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Eight is a special number. It’s my lucky number. Eight incredible years as we learned through our mistakes, cheered over a new milestone and stressed with unforeseen issues along the journey of a digital and print magazine. No one said it will be an easy road but quoting the genius himself, Paul Rudd “Hey, look at us! Wow, look how far we've come!" This is exactly how I feel. I collaborated with our illustrator, Sama to create a Magic 8 themed anniversary feature. I’d like to thank every single soul who has collaborated, contributed or supported us thus far. Thank you for allowing my team at Local Wolves to create content and share stories to inspire readers like you. Endless love to our wolfies, cheers to what’s to come in the future and beyond. CATHRINE KHOM CATHRINE@LOCALWOLVES.COM





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local wolves • editor’s letter • 3



classics 02

editor’s letter






wolf ie submissions




what to watch when


c’est la vie




the new narrative



features 42

emily henegar


the polar boys




derek luh


the greeting committee


disco shrine


max cronen


alex kinsey






greyson chance




spencer barnett




jordi saenz


joe desantis


in the scene


carlie hanson


yoshi f lower



perspectives 36



dressed up for the letdown




the arrival of boycaro




idle dreams



local wolves is an independent digital and print magazine driven by the passion of storytelling for creative minds from diverse fields of work.

alex kinsey @alexkinsey los angeles, ca

diplomacy @diplomacy734 los angeles, ca


audrey nuna @audreynuna new jersey, nj

disco shrine @discoshrine los angeles, ca

avery risch (risch group) @averyrisch chicago, il

emily henegar @cookieinthekitchen atlanta, ga

general info@localwolves.com press press@localwolves.com advertising advertising@localwolves.com get involved community@localwolves.com

WOLFIE TEAM founder / editor-in-chief cathrine khom copy editor sophia khom outreach coordinator penelope martinez social media coordinator jessica spiers music curator sena cheung web design jesus acosta logo lisa lok / fiona yeung cover photo dillon matthew design / illustration annie lefforge, geordon wollner, jen klukas, jenny sorto, kendall wisniewski, lisa lok, sama al-zanoon, yoolim moon contributing writers amanda galvez, avery risch, boma iluma, boycaro, caroline edwards, cassie wilson, chelsea dunstall, danielle fusaro, dillon matthew, jasmine rodriguez, kelsey barnes, lauren speight, mica kendall, michelle ledesma, miranda reyes, natasa kvesic, nick ayala, nicolle maroulis, peyton marek, priszcilla varga, steven ward contributing photographers allison park, amanda adam, armin tehrani, christy flaherty, dillon matthew, emily dubin, emily saenz, gabriella hughes, hannah bernabe, joel bear ross, lauren kim, lex gallegos, max cronen, ragan henderson, salam zaied, shawn binder, sophia ragomo, stephanie estrada, taja spasskova

carlie hanson @carliehanson los angeles, ca cassie wilson (half access) @halfaccess united states chelsea dunstall (8123) @81twentythree phoenix, az cuja @cujamusic culver city, ca derek luh @derek_luh los angeles, ca

greyson chance @greysonchance oklahoma, ok joe desantis @mrjoedesantis los angeles, ca jordie saenz @itsjordie orange county, ca juj @imjustjuj los angeles, ca max cronen @bikergangboy dallas, tx nick ayala (vertigo volumes) @vertigovolumes fontana, ca

nicolle maroulis (no more dysphoria) @nomoredysphoria montclair, nj peyton marek @peytonmarek los angeles, ca spencer barnett @spencerbarnett los angeles, ca the greeting committee @thegcband kansas city, mo the polar boys @thepolarboys miami, fl umi @whoisumi los angeles, ca wenzday @wenzdaymusic los angeles, ca yoshi flower @yoshiflower detroit, mi

music issue playlist



Scared / Pearl Sugar Today / Mura Masa ft. Tirzah Key to Love (Is Understanding) / BADBADNOTGOOD & Jonah Yano 5AM / James Tillman Velvet Light / Jakob Ogawa Nina / Crumb Talk About It (B-Side) / Kate Bollinger Peach Fuzz / Tyler the Creator Polly Pocket / Daniela Andrade Falling in Loves too Mean / Hether symbol / Adrienne Lenker Grey Area / Jerry Paper ft. Weyes Blood Lovestained / Hope Tala Country Song / Joy Again Tenderness / Jay Som Only She Knows / Loving Insert Generic Name / Okay Kaya (SheÕs) Just a Phase / Puma Blue A Feeling / zack villere Tœ / maye

local wolves • playlist • 9


Before 2019, the furthest I had ever been outside of my small town in Northern Vermont was Montreal, Canada—and even that was only three hours away from my home. As a teen I never had a car, and when I was a child my parents often didn’t have the means to travel. I spent most of my life in a Vermont town that only had 800 people, a few hundred cows, a one room schoolhouse, and a 10-foot-by-10-foot general store that sold bread, milk, eggs, and beer. Most people could drive on our one badly paved road and not even realize they were passing through a town. How could a place that small be a town? I lived in a part of the world the size of a postage stamp. A stamp that was never mailed anywhere.

keep going

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local wolves • pinpoint — 11

In January 2019, my second semester as a college junior, I took a plane to Dublin, Ireland. Coming to Dublin for a semester abroad with my college was one of the biggest steps I’ve taken—a step that completely uprooted me. I wasn’t used to all of the cars and people and smells and sounds of the city. During that first week in Dublin, I felt like I had forgotten how to walk. I was constantly knocking into people, tripping on grates, running into street vendors just trying to sell their purses and candy bars. I returned to my apartment everyday with bruises on my ankles and knees. At night, I would lie awake listening to the sirens of the garda, wondering how quiet it was back home. But then a few weeks into my semester, just when I was feeling my most lost, my writing professor took me to the Iveagh Gardens—a Dublin park hidden behind rows of office buildings and parking lots. For ten minutes, she told me to just walk and look. Just look. “See what attracts you,” she said. “What pulls you in?” It was then when I started seeing the little things. A small wooded path that looked like the hiking trail behind my house. The circles of log seats at the edge of the park that resembled the ones my friends and I used to stack for our bonfires. A rose garden that felt just as cozy and unkempt as my Vermont college’s community garden. This hidden park felt like it could have been in Vermont, miles and miles away.

What pulls you in? Suddenly, Ireland became a whole new place. That coffee shop above that bookstore smelled like wood and dust and grounds—just like my favorite spot to study in back home. The perfectly smooth, round rocks on the beaches of Bray were like the ones I used to skip on the lake with my Grandmother. The hills of Glendalough National Park looked just like the mountain ranges of Vermont. Ireland became beautiful and comforting all at once. I went bookstore hopping every weekend. My friends in and I became regulars at a pub. I started a love affair with the scones from the bakery down the street from my campus. I watched the ducks and swans from the stone bridge in Saint Stephen's Green. I even learned how to play the tin whistle, a small, loud traditional Irish instrument. After that class in the Iveagh Gardens, I no longer returned to my apartment with bruises. It finally felt like I had remembered how to walk again. I used to think that if you were going abroad, you had to leave everything from home behind. But in actuality, I think finding touches of home in Ireland made me realize just how beautiful it is, and how much of a home it too could be. I was pulled in by those little touches, and once I was pulled in, I didn’t look back.


local wolves • pinpoint • 13


local wolves • pinpoint • 15




Music fandom culture has impacted my life in such a deeply, positive way and means a lot to me. Music fandom culture has shaped my life in many different ways, from friends that I have made, to the confidence that I feel within myself daily. My love for music has been growing immensely from a young age. Today, the music fandom culture has led me to meet up with friends all across the world. I met one of my close friends at a 5SOS concert back in November 2018, who lives a three-hour flight away from me, living in Gibraltar; I have made a friend for life through the music fandom culture. With the growth of social media, I have been able to communicate with those all around the world who feel just as passionate about the same artists as me, that this is a beautiful thing. I feel as though I have made friends for life through the music fandom culture. Within the digital culture of the 21st century, social media apps such as Twitter and Instagram in particular, have been fueling the bond between fans and artists worldwide for years. Developing the endless possibilities of fans being able to communicate with artists they love. Metaphorically breaking down the walls between the artists and the fan base, constructing a bond that is treasured by both the artist, and the fandom which is why I feel as though fan culture is constantly evolving via the internet and social media. Music fandom culture has introduced me to artists who make me feel empowered, and liberated within an age that breeds insecurities and negativity. For example, Hayley Kiyoko has recently enabled me to feel comfort in my sexuality, coming out to my family and friends as bisexual. Kiyoko’s courage and vulnerability to be open with the world and bringing awareness to the LGBTQIA+ community was extremely inspiring to me, and signifies how she is unapologetically taking a huge stand for the lack of representation of lesbians within the media today.I recently had the privilege of seeing Kiyoko at Leeds Festival on the 24th of August, where she performed hit songs such as ‘Curious’ and her latest single, ‘I Wish’ in front of hundreds of joyous fans, she later took a photograph with a large group of fans, including myself and posted it on her Twitter page!

Something that I personally feel is valued within the music fandom community is vulnerability. The ability to be vulnerable, both on and offline can be proven difficult by many of us. However, the everlasting bond between fans and artists has evolved by the transparency shown by artists, using their large media platforms to construct an authentic level of honesty that can also be reciprocated by fans. The power of vulnerability can break stigmas that may have been placed previously by society. An artist that continues to defy stigma within the mental health community is Demi Lovato. Lovato has been brutally honest with her fan base as she discusses her battles with mania, bulimia, bipolar disorder and battles with addiction, as an activist in order to inspire people who may be battling with both physical and mental health issues, whether this be through campaigning for multiple mental health charities, to becoming an ambassador for mental health with the social platform ‘Global Citizen’. Moreover, in 2018, Lovato introduced a free discussion upon hardships and mental health issues whilst on her ‘Tell Me You Love Me tour’ where she worked with professionals in the CAST Foundation, where Lovato herself attended treatment in the past. Lovato’s purpose as an artist is evidenced by the way in which she strives to motivate and change the lives of those suffering, for the better. Being part of Lovato’s fandom means so much to me as a survivor of both mental and physical health issues. Another reason why I hold music fandom culture so close to my heart is the power that music has on those listening. Music can make us feel any emotion possible. Some songs make us cry, both tears of joy, and sadness. Music reminds us of a time we wish to remember forever, or sometimes a point in time that we wish we could sometimes forget; like an escapism. We can feel comfort in a song, or have the feeling of hundreds of tiny little butterflies buzzing around our stomach when a song begins. I believe the music fandom culture will continue to evolve constantly, via the power of the internet and social media, much like the everlasting bond between artists and their fan bases. — EMILIE MAE THORPE / WEST YORKSHIRE, UK

local wolves • wolfie submissions • 17

WHAT BEING IN A FANDOM IS ABOUT: I’ve always found it interesting how people view fandoms. They seem to think it’s a bunch of boy-obsessed teenage girls who fall in love with celebrities that will never know they exist. We’ve all heard the “it’s just a phase” line one too many times. Little do these people know that this love for artists goes beyond our rooms, our phones, age, gender, genre, and even beyond the artists themselves. I remember when I first downloaded Twitter to keep up with 5 Seconds of Summer. I was shocked and excited when I saw all these people who supported the band interacting with one another in various ways, from wishing each other luck on their exams to joining together to vote for the band during award show season. A couple of years down the line, I joined a group chat with other 5SOS stans from around the world, and I built friendships with people who I never would have crossed paths with if it wasn’t for our shared interest in one band. In the years following, I began to wait in line for The 1975 and LANY concerts hours before the doors opened (yes, even overnight), and more friendships were born out of these times. As we sat there getting ready in line, saving each other’s spots while we looked for a restroom in some restaurant, sharing blankets, we shared memories of other concerts, of our interactions with artists. Friendships that were already developed grew even more. Friends from school became concert buddies, and we planned how we were going to convince our parents to let us skip class and take us to a show. Concert experiences went beyond the performances to include those long hours of travelling and waiting in line, figuring out what we should actually bring inside the venue, deciding if that merch was really worth the $50 (spoiler: it was). And, of course, there’s the downsides of large groups of people coming together. There are disagreements, drama, arguments over who is a “real” fan. But after everything, these fans come together to cheer their favorite artist on, and they might, just might, realize how similar they really are to one another despite their differences.

So, why are there so many people in fandoms around the world? What’s so great about them that artists even have personal names for them? What is being in a fandom about? After 6 years of being a part of fandoms, I feel like I may have a tiny idea of what they’re really about. Being in a fandom is about community. It’s about building relationships with people who understand and share your love for an artist. As these relationships grow, they go beyond the fandom, and strangers who you would have never met become friends who are there supporting you daily. Being in a fandom is about recognition. It’s about the artist recognizing the fan as more than a fan and the fan recognizing the artist as more than who they are in the media or on stage. It’s about recognizing a shared love for music, a shared emotion that is expressed in a song, a shared situation in life. The person on stage is more similar to the person in the crowd than others may think. Being in a fandom is about expression. It’s about expressing your gratitude toward an artist for all their music has done for you. It’s about expressing your emotions as you scream the lyrics to your favorite song at the top of your lungs with tears streaming down your face. Being in a fandom is about love and support. It’s about loving and supporting those artists who have shared their hearts and lives with others through their music; however, this love and support can include many things. It may mean having to communicate to an artist or to other fans when they have done something wrong. After all, no human being is perfect. Mostly, though, fans and artists express that love and support to one another for all the ways their lives have been impacted by each other. Artists create music that means something, and the fans appreciate that. Fans support artists whose music brings joy into their lives, reminds them that they are not alone in whatever they are going through, and describes those things we sometimes cannot put into our own words. So, let’s forget about the stereotypes and people’s judgmental comments and stares at concerts. I think we’re the winners at the end of it all. — KATIA QUIROZ / LOS ANGELES, CA


Nostalgia is something I’m always thinking of and I like to showcase it with my work. Using the phone reminds me of those nights I would stay up late talking to my friends. I’m inspired by music a lot and I wanted to capture that nostalgic feeling with my friend who is a musician.


Music means everything to me. It changes my mood instantly. The feeling of the bass inside my entire head, thudding, blocking out everything around me. Deeply listening to every sound in a piece in an attempt to understand it more. It makes a moment in time, a perfect one. Certain pieces transport me back into the past, placing me into the mind set I was in when I listened to the song on repeat for that one week in the summer. All of my surroundings have been brought to me by music. My friends, my family, all I have met in arenas and online, with the sole interest being an artist we all share admiration for. An arena full of people, all there for the same reason, all there to support someone for different reasons. The atmosphere of love, acceptance and appreciation, everyone singing together, no judgment, just freedom.



local wolves • wolfie submissions • 19

Music has always been a major player in my life, just like photography but I had a strange disconnect when it came to concert photography: it felt very passive, as if that stageto-audience separation was always reflected in the pictures I took. Native Sun was that spark I needed. Native Sun, a phenomenal rock and roll group here in Brooklyn. They are conquering the genre in a time where it’s otherwise slowly fading away. Native Sun infuses their lyrics/ sound with an infectious energy: they address their experiences as latino immigrants in this country and the landscape of living in NYC in their 20’s. They are loud, they are high energy, they are sweaty, they are fun, they shamelessly ask for Mezcal every show, and they leave it all on the stage each and every time, whether it’s a crowd of 5 or 500. They were total immersion: I was no longer just observing, I was participating. The music was palpable in the moments I captured. This was my creative breakthrough. I am forever thankful to them for that. This is the power of rock and roll. — GABRIELA DELLA CORNA / BROOKLYN, NY


Music is incredible, and it gives you the most beautiful feeling that you’ve ever felt, a feeling that you’ll never forget and remember forever. That feeling lingers with you for the rest of your life. I’ve spent a lot of time going to shows in recent years, sometimes even traveling for shows too, but the feeling of being in a room full of people who are there for the same reason as you never seems to not amaze me. Some of the greatest moments in my life happened because of music, and the bands I hold so close to my heart. There are a few things I love the most about music, and going to shows in general are how I met one of my best friends through our mutual love of music, the influx of young girls who love music so much who always occupy the front row, and the feeling you get when you enter a venue knowing that show could possibly change everything. The way music makes you feel like you’ve just entered a different world, away from everything that’s pestering you and just for a moment in time you feel like you just got home. Yes, music is universal and the fact that it speaks to people all over the world in different ways is absolutely mind boggling. Due to music I’ve gotten to connect with people all over the world, and of course thanks to the internet. Being able to have that pure love for something being shared with another person is the most heartwarming feeling in the world. It’s like going to a show in another city that you’ve never been to before with people you met through your favorite band, or artist. A family you’ve created because of music. No one ever talks about how music can lead you on the best and most surreal adventures of your life, the cities you’ve never imagined going too, but you somehow end up there anyway. That’s what it’s like being a fan of music, the spontaneity that comes along with it. There are people who don’t understand, and judge you for loving something so much, or going to see a band a lot, but you will always understand why you’ve been working so hard just to get the right amount of money, so you can go off and see your favorites with your favorite people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a massive fan of music, it has to be that I learned more about myself and what I want in life because I was able to immerse myself so much into something I love more than anything. Being a fan of music made me who I am, and I know a lot of people could say the same for themselves. Despite the ridicule and some of the time people not understanding where you are coming from there are still that small, or big group of people you’ve met through music who will always understand. The bond music fans have with music in general is unbreakable. Whether you’ve only gone to a handle full of shows, or you’ve traveled far and wide for your favorite band, or artist there’s nothing more pure than loving something so much that it makes you a hopefully better version of yourself. That feeling, and bond we make with other people due to the fact we all have a strong feeling towards music that can be so hard to comprehend, or in this case even write about is something beautiful. Music fans, like myself, we’re here, there and everywhere. Nothing can ever change that. — MELODY J. MYERS / UNITED STATES


These photos were taken on tour with The High Divers and Babe Club in June 2019. Music photography is my greatest passion in this life; moving with an artist and attempting to capture the moments and actually doing it is the best feeling in this world. I am forever grateful for this art form. — MIA AL-TAHER / CHARLESTON, SC

When I think about music, two scenes come to mind. One is of a dark room. It smells like sweating bodies and beer and I can barely breathe. The people around me are screaming and I am too. I can’t really understand what’s going on but I know that my heart is pounding and my eyes are focused ahead. Like everyone else’s, they’re bright and glowing and watching with wonderment as the people we love walk across that stage. That stage, that is certainly an arms length away but still seems impossible to reach. I know that if I stretch my arm out, I can touch it with my shaking hands. Then that first pluck of the guitar, the first hit of the cymbal, the first sound starts and everything goes wild and I can’t really tell if this is real or not. For the first time, I can feel the songs I love. I can feel it through the crowd, a small room of two hundred kids who all love the same music I do. I can feel it through the artists, whose faces are so abstract from what I’ve seen online. I can feel it through each hit of the drum and strum of the guitar. It all comes alive for the first time, like a slumbering animal that finally decided to wake. The other scene is of a groggy Monday morning. I’m running on four hours of sleep. I drudge my way to class and plop down at my seat. My eyes are tired and I keep wandering off, only to jolt awake again. I don’t want to be here. In fact, I want nothing more than to be asleep in my bed. This isn’t too different from my regular Monday morning, except this one is different. Like the crowd had awoken the previous night, so has my soul. The sparks of a fire have been rekindled and I’m now roaring with some strange mix of happiness and sorrow. My mind is soaring with a thousand thoughts. Will


I ever see that artist again, or was last night the only time our paths would ever cross? I’ve folded up the memories and tucked them away deep in my heart, like a letter waiting to be reopened. Music is something that trails behind me like a restless spirit, something that peeks its way through the everyday crevices and corners of my life. Once I put the headphones in, my head is gone and I’m entangled in another world of verses and song. There’s something different that happens when I go to a concert, though. Something comes out in everyone, something almost animalistic. Everyone here is feeling what I’m feeling; the energy in the air, the crackle of adrenaline that’s pushing through the room. We’re all sharing this exact second, this exact moment. The thought is powerful enough on it’s own. Even though the stage divides artists from fans, it also unites us in a sense. The barriers don’t matter; the stage isn’t real. How do I know this? Because I know that the people on that stage are also sharing this moment with us. They can feel the roar of the crowd, hear the sound of the fans as they clamor and cry out. Every second, every moment is sacred not just to them, but to all of us. It’s a secret garden, of sorts. A place of recluse and refuge, far away from the world. You can find it anywhere but you have to look. Dingy one hundred cap bars, basements and old garages; all of these places are home to a music scene and fandom of their own. All of these people — the artists, the crowd — all of them are strangers, and yet I’ve never felt more at home. So, what does the music scene mean to me? It means inclusivity, it means wild joy, it means bringing people together instead of tearing them apart. — AYESHA FAISAL / TORONTO, CANADA

Nothing has ever captured my attention quite like the G note at the beginning of the song “Welcome to the Black Parade.” Before I heard this song, my musical education had only ever consisted of what was on the radio at the time, subject to my parents’ whims. Hearing this song from a school friend and sneakily watching the music video on YouTube felt like another world had opened up to me. I was captivated by the costumes and makeup, the dramatism, and of course the lyrics. I don’t know if I was the typical “angsty teen” or playacted as one. My Chemical Romance was a band that became popular for being different. And for someone who felt isolated and misunderstood in various social situations, their unapologetic act of being themselves seemed revolutionary to teenaged me. I felt as though I was unable to express my true self, and perhaps I’ll always feel that way, but My Chemical Romance seemed to see me. I would fantasize about meeting them and asking about their creative process while dazzling them. Fantasies don’t have to be realistic. When I watch their music videos, I’m always taken aback by their concept albums and the theatricality of the band. I’m most influenced by the video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” as the sheer visual feast always stuns me. An iconic monochromatic, darker take on marching band uniforms, combined with the liberal use of eyeliner and more subdued hair captured my imagination. It quite literally symbolized the way I felt inside when I felt unable to express more negative feelings and insecurities. Yet this era was significantly different from the vibe of the Killjoys era. The technicolor hair, vibrant outfits and a 2-d styled plot had its own appeal and catchy anthems. This album and its music videos remind me of the dangers of powerful people and corporations, and that my rebellion was misplaced on the wrong authority figures. Before seeing these concept albums, I had never considered theatricality as an expression of creativity – only as an example of trying to hard – but my mind changed after seeing them embrace the dramatic. I was inspired to apply some of that dramatism to my own life, and always try to add some levels of theatricality in my own creations.

