ISSUE 81 SUCRÃ‰
8 C1TY BLVD
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Contents ISSUE 81
THE GOODS 13 Beer from Here 17 Cocktail of the Month 20 Master Platers 61 You Oughta Know 65 Just Cause
FEATURES 24 Babo 32 SucrÃ©
42 Spring 2019 Nashville Fashion 52 Artist Spotlight: Georganna Greene
52 NATIVE NASHVILLE
Behind the Issue:
We live in a town of dreams, the likes of which have been the subject of many songs, movies, TV shows, and urban legends. Almost without exception, the key word in these stories about big dreams is well, big. Nashville (both the show and the movie), or “Down on Music Row,” wouldn’t really work if the characters therein had reasonable expectations. If they did, the whole narrative—that rote yet beloved story told most recently by nowOscar winner Lady Gaga—would fall apart. After all, who wants to watch a movie about a guy who moves to town with nothing but a secure, decently paying day job and dreams of one day opening for a mid-level touring act, or maybe just coming close to selling out Exit-In? Regardless of artists’ ambitions when they move here, the scenario we just described is what “making it” actually looks like for most folks in town. Some people may call this settling; they may think anything short of selling out Bridgestone or having a crappy biopic made about their meteoric rise to fame signifies failure. Well, we’re not part of that camp. We think making a modest living doing something you love—and doing it to the absolute best of your ability—is not only admirable, but enviable. If you’re doing that now, maybe it looks a little different than what you initially had mind. Maybe you have to supplement your income with a day job you’re not crazy about; maybe it means you’ll never be roommate-less; maybe it means touring in a 1997 Ford Aerostar
instead of a Learjet. No, the Country Music Hall of Fame won’t come knocking on your door anytime soon, and no, Rami Malek will never play you in a bad movie. But you’re doing what you want to do and making the art you want to make, so who gives a shit? If you got into the entertainment industry for stars on sidewalks or gold-plated plaques, not only are you delusional, but you are doing it for the wrong reasons. At the risk of sounding like a Nashville fortune cookie, we’ll simply sum it up by saying this: it’s the stuff you make that matters, not other people’s evaluation of it. That’s why we admire and respect the stories in this month’s issue. Whether it’s a group of local fashion designers, restaurateurs (we use that term loosely here), or musicians, the people in these pages are happy with what they’re doing—even if what they’re doing doesn’t involve world domination. To quote Darren King, one half of this month’s cover story, Sucré: “It’s okay if part of the dream has to die. And if maybe that part of the dream is that you’re super successful or really famous, maybe that part should have died a long time ago. And it’s even hard to let go of that. But I think we’ve done that to some degree slowly over the last few years, and now we just want to do something we love and be great parents.” That’s the sort of big dream we can get behind. Read the whole story beginning on page 32, and keep in mind that there’s no shame in landing among the clouds—they’re better than the ground.
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WITH CHARLIE HICKERSON Editor in Chief at NATIVE Beer Name: Cutaway IPA Brewery: Tennessee Brew Works Style: IPA ABV: 6% Food Pairing: Hot chicken sandwich and fries Appearance: Rusty brown, dark amber Aroma: Grapefruit and malt Where to Find It: Tennessee Brew Works taproom Overall Takeaways: Like festivals, assorted sporting events, and feigning exercise, rooftop drinking naturally occurs when the climate outside becomes tolerable. And while Nashville now offers seemingly endless options for getting sauced in the sky (I’m sure by the time this is printed, there will be three more celebrity rooftop bars on Broadway), I prefer a more low-key high-elevation drinking experience. That’s why I recommend spending a spring afternoon enjoying a Cutaway IPA and a hot chicken sandwich on Tennessee Brew Works’ taproom patio. On its own, this signature IPA from our friends in Pie Town is a treat—its bold, almost spicy citrus and rye flavors on the front end give way to a grapefruit finish that’s just my brand of bitterness. Pair the Cutaway with TN Brew’s take on hot chicken (a cayenne-heavy boneless breast smothered in beer cheese made from their Extra Easy pub ale, spicy Cutaway-brined pickles, and farm egg gribiche), and you’ve got a seriously delicious situation on your hands (and probably on your shirt too). The citrus and rye from the IPA keep the richness of the beer cheese at bay, while the aforementioned grapefruit-y bitterness washes down the heat from the chicken. There’s also a harmony pairing going on with the fries: the IPA’s rye notes unsurprisingly mesh perfectly with TN Brew’s in-house Basil Ryeman ketchup. So next time the sun is out, forego the lines and skylines of downtown and head a little bit south of downtown. Your taste buds will thank you.
