#ontherise Grab your mugs! It’s finally fall season where we can grab our boots and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks or the bae’s place, if you watch loads of YouTube videos then you’ll get this reference. The #OnTheRise topic involved heavily on music because since last year, the team worked on creating an issue of all up and coming artists and bands that we discovered that would fit perfectly for someone who is in need of new music. We have compiled a list of tracks that you can view on our 8tracks page and of course, you can check it out in this issue. Hold the phone, our past cover talents: Halsey and Troye Sivan released new music and it’s by far the best way to kick off the new month. Can we just chat about the fall shows on television and in music?! I’m excited that HTGAWM is finally coming back after waiting months for season two. The team and I are very lucky to have worked with such an amazing band, LANY and their overall vibe. I highly recommend you check out their latest EPs and if they are playing in an area near you, they’re a must see live! It was a blast to collaborate with photographer, Skip Hopkins and his team to create such a visionary piece.
Cathrine Khom founder + chief editor
carroll @carrollmpls minneapolis, mn
meg myers @megmyers los angeles, ca
strange names @namesstrange new york, ny
cassie marin @cassiemarinxo miami, fl
nick leng @nick_leng san diego, ca
tom rosenthal @tomrosenthal london, uk
ember oceans @emberoceans chicago, il
poema @poema nashville, tn
vinyl theatre @vinyltheatre miwaukee, wi
gabriel brown @gabenatbrown orlando, fl
satchmode @satchmode los angeles, ca
youth @youth nashville, tn
kevin garrett @kevinogarrett brooklyn, ny
scott quinn @scottpquinn harrogate, uk
+ special thanks to all the contributing photographers that we collaborated with and our wonderful readers!
lany @thisislany los angeles, ca
sonagur @sonagur toronto, on
do it yourself
f e at u r e s 24
42 sonagur 46
58 satchmode 60
founder / chief editor cathrine khom
iss ue t w e nt y n i n e / / s e p t e m be r t w e n t y f i f teen
copy editor sophia khom web designer ariane therrien illustrators eduardo martinez + megan kate potter diy coordinator madison bass-taylor web content coordinator kristy cheung social media coordinator nicole tillotson videographer jessica eu playlist maker sena cheung front cover logo fiona yeung back cover logo isabel ramos cover photo skip hopkins contributing writers kamrin baker, ashley bulayo, orion carloto, sydney clarke, rachel coker, michael grasseschi, anna hall, chloe luthringshausen, hudson luthringshausen, megan magers, kaela malozewski, lydia snapper, averly tan contributing photographers lexie alley, mila austin, pamela ayala, viviana contreras, ron dadon, rachel epstein, laura harvey, ruby james, katy johnson, rachel kober, chris lampkins, rosie matheson, kohl murdock, danny owens, jade park, dylan razo, meredith sherlock, meagan sullivan, madison bass-taylor, lhoycel marie teope, melissa tilley graphic designers christine ennis, isabel manimbo, isabel ramos, nicole tillotson style department katie qian + jessie yarborough connect localwolvesmag.com twitter / instagram / snapchat: @localwolves facebook.com/localwolves #localwolves community physical copies magcloud.com/user/localwolvesmag general inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org
description local wolves magazine, an online + print publication based in southern california with a talented team from all over the world. we focus on embracing the local scene in art, music, entertainment and film. our goal is to capture and share the stories about people doing what they love to do.
press inquiries email@example.com
coverage: sena cheung
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FIKA C AFE
COVERAGE: MEREDITH SHERLOCK
FIKA, meaning “to have coffee” in Swedish, is an independent café located in the colorful Kensington Market in Toronto. FIKA was established by Nikki Leigh Mckean and Victor Barry, a husband and wife team who are inspired by community, creativity, and, of course, Sweden. The café holds a clean, aesthetic feel, filled with artwork, photographs, daydream worthy vintage globes and naturally— Swedish charm. If you are a fan of iced coffee, FIKA is the place to go. Their unique iced coffee is unlike anything I have personally ever tried, and is an in-house specialty that I will continue to go back for. Nearing the back of the café, you will discover their beautiful wall of books, an undeniably nostalgic and notable room. Explore FIKA even further, and you will find yourself in a spectacular backyard-oasis, a relaxing escape from the city— hammock included. FIKA has become an incredibly special space for me in Toronto, and I hope it can become one for you, too!
LOCATION // CONTACT : 28 Kensington AveNUE Toronto, ON M5T 2J9, Canada (416) 994-7669
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do it yourself + V ANILLA MARSHMELL O W TREATS +
IN G RE D IENTS + 3 packages unflavored gelatin (1/4 ounce packets) + 1 1/4 cup water, divided + 2 cups sugar + 1 cup corn syrup + 2 tablespoons vanilla extract + powdered sugar + gel food coloring (optional) + 8 x 8â€? pan IDEA: try swirling the colors together or layering them! COVERAGE: MADISON BASS-TAYLOR
STE P S
in the bowl of a stand mixer, place the powdered unflavored gelatin with 3/4 cup cold water. let sit
using a fine mesh sieve, completely cover the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with a solid layer of powdered sugar. (if doing multiple colors, have bowls ready with spoons to mix colors)
turn stand mixer to low and carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin. turn the speed up to high and whip for 5 to 7 minutes. add vanilla and mix till combined. (if making plain white marshmallows, continue to whip for a total of 15 minutes)
once you have whipped the mixture, quickly divide the marshmallow into the bowls and color each one with the different gel food colorings. work quickly as the mixture will set fast
with the fine mesh sieve, cover generously with powdered sugar and flatten the surface with your hands. let sit uncovered overnight to set
in a small sized pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup and remaining 1/2 cup of water. heat over medium and bring to a boil. once boiling, raise heat to high and cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees
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n o i r O to: Carlo
hen I was EIGHT, I went to summer camp and my friends and I had the chance to try out the new zip line our camp just built. I watched as all of the campers, one by one, strapped up and take a 1 second drop before the zip line went forward. It scared me more and more the closer I got to being next in line. Everyone’s eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning right as they dropped. As I took more steps forward my heart began to pace faster, I wasn’t sure I was ready to take on the zip line face to face. My friend Kayci began to cry, pout, kick, and scream because the fear got to her head and she didn’t have the courage to do it. Seeing her reaction only freaked me out more, but I tried to ignore it as much as possible. She begged and begged to go back down before our counselor rolled her eyes, called her a “baby”, and let her leave. I watched her go back down that ladder covered in tears. I was next. The knot in my throat grew tighter. Next thing I know, I was tied in and I heard a countdown. 3...2...1... Go! I jumped. My eyes shut tight. Next thing I knew, I’m flying free in the air and the wind is caressing my little braids. It was the best experience of my life, I didn’t want to reach the end. I looked down at my shadow casting over the trees and thought, “I did it, I faced the zip line and I had the time of my life.”
When I was THIRTEEN, in martial arts we were sparring in class. Sparring was always fun to me because who doesn’t like to punch people for fun when you’re 13 without facing any consequences? I never had a problem sparring my friends and people around my age and size. But this class was different— we had to team up with different partners that we’ve never partnered up with before. That left me with Tom (26 years old) and Bradley (22 years old), and my god that scared me. Not only were they twice my size, but they were also way more advanced than I was. It was more embarrassing than anything because I knew I would easily lose that battle and I didn’t want to face that kind of humiliation in front of my class. Of course, I was paired up with Bradley. My fists were shaking and my mouth guard kept filling up with an unnecessary amount of saliva. I almost backed out and complained that my stomach hurt so I can be excused from class and go home. But I knew such an excuse would be so obvious, so I had no choice but to just do it. Eventually it was our turn, Bradley vs. me, 13 year old little shaky-at-the-knees me. We met at the middle of the mat; tapped gloves, bowed at one another, bowed to our sensei, and it was on whenever someone threw the
first punch. Guard after guard, punch after punch, kick after kick, the fight ended immediately to me being pinned to the ground. Of course I tapped out, but immediately afterwards I heard an uproar of cheers and claps. Everyone in class congratulated me for facing my fear of sparring someone twice my size and gave me a pat on the back for not backing out. I did it, I sparred Bradley and I didn’t leave class with a paper bag over my head. When I was FOURTEEN, it was my freshman year of high school. I came across the cutest pair of platform boots in H&M and I knew they were a must-have. I grew up around Vineyard Vines and Polo so of course, even the slightest look of urban would catch many eyes and whispers. I bought the boots (obviously) and stayed up until midnight trying to find the perfect outfit to pair with them. Finally, once finding what I thought looked wicked with them (grey skinny jeans, a band tee, and a long black cardigan), I went to bed in fear of wanting to wear what makes me feel good because I didn’t want to get made fun of by the cool kids. I went to school the next day and actually went through with the boots and outfit. I caught many stares in the hallways and even friends making comments like “...what are you wearing?” followed by my already annoyed response, “Clothes. I’m wearing clothes. What’s the problem?” I didn’t let the opinions of the people around me or the people I called my friends control the clothes I wanted to wear in order to please them. I did it. I did it for me. I rocked what I wanted to throughout the whole day of school and didn’t give a sh*t about anyone’s opinions. When I was SIXTEEN, I posted my first “official” YouTube video with my best friend, Sam Fazz. Although we were so incredibly excited to get our channel started and to create fun content, we were so afraid of the comments we would receive. Finally after days of rookie filming and editing, we posted our video and sat and watched the comments slowly roll in. Many were very nice and supportive, but others were very mean and seriously gave us second thoughts. I began to forget every nice thing hundreds of people were saying and focused entirely on the few hate comments we received. Staying up till 2 AM with thoughts of “I’m not funny enough”, “I’ll never succeed”, I made people so angry just by existing, I had second thoughts about the whole YouTube thing. As time passed, I tried my hardest to forget all of the negative things that were being said and focused more on the positive. Sam and I created such an amazing support system between the both of us and our nice viewers that we continued to keep having fun. We even got to the point of creating our very own channels. We did it, Sam and I never gave up and now we’re creating awesome content that we’re proud of, we have the most supportive viewers, and we focus more on what keeps us going rather than what brings us down.
ri e h t n #o
every order my boyfriend told me to do. After a huge and final fallout, I knew I could no longer trust him and I knew I had to end things as soon as I could. I was so afraid to do so knowing his anger issues and it held me back from wanting to move on and end the negativity that was happening in my life at the moment. Eventually, I told myself that the only way I could be happy again was to be alone and not be with someone that was holding me back. So I faced my fear and broke up with him. Although we are still friends now and realized that’s what we’re better off being, I no longer let myself live under the strong demand of anybody. I refuse to fall under vulnerability in order to please others all of the time. I did it, I realized my worth as a strong woman and I do not belong to anyone except myself. Now I’m NINETEEN. I’m still afraid of a lot of things. I want to do so much in the future and I want to explore so many new opportunities. Looking back at every situation in my life, I realized a lot of what I accomplished stemmed from an initial fear. Now that I’m older, I am aware that I can put whatever my mind to and make it to the finish line without letting my fear get to me. There’s a first time for everything, but don’t let your fear stop you. It’s all in your head. And if you can get past that, you can get past anything.
