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on finding a creative space outside of pentatonix




on being a female voice in country music

on finding her place outside of youtube

on working hard and finding success with songwriting




on returning to acting and the importance of detroit

on taking oppurtunities as they come and her love of dance

on being an artist and his new album, beginning of things




on learning to write songs and her upcoming album

on writing honest songs and not forcing herself into a box

featuring the stars of teen wolf, once upon a time, riverdale + more


on dealing with rejection and the need for diversity


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lena stone Words by IAN HAYS Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Lena Stone is here to make a difference. The country singer-songwriter is stepping out from behind the veil to show the growing number of female songwriters that are ready to make a change in a male dominated industry. Lena hails from the “tiny, tiny town” of Carlisle, Massachusetts. As she puts it, “There are as many cows and horses as there are people. There’s Ferns Country Store, an ice cream stand, and that’s about it.” She is the oldest of three sisters, who, you guessed it, all sing. While her parents are a doctor and a lawyer, that didn’t stop the music from flowing once they left the office. The music genes can be found a generation back in her father’s mother, her “favorite person in the whole world”. Lena’s grandmother was a music therapist. This gave Lena an early understanding of the therapeutic and healing qualities of music that traditional therapy can’t always accomplish. Over the years, Lena embarked on her own musical journey, singing in school and church. But, that desire to create was always poking up from under the surface. She began writing lyrics around age 8. But, it wasn’t until she was 14 that she started learning guitar so she could play Taylor Swift songs and capture a little bit of that singer-songwriter magic. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, Lena went out to L.A. to attend the Grammy songwriting and music camp. It was here her bourgeoning songwriting skills were put to the test. And maybe above all, allowed her to make those necessary connections and show her work to those who could do something about it. “I met this songwriter named Darrell Brown who wrote, ‘You’ll Think of Me’ by Keith Urban. He work shopped some of our stuff. I showed him my songs and he told me, ‘You’re writing country music. You got to move to Nashville’.” While this was the big push for her to move to Nashville at 18, country music wasn’t always at the forefront for Lena. Growing up, your first musical tastes and experiences are often shaped by your parents or the adults most active in your life. For Lena, that meant diving in headfirst to the singer-songwriters of the ‘70s. It was all about the storytellers -

and telling those stories well. “There’s a debate going on in country music right now about how to define ‘country’. And there is definitely shift in sound to be more ‘pop-like’. But, I think even though some artists’ songs have more pop sounds, they are still telling stories. And that isn’t necessarily happening in other genres,” Lena says. So, at 18, Lena moved to Nashville. In Nashville, there is a built-in culture of co-writing. You sit in a room for hours with the artist and emerge the other side with a song. But even with her experience and references, Lena was at a loss for how to break into that scene. So, she got an internship at a music publishing company to learn the ins and outs of the business. After some time, she was offered a publishing deal. This first gig allowed her to really delve into the world of songwriting from the ground up. While she was still trying to find her own voice as a young adult, she was working on songs for and with other artists and projects. This multifaceted view allowed Lena to look beyond the typical to find that something special. Writing for others allows Lena to get out of her own head and look at situations from a different perspective. “I especially love writing from the male point of view. Honestly, I feel girls are the best at writing songs for guys. Because sometimes it’s like, ‘I know you think that line is a compliment to the girl you would be singing this to, but she would see it as condescending. So, here’s how we can make something that she would want to here’,” she says. And this stems from a shortage of female artists and songwriters being lauded and showcased publicly. This led Lena to putting a focus back on her own personal work and what songs she would want to record and perform herself. That’s how her single, ‘Nervous’ came to fruition. “I wanted ‘Nervous’ to be my first single because it’s about the confident female. It flips the script a little bit, having the girl approach the guy and having the upper hand. There’s a real female empowerment in that, even if it isn’t outright saying it,” she says. For Lena, she didn’t realize the shortage of women in country music until she began

the pursuit herself. She quickly realized you could count the women releasing music and being played on the radio on one hand. As Lena shopped her songs around, she heard a familiar pattern. Executives loved her music and work, but they had always “just signed a girl”. Adding a female to your roster and taking a chance on her was to fill a quota, not for the pursuit of great music. “And while you had them not wanting to sign more females, they had 15 ‘bro-country’ artist all doing the same thing,” she says. While you will find encouragement and support from male counterparts once you get past the gatekeepers, the overall attitude is still engrained in the songwriting culture. This led Lena to help create Song Suffragettes in 2014 - an all-female singer-songwriter showcase held in Nashville on Monday nights. There’s comradery amongst the female singer-songwriters in Nashville as they know the best way to get their voices heard is to build each other up. “We wanted to show how many awesome female songwriters there are and be able to share their differing perspectives,” Lena says, “It’s not just, ‘She’s a female so she represents that half of the population.’” Over just a few short years, Song Suffragettes has grown from a small group to having over 200 unique female artists get up on present their music. Each week now sells out, highlighting people’s desire for more music written and performed by females. The consistent rotating cast of musicians has allowed for the community to become more tightknit. “I think there’s this expectation that because we’re all living in the same community and striving for the same thing, we should be competitive with each other and even catty. And the reality is so different. The more girl there are in country music, the better it is for all of us,” Lena says. The old guard is falling - that’s good. Lena Stone is proof. And while she is working on more of her own music to follow up ‘Nervous’, her dedication to bringing underserved female voices in country music to light cannot be emphasized enough. It’s not about ‘taking a chance’ on women. It’s about bringing the artists to the people and letting the music speak for itself. NKD NKDMAG.COM


malcolm kelley Words by OLIVIA SINGH Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Malcolm Kelley is an L.A. native, born and raised on the West Coast and has had an interest in the entertainment industry from a young age. TV fanatics recognize him as the now-grown up Walt Lloyd from Lost and music fans know him as half of music duo MKTO. This month, Malcom dives back into his acting roots, starring in the big screen thriller Detroit. Malcolm grew up in Bellflower, California and his initial interest in acting began around the age of 5 or 6, after seeing commercials on TV. “I remember I first really got inspired just watching a McDonald’s commercial and [seeing] all the kids just having fun,” Malcolm recalls. “I just told my mom, ‘I want to do this. This looks fun’.” Slowly, he started auditioning for and booking roles in commercials, never thinking that he’d later make his way to the big screen. “Being a young kid, I didn’t know that this was something that could turn into a career or something that I could be doing for practically the rest of my life,” he says. “But at that age, I just knew that it looked like a great time and as I started getting

introduced to it and started booking more things, I just fell more in love with the whole process and everything about acting – and everything that came with it.” Commercials soon led to small roles on TV shows like For Your Love, Malcolm in the Middle and Girlfriends. With each role, Malcolm’s affinity for acting increased, especially after working with Denzel Washington in the 2002 movie Antwone Fisher. It was the first movie that Malcolm was a part of, and it remains one of the most impactful experiences of his acting journey. Two years after Antwone Fisher, he booked a role on ABC’s Lost. On the show, Malcolm played Walt Lloyd, one of the youngest survivors of the plane crash. “It was such a fun, lighthearted character with these special powers and really did put my career on a next level, and for people to be able to appreciate me for that makes me feel good to this day,” Malcolm says. Being a series regular on Lost and living in Hawaii for several months over the course of two years meant that Malcolm had to be homeschooled in order

to simultaneously pursue acting and his education. At that age, he realized that he wanted to continue acting for as long as possible. “That’s when I was really starting to understand that this could be a career for me and this is something that I really love to do,” Malcolm says. “At that point, I kind of had to make a decision with my career, just to keep going as strong as I needed to and give it the proper time that it needed. I made the decision to stay homeschooled and I don’t regret it.” Even though Malcolm has grown up since his time on Lost, people still recognize him from that role. “Sometimes I’ve done shows with my band and seeing people come with the Walt signs to the shows is just amazing,” he says. “To be able to know that people can share the love that they have for the acting and the music together, I think is something I’ve always wanted to get across. They break more barriers, to be able to give people the freedom to do multiple things.” When Malcolm booked a role on the 2010 TeenNick show Gigantic, he inadvertently found himself easing into the music industry with his co-star, NKDMAG.COM


