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onfidence has always been something that I’ve read that many people share as their main attribute. As for me, I’m still a work in progress. There are always up and down days, nothing is peachy keen all the time. Finding confidence in yourself is so important, I can’t stress that enough. One of those “go you! you did that!” kind of moments. I feel like everyone has their own way to express their confidence and our cover gem, Bridgit Mendler is no exception. She has so much grace and a hardworking attitude that’s showcase in her work. May is usually finals month for most students before summer break (caffeinated nights with tons of information to memorize, those were the days!) May is also Mental Health Awareness month that I believe we should openly discuss and continue to break down the stigma by educating ourselves about mental health related topics. It’s not a topic I take lightly as I do my best to stay informed and strive to continue to do what I do everyday, it’s a blessing.
founder / editor-in-chief twitter & instagram: @cathrinekhom
Lettering by Leah Lu Illustration by Laura Filas
the orange peel
ISSUE 48 / BRIDGIT MENDLER local wolves magazine is an monthly online and print based publication delving into the most creative minds from the world of entertainment, arts and culture. the magazine is driven by a passion for the best coverage and photography to create an adaptive aesthetic. SAY HELLO / LETâ€™S CHAT general email@example.com press firstname.lastname@example.org get involved email@example.com
founder / editor-in-chief cathrine khom copy editor sophia khom community coordinator erin mcdowell marketing coordinator elizabeth eidanizadeh music curator sena cheung hair / makeup jessie yarborough stylist katie qian social media nicole tillotson web design jesus acosta front cover logo fiona yeung back cover logo isabel ramos cover photo naohmi monroe
alex aiono @alexaiono santa monica, ca
mod sun @modsun bloomington, mn
bridgit mendler @bridgitmendler los angeles, ca
myles loftin @goldenpolaroid new york, ny
clean bandit @cleanbandit london, uk
toni romiti @toniromiti los angeles, ca
diane villadsen @dianewithonen san francisco, ca
design / illustration kelsey cordutsky, christine ennis, laura filas, izzy lamb, lisa lok, leah lu, bethany roesler contributing writers sadie bell, kendall bolam, ashley bulayo, olivia clark, meghan duncan, morgan eckel, maria elena, madisen kuhn, natasa kvesic, hanna la salvia, michelle ledesma, tayllor lemphers, leah lu, chloe luthringshausen, tâ€™keya marquez, mackenzie rafferty, jasmine rodriguez, celeste scott, lauren speight contributing photographers pamela ayala, megan cencula, emily dubin, danielle ernst, amanda harle, katy johnson, taylor krause, chris lampkins, penelope martinez, naohmi monroe, emellia nguyen, bran santos, myrah sarwar, sarah ratner, lhoycel marie teope, ashley yu
ella lentini @ellalentini los angeles / new york fletcher @findingfletcher los angeles / new york luna shadows @lunaxshadows los angeles, ca
website / localwolves.com twitter & instagram / @localwolves read online issuu.com/localwolves print shop magcloud.com/user/localwolvesmag
DESIGN BY LISA LOK
playlist + SPEED ROUND SESSION +
COVERAGE BY SENA CHEUNG ILLUSTRATIONS BY LEAH LU What song would you play at a party? C: I found it hard to decide between either Daft Punk’s “One More Time”, just because it’s a classic dance song which everybody loves, even if you don’t necessarily love dance music. But another favorite of mine is Snoop Dogg’s “Signs”, because even though it is a song that is not as current, everyone remembers it as being awesome. It usually gets people dancing. Our theme for this month’s issue is Confidence. What is a song that makes you feel confident? C: Whenever I am exercising or running, and I need that energy and confidence boost, I tend to listen to MØ’s song “Kamikaze”. It’s a great energetic song that gets me going.
What is a song that you like to chill out to? C: One of my favorite calm pieces of music is by Ólafur Arnalds, an Icelandic composer. He has a song called “Þú ert jörðin”, which means “you are the earth”. It has really beautiful piano and strings. I always get super calm when I listen to it. But I also listen to a lot of gaming soundtracks, like Minecraft, because it’s super chill and minimal. I guess I also get a bit nostalgic when I listen. What is a song by a new artist we need to know? C: A new artist that I’ve fallen completely in love with lately is Julien Baker. I’ve been listening a lot to one of her latest singles called “Funeral Pyre”. That’s what I’ve been into the most lately. It’s easy to get teared up to her music. I’m very much an emo kid at heart, and that’s what I grew up listening to, so this is like a very tasteful version of that.
You’ve done some pretty cool collaborations already with artists like Kehlani. What is a song by your dream collaborator? C: I’ve always thought that I could do something amazing with Vampire Weekend and Ezra Koenig, their lead singer. I really want to produce more rock music, and I’d love to do a full rock album one day. So Vampire Weekend is very high up on my list of dream collaborators. The song I’d choose is “Unbelievers”. It’s a good tune. They don’t seem afraid of using modern production in their stuff. What is your favorite song of your own to play live? C: My latest single “Barely Floating” is by far the most fun to play live, because there’s a lot of energy at the drop. I know my drummer is also having a really good time playing it because it’s really fast, so he gets a lot to do. It’s often really well-received. What is your musical inspiration? C: I’d say it’s a blend between some dance music, especially the French house movement, like Daft Punk, Sebastian, Justice. They’ve all shaped the way I make and produce music. It’s very compressed and French house sounding. I don’t sample other people’s music but I do sample myself a lot, and throw glitches and pieces here and there in my production. That is very much borrowed from those French artists on Ed Bangers Records. But I also grew up playing in punk rock bands, which is where all those emo influences came from. I really like early 2000s pop punk, with simple chord progressions that hit the nerve every time. I try to also use a lot of that. Your background is in rock music, but you create electronic dance music now. If you were to explore into a new genre, what would you pick? C: I’ve grown fond of hip hop in the last few years, and a lot of the beats I’m making now are just hip hop beats. That pretty
much goes hand in hand with a lot of the French house tradition of chopping up samples and keeping it very lucid. I feel like I’ve had a taste of everything up until now. I haven’t really grown that fond of classical music yet, but I actually bought a violin yesterday. I’ve never touched a violin in my life but I think I’m getting a hang of it, so maybe there will be some classical orchestral pieces somewhere down the lane. Take us through the musical process of creating one of your songs. C: I don’t have a specific formula for where I begin. Sometimes I’ll make voice recordings on my phone of just melodies and try to recreate those when I get into the studio. But often I don’t get inspiration before I actually sit down and try to make music. Things just lead to other things. That’s what happens most of the time. I’ll just go around playing piano, guitar, and making drum loops. But another way of making music that I’ve gotten into over the last year is just making super joke-y songs, like a really stupid jazzy loop, and then I’ll sample that. I’ve gotten a pretty extensive library of just very short songs and snippets, all across the map. There’s reggae, jazz, metal, lots of 80s rock music, that I can sample without having to clear it. That’s something I really love doing, just manipulating and stretching samples, and making them sound weird in a modern context. We heard you will have a new album coming out soon! What are some of your goals for 2017? C: I’m working towards dropping my debut album late this year or early next year. I’m going to release new singles every one or two months. I want to try to play more shows in the US this year, and try to reach as many people as possible, leading up to the album. I’ve been really pleased with how the singles have been received so far, with “Loud” last year, and “Barely Floating” now. I’ll have another single coming out in May which I’m super excited about. It’s the song I’m most proud of at this point, and I hope people enjoy it as well.
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munchies + PLATFORM 7 +
Written by Lucy Lau Photography by Gloria Wong
Although Vancouver’s most talked-about coffee shops tend to favour a bare-bones, minimalist aesthetic—all clean lines, white surfaces, and reclaimed-wood accents—PLATFORM 7 bucks the trend with interiors inspired by a 19th-century London train station. With its suspended wroughtiron ceiling, classic railway signage, and collection of vintage luggage sets and antique birdcages strewn artfully throughout, the cozy café regularly serves as a meeting point, afternoon chill spot, and workstation for residents of the city’s HastingsSunrise and Kitsilano ’hoods. As mesmerizing as the design, of course, are Platform 7’s edible offerings: a well-rounded selection of Stumptown coffee; drool-worthy cookies, pies, and muffins; and dramatically prepared pour-overs that are touted as among the best in town.
Locations 2331 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5L 1V6 2300 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6K 2E5
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pinpoint + MIAMI, FL + COVERAGE BY VALERIE CHAPARRO
I don’t blame tourists when they speak of Miami and only associate it with beaches, huge houses with yachts docked in their backyard, nightclubs, and hotels with a view of the ocean, because that’s just what the mainstream media portrays it as. If you look past all of that you’ll find a melting pot of cultures with neighborhoods that reflect each one. It’s a city that many families from the Greater Antilles, South America, and Central America call home, whether in search of better lives or just to be reunited with their family that came before them. When my parents moved to New York City from Colombia 33 years ago, the cold winter drove them out all the way to Miami. Their family began to join them in this tropical oasis, and my parents decided to raise their own children here in the future. At the
time, Miami was almost half as large as it was now. The city is constantly growing, expanding, and attracting people from all over the world with it’s unique qualities. I greatly appreciate that it has a bit of everything; Homestead has seemingly endless plantations, Miami Beach has hints of the city from decades ago along with modern parks, Wynwood comes to life with colorful murals, concerts are always happening, and the food is different everywhere you go. I have so many great memories of driving with my friends to watch the sun rise from the beach, hanging out in parks and fields, going to the movie theaters and museums, and so much more. Whenever I travel I find myself longing to move to another city, but once I come back I really believe there’s no place like home.
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+ BY H A N N A L A S A LV I A +
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+ BY MADISEN KUHN + BANNER + ILLUSTRATIONS BY LAURA SUPNIK
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve found this to be true. When I’m focusing on others, I’m not focusing on myself. I’m seeing what I could be instead of appreciating what I already am. Confidence begins with loving yourself. Seeing all the great things about you that make you, you. Self-improvement can wait. Now is the time to love yourself as you are. Positive affirmations are a powerful tool for helping you believe in yourself and your worth. Just like positive self-talk is used to calm down during an anxiety attack, positive affirmations are excellent for building yourself up during a spell of insecurity. Honestly, affirmations should be used daily to maintain a positive outlook.
