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FALL/WINTER 2018

mad sounds a publication for the young and daring

suede brooks ISSUE NO. 29


mad sounds a publication for the young and daring

Giselle Melendres Editor-in-Chief, Creative Director, & Designer info@madsoundsmagazine.com Contributing Writers Emily Zheng, Giselle Melendres, Lea Porcelli A Special Thanks... Suede Brooks, Anna Khananashvili, Riley Taylor, Tia Liu, Gwen Swinarton, & Tall Heights

ON THE COVER Photography by Riley Taylor @rileytaylor Featuring Suede Brooks @suedebrooks


the young & daring

@madsoundsmag www.madsoundsmagazine.com @madsoundsmag


contents introduction

features

006 the self-made issue a letter from the editor

036 SUEDE BROOKS youtube creator & model

editorials

052 TALL HEIGHTS music artist

008 baby blue by DARRELL JACKSON 018 girls just want to have fun by TIFFANY YANG 026 desert disco by ANTHONY HUDSON

068 GWEN SWINARTON asmr youtube creator 084 TIA LIU photographer music 100 GABRIELLA COHEN the moroccan lounge

photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


NO. 29 - THE SELF-MADE ISSUE

the self-made issue SUEDE BROOKS

RILEY TAYLOR Happy November, dear readers! Can you believe we’re nearing the end of 2018? Today we’re releasing Issue 29 of Mad Sounds and I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by. When I first started this magazine I was a junior in high school, completely fascinated by photography, art, and the creative work of up and coming artists, but also entirely unknowledgeable in anything surrounding digital publishing or media. As I write this editor’s letter, I’m a senior in college wrapping up my English degree and registering for my last semester of classes at Loyola Marymount University — and surprisingly, I still love making this magazine. Over the past years, a common theme within our issues have focused upon the idea of being self-made, a self-starter navigating the

creative industry. While we all have our own pathways to success, I am constantly in awe of the artists, creators, and entertainers who have paved their own pathways in the industry with grit and grace. The creatives in Issue 29: The Self-Made Issue are no exception. We had the opportunity to talk to the wonderful creators Tia Liu, Tall Heights, Gwen Swinarton, and additionally spotlight Suede Brooks, our cover star for this special issue. I hope their work and unique journeys inspire you to never give up on what you love, despite the criticism, odds, and obstacles that come your way. Sit back and enjoy this issue of Mad Sounds; I’ll see you all again very soon! Giselle Melendres Founder + Editor-in-Chief Mad Sounds

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baby blue photography by DARRELL JACKSON @djacks.jpg featuring (left) KIMBERLY KATEN @kimberlykaten


mad sounds editorials

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photography by DARRELL JACKSON @djacks.jpg featuring (left) KIMBERLY KATEN @kimberlykaten


photography by DARRELL JACKSON @djacks.jpg featuring (left) KIMBERLY KATEN @kimberlykaten


photography by DARRELL JACKSON @djacks.jpg featuring (left) KIMBERLY KATEN @kimberlykaten


girls just want to have fun photography by KIMBERLY TRAN @kimmxtran styling by PATY SOTO makeup & hair by KENDAL FEDAIL featuring CORA MORAN


photography by KIMBERLY TRAN @kimmxtran styling by PATY SOTO makeup & hair by KENDAL FEDAIL featuring CORA MORAN


photography by KIMBERLY TRAN @kimmxtran styling by PATY SOTO makeup & hair by KENDAL FEDAIL featuring CORA MORAN


desert disco photography by KINSEY BALL @kinseyball styling by REBECCA MESHINSKY, makeup by SOFIA VERDUGO hair by JENNA ALISOGLU videography by ROMAN NOVI featuring NIYA NOVI


photography by KINSEY BALL @kinseyball styling by REBECCA MESHINSKY, makeup by SOFIA VERDUGO hair by JENNA ALISOGLU featuring NIYA NOVI


photography by KINSEY BALL @kinseyball styling by REBECCA MESHINSKY, makeup by SOFIA VERDUGO hair by JENNA ALISOGLU featuring NIYA NOVI


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mad sounds editorials

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photography by KINSEY BALL @kinseyball styling by REBECCA MESHINSKY, makeup by SOFIA VERDUGO hair by JENNA ALISOGLU featuring NIYA NOVI


photography by KINSEY BALL @kinseyball styling by REBECCA MESHINSKY, makeup by SOFIA VERDUGO hair by JENNA ALISOGLU featuring NIYA NOVI


suede brooks photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks interview by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


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SUEDE BROOKS interview by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth words by SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks

Suede Brooks was certain that she never wanted to be put into a box. Instead, she created her own box --- a self-made digital empire motivated by a passion for beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and a mission to empower others. As a model, YouTube creator, and digital influencer, Suede’s unique style and authentic content has attracted a loyal viewership from around the globe: using her expanding platform to not only share her life online, but to encourage confidence, selflove, and positivity in her audience. Today we had the opportunity to talk with Suede about her start as a digital creator, from an eleven year old YouTube enthusiast to a now seventeen year old boss in the making. Read our interview to learn more about our cover star and her journey in YouTube, modeling, and beyond. Hi Suede, thanks for chatting with me today for Mad Sounds. To kick things off, what’s a typical day in the life for Suede Brooks? Thank you so much for having me! I had so much fun shooting with Riley! A typical day in my life is hard to describe because I’m always waking up in a different location and traveling a lot, but usually I’ll wake up at around 9 AM, take my morning shower, and make my favorite smoothie to start my day. Sometimes I have meetings, shoots, or events to attend so depending on my schedule that day I’ll plan out when to get ready, etc. No matter what I try to set aside time to film for my YouTube Channel, where I share beauty and fashion tips with viewers around the world. I love having my viewers follow along during my everyday life, so whatever I’m doing, I’m usually documenting that through Instagram sto-

