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ISSUE 75 R AY L A N D B A X T E R


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CONTENTS

THE GOODS

ISSUE 75

17 Cocktail of the Month

13 Beer from Here 20 Master Platers 78 You Oughta Know 83 It’s Only Natural 86 Shooting the Shit

FEATURES 26 Pearl Diver 38 Rayland Baxter 48 Henrietta Red 60 Artist Spotlight: Ed Nash

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70 Contributor Spotlight: Laura E. Partain

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B R OW N L E E Get comfortable.

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BEHIND THE ISSUE:

Fall is officially upon us, y’all. This is the part where we’re supposed to make a joke about pumpkin spice or cardigans or how we’re just happy it’s not (quite as) hot anymore. We’re not going to do that though. Why? One, it’s boring. Your aunt is probably making a pumpkin spice joke on Facebook right now. Two, we encourage you to enjoy your season however you’d like. Listen to a little Death Cab, knit a scarf, mainline cinnamon—you do you. Reclaim your basicness. Despite the soon-to-be falling leaves and all that comes with them, we actually started thinking about summer while reading this issue. More specifically, we started thinking about summer vacations and the mindset that’s supposed to come with them (or any travel, for that matter). As writer Cat Acree put it in this month’s

PRESIDENT, FOUNDER: PUBLISHER, FOUNDER: OPERATIONS MANAGER:

ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN JOE CLEMONS

EDITOR IN CHIEF: COPY EDITOR:

CHARLIE HICKERSON DARCIE CLEMEN

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: ART DIRECTOR: SENIOR ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE: ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVES:

EVENTS AND ACTIVATIONS COORDINATOR: ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVE/ ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR: PRODUCTION MANAGER:

HANNAH LOVELL COURTNEY SPENCER

piece on Pearl Diver: “How sweet a thought, that travel can be an escape. For a week, maybe ten days, you can conceive of a new life.” It’s a fitting sentiment for an issue of NATIVE that feels a little distant, perhaps even a little exotic. There’s France and Spain and Italy in the Henrietta Red story; everywhere from Japan to Cuba in the Pearl Diver piece; and there’s a secluded rubber band factory in the cover story on Rayland Baxter (not everybody’s idea of a getaway, but hey, again, you do you). You could, as Acree wrote, conceive of a new life in some of these places. You could pretend you’re in Call Me By Your Name or Amelie, you could sit somewhere new and imagine how everyone around you got there, or you could simply envision how it could all be different in a different place.

PHOTO INTERNS: MARKETING AND DESIGN INTERN:

ERIN OQUINDO

WRITERS:

CAT ACREE CHRIS PARTON JONAH ELLER-ISAACS COOPER BREEDEN

HUNTER CLAIRE ROGERS

PHOTOGRAPHERS:

FOUNDING TEAM:

MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN

NINA KOWALKE

EDITORIAL INTERN:

KELSEY FERGUSON SHELBY GRAHAM ANDRÉS BUSTAMANTE

HANNAH DEITS CHANCE JARVIS

It’s tempting, especially in the summer and especially when you’re on vacation, to succumb to this mindset—to get lost in the long weekend, as it were. But this fall, we encourage you to be right here, right now. We encourage you to take the things you learned or saw or felt over the summer and bring them into this season. It’s better than posting Insta pics of your vacation for, like, three months, and after all, there’s no sense in crying over spilled piña colada, now is there? Special thanks to longtime NATIVE photographer-stylist team Dylan Reyes and Balee Greer for this month’s cover shoot (can they adopt us already, please?). Also, shoutout to Chris Parton for continuing his work as the music profile whisperer in this month’s cover story. Check out both on page 38.

FOUNDER, BRAND DIRECTOR:

DAVE PITTMAN

FOUNDER:

CAYLA MACKEY

FOR ALL INQUIRIES:

HELLO@NATIVE.IS

NICK BUMGARDNER DANIELLE ATKINS EMILY DORIO DYLAN REYES SARAH B. GILLIAM LAURA E. PARTAIN ZACHARY GRAY

PAIGE PENNINGTON GUSTI ESCALANTE

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WITH SHELBY GRAHAM Account Representative at NATIVE Beer Name: Lil’ Blondie Brewery: Diskin Cider Style: Semi-Sweet Southern Cider ABV: 5.6% Food Pairing: Honey-lemon glazed salmon Appearance: Clean blonde Aroma: Crisp apple Where to Find It: Diskin Cider Overall Takeaways: Fall is finally in the air here in Nashville, and what better way to celebrate than with a crisp apple cider like Diskin’s Lil’ Blondie? Not only is it the perfect drink for the season, but it’s perfect for people like me who don’t drink a lot of beer and need to avoid gluten. Diskin gets hard cider just right, using only fresh apples and no added sugar. It’s bubbly, not too sweet, and super refreshing. Even better, Diskin Cider just opened the first cidery in Nashville! So now you can find Lil’ Blondie at their space in Wedgewood-Houston in addition to grocery stores and restaurants around town. One of my favorite meals is my mom’s salmon that she tops with a honeylemon glaze and pairs with seasoned roasted vegetables. The crispy-yet-sweet apple notes of the Lil’ Blondie work as a harmony pairing with the honeylemon glaze while simultaneously contrasting the savory veggies. It really is the perfect sweet-savory combo to ease you into fall.

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TO INFINIT Y AND BEYOND:

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BY FREDDY SCHWENK BEVERAGE CONSULTANT, MINERVA AVENUE

PHOTO BY NICK BUMGARDNER

THE GOODS 2 oz gin 3/4 oz lemon juice 3/4 oz Torani Vanilla Honey Syrup

DIRECTIONS Add the ingredients to a shaker tin and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

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MASTER PL ATERS

BY TONY GALZIN EXECUTIVE CHEF AND PARTNER AT NICKY’S COAL FIRED

PHOTOS BY DANIELLE ATKINS

ROASTED OKRA WITH BACON VINAIGRETTE & BREADCRUMBS

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THE GOODS

DIRECTIONS

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 1 tsp lemon juice 2 tbsp olive oil,   plus more to coat okra 1 tbsp minced parsley 1 lb fresh okra 1 lb thick cut bacon champagne vinegar 1 shallot, minced

FOR THE BREADCRUMBS

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

FOR THE OKRA

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the panko, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and parsley in a bowl and toss until evenly distributed. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light brown.

