local wolves â€” 1
apture your truth. Well, I sure did. In March, my sister kept talking about April 12th and this album called, Map of the Soul: Persona. When I was at work, I decided to listen to the album and let me tell you, “Mikrokosmos” had me shook to the core. Needless to say, for the past couple of months—I went to both days of their Rose Bowl tour dates and made so many pals through BTS. Those who know me, knows how my love for BTS has grown even more when I binged watched all of their music videos (my personal faves are “Boy with Luv” feat. Halsey, “Spring Day” and “Lights”). My dear pal, Nicole did a collaboration with Local Wolves titled K-Pop in America and its impact on the music industry. Let’s discuss this issue—it’s jam packed with curated content including Wallows gracing our 58th issue cover. They have been the most requested band to be featured and huge shoutout to our LW team (Penelope + Gabriella) for making this happen in Chicago! Our vision board for the cover shoot was based on inspiration by dreamy gaze auras and nostalgic vibes with a California flare. Definitely one of my favorite cover shoots this year and the band’s recent album, Nothing Happens is five gold stars. A yes in my book and do yourself a favor and listen! Enjoy the sun and the summer days. CATHRINE KHOM CATHRINE@LOCALWOLVES.COM
FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF @CATHRINEKHOM
ILLUSTRATION BY MIKI LOWE
local wolves • editor’s letter — 3
classics 02 08
10 16 24
pinpoint wolfie submissions
what to watch when
câ€™est la vie
the new narrative
trinity mouzon wofford
perspectives 68 88 94 130
summer vibes teresa k-pop in america nosakhere cash
ISSUE 58 / WALLOWS
local wolves is an independent digital and print magazine driven by the passion of storytelling for creative minds from diverse fields of work.
anita cheung @ineeeda vancouver, canada
swmrs @swmrs oakland, ca
bernadette beck @bernadettebeck_ vancouver, canada
the shakes @theshakesmusic long beach, ca
blair imani @blairimani new york, ny
trinity mouzon wofford @trinitymouzon brooklyn, ny
connie chen @concone san francisco, ca
wallows @wallowsmusic los angeles, ca
finneas @finneas los angeles, ca
weslee @weareweslee london / new york
gabriella hughes @gabriellahughes nashville, tn
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 outreach coordinator penelope martinez community coordinator erin mcdowell marketing coordinator elizabeth eidanizadeh social media coordinator keaton webb social media coordinator jessica spiers web coordinator tiffany ma music curator sena cheung web design jesus acosta logo lisa lok / fiona yeung cover photo gabriella hughes design / illustration annie lefforge, kelsey cordutsky, kendall wisniewski, lisa lok, miki lowe, jen klukas, jenny sorto, yoolim moon, sama al-zanoon contributing writers caroline edwards, danielle fusaro, erin mcdowell, geordon wollner, janavi kumar, jasmine rodriguez, kelsey barnes, mary retta, megan de guzman, michelle ledesma, miranda reyes, nicole tillotson, steven ward contributing photographers andrea gutierrez, anova hou, benjamin lieber, carianne older, connie chen, dillon matthew, ellie andrews, emily dubin, gabriella hughes, ishah shah, lilly duran, lucy blumenfield, rashelle campbell, sergio necoechea
patrick martin @patrickmartinmusic los angeles, ca raja kumari @therajakumari los angeles, ca sage mellett @sageybabey london / australia sierra capri @thesierracapri baltimore, md
website / localwolves.com twitter + instagram / @localwolves fb / facebook.com/localwolves read online issuu.com/localwolves print shop magcloud.com/user/localwolvesmag print design ads lisa lok lettering by colin webber (page 137)
local wolves • playlist — 7
PLAYLIST BY SENA CHEUNG ILLUSTRATIONS BY SAMA AL-ZANOON
local wolves • playlist — 9
new zealand PINPOINT COVERAGE BY CONNIE CHEN
I visit New Zealand last December because I can. Because that year I felt strong and healthy enough in my own body to take myself to where my favorite movie trilogy was shot. Because I wanted to feel like I was in Middle Earth and have the photos to prove it. But I soon realized I would not do this place justice with any of my photos. Being in New Zealand felt like something else, its own world, separate from all the places I’ve been or am familiar with. It makes sense since humans only settled on the islands around 700 years ago, New Zealand is one of the newest land masses to be “discovered.” It’s in a self-contained world, with humans populating some parts here and there. We get in a taxi to Queenstown in South Island and I’m surrounded by familiar things, my giant 56L backpack, my two friends. And although outside I also see things I recognize, like houses and cars, they’re set against the most unreal mountains, jagged and ominous and all encompassing. There are houses littered on the side of them, along with the shadow of the clouds, and faint rays of sunlight. I feel as if I’m almost in my own dream, and as I travel through the islands, there are moments when I don’t understand where I am.
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It’s the moments I have when I have an alone day, and I take the ferry to Rangitoto Volcanic Island, where no people live but is home to the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world. I hike up the volcano hill, amongst families and tourists and other strangers, past black debris and rock and ash, and growing amongst them are the beautiful Pohutukawa trees, with their vibrant red flowers extending out towards the sky. It’s when I’m on the Milford sound cruise ship and we line up for a buffet lunch and tomato sauce. We drink coffee and tea and eat from our trays. But step out onto the deck, with my small cup of diner-quality coffee, and suddenly we’re cruising right towards the most awesome waterfall, three times the height of Niagara Falls. The water is pouring down on us, torrents and roaring and we all scream and try to snap photos on our phones. But how can we hope to capture a place like Fiordland, a place that gets almost 200 days of rain a year, or even just a place like New Zealand, which lies at the boundary of two tectonic plates, getting such intense seismic activity that the zone is actually called the Ring of Fire. As soon as the photo is taken the land could already have moved from a small earthquake. I feel good that I was able to bring myself to New Zealand, to experience all these wonders and magnificent feats of nature. To see trees and bushes growing on the mountainside in the fjords, trying to survive, hoping to stay for a little while, as the peaks and earth is changing all around them. I’m in awe that people have found ways to access and enjoy these places that are so delicate, and that I can too. I climb up volcanos, paddle in kayaks, struggle through sand dunes, brave sudden rainstorms, swat away sandflies, all so I can have my own snapshot of New Zealand. I know that the next time I visit, it could be a completely different place.
local wolves • pinpoint — 13
â€” ISAIAH PATE / WINSTON-SALEM, NC
capture your truth WOLFIE SUBMISSIONS CURATED BY ERIN MCDOWELL
“Creativity in the Cracks” Creation will not come to you match the energy emitted and you’ll see, it’s always around like lucid cracks in the pavement, waiting for someone who’ll get close enough to allow the dark vulnerability to peek through. Now it’s seeping through your eyes. — MARIA KORNACKI / FARMINGTON HILLS, MI
— DILLON PHANTHARANGSY
Often, I prefer to be seen In two dimensionsJust close enough to wonder but too far to question. Eyes beaming with dismayOr strength? Who knows?
— OLIVIA COPPOCK / SEATTLE, WA
Who cares? she says to me, Her eyes piercing through the rosed glassthe same glare, in fact, that keeps me pliantDoes it even matter So long as they’re fooled? — ERIN NICOLE NICHOLS / LOS ANGELES, CA
Our true identity is a fickle thing, constantly influenced and changed by the inspiration we consume. It’s difficult to retain a sense of truth when we constantly compare ourselves to other people; other people we see as better or ideal. For me, writing has always been “my thing”, the place where I capture my truth in its most raw, genuine form. I never feel pressured or confined when writing, and I never feel as if I need to pretend to be someone else. When I’m writing, whether it’s a poem or short story, I am adamant about writing exactly what I think in my head, because that’s the only way that it’s real, authentic, and directly from my heart. Like many others in the creative world, I sometimes feel the need to compare myself to others in my field. I’m guilty of feeling as if I need to write more like the poets I see on social media or authors of books I read. However, just recently I decided that my writing and art was already worthy and didn’t need to be modified to fit an archetype determined by someone else. It’s because of this change that I’m able to capture my real, honest truth through creating - specifically writing. I remember reading a quote that said: “A character of your story should be a fractured identity of yourself, whether it’s an example of who you want to be, who you were or who you see yourself as in the present”. It resonated with me, more than just concerning characters in short stories but concerning any and all writing. I took it to mean that my writing should be pieces of a puzzle that when combined, reveal an image of my natural self. And if I am actually trying to create an unafflicted picture, every single puzzle piece has to be absolutely, unabashedly mine. I’ve always wanted to appear as if I have everything together and my life is
— ALEXIS KIM / SAN FRANCISCO, CA
in order. But creativity favors chaos, and I think my writing should reflect the beautiful instability that is real life. So my writing expresses the messy, unmanicured parts of my life; the parts I used to try so hard to disguise and hide. In order to actually do that, I tend to just keep writing until the words stop forming, without giving a care to the structure and rhythm until after I’ve put as much onto the paper as possible. The art of writing is unique in its inability to be executed through an equation which is why words can’t be inputted into a formula to produce art. That’s why it’s so complex and not easily mastered, but it’s how I’m able to capture my truth. It’s a struggle for me every day. It’s not easy. I didn’t suddenly wake up one day and completely change my mindset to embrace originality and imperfection. Nonetheless, I’ve come to understand that I am an artist because I create, and I don’t need to meet any criteria to earn that title. I earned that title by simply creating something out of nothing - art out of thin air, writing out of my thoughts. As I said, it’s a constant struggle I face every day. The doubt and insecurity about my writing abilities creep in nearly every time I start creating. Yet, I remember my 10 year old self dreaming of the day I ever got published or had my writing printed. And I remember how proud that young girl would be to see where I am today. I am not the greatest writer. I’m not the most creative writer. Nevertheless, I am a writer, and I am becoming better and more skilled every time I write. My work isn’t perfect, but my truth is worth capturing and my truth is this: I’m not perfect, I don’t have everything together, but I’m always working to become better. — SYDNEY BARRAGAN / LAKE FOREST, CA
— CARLA TORRES / PUERTO RICO “Within Me” My friend took a picture of me, on a disposable camera, when I wasn’t looking. I was staring at my reflection, outlining my face with my eyes, trying to erase the discrepancies between what people see and what’s within me.
— JIREH JALIPA / QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
My reflection paints a picture, somedays prettier than others. I have freckles that look like constellations you can see only when the sun shines. They are a disclaimer to those who wish to understand the galaxies within me. The local convenience store took the standard two to three weeks to develop the film. It was overcast for those few weeks. The constellations stayed in place, nothing new to add to the mix. But the galaxies were changing. Stars were bursting, creating only momentary light within me. The film cost twenty two dollars and eighteen cents. We left the store with twenty five photos in hand. It was only later that we realized each and every picture taken of me was blank. Every orb of light had extinguished. The pieces of glossy paper were dark. There was nothing left within me. — SLOAN PECCHIA
— ALYSSA FRAZIER / FAYETTEVILLE, AR
— STERLING MILLS / TAMPA, FL
— RILEY PHILLIPS / ORLANDO, FL
A truth universally acknowledged: it’s impossible to please everybody. As women, that includes ourselves. Last Sunday I had two conversations that stuck with me. That morning, it was drizzling. My sister and I went for brunch in a quaint café next to the flower shop at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. She’s 21, 2 years younger than me, and have been with her boyfriend for a little over a year. She’s brought up the topic of marriage before, they both wear promise rings, and are the type of couple you hang out with for half an hour… and know they’re endgame. Out of curiosity, I asked: “Has there ever been a moment when you didn’t feel like he’s your endgame?” She didn’t even pause to think. In less than a second, she said “No.” The night before, I’d received two printed magazines with my photographs on them (I’m a model). I signed a contract accepting the invitation to speak on this year’s Emerging Writer’s Festival (I’m a writer). I gave myself a small pat on the back before bed, said a prayer of gratitude to the abundant Universe. They both felt like huge accomplishments. Yet in the face of my sister’s honest answer, my so-called accomplishments felt like hollow, flashy news. In the name of love and grand gestures, I’ve flown to another country for lunch with a crush, offered to do LDR for someone I went on one perfect date with, hell, I’ve even said yes to dating an ex-criminal (who’s done a 180, I swear). I’ve never felt that endgame feeling about anyone, though. And during long baths in LUSH bath bombs or those 2 am stare-at-the-ceiling sessions, I often wonder if there’s something wrong with me. In my parents’ generation and my grandparents’ and their parents’ and it goes on… fostering a happy, healthy, long-lasting marriage and giving birth to a dozen babies are like the accomplishments. What’s more momentous for a woman than fulfilling her reproductive destiny? Than finding her one true love? Of course, those “heteronormative, child-centric ideals” (as Captain Holt puts it) are pretty much canceled in 2019. That night, the moon came out early. I was meeting a friend at a vegan restaurant. Was late to it, actually. She’s my age, engaged, and—I found out over that meal—moving to Adelaide to live with her fiancé. I congratulated her. She was excited but also nervous about the clean slate. She congratulated me about the magazine features. Our food came. When the EWF appearance came up, she sighed and let out a playful wail. She said; “Every time I hang out with you, I always wonder what I’m doing with my life.” As an ambitious, anxious introvert, comments like these tend to spark the same cycle in my brain: humility, gratitude… full blown panic. Desperately trying to scramble off the conversational pedestal, I said; “Being engaged is awesome!” I talked about how hard dating is (because
by god, if I match with another dull accountant on Bumble, I’ll scream), how blessed she is to have found her partner (he turned her into a love-struck pile of goo), how much I admire her for choosing to foster a strong, healthy connection with her partner. None of that is easy. We were locked in a compliment battle for a wholesome length of time. Somewhere along the way, I realized I’ve landed on a literal “tables have turned” situation. In my friend’s eyes, I was the epitome of an accomplished woman. Thriving side projects. Career wins. That independent, “no-need-no-lover” attitude. 2019 is the reign of BossBabes and HustlerQueens and every other Instagram hashtag that attaches our value to our productivity, financial status, and social media exposure. In her words, “I’m killing it.” The problem is, 2019 should (instead) be the reign of truth. It should be a time where women no longer feel boxed into narratives written by modern media or olden-day society. Where we can support our sisters’ unique paths while simultaneously enjoying our well-deserved moments of being supported. The women who inspire me on the daily live wildly different lives. Kalyn Nicholson—YouTuber and influencer, environmentalist, spiritual motivator. Adrienne Mishler—yoga and mindfulness guru, dog mom, writer of love letters that can cure your rainiest days. Valeria Lipovetsky—beauty and fashion icon, entrepreneur, model, mother of three. Yet what they have in common is their insistence to embody the path they’ve chosen—stumbles, hardship, wins, and all—with their chins held high. Even when the same uncertainty leaves them too feeling vulnerable from time to time. We can achieve the most objectively remarkable thing in everyone’s eyes and walk around feeling like a fraud. We can achieve the most mundane, “old-fashioned” life goal in our eyes and be a heroine to a sister in need. The hard-to-swallow pill, the goddamn truth is that our accomplishments are defined solely by us. And more often than not, we’ve set that bar to impossible heights. So, My truth on a good day? I’m a passionate, creative model and writer. I’m self-assured and an incredibly strong woman. I’m an empath and a dreamer. I’m a loving sister and dog mum. I’m an open-minded, fierce feminist. My truth on a not so good day? I’m addicted to the act of creation. I crave self-validation yet I’m my worst critic. Bad dates slowly corrode my faith in love. I still long for the prince/princess of my dreams. I’m a selfish, stubborn, anxious wreck. My truth on my best days: I am all of that. I give myself permission to be all of that, and more. — NATASHA HERTANTO / MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
— MOHAMAD AGHA / TORONTO, CANADA
I don’t call myself a writer, yet I write constantly and consistently so. Nothing incites as much emotion from my gut as this very simple action. Like planting a tree on soil replete of ideas and junctures to be reflected upon and a chance to bloom into a life of authenticity. But then I tear it from its roots. Destroying anything that is familiar and understood, where every ideal that I’ve conjured is flushed away in turmoil. Until I reach the surface of the cycle, that provokes me to grow and rebuild my mind over and over again in an eternal duality. This is who I am. An eternal paradox. — NATALIA VÁZQUEZ / MEXICO CITY — ALYSSA FRAZIER / FAYETTEVILLE, AR
Will You Dream of Me? Have you found your way out of the garden? Where flowers are dressed like mannequins? Where people wander around with balloons for eyes? Have you spent time with your gods? Are they among you in your throne of twisted bedsheets and wrinkled clothes? Are they in your dreams and in your blood and in your bones? Do you know what it means to feel alive? Can you understand why you love? Can you understand why you hate? Do you think about what happens when the curtain closes? Should we weep at the end of time? Should we turn into the arms of another? Shadows fall over my eyes I can’t feel my hands Dust settles I can’t hear my heart Stars die — AVIS HITCHCOCK
— KASEY ELLIOTT / PORTLAND, OR
I ask you again, Will you dream of me? — LEANDRA PURVIS
uncaged: guerrilla girls
WRITTEN BY JANAVI KUMAR ILLUSTRATION BY KENDALL WISNIEWSKI
A naked woman stretches and she wears a gorilla’s head. I stood in front of her, resting my feet from the endless stairs I climbed in lieu of waiting for what I imagined were slothoperated elevators. (This, those beautiful, silvery, snailinspired elevators, is the only complaint I will launch against London’s Tate Modern Museum. The biggest, noisiest chef’s kiss to everything else.) It was then that the humpbacked old man next to me decided to read, in a slow and warbling voice, the entire gorilla-woman poster out loud to an unsuspecting audience, which consisted of me, my tired feet, and a young man staring at the wall opposite. “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.” He turned and smiled at me, before nodding impressively at the boy next to me, who had the sense to understand he was being, somehow, rebuked. “Hm. Oh! Yeah, I…yeah, that’s fucked.” The old man nodded again and left, as mysteriously as he had appeared, allowing me and the boy the chance to exchange an awkward smile-grimace before turning to the exhibit together. There were several posters: a list of art galleries that showed “no more than 10% women artists or none at all,” a detailed code of ethics for art museums, and amongst others, a letter on the side reading, “Dearest art collector, it has come to our attention that your collection, like most, does not contain enough art by women. We know that you feel terrible about this and will rectify the situation immediately. All our love, Guerrilla Girls.” The Guerrilla Girls, who brand themselves as feminist activist artists, are unfortunately correct. The group — think Anonymous but replace Guy Fawkes with gorillas — formed in New York City in 1985 and are once again on the rise as they wage art war via “culture jamming” within the community in efforts to highlight the dichotomy between the consumption of art created by marginalized communities and that of their white male counterparts.