My Chemical Romance has left a long-lasting legacy on popular culture, especially on the internet. Depending on who you ask, that impact is felt differently. In high school, I discovered Tumblr and a community of likeminded internet users. Many people tend to equate My Chemical Romance to angsty goth teenage fangirls that are obsessed with Gerard Way, which is just an indication of how society likes to minimize artists’ impacts based on their teenaged fangirls. But we fail to acknowledge that in the midst of hormones, teens are facing insecurity caused by an onslaught of media. My Chemical Romance was the band that gave me a voice when I felt I didn’t have the words to express myself. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but attempts at policing others’ musical interests through some arbitrary measure of “good” or “bad” musicians is ridiculous and condescending. I will forever be grateful to being exposed to songs that frankly discussed darker themes with memorable visuals. As someone who was incapable of drawing darker imagery, My Chemical Romance gave me inspiration when I still went to art class. The guitar riffs combined with Gerard Way’s unmistakable vocals and raw emotion allowed me to expect that My Chemical Romance could consistently help me work through my emotions. Their songs give me the strength to pursue my dreams and expand my artistic pursuits. While I haven’t been “saved” by My Chemical Romance, their music consistently transports me back to high school and remember the last time I was awe-stricken. They’ve also influenced my music tastes forever as I tend to listen to “sad girl” songs or singers with leather jackets and a sad look in their eyes. But most of all, as times and politics change, I think we all need things that make us unabashedly happy as an escape. For me, that’s My Chemical Romance. What about you? — MICHELLE WETH / SAN JOSE, CA

local wolves • wolfie submissions • 23



The art of storytelling is an international affair. It’s precisely the mixing of tongues and cultures that gives rise to such a rich method of learning and understanding between groups of people; yet in the western world, when we propagate the tales of centuries past to our children and claim them to be from the brightest and most groundbreaking of writers, the tongues begin to wither and we find ourselves plucking stories all from the same mouth. Most of us know Shakespeare said, “I defy you, stars!” in Romeo and Juliet, but less of us have had the opportunity to fall in love with the way Cheikh Hamidou Kane said, “I fix my eyes upon you, and you glitter, without limit,” in Ambiguous Adventure or the way Rabindranath Tagore said, “If my heart is breaking—let it break! That will not make the world bankrupt— nor even me; for man is so much greater than the things he loses in this life,” in The Home and the World. This domination of Eurocentric literary agendas in public schools has tangible social and economic implications. As it becomes obvious when studying any nucleus of glamorized occupation, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Washington, career opportunities and accurate representation within a craft are frustratingly inextricable, often cyclically so. But when it comes to literature, how do we break this cycle? Two rappers seem to have a few ideas. Music and literature have been long intertwined, but often at a level we call high brow (or rich and white, whatever fits best on the label). It’s not entirely our own fault; it’s what we’ve been fed all along. When thinking of people consuming music and literature, it’s easy for the average imagination to take a very Donna Tartt turn before it can recenter the wheel — don’t get me wrong, I adore The Secret History as much as the next person obsessed with ridiculous murders and pretentious sweaters tucked into widelegged pants. But we must address that it’s a bit recycled of an aesthetic as is. This type of imagination is in much want of piquancy, but luckily, rappers like Noname and Stormzy have risen to the challenge. In the past year they have dedicated efforts to provide the public with access to reading and writing books by and for people of color.

Every month, the book club shares two titles by writers of color or from the LGBTQ community and gives its members resources to access these books at local participating minority-owned bookstores or libraries. Some bookstores further give their space to the optional monthly book club meet ups. Currently with physical operations in six major cities, Noname Book Club is only expanding further as time goes on, dedicating extra efforts in 2020 to accumulate enough funds to deliver the monthly selections to certain prisons. While nonmembers can still grab themselves a copy of the book, be a part of the book club community, and buy merchandise knowing 100% of the profit goes towards book club maintenance, membership (which ranges from $1 to $10 per month) allows for advance notice of book club meet ups and for individuals to help the club expand its network.

Noname’s mother was the first black woman to own a bookstore in Chicago. Stormzy is famous for his political activism and has written his own book, Rise Up. And while the rigidity of the genre boundary arguably decays, hip-hop and rap rely more heavily on phonemic awareness in comparison to their pop and electronic competitors, and so while both Noname and Stormzy have shown personal interest in literature, it can also be posited that their craft required a certain level of appreciation from them.

Noname is not alone in her advocacy for reading books by underrepresented demographics, however. There’s London-based grime artist Stormzy, who just released his chart-topping album, Heavy Is The Head, on December 13th, a year and a half after he announced his #Merky Books venture in partnership with Penguin Random House. “I know too many talented writers that don’t always have an outlet or a means to get their work seen,” he wrote on his Instagram in June 2018 to promote the imprint, which he has since filled with young, diverse voices such as Chelsea Kwakye, Ore Ogunbiyi, and Derek Owusu. #Merky Books (“Merky,” by the way, is British slang for “incredibly good” as far as I can surmise) is just one of Stormzy’s latest moves in intertwining his art and activism. He’s used his performances as grounds for political stances, began scholarships for black students, has managed to get crowd after crowd to scream “Fuck the government and fuck Boris,” and as his art continues to gain traction, through #Merky Books, he is affording other voices the same platform.

Noname, who began as a slam poet, first caught widespread attention after featuring on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape. In 2016 she released her own, the acclaimed Telefone, and in 2018 her first studio album, Room 25. Since then, Noname has shifted part of her focus to her love of literature. After a tweet of hers in which she posted a photograph of a book caught traction in summer 2019, Noname began Noname Book Club, a community that shares “Reading material for the homies.”

Many of us, myself included, might feel a little sheepish when we pause to reassess the types of the writers and stories we are drawn to and why; it might feel daunting to know where to go in terms of collecting a more diverse personal library. But we have a few resources, and I suggest we all take a minute to explore the reading clubs, local bookstores, and publishing companies that champion marginalized voices, and perhaps consider taking a leaf out of wolves our favorite rappers’— 25 local • classics favorite books.




In movies, music has all the power. It can overwhelm us with sadness. It can fill us with joy. It can make us feel nostalgic for a different time. Music gives us permission to sing and dance our problems away, even if just for a short time. Here’s a list of movies that bring out the music in me—feel free to add your favorite Disney classic, Bollywood film, or Broadway adaptation.

SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003) DIRECTED BY RICHARD LINKLATER MUSIC BY CRAIG WEDREN When I watched School of Rock as a kid, I felt empowered. It made me feel like I could do anything and that I could do it at full volume. This movie always gets me laughing, singing, and dancing, but it also reaffirms the idea that we all have some connection to music. I could write more, but I think the iconic Battle of the Bands sequence is a topic for another day. AMY (2015) DIRECTED BY ASIF KAPADIA MUSIC BY ANTONIO PINTO

SINGING IN THE RAIN (1952) DIRECTED BY STANLEY DONEN & GENE KELLY MUSIC BY LENNIE HAYTON This classic film is one of the greatest musicals of all time. It’s set against Hollywood’s transition from silent film to “talkies.” In other words, actors are literally finding their voices. The timeless music and unparalleled choreography are guaranteed to get you splashing in the street. DIRTY DANCING (1987) DIRECTED BY EMILE ARDOLINO MUSIC BY JOHN MORRIS

This documentary about Amy Winehouse is important for many, many reasons. Not only does it give us the chance to listen to her unparalleled voice and raw lyrics, but it offers an honest portrait of an artist. This film deepened my respect for Amy, her music, and other musicians who give themselves entirely to their art.

Dirty Dancing is everything you want from an 80s dance movie. It makes you want to move your body, fall in love, and find a pair of those white Keds that Jennifer Grey wears. It reminds me to have fun while I’m young, and most importantly, that nobody puts baby in a corner.



Hearts Beat Loud is probably the most wholesome film I’ve seen in the last five years. In the movie, Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons form a father-daughter band, cleverly named, “We’re Not A Band.” What’s more wholesome than that? This movie wants nothing more than to show you how pure and simple one’s love for music can be.

This film is also a dance flick and also takes place during the 1980s, but it is set in North East England. The story starts when Billy hangs up his boxing gloves for ballet slippers and is forced to fight against all odds for his dream. This film inspires me to be both daring and disciplined in everything I do.

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I feel like I can say, without any real pushback, every single person has had a moment where they felt small and ashamed of what they like. Sometimes you do it yourself by trying to hide parts of you because you don’t think those things are cool or likable, but most of the time it’s the opinions, feelings, and judgment of other people that have us keeping tight lipped about the things are passionate about. For me, it always comes back to music. The first band I ever truly, deeply loved to the point where it teetered on the edge of obsession was the Jonas Brothers. I was 15 when I discovered them in my first year of high school—a place where I felt uncomfortable and out of place. The three floppy haired boys and their music entered my life at a time when I needed something to ground me; a way of making sure I kept sane in the day-to-day life of grade 9. It quickly became common knowledge that “Kelsey Barnes likes the Jonas Brothers” and that’s when the scoffs and remarks began: “You know they don’t make REAL music, right?” “Boybands are all manufactured! They aren’t real!” “How can you listen to them when there is much better music to listen to!” When you’re 15 and already feel like you aren’t cool or fit in, having everyone say your taste is bad is a pretty formative experience—one that tells you to be quiet about what you like unless it’s what everyone else likes. Although I still passionately supported them and found like-minded friends who got it, the feeling of shame was one I couldn’t just pretend didn’t exist or never happened—I carried it with me well into adulthood. I learned that to look cool you needed to only like “good” music, which typically means what some straight men claim as good. In my early 20s I adapted to that mindset; I avoided talking about the things I was passionate about that weren’t considered cool or good to make myself look better to other people. Trying to prove myself and my taste to people whose opinions, in retrospect, didn’t really matter made me feel hollow and empty; music didn’t have the same shine to it anymore; it wasn’t the thing I’d run to when I was in need of comfort.


As you get older, though, you meet people who don’t really care about what you like, they just want other people to be happy. At first it’s hard to shrug off the shame and feeling of embarrassment, but I think everyone at some point eventually leans into who they are and learns to embrace it. I’m happy that many of us outgrow the period of time when we feel we need to prove our taste or justify why we like something to other people. As I slowly reclaimed that part of me—the part that unashamedly loves boybands and pop music and is proud of it—I found myself feeling lighter and feeling more free, just like 15-year-old me did when she discovered those three Jonas Brothers. A few weeks ago I was having brunch with a friend who, when I asked what she had coming up, she listed a bunch of tour dates around the world to see BTS. Immediately after saying it she began starting to make excuses as to why she was going to so many, to which I replied “You don’t have to do that with me.” We don’t need to make excuses or explain why we like the music that we do because music is meant to be a unifyer; it brings people together over a shared love of music from an artist, whether that’s rock, indie, or one of the boyband variety. You don’t need to prove your taste to other people, you just need to put your headphones in and continue listening to Burnin’ Up on repeat.

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Standing in the open light, within the swelter of the night. Hearing these Maggie Rogers lyrics for the first time, I found myself tumbling backwards, as if sucked into the reverse of an old VCR tape. I was there, standing beneath the yellowing light of your porch. It was one of those closed-in porches, so you and the roommates could sing loudly and smoke in silence but no one could assign the sound or the smell to anyone in particular. You had left an old couch out there, the cushions browning with dirt. One time we wanted to get stupid drunk, the way we used to in your dorm sophomore year, but all you had was a bottle of Amaretto under your bed. I took a sip and watched you drink the rest and laughed, staring at the peeling white paint of the porch wall, its boards criss-crossed like some ancient trellis. Sometimes I thought, if left in my hands, I could fix up that place, buy some vines or flowers and let them tangle around the porch. I dreamt of scrubbing the kitchen floor clean, making breakfast in the mornings with your hand on my back. Of course, I would never tell you this, not at the time. Though eventually we’d wake up next to each another, not very surprised but giddy with excitement, and made piles and piles of pancakes for the boys. Finally, wearing your sweatshirt home meant something. Maggie takes me back to vivid memories of our last few weeks there, in your grubby, loveable house. Sitting on your porch, the two of us used to silence brewing between us, small sips of cheap wine. You told me about your dad, I told you about mine, and I knew something was emanating from my body that night and was awfully terrified to look you in the eye, because then you’d be abundantly sure that I’d be begging you to stay. But I couldn’t admit it. I couldn’t say it to myself.



But I did swirl myself down that rabbit hole, and Maggie returns me to it again. When you dropped me off at my place and told me within a sentence or so, and I blushed and said that I knew and I shut the car door behind me, stumbling up the stairs because I had no glasses on and because I never thought that I’d be burning that way. In each Maggie song, I have a bottled memory, jarred and hidden away in the back of a dark cupboard. But when popped open, I feel it all again, crashing all around me with a great triumphant sound. The colors are vivid, I can feel the chill of the wind at night, the touch of your hand on my cheek for the first time. Driving down streets mapped into my mind, Heard It In A Past Life rose from beneath my accelerator like a great wave, and I felt I was living it with her. I knew I had been living it with her. Because for the first time, with you, there was nothing to prove. I kept wearing my baggy jeans, let my hair fall victim to humidity, and I felt myself bursting with a confidence uncontrolled. The love that had always been the undercurrent of our friendship was out in the open now. It was a red slice of paint across a clean canvas, but it wasn’t terrifying. It was easy, like drinking water. It was an exhale, and I knew that for once I didn’t have to fight for love. It was there, given freely, like a globe in the palm of my hands. And with that, I was back in my body. My body, with all the moles scattered across my neck and shoulders, as if God had splatter-painted only the top half of my body, it was loved without question. My body was mine again. Loved by you, but mine again. Driving alone, the world searing past me in blots of light - the weird drive-in sushi place, the singular bar on huddled on main street - I felt that I had risen to something else. This time, I could do just about anything. This time I knew that, like Maggie, I’m fighting.

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THE NEW NARRATIVE Finally, it has clicked. I finally understand. I have found the power in communication — of my needs, of my desires, of building my own community to include more than who is just within arm’s reach. There is so much to gain from sharing with each other, distance apart aside, to speak openly in order to build each other up and continue the fight forward. Whether or not we share the same room, the same office, coffee shop, tour van, or photo pit, we are all connected through our passions. That “stuff” that keeps the fire in us lit and raging. We are all striving to do our best and wish to get the most out of our lives while we can, while they are still ours to live. We need to continue to ask the same questions to different people, or arguably, we could ask different questions to different people, but no matter how we do it, we have to start somewhere. We have to ask. No one goes through life the same, no one tends the same garden — it’s all about what we make of our experiences along the way and how we come to terms with them in the end. The individuals whose words follow my own create more than just images. They create feelings. They, somehow, find a way to bring things to life that we can’t begin to explain. They connect us to the artists within their frames to give us something to hold on to, something to dream about. By no means is this piece fully representative of all the independent visual artists currently making their way through the world, but rather an opportunity to highlight of a single moment with some of them that (respond to emails) and are getting their hands dirty, ready to pull their dreams up out of the ground. Lindsey Byrnes, Cynthia Parkhurst, and Muriel Margaret were all asked the same questions answered via email (or in the case of Byrnes, by the way of a 30-minute-turned-two-hour phone call) in order to share more of themselves, their passions, and shed a light on their view of the music industry as creatives, self-made entrepreneurs and photographers.





WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MUSIC? HOW DOES BEING A MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER FULFILL YOU? I've always been a super music fan. I've been in bands, which I never tell anyone — I actually met one of my favorite photographers because she shot my band. I was just into music. I was completely obsessed as a kid with photography and not in the way of shooting it, but in the way of, I would look at my dad's record collection — my first music crush (I think) was Dolly Parton and Madonna from their album covers, I just couldn’t understand the feels I was having! [Much later,] I ended up working in the skateboard industry and I worked for a magazine called Thrasher and my first real assignment was [to shoot a show — The Vines — for their music section]. I didn't fucking know what the fuck I was doing. And I got the film back and not many of them actually turned out and I was crying, so upset. I'm telling you, it took years to end up making that a thing. But that was it. The long and short of it was that it helped me do something else at shows. I loved going to see live music. I love feeling connected. I don't feel like I have any memories that aren't attached to photos. I love being considered a music photographer. Music photography is 1000% where my heart is. At the core, the feeling that I get helping a musical artist translate themselves and/or translate their image and/or translate how they want you to hear their music through a visual expression, even if it's just a portrait of themselves, is an honor. Live music photography as well, just being able to see and capture a performance in a way — it's just like magic. It's magical.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? I’ll give you two [pieces of advice]. One was "Not every photo is going to look great" — this in particular with film. [Don’t be] too hard on yourself [when things don’t turn out]. And the other one [happened when] I was assisting a photographer and he said “Don't try to be me.” I remember that all the time. [As in,] don't try to emulate me because you have your own style and you'll start to realize that. Don't look at work and go like, “Oh, I have to do it like this,” or “I have to do it like that” or “This is who's getting the most attention,” blah, blah, blah, blah. Because if you do that, you limit your exploration and then all of a sudden you're just putting out what you think you should be putting out. You could be limiting something so beautiful within yourself that you don’t even let come out. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED FROM YOUR WORK? WHAT ARE YOU STILL HOPING TO DISCOVER? I'm constantly learning things. In the beginning I really thought I was better than I was ¬— I look at some of my earlier stuff and I’m like “woah.” Also, not a lot has changed… I'm not one of those photographers that has had my work evolve and l wish that it had, I wish that I found that one secret special sauce, but I definitely have learned that I am not perfect and I make a lot of mistakes. I've learned how to say — this is life and work — “I don't know.” I've learned how to say “I'm wrong” or “I made a mistake.” I’m learning how to say “Please, help me!”

SHARE A TIME WHERE YOU’VE FACED A CHALLENGE AND HOW YOU OVERCAME IT. Artistically, I have been challenged with time constraints. [As a] technical thing, especially for the young creatives, I think that a good challenge is the three-song-live-shooting rule. [This is something] you come up against when you're shooting for a publication, when you are not on tour with a band, when you do not have complete and full access… I think the way that I have dealt with that is, you know, show up on time. Because there's nothing worse than getting to a venue and seeing that there is no pit and realizing that you are going to be forced to insert yourself into a fan's experience. That’s really challenging for me — getting in front of people. Getting there and realizing that I'm going to have to fight for that front and that somebody might not let me in is super challenging. So if it's your first time, you've got to get there early, claim your spot and know what you’re walking into. [Some photographers] just show up and somehow are in the right place at the right time [and] I can tell you I am never in the right place at the right time. So if you are like me and you're never in the right place at the right time, the best you can do is clear your mind, get there on time, try to do a little bit of research beforehand and move on. But [if] you don't get it, don't beat yourself up. Just move on. And know that there's another opportunity around the corner.



CURRENTLY LISTENING TO "Simmer" by Hayley Williams

cool tones or warm tones portraits or live action film or digital



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WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MUSIC? HOW DOES BEING A MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER FULFILL YOU? I originally went to college for film school because I wanted to direct music videos. Eventually I ended up getting a Music Business degree from MTSU in Nashville and fell in love with Digital Marketing. From there, I picked up a camera because the artists I was working with needed content and I figured why not me! IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU FEEL THAT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS SUCCEEDING? HOW COULD THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IMPROVE?

