A New York based online music-lifestyle publication that brings your new favorite artist to the surface.
Staff Christopher Walsh Founder email@example.com Simran Sharma Editor In Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Thanks Keshi @caseyluong
Anwar Sawyer @anwarsawyer
Kenji Chong @kenjikchong
James Dai @jameswdai
Elaine Tsogtbayar @etsog
Damon Dominque @damondominque
John Louis Coloma @jlouisx24
Jo Franco @jofranco
Sam Morgan @futuredegramps
Pamela Salwinski @tnb.diary
Hey! Welcome to the first issue of Listen Mag. I’m extremely excited and proud to launch this project. It has been a long time coming and I’m proud and grateful for those who took the time to contribute and be a part of this issue. Everyone featured in this issue is someone who I respect, admire, and look up to. We’re committed to bringing a new issue every 3-4 months as we grow our team. Thanks for reading, Chris Proud of my bff for envisioning & executing this very special creation and turning it into a reality. thank you for letting me be a part of it, and thank you in advance to the readers. to many more! - Simran
CONTENT SNAPSHOT PLAYLIST DAMON & JO DISPOSABLE DIARIES KESHI TO NEW BEGINNINGS FREX
SNAPSHOT New York, NY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Christopher Walsh
playlist for running down to get your seamless order while an angry delivery guy calls you for the third time. curated by: elaine tsogtbayar
tokyo drift // terakyi boyz brace yourself jason // u-ziq alright // rome fortune & toro y moi athoth a go!! go!! // machine girl gungho // fauxe shook // babyfather tomyâ€™s belated breakfast // birocratic nothing in return // monsune phospholipid // blood creatures dripping summers (feat. little dragons) // christian rich fullfilment? // kilo kush dumb // pretty sick livinâ€™ at mumsies // inner state 81
DAMON & JO INTERVIEW BY: Christopher Walsh PHOTOS BY: Rick Bhatia PHOTOS BY: Steven Shattuck Have you ever told yourself “this will be the year that I travel more” or “I’m going to save money to travel” or just make the excuse to travel but don’t? Multi-lingual millennial YouTubers Damon & Jo built an entire brand off of traveling on a budget, and centered it around the mantra of “Shut Up and Go.” Through this, the duo has been producing content that spans from language learning tips, to booking the cheapest flights, and how to not feel like a tourist when visiting somewhere new. Millennials love to travel but don’t necessarily have the means to book a thousand dollar all-inclusive vacation. Because of this, the duo began to cater towards their college-aged demographic and started introducing the concept of how traveling can be integrated into your everyday lifestyle ranging from $5 bus tickets to even $40 flights. The secret to their success was going against the stereotypical travel show formula where someone who has an excess amount of money or backed by a TV network showcases five-star luxury resorts and all-inclusive hotel packages. Damon & Jo decided to show young people that it is achievable to obtain the frequent flyer lifestyle and not become completely broke in the process. The two actively promote the concept of solo-travel, which to some might be a daunting and frightening venture, but Damon & Jo prove that it is beneficial. With the immense growth of social media over the last two years, the duo has created an online community on the Shut Up & Go Facebook page— which currently has over 100,000 young eager travelers looking for a language learning partner or a travel companion. With over 1 million subscribers on YouTube, Damon & Jo have conquered all the mediums in order to make their brand feel more like a community that is constantly expanding across the globe. Recently they revamped their blog, https://shutupandgo. travel, where they have contributing writers that share their experiences of being vegan abroad, how to navigate through foreign emergency rooms, and essentials to pack. We had the chance to delve deeper with the viral traveling duo and discuss growing their ever-expanding community, solo-traveling, and reminisce on their favorite travel moments.
â€œIt just makes me happy that there is now a way for this audience interested in living an international life to connect. We would have loved that when we first started.â€?
