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GËM

Issue 02

MORE THAN A MUSIC MAGAZINE

INGRID ANDRESS

NOTHING BUT THIEVES

FRANCISCO MARTIN

The rising country artist on discovering her own voice

On finding themselves in a world that is slowly falling apart

The young musician on success during a time of global distress



CONTENTS

welcome

NEWS

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NOTHING BUT THIEVES

6

MUSIC REVIEWS

12

LIVE REVIEWS

14

FRANCISCO MARTIN

16

INGRID ANDRESS

18

LET’S GET CULTURAL

22

EARTHRISE STUDIO

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incredible musicians featured in this very special second issue of GEM.

HIDDEN GEMS

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For once, there are the phenomenal rockers of indie-group Nothing

FINAL THOUGHTS

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FUN STUFF

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Covid, oh, Covid, when will you finally leave us? It’s been too long. Too long without getting to scream our lungs out, too long without being pressed into other people in the front row, too long without gigs. It might be the recent news of a vaccine or the overall feeling of optimism everyone is longing for right now, but if there is one thing the music industry has proven now that this insane year is reaching its end - it won’t go down without a fight. And neither will we and the

But Thieves, who are using their latest hit record ‘Moral Panic’ to talk about climate change, the dangers of social media, and, yes, he’s still here, their great dislike for Donald Trump. On the other side,

SOCIAL MEDIA

we have Ingrid Andress, the brightest star in the country music scene right now, who doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind on feminism. Then there is Francisco Martin, the youngster most known from the latest season of American Idol, who has found peace in sharing his own mental health story with the world. And lastly, we celebrate Earthrise Studio, a new company using its voice to spread awareness of the current fight against climate change.

facebook.com/readgemmagazine twitter.com/readgemmagazine instagram.com/gemmusicmag readgemmagazine@gmail.com

Day after day, all these remarkable individuals prove that there are always reasons to fight and that they won’t be stopping anytime soon. This is why we dedicate this issue of GEM to the fighters and those who try to make the world a better place every day, one step at a time. This issue is for you. And you, our fantastic readers. I hope you enjoy this issue. Here’s to a better future, with more gigs.

Laura Weingrill founder and editor-in-chief

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Team: Laura Weingrill, founder & editor-in-chief Lauren Dehollogne, co-founder & co-editor Ine Vanvuchelen, news editor / online reviews editor Vanessa Valentine, opinion piece editor Benedetta Borgese, social media editor

Illustrations by Icons8.com


NEWS

All that is new in the fantastical world of music and art. 4


30 ‘RED LIGHT’ VENUES BECOME FOCUS OF NEW MUSIC VENUE TRUST CAMPAIGN Music charity organisation Music Venue Trust (MVT) is entering a new phase of the #saveourvenues campaign that has been supporting UK grassroots venues in danger of closure due to the pandemic. Their new ‘Traffic Light’ campaign highlights venues based on how safe they are from closing down. 30 venues have been marked red, while six among those are based in London. MVT urges for action, “choose a venue, get donating, get writing, get calling, get organised”.

Photo by SAVE OUR VENUES Written by Ine Vanvuchelen

DEMOCRAT JOE BIDEN WINS U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION From 20 January onwards, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take office as President and Vice-President of the United States respectively. What had been a nerve-wrecking week for many Americans, ended with a victory of the Democrats. Current U.S. President Donald Trump has not accepted the defeat yet and is convinced that fraud was committed. The Bidden-Harris administration already announced they’ll assemble a coronavirus taskforce and reenter the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra Written by Ine Vanvuchelen

GLOBAL MUSIC EVENT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE A group of artists and activists have announced Climate Live, a worldwide music event that will take place in 2021 to fight for climate justice. On 24 April and 16 October there will be youth-led global climate gigs in over 40 countries on both large and small scale. With Climate Live, they aim to engage, educate, and empower people all over the world. Sam Fender, Glass Animals and Declan McKenna have already been announced to take the stage. Photo by Climate Live Written by Ine Vanvuchelen 5



THE WORLD‘S MIRROR When was the last time you really looked at yourself and thought about your life? Asked yourself if you are who you truly want to be? Questioned the world you’re living in? For Essex-based fivepiece Nothing But Thieves, finding answers to those very same questions has been what has been driving them from day to day the past couple of years and months, like a dark, insightful mission. It doesn’t come to anyone’s surprise then that their latest release ‘Moral Panic’ is the epitome of just that. It’s an album about the dread in the world, the question marks we all share. It’s about them and us. And about finally finding the light at the end of the tunnel. “This record is like a mirror for people. It’s about asking questions like “are you comfortable with this?” and “do you want to live this way?”. We were feeling quite disturbed and hardened by what was going on, what we were witnessing and seeing. It’s an album for people and about people and about us and how we reflect and react to everything. Which a lot of the time is anger. But there’s also sadness, resignation, and a kind of melancholy to it. Where you go, this is it, this feels like the end,”, sighs Conor Mason, frontman and guitarist of the enthralling quintet, hinting at the recent tumultuous disasters that have ripped and torn at the fabric of society unlike anything before. Be it racial injustice, the climate crisis, the endangerment of democracy in our polarised world, or the pandemic that has put the planet on hold in a global blackout – it’s the sheer endless amount of catastrophes that have, according to Mason, brought us to a final point of no return: “When we recorded ‘Moral Panic’ a year ago, everything felt horrid and tense, but maybe more confusing than anything else. Back then the kettle had been just turned on, and now this record fits so well because the themes we are talking about are still going on, have still not been resolved. They have boiled to a point of explosion and there is this sort of spiritual and moral awakening that needs to happen. That is what the album is all about.” Listening to their third record, you would think it was written one day before lockdown and not a day earlier, with their first single ‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’ being the perfect embodiment of a time filled with uncertainty, destruction, and people looting supermarkets just to get their hands on the last roll of toilet paper. A strange mark in society’s history, which made the idea of releasing a dystopian track that could not fit it any better even more alien for the Southend-On-Sea-based rockers. “When we first released new music, I didn’t want to. I felt like we were profiting of this miserable time, while people were actually dying,”, Mason explains with a thoughtful look. “People were panic-buying pasta and loo-roll and I remember thinking “why are we doing this?”. I felt genuinely upset and foggy about it.” Still, the group decided to go with the release, and what at first felt like a choice of discomfort, almost like an exploitation of people’s distress, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for both the band and its fans, the song now boasting over 17 million streams on Spotify and having been crowned the ultimate lockdown anthem. But that was just the beginning. Now, over half a year later, the world has once again gone into lockdown, real gigs are still fairy tales one needs to dream about to come close to, and hugging your friends feels like something someone once made up and wrote in a book for fun. Nothing much has changed. Except for Nothing But Thieves, who have come out at the better end, flying high on the release of their album that took the charts by storm, and glancing back at the last couple of months with more of an optimistic smile than a disappointed frown. But that is what makes

Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Jack Bridgland


“When we first released new music, I didn’t want to. I felt like we were profiting of this miserable time, while people were actually dying.”

this band and their music shine brighter than any other – they are individuals that look at the world through the lenses of their records that are forever intertwined with what is happening around them and with their own experiences as musicians and as people. So while others fell deep into the dreadful hole that the lockdown posed as, singer Mason used the silent alone time to reconnect with music, his band, and himself. “I think sometimes silence makes the best creations. People just needed to stop running and look at their cracks and absolve them. It’s been really good to focus in and be present,”, the young frontman utters. “Obviously, it’s been awful on so many other levels, in terms of actual life situational problems, but in terms of your emotional life, it’s been really good for a lot of people. It was the first time I got off the hamster wheel and had time to listen to myself and make changes that I really cared about. I’m the first person to hold my hands up and go “I don’t like this about myself and want to change”, and I’m really, really, really hard on myself. To a point where it’s noticeable with other people and I didn’t realise that for a while until recently. It gave me the time to re-love myself.” It’s this relentless urge, this strong desire to constantly better themselves and to become the best band they can possibly be that has moved this talented bunch of 20-and-30-something-year-olds to the highest ranks of today’s alt-rock heaven. Ultimately, it’s what gives their music its special glow, its aura of endlessness, like their stories will still be timely and prominent even when Covid is long gaining dust in our history books. With ‘Moral Panic’ serving as the creative peak of the rock wonder’s musical career, it’s no surprise that it feels different, unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Like a surprise laid bare in front of the world’s eyes. “When we recorded the album, I for the first time completely and

utterly let out what I was dealing with and what I knew was about to come. Listening back to it, it’s like listening to someone else’s band, like listening to another singer,”, Mason observes. “I have this stupid problem of keeping everything bottled up even though I’m a really emotional person. I’m the first to listen to someone, but not the first to tell someone. I knew I was in a world of shit when I went to record, and I thought, well, let’s just work with this. I was basically going into freak-mode and used it as my therapy. People who have sport, they run and they feel better. I sing and I feel better.” It’s clear that being open, honest, and at the same time daring has always been one of the most poignant characteristics of Nothing But Thieves, with their seemingly roughest track yet, the sensational ‘Can You Afford To Be An Individual?’ putting the metaphorical courage-cherry on top. With Mason’s hypnotic voice roaring “Are you a walking contradiction in a MAGA-hat” and “So

who are you to tell us where we do and don’t belong / And who are you to tell us who to love and who to not / Because your mother told you, you would win when you were young”, a lot of bands would’ve probably been cautious about releasing a song that politically charged, one that has such a direct message. But NBT wouldn’t be NBT if they didn’t take the leap. “This is the whole point of being in a band – it’s not caring. We’ve never cared before, so let’s speak out on something that we feel really strongly about – online tribalism, denialism from certain members of the U.S. parties – and be angry about it and put it in a song. It’s one of my favourite tracks we’ve ever done, by far,”, Mason proclaims with a proud smile on his face. And many fans would agree, the song being praised as one the band’s best pieces of music to see the light of day ever since its release. As with many things, that kind of freedom didn’t come by itself and is a monument of the long way the band has already come. It’s a sign that the group has finally found a place of ease, where they feel like they can just be themselves and don’t have to adhere to society’s rules or the guidelines of today’s music industry, which is again underlined by lead-star Mason introducing them as a musical project. “Because we are so genre-fluid, calling yourself a project is a great way of not pigeonholing yourself, not boxing yourself. To see it as just about the music, it can

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“This is the whole point of being in a band – it’s not caring. We’ve never cared before, so let’s speak out on something that we feel really strongly about.”


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“I think the best thing you learn in life is that if you can sit comfortably in peace alone without anything, without having to watch the TV or having to go to the pub or having to be around someone else, if you can just be completely at peace with who you are and what you have, then you’re winning at life.” 10


keep on being this shape-shifting, ever-growing, ever-evolving thing,”, Mason states, illuminating the process behind ‘Moral Panic’s creation with his bandmates, the guitarists Joe LangridgeBrown and Dominic Craik, the latter also taking on the spot as the record’s co-producer next to the legendary Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, The 1975). “Dom musically is the forefront of the band, he’s the fingers on the post. But if we let one of us do it all solely, it wouldn’t work. If it was just me, it would be all emotion and soul. And if it was Dom, it would be clever and intricate. And Joe is really classic. The three of us are completely different people with different personalities and emotions. And that pushing forward from those three different places creates this unique music, this melting pot of us.” Despite the group’s successful history and resulting en masse of confidence, there are still milestones to reach and goals to achieve. The kind of events that you never forget, no matter how famous or popular you are. In the case of Nothing But Thieves, one of those defining moments came in the form of a recent live performance of their heart-wrenching ballad ‘Impossible’ at the monumental Abbey Road Studios together with a 50-person orchestra. A place frontman Mason purposely had never visited and held sacred until then, always waiting for their own invitation to come around. “That recording was a dream, a bit of a daze, really. You’re in this place with all of this history that is literally in the oils of the 100-year-old furniture you’re sitting on. It’s like “who the fuck sat on this before me?”. It’s unbelievable,”, the singer remembers, quickly turning onto a new page, his next milestone – their headline show at the famous O2 Arena in London, scheduled for October next year. “I don’t know what I’ll be for that show, I’ll be a huge ball of emotions. I was thinking about it the other day and just thought, Jesus Christ, I’ll probably be crying my eyes out. Because it is the childhood dream for me. For most bands it’s Wembley, but being from Essex, it’s always been the O2. It’s where I saw my first concerts and I remember being there when I was really young and going “mum, I can do this, I can do it better than that”. I really believed in myself and I still do. So to play the O2 will be the end of that childhood dream. I’m going to have to go and get myself a new one after that.”

