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10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015








RVA #23 WINTER 2015 2005-2015:10 YEARS OF RVA WWW.RVAMAG.COM R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker FOUNDERS Inkwell Ventures PUBLISHER John Reinhold PRESIDENT Drew Necci EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Brad Kutner, Amy David RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Major Major CREATIVE DIRECTOR Drew Snyder ASST. DESIGNER John Reinhold, Alyse Whitcomb ADVERTISING WRITERS Drew Necci, Shannon Cleary, Doug Nunnally, Kyle Shearin, John Reinhold, Cody Endres, Tim Wellington, Angie Huckstep, Mickeal Broth, Emilie Von Unwerth, Joseph Genest, Kristina Headrick PHOTOGRAPHY Todd Raviotta, Jay Paul, Patrick Biedrycki, Travis Shinn, Shawn Brackbill, William Cherry, Craig Zirpolo, Mike Edmunds, Lucy Dacus, Isaiah Carter, Greg Bethman, Casey Collins COLLAGE Joey Wharton + Craig Zirpolo INTERNS Trina Zongker, Taneasha White, Matthew Chaney, Matthew S. Sporn e: GENERAL INFORMATION e: EDITORIAL INFORMATION e: DISTRIBUTION ADVERTISING p: 276 732 3410 e: e: SUBMISSION POLICY RVA Magazine welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to All submissions become property of Inkwell Design LLC. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Design LLC and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without written authorization of the publisher. ONLINE Every issue of RVA Magazine can be viewed in its entiretyanytime at SOCIAL instagram/rvamag

28 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

SUBSCRIPTION Log onto to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. DISTRIBUTION Thank you to our distribution partnerBioRide / HEADS UP! The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. RVA Magazine is published quarterly. Images are subject to being altered from their original format. All material within this magazine is protected. RVA Magazine is a registered trademark of Inkwell Ventures. RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics. cover by R. Anthony Harris

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Ellwoood Thompson’s,Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Don’t Look Back, Chop Suey Books, Goatacodo @ Carytown Bikes Carytown Burgers & Fries, Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Need Supply Co., World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Skateboards, Avail Vapor, World of Mirth, Amy Black Tattoo, Mongrel Loose Screw Tattoo, Sacred Waters

Broad Street Arts District

Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle Velocity Comics, Utmost, Round Two, Steady Sounds/Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee Quirk Hotel, Bombshell, Cultured Swine, Saison & Market, J Kogi, Gwar Bar,

Downtown & Church Hill

Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company, Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, Legends Brewery, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Manchester Market, Union Market, Frame Nation, Vinyl Conflict Triple Crossing Brewing Company, 7 Hills Brewing Company, Belle & James, Pine Street Barber Shop, Razors Of Richmond, Parlor Salon

VCU Area

ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors, Wavy Kickz, Monument Shoryuken, Refuge For Men, River City Tattoo Co., Lucky 13 Tattoo, Salvation Tattoo, 821, Little Mexico, Harrison Street Coffee

Museum District

Black Hand Coffee, Belmont Pizzeria, Cleveland Market, Katie Blue Salon, Red Salon Organics Banditos, Calientes, Buddy’s, Patterson Market Chiocca’s, VMFA, The Franklin Inn

The Fan

Bellytimber, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Cask Cafe, Harvest Market, Star-lite Lounge, Fan Noodle Bar, Deep Grooves, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Sticky ToGo, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, The Camel, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes, My Noodle, Continental Divide, Savory Grain, McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, High Point Barbershop, Sabai, Main Street Barber & Mercantile, Blackbird Salon, Rostov’s Coffee & Tea


NIssan Of Richmond, Su Casa, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer, Guitar Center, RVA Vapes, Bombshell, River City Tattoo Co.

Scott’s Addition

NIssan Of Richmond, Su Casa, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer, Modlin Center, Guitar Center, RVA Vapes, Bombshell, Libby Market, Corks & Kegs, The Grill


The MIll, Stir Crazy Cafe, Dots Back Inn, Once Upon a Vine, Final Gravity, Carytown Burgers & Fries, Roy’s Big Burger


DON’T SLEEP Follow us @RVAmag Top: Chance the Rapper at The National Middle: Red Bull Backyard Jam at Lost Bowl Bottom: Beetleguese, Freda & Tricky Dick - Halloweek Night Middle Right: UCI Bike Race @clifford007 Bottom Right: @thattallchick birthday pileup Opposite Page Top: RVA at #RVANYE, Portrait House Last Dayz, & Drake Plate RVA Opposite Page 2nd Row - Sully’s Hello richmond by Charles Berger, Rodin VMFA, Neil Hamburger with Herschel Stratego by @ littlelindsey Opposite Page 3rd Row: Inlight at VMFA Opposite Page Bottom Row: Continental Divide Halloweek, Fat Dragon Anniversary by @weirdsailboat, Happy Bday Balloons If you would like your photo work featured in the Don’t Sleep section -- tag us on Instagram @rvamag 10 10


1010 years years of of RVA RVA Magazine Magazine 2005-2015 2005-2015

11 11


THE BAND OF THE ROYAL MARINES + The Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guard

THU, JANUARY 21, 2016 | 7:30PM Carpenter Theatre (600 E. Grace St.) GET TICKETS AT ETIX.COM


FRI. JANUARY 22, 2016 | 7:30PM SAT. JANUARY 23, 2016 | 7:30PM Modlin Center for the Arts • Alice Jepson Theatre Recommended for adults, contains adult themes

VCUarts + the Modlin Center for the Arts Present:


SUN. FEBRUARY 21, 2016 | 7:30PM MON. FEBRUARY 22, 2016 | 7:30PM Grace Street Theatre (934 W. Grace Street)

Artist Panel Discussion

TUE. FEBRUARY 23, 2016 | 7:30PM Grace Street Theatre (934 W. Grace Street)


WED. FEBRUARY 24, 2016 | 7:30PM Carpenter Theatre (600 E. Grace St.) GET TICKETS AT ETIX.COM




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


RVA On Tap Ellwood Thompson’s Roll Out Taps For Growler Fills As if Ellwood Thompson’s beer selection wasn’t already good enough, customers now have even more options to choose from, in the form of three taps, available both for growler fills and draft pours for those dining in. The focus for Ellwood’s draft list is on the local — anything that is brewed within 100 miles of the store is fair game. Soon enough, limited edition Ellwood Thompson’sbranded Shine Craft Vessel growlers will be available. In the future, Ellwood’s is looking to create unique, collaborative brews with local brewers, which will be available only at The Beet Café.

THE LATEST IN Richmond BREW NEWS by Cody Endres CHECK for your daily pint

Lakeside Nanobrewery Final Gravity Has Some Fine Choices Available A scarce few months after opening, Final Gravity already has an incredibly diverse lineup of beers available. Malty offerings vary from something as light as Firestation 5 Amber to something as intense as Irish Goodbye Imperial Stout (made with VAgrown and malted barley). Saison De Meyer and Big Payback (a Belgian Strong Dark Ale) cater to Belgian beer lovers. Hopheads aren’t exactly left out, with Venus IPA and Venus Rising Double IPA in the lineup. Both are made with Citra and Mosaic hops. In the works is a pre-prohibition-style American Pilsner (stronger and hoppier than typical pilsners) and an American Pale Ale featuring Galaxy and Citra hops. A spiced Sweet Potato Brown Ale and Funky Drummer, a Brown Ale on coffee, are also available.

7 Hills Are Pouring Plenty of New Brews After opening in September at their S. 15th St location with only guest drafts available, 7 Hills are finally able to pour their own beers. In terms of year-round offerings, customers have Belle Isle Blonde (a Belgian Blonde Ale), Pipeline Pale Ale (an American Pale), Shiplock IPA, Brown’s Island Brown Ale, and 42nd Street Stout (a low-alcohol, dry stout) to choose from. Looking ahead to the even colder months, 21st Street Strong Scotch Ale should be debuting in December, and in January, North Bank Imperial Stout should be available for slow sipping. Guest drafts, wine, and spirits are also available.

Strangeways: No Presents On Christmas, But Plenty To Drink As would befit a brewery that promises strange beers, Strangeways is not really making any Christmas beers for Christmas. However, if one is the mood for something spiced, Room 237 Biere D’Hiver, their highABV winter warmer, is back on draft. Also returning, albeit to bottles, is the red wine barrel-aged English Strong Ale, Virginia Stingo. In terms of new beers, we have a wild yeast-fermented Belgian-style Tripel Ale to look forward to, as well as several barrelaged variants of an Imperial Stout. The Stout was brewed with chocolate and vanilla, and the bulk of it is being aged in bourbon barrels, with other portions of it being aged in tequila and rye whiskey barrels.



The place was in really rough shape. There were trees growing in here. It was an old moving company; there was people’s furniture still hanging out here from 15-20 years ago. We ended up stripping everything down to the bones. Even the panes of glass--all of these windows were boarded up or cinder blocked up. Everything got stripped down and we built it from scratch. We wanted to keep it original. Having no TV’s in here is just... we loved hanging out. Hanging around, drinking a beer in a garage--no TV’s. Also, when I go out, I hate getting distracted. I hate when there’s a TV on, because I look at it, and I’ve lost the conversation.

Ardent Craft Ales

has lived up there for 15 years or so, and people said that he was an adventurer. Now it’s one of the hot neighborhoods. There’s Union Market now, there’s The Roosevelt, there’s Sub Rosa... none of that was there. It was just people selling crack across the street.

Interview by John Reinhold Introduction by Drew Necci

How did the jump happen from brewing in Church Hill to actually giving this a go?

During its year and a half of operation, Ardent Craft Ales has made a big impression on the fast-growing RVA craft beer scene. Started in a Church Hill garage as a brewing co-op, Ardent took the leap to fullscale commercial production with the opening of their brewery space in Scott’s Addition last summer. Since then, brews like their Honey Ginger and Saison, as well as seasonals like their Sweet Potato & Sage Ale, or their Szechuan Peppercorn Saison (discussed below), have captured the imagination and thrilled the tastebuds of many an RVA beer drinker. We caught up with co-founder and head brewer Kevin O’Leary to talk Church Hill beginnings, why a spirit of cooperation is important for independent breweries, and why Ardent’s taproom does not have a TV.

I started home brewing up in New England when I was 19-20 years old. Got a job at a brewery up in New England, [at] Cambridge Brewing Company. Learned the ropes there. Moved to Richmond because my wife got a job [she] couldn’t refuse and I had no room to grow. Within two weeks, I met people in the beer community--which is really, really tight compared to many other cities I’ve been to. A bartender, Sean O’Hearn at Commercial Taphouse, said, “Hey, there’s these dudes brewing up in Church Hill, you should go meet them.” I went out, met Tom [Sullivan], met Paul [Karns], met other people that were involved in this co-op, and said, “Hey, can I start hanging out? I’ve got a little professional experience.” I hadn’t brewed on a small scale in many years, so it was sort of a learning experience for me, to reteach myself how to brew on a small scale.

Ardent--where did the name come from? We were toying around with the pre-Prohibition movement. We started looking at some of the pre-Prohibition laws, Prohibition laws, and current ABC laws. It [mentioned] the “regulation of ardent spirits.” Ardent means passionate, fiery, spirited. We brewed in a garage up on Church Hill, and people were saying, “It’s 17 degrees outside and you’re making beer without heat. It’s 103 degrees out and you’re making beer without AC. You guys are really passionate about what you’re doing.” I lived in Church Hill. I went past Alamo and saw your crew out there multiple days, and I kept going, “I need to stop.” I was usually on my way to Alamo to get food for me and my wife and kid, so I would always go, “I’ll do it another day,” and I never stopped. I still kind of kick myself for not stopping in. And it’s funny--back in the day, that neighborhood was a little rough, and people credited us for being adventurous. My business partner, Tom Sullivan, 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

We started getting people stopping by on Sundays, maybe like yourself, and saying, “Are you guys doing a fish fry?” And we said, “Come on in, try a beer.” After many people saying, “We really like this beer, when can I buy it?” We said we should try to put together a business plan. It took us a long time and a lot of help from many many people. So how did this space come about? We were driving around before we ever had capital [or] our final business plan. I don’t think we can get in trouble now, but... one of the doors was open and it looked vacant, so we poked our head in, looked around, and said, “Oh, there’s potential.” Two years later, we were working with a developer, looking at numerous properties, and we said, “What about that place on the corner of Highpoint and Leigh?” It was vacant for many many years. We got a key and we were able to come in and took a look.

What were the original brews you guys took from making it in the garage and transferred to doing it on a commercial scale? When we put together the business plan, we decided on having a few cores. Those cores were the Saison; the Honey Ginger, which is our summer seasonal; The Common; which [all] got amazing feedback. But slowly people’s palates are evolving, because there are a lot more people wanting Saison, wanting IPA’s, etc. IPA was another one of our cores. When we first did our hop order, we couldn’t get every single hop we wanted for an entire year, so we decided to take a different approach. We said, “Let’s make the same base beer and use different aroma and flavor hops.” It’s actually turned out to be pretty beneficial, because people love variety. And then we’ve run numerous single beers. Our Winter beers, our Dark Rye. I have a tough time with Imperial Stouts if they’re sweet, so we figured a little bit of rye to add some spiciness and to dry it out compared to a lot of Imperial Stouts. I made one batch of pumpkin, [but] I have a mental allergy to pumpkin beer after making so much of it up in New England. We’ve also done some one-off collaborations. We’ve got one on right now which is a Chestnut Maple Altbier that we collaborated with our friends over at Hardywood on. We’ve got a really great relationship with every brewery that’s here. We borrow ingredients from each other if we’re short. We hang at each other’s facilities. It’s something that I want to see continue to thrive, because when I was working up in New England, we were always friendly with the other breweries, but we never sat down and brewed together. But back in the 90’s they used to invite everyone over and say “I’m going to try something crazy. I’m going to make a Belgian Tripel. No one’s ever made a Belgian Tripel, come on in!” It’s fun because we’re all in the same boat. We’re all doing the same thing. I think that it needs to happen more.