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Violets & Lace
BY DONNY EVANS MANAGER AT THE OAK BAR AT THE HERMITAGE HOTEL
PHOTO BY GABRIEL MAX STARNER STYLING BY HEATHER HAYDEN
THE GOODS 2 oz Empress 1908 Gin 3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice crème de violette
DIRECTIONS Combine the gin, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice along with 1 bar spoon of the crème de violette. Stir for 30 seconds with a bar spoon. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
3431 Murphy ROAD // 1400 McGavock Pike - dosenashville.com
MASTER PL ATERS
BY RJ COOPER OF SAINT STEPHEN PHOTOS BY DANIELLE ATKINS
Beet and Goat Cheese Agnolotti
1 large beet 1/4 cup goat cheese 2 tbsp grated parmesan plus more for garnish 1 egg lightly beaten salt pepper 2 sheets fresh pasta dough (store-bought or homemade) 1 tbsp minced dill sprigs plus more for garnish 1 tbsp minced chives plus more for garnish 1/2 cup butter, cubed smoked trout roe for garnish
FOR THE FILLING:
FOR THE PASTA:
Cook the beet in a steamer for about 15 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Transfer the beet to a bowl filled with ice water to cool. When cooled, remove the skin and chop the beet coarsely. Add the beet, goat cheese, 2 tablespoons parmesan, egg and a pinch of salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to chill while rolling out the pasta dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil while assembling the pasta. Work quickly with the pasta dough and cover the remaining dough so it doesn’t dry out. Place a sheet of pasta, at least 5 inches wide, on a floured surface. Place the agnolotti filling in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe a “tube” of filling across the bottom of the pasta sheet, leaving a 3/4-inch border of pasta along the left, right and bottom edges. Pull the bottom edge of the pasta up and over the filling. Seal the agnolotti by carefully molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet; don’t drag your finger along the dough to seal or you risk ripping the dough. Seal the left and right ends of the dough. Starting at one end, pinch the dough together along the tube in 1-inch increments to create pockets of filling. Make sure to make the pinched area about 3/4 inch wide so the pasta remains sealed. Run a crimped pastry wheel along the top edge of the folded-over dough, separating the strip of filled pockets from the remainder of the pasta sheet. Don’t cut too close to the filling, or you risk breaking the seal. Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting the center of each pinched area, rolling the pastry wheel away from you. Working quickly, place the agnolotti on a baking sheet dusted with a thin layer of cornmeal, which will help prevent sticking. Don’t let the agnolotti touch each other or they may stick together. Repeat the same procedure on the remainder of your pasta sheets. Add the agnolotti to the salted boiling water and boil gently for 2 to 3 minutes until the pasta is cooked. The agnolotti will begin to float to the surface when the pasta is done cooking. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to serving plates. Reserve the pasta cooking liquid. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon minced dill and 1 tablespoon minced chives and cook for about 2 minutes. Gradually add the butter 1 cube at a time, allowing each cube to melt before adding the next. Spoon the butter sauce over the agnolotti and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated parmesan, more fresh dill and chives and smoked trout roe.
FOR THE PASTA:
Roll out each sheet of pasta dough using a pasta machine. Test the thickness of the sheet by placing your hand behind it (if you can make out the shadow of your hand behind the pasta, it is ready to be filled).