Cut the bacon into matchstick-size pieces and cook until crispy. Reserve the bacon for another use and save all the rendered fat.

Preheat the oven to 500 F. Cut the okra in half longways and toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the okra in a large cast iron skillet and bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until many of the okra pieces are caramelized and crispy.

Keeping the fat warm (so it stays fluid), mix the bacon fat with the vinegar in a ratio of 4 parts fat to 1 part vinegar (for example, 1 cup bacon fat to 1/4 cup vinegar). Stir in the shallots and keep warm.

Transfer the okra to a plate and drizzle liberally with the warm bacon vinaigrette. Top generously with the breadcrumbs. Finish with a bit of flaky sea salt.

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FIDLAR w/ DILLY DALLY, NOBRO - CANNERY BALLROOM FUTURE GENERATIONS w/ ZULI - THE HIGH WATT SWIRLIES w/ IDLE BLOOM, MOUTH READER - THE HIGH WATT DONOVAN WOODS AND THE OPPOSITION - THE HIGH WATT NOAH CYRUS - CANNERY BALLROOM IDLES w/ BAMBARA - THE HIGH WATT THE LIL SMOKIES w/ RROANOKE - THE HIGH WATT S T R I K I N G M AT C H E S - T H E H I G H WAT T M A E - T H E H I G H WAT T

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Musicians Corner returns to Centennial Park in September for September Sundown, a new series on Thursday nights that features free music, food trucks, the MC Pub, local artisans, and more.

VIEW FULL CALENDAR AT MUSICIANSCORNERNASHVILLE.COM


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On Island Time

New bar Pearl Diver aims to give us all a tropical yet thoughtful getaway on the East side


by CAT ACREE

photos EMILY DORIO

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HOW SWEET A THOUGHT, THAT TR AVEL

can be an escape. For a week, maybe ten days, you can conceive of a new life. You can, as Paul Theroux wrote, “fall in love, have little children under the palm trees.” It feels so good to believe that it’ll all be different, now that home is so far away. But travel as only escape—favoring ease over discover y—is, to quote another torchbearer of experiencing the world, Anthony Bourdain, like being in “hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico, and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s.” My point (and Bourdain’s, I think): treating real places— places where real people actually live and work and fall in love—like overgrown amusement parks defeats the purpose of travel. You have to go in with courage, manners, a fearless stomach, and an open palm. Humility is mandatory; respect is imperative. Luckily, East Nashville’s Pearl Diver exemplifies this approach. In a world without Bourdain, where it can feel embarrassing to travel abroad as an American, Pearl Diver is what it looks like when you get out there, respect what you find, and bring the love back home. It’s also what happens when four of Nashville’s hospitality veterans—Ben Clemons and Jamie White of No. 308, and Matt Spicher and Corey Ladd of The Treehouse—turn inward and ask each other what’s possible from a bar, rather than looking to see what’s popping up in New York and L.A. and replicating it here because that’s hot and that’s what people want. This probably needs to be said: Pearl Diver is not a tiki bar. You’ll find no ooga-booga porcelain glasses that look

like something Indiana Jones nearly got himself killed trying to steal. There are no spectacles of dry ice, no bamboo partitions or sea grasses, no rope nets hanging from the ceiling. The project did, however, grow from a tiki seed. Three years ago, Clemons transformed 308’s typically slow Tuesday evenings into Tiki Tuesday. “Everyone was super happy because they were just drinking rum,” he says. “No one was drinking whiskey, none of this combative thing.” The next week, they did it again and went for decorations, even laying Astroturf on the bar. But two years ago, when the four guys initially started asking what their new venture could be, they found themselves considering some important questions: Do we want to participate in something as trendy as tiki? How do we navigate a fad while striving for timelessness? Isn’t tiki a little racist? As a result of these discussions (often held at the Donelson Strike and Spare), Pearl Diver conjures the vibe of a relaxed island lounge—slow pace, easy drinking, a deep breath—but with the sense that it will proudly weather the passing of time, as slowed down as that time is. Three weeks after Pearl Diver’s grand opening, the four owners are sitting together in an expansive booth at their bar, the seats covered in seafoam green boat vinyl, the three-foot trophy for their bowling team (Tree-08) just over White’s shoulder. They refer to each other as brothers throughout our conversation, endlessly marveling at each other’s talents and honoring what each man has brought to the project. “We’ve all opened places,” Spicher says. “We could’ve all done this without each other. But it would’ve been

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nothing like what it is when you get four guys together that care. We care a lot.” Spicher, the oldest, pegs himself as the leader: “I’m always the kind that says, ‘Let’s debate, let’s vote on that.’ Trying to be collective, judicious, democratic about this.” He’s been in the music business for about twenty-five years, as everything from an artist manager to a guitarist, and the other guys speak of his perfectionism toward the bar’s sound setup with no small amount of awe. Spicher calls Ladd his “appendage,” which we all giggle at because it’s a little gross, but it’s also a deeply tender statement. Ladd, who taps at his tablet throughout the conversation, is recognized as a worshipper of functionality. “How’s it going to stand the test of time?” he says. “How’s it going to actually flow and function? That was the only concern of mine. I trusted these other guys 100 percent to do what they did, which is make it beautiful.” Clemons and White get a lot of the credit for the interior design, having cultivated a mid-century dream house of palm fronds, Brazilian teak cabanas, and candlelit nooks. At night, a projector overhead shows black-and-white surfer films. Even the hand dryers in the bathroom have style. Each of the four guys has traveled extensively (Spicher has been to fortytwo countries), and the lessons and love brought home are all over the bar. Ladd and White visited Japan together, where they stood in the street with yakitori (skewered meat grilled over charcoal), and that streetfood accessibility informed the entire menu. “It’s accepting and falling in love with that culture no matter where you’re