When I was SEVENTEEN, I was in my first real relationship. Things were great while it lasted and I had so much fun, until differences began to arise. Everything about being in a relationship scared me, especially it being my first, and I became very very vulnerable under pressure and followed
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pinpoint + P O RTRAIT V A C ATI O N + PHOTOGRAPHY: DEVIN BREWSTER // LUKE WRIGHT
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atlanta, ga DREW SWARTS — MODEL // INSTAGRAM : @DREWSWARTS
chattanooga, tn BETH KIRBY OF LOCAL MILK PHOTOGRAPHER + BLOGGER // INSTAGRAM : @LOCALMILK
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nashville, tn ANNE COURTNEY — STYLIST // INSTAGRAM : @ANNECCOURTNEY MADISON BOSWORTH — MODEL // INSTAGRAM : @MADISONBOSWORTH SARA KIESLING — PHOTOGRAPHER // INSTAGRAM : @SARAKIESLING
louisville, ky STEPHEN LLOYD — MODEL // INSTAGRAM : @STEPHEN_LLOYD
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#ontherise + W O LFIE SU B MISSI O NS +
QUESTION: We are exposed to new music and artists on a daily basis. Some tunes can boost your mood and energy while other tracks got you singing along to the lyrics word by word. How has music impacted your life and what do you think can help elevate the music industry even more? // Illustration (left): Megan Kate Potter, UK Music has always been an available outlet source, not only allowing my mind to expand but also my emotions to escape. Most people start their day off with a cup of “joe”; I begin my day by turning up and hitting play on my favorite songs. These are the songs that take me back to some of the best nights of my life. Attending live shows gives the crowd the opportunity to be who they are amongst other fans. To become a part of a community that embraces diversity in their love for music. Experiencing music live is one of the best things you can do. Concerts are no longer just about the headliner; it’s also about arriving early to expand my horizon with new music. Most of my top played artists are the ones I discovered as opening acts. Supporting the music industry means stripping down and starting at the core of where you came from. Artists cannot build upwards without the backing of their family, friends, and the fans of the local scenes. A prefect example of this support and their continued uprising is the Arizona based band, The Maine. From leaving behind their record label to starting their own, 8123, The Maine has proved that the fans mean everything by pushing boundaries and leading the music industry into what it could be. The members make it a point that meeting every fan after a show is important by showing their appreciation with long conversations, photos, and autographs. Priding themselves by staying true to their roots, the band is giving back to their fans by preforming cross-country with a “Free for All” tour giving us a proper thank you for our time, dedication and support. Once an artist becomes an everyday household name, the trend seems to be more about the money than the music and the fans. Their hometown suddenly becomes corporate. The performers need to step back and reminisce on playing the small shows for fifty people to playing sold out venues and
remember what matters most. Remembering what it felt like to see their fan base grow, to hearing the crowd sing back their songs, and from the first time they heard their song on the radio. Some artists need to remind themselves why they got into the industry, who was there from the beginning and who only came in the picture once they signed the contract. Elevating the music industry cannot happen until the professionals realize it all starts with the local scenes and going back to your roots. – CHASTITY THOMPSON, PHOENIX, AZ It’s a common phrase to hear “music has changed me” or “I am inspired by music.” Many people can connect to a catchy beat or clever word play that they can relate to their own personal experiences. But when asked “how has music impacted your life?” the answer reaches a whole different depth. The definition of the word “impact” is to come into forcible contact with another object, meaning that music “physically” makes contact with a person. Technically, music is an abstract concept. An instrument can create music, but you can’t see the music itself; you hear it. You can feel the ringing in your ears from loud speakers, or the soft hum to a soulful singer’s tone. Music creates an impact because it can make you feel something that isn’t physically there. The emotion music can create is powerful. It can affect a single person, or an entire nation. It’s a way to ignite the flame somewhere inside us that burns, glows, and makes us feel alive. Music is an incentive that sparks feelings such as sadness, happiness, or anger. It can make an emotion feel more vivid, as if the artist is performing right in front of you. Personally, I am a huge fan of Stevie Knicks. “Edge of Seventeen” makes me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to, where “Landslide” makes me feel grounded, where my friends and family are my world. The beauty of the music industry is over time it has adapted to so many different styles of music and artists; it seems impossible for someone not able to be impacted by a song. Would I change the industry if I could? No. I am perfectly content dancing around my room in my fringe kimono, with Stevie singing right by my side. – SAM D’ERCOLE, BOSTON, MA
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Music is the ultimate outlet for expression. At times it can make you happy, but on the contrary it could make you feel jittery or fiery or sad or angry, and that’s what makes music so incredibly fascinating. If you let it, different sounds and tunes could open up a wide array of new experiences for you. I feel that music is such a powerful form of art that is only vital in our everyday lives. Through music we can indulge ourselves in different cultures, era’s, or even people and get a fine look into what it’s like to be a part of other diverse fragments of the world. I can only scarcely fathom the deep connection I feel during a concert; the ultimate place to experience the beautiful art that is a key part of my life. There is just something about hearing the raw voice of a singer in person that makes this art form that I love so much better. Because of this beautiful creation, my life has changed immensely. Thanks to music I have learned to stay happy at the worst of times; when my favorite song comes on the radio my mood is lifted almost simultaneously. Hearing different cultures play their tunes on the busy streets downtown has made me become more interested in lifestyles other than my own. We creative people have pieced together something that we merely bathe in every day without a thought to it; music has become second nature in society. Weddings, parties, long car rides, or intense writing sessions would never be complete without a beat to listen to. Whether I like it or not, music has become a part of who I am – it is simply my home away from home. It is not surprisingly there for me in times of sadness or boredom or pure joy and therefore I am forever thankful for the loveliest thing I have ever known. The music industry can only continue to elevate in one way: support. I have always regretted not opening myself up to different music genres sooner, which is why I urge you to do so as well! There are so many different song’s available to you that you may not even know about. For example, if you enjoy pop music, try a shot at indie-pop or vice versa. Both of these genres have very similar vibes. In short, my point is this: do not limit your support to one specific type of musical genre, as it is unlikely that less popular parts of the music industry will strive otherwise. There is always going to be new sounds waiting to perk your interest. Cheers to trying new things! If you’re having trouble finding fresh tunes, try a shot at this: …Baby One More Time – Tove Styrke. (A modern twist on an absolute classic? You might just love it!) – GEORGIA KENNEDY, ONTARIO, CAN
KRISTY CHEUNG, TORONTO, CAN
For me, music encompasses every part of my life. It’s my career, my hobby, and what I use to fill the empty spaces of my existence. As far back as I can remember music has always had an influence on my life. The first album I was ever given was a battered and worn The Beatles record. My sister and I would dance and laugh while listening to their melodic voices croon about unknown love and devastating heartbreak. This music shaped us. It began to subtly influence how we thought about love, life, and even ourselves. Now that I’m older, I can see how music has taken hold of my life. I find a deep fascination for understanding the stories behind each song; how each artist can skillfully weave together melody and lyrics, creating a story that leaves the listener spellbound. That is truly amazing. Music can even affect my mood. When I’m depressed I’m drawn to sad music and to happy tunes when I’m joyful. Music holds so much power in my life that sometimes I wonder if I’d be the same person without it. Would I still feel a strange nostalgia for my hometown if I’d never heard Champagne Supernova by Oasis right before I left for school? Would I have had the same experiences or feelings if I never heard my father sing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac every night before I drifted off to sleep? The music I grew up with influenced how I behaved because what we put into our minds will often cause similar actions to take place. As I fill my mind with music that is positive and encouraging, I feel excited to be alive. And I never want that feeling to go away. One of the most beautiful aspects of our generation is our access to information. If anything can transcend time and culture, it is music! We live in an age where you can listen to Bebop from the 1940’s, the 1980’s punk scene, and contemporary alternative music without ever leaving our bedrooms. Continuing to elevate the accessibility of music will give unknown artists the chance to be discovered! Some of my favorite artists were found on websites like 8tracks and Spotify, and I credit those sites for allowing me the opportunity to discover them. It also gives people freedom to find new music in a particular genre. Before the internet, our parents were forced to listen to whatever came on the radio, whether they liked it or not! Being able to skip songs is a luxury we unknowingly take for granted. With the music industry continually growing, so does the demand for its accessibility. Seeing music grow from something that was once tangible into a more digital form is an exciting process to witness and be a part of! – KENDALL BOLAM, JACKSONVILLe, FL I always say, “If my parents did anything right when raising me, it was definitely the music they exposed me to.” Growing up with parents who listened to bands like Nirvana, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac really influenced my music taste. When I was five, my favorite song was Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel; so I guess its safe to say I was a 20-something-year-old music fanatic trapped inside a child’s body. For as long as I can remember music has given me a sense of purpose. Fortunately I was not sheltered with the teeny-bopper Disney music that most kids were. I listened to real music about real life, real love, and real problems. I think that in the long run that helped to shape who I am as a person. I had the mindset that I knew
about life and what it was all about and what I was doing. It definitely influenced that part of me. At some point or another every child dreams of being a famous superstar, but for some of these kids that dream never really fades away. I never wanted to be a doctor or a ballerina or a marine biologist; I wanted to be a musician. Throughout the years I got ideas of “real world” careers that I thought I may want to pursue, but those always passed just as quickly as they had appeared. However through it all music was always the one constant variable. Now I am seventeen years old and music has inspired me so much that I have decided to go to college next year to pursue a music career. I do not know where this road may take me, and I do not know how far I will go, but simply because of music I have found what my soul wants and needs. And I have decided to do it for the rest of my life. However I feel that, unfortunately, music today has shifted from the type of deep, meaningful, storytelling that I grew up with to something much more shallow. Not to discredit today’s music industry, but I think it has lost it’s value and meaning over the years. I think that if music as a whole would go back to that 60s, 70s, 80s vibe then it would be much more appreciated. So, my one goal is to someday be a musician that inspires people the way that I was inspired, and bring back meaningful songwriting. This is how music has impacted my life for the better. – JUJU WILSON, CORINTH, MS Music gives you a purpose. The most influential people in music were not given their title in a gift-wrapped package. Always remember that. When they were young, these people were told they would amount to nothing countless times as they told adults they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives, brainwashed into thinking their art wasn’t an option. They constantly lacked validation for their dream, living their young lives believing they had no purpose. That’s what they were told, at least. Every time you listen to a song, think about the artist behind it. Remember that you are part of the reason this person now knows their purpose. (The other part of the reason, of course, goes to their music.) Music gives you a cause. Artists reflect their passion through their medium. Musicians write about whatever incites them, and sharing it with the young and the old alike spreads their passion to the many. Are you passionate about human rights? There’s a playlist for that. Are you passionate about nightlife? Albums and albums for you. Is your passion music? Great, there’s plenty of music that glorifies itself. Music gives you a way to close your eyes, plug in, and focus on your cause, on your reason and passion. Musicians create in order to spark a fire in you, the listener. Let that fire resonate, let it grow and let it transfer into your work. Creators make music with a cause: to give you yours. Don’t ignore it. Music gives you an identity. I started playing the violin when I was six. I am young, but I have been playing the instrument for over half my life. In this way, music has become who I am. On the first day of school, teachers always have you write down who you are. Some actually care. Most don’t. Music gave me something to write down. “I am a violinist” is what I have written every day since first grade, because it is who I am. My music is my identity. Every time you listen to a song or album, think