“I think sometimes silence makes the best creations. // People who have sport, they run and they feel better. I sing and I feel better.”

And what would that new dream be? “I guess it would be to be able to do all these amazing shows and to keep it alive and together while also having a family. Because in the end, the only thing that matters is the connections you make, whether it’s with yourself or other people or love and loved ones. But people forget that. All of their stupid lives and their distractions will get on top of it like dirty laundry. So my message to people would be – you have a real connectedness with someone, whether it’s with your friend or a loved one or a partner or a pet or family, so don’t let the commotions of your life get in the way of that, because that’s the only thing that actually has any substance. Everything that you can see in front of you will physically fade away, whereas the connections you make can’t unless you make them do so. Anything materialistic, financials, it doesn’t matter,”, Mason explains, while also coming back to the importance of self-love – a topic the artist has spent a lot of time thinking about during lockdown, inspired by stoicism, a philosophy that revolves around minimising the negative emotions in your life and maximising one’s gratitude and joy. “I think the best thing you learn in life is that if you can sit comfortably in peace alone without anything, without having to watch the TV or having to go to the pub or having to be around someone else, if you can just be completely at peace with who you are and what you have, then you’re winning at life. That’s really the meaning of life, it’s having that self-peace and connectedness with yourself and then hopefully connecting with other people.” It’s a level of wisdom and profoundness that you usually wouldn’t expect to come from a 27-yearold guy, sitting there in a baggy jumper and playing around with a tin of Vaseline. But that is exactly why the talented Brits have been able to break through the walls and endless amounts of bands out there – it’s their sense of self-awareness, relatability, and utter originality that cannot be imitated. It has to come from the heart. And if there is one thing this group has, it’s that. In a world that couldn’t possibly be any darker than it is right now, they have managed to create an expressive little work of art that serves as a monument for the time it was birthed into. And while this might feel like the end, Nothing But Thieves know it’s not. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, you just need to break through the fog to see it. 11


ALBUM REVIEWS

Edith Whiskers (Tom Rosenthal) Stop Stealing The Covers

What do you do when one of your songs becomes viral on TikTok overnight and suddenly everyone knows your name? In the case of London-based singer-songwriter Tom Rosenthal you go and create an alter-ego pseudonym named Edith Whiskers and release an album full of magical covers of songs that the whole world knows and loves. Still glistening with Rosenthal’s signature dreamy, soft vocals that are best enjoyed during a starry late night drive, the record boasts ten fantastic cover versions of hit songs like ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, ‘I’ll Be There For You’ by The Rembrandts, which most of us know as the theme song of tv favourite ‘Friends’, and even ‘Bootylicious’ by Destiny’s Child. Looking at the titles, you’d expect the album to be filled with different genres, but thanks to Rosenthal’s unique sound, the record is a feel-good trip to the clouds from start to finish. It might have been released under a different name, but it’s still Tom Rosenthal as we all know and love him.

Label: Tinpot Records

BTS BE

by Laura Weingrill

South Korean boyband BTS have returned with ‘BE’, what they have claimed to be their most BTS-esque and healing album yet. And the album truly succeeds in providing an intimate glimpse into pandemic life for the seven members, with their striking lyricism reflecting on their feelings of frustration and anger at the stolen year, mental health struggles with anxiety and burnout, as well as the crippling disease of overthinking amongst other topics. But somehow the boys seem to come out stronger on the other side with the songs becoming progressively more determined to overcome these hardships as the record progresses, closing off with their uplifting disco-pop hit single ‘Dynamite’. The genre-spanning nature of the 8-track album is a BTS trademark by now, ranging from old school hip-hop banger ‘Dis-ease’ to the heart-wrenching guitar ballad ‘Blue & Grey’ and emotional future house track ‘Stay’. All in all, the album feels like the comforting assurance the boys intended: not only are we not alone in our unease but despite the distance, we are united, and despite all uncertainty, ‘Life Goes On’.

by Jana Fröhlich

Label: BigHit Entertainment

Combine the most interesting rap act coming out of the last few years with retro rap beats and a crispy flow and it results in one of the best albums 2020 has to offer. In ‘Good News’, Megan Thee Stallion’s debut album, she tries to spread positivity in a year that has been so bleak that it needed a pick-me-up. However, this doesn’t mean that she shies away from important topics. In ‘Shots Fired’ she alludes to the Tory Lanez shooting incident with “I know you want the clout, so I ain’t sayin’ y’all names”, whilst also calling for justice for Breonna Taylor “Now here we are, 2020, eight months later and we still ain’t got no fuckin’ justice for Breonna Taylor”. The duality of the Houston native is best presented in ‘Sugar Baby’. Throughout the song, she claims her own sexuality and the power she has all the while poking fun at all the potential relationships she might have and how they can be with her. The 17 songs provide 50 minutes of sunshine and pleasure. Megan Thee Stallion has excelled what she set out to do, not only to make her fans happy but to create such a well-deserved hype that no one in the world can ever deny her talent anymore.