This culture jamming, which includes the reconfiguration of fashion statements, memes, and other modern artifacts of commercial culture, brings up statistics that range on a scale from unsurprisingly depressing to alarming: for the same work, female artists make 81 cents to the male artist’s dollar; 87% of permanent collections of the most prominent art museums which feature over 10000 artists are men. 85% are white; only 13.7% of living artists in North American and European galleries are women; the list goes on. One book published by The Guerrilla Girls, The Guerrilla Girls’ Art Museum Activity Book, (which also has fun little quizzes, if you’re that type of person) details “artrageous” ways of how the everyday person can shine a light on these statistics, and make a trip to their favorite (probably sexist) museums into a socially conscious jaunt worth its own exhibition. (Worry not, it’s all legal, which adds to the fun. Or takes it away, depending how you look at things.) I watched the boy read the posters. “That’s fucked.” It was an easy, universal, and almost cop-out, way to show support: “That’s fucked,” read the wall, move on. But I wonder now, is it his fault, really? Could it be mine, too? When I really thought about it, isn’t it the old man’s fault more than anything? The people who set up these museums in the first place had more in common with him, after all. But placing blame, albeit accurate and instrumental in making me feel a whole lot better about myself, has little value in terms of moving forward. To encourage women as artists, not only as objects of study for seemingly altruistic or snobbishly aesthetic purposes, will require more than just equity in the minds of exhibit curators and museum goers. It will also require the undoing of a widespread social thinking that regards female art as a household hobby and male art as highbrow. If you’re discouraged or intimidated, you’re not alone; this is a lot to ask of a single person. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure how to go about doing it. But while we’re figuring it out, what art lovers can do is take a leaf or two out of The Guerrilla Girls’ Art Museum Activity Book the next time you hop on over to the Met or another museum on the Guerrilla Girl’s Hit List. And, you never know, maybe you don’t need to be naked to get into the Met. Maybe you just need a gorilla mask. There’s only one way to find out.
local wolves • classics — 25
WRITER’S BLOCK, BRAIN FOG, BURNOUT. Creativity ebbs and flows like everything in life. Sometimes it’s more productive to consume something instead of forcing yourself to create something. It might be the spark you need to reset your creative flow. Here is a list of films that inspire me to get out of bed and do something amazing.
WRITTEN BY MEGAN DE GUZMAN ILLUSTRATION BY SAMA AL-ZANOON
FUNNY GIRL (1968) Directed by William Wyler • Screenplay by Isobel Lennart Barbra Streisand stars in this film as comedian, Broadway performer, and film star Fanny Brice. Despite being told her legs are too skinny and her nose too big, she transforms from a girl with a dream, to a woman with her name in lights. After seeing Streisand’s iconic performance of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” you’ll feel unstoppable.
BOTTLE ROCKET (1996) Directed by Wes Anderson • Screenplay by Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson As the auteur’s first feature film, Bottle Rocket is the most modest of Anderson’s career. Shot in their home state of Texas, and starring the Wilson brothers before they were famous, this film is a testament to following a dream. You don’t need a lot of money or resources to follow your passion. Even the masters start right in their own backyard.
ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) Directed by Cameron Crowe • Screenplay by Cameron Crowe This semi autobiographical film by Cameron Crowe is more than a nostalgic trip to the 70s. It follows young journalist William as he is thrown in the middle of the rock and roll music scene. Crowe himself finished high school at age fifteen and began writing for Rolling Stone magazine. This film dismisses age and proves that you are never too young to get your dream job.
LEGALLY BLONDE (2001) Director: Robert Lukatic • Screenplay: Amanda Brown This classic romantic comedy is a staple in my movie library. It reminds me that you never have to do what people expect. You are the only one that can decide who you are going to be. If I ever feel lost, I just ask, what would Elle do?
WHIP IT (2009) Director: Drew Barrymore • Screenplay: Shauna Cross This all-female roller-derby film will give you your daily dose of girl power. This is film is special not only because of its abundant female energy both in front of and behind the camera, but also because of its message. Just like Bliss in the movie, when you feel lost or alone, remember that eventually you will always find your tribe. It’s a tribute to chosen family wherever you find them.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013) Director: Ben Stiller • Screenplay: Steve Conrad Based on the short story of the same name, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty lets you fall back in love with life. It reminds you of all
the beauty in the world, in art, and in people. The philosophy of this movie is summarized in this quote: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” Walter Mitty urges you to discover this purpose.
WILD (2014) Director: Jean-Marc Vallée • Screenplay: Nick Hornby & Cheryl Strayed Wild is adapted from the true story of Cheryl Strayed and her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is about healing, self-exploration, and doing things you never thought you would. Cheryl reminds us that no matter how tough it looks, you’ll always make it out the other side.
HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) Director: Theodore Melfi • Screenplay: Margot Lee Shetterly Set against the backdrop of the Space Race, Hidden Figures makes visible the African American women behind NASA. Though it took decades for these women to be recognized, their work changed the world and what we know about it. This movie reminds me that hard work may not always be appreciated, but that does not mean it is any less important.
LA LA LAND (2016) Director: Damien Chazellei • Screenplay: Damien Chazelle La La Land pays tribute to all the dreamers and doers in Los Angeles. It is a paradox, a heartbreaking musical that is both wonderfully magical and unapologetically realistic. Ultimately, it is a story about falling in love while chasing your dreams, how what is meant to happen always will.
SING STREET (2016) Director: John Carney • Screenplay: John Carney & Simon Carmody Have you ever wanted to run away to London and start a band? Sing Street takes place in 1980s Dublin and follows young students as they discover New Wave, eyeliner, and themselves. It reminds me not to take things too seriously and to always put time into doing something you love.
FREE SOLO (2018) Directors: Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Free Solo was my favorite movie of 2018. I sweated, laughed, and cried through the entire film. It is so inspiring to be able to intimately watch someone push themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally to literally climb their biggest mountain. Alex Honnold makes you forget the excuses and do the thing that scares you the most.
local wolves • classics — 27
c’est la vie WRITTEN BY KELSEY BARNES ILLUSTRATION BY SAMA AL-ZANOON
why we need to tackle the impostor syndrome monster It’s likely that there is a monster living in your head that you didn’t even know was there. It likes to whisper words of doubt every time you are proud. It likes to remind you that others are doing better at exactly what you love to do. It likes to make all of your insecurities big and your accomplishments small. This monster has lingered in the minds of women like Lupita Nyong’o, Tavi Gevinson, and Emma Watson, and this monster’s name is Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is something that has impacted my entire life (and probably yours, too!) but I’ve never really seen it, talked about it, or heard about it until a few years ago. The term was created by two female researchers, Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes, and can be defined as “a psychological pattern in which a person doubts their accomplishments and has an internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” It impacts all of us to an extent; young people question their accomplishments because of their youth and older people feel that they are too late to be accomplishing things that younger people have accomplished ages ago. Even when we work hard, get dirt under our fingernails, and lean into our endeavors, we still have this feeling that all of our success is just dumb luck. For creatives starting their careers and leaning into their art, whether that be in music, photography, or writing, impostor syndrome has a way of creeping in. Since impostor syndrome causes people to doubt our work and success, our mental health can suffer from it; by double-guessing and doubting accomplishments or by scrolling through feeds and comparing to other people, anyone can begin to feel that they are not good enough or talentless. Moreover, many people who do struggle with their mental health also struggle with impostor syndrome by downplaying their mental health or not speaking out about their struggles at all out of fear that they are not as bad as others. How do we start allowing ourselves to not only embrace our successes, but to actively celebrate and be excited about our achievements?
1. Make the monster small by supporting yourself and others. We make the impostor syndrome monster smaller and smaller by acknowledging the accomplishments made by both ourselves and those around us. Start implementing the shine theory, a theory created by writers Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. Shine theory asks us to lift each other up and help one another shine together rather than succeeding alone. By acknowledging the work of others, it will help us look at our own work and acknowledge the good in it, too.
2. Embrace your success. Instead of downplaying your achievements, celebrate them! You did the work, you survived the long nights and early mornings, you pursue your passions and created something out of it, so you deserve to celebrate moments in your career that are meaningful to you.
3. Be kind to your mind. While you go through ups and downs in your life and career, remember that it’s important to be kind to yourself. There will be moments when you will want to compare yourself to others, days when you lack motivation and inspiration, and moments where you will question whether the hard work is all worth it, but even in the lowest points you have to be kind to your mind.
4. Capture Your Truth. Figure out what makes you different and don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion, including the opinion of the I.S monster. How can you live your truest life and be the true you? There is a magical feeling when you realize what you’re meant to do with your life. Capture that feeling and don’t let go.
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femme WRITTEN BY ERIN MCDOWELL ILLUSTRATION BY JENNY SORTO
The act of creating has always been limited by the gender roles within our society, though rebellion against these limitations has always been present. In the early days of modern art history, female painters, artisans, and sculptors were alive and well in the underbellies of society. Cohort sof female artists thrived in the liberal societies of Rome and various areas of Italy but were not nearly as highly recognized worldwide compared to their male counterparts. If one was to name the most famous artists of all time, the mind might resort immediately to names such as Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, Monet, and Michelangelo. Though female artists have always existed, they are continuously forgotten. In the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent galleries alone, only 8%of the artists presented in 2013 were female. There is an undeniable disparity between the recognition of male artists and female artists, not to mention the overwhelming lack of representation for female and female-identifying artists of color, LGBTQIA+ artists, and the like. In many ways, the art world is still a boy’s club — and the millennial generation is striving to change that fact. With the rise of social media and more ways to share one’s art independently, be it photography, poetry, prose, or traditional artwork, there arei ncreasing opportunities for women to be recognized for their work outside of a museum or gallery’s walls. As a female creator myself, I have noticed first-hand the rise in women’s publications as a way for female-identifying creators to share their work and collaborate with like-minded individuals who value it. Modern women are taking back their power when it comes to how and why they choose to create. Creativity in the modern social media age has not only become an outlet for expression, but a rebellion against society’s expectations for what it means to be a female creator. The male gaze — often attributed to works created by men, for men, of women — has been challenged by the ever-rising presence of female artists in the public sphere. For many female artists, depicting female nudity is a way for women to take back what was once used as a commodity or something to be looked upon by a male viewer, and has now been transformed into a brand of artistry that is truly empowering. As a female-identifying writer, I capture my own truth in my work by speaking to my own experiences in their truest form. By not writing what I expect others want or even expect to hear, I am speaking my own truth. In today’s climate, this type of honest creativity has never been more vital. Female creators have a responsibility to create art that is reflective of their own experiences in the hope that this work has an impact on others. It is my hope that as more female and female-identifying creators share their work with the world, more individuals will be empowered todo the same. Art is for everyone, and the act of creation should not be limited to one gender, sexual orientation, income level, or even level of artistic experience. By sharing one’s own perspective through written words, photography, or art, you are empowering others to not only feel seen but be emboldened to have the same courage. Every person, regardless of their gender identity, has a unique experience to share. My advice to creators — tap into what is brazenly honest and unique. Sometimes, capturing your truth through your own form of creation can be downright scary. Opening up the wounds of our past, the darkest parts of our experiences, and the hurt parts of our souls can be intimidating, but oh, so liberating. By capturing and sharing these parts of our truth, female and female-identifying artists can empower others to share their own unique perspectives and challenge what is typically thought of us as the feminine experience.