I I I I I I I I I I I I I
am capable. am strong. am worthy of love. am beautiful. have so much to be proud of. am smart. work hard. care about others. define my success. am trying. seek good things. deserve to be happy. love myself.
I cannot stress enough the importance of finding confidence from within; from not basing it off attention from others, or temporary gratification, or superficial things. I know how good it feels to get a certain number of likes on an Instagram selfie. There’s a temporary high, you feel seen, but then eventually it fades away, and you’re able to crawl back into the depths of self-critique. Or maybe you’re like me, and you delete photos of yourself shortly after posting them because you’ve found ways to pick yourself apart to the point where that portrait is not a boost of confidence, but rather a source of negativity. We all deal with self-esteem differently. But hear me out. There is a difference between comparison and inspiration. I think it’s healthy and beneficial to find inspiration in the people around you. If you see someone who is happy and confident and full of love, why wouldn’t you want to discover what their secret is? I love looking at other women for motivation to be confident and loving. Seeing others and doing things right makes me want to foster good things in my life.
I wrote a poem a few months ago about the embodiment of a woman that I aspired to be. I took traits from within and traits from girls I respect and admire. Sometimes I read it to remind myself of what I want my confidence to look like. I want it to look like freedom, and self-acceptance, and vibrancy.
emma i love girls with inspired souls that radiate while their heads are in the clouds, spinning around and around and around and— who has time to scan the crowds to see if people are pleased? am i amusing? do they like me? she doesn't ask herself questions like these
Like most things, you define your confidence. It doesn’t have to look like your best friend’s or your favorite artist’s. Maybe you like selfies; maybe you couldn’t care less about them. Maybe you feel the best about yourself when you're productive; maybe your highest form of self-love is spending the morning in bed with snacks and Netflix or a good book. And maybe it all varies because we’re always changing, and change is not a bad thing. There’s just one thing that needs to remain constant, and that is your belief in yourself. You must be your biggest supporter. You must continually remind yourself that you are worthy of good things, that you are a positive force of energy breaking through the fog of pessimism and pain that clouds so much of our lives. You are good, dear friend. You are good. Take care, Madisen
she wears her thick and messy eyebrows with pride and ease rolls out of bed in her apartment in the middle of a bustling city that is full of possibilities, and no guarantees but still, she chases it (it is anything, it is everything) like an old lover that slipped away when she was too young to nurture a romance that, at the time, felt much too cliché and as each day passes by, her dreams barrel into her like a dewy, ethereal mist that illuminates her candid beauty she laughs, and glows, and dances until her feet are sore and, oh god, she is free, and she is everything i hope to be
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+ BY CELESTE SCOTT +
It’s 2017, and odds are if you’re a millennial with a cellphone and a Twitter account you’ve become aware the social issues plaguing our society. It’s quite difficult to ignore instances of injustice occurring across the globe when they’re wedged between memes and Buzzfeed personality quizzes. Thanks to woke Twitter and Instagram, information surrounding politics and world events is extremely visible. Many of us are no strangers to social injustice, more than likely because of personal experience with it. However, others may be engaging in conversations concerning issues of injustice for the first time as a result of this seeming trend of social consciousness on the internet. Often as a person is awakened to such issues, they become extremely passionate about seeking change. However, they may find themselves quite unequipped with the tools needed to turn that passion into advocacy. They want to stand full-heartedly behind these causes they’ve finally become aware of but aren’t quite sure how to do so. If this describes you, there’s no need to fear. Anyone who calls themselves an advocate for social change was once in a position of learning. I’ve created a tool kit of things you’ll need to assist you in becoming the best advocate you can possibly be—a “starter pack” if you will. Inside this tool kit you will find three simple things:
Because you’ll be listening a lot. No matter what intersection of identities you reside at, the stories of others will be the most valuable asset to your growth at this time. Actively listening to the pains and experiences of real people will give you real life reasons to stand for just causes. A part of this activeness means initiating these conversations. More than likely, a friend isn’t just going to tell you about the racism they experienced in the third grade—so it’s up to you to ask. However, it is important
to remember, these are real people who are so much more than their race, sexuality, or gender. So, you’ll want to frame your questions in ways that fully acknowledge their humanity. For example, instead of asking, “Is it hard being the only black person in most of your classes?”, which is a very close-ended question and assumes a certain response, you could say, “I would love to hear about your experiences as a person of color at our school.” The latter affirms the person’s experience, no matter what it may be, and asks for a story, which will be unique from person to person. Make sure to assure your friends, however, that they don’t have to share their experiences with you if they’re not comfortable. Sometimes digging up those experiences can be painful. And even the most kindly-framed questions can come off as microagressive if asked at the wrong time. In some cases, a friend might not be in a place to share certain experiences, because she herself may not have been awakened to her own oppression. As you listen, keep in mind that everyone is at a different place. We’re all still growing, processing, and learning.
Listening, though vital for those of us seeking to step into positions of advocacy, can often turn into silence. It can be comfortable to sit and hear our friends out—even to care for and support them. However, if our listening doesn’t inspire us to speak, then we become a part of the problem. One cannot simply hear the stories of the pain their brother or sister experiences, and yet do nothing to help eradicate it. We cannot call ourselves advocates for social justice if we do not use our voices. And so we must challenge issues of injustice in every space we enter, making no distinction between microand macroaggressions. This might look like challenging a family member’s problematic ideals at Thanksgiving dinner. Or correcting a friend when they unknowingly (or knowingly) use insensitive language. Whether the instance is big or small, we can no longer sit on the sidelines, as harmful rhetoric is perpetuated. Our voices are powerful. And when we use them to amplify the stories that have shaped our justice-oriented passions, change is bound to occur.
Often there is, however, insecurity that comes with using our voices. We may fear that we lack knowledge on a certain issue—that we won’t know what to say or how to say it. The truth of the matter is we’re not always going to get it right. Sometimes we might speak up, and end up saying something entirely wrong. However, the insecurity of not knowing what to say shouldn’t be an excuse to not say anything at all. Fear of failure is useless, because you will fail. We all do! However, you will learn, through diligent engagement in these conversations how to speak more eloquently about issues of injustice. In addition, it is important to be humble during this process. Be willing to accept correction from others as you learn so that one day you may speak on these issues with confidence.
After we’ve listened to stories, and even after we’ve used our voices, our work is still not over. Now, our passion must become the work of our hands. Our advocacy must become activism. If I’m being completely honest, I do a pretty bad job of utilizing this tool myself. Listening, after a while, becomes quite easy. And even speaking out against injustice gives a certain sense of satisfaction in oneself. Active advocacy, however, is inconvenient. It asks that I give up an entire Saturday to walk the streets of downtown LA at a protest or march. Or that I attend a Black Lives Matter meeting on a monthly basis. It gets me out of the listening chair in the comfort of my own home and knocks me off of the soapbox in my classroom or on the Internet. It’s uncomfortable, sweaty, messy, dirty work. But it is absolutely necessary for the change we wish to see to occur. So, what does this look like practically? It means attending marches and events as a means of standing in solidarity with the causes you’ve grown to be passionate about. I’d encourage you during these events to observe your surroundings, to remain completely present. Talk with those around you about their involvement in the movement. Learn from them. And continue to show up at such events. Like I said, this is an aspect of advocacy I am still working on, myself. However, whenever I think of figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Rosa Parks and Malcom X, I am reminded of the great necessity of activism in social justice movements. Our ears must listen, our mouths must speak, but it is the work of our hands that will move mountains.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY LEAH LU
Now that you know what you need there’s nothing stopping you! Take these tools and use them wisely. You won’t always get it right—and that’s okay. Remember that everything you need to fight for justice, you’ve already got inside you. Time and patience will help you develop and direct your passion in effective ways.
