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Examining Black/White racial constructs through art and inquiry OCTOBER 5 – JANUARY 5 Broad + Belvidere icavcu.org 2

RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


driveshack.com

No one ever talks about the night they stayed in.

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The smartest place to stay in RVA Loaded Graduate Richmond mingles Southern prep Loadedwith withlocal localcharm, charm, Graduate Richmond mingles Southern minimalism. prepwith withmidcentury mid-century minimalism. Grab quickbite biteat atBrookfield Brookfield or our Grab a aquick or take takeininthe theviews viewsfrom from our rooftop perch, perch, Byrd rooftop Byrd House. House.

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WE ARE ALL GIANTS RVA #38 FALL 2019 RVA MAGAZINE EST. 2005 RVAMAG.COM

FOUNDERS R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker PUBLISHER Inkwell MANAGING PARTNER LANDON SHRODER PRESIDENT John Reinhold WEB EDITOR-in-chief, Marilyn Drew Necci WEB EDITOR, DIRECTOR OF MEDIA Caley sturgill SALES DIREctoR JUstin mcclung DESIGN @splld_mlk WRITERS Marilyn Drew Necci, S. Preston Duncan, Caley Sturgill, Rob Skotis, Reggie Pace, Hip Hop HenrY & Jimmy O'Keefe PHOTOGRAPHY BRADEN WILSON, joey wharton, heaton johnson, lauren serpa, nick hancock, BANDOLERO & KLASHEEE INTERNS Adrian Teran-Tapia, Arianna Coghill, Brea Hill, Christopher Brown, Ethan Malamud Jonah Schuart, Julia Raimondi, Noelle Abrahams, Norrin Nicholas &Owen Fitzgerald

Thank you to our distribution partnerS! Broad Street Arts District

Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle, Velocity Comics, max's on broad, Utmost, Round Two, Steady Sounds/ Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee, Quirk Hotel, rider boots, The Graduate hotel, ICA

Carytown

Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Chop Suey Books, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Thompsons, Need Supply Co., burger bach, mellow mushroom, World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Venue Skateboards

Downtown & Church Hill

Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company, Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, kabana rooftop, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Union Market, the nile ethiopian restaurant

GENERAL, EDITORIAL & DISTRIBUTION hello@rvamag.com

MANCHESTER

ADVERTISING JOHN REINHOLD 276 732 3410 // john@rvamag.com

Museum District / devil's triangle

SUBMISSION POLICY RVA Magazine welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to hello@rvamag.com All submissions become property of Inkwell Ventures Inc. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Ventures Inc. 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 entirety anytime at rvamag.com/ magazine. SOCIAL @RVAmag SUBSCRIPTION Log onto rvamag.com/magazine to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. 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.

Plant zero cafe, Manchester Market, moto richmond, legend brewing company

VMFA, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge, The Franklin Inn, sheppard street tavern, Patterson Express

NORTHSIDE

The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee, blackhand coffee

Scott’s Addition

The Broadberry, En Su Boca, Buz & Ned’s BBQ, sabai, The Jungle Room, Lunch Supper, Ardent ales, Hardywood craft brewery, The Veil, fat dragon, boulevard burger & brews, BINGO, Dont look back

The Fan

Beauvine burger concept, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Commercial taphouse, Deep Grooves, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, Lamplighter, Helen’s, Metro Grill, pik nik, cary street cafe

VCU Area

ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors boutique, my noodle bar, The Camel,

WEST END

Mekong, Taboo, The Answer brewpub, Diamonds Direct, Guitar Center

RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics cover by HEATON JOHNSON SPECIAL THANKS to Artifex M. Hunter Hagland

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THank YOU To OUR SPONSORS OUR MUSIC COVERAGE IS SPONSORED BY THE GRADUATE HOTEL RICHMOND OUR ART COVERAGE IS SPONSORED BY INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART

TIFFANIE BROOKE

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@_BADDIEBROOKE_

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IRON REAGAN, NICKELUS F & SLUMP AT FUZZY CACTUS BY NICK HANCOCK ANGELICA GARCIA WITH PIRANHA RAMA AT GALLERY 5 BY LAUREN SERPA

DONT SLEEP For some, RICHMOND NEVER SLEEPS. Follow us @RVAmag

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THE BIG PAYBACK AT THE BROADBERRY BY @SPLLD_MLK

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RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


KARAOKE AT MOM'S SIAM BY @SPLLD_MLK

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TOP: PALM PALM AT RIVER CITY ROLL BY JOEY WHARTON MIDDLE:FLEXTOPIA AT WONDERLAND BY @SPLLD_MLK BOTTOM: ILLITERATE LIGHT TOUR BY JOEY WHARTON

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TODD HALE

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@FLAVORHEAD

RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


HUMBLE @HMBL_

KEVIN JOHNSON

14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

@CASUAL_THINKER

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1) The Brunch Market @thebrunchmarket 2) Helen's@helensrva 3) Zorch Pizza @zorchpizza 4) Sticky Rice @stickyricerva

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1) Fuzzy Cactus @fuzzycactusrva 2) Pops On Grace @popsongrace 3) Sheppard Street Tavern @sheppardstreettavern

1) New York Deli @nyd_rva 2) Foo Dog @foodogrva 3) Don't Look Back @dontlookback.co 4) Drive Shack Richmond @driveshack RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


1) Beauvine Burger Concept @beauvineburger 2) Fighting Fish @fightingfishrva 3) The Camel @thecamelrva 4) Cobra Cabana @thecobracabanarva

14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

1) Yellow Umbrella @yellow_umbrella_provisions 2) Temple @templerva 3) Ellwood Thompsons @ellwoodsrva 4) Soul Taco @soultacorva

1) Izzy's Kitchen @izzyskitchenrva 2) Tiny Victory @tinyvictoryrva 3) Kreggers @kreggershandrva 4) En Su Boca @ensuboca_taqueria

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RVA ON TAP NEW BREWS IN TOWN

Welcome back, beer family! Diving into Richmond’s fall Booze News, we’re catching up with breweries old and new in town, and excitedly starting the season -- from events to fresh beer releases, new locations for our local favorites, and all the boozy happenings you’ll need to celebrate the best time of the year. Jumping in, a long-awaited Virginia brewery opening in Richmond is set to happen this November. Starr Hill Brewery is opening their brand-new rooftop bar over in Scott’s Addition, and Richmond’s booziest neighborhood got an awesome addition with this one. Starr Hill started back in 1999 in a Charlottesville music hall, and the River City is lucky that these guys decided to make us their next new home. Their founder first took steps on his craft beer journey in Colorado, going on to open shop in Central Virginia making stellar brews: like their flagship Northern Lights IPA in addition to my personal favorite, the Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale that was hopped with real maple syrup for a smooth, vanilla-flavored brew. Other seasonal favorites you can catch at Starr Hill this fall are the Wild Heart Hoppy Blonde, Looking Glass IPA, and Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager.

FRESH ON TAP

The best part of Booze News is the one that always keeps our glasses full: The beer. In the spirit of the season and all the great things that fall brings, we’ll kick off our new brews with Three Notch’d RVA Collab House’s recent release of a PumpkinSpiced Latte beer, so white girls like myself and everyone else, go get your favorite drinks without shame! Our buds at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery are brewing up something special this season as well. After Oktoberfest 20 20