Photography By: RIck Bhatia
Hey guys! Would you mind introducing yourself? D&J: We’re Damon and Jo - two goofy YouTubers who make videos of our travels around the world, and often in different languages (French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, etc.) We are also the creators of Shut Up and Go, an international company focused on highlighting interesting voices and quirky travel stories from the world. What’s the story of how Shut Up and Go was created? D: Throughout our travels for the Damon and Jo channel, we would meet people who were just like us, but who were funding their travels in other ways: au pairs, flight attendants, working for study abroad programs, working in hostels, etc. They were living the same life we were, they just weren’t filming it. We wanted to create a platform for anyone who wanted to live an international life. Just as we felt like there were never any travel shows out there we could relate to, we felt the same about written travel content. We wanted to hear about everything from horrendous Tinder dates to the weird yet quirky dude you met at your hostel in Budapest, to learning how you scammed your way into a museum in Mexico City. Those are the real stories that happen when you travel, and we wanted to create that. J: We wanted to create a platform we had always wanted but never found; a site and brand completely dedicated to publishing content on alternative and international lifestyle. So when we hit one million subscribers, our next big goal was to create that platform. Through Shut Up and Go you guys created a community of travelers wanting to learn, travel, and network with each other. How does it feel knowing you’re encouraging people to break out of their comfort zone? D: It just makes me happy that there is now a way for this audience interested in living an international life to connect. We would have loved that when we first started. J: It feels right. We’ve been able to live a great life and continue to do so, paying it forward is only fitting.
What were the biggest challenges of growing your brand? D: The biggest challenge when growing an online brand is managing all the projects at once. The internet is a different beast. Creating compelling content on social media is the most important (I believe). It’s what will make people care and want to stick around. On top of that, you have the consistent content itself, and then you have other side projects to build the brand (e-books, publicity, hiring new employees, etc.). The goal is to constantly be in a state of innovation, and that, my friends, is both rewarding...and exhausting. J: We’re still growing it obviously, so the challenges are a part of our day-to-day. Scaling any brand is complex, especially when it’s fully remote. But the enthusiasm that built the brand in the first place is our DNA, which makes the challenges easier. How do you both find the time to divide up business and pleasure? Is it challenging to travel for leisure when documenting your experiences is also your job? D: We always joke saying we would love to work a 9 to 5; Our job is non-stop. Imagine you want to take a vacation to a tropical island near Mexico. It’s supposed to be for vacation right? Then you arrive and realize that your vacation is exactly the kind of content your followers eat up. Your vacation is no longer a vacation; it’s “work.” Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade this freedom for anything, but many people think our job is strictly all fun and smiles; it’s also a never-ending cycle of “Should I capture this for Insta Story right now...” J: We’ve created a lifestyle business, so it’s never really separated. Although, sometimes I go phone free for a day, or block off three days once every few months. But for the most part, I’m good about not having my phone out during human times like meals, and bedtime. There are tricks of the trade to keep one sane!
Photography By: Steven Shattuck
On your YouTube channel, you both highly advocate for people to travel solo, what are some pros and cons you faced while traveling solo? D: Some people traveling solo may get homesick, but I think it’s because it’s most likely the first time you’ve ever been alone in your life. It’s not the kind of alone you feel when you’re in your room and your parents are the couch or your roommate is cooking. For the first time, you’re abroad and don’t know anyone, or anything. Your identity is up in the air. You could be whoever - and for some people, that’s frightening. It’s like, for the first time, you truly have to think for yourself. What do you like? What don’t you like? Who are your real friends? Do you agree with your family? You can really get into your head, but because Jo and I have solo traveled and studied abroad so many times, we are now super comfortable with who we are and our self-worth has been determined. Being alone doesn’t scare us; more so, it empowers us. Cheese alert, sorry. The pros would be that you don’t have to settle for what your friends want to do. That is truly the crappiest feeling. You worked so hard to save up for a trip where you feel you’re not even in control. With solo traveling, your days are up to - again, that could be frightening to people who need that extra push. J: Pros of traveling solo are endless. My favorite part is that your energy is typically more open so strangers become friends quickly. You’re more approachable because you’re alone, and you can reinvent yourself because no one is expecting you to be a certain way. The cons are the logistics like there’s no one to watch your beach bag while you want to take a dip, or constantly having to take pictures in mirrors to avoid the cheesy selfies. Otherwise, I’m all for solo travel!