Tony Oller. In between filming the show, Malcolm and Tony spent their free time dabbling with music and uploading videos on YouTube. Their pastime morphed into a serious music career, and Malcolm and Tony formed the duo MKTO. “We were best friends and we would just make music on GarageBand and put stuff up on YouTube for the fans, not thinking anything would spiral out of it,” Malcolm recalls. Once Gigantic ended, they devoted their time to the duo and released popular songs like “Classic,” “Thank You” and “American Dream”. With his attention shifted to MKTO, Malcolm put acting on the backburner and devoted his time to building his credibility as an artist. “It was happening so fast, but it’s been a dream for both of us, coming up – even not knowing each other,” Malcolm says. “We both wanted to be part of music, to have some stories to tell and be able to relate to people, and I think the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, just being teenagers and going through life a little bit and experiencing a lot. Both being actors, we also knew jumping into the music game, we wanted to put the work in to be respected as artists and I think we did that. We were grinding and it was kind of hard for me, because I didn’t mean to take off from acting for so long. I always wanted the two to coexist together, but it was about timing.” “I think Tony and I kind of built an organic, strong fanbase that over the years that is still with us and has allowed us to both be able to go and venture off and do other things, but not lose our fans totally,” he adds. “We stepped away from acting, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into and kind of starting from the bottom in a whole new career can be hard, but we put in the work and it was definitely beautiful.” Now, Malcolm has returned to acting with Detroit, in theaters August 4th. The film, which was directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow, examines the “Race Riots” that took place in Detroit in 1967. Specifically, it focuses on a gruesome event that occurred at the Algiers Motel, when 10 young people ran to a nearby hotel amidst the rebellions to protect themselves. “I play a character named Michael Clark, who’s in the Algiers Motel where 08

this incident took place,” Malcolm explains. “The Algiers Motel was a place to get away and just hang out at a time like this when the city was rebelling and going kind of crazy, but unfortunately, he found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and a situation happens at the hotel and it kind of tests his might, and he’s not sure if he’s going to make it home at the end of the day.” Just one look at the film’s trailer indicates how tense and horrific this period was, but it’s a story that Malcolm believes should be told. “We definitely came a long way and to actually know that this was 50 years ago, some of these things are still happening today. I think this just needs to be something that we speak on and something that will spark conversation, which I think is all needed for us to be on the same page,” Malcolm says. “We just want the people to be able to take away just the message and the feeling behind the movie and to be able to start conversations and to be open and know about certain history,” Malcolm says. “This is American history, so it’s important that we bring these dark times to life.” Aside from Detroit, Malcolm has several other acting projects being released this year, including guest starring roles and an upcoming film titled True to the Game. Even though he’s focusing on acting, Malcolm doesn’t want to forget about his music. “That’s really important to me and we’ve built so much over these last three to four years. I miss it so much and I want to continue to see it grow,” Malcolm adds. “Tony and I are trying to figure that out now and where we are, so I’m definitely trying to get some more music out by the end of the year, but that’s looking on the up and up.” Ideally, he wants to balance acting and music, and to grow with each new experience. “I just can’t wait to mesh these things together even more, because that’s really what I’m big on,” he says. “Just growing up as a kid, I’ve always wanted to have an album out, but also to continue acting and to be able to do those things kind of at the same time, so that’s where I am right now – but it’s all about timing.” “I’m loving where the industry is right now and there’s a lot more great material and concepts coming out, so I’m ready to jump back into it,” he says. NKD



danielle bradbery Words by SAMANTHA BAMBINO Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Since winning The Voice in 2013 at only 16-years-old, Danielle Bradbery has proved to be a solid contender in the country music world. From releasing her self-titled debut album to supporting artists like Brad Paisley and Hunter Hayes on tour, she’s basically done it all. Now, with four years of industry experience under her belt and a second record on the horizon, she’s ready to take her career to the next level. Over the past few years, Danielle has slowly immersed herself into the one facet of the music industry that felt foreign to her - the songwriting process. Though she was heavily involved in the song selection of her first album, the songs themselves were not originals. When she decided it was time for a sophomore album, she knew she wanted to be involved in every aspect of the project, including the creation of her own lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “shy” person, it was tough for Danielle warm up in a room of seasoned songwriters, let alone collaborate on the emotional process of writing lyrics. “The thought of getting in a room with complete strangers and telling them your deepest, darkest secrets was terrifying for me,” Danielle says. After some time, she started to see the writing process as a learning opportunity and chance for growth rather than a nerve wracking experience. When it comes to honing any new craft, practice makes perfect, and all it takes is one step in the right direction to get the ball rolling. 12

While Danielle was in Nashville collaborating with two close songwriter friends, the powerful ballad “Potential” was created and the three knew they had something special. As fate would have it, Scott Borchetta, president of Danielle’s label Big Machine Records, was in the building at the time. They immediately played him the song and he was blown away. With this much-needed confidence boost, Danielle was officially ready to write the rest of her album. Drawing inspiration from her childhood self, Danielle is constantly pushing herself to see what she’s capable of, especially when it comes to her voice. As a kid, she idolized female powerhouses like Mariah Carey and Carrie Underwood, and would try to hit their highest notes. She brought that mindset with her to the studio as well as influences from their sound. Though Danielle is first and foremost a country artist, she has a strong love for R&B and grew up with the rhythms of Latina music thanks to her mother’s Hispanic side of the family. Since she has been introduced to all types of genres, it’s impossible for Danielle to name an artist that solely influenced the new project. Basically, it’s a little bit of everything. Overall, there won’t be one specific theme covered on Danielle’s upcoming album, but rather a new sense of vulnerability. “This next project is more emotional and real,” she says. “I think about it as kind of an Adele feel.” Now in her early 20s, Danielle has

grown up a bit since her teen years on The Voice. Naturally, so have her fans who watched her compete. They’ve been able to grow up with her, experiencing the same difficulties of heartbreak and life changes. For Danielle, it’s a whole new feeling sharing songs that chronicle her personal emotions and having people relate to them, but she feels her fans are ready for some honesty. “If it was the other way around, I would connect if the artist was that real,” she says. The majority of her fans have stuck by her since her time on The Voice, and show their dedication on social media, telling Danielle they’ll stand by her until the end. “We all talk about it everyday on how they’re still loyal and help me out and just stick with me,” she says. While many artists struggle to keep fans engaged after several years without a new release, Danielle hasn’t been letting her fans wait idly while she records. Taking to YouTube, she recorded a series of her favorite covers, including everything from pop hits like “Me And My Broken Heart” by Rixton and “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele to country classics such as “Breathe” by Faith Hill. These videos, as well as shorter covers on Instagram, were able to tide fans over until Danielle’s first release off the new record in June entitled “Sway”. Though it strays from the emotional vibe of the rest of the tracks, “Sway” represents a fun, free-feeling introduction to get old and new fans pumped for the project. The day the song was recorded,

Danielle and her writing team went to work with the mindset of creating a summer-friendly song to reintroduce her to the music world. “We thought, ‘Let’s just write about a song where we don’t think about the lyrics too much and literally have the crowd dancing’,” she says of the writing process. One of the co-writers of “Sway” is Nashville-based Emily Weisband who quickly turned into one of Danielle’s closest industry friends and role models. Though Danielle was still finding her footing in the writing world, Emily was patient and supportive and helped to make her feel more confident in her abilities. So far, Danielle has gotten an astounding amount of positive feedback on “Sway,” and has been hitting radio stations and smaller venues to gives fans a taste of what’s to come. Showcasing new music can be stressful, especially when playing for fans who have waited so long, but several early favorites have emerged including “Worth It”. After spending so much time in the studio pushing her voice to the limit and honing her writing craft, Danielle wants her fans to fully appreciate this personal musical journey she is about to share. To maintain a sense of mystery and excitement, some songs will remain a secret until the official release later this year, including “Human Diary,” which she can’t wait for people to hear. “It’s a deep one but it’s definitely one of those songs that

you feel,” Danielle says. Though this is Danielle’s first time around writing such heartfelt songs, she’s a veteran when it comes to singing them. Last year, a spur of the moment pitch was presented to the young artist that she couldn’t turn down. Fellow country star Thomas Rhett was releasing a deluxe version of his album Tangled. On the 2015 version, a powerful track entitled “Playing With Fire” featured American Idol winner Jordan Sparks, but he wanted to record a new version with Danielle. As a Thomas Rhett fan, she was thrilled. Around the same time, Danielle and Thomas’s partnership blossomed even further. The two appeared on CMT’s Crossroads series, where country stars collaborate with artists of other genres such as pop and rock. On their episode, they joined forces with Nick Jonas to perform his song “Close”, much to the excitement of their fans. After the show aired, Danielle experienced a significant jump in her followers on social media as both Thomas and Nick’s fan armies took notice of her talent. After the success of the episode and “Playing With Fire,” Thomas invited Danielle to join his Home Team World Tour. Though she only appeared on weekends due to her hectic writing schedule, she learned a lot from the seasoned performer. Danielle was able to jump in on many of his tour bus writing sessions, and once they discovered a combined love of R&B, the two collaborated to write the track