BY CALEY STURGILL

kicked off the beginning of October, Hardywood released 400 Years In The Making, a homage to America’s first beer, at their Ownby location that was made with yeast harvested at Jamestown in the 1600s style. Later in the month, Trickery debuted with all the Halloween-themed goodness you’ve been waiting for… and if you’re excited for the tastes of November, their famous Gingerbread Stout (GBS) is finally returned fully on November 2, with delicious variations leading us through the season and pre-releases until winter. More special beer releases came with our local favorites like Final Gravity Brewing Co. and Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, like Lickinghole Creek’s Vanilla Virginia Black Bear, Challenge The Bear Peanut Butter Porter, and Barrel Aged German Chocolate Cake. I’ve been waiting patiently for a full year to see the return of the Big Lebowski-inspired El Duderino to Center of the Universe Brewing, and an Imperial Maple Brown Ale (my favorite!) is also on its way to Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, Dark Ages, and the For Love And Honor Saison with orange and cardamom flavors will debut as well. Guns N’ Rose is coming to the taps at Garden Grove Brewing, a Dry Rosé made with only beer ingredients and fermented in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Three Notch’d RVA Collab House has a lot of great brews and collabs on the way this season, from their Taking Back Sunday Blueberry Imperial Sour to their Black Heath Meadery Braggot collab, and a New Lions Blonde Stout -- plus a very special Richmond-inspired Team Tommie Hazelnut Brown Ale to honor our love for Tommie the dog. Black Heath Meadery is bringing back a beloved brew of mine, too: Farmer’s Friend, a fall homage to their wonderful partners producing blueberries, blackberries, and

raspberries. Fine Creek Brewing will be releasing a whole bar’s worth of new brews this fall, with special seasonals like Grisette Pêche, a tart Grisette brewed with peaches from Owl Orchard Farms, plus an Elysium Honey Co. collab Brown Ale w. Chestnut Honey, a kickass Oktoberfest brew, and a Barleywine that was aged in Reservoir Whiskey barrels which previously held Virginia maple syrup. Can we say yum? We’ve also got some great new releases coming from Väsen Brewing Company, like the new Kveik Double & Triple IPAs and Everything Floats on Jelly -- and Ardent Craft Ales is bringing new releases with their bold, rich, roasted-chocolatey Imperial Milk Stout. In a special tribute, The Answer Brewpub introduced a brew that brings the tastes of the season together with the love of the community. “Diablo Forever” is the phrase of this year, and Quy Forever was made from the bottom of their hearts to honor the memory of Quy Pham -- a beloved member of The Answer’s family, and dear friend to many folks in town. The Answer created Quy Forever as an Imperial Stout with notes of cinnamon, maple, vanilla beans, and hazelnut coffee, and used the proceeds from this memorial beer in addition to events and fundraisers to benefit Quy’s family. For a bigger picture, head to The Answer to see Quy memorialized in a mural along its main wall, and show some love to his beer family this fall. As always, make sure to check RVA On Tap on our site every week, and read the column directly from our Instagram stories and Facebook posts (@rvamag) to keep upto-date on events and releases happening each week. With more than 30 breweries in the area, we’ll go through the best of the best every Wednesday morning to make sure you don’t miss a drop. Cheers! RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019 RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


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P L AY L I S T TRACKS WORTH CHECKING OUT

BEABADOOBEE, “SHE PLAYS BASS”

SPACE CADET (DIRTY HIT) This London singer-songwriter came out of nowhere last year with a viral Soundcloud hit. Now she’s signed to the same label as The 1975 and she’s still only 19. The lead single from Beabadoobee’s third EP finds her fleshing out her sound from the skeletal indie-pop minimalism of her early work and coming up with an adorably catchy alt-rock anthem about her friendship with her bass player -- who, judging by the evidence of this single, really is quite talented. -- Marilyn Drew Necci

JOE PUG, “EXITS”

THE FLOOD OF COLOR (NATION OF HEAT) Joe Pug is known for the kind of explosive folk distillations of the American zeitgeist that burned Bob Dylan into our cultural consciousness. But where once he channeled vigorous, near-biblical orations on human calamity and purpose, his new album, The Flood in Color, moves like a series of meditative, preapocalyptic vignettes. These are not sharp-tongued indictments from a wonderstruck troubadour who has found his country sleeping along strange highways. These are songs of weary rest-stop coffee and storm shelters. Opening track “Exits” is both invitation and caution to those who might be inclined to sit at that aging, dreamless table. -- S. Preston Duncan

Y2K & BBNO$, “LALALA”

(COLUMBIA) Sometimes you just want candy, and in a world taking everything too seriously, is it okay for me to tune out? Give me something that just makes me laugh a little. If you are feeling my feels, and you like your hip hop to get the party hopping, "Lalala" is for you. The Canadian team of producer Y2K and rapper bbno$ have collaborated on several tracks, but this might be the best blend of their talents -- the outlandish brags and catchy fun hooks have crossed over to sing-song, and a Latin-tinged groove gives a bit of sunshine. It's definitely worth a listen. -- @splld_mlk

CRUMB, “GHOSTRIDE’

JINX (WWW.CRUMBTHEBAND.COM) Bands that sound like old souls appeal to me. When they are young and have some deeper insight on what everyone else is trying to figure out, it's even better. I gave Crumb a listen, and I’ve been listening almost every day -- and with more than 11 million listens on Spotify, it means I am not the only one. "Ghostride," on the surface, is easy and breezy with touch of soulful-psychedelic, but listen again, and it is a deeply-layered song of anxiety and longing in the face of someone the singer loves leaving them. If you are a human being, you probably know how that feels, and can appreciate the angst while trying to be cool about it all. -- @splld_mlk

SKYZOO & PETE ROCK, "THE AUDACITY OF DOPE"

RETROPOLITAN (MELLO MUSIC GROUP) Every few years, rap music -- not to be confused with hip hop culture -- goes through changes sonically. The past few years have seen the rise of the melodic rapper over less-sampled music. Skyzoo connects with the legendary Pete Rock to deliver the complete opposite, and this track, “The Audacity of Dope,” blatantly harkens back to a time when NYC wasn’t in the trap. Along with Pete’s signature boom bap, Skyzoo proclaims to remind us what rap music used to be, and boy does it sound fresh. -- Hip Hop Henry

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14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE PARK 2005-2019 HARDYWOOD CRAF T BREWERY • RICHMOND, VIRGINIA • HARDYWOOD.COM 25 VIRGINIA OWNED, GROWN, AND BREWED


RECORD REVIEWS BY HIP HOP HENRY (HH) & MARILYN DREW NECCI (MN)

.GIF FROM GOD

APPROXIMATION OF A HUMAN (PROSTHETIC RECORDS)

GRAVEBOUND PHOBIA (SELF-RELEASED)

Once a taboo influence, there's a new generation of young metalheads who are unashamed of loving nu-metal; more power to 'em. On their debut EP, Gravebound wear their Slipknot and Killswitch Engage influences on their sleeve, and display a talent for brutal breakdowns and memorable choruses, assembled in a manner that is Korn-y without being corny. (MN)

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The metallic screamo scene has taken a big step out of the underground and into more widespread visibility over the past year or two, and as a hotbed of that sound, it's about time that one of our own made the leap. And of course, this city could have no better standard-bearer for its thriving underground screamo scene than .gif From God. Their first full-length release finds them building on the chaotic elements that made their early work unpredictable and fascinating, while benefiting from a clearer, more powerful production that lays bare the complex intricacies of their dueling guitar leads. Of course, the maniacal intensity of the harsh dueling vocalists is also a major attentiongrabber, and their tendency toward that low growl/high scream contrast we all used to call "gorilla-chicken vocals" back in the day is reminiscent of heavy-as-fuck European metallic hardcore pioneers like Systral and Morser. And then there are the breakdowns, which are positively neck-breaking in intensity and are sure to draw in anyone frightened by the chaotic tech-grind noise that marks the band's most frenetic moments. Thankfully, they never become predictable or boring. As with all the best albums, Approximation of a Human continues to offer new elements to appreciate even after multiple listens. Rock with it. --Marilyn Drew Necci

ENFORCED

AT THE WALLS (WAR RECORDS)

If you're looking for the second coming of 80s crossover thrash, Richmond gives you plenty to be stoked about, from obvious cornerstones like Municipal Waste to underground heroes like Left Cross. Enforced have joined this city's storied legacy of raging thrash power with an incredibly strong and scarily dark debut LP that's sure to bring massive headbangs. Raise your fist. (MN)

GREBES

JRDARAPPR

(GREBESMUSIC.BANDCAMP.COM)

(POVERTY LLC)

HOUSE CREATURE

Debut solo effort from former Natalie Prass sideman Jacob Ungerleider, whose confident grasp on the soulful R&B/indie sound that is Prass's stock-in-trade carries over in a big way on House Creature. These slinky tunes set the stage for an intimate evening, mixing smooth 80s-synth soul with Bee Gees-style harmony-vocal ecstasy. Turn the lights down low. (MN)