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Not trying has always been equated with cool, right? But what if the secret doesn’t necessitate a lack of effort, but really the coolness comes from not trying to follow any set standard of rules or guidelines? In fact, I think trying IS cool. Trying to push the limits of what you would normally pair together—instead of layering a neutral jacket over a patterened dress, why not go for another pattern? I like to think of icons like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie with their garish style circa The Simple Life. They would have had no misgivings to wearing the same shade of baby pink on bottom and on top. A super basic hoodie over a short skirt gives the same feeling of cool, and gives you the space to highlight an accessory like weird dollar store earrings or a scrunchie. The point is: don’t get sucked into trying to look like you aren’t trying, because that’s exhausting. Follow the example of your most gaudy inspiration and try new things. COVERAGE BY MEGHAN DUNCAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE ERNST BANNER BY LAURA FILAS
LOOK 1 thrifted camo jacket uo cooperative gilly bustier gingham romper harajuku furry slides
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LOOK 2 thrifted lacy bodysuit thrifted roxy skort harajuku furry slides thrifted sunglasses
LOOK 3 thrifted royal blue hoodie thrifted dickies mini skirt adidas superstars
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– BEA OYSTER / HONOLULU, HI
– JORDAN GIBSON / ORLANDO, FL
– STARR SMITH / LOS ANGELES, CA
– MCKENZIE MCADAMS / ATLANTA, GA
confidence + WOLFIE SUBMISSIONS +
Confidence doesn't necessarily come from one's physical attributes, or even our successes and accomplishments. Confidence comes from owning who you are, and loving yourself despite your flaws. This months our Wolfies share what confidence means to them and how they portray boldness. CURATED BY ERIN MCDOWELL I used to think of confidence as an armour, a thick and hardened skin that protected you from pain, from disappointment, that allowed you to stride on high head. It used to mean never worrying about your appearances, your fears or others opinions. I've learnt, though, that confidence is much more than that. Confidence can come from being soft. So it's not about never feeling, worrying or doubting, it's embracing all of that and carrying on anyway. Confidence isn't being sure you'll never fail but rather knowing that you're strong enough to try again. – HANNAH FRANKLIN / GLOUCESTESHIRE, UK I thought I lost my confidence when I lost him. I thought everything I had been building finally broke. This may have been true; maybe he did break a part of me. But I’m slowly realizing I can put myself back together. I wasted months doubting myself and everything I did. It was only when I started to fix myself that I started to get over him. And I know someday I’ll be me again. I realized that if you put your own confidence in someone else’s hands you’re bound to lose it, or at least some part of it. – MEGAN DE GUZMAN / DENVER, CO I have always been a girl who has struggled with confidence: the quiet girl, the shy girl, the girl who was lacking a sense of self. I was never comfortable with being different. I was labeled a freak, a weirdo, all because I was interested things my peers weren’t. I have always been into photography and more recently, femininity. As a girl who is Chinese American, I believe that feeling empowered in a community that is not as accepting as the world is so, so, so important, especially in the time period we live in. Having grown up in a heavily white community, being the odd one out is something I’m familiar with. My newly found confidence stems from surrounding myself with people who are unapologetically themselves. Surrounding yourself with the right people (and for me, that’s the right creatives) allows you to thrive. It allows you to be yourself. It allows you to be confident. – VICTORIA MAUNG / HO-HO-KUS, NJ
Being confident – wouldn’t it be wonderful feeling all powerful and brave, like no one is standing in my way? It would, but for me, being confident also means being at peace with myself. So, even on the worst days, I try to applaud and silently whisper to myself – you did well, you are great. Sometimes I’m even rocking the beat and singing a now cliché Beyoncé line “we flawless, ladies tell ‘em,” while still searching for that little spark to start a fire in the heart. But in truth, at the end of the day, I’m full of flaws and that’s just fine. That’s the real magic – trusting and believing in myself whether I’m standing under the bright lights, making my way down the stage or trying to make it out of bed in the morning. Because being vulnerable, but still trying, still growing and changing, still grabbing that confidence behind it’s tail and making it stay, is one hell of a superpower. – SIMONA GRĀVĪTE / RIGA, LATVIA I moved to Brooklyn in May of 2016 after leaving a threeyear relationship and losing some important friends. Most of my life I've been pretty existential, and I've had a hard time finding value in my personal projects and believing in my ideas, and in the past I definitely put more energy and time into my relationships than I did into my own pursuits. Finding the confidence to ~become a person~ without a significant other was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I've always looked for validation in the form of love and attention from other people, but rarely have I looked for it in my own dreams and beliefs. – MEILI CHRISTIANSEN / BROOKLYN, NY Confidence. The unadulterated ability to honestly accept who you are; a concept so foreign that the word itself has become almost extinct. True confidence starts (but doesn’t end) at selfempowerment and the ability to acknowledge that if I’m going to achieve anything, I need to believe that I can. When I was a child, I beamed with unapologetic confidence. In my early teen years, I wanted nothing more than to blend in. Now, I portray my passion for believing in myself through creativity and little by little, I can feel myself filling up with that same confidence I felt before. – Indie Labbe-Jones / Coventry, UK
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I became a photographer because I didn’t do well with words and I knew that I could use photos to articulate my thoughts and feelings. Being able to share what I’ve created through my weaknesses make me feel confident and empowered. So, although my less than perfect communication skills can get in the way, my photos enable me to accept my flaws and turn them into something positive. The sensation of transforming self-doubt into self-assurance is exhilarating. When I take a photo, I’m no longer thinking about what I can’t do, because now, I’m focusing on what I have done. – ALYCEE BYRD / GREENSBORO, NC (PHOTO BELOW)
As a kid, and even until recently, I struggled a lot with my sexuality. When I was just a little girl, I would look at girls the same way other girls looked at boys, and I never really saw an "issue" with it until I got older. I discovered what it meant to be attracted to the same sex. The word "gay" meant a lot of negative things to the people I associated myself with. Being gay meant that you weren't normal. I’ve always wanted to just be normal. I just wanted to fit in, so I did everything I possibly could to try and fit in. I would do all of the things my friends were doing, like all the boys they liked, all of that. It got really hard for me to do after a while. I thought that maybe I could just hide who I was, but that only made things worse. I realized later on that being gay is a beautiful thing. I started to accept myself, and eventually came out. I've never felt better about myself. No matter who you are, you have the right to love who you love, with no limits or restrictions. – ALEXIS TRIESH / HAGERSTOWN, MD (PHOTO ABOVE)
– JOSEPHINE ELLEN / NEW YORK, NY
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– MARIERY YOUNG / PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
– ELEONORA AROSIO / AMSTERDAM
When photographing someone for the first time, I often find that the subject starts off as very unsure of themselves. But as the shoot goes on and the subject looks through the photos, they see themselves in a different light. By the end, any uncertainty that they had is long gone, and in its place is a newfound confidence that exudes from their very being. The beauty of portrait photography is having the privilege of witnessing this transformation right before your very eyes. – SHELBY SHIKASHIO / SAN JOSE, CA (PHOTO BELOW)
Confidence to me is just being exactly who you are and truly embracing the beautiful person that you are... I love people, and I think my work shows that. I think the way I communicate with the people I shoot with makes them feel comfortable in their own skin and confident... and each shoot turns out better than we both ever expected. – TAYLOR JARVIS / CHARLESTON, SC (PHOTO ABOVE)
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coachella + INDIO, CA + COVERAGE BY BRYAN FERNANDEZ After two weekends of partying day and night, I reached out on Instagram to ask festival goers about their Coachella experiences. This is what they had to say:
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"List of things I loved about Coachella: the people, the music, the vibe, and you can't forget the food! Attending for the first time, I wasn't sure what to expect. The extent of my Coachella knowledge ended at seeing bloggers post their outfits all weekend long and hearing complaints about the desert heat. I was actually pleasantly surprised, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My favorite set was definitely The XX, who I have been listening to for probably 7 years now. Their music moved me to (happy) tears, I couldn't believe I was fulfilling my teen lifelong dream to see one of my favorite bands, and I clearly could not contain the happiness. Speaking of things that made me happy, there was a decent variety of food. All three days we indulged in everything from Pad Thai to barbecue, and Korean food to pizza. Being over 21 finally came in handy as there were beer gardens with exclusive food offerings in them, and we had pizza from the Spicy Pie booth— this place has been at almost every festival I have been to, and I had yet to try it! Verdict was: a solid 5 stars, the best festival pizza we've had. You can't forget about the iconic Ferris wheel, we had to do it despite being a $20 ride, no regrets there. Although the festival
itself was enjoyable, spending my weekend with some of my most favorite people was definitely the best part of Coachella. Long story short, I'm already getting ready for next year.” – TANYA OLIVAREZ, @TK.OLI "I've only been to Coachella two times, 2016 and this year. It was and still is a paradise for music lovers. All of your favorite artist, three-days, sun up till sun down, all in one place. This year's lineup was so diverse from headliners: Radiohead to Lady Gaga to Kendrick Lamar to Justine but the real headliners would be our loved ones." – STEVE HSING, @TWIL_O "This year was my first Coachella and overall, it was a great experience. I thought that the second weekend wouldn't be that great but I was definitely proven wrong. Everyone was really nice and was wishing each other a happy Coachella. Some guy even let me go on his shoulders to get better view at Gucci Mane’s set so that was definitely an experience itself. My favorite set, however, was Lil Uzi Vert. The energy was great and he even pushed through the crowd a few times to greet his fans. Overall, it was a surreal
experience seeing so many talented artists in such a short time span and I can't wait to be back next year." – ART MEDINA, @ARTMEDINA “I drove 7 hours from Sacramento on the Friday morning of Coachella. This was my fourth time attending the festival and although lots of things have changed throughout the years, I had a blast. Finally seeing Justice and dancing my a** off is something I will never forget.” – JAC OBEID, @ QUINOAWES.T “Coachella is always nice, if you like the heat and a wide range of musical acts. I happen to enjoy both of those things. Couldn’t do it without the beer, though.” – WESLEY WHEELER, @WESLEH “No matter how big the crowds are or how much of a mission it is to get there, it’s always worth it. There’s no such thing as a bad day at Coachella.” – SAVANNAH ROPER, @VANNALAYNE “Lemme think of a cute way to put ‘I was intoxicated and covered in glitter for three days straight.” – JOHN FRANKLIN, @PRETTYANDBORED
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“I love the incorporation of art and music that this festival brings. The giant vibrant sculptures were not only amazing to look at, but they served as a meeting place, a backdrop, and a place to get away from the scorching desert sun. Although I missed the giant balloons this year, we witnessed what I like to believe was an aerial show right before sunset.” – BRYAN FERNANDEZ, @FDZ.BRYAN “Whenever someone thinks of music festivals, Coachella is usually one of the first to come to mind. It’s no shock that when listing all the festivals I’ve been to the questions of why and how I haven’t been to the infamous Coachella arise. After years of contemplation and finally turning 21, I decided it was time to take the plunge. The lineup wasn’t too shabby and some of my favorite people were accompanying me on my journey to what is known as the ‘best’ festival around. I had a great time, don’t get me wrong. But all the talk about Coachella led me to have expectations that weren’t met and made me realize that it didn’t matter what music festival I was at, but who I was with. My favorite
