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5 Oh Wonder 9 KLOE 17 Kitten 23 L책psley 43 Sunflower Bean


3 Languages and Limits 15 Side Projects, EPs, and Mixtapes 31 Role Models 53 RADvice


h c r a m 016 2

FOUNDER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF April Salud ASSOCIATE EDITOR Rochelle Shipman LAYOUT Robert Jackson April Salud CONTRIBUTORS Jessica Boldt Katie Collins Danielle Ernst Courtney Farrell Joyce Jude Lee Lilian Min Marissa Smith



Finding out who you are and where you want to go is something that we all wrestle with at some point in life. Sometimes, it’s even constant. For the first issue of 2016, we wanted to really EXPLORE and discover new things about ourselves and the artists we chatted with this time around. In order to do this, we had to reflect back, look forward, and of course continuously learn from each other. We crafted definitions with Sunflower Bean, went shopping with KLOE, and looked through the perspective of cover artist Låpsley. The need to soak up as much around as humanly possible will never go away, but chipping away at it with some of our favorite artist was the best way to kick off the year.





hen Drake’s “Hotline Bling” first “broke,” months after he’d slipped it onto his Soundcloud and right before its music video’s release, listeners of all backgrounds noticed that Drizzy’s “reworked” background beat was reminiscent of Dominican bachata music — which elevated the song out of standard petty Drake ballad territory and into feel-good late fall “island” vibes. None other than Romeo Santos, bachata legend, reposted a meme knowingly referencing this coincidence/tacit homage. Santos, for his own part, has been nominated for 43 Billboard Latin Music Awards; his music, both solo and with the group Aventura, is synonymous with an entire subgenre of a global, cultural force; he’s not hurting for recognition both within and without mainstream music. (He’d even worked with Drake before, on his album Formula, Vol. 2.) But my first exposure to bachata music didn’t come through influential music blogs or, say, mainstream Los Angeles radio stations. Instead, it came through Drake, and as I wonder how on earth that came to be (a realization I had again when listening to Natalia Lafourcade’s fantastic Hasta la Raíz), it made me think about the impact of simple language barriers to reaching and listening to “international” music — and how translated texts both literally and figuratively transform the reputations of Anglo-centric artists, and how this doesn’t really work, at least for now, the other way around. When mainstream pop stars utilize other languages in their music — think Rihanna for “Te Amo” (wherein she, a fluent? Spanish speaker, only utilizes the Spanish phrase “te amo”) Drake’s reliance on papi and Spanish slang in his social media missives and lyrics, the pouty French interlude on Beyoncé’s “Partition” — the intended effect is one of adornment. (An exception: How The Weeknd slips in native Ethiopian Amharic into “The Hills.”) More than any other languages, Spanish and French (and to a lesser extent, Italian) have these seemingly effortless romantic connotations; but, only in their most mellifluous undertakings. No one is sampling or singing in the language’s harshest syllables, and the lyrics and words being translated and lifted tend to come from el lenguaje del amor/la langue de l’amour. Harsher, more mundane words like oeuf (French, “egg”) and cuchara (Spanish, “spoon”) don’t sonically


click with the projected sound images that English listeners expect from those languages, or rather their preferred perceptions of those languages and the cultures behind them. (A similar phenomena is the usage of Japanese and Chinese characters in artists’ visuals, a point the Japanese-American artist Mitski makes in an interview I did with her last year.) Similarly, many other languages, from Mandarin Chinese to Russian to German, are tacitly “barred” from being slipped into English lyrics because of their perceived angular qualities — though, as anyone who’s listened to street French and Spanish can attest, it’s not as though those languages inherently lack those very same things. The fact that all three of the mainstream artists I name-checked here aren’t white is a coincidence, as French yé-yé pop in particular has a strong following within the predominantly white “indie” community. Of course, “indie” itself has to come in quotes, for indie and mainstream bleed into each other and blur between genres, between increasingly fluid race and ethnicity-drawn boundaries. Indeed, artists of any and all backgrounds can exoticize an “other”; that this other comes equipped with desirable cultural connotations can then be used at an advantage. But, within the Anglo-centric music model that makes up the backbone of our global music economy, this advantage can only be used in one direction. An example: When I was growing up as an animeloving teenager, I found myself routinely listening to Japanese bands and pop stars, who’d provide the opening and ending songs for my favorite shows. There’s Orange Range’s “*-ASTERISK-”; Asian KungFu Generation’s “Rewrite”; Mika Nakashima’s “Find the Way”; and so, so many more. Artists as far apart in genre as Ayumi Hamasaki (sparkly diva pop) and the pillows (grungy garage rock) all borrowed from this linguistic trope. (Why I was listening to so much Japanese music in the first place is, perhaps, another piece.) The English doesn’t seem to serve any larger purpose besides punctuating the lyrics. It was likely that listeners would know select words, but there seemed to be no rhyme or rhythm in what words were randomly translated — mirroring the oftentimes nonsensical patterns and syntax of “Engrish,” as magnified in crooked accents and shan zhai clothing. This perceived randomness, which is also concurrently

Languages and Limits WORDS BY LILIAN MIN

read/heard as grammatically poor, is a mark of ridicule by Anglo language listeners, toward music that doesn’t conform to English or the aforementioned “safe” romance languages (of course, even those only in limited doses). This makes for, of course, a very lopsided listening experience. Only consuming music that you can comprehend, whether literally or “in spirit,” means missing out on entire continents of vibrant artistic scenes, or even the alternate ones that exist alongside or within the ones in which you already are. It seems a damn shame that the Grammys split their Latin categories from their main ones, when many states in America have huge Hispanic populations (which, in some states, might even become a majority soon). Or: That MTV Chi and Iggy, which catered to Asian-American and “world” music respectively, weren’t fully supported from the get-go and later folded. Or: That at awards shows and public performances, international artists are expected to express their feelings about their musical accomplishments for a primarily English press, and aren’t asked to speak outside of their mother tongues at similar events around the world. Can you imagine if, say, a Swedish reporter refused to ask Justin Bieber questions in English? If Drake dropped a line of Urdu into his next hot single? If Major Lazer employed vocalists who were actually tethered to the styles and cultures from which the group cribs? If a song sung in anything other than complete English were to actually top the Billboard Hot 100, a feat that’s only happened six times in the chart’s over half-century existence? Language is, in the end, a series of specific constructs shaped by geography and time. But, as it translates into music, it doesn’t have to have as deep of a bearing on your comprehension as you might think or even believe it does. Melody, harmony, lyrical flow, beat construction and decay — these are concepts that exist on their own, still rich in cultural connotations but without the limiting factor of strained understanding. It is possible to listen to, to feel performance without words, text without translation. Which isn’t to say lyrics aren’t important; rather, that in words, we oftentimes only find one kind of conversation.




