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The Greater Than Ever Corolla With available 18-inch machined alloy wheels1 and standard LED headlights, you’ve got style for days — or nights that turn into early mornings. Let’s Go Places. Prototype shown with options. 1Performance tires are expected to experience greater tire wear than conventional tires. Tire life may be less than 24,000 miles, depending upon driving conditions. ©2019 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.


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4 SMALL TALK: ANDRÉ 3000, IDRIS ELBA, ALLAH-LAS 8 JAMILA WOODS MAKES POETRY A PRIORITY 16 JÓNSI MAKES SCENTS 24 RUNNING AWAY WITH CARLY RAE JEPSEN 34 HELADO NEGRO’S WILLFULLY WEIRD ART

PUBLISHER ALAN SARTIRANA • PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR RANDY BOOKASTA MANAGING EDITOR ANYA JAREMKO-GREENWOLD • ASSOCIATE EDITOR MIKE LESUER EDITOR-AT-LARGE SCOTT T. STERLING • ART DIRECTOR MELISSA SIMONIAN CONTRIBUTORS A.D. AMOROSI, LILJA BIRGISDOTTIR, ANNA GROTH SHIVE, LILY MOAYERI, MARKUS & KOALA, BRADLEY MURRAY, CARLY RAE JEPSEN, LAURA STUDARUS

DAVIS LEKACH

ANTHEMIC AGENCY MICHAEL BAUER, JOAN CORAGGIO, ANA DOS ANJOS, AMBER HOWELL, NOLAN FOSTER, MICA JENKINS, TAYLOR NUÑEZ, KYLE ROGERS

COVER DESIGN BY MARK WINN COVER PHOTO BY MARKUS & KOALA


TA L K A B O U T T H E PAS S I O N

BRADLEY MURRAY

In the third and final installment of our Passion Issue series, we continue to consider artists—all musicians, this time— who have side hustles, hobbies, or part-time obsessions you might never otherwise have heard about. For us here at FLOOD, “Passion” is a place that transcends the traditional signifiers of success, where accomplishment is measured in personal growth and our ability to become the best and most authentic version of ourselves. In the final offering from the trilogy, we’ve put together yet another exclusive digital series including interviews on the lesserknown passions of some of our favorite music-makers. The third issue features Carly Rae Jepsen, cult pop icon who has found traveling to be a method of both deepening and bettering her relationship with herself; Jamila Woods, an R&B singer from Chicago whose study of poetry has informed both her music and her professional life, as she still teaches students; Jónsi, frontman of Icelandic outfit Sigur Rós, who makes complex perfumes sold by a store his sisters operate in Reykjavík; and Helado Negro, a synth-folk musician whose work as a collaborative visual artist is equally experimental.


FLOOD 10: THE SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE AVAILABLE NOW

Featuring four collectible covers with Jeff Bridges, Alex Honnold, Swoon, and Animal Collective, plus Local Natives, Weyes Blood, Gary Clark Jr., Big Thief, and more.

Buy now at FLOODMAGAZINE.COM or Barnes & Noble stores.


SMALL TALK

André 3000 and His Flute Spread Joy Across America What hell hath Lizzo wrought? The flute had been mostly relegated to memories of high school band and that one scene in Anchorman, until she came along. With the rapid rise of the singer/rapper and her trusty sidekick, Sasha Flute, she made the formerly frumpy woodwind instrument into a symbol of true individual cool. We even wrote about Lizzo’s flute ferocity in our first Passion Issue, back in April. But according to numerous fan accounts from across the country, there’s a new celeb flautist on the scene: hip-hop legend André 3000. The OutKast rapper was most recently spotted playing the flute around the city of Philadelphia, with “at least a dozen” sightings, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Is André planning a forthcoming album of flute solos? Is there a Lizzo duet in his future? One can only hope. It seems inevitable that the two flautists will eventually cross paths—perhaps this is exactly the inspiration André 3000 needs to get coaxed into a recording studio again.

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One Philly fan (named Russ Jack on Twitter), approached André when he caught sight of the artist playing on the steps of a church. “He really is like an urban legend, traveling the world playing a flute. He’s super nice too,” Jack shared on social media, adding that the rapper told him he’d picked up the instrument a couple years ago. Other Philadelphia locales that have hosted impromptu André flute performances are the Liberty Bell and Whole Foods. He also ran into a group of Muslim activists in town for the 2019 Netroots Nation conference, who were excited to snap a pic with him.