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at,” Ladd says. “In a lot of ways, America is a very young country, and a lot of other cultures look at us as, in a sense, toddlers. We have to be able to bring part of that back with us, in order to incorporate that love and pay respect and homage to it.” A few years ago, Clemons and White f lew in a four-seater plane to Cuba, where they learned the right way to make daiquiris. The Pearl Diver bartenders juice their own sugar cane to make it exactly right, and the result is a tangy little sip from a coupe—just blended rum, pressed sugar cane, and lime. “We didn’t want to do the American version of it,” White says. “They’re totally different drinks.” Clemons scoffs: “‘Hemingway daiquiri.’ That’s not what Hemingway drank. We sat at the house where they have a statue of Hemingway, and the stool [where he sat], and we had those daiquiris and were like, ‘What the hell is everyone in America making?’” For all their insistence that Pearl Diver isn’t tiki, it’s apparent that some of the traditions of tiki have come forward. Their menu includes a mai tai, which is a tiki creation (though their menu nods to the debate of the drink’s original recipe: Was it Vic Bergeron in ’44 or Don the Beachcomber in ’33?), and some of the drinks come with a bit of fire. But perhaps the best part of tiki, which also comes into play at Pearl Diver, is the tradition of reveling in an amalgamation of island flavors. Rum forms the heart of so many tropical cocktails, but this is no rum bar. White points out forty kinds of mezcal, “easy-drinking” beers, agave products (like sotol, which you can try in a smoky Las Curvas), and a huge selection of cachaça (“Probably one of the


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largest lists in the South,” White says), which is necessary for making the perfect caipirinha. And just as the drinks jump from place to place, so does the food. “It’s island cuisine, just not all one island,” Spicher explains. From Treehouse chef Jason Zygmont comes a menu that island-hops from Japan to Cuba, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South America, with fish tacos, lo mein, wings, and oysters— and of course, the Cubano. “ We have the best Cubano in Nashville, pretty convinced of it, if not the larger region than that,” Spicher says. “But it’s only because [we fought] for what we knew was right. The first version of the Cubano, the second, just keep going and going until we get it right. The right mustard, the right bread.” Clemons chimes in: “You don’t get a Cubano in Cuba, because they don’t have half of those ingredients. A Cubano was created in Miami for their [feeling of] missing Cuba. Ham and bread is what you get to live on in Cuba when you’re there. That sandwich is an emotional thing.” Herein lies the heart of Pearl Diver— the thing that keeps it from being like one of those hermetically sealed popemobiles. The guys obviously can’t bring an island to you, but they’re not trying to; rather, they’re bringing that feeling , that emotion of being there, wherever there may be. There’s some travel memory here, held within the flavors. It may not be the sea, but it could be the sound of the sea. It is, as Clemons said about the Cubano, an emotional thing indeed. “You can’t go to Disneyland forever, but Disneyland feels like it’s going to be there forever,” Clemons says. “We don’t expect our guests to be here forever, but I want us to be here for when the guests want that feeling.”

Pearl Diver is open Monday through Saturday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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The Art of Seclusion

After writing in an abandoned rubber band factory for three months, Nashville native and roots-rock poet Rayland Baxter has emerged with Wide Awake, a politically charged anti-manifesto that’s still fun enough to play at a backyard cookout


by CHRIS PARTON

photos DYLAN REYES

styling BALEE GREER

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“HUM ANIT Y IS A BEAUTIFUL THING TO

witness and be a part of, because it’s like from the beginning of time we’ve been murderers and nurturers,” Rayland Baxter says of the heavy worldview which permeates his ambitious new LP. “But I just wrote an album about things I think about on a daily basis, from love and lust to self-satisfaction to politics and gun laws.” True enough. Wide Awake is a study in contrast that speaks to the time period it inhabits—taking modern society to task but striving to focus on individual responsibility, and doing it with a sinewy throwback sound. It’s plugged in and well-informed, and it features an amalgamation of influences ranging from Beatles-esque pop sophistication to Laurel Canyon rock idealism to the laid-back lack of pretension often associated with Music City. But strangely enough, it’s also the result of a self-imposed exile of three months—one where Baxter purposely unplugged and did nothing but write songs alone in a former rubber band factory with virtually nothing but a notepad, plenty of cigarettes, and his thoughts to occupy the time. Although if he’s honest, those thoughts would sometimes wander. “I might have took a few mushrooms every once in a while,” he says with a smirk, recalling the heady experience from the more-civilized confines of an East Nashville photography studio. Tall and lean with a quiet confidence about him—plus a thick mustache and ever-present fisherman’s cap—it’s not hard to imagine Baxter prowling lonely, darkened hallways with a chemical smile and music on the brain. With two buzzedabout folk-rock albums already under his belt (2012’s Feathers & Fishhooks and 2015’s Imaginary Man), he’s dropped out in the name of creativity before. But for Wide Awake, he took his impulse to new extremes. “I just wanted to be by myself,” he

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explains, thinking back to how his album of critiques—both personal and systemic— came to be. “I really enjoy my time alone, just giggling at my thoughts or wearing a different set of shoes for a little bit and going into the mind of someone else.” His three months in the factory—home to Thunder Sound Studio in Franklin, Kentucky, about forty-f ive minutes north of Nashville—was the longest time Baxter has ever spent alone. It was also the longest time he’s focused solely on writing, resulting in an album which feels like a personal diary of musical prose and “the height of me understanding what ‘the thing’ is,” Baxter says. “All of my favorite writers have done this, so it was like, ‘How can I tap into this and turn on extreme focus?’” he explains. “For me, I wanted to go somewhere to a cabin, so I looked on Airbnb and nothing seemed to be what I wanted—and also it was gonna be very expensive. So I remembered my buddy Billy Swayze is up in Franklin, and I went up there and he was like, ‘Yeah man, you can stay here for free and use the place to write’ . . . I liked it, it was haunting, and it cost me no money. So I just locked the door and went to town.” During the day people were in and out of the studio itself, but Baxter took full advantage of his hideaway’s innate privacy. The Thunder Sound “factory” is not really a factory filled with machines, he explains. It’s more like a sprawling complex with a series of buildings, including a big shed “filled with old rubber wristbands from the pre–Lance Armstrong era.” One building holds the studio and tracking room, a kitchen, and a large “thunder chamber,” which itself contains three small offices. And one of those offices became Baxter’s home. “I took blankets and stapled them over the windows, threw down a mattress, and at the end of it I had written like fifty songs,” he says. Ten standouts made the album, and although many labels