Follow Oh Wonder: twitter.com/OhWonderMusic facebook.com/ohwondermusic ohwondermusic.com


der 6


h Wonder have done something remarkable. In just over a year, the British duo garnered millions of hits on their SoundCloud that eventually became their beloved self-titled debut album, sold out venues across the world, and through it all have still kept their humility intact. “I don’t believe in celebrity and I don’t agree with it. I don’t think it’s right to hand pick a bunch of people out of the six billion humans on the planet and be like, ‘Oh these are gods and we should worship them and must know what they eat for breakfast.’” Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West’s meeting was purely by chance -- like all meetings are, really. Meeting through a mutual friend and attending each other’s respective music projects at the time, Vander Gucht and West realized exactly how in tune they were with each other. There’s an indescribable connection that Oh Wonder has captured between the two of them, their music, and the community they’ve built because of it. This connection bleeds throughout their debut album underneath lush harmonies and minimalistic R&B arrangements. A common theme throughout Oh Wonder’s music is how important it is to see people as people, and not just as means of getting somewhere or something. “One of the first things people ask when you meet someone is ‘What do you do?’ as if what you do defines you as a person,” Vander Gucht observed. “But in reality, it actually doesn’t because probably 95% of people are doing things they don’t actually want to be doing. I’ve stopped asking, ‘What do you do?’ and open with, ‘Tell me a bit about yourself.’ That’s a really easy way to go up to a stranger and not automatically put in their head the notion of ‘Oh, what can you do for me?’ ‘How can you benefit me?’”

“Never try and pigeon-hole people. Always give them an open page to express themselves.”

- Josephine Vander Gucht


goals, and failures. Oh Wonder have created this space around them that ensures that they aren’t above or below anyone but rather that they’re on the same level as everyone. “It would be a real shame to elevate ourselves just because we have this platform because we are all people and we all experience the same things. We’re all speaking the same language in a way. It’s important that we keep this project humanized and articulate that we’re here for people if they need us. A lot of people find strength and comfort in this little community we’ve created.”

“We don’t make ourselves as this grand thing or try to dehumanize ourselves.” - anthony west Recognizing that people are more than just tools to get you what you want is an important lesson to learn. When you get older, especially when you’re in a bigger city, the easiest thing you can do is isolate yourself. By doing so, you lose sight that the people around you have rich backstories with fears, hopes,

As the lights dimmed on their second sold out show at the El Rey in Los Angeles, Vander Gucht and West were greeted with a roar of cheers, the community of fans they have gathered through this project welcoming them with open arms. Attending concerts is always a magical experience. It harnesses this energy that can never be duplicated because no two performances are alike. It’s funny to think that Oh Wonder was never meant to be a live act and have only been doing so for a short amount of time. Vander Gucht and West took their recorded music to new levels by adding their charm, musicianship, and chemistry that it’s infectious. Watching the crowd as they witnessed that once in a lifetime moment of synergy is another experience entirely. Despite being elevated physically, Vander Gucht and West never talk down to their audience -- they’re enjoying the crowd as much as the crowd is enjoying them. Oh Wonder is a special beast that is aware that every person is complex with their own story to tell. They’re just attempting to help tell their version of what they observe with the platform they’re given. Part of this process is being able to treat every person like they’re a vital part of this world. “I pretend everyone is having a really bad day. If you get into the habit of thinking your waiter, or the person at the coffee shop, or someone sitting next to you on the bus is having a bad day -- the first thing you would think of is how would you console them. You wouldn’t ignore them, you wouldn’t scowl at them. A simple, ‘How are you doing?’ can do a lot.”





h, you don’t have to ask me to be candid, don’t you worry!” laughs Glaswegian 19-year-old Chloe Latimer, or KLOE, as she’s known in the music industry. I don’t doubt her; her captivating, brazen personality ensured me of that in the few moments before we sat down. It’s only a few hours ahead of her Club NME performance at London’s KOKO and she’s the slightest bit restless, but ready to take on the world. “I’ve been kind of plucked from obscurity into this whole new world of music, and it’s a lot to process,” she explains. As she goes on to list a number of writers and producers she’s been working with in the last few months alone, that first statement seems more and more understandable. We touch on the details of her start in music as Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” plays through the speakers of the Camden pub we’re chatting in. The name of her debut EP, Teenage Craze, first cropped up when she was 16, meaning that this release has been three years in the making. She’d been recording demos in Glasgow, but it was when Prides’ Lewis Gardiner got involved that the ball started rolling. KLOE speaks incredibly highly of him, markedly saying he “just kind of got the tracks sounding like me, and that’s when it all clicked.”




KLOE’s biggest success up until this point had been “Touch,” a powerful pop song spiraling with mystery and edge. “There were actually like, five versions of it lyrically and melodically, I just kind of went out of my mind writing it. I’m a total control freak,” she explains. Having read a few times that this track was the result of a relationship with an older man, I inquire about its inspiration. KLOE is nostalgic about her earlier teenage years before clarifying things. “It’s funny, everyone calls it a relationship; it wasn’t really. I took a lot of inspiration from him. He was like a walking song. He was one of those people who could just make you feel like the most important person in the world, or like nothing. Usually with me, when I write a song about something it’s like I’ve gotten it off my chest, but with him, I can never say enough. We don’t speak anymore.” Only a week before the release of Teenage Craze, KLOE quickly dispels all suspicion that she might be nervous about its reception. “Teenage Craze is a proper introduction to me as an artist, and I don’t really care if anyone hates it because I really like it,” she says. This confidence comes from all the work she’s put into this release. “I feel like some people just shove out EPs, but this is really important to me. If it took me three years to make an EP then God help me with an album!” At the mention of an album, I recall a tweet I’d seen a few days before. KLOE had tweeted the amusing statement, “Think I might call my album Sorry Mum after the last 2 songs I’ve written.” Seeing that had piqued my curiosity, and I jumped at the opportunity to find out more. “This is actually really funny, and you can print this, this guy bit me, look,” she says before pausing and proceeding to show me the broken skin on her bottom lip. “I was fooling around with him or whatever and he bit me. I went into a writing session the day after and I was just like, ‘let’s write a song called Bite’ and I just wrote this total sex anthem about the guy who bit me. It kind of scares me knowing it’s going to get released, but I don’t care, I think it’s funny.” In the span of twenty minutes, I learned that KLOE is a bold, confident young woman who is both unapologetically herself and unafraid to share her stories with the masses. We ended on the notion of what’s to come, and her response was quintessentially KLOE. “I don’t have a filter and I’m not afraid to say what I think. I would feel like a fraud if I wasn’t talking about my real life. I don’t really have time for bullshit.”

