HOOLIGAN MAG IS
EDITOR IN CHIEF MORGAN MARTINEZ
MANAGING EDITOR RIVKA YEKER
ASSOCIATE EDITOR ROSIE ACCOLA
special thanks KRISTINA ESFANDIARI rae quinta brunson bradley hale onyx preye engobor sarah coakley grandstand media sophie allison ANNA DITUCCI-CAPPIELLO sarah beidatsch
hooligan mag issue #26
// BY RIVKA YEKER // PORTRAITS BY RAE
In the first seconds
of my conversation with Kristina Esfandiari, the strong voice behind solo project Miserable and full band King Woman, I felt an immediate energy transcend through state lines. Kristina is all feeling, something she openly admits and even celebrates. Everything she does is driven by her intuition. Interestingly enough, I feel very similarly myself, which is why we both felt like old friends talking on the phone. Kristina, who is happily living in L.A. right now, and has just released her new EP Loverboy / Dog Days. Her previous record Uncontrollable is a dark serenade into the abyss. It is emotionally and aurally intense, in a way that gently grasps the listener by the shoulder and says, “Take a seat, stay a while, let yourself forget about what hurts. I’ll remember for you.” Her other work in King Woman is still as breathy and consuming, but the instrumentals take precedence over the lyrics. They are a doom metal band that fill rooms with both their sound and energy. The scene lacks this kind of atmospheric beauty in vocals, and it especially lacks women behind the mic (though we can’t disregard the works of Chelsea Wolfe, Lingua Ignota, and Emma Ruth Rundle).
I read in an interview for Vice that Kristina held with Deborah Layton, a survivor of the world’s largest mass suicide: the Jonestown Massacre. Kristina stated that starting King Woman allowed her to heal from trauma, and I asked her how she finds catharsis in art. She said, “It isn’t something you can control. If you’re creating, it’s inevitable. It’s going to give you some kind of insight. It’s part of the process. It might open some old wounds, but it’s a form of therapy.” Later in our interview, she also said something that struck me. She said she didn’t regret any of the trauma she experienced because it made her who she is, that looking back, even on all the ugly, there is beauty. Coping with trauma through art is a common practice, and in a way, for Kristina, it is a reclamation of the self she wasn’t able to be in adolescence. She said, “I wasn’t allowed to have a diary. There was no privacy, no safe place to express, to be a sensitive, vulnerable, nostalgic, angsty, teenager.” When there is a lack of freedom, when a person is restricted, there is bottled up resentment, confusion, and a sort of ferocity that builds with time. It is a fire burning, a soft and quiet one, waiting to be put out.
Kristina said, “I was angry, because when boundaries are crossed, there is a strong sense of anger. Deep down, I knew something was wrong.” The music Kristina makes is deeply reflective of this feeling, in its own captivating way. There is a balance in making something raw enough in essence, but still produced in a cohesive & intentional way. Both King Woman and Miserable find this balance, and I believe it is because Kristina’s outlook on creating is simple: let it spill out of you. Essentially, there is no reason not to follow your gut, especially if you are someone who has relied on it for so long. She said, “It diminishes creativity to overthink something.” I asked her how her previous Miserable record, Uncontrollable, is different from her upcoming record. She said that it is entirely different personas / entities, that she makes songs based on a single word, like Uncontrollable. It is rare for an artist to allow themselves to release all their creative energy without holding back, but Kristina believes it to be the only way to make music. She said, “I follow my intuition. That’s where I write from.” And to me, there is no better place to write. To me, that is the core of writing.
