i s s u GROWTH
e 0 1
cover image by chris casas left image by angie anzai
A LETTER FROM FROOT Fresh to New York City, filled with possibility, Issue 01 was cultivated from the dichotomy of self-doubt and perseverance. We found ourselves saturated with overwhelming sensations of growth and reflection. From a noun to a series of stories that represent the variations of individual experiences that twenty-somethingâ€™s go through, we bring you Growth. This issue is a reflection of those who have allowed themselves to become submerged in perspective. At times, it feels that your twenties is an era of selfdeprecation, anxiety about oneâ€™s future and the idea of love, we are happy to present an issue that demonstrates that maintaining a mentality of empathy and openness is key to prosperity.
J + K
collage by chris casas words by vanessa gutierrez
Popcorn I’m at the couch and the yellow light kind of stains your face and the trailers are playing but I’m parked right here— where you ask sugar or salt and I say I don’t care so you come to me bowl in hand. I kiss those buttered lips and slide right down.
words by janaye mcgrew images by chris casas
I HAD TO LOG BACK INTO MY TUMBLR TO WRITE THIS. I’m 25 now and constantly comparing myself to the person I thought I would be—or more accurately, the version of that person that I remember. Today, I work in the marketing department at a fast-growing tech startup in Atlanta. I make enough money to do fun things, but not enough to not worry about how much I’m spending on fun things. When I started writing on Tumblr, I was 17. I was just finishing up twelve long years of overachieving. Being president of everything that I could and volunteering in all of the places that would have me so that I could receive the highest form of validation in my mind: an invitation to pay an Ivy League university hundreds of thousands of dollars to be its student. Back then, I believed that an Ivy League degree was the key to becoming what I thought 25-year-old me would be. 25-year-old me would be in the throes of law school, preparing for a career in international human rights activism. 25-year-old me would be in medical school studying to be a psychiatrist. 25-year-old me would be starting a company that distributed electricity throughout the most rural areas of South America. 25-year-old me would be impressive. I looked through the archives of my Tumblr to to see if I could find evidence of who I thought 25-year-old me would be. I couldn’t find anything. All I could find were the musings of a bored 17-year-old who wanted to feel smart. When a stranger asked why I chose to go to the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote "It’s the highest ranking school that I got into and it’s in a big city". I wasn’t excited about the people I’d meet at Penn, or the world class education I would be getting. I was just excited that a fancy institution that lots of people knew to be exclusive was impressed by me and let me into their club. it felt great for a moment, but the high of other people’s approval can only get you so far. My years at Penn led to my best work on Tumblr. I was posting incessantly and frankly, I was hilarious. I was also depressed. The thing about seeking out validation from institutions and people who you think are smarter than you is that you’ll never get enough of it. The quest for approval will make you study until you go blind, like it did my roommate, or it’ll lead you to stay in your dorm room for days writing things on the internet. Neither of which is ideal. After a couple years of depression and >>
nightmares about my accumulating student debt, I decided that an Ivy League degree was more trouble than it was worth and I transferred to a state school. Somewhere around that time is when I started trying to shed my desire to be impressive and I focused more on my desire to not hate my life. Oheynaye.tumblr.com, 2010:
"I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I think that I’m just passionate about being happy." After going through my Tumblr posts from 2010 to 2012, I realized that I didn’t have a clue what 25-year-old me would be. My teachers and my family and my friends had some ideas. An uncle thought that I’d be a great attorney. My dad knew that I was going to be a social entrepreneur. My classmates thought that I was going to be famous. All that I knew was that I wanted to be happy. At the time, my ability to look impressive to others was directly tied to my happiness and as I’ve grown up, I’ve let that go.
My coworkers are some of my favorite people and I feel valued by them often. I have a boyfriend who encourages me to do the things that I want to do more than the things that I feel like I have to do. I have interesting friends that value me, and I didn’t have to write an admissions essay for them to reach that conclusion. I have a dog that is literally perfect. 25-year-old me is pretty damn happy, and it’s because I’m doing the things that I actually want to do rather the things that someone else thinks is worth doing. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, but the habits of an overachiever die hard. Sometimes I’ll question every decision I’ve made in my life and sometimes I’ll compare myself to people who I’m impressed with. Sometimes I feel like my confusion and indecisions are drowning me, and that’s okay because that’s what being in your twenties is about. In those moments of weakness, I find myself questioning if I’m living up to 17-year-old me’s standards. And then I remember that 17-year-old me was kind of an idiot. Oheynaye.tumblr.com, 2010:
"Wikipedia is seriously the best idea ever. Who needs college when you’ve got the internet!!"