part about Coachella was driving 6 hours with two of my closest friends and making new friends upon arrival. From paying $15 for a margarita, singing along to The XX, and walking back to our car with aching feet and legs, I wouldn’t trade my Coachella experience for any other.” – ALEXIS SANDOVAL, @PASSIONFRUTAA “My Coachella weekend consisted of missing a lot of my favorite acts to go day drink at pre-parties with D-list celebrities. I have to say, by far my favorite act was Migos. They made the performance extremely intimate by only performing for a small crowd and only at stage ( just kidding). We saw them like 4 times in a matter of 2 hours.” – MAISEY CAMPUZANO, @MAISEYMOUSE “There was a moment during Bon Iver’s set when audience members were instructed to tilt our heads back and observe the night sky. As I focused my gaze on the stars, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the entire situation. I was swaying in unison amongst a crowd of strangers in the middle of the desert, listening to one of my favorite
artists play live—I don’t think there are adequate words to describe the serenity of it, especially in the midst of such a whirlwind of a weekend. This was a performance I had contemplated skipping because my friends all wanted to see someone else, but going alone and experiencing that bliss in solitude almost made it that much more special.” – PAIGE PALLEVA, @PAIGEPALLEVA “Coachella is one of the best weekends of the year. There’s no better place to spend time with friends, old and new.” – RHETT WELLINGTON, @ RHETTWELLINGTON “While at the Do-Lab, we met a guy who was having a bad trip. We talked to him for a bit until he stopped crying, then we called his friends from my phone. He lives in LA and owes me a free haircut.” – DYLAN DEVANEY, @FUTURE.DYLF “The hype was real. Never again.” – KARLA TORRECILLAS, @KARLA. TORTILLA
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fletcher WRITTEN BY Tayllor Lemphers / photography by Ashley Yu / hair BY patrick kyle makeup by ERIC VOSBURG / STYLING BY HANNA ISAKSSON
It is rare to find something that is truly one-dimensional. Though media, stigmas and stereotypes may pervade our minds and paint a picture of flat characters and issues, the reality is that life is filled with many people, cultures and ideas that are three dimensional and multifaceted, often in seemingly opposing ways. These paradoxes of life are meant to stretch our minds and challenge us. Afterall, how could something feasibly be two apparent contradictions? Rising musician FLETCHER, who is taking the music industry by a storm, demonstrates how as an artist and person, she is one such paradox. Beautiful and bad*ss, strong and humble, Fletcher spits fire through her lyrics, yet does so with a tenderness that is disarming. She lives with intention that inspires women and all those seeking to grow into themselves. It’s no surprise the single that catapulted her into the music scene was called “War Paint,” as this woman is charging into pop culture as someone who models what it means to be the truest version of herself, and is an advocate for others to discover their own varying and authentic dimensions. Fletcher’s journey as a musician started way before the streams of her song reached numbers in the millions. She had an early start, taking vocal coaching when she was just five years old, and taking lessons for “practically every instrument.” In the midst of her diverse exposure to music, it was singing that stuck with her in the long run. She indulged her affinity for singing through a heavy involvement in theatre as she grew up — to which she admits, “yes, I was totally Sandy in Grease” — and she began to write her own lyrics when she was fourteen. “I really fell in love with songwriting as an art form and as the best way to express myself and to share my emotions,” explained Fletcher. Not only did Fletcher actively pursue her art growing up, but she had the help of the digital music giant, Spotify, to help kickstart her career. While there have been some mixed reviews from
artists about Spotify’s effect on the music industry, Fletcher is a vocal advocate for the company. “I am so grateful to be able to work closely with [Spotify and other platforms] on exciting initiatives and collaborations,” Fletcher expressed. “Since the release of my debut single “War Paint,” Spotify specifically has really given me a voice, providing me with the opportunity to successfully release my Finding Fletcher EP without having to rely on a major label.” Spotify named her as a spotlight act in 2016 following the success of her viral breakout track, “War Paint.” Fletcher explained that platforms like Spotify, Vevo, Apple Music and Musical.ly are allowing artists to share their music directly with their fans in a prominent and personal way. “Considering the fast-changing music discovery behaviors of today, it is is one of the most exciting times right now to be an independent artist.” These certainly are exciting times for Fletcher; she has been featured in V Magazine as "pop's next breakout act," in TIME's "Musicians to Watch for 2017" and in Entertainment Weekly in "Breaking Big in 2017." She has over 1 million playlists of support and over 50 million streams to date. It’s staggering, considering this has all happened within two years. For her, this entire experience has been surreal. “I remember the morning I woke up and saw that "War Paint" had surpassed 1 million streams,” reflects Fletcher. “Never did I think I would have over 50 million streams on my music.” And it would seem that, in spite of the rush of fame, she hasn’t let it get to her head. “It’s very humbling when you start to realize how your hard work is being recognized, and your passion is resonating with others,” shares Fletcher. “As artists we shouldn’t seek out validation, but when we do receive it — it is very powerful. Every time I’m included on an ‘Artist to Watch’ list alongside my favorite acts, or on a playlist alongside my favorite songs, I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m challenged, I’m humbled, I’m inspired. I’m ready to keep going.”
As all of this dramatic change is ensuing, one of the most surreal parts of her experience has been spending more and more time in LA. “I’ve always wanted to live in LA,” Fletcher recounts. “I’ve had this insane image of what it would be like to live in Los Angeles writing songs during the day and performing at night.” The artist is currently splitting her time between New York and LA, a serious shift for her. “It’s been really cool collaborating with some of the most talented up and coming creatives,” she raves about the opportunities living in LA affords. “I’m really excited by the music I’m creating out here. I’m in a good headspace.” As she has entered the fast-paced world of the music industry, Fletcher has used her now prominent voice to speak empowering messages to her audience. You don’t have to look too far to find that her heart beats for women to own their strength and their beauty. Her track “Princess” serves as a powerful, inspirational ballad for women, and she shared that it was the most personal song on her most recent EP, Finding Fletcher. “I wrote it during a time when several people in my life were going through very trying times and I was going through a lot myself,” Fletcher explained. “A friend of mine came out to her parents and was kicked out immediately, having to spend nights on my couch; another friend almost lost her battle to
bulimia; and another who was questioning their gender identity was abandoned by their family who masked their hatred behind ‘religious beliefs.’” Fletcher felt it was not only a song that she needed at the time; it was echoing the cries of those she loved as well. “We need to remind ourselves that pain, vulnerability and strength are human. It’s a song about holding your head high and embracing all of the hard sh*t life throws your way because it builds character and we come out the other side as stronger individuals.” This zeal for female empowerment is not a recent development for Fletcher; it has been nurtured within since her early childhood. Fletcher shared that it has only grown stronger with each passing year since she was a little girl. “Ever since I was young, my mom has always instilled in me to think outside the box, to know that a dream is never too big,” Fletcher shared. “My mom is the strongest woman I know. She's the most emotionally intelligent, powerful and independent person that I know.” With her mom as an inspiration, Fletcher received a holistic and empowering view on being a woman. “Women are beautiful and bad*ss — and I’m so fortunate that I learned early on that my voice matters. Because now I can use my voice through my music and my platform to encourage and inspire others.”
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One of the most refreshing things about Fletcher’s boldness and vocal presence is that she is not only focused on what matters to her, but what she has found matters to others. Even when we asked, what would you tell your twelve-year old self if you could, her answer reflects a balanced sense of confidence and selflessness. “I would tell 12 year old little Fletch not to worry so much, to stop putting so much pressure on herself and worrying what other people think about her,” shared Fletcher. “It's okay to not have the answers to everything, because you live life as you go and you learn. Life is ugly and tough sometimes but life is also so beautiful. Every experience that you go through is going to make you such a special individual. Your one goal since you were little was that if you could just change one person’s life in this world, you will leave it a better place. And you’ll do that, a thousand times over. Your words and your message will make a lot of people happy, but most importantly it will make you happy. And at the end of the day, that is all that really matters.” It’s evident that Fletcher doesn’t only care to speak to women, but that she has such a people-oriented heart in general. On her Instagram account, she has featured posts regarding Instagram Kindness Day and Giving Tuesday, which she shares are part of her overall intention as a person and an artist. “I think just spreading the message of empowerment, self love and acceptance through my songwriting is a way I attempt to positively impact the world,” says Fletcher. “The more people are encouraged to spread love and kindness and asked to do so, I think the more people will begin to on their own.” She feels incredibly fortunate for what she has received, and desires to pass her good fortune on.
“it’s rea lly impo rta nt fo r m e to g ive ba ck to peop l e, as i a m so g r a teful fo r eve ry th ing tha t i've b een give n a nd tha t i’ve b een afforded t he o ppo rtu ni ty to e arn.”
Fletcher notes that her EP, Finding Fletcher, as the title indicates, is all about self exploration and discovery. “It was a very introspective record for me and I learned so much about myself through the process of writing it and producing it with my collaborator, Jamie Kenney.” As a result of her own learnings, she wanted to encourage others to embark on a similar journey. “I want to encourage my listeners to go on their own self discovery journey and to not be afraid, now or ever.” With a visceral desire to inspire others, we were curious as to who inspired Fletcher artistically. “I grew up listening to the big voices like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Etta James,” Fletcher reminisced. “I used to memorize their songs riff for riff when I was a kid singing them back to my family using the ledge of the bathtub as my stage.” Her current musical inspirations include the likes of Lorde, Troye Sivan, Halsey, MUNA and “my exceptionally talented friends” Maggie Rogers and The Aces. “Artists that have a voice, and use it to make the world a better place with their words, and who express such distinct artistry are my favorite kinds of artists.” As far as what she has on repeat currently, Billie Eilish's "Bellyache," Astrid S’s "Breathe," Halsey’s “Now or Never” and Sigrid's "Don't Kill My Vibe” are her top tracks, to which she stated “girl power emoji.” As Fletcher continues to explode onto the music scene, what’s her next move? She is currently promoting the last single from her EP, “Wasted Youth.” The release of that video, which reached 100k+ views in less than an hour, served as a breakthrough for Fletcher both personally and professionally. “The new music starts off where that song left off,” explained Fletcher. “Whereas my first body of work was empowering and anthemic, I think this next project will be more honest and confessional. Kids don’t want to be told how to feel, they want to just feel. I hope that I’m able to provide an outlet for them.” In the last three months, Fletcher has found herself in the studio, writing what she cites to be some of the best she’s ever written. “Some of the topics I explore are heartbreak, betrayal, the fear of being irrelevant, learning to trust again and learning to love yourself over and over again until you listen.” With bold and honest lyrics paired with a heart of gold, Fletcher is resonating with the lives of those who hunger to discover their own complex, even seemingly paradoxical identities, giving them to encouragement they need to live that out even in the face of fear.