Follow Kloe: twitter.com/KLOEmusic facebook.com/mynameiskloe kloemusic.com



Find Boldt:


Side Projects, EP

ide project, EP, mixtape. These are terms music fans everywhere are somehow simultaneously becoming more familiar with and more confused about. How are each of these various terms “defined”? After being sucked into many a blogs, articles, etc., this was the conclusion: there is no one definition. Ultimately, the articulation of what a project is comes down the artist. And in this age of sharing and streaming, it’s the artistic freedom bands have to put out a side project, drop an unexpected EP, or release a mixtape just in time for Valentine’s Day that should be celebrated. Side projects seem to come alive when an an artist decides to pursue an avenue apart from their current band/moniker/etc. Sometimes, this really doesn’t look too different than the current music they are making. Other times it’s radically different than what they are known for or known as. The response to side projects always seemed mixed too. Some fans welcome the new moniker, the new sound, the new look. Other times people are skeptical. Ultimately the side projects allow an artist to try something different. OG fans will remember Nate Ruess’ early early days as part of The Format. Others know him as the dynamic frontman of fun. Lately, he’s just releasing music as Nate Ruess. Side project or current project, whatever you want to call it, this new album has allowed Ruess to bless fans with something different. One of the biggest differences from “The Format to



fun.” and the “fun. to Nate Ruess” transition is the status of the previous project. When The Format ended, Ruess made a definite statement that The Format would not be releasing another album. fun. on the other hand is on more of an indefinite break. Nate Ruess seems to have hit a new stride on his 2015 release Grand Romantic. With a voice as distinct as his, of course it’s easy to draw comparisons to fun. and The Format but you can tell he’s exploring new sounds and new themes on this release. Jamie xx is another artist exploring the side project while staying loyal to his identity as part of The xx. He could have integrated some of his Jamie xx material into The xx but instead he went a different route. Musicians are artists who work with others who go through seasons. The side project is a way for an artist to embrace that season with a different level of artistic freedom. In this same vein of side projects there is the elusive EP. It seems lately EPs are becoming harder and harder to define. Is it the traditional four-track EP or something more like the seven-track EPs we’ve been seeing more of? Again, it seems that more and more lately what is defined as an EP comes down to authority of the artist. The ever-eclectic and colorful Animal Collective is a great example of a band in which its members are free to explore other creative endeavors. Noah

Ps, and Mixtapes


Benjamin Lennox and David Portner, aka Panda Bear and Avey Tare respectively, are both founding members of Animal Collective, however both have experienced success in their own right. Lennox and Portner are such brilliantly, creative minds that is only makes sense for them to release music under a variety of monikers. Both members have released a few EPs and full-length albums, apart from Animal Collective.

Ocean to dabble in new sounds, with a different feel than channel ORANGE.

It doesn’t seem fair to have a piece about side projects with talking about Run The Jewels, the super group made up of El-P and Killer Mike, both of whom had relatively successful careers before coming together to form Run The Jewels. The combination of their talents gave birth to something wildly unique and just straightIn addition, every member of Animal Collective has up fun. Run The Jewels has experienced success with worked on other musical projects over their 15+ year such a diverse audience, which speaks to the level of run as band. They are able to put out music through creativity and willingness to push boundaries that comes other avenues while remaining true to their identity as from these two. In this case, the duo has garnered so Animal Collective--which as we know, is not always the much attention that they seem to have abandoned their case. Many artists often leave their original projects solo projects in lieu of working together. solely to pursue their solo careers. Each project from the members of Animal Collective are beautifully There are so many other artists doing wildly creative brilliant and have actually challenged me in my and beautiful things -- whether it appreciation for music. Their projects are so unique is a side project, EP or mixtape. Phantogram and Big that it has forced me out of my musical comfort zone Boi as Big Grams; Julian Casablancas’ various projects into new territory. apart from the Strokes; Vampire Weekend/BAIO -- the list goes on and on. Ultimately, whether something can And then of course there is the mixtape. What is a be dubbed a side project or an EP or a mixtape or a mixtape? Does anyone know? Regardless, a slew supergroup is the intent of the artist. If they want to call of artists recently are really diving into the whole their seven-track release an EP, sure. If they want to take mixtape thing. Mega-star Drake even dubbed the a break from recording as a group, to record under a wildly successful If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late a different moniker, sure. Musicians are artists and have “mixtape.” A few years back, Frank Ocean, released the freedom to explore many different mediums just his Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape instead of putting it out like a studio artist explores different mediums. It doesn’t as a traditional album. This mixtape, similar to the matter what it’s called. We’ll keep listening as long they aforementioned side projects, did seem to allow Frank keep making it.








Chloe Chaidez of KITTEN has been through a lot of ~drama~ in the past. In 2016, she's leaving it all behind and fully coming into her own as a person and as an artist. Backstage at The Fonda, Chaidez oozed an effortless amount of cool in her demeanor as well as her overall look. She commanded attention without demanding it. This particular show was a big one for the new trajectory and journey she's about to embark on. Armed with new music and rebuilding up herself while still staying rooted in her true self, Chaidez is exploring all of her options because they're open to her. Call it a resurgence, return, or reinvention; we'll just call it the next chapter of KITTEN.