“What Are We Doing”. After a lengthy period of not performing, Danielle admits she had butterflies in her stomach before getting onstage in front of massive crowds of Thomas Rhett fans. But again, practice makes perfect and the more shows she performed, the more comfortable she felt. Since her opening slots a few years ago, Danielle has noticed a big improvement in her stage presence. Each night on the Home Team Tour, she would follow Thomas’s lead to see how he reacted to different situations and kept the crowd engaged throughout the entire show. In addition to Thomas, she was able to draw inspiration from his tourmates Kelsey Ballerini and Russell Dickerson. “I would watch all of them every night and it was cool to mentally take notes for when I do my own show again,” she says. Though Danielle is still learning the various intricacies of the music industry, she isn’t alone in her quest to grow and find herself as an artist by getting her hands dirty behind the scenes. Over the past few years, there has been a significant influx of female singers looking to go beyond the microphone and immerse themselves in writing and production. When an artist is involved in every facet of creating an album, seeing the final product is that much sweeter. “I’m with the fans most of the time,” Danielle says. “I’m just so interested to see everything and I’m right in the middle of it.” NKD NKDMAG.COM



superfruit Words by SHELBY CHARGIN Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

The expressive brainchild from inseparable best friends Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, Superfruit, is on the verge of releasing it’s second EP this month. The two vocalists started the project after their YouTube channel began growing past their expectations. Mitch and Scott wanted creative space in which they could push themselves past what their Grammy-winning band Pentatonix was doing, and work with young, hungry talent. “Actually, one of my friends from USC who is a producer, Ryan Robert Jones, we kind of just started writing songs with him for fun,” Scott recalls of Superfruit’s initial writing process. “We did like six or seven songs and were like, ‘This is so much fun.’ It felt so natural because we’ve been best friends since we were kids so we were really on the same page. We were able to communicate and write this music. And that’s when we really started getting into it.” However, getting into it wasn’t necessarily easy. “We kinda shelved

it for a while,” Mitch comments, “Because we had a whole world tour with Pentatonix that kind of took over our lives.” And while they love Pentatnoix, their creativity for something beyond the world-renowned a cappella group was growing. Their breaks were far and few between, but when they had them, Superfruit became priority. “It didn’t take that long honestly, it was like two months,” Mitch says of putting the first EP together. “Yeah, we just hit the ground running,” Scott confidently agrees. It was a bit of a process to really grasp what they were going for, but their first EP resonated with a lot of their young fans, and seemed to reach more people as time went on. “We’re frantically trying to do the second one,” Mitch laughs. It’s a frantic dash before they head out on their next Pentatonix venture, and it’s also a challenge because they want to make this second EP even better than the first and want to continue growing Superfruit’s fanbase within and outside Pentatonix NKDMAG.COM


fans. “It’s nerve wracking because we have such a solid and fail proof foundation with Pentatonix,” Mitch explains. “It sounds totally different, it’s just us. It’s not a cappella.” “And lyrically it’s a little different, sonically it’s definitely different,” Scott adds. Although the guarantee of not having that “failproofness” is there for the budding band, having that solid fanbase already is something they’re appreciative of. “It helped having the vlog and all those subscribers and they kinda know that we’re a little different from Pentatonix,” Mitch assures. A lot of their Superfruit fans have derived from that passionate, young fanbase Pentatonix has, and Mitch is quick to understand the passion there. “So I think the majority of Pentatonix fans are 13-14 year old girls, queer boys that are on social media… but then we have the fanbase who are families from the Midwest and the Christian fanbase of Pentatonix who probably have no idea that we released this,” he realizes. And while Mitch understands Superfruit not being for everyone, Scott’s take is a bit more introspective on their own perception of what they care about when it comes to the fanbase itself. “We knew it wouldn’t be for everyone, but I feel like it really defines our friendship and we’re able to express ourselves a little bit more and so we’re okay with it not appealing to the masses,” he says. Their goal with the project is to still 18

maintain that mass appeal, but be able to showcase just who they are as individuals and as friends within the music. “It’s lighter and it’s fun, and we wanted to make a summer record. So it’s not so exclusively one thing or super niche,” Mitch says. “It’s a little bolder and a little more sexual related and a little edgy, but it’s nothing outlandish,” Scott adds. During the process of creating Superfruit, the two musicians have begun exercising songwriting more. “It’s been really fun, but it’s also been really scary and you have to be really vulnerable,” Mitch says, “It’s hard sort of sharing your ideas and opening up your ideas and rejecting ideas with other people… And it’s so different writing for Superfruit than it is for Pentatonix because with Pentatonix you have to kind of line it up for five people’s ideas and write a song and write a song for just voices…” Understandably so, the two felt limited when trying to express themselves in a five piece rather than a two piece. “With Superfruit I feel so liberated. We’re so on the same page,” Scott reflects, “When it comes to songwriting and expressing myself, Superfruit is more my speed.” The process was inspired by artists Betty Who and Bruno Mars, and they’re hopeful to work with massive producers like Max Martin one day, but are also very content working with young and hungry upcoming producers and artists, a lot of whom

you’ll see on this new EP along with their succinct ability to understand one another in the studio. “I feel like we can tell when we like and don’t like something, we’re very in tune with each other in that way. Scotty always has really good ideas,” Mitch says. And while Mitch sings Scott’s creative praises, Scott values their ability to have differences in the studio. “We have different tastes sometimes but whenever we align on an idea that’s when we know which is what I really like,” Scott says. Superfruit gives you the feeling that it is a lifelong expression of friendship through music, art and creation. And while the goals for songwriting are clear, so is the mentality that Superfruit will soon stop being a side project, but rather an entity of its own. “We want it to be a little more audiovisual and we were discussing a lot more that’s going into the live show, and we have all these ideas about music videos coming out. We feel like it’s sort of limitless with the band,” Mitch concludes. Knowing it’ll be an easy switch and a second nature moment to switch back into performing Pentatonix in August, the band is ready to pack up their Superfruit moments and get back into the swing of their beloved a cappella group, but not without the dreams and the brainstorming of their side project being just as big as their already established voices. NKD



savannah outen Words by ELIZABETH FORREST Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

