularity, and that was Shiva. So, there are all these different religious and mystical and scientific themes that I try to reconcile with the things that I do, and I do that by focusing on spontaneity versus control. Because I think that sums it up. TS: I love the way your brain works! Where does that way of thinking come from inside of you?

DS: It’s just an attempt to reconcile things, because I grew up with a religious background, but then I’ve always had a fascination with science. My parents split up when I was 12, and so you then grow up with two stories. That’s kind of a theme of my life: “Here are these two stories that I believe in: science and religion. And then there are these two emotional stories.” That’s always been something that’s kind of dictated what I do. And with the comic books, too — I love comic books, but I’ve had to justify it to myself as, “Well, that’s a serious endeavor. How are you going to make money?” Even if it’s not about money, how do you even make something that’s interesting? It’s just like music. There are thousands and thousands of bands. There are hundreds of millions of songs. So, I’m always having to try and reconcile things with myself, and I have to reconcile my fine artist versus my designer, or my marketer, and try to make those things work together. TS: You have a really eloquent way of putting things. I can tell you really think through how you’re explaining yourself. Do you have a writing background? DS: Oh, yeah. Lyrics, and I’m always writing on my computer. I do that almost as much as I sketch in my sketchbooks. I’ve also taken some fiction classes — fiction writing, short-story writing classes — and those were extraordinarily helpful. It’s good to know how to organize things. I write a similar way to how I paint and draw, and I think everybody actually does this — this isn’t something I invented, but it’s the way I think about things. Everything is constantly going from chaos to order, from the abstract to the defined — and so sometimes I like to really include a lot of automatic writing and freeform stuff, stream-of-consciousness sort of stuff. I really like that sort of thing.

TS: Me too! I love doing that. I don’t know if I’ve ever met another writer who’s really into that. What else do you do? We’ve got writing, art, music… do you still do music? DS: Yeah, I’m still playing guitar and recording my own vocals. It’s all pretty low-tech. Carson [Underwood, the drummer in Assembly Line Gods] and I will still mix things together — he’s gotten really good at engineering and mixing — and we’ll still make some music. I have on my computer and external hard drives probably something approaching like 500 song ideas that will never see the light of day. TS: Why not? DS: Because they’re all too abstract. But some of them will — I shouldn’t say that, ultimately. Some of them will, and I’m still going to do something musical in the near future, I think. TS: That’s exciting to hear. I’m a big fan. That was when I really started fan-girling out. Your artistry really influenced me, and the music really influenced me — and meeting a group of people who really knew what they wanted to do. And you, specifically. You’re a really intelligent and deep thinker, and that really affected me in a cool way. It made me feel saner and more myself to be around people like that. DS: Yeah, you need to associate with other creative people in order to know that this endeavor you’re taking on is worthwhile. Listen to the full conversation between Tamara Styer, David Samples and Matt Loveland on our all new podcast, coming soon to In it, you can hear Samples say things like, “Total order is just as poisonous as total chaos,” and, “The human face is the summarization of the entire universe.” Also check out paintings, illustrations and more by David Samples on Instagram @DavidMSamples227 and on his website,

stevie victory

63 STEVIE VICTORY IS A MULTI-TALENTED artist with a distinct personal style. His acting can be seen on independent films, such as Counting to 1000, a postmodern horror flick, and dramatic narrative film, Seville — which Victory co-directed with Paul Gilard and received the best film award from SATO48 — with Stevie himself landing runner up in the best actor category. He has a solid background in writing and performing music, and is an incredible portrait artist and painter — as well as a master of the Deitra runway. A truly deep soul and creative entity, Stevie has a mind that we could dive into head first. The following is a photo shoot created by Deitra photographer Leslie Tucker, as well as an exclusive interview that merely scratches the surface of this ultra-talented dude.

Deitra Mag: Tell the readers of Deitra Magazine about yourself, and your creative career. Stevie Victory: I am an artist who loves to give the perspectives of the unheard. I cannot imagine a life removed from the one pregnant with creative opportunities I currently relish. I like praying mantises and most other things that are green. I adore passion and romance — alas, I hold many similarities to the praying mantis in that respect. DM: You are an artist, actor, musician, model… Is there anything you can’t do? SV: I am not good at things most people seem to have no problem doing. Serving burgers, cleaning bathrooms, listening to authoritative figures, taking care of plants, going to college and having easy conversations with strangers at parties are all things at which I have an almost repulsive lack of talent. DM: What are your favorite aspects of your creative life? SV: The ones that consume my every sense — of overcoming a project and seeing the closest version of myself inside of it. It’s a rare occasion and keeps me rolling that rock up the hill. DM: Tell us how you got into film! SV: It seems to me that movies are an accumulation of all the other mediums of creativity, so I am naturally drawn to the infinite potential of learning they provide us. I just love the amount you can learn from forcing yourself into the world of another — whether it be the audience, sitting in the directors chair or those in the story behind the eyes of a character, I love it all dearly. DM: What are some of your film projects and where can we find can find them?

DM: What type of art do you do, and what inspires you most to create? SV: I draw, paint, write, direct, act, dance, sing and model — all things with which I am striving to build up and influence others. As I have said, the opportunity to speak from another perspective is what inspires me and I feel like it’s the best way to bring people together, to help us understand each other and do what needs to be done to keep us together. DM: What other things in the creative realm do you dabble in? What would you like to add to your repertoire? SV: Painting is relatively new for me and I hope to one day master it. But most of all, I want to spend more time acting and learning to give the largest part of myself to it that I can. It’s what I first said I wanted to do when I was four years old, and at times I feel my other creative outputs pull me harder and take up more time, making the creative balance of mediums shift. I don’t like feeling out-of-whack like that. My opportunities will increase as I start to do more projects on the west coast, and I am beyond words in my excitement for the near future in that avenue. DM: We met you as a model for Deitra. How has that affected your other creative endeavors? SV: First of all, confidence. It can be hard to find yourself immersed with other creatives in a city such as Springfield if one hasn’t consciously pursued that kind of company. But when it comes to Deitra, it has a magnetic pull for the type. More importantly, the models, members and staff all display an affectionate dose of support and creative input, and that makes it easier to take risks on stage and in wardrobe. DM: What is your ultimate goal in life?

SV: A few would be Counting to 1000 by Josh Pfaff, Posers by Sean Thiessen, Meridian and Seville by Paul Gildard — and then a few other artistic indie projects being released this summer. Most of these films can be viewed on

SV: To put it simply: realize the creative aspirations of my 10-year-old self.

DM: What’s going on in your music career?

