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ISSUE 96 | JUN 2019






June 2019

THE USUAL 4 Letter from the Editor 4 Staff Credits


FEATURES Local Feature 12 Blossom

Cover Feature 16

5 Aural Fix

YBN Cordae IAN SWEET Connan Mockasin Chromatics

COMMUNITY Meet Your Maker 24

NEW MUSIC 8 Short List 8 Album Reviews Outer Spaces Pixx Yeasayer Froth

Lonesome West Studio

Literary Arts 26 Mohamed Asem

Visual Arts 28

Jeff Sheridan

LIVE MUSIC 10 Musicalendar An encompassing overview of concerts in PDX for the upcoming month. But that’s

not all–the Musicalendar is complete with

a venue map to help get you around town.


HELLO PORTLAND! Well this has been a hell of a month! I, myself, am happy to see summer on the horizon, excited to take a break from the grad school grind. School is either out, or close to being out for all you bookworms out there, so I’ll take a moment just to shout out a quick, “Congratulations”/“You can do it!” With the goings on in Alabama, it’s pretty difficult to keep a clear mind. The laws being passed around the country restricting reproductive rights are truly appalling, and it’s important to recognize that they affect not only women, but trans and queer communities as well. I’m proud to live in a city that feels increasingly more aware of inclusion and representation, but it’s not without fault. Now, more than anything, we need to be in support of marginalized voices and those directly affected by the actions of those in power. I am constantly astounded at the power of art and music in this talented city. A few nights ago, I branched out and saw a new band, Death Tour, at Pegasus Project PDX, a warehouse style art space in SE Portland. There were so many people there in support of all the bands that came out, and Stacy House clothing was on sight screen printing whatever clothing people handed to them. It’s exciting to see that places like this still exist, that even with the rapid growth of the city, artists are still finding a way to thrive. Support your local artists! Unequivocally yours,

- Eirinn Gragson, Managing Editor



ONLINE Michael Reiersgaard Kim Lawson

MANAGING EDITOR Eirinn Gragson (

FIND US ONLINE social channels: @elevenpdx

COPY EDITOR Chance Solem-Pfeifer SECTION EDITORS LITERARY ARTS: Scott McHale VISUAL ARTS: Mercy McNab MAKERS: Brandy Crowe CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matthew Weatherman, Kelly Kovl, Kayleigh O'Malley, Charles Trowbridge, Liz Garcia, Christopher Klarer, Matthew Sweeney, Henry Whittier-Ferguson, Richard Lime PHOTOGRAPHERS Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, Katie Summer, Todd Walberg COVER DESIGN Katie Silver COVER PHOTO Helen Moga

GENERAL INQUIRIES ADVERTISING ELEVEN WEST MEDIA GROUP, LLC SPECIAL THANKS To all of our friends and family that make this project possible, and to those that champion tolerance, equality, generosity and kindness in the world. We love you best.

columns aural fix


up and coming music from the national scene

1 YBN CORDAE JUNE 14 | HAWTHORNE THEATRE YBN Cordae’s new single “Have Mercy,” off upcoming debut album The Lost Boy, comes with two distinctly different corresponding music videos. In one video directed by Cole Bennett, YBN Cordae becomes a cartoon version of himself, washed in bright colors with a backing cast of red and yellow dancers who pull at his exaggeratedly large mouth. These images are interspersed with cockroaches crawling over his face. All the while, he raps in lyrical style, looking directly at the camera. In the [Path B] video version, a darkly rendered post-apocalyptic landscape of frozen tableaus and burning palm trees is shot in noir tones, brooding and shadowed. Differences aside, the lyrics and rhythm of the songs fit each with eerie accuracy. Originally formed as a gaming collective, YBN consists of over a dozen individuals. Though the core of YBN is a trio of young rappers including YBN Almighty Jay, YBN Nahmir (who met playing Xbox Live in their teens), and YBN Cordae — Cordae Duston —  previously known as Entendre. Their 2018 mixtape out on Lyrical Lemonade earned YBN Nahmir a Billboard Hot 100 rating for “Rubbing Off the Paint,” and YBN Cordae’s remix of Eminem’s “My Name Is” got him some notice. When J. Cole’s put-down of the new generation of rappers, “1985,” came out, YBN

Photo by AKelsey Hart

2 IAN SWEET JUNE 26 | MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS IAN SWEET is Jilian Medford, a young guitarist and singer who graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Like any new professional to their industry, there will be stumbles and a learning curve. Medford learned her DO’s and DO NOT’s fairly quickly. For example, DO NOT let your bandmates push you around and try to dictate your vision. DO cancel them from the lineup and

Photo by Jimmy Fontaine

Cordae responded. J.Cole ended his tirade with, “In five years you’re gonna be on Love & Hip-Hop” while the end of YBN Cordae’s track states, “Cardi B got rich from Love & Hip-hop.” His energy is palpable, having expressed in interviews that he plans to be the biggest artist in the world. Whether or not YBN Cordae lives up to his own hype, he certainly has promise. Despite being only 22-years old and relatively new to the national scene, he has already had a feature on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, is on a remix of local legend Aminé’s hit “BLACKJACK” and his singles have racked up tens of millions of streams on Spotify. The premise of his latest music videos shows that he is self-aware enough to see that his style, public perception, and rap persona could go in a lot of different directions. » – Matthew Weatherman pursue your art on your own. DO work with a producer to bring out the best in your music. Listeners now have the privilege of watching Medford’s beautiful metamorphosis from newcomer to a more seasoned indie artist with two full albums under her belt. Medford not only dropped her bandmates between her first and second albums but also departed New York back to her familiar childhood surroundings in Los Angeles. This change in physical surroundings put Medford in a more confident, sophisticated space, allowing her to explore novel soundscapes and truly “find her voice.” What we heard on 2016’s Shapeshifter (Hardly Art) was lots of noise rock and shoegaze guitars with vocals that got a little lost in the mix. Medford had so much to say, but it wasn’t loud and clear. Her second album, Crush Crusher, was like hearing a new person. Bringing a producer, Gabe Wax, on board facilitated this change and encouraged Medford to let her cute, melancholy voice shine. Both albums represent her struggles with relationships and mental health issues, something we can all relate to. Hints of Björk and Warpaint might float across your mind’s eye while listening to IAN SWEET. Medford’s metamorphosis from shy performer to dominant force is still in progress, and as with any artist honing their craft, will continue to develop. If you’re a new listener, DO check out “Shapeshifter,” “Hiding” and “Bug Museum” and DON’T miss catching her live this month at Mississippi Studios. » – Kelly Kovl | 5

columns aural fix Photo by Sam Kristofski












and more!