96 DEGREES

New street heat from the Northside’s own Jrdarappr, as he gives you 96 Degrees, an EP that should put his name in more conversations about RVA up-and-comers. With heavy 808s and hard beats, JR blends songs about street life with superb lyricism to prove that he’s capable of being a producer as well as an emcee. (HH)

RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


STUDIO NEWSRVA

MAJJIN BOO GO BETWEEN

(EGGHUNT RECORDS)

This sextet fulfills years of potential with this outstanding debut LP. While the complex, tangled lead guitars make the first impression on Go Between, what really shines in repeated listens is this band's amazing ability to craft indelible melodies and build them into anthems with a ton of staying power. You'll be humming these all month -- and you'll be glad. (MN)

SWORDPLAY

RAH SCRILLA & FAN RAN PYREX DON GRITTY CITY

More grit from the Gritty City labelmates. Production handled by the always-consistent Fan Ran while Rah Scrilla handles mic duties to produce a 4th quarter standout for RVA. At the same time that the temperature drops, Pyrex Don gives you the cold/bundleup weather vibe for the new season. (HH)

Richmond black metal warriors Voarm are only weeks away from releasing their self-titled debut full-length on the river city's own Forcefield Records. It's likely to freak you out a little bit -- which is fine with drummer Andy Kohler. "We hope that everyone (except Nazis -- fuck them) enjoys this record and appreciates the time and effort that we put into it," he says. "We also hope it gives people the creeps." In order to capture their self-proclaimed creepy sound as accurately as possible, Voarm spent the end of September recording with Jay Matheson (who has recorded Kylesa and From Ashes Rise, among others) at Jam Room Studio in Columbia, SC. "We chose him because of his ability to track everything live, and his raw yet clear and precise sound," says Kohler. "Every track on the album was recorded live (vocals added later) and one of the tracks was recorded in one take." Expect the results to be harsh, immediate, and terrifying.

UNDER ATTACK

PAPERWORK

THROUGH THE BLADE

Swordplay lives in Cali and his label's in France, but he's still from Richmond, and his first LP in four years shows that he's still the same erudite, emotional emcee this city knows so well. The glitchier production elements on Paperwork are new, but that familiar acoustic flavor is still thankfully present. And of course, the rhymes are always fire. (MN)

It's always fun to hear hardcore veterans take it back to the old school, and there may be none more capable of doing exactly that at top-level quality than these members of Municipal Waste, Suppression, and Limp Wrist. Raw, ugly, angry 82-style USHC that's sure to please fans of Jerry's Kids, Failure Face, and the members' many previous projects. (MN)

(DORA DOROVITCH RECORDS)

14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

Positive No has been busy this summer, recording their third LP with DC post-hardcore legend J. Robbins at his Magpie Cage studio. "It is impossible to talk about recording with J without it sounding like an open love letter," says vocalist Tracy Wilson. "His experienced ears are so finely tuned, in that nothing slips by him; not out of sync timing, guitars with slightly off intonation, or a line sung without the perfect energy. Recording with J goes so far beyond just a guy recording a band; he is conductor, a distiller, and a conduit." The result of their collective efforts, a 9-song LP entitled Kyanite and tentatively scheduled for a Spring 2020 release, is what Wilson calls "our most polished and layered recording to date." At a time when the album format is being deemphasized in favor of stand-alone singles, Positive No have made a big commitment to the long-form collection of songs, constructing an album in which, according to Wilson, "each song is intended to flow into the next." "The cinematic camera focus pans outward slowly," she explains. "You start with a microscopic close up on an abandoned beer bottle carefully placed in an office park intersection and end among the heavens with eleven magnitude stars. Ashes to ashes, dust to space dust." With that kind of intro, how can we not be excited for this one?

(IRON LUNG RECORDS)

Guitarist Scott Burton has been involved with a ton of projects, but it's his solo work that tends to be the deepest and most intriguing. His latest album is no exception. Named The Boxer's Omen after the 1983 Hong Kong horror film, Burton considers the album to be "a sonic recreation of the film." It's also his tribute to the work of the Shaw Brothers. "In the 80’s, the Shaw Studios started putting lasers, gore, and puppet effects in their films in a way that some now look at as ‘so bad it’s good,’ but that I just consider good/great," Burton explains. For his Boxer's Omen album, he used modular synth and guitar to create musical pieces based on the film's key scenes, then improvised within the unique patches he'd created for each of them. "I found that giving myself over to the craziness really helped me develop approaches I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of," he says. "The whole album was recorded one track at a time -- out of order, to follow standard film practice -- and mixed and performed live, recording over two full days of inspiration and exploration." It was mastered by Al Jones at Laminal Audio, and Burton is currently seeking a label to release it. We recommend all you Hong Kong action film buffs that own independent 27 labels hit him up ASAP. --Marilyn Drew Necci


INSIDE FLEXICO. THE MIND. THE RISE. RVA MAGAZINE 37 | SUMMER 2019

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BY HIP HOP HENRY PHOTOS BY BANDOLERO & KLASHEEE RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


KEEPING HIS AUTHENTICITY OVER IMAGE, RICHMOND’S FLEXICO HAS WINDED THROUGH A CAREER OF VIDEO PRODUCTION, RAPPING, AND RECORDING BY STICKING TRUE TO HIMSELF IN HIS WORK. “I try to have fun with it. The point of this is to do this stuff, and we “My older brother rapped. I was doing videos for him and shit like don't want to work normal jobs and have to be serious all the time.”

that. That's when I first got my feet wet,” he said. “And then me and Segga (Spiccoli) became really good friends, and he rapped and all

That’s Young Flexico, a Richmond rapper, visual artist, and marketing that. I ain't have nothing to do ‘cause I wasn't rapping. I didn't really guru. “Not everything needs to be super serious. That's not the mood want to rap. I just started directing videos from there. I just looked at I'm in, really,” he said. “I'm not going to say I'm in a goofy mood all the a lot of YouTube videos and kept practicing at it, and then I just kept time, but I'm not in a serious mood all the time.”

sharpening my blade.”

For Flexico, it’s more about authenticity when it comes to subject Seeing those early Segga Spiccoli videos and other visual work for matter in music.

The Life Company, I assumed he went to school for this. But he chimed in quickly to set the record straight.

“I couldn't imagine making music that was just serious all the time. I mean, I can hit that pocket -- but I’ve got to be already there [men- “I didn't go to school for nothing I do,” he said. “I went to school. I tally]. But I don't really be living like that,” he said. “Like, you don't got a degree in business administration, a bachelor's degree. I startgo in the studio and just be serious, you know? It was hard for me to ed shooting videos. Like shooting good videos with Segga. The first rap about things I don't care about as much. I feel like some artists person I shot for AGM [Association of Great Minds] was Nickelus try to touch on topics because they're relevant, but some stuff isn't F, but that was like some recap shit. And I reached out to Mike after really relevant to them. I think it [doesn’t] connect with the listener he dropped Ghost of $20 Bills, and asked him to shoot a video off the because they can feel it's not real.”

joint. We never shot a video, [until] he was recording the Beautiful album. And then we just shot the whole film because that's when I

Flexico has made quite a splash since arriving on the scene in Rich- really started learning how to do shit. mond a couple of years ago. Originally from the Hampton Roads area, he moved to the River City as a teenager and has been a part of the “I didn't have the proper tools. Like a D3100, which is like a really hip-hop wave in the city for a while. He brought his talent for video beginner-DSLR. And I had this fucked up ass laptop and Adobe Preart to The Life Company (now Green and Gold Label) under the alias miere Elements -- I did all that on Adobe Premiere Elements and then “G” as their director. Then he transitioned from behind the camera to chopped it together, probably going too deep in detail,” he said. “So performing, taking on his current moniker. I was fortunate enough to basically I was with Mike probably for a year working on that, and catch up with him (after months of missed connections) at his house, just creating content for him. That was a good moment in my life. where we talked about promotion, the microwave minds of today’s And around that time, that's when I got my first MacBook. My girl society, and his plans for dropping new music.

had got it for me for Christmas, then I upgraded the camera, too. And then I just started on the first video I did with that. [It] was the ‘Laced