about the creator. Remember that this piece is part of who that person is— think of the years they’ve spent perfecting their craft up to the point that they released that piece. Appreciate it. Consider all of this. Realize that music is not just music, and you are not just a listener. Keep your ears open and pay attention to what the creator is trying to tell to you— look beyond the realm of casual listening and try to really understand. They are creating for you, and you have to let them; you have to make sure they are creating with reason. In the age of the Internet, it is easier than ever to build up a creator-to-listener relationship. Get to know the artists and ensure you do not turn a blind eye to the mind behind the magic as you listen. Take advantage of this, but always remember the most important thing—the music. – HANNAH FAULWELL, SIMI VALLEY, CA
SEO JEONG LANG, IRVINE, CA Words that feel like gold. Echo through your head and take you where you want to go. Teeth and tongue like stone, biting into the unknown. Happy and alone, with words that feel like gold. Here it all tastes the same. Sick inside a city that can’t really take the blame. For your disconnect, for why you always feel insane. Stuck inside a city where it all tastes the same. And all the voices say “we’re golden,” but we’ve come undone. They say, “we’re headstrong;” well I’ll take gladly take the crown and run. I’ll be the savior whose spilled ink you’ll scream until you’ve won. Among the reckless songs of nothing everyone else has sung. – IVANA PETROVIC, MELBOURNE, AUS
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poema STORY: MEGAN MAGERS PHOTOGRAPHY: NOLAN FELDPAUSCH
Sisters SHEALEEN AND ELLE PUCKETT established an appreciation for music early, attending their father’s band practices and performances before becoming the sensation they are today. “Our first ‘show’ was his 40th birthday party in the backyard. We played ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ by U2 and an original song called ‘No Name,’” Elle remembers. Since then, they’ve stepped on stages from Starbucks to Puerto Rico. “It’s all I’ve really had my heart set on as far as a career goes,” Shealeen says. “When I realized I pay my rent, electricity and insurance bill with music, I was like, ‘hey, this is what you set out to do.’” Both possess an undeniable cool, even through e-mail I could instantly detect what makes POEMA and their new EP, Pretty Speeches, so special—wistful, bright and magnetic, both the girls and their new songs are relatable, inviting us to indulge in a delicate, albeit electric, indie release that considers the intricacies of relationships through rustic undertones blushing with sincerity. “It was almost called ‘Don’t Care Don’t Dare.’ Both are lyrics from ‘Enough Messing Around’—the song that captures the vibe of the whole EP,” Elle tells me. This track, which happens to be their favorite, was “definitely written in the dead of night,” she says. “At night I get bursts of creative energy and I can get so lost writing and tracking. I won’t really notice until I hear birds or see the sun coming up.” That dedication to the process is a priority for the Nashville based duo. “You have to put in the work, nobody is going to do that for you,” Shealeen says. However, as organic artists attune to what works, they know to expect a little give and take when shaping material that’s meaningful. “Sometimes I’m filled to the brim with ideas and inspiration,” Shealeen continues, “and other times I’m like ‘NO. I cannot handle this.’ I’ll be in my room reading a book [or] painting—doing something that has nothing to do with music. I think it’s important to detach myself from it once in awhile.” Elle agrees it’s better to interrupt a muse rather than force or resent it. “You [have to] enjoy the doing of your craft. It’s not [always] about the end goal,” she says, verifying Poema’s authenticity.
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They’re romantic and intuitive and fearlessly poised against the games we play with each others’ hearts. Influenced by vintage rock and jazz, each acts as an anthem for summer after hours. “I [wanted] to create something I’m proud of and I myself would listen to,” Shealeen says. Although, when it comes to taste, these stars don’t always align. “We are pretty opposite,” Elle explains. “I like a lot of punk rock, she’s really into old country [and] folk music. Like Shealeen can listen to Phil Collins, James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkle all day and after awhile I just can’t deal [laughs]. When I’m in the car I’ll usually blast the hip hop/R&B station or one of the two CD’s I have— Fiona Apple or The Velvet Underground.” “We get really excited when we find artists we both love. It’s usually soul/blues or 80’s/90’s pop [like] Bill Withers, Ella Fitzgerald, Fleetwood Mac, Tears For Fears, The Cranberries. It ranges. In general though, I don’t know, we’re just totally different. In our style, in our emotions, in the way we like to spend our time, even in the way we look.” “She’s got golden skin and beautiful Spanish goddess hair and I’m very pale. I have freckles and green eyes and my hair is usually an unnatural color. Also, she’s just a better person than I am, she’s incredibly nice and maternal and uses her time wisely and doesn’t cuss [laughs]. If you met us for the first time you would never know we had the same parents.”
“Everyone sees the world in a unique light, through their own mindset and through their own experiences,” Shealeen adds. “Everyone has something they can bring to the table. So for me, it’s all about taking the time to figure that out.” And their journey so far, from winning the Battle of the Bands in 2009 to Warped Tour to working closely with Nolan Rossi as well as filming the music video for “Forget You in LA,” proves they’re constantly reinventing their best selves. “It’s definitely been a ride. It’s been hard at times, we’ve gone through a lot of disappointment and have felt like failures— there have been moments of frustration to the point of wanting to [quit]. But through it all, there’s always been a sense of focus for Elle and I. We’ve left our hometown to move to a city 1,000 miles away to pursue this elusive dream.” “It’s never looked the way we thought it would look. It still doesn’t. You can get so distracted with things like comparison, finances and other various discouragements. But we keep trying. Funny enough, the only thing more difficult than to keep going is to give it up. It’s a part of [us].” This devotion makes a Poema song so much more than your typical glossy hit.
“EVERYONE SEES THE WORLD IN A UNIQUE LIGHT, THROUGH THEIR OWN MINDSET AND THROUGH THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES.” “Take out the goddess hair and the better person part and you’d have it about right,” Shealeen says. “But really, she’s a rock star and I’m mom.” And that dynamic is part of their charm, contributing to this distinct style and sound that’s become so introspective and captivating. Tenderness paired with tough love. Airy, yet textured with deeper understanding. “We had so much fun with this EP,” Elle says. “We let go of fulfilling any expectation and didn’t stress any big ideas. We just didn’t care about what we used to care about. We gave ourselves that freedom. We just knew we needed to make more music.” And their story is far from finished. “[Next] we’re going to spend some time in the desert— Jemez, New Mexico— away from distractions and [make] the next record and just see what seclusion does for us. We want to figure out what we’re capable of. We just want to keep moving forward. If I can make music with good people forever I’d be so happy. Yep, we’re writing new stuff already [and] can’t wait to put that out too,” Shealeen says. Until then, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be playing what we have on repeat.
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nick leng STORY: ASHLEY BULAYO PHOTOGRAPHY: STEPHANIE HUANG
The sound of someone doing the dishes or rustling of papers on a desk is an unconventional way to get inspired to make music. No? Maybe that’s why the interwebz is pretty much obsessed with the San Diego based artist/ producer, NICK LENG. “I BELIEVE THAT ANYTHING CAN BE USED AS MUSIC, AND THIS IDEA HAS PRACTICALLY TRANSLATED OVER TO MY SOUND DESIGN AND PERCUSSION, IN THAT I TRY TO GRAB THINGS THAT WOULDN’T NECESSARY BE SEEN AS ‘MUSICAL INSTRUMENT,’ AND PUT IT IN A SONG.” Born in South Africa but soon turned Californian by age 8, Leng has had music in his blood from day one. For thirteen years, he took on classical piano lessons. It was from this young age where he became fascinated with sound and sound design which carried on throughout high school where he would be continuing to experiment with music. It wasn’t until his freshman year of University, when he realized doing what he loved can be an actual career. As if an ever perfect timeline, frosh year happened to be the best relationship to ever be created. Leng discovered SoundCloud. “I decided that I was going to make music that best [expresses] who I am as a person, and the originality I wanted to embody as an artist.” The hit music sharing website was a huge step for Leng’s career. Since he used this platform to share his music to the world, listeners expressed their interest with what he has to offer. The plays, likes and reposts slowly racked up in numbers. His first track from two years ago, “Opium of the Steeple”, has 35K hits alone. To say we’ve been waiting for new music for quite a while would be an understatement. With “Opium of the Steeple” and critically acclaimed “Crawled Out of the Sea” released almost one year apart, it was kind of a tease to wait until his debut EP, Tunnels and Planes released this past January. It was worth the wait. Leng’s main goal was to have his music be able to “pluck someone from their busy everyday lives, and put them in a world of their own.” Safe to say he nailed it. Within those long two years, his music matured just as he did. “As I’m going through these years figuring out who I am, I find myself also figuring out what this project is. On top of that, I’m always growing as an artist and learning new things every day, and I think you’d have to be pretty stubborn to not incorporate new techniques, ideas, and influences as you learn them just for the sake of keeping things consistent.”
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Yeah, we’re glad he’s giving us all something new every single time he releases a track. “I am obsessed with sound, and have found myself even starting [a] track by making some weird percussion loops, then weird sound and throwing it into a sampler, and going from there and seeing where it takes me. The marvelous thing about music that I have found, is there there are no rules and correct ways of doing things. When you fully embrace that way of thinking, starting a track is the most exciting thing in the world, because you simply have no clue where this journey will take you.” This is why every song is different. This is why you hear one track and you’re caught off guard by the next one thinking it has to be a different artist. Although that’s definitely not that case, there are other artists who lend a hand to create Leng’s masterpieces. Take singer, Carmody, who lent her vocals for “Inside Your Mind”. Hopefully we hear more works from those two. To add onto Leng’s collab wishlist would be King Krule, David Alborn, Sufjan, Blood Orange. Oh, and Arvo Part. “Been on an Arvo Part fad for a while and would love to sit with him and watch him compose.” Okay, that’s just a wishlist but hey, dreams do come true. Right? And for those of you expecting to hear new music in probably five years from now, don’t fret. According to Leng, he has lots of new music that he’s finishing up! The future is bright for this one. We know it. The interweb knows it. Now our wolvies know it. Keep making beautiful music, Nick Leng. If we learned anything from you, it’s that anyone can make music from literally anything.