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clean bandit WRITTEN BY sadie bell PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOYCE LEE
When the British electronic group CLEAN BANDIT first heard Jess Glynne singing the vocals over the luminous strings and sparkling percussion of what would become their international hit, “Rather Be” the band knew they had created something special. “She just made it pop. [Her vocals] suddenly brought life to it,” said percussionist Luke Patterson. “I don’t think we thought that it was a hit – it just sounded like a good piece of music.” That is the artistry of Clean Bandit; band members Grace Chatto, Jack Patterson, and Luke Patterson fiercely work to create electronic tracks unlike sounds ever heard before, fusing symphonic elements with contagiously catchy beats. Though Clean Bandit has certainly made their home sitting at the top of the popular music charts with infectious tracks like “Rockabye” (feat. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie) and “Symphony” (feat. Zara Larsson), it has been a dedicated, upward trek for the band to reach that number one spot since first joining forces back in 2008 when studying together at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. With the band’s success in recent years, their ability to continuously create innovative tracks, and a sophomore album on the horizon, it seems that though now is nearly ten years since their fruition, it is still only just the beginning for what is to come for the U.K.’s brightest electronic collective. Patterson said, “I think that we started off as a very kind of small contemporary [project] playing pubs and it’s amazing to see where it’s come. We’re playing around the world. It’s incredible.”
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“ w e j u st try to g o w it h t he s o unds t hat w e like an d we thi n k sou nd co o l and lend t hem s elves wel l to the other part s and t hen s t ring pa rts we have w rit t en o urs elves .”
Today, Clean Bandit gets connected to some of the biggest names in pop music in order to tie together their tracks with melodic, memorable vocals – a goal which seemed out of reach when first starting out, having to find vocalists through mutual friends or simply bumping into potential collaborators in passing. With Clean Bandit’s original sound, though, one that transcends the magnificence of an orchestra and engages with the exuberance of the dance floor, it is inevitable that they would get to collaborate with the names that they do. “I think that is one of the most interesting things about electronic music, that it’s an ever-changing sound,” he said. “We just try to go with the sounds that we like and we think sound cool and lend themselves well to the other parts and then string parts we have written ourselves. I think we try to make as much original music that we can, just explore different sounds really.” “We try to create a sound like a whole orchestra,” Patterson said, explaining the band’s crafted recording process and rich layered use of violin and cello in their music. While elements of the band members’ classical training can be heard in their music, the tenacity of their DIY ideology from their university days still seems to hold true in the way they work, even as they have made their way onto a major label. Patterson said, “I think because we’ve always wanted to have as much creative control as we could, the project started off with no limits to that. We would say, ‘We’re going to film a music video and actually love doing it,’ and work as hard as we can to try to finish it and make something,” he said, explaining the “satisfying process” of creatively virtually anything for the band, be it a piece of music or a video. “It would be a shame just not to do that.”
As the band puts the finishing touches on their sophomore album, which will follow up 2014’s New Eyes, Clean Bandit is keeping this artistic strategy in mind, hoping to continue to ride out their well-deserved, aforementioned success. Their upcoming release, which Patterson said will incorporate “all sorts of dance music,” is set to diverge from their last LP and illustrate where the group of creatives is going next. Patterson said, “A lot of the tracks actually move between different fields – house music, some other kind of more dance hall based tracks like “Rockabye.’’ I think this time around it will actually feel a lot more like an album. The first album that we did was more so just a collection of songs that we had because we weren’t at that time trying to set out to make an album, but now we’ve gone into it wanting to write a solid piece of work and the tracks lend themselves to each other a bit more. It feels a bit more coherent.” Clean Bandit doesn’t consider slowing down anytime soon – in fact, their goals continue to become increasingly ambitious. In September 2014, the band performed their song “Rather Be” with the BCC Philharmonic Orchestra, and now, Patterson said, “That would be such an amazing experience to do that again, to arrange a whole album for an orchestra and get to play it with them. That would be great.” Imagining Clean Bandit and their various vocalists beside the grandiose layers of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion of the orchestra almost feels like a premonition – these goals don’t feel outlandish for the burgeoning electronic sensation, they feel just within reach.
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written by Olivia Clark PHOTOGRAPHy by Sabrina Santiago
Last month on Instagram, MYLES LOFTIN posted two photographs: his first ever self portrait from 2013 and one from his most recent photoshoot. In the past four years, Loftin has accomplished a lot. His experiments with film and digital photography have led him to shoot for Urban Outfitters, Rookie Mag and The Fader. Most recently, he’s received critical acclaim for his project HOODED, a multimedia series that aims to break black stereotypes. At only 19-years-old, this is truly just the beginning for this New York-based photographer. Currently studying Photography at Parsons School of Design, Loftin describes his aesthetic as “vibrant, youthful and expressive” and focuses on “capturing intimately unique moments.” As a young black minority artist, Loftin primarily highlights other people of color to celebrate and create opportunities for others “to gain recognition and access in the art world through social activism and community outreach.” While he was always pursuing art as activism, Loftin’s most recent project HOODED is his most political yet. “The idea for HOODED stemmed from a tweet that I saw which compared the Google search results for ‘four black teenagers’ and ‘four white teenagers,’” Loftin explains. “From there, I wrote a note in my journal about wanting to execute a project that dealt with that and the subject of black males in a hoodie.” The “thugs-wear-hoodies” stereotype has been in place in much of America’s minds for decades, but an even bigger discussion since the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Loftin decided to challenge this stigma through art because “it’s a universal language, and it can communicate a message that connects a lot of different kinds of people.”
For HOODED, Loftin stepped away from his usual photography comfort zone to create a film full of bright colors juxtaposed by a newscast voiceover and George Zimmerman’s police call reporting Martin who looked “up to no good” in his “dark hoodie.” Then screen goes dark and “when will we stop being targets?” flashes on the screen. Piano begins to play over a montage of Loftin and his friends in colorful hoodies as the video takes a turn towards the positive. The rest of the video is narrated by a poem by Leo Sherman about being a young black male. “I felt that I couldn’t fully communicate what I wanted to say through just the use of photographs,” Loftin says. “The project needed an extra layer, and that’s where the screenshots and short film came in. They solidified the message, and brought the project full circle.” And his message definitely resonated. The response to HOODED has been overwhelming positive, says Loftin, and “a lot more than I expected.” “Black male” and “black boy” are two phrases repeated over in Loftin’s film. You may have noticed, especially after Moonlight won Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, the hashtag #BlackBoyJoy circulating around the internet. “To me, black boy joy means being comfortable with being 100% true to yourself amid all the harmful preconceptions of what a black boy should be,” explains Loftin. This mindset is clearly visible in all of Loftin’s work; his photographs celebrate the beauty in everyone. As he moves forward with his career, Loftin hopes to shoot more fashion editorials while continuing to make politically conscious art. He also has ideas to establish a program to educate young artists about making art and working in the creative industry. As far as upcoming projects, be on the lookout for the upcoming projects Loftin has in the works.
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luna shadows WRITTEN BY Mackenzie Rafferty PHOTOGRAPHY BY Larsen Sotelo
“Going to the beach or the park, exploring LA, eating tacos, reading Harry Potter, playing Star Wars on PS4,” are just some of the super ordinary interests of utterly non-ordinary LUNA SHADOWS. Artists, they’re just like us, eh? Seriously, though, Luna Shadows is more than an ordinary LA girl, her EP Summertime reached over 4 million streams on Spotify and made its way to playlists including New Music Friday, Indie Pop, and Weekend Beats. Despite growing up in New York, Luna now calls Los Angeles her home; “I did most of my growing up here anyway… Los Angeles is absolutely responsible for so much of my artistic growth.” This growth was spawned from her ability to reach collaborators for both her music and visual compliments in LA. It offered more to Luna than these connections, it acted as a constant source of inspiration through its beautiful weather, culture, and of course, tacos. Luna noted, “LA is a place that helped me find my authenticity; it has given me the freedom to explore who I am through my art, through my collaborators, and through an environment which is constructive to creativity.” She noted that there’s a common stereotype that artists move to LA to create and only find themselves lost in the noise— Luna’s LA story, however, completely rejects that stereotype. Writing her first instrumental song on piano at age nine, Luna has always been driven towards music and sound. Her first fulllength song was written around the age 16 as an emotional release from her first heartbreak. Luna has always been driven to performing, pulled by the terrifying, yet exhilarating thrill of the experience. The thrill of performing challenges her daily, as she continues to work on being comfortable on stage. “I’m fiercely competitive, so the idea that something would be nearly impossible to me was probably what made me want to do it. I was drawn to making art for the same reason that people take pictures of the sunsets; they see something beautiful and they want to keep it and make it their own.” With her inspiring outlook and competitive drive, virtually nothing is impossible for Luna.
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“ ge t ting to t he end o f a n a r ti s ti c c r ea ti o n i s l i ke pu tting the la st piec e i n a 10000-p i ec e p uz z l e.”
Having studied various music styles (classical jazz, musical theatre, pop, rock, singer/songwriter, folk, and alternative), she spent years discovering her own sound. She detailed her style as folk/storytelling lyrics with pop melodies, and rock/ electronic soundscapes. This eclectic combination of styles birthed a completely distinctive sound that’s haunting, upbeat, and highly lyrical. This sound was not easy for Luna to discover, “finding my sound and my voice was the biggest challenge of my whole life— it’s strange that you actually have to work very hard to fully become yourself.” For years, she added, she wrote songs that didn’t reflect the feelings and emotions she held inside— the main goal for her music was to reflect her unique perspective and experience of the world. For Luna, this is a juxtaposition of light and dark; “I might make an upbeat dance song, but the chords or lyrics tend to be more melancholy. This is how I see myself.” Art, music in more specifically, helped Luna on this journey of self-discovery. She added her belief that we’re all under the impression that you’re born knowing who you are, yet art taught her that you need to fight to learn yourself and keep this image reinforced. It is with music that she discovered not only her artistic style, but her self-image and perspective in the world. Her song and short film, “Cheerleader” is equally as inspired as her imagery of self-reflection and discovery. The inspiration behind the song was drawn from her fascination of the moon. This celestial figure constantly inspires Luna. She noted, “the general perception of the moon is that it’s soft, elegant, and harmlessly floating through space.” Meanwhile, she added, the moon really steals light from the sun to illuminate the night sky and also control the tides so subtly from such a far distance. This moving image of the moon is reflected in both the song and short film, “Cheerleader.” The message behind the song is that power hides in unexpected places— you don’t have to be overwhelming and obvious to be a powerful force of nature. Further, she added, you might not even notice a powerful force if you weren’t explicitly looking for it. The short film used vari-
ous metaphorical and symbolic images to help represent this idea. She hoped that the film would inspire various questions: “can you be soft but sharp, vulnerable but powerful… feminine but dominant.” When reflecting on her music career thus far, she noted that Spotify really changed her life. When her song “Hallelujah California” was added to their New Music Friday last March, she was a budding artist with no label or funding. Despite her lack of contacts and label, her song was put next to The 1975 and hit roughly 300,000 plays overnight. Since, her EP has been streamed more than 4 million times. “The exposure that these platforms provide, especially Spotify, makes it so that a person like me, who recorded my vocals in a closet and the rest of my EP on a laptop in Echo Park, can have just as much of a chance at being heard as massive popstar.” This technology is game-changer, and is really altering the dynamics of the music industry and possibilities for indie artists. Ultimately, music has offered so much to Luna throughout her life. Writing and performing have offered her the opportunity to organize and express the emotions that cause her grief. To her, music is a constructive outlet of expression— “taking the things with which I cannot explain or understand, then giving those feelings structure and organization somehow takes the weight off.” Luna noted that writing isn’t always this rose-tinted experience of expression. She admitted that creating a song can be an extremely frustrating experience until you reach the point inside of you where you finally are expressing what needs to come out. “Getting to the end of an artistic creation is like putting the last piece in a 10,000-piece puzzle.” It isn’t always easy, but once you push through the pain and release, things fall in order and everything begins to make sense. Luna’s music is inspired by her completely unique and unabashed approach to life. Utterly individual and distinctive, Luna’s imagery and personal experience in this world transcends into her music to create an awe-inspiring sensory experience. Her haunting imagery juxtaposed against her pop melodies, offers a fresh and exciting sound to the music industry.