Chance Fischer, “Souffle” RVA rapper Chance Fischer has dropped a really excellent track with his new single, “Souffle.” No idea when the album it’s taken from, Wreath, will actually be out, but honestly I’m happy enough with “Souffle” that it can take its time--I’ll just be here hitting repeat. The relatively minimal beat from producer Don Kevo creates a spooky, enveloping atmosphere, over which Fischer uses his unique cadence to drop some memorable boasts and make Adam Sandler’s character from The Waterboy sound like a dude you need to watch out for. --Drew Necci

Beat Awfuls, “You’re Not Gonna Love Me ANYMORE” Nothing Happens, Jurassic Pop/River Girls Almost taunting in tone, Beat Awfuls capture a grieving process in the form of a schoolyard chant. “You’re Not Gonna Love Me” is an earworm, the kind of track that goes on mental loop to help pass the day. Each instrument offers a way to cope—sugary, simple percussion keeps the mood lip-bitten with glassy eyes, while the guitar forces a smile and the bass ruminates. Velvety chimes accent the group’s cowboy croon; this lo-fi waltz musters a positive bent, mollifying singer Dave Vicini’s moony declarations into a triumphant, cathartic resolution. --Angie Huckstep

Кактус (Kaktus), “Uncontrolled” Cyclone Records I’m still not over Denmark and Swedish putting out rock music that rivals American acts, and now Russia is getting close. There’s a weird sense of inner patriotism that’s attempting to hold me back from praising it, but goddamn if this is not a melodic tune worthy of constant replays. Thanks to its quirky staccato guitar line and hard guitar/screaming chorus, the tune straddles the line between indie and garage music perfectly, making its appeal more widespread than their mother country probably allows. It might be hard to stay up to date on this quintet from Ryazan, but with a strong composition like this, it seems worth it. --Doug Nunnally

David Bowie, “Blackstar” Blackstar, ISO/Columbia After the surprise release of The Next Day in 2013 — Bowie’s first studio album in a decade — listeners had to wonder he would go next musically. The answer as to his destination has arrived: Bowie’s in space. The song’s first section recalls the most recent Radiohead album, while the midsection of the song is vintage Bowie--all dramatic balladry and quirky funk. The final section reprises the melody and lyrics of the first section with a more straightforward gusto, before everything fades, or otherwise tumbles into obscurity. The man’s penchant for creating oddities, happily, hasn’t disappeared. --Cody Endres

Grimes, “Artangels”

Art Angels, 4AD

Grimes’ continued overtures towards pop music resulted in her long-awaited fourth album containing her most commercially accessible music yet. Personally, I find myself drawn to the title track, an almost-anachronistic post-Madchester dance-pop single reminiscent of the sunshine-smile UK techno-rock hybrids that were all over 120 Minutes in the early 90s--a reference most of you will not get. The Soup Dragons and Primal Scream are the closest reference points, but comparisons aren’t important--what matters is whether you dance. This song all but guarantees that you will. --Tim Wellington 16

STUDIO NEWS Fun-loving rock n’ rollers Imaginary Sons are in the process of creating the follow-up to their party-starting debut, Let It Beer. The as-yet-untitled new album’s first single, “Taste The Waste,” premiered on a couple of weeks ago, and was recorded at Sound Of Music Studios with the help of studio founder John Morand and Toxic Moxie drummer Danny Crawford. The band will continue working with Crawford in their home studio and a variety of other locations to lay down more material throughout December and beyond. “We’ve been writing nonstop this year, exploring a lot of new and different sounds, and we felt like we needed to get what we’ve done on tape,” they explained in an email. “We want to have more music online to share with people, because that’s the whole reason we do what we do.” Look for more music and more fun from Imaginary Sons in 2016! Ska-punk veterans Murphy’s Kids are currently ensconced at The Ward Recording, located in the heart of the RVA Arts District, laying down tracks for what is at least the eighth release they’ve created over the course of their 16-year career. Working with Ward proprietors Bryan Walthall and Rusty Scott, the band is putting together an album “all about the passage of time.” In light of the fact that the founding members of Murphy’s Kids were in high school when they first started the band and are now thirtysomethings, it makes sense that the group is taking stock. But they’re also carrying on some fine traditions--not just sonically, either. They’ll be taking a break in recording on December 19 to throw this year’s edition of their annual holiday benefit party, Skalidays, at the Broadberry! Start your Christmas vacation right by skanking with the Kids--plus special guests Mighty Joshua, Neighborhood Friendly, Major And The Monbacks, and more. And keep an eye out for their next album, coming to you sometime in the new year. Word has reached us that Everyone Dies In The End is currently preparing their follow-up to 2014 debut album All Things Lead To This. They laid down five songs and two interludes with producer Allen Bergendahl at Scott’s Addition Sound, which were then mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side in New Jersey. The band informs us that the new album will be a concept album, which “reflects our progression into a more ambient and experimental exploration.” This is the quartet’s first material to feature new bassist Ashley Small (formerly of Fixtures and Caretaker), and the first single from the album will be out soon, accompanied by a video directed by Gene Byard. More info will hopefully be available soon, and we’ll pass it along as soon as we get the word.


10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015



Favorite local Noodle Bar

It’s been a few years now since we made the RVA Magazine Readers’ Poll an annual event, and we’re building up quite a little tradition over here! It’s obvious our readers enjoy participating, too, as this year’s response numbers were higher than ever. This year’s poll gave us results on previously polled categories in the world of food, drink, shopping, and hanging out, as well as some new areas we’d never asked about before. We’ve learned that some of Richmond’s tastes seem to change over time, while others remain rock-solid year after year. One thing’s for sure, though--our audience has some incredibly good taste! So let’s find out what awesome spots you decided to honor this year. Without further ado, here are the results of the 2015 RVA Magazine Readers’ Poll:

WIN! Sticky Rice

Favorite local TACO SPOT

Favorite local SANDWICH

Favorite local FOODIE SPOT

WIN! Don’t Look Back

WIN! Kubanaso, Kuba Kuba

WIN! Lunch & Supper

2ND En Su Boca 3rD Boka Tako Truck 4th La Milpa 5th Alamo BBQ


2ND USS Roanoke, The Black Sheep 3rD The Industrial, Coppola’s Deli 4th The Dagwood, Chiocca’s Deli 5th The Banh Mi, The Naked Onion

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

Mekong Pho So 1 Foo Dog Shoryuken

2ND Mamma Zu 3rD Edo’s Squid 4th Comfort 5th Saison


Favorite local DONUT SHOP

Favorite local PIZZA SPOT

Favorite local Barbecue SPOT

WIN! Sugar Shack Donuts WIN! Belmont Pizzeria

WIN! Alamo BBQ

2ND Country Style Donuts 3rD Duck Donuts 4th Dixie Donuts 5th Krispy Creme

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

Favorite local VEGAN SPOT

Favorite local THRIFT BOUTIQUE

Favorite local THRIFT SHORE

WIN! Ipanema Cafe

WIN! Rumors Boutique

WIN! Diversity Thrift

2ND 821 Café 3rD The Daily Kitchen & Bar 4th GWARbar 5th The Mill on MacArthur

2ND Bygones 3rD Ashby_Clementine 4th Halcyon Vintage 5th Yesterday’s Heroes

2ND Fan Tastic Thrift Store 3rD Goodwill 4th Love Of Jesus Thrift 5th Circle Thrift

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

8 1/2 Mary Angela’s Pizzeria Mellow Mushroom Bottoms Up Pizza

Buz and Ned’s Q Barbeque Deep Run Roadhouse The Flying Pig


Favorite local HAIR SALON

Favorite local MEN’S STORE

Favorite local FRESH KICKS SPOT

WIN! Bombshell

WIN! Need Supply Co.

WIN! Road Runner

2ND Blackbird Salon 3rD Katie Blue Salon 4th Red Salon Organics 5th Parlor Salon

2ND Ledbury 3rD Yesterday’s Heroes 4th Franco’s Fine Clothier 5th Utmost Co.

Favorite local BARBERSHOP

Favorite local HEAD SHOP


WIN! High Point Barbershop

WIN! Kulture

WIN! Ellwood

2ND 3rD 4th 5th 22

Refuge For Men Pine Street Barber Shop Main Street Barber & Mercantile Razors Of Richmond

2ND Katra Gala 3rD Carytown Tobacco 4th Greenhouse Glass 5th Island Dyes RVA

Running Store

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

Round Two DTLR Monument Lucky Foot


2ND Strawberry Street Market 3rD Shields Market 4th Union Market 5th Nick’s Produce & International Food Market RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

Favorite local BICYCLE SHOP

Favorite local Moto/Scooter Shop

Favorite local CRAFT BEER

WIN! Carytown

WIN! Scoot Richmond

WIN! Hardywood

Bicycle Company

2ND Velocity Motorcycles 3rD Gangster Choppers 4th Atom Bomb Custom Motorcycles 5th Richmond Honda House

Favorite local BREWERY

Favorite local BAR TO GET A CRAFT BEER

Favorite local SPOT TO GET WHISKEY

WIN! Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

WIN! Mekong

WIN! McCormack’s

2ND Agee’s Bicycles 3rD Bunnyhop Bike Shop 4th Richmond Re-Cycles Bicycle Shop 5th Conte’s Bike Shop-Carytown

2ND Joe’s Inn 2ND Ardent Craft Ales 3rD Portrait House 3rD Legend Brewery Co. 4th Capital Ale House 4th Strangeways Brewing 5th Legend Brewery 5th Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Gingerbread Stout

2ND Hardywood Singel 3rD Ardent Honey Ginger 4th Legend Brown 5th Legend Lager

Whiskey Grill

2ND Penny Lane Pub 3rD Comfort 4th Saison 5th The Rogue Gentleman




Favorite local DIVEY BAR

WIN! En Su Boca

WIN! The Roosevelt

WIN! Bamboo Cafe

2ND Don’t Look Back 3rD Bandito’s Burrito Lounge 4th Casa Del Barco 5th Continental Divide

2ND Balliceaux 3rD Saison 4th Sabai 5th Hermitage

2ND Sidewalk Cafe 3rD The Village Cafe 4th Wonderland 5th Cary Street Cafe

Favorite local spot TO GO DANCING

Favorite local LATE NIGHT HANG OUT

Favorite local art GALLERY

WIN! Balliceaux

WIN! Sticky Rice

WIN! Gallery 5

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

2ND 3rD 4th 5th

2ND Quirk Gallery 3rD 1708 Gallery 4th Visual Arts Center of Richmond 5th Ghostprint Gallery


Babe’s of Carytown Fallout RVA Sticky Rice Tobacco Company

The Camel Bandito’s Burrito Lounge Balliceaux Ipanema Cafe



Favorite local THEATRE COMPANY

Favorite local THEATRE

WIN! The National

WIN! Richmond

WIN! Byrd Theatre

2ND 3rD 4th 5TH

Strange Matter Browns Island The Broadberry The Camel

Triangle Players

2ND Virginia Repertory Theatre 3rD TheatreLAB 4th CAT Theatre 5th 5th Wall Theatre

2ND Altria Theater 3rD Firehouse Theatre 4th Coalition Theater 5th TheatreLAB’s The Basement


Favorite local TATTOO SHOP

Favorite local COFFEE SHOP

WIN! The Richmond

WIN! River City

WIN! Lamplighter

2ND Broad Appetit 3rD Carytown Watermelon Festival 4th Shamrock The Block 5th Greek Festival

2ND Lucky 13 tattoo 3rD Heroes & Ghosts Tattoo 4th Salvation Tattoo 5th Amy Black Tattoo

2ND Black Hand Coffee Co. 3rD Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream 4th Stir Crazy 5th Rostov Coffee & Tea

Folk Festival

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Tattoo Co.

Roasting Company




一䄀唀䜀䠀吀夀Ⰰ 䴀䔀䔀吀 一䤀䌀䔀⸀ ㌀  㔀 圀⸀ 䌀䄀刀夀 匀吀⸀ 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

㠀 㐀∠㌀㔀㌀∠㠀㤀㤀㄀ 27

Divine Council Interview by Joseph Genest Photos by William Cherry

“You wouldn’t know it, but there’s a park back there, it’s beautiful. Linco used to swim in there as a kid,” says Cyrax of Divine Council, pointing to a nondescript patch of trees. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much; just a string of woods a lot like the spots you made the best of near your childhood home.

Despite their growing fame and fan base, the group seems unfazed by the weight of it all. In sitting down with them, I learned why this is where they feel like they should be--crafting and developing their work over the past couple of years (despite the lack of local love) to now deliver Council Season to the world.

I ask if that was the spot where they used to hide out while skipping school to smoke weed.

Talk to me a little bit about how Divine Council was formed.

“Yeah!” Cyrax laughs. As we walk, he points to other places along our way that a passing eye wouldn’t think twice of. But to him, these are memories of youth and mischief, days that aren’t too far removed from where the 18-year-old MC finds himself today.

Lord Linco: I mean, I’m always doing my own thing when it comes to music, but Divine Council was just an idea at first. And then I met Cyrax early in 2013 at a birthday party or something.

Cruising through Northside somewhere between Richmond International Raceway and Azalea Avenue, we’re on our way to pick up his collaborators, Lord Linco and $ilk Money, from the Southside. Along with Chicago-based producer ICYTWAT, the three make up Divine Council, a collective that, despite having not a single member older than 19, have received some accolades even household names didn’t attain this early on. 2015 has been a big year for the Council. They’ve collaborated with one of their idols, Phillybased rapper Asaad, and received shout-outs from the likes of A$AP Mob, Playboy Carti, and trendsetter/tastemaker Ian Connor. Their songs on SoundCloud have amassed as many as 200,000 listens, and two were even included on the latest playlist from hip hop internet celebrity 40oz Van. And yet, despite their recent successes online, they’ve been relatively quiet on the local scene. Sure, they’ve received recognition on a national scale that’s unusual for Richmond artists, but it hasn’t been until the past couple months has the city started to take notice. Lately, though, they’ve been paying attention in a big way. A couple weeks before this interview, I caught their headlining performance at Strange Matter. I was curious to see how the local crowd responded now that they’d gained a little national love, especially since each member of Divine Council brings their own unique sound to the group, blending a range of styles from bounce to cloud-rap. 28

“...N****s outside of Richmond were f**KINg with us before n****s in Richmond were f**king with us. Nobody in Richmond knew who the f**k we was. And then when they knew who we was, they didn’t even know we were from Richmond. “Wow, you all are in Richmond. Why?” We live here n****, this is our home...” Needless to say, the show was live--the packed crowd moshed along to every song. Hell, even songs that give a relaxed vibe on record, like Cyrax’s “I Like,” somehow turned into high-energy hype, with the crowd reciting every word.

Cyrax: I had just met this nigga and we had just been kicking it all the time and recording, just chilling. It wasn’t even on some music shit at first, just some friend shit. The music came second. $ilk Money: I was just chilling in my room writing, but I never laid anything down or had any intentions of laying anything down. I was just selling weed, that’s what I love to do. That, and beating nigga’s asses. Lord Linco: Yeah, I already knew $ilk for a minute, I knew $ilk for a long time. It was just on some homie shit. Cyrax: Yeah, we all knew of him, but I didn’t really know him. I knew of him because he was always showing love and shit. We used to have these early ass shows back in the day and that nigga was on stage like he was in Divine Council, back in 2013. I’m curious to how you all developed your sound that’s sort of falling into this new school tier of trap. All: Nah, nah nah. $ilk: Fuck that trap shit. Ain’t shit trap over here. We don’t make trap music, ain’t no finessin’, ain’t no ‘I’m going with the sack, ain’t no need to ask you for your money back.’ Ain’t none of that shit, you feel me? That trap shit, I’m not going to say all of it, a lot of it is fabricated. RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

$ilk: A lot of me and Linco’s shit, we speak a lot of patois, a lot of patois. People will sit there and think I’m speaking gibberish, but I’m speaking a legit language that they don’t have any knowledge of. Divine Council, we listen to punk rock, heavy metal...