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have been applied to his work over the past beat, carefree piano lines, slinky electric eight years—alternative country, indie rock, guitars, and Baxter’s wiry vocal, the lyrics Americana—Baxter continues to reject any highlight the changing nature of what it means official genre distinction, instead preferring to to be an American. “I’m going through different kinds of call his work that of a simple singer-songwriter. “Americana? I don’t know that is, nor do I humans,” Baxter says, breaking into the song’s know what indie rock is—independent rock opening verse and hinting that it could be a ‘n’ roll?” he asks. “What was Bob Dylan or Neil description of then-candidate Donald Trump. Young or Paul Simon or Leonard Cohen? They “They’re little snippets, like the guy born into a were poets and they were singers, so that’s a wealthy family who had everything he wanted, but was twisted from the get-go . . . And at the singer-songwriter, I guess?” No matter what you call it, Wide Awake end of it, I’m just trying to do my best and be does feature a distinct sonic mix, helped an honest person with other people and myself. along by musical chameleon Butch Walker, a But the whole time if you look out your window producer with a rap sheet so diverse it includes it’s like, ‘No, everyone is hooked up and tapped both Taylor Swift and Sevendust. “It was in, obsessed with fame and money and power terrifying how quick he and his engineer got it and the me.’” sounding good,” Baxter says. Likewise, “79 Shiny Revolvers” comes off Indeed, Wide Awake ’s sound is another like a scathing-yet-lighthearted indictment of triumphant-if-unexpected combination—one American gun culture, presented in a way that that seems to recall the British Invasion with lands somewhere between Revolver and Sgt. bright melodies, neatly placed bass lines, and Pepper’s. sing-song vocal compositions, but with a little “That’s my desire to write a song about all-American sneer thrown in. When combined something that makes no sense at all, which is with Baxter’s poetic lyrics, the overall effect human decision-making and what we do when is clever but not sarcastic. Instead, it feels we’re at the crossroads,” he says. “We make like a sincere mix of curious wit and personal trillions of decisions during a lifetime—I just experience. decided to cross my legs and tell you about it, “I’m not expressing anything really, other there’s two decisions right there. Then when than I’m observant of a couple of things that someone is running at me and I have a gun in are going on,” he says. “But there’s no hitting my hand, and they don’t, what’s the decision the nail on the head and forcing anyone to I’m going to make?” make a decision. It’s like, ‘Let’s have a laugh Not every song was written during Baxter’s about some serious shit for a second.’” Kentucky exile. He started writing the first The album’s title reveals the approach: “It’s single, “Casanova,” years ago, inspired by a just two words that sound good next to each student-loan provider who seemed to behave other,” he explains with the wave of a hand. like a greedy, obsessed girlfriend Baxter had “And then in terms of the world, we’re about never met. as awake as we’ve ever been. Whether that’s “There was this rep from Sallie Mae who good or bad, everybody is paying attention would call me like seven times a day after I to everything, it seems. Weather patterns, got out of college, saying that I owed some political movements—we’re all curious about ridiculous amount of money that I didn’t have,” each other.” he explains. “Not even like a payment plan, Leadoff track “Strange American Dream” just like, ‘You’re delinquent, you owe this huge was written during the turmoil of the 2016 number.’” presidential election. Over a spring-loaded The track features a bit of suave strut and

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lots of rock defiance, but there’s also a sense of and fell backward into a tree, and a broken futility in lines like the chorus opener: “I got a branch sliced his head open,” Baxter explains, elaborating on the upbeat track’s backstory—a real bad feeling Imma let her down.” “I pay every month now,” he says with a sigh. vivid tale that brings the anthemic character “It’s just part of being an American, I guess— studies of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Elton you’ve gotta borrow money to go to school, and John, or even Billy Joel to mind. “The campus that strangeness is part of the track. If you’re police showed up immediately and were like, not exceptionally gifted or a member of society ‘Did you do this?’ I was like, ‘Uh, yeah. But . . .’” As a result, Baxter moved back home and, who lives under a certain financial bracket, it’s gonna be really hard to go to college. There is a inspired by his pedal-steel-playing, former whole thing of suppression that exists—and I Bob-Dylan sideman father, Bucky Baxter, took up a new hobby. The assault charge even don’t even go that deep with the song.” Much of the remaining album explores the lingered on his record until two years ago, more conventional themes of love, loneliness, when he was finally allowed to enter Canada on and lust, while another standout track, “Hey tour. But in keeping with the album’s theme of Larocco,” reveals the circumstances that made big-picture thinking, “Hey Larocco” isn’t angry. Baxter an artist in the first place. And it also In fact, it comes across as full of joy and even a little gratitude. ties directly into his craving for seclusion. Being stuck in jail for trying to help a For a little background: Baxter wrote much of his excellent first album ( Feathers friend, then being shunned by the school he & Fishhooks) while living in Israel for six was trying hard to fit into, actually set Baxter months, feeling inspired by a different rhythm up to embrace the path he follows today. Ever of life and the self-discovery that came with since that moment, he’s been making his own anonymity. Before that, he spent a summer in a way, dropping off the beaten path from time to tiny Colorado ghost town with a population of time and looking at life with a different, more about four hundred. Baxter had retreated there skeptical perspective. Wide Awake is just the to do some soul searching after leaving college, latest product of that experience. a story revealed in singalong rock style on “Hey “It was a crazy crossroads, because who Larocco.” knows what would have happened if I hadn’t The song recounts a brush with the law in got in that fight,” he says. “I got kicked out of Baltimore that effectively ended life as Baxter school for a year, so I moved back to Nashville knew it—including his lacrosse career, his and that’s when I started playing guitar . . . All studies at Loyola University, and his pursuit of the time we get bugs on our windshield, you an advertising degree. With good intentions, he know? And we don’t see past that. So I wrote had intervened in a fight and ended up charged to remind myself to use the windshield wipers with second degree assault, spending three and see the sunset, and notice that it’s an nights in jail and getting kicked out of school incredible miracle.” for a year. “I just was like, ‘Get off of him!’ And I Rayland Baxter is currently on tour. tossed this guy back, but he was wasted Wide Awake is available now.