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Blitzkrieg Bibimbap by KYLE COOKE photos DANIELLE ATKINS
Much like the Ramones song it’s named for, Babo— East Nashville’s newest Korean bar and restaurant— finds success in keeping it simple
SARA NELSON AND JOSEPH PLUNKET KNOW WHAT MAKES
a good neighborhood bar. Before the two opened the beloved Five Points bar Duke’s in 2015, they lived in New York City, bartending in the East Village. Plunket was a bartender at the now-closed vegetarian diner Kate’s Joint. Nelson worked at a bar around the corner. At Kate’s, Plunket met Danny Song, who, along with his brother Tim, would go on to open Gaja in East Atlanta. The Korean restaurant (its name translating to “Let’s Go,” a nod to “Blitzkrieg Bop”) opened in 2016 to much acclaim. Nelson, Plunket, and the Song brothers have remained friends since their days in New York, and now they’ve reunited in Nashville. Three months ago, the group of four friends decided to combine their expertise and open Babo, a new Korean bar in East Nashville. On a dreary Saturday afternoon, I’m sitting in the corner booth at Babo (meaning “pinhead,” another Ramones reference) across from Plunket, Nelson, and Tim, chatting over coffee and Topo Chico. Tim lives in Madison now, but Danny splits his time between Nashville and Atlanta. Babo, located on the corner of Riverside Drive and Porter Road—an idyllic, if sleepy, little stretch of East Nashville—quietly opened in late November of last year. “The response has been great,” Plunket says. “This is the first press we’ve ever done. We haven’t done any advertising. We basically unlocked the doors and I feel like the neighborhood has been really receptive.” The Field of Dreams approach may seem a little risky, but the group had success with quiet rollouts at both Duke’s and Gaja. Plus, they were committed to making Babo a regular haunt for locals—the lack of fanfare was key in letting their immediate neighbors call first dibs. Even the bar’s exterior doesn’t draw too much attention. It’s painted all black save for the blue and red sign above the door with Babo written in Korean. “We wanted something that was going to work in the neighborhood,” Nelson said. “We didn’t want to have a place that’s going to be open until three in the morning with bands and craziness or whatever.” “I think most [customers] are in walking distance these days,” Tim adds. “It’s nice to see so many people that live around here.” The bar is the former location of Pied Piper Eatery, which was open for almost a decade until it closed its doors in February of last year. Nelson was getting a haircut when she heard the restaurant was closing and, with the help of some friendly landlords, snagged the spot for Babo with relative ease. “We landed right where we were supposed to, I think,” Plunket says. “We’ve been talking about this for two years. And we’ve been actively working on it for a year. To have it be here and look like this and be sitting here right now is very gratifying.” Babo is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m.
to 1 a.m. Children are allowed before eight, and the kitchen closes at midnight. The goal from the start was to make Babo the center of the Venn diagram between the founders’ previous projects—a little more bar than Gaja, a little more restaurant than Duke’s. “I think people are figuring out you can come here and have a quiet dinner and a drink with your kid at 5:30, or you can come here and party with your friends,” Nelson says. “There’s plenty of different experiences you can have here.” Babo’s versatility accommodates a full array of customers, be it local families looking for an affordable dinner—the most expensive menu item is the beef bulgogi at just fourteen dollars—or musicians craving late night food and drinks after playing a show, when most kitchens are starting to close for the night. “I came in here last night at 11:55 after playing a show at The Basement and ordered half the menu,” Plunket says. “It’s awesome.” “You can come in here and splurge and get everything on the menu with a bunch of your friends,” Nelson says. “Or you can come in when you’re super broke and spend twelve bucks and get a beer and something to fill you up.” Babo is a departure from most Korean spots in Nashville insofar as it is more bar than restaurant. There are no family-sized portions or wait staff like you’ll find at Korea House or Hai Woon Dai. “We don’t have a maître d’,” Plunket quips. However, with classic menu items like bibimbap and bulgogi, Babo’s kitchen is still true to form. “It had to be Korean enough to where my grandmother wouldn’t be upset at me,” Tim says with a laugh. “Some people may want a more traditional approach, so we try to stay as close to that as possible. But at the same time, we try not to get too serious with it. We just like to have fun with it sometimes.” Nashville does not have a large Asian population. The latest census estimates that less than four percent of Davidson County residents are Asian, meaning an even smaller fraction are Korean. Nonetheless, the Babo team wanted the stamp of approval from Nashville’s Korean community. “K&S people love us,” Tim says, referring to K&S World Market, the predominantly Asian international grocery store on Charlotte Pike. Babo gets all its Korean ingredients from K&S. Plunket adds that they also get a lot of love from the older Korean women that attend a church down the street from Babo. “It’s wonderful seeing the few Koreans that are around stop in,” Tim says. “I think the biggest difference between the traditional Korean restaurants in Nashville is just the presentation,” Plunket says. “I think [Babo is] very true to the flavors and the spirit of the dishes, it’s just made for drinking beer and eating at eleven at night.” Which is exactly what I do. At 11:30 on a Tuesday