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yøuth story: Lydia Snapper PhotoGRAPHY: Nolan Feldpausch
Julian Dente, also known as YØUTH, has always had a passion for music. He learned how to play the guitar at just age seven and then organically progressed to writing lyrics in his mid-teens. Although those first attempts at songwriting will never see the light of day, he has refined a writing process that works for him and that culminated in the release of his first EP. “Usually I write a melody and chord structure on guitar, loop it, then move to the drums and play along for a while until I get a phrase in my head that works alongside the melody/rhythm. Then I write the lyrics from that one phrase. Sometimes, it can all happen in a day, sometimes it takes months. Just depends.” With musical inspirations of the likes of Jeff Buckley, U2, Lovedrug, Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday, Julian’s original music cannot be described as ‘ultra-poppy.’ Lyrically, it’s extremely reflective and relatable to his audience of early 20-something’s who, experiencing first-time independence, are working to figure out how this world works. “I write completely from my experiences in relationships and the daily struggle of living in general. That may sound super angsty, but life is tough on everyone, man. I just write to deal with my own thoughts/struggles and offer my perspective to anyone who might listen. I hope that people are able to relate their stories to mine and find hope and redemption in my words, or at least companionship; something to help them make sense of their current situation or even just distract from it in a positive way. Also I just want people to bang their heads and yell along with me.” His debut EP, Start Again does just that. Even though he is just starting out, well-known media, such as NYLON Magazine have taken notice of his talent and have promoted him with high praises. He describes that recognition as super humbling, saying, “I’m blown away that anyone pays attention to words and music that I write in my bedroom. It is so cool to be recognized by so many cool blogs and websites.” With that momentum behind him, Dente revels that he has big plans for the coming year. “Well, I’ve already got my next release written and partially recorded, so there is definitely an album coming. As for a tour, I’m working on it. Can’t wait to get out on the road and play for everyone I can.”
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â€œI hope that people are able to relate their stories to mine and find hope and redemption in my words, or at least companionship; something to help them make sense of their current situation or even just distract from it in a positive way.â€?
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carroll Story: Anna Hall // PhotoGRAPHY: Andy DeLuca
Drummer Charlie Rudoy, of Minnesota based band Carroll, describes the band’s sound as a trip down the most “mucky, thick, disgusting river floor you can imagine.” While it may sound like an uninviting analogy, Carroll is, like a river floor, “warm and enveloping but in a way that is equally unsettling.” Prepare to be both disturbed and comforted. Rising four-piece outfit, Carroll are no strangers to this wildlife setting themselves, having crafted their dreamy, indie rock tunes holed up in a cabin on the Apple River in Wisconsin. Carroll is The Smiths with a heavy dose of Bon Iver; shoe gazing synth fused with rustic Midwestern hibernation. All four band members hail from places other than Minnesota, yet Carroll is no doubt firmly rooted in the Midwest, taking their name from Carroll Avenue in St. Paul where they all lived together in college.
Carroll (two R’s, two L’s, they stress) formed and quickly after escaped to a remote cabin to record demos that would become their EP, Needs. The experience was “revelatory,” says guitarist, Max Kulicke. “We’re at our best when the four of us are chasing a shared vision, and the cabin seems to bring that out in us. We record marathon days, often for 15 hours on end. It’s a perfect creative playground; the river murmurs along, there’s an incredible rope swing to play on, it’s secluded, the light passes through the river gorge all day, dappling the cabin, and we just play and record and work all day long.” The band have since been cutting and mixing tracks in Philadelphia with producer Jon Low (of The War on Drugs and The National) to craft their self-titled debut album due out this fall. “Jon’s incredible,” effuses Kulicke.
“We’re at our best when the four of us are chasing a shared vision, and the cabin seems to bring that out in us. We record marathon days, often for 15 hours on end. It’s a perfect creative playground; the river murmurs along, there’s an incredible rope swing to play on, it’s secluded, the light passes through the river gorge all day, dappling the cabin, and we just play and record and work all day long.” The band have since been cutting and mixing tracks in Philadelphia with producer Jon Low (of The War on Drugs and The National) to craft their self-titled debut album due out this fall. “Jon’s incredible,” effuses Kulicke. “I initially reached out to him totally on a lark, not expecting a serious reply at all. He heard the first batch of cabin demos, and got back almost immediately saying he wanted to make a record with us. We trekked out to Miner Street in Fishtown and holed up for a few weeks with him.” Carroll has been shaped by the wilderness around them and also, no doubt, by the local music scene. In fact, blustering winters and really bad sports teams may help fuel the growing music scene in the Twin Cities for bands like Carroll. Bassist Charles McClung gets really excited talking about the local music scene; “Oh man, there are so many sweet bands based out of the Twin Cities. I’ll try not to rant too hard, I am a big fan of our friends in diary rock outfit Strange Relations,” he says, plus the band Night Moves, and other psychedelic pop bands in the Twin Citiessuch as Rupert Angeleyes, Crimes and Hot Freaks. And of course, the ultimate Minnesota legend, Bob Dylan. Currently the guys are listening to an electric range of everything from A$AP Rocky, Sturgill Simpson, Tame Impala, to George Harrison. When they’re not holed up recording, Max says you can find all of them “cruising the mean streets of Minneapolis on our bikes, checking out shows, swimming at the lakes, consuming coffee, and camping.” And what are they looking forward to on their upcoming tour? “Seeing all the people we care about scattered all over the U.S. Playing that one outro to that one song just right. The local sandwich place. The one minimal coffee shop in every city. Green rooms. Podcasts. Opening bands that blow you away. The local cheap beer brand that everyone swears by. Unforgettable street names. The back left seat in the van.” Birthed from basements, rivers, and rustic cabins, Carroll’s new LP is sure to strike a cord of loneliness in all of us, a play on feelings of alienation but also coddle us in woozy synth hypnosis. It will be eclectic, unsettling, but also comforting like that local sandwich place, that street name and that back left seat in the van. It will be unforgettable; it will be Carroll.
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meg myers STORY: RACHEL COKER // PHOTOGRAPHY: JADE PARK
I remember the first time I heard “Sorry” on my local radio station. It was late in the afternoon, I was driving home from work, and I turned up the volume until music filled the car and made the keys shake in the ignition. It was angsty and dramatic, and energy seeped back into me through the chorus. That’s the power of MEG MYERS. She may have grown up as a small town girl living in Ohio and Florida, but now she’s a woman on the verge of becoming a powerhouse. With two hit singles and nearly 11.3 million YouTube views under her belt, you’ll be sorry you didn’t discover her sooner. Myers grew up in a musical family and learned to play the piano and bass when she was only twelve years old, but claims that she didn’t dedicate her life to music until she moved to LA and met producer Doctor Rosen a few years ago. Since that time, they’ve co-written and produced enough songs to put together Myers’ first full-length album, Sorry, scheduled to be released this summer. “Sometimes I write ideas and melodies over piano or guitar and then we add onto that,” she shares, describing their collaborative songwriting process. “Or sometimes he has a beat or piano or guitar part and I write a melody over that and we build from there. Most every time the first verse melody and lyrics spew out of me and then the rest of it takes more time and thought.” She’s quick to admit her weaknesses and her partner’s ability to combat them. “I’ve always been really good at starting things and
not finishing them, so Rosen really helps me through that.” Her album, Sorry is quickly gaining airtime with powerful singles like the title track, a gut-wrenching and almost bitter response to a relationship that just didn’t last. The music video, which features an out-of-control Myers contrasted against haunted childhood vignettes, has racked up over 1.6 million views on YouTube— a strong follow up to “Desire,” 3.5 million views in 2014. Myers shares, before describing the emotionally and physically demanding process of creating a video. “It’s not like, hey, I have an idea, and then you just shoot it. There’s so much that goes into the making of a video, and it’s hard to really know how it will turn out in the end. I usually feel like a cat turd rolled in cracker crumbs by the end of every video shoot.” She [laughs]. “You know what I mean?” All the emotions she describes sound typical of any twenty-something-year-old woman, happy and in love at times, bitter and heartbroken at other. But the key characteristic that sets Myers apart is the resilience that vibrates through every note. There’s not a hint of weakness or frailty, even in her softer moments. So how does such a kicka** female stay strong, powerful, and truly un-“sorry” under all the pressures that come with being a star on the rise? Myers shrugs and delivers her last line almost off-handedly. “[It’s] a really great feeling and exciting, but then it’s like ‘Ok, whelp, that was cool! Now I have sh*t to do.’”
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vinyl theatre STORY: Rachel Coker // PhotoGRAPHY: Pamela Ayala
Three minutes into Vinyl Theatre’s set, lead singer Keegan Calmes is already standing precariously on top of the drum set, belting out the chorus to their opening number, “If You Say So.” The small restaurant venue means that the audience is crushed together, bouncing on their toes and hoping he doesn’t wipe out on stage. Neon blue strobe lights are involved. A lot of people are going home with t-shirts tonight.
This is my welcome to the irresistible optimism of VINYL THEATRE, the four-man band that has been putting out recent synthetic pop singles catchy enough to convince us that the eighties really are “back”— sans leg warmers. However, it’s surprising to learn that what seems like an up-and-coming indie group has actually on the rise for nine years now. It’s one of those high school band stories. A classic tale of team rivalry turned into comradeship in the highly underrated city of Milwaukee. “The keyboard player and I met playing cross-country in high school,” Calmes shares, re-tracing their roots back almost a decade. “We both did sports. He came up to me and joked that he was going to beat me, and from there we just ended up becoming friends somehow and making music together, he knew the drummer and the bass player since childhood, so when I went to Colorado for school we all kept up over Skype and e-mail. We ended up bringing the drummer on board, then when I finally moved back after four years we grabbed Josh as the bass player.” He waits for a moment, then continues. “A lot of it just came out of friendship. I think that’s the backbone of the band, really.” While a lot of team effort goes into writing and arranging the albums, Calmes insists that the unity of the band really takes center stage in their live performances. That’s where you see the guys jumping around in damp bright t-shirts, making faces and wearing out the soles of their sneakers. “It’s very dance-y,” he laughs, and I instantly know what he’s talking about. “I think every time we do a show we sweat more than any other band. We’re very physical, very theatrical— jumping around. We’re into the music and we like to recreate the album as best we can. But, at the same time, there’s a whole different aspect to a live show. When you’re listening to the album you only get half of the package, because the live show is what we really strive for. It’s what we’re passionate about.” This summer they’ve been taking that tour across the country, going from sharing a stage with Magic Man and The Mowgli’s to headlining their own show.