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etchings WRITTEN BY DANIELLE FUSARO ILLUSTRATION BY JEN KLUKAS
It is midnight. Rain is spattering across my windowpane, and I can hear my neighbor’s wind chimes whirling. On nights like these I think of my mother, her soft voice reminding me to think of all the animals outside – the red foxes curled up in their dens, the blue jays huddled in their nests – and soon I’d forget about the whipping wind and fall soundlessly into a dream. I think of my gentle, resilient mother too, as close up Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living. I had picked it out at an indie bookstore because of its mustard yellow cover – a color that an acquaintance once told me was the aura I radiate – and because the bookseller told me it was the last copy in store. Now, in my bed, I can feel the warmth radiating off of the book, like a candle of some kind. I feel illuminated – about my relationships with men, about the sacrifices of motherhood. Levy’s vignette-style memoirs are bursting with life, and all the pains of that life, as she reflects upon balancing the responsibilities of motherhood with her desire to have a separate space to write, and another space to live, after her divorce. As she contemplates the inner-workings of her relationships with men and women, I contemplate mine. I consider my own creative process, and the ways it has been interrupted and often hindered by a desire to be a good girl. A soft writer, with dainty, precious words. Words that do not hurt, but soothe. Levy, though her writing is precious, uses this fragility to push against the expectation that she sacrifice her writing for the satisfaction of someone else, for the perpetuation of the status quo. Suddenly, the rain is no longer bothersome. It is fierce, and heated, and beautiful in that heatedness. My laptop glows from somewhere in the dark, and I’m compelled to write for no one else but myself. It is midnight. The rain is fierce. I lay with my back against
my striped comforter, eyes dwelling on the leak stain in my ceiling. I’ve clicked on Kiana Ledé’s 2018 EP, Selfless. The range of her voice whirls up my body, the lyrics clinging to my toes, which are now pointed up towards the ceiling, kicking like I used to do with my little sisters, giggling away as a song ran its course. Ledé talks about the realities of womanhood. Its confusion, its complexities. I got not trouble with my pride, got trouble cutting ties. Wanting to talk to an ex without feeling like you’re disempowering your heart, or other women. I keep holding on. Toxic relationships, perpetuated by both parties. I always seem to get my way way too late. She reminds me to be selfish. I don’t remember being told to be selfish as a young woman, but here it is, making me kick my legs to Kiana’s soulful songs. I feel myself leap, out of body. I’m free to put myself first. I stand in front of my mirror, the rain entering into the music like it was always a part of the tune. I let my hair out, ruffle it up, spin around on my carpet. Like Kiana, I am human, I am flawed, I am not an object. Like Kiana, too, I am beautiful. She makes me think – what is it I want? I hold my breath for a moment. I realize I’ve never been asked that before. I pull out my journal and my favorite pen, the one that feels right in my hand but bleeds through the pages a bit. I start writing a list.
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the new narrative
We are always looking for ourselves. Along the way we lose ourselves time and time again, as we learn how to let go and how to forgive. Through her art, Deun Ivory offers us a place of solace as we embark on the journey to ourselves. Co-founder of lifestyle brand Ivory + Ash and Art Director of Black Girl in Om, an online resource and community that encourages “self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment for communities of color,” a multidisciplinary artist and creative visionary, Ivory always aims to bring her full self into the spaces she occupies. “My space is central to my identity,” Ivory started. “Also, my love and admiration for black women, because for so long I struggled with loving and embracing my black identity.” Ivory’s work exists to guide us on our way to our bodies and our beings in a powerful visual space that is raw and, above all, loving. Portraits captured by Ivory of women around her enable us as women, as women of color – as people – to see beyond the woman in the photo and recognize the beauty in ourselves. Framed in close proximity, soft romantic tones emanate from her subjects, allowing Ivory to powerfully captivate audiences and challenge roles society has constructed and assigned to women of color.
Ivory steadily reminds us that beauty manifests in limitless forms and intricate designs, derived from spaces as unique as whom they hold, and that not every journey is the same. A gentle reassurance from Ivory: “Your past does not define who you are.” Each of us has the power to learn from past experiences, to frame them as an opportunity to grow, and share what we’ve cultivated as knowledge, so that others may learn, too. Ivory’s journey began after completing college, unsure of herself and clueless as to where her path would take her next; homeless and floating from couch to couch. In the face of uncertainty, Ivory found her passion through photography and came into her first successful project, made possible by a friend, that propelled her into a new life. A simple act of kindness, the recommendation of a new opportunity, delivered Ivory into a space where she could not only be kinder to herself, but in turn, act as a blessing to others. Now, Ivory is creating new spaces and writing her own narrative to share knowledge and provide experiences that didn’t exist when she needed them.
“Empowerment is something that is so important to me because for so long I didn’t know my power,” Ivory shared. “I went through a lot of traumatizing experiences that rocked me so much. But now that I’m in this space where, [although] my confidence is still a journey, I’m talking about or celebrating black women all the time through my work, and then in some type of way, I’m affirming you, whoever you are.” A role too often posed as oppressed and overlooked, Ivory is working towards changing the dialogue directed towards women of color. An open mind and heart keep Ivory moving. Her most recent work, a series entitled “The Body: A Home for Love,” is a collection and organization dedicated to creating “restorative healing experiences for sexually traumatized survivors of color,” combining art, storytelling, and activism into a single experience. The series delves into the world of healing and restoration of the self – how to come to terms with these experiences and how to rewrite those stories along the way. After receiving the 2018 VSCO Voices grant, Ivory took to the sky, traveling where she could in search of black women of whom were sexually exploited at some point in their lives, particularly in their youth. Each session shared with her subjects is meant to act as another part of the healing journey. “Their stories are essential to who they are,” Ivory shared. Each woman depicted as part of “The Body: A Home for Love” is a survivor, a source of power and comfort for anyone else that may need to be recognized, their pain acknowledged. “I always tell my subjects ‘This isn’t just for me, it’s for you,” she added. “It’s about making her feel like her best self.” Ivory has a way with translating the energy of her subjects into something more. Each portrait is an expression of self, of the most organic element of being, that demonstrates resilience, strength and passion. Viewed in intimate settings as a traveling art installation, “The Body: A Home for Love” reminds us that healing takes time. It means protecting yourself, while not being afraid to voice your desires and your needs. Speaking life into her audiences, Ivory travels with her work, entering communities to pour love and affirmation into every soul in the room. The root of healing is a source of hope – much like adding ginger into hot tea to stop a turning stomach, journaling on a cloudy morning or putting on a favorite record to set a worried mind at ease. This body of work has given Ivory courage to love herself, to inspire her subjects to love themselves, and extend that love unto us, the viewers. “Being a visual storyteller is about creating experiences between spirits and energies and allowing myself to be transformed and inspired by the people I’m in conversation with,” Ivory said. Throughout the creation of “The Body:
A Home for Love,” Ivory has discovered more of what it means to be an artist and the implications that has. She has established a space for herself to create; a space for herself, and for those who wish to enter, to release any lingering negativity and unexpressed emotions. As an artist, to Ivory, “everything has intention. Storytelling requires a lot of intentionality, a lot of mindfulness and keeping people at the center of it all.” By breaking problematic social norms within the black community and developing new communities to strengthen those already in place, Ivory is redefining what “home” means. Once without a home, she has come full circle, having dedicated her passions to “creating a life that brings joy. A life that helps you to be aware of your home at all times.” Home to Ivory is “to be absolutely submerged in love.” It is finding love and truth. “In order to capture your truth,” Ivory started, “you have to know what your truth is. That requires a lot of self-awareness and introspection; and a lot of discomfort, a lot of being real with yourself.” And through this discomfort, we make the most magnificent discoveries. We find ourselves. “Be honest about where you are in your journey. Have integrity. Be authentic and [show] that you have nothing to be ashamed of -- nothing to hide,” Ivory stated. Loving yourself, your whole self, is the most important thing you can do for yourself, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from. “Through God – I am able to give myself what I need,” Ivory said. “[The idea that] you are whole, you are loved unconditionally. You have everything you need to thrive to live in abundance and elevation…Everything that you are pursuing or chasing after, you already have,” Ivory added. There is wisdom and knowledge everywhere, embedded into every fiber of our being. We just have to ask ourselves to be brave enough to share it and, even more importantly, to listen to it. To listen to others when they are speaking and to allow ourselves to speak our truth. Our stories have the power to manifest change and bring about new ways of thinking, of finding empathy, and of connecting more deeply with those around us, so that we may strengthen ourselves and our communities. Remember: healing takes time. Eventually, we will learn how to acknowledge pain and still continue onward, though it hurts. We will find community. We will find solace. We will own every space we walk into, head held high. WRITTEN BY GEORDON WOLLNER ILLUSTRATION BY JENNY SORTO
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WRITTEN BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUCY BLUMENFIELD HAIR AND MAKEUP BY HALI MCGOWAN STYLING BY KHIAMMA PTAH “We can only do so much as individuals but together we can make vast change,” SIERRA CAPRI states. “There are parts of Flint, Michigan that still don’t have water, school shootings are at their highest rate and police brutality has yet to stop. We can only do so much as individuals but together we can make vast changes.” She opens up conversation about the state of the country, something she has already learned to navigate in the ever-polarizing world as a 20-yearold actress of color. On My Block has registered with a wide scale of fans, partly due to its dedication toward inclusivity and familiarity. The actor’s portrayals have certainly left a mark on viewers and is the reasoning as to why the coming-of-age show became increasingly popular--everything from Capri’s earnest portrayal of Monse to Diego Tinoco’s unequivocally nerdy approach to Cesar. Differing from her character, Monse’s South Central, Los Angeles destination, Capri hails from the East Coast with most of her formative years unfolding in Georgia. “I was born in Baltimore, Maryland but raised mostly in Georgia and that's where I did my self-tape. I was going into my last year of college when I saw the casting for On My Block online. When I was an extra on the film Hidden Figures, I had met a woman on set who was a self-tape coach and I remembered her and reached out for her help. Acting was something I always wanted to pursue I even wanted to go to an arts college, but my parents asked that I get a degree in something else first before pursuing an acting career. However, my love and passion for it was so strong I couldn't resist trying. Since I was in my last year I definitely want to go back eventually and finish, but right now I’m focused on my dreams and what I’d like to accomplish,” she states. For most of Capri’s life, she found herself being an introvert in a family that honored the pillars of faith, honesty, and manifesting your aspirations into reality. Assessing those spheres of determination that were quickly supported by her parents, she only began formulating a game plan to star in roles as she was a student in arts college.
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IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT AND CONTINUE TO HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF, IT CAN HAPPEN.
“The biggest lesson I have learned is that I have more control over my destiny than I realized. If you put your mind to it and continue to have faith in yourself, it can happen,” she states. Breaking down those initial walls of insecurity and self-doubt that prelude the stages of achieving one’s dreams are imperative, yet they often do require that little push both from yourself and your support group. Declarations of self-love manifested into tangible realities for Capri, realities that gravitated her towards the lead role in one of the most popular Netflix series. She attributes her own ascribed ethos and values to her family’s testaments to love and honesty. “I come from a very loving family and was close to both of my parents. They always kept me grounded and mindful of what’s important in life and worth your energy and what’s not, which has been very helpful since being in the entertainment industry,” she says. “However, spending my childhood in Baltimore exposed me to a couple of realities that definitely helped shape my character. You always have to be on guard, and Monse is usually ready for anything.” When Capri finds herself dealing with moments of mental exhaustion and painful reckonings, especially intertwining student life and working as an actress, she finds herself turning to the monumental women in her life. “There are a couple of people, definitely my mom. My mother has always given me the best advice. She's my rock and continues to help me become the best version of me. Ironically, Lisa Marcos who plays my mother on the show is amazing and has given me some great advice as well. Also, Wendy Davis is a mentor of mine that I know I can talk to,” she says. On My Block is the brainchild of Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, and Jeremy Hatt. Capri’s character, Monse, chronicles the narratives of Los Angeles youth culture and friendship in the confines of a stratified neighborhood. Monse’s willpower instills inspiration amongst the mass viewership the show has garnered since it’s release in 2018 and has cultivated Sierra Capri’s presence as a breakthrough actress. On My Block is a masterful depiction of reality with the harsh blurred lines and the awkward run-ins that make up being a teenager. There’s a level of humanization that Capri and her castmates bring into the characters that breathe in universality that anyone can find themselves relating to. “I have so many great memories with the cast that it hardly feels like work. Definitely scenes between Monse and her
mom are usually the hardest to film because I have a close relationship with my mom, so it was challenging at times,” she attests. Capri found an intersection between the headstrong Monse and her personal introverted nature. She attributed playing Monse as a form of a therapy that counteracts the paradox between her genuine self and the character that she plays on screen. “To make the transition I honestly just stayed close to God and asked that he kept me focus on my end goal and not get distracted by things that come along with being in entertainment. In all honesty nothing has changed in my life other than the fact I met the cast of OMB and get to call them family. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. In real life, I’m quite shy and a lot older than my character so when I got the opportunity to play Monse it was like therapy. Being able to be almost the complete opposite onscreen of who I am and in a different mind-frame lets me be free to all emotions and movements,” she states. Carving a world for herself in On My Block and the current film she is working on, Capri projects that her future will reach pique fulfillment once she dabbles in each genre and attains her degree,“There are so many things I’d like to do. However, I want to continue to be a part of meaningful projects that will start conversations or bring upon change. I’d love to do a film in every genre as long as the story resonates with people. A goal outside of acting is definitely to get my degree, as well as become more involved in the community,” she states. Sierra Capri’s armor is her ambition and self-awareness. “I think the biggest misconception people have is that since you’re on a T.V. show now the world is at your feet and that's not the case. There is a lot of work involved and discipline required. Not everyone is going to be in your corner and have your best interest at heart, so you have to be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Luckily, I have always been aware of who I am and since I love what I do anything I experience is a lesson that I’m grateful for,” she says. Capri has expanded the image of actresses of color– one that is not defined by monolithic stereotypes or generalizations. She has tapped in cornerstones of her own personality to represent characters that are on their own personal explorations of figuring out the complexities of friendships and living in a world that harbors hate and prejudice. Ultimately, speaking to finding glimmers of hope within harsh realities.