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ries and Snapchat as I go about my day. My favorite meal is dinner so I’m always looking forward to that- and I tend to stay up until very late in the night because that’s when I like to edit my videos most! You’re based in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas-what do you like about living in both cities? I have such a love for both cities but in such different ways. Los Angeles has allowed me to pursue my dreams, my goals and my career. As for Las Vegas, my mother and sister live there and every time I go back, I get to spend time quality time with them and see the people I grew up with, which allows me to be a ‘normal kid’ for a while… it’s definitely a nice break from the chaos of Los Angeles.


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor / featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


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What are some of your favorite spots in Los Angeles?

Having a such a large online presence comes with negatives at times, namely, hate comments and criticism online. How do you deal with hate?

I have so many! One of my favorite places to eat right now is Green Table, it’s vegan and so yummy. Some of my go-tos that are tried-and true classics include Zinque, Joan’s on 3rd, Toast, and Catch. I love being outdoors and any chance that I get to be outside, I’m there. I love hiking Runyon Canyon or a hike in Malibu is always great. I also love to shop on Melrose and Fairfax. Those are the two areas in LA where I get a lot of my style inspiration. It’s so vibrant and everyone has amazing style.

I get this question all the time and there’s no recipe for learning how to deal with hate. When I first started YouTube I would receive hate comments all the time and from the start I just laughed at them because at the end of the day, I had one goal and dream and that was to help young girls around the world and nothing was going to stop me. I still get criticism to this day on everything I do but I have just come to the conclusion that you’re not going to always make EVERYONE happy. If you focus on your goals, keeping yourself and your loved ones happy, and being a good person, the hate can’t get to you as much, so that’s what I do.

You’ve been on YouTube since 2013. Could you tell us a bit about how you first started? What made you want to start your own YouTube channel?

What advice would you give an aspiring content creator hoping to have a successful YouTube channel like your own?

I started YouTube when I was 11 years old! I was severely bullied throughout middle school and I would sit in my room and watch young girls put on makeup on YouTube for hours on end, and one day I woke up and tried it. Somehow it worked out for me! I have such a passion for inspiring girls my age to look and feel their best at all times even when they’re at a low point in their life, because I’ve been there and there is always better ahead!

One piece of advice would be to always be yourself and not mimic or copy someone just because they are doing well. This is something that took me a while to learn because I would see all these creators blowing up out of nowhere but all their content was the same and I didn’t want to be put in a box- I wanted to create my own box. I stuck to my guns and stayed true to myself, my vision, and my style and I think that has paid off and resulted in an authenticity in my content that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Your videos are based in lifestyle, fashion, and beauty related content, however, your videos delve into much deeper content than simply ‘lifestyle’. What message do you hope to evoke to your audience through your YouTube videos? The one message I like to evoke to my audience is “If I can do it, you can”, and to convey a message of hope. This is something I feel very strongly about because I hit an all time low at 12 years old, was severely depressed, self conscious, and not comfortable in my own body. To have a chance to share my whole story with an audience is the most amazing feeling and makes me ecstatic because I feel like it enables me to relate to people on a very deep level, and hopefully help someone.

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photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


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photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


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Modeling is another huge part of your daily life and career. When did you first discover your passion for modeling? This passion has always been with me ever since I watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show when I was 8 years old. I didn’t start taking it very seriously until I was about 15-- that was when my YouTube channel really took off and everything was happening at once. I had always dreamed of doing worldwide campaigns and driving down the street and seeing my face in windows and billboards etc. and the fact that I get to live my dream every day is the most surreal thing to me to this day, and I’m very grateful. When did you first recognize that modeling was a potential career path for yourself? I first recognized this deep passion when I signed with one of the biggest modeling agencies when I was 16 as a model and influencer. Once this happened, I set my mind to actually tapping into the opportunity and taking advantage of my height (which I had hated growing up) and running with it. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about the modeling industry? My favorite part of the industry is constantly being surrounded by inspiring young girls that do exactly what I do, and I love learning about the industry from the strong, powerful men and women I get to meet. My least favorite thing about the industry is definitely the competitiveness that comes along with it. This is one thing I struggle with to this day— thinking you’re not beautiful enough, skinny enough, etc.

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What’s your biggest tip or piece of advice for someone wanting to pursue modeling? Definitely to have tunnel vision with it. There are so many people who pursue it, and remaining yourself and not changing for anyone is definitely a challenge— but if you can keep that and run with it, that’s all you need. Self-love is a topic that many people struggle with, especially growing up in a digital era where it’s easy to compare yourself to others that you see online. What is your advice for learning to love yourself and embrace who you are? At the end of the day, all you have is yourself, so get comfortable with it and accept and love yourself! Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has something special and amazing to bring to the table in this life, but if you’re too busy doubting yourself or not giving yourself the love that you and everyone deserves, it’s going to be tough to fulfill your potential and contribute something great.