Their debut album, Electrogram dropped on the music scene last September and is chock-full of infectious synthetic pop. Drawing heavily from the dance vibes of 80’s bands like The Killers and Rush, Vinyl Theatre is doing something few indie groups have the guts to do these days: having fun. In an age where cynicism is “cool,” it’s refreshing to find an album that makes you want to dance again. And while the band does show a deeper side in songs like “Gold”— with lyrics, “We exist just to live / Body and soul / Have we come here only for an ending?”— they still manage to deliver their nuggets of wisdom wrapped in a disco-y cellophane. Their story is consistent, and it’s the story of four guys that are growing up and discovering something good together. “It’s like writing a book,” Calmes explains. “But you have four editors. We don’t want to [give] too much credit to individuals. We want to be seen as a band. We want people to see the connection that we have together.” That connection couldn’t be stronger at the moment, and music fans are taking notice. Just scroll down the comments of any of their music videos— maybe the one made out of clips of Super Eight film and featuring bouncing rainbow-hued balloons— and you’ll see the joy is spreading. “These guys have to get more recognition!” seems to be the most common reaction, supported by thirteen thumbs-up and some new Google+ shares. The band is quick to send some love back, raving about concert goers in hub cities like Austin and Cincinnati, as well as their growing online fanbase. While their summer tour might have ended in July, they’re spending this fall planning future albums, videos, and concerts. “It’s all up in the air right now,” Calmes teases when I press him about the band’s next step. “But we’re definitely keeping ourselves busy.” I guess when you’ve been dancing that many nights in a row, you do deserve a break to sit and rest your feet. Until then, we’ll be playing Electrogram on repeat as the scene changes from long summer nights to crisp school days; dreaming of technicolor singles to come.
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sonagur STORY: ASHLEY BULAYO PHOTOGRAPHY: STEPHANIE CARRAL
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Being a brand new artist feels like there’s a whole lot of weight on your shoulders. There’s so much to tackle: finding the right sound, branding yourself and much more. However, you have to start somewhere, right? That’s exactly what the sister duo. Gabriela and Melody Hansen, who make up SONAGUR, are currently tackling right now. You know the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? That quote works perfectly for these two. Having grown up with parents who are both musicians, it was only a matter of time that these two picked up an instrument of their own and dive into this career. Gabriela chose the piano whereas Melody went for the guitar. Once they put the two together and started jamming out, they realized they could do something with their talents. Fun fact: they weren’t as close growing up but looking at them now, you couldn’t even tell. If you take a listen at their first single “Boulders” or watch their music video for it (inspired by St. Vincent’s “Digital Witness”), their aesthetic is a far cry from the pop or rock genre. In fact, before Sonagur was even put together, the sisters were involved in a band of five which was heavily influenced by folk and acoustic music. “Over time, we found that after stripping away a lot of unnecessary sounds, and taking a break, it just made sense for Sonagur to be just Melody and I.” Their new sound is a lot darker with a huge focus on their vocals. It goes without saying that the idea of stripping away those “unnecessary sounds” seems to work for them.
From five to two is a huge difference, but the girls are managing it all really well. They’ve been able to come together but also bring in their own ideas and thoughts to make their visions come to life. Although they might write individually, it’s easy for them to do so since they laid the groundwork of what they see for the sound, visuals, inspiration and more. They know what they both want and they know how to communicate it to one another. “Boulders” was just an introduction to their music and pretty soon we’ll have their next single, “22 Days” to allow us to hear more of their sound. “Each song will have its own personality. We have a few things in mind for upcoming releases and the album that might surprise a little, and that’s exciting to us. Even we ourselves aren’t entirely sure of what our music will sound like by next year, but whatever it will be, it will be an extension of us (and it will be good).” Even if we have to wait a month, a year or two, Sonagur is sure to gift us with an album that has been meticulously put together for our listening pleasure. So although you may be replaying “Boulders” or even “22 Days” to the point you know every single lyric and every single instrument, just know that what’s coming in the future is worth it. They want to impact their audience and “ultimately, we want to be influencers, not just music or film, but we want Sonagur to encompass all the creative fields we’re invested in.” We cannot wait to see the affect these two are about to make in the music industry.
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LANY STORY: HUDSON LUTHRINGSHAUSEN // PHOTOGRAPHY: SKIP HOPKINS STYLING: TARA NICHOLS // GROOMING: DANIELE PIERSONS
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LES: RAG AND BONE SHIRT PAUL: H&M STRIPED SWEATER JAKE: LEVI’S SHIRT / LEVI’S DENIM JACKET / GLASSES - JAKE’S OWN
It would take little more than a Dell computer and a $150 microphone to match their equipment, but multitudes of musical mastery to rival their success. Boasting a bassist by the name Les Priest and a front man who describes their live performances, as “like sex with the lights on,” it’s no surprise this group is making a name for itself in the music world. Calling themselves LANY, band members Paul Klein, Les Priest, and Jake Goss have been more than busy this past year exploding into the music scene. They’ve released two handfuls of original songs and played countless shows (including the hit Chicago-fest, Lollapalooza), which makes them perfect for our #ONTHERISE issue. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg for these guys. I had the chance to explore the story behind the trio, and there is a lot more than music driving these men.
The band had a pretty typical start; that is, if you’re on the fast track to mega-success. Some fifteen months ago, LANY released two songs, “Hot Lights” and “Walk Away,” which at the time wasn’t much more than a “let’s see what we can come up with” effort, as Klein explains the band’s initial intentions. Immediately, he says, the group started receiving e-mails from record labels asking for more, but they didn’t have anything to show them— largely due to the fact Jake and Les were living in Nashville; Paul in LA. “I found myself on a plane headed to Nashville with my fingers crossed hoping we could come up with something good. In 6 days, we wrote and recorded “ILYSB,” “BRB,” and “Made in Hollywood,” says Klein. Not a bad week for LANY. Especially if you take into consideration that “ILYSB” would bring in 620,000 streams for the group on SoundCloud in just 12 months and inspire
multiple remixes from other artists— with one Ferdinand Weber mix even racking up nearly 2 million plays. So, as any group would do in the wake of such success, the band made a collective move to LA. “They were so bold and so quick to make the move when it was necessary,” says Klein of his band mates’ decision to join him out west. So it was, 5 wildly popular songs in a handful of weeks and a relocation to the heart of the industry; the only question remained, could they keep it up? Their genre, dream pop, hardly rings a bell when I come across it. But within seconds of listening to a track, I can feel the connection. Dream is the perfect description for their sound, which Klein describes as “allud[ing] to the lush synth sounds [they] tend to gravitate towards, and there is this really present R&B vibe that seems to always find its way into [their] tracks.”
With a sound that’s not only unique, but seemingly fresh onto the music scene, I wanted to know where the inspiration comes from. Klein credits LANY’s sound to a wide gamut of influences from Phil Collins to Pharrell Williams. “It’s not so much about being influenced sonically. It’s more about being influenced emotionally.”
“I’D LIKE TO THINK THAT LANY’S AESTHETIC CAN’T BE DEFINED BY A CERTAIN COLOR, OR LACK OF COLOR, OR A SHAPE, OR A LOGO. RATHER, MY GOAL IS TO PRESENT A CONSISTENT AND COMPELLING ‘VIBE.’”
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“MAYBE IT JUST HAPPENS. MAYBE IT’S JUST WRITTEN IN THE STARS. BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE RESPOND TO EXCELLENCE… CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE. I DON’T THINK ANY OF THE “TASTEMAKERS” OF TODAY GOT WHERE THEY ARE RIGHT NOW BY SHEER CHANCE OR PURE LUCK. THESE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE REALLY GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO AND HAVE WORKED REALLY HARD TO BE AS GOOD AS THEY ARE, AND THE WORLD HAS RESPONDED.” And with that, I quickly learned that emotion is the crux of LANY. We went on to talk about everything from process to band-aesthetic, and it became clear to me that while it isn’t a one-man show, Klein is the driving force behind LANY’s essence. More accurately, his emotions are. He seems to have a grip on the band that calls to mind Kevin Parker’s control over Tame Impala. But Klein is certainly no ball-hog, and the band remains a strong, three person effort. Fronted by the multi-instrumentalist Klein’s vocals, with Les Priest on synth bass and guitar, and Jake Goss bellied up to the drums, their creative process is not run of the mill. Then again, what great artists are? “A song of ours has never started out as a piano/vocal or guitar/vocal idea. We basically turn on a synth, build a groove and press record. Piece by piece, everything kind of comes together. Lyrics are always the last to be added,” Klein told me of their songwriting process. LANY’s music is crock full of riddle-like expression. From their name itself, which rings playful but really alludes to Klein’s Los Angeles x New York roots, to the ambiguous 143/153 references. I was eager to know what it all meant. And I would, thankfully, get an explanation for the numerical mystery. LANY’s efforts are far from lazy. As I had mentioned before, it’s more than just music with the guys. They have purpose, meaning, and intention. So when I asked about their specific aesthetic, Klein told me: “I’d like to think that LANY’s aesthetic can’t be defined by a certain color, or lack of color, or a shape, or a logo. Rather, my goal is to present a consistent and compelling ‘vibe.’” He went on to tell me about his friend, Zedek Chan, who he calls family to LANY. He and Chan work very closely to create all the visuals for the band. Later, he recalls a late night just days before our interview where the pair stayed up till the early hours working on a graphic that simply announced upcoming shows. That’s what I mean when I say no detail is swept aside. And Klein is at the head of the operation.
It’s evident from the passion with which he refers to every aspect of LANY that Klein has not only high hopes for the trio, but distinct pride for their accomplishments. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that one of our songs has 5 times as many plays as our others.” When a band’s first two songs are received the way LANY’s debut efforts were, there’s no lie that adds some pressure. The band, though, responded just as expected: with the perfect fusion of talent and hard-work. Still, Klein adds: “People love what they love, and it’s always kinda exciting watching which songs they gravitate towards. I don’t feel like it’s our responsibility to write a song that’s more popular than “ILYSB,” but I do think it’s our job (and our goal) to always be writing and releasing songs that are better than our last.” Before our conversation ended, we spent a moment talking about taste-makers and Klein had something to say that really hit a home run in my mind. I’d brought up an interview where he mentioned Coldplay and their ability to stay relevant for so long and asked Klein about how he hoped to accomplish similar feats with LANY. He first told me that being a taste-maker isn’t something that’s set out to be done, then continued saying “maybe it just happens. Maybe it’s just written in the stars. But I do believe that people respond to excellence… consistent excellence. I don’t think any of the “taste-makers” of today got where they are right now by sheer chance or pure luck. These are people that are really good at what they do and have worked really hard to be as good as they are, and the world has responded.” So consistent excellence is the answer. And LANY is after it. With their recent five-song EP, i loved you, as well as playing Sloss Festival and Lollapalooza, I’d say they are right on track.