Follow Kitten: twitter.com/KITTENTHEBAND facebook.com/KittenBand kittentheband.com





is a long w

way from home



aking a break from work, I made my way down 3rd St in West Hollywood to meet Holly Lapsley Fletcher, who was in town for promo leading up to her debut album Long Way Home. Originally, we were supposed to meet at her hotel but she stepped out to grab some lunch. I walked up to her table as she was mid-bite, she properly finished and introduced herself. There was something incredibly striking about Låplsey with her pale skin, blonde hair, and vibrant blue eyes. Yet there was also something warm and approachable, particularly when she exclaimed and pointed at her “food baby” she had developed after her meal. Låplsey was directly in the middle of her week of press. Her publicist, who also accompanied us on our walk around West Hollywood, mentioned that she hadn’t had any real time off to explore and relax. So that’s what we set out to do, show a small corner of Los Angeles to the Brit in town. All of the British people I’ve met have this endless fascination with the idea of Los Angeles as a city. It’s a fantasy land where everyone’s dreams come true and summer never ends. Wolf Alice has consistently said it’s their favorite city in the world and their best memories happen here. Rationale was in complete awe of the sunset and graffiti “art” at Venice Beach. Dan Smith said he’s considered moving here despite always “being tired” when he’s in town. Låplsey, however, had a different response to her surroundings. As we made our way through shops and bakeries, it wasn’t necessarily the location that affected her good times; it was the experience itself. “You need to know people to have a good time here. It’s a very beautiful place but a very lonely place. There’s a falseness to it.” At 19, Låplsey has expanded beyond her humble beginnings from Liverpool, England. From a young age, she played multiple instruments and learned how to write and produce her own songs and combined her electronic and classical training to forge a style that is completely hers. With her Understudy EP making its way through the




music blogosphere, she came to Los Angeles (or more specifically the neighborhood of Silverlake) to write a good bulk of her debut album. I remember seeing her at Hotel Cafe mentioning she had written a song about LA a few days earlier, performing it live for the first time that night. That song was “Silverlake.” “The song ‘Silverlake’ is about running out of water and using that as a metaphor of a relationship ending. It’s knowing that something is going to end but trying to prolong it for as long as possible. There’s this impending doom while you’re living this luxury lifestyle that you can’t sustain,” she continued. “It’s going to end at some point and because of that there’s this weird freedom.” As a Los Angeles transplant who has lived here for nearly three years, it was absolutely baffling to get such real insight about my city from someone who has essentially only visited. Most people I’ve encountered still look at LA through rose-colored glasses and it’s usually me who tries to bring them back to reality. With Låplsey, she already knew all of it. If anything, she was making me realize how fucked up the image we project onto the world actually is. As one of my friends put it, Los Angeles is The Capitol and the rest of the world are The Districts. “Writing here made me realize how hard people try to achieve their dreams and that I was taking advantage of the position I’d been granted. It made me appreciate where I was coming from and where I am going. People are never satisfied [in LA] and that type of dissatisfaction is alien. I grew up with a very true sense that being an actress or musician is incredibly unrealistic. It wouldn’t be really encouraged because it’s not really safe and there’s too much competition. And in LA, it’s more just, ‘hey, go for it!’ There’s definitely positive and negative to both things.” Despite being ingrained that it was “incredibly unrealistic,” Låplsey achieved the impossible and has turned her music into a full fledged career. A career that lets her go outside of her bubble and experience, learn, and grow more as a human being. Though her sadness radiates in her music, Låplsey overall is a happy and cheerful person. There are very few other people I’d be willing to follow around Hollywood, eating cupcakes and perusing toy shops. It was her extremely grounded analysis of what was around her and her willingness to embrace but also question it that made her overall presence endlessly positive.


Follow L책plsey: twitter.com/MusicLapsley facebook.com/LapsleyMusic musiclapsley.com


“The food is incredible here because it’s so multicultural. I love the weather. I feel like you should be happy all the time because of the weather. It’s summer every day. I like that there’s so much space. The architecture is very basic. There’s not much money being put into it or infrastructure of the roads. It almost feels abandoned. Instead of putting focus into the areas that do exist, LA just keeps expanding out and out.” While Los Angeles does have its problems and at times can be unaware of those problems, it is still this weird standard that people strive to reach. Sometimes, we need that falseness in order to keep going. But any time that falseness starts to become too much, Låplsey is there to provide that needed snap back to reality.


Role Models





Karen O



t a train station somewhere in central New Jersey, I bought my first and only copy of Spin. It was the September 2003 issue: “The Cool List,” with Jack and Meg White on the cover. Folded up amongst shout-outs to The Strokes and The Hives and Bubba Sparxxx were a few lines about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and namely, their hard-performing frontwoman Karen O. The writer bemoaned the fact that the O hid her real last name, Orzolek; he also failed to mention that her middle name is Lee, not as a vestige of Americana, but because of her Korean mother. When I later found out that Karen O is (half-)Asian, my heart must’ve stopped — upon learning that one of my rock idols wasn’t just a consummate weirdo, but was a consummate weirdo in the way that I in particular was, or rather had been deemed to be. Though she didn’t wear or perform her race in the way that I both had seen and had been told was a part of my identity, the knowledge that she, this flaming pagan effigy brought to delirious and delightful life, had anything in common with me… It shined a light on both how I listened to her band’s music, and how I’d come to relate with her as an artist through her career. The exact timeline of my forever fall into rock music is blurry at this point; I misremember things all the time and also didn’t take meticulous notes of my listening history as it was being written. But it was a review of the band’s sophomore album


Show Your Bones in Time Magazine that finally got me to listen to them. I borrowed it from my local library, burned a copy, and played it, once, in my family’s car. When the whoops came in during “Gold Lion,” my parents wrinkled their noses. I, disturbed by O’s fried-at-the-edges lyrical delivery, put the album down for years.

Songs, her intimate sound sketches, as well as her Ezra Koenig duet “The Moon Song,” hit your ear like vapor, evaporating instantly upon impact. But there’s something beautiful in her evolution from art-punk weirdo, literally spitting on the audience during shows, to deliberate enigma, as the Internet discovered and re-discovered her as an alt icon.