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks


What was one of your proudest or most memorable milestones in both your modeling career and YouTube career thus far? Walking at New York Fashion Week was extremely memorable on the modeling side, and working directly with YouTube and brands as an expert on content creation has made me really proud on the digital side of things—to be tapped to advise such big companies is such an honor! You have such a unique fashion sense and eye for style--what inspires your personal style? Who are some of your style inspirations? I think my friends and the street style and culture in LA are what inspire me most. At the end of the day though, my style is definitely my own and it’s important to me that it stays that way. When I get dressed there is no formula and I just lean into what I’m feeling, which is what makes it unique I think. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like an outfit will come together but when I’m done it somehow works- so I’ve learned to trust myself! In terms of people who inspire me, I look up to a lot stylistsI’m loving Maeve Reilly right now. Describe yourself in three words: Gregarious, loving, ambitious. What’s one thing you’re excited for now? Turning 18! My birthday is in February and I’m so excited for the event itself and everything it signifies both personally and professionally

KEEP UP WTIH SUEDE: Instagram/Twitter: @suedebrooks YouTube: youtube.com/suedebrooks


tall heights photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights interview by EMILY PITCHER @xmilyp


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photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


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TALL HEIGHTS interview by EMILY PITCHER @xmilyp words by TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights

Electro-folk band Tall Heights started their music career by performing on the streets of Boston. Ever since their notoriety skyrocketed, this duo has been hailed by publications such as NPR and Refinery29 for their experimental sound and rich harmonies. We sat down with Tall Heights to talk about their recent tour with Ben Folds and CAKE, how to overcome rejection, and music as a social tool. Read on to learn about their newest album “Pretty Colors For Your Actions” and the creative process:

Your album “Pretty Colors For Your Actions” is coming out in October. In what ways does this differ from your previous music? What story does this new release tell? Pretty Colors I think is our newest chapter in an ongoing exploration of a sound and a voice. We didn’t always know what we were doing as Tall Heights. As younger artists, I think we created from an undisciplined, but highly inspired place of joy and passion. By that, I mean I think we had our heads only on the task in front of us: street perform now, eat this, write a song, pay this bill, sleep, now learn how to record music, that sort of thing. So we used our voices and our instruments. We did the best we could, and we kept our heads down to get through those early days. Now that we’re more experienced, mature, and a touch more successful, I think we have more field awareness and can make deliberate choices.

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So the production and delivery of the music have matured a lot; it’s good old-fashioned studio music making complete with a band of wizards. It’s so much richer and more alive, much less patchwork and less janky than our earliest recordings. We’ve been reflecting more on what we’ve done though and what we want to do, and I think we’ve realized that the thing we were mindlessly doing back then, the thing we have always done, and the thing we should continue to do in Tall Heights is sing together. Album to album for us always sounds so different, but we’ve realized our voices are a real sound, a real fingerprint that makes it all one catalog, so that’s what we’re sticking with. And it’s a fucked up, fractured world right now, so we think that two people singing with one unified voice in unison or in harmony is about the best thing we can offer up right now.


photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


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You guys recently concluded your tour with Ben Folds and CAKE. How was that experience? Do you have any pre-show rituals? Man, that tour was a real trip. I don’t know if you know, but we weren’t just the opening act on that tour—we were also Ben’s band. What an honor, and how terrifying it was to get that call. Ben Folds, the absolute piano wizard songwriting extraordinaire himself reaching out to little old us asking for our help in bringing his songs to life on a tour. We were huddled around my cell phone in a hotel in Florida when he called. I nearly peed my pants on that hotel carpet as I was like, “Oh, cool. Sure man!” But it was honestly so great. We learned a lot, not just from Ben, but from ourselves. You learn your value and your worth when you’re in that kind of situation. All we ever do is dump 100% of our hearts into our music; that’s all our music really is, but to be able to do that on his songs really made me and I think it made all of us realize the value of that input. To be able to light up a crowd with a backing harmony part or a guitar addition to one of his masterpieces was a rare honor. We’re so grateful to Ben for all that. One thing I love about your music is that it isn’t confined to one genre, but your sound is still distinct. You have described finding your style as “sonic soul-searching” — can you tell us what did that process looked like?

zigzags across the whole damn planet, but when I meet the people after the shows and they tell me about the crazy shit we’re helping them get through with our songs and sound, it’s so, totally validating. That’s why we keep trying to get better, and I guess that’s why we keep pursuing this sound and this voice. The opening lyric to your latest song “Midnight Oil” is “I got pretty colors for your actions,” which is also your album title. Can you explain that lyric for us? In the song, it’s a simple gift from a lover. The desperate protagonist of the song is almost bartering his way through a moment of relationship uncertainty: “Here, let me give you this, so you do this.” That sort of this-for-that, the quid pro quo, on all levels made it stick out as an album title. We liked how it was something small, and we liked thinking of our songs as pretty colors, like a twinkling Christmas tree light or whatever, by thinking of the colors as small, it made the “for your actions” seem small too. In that way, the album is meant for something small as your iPhone speaker in a coffee cup as you do your work in a cubicle. But “actions” is no small word, and neither are colors, you know? If you think about actions on a larger scale: protests, political rallies, working against climate change, fighting a war, not fighting a war, it really scales up the colors. The colors for your actions start to look a little more important in that context. So that’s what it is, pretty colors for your actions.