$ilk: It was just this one week where we were all at this nigga’s [Cyrax] crib, and everything just happened at one fucking time. That shit just happened at one time.

Lord Linco: But the thing about our sound, it’s Lord Linco: Another thing about us is we’re not the Divine Council sound. If you a smart nigga just some regular ass Richmond niggas. Our and you know what the Divine Council is, you backgrounds are not in America. have a clear understanding of what we do. Cyrax: I’m a Bermudian, these niggas are $ilk: We be in the room sometimes trying to Jamaican. figure out a genre to call our shit. Lord Linco: I used to go back and forth, learnt a Cyrax: And honestly, all our shit is so different. lot about my people, my roots. Me and $ilk’s sound is nothing alike, me and Linco’s sound is nothing alike, but it still comes $ilk: I’m from Richmond, but the majority of together and makes sense. It’s a mothafuckin’ my people from Louisa. I never even came to Megazord from Power Rangers, and that the city, for real. Them niggas were in the city, shit just comes together to make something I was just in the county, that’s where all my beautiful. bread was at. Everybody who’s in the county was coming to me, I was just over there doing On a national scale, you all have songs that have my thing, selling bud. Them niggas would 100, 200k plus views online. I haven’t really always come to my crib to record and shit, that seen too many Richmond artists do that yet. was the HQ.

$ilk: That whole week, we as at his crib, it was just something new every day. Cyrax: That nigga A$AP Bari was fucking with us, then Assad, that nigga Ian Connor.

We ain’t fabricate shit. Trap right now is an aesthetic; trap is definitely an aesthetic. You go on Twitter and see the white kids be like “Oh--so savage. So fucking savage.” Nigga, you in fucking Oklahoma, bro! See, that’s drill aesthetic. That trap aesthetic, I don’t know.

Cyrax: It was something new like every day.

$ilk: That nigga [A$AP] Rocky and shit. Cyrax: ICYTWAT met [A$AP] Rocky. $ilk: We weren’t doing shit. We were just watching C-Murder videos and The Matrix and shit, smoking weed, eating pizza. That whole time we recorded one song. That was our vacation, that was our week off. People would kill to be in a lot of the positions you’re in, but you all have the approach like “We don’t really know how it happened, it’s just people showing love.”

Lord Linco: Well, the thing about us is we’re Cyrax: That’s how shit really developed. 2014 Linco: I mean, the way you’re talking about it, I not Richmond artists. didn’t even know it was that serious. we were just at his crib, making hella music. $ilk: Some niggas from Richmond want to stay $ilk: I could say that 80%, 75% of the songs in Richmond. were from 2014 was at my crib, in my room, we were just smoking dope. We never really Lord Linco: Don’t get me wrong, I love my city. fucked with anybody else besides us. But I don’t want to be that nigga that takes over Richmond, I want to be worldwide. When did the change really occur though between 2014 and now where you’re getting Cyrax: That was never our goal. all these different shoutouts and national prominence? $ilk: Yeah, because Richmond ain’t even fuck with us at first. $ilk: Well, it’s not really that we wanted to stay where we were at, we were making music for Lord Linco: We’re just making our own lane, a reason. and our lane goes way past Richmond. Lord Linco: The thing is, the whole 2014 was us $ilk: Niggas outside of Richmond were fucking developing Divine Council. with us before niggas in Richmond were fucking with us. Nobody in Richmond knew who the Cyrax: Individuals too, as well as artists. I was fuck we was. And then when they knew who just releasing singles, just chilling with these we was, they didn’t even know we were from niggas all the time. We really developed our Richmond. “Wow, you all are in Richmond. core following, I can say in 2014 that’s when Why?” We live here nigga, this is our home! we got our core following because there’s still people from then that are fucking with us Let’s back up for a second. How did people heavy. outside of the city starting fucking with y’all, and how did you see that traction grow? $ilk: We were all just really trying to find ourselves, that’s what it was. And we found Cyrax: It’s always been like that. The internet, ourselves, quick. We transition sometimes man. Divine Council loves the internet, yo. artistically… I wouldn’t even say transition; we branch out. I don’t try to stay in the same wave It’s funny, with Richmond, there’s always been or lane. this struggle of being an ‘East Coast’ city in terms of sound, but outsiders expect more of a Cyrax: We’re really experimental artists, southern tone. You all do a really great job of always making new sounds and shit. We’re not bringing the two together. trying to aim for just one sound.

It is, these benchmarks are a big deal. Cyrax: The thing with us, though, is we’re not even really asking for it. $ilk: Yeah, niggas be sitting here mad as a bitch. Niggas on Twitter be like “We’re doing this without a cosign, we’re doing this without cosign.” Good for fucking you, bro! You can’t ask somebody for a cosign. You can’t sit there and be like “Ay yo, cosign me!” You can’t, that’s not a cosign, that’s you begging a nigga to fuck with you. That’s like you sitting there paying for a feature, paying for a beat, paying for… you know? Lord Linco: We don’t do none of that. $ilk: We don’t do none of that. You can’t sit there and ask somebody to cosign you. They either do it or they don’t. They either fuck with you or they don’t. So, these niggas on Twitter saying “we do it without a cosign.” That’s because nobody fucks with you, nigga! Nobody takes the time to be like, “I fuck with these niggas so hard, I’m going to let the world know.” It’s not our fault! Suck my dick. [laughs] On a local level, do you feel like Richmond will feel like they’re going regret missing the Divine Council train? Cyrax: Yup $ilk: Absolutely

Cyrax: If you’re speaking about influences, I’m So, who was the first person shouted you out on Lord Linco: Yeah, and that days going to come influenced by everything. I’m not influenced by a national scale, and when did it happen? real soon, real soon. the south or the north--the world made me. 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Night Idea and I are strewn across bassist Joey Anderson’s living room, drinking “bromosas” - a mixture of shitty beer and shittier orange juice – licking our collective weekend wounds. It’s a groggy, overcast October Sunday; the type of day that suggests good friends and a slight buzz. What better time to hang with Night Idea, an indie prog band that has been making intricate, complex tunes in Richmond for five years. Three-quarters of Night Idea have been playing music together since childhood. Guitarist/vocalist Carter Burton, drummer Ethan Johnstone and guitarist/keyboardist Reid LaPierre grew up just southwest of the city in Midlothian. It was in middle school that they started playing in bands together; it was also in middle school that I myself began my relationship with these three very sweet, very music-oriented dudes. Speaking as less of a music writer and more of a friend, I have had the pleasure of watching Carter, Ethan, and Reid perform since we were all 13. That was 12 years ago.


Interview by Emilie Von Unwerth Collage by Joey Wharton + Craig Zirpolo

Reid and Carter, why don’t you agree with that tag? Reid: The term prog, to me... people just think, like, 80s. Joey: I agree! I was talking about it with (a friend), and she was just like, “prog?” Some people just get turned off by that word.

words to fill in the musical gaps. Most of the time, they’re more about the sound than the meaning. Although I am no prog expert, Ethan’s rhythms seem inspired by Yes’s Bill Bruford to me. Of all the members, Carter comes closest to playing straight up rock & roll riffs. Reid is a fan of distortion, and has a pedal board My Bloody Valentine would envy. And Joey’s bass lines are half-funk, half-death metal.

Ethan: I think we can all agree that we’d prefer “Indie Prog” to “Math Rock.” We’re really trying to avoid the math-rock tag.

In spite of the fact that Night Idea makes no logical sense, the band works well thanks to beautiful execution. And it’s easier to recommend going to see them than it is to describe their sound, the guys are decidedly iffy about putting a label on the type of music they create.

Carter: Yeah. I just say that we’re a rock band a lot of times. Because it’s simple.

I think a lot of people use the term “math rock” for anything that’s a little bit more technically complex and less lyric-driven. And, I mean, depending on who you talk to, genres mean very different things.

Ethan: I think often, the style of music is – not to toot my own horn – it’s derived from the rhythms a lot of the time. Whatever the backbone of the music is. We’re not a jazz band; I’m not playing jazz on drums. I’m Y’all are so complex. I don’t even know how generally playing stuff that was derived from to describe you, what genre to put you in. rock music. It just tends to get complex. What do you think? Is it hard to describe Carter: It’s just like jazz in the way that it’s yourselves? busy. It’s like rock music, but we’re all just Ethan: Experimental jazz-tinged indie prog… busier.

“I think it honestly really helps because we’ve been friends for so long. We’re very, very comfortable with each other on all levels,” says Ethan. “That comfortability helps us bring whatever ideas we want to put forth, and we all understand where it’s coming from, and know what the person is trying to get across. It’s not like anything’s ever awkward at band practice – it just comes naturally with so much time.” Oh my god. That just sounds so affected, though, when you say it like that! Joey met Carter, Ethan and Reid in 2007 at Band Fest – an annual show organized by Ethan: I know... I don’t think we all agree, the Southside Church of the Nazarene that but Joey and I are down with “Indie Prog” featured six bands. At the time, he was playing because it’s a cross between an indie rock in a metal band called Kevin Beckley. The other vibe with a progressive rock technicality and three boys were playing the festival with their melodiousness. former band, Eat the Center.

Part of what makes Night Idea such a unique and exciting band is that music taste varies quite extremely from one member to the next. Each member is part of at least one other musical endeavor: Carter has a lo-fi poppy rock project called We Never; Joey is in the super shreddy black metal-inspired band Doubtfire; Ethan has a solo project called Brother Rutherford, a 70s, prog-influenced “nerdy” guitar project; gear junkie Reid has a

Joey, what drew you to these guys? Joey: I was like “Yo, these kids are really sweet.” So I buddied up with Reid, and slowly, Reid, Ethan, and I started to jam. Carter was living in Nashville, and Reid was saying how their bass player at the time was [done with the band]. And I was like, “I really wanna play with these weirdos.” It just sort of happened like that. I guess I officially joined in 2010 Carter: When we decided that he was the newest member, we just said, “Let’s start over again with a new band name.” Night Idea is a band that doesn’t necessarily defy genres, but they’re not the type of band that easily gets a FFO description slapped onto a show flyer. Their influences range from Steely Dan to Obituary to King Crimson. The songs are lyrically simple – Carter writes the 30


recording project called Tiger Lamp; and Reid and Ethan play together in the math-rocky Houdan the Mystic; Your other projects – and there are a lot of them - are just your way of nerding out with what you specifically love to play? Reid: Yeah, (laughs) it’s what we do when we’re alone. Ethan: And honestly, if you throw all of our solo projects’ sounds into a giant vat, that’s what Night Idea is. Joey: That’s the difficult thing about Night Idea, is taking all of [these influences], and putting them together – and that’s why identifying [our] genre is just difficult. Because you can’t really combine those and make it an easy description. Do you guys find it difficult to attract fans? All: Yes. Reid: It hurts us and it helps us, because we can be jammy, but we can also have metal vibes. So someone who likes jam bands can be like, “Oh I like this band.” And then we’ll get darker, and later in our set they’ll be like, “Whoa what the fuck is goin’ on here?” I know y’all play a decent amount of jammy festivals. Reid: We play our lighter stuff at those. It’s nice to have that eclectic amount of music. We play with death metal bands sometimes; we play with jam bands. Ethan: From a listener’s standpoint, if you do like us, we probably sound like a relatively original conglomerate of far-reaching stuff that people might like. But from a marketing standpoint, we’re struggling, because most bands have a specific niche that they fit into when they’re planning their tours and their shows. We’re such a mix that it can be troublesome when you’re tryin’ to fit somewhere.

Ethan: [Subterranea is] more of dotted lines Let’s talk about the album arrangement for than solid lines. It’s a tag, a connection a little bit. between this scene of people making a little Ethan: One thing that we like about the bit weirder music in Richmond. album, is that we thought very hard about Reid: We just had a lot of friends. Some of how our sound has changed from album them were in bands, some of them were to album. We wanted a bigger sound to making music videos for other bands, other it. There are certain songs that are a little people we recording music. We realized bit heavier, a little darker than we’ve made we were a big circle of media and we just before. And we put a lot of work into arranging the album – to flow really well and slapped a label on it. to be an interesting developing experience. Carter: I don’t know if people know what it It starts off very light-hearted, very casual, is... I don’t know if we know what it is. But and then it progresses to get very dark in sound. It’s really almost opposite of how it it’s definitely positive. [laughs] sounds at the beginning. Who are some other people you’ve worked Carter: The A side is the major songs and B with in the city? side is the minor ones. Joey: Bryan Walthall at the Sound of Music recorded [Night Idea’s 2013 release] Paths. Ethan: It’s really important to me how one song ends and how another begins, and how Carter: Ethan Gensurowsky has [a tape they relate to each other. label called] Hand to Mouth, and he put And not to say that all bands don’t think that EP out for us. about that... Joey: Dave Watkins just recorded our new album. And we have songs on it where Ethan: Right, it’s just that our songs are so Tristan Brennis [of Dumb Waiter] is playing all over the place that arranging them is a sax; and Zoe Kinney, Linnea Morgan, and bit more [of a puzzle]. Allister Morgan are playing string parts. We also have an animation video [in the works] Joey: And also, you have to think about, by Emily Kundrot; Craig Zirpolo filmed a live ok... How is it going to sound if someone is sitting down listening to a record? How video for the song “Silver Understanding.” do we need to arrange [it as a set] if we’re Night Idea is putting out their first physical playing Gypsy Fest [vs.] if we’re playing LP, Breathing Cold, sometime between late with Prisoner? How are people going to winter and early spring 2016. They recorded perceive what we’re doing? the 8-song, 40-minute album this past summer with Dave Watkins upstairs at Gallery And I guess that’s what you get from people 5. Unlike Night Idea’s previous releases, who work together well and who have been Breathing Cold gets dark, almost nightmarish. in a band together for a long time. You have different personalities who are very good Where did all these minor-key songs come at different things, and who can take on from? Why did you guys get heavier on this different aspects of the entire entity that is the band. record?

