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mad sounds

MAY/JUNE 2017

a publication for the young and daring

express yourself ISSUE NO. 23


mad sounds a publication for the young and daring

Giselle Melendres Editor-in-Chief, Creative Director, & Designer madsoundsmagazine@gmail.com Contributing Writers Emily Zheng, Lea Porcelli, Chalisa Singh, Rebecca Poole, Giselle Melendres, Sydney Hildebrandt Contributing Photographers Anthony Hudson, Jordan Randall, Regan Norton, Riley Donahue, Aidan Doyle, Calvin Ma, Dillon Ivory A Special Thanks To.... Megan Batoon, Riley Donahue, Lucky Sin, Stephanie Tea, Katie Qian, Dillon Ivory, & Rora Blue

ON THE COVER Photography by Riley Donahue Featuring Megan Batoon


the young & daring

@madsoundsmag www.madsoundsmagazine.com @madsoundsmag


contents


introduction 009 a letter from the editor editorials 010 all that matters by JORDAN RANDALL 020 summer daze by REGAN NORTON 032 all in white by ANTHONY HUDSON think pieces 044 art is not dead, but different by EMILY ZHENG features 048 Meet Megan Batoon: Content Creator 064 Rora Blue Visual Artist 078 Katie Qian Fashion Stylist 090 Dillon Ivory Photographer music 104 Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams Album Review photography RILEY DONAHUE featuring MEGAN BATOON


photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


NO. 23 — EXPRESS YOURSELF

express yourself MEGAN BATOON

RILEY DONAHUE Spring is finally here, which means it’s time for us to release our May issue, Issue 23: “Express Yourself”. This issue centers around the theme of self-expression, a topic which has been a continuing theme within our publication, but one that we have not dedicated an entire issue to...until now. For our May issue, I felt it was only appropriate to highlight a handful of artists within varying fields of creativity, from dance and video creation, to fashion styling and visual arts, the common theme in which all of our featured creatives share is an ongoing passion for expressing oneself through their art. Our cover star, Megan Batoon, inspired this idea of self-expression as she took us through the journey of her career as a professional dancer, content creator, actress, and YouTube

sensation. In our interview with her on page 48, we sat down to chat about all of these ideas surrounding self-expression: the creative processes, challenges as a creative, and even Megan’s upcoming projects. We’ve also had the pleasure of working with some inspiring artists: Rora Blue, the creator of “The Unsent Project” visual artist, Katie Qian, a Los Angeles based fashion stylist (and generally just one of the coolest gals you’ll meet), and Dillon Ivory, a Pacific Northwest based photographer. In Issue 23 of Mad Sounds we’re challenging you to express yourself in any way you can. Start a passion project, explore a new city, push your creative boundaries, and express yourself in beautiful, courageous ways. Always be bold, passionate, and unapologetically yourself, and I hope you find that inspiration within this issue of Mad Sounds. Happy Spring!

Giselle Melendres Founding Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director

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all that matters photography JORDAN RANDALL / @imjordanrandall featuring ISAIAH GRIPPER / @isaiahgripper


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photography JORDAN RANDALL / @imjordanrandall featuring ISAIAH GRIPPER / @isaiahgripper (right) featuring NATALIE DEPEREZ / @nataliedeperez (left)


photography JORDAN RANDALL @imjordanrandall featuring CHRISTINE WILSON @stinewilson


photography JORDAN RANDALL / @imjordanrandall featuring ISAIAH GRIPPER / @isaiahgripper (left) featuring NATALIE DEPEREZ / @nataliedeperez (right)


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photography JORDAN RANDALL @imjordanrandall featuring CHRISTINE WILSON @stinewilson


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summer daze photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel


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photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


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photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


032 photography ANTHONY HUDSON / @t_huddy / featuring MOLLY KUCERA / @mollyrose415


all in white photography ANTHONY HUDSON / @t_huddy featuring MOLLY KUCERA / @mollyrose415 Scout Models


mad sounds editorials

photography ANTHONY HUDSON featuring MOLLY KUCERA

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photography ANTHONY HUDSON featuring MOLLY KUCERA


photography ANTHONY HUDSON / @t_huddy / featuring MOLLY KUCERA / @mollyrose415


photography ANTHONY HUDSON / @t_huddy featuring MOLLY KUCERA / Scout Models


photography ANTHONY HUDSON featuring MOLLY KUCERA


mad sounds editorials

photography ANTHONY HUDSON featuring MOLLY KUCERA

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mad sounds think pieces

art is not dead, but different written by EMILY ZHENG photography by REGAN NORTON featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN

“I wish that finding the answer to your emotions was as easy as looking at the stars. But then again, what lies in the sky is mystifying as are your feelings; while we may never uncover the enigmas of the cosmos, I believe in you to resolve the wreckage that currently is your heart. I cannot tell you how to stop loving, and I don’t necessarily think you should stop. Only that you should redirect the love, give it a new color, take care of it more, towards a new and healthier path.” Confession: I think emails are an art form. For the past year, I’ve been regularly sending my friends emails - borderline short novels - about everything from my passion for poetry to humorous stories about my dating life. Sometimes, my thoughts are meaningful like the above quote, but other times, I start off with, “Warning: This is going to be a detail-oriented, juicy email so strap your seat belts in because it’s going to be a wild ride.” I’ve converted my incredulous friends who once doubted emailing as an effective communication medium -- now giddily anticipating the next installment of Emily’s newest existential crisis. What I love the most about writing these messages is the clarity I get from so thoroughly explaining my emotions on a certain subject. Unloading all of my unfiltered thoughts to a computer screen is ca-