SV: If a reader is a fellow creative, message me on Instagram @stevievictory. I always love collaborative projects, so we can mutually learn from one another. If one is just curious about what I do, just see if it’s for you by checking out our music on BandCamp or YouTube. My website will be up later this summer, and the link will be provided in my Instagram bio.

SV: I am currently heading a project with my brother called The Victory Art, and learning to independently produce the music Brandon and I write. So, experimenting with genre is required. That being said, we will have about 15 songs that will be released this summer, and they are all heavily influenced by rock and pop.

DM: How can our readers help support you and see more of what you do?

Facebook: Stevie Victory / The Victory Art Instagram: @stevievictory Bandcamp:


voices of six


A STAPLE OF BRANSON, Missouri’s famous Highway 76 Strip, contemporary vocal band SIX is a showcase of how powerful a cappella can be with six incredible voices. The group is made up of six real brothers — Barry, Kevin, Lynn, Jak, Owen and Curtis — who have dedicated their lives to the craft of orchestrating songs, each with a unique vocal ability. It is incredible to hear the variance in each of their voices. Their many years of vocal training and experience are showcased with a variety of tones, both when singing in perfect unison, but also a variance of tone and vocal control within each singer’s individual voice. They have the ability to blend their voices with pitch-perfect, smooth harmonies, and adversely to each showcase their own particular tones, incredible octave ranges and most notably, the type of precision that only comes with years of perfecting a craft. When they sing in unison, it is enough to give us goosebumps. Following is our exclusive interview with these incredibly talented artists. We are honored to have this group in the pages of our magazine, and we cannot wait to see their live show again. Performing songs with a wide variety of styles and genres, there’s something for everyone, including songs by the Beach Boys, Journey and so many more. But their beautiful rendition of traditional American folk song, “Shendandoah” and the powerful Simon & Garfunkel tune, “The Sound of Silence,” particularly resonated with us. It’s the powerful moments in music like this that create some of the most memorable times in our lives, and remind us that this part of the country has so much musical talent.

SIX: (Barry) I think we all share a few groups, like the Beach Boys, Boston, Four Freshmen, etcetera. SIX: (Curtis) There was a big hit in the 80s by an a cappella group called The Nylons. It was “Kiss Them Goodbye,” which was a cover, but we really liked them back then. But like I said, it was more of the older brothers back then. DM: So you were just watching these guys? SIX: For a couple years, yes. SIX: (Barry) So, to clarify, there have been about 13 configurations of this group. But like Curtis said, our father helped the five older ones of us get started, and as we developed various interests and did our own thing, we decided we should make it a six-man show. DM: So how does that work with you guys working together as brothers? Is it pretty friendly? SIX: (Jak) As far as that goes, I like to believe that most of us are mature enough to realize that getting along is more effective than bickering and arguing over petty differences. DM: Do you think that is easier as brothers than it would be with other people? SIX: (All) Yes, I believe so. SIX: (Owen) And with us, there is kind of like an unspoken hierarchy. So, sometimes the younger ones will kind of get a little more stubborn and may not totally agree with what majority of the group is doing. DM: How do you guys decide what songs you’re going to do? Do you decide that collectively?

Deitra Mag: Tell me a little about your backgrounds in music. SIX: (Curtis) I am the youngest member in our singing group. We are all brothers. My five older brothers started singing and performing in 1975. I was around five years old then, and my father thought I was too young to be fully implemented in the group. Our dad would teach us parts on the piano. We also learned to site read along the way. It was a lot of informal training — we didn’t go to college, we didn’t take voice lessons or anything. We did have some voice coaches and a few dance lessons, but for the most part we are self-taught.

SIX: (Barry) A lot of times a brother will bring an idea to the table, and if enough of us catch on to it, we will pursue it. Like Jak just brought “Sound of Silence” to the table, and each one of us were receptive to it in various degrees. We just finished learning it. We will typically find recordings of the song that we are considering, and one of the criteria is that we would like for that song to have been released at least twice over the course of several generations, so there is a wide range of ages that recognize the songs. We find as many recordings of that song and listen to them, and then we are kind of able to develop a flavor. We only have four voices we’re working with, because Jak is our resident bass and Owen is our beatbox. We have to find a way to make the song as full as possible with four voices — a lead vocalist, backup vocalists and also vocalists who are trying to mimic the instrumental side. SIX: (Lynn) When we’re incorporating all six voices, it’s like four singers, a bassist and some drums. DM: Everything we’ve heard sounds really full and very exuberant — almost punchy.

SIX: (Barry) If you are not taught by someone else you don’t run the risk of being in their box of thinking. I am grateful we have been able to teach ourselves a lot of things, and model ourselves from a few different groups we admire.

SIX: (Barry) The concept behind our approach really developed when there were four of us in the group, and we were singing at this 30s and 40s club down at Newport Beach. It was really cool. There was this place called Bubbles and we got a gig there once a week. There was just four of us at the time, so we hired a drummer and a bassist to be our backup.

DM: And who are some of those artists that have inspired you?

SIX: (Jak) Like, a stand-up bassist.


DM: We often hear there are a lot more courteous people in this part of the country. SIX: (Jak) The kids say, “Yes ma’am,” and “Yes sir.” None of them say that anywhere else. It’s almost unsettling, how nice people are here. It’s like, “What’s your angle? What do you want from me?” But they’re like, “I’m just trying to be a good neighbor. Here, have a meatloaf.” DM: Okay, and now you have that in the voice. That’s so cool. Are you guys originally from there? SIX: (All) Yes, California! SIX: (Jak) We moved out there around ‘87 with literally just the clothes on our back, a few hundred dollars between us and an old Ford pickup. We literally slept in the back of the pickup. But we would go sing on the streets of L.A. just about every night. We would practice all day and then go perform. We started doing Hollywood parties and stuff like that. DM: That’s awesome. SIX: (Jak) Yeah, we went and did this birthday party at an average home in Santa Monica. There were about 12 people at it, but it turned out the guy from all the Predator movies was there, so this lady approached us and said, “Sit by your phone. Joel [Hynek] will be calling you.” So, we ended up being in this movie, Action Jackson, that he was starring in. DM: Coming from the midwest, California seems like such a cool state. SIX: (Barry) There is an excitement out there, you know? Both New York and L.A. The energy out there is completely different, and you can see why so many people are drawn to those metropolitan areas. DM: What brought you guys out to Branson? SIX: (Lynn) Well, we traveled for years and we got really tired of it. We did fairs, festivals, cruise ships — really anything we could do to make a living. We just got really tired of it. We had families and kids back at home. And then 9/11 happened. DM: Did that put a big damper on travelling? SIX: (All) Yes, and we were outside of the country when that happened and couldn’t get home. SIX: (Lynn) So we decided, ‘Hey, let’s figure out a way we can do this without traveling anymore.” We started in Las Vegas, but soon discovered maybe we really didn’t belong there. DM: For any particular reason? SIX: (Lynn) I think the last straw for me was when the showroom directors asked us to do our show with our shirts off. Like, who wants to see 40-year-old men with their shirts off? I decided it was ridiculous. So I decided to take a family trip with my two kids and wife down to the midwest. We stopped here in Branson and the wheels in my head were turning like, “This is where we belong.” I called my brothers and told them we could play here.