3 CONNAN MOCKASIN JUNE 10 | MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS If aliens landed and formed a band with members of the human race, they would be nothing without Connan Hosford, a.k.a. Connan Mockasin, as their frontman. Obscure notes are vital in Mockasin’s music. With funked-up beats and jazzy riffs, anyone tuned in should be ready to take off to another galaxy. Just when you feel you’ve found some grasp on Mockasin’s style or genre, he pivots his sound to that of an entirely different ensemble. In this way, he could be the Kiwi cousin of George Clinton or Jim Morrison. Yet his multiplicity is not bound by his sound, as evidenced in his recently released album, Jassbusters, and matching five-part film, Bostyn n’ Dobsyn. Mockasin dares to unravel the ties that bind an artist to one medium and aspires to dabble in standup comedy, accompanying his new journey into non-musical performance. In personal news, Mockasin welcomed a baby girl earlier this year with Tokyo-born Playboy Playmate, Hiromi Oshima. The new parents are forming their family in the model’s home country of Japan, and despite all the woes that come with being a first-time parent, Mockasin still finds time to carry out his musical career. Thus far, he’s teased us with the newly released single “Bad Boys” (a collaboration with Andrew VanWyngarden). Connan Mockasin is touring throughout the summer, ending in the U.K. Going off ticket sales alone, some Portlanders may miss their chance to catch his sold-out show on June 10 at Mississippi Studios, but if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, hang on and enjoy the ride! » – Kayleigh O’Malley

columns aural fix

4 CHROMATICS JUNE 8-9 | WONDER BALLROOM After New Wave played itself out and died in a crash of shrill synthesizers and trite beats, new groups arose from the ashes. Chromatics, the brainchild of Adam Miller, emerged to reclaim the inherently interesting combination of post-industrial grime and glistening urban shimmer. In the early years, Chromatics skewed toward grinding out noise rock with punk sympathies. After several line-up changes (including the addition of Johnny Jewel), the group put out the critically lauded Night Drive (2007), which polished the grime into dread-filled stones topped with a layer of spare dance pop. Night Drive plays out conceptually across a darkened horizon. With simple, driving beats, accented synths, and full-bodied guitar hooks, the album feels like an extended chase scene from a mid90s thriller. Which is to say, epic. Throughout the band’s post-2007 catalog, there are sounds pointing toward an interesting parallelism with some of the more mainstream indie acts like Dirty Projectors, St. Vincent, or Perfume Genius. There’s an edge without being hard, and there’s an eclecticism without seeming disorganized. In Night Drive and 2012’s Kill For Love, there are echoes of The Postal Service, just stripped down and drinking black coffee instead of espresso. Although most listeners may not be able to recall a specific single from the band, they continue to pop up innocuously across the art scene, like “Tick Of the Clock,” from the 2011 film Drive starring Ryan Gosling (try listening to it without imagining yourself white-knuckling down an empty freeway in the dark). The band is also known for releasing several stellar covers, recently including Hole’s “Petals” for the Netflix show The Perfection. Neil Young’s “Into the Black” opens Kill For Love, getting an almost note-by-note recreation with appropriately atmospheric flourishes, giving it a soundscape feel – another nod toward the slow death of rock and roll contained in the song’s subject matter, ironic or not. After a long hiatus, Chromatics are back on the road again, bringing their dance-and trance-friendly sounds to a potentially new audience. Join them, as they beckon you back out into a softer night. » – Charles Trowbridge | 7

new music album reviews




Short List

Younghusband Swimmers Iron + Wine/Calexico Years To Burn French Vanilla How Am I Not Myself Mattiel Satis Factory The Jonas Brothers Happiness Begins Lust For Youth Lust For Youth Palehound Black Friday Aan Losing My Shadow Mic Capes Cold Blooded Crumb Jinx 311 Voyager Pinky Pinky Turkey Dinner Brijean Walkie Talkie


Buy it

Stream it

Disagree? Scold us: @ELEVENPDX


Toss it

Outer Spaces Gazing Globe Western Vinyl Upstate New York native Cara Beth Satalino has lived in the outer spaces of the rural East Coast while floating in pockets of anxiety and loss. Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Satalino navigates these feelings as musical moniker Outer Spaces, a solo act that has taken on a full form in its newest album Gazing Globe. Raw, vulnerable and strong, Satalino’s

Pixx Small Mercies 4AD While London-based synth-pop musician Hannah Rodgers, a.k.a. Pixx, is known for her ethereal electro sound, on her sophomore album, Small Mercies, Rodgers tries out some rock flare. The result is Cherry Glazerr meets MGMT. The record starts with some nostalgic, ‘80s summer vibes on “Andean Condor.” It is the dancy, synth-pop Pixx that fans know and love. Then, “Bitch” immediately shifts from synth to garage

vocal quality is Courtney Barnett-esque with musical influence of indie folk and power pop. Alongside Satalino, the album features Chester Gwazda (who has produced albums by Future Islands and Dan Deacon) on keys and bass guitar and Rob Dowler on drums. Gazing Globe reads like the journey of an optimistic soul, questioning life and love while wandering off into the desert, the full band playing out into a sunset. “I See Her Face” kicks off the album with slow, dreamy guitar and keys, simple yet sincere. Satalino’s lyrics are soft yet harber a greater universal feeling with lines like: “The jug of wine seemed infinite/well baby I fell into it” and “You won’t let go of my life.” As the album moves forward, the sound swells with the addition of violin (Marty Satalino) and saxophone (Ryan Syrell), accompanied by synchronized vocal harmonies. Satalino’s voice is genuine and powerful; utilizing layers of vocal harmony with herself, she drives home a pop influence with feeling and conviction. » – Eirinn Gragson rock, guitar playfully well-paired with Rodgers’ vocals. “Disgrace” changes the pace with an airy, synth-rock pulse that is distorted just enough to set a post-apocalyptic mood. Then, the title track picks up where the last one left off, with even more distortion. It sounds like you’re stuck inside an accelerated round of PAC-MAN. “Mary Magdalene” is driven by a somber but pretty melody and reverberated guitar. The melody chorus is surprisingly catchy for how bleak it is, followed by, “I come for warmth but you don’t come at all.” On “Duck Out,” Pixx’s ethereal electro is at its best. The track starts off ominously and with a droning tempo as she sings, “I might have to duck out,” and is ultimately the album’s most complex song vocally and melodically. At the 45-second mark, Rodgers holds the note on “might” continuing into, “I might say it, save it for another time.” At this point, the song is light and airy, and the mood shifts once again to a buzzing tempo. Finally, “Blowfish” closes the album on a grungy note, serving as a sweet goodbye. » – Liz Garcia

new music album reviews

Yeasayer Erotic Reruns Yeasayer Records With Erotic Reruns, Yeasayer surrenders almost completely to their most radio-friendly impulses, yielding a relatively bland record lacking the drama and mystique that made them relevant in the first place. Don’t get me wrong: it’s full of deftly executed pop hooks–and it’s probably better than their last record, Amen & Goodbye–but it’s still light on the kind of substance necessary to keep it in regular rotation.

Yeasayer came up in Brooklyn in the late aughts, garnering praise with epic electro-acoustic world folk vibes, reminiscent of Animal Collective, MGMT, and Grizzly Bear all rolled together. Think pseudo-mystical chanting with dense layers of synths, sitars, and hand drums. Over the next decade, they veered into proged-out ‘80s synth-pop realms, and then through a more stripped down electronic phase. Still, underlying their shifting aesthetics was always an inventive and erratic left-field approach to undeniably hooky pop music. Like it or not, at least it wasn’t boring. Flash to now: Erotic Reruns. There are essentially two types of songs on this record. Let’s call them funky white-boy indie pop and not quite weird enough off-kilter classic rock. The former accounts for two thirds of the record and comes in a variety of flavors, most easily understood by imagining what kind of advertisement their choruses might soundtrack. There’s a relentlessly upbeat Target commercial vibe in “Ecstatic Baby” and sexy urban cityscape car commercial feels in “Fluttering In The Floodlights”

photography) and cut their teeth playing scores of house shows and DIY venues in the LA area. The high points of the three piece’s fourth full-length, Duress, off Wichita

Froth Duress Wichita Recordings LA trio Froth (Joo-Joo Ashworth on vocals and guitar, Jeremy Katz on bass and guitar, and Cameron Allen on drums) have toyed with the aggression of garage rock in their sound a little, but they are most at home making easy-going dream pop and shoegaze. The band actually began as a joke between Ashworth and collaborator Jeff Fribourg (who played in the band for a time and still works on its artwork and