Megan Thee Stallion Good News

by Lauren Dehollogne

Label: 1501 Certified Ent. LLC / 300 Entertainment 12


M U S I C

MARINA - MAN’S WORLD Label: Atlantic Records / Neon Gold Marina Diamandis’ latest serene single ‘Man’s World’ sees the talented singersongwriter taking a socio-political, feministic stand while also shining a light on the current climate crisis. Written solely by Diamandis and brought to life by an all-female creative team, the glistening pop anthem has Marina advancing her sound further, while still staying true to the ethereal softness that once coined her as one of the most innovative acts today. LW

THE JUNGLE GIANTS - IN HER EYES Label: Amplifire Music Australian alt-pop-project The Jungle Giants are continuing their jump from hit to hit with the release of their latest single ‘In Her Eyes’, right off the back of their ARIA Song of the Year nomination for platinum-selling song ‘Heavy Hearted’. Highlighted by off-centre, 90’s inspired beats and a groovy bass line, the uplifting track serves as an anthem on self-love, complete with an accompanying tongue-in-cheek video that hints at the idea of self-obsession. LW

SHAWN MENDES & JUSTIN BIEBER - MONSTER Label: Island Records Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber got together for their first collab, to battle their inner ‘monsters’. ‘Monster’ hits close to home for the Canadian popstars, as they sing about their personal experiences with the highs and lows of fame and their need for self-love. The raw and honest lyrics combined with the catchy midtempo pop melody and their vulnerable falsettos make for a perfect recipe. LJ

BALTHAZAR - LOSERS Label: Munich Records Balthazar continue their trademark of making songs you just have to dance to. The Belgian indie-rock band sheds light on the struggles of the ongoing crisis in the music industry, with the lyrics: “How much it feels like, we are losing for the moment.” With funky baselines, fun synths, percussions, and sultry voices they’re not losing at all. ‘Losers’ is the ultimate feel-good bop.

N E W

LJ

BILLIE EILISH - THEREFORE I AM Label: Darkroom /Interscope Records Once again Billie Eilish proves that she excels in the perfect crossover between alternative sultry vocals and rhythmic pop. With her latest single ‘Therefore I Am’ the listener gets transported in a world created by Eilish. Alongside the catchy chorus, she reiterates her own uniqueness whilst not falling prey to the conformity of everyday life. After all, she is the larger than life yet oddly relatable Billie Eilish. LD

BAD NERVES - CAN’T BE MINE Label: Suburban Records / Killing Moon Records Scrappy, bold and bristling, East London-based band Bad Nerves deliver another indie-punk punch with their track ‘Can’t Be Mine’, off of their recently released self-titled debut album. A song that is all torn denim, ripped up leather and screaming about a love that is impossible, the just over two minute long is a striking punk nugget packed with energy and addictive hooks. LW 13


LIVE MUSIC -- REVIEWS Y un g b lu d , Ba b y Q u ee n an d R oyal & T h e Serpen t Li ve

With the pandemic still looming over us, online gigs are the only ones we can ‘go’ to. Luckily, we got to see Baby Queen, Royal & the Serpent & Yungblud play in the comfort of our own homes.

something became very apparent, the general consensus took a liking to her music and her unique vocal sound. Stand out songs include ‘Warn You’ and ‘Overwhelmed’.

The show starts with up-and-coming pop sensation Baby Queen, who released her debut EP ‘Medicine’ only a few days before the start of the virtual tour. The show is set in a pink dreamy Instagrammable location, which would remind some of Avril Lavigne’s pink punk world. Although the décor screams teenage pop, her songs aren’t so much. She sings about depression, body image and how everyone pretends to be someone else on the internet. With lyrics like “If I met the girl that I was online, I’d even date myself” on ‘Internet Religion’. It feels like a good way to start the show, full of energy and ready to have a great night.

After two amazing opening acts, it is time for Yungblud to start his show. He comes running to the stage in what is now known as his energy-filled characteristics. The songs he plays are a mixture of tracks from the new album and familiar ones we already know by heart. Before starting he says “I hope you like the album, I’m proper nervous.” While we know Yungblud has some absolute bangers where you can’t do anything else than dance, there were two tracks which felt extremely emotional one of them was a song called ‘Mars’, he added to that by saying how much this song meant to him, how he missed the fans and “can’t fucking wait to see everyone in real life again”. Of course, he didn’t leave out the absolute hits like ‘Cotton Candy’ and ‘Strawberry Lipstick’. In the end, we nearly forget that this was a live show as this is as good as it gets. Although we can’t wait to catch Yungblud on his 2021 ‘Life on Mars’ tour, where we can actually dance to all his new hits. by Megan Hofman

Next up is Royal & the Serpent, while Baby Queen’s set looked very modern, teenage-like, this one almost feels like a completely different show with its retro, old school setting. As this livestream experience unlike others allows the online audience to chat among themselves


Photo credit: Jack Bridgland

Nothing But Thieves Live At The Warehouse

“Hello and welcome to the Nothing But Thieves live stream bonanza,”, frontman Conor Mason smiles into the camera, marking the indie five-piece as the latest group to hop on the live stream train, where virtual gigs have become the new concerts, the new normal. Just a few days after the release of their latest hit record ‘Moral Panic’, the shows feel like a well-deserved break from the dreary and dark place the world has become. With an effortless mix of both old and new songs, each set is packed with dazzling surprises, be it in the form of stunning visuals, quiet acoustic performances on the “intimate” part of the

stage setup, or magnificent covers of the bands’ favourite songs. Standing in a circle and facing each other rather than the non-existed crowd, Nothing But Thieves never fail to hold the energy at its highest high, with frontman Mason’s raw, hypnotic voice leading through each set, while being perfectly accompanied by the faultless instrumentals from his bandmates. And while older hits like ‘Amsterdam’, ‘Itch’ and ‘Sorry’ remind us why NBT are considered one of the most striking bands out there right now, it’s the newer tracks like ‘Free If We Want It’, ‘Impossible’ and ‘This Feels Like The End’ that make us step out of reality for a few minutes and lose ourselves in the music. by Laura Weingrill

“Dear patience, can we share a drink and let go of the pressure?”, the lyrics to ‘Dear Patience’ are the opening lines to Niall Horan’s virtual gig, live-streamed from the Royal Albert Hall in London. There is a very intimate feeling that comes along with Horan being on stage all by himself. As the next song is approaching, his band joins him, creating an a concert-like ambiance. Different filming angles, close-ups and camera circulations around Horan and his band bring life into the screen performance, so does Horan’s choice of songs – an alternation between ballads and bops from both of his albums (‘Flicker’ and ‘Heartbreak Weather’). The highlight of the gig is Horan’s surprise guest Ashe, who he brings on stage to sing their collaboration single ‘Moral of the Story’ together, for the first time