Thanks for saying so. For us, it’s all about that singular voice. And yeah, sonic soul searching sounds like something we’d say. We’re horrible at describing our sound, haha. But I’m glad we said that, because that’s really where our musical motivation comes from. It’s all about freely offering up our experience both in the studio and in venues around the world, so that we might connect with an individual in an inexplicable way. We’re not rolling in dough, and the truth is this lifestyle ain’t that glamorous: a bunch of stinky dudes driving

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photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


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What has been the biggest lesson you have learned since starting music? Man, we’ve learned so much about life and overcoming challenges and shit. Hard to know where to start there. But I guess the best, easiest way to answer this question is to tell you about the three rules we developed on the road with Tall Heights: rule number one is “stay hydrated,” rule number two is “it doesn’t matter,” and rule number three is “don’t be late.” They started as a joke really, but since we’ve come up with them I’ve been hard pressed to find a time and place where they’re not excessively helpful. I think behind all three rules is the fact that you’re in control and you’re making the choices. As soon as you lose your head and stop driving the van, that’s when the crashes happen. And when you break rule number three, don’t forget about rule number 2. The cover to your newest album is the two of you blindfolded against a close-up of an eye. What was the inspiration behind that? We wanted it to feel like propaganda, like something countercultural that might be plastered to a wall in Berlin or something. Of course the eye, the blindfolds, the colors -- it’s all about what you see or can’t see or won’t see. Who’s looking, who’s being seen, I guess it’s all just supposed to bring a depth and an attitude to the work. How do you stay motivated in the face of rejection? That’s a weird question for me because I don’t want to presume to know how other people feel. I certainly don’t think I know what rejection feels like to anyone other than me. But honestly the way I feel is how do you not feel motivated by failure and rejection? I never have a bigger chip on my shoulder or a deeper hunger for improvement than immediately after getting shot down. I have a fuse that goes off and suddenly I’m not sleeping

because I want to get better and I want it to work next time. In fact, I’d say I’m not a very motivated person under ordinary circumstances, I don’t go out and master new hobbies, I’m more of a dabbler - dabble in this, dabble in that - but for music I can’t stop working and wanting and writing and touring because I think what we’re doing is important and every time we’re not recognized for that I push harder. In a previous interview, you guys mentioned that you write separately and then come together to collaborate. Has there ever been an instance when you were surprised by what the other person showed you? Oh totally, I think that’s really what it’s all about. We write in the morning. I think the start of the day is the time you’re closest to your dreams or something. Milton thought of his morning creative time as milking the cow, a weird graphic metaphor for Tall Heights I guess. But I think the best moments in our collaboration happen when we’re both surprised by the other, “I’ve never heard anything like that,” or “I never thought you’d take it there,” that element of surprise is what we want to find and bottle up inside of songs so a new listener experiences that wonderful sense of discovery while listening to our new music. Why music? Why not other mediums such as film, photography, etc.? Well, Paul was destined to be a musician since before he was born. His grandfather was a concert pianist, his grandmother a cellist -- as Austrian Jews, they both fled to the states during the Holocaust and his grandmother brought her cello with her. His parents are both unbelievable musicians, and so on, so it was never not gonna be music for him. For me, I’m a musician full time for sure, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love and participate in other art forms. I love painting, whittling, writing poetry and writing and I do them all now and again. I guess music was an intersection of a lot of my artistic impulses. Plus I have the rest of my life to paint and write poetry, you’re only young enough to go on tour all year once.

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photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


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The growth of your music has been crazy, from performing on the street to amassing over 130 million streams on Spotify alone. What advice would you give to musicians who haven’t found their audience yet? Or creatives afraid to pursue their dreams? Rule number one, two, and three baby, haha. It’s a weird balance of showing up and working hard, but also detaching yourself from the goals you have. You gotta be happy and content, not anxious and all knotted up. You gotta take care of yourself emotionally and physically; that’s in rules one and two, and then you gotta show up for yourself, rule number three. I also think that asking others what they think is a wonderful process. Find people who will shoot you straight and ask for feedback. Then when you’ve received feedback, chew on it and think about it. It’s okay to reject it, but I’ve always found the process of truly considering and then rejecting someone else’s opinion as highly sharpening. It’s the people who kinda suck and never ask others what they think that never go anywhere. You have discussed your intention to address social issues in your songs, essentially meshing art and politics. Why is raising awareness so important?

Has there been a defining moment for either of you two when music became your life passion? I remember one night street performing years ago when things were getting pretty discouraging. Regardless of the temperature outside or the day of the week, we’d go out to Faneuil Hall Market in Boston and play until we made enough to pay for our recordings, groceries, electricity, and everything else you need money for. As artists we were suffering dearly ‘cause when making money is so imperative, you can easily lose yourself. It turned into nothing but long hours of grueling crowd-pleasing. I confess, we’d even play Wagon Wheel. One evening, however, the sun had just dipped away and the classy-ass exterior illumination around that marketplace had just switched on. It was a beautiful, cool late summer evening and we started playing only our new original tunes. In the twilight, one-by-one the tourists started actually sitting cross-legged on the piazza floor to watch and listen. As we played some new songs in the most understated manner, the crowd grew up past 400 and they loved it. It was no longer busking, it was just a show. That felt like a defining moment to me. It was the night we learned to be artists.