ella lentini WRITTEN BY Morgan Eckel PHOTOGRAPHY BY Myrah Sarwar
Behind that spunky style, perfect bob, and lion tattoo on her shoulder, you can find loud and proud NYC native, ELLA LENTINI. As an actress, writer, director, and co-founder of The Riot Life, Lentini is on a mission to create something powerful— and she is far exceeding it. Born and bred in New York City, Lentini contributes a lot of her creativity to her beloved home. “I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t grow up in New York City. It made me tough, precocious, fearless, and really look for the rare quiet moments that make life extraordinary. You see a lot on those streets, and you learn a lot too. I rode the train every day to school, wondering what each person’s story was. People fascinate me and New York City is the perfect place to observe. Even looking at the skyline, you can feel a pulse… Everywhere you go, there’s an electrifying rhythm… The chatter of daily commuters… The rat-ta-tat of the talented, undiscovered subway drummer, the tap of point shoes at Juilliard, the honking of impatient taxis or the click-clack of horses in Central Park. Everything is alive. And that indescribable feeling the city gives is what made me learn empathy and nostalgia and cinema." "The city made me believe anything was possible and gave me
diverse experiences and humanity. I think artists, storytellers in particular, need to live, you have to connect to other humans and the world on a larger scale. The city innately gave me that gift.” Her love for film started early, and it’s only escalated over the years. “After watching Pretty Woman when I was six, I pretended to be Viv for weeks, my sister finally told me that Julia Roberts wasn’t a lady of the night but an actress— my first thought was “What, you mean I could be anyone and everyone for a job?” That day I knew what I would spend the rest of my life doing. It wasn’t even that I loved being different characters, it felt like it was in my DNA.” Growing up in a home that struggled with addiction and abuse, film acted as an escape for Lentini. “I guess because my childhood was very tumultuous, the idea of being anyone else besides me was not only a relief but how I survived. I want to be an open book about this because it hugely defined how I saw the world and people. If I could help any other kid going through the same thing with my story, I feel it’s my responsibility to.”
Lentini grew up in public schools and after graduating high school, went off to attend New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study for photography and creative writing having received a full scholarship. “Both of my parents are immigrants and my siblings and I were first generation to receive a higher education. At NYU I integrated my love for creative writing, film and activism by creating my own concentration, ‘screenwriting as a weapon’. I truly believe stories are some of the most powerful weapons. They connect us, give a voice to the voiceless and communicate something you can’t teach in a textbook. While getting my B.A. I continued to study acting at a studio in Hell’s Kitchen.”
Piece of Cake, Lentini’s LGBT film, has already won two awards and screened at film festivals around the world. As Lentini’s first directorial debut, she is incredibly proud and humbled to share it with the world. “I hope after people see it, or saw it, they feel less alone. Struggling with identity issues is a battle, and selfacceptance is one of the hardest things."
I know it took me a long ass time to 100% accept many aspects of my identity. But when you own who you are, and live your truth, there is no better feeling. There’ll always be people who won’t understand, or be accepting, but there will also always be people who do. Just remember, you are not alone. I can’t help but see the world through stories… or a camera lens. Everything is an opportunity for cinematic realism – full of specificity and emotion.” After co-founding The Riot Life in 2016 with her best friend from NYU, R.W. Reinhardt, they’ve both stayed true to themselves by embracing their own motto,
“ l i ve fr ee. l o ve e n d l es s l y. s ta y w ei r d .”
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“i t r uly believe s to r i es a r e s o me o f th e mo s t powerful wea po ns. th ey c o nnec t us , gi ve a vo i c e to the vo iceless a nd c o mmuni c a te s o meth i ng yo u ca n’t tea c h i n a textb o o k.”
“We’re both artists and writers who love film, music and fashion as a form of storytelling and creating community. The Riot Life is a lifestyle brand and artist’s collective for renegade souls who collaborate on film, music and fashion. I mainly oversee the film area because my main focus is creating more femaledriven stories and LGBT characters in film and television. Honestly starting The Riot Life was one of the scariest and rewarding endeavors. Most of the time we’re working 16 hour days and because we always want to make projects that have a social impact, we’re also donating a lot to non-profits. It can be a challenge to grow without a lot of financial backing, but people have really been responding to the brand’s message so we’re grateful to have a lot of excitement around it. I read once, “Activism is our rent for living on this planet.” And I know the work we’re doing now will pay ten-fold in the future. You can’t always let money dictate what you do. We just want to make dope art, so as long as we are able to continue to do that, we will.” With a few exciting projects in the works for The Riot Life, they’re also releasing their own dramedy web series, #RIOTGIRL, a web series featuring “bad*ss female collaborators”. "This is a really special project for me, personally, because I want to inspire girls to break barriers. As a little girl I wished
I was a boy, not because I physically wanted to be a boy but because I hated being what I was told to be as a girl. I’m hoping the #RIOTGIRL series will speak to those little girls all over who feel the same way. We also have two short films, GIRL GANG and CHASING UNICORNS that will be released this spring/summer, and a couple of fashion collaborations in the pipeline.” And when Lentini’s not busy taking over the world? “Auditioning. That’s a majority of any actor’s job. I fill any other free time volunteering for Angel City Pit Bulls, reading outdoors in Griffith Park or my bed on lazy days – hanging out with friends, and writing my next project. The work never stops. I wish I could travel more but work has made it impossible to unless it’s for a film festival, but I hope to visit Tokyo, Thailand and Vietnam soon!” As for future plans: “I hope continuing to enjoy every minute of every day being a part of this world and making art with my friends. I would like to direct a feature film next, particularly one I wrote a while back— about a group of misfit friends— but my next project really just depends on who The Riot Life and myself are collaborating with. No matter where I am in the future, I know that I’ll never stop making stories that matter.”
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toni romiti WRITTEN BY Jasmine Rodriguez PHOTOGRAPHY BY Bryan Fernandez Hair/Makeup by Jessie Yarborough
TONI ROMITI is an adept representation of displaying selfexpression within R&B melodies and lyrics that vocalize messages of confidence. Her demonstration to unite women through the medium of music meanwhile providing an intimate collection of vulnerable tracks that directly speak on her life illustrates her mastered artistry. Listening to Toni’s EP titled, Just Like You, is similar to boarding on an odyssey of tasteful instrumentals and warm vocals reminiscent of 90’s R&B groups. As a Chicago-native, Romiti has become a part of the ambitious talent that has surrounded her community. Speaking on the vibrancy of her city and how Chicago has personally swayed her musical craft, Romiti states,
“ i fe e l l i ke i ha ve a chica go e dg e to my m u s i c tha t the indus tr y n eeds. i oft e n u se chica go s la ng, a n d i’m i n fl u e n c ed
unde r gro u n d
c h i c ag o a r tis ts tha t i lis te n ed t o h e avi l y i n high s chool.”
On the topic of her etchings into the music world, “I’ve always been a good writer in school, and had been singing my whole life. I was doing covers on SoundCloud and YouTube, but it was just time for me to take everything more serious. When I was 17, I realized that making music is what I wanted to do with my life. I always felt like I was supposed to be somebody,” says Romiti. She curates music that demonstrates the importance of exuding confidence and empowering women to fully embrace themselves. When asked about the depth of her songs off Just Like You, Romiti explains what she hopes listeners take away from the tracks, “I want them [listeners] to feel arrogant and dominant. It’s okay to be confident, to be sexy, and to feel like you’re the best thing that could ever happen to someone. I wanted people to know a little bit more about my personal life and my upbringing. That’s why I made “Without Her” dedicated to my sister.” Romiti’s varied songwriting and fashion choices compromise her aesthetic, an aesthetic composed of musings and inner narratives that speak on the realities that she faces. On the role she personally plays in embracing female empowerment, she states, “I feel like I will be one of those female role models that will help young women feel empowered through my music.”