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SMALL TALK

Idris Elba Is Turning Up in 2019 When “Idris Elba” was billed on the fifth line of Coachella’s Saturday lineup this year, it wasn’t referring to an up-and-coming indie band borrowing the name from the Wire star, sans the wit of The Dandy Warhols or Gnarls Barkley. “Doesn’t matter how big my name is on the poster,” Elba told Rolling Stone earlier this year when it was announced that the moonlighting DJ would make an appearance at the Indio, California music and arts festival. “This is massive for me!” Once known as DJ Big Driis, Elba’s passion for scratching vinyl predates his acting career. Before getting his start on British TV in the early ’90s, Elba was DJing weddings and other events in London with plans of going professional in music. A decade later, despite his film and television career taking off with appearances in such diverse projects as Law & Order, 28 Weeks Later, and The Office, the entertainer has additionally appeared in Fat Joe music videos, co-produced Jay-Z, and DJed NBA All-Star weekend parties. With his DJ-centric sitcom Turn Up Charlie hitting Netflix a month before his Coachella set, 2019 has already been a huge year for Elba’s music career—and even if he won’t be the next Bond, we can’t rule out the possibility of an Elba cameo behind the boards on the next Bond theme.

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TONY ACCOSTA COURTESY OF NICK WALL/NETFLIX

Catching waves with Allah Las Not many bands practice what they preach quite like Allah Las, a surf rock band that does, indeed, surf. Although their music has recently drifted in more psychedelic directions, the LA quartet continue to sound like they’re unwinding after a long day of riding waves. “Three of us were raised by the beach in southern Los Angeles and went to high school together,” explains singer/guitarist Miles Michaud. “When you grow up around there, surfing is something that’s always present, in different iterations. Everyone has some kind of experience with it, and the ocean in general, at a young age.”

Yet unlike the erratic punk of their surfy peers in groups like Wavves and FIDLAR, the sport remains mostly absent from Allah Las’ lyrical output and overall aesthetic, the band viewing it more as a parallel interest than an inspiration for their music. “I imagine just about everything you experience ends up influencing the things you create,” Michaud notes. “You are what you eat.” As for recommendations for surfing outside of Southern California, Michaud only has one answer: “Kelly Slater Wave Ranch, the only Wave Ranch fully endorsed by Kelly Slater.”

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MAKES POETRY A PRIORITY An incidental enrollment in a performative poetry class led the Chicago artist to a career in music, though her passion for and professional engagement with poetry remains. by Lily Moayeri photos by Bradley Murray

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amila Woods had an unconventional education. The eldest of four children, the poet/singer/ songwriter shifted from institution to institution in her hometown of Chicago. She went from an Afrocentric school to a Jesuit Catholic School, but it was Woods’ educational experience at Gallery 37 that largely determined the trajectory of her life. An artist apprenticeship that pays teenage students to do some form of art during summer break, Gallery 37’s program can also extend to afterschool during the academic year. It was during her first summer with Gallery 37 that Woods was exposed to performance poetry. “I didn’t actually choose that program,” says Woods. “I didn’t even know what performance poetry meant. I had to choose three options. I chose singing, theater, and performance poetry. It was the program I got into. I was disappointed at first, but ended up loving it. It was a really cool turning point when it became something I wanted to continue to do. “We went on a field trip to an open mic,” she continues. “That was the first time I performed in front of a bunch of people my age and felt like I was really being listened to. I didn’t have that experience at my high school, which was amazing academically, but wasn’t very accepting or creative.” In 2015, a life-shifting event occurred for Woods: she won the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, which came with a $25,000 cash reward. This allowed Woods to focus on her art. The following year, Woods’ was featured on Chance the Rapper’s “Blessings,” as well as on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “White Privilege II,” which brought attention to her unique voice. That same year, she released her acclaimed debut album, Heavn.