This question is a bit hard for me since I kind of identify more as a digital marketing team member, but I'd say probably how hard music photographers work. Oftentimes events are packed so it's hard to get to a place for a good shot, you never know what kind of lighting you may be up against (depending on venue size), the amount of time spent editing, etc. It's a lot of fun, but can be tough some nights mentally when you may leave a show not feeling like you go anything. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR HEROES (MUSICAL OR OTHERWISE)? Rihanna. Who else do you need? WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WHILE ON TOUR? I ordered A LOT of Spicy Ramen on off days.

Adapt or die. If nothing else, the music industry is finally starting to learn this and I think the more we continue to adapt and look for new ways to help artists see more revenue (musicians, photographers and the like), adopt new technologies, etc. we will see improvement. Additional note — I also think the music industry could see MAJOR improvements if there was an increased focus on mental health. We all talk about it, but few people I know in the industry actually practice it.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? Find a way to make yourself indispensable. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED FROM YOUR WORK? WHAT ARE YOU STILL HOPING TO DISCOVER? In the past year I learned I'm actually happiest, at my most creative, and most inspired when I'm making sure I spend as much time as possible at home. Being on the road was tough for me and I had a hard time staying creative.

CYNTHIA PARKHURST MY FIRST CAMERA Vivitar Point and Shoot (got it for Christmas when I was probably in 4th grade) I AM CURRENTLY USING A Sony a7riii I NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT my phone I NEVER GO TO A GIG WITHOUT a Lens Flipper


CURRENTLY LISTENING TO "Circles" by Mac Miller



cool tones or warm tones portraits or live action film or digital



CURRENTLY LISTENING TO "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn


WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO MUSIC? HOW DOES BEING A MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER FULFILL YOU? I’ve always grown up with this urge to document everything around me, and I’ve always loved music. In 2014, Marcus Haney released his documentary, “No Cameras Allowed” and “Austin to Boston.” I immediately fell in love with artists and their shows even more, because I got to see the behind-the-scenes. That jump started the curiosity, so I started following along with not only the artist, but their photographer too. In summer of 2014 I got an internship at my local newspaper and covered a country music festival. That was the first time I felt the power that a music photographer had. There are many things that fulfill me about being a music photographer, but something specific is when there’s a moment in the crowd, whether that’s friends hugging, a couple kissing, or someone alone cheering and crying; being able to capture an atmosphere like that is the most fulfilling part of the job!



WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHERS? I wish more people knew that being a music photographer is so much more that taking a photo of what’s happening. One of the most important things about being a music photographer that not most people know, is the character of one. You’re around the artist more than their own family or friends, and you’re there through many highs, and many lows. It takes a certain person to be a part of those moments. Ultimately, just be a kind human being, be aware of the energy you bring into any space, and work really hard. WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? Growing up, my mom would always tell me before leaving the house, “Don’t forget to make somebody’s day today.” I definitely believe this has a lot to do with who I am today and how well I can get along with just about anybody. This trait helps when you’re put on a bus with strangers for months.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU FEEL THAT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS SUCCEEDING? HOW COULD THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IMPROVE? The music industry is succeeding in hiring more creatives to go on tour to document. The music industry can improve in hiring more creatives to go on tour to document. :) WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED FROM YOUR WORK? WHAT ARE YOU STILL HOPING TO DISCOVER? The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my work, is that I always regret the photo I didn’t take. I used to be so shy about taking photos of pretty strangers, or going into a certain space on the stage in fear of being seen or stumbling on an electrical cord. Now when I look at the work from those moments that I was nervous or worried, I realize that these always end up being the best photos I take. As far as what I’m still hoping to discover, I’m really not sure. For now, I’m just trying to be open to any local wolves • classics — 35 opportunities and lessons along the way.



The Danes have it in their culture, have it in their way of life, it’s genetically programmed in them. Oh what? They call it hygge, we can call it chilling the fuck down at home while enjoying it. It’s important for them to create an atmosphere at home that makes them feel cosy & loved but also aesthetically pleasing if I might add. Interior design, art pieces are collected thoroughly, don’t think of unneccessary hoarding, God no. In case of that how would it be possible not to have curtains on their windows? I remember a few times I was staying in a tiny room on Vesterbrøgade, it was getting dark, people started to come home to their families and I was just looking out of my tiny window to the apartment just on the other side thinking ‘I’ve seen that episode of ‘Friends’ too!’ So Danes are very much likely - not even on purpose but because of tradition - showing off with their homes to an absolute stranger like me.

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It’s important for them to create an atmosphere at home that


makes them feel cosy and loved but also aesthetically pleasing.

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Call me a stalker but I love this. I love the attitude of being proud where and how you live your life. I love that there’s a place where you don’t just exist, but you live and enjoy the tiny and life-changing moments. I don’t say every minute should be public, don’t get me wrong. In fact it’s 100% your choice. But one thing for sure that it should be a place where you go to rest and just feel good as you arrive from a long day, having your meal or just look around yourself. Danes have been doing this for generations, and maybe in this stressing days of ours the place where we should find peace should be at home. The outer Copenhagen apartment belongs to Sille Jo, danish interior designer.


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h e n y e l i g ar m e



In 2011, an 11-year-old EMILY HENEGAR discovered a link between her love for creative projects and her sweet tooth, and decided she was going to start a cookie business. Raised in a family of creative entrepreneurs, she was met with support from the start — her mother helped create a blog where Henegar went by the pseudonym “Cookie,” and her sister Abigail drew the first logo. With business cards and cookie samples in tow, a fifth-grade Henegar went door-to-door through her neighborhood to spread the word about her new business. After just one street, Cookie in the Kitchen had orders for nineteen dozen cookies. Eight years of baking, mixing, and icing later, 19-year-old Henegar’s reach has landed far past simply her neighborhood. This past June, Henegar baked and decorated cookies as a green room gift for Ariana Grande when her tour landed in Nashville. “I never thought I’d get to make cookies for someone so popular and influential. Even though each cookie was incredibly complex, it was a fun challenge to research unique designs and figure out how to best replicate some of her most iconic artwork in icing form.” From local birthday parties and baby showers to Live Nation and Bridgestone Arena, cookie baking and decorating went from Henegar’s favorite hobby to a prospering cookie business. Emily Henegar (“but you can call me Cookie, if you’d like!”) is a 19-year-old college sophomore from Atlanta studying entrepreneurship and graphic design at Belmont University in Nashville. When she’s not doing homework, she’s reviewing orders, emailing clients, mixing and rolling her made-from-scratch dough, implementing her creative designs in the form of icing, and photographing the results. The business Instagram bio aptly reads, “Nineteen-year-old with homework and a hand-me-down mixer.” Entirely self-taught in the art of baking and decorating, Henegar is the founder and sole employee of Cookie in the Kitchen — a title that plays on the fact that Henegar is the “Cookie” in the kitchen. While Henegar’s incredible icing designs are what trademark her work, it wasn’t until a few years into the business that this talent was discovered. “In the beginning, I was just experimenting with different things in the kitchen without much direction; I knew I wanted cookies to be the focus, but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like.” Met with great demand for decorated cookies in Atlanta, Henegar soon began to find her niche in icing. “High school was really when I fell in love with decorating. It has always been a time-consuming labor of love for sure, but I appreciated the quiet Friday nights after school where I could just sit by myself and decorate for hours on end.” Combining her love for graphic design with her blossoming expertise — and after dedicated practice — cookie decorating became the skill that sets Henegar apart as a young artist and cookie virtuoso.

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Quickly mastering the art of combining her creative passions, Henegar discovered yet another new love during her high school sophomore year — cookies and music. An avid music listener, playlist maker, and concertgoer, she seized an opportunity to make cookies for Oh Wonder after they announced a show in her area. “Sure enough, it worked out great! After I saw them, the amount of concerts I went to with cookies began to rise, and so did a following for my ‘concert cookies.’” Henegar has since made cookies for over 35 artists and counting, including Travis Scott, Dua Lipa, LANY, The Head and the Heart, Maggie Rogers, and COIN. With major success and a quickly-escalating following, being both an entrepreneur and high school student began proving to be a difficult juggling act. The most strenuous era came during Henegar’s junior year. “I went to a pretty intense high school, and when life and academics began hitting hard in the fall, my parents put me on a ‘cookie ban’ for the entire year. While it was definitely helpful to not have to worry about cookies, it was frustrating to be completely paused and have to turn away any order I got.” When it came time to transition to college life at Belmont, a freshman Henegar faced the obstacle of not having an accessible oven at all times. “I wanted to focus on getting situated to life there, but it was still hard to not have the ability to make cookies whenever I wanted to. I was able to make cookies if I really wanted to by borrowing friends’ kitchens and decorating in my dorm’s communal kitchenette, but without a space of my own it was too much of a hassle to take orders regularly. Thankfully, I’m living in an apartment with a kitchen on campus this year.” Years devoted to the growth of Cookie in the Kitchen have proved more than fruitful. At only nineteen, Henegar sets herself apart as a weathered cookie architect and creative, and it’s in her nature to do so. “If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a Four, ‘The Individualist,’ which means I strive to create a unique identity for myself, I love all forms of art and beauty, and I long for deep, emotional depth in my relationships. Cookies beautifully fit all of those desires into one.” This individuality has led Henegar to finding her niche both in the saturated market of custom cookie-making and on social media. Instagram shout-outs from big names like Conan Gray, Dodie, Hippo Campus, Young the Giant, and authors John Green and Jenny Han (plus many, many more) have only added to Cookie in the Kitchen’s already immense and steadily-rising online following. Henegar carries a professionalism that seems to laugh in the face of obstacle, refusing to let her creativity rust when the balance of being both a young businesswoman and college student proves difficult. She has spent time learning how to go about this balance, albeit having to pull all-nighters to finish work, and the risk of becoming nocturnal. “I think the hardest thing I’ve learned and struggled with is time management. I tend to over-exert myself and think I can get everything done in a short period of time, but I end up either rushing to the last minute, not finishing something, doing sub-par work, or not getting any sleep. Even though college students are known for their crazy sleep schedules, trust me — it’s not fun pulling all-nighters back to back to back because you have to get everything done. It really takes the joy out of the work. I’ve learned it’s okay to say no to fun plans if I already have a cookie order, or no to fun cookie orders if I already have plans — it’s sad to miss out, but it’s so much better in the long run.” A double-major in entrepreneurship and graphic design, Henegar has her eyes steadily focused on the future. “I’ve wanted to have my own bakery since I started, so it’s been exciting to start taking classes and learning material that I can actually apply to my


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business as I work towards that goal. I would LOVE to have a bakery one day. Since the beginning that has always been my dream — not just creating a pretty delicious treat for people to enjoy, but to create a warm, inviting space alongside it to bring people together and make them feel welcomed.” An avid explorer of bakeries and coffee shops, Henegar is inspired by their spaces — but has yet to find exactly what she’s envisioning. “My biggest supporters by far are my family,” she enthuses. Her sister has often jumped in to ice cookies when an order is behind, and her father has helped wash many dishes. “My mom has done more than I could ever thank her for; she has a severe gluten allergy, so I bake in a separate part of our house to keep the cross-contamination to a minimum. Not only does she let her daughter run a freaking cookie business out of her own home, but she helps bag cookies when I’m on a deadline, makes me coffee when I’m up decorating at 6 AM, hands out business cards to everyone she meets, and is overall the best cheerleader and momma I could ask for.” Outside of her family, she has taken inspiration from Christina Tosi, creator of Milk Bar in NYC, who was featured on the Netflix special Chef’s Table. “My favorite quote from the episode is in the beginning scene, where she says, ‘So I started asking myself this question: what is it that you can do every single day for the rest of your life?’ and I was like, make cookies!” “My advice for any young people wanting to start a business is to just go for it. No matter what anyone tells you, you are never too young to start. I know that’s nothing radical, but really — I think one of the reasons why my business has worked out so well when I started so young was because I wasn’t afraid to fail. If something didn’t work out, I would just say ‘Well that was a fail... Moving on!’ If you go into any creative field thinking you’re going to be the best and know everything right off the bat, the world is gonna humble you real quick. With so many alienated creators in the world, it's easy to compare yourself to others that are more skilled than you, but that does not invalidate your work.” Baking and decorating are Henegar’s greatest joy in life, but at the forefront of Cookie in the Kitchen is her goal of making people happy by way of her creations. It’s no surprise that her love language is gift giving. “Whether it’s the cover of someone’s first album, the font on someone’s wedding invitation, or the mascot of someone’s alma mater, my cookies have the unique ability to illustrate people’s lives in an edible art form. I’m not great at traditional physical artwork, but there’s just something about using a piping bag instead of a paintbrush that strips all of my usual limitations and unlocks a whole new artistic side of myself.” While baking can often seem like a solitary task, Henegar strives to make it as communal as possible, regardless of her introverted nature. This has only fueled her goal of having a bakery and fellow team working alongside her — and given the major achievements of Henegar at such a young age, there’s no doubt that future is just as sweet and colorful as her cookies, and as fruitful as the community they create. “Most of my growing up has been chronicled through my business, and I’ve been called ‘Cookie’ almost half of my life. It has been challenging and rewarding in so many unique ways, and I am so thankful for all the support I’ve been given to pursue my passion at a young age. Cookies are my passion and part of my identity. They allow me to connect with people I never would have interacted with through a unique and memorable medium. And I get to fully express my creativity and appreciation for different art forms, as my love for graphic design, baking, art, people, and music come together in one tiny, time-consuming, sugar-filled treat.”

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Miami-based indie-rock quartet THE POLAR BOYS have Since March 2017, the Polar Boys have released an EP and been making waves. The foursome just released their single a trail of singles decorating their Spotify page, which today “Nothing Has Changed,” along with an accompanying music has amassed over 45,000 monthly listeners. Topping their video parodying a late night talk show, donning yellow jump- discography are the recent releases of singles “INTRO” and suits and glittery makeup. The release follows-up the anteri- “Nothing Has Changed,” with a starry and comedic visual acor “INTRO,” topping the trail of singles released in their three companying the latter. years as a group. In the aftermath of new music and two energetic sold-out shows in their hometown, it’s safe to say The Earlier releases like “Barbados,” “Kendall Drive,” and “I Know Polar Boys are on an adrenaline high. Even so, rhythm guitar- a Place” establish the group’s native, retro beach-rock sound and smooth, cohesive lyrics with the likeness of classic rock, ist and vocalist Andy Zambrana admits that looking out onto their esteemed reverence for bands like The Beatles and a crowd singing the words to your songs is a strange and The Beach Boys evident in dreamy chord progressions and difficult-to-process feeling. harmonious refrains. “The Beatles will always be the number “It’s really hard for me to tell how much of an impact we’ve re- one influence,” says Baquerizo. “I’ve been in love with that band since I was a little kid, and I just look up to those dudes ally made down here since I can only see everything through so much.” this narrow perspective of mine. There are times when I think we’re being stagnant and not growing as much, but then we play a show, and there are over two hundred more people than there were last time. It’s weird, but I’m extremely grateful for it.”

Combining their instinctual retro-rock with contemporary influences like Tyler, the Creator, The Arctic Monkeys, and Tame Impala, their 2019 single “INTRO” presents a harder edge in their sonic direction, confirming their ability to evolve while staying true to their gifted songwriting and indie rock roots.

Hailing from the Southwest Miami-Dade suburb of Kendall, their beginnings date back to middle school jazz band, where Zambrana, drummer Jake Karner, and lead guitarist “For me personally, it’s always been bands like The Beatles, Andres “Sito” Baquerizo often found opportunity to jam to- The Arctic Monkeys, and The Strokes that got me doing what gether during class. Upon entering high school, the boys I do,” says Zambrana. “As I get older, the world of hip-hop formed a garage band, leading to an opportune string of and all of these sub-genres of rap and indie started to open backyard house shows and writing what Zambrana now calls their doors to me, and I’m still trying to consume it all. But “the worst songs to date” — but nevertheless, meeting almost there’s something about that DIY indie dream-pop sound every day to pitch ideas and finish at least five songs per that still gets me every time.” week. After disbanding in pursuit of personal projects, Zambrana met bassist and vocalist Alex Ramon at a high school With new music out and more on the way, The Polar Boys pep rally. Together they began writing what would later be have been working on another endeavor: their clothing the band’s debut single, “Barbados,” with Baquerizo and brand, POBO (which, as their online store states, is definiteKarner soon solidifying the foursome. ly not band merch). Influenced by Tyler, the Creator’s GOLF line, Kanye West’s Yeezys, and a story of Zambrana and Ra-

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mon being unable to find coveted pinstripe pants, the boys decided to create something bigger than band merchandise. POBO has become a secondary medium for the boys, and another way to connect with their growing fanbase. “I feel like there’s a lack of bands with side-brands like that, so I wanted to help fill the void, while being able to have another creative outlet,” says Zambrana. The boys present a genuinely optimistic disposition, and it’s clear how devoted they are to the arts, their fans, each other, and just getting to play music — even in the face of scarce audiences at past shows, and being taken advantage of as small local artists. “We’ve played to crowds that had less than 5 people,” says Zambrana. “Being scammed by promoters out of ticket sales in early days really sucked too. It pains me to see people taking advantage and exploiting smaller buzzing local acts out of greed.”

Down’ back in ’07, I believe, and it’s crazy.” And of the future and dreaming big, “Selling out places like the Fillmore or the AAA Center down here in Miami would be nuts. I’ve seen all of my favorite artists there.” Beyond the yellow jumpsuits and clout goggles, it’s always been about one thing for The Polar Boys — just getting to play music. “Playing and making music is just purpose to me. It’s what inspires me to keep going,” says Karner. Says Ramon, “I’ve never been the superstitious type. But growing up, listening to music brought me peace in rough spots. Looking back on it, I’ve realized the connection I had with it was definitely a spiritual one. So when I met these guys and started playing our music for crowds, it took that connection to another level. People were coming out to share a night with us, singing along to music we wrote in our bedrooms. I can’t overstate how grateful I feel. Playing with these guys is one of the best things I’ve been lucky enough to be part of.”

“As a band, there are always ups and downs, and disagree- “We’re always looking for new ways to look at things, and this ments do happen,” says Karner. “But in the big picture, there’s influences every aspect of our band. We’re hoping we can not a lot of difficulty. It’s just my passion to pursue music and create a POBO ecosystem for fans with live shows, music, all the other fun stuff that comes with being in a band.” visual art, clothing...all of this would represent our unique vision and allow us to connect with people around the world. The Polar Boys look forward to a full 2020, with even more If we can make someone’s day at least slightly better, then new music on the way, landing bigger shows and festivals that’s a win for us.” outside of Florida, and pushing POBO. “We’re still a band in its infancy, so or bucket list is pretty long, says Ramon. “I “We love creating genuine art, and I think we will for a long wouldn’t want to give anything away, but we’ll continue to time. At the end of the day I just hope to inspire others with surprise people with what we’re capable of; we’re limited by the art we create,” says Baquerizo. “As long as we’re doing time and resources, not a lack of ideas.” that, I think we’re on the right track.” When asked about their dream venue, Zambrana says, “I would love to headline Glastonbury Fest. There’s this video of The Arctic Monkeys performing ‘When The Sun Goes


Keep on the lookout for new music from The Polar Boys and merchandise from POBO. In the meantime, stream the new single and music video for “Nothing Has Changed.”

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“New bitch, who dis?” Cuja sings. “On my game, it’s a damn shame.” With infectious pop anthems filled with empowering and relatable lyrics, LA-based artist Alyssa Cudamat, known by her stage name as CUJA, is on the rise. One listen to her EP titled Vo. 1 and you can tell she’s going to be the next pop powerhouse. Her songs are filled with sultry vocals similar to Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa, yet she stands out with her own take on the typical cookie-cutter radio hits by having relatable and empowering lyrics that bring light to being both a woman and a minority in the music industry. “I love traditional pop music, but I love combining it with elements from other genres like synth pop, RnB and dancehall,” Cuja explains. It’s through her feminist tunes like “New Bitch, Who This?” that Cuja is able to give the middle finger to anyone who’s wronged her. She’s not afraid to call people out and focus on self-care.

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“The song was inspired by a life event in which I decided I needed to ghost some toxic vibes from my life,” she shares. “The title just kind of came to me one day. Alina Smith [producer], Elli Moore [artist and singer-songwriter] and I whipped up the chorus in just a matter of minutes. All three of us could relate to the feeling of people trying to pull you down or distract you from your hard work.” It’s evident from our chat that Cuja is hard working. Her Instagram bio defines her as a musician, producer and Filipina-American — but also as a feminist. She explains she put it there so people know that she’s “not messing around.” “I want everything I create, whether its music or videos, to be in the service of feminism,” she states simply. In addition to feminism, Cuja is passionate about representation and equality in the industry and seeks to change the narrative by focusing on her unique upbringing and stories. “The expectation of being a female artist is challenging in that many people see you as just a singer,” she says. “Male artists are revered for being songwriters, producers and filmmakers, yet somehow everyone still thinks the girls are just there to be the front women. A moving mouth-piece for the boy geniuses being the curtain. The music industry reflects the society we live in. If you're a woman, you have to be twice as good to get where the mediocre boys are.”


