The Scion AV Journal-VOL. 01
Gluekit METAL BLADE ASAP Rocky FICE trinidad james BLACK SCALE
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jessica silverman gallery / san francisco, ca
WELCOME This is the first issue of the Scion AV Journal, a new publication dedicated to creative culture. Inside you’ll find expert advice and tales from those living their dreams and making it work. Dig in and keep your brain open.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
7 INDEX DRUMS
AND THE ILL-OUT CREW!
9 LEVI MAESTRO
SCION AV INSTALLATION FEATURED DESIGNER
"check it out"'
MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
11 OLD VS. NEW: NICK HOOK vs. 45 KING TWO PRODUCERS TALK IT OUT
on YOUTUBE.COM/SCIONAV and scionav.com
SALT LAKE CITY'S BEST/ONLY STREETWEAR STORE/ART GALLERY
GREATEST HITS FROM THE TALENTED DESIGN DUO
25 JFISH DESIGNS
SCION AV INSTALLATION FEATURED DESIGNER
27 MY FIRST YEAR
HOW FUEGO BISTRO MADE IT
29 METAL BLADE RECORDS
HOW THE LEGENDARY LABEL FINDS NEW TALENT
33 MY BEST DECISION / MY WORST MISTAKE TWO MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERANS LOOK BACK
35 JERMAINE ROGERS
ONE ARTIST'S ROCK POSTER PROGRESS
41 A$AP ROCKY
HE MAKES THIS LOOK EASY
45 MEGA OF BLACK SCALE
SPEAKING THROUGH HIS LABEL
47 TRINIDAD JAMES
THE NEW ILL STYLE
51 EVENT RECAP
SAGE VAUGHN, EARACHE, HOT SUGAR, LEVI MAESTRO, TRINIDAD JAMES, BODEGA BAMZ & MORE
Cover: Scene from "Moleskine" by Gluekit Photo: Gluekit
STAFF Scion Project Manager: Jeri Yoshizu Editor: Eric Ducker Creative Direction: Scion Art Direction: BON Design: Jamie Story, nick ace, tony brown
CONTRIBUTORS WRITERS: J. Bennett, Mr. Dead, Prince Paul, Evan Shamoon, Ashley Simpson Photographers: Kareem Black, GAVIN GUIDRY, Phil Knott, Ryan Lusteg
CONTACT For additional information on Scion, email, write or call. Scion Customer Experience 19001 S. Western Avenue Mail Stop WC12 Torrance, CA 90501 Phone: 866.70.SCION Fax: 310.381.5932 Email: Email us through the Contact page located on scion.com Hours: M-F, 6am-5pm PST Online Chat: M-F, 6am-6pm PST The Scion AV JOURNAL is published by BON. For more information about BON, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Company references, advertisements and/or websites listed in this publication are not affiliated with Scion, unless otherwise noted through disclosure. Scion does not warrant these companies and is not liable for their performances or the content on their advertisements and/or websites. ÂŠ 2013 Scion, a marque of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. Scion and the Scion logo are trademarks of Toyota Motor Corporation. 00430-SJO
Photo: Scene from "Pop Art" by Gluekit
Paul King pounds out a new approach to percussion.
DOCK BOX $ 40.00
Tight-ply birch sides and ash
Written by Ashley Simpson
faced drum has a naturally deep sound.
Louisiana-born designer Paul King has always had an interest in percussion. He started playing drums at the age of nine and he has been steadily devoted to it ever since, playing in his friends’ bands as he grew up. It wasn’t until 2006, though, when King was working in a children’s science museum in Shreveport, that his hobby became something more. “We had a bunch of free time, and both of my bosses were percussionists, so we started trying to build things,” King says. What he developed was a custom birchwood cajon, a beautifully crafted hand drum that merged a simple, naturalistic aesthetic sensibility with an engineer’s commitment to sound innovation. “From there, I built a bunch of different cajons, figured out how to make bongos, and we started putting contact mics on things,” says King, who now develops drums under the moniker Index Drums in his North Louisiana home studio. “We made powerless speakers and iPhone docs, and electronic stomp boxes for electronic producers. It’s a lot of fun, because, really, nobody else makes them.” indexdrums.com
CAJON 58 $ 225.00 A wooden subwoofer that is environmentally sound.
BIRCH BONGOS $ 125.00 Handmade drum combines the rich, wooden tones of a cajon with the versatility of bongos.
Index Drums are available for purchase at Scion AV Installation, 7667 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90036.
opportunity to create content for myself, to get myself popular and get new opportunities to come in that way,” he says. “When I stopped wanting to be something I wasn’t and started being what I was, everything started working.” Maestro Knows is his ongoing online video project, a series of documentary shorts that follow him on his selfactualized road trips and interviews. His early subjects were personal friends (Curt@!n$) and possessions (his Nike Air Yeezys), but quickly came to include established artists (Estevan Oriol) and musicians (Warren G, Lil Jon). Though his early videos were all made on strength, eventually those with money to spend started to take notice as well. Maestro now makes his living by working with brands and high profile individuals looking to help build content around whatever initiatives they have going on. Maestro says he prefers working with corporate clients to forcing people to watch ads in order to view his content, and therefore doesn’t put his videos on YouTube and goes strictly Vimeo. “Most of the opportunities people come at me with are pretty rad,” he says, confident that part of his appeal is the fact that he makes the videos himself, without the baggage that normally comes along with such creative endeavors. “[I do it] without having a crew, or even a concept. I Levi Maestro got started making his own videos through
[prefer] getting thrown into situations and documenting
skateboarding at the age of 15. “I was the only one I knew
what happens, and then finding the story later.” Naturally,
who was really interested in it, so I guess that’s how I got
he says prior experience came in clutch, “At some point
good at it,” he says of his early days, both behind and in
I realized I should use the style that I developed over
front of the lens. In 2006, when he turned 19, Maestro
time. It’s very much like the skateboarding stuff I’d been
decided to move to Los Angeles from San Diego (where he
doing—fast paced, high energy, real life looking imagery
briefly lived after leaving his native Las Vegas) to pursue a
cut together to make a story out of it all.”
career directing music videos. He interned for a director, but quickly realized that his attempt to break into the
industry came at a time when the money—and with it, the opportunities—were quickly disappearing.