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FLY WITH US. 706-398-3541 - HANGLIDE.COM

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(Not So) Distant Shores

Julia Sullivan and her team at Henrietta Red have gained national recognition for their fantastic seafood-forward menu . . . in Tennessee?


by JONAH ELLER-ISA ACS

photos DANIELLE ATKINS

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Is it strange that some of the best seafood I ate all year was in notably landlocked Tennessee? Hardly. —Brett Martin, GQ , April 2018 PEOPLE LOVE HENRIETTA RED. I MEAN L-O-V-E

love. Passionate, ecstatic love. Chef Julia Sullivan and General Manager/Sommelier Allie Poindexter opened Henrietta Red in February 2017. In the eighteen months since, they’ve piled up culinary accolades like shucked oysters at a raw bar. I’ve ventured to the third page of search results, and I’m still finding more praise. Bon Appétit. OpenTable. James Beard Best New Restaurant semifinalist (and that’s for the entire country, not just the South). Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs. Eater Nashville ’s Restaurant of the Year and Design of the Year. And to top it off, GQ named Henrietta Red as one of the thirteen best new restaurants in America. Though Henrietta Red is steadily heading toward the evening meal rush—Sullivan and her staff have a three-hour window between brunch and dinner service—the chef has joined me in the bar lounge. Of her restaurant’s many honors, it’s the GQ piece that Sullivan points out. Why do you think you’re so beloved? I ask. The writer for GQ answered a similar question for his thirteen picks, and she summarizes for me. “For whatever reason, the meal, and the service, and the food, it all comes together in this particular way on that particular night that makes you go, ‘Man, there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be than right here, right now.’” Sullivan considers it the highest praise. “It was actually a huge honor, because that’s exactly what you’re hoping for, is for someone to come in your restaurant and feel that way.” Henrietta Red’s menu is a balancing act between the briny spark of the ocean on one hand and the smoky comfort of a wood-fired oven on the other. But Sullivan finds GQ ’s assessment meaningful because a pleasurable restaurant visit is so much more than the cuisine. “For me it’s not just about the food. It really is about Nashville, and the space, the

whole feeling, connecting with the guest . . . We think of our menu very holistically. That’s how we think of our whole experience.” Germantown is melting amidst the dog days of summer, but inside it’s cool and refreshing. Sullivan gestures toward the Nashville skyline. “I’m from here,” she tells me. “Born at Vanderbilt. Went to University School.” And then this surprise. “I wasn’t particularly interested in food until my later high school years.” All that changed when Sullivan visited France. “I went to Chalon-sur-Saône. It was outside of Lyon, in Burgundy . . . I was over there for about six weeks, living with a family that had a backyard garden, and the food was very different. Very simple.” For the first time, she tells me, she understood the pure beauty of food—and the work involved. “Before, I probably took it for granted a little bit. I sort of stopped once I got over there, and my eyes were opened.” Sullivan graduated from USN and returned to Europe. “It sort of just progressed from there,” she laughs. Spain, Italy, France again. After eating her way across the continent, she came home and headed to Tulane for college— and it all came together in New Orleans. “The city has such rich cultural history. Some of the restaurants are a hundred years old. In Nashville, it’s a big deal to be ten years old.” I imagine Sullivan experiencing the gumbo, the jambalaya, the beignets and étouffées and realizing, as she puts it, “Man, this is something I really wanna be a part of.” After hostessing and serving during her first year at Tulane, Sullivan left the Big Easy for the summer and came back to Music City seeking restaurant work. Emphasis, at first, on seeking. “I actually applied to work at Margot. She had a really small kitchen and I had no experience. So I didn’t get the job.” Sullivan chuckles at her clueless past self. “I ended up taking a job working for Laura Wilson at Wild Iris in Brentwood.” Wilson was an early mentor and is still a friend, Sullivan shares. Since then, Wilson has founded Citizen Kitchens, a food business

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incubator in The Nations. Via email, she thinks back on her pupil’s time at Wild Iris. “Our kitchen was the smallest I had ever seen, much less worked in. So we were a tight-knit staff of six for lunch and dinner.” Wilson recalls Sullivan’s reserved determination. “She was very young and quiet but had decided that she wanted to cook . . . The beauty of that small of a kitchen is that everyone is right at your elbow, and you can watch what people do carefully. She was meticulous and thorough . . . I imagined at the time that she would continue cooking, because she seemed to enjoy the pressure cooker of it.” Sullivan was in love with the kitchen, and there was no stopping her. From Wild Iris and stints at a handful of now-defunct Nashville eateries, her career hurtled forward: a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, then into some of the world’s most renown kitchens. Thomas Keller’s Per Se. Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Sullivan returned to Nashville in 2013 with a roughly drafted business plan. First, though, she wanted to find out how the city was coming along. “When I really started thinking about opening this restaurant, [Nashville] was a very different place than it is now.” “What I remember,” Sullivan recalls of her childhood, “is that we did not eat out a lot. My parents all cooked and we ate at home a lot . . . Margot opened the same year that I graduated from USN, if that gives you an indication of where the industry was. It was just beginning to open up.” Bet ween Sullivan’s youth and her h o m e c o m i n g , N a s h v i l l e ’s c u l i n a r y transformation was dramatic. But since 2013 it’s increased at a ludicrous speed, as she’s quick to point out: “It’s changed more in the last five years than it has in the last fifteen.” Tens of thousands of newcomers notwithstanding, Nashville can still be a small town. You run into your brother-in-law at