DM: This part of the country has a wholesome feel to it, but Branson is also starting to grow into this amusement park that is going to start bringing in a lot of younger audiences and new people. What do you guys think that is going to do for your show? SIX: (Jak) I have never really worried about trying to do music a certain demographic is going to like. I think people have had a longheld schtick that Branson is for retired people, but they don’t realize that they are growing old with these retired people, too. And what have these retired people grown up on? The Eagles, The Stones, Boston — all these groups that were in when they were kids. I think to a certain extent, you have to take into account who’s coming, but you also have to realize you are the one putting on 240 shows a year, and if I had to do music I didn’t enjoy, I would rather just be a greeter at a store somewhere. You have to do stuff you enjoy doing. DM: What are your favorite songs or bands to perform? SIX: (Barry) I really like “Sound of Silence,” which we have just learned. This funny kind of phenomenon happens when we learn a new song. It refreshes the whole show. It is definitely my favorite part of the show to get to right now. We have done some Coldplay songs, also, which is always fun. DM: So you guys try to get a mix of 70s, 80s and modern in there? SIX: (Jak) Yeah, right now we open up the second half with a classic rock montage, which is Queen, The Eagles and Kansas — that kind of stuff. I really enjoy just to rock it out. DM: It’s fascinating how often you guys perform. Tell us a little about what it’s like. What is your daily life like as a performer here? SIX: (Lynn) Once we get a new season going and all the learning and rehearsing is over, we just get the show going and it is all memorized. It really isn’t that hard to do one show a day. It is like a really nice part-time job. I love it. SIX: (Curtis) Like Lynn said, once we get in the groove of everything we are doing, we just show up for work and do the show — as long as none of us are battling sickness or a cold. If that happens, it is really frustrating, especially for us, because we don’t have a backup track or anything, since everything we do is vocal. It’s really just us, so if we are under the weather, there isn’t really anybody to help you out. DM: So if you’re sick, people can hear it. SIX: (Curtis) Depends on how bad it is. If it isn’t so bad, you can sorta hide it because you have five other voices to kind of help cover.

SIX:(Jak) And more and more things started pointing us here.

SIX: (Barry) If it’s bad, we will pull a song out of the show with that lead vocalist.

SIX: (Barry) We also realized when we did festivals and stuff down here, it just felt right, and the people down here are genuinely good people.

SIX: (Curtis) So, it is important that we get enough rest, eat what we are supposed to be eating, try to stay well — but sometimes you get sick. It just happens.

DM: What’s the wind-down time like after the show? SIX: (Jak) I think we are all pretty different about that. Some of us go work out. I cannot go to bed until probably like 2:00 a.m. SIX: (Barry) For two hours, you kind of have a focused energy and you just have to be so focused on the show. SIX: (Jak) I think the amount of energy you spend in the two hours — it might as well equal an eight hour job. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, what the audience is doing — you are studying them, too. You can’t just sit there and mail it in, because that shows up on your face, too. It is very focused up there. DM: Yeah, that is intense. SIX: (Jak) So to call it a part-time job — yeah, technically, but it is fulltime energy. DM: What do you guys do in town to let go of some of that stress? SIX: (Barry) I am actually very low-key when it comes to that. I do next to nothing. I’ll just go home to wind down and sometimes my wife — bless her heart, she is so sweet — wants to discuss work and sometimes I just have to ask her if it’s okay if I go braindead. So, for me, the best thing to do is to just close down shop, unplug and recharge that way. SIX: (Jak) I enjoy riding my bike around town. There are some pretty interesting places to ride depending on the time of day. I don’t think people really pay attention to people riding on bikes. I feel like you’re more anonymous. And then, in the summertime, the lake is awesome.

DM: Do you think that is one of the reasons you guys like working here? Because it is more serene? SIX: (Kevin) Yes, that could be it for sure. It is a small town with big city action. DM: That sort of ties in with the stigma about Branson you mentioned earlier. Do you guys think that is changing lately? SIX: (Barry) I mean, we hope so, but we are right in the middle of it. We aren’t out of state like we used to be. We heard about Branson and the stereotype was old people and bluegrass, so yeah, every once in a while, we had fellow entertainers ask us about Branson, and it was no big thing for us. Until Lynn came out here with his family like he said before — and Lynn is one of the brothers with a little more credibility, so we listened to him. Lynn has always had a good head on his shoulders. SIX: (Curtis) This is our 12th season in Branson. I think we have definitely seen a demographic change from a lot of seniors to a lot of baby boomers. We have definitely seen a change in the types of things people buy. At least, I have seen that shift in the last 10 years or so. SIX: (Barry) We have witnessed a lot of people come who were just showgoers, and the next thing we know they are moved here. SIX: (Curtis) We were performing 30 years before we came to Branson, [and] this is where we found the best gig that we have ever done. Follow SIX on Facebook @SixBros, check out live music videos on YouTube and purchase tickets to the live show on their website,


deitra + reverb d









nation THIS ISSUE OF DEITRA MAG features an exciting new element. ReverbNation contacted us with the proposition of doing a campaign in which their multitude of independent artists could submit their songs to land a feature in Deitra Magazine and our website, Teaming up with the online music platform that has helped countless musicians on their way to success could only expand on our mission to shine a spotlight on independent creatives everywhere. Out of over 2,600 entries from all over the world, we originally planned to choose five standout musicians and bands to feature in the pages of our magazine. After weeks of listening to each and every artist who submitted their songs, we couldn’t bring ourselves to narrow it down to less than seven. If we could have included over 100, we would have! The world is full of independent artists who posess that magical element we are always looking for. It is our belief that there is more hidden talent in the world than there are famous entertainers, and our quest to bring those artists out from the underground is a continued success. The following pages are interviews and reviews of just some of our favorites. We chose artists that struck a chord in our hearts, made us move, and songs that stuck around in our heads to this day.