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thartic. Most of my words are tinged with sarcasm rather than poetry, but emails have truly become one of my favorite modes for storytelling, my messy, raw way of self-expression. I just love how real it is; there’s no expectation to be polished or even coherent. There are only my wild feelings and my friends’ unyielding support for my happiness. Emails have become my second home, my refuge for all the crazy in my life. An unconventional medium for discussing topics like hook-up culture and domestic violence, but this is simply my approach to self-expression. I would not have my messages with the subject line “eligible bachelor until age 80” any other way. My love for emails had me wondering about all the other “strange” ways people convey their emotions: performance art, slam poetry, even Korean artist JeeYoung Lee who transforms her studio into disturbing scenes from her dreams. There is no standard for how you should create art. It’s about finding how you want to tell your narrative and tackling that viscerally, with the same might in your chest that tells you to breath. Sometimes, that means spontaneously busting in a collaborative poem via text with my friend Katy. Other times, it’s writing handwritten letters for someone I love and kissing until my brain goes fuzzy and exchanging


secrets under the moonlight. It’s living, with a glass heart and bulletproof resilience. I’ve always associated color with emotion: a pale yellow for nostalgia, tangerine for optimism, a glowing red for thrill. Coupled with my fascination for set designers, I wrote a poem about portraying the relationship of an artist and writer through space, how their rooms change as their love festers and eventually dissipates.The piece was about how I would design their rooms to show the progression of their love. I used my color-feeling association to depict how the girl’s artwork shifts with her mental state; at the height of her joy, she paints what she thinks love looks like: explosions of every color overlapping, begging to jump off the canvas. Once her relationship ends, she dunks her piece into black dye. It’s a cryptic poem with connections only I fully understand, but that’s why it’s so special to me. Art doesn’t need to be created with an audience in mind. It’s when you let all of your quirks flourish that your work become the lighthouse you didn’t know you needed. Do not doubt the thunder in your voice. There is something glass-shattering to the way you express yourself, all the words spilled that feel like acts of survival. Art is alive, and she loves the way you embrace poetry, sculpture, film, vulnerability, courage, feeling. She takes your hand and whispers, “Go,” like an omen, like all the possibilities of what could be if you just opened up your heart. And you do, and maybe you’re afraid, but this is what it means to be an artist. This is what it means to create, to grieve, to rejoice. This is what it means to be alive.


“There is something glass-shattering to the way you express yourself, all the words spilled that feel like acts of survival. Art is alive, and she loves the way you embrace poetry, sculpture, film, vulnerability, courage, feeling.”

photography REGAN NORTON @reganscamera featuring KYRA WENNERSTEN @kyranickel clothing URBAN OUTFITTERS


megan batoon photography RILEY DONAHUE / featuring MEGAN BATOON hair by STEPHANIE TEA / makeup by LUCKY SIN interview by CHALISA SINGH


048 hair by STEPHANIE TEA @stephteazehair / makeup by LUCKY SIN @makeupbylucky

photography RILEY DONAHUE @rileyjdonahue / featuring MEGAN BATOON @meganbatoon

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megan batoon written by CHALISA SINGH photography by RILEY DONAHUE

Dancing to NSYNC in her grandmother’s living room to making an appearance in Step Up Revolution, Megan Batoon is showing others that they can pursue anything they desire if they put their mind to it. Expanding her passion for dance to YouTube, Megan has accumulated over 50 million views on her channel where she uploads choreography videos, comedy sketches, cooking tutorials, DIYs, and vlogs that allow her fans to indulge in her fun personality and sense of humor. Being dedicated to her fans, she is always coming up with innovative ideas and content while pushing creative boundaries. She also runs her own style blog, meganbatoon.com, where she shares her fashion sense and tips with her fans. Not to mention, she is a part of Fullscreen’s series, Making Moves, playing the character of on-camera vlogger Bridget whose YouTube gossip channel focuses on the dance celebrities of Los Angeles. Being a triple-threat dancer, actress, and YouTuber, Megan chats with us today as to how she manages to juggle it all, her creative process, challenges, and her upcoming projects! Hi Megan, thank you for chatting with us here today at Mad Sounds! To get started, can you tell us what it’s like to live a day in the life of Megan Batoon? Think lots of ideating, emailing, filming, editing, laughing, texting, eating, and thinking. I always have at least two projects going on at the same time, so I’ll dedicate a fair chunk of my day to developing those ideas whether it’s a script, a video edit or dance choreography. There isn’t much free time, but if I do find some evening hours, I love to go to comedy shows in LA, my favorite place being Largo at the Coronet. They have the most incredible shows and it’s in such an intimate setting, if you’re in the back, you could still hear the

comedians without a microphone. Every night before bed, I try and learn as much as possible so I’ll start googling a few words that I’ve written down throughout the day that I heard on a podcast or read in a book that I don’t know and will go down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia links, fall asleep with the new knowledge rattling around in my brain, wake up and start it all over again. What a world! You have been dancing since you were really young. Do you remember the exact moment you fell in love with dancing and performing? I started performing little dance numbers with my cousins for our parents any time we all got in the same room for as long as I can remember. There’s

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photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