What’s the most overrated/underrated city you guys have been to? D: Athens. 100% This is going to sound like the bougiest thing I’ve ever written, but we were in Kenya for a gig and we needed to end up in Paris for another. We had time to kill and figured, for our YouTube channel, that we should at least use another country as a stepping stone for content (and life) on the way. Greece was not only the cheapest, but also the most logical flight to take, and so we booked our last-row economy seats and off we went. Athens is like that underrated kid in class, who’s probably the coolest one there when you finally talk to him/her. It’s not the obvious choice, but once you go, you realize the people are some of the friendliest (I would say to Jo that I felt like everyone in Athens would have been Prom King/Queen in America), the juxtaposition of ancient, classic buildings next to graffitied warehouses is super interesting to look at, and the overall quality of life (the cost of living + the weather + nightlife + food) is really high. My vote goes to Athens. I support Athens! J: The most overrated city I’ve been to has to be Paris. The most underrated city has to be Athens. Which trips been the most memorable for you? D: To this day, I think Thailand represents the most adventure I have ever felt in my life. You really feel like you’re living. We were in our early twenties, completely alone, driving a red motorbike on the island of Koh Samui (for $5 a day). We were in our soaking wet swimsuits cruising past palm trees on our way to visit different waterfalls on the island. We’d stop at the various 7-Elevens for snacks and continue on...to temples, beaches, etc. It’s an accessible way for anyone to experience pure adventure. J: Each trip I take has a reason to make it memorable, there’s no “one trip.” Some of my favorites have to be the time I lived with an Italian family in Sorrento, exploring Cuba for 20 days, and Thailand because it was the spirit of adventure!
DISPOSABLE DIARIES PHOTOGRAPHY BY: AUDREY INTERVIEW BY: CHRISTOPHER WALSH
AUDREY The rising alt-pop R&B fused star Audrey should be on our radar for 2019. The singer’s first single “80 Degrees” is a sultry yet angsty banger released in 2018 followed by the release of her trancy and intoxicating track “Party”, that lingers with a hint of summer time nostalgia. Following “Party,” Audrey released her shimmering contemporary R&B track “I Try,” which oozes with 90s influence. The singer later unveiled her trap-influenced banger “Honeypot.” The versatility displayed in Audrey’s artistry is undeniable; the singer flows through genres with ease which makes it impossible to put her in a box. We sent over a disposable camera to the artist to capture the essence of what represents her artistry and hit her with a few Q&A style questions.
I noticed your first single 80 Degrees was released in 2018 and prior I dug deep and found that you were in a commercial with Sampha and toured the US singing the national anthem. When did you begin to write and record your own songs? Audrey: Growing up my parents weren’t really to big into music. The only people I really listened to were Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, so i think discovered songwriting and artistry later in life. I would say high school I started to write my own music. There is stuff recorded its super dark and filled with teen angst. But I feel like 80 Degrees was the first song I wanted to show the world and accurately depicts what I’m going through right now, so that was the first song I felt was the most honest with myself. Your sound is very versatile. You have tracks that range from aggressive bangers like “Honeypot” and then slow down to a sultry R&B track like “Party” or “I Try.” Do you enjoy making more trap-influenced tracks or lean towards more the R&B side or both? Audrey: I enjoy them both so much in different ways. I think the things that naturally come out of me are more R&B. When I was in highschool I discovered Sade, Whitney Houston, D’Angelo, and people who really pioneered R&B. So I think my natural sound is more towards “Party” and “ I Try” but - honestly for me I think one of my favorite things is trying new things. When we made “Honeypot” we were like ‘what is this’ as soon as we made it we didn’t even know where it came from. I think my goal as an artist is to push those boundaries. I think there just needs to be females and minorities who aren’t afraid to do what comes as an instinct for them. All the artist I admire go places that haven’t been explored yet, I feel like that is my mission as an artist.