When I finally started listening to the band again, for real, it was because of a breakup. Like most high schoolers, I’d heard and internalized “Maps,” and even tried my hand at singing it in early versions of Rock Band. When my high school boyfriend broke up with me over Skype, right before my first college Halloweekend, I blitzed my way through every sad and cathartic song I know: Crystal Castles’s “Baptism” (“Not in Love” with Robert Smith wouldn’t drop for a couple more weeks); Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone”; Annie’s “Heartbeat” (which was introduced to me by a friend who’d later “betray” me by smoking with my ex); Sugarcult’s “Memory”; Malajube’s “Étienne d’août.” On a whim, I listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Soft Shock” (“In my room / In your room,” lines repeated on loop on loop on loop as I cried and cried and cried) — and from there, I spiraled further. “Maps,” with its hopeful and plaintive refrain. “Hysteric,” with its gossamer softness. “Sealings,” with its desperation. “Cheated Hearts,” with its explosive build and the probablywill-become-a-tattoo line “Sometimes I think that I’m bigger than the sound.” And then, “Turn Into” — a command, a desire, a hope that’s broken down into and by O’s voice.

It’s easy to think that Karen O’s always been cool. Except — this quote from an interview conducted by fellow NYC garage rock survivor, Julian Casablancas, in Time Out New York:

I’ve lost hours, maybe even days, under my covers with those songs, those albums, on loop. When I finally saw the band live at Coachella in 2013, I wept, even as I framed and shot images of their iridescent frontwoman from the photo pit.

O recently became a mom, and I’m interested to see how that does, or doesn’t, shape the music she puts out in the future. I don’t think I’m quite there on my own life journey, but there’s a comfort in knowing that even Karen O can settle down, even though and after she’s cut herself open and apart for her art. After all she’s done for me and countless others, it’s the least she deserves.

The band’s latest album, Mosquito, did little for me, but I continued following O’s further ascendance into the indie icon canon. Crush

“But you know, being a young girl who was not the pretty, popular girl at school, that’s a fantasy: You go away for the summer with your family, and you stumble into this underbelly of cool, sexy…a reinvent-yourself type thing. I ate it up, basically.” She was discussing Dirty Dancing, but she might as well have articulated how I’d felt about her band when I finally ~got~ their music. Karen O was the fearless, no-filter voice through which I’d projected my own; that she had anything in common with me, least of all her cultural heritage, was the godsend I needed to permanently copy/paste my intentions upon hers. Like: I used to go hoarse from practicing her screams and upper-range melodies. Like: At one point, I had a million voice memos on my phone that were all various covers of Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs. Like: I used to drunkenly strike poses in my dorm room while blasting “Phenomena.” (Still, my fantasy talk show “walk-on” song.)


Conor Oberst




was 13, neck deep in Xanga and Hot Topic chokers, when we first met. I heard “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” first. I think my friends lusted after the drug aspect of it, but he reeled me in immediately with “your tongue in my mouth, trying to keep the words from coming out,” since tongues in mouths was currently one of the most curious experiences at my tender age. I was 14 when I experienced my first heartbreak. Consolation quips like, “you’re so young” and “time heals everything” were met with near-feline growls and slammed doors. The only person who understood my pain was Conor Oberst. From “love’s an excuse to get hurt” to “so I’d prefer to be remembered as a smiling face, and not this fucking wreck that’s taken its place,” it felt like Conor was telling my story through his words. That’s the thing about him. Next to baring his soul through his music and in his lyrics, he bares his feelings through the delivery of his words. You can hear it in his forced breath; in his lips pushing against the microphone; in his desperate rasp, pinned up against nothing but the guitar. That nakedness is bravery. I’d never heard that before. I was 15 when I finally stopped crying and opened my eyes. As I looked around, I realized our world (and specifically our country) was undeniably fucked, a fact Conor had spelled out poetically on Read Music, Speak Spanish, the debut from his punk outfit Desaparecidos. I cringed for approximately 45 seconds with the thought that he had abandoned his emo prince post, but promptly forgot my woes in lieu of his the minute I hit play. I was 16 when Bright Eyes did something that’s still largely unheard of in an artist’s career: they released Digital Ash In A Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, two stylistically opposite and wholly unconnected albums, on the same day. The act of choosing one (because that’s what you do when you’re young and responsible) was probably the most difficult “real” problem I had at that age. Later that year, I first heard “When the President Talks to God.” I almost certainly downloaded it on Limewire. I remember turning it off about halfway through because my dad was in the other room, and he had voted for Bush. When I finally revisited it I was on a bus to NYC staring at the back of the seat in front of

me, marveling over Conor Oberst’s ability to flesh reality out so starkly in black and white. I was 19, tucked comfortably into college life, when Obama was elected. I had seen him speak months earlier in the Boston Common and he brought with him a hope that both Conor and I failed to provide for ourselves. My friends and I joined in the celebration flooding that same Common before we headed across Tremont Street to record their radio show on WERS, where we streamed Obama’s victory speech on the air. As he told us at his triumphant show the next night at the Royale, and as I later saw on the cover of Outer South, Conor and the Mystic Valley Band were mere blocks away from me that night, celebrating the win with a dip in the fountain at the Christian Science Plaza. I was 23 and scared shitless when I moved 3,000 miles away from home to San Francisco. I didn’t have a job or an apartment or hardly any familiar faces but I had the most beautiful city in the world. That October I went to my very first Hardly Strictly Blues Festival, an annual free festival in Golden Gate Park that features a stage with an entire day’s schedule curated by Conor Oberst. After seven months of settling (more or less), it felt like the city was patting me on my back for taking such a brave leap. I was 25 when I drove across the country for the second time, acting second driver as a favor to my ex-boyfriend (and an excuse to see the country). We stopped in Omaha, Nebraska solely to visit Saddle Creek Records where I came face to face with the mirror from the cover of Fevers and Mirrors; the one that had been the focus of a lit paper I’d written just four years ago, the one on the album that I clutched while sobbing the first time I felt so outside of myself as a teen more than ten years prior. I was 26 and I found myself falling. State to state, job to job, relationship to relationship; Conor had been one of the few constants in my life for literally half of it. Thirteen years later and he was still there to catch me. I was 13 when we first met. Pimply and scraggly, not much has changed. But I know it wouldn’t have been the same without Conor Oberst.