“I don't know. I was talking to a friend and he was telling me that I Weed’ video [for Nickelus F], and that's the video that people were should just push this for a while, but I'm always working on music, really liking a lot.” you know what I'm saying? Nothing will probably come out before the end of the year except for one or two random songs. But I'm working In his early career, Flexico’s self-taught director skills made his tranon another project. I'mma name my next project Tenacious -- that's sition to hip-hop almost effortless. Funding all of his own work, he’s what the title is right now, but it could change.”

grown from his humble beginnings with a never-wavering drive to believe in himself -- and the people around him as well. Segga Spiccoli

Before the surge of Flexico’s career, he started at the beginning as didn’t have a place to record at the early days, and Flexico bought his “G,” the video director. Reminiscing on his early days, he talked about own recording equipment. how that first life began. 14 YEARS YEARS OF OF RVA RVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 2005-2019 2005-2019 14

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GOT TO FLEX” “AT THE END OF THE DAY I 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

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“I believe in his talents so much that I bought

an artist have already earned legendary sta-

general -- not even just in Richmond -- just

all of the recording stuff, and then he wasn't

tus in the community.

don't think outside the box. They just con-

really using it,” Flex laughed. “I don't know

fine [themselves] to a certain space. And

why, but Mike taught me how to use it,

“I think that goes back to how I was raised.

that's why I try not confining myself, so peo-

equipment and everything. So one day I just

It's like your moms saying don't go out of the

ple don't put me in a box.

was like damn, I don't want this shit to go

house looking a certain way, it's the same

to waste. I had spent a lot of money on that

thing. Don't step into whatever you're doing

While discussing his marketing moves, Flex-

shit. He ain't even use it, I'm just going to use

without looking a certain way or creating a

ico touches on some of the missteps he sees

it myself.

certain experience for people. It's enter-

artists take, recalling the beginning of our

tainment. So we have to entertain listeners.

conversation about letting his album cook

“And that's how I started dabbling in music,

I'm calling myself Young Flexico, that mean

for awhile.

because I didn't want to waste my money.

I gotta flex, you know what I'm saying? I

It's not like you can return it,” he said. “It's

didn't give myself the name, Mike gave me

“The rollout part of it. I feel like artists don't

right there. I got the whole set up that Mike

the name. But at the end of the day, I got to

really… Alright, so you’re used to taking all

had, I could record Segga's vocals and then

flex.”

your time on this stuff. Hours after hours of

go to Mike's House and he could fix every-

recording music, mixing music, all that. You

thing -- same program, same interface,

When it came to living up to his newfound

do all that. You put all that time into it. Right?

same mic, same everything. I bought all the

rap alias, Flexico decided to flex that per-

To put it out and just promote it slightly,”

same shit that Mike has.”

sona where nobody would miss it.

he said. “So it's like, if I'm doing something and I'm putting a lot of my time into it, I'm

The first day he recorded, he recorded five

“So it was like, what can I do that would

taking away from spending time with my

songs back to back. He made it into his first

wow people? Because honestly, if I wouldn't

girl, spending time with my son, hanging

mixtape, which he titled The Adventures of

have done the billboard, then nobody really

out with just family, doing other shit. Then

Flexico.

would've noticed what I was doing,” he said.

I might as well put that same amount of en-

“It was like the only way I could get people's

ergy into the process of letting people see.

“I had sent out fake mixtapes to like five

attention was to do something that was nev-

people, and they was like, that joint kinda

er done before.

crank a little bit. But it was some goofy shit,”

“I feel like people might get a little bit discouraged when [they] drop something and

he said. “I was like, alright, cool. Then I came

“And I was just like, might as well just go

they don't see returns. So they don't keep

back and I was like, ‘Damn, I’m gonna really

for it… Then I motherfucking bought the

going. You know what I'm saying? Like my

put out a mixtape.’ I think that what hap-

billboard, ‘cause I was trying to make a big

last video I put out didn't do as good as the

pened with that joint is like… if I’m going to

ass splash. And I feel like honestly all those

previous video. It could be a situation where

do something, I tried to do it 110%, like go all

were good steps in the right direction. The

I should just get on to the next thing, but I

the way in. I don't want to have no regrets.

billboard was wild. That was one of the cool-

got other good songs on the album that peo-

est things I did in my life… I feel like nobody

ple might like,” he said.

“I was like damn, I'm about to start rapping.

ever did that shit before. And I came out of

So I can't make myself look stupid, because

nowhere completely, so it was just a cool

“It's like if you don’t keep pushing what you

I already had a kind of respect for just doing

process. That's when I really started falling

worked your ass off on, cause you gotta

videos. That's why I ended up buying beats,

in love with doing music. That shit was a

think like other people don't, people will

trying to get cool producers on my shit.”

cool moment in my life.

stop believing in you.”

Learning that he had a business degree, I

“So I didn't take no class [in] marketing.

YOUNGFLEXICO.COM

had to ask Flex if he took many marketing

I just tried to think of cool ideas or excite

@FLEXICOAFOOL

classes. Some of his promotional moves as

people, because I feel like a lot of artists in

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WALLED IN

photos by HEATON JOHNSON model Jessi Rosenberg

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When I approached Jessi to do this shoot I didn't have a clearly defined concept or purpose. While touring her home the first thing that caught my eye was a wooden alcove in the master bedroom. The tightness of the space immediately evoked feelings of claustrophobia and discomfort. The feeling of being boxed in, confined to an area or even a category has always made me incredibly uncomfortable. Most of my life has been spent trying to overcome real and perceived pressures to ascribe to certain parameters. I'm slowly overcoming these limitations, it felt right to have her do the same. -- HEATON JOHNSON @heatonjohnson

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Mural by John Hutchinson & @igorscustom

NESTLED WITHIN THE OCEANFRONT AREA IS VIRGINIA BEACH’S OWN CULTURAL ARTS ENCLAVE—THE VIBE CREATIVE DISTRICT. A hub for artists and spirits, roasters and restaurants, workouts and wares, museums and more, the ViBe is where our creative businesses have set up shop to share their passion and inspire a sense of discovery in locals and visitors alike. 40

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ROB, IRON REAGAN

ENFORCED INTERVIEW BY ROB SKOTIS OF IRON REAGAN

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PHOTOS BY NICK HANCOCK

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On the heels of their debut LP release this summer, Enforced is amping up their name in Richmond and throughout metal and hardcore scenes with their latest sounds in crossover thrash. Following their tour with Iron Reagan earlier this year, At The Walls dropped in July after their “Skinned Alive� single premiered with Revolver. 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

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The local bands came together again, as frontman Knox Colby sat down with Iron Reagan’s Rob Skotis to talk writing processes, genre breakdowns, and future plans between the two bands in an exclusive interview. "Enforced headed back out on tour last month with High Command, starting with a killer kickoff show at Wonderland on October 18, ahead of their dates across the US and into Canada. ROB SKOTIS: I wanted to talk about separation, and how humanity is just repeating itself. KNOX COLBY: Oh, yeah, I mean, a lot of a lot of [Enforced’s] lyrics are basically just like, “This is heading off a cliff.” We're all headed towards absolute fucking disaster. If you don't see it, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna berate or belittle you. But please see the writing on the wall. I'll be living in Mad Max in my lifetime. RS: Yeah. It's like if people asked if you want to have kids and you're like, “No. Do you think I'd want to bring someone in this world?” KC: My mom is so upset. She was like, “You and your brother won't have kids.” I'm like, “Good.” I'm sorry that you can't be a grandmother, but I'm not bringing another fucking person to live 80 years into absolute chaos that I won't live to see. They will. I don't know what's gonna happen. It's a really bad idea.

44 44

writing process fucking non-existent. You don’t even think about it. Like: “You do that, you do that, I'll do that like we always do.” Boom. Throw it up.

KC: Oh, I have no answers.

But with Enforced, it’s a completely different group of personalities that I've never worked with. I don't know how anyone goes about anything. But they had all known each other and been in bands with each other prior, so they have their formula down -- I was just the new guy, in terms of the writing group. They already had a demo done, and I just had to put vocals on it. But they were very adamant about “the vocals have to be perfect.” They've gotta hit how everyone wants them to hit. You’ve got to get the cadence right. Or, “Here's how we picture the vocals to be for this.” And that's so strange, because I've never had a kind of frame to put shit in. I've always been given free rein.