Cuja is far from being mediocre with her powerhouse vocals that demand attention and strong lyrics. Although she’s focused on creating feminist pop songs that appeal to the masses, there’s a deeper meaning in her songs. “I know you’re wanting someone so exotic like me, but I’m not something to decorate you, not your accessory,” Cuja sings in “New Bitch, Who Dis?” As an Asian-American, Cuja is fighting for representation and is trying to change the current male-dominated and white narrative that exists in the music industry.





“I think being a mixed American is very relatable to many but seldom talked about,” Cuja shares. “For example, the experience I have in the dating pool or in a relationship is never going to be the same as someone who isn't mixed. Being Asian-American affects the way you are treated, the way people see you, what people expect from you, what jobs you get and what opportunities you're afforded. I want those who experience what I experience to feel seen and spoken to. I also want to educate others on how important it is to invest in the stories of people of color or anyone who is marginalized.” By bringing up her own experiences through her lyrics, Cuja is able to empower other marginalized groups and shed light on their stories. You can tell she’s tired of fighting but that she’s not giving up. Her lyrics are raw so that people of all races can relate to how she feels. “I find it more difficult not to open up about honest emotions,” Cuja says. “I love that music is always about expression. Honesty and vulnerability are a part of that expression. I hope all my music will always reflect something truthful about me.” When it comes down to it, Cuja advises people to give a platform to minorities and to listen. “The best thing we can all do as individuals is to listen,” she emphasizes. “Listen to the stories of people of color. Listen to the stories of immigrants. Listen to their music. Listen to their experience and their words. On a systemic level, we need to hold the industry accountable for white washing, under-representation and marginalization. So as fans, the best way to promote inclusivity is to invest in the artists who believe in moving the industry forward.” Keep Cuja on your radar because with her Hayley Kiyoko-style vocals and Ariana Grande sass, she’s going to be the next pop star.



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DEREK LUH has an artistic fire and a refreshing honesty that seeps into all of his creative endeavors. Local Wolves had the opportunity to speak with the singer-songwriter, rapper, and model at a crucial turning point in his career. His new EP was recently finalized and would be ready for release for this spring, he released his new single “Jerry Maguire” and its trippy video counterpart in September, and he dropped his newest single, “Hoodie”, on the morning we met – a frigid November day on 42nd Street. Sporting a hoodie beneath a green plaid jacket, Luh displayed his emblematic mix of swag, authenticity, and candidness, and his passionate but laid-back vibe surged throughout our conversation. Luh confessed that when he first started making music, all he had was a microphone and GarageBand, and he recorded himself without thinking much of his potential impact on hip-hop culture. It wasn’t until he released his first song that Derek’s excitement really began to stir. “Seeing how it affected people, I was like, wait this is really cool, I want to continue to do this.” Derek is quick to attribute his first spark of interest in music to his uncle, who gave him The Slim Shady LP when he was about nine years old. Grinning, Luh recalled his uncle urging Derek to be hush-hush about the album in front of his parents: “Put it in your blue Walkman and don’t play it out loud.” From there, Luh found inspiration in artists like Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brockhampton, and Tyler, the Creator. His exposure to an eclectic set of artists growing up – his mother listened to Shania Twain – and his appreciation for Frank Ocean and Drake helped mold Luh’s boundary-pushing sound. His passion for music is rooted in its all-encompassing presence in his life. “I just think the music has always been there,” he admitted.

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If an artist is just passionate about their music and they’re unapologetically themselves, that’s who I want on my label. Six months ago, Luh took to Soundcloud to express his frustration towards an indie record label gone haywire and how it halted Luh’s career for a year. At the end of his Soon series, Luh made the most of the chaos by starting his very own label and signing himself. When I asked him about Low Sodium Records, Luh explained “I built the foundation, I built the fan base, so I have something that no label can give me. Because it doesn’t matter what amount of money that you put into an artist – if the fans and the people and the culture aren’t messing with you, that doesn’t matter.” Derek has a vision for a label that celebrates passion over genre, and hopes for a variety. “Nine-Inch Nails to Dr. Dre to a Taylor Swift-type of artist… If an artist is just passionate about their music and they’re unapologetically themselves, that’s who I want on my label.” While taking on this new project, Derek added new layers and levels to his music. “Hoodie, I feel like is one of my most vulnerable songs,” Derek told me. He reflected on the nontraditional aspect of this breakup song. “I’m not going to text you, I’m not going to call you and say I miss you, but guess what, I still have your hoodie in my car.” And, in a way, the image of Luh riding around with his ex’s sweatshirt in his car says more than I miss you ever could. Derek has yet to run out of dreams to chase. While establishing himself in musical hubs and maintaining his relationship with his fanbase, he strives to be challenging, powerful, and sincere in his art. Last year, Luh attended Coachella as a part of a campaign for a company. “I’m sitting there watching on stage and I was just like, I’m not coming back until I’m performing. I made a promise to myself.” Again and again, he has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the music industry and beyond. Derek Luh is ready. Are you?


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Life gifts us with momentary bliss. It might be in the way one holds their coffee cup after the first sip or the way you open your journal and find the inspiration that’s been yearning its escape. But with the rapture also comes the inevitable downslide, the sleepless nights, the irreversible inklings of your insecurities and troubles. Music serves us in ways other things can’t. It clouds our deepest fears, and it is why we cling so tightly to it. I write so often about the string that connects us to music and the musicians themselves, why we crave it, and what makes it so enticing, but our senses are the apt judge. And in this case, with THE GREETING COMMITTEE’s recent EP, I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry, is a sweet sentiment that holds such a more profound meaning beneath the surface of the lush instruments and vocals that play before you. In speaking to Addie, the lead vocalist of TGC, I remember how moving her responses were. She talked to me about the process of letting go and meeting her bandmates in high school, and from there forming what is now the most underrated indie band that everyone must listen to. “Call In The Morning” is on the EP, and it’s so gut-wrenching in such a beautiful way. It opens with soft and gentle notes of Addie’s voice, and the lyrics that accompany it are walloped with her true feelings about her brother. When I asked Addie the underlying meaning of that song, she told me that she actually wrote it with her brother in mind. She cares deeply for him, and the song is a sort of a message in itself to care for the ones you most cherish. Because time is of the essence, and it can be cut short anytime. The entirety of the songs on the EP stems from personal experiences in their everyday lives. The Greeting Committee’s I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry is a musical narrative that sheds some light on the reality of things often shushed. For that reason, I must say it is one of the most incredible EPs to date. Listen to it, and you might find the remedy to your bothersome daily routine.


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DISCO SHRINE challenges traditional artistry norms by showcasing her beliefs in topics like feminism and immigrant rights, in bold and authentic ways. Musically, Disco Shrine captures the parallels between women’s empowerment and authentic fun, while remaining true to herself: experimenting with all styles, breaking boundaries, embracing variety and never settling. Her social media presence visually combines her talents of musician, DJ, event planner and style icon, while also maintaining a built community that remains uplifting and collaborative. Local Wolves had the opportunity to chat with Jessica about her musical and personal progression, her uniquely curated pop-up concerts and her various aspirations and endeavors. DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE AND HOW THAT TRANSCENDS INTO YOUR MUSIC AND SOUND. DS: I've always loved fashion and especially experimenting with it. Growing up, Gwen Stefani was such a huge fashion inspiration for me. I feel like she perfectly navigated tomboy looks mixed with hyper femme looks and constantly experimented with so many different styles. I've definitely never been one to just choose a specific style. I love the idea of

breaking boundaries with fashion, and I think the fun part about fashion is that it's a form of expression so the sky is the limit. You can dress punk rock one day and super preppy the next depending on your mood. My style is definitely all over the place, but I like it like that because I never want to be confined to just one style. I want to try them all and be able to switch back and forth. I think that definitely says a lot about my music as well. The one question you always get asked as an artist is what kind of music you make. That's honestly the hardest question to answer because we're forced to confine ourselves into a few major categories. Sometimes I want to make a more traditional pop banger, but sometimes I'm sad and want to make a slower R&B vibe. The biggest thing with my music is that I always want to continue pushing it, moving forward, and never settling for the same thing. YOUR VISUAL AESTHETIC, SPECIFICALLY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA, IS BOLD, VIBRANT AND EYE CATCHING. HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA BEEN A POSITIVE PLATFORM TO SHOWCASE YOUR MUSIC? DS: Every time I write a song and it comes to life, I immediately create visuals for it in my head. To me,

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every song has its own color scheme and vibe and it's really fun for me to help bring that to fruition. Social media is fun because it's a way to visually bring your sonic creations to life. It's also an amazing platform because you can reach so many people that you normally wouldn't be able to. Whenever I get a message or email from someone telling me how my music affected their life in some way: that's just the best feeling. It's also cool when you can do creative collaborations with different companies where you see your music being used and reinterpreted in ways you would have never imagined when you wrote it. LYRICALLY, YOUR SONGS ARE UPLIFTING AND EMPOWERING TOWARDS FEMININE STEREOTYPES; COMBINED MUSICALLY WITH MODERN, DANCEY, ELECTRO-POP AND FUN BEATS. HOW ARE THOSE TWO LOADED EXPRESSIONS OF FEMINISM AND FUN SIMILAR, AND HOW DO THEY INFLUENCE YOUR MUSIC? DS: When I first started in this industry, it was really intimidating being a female artist because it's so male dominated. It can get scary not knowing the answer to things and feeling belittled by your peers. So I decided early on that knowledge was power and I wasn't going to give anyone the chance to belittle me. That's when I started realizing that I didn't have to rely on other people and I could write songs and make the graphics and DJ and throw my own events and do it all. I always try and share any knowledge I have with my female peers because when I was I was first starting out I was lucky enough to have other women help me and teach me and it's always nice knowing you can have a community of people to fall back on when you don't have all the answers. Sometimes people tend to pit women against each other or women will do it too, but I think helping each other out will only do good. There's enough room for all of us to succeed and when we do it together we can grow together. YOU ARE KNOWN TO HAVE CURATED SEVERAL POP UP CONCERTS IN UNTRADITIONAL, UNEXPECTED LOCATIONS FOR YOUR DEBUT


RELEASE OF “UP IN THE AIR”. HOW DID THESE EVENTS TIE INTO IMMIGRATION ADVOCACY, AND CAN LISTENERS EXPECT MORE OF THESE INTIMATE AND UNIQUE CONCERTS? DS: My first ever pop up event was at a laundromat in Los Feliz. At the time, I had just released the music video for my song “Up In The Air,” that depicts multiple first generation Americans working hard to try and achieve their version of the "American Dream". Being a first generation American, I never grew up hearing about the kind of struggles that immigrants or children of immigrants face in America. You only hear about the success stories. But for a lot of immigrants, they're just trying to get by so they can build a better life for their families and to them, that's the American dream. So I wanted to throw an event that could celebrate that in a setting that would also acknowledge and celebrate the struggles. Laundromats are traditionally owned/run/used by immigrants so I wanted to bring everyone into that kind of setting but make it a celebration of immigrants and all they gave up for a chance at a better life. DESCRIBE HOW YOU GOT INTO DJING, WHERE THAT HAS LED YOU, HOW IT TIES IN WITH YOUR OWN MUSIC AND ANY FUTURE PLANS? DS: I actually got into DJing by accident. My background is in music events and while I was helping throw an album release party for my friend, he asked me if I wanted to DJ. I said yes, not knowing how to DJ at all. So I bought dinner for a friend of mine for a week straight in exchange for DJ lessons. Then, I started getting a bunch of other DJ gigs and all of a sudden I was DJing sold out dance parties across the U.S. with Dance Yourself Clean and other parties. DJing has been such a liberating form of expression for me. I started Disco Shrine with the intent of making fun music that made me happy but also made other people happy. So, being the one to get the party started is so rewarding and it's really fun that I can mix both my personal music alongside other artists that inspire me. It's also brought me so many amazing opportunities. I've been able to set up tours across the U.S. where I DJ some nights and play live

shows other nights. I also traveled to Australia to DJ last summer and was flown out to Miami by Glossier to DJ and perform live at their Miami launch party. I definitely recommend learning how to DJ to all my fellow artists. WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION/ INFLUENCE? DS: I feel like I'm constantly inspired by different female artists, old and new, but Gwen Stefani has always been my main source of inspiration. Everything from her style to her music to her stage presence, confidence, and humility. I think she's definitely the kind of artist I aspire to be. She paved her own way of what 'cool' means and is so unafraid to be herself. I want to stay true to myself and maintain a sense of inclusivity in my music, and I think she does that really well. When I first started performing and I would get nervous I used to tell myself to just channel my inner No Doubt Gwen. I still do that when I get nervous. YOU ARE SO MULTIDIMENSIONAL- WHAT OTHER ASPIRATIONS AND ENDEAVORS ARE IN STORE FOR DISCO SHRINE? DS: I have so many plans this year that I'm really excited to share, but my main goal for this year is to release as much music as I can. You can definitely expect to hear a lot from me soon.

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Beginning in his hometown of Arlington, Texas, MAX CRONEN discovered his knack for curating shows by helping boost a DIY scene within his community for budding artists to showcase themselves. This hobby for artist representation and giving attention to DIY music would later translate into Max assisting the booking of his first unofficial SXSW showcase in 2017 known as “Float The Goat.” The free all-ages showcase represented over 20 plus rising artists such as: The Buttertones, Surf Curse, Inner Wave, Sports, Current Joys, and more. The vivacious energy prevalent at the first unofficial Biker Gang Booking SXSW show was an atmosphere of overcrowded, enthusiastic adolescents that screamed their hearts out to their favorite indie-alternative centric bands who played the 10 plus hour showcase show. Through organizing the local DIY community and 3 years of free all-inclusive SXSW unofficial showcases, a domino effect began resulting in Max booking major US tours for the same bands who formerly played his SXSW showcase. Beginning with his first co-headline tour with Inner Wave and Hot Flash Heat Wave, Max tackled adversity in self-management and successfully booked his first national scale tour. Through that tour, Max’s effort has only consistently elevated into expanding his artist roster and organizing over 4 years’ worth of US tours. Though many hurdles arise in tackling the music industry completely independent, Max Cronen continues to manage Biker Gang Booking self-sufficiently. From artist tours to numerous festivals, Max shows no plans of slowing down. I had the opportunity to discuss Max’s journey within the music industry and how he plans to bring international artist representation to America:


WHAT DROVE YOU TO START YOUR OWN TALENT AGENCY AND CURATE A ROSTER OF ARTISTS THAT YOU BELIEVED IN THAT CENTERED AROUND YOUR OWN PERSONAL MUSIC TASTE? MAX CRONEN: I originally wanted to find a way to get involved in the music industry by working with my favorite bands. The artists I originally started working with happened to fall under my roster through a ‘circle of friends’ reference! I happened to be at the right place at the right time. The first group I started working with was Inner Wave. I flew out to watch Inner Wave’s album release show at the Constellation Room and that’s when they introduced me to Bane’s World - Bane’s World introduced me to Michael Seyer and so forth. WORKING WITH ARTISTS SINCE YOUR FIRST TOUR WITH INNER WAVE AND HOT FLASH HEAT WAVE IN 2017, DOES BIKER GANG BOOKING REVOLVE AROUND A FOUNDATION OF FRIENDSHIP ALONGSIDE BUSINESS MATTERS? MC: We’re only interested in working with artists that are willing to have a team like mindset. A team needs to be cohesive and needs to have trust. A healthy friendship has both of these things. When you spend as much time as I do with artists that you work with whether it’s in person, over the phone or email it’s hard. HOW DOES BIKER GANG BOOKING TRY TO DIFFERENTIATE ITSELF FROM CORPORATE TALENT AGENCIES? MC: “I think what separates Biker Gang is their vision. They keep things tight with a curated roster of selected artists that they get behind with full force. They are able to focus on developing talent. They care. You can see it in the roster, and you can see it in their process. That sort of open, honest enthusiasm is rare these days in the music industry.” Chris “Guch” Sakaguchi of Margin Walker.

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HOW DID YOU COME ABOUT CREATING YOUR UNOFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE? MC: My close friends at the time were in a great band called ‘Delmer Dennis’ and playing an unofficial SXSW showcase at the Love Goat in Austin. Since I had been throwing shows for about a year at that point, I thought I would visit SXSW for the first time and see if I could network with anyone around. I emailed the promoter (Tabby, who is now my friend) to let her know that I would be in town and that if she needed any help that I would be more than happy to! She told me she could use my help with booking other bands and I saw that as a great opportunity to hop on board. That year we had Surf Curse, Summer Salt, The Buttertones, Inner Wave, Slow Hollows, Sports, The Red Pears, Jurassic Shark, Petite League, Lala Lala, Current Joys, Hockey Dad, Mom Jeans and many others. Most of which are still my friends and stay in contact. So much fun! ATTENDING NUMEROUS FESTIVALS FOR THE ARTISTS YOU REPRESENT, HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN IT COMES TO WATCHING THOSE YOU HAVE WORKED WITH GO FROM SMALL VENUE SHOWS TO LARGE SCALE FESTIVALS AND MILLIONS OF SPOTIFY STREAMS? MC: Validated. IN TERMS OF GOING INTO THE INDUSTRY COMPLETELY INDEPENDENTLY AND SELF MANAGED, WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM MEETING OTHERS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY AND HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR OWN INDIVIDUALITY WITHIN THE MUSIC BUSINESS? MC: I’ve learned that everyone has their own agenda. Don’t expect that people are being nice to you just because they are. Anybody that’s anyone owes someone something from sometime ago. It’s not difficult to be unique in an industry where it’s only job is to squeeze any artist dry that they see fit. WHAT MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER DID YOU FEEL LIKE ALL YOUR HARD WORK PAID OFF? MC: I’ve always felt thankful to work with artists that I’ve believed in from their early stages. Watching our artists move on to bigger talent agencies has recently been a great reminder that our hard work has paid off. Seeing Inner Wave on the Coachella lineup has been very exciting to see this year, especially since I know how much they love Frank Ocean. Getting to experience Tropicalia every year since it’s birth has been wild. Anytime I get to connect with an excited fan makes what I do worth it.

WHAT WERE SOME PERSONAL INSECURITIES OR MOMENTS OF ADVERSITY YOU FACED WHILE PUTTING TOGETHER BIKER GANG BOOKING FROM THE GROUND UP AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE HURDLES? MC: Working independently in the music industry is as you might already know emotionally, physically, and financially draining. I never had a mentor or someone I could call on to help me. Nobody ever showed me the right way to do things. I discovered these things for myself through trial and error. Failing hurts but never give up; your success story could be right around the corner! When your field of interest is oversaturated with other industry folks, find the gap elsewhere and plug yourself in! The music industry needs you, it’s your job to find out how. WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT GOALS FOR BIKER GANG BOOKING? DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND PAST JUST INDIE ALTERNATIVE ARTISTS AND ENTER INTERNATIONAL MUSIC LIKE CRUCIAL STAR? MC: Biker Gang is transitioning to an international artist management company that’s responsible for overseeing North American and international artists touring in the United States and outside the US. We’re responsible for all touring logistics for our artists including tour routing, artist visas, transportation, lodging, hospitality, etc. HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO REPRESENT INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS FOR BIKER GANG BOOKING MOVING FORWARD? MC: International music has always peaked my interest. I saw how unrepresented international artists are here in the United States and I wanted to help change that. Sometimes I would stream new music and notice that Korean pop would appear as some of the related artists to the artists I’ve worked with. I also personally saw it as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and connect with those outside of the country. The language barrier and time zone differences can be a struggle but it’s motivating me to learn other languages and be more patient. Seeing how live entertainment operates in other countries really opened my mind. You start to see some of the bigger picture and how everything connects in the industry. Follow @bikergangbooking on Instagram and @bikergangllc on Twitter to keep up with Biker Gang Booking’s current artists and tours.

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WHAT WERE SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND THE EP PARTY OF ONE? ALEX KINSEY: My inspiration stems from the people around me and the things we do together. I like to imagine myself in my friends lives and write about what they’re going through, I like to brainstorm in writing sessions about what makes everyone tick, I really enjoy making a song that makes everyone in the room go “OOOOHHHH SHIT, I feel that.” WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE HAS IT BEEN GOING FROM WORKING AS A DUO TO NOW WORKING ON YOUR OWN PROJECT? SOME OF THE CHALLENGES / BENEFITS OF THIS NEW PROCESS? AK: Being solo really just means that the decisions about the music fall onto my shoulders…That, and I have to sing the WHOLE time I’m on stage now. The challenges are similar (ie. what song is the next single, what should the videos be like, do I turn left onto this street or the next one?), I just have to make decisions based off of my own gut feeling… which is also the best benefit, I finally get to see if my gut knows what it's talking about.