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home video tapes of us background dancing to NSYNC in our grandmother’s living room. I’ve always loved creating, whether it was art, dance, videos on my huge camcorder back in the 90’s, as long as I was making something, I was happy. I’m not sure if there was a distinctive moment, I think being of Filipino descent, I just instinctively love performing. What style of dance do you prefer? The type of dance I do is called Urban Choreography and I will always choose that; to watch, to create, to perform, it has the biggest potential to amalgamate so many different dance styles into something that ends up being completely its own. I think it’s incredibly smart and enigmatic with the possibilities of how to make a song visual being endless. You started off by posting choreography videos on your YouTube channel. How and when did you decide to branch out to more personality/ lifestyle videos? I became interested in expanding my personality when I moved to Los Angeles and fell into a group of friends who all created comedy videos on YouTube. After being in a few of their videos, I loved the idea of using your words, something that we don’t do while dancing, in order to create a story or make people feel a certain way. I was really scared to put out my first ‘non-dance’ video because anyone that had subscribed was there for the dancing. That’s why whenever I posted a dance video, I added a sketch comedy element so that I could almost ease people into personality-only videos. You’ve had your channel for six years now. How would you say your channel has evolved? Wow, in almost every way that it could, I feel like it’s grown. It started as a place where I put videos

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of dance classes I would substitute, then graduated to doing more conceptual dance videos, into comedic cooking series, sketch comedy, and now this lifestyle-dance-how to-comedy center for people to get a little bit of everything that I’m interested in. From a consistency standpoint, I went from uploading whenever I taught, to every now and then, to once a week and now I’m at twice a week. Here’s to more growth! Where do you find inspiration for your videos? Depending on the type of video, most of the inspiration just somewhat appears. If it’s a dance video, chances are I heard the song on a random Spotify playlist and dreamt up a premise and ran with it. For the cooking series, I usually try to take something ordinary and familiar and make it non-ordinary and foreign but still enticing to eat. So far everything has turned out not only edible, but pretty darn good too. Your website, meganbatoon.com, is a creative space for you to express and share your style with your fans. What was your main goal when creating and launching this style blog? The reason for the blog is two-fold. I get asked fairly frequently where my outfits are from and instead of replying separately with all of the items, I figured that there was a better and more creative way to give people answers. I knew the fashion world was already structured and I’d be coming from left field so I put my own spin on it with my touch of humor in every blurb. The other half of the reason is because one day I’d love to have my own collection of travel goods, decor, fashion pieces, candles, you name it in a store like Target and I thought a consistent style blog would assist in opening up a door down that path.


“I try and give people art to make them feel, jokes to make them laugh, ideas to make them think. The message I hope they take away from all of it as that we are all learning and enduring all of this world together, that none of us are alone.� -Megan Batoon

photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


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Whether it’s making content for YouTube, Instagram, or your website, how would you describe your creative process?

your mental state. Nothing happens overnight, because people have to put in countless hours into their craft and also into their well-being.

A lot of scrutiny. Nothing is done without thinking very hard about it. I first get a rudimentary idea from somewhere in the air, let it collect subideas of how it would escalate and when I’m finally ready to make some of the ideas permanent, that’s when I’ll open up a scriptwriting program or book studio space. From there, it’s countless hours of trial and error. It takes me an incredible amount of time to create sketch comedy or choreography because there is a lot of back and forth of me asking myself, “Could this be better? Could this be smarter?” I think second guessing too much is absolutely a bad thing, but I have found a lot of my favorite parts of projects I’ve done have come from a double take.

With the content that you create and share with your followers, what is the takeaway message you want to give your fans?

Being a dancer, actress, and YouTuber, how do you manage to juggle all three careers? A very detailed calendar has helped me tremendously. I fill up my entire month right before it starts with a blueprint of the different facets I maintain and make sure that they all have a presence. I don’t want to be known as just “the dancer” or “the YouTuber” because I do so much more than that. I’m kind of on this Donald Glover trajectory (in embryo) where I want to do it all so I do my best to keep each craft present on its own while co-existing with the others. What are some challenges that you had to overcome when pursuing your dreams and aspirations? I had to learn how to say no. To other people, to myself, to my subconscious. When you’re starting to do a new thing, you automatically want to say yes to everything and a lot of times you should. What I’ve learned after a while is that you are allowed to say no in order to focus on your work and

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I try and give people art to make them feel, jokes to make them laugh, ideas to make them think. The message I hope they take away from all of it as that we are all learning and enduring all of this world together, that none of us are alone. What advice do you have for those who want to follow their passions but are too afraid to? You will never be as young as you are now. We all wish we started “x” amount of years ago, don’t get to the point where your number gets too high to where you can’t even try to pursue your passion. Are there any upcoming projects or exciting news that we should keep our eyes peeled for that you would like to share with us? My channel youtube.com/meganbatoon has two videos per week and that’s not going anywhere anytime soon so if you’re into comedy, dance, cooking, or anything in between, come on over! I also update my blog meganbatoon.com weekly where I tackle my OOTD’s with some very relatable blurbs. I also teamed up with Target again earlier this year to promote their 2017 swim assortment by participating in their #TargetSwim digital and social campaign. It was such an amazing experience. I love working with brands that promote such a strong message of celebrating diversity and claiming confidence in oneself.


photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


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photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


Now for some random questions! West coast or east coast? I hope I don’t get any flack for this, as much as I love visiting home, California has got my interest. West Coast! Full House or Friends? Friends Sushi or pizza? SUSHI SUSHI SUSHI SUSHI. I hope people read that as a panicked screaming, because that’s how avid I am about my answer. What is one thing that you cannot live without? Laughing