night, to be exact. There are about half a dozen patrons when my friend and I walk through Babo’s heavy black door. We order food at the counter and take our number over to the bar where we each get a beer. Per a friend’s recommendation, I go with the pork katsu, a panko-breaded cutlet served with a side of purple cabbage slaw. The wonderfully crispy cutlets are topped with a sweet, tangy BBQ sauce as well as scallions and sesame seeds. Katsu is a traditional Japanese dish, but Babo puts their own Korean twist on it with the addition of a fantastic kimchi mayo. I could devour the dish whole were I not so clumsy with chopsticks (don’t worry, fellow yokels; they have forks. But you know, authenticity). My friend orders the fried chicken, which is also delicious. It’s seasoned with a fermented red chili paste called gochujang, but it’s nothing your local hot chicken enthusiast can’t handle. B abo a lso of fers nu merou s vegetarian options; almost half the menu is veggie friendly. Nelson never tires of the prideful, chest-pounding meat eaters surprising themselves by ordering—and loving—the vegan glass noodles. And, she says, they try their best to accommodate any dietary restrictions, especially if the diners are locals that frequent the bar. As Plunket says, convenience and comfort are their two favorite things. It’s refreshing to speak with restaurateurs who aren’t blinded by an ambition to become It City’s next big thing. When I ask the group what their goals are moving forward, the response is pretty low key: expanding hours, maybe adding an early happy hour in the spring. But you can’t blame them for being reserved. They set out to open a hospitable, accessible neighborhood watering hole—and they’ve done just that. “Community,” Tim concludes, “is more important than competition.” “We’re trying to be the best Korean restaurant on this block,” Plunket cracks. Well, pinheads. Mission accomplished.
1013 Fatherland St. 6592 Highway 100 Suite 1
EAST NASHVILLE BELLE MEADE
Babo is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
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Just the Two of Us Darren and Stacy King are rebuilding the family band one track at a time as SucrÃ© by LANCE CONZETT photos DYLAN REYES
THE FIRST THING DARREN AND STACY KING ASK
me about is my wedding ring. We’re sitting across from each other at the couple’s dining room table, steps away from the room where their daughters (six-year-old Scarlett and two-year-old Solenne) are occupying themselves while we chat. They ask me about my story before I can ask them about theirs, and they really mean it. Romantic love, after all, is at the center of what makes Sucré tick. “Whenever you get to make music with the person you love, there is an added joy,” Darren tells me. “And connection,” Stacy adds. That much is undeniable. But, to understand what Sucré has become, you need to understand where Stacy and Darren came from. Stacy King (née DuPree) joined her sisters in the band that would eventually become Eisley when she was only eight years old. Based in Tyler, Texas, a small city east of Dallas, the DuPree siblings (now counting brother/drummer/ten-yearold Weston among their ranks) took roost in their parents’ church-venue-turnedcoffee-shop as the house band, where their whimsical indie pop quartet opened for emo, indie, and pop punk acts. As buzz grew, Eisley found themselves signed to Warner Bros. and touring with Coldplay. “[It] was like the most insane culture shock you could ever imagine,” Stacy says. “I was shell-shocked and I was also so starstruck because I was a kid and they were my favorite band.” Meanwhile, four hundred miles southeast of Tyler in New Orleans, drummer Darren King was toying with Mutemath, an electronic-inflected rock band that took inspiration from artists like Björk and UNKLE. Mutemath found a similar groundswell, rocketing out onto the major label radar through dynamic, gymnastic live shows and a heady but approachable take on electronic rock music. Both bands found fast but frustrating success in the music industry. For Stacy, her band of “weird little homeschool art kids” (as she calls them) was pushed toward bubblegum pop rock. “Our label
wanted us to tour with Hilary Duff and be like the next pop whatever, you know, sibling pop act,” Stacy says. “We had to fight that off.” At the same time, Mutemath’s debut was misrepresented as Christian rock by Warner, a promotional misstep that could have cost the growing band the secular audience that it really aimed for. It’s easy to see how Mutemath and Eisley could find common ground. They toured together in 2007, including a date at the now-defunct Nashville venue City Hall. “I remember that whole tour more than any other tour,” Darren says. “I was pretty brokenhearted. Just a few months prior, my first real dating relationship had ended and I was devastated. And I was not expecting to have a crush on anyone, even though I was a big fan of Stacy and I was excited to get to know her. But I just couldn’t help [it], every night, watching their whole show.” At the same time, Stacy was deep into her first real dating relationship and