Who are those artists? Adurey: Musically I love Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Lorde she’s a huge influence for me. Her first album really struck me in high school, it was so different from everything i’ve heard before. I’m also really into Toro Y Moi and Tame Impala. I’d also say Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West from the viewpoint of their overall artistry and creative mindset. Visually John Yuyi she is an upcoming artist in the city right now. But I think my childhood inspired me alot being a Korean American having a colliding of worlds. Where did you get in the inspiration for the video for “Party”? Did you shoot it all yourself? Audrey: I worked with a director named Raf. I feel like that video came from a lot of the times we’ve hung out and talked about what the video could be. It wasn’t necessarily an idea I had for a long time, it really was born from the times we discussed about the song and the video. But if i had to reflect back and think about what inspired me to do all that, I was thinking about how can I portray the feeling of being at a party and being surrounded by so many different people and still feeling alone with striking visual images that can portray that feeling. The mannequin scene, feeling like you’re the only one at the table with a bunch of bodies around you. Everything visually was inspired by that feeling and Raf took the idea and ran with it.
From the photos you took, you were in a warehouse type setting with bob-cat lifts and then a sewing studio with tons of dresses. Can you tell me a bit about them? Audrey: So the for one with all the clothes thats my dad’s factory in the Fashion District. I just remember spending a lot of time there it’s such a creative fun space for me as a kid to express myself. I think being there all the time and looking at all the fabrics and making my own clothes as a kid inspired me to be more creative and have a bigger imagination growing up. The bobcat ones are right outside my house with two snow plowers in the parking lot, I took my mom out and I was like ‘i wanna stand on these’ and it’s a testament to how a lot of the visual art is out there. I wanted to document myself and my instincts. The one of me on the crane is from the mall and it was way after the mall was closed and I saw a chained off area and the colors attracted me. Everything from the roll is very industrial, which I think really describes me. I didn’t even plan that, I think I’m attracted to things that aren’t the prettiest to look at but they’re interesting to me. And that goes for me and what I represent as an artist. I don’t want be an entity to just stare at, I want to challenge the idea that women have to be super beautiful or pretty to be respected. I want to push that women should be respected for creativity the same way Kanye is respected for his production and not how he looks. Thats a huge thing for me.
I did some research and noticed that you attended NYU Clive Davis briefly, what was the key point that made you want to leave and pursue doing music on your own? Audrey: I’m actually on my Gap year for NYU, I plan on returning Fall of 2019. But the reason why I decided to take a Gap year was because I couldn’t afford to go to school without putting myself into massive debt that was just something I felt that I wasn’t ready to do. I’ve been saving up for college my entire life and I feel like that fund was gone in two semesters. So i really just had to sit back and think if this is something I wanted to do. I decided to take a year off to be with myself and figure out who I am as an artist, you can’t do in a year it’s a lifelong journey, and I wanted to hone in on that. Is there an EP or album on the way? Audrey: Definitely! We’re starting to work again and my goal for this year is to put out a body of work. Who are you listening to right now? Audrey: Dizzy Fae, A Tribe Called Quest, and Men I Trust.