Keep up with Megan: Instagram/Twitter: @meganbatoon youtube.com/meganbatoon meganbatoon.com


photography RILEY DONAHUE / featuring MEGAN BATOON hair by STEPHANIE TEA / makeup by LUCKY SIN


rora blue photography AIDAN DOYLE / featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD interview by LEA PORCELLI


photography AIDAN DOYLE / featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD

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photography AIDAN DOYLE featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD


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meet rora blue written by LEA PORCELLI photography by AIDAN DOYLE

Meet Rora Blue: a young, California creative who took over the internet with The Unsent Project. The Unsent Project focuses on the things left unsaid and unsent to our first loves and seeks to figure out what color we see love in. With over 34,000 submissions, Blue has been busy sorting through heartbreaking, humorous, and honest messages, all of which we have most likely considered sending to our first loves. Blue’s project has inspired many to seek out their creative passions and turn them into something physical to share with the world. Learn more below as Blue goes into the depths of The Unsent Project, and uncovers what is next in her creative pursuits.

Hi Rora, thanks for sitting down with us today at Mad Sounds. Can you walk us through a day in your life, maybe while you were working on “The Unsent Project?” Thank you so much for having me! I start every day by sorting through Unsent Project submissions. It takes quite a bit of time- I get between 50 and 200 new submissions everyday. Initially, I go through and clear out the duplicates and errors. Then, I will read each one individually and pull out messages for collages and social media. Afternoons usually consist of emails, planning, and studio time. Right now, that means cutting out hundreds of Unsent Project submissions for the big collages that I’m working on. I love squeezing in a yoga class or reading a book to give my brain a break. I am also a huge fan of sushi and bubble

baths. After dinner, I start working again until 11 or 12 at night. I use that time to finish whatever I didn’t get to during the day. I am definitely a night owl and usually get my best work done during that time. “The Unsent Project” blew up on social media. How did the idea come to mind? Was it inspired by something specific, or just the idea of love in general? The project is inspired by a whole bunch of things. Mark Rothko’s color field paintings are a huge inspiration. When you stand in front of one of his paintings, you are completely engulfed by color. It is interesting how different emotions come up depending on what color you are looking at. His paintings lead me to think about the relationship

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THE UNSENT PROJECT by RORA BLUE photography by AIDAN DOYLE


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between color and emotion. I experience people and emotions as certain colors. I wanted to see if other people experience the same thing through the Unsent Project. Beyond my curiosity about color, I was fascinated with how universal love is. No matter where you live or what language you speak most people have had the experience of loving someone. I felt inspired to create a space for people to connect with each other over that common experience. For someone who is not familiar with the project, how would you explain its purpose and the process of putting all of the submissions together? The Unsent Project is a collection of unsent text messages to first loves. People submit messages to me on my website and they are published in an archive there. I also create large collages out of the submissions. The purpose of the Unsent Project is to provide an outlet for people to express themselves anonymously. Putting all of the submissions together online was quite an intense process. I have over 34,000 submissions and I sorted through all of them by myself. I categorized each submission by name and color. It took me about 6 months and the result is a wonderful web based archive. Users can now search for certain names in the archive and browse specific colored messages. It is extremely exciting for me because I am able to to start looking at the correlation between color and emotion in the messages. What was the goal for the project? What specific reaction or emotion did you aim to spark in your audience? My goal for the Unsent Project is to find out what color people see love in. I designed the project so that the submissions are typed onto whatever color the submitter associates their first love with. With my new archive, I am able to see how many submissions there are of each color. It turns out that the number of different colored submis-

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sions is very disproportionate. Dark blue and light blue have more submissions than 10 other colors combined; it’s completely mind blowing. Reading through the messages, I have felt every emotion possible. The messages are funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and everything in between. I hope that my audience feels that wide range of emotion when they read the messages too. In a world dominated by technology, relationships often rely on digital communication. What role did this play in the project? For a lot of people, text messaging has become the modern day love letter. People pour their hearts out to each other over text. On the other side of that, there are the texts people don’t send. I think we have all done it - typed out a long message only to backspace the entire thing and replace it with something generic like, “okay.” Those are the texts that I am interested in. I created the Unsent Project to give those texts a home. Do you think that relationships are weakened or strengthened by the use of technology and its role in connecting two people? I think that technology can be both harmful and beneficial in relationships. It is much easier to say something hurtful over text than it is in person. There is also a lot of miscommunication that can happen because body language and face-to-face connection is lost. However, technology can also be a wonderful tool for communication especially for people in long distance relationships. Personally, I love sending my boyfriend pictures of cute dogs while he is at work. I think as long as technology doesn’t replace all forms of communication, it’s a plus. A handwritten love letter sealed with a kiss can never be re-created through a screen.


mad sounds features

IM HERE IF YOU NEED ME by RORA BLUE

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photography AIDAN DOYLE featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD


photography AIDAN DOYLE featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD


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THIS IS NOT A DREAM by RORA BLUE