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“AT YCA (YOUNG CHICAGO AUTHORS) W AND COMPARE IT WITH POEMS. WE WOU SONG ON THE SAME LEVEL AS A PO 12

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WE WOULD READ AND LISTEN TO A LOT OF HIP-HOP ULD SEE THE LYRICS OF A CHIEF KEEF OR COMMON OEM BY CAROLYN RODGERS OR PATRICIA SMITH.”


Woods followed up Heavn with Legacy! Legacy!, an album that pays tribute to influential persons of color. A historical, biographical, and musical poetry anthology, Legacy! tells stories of Miles Davis and his wife Betty, authors Zora Neal Hurston, Octavia Butler, and James Baldwin, poets Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez, artists Frida Kahlo and Jean-Michel Basquiat, multi-talented entertainers Eartha Kitt and Sun Ra, and blues musician Muddy Waters. Each of these subjects has an eponymous song, which makes referencing their stories an easy task. It was through Gallery 37 that Woods was introduced to the concept of teaching artists—and to Young Chicago Authors, where she is now Associate Artistic Director. She is also an organizer of Louder Than a Bomb, the youth poetry festival that YCA puts together. Additionally, Woods is a founding member of Teaching Artist Corps, as well as a member of multi-racial, multi-genre poetry collective Dark Noise. She also co-edited the second volume in the BreakBeat poet series, Black Girl Magic. “When making the album, I was thinking about the idea of hip-hop and having this space of learning,” Woods recalls. “At YCA we would read and listen to a lot of hip-hop and compare it with poems. We would see the lyrics of a Chief Keef or Common song on the same level as a poem by Carolyn Rodgers or Patricia Smith. Thinking of it like that, my music can also be a learning thing, or a space where someone can ask, ‘That song “BETTY,” who is that about?’ I was especially thinking about the songs when young people are listening to them. How can this be a moment where they can learn about someone they might not have learned about at school?” She continues, “I never would have been introduced to Nikki Giovanni or Gwendolyn Brooks in high school,” Woods admits. “A lot of schools have great curriculums and great teachers who seek out work that their students feel reflected in, but the overall culture of my school wasn’t like that. I don’t think I would have been as passionate about poetry if there hadn’t been the countercultural space of learning that I found through Gallery 37 and YCA, where I could direct my own learning and have agency. It gave me this freedom and this sense of poetry being something I could do.”

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“I WAS ESPECIALLY THINKIN LISTENING TO THEM. HOW CA ABOUT SOMEONE THEY M


NG ABOUT THE SONGS WHEN YOUNG PEOPLE ARE AN THIS BE A MOMENT WHERE THEY CAN LEARN MIGHT NOT HAVE LEARNED ABOUT AT SCHOOL?”

Some of the songs on Legacy! Legacy! indirectly found their start at YCA. Along with one of her co-teachers (and partners in Dark Noise), Fatimah Asghar, a prompt Woods gives her students is to “cover” a poem. This is much like writing a poem inspired by another poet’s work using the same theme or a similar topic—but from your perspective. Woods took this prompt on “GIOVANNI,” which is a cover of Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “Ego Tripping,” but as a song. Chicago producer Slot-A is behind the well-matched beats and ’90s grooves for the majority of Legacy! His production is not only the perfect companion to Woods’ emotive tone, but also to the sentiments of the songs. “Slot-A just sent me a folder of beats,” Woods remembers. “Once I started realizing what the concept of the album was, there were crazy drum patterns that I definitely heard Miles in, then what I thought was guitar, I heard Muddy on that one. I have four songs I had written to his beats without even meeting him. I thought, ‘I have to start doing sessions with this person because we seem to be on the same wavelength.’ “We started making music from scratch in a more intentional way,” she continues. “I want to write a song named after Octavia Butler so we would spend a day reading a bunch of her stuff, talking about her, watching videos or whatever we could find to research the person, and then make the beat based off of being in that headspace.” By the end of the new album, Woods was able to give concrete music direction to her Heavn collaborators and fellow Chicago residents, Peter Cottontale and oddCouple who provided the beats for “EARTHA” and “BETTY,” respectively.