I ask her about the scene she’s in, the one that’s historically oppressive & riddled with toxic masculinity, also the one that has been a major influence on my adolescence and personhood. I ask her if she thinks her music can shift people’s perspective on genres like metal and shoegaze. She said, “I’m not trying to infiltrate a scene and change it; I’m just trying to make my own space.” This made such unbelievable sense to me, in that moment. I understood what she meant because that’s what I aim to do, too. There is power in creating your own turf on a massive one, but yours is engaging with other artists you believe in, all sick of accepting a once perceived norm. I asked Kristina, “What is some advice you wish you could give to young people who feel alienated by metal (and its subgenres) culture but like the music itself? Especially if these people are nonmen?” She said, “Everything is about energy. Don’t be kicked around by people’s perceptions; find the strength to be authentically yourself. You don’t have to fit in with anybody. They’ll feel your energy and they’ll come around.” Kristina’s energy is a vibrant, all-consuming one that comes out directly in her music. She is making her own space in a scene, and a world, that consistently tries to reject it. To be emotional and earnest is to be powerful. The space that Kristina creates is one that invites you to be your ugliest and your most beautiful without forcing you to be either.
ONYX PREYE ENGOBOR
photographed by BRADLEY HALE
Quinta Brunson is transforming media platforms through modes like Twitter and Instagram, two of the most common ways of communicating with young folks today. With a start in improv for the stage, her artistry has rapidly grown across mediums. From writing for Buzzfeed, to Youtube series, to stand up, to films & tv, and even to the page, Quinta’s voice reaches into many digital ecosystems and artistic communities. Our conversation starts with me asking about her story. “I’m from Philadelphia, I’ve been out in LA for five years. I got my start on the stage, and then in improv. Then [I] moved to digital, and I had a video go viral, and I capitalized off that. I didn’t drop out of school on purpose. I wasn’t dropping out, I was gonna go back to school but then there wasn’t really a point to. I started having a lot of success, I was working with Buzzfeed and independently, and not once did anyone ever ask me what my degree was. I don’t think the goal should ever be to drop out. Because, if you start college you should have the mindset to finish, but If you have the opportunity to take experiences before graduating that you find exciting, lucrative or not, then there’s nothing wrong with considering not going back. School will always be there, you can always go back. Some opportunities might not [be there].”
It’s no secret that our generation grows more weary towards institutions every day, so these words are important to hear. Especially for those who don’t have access to higher education. Quinta is a testament to that, of following your gut and intuition where opportunity rises. This begs the question: Does the internet have the power to redefine and deconstruct certain institutions? Higher education should not be the prerequisite for having work be taken seriously. Especially when said institutions are built upon systems of oppression. Mainstream modes of media like news outlets and television networks have historically excluded marginalized identities. Similarly, industries like comedy and screenwriting are dominated by cis white men. “I was on stage first doing improv and sketch work. This was really my start into comedy. I was pretty anti-internet but then when Instagram got video, I was playing around on my personal profile and made a video, and it blew up. [I] realized that I could extend what I was doing onstage into a digital platform. People who are creating in a digital landscape, have to understand that if you want to be successful in it, you have to ask yourself, ‘what makes people want to watch it?’ Sometimes, people are like ‘why don’t people watch my shit’? It has to be something people want to watch and share. Sharing is a huge part of digital interaction, it’s literally the heartbeat of the platform and how things are watched and circulated on digital platforms. I think the internet is the most powerful tool we have. And it’s not even about your follower count. It’s about creating compelling work.” What I find so compelling or “shareable” about Quinta’s work is the way it is able to dissect a moment. To pinpoint a topic or an issue that is vexing a community and to translate that into a tweet, or an episode of Quinta vs Everything, or a meme. It provides a sense of catharsis for the viewer. That’s what makes it shareable, that I, as a black woman, can scroll through my feed and find a voice that echoes mine, a voice that speaks funny things, true things, healing things. My retweet or “like” is is a gesture and expression of support; it is to uplift that voice.