It drives me crazy when people say, “Stick to music.” It has happened a million times on social media, whenever we make any sort of statement that’s not just us playing music. I always see that and I’m like, “What the hell do you think music is?” I think the artist’s role in society is and always has been to observe, document, and comment. I don’t think we’re trailblazers in that regard, I think we’re just working within a millennia-old tradition of not flinching away from the pressing issues of the day.

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You’ve mentioned that your music is inspired by artists such as Regina Spektor and Bon Iver. Besides other musicians, what inspires your songwriting? Right now, we’re still digesting all the lessons we learned from Ben Folds. He’s just such a monster and he taught us a ton about live arrangements and putting together a killer live show. How do you see the music industry changing? In what direction would you like it to shift? I don’t really know much about that, it feels like artistic poison to think about the music industry. It either stresses you out or makes you made, or whatever. Not fun. Something in this industry that isn’t going to change is the human heart, and that’s comforting. We’ll keep working on that, connecting with ours and with others, and then we’ll just keep our fingers crossed on the industry bullshit side of things. What is a quote, mantra, or philosophy that you guys live by? “Strawberry Fields Forever”

KEEP UP WTIH TALL HEIGHTS: Instagram/Twitter: @tallheights Listen to Tall Heights on all streaming platforms

photography by JIMMY FONTAINE @jimmyfontaine1 featuring TALL HEIGHTS @tallheights


gwen swinarton photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz interview by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth


photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


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GWEN SWINARTON interview by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth words by GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz

Meet Gwen Swinarton: a face you might recognize from her popular ASMR videos on YouTube as Gwen Gwiz, or her lifestyle channel, Gwen Gwiz etc. After starting YouTube over a year ago, Gwen never anticipated that her first ASMR video would accumulate such a widespread viewership. Today, her channel has accumulated millions of views, where subscribers can destress, unwind, and fall asleep to her soothing ASMR content. We had the opportunity to talk to Gwen about her journey on YouTube, her recent appearance in the Netflix documentary “Follow This”, and much more. Read on to learn more about Gwen and the start of her channel:

Hi Gwen! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today for Mad Sounds. To start off, could you tell us what a typical day is like for @ GwenGwiz? Hey Giselle! Thanks for having me! So on filming days I typically wake up quite early, around 4 or 5AM. Waking up early allows me to film videos when it’s still relatively quiet outside, as no one likes an ASMR video with honking and sirens in the background! I start by having my coffee and a bite to eat (basically always oatmeal) and feed my cat. Then it’s time to start getting ready, doing my hair, makeup, and setting up equipment and then I try to film at least 2 videos! Afterwards, I’ll edit these, go through my emails, prep videos and scripts, and work on other little bits and pieces. Then I like to end my work day by 8PM and read in bed along with cuddles with my kitty. Some days I end work earlier too, around 5PM, to spend time with my boyfriend.

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On non filming days, I usually let myself sleep in a bit longer, until around 8AM. I follow pretty much the same routine of eating, and going through emails and other work admin. I’ll prep scripts and photoshoots and edit. Time pretty much flies from there and next thing I know it’s time for bed! Some days are also dedicated fully to photoshoots. On those days I typically start off by prepping all the garments and packing, and then the afternoon I’ll be off shooting with my photographer. For those who might not already be familiar with ASMR, could you give our readers a brief description of what ASMR is? Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is basically sounds and visual cues that allow a person to relax and in many cases feel “tingles”. A lot of people turn to ASMR at the end of the day to help


photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


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them relax and fall asleep, or at any point in the day just to calm their mind, especially when dealing with anxiety. I personally love watching ASMR whenever I’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious, or when I’m studying/writing as it helps to focus my mind, but everyone is different! You started your ASMR YouTube channel “GwenGwiz ASMR” over a year ago but have since made hundreds of ASMR videos featuring creative ASMR roleplays, triggers, and more. When did you first become interested in ASMR? I actually got in to making videos in a rather unpredictable way. At the time I was dating a girl who really liked ASMR and she kind of showed me the whole world of it. Around Christmas time, I made her a little video as a gift and uploaded it to youtube so that she could access it no matter where she was. I had absolutely no intentions of anybody else seeing the video, so I was super shocked when other people commented saying that they liked it and wanted to see more! From there, I thought it would be fun to make more videos and see where it took me. And now here I am! Although the ASMR community has existed for years, the recent interest in ASMR has reached brand new heights in mainstream media. Why do you think this is? That’s a really good question, one I have no real idea of the answer. I guess, as with many things, the internet has allowed a vaster and quicker spread of information, so people are just learning and discovering new things now more than ever. As people in mainstream media discover it and see just how popular it is online within the ASMR community, they probably realized it would make for some interesting content. Now with the Netflix documentary, and celebrities trying it out, most people have some idea what ASMR is, which is really cool!