Recordings, reach your ears within an amniotic bubble of breathy vocal melodies and gentle psychedelia, or out of the ether on a particularly nice, lazy summer day in a public park. The 10-song collection is brief but gives off a cinematic glow that can hold you in thrall. Ashworth and Tomas Dolas largely handled the production of Duress. The album opens with some straightforward rock dominated by blown-out guitars on the single “Laurel.” Its wry lyrics reference the bizarre “Laurel/Yanny” meme from last year, but Ashworth’s half-whispered vocals sound so calming that the odd sense of humor could easily slip past you. The collection’s aural vibe not only frames the songs in a beautifully indistinct light but also becomes cerebral and exploratory. Froth can craft a good hook (see “Catalog” and “Department Head”), but they

and “Blue Skies Dandelions.” It’s all pop sheen with none of Yeasayer’s hallmark eccentric elements. When those off-kilter moments do come, they’re primarily on the last third of the record, which probably contains the best and worst moments overall. The chorus in “Crack A Smile” features zany synth flourishes and bizarre auto-tuned vocals that overlay an ill-fitting classic rock guitar hook. It’s weird, but in the goofiest way possible. “Let Me Listen In On You” is probably the the most human and honest song on the record and maybe the closest the band gets on Erotic Reruns to capturing the dramatic tension of their best efforts. Face it: the last half of this decade has been overrun with polished funky white-boy indie pop. It is to 2019 what acoustic guitars, hand claps, and yelling “hey!” was to 2014. In other words, it’s more or less run its course. At this point, it’s everywhere, especially on car commercials, so pretty soon, everyone’s going to hate it. At the tail end of its reign, do we really need another funky white-boy indie record? » – Christopher Klarer

also experiment with a lot of different styles to great effect. The insistent motorik beat and growling guitars on the instrumental “A2” show they can rock hard. “77,” with dreamy vocals from Isabella Glaudini, has the cozy, percussion-driven feel of easygoing electronica. The lo-fi, tape warble-laden “John Peel Slowly” evokes early Eno, with its playful synthesizer swells and dancing, mysterious piano flourishes. But it is at the end that the album really gets you. The crashing drums and shimmering guitars on “Slow Chamber” give that epic sense of suspended animation and rapture you get from the best shoegaze and dream pop. Then, the clever lilt of “Syndrome” draws the curtain with sweet sadness, laying on the strings over hazy psychedelic textures. In Duress, Froth have crafted one of the better dream pop/shoegazing albums of the year. » – Matthew Sweeney | 9

live music



1332 W BURNSIDE 4 Avatar | Devin Townsend | Dance with the Dead | '68 6 Chromeo | Neil Frances

8-9 An evening with Amanda Palmer

14 L7 | Le Butcherettes 15 Gaylabration 2019! ft. DJ Grind & DJ Toy Armada 26 Machine Gun Kelly w special guest


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Johnnyswim Lewis Capaldi Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker Rich The Kid Blue October | Mona Sublime with Rome | Common Kings | Seranation Dido | Ria Mae Whiskey Myers | Brent Cobb


6 Foxwarren | Hannah Cohen 7 Diane Coffee | Claire George | Pool Boys

8-9 School of Rock

Operators | Doomsquad SOAK | Fenne Lily Forest Veil | Kendall Core | Glitterfox Cosmo's Midnight | Pluko Black Filmmaker Fellowship Celebration 15-16 School of Rock 17 The Mystery Lights | Future Punx 18 Emily Brimlow | Bo Baskoro 19 The Comet Is Coming | Ben Tactic 20 Goth Babe | Reptaliens | Wet Dream 21 The Felice Brothers | Johnathan Rice 22 Mini Mansions | Alexandra Savior 23 Cherry Poppin' Dadies 24 James Mercer | Pure Bathing Culture 25 The Rural Alberta Advantage | The Cabin Project 26 Sinkane | Dreckig | Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show 27 Adebisi | Amenta Abioto | KayelaJ 29 Cayucas | Sam Valdez 30 POPgoji | Grupo Masato

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The Babe Rainbow | Munya Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears | Amasa Hines Big Sam's Funky Nation Howe Gelb | Robin Bacior Jacob Miller | Nick Delffs | Erisy Watt Pile | State Champion | Sea Moss Faun Fables | Dolphin Midwives | Floom Connan Mockasin | Lia Ices Bryson Cone | Choking Kind | Night Heron No Aloha | The Fur Coats | Shadowgraphs Natasha Kmeto | Gaytheist | Conditioner Disco Group Team Dresch | Mascaras Team Dresch | Cockeye | Deathlist


live music



Katie Toupin | Havelin Lenore. | Josiah Johnson | The Feelings Parade John Paul White | The Prescriptions Aan | Korgy & Bass Alejandro Escovedo with Special Guest | Casey Neill Best New Band Showcase 2019 Okkervil River | Christian Lee Hutson An Evening with Rooney Jamestown Revival | Ian Noe Ona Grapetooth | IAN SWEET | James Swanberg Futurebirds | Balto American Aquarium Matthew Logan Vasquez | Walker Lukens | PR Newman Layperson | TC Superstar | Ancient Pools


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The Record Company | Becca Mancari 1 Citizen & Knuckle Puck | Hunny | Oso Oso 4 A R I Z O N A | Morgxn 6

Long Beach Dub Allstars | The Aggrolites | Bad Seeds 7 Chromatics | Desire | In Mirrors 8-9 Mudhoney | Summer Cannibals | Dirty Princess 15 Aly & AJ | Armors | Jena Rose 20

Bill Callahan MC Magic & Lil Rob Live! PUP | Ratboys | Beach Bunny Jacob Collier Yeasayer | Oh, Rose




Holocene's 16th Birthday: License To Vibe Yeezus Season (Kanye Tribute) Play Date Rx Fest: Q Center Benefit ft. Sama Dams Fin De Cinema Yungblud | Saint PHNX The Moth: Portland Story Slam Steve Hauschildt | Chloe Alexandra | Michael Vallera Salo Panto | Shannon Entropy | Dream Wulf Charly Bliss DJ Dodger Stadium Shlohmo The Ocean Blue | The Minders | Lost Lander Ivy Sole | Blossom | Parisalexa



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9 16 You Said Strange 23 Melt (release) | Plastic Cactus 30

Methods Body | Dragging An Ox Through Water | Saloli Wet Fruit | The Nice Nice



Party Damage DJs (Tuesdays) KPSU DJs (Wednesdays) The Thesis | DJ Verbz 6

Clyde and the Milltailers | Beggars Canyon | King Strang Tony Smiley | Jaenga Gordon Keepers | Cool Moon | Moonkisser Star Suit Scotty | Vany Hans | Blouses Out/Loud w Frankie Simone | Layperson | Jame | more Synchro-niss With Me Millennial Falcon | High Five Danger | Shotski Qing Qi | Raquel Divar | DJ Whateveryn Best of the Rest of the West Fest R.I.P. Portland: An Ode to Old Portland Scifisol | Angel 11

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Luluc | Gillian Frances Jordan, Jesse, Go! Bloxx | Hembree | Warbly Jets Deep Sea Diver | Valley Maker The Messthetics | Hurry Up

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The Flop House Longmont Potion Castle Elizabeth Gilbert Patty Griffin | John Smith Theo Von: Dark Arts Tour Chelsea Handler Live Wire 15th Anniversary Show