pumped the brakes on the crush before it could take hold. “Three days later, after the tour was over, she emailed me saying, ‘Let’s not ever speak,’” Darren says. “I don’t know if I was that bold,” counters Stacy. “Okay, maybe it didn’t say, ‘Let’s never speak again,’ but it said, ‘Don’t reach out to me. I’ll contact you in the future,’” Darren says. “It was a shut door.” It was a year later before their paths crossed again, when Darren invited the Eisley crew to a bonfire at his house following their show at Rocketown in 2008. By then, Stacy’s relationship had ended, leading Darren to give her what he calls a “very strange” Hail Mary: a drawing of some frogs and a demo featuring a vocal track that Stacy had shared with him while they were on tour. That song, an unreleased track titled “Kiss from Mars,” was effectively the birth of Sucré. As the two began their relationship, they carried on with their own bands— Stacy with her family in Eisley and Darren with Mutemath. Darren moved to Tyler to be with Stacy; they married and started
a family, but they also continued to press onward under the pressure of label contracts and living the dream. Sucré, a project separate from the bands Darren and Stacy had been in for more than a decade apiece, was something of an escape hatch from the mainstream music industry. “I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the unhealthy parts of the music industry, and the dream for Sucré initially was to not fall into those traps. And the ambitions were never for it to be world dominating,” Darren says. “It was just a fun little side project, but it was good. “As time went on, we found Sucré to be a safe place for us to try and make music without the stress of it being our business,” he continues. “That was the kind of idea, that it was built to be just fun. That taught me a little bit more about what it’s supposed to feel like to make music and to write it.” The duo, with collaborator Jeremy Larson, who helped produce Darren’s Hail Mary demo, released their debut album, A Minor Bird, in 2012. It’s a plucky pop record that acts as a showcase for Stacy’s voice, with songs like “No Return” and “Chemical Reaction” bidding the listener into intimate corners. It’s completely different from the music the two made
in Eisley and Mutemath, with clever orchestration and lush strings pushing the vocals into a quiet sort of grandiosity. “I think it was especially hard for me to let go of that [Eisley] chapter of my life,” Stacy says. “It had been since I was a kid. Like ten years old, I played my first show and then fourteen, [we] did our first tour. It took me a little bit. But, you know, I was still happy to be collaborating with [Darren] and making music together. It was kind of like this side outlet for me. And then it kind of took over [and it’s] like, wait: I feel like this is more who I am, you know?” Evidently, Darren felt the same way. He parted ways with Mutemath, a gig that had him on the road for six months out of the year, in 2017. Since then Sucré has become a new kind of family band, different from the family band that Stacy literally and metaphorically grew up with. It’s a more mature, adult version, the kind of family that you choose and work to improve, where the moving parts and responsibilities of maintaining that family are more visibly apparent. Sucré tracks are recorded almost like love letters, with Stacy singing over the bones of tracks that Darren produces, each taking turns in musician and parent modes until the
song hits its point of perfection. It’s a sustainable way to be artists without sacrificing their duties as partners and parents. This kind of work-life balance applies to the release of their sophomore record, an album seven years in the making. Starting in March with “Roof,” the duo will release a new song every month on the first Friday of the month, leading up to a compilation of those singles on a limited vinyl record at the end of the year. If this model works, they hope to do it forever, shying away from the worldconquering aspirations that drove their previous bands. “I’ve heard that quote, ‘The prerequisite to good art is cheap rent.’ Because you can’t be scared. And that is a big part of the stress we feel consistently—making sure that our kids’ quality of life does not suffer just because we have a dream of being musicians. And it’s okay if part of the dream has to die,” Darren says. “And if maybe that part of the dream is that you’re super successful or really famous, maybe that part should have died a long time ago. And it’s even hard to let go of that. But I think we’ve done that to some degree slowly over the last few years, and now we just want to do something we love and be great parents.” This may not be the dream that most rock bands aspire to. After all, Stacy and Darren’s goals are relatively modest: to be good parents, to maintain their relationship, to continue creating music without compromising their artistic vision. But Sucré’s plan for a success that suits the sustenance of their family is, if anything, more admirable than a grand plan to sell out Madison Square Garden. In addition to redefining the family band—not as merely a band that contains family members, but as a band that sustains its family’s health and happiness—the Kings are finding their own version of the American Dream. And they don’t intend to stop anytime soon. “This idea,” Darren says, “if this feels good, I think we kind of just want to pursue that until we die.”
