ERIK HASSLE VNDL | ISSUE 5
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ÂŠ2014 VNDL Magazine All rights of this publication are reserved by VNDL Magazine. All artwork is copyright of the contributing artists and may not be reproduced without their explicit permission. This publication cannot be reproduced electronically, digitally, in printed or any other form, format or media without the explicit written permission and approval.
Victoria Estevez firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor in Chief Gavin Thomas email@example.com Creative Director Kate Bauer firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director Trevor Gilley email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Art: Alexandra Levasseur Model: Wiktoria Ziaja Photographers: Thomas Bouquin, Andrea Cencini, Dustin Cohen, Kyle Dorosz, Trevor Gilley, GORSAD, Steph Mill, Artem Nadyozhin, Gavin Thomas, Miguel Soll, Joseph Whalley Writers: Ashley Canino, Izzy Church, Victoria Estevez, Eve Reinhardt, Erin Shea Wardrobe Stylist: Maddalena Lanzarini
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ERIK HASSLE VNDL | ISSUE 5
Cover Credits Erik Hassle Shot in Brooklyn, NY
CONTRIBUTORS Eve Reinhardt
Eve Reinhardt is a New York based photographer. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, she received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002, and spent additional time studying Photography, Journalism and English at Pierce College, CA. Before becoming a full-time photographer, Eve worked extensively in television, news, theater and documentary production and volunteered for global health and development organizations in New York City.
Trevor Gilley is a photographer based in New York City. The warm, humanistic quality native to Trevor’s work reflects his ongoing commitment to learn about and understand his subjects. With this perspective in mind and his camera in hand, Trevor employs photography as a means to document his travels and share these experiences with his audience. In effect, photojournalism is Trevor’s means of reconciling the unique and common traits between all of us.
Gavin Thomas, born and raised in a small town outside of Rochester, NY. He is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and has been shooting in NYC since 2008. Gavin’s work has appeared all around the world from Japan and Hong Kong to Australia and numerous outlets thru Europe. He takes pride in having long-standing working relationships with his clients. Using both digital and analog cameras Gavin has a bold and energetic style that is sure to capture his subject’s emotions. He is available for assignment worldwide.
From Maryland. Loves Polaroids and the Baltimore Ravens. Resides in Brooklyn, NY.
A lover of independent music, movies and thoughts Victoria has been trying to find innovative and unique ways to tell stories since she can remember.
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MADISON LST Words: Izzy Church Photo: Dustin Cohen
I go by Madison | LST. The LST stands for Light Skin Trouble. I was originally born in Manhattan, but my family only lived here one year before we moved to Los Angeles, California. I moved back to New York in 2010 after graduating from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a really small private liberal arts school. I got the name “Light Skin Trouble” based on my antics at work and out at parties. I thought the name was so hilarious I even threw parties called Light Skin Trouble in the beginning. I would make these ridiculous flyers and invite all my friends to come out. The name didn’t become official though, till I decided to do this open mic night at the Nuyorican Poets Café. When they asked me what my name was I didn’t know what to say, so I just said LST. When I told them what it meant the audience exploded laughing. Still I wanted to go by my own name so I amended it to Madison | LST. When did you start spitting lyrics? In high school, but it stemmed from my childhood influences in a weird way. I grew up listening to Bob Marley & Michael Jackson. My dad had one Bob Marley greatest hits
album, which he would play all the time and my Mother was obsessed with Michael Jackson. I got interested in dancing because of Michael. I started dancing in high school and that’s when I got introduced to Hip Hop. I learned to beat box so I could practice dancing on my own. I never had an mp3 player. I would just be in between classes beat boxing and then practicing moves and stuff. I got so good at it that I was often asked to beat box at these rap battles. Finally, my friends started being like “Madison, you gotta spit!” And I kept saying, “Nah, I can’t do it,” but they kept pushing me to rap. Eventually, I gave in and it was such a rush. I was immediately addicted to it. I started writing raps from then on. Tell me a little bit about your new album “Oblivion.” You worked with three different producers: JFK, Prafit, and Tony Dex. Can you tell me about that process? What was it like working with them? Oblivion is my first project- it evolved over a long period of time. JFKis a really close friend of mine, and is a producer based out of Pasadena, California. We basically built the foundation for what I’m doing now together. He produced five VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 15
