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founder & editor-in-chief twitter / instagram: @cathrinekhom
THANK U, NEXT
ow, this past year has been one of the toughest years that I had to go through and in the words of Ariana Grande, “thank u, next” is in full force. To be frank, it was very difficult for me to admit that I hit a road block. I felt like I was in some sort of crisis where I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life, career goals, moving into my own space and how can I squeeze in travel too? I had this urge to cram what I wanted to do in a year because of what I’ve been comparing myself to from what I see online. It wasn’t a good combo for me, mentally. I had to take a step back and this included Local Wolves, which I devoted six years of my life with restless nights. I never took the time to go to the gym, I had my fair share of excuses. I started my fitness journey in November along with listening to podcasts and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made in 2018. It’s like free therapy when you’re at the gym, just giving your all into a killer workout. Stepping into 2019, there are so many new artists and creatives, hence what is ‘on the rise’ that you should keep on your radar. On that note, take care of yourself!
founder & editor-in-chief, local wolves
local wolves • editor’s letter — 3
classics 03 09
your favorite color
love you later
perspectives 28 40
stroll in the city photobooth
way out west
ISSUE 56 / THE ACES
local wolves is an independent digital and print publication driven by the passion of storytelling for creative minds from diverse fields of work.
the aces @theaces orem, ut
sobbrs @sobbrsmusic austin, tx
boy willows @boywillowsmusic los angeles, ca
vista kicks @vistakicks highland park, ca
chelsea jade @iamchelseajade los angeles, ca
your favorite color @yourfavoritecolortheband huntington beach, ca
elujay @elujay lake merritt, ca
general email@example.com press firstname.lastname@example.org advertising email@example.com get involved firstname.lastname@example.org
WOLFIE TEAM founder / editor-in-chief cathrine khom copy editor sophia khom community coordinator erin mcdowell marketing coordinator elizabeth eidanizadeh music curator sena cheung web design jesus acosta logo lisa lok / fiona yeung cover photo luke wright design / illustration kelsey cordutsky, lisa lok, megan kate potter, bethany roesler contributing writers kendall bolam, morgan eckel, natasa kvesic, mackenzie rafferty, michelle ledesma, jasmine rodriguez, lauren speight contributing photographers adriana roslin, aidan doyle, anna maria lopez, angeline dy, ashley seryn, brittany oâ€™brien, carlos semedo, christina casillo, darrell jackson, elliott desai, jason kent, karen hernandez, kayla mendez, louis f. cota, luke wright, matthew robertson, ryan kanaly, sarah ratner, shane anderson
kailee morgue @morguemami phoenix, az los angeles, ca love you later nashville, tn @heyloveyoulater milkk @wearemilkk nashville, tn russo @russo los angeles, ca
website / localwolves.com twitter + instagram / @localwolves fb / facebook.com/localwolves read online issuu.com/localwolves print shop magcloud.com/user/localwolvesmag print design ad lisa lok (left page)
community H AY L E Y K I YO KO
— JASSIKA / GERMANY @JASSIKA_STYL
— KENDALL / TRAVERSE CITY, MI @KENDALLMAKESART
— KATIE / MANCHESTER, UK @IRLMOUSE
— TRANG / HANOI, VN @_ART.BEYOND.THE.STARS
— SAMANTHA / YONKERS, NY @SAM.DRAWWS_
— KATEA / BURTON UPON TRENT, UK @VVVDIGITALK 8
playlist ON THE RISE PLAYLIST BY SENA CHEUNG / HANDLETTERING BY LISA LOK
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pinpoint JAIPUR, INDIA STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAYLA MENDEZ
My story is tied to India like beautiful bookends that hold my chapters together. The bow tie conclusion in my great narrative. Why wouldn't I go back to her? She has taught me how to love freely and hurt deeply. [How to see and be seen.]
local wolves • pinpoint — 11
I remember scribbling this thought down in my iPhone's note app after returning from India two years ago. For so many different reasons, my trips to India have radically changed my life. I have always described India as a hidden gem; its beauty littered between the chaos. Whether it’s the busy city streets, incessant honking, or the fact that my name, Kayla, actually means banana in Hindi, India has always been the place to draw me back. That is why when I decided to go back to India for a second time this past summer, I knew I wanted to travel to outside of the polluted Delhi streets and see the more colorful city, Jaipur, affectionately known as the Pink City. Traveling to Jaipur will transport you back to the time of raj’s and grand palaces with elephants and forts. As an artist and photographer, I was inspired by the intricate designs, Mughal architecture and all of its vibrant color. It is an artist’s playground. India was the place to first inspire me to pick up the camera and it was a complete honor to be able to visually narrate one of India’s most beautiful cities.
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â€” LEAH BLOM / DALLAS, TX
on the rise WOLFIE SUBMISSIONS CURATED BY ERIN MCDOWELL
Moments in life will leave us shattered in pieces on the floor, unable to even function. But the thing about the human spirit that is unlike anything else is its resilience. Life is meant to test us and push us to our very limit, but it shows how even the hardest of times can’t break us. Earlier this year, I got my heart broken by a person I never thought would hurt me. I was a wreck and I cried more and more each day. There were some mornings when I didn’t want to get out of bed and some nights where my bloodshot eyes wouldn’t even close. But here I am 10 months later better than I was before. Of course, there are some days where I lose my breath and all the pain comes rushing back. It happens. Yet every time it happens, I survive. I survive and grow stronger, and stronger and eventually it won’t hurt anymore. A Phoenix rises from its ashes and so will I. No amount of heartbreak, grief or hurt will destroy me to the point I can’t return. You may think this doesn’t apply to you, but the despair you feel now won’t be as bad 1 month ago. The grief overwhelming you tonight will be obsolete a year from now. The hurt coursing through your veins will pass and you will be whole again. What I’m saying is, this will go away. The heartbreak I felt dissolved and I found a sense of independence and strength I never thought I could have. The human spirit is the strongest force on Earth, and its strength is in every one of us. So, to anyone who feels hopeless: Time is on your side and you will heal and rise to an even better version of your already resilient self. — SYDNEY BARRAGAN / LAKE FOREST, CA chapter one, number one i’m sitting in this room with yellow walls. nothing on them, except a polaroid of us two when we were younger. when i first entered the brightness of the room made me feel welcomed for the first time and then a saw the polaroid and a tear rolled on my cheek i was happy and confused, why did you keep it? more than seven years apart, no texting nor talking. i’m laying in one bed next to you. the wind comes and goes entering by your wide window. nobody’s home, we’re teenagers full of sadness and love laying in a yellow-ish room. the lights are down, the only sound you can hear comes from the
neighbor downstairs crying. a tear comes out as you hug me tight begging me not to go, but both of us know that our lives are not fairy tales. minutes pass in silence until I sing our childhood song and the last thing i see are your green watery eyes. — SABRINA BELMAHDI / MONTREAL, CANADA I don’t think we realize how much a simple act such as “girl love” can help us grow/rise immensely. I remember exactly where I was in life when I met my best friend. We never actually talked until we decided to partner up for a project in our government class. The only class we had together of our four years in high school at the time. Eventually, we started talking about more than just the three branches of government. She opened up to me about the time where she had felt the lowest and how the South Asian community was so closed up about mental illness as well as awareness. I was taken back by how much we related because at the time I was receiving therapy for my anxiety and depression. And I had never felt so comfortable sharing my opinion and thoughts that wasn’t with my therapist and not be judged for it. The South Asian culture normalizes that we should not talk about what bad thoughts go on in our minds and if anything comes out, we are considered an outcast. This is what pins girls against each other. We forget what mutual understanding and having a real gal pal/sister to talk to feels like. Instead we isolate ourselves. So, from that moment on, I never saw my best friend as just my partner from government class— I saw her as a strong individual that overcame the impossibilities. She has inspired me that it’s okay to talk about the bad. We have learned so much from each other by simply leaning on that we both promised to not give this ugly side of the culture the satisfaction that we can’t do anything because of our flaws. I’ve started posting my poetry publicly about mental awareness, women empowerment, and overall the South Asian culture. I’ve supported her doing what she loves and help her create her own makeup business while pursuing a nursing degree. We lift each other up not because we know how it feels to be cracked but because we see greatness in rising together. — ANI KHAN / DETROIT, MI
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— MIKAYLA LOBASSO / LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA
“i can’t believe you’re going to be an architect and a director” she said. he was the gravity defying physics of a romanesque ceiling, and i the subconscious unease of one point perspective. we were two parallel lines that converged; crumbling infrastructure, a box office flop, a facade and a spectacle, us. he wanted to be an architect and i a director; but parallel lines can’t intersect — not really — and i was never good at math. so he settled for his father’s practice and i grew from the cracks in the walls; a verb built upon the rock, risen from the nouns i used to be. now, i build my own box offices and i weld my own wings; ancient temples weren’t worth anything until they were ruins, anyway. “self reliance is greatest art,” she never said. but she was right all along. — ABBY HALEY / PARIS, FRANCE