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Woods keeps her activities close to Chicago, where she still resides, another life decision she came to through her educational experience, this time at Brown University. “I got advice from a mentor who visited our senior class,” she says. “I asked them if I should move to New York or LA. They asked me where I was from and I told them about Chicago and YCA and everything. They said I already have a great community. In these other cities, I would have to start from scratch and probably be very broke and have to do an unpaid internship. They kept it very real and I felt privileged to be able to come home to a place that wanted to hire me, and being able to build from being a teaching artist, which I think is the ideal career path for someone who wants to be an artist and is just starting out.” It’s a long time from when Woods started out, but she still makes YCA a priority. In fact, she is in her fourth week of twenty sessions with Bomb Squad, a five-week summer apprenticeship for twelve students who made it through the rounds of Louder Than a Bomb. Her schedule permitting, she visits high schools to play her album and speak about the people that inspired it, with the intention of giving students access to what they might not be exposed to otherwise. “It was necessary for my personal development for me to have other experiences during school,” she concludes. “When we would get together at Gallery 37, it was all the weirdos from our respective schools who were now together. We felt free to be ourselves and talk about the nerdy poetry stuff we love. That was very affirming. “But I’m grateful for all my school experiences. They definitely shaped me in different ways. At each school, there was one extroverted person who would decide I was going to be their best friend. I always had one ride-or-die friend. I need to write a poem about that.”


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The Sigur Rรณs frontman is a perfume connoisseur on the side. by Nick Fulton photos by Lilja Birgisdottir

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Have you ever wondered what the second most famous person in Iceland (after Björk) does for fun? We’re talking about Jónsi, the frontman of Icelandic avant-noise band Sigur Rós. The answer? Jónsi makes perfume. The musician began experimenting with essential oils and aromachemicals eight years ago. Today, two of his signature perfumes can be purchased from a store operated by his sisters in Reykjavík. Named Fischer, the family-run business is more of an experimental art space than a traditional mom-and-pop store. Jónsi’s youngest sister Sigurrós—whom the band is named after— manages the space, which is located inside a nineteenth century wooden house that was once Jónsi’s recording studio. Over several bottles of wine in 2017, Jónsi, Sigurrós, and their other two sisters Lilja and Ingibjörg, decided to convert the former studio into a family boutique. Their mother (a seamstress) and father (a carpenter) helped outfit the space, their boyfriends composed a soundtrack that functions as a sound bath, and all four siblings had a hand in creating and curating the beauty products, jewelry, art, video work, and herbal remedies that are now on display and sold there. Jónsi describes the whole thing as a “sensory experience,” where different sights, sounds and smells stimulate different senses as you progress through the carefully curated space. A perfume showroom displaying his oils, which looks a bit like a medieval laboratory, is located in the building’s basement. Jónsi got his introduction to perfume eight years ago when he boiled down and extracted tar from an Icelandic birch tree. The scent had a smokey, leathery smell similar to a campfire, and Jónsi was intrigued by its unrepentant earthiness. As a fragrance, Birch tar is known to blend well with jasmine, sandalwood, and rosemary. He says the processes of making music and perfume appeal to his love of being taken somewhere—both are meditative and immersive, the end result dictated by how your sensors react to the work (though he can’t listen to music while he’s mixing chemicals because it’s “too distracting,” as he puts it). For this same reason, he hasn’t yet combined his two passions, though on the odd occasion he and a group of other musicians have created sound baths and burned incense to enhance the atmosphere for those in attendance. FLOOD