Have you ever experienced backlash for your channel? If so, how have you dealt with criticism? I’m pretty sure every single one of my videos have negative, mean and rude comments, but I’m so used to it now that it doesn’t phase me at all. I usually just ignore them, or block the user if they’re harassing anyone else in the comments. Beyond that, I’ve gotten criticism from people who don’t understand ASMR and view it as sexual. I’ve done my best to try and explain to these individuals what ASMR actually is, but that’s about all I can really do! In time they’ll learn. I actually watched the Netflix documentary “Follow This” where you were featured in its first episode and trailer. Were you surprised or excited to be included in this documentary? I was honestly super surprised! Over a year before the documentary came out, I was approached by a writer at Buzzfeed who said they were working on a video and asked if they could use my footage. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, so I was super shocked when I found out it had been made into a documentary on Netflix! A lot of people in my day to day life have now seen that feature, so it’s been interesting to try and further explain what ASMR is to them, and also been super cool to learn who in my daily life already watch and love ASMR! Alongside your ASMR YouTube channel, you also attended university, created content for an online blog, and post videos on a second channel, “GwenGwiz etc.” of lifestyle, fashion, beauty, veganism, and more. What are your tips for balancing so many platforms as a creative? I’ve definitely struggled with trying to balance it all, but it’s something that I really love to do so I’ve always found a way to make it work! When I was still in school I always made sure that getting my assignments done was my number one priority, and social media came second. I’ve always been a very organized person so I would get all my school assignments done in advance, and planned all my social media content so that I had videos ready

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photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


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to go before I needed them. That way if I was super busy with something unexpected one day, I wouldn’t miss a video upload. I still do that now, and have been pretty rigorous with planning all of my videos. It’s a lot of hard work, hence why I work such long hours. But it’s super rewarding and I absolutely love it. My biggest tip would therefore be organization. Find a way to plan out your time and videos so that everything is always ready when you need it. Also make sure you give yourself enough down time to relax, otherwise you’re pretty much guaranteed to go a little insane and burn out. I always give myself time to read before bed, along with a couple nights a week that I spend with friends and loved ones, where I pretty much don’t look at my phone or the internet at all. Those little detox nights are crucial to me being productive and happy during the work day. What’s your favorite part about creating content for your second channel? How does your second channel differ from the way you conceptualize videos for your ASMR channel? I think my absolute favourite part about my second channel is the freedom of creativity and self expression. I love being able to be my total self on screen, make whatever kind of video I’m in the mood for, and share what I’m loving with my audience. It’s also super fun to read and answer my comments once I post a video. That’s not to say I’m fake in my ASMR videos, but rather than I do need to tone down my personality so that the videos are actually relaxing. A lot of my ASMR videos are also role-plays where I’m acting out a character rather than getting to be myself, however those are in it self is also a lot of fun to do and plan! That’s why I love having both of my youtube channels. Combined I think they’re the perfect outlet to express myself creatively.

Veganism is another topic that you highlight on your second channel. When did you first start going vegan and how has it impacted your life thus far? So I went vegan a little over 5 years ago, basically right after I graduated from high school. Throughout my 4 years of high school I slowly transitioned to veganism, starting with replacing cows milk for almond, then giving up meat, then fish, and then all eggs and dairy. I think I was too young and uneducated to go vegan over night at the time, I would have had no idea what to eat! By changing slowly, I eventually changed my taste buds and go to recipes, so that going vegan became a super easy switch in the end. Being vegan has helped me through so many things. For starters, my health and digestion has really improved, and I find it a lot easier to maintain a healthy body weight with minimal effort as well. It’s also helped me to develop a more spiritual connection to animals and nature, and it’s also really freeing to know I’m not harming any animals with the food I eat every day. Your personal style and fashion videos are some of my favorites. How would you best describe your sense of style? What are some of your favorite clothing stores at the moment? Honestly my style is all over the place! I feel like in the summer it’s a mix of boho and girly chic, and in the winter a bit more grungy and relaxed. My favourite clothing brands/ stores at the moment are The Reformation, For Love & Lemons, Urban Outfitters, Planet Blue, and Princess Polly!

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photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


photography by COURTNEY SEVIER @courtney_sevier featuring GWEN SWINARTON @gwengwiz


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How did you start to develop a more defined sense of style over the years?

What’s one thing that your viewers might not already know about you?

My biggest inspiration is instagram! I follow a lot of amazing bloggers who post some unreal outfits that really push me to be creative and have fun with my clothing. I really like experimenting with new trends and styles, and finding what I feel most comfortable in. Most of the time, my favourite outfits are the ones that are super comfy to wear, but also make me feel pretty and put together! If something is stylish but itchy or awkward to wear, I most likely won’t be wearing it again haha.

I’m sure there’s something, but I’ve no idea what. I’m super open on my channel and I feel like I’ve shared everything there really is to know about me in my videos!

For those wanting to start a creative endeavor such as YouTube or blogging, what’s your biggest advice for getting started?

What’s next for GwenGwiz? Currently prepping for December in which I’ll be posting a video every single day on my ASMR channel! Beyond that I’m just going with the flow for now and hoping for the best. My ultimate goal would be to create my own clothing line, but that’s a few years down the line from now! What is one quote, mantra, or expression that you live by?

Just do it. Be consistent with posting regularly and above all else, have fun. This is not an easy job at all, and you need to love what you’re making or you’re going to struggle to stick with it.

Do whatever makes you happy, as long as it’s not hurting anybody else!