RS: One of the things I like asking bands about, because it's always different: What is your writing process?

RS: Do you think having them giving you some constraints actually made you better?

KC: Yeah, it is always different. Every band I've been in before Enforced was with the same 10 people, since I was 13. So that writing process got so easy, because you're writing with each other for 13 years. I know who's going to do what, I know what their ideas are going to be, and what the music they write sounds like. So you’re like, “Okay, yeah, this is all easy. It's very fluid.” Doesn't make it good, but it makes the

KC: Yeah, because it's so much harder. I can't just be like [making drunken opera sounds] whenever I want. So I'll go through five or six drafts of lyrics. Then we'll practice it, record it, just do a quick scratch demo, and listen to it a bunch. And be like, “Yeah, no, it's still not hittin’ like it should,” and change the song. By changing the song, you gotta change the lyrics. Back to square one. Every time. Until it's absolutely spot

RS: I'm a little sad about it. Maybe I did want [kids]. KC: I really do. I would really love a kid. Three or four, a murder of children would be great. RS: Talking about all that, trying to find a way to fix it --

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on and they're like, “Yep, that’s good.” RS: Is there one of the dudes in the band that writes more of the riffs? KC: Will Wagstaff and Zach Banahan write 99.8% of everything. RS: Does the drummer construct with them? KC: Yeah. In terms of what Alex [Bishop] is comfortable doing, what he can do. He can't do double bass for three minutes straight, [but] I don't care. I mean, who wants to do that? RS: I don't really get it. You're like... running. Just let me run as fast as I can for a full sprint. KC: And then do the rest of the set. It's ridiculous. So it's like, “That'd be cool with double bass. That'd be cool with double bass too. Can you do it for all that?” He's like, “Fuck no -- I put my foot down. No.” If we're gonna play a 45 minute set, no, that's not gonna happen.

of double bass into crossover, which took it away more from the hardcore side of things and brought it to the metal side.

RS: So my next question is: do you like writing music that slaps?

KC: Our logical progression is going that way. Going more metal, more Demolition Hammer, more Sodom. Much heavier. In some cases way faster. Basically veering away from the hardcore framework of “fast part, slow part, fast part, fast part, two step part, fast part,” and with the breakdown, we’re done. We’ve done that. A lot. So we're playing a lot with the stuff that we're trying to demo now. We're playing a lot with tempos. Some of it’s real poppy. You can tap your foot to it. So it's the full spectrum of what we're capable of doing.

KC: Do I like writing music that slaps? No. I fucking hate it. It’s hard to do. If I wrote shit that fucking slopped then it'd be awesome. It’d be the easiest shit to do. I could just do it in my sleep. But there's a difference between slop and slap. You gotta slap. Can’t slop.

RS: That's great. I think there are a lot more crossover bands popping up now, and a lot of them are full-blown to the Municipal Waste side, where it's super-fast pizza thrash. Then the other ones are taking it super Power Trip-side. Or like Hatebreed, almost.

RS: So you're really fucking going for it?

KC: The opposite side of party pizza thrash is metalcore crossover.

RS: I like that you use double bass and you’re crossover.

RS: Yeah, exactly. Taking it that far, but doing a bad job at it.

KC: Yeah, we also have two bass drums now, so it's like, full double bass.

KC: Both ends of the spectrum are fucking questionable. You gotta get it right. If you get it right, then great. What right is, I don't know. If it slaps, it slaps.

RS: That's great. That's one thing I always liked about Municipal Waste; they put a lot 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

RS: Are you guys really into making this a band that you could just tour with for the rest of your life? KC: We made a blood pact.

KC: Oh yeah, absolutely. It's spooky, for me at least, because I've had a job since I was 14. So having a job, going to work, doing the grind. No matter what, for 15 years, and still doing music. Neither of them ever intersecting has been a constant. So now it might get to the point where I have to quit my job. That's great if it does, but that’s super fucking spooky for me. I just turned 29, so it's like: you really want to quit your job now? At 29? You've been doing this shit for about six years. Does that seem like a good idea? No. But that's really what I want to do. ENFORCED.BANDCAMP.COM 45 45


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1621 w. broad street richmond, va www.the camel.org 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

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AN INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW E WHITE OF SPACEBOMB RECORDS

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S P A C E B O M B E D

The final months of 2019 have a lot in store for local record label Spacebomb Records: from their Richmond Folk Festival album to the Andy Jenkins EP that dropped earlier this month, and with upcoming releases through the rest of the year, founder Matthew E. White has a label that stays busy. Moving further into the season, Spacebomb Records is releasing Sinkane: Alive at Spacebomb on December 6. Angelica Garcia’s album is set to debut in 2020, along with Nadia Reid’s latest album and plenty more in store for the River City. To learn what’s behind the doors at Spacebomb and ahead in its future, Long time friends, Reggie Pace sat down with White to kick off his podcast (appropriately called “The Pacecast” until its forevername is settled) and talk local music. Check out Reggie’s interview with White below, and head over to spacebombrecords.com for more releases in Richmond.

p h o t o s b y l a u r e n s e r p a

Reggie Pace: You were playing music. But on the other side of town -- not together.

o f n o

b y b s r e b g r g a i s e s p a c e

b a n d

Matthew E. White: Yeah, I was playing with The Great White Jenkins a little bit, and then Brian Hooten and Pinson and I started Fight The Bull Trio. And that was my first thing that was the instrumental free-jazz kind of music. And that grew into Fight The Big Bull. RP: Do Fight The Bull have records? MEW: Yeah, I guess we did. We did have one record, but that was as homemade as it got. RP: I mean, aren’t they all in a way? Not anymore. MEW: Yeah, but that was great. And we put together a tour for Tony Garcia's music business class. That was my final project -- to put together a tour for five people. So we did that, and it was great. That was really the beginning of everything that I'm doing now, it was that moment to decide to make it. It kind of went from there a little bit. RP: And then Fight The Big Bull was an extension of Fight The Bull. A bigger ensemble?

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MEW: Yeah, it was. Originally it was kind of like an extension, but it very quickly became “The Thing.” It was the main thing almost immediately, once that gelled into a group of people. That was cool. It's funny, you know -- those moments where you don't know it's happening. You look back and you're like, “Oh, man. That's when it happened.” Everything for me happened when Brian and I put together Fight the Big Bull. And I thought, “Okay, I'm going to start writing for this.” We did that first Dying Will Be Easy record, and that got on NPR. Then David Carson Daniels heard about it, and that brought me into the Durham music scene, then that brought us into Sounds of the South. People ask me all the time what happened, but I don't know, man… for me it was just all about creating energy. Trying to make and do and go. RP: There's there's something to be said about timing. MEW: Yeah. Good timing. But I think when you look back, me and you -- and there's several other people -- that was a special time in Richmond. It still is a special time, but for us, that was our 20s. That was my youth. And there were several people that made the decision to say “I'm going to stay here. I'm going to make stuff from here.” It’s not that we planned it... I didn't ever talk to you about it, it wasn't a coalition. It was just in the air. And I think big picture-wise, it had a lot to do with the internet. That breaking down of geographical barriers in the music industry. I definitely didn't think about it like that at the time. I just sort of thought, “These are great people. Who's better than these people?” I still say that, you know? People ask what’s the deal with Richmond -there are better players [here] than anybody. And that is what it is, man. There are more unique musicians here… not even per capita. Just period, it's incredible. I guess I had an inkling of it then, but I'm rock-solid sure of it now. And I was just lucky to cast my bet. RP: So, tell me about what you’ve got going on [at Spacebomb Records] right now. MEW: Right now, Andy Jenkins just released a new EP. Sleepwalkers have just released a record. 52