Levi Maestro’s “Here I Am, There I Go” art exhibit ran at the Scion AV Installation in Los Angeles this past February
With the Maestro Knows video series, Levi MAESTRO tells his stories his way. Written by Evan Shamoon
Photography by Ryan Lusteg
Fortunately, this moment coincided with the explosion
of home video production, bolstered by the release of affordable, high-quality cameras. So, like many of his
Listen to the soundtrack for Maestro Knows America, his Scion
generation, Levi Maestro started making videos and
sponsored tour across the country, that you can find at
uploading them to the internet. “I realized I had an
When did you realize that what you were doing artistically through music was your career? 45 King: There’s really no career in art. Art is art if the person putting it out is liked. If they stay out of trouble and keep their name good, then they’re going to be good. People like whoever is known. You have to really put out some garbage to lose your name—you really have to do something bad or put out music that’s so far away from you’ve done.
How tough was it to make a name for yourself and get people to hear your music? Nick Hook: It was definitely something that took a while, but I made a choice to make it organic and try not to skip any steps. I always felt like doing what I wanted was more important than trying to get my name out there. Once I solidified myself, I felt like I was going to be here forever, rather than some guy who shows up for an hour and is gone.
Two producers hash out how to make a career when you're making art. Interview: Eric Ducker
Nick Hook Photography by Kareem Black
45 King: When people started saying I had good stuff, I started getting work. When people stopped saying I has good
stuff, I stopped getting work. You know what I’m saying? And that goes for someone who nobody knows what he looks like.
How long did it take for you to get good? 45 King: That’s a crazy question. Once you start to get attention, that’s when you get good, I guess. But who says I’m good? Nick Hook: I made music as a teenager for a very long time, but my first real experience in music was actually signing to
Warner Bros. [as part of the band Men, Women & Children]. The first record I actually put out was on Warner Bros., which
45 King is a legendary hip-hop and breakbeat producer who is one of the founders of New Jersey’s famed Flavor Unit and
is a different process than most. No one ever liked what I did from age 14 to 24, then we got signed and I learned one
was the primary sonic architect of the crew. He is responsible for such classic tracks as Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First,”
aspect of the business, but then I learned that it’s hard to make money, so I started to diversify. I started DJing because I
Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” and his own “The 900 Number.” Nick Hook is a Brooklyn-based producer, DJ, engineer,
liked it, but then people started paying me money to do it. Then people started paying me money to do remixes. Having
bassist and go-to dude when dance music artists want to start messing with analog equipment. He has collaborated with
five careers going on at once was the best way for me. If one of them disappeared, I’d have four to keep working on. If you
Azealia Banks, L-Vis 1990, El-P and many more. We got these two on the phone to talk about figuring out the balance
keep it diverse, then people start to hear about you in different circles and they all start to correlate eventually. I feel like
between the creative and the business sides of their chosen profession.
my career is kind of just starting.
What is it about your career that makes you feel like it’s just starting now? Nick Hook: I’m just now getting to do what I want to do. Before it was just groundwork. Now I’m legitimate in other
people’s eyes. In the business, the people who are signing the checks, they need to trust you. It’s a stupid game that we need to play. The Azealia Banks thing or working with Hudson Mohawke or certain milestones in other people’s minds verifies you. Now I want to go beyond that, whether it’s cultivating artists that I meet in the clubs or mixing records for $2000 each or producing a big major label rap record. Someone isn’t going to write a young producer a check for $100,000 and say, “Make an album.” They want to make sure that’s a good investment on their part.
When people ask you for advice, do you tell them not to go into music or do you tell them, “ This is what you need to know upfront…”? 45 King: I don’t advise anybody to get into this. Art is not a concrete thing. Art can be anything. Art can be a rock. I would tell people to get something concrete, because art is not something concrete. But I would never tell anybody not to do this.
If you can do it without it hurting, then you should do it. Because a lot of it hurts. You meet a lot of people, you fall in love with a lot of people, and then you find out they are not around when you need them. And that hurts and that’s called show business. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m bitter, that's just what happened to me.
Nick Hook: For real, I tell them not to be delusional. I always had a job until last year, which I relied on to pay my income,
then I could do my music and make it my music. A lot of these kids, they’re trying to make a banger that puts them on the map. The reason I think I’m here is that I kept it true to what I wanted. I would never tell someone not to make music, but when I started doing music, it was as a hobby. When I was 13 I didn’t start doing music to make money. Nobody liked me and girls didn’t like me, and I was like, I might as well hang out with these other nerds and make music. Now that we got a little bit of money and a couple of girls like us, it’s cooler, but I still try to keep the ideals of why I started. I had to save up all summer to buy an MPC when I was 18. It was $1200. To get $1200 in St. Louis when you’re 18, you’ve got to deliver mad pizzas. And I delivered those pizzas and I kept that sampler and I learned how to use it. It’s not a flash in the pan. I see these kids, and once a genre starts getting popular, they can learn about the whole genre in a night. When I wanted to learn about hip-hop, I went to the record store and put my headphones on. And that knowledge sticks with me to this day.
With the larger availability of software and the possibility to download basically any song you want, it’s tough to tell a kid to go save up for an MPC. Nick Hook: I wish these tools would have existed when I was a kid in a way, but I think when we were DJing when were young, we’d go see 45 King because he had his crate and I had my crate and another dude played electro records. We were
all unique. It was a different process. Now a guy like DJ Sega from Philly has a $100 PC and he can show his ideas through his brain. We’re cutting out that thing where you have to be middle class to make music, and that’s a beautiful thing. Things change.
45 King: It’s not that I don’t like kids, but I never thought about what the kids were going to learn from me when I do things. I just try to be nice to everybody. So if they can learn that, there’s not really much more they can learn from me. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Nick Hook: There are a million people more talented than me, but the phone rings because I have fun when I work and
I’m easy to work with. Giving someone the experience of a good time is more important than money. I’ve seen artists who might be making their manager five million dollars, but if they’re miserable, you don’t want to sit with them. The thing that changed my life the most, I did for free. I recorded “212” for Azealia Banks when she had 100 followers on Twitter and then she became a worldwide phenomenon. I did it because a friend asked me to. It wasn’t about making money, it was about being dope. And because we had fun that day, there was an energy that was transmitted through the music and it resonated. That got me a million more jobs, the chance to travel the world with her and legitimate fees.