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HOW HAVE YOU SEEN YOURSELF GROW AS AN ARTIST SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED MAKING MUSIC AS ALEX & SIERRA? NOW WORKING ON YOUR OWN PROJECT, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’VE LEARNED OR SEEN CHANGE? AK: I like to think I've grown a bunch as an artist. I like to think learning new instruments, and working on writing better songs, and being more in control of my career and future are all ways that I’ve grown. But it all feels the same as it always has… creating because you need to, making a song out of nothing because it feels SO good, playing music for people to make their lives a little better… I hope all of that always stays the same. YOU GOT A LOT OF JOHN MAYER AND JASON MRAZ ON YOUR “WHAT MAKES AK HAPPY PLAYLIST” ON SPOTIFY. WHY THOSE ARTISTS AND WHAT OTHER ONES DO IT FOR YOU? AK: Ha… those playlists are public? I should come up with a cooler name for that playlist, huh? Mraz and Mayer were the first musicians that I felt were mine to listen to… like, no one told me they were great, I knew that on my own. I understood what they were saying, I understood what they were playing, everything about their music just made sense to me. On top of that, when I would go see them live, they always seemed like they had a blast on stage… they weren’t too cool for their music, or their band, or their audience... they were enjoying the music that was coming from them as much as I was, and what’s the point of doing this if you don’t F*cking LOVE IT, right?! As far as others go, I’ve been jamming on Marc Broussard a bunch lately, Vulfpeck, Yebba, anything soulful… I’m in a soulful kinda mood right now.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START A SOLO PROJECT? WAS THERE A MOMENT YOU REALIZED YOU NEEDED THIS? AK: There was no defining moment. Before Alex & Sierra, and Botalks, there was always just me playing music on a stage alone. So “Kinsey” was sort of a regression back to the thing that made me fall in love with music in the first place. Now, between Botalks and Kinsey, I get to put out literally whatever music I like. It’s awesome. YOUR EP FEATURES A PHOTO OF YOU AS A CHILD. HOW YOUNG WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED SHOWING AN INTEREST IN MUSIC? WAS BEING AN ONLY CHILD SOMEHOW AFFECTING TOWARDS THAT? AK: Yeah, that was my actual 3rd birthday party… my mom has sent me other pictures from that day to assure me that other real human children came over to celebrate though… she insists it wasn’t as sad of a birthday as that picture suggests (laughs). I started doing karaoke before I could read (according to my parents). My first album was Abbey Road, and I’ve known every word to every song on that album for as long as I can remember. I’ve just always sort of known that music was the only viable option for me to be happy. As far as being an only child goes, it probably had something to do with it. My parents were always very supportive of me trying anything that interested me (one of the benefits of all of the attention always being on you). It just so happens that music was just about the only thing that really interested me…well, music and going to the beach.

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Collaborations are central to our lives. Whether that originates in the form of Mary Kate and Ashley designing a new collection at The Row, Andre 3000 and Big Boi becoming the masterminds behind Outkast, and of course the space saved for childhood friends turned music collaborators, Jack Falahee and Tim Wu of DIPLOMACY. Diplomacy’s first single, “Silver Lake Queen” elaborately documents the illustrious, empowering vision of a woman with subtle references to the band’s current home base of Los Angeles. Storytelling follows both their divergent pathways, a similar theatrical expression shared behind a camera or a DJ stand.

any of the numbers and believing in the project.” Tim Wu adds, who also is a DJ under the pseudonym, Elephante. Tim and Jack momentarily diverged from their hometown roots in Ann Arbor, Michigan to express their own interests in university, Tim studying economics at Harvard University and Jack finding a pathway to acting at New York University. Tim’s time as Elephante has given him a strong foundation of testing and re-routing instrumentals and mixes to the masses that attend his festival sets and crowded club venues. Trading in images of fanatical LED lights and booming production towards more stripped down instrumentation with a guitar and vocals, Wu is prepared to captivate audiences with that same devotion to music.

Tim Wu declares that his teenage self would look at his present moment rocking away in the “Silver Lake Queen” music video, utterly awestruck at the fact that “I was in LA playing open mics to exactly zero people. he mastered the guitar. Tim states, “The project is ful- I have seen a whole gamut of intensity and interests in different crowds. I think whether people are headfilling a lot of childhood dreams that we had. It was one of those magical things where you go in and you’re doing the best you can but then you almost go into a trance and when the song and video is done you still can’t believe it happened.” I ask the question of which memorable moment in TV or film would they imagine ‘Silver Lake Queen’ playing in the background.

banging or not it's all about just creating a connection with the audience and giving them an experience that is unique and special, Wu says. “I think it’s just different sides of the same coin. The songs from Diplomacy tell a different story and I’m really excited to explore that as well.”

Tim offers a shameless best friend plug, stating, “The final scene of How To Get Away With Murder.” Despite Tim’s display of charming support, Jack laughs and offers a vastly different response. “I really like this show Peaky Blinders. It’s a period piece that uses contemporary rock. I think SLQ aligns itself with it because it has this sort of regal vibe to it but its a rock anthem at its core. Yeah, I can totally see Cillian Murphy killing people to ‘Silver Lake Queen’ that’s for sure.”

Meanwhile, Jack Falahee's character, Connor Walsh, contributed to the quintessential storyline on How To Get Away With Murder after Falahee graduated with a BFA from New York University. The simultaneous malleability of Jack’s acting abilities turned into a simultaneous, ardent love for music. For both Jack and Tim, formative years were spent with a surrounding testament to creativity.

Jack delves into the deeper meaning behind the lyrics and the music video for Silver Lake Queen, “The song itself is obviously a derivative of this chance encounter I had with this girl in Silverlake. She was just this type of person that was extremely magnetic and kind of knocks the air out of you quite a bit. Had this ethereal dreamlike vibe to her whenever I watched her walk through a bar and a crowded room. We wanted the video to have a similar moody trance with that energy that the song itself reflects in the lyrics.” “I have released a few songs in my time, and I personally have really terrible release day anxiety. My coping mechanism is shutting off for a little bit, not looking at

“I grew up in a pretty creative household but it was all lawyers and doctors so it wasn’t really an option to pursue it. The tragic passing of a friend in high school was the catalyst for me to join the school musical that year. Someone in the University of Michigan saw me and somehow they convinced my parents to let me audition for musical theatre programs. It caught all of us by surprise. It wasn’t until I was in New York that I hit the realization that ‘This is what I want to do in my life,” says Jack. Tim jointly recalls his early love for music, “I’ve been playing music my whole life. It was always the one thing that always made sense. The one thing that I would always come back to. And where I would spend my free

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time on, whether it was learning guitar or learning to write songs or playing piano. Despite all the twists and turns it took to get here, I always knew I would end up making music.” Diplomacy cannot wait for the near future when they can command crowds and visually intake how their music makes people feel. Tim has experience watching the elated crowds at electronic music festivals react to his sets as Elephante, yet Jack has experienced commentary to his acting through screens of social media, the good outweighing the bad judgement, in most cir-

“Songwriting is definitely an embellishment of a memory or a time which I kind of like ya know? This idea that you listen to a song and it might mean something to you now but then you listen to it in 5 years and it evokes a completely different feeling or memory,” says Jack. Without the vulnerability in complete honesty, lies a vacant track that cannot foster that communal connection between artist and audience. We all conjure upon the blatant opinion that being vulnerable to the thousands and thousands that click the play button or loop the stream, is a frightening prospect.

cumstances. Jack is a newcomer to performing music in front of a live audience, but he ensures that he cannot wait to belt out choruses alongside his best friend “The tricky needle when it comes to writing songs is that it has to come from a personal place and has to and guitarist. come from a very potent emotional space because if you’re just writing generic words then it doesn’t mean “You make a television show in sort of a bubble and it’s anything to anyone. For us, it was a process of digreleased weeks or months later. And I pretty much only see things through the internet and as we all know can be brutal sometimes. I did play a couple of months ago was the first time I’ve been living in a while so I sort of equate it to that. Every night you get on stage, I think is a different animal. I look forward to playing off the energy of the crowd and taking their energy and using it to fuel our performances,” says Jack.

ging through these memories and stories and picking strong imagery,” Tim says. Synergy that sparks between the two friends can be instinctively felt as they share sidelines and insiders about their hometowns and growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Landmark locations are shared between the duo that bring a serendipitous laughter as those moments of nostalgia play out.

During the creation of their debut EP, languid days are spent in the studio hard-mining their personal journeys, embedded life lessons, and a series of adjustments “Fun fact, we have matching pine tree tattoos for our into musical entities. A conversation draws back- hometown, Ann Arbor,” says Tim and-forth between the meaningful presences in their lives, especially the opinion that matters to them the “Yeah, Ann Arbor’s nickname is Tree City” In our songs most—their mothers, of course. Diplomacy’s mission there's a lot of imagery of the Midwest landscape and statement is revered in the gallancy and bravery of Midwestern pastorals and all of that,” Jack adds. chasing every last ounce of your artistic pursuits. By following a formulaic music blueprint, music has a Songwriting is adjacent to intimacy and that can come tendency of getting lost in the maze of trend-driven cuin the form of gel pen stained journal entries turning ration. Tim says that music should evolve with time and into bodies of work. That vulnerability strings into mo- not be labeled by certain categorizations, Diplomacy ments of weakness and strength, something that both is devoted to breathing in life with depth and dexterJack and Tim agree is an essential songwriting factor. ity and evolving through the progression of time. The debut EP’s themes will linger around the concepts of regret, redemption, and reconciliation.


“It’s definitely an embellishment of memories I’ve had. Well these stories have been about people in my life, they have been highly dramatized to be more evocative. Ya know, it’s definitely about the pursuit of partnership and love,” Jack says. “Going off that, it’s about hope and regret, but I think it’s fun to talk about reconciliation of two different sides of yourself. The reconciliation between two different people, of old and new, your memories and the future. The person that you are and the person you want to be and try to find a way to bring those two contrasting sides together,” Tim states. Following the interview, the band was set to head to the studio and immerse themselves in the music-making process. A debut EP lies in the near future, where both members have meticulously arranged the tracklisting as a mode to enhance the storytelling aspect of the project. “I think every song is a sort of revolution in a way,” says Jack. “Even if we don’t get a song in one studio session, we at least know we are moving in a direction that feels right and continues to be exciting everyday.” “Once we release the EP out to the world, it’s not ours anymore, it exists in the mind of the listeners,” Tim states. Diplomacy’s name speaks to both the defining aspects of a game and a mode of international politics, unification. Specifically the importance of unification through music. The band’s trajectory and uniting factor is on the horizon. To put it more definitive—the Los Angeles horizon that dips in the shadows of the DTLA smog and the scenic skyscrapers.

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their entire lives seeking out and learning the different facets of themselves to understand why they were put on this earth. For singer/songwriter UMI, it has only taken her twenty-one years to lean into her purpose: to create music that heals people. Tierra Umi Wilson was born in Seattle at the end of the ‘90s to a Japanese mother and a Black father. UMI, which translates to ‘ocean’ in Japanese, moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California as a music major but dropped out after realizing how she was diving her energy up between school and her creativity. Since then she released her second EP Love Language, an exploration of the act of love intertwined with themes of race, intersectionality, and her own upbringing as a mixed-race woman in America. True to her calling, speaking with UMI is like talking to an old soul; immediately she pulls you in with her softness, vulnerability, and desire to make sure everyone she touches feels safe. Although UMI has been on a number of ‘ones to watch’ lists and has already released a number of hit tracks, the path to music wasn’t particularly easy. “When I was growing up, music was always around me,” said UMI, “I was always singing as a kid, my mom plays piano and my dad plays the drums, and they were always playing music. I was writing songs from a young age, too, but I was terrified of singing in front of other people.” Refusing to let her own fear deter her need to create, UMI chose to do the next best thing:

create a YouTube channel. After she uploaded covers and a few copyright flags appeared, UMI decided to take what she knew about music and songwriting and started producing her own original songs. “It was a slow process, but it really felt like I was stepping into my purpose. Then, over time, my channel grew and I moved to LA. That was when I thought, Okay, now it's time to get over my fear.” After finally getting over the fear of performing in front of others UMI wasn’t going to let anything else stand in her way, which is when she found herself dropping out of university. “To me, music is energy,” states UMI. “When I was in school my energy was being split between school and music, so creatively I didn't feel like I was giving myself the space to make music.” It’s a tale of trying to do the task that society expects of you, but choosing to pursue the thing that lights a fire inside of you. “Being out of school has allowed me more time to live and grow and like figure myself out just by being and I feel like I have lived and experienced more, so I have more to write about.” After going on tour with Conan Gray at the tail end of last year, she found her footing as a performer. “I decided I wasn't being held back by that fear anymore. I wouldn't feel anxious and shaky before going on stage; I would feel very excited because I shifted my perception of my performance from feeling like I need to perform perfectly to using that time on-stage as a way to heal others and sing so that people can raise their vibration and feel better, which is the best thing I can do as a healer.” The music industry can be a toxic, exhausting place for rising artists; labels can expect artists to conform to stereotypes that are more marketable, dulling the artist’s original

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shine and uniqueness. For a woman of colour, it can be even more difficult to carve a place out in an industry that is used to catering to white bodies. “In the beginning, I definitely had that stereotype going in where I felt I had to make a certain type or genre of music and I have to fit this specific mold,” says UMI. “But as I've grown, I've realized my power comes from being myself.” Always a positive thinker, UMI feels the music industry is changing in a good way. “I think now's

lived experiences; she internalizes the lives of those around her. “I would go out into the world and ask myself, "why am I so sad?" I realized it's because I soak up other people's energies around me or I'm feeling anxious in crowds because I'm just feeling everybody's energy,” states UMI. Spirituality is what grounds UMI; she feels it is what has helped her realize why she’s on the planet: to heal others. “I've learned to navigate that with my writing and expressing, also medi-

a really beautiful time to be an artist because what helps you grow as an artist is being so authentically yourself. There is so much music out there and if you're like everybody else or if you're trying to be like someone else, it's just not going to cut through the sound.”

tating more and just like practicing protecting my aura and my energy. I know I can hold my energy and then be with other people and they can have their own energy. I feel very grateful to be an empath; I think it's my superpower because creativity comes from it and my desire to save the world.”

As a mixed-race woman, UMI’s own heritage has helped influence her art and how she creates it. “I think the coolest thing about being mixed-race and being half-Black and half-Japanese is that the kind of music I grew up on was very diverse,” said UMI. “I grew up on gospel music, J-pop, Japanese jazz, classical music, R&B, and neo-soul, so subconsciously I feel like those melodies are still in me and I channel when I'm writing and creating.” A track on Love Language called Sukidakara is sung completely in Japanese, aside from one verse. It was UMI’s way of embracing both sides of who she is: half-Black, half-Japanese. “It was how I was able to show the world for the first time that you can create art in both forms and in both languages and you can communicate it to anybody,” UMI states. “It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t understand it, it’s about the energy and emotions behind it. I feel like I felt really inspired by how much K-Pop had made its way into America; it shows you that really anything can translate because it's all about the energy of the music.”

Although she’s just starting out in her professional career, UMI is solidifying herself as a socially conscious and empowering singer/songwriter who is aware of the platform she has. She wants her own listeners to ask the same questions she does when she meditates: Who am I? Why am I doing the things I’m doing? Why do I buy the products I buy? And What difference do I want to make in the world? Seeing as it is an election year, these questions are even more important than ever. “As an artist I feel you have no choice but to stand up for what you believe in,” she states. “Although I’m releasing lots of new music centered around the Full Moons throughout the year, I’m planning on hosting more community events and opportunities to get people involved in more political activism.”

When listening to UMI’s Love Languages, it’s apparent how deeply she feels and how in tune she is with the world around her. A true empath, UMI doesn’t just incorporate her own


At the end of our chat, we discuss everything from star signs (she’s an Aquarius, I’m a Scorpio), to what we are manifesting for the next year, and what UMI aims to do when people hear her music. “I just want people to feel connected to my music. I want to continue channeling my own ancestors when I’m writing songs, feeling the energies around me, and I want to share that love to the world and to as many people as possible.” I think UMI will do just that.




A blissful on-the-phone rendezvous with my muttered “um’s” and “I know I asked this already in some way, but..” led me of interest to a curiosity in musician GREYSON CHANCE. I thought of only this when I spoke to him briefly: his thoughts come as naturally as his words and his music, and his voice is a breeding ground for harmony that is effortless as much as it is powerful. Most of you have heard his name; it illuminates parts of your mind that have been buried deep in the crevices of the year 2010. Perhaps you’ve seen him perform one of his singles “shut up,” from his second album, portraits, on the Ellen show. Nonetheless, his name brings a nostalgic presence, a presence so enigmatic it gently grasps your hands yet holds you hostage in a hazy stupor. With his most recent single “Boots,” Chance uses that potential to kindle his fans in his musical anecdotes that will soon be followed by more. “Boots,” has paved the way for a more pristine take on the artist’s dwelling, one with a more broader approach and one that carries maturity. There’s much that lacks in this world that’s synonymous with hyperboles. What we don’t fluently comprehend becomes wasteless air. We assume all is lost when we don’t find interest, but we grow, and we learn to accept our taste as time culminates. It happens all the same with music, writing, art, photography, any art form. That’s why I believe artists are tainted with uncertainty, regret, and conflict just as much as they are willing to take risks, ooze in satisfaction, and harmonize in their differences. Still, I’d rather spare the incessant details, for this simple statement speaks levels: Greyson Chance accepts change as it comes. And he bathes in it. He took a break from the music shortly after his first album released back in 2011. From then on, he reappeared and nestled back into the industry with ease, stating, “It was incredible and amazing in most moments and chaotic and challenging in others.” With that, I must include this sort of ideology that consumes me on behalf of this subject because it’s a phrase Greyson actually coined himself, to me, over our on-the-phone rendezvous.

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Just step out of the artist’s role and take a second to become a fan of music again. A lot of the questions I wrote for our interview prior had no inkling towards the next: they were all different. I think that’s what baffles me the most because Greyson answered each one while engaging all. All the while, I found this audible spectacle to be reasonable at its best for all celebrities. It’s to be expected, am I wrong? But there was something that exuded genuineness. In realizing his authenticity, I couldn’t help but ask more. It feels like a dire need to feel wanted or loved or appreciated in today’s society. It’s a natural link in our makeup. We command attention in whatever way that may be, and I personally feel like social media has paved a path that holds a substantial amount of power. The way we utilize it and the way it’s heavily relied on has an impact. When I asked him about something personal, like his coming out to the public kind-of personal, he responded, “I didn’t feel liberated as much; it felt more relieving than anything. The only difference now is that I’m able to connect with my fans who are in the community in a much deeper way.” Chance is as clear-grounded as one would hope to be, especially in the telling of his life’s narrative. I always like to bring up the topic of being a nuisance to oneself. Not in the way most think. It’s more of feeling both comfort and discomfort within yourself that adheres to a psychological effect, i.e., feeling uninspired. This irregularity, as much as we think it to be unfair, it is everything but. The only way to be so concise and honest with those emotions that come in either soothing waves or troublesome loads is to border it. I asked Greyson about feeling these inevitable bouts of irregularity I’ll call it, and he replied, “You have to ride out those moments. Just step out of the artist’s role and take a second to become a fan of music again.” Not enough has been said about the musician Greyson Chance, especially when he’s releasing yet another full-length album. The music should speak for itself, and so it will.