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“You make something out of nothing. It’s invisible and I love that about it,” Jónsi explains, with a chipper tone in his voice that seems at odds with some of the somber interviews he’s done recently in relation to his music. “You create something like music and it’s invisible, but still it moves you in some way. It’s the same with scents: you smell something and it moves you. Maybe you can’t understand why, but it triggers a memory or something.” His hobby developed into more of an obsession when he started taking chemicals on tour. Between shows with Sigur Rós, he would set up a mini lab in his hotel room and blend oils and aroma-chemicals together in test tubes. “I had a few materials, thirty, forty, fifty or something, and I’d just spread them out,” he explains. “If I had days off, I’d do it in the morning or the night before… It was probably weird for the cleaners, coming in and seeing all this shit lying around,” he adds before chuckling to himself. At his home in Los Angeles, Jónsi has a more sophisticated set up. Among his musical instruments is a perfume organ that holds hundreds of tiny bottles of raw chemicals— many with handwritten labels containing formulas that only Jónsi can translate. The organ performs a similar role to a countertop in a mechanic’s garage; Jónsi uses it to blend oils and chemicals sourced from Iceland and other parts of the world. He notes that it’s much easier to get the materials he needs here in the U.S. “I can buy stuff online,” he says. “I know for my sisters in Iceland, some things are hard for them to import. Some things you can’t fly with.” The logistics of touring the world with a bag of up to fifty oils never seemed to phase him, though. In Reykjavík, his oils are laid out on a perfume organ crafted from the bones of an actual musical organ. It’s one of the many details that decorate Fischer’s rustic interior, where Jónsi, somewhat reluctantly, sells two of his perfumes. “My sister forced me to release them,” he says of n.23 and n.54. “I’m never happy with anything I do. I’m always really anal about everything.” “N.23 is pretty good, that’s kind of fruity, smokey,” he describes, cautiously critiquing his own work. “54 is something brutal, I don’t know what it is.” On Fischer’s website, both are described using evocative language. “Smoke in the air and tarred telephone poles,” begins the description of n.23. “In the breeze the feminine fountain pine tickles the top of your skull. A beached whale is about to explode,” it continues.

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The description of n.54 reads, “Fresh coat of varnish on a wooden shed. Uprooted moss, wet dirt and vetiver roots. Burnt car tires on hot asphalt and dry patchouli. Heavy, slow-drying oil painting. Icelandic alpine fir, footsteps in frozen grass and salt liquorice. Dirty leather, animalistic musk and ammonia.” Jónsi, who is self-taught, says the process of making perfume is extremely delicate. Every drop can change the composition and render a perfume rancid. “Perfumes are twenty to one hundred materials, so if you fuck up one drop, then the whole thing is gone and you have to start again,” he says. “If you want to be proper about it then you should let it mature for a few months, so that all the materials can marinate and fuse together.” He likens the development of perfume to composing a song; both have base notes, a middle, and a treble. It’s about finding the right balance, “a lot of trial and error,” he says. Jónsi’s next perfume, which will soon be packaged and sold at Fischer, will be his boldest yet, and was perhaps his most challenging to concoct. He had to overcome his disdain for florid, feminine perfumes to satisfy his sisters, who wanted something fresher smelling to counter the other two leathery fragrances. Jónsi describes it as “more of a summery scent.” He admits, “It’s really hard for me to do flowery stuff because I really don’t like flowery perfumes. It’s a really fine line of doing something nice, spicy, and fresh, that doesn’t become too flowery or heavy. It’s a challenge to get it right.” Despite being a connoisseur of fine fragrances, Jónsi doesn’t actually wear other people’s scents. He prefers to use his body as a canvas for his own creations. “I just like wearing my own experiments,” he says. “I’ll put some of a plant in a bottle and spray it on me and see how it is, or I just wear pure chemicals on me to see how they smell on the skin.” Whether using his nose or his ears, Jónsi clearly knows how to trust his instincts. The music he’s made with Sigur Rós and under his own name has the ability to transport you to another world. His soundscapes, much like the descriptions of his perfume, evoke a sense of wonder. They each have a kind of refined elegance that comes from knowing when a formula has been perfected.


The cult pop star loves traveling, and says it has shaped both how she looks at the world and at herself. by Laura Studarus travel photos courtesy of Carly Rae Jepsen portraits by Markus & Koala 30

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On her 2015 single “Run Away with Me,” Carly Rae Jepsen sang about the romance of packing up and leaving everything behind. The reality of doing that, of course, isn’t quite so romantic, as the Canadian musician recently discovered on the first night of her solo trip to Italy. 32

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“I’m such a pampered baby when I travel with my crew,” Jepsen laughs. “They’re always looking after all the details. On my trip to Rome, I texted my assistant and said, ‘I suck at this travel thing alone. I already forgot my credit cards!’ She had to FedEx them to me the next day. Which was laugh-worthy…I’m describing myself as a total ditz! But no one saw that as more funny than I did.” Despite the accidental under-packing (“Good music playlists are important,” she says of her new packing checklist. “The rest—passport, definitely credit cards this time, and go”), Jepsen considers her vacation in Italy—a.k.a. her first solo trip—a success. Having traveled extensively for work since the release of her 2012 sophomore album Kiss, Jepsen is used to what she calls a life of “constant movement.” But even before she was the singer who got “Call Me Maybe” stuck in our heads, she was on the move—thanks to a family who loved camping and long road trips. On one memorable vacation when Jepsen was thirteen, they took that hobby international. “Two days in Paris, two days in Amsterdam, that kind of thing,” she recalls. “I just loved it. We were camping in most places or staying in hostels. When I got a job as a coffee barista, I remember looking at the tip jar and thinking. ‘One day, I’m going to go somewhere.’”