Carter: I think as you get older, your outlook Carter: Yeah, totally. None of us feel like this on life changes. I think our music is very is a side project, we’re all working together. honest. I think that as I’ve aged, I’ve just Ethan: [In terms of songwriting,] Carter started to feel... darker [laughs]. makes the skeleton, Joey and I make the Night Idea, who speak about their music with Ethan: For me, there’s a satisfying release muscle, and Reid makes the skin. modest confidence, is a musician’s band. They I get from playing nastier, darker sounding tell me that it’s a struggle playing such left-of- music. When it gets out of control, Reid: There’s no brain... center tunes, especially given that Richmond is something about it makes you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s a very powerful sound. Joey: ...or internal organs. grounded in punk. Joey: I think I brought some sort of influence with that. It wasn’t something I wanted to force on the band, but just being genuine I feel like that’s where the Subterranea friends from the get-go, [we] have had a Collective comes into play. You’ve got bands level of understanding. And I think Carter like Way, Shape or Form; Basmati; Shy, Low... – whether intentionally or not – would think about me when writing a song, think about Can you speak to that a little bit? what I like, and put that in effect. Reid: We really are part of the minority of bands here that have zero punk influence.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Carter: That’s why we’ve been talking this whole time – just to get that juicy quote Night Idea would also like to say RIP Popkins and RIP Navi. Breathing Cold will be out on JUJU in early 2016. 31



10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Natalie Prass Interview by Kristina Headrick Photos by Shawn Brackbill



If you’ve followed music at all in 2015, you know Natalie Prass. The singer-songwriter, who cut her chops in Nashville, moved to Richmond to collaborate with Spacebomb Records and record her self-titled debut. Released in early 2015 to critical acclaim, the album showcases Prass’ angelic vocals amid the backdrop of Spacebomb’s soulful house band. When rendered live, Prass reinterprets her unabashed odes to love and heartbreak, which have a lush, angelic quality on the LP, into soulful songs with rock-driven guitar and backbeats. Having captured the adoration of fans and critics alike, the Virginia native is helping put Richmond on the map for something other than its punk and hardcore cred. From touring with Ryan Adams to headlining (and selling out) her own shows, the singer-songwriter has been on the road all year. In November, she released an EP of live recordings and covers, which sees her delving into unexpected territory, covering the likes of Grimes and Simon & Garfunkel. We caught up with her recently to discuss making art in Richmond, being the only girl in the scene, and how R&B influences her sound. Since you’ve moved to Richmond I know you’ve pretty much been on the road. Have you been able to spend much time there? If so, are there any local bands or aspects of the regional scene that influence your music? Honestly, I haven’t really been able to discover too many bands and I’m really looking forward to getting more into what’s happening in Richmond outside of Spacebomb. I know these guys are really connected to Spacebomb, but the Jellowstone crew--they’re doing similar things, with Butcher Brown. I love them. I’m really hoping I can work more with them when I’m home. Their new album that just came out is just loops, and them playing with these kind of loops, and I just think that’s so cool. Hoping I can work with them. Do you think Richmond is a good place for a young creative, like a writer or musician?

it--I have so much love for it. But when you’re an artist... I felt trapped there. The only close city was Atlanta. In Richmond, you can can hop on a bus, a train, you have 95. Especially for creative, artistic people, that’s really important--to get out of your space, just for a day. And Richmond’s really cheap. You can’t deny that. It’s incredible.

For one, I’m wearing my new Janet Jackson shirt I got five days ago. I got to see Janet Jackson [from] seven rows back in Chicago. I’m still flipping out about it, it was unbelievable. She’s still got it, she’s dancing nonstop. She’s 50! So she’s a huge influence on me. Of course, all the older R&B ladies: Diana [Ross], Gladys [Knight], Carole King... I’m always the one to steer the music to 90s and now R&B.

Congrats on the Side By Side EP. I know you’ve reworked some of your own songs, and have So that’s more your influence than the covers by Grimes and Anita Baker; what inspired Spacebomb horns? your selection for those covers? Yeah, I’ve always been drawn to the melodies My grandpa is a huge Anita Baker fan and the and the emotion--I just love romantic love song “Rapture” has kind of been my theme songs. I always have, it never gets tired to song for the past couple years. It’s just one that me. I love beat, I love rhythm. It’s just totally I always will put on. I play music in the green influenced me and my life. I know I can’t go room to pump me up. In the beginning of our too far with it, I realized what I look like and tour I was putting on music and everyone was what I sound like--I know my voice and my like, “Oh shit, this is really good--you should limitations. cover it!” So we’ve been doing it at shows and it works really well. I thought I would love You’ve had a really exciting, breakout year. [recording] it. It’s such a great song; she has What’s been the most pivotal point of 2015 for you? such a unique voice and sound. Well, this is really cheesy, but there was this really amazing stars-aligned show--the Body And Soul Festival, [at Ireland’s Ballinlough Castle in June]. Matt’s band and my band played on the same stage together. Our bands played back to back, and that really hit me. Being in Ireland, and all these people there to see us! They love Matt there--he’s on his second album cycle. It’s crazy to see, people just loved it, [and] were dancing like crazy. I got teary-eyed watching him. We’ve worked so hard together and he’s had this vision for so many years. Just to see it all actually With Grimes - she’s just the coolest pop star happening, and we’re in Ireland and there’s a ton of people there. It’s just really beautiful, ever. and being there with your friends… we’ve done Thank you, I hate it when people hate on Grimes. this thing together and it’s really weird to see it all happening. It’s really great. I think they’re just jealous. As for Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence,” all of us from Richmond and Spacebomb are obsessed with jazz music. That’s a huge part of us and how we’ve become who we are as musicians. We love Carmen McRae, we listen to her all the time. One day I had her on Spotify all day while I was in my apartment, and [discovered that] she does this really great version of “Sound Of Silence.” It’s super funky. We changed it a little bit, but it’s definitely inspired by her. We did that in one take; that music comes so naturally to us.

Exactly! She’s just 100% doing her, she doesn’t give a shit about anybody else. She produces her music, writes it all by herself. Are you kidding me? That’s insane! I’m really excited for her new record. I read in an interview she does not like the song [I covered], “REALiTi,” says she wrote it in two minutes or something. But to me, when I write a song in two minutes, that’s when I know that’s a gift from something else. It came so naturally! Just--wow. I’m so grateful for that moment. Everybody has their opinion, but I think it’s a really great song. It sounds completely different than how she does it.

Godzilla joins you on stage pretty frequently, can you tell me more about his… cameos with you?

[I found him] when I was touring opening for Ryan Adams in Europe. Ryan and I like to run around the city as much as we can and go antique shopping, that’s a big thing we would do together. He’s a fraud-zilla though; he’s made in China, a knockoff. He had marionette puppet [controls] on each hand so I was like, “I gotta take this guy home.” He started out just being on the amp, moved onto my Wurlitzer-while I still played that onstage, before it broke. Then I would pick him up for a little bit, Yeah, I had friends sort of get sick of Nashville’s Yours Truly ran a pretty epic piece detailing your then put him down. He just started becoming process and correspondences with Matthew a huge part of the show. Now I’ve retired him scene. E. White []. a bit--he’s starting to break. He rocked out a I went to college there too, was really entwined By “Bird of Prey” there’s this note that says little too hard. But he’s traveled the world. Now with everything going on there. [I] was there “Waterfalls?” Now every time I hear “Bird Of he lives in my apartment, under a plant. He’s when I was 20, but it’s changed so much in the Prey” I swear I hear something of TLC in that just very happy now. past five years. It’s still a great place and I love rollicking beat. You’re really into R&B--who are some of your favorites? I really do. It’s a safe space. It’s beautiful. There’s a lot bubbling there, a lot of creative minds and really inspiring people. I just feel like when I’m there, I get really inspired by my surroundings. I’m really sensitive to my surroundings. I love all the buildings and the trees, the river. I’m really enjoying the new vibe there. Nashville was good for me at the time--it was so competitive. But it’s changed so much the past five years.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




“...I’ve always been drawn to the melodies and the emotion--I just love romantic love songs. I always have, it never gets tired to me. I love beat, I love rhythm. It’s just totally influenced me and my life...” Any last final advice you’d give to women in music? It may be the most overdone thinkpiece fodder, but I want to hear it from your perspective. Oh, we can never talk too much on this. The goal is for it to be... it doesn’t have to be women in music, it’s just people in music. That’s the goal. I’m so happy with how far [we’ve come] and how confident girls are now--they’re coming in to play music, and all sorts of instruments. The confidence I see in women, with each generation it’s getting stronger and stronger. I grew up in Virginia Beach, and no disrespect for VA Beach, but there’s just really not much culture there. My theory is that, maybe since there’s nothing and you’re starved for it, you have to create it yourself. Because there’s a lot of great music and musicians that come out of the area.

I think I wasn’t myself completely. I’ve always been very comfortable with just being a weirdo and I don’t care if I fit in or not, but I think being surrounded by a lot of boys, I was ashamed of my femininity and afraid to really just be a girl. Now I’m not, but I think at the time I was scared to talk about the music that I like and wanted to make. I was ashamed of my lyrics. I was literally the only girl that was playing in rock bands in Virginia Beach. It was hardcore and punk and things I didn’t really want anything to do with. I think now, you’re a girl and that’s beautiful. Write the music you want to write, play the music you want to play. Practice. Get good at your instrument and just be amazing and fierce. Be the woman you are. Women are so powerful, we have so much to give to the world, just do it and don’t be scared. I was really scared for a long time and now I don’t give a fuck. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Darryl Starr

Interview by Angie Huckstep | Photos by Patrick Biedrycki Over the past six months, painter/sculptor Darryl Starr has been preparing for his forthcoming opening, scheduled for April of 2016. We last saw his work in October of 2014, at the now-departed Monument City Coffee and Records at Third and Grace Street. Fifteen-foot ceilings housed ten of his large, autobiographical abstract canvases (4’x6’, 5’x8’); a few of his smaller, more sculptural works greeted patrons from the front window display. Starr has been present in the Richmond arts community since the early 80s, first as a VCU student, later an alumnus professor, and always as a working artist. His curriculum vitae includes teaching at Pratt Institute, a residency at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and early membership with 1708 Gallery (part of the first group admitted after the charter members). Much of Starr’s oeuvre summons a double take—dirt dumped on a gallery floor, sculptures made with processed meat... it’s sure to elicit an over-the-shoulder glance that sticks. He lives for the double take.



10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




What experiences and opportunities helped shape your early career? What got the ball rolling for you? DS: Rodin, Bernini, Tapies, Ree Morton, Larry Zox, Schabel, NO TV, and New York City. My fifteen years in NYC, nine living with painter Larry Zox. We shared a studio near Union Square. He tutored me about the harsh, international art world, and exposed me to the world’s most vibrant art scene. Artists, parties, openings, bars in New York were things I had never and would never have experienced had I stayed in Richmond. Jaded. These are parts of the industry that VCU and 1708 Gallery never prepped me for... Zox advised me to trade my sculpture MFA [from] Alfred University in NY for painting, since 3-D work took up very valuable cubic feet and studio space. I taught myself to paint as I transitioned from everything I knew about form. Shape became my

“...I see a lot of men my age lament upon what has or has not happened in their past relationships, so my work here is like a ‘hindsight 20/20’ exposé, sexually speaking. I’m pegging where I can see how culture has limited them to certain societal ideals of love, relationships, and sex, which nine times out of ten lead to the failures they experience...” focus. I started combining both 2-D and 3-D into wall works, and then eventually just the canvas. Somehow I always felt painters stopped the process too early so I added 3-D elements. Today I’m always surprised if I make a picture with only paint. In his new series, which is untitled as of now, Starr’s autobiographical bent takes an acidic-yet-sweet turn. The lot consists of large paintings, sculpture, and hybrid works that outdo any cocksure imagery he has used to date. More tongue in cheek. I assure you, this isn’t just a nasty old man show; although the viewer is inundated with references of blatant vulgarity, these proceed in an oxymoronic fashion. His representations come off as over-sexualized and exploitative, but Starr uses these devices to make a satirical point against the way Western culture has 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


situated the female form and mind—a chronology of the voluptuous as told by our favorite marine vet/ sculpture professor. DS: I try to capture the argument for or against the absolutes in life with paint. You might not believe me, but my paintings are actually healthy references to women. They are really about celebrating and glorifying the most fantastic emotional experiences within my relationships. The work is NOT an objectification, but a celebration. It shows the history surrounding this pattern of representation, hits on my involvement within it... I do admit I was on it for a little bit, but ultimately shoves in your face that a 66 yearold artist like myself can stick his head above regressive culture. Few men of your demographic and background play with this idea. What brought you to reflect upon past and modern sexuality in terms of Western culture? DS: I see a lot of men my age lament upon what has or has not happened in their past relationships, so my work here is like a ‘hindsight 20/20’ exposé, sexually speaking. I’m pegging where I can see how culture has limited them to certain societal ideals of love, relationships, and sex, which nine times out of ten lead to the failures they experience.

short fat chick from Willendorf (i.e. Venus of Willendorf). For me, my sensibility of the erotic really began at convoy. Three dollars of “funny money” and a small wait was all you needed for sex in a war zone. Later down the line, I was represented by Wilhelmina Models for thirteen years. I found the sophistication of NYC’s modeling world, with its simmering sexuality being sold and bought using modern standards of beauty, exhausting. Just walking into Wilhelmina offices, one can feel the sexual energy exuding from this subset of people. Personally, I always felt the cheesy modeling factor balanced the glamour. It did pay extremely well, though. Tradeoffs, like money (not always money), make the world go around. Between $3 prostitutes and Park Avenue, I embraced a personal aesthetic reflected in my work that wants to dispel beauty, good design, and marketing. It became important to express ideas without the components of successful artwork. I began engaging many references and images probably regarded as not quite there. People could tell the work was informed, but not well manufactured. I was able to dispense the idea and chase of “nice” work.

From what I’ve seen of the completed and inprocess pieces, Starr continues to extend a hyper-awareness of plane. Detected in planar faces, scene-scapes, architectural offerings, circumferences, and a locked glass casing— these subtle constructions balance his erotic Erotica in art is hardly new. It’s as old as the little iconographies. The new work can be seen as an 42

ode to the present shift away from Freudian and patriarchal absolutes in visual culture, coming from an individual who matured in the midst of these ideologies. Starr reflects upon the variability of personal relationships, and how modernity and popular culture are now, more than ever, pushing the status quo. Speaking of repressive constructs such as sexism or racism, Starr boils it down to, “keeping open the possibility that it is beautiful to love all kinds of people in varied but equally meaningful ways.” What might distinguish this series, procedurally and/or thematically, from the rest of your work? DS: The willingness of women to assist me with the new work. I’ve never solicited for ideas like this before. Could you elaborate on this? And how would you respond to someone who takes a misogynistic message away from your work? DS: First of all, I encourage any sort of attack because without questions, art is not worth it. Shock value is cheap, and an easy tool to rely on. What I am trying to do is circumvent shock without being modest. The response I’m getting from women, to give me their underwear, in supporting the idea of the show—I have never had women involved like this in my work in such a supportive manner, both in material and good wishes. Their feedback is so important. I surveyed RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

many across a few generations, asked if the imagery is offensive, and the overall response has been very positive. I’ve never had the opportunity to solicit ideas and opinions from women in my art, or include a feminine mindset in my work to this degree, if at all. It’s important to really deal with issues that go beyond myself; my work has made me evolve in a way, and brings a whole new element of consideration that is being attributed to the project. Do you have any comments on the way different generations esteem portraits of sexuality? DS: Up until this point, I had not considered the ramifications of these ideas regarding generational perspective, and these works opens doors for such dialogue. I’d say that millennials are much more secure with their sexuality. This generation has tapped into something quicker, a bypassing of cultural or social hang-ups that, from my experience, only seem to waste time and/or incite difficulties within relationships. I have never before stopped to inject those things into my art, where before I blindly made my work without regard for commenting on the cultural and social morés around me. I think lots of artists have become isolated that way. How did you not pick up on these topics as an educator?

never worked with the big-picture connections of these cause and effect relationships in my work. Compartmentalized art ideas have really lost their value; it’s all the same, but here we are at the forefront. It’s 2015. If I continue to further consider audience demographics, I wonder how the work will change.