Check out 45 King’s “Making the Beat” on Scion Streaming Radio at scionav.com
Listen to Nick Hook’s Without You EP for Scion AV at scionav.com/nickhook
Bullough’s original plan was to bring in nationally recognized artists, but as things got going—and in the midst of the
FICE taps into an unexpected community to build up their Salt Lake City base.
economic turbulence of the late part of last decade—this took some time. FICE has been hosting monthly art shows, ranging from the Spacecraft Saints to the graphic design work of Dan Christofferson. Infamous photographer Ricky Powell
Story by Evan Shamoon
was brought in for a solo show during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. “Usually [we feature] local talents, which we seem to have an endless supply of, but a couple times a year we'll bring some heaters in,” says Bullough, who points to work from Jacob Bannon, Sam Flores, Michael Sieben and RETNA as being among his personal favorites. FICE’s approach to both the retail and art landscape is rather unique, in that it’s generally kept close to the vest. “[We]
Five years ago, Corey Bullough and Laura Hadar opened the doors to FICE in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. With its high
focus on the community,” says Bullough. “We're not trying to blow the web up with a bunch of hype, we just do awesome
ceilings and open floor plan, it was ideal as both a streetwear retail store and an art gallery. Bullough, who had been loosely
stuff in our neck of the woods.”
involved in the snowboard industry, knew that Salt Lake City leaned conservative, but this fact only emboldened him to help build a creative hub for likeminded locals. “I’ve always been super into street art and sneakers. And I hate the mall,
never been able to do it,” he says. He returned from a trip to New York City feeling particularly inspired, and that night happened to run into Hadar, a professional snowboarder. The idea for FICE was born.
FICE is part of the Scion Partners Program. For more information go to scionav.com/partners
Scene from Pop Art.
black & white photo installation that we did for Synthetic magazine,” recalls Christopher. “It dealt with the tension between two dimensional and three dimensional spaces—showing 2D objects in a 3D way—and played that tension out visually.” These early, spatially experimental projects led to more commercial work for the husband and wife duo, including illustration
Kathleen and Christopher Sleboda have crossed mediums and dimensions to advance Gluekit's artistic approach. As told to Ashley Simpson When Kathleen and Christopher Sleboda started working together at Gluekit, the graphic design firm Christopher developed in 2003 as an extension of his Yale MFA thesis, they immediately bonded over a shared love of hardcore punk and vegan food. But perhaps most significantly, they shared an interest in the breakdown of traditional conceptual and aesthetic boundaries in illustration and graphic design. “The first jobs were photographic projects for different art magazines, like the
commissions from publications including Rolling Stone, Esquire and New York magazine. They’ve also developed into projects in industrial design, apparel, and print work. “We’re really interested in trying to find ways to create brand new products that we haven’t seen around before,” explains Christopher. “We’re very influenced by 1960s modernist design, 1970s punk (album art like the first Talking Heads LP), the neon colors of the 1980s, and the work of groups like General Idea–people who just didn’t allow themselves to have boundaries, who explored any medium they found interesting in the moment.” Gluekit will have show at Scion AV Installation from March 16 to April 16. Here Christopher guides us through some of their previous work and offers a preview of what to expect from their show. gluekit.com
"BRICK BOOKENDS" - 2010 We designed these bookends in 2010 and continue to produce them. They are powder-coated steel. This project marked our first foray into manufacturing and we loved being able to make something solid and real. We collect books and have bulging bookshelves, so it made sense for us to use the pile of bricks, a motif that we’ve used over and over in our work, in this very practical product.
"CLOUDS" - 2004
"POP ART" - 2011
This was produced for the awesome arts magazine Faesthetic. We’ve been in ten issues of Faesthetic over the years, and
Pop Art was an art video we produced for the Scion Installation 7 art show. Concentrating on things that “pop!” in a variety
produced some of our very favorite work in the process. Faesthetic's open and later themed issues were a solid space for
of ways, our video highlights acts of presentation and interaction using a simplified vocabulary, repetition and bright colors.
experimentation. We always worked in black and white, and built out ideas about spatial interaction and odd juxtapositions
Aesthetically it’s somewhere between instructional video and infomercial. This work follows our interest in clichés by
that continue to be found in our work. This bunny shirt was found at a local thrift store and inspired the entire
employing a range of popular video tricks. We were also interested creating a “still life” that moves, ever so slightly.
"LONG PLAY" - 2013 The title for our new exhibit at Scion AV Installation is Long Play, and its kind of a rip off of the idea of an LP record. We’re talking to some different record labels now to redesign some of their LP records to look at visual language. Some of our favorite records are like 20 years old now. That’s going to play into other puns and clichés and this idea of “long play” and pieces related to that. So, we’re thinking of furniture—like stools and chairs and record players and pillows —and also other meanings of long play, like the way Kathleen plays video games, which is to be very thorough. And we’re also looking at a newspaper we’re producing for the show that will be called “Long Essay” where we’re pretty much reproducing every text that’s ever been written about Gluekit and every video, so it will be this very exhaustive thing. It’s sort of taking this one simple idea of the LP, the long player, and putting it through these different mediums and metaphors. We’ve been really in love with newspapers lately. The quality of them and the large format and the affordability. We’re kind of conflicted a little bit with the disposability of images in the Tumblr culture. We feel like we’re looking at so many images each day and you just look at them for two seconds and move onto the next image. With a newspaper the large format really allows us to sequence images and scale them in a different way than in day-to-day life. I think in general, a lot of our interest is in the collision of those two mediums or presentations of information—the really new versus the really old, then finding spaces in between those areas. We’re also really interested in the quality of things in design, because it’s so easy to take logos and slap them across a T-shirt and have them become boring. With our book ends we’re working with a company that makes steel and bends steel. These are processes that are more involved and a little more difficult to do than just make something on the internet and have it ordered. It makes them a little less disposable. We’re looking at combining elements, like something with a pillow that we’re playing with. You associate a pillow with being
"PRINT" - 2008
very soft and comforting, but we would pair that with a pattern that’s very hard and rigid. We’re looking at ways to contrast different ideas about the form and function of the pieces.