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Kroger. Your ex at 3 Crow. Or your buddy from elementary school at a bowling alley. That was the case with Sullivan and her friend since first grade, Max Goldberg, of Strategic Hospitality, the inf luential restaurant group behind Pinewood Social, Bastion, and now, Henrietta Red. “My first job I took when I moved home was opening sous chef at Pinewood Social.” Getting to work with an old friend was a bonus, but Sullivan explains why getting her feet wet was so important. “I wanted to be an opening manager at a restaurant because I hadn’t worked in Nashville for ten years, so I wanted to see what the city was like, what the customers were like, what the purveyors were like.” Her original plans for Henrietta Red didn’t include any investment operations like Strategic. “[I] was kind of terrified to be part of a restaurant group,” Sullivan admits. “But at the end of the day, I did what it took to get the restaurant open, and it turns out it’s been an extremely positive experience.” Max Goldberg agrees wholeheartedly. He gives me his modest opinion of his longtime friend. “Julia is single-handedly one of the most talented human beings I’ve ever met and is admired and adored in our industry . . . When you get the opportunity to work with someone you’ve known since first grade, there’s this undeniable trust factor at play. You know who they are at their core. Julia is one of the best people I know.” When Sullivan and Allie Poindexter, her business partner, brought their idea to Strategic Hospitality, the group just happened to have an open space in a prime Germantown location. Sullivan notes that it differs from their rough draft—they imagined something with a rustic, bistro-type vibe. “It is, I think, a little bigger than we initially anticipated.” A pause, a minute sigh. “Which, for Allie and I, we’re pushing ourselves a little bit. But at the end of the day, I think it worked out really well. That’s a big reason why we separated


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the bar and the dining room, because we didn’t want it to feel like a four-thousand-square-foot restaurant.” And it doesn’t. The bar and lounge is very much its own space. So is the dining room. Sullivan borrowed the concept from Gramercy Tavern, her favorite restaurant in New York. “You have this really great casual walk-in experience at the tavern. Great cocktails and casual food, and then if you want to go make a reservation and sit in the dining room, you can do that, but it’s sort of a different ballgame. I love that you can have those two experiences. I love that we can be a corner bar in Germantown and also be this great place to sit down and have a meal.” Sullivan’s history hangs from the bright white walls: portraits of her grandparents, Henrietta and Red, adorn the hallway of their namesake. Her history is on the menu too: the bounty of the Gulf Shore, rich creaminess from the French Quarter, a New York sophistication while keeping an eye out for the European emphasis on simplicity. Sullivan lists the key influences. “There’s some French fine dining, there’s contemporary American farm-to-table, rustic Italian. And I think you can see a little of all of that in the food. We also have a great sous chef and a great pastry chef, and their influences are in there too.” Enough talk. Surveying the bill of fare with Sullivan has made me ravenous. We start with oysters and a handful of happy hour specials to warm up. The Pensacola Bay shells are great, but the standouts on our tray are the Mookie Blues from Damariscotta, Maine. My tasting notes simply read POW. They’re salty and fresh as if they were plucked from the Atlantic that morning—which they nearly were. Once, using the words seafood and landlocked state together carried a strictly negative connotation; I bring that up to Sullivan during our chat. She gets giddy. “The cool thing about

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oysters is, if they’re harvested and cared for properly, they can have a ten-day to two-week shelf life . . . We’re getting the majority of ours direct-to-chef, which means the oyster farms will harvest them and then the next day they’ll ship them FedEx, and they’ll be to us within 48 hours.” Given their seaside-level of fresh and the lovely house mignonette of white wine vinegar, watermelon, cucumber, and serrano peppers, I’m not surprised at Sullivan’s estimate that Henrietta Red sells, on average, 2,500 oysters a week. We also sample the Return to Life seafood cocktail—its colorful name a reference to the recipe’s touted benefits as a hangover cure—and the Sister Juana, a cocktail with tequila, Dolin Blanc, grapefruit bitters, and lime. The tartness of the drink perfectly highlights and expands on the textures of snapper, shrimp, scallop, and oysters. Oysters return, Rockefeller-style from the wood-fired oven, slathered with a buttery green curry, hotness in every sense, balanced by the next plate over, a refreshing heirloom tomato salad with a satisfying crunch from pistachios. Next, a combo umami bomb: caviar prepared the way Sullivan’s dad used to make it for special occasions (hence the name “Poppy’s Caviar”), with a luscious spring onion vinaigrette, sour cream, and crackers so deliciously addictive they should spell it crackers; and chicken liver paté (I doubt Poppy made that one) with a floral earthiness sweetened by peaches. Together there’s so much beautiful, luxurious richness, it puts me back on my heels. My notes say there were four more dishes but honestly, it blurs from pleasure. I remember perfectly seared scallops and beef tartare on a bed of brioche, but little else. Though I’m a little umami drunk (it’s a thing), something in the kitchen does catch my eye. I’ve never seen a kitchen staffed (almost) entirely by women. Maybe it’s just the particular night, I think,


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but I mention it to our server, and she estimates the staff gender breakdown to be somewhere around 60 to 70 percent women. After the meal, I message Sullivan and Poindexter, who answers first. “I know we both started this restaurant with the intention of it being a place where people could come to learn and feel respected and happy . . . While I think female chefs are leading the charge on a more nurturing style of running a kitchen, I think in general, there’s a shift toward this management style.” Sullivan follows up. “We attract females for various reasons, some that you may not consider. For example, our Instagram following is nearly 80 percent female, so when we post an employment opportunity, we get a female-heav y response. On the other hand, we’ve seen male applicants increase since receiving more national attention this spring. I also think young people are looking for mentorship and role models, so females gravitate toward females. We unintentionally have an all-female leadership team in our kitchen, but the females have stepped up and committed in ways that make them the most viable candidates, and they’re crushing it. That being said, we find the best formula in our kitchen is fairly balanced overall.” Stepping up, commit ting, a nd crushing it? They must be watching Sullivan, because here at Henrietta Red, she is crushing it. If only she could win an award or two.