YouTube star and singer-songwriter Savannah Outen began writing songs at 2-years-old. “The first song I wrote was about shaking my hiney,” she remembers. Writing wasn’t her only talent as a child; she was also a serious dancer and, as she grew older, it became clear that singing was her destiny. When on road trips, she would harmonize to the radio and leave her parents questioning where her talent came from. She couldn’t come up with an easy answer to their question, though. It just came to her. Her passion for writing and singing never died. Growing up, Savannah’s mom took her to concerts with her. That’s where her hunger to perform began to grow. “I would always get kind of sad going to concerts because I wanted to be on stage,” Savannah explains. At age 13, she finally decided get serious and pursue a career in music. Although she wasn’t sure of the next step, her parents were hesitantly supportive. It wasn’t until after winning second place at a Los Angeles music competition and getting to meet with members of the music industry

that they realized her career in music was a real possibility. Savannah’s parents were actually the ones to encourage Savannah to begin posting to YouTube. At first, she resisted their suggestion. “I was terrified because I didn’t want my friends to know that I sang. Nobody knew,” she admits. It was impossible to keep her channel a secret, though. Her YouTube covers became so popular that she was given the chance to work with Radio Disney. She found success there; the first original song Savannah ever wrote on her guitar actually got to No. 5 on the station. Then she was able to tour and perform. To this day, she still remembers her performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at this time as one of her favorite and most memorable. Although YouTube has been great to Savannah, VidCon was where Savannah remembers first thinking to herself that she wanted to do more with her music career. “I was like ‘Wow, why am I just releasing covers?’” Savannah remembers. After writing for her whole life, she realized that

writing music was her favorite thing to do and meant everything to her. And then after a bit of difficulty finding the correct team, Savannah finally had the opportunity to get more serious into producing her own original music. “I’m still going to do covers. I went six months without when I was in the studio doing doubles a day and people got so mad,” Savannah laughs. That doesn’t take away from her excitement about her new music. She loves the direction it’s going, particularly her newest single “Coins”. Her new music has a different sound than what she out out before, which was straight pop. She was nervous about how the change would be received by fans, but they’re supportive, completely on board and can’t wait for more. That comes as a relief since Savannah’s fans and their opinions mean so much to her. Because she began her career on YouTube, her connection to fans is deeper than many artists that come from a more traditional route. “I see some of them on Instagram and they have boyfriends now and it’s just so cute to see that they’ve totally NKDMAG.COM



grown up,” she says. Luckily, Savannah’s music has matured along with her fans. As life goes on, she hopes they can relate to her in a whole new way. Many artists influence Savannah’s newer, current sound. One favorite is Jon Bellion – Savannah highlights his production and lyrics as incredible on their own, but what she finds herself most drawn to and influenced by are his insane melodies. “Because you can only say so much, the melodies have to be crazy to set yourself apart from everybody else,” she says. She’d also love to duet with him in the future. As an admirer of his work, she’s excited that people are finally getting to know him. Another huge influence is John Mayer, especially in relation to his relatable lyrics. “I want people to listen to my songs, especially the ones I’m releasing soon, that are super honest and conversational. I hope that people listen to them and think ‘Oh okay, she’s going through that too,’” Savannah says. Justin Timberlake is another huge influence that she’d also love to work with, but Savannah worries she would actually pass out if she were ever given to opportunity to. New music is on the horizon. It’s been a work in progress for the past three years, but the large majority of her upcoming songs were written in the past year and a half. “I’ve really grown a ton in the last three years. You learn so much about yourself and how you work with others just being in sessions,” she explains. In the next few months, Savannah will release another new single, though she’s caught between two different songs, one being a very personal ballad that means a lot to her. In addition to writing her own music, Savannah has been writing for others. Sometimes her own music ends up being sent out to others because it doesn’t feel right for her after sitting on it for a bit. However, most of the time when she writes for others, it’s purposeful and the song is intended for someone else. When writing for another artist, she thinks it’s fun to put herself into another’s shoes and try to write in their voice. “It’s a little trippy,” she explains. “Sometimes you

hear them on the track and then you’re like, ‘Oh, why isn’t this on the album?’” It’s always fun for her to hear the end product, though. As a songwriter, Savannah is super excited about the growing emphasis on writers in the industry. Recently, the Grammys announced that they were going to open a new category just for songwriters. Savannah thinks it’s a great step forward to giving songwriters a stronger voice. “At first artists would release songs and you would just think ‘Oh Katy Perry,’ or ‘Oh Lady Gaga,’ but there were so many people behind that in addition to the artist. It’s nice that they’re getting some attention,” she says. When it comes to writing with others, there are many people Savannah would love to work with. Two talents on her songwriting bucket list include Max Martin and Jason Reeves. “Max Martin is like a God and I feel like anything he touches is gold,” she raves. Jason Reeves has a singer-songwriter vibe, so she thinks working with him and putting her own spin onto their work would lead to a great combination. Because they have mutual friends, she’s hopeful that they’ll be able to get together in the future. She’s also super enthusiastic about writing with more underground producers. Some of her best sessions have been with producers she had never heard of before. They have an unrivaled hunger and know what the next new thing is going to be. “It’s really inspiring to work with those kinds of people because they get so excited and they don’t constantly want to take a break,” she explains. “They don’t have an ego and they’re really just ready to make a great song.” 2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for her. She’s gotten a band together and they’re going through rehearsals. She has a residency at the Sofitel in Los Angeles for every other Wednesday in July and August, so she’s playing four dates. She’s also released a jewelry line with Stilnest and is working on another collection with them. “But for the most part, 2017 I’m really set on music, which is the biggest thing,” Savannah says. “I’m really excited that I can finally put stuff out there.” NKD NKDMAG.COM


lindsay arnold Words by VANESSA SALLES Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Hair & Make-Up by EVA NOTIS


At 23-years-old, Lindsay Arnold’s long list of accomplishments is proof that one can never go wrong with hard work and passion. The professional dancer, born and raised in Utah, found her love for the craft as a young child and let it guide her to an incredibly successful career. “When I was 6, I was already doing jazz, ballet and hip-hop,” Lindsay says. “A few years later, I started competing in ballroom and traveling every weekend for it. I loved it.” After high school, Lindsay was all set for college. “I had a full-ride academic scholarship and was already set up with classes to study physical therapy,” she says. However, things worked out differently when the then-18-year-old’s mom suggested she try out for So You Think You Can Dance? “Honestly, that was never in the plan,” Lindsay reveals. “I ended up going – mostly for my mom – and ended up making it through. I postponed all my college plans and after making it to the Top 4, I went on tour with the cast for three months.” Though Lindsay had always dreamt of making a career out of dance, it was never something she thought would actually happen. “It’s crazy,” she says. “I didn’t think any of this was possible; I always just thought it’d be a dream of mine. Now, it’s a reality.” While on tour with SYTYCD, Lindsay recalls getting a life-changing call. “’Dancing with the Stars’ called me and told me they wanted me to be apart of the next season,” she says. “I went back home after tour and got another call saying they had found my celebrity partner and needed me in Los Angeles the very next day. I remember packing up my entire life and flying out the next morning.” Going into her ninth season as a DWTS pro dancer, the seasoned vet



claims that the experience is different with each season. “I’ve been partnered with such great people over the years,” she says. “Some of my partners and I became the best of friends on the very first day and, for others, it took a little longer.” As for her favorite seasons, the dancer was quick to say that the last two have been the best for her. “I was partnered with two athletes for the last two seasons and they’re my favorite seasons because they came into the show with an athlete’s mentality and drive.” The key to winning over America while on the show? “The biggest thing is the relationship that you have with your partner,” Lindsay shares. “America falls in love with the dynamic of the two of you and that’s what gets you far in the competition. I always try my best to really get to know my partner and, that way, I can keep them feeling happy and comfortable – that’s what’s really important.” Though Dancing with the Stars’ focus is on the celebrity contestants, Lindsay’s found a major following of her own. “I’ve gained some incredible fans through the show,” she says. “Seeing everyone that turns up at shows is so cool. At one of the recent stops, it was pouring rain and there were still fans waiting for us outside. That’s unreal.” Though she’s clearly well-versed in performing for a live audience, Lindsay says there’s a difference between performing week after week on DWTS and performing night after night on tour. “During the live show of DWTS, we’re being judged and critiqued so there’s definitely a pressure,” she says. “You’re also performing a brand new dance every week whereas, on tour, you’re doing the same show every night. The


live shows get to be very rewarding because you put in so many hours throughout the week and then get to see it all come together which is a really cool process. On tour, it’s different; there’s not much rehearsal because you’re already doing it every night – it becomes routine. On the show, there’s millions of people watching but you don’t see them because they’re all sitting at home; you only see the few hundred that are in the room with you. On tour, you get to see the thousands of people watching and you can feel their energy. Both experiences are different but both are so fulfilling; I don’t think I can choose a favorite.” There’s no word on who Lindsay will be partnered with next season but she definitely has a list of dream contestants! “Channing Tatum is at the top of my list,” she laughs. “We already know that he can dance and he’s just so beautiful. I also wouldn’t mind being partnered with Chris Hemsworth or Zac Efron; I’m a big fan of them! Honestly, I’ve been so lucky with my partners these last few years that I don’t really think about people that I want to be on the show; I know everything will turn out great anyways.” Lindsay’s husband, who is currently working on the tour, is another one who gets excited about her dance partners. “He was pumped about Calvin Johnson because he’s a huge sports fan,” she says. “The coolest part is some of the things I get to do with my partners; they don’t put their careers on hold when they’re apart of the show so, last season, I was travelling all the time with David [Ross] who was an ESPN analyst and going to all these different games – that was definitely a perk for my husband!”