K K EE S S H H II WRITTEN BY SIMRAN SHARMA PHOTOGRAPHY BY KENJI CHONG
Ninety-nine percent of people who listen to hip-hop have never sold drugs. But one-hundred percent have had their heartbroken. In the span of just two years, Keshi has captured the spirit and sentiment of that generation. There are hundreds of people who have found soul connections with songs like “over u” and “just friends—in the comments under the singer’s SoundCloud account, they’re convinced he has written these songs about their lives. But Keshi doesn’t mind that; instead, he believes it’s validating and surreal to have people acknowledge that his words resonate with them somehow. In an in-depth and curious conversation, the Houston singer tells me the back story of his artistry, his latest EP, his love for guitars, and the countless gems he has planned for the future. The year 2018 was a prominent year for Keshi—in November he released his debut EP, The Reaper, consisting of four heartfelt and melancholic tracks including the single, “2 soon.” The project is reminiscent of his old song-writing, the tales of a romantic trapped in a superficial world, yet it brings a wave of new sound—a more upbeat atmosphere mixed with his signature guitar. “The Reaper explores an interesting sort of theme: it’s about unrequited love,” he tells me when I question the meaning behind the title of his work. “It was about somebody who doesn’t belong to you, but you’ve kind of attached yourself to them and you don’t necessarily want to the cut tie, but you’re wanting them to cut it but not at the same time; it’s a conflict that you have with yourself.” He adds that The Reaper symbolizes the other party, and you’re asking them to put your misery to rest once and for all. “It’s really vague, the relationships we have with people sometimes. That sort of vague relationship where there’s a gray area, and you’re like man, it’s really not clear. I wanna get my hopes up but at the same time I know I’m gonna get crushed so please just put it to rest for me.” Keshi compares the imagery in this project to falling deeper into a grave; laying somebody to rest in peace in metaphorical terms. Contrary to the darker theme however, songs like “2 soon” and “like i need u” exude a brighter and hopeful temperament. “I feel like I wanted to kind of change the direction that it was going in a little bit,” he says of the slight change in his new sound. “I still wanna have a foot in lo-fi, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like lo-fi right now isn’t going in the direction where I thought it was, where it was really innovative. But people fell in love with it, and when you get that sort of attention, the innovation kind of goes stagnant…I had no choice but to outgrow it a little bit.” But this isn’t the first time the singer has gone upbeat. A year ago, he covered “God’s Plan,” by Drake, possibly one of the most upbeat songs ever, and received approving nods all around. “I always wanted to make music that was accessible, approachable, listenable, from all standpoints,” he discloses, “The [God’s Plan] cover got attention that I did not think it was going to get. That was the very first song I had recorded under Keshi that was really upbeat, and I had a lot of fun putting all these nuances in it with the effects, and it was a banger. And I was like man, I really like making bangers. How come nobody’s making sad bangers right now?”
They say if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. So, The Reaper, as Keshi himself puts it, is full of these sad bangers. The upgrade on the quality of the music was also a deliberate choice—after registering the attention Keshi had received through the earlier tracks, he made sure he wasn’t still using a $100 microphone to record and Apple headphones to mix his music anymore. “I decided there needed to be an upgrade in mixing quality, in mastering quality, in production quality and in everything,” he claims. “It was a very intentional kind of switch, so each of these songs on the EP were written after that decision: I wanted more emphasis on the song writing and production while still keeping the sonic quality from my old stuff too.” Speaking of his old work, I voice a question that I believe crosses the minds of all artists alike: the fear of displeasing your fan-base who have supported and enjoyed your previous approach with your new and improved methods, and in return becoming passive with your art. “I feel like every artist’s intent is to innovate and grow,” he answers honestly, “If they make the same sort of songs to please their listeners I feel like that’s selling out, a little bit. The best way I can describe it is that I want to make the best kind of songs that I can for every genre that I’m into. When it comes to the lo-fi songs that I’ve done, my reason is that I kind of fulfilled that part. I have written the best kind of lo-fi singer/song-writer kind of songs that I could, they’re out there. I can’t really top that. Now what I wanna do is conquer other kinds of sonic melodies. I want to challenge myself and show them the new things I’m able to find.” The Reaper was the first step toward those new heights, and Keshi is nothing but proud of this special creation. “I’m unbelievably happy with it,” he rightfully boasts, “I’m very proud that I get to claim ownership of these songs. It’s like when you write songs you don’t know them; when they come out of you, it’s like you’re meeting someone new. Like oh hey, you’re mine now. Let me show you off to everyone and make sure you get the love that you deserve.” Besides the music itself, Keshi is determined to provide his supporters with as much content as he possibly can.