Have you come up with any solutions?

DS: As of now, yes. I’m putting together a venue that depends on factors beyond my world. Money and legal issues are a hurdle right now. I want to rent a piece of equipment to use as my gallery. Parked on Broad Street for a First Friday opening. Like a “one man band” driving force that excludes You had mentioned that for your forthcoming censorship, commissions, and certain viewers. opening, you are going to act as your own gallerist. This way I have total control of the work and What is the impetus behind bypassing a gallery its presentation. No hoops to jump through, or technicalities that inhibit the work. I acknowledge setting? that such a scenario may allow very few people to DS: I will start by mentioning that the curation and see my stuff--but the exclusivity is a thrill. Bring presentation of my last solo exhibit was in a coffee your I.D. shop, Monument City Coffee and Records, when it was on Grace. Beautiful, open space… the walls fit What kind of response do you expect from this the work, which is large. The space had a constant opening? clientele, as well as people in and out, travelling, so I knew the work would be seen. There were DS: Response to my work has gradually become couches, tables and a mezzanine—places to less and less supportive. Galleries, especially comfortably interact with the work, or see it from in Richmond, don’t see my work as viable to sell, especially to corporations that have a different vantage points. specific formula that makes sure nobody can It has become apparent to me that options to be offended beyond color choices. Considering exhibit my work, especially locally, are slim to the strikeouts—as with the VMFA fellowship none. Why would that stop me from making shit? program, and countless other application-based I work every day, and I still like to poke the public opportunities for reward money—I must be in the eye. So then comes the question: how can making what I feel is good and challenging art. Do I get my work in front of viewers? I create my not get me wrong, I have sold a piece or two in my own gallery, duh! Sadly, BUDGET limits me to a 40 year career, but I think it was more like a mercy fuck. Guilt, not resonance. narrower scope.

DS: I just accepted it. I was there to teach. I

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




I10will years never of RVA forget Magazine vegas 2005-2015 Mike. - tony




D. Randall Blythe By Doug Nunnally Photo courtesy Adrenaline PR & Travis Shinn

“We didn’t write a concept record. We didn’t hardly a conscious decision on the singer’s write a prison record. We just made a heavy part, as he very blatantly did “not want to metal record. That’s what we do.” make a concept record.” Instead, Blythe found a common theme in the lyrics he was It would be only natural to assume a heavy creating for what would become the band’s metal band would write a prison record after seventh album, and with that discovery, he their frontman was imprisoned for over a was able to expand upon the ideas and make month and then put on trial, but as D. Randall the record more about self-imposed mental Blythe states so clearly, that is far from the imprisonment rather than the physical case on Lamb Of God’s seventh album, imprisonment he’d dealt with himself. While out this past July. VII: Sturm und Drang is a wrapping his head around the record’s theme, noteworthy record in Lamb Of God’s deep and Blythe sought out a phrase to simply state celebrated catalogue for a number of reasons, what the songs were about; it was this search but Blythe’s highly publicized manslaughter that lead the band to their latest record’s title. case and his imprisonment in a Czech jail for over a month in 2012 is just not one of them. “We were trying to find an English word that That’s not to say the whole ordeal didn’t have encapsulated this idea and we just couldn’t. an impact on the album at all. In fact, Blythe It doesn’t exist. But Germans are great at himself admits to the actual influence of the cramming complex concepts into single experience on the record very freely. words like zeitgeist and schadenfreude. My guitar player speaks German and his mother “There are two songs on the record that I is from Germany so I thought the Germans wrote while I was still locked up in prison, but might have something. He came back to me that’s it. Those are the only two that deal with with ‘Sturm und Drang’ and asked me if I that specific matter. I didn’t write a prison was familiar with it.” The term was coined record because I’m not some gangster rapper. to describe an 18th century period in German Thematically, the album is much more about literature and music. “Being a former VCU how humans react in stressful situations and English student, I read that period in literature behave in extreme situations.” class, so it just instantly fit.” In this sense, Blythe created a much more personal record that anybody could relate to and draw inspiration from, even if the majority of his fans have never even been to the Czech Republic--let alone put on trial there. It was 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

So if it’s not a prison record, what makes VII: Sturm und Drang a notable record in Lamb Of God’s catalogue? For starters, it features the first song in Lamb Of God’s history to ever have “clean” vocals as opposed to the 47

ending. And unlike ‘Overlord’ where I sang clean, I didn’t know what I was going to do here. All I could hear was Chino’s voice, and I couldn’t figure it out for myself. I just kept thinking this would be really good for Chino. One day, I came into our practice space [during] the pre-production process, and somebody suggested getting Chino to sing on “There was no thought process behind it - it this track. They were mind readers, because was purely physical. [Guitarist] Willie [Adler] all I could think about was how perfect it was demoing stuff and sent it to me while I would be with Chino. We reached out from was down at the beach. I’m cruising in my there, and he came in and just killed it. Same truck and a version of the song ‘Overlord’ with Greg. I really loved it. Those are my two came on without vocals. I just automatically favorite songs on the record, because I get to started humming along and singing nonsense sit back and listen to someone else besides words just to figure out a melody. It happened myself for a change.” entirely organically, and I thought, ‘Whoa, I could sing to this.’ It was a surprise to me-- Josh Wilbur returned as producer for the third not that I could sing, I’ve always known I could straight time, a decision that Blythe admits sing, but I was surprised that they had finally was so easy the band barely even talked about written a song that would lend itself to clean it. “I really don’t even remember there being vocals. We were never adamant about ‘no a discussion about who was going to produce clean vocals’ or anything. We’ve just always the record,” the singer recalled. “It was played what we wanted to play, and this time just always going to be Josh, I guess.” That it happened to be a fairly simple blues riff in subconscious decision paid off, as Wilbur the beginning. I just didn’t want to scream pushed the band to really write as a group again instead of separately on their own, as over that.” they had done in years past thanks to easyIt’d be easy to think a frontman known for his to-use technological advancements. decades of heavy vocals would be hesitant to finally sing clean on a song, but Blythe quickly “Josh really encouraged Willie and Mark shut down that idea, stating that there was “no [Morton] to write together instead of [hesitation] at all; not even a little bit.” This demoing so much at home individually,” admission was hardly born out of arrogance; Blythe said. He admitted that the last few instead, it came from a place of deep artistry records from the band had quickly become that really does sum up the reasons so many more collections of “Mark and Willie songs” than a cohesive Lamb Of God record. This fans identify so strongly with Lamb Of God. time though, the two primary songwriters “I do exactly what I want as an artist, and so wrote collaboratively in the practice space-does the rest of the band. I don’t think about ”like a real band, before the internet took over how it’s going to be received and worry about the world,” Blythe laughed. The end result this or that or the other. That would be false. I was a much more organic record for the band, think our fans respect us because we do what something Blythe found refreshing after all we want. When you start worrying about what these years. other people are going to think far in advance, before you even do anything, then you’re It’s weird to hear Blythe talk about the creation pandering to your audience, and that’s never of the album in this regard, rather than his good. I think our fans respect us for doing just past experiences fueling an inner desire for what we want to do, and I think that’s why vindication, but he bluntly stated once again that his experiences had very little conscious we’ve had the success we’ve had.” impact on the record itself. “I think a lot of In addition to the first clean vocals in the people are looking for the effect it had on the band’s history, Lamb Of God’s seventh record way we recorded or wrote the record, due also features two songs with guest singers on to the legal situation I had,” Blythe mused. them, making it a record that plays out much “But there was none. We’ve been doing this differently than the past albums the band has 21 years. It wasn’t an aspect that touched on put out. On the fourth track, “Embers,” Lamb the recording at all. It didn’t bring us tighter Of God plays behind the vocals of Deftones’ as a group, and there was absolutely no big member Chino Moreno, while Greg Puciato Hollywood ‘Aha!’ moment.” of The Dillinger Escape Plan closes out the record on the tenth and final track “Torches.” On top of Blythe’s instance that the band not make a prison record, what also helped keep “Greg was suggested by our producer. He’s his experiences from dominating Lamb Of a mutual friend and I was very excited to get God’s new material was his recent memoir him, but it wasn’t my idea. The vocals from recounting the whole ordeal, entitled Dark Chino, they had sent me a rough demo of this Days. “I was found not guilty in March of 2013, song that had this beautiful, spacious, epic and we continued to tour through January guttural screaming Blythe has become known for. The six-minute “Overlord” comes just after the halfway point of the album, and for those not expecting to hear Blythe’s actual singing voice, it can be a pleasant surprise as you make your way through the brooding sonic identity of the record.


of 2014. I then spent the next eight or nine months writing the book.” The five hundred page book, released within two weeks of VII: Sturm Und Drang, is a very open and honest documentation of what Blythe went through-even if Blythe admits some shortcomings. “I handled the whole experience the best I could, you know? I didn’t do everything perfectly, but I didn’t lose my head, because panicking is never a good idea in any situation. When was the last time someone gave you some advice in a bad situation and it was to panic? It doesn’t do any good. I just tried my best to keep a level head and a positive mental attitude in that situation. Some days I did just that, and other days weren’t as good.” Having this memoir come out roughly the same time as the band’s new album definitely adds to the misconceptions about the album’s theme, but Blythe was quick to point out that the record and book were not being worked on concurrently. “The day I finished the book and turned in the manuscript, I came right back and started working on the record. It was just one thing at a time.” Still, Blythe admits that reading the book does provide some clarity to the concept and emotion of the record, though it’s not a two way street. “There are some insights to various things on the record found within the book, but not necessarily things that deal with prison. They deal more with me and my thought processes. I would definitely recommend reading the book before listening to the album. Doing it the other way - I don’t think it works quite the same. The book would certainly give you a deeper understanding of the record, though.” With his memoir completed and released, it’s abundantly clear that Blythe wants to move beyond his turbulent past. Due to the close release of the memoir and new record, though, it’s virtually inescapable at the moment. Luckily for Blythe and the rest of Lamb Of God, they’ve put out a record so solid and bold that it’s difficult for Blythe’s incarceration to dominate conversations about the album. Between the clean vocals, guest singers, and newly invigorated songwriting, it’s a record that offers a plethora of lenses through which to observe the band. Altogether, they’ve put Lamb Of God in a new light that shows the Richmond natives still have plenty more to offer the music world, even after 21 years. Lamb Of God will begin 2016 with with a full US tour, featuring support from Anthrax, Deafheaven, and Power Trip. Catch them on January 22 at the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk. For details, go to tourdates. To purchase Dark Days, RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

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LOBO Marino Interview by Shannon Cleary Photos by Jay Paul & Todd Raviotta

Lobo Marino are unlike any other act in Richmond. There’s a persuasive quality to their approach, enrapturing audiences on a variety of levels and ensuring that they remain a beloved local favorite. Creating in the privacy of a yoga studio, the duo of Jameson Price and Laney Sullivan are determined to find the perfect balance between improvised homilies and preconceived material. During a typical set, they confidently run through a prolific catalog of songs--many of them initially created in the course of their frequent journeys across the world. Lobo Marino’s specific origins can be traced back to a going-away party for Sullivan and Price, which took place years ago at Ipanema. The duo, who were about to embark on a journey through South America, performed live together for the first time that night. Both were active elsewhere in the local scene at the time--Sullivan in Arise, Sweet Donkey and Price with Pedals On Our Pirate Ships--which helped bring them together as a musical unit. It was travel that truly solidified the group, though. “The birthing process of Lobo Marino was pretty much set [by] our experience in South America. That’s where we wrote the majority of Keep Your Head Up,” Price adds.

“...A lot of what drove these songs was an internalized thought of how the interconnectivity of the universe is this thing that we are growing towards better understanding and realizing. It can be defined in how we relate to others or how we treat our surroundings. It’s about consciousness and how to best exert a proper control over that...”

Keep Your Head Up, the group’s 2010 debut, was the perfect document of a year spent abroad. As they returned to Richmond, they were contemplating the best way to recreate these songs in a live environment. That’s when they incorporated a third member into the ensemble. “We reached out to our friend Nathaniel [Roseberry] about playing with us, and he was immediately on board,” says Price. Having Roseberry in the band “gave Laney and I the confidence we needed to figure out how Lobo Marino could be more than just a project of songs written abroad.” Their first show as a trio was at Bogart’s, and this typical night at a local bar became something unique when the group took the stage. “I remember it being incredibly loud before we started playing, but something happened once we started. It felt like the room took this quick turn and began listening to us play. One of the bartenders even came up to us afterwards and told us that he had never seen anything like that before,” Sullivan recalls. “There was this 52


initial sensation after that performance that made us realize that we had to keep doing what we were doing,” Price adds. The band quickly began to play every environment imaginable--house shows, traditional venues, gallery spaces, and street corners. Affectionate sentiments toward the trio began spreading quickly through town. However, given that the band was born from a trip abroad, their future plans soon included extensive travels. “Laney and I didn’t really have stable work around Richmond, and that helped encourage us to just play out of town as much as possible. It also helped us factor in how we could do so affordably and live on tour,” Price says. This dedication to travel also helped refine their live sound--clocking in more than a hundred shows a year had a significant influence on the dynamics of the group. “The great thing about what Nathaniel brought to the group at the time was that, whatever he was doing, it was adding this flair to the song that Laney and I may have not realized the song could benefit from,” Price says. “If anything, the acknowledgment of that nuance is probably what informed the direction Lobo Marino would take from that point on.” The group’s next recording session became a hallmark for many reasons. Released in early 2011, The Reincarnation EP was Lobo Marino’s first collaboration with engineer Dave Watkins, and became a true showcase for the auxiliary talents Roseberry brought to the group. Recorded at the Richmond Ballet, the two songs on this EP are exercises in stretching the dynamics of the band’s songwriting. Both tracks clock in around seven minutes in length, and both are ambitious triumphs for the trio. Watkins’ capture of these recordings was a key factor in the way Lobo Marino would approach future recordings. “Dave is just, all around, the best person we could imagine working with,” Sullivan says. “We never have to fashion what we are thinking of doing around any particular constraints. We can usually just throw an idea out there and Dave is already trying to figure out when we can get started.” Not long after the release of The Reincarnation EP, Roseberry departed from the group. “As our touring schedule started growing, Nathaniel realized he wouldn’t be able to manage that,” Price says. “It was totally something the two of us understood. We are thankful we got to spend the first two years of the band with him on board.” With Roseberry gone, though, this proved to be an intriguing moment for Lobo Marino. Up to this point, their songs were planned around Price playing guitar, Sullivan on accordion, and a third member filling in 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