As for what’s to come for Lindsay, dance is still the center of attention for her. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to get onto the show so it’s not something I’d want to give up anytime soon,” she says. “There are a lot of different things I’d like to jump into but, right now, I’m still committed to giving my all to Dancing with the Stars.” Down the line, the dancer hopes to open her own dance studio – something her parents did for her and her three younger sisters. “My sisters and I grew up dancing and so when my parents opened a studio, that’s where we trained. I would love to do that. I think I’ll always want to do something that revolves around dance; I absolutely love teaching and I don’t really get to do that as often as I’d like to because of my busy schedule.” Aside from dance, Lindsay has ambitions in other areas of entertainment. “Right now, I’ve been really interested in things I’ve never done before,” she says. “I really want to dive into things like acting, singing, modeling and photography. That kind of stuff excites me because it’s new and it’s something I can really educate myself on.” Though Lindsay and her husband are currently based in L.A., the couple have plans to return to Utah when they have a family. “We both enjoy being able to go wherever our career takes us and right now we’re enjoying the fact that we don’t have anything tying us down,” she says. “When we do decide to have a family, we’ll likely make Utah our home base and settle down there. I always thought I might go back to Utah and go to college but, right now, I’ve realized that college will always be there waiting and so I think that’s helped me be able to just focus on dancing.” NKD

jillian jacqueline



Jillian Jacqueline has been making the rounds in Nashville for years, but after signing to Big Loud Records last fall and releasing her first single “Reasons” through them in April, she’s finally on an uphill drive. Jillian started singing when she was just 7-years-old, and because her mom was a big fan of country music, that’s all Jillian listened to as a kid.

Theatre. After the initial run, the show went on tour for five years. “I played the same part from ages 9 to 15. Same dress,” she laughs. The Kenny Rogers tour only occupied her time during Christmas months, so during the year Jillian performed with her sisters in a family band. They all learned different instruments and performed at fairs and festivals around the area.

showing up”. She got a waitressing job and started going to shows to network. It took over four years for her to sign a publishing deal, but once she did, she already had 400 songs under her belt. “I honestly did feel like I had a lot to say,” Jillian says, “There was a lot of built up emotions. One of the first songs I ever wrote was called ‘Hurricane’ about my parents’ divorce.”

“As a female, I really had avoided for a long time writing about relationships. Not super intentionally, but just trying to say things that haven’t been said.” After her mom heard her singing in the car, she started taking Jillian to open mic nights around town, and when Jillian was 9, she auditioned to be apart of Kenny Rogers’ Christmas show. Even after what she describes as a “traumatic” audition, Jillian booked the part and relocated from Pennsylvania to New York City for three months to be in the show, which was stationed at the Beacon

The sisters tried to make a dent in the New York City music scene, but nothing was coming to fruition. So when she was 16, Jillian quit the band in an effort to have a more normal life. She finished high school and went off to college, all while her sisters were signing a record deal with Sony in Nashville. In 2010, Jillian joined her sisters in Nashville, but felt like “the ugly duckling just

She started to build an identity with songwriting. She wrote a song called “Sad Girls” and started playing it around town, and it was the first song strangers were approaching her about after shows, which made her feel like she was on the right track. She was advised by a lot of people not to sign a record deal and just do things herself, but when Big Loud came around, she felt like they really



understood what she was trying to do. “It’s been the most unbelievable, surreal experience,” she says, “It just feels like a bunch of friends that just like what I do and want to help.” Around the same time she started conversations with Big Loud, her five year relationship came to an end. “As a female, I really had avoided for a long time writing about relationships. Not super intentionally, but just trying to say things that haven’t been said,” she says, “But the minute the relationship started coming apart, I couldn’t not write about it.” So she began writing heartbreak songs that made sense to her and didn’t feel cliché, and the album started coming together. “While I was trying to steer my project to sound a certain way, life happened, and I couldn’t get around it. So what the album is, is so real that it’s unavoidable,” she says, “It’s really liberating to feel fearless about it.” Jillian is part of a new shift in the Nashville music scene – one that is finally giving the stage to those who have put in their 10,000 hours. Artists like Carly Pearce and Devin Dawson came up with Jillian, and


she loves being able to watch them have their moments just as she’s having hers. “It feels like people that are listening are looking for stories,” she says, “Devin comes from the punk rock, metal world, and I think people are so intrigued about what that story is about. And Carly, oh my God, she and I have known each other for long enough to know how many times she thought about going home. She’s watched me bartend and we’ve cried about it.” She feels like the recent growth in interest in storytellers comes from successful artists giving those who have been grinding away shout outs and bringing attention to them. “I think it’s very important for artists who are very successful to support the ones that have been here, under the radar,” she says. While Jillian may have been flying under the radar for a few years, her debut single “Reasons” pushed her into new territory. The song has been streamed over 7 million times on Spotify and received placement in various country and pop playlists on the platform. “It’s sort of set the tone for the record,” she says.

She followed “Reasons” with the heartbreaking ballad “Hate Me”, and then the fun and catchy “Bleachers”, which her label president describes as “her take on Gwen Stefani”. Most recently, she released “God Bless This Mess”, which is one she originally didn’t want to put on the record. “I was trying to steer myself into what’s cool, but this is real and this is me,” she says. 2017 has been a life-changing year for Jillian, and things are continuing to move steadily along. This summer she played opening gigs with country legend Dwight Yoakam and rockstar Ryan Adams, proving there’s no one box that she fits in right now. Especially in country music, genres are blending and while some people may not be too happy about that, there’s still an authenticity to it – especially in young artists. It’s ironic that once Jillian stopped trying to steer her sound to fit into a box, she found the sound that really works for her – but she’ll be the first to tell you it took some time. “I am the epitome of not overnight success,” she laughs, “It really feels like it’s been blood, sweat and tears.” NKD


On the coastal tip of Jamaica, actress Candice Patton stands barefoot in a sheer yellow dress before settling turquoise waters. Her arms sway back and forth as the Caribbean air billows through the thigh-high slit. She gives the camera a small smile as the sun radiates off her skin and the tide tiptoes towards the shore. The Instagram boomerang I’m glancing at has now been viewed over 200,000 times by her 1.2 million-user following. It’s mid-June; a median between two milestones in Candice’s life – two weeks before her 29th birthday, and two weeks after the Season 3 finale of The Flash aired in homes nationwide. The superhero fiction show, based on the DC Comics character of the same name, stars Candice as Iris West, opposite Grant Gustin as the titular hero, Barry Allen. In the last three years, The Flash has garnered over 15 awards, with Candice herself most recently winning a Saturn Award for “Best Supporting Actress on Television”. It makes sense that CBS Watch! Magazine would send her over to the Caribbean for a photoshoot. 36