songs on the project: Can’t Hang, Lean On, Give Me The World, Who Knows & Even When It Hurts. I recorded my first serious song with him, Who Knows, straight out of college. I met up with JFK and told him I had had this song for a while now, but I still didn’t have a beat for it. He sat down and produced the beat, right there in front of me, in his, at the time, makeshift recording studio. I also work with producer, Tony Dex, who I met in Paris. He produced three tracks on the album; Do Right, Raincheck and Coming Up. Last but not least is Prafit- who has got to be one of the hardest working, and most dedicated producers I know. He produced the album’s title track Oblivion, as well as, Didn’t Like It. In addition to my producers there’s, Nick von Gremp, who has been my partner in building the LST brand from the ground up. He was the first person to ever book me for a show in NY, and has booked me nearly every show since. He’s been here with me, side by side, from start to finish on Oblivion, making the decisions and carrying the weight of the production and business along with me. And finally, you have my brother, Justin Stewart. He recently moved to New York to be my manager and work more closely on the LST brand. Aside from the production and the business of this album, Oblivion also features some amazing talents like: singer Kiah Victoria, who sang the huge hook on, The World. Singer Drew Vision and rapper/vocalist Le’asha Julius from Quincy Vidal who harmonized on Do Right, as well as singer Highly Supreme who laced some big accompanying vocals on Lean On. I’ve already started work on a follow up project with a talented producer friend of mine, Benwa Rebel. We’ve been building a home studio together and working closely as a producer team. We have so much in the works. You can absolutely expect to see his name a lot in the future. What is your writing process like? How has it changed over the years? Depending on what the beat is like or what time of day it is or what my mood is- my style changes. A lot of the time I’ll mumble a melody to the song and then I’ll slowly come up with the lyrics. Other times I’ll be super excited about the beat and I’ll write the lyrics straight through to the end and then I’ll think, “How did I write that so fast?” While other days I’m fighting through the process of getting each line down. It’s really different every time, I have songs where I’ve started in the middle and then I write the first line, next I write two lines in the 16 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
chorus, and later a line at the end. It ends up being like a puzzle rather than a straight piece. I try not to stop myself, especially when I’m coming up with something I’ve never done before. I try to stay open to all pathways of expressing myself. What is it like being an independent artist today? Are you currently looking for a label or do you prefer being independent? When I first started, the only formula I knew of was to make music and then get signed by a record label. It wasn’t until I began speaking with other artists & people who had more experience in the music industry that I began to appreciate being independent. I now feel like labels can take you backwards because they say things like, “This is what works. This is what sells.” I have friends who are working with labels and they have been working on songs for years and none of their songs are out yet. Then some kid in the middle of nowhere puts out a hit song on YouTube and no one told him what to do or how to do it. The song just blows up. It’s because it connected with the people. Being independent is really cool. It allows you to break through to an audience that a label might be scared of going after because they can’t see the formula for it and don’t want to put their money behind it. The way I understand it is that with labels you need to have bargaining chips. Having talent doesn’t add up to having bargaining chips anymore because the label can make you famous with or without talent. Lets face it, if they put enough money behind them and enough flashing lights and plenty of promotion the artist will stick. The one bargaining chip you can use with a label is an audience. If you create a large audience for yourself you don’t necessarily need them. They have the connection to the distribution, but if people are buying your image and your brand then you created a way to work with them rather the label being owned by it. Do you have a favorite song on the new album? Or one that is more meaningful to you? Pretty much every song on the album is my favorite song. It just depends on what day it is. Every song means so much to me. In Can’t Hang, I meant every word I said, one hundred percent. I wrote it while I was waiting for a connecting flight back to the States from Istanbul. It was 4am and I was thinking back on everything I’ve been through, the music process itself and how many levels of whatever