I was guilt. The kind of guilt that would leave you sick to your stomach. I was sadness. The kind that left you feeling empty and numb and isolated from everything and everyone. I was fragile. Any touch or word would break me. I was easy. I gave too much of myself without getting anything in return. I was broken. Those I gave too much to, left me with a gaping hole hard to patch back up. But I was also fight. The kind of fight that didn’t want to feel broken anymore. The fight that wouldn’t let herself be walked all over. The fight that wanted to be free from the isolation. So, who have I become? After the holes began to repair themselves, who am I? I am still fight. The fight to keep fixing myself each day. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and capable enough to feel sadness without letting it consume me. I am also strength. The strength to wake up in the morning when sleeping feels like the only good option. I am powerful. I use my voice and will not sit back and watch myself be taken advantage of again. I am secure in the person I have become. I work as a team. Mind, body, and soul, we are one. — HAILEY THERRIEN / ENFIELD, USA
You can’t expect yourself to be ‘on’ all the time. Sometimes, just making your bed is enough, remembering to eat breakfast or getting a good sleep. This piece is about celebrating one’s daily wins, and getting up every morning to try again. — MICHAEL WEBSTER / MONTREAL, CANADA
Carrying On Your actions do not carry my reactions. Carry, I will. On to tomorrow. Take my credulous ears and I’ll flip the script for you to realize, do you? Carry, I will on without your muted words. My presence persists stronger in the wind. With a bravado built to stand firmer and sterner when knocked down, I last longer in solidarity with myself when everyone else has long taken shelter. — MARIA KORNACKI / FARMINGTON HILLS, USA
—MIA GILLING / NEW YORK, NY
— RACHEL SHOPPY / SILOAM SPRINGS, AK local wolves — 19
It has been a tradition of mine for some time now to write letters to the universe as the end of a year approaches. It helps me reflect on all the things I've been through, and make clear the things I want for myself for the new year. With excerpts from these letters and photos that remind me of my strength and altitude, these collages represent my unwavering resilience. I may not always successfully get back up once I fall down, but at least I always try, and isn't the mere act of trying a manifestation of strength already? — ANDREA PANALIGAN / CAVITE, PHILIPPINES
— MICHELLE SHARP / LOS ANGELES, CA
— BROGAN SMITH / PORTLAND, OR
A perfect balance of land and sea lives amongst the darkest of skies, with the constant swirl of ocean bringing sense to an otherwise uncontrollable creation. The world becomes equalised, allowing a beautiful nature to remain continuous forevermore. The chaos explored in “uncontrollable balance” explores not only the physical resilience of the world against our humanistic and natural destruction, but additionally, the resilience of the racial minorities in femininity which allow us to become empowered and bring strength to the self and the racial binary that we are bound by. — ANNELYSE LOWE / SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
— DALE SHELBURNE / ST. LOUIS, LA
— CHANDLER BUNZOL / ATLANTA, GA
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— MELISSA RODRIGUEZ / ORLANDO, FL
Changeling I once was a child with so much magic, it felt like I was a fairy As I got older things changed more, however I don’t know how to write a poem about something that tore me apart at 21. All the quick turns, medication after medication. Do we stick with this? Or do we go with that? Will they open me up? I’m not proud of that. They say it’s like small cigarette burns in my lower stomach, a disorder, an incurable disease that I never knew existed. And we never even knew when it started. “Endo-what?” I’ve never heard of her. When I was a little girl, I looked at the world and what my life would be I never thought I’d be in a battle with my body, my body is in a battle with me. Fast paced talking, medical terms If you might not be able to have a child, what’s your purpose? There’s no way to put all of this into words, because I don’t know where to put it down. Trying to learn about myself, and the works of my body To be comfortable in my skin again To be me again I never let it take over me, and I keep on fighting till the wicked end. With the power that I hold from every woman before me. Mom, I know you love every inch of me. I love every inch of me just the same. — MELODY J. MYERS / LOS ANGELES, CA
These images were taken at a time where I felt I was, creatively, unable to express myself— something I pride myself in being able to accomplish anytime and anywhere. I have been holding onto these images since the moment they were taken because, afterwards, I had been resurrected and revitalized. I felt my creative power return. I felt all the weight of needing to perform a certain way or produce certain content slip away and I was left with the memories of photographing my friend and being as present as I could possibly be. — GEORDON WOLLNER / MADISON, WI
— JANNET RODRIGUEZ / SAN FRANCISCO, CA
— SAMA AL-ZANOON / HAMILTON, CANADA
Bloom I wilted closer to the dirt My edges discolored and curled Do you recognize me I do not Revive me, revive me Salvage my tangled roots Unknot them So I can stand upright again With each dawn Flood energy into my veins And again I’ll bloom — JENAY ROSS / LOS ANGELES, CA
brittany o'brien FIELD ADVICE
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRITTANY O’BRIEN
I’m sitting in the corner against the window. A cup of hot tea in front of me. Normally I’d be looking at my watch while doing this — making sure I got back to work with time to spare. Today is different though, today I’m not at work. Today I can take as much time and stare out the window as long as I want. I’m home from tour after 280 days. No more musty smells, no more sweaty nights, no more smacking myself in the face with my camera. At least for a few weeks. That’s what I do for a living. Smack myself in the face with a camera every night. A more official job description? I tour. I document musicians; capture life on the road. Another day, another state. It’s a whirlwind of a career and I love it. I’ve been touring since I was 23. I had been dreaming of it long before then though. Living in Oakland, CA there is always a show to be at. Always something to do or someone to see. I became close friends with a group of guys in the scene who were on the rise. They were the ones you wanted to see, our city was lucky to have them. One day they got the call “Do you want to tour with Twenty One Pilots?” Of course the answer was yes. As Finish Ticket left for that tour, I decided I was going to invite myself along to the big shows. They were my best friends and I was their “photographer” after all. Two nights in New York City. Red Rocks. Seattle. I documented them on this journey and fell in love with the idea of doing it full time. So I made it happen.
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“Girls aren’t made for touring. There are no luxuries out here.” A sentiment I remember hearing while bent over helping build a lighting rig. I wiped sweat off my hands and looked up to see who had made the comment. The voice belonged to this burly Texas crew guy. He walked away. It stuck with me in the beginning. Made me laugh really. So many women I know in this industry have completely proved that man wrong. It’s not a luxurious life but anyone is capable if they want to be. 2016 flew by. I saw thunderstorms for the first time. Fell in love with Vermont. Slept in a van in the snow with the flu. Woke up at 6 a.m. after rolling into a hotel at 4 a.m. Drove 22 hours straight to make it to Bonnaroo. All of those experiences made my job grand. The harder the day, the better the photos. I fell in love with gas station photo shoots and editing while balancing my computer on a road case.
I just spilled tea all over my keyboard. I still feel like I’m in “rush to get back and document soundcheck” mode. It’s weird to be alone. Can’t remember the last time I didn’t have nine other people around me to talk with. Who am I going to watch the cooking channel with at 3 a.m.? I’ve been lucky enough to tour by van, sprinter, bus, plane and train. Seen 47 states and 9 different countries. Seven different crews and a tour dog. I’ve seen the Berlin Wall and the lush forests of Tennessee. I’m grateful that artists continue to trust my eye and have faith in my vision. I’m proud to be a woman in this industry and excited to watch more and more ditch luxury and join in on the fun. WEBSITE: BRITTANYOBRIEN.COM INSTAGRAM: @BRITOBRIEN
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stroll in the city
PHOTOGRAPHY CARLOS SEMEDO
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STORY BY KENDALL BOLAM PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAREN HERNANDEZ
Alternative pop singer KAILEE MORGUE’s ’s newest single “Siren” is a perfect representation of her dark and unique musical style. A native of Phoenix, AZ, Kailee grew up listening to legendary female artists like Gwen Stefani and Hayley Williams. Taking inspiration from their entrancing ways, Kailee Morgue is reinventing what it looks like to be a pop siren in the modern age. Morgue grew up writing music in her free time. When asked where her inspiration grew from, she replied, “I’ve always loved music! I remember being a kid and thinking everyone else was writing songs in their free time. It definitely became more real to me when I was in high school and started using writing as a huge emotional outlet.” After her single “Medusa” went viral overnight, Morgue’s popularity and musical notoriety skyrocketed, landing her a deal with Republic Records at only 18-years-old. For Morgue, music is a way to express herself and open up to the people around her. “Music has always been a communication method for me with my emotions,” she says. “It’s strange that it’s become something I’ve released for people to listen to. It’s amazing to me and I love connecting with people on that level. Sometimes I feel vulnerable and naked, but that’s the beauty of this art form.” Being vulnerable in front of a multitude of people doesn’t come without its challenges. A self-proclaimed introvert, Morgue has had to overcome the anxiety of performing and being emotionally open in front of a crowd. “The biggest challenge has been overcoming my anxiety while throwing myself in the spotlight.