Niall Horan Live At The Royal Albert Hall

live. Before finishing the show, Horan expresses his thankfulness for the people who bought tickets (from 152 countries all over the world), his band and his touring crew. Finally, he plays ‘Flicker’ — the lyrics “a flicker of hope” could also be interpreted to emphasise the current and safer days and to experience the feeling of togetherness in real life again as soon as possible.

by Victoria Madzak

Photo credit: Conor McDonnell

situation we are in, looking forward to healthier


Written by Lauren Dehollogne

Francisco Martin

A rise to stardom - A Q&A with Francisco Martin

What do Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson all have in common? They participated in various seasons of American Idol. Young singer-songwriter Francisco Martin has gone down the same path and is now creating his own journey to musical success. The 19-year-old from San Francisco quickly moved to Nevada after the show to record as many demos as possible and has released his first original single ‘Swollen’ in October. As this year has proven to be a whirlwind of events, Martin has been able to navigate his place in the music industry through virtual writing sessions and an abundance of Zoom meetings, hoping to one day meet with industry professionals in real life. American Idol’s live shows coincided with the start of lockdown in the US. How did you experience this? It is funny. We were only in LA for about a week and a half when they called us all into a meeting and said “You guys have to go back tomorrow it is not safe. We have to quarantine at home but we might be back in April,”, and that never happened. Once we got home, a whole new way of filming was

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introduced. We had to do all the production work and sing at the same time and we had to literally stay up every single night to upload videos. It was fun but it also became very tiresome. You jump from being a contestant on the show. Just singing, picking your songs, hanging out with friends to basically doing your whole entire production. We still got help from all the producers, but it was definitely a big change for all of us. Overall it was an amazing experience. Did you ever feel as if the pressure was higher because of lockdown and that “normal society” stopped? In the beginning, I was very overwhelmed, and I am still overwhelmed. It is like a rollercoaster to me because when lockdown just started, I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. Once it started sinking in and the show was over, I was really scared about what was going to happen. Keeping up the social media presence was hard for me because I do really want to keep in touch with my supporters but I have never really been a big fan of the platforms and the effects it has on me. I have always loved to create and to sing, so that has never been a problem for me, but of course with the whole entire lockdown, not being able to see people, not being able to produce with other people in the room, it takes away from the experience and it is hard so I try to balance it all out. It is crazy. I am just starting as an artist now. The way I have been introduced to the music world has been very unique. I got introduced to an industry that was trying to adapt to life with Covid and a global lockdown. It is also an extremely stressful time, politically and at times I don’t know how to react to that. How do you as an artist and a person differ and intertwine? In the first stages of my career, I really wanted to create a persona so that there would be a barrier in order to have my artistry come first. Yet I have always wanted to be very honest with my supporters and in my music too. I am a very anxious person, and I have never wanted that to be confused with the artist in me. I also tend to write very sad songs because that is what I love to do, but I don’t want that to be mistaken as me being a sad person. I’ll take accounts of me, but I blow them out of proportion. I don’t get my heart broken every day, and I am definitely not sad every day. Right now, it is hard to differentiate me as a person and me as an artist because I feel like I spilt most of my artistry into myself and now I am feeling more. And I can’t seem to figure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Do you think different cities have a different influence on your music? Yes definitely, when I am in Nevada I feel saver in a sense because I am just by myself, in my own little world. When I am in LA, there are just so many things. I don’t think it affects my music but it affects my mindset a little bit. These different places (San Francisco, Nevada and Los Angel) have an impact on how I am feeling and my actions but it doesn’t necessarily change the way I make music because I have a clear direction of what I want to write and who I want to be as an artist. No matter where I am at, I know what I want my music to sound like and that never really changes. How did the idea for ‘Swollen’ start? ‘Swollen’ was one of the songs that I had written whilst on the show. The idea came after an encounter with a girl. I had started to fall in love with the idea of her. We only spent one day together, and the underlying basis was clearly friendship yet the idea of love crept up on me when we were getting to know one another on a personal level.

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Ingrid Andress The ongoing world domination of rising country star Ingrid Andress during a time of global distress.

“IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF FINDING THE VOICE THAT I WANTED TO HAVE.” 18


“DO ANY OF US HAVE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?” “It was only a matter of finally finding the voice that I wanted to have.”

Flashback to March 2020, when most of the world was trying to adapt to life in lockdown, checking the news ferociously

This voice promised to be a new wave in country music. With her titular song ‘Lady Like’ Andress didn’t just conform to the idea of what a woman should be but rather enforces the thought that she can be whoever she wants to be. The track mentions “haven’t brushed my hair in days”, “controversial, so outspoken”, “I don’t even own a dress” and reinforces the feministic momentum Nashville is going through at the moment with Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Good Ol’ Boys Club’ and Little Big Town’s ‘Daughters’. ‘Lady Like’ had been a work in progress, a tale made up of instances throughout her life until the time she finally got fed up and a creative boost followed. The line “Sometimes I forget not to talk ‘bout politics when I’m in the middle of me getting hit on”, was inspired by a time when she was in a bar hitting it off with a guy, thinking that she was “killing it” whilst expressing her political beliefs but soon realised that he was anything but interested when he said that he didn‘t really keep up with politics nor that he cared about it.

or maybe even stress-baking, for rising country artist Ingrid Andress this time coincided with the release of her highly anticipated debut album ‘Lady Like’. The 29-year-old was supposed to go on different tours with country-pop duo Dan+Shay, Thomas Rett and country legend Tim McGraw but instead was stuck at home with her variety of plants. For a while, Andress speaks out that it felt as if nothing was happening and that it only started to pick up as a life-changing moment when she started seeing stories from fans. How these songs related to their personal lives and suddenly it wasn’t just “celebrating alone with champagne” anymore but an experience that can only be captivated as a real altering point in someone’s life.

Although a concept not often talked about in the country music spheres, politics and feminism are at the forefront of her mind. “I know that there will always be people that write about trucks and beer but you know it takes all types of types to tell a story,”, Andress mentions before going on to say that she thinks that country is going to need to follow and talk about politics considering everything that is happening to the world, patiently hoping that the genre will rise to the occasion. Unlike many artists Ingrid Andress can’t hide between a façade of being a star through her unique honesty and inability to be anything else than herself, if she could however she would love to be a bit more like Beyoncé.