The CW star calls me from her residence in Los Angeles on a Friday afternoon, after her trip to Jamaica. I expect her to sound exhausted from her jet setting, but she’s not. To my astoundment, there’s quite a lot on her mind. I come to realize that, unlike Iris West, Candice Patton is equipped with a power of her own. The Mississippi-born and Texas-bred thespian participated in school productions and out of school drama programs throughout her entire life. In high school, Candice was a cheerleader until she tore her anterior cruciate ligament during her senior year. The injury kept her benched for the remainder of that season, but allowed her to focus on acting. She ended up pursuing theatre at Southern Methodist University in Dallas the following year. “Acting was always something that empowered me and gave me joy,” she says. “When I was younger, I never really thought about acting professionally, but it gave me a huge outlet for my own personal struggles.” After graduating with a BFA in Theatre from SMU in 2007, Candice moved to Los Angeles,

where she has lived ever since. “There’s something about being young enough and innocent enough to think that anything is possible,” she says. “I don’t think I would have made the move if I was older.” As it turns out, making that move would be the first step in her journey towards her television debut. In Los Angeles, Candice felt she was sucked into an atmosphere bathed in superficiality. To her, home was only a four-hour flight away, but felt much, much further. Immersed in a culture she had never experienced before, she didn’t feel like a perfect fit. “You’re eating new foods and everything’s so healthy and people are obsessed with the way they look,” Candice says. “It was hard for me to feel like I had a place in L.A. or that I was cool enough to think I could even be an actress and contend with all these other people.” In the midst of the culture shock and the absence of southern hospitality, Candice motivated herself to audition for anything and everything. And in doing so, she understood just how unsympathetic the entertainment industry was. “I was getting rejected day in and day

out,” she continues. She pauses briefly then says, “I really don’t know how I survived.” Between her adjusting lifestyle, ongoing rejection, and daunting insecurities, the pressure to cultivate her own niche began to rise. Candice was in the right rooms with the wrong people – managers, friends, and industry outsiders who all had hot takes on how success was achieved in that city. “I was told I had be a certain weight, or to look more like some other girl,” she recalls. “I felt the pressure of that then and I still feel the pressure of that now.” Despite the unsolicited advice from her peers, Candice continued to do what she knew best – working hard, working well, and committing to her craft. “I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other until something turned around,” she says. “I’m glad I stuck with it as long as I did.” By 2012, Candice’s acting repertoire included appearances on Entourage, Heroes, CSI: Miami, Grey’s Anatomy, Rizzoli & Isles and The Game. And then came 2013. In the weeks before pilot season that year, Candice received an email from

her manager. Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg were casting for their newest DC Comics series, The Flash. Grant Gustin, who appeared twice on the hooded-vigilante series as Barry Allen, reprised his lead role. The planned backdoor pilot was cancelled in favor of a traditional, higher-budgeted pilot by networks executives who were impressed by early screenings of Grant’s appearances on Arrow. The e-mail from her manager read, ‘This is your role. It’s perfect for you.’ The Flash follows the chronicles of socially awkward CSI Barry Allen and the aftermath of his mother’s supernatural murder. Candice auditioned for the role of journalist Iris West, the daughter of Detective Joe West, and Barry’s childhood best friend. “I was thrilled to be going in for a lead female role that isn’t traditionally played by an African-American,” Candice says. “And deep down, I always wanted to be a part of some superhero show or film.” In Season 3 of The Flash, Barry runs back to his childhood home to prevent his mother’s murder. After saving Nora

Allen from the Reverse Flash, he creates an alternate reality called Flashpoint. The famous comic crossover story arc details an altered universe in which Barry Allen is the only person aware of the differences between the original timeline and the altered one. This heart-wrenching season of was pieced around Iris’ forecasted murder and Team Flash’s attempt to stop it. It’s clear her character’s resilience is an important sticking point. “Iris is visibly fearless, even when she’s vulnerable. Strong women are capable of experiencing fear, but then choose to find the strength to move forward. That’s what Iris does,” Candice says. “She’s loyal to Barry, to Wally, to her dad, and Team Flash,” Candice continues, noting that Iris spends most of her time at S.T.A.R. Labs than she does at her actual job. “She doesn’t have powers but that doesn’t get in the way of her trying to contribute. I think she’s a character that both men and women can admire.” The Season 3 finale of The Flash premiered on May 23, 2017, the coincidental date of Iris West’s prophesied death. NKDMAG.COM


“We need more Women and We need more people of color in any industry.

some people don’t even think about it, and it’s imperative that they do.”

Fans witnessed the loss, the betrayal, and the fate worse than death – tragedies foretold by the season’s big bad, Savitar, in previous episodes. Above all else, they watched the long-awaited development of West-Allen, the ongoing fan-favorite nickname for Barry and Iris. “This season was filled with so much emotional turmoil,” Candice 42

says, laughing on the other end of the line. “And right when you think they’re back on track and can finally plan their wedding, they can’t.” In the season’s final moments, The Flash made some poignant, if not complete strides. After conquering the darkness that monopolized Barry’s entire year and the anticipated unveil-

ing of Savitar, “Finish Line” propels the series into potential plot twists and upcoming comic book villains. Regrettably, like most season finales, it’s cut too short. The Speed Force wreaks havoc above Central City, demanding a new speedster to take the place of the beloved Jay Garrick. Barry accepts his imprisonment for creating Flashpoint, leaving Iris, Joe, Wally, and all of Team Flash behind. “It’s The Flash,” Candice laughs. “You never know what you’re going to get. There’ll be more drama.” The conflict is expected, regardless of who ends up in that revered red suit. Among other running shows on the network, The Flash is notable for their racially diverse cast. The core ensemble is comprised of Caucasians, African-Americans, and Latinos alike, with other minorities starring as citizens or city villains. “The diversity in The Flash is indicative of the world that we live in,” Candice says. “The more we see it on television, the more we resonate with it because it looks like our real life.” In a 2016 comprehensive report published by USC Annenberg on the Diversity in Entertainment, The CW ranked second in the Television and Digital Distributor Inclusion Index. They were titled “Largely Exclusive” if not “Fully Exclusive” in their high percentage of female character inclusion, as well as female creators and writers. On cable television alone, over 51% of 138 shows lack Asian-speaking roles with 23% lacking African-American speaking roles. As an African-American woman herself, Candice beams with pride when I mention her network’s forefront position of this landscape. “We need more women and we need more people of color in any industry,” she says. “Some people don’t even think about it, and it’s imperative that they do.” In 2016, Huffington Post surveyed U.S. adults and found only one in five white people believe Hollywood does not provide adequate roles to minorities. Over 60% of white people were pleased by the number of films featuring racial minorities. Black Americans, however, disagreed. 87% believed the entertainment industry does not provide enough opportunities to racial minorities. Candice is one of

them. “Diversity is so imperative and I don’t think people quite understand how it changes the way people view themselves,” she says. “If you go to the movies and you see that the President of the United States is Asian, you then believe that it is possible.” After a recent phone call with producers of The Flash, Candice knows a few things about the upcoming season, mainly plot points for her character. “Other than that, I don’t know too much and I don’t want to know too much,” she says. They began filming Season 4 in Vancouver on July 3. “Think of me when you’re watching fireworks and grilling burgers,” she says to me. When filming 10 months out of the year in Canada, the cast tends to miss major holidays – Independence Day, for one. In the other two hiatus months, Candice flies back and forth between Los Angeles and Texas where her parents, brother, and baby niece and nephew reside. “I love my job and I’m humbled to do this for a living, but it’s hard being away from friends and family for so long,” she says. “I really cherish the two months I have off with them.” In time, Candice hopes to write and produce her own material, as well as shifting her focus into film – two things that need to be put on hold or shot in between filming The Flash. “There’s a part of me that really wants to have a film career and do gritty, independent features,” she says. “As a woman in this business, I would love to dabble in directing. That would be challenging but fulfilling for me.” The actress’ passion for diversity is evident in all she does. It’s only one of many reasons why her work in the industry is nowhere near finished, especially with other women of color combatting that same crusade. Candice is on the cutting edge of reshaping the diversity issue in Hollywood, as her idols Lena Hornes and Halle Berry did before her. “They cracked the door open for me and I’m trying to keep it open for the young girls who are watching me on The Flash right now,” she says. “Future women of color will come after me and audition for a lead role opposite a white guy, too. Helping those behind you is where true success comes from.”