- Editor-In-Chief, Tamara Styer

SALIO Pop / Neo Soul / World Song Submitted: “Bring Me Love”

WITHIN THE FIRST THREE seconds of hearing SALIO, we sent her an offer. Her voice is seasoned with a raspy, velvety tone — equal parts emotion and control. Her songwriting is commanding, and holds the depth of an artist who is in tune with her own creative point of view. “Bring Me Love” is a jazzy, neo-soul tune that makes us move, but the rest of SALIO’s playlist is worth a good listen, with songs like the soulful acoustic ballad “Lonesome Tales,” and a smattering of europop dance and experimental electronica songs.


ABOUT THE ARTIST: My name is SALIO, and I am from the Republic of Georgia. I have been writing music since I was 9 years old. I enjoy traveling the world to experience, perform and learn. I am doing my best to spread a message of love, hope and care in a place seemingly, at present, full of envy and greed. Being featured in Deitra hopefully helps us create a stronger force for the positive. That is why I am here. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: My family is Georgian, so a good old family sing-song is very usual at Shanidze, and has been since I can remember. I was brought up like this and I guess that this is what created my interest in becoming a vocalist and composer. My dad has very big lungs and we have our own harmonic scale in Georgia. We also had two CDs in our house while I was growing up: Rocket Man by Elton John, and a Ray Charles album. I used to love dancing to “Rocket Man” with my younger sister and brother. I also began learning the piano at an early age with a very mean woman who kept telling me how ugly and talentless I was. I was 11 when I wrote “Varsklavebj,” or “Stars” in Georgian, and my parents thought it was a joke. The same piano teacher told me nobody would ever like the song. A few years later, it was a national hit, and is now a song which old and young sing alike in our Republic. For some children, it is the first song they learn, which makes me feel very proud and happy. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: I love listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Etta James, Nina Simone — these are my girls. These are my teachers. I love the sound from that era created by these girls. I like singers and singing with soul. INSPIRATION: Life in general has made me write and perform music more and more. I find it has been a creative vent for feelings, whether they be sadness, happiness or anything in between. When I was 15, my friend Giorgi was stabbed and killed at 13 years old, leading to my song called “He Flew Away.” It was cathartic for me, as I had felt so empty and lost after his disappearing, and writing this song gave me an opportunity to say goodbye to a friend that I may have not otherwise had. That was a long time ago, though. Mostly, I love that moment when you are lost in the song and nothing else exists. It is electric. When I perform on stage this happens a lot for me, especially now that I have had some time on stage and in studios with serious musicians. Recently [my band in Georgia] put on a performance to provide some funding to help a young girl walk again in Tbilisi. This was a lovely moment in time for us all, I think, and reminded me about the power of music and what good it can — and certainly should — be used for. I hope she walks soon and has the freedom most enjoy without the understanding of the luxury they have. SIGNATURE SOUND: I am still searching for a sound to call “mine.” I don’t ever think I will. I have worked with a number of different producers, especially over the last three years. The Lost World EP was produced by Jonathan Holder and Andrew Hunt in London, and has its own pop sound. Electronic Excursions was produced by another Brit and has had interesting comments made about it, from Bjork comparisons to “completely lacking rhythm.” The Studio Sessions EP was a much more acoustically driven project set up in Baltimore and has a more organic, professional sound. Songs I have been working on recently range from a smooth jazz cover of Ray Charles’ song “Georgia On My Mind,” with Dean James, to commercial dance, to trip hop, to


downtempo dub. I don’t care about a “sound,” I just need to feel it. I have only ever sung from my heart. ON SONGWRITING: I prefer it when I sit at the piano and launch into something with chords and let the harmonies come naturally. The songs are generally about what is going on in my head at the time, no matter the music, which can basically mean anything. My tastes have changed from when I was a child singing about love with Joss [Stone] in the Petra Fortress, to an understanding a child does not have, which I possess now. Joss was lovely, by the way — truly a good soul. I loved singing with her. But inspiration comes from all avenues of life, whether mine or my understanding of others. Whether it be the murders of your friends, a book you have read or merely staring at the ground. It does not matter as long as you feel the soul of each moment. “Where The River Flows” is about death and the uncertainty surrounding it. “Lonesome Tales” is about looking back as your time draws on. “Let It Shine” is about men being so very predictable.

ON PERFORMING: I love performing live. I love the moment when everyone is hanging on your every word, and you have the ability to set the crowd alight. That is truly a privilege and an honor. I find recording much more laborious. Producers are always trying to get the “perfect” enunciation for their vision of what the lyrics and harmonies should be, and they drive me — sorry for my French, fellas — fucking nuts. The stage is where I feel most at home, with as large an audience as humanly possible. The audience is infectious, and I love feeling their energy and being part of it. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: I would very much hope to start playing more international shows to larger audiences and work with more serious musicians who are not in it to be “cool” or “hip” or too “serious” — people who just get it. I would like to have a show where people stop, take notice and think, “Wow! Who is that?” I am still trying to combine soul music with funk and hard, driven bass to create a performance which works for nightclubs as well as festivals — where people can dance together but still be in tune with a kind of organic feel. My dream is to take this sound — which is in every one of our hearts — on tour, and spread the same heartfelt message which I know we all have. In unity and respect for each other, make us positive, where everyone can dance and enjoy together, and smile. Find SALIO’s music on Spotify and iTunes, and check out the video of SALIO singing an original song with Joss Stone, along with several live perfomances and music videos on YouTube. ReverbNation: SoundCloud: Facebook: @SalioOfficial Instagram: @salio_music Twitter: @salio_official Official Website:



cusson Singer Songwriter / R&B / Pop Song Submitted: “Leaving L.A.” A PHENOMENAL SINGER AND piano player, Matt Cusson crafts soulful, jazzy blues songs that melt us into a sweet state of mind. With the vocal finesse of Adam Levine and the oh-so-buttery John Mayer, he’s one of the better male vocalists we’ve heard — like, ever. From vocal control to dynamics, Cusson has us captivated. And with the addition of compelling song arrangements, as well as background vocals, soulful R&B has met its match. If this guy’s music isn’t in your playlist, you are missing out.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: I’ve been in the music business for over 10 years. I’m a self-taught pianist and guitarist, and spend most of my time touring, producing and writing. I recently released my sophomore album, Only Human, as well as a two-song Christmas EP last December. Currently, I’m honored to say I’m a finalist for the John Lennon Songwriting Awards. INSPIRATION: One of my favorite things as a musician is getting together all over the world with other musicians and finding that common musical conversation. Whether we’re playing, writing or even just listening, it’s amazing how music can truly bring people together. I also love creating something from nothing. It’s so fun and stressful and funny and inspiring to sit at a piano, play a couple chords, write a lyric, then bring it to the string or horn session, arrange all that, mix, master — and here’s this amazing song that people will love, hate, cry over or dance to at their wedding. SIGNATURE SOUND: Honestly, the one thing that may have been a fault in my career is I don’t have a particular genre. I usually describe it as “genre-less.” I love all types of music, and I write whatever inspires me. Quincy Jones once said, “Let the song write itself,” and I kind of follow that advice. I love the songs out there that aren’t written with the purpose of writing a hit or certain style. I love it when inspiration starts the song, hard work finishes it and musical instincts are what make decisions instead of business. ON SONGWRITING: I wrote all of the songs on my latest album, except for one cover. The songs on that album, although stylistically very different, kind of all come together with a similar theme, for the most part. The theme leans on a very insecure person who doesn’t mind being extremely vulnerable and talking about all of his insecurities and problems, all the while finding a counterpart who ends up saving his life in many ways. It’s comical in parts and gets very deep in others. Every song is different. It’s impossible to pinpoint a process or an inspiration. Some songs start with a lyric or a chord progression, but most start with a melody in my head, over chords. I usually suss out a verse, or a chorus or hook, then make some kind of demo and see where that takes me. Sometimes, I reach out to a musician friend of mine to play something on it and it opens up a whole new path for me.

FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: Something about the 70s was super sexy to me — everyone being free, and just so many different songwriters and styles. That decade gave us Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Joni Mitchel and Paul Simon. But then, the 80s came along, Prince showed up, 80s Stevie was there and Michael Jackson ruled everything. Then, there was the 60s with The Beatles and Miles Davis changing music a few times over. The longer I rant, the less specific of an era I choose. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: I grew up playing piano. My mom was a piano teacher, so I constantly heard the scales and finger exercises. My dad was a total music head, and used to arrange and conduct for choirs. My sister was the funk queen, my brother was the singer/songwriter guy and I’m 10 years younger than them, so I just soaked all of it in when I was growing up. I started playing guitar around 16 or so, then started really diving into sounds and production when I was about 18, and fell in love with that process. I went to Berklee College of Music for a year before meeting a musical idol of mine, Brian McKnight, early in my third semester. He heard me play and sing, and I literally dropped out of college that night and flew to his home in L.A. the next day to write and record. It was pretty surreal. Ever since, I’ve been touring and making music for myself and a lot of others. ON RECORDING: My favorite thing is just playing music and creating it. It’s as simple as that. There’s nothing like closing my eyes at a piano and singing something I wrote that meant a lot to me. There’s nothing like applause, a “woo,” a laugh. I love hearing different people’s interpretations of a song that means something completely different to someone else. I love it when another musician says, “Man, that chord change,” or, “Those horns!” It’s just fun. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: Everything I did yesterday, I want to double up and do tomorrow on top of new things I want to try. Find Matt Cusson’s new album, Only Human, on Spotify and iTunes, and check out live videos and more on YouTube. ReverbNation: Facebook: @mattcusson Instagram: @mattcusson Twitter: @mattcusson Official Website:


of vaudeville Alternative Rock / Progressive Punk Cabaret Song Submitted: “The Dreaming”


DELIVERING DREAMY MELODIC GUITARS, powerful alt-rock vocals reminiscent of Muse’s Matt Bellamy and a cabaret-infused punk sound, Marquis of Vaudeville is expounding upon a brand that was begging to be captured by a band that worships its roots. Their new album, The Tragic Valentine, is listenable from start to finish, with moody melodies, driving rhythms and a dark, vaudevillesque undertone that paints throughout, while remaining radio friendly. The album portrays a moody, gothic element, ending with a fittingly creepy cover of Bowie’s “Nature Boy.” Often equated to the dark films of Tim Burton, and citing composer Danny Elfman as a musical influence, the band captures moments of grandeur reminiscent of theatrical greats like the operatic Queen. This is absolutely the kind of band we like to see perform live: their polished alt-rock sound and musicality notwithstanding, a oneof-a-kind, theatrical stage show is what keeps their fans coming back. Ever wished for a male-fronted rock band to produce more music like No Doubt’s carnivaleque ska track “Tragic Kingdom?” Now you’ve got it.


ABOUT THE BAND: We’re an alt-rock outfit that began writing music with the inkling that imagination and a fantastical escape for the listener would be the overall inspiration behind its composition. We continue to strive for that imaginative essence in all that we do. We’re excited to be featured here in Deitra Magazine because of its cutting-edge coverage of music, fashion and culture. INSPIRATION: We love to tell stories, and music affords us a way to tell them in a creative way. We want to give people something to daydream about — give them hope, open their eyes, hearts and minds — and we’ve found that messages can be more profound and persuasive when woven secretly within the melodies of music. SIGNATURE SOUND: We’re known for our theatrical, Tim Burton-esque musical stylings, as we tend to fuse timeworn elements of the old world with newfangled rock innovation. It’s a sound we’ve affectionately dubbed “melodic mischief.” We create music that we want to create, not music that fits into any single definable genre — although it is all deliberate and focused. We prefer to allow the listener to label us however they wish. We want those who listen to interpret and to get whatever they want and need out of the music without being coerced into how to feel or into what the songs should mean to them. ON SONGWRITING: Toby (vocals) is our primary songwriter, along with Bryan, our guitarist. But we all pitch ideas around among each other. Although the songs we write often touch on facets relative to anyone’s life, they’re quite often wrapped up within — and somewhat veiled behind — an imagined story dealing with some sort of chimerical idea, such as star-crossed vampire lovers, vengeful stage magicians, mysterious, whimsical circuses, plundering gentleman highwaymen, intriguing labyrinthine understreets, mad scientist toymakers or the anthropomorphic personification of death. We find inspiration in all sorts of varied sources: dreams, art, literature, film, theatre (typically, indie, cult, fantasy/sci-fi), classic works, the fantastical, the out-of-the-ordinary, as well as the cosmos, love, liberty, mythology, mysticism, mystery and magic. A great many of our influences can be dark, yet playful — because that’s a bit of who we are. Our songs are generally developed from a simple melodic vocal idea and built upon from there. Whatever mood strikes, or idea inspires Toby, he can typically hear the simplified musical layers in his head and then shares with Bryan and the rest of the band to develop them more and expand upon them. Writing music for Toby is much like imagining an elaborate puzzle and then piecing it all together in his mind. Other times, Bryan might bring a guitar part and vocal melody to the table and we mold from there. We feel a good song must have a certain intriguing element to all of its parts and components, so we play off one another to develop the layers until we’re in love with it as a whole. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: 60s psychedelic, 70s glam, 80s post punk, goth and new wave. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: Some of us were educated musically, others were self-taught. But all studied hard. Toby and Bryan were previously in a spacey band called