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Her perspective on life carries an impressive amount of wisdom, “Music is the most powerful thing in the world. You can do anything with music, depending on who’s relaying the message.” She has been in the studio with the hit-makers, Ty Dolla $ign and Chris Brown, and has developed a mentor relationship with the Oakland R&B singer, Kehlani. Speaking on any future collaborative projects with Kehlani or other artists that she is inspired by, Romiti states, “I love Kehlani. I actually sent Kehlani the rough version of “Imma Dog Too” after I first recorded the idea. I wanted to get an opinion from someone that I respected. She loved it and thought I should add more stacks to the hook, which I did. As far as other artists, I would love to collaborate with Drake (obviously), Bryson Tiller, Chris Brown, and there are some others that I’m probably forgetting.” Concerning how she created her first song, Romiti said, “It was called “Lost Me,” I recorded it on Apple headphones with Garageband on my computer. A lot of my songs come from rapping and freestyles. Once I get a concept, I create a melody.” On the origins of her multi-layered songwriting process and whether her songs are personal culminations of experiences, Romiti responds, “It’s kind of half and half. I write
songs like they’re stories. The concepts come from situations that I’ve been in personally, as well as situations that my sisters and friends have been in.” Documenting songs provides a therapeutic outlet for singers, regarding how she personally wrote the songs on Just Like
You, Romiti recalls, “For the whole project, I would write the songs in advance at home. I met various producers via social media, and I would listen to the beats that they sent me. Once I got a decent hook and the start of a verse, I would book a session, go to the studio alone, record for 2 hours and finish the song.” At the heart of her captivating lyrics, Romiti’s mission to simultaneously inspire others and shed light on her own life is achieved. She has emerged as a refreshing lyricist with a quintessential style. As for her 2017 bucket list, Romiti concludes that she wants to, “Tour. Which is happening, make more money than I did last year, maybe buy a car, maybe get a doper spot, I also want to write for more talented men that I love to listen to, get a radio single that’s killin’ it.” Lastly, “I want to be the best version of myself — to be even better than I was last year.”
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â€œ i f e el like i w ill be o ne o f t ho s e fema le r o l e models th a t wi l l hel p yo ung wo m en f e el em p ow er ed t hro ugh my mus i c.â€?
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written by Kendall Bolam PHOTOGRAPHy by Naohmi Monroe lettering by lisa lok
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BRIDGIT MENDLER, known for her starring role in the hit Disney Channel series Good Luck Charlie, has proven to us again and again that she is a force to be reckoned with. Mendler can be seen acting in many of our favorite shows while simultaneously maintaining a successful music career. Her newest single, “Can’t Bring This Down” is a collaboration with New Orleans MC Pell that shows Mendler experimenting with R&B styles. When asked her response to fans’ reactions, Mendler stated, “‘Can’t Bring This Down’ is a song with happy, positive vibes. Pell is a great creative partner and always down to think outside of the box. We made this song in a random jam sesh last year with Pell’s laptop and my ukulele. The fusion of our sounds is exciting and it is validating to see listeners respond when you try something new.” Mendler’s recent collaborations with artists such as Pell and Devontée have pushed her to bring her best ideas to the table. “I love working with talented artists who have a different musical perspective from me,” says Mendler. “They come up with ideas that I never would have.” Mendler brought her new music to SXSW this past March in Austin, TX. Showcasing her recent releases, Mendler was in high demand, performing at various parties and stages throughout the festival. Recalling her favorite memories, Mendler described her experience performing alongside Pell. “Performing with Pell was definitely one of the highlights
of SXSW. It has been one of my favorites to perform. I love interacting with other artists on stage and Pell is really good at bringing energy and working together.” Aside from performing, Mendler had the opportunity to speak at the Digital Frontier Billboard Panel. There she was able to share her thoughts and passions for the ever-evolving music business, as well as learn from successful industry professionals. For Mendler, writing music is an integral part of who she is. “I have always written songs. When I was in school and my friends were going through some sort of emotional drama, I would advise them to write a song to sort out their feelings. Music has always been therapeutic for me and my way of processing the world.” While some artists create systematically, Mendler’s inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. “There are many different ways I approach writing a song,” Mendler says. “I write every day so sometimes my journaling will develop into a song. Sometimes I will have a melody nagging at me while I’m cooking or driving in the car. When I am working with other people, I love to build ideas together in the room in the spirit of improvisation. You never know where the song will go and what another person will bring out of you!” In finding a creative process that works for her, Mendler ensures her writing comes out of a place of originality and uniqueness.
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Adding to her well-established acting career, Mendler will star in the upcoming Fox comedy Thin Ice as Lou, a young woman who finds herself on an expedition to Antarctica alongside a band of misfits. “I told the creators on my first audition that Thin Ice was a TV show I would watch. The characters are hilarious but the message of the show is also so strong in terms of female empowerment.” Mendler, when describing her greatest success as an actress, pays homage to series like Good Luck Charlie that made her a household name. “I think my greatest achievement as an actress has been to be a part of a show that united families as well as the late night solo Netflix-bingers around the simple everyday events that make life funny and full of love. Because of that, wherever I have travelled in the world, I meet people who give me hugs and smiles because my TV living room felt like their living room.” This past March, Mendler took part in World Wildlife Fund’s event “Earth Hour,” a movement focused on bringing awareness of climate change across the globe. Mendler performed acoustically by candlelight as cities across the world went dark in honor of this event. “WWF is a cause that my grandpa supported for much of his life,” says Mendler. “I supported WWF on ‘Earth Hour’ in honor of him. Our planet provides us so much and I wanted to take a brief moment to appreciate the life and beauty that we receive daily.” By being a part of this beautiful movement, Mendler aided to the cause and showed the world that no matter what talent you have, you can make a difference. As Mendler continues to create, she hopes her fans will continue to support her vision and be inspired. “I hope that my fans will see that I am making this music because I love it and I believe in it. I hope that they will feel inspired to pursue their own dreams without waiting for approval or permission and act on the faith that their unique voice is worthwhile.” She urges others to “lean into your originality,” to find what makes you unique and roll with it! So what can we expect from Mendler? Her answer is exciting and mysterious. “I am excited to be working on a number of acting projects this year and while I am filming, I am working on writing a new music project. We’ll see where that goes!” No matter what lies ahead of her, we have confidence that Bridgit Mendler will create stellar content that inspires us and leave us in awe.
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diane villadsen Written by Michelle Ledesma Photography by Matt Welter
Making your art known and appreciated is the new wave, and though art has been around for centuries, this generation is booming with plenty of creatives that are putting together pieces of their art and making it into one grand letter to the universe. Bay Area photographer, DIANE VILLADSEN, showcases her ethereal and whimsical photos to the world while constantly being inspired by her surroundings and using that towards her work. When asked about what inspires her the most, she said “The first thing I always try to do is keep track of that inspiration. Whether it’s saving an image that’s inspired me, or writing down a concept, it’s important that I remember whatever it is that inspired me. I’m often inspired by subtle locations— a certain bush, an interesting awning, or a blossoming tree.”
Villadsen’s photos carry themselves because of how strongly they appear to the audience, they drown out the negativity and simply draw you to stare at the detailed photos. When asked about the aim or certain aesthetic she uses in her photography, she replied, “I feel my work moving in a more pastel direction. I’m really attracted to warm, cotton candy-like colors and how they mingle with femininity. I aim to empower women through my work, so I’m always thinking about new poses or concepts that will make people wonder what she’s all about— what’s going on inside her head— rather than just admiring what she looks like. I think it’s a huge challenge to defy the often-objectifying standards of the fashion industry— one that I’m constantly battling. I’m also starting a series with older people, trying to defy the notion that youth defines beauty.”
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Villadsen is defying society’s standard of beauty and making it into a whirlwind experience for those who look at her photographs because every photo will take you on a different journey. Each photo tells a story— whether it’s a photo of nothing but green shrubs, or a photo of a couple— each has the ability to change your view on photography because of how articulate it is. There’s one photo on Villadsen’s Instagram feed that reveals the epitome of whimsical. The model in the photo has curly, ginger hair with bright pink eye makeup and is shown wearing a sun hat surrounded by a field of red and pink flowers. The photo itself as a light texture and color, making it look pastel-like. It’s a beautiful photo that displays all the magical things Villadsen can do with the simple click of a button. Her use of colors unveils the meaning she holds to the photo she captures. She’s often inspired, but when she finds herself in a creative block, she says “I am usually pretty positive about the work I’ve created, but sometimes I get frustrated at myself for not producing groundbreaking work as often as I’d like. I feel obligated to create a masterpiece every time I shoot, and I’m disappointed when that doesn’t happen. I also go in and out of phases where I’m shooting a lot, and then not at all. I think that’s healthy though— it can be easy to burn out, which doesn’t help your work. We all have to take breaks sometimes! I just try to ride it out and find inspiration in relaxation.” Having constant inspiration is a must. That is one way to create something that you’re proud of. The inspiration can stem from anything; the people you love, your dreams and ideas, your surroundings, and more. 78
Being a fourth-generation Californian, she finds solace in calling California home because of all the beauty it holds. “There are so many beautiful spots, which makes this question tough to answer! However, I’d say that the coastline is the most consistently beautiful spot to shoot. Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz, Mount Tamalpais and the Santa Barbara bluffs are all some of my favorites.” As an artist, you’re able to meet new strangers and hear their stories. Villadsen uses that method of meeting new people to her advantage. Not only do they offer her major inspiration, but they also sort of uncover in her photographs. When asked about her photoshoot sessions, she said “I think the magic comes from having a connection with someone. My good friend Hannah has appeared in my photos since the very beginning— I like to say she’s my original muse. She moved into a house next to mine when we were two, and soon after we built a gate between our fences to facilitate spontaneous playdates. We pretended we were cats, made potions out of backyard herbs, and went on lots of adventures together.” When she was last in front of my camera in October 2015, she was wearing a wedding dress from a thrift store, and we wandered the cliffs of Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz. There was no over thinking, no paranoia about what we were creating— just two friends having fun with a camera. And despite the casual nature of the shoot, the results were magical!” You’ll never know what you’ll find beyond the hidden magic you hold within yourself until you give whatever it is a try.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANE VILLADSEN
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written by Sadie Bell PHOTOGRAPHy by Anna Maria Lopez
In a film’s last scene, be it the gratified happy-ever-after of a John Hughes flick or the final triumphant battle in which good conquers evil of a superhero epic, all feels at peace, like a cumulative reflection of the story that just unfolded, as the screen fades to black. On his recent album Movie, self-described hippy hop artist MOD SUN aims to encapsulate this powerful closing moment— a sentiment dedicated to a life that he is proud of projected before him. Based on a career dedicated to his art, refusing to give up, and a refreshing positive outlook, the experimental rapper is now at an especially enthusiastic place in his life, riding on the success of his latest release and looking hopefully at what scenes are about to unfold before the director’s final cut. “I would be nowhere without positivity. It changed my entire life,” Mod Sun said. “The truth is, the universe wants to give you everything you ask for… It’s about teaching yourself to think only about what you want— only positive. It’s a huge challenge, but, wow, is it worth it. I’m living, breathing proof of that.”