Yonatan Gat & The Eastern Medicine Singers | Candace


La Santa Cecilia | Mariachi Tradicion de Forest Grove

25-26 Josh Ritter

29 Greg Brown 30 Howard Jones | Men Without Hats | All Hail The Silence


The Alliance Comedy Showcase (Sundays 9pm) Karaoke with The King (Mondays) The Big Gay Variety Show Sadistik | Trizz | KNO | more Nu Wavers | Bre Paletta The Guildsmen | The Moonspinners | The Cool Whips Silver Lake 66 Mitch & The Melody Makers Graveyard Club | Starover Blue | Pleasure Curses


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Honky Tonk (Tuesdays) Zydeco (Wednesdays) Swing (Thursdays) Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra Gabby Holt | Fortune's Folly Melao De Cuba Salsa Orchestra Girls With Heads The Breaking | Manzanita Falls | J. Moses Cloud Castle | Goldfoot | The Adio Sequence Mary Flowers (release)

WHITE EAGLE 14 836 N RUSSELL 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 14

Open Bluegrass Jam (Thursdays) Greg Holden Jeremy Pinnell | Hyways Lane Norberg | Austin & Leah | LIAM Kelly Willis | Stars of Cascadia Hayley Lynn | Laryssa Birdseye | Rhythm Biddy on the Bench Lauren Kershner Ten Spiders | Michelle McAfee | Fractal Quintet Chris Baron | Glyndon | Ben Browne LowDown Brass Band | DoveDriver


Photo by Brendon Quinn



by Henry Whittier-Ferguson


lossom is near the heart of it all: a city whose growing pains ripple just beneath its polished surface, a vibrant community of artists whose musical approach questions the foundations of an entrenched industry, and a family whose bonds don’t distinguish between genetics and love. Her music speaks to and for all of these, with the delicate force of new growth sprouting up through the concrete. Her 2017 project, Tease, takes on the heartache of a neo-soul love song, recontextualizing the usually poppier sensibilities into an examination of the tension between sex and power. Her new album, Maybe, dropping May 30 via EYRST, takes that same critical eye and turns it around, questioning the validity of success that comes at the cost of ones soul. A feminist in the most natural sense, Blossom has a voice that, simply put, is an assertion of its own self-evident humanity, woven carefully into a backdrop of heavy, soulful synth. We caught up with her to talk about family, community, our city, and her new album. ELEVEN: You’ve been in Portland for most of your life. What’s kept you around this city?

Blossom: I moved to Portland when I was six. I’ve lived here on again and off again, and I’ve definitely moved and tried to be like, maybe I should go here or go there. But everytime I go somewhere else, I find another reason why I like Portland so much. 11: In 2016, you released Sass and Waves, two EPs produced by Neill von Tally. Then, in 2017 you put out Tease, which was produced entirely by Hot16. Do you prefer to work with one producer on a project, as opposed to going out and getting beats from all over? B: You know, every time I think of how I want to package something

features to deliver to people as content, I want cohesiveness. I like making something that tells one story. I really got to hone in on that with Tease. I like getting a lot of beats all over, but there are such different vibes with each producer. Fortunately, with this new project, there are a few different producers, but they were able to work together to create a cohesive sound. 11: Most of the production on your new album Maybe is by Neill Von Tally, right? You’ve been working with him for quite some time now. How has that creative relationship developed? B: I had to stop myself performing songs from the new album. I was performing Tease for like a year before I even put that album out. With Maybe, I really wanted to reserve the joy of performing new content for when I drop the album. So I’ve stayed in the studio with Neill instead of performing live with him, and I’ve been performing live with Snugsworth and making live content with him. They created some work together on the album, but they’re two completely different creative beings. With Neill, I listen to beats and then I write. I know we could create a beat and write at the same time, but that has never been our relationship, whereas with Snugsworth we’re doing it all at once. I might sing something, and he’ll create a beat off the a capella, which is the first time I’ve worked with someone in that way. 11: Maybe comes out May 30, which I hear is also your birthday. Is this the first time you’ve released an album on your birthday? B: Yes! I wanted to drop Tease on my birthday, but I didn’t. I had my listening party on my birthday instead, but this is my golden birthday. I’m turning 30 on the 30th, so I’ve gotta do something that’ll last for forever. 11: The album opens with a track called “King Kai.” Who is

King Kai? B: That’s my godson. He’s nine. 11: He’s got bars. B: He’s got bars! That was a random freestyle. My best friend, his mom, puts him to bed, and they just talk. He has the coolest voice, so we ask sometimes if we can record, so we’ll have it to remember. Sometimes we’ll get him to freestyle or just be goofy, but he was so excited because he was going to California for a wedding to visit our family friend Joey, and there were gonna be other kids for him to hang out with. He was so excited that he rapped about it, so I had to keep that. 11: And speaking of going to California, on the album there are a couple songs that seem to be here in Portland, and then there are a couple that are set in California, namely “Epian” and “Cabana.” What were you going for with the different locales? B: Yeah. I lived in L.A. for a year, which is where I met my friend Joey, the friend that Kai sings about. I was in the skater scene in Cali, and that skater family essence is dope. They take care of each other and are so respectful, and I really resonated with that culture because I have such a familyoriented culture within my friends and my community. So, living down there I got to experience a really interesting take on being in California and being in L.A. because I think that if I had never met my friend Joey, I might have been in a very vain and tainted musical area. I’ve visited some of those places where people just want to take advantage of you. You look around at it, and with “Cabana” and “Epian,” those songs are about this fake plastic environment, but everyone wants it so much. Everyone wants to be in this illusionist vibe of what it means to be having fun or to be sexy or to be enjoying an experience. I’m at a stage in my career where people are asking me, “Are you ready to move



836 N RUSSELL Corwin Bolt and the Wingnuts Jenny Sizzler Yarn | Cedar Teeth #WomenCrush The Bones of J.R. Jones | Smith/McKay All Day Garcia Birthday Band Catbird Seats Harvest Gold | Hamburger Petty Lee DeWyze | Holly Ann | Frank Viele Rainbow Electric Lavoy | Butter | Boygirlboy

15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 25 26 28 Dustin Thomas | Shawn Zapata & The Secret Machine 29



Name That T-t-tune (Tuesdays) Mujahedeen | Months | Gestalt Motrik | Ferns | Tremor Andrew Stonestreet | Kaley Appendix Purr Purr | New Modern Warfare | Rainwater Marriage and Cancer | Art Gray Noizz Quintet Modridge | Julie | Ivan to the Moon Ten Million Lights | Daemones | Biltmore Dive Long Hallways | Unwed Sailor | Brin Indira Valey | Lo Pony | Phantom Tides The Emilys | Average Pageant | Songs for Snow Tavo Carbone | The Enchanted | Half Shadow Drug Apts | Young Hunter | Void Realm Olden Yolk | Adam Torres | Center Pieces Lavender Flu | Mike Donovan | Sun Foot Michael Donhowe | Nicole Campbell Trio Mean Sun | SS Curmudgeon | The Drip Palm Crest | Moon Debris | Babytooth


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Knockturnal | Yahhh Muzic | Big D | Kryptic Pancakes and Booze (Art Show) Flotsam and Jetsam | Dead By Wednesday | more Buckcherry | Joyous Wolf | The DCs | Draggin' A-55 Gloryhammer | Aether Realm | Anonymia YBN Cordae | Donte Thomas Defy Wrestling Larry June | 3AM | Jordan Draper | 1 Young Micah Chris Webby | Grieves | Locksmith & Ekoh Mystery Skulls | Phangs | Snowblood Ceremony + Sheer Mag The Emo Night Tour