RP: What's the scene with that? Are they on Spacebomb? MEW: Yup! RP: Are you releasing records they made? MEW: Yeah, we had nothing to do with [the recording process]. RP: I feel like that's a big change. Someone came to you with the finished record. MEW: Yeah, yeah. And we just signed with Angelica Garcia, she’s released a couple singles and she has a record coming out. RP: She's a badass. She's fucking outta here, bro. MEW: She’s unbelievable. RP: She's got this fighting spirit. Every time I see her, I'm just… I'm happier. You know? MEW: Yeah, she lights it up. We saw her play when we did the show in Austin for South By Southwest -- that was a lot of Spacebomb artists, and people who came in from production that were associated with Spacebomb in one way or another. And it was five hours of music with the house band backing people up, it was sort of insane. But she did a solo set of her loop stuff, and it tore the house down... it was crazy, man, it was crazy. I was just like, “Oh my god, Angelica.” Just effortless. Effortless. It was amazing, so I'm very happy about that. And it’s nice that they’re local -that's cool, but we're not signing them because they're local. RP: I always thought that that was the thing y'all were missing in a way, local signings. And people who look different, you know? Different types of music in different backgrounds... less beards, less indie-ness.

friends in the industry who aren't necessarily signed to the label. So we did something with Hiss Golden Messenger and Sinkane. We did something with Fruit Bats and Vetiver earlier this year. RP: Fruit Bats. That's a fun band. They're definitely out of left field, but they sound so good that it doesn’t matter. MEW: Yeah, it's great. And it's funny, the whole Spacebomb world has grown tremendously. Like I was saying before, we have our own studio. I am involved, but it used to be more like… I was the founder, and I was the driver of it. Now it has its own things rolling. I'm in there occasionally, but I've been focused as much, if not mostly, on Matthew E. White as a solo artist. Anything I produce goes through Spacebomb, but Spacebomb is a real record label with people that work in an office from nine to five every day. 106 Robinson. Go see ‘em if you want. RP: I gotta go by there. They’re a great team, you know? I feel like it works well because you have a team full of go-getters, like Trey. Trey is a go-getter. He's getting it done. And Alan, and Cameron is a deep artist. Pinson is a very deep artist. MEW: It's a lot bigger and a lot more energy, and a lot more work than just me. I think people kind of project it [a certain way]… sometimes in the interviews, I’ll read things as if it's a Matt White thing. And at this point, it is just partially a Matt White thing. Like Merge. RP: You got it off the ground. Merge is always going to be Mac, it doesn't matter what he says. MEW: It’s the label that goes, man. And that's cool. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of those guys -- Dan, Jesse, Dean, and Trey -- and all those guys that work their asses off day-to-day to make it go. And hopefully, the idea is, we all kind of work it. And it all goes a little bit back into the same pot. SPACEBOMBRECORDS.COM @MATTHEWEWHITE

MEW: Well, to be fair, there’s only one beard [laughs]. Sleepwalkers are really great, Angelica’s really great. What else? Like I was saying before we turned on the mic, we have the Alive at Spacebomb series that allows us to work with RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


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HIT ME WHEN I'M PRETTY WRITTE N BY S PRESTO N DUNCAN

DOGS EAT SHIT AND OTHE R OBSE RVATI ONS

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You know the tune: boy grows up on dreams of baseball, falling asleep to bedtime stories of a future riding into battle, saving the princess, starring in his own fairytale. Boy wakes up 30 years later, in an abandoned house full of empty beer cans and cigarette butts, with his baseball bat in a pile of broken glass. With a divorce and a drinking problem, slouched over a space heater, he writes poetry in an old fur coat. It could end there. It probably should have ended there, logically. This story, felt by those whose childhoods took similarly unexpected turns, is the story of Ryan Kent: a Richmond artist whose work has become increasingly recognized throughout local poetic and musical communities. Kent recently released his third collection of poetry, Hit Me When I’m Pretty. His poems are blunt; comical out of necessity, and told with a mortician’s smile alongside vulnerability. The new book, like Kent, is sober and unflinching. It’s the kind of thing that can only be written by someone who hasn’t been seized by morbid fascination, but instead walked the path of death and changed direction. That path began with his first book, Poems for Dead People. “I got that idea when I wrote a random poem after Norman Mailer died,” Kent said. “I had an autographed copy of Time of Our Time. I wanted to see how many people had put their things up for sale. There was a lot of stuff -- it just put it in my head that if you have a name for yourself, you really aren’t anything until someone can exploit you.” 58

Kent started writing poetry as a teenager, but those early pieces weren’t the angsty ruminations that you might expect from someone who would end up earning cautious comparisons to Bukowski in his later years. “The shit that I wrote back then was bad, man. It was flowery and whimsical,” Kent said. “You know, dance, dance, dance, tree tops, fly, fly, fly. That kind of shit. I didn't really know what poetry was, all I knew was what I learned in school. It just didn't resonate deeply with me. The things that I related to were songs by Nirvana and Soundgarden. “Then I read Allen Ginsberg, and it was completely different. It helped show the mechanism. It helped wake that up a little bit, I didn’t really do anything but swim team

and baseball. And when I didn't do that anymore, I had no substance. And I decided I was going to be a writer; I really loved it,” Kent said. “I loved reading books and collecting books, and those became my heroes in the same way as Jose Canseco, Greg Maddux, Jeff Bagwell, Shaquille O'Neal -all those guys were my heroes. These guys didn't let me down. A lot of ‘em were already dead.” Richmond abounds with outlets for spoken word artists for whom performance is an integral aspect of their work. But Kent is not a spoken word artist. He’s more of a storyteller with a passion for line breaks. “I like going up and just telling the story,” Kent said. “Secretly Y’all, I did that once and that was cool. Everything has to be done off the cuff.” Secretly Y’all is a local organization in Richmond that hosts live storytelling events every other month for the community to participate in and attend. Similar to many spoken word poetry events, listeners gather in a close room and performers are given a theme: but rather than pre-written poems, Secretly Y’all speakers are chosen randomly from names voluntarily thrown into a hat, and share their personal truths from memory in a full story. “You tell this true story about the topic they decide,” Kent said. “Some people are just great storytellers. Like when you go sit at the bar, and they just rattle off all this stuff that they did 20 years ago. And man, beer is so easy to drink when you’re sitting next to that person.” That kind of training doesn’t come with certification, but with an awestruck history of storytelling credibility. There is a belief in the clarity of hindsight among barstool storytellers, like Kent and his heroes: the idea that you have to give yourself over to the absurdity of chaos and despair, so that one day you might dig your way out and make sense of it all. If there’s an overarching narrative to Kent’s collections, it’s certainly that. “The first [book] was cathartic for me. I wrote about people that I actually knew, and people that fascinated me. I could reRVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


HIT ME WHEN I’M PRETTY

SLEEP WITH ME

i lived alone on 21st across from luck’s field that winter

her tone was always wrong

in this shabby cape cod left vacant a year

and we argued always

a stray cat was in there sitting on an old couch when i moved in

like lawyers religions

there was no running water and the bathroom was demolished

circling one another like dogs

so i shit in a bag pissed in a cup threw them out the back

or two things with way too much a i r

most nights i wrote poems and drank beer on the couch in the living room with the shades drawn my pete rose louisville slugger by the front door sometimes i’d swing it around real hard after i was drunk pass out on the couch thinking i’d hit for the cycle a man with no real home no real team no real reason to bet against anyone but himself

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TWO DUDES SITTING ON A PORCH WATCHING A DOG EAT SHIT there was this dog on 24th used to eat his own shit one day i called out of work on my way to get cigarettes i watched him there were two dudes one with dreadlocks one with something else sitting on the porch watching the old pitbull choke each one down i lit my last cigarette watched the three of them basking in the june sun and no one spoke it was glorious

she bought us an ant farm from a catalogue it came in the mail as did the ants and she emptied them in there to dig provisional tunnels soon all were dead save two then those two died but we didn’t notice for a while i wash my hands then my face before bed look in the mirror none of this means a goddamn t h i n g

59


WHEN WE F*****D I HAD MY EYES OPEN i walked her to her car after my set if i had invited people she said i’d have been embarrassed you always drink too much she said and it’s just a waste the crowd was into it i said

no goodbye as i left her with her car

was on purpose i feel so a l o n e in this relationship everything is about you

it felt warmer walking back to the place to the drunks smoking chimneys outside

some people were smoking out front of the place

one of them shouted my band’s name again

they shouted my band’s name as we walked by

you’re certainly not taking this band s e r i o u s l y if you’re gonna drink that much

an audible woohooooooo

i didn’t fuck up

they’re and

i said

instead of spending time together you’re doing this and it’s bullshit if you’re gonna drink that much i was on time

i said

all you people do is drink it’s like you’re actually trying to h u r t yourselves and when you got up there it was a s l a p in the face she said everything i do for us is just dis m i s s s s s s s s s e d the mic drop

60 60

some nights you just want to be lied to

they seemed to like it i said wasted were

you

wooohoooooo you

terrible

absolutely terrible she said this as she crossed her arms we got to her car the ice in the air was not weather

related

when you go back in there your drunk friends will tell you how great you are but you’re not she said

i said RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


late it to my own life,” Kent said. “But it was mostly done from a deep ache in my childhood, while the other two focused on my new periods. And those all have a glow of heartbreak, in one way or another.”