On his YouTube channel, he has posted (behind) the scene videos for “2 soon” and “like I need u” where he elaborates and breaks down the makings of the track, showing all the effects and technicalities he used to cook up the final version. “I’m a really big geek for production, so just creating really complex soundscapes is like the most fun part for me; the production aspect of it,” he mentions when I bring up the visuals, “So being able to share it with people, that side, rather than just the finished product is something that I really enjoy doing.” In the video, the singer/producer dons a guitar and plays it acoustic while simultaneously adding effects via his computer to the ongoing beat. Understandably, his relationship with guitars is significant in the process of his music making. “I started playing guitar around 13 years old,” he tells me when I ask about his first encounter with the instrument. What inspired him to take on the instrument is hilarious and awfully relatable: Drake Bell, the childhood heartthrob of everyone’s dreams, singing the theme song of Drake & Josh and playing the guitar on the show, earned cool points from basically every teenage boy and girl, including Keshi. “I remember watching a video where Drake like breaks down the chords for that song on YouTube, and I was like man, I gotta learn how to do this,” he laughs, “So I ask my mom for a guitar, like can we go get one, and she was like, “no.” So my grandpa had a big fat classical guitar, and he gave it to me. One day he sat me down with this chord book and I had taken to it, so he decided, why don’t you take it home. It has been like 11 years now and I actually used that same guitar on “over u.” So that’s the guitar you hear, the very first guitar I ever got.” If 2018 was a prominent year for Keshi, 2019 is about to be prestigious. And starting the year off with a sold-out show at Warehouse Live is only proof of that. Prior to the show, we discussed the singer’s thoughts on his first major performance in his hometown. “I’m so excited to play live,” he says as he tells me about his previous gigs he did way before he had created his moniker. “They weren’t like the shows I’m preparing to do now, but I haven’t played live in a long time and I missed it. I wanted to take a break to change something, and that change ended up being Keshi. Now that it’s been a solid two years, I’m ready; I’m itching to go see crowds again.” His goal for his first performance as the fame inclined Keshi is to make a really solid first impression.
“I wanna show people what kind of things I can do live; I’m more than just a producer in my bedroom,” he says referring to the preparation for a live show, “I use a lot of effects when it comes to producing things so translating that to a live setup is kind of a challenge. I have to go back and make live versions of the songs for the purpose of the show.” Two years ago, when Keshi was producing and writing songs from home, it was almost like he never expected to be going back and practicing lyrics for a live performance. “It’s interesting,” he says, “In this new wave of bedroom made music where you don’t have to perform it live, once you’ve written it and once you’ve recorded it, there is no reason to sing your own song again. You write it, you record it, and then it’s out on the internet and then onto the next one.” Ironically now, he is going back to relearn the words he has written to take a big step forward in his career. The sold-out show at Warehouse Live was just the beginning for, Keshi promises he has a lot more in store for his listeners, so stay excited because he is excited, too.
TO NEW BEGINNINGS PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAMELA SALWINSKI Pamela Salwinski is a Berlin-based photographer; her deep loving relationship with film is what pushed her to persue photography. The young photographer has a B.A in cinema studies and is now in the process of obtaining her M.A in the same field. Last year Pamela decided to create her blog, “to new beginnings” where she shares her photography from her travels. Pamela explains“My pictures represent the view from a Daydreamer. A very romantic approach to the beauty we have all around us. In the future, I will also share some short films to catch the same sense of romanticism and beauty.”