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What advice would you give to people who have a creative idea or project in mind, but don’t know quite how to set it in motion? It is okay to be unsure about how to complete a project. At first, the Unsent Project seemed impossible. My advice is to trust yourself, trust your idea, and just start. Even if you are not sure exactly how to execute it, start somewhere and you will evolve from there. I think a lot of times taking that first step is the hardest part. If your idea seems too big to accomplish, try doing one small thing every day to work on it. Over time, those small things will add up and eventually you will achieve your goal. You seem to be a very visually creative person. How do you manage to incorporate creativity in your daily life, even with balancing school and other responsibilities? I think there is an opportunity to be creative in almost everything we do. When I’m too busy to work in my studio, I’ll find small ways to be creative when I’m out and about. It can be something as small as writing in my journal before class starts or closing my eyes while listening to a song and painting a picture in my head. I think the ideas that come to you in those small moments manifest into bigger themes over time. Eventually, those themes become the series that I work on in my studio. I would say that the day-to-day mind wandering is just as essential to the process as the planning and execution. It doesn’t take a lot of time to be creative it just takes a passion and a willingness to open your mind. You said that you named yourself “Rora Blue” because you’ve always seen love at the color blue. Why do you think blue has a sad connotation if so many people in “The Unsent Project” agree with you? Rora Blue is the name I decided to start creating art under two years ago. There was a lot of thought

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and meaning that went into the name and seeing love in blue was certainly a component. I see emotions and people as different colors- something that is also referred to as synesthesia. Blue has always been the one color that can express both the purest happiness and the deepest sadness. No other color has that same range of emotion for me. Naturally, I find it the best color to represent love- something that has the power to simultaneously break you and bring you joy. When I read the blue Unsent Project submissions, I see a reflection of that. The subject matter is very wide ranging. There are blue messages expressing deep admiration, light hearted thoughts, and horrible heartache. I would say that the black submissions are consistently about sadness and heartbreak, but not blue. I find it interesting that most people associate love with a hue of blue, like me. I’m not sure what it means, but I hope to find out as I continue this project. What’s the next creative project on the horizon for Rora Blue? Was it inspired by “The Unseen Project’s” success? I have two new series planned for the immediate future. One examines gender roles and the impact they have on men. The other reimagines chronic illness as something glamorous. I’m also working on designing my own clothing, which is very exciting and new for me. As always, I will continue developing the Unsent Project. I am working on a book and a series of very large solid color collages. Lots and lots to come- stay tuned.

Keep up with Rora: Instagram/Twitter: @rorablue rorablue.com


mad sounds features

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photography AIDAN DOYLE featuring RORA BLUE styling by SHOP OLD GOLD


katie qian photography by CALVIN MA interview by GISELLE MELENDRES styling by KATIE QIAN


079 photography by CALVIN MA @cmaera interview by GISELLE MELENDRES / styling by KATIE QIAN


photography CALVIN MA / @cmaera styling KATIE QIAN / @katieqian


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meet katie qian written by GISELLE MELENDRES photography by CALVIN MA

You might recognize the work of Katie Qian--whether it be in Playboy, XOXO, Local Wolves, or even our recent cover for Mad Sounds, Katie’s eye for bold, playful, and unique high fashion styling has put her in an unparalleled creative spotlight. Based in sunny Los Angeles, Katie is a full-time student and fashion stylist for editorial, commercial, lifestyle, and celebrity shoots--and her grind doesn’t just stop there. Normal days for Katie include pulling clothing from showrooms, attending dance practice, filming YouTube lookbooks, and styling for influencers like Madison Beer, Jenn Im, Claudia Sulewski, and many more. We were lucky enough to chat with Katie today about her journey into the styling world: how she got her start, her inspirations for both her personal and editorial styling, and the ways in which style has become a vital form of creative expression. Read our interview to learn more about Katie Qian and the reasons why she’s a creative to watch. Hi Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us here at Mad Sounds today. To start off, can you tell us about a day in the life of Katie Qian? Hi Giselle! Thanks for having me, it means a lot! A day in my life is honestly super hectic, I’m a total workaholic and night owl. First, I’ll usually wake up and go to class (I’m a psychology student at UCLA). After that, I’ll either do pulls or returns for shoots/projects I’ve been working on, which consists of driving around LA in traffic for a few hours at a time and visiting showrooms and designers. In the evening, I practice with my dance team, ACA hip hop, from around 8pm to 2am or later. Then I’ll go home, do homework, sleep and repeat!

You’re currently based in Los Angeles, what are some of your favorite things about living in L.A.? Do you have any favorite spots in the area? When I first moved to LA I totally hated it. I’m originally from San Diego so I grew up in the most laid back, sunny and sleepy city with amazing Mexican food and basically nothing to complain about. LA, in contrast, gave me so much anxiety with all the driving and impossible parking and complicated personality types. However, I’ve grown to love it here after 2 years and I don’t picture myself leaving anytime soon. I still have a lot more exploring to do, but I love all the different parts of LA and how they all have a different vibe-there’s something for everyone. I would kill to move somewhere like Echo Park and Silverlake

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photography CALVIN MA styling KATIE QIAN


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after I graduate! One of my favorite things about LA is definitely the diversity--I’ve really taken it for granted having grown up in Southern California, but just seeing people of all races and nationalities every day is super special and something you don’t get in a lot of other areas! Definitely having a really strong Asian American community to connect with has been super important to me as well in coming to terms with my racial and ethnic identity. Also, I love the passion of everyone out here. It really amazes me sometimes how many young creatives are struggling for the same thing--living in LA as a kid with a big dream and having similar people surround me is something I’ll never forget, even if I don’t become successful in what I’m doing right now. As for favorite spots, I love Little Tokyo, Silverlake Ramen, northside LBC, all the museums and cool exhibits downtown, Melrose Ave, and anywhere with easy parking. How did you first discover your passion for styling and fashion in general? I get this question often and I honestly really can’t remember when I first became interested in fashion. I always dressed awfully as a kid (chocolate brown gauchos anyone?) and I really think I became inspired via Tumblr and YouTube at a young age! I started out watching a lot of outfit videos and I remember loving Jenn Im--ironically I have styled her a couple times now, and once for the last cover of Mad Sounds--and I started thrifting and being interested in creating a personal style for myself. One of my best friends, Calvin, (he actually shot these photos) convinced me during my sophomore year in high school to start a Tumblr blog. It was totally teen angst-y but mixed in was a discovery of high fashion and fashion photography. I remember volunteering at the local hospital at this time and stealing pages from the communal fashion magazines. Being completely in awe of those glossy pages started to get me interested into styling. I contacted some local stylists in San Diego about interning and met up with Aimee Bradley, then at Bruxley style, to learn all about styling photoshoots. Of course, it was a completely different ball game out in San Diego than it is out here, so once I moved I had to re-