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As a solo artist, I’ve felt the need to get up close and personal with the way I present myself and make myself vulnerable with my experiences. It’s really progressed though, and it’s all so worth it!” Despite her fears and anxiety, Morgue revealed that performing live has been the most rewarding experience for her so far. “I’ve always made music,” she says. “Whether it’s in my bedroom or professionally. But seeing how real it’s become and how it has reached people all over is so crazy to me. I usually have a hard time meeting and talking to new people, but having a mutual passion for music with so many people is amazing.” When asked what her creative process looks like, Morgue emphasizes that her ideas come from whatever she is feeling at the time. “I don’t think I have a solid step by step ‘creative process’. It depends how I’m feeling on the day, and then it will reflect into the song I’m writing. I’m a huge empath so sometimes I don’t know what to write about until I hear an instrumental or a chord progression that gives me a specific feeling or an emotion.” Her personal style is cultivated in much the same way. “I feel like my style these days is so unpredictable and hard to pin down. I work the same way creatively for sure. I’m never going for one specific sound, I love experimenting and playing with all different types of music.” As a young artist on the rise, Morgue has so much ahead of her! She plans to continue experimenting with different sounds and creating more unique music. “I’m so excited for this upcoming year!” She replied when asked about upcoming projects. “I have collaborations, new music, shows...it’s going to be so fun! As far as my sound, I’m always experimenting and changing things up, and I’m excited for everyone to hear it.”
“music has always been a communication method for me with my emotions,”
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CLOTHING GIULIA VENERANDI BAG ÁCRATA BOOTS NINA RICCI
ON THE RIGHT: A/W 18/19 TIGHTS NINA RICCI / BAG FENDI / DARNER SOCKS / SHOES NINA RICCI 36
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADRIANA ROSLIN MODEL: CAROLINA BALLESTEROS HAIR & MAKEUP BY LUZ GIRALDO STYLING BY MARÍA BERNAD
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SWEATER LES FLEURS A/W 18/19 SKIRT PACO RABANNE PURSE LES FLEURS
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A/W 18/19 DRESS & HANDKERCHIEF PACO RABANNE EARRINGS ALEXANDRA RICH
A/W 18/19 DRESS & JUMPER NINA RICCI
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MILKK INTERVIEW BY LAUREN SPEIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN KANALY
WHAT LED THE THREE OF YOU TO PURSUE MUSIC? HOW DID THE BAND FORM?
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU USE VISUALS AND MEDIA TO SUPPORT YOUR MUSIC?
We all kind of started in the same way, honestly. Jack and I grew up together in Minnesota playing in several different bands together. We had everything from a metal band to a folk project to an electronic thing and everything in between. Same thing with John, growing up on the east coast. I know for myself, I just loved the way it felt to express my thoughts to people in a way that only I could; being able to translate emotions that were hard to communicate otherwise. The band started as almost a “joke.” Maybe more of a non-expectancy. Jack was no longer a part of a band he had been in for a few years, and I had been pursuing my solo music in Nashville (where I still live) for a couple years to no avail. So, I haphazardly asked him if he wanted to start a side-project of sorts. I had read a satirical article on VICE about how to start a “trendy” band. So, I thought, “Why not?” Shortly after we started, I asked John to join, simply based on a premonition. But obviously, it has become so much more and means so much more now than its initial intention.
Our visual brand (the majority of which is curated by John) is definitely a super important aspect of MILKK as a brand. Mostly just pulling from what we like, we’ve tried to build around the ever-expanding high-fashion world. We want our thing to be accessible to anyone along the spectrum from skater to model. Utilizing focused styling points, blank space, and color pops has been a big attribution to that, as well as repping wellversed brands, while still cultivating looks with their own personality. Being particular with the details, from things as simple as our Instagram feed to as large scale as our music videos and overarching “style,” is what we’ve used to set us apart as much as we can.
HOW HAVE YOUR HOME CITIES INSPIRED YOU/INFLUENCED YOUR SOUND? I honestly think we’ve pushed against our home cities, in a way. Nashville is obviously known for certain styles and genres of music. Same with the Twin Cities, in a different way. We kind of wanted to figure out the best way to say, ‘Hey, we live here, and we love being here, but we don’t want to BE that,’ if that makes sense. I think sometimes people are afraid to push against what’s already working in their environment. But we’re trying to create something that transcends location or tradition or style. It’s obviously a work in progress, but we’re getting there.
WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE AND EXCITING PART OF THE PRODUCTION PROCESS? In my experience, it’s the moments you don’t plan for. You can sit down and map out a million things and try to make everything perfect. And that is obviously super important. But it’s those moments where inspiration or accident or surprise strikes and you find yourself in that feeling of: ‘Oh, my gosh. This is tight.’ You can’t force those moments. And those things often end up being your favorite parts on a song or album or whatever it is. I’ve experienced that a couple times recently as we’re scrambling to finish our debut album. The pressure squeezes the last few drops of gold out of you.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN SONGWRITING?
IS THERE SOMEWHERE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY?
Number one is having personality. A million people can write a good song. But only you can really express something in your way. If your voice doesn’t come out, then what’s the point? Another aspect for me that I personally love is exciting grammatical and linguistic moments. I’m a sucker for internal rhymes and alliteration and tying lines together for that perfectly rounded out pay off. An aesthetically pleasing, both visually and auditorily, and grammatically and logically correct line is really what gets me excited.
It would be cool to play First Avenue in Minneapolis. We all have history in Minnesota, and that’s just such a historic venue. I think it would mean a lot to all of us personally and collectively to headline that room someday. Also, I mean, Madison Square Garden is on my bucket list.
ARE THERE ANY SONGS THAT WERE WRITTEN DURING THE PRODUCTION OF SAD GIRLS OR IF YOU’RE READING THIS, I LOVE YOU THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT? IF SO, HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT WENT INTO YOUR EPS? Yes, there was one that didn’t make Sad Girls and a good handful that didn’t make IYRTILY (that doesn’t mean one might not make an appearance on the album though). I think we just went with our gut. If a song felt right and felt like “MILKK,” we recorded it. The album song selection process has been a little more interesting in that I’m mostly just letting the songs come to me naturally instead of writing a ton of songs and seeing how many we hate. I’ve just been waiting for the good ones to hit me and then writing them on the spot so I don’t lose that feeling. HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR STYLE CHANGING OVER TIME? DO CERTAIN GENRES OR ERAS OF MUSIC INSPIRE YOU? I honestly don’t know. I think we will just go with whatever is inspiring us at the time. Recently, it’s been a lot of pop, a lot of rap, a lot of indie. But that could change or shift focus. It’s just about following the feeling wherever it needs to go.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU PREPARE FOR TOUR? WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU WANT YOUR FANS TO HAVE? A lot of budgeting and a lot of schedule planning. The more locked in the boring details are, the more smooth everything else can go. And obviously, we rehearse and make sure the show is the best it can be. Show wise, we want our fans to be able to feel the full range of emotions. If someone can dance their heart out for half our set and then sob the other, I think we’ve done our job. More importantly than that even, we are very, very dedicated to a transparent, personal, and real relationship with our fans. We love spending time with them before or after shows, whether that’s at the merch table or whether that’s getting coffee down the road, the people who care about what we do mean the world to us, and we want to show that in as many ways as possible and make sure they feel valued and appreciated in return. We’re all just people together. WHAT WOULD YOU TELL KIDS WHO ARE FORMING BANDS OF THEIR OWN? Just freaking do it. Play shows. Suck. Write bad songs. Write good songs. Buy a cheap guitar off the internet. Whatever. Just don’t let fear of failing stop you. If that was the case, I would have stopped years ago.
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blue tuesday WORDS BY SHANE ANDERSON & NICOLA MATEAR PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHANE ANDERSON / MODEL: NICOLA MATEAR
Creatives’ lives are filled with passion, at times our careers offer little stability. Six months turns into two weeks and suddenly we’re floundering, gasping for breath before we’re forced to leave a place where we’ve built a home. And then it’s Tuesday, the Tuesday before we leave, and we’re feeling blue. We struggle to see if the glass is half empty or half full, rather than appreciating it for what it is (and what it was). It’s times like this when we need to nourish ourselves. To take daily reflections to find calmness, to let your thoughts flow like water, to not be stagnant and to let go of any dependency that will slow you down from reaching your best possible self.