Without a care, he moved forward, but in a self-destructive manner. It was around this time that his second book, This Is Why I Am Insane, started coming together. And everything else in his life fell apart.

Growing up in a small family, Kent’s formative experiences with loss revolved around the deaths of holiday relatives he only saw once a year -- and nevertheless, still found himself mourning.

Sleeping on the couch without heat or a bed, Kent resided in an abandoned house. His best work came out of this accumulation of life’s bad decisions, as he almost-literally slept in the bed that he made.

Macabre fixation isn’t exactly a novel concept in the literary world, but Kent’s approach to it offers a life-affirming honesty that doesn’t rely on sugary positivity. The antihero of his own botched American Dream, Kent’s narrative style plucks at the mundane nature of everyday life. It finds tragedy in the miraculous and, more significantly, doesn’t distinguish between the two.

“It was a cave,” Kent said. “It was awesome because I could smoke cigarettes inside, I could drink inside, I could play music as loud as I wanted, swing my baseball bat around. I didn't have any heat, so I had space heaters. I had electricity, no running water. The bathroom and the kitchen were both demolished. And I loved it. I would sit there and smoke cigarettes in a fucking fur coat in the wintertime and just get trashed. It was like camping, camping by myself.

“I think I just look at how profound someone's story is,” Kent said. “The person sitting next to you at the stoplight, it’s some lady with a purple shirt on, and she's in some Geo Metro that's still running. I don’t know how. You just happen to glance over at her. She's just some person. And she will have an end, and her story will be over. Everybody's got some story that that would mean something to other people, regardless of whether that story is good or bad. “One of the Poems for Dead People is called ‘You’ll Never Make It as a Singer.’ It was about this rockabilly performer named Eddie Bond. He was in the rockabilly Hall of Fame, he wrote songs for like 40 years. And he is best known for being the man who rejected Elvis Presley. “[When] Elvis Presley tried out for his band, he said, ‘You better stick to truck driving, you'll never make it as a singer.’ So his legacy was being the one who rejected The Man Who Would Be King. He did all that to be remembered for the mistake he made. Maybe he wasn’t right for his band. We’ll never know. That mistake overshadowed everything. Isn't that the story of every human being?” Kent became accustomed to being vulnerable as he started posting his poems online, and later joined a band -- a similar outlet for expressing his words. Once his wife left him, he noted that he “kind of flew on.” 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

“I was at the bottom, but not that hard. Real bottom is when you have no other choice. I had fuckin’ choices. I could have been somewhere else. I chose that. That was all I knew I wanted to do at the time.” If This Is Why I Am Insane welled up from a whiskey-colored pit of metal riffs and heartbreak, Hit Me When I’m Pretty is a process of silence and acceptance. There are no Eat, Pray, Love-style motivational morals. No peachy preaching about flowers sprouting from soils, watered with liquid that doesn’t have an alcohol content. Nothing is suddenly and magically great. But it is better. “I was pushing a lot of people away from me. I was really angry. I was hurt. People always used to tell me, you’re a functioning alcoholic, barely functioning. And I started looking at how there's always a crisis in my life,” Kent said. “There's always some fucking problem, and what's always in my life is alcohol. I remember sitting at the Fasmart across from Millie's on Main Street. I was going to get a six-pack of Hamm’s for like, $3.99, and there's this dude outside asking for a dollar. I got a sandwich. I gave the man a dollar, and got back in my car. And then I just didn't drink. Then I didn't drink the next day. And it wasn't really hard, because I was just fucking over it. And then a month went by, and I looked at the track record of the past month, and the month before. And

the only thing that had been removed was alcohol. “I’m still going through shit. It's not like a bunch of happy stuff. I've read some happy poems by Billy Collins that I really like,” Kent said, “but the ones that always hit me the most were the ones that had a heavy air of poignancy. In that, I saw a type of beauty in something that's heartbreaking and sad.” Typed almost entirely on a cell phone notepad app -- according to Kent, the only way to accommodate his ADD -- Hit Me When I’m Pretty isn’t a story about redemption. But it is itself a kind of triumph; not over mundanity, but through it. One poem that stands out to readers in Kent’s latest book: two dudes watching a dog eat shit. “Two dudes watching a dog eat shit. Yeah. It was actually glorious,” Kent said. “Really, it's taking a picture of how low someone is, that watching this dog eat shit was just unexpected and funny. It's like a little break in the monotony of darkness. And that's kind of where I was in my life. So doing it this time, it was some sober thoughts about ‘What the fuck am I doing with my life?’” The new book may be a sense of relief for Kent, or it may just be step one of everything else coming. Like a CD coming out of a brand-new cover, all scratched up after six months, the latest piece of art can often feels like the artist’s peak... until, down the road, it lays a foundation for their best work. Getting better is the focus, and real writers can put it into words and break your heart with it. For Hit Me When I’m Pretty, the spark for the title came from an artistic whim. “It just popped into my head,” Kent said. “There’s this quote I heard a long time ago, it was Jose Marti -- I might be wrong, but it was ‘It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees.’ It was the same idea, that if you're gonna knock me down, do it when I'm doing well. Do it when I'm doing good. “Or at least let me stand up and fix my fucking hair.” POEMSFORDEADPEOPLE.COM @POEMSFORDEADPEOPLE 61 61


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Exploring the ins, outs, ups and downs of death and dying, Richmond’s weekly WRIR show helps demystify the universal experience of the end of life.


Exploring the ins, outs, ups and downs of death and dying, Richmond’s weekly WRIR show helps demystify the universal experience of the end of life. Here’s the thing: you’re going to die. If that makes you uncomfortable and you stop reading this right now, you’re still going to die. It is the singular universal experience of all living things. That platitude about death and taxes being the only certainties? Propaganda. It’s just death. That we die is inevitable -- how we do it is not. There is a movement right now in the workings of collective thought, a shifting perspective on death and dying. It has the potential to reintroduce End-of-Life experiences to the human narrative of life itself; to transmute this inescapable end from a fate we all ignore into an action undertaken with intention and grace. Of course, in order for that to happen, we have to actually talk about it.

REST EASY WITH

DEATH CLUB RADIO BY S PRESTON DUNCAN

That conversation started on a larger scale in Richmond with the introduction of Death Club Radio (DCR) in a weekly show hosted by the River City’s champions of local radio, WRIR 97.3. DCR makes no claims of paradigm-shifting grandeur. It’s not hitting the campaign trail for wisdom in dying, and its only catch phrase seems to be “Stay Alert, Stay Alive.” But it is the kind of extended conversation that has the capacity, in thirty minute increments, to subdue our cultural knee-jerk aversion to addressing our mortality. And, at the very least, it sticks a pointy-toed shoe in the path of the unlockable door we’ve been slamming on death. DCR started when twenty-year hospice veteran Alane Cameron-Ford was asked to do a segment on death and dying for Open Source RVA, a Richmond-centric radio news show on WRIR hosted by lauded local journalist Don Harrison. But it was their producer, Jack Johnson, who saw potential for something more. 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019 14 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2019