the gaps. Now, with another set of songs almost complete, they were considering their next logical step. In many ways, this was the exact challenge they needed to face in order to create what has since become the standard setup for a Lobo Marino show. This began with Sullivan’s acquisition of a harmonium--a type of organ, popular in the late 19th century (and to this day in India) that generates sound with a bellows. “Once I got the harmonium, that is what really helped us fill that space with the necessary bass,” Sullivan explains. “It also helped me find my voice. When I wrote on the accordion, the challenge was that it was higher than I was comfortable singing with. On the harmonium, the lower register comfortably suited my voice.” At this point, Price also diverted his attention from strictly playing guitar on their songs. He began using a variety of percussive tools--everything from an enormous bass drum to vases to bells strapped to ankles. Just about anything under the sun was fair game. These instrumental changes helped guide the two as they decided to make their next recording a live album. For the session, Price and Sullivan were joined by a variety of musicians over the course of an evening in the upstairs corridor of Gallery 5. “We were excited to invite what we consider to be our close family to one of our favorite spaces and have them be a part of this experience. It was also a strong testament to what our band had transformed into,” Sullivan says. This collection of songs, released in 2012 and entitled Kite Festival, perfectly articulated the sound of Lobo Marino up to that point. Songs like “Celebrate” and “Stay With Me” examined the delicate intricacies of their sound; one song relied heavily on percussion, another on the subtlety of their lyrical nuances. The duo’s frequent travels also helped to create an interim release in 2013 entitled Fields, which collects field recordings from various stops in their itinerary. A chronicle of two three-month trips, one through Puerto Rico and another through Europe, “Fields was a documentation of how the different places we have traveled have influenced and inspired the way we write songs,” Price says. “In all of our experiences traveling, we have always relished the fact that we can fit on any bill. We can either be the weird band on the folk bill or the quiet band at the punk house,” Sullivan adds. “Fields hopefully can articulate how our environments inspire us in a variety of ways.” An even stronger testament to the way their travels have inspired them can be found on 2014 follow-up City of Light. This release, recorded in a single day, is a collection of 54

kirtan--sacred Hindu chant music--featuring one of their most beloved compositions, “Holy River.” The two spent a month in the city of Varanasi, India, where they explored Indian harmonium music and, in many ways, found a deeper spiritual connection with the songs they were writing. They also took time to educate themselves on meditation and yoga. “City of Light is a definite correlation of these thoughts, and it also helped us create a strong connection with the peace found in meditation,” Sullivan says. “The other side of the harmonium, which I think lends itself to that form of exercise, is how it requires air to be pumped into it while it’s being played. The fact that the instrument requires that energy to be exerted plays very much into the strengths of how it works with this style of music.” “The best part is that some of the songs that we perform at a show that could be considered our loudest end up being some of our quietest songs once we incorporate them into an environment like [a yoga studio],” Price adds. The culmination of all of their travels and prior recordings have helped to shape their most recent release, We Hear The Ocean, which came out this past summer. “We Hear The Ocean is probably best explained as a bridge between Kite Festival and City of Light,” Price says. “We [combined] the initial experiences of incorporating new instruments into the group and the experiences of educating ourselves about kirtan, and that inspired this collection of songs.” A core theme of We Hear The Ocean is the belief established in Lobo Marino that all things are connected, in ways they are still discovering. “A lot of what drove these songs was an internalized thought of how the interconnectivity of the universe is this thing that we are growing towards better understanding and realizing. It can be defined in how we relate to others or how we treat our surroundings. It’s about consciousness and how to best exert a proper control over that,” Sullivan says. “If you trace back to any of our other records, whether that’s South America with Keep Your Head Up or India for City of Light, they are chronicles of that particular stage in our lives,” Price adds. “We Hear The Ocean is definitely an extension of that, but I think we touch on a few more universal truths and themes with this release.” Since the release of We Hear The Ocean, Lobo Marino have settled down for the time being. “We spent the greater part of five years traveling across the globe, and what we came to realize is that Richmond was our home,” Price says. “It has a unique spirit to it that really stands on its own, and there are too many organizations to mention that RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

on whether he should bring the guitar, and I have to almost pull his arm to get him to pack it. I always want that to be in the mix. Even if it doesn’t end up being used in the final version of whichever song, I think that’s a strong foundation for a lot of our songs.”

we just find to be absolutely remarkable around town. We are delighted to just take a moment to be in one place and not in constant transit.” While taking a break from their travels, they’ve remained creatively active. Collaborating with local video collective Good Day RVA, the group wrote a song specifically to protest the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which they believe is against the greater interest of the people of Richmond. “The song was written to sound large and in many ways, cinematic. During the shoot, we had this moment of noticing that a wind front passing through was damaging our set. We had to work without hesitation to get the shots we needed, and that urgency certainly defined the energy of that environment,” Sullivan says. “I think when I listen back to our music, Fields is probably the closest we’ve come to resembling something that feels like a soundtrack to a film,” Price adds. “Definitely with any of our newer material, I could see us venturing in that direction.” The prolific outfit promises that there should be something on the way in the near future. “We are constantly writing. I am actually starting a few songs on guitar, which is a first for me,” says Sullivan. “Every time we pack up to go on tour, Jameson will debate 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

The latest addition to Lobo Marino’s instrumental palette is a mouth harp, played by Price on several of their newer songs. This treasured instrument was acquired during their travels through Spain. “Laney was feeling adrift and wanted to head back to the States,” Price says. “I was determined to make my way to walk the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that passes from Spain into Portugal.” “Before I left, I found this bizarre instrument at a street vendor stand,” Sullivan adds. “I purchased it immediately and gave it to Jameson.” During his solo travels, Price practiced the mouth harp, slowly beginning to understand how it worked. “I think that is the best way for me to learn how to play any instrument. Take an undisciplined approach, work to figure out how you would write music on that instrument, and trust your instincts,” Price says. Lobo Marino operate on a number of different levels, simultaneously working towards a greater understanding of the world as a whole and a deeper focus on the mind and spirit. Their challenging music resists any easy set of expectations one could bestow upon them. However, their enthusiasm for artistic endeavors remains romantically intoxicating, inspiring and impressing audiences across the world. “The one thing about Lobo Marino that I will always adore: whether we are playing a big stage and they have an enormous PA, or we are just strolling into a house, we can fit into any room or space,” Price says. “It has never been [difficult] to create a connection with an audience. In many ways, that’s the true heart and soul of Lobo Marino.” 55

I remember about a year and a half ago, I had probably one of the best times of my life at a house show--despite it having all of the ingredients for a terrible time.

livestreams, and other pre-, mid-, and postshow entertainment. It’s this kind of effort that brings attention to a style of music that can get overlooked in this city.

It was a Friday night. A friend had told me that there was this new hip hop collective called The Satellite Syndicate playing out in Jackson Ward. Even though it was a long trek by foot, I decided to check it out. However, it started to pour rain during my walk over. Then I had a tough time finding the house, and when I got there, there were only a few people outside.

This past Thursday I sat down with several of the Syndicate’s 10 members at their monthly gig, Unusual Breaks at Ipanema (which this time featured a set from Ohbliv). Founder BSTFRND was accompanied by producers Ozark, ScoopKid, and James Dangle, as well as rapper Doof and visuals creator/producer .oldneon (the other members--Sittasines, Juxtpse, Peyotecoyte, and Big Wave--were out of town at the time).

Now, on most occasions, I’d probably just say my hello’s and bounce to meet up with some friends at the bar, but this time was a little different. I was intrigued to see what the Satellite Syndicate, as newcomers to the local scene who were calling themselves beatmakers, could do. After all, beyond the mainstays-Ohbliv, Sound Genesius, DJ Harrison--there aren’t a whole lot of people in the city doing the more layered, beat-focused style of hip hop, especially as an entire collective.

We chopped it up over a range of things, including their origins, why Super Smash Brothers is arguably the best video game of all time, and most importantly, why they feel their efforts are actually starting to make a difference. And with a wall-to-wall packed house at Ipanema that night, it’s pretty clear they’ve taken that inspiration from a party in Jackson Ward quite a ways.

The Satellite Syndicate Interview by Joseph Genest Photos by Isaiah Carter / Arcani Films

When I walked into the living room, I was surprised to find a sight I hadn’t seen at a house show before. The room may not have been packed, but half the people in attendance were dancing and socializing. The other half was working on something related to the performance. If they weren’t making music, they were taking photos, or helping out with the massive projector displaying visuals on the wall. This revolving crew of individuals was supporting each other, but more importantly, having a good time doing it. A year later, this collaborative spirit has helped the Syndicate grow. Their grassroots/DIY efforts to make a splash have helped establish their own corner of the hip hop scene here in Richmond. That first show was a collaboration with local bass music collective Undrside, and Satellite Syndicate credits that crew and other artists that have came before them for important influence. What might be the biggest reason I (and a lot of others) have taken notice of their work so far, though, has been what they bring to the table. It’s more than just a laptop and an MPC. This group of producers bring with them an arsenal of visuals, guest rappers, 56 56

Talk to me a little bit on how you guys got started. BSTFRND: Well, it was a little over a year ago now, and I felt a lack [of] beat music, in terms of the hip hop scene in Richmond. I think it was after I went to a show with the Undrside collective that I felt that there needed to be more of a focus on the hip hop beat scene. So I put together the Satellite Syndicate. We threw our first show in the laundry room of this apartment I used to live in, and then just started doing a lot of releases in a really DIY fashion. Keeping things in that manner has [resulted in] a lot of success so far, so we’re just continuing forward with that. You all bring a whole mix of artists beyond just beatmakers; how did everyone come into the picture? BSTFRND: Well, I honestly listened to everyone in the group’s music really extensively before the group was even together. I discovered Chris [Ozark]’s old music. I was familiar with a collective James used to be in called JPS [Just Plain Sounds]. Sam [.oldneon] and I were in RVA RVARVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 23 23 |22 | WINTER WINTER | FALL 2015 2015

school together so we knew each other through mutual friends. I kind of hand-picked the team, but in reality, I think it couldn’t have been anyone else. We did have a few bumps along the way in terms of letting the roster naturally figure itself out, but now I feel like we have more than just a team. It’s really like a family.

“...We like to bring in a lot of different elements to our live shows and set ourselves apart from a lot of other people. Whether it be doing physical releases on antiquated formats, just to hold on to that nostalgia a little bit, [or] taking live performances to the next level rather than just being like, “Ok, let me open up my laptop and press play.” We like to have a really unique approach to doing something that we might think is simple, but to other people can be really, really enjoyable and amazing...”

Doof: I think the first track I ever did with Satellite Syndicate was a Sittasines track. That was just something i picked up off of his SoundCloud or something. I didn’t even know anybody at that point. Maybe the following Friday or Saturday, I went to his show and performed it. After that, I’ve always been hanging around and eventually I got in. Anybody who’s really in at this point has just been around to be considered part of it. Like, there was a portion where James wasn’t necessarily in but he was always around. Eventually everyone just meshed. James Dangle: Jefferson [BSTFRND] came to me while I was engineering and running a venue on Southside called The Shop. Gordy Michael, who introduced us, was in Just Plain Sounds with me, Ant [The Symbol], Sleaze, Drano… a different collective, a different time. That’s how I got introduced to [BSTFRND]. [Satellite Syndicate] had rocked like three or four shows, Ohbliv came through, and it’s kind of been on the steady since. Ozark: I’ve been a fan of beat music before I even came to Richmond, and right around the time I met Jefferson was when the Syndicate was forming. I went to the first show and really enjoyed this kind of stuff, but was falling out of grace with the acoustic stuff I was doing and wanted to change something up. So, honestly I just started hanging out and making beats with Jefferson, got my own sampler, and just went from there. Doof: I have an ex-girlfriend who was really, heavily into Chris’s music while we were together. It was pretty hilarious because I met him and someone was like “Oh yeah? You ever heard of Inland Ocean?” “That’s him?” .oldneon: I was around in the beginning, but wasn’t exactly a member. I was just trying out the visual things and was doing videography for awhile. And then I was like “Yo. Why don’t we try doing live visuals?” It became apparent that, with the style I was going for, it just made sense to do it for Satellite Syndicate. BSTFRND: Before Sam [.oldneon] was even in it, he did visuals for almost all of the shows. .oldneon: And not to hop on the bandwagon, but I got my own SP and started making my own music. It’s really cool because I’ve been a fan of hip hop and more boom bap stuff for a long time.

1010years yearsof ofRVA RVAMagazine Magazine2005-2015 2005-2015

57 57



I think the live elements you all bring in with the visuals, streams, and photo/video coverage really take your shows to a higher level. BSTFRND: Yeah, that’s definitely a crucial element to the group. We like to bring in a lot of different elements to our live shows and set ourselves apart from a lot of other people. Whether it be doing physical releases on antiquated formats, just to hold on to that nostalgia a little bit, [or] taking live performances to the next level rather than just being like, “Ok, let me open up my laptop and press play.” We like to have a really unique approach to doing something that we might think is simple, but to other people can be really, really enjoyable and amazing. Do you feel like Richmond has been receptive to your style of music? How do you see beat music growing on a regional/national level? BSTFRND: I think the city is accustomed to it, just because of the accessibility of a band [compared] to someone standing behind a machine or sampler. The music we make can sometimes be really serious or really thought out, while people are like, “Oh, that’s just another song, you’re just pressing buttons.” There’s a lot more that goes to it, so I think the lack of credit is people not knowing, and their naivete to the scene. But it’s growing--the publicity and spread of our name and message. I think in 35 years we’ll be in a really good place, if we keep pushing forward and following through with our plans. .oldneon: Richmond has a really dirty, gritty, raw approach. We have a lot of punk, a lot of noise, and the way we all approach hip hop has that raw sound to it, that raw essence to it. That grit, whether it’s visual noise and grain, or if it’s the noise of a vinyl simulator, or vinyl itself. I think when people hear that, it’s not that clean sound in the mainstream people are used to. What’s it like to kick it with the Satellite Syndicate? What do you guys do on a day to day basis? Doof: Video games. BSTFRND: We play a lot of video games. Not a lot, I don’t want to make it sound like that, but we play a lot of a few games. James: A lot of Steady Sounds. BSTFRND: A lot of going to Steady Sounds and digging for records. We spend a lot of time talking, I think. A lot of time building internally with one another. Learning how each one of us thinks. I know I spend a good bit of time talking to all these guys, but that’s what’s most important--just having that type of connection. .oldneon: I think we all just ingest a lot of 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

media. We’ll go to Justice [doof]’s and watch Chappelle Show for six hours straight, or we go over to Jefferson’s house and listen to new wax...or even chilling at James’s house and having a very deep conversation. Trying to ingest things so we can push it out. BSTFRND: Also, Smash Brothers 64. Doof: Smash Brothers 64.