Kate Voegele




here have always been two constants in my life: television and music. It wasn’t until One Tree Hill came along that I noticed both could go together. Right off the bat the soundtrack was killer, the underlying storyline of Peyton and her love of music spoke volumes to me, and I began to become so immersed in the whole thing that it was a little scary. But Season 5 started a new spark of introspective self-realization for me when a new character was introduced: Mia Catalano, played by Kate Voegele. There were lyrics to her songs that just resonated with little 18 year old me: “Well I could start discovering your world and I would make a damn good city girl. Things would start to bloom I’m sure…” As the person who was always in the background trying to figure out who she was and dealing with the ever-impending doom of college coming around, I was latching on to anything that would help me through the anxiety of all the stories I was playing in my head. It was the encouraging lines from songs like “Manhattan in the Sky” that made me realize the change up ahead was a good thing: leaving my small town for college wasn’t going to break me and I would figure out who I was there. Between the album on repeat in my car and the show that was constantly playing in the background of my life, I could relate her and her work to various facets of my life and it was comforting to have something to tie all those pieces together, even just a little bit during the chaos that was going from high school to college. It helped that there was (and still is) a song that I can tie to almost every moment in my life from her work. From “Only Fooling Myself” that reminds me of every guy I’ve ever had a thing for but never said anything to and let my imagination run wild instead, to “99 Times” that I can relate to any relationship where I’ve been lied to and finally decided to stand up for myself and move along. If I’m being honest, just A Fine Mess alone could be the title to my autobiography. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I noticed just how much of an influence music and the artists behind the lyrics could have on me. It wasn’t someone who was affecting me behind the scenes without my brain and heart even fully realizing it. Then my mid-20s came around and I started to put the pieces together to really figure out why music could move me in such ways and I started to analyze who those people were that were having this kind of impact on me. It’s crazy to think that for years someone like Kate was helping to form my life, my emotions, and helping me through some really tough times without me even realizing it. It’s like that friend you never knew you had until they were the only one there. There are some artists that I grew out of their music in some capacity as I’ve grown up and their earlier work just doesn’t resonate with me anymore. But “Kindly Unspoken” speaks to me and makes me cry just as much now as it did in 2007. Even though I’m a very different person than I was when I graduated from high school almost 10 years ago, there’s something intrinsic about her lyrics that has kept me grounded as I’ve grown up and helped partially mold me into what I am now. “Silence speaks louder than words. You’re lucky I’m clever if I didn’t know better I’d believe only that which I’d heard…”


pete wentz




hey say that 14 is the magic critical age where your musical taste as an individual really develops. When I was 14 years old, I drifted towards what we nostalgic folk call ‘the scene.’ And that’s how I found Fall Out Boy. I still recall the very first time I heard them – it was “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” over the speakers of an American Eagle dressing room. Ten years later, they still mean more to me than almost any artist that has influenced my life in one way or another. In all honesty, with the vocal talents that Patrick Stump displays, it’s a bit hard to turn your attention elsewhere. But any fan will tell you that there is immense inspiration stage left, in Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy’s bassist. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to explain who he is – my dad can rattle off just as many facts about Wentz as a fangirl can. The greatest uniting factor in this scene ultimately breaks down to this: we’re all a little different. We like different music than the norm. And that is totally okay. Better than okay actually. No one exudes this uniting force more than Wentz. If one were to compile a list of all of the amazing artists that have worked with Wentz and Fall Out Boy, or that were influenced in their success by him, that list would be quite long. Through his record label DCD2, formerly Decaydance, Wentz has created a platform of artists supporting other artists. Bands like Panic! at the Disco, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, The Cab, and more recently New Politics – all nurtured or aided by Wentz in some way. In the industry, Wentz has never been just a cog in the machine. Just because Fall Out Boy has massive exposure doesn’t mean that Wentz will play by any other rules than his own. He’s a voice and a face for those who like different things. He is authentic to the core, and it reflects in himself and the music. There will hopefully always be authentic artists who stand out from the crowd for us to identify our own experience with. People who can shape the minds of the young in their own image, not the image of the machine. After my first Fall Out Boy show, I was floored by their energy and creativity. It flooded from the stage out into the crowds – the energy was so palpable and we were bonded by the love of this incredible pop-rock music. No one on that stage claimed to be anything other than what they were – outsiders with a love of the alternative. Wentz climbed up the rafting of the outdoor stage with his bass strapped to his back. He was fire, and it was catching all around. Just when the energy couldn’t get any higher, Wentz took to the mic to acknowledge the crowd. I remember him talking about how we were all wallflowers, but at least we have a passion so immense that we create our own force strong enough to cover the world. The exact same thoughts that I had been thinking, only on a platform for everyone to hear. Even at huge festivals when it might get him in trouble, Pete Wentz still makes it a point to get those inspiring words across – “it’s totally okay that I’m a little bit weird.”


christina aguilera




ophomore albums are the chance for reinvention or possibly a declaration of who you truly are. In 2002, Christina Aguilera released Stripped, an album that defined and redefined my outlook on music and myself as a person. As a fan of The New Mickey Mouse Club, I was captivated by Christina when I was merely 5 years old. A tiny girl with a big voice, when she broke onto the scene in 1999 with her self-titled album, she was automatically pinned against her former cast member, Britney Spears. The two women couldn’t be more different. Britney was an entertainer with a decent voice who brought an indescribable spark on stage. Christina was all about her voice, both vocally and with her message. Her first album debuted at number one, surprising everyone, and she went on to win the Best New Artist Grammy. That album had R&B influences but ultimately was a pretty straight down the middle pop album that was distinct because of Christina’s mature, smoky vocal ability. After being trapped in this persona of the pretty blonde girl, she wanted to separate herself even more from the pop world. Enter Stripped. I was 14 when Stripped came out. I remember being taught that it was improper and “bad” to advocate for Christina because of the “Dirrty” video. The sweet girl who only hinted at sexuality from “Genie in a Bottle” was gone and now she was rolling around half naked in a shower and *gasp* there was a rapper in the music video too!!! But despite the backlash, I still came to her defense. The title Stripped would imply a record with no frills and gimmicks and the truth is, it is filled with them. The production is rich and she bounces between all genres from the R&B in “Walk Away” to the hip hop of “Can’t Hold Us Down” to the Latin-influenced “Infatuation” to the pure rock that is “Fighter.” But there are moments of genuine rawness with “Beautiful” and “I’m OK.” That’s not what this album is about though. The title Stripped (accompanied by a topless Christina on the album cover) was always about exposing the real Christina, the one that was hiding behind all the bubblegum pop marketing. The reason this album was important in my development is that it was my first taste of what feminism is. Christina Aguilera has always been someone, despite her massive talents, who was judged based on her looks. She was too slutty, too fat, wore too much makeup. The thing I respected most about her was she clearly didn’t give a fuck. Instead, she pushed forward with the confidence in her abilities and her determination to be the best. In one interview, she was asked what she would be doing if she wasn’t a singer. She didn’t understand the question. There was nothing else she could do. In return, she created one of the best pop albums ever. An album that I leaned on a lot in all emotional states. I remember every time I felt alone, I would sit in my room, put on my headphones and listen to “The Voice Within.” “Young girl don’t cry / I’ll be right here when your world starts to fall.” I believed that to my very core. Stripped made me feel empowered and vulnerable, and it inspired me to work toward exposing myself a bit more...and being ok to share that with the world. Today, it serves as my ultimate mic drop any time anyone attempts to bad mouth Christina Aguilera. You listen to that album and there is no denying the depth of her talent. It weaves through all these genres but still acts as a cohesive entity. The consistency is Christina’s voice, which is loud, clear, and 100% defined. We met the real Christina Aguilera with Stripped and it’s the greatest gift the pop world ever received.