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TOP SANDRO STOCKINGS FALKE SHOES MOLLINI
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boy willows STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINA CASILLO
Landon Fleischman was overjoyed to hear that his pre-NYC photoshoot face mask was packed with lavender. “I’m obsessed with lavender,” he explained, slathering the product on his face. “I painted my whole room lavender, bed frame, I have a lavender shag rug, I have this lavender owl, it’s all due to my mom.” After a couple of weeks of a tough living situation at his now-alma mater, the University of Southern California, he hopped on a call with his mother. “This super super loud guy was very inconsiderate and always encroaching on my space. I felt very trapped in my room. I was on the phone with my mom and she asked what color I see when I meditate, imagine seeing that color making a buffer around you. I always saw lavender, and that was definitely a catalyst, especially for the Boy Willows project. I really embraced that vibe.” Rockville, Maryland native Fleischman debuted the BOY WILLOWS project with “I’m Good” at the tail end of 2016, a dreamy tune about a one-sided relationship. Most of the lyrics of his tracks, including the songs from his first EP, Woods at Night (2018) draw inspiration from his relationships, platonic, romantic and familial. His tight knit family has given him wonderful perspective on human connection. “Growing up with that [close knit family], and still having that taught me pretty early on that my favorite part of living is connecting and being with people. It just makes everything so much better and life worth living.”
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In fact, “Floral, What They Do”, off Woods at Night, is based on another conversation with his mother. “Basically it's the story of the scorpion and the rabbit trying to cross the river – the scorpion wants to ride on the back of the rabbit and the rabbit is afraid it would be stung. The scorpion explains that that would be silly because then they would both die. Then they get across the river and a scorpion stings the rabbit and the rabbit asks, “Why would you do that?” and the scorpion says, “I'm a scorpion, it’s what I do.” So my mom was telling me a story in reference to somebody in my life and just said, ‘It's just what they do,’ so I was like, ‘What they do! Yeah!’” Woods at Night chronicles a personal journey for Fleischman, all about transition, connection and identity. The instrumental opening track, cheekily titled “Skip This”, simply tells the story of his West Coast move through sound. Voice Memo recordings of airplane terminal chatter, footsteps and rental cars all build to the opening of the next track “Flawlessa.” The whole release has the classic Boy Willows floaty, effortless sound to it. The delicacy of the soundscape could almost be described as feminine, which Fleischman takes as a compliment. “Growing up in Rockville, Maryland and being a more feminine man in high school, it wasn’t the most celebrated thing probably,” he says. “But it was also something that I realized that my preferences and tendencies are slightly more feminine and the way I emote. I think a lot of being feminine is being more colorful, which is just objectively better, to be honest, just a more fun way to live.” While it’s easy to chat about the songwriting or production process — “I have this spiderweb of a million different vocal takes spread out across
seven tracks. There's always a live and a MIDI version of each instrument. I have a song and I know how I want it to go and then from there it's just tons and tons of pieces of little ear candy” — a real challenge in New York is describing a project to an Uber driver, a challenge Landon encountered multiple times over the weekend. I asked him to rise to the challenge again in a more low stakes environment. “I almost cried once when an Uber driver was so rude to me after I tried to describe my music. She asked me to describe my music and I gave this whole long-winded thing about the kind of music I like and whatnot, and she just goes, ‘Honey, I stopped listening half way through – you have to figure out how to speak to people!’ Now I would say indieelectronic-folk. And then they say, ‘What?’ And then they’re like who do you sound like? And I say ‘Slenderbodies.’ And they say who? And then I say ‘Kanye. I sound like Kanye.’ Maybe Ben Harper? Or, yikes, Ed Sheeran.” This sense of humor is something that marks a difference between Landon Fleischman and Boy Willows. The idea of mystery, from his background to his songwriting, is something that Fleischman considers not only sexy, but vital. To fall in love with a character allows for a listener to take that character and project various ideas and perceptions that fans ordinarily wouldn’t do to the average person. He explains, “I can be whatever you want me to be. It’s an exploration of the human condition, I’m a canvas and people can use me to project their experiences. It doesn’t make me mad to be misunderstood, because it’s not about me.”
"I CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT ME TO BE."
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chelsea jade STORY BY MACKENZIE RAFFERTY PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH RATNER
“My best, it has no borders,” sings CHELSEA JADE, a rising artist from New Zealand, in the opening lyrics of her song, “Personal Best” (the title track of her 2018 album). These lyrics of self-empowerment greatly mirror Jade’s musical journey and growing success. Chelsea Jade’s album Personal Best is visceral, empowering, and impossible not to head-bop to. A self-proclaimed art-school “brat,” Chelsea Jade was born in Cape Town, South Africa and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Jade is a striking character; beyond her unmistakable blonde bob, she’s incredibly clever and has a keen way with words. Jade released her album Personal Best in July of 2018. Before dropping her solo album this past summer, Jade was already very familiar with the music industry. She had previously written for prominent artists (The Chainsmokers, ATTLAS, and Wet to name just a few) and released music with other groups.
Personal Best is Jade’s first solo album that was both written and released on her own. Taking ownership, she noted, “as soon as you’re under your own name, you don’t let the little things slide anymore... it felt important to be culpable for the minutiae.” The album, her music, every decision came down to her— it was, indeed, her personal best.
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In creating this album, Jade found it exhilarating to challenge and test herself. “It’s almost enjoyable,” she added comically, “to hear me taunting myself in songs like ‘Ride or Cry’ and ‘Life of The Party.’” The album was personal experience and journey for Jade; she called it, “a tournament of team sports, where I’m on both teams, versing myself.” One of Jade’s favorite songs of hers is “Laugh it Off.” The song, a triumph of positivity in place of possible darkness, “felt like a vibrant little light tucked in my palm before it came out...and that still feels true now that it belongs to everyone.” With lyrics such as, “want my chest to keep it heavin’ / on the lighter side of feelin’ / I’m not going into grievin’ for you,” the song is an anthem of optimism that I honestly can’t stop dancing to. Jade’s album is a perfect marriage of lyricism and visuals, creating a unique musical identity that sets her apart from other indie-pop musicians. Jade’s paired talent for music and art speak to her individuality in an industry hell-bent on conformity. After dropping out of art school, it took Jade a long time to find her way back to her own visual language and artistic identity; both of which are strongly present in her album, Personal Best.
Jade’s transparency through her music and identity are refreshing. Her approach to music is very simple. To Jade, creating music is a pursuit that mirrors her personal growth, which is a journey that can never be over. Her other impulse, she comically added, “shameless attention seeking!” Beyond her knack for music and blunt sense of humor, Jade earnestly hopes that her music can “be a friend to someone who feels alone.” When asked what she does when she’s not writing music, Jade answered, “getting my heart broken, generally.” But, her serious answer is that she never stops writing— she’s already onto the next. Currently, Jade is writing for her next album and looking to take her live show to as many listening ears as she can. In creating and releasing her own music, Jade was open about her greatest hurdles. “To be perfectly honest,” she added, “it’s not romantic, but this shit is expensive and as an independent artist, I pay for everything myself.” Despite these struggles, being her own boss is the exact advice she offers to young women interested in entering this industry today. Jade’s support for women reaches far beyond her advice to young female musicians. Since 2016, Jade has donated her yearly proceeds from her Bandcamp to Planned Parenthood. She added, “I’m just not a fan of how divisive the conversation around women’s health is. Let’s just take care of women, eh?”
MUSIC IS BOTH A SHARED AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE; MUSIC HELPS US RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER AND DISCOVER OURSELVES ALONG THE WAY. JADE’S MUSIC IS UNIQUE, FIERCELY INSPIRING AND LEAVES YOU WITH AN UNSHAKABLE IMPULSE TO DANCE. Music is both a shared and personal experience; music helps us relate to one another and discover ourselves along the way. Jade’s music is unique, fiercely inspiring and leaves you with an unshakable impulse to dance. Beyond her music, Jade is refreshingly transparent, unabashed, and wildly self-aware. It’s evident how much Jade cares about the community her music has created, and the impact her artistry can have. There’s more to come from Jade and her music, I’m sure of it. Chelsea Jade’s musical career, like her best, has no borders.