Two weeks after our phone call, I check Candice’s Instagram. Her most recent post is a video, likely captured by a friend. She’s half asleep on a bed, surrounded by her castmates and closest cohorts singing “Happy Birthday” to her. She briefly turns her head to face them, but almost immediately retreats back into her pillow. The caption reads,

‘When it’s ya birthday but nap is life.’ I laugh to myself before recalling something Candice said to me two weeks ago. “If I never act again, I want people to say I opened doors and broke down boundaries in this industry,” she says. “I know I’ll have succeeded then.” That nap is well deserved, Candice. You’ve got some business to take care of. NKD NKDMAG.COM


emily warren Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL You may think you’re not familiar with Emily Warren, but you’re probably wrong. The New York City born songwriter has an impressive resume under her belt – most notably The Chainsmokers’ Grammy-winning hit, “Don’t Let Me Down”, and most recently, two song of summer contenders: Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Charli XCX’s “Boys”. And while songwriting is still her passion, she is currently transitioning into her own artist – something she’s wanted to be for years. Growing up, Emily attended Trinity, an academically rigorous K-12 school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In school, Emily never felt like she was being encouraged to be creative, but at home, her parents always pushed her to be. She started a band in high school and played around the city, but the band split up when Emily went to college. Most of the guys ended up in the indie-pop band MisterWives, and Emily headed south down the island to NYU’s Clive Davis school. At NYU, she was encouraged to be a writer but wasn’t super set on the idea until she ended up in a session with Scott Harris, who is now her most frequent collaborator. And so began her career. “I was saying for a long time that I didn’t want to be an artist, because it was helping me getting in the room with other artists,” she says, “And, to be honest, I needed the time to figure out what my story was.” She spent the last three years developing her songwriting, and in turn developed herself as an artist. In 2016, she was featured on Frenship’s global smash “Capsize” – a song she had written a while ago and the band opted to leave her vocals on. The song took off on Spotify, which gave Emily the confidence to be able to just put out a song and letting it 44

live. Around the same time, “Don’t Let Me Down” came out and solidified both Emily’s and The Chainsmokers’ place in pop music. When it came time for the DJ duo to put their record together, they wanted to use a few songs Emily had written and had shopped around different features for them, but ultimately decided to keep Emily on most of them – some with credit, some as a secret. Following the release of the album, Emily joined the group on Saturday Night Live and then on their massive summer tour. “They hadn’t really see me perform ever, and suddenly it was this whole tour,” she says, noting that she appreciates how much they trusted her abilities. Immediately after “Capsize” and “Don’t Let Me Down” started to find success, Emily noticed a distinct change in how many people were trying to get in the room with her. “At the time it was causing me a lot of anxiety and I was having panic attacks, just because it’s weird when you feel like the exact same person but people aren’t really treating you the same,” she says. Another reoccurring situation she found herself in was artists and labels expecting her to write “Don’t Let Me Down” – Part II, which she found frustrating. “It’s not going to happen again,” she laughs, “I wish I knew [why people latched onto it] so I could recreate it.” “I get so much joy out of helping people figure out their story,” Emily says of writing with other artists. But she’s also really enjoying the creative freedom of writing for her own project. She’s currently putting together an album of songs that she feels best represent who she is as her own artist, and a handful of the songs she’s been sitting on for a while. But “Hurt By

You”, the first single she released, felt like the right introduction. “’Hurt By You’ was kind of the no brainer because deep down it’s a pop song, but the production and the little Motown thing at the end of the chorus was kind of a nod, for me, to all the music I grew up listening to,” she says. The second single, “Something to Hold on To” was released in July, and was written with her boyfriend – who is also producing part of her record. She wrote it when “Don’t Let Me Down” was at its peak, and she was feeling all that anxiety. “For me, he’s someone that cared about me before all of that, and then watching him kind of hurt himself for me was too much at the time,” she says of the song’s meaning. They shot the video in her parents’ house in Connecticut, where she wrote the song, and her boyfriend is in it, which was an incredibly cool experience for her. Emily is part of a new wave of pop females who are being appreciated as artists and writing their own songs. Singers like Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Phoebe Ryan all came up as songwriters before being embraced as artists. “It’s so cool now that people are aware that other people are writing songs and really want to know about it,” she says, “To me it’s super reminiscent of the ‘60s.” She finds it interesting to see which songs writers choose to be their own songs, and how they choose to define their story. Looking back at the last two years, Emily has trouble picking a standout moment – though the tour as a whole was huge for her. But putting out her first solo song was incredibly humbling for her, and watching all the artists she’s worked with post about it without being asked meant a lot to her. “Every day is crazier than the last,” she says. NKD

charlie worsham Words by ELIZABETH FORREST Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Mississippi-born singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham’s earliest memories are of tagging along to music gigs with his dad. Because his father was the drummer, Charlie would sit in his lap during sound check and pretend he was, too. The single moment of clarity that solidified Charlie’s journey into music was when the band’s guitarist played the solo for “Werewolves of London” with his teeth. “I thought, ‘Man, I kind of think I have to this for the rest of my life’,“ Charlie remembers. As he grew older, he took piano and banjo lessons, played at bars, went to college for music and joined a Nashville-based band. Six years ago, after parting ways with the band, he began his own solo career. He released his first album, Rubber Band, in 2013, but hit a brick wall and felt burnt out once he began to write for his sophomore album. Because of this, he had to recommit himself to finding out what it was that originally made him fall head over heels for music. Luckily, he found it. “Music is such a pure thing,” he explains. “What it really took was giving myself permission to make music for me and not really care

if it made anyone else happy.” By making himself happy, he found that everyone else got what they needed in the end. A self-proclaimed people pleaser, Charlie fell into into the habit of feeling as though he needed permission and approval for everything. The switch in the changing music industry was partly to blame; whereas before it was just about the music, suddenly it was more than writing songs. “It was social media and getting that right, it was images, you need to have a song for the radio, a song for this, and that had never been part of it until that chapter,” he says. It was overwhelming and disheartening, so he needed to make a change. One change that got him back into writing was carrying around a notebook and filling a page of it every day. “My one rule was to tell the truth,” he says. His sophomore album, Beginning of Things, began in that notebook. Every three weeks, he would bring in his songs and perform them for his A&R representative and producer until they finally decided upon an album. It was a big change; Charlie’s first album was recorded over two and a half years in small

batches, but Beginning of Things was essentially recorded in six days. The difference is evident. Frank Ladell, Charlie’s producer, once told him,”records are photographs of an artist at a point in time.” Rubber Band was an accurate portrait of Charlie in his mid to late twenties, but Beginning of Things is a more accurate picture of him as he’s grown older. Charlie cites his upbringing as a strong album influence. “I grew up in one of the richest places for music on the planet. I grew up in northern Mississippi,” he says. From the same area as legends such as Elvis Presley and Tammy Wynette, Charlie believes that he put elements into his record that others simply couldn’t. In Beginning of Things, he explores bluegrass, hard country, rock and roll and even “really funky stuff.” Though his current single “Cut Your Groove” actually hits close to his debut album in relation to sound, Charlie promises that it’s his boldest and most honest album to date. Romantically speaking, the album’s most honest song is “Old Time’s Sake”. In it, he sings of meeting someone and having an honest conversation and real NKDMAG.COM



connection. Beginning of Things tackles much more than romance, though. “Take Me Drunk I’m Home”, self-explanatory in title, highlights a situation Charlie has been in many times. More seriously, “Lawn Chair Don’t Care” is only half a verse away from getting political. “It’s about how I feel about the way the world is and why lawn chairs and six packs sell,” he laughs. On a more self-reflective note, “Please Please Please” was written when Charlie was first honest enough with himself to realize he had an issue with trying to make everyone else happy before himself. In terms of playing live, one of Charlie’s favorites is “I Ain’t Going Nowhere”. It was one of the first songs recorded for the album and has almost a full minute introduction. “The reason for that is that I was realizing at that moment that I was about to spend a full week with Matt Chamberlain and all of these incredible musicians. I just kept waiting to start singing because I loved everything they came up with in the meantime,” Charlie says. To Charlie, touring is one of the best parts of making a new record because on the road, songs played live are stretched out in every way possible. In the midst of his Beginning of Things tour, Charlie has had the chance to experience songs taking on their own life in real time. He’s had the opportunity to tour with Brandy Clark and had the best time sharing the stage with her. “I relate to her story so much and I really just could not have more love and respect for her talent,” he raves. Every night, Charlie and Brandy did a section in which they would trade off singing their favorite classic country songs, and he remembers it as one of his favorite memories from touring so far. In addition to his own tour, Charlie was also invited to open for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s Soul2Soul World Tour. “They picked artists who they dig the music of, so I’m grateful to be included in that group,” Charlie says. He opened for their three Toronto and Ottawa dates and played for his biggest crowd since opening for Taylor Swift during her Speak Now tour in 2011. For the past 11 years, Charlie has also been heavily involved with CMA Fest. This year was no different, but his favorite CMA memory comes from 2016. He