KEEP UP WTIH GWEN: Instagram/Twitter: @gwengwiz YouTube.com/GwenGwiz YouTube.com/gwengwizetc

Be yourself, be honest and genuine with your viewers. If you’re fake, they’ll see right through that. Be responsible with what kind of content you make. Nowadays, there’s too many creators who focus on drama and dangerous tactics to get views, which I think is really irresponsible and not necessary. Be clear with yourself from the start how much information you’re willing to share with the internet. Maybe use a different name, or don’t disclose what city you live in, etc. Whatever you feel you need to be safe. It’s always a good rule of thumb to imagine 5 million people are going to be seeing your videos, even if it’s only 5 to start off with.

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tia liu photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring ALIVIA LEVIE @alivialevie (left) & JUSTINE ELIZABETH @justine.elizabeth_ (right) interview by LEA PORCELLI @leaporcelli


photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring GRIFFIN ARNLUND @griffinarnlund


NO. 29 - THE SELF-MADE ISSUE

TIA

LIU

interview by LEA PORCELLI @leaporcelli words & photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah

Meet Tia Liu: portrait and lifestyle photographer, college student, and overall creative. Sparked by the range of conceptual photography on Flickr a few years back, Tia fell in love with the camera in high school and has been showcasing her talent ever since. While Tia’s style is constantly evolving, one thing remains the same: showcasing the passion and joy of each and every one of her subjects.

To start off, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your education, work, etc.? I’m a 4th year planning on graduating UCLA in the spring with a degree in Psychobiology. I’m from Thousand Oaks, CA, a suburb west of LA but currently live near UCLA. I hope to combine both my marketing experience from photography and my interest in science to pursue marketing in pharmaceuticals, while still continuing portrait and wedding photography on the side. Tell us the story of your first camera: My first camera I received from my dad when I was in 6th grade, but I didn’t really use it that much besides the occasional family vacation landscape photo. In my sophomore year of high school, I got inspired by conceptual photography I found on the site Flickr,

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and instantly fell in love with work by amazing artists such as Rosie Hardy, Rob Woodcox, Elizabeth Gadd, etc. This started my journey with experimenting with portraiture and conceptual work with my friends from school. I started to spend every free moment with my friends shooting for fun, and experimenting and learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. Can you share a bit about how you first fell in love with taking pictures and how it’s affected your life so far? I first started to fall in love with photography from Flickr and many conceptual photographers from around the world. I was obsessed with how ethereal and magical their photos looked and felt transported into another world. I was so captivated by their work that I wanted to see if I could create that same feeling within my work. I started out attempting con-


photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring ALIVIA LEVIE @alivialevie, CHELSEY PECOY @chelseypecoy, (right) KAYLA KANE @kaylakane


photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring MARLA ELIZABETH @marlagaray (left) MARLA CATHERINE @marlacatherine (right)


photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring JACKIE MARIE @jjackiemarie


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ceptual photography which is probably one of the harder styles of photography you would ever imagine starting with. But it pushed me to learn, grow, and experience many different aspects of photography. From there, I realized that conceptual photography was a lot of work, and it wasn’t something I wasn’t too passionate about. I started to connect with models through Instagram, and began to really find my style and passion for portrait and lifestyle work. I love capturing the essence of creativity, passion, and pure joy with the models I work with.

tography was very daunting at first when I entered college. For me, school and studying comes first. I’ve had to turn down some offers to travel or work for a company sometimes when it conflicts with important things such as midterms or finals for my classes. But one of the most important thing is that you have time. You just need to be able to make time for the things you want to do, like photography or modeling or styling. I try to squeeze in shoots throughout the school year, about one or two shoots every two weeks. Sometimes I’ll have a free weekend, and that’s when I would plan some shoots and then maybe grab brunch with friends.

How has your style evolved over the years?

What’s something you would tell students who want to pursue a creative career?

My style is constantly evolving, even at this very moment. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s good to have a general idea of what defines your work, but I also believe in switching things up sometimes, especially if you’re feeling uninspired or unmotivated as a creative. Over the years, I’ve definitely gone from someone who doesn’t understand how to edit or manage my tones, to someone who now does. I used to do a good amount of saturation and contrast, as well as a very moody palette. Then I started to tone down my colors just a little bit, and started to make my photos as bright and as crisp as possible. I’ve now developed a style that is still vibrant, yet can also contain muted colors, especially greens and blues. I used to only shoot during “golden hour”, but now I’ve experimented with all different times of the day that I can adjust my editing style to account for all sorts of lighting situations. As a student, how do you manage to find time to do schoolwork while balancing creative endeavors outside of the classroom, like photography?

I think it’s definitely something that is more popular these days, so if you are fueled by others and your environment to create, I’d say go for it, achieve your dreams. But it’s also a very competitive field of work, so if you can get a college degree so you have something to fall back on, I would highly suggest doing that. It can even be photography or media related, such as media marketing, multimedia design, communications, etc. But I’m definitely not opposed to people working in a creative career, it’s not for everyone but if you believe in yourself, then just go for it. What is it about photography that inspired you to keep creating? Photography is one of my creative outlets that I turn to, and sharing my work on the internet allows me to share my lens of the world with others. I also love connecting with people, being able to bounce ideas or inspiration with others gets me pumped about creating. Meeting other creatives that come from different backgrounds or environments expands my worldview or my perspective on life.