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Life on the road is what true rockstars blissfully reflect on in their memoirs. Amid their early morning tour routine, THE ACES radiated moments of lively energy and laughter through a phone conversation from their current headquarters in San Diego. Following the release of their 2018 album, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, the band has cultivated momentum amongst the dance-pop scene. The four-piece band hailing from Provo, Utah is composed of McKenna Petty on bass, Katie Henderson on guitar, sisters Alisa Ramirez (drums) and Cristal Ramirez on lead vocals and guitar. Despite none of the band meeting me prior to the interview, they envelop the conversation with an easy familiarity as if you have just resumed a dialogue at an early-2000s sleepover with your fellow girl-gang. The band’s formative years were etched in jam sessions where they rattled off lyrics while they strummed away on their guitars. There are YouTube videos of their grass-roots cover performances at school assemblies, where their guitars were a size too big for their 5’1 heights. Flash forward into the contemporary light, the band has worked alongside famous producer Dan Gibson to create an album (dosed) in muscality. They penned the potently dreamy track “Fake Nice” with a particularly minimal yet spaced-out ambiance. “We worked on this track with the only female producer on the record [Wendy Wang],” said Cristal, “She left it open for us to sprinkle whatever we wanted to. Often when you work on an album, some things can come out rushed, yet we got to really go in and take our time crafting this quintessential Aces song with a bit of that 80s pop and new wave,” Cristal said. The essence of When My Heart Felt Volcanic is a joyride exploration to reflective sentiments of love lost to those shower time solo ballads. The hodgepodge of the album is not genre-specific rather it explores realms of glistening glitter-pop to bathing in rock sounds. The band’s dazzling hit that totalled in over seven million Spotify streams, “Stuck” is punctuated by Alisa’s drums, which are also readily fixated on throughout the entire album. At the forefront of the pop soundscape, “Waiting for You” allows Cristal to get away with a little name drop, “I thought I made it clear as crystal,” she sings off the first line of the song. McKenna’s bass acts as the bloodline of this song and the rest of the tracklisting, meanwhile Cristal and Katie’s guitars breathe life into the melody. The angst-dwelling Paramore albums of Brand New Eyes and Riot carved nostalgic significance that wielded an instinctual desire to form their own band. “I remember gathering at my mom’s house and gathering in front of a PC to just re-watch all of Paramore’s early music videos like “Misery Business” and wanting to do what Hayley Williams was doing,” Cristal fondly recalled. Katie and Cristal’s guitar licks complement that definitive 80s glitz and glamour instrumentation. The Aces have taken When My Heart Felt Volcanic on the road after 5 Seconds of Summer invited them to open up for their 2018 tour. The Aces explained that they are astounded by the earnest connection they have developed with the 5SOS audiences with appreciative words, “This has been the best tour of our career so far,” Cristal excitedly shared, “We’re surrounded by guys and girls around our age, so it all turns into one huge party.”
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A compilation of 2018 for The Aces would be coupled with photos of their goofy tour moments alongside 5SOS, giving each bandmate the moniker “mogul”, and performing “Last One” on the MTV “TRL” stage. Little, red “SOLD OUT” signs appear next to various tour dates on the The Waiting For You tour announcement, officially marking the exciting entrance into 2019 for The Aces, Starting in Seattle in early February and finalizing in their home state of Utah at a nearly 2,500 capacity venue, the band will embark on happily rocking out with the community of devoted fans that they have formed throughout the years. Even within the winding world of a phone call, one realizes that they always have a sisterhood intact within them. They laugh at inside jokes and finish what each other was going to say, as if they have a symbiotic mind-reading superpower. That indestructible bond allows each of the band members to share their thoughts about empowerment, animatedly talk about their fans and excitedly look forward to the future and the plethora of shows they have yet to play. “The sisterhood that we have maintained has truly captured our essence as a band, we create a safe space for each other,” shared Cristal. “Even when we talk to other bands, we have noticed that people need to feel validated and taken care of. We have been able to maintain the band because we care about us and we care about each other,” she continued. The album channels the painfully honest stages of enduring life, whether that be through the drawbacks of unrequited love or uncovering the intensely personal thoughts about oneself. The Aces curate music whose lyrics lament in the background yet in the foreground color ones world like a West Coast purple-hued sunset. “Even if we tried to write self-deprecating lyrics, we won’t. We always gas each other up, we always make sure to instill confidence in one another because our music is an extension of ourselves,” said Cristal. The girls shared that the ability to interpret their emotions by making music will always act as a therapeutic outlet, not only for them but also for those that listen to their music. “Oh absolutely, our music is completely and totally our outlet,” shared Cristal. Katie Henderson added, “That’s what music is, it’s the power to heal. The more we do it, the more we have the power to do that.” “We never get tired of playing the same songs because I personally relate to them so much and it’s so cool when you have that moment to translate that energy to someone you see in the audience belting out the songs,” shared McKenna.
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Inclusivity is a subject matter that many musicians have tackled on to directly speak to the current situation of the world. The Aces created a Spanish version of their ballad, “Last One” for their Latinx fans to identify with. “We were raised speaking Spanish and our own father (Alisa’s and Cristal’s) was able to translate our song. It’s important for us and our culture and of course we wanted to have something special for our Latinx fans in particular,” said Cristal. “Even though Mckenna and Katie aren’t connected to the Latinx identity on the basis of ethnicity, they still took Spanish classes in high school and most of all of our friends growing up in Utah, were Latinx, so they have always found that connection,” Alisa chimed in. The Aces recalled vivid memories of seeing the audiences close their eyes and relate to their music, an energy transfer of sorts that embodies one of the principles why The Aces made their band—to empower others through the means of sound. The band even detailed an occurrence of meeting a fan after a show that shared that she got inspired to pick up the bass and start her own band after watching The Aces. Their awestruck reactions and moments of disbelief that fill the conversation are spurred upon by the disbelief that they truly are living in this moment, inspiring other girls shine through and show the investment and appreciative sentiments they have with their listeners and the harmonious bond they share. Within the confines of the music industry, women musicians are often reduced to their fashion opinions on beauty and fashion, rather than being full-fledged instrumentalists. Early feature pieces on Paramore’s Hayley Williams often went into lengthy descriptions about her dyed hair rather than quickly arriving to the point about her artistic integrity. Cristal shared how she felt about being a part of a band with powerful women alongside her and what they can do to try to shatter the boundaries that the music industry has carved out for women. “I think it’s going to be a process, we’re [female musicians] trying to break down those petty social norms. On our part, we can demand those spaces and stages. At the end of the day, what we can do is get up and show that we are authentic and honest musicians every night,” Cristal admitted. Cristal shared one of the bands mantras when it comes to confidence and empowerment, “We are living in a time where things are changing and a shift is happening but we have to continue to work our asses off, and then we will see that payoff.” The surefire star quality within each of the band members of The Aces is their authenticity and declarations of appreciation for their fans. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and their sincerity and sisterhood within their lyrics.
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STORY BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATTHEW ROBERTSON
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SOBBRS, Jesus A. Acosta’s artistic moniker, has enamored audiences with his anthemic ballads all throughout the hi-chroma project. His music emphasizes the vibrant electronic-pop that evidently leads to the impromptu solo dance routines in one’s bedroom. hi-chroma is a personal journey, one that celebrates the euphoria of love. Fast forward into 2018 and SOBBRS embarked on a gig alongside the ethereal virtuoso, Maggie Rogers and enamored audiences at SXSW. “Both were very surreal experiences. I didn’t apply to perform at SXSW because I thought I was too new and would get denied. I ended up performing at an official showcase with a ton of artists that I admire a lot,” Jesus says. “Playing at Stubb’s after Maggie Rogers was definitely the highlight of my 2018. She’s someone I look up to a lot and being remotely associated with anything she does is such a dream to me. I haven’t gotten over the nerves yet, but I gotta say they’re usually gone by the second song on my set. For me, it’s either give them a show or give them a show. There’s no other option.” The hi-chroma project showcases SOBBRS ability to tap into the diaspora of electronic-pop music and refining it to his own particular uniqueness. SOBBRS’s is diligently devoted to those listeners that put his songs on loop, amassing to more than 20K Spotify listens in his emerging year as a musician. An authenticity is found within tracks like “Forcefield” that induce the splendor of 80s movie dance sequences. “I feel honored and grateful that anyone would take the time to listen. I haven’t had a “hit” or “viral” single of any sorts so the fact that a small but amazing group of people keep coming back to it months after its release definitely means a lot to me.” Some artists stray away from public displays of sensitivity due to the redundant stigma that paints someone as easily susceptible to being hurt. SOBBRS fully embraces the concept that sensitivity and emotions aren’t subject to internalization, rather they should be showcased through one’s art. In his case, songwriting and implementing himself in the music-making process is the predominant form of catharsis and mindfulness. “I believe everyone’s end goal is always to evoke some sort of feeling. Songwriting acts as the most cathartic way for me to express what I’m feeling,” he says. “I tend to bottle everything up, which I know is not the healthiest approach, but writing songs allows me to let it all out and reflect.”