Karaoke with Atlas (Mondays) DJ Corduory vs. Kendall Holiday Massacooramaan Devils Pie with DJ Wicked Trash/Retirement Daniel Rossi Rosy Dust Snake Dance | Wool Eyes | Yellow Room | more Drug Apts

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features Photo by Brendon Quinn


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to L.A.?”, and I’m like, “Why do I need to do that?” Those songs were a fun way for me to explore that. 11: I also wanted to talk about maybe my favorite song on the album, “Betty Rizzo.” It goes hard. And the character Betty Rizzo, from Grease, is probably the best character in Grease. She’s the least stereotypical and the most interesting. B: Yay! That might be my favorite song too! Thank you! She’s so hard and also sensitive at the same time. I really connected with her from a young age because I wanted to seem like I have all my shit together, but I also feel like, “Ah, I need someone to get me right now.” I’m in love with Rizzo. 11: As far as your writing, you’ve been working as a vocalist with these producers for a while. But how much of a hand do you have in the production beyond your vocals? B: You know what, I’m going to be so one hundred and say that I don’t really have a hand in the production. Not like I wouldn’t be given the option to, if I wanted it, I just like the songs exactly the way they are; that’s why I write to those songs. Sometimes we’ll adjust

things here or there, or tweak it after I’ve done my vocals. They’ll get where I’m going and then work toward that, but for me, I enjoy working that way with producers because that’s how I feel we’re collaborating together. I don’t want them to tell me nothing about my writing (laughs). 11: With the release of Maybe, you’re obviously doing digital. What are your plans for the physical release? B: Yeah, we’re doing vinyl. And anybody who gets a VIP ticket to the release show will get the ticket and merch. 11: And that’s on June 10 at the Armory? B: Yeah! Definitely come! I’ll have a full band. I’m so excited! 11: I also wanted to talk about the FemmeTape summer tour you’re doing with Parisalexa and Ivy Sole. Can you talk about your relationship with those two and how you set that tour up? B: Yeah, Ivy Sole did my “Sass” remix, and it got such great reviews, so we were always talking about doing something together, and then it just lined up that the

features timing was perfect for both of us. Then, Parisalexa was like, I’m trying to go too! It all lined up for the three of us. Ivy Sole was the one who came up with the name for the tour, FemmeTapes. She’s just really inspired by feminine unity in the black community when it comes to music. People are always trying to say who’s better than who, but it’s like, together we’re better. Together we can make things that pop off and really embrace that, so I’m so stoked to go. We start in California and work our way up to Seattle. 11: A lot of your recorded stuff is very intricate, how do you translate that to the live show? B: With the major help of a band

Blossom Maybe EYRST More approachable than her Clout Atlas :: Dormiveglia EP, more varied than her phenomenal debut LP Tease (produced by HOT16), Blossom’s new album Maybe shows off the depth and the breadth of her multifaceted talent. Her voice is equally suited to bedroom pop, R&B and hip-hop, some of the many genres she effortlessly weaves together on her sophomore full-length. Her CA :: D collaborators and ERYST label-mates Ripley Snell and Neill Von Tally join her for the intricately layered “Honey, If You Hear.” This abstract pop masterpiece is hypnotic and haunting in equal measure. There are fascinating interwoven sounds and vocals throughout. Blossom sings with a casual force that fits the feel of the

up there with me! It is all I think about: “Is anyone going to get this?” Because I get it, so I have to find a way to go off my own confidence because the way I perform it will translate what my point is. I’m super excited for the Armory show because getting to build a set that will portray where my head is … that’s why I wanted it to be somewhere people have to sit down. I would like to actually show you my art, so you can be with me and see where I’m at. 11: So are you playing the whole album, cover to cover? B: Oh yeah! It’s the first time. You’ve gotta go hard or go home! »

music perfectly. Whether you merely let her rhythmic stylings wash over you, or you dive deeper into her empowered lyrics, Blossom has a distinct way with words that has made her a favorite feature for local rappers The Last Artful, Dodgr and Myke Bogan. “Glitch,” one of the most shifting and dynamic songs on the album, begins with a soft, sadly repeating lullaby refrain: “Have you ever wondered if the moon would cry/ If you took the stars right from the sky? Would the sun refuse to raise up high/ If you took the strings with no good-bye? Have you ever wondered if the pain would fade?” It then morphs into a groovy, self-reflective rap before ultimately concluding with an instrumental chillwave outro. “Career Suicide” switches back and forth between piano and acoustic guitar loops for a genre-bending journey across a sci-fi dreamscape, and “Anxiety” addresses a less-thanperfect former relationship. Then, she wears her love of Grease on the sleeve of her Pink Ladies’ jacket in “Betty Rizzo” with a sexy hook typical of what she calls her “neo-sensual” sound. With this album, Blossom shows she is ready to join the pantheon of local hip-hop superstars signed to ERYST. » -Matthew Weatherman




An Evening with Brass Tacks Sweet Water | Stereo Embers | Purusa Sinferno Cabaret Mannequins in Cages | Claws of Death Evolver Ocelot | Bitter Buddha | Supercoil Forty Feet Tall | Patrimony | The Urban Shaman El Gordo Har Mar Superstar | Mother Mariposa Twin Temple | Glacial Fall Couver | Mannequins In Cages


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FEATURES Punk enthusiasts are already familiar with Tacocat; for anyone who isn’t, it’s time to tune in. Today, when social responsibility and vocal leadership are traits at center stage, the band’s core message of equality, feminine empowerment and individualism rings crucially true. Tacocat’s debut album, Shame Spiral, dropped nearly nine years ago. At the time, as bass player Bree McKenna told us, they played wherever they could book a gig. That meant traveling the country playing house parties and venues that didn’t always fit their progressive perspective. But, as is the transcendent beauty of art, the music always attracted a core demographic that wanted to rock about the right things. In early May, the band put out its newest album (and Sub Pop debut), This Mess is a Place. It marked the next step in the group’s ascension and provides an elevated platform for their particular brand of punk. Photo by Tristanwhitneyweary


Driven by sharp hooks, a tight rhythm section, and strong vocals at the forefront, Tacocat has built an established sound. Earlier albums found the group taking a “‘gang”’ vocal approach, reinforcing heavier moments with multiple voices. This Mess is a Place takes on a more refined tenor. It’s concise. The instrumentals snap together. It’s less aggressive without being saccharine – a trap many punk bands fall into when the tempo slows down. The message shines clearly through: the world isn’t fair, and it’s your responsibility to use your privilege to help others. As the band kicks off its next tour in support of This Mess is a Place, McKenna spoke with us from the sticky South to talk about how the album came together, their focus on the “why”‘why’ behind the music, and perks of working with Sub Pop. ELEVEN: So where are you right now? North Carolina? Bree McKenna: We’re in North Carolina. It’s very hot and humid here – it’s like 80 degrees. 11: Where are you playing next?