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LES: TOP - LEVI’S / BOTTOM - LES’ OWN JAKE: TOP + BOTTOM - LEVI’S / HAT - VINTAGE PAUL: TOP + BOTTOM - AMERICAN APPAREL
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gabriel brown STORY: KAMRIN BAKER PHOTOGRAPHY: VIVIANA CONTRERAS
For as long as it has been around, pop music has gotten a bad rap. It’s always called a guilty pleasure and defined simply by the existence of chart-toppers and radio DJ job positions. People wait in anticipation to mock the lyrics, but they don’t turn them down on their commute to work. “They always sing about the same things. It all sounds the same. It’s all auto tune,” the confused masses repeat. But the thing is, pop music has nothing to be guilty about. For many, it’s freedom. Orlando’s own GABRIEL BROWN is the face of the pop music compass. His new EP, American Dream is a compilation of his unapologetic roots and young wisdom that soars through the pop genre with abandon. “My music is a large extension of my personality, which is very fragmented,” Brown explained. “My sound is pop at heart, because that’s the music I grew up listening to, but it’s definitely anti-static. I never wake up and say “well, it’s time to craft a song that sounds like me.” The style of pop music I make changes as often as I change my outfits. Everything melodically is very recognizable and true to my nature, but sometimes I’m synth pop, in other moments I’m pop/ hip-hop, intermittently I’m alternative/pop. But it’s always pop.” The beauty of his pop music blood is that it flows in many different colors. His aesthetic is surrounded by a glow of a classic 80’s groove and a contemporary creativity. His music inspirations reflect that personality in a list that ranges from Stevie Nicks to Tove Lo, BANKS, and Lana Del Rey herself. “Those artists are my heroes and have gotten me out of some of the hugest emotional ditches ever,” Brown admitted. “They move mountains with their words, and always have an unfiltered way of showcasing their inner emotions. I strive to be more and more fearless everyday because of those females. I also love Dr. Luke and Max Martin. They’re intensely unique yet extremely commercial.” That term, unique and commercial, is what makes pop music irresistible, and Brown knows it. His work is definitely centered around life’s normal occurrences that always seem to sneak their way into radio stations across America, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Writing about love, friendship, and positivity isn’t something that should be scrutinized— and it doesn’t matter if the stories in these songs are real or fiction. “I’m not really inspired by visuals like many other artists are,” Brown relayed.
“I’M VERY INSPIRED BY MOMENTS, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE HUMAN REACTION TO THOSE MOMENTS. MANY OF MY SONGS ARE HYBRID BETWEEN REAL EXPERIENCES AND HOW I WISH I FELT AFTERWARDS.” Unlike a lot of individuals who depend on an intricate writing process of give and take, Brown trusts his imagination when it comes to songwriting. He finds his home in places like VESPR, a coffee shop in Orlando that builds itself— not only on a good cuppa joe— but a strong foundation of community, camaraderie, and creativity. These are three stars that align with Brown; the concepts that define him. “My biggest motivator is witnessing how swiftly great music is spreading,” Brown said. “I can spend hours tunneling through music blogs and find countless artists that are doing great things. That inspires me to do great things as well. To remain positive, it’s important to only think in positives. Instead of saying ‘I don’t want to get in an accident,’ say ‘I’m going to drive safely today.’” Whether he’s thinking in positives or speaking in metaphors, Brown doesn’t ever stray away from music. He claims that his start in the industry is one of those ‘hit the ground running’ type stories. He was a little kid when he knew he wanted to be involved in the music world. As a ten-year-old, he begged for Apple products to get a jump start with GarageBand, and later, Logic. His high school involvement with theatre and choir got him to find his intrinsic self, which is really what kicked his career into motion. “In the future I want to play a massive amount of shows, and I’d like to start writing for other artists who might have a harder time finding that inner voice,” he stated. “Music isn’t an option. For some, it’s the only way to fabricate complex emotions that aren’t explainable. For me, it’s the air I breathe. It’s a way of life that’s inescapable. It’s my home.” Brown referred to American Dream as a blind date with him; getting to know his sound and style as he creates bigger things for the future.
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satchmode STORY: HUDSON LUTHRINGHAUSEN PHOTOGRAPHY: SAMI DRASIN
“WE NATURALLY GRAVITATED TO A HIGHER ENERGY.”
Their name is SATCHMODE and their genre is dream pop— an emerging tag for a sound distinct by it’s synth and heavy lyrical dosage. Gabe Donnay and Adam Boukis make up the duo in question and while Satchmode is only just starting to break out, they’ve been growing steadily since the summer of 2012. The two themselves, however, go back much further: “We’ve known each other since middle school, but we’d never played music with each other before Satchmode,” Donnay tells me of their relationship. It started with a FaceBook post by Donnay, who was looking for a ride to Bonnaroo and what he ultimately got was Satchmode. “We had this 12 hour car ride down to Tennessee and we found out that we both had recently gotten into producing electronic stuff, only to realize we had the same pace in music. Pretty much we got back to Baltimore and started working on stuff.” And it was almost picturesque for the newfound partners, if not for a massive thunderstorm that wiped out electricity in town for a full week, “We were stuck with these musical blue balls, which was really rare to start,” said Boukis about their first session, which they agreed was otherwise a great taste of what’s to come. And it must’ve been because they haven’t looked back since. While both are adamant that music was their first career-choice, they dabbled around before linking up for their current project. Straight out of college, Boukis found himself working at a music studio in Philly— a pretty typical past job for a current musician. Donnay, on the other hand, was busy in a neuroscience lab. Although he was doing brain imaging of musicians, interestingly enough. “I actually have a paper published about that,” he laughs. So in their own ways, both were working closely enough with music that its no surprise they ended up here. Early on Satchmode drew heavily from influences like Tycho, Flashbulb, and M83 to find their sound. But their new EP, according to them, is a higher energy vibe. They credit the change of pace to experimenting with a live setup, “Our tastes were changing and we added guys to the live band which changed the way we thought about our arrangement process. We wanted to write music that could take advantage of our having live drums. We naturally gravitated to a higher energy.”
With the new style, Satchmode feels more like a rock band than an electronic act. And it’s a good move for the pair; they recognize that their early music wasn’t as performance-friendly. Like any band, they are learning and evolving as they grow. Despite the evolution, the band remains of the dream pop genre. “I usually hate genre discussions, but I really like dream pop as a term for us. I think it evokes a certain type of instrumentation,” said Donnay about the term, alluding to what he calls “hazy 80s synthesizers and washy delay and reverb.” If you listen to their track, “Hall and Oates.” Donnay’s guitar solo is a testament to the fact that there is more than just electronics at hand. And Donnay himself is classically trained in piano and violin, which contributes to the songwriting process heavily, as well as the fact both members are multi-instrumentalists: Donnay contributes keys, guitar, and violin while Boukis covers the synth and guitar. “It’s pop music and its often up beat and danceable but it can also be hypnotic and mezzlancholy beneath the surface.” That melancholy aspect comes from the lyrics, which we chatted about briefly. For the most part, Donnay is the pen. “They’re almost all love songs at this point, which everyone likes to make fun of me for,” he added jokingly. But the point he made was that his lyrics are genuine; he can’t write a song if it’s not coming from an emotional core. The tracks are full of heavy lines and lyrical value. One of the last things we talk about, stemming from the emotional presence of Donnay’s lyrics are the graphics presented with Satchmode. Search the band anywhere online and you’ll find links to their music and a heavy load of that hazy 80s grungegraphic. “If you look at that stuff in combination with our music it evokes a specific mood, this very nostalgic, melancholy vibe that runs through all the lyrics.” And that’s exactly what Satchmode offers— in the best of ways. It’s clear they have a vision in mind that extends beyond the music itself. The future for Satchmode is geared up and turning. They have projects in the works, remixes in the making (although they can’t divulge), and a hunger to get themselves out there. Oh, and a full length album that’s written and waiting to be mastered. “We’re ready to take our show on the road,” they tell me about their upcoming plans. But for now, their EP is fresh out of the works and ready to land Satchmode on the radar.
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cassie marin STORY: Kaela Malozewski Photography: Chris Lampkins
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Shoulders graced with long dark hair, and a voice sultry yet silvery, fresh R&B artist, Cassie Marin is capturing fans at a very fast rate. The Miami based singer-songwriter may only be eighteen, but her sound— self-described as eloquent, captivating and imaginative— has been carefully crafted since the time she was old enough to speak. “I’ve always felt a magnetic pull towards creating music,” shared Marin, “and according to my parents, once I fell in love with singing as a young toddler, they couldn’t shut me up, and I haven’t seemed to have changed!” Thankfully, Marin never strayed away from the magnetic pull she felt towards music. The talented teen has since composed her own EP, and uploaded covers to YouTube of some the most popular current hits, like The Weeknd’s “Earned It.” She adds, “the best part about covering another artist’s song would have to be taking bits and pieces and making them my own. I often love a song so much that I’m scared to transform it, but sometimes, I’m happy to accept the challenge to see just where I can make wiggle room for tweaks, and how I can incorporate my own style.” And that she has done. But what really sets Marin apart from other artists, are the verses she has written to accompany her compositions. Having discovered her intense passion for writing at a young age, Marin had written seven books by age thirteen, and her pen has been her choice of weapon ever since. “I don’t typically have a “writing process.” I’ve been in the middle of shopping for groceries at Whole Foods when inspiration has hit me, and I’ve literally put my groceries on hold to race to the parking lot and bring my idea to life with my guitar that I always keep in my car. “Sometimes, I write the melody to a song first, whereas other times, I write the lyrics first. Personally, it depends on what I’m moved by initially. I’m most inspired by people,
places, epiphanies or obstacles I, or my loved ones, may be in the midsts of conquering. My intention with my writing is to inspire, therefore I typically create with whatever inspires me.” Having been inspired by the lyrics of bands like Mansions, Crywolf and Death Cab for Cutie, Marin has worked to write verses that can stand on their own without musical accompaniment— something that speaks to her greatly as a writer. Although she has preferred to work solo on her projects, she recently jumped on the opportunity to collaborate with a friend who has contributed to the instrumental composition of a few of her recent songs. “Though I’ve always enjoyed working alone, I’m always open to endless possibilities that make themselves available to me. I wouldn’t shut out the idea of working with a band in the future. Of course if The Weeknd or Sam Smith approached me with the opportunity to write a song with them, I’d say ‘hell yes!’” And with composing comes performing the pieces, a process well known to Marin. To her, being able to engage and connect with her audience and the conversations that come after the show are what fuel her to continue working on her craft. “When I perform, I feel like I’m sharing my most vulnerable and delicate pieces of myself with others. Nothing feels better to me then inspiring and uplifting them. I’m so lucky to be so passionate about what I do. If I could perform at any venue of my choosing, it would be Madison Square Garden.” While we keep our eyes out for her name on the billboard, we can be sure that Marin is either composing in the comfort of her car with her guitar, or at her favorite spot near the art district in Miami— a place called Wynwood. There, she is surrounded by positive memories, energetic people, delicious restaurants, and most importantly, outstanding pieces of artwork— much like herself.