One of my strengths is being able to time manage and prioritize. As a student at a prestigious university with a fast paced workload, trying to fit in extra curriculars in addition to my passion of pho-

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photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring LILY CRISTAL @lilycristal (left) ALEXIA AKER @alexiaaker (right)


photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring HALEY GAUTHIER @haleyngauthier


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Does the passion ever run dry and what are some ways you regain that “spark” when it’s lost? Definitely. There are many times where I feel like my work is repetitive, or that I’m not thinking outside of the box that much, and it’s difficult sometimes to regain my footing. But what keeps me going is honestly all of the support from my friends and my followers. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to go out and shoot, and there are many times where I pronounce my feelings about how I’m unmotivated or not happy with my recent work, and some of my closest friends are always there to give me a more positive outlook on life. Recently, I met one of my followers while I was out and about and she was the sweetest person ever and said that I was one of the first photographers she followed when she started doing photography, and that really means a lot. It pushes me to keep going because I know I’m motivating fellow creators that want to pursue photography for hobby or for career. Who do you look to for inspiration? Is it other photographers, nature, teachers?

for a while, and finally got the chance to meet and she asked if her friend Alivia could come along. I said sure, and we were planning on shooting in some grassy field in a park closer to sunset. But by the time we started the trek through the trails, the sun was already starting to set behind the mountains. We then had the amazing idea of taking photos driving down PCH with the top down in Alivia’s convertible, the tunes blasting as the sun beamed down us. It was such carefree and a genuine moment between friends, the photos are just pure joy and good vibes and it was one of the most fun I’ve had on a shoot in a while. What’s some advice you’d give to those just starting out in the photography world? Honestly, just go for it. Shoot with your friends! Shoot as much as possible, or just bring your camera with you as much as you can. I see creativity in the smallest of things, whether it be changing up the angle of a shot, the framing, or the colors while editing. The more you go out and explore, adventure, and make memories with friends, the more fulfilling a life you will live and the more it will shape your photographic style.

Mostly other photographers and nature. I think on a day to day basis, if I happen to come across someone’s art that is so unique or different, I feel fired up to create something on that level of talent but with my own spin on it. I’m also just a huge fan of Mother Earth and all of her natural beauty. I’m grateful that I am able to travel the world so much during my short two decades of living, and am often inspired by lands far and wide, but also the environment I am currently present. Can you tell us a bit about your favorite shoot or photo you’ve taken so far? One of my favorite shoots recently has to be with my new found friends, Chelsey Pecoy and Alivia Levie. Chelsey and I have been wanting to shoot

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photography by TIA LIU @tea.ah featuring BETHANY MOTA @bethanynoelm


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about your work? Who cares what other people think, do what you want to do, post what you want to post, and create what you want to create. Take risks, and don’t let anyone tell you what to do or what not to do. Do you see your photography and creative style changing in the upcoming years? Definitely. I want to step into the wedding photography world, because I think capturing love and the most important day in someone’s journey is so amazing. But as far as portrait and lifestyle photography, I can still see my creative style changing. Photography isn’t static, the world and people are constantly changing and it’s my responsibility to capture the world around me as I see it. What’s something creative you’re hoping to accomplish soon? I really want to get back into the studio and do another shoot with florals or with exotic fruit. I’ve done one shoot with each product, and two different models, and I just love the editorial feel and how I can work with props that directly emphasize the image. Are there any new projects that you’re excited for and can share with us? We’d love to keep them on our radar! Not too much I can share at the moment, but I hope to be able to announce in the future! Stay tuned!

KEEP UP WTIH TIA: Instagram: @tea.ah tialiu.com


gabriella cohen photography by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth featuring GABRIELLA COHEN @gabriellaacohen


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Gabriella Cohen performed her sophomore album Pink Is the Colour of Unconditional Love​in Downtown Los Angeles at the Moroccan Lounge on October 16th, 2018. With a packed crowd, the show consisted of fuzzsoaked dreamscape melodies including hit tracks: “Baby”, “Sever the Walls”, “I Don’t Feel so Alive”, and more. Her newest album, self-produced alongside the talents of Kate “Babyshakes” Dillon, has embraced the same dreamy indie pop melodies of her highly acclaimed debut record Full Closure and No Details, capturing its sound with a refreshing and unconventional twist--finalized while on a boat in England, the Coast of Portugal, the mountains

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of Southern Italy, the cafes of Mexico, and even, Venice Beach, Los Angeles. NPR describes her album as “Sly, playful pop with a biting edge.” Check out her latest album Pink Is the Colour of Unconditional Love​on all streaming platforms and keep up with Gabriella on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: @ gabriellaacohen.


photography by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth featuring GABRIELLA COHEN @gabriellaacohen


NO. 29 - THE SELF-MADE ISSUE

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photography by GISELLE MELENDRES @gisellelisabeth featuring GABRIELLA COHEN @gabriellaacohen


photography by RILEY TAYLOR @rileytaylor featuring SUEDE BROOKS @suedebrooks

@madsoundsmag


NO. 29 - THE SELF-MADE ISSUE

stay tuned there’s more mad sounds on the way! for information on how to submit to upcoming issues, please visit: madsoundsmagazine.com

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Mad Sounds Issue 29 - Suede Brooks  
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