BM: We’re playing in Durham tomorrow night. Tonight we’re playing the Pinhook, which is one of our very favorite venues. 11: How come? BM: It’s very friendly to the feminist queer theme – sometimes in the south that environment is really cool. To have a safe space for everyone who enjoys our music… 11: I was going to ask a little later, but this is a good time. As you’re touring around the country and booking venues, is that something you’re thinking about? BM: It is something we can look to now, now that we have the privilege of having options. When we first started as a band, we were just playing wherever they would book us for a show. We’d end up playing like a weird frat party in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There’s definitely places we’ve preferred to other places, and we’ve always tried to play with bands who are LGBTQ, feminist bands, and people of color. We’ve prioritized playing with bands that are sort of like-minded people in our community. 11: Is that hard? It seems like, given the current climate, that it wouldn’t be too hard to find bands that share that viewpoint. Do you have a pretty robust network at this point? BM: We actually do. It took a long time… As a band, we just hit our 12-year mark. We started this band when we were, like, kids – we grew up in this band. It’s crazy how over the years, playing so many shows, we were able to just kind of weed out who wasn’t a fit to play with, and it just got better and better. And now I feel really stoked about where we’re at and who we’re able to play with. 11: You mentioned before that privilege of being able to pick where you play now. What are some of the most empowering factors with that? Do you enjoy not having to go back to some of these places, or do you think there’s some sort of power in being able to go back to places that maybe weren’t the friendliest and being able to be a piece of culture for them? BM: I like trying to find an environment that people who like our music are going to feel comfortable at. That hasn’t always been the case at all our shows. 11: Another thing I was wondering, in line with that, is about the newest album. Do you think it’s possible at this point for any public-facing artist to make anything other than some sort of a political statement, or like a piece of art that has some kind of activism attached to it? Do you feel like you have a responsibility? BM: Yeah, I don’t think it really is. Doing nothing is a political act in itself, in this time we’re in. It’s just trying to do

the right thing and stand up for people. It’s just the right thing to do, with any privilege you have. 11: On the new album, This Mess is a Place, there are a lot of songs that track different kinds of privilege and different kinds of people, and I’m wondering, as you start to make this album or make art in the future, how much do you focus on the message versus art for art’s sake? BM: Oh, yeah, that’s a good question because during the process, the way and state of the world right now, it was kind of hard to imagine the kind of record we’d make. Every record we’ve made as a band was always slow and organic – always just a response to the world. We thought really hard about how we wanted the record to turn out. It’s a response to the toll of our current state of affairs. It ended up turning into a big piece about that kind of mentality, and I think it’s really a holistic piece of art just from how we felt about it. 11: I was reading an interview that you did last year, and someone had mentioned an incident at a gas station. It was after the 2016 election, and the band talked about how there was this sort of “strength in numbers” in terms of it being OK suddenly to be homophobic or racist. In this new album, there is a lot of subject matter about embracing singularity and being comfortable with who you are. BM: Any of the groups you align yourself with, you have to be comfortable with yourself and think about where you want to align yourself and what kind of forces that is going to group you with. 11: Let’s talk about the new record. First record out on Sub Pop – what has that been like? What is the difference now? BM: I do think it reaches a wider audience. We were on an imprint of Sub Pop for our last two records – Hardly Art – and they’re amazing; they’re very well-curated. They do an amazing job. It’s been interesting to see how Sub Pop maybe cast a wider net, and the people who do check out Sub Pop. When I was a teenager, I was super into grunge and all that, and Sub Pop was a big deal. It’s been exciting. It means something to all of us, individually. 11: In terms of the working process, did anything change between Lost Time and This Mess is a Place? BM: It always is kind of exactly the same. Our creative process is kind of layered, and we just sort of talk about stuff… we’re all into talking about song structures and editing each other. It’s always been kind of the same; it’s just that we’ve grown as musicians – and I love all our albums, but they all sound just a little bit different. This one compared to the first one is just very different. We were all about gang vocals, and direct, topical punk subjects. But, yeah, I feel like this one is more sensitive to how we’ve grown as musicians. It feels like – we’re just very proud of it. It feels like an improved quality. | 19

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11: What would you point to if you had to point to a few things that demonstrate that? Is it improved musicianship or the production quality? BM: I don’t think I’d put a ton of value in musicianship, but we did improve skill level and stuff just from playing together so much. This band has been kind of a slow process. We’ve been going for 12 years, but it’s still been like a slow process. But it feels great as a completed project; we’re really happy with it. 11: What was the hardest song to finish? BM: The hardest song… I mean, some of the last ones always end up being our favorite ones. “Grains of Salt” was one of the last ones we were working on, and that one we were tweaking quite a bit, like, oh, maybe this part should be longer or shorter or in a different key or have a different vibe. That one was kind of a little more mid-tempo than some of our faster punk stuff, but it feels like a fun party song to us. About staying true to yourself. That one took a little bit longer, but turned out to be one of our favorites, like, ever.

11: At this point, it seems like you’ve probably got a broad spectrum for your audience – people who grew up with the old stuff, people who like the new stuff… BM: Totally. And we have old fans that have been coming for years, but a lot of new ones! 11: I wanted to ask about the album cover. I saw on the back that all the drawings were done by members of the band? BM: Yeah! It was kind of a funny—we were hemming and hawing about what we should do for the album cover. The last album we had the two drawings of cat clocks, and Lelah Maupin [drums] and Emily Nokes [vocals] had arranged them. On this one, we were like, “What if we all drew each other?” after many failed ideas about what to do. We ended up doing portraits of each other in our many different styles – me and Eric being the sloppier ones on the cover – and they did the same thing, arranged it on the cover. It’s so sweet. I love it.

...the way and “ state of the world

right now, it was kind of hard to imagine the kind of record we’d make.

11: I feel like a lot of musicians end up feeling that way – that breakthrough moment when you finally wrap it up and it ends up being a favorite, or the one that resonates the most. BM: Yeah! It’s just funny. I think we wrote it barely a month out of recording, and it ended up being the song that made the album feel really good. Kind of the same for “New World” – central to the album. 11: As you’re touring right now, are you mostly doing the new album, or are you mixing and matching? How are you deciding what your sets look like from night to night? BM: At this point we have so many songs! We’re playing a couple oldies. It feels nice to have a big menu to choose from. We’ve sort of added or taken away a couple old ones to mess with. A lot of people want to hear, like, “Crimson Wave” every night, or we’ll do a couple singles from the last two albums before This Mess is a Place. We play “I Hate the Weekend,” we play “Bridge to Hawaii” – we’ve thrown in a few wild cards. We’re also playing 5-6 songs from the new album, and that’s been really fun. 11: So it’s changing every night? BM: Well, this is a new tour on a new album, so we’re kind of tweaking it. Eventually we kind of find the master setlist – how we like to do things, what transitions well, what feels good – but right now we’ve been just feeling it out.

11: It’s a really cool, personalized touch. Do you ascribe any other meaning or correlation to the album?