“People are watching the internet more than they are watching TV. They watch youtube, they watch instagram, they were watching vine, and this massive shift in media consumption is beginning to make certain more “traditional” outlets seem obsolete,” she says. This is where the power of the internet arises from. There is a potential here to combat the way media has always been done. Historically, mainstream media outlets have been racist and exclusive, gatekeeping only to highlight a select few. Many traditional and well known media outlets have thrived off anti-blackness, Transmisogyny, homophobia and many -isms upon -isms. Oftentimes tokenizing and fetishizing the POC, queer, and trans characters they rarely represent, in a way that perpetuates violence towards these groups. Film and TV itself were segregated and never portrayed any queer or gender variant identities. The presence of these identifies behind the screen is a very important step to making sure these deities and narratives are being represented truthfully and authentically. Despite this, Queer and trans black indigenous people of color (QTBIPOC) have been and continue to use the internet as a tool to create spaces where marginalized voices can speak and share their stories, especially when the white media lens leaves these stories untouched. Quinta says, “When Mike Brown got shot, twitter was there on the ground first when major news outlets weren’t. Twitter has become our way of getting our news quicker.” And from this, the #Blacklivesmatter movement was born. A movement was started by a hashtag in a digital space that now spans nations, continents.
I think the internet is the most powerful tool we have. And it’s not even about your follower count. It’s about creating compelling work.
“People underestimate what tools can be found on the internet, and it’s not just about followers. Some people and students are making incredible work online that have generated an audience. There are amazing directors who are putting their films on Youtube, but because its not been published on more “reputable” platforms, it is discredited as a “serious” or “good film” when it might be better than anything that was shown Sundance this year.” She’s right. We exist in a time where artists have more access to sharing their work than ever before. It provides a “startup space”, a sort of workshopping before it’s more “official.” Yet, there is conflict happening where folks in “traditional” platforms (the stage, print, “news” outlets, film foundations) discredit the validity of “online” work. With creatives like Quinta, we see the future in good hands. Her work creates a balance between these many worlds, and shows us the ways in which various outlets can only make each other stronger. Quinta’s most famous piece of content is her “People be gay” meme that spread through twitter timelines and Instagram stories like rapid fire. I ask her about that meme and where it came from. “It was actually born out of one of my twitter threads which had started in response to a bunch of homophobic stuff I had seen on twitter that was making me really angry and frustrated. So, the point of the thread was to call out this homophobia. I ended the thread with a tweet “people be gay” and then I decided to put it on a picture of myself. Meme culture is so fun and beautiful I thought it was so cool and it was really nice to be a part of something that brought a lot of comfort and pride to loved ones in the LGBTQI community.” She continues, “Memes are a new language originated by our generation. The internet quite literally has become a place for community; we have adopted new languages, found platforms for resistance, rest, and healing. A space where our anger can be channeled into content that has impact. I often think about the utter bullshit black women have to put up with on a daily basis. The internet has opened a space for us to process and translate these experiences and gives others the opportunity to validate and uplift our voice. Whether it’s something we are commiserating over, or finding community in, memes are a way for us to see and recognize ourselves and connect with others.” When asked what exciting things the future holds for her, she tells me about a book she’s working on titled She Means Well, and then gleefully tells me of some projects she has coming out that she sadly can’t talk about. So, we are going to keep our eyes peeled for her upcoming work. I closed with asking her what she would like to see change about the internet: “We just want our posts in chronological order, Facebook!” She exclaims. The internet has power, and it’s important that the power continues to belong to the users. There are many corporations and politicians who see this power and seek to take it into their own hands. Algorithms created by Facebook are controlling the content we see and engage with. If this continues, we risk the erasure of important perspectives, like the unknown filmmaker or the silenced writer. Quinta and many other artists and activists remind us of the ways in which power belongs to us. We have the capacity to change platforms, to have our voice be heard, and our stories shared. We have the power to alter the very structure of reality as we know it, even if it is by demanding chronological order on our timelines.
soccer m om
// BY ANNA DITUCCI-CAPPIELLO // PHOTOS BY SARAH BEIDATSCH
my Coming out of the Nashville DIY scene, Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison), has been relentlessly self-releasing and playing her music for years. On the heels of Clean, released earlier this year, Allison has set out on a headlining tour of the US and is preparing a tour of Europe in support of Kacey Musgraves. On October 19, Soccer Mommy will be releasing a reworked version of the song “Henry,” off the 2016 collection For Young Hearts as a 7” single, with a heart wrenching cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” as the B-side. Allison sat down with Hooligan to talk about “sad girl music,” not reading the comments, and constantly evolving as a musician.