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“When I got a job as a coffee barista, I remember looking at the tip jar and thinking, ‘One day, I’m going to go somewhere.’”


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Given the recent release of her fourth album Dedicated, Jepsen acknowledges it might be a while before she’s able to travel for pleasure again. (As we talk, she’s in the Amsterdam airport, preparing to board a flight to Japan for the next leg of her tour, where they’ve already hit seven countries in two and a half weeks.) But it’s something that’s always on her mind and a frequent topic of conversation, as she tries to get the scoop from those people who know best. “That way some of the hidden information that might not be on the TripAdvisor websites is right at my fingertips,” she reveals. “I have used those types of websites as well, though. Also, I’m always inspired and romanced by a good movie. I think that’s half the reason I went to Italy.” True to her word, Jepsen asks me about my travel experiences, and we briefly bond over a shared love of seeing the world. When I mention I’d like to visit the island in Malta where the 1980 film Popeye was filmed—which featured the original Harry Nilsson song “He Needs Me,” an inspiration for Dedicated standout track “Everything He Needs”—she coos appreciatively. Although visiting Japan (“It’s like someone had created a country with my fantasies all wrapped into one beautiful place!”) and another South African safari are still among Jepsen’s travel goals, she’s itching to get back to Italy…and Malta isn’t too far away. “I had so much fun in Italy. There’s people I’d like to take back to some of the stops I visited,” she notes. “I know that I’ll never forget the first time I came across the Colosseum—by mistake, by the way! I just took a wrong turn and saw it. And I gasped out loud. I think anything that does that, whether it’s a good meal or a building that’s so stunning it stops you in your tracks, I love sensations like that.”


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“I’m always inspired and romanced by a good movie. I think that’s half the reason I went to Italy.”


Even though Jepsen might have required a little help from her team to achieve Italian bliss, she did find unexpected freedom in the transformative trip, one that’s making her consider more solo treks. The vacation was scheduled as a mental break during the writing process for Dedicated, where, deep into crafting what turned out to be around two hundred songs, she was feeling a bit lost. The singer-songwriter found her reprieve in a lot of dinners for one, and in making unexpected travel buddies. (“Strangers became friends to me!” she says happily.) Even as an internationally recognized musician, there was a comfortable level of anonymity built into the experience. “It changes your relationship with yourself when you travel,” she says. “You get to face new challenges that shape how you look at the world and look at yourself. There’s freedom in fashion, because no one is expecting you to be the exact same thing that you were, because they have no previous expectations.” So, in 2016 when Jepsen’s label asked her to drop everything to come home and promote the song “Cut to the Feeling,” which had gained some traction in her absence thanks to placement in a Canadian film, she politely declined the offer. Even as someone who loves her job, what she learned during her time away made the decision easy: A strong work ethic is important—but that also means taking care of yourself. “I knew that I needed to not go back to work yet,” Jepsen says. “I just started this thing. So, I’m going to stay. It was an empowering decision for me, because I’m usually on the hustle. This career can be an adrenaline rush, but it can take over your whole life. As I’m getting older, I’m learning that you can’t enjoy it if you’re not in a good headspace. For me, that does mean taking breaks every once and a while. I’ve learned that travel can be the most recharging thing.”