BM: I mean, it does look like a big mess. It’s, like, us in a big mess. “This mess is a place” is something – I think it’s something we saw on a bumper sticker – it’s kind of a dumb thing we say when we’re on tour, like when we’re hungover or in like a jam or something, and we’re like, “this mess is a place, I guess.” And when it came time to name the album, we were just like, someone brought that up, and I was like, yeah, that’s a great idea. It felt right. 11: So I asked you what the hardest song to finish was, but now I want to know which song you all got together on and it just happened, like, immediately? BM: I feel like “The Problem” came out really fast. It’s more in our older punk style, and it felt like a familiar song to play. It just kind of worked out fast, using a songwriting style we were familiar with – less tweaking. 11: Does it surprise you when it happens easily like that? BM: It totally does. Writing songs can be frustrating sometimes. We have a good dynamic together, and we have a lot of trust together. Even with that, it can take us kind of a long time to write songs. When it happens like that, it just feels fun and great. »

Get dat cat at [yes, with the dotcom part]

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Lonesome West Studio by Richard Lime ELEVEN: Tell me about the creative space formally known as Lonesome West Studio. How did it come to be? Melanie Nead: Well… I owned Icon Tattoo Studio, right across the street, and my husband and our friend Noah [Bernstein] own Bernstein’s Bagels (in St. Johns). I heard from my friends who [now] own Icon, that these spaces were available, and the landlord is awesome. I’ve known him for… ever. So we jumped on it. When we had first started looking for another place, we had an idea that it would be fun to have the bagel shop and my studio next to each other, if possible, because I help manage the bagel shop and, even when I’m busy with the wall[paper] stuff, it’s nice to be close…

NK: I didn’t know Melanie too well, but I always liked her and Peter. And we came to see Noah when they were touring the bar that used to be out here. When they got the space, we came and looked at it, and then Noah was kind of joking, saying something like, “If you know anyone who wants to rent this space with Melanie…” And I was like, “I’m looking for a space.” But I didn’t really think it would happen. Then, I don’t know, we got in touch about that. So we really have gotten to know each other just from having the space. But, it’s been like a dream… MN: Dreamy. NK: May I say, [laughter] an absolute dream. 11: And this dream, is a marriage of your two, individual art projects. Can you tell me about those?

11: Where did you two meet? Nicky Kriara: Well, probably through music, [Peter and Noah] play together, and then Noah plays in my boyfriend’s band, Old Unconscious. MN: Through that, yeah. Handpainted wallpaper at Psychic Bar on Mississippi

NK: Yes, so about three years ago, I quit working for an animation studio I was full-time at. I was trying to figure out what I could do that I had some skills at, and start my own business. I’ve always been a painter… but I decided that I had a lot of knowledge in ceramics – I have a BFA in ceramics – and there were a lot of people moving here that wanted to buy ceramic work. I started a studio, or my own little company, called Niko. And that’s basically just how I started my side of what I’m doing. And then I was in a basement studio for a while, and I outgrew it and… this space has been great. 11: What else is the deal with Lonesome West Studio? Is it just the home for your two businesses or is it other things, as well? MN: Why no, I’m so glad you asked. We’ve been figuring out the best way to use the space, and we want it to be accessible. We don’t want it to be just strictly a private studio. NK: It’s also such a pretty space. It’s got this really welcoming front entrance area, so it’s so nice to share with people and use in different ways. So we’re kind of trying different things, both to get us more rent and also because it’s great to share.


Handpainted wallpaper at Bernstein’s Bagels on Russell

MN: To make it a bit more public, accessible. We didn’t like the idea of it being this beautiful, wonderful old storefront that nobody can come into. So we’ve been trying different things. We’ve done some classes. We’re excited about renting it out to people who want to teach classes and ... rent a space to have a class or an event and not have it cost a ton of money for people trying to make a living in the arts. And then we’ve been doing monthly open studios, and we’re doing some pop-ups where we have other retail vendors come do a little pop-up in our front retail area. It’s evolving as we’re figuring out what feels right and what makes sense for the space, but we’re really excited about getting other people and brains. 11: Do you feel like the neighborhood has been growing in an artistic way? Tell me about inner-Russell. MN: Honestly, it feels a little bit like a throwback to Old Portland because us, the bagel shop, Icon (which is owned by two of my best, oldest friends), then J&S Signs (who are our friends) just moved in there. And there’s this block full of craftspeople making really amazing things. I think it’s unusual to find such a central space in Portland, anymore, where there are people who are creating things by hand just because real estate is at such a premium now. And just that feeling of community, I think it’s a little hard to find. It feels very special and very lucky. NK: Yeah, it’s getting harder to find ceramic spaces. You need a certain kind of plug. You need to be a little messy… it’s so hard to find a space to rent.

aesthetics … I think one of my most passionate driving forces for doing what I do is that I love applied art, and I love the idea that anyone can enter a beautiful space and appreciate it in a very immediate way. You don’t need an art degree to see that you’re in a beautiful space. You can come to it with as much or as little context as you have and still find joy in it. So I feel like beauty is a human right and that one of the really insidious things that happens in this country is that we separate… if you’re poor, you don’t have access to beauty in the same way that you do if you have money, and I feel really strongly that needs to change ... that’s a deep injustice because human beings need beauty. We feel a compulsion toward beautiful spaces and wanting to decorate the spaces around us. »

Online at and @lonesomeweststudio

11: Last question for each of you. What are the influences that go into creating your artwork? Like the design and aesthetic. What do you draw on? MN: (After hesitation) I’m excited. So… definitely, my biggest influence and a hero of mine is William Morris. Obviously, the whole arts and crafts movement is a lot deeper and more interesting than I think a lot of people realize. And it has this ethos, which I feel we’ve drifted away from, that objects should be functional and beautiful. And all of the arts and crafts movement, like the pillars of the arts and crafts movement, like William Morris, Walter Crane, were all socialists! They had these actually really radical ideologies that all tied up in their concepts of beauty and | 25

LITERARY ARTS Mohamed Asem by Scott McHale


fter being detained in a London airport overnight and enduring questionable and reactionary tactics from immigration officers, Mohamed Asem detailed his experience in the memoir Stranger in the Pen (Perfect Day Publishing). By both fitting and not fitting certain stereotypes, Mohamed is thrown in the airport holding cell, or “pen” to consider his predicament. On one hand, the immigration officers quickly judge him by his name and appearance. On the other, they can’t comprehend his financial independence as a French-Arab post-grad student and question his globe-trotting lifestyle. The memoir addresses many social issues from the inside out. Mohamed’s thought process during his ordeal is well conveyed in the narrative. His internal arguments and efforts to make sense of the situation offer a compelling study on racial profiling from a unique perspective, a writer’s view of his own existential mess. Stranger in the Pen was inspired by just enough traumatic turmoil and familial prodding to get to tell the world about the mistreatment he endured that night in Gatwick Airport. He also dives deep into his past, visiting his younger self when he lived with his mother in France while his father was in Kuwait during the Gulf War. When I met with Mohamed, I did not want to ask too much about his ordeal. He had already lived it and wrote about it and did the book tour. I wanted to know about Mohammed Asem the writer, not the airport detainee. We sat in a busy coffee shop at noon on a Monday and talked about his unique upbringing, his early writing and fascination with Jean-Claude Van Damme. ELEVEN: You were raised in Kuwait and France. Can you tell me about your childhood there? Mohamed Asem: I grew up in Kuwait in the ‘80s. During the Gulf War I was in Paris because my mother lived in Paris. My father stayed in Kuwait, and I joined [him] after about a year. I would visit [my] mother a couple of times a year. So I was spending my summer vacation with her when Iraq invaded Kuwait. 11: You must have worried about your father then? MA: Yes, It was very stressful because my father was in Kuwait and my mother and I were not frequently in touch with him. My mother would always try to call people and find out news, because it wasn’t just my father: we had other family members as well over there. So the way that I experienced war was mainly through my mother, listening to her voice through her closed bedroom door. Hearing her talking to people and