What is roc 43

“Nick! Focus. Focus on this. And not eating.” Julia admonishes her bandmate for going after the ubiquitous green room hummus when we first start chatting. Nick defends himself, saying he was only going to open it and not eat it, and the two of them giggle before we regroup. All three of them, in one way or another, seem like a kid you grew up with. Jacob Faber (drummer) is reserved, tired from jet lag, intermittently injecting thoughtful comments into the conversation. Julia Cumming (vocals, bass) is all smiles and extremely polite, almost like a combination of Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club,” respectively. Nick Kilven (guitar, vocals) is like my little brother; he has a boyish drawl to his speech and laughs when recounting his old stories, constantly distracted by the snack display in the green room. Even before I had talked to them, I knew that Sunflower Bean was a band that understood and genuinely appreciated music, especially if it’s live and it’s rock. The first time I brushed shoulders with the band was at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, where I was shooting DIIV. I was late to the show and managed to shoot two songs worth from Sunflower Bean. I staked out a good spot to shoot DIIV near the front of the small club and mid-set, a velvet clad Julia Cumming danced her way to the front, dancing more enthusiastically than everyone else around me. She exuded youthful energy and genuine passion for rock and live music, waving her blunt, bleach blonde hair around to shoegaze guitar music. As young as Julia, Jacob, and Nick are, they are as informed - if not more so - about music than veterans of the industry. They can look to old influences and new as a young, internet-savvy band out of New York City. They’re not even of legal drinking age yet, but their musical influence obviously stretches across generations. Upon first listens, it’s obvious the band looks to The Velvet Underground and various elements of classic rock for inspiration, but laced between their inquisitive, introspective tracks are elements are harmonic, melodic, witchy pop which makes their ‘rock n roll’ sound new and refreshing. Sunflower Bean are not and never claimed to be bringing rock n roll back, but they are certainly making it damn cool again.

ck and roll WHAT IS ROCK AND ROLL Julia: Rock n roll is freedom. I think that’s what rock n roll means to me. It’s how I grew up, what my parents showed me, what I got into later on. I think it’s interesting because we’re not living in the time where rock is the sound of the generation or of the rebels. It’s different now. I don’t think rock music is about nostalgia or needs to make a resurgence. I think playing instruments live, and making music with instruments that are relevant and + PHOTOS JOYCE JUDE LEE exciting are cool. I think that’s what we’re tryingWORDS to do. Not be a coverBY band.



“Nick! Focus. Focus on this. And not eating.” Julia admonishes her bandmate for going after the ubiquitous green room hummus when we first start chatting. Nick defends himself, saying he was only going to open it and not eat it, and the two of them giggle before we regroup. All three of them, in one way or another, seem like a kid you grew up with. Jacob Faber (the drummer) is reserved, tired from jet lag, intermittently injecting thoughtful comments into the conversation. Julia Cumming (vocals, bass) is all smiles and extremely polite, almost like a combination of Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club,” respectively. Nick Kilven (guitar, vocals) is like my little brother; he has a boyish drawl to his speech and laughs when recounting his old stories, constantly distracted by the snack display in the green room. Even before I talked to them, I knew that Sunflower Bean was a band that understood and genuinely appreciated music, especially if it’s live and it’s rock. The first time I brushed shoulders with the band was at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, where I was shooting DIIV. I was late to the show and managed to shoot two songs worth from Sunflower Bea, who were opening. I staked out a good spot near the front of the small club and mid-set, a velvet clad Julia Cumming danced her way to the front, dancing more enthusiastically than everyone else around me. She exuded youthful energy and genuine passion for rock and live music, waving her blunt, bleach blonde hair around to shoegaze guitar music. As young as Julia, Jacob, and Nick are, they are as informed - if not more so - about music as veterans of the industry. They can look to old influences and new as a young, internet-savvy band out of New York City. They’re not even of legal drinking age yet, but their musical influence obviously stretches across generations. Upon first listens, it’s obvious the band looks to The Velvet Underground and various elements of classic rock for inspiration, but laced between their inquisitive, introspective tracks are elements of harmonic, melodic, witchy pop which makes their ‘rock n roll’ sound new and refreshing. Sunflower Bean are not and never claimed to be bringing rock n roll back, but they are certainly making it damn cool again.


“Your idols exist in your mind for a reason, as the unattainable. They inspire you.�



Julia: Rock and roll is freedom. I think that’s what rock and roll means to me. It’s how I grew up, what my parents showed me, what I got into later on. I think it’s interesting because we’re not living in the time where rock is the sound of the generation or of the rebels. It’s different now. I don’t think rock music is about nostalgia or needs to make a resurgence. I think playing instruments live, and making music with instruments that are relevant and exciting, is cool. I think that’s what we’re trying to do. Not be a cover band.


Nick: I think that the [stereotype of a] rock star is completely irrelevant. Because there is no money in music anymore. I think rock is more of an art form. When people talk about rock stars, they usually have a corny image in their head. Jacob: Like an image of Led Zeppelin getting off a plane. Nick: Or like Poison. A dude with long hair and a bandana. There are definitely no rock stars anymore. Except Mac DeMarco [laughs]. We have fun sometimes. We have nights out. If you have to wake up at 8 am and drive to Ohio the next day from Washington DC, you don’t drink that night. I think being in the industry, it just won’t tolerate that kind of debauchery anymore that happened in the 70s. With the internet, it’s just not the same anymore. It’s not how rock music used to be. It’s person by person.