BSTFRND: I think at the end of it all, we try to collectively embody the artistry behind things rather than being like, “How much money can I make off this?” I know [Doof] will get a beat and be like “Yo, I got this beat from XY producer.” I’m like “that’s crazy, how’d you do that?” and he’s like, “I don’t know, I just rapped on it already and he heard the track.” I’ll listen to it and be like, “Damn, this is really high quality, this is very well done.” It sounds like you’d do it for a paycheck but it’s like…

James: That’s the official spot, right there. Ozark: I found a Sega Genesis in the trash like 3 months ago, so that’s been the steez. .oldneon: We’re also going through a Soulcalibur II phase. Doof: I’m almost untouchable in Soulcalibur, I have nobody to shut me up yet. BSTFRND: Just today I was in the thrift store and I was like “Let me see if they have any VHS tapes I can watch later on tonight.”

“...Richmond has a really dirty, gritty, raw approach. We have a lot of punk, a lot of noise, and the way we all approach hip hop has that raw sound to it, that raw essence to it...” .oldneon: Yeah, I bought this man a VCR for his birthday. BSTFRND: He did, and at first I was like “What in the hell? Why did Sam buy me a VHS?” .oldneon: One of the worst responses to a birthday gift I’ve ever [gotten]. BSTFRND: I was very offput, like “The fuck, Sam?” I didn’t expect a VCR. But now I really fuck with it. There’s just something really attractive to the nostalgia of a VHS tape, I think that alone embodies what we think about as a group. We like to record music to cassette tapes and listen to older music. And it’s not like we’re like, “Fuck contemporary stuff, the new shit is wack.” I was thinking on the drive over here about how, when I think of the word syndicate, it reminds me of syndicated programming, where you’re taking different TV shows and selling them to other channels. That’s sort of a cool embodiment to the whole sampling/live show thing you all are doing.

Doof: I’m making music out of a cardboard box right now. BSTFRND: It’s not about money for us, but I think we’re all very cognisant that it’s a reality. I know Chris and I are moving more into instrumentation and move away from sampling. But really, sampling is hip hop and if someone has a problem with that, we’re just going to keep fighting the never ending sampling battle that’s been going on. Awesome. You guys have anything final thoughts? Ozark: If not for the lineage in the city, we wouldn’t be here. BSTFRND: Brad [Ohbliv] started making music and paved the way, I think then Devonne [DJ Harrison] was inspired by Brad, then Xavier [Sound Genesius] was taught to make beats inspired by Devonne. And this is just stories I’ve collected from talking to these guys. I think it’s their time. Being here in the scene in making really quality music--that is a huge thing. It’s really their connection to their scene. Devonne is in Butcher Brown as well as the Sam Reed Syndicate. And then Ohbliv has such a wide reach, so people know his name that come into the city that are even just slightly in the scene. Scoopkid: [From] what I’ve seen playing shows for the past 10 years, Devonne pretty much runs the scene in Richmond. Even before he and Reggie linked up [for Jellowstone], everyone would want Devonne on their shit. “Yo man, could you play drums on this? Yo. could you play piano on this?” So, it definitely runs deep. BSTFRND: I couldn’t have done this without the people who are involved. Credit belongs to each and every person in this group, because there’s stuff that wouldn’t get done without these guys being like, “Hey, have you done this yet? Is this happening?” So I’m like “Yes, thank you, I see how important this is.” Really, it’s just the positive energy we all have within us, and that the city gives us.

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10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




“...Genuine and vulnerable are one and the same, really,” she says. “The umbrella is honesty. Being dishonest is just the worst because, no one can resonate with being lied to--and ultimately, no one wants to be lied to.”


Interview by Doug Nunnally Photos by Craig Zirpolo, Mike Edmunds & Lucy Dacus

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Lucy Dacus is probably more intimidating than any other artist I’ve covered. Not because of Lucy herself--the 20-year-old singer-songwriter perfectly exhibits every quality one craves in a musician: she’s gracious, witty, earnest, sociable, and so humble that it makes your admiration soar. She’s more interested in fervently discussing Bernie Sanders and carefully planning your next vacation (which will be to Italy, apparently) than she is in discussing her music and what it means to people. But that music is exactly what’s so intimidating to write about--because of the unbelievable talent it contains, as well as its potential to truly take the music world by storm in a way few, if any, Richmond artists ever have. It may be the kiss of death to discuss her music in this way, but it’s impossible to listen to her without this thought in my mind. It’s not the result of high expectations for Dacus; it’s instead a realization of the intrinsic quality her music has, and how truly unparalleled it is, even if she does somewhat fit into the recent boom of idiosyncratic female singersongwriters. In my conversation with Dacus, she is more than happy to gush about the recent rise of these female performers, from Courtney Barnett to Lady Lamb. “Really, I’m just mentioning these artists so you’ll print them, because they’re just so good and need to be listened to,” she laughs. Dacus’ style and sound open her up to all sorts of comparisons with these artists, and it’s something she’s reminded of whenever someone experiences her music for the first time. “I’m always hearing what artists I sound like. I’ve rarely heard of most of them, actually. I’ll end up going home, looking them up, and then I’m just floored by the comparison. It’s such a huge compliment.” Compliments aside, she admits that while she’s extremely honored to be in the same breath as those gifted artists, the comparisons between her music and theirs isn’t so obvious. “I don’t think we sound like those artists,” she says. “Really, I just don’t hear it.” As hard as it is for some people to admit it, Dacus has little sonic comparison points with most female musicians currently making waves. Really, it’s the uniqueness of these artists that truly links them and makes these somewhat baffling comparisons seem valid. Each approaches songwriting in a completely novel way, with unusually perceptive lyrics and engaging melodies; it’s that approach that binds them together, even if the final products are vastly different.

Stereogum. Its bold lyrical proclamations candidly showcase her inner desires and personal shortcomings within a hauntingly stunning melody. As open and vulnerable as the song is, there’s a commendable level of restraint, as her confidently composed voice keeps the pace of the song as terse as the lyrics themselves. It’s a powerhouse song for any musician, let alone someone barely out of their teens, and it’s in consideration not only for best Richmond song of 2015, but one of the premier songs of 2015 overall.

No Burden consists of nine songs that showcase Dacus’ songwriting and give off a message of assured independence. “The longer title for the record would have been ‘You Are No Burden.’ I just wanted to tell “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” serves people they aren’t weighing down anyone else with themselves. I just think you live better when you realize you’re not a burden on anybody.” The theme comes through on the lead single and other songs the band has in its live repertoire, which offers clarification of just how cathartic and gratifying her lyrics can be.

“...Really, I don’t have much control over the songwriting,” she noted repeatedly when trying to explain her songwriting process, which seems like the polar opposite of the poised final product. “I’ll be on a walk going home, and this song will just appear in my life. I’ll have to quickly jog home so I can write it down. Later, I get to figure out what it’s about, just like anybody else listening to a piece of music. But that happens after I’ve written it...”

as the first single from her debut record, No Burden, out February 26th on Egghunt Records. It’s a highly anticipated album, but Dacus is already looking past it. “I’m already excited about the second record and the first one’s not even out,” she exclaims. “It’s not recorded yet, but it’s all written and laid out, and I’m excited to get into it.” It’s a weird declaration with details about her debut Dacus’ unique style of songwriting is just now leaking out, but it’s understandable best shown on “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny when you realize that No Burden has been Anymore.”. Recently released as a single, ready to go for most of 2015. Early this year, it’s beginning to gain momentum, with Dacus and her band were lucky enough to prominent coverage on The Fader and spend time in Reba McEntire’s Starstruck 64

Studios in Nashville to record their debut album. “Yeah, I know it’s weird,” Dacus laughs. “Our friend Colin was interning there and he asked if we could come in on this day that no one was booked and record, so that he could learn how to use the mics and boards.”

Anticipation is running high for this record, though it’s something Dacus herself is perplexed by. “People have said they’re really looking forward to it, and it’s just surprising.” She’s also now coming to grips with the fact that the album may lead to bigger and better things. “Egghunt specifically told us we’re probably going to get picked up by someone, so we should prepare for it,” she notes. Still, Dacus is staying grounded. Despite the possibility of outgrowing Richmond, she’s much more excited to talk about being a part of the Egghunt family. “They’re just so great. They seem to recognize all the good stuff going on in Richmond and want to help it. It’s nice to have that Richmond identity, that people can look at it to see what happening. I’m really glad to be a part of it.” As much as Dacus’ songwriting is at the forefront of the record, she makes clear that her music isn’t a solo effort. “It’s not just me. There’s a whole band there too. I’m with Miles Huffman, Mike Ferster, Jacob Blizard, and Noma Illmensee too, and their contributions are just as important as mine. I can understand why people are just talking about me, but I wish I could effectively convey how much the band means to me and that other people do as much for this as I do. You wouldn’t be talking to me without them.” Blizard’s arrangements and the band’s parts are central to each song, but the most appealing aspect of Lucy Dacus is still the songwriting itself, something she takes full credit for. “The lyrics and melodies are all me, but once I bring a song to the table, everyone has ideas on where to take it. It just so happens that all the songs start off with me and my notebook.” The songwriting may be what has everyone hooked, but it’s not something that Dacus can fully put into words. “Really, I don’t have much control over the songwriting,” she RVA MAGAZINE 23 | WINTER 2015

noted repeatedly when trying to explain her songwriting process, which seems like the polar opposite of the poised final product. “I’ll be on a walk going home, and this song will just appear in my life. I’ll have to quickly jog home so I can write it down. Later, I get to figure out what it’s about, just like anybody else listening to a piece of music. But that happens after I’ve written it.” Seemingly appearing out of thin air, the songs manifest from a melting pot of experiences and ideas, some of which are initially documented years before being put into a song. “I write everything down in notebooks, and have been doing it for years. Current thoughts journal, dream journal, spiritual and philosophy journal--I don’t feel comfortable not writing everything down. From there, the verses will just come out randomly. Some lines I’ve written in old journals--like, I wrote the singular line for ‘Funny Anymore’ four years ago and it just became relevant again when I wrote the song. It has to do with what’s going on in my head or what’s around me. But I can’t control it. I can’t just sit down and write a song. I’ve tried as an exercise, but they just don’t turn out good. I have to wait for it to come to me.” Though she feels she has no control over them, lyrics are really the only aspect of her work she takes pride in. “It’s the one thing I feel like I do right. I don’t really feel like I know how to play guitar, which is why I play in open tuning. I don’t know anything about technique. The one thing I take ownership of is the lyrics. I think people are ready to be asked to think and be genuine in regards to them.” The genuine aspect of Dacus is perhaps her most notable talking point, though it goes hand in hand with her vulnerability. “Genuine and vulnerable are one and the same, really,” she says. “The umbrella is honesty. Being dishonest is just the worst because, no one can resonate with being lied to--and ultimately, no one wants to be lied to.” Still, it’s hard for artists not to put up a wall that separates themselves from the audience--something that speaks to our basic instincts as people. “I just don’t think people are fundamentally willing to be vulnerable. But that’s what people ache for in anything. Not just from their friends, but the media too.” She recognizes that most people avoid becoming too vulnerable, but quickly deflects that line of thinking. “You can’t get too vulnerable with music, really. People assume that being vulnerable means I’m going to tell my secrets or just vent, but that’s where artistry comes in, and you get to be subtle or ambiguous. You have to be able to talk about it in a way that people are still comfortable with, so it’s not just dumping your baggage. There’s a certain way to do it so that it resonates with people. You just 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

asked me to play with them. So on and so on; bands kind of adopted me, and gave me all sorts of opportunities.” It’s this beginning that allowed Dacus to become accepted by Becoming an effective communicator is all the different scenes in town and avoid the certainly not an easy process. Luckily for cliques that can pop up from place to place. Dacus, her background has helped to guide “If you don’t acknowledge [cliques], and you her. Growing up in Hanover, Dacus remembers think that you can talk to certain people, or spending all of her time in musical theater. ask them to play with you, or go to a show “My mom is a musical theater director so I and tell them great job, people will respond was in a bunch of productions when I was to it,” she says. “People don’t want to be younger. I was just used to performing music exclusive.” really young, and I learned to really project what was going on.” Her short stint as a This might sound idealistic, but it makes sense when you learn just how devoted and passionate Dacus is about the Richmond music scene. “For Richmond to be responding well means so much to me. New York and London could love me, but it’s still Richmond’s love that means the most to me because these are the people I’ve respected for years, and that I’ve seen play so many shows. Whenever these people compliment me on the music, my first reaction is always just shock--because really, I feel the exact same way towards them. One time, driving home from Gallery5, I turned on WRIR, and it was right in the middle of ‘Funny.’ It was just this indescribable feeling. The fact that the town I love so much is showing it back to me is amazing.” have to become an effective communicator in a way that’s true to you, but also true to everyone else.”

“...For Richmond to be responding well means so much to me. New York and London could love me, but it’s still Richmond’s love that means the most to me because these are the people I’ve respected for years, and that I’ve seen play so many shows. Whenever these people compliment me on the music, my first reaction is always just shock-because really, I feel the exact same way towards them...”

VCU film student really helped cement the concept of effective communication that she believes her music requires. “I just love film,” she says. “It can be all things. Visual art, audio, sculpture, performance. There’s technical aspects with the editing, and it can even incorporate dance and serious writing. It’s every output in one thing, and that’s just the coolest thing. You really get to be able to say what you want in whatever way possible.” Dacus’ start in music only began a few years ago. Just like finding herself in Reba’s Nashville studio, it was almost a fluke occurrence. “Lobo Marino asked me to play some shows with them as an opener, and My Darling Fury saw one of those shows. They asked me to open for their shows, and then Night Idea saw one of those shows and also

As attention and acclaim for her music continues to rise, Dacus began to seriously consider music as a viable option for her life. “I just figured that I should stop telling myself this is impossible and put some energy into it.” Dacus admits that musician Shakey Graves really spurred her decision to go for it. “He’s the first artist I watched kind of explode. Watching his path made me realize that it actually happens to people. People were telling me forever to do this, but I didn’t think it really happened. But it can, if you really take the time and energy and care about it. That’s what I’m doing.” 2015 has seen Dacus not only record No Burden, but also complete three extensive tours across the US and Canada--something some veteran local bands have never attempted even once. There’s no sign of slowing down for the fledgling musician anytime soon; there are already plans for 2016, including a trip to SXSW, followed by a lengthy Midwest tour. By that point, No Burden will be a few weeks old, and the music world will finally get a taste of what Richmond has been lucky enough to experience over the last few years: an exciting young musician with a strong grasp on what people are desperate for in their lives, and a truly gifted voice that can perfectly express it. 65



10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


TENGREAT 2015RVA ALBUMS ByDrew NecciwithassistsfromDoug Nunnally&Shannon Cleary

No matter what we put on a list like this, we’re sure to get a million emails letting us know what we forgot, or unjustly left out. Therefore, we’re not even attempting to characterize this list as the “best” music produced here in Richmond over the past 12 months. Instead, we’re just pointing out some great sounds from all sorts of different genres that you should be checking out. We skipped some obvious heavy hitters (you already got the new Lamb Of God and Matthew E. White records though, didn’t you?) in favor of some sounds you may have missed over the past year. If you haven’t heard all of these, start checking them out now. You won’t be sorry.