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teach myself everything. I was 15 at the time, and it’s been a long and frustrating road for sure, but so rewarding. Can you walk us through the process of styling; how do you start to put together a look? What pieces do you gravitate towards? I usually start by working off of a provided moodboard, whether it be for a photoshoot or client. I get the vibe of the look the project is going for, and then I make pull appointments at different showrooms that carry designers that would match the style. When I’m pulling, I definitely gravitate toward anything with a funky texture, weird color combinations and patterns, faux fur, fun/different silhouettes, etc. I personally love a youthful, bold style that is still sophisticated and elegant, but again it depends on the project! I just pick out all the pieces that stand out to me and then I’ll assemble looks after I’ve finished pulling--usually by taking a statement piece and then supplementing the look with other pieces. Where do you find your inspiration for styling? Where do you find inspiration for your personal style? This is a hard one that I also get asked a lot. I would definitely say magazines--Calvin and I would go to Barnes and Noble once a month just to sit there and read all the new issues and see all the editorials. My favorites are UK publications, i-D, Dazed and Confused, Wonderland. I’m really drawn to the London look/style in general. My favorite stylists are Edward Enninful (I believe he was just made EIC at British Vogue) and Alastair McKimm. I die for Rihanna’s style, love some bloggers like Sita Abellan, Clair Bai, etc. For my own style I kind of just like wearing really baggy rap tees, baggy jeans, comfortable statement pieces. That being said, music is probably the biggest influence on my own wardrobe! I love 90’s and early 2000’s soul and hip hop, and I think the vintage and hip hop thing is definitely a theme in my style.


photography CALVIN MA / @cmaera styling KATIE QIAN / @katieqian


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“Putting my energy into hustling and working was the only way I could turn my negative emotions into something productive and beautiful.�

photography CALVIN MA styling KATIE QIAN


NO. 23 — EXPRESS YOURSELF

Do you have any personal style icons that you feel influence your personal style or work? Rihanna. Surprisingly Bella Hadid is coming up too, she’s dope. You’ve also started a YouTube channel filled with tons of great style tips, outfit inspiration lookbooks, hauls, and more. What made you want to start a YouTube channel? Wow, didn’t think you’d know about that! Thank you! I was actually a YouTuber at age 12 and I made really embarrassing videos about American Girl Dolls, it got super popular (don’t ask why) and I guess I always felt like it was natural for me after that. At the moment I don’t really make consistent videos or anything but I feel like I should keep going with it. I’m currently trying to find a way to really make my channel really unique--I think that’s the only way I’ll find the passion to keep putting out more content. What’s your biggest advice for those wanting to re-build or refine their wardrobe? I would say it has to start with being a good shopper. If you only buy pieces you like and feel confident in, it’s hard to reach into your wardrobe and put something on that’s not dope. I change up my style a lot, and I always sell my clothes and repurchase according to a mood or look I have in my head. Our 23rd issue of Mad Sounds is all about self-expression and creative outlets. How has your passion for styling and creating served as a platform for self-expression? I only started styling in high school as an outlet--I was definitely going through a lot at the time and struggled with anxiety and depression for years. Putting my energy into hustling and working was the only way I could turn my negative emotions into something productive and beautiful. It really gave me a sense of purpose back then, as it continues to today. I’ve also always thought that per-

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sonal style was an essential part of self-expression, even if you completely disconnect yourself from the fashion world (The Devil Wears Prada “cerulean” scene, anyone?) I remember a lot of things in my life via the outfits I wear. This sounds really pretentious but certain memories do become tied to certain pieces and I find that really important to me. Of course, it’s not always that deep--always wearing whatever I want has honestly been a huge source of empowerment for me as a woman, and it simply makes me feel good. What are some of your favorite style trends at the moment? What are some of your least favorite? Favorites: big ass sleeves, skater style (big hoodies, skate shoes), vintage sneakers (FILA, Air Max 95’s, Nike Cortez), goth/punk-chic, hoops, gold, industrial looking belts, Gucci slides Least Favorites: don’t have very many, but flames (was cool, gotta go soon)


mad sounds features

Now onto some random questions. If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which would it be? This is too tough--To Pimp A Butterfly, Ego Death, or The Essential Sade Do you have any summer essentials? Organix Moroccan Sea Salt hair spray, L’oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Waterproof mascara, oversized t-shirts, bralettes, mini skirts Vintage or designer? Vintage Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist Summer or winter clothing? Winter Three words to describe yourself: Cancer, Introvert, Hustler

Keep up with Katie: Instagram: @katieqian/@seppuki YouTube: Katie Qian www.katieqian.com

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dillon ivory photography DILLON IVORY interview by REBECCA POOLE


photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring MARYN WORHACZ (left) & MAYAH N. HATCHER (right)


photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring JOCELYN BOURLIE / @jocelynraebourlier