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WRITTEN BY MARY RETTA PHOTOGRAPHY BY SERGIO NECOECHEA
They say a lot of things are needed to make good art come together: timing, skill, location, and sometimes even donuts. In the case of one up and coming band, all of these were true. Globally emerging musical duo WESLEE is proof that sometimes, art is simply meant to be. Not too long ago, fate brought Midwest native Josh and London songstress Emma together in New York city to create their band, Weslee. Between Emma’s smooth vocals and powerful lyricism and Josh’s brilliant sound editing and producing, the two form what they like to call the “joint brain” behind the band, working together to bring Weslee’s music to life. It’s difficult to pin down Weslee’s distinct sound, as the band succeeds in making music that defies time, genre, and category.
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“If we had to describe our music in a few words maybe we’d say mood, honest and authentic,” Josh and Emma reflect. “‘Mood’ because whatever we write comes from the mood or vibe we are in at the time it was created, everything we do changes based on the mood we are in or the energy we are feeling on that day. ‘Honest’ because everything comes from an honest place, the stories are real, whether they be personal experiences or friends experiences, they are all real. ‘Authentic’ because whatever we do we want to make sure it stays authentic to us and who we are. We hope it connects with everybody.” It seems their wish has come true; Weslee has a huge, diverse, and global audience. Their music has topped charts in Europe as well as in the United States, probably because their sound is so eclectic. “The way it all started is still pretty cool,” the two recall. “‘Gassed’ premiered on BBC Radio 1’s “New Names” and then 24 hours later became the “Hottest Record in the World.” That’s the first time that has ever happened.” This crazy chain of events is just further proof of the band’s infectious sound and the artists’ ability to connect to so many different people. Weslee has a song for every vibe; while “Bathwater” or “Sweat Dreams” will make you want to dance around with your friends, ballads like “Tongue Tied” will put you in your feels. Emma’s voice is uniquely beautiful, bringing grace and power to every song. Coupled with Josh’s funky sound mixing skills, the band brings joy, calm, and authenticity to their listeners, connecting with them in a real and honest way. Aside from putting out bop after bop, Weslee has a number of other creative projects. Over the past year, the band has put out several videos for songs such as the pensive and artistic “Bathwater” and the joyful and colorful “Sweat Dreams.” The band also has a beautifully curated instagram to not only promote their music and concerts, but to illustrate the band’s kooky personality. “Santa has his elves and we have Artie,” joke Emma and Josh. “We had been talking about having our Instagram be one big collage for a long time. Our friend Arthur is the brain behind our Instagram feed, he will put ideas together and send them to us and then we tweak it until we are all happy. It seems to be working! It feels like it represents our personalities and us but in a visual way.”
MOOD HONEST AUTHENTIC
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â€œit all inspires us even if we donâ€™t realize it at the time,
Just as the duo suspected, Weslee’s fans are clearly drawn to the band’s grounded and relatable presence. Josh and Emma speak to getting inspiration from the simple things in their lives. “We’re inspired by everyday life experiences but also other creators, going to a movie, reading a book, looking at pictures, talking to each other or talking to anybody,” they admit. “It all inspires us even if we don’t realize it at the time, it all comes back around.” Although Weslee has seen massive success already, the artists are scheming for even more, and some of it is just as zany as you might have imagined. “In a few years hopefully we will have that doughnut show we’ve always wanted,” the two artists joke. “Don’t want to give away too many details but we both have a love of doughnuts. It’s actually one of the first things we bonded over. The doughnut show hopefully leads to a doughnut shop. Oh yeah, and we are still making and putting out songs!” Weslee is wacky, different, and heartfelt, and fun – their music connects with fans in a really special way. Be sure to give them a listen soon, as this duo is sure to blow up before we know it.
it all comes back around.”
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WRITTEN BY GEORDON WOLLNER PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILLY DURAN
The reality is: we never stop fighting. Fighting for what we want, fighting for who we are, and fighting for who we want to be. Sean Perry and Syd Tagle of Southern California-bread, Long Beach-based band, THE SHAKES, know this fight well. Experiencing death and the fragility of life while leaving childhood and entering the throes of adolescence branded the kind heart of Perry from the onset. “I think that taught me to appreciate life a lot more,” he shared, reflecting on that point in his life. “People always ask me ‘Why do you write about death so much, Sean?’ and it’s because when I first started writing music, 15 to 18 years old, that’s what brought it out at the time — [And I learned] to be more appreciative of where we live and how we live.” The extended period of time that had seen endless heartbreak and the loss of loved one, after loved one, during those young years for Perry had shifted his world tremendously, yet kept his family looking for better days on the horizon. “My family has always been so optimistic,” Perry adds. “My dad is one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met and he always tried to look on the bright side of things. Even to this day, we still talk about life lessons that my grandma and grandpa and both my aunts had given me.” Tagle experienced a different kind of loss. “I used to be a worship leader when I was in high school and when I came out, they asked me to stop serving,” she paused. “That broke my heart. I loved serving and helping other people and when they told me I wasn’t able to do that anymore I was really torn apart. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But that kind of showed me that you can’t let that stop you
from pushing on from making music or doing what you want to do. I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I had stayed, hiding who I really was, just to remain a worship leader. I thought I was going to be welcomed with open arms and I was terrified. I remember I was coming out at summer camp and I had the worst stomach pain — the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, I had to be sent to the ER because I blacked out. It was probably the most painful thing I’ve gone through.” Despite the losses and the heartbreak, Perry and Tagle, alongside members Tanner Henderson, Levi Matulis, and Cameron Pearson, have been able to find the light of hope and home through music and the little moments shared with those that matter most. The friendships and relationships they hold close — the strong bond Perry keeps with his niece Avalon — inspire every part of their world. Through their deeply rooted lyrics and dreamy ambient sound, each Shakes song envelops you in an atmosphere of self-awareness, reflection, and reassurance that, yes, it’s okay to feel something. Their 2018 With Every Moment EP carries the weight of longing and grounded emotions, while remaining light by the way of a hopelessly optimistic sound. Most recent releases, “Heaven (Doesn’t Seem Too Far Away)” and “Underneath a Blood Orange Sky,” gently guide you into a space more private — more intimate. These two songs mark the beginnings of their “From The Bedroom” series, an intimate playlist-meets-b-sides compilation of relationships, family, and friends. Each song lives in its own dimension, recognizing the changes and transitions of life, aiming to connect to the listener through the stories that unfold from the lyrics.
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“no matter who you are, no matter what you are, you are yourself, and there’s nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it.”
Pages and pages of inner thought pour out of Perry and Tagle, constructing these delicate and tender moments. “I’ll bring the skin and bones to a song to [Tagle] or she’ll bring it to me, we’ll flush it out from there, then we’ll bring it to the guys and see if they have any input,” Perry shared. Each member of The Shakes, lives interwoven and connected, leave their own personal, unique mark on Shakes work. Perry and Tagle divulged that Matulis is one of the best beat makers in Southern California — and he can sing. “He can, but he won’t do it!” Perry exclaimed. “[He] brings a lot to the live show; he’s in charge of tracks and makes sure everything runs smoothly.” (Apparently, Pearson doesn’t get a mic at all and Henderson tells good jokes.) No matter the scenario, with a mic or without, The Shakes have found solace in being on stage with each other. “I feel it at any point we’re playing music or making music — whenever [Perry] and I sit down to play a song that he came up with on the guitar and I’ll sit down at the piano and we’ll just start jamming,” Tagle recalled. “Or we’re on stage, look down and see our friends out in the crowd.” Perry remembered selling out a hometown show and the crowd singing along: “I could step away from the mic and people were singing lyrics that I wrote, you know, a year and a half ago in my bedroom. People showing support like that really means the world and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable on stage than I did that night.” Simply put: The Shakes are working on creating a more authentic world. “It’s like, okay, how do we make something that sounds different than what everyone else is doing right now?” Perry questioned. “Vulnerability is an asset to being a musician. If you have no vulnerability in your music, then what makes it personal? What makes it authentic?” he added. The authenticity and personality each Shakes track holds is a
multi-layered reality, reflecting the trials and tribulations of the lives of each member and offering the opportunity for anyone listening to let go, remove their inhibitions, and remember how to feel (and that it’s okay to feel). “I want to be able to not only inspire myself with my lyrics, but if I can also inspire other people to do the same, then that is my world. That is the reason why we’re here,” Perry states. “If I can speak for people with my lyrics — if I can save a life — that’s enough for me. That’s my truth.” This truth knows no limits, whether it’s in service of self-expression or trying to break down misconceptions of others. “Being a woman in a highly populated male industry is really tough and they think you can’t do anything and they think they’re better than you. And it’s frustrating,” Tagle shared of her experiences. “And I just say like, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I can’t do what you do. Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I can’t do what you do. Don’t judge a book by its cover. I hate to be a cliche, but you know, give people a shot.” This is the life we are given. Not everything we do will be in our control or go according to plan. What we can do is take a note from The Shakes and learn how to take our miscommunications and losses and transform them into something beautiful, that others can connect to. We can learn to embrace the knots in our stomachs, accept ourselves, and find the strength to share our stories. “No matter who you are, no matter what you are, you are yourself, and there’s nothing you can do to change that,” Perry stated. “So make the best of it and stick with anybody that says you’re special, because everybody is special in their own way.”
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WRITTEN BY CAROLINE EDWARDS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANOVA HOU
When it seems the world can’t stop spinning, it can be hard to take a moment for yourself. Whether you’re overwhelmed with work, struggling with your mental health, or just need to take a moment to breathe, it can be hard to remember to pause, take a step back, and refocus your energy. Meet ANITA CHEUNG, a 28 year old Vancouver-based freelance creator. Cheung knows all about being overwhelmed and dealing with mental illness, which is why she created Betty, a meditation subscription service run through Instagram.
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LEARNING TO FOCUS ON WHAT WAS ACTUALLY HERE IN THIS MOMENT, RATHER THAN GET SWEPT UP IN MY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS, WAS EVERYTHING I DIDN'T KNOW I NEEDED
“Meditation can be instrumental in keeping us emotionally afloat during a tumultuous time and helps us connect with our ‘inner road map,’ as cheesy as that sounds,” Cheung explained. “It also can aid in quieting the negative thoughts, shows us what we really need at this moment, and teaches us the compassion to be with ourselves whenever we feel like we’ve messed up — which is bound to happen.” As a meditation teacher, Cheung “works to create positive habits and community through meditation and friendship.” After struggling with undiagnosed mental illness for much of her teenage and young adult life, she sought professional help: a therapist. “It was frustrating because I was always a straight A student and to feel as if my mind — which had always been my greatest asset, was turning against me — was absolutely frightening.” It was during therapy that Cheung was introduced to meditation. She noted that although she had been a yoga teacher since graduating from university, she never practiced meditation. “Learning to focus on what was actually here in this moment, rather than get swept up in my negative thoughts, was everything I didn’t know I needed,” Cheung reflected. With that, Betty was born. Betty aims to keep meditation light-hearted and something people actively participate in. Through the subscription services, users practice morning ‘beditations.’ That is, meditation from the convenience of your bed, five times a week, for 15 minutes through Instagram Live, known as the Betty Broadcast. For Betty users, it’s more than meditation — it’s a community. Through the creation of Betty and Cheung’s story of struggling with mental illness, the company is adding to the conversation surrounding mental health, as Cheung said the most helpful thing is to talk about it so that the topic is less taboo. “The more people see the different faces of mental health, and how symptoms can show up in different ways
for different people; for example, depression can look very different amongst POC, the more normalized it becomes, which means folks will be able to identify it in themselves and their loved ones,” Cheung shared. Cheung credits Betty for helping her, but said it’s also important to have a community to support you and be your advocates. “Find people who will be on your team,” Cheung noted. “This can be a team composed of health professionals, friends, or family. It is exhausting to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for yourself, especially when you are struggling with mental illness, so having folks who can pick up where you left off and advocate for you is so important. There were days where I didn’t care about myself, but knowing that I had to care for someone else, or that someone else cared about me kept me going.” Although Betty is run on Instagram, social media and meditation don’t go hand-in-hand, as studies show social media can actually worsen your mental health. “The actual act of meditating is easy to balance as it’s really only 10-15 minutes a day,” Cheung pointed out. “Working in branding and being on Instagram for work can be a challenge, but I’ve learned to set really good boundaries around my social media use. My personal social media is strictly that — purely personal.” When Cheung isn’t busy with Betty, she’s working on other personal projects. She runs not one, but two companies, with multiple side hustles. From brand and website design, photography, teaching yoga, supporting women of color, and running Betty, there’s little she can’t do. Cheung’s work has changed throughout the years but that the intention remained the same: “to connect people to themselves, and to connect people to others.”
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As a freelancer, Cheung doesn’t have a typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. Instead, she wakes up at 5:30 a.m. for Betty Broadcast, does emails, makes breakfast and waters her plants, then gets the day started at 8 a.m. and works for 12 hours; however 5 hours of the day are actually truly focused and productive, but everyday is different. “I acknowledge that life happens in season,” Cheung sighed. “Some months will be quiet or full of social opportunities, and some months will just be so busy I'm barely getting six hours of sleep. In those cases, I take a big breath, buckle down, and get ready to fully embrace the storm with the knowledge that everything is ephemeral.” The hardest part of being freelance? The financial insecurity. While Cheung noted her privilege, she shared the reality of
being freelance. “I'm in my ‘late 20s,’ five years after diving into self employment [and] entrepreneurship, and I'm finally beginning to earn a living—though there are still considerable debts that have to be paid beforeI can even think about the "life goals" that my peers are currently in.” With all the uncertainty in being freelance, Cheung views running her own businesses as an ongoing process that can grow and change over time, which is why she’s letting Betty transform into whatever it evolves into.“ For Betty, it's one big happy experiment so my intention is to continue with that—seeing what lights folks up, how do I make meditation something people actually want to do, and how do we build community in a digital space.”