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AL AN E C A M E RON - FORD: I had no radio experience , knew nothing about it. So several free lunches had to occur before I could be talked into it -and then it was ac tually our producer, Jack Johnson, who totally talked me into it. The show didn’t come into its essence until Alane’s co-host (and now husband) Phil Ford wandered in from recording his own show elsewhere in the studio. PHIL FORD: I guess there had been a revolving door of various co-hosts . I had my own show I was doing at the time . And she was recording hers . ACF: We were sit ting in the studio looking lost, and Phil just kinda popped his head in and said “Are y ’all… okay? Do you need any thing? ” And we did. PF: Just to provide commentar y. A sk dumb questions . Or insight ful questions from the common person. ACF: Phil, Jack , and I didn’t really know each other well at this point. PF: And this was af ter it was a module . So what happened was , she had done a lit tle 5 -minute segment on open source and then through Chris Dovi and Don’s encouragement, as well as Jack ’s . She needed to do a big ger show -- she needed to do a 30 minute show. The station was looking for local programming. And so ever ybody was like “let ’s just do it.” She was a lit tle trepidatious , and there were some rough moments when Jack was still tr ying to find his ground as a producer. But it all came together, in this nice lit tle fold of her and I being able to have this great dialog back and for th. And Jack also included sometimes in the dialog , but also to be able to edit… mostly me out, when it needed to be edited. ACF: It ’s amazing , when you talk 66 66

about death. . . you get to know someone real well. But they weren’t bonding over a shared morbid fascination. Listeners will tell you there isn’t much depressive fatalism being kicked around in on-air conversation. DCR focuses almost exclusively on our relationship with death; not just experiences of grief and loss , but cultural perspectives , social at titudes , and the ways in which coming to a deeper understanding of our mor tality might improve our lives . ACF: I ’ve heard other death shows . They ’re not as interested in science as we are , and they ’re not as interested in social science as we are . They are interested in how the body dies and that ’s it. We are not preoccupied with how the body dies . It ’s par t of what we talk about. It ’s impor tant to what we talk about. But we’re as interested in talking about cures that are being found. We’re interested in talking about people who recover from devastating grief, and how they ’re able to recover and live their lives . If this sounds hopeful (if not downright uplif ting), that ’s because it is . These conversations look direc tly at something almost universallyfeared. That focus gently illuminates the anxious shadows we cast, of ten refusing to openly deal with End-ofLife processes . It lightens the neurotic dread that festers in the par ts of ourselves we don’t acknowledge . It does so with candor and -- more of ten than not --humor. PF: To use an analog y, we kind of take death out of the hospital and take it to a natural grounds , someplace where you’re more in tune with it. And I think that ’s the goal. B eing able to identif y with it easier. While the need for these discussions is by no means geographically limit-

ed, regional at titudes and lore play a significant role in our death my thologies . Death is a community event, after all. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it ’s hard to describe Richmond without noting the spec tre of histor y we live alongside . ACF: I think what makes it easier in Richmond is that Richmond is big enough -- that a lot of what we talk about is news to people -- but it ’s small enough that we have certain niche groups that really like to listen to it. That would be some of our nursing schools , our social work pool, funeral direc tors , the Richmond City Jail. When we star t talking about their stuf f, they all know each other. The fac t that WRIR is known nationwide for being an ex tremely successful independent radio station brings much to the show. I mean, that is absolutely essential -- that they are so popular with so many people , and people really trust that station to give them information. So could it exist in another town? Yes , but only if it had another WRIR . PF: Another strong community. ACF: And WRIR only exists here . PF: We’ve done inter views out of state , and when we tell people what it is , they ’re like … what? B ecause it is a strange thing. They don’t know what to expec t. We’d love to get it on PR X , and I think it would be picked up by a podcast. O ther community stations , I think , would absolutely pick it up. I think where there’s a strong sense of localism and community, it would be successful, because we don’t specifically talk about Richmond. I mean, sometimes . We did a show on the Jef ferson during the holidays . ACF: But Richmond does have a few at trac tions that are death-related, that make it a town where people are talking about these things . You’ve got the Poe Museum , you have the RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019 RVA MAGAZINE 38 | FALL 2019


constant discussion -- thank goodness -- about burial grounds , and the respec t that has been historically shown them versus the respec t that needs to be shown. And that ’s at least five dif ferent sites . You have a ver y prominent medical school. And Holly wood cemeter y, which is just the jewel.

ACF: So we did one of those on death and dying. We collaborated with them and we talked about funeral food. We talked about traditions . So we did a couple collaborations with the Firehouse , and then they invited us to be in-house ever y other month for two years . PF: A s par t of the fringe .

PF: We have a lot of famous presidents buried in our back yard. ACF: So all of those things promote more discussion about death and dying. And then if you look at our histor y museums , they cover it a lit tle bit, between The Valentine and the Museum of Histor y and Culture , and Tredegar. They all touch on it a lit tle bit. In another turn of local providence , Alane and Phil have star ted hosting live recordings at the Firehouse Theater. Under the banner of Death Club Radio Live , these bi-monthly black box events provide both a physical forum for community engagement, and supplement the on-air experience with vaudevillian theater. ACF: The Firehouse , for various produc tions , would have a group discussion about the produc tion. And they invited me on to discuss the aspec ts of death and dying in To Damascus . And that evidently went so well, it might have been an audition I didn’t know was an audition. PF: The Ar tistic Direc tor, Joel, was looking for a collaboration among several dif ferent types of things . He’s really a big fan of that. And obviously, she’s a wonder ful speaker and engaging person. And then we combined that with the E AT people . They ’re a nonprofit where they do these educational pop-up meals , combining Indian food with whatever subjec t they had in mind, and a chef would come in and cook for a family-style table .

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ACF: Yeah, we’re the fringe . But it ’s really nice because it gets our listeners introduced to The Firehouse , and it gets Firehouse people introduced to us . It ’s a nice collaboration. And they do all kinds of incredible things . They have like 250 shows a year or something. What we’ve spent our time on is community events -- events that are also related to the radio station. We also have multiple publications that we have made as par t of a community education ef for t. We’ve looked into grants . If we were able to get some grants , what we’d like to do is more work with marginalized populations , and how they cope with death and dying. A cursor y search of the internet will reveal thousands of ar ticles , sites , and ser vices tagged #deathpositive . But it ’s not a niche enclave of macabre Hamlet enthusiasts , nor is it an iteration of “ New Age Positive Thinking,” which claims that by simply concentrating on perceptually enjoyable aspects of life , we can dispense with all unpleasantness . Death Positivity is not attempting to trade culturally-predominant death denial for a denial of grief. It doesn’t of fer an oversimplified approach to overcoming the foreboding feel that we are genetically wired to feel toward dying. It doesn’t free you from loss . What it does is engage in a dialog about -- and at times with -- death. It of fers up the taboo notion that, with a bit of luck , the end of your life can (and should) be an expression of the ways in which you have lived.

As a society, we have come to view death as a medical issue . Lives end in hospitals . Last breaths are intubated. There are visiting hours and harsh light fix tures . These sterile environments are attended by exhausted strangers in scrubs and coats . Death is hidden from view. It ’s a combative approach to the End-of-Life enabled by death denial. This is an ex tension of our conditioning toward embattlement -- we have to fight for what ’s ours . Any thing less is weakness . Any thing less is giving up. We have become so obsessive in our pursuit of cures , we’ve largely lost sight of something profoundly more attainable: healing. Here’s the thing: you’re going to die . Whether that happens in a hospital, surrounded by over worked and underappreciated nurses , or at home surrounded by family (or friends , or pets , or string lights that look like Corona bottles) won’t change that. But it will change your experience . And that matters . A terminal diagnosis is an opportunity to co-author the last chapter of a stor y written by ever y day of your life . In the business of stories , endings are impor tant. But there’s a catch: you have to co-author this one with death. We’re taught to run naked into battle , screaming Not today! and Fuck cancer! Hopefully it ’s not today. And definitely fuck cancer. But battles are messy. E xplosive . And there’s a ver y real possibility of getting more meaningful mileage out of an emptying tank than a head-on collision. It ’s your journey. The Death-Positive movement wants you to know that, as much as circumstance allows , you can choose how it ends . And since , in truth, we’re all on that road, Death Club Radio is there to help make sense of the miles . FACEBOOK.COM/DEATHCLUBRADIO

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RVA Magazine Fall 2019 #38  

RVA Magazine Fall Issue is full of our usual coverage of the local music, art, and culture in Richmond Va and beyond! This issue has feature...

RVA Magazine Fall 2019 #38  

RVA Magazine Fall Issue is full of our usual coverage of the local music, art, and culture in Richmond Va and beyond! This issue has feature...

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