Derek Du Jour DEREK N G U YE N I S T HE S TYL I S T AND BLO GG E R BE H I ND DEREK D U J O U R . HER E HE TA L K S T HR O U G H HI S EXPERI E N CE S WITH G RO W TH .
words by derek nguyen images by jeremiah corley
10 years ago, never did the reserved, pensive, wannabe hoodlum Vietnamese kid, donning baby blue Phat Farms, imagine himself sashaying around the streets of New York City in a pair of heels and short shorts. Nor did he know how much happier he would be in this gender nonconforming form.
you haven’t caught on, that Vietnamese kid in the PhatFarms (often paired with a matching baby blue sweatsuit) was me. I’m placing a big emphasis on "was" as that is a fashion period I prefer to keep stowed away in the depths of my memory.
It wasn’t the most streamlined journey from then to now. My evolution from a suburban gangster poser to the current modern androgynous city-dweller was mentally and emotionally a complicated path that can’t necessarily be explained through words. But it’s a path I do not regret taking whatsoever, despite the adversity I’ve faced (and still face), towards being "different", caused by the outdated gender norms and labels of society. >>
When I first arrived in the Big Apple to study fashion design, I was exiting my Jpop/Kpop fandom days, which was considered "experimental" in my hometown. I was like Lady Gaga of the "Sham" in my skinny jeans and white loafers, so extraterrestrial. However, in New York City my Jpop/Kpop inspired looks were basic in comparison. It was so amazing and eye-opening to see how fearless, confident, stylish, and unique everyone was here. From my college classmates to everyday pedestrians. As I was exposed to the eccentricity of New Yorkers , it woke up this feminine creature inside me. A facet of me that had been laying dormant since I put it to rest at the end of my elementary school days, as I tried and was forced to "fit in" to be like the other boys during middle and high school.
I remember when I was younger, when this side of me was active, I always wanted to paint my nails pink, wear dresses, play with dolls, wear my short shorts—basically be a girl. I was always so jealous of the girls and all the things they had. When I entered college, it had been about 10 years since I had been in touch with that side of me, so to discover it again was a perplexing experience. I didn’t know how to process or work with it. Growing up, there weren’t really any prominent LGBTQ role models to look up to as there are now. It was just the typical CIS gender celebrities and mindsets. Being Trans, non-binary or gender fluid wasn’t really known back then. So this transformation process was something I really had to grow into on my own, without the guidance of similar queer beings. >>
As I settled in New York, I slowly started to experiment more with my style. Trying on items that I’ve always wanted to try but refrained from doing so because it was deemed "girls" apparel. My evolution started with reuniting with my childhood favorite, the short shorts. Then as the hemlines started to shorten, slowly the heels on my shoes started to grow inch by inch. Throughout all this, there was a constant push and pull in my mind. Causing hesitation with questions like, "does this look or feel right," "is this too girly," "too feminine," "is this heel too high," "should I be wearing this," "will my friends think I’m weird," "is this really me?" However, as years passed by, each thought slowly dissipated one by one. The more I experimented, the more I let go, the more I got to discover my non-binary self, which made me happy. The true me started to shine out of my op-
pressed shell and that’s all that mattered. Those previous thoughts became irrelevant and only held me down. This took years for me to conquer and to grow into. But now that I’ve let go and embraced this real me, I feel nothing but freedom and happiness. Fashion for many is trivial, but for me it helped to discover a life I didn’t know existed. It essentially gave me purpose and gave me a positive outlook on life in this currently brown mushy world. Life triggers or means will vary from person to person and happens at different stages in life and that’s all ok. It’s not something that can be forced but it also won’t happen if risks aren’t taken. I learned so much about myself through fashion and am still continuing to do so as new and constructive thoughts enter my mind. >>
Many people say that we can’t change, but I highly disagree because this transformation opened my mind and created new horizons for me to see. I think people are scared of change and the uncertain path that it may hold. They’re comfortable where they are now, despite the endless "what if’s" circulating within their minds. Which is unfortunate as they’re only hindering themselves to live life to it’s full potential. They miss out on the beauty of growth we go through as humans. Thanks to this journey, there is a new found confidence in myself and I won’t let anyone tell me what I can and can’t be, because this is me.
follow @derekdujour on instagram for updates to his blog derek du jour.