Bernadette Beck WRITTEN BY MICHELLE LEDESMA PHOTOGRAPHY BY RASHELLE CAMPBELL STYLING BY CHEYENNE HOFFMAN HAIR BY CAROLYNNE COLLYER MAKEUP BY MARIA RENÉE WALTON
It’s a dazed Wednesday morning. The coffee fumes gliding around my nose like toddlers doing the parachute exercise only partially rouse my senses. But the moment I begin to speak with BERNADETTE BECK, her gleam of a presence radiates through the speaker of my cell phone and dazed is no longer. In life itself, we bring characters to fruition– as writers, artists, actors, even musicians– from beyond the book hidden beneath the seams of your headboard to the television in your living room, and then eventually to the big screen. We live with these characters as much as we observe them. Perhaps, we are these characters just living in the real world as the mere image of them only adheres to what we feel. The incessant rummaging between what’s real and what’s not; to experience the most and to showcase the best that is what Beck aims for in every role she lands. To portray a character in its full form, one has to pull remnants of real moments, and she does just that. Born into an era of flip-phones and the uprising of The Spice Girls and deciding whether or not the choker fits, Beck’s family migrated from the UK to Canada shortly after her birth. Since then, Beck has been introduced to the many wonderments of life partaking in hobbies like piano, violin, and even dabbling in vocals. There are no imbalances in Beck’s career as she continues parading in on her journey through acting. With her first recurring role on CW’s Riverdale as the character Peaches ‘N Cream, this only implies that she’s just warming up. The pinnacle moment of her career is nearing, and if not already met, Beck states she’s eager to begin working on new projects and take on multiple roles on enticing characters. There’s no undermining her ability to succeed. It’s only a matter of what’s left in store for Beck to showcase. She has immeasurable talent, and it shows with each episode on Riverdale that airs and the previous roles she’s played on The Good Doctor, Psych, and more. It’s difficult enough to be held accountable and noted for the excellent job already done, especially for a woman who is as talented as Beck. Being a woman in any industry is like going up a steep hill abundant of obstacles, all which are made either to drive you to success or simply dishearten the strength women already possess. Beck has allowed herself to plummet directly into the industry with courage and there’s no hesitation in her passions. She’s relied solely on her instincts to get to where she is now and that alone hints to the question of, “What’s next?”
SKIRT AND SHIRT: SANDRO / JACKET: DRIES VAN NOTES / SHOES: DOLCE & GABBANA / EARRINGS: ZARA
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There’s no undermining her ability to succeed. Quite often, the looming possibilities of what’s to come can seem daunting, especially for one who has appeared to just come out of the woods and into the light. But for Beck, she finds this notion not to be daunting at all. Elated with future ventures, she uses the opportunity of being part of Riverdale as a stepping stone stating, “That question of what’s to come isn’t daunting. I’m actually excited to take on more roles and play more complex characters. For me, playing complex characters interests me, I get to play someone I’m not. And that’s exciting.” With all that came before playing Peaches ‘N Cream, Beck was landing roles on Psych as the character Veronica and was a stunt performer long before The Pretty Poisons’ girl gang of Riverdale came to fulfillment. But all before acting was at the forefront of Bernadette’s career, her love of coffee took her backpacking in Central America and then finally, into the vast terrain of Nicaragua. With that came the sudden idea of shipping organic and fair trade coffee beans to Canada. Hence the birth of the two-person coffee and tea company, Teagosa. Though little is said about Teagosa, she’s working on a rebrand and hopes to start documenting her journey. Beck is a woman of multiple trades; she acts, she’s musically talented, she has her own company, and this is only the inception. She is the exceptional vision and role model for all twenty-somethings that are trying to mark their territory in today’s harsh society. You can now watch Beck on CW’s Riverdale as Peaches ‘N Cream, and an upcoming movie that’s still under works. We’ll be here waiting, teething the insides of our cheeks to see what next she has to offer.
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ABOVE Jacket: Ellery / Shoes: Balmain Earrings: Zara / Tights: American Apparel RIGHT Sweater: Kenzo / Skirt: Marine Serre Shoes: Gucci / Earrings: Zara LEFT Top: Andrea Crews from Secret Location Pants: Esteban Cortazar from Secret Location Shoes: Stella McCartney / Earrings: Zara
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blair imani WRITTEN BY GEORDON WOLLNER PHOTOGRAPHY BY BENJAMIN LIEBER
In a world that all too often flashes the same faces on the screen, BLAIR IMANI is there to challenge what those faces have taught us about ourselves. Identifying at the intersection of Black, Queer, and Muslim, Imani is a force to be reckoned with. Her actions help us to redefine our past and reclaim ourselves in the here and the now. A leader amongst contemporary activists, writers, and historians, her voice has crossed over throughout different movements and moments, time and time again, giving aid to the support and recognition of the oppressed and the silenced across the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. “We are constantly called upon by a society that doesn’t make space for us,” Imani pointed out. The demand for action and level of acceptance is unequal. Understanding the world we live in, taking note of its strengths, its weaknesses and its expectations, can inspire us to do more to create a place that is better for all. For Imani as a historian, this understanding is rooted in the past. She figures digging through archives is to scavenging through the five dollar bin at the thrift store. Uncovering those moments previously lost to us and neglected by history is much like coming across a delicate, spotless silk scarf, buried by stained polyblend knits and appliquéd sweaters at the bottom of that dusty forsaken bin. Discoveries like this change Imani’s approach to each story — what has already been written, the source of inequality, of no shared equity, and what we’re writing today is altered forever. More than this, Imani is defining a sense of place and purpose. Those that seek to take the agency away from others, those against progress, cannot touch the past and the power it holds. “People have always been oppressed over history and they’ve overcome,” she stated. “It always makes me feel encouraged. Good will prevail. [What we can do] is look at what happened and learn from it.” These lessons learned stem from her exploration into lives and histories, from going deeper into the bin, and draw in teachings from her present faith practice, enabling her to discover new ways to live a life not just for herself, but also a life for others. Throughout time, our beings and ideas have been interwoven and knotted together. From these knots, a whole is formed, enabling us to establish a sense of self and identity from one another and allow ourselves to take on our truest form (or at the very least, attempt to do so). “Education is the starting point,” Imani said. “People tend to form identities of themselves, then learn about others, or they see experiences reflected back to them and identify with that. [This gives us the opportunity] to reinvent, then strengthen, the wheel to encourage individuals to live full and enriched lives.” Our identities, hundreds of years in the making, have been built up, knocked down, poured out, and filled up, all to lead us to this moment, now. With her first book published in 2018, Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History, Imani approaches our underappreciated “living history” — the stories of extraordinary women and nonbinary people of whom are taking action and making changes that impact our lives today.
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The book acts as a “chronicle of people.” A careful curation of influential individuals of our time, Modern HERstory highlights different perspectives through stories of action and passion about people we already know — actress Amandla Stenberg, singers and songwriters Tegan & Sara (of whom also happen to have written the foreword to the book), Janet Mock, young fighter for Flint, Michigan, Mari Copeny, and Missy Elliott, just to name a few. In 208 pages, the work connects these incredible individuals and their stories to facilitate action and inspire dialogue within communities that strives for change — for progress. “I remember this girl had [told me she] got the book and was using it to explain gender to her parents,” Imani shared. “[If I can create] a resource to make others lives easier, to be used in a tangible way, that’s something to hope for. They can use it in ways I could never imagine.” This work, along with a soon-to-be-published (expected in 2020) book about the Great Migration, highlights Imani’s thoughtful and determined consideration of capturing the most authentic, genuine side of every story. Her acknowledgement of both past and present force us to focus in on the time we have to make a difference, encouraging us to seize our moment whenever we can. Fighting for herself and for others that may identify parts of themselves within her own story, Imani has tirelessly dedicated herself to a number of renowned LGBTQ+ organizations, such as the Tegan and Sara Foundation and GLAAD, amongst many others. Her work as a supporter and advocate drives an active role within and with-out of her community and, like the rest of us, she is still learning. Imani is witness to what makes an individual activate — take action — from the eyes of the historically marginalized to empowered students to skewed privileged perspectives many take on, claiming spaces they don’t have rights to. Even with the accessibility social media provides for us, giving us direct connections to supportive organizations
and resources, personal narratives are simultaneously lost amongst daily noise and manage overtake any space they can, leaving no room for other ideas or considerations. The skewed, privileged perspectives seem to consistently overpower the perspectives of the oppressed, of those trying to speak out. “Social media can drag [us] down to nothing and it can be a really negative space … All that immediacy makes all the good things that happen in the world get lost and they’re often not captured in the same way [as the negative things],” Imani stated. This power means that any bit of information can be taken out of context, out of sight, out of mind. It can be stretched and pulled until there’s nothing left but a pile of pulp and an angry mass of people. What needs to be addressed is our ability to take the information put out into the world and consider it for ourselves, the implications it has on others, and determine where we stand in the mix. Imani stands tall, there for those that may not have the ability to speak out on those implications — for those that aren’t safe to speak out on those implications. Recognizing her influential role, her path has led her to become a Founder of Equality for HER, an organization founded on health, education, and resources, to work as Civic Action & Campaigning Lead for DoSomething. org, hold an active role within LOVELOUD and It Gets Better Project, organizations dedicated and created to support LGBTQ+ youth, as well as previously mentioned Tegan & Sara Foundation and GLAAD. Additionally, Imani has dedicated time to Planned Parenthood, the Women’s Information Network (WIN), Muslims for Progressive Values, and has appeared in fashion designer Christian Siriano’s “People Are People” call-to-action campaign in 2018, partnered with NYC Pride and artist Mamadi Doumbouya to create limited edition shirts to celebrate 2019 Pride, held annually in the month of June, and appeared alongside a handful of noteworthy activists in the #StandForTomorrow campaign by TOMS shoes.
“education is the starting point.”
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Imani has forged her way in, undeterred by having to defend herself, and her being, at any occasion. In 2017, her selfassuredness and confidence led to her accidently outing herself as a queer woman on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show. “You don’t really pick your moments,” Imani shared. “Especially when your sense of self is so deeply held. I don’t think that coming out in a big way is necessary. I’m really glad I did because I’ve had so many great experiences like, [people would come up to me and say] ‘Wow, I’d never thought I’d see representation like this!’ and it was really powerful in a way I hadn’t imagined. If you do everything in a super strategic way, we miss all these moments of beautiful growth and change.” She continued to say: “There shouldn’t be so much pressure in the LGBTQ+ community to come out … We place so much emphasis on the people that are out that it almost erases the struggle of coming out … it’s a continual process … it’s a lot emotional labor that we’re called upon to do in the LGBTQ+ community and sometimes there’s not enough regard or account for that.”
To put it bluntly: we have the power and the opportunity to uplift those around us to create safer, more accepting environments. Starting with the self is the first and strongest place to start. “The best person you can come out to is yourself and the only person you should be outing is yourself,” Imani stated. “With that in mind, you don’t have to share all parts of yourself with everybody. Not that you should be ashamed of who you are — you should be proud as fuck of who you are! [The reality is] it’s hard to be out and queer, not to be queer, but to live in a society that’s homophobic and transphobic.” This is the world we live in. This is the moment we have now. Despite the pressures of those that seek to silence us, we have individuals like Blair Imani, fighting with, and for, the world through the recognition of the past, the celebration of those in action today, and the passionate pursuit of a better tomorrow.
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PHOTOGRAPHY MIHIR THAKKAR MODELS NAOMI AZZOLA JANIRA IDER MICAELA SOTO MERCEDES RIVEIRA MAKEUP ARTIST JEMIMA KHAN HAIR STYLIST SAKINA BAGASRAWALA
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WRITTEN BY MARY RETTA PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELLIE ANDREWS HAIR AND MAKEUP BY JESSIE YARBOROUGH STYLING BY AMBIKA B. SANJANA
“Make sure you don’t get in our way,” sings Raja Kumari. “Make sure you don’t.” Indian-American rapper RAJA KUMARI is known for many things – her award winning songwriting, an Apple Music Beats 1 show, and of course, her widely acclaimed music which has taken her all around the world. Originally from Claremont, California, the artist started her career performing Indian classical dance and began songwriting and releasing music after graduating university. Now, amidst great praise and anticipation, Kumari has finally released her debut EP, BLOODLINE. BLOODLINE beautifully embodies Kumari’s bold, passionate sound and illustrates the artist’s impressive range. The pulsing beat and hypnotic instrumentals behind “SHOOK” beautifully compliment “KARMA’s” feel good sound and clever lyrics. A song writer by nature, Kumari’s lyrics are always as topical and political as they are catchy; in her hit song “ROBIN HOOD,” for example, the artist importantly sings “how many wars to make the peace?” Kumari’s Indian heritage is clearly imbued in every one of her songs. Not only does the artist make reference to many Hindu deities as well as other aspects of Indian culture throughout her music, she also incorporates traditional Indian instruments into her songs. “These were battle anthems inspired by what I was going through during my time in India,” Kumari confirms. “My Indian heritage covers everything from my fashion to movement, melodies, and my vibe.” Kumari’s talent extends beyond her sound; in 2018, the artist further brought fans into her world through the release of the “SHOOK” music video. Through bold colors and passionate dancing, Raja perfectly illustrated her talent, drive, and complete joy in her music. Before BLOODLINE’s release, Kumari made a significant career as a songwriter, collaborating with artists such as Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony, and Fall Out Boy. The artist also received the BMI Pop Award in 2016 and was nominated for a Grammy in 2015 for her songwriting contributions.
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The artist speaks to her transition from songwriter to singer, noting that her past experiences have shaped and informed her performances today. “As a songwriter, I learned a lot and became more confident on the mic,” says Kumari. “That helped me become fearless and now it’s encouraged me to become a better artist and better performer.”
globe. Kumari speaks to her experience working on the show, noting, “I’ve always wanted to be a curator of culture, and it was important for me to hear Indian music around the world. Working with Apple Music was a dream and such a fun experience.” Although Kumari has already accomplished a ton, this ambitious young artist is hungry for more. The rapper hopes to continue touring, connecting with fans, and of course, making music.
Kumari has taken these performing skills to use and is currently on tour both across India and across the globe. “My favorite part of tour is being able to connect with people.,” she remarks. “It’s so inspiring to see your own lyrics sung back to you, but even more empowering to hear people’s stories about how the music related to their lives, and how the message affected them.”
“I hope my music career takes me all around the world,” Kumari admits. “I’d love to connect with people in Australia, Europe, Malaysia, Africa, South America – I’d just love to go to every continent and spread my music and my joy.”
Aside from touring, the artist is balancing quite a few other projects. Kumari recently launched her own Apple Music Beats 1 show called The New India that showcases a range of Indian music and artists to a large audience across the
Raja Kumari is a force to be reckoned with; she is doing something different and simply won’t apologize for it. Be sure to give BLOODLINE as this artist is someone you don’t want to miss.