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Movie followed a bit of a different process than Mod Sun’s previous official releases and mixtapes, this time around collaborating with producers in order to seek new sounds and focus his talents on writing, ensuring that he was able to reach a level of vulnerability that he hadn’t yet achieved. He said, “The writing aspect of music, lyrically, is a fantastic way of clearing up room in my mind. I always have something going on in my head and there have been times I wish so dearly I could turn it off, so when I get to sit down and write, whether it be poetry, scripts, motivational, or lyrics, it becomes a form of therapy. I’m grateful for that, as well. Lord knows I would have gone crazy long ago without those gifts.” In doing so, Mod Sun created a collection of songs like the notorious Truman Show effect that our lives are films for others to see, a feeling all too familiar for him that allowed for an essential honesty to be conveyed to his listeners; revealing a rough cut of his film reel in life to his self-described ‘friendbase.’ “My career is just a part of the story. My life is the movie. I know I’m going to see my life flash before my eyes on my last day, and on that day, I will love the movie I see. I’m aware of this and have, since the first memories I have as a child, always done everything I can to make it interesting. I act as if someone is witnessing everything I do, especially when I’m alone, so I make sure to do things to show that witness I’m absolutely loving my f*ckin’ life,” he said. From touring with a former rock band nearly a decade ago to realizing the energy of the hip hop-inspired sounds that flourished in his mind even pre-SoundCloud artistry days, Mod Sun has utilized this incredible mindset to simply do what he loves and refuse to let others stop him. This thinking has lent something special to his work as a solo artist and in his life, a saccharine feeling as if one beautiful day can outweigh the gloominess of an entire week where the sun fails to shine. Especially now with Movie, this positivity vibrantly infuses the album as Mod Sun proves to be on the path of following his dream. He said, “Music has always been a special world for me to exist in. I feel at home when I’m creating sounds that weren’t there and I got lost inside it. Things like time and reality disappear. It’s always been a nice thing for me and it still is a nice thing to this day. I’m grateful for that. I’m a musical expeditionary, so I enjoy touching all sides of music with no boundaries or genres holding me back.” With his music pulling from stoner rap sounds to infectious pop beats and innovative, warped, psychedelic production, Mod Sun’s otherworldly passion for music truly shows in the sounds he creates. Sonically, Mod Sun cannot fit into one box— the expansiveness of his creative mind is far too great for that. 84
“I can’t see myself being the kind of artist that hits a stride and stops evolving. You know, some people make a hit song and spend the rest of their career trying to make another. I don’t see that as evolution. I feel like that kills the art. I really look forward to a continuous life of exploration,” he said. “They say the only constant is change and I like to believe I’ll always understand the world I live in. I want to leave everything I can behind before I have to leave this place. That’s why I do all the things I do.” Though Movie is inspired by final scenes, it seems that Mod Sun is just about to reach his life’s spectacular climactic moment— the longtime coming of his evolution and success as a solo artist too ripe to turn into the closing credits. Mod Sun said, “When that moment comes, I want to watch the greatest movie ever made. Everyday I wake up and feel blessed to add another scene.”
“ t he t ru t h is , t he uni ver se want s to gi ve you ever y t hing you ask for… it ’s ab ou t teaching your sel f to t hink onl y ab ou t w hat you want— onl y p osit i ve. it ’s a huge challenge, bu t , wow, is it wor t h it . i’m li v ing, breat hing p roof of t hat .”
alex aiono Written by kendall bolam Photography by Lhoycel Marie Teope
“ i had a few vi d eo s th at h ad o ne o r two m illio n vi ews ; i t hi nk o n e ev en h ad th r ee m illio n views. when “o ne dance” f ir st c am e o ut i knew th at if i did a co ver i t wo ul d pr o bably be pr etty po pular. i nev er had any i dea it wo uld g et th is big . . .”
ALEX AIONO, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Santa Monica, California watched in amazement as his YouTube cover of Drake’s “One Dance” went viral. Starting with 10 million views, it skyrocketed to over 50 million views in what seems like the blink of an eye. It was an absolute sensation. “It was really crazy watching the video grow,” says Aiono, “I remember watching at ten million views and I was like, ‘Man, this is the biggest video I’ve ever done. There’s no way it can get bigger than this.’” But for Aiono, this was just the beginning. What began with simple mashups on YouTube soon turned into a signed contract with Interscope Records, a label that produces stellar work from artists like The 1975, Lana del Rey, and Madonna. His new singles “Work the Middle” and “Question” are available on all social media platforms and have been met with immense approval from seasoned fans, as well as new listeners. Aiono’s love of music wasn’t cultivated through his covers, but rather, in the time he spent in his own household. “I grew up in a family that loved music, it was one of the biggest things we did as bonding. I think that my family loving music and me singing was always something that was very easy and very natural for me. It made me really fall in love with
music itself.” His insatiable love for music, complete with his family’s support, provided Aiono with the drive to pursue music as a career. In pursuit of his passion, Aiono found YouTube to be a place where he could share his personality, talents, and original music. “When I started YouTube it was about 4 years ago and I had a number of fans that I could only count on my hand. I tried vlogging for a little bit because I thought it was cool, then I started doing covers and I really enjoyed being able to take a song that I liked and put my spin on it. That’s where it all started.” While talking about his recent success, Aiono emphasized that he wouldn’t be anywhere without his fans. “It’s been so amazing seeing the fans on YouTube that come out to the shows or who buy the single. They all grow together and it’s been awesome because they’ve been dedicated to the journey that I’m on. It’s not necessarily just a video that I’ve put out. There are fans that’ve been with me since my very first YouTube videos. It’s been incredible because they all have watched the videos but then they get to experience everything that I’m going through. I’ve been very blessed the last year to be on this adventurous journey and I’m very excited to share the rest of that journey with those fans.”
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Life has changed dramatically for Aiono since signing with Interscope Records. He described his newfound platform to be the biggest change since partnering with his record label. Having gained a supportive team, he has been focusing on creating original music that is unique and personal. “Work the Middle,” Aiono’s first single, is a rhythmic jam that showcases his youthfulness, as well as his vocal abilities. “I love the vibe to it,” Aiono says, “We thought it would be a great launching point for me and my original music especially after the dance vibes of ‘One Dance,’ my ‘Controlla’ video, and all my videos that got a lot of love on YouTube. We thought “Work the Middle” would be a great song to start off from.” His newest single “Question” exudes the same vibrant energy, with a dance vibe that only the most unmoved people can resist. Every great artist has a process in which they create. Aiono is no different. When asked what his creative process looks like and how he writes music, he replied, “When I’m sad I’ll write a song about it. When I’m happy I’ll write a song about it! It’s very very natural to me to express myself through song. I always write the best songs when I’m open and honest, even if it’s not cool. Even if it’s not, ‘Let’s go to the club and party’ and more like, ‘Hey, I’m really sad today because I miss somebody.’ If I write a song about that, it’ll be so much bet-
ter in my eyes and more open and honest. Often, the more honest stuff is better to me. That’s how I really create; by talking honestly and being open about my thoughts and my feelings.” In his interview, Aiono described a desire to become an artist who creates amazing music and stretches himself artistically. “I definitely love people who push the boundaries, who push the bar, and continue to change art/change music. You have conscious rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Common, and Chance the Rapper who will change the way rap is seen so it’s not always about how much money you have or how many girls you can get. You have artists like Pharrell who will change the way people listen to music and who change genres and stretch themselves out. Those artists are the kind I look up to and hopefully can see myself being in the future.” Being on tour and traveling the country is no walk in the park, but Aiono says the payoff is worth any of the stress. “I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work being on tour. You have to sleep in a van, wake up at times you don’t necessarily want to wake up at, go to bed at times you don’t necessarily want to go to bed at... You have to do a lot of things you don’t want to do. But at the same time it is so much fun and the payoff is so incredibly high for me. When I’m onstage, meeting new fans,
getting to play music and do what I love, it is such a big payoff that everything is kind of pushed aside. Everything is gone because that payoff is worth any form of stress and any form of anger or work or tiredness. Being onstage, doing what I love, and meeting fans and thanking them for putting me where I am is the ultimate payoff so everything is worth it. It’s really just a commitment.” Aiono’s attitude and temperament prove that music isn’t “work” to him. It is what he is truly passionate about and where he finds his greatest joy. Stay hungry, stay humble: This is Alex Aiono’s motto. When asked what we can expect from him in the near future, Aiono answered with enthusiasm. “This year 100% will be about new music. To me, it is about new, original music. I’m definitely going to be putting up YouTube covers and I’m going to tour as much as I can. I hosted the Radio Disney Music Awards and I was nominated for a Radio Disney Award! Lots of social media love but overall lots of new, original music. I have a lot to say and I have a lot I want to get off my chest. I want to sing about them and I want to write about them and they’re going to be in your ears hopefully as well as all the rest of the beautiful Aiono Army!”
With a dazzling personality, a kind heart, and an amazing voice; Aiono is a force to be reckoned with. He is taking the world by storm and leading his Aiono Army with him straight to stardom. We can only ask ourselves, “What will Aiono achieve next?”
“ i def in itely lo ve p eo p le wh o p u sh th e b o u n daries, wh o p u sh the bar, an d co n tin u e to ch an ge a rt/ ch an ge mu sic. yo u h ave co n sci o u s rap p ers like ken drick lamar, co m mo n , an d ch an ce t h e rap p er w ho will ch an ge t h e way rap is seen so it’s n o t always ab o u t h o w m u c h mo n ey yo u h ave o r h o w ma n y g irls yo u can g et.”
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electrify PHOTOGRAPHY Christian SpringeR MODEL Mary Maddox STYLING Macey Graham
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STYLING & PHOTOGRAPHY Martin Cantos MODEL PAULA
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INTERVIEW WITH LEAH LU BANNER + ILLUSTRATIONS BY IZZY LAMB
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On the cover, Bridgit Mendler // Featuring: Alex Aiono, Coachella, Mod Sun, Myles Loftin and loads more.