Stara Zagora that had a development deal with Geffen records around the early 2000s, yet in that band, Bryan played bass and Toby played guitar. Soon after Stara Zagora disbanded in 2004, they formed a Beatles/ Bowie-influenced modern glam rock band called Wonderfool which ultimately would see some of the songs forming the foundation of Marquis of Vaudeville. Geneva, our bassist, and Noah, our drummer, have been in multiple alternative and rock bands over the years. PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHT: When someone expresses how your music has touched their life in a positive way or has helped them through some difficult time in their life. There is nothing more rewarding as musicians, in our opinion. ON PERFORMING TOGETHER: There’s heart, and a lot of it. We give every performance everything we have. We strive to make our performances more of an experience than a mere show. The songs have a lot of energy, and although they might have a slight creepy vibe, they’re also playful and fun so the fans really get into what we’re doing. Other than jumping up and down or head banging, you don’t see a lot of people dancing at rock shows anymore, but at our shows, people dance. It’s wonderful to see. We feed off the energy and off one another. FAN APPEAL: Our music is for the dreamers of the world — the hopeful, the lost, bullied, ignored, the world’s forgotten. Yet the songs are written to be accessible to anyone. We want every listener to find that piece of what we do that speaks directly to them. We speak out for those who feel they don’t have a voice, or for those who are tired of life’s mind-numbing mediocrity and desperately wish for something more than the mundane. CLAIM TO FAME: You can hear us on radio across the globe, and our music can be found in many films and TV shows, such as the syndicated series Charmed, Showtime’s hit series Dexter or films such as Trust Me. We also independently conceived, produced and directed our awardwinning music video for “We’re All Mad Here,” and since its release it has been accumulating accolades across the global video and film festival scene. ON FASHION: We tend to find inspiration for our attire primarily from neoVictorian styles with elements of British Regency, Edwardian and Rococo. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: We’re looking forward to touring around and supporting The Tragic Valentine and are looking at venturing overseas for a spell this year. We’re also going to be working on several new music video ideas in the upcoming months. A comic book that coincides with the The Tragic Valentine is currently in the works and we’ve also been toying with the idea of a musical revolving around the album’s story. ADVICE TO ASPIRING MUSICIANS: Don’t ever stop. Do what you love. Have vision, focus and purpose. Stay true to yourselves. Be different. Be genuine. Be fearless. Find music by Marquis of Vaudeville on Spotify and iTunes, and check out their music videos on YouTube. ReverbNation: Facebook: @MarquisofVaudeville Instagram: @marquisofvaudeville Twitter: @MarqofVaude Official Website: YouTube:

gabe lopez

Pop / Rock / Dance Song Submitted: “Lasso”

AN AMERICAN POP-ROCK singer/songwriter and producer, Gabe Lopez caught our ear with his popular single, “Lasso.” It showcases a strong hook, as well as a blend of danceable pop and rock elements. The accompanying music video tells the story of two friends with an underlying romantic entanglement. Lopez recently crossed the US and UK, opening for Belinda Carlisle on her 2014-2017 tours at venues such as the Indigo at the O2, Manchester Academy, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, The Fonda in LA and B.B. King’s NYC. With a number of accolades under his belt, including radio play and landing on various top 100 charts, Lopez is making a name for himself in the new pop generation.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: I’m a singer-songwriter and producer from southern California. I’ve written and produced hits by New Kids on the Block, Belinda Carlisle, Korean pop artists and more — and I also release my own solo music. INSPIRATION: Music is just something I have to do. It’s the way I communicate best. Music is how I understand the world. I feel so lucky that I get to do music for a career. I’m so immersed in it, and it’s still exciting to me. SIGNATURE SOUND: I’ve always listened to and loved the Beatles, Sheryl Crow, Madonna, Michael Jackson and others. I love all styles of music. I find that all of that inspiration finds its way into my creative catalogue. My sound is pop-rock with flares of sass and grit. ON SONGWRITING: There’s a feeling I get — it’s like a need. It’s like when you’re hungry and you know it’s time to eat. It makes me have to create — and it’s usually a result of whatever is going on in my life or in the world. Sometimes I write the music first, sometimes the lyrics, and when I’m really lucky they happen at the same time. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: It really depends on my mood. I think it’s a three-way tie between the 60s, 80s and 90s. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: I’ve sung since I was about four. I’ve always loved to do it. We didn’t have money for piano lessons when I was little, so I taught myself by ear — guitar, too. Then, I started writing my own songs and recording them at home. I learned more in college and then dove into the music business in L.A. ON RECORDING: There’s such a kick I get out of creating something new that wasn’t there before. Of course, art is inspired by other art, but still — you take those ingredients and make something new out if it. I really enjoy that process. Showcasing that music in front of an audience is rewarding, as well. It makes the music even more alive. FAN APPEAL: Usually it’s about the song. People respond to elements of the song — the hook, the melodies. Some people like the live show and how it’s consistent with the recordings. CLAIM TO FAME: I guess it depends on who you ask. To some, I’m a producer of this artist or that; to some I’m a songwriter. To others, I’m the solo artist. I’m just thankful to be on people’s radar. ON PERFORMING: I get very nervous beforehand. Once I’m out on stage, however, I have a great time. I kind of get lost in the moment, too. Sometimes it feels like I’m watching the show.

ON FASHION: Black jeans, guyliner, something chic, something witchy. Balayaged hair. Sometimes, a lace glove and a black ascot. I pull from Stevie Nicks, Bowie, Jagger and others. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: There are so many artists I want to produce and write for. I have a long list. I hope to get through half of my list. Also, I always have wanderlust, so I’m ready to go back on tour. ADVICE TO ASPIRING MUSICIANS: Practice your craft. Stay focused. Be honest, play fair and work hard. Find music by Gabe Lopez on Spotify and iTunes, and check out music videos and more on YouTube.

89 ReverbNation: Facebook: @gabelopezsongs Instagram: @gabelopez Twitter: @gabelopezsongs Official Website:

undecided future Pop / Funk Rock / Dance Pop Song Submitted: “Superfine”

AT FIRST GLANCE, YOU might be expecting an early-2000s boy band clone, but Undecided Future is an outright funk-driven pop band with a smartly-executed underlying element of 80s synth and 70s disco. Their sound is making a rise in the music industry, getting radio play, prominent publication features — and landing a spot on Ryan Seacrest’s new YouTube Original, Best.Cover.Ever, where they were chosen to perform by Ludacris and Jason Derulo. Their self-titled EP showcases maturity in songwriting, a rhythm section with a deep pocket and impressive falsetto vocal acrobatics from front man Matt Isaac. And all this coming from a group of multi-talented So-Cal teenagers.