Nick: There are so many factors why rock music was so dangerous back then. Some people were just monsters and now we glorify them. Julia: I think the anonymity of the past, or the pre-internet world, is something we don’t really know. We do worship these people because that was the image that was perpetuated out of that time. A lot of the weirder stuff doesn’t live forever on the web. Now you have to give your whole self to the people, in the media, just to stay in the game. I think it’s different. I think it’s okay for idols to not be real people. Your idols exist in your mind for a reason, as the unattainable. They inspire you. They don’t have to be real. It’s what they represent. It’s what they give you strength to do because you think of




Follow Sunflower Bean: twitter.com/Sunflower_Bean facebook.com/SunflowerBean sunflowerbean.bandcamp.com


them as super humans. I don’t want to know, I don’t need to know everything about Iggy Pop. But I do now!


Jacob: When I was very young, my dad always played me music. The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones. Julia: One of my earliest, earliest memories of music is of me wanting to be The Beatles. I was 3 years old. I always wondered why, why all the Beatles were singing about girls; I want to sing the songs but I don’t want to sing about girls. Nick: My parents bought me a bunch of CDs from a garage sale when I was 7. They liked music, but they were like not crazy about music, they were...mid-level into music. They’re not like Julia’s dad, he’s really into music. The first CD I really loved… I remember getting a Ramones compilation CD from my dad. I remember it so clearly, it was called Ramones Mania, and it had a yellow cover, and on the back it had newspaper clippings of big red letters on a big poster. And it was so punk rock. It called to me. I swear to god. I love album covers.


Julia: We learn a lot from traveling, a slew of life lessons touring. Patience is a big one. Keeping yourself together. Touring is like getting to run away from adult things at home, like the real stuff that happens. You’re also living a nomadic life as well and you’re waking up, then getting to the show and then playing a show and then going to bed and you do it again the next day. On this last tour, I made a million mistakes. My phone broke, a thing took my ATM card, I got my email hacked and you still have to be an adult and take care of yourself. Nick: You have to do stuff for other people when you get home from a tour, cause when you’re on tour, a lot of time is spent mooching off others. Like sleeping at people’s houses and imposing on people in different ways. So when you get back home, you have to have

a house guest or something. You also have to bring a lot of books and download a lot of music before you leave. You definitely have to bring a lot of socks. And you have to bring two pairs of shoes. Just in case. And bring two guitars too. Julia: I definitely think that being smart and learning is really important. I think keeping up with that stuff is really important as an artist. I don’t think that not knowing stuff or not going to school is cool. But I think that if you have a chance to give something a shot, then you might as well give it everything. Especially in this field, even though we’re doing work, it’s work that we like to do. For us the most amazing work that you can imagine. I think we’ve all been playing music since we were 14 or 15; it doesn’t feel really fast. It’s just been incredible and amazing.


Nick: I think it’s a weird medium. I think there are a lot of things specific to pop music...but rock music....I think have the highest replay value out of any genre. I think with movies or artwork, a lot of people make their best work well into their career or when they’re older. But with rock, there is something so youthful and primal about rock music. Artists usually make their best work earlier in their careers. It’s a primal, youthful artform. The shortness of a song and the shortness of an album compared to a movie or a novel or a painting makes it special. I can listen, and I have listened to some albums 500 times. But I’ve never seen a movie 500 times. Julia: I think it’s the idea of people playing live together. The possibility of improvisation, the possibility of failure. I think with music or art, I like things that are genuine or authentic, pretty or ugly. I think it’s important that it comes from a very real place. I get that more from watching people play rock music live than I do with hip hop or...I’m going to start sounding like a grandma...but hip hop or Skrillex.


How do you get things done when you have a deadline but don’t have any motivation? Get off the internet. It seems easy and simplistic but when I procrastinate, I find ways to fuck around online and if you cut that out that’s already a great starting point. I read a story about an author, who I can’t remember who it was now, but he has a shitty old laptop that has no internet on it and he glued the ethernet cable into the ethernet jack so he couldn’t use it. If there’s no way to get on the internet then there’s no way to get distracted. Coffee is always good, too. But not too much coffee. I just like coffee. Setting goals and giving yourself rewards. So if I work for an hour and a half, I get a coffee! What advice to do have for someone in their mid-twenties who is feeling discouraged? This is advice that I think applies to someone at any age but something I realized in my mid-twenties: Don’t get too caught in the immediate emotions of the moment. I think in general emotions, especially negative emotions, tend to fade with time. If you give those emotions too much power in the moment that can lead to further discouragement, depression, or darkness. Life is pretty long. Don’t let the moment-tomoment things rule you. How do you decide whether you should keep trying or when it’s time to move on? That’s a great question! ...I don’t know! It depends on so many scenarios. I would say, if it’s financially feasible and you really want to keep doing it -- keep doing it until it’s no longer financially feasible. That’s the pragmatic way of looking at it. Any tips for someone who hates flying but wants to travel? The rate of dying on a plane ride in Western country is 1 in 25 million; that is really, really small. If you want to get a piece of paper and write down, in decimal form, what 1 in 25 million is -- I don’t even know how many zeros that would be. It’s not going to happen. Make sure you get a lot of sleep before your flight. Load a bunch of TV shows on your iPad. Airplane technology is an incredible and wonderful thing; don’t let your worse fears get the best of you. Is there such thing as having too many projects? Absolutely. There can be too many projects if you don’t have enough time to be happy with your work. If you’re not giving the project the appropriate attention, then you’re letting that project down.


Follow Baio: twitter.com/OIAB facebook.com/BAIOdj baiobaio.com



Exploration IS... “Exploration is to be challenged. You learn about yourself, better yourself, and in the end hopefully find some self understanding.”

- Oh Wonder



“Knowledge, finding out about yourself, self-exploration, and trying to get yourself to be the best self you can possibly be. Just making sure you do everything you possibly can before you die. “

- KLOE 56

the-radical.com Š 2016

Profile for THE RADICAL


Issue #6 ft Låplsey


Issue #6 ft Låplsey