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Creating music is a cinematic effort within itself. A 35mm camera does not need to follow SOBBRS around to delight his imagination. His music speaks for itself as a montage of emotive lyrics and narratives that breathe in an aura of relatability with his audience. “I dream so big that most of my ideas are kind of hard to execute without a huge budget, but one day! Making music videos is like building a little world around your song and expanding your concepts so I can’t wait to do that one day,” he states. “Higher Power” is a track that has a magnifying presence in SOBBRS mind in particular, as the metaphorical exploration of the song has become engraved in his mind. SOBBRS goes on to discuss the personal relevance that a line from the track holds for him. “‘A fool could never see your pearl
cracks when it’s bitten through’ from Higher Power is one I’m proud of,” he says. “I think at the time, I felt like the only one who could see right through the person this song is about. It’s a convoluted metaphor but the gates I mention are the gates of heaven which are said to be covered in pearls. The easiest way to check if a pearl is real is using your teeth. Long story short, this was my way of saying ‘you’re fake and I don’t like you.’” The production on the hi-chroma record, constructed by both SOBBRS and producer, Tropen, is the perfectly assembled to suit SOBBRS perfectionist nature. Pretty sounds that bring to life the journeys that SOBBRS describes within his music. The production in this case does not cast a shadow on the lyrical chronicles, rather highlights them in the same symbiotic nature one sees on the Pharrell-produced Ariana Grande album, Sweetener.
“He [Tropen] is a genius. There would simply be no “hi-chroma” without him. I found Tropen on Twitter through a mutual friend. At the time, he was releasing one instrumental a day and I ended up listening through every single one until I found the song “Technicolor Terra” which ended up being “S.O.B” and I knew right then that I wanted to work with him on the whole thing,” he explains. “The biggest takeaway was that I learned to let other people into my creative process. He’s the first person I fully trusted to help me bring my vision to life. Truly a gem.” Tropen and SOBBRS’ production excellency is symbolic on tracks like “Shrine” where even the transition from SOBBRS slick vocals to a darker, more phantom presence alludes to an underlying, cryptic meaning. “Shrine” is my favorite song on the EP and it was so important for me to get it right. I wrote the parts to sound like that when I first started writing the song. This song was me gathering strength from a dark experience and I wanted that to be reflected in the song. It’s like grabbing your demons by the reins and being like ‘Thank you for making me strong.’ SOBBRS continues to fascinate listeners with a creative authenticity that is a rare commodity within the expansive music industry. Milestones were set in 2018, but 2019 forecasts envisions of achievements and infinite possibilities. In the particular case of SOBBRS, he is confidently cemented in finding his capitalized moniker on festival lineups, on a full-length album, and Spotify playlists across the globe. A growth in the reach of the SOBBRS community will inevitably allow unfamiliar ears to fall into his electronic-pop spell. “I want to do everything but bigger. I wrote a concept album that I am planning on releasing this year. The first single should be dropping very very soon,” he says. “I am changing gears, switching it up, writing better music, being more of a perfectionist, crafting a live show that acts more as an experience. I am excited to do it all over again but with more confidence and a clearer intent.”
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vista kicks STORY BY MICHELLE LEDESMA PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNA MARIA LOPEZ
Most narratives of twenty-somethings are often ensnared and then derailed by our consciousness, entailing the part of the story that seems only fitting for the public's eye; like the hardships, the failures, etc. For VISTA KICKS, it appears as though their struggles have yet to come because they've recently just released their sophomore album titled Twenty-Something Nightmare, and it is everything you'd hope for and more. With the nostalgic melodies you hear in "Million Dollar Seller," and "If I Didn't Have You," the band displays the true sound of the 60s and 70s rock with a modern grittiness to it that bellows their authenticity. Vista Kicks, based in Los Angeles, have since showcased their exceptional talents by touring along with bands and making a name for themselves in the ever-growing music industry. Their musical composition is almost made up of fleeting moments, nostalgic but also intricate; more so on the latter because of their general makeup and perspective to what they create. Not only do they persevere through the classic rock tones we can indefinitely hear, but if you listen thoroughly to their 18-track album, each song exhibits a different style of music, ranging from R&B, Country, and punk-rock influences; all of which is cultivated by making their unique sound. Vista Kicks is rewriting and creating the pathway in the industry that seems to be lacking true musical components. When asked about their sophomore album and the message they want their fans to convey, they merely stated, "We think itâ€™s just a reflection on the times we are living in as four, twenty-something musicians."
"we only stay true to the creative muse. sometimes we get in a swing and create
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Although Vista Kicks's career is to make music, they also use it as a cathartic release as most musicians often do; encasing the brief moments of their solidarity with the most therapeutic form of understanding and displaying their love to their fans. Their fans are a significant impact on what they do. When speaking of their intricate sound, the band stated, "We try to create without borders, meaning, we don’t have a formula or a distinct process that we repeat for the sake of production. We only stay true to the creative muse. Sometimes we get in a swing and create a certain type of way and then weeks later, change the process completely. We are proud of what music we put out.” It's not a difficult thing to imagine Vista Kicks continuing their career and branching out with collaborations, but they prefer to keep writing and making more music. They excel above expectations with the more music they make and it seems as if this is just the beginning of their journey. From performing an incredible rocksteady performance on Billboard Live to a sold-out show at The Troubadour and performing multiple times at SXSW— Vista Kicks is making their mark in the industry, and there's no stopping them. In all fairness, they've been in the eye of the music world for quite some time. Before the band's time of conceiving in late 2015, they were already making music and sharing it with the world. It only took an ounce of willpower to provide the world with their single "Make It Real," superseding over 2 million Spotify listeners, which then led to the band's decision to form. It appears their breakout year was 2018, but 2019 is going to be a whirlwind of ever-flourishing success and more for this band. Be sure to keep an eye out.
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way out west PHOTOGRAPHY BY AIDAN DOYLE
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elujay STORY BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY DARRELL JACKSON
ELUJAY is an inventive artist carving out his own lane with an innate ability to sing, rap, and write songs that both have messages illustrated through them and celebrations of the beauty of instrumentals and soulful vocals. Beyond the individualism found within his music and the fact that he strays away from the elusivity of big labels, Elujay has a deeplyentwined connection with his Oakland roots and the impacts the city has brought upon his artistic journey and his signature sound. The manifesting gentrification in his hometown of Oakland, California is audibly illustrated throughout the Jentrify project. “I originally wanted to name my first LP Afrocentrik. However, I was super devastated by the effects of gentrification in Oakland, and I felt a need to use my platform to lend a voice to those directly impacted by this issue. “Songs like 'Onetime!' and 'EBMUD' were a direct reflection of my frustrations.” The false implications of “progression” masked within gentrification that disproportionately affect the black community are acknowledged on “Onetime!” as he raps, “I just wanna take it [Oakland] back, no suit and ties or corporates.” Recording tracks like these acts as both a direct form of resistance to the waves of racism that follow gentrification and acts as another embodiment of vulnerability via narrative sharing.
On the importance of showcasing vulnerability within his lyrics, Elujay states, “Vulnerability is important because it lets the listener become immersed in your songs and understand the value of your art. A listener might see your music as the soundtrack to that moment of time in their life, and it’s something that they’ll cherish forever. If you can be vulnerable with your art you can win lifelong support.” He vividly describes how one of his latest tracks “Starchild” emits his vulnerability, which is something many artists tend to shy away from in order to uphold a curated, resilient persona. Elujay is a living and breathing example of artists that highlight their sensitivities and vulnerabilities within lyrics, as those are traits that all of us have and are impart what make us human. He states, “My favorite lyric is off of “Starchild”, on the bridge, when I said "When the stars don’t shine for you, girl / Got you looking right past the moon / And the sun, for the place in the shade / Oh the simple things, always complicated / We’re only made of stardust / Oh no, she be on this earth / Won’t you come down for me." “It was very vulnerable, because it had to do with finding the simple things in dark places and realizing we’re only humans and the simplicity in existing is beautiful itself.”
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"If you can be vulnerable with your art you can win lifelong support."