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WRITTEN BY STEVEN WARD PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABRIELLA HUGHES STYLING BY ABIGAIL LIPP
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DYLAN: SHIRT - MOLLUSK (PENELOPE’S), OVERALLS - OUR LEGACY (GEMINI SHOP) COLE: SHIRT - WAX LONDON (PENELOPE’S), TROUSERS - BANKS JOURNAL (PENELOPE’S) BRAEDEN: SHIRT - OXFORD LADS (PENELOPE’S), TROUSERS - NORSE PROJECTS (GEMINI SHOP), BELT - MAXIMUM HENRY (GEMINI SHOP)
When Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters first arrived to participate in the GigMasterz program at the Keyboard Galleria Music Center—already good friends—fellow musician and then 11-year-old Cole Preston was unsure how to find his place within the happy twosome. It was an intimidating conundrum that most of us have experienced in adolescence: making new friends. Minnette and Lemasters had already built their friendship—introduced via their mothers—off a passionate love of all things music and chicken tenders paired with honey mustard. A tight bond to find space for another friend, indeed. “I was the wild card,” Preston offers lightheartedly. But it didn’t take long for Minnette and Lemasters to welcome Preston into their group—and over a decade later, the three friends have spent close to every waking moment sunk deep in a world colored by their insatiable love for music. Preston fondly recalls his discovery of Halcyon Digest—the Deerhunter album he admits to consuming for a long period of his life. While Lemasters, whose obsession over a certain Liverpool quartet is well-known by the other two, reveals he once tweeted a list of his top ten albums when he was thirteen: “They were all Beatles records,” he says laughing. He even jokes that because his mother, pregnant with him at the time, would attend his father’s concerts his love of music started in the womb. After linking up with Minnette, Lemasters admits he’d trick his friend into thinking he wrote some of those songs by the classic artists shown to him by his dad. “I’d be like: ‘Hey dude check out this song I wrote.’ And Dylan would go: ‘Damn!” he says laughing. The trio were in tune—almost oddly so for their age—with a lot of the music that has come to define the early 00s. It’s all laid out on their debut album Nothing Happens, their first record released under their WALLOWS moniker. Filled with the kind of giddy, unpredictable temperaments that makes such labels like alternative or rock feel woefully restrictive— Nothing Happens is as much an ode to the trio’s departure from their youth as it is to the songs and artists that soundtracked it for them.
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And the scenes that run through the heads of the trio when the tracks of Nothing Happens unravel themselves seem a bit dated, potentially, lost to a decade of technological advancements that have made some of their parts obsolete. Scenes filled with CDs from The Strokes and Arcade Fire—The Suburbs, an album Lemasters says the “world revolved around for a moment”—or when Preston spent a drive to Santa Clarita in a Subaru showing Minnette his latest infatuation: Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys. Growing-up in Los Angeles the three inevitably collided with the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, a right-of-passage for any serious music fan. A lineup from 2011 was particularly affecting—one that brought together a wealth of artists and bands they looked up to. “It was Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, and The Strokes, and Kanye,” Preston explains. “All headlining that year which was like for us at that time being thirteen—that was the most stacked lineup that could ever happen for us.” Only a couple of months ago the trio returned to Coachella—this time as Wallows—playing songs from their debut to fans that braved the heat of an afternoon slot to go see them. There’s a surreality, one that Minnette still seems wrapped-up in, to playing a festival you grew-up attending. “We’ve been in that crowd so many times,” he says, wonder still in his voice. But the stages of the Empire Polo Fields are not the only iconic venues the trio have stepped onto. Before they were Wallows, the three cut their teeth and honed their sound on the Sunset Strip. It was an era in which the band assumed fully the leather jacket, suave- rock style of the bands they’d become so deliriously enamored by. But Preston is quick to assert the moment as just a phase, one the band moved quickly on from when they realized they didn’t want to just make “rock music.” “I think we did a million shows on the Sunset Strip—and I think because we were young we were super into the leather jacket, cool, confident—we were into that because we were very young,” says Preston. “But as we got older we’ve grown and strayed away from that men-
COLE: SHIRT ALBAM (GEMINI SHOP), JEANS - NORSE PROJECTS (GEMINI SHOP) DYLAN: SHIRT - RAGA MAN (PENELOPE’S) BRAEDEN: SHIRT NATIVE YOUTH (PENELOPE’S), TROUSERS - NORSE PROJECTS (GEMINI SHOP)
BRAEDEN: SHIRT - PORTUGUESE FLANNEL (GEMINI SHOP), TROUSERS - NORSE PROJECTS (GEMINI SHOP) COLE: SHIRT AND TROUSERS - BANKS JOURNAL (PENELOPE’S) DYLAN: SHIRT - ALTERNATIVE APPAREL (PENELOPE’S), OVERALLS - OUR LEGACY (GEMINI SHOP)
tality— I don’t really consider us a rock band. Like I don’t want people to think we are out here trying to create or save or have anything to-do with what is known as ‘rock music.’ For us it’s about being as creative as possible, yes we have guitars but I think that’s simply because that’s what we grew up playing.” And Nothing Happens holds up to Preston’s claims. Sure, the band fiddles around with guitars and deliver some hot riffs in the process— but they also favor a bit of synthesizer and vocal support from electro pop songstress Clairo— aren’t afraid to add some funky horns—or even drop the beat into slow-crawl that meanders around Minnette’s depthless croon. Every song on Nothing Happens stands in stark contrast to the last but they’re all united by the band’s willingness to texture their music with whatever “weird choices,” as Lemasters puts it, that makes them feel most inspired. For an album titled Nothing Happens, a lot sure is going down. “Our favorite record for a while was Blonde—it’s one of our favorite albums. And I can see us doing something like that or working with like the Brockhampton people,” Preston says, outlining the myriad of possibilities for Wallows future. “There’s so much great music happening and it’s all happening at the same time that I don’t even think of stuff as rock or not rock or hip-hop or whatever.” Wallows breathe a tenacity and energy into a musical landscape that can sometimes feel barrenly similar—overrun by bands and artists all clamoring to fill the checkboxes of whatever genre they operate in. Minnette, Lemasters, and Preston are not only proof that music is as dynamic and exciting as ever—they also point— not to themselves—but to their contemporaries doing the thing they themselves admire. The trio was born out of an era of music that painted their view of the art as this vibrant, eclectic thing unbound by labels or expectations—and in their minds—that era didn’t disappear with their childhood. Modern cynicism over what is or isn’t good music dissolves amongst Wallows—a sentiment we should all take to heart.
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PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREA GUTIÃ‰RREZ MODEL TERESA ORTEGA
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A language spoken fluently across the world: pop music. Transcending native tongues and uniting people, pop music has celebrated and uplifted different cultures over the decades, with Selena’s Latinx anthems charting on the Billboards in 1995 and more recently the acclaimed “Despacito.”
How and where did this sudden western and worldwide domination of K-pop start? Naturally with the hardworking artists themselves: training, recording, practicing and performing for years and presenting themselves humbly and with respect. That authenticity is what drives the fans connections to these artists, and success without fans is like x without x — it just doesn’t happen.
Similar to the timeline of the Latinx breakthrough, Korean pop, more commonly known as K-POP, first charted on the Billboards in 2009 followed by the infamous ‘Gangnam Style’ dance trend in 2012 before falling dormant in the US until recently. And it’s back with authenticity this time and here to stay with 30+ Korean acts touring the country this year alone. Today, K-pop’s American and worldwide breakthrough means dozens of world and North American tours making stops in our country like NCT 127’s NEO City Tour and BLACKPINK playing Coachella. Primarily focusing on their culture, sharp choreography and the artistry behind the directing, aesthetics and special effects, a fundamental component of K-pop is the extravagant and grandiose capacity of music videos, which lends to the idols’ professionally and celebrity image that magnetizes fans.
With BTS winning Billboard’s fan-voted Top Social Award 3 years in a row since 2017, something is to be said for the group seemingly being everywhere on the internet, the charts, award shows and now breaking into American radio play and music stands. BTS are making numbers, breaking walls and shattering the glass ceiling of what western and global pop music looks like with no bundles, no discounts and no repackaging and deluxe albums all while singing in Korean due to both their talents and support from their passionate fanbase. The fans’ love of the group and their music is what has soared them into the western market and has them remaining here to stay. Honored and recognized along with their CEO and Executive Producer to join the members of the Grammy’s Recording Academy, BTS and their ranging talents of composing, writing, singing and performing landed them
WORDS, ILLUSTRATIONS & PLAYLIST BY NICOLE TILLOTSON
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the high honor given to those permitted to vote for the yearly Grammy Awards and cementing that K-pop is here to stay for a very long time. In the period of quick growth, the worldwide K-pop breakthrough accelerated and now thrives on this partnership between the artists and the fans. As the popularity and integration of the internet in our daily lives grows, there’s a new wave of digital evolution in the fandom makeup, the operation fandoms and how they interact that is unlike the One Direction update account days where scraping for every last piece of information was the norm. K-pop artists, labels and management companies authentically stick close to their country’s celebrated cultural roots by presenting the majority of songs and content in a language unfamiliar to a world other than Korea, which is quite unlike popular boyband and girl group eras of the past. They are the new era; no more comparisons to any groups or artists of the past any longer. They are simply them, unique to their own selves and the music industry. The distinct qualities of this current K-pop wave are something different, a new budding anomaly possessing an endless future of success and growth. The intelligence and skill of K-pop fans particularly shine as they create new methods and practices of what it means to be a part of a fandom. And the fangirls, fanboys and fans are right; they’re the first to know what’s trending, and they have the most passion behind it, in turn fueling their social skills online. Running an update or fan account online proves successful in more ways than one, like delivering
fresh content to open ears while also gaining professional digital and creative skills like social media marketing, design and Photoshop — all qualified abilities beneficial to the so-called adult world (which to mention, the age of K-pop fans across the board are uniquely all-encompassing from little ones to grandparents, another unique feature where one does not have to feel aged-shamed but rather celebrated for the years they have lived). Important to this generation of K-pop fandoms are translation accounts who aid in breaking the language barriers with live content translations across Twitter for physical content, live streams and interviews and YouTube for scheduled video interviews, which are all delivered as an influx of content daily as opposed to our late 2000s MySpace Jonas Brothers’ era where few but far posts from the band were released. The vastness and variety of fan accounts grow daily from your classic meme accounts ran by fans to chart update accounts presumably ran by bots (and sometimes real humans, too) who track specific elements from the Billboard chart status of songs to YouTube music video views. Something different is happening in the music industry with K-pop; something this generation of fans will grow up telling their family, friends, their future kids, and maybe even their grandkids about. The first major groups to cross barriers of a characterized language, the ones who honorably present themselves as role models for truly anyone and those who will remain in our hearts forever as we grow in appreciation for exploring unfamiliar cultures previously unknown to us now feel like home.
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trinity mouzon wofford WRITTEN BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMILY DUBIN
Game-changer. TRINITY MOUZON WOFFORD symbolizes the word bounded by an em dash as she shifts the world of wellness. She has transversed spaces which carve out health-oriented ways of living and amplified voices of young black womxn entrepreneurs. There is a poise within her that empowers other young womxn to personify their blend of passion and love for wellness products. “Get after it, don't limit yourself,” Trinity punctuates her manifestation that led to her businesswoman sensibilities. Both the e-commerce and wellness atmospheres are externally intimidating, yet Trinity was able to transfix her brand’s creation and it’s mantra with a simple sentence– “Easy, super-food boosted essentials for wellness and beauty. Be well, feel good.” The last four words radiate empowerment not only in Golde’s philosophy but within Trinity’s own ability to empower others. She was able to transform her once visualizations and projected dreams into a tangible reality. “We're living in an extraordinary time in which you can literally send a DM to the person you admire most, and there's a decent chance they'll respond. The playing field has been leveled in a whole new way thanks to the internet, and you have to take advantage of that. I would also advise all future entrepreneurs, regardless of their identity, to seek out a diverse range of mentors and founder friends. I think often times as POC we get caught up in this narrative that only someone who looks like me will be able to understand my business and what I'm building, and that's not inherently true. I've got everyone from white VC guys to fellow WOC advising me on this path — what they all have in common is they believe deeply in what I'm building,” she explains.
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Trinity is putting out only goodness in the world by emitting her spirit within the Golde products. Some of the products listed on Golde’s eye-pleasing minimalistic website include an anti-pollution face mask and matcha blends just to name a few. “I launched Golde in 2017 with my longtime boyfriend, Issey. I had originally planned on going into the holistic health space as a physician, but I was frustrated with how our insurance system makes holistic care so financially inaccessible. The vision for Golde was born from my own experience as a consumer in the wellness space, feeling sort of caught between the “crunchy/granola” wellness stuff and the ultra-luxe category that was not really speaking to me. We wanted to build a brand that was highlighted the belief that being well should feel *good* (not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well). I don’t think that this process has changed my sense of self, but I do know that it has clarified it,” she states. Trinity’s initial endeavors with Golde were deconstructing the narratives around the superfood industry and introduce the average consumer to products that can add a bit more light into their lives. Entrepreneur philosophies, including Trinity’s, are centered around encouraging risks. Risks that can not only propel yourself as the head of a powerful company, but becoming a symbolic representation for those who want to do the same but lack those necessary resources. “It’s really an exciting time. When we first came out on the market, this new category was really in its nascent stages, and it’s been really cool to see that movement expand from the sort of “woo woo” crowd to the mainstream. That’s always been our goal with the brand — to make superfoods a little more approachable to the average consumer, so we’re thrilled to see that momentum in the industry,” she adds. Golde’s DNA is intrinsically tied to Trinity’s strength and willpower. What draws customers to Golde products are Trinity’s ability to seamlessly transition her personality and belief system into the products that she is selling. “I’m really passionate especially on demystifying entrepreneurship and what really goes into building a brand. The American system is very class-driven, and so if you have parents that owned a business you will thus be endowed with the resources around how to start a business one day. If you’re underrepresented in any way (not just as WOC, but how about poor rural folks, regardless of their identities?), you’re missing out on those resources. I try to share what I’ve learned from my experience because that narrative forms its own resource for people to learn about how to get started.”
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â€œI'm really passionate especially on demystifying entrepreneurship
and what really goes into building a brand."