We were commissioned by Print magazine to create a cover and six interior spreads for their 2008 Regional Design Annual. Basically the annual celebrates the best design across the county, broken up into regional groupings, so the six interior
We’re really big fans of so many different things that people do, and sometimes we wonder exactly where we fit in, in
spreads spelled out the different geographical regions in the competition.
terms of what everyone else is doing. We’re graphic designers and illustrators, but we love art and photography. The kind of illustration we do isn’t really what traditional illustrators do, it has a little bit more of a graphic design component to
It was a great opportunity for us to work with tactile elements and combine our love of color, typography, dimensionality
the illustration. And our graphic design is a little bit more illustrative. And the art that we do is kind of graphic design. So
and spatial illusion. And it was the first time we produced a photocomposition piece in color. We shot the pieces in a space
we’re pooling components from all of these things, and we never quite fit or rest in any one of those worlds. We find that
at the Yale School of Art, which had an open second floor around an indoor court area, so that we could get the overhead
interesting, but also kind of awkward as well.
perspective. We built all the type out of wood, felt, hula hoops, fabric, tape, staples and foam so the forms existed in real space, and we spent a lot of time working out angles so that the words would be legible.
LASER ENGRAVED LEATHER MOLESKINE COVER $ 80.00 by Gluekit
Classic Moleskine notebook wrapped in a handmade 100% natural vegetable-tanned leather case.
Gluekit merchandise is available for purchase at Scion AV Installation, 7667 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90036. Scene from Pop Art.
DINO PLANTER $ 60.00 Stoneware planter cast from an ostrich egg shell.
SILHOUETTE VASE $ 40.00 These four vases can be placed together to give the illusion that they are one piece.
Jennifer Fisher creates elegantly strange ceramic pieces that get in touch with nature. Written by Ashley Simpson When Berkeley-based industrial designer Jennifer Fisher begins a new ceramics project for her jfish designs line, she has two things in mind. “It has to be functional and it has to come from nature, from the things that I see in the world around me,” says the New Jersey native. The synthesis of these two core values is something practical (for example a cup, planter
GRADE A EGG CONTAINER $ 24.00
or an organizer), ecologically inspired (taking the shape of eggs or branches), and slightly, beautifully strange. It’s a simple,
Eggshell exterior hides a brightly
developed as an engineering psychology student and product designer. “I feel like what I do is industrial design, but the
pieces are sculptural,” says Fisher, who has been designing and producing her own ceramics full time for two years now. “You
ethereal aesthetic, rooted in a devotion to the great outdoors and a consciousness of the significance of touch that she
can enjoy looking at them even if you’re not actively using them. I hope they draw people to them.” JFish Designs are available for purchase at Scion AV Installation, 7667 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90036.
That first year there were a lot of growing pains. A lot of things went wrong. I had a lot of equipment issues. I didn’t forsee that in the summer that the refridgeration was going to break. Also, my restaurant is considered to be one of the most hidden restaurants in the Valley in Phoenix. It’s a beautiful little restaurant in a quaint setting that’s off a little residential street, so marketing has always been in the forefront of things I had to do. I knew that was something I was really going to have to work on the first year. Summers here are brutal. People go out of town—they go to Los Angeles, to San Diego, to Las Vegas—so a lot of restaurants go out of business. It used to be a thing here in the Valley that restaurants would go on hiatus in the summer. The people who owned Café Del Sol before me, they went on a six-week hiatus the year before and it killed their business. I closed down for a week in 2009, I still think about what a mistake that was. You can’t close. If people show up when you’re closed, they might never come back. So if you know it’s going to be slow, you just staff low. You’ve just got to figure it out and suck it up. When I give people advice, I tell them to make sure they don’t go into debt. I say if you’re going to open a restaurant, you should start small. Don’t get a 4000 square foot space for your first venture. Ours was 800 square feet, the rent was really small and it was really manageable. We had six employees. It would have taken a lot for me to really screw it up. Even though I wasn’t doing much in sales—we were doing $20,000 to $25,000 a month in sales in those first six months—I was still able to squeak out a little bit in profit. If I had a big place, I would have been hosed. In a big restaurant you need cooks, bussers, servers, hostesses, managers and all that other stuff. If need be, myself and a cook could have run that restaurant. It never Fuego Bistro's Signature Empanadas.
got to there, but it got close. We’ve really grown. We started with seven tables, now we have 28 tables. Three years later we started opening more restaurants. We expanded it over time. We’ve added three more restaurants. We also have a food truck, we have catering, we’ve got a lot going now. Over the past six years we’ve gotten really lucky. fuegobistro.com
THE FIRST YEAR IS OFTEN THE HARDEST FOR A NEW BUSINESS. THE OWNER OF FUEGO BISTO EXPLAINS HOW HE SURVIVED.
Fuego Bistro is part of the Scion Partners program. Learn more at scionav.com/partners
As told to Eric Ducker Jeff Ward is the owner of Fuego Bistro, a restaurant that he opened in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2006. The Fuego Bistro Group has expanded to now include four restaurants in the city: the original Fuego Bistro, Fuego Tacos, Fuego Cantina and Fuego Cityscape. Here Ward tells the story of how his restaurant made it through its first year. I’m 39 and I have 22 years in the restaurant business. I was actually a waiter for many, many years before I delved into trying to do my own thing. I worked for many years in Las Vegas, then I moved to Scottsdale where I managed a steak house for five or six years where I honed my craft and learned everything about restaurants. In 2006 I scrambled together as much money as I could and I managed to get together $85,000, which really isn’t that much to start your first thing. I found this little space that was a Cuban restaurant called Café Del Sol. I talked to the owners and they were ready to get out. I took it over and I wanted to keep it Latin American, but I wanted to do something softer, I wanted to do some fusion, I wanted to do some spicier food, I wanted to do some Southwestern. I opened my doors in November of 2006. There were only seven tables inside, at that time it was really small. The first few weeks were really daunting. It was one of the coldest winters on record in Phoenix. It rained a whole bunch and it really hurt our business. I remember that first month really thinking, “Maybe I made a big mistake here.” Then the spring time came and we really got lucky. We got a couple of good reviews, that really helped our business. It gave us the springboard we needed.