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W I L L F U L LY WEIRD ART

When he’s not writing experimental synth-folk, Roberto Carlos Lange is breaking new ground in the world of collaborative visual art. By A.D. Amorosi

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If “innovation” best describes what Florida-born, Ecuadorian maestro Helado Negro does in his musical life on electro-Latino tinged, socio-political albums like 2016’s Private Energy and 2019’s This Is How You Smile, “playful passion” is what delineates his strange—but wise—work as a visual and sound installation artist. Whether alone or in collaboration with fellow multidisciplinary artists like his wife, Kristi Sword, the artist born Roberto Carlos Lange seems to have something of a dumpsterdiver art aesthetic wherein garbage bags, tinsel, plastic bits, cardboard, hardware, and electronics meet in a cartoonish (but not necessarily comic) fashion. “Visual art wasn’t exactly a precursor to my music, though I did attend Savannah College of Art and Design to study animation in the late ’90s,” says Lange of his schooling. Before he got to college, he would stay up late to watch MTV’s famously experimental art-video animated program, Liquid Television. “Between those videos and my brother bringing back jungle, rave, and techno music from his time in Europe—I was impressionable, like thirteen years old—there was a parallel connection,” Lange explains. “Something alien, but affixed.” Eventually, the alien became familiar to Lange—in fact, it now seems like second nature. What set off his deeper dive into experimentalism was the sketchy sound and vexing vision of threadbare theoretician Norman McLaren’s 1952 anti-war film Neighbours. “It was so cool in regard to its social commentary and simplicity, its goofiness and seriousness, how he hand-painted sounds onto optical film,” Lange recalls. “That became the catalyst for me, taking foreign tools then making them your own.”

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“ T H E R E I S A S P E C I F I C G OA L I N M I N D W H E N I ' M D O I N G M U S I C. W H E N I ' M O N T H E V I S U A L- S C U L P T U R A L P E R F O R M A N C E T I P, I J U S T T H I N K I T ' S F U N A N D W I L L F U L LY W E I R D. ”


Lange went on to make everything from tinsel mammal sculptures—costumed humans covered in shimmering tinsel suits who dance onstage while he sings—to a hallucinatory music video for the quiet track “País Nublado,” a work soaked in color-based metaphysics. Moving from the past to the present, however, Lange sees his visual work and its audio counterpart (not specifically related to his songs and albums) as growing more direct and focused with time, rather than increasingly symbolic and impressionistic. “The tinsel mammals were a more pointed moment for me—certainly memorable as something material, sculpturally speaking,” he says. “I didn’t even realize, at first, that I was making sculptures there, as that form is usually static. I liked exploring that, especially as I did so with my wife. There is a lot of interplay with our life at home and sharing studio space in work such as that.” Lange is quick to add that it’s in collaborative efforts that his skills as a visual artist primarily shine, referring to his home-work life with Sword and his late-2000s project with artist David Ellis called Trash Talk. Lange describes those “sonic trash bags” made from tin, foam, and wire as “kinetic, rhythmic sculptures. It was finding trash on the street, along with their acoustic properties that could be triggered by electrical currents. It looked as if the trash was coming alive, the ultimate junkyard gang.”


DAVID LEKACH


Lange’s 2011 commission from Flux Projects for a site-specific sound installation in the lobby of an Atlanta high-rise—called Sounding Up There, a collection of giant weather balloons and audio speakers—was all about responding to a specific atmosphere, “rather than, say, appearing on a stage and just performing,” as he puts it. Such thoughtful consideration to a room and its vibe, the textures and even the souls of its inhabitants, made every movement and noise more intense, pointed, and weightily conceptual. “The only nightmare was that we had speakers carried twenty feet in the air by helium balloons,” Lange admits good-humoredly. “It was beautiful, if not requiring a lot of maintenance.” Lange mentions, too, that his most recent work has found him moving into the sculptural/dance realm of narrative storytelling (“Certainly, that is true of the tinsel mammals”). With that, he has a signature that is probably more stubborn and static as a musical solo artist—but more malleable and pliable as a collaborative visual one. “I am way more aware of things catching fire now—hopefully, not in a literal sense—as a collaborative artist,” Negro says with a laugh. “I’m able to gauge myself and what I am truly about when in collaboration outside of a musical recording format. There is a specific goal in mind when I’m doing music. When I’m on the visual-sculptural performance tip, I just think it’s fun and willfully weird. You are making something that doesn’t exist in a normal setting. There is no format for something ‘normal,’ because there is no normal way to do it or look at it.”


WANDER > WONDER

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Profile for FLOOD Magazine

FLOOD: The Passion Issue #3