The game-changing aspect of Trinity’s self-entrepreneurship is to keep on pushing and see how far you can get. She admits that some moments of insecurity will act as minute road blocks from achieving your end result. Throughout her journey, she has grown more confident with herself, which also seeps into how Golde strengthens its own appeal. “I think as I’ve matured the self acceptance has started to flow really naturally. I can remember in college caring so much about how I was accepted by the world, and oftentimes “editing” myself to fit the social context I was in. I think that’s natural when you’re younger because you’re still just trying to answer the question, “wait, who am I??” I think this entrepreneurial journey has forced me to get really comfortable with knowing who I am and what I want, and that has translated to a relaxed self acceptance that I am so grateful to have found.” Being fluent in the wellness sector often leads to times that are both mentally and physically exhausting, therefore Trinity finds those necessary moments to breathe and relax. She has found therapeutic elements in the form of neighborhood walks to date-nights in with her boyfriend. “I enjoy going for a long walk around the neighborhood (I live in Bed Stuy), call my mom or dad, eat a home-cooked meal from my very talented boyfriend, or (ideally) head back home upstate to get some good quality nature time in,” she says. She also adds those small moments of sunshine that often times are taken for granted, “Hitting the farmer’s market every weekend is a ritual for me and my boyfriend. We love the opportunity to shop local and connect with our farmers directly, while saving money on top-quality produce.” Women of Color are pushing boundaries throughout all creative and business sects, Trinity cites some of the WOC entrepreneurs in the wellness facet that have continuously inspired her. “There are so many! Hannah Bronfman, who’s also an advisor at Golde; Sophia Roe, who is probably the most supportive and loving person on this planet; and Elyse Fox, who is doing incredible work to de-stigmatize mental health,” she states. Trinity’s personal quests for the rest of the year are intently focused on promoting self-love and committing to the positive energy behind Golde. “Growth and happiness. I’m not too set on specific goals, I just want to make sure I’m enjoying the journey,” she finalizes.
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swimming in the flood:
Cole Becker of SWMRS talks keeping his hope buoyed in a post-Berkeley’s on Fire world WRITTEN BY STEVEN WARD PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARIANNE OLDER
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Cole Becker is driving through sunny Los Angeles, CA down Slauson Ave. As one-fourth of the Oakland-born punk rock outfit SWMRS, Cole is enjoying a brief moment of rest and relaxation between tours. Only a few weeks ago he and the band—which includes his brother Max, as well as childhood friend Joey Armstrong and Seb Mueller— were wrapping up a lengthy U.S. tour and only a few weeks before that a sweeping England-European one. And so Cole has been spending his days off-stage in Southern California—where SWMRS cut the finale of their tour—visiting his girlfriend. On this particular day Cole intends to follow a rather simple plan: go to the library, flip through some magazines, smoke some pot. It’s an almost comical, quintessentially Californian game plan—the kind someone who’s only ever seen movies or television shows about the place might dream-up how punk rockers like Cole might spend their afternoon—a caricature of life under the shadow of palm trees and a Hollywood sign—that I can’t help but toss a joke his way. “The California dream,” I call his plans. He laughs. Over the phone the happy-go-lucky nature of Cole’s temperament is ever present—and sitting myself in the living room of a Santa Barbara apartment—borrowed for the weekend from a high-school friend, my fold-out bed still unmade at one-thirty on such a carefree afternoon—I’m inclined to share his laid-back zeal. But the calm is temporary. Cole’s mind is sharp and eager— the inertia of SWMRS lengthy and exhausting tour, done in support of their sophomore album Berkeley’s On Fire, still has a hold over his body and mind. And for good reason. Behind the thousands of miles SWMRS has put into touring these last two years there is a darkly-chaotic day in February 2017 in which the U.C. Berkeley Campus erupted in protest against the presence of right-wing, fascist groups. Cole was in the crowd that day—growing-up around feminists and favoring the punk-rock reclamation by riot grrrl had put him there—and out of the media storm that exploded from that day SWMRS had scribbled in raw clarity a simultaneous digestion and response of it in the form of BOF. “I’ve been thinking a lot about how
that particular event seemed like it was kind of an explosion based on the tension between negative media and positive media. And how much of that is just horribly negative and kind of created to divide us and to reinforce the mental barriers that keep us separated from one another.” It’s those barriers—political, ideological, any -ism that keeps people so polarized that they stop seeing one another has human—that SWMRS want to tear down. BOF is just their sledgehammer. And there is urgency to what Cole wants the band to accomplish. When I ask whether he thinks things are better or worse since that day in February, Cole gives an emphatic: “Fuck no.” But trying to read the barometer in the shit-storm swirling around us is besides the point. He calls even those protests back in February “quaint” compared to the “barrage of shit” that’s now thrown at us on a daily basis. “There’s a deep existential dread of like: ‘Ah man, like I don’t know if we’re gonna be around for much longer.’ And I think if you believe we have the power to stay around for any longer than the nuclear apocalypse then you have to contribute to instilling that hope in other people too. Because hope is ultimately what drives people to contribute to that kind of conversation and framework.” “Your T.V. lies. We’ll be alright,” Cole wails against the giddy, off-kilter melody of the BOF’s title track. “Too many, too many motherfuckers confusing this freedom speech with swastikas.” SWMRS doesn’t pull any punches. The band take shots at Milo Yiannopoulos and Vladimir Putin in true punk fashion, but for all their raucousness SWMRS is refreshingly articulate—penning songs so dangerously close to current events with poignant precision—and offering more than just trite anthems to “fight the power.” “ I think, ultimately, the goal of the music was kind of to contribute at least one piece of media that was from a place of wanting to dissolve barriers between people. And create something positive and build spaces that aren’t pretentious and that have somewhere everyone can go feel like they can finally be themselves and be understood.”
In a lot of ways, SWMRS is in the best position—and most difficult—to tear down those walls. The spaces rock and punk rock are performed in have inherited an oppressive air of toxic masculinity: whether it’s what Cole refers to as the “club-house” mentality in music—where newcomers, like the female, teenage fans SWMRS adopted after touring with AFI, are made to feel unwelcome at shows—or the disgusting frequency of sexual assault that occurs at concerts across genres. “We’ve played hundreds of shows in our lives and grew up with feminist parents and feminist friends—and we actively are trying to support a feminist framework—and we didn’t even realize how common sexual assault is at shows,” Cole says, a bit of incredulity still in his voice. “That was a big moment where we were like: ‘Okay, this is happening and every single girl in the crowd knows that it could happen to them and zero percent of the men—who aren’t doing it—realize that it’s happening.’ So how do we get everyone onboard making that stop?” Awareness and financial support are near the top of Cole’s list. He gives a shout-out to the England-based Girls Against, a group campaigning to bring to light and stop sexual assault in the music community, that not only brought the issue to the attention of the band but gave them ideas on how to address it. On this last tour, the band started the SWMRS Fund, a place fans could donate to a variety of causes and organizations—the Climate Justice Alliance, Girl’s Rock Campus Alliance, National Bail Fund Network, and the Third Wave Fund—to name a few. But for Cole and company even that wasn’t enough—the band knew they needed to revamp the entire way they approached their live shows as well. “When you’re onstage and see a heavy, kind of violent pit, it’s a really cool thing to see—and it’s not that fucking cool to experience. Just seeing how a fourteen-year-old-girl is made to feel so unsafe by a circle pit that’s really thrashing and heavy hitting—that kind of behavior builds barriers. Punk-rock requires too many pretenses—but it changed my life and it changed our individual lives as a band—and so realizing that we had to adjust a little bit this space and the way people act in this space.”
Cole fondly recalls listening to The Clash and Patti Smith for the first time—when he was 10-years-old—but his induction into the music that changed his life occurred over the years and in spaces that never sought to drive him away. He talks about not only wanting to introduce their teenage-pop fans to punk—to a genre and style of expression the band finds so beloved—but also introducing that community to those teenage-pop fans themselves. Cole wants to unite the youth under music in a way that rock did in the 60s and 70s—something modern rock is failing to do in a big way. “Rock-’n’-roll got stolen by the fucking man,” he bites. “Music is something that is so intuitive. It doesn’t need—it’s not like Hollywood where you need a big team of people to make it. And yet rock decided to follow the focus group mentality of catering to everyone else and how you think you’re supposed to make music. And it was created in the vacuum-bubble of the Hollywood music industry for the past fifteen-years. Of course it’s dead. That shit was dead from conception.” And so SWMRS has looked to modern hip-hop—a genre and community that Cole believes is smashing barriers not entirely because of how it sounds—but rather its ability to connect and unite its listeners around a feeling. “And that’s why underground rock music is kind of myopic—because all these fucking people are playing dress up Iggy Pop. And I think that’s why hip-hop is so inspiring because it’s so original and so intuitive and so instinctual in a way that a lot of contemporary rock just isn’t.” Cole steers SWMRS clear of those pitfalls by looking to artists outside the mainstream—he even uses that word tactfully, understanding of the unnecessary combativeness that exists between mainstream and indie music fans. Tierra Whack—a Philadelphia-based rapper who Cole reveres in the same breath as Tupac, calling her “a self-taught student of the craft of writing lyrics and rhymes”—is who he puts on to get through the day when the shit-storm outside feels particularly heavy. He admits to knowing every word on her debut album Whack World and her “fucking insane” music videos. An understatement to be sure: a quick dip in videos for her songs “Whack World” and “Unemployed” are a trip—and they ooze the kind of sharp and visceral
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emotions that Cole—and by his estimation, the youth—are hungry for. Then there’s the Mexico Top 50 chart on Spotify, a place Cole heads to when he needs a fix of Latin pop— which, according to him, is having a “fucking moment.” He also turned to a number of other hip-hop acts before their BOF tour to incite some inspiration for how to capture that “feeling”—that indescribable, wordless empowerment that the band found in punk rock—and give it to their fans in a way they could understand, even if they weren’t as baptized in the scene as the band themselves had been. One of them was Kendrick Lamar. After seeing the rapper perform in concert Cole was invigorated by his ability to transcend racial barriers at his shows—but more importantly, took it as proof that music could be offered-up to such a diverse crowd and injected in a way they could all understand and share. “He has so many white fans and he could be that guy who’s like: ‘Look if you don’t understand where this music is coming from then like get the fuck out of here.’ [But] he takes that time to establish with the audience: ‘Hey, now you’re in a new space and it’s going to work in here because it has to work like that if everybody wants to have a good time.’” And so everyone is welcome at a SWMRS show. From hateful people to those experiencing a world of hateful people—and the overlap between the two that is so often overlooked—just as long as they play by the rules of the space the band has carved out at their concerts. In an era of hyper-polarizing politics it sounds almost counter-intuitive—but Cole and company—for all the assumed pretense of being rowdy, rabble-rousers and anarchists that comes with being punk rockers—choose not to fight fire with fire. “Death to the mother-fucking fascist insect. This shit makes me so sadistic,” rages Cole on “Lose Lose Lose.” From hate to the way we are glued to glowing screens—and the vicious media cycle that perpetuates them both—BOF sees SWMRS making the case that anything that pushes us farther from one another is not part of the solution. There’s a void that needs filling—an imperative need for change in our culture. For Cole, it’s a little less than obvious that music is a means of doing that: “Changing culture
is how you change the world,” he tells me with a steely resolve. Some people might think that naive or a woefully simple solution for the issues we face; but maybe it is that simple. And SWMRS—since before they took that name— have been about change. When the band was just Cole, Max, and Armstrong their name was Emily’s Army—named after their cousin who suffered from cystic fibrosis—and the trio played with the purpose of raising both money and awareness for the disorder. Music incites changes. Twoyears of touring in the tinderbox a Trump presidency has transformed the American social and political landscape into—Cole is no less disheartened. “We had hope in something that was broken. Our country has been broken since the beginning. Our world framework has been broken and this is all just kind of proving that,” Cole tells me over the phone, the weight of these heavy realizations doing little to sink his hope—the opposite actually—they buoy it. “And so now is a really important time for people who do have a platform to generate some excitement with the fucking kids. Because ultimately the burden is going to fall on us and if we can’t get excited and get organized and ready to take on this four-hundred-year legacy of colonialism and stolen land and stolen bodies—if we can’t get excited to take on the system that’s finally fully unraveled— like we have a big opportunity and so we have to mobilize and get people excited to build it.” It might just have been the sunshine, but Cole’s titanic capacity for hope—hope in SWMRS, hope in punk rock, hope in the people connecting at their shows—was as hard a feeling to shake as the ear worm that came with the band’s kinetic songs. And if it all came down to one punk rock band to save us all—one voice between us and the apocalypse—however unlikely that might seem—and yet, maybe in more ways than we like to admit, it does—our money would be on SWMRS to keep us afloat. “I’m not stopping at all, it’s summer in the district and it’s humid. I’m trying to get you to fall in love with the music, it’ll save us all,” Max cries out in that searing croon of his on “Too Much Coffee”—and we couldn’t agree more.
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WRITTEN BY MIRANDA REYES PHOTOGRAPHY BY ISHAH SHAH
It’s not news that periods and menstruation often feel like taboo topics, and that’s only in conversation. The experience itself can come with shame, embarrassment, and secrecy. Despite it being a very normal bodily process of half the world’s population, menstruation is still heavily stigmatized around the globe. But the conversation is changing. By celebrating empowerment and encouraging menstrual health education, the way we talk about periods is radically shifting. Devoted to shattering the period stigma is 21-year-old SAGE MELLET, co-founder of Peach Pack, a subscription box service with menstrual empowerment at its core. “I think generally there has been an increase in conversation, specifically in the online realm. However, when I speak to young people experiencing their period for the first time, there is still sense of embarrassment and shame. I hope that by having more period pages on Instagram and more brands — like Peach Pack — it’ll enable us to take ownership over our periods and have more open and honest discussions.” The idea for the subscription box came to be when Mellet and best friend Alyssa Carp — later Mellet’s business partner and Peach Pack co-founder — were out for coffee with a friend. The topic of subscription-based businesses came up in conversation. “Being best friends and proud feminists, we always spoke about our periods and how insane it was that we felt like we couldn’t openly talk about these natural bodily processes. Combining our passion for breaking stigmas and the idea of subscription businesses, we thought, ‘Why not create a subscription pack that makes our time of the month more convenient whilst breaking stigmas at the same time?’” Every Peach Pack is made of sustainable, biodegradable material. The subscriber chooses between tampons or pads — both from all-organic brands — and the box is accompanied by delicious tea and a mystery self-care item. Mellet admits that the process of putting together subscription boxes is something she’s still trying to figure out today.