you have to got to go through to get to the other side. How many people, positive and negative you have to interact with on any given day. And all the up’s and down’s. I wrote that song, just thinking, it doesn’t matter what it takes… I’m going to make it to the other side. Lean On is another great song. I wrote that song during my short time working in the service industry. I learned how much of an emotional black hole a place like that can be if you get sucked into the wrong job. So many people feel like they’re trapped, working day after day, just to make ends meet in a place where they don’t even care about what they’re doing. It’s really a difficult position to be in. There’s nothing wrong with working in the service industry; especially if that’s you’re passion. However, so many people work there because they want to pursue their dream as an actor, musician, and or dancer, but they end up getting trapped in this loop where they are working so much that they can barely find time for what they wanted to do in the first place. Lean On is about the people who get you through those times and places when you feel stuck. Your friends who are there for you, and back you up; it’s a song about that experience. I feel like I’ve always had a great group of friends who’ve helped see me through to the other side of hard situations and crazy mind states caused by all kinds of problems, and struggling to make a living is one of the toughest. Are you ever completely satisfied with your work? It’s a difficult task to make the products of your imagination match the end product of your work. Your imagination can run wild. You think it is going to sound one way and then it ends up sounding completely different. It’s such a crazy experience. It’s a wild practice to bring sounds to life and into reality. It’s the same struggle for all artists and anyone who is spending time creating anything. In a way you will never be satisfied, but in another way, what you create is kind of perfect, in that it represents where you were and everything that was going on for you at the time. It represents all the work that you and everyone else put in at that moment. It’s just this symbol of creative belief that keeps you going and going. I think that I’ve learned a lot. I’ll think, “this is the best I could do today, with all the different things going on.” I think, “this is dope for what it is,” and just accept it. It’s kind of like accepting yourself. It could always be different. You could keep fighting for this idea you have in your head, by thinking “it’s not there yet,” but it’s like this… In the beginning, everything you do takes you so far,
but when you get close to completing a song, everything changes. It becomes a never-ending goal. Sometimes you have to say “it’s done.” I think my team and I did a great job and that people are going to be really excited about it. Besides, it’s subjective; you might not be totally pleased, but someone else may think it’s perfect. Who is your musical inspiration? I draw inspiration from so many places. I can get inspiration from one verse, in a song, and not like anything else done by that artist. I might like their cadence or how they chose to be melodic because it opens a new window for me that I didn’t even know existed. It’s crazy; everyone expresses themselves differently because of their perception. They’ve had different experiences than you, and so what may seem obvious to them could blow your mind, but it’s hard to be influenced by any one person. I have so many inspirations: Artists like, Kendrick, J. Cole, and Drake. I think Drake is really intelligent in the way that he speaks to his audience. Chance The Rapper is out of control the way he bends and breaks the rules of English, let alone rap. He doesn’t stop himself from doing anything, he just does it and there is something inspiring about that. Growing up I listened to Eminem, Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Ludacris, Fabolous, and then the South popped off. Everyone was turning to the South because their melody, slang, and accents were so wild. Man, there are a lot of different people, it’s really hard to pin point it exactly. My ears are always open, even with out paying explicit attention. Everything I come in contact with affects me in ways that I hope to utilize in my music. Best advice anyone has ever given you. If I had written down all the things I’ve been told that blew my mind, or that I needed to hear at the time, I could write a book. Something that I think is really important off the top of my head is: Don’t spend all your time comparing yourself to people who have been in the game so much longer than you. Sometimes, I’ll be in my room comparing myself with people who’ve been at it for years, but when I really think about it, I start to realize that I’m competing with people with much more money and much bigger teams. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t be in the same spot as them one day, especially if I keep my heart in it. (Continued on page 110) VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 17
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TYSON MEADE Words: Eve Reinhardt Photos: Gavin Thomas
IN A PREVIOUS LIFE, SINGER/SONGWRITER TYSON MEADE OF THE CHAINSAW KITTENS INSPIRED BANDS LIKE NIRVANA AND SMASHING PUMPKINS, AND IS KNOWN TO HISTORY AS THE GODFATHER OF ALTERNATIVE MUSIC. DECADES AFTER THE KITTENS, MEADE HAS BEEN REINVENTED AND LIVES A LIFE PROFOUNDLY INFLUENCED BY LESSONS LEARNED, A LOVE FOR ADVENTURE AND ROADS LESS TRAVELED.
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But it was a one-way ticket to China—a move meant to signal a clean break from music altogether—that ended up bringing him back to the music and the industry he left behind. But this time, new album in tow, he’s calling all the shots.