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Sucré’s latest single, “Roof,” is out now. NATIVE NASHVILLE
Made Exclusively for You, By Hand in Nashville
Nashville Fashion All wearing Andrew Gallivan
It’s that time of year again—that time when the sun comes out, our allergies start flaring up, and the hills come alive with the sound of sewing machines. That’s right folks, it’s time for the ninth annual Nashville Fashion Week, happening April 2–6 at Oz Arts, so naturally, we had to celebrate the occasion with a spring fashion editorial that showcases a few of our favorite local designers. We hope you enjoy this small sampling of Nashville’s diverse, innovative, and ever-evolving fashion community, and as always, we encourage you to keep your look local all year long. Photos DANIEL CHANEY Models DARIAS ALEXANDAR, SARAH EMA, AND MELISSA ANNE Styling/Hair and Makeup SOPHIA LAUER
Set Design NICHOLAS BARRETT
Melissa wearing Van Hoang
Darias wearing Ashe Cain
Melissa wearing Andrew Gallivan
Sarah wearing Andrew Gallivan
A SAFFRON DINNER THREADING THREE CULTURES - APRIL 20
MANEET CHAUHAN | LOUISA SHAFIA | SOPHIA AGTARAP Beneetting the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
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Artist Spotlight: Georganna Greene photos EMILY DORIO
Georganna Greene is a local freelance artist and art handler whose latest exhibit, WRIST CLOUD WARM, is showing April 5 to May 5 at the Red Arrow Gallery. Greene has a BFA from University of Tennessee, and she’s studied painting and art history at Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Italy. Previously her work appeared at the Julia Martin Gallery, Ground Floor Gallery, and Crosstown Arts Memphis, among others. WRIST CLOUD WARM marks Greene’s first foray into plein air practice, and the result is abstract work that uses natural settings as the jumping-off point for dense, challenging meditations on the symbiosis between humans and their environments. On WRIST CLOUD WARM: Together, these paintings document my progress over the last year, oscillating between studio projects and plein air practice. Experiences outside in protected parks, near bodies of water, beaches, and mountains inspire my current work. Driftwood, redwoods, and oak trees find their way into my abstract language as vehicles which visually lead the eye around the space created on the canvas. Like A D A G I O, my last solo show at Red Arrow Gallery, this body of work continues to investigate how physical sensation, movement, and tempo connect people to the wild. Drawing from my childhood as a ballet dancer and pianist, I recall a relationship between this familiar, everpresent tempo and the rhythmic process of making art. My paintings celebrate and link a sustainable, flourishing earth to a sustainable, flourishing self. Tension and sorrow preside here, visual groans happen within the fluid motion of the medium, and growing pains are given a voice. At the same time, the active pouring, dripping, sanding, spray paint, and technical brushwork merge together to create energized, warm moments. Painting helps me mourn what I feel we have lost, hope for betterment, and embrace the mystery in the meantime. —Georganna
YOU OUGHTA KNOW:
Leave it to Americans to try and turn a profit from anything. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about social justice, countercultures, or craftsmanship (can a sandwich from Wendy’s really be “artisanal”?), someone will find a way to squeeze a dollar out of it. Cash, as Method Man aptly put it in 1993, truly does rule everything around us. Perhaps then it’s not shocking that in the past few years, Wicca-inspired mysticism, the occult, and anything generally “witchy” have been subject to this sort of commodification. In the post-Grimes age, there are books about “witch self-care,” and Sephora even tried to sell a $42 “Witch Starter Kit” earlier this year (you really can’t make this shit up). The point: it’s hard to find something that feels authentically weird—something that makes you stand at attention and say, “What the fuck is this?” We’re thankful that local synth-goths HR_Lexy make us ask that very question in the very best way possible. There are lots of ways to try and describe the quartet, which is led by vocalist Arlene Sparacia. You could say they’re witch house or goth or
by NATIVE STAFF
photo EMILY DORIO
ambient performance art; you could say Sparacia is some kind of middle ground between Marina Abramovic and Siouxsie Sioux; you could say they pay homage to the theatrics of Kate Bush, the ethereal surrealness of Cocteau Twins, or the dark campiness of Bauhaus. But ultimately, you’re not going to “get” HR_Lexy unless you see them live. Through stage design, choreography, and a whole lot of noise, Sparacia transforms any venue into a haunting, dreamlike cosmos that will suck you in like a moth to (black) flame. If you get the opportunity, we really encourage you to go see them—just maybe leave the Sephora witch kit at home. When they aren’t giving Nashville nightmares, you can find Sparacia and company at Cafe Roze. Says the frontwoman via email: “They care about locally sourcing their ingredients from surrounding farms, and the staff there are some of the sweetest people I’ve had the privilege of knowing.” Who said goths have to be miserable?