Fuego Cityscape's Coconut Firecracker Shrimp.
Brian slagel explains how his dominant label finds new talent. Story by J. Bennett In 1982, suburban L.A. metal fanatic and record store employee Brian Slagel bankrolled studio sessions for his favorite local bands and released the Metal Massacre compilation. One of those bands was a group of young headbangers who called themselves Metallica. Just like that, Metal Blade Records was born. Metal Massacre III surfaced in 1983, featuring a little band called Slayer. Metal Blade soon went on to become one of the biggest independent metal labels in the world, releasing albums from underground superstars like Cannibal Corpse, GWAR and King Diamond. Today, they boast a roster that includes such international heavyweights as Behemoth, Amon Amarth and Pentagram. “You know, it’s funny,” say Slagel, “the way we find bands now probably hasn’t changed a whole lot over the course of the years. People we know—friends, record store owners, promoters—see bands and they recommend them to us. A lot of times our own bands will recommend other bands that they’ve played with on tour. Predominantly that’s how we hear about bands, and that’s going all the way back to the early days. Back then, you’d have to wait for somebody to send a demo tape in the mail. Now everything is a lot easier and quicker. You hear about a band and you can instantly check out a song online. But the way we find them is the same.” Like most record labels, Metal Blade is inundated with demos from aspiring acts. “We do listen to everything that people send us, but it’s somewhat rare that we find stuff that way,” Slagel explains. “Word of mouth goes a long way, though. I always tell bands that they should get involved in their local scene, because that’s probably gonna help them get signed more than anything else. But if you’re a band sending out demos, you don’t need to put together a flashy package. If anything, the slicker it looks, the less appealing it is. And make sure you put your best song first. We’ll sometimes get demos with like
two-minute intros. Don’t do that. Put your best foot forward and get to the point.”
Origin: Detroit, Michigan
With music sales—especially those of CDs—down precipitously over the last few years, Slagel says that Metal Blade has had
Style: Melodic thrash
to become more discerning when signing new bands. “It’s becoming really difficult to break a new act these days because
“Battlecross is interesting because we did what we call a development deal with them. That’s when the band has a piece of
you just cannot get the CDs in the shops,” he says. “With the bigger bands, stores will bring them in, but with new bands
product already finished, and we’ll pick it up and distribute it for them. It works well for us because there’s not a whole lot
it’s difficult and over the last few years it’s gotten harder and harder to do that. In that sense, yes, we definitely have to be
of upfront costs. It means we can spend a little more time and effort in promoting the band. We loved the way Battlecross
really careful when we’re signing new bands. They have to understand that they have to go out and work; they have to tour,
sounded—it’s a very melodic sound, even with the heavier vocals, which is kind of an interesting subgenre thing that’s
and they have to make sure they use social media to their advantage.”
happening. And they’re a case study as far as a band that has used social media perfectly to get where they’re getting now. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube—they really use them well and they’re really active on those sites. That led them in part to
Slagel must be doing something right. Despite ubiquitous cries about the death of the music industry, Metal Blade is
getting on that Five Finger Death Punch tour, and now they’re doing a bunch of other big stuff. They’ve done a phenomenal
stronger than ever. “It’s interesting because in all the pessimism and dark talk, the last four or five years have been some of
job in [the social media] department.”
the best years we’ve ever had,” he says. “So while CDs are down overall, they’re not down for us as much as you would think. And of course I have to thank the metal kids for that. They understand that they have to support this music.” In the following pages Brian Slagel discusses three recent Metal Blade signees and why the label got involved with them. metalbladerecords.com
GYPSYHAWK Origin: Pasadena, California
Style: Traditional heavy metal “They’re a local band, which is something we rarely find these days. Thin Lizzy is one of my all-time favorite bands, and when I first heard Gypsyhawk, they had a real Thin Lizzy vibe, with the dual guitar harmonies and stuff. There seems to be a whole scene now that goes back to the late 1970s/early 1980s metal/rock kind of thing, which I’m personally a huge fan of. We heard Gypsyhawk’s first record and thought it was really good. Then we heard some demos of stuff they were working on and we thought they were doing something pretty special, so we decided to work with them. They’re a great live band, and they have the right attitude. They’re out working really hard, and that’s what you need these days. You can make a great record, which is the most important part, but you also gotta go out and make things happen. They’re doing that.”
PILGRIM Origin: Rhode Island Style: Doom
“The lead singer of this band we have called Primordial is named Alan [Averill], and we have kind of an A&R thing going with him. He’s over in Europe and there’s so many good bands coming out of Europe these days, so he helps us find bands. But what’s funny is that he actually found Pilgrim in the US. They were really underground—I think he actually sent us a cassette that they had done—and they play this kind of doomy stoner rock. They’re hugely influenced by that late 1970s/early 1980s metal stuff—it really comes through in some of the riffs. They’re so good, and the whole staff was really into it. We initially put it out through Alan’s label [Poison Tongue], but we’re working on having them graduate to Metal Blade proper.”
We asked some of the artists that Scion works with to tell us the best decision and worst mistake they made early in their careers. Here’s what they came back with. STATIC REVENGER My Best Decision
To get out of the culture of major label deals. I had been making a good living being a major label artist, but I wasn’t making a good career. The music wasn’t getting released and I didn’t own the rights. It was a deliberate decision on my part to no longer be signed to a major label, so nine years ago I became an electronic artist named Static Revenger who made his own music and owned all the rights.
My Worst Mistake
The Gates of Slumber.