A Word w i t h DVWEZ.
image by liv jonsé
DV WEZ (pronounced ‘dames" ) IS A FLORIDABORN ELEC TRONIC R&B AR TIST TAKING MUSIC TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL . BY VISUALLY TR ANSFORM ING HER LYRICS INTO BOTH AN AESTHE TICALLY AND PHONE TICALLY ELEVATED EXPERIENCE , THE VIEWER BECOMES ENCAPSUL ATED IN HER SOUND. HER NEW EP, PAR ADISE , IS CURRENTLY IN THE WORKS AND IS SE T TO BE RELEASED SOON .
FROOT: You’ve been making music for more than half of your life, but DVWEZ started just about a year and a half ago. What has the journey for DVWEZ been like since the summer of 2015? DVWEZ: Since the summer of 2015, my journey has been very humbling and surprising. After completing a few rough drafts of songs from PASTELS, I knew I was ready to take them to the next level. That started my journey of working together with my friend Chandler, to finish vocals and tweak certain sounds. (Working with chandler was really awesome because he had a lot of experience from his other projects DROMES and Saskatchewan) After finalizing the songs, I put all of my energy into the release. In February of 2016, PASTELS was released through Stereogum, landing my track "Celebrity" on one of Spotify’s Fresh Find’s playlist. That was truly an incredible experience. Since then, I’ve collaborated with other artists like Valleyz, Olukara and most recently KAIXEN for my new project, Paradise. Paradise has a darker feel, whereas PASTELS was airy and super lovey. I absolutely cannot wait to release it. FROOT: How do you deal with the feelings of isolation that come with being a creative person? DVWEZ: Sometimes when I feel isolated or like the people closest to me don’t
understand me or my creative process, I want to "rebel." I do that through my music. You can definitely hear that on Paradise. I’m actually a very loyal, trustworthy person, but in my music, I don’t always have to be. It’s kind of a comforting feeling. It’s like I kind of have an alter ego if you will. FROOT: You say that Paradise, your new four track EP, addresses two different forms of success. What does success mean to you specifically for creating art as DVWEZ? DVWEZ: Success for me would mean quitting my day job and being able to live off of my work as DVWEZ. Traveling and playing impactful shows, while creating memories along the way. I think it’s beautiful when artists are recognized for their work and can actually thrive as a result. That would be "making it" for me. FROOT: What can you tell us about your vision for the Paradise visual experience? DVWEZ: My plan for the Paradise live show is to work with my friend VJ Catalyst to create a visually stunning show. I think KAIXEN did an amazing job at producing these tracks and creating a certain cohesive feeling throughout. It’s my goal to mirror that feeling in a visual form to elevate the live experience. We’ll be using projection mapping, lights and sculptural elements to do this. I really can’t say enough how excited I am about it.
froot finds LISTENING -
Sampha, Timmyâ€™s Prayer; ABRA, PULL UP; The xx, I Dare You; Tei Shi, Keep Running; Mac Demarco, My Old Man; Noname, Forever; Sex Stains, Land of La LA; Cakes Da Killa, New Phone (Who Dis); Lizzo, Coconut Oil
@cakeboymag @outdoorvoic es @soyoung magazine @the.wing @ slowandsteady winstherace @afropunk @boyclub @ letstalkabout mentalhealth
image by chris casas
WAT C H I N G -
Black Mirror, Insecure, Shameless, 13th, What Happened Miss Simone
Chelsea Girls, Eileen Myles; Middle Sex, Jeffrey Eugenides; Drown, Junot Diaz; The Secret History, Donna Tartt; Just Kids, Patti Smith; Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin; You Can’t Touch My Hair, Phoebe Robinson; Lenny Letter
F I N D U S O N I N S TA G R A M -
@frootmagazine ALL THE THANKS TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS -
@derekdujour @janayemc @christiancasas_ @michaelsoftbinbows @vzanza @dvwez
LOOK OUT FOR ISSUE 02 - LOVE EMAIL FOR SUBMISSIONS: FROOTMAGAZINE@GMAIL.COM