HR_Lexy are playing Betty’s Grill on March 24. NATIVE NASHVILLE
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with Mike Floss by NATIVE STAFF illustrations COURTNEY SPENCER
In Just Cause, NATIVE checks in with musicians, artists, writers, chefs, and pretty much anyone else who has appeared in the magazine to see what they’re up to these days. We also ask about their favorite local nonprofit or charity. This month, we’re checking in with Mike Floss, who appeared on our cover in May 2016. Given it’s tax season, you probably don’t need this reminder, but we’ll share anyway: the only thing you can rely on in life are death and taxes. That means that change—in all of its scary, exciting, painful glory—is the only constant we have. Sometimes it’s great (hello, Babo), sometimes it’s not so great (RIP Fond Object), and sometimes it’s simply inevitable (traffic on I-24). Physics, biology, and general common sense dictate (to use a Lynchian analogy) that even if that gum you like is currently out of style, it will come back in style at some point. Such is the case with hip-hop. To say that rap has changed since 2016, when Mike Floss appeared on NATIVE’s cover following the release of Don’t Blame the Youth, is an understatement and a half. Atlanta has, for all intents and purposes, dominated the world; the guy who called out George W. Bush on national TV now wears a MAGA hat; and Soundcloud rap has come, gone, and become big business. Through all this, Floss naturally changed as well. His sophomore album, 2017’s Tennessee Daydream, boasted aggressive, autotune-forward bangers that resembled Future’s now-classic Honest, while smoother tracks like “Peach Soda” saw Floss venturing into soulful, Anderson .Paakesque crooning. Now, on his latest bunch of loose singles, Floss seems like he’s split the difference between those two worlds, creating simply good, no-bullshit hip-hop that exists outside of current rap trends or waves. Take his latest single, “Truth,”
which features Reggie and AC Noel (they released the track under the moniker of CKDO Sounds), as an example. Over a refreshingly minimal beat from local producer Tyler Sechrest (Big Bruno Beats), Floss and company comfortably flow and trade verses with relaxed assuredness. This is the sound of three guys effortlessly riding on a beat and vibing, just like so many hip-hop trios before them. And in an era of extremely suspect, Blueface-style flows, that’s sort of revolutionary in its own right. To quote the track’s hook: “I ain’t got nothing to prove.” Given his current classic-with-a-twist sound, Mike Floss’ pick of favorite local nonprofit is fitting. He chose Trap Garden, a social enterprise whose mission is to “help build, sustain, and empower lowincome communities by assisting in the creation of community gardens and the promotion of healthy eating.” Says Floss about the 501(c)3: “Trap Garden does an amazing job of making a healthier lifestyle cool and achievable. One thing in the black community that often gets overlooked, especially in the South, is how recipes handed down over generations aren’t really uplifting our bodies. So Trap Garden showed me how we can keep our soul and identity while making some positive changes to our diet. Their community work is outstanding, and I look forward to supporting them in any way I can in the future.” If you would like to support Trap Garden, visit trapgarden.org, and if you would like to support Mike Floss and CKDO Sounds, stream “Truth” now.
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Featuring Sucré, Georganna Greene, Babo, 2019 Nashville Spring Fashion, and much more.