You’ve spoken about your discomfort with the phrase “sad girl music,” How does that affect the way you write a song, if at all? It definitely doesn’t affect that. I think that -- it’s not really like I have a problem with the idea of it. It’s just when people use it in a derogatory way, or use it to be degrading. That would be the main issue I have with it. What influences you most as an artist? Is it something tangible? I think it’s just the way I kind of express things and think about things in my life. And, I think I just use my own personal experiences as an influence. As your music picks up in popularity, what are some struggles you’ve faced that you didn’t anticipate? There’s a lot of social media that gets more difficult as you get bigger, for sure. It just becomes something that can be stressful, something that can be kind the cause of a lot of insecurity because you’re being judged and criticized more the bigger you get. You also have more fans, but it’s -- as you get bigger, you get more fans and more pressure so it can be a difficult thing.
What are some of the ways you’ve worked around the pressure? I just try and look at it less. Try to not be on social media as much and try to not read the comments ever. Try to not, you know, take the bait. How has, if at all, coming from Nashville and later, New York City influenced your work? Do you feel coming from places with such intense music history has helped or hindered you? I think it’s definitely helped me. It helped me get into music at an early age. I feel like it’s kind of like -- when you’re somewhere and there’s not a lot of people playing music, you’re not really in the whole scene. It’s harder to get into it. You’ve been a musician your whole life, do you see your current sound as something you’ve always wanted to achieve, or more like a point on a continuum? It could maybe sound different in five years. I’m not really sure -- I know it’ll sound different but maybe it’ll be close or completely different. It just kind of depends on what I end up making. What’s your favorite release from the past year/what have you been listening to? The Kacey Musgraves album is definitely a favorite for me. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Fiona Apple and stuff, Slowdive. Your new 7” has a cover of “I’m on Fire” on it. What brought you to covering that song? It’s just a song I’ve loved for a long time. I was in college when I started covering it, and I’ve been covering it since then. I had never planned on recording it, but when the opportunity arose it seemed like an easy thing to do, so I did it!
SPILLED INK SPILLED INK SPILLED INK SPILLED INK
DYSPHORIA by Julian R.K.
whatâ€™s the word for when there are flowers blooming within you (petals bursting, settling in the pit of your stomach) but they canâ€™t escape; they can only rot inside your chest, wilting between your ribs?
UNTITLED by Mare Fanslow
I think my cats are telling secrets about me One keeps putting her lips to the others ear whenever she sees me The both start meowing loudly when I tune my guitar Like theyâ€™re stuck underwater or trapped in a bubblegum bubble At night when my pillow is wet from my newly washed hair or red hot tears Their fur starts to stick to the fabric And they try to curl around my neck We get up in the night and drink from the same cup covered in withered daisies When I stay away from home, in homes that arenâ€™t mine They knock over the same plant When I come back, they always say we planned your funeral And we painted our nails bright black
A BOY & HIS DOG by Regina Zehner
a recycling of emotions, his mother’s hands are too cold to bring warmth to her own children, it’s called holding the tongue, a sign of privilege, autotune this like 808s & heartbreak, sending heart emojis for valentine’s day, our bodies separated by light, a lone tree standing in the middle of a field as you drive by, the absence is in her pictures, i keep repeating myself when you’re not here, a frame of reference, gold teeth, i need to romanticize myself more, pink houses, empty windows, her laughter is pure sunshine and it fills the whole room, find out what kind of person you want to be in this Facebook quiz, why is the rain softer than the way you speak my name? did you hear me? where is God hiding? my new flex speaks blessings into existence, what if you took away the bodies? at night, the sea retraces the shore, find my message in the clouds, we’re all dancing to the sound of someone’s heartbreak, i think we’re distancing reality for instant validation, tonight, i had two boos but loved no one, we went this certain way and found nothing, there’s a meme for every situation, i’m not lying when i say i have been missing you, this is how i keep my head together, a house with all the lights on will echo his shadow, i’m laughing until it stops hurting, i’m laughing until i stop dying, to make us feel again, a new gospel, the lack of having, salvation, resurrection, braids and barrettes in the wind, bloody knees on the blacktop, here the sun doesn’t shine anymore, she’s still waiting for me, a boy burying his dog, a boy burying his mother, a boy digging to find himself, the homes we grew up in are on fire, the joke is the world has already ended and we are still living, i think i have lost everyone, and please: angry reacts to this poem only.