Diamond Center Crystals From The Brass Empire (Funny Not Funny/Egghunt/Steady Sounds) After making RVA their home for the past five years, the Diamond Center departed for the hazy deserts of west Texas this year. However, their parting gift to our fair city is a brand new LP that solidifies in vinyl form all of the ethereal, psychedelic beauty their many local live shows have dispensed to us over the past half-decade.

Dr. Millionaire



My First Million



(Imaginary Friends)



One of the smartest and most talented emcees


in town, Dr. Millionaire is a man of many facets, of








world These fresh-faced teenage indie-rockers have by

the been playing together since junior high, and

and he shows them all on this 8-song cassette. multitalented genius of Kelli Strawbridge. their self-titled full-length debut bears the fruit Over blazing beats from Conrizzle, Hovey On his project’s self-titled debut, he brings of five years’ worth of refined jams. Upbeat Benjamin and others, he shows off his lyrical

the pioneering fuzz-funk of Sly & The Family REM-style alt-rock meets twinkly emo, pop-

prowess, gives his reputation as a ladies’ man Stone’s There’s A Riot Going On into the 21st punk exuberance, and complex instrumental a boost, and demonstrates a surprising depth century through a filter of prime Prince and interplay on this album full of memorable, of emotion.

James Brown jams. Get outta your seat and danceable gems. dance!



Nickelus F


Positive No




(Foundation Media)

(Middle Man/Skeletal Lightning)

(Negative Fun/Little Black Cloud)

Nick F’s first release since 2013’s Ohbliv RVA screamo has done a lot in 2015 to make After years of tantalizing the city with collab Yellow Gold 2 sees him returning to his itself more widely known in the local scene


darker, less restrained alter ego, Sweet Petey. and beyond, from the inaugural Swamp Fest in

emotionally-driven indie rock quartet finally




Containing mostly self-produced beats and August to powerful releases by Caust, Truman, gave us an LP, and Glossa lives up to every no features, Triflin’ is an all-encompassing and Swan Of Tuonela. Ostraca’s debut full

expectation that built up during the wait. Tracy

world, in which you’ll find close encounters length towers above them all, though, mixing Wilson’s warm, passionate voice and Kenneth with police and reflections of RVA in all its powerful metal riffage with epic post-rock

Close’s glittering lead guitars add up to pure

complicated glory.

structures and hardcore rage.

melodic bliss.

Sea Of Storms

Shy Low

Toxic Moxie

Dead Weight


VHS Box Set

(Self Aware/Tor Johnson)



On their second full-length album, released

Toxic Moxie’s first full-length release brings

to late this year after much anticipation,

together the trilogy of EPs they’ve released

It’s taken years for the debut LP from this emotionally-driven



finally materialize, but these nine songs were

instrumental quartet Shy Low creates powerful

thus far into a compilation of danceable disco-

decidedly worth the wait. The powerful rhythm post-rock cinemascapes. There are certain

punk fury. With Sera Stavroula’s powerful

section gives just the right amount of muscle

obvious touchstones here--Godspeed You

voice at the forefront, this band generates

to these melancholy midtempo tunes featuring Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky--but

nearly 80 minutes of postpunk grooves with

evocative lyrics, which will thrill fans of Hot this band’s soaring melodies and inspiring

an undeniable electro-funk vibe underpinning

Water Music and Leatherface.

the whole thing. Dance!

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

crescendos stand on their own.


RECORD Reviews

Adele 25 (XL)

This decade’s most anticipated record skillfully navigates the hazardous minefield left by 21. Luckily, Adele’s able to tap into area uncovered in her previous work, as well as explore new sounds for a record that in no way can be called a misstep or rehash. That fact alone is its biggest milestone, regardless of any record it may set. (DN)

Big Grams Big Grams (Epic)

This collaboration between trip-hop/dream-pop duo Phantogram and Outkast alum Big Boi feels like the teaser leading up to a proper album. This half-hour project offers up some funkier Big Boicentric songs that join some electro-pop jams with catchy choruses from Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel. Features from Run The Jewels and Skrillex round out this sampler course. (CE)

Drug Church Hit Your Head (No Sleep)

Not just Self-Defense Family singer Patrick Kindlon’s other band, Drug Church does a great deal to prove their stand-alone merit on this their second LP. The driving post-hardcore tunes here hark back to 90s greats like Jawbox and Quicksand, while Kindlon’s lyrics are witty, bitter, and all too relatable. A perfect soundtrack for post-millennial frustration and ennui. (AN)


Allison Weiss New Love


La Di Da Di

Beach House

Thank Your Lucky Stars (Sub Pop)

(No Sleep) As the title implies, New Love’s inspiration comes from a new relationship the songwriter has found herself in. Rather than concentrating on feelings of intense joy, Weiss instead focuses on the contradictory feelings that arise. Excitement, apprehension, confidence, and self-doubt interact with each other on every track, making the album an honest and accurate portrayal of what new love is. (DN)

(Warp) This is Battles’ first completely vocal-free release, and it’s all the better for it. It features some of their most joyful, vibrant compositions ever, echoing the alien yet danceable sonics of 2011’s Gloss Drop. Instead of simply compensating for a loss, the hardedged grooves and intertwining synthesizer and guitar loops seem to take on a life of their own. (CE)

Pete Curry



With everything from contemplative anti-love ballads to punk rock frenzy, Pete Curry has done a considerable job on this debut release. Songs like “A Word From Our Sponsors” and “Don’t Ask Me” are quick examples that show off the diversity of Advice On Love. Curry is one to watch, due to his penchant for clever songwriting. (SC)

This RVA experimental supergroup (members of Lost Tribe, Caves Caverns, Scant, etc) makes a big splash with their debut cassette, blasting harsh atonal noise, garbled vocal blurts, and striking electro/synth stabs into your eardrums with intent to pulverize. Sick shit--like Twin Infinitives-era Royal Trux jamming with Pharmakon on Saturn (ancestral home of Sun Ra, natch). (AN)

After the breakout success of, and traditionalist backlash towards, 2013’s Sunbather, Deafheaven takes several steps back. While their first two releases managed to competently fuse post-rock, black metal, and post-hardcore, New Bermuda finds the band seemingly forgetting how to synthesize influences, while also attempting to reassert any metal cred they feel that they had — drop-A guitar chugs included. (CE)

Advice On Love Bad Mon Rising ( (Chaotic Noise Productions)

Ron Funches

The Funches of Us (Comedy Dynamics)

If you weren’t previously familiar with Ron Funches, you’re welcome. His brand of comedy dabbles in anecdotes about his relationship with his son, considerate gang members during flu season, and the difficulties of passing drug tests for future employment opportunities. This is yet another great comedy album in a year that has been full of them. (SC)


Art Angels (4AD)

If you’ve ever wondered what pop music could be without outside influence, this is the record for you. It’s almost defiant how unwavering Grimes’ songs are; each one flies in the face of what is expected of a typical pop song. As ridiculous the idea of “post-pop” is, music like this actually validates the concept, making you yearn for more. (DN)

This surprise album comes less than two months after the dream pop duo’s fifth album, Depression Cherry, and distances itself from that record with a sound closer to their early releases. While the album’s completion and release are staggering by themselves, the record succeeds by pulling together nine cohesive songs, all building on one another to make a truly outstanding record. (DN)

New Bermuda (ANTI-)


the hills are aLIVE AT SOUND OF MUSIC (

This quick four-song live EP from Manzara is perfect to hold fans over until a proper full-length is released. While the band features an impressive background of prior bands, Manzara is in a league of their own with their blazing, syncopated entree into the heavy, intense worlds of rock music. (SC)


Shannon Cleary (SC), Cody Endres (CE), Andrew Necci (AN), Doug Nunnally (DN)


Joanna Newsom

No BS! Brass Band

Christian Scott

Despite the defeatist album title, and surprisingly well-written English lyrics (Mgła is Polish) featuring an air of despairing nihilism, the music on this album manages to portray a kind of heavy-hearted perseverance. Fairly melodious, ascendant black metal guitar passages, along with varied, but not showy drumming help create this atmosphere, while deep, gruff vocals keep things from sounding too blissful. (CE)

Newsom’s evolved quite a bit in the four years since her third album. Now more Laurel Canyon storyteller than out-of-time Appalachian soothsayer, her complex songwriting skills and layered arrangements remain intact. The world she creates within this album’s fantastical headspace is spellbinding and beautiful. Worth the repeat listens it’s sure to inspire. (AN)

RVA’s national ambassadors set their ambitions high on their sixth, and by far their best, record. Reggie Pace and his remarkable bandmates deliver an inspiring work of art that beautifully conveys the complicated feelings around America’s current social turmoil. With tense arrangements and anguish bubbling under the surface, this stunning record defies what you’ve come to expect. (DN)

This New Orleans-based trumpet player’s latest effort does a rather graceful job of combining jazz and non-jazz sounds. Although largely rooted in fusion of the Miles Davis-inspired variety, Scott tastefully incorporates elements of funky New Orleans-style jazz, spaced-out electronica, and some world music. Stellar musicianship and good pacing make this album a true joy to listen to. (CE)

Travis Scott

Shy, Low

This Kanye-protege’s first commercial album is a somewhat odd mix in terms of performances — Scott’s own rapping is somewhat unremarkable, while his often heavily-effected singing is a very palatable, if acquired taste. Consistently lush, dark, and instrumentally-varied production really powers this release, along with choice features from Juicy J, 2 Chainz, and many others. (CE)

Post-rock isn’t the easiest genre to tackle. That’s what makes Shy, Low’s Hiraeth such a welcome release. Over the span of forty-three minutes, the group displays a keen understanding of how to pull off intricate sonic landscapes that feel natural in their movements and earned when the unexpected moments hit their landings perfectly. (SC)

Wax Idols

Jeremy White & The Blue Hearts

Exercises in Futility (No Solace)

Rodeo (Epic/Grand Hustle)

American Tragic

(Collect Records)

This guitar-driven gothic crew branches out a bit on their third album, hitting all their previous high points with darkly catchy tunes like “Lonely You” and “Seraph,” while exploring the full spectrum of their sound with detours into industrial aloofness and Nick Cave-style gothic-Western balladry. Like a lost mid-80s postpunk classic. (AN)

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Divers (Drag City)

Hiraeth (Spartan)

Classic American Sins

( Richmond’s newest folk rock band debuts with a powerful collection of modern Americana that rightfully showcases songwriting first and foremost. The lyrics are razor sharp and raw with emotion while being perfectly supported by skilled musicianship. While the vocals aren’t the focus, White’s gravelly voice is utterly captivating as it guides you through what Americana should be in 2015. (DN)

Brass Knuckles (


Another Face


On Sungazer’s Another Face, patience is key in pursuit of the many payoffs this album delivers. The execution of songs like “Offering II” and “Another Face” are stellar examples of how well Sungazer executes their brand of slow, fuzzy, loud rock. For fans of True Widow. (SC)


Songs Of Lament (Forcefield)

Following up their excellent 2014 debut, Songs Of Descent, Nashville’s Yautja give us a more focused blast of their pummeling brutality on this EP. Tempos vary widely but heaviness is a constant, and the rage carries full-force across songs both long and short. Inventive drumming pairs well with straightforward, head-crushing riffs. Bang your head. (AN)

Stretch Music (Ropeadope)


Crack Music


Here’s a new RVA hip hop project from the Jellowstone crew. Tennison combines rapper Tennishu and producer DJ Harrison to bring us just under half an hour of tough, powerful rhymes over smooth, funky beats. It’s a powerful mix of old-school mic authority and crate-digging golden age beats, like Rakim rhyming over MF Doom production. Essential listening. (AN)

Young Thug

Slime Season/Slime Season 2 ( /youngthugworld)

After dropping the entertaining, sometimes understated Barter 6 earlier this year, Thug delivers these two somewhat over-long mixtapes. Each tape is a mixed bag in terms of quality and new vs. previously released tracks. The first Slime Season is rife with bangers and eccentric pop-rap oddities, while the second tape maintains a more smoothedout, balladic feel. (CE)




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


photo by Greg Bethman

Michael, goddam dude. I’ve tried to start writing this thing over and over, but all I really want to do is talk to you one more time. Ten more times. A thousand more times. I want to sit around the campfire talking about music and tattoos and how stoked we are on so many things. I want you to explain how all pop music is the same and how a tattoo is forever, but it doesn’t fucking matter anyway. I want to go back to that time we got lunch and talked about suicide and you were able to make me see that it might just be selfish to expect someone to live with unending pain and self doubt. You were able to make that pain, that daily, crippling pain into something I could understand. You were able to convince me that when the time came to make that decision, you were doing it consciously.. with years of consideration and thought. Well, honestly all I want to do is go back and tell you to shut the fuck up. I want to tell you how wrong you are and remind you how many people love you.. how many people will be utterly devastated by your decision. But that’s not possible.


You made a choice and now we all live with it. I tell myself I’m fine with it. You did what you had to do, and found some relief from the sleepless nights and creeping discomfort. And deep down I do believe that. There’s nothing all of us ever wanted more for you than to feel comfortable and loved. But it doesn’t really make it any easier. I still want you to be here.. Busting out laughing when Greg says some dumb shit for the 10 millionth time. Listening to shitty emo with Brently. Talking serious with Brionna (because she’s good at that). Looking truly happy when Beth called to say she was getting off work and coming over. Calling me up on your day off and convincing me that we should go drink beers down at the river. It never clicked until you were gone that you were the first friend I made after going to jail. I was pretty fucked at the time.. probably more so than I even realized. But you were something else.. something completely disconnected from the shit storm that my life had been thrown into. You were just a dude who knew about basement shows and bikes and innocence and.. well, Sparks (lots of Sparks). You were a dude I wanted to hang out with just to have a good time. You were my gateway into who I would become. You were far more than I ever told you.. and so much more than you believed yourself to be. I want to end this in some happy way.. Mainly because I feel like that’s how these things are supposed to go. Like I should joke you about unapologetically loving the fucking Gin Blossoms or painting your toenails. But honestly I’m fucking bummed. I’m bummed that you’re not going to call me anymore on your days off. Or that Chance can’t fall asleep on you ever again. Or that you’re not going the be around to give out the greatest fucking hugs and, “I love you”’s ever. That’s a lot less love in this world and that just sucks.

MIchaEl ramey

The only time I’ve felt like things were right since you’ve been gone was when Beth said she could feel you at Staycation Island. She said it was the first time she could feel you since you left. And she’s right. You’re always going to be there. And everywhere else you felt at home. You’re always going to live in your friends’ hearts and on the skin of thousands of people who are lucky enough to wear your work. You’ll always be with us. And in my heart, you’ll always be giving me the best hug I’ve ever been lucky enough to get.

We apologize for any harm we caused by the misspelling of Michael Ramey’s name in the last issue and lack of photo credits. We wanted to make good and give Michael a proper goodbye in our pages. - R. Anthony Harris

I love you, Mickael Broth 74

photo by Casey Collins


10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




RVA 23 WINTER 2015  

The weather is growing colder, the year is drawing to a close, and the time approaches for the release of RVA Magazine’s final issue of 2015...

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