Photo by Jason Quigley getting terrible news and breaking down emotionally and crying. At that time, I had never known the degree to which parents could be emotionally fragile. So when I heard mother crying, the earth was just falling apart for me and I had to escape that, so I would escape in my ways. I would do a lot of reading and listen to music. 11: Is this about when you started writing? MA: I did write at that time, yes. I was reading a lot of comics and Japanese mangas. I was also watching a lot of American action movies at that time like Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Damme. For some reason, I became a big fan. One day I put pen to paper and started writing a story. This story had a main character who was traveling somewhere, and his plane was shot down into a mountain, and he was the only survivor. He was captured by some military people and was taken into a prison camp where he shared a cell with a Jean-Claude van Varenberg. They were both expert martial artists and had to escape their cell and fight this whole army. Thinking back on it now, it could have been a way for me to process what I was going through. 11: How did Stranger in the Pen come to be? MA: After I got detained, I gave up any designs about finding employment in London. I originally hoped that my MFA in creative writing would lead to a career in London, but it didn’t work out. So after that incident I said forget it, I’m not staying in London anymore, and I resigned myself to return to

community literary arts

Kuwait. It was horribly hot in Kuwait that summer, so I decided to go to the US and visit family there until the weather cools down. Then I’ll go back to Kuwait and figure things out. So I spent time with family in Boulder, Colorado. Then I flew to Portland to visit a close friend of mine who I knew from my time at Qatar University. There’s something about Portland. It made me feel comfortable, so I delayed my flight and lingered longer and longer. At one point I thought, while I’m here I should check out the literary scene. I started getting involved with Attic, who has open mic once a month and I would read from my short stories. Through that, I had a meeting with David Biespiel, the founder there and told him I was working on a story about my detainment. He was on his was to PSU for a panel discussion and invited me to come along. It was there that a met Michael Heald from Perfect Day Publishing. I sent him a short story of mine that took place on


the day my mother died. In it, I talk about how she got buried in Kuwait and how I buried her in Kuwait. I wanted to write that story to describe the whole burial ritual. Because over there it’s completely different from how it is in the Western world. He liked it and asked for a rough draft of the story of my detainment. [In] September 2018, he called me and said, “I’d like to publish your book.” 11: So did the incident of you being unrightfully detained at the airport make you write Stranger in the Pen, or was it something else? MA: After I got detained, I never thought about writing the experience down. Because you hear about people getting detained all the time, and so to me it was something normal and I just thought, that just my unlucky day. And so I would share the story as an anecdote to a lot of people. It was when I shared it with family and one of my cousins said, “this is not right.” You should not just accept it. You’re a writer; you ought to write it. I said, “but there’s no story to it. I got detained, and then released. It was a misunderstanding. There’s no story.” I thought about writing it as an article for The Guardian, but the narrative didn’t take. There was no traction, and it was not interesting to me at all. So after about 10 days of working on it, I said, why don’t I treat this as a creative writing project, and my instinct told me to start it at the end, when I got released. So I started at the end, worked my way forward and then back in time, and that’s when I found the story. »

West End · Hawthorne NW 23rd · Portland Airport Bridgeport Village | 27


Jeff Sheridan by Richard Lime Photo by Josh Botzenhart, Big Blue Motion


community visual arts

ELEVEN: First, a bit of background -- when did you realize that you wanted to pursue contemporary art? Jeff Sheridan: I suppose it was a gradual thing, something that was always there, a means of speaking to myself and leaving marks in the world. I was an only child growing up in Florida, from a long line of creatives. My Dad left art in order to pursue his dream of running a Scuba diving business in South Florida. I grew up diving and spending a lot of time by the ocean. Seeing where water meets land, watching tides ebb and flow, seeing the textures of coral and barnacles...all that is baked into who I am. This lead me to be very interested in the sciences, I always excelled in biology and physics. I almost pursued it. But it didn’t give the gratification that painting and drawing did. I studied art in college and went on from there. When I sit down to work now, I’m connecting back to that kid poking at barnacles by the docks in Florida. 11: What brought you to the PNW and what are your thoughts on the visual arts community here? JS: Florida’s infamous reputation doesn’t need much of an introduction. I left the parking lot culture to pursue a place where the environment was more lush and protected, and people were more ecologically minded. The diagonal opposite of Florida. I bought a one way plane ticket without ever visiting. I had my cat under my seat and I smuggled my hermit crab in my jacket pocket. That was 2010. I still have the hermit crab. The arts community here is peculiar, but I owe everything I am to my various mentors, friends, and gallerists who believed in my work over the years. I owned a small space, Pond Gallery, at 10th and West Burnside from 2013-2016. It was a whirlwind, and a great learning opportunity. In a way that’s how I cut my teeth here, and became more sure of what I needed to do. I closed the gallery and adamantly pursued my own work. Within 4 months I was flying across the country to paint a large mural. The art world here in Portland is secular and petty,

but finally maturing. Rising costs are making all creatives nervous, and as a result there seems to be an aversion to clear communication between gallerists and artists, and especially between gallerists. If the gallery community seeks to persist, they’ll need to form unlikely alliances, especially in the face of constant institutional closures. 11: Much of your recent works have an organic landscape vibe, but is composed in B+W. What would you say is the intent behind that? JS: Intention is a hard thing to quantify. Everything is so saturated with color these days. While that can be beautiful, I find peace and quiet in the black and white. The monochrome also allows for more of an optical effect. In many ways this imagery came to me out of my process of automatic markmaking. Over time it built itself into this texture, which is purposely nondescript, but obeys a certain logic I place on it as I use it to create fields, mountains, planets, spores, tectonic plates, etc. The dissonance created from lack of specific identity allows this world to exist and be populated by psychological processes. Nonlinear narratives start populating these abstract landscapes as much as the texture does. Somewhere beyond where and when and what lies a slight apprehension and uncertainty about life, how it flourishes, and how it will end. 11: What is your creative process like? Do you have an idea of the final product before you begin, or does it evolve as you create it? JS: It depends. Sometimes I just start and allow the materials to tell me where they want to go. Other times I have a specific image in mind. My work various from fields or tectonic plates to full blown articulated forms, and the latter rely heavily on planning. My creative process is always moving. I’m inspired most by nature and meditation, I take a lot of day trips outside the city | 29

community visual arts

to get those juices flowing. Sometimes I’ll spend weeks absorbing new natural imagery, and i’ll come back and knock out a whole new batch of paintings in a short amount of time. 11: Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on your current rotation? JS: I’m constantly listening to music when I’m working. My current rotation is a lot of African jazz mixed with some drone stuff and maybe some modern songwriters. Tinariwen, Mulatu Astatke, Ali Farka Toure, Nicolas Jaar, Future Museums, Jon Hopkins, Bing &Ruth, Khruangbin, Flavien Berger, Kevin Morby, Cotton Jones, Kurt Vile, Earth.

11: What experience (a museum, art installation, travel, etc) would you say has influenced your work the most? JS: You mean beyond LSD? [laughs] It’s hard to point to one. Spending time underwater as a kid, watching soft corals sway with the pulse of the waves. Walking in wheat fields in the French countryside. Exploring riverbanks in Oregon. Foraging for mushrooms. Gardening. As far as exhibitions, there was a show at Pompidou in Paris in 2008 called Traces du Sacré which was an overview of ephemeral art from the 20th century, that stuck with me for a long time. 11: If you were asked to create a mural or art installation in any location with unlimited budget, what would that be? JS: Unlimited budget.. hmm. I would probably go beyond my style and make some kind of earthwork botanical garden, a unique sanctuary for rare and native plants in the face of climate change. »

See more online: p.29 Tributaries, 2019 Acrylic and latex paint, 20’x25’ [Mural] p.30 Archetypal Equivalences, 2019 Acrylic on panel, 11”x14” p.32 [Back Cover] Transmitting Medium, 2019 Acrylic on panel, 18”x24”

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Profile for Eleven PDX

Eleven PDX Magazine - June 2019  

Eleven PDX Magazine - June 2019  

Profile for elevenpdx