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strange names STORY: KAMRIN BAKER PHOTOGRAPHY: RACHEL KOBER
I LOVE THE NAME OF THE BAND. HOW DID YOU GUYS COME UP WITH IT? AND MORE DESCRIPTIVELY, HOW DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE? SN: We threw around a lot of ideas. Body parts, currencies, random nouns as one does when naming a band. We just set a task to come up with a strange name, and then there it was staring us in the face. But we love things that are strange in nature, and we always try to face the unfamiliar with whimsy. We came together in Minneapolis in 2012 via school and going out at night and realized we had likeminded aesthetics and could challenge each other. That is what being a band should be about. DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND AND STYLE AND DO YOU HOPE TO STICK TO THAT ORIGINAL SOUND AND STRENGTHEN IT OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO EVOLVE AS TIME GOES ON? SN: Evolve always. For this last record we listened to a lot of new wave, punk, disco, funk— all genres we hold very dear to our hearts. The next record will be a little weirder, maybe a little more aggressive? Who knows though. WHAT ARE SOME LOCAL HOT SPOTS IN YOUR HOMETOWN YOU COULD RECOMMEND TO OUR READERS? SN: In Minneapolis, we’d usually go to 19 Bar, one of the oldest queer bars in Loring Park with the sickest jukebox and the cheapest well drinks or Nye’s, this Polish piano bar. Club Jager too.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A BAND AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT? SN: Living together. We’ve been in each others faces for a year now in every aspect of our lives. This was really conducive to recording, because we could waltz into each others rooms at all hours and talk notes and shop. Now we’re mostly just content to rehearse, tour, write and drink together but when we need alone time, there needs to be a better buffer than a paper-thin wall. That being said, everything between us is gravy. WHAT DOES MUSIC MEAN TO YOU AND HOW DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE RESPOND TO THE CONTENT THAT YOU CREATE? SN: Music is a paradox. It’s communal and solitary and it’s most interesting when it’s volatile. We just want as many people to dig our songs as possible. And that kind of validation is so visible and often tormenting when you’re creating content for social media and all that stuff. We want to be relevant and we want to have a good time with everybody. WHO INSPIRES YOU MOST LIKE EMOTIONALLY AND MUSICALLY, ETC? SN: Anyone who can live inside and outside the box at the same time. Anyone who really owns their work and knows their worth and isn’t a total ass. Tina Turner comes to mind for some reason.
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WHERE DO YOU CONSIDER HOME? SN: Right now, New York. But we’re trying to be nomadic for another decade at least. WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE NEXT YEAR HOLDS FOR YOU AS A BAND? SN: Touring. We want to see the world. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LYRIC YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN? SN: Hard to say. Isn’t having a favorite lyric of your own kind of Dorian Gray-ish? We go through phases of listening to certain songs of ours more than others and then ditch those ones and dig into others but they all resonate with us.
“MUSIC IS A PARADOX. IT’S COMMUNAL AND SOLITARY AND IT’S MOST INTERESTING WHEN IT’S VOLATILE.”
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scott quinn STORY: Kamrin Baker PHOTOGRAPHY: Mila Austin
When I first pulled up Scott Quinn's debut EP, Lust Game on SoundCloud, I was caught in a downpour of startling originality and immediate intimacy. His lyrics don't hold back from the details, and his sounds collided with my ear drums like long lost lovers. Think The Weeknd and Sam Smith in one coordinated breath. As Quinn himself says, "My personal sound is harmony led electric R&B." The mixed-genre artist is someone that has become a tad bit trendy in the music industry over the last few years. Taylor Swift was a driving force in this with her country/pop album, Red and more artists evolved into fearless music machines who created what they wanted to make; without fitting into a cookie cutter voice of one single brand. Although crossover music is more in style these days, it doesn't change the fact that there are endless combinations. Quinn's electric R&B has nothing on anyone else's. "It's important to not think too hard about the music you're making," Quinn advised. "We can all get wrapped up in the idea of writing that 'killer track' and comparing ourselves to people in the charts, but this can actually suppress your creativity. Make music that you would love to listen to. Play around, experiment, be daring!" Quinn isn't only about stepping outside of the box, but he's about disciplining himself to create the content he imagines. Not only does he establish his own songwriting deadlines, he plays his demos and ideas to his family, saying "it's a great way to get feedback plus they really enjoy hearing what you create, trust me."
In fact, the Quinn family has been Scott's biggest support system for as long as he can remember. He recalls that his "parents inspire me more than they probably know." However, his beautiful family life didn't come easily. "#FunFactOfTheDay," he started, "I am actually a test tube baby! My parents tried for 6 years to have me, and so I guess it's only fair that I work hard to make all that hassle worthwhile!"
Quinn continued to honor his parents for their dedication in his life. "I am the person I am today because of them," he said. "They have always supported me in my music, but also in life generally. I can always rely on them one hundred percent, and I just hope that I can be as good a parent to my future children as they have been to me and my siblings.â€?
Reining from this supportive family in Harrogate, England, Quinn lives in a hub for discovery. His environment affected him so deeply that he and two other friends decided to take it as an opportunity to father even more artistic content. Along with Quinn, Ben Richards and Sandy Wright are the masterminds behind a YouTube channel called Little Less Known that documents and shares local hotspots all around their country. “Little Less Known showcases some of the best independent business, innovative people, and inspiring stories in our local area and beyond,” Quinn summarized. “I started the business with two very good friends of mind, making high quality videos of places we enjoyed visiting. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve met so many amazing people with awesome stories to tell.” Just because Quinn is behind the camera doesn’t mean he goes without his own inspiring story. Ever since his first year at university when he was diagnosed as depressed, the film and music maker has added “mental illness advocate” onto his list of occupations. During his journey through depression, he realized there was a stigma clouding the existence of mental illness that created even more frustration and anger in those whom suffer. “In my first year of university, I became depressed,” Quinn recalled as his greatest life struggle. “This was tough for me as I am usually the person that people would turn to when they needed help, and I was very rarely down, upset, or angry about anything. I can only describe it as a dark cloud that never shifts, something that slowly picks away at your personality, your spark. It just wasn’t me.” Despite his own internal hardship, Quinn’s family was nothing but supportive and mindful and played a huge role in getting him the help
CONT’D he needed. “Lucky for me, it only took the confirmation from the doctor to put me back on the right track,” Quinn reflected. “As the weeks went on, I managed to pull myself through by becoming more aware of what I needed, whether that be rest, food, exercise, or just time to spend with friends. Your mind gives you clues, you just have to listen. It upsets me that so many people feel that they have to hide in the shadows about what they’re going through. There is a significant lack of education and support regarding mental health and this is something we need to change.” As someone who has suffered through mental illness, Quinn’s sharing of his story made his music that much more cathartic to me. His lifelong love of music and pursuit to make a career out of it is not only inspiring, but hopeful. Following his development and creative process will surely illuminate my life soundtrack. “What I love about music is that it can take you back to a specific time or emotion in your life, and I think that’s powerful,” Quinn reflected. “Whether it’s the song that was playing when you had your first kiss or when you spend that amazing weekend away with your friends. I don’t think you could ever tell people what to feel when listening to your music, and I take great pleasure in hearing how people interpret my tracks in so many different ways. As long as you feel something, then I’m happy. I would encourage anybody to let me know how my music connects with them.” So, Scott, I’ll leave you with my review. Not only does your music make me feel like something special, it makes me feel like you’re something special, too.
local wolves magazine // 69
kevin garrett STORY: ANNA HALL PHOTOGRAPHY: RACHEL KOBER
WHO IS KEVIN GARRETT AND WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM? Katy Perry’s a fan. In March, she tweeted a link to Kevin Garrett’s SoundCloud on her own accord. Garrett, evidently star-struck and with hallmark humility, replied, “@katyperry WHAT HOW HI THANK YOU.” Garrett confesses that he is a fan and totally grateful that she took “the time to not only listen but to tell a large portion of the world about it.” Even without the charming Twitter shout-outs from superstars, Garrett is humble, grounded, and candid, as well as being a genuinely gifted talent. The Pittsburgh native’s musical background is rich; he reminisces that “the violin is what got me started, and I picked up anything that made noise along the way.” He certainly does far more than just ‘make noise’, however, and he’s recently released, polished, and refined singles, “Coloring” and “Control.” Garrett began with the violin and used this to launch into further musical experimentation, integrating classically bluesy and soulful sounds with prominent electronic aspects– in a fusion that he calls ‘Odd Soul.’ In terms of sound and heritage Garrett describes the genre as an ‘Electro Soul Blend of Alt R&B,’ and hopes one day “to get ‘Odd Soul’ to be a genre on iTunes or Spotify.”
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Garrett’s inspiration and interests are eclectic and may seem surprising to some listeners. As well as Sam Cooke, who Garrett says has ‘influenced me a lot vocally,’ it is the classic songwriters and troubadours of the past like ‘Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and the “Golden Era” of ‘Country with Willie Nelson and Hank Williams,’ that have given him ‘an education on writing.’ Although Garrett’s electro-dreamy sound may appear to be starkly different from someone like Hank Williams’ old-time country feel, there is something similar in sentiment. When Garrett opens his single, “Coloring” with the line, ‘Don’t want the world to know I’m by myself,’ it is easy to tell that he shares the lyrically emotive and mournful quality of, for instance, Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.’
But he is not simply a one dimensionally lovelorn figure. Garrett recently moved to Brooklyn and is revelling in his new surroundings. He reflects boyishly that “Brooklyn makes me hustle,” and the diversity and breadth of talent in the NY music scene enliven him so. But his hometown of Pittsburgh remains forever sacred. For Garrett, whose music suggests that solitude, soul-searching, and seclusion are key in its creation, Pittsburgh represents a sanctuary where he ‘can really try to zone out.’ Despite the majority of Garrett’s writing haven taken place ‘in the woods outside Pittsburgh,’ the seamlessly produced and slick electronic overtones represent the urbanity which Brooklyn life provides. This blend gives rise to his music’s modern and progressive aspects.