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AT JUST 20-YEARS-OLD, YOUR VOICE EMITS AN ENERGY AS THOUGH IT’S BEEN THROUGH NUMEROUS HIGHS AND LOWS—IT HAS A HEAVY SOUL FEELING, HOW LONG HAS THE PROCESS BEEN IN FINDING YOUR VOICE? AUDREY NUNA: It’s been life-long. I’m influenced a lot by women like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Sade. So that’s my comfort zone but I also tend to go wherever and try whatever I want with my voice. AS A FOLLOW-UP FROM THE FIRST QUESTION, THERE’S OF COURSE SO MUCH MORE TO A VOICE, AND YOU HAVE A SPECIAL SITUATION WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN A SOURCE OF REPRESENTATION WITHIN THE UNITED STATES MUSIC SCENE IN REGARDS TO KOREANAMERICAN ARTISTS. WITH FELLOW HIGH PROFILE FEMALE, KOREAN-AMERICAN ARTISTS SUCH AS YAEJI AND MICHELLE ZAUNER (JAPANESE BREAKFAST), HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO BE REPRESENTING NOT ONLY THE R&B MUSIC SCENE BUT ALSO THE KOREAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY? AN: Growing up and seeing 0 faces like mine in the media, I realize this is a very special time to be alive. So I plan on just doing my work at a level of excellence and letting that speak for itself. WITHIN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, THERE IS A TENDENCY TO LIMIT SOMEBODY TO WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE OR WHAT THEIR ASSUMED APPEAL WOULD BE. HAVE THERE BEEN DIFFICULTIES OR HURDLES FOR YOU TO AUTHENTICALLY SHARE YOUR VOICE? AN: I haven’t had difficulty with that. I think about it pretty simply, and I just do and make what I like. That’s my advice. Make what you like and share it, you don’t have much control over your “assumed appeal” anyways, and in the end either you believe in the boxes people try to put you in or you don’t. NOW, IN REGARDS TO MUSIC, WHAT DOES THE CREATION PROCESS LOOK LIKE? DOES THE WRITING OR THE BEATS/MELODY COME FIRST? AN: Melody with scattered words usually come first over a beat or some chords. Lyric-wise I like making up characters and stories or just regurgitating my own thoughts in songs like “Comic Sans” and “Soufflé.” WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM FOR YOUR LYRICS? AN: Whatever I’m listening to at the moment. Madvillainy has been on repeat lately, Speak For Yourself - Imogen Heap. I listen to too much Travis Scott. I also love Pure Heroine by Lorde. HAVING ATTENDED THE NEW YORK UNIVERSITY CLIVE DAVIS INSTITUTE AND THEN SUBSEQUENTLY PUTTING THAT ON HOLD— ARE YOU SEEING YOURSELF COMMITTING FULL-TIME TO A MUSIC CAREER? AN: Yerrrrrrr. WHAT SORT OF FEELING OR MENTAL IMAGE DO YOU HOPE LISTENERS AND FANS OF YOUR MUSIC ARE HAVING WHEN THEY TURN ON ANY ONE OF YOUR SONGS? AN: The same feeling their fav food gives them. FINAL QUESTION: IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH TWO ARTISTS FOR A MEGAHIT TO COME OUT IN THE SUMMER OF 2020, WHO WOULD THEY BE? AN: Slowthai and Postie.


I think about it pretty simply,

and I just do and make what I like.

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n c e r barne







It's a lucrative vision--the nostalgic hymns of SPENCER BARNETT's voice brush your ears swiftly, and almost in an instant, you're conveyed to the once-forgotten territory of your teenage angst. The LA-based musician, whose articulate musings bring forth a familiar sound, began his career by playing classical piano at the tender age of eight. From then on, it swayed from playing the electric guitar to creating lyrics for the music he was producing, "While I was learning songs, I just started singing since there was nobody else to jam with." With his single "Waste My Time," it seems there's no stopping Barnett in his path. He opens the track with his voice alongside the mesmeric guitar riffs playing effortlessly to coat his voice in silk, with the lyrics stating a brief encounter with his issue to let go or to not. His latest EP I'm Fine, dropped on January 17th. Earlier this year, he released his fivetrack EP titled Reckless and has since been in the process of creating many more. His imprint on the music industry has been set in place, and although it's just the beginning, his music and work ethic state otherwise. Because his sound is different from other newcomers, he not only has the right idea; he also has the actual talent to subside in with his listeners. When I listen to his music, it gives me a sentimental feeling of being eighteen again and falling in and out of love with the wrong people, getting heartbroken, and all of the in-between. I feel like all of the angst and madness sort of molds you into the person you become as you get older. When asked about how he's transitioned in music and in life, he says, "The funniest part of growing up is that everyone goes through all the same shit, but no one realizes it at the moment. I'm only 19 now, but I feel like I've matured a lot as a person since I was 17. I've been exposed to many new things that naturally, my music has matured with me and the experiences I've had. "I'm Fine" has hints of the nostalgic feeling of being young, but it also touches on heartbreak, passion, and pain."

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Labeling a specific genre onto a musician does a lot to the music because, most of the time, the music of today fuses with various styles. Barnett's style of music welds with plenty of components that make it authentic, purely original, which I believe to be the reason his music comes so freely. When asked about how best to describe his music, he says, "At the core of it, my sound is indie pop, but I'm trying to bring back real instrumentation and use unique rhythms to add some texture to my music. I think with this next project, people will be able to hear the difference from my past work." Transitioning into adulthood sometimes feels like a farce with all the tragedies and successes and messes, but Barnett is using that force towards his music, and it shows. Of course, even when the success shows and the music plays, it takes a lot to notice the hard work that stands behind the magic. There are many stories of people burning out after once creating something powerful, something intensely celebrated. But Barnett has a different view on creating and giving a break to look around yourself and ponder on the great aptitude of your surroundings. I asked him about his creative process and how he balances the time between when he creates and when he doesn't, "The key is to separate creative time from non-creative time. No one can try to be productive 24 hours a day without burning out, so I've been making all of my projects within the span of a week. For example, last summer, I went to Joshua Tree, stayed at an Airbnb and wrote and recorded all day every day for six days. Locked the doors and out of it came my EP, Reckless. Since then, my team and I have done a similar thing in London and recently in France, which has spawned two more projects. Just having those seven days forces you to put together an outline that is cohesive and tells a story." The reality of a musician is not the path one takes; it's how to transform it into a story. In the end, everyone has a story to tell. Whether it's good or bad, it can change someone's life. Or it could create something more.


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“Wenzday hit them with the works,” sings Kevin Flume on ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ one of the hit singles by Los Angeles’ most sought-after DJs, Taylor Chung, better known as WENZDAY. ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is quintessentially Wenzday, filled with pumping bass, tech and electric beats, with hints of drum and bass that give the song a unique multigenre feel that’s in all of her tracks. Like her namesake, Wednesday Addams, Wenzday’s songs are dark and deep, focused on heartbreak and finding herself, with gritty and eerie music videos to accompany the tracks. “I consider myself a concept writer,” Wenzday shares, referring to her mixes ‘Disko Dancing’ and ‘Gold Chainz.’ “I love to come up with stories, colors, vibes, and motifs when writing my music. Especially with electronic music, since there aren't always lyrics, creating a memorable experience for the listener is crucial.” Wenzday creates energetic sets when she plays festivals like EDC Las Vegas, Burning Man, and Nocturnal Wonderland, but she wasn’t always planning on being a DJ. She grew up in the Bay Area as a classically trained vocalist but decided to switch to DJing full-time after seeing DJ AM perform in San Francisco. “When he played, I was literally so captivated and I ran home and looked up all of the songs he played to figure out his mashups and watched YouTube videos on scratching,” the DJ recalls. With her dad working between the Bay and Los Angeles, Wenzday was able to move down to the sunny city when she was just 16 years old to be part of the “creative hub.” It was when she made the City of Angeles her home that she became the youngest person to ever DJ at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, explaining, “It was the first place where I got to see super high level and well known LA-based DJs perform and it's what inspired me to make that my career.”

As a female in a male-dominated industry, Wenzday faces her fair share of challenges but doesn’t let it bring her down. “My way of getting over these obstacles is to not give people any reason to doubt you,” she states simply. “Come prepared, practice, and always prepare for the worst.” Growing up listening to emo music like Green Day and MCR in the Myspace era, Wenzday was influenced by the bands she followed and fashion she found on the site. “For me, being emo was about DIY fashion, a lot of glitter, and being able to connect with your favorite bands on sites like Myspace or Tumblr.” The way fans connect with bands has changed since those days, but she said rave fashion and music are evolving with the help of Instagram and brands like Dolls Kill. To give her fans an insight into her life, Wenzday updates her socials regularly and has a private Facebook group for her fans, endearingly called Wenzday's Heartbreakers. Fashion is important to her even after her DIY days, which is why she created L.A. streetwear clothing company 40oz Cult with her brother, Dack Janiels, and DJ and friend, HAMi. She wanted to combine fashion and skateboard culture as a different fan experience to combat the typical bottle service culture that exists in the L.A. club scene. When Wenzday performs, she always dresses the part, rocking streetwear and oversized jackets with Dr. Martens. “Just like how I consider myself a multi-genre artist I can never just stick to one style. I love dressing up and constantly evolving and changing.” She reflects her style and brand into her music, making sure the wardrobe for her live shows is cohesive with her set. With festival season coming up, we can’t wait to see Wenzday bringing her heavy bass sounds and house music to the desert. After all, with her every day is Wenzday.

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JORDIE SAENZ, a California-based artist, explores a multifaceted approach through writing, recording, producing and playing music. He uses his own personal emotions and experiences as expressive materials, that serve as the foundational building blocks to his creation of songs. These songs encompass both lyrical and audial distinctive qualities, that allow the listener to be taken on a journey. Jordie’s songs effortlessly become tangible— stories that attach themselves to the listeners’ senses that are felt, seen and heard— creating a genuine connection. Local Wolves had the opportunity to chat with Jordie to further delve into his creative process and mentality, inspirations, evolving- yet distinctive sound, and future endeavors. DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— IN TERMS OF SOURCES OF INSPIRATION, PERSONAL MENTALITY AND IMPORTANCE OF EXPRESSING CREATIVITY THROUGH BOTH MUSIC AND SPOKEN WORD. JORDIE SAENZ: One definition for creativity that has stuck with me is “drawing a connection between two unlike things.” I’ve found that in order to be more creative, I really have to take it upon myself to familiarize myself with a diverse palette of musical genres, writing styles, philosophies, mythologies, etc. Books, movies, vine compilations, walks outside, conversa-

tions with friends, time with my family, and traveling all leave big impressions on my psyche, which in turn has a profound influence on my creative process. By venturing out into new ideas and ways of expression, I’m always finding new ways to connect things. It’s really fun how this can play out. Sometimes, I’ll connect a concept in a book I’m reading with something a friend said, or borrow two very different musical ideas, and find a way to fit them in to the same song. Generally, I’ll start off most songs, or even production, with a sort of stream-of-consciousness approach, just running with whatever feels right. Then, I’ll start asking myself “what if?” and keep trying new ideas and seeing what works. YOUR MUSIC EXPLORES PERSONAL VULNERABILITIES AND DRAWS INSIGHT TO EVOCATIVE SELF-EXPRESSION. WOULD YOU SAY THAT THIS IS A CATHARTIC RELEASE THROUGH ALL FORMS OF WRITING, SHARING, SOUND AND PRODUCTION? JS: Making songs usually feels more like a search and rescue mission. I often have a hard time identifying my own emotions, since there’s so much ambiguity and complexity and nuance when it comes

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to the human experience. What does getting fired from your job feel like? “Sad” surely doesn’t cut it. Songwriting allows me to have this multifaceted approach to defining and expression my experience: it feels like the way these two words rhyme, and the way these chords transition, and the way this melody dances then falls on top of the chord changes. Then, when the song is finished, it becomes this external entity that can be referenced; a little fossil of myself. I can point back to it and say, “wow, I used to feel this way, look how much I’ve grown,” or “wow, I’m still feeling this way after 12 years. Some things never change.” WHAT HAS LISTENERS’ REACTIONS BEEN TO HEARING YOUR MUSIC? JS: Every time I play live or release new music, I get a bunch of positive feedback, which means the world to me. I’ve been putting music online (RIP Myspace) and playing shows since I was fifteen years old, and it is still really special anytime somebody goes out of their way to listen or compliment my craft. Lots of parents have told me that their kids really enjoy my music, which I think is the sweetest thing in the world. I like to think that there’s a little bit of my inner child in each of my songs that’s connecting with them. MUSICALLY SPEAKING, THERE ARE FAMILIAR HINTS OF OBVIOUS ACOUSTIC FOLK, BUT ALSO AMBIENT SYNTHS THAT ROUND OUT, BLENDING THE TWO. WHERE DOES THIS INSPIRATION COME FROM, AND HOW HAVE YOU MADE YOUR SOUND YOUR OWN? JS: I think there's a beautifully sincere magic in the simplicity of nothing but the human voice and an acoustic guitar. My early years were filled with these really special moments that were created with that simple combination: my dad on the couch playing songs by Pink Floyd or Bob Dylan; singing old hymns around a bonfire at church camp; listening to my older brothers' friends play their songs in a coffee shop or my living room.


On the flip side, I've always been drawn to electronic instruments. When I was five or six, we had this CD of all of Disneyland's parade songs, and I'd listen to the Main Street Electrical Parade song over and over and over. Additionally, music from the original Pokémon games and The Legend of Zelda series were really impactful in forming my musical palette. When I first started recording music, most of my songs were electronic, in a vibe similar to Postal Service. Some of this was due to the fact that I'm really terrible at playing guitar on time. Discovering bands that were somehow able to fuse genres in such a natural, seemingly effortless way really changed how I viewed music, and what I wanted to do with my own songs. Copeland, Radiohead, Electric President, and Death Cab For Cutie were huge influences for me in my high school years, and are even to this day. YOUR DEBUT RELEASE, THE NORTHERN STATE, CAME OUT IN 2016. HOW HAS YOUR EVOLUTION TRANSFORMED ACROSS TIME AND SEVERAL RELEASES SINCE? MAYBE COMPARED TO YOUR NEWEST RELEASE IN 2019, LIKE WAVES ON FOREIGN SHORES? JS: The Northern State was recorded as I was coming out of a musical dry spell, and was having a bit of a musical identity crisis. It was my first time recording and releasing music in years, which brought an ungodly amount of anxiety. Due to limited resources, as well as being too stressed and insecure to take very many creative risks, I had to take a very minimalistic approach. It was recorded with one microphone in a tiny closet (I had to take out my clothes in order to fit equipment in there), with very sparse instrumentation.

THE FUTURE FOR YOU LOOKS PROMISING, WHAT CAN LISTENERS EXPECT NEXT? ANY PROJECTS, TOURS OR NEW ENDEAVORS ON THE HORIZON? JS: I've got a few projects that will be pretty much taking up all of 2020: Jordie Saenz - I'm in the process of recording an album, which will likely sound like a combination of all three of my released EPs— The Northern State, House Parade, and Like Waves on Foreign Shores. I'm really excited about these songs and am having a lot of fun with the recording / production process. Lakewalks - I just released an ambient album called Myself, Yet Not Myself under the name Lakewalks. There's this lake near my dad's house that I used to walk around all the time to bring myself inner peace. These songs are essentially a sonic conduit of that lake, a soundtrack for slowing down and taking a deep breath. Hopefully, I'll be releasing another album under Lakewalks this year. Love You Later - I've had the pleasure of producing and playing for Love You Later since its conception. We've been working on a handful of new songs that I'm really stoked on and honored to have been involved in.

These days, I feel a lot more free in my approach to music. I’ve got a better setup, as far as space and equipment are concerned. It's the most organized I've been, so it's easy to just jump in and try out some ideas after work instead of having to completely set up and tear down my closet setup each time, which makes everything a lot easier and a whole lot more fun. Like Waves On Foreign Shores was a really fun project for me. Most of the songs were really old, some nearly 10 years old. As far as production, I let myself be as "self-indulgent" as I wanted without any inhibitions. I'm really proud of how the songs turned out, and am surprised about the positive reception.

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There’s such a nostalgia for the sound because it’s sounds I grew up hearing. BOYCARO




SITTIN R G E in the backseat of my father's Red Ford Bronco and "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston started playing on the radio while sitting at a red light. We were on our way to Big Ma’s house (grandma). I started to sing and both my parents turned their heads back at me, shocked that I was singing the song with a little stank on it. At the moment at 4 years old I knew this was something that was in me. Something I was doing right and something that I felt. After all these years and all these pep talks, I finally readied my debut EP titled Ethereal, meaning to me delicate and soft yet powerful enough to make an impact. There’s such a nostalgia for the sound because it’s sounds I grew up hearing. From gospel being blasted every morning while my mother or father cooked breakfast; from my times at Big Ma’s house, who played nothing but the blues on a dusty speaker with an antenna. To my sister’s obsession with R&B. These moments guided the sound and the artist known as me, BoyCaro.

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Visualizing shapes and colors is how director and editor JOE DESANTIS creates a narrative of his dreamy and hazy music videos. Based in Los Angeles, Desantis spends most of his time directing music videos, coming up with concepts to transport viewers to a different place using lighting and muted colors. Looking at Desantis’ reel, it’s evident that he’s a storyteller, able to breathe a new life into a song by taking the story from the lyrics and running with it. Since moving to L.A. a few years ago, he’s been nominated for a Queerty and creating his signature style. In conversation with Local Wolves, Desantis talked about his creative process, achievements, social media, and what’s in store for 2020. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE? JOE DESANTIS: The feeling of a finished project. All the stress and anxiety of pre-production just melting off when you see what all the hard work has created. And with all that hard work, you are able to invoke an emotion from someone somewhere who connected with it. Hopefully a good emotion! HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN DIRECTING AND EDITING? DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO DIRECT MUSIC VIDEOS? JD: At the age of 13 I got my first camera. It was a small Samsung MiniDv camcorder. Way before HD was a thing. My friends and I would make funny videos and I would edit them in Windows Movie Maker. Nothing truly interesting. Exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of 13 year olds. I just thought it was fun, so I created this small passion for it. My friends and of course my mom saw that passion and encouraged me to stick with it. That eventually grew to me wanting it to be a career. Music videos came as a natural direction for me since most of my ideas come from music. I can visualize shapes and colors or even situations the moment I listen to a song. HOW DO YOU CONTEXTUALIZE MUSIC AND TRANSFORM IT INTO A MUSIC VIDEO? JD: When I listen to the music I’m creating a music video concept for, I really break it down. Down to the rhythm and the melody. That will create the overall “look” and style of the video. The lyrics usually influence the content of the video. The story or lack thereof. Sometimes looking at the song in pieces like that can really give you some interesting ideas, past the more straightforward ones. WHAT’S A PROJECT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF AND WHY? JD: I can answer this question by saying I’m most proud of bits and pieces of all my videos! But most recently a video I co-directed, shot, and edited got nominated for a Queerty! I’ve never won anything in my life so that was a good first feeling. So I guess I’m proud of that, too!


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WHAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS AND DIRECTORS INFLUENCE YOUR WORK? JD: Right now one of my favorite DP’s is Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar, Her, Dunkirk). He is so good at capturing this natural and organic feel, while also having a stylized look. As for director, Denis Villeneuve would be my top pick currently. He is not afraid to take his time with his shots. When he does this, he is able to craft an emotion very patiently. Letting the viewer really take in what he’s putting out. WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? JD: For music videos, I start by giving the track a few listens as I go about my day to day. I then research the artist to get a feel for their branding. What they wear, their personality, etc. From there I can start with the actual details. I create the look and feel from the rhythm and melody, and the story from the lyrics. Sometimes I instantly get an idea if I truly love the song. But other times you have to squeeze your brain like it’s a tube of toothpaste to get ideas. But once I do get an idea, I run it by a couple people I trust so they can give me their first impressions. Then I make any changes to the concept if need be! WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING AND WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB? JD: Let’s start with the hardest. And I’m sure most people can agree. Taking an idea in your brain, and trying to write it on a piece of paper, so that 5+ people can read it and take it 5+ different ways. The treatment process in a nutshell. The most rewarding part of my job is hearing satisfaction from the artist and their team. If they are happy then I did my job and I created exactly what they wanted. HOW DO YOU CREATE A UNIQUE STYLE? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE COPYING YOUR WORK? JD: I watch A LOT of videos. Like too many sometimes. The Vimeo Staff Picks page definitely keeps me on top of visual trends. The YouTube Trending page can keep me in the loop with big-name releases and concepts. But on top of that, I follow a lot of photography Instagrams. I find that a photo can have so much detail in the lighting and coloring. It’s much easier for me to draw my inspiration from that than videos sometimes. But as for people copying my work, it happens. But not a whole lot. Usually, when you put yourself in a certain style, it’s easy for others to make visuals similar to yours. So it’s really hard to say who is copying and who is just following the wave!