MY PROFESSOR OFTEN SHOWS UP WEARING ALL BLACK by Davon Clark
and by all black i mean, his shoes match his pants match his undershirt match his shirt match his jacket match his pupils. all of him brings all of us through the books with no one in class able to follow and he moves and shakes. he looks over For a promised land. We read a lot, here. We read into everything To hold him back from the death he dresses himself in, every day. we’ve seen him try to smile; most of the time it works but sometimes, he cracks and he melts into his clothes and the class becomes the funeral he’s been prepared for the whole time and sometimes, we talk about how he was born ready to die and lived to teach his own death, and that it’s only right he teaches how to do the same. the good of it all Is that he gives us a choice on whether to die to ourselves or to kill off ourselves and in this, we see his black tie affair of a lecture turns every syllable into a eulogy Or a swan song or whatever keeps him alive, this time.
PRAYER TO THE UNIVERSE AND YOU. by Trisha Murphy
lifting my feet up and hugging my knees while we drive over railroad like: fingers crossed behind back squeezing right hand 3 times kneeling, for Matthew, for Mark, for Luke, for John. like listening to the voicemail you left 3 months ago when there was still snow outside.
OUR FRIDGE DOOR (BUT IN THE SENSE THAT WE ARE REALLY KEEPING THINGS THERE) by Madeline Aldecoa
Would you have moved that way if you knew it was a trap? Probably, we still would have ended up here. Laying alone, Aching all over. Sometimes, combat looks like this. Sometimes, your house is empty, Your sister has left her wife And the cat gets a new routine. At least I can feel my toes now, At least we know we have bodies. That’s the problem, isn’t it? Your closeness, shared experience, Hurts. These instances are unavoidable, So intimate it is blazingly uncomfortable. Sometimes, The familiarness of it all Feels like a paper-cut, The nightstand is not close enough, The pillow bothers my eyes. At least I can feel my fingers now, At least we know we have bodies.
I WANT YOU WELL by Francesca Impastato
Ti voglio bene, Come una pesca profumata dal sole estivo Spezzata in bagno di vino rosso Come faceva tuo bisnonno E tua mamma ‘Ti voglio bene’ Holds stronger than ‘I love you’ To want someone well, Unharmed, nourished, protected To care.
I want you well, Like an unbruised summer peach Sliced in a red wine bath, as your great grandfather did and Your mother too
PROGRAM by Scout Kelly
There are twelve ways to be alone. I eat rocks and wait it out. I eat feathers off of the sidewalk. No shame in solitude. I’ve been nowhere forever and right now, it’s raining. The animals are quiet, myself included. I love the silence of contentment, the lack of movement. A hoof print here, A branch down, aging in the mud. The color of fog, my father’s plane delays, the traffic slows. I think of you like an echo, the possibility of a brake light, the smoke from the smoldering coals.
thank you thank you thank you thank you
for being here or being here for being here or being here
Featuring Quinta Brunson, Kristina Esfandiari (of Miserable and King Woman), Soccer Mommy, and more.