Across the collaborative track, “Soul Food,” crafted alongside Chicago rapper, Saba, Elujay discusses the tangible, first-hand experiences with racism and police brutality. The lines “Hands up, don’t shoot / I know you want too,” solidify horrific realities that Elujay himself has faced. “I am a victim of police brutality,” Elujay says. “I was called the N-word and thrown onto the ground by a cop in a case of mistaken identity.” A songwriter has the power to inform others about injustices via musical narratives and educate them about actualities that they don’t regularly encounter and might only read through news articles. “It’s important to use your platform to share your experiences with people, so they can be aware of how racism isn’t a thing of the past and is still widely used in this country to suppress people of color,” he states. Moments of intensity balance the proclamations of affection and love that couple the groovy production on standout tracks like “Locked In.” His COLORS show debut, where he stands in front of a rose-colored background and belts out lyrics about love captured the attention of viewers enamored by his versatility. “Locked In” is my favorite song to perform live — I feel really groovy, especially when the bassline comes on — people automatically react to the funky groove of it. We originally wanted to do “Starchild” on COLORS, but “Locked In” made more sense at the time.” Recently, Elujay opened up for Ravyn Lenae’s show at UC Santa Barbara, his performance left a lingering connection between the artist and the crowd. As permanent smiles and slight head swaying passed through the audience like a tidal wave when Elujay performed melodic records “Locked In” and “Starchild.” Elujay’s own happiness derived from performing in a live setting was visually mirrored through the audience composed of early 20-year-olds. “I fully love being myself and immersing in the crowd’s energy,” he states. “The feeling you get when
people react positively to your music live, it’s a feeling that’s unmatched. I love the overall vibe of playing with my band and having their energy on stage. Although at points, I'll be nervous about how the first track will start, I love the confidence we have when we finish off the set strong.” The sounds of Outkast’s iconic Speakerboxxx/The Love Below reverberating on the highest volume characterized Elujay’s childhood. Elujay’s own track “Mrs. Jackson” subtly references the legendary Outkast hit, “Ms. Jackson,” off the 2000 Stankonia. Naturally, artists begin to imagine what a collaborative soundtrack with their idols would end up figuratively sounding like. For Elujay, thoughts of an André 3000 collab album are composed of, “A 3-part funky jazz song with him going crazy on the saxophone — him also singing about existential stuff, while I’m bringing vibrant melodies about being on psychedelics. We would have to be on some kind of wave to create my most desired collaboration ever. I definitely sing now more because of him.” Snippets of everything from love to responses on the pillars of discrimination portray the thematic complexities that Elujay sings about. Music centers as a way to have an honest conversation with one’s listeners. “I do believe that my music and good music, in general, is our direct language of projecting the way we see our experiences. I want the sense of relatability to come back in music, and I'm trying my hardest to be that person for the listeners,” he says on the empathetic power held within music. Jetting off into a new year, Elujay aspires to keep ascending on his artistic trajectory by releasing new music. He enthusiastically states, “I’m excited to tour with my band Adojio," and to touch as many hearts and souls out there in 2019. I want to be healthy, and have fruitful relationships` with my friends and loved ones. I hope my music reaches the stars!”
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russo STORY BY NATAŠA KVESIĆ PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASHLEY SERYN
With the new year already in full swing, the rush of anticipation to receive new music from upcoming artists of the past year is slowly overwhelming fanbases. With newly formed band RUSSO, there has been an exponential growth in their following since their debut album release last July. With seasoned singer Cailin Russo—who has released a couple of singles, most notably 2017’s “September Rose”—as the band’s lead singer and songwriter, there are some solo projects that fans could use as a reference for what the new band would sound like. But as Local Wolves talked with Cailin, it was shared that the band was created during a creative transition period for the lead singer herself. Since their spur of the moment creation, the band has gone on tour in North America and the UK, and has opened shows for singers Jessie Ware and Madison Beer. “The band was formed after I was auditioning players to play with me solo. Since that didn't really ever work out, I had already met a bunch of fabulous players and had written a new project full of live music ideal for a band, thus Russo was born,” said Cailin on the creation of RUSSO. On their debut record, House with a Pool, Cailin was the sole writer due to the spontaneous assembly of the group. Its lyrics stretch from stories of heartbreak to fierce independence, riddled with confidence within one’s sex appeal and unabashed bouts of desire. There’s no single genre the album can be placed under, which puts the band in a particularly advantageous spot from the get-go.
In the future, whichever direction they choose to follow musically won’t necessarily be expected, but it’ll be welcomed and embraced with new ears. This variety in their music is partially due to how Cailin approaches the artform: “My approach to music shifts constantly with the waves of my life. This past year has been has been so high and so low, and I think I was constantly trying to swim alongside the waves. I think continuity is maybe the most important thing as an artist, because we're constantly experiencing new things and wanting to share.” Cailin’s high regard for continuity is reflected in a song that’s situated towards the end of the album. Entitled “Apeshit (Interlude)” and vastly different in sound than the rest of the album, this song was created as a solo project before RUSSO existed, but was incorporated into the debut album. “It was so undeniably me and I didn't want to completely let that part of myself go yet. We didn't want to commit to a whole project like that or even a full song, but it was it's own interlude as it is so special,” explains Cailin. By carrying through a piece of her previous project into a newly formed venture, Cailin was “riding the waves”—so to speak—with a reminder of how quickly plans can change and that there are still ways to continue while equipped with what you already have. And continue on is just what Cailin did with her new bandmates Haley Brownell, Sean Ritchie and Tyler McCarthy.
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The process of getting music out and having live shows scheduled was just as quick as the creation of the band. When asked if there was pressure to put out music as soon as possible, Cailin replied that there definitely was: “We were offered an opportunity and started touring only a couple months after the band was formed. There wasn't much of a point (except practice and experience) to be touring without being able to offer music to our fans. The whole timing wasn't ideal, but it was a big opportunity and I believe it was what was meant to happen!” Since then the band has gone on tour around the United States and most recently around the United Kingdom. Their first show was opening for a singer who could rightfully be compared to the grit and sultriness of Cailin’s voice: Jessie Ware. “The only thing I can remember is being really scared, and then comfortable and then exhausted,” recalls Cailin. As for the future of RUSSO, there seems to be no plans of slowing down. After a wild 2018 full of milestones that any new band would dream of, the new year holds endless possibilities There will definitely be new sounds, new collaborators and new imagery for this next season as we're constantly evolving and needing to explore different forms of expression and sound!” said Cailin. Until then, hold House with a Pool close and ride the waves into the future projects that RUSSO has got in the making.
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"I THINK CONTINUITY IS MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING AS AN ARTIST, BECAUSE WE'RE CONSTANTLY EXPERIENCING NEW THINGS AND WANTING TO SHARE."
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local wolves features
your favorite color STORY BY LAUREN SPEIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELLIOTT DESAI
WHAT LED THE FOUR OF YOU TO PURSUE MUSIC? All of us have naturally grown to live unordinary lives and strive to make an impact on the world around us. Life can also seem so foggy at times. We hope to make people feel understood and allow them to feel moments of clarity through our music. HOW HAS YOUR HOMETOWN INSPIRED YOU/INFLUENCED YOUR SOUND? It’s hard to say because all four of us come from very different backgrounds. Matt felt like an outcast in Utah when it came to his music taste but he couldn’t help but love alternative music like The Strokes, Phoenix, Cage The Elephant, Gorillaz etc.; David on the other hand grew up on Interpol, Muse, and bands like Queen of The Stone Age, hence a dark rock influence. Ari is the most similar to Matt in music taste but also grew up loving bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lastly, Nicky fell in love with 80’s dance/goth music but also carries a punk rock background. These influences naturally show when we bring songs to the band, creating a mesh of alternative 80’s synth rock.
MATT / LEAD VOCALIST
WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE AND EXCITING PART OF THE PRODUCTION PROCESS? The most exciting part about the production process is the start and the end. Although, the growth of the song is plenty exciting, it can be tedious trying to work out the kinks within a song. When the skeleton of a song is first created, there is no better feeling then listening to it back to yourself for the first time. The rawness of the expression is so genuine and fulfilling. But, we have found it is important be careful when showing it to new ears. Due to the fact that the song is not finished, a majority of people can’t see what is special about the song which can potentially cause self-doubt towards a track. IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU USE VISUALS/MEDIA TO
ARI / BASS
SUPPORT YOUR MUSIC? We are still working on the best ways to influence existing and incoming fans, but we mostly use social media to document our journey. We try to make it look as clean and professional as possible, but still use raw material to give people the real sense of the journey. Ultimately, we wouldn’t exist without our fans, therefore, we are all on this journey together. We want to make as many people as we can feel a unique connectivity.
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WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN SONGWRITING? The most important thing to us when we write songs is to write music that we would like to listen to. We try not to make any rules besides that. ARE THERE ANY SONGS THAT WERE WRITTEN DURING THE PRODUCTION OF YOUR EP THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT? IF SO, HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT WAS INCLUDED? Every song we have recorded made it onto the EP. It was a very last-minute process as far as finishing the songs then releasing them.