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“What we’ve learned is that there is no setcriteria or method in order to create your own business. As long as you have the vision and the right people supporting you, then the method can look however you want it to look.” South Africa-born and sister of pop icon Troye Sivan, Mellet co-founded Peach Pack while earning her undergraduate degree in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne. “To be completely honest, it has been a very difficult task,” she says on going to college while running a business, and the arduous work in creating a balance. “Whilst I was studying I was able to get tasks done, but I felt that in order to give Peach Pack my all I really needed to prioritize it, and not be afraid to do so.” Longing to pour her whole heart into the growth of Peach Pack, Mellet resolved to take a semester off school. She and Carp went to live abroad in London for six months. Now, the two of them are in Los Angeles, preparing for their first international launch. It’s no question that the Libra’s passion-fueled dedication and hard work on Peach Pack have proved fruitful in monumental ways. Among the most fulfilling parts of the journey are the online messages received from young people who say that Peach Pack has empowered them in taking ownership over their menstrual cycle. “It’s heartbreaking to even think that we’ve been conditioned to feel ashamed of having our periods. To get messages from so many different people and to have these vulnerable conversations...that’s really the aim of Peach Pack, and something we aim to continue to provide for many.” In spite of her enamoring confidence and the community of empowerment she continues to grow, Mellet admits she wasn’t always this comfortable in conversation about periods. “Growing up, being one of the first girls in my year to get their period, I had a great sense of shame. This followed me throughout my life, and up until the development of Peach Pack, limited me from feeling like I could share my stories with my audience.” With constant support from her friend group and business partner best friend, Mellet continually finds the courage to be open and vulnerable. With her vulnerability comes the very heart of Peach Pack — comfortable conversations around menstrual health and breaking the period stigma. “Feminism to me is about empowering and equalizing all people affected by systematic and patriarchal sexism. This manifests in many different ways, but one way in which I like to actualize the value is through creating supportive networks. Having supportive communities around you is an incredible way to empower and educate young people, and hopefully Peach Pack will be one of those communities that many can feel connected to and supported by.” Keep on the lookout for Sage, Alyssa, and Peach Pack’s next big launch.
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WRITTEN BY JASMINE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY BY DILLON MATTHEW
Songs are caricatures of dedication and love. They are channels for solace and mirrors that reflect how someone is truly consumed by their thoughts. Particularly, musician, FINNEAS attributes his songwriting career to crafting inventive manifestations of love. His colossal achievements include amassing well over 6 million streams on his hit “Break My Heart Again,” writing songs alongside his sister, Billie Eilish, and pioneering the perfect love song. On the phone, Finneas describes the utter exhaustion of taking a hot yoga class alongside his girlfriend, Claudia. “You know, I thought I was an athletic person, but then I took a hot yoga class,” he quips as he munches on a Clif bar. Recently, Finneas just wrapped opening for his sister’s international tour, where he got to physically experience the exhilaration of fans’ singing along to the songs he wrote in the comfort of his bedroom walls. Often, musicians use their art as a way to solely express themselves. It’s a fortitude of who they are as a person and a way to temporarily heal. Finneas expresses his awe, knowing that audiences relate to music that essentially served as a therapeutic outlet for himself. “Externally, playing a live show and hear-
ing other people interpret your music, relate to it, understand it, and feel some kind of way about it. It’s really amazing,” he says, as he searches for words to explain the almost unfathomable feeling. “Internally, the minute you have an idea for a piece of music and you just like it, and it makes you feel good, that’s the most satisfying thing. It’s like cooking yourself your favorite meal,” he laughs. His open-hearted presence vis-a-vis a phone call reflects his genuine character as he is still shocked by the multitude of people that stream his songs and attend the tour dates. “I think you’re gonna change my plans/ With those emerald eyes,” are the words that make up the sparkling chorus of Finneas’ latest single, “Claudia.” As I reach mid-point in asking “Recently, you wrote a song about your girlfriend,” he interjects with an enthusiastic, “Hell yeah!” You can audibly hear the excitement he has to talk about his one person. “I wrote the first verse of the song the night I met her. Then, I wrote the chorus and the second verse after that,” he says. “It’s absolutely therapeutic having a song named Claudia, the girl I’m absolutely crazy about.” His native Los Angeles sunshine seems to reflect into the phone call when he addresses how falling in love has influenced his music process.
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“Songs are how I talk about everything in my life,” he adds, “Falling in love with Claudia, arguments with my ex-girlfriend. I would be limiting myself musically, if I wasn’t vulnerable when it comes to songwriting.” Finneas allows his audience to momentarily play the part of heartbroken narrator or the songwriter who is experiencing the metamorphosis of a newfound love. Nowadays, songs are prone to over relying on production elements, leaving the lyricism to drown in noise. Finneas is an antithesis of this very concept. The organic composition of his music lies in minimalistic instrumentation that only serves to highlight the messages he breathes to life. “I’m kind of obsessed with minimalism in all aspects,” he says. He goes on to destruct the ‘Break My Heart Again’ ballad, “We have all heard amazing piano songs before. My first thought was ‘What can we do to make this song like something we’ve never heard before? That’s why I inserted the text arguments I had with an ex-girlfriend of mine. The modern twist of the sounds of the cell phone leave you shaken by the whole thing.” He recounts the first time he knew he wanted to become a musician came when he was 11-yearsold and scribbling down his very first songs. “I was really sure that this was what I wanted to do in my life pretty early on, I would write like two lines and never finish them,” he says. Even though Finneas has gone through the trials and tribulations of teenage years and early adulthood, he finds himself going back to the songs he wrote as an adolescent and trying to finish the collection of incomplete songs. He remarks that most of his songs are written in a place of isolation. Particularly, because he enjoys
working alone as those sessions closely touch a level of vulnerability and self-expression you cannot get anywhere else. In the past two years, Billie and Finneas wove together melodic hit record after hit record. They have both grasped how to navigate a world that catapulted them into a seemingly fast ascension to international attention. “We blew the f*** up. It’s all very crazy. But our songwriting process hasn’t changed from when we were both just writing in Billie’s room,” he states. “We still make everything wherever we are, whether that be in a bedroom or in a greenroom.” The live setting during his consistent tour schedule put it into perspective for Finneas how people react to the songs he has made. “When people cry to the songs, it’s really impactful because I know, I really hold songs that make me cry near and dear to me. That’s when a song stops feeling like it’s mine its yours now.” He roughly tries to recite a quote from one of his favorite authors, John Green about books belonging to the readers, “When you make a thing and you put it out, it’s not really yours anymore. The people who listen to this that’s who this belongs to,” he concludes. At 21-years-old, Finneas finds that a wide variety of affirmations guide his music catalogue. Most of them are manifestations of love and projections of growth. “Let’s Fall In Love For The Night” encounters a young Finneas learning how to navigate a long distance relationship via FaceTime calls. “That’s a whole song about the temporary nature of things. I’ve been very pleased to find out that other people can relate to
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aring e h d n a w o h live s a g in y la p , y ll "Externa other people interpret your music, relate
some kind to it, understand it, and feel of way about it. Itâ€™s really amazin g." 122
that song in any small fashion,” he says, “It makes me really happy.” Lyrically, Finneas acknowledges ‘Break My Heart Again’ as the song worthy of the title as most proud of composing. “It was the most true. As a songwriter, I’m not above changing the truth if it feels better. The way ‘Break My Heart Again’ turned out, it somehow lyrically rhymed together. Most importantly, it’s crazy that I got tell so much of the truth within one song,” he says. When 2019 draws to a close, Finneas hopes to release more songs that emerge from a process of meticulously picking and prodding at lyrics and production. “I want to put out a bunch of stuff this year. I like to make sure that people know that things I’m taking the time to put out are really important to me,” he states, “If I’m putting love and time into it, they’re going to put time to listen to it.” He wants to ensure that his collection of music is the utmost best for listeners that are patiently waiting for more singles and potentially a future album. The confines of a thirty minute phone interview were enough to accentuate his fervor to share more music. Every song invokes imagery, inflicts emotion, and displays an artist that is honed into the craft of songwriting. Finneas’ lived experience are narratives that his listeners interpret and find the sense of comfort they were yearning for. He is conscious in delivering earnest glimpses into his internal monologues that radiate emotions in anyone that is willing to listen.
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WRITTEN BY CAROLINE EDWARDS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ISHAH SHAH
PATRICK MARTIN’s music will have you nostalgic about your first love. Martin is a hopeful romantic and despite it all, believes that in real, incredible love exists. His debut single “Cinema Love” is an ode to just that: a powerful pop ballad that depicts the extraordinary kind of love that most people believe only exists in movies. However, Martin has experienced it first-hand. With only two singles out, Martin is already making a name for himself by appearing on Spotify’s release radar and having fans like Tyler Oakley. Although his album isn’t due until later this year, we can’t wait to embark on a magical love story, which might even turn the most cold-hearted cynics into romantics. “You know that love everyone sees the movie? That’s what I experienced,” Martin explains, remarking about his single ‘Cinema Love.’ “What everyone longs for, what everyone doesn’t think exists. I’ve experienced it, I’ve lived it. It may be a glimpse of one night, but it does exist.” Martin grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, but has more recently made Los Angeles his home. He says growing up in the Midwest influenced him as a person, which has rubbed off on his music. “People can usually tell that I’m not from here, that I’m from the Midwest,” Martin laughs. He says it’s the relationships and people he met while living in Wisconsin that have influenced his storytelling more than his hometown itself, with an upcoming song based on the small town he grew up in. “There’s a song to have coming out at some point that is about growing up and being from a small town,” Martin says. “I’d sneak out of my house with a girl and we’d just go drive around and we just go park in an empty parking lot and make out and shit like that. I feel like that’s a very small town thing to do because there wasn’t really much else to do.” Martin’s his first album is love-based and eclectic because he’s not currently signed to a major label. However, his voice that melts like butter as he belts pop anthems like “Stranger Nights,” which can anyone’s attention. Inspired by the classic rock he listened to growing up, which consisted of The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart, Martin explains he’s drawn to anthemic sounds. “When I write, I think about what I grew up listening to it and what really just hit me over and over and over again,” Martin explains, sharing how the heartbreak of Damien Rice’s “Blower’s Daughter” and John Mayer’s “Gravity” shaped his songwriting.
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Although Martin is drawn to powerful storytelling and sounds, he wants to create timeless music that makes people feel something. “I certainly have my share of ballads in mid-tempo songs, but a lot of times my songs end up leaning towards anthemic, dancier things that people just want to jump up and down [to] and scream every single word,” Martin reveals. “That’s what I enjoy listening to when I go to concerts and it’s a real experience. It’s something that you walk away from a show and [are] like, ‘That song gave me life.’” As successful as Martin’s debut singles are, he was originally wanted to be a therapist and studied psychology and sociology. After studying at a research lab, Martin explained he “wasn’t cut out for sitting on a computer going through data for 10 hours” and began following his passion by working with an electronic producer and moving to Los Angeles. It paid off. Martin now has over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, as fans eagerly await the release of his album. As a ‘lover of life’ and hopeful romantic, Martin says he likes the ‘cute shit’ and is a chipper, excitable person who takes time to admire flowers and dogs. One thing he loves is a good romantic movie, as he gushed about his favorite films, which include Like, Crazy and Before Sunrise. In fact, he once built a girl a table, similar to what happens in Like, Crazy. “She just wanted a Bonsai tree, so I made this little table and we named the tree Buddy and I carved the name Buddy into this little table that I made for her and I surprised her with it,” Martin smiles. It’s Martin’s romantic soul and first love is what drove the songwriting process for the album. “I feel like that’s common for a lot of artists — that’s what gets people,” Martin explains. “I mean, writing to begin with is when they’re broken hearted and they just need an outlet. So my music now is very love-leaning and it’s very much based off relationship, one in particular, well two in particular, but mostly the first one.” Talking about his first love is hard, even though the relationship ended years ago. “I still think about her,” Martin shares. “I still wonder what she’s doing. I wonder how she’s doing. A lot of that is she’s been my muse for so long and it’s difficult. I have incredibly vivid dreams about her, that just you wake up and it felt so real and I don’t think I would be having those all the time if I wasn’t constantly talking about her and writing about her. It’s like I’m not actually moving on from this whole story because I’m still talking about it all the time.”
His debut single “Cinema Love” was based off of one night between Martin and the girl when they started dating and they went back to his parent’s house. Martin is nostalgic as he reminisces on the vivid memory. “We were in my childhood bedroom, which I shared with my brother and we pulled the two mattresses, mine and my brother’s, onto the ground,” Martin recalls. ”We made this kind of fort-type thing and it was just one of those nights where I felt like a little kid … You’re kind of just living for the moment all the time because you don’t have the capacity to be thinking about like your future. That’s what it felt like to me as at however old I was, a 19 or 20 year old kid. It just felt like I was young again and just nothing else existed outside of that bedroom.”
The music video is not for the faint of heart, as it will give you all the feels. With vintage-tones, an old car and movie projector, all wrapped up in a powerful love story, the music video is timeless, like all great love stories. “If I had to make the perfect video that describes me, that would be pretty close,” Martin gushes. The first love is always the hardest to get over, and Martin is using the final track on the album is an act of closure. “The last song is kind of closing that book to really allow myself to heal from it and allow myself to move on entirely.” When Martin’s album drops, you can expect pop ballads and feel-good, dancy songs. We’re so excited to hear the ending of Martin’s love story and hear his debut album. Whatever you do, don’t break his heart.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BENJAMIN LIEBER MODEL NOSAKHERE CASH STYLING BENJAMIN LIEBER & NOSAKHERE CASH BROOKLYN, NY WAXED SUIT BY EYTYS, STUDDED DENIM SUIT BY DRIES VAN NOTEN, SNAKE SKIN SNEAKERS BY ALYX, PURPLE SNEAKERS BY YEEZY, PAPERBOY CAP BY TARGET /GOODFELLOW & CO.
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avel r n u gabriella hughes photographer NASHVILLE, TN INSTAGRAM @GABRIELLAHUGHES WEBSITE: GABRIELLAHUGHES.COM ILLUSTRATIONS BY JEN KLUKAS
Every few days I find a song that I listen to on repeat during every drive, every shower, every walk, etc. Right now it’s “Attention” by Joji.
CELEB CRUSH: Harry Styles, because Harry Styles. But more recently, Steve Lacy. Apollo XXI is everything, specifically “Only If,” “Hate CD,” and “In Lust We Trust.” Also, he is simply the cutest guitarist around.
LOCAL GEM: We have this beautiful park in Nashville called Percy Warner. There is a road that takes you through a majority of it and at a point you will reach a steeplechase that is used for horse races. I’ve never seen it in use, but it‘s just a really cool place that I find myself at for hours.
YOUR HOROSCOPE Sagittarius. And yes, pretty much through and through.
ON YOUR FOLLOW RADAR:
I don’t really follow anything telling towards who I am, but @blondedocean on Twitter keeps me up to date on Frank Ocean news and I appreciate that.
DREAM DESTINATION: I‘ve only ever lived on the east coast, so I just wanna explore some sand dunes throughout New Mexico and California. But also, to be able to go camping and hiking throughout Miyajima, Japan is something I would love to do.
for us, itâ€™s about being creative as possible, yes we have guitars
but i think simply because thatâ€™s what we grew up playing