In 2019 the Colorado native shocked her new home Nashville with ‘More Hearts Than Mine’ and they dubbed her into the hottest newcomer. Andress, however, wasn’t new to the scene of writing hit songs. Charli XCX’s ‘Boys’ was cowritten by Ingrid Andress and she even performed a softer, more nostalgic rendition of it on her deluxe version of ‘Lady Like’. Andress describes the transition between being a songwriter and an artist as a natural progression. That the process was set in action when she realised that she didn’t want to give a song away. “It is my story and no one else can have it,”, is a feeling that kept creeping up and she quickly realised that you can’t be a songwriter for other people and not give songs away. This seemed to be the most natural choice as Andress also loves to perform and remembers,

One of the instances where her extreme honesty brought an excellent understanding of not just her but also the experience of mature love and everything that comes along with it, is her breakout 19


single ‘More Hearts Than Mine’. The track entails the story about whether to bring home a new partner for the holidays and introduce them to the most fragile part of your life or take a step back and see if they belong in the family dynamic. It’s a song that Andress never expected to gather as much attention, as it was written from such a personal point of view. The 29-year-old comes from a family of seven and they are all very close. So close that they love everyone she brings home to meet them. She quickly tells a story of her family still asking about a boyfriend she was with at university. An ex she no longer wishes to talk about. “Yeah, he hates me now, I broke his heart, so stop asking about it,”, so whilst she was writing the song it was a remembrance of what could happen if she would introduce her new partner to them, that inspired the now-famous song. A single so vulnerable that it even got a rendition with Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town on her deluxe album. Andress calls that one of her “fangirl moments” and remembers the organic connection the three women created through mutual respect and appreciation. This is definitely not the last collab she is going to do as she would love to team up with someone that has a strong, powerful voice such as Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi or the elusive Ed Sheeran. Sheeran she says would be country if he didn’t have an accent.

“I KNOW THAT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE PEOPLE THAT WRITE ABOUT TRUCKS AND BEERS BUT IT TAKES ALL TYPES OF TYPES TO TELL A STORY.”

“All of his topics are right where Nashville is like “oh yeah that is country” and then he comes in with his British accent and suddenly it is not,”, Andress explains. She is the biggest fan of his storytelling and anybody with a good and unique voice. The three things that Andress likes the most in a musician are those that she possesses. As self-aware as she is, she recognises that making music for her is a way of processing everything, in a way that could almost be deemed as therapeutic, which translates to the listener with her continuation of sad songs and oddly catchy tales of independence. “My music and my artistry feel like the only way to express myself fully without feeling like I need to fit into some societal interaction,”, is the way Andress describes her music. It shows a real sense of who she is and therefore the listener is able to get lost in thought and apply it to their own life. “Do any of us have plans for the future?” Andress ponders whilst talking about the upcoming year. Even during a time when live music has been a rare commodity, the world has seen her perform with her powerful performance at the CMA’s (Country Music Awards) and most recently she has been nominated for three major Grammy nominations. As Ingrid Andress and the entire world are still battling life during an ongoing pandemic, whilst yet again going in lockdown, there are now ways to look at the positives. After all, not only did she gravitate a new type of fan towards her and country music, she also prospered in a time of global distress.

20


Text by: Lauren Dehollogne

21


F ran ny & Z o o e y

cul

t

al let

s

al Let r ’ u

ur

s

get

get

cu l t

In a time when the rising digital economy is threatening the physical counterparts of books, the rediscovery of classics is a blessing. ‘Franny and Zooey’ - a book about two siblings going through mundane life and all of its ideological troubles. It is compounded of two separate stories that are linked to each other. The first part ‘Franny’, is a short story about a university student that gets fed up with the egotistical side of our society and in particularly her boyfriend that she has come to visit. The revelation about the futile things her society cares about makes her rethink her view on life and what she will have to do to get by. This premise also lives on in the novella that focuses on her brother ‘Zooey’. Zooey is the reliable force for his mother’s gloom and helps Franny figure out how to handle life. These two stories are everything you have known J.D. Salinger for and more. The existential dread, the numbness of it all and the passing on of time all combine into one of the most important pieces of literature. As ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, ‘Franny and Zooey’ tells you everything you need to know about life and nothing at all.

by Lauren Dehollogne

ave New World- Tate Britain r B A

Photo credit: Joe Humphrys

‘A Brave New World’ by Chila Kumari Singh Burman is this year’s Winter Commission at Tate Britain. The light installation combines Hindu mythology, colonial history and personal memories from the artist who is celebrated internationally for her radical feminist practice. Burman combines her Punjabi and Liverpudlian heritage to create new identities beyond the limitations imposed on South Asian women in the UK by spelling out “Without Us There Is No Britain”, across the front of the building. It’s an absolute must see if you’re in London.

by Vanessa Valentine 22


Sh awn Mendes: In Wonder What started out in a small bedroom just outside of Toronto, ended up in a Netflix documentary. ‘Shawn Mendes: In Wonder’ offers a humanising portrait of the 22-year-old singer, following his humble journey to stardom.

a bright-eyed young man whose glass is always half-full, remaining humble and recounting his gratitude for living his dream, and inspiring others while doing it. His extraordinary musical career doesn’t stop Mendes from keeping both feet on the ground, secretly longing for small-town life moments, being able to drive around the suburb, smoke a joint and stare at the stars with his friends. Those days still exist but are certainly harder to achieve right now. “If I tell the world that I’m just a normal human, will they stop coming to the shows and listening to the music?” he wonders. But according to his dedicated fanbase that won’t happen.

An early scene in the documentary shows a vulnerable Mendes using an app on his phone to talk, after his voice hit its breaking point, in the last leg of a 104-show tour: “Ever since I was about ten years old, I was obsessed with being really good at things. That my worth was based on what I do, and that can lead to a dark place.” The behindthe-scenes footage reveals the conventional human struggles of the Canadian pop sensation: dealing with anxiety, pressure and his fear of imperfection.