ABOUT THE BAND: Our band met while in high school. We all went to a performing arts high school called Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California. Matt and Matisse wanted to form a band, so they found Nick, Cole and Hayden at school. We had our first rehearsal in Matisse’s garage and it just clicked. That was six years ago. We met in eighth or ninth grade, and now we are 19-21 years old. INSPIRATION: We all have a passion for music, and always have. We all want to become famous and make money performing — a lot of money. We love writing, being together and developing songs, music, compositions and ourselves as a group. We want to be exciting on stage and have fun, and make people have fun and dance to our music. SIGNATURE SOUND: We started out as a ska band. There’s a song on our first EP called “Rich Kids” that’s a classic ska song we actually had a following for in high school. It’s a fun story about a good-looking rich kid taking a girl away from a guy who only had a bus pass. We had a lot of fun with ska, but decided that we would have more fans if we wrote pop music, so we switched gears and wrote and performed pop covers and originals. Now, I would say that we are pop-funk with some hip hop and R&B influences. We like to play current music and be relevant to the young adults our age. ON SONGWRITING: Nick and Matt have written the majority of the songs. Cole has written a few and Hayden and Matisse add lyrics to polish what was written, or write their own rap verses. We love to write lyrics about our own passions, stories and girlfriends, but we usually have a funny or fun story to tell. We’re not super serious in writing or on stage, but we can write a serious song and perform seriously if we need to. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Aquabats, Jimi Hendrix, Anderson Paak, Jamiroqaui, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Justin Timberlake, The Eagles, Beach Boys, Maroon 5, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys — there are just so many genres, old and new, that we draw inspiration from. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: Matt’s dad was a lead singer in a band and Matt learned to give a fun performance from him. Matisse’s dad is a professional drummer, so Matisse was born a drummer. Nick learned and played classical piano in third grade. Cole and Hayden started playing guitar in third grade. So we all have different musical backgrounds, but together we have a unique sound and vibe that people seem to enjoy. ON RECORDING: We usually have all of our songs and ideas ready to go when we get to a recording studio. But we are perfectionists, especially Nick. We all hear things that we want

to make better, so as long as we have time in the studio, we will work until it gets done and everyone is happy. We rarely leave anything unfinished or in a way that someone doesn’t like their part. FAN APPEAL: Our fans come out to our show knowing that they are going to smile, laugh, dance and have a lot of fun. We can do some pretty crazy things on stage, like when Cole, our guitarist, switches places with Matisse, our drummer, and Matisse goes crazy singing and dancing to one of the verses in a song we cover. The crowd loves seeing Matisse in the front because he’s probably the craziest of our group and people love a little danger during our set. We also go wireless and Cole, Hayden and Matt will go out and sing in the audience. People love dancing with them as they play. CLAIM TO FAME: Our claim to fame is just being us — being who we are as individuals. But our second claim to fame is when we performed on Best.Cover.Ever. with Jason Derulo. We had to cover three of his songs in our Undecided Future style and out of thousands of submissions, he picked the winner. We won and now we have a video with Jason Derulo that has over seven million views. ON PERFORMING: We have worked with Usher’s artist development team for over a year now, so we now have a fun, funky, stage performance with us dancing, singing and having a lot of fun on stage, which is contagious to our audiences. ON FASHION: We are working more on branding and stage performances. We mix it up and don’t take ourselves too seriously. We typically work with industry professionals so that our photos, mastering, mixing and everything we do is the best quality we can get. We also work with friends from art school who help us out with videos, photography and things we want to produce. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: Well, our future is kind of undecided… haha, not really — just a joke. We have decided that our future in the music industry is in fact decided. We are all committed to get this band off the ground. We are friends, brothers and everything to each other. We’ve spent a lot of nights on each others couches and floors over the past six years. We have a long way to go, but we have some of the best in the industry behind us. It’s just a matter of time, and then that lucky record label is going to put us on their roster. ADVICE TO ASPIRING MUSICIANS: We think evolving as an artist is what it’s all about. Never get stale, never stand still. Keep doing what you’re doing and love every minute of it. Otherwise, it’s not worth doing it. Find music by Undecided Future on Spotify and iTunes, and check out both videos of their appearance on Best.Cover.Ever. with Jason Derulo on YouTube, along with live performance videos. ReverbNation: FaceBook: @UndecidedFuture Instagram: @Undecided_Future Twitter: @UndecidedFutur1 Official Website:

gabriel harris group Rock / Blues Song Submitted: “Illusions Die”


GABRIEL HARRIS HEADS UP this musical group with bluesy guitar licks and a honeyed, old-soul voice. Harris draws much of his musical inspiration from R&B and jazz, citing guitar greats like B.B. King, Eric Clapton and John Mayer. A former student of Berklee College of Music, in Boston, Harris has set his sights on a long career in writing, recording and performing music. His voice is as soulful as his songwriting, with clever lyrics accompanied by slick guitar solos and a laid-back vibe. “Illusions Die” — along with the rest of the Make Your Way EP — showcases an understated groove and adjacent listenability that only comes from seasoned songwriting and a pure love for old-school blues and R&B.


ABOUT THE ARTIST: I started playing the piano when I was about six years old, but did not become really infatuated with music until I got my first guitar when I was 12. I remember asking my Mom if I could have a guitar and take lessons, and being very excited when she said, “Yes.” By the time I was 16, I was writing songs, rushing home after school to work on my blues guitar licks and dreaming of a future where I could share my music with the world. INSPIRATION: My inspiration to perform music comes from a part of me that really wants to be seen and heard. I do not mean this in a self-absorbed way, but rather, as someone with a great deal of social anxiety, performing songs that I’ve written allows me to share my voice with people in a way I have never been able to in conversational settings. When I am singing a song I have written, I know that I am saying something that is important not only to me, but often to others, as well. There is a certain connection, or a mutual understanding that occurs between the audience and myself. SIGNATURE SOUND: My style of music is heavily influenced by the blues, even though it’s more alternative rock. While the blues may be harder to discern in some of my more alternativesounding songs, such as “Things Remain the Same,” and the single “Illusions Die,” I feel that there is an overarching element of the blues in all my songs that I couldn’t get rid of even if I wanted to. B.B. King, Freddy King, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Buddy Guy and so many more were extremely influential to me when I was younger and that is sort of ingrained in my playing now. ON SONGWRITING: I write all of the songs in this group. That isn’t because I’m not open to collaboration (I am in another band right now where I am sharing writing responsibilities with the other members), but I have had to move around so much in the last few years … “Gabriel Harris Group” has had many different members over the years. That’s part of the reason I never chose a different band name. I think it is important to mention, though, that while I do write the foundational aspects of the songs, I could not perform my music without the help of the bass players, drummers and other singers I have worked with who have helped make my music come alive. I owe a great deal to them. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: I like to find current artists who are doing new things, but that draw upon elements of older music. Two of my favorites right now are the band Hiatus Kaiyote and Lake Street Dive. Both bands are very different, but are doing something new that contain elements of genres I love such as jazz, rock, blues, R&B and soul. If I had to pick a musical era in which to live, though, it would probably be the 70s. There was so much great music going on and live performances were at their peak. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: I started playing classical piano when I was about six years old, and violin through my elementary school when I was seven or so — then, guitar at age 12. I started taking voice lessons when I was around 15. I played violin in high school orchestra and played guitar in the school jazz band, as well. After high school, I did three years at Berklee College of Music in Boston and then, when that got too expensive, one semester at Mcnally Smith College of Music in St. Paul — before the school shut down unexpectedly.