The worst mistake was something that I actually had no control over. It happened 12 years ago. It was my first record deal and I did what I thought was the right thing and hired a fancy lawyer to make sure the deal was done right. Then the following year I signed to a major label. There was one word that was supposed to be in the contract that my lawyer had accidentally forgotten—the word “not” was supposed to be in a clause, but it wasn’t. That mistake cost me $200,000. I never really understood the lesson in that. I guess I should haven taken the time to empower myself to know exactly what every part of what I was signing meant. After that mistake, what I should have done was sue the lawyer, but I wasn’t savvy enough to do that. Needless to say I didn’t work with him again. staticrevenger.com
KARL SIMON OF THE GATES OF SLUMBER My Best Decision
Early on I decided to invest in decent equipment. When you get to a more pro level, everybody has it, but there’s a reason everybody has it. When you get to the level of touring and releasing albums, you don’t really see a lot of people on beater gear. People play vintage stuff, which is ridiculously expensive, but you don’t see people on bad gear because it doesn’t
Hear Static Revenger’s Music in Motion, his free EP on Scion AV, scionav.com/staticrevenger
sound good. It doesn’t have to be a $6000 guitar, but it has to be quality equipment. If you’re a local band or doing covers in bars, it’s fine, but when you start putting it under the microscope of recording, it just doesn’t stand up. It’s not bad equipment, it’s just cheap. A carpenter doesn’t use the tools you’d find at a drug store. He doesn’t have a $4 hammer, he has a $50 to $60 fine finishing hammer because he uses it every day because he wants quality results.
My Worst Mistake
Not advancing shows on tour. Advancing means calling the promoter to reconfirm everything that’s already contracted. If you’re doing ten shows, you need to make ten phone calls two weeks out. Keep calling until you get an actual person on the phone. Let them know you’re coming. Let them know you really meant that you wanted food. Run over the technical specs and run over that rider. Otherwise you might find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a promoter hardly honoring anything they promised you. I hate to attack promoters, but there are some people out there who I don’t understand how they stay in business. When we first started, I figured that if I had it written on a contract and they signed it, then all of sudden, that was what was going to happen. I don’t know if that was a mistake or if it was just ignorance, but if someone says to advance the show and you don’t do it, that’s a big mistake. If you’re doing a self-booked thing playing a bunch of basement shows, you probably are going to have a great time, but that has a whole different ethos than working with a promoter who is expecting to make some sort of profit. slumberingsouls.com Hear The Gates of Slumber’s Stormcrow, the band’s free EP on Scion AV, scionav.com/gatesofslumber Static Revenger.
a tour through the modern rock poster art of a new classic.
As told to J. Bennett
Born and raised in Houston and Austin, Texas, Jermaine Rogers has produced iconic rock posters for about two decades. He’s done work for everyone from the Foo Fighters and Tool to Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. He also creates beautiful and bizarre portraits of his artistic heroes Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh. “It really started when I was in high school in Houston in the late 1980s,” he says. “I had friends that were in little bands, and I’d do flyers for their shows. At some point, I was in a record store and I ran across a Frank Kozik flyer, and it just blew me away. It was kinda like what I was doing, but for real, you know? It wasn’t for my friend’s garage band. It was some dude doing the same style of stuff but for
"FRIDA Y VICENTE" - 2013
the Flaming Lips and the Melvins.” Within a few years, Rogers quit his job at Houston’s Museum of Natural Science to start making art fulltime. “I sold my brand new car and moved into a little studio apartment,” he recalls. “It was a total starving artist kind of life for three or four
Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh are two of my heroes. They have obvious similarities in their maverick approach to art.
years. I started doing stuff for new bands like Built To Spill, the Deftones and Radiohead—all bands that were pretty small
Frida got a little more visibility during her lifetime, but originally she was just Diego Rivera’s wife. Both her and Van Gogh
at the time. But as that music started to grow, my art came along with it.”
used the self-portrait better than any other artist, if you ask me. They used self-portraiture to document climactic events in their lives. In Van Gogh’s self-portraits, he’s hiding from you—you can see it in his eyes. But in Frida’s, she’s exposing
Rogers will have a solo exhibit at the Scion AV Installation space in Los Angeles from April 13 to May 4, 2013. Here he
herself to you. I figured if they ever did meet, it might be like this. Right after the incident where he cuts his ear off, he
discusses some choice pieces from the span of his career.
goes to see Frida. And of course she would be there to comfort him, probably without a word. No romantic stuff, none of that. But she understands. I wanted to depict her protection of him. If you look at it, her arm comes between you and him.
You’re not getting close to him.
"TOOL / MELVINS" - 1998
"NEIL YOUNG" - 2003
By this time, I had a little bit of a following but it was kind of a scattered cult following. This Tool poster was a perfect storm
“I had done a poster for Neil before that was really more atmospheric. When this one came up, I wanted to attempt to make
for me. I’m thankful to whatever made the image come out of me that way, because I think the image was iconic. As far as
the Neil Young poster. By this time, I’d been working for about ten years, and I had a following. When you get to that point
the color theory, this is when I kind of started to develop my own palette. But all that’s the minor stuff. The major thing
in rock poster art, you can’t slack. With every poster, people are expecting the next level. And that was really depressing
is that this came out right when Tool became this really powerful thing in music. When you’re doing rock posters, it’s not
because I couldn’t come up with any ideas for a long time. So I just drew him holding up the peace sign. And then it hit me:
all about the art, it’s about the band. If that same image had been used for a smaller band, the poster wouldn’t be as well
I could make it cross generational boundaries if I could make it psychedelic. For me personally, the biggest thing that came
known. Then there was an interview done in Circus magazine, I think, where one of the guys in Tool said that the poster
out of this poster is that I got a compliment from Wes Wilson. You could argue that he really perfected the psychedelic text
was a "quintessential Tool poster." That helped.
in the 1960s with his Fillmore posters. So when I got an email from him, it was a big deal for me.”