NICKY / KEYBOARDIST
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR STYLE CHANGING OVER TIME? DO CERTAIN GENRES OR ERAS OF MUSIC INSPIRE YOU? We notice that over time our music doesn’t change too drastically because we naturally view each song as very different from the last. We are constantly trying to explore the almost endless avenues of how to create music. Every song that we end up using is created as if we put all of our minds into a gumball machine, inserted a coin, and randomly got a color.
IS THERE SOMEWHERE YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY? All of our favorite bands have played places like the Hollywood Bowl, Lollapalooza, or Bonnaroo. But we will play anywhere people want to see us. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR SHOWS? WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU WANT YOUR FANS TO HAVE? We try to practice at least three times before a show to make sure that we can play the songs perfectly. Although, we don’t always play perfectly, it is nice to have a raw aspect to the live performance. We want to make people feel like they can dance in a crowd of burning souls, but at the same time feel comfortably alone and understood with the music. WHAT WOULD YOU TELL KIDS WHO ARE FORMING BANDS OF THEIR OWN? Do what you love and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Even if you don’t make a career out of music, it is so important that you always make time for what you love to do. Life will ask you to leave that part of you behind as you get older, but never lose that part of yourself and spread the message to everyone you can. Helping one another is one of the best things that a human can do.
LUKE / DRUMMER
“it is so important that you always make time for what you love to do.”
DAVID / LEAD GUITARIST
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love you later STORY BY MORGAN ECKEL PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN KANALY
Straight from Los Angeles, and now residing in Nashville, TN, Lexi from LOVE YOU LATER is not tied down to any sort of genre— rather taking inspiration from anything and everything to create her own dreamy and nostalgic pop sound. Having moved to Nashville to attend college, yet quickly realizing that it wasn’t the space for her, this past year has been challenging, but a year full of self-reflection and growth. “Creativity just can’t be taught. That’s what my new single, ‘Growing Season’ is about.” Having always loved music, it was clear to Lexi that music was always her biggest passion in life. “I was 100% meant for using my music to connect with humans. I want people to relate and resonate with my music so deeply that they want to smile or dance or cry, just some type of emotion— that’s when I know I’ve done my job. Especially in today’s society music can really play a huge part whether that’s positive or negative— our job as artists and musicians is to make sure what we’re trying to say in our art is bettering the audience.” Love You Later’s sound is so dynamic, with unique twists and turns throughout every song. Lexi describes her sound as something you feel like you can always dance to, even if you’re not the best dancer in the world. Drawing inspiration from artists like Paramore, LANY, and Fleetwood Mac, her surroundings play a huge role in her music. “Los Angeles and Southern California as a whole has really influenced my sound in a lot of ways. I mean, it’s what inspired my first single, “Lost In Los Angeles” in February 2017. Something about driving on PCH and the indescribable perfect weather and sunsets inspire me to create a dreamy sound that truly makes you feel something. The short amount of time I’ve been living in Nashville has definitely inspired my sound as well. The environment here is so heavily creative and my fellow
artists and friends inspire me daily. Even though I maintain a dreamy and nostalgic sound, creativity is never confined — so, I’m always reminding myself to never set boundaries or limits on what I can and will create. It’s so liberating when you find something new that feels like you and you long for the day that the world to hear it. That’s how I feel with this new stuff coming out and I don’t think I would have produced this new set of songs if it wasn’t for moving to Nashville.” A personal favorite is definitely “Emily.” It’s emotional and heartbreaking, but still has an element of playfulness matched with a beat you feel like dancing along to. Lexi agrees that it’s one of her favorite songs she’s ever written because it’s so heartfelt. “I really did put my whole soul into it. I don’t tell many people this but it actually took me 20 minutes to write this one— I couldn’t sleep one night because this boy was haunting me so I quietly got my guitar from the living room, snuck back into my room, and played the intro softly and the words: “Well you could still call me your lover, but when we’re with each other it’s different” just kinda flowed out of my mouth, subconsciously. The rest was effortless. It was weird but all of it felt right. There really hasn’t been a songwriting moment like that since then.” Some artists that are currently on Lexi’s radar? “I’m a huge fan of a handful of local, rising Nashville artists: Dreamer Boy, Spazz Cardigan, Hank Compton, Brasko, and Briston Maroney. I’m proud to say that Hank, Brasko (Jordan), and Briston are my pals— I’ve watched them develop as artists and I’m so confident that they’re going to do big things— I truly believe in them. They inspire me always. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to get better!” With 2019 freshly upon us, be on the lookout for Love You Later. Lexi has big plans and shares that there will be “lots of shows in as many cities as I can make it to, lots more music, a good time guaranteed.”
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"Surround yourself with people who inspire you to get better."
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PHOTOGRAPHY JASON KENT MODEL KIANA MANNING HAIR & MAKEUP KAREN CORDELL STYLING REI REI NGUYEN
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apricot Apricot. Seeking to express the symbol of tranquility, serenity, peace, clarity and melancholy, a beautiful contrast. Based in the atmospheres, colors and feelings conveyed by the paintings of Albert Joseph Moore and “Nostalghia” by Andrei Tarkovsky, it is the perfect example on landscapes and alone/tranquility feeling. Achieving this through a creative photographic composition, wardrobe, makeup, hairstyle and artistic direction. “Apricot” came from a painting from 1866 by Moore, making like an “ode” or tribute to the main inspiration of this project, his paintings. The word apricot is also a fruit. Apricots have their own fruit tree with other kinds of beautiful flowers, like the prunus.
PHOTOGRAPHY + ART DIRECTION
LOUIS F. COTA
KAREM VIZCARRA FRIDA ARVAYO
MODEL JOSELINE LOPEZ
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portrait of a queen
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGELINE DY MODELS: DIOR ANDERSON & MIAH JOSEY MAKEUP BY MEG O’HARE HAIR BY MIA JOHNSON STYLING BY BIN NGUYEN
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natasa kvesic, staff writer AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS INSTAGRAM: @NATASA.KVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY MEGAN KATE POTTER
LOCAL GEM: I’m in Amsterdam for university, and my current favorite place is the cafe on the second floor of the American Book Center on Spui in Amsterdam. There is this cozy nook right by a window that overlooks a mini conjunction of cobbled roads and a sliver of the nearby canal. I’ve met many interesting people there. For example, there was a handsome German guy sat across from me who lost his friends because his phone died and he asked to use mine—it didn’t work out. There was also an older American couple who sat by me once and we started talking. We talked for about half an hour. Turns out they live in Washington state—which is where I live too—and the husband grew up in a town about an hour away from mine. The owner of that cafe is Ethiopian and he makes coffee from Ethiopian beans and one time he explained to me the history of coffee and I consider him a friend now because I see him like every week. I also love Bakhuys cafe, it’s a short walk from my university and I have taken friends there and it’s just such a loving space. GREAT COFFEE.
ON YOUR FOLLOW RADAR: On Instagram my favorite accounts are: @iancurtisishungry @melissamccrack @differ.tv @beam_me_up_softboi
ON REPEAT: I cannot choose a favorite song, so I will instead offer three albums that have been on repeat for me: “El Mal Querer” by ROSALIA, “2012-2017” by Against All Logic and “Brol” by Angèle.
DREAM DESTINATION: I want to be invited to chef Francis Mallmann’s island La Isla in Lago La Plata, Patagonia. I have watched his episode of Chef’s Table at least 20 times and I am in love with everything about him.
CELEB CRUSH I have three, actually. The Adenuga siblings. Julie Adenuga, JME and Skepta. I have never before been so in love with three people that I do not know. Julie’s Beats 1 Radio shows—and her stand alone interviews with various artists—are intimate, fun and make me want to be a better interviewer. Throughout her career she’s always been about uplifting the rap and grime community in the UK, from starting her own music television show called “Play It” which was a platform for singers, rap and grime artists and poets to writing and presenting Skepta’s documentary for Noisey called “Greatness Only.” She is such a powerful woman. JME is a rapper and grime artist. He’s this multi-faceted human being that truly can dabble into anything he wants. His involvement in UK politics (watch his sit down interview with Jeremy Corbyn), his veganism and his witty rhymes on his songs are just a few things that made me the fan I am today. Lastly, Skepta. Where do I even begin...he’s just as creative and multi-talented as his siblings. He’s also a rapper/grime artist and I don’t think there is one song of his that I necessarily dislike? Besides music, he has put efforts into fashion design as well. For his first collaboration with Nike—entitled “SK Air”—he included colors that represented his Nigerian heritage, while still reflecting the London street style look that he is well known for.
YOUR HOROSCOPE SIGN: I’m an Aquarius. January 28th is my birthday. Check out @astrowonders on Instagram. Everything on there about Aquarians is true.
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we always make sure to instill confidence in one another
because our music as an extension of ourselves