Henrietta Red is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday, and late nights at the bar.

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photos SARAH B. GILLIAM

Artist Spotlight: Ed Nash If you follow Nashville art, you’re probably familiar with Ed Nash’s work—or at the very least, you’re probably familiar with his seven-thousand-square-foot Eastside studio, which has hosted a slew of art openings, events, and parties. Over the past few years, the Nashville-byway-of-the-UK artist has amassed an expansive portfolio that includes everything from abstract paintings to distinctive landscapes to “terrain pieces,” which Nash describes as “three dimensional interpretations of planets made with lava rock and a curious blend of materials.” Underpinning all these pieces is an adherence to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, an aesthetic philosophy centered on finding beauty through imperfection. Nash’s work is currently in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in D.C. (Senator Corker has two of his pieces in his office), the Tennessee State Museum, the Wailea Beach Resort and Spa in Hawaii, Blackberry Farm, Nashville International Airport, and countless local businesses and homes. To see his paintings in person and learn more, visit Nash’s annual open studio party, happening September 27 at 1015 West Kirkland Avenue.

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photos LAURA E. PARTAIN

Contributor Spotlight: Laura E. Partain Almost unknowingly I hold my breath until the engineer gives us a green light to talk and move about. Is this mic gonna pick up the firing of a shutter, the ‘ca-clop’ of a Hasselblad mirror, or the advancement to the next frame? Navigating streams of cables, instruments, and persons at their most determined, passionate, joyful, and at times deeply vulnerable states. There’s just as much recording made in the visual sense. Documents encapsulating the creation of something that started as passing thoughts or moments of inspiration, by-products of dedicated hours practicing and working hard at a craft, but more likely—a combination of the two. I’m entrusted to hold this camera and document the visible; frames decidedly made in rhythm with a process reliant on concentration and silence. I’m grateful for the friends who trust me so, and to this day I can say few things are as lovely as listening to a record and recalling the moments those tracks were given permanence. That I got to be in the room and photograph a record come to life. —Laura

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1200 CLINTON STREET STE 10 • 615.679.0221 PURENASHVILLE.CO • HELLO@PURENASHVILLE.CO

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YOU OUGHTA KNOW:

FAMEWALKING by N ATIV E S TA F F photo Z ACHARY GR AY

In this age of shameless culture-vulturing—an age in which, every month, Drake beats us over the head with yet another new single that rips off yet another subculture, an age in which Kanye bites yet another designer and resells it to us for $500—it’s hard to find a true original. We’re talking about someone who exists beyond the confines of homogenized Pinterest boards and Soundcloud trends. Someone who twerks to the sound of their own 808 drum, if you will. Luckily, Nashville has produced an antidote to the mundanity of today’s cultural landscape. Famewalking, a queer local rapper and social media personality who released his first major project, Bad Influence, back in April, is challenging what we think about local hip-hop. For proof, look no further than album opener “F.A.G.” (an acronym for Fresh Ass Gay). After sampling a homophobic rant by Brand Nubian founder Lord Jamar (in which Jamar

calls being gay “a mental disease” that needs to “stay out of hip-hop”), Fame barrels into an acerbic verse that builds into the track’s unhinged hook: “Bodied by a F.A.G. / I hope you bodied by a F.A.G. / Tell me how it feels to be bodied by a F.A.G..” It’s a badass rallying cry that reclaims traditional hip-hop machismo in the name of queerness—and oh yeah, it’s also a fucking banger. Wonder what Lord Jamar would think. When Fame isn’t busy casually tearing down decades-old notions about sexulity, masculinity, and hip-hop, you can find him enjoying some Hattie B’s tenders (while wearing a crop top, naturally). “I love to get the tender combo mild, because it helps me sweat without hitting the gym!” he says. “It just works!” Get this man some more chicken, because we need him to keep working.

Famewalking ’s Bad Influence is available now.

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OPENING SEPTEMBER 6 TH

in Wedgewood Houston (Weho) at Houston Station next door to Bastion 4 3 4 H O U S T O N S T. | A M E R I C A N O C O F F E E L O U N G E . C O M

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I got hens a few summers ago and was disappointed when I learned they would stop laying eggs when it got cold. They need that egg-laying energy to grow new feathers and survive the cold. Oddly, the trigger that shuts off the egg-laying machine is not weather related, but light related. A crafty chicken keeper knows that if he puts a sensored light in the coop that’ll flick on at dusk and stay on for a few hours into the evening, that’s enough to trick the hen—or rather, the hen’s sensory organs— into keeping the egg-maker turned on. Unsurprisingly, chickens are not the only critters whose biological phenomena are tied to the rising and setting of the sun, and they’re also not the only animals whose biology goes haywire when artificial lighting interferes. Light pollution, or more specifically, ecological light pollution, occurs when artificial lighting affects an ecosystem. Astronomical light pollution occurs when stars and the rest of the night sky disappear behind city lights. The reflection of those city lights in the clouds is known as skyglow. It’s possible to have ecological light pollution without astronomical light pollution. For instance, a street lamp in a rural area that attracts hosts of insects and bats could be a source of ecological light pollution even if the Milky Way is clearly visible once you step out of the cone of the street lamp.