"MUDHONEY" - 1997
"FOO FIGHTERS" - 2008
I was living in Seattle at the time, about a block from the Crocodile Café. I worked out a deal with one of the dudes there
I actually started using this bunny in my art around the late ’90s because my wife and I had a bunny. It was a lop-eared
where I would do flyers for some of the shows in exchange for meal vouchers. I loved Mudhoney, and I’m also kind of a
bunny, so that bunny is him. I was doing posters for a Foo Fighters tour, and the idea was to do the bunny as the star of
Lennon and McCartney freak—I’m just fascinated by the whole cult of personality that surrounded the Beatles, because
legendary rock & roll album covers. For the Austin City Limits show that Foo Fighters did, it was a rip-off of the Clash’s
that was the first time in the history of popular music where every member of the band was a star. So I had this idea to draw
London Calling album—it’s the bunny smashing a guitar. This one was of course a rip-off of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane
the Beatles as a grunge band. At that point, I needed every dollar I could get just to pay the rent, so I’d sell off the originals,
album cover. I also released this as an art print, and I decided to call it "A Lep Insane," because the scientific genus for a
but I actually got this piece back about five years ago. The guy who had it emailed me and we worked out a trade for some
rabbit is Lepus, and Bowie’s title was a play on words—‘a lad insane.’ Bowie looks very stoic on that album cover. His eyes
Radiohead prints that he wanted.
are closed, and I tried to depict that same emotion in the bunny. People seem to love this image. It’s probably one of the best-known things I’ve done.
How was it being on Kathy Griffin’s show?
It was fun. You look at her on camera and you know that she must be goofy all day. But to actually meet her in person and realize that she’s definitely really goofy on and off camera is just terrific. And she’s sexy, too. I think Kathy Griffin’s sexy.
I heard you were at a fashion show and you walked the runway. Tell me about that.
Hood By Air is one of my favorite brands. I’ve been supporting [them] since 2008. Shayne [Oliver], the designer, he kinda took
HARLEM'S NEW HERO GIVES PRACTICAL ADVICE ON EVERYTHING FROM WALKING THE RUNWAY TO SHARING A STAGE. Interview by Mr. Dead / Photography by Phil Knott New York’s young fresh prince A$AP Rocky has differentiated from other rappers with his unexpected taste in both music and fashion. And his individuality has paid off: His major label debut Long Live A$AP was one of the most anticipated releases
of 2013 and he has found himself covered in increasingly high profile style outlets. Rocky recently sat down for some pizza and an interview with Mr. Dead for Scion AV’s All Purpose Show web video series. Here’s a preview of their conversation.
some time off—his boy [that he did the line with] split to do his own thing and get inspired again. I just used to hit [Shayne] and tell him, “Yo, you gotta get back to it, you’re better than a lot of these brands out here.” And I was so supportive of his brand that he asked me to do the honors and walk it.
How easy was it? Very easy.
Do you see yourself doing that again?
Nah man, I ain’t no fashion model. And besides, I ain’t tall enough anyway.
A lot of MCs don’t care about how they look, but I noticed that you give it a lot of consideration. Give me a little insight into your fashion sense of consciousness. I don’t really direct all my energy into it. I just got a lot of taste, and I showcase it with my fashion.
Older MCs have been coming at you sideways in terms of your executive decisions in hip-hop. How do you feel about it?
I don’t care what anybody else has got to say. I do what I want. That’s it. Not to play the tough guy role, but if anybody’s got a problem with it, see me when they see me how they see me. Other than that, why should their concern be what I choose to do with my craft or my art?
Who have been your inspirations to motivate you and inspire you to get to where you are now?
I come up off everything, everybody who did it before me. The other day I was listening to a lot of Kool G. Rap, before that I was listening to a lot of Three 6 Mafia. A couple of weeks ago I remember playing a lot of old school stuff, rhythm and blues, stuff like that.
Right, you got a quirky taste for music. You’re sort of a weirdo, as am I.
My mood changes and I can adapt and appreciate different types of music. I mean, that’s what it’s there for.
People automatically associate the fact that because you do hip-hop, that’s all you listen to.
Nah. I mean, as far as rock goes, like Nine Inch Nails, I could probably tell you about one or two songs that I really, really love, and I might know a little bit about other stuff, but I can’t name all of their albums. People are scared to say that they listen to certain things or like certain songs because they don’t want to be labeled as a poser.
Usually when you do your show, you have a lot of people on stage. Give us a little insight into that.
I try to know everybody that’s on stage. You don’t wanna be spittin’ and somebody that’s not with you goes and jumps into the crowd and hurts somebody and then you get blamed for it. We don’t let strangers onstage, you can never be too careful. It’s just us.
I’d like for you to break down the difference between a well-dressed man and a not well-dressed man. It’s self-explanatory. I don’t know, I’m not a stylist. I know what looks good on me.
What the difference between a dude looking good and a dude not looking good, thinking he’s looking good? That’s most of the rappers in the game right now.
Before you got into the rap game, did you always have this sense of style and swag, or were you one of the less fortunate dressers? I’ve always been jiggy. I came out my grandma jiggy.
Break down the cozy boy movement.
The only way you can be a cozy boy is if you’re very, very, very cozy. You gotta have some cozy boy slippers, some very rare cozy boy velour sweatsuits, some very rare A$AP Yams cozy boy headbands, an R. Kelly T-shirt... Last but not least, the only way you can be an official cozy boy is if you have a cozy boy robe. asapmob.com
Mr. Dead is the Co-Host of Scion AV’s All Purpose Show, hosted by Prince Paul, on scionav.com
TELLING THE STORY OF A GROWING STREETWEAR BRAND.