‘In Wonder’ doesn’t capture a Godlike perception of the singersongwriter, but rather a guy who loves music to his core. And that’s why he radiates the purest energy back into the world.

From covering ‘Say Something’ on Vine as a young teenage boy, to selling out Rogers Centre, the biggest stadium in Canada, and performing his famous hits all around the globe, Mendes evolved into

by Lien Joos 23


Welcome to Earthrise

As a young person facing the current climate crisis on top of a global pandemic, it can be extremely overwhelming and hopeless at times to see the world falling apart in front of your very own eyes, especially when you feel like there isn’t much you can do to make a difference. Unfortunately, that is why a lot of people choose to turn their heads and let other people in the higher ranks with more power make the decisions – it is simply because they feel like them changing their lives, as singular individuals, will not tip the earth back into the right direction. Enter the London-based media company Earthrise Studio – a community and online platform with the mission to communicate the climate crisis to the next generation of activists and to show us all that there are always ways for everyone to save the planet.

Formally launched on the 3rd of July by the twin brothers Jack and Finn Harries and filmmaker Alice Aedy, Earthrise Studio aims to “tell a new narrative” and “reframe the climate crisis as a social justice issue”. It’s a company the world could not possibly need any more than right now, which is proven by their Instagram profile already boasting over 100.000 followers, just five months after their launch. But, naturally, Earthrise didn’t come out of nowhere – while Jack and Finn are most known for being YouTube royals, already having gained a massive following with their travel YouTube channel ‘JacksGap’ back in 2011, Alice Eady has been part of the forefront of Extinction Rebellion for the past few years and is famous for her work as a documentary photographer and filmmaker. It comes as no surprise therefore that the trio has devoted most of their time to raising awareness of the current climate crisis, with Earthrise Studio being the epitome of that exact mission. With over a year in the making, the company aims to harness their online audience and devoted community to build a platform that can infuse climate activism with a strong sense of diversity and optimism. Whereas a lot of other platforms and media companies like to focus on all the doom and gloom around climate change, Earthrise builds on a rather positive bent to serve as a place of ease in a world haunted by eco-anxiety. For that, it has always been important for the trio to 24


acknowledge the complexity of the current crisis and to be aware of the fact that the seriousness of it can easily get lost in the graphs and sometimes overwhelming statistics used in nowadays’ climate conversation. Hence, they have devoted their new platform to tell real human stories of people who are living in the effects of climate change, stories about brave activists, and the work they are doing to tackle the current environmental issues. Additionally, Earthrise has also been using its platform to elevate BIPOC voices, who have been marginalised within the movement, according to the company’s mission statement. Lastly, in addition to articles, quotes, and explanatory media seeking to untangle hard data and crucial legislation, the account has also been presenting stories and opinions from scientists, journalists, storytellers, and other environmental experts. With the company’s long-term plan even including the organisation of nationwide live events, like talks and workshops to engage and activate new generations, it seems that the Harries twins and co-founder Aedy are already shooting for the stars. But in a world that has reached a fatal tipping point, they are part of a group of engaged, brave fighters that the planet depends on the most right now. They know that they aren’t experts nor scientists, but that they are simply young adults who have had to face the harsh reality of the climate crisis and have found that a change needs to happen. That is why that with Earthrise Studio, they aim to tell a new narrative - one in which young people are brave enough to dare to imagine the future we all deserve to live in.

Follow Earthrise Studio on Instagram at @earthrise.studio and become a part of their fantastic community via their website www.earthrise.studio.

“We created this account with the aim of building an inclusive and accessible platform that didn’t make anyone feel stupid for not knowing, one which harnessed the optimism and imagination required to tell a new story about the future of our planet .”

Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Earthrise


HIDDEN GEMS at home in quarantine. Of course, we could have played a bunch of shows and grown our fanbase, but we got the album out which is good.” Though their first album ‘Bright Lights’ got released in early November, they kept summer close by It’s 10PM on a Tuesday

opening the album with a song called ‘July’. “It was the first

night when I login to

song that we all collaborated on which was crazy for us. That’s

Zoom for an interview

what makes this song so special to us.” ‘Bright Lights’ sounds

with

the

Arizona-

based band Kona. The sleep that had been creeping up on me disappeared as soon as they entered the call

youthful and resilient, which is not surprising since the band was still in high school during the making of their record. “The album is about trying to find your inner self, no matter where you are in life. It’s about facing both external and internal challenges.” One of the most interesting songs might

with their excitement and passion for music, their band, and the future.

“We’re

just

some dudes who make music together for all ears. We don’t play with the rules and do what we like to do.” Being an up-and-coming band during a pandemic might seem like a scary and uncertain situation to be in, but for Eli Valdes (18), Caleb Valdes (16), and Slade Skousen (17) it actually had its perks, “It helped us finish the album because we were all staying

26


KONA be the ‘On The Roof ’, which features a mysterious voice talking about music accompanied by a soothing guitar in the background. “I once sampled an interview of Julian Casablancas, who’s the singer of The Strokes, and knew I wanted to use that someday,” says Eli. “We always hang out at one of our buddies’ place and go to his roof to watch the sunset, so when we came up with the idea of making an interlude, we thought it would be cool to name it ‘On The Roof ’. Those moments are a sort of pause in life to us, and that’s also what this song is on the album, it gives you a second to breathe.” Not your typical boyband one day, which is an insane thought.” They

In their Spotify bio, Kona is described

formed the band late summer of 2019 and

as “not your typical boyband”. No matching

outfits

and

realised after a while that they didn’t have

coordinated

a name yet. “We started the band before

dance move, just three guys who like

we knew what the band name was, so we

to make music together and have big

were like, “shoot we got to have a name”.

plans for the future. “We want to go on

Overtime we were playing at Eli’s house

tour after the pandemic and take over

and his dog would sing and howl when we

the world . We want to play some shows

played music, so we thought it was cool to

in the neighbourhood but obviously

make that the name of our band.”

our aspirations are much higher, like playing in cities such as LA. Growing up in Arizona, we saw big artists play in a venue called Talking Stick Arena. It would be great to see ourselves up there

Written by Ine Vanvuchelen 27


FINAL THOUGHTS

Your words. Your opinions. Presenting:

WHY LOCKDOWN IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME WRITTEN BY LIEN JOOS 28


As the Eagles would say: we live our lives in the fast lane. In a world where everything changes so rapidly, most of us can’t keep up with the hectic lifestyle. But when Covid-19 was taking over the world, that all changed. In times of isolation, social distancing, and Zoom meetings, we were snapped out of our day-to-day life. A rollercoaster called ‘lockdown’ began and it’s the best one I’ve ever ridden. I can hear you thinking: “What?” Yes, I just said that lockdown was the best thing that ever happened to me. Waking up to the same day, every day. The disconnection with the world. The uncertainty of what’s to come. Every single aspect of it. I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, the first day of lockdown felt like the weight of the world had been put on my shoulders. When everything started to crash down, I had just graduated with flying colours and was coming off of a major high. For a second there, I thought we had just ended up in some weird sci-fi simulation. After pinching myself way too hard - I realised that wasn’t the case. Since then, I’ve been trying to form some sort of sense of this new world order we’ve stumbled into. I was always the person who had her shit together. With my tireless optimism and my persistence to make all my rosecoloured dreams come true, I had it all figured out at the age of just 21. Kind of like the real-life version of Elle Woods in ‘Legally Blonde’, but with less money and more dogs. Lockdown should’ve been a piece of cake - preferably a chocolate one - for me. Or at least, that’s what I thought - until I spent every day stuck between four walls, where at the end of it, I had no one but myself. It was like someone was holding up a mirror and suddenly you’re unable to escape your own reflection. All your insecurities, flaws, and fears rise to the surface; you get confronted with the worst and best versions of yourself. My daily life before lockdown was filled with the exhilarating chaos of trying to strike the perfect balance: working efficiently under pressure, drinking wine with my girlfriends, and getting eight hours of sleep a night. They say when you distance yourself from certain situations, you see new perspectives. Sounds cliché, I know. But with the mandatory house arrest, there was a newfound stillness in my life, where I only had to focus on myself. Those reflective moments resulted in finally putting myself and my feelings first, which is something I had never done before. When you try something new for the first time, it always feels a bit strange. It reminded me of the first time I fell in love. Only this time, it wasn’t with some tall, curly-haired man with beautiful brown eyes. No. I was falling in love with myself. I was reborn, in a new phase of my life, where I realised that it’s okay if my life doesn’t go as planned. Because sometimes, like in lockdown, even I have absolutely no control over what’s happening. Nothing is meant to be or set in stone. I might not end up marrying the man I’ve been dreaming about since I first laid eyes on him. I might not end up living in a big townhouse in London, with two adorable golden retrievers. And I might not take a year off to be completely fearless and see all the beautiful things the world has to offer. I just have to make the most out of every day and go with the natural flow of life - pandemic or not. On that note, I am now able to find happiness in the small things. Smelling a fresh cup of hot coffee in the morning. Using my hairbrush as a microphone to sing Beyoncé’s ‘Irreplaceable’ at the top of my lungs, like I just dumped the cheating bastard myself. Reciting every line from every episode of ‘Friends’. Dancing in my underwear like no one’s watching, whilst drinking a bottle of my favourite red wine. Eating way too much chocolate until I have to unzip my pants so I could breathe again. Reconnecting with an old friend about that one time we laughed so hard we almost peed our pants. Things I had always taken for granted - until now.

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WHËRË THË FÜÑ STÜFF HÅPPËÑS

COOKING WITH

NOTHING BUT THIEVES Nowadays, the environmental, health, and ethical benefits of veganism are beyond doubt. According to research done by the University of Oxford, going vegan now is the “single biggest way” to reduce our impact on the planet. And with such a huge boost in the availability of plant-based options, it is no surprise that more and more people are choosing to ditch animal products. Just like Nothing But Thieves frontman Conor Mason, who decided to switch to a plant-based diet after having seen what damage the meat and dairy industry is causing to the planet. Since then, the singer has even found a way to make a patch of the perfect mac and cheese with an indulgent, smooth vegan cashew cheese sauce. So, here’s how you can make this simply delicious go-to dish yourself:

Ingredients (serves 6-8, depending on how you use it): 180g raw cashews 1 clove of garlic 2 tbsp nutritional yeast 250ml unsweetened almond milk, plus more if necessary 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp onion powder A pinch of sea salt A pinch of ground black pepper 1.

To make the sauce, soak the cashews in water for at least two hours or add the raw cashews to a pot with water and place them over high heat. Bring water to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat; let the cashews sit for 30-45 minutes in the warm water, then drain.

2.

Once the cashews have finished soaking, add the drained cashews, garlic, nutritional yeast, almond milk, turmeric, paprika, onion powder, salt and, black pepper to a high powered blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner sauce, add a bit more almond milk. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

3.

Enjoy!

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Design on I ns Irenic

am at @irenic . tagr

fol ow

Art of the Month Written by Victoria Madzak // Photos by Hope Kensall

sign _de

Ho p of l ow

e and Sophia on Instagram at

sign e d g a atb @nicholls.sophia / @r

This year has had the highest highs and lowest lows for just about everyone. For Hope Kensall and Sophia Nicholls, 2020 has proven to be a year full of opportunities. Inspired by TikToks of small businesses, the two Southend-On-Sea-based friends decided to start their own company during lockdown called Irenic Design, a word that stems from Eirene, the goddess of peace, and is commonly used to promote positivity. As the two 18-year-olds share a fascination for tarot cards and claim tote bags an essential item, they began designing their own tarot card inspired bags in late spring. The final results were recently launched as a collection titled ‘Uncertain Futures’ – again weaving into the ongoing Covid situation – on their Etsy account IrenicDesign on the 30th of October, just in time for witchcraft season. The tarot card inspired tote bags might play the leading role in their business for now, but Hope and Sophia are currently working on even more designs for bags, as well as earrings and pieces of clothing – they want Irenic Design to become a brand, rather than just a handprinted tote bag shop. Though the girls are right with their chosen collection title and though the upcoming months in this pandemic are definitely uncertain, one can already tell that their future is bright, with all the creativity, talent, and passion these two girls put into their craft. 31



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