You ended up going to China to leave music behind, only to re-discover music in a whole new way, and through one of your students in China, a violin player named Haffijy, who you later played with and featured on your new album, Tomorrow In Progress. Can you talk about that?
When did you realize you wanted to be musician?
I had been writing music but I wasn’t thinking about making a record again until I met Haffijy. He used to come to my office and ask me English questions, and then one day his teacher said, “Oh this young man plays violin.” And so the next day he brought it in and played and I was just like, Wow. That was the thing that launched my thought process. So I wrote this song and we recorded it on my Mac, and when I played it for friends they were like, “Oh my God, why are you not making music?” And I was like, “I don’t know!”
I always knew. That was my dream. And I didn’t think anyone could be a singer, but at some point I heard The New York Dolls on The Midnight Special and that’s when I realized, that’s what I want to do. Who were your earliest influences? The Beatles and Janice Joplin. When Pearl came out—which was huge when I was nine or ten years old because she had just died— Janice, hearing her, how big her voice was, I was like, I want that! Could you have ever predicted that you’d end up moving to Los Angeles and playing with The Chainsaw Kittens? No not at all. As a small town kid, no. I never thought that I would be in a band that made a bunch of records and that people would actually write about. But what happened was exactly what had happened to some of the bands that never got any proper attention when I was a kid. You’ve received so much praise over the years for your role in music. You’ve even been called the godfather of alternative music, so why don’t you think you guys got the same recognition as other bands? I think some of it is because the gay thing was really a deal-breaker for big radio. People all around us were having hits, but for some reason we were just too threatening. You are considered a major gay icon. What does that mean to you and is that an important distinction in your public life or personal life? I think it is now. Before, I just wrote about it and talked to people about it. And I wasn’t hiding from it —I wasn’t in the closet by any stretch—but I kind of thought, ‘You know, I don’t want to be a cheerleader for anybody. I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school and I don’t want to be a cheerleader now.’ But now I’m like fuck that, I’m going to let everybody know, and where the cards fall it doesn’t matter because I will not be like a second-class citizen. 20 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
What is the difference between making an album now vs. back in the 80s or 90s? Do you notice a big difference? Oh yeah. All of the fences have been knocked down. So much is different. The old process I miss, but the way that I was able to do this album I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a really huge budget back in the day, and back in the day the record companies had you where they wanted you. But now, you don’t need a record company. What would be your advice to other musicians trying to make their way? My advice has always been to be true to who you are. Don’t do anything for the money. So what do you dream about now? Your life must have profoundly changed now that you’ve made this album. My goal was to make a statement, to come back and have a record that was undeniable, a record that I really loved—and I’ve made that. Musically, one of my big dreams is to involve high school orchestras and bands and go from high school to high school and have each orchestra or band interpret my songs, so that every time I play it will be different, it will never ever be the same. But my ultimate dream is to have a boys home. There is a need for it, and I want to try to make some sort of difference. As an artist, what do you feel is important to write about now at this stage of your life, and how has your experience in China influenced that? (Continued on page 110)
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THE DARCYS Words: Ashley Canino Photos: Gavin Thomas
THE DARCYS’ ALBUM TRILOGY MANAGES TO DEFINE THEM AND RENDER THEIR NEXT STEPS LIMITLESS. THEY ARE WILLING TO EXPLORE ANYTHING FROM STEELY DAN, TO DRAKE, TO A TOTALLY BARE BONES AESTHETIC. WES MARSKELL [DRUMS] TALKS ABOUT THE EVOLUTION FROM THE DARCYS TO WARRING, AND HOW THE BAND DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM SIMPLICITY AND THE RADIO.
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Do the three records of your trilogy [The Darcys, Aja, and Warring] fall on any sort of spectrum? We recorded Aja at our house and so, and not had we finished Warring, we wanted to find an interesting way to release the record. And the songs from Warring have been around, sort of, from the beginning. Or a lot of the songs had been. And we used our time to grow and to understand how to play music and to record, and to perform over the course of the first two records as a way of being prepared for creating and releasing warring. So I think that the trilogy works in that linear way where the __ record we just