FREX PHOTOS BY: Sidney Tep INTERVIEW BY: Christopher Walsh Known for her spell-binding sophomore album Blu, rising electro-R&B artist Frex is paving a lane for herself amongst industry veterans. While becoming known for her most recent project Blu, the songstress has been making music since 2014 and has a debut project released on SoundCloud. White Sun covers a wide range of genres from electro-R&B to an experimental trap-influenced low-fi vibe that is the blueprint to the singer’s signature sound. “All Joking Aside” a standout track from her previous EP, White Sun, encompasses a deep trancy production with a hint of bouncy and playful elements thrown into it as well. What makes Frex standout from the rest is the production and writing used through all her projects. Her vocals are the key ingredient when it comes to Blu as each track is comprised of intense vocal layering that sends you drifting through cyberspace. Displayed on “Blu Haze,” the singer’s vocals float through a cloudy production while still being the main focus. Blu is the project that will propel her to become a household name. Tracks like “Ellis Dee” and “History” are shining gems. From the upbeat modern rendition of 80s disco to intimate alternative R&B tracks, it is what makes these projects unique. Delivering with insatiable talent, steady streaming numbers, and a dreamy aesthetic, the potential is endless for Frex.
Let’s talk about your album Blu. It’s amazing and probably one of my favorite projects from 2018. Did you write and produce most of it yourself? Frex: Thank you! All of the songs on Blu were written by me and produced by godchild, who I’ve been working with for a few years now. Are you currently an independent artist? If so, is it difficult to release a full cohesive project like an album all on your own? Frex:I’m an independent artist partnered with Indy label, Steak Worldwide. Blu was my second project (I released my first one, White Sun, on Soundcloud in early 2017). My main goal for Blu was to have everything sound cohesive, which made working solely with godchild so perfect. I didn’t want blu to sound like a bunch of singles strung together, which is what I felt I did with White Sun. I wanted blu to be one of those albums you listen to on repeat the whole way through. I’m really thrilled with how it turned out. To answer your question more directly, though- yes. Yes, it is really tough to release an album on your own. However, it is essential to have complete creative control over what I’m doing, which is the nice part about being independent. I think you have to really trust your inner compass and release whatever you truly love. Take your time. Scrap whatever rubs you the wrong way. When it came to establishing your own sound, what drew you towards this chill-wave R&B style? Frex: Two of my favorite genres are R&B and electronic music, so combining them just seemed to happen organically when I started making music. I started recording my own music during that era of Soundcloud when it was a bunch of electronic lo-fi mixes floating around. I think that era inspired a lot of my sound to start, but it also evolved a bit the more I listened to R&B and funk. I also noticed that you’re from the east coast (Pennslyvania). Hows it been switching coasts and adapting to Los Angeles? Frex: I didn’t realize how stressful moving across the country could be until I did it, but it’s worth it because I know what I’m here for. I’ve been here for a year now so I finally feel more snug, I’ve made some great friends, I have a great relationship with the people I make music with, and I love California. I’m right where I need to be right now! When did you start making music? Frex: I’ve always loved music. I started making music when I was in seventh or eighth grade, just doing covers of stuff and posting them on youtube (I don’t even know where they are now LOL). Then, eventually, I stumbled across Soundcloud and I think I produced/recorded/posted my first ‘real’ song in 2014, right before I went to college. I thought it was really cool to be able to upload your own songs on a platform that was solely for music, rather than just doing covers on youtube. It was sort of just for my own personal enjoyment at first, but the more I realized I loved music, and the more I realized people actually were connecting with the things I created, I started taking it more seriously. I started recording in a ‘real’ studio in 2016, which is when I was like “Oh shit, I can actually do this.”
Which track is your favorite off of Blu? Frex: Tough question. I was extremely meticulous about every song on Blu, but if I had to say..Either “luv that destroys me” or “ellis dee”. You can’t make me pick hehe. Who are you listening to right now? Frex: I’m so glad you asked. Stimulator Jones and JMSN have been heavy in my rotation recently. I’ve also been listening to Lucky Daye, Donell Jones, Mac Ayres, and some Beegees. I’ve been really into disco music lately as well.