ON RECORDING: I really enjoy the process of recording, but I also think it depends who you have helping you. Recording my EP was a very fun process and I worked with some amazing musicians and a producer/engineer, all of whom were fellow students at Berklee. We recorded live (all instruments recorded at the same time) with a relatively minimal set up (common for rock-type recordings). Julian Rodriguez played bass on the album and is now doing session work in Nashville. Caleb and Ben Barnett (brothers) were also extremely instrumental in helping me record the project. They now own their own studio in Fort Worth, Texas, called The Hang Studios. Caleb played drums on the record and his brother Ben engineered/helped produce it. Ben was especially amazing in working with me to make sure the final product was everything I hoped it would be. ON PERFORMING: Performing on stage is one of the most thrilling experiences a person can have. When I’m performing for an audience, nothing else matters. The music becomes the only existing force in the world and everything else is kind of forgotten. If you can tell people are really into your playing, then it’s easier to get in that zone where you are just sort of floating in sound. ON FASHION: Fashion has always been big for me. It’s a great way to individualize yourself and create a statement. If anything, there is a certain ruggedness to our vibe as a band that complements the traditional rock and roll influences of the music. It isn’t really something we have ever planned on cultivating, but seems to be more of a product of being artists and wanting to express creativity through our visual presentation as well as the music. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: I really just hope to keep writing and performing music, and eventually make it into a full-time career. Playing large festivals is definitely something on our radar for the near future, but right I am just working on building up a solid fan base and continuing to do what I love. ADVICE TO ASPIRING MUSICIANS: My advice to other independent artists would be to keep on working at it and not give up. There are so many other bands out there and, while you want to support them all, it does make it difficult to get noticed. I think if you are really passionate about the music, though, and keep taking chances, then success will follow. I am still on the grind myself, so it is really all about the small victories at this point and just enjoying the experience. The Make Your Way EP by Gabriel Harris Group can be listened to on any of the major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. ReverbNation: Facebook: @gabrielharrisgroup Instagram: @gabrielharrismusic Twitter: @gabrielharrisgp BandCamp:

backwater still

Red Dirt Country / Delta Stomp / Bluegrass Song Submitted: “Your Love Makes Me High” WHAT STRUCK US ABOUT this band was its deep bluegrass undertone. It reminded us of the Soggy Bottom Boys’ rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” as seen in the 2000 film O Brother Where Art Thou. Their sound has that same delta stomp vibe, and multiple harmonies to boot. “Your Love Makes Me High” is an outstanding track featuring a red dirt grit with bluegrass roots. There are only two tracks on their ReverbNation profile, but “Uncle Ralph” is yet another bluesy americana tune that gets us singing along immediately. The band’s spirited multi-harmony live performances can be seen on YouTube. But their music is not the only thing about these guys that is light-hearted. The following interview showcases the playful demeanor of two band members, and reminds us to not take ourselves so seriously, and enjoy some good ole down-home music.

ABOUT THE BAND: If you took southern rock, country, blues and bluegrass, and squeezed real hard, Backwater Still would be the juice that runs out. ON PERFORMING: (Shannon) I like to see people singing along with our originals. (Terry) I just want to be adored. SIGNATURE SOUND: (Shannon) It’s similar to music I grew up listening to — southern country rock. ON SONGWRITING: (Terry) So far, Shannon and I write all the songs. A lot of them seem to be about love or lost love. Other than that, Shannon has one about his uncle, Ralph, and we wrote one together called “Howl Like Wolves.” It’s about staying up all night, being rowdy and partying. My favorite song that I’ve written is one called “Dance with Me.” I wrote it for my wife, Yvonne, and sang it to her at our wedding — and played a recording of it at her funeral, back in 2011. She was taken from my son and I in the tornado outbreak that spring, so it carries a lot of weight.


GA and 96.5 The Bull – Macon GA. Backyard Country Top Five leaderboard — I thought that was pretty cool. ON PERFORMING TOGETHER: (Terry) Pure Hell…. Nah, it’s awesome! It has always felt natural. These guys are my family. ON FASHION: (Shannon) I try to be myself — no special look.

(Terry) I’m into these cowboy hats. I buy them and modify them a little. My favorite brand is Peter Grimm. FUTURE HOPES AND DREAMS: (Shannon) Get rich and grow four inches. (Terry) I like the get rich part, but I’ve grown enough. ADVICE TO ASPIRING MUSICIANS: (Shannon) Get a real job! (Terry) If you whole-heartedly believe in your talent, never give up. Find music by Backwater Still on Spotify and iTunes, and check out their channel on YouTube. ReverbNation: Facebook: @backwaterstillband Instagram: @backwaterstill Official Website:

(Shannon) Life experience, everyday life — or total fiction. FAVORITE MUSICAL ERA: (Terry) I have been a huge Beatles fan ever since I was young. I have a much older brother who had Beatles records, and I got into them through those. Even though we don’t sound like them, it’s probably where doing so many harmonies in our songs stems from. (Shannon) Classic country, 90s country and and southern rock. MUSICAL BACKGROUND: (Shannon) Musical family — both sides. (Terry) I started out playing heavy metal back in the day, but everything that I wrote sounded country, so here I am. ON RECORDING: (Shannon) I like to watch a song grow up from an idea to a final product. FAN APPEAL: (Shannon) Harmony, comedy... and good looks. (Terry) I concur. CLAIM TO FAME: (Terry) “Your Love Makes Me High” was number one for eight straight weeks on the Backyard Country Top Five Leaderboard that airs on 94.9 The Bull – Atlanta GA, B100 – Albany

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