Story by Evan Shamoon
Streetwear brand Black Scale is the brainchild of founders Michael “Mega” Yabut and Alfred De Tagle. When they started their company in 2008 they had a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish. “We wanted to do a brand that not only represented our style of fashion, but also [one] that represented the way we think,” says Yabut. “We don’t believe in the obvious or being predictable; as we learn and grow, we want our collections to grow with us.” In its five years of existence, Black Scale has opened stores in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, as well as a Los Angeles warehouse for wholesale distribution. “The approach for all of this has been timing,” says Yabut. “We try to let these opportunities grow organically. This does not mean sitting back and waiting for things to happen—we have had to be aggressive with these opportunities in order for us to grow.” The company started with streetwear fundamentals of T-shirts and hats, but has since branched out into outerwear and accessories. Over the last five years Black Scale has also released collaborations with artists including Jun Cha, other brands like Amongst Friends, as well as a recent, high-profile collections with A$AP Rocky and Fool’s Gold. “Black Scale comes from us learning to balance our darker side,” Yabut says of the brand’s name. He explains that the word “black” conjures images of the mysterious, providing a sense of potential and possibility, while “scale” helps regulate and set the brand’s way of thinking. “Balance is key to our aesthetic. Without balance, our vision is irrelevant and meaningless.” As the business continues to grow and new opportunities reveal themselves, Yabut remains aware of the challenges, not just externally but internally as well. “The toughest part about running Black Scale has to be the hiring process of the company,” he says. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a solid team, but with the growth the team will have to get larger. You need strong people to work with each other and trust each other.” Yabut says that the ultimate goal for Black Scale is to evoke emotions, and to create topics of discussion through its designs. Asked to pick a favorite moment from his five years developing the brand, he points to the building of the brick and mortar spaces, which enable this form of dialogue. As he says, “We can tell the complete story of Black Scale with our stores.” black-scale.com
Black Scale is part of the Scion Partners program, scionav.com/partners
A look behind the rise of hip-hop's newest high flyer.
Trinidad James rose out of Atlanta's ultra-competitive hip-hop scene semmingly out of nowhere. He signed with industry powerhouse Def Jam on the strength of his Don’t Be S.A.F.E. mixtape and his “All Gold Everything” single. Now the rap world is waiting to find out what the unpredictable MC will do next. James recently sat down for an interview with legendary
Interview by Prince Paul / Photography by Gavin Guidry
producer Prince Paul for Scion AV’s All Purpose Show. Here’s a preview of their conversation.
You got it together quickly in terms of the way your deal came about. You’re making moves.
Life’s moved really fast for the last six months. Putting together my tape, putting out my tape, and then where I’m at right now as we speak, it doesn’t happen like that very often.
I listened to the new mix CD. “Gold on My MacBook,” I love that song.
My music, man, to be honest with you, is real life. It’s reality, it’s my life. And when I hear a beat, the way that I lay down the music to it changes every time, that’s why every song on the tape is different. I feel like I’m cool with everybody. I’ve never been a racist person, as far as I have friends from every different race. So I had to make music that could catch a little bit of everybody. [With] my complete project, not every song on there is for everybody, but every song on there is for somebody.
How did you learn to record like that? The voices, the adlibs, the hooks—to me, that’s something that’s usually a craft that takes awhile. You kinda got it down on the f irst go-around. To be honest with you, it just takes practice and understanding music. I love music, period. Hip-hop, all genres, and I listen
to a lot of music. Anybody can do music—people do karaoke all the time, and they do great impersonations of people. All you have to do to be your own artist is figure out how to do your own thing. Somebody has to do a karaoke of you. I found an original way to be myself and it really worked out.
Who inspired you? Was there a specif ic type of music you grew up listening to?
I’m really weird when it comes to music. I went through a lot of different phases with music. I used to be really big on up north rap. It originally started off with me liking your down south rappers like Goodie Mob, but I remember distinctly loving up north rap. I deal with genres, that’s what I listen to. I never really got caught up with artists. There are artists that I like, but I feel like everybody brought something to the game that I liked. I’ve always been the one to like that person for that—whether it’s their voice, their lyrical pattern, whether it’s how good they dress and they can’t rap.
People always talk about your style, your fashion sense. Is that something that was always in you to be that way? I started off as one of those kids who definitely was not a good dresser, definitely did not have any good shoes or none of that stuff growing up. So when I got a chance to make my own money, I said I’m never not gonna be fresh ever again.
What was your f irst job?
Landscaping in Atlanta. Cleaning, cutting grass on the side of the highways and stuff.
I would have never thought that of Trinidad James.
People build you up. How big of an artist that you are is not on you, it’s on the people that listen to your music. And they build you up so high that for you as an artist, you’re scared to fall because you’re so high. And for them, they want to knock you down. I’m a regular person that does good music, in my opinion.
I’m a bit older than you. For people in my generation, it was about the album, front to back, and you caught the whole vibe of the artist. Do think nowadays, because of iTunes and the way kids are geared, it’s flip-flip-flip? That’s why you’ve got more girlfriends than wives now. Back in the day, people went back through the steps to get married. These days you have 30 girlfriends. Times are changing. We found a way to skip steps, and we skipped them.
Where do you see yourself in f ive years?
In five years I’d like to see myself musically respected, and have two businesses that have nothing to do with music. [One would] definitely be my own clothing boutique, and I was thinking about a hotel—not in the States, but in the Caribbean. I was born in Trinidad. It’s a very great place to vacation.
You and me are gonna get a company together and rule the world.
There’s no limits on life. You can do whatever you want to do. A lot of times we hold ourselves back and it’s nobody else’s fault but the man in the mirror. trinidadjamesgg.com
Check out The Scion AV All Purpose Show, hosted by Prince Paul, on scionav.com
Bonded by Blood at Earache’s Scion Label Showcase in Pomona.
Oceano at Earache’s Scion Label Showcase in Pomona.
Vektor at Earache’s Scion Label Showcase in Pomona.
Trinidad James at Scion AV Presents: Open Mic in Brooklyn.
Bodegan Bamz at Scion AV Presents: Open Mic in Brooklyn.
Sage Vaughn at the opening for his “Life” exhibit at the Scion AV Installation space in Los Angeles.
Antwon at Scion AV Presents: Open Mic in Brooklyn.
Guests at the “Life” opening at the Scion AV Installation space in Los Angeles.
Guests at the “Life” opening at the Scion AV Installation space in Los Angeles.
Kenton Parker and Mr. Brainwash at the “Life” opening at the Scion AV Installation space in Los Angeles.
A$AP Ferg at Scion AV Presents: Open Mic in Brooklyn.
"from the cradle to the grave" exhibit by ssur
ARTWORK & LIMITED PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE. Scion AV HaS CREATED a hybrid space that fosters individuality and allows it to grow. We promote independent artists by showcasing their creative vision in a retail setting. 100% of artwork and product sales go back to the artist or to a charity of their choice. SCIONAV.COM/INSTALLATION