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meet dillon ivory written by REBECCA POOLE photography by DILLON IVORY

Unique is a term tossed around a lot these days. Most people on social media are busy blend-

ing in with the trends while simultaneously trying to let their individuality shine. Dillon Ivory

encompasses this term to its full potential, choosing to embrace the latter. Currently living in Seattle, this Pacific Northwest native shoots to the beat of his own drum. No photo tells the same story or has the same feeling attached to it. After talking to Dillon about his body of

work and where he gets inspiration from, it’s clear that he makes the most out of photoshoots by getting to know the person in front of the camera, and making sure that distinct person-

ality leaps off the photo. It’s this attention to detail mixed with his curious and personable

approach to photography that makes Dillon a truly unique force. Read on to hear about his dream brand, the moment that made him realize his passion for photography, and what he really thinks about social media.

Hi Dillon! Thanks for chatting with Mad Sounds today. Can you talk us through a typical day in the life for Dillon Ivory? Well there really isn’t too much of a typical day for me anymore but that’s the part of the job I love. It can consist of editing photos, shooting, practicing poses in the mirror (sometimes for too long) so I can show models what my thought process is for the shoot. And then in between all of that I’ll be running around the city, playing with my roommate’s dog, Lulu, and dance around my room to not go crazy from staring at the screen all day. How did you first get into photography? I actually got into photography as a way to escape design for a bit. I was spending way too much of

my time in front of a computer screen and I finally got to switch it up. If it wasn’t for a friend of mine, I probably would still be rotting away and letting work overtake my life. What is your favorite aspect of taking photos? Playing around with the lighting, the environment, the people you work with…? The part I enjoy most about taking photos is getting to work with people. Most of the time, I’m working with new clients and shoots only last about an hour. That means I have an hour to get to know them and figure out who they are as a person and how to get that to come across on camera in a genuine way. It’s a new challenge for each person I work with and it never gets boring.

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photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring NIKIA/ @madmavenstyle


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You’re currently based in Seattle after living in Arizona, can you tell us what you love most about each city? Leaving! That sounds harsh, but it definitely isn’t meant to be a negative. I think that leaving the city after a while is the best thing for me because each time I come back, I have a newfound love for the city and I end up getting reinspired by it. I guess that super cliche saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, isn’t so cheesy after all. It’s cliche because it’s true. What about Seattle made you want to live there? Are there any favorite spots so far you’d recommend to visitors? Actually, I ended up moving up to Seattle on accident. I went to school for graphic design and I got a job up here right after graduation. Things didn’t end up working out in the end, and I ended up just leaving the design world and started pursuing photography full time. But that being said, I have found a lot of favorite spots. My favorite little food place is Lost Lake. It’s open 24 hours and has the most amazing cheese curds! The volunteer park conservatory is the place I go when I am missing the Southwestern tropical plants because that’s all they have there and I’m in love. My favorite bar to take my friends when they come visit is Flatstick Pub. I mean, it’s a mini golf bar. How has a change of scenery affected your body of work as a photographer? I don’t know if it’s the change of scenery or being in a new city where I knew no one that’s affected my body of work. It’s made me break out of my comfort shell and helped me get to know the city, know the community, and start to build a name for myself here. The community here is small, but everyone seems to know everyone and it’s nice being able to make friends that push you to grow as a creative.

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Where do you go or what do you turn to for inspiration? The first thing I do is just go downtown for hours on end and just look around. I’ve found that being where all the people are is the best way to pick up on which fashion trends are current and which ones are dying out. Another thing I like to do is make food. I look at recipes and then I make them because I’ve found that I really like re-creating color stories from my meals. Is there a specific moment that you look back on as the time where you thought “this is what I want to do for a living”? Well when I graduated I had no dreams of pursuing photography as a career, and the design world wasn’t exactly lining up for me, so I thought I would try making my way into the photography world. The first shoot I organized all by myself with hair, makeup, the model, location, and styling. I was nervous the whole entire shoot and ended up being scared that the photos weren’t going to be worth it for everyone involved. After I took a day to calm down from the sensory overload, I looked at the images and realized that those images were the ones that I wanted to create forever. I love that your Instagram is ever-changing. So many people are intent on keeping the “aesthetic” of their feed, but it seems like you put a lot of thought into each post. Can you walk us through how you decide to edit your photos? I know some people really enjoy sticking to specific colors and make it work so well for them, but for me I’m way too indecisive to be able to stick to that. I love color and I love playing around and trying to make things look like a painting or look whimsical. I guess that means whatever fairytale I’m envisioning myself in that day is how I go about editing the photo. I think I also love nature and urban shooting too much to keep them mutually exclusive.


photography DILLON IVORY featuring (left) ALEXANDRA FORD HAMILTON / @alexandr_ford (right) MAYAH HATCHER / @maestra_omayah


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Is there a shoot that stands out as a favorite of yours? One that stands out is a shoot I did with Kennedy Dawn and some miniature horses. Shooting with people is a challenge in and of itself, but when you bring animals into the mix, it ends up making it even more difficult. The framing was challenging, you can’t communicate with them the same way and you have to be patient because they can get a little timid. It’s about taking some time to make it right. It was just so fun because there were no expectations. What models or brands do you aspire to work with one day? One model I’m dying to work is Ebonee Davis, she’s a model that has been an activist for equality in the fashion industry. I’m excited to see a person speaking up and making a positive change. I want to be a part of that! As for brands, I’ve been wanting to work with ZARA for so, so long. Everything they do is just so rad and they take all of my money anyways since I literally always shop there, so I think it would be a dream come true. What message do you hope to send to your followers through your photography? Wow, that’s a difficult question. I guess that for me, I know that I have a different perspective and sometimes it’s something new that people haven’t seen. Not going to lie, it’s very tempting to fall into the normal ways of social media and do what everyone else is doing so that people will like me, but then when I think about it…I would rather stand out than blend in. I think my social media accounts show that I am ever changing and that I am always trying new things. I’m not afraid to be different, not afraid to fail, and not afraid to just be myself.


photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring AUTUMN JACOBSEN / @autumn_jacobsen


photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring (left) ANNA CAROOM / @annacaroom (right) KATIE BROWN / @dontbecoykatie


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mad sounds features

Who are some photographers you personally look up to? Mark Del Mar (@bleeblu), Sarah Bahbah (@sarahbahbah), Jessica Kobeissi (@jessicakobeissi). How do you think social media affects being a creative? Do you think it makes it easier or harder to stand out amongst others? I’m indifferent on social media because it’s done so much for me and helped get me noticed by some of my favorite people. And it’s gotten me lots of work. I just think that it’s easy to get in your head and doubt yourself. That’s what happens to me time and time again. I go on social media hiatus’ and try to regroup. It’s important to stay confident in yourself and not let people get to your head. I have many mixed emotions on the subject, but overall it has its pros and cons, just like everything else does. Finally, we’re discussing the theme of self-expression in this issue. How has photography been a platform for you to express yourself? I think that I’ve learned how to really make social media a window into my mind and my imagination. It’s [self-expression] something that I struggled with a lot growing up, and through photography I’ve been able to get all these weird, whacky, scary, humiliating ideas out of my head and make them into something beautiful. I don’t think I would have been able to put into words some of the things that my images show. And I still don’t think I can most of the time. When I get people reaching out and wanting to work with me, it makes me feel like people are accepting of who I am and want to share something with me.

Keep up with Dillon: Instagram: @dillon_ivory dillonivory.com

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photography DILLON IVORY / @dillon_ivory featuring (left) KSENIYA SOVENKO / @ksenyeah) (top & bottom) SOFIA TVETER / @modelsofi


mad sounds music

ripe dreams, pipe dreams review by SYDNEY HILDEBRANDT photography by RILEY DONAHUE featuring CAMERON AVERY

While listening to “Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams” for the first time, all I could think was what in the world has Cameron Avery been doing with Tame Impala all these years? Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Tame Impala - but Cameron’s solo debut has me wondering what took him so long to step out of the group as its bassist. The album’s theme is nothing new: a combination of stories about love and lust. But the way it is put together is what pushes the album closer to the top. If this album was a recipe, the ingredients would be a sprinkle of old time country, a dose of blues, a heaping of rock ’n’ roll, and a dash of symphonic ensembles. For the most part, it seems that Avery has left the psychedelia with Tame Impala, and has picked up his own taste in music. The first two tracks, “A Time and Place” and “Do You Know Me By Heart” have a softer tempo and are tunes reminiscent of Parisian buskers on street corners at night. Though Avery claimed some of his inspirations for the album include Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, a Neil Diamond-esque nature flows through it, especially in songs like “Dance With Me”. Throughout the album, it’s evident that Avery has struggled to find a woman right for him, and in

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his search, he has found a lot of heartbreak and misery, with only intimate physical connection as the silver lining of not being tied down to one person. “Watch Me Take It Away” and “Whoever Said Gambling’s For Suckers” are perfect examples of this, and they radiate arrogance and misogyny, but as soon as “C’est Toi” comes on, one can’t help but momentarily forget about his ego. The lyrics aren’t groundbreaking and the instrumental doesn’t have anything on the Beatles, but one this is for sure, Avery has stepped away from Tame Impala’s shadow and unveiled a work of art – still in progress. The lyrics are stories – his stories, and no one can take that away from him. An album like this so personal to Avery doesn’t call for any flashiness or inventiveness; it simply is what it is, occasionally keeping you on your toes with random bursts of instrumental play. Avery’s independent style is refreshing, though, considering he came from a very untraditional group like Tame Impala. Sometimes when musicians step away from their band to pursue a solo career, they are still in many ways attached to their native group and reflective of their style, but Avery has done an exceptional job of separating himself from what identifies Tame Impala the most.


CAMERON AVERY THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM LOS ANGELES, CA


CAMERON AVERY THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM LOS ANGELES, CA


photography by RILEY DONAHUE featuring CAMERON AVERY


photography RILEY DONAHUE makeup by LUCKY SIN hairstyling by STEPHANIE TEA


NO. 23 — EXPRESS YOURSELF

stay tuned there’s more mad sounds on the way! madsoundsmagazine.com DO YOU WANT TO BE FEATURED? email madsoundsmagazine@gmail.com with a cover letter & link to your online portfolio not all submissions will be featured for publication

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mad sounds

Profile for Mad Sounds

Mad Sounds Issue 23 - Megan Batoon  

Mad Sounds Issue No. 23 - Express Yourself (May 2017): featuring Megan Batoon (cover), Rora Blue, Katie Qian, Dillon Ivory, Jordan Randall,...

Mad Sounds Issue 23 - Megan Batoon  

Mad Sounds Issue No. 23 - Express Yourself (May 2017): featuring Megan Batoon (cover), Rora Blue, Katie Qian, Dillon Ivory, Jordan Randall,...

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