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME MEGABYTE FOR YOUR WEBSITE? JD: Megabyte was an old idea I had years and years ago. It was originally my YouTube Channel name. I uploaded Filmmaking tutorials and equipment reviews. Megabyte just stuck with my personal work. But recently I’ve been trying to push just my name instead of Megabyte. I remember stressing myself out trying to figure out a name back then. This was around 2011 I believe. I wanted it to be SO cool but also I’m just some nerdy guy so I came up with Megabyte. There’s no special reason to be honest. HOW DOES YOUTUBE HELP CREATORS LIKE YOU? OR DO YOU PREFER SHARING YOUR WORK ON A DIFFERENTPLATFORM? JD: YouTube is definitely one of the best tools for video creators. That’s where you’ll get the most eyes on your work. While Vimeo is better to showcase to other filmmakers, YouTube is better to showcase to consumers. Instagram is definitely up there with YouTube. And Facebook is good if you want to impress your mom, who then will brag about you to her friends. So that’s cool, too. WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE? JD: I like to say I can use any equipment that is needed for the job! But I am partial to some brands. Right now Blackmagic Design is killing it with their pocket cameras. Those I love using when I’m doing something more run and gun style. But if I’m doing something with a bigger budget, then I bring out the big guns like Arri and Red. Personally I prefer focusing on what kind of lenses I can use over the camera. Sigma Art lenses are great on the lower end. But if I’m looking for more texture, then vintage Nikon or Canon glass is fun. Vintage Anamorphic lenses, though will always be my first choice. Lomo Anamorphic lenses have been amazing. I find that leaving myself open to using any equipment based on the project at hand, gives me a smoother production. Because I’m not trying to lug a massive camera rig for every video I do. Just saying. WHAT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT UPCOMING PROJECTS AND PLANS FOR 2020? JD: In 2020 you can look for more narrative-driven projects from me. More personal projects. And tons of more music videos of course.

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To be black in America is to be actively unseen and violently misunderstood. My upbringing in Nigeria did not prepare me for this harsh reality. This project is a letter to my 14 year old self, with the guidance I wish I had upon returning to the U.S. without my family.

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CAN YOU GIVE A QUICK RUNDOWN OF WHAT HALF/ACCESS DOES FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT YET? CW: Half Access is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to making live music accessible. The primary way we’re working on that right now is through the creation of our online database of detailed venue accessibility information. We have over 365 venues listed, and anyone can submit info on any venue in the world. A big misconception of our database is that only fully accessible venues are listed, but we include info on any and every venue to let people decide for themselves if it’s accessible to them because needs vary by person. The database allows disabled concert goers to know what to expect before going to a venue for the first time. In the coming years, we hope to use the info in the database to work with venues on improving access in their spaces as well as further build up the level of detailed info available to not just fans, but disabled musicians too, and make sure venues start including it on their websites too. WHAT LED YOU TO START HALF/ACCESS? CAN YOU GIVE US THE STORY OF HOW IT CAME TO BE? CW: I’ve been going to shows regularly since 2014. When I first started attending general admission concerts, I never


fer this. That said, I used those experiences to start asking venues every time I went if there was somewhere else I could watch the show without being in the crowd. I need to be able to see and be safe. Most of them didn’t even understand what I was asking for because they didn’t have an accessible viewing area. Sometimes they even walked me straight to the front row as if that’s a good idea and not a major liability if something were to happen. That said, I stopped risking my safety and started sacrificing my view, but as someone who goes to a good handful of shows every month, I wasn’t going to put up with not being able to have an equal experience yet keep paying for the same ticket as everyone else. I was tired of leaving shows hating being disabled because the only thing that makes me feel that way is inaccessibility and ableism. I’ve wanted to work in music since I was 15, but if it wasn’t accessible to me, then what was the point? I decided enough was enough and that things needed to change, not only for me but for people with all different types of disabilities, so I thought, why not be the person to change things? I started sharing photos of my view at shows on social media which made a lot of people immediately realize how much of an issue inaccessibility is, and as I grew more connected with other disabled folks in my local scene I was able to put into perspective just how bad things were for


COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS AT HALF/ACCESS AND HOW LONG IT HAS BEEN AROUND? CASSIE WILSON: I am the founder of Half Access. I started Half Access in the spring of 2017, but things really picked up in the summer of that year when I received the first ever Sub City grant from Hopeless Records.

really thought about accessibility because whenever I went to a venue for the first time, none of the staff ever led me to a specific accessible viewing area, even as a wheelchair user. I always assumed that if I wanted to be able to see the show that I had to be in the front row, which also meant risking my safety and the safety of everyone around me. At the end of 2016 I had surgery on my spine that meant that when I started going to shows again in 2017 I really had to start considering my safety. I could no longer twist around to see crowd surfers coming or what was going on in the crowd behind me, and I didn’t really need a whole crowd of people pushing up against my back either. Over the years, there was a very small handful of times that I was offered somewhere to watch to the side of the stage on the floor where I’d be separated from the crowd just enough to be safe and see, but usually this wasn’t an option each time I went to venues that did occasionally of-


people who had even less mobility than I do. Starting Half Access was my positive and productive outlet for creating change. I’m not here to yell at venues for all that they’re doing wrong, but instead am here to work with those who are willing to grow and change to be as accessible as possible. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITHIN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? CW: My favorite thing about working within the music industry is the community. It always has been my favorite thing, and probably always will be. I love going to shows alone because I know when I get there I’ll see at least one person I know, but more than likely I’ll end up seeing five to ten people I know. I love the tight-knit community leading to friendships and the best support system you could ever have. I also love that the music community at-large seems to be consistently trying to make the music scene and the world a better place for everyone. That said, I’d love for people to start factoring accessibility into their conversations about safe spaces and inclusivity. You can’t have inclusivity or a safe space without accessibility. So often when people list the forms of discrimination they’re against, they forget about ableism which means they’re forgetting accessibility too. It’s really unsettling to be sitting at the back of a sold out show, unable to see because the venue didn’t accommodate you, and hear the band on stage talk about how everyone is welcome at their shows. Lots of bands talk about safe spaces and inclusivity, but I want to see more of them putting in the actual work to back up their statements. WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED THANKS TO HALF/ACCESS ? CW: I think probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is that any amount of change is making a difference. I often see how much work there still is ahead, but when someone takes the time to let us know that our database made it easier for them to see their favorite bands, I realize that change is already beginning and positively affecting people’s lives. I’ve also learned that a lot of people genuinely care about accessibility, but they weren’t aware that there was a problem until they learned about our work or went to a concert with someone who’s disabled and saw it for themselves. A lot of people assume that because the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 exists, that everything has to be accessible and that it’s illegal if it’s not. Unfortunately, a lot of buildings were built before the ADA was put into place which complicates things. HOW CAN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SOMEDAY WORK IN THIS FIELD GET A START? CW: As my Business 101 teacher said, “Find a need and fill it.” I started out in music journalism as my way of being more involved in music outside of just attending local shows while I was still in high school, and eventually that led me to finding where I was genuinely needed which was in accessibility advocacy in music through starting Half Access.


WHAT ARE SOME OF HALF/ACCESS’ ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? CW: In 2019, the Half Access database grew by over 200 venue submissions from all across the US, Canada, and even overseas. We worked with artists like La Dispute, Gouge Away, and Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties to collect info on all of the venues they played on tour, and worked with even more great artists to send Half Access info along on tours to make sure we’re reaching as many people as we can. In 2020 we’re going to continue to expand our reach. I’d love to work with major ticket companies and promoters to get accessibility info listed or linked where people are buying tickets or on the venue websites themselves in a way where it’s easy to find and not buried somewhere deeper. I’m also hoping that we get to work with more artists to make sure every venue they’re playing is in our database. Ideally, every artist could be working with us on that. I’d also love to reach out to the venues already in our database to get even more detailed information that may not be obvious to people who submit the venues to our database. These would be things such as accommodations for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; venue accessibility for musicians and employees; the types of seating available for those who need it; whether or not the venue posts strobe light warnings; if the venue allows food and medication inside for those who need it, and more. We really want to make sure we cover as many aspects of accessibility as possible. We’re also going to work on how we’re structured a bit so we can get more people involved in what we’re doing to make more progress in a shorter amount of time. As of now, the best thing anyone can do to help us is by submitting accessibility info on any and all venues in their area and by letting people know about Half Access when someone talks about venue accessibility. As consumers and fans, what do you think we can do to help improve and support the music scenes we love? I think the best thing anyone can do is listen to the needs of those around them and work together to make sure everyone feels safe and included. Disabled folks want to support the scene by showing up to concerts to support and discover their favorite artists too, but we need to be able to have an equal experience. Support your local scene and the people who exist within it. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? FEEL FREE TO WRITE IT HERE. CW: ‘Disabled’ isn’t a bad word and doesn’t have to be uncomfortably danced around in conversation. Not all disabilities look the same. Not every disabled person needs a mobility aid to get around, but even then mobility is a spectrum and some days you need your mobility aids and some days you don’t. Believe disabled people and truly listen to their needs because they’ll know what works for them better than anyone else. Genuinely include disabled people in inclusive spaces.

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COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS AT NO MORE DYSPHORIA AND HOW LONG YOU WORKED TO LAUNCH IT IN 2016? NICOLLE MAROULIS: I am the original "founder" and sole proprietor of No More Dysphoria! It didn't take much to launch. Once the idea was born, it was an every day effort ever since.


CAN YOU GIVE A QUICK RUNDOWN OF WHAT NO MORE DYSPHORIA DOES FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT YET? NM: No More Dysphoria is a 501(c)3 non profit organization who's primary focus is to help transgender, non binary, and gender non conforming individuals pay for different aspects of their transitions. Transitions come in so many different colors so this includes




an array of things such as HRT, consultations, therapy, binders, stp packers, laser hair removal costs, etc. IF YOU’RE COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING, WHAT LED YOU TO CREATE NO MORE DYSPHORIA? NM: Back when we first launched, my friend initially thought of the idea and presented it to me and it resonated with me immediately and I said, "Let me help you." and we started brainstorming ideas together. After the first few weeks, they started to feel unsure about their involvement in fear of being outed, and wished me luck to continue on without them, and I hit the ground running ever since. So when we launched, it really just started immediately. And over the past few years, I've really gotten a much more realistic handle on what we can do, what we can take on, etc. I myself am non-binary and understand how it feels to live in a body that doesn't feel like your own, so if there's anything I can do to ensure people don't have to suffer in their own skin, I will. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? NM: My favorite things about the music industry is common ground we all stand on that led us here. Most of us come from some sort of traumatic background, or struggle with an array of mental illnesses, or body issues, or low self-esteem, etc. We all come together and share these emotions and experiences through our art and none of us judge each other for it. I think that sort of community is really special and important to be apart of. A change I'd like to see in 2020 is more support tours being offered to smaller bands based on the craft of their songs, and their hard work ethic. I want to see social stature in music stop being dictated by Spotify stats and streams. That is so wack. There's bands who sort of get lucky based on who they know or have high stream counts but tour like once every two years or something, meanwhile there's smaller bands with 100 monthly listeners who tour non stop all year long, that totally rock, and never get the recognition they deserve. WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED THANKS TO RUNNING NO MORE DYSPHORIA? NM: I really want to help literally everyone and sometimes I run myself into the ground trying to do just that, and an important lesson I learned is I have to be okay with taking a step back sometimes and remembering that I can't help everyone and that I am doing my best. YOU ALSO HAVE A BAND CALLED HIT LIKE A GIRL, CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT THE CONTRAST OF BEING ABLE TO DO


WORK AS AN ARTIST AND THEN THROUGH A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION? NM: I've noticed over the years a lot of the small things I do to benefit Hit Like a Girl are things I will then turn around and do for No More Dysphoria as well. Like, I keep track of all my band expenses in a google sheets, and after doing that for awhile I was like, "oh wait I should do this for NMD too." So a lot of things go hand in hand in that aspect. It's cool that I've been able to basically conjoin the two things at our bands' shows and stuff by integrating NMD at our merch table for example. WHAT ARE SOME OF NO MORE DYSPHORIA’S AND HLAG’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? NM: HLAG killed it this year. Some of our accomplishments this year were getting on Taco Bell's Feed The Beat program, we played the last ever Bled Fest in Howell, MI, played two sold out shows supporting Mom Jeans, and Prince Daddy and The Hyena, we played The Fest in Gainesville, FL, released two new songs and got written about in Stereogum, and we played almost 100 shows this year. HLAG's goals for 2020 are to play The Fest again in Gainesville, play a few more festivals and break into that festival circuit, and record a new album. NMD's accomplishments were finally getting official 501(c)3 status, and we donated to literally hundreds of people this year and thousands of dollars. Our goal for 2020 is to just stay on track with fundraising as much as possible and continue paying it forward. How the public can help is by maybe donating to NMD which you can do so via paypal at paypal.me/nomoredysphoria AS CONSUMERS AND FANS, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO HELP IMPROVE AND SUPPORT THE MUSIC SCENES WE LOVE AS WELL AS THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY? NM: The best thing you can do is pay for artists' music!!!! If there's a band you like, chances are they have their music available for purchase on their sites or on their bandcamps and you can probably name your own price for an instant download. Follow these artists' on all of their social media accounts. Little dumb things like that go such a long way!! IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? FEEL FREE TO WRITE IT HERE. NM: Hit Like a Girl always collects NMD donations at their shows and sells merch for them at their merch table. HLAG is touring in March to/from SXSW so be on the look out for that announcement and dates and be sure to check them out on tour and make a donation if you have the means!!

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COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS AT VERTIGO VOLUMES AND HOW LONG IT HAS BEEN AROUND? My name is NICK AYALA and I am the founder of Vertigo Volumes, we have been around for about 5 years! Can you give a quick rundown of what Vertigo Volumes does for those who haven’t heard of it yet? Vertigo Volumes is a collective based in Southern California. Established in 2015, we started because we wanted to document the local music scene and host events to help local talent reach beyond their dreams! As of today we still remain a collective and have our own booking agents, photographers, videographers, and stage managers. Although we are known in the industry as “promoters” we still do a lot more! WHAT LED YOU TO CREATE VERTIGO VOLUMES AND THE BOOKING INDUSTRY IN GENERAL? CAN YOU GIVE US THE STORY OF HOW IT CAME TO BE? NA: It all started in the beginning of 2015 and being a kid from the suburbs of Fontana was not the most exciting thing. Music has always been a huge part of my life but when I got to high school it changed my life forever! I met a few friends who shared the same music taste as me and they introduced me to back-


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yard shows. After weeks of attending my friend Sage and I wanted to help the local music community grow, by interviewing, getting live footage, and hosting our own events for outcasts like us to enjoy. After a year of throwing these insane DIY backyard shows I knew it was time for a change when 300 people started showing up. That’s when I started hosting shows and booking these upcoming bands at venues throughout LA & Orange County. I was very nervous to take that first step but I knew it was for the better! As of today we’ve had over 40+ shows at venues all across Southern California including: The Roxy, The Observatory, Garden Amp, The Fox Theater, and many more! Working with acts such as Goth Babe, The Red Pears, Beach Goons and hundreds more!


WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? NA: One thing I love about working in the music industry is meeting and connecting with new people. Whether it’s getting to know the bands, venues, or our attendees! I know I can always walk away with a new friend or a new partnership. One thing I’d like to see in 2020 is for people to be more open to newer bands or even different types of genres! There is so much undiscovered talent and taking a little time out of your day to listen or share someone’s art could change their lives forever. WHAT






LEARNED THANKS TO RUNNING AND STARTING VERTIGO VOLUMES? NA: Running Vertigo Volumes has taught me a lot of things. The most important thing that I have taken from this experience is that hard work pays off. If you find something that you love to do and you are dedicated enough to your dream to put in maximum effort you will be happy with the results. I started Vertigo Volumes when I was a sophomore in high school, now I am 21 and I have accomplished things i would never even dreamed of. HOW CAN YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SOMEDAY WORK IN THIS FIELD GET A START? NA: I started this entire collective when I was only 15 years old, and I haven’t stopped loving it ever since! The only piece of advice I would give them is to never give up and network as much as possible. Building a brand or being involved with music takes a lot of time! A lot of people in the industry never took me serious because of my young age, and I’ve missed out on many opportunities because of that. Now that I’m a bit older I’ve been able to accomplish many goals I never thought I would’ve these past 2 years!


WHAT ARE SOME OF VERTIGO VOLUMES’ ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? NA: When I first started I never in a million years thought I would even sell out a show, and now we have about a 90% sell out rate. This year alone 15 of our 17 shows sold out! Our main focus for 2020 is to host an LA based festival sometime during the year. In order to make our vision possible we are going to put as much effort in making this our biggest event to date! As for the public, all VV asks is to support your local scene and help it grow as much as possible. AS CONSUMERS AND FANS, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO HELP IMPROVE AND SUPPORT THE MUSIC SCENES WE LOVE? NA: Going to shows is obviously the best way you could support your local music scene however, spending money isn’t the only way to show your love and support to local artists. There are so many other ways to support your favorite artists! You can simply share a song on social media, with a friend, or leave a positive comment to show them some love! IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? FEEL FREE TO WRITE IT HERE. NA: Whether you’ve been around since the backyard days or are just now finding out about us, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported VV throughout these 5 years. We have a lot of exciting things planned for 2020 and we hope that you stick around to experience it all with us!

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COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS AT 8123 AND HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN A PART OF IT? CHELSEA DUNSTALL: I’m an artist manager with 8123. I’ve officially been with the company full time since 2013, but I was involved for about four years prior to that. CAN YOU GIVE A RUNDOWN OF WHAT 8123 DOES FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT YET? CD: 8123 is a collective predominantly focusing on artist management. For many of our artists, we also offer label services including marketing, social media management, publicity, etc.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? CD: First and foremost, I love music. I love being able to work in an industry of something I am so passionate about! I love the people who I work with and the bands we represent. In 2020, I want to see the music industry take even more steps towards equality and diversifying the landscape. I also want to see more artists using their platforms to speak out against inequality and in favor of social and political movements.



WHAT LED YOU TO WORK WITH 8123, AND PUBLICITY IN GENERAL? CD: I’ve been working directly with The Maine since 2009 – I started off by running their street team (and still do). At the time I was also working for a publicity company locally with other artists. When I was hired by 8123, I was able to bring my experience in PR to the roster and handle a lot of publicity duties for our artists.


WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED DURING YOUR TIME AT 8123? CD: So many. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people who I can learn from every single day. On a small scale, I’ve learned many skills specific to the roles I do at 8123. I’ve also learned a lot of lessons that I can apply outside of business and into my everyday life. One of the most valuable is that if you really want to make something happen, there is a way to do it. Sometimes you just need a little bit of persistence, hard work, and creativity to get there. I look at my journey with 8123 as the best example of that. Twelve years ago, I was your average music fan standing in the crowd at shows wondering how I could be apart of something like this. HOW CAN YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SOMEDAY WORK IN THIS FIELD OR THE MUSIC INDUSTRY GET A START? CD: Get involved! Try a little bit of everything – you never know which aspects of the industry you’re going to fall in love with. I recommend dabbling in different internships and volunteering whenever possible. Learn and absorb everything around you. Conferences and networking events are great places to be! Ask lots of questions and listen as much as you can. Find what you like and don’t give up. WHAT ARE SOME OF 8123’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? CD: We held our second ever 8123 Fest which was bigger and better than the first. We learned a lot back in 2017 from hosting the first festival, so we are very proud of how much it grew this year. We also self-released The Maine’s You Are Ok, which was a huge undertaking for us but the album cycle has been amazing so far. One of my favorite achievements this


past year is the growth of 8123 Impact – the philanthropic initiative where we engage with fans to create and encourage volunteer opportunities in local communities where our artists tour. 2019 has seen more fans get involved with the various projects and overall a larger impact! We have lots of goals for growth set for 2020 – both with individual artists as well as for the company as a whole. One of my personal goals is to find more ways to super female (and other underrepresented) artists including directly on our roster. AS CONSUMERS AND FANS, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO HELP IMPROVE AND SUPPORT THE MUSIC SCENES WE LOVE? CD: The way we consume music has changed so much, and with so many artists out there – it becomes increasingly hard for artists to make a living doing music full time. I think that forces artists to get more creative in what they do and think about aspects of their career outside of the music itself a lot more than they would have in the past. As consumers and fans, it’s important to support the artists you love. Buying a ticket to a show or picking up some merch goes directly back to the artist themselves, so live music is a great way to support your favorite bands. I also think sharing the music you are passionate about within your social circles is very important – social media has given us a new way of reaching potential fans – but hearing about a band from a trusted friend is still one of the most effective ways of bringing someone into the band’s audience. To help improve the music scenes you love, I think it is important for fans to recognize that they have a voice and to advocate for themselves and listen to others. Regardless of genre, all shows should be safe spaces and as an industry we need to do better at striving for that. As fans, look out for one another and help make music more inclusive.

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WHAT LED YOU TO WORK RISCH GROUP, AND TO TOUR MANAGING IN GENERAL? AR: Even before Peyton hit me up, I had been wanting to Tour Manage. That’s how she knew I’d say yes. Almost everyone I managed didn’t really tour. We mostly just put out records, so I was tired of sitting at a desk. With Tour Managing I get to see the results of my work immediately when a show goes smoothly or we come under budget to the joy of the artist and their manager. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? AR: In the touring industry, everyone usually understands how time-sensitive things are. You can “circle back” and “follow up” a million times in music before getting a reply. In touring people usually hit you back


COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE IS AT RISCH GROUP, AND HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN A PART OF IT? AVERY RISCH: I co-founded Risch Group with my father [Doug Risch] in December 2014 as an Artist Management company. We operated that until April of 2018. Those three years I had a lot of firsts; I got to negotiate the first publishing deal for my artist Truitt with the help of their lawyer at the time Marc and I helped work my first artist’s debut single to over a million streams [Khai’s Do You Go Up, now 8.5 million streams.] I closed the doors and dropped all of my clients at the company in April because I got an offer for what I thought was my dream job. After just over 4 months there I realized that wasn’t the case and I needed to leave. I decompressed for about 2.5 weeks when my friend Peyton [Marek] called me and said her artist The Greeting Committee, who is still our client, needed a Tour Manager. A week later I was on my first tour.