helped host a three-night Midnight Jamboree at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway where artists such as Elvis Presley and Loretta Lynn have played. Because CDs don’t sell like they used to, the shop has been struggling. To help out, Charlie managed to wrangle up an impressive number of country artists to perform there. The shop was so packed that police had to come out on horses to break up the crowd outside during their most crowded night. “I think that’s part of what CMA fest is all about,” Charlie says. “We’re obviously charging forward in the future of country, but I think you’ve got to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.” At this year’s CMA Fest, the festival awarded Charlie with a Giving Key for his work with his Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund, a 501(c)(3) that supports students in music education from his hometown of Grenada, Mississippi. Follow Your Heart means so much to Charlie that he actually puts his work with the organization above his own professional career. “It’s hard in more rural places to get the resources you need for music because if it isn’t football, there’s this attitude sometimes of why bother,” he explains. “For a kid who otherwise might not finish school or might have a tough time at home, giving them access to a cheap guitar, a few lessons and a couple hours where they don’t have to be in that terrible environment is the most important thing I’ve ever done.” Charlie still aims to have a more permanent standing in the music industry. “I believe with all my heart and faith that I’m taking the scenic route to stardom for a reason,” he explains. One of his mentors, Vince Gill, struggled to make it in the industry. Without that struggle, Charlie doesn’t believe he could be the great mentor that he is for many young artists today. “I think that there’s something about it that whittles away everything that’s irrelevant and forces you to want it for the right reason and focus on the right things. I think I’m somewhere still in that. I’m still learning that,” Charlie admits. But with a tour, a scholarship fund, the successful release of his sophomore album and the opportunity to open for country megastars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, it’s clear 2017 has already been a massive year for him. NKD NKDMAG.COM


SAN DIEGO COMIC CON class of 2017 Photographed & Interviewed by CATHERINE POWELL

David Anders

Gabrielle Anwar

KJ Apa

iZombie “I feel like we’ve got it down to a science as a crew, so it becomes easier and easier and people know us more. But even on the street people [recognize me] from iZombie.”

Once Upon a Time “My favorite part has been how welcoming everyone is. It’s quite hard to step into a show when it’s so well established and not feel like a total loser, so that’s been great.”

Riverdale “I hope we can work on that dynamic [between Archie and his mom] because I think it’d be interesting to see.”

Asha Broomfield

Robert Buckley

Robert Carlyle

Riverdale “We’re learning together. It’s this weird, amazing, self-love process with our audience.”

iZombie “There’s a brain I’m really excited for this season. So long as I do my job and it works right, it has the potential to be like, Teenage Girl Brain level.”

Once Upon a Time “They said ‘Action!’ and [Emilie de Raven and I] did the dance and there was a natural end in the music, and everyone [in the room] had gone. It was just us in the moment.”

Charlie Carver

Casey Cott

Damon Dayoub

Teen Wolf “I think it’s really nice to have closure and to put some punctuation on something, just because you can appreciate what it was as a part of your life.”

Riverdale “I think Season 2 we really dive into the insecurities behind [Kevin’s] humorous outbursts. Kind of the dark side of Kevin.”

Stitchers “It makes it easier when you’ve been together so long, and you just joke and play with each other, and it’s an interesting time always.”

Malcolm Goodwin

Kyle Harris

Colton Haynes

Stitchers “This [cliffhanger] is kind of like ‘What is going to happen to this show now?’ It definitely blows some minds.”

Teen Wolf “I took a year and a half off to figure out if this is what I want to do, and realized I do want to do this. So I went back to Arrow and then I went back to Teen Wolf.”

Emma Ishta

Rahul Kohli

Hayley Law

Stitchers “I think it’s more important for young boys [to see strong girls on TV] because I am sick of my young daughter coming home saying a boy told her girls can’t fight or girls can’t do this.”

iZombie “There’s certain information where preperation and time is handy, and there’s other information where knowing too much can start informing your choices too much.”

Riverdale “Having straightened my hair since I was 19, the hair is a big thing. Them asknig me, or telling me, what products to use. With the community learning how to do this.”

iZombie “Hearing about how the political nature of the show, in terms of the humans vs. the zombies in this new Seattle, I’m excited to explore that.”

Rose McIver iZombie “I am looking forward to how we’re treating these very political overtones, and for a zombie comedy show to be dealing with them is an important thing.”

Aly Michalka iZombie “I’m excited about this new storyline that has really opened up our characters to such a bigger world in this zombie universe, now that the secret is completely out.”

Katherine McNamara

Camila Mendes

Shadowhunters “It’s exciting because we’ve been wanting to go to these places; we’ve been wanting to push the show before and now they’re letting us.”

Riverdale “Her relationship with her mother has changed, because Hiram now has changed the way her mother acts around Veronica.”

Ashleigh Murray

Colin O’Donoghue

Riverdale “Josie is going to be pursuing her music career a little bit more and the outcome of those choices is going to affect the dynamic of the Pussycats.”

Once Upon a Time “It’s sad to see the people that we’ve worked with for five, six years go, but I think for the fans it’s important for them to know that Hook and Emma are happy.

Lana Parrilla

Madelaine Petsch

Melissa Ponzio

Once Upon a Time “I spoke with Andrew [J. West] and he’s very comfortable and open about me touching his face and doing the things I would do with Jared [Gilmore], which I’m so grateful for.”

Riverdale “Cheryl seeks help and then she kind of takes the moment of burning down Thorn Hill as a rebirth for her. She’s taking over her life.”

Teen Wolf “We are still very excited and positive about where Teen Wolf is going with these ten episodes, and I find myself very excited about the future of people discoering what we’ve done.”

Tyler Posey

Ritesch Rajan

Dania Ramirez

Teen Wolf “Work hard, things don’t happen overnight, stay humble, be kind to others, be the kind of person that you want to work and always be easy to work with. I learned to be the leader.”

Stitchers “Honestly, getting to meet the fans who are so incredibly gracious. They’re waiting on lines to get these tickets and they’re so dedicated. It’s refreshing for us.”

Once Upon a Time “There’s this little girl and she’s the reason behind us needing to want to believe this time around, because children are not tainted.”

Lili Reinhert

Alberto Rosende

Dominic Sherwood

Riverdale “[Camila and I] are like two peas in a pod. We love working with each other, so we’re lucky in that sense.”

Shadowhunters “Even for me to watch [the trailer for the last four episodes] and be like, ‘Whoa, that’s going to be intense.’ I’m really excited.”

Shadowhunters “We kind of like, half tie it up, but then there’s a new part, but then we move on, but then this is going to catch up with that. Got it?”

Cole Sprouse

Emeraude Toubia

Andrew J. West

Riverdale “We still explore a lot of the mysteries that were put forward at the end of Season 1, but we’ve been given a lot more flexibility now that the show has recieved the acclaim that it has.”

Shadowhunters “I can’t wait for everyone to see the amazing work that Sarah Hyland put into [the Seelie Queen]. I love her and she gets to do really cool scenes.”

Once Upon a Time “We know that Henry met Cinderella on his journeys through various realms when he was a young man and went off on his own adventure, and they develop a complicated relationship.”


NKD Mag - Issue #74 (August 2017)  

Featuring: Candice Patton, Malcolm Kelley, Danielle Bradbery, Lindsay Arnold, Jillian Jacqueline, Charlie Worsham, Superfruit, Savannah Oute...

NKD Mag - Issue #74 (August 2017)  

Featuring: Candice Patton, Malcolm Kelley, Danielle Bradbery, Lindsay Arnold, Jillian Jacqueline, Charlie Worsham, Superfruit, Savannah Oute...