The premise behind ecological light pollution is that many animals have routines that are directly or indirectly governed by light. How each animal reacts varies. Some take advantage of what seems to them like an extension of their day, which may give them longer foraging periods. Others are uncontrollably drawn to the light, like the beetles and moths we see smacking against our porch lights. Still others are disoriented by the light and may, for instance, confuse shimmering street lights for the moon. This last case is one of the examples of ecological light pollution made famous by sea turtle advocates. When a freshly hatched baby sea turtle emerges from its nest, its instincts tell it to move toward the safety of the seas. However, lights from beachside settlements light up the dunes and disorient the babies, causing them to crawl away from the water. Closer to home, the sea turtle’s herpetologic cousins may also be thrown off by the city lights. Many frogs and toads are nocturnal and will only begin the nighttime refrains that comprise their mating rituals at night. In the presence of light, they may delay their mating or forego it altogether. In some cases, they may hasten the selection process and be less preferential in their selection. That would be kind of like choosing your partner after a night of speed dating versus a more drawn-out courtship. This has obvious

implications for the survival of these urban populations. While artificial light is detrimental to many animals, others revel in the extended daylight and take advantage of what some scientists call the night light niche. This extra light gives them more time to forage or hunt for food. This is obviously beneficial to many predators, but not so much for the prey, especially in cases where the prey are enthralled by the light, like beetles and moths. Though the night light niche may benefit some animals, it can upset the balance of the ecosystem. Research into the effects of ecological light pollution is still in its infancy, and many researchers say we have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding how artificial light influences our ecosystems. Fortunately, Nashville is a city with a lot of green space and minimal lighting. I presume we may have less instances of ecological light pollution than other cities, but that’s just a hypothesis. Even though we do have astronomical light pollution, it’s usually possible to see some stars on clear nights. Perhaps we can take this as a sign of hope for our animal friends, that they are potentially a little happier than their cousins in other urban areas of the world.

*ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cooper Breeden is a graduate student in biology at Austin Peay focusing on ecology and botany. Most recently, he led the river restoration program at the Harpeth River Watershed Association, and prior to that, he worked in fisheries management, watersheds and wetlands restoration, and philanthropy. NATIVE NASHVILLE

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SHOOTING THE SHIT WITH SEIJI INOUYE

by NATIVE STAFF photos SEIJI INOUYE

Photo by CAPPA

In Shooting the Shit, NATIVE talks to Nashvillians who are doing things a little differently—think of it as grabbing a quick cup of coffee with that screenprinter or tattoo artist you keep seeing on your Explore Page. This month, we chatted with Nashville’s preeminent Renaissance man, Seiji Inouye. The producer, manager, photographer, and general everything-elser-er has worked with everyone from Manrelic to L’Orange, and his images capture Nashville’s creative community through gritty, no-bs candids. We talked to Inouye about being a facilitator, getting into photography, and why your band should consider buying less beer.

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After years of working in everything from production to engineering to management, how did you get into photography? After about a decade of working on the technical side of music, I had kind of burned myself out. It was a combination of being unhappy with what I had accomplished professionally and feeling a little betrayed by the work. I still loved it, but I needed some escape that didn’t make me think about concerts, guitar pedals, or Pro Tools. I’m still sort of recovering from that exhaustion now. All of this kind of came to a head when I quit smoking in the beginning of 2016, developed actual anxiety, and needed something to do with my hands at all the parties I didn’t want to be at. I had toyed with photography a little in high school, but I decided it would be too expensive to pursue both that and music, so I chose music. Funny how I was right, but now I’m doing both anyway. What kind of images capture your attention and inspire you? My earliest memory of being really inspired by images was when Ryan Russell was releasing these backstage photos of Paramore and Death Cab and all these bands I loved in the early- to mid-2000s. They were super gritty and honest, but still flattering and uniquely pleasing tonally. I was in high school and wanted to do that: make images of my friends doing cool shit. Now, honestly, I am pretty inspired by my friends and all of the players in the weird Venn diagram of Nashville. Images by Sunny Bummers, who taught me most of what I know about street photography and using a flash—or Emily Quirk, who made shooting concerts cool to me again. Both of those photographers inadvertently interested me in shooting film as well, which is something I’m very passionate about now . . . As a relatively new photographer, I’m still learning and discovering things I’m into all the time. I really enjoy looking at photos taken at night, and generally get caught up in images shot on wider lenses—I like to see a scene and environment with subjects. You’ve said that you’re “committed to tailoring [your] work to best suit clients uniquely as individuals and enable them to achieve their potential.” What drew you to being more of a facilitator than an artist? For a year or so I had a business coach named Dave Thorpe who helped me develop a lot of the copy for my website and what was essentially an elevator pitch

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for myself. This was all before I had even considered trying out photography. This sentence specifically was something he crafted with me, after I expressed how important it was for me to be useful and helpful to my clients outside of just making “content” for them. I was learning that sometimes advice was a lot more useful than the actual services I was providing for people. Like, “Hey Band X, maybe instead of buying a case of beer each week, save that money and you can buy a used Duesenberg at the end of the year.” That kind of stuff is really useful and not enough artists get the kick in the ass they need. I’ll take your picture or mix your record, but I’ll also explain how your guitar tone can suck less, or help you find a vocal coach, or connect you with a booking agent, or help you organize an event. These are all important parts of my job to me that in my mind were never separate from being a “producer.” How does shooting play into that role as a facilitator? In the end we’re all just trying to figure out who we are and how we want people to see that. When asked, I try to help people figure that out because I think an image or a record manifests better when we know what we want to accomplish and examine all the ways we can make that happen. Just as with my musical clients, I don’t mind helping my photo clients find a stylist, makeup artist, or esthetician. There are a lot of components to personal wellness that come into play with making good art, and I love connecting people with other professionals that will make their life better, not just their album cover [better]. Do you have any upcoming projects we should know about? I have a few concepts that I’ve been chasing down for a while now—one is to get a quick portrait of every tattooer in Nashville. That’s turned into me spending quite a bit of time around Nashville’s tattoo community, and it’s made me some incredible friends. Another that I’ve been casually working on is a small collection of portraits of friends and their pets. There are a few small zine ideas rolling around as well, but I don’t want to speak on anything before they’re real. Musically, I’m always excited about working with friends, and I’m happy to still have projects coming in from artists I love and respect. I recently mixed a solo record for Juan Solorzano, who is one of my favorite musicians in Nashville. That was an honor.

See (and hear) Seiji Inouye’s work at seiji.pro.


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NATIVE | ISSUE 75 | NASHVILLE, TN  

Rayland Baxter, Henrietta Red, Pearl Diver, Ed Nash, Laura E. Partain, and many more.

NATIVE | ISSUE 75 | NASHVILLE, TN  

Rayland Baxter, Henrietta Red, Pearl Diver, Ed Nash, Laura E. Partain, and many more.

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