CAN YOU GIVE A QUICK RUNDOWN OF WHAT RISCH GROUP DOES FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT YET? AR: I describe Risch Group as a creative management company so that we don’t ever close the door to future opportunities. But right now we’re focused on the touring division where we handle Tour Management for a number of acts. We look after everything from flights, tour accounting, and merchandise management to catering, hotels, and press schedules.


in about 10 minutes, especially day of show. I’d like to see more emphasis put on artist’s comfort at venues. Some of these venues, even ones over 1k capacity, have shit hole’s for green rooms and artist hospitality. The Wilma in Missoula, The Ready Room in St. Louis, and Washington’s in Fort Collins have some of the best green rooms. WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED DURING YOUR TIME AT RISCH GROUP AND/OR AS A TOUR MANAGER? AR: You work FOR the artist. It’s their show.f they’re asking for something, they probably need it. Treat venue staff like your best friend. Any allotted guestlist amount, merch split, curfew, etc. can be amended if you are the nicest person in the room. HOW CAN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SOMEDAY WORK IN THIS FIELD GET A START? AR: The absolute best example of this was Devyn. She’s going to be going out for us in 2020 as a Tour Manager. She was at one Christan French’s (one of our clients) shows and she walked up to Camden, his Tour Manager. She asked if she could chat with him for 15 minutes after the show and he said yes. So she waited around afterwards, they chatted, and Camden put her in contact with me. Now she hopefully will


work most of 2020 on our tours. Use common sense. Don’t bother people while they’re working, but see if they can talk later. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR AND RISCH GROUP’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? AR: In our first year in the touring business we’ve done 125 shows with artists. Holy shit I just counted that. Camden, who TMs Christian and Role Model, crushed a good majority of that. Big shout out Camden cause that’s my guy. This year I developed a software called Advance that streamlines the advancing process. It’s venue-facing which means a venue will fully advance their end before ever receiving any of our tour’s assets. The software is exclusively used on our tours and is the backbone of our business from a logistics perspective. AS CONSUMERS AND FANS, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO HELP IMPROVE AND SUPPORT THE MUSIC SCENES WE LOVE? AR: Buy merch! I had no idea how much good this does for most artists prior to touring, but most of the time merch profits go straight into the artist’s pocket. Plus people like Role Model and Louis The Child have the coolest merch out their right now. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? FEEL FREE TO WRITE IT HERE. AR: I didn’t go to college and I get to employ people now. Do literally whatever you want if you feel like it will make a positive difference in your life and others.

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COULD YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR ROLE AS AN ARTIST MANAGER AND HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN A PART OF IT? PEYTON MAREK: I’ve been a manager for nearly 5 years now. I began at 18 and am now 23! An artist manager is the glue to everyone and everything. You’re constantly talking with the band (mostly), label, business manager, lawyer, agents, publicist, creative director, etc. to make sure everything comes to life and everyone is in synchronization/on the same page. I’m plotting my artists’ timelines, touring, press, releases (the list goes on!) and making sure everyone else is on-board. Our artist teams are excellent. I’ve been very lucky to get to work with phenomenal people from the get-go. I also often get asked this question at family reunions and have no clue how to answer it. The short answer for this question is managers do almost everything you can think of when it comes to an artist. Everyday is different but jam-packed from start to finish and I am always running up two stairs at a time because I am excited! CAN YOU GIVE A QUICK RUNDOWN OF YOUR ROLE FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT YET? PM: See answer above!


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WHAT LED YOU TO BECOME AN ARTIST MANAGER? PM: It was definitely an accident! Truthfully, I hired myself. My parents have always played music and got a bunch of recording equipment which intrigued me. I initially wanted to be an audio engineer and producer and the first band I produced and helped engineer for was The Greeting Committee. I got very lucky because they are really good.


WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, AND WHAT CHANGE DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN 2020? PM: I love the people I meet and the things I learn on a daily basis. I have learned so much from artist management and had to grow up very quickly and get my shit together as much as possible because I started tour managing and managing when I was in high school. I want to see a more eco-friendly music industry + of course beyond just in music. I encourage managers, agents, bands, etc. (no matter how big or small) to be conscious of what their impact is on the planet. I think a great place to start is to enable a “green rider” for your touring world. Meaning ethically sourced rider items and no plastic water bottles. We love eco-friendly bands! No matter how big or small it is so important to be with it and know that everything we do impacts climate change worsening. Another thing I want to see is our continuous movement of inclusivity in music. Festival bills are embarrassing when you take off the men involved and look at how little women are included. There is no excuse. Hire women and young people — I’ll never stop saying it. WHAT ARE SOME LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNED DURING YOUR TIME AS AN ARTIST MANAGER? PM: There are a lot of cool things I’ve learned but I’d say learn how to be able to talk to everyone. Knowing how to talk to the CEO of a label and a janitor at a label the same way is huge. No one is inferior or superior and it will get you a long away. I’m lucky my parents taught me that from the start. HOW CAN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SOMEDAY WORK IN THIS FIELD GET A START? PM: Go to shows! Go meet bands and find bands you love. Friends’ bands are the best from past experience but there is nothing wrong with a cold email or DM to an artist you love asking if they have management. Be dedicated and always be at the band’s best interest


and remember you work for the band. It isn’t about you, it’s about the band and furthering their career (which will further yours as well if all goes according to plan). WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS PAST YEAR? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2020, AND HOW CAN THE PUBLIC HELP? PM: My New Year’s resolutions were for the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl (which WE DID!) and to be more eco-friendly, so I am trying as hard as I can personally and professionally to do the best I can. January was awesome because The Greeting Committee played their biggest sold-out show yet and I joined Berko Pearce and Scott Sheldon to work on artists such as Irontom and AWOLNATION while continuing to rock TGC. I am excited for this year! New music from everyone. AS CONSUMERS AND FANS, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP IMPROVE AND SUPPORT THE MUSIC SCENES WE LOVE? PM: Support artists and their hard work! Pay for music, concert tickets and band merch — it keeps everything going! Please also support each other. In Kansas City, TGC are working on some ways to level up fans feeling safe at shows and in general. They are awesome to work with as they are always trying to improve everything around them. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? FEEL FREE TO WRITE IT HERE. PM: Yes, be involved in your local music scene. I would not be where I am without Kansas City. Kansas City is my #1 for life. Learn about every industry — not just music. Fashion, politics, film, etc. all impact each other and music, specifically. It is imperative to stay with it and know what is happening as artists are intertwining their music careers into other industries. It is an exciting time!

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carlie hanson carlie hanson carlie hanson WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY DILLON MATTHEW

“I’m still just a kid in a lot of ways, but when it comes to creating my music I always know what I want and I am very driven about it” explains 19-year-old, Wisconsin-born, singer CARLIE HANSON on what it’s like to be an artist on the rise during her youth. In 2019 Hanson released her first full body of work, a pop-rock EP by the name of Junk, and her most recent single “Side Effects,” that delves into the intricacies of coming to terms with a relationship that came out of nowhere. If there’s one thing you should know about Carlie, it's that she will tell it exactly like it is — she won’t stand for an emotional tug-of-war. Launching her career after posting a cover of Zayn Malik’s “PILLOWTALK” to Instagram in 2016 to having her first ever headlining tour this past September, we were lucky enough to have a conversation with Carlie about the parameters of pop music and what maturity really means before she skyrockets up the charts. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS SHAPED YOU TO BE THE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY? DO YOU FIND YOU’VE MATURED AS AN ARTIST FASTER THAN YOU’VE MATURED YOURSELF? CAN SOMEONE BE A MATURE ARTIST BUT IMMATURE AT HEART? CARLIE HANSON: I think growing up the way that I did has a lot to do with who I am today. Growing up with the mother that I have, my big brother, big sister, and little sister did a lot for me. Especially with me and my sisters, we were always hanging out. Our personalities went so well together and I am 100% exactly who I am around them. Since I was young I always craved to be the center of attention, to make people laugh. About a year ago though, when I moved away from home in Wisconsin to LA, that’s where I really learned what responsibility is and what growing up really means. I don’t really look at “myself” and being “an artist” as two different things. I am who I am and who I am is an artist. I think you can be immature as hell at heart, but still be a mature artist. I’m still just a kid in a lot of ways, but when it comes to creating my music I always know what I want and I am very driven about it.


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WHAT RESONATES WITH YOU MOST WHEN YOU INTERACT WITH MUSIC? YOU’RE CATEGORICALLY A POP SINGER, BUT HAVE INFLUENCES FROM OTHER GENRES LIKE RAP, ETC. DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF TRAPPED WITHIN THE BARRIERS OF POP, OR WHAT’S CONSIDERED THE TRADITIONAL “FLOW” OF POP SONGS? HOW DO YOU FEEL AS IF YOUR PERSPECTIVE, AS TOLD THROUGH YOUR SONGS, SHOWS OFF YOUR GENUINE/UNIQUE SELF? WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE? CH: Whether it’s listening to or creating music, lyrics mean a lot to me. I love hearing a song that just cuts straight to the core and you can just tell that it is raw, pure honesty. That’s why Kurt Cobain will forever be one of my favorite artists. And I also LOVEEE when somebody has a unique voice. Kurt, Justin Bieber, Tracy Chapman... All such unique voices. When I’m creating music, I never feel trapped. If I want to make a more urban song one day, that’s what I’m going to do. If I want to make a more rock song with tons of real bass and electric guitar and real drums, that’s what I’m going to do! I will never feel limited just because people have put me in the pop category. Pop is becoming such a loose genre and I’m a thousand percent here for it baby. WHAT THEMES IN MUSIC DO YOU RESONATE WITH? WHAT ARE THE THEMES IN YOUR MUSIC THAT OTHERS RESONATE WITH? CH: I don’t know what themes I resonate with, really. The themes I write about are constantly going to change because I am always going to be changing/growing. As of lately, some consistent themes I’ve been incorporating in my music is grow-

ing up, love, drugs, being afraid of change... I’m not sure. It’s always different depending on what I feel like or what I’m going through at the time. DO YOU VISUALIZE YOUR SONGS AS YOU WRITE THEM? IS THERE A CERTAIN IMAGE OR EVENT THAT COMES TO MIND IF I WAS TO CHOOSE A SONG LIKE, “BACK IN MY ARMS”? CH: I usually always visualize some kind of imagery or a real event when I’m writing. Back In My Arms was based off my first real relationship. I love to write about things that are true to me. “JUNK” IS YOUR FIRST FULL COLLECTION OF SONGS HOWEVER YOU HAD AN ERA OF SINGLES, HOW DO THESE TWO ERAS EXIST ON THEIR OWN AND HOW DO THEY COME TOGETHER TO MAKE THE ARTIST THAT IS CARLIE HANSON? CH: At the beginning of everything, I was just dropping singles. What I was trying to show with these singles were all the different sides to me. For example, compare my song “Us” with “Only One” or “Why Did You Lie?”, those right there are 3 pop songs, but definitely all different in their own way. Us is so much more rock, Only One is so pop, and WDYL shows off my more rappy side. But with Junk, I stayed in the same world sonically. I fell in love with messing with guitars and throwing them into my songs and it just felt sooo good. I still have a lot more I’d like to experience with sound-wise, but Junk is really a part of who I am as an artist. THE LAST TIME I TALKED TO YOU, SOME STUFF HAD BEEN STOLEN FROM YOUR TRAILER INCLUDING YOUR JOURNAL, HAVE YOU PICKED UP JOURNALING AGAIN SINCE THEN? WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF JOTTING DOWN NOTES, IDEAS, AND EXPERIENCES TO YOU? DO YOU EVER USE IT AS A TOOL TO LOOK BACK AT HOW YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THINGS/PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE?


CH: I loveeee to have a bunch of random notes jotted down, even if they end up having no meaning at all, it will always stay up in my head subconsciously. I always keep a journal with me, I’ll write about my day, or write little poems, or just draw dumb pictures. That’s the kind of stuff I have to get out of my system for some reason, and I love to go back and look at everything. I still have journals from years and years ago that I look at all the time. YOU’RE YOUNG TO BE AT THE POINT YOU ARE IN YOUR MUSIC CAREER, AND YOU’VE BEEN DOING THIS WHOLE “MUSIC THING” FULL TIME FOR WELL OVER A YEAR NOW. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT CARLIE HANSON LAST FALL, WHO DO YOU SEE? HOW HAS THIS LIFE YOU’VE BEEN LIVING SHAPED YOU? CH: When I look back at who I was and what I was doing last year in the fall, I think I was still a little nervous about things like performing or what kind of music I was gonna put out, or what kind of message I want to spread. But now, I have such a strong confidence going onstage (which I thought I’d never have, so that’s pretty f*cking cool) and I have a strong idea of what kind of music I want to keep creating. All around, I have a lot more confidence in a lot of ways than I did a year ago! DO YOU STILL STRIVE TO HAVE THE “TEENAGE EXPERIENCE” IN SOME CAPACITY? CH: Oh, I definitely am still a teenager. I still play video games, eat a lot of junk food, smoke weed, and go to the skatepark. These are all things I did when I was 14, 15, 16.. And I don’t plan on changing this for a while, it’s so fun and relieving. HAS YOUR DEFINITION OF “HOME” CHANGED? CH: I feel like I have two homes now. My home in Wisconsin and my little home here in LA. I really didn’t think LA would ever feel like home, but I’ve made my studio apartment so comfortable and I love it so much. HAS MUSIC BEEN A COMPLETELY POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FOR YOU? CH: Music has always been a completely positive experience for me, and I hope it stays that way until I die!!

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YOSHI FLOWER doesn’t need any validation about his music. One listen to Flower’s latest mixtape Peer Pleasure and you’ll understand that the multi-genre writer and producer is creating eclectic beats and fast-paced music in a league of its own. His music plays with notes of R&B, has the mixing of an electronic artist and the soul of an indie artist. Combine them together and you get the genius that is Yoshi Flower. “I don't know exactly what got me to pursue [music] other than just having a passion for it, so I just kept doing it,” Flower says. “I don't know if it's ever really possible to explain why we do anything, even if we convince ourselves there's some reason that we know, but probably one day I'll know why, but I don't know why really other than I love it a lot.” Since releasing his first mixtape titled American Raver in 2018, Flower has opened for artists like Dua Lipa and collaborates with Quinn XCII and Elohim, who are fans of his fresh approach to music. “I think myself and my music just kind of constantly deal with the goal of liberating [both] myself and my music from just sort of the antique system that we all kind of grow up,” Flower shares.

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Listeners are given a look at how Flower liberates himself in his sophomore mixtape Peer Pleasure, which was released in June 2019. Flower’s latest block of work is referred to as a mixtape because of its quick turnaround. “It's kind of just a really precise snapshot of expression,” Flower clarifies. “There's not some sort of grandiose push behind it — it just is what it is. It's just a quick set of ideas or a quick spurt of creativity.” These mixtapes take between two to three weeks to make and although Flower acknowledges the name ‘mixtape’ can confuse listeners, he emphasizes that they aren’t full albums and simply offer a quick snapshot of his life. “I think it's hard for listeners to be like, 'Well why is this a mixtape?’ And they don't know the entire creative process — the brevity and the approach and the freedom. I'm not saying that there's any inherent lack of depth, but in my mind it's just that I'm just loading up a love gun and taking 10 quick shots.” Peer Pleasure explores themes of comparison and happiness through snappy songs like “coffee” and “validation,” and was inspired by conversations with fans who reached out to him. “We were just discussing how comparison in — no matter what type of art you do or whatever industry you're in, whatever social circumstances you're in — it's just the human element of comparing yourself.” Every song title is a lowercase single word, which Flower explained was “word association with the idea of trying to manifest happiness based on our peers and community standards.” Inspired by the world around him when it comes to writing and making music, he credits his parents, the Internet and his hometown of Detroit as the biggest influences on his music.


“Detroit changed my entire ethos and being in the Midwest, you have to kind of become an ambassador of imagination because it's a very, I wouldn't say flat, but I would say that there's maybe not as much of a dynamic set of options as to what you want to do and who you want to be as you grow up,” the now Los Angeles-based artist reflects. “You're not really presented this grazing table options as when you're in the coast... You have to just be able to sit in front of a canvas, in front of a desert, and be able to close your eyes and paint a paradise. I don't really know how to say it any other way and it's a beautiful place, but you kind of have to use your imagination.” Even his name, Yoshi Flower, came from growing up in the Midwest. Yoshi, a nickname for Joshua, was given to him at a young age as Flower jokes that everyone in the Midwest has his same name. “It's so funny hearing people’s conspiracy theories about it. They're like, 'Yo it's because when Yoshi in Mario eats the flower, he spits hot fire.' And I'm like, 'Yo that's tight, but no it's just my nickname,’” Flower laughs. From strumming a nylon-string classical guitar in his room, where his mom constantly sang along to Celine Dion’s “Because Of You” and listening to Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley on repeat on his iPod, Flower has truly come a long way from his hometown. As he gains notoriety, Flower still has the Midwest spirit and describes himself as “as someone who likes to make other people smile.” At the end ofthe day, he just wants to make people happy with his music. “I just hope that listens have a visible, emotive experience and just get that I'm really carefree, but I'm insecure about it-type-shit. I hope people listen to it and feel something. Feeling something, feeling good, feeling different.”



WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? JUJ: I’ve grown up with a passion for music and couldn’t imagine myself feeling fulfilled in any other work. WHAT WAS GROWING UP IN PHILADELPHIA LIKE? HOW DID IT INFLUENCE/SHAPE YOUR CRAFT? JUJ: It really shaped me as not just an artist but as a person. It gave me the work ethic I need for the business I’m in and the fighter mentality to blaze my trail.

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HOW DID YOU GET CONNECTED WITH CHAMPION AND WHAT HAVE YOU ENJOYED ABOUT THIS PARTNERSHIP? JUJ: I love that the brand Champion also embodies a lot of characteristics I’d say are my brand. The fighter or you could even say “champion” that embodies strength during obstacles in their life.

JUJ: My debut EP was really me in a nutshell. And I’m really proud to present this as my introduction and have people get to know me through this music.



JUJ: I hope people, especially people younger than me and my peers are empowered through my music. I want that little girl in Iowa to fight for whatever lights her soul on fire.

JUJ: Lady Gaga has always been my biggest inspiration. Her theatrical background and her seamless transition into her avant garde pop music has always inspired me along with her passionate vocal delivery.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY? JUJ: The misconception you have to fit in one lane. Make cool shit that you like, don’t alter it to check a box.

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WHAT DOES YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS ENTAIL? JUJ: Immersing myself in whatever I’m most passionate about writing at the moment. Whether it be reminiscing on an emotion of a story I’m retelling through my music or something I’m currently going through. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE SEEKING A CAREER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? JUJ: Keep seeking knowledge. I’ll never know it all and the day I do is the day I stop growing.


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HOROSCOPE I'm a Virgo. 100%. I think anyone who met me would probably guess that my sign is Virgo. FOLLOW RADAR On Insta, @alyssainthecity is one of my favorites — she's a fellow petite gal and I love going to her page for fashion inspiration. I also love @notallgeminis; she makes the best astrology memes. I don't watch too many YouTubers, but Kurtis Conner makes me laugh like no one else can — plus he's a super cool dude too.

CELEB CRUSH It's so hard to pick between Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles, lol. Timothée is such a talented actor, I'm super excited for his new films coming out soon and I love watching his fun personality come through in interviews. Also, I think Timmy is the person I've made drawings of the most and the reason why all the boys I draw have curly hair. And then there's Harry. I don't think this one needs much explanation but I love what he's been doing as a solo artist and his style is amazing. Also, he's Harry Styles.

LOCAL GEM Technically, this isn't that local to me, but one of my favorite spots in LA is Jon & Vinny's on Fairfax. I'll go there when I feel like treating myself. I recommend the spicy fusilli, it's to die for.

ON REPEAT "Ease Your Mind" by Joan "Number One Fan" by MUNA "Lonely Life" by Anna of the North


DREAM DESTINATION I've always wanted to go to London (I blame One Direction for making me want to go to the UK since I was 13). It seems like a cool city and I think that if I liked it enough I could see myself living there for a bit.

it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t understand it,

it’s about the energy and emotions behind it 176