The idea behind Garrett’s lyrics is to connect with people and allow them an opportunity to hopefully realize something themselves. “The songs aren’t for me anymore once they’re out, so it’s always nice to hear about other people becoming inspired by the music.” His song, “Coloring” about confrontation and vulnerability, taps into universal emotions. When synchronised with the slow unwinding beat, the lyrics compel you to share, connect, and empathise with Garrett as he does with you. This highly introspective and endearing quality explains Garrett’s growing popularity.
SO, WHO IS KEVIN GARRETT AND WHY SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO HIM? Well, not just because he’s on Katy Perry’s playlist. Kevin Garrett is musically wide-ranging and ambitious, technically impressive and lyrically tender. But more so, he is honest and firmly grounded in his musical and geographical roots, giving way to a unique authenticity. Garrett’s music exudes maturity and a deep, complex heart.
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ember oceans STORY: Hudson Luthringshausen PhotoGRAPHY: Kohl Murdock
It was my distinct pleasure to be assigned the task of interviewing Ember Oceans— a four man indie-rock band, three of whom I have been good friends with for quite a few years. The band, hailing from Chicagoland, is made up of lead vocalist/keys Freddy Tyler Purcell, guitarist Joe Cox, bassist Sean Groebe, and drummer Parker Simonaitis. These high school buddies came together in the winter of 2013, and after just a couple of years have racked up accomplishments ranging from two self-recorded/released EPs and a recent professionally recorded EP, to playing gigs like Chicago’s Metro and the House of Blues. For this interview, I was lucky enough to stop by the band’s house in Chicago for a taste of what its like in the world of Ember Oceans. I arrive at the house around 10 AM. Joe Cox, the lead guitarist, greets me at the door. He’s dressed and ready to go— his bandmates, though, remain to be found. As Joe and I catch up, one by one the guys make their way to the kitchen where I sit. I showed up early, so I’m expecting them to be unready. They start to turn up, waking up simultaneously, and Joe mentions that last night they had a group of guys over for a listening party. But its not their music— it’s Dr. Dre’s latest, which the band acquired on vinyl (and they’re damn proud of that, because the record keeps turning up no matter what room I find myself in; they’re toting it with them, the prized possession). While the guys make breakfast, Joe excitedly takes me to the basement to see their new listening den, a curtained cubby which they set up for the last nights session. Through a door on the other side of the basement opens an unfinished room that’s crock full of equipment. Guitars, keyboards, a stack of bass guitars, and just about any other instrument— they’ve got it. The room is sound proofed and centered on the wall is their mixing table, which Freddy mans. After I explore the rest of their record collection and fuddle with some equipment, I return to the upstairs where the band is setting up for a live performance I requested for my YouTube channel. Sean sits, tuning his bass to Freddy’s piano, while Parker warms up on a drum kit somewhere off in a corner of the house— Joe is back in the kitchen making himself a breakfast taco, a creation inspired by my mom’s morning tacos from what feels like a decade ago when Mr. Cox and I would spend countless nights together between middle school weeks.
Freddy is quieter, seemingly deaf to the banter of his bandmates, making sure the gear is all set up and ready to go. He’s the glue behind the music; they all agree. “Freddy is the sound engineer, mixer, pianist, and singer all at the same time,” the guys joke to me as they settle into their places. Where there is plenty of talent, Freddy is the cohesive element needed to create what Ember Oceans is about. And what I quickly learn is that these guys are about the music, that pure breed that feeds raw talent and passion. Moments later, I’d catch Sean and Joe aside for a brief thought on the band’s authenticity:
“We could get up there and shred on some popular song, but at the end of the day we have to promote our own music and stay true to what we’re about.” While Freddy continues to pour over the details of the setup, Joe wanders into the room, guitar in hand, to complete the sound check— cranking out the melody as he jokingly hums the wrong lyrics into the mic. Parker is in and out, returning with a new percussive piece every visit. “I want to do something different with this take,” he tells the band. He would ultimately settle on a guitar case for a kick drum and an empty glass bottle taped to a stand of sorts; the rig is great, a sharp ting that opens the sound up. Before Freddy gives the go, Sean starts slapping a Nirvana tune on the bass and Joe and Parker quickly join in with their instruments. I get a quick cover before Joe whips out the Cobain-like screech and the whole thing ends in laughs. Then Freddy is ready, and the band straightens up for a first take. They play their latest single, “Right Reasons” off their self-titled EP. It’s an upbeat, funky tune that begs to be sung along to. And that’s a good thing, because this was only a warm up take for Freddy to quadruple check the sound. As he does, Joe sneaks off into the basement and I follow him— he’s hurriedly unplugging his pedal board to bring upstairs. “I gotta get this up there fast before they stop me!” he grins, and sneaks back up to the living room.
Take after take, they add a bit more, but each is just as smooth as the last— a testament to Ember Oceans’s skill and chemistry as a group. The final result is a take they’re all happy with, which has a handful extra elements than the first take, but to the untrained ear would sound extremely similar. It’s about the details for these guys, and they waste no efforts in producing the highest quality sound. Lyrically, you guys are impressive. Who writes the lyrics? Where do they come from? Parker: I write the lyrics and with our songs I consciously try to write them with a style. I think we’re young and its a time in our life that were going through changes and growing up, learning how life works. I try to express that for the people our age, who can relate to the good and bad times— the growing pains. I always ask about the process, because I’m a geek for behind the scenes. What’s EMBER OCEANS’ process for writing music? Sean: Freddy builds the house and we decorate the rooms. Joe: Once Freddy is in the process of writing, there’s the piano in the house, so all of us hear the progression while he’s going for it. When he comes and says ‘What do you think of this?’ we already have heard it and are thinking about what we wanna do.
Artistically speaking, what is the vision for Ember Oceans? Who is the main decision maker for things like graphics, etc. Is there an aesthetic for EO? Parker: It’s a vacation— we want our music to take you on vacation. Some people call our music trippy, some say it’s chill. I think it can take people wherever they want. It will take you to your own paradise, we hope. Everyone can find something in our music they like, because we pull from so many different influences. Now tell me about some setbacks? Parker: Just being young, you're trying to figure out the rest of your life at this stage in terms of school and who you are. It could be a setback but also can help define music, because the music is the escape, the retreat where we can take all the frustration out. No matter what our age is that doesn't change the music we can write. What is something people don’t know about you guys that you want them to know? Joe: How close of friends we are. Some of the time these bands are people that just work together and we are a working band, yes, but were a close knit one because it’s personal between us— as friends, brothers, roommates. And that friendship really carries over to what we do in the studio and live.
local wolves magazine // 75
tom rosenthal STORY: EMMA FJALLUND PHOTOGRAPHY: HARRY HITCHENS
The sun is shining upon Primrose Hill, London a late Saturday morning in July. On the top of the hill appears a man wearing a loose bottom up shirt, comfy pants, comfy shoes and a bucket hat on top. He is the kind of man that asks, “How’s your life?” and “Are you enjoying life?” as the first things when you approach him, and the kind of man who doesn’t mind rambling around the British countryside, shooting a music video while dressed like huge watermelon. The man that has just appeared on the hilltop is the musician, TOM ROSENTHAL. When Rosenthal was little his mother decided to send her son to a local singing group to make sure he got a little artistically experience. His mother, he says, was very encouraging about the music at first, but as time went on, and the more he actually started to like music, the encouragement from his mother fainted away. This, however, didn’t stop Rosenthal and he started working harder and harder with his music. As a result for his hard work, he released his debut album, Keep a Private Room Behind the Shop, four years ago. A record that was the one thing he had worked the hardest on, ever. He wanted his first record to be just right, because as he says, “the first record is what makes you and it’s something that you can’t just rub out, and that will follow you through the rest of your career.
“If it’s not how it sounds that will follow you, it’s how you act around it.” Last mentioned is what has followed Rosenthal. His first record got a lot of criticism, because his music was something new and different to the reviewer’s ear. Rosenthal, however, didn’t let the critic demoralize him. He took the amount criticism as challenge of proving the reviewers wrong and wanted to let the world know that his music was much more than the reviewers thought. Taking this challenge is something he has learnt a lot from. He has learnt not to be scared, to be more open and truly believe in himself, because he was right. The listeners disagreed just as much with the reviewers as he did himself. Rosenthal is not much a of gig person. If he did gigs, he says, everything would be about him, and that’s not what he wants. He is much more of a man behind the camera than a frontman, he admits. Besides loving writing and composing, he loves interviewing people and giving other people a voice instead of it all being “me, me, me.” A couple of years ago, Rosenthal made a series named, ‘Other Stories’ in where he interviewed people with stories on heart, put some music behind it and put it on the internet. The series, however, has been off the internet for a couple of years, but Rosenthal is currently planning to do something quite similar.
His big upcoming project is to make a podcast wherein he interviews people, just like in the ‘Other People’ series, makes them tell their story and gives them a voice. He hopes that by both telling stories from his own life and from others life he can make his listeners hopeful, give them something they might can relate to, make them think, and maybe even change their view and general mind set about things. Hoping to affect people these ways is why Rosenthal likes to make his music and stuff in general on his own instead of getting others do to it for him. When doing it himself he can be sure that his stuff hasn’t been retouched in any way by others and that it is his exact message that comes out to his listeners. Rosenthal’s music career has reached incredible heights since his debut album got released. His songs have been featured in several commercials, been used by various YouTube filmmakers, and have been used as soundtrack for the popular UK television series, Skins. In the music business, he says, “You only have little rises. One song doesn’t do it for you; you have to keep coming up with something new if you want to be ahead of the madding crowd of artists.” Him keeping up in the music industry might make people think that Rosenthal’s daily life is only about music
and nothing else, but, in fact, it’s only a tiny bit of his day that has something to do with music. He has a very strong belief in that good stuff comes out when it needs to come out, and that you can’t force it. On that account, he takes his time with whatever he does, in his daily life as well as in his music. He believes that you need good inspiration and good experience to write good songs, and to get this he prefers to spend his time away from pen and paper, and out in the big world. “Everyone can write a love song,” he says, “but you have to live, socialize and live a little more to be able to write those songs that make people hopeful, make people think, and maybe even change peoples mind. First life, then song,” he says. Living in London gives Rosenthal a good chance to get inspired. London is brimming with big buildings, big parks, lots and lots of different people to be inspired by. And to get inspired is exactly why Tom Rosenthal has decided to walk around on Primrose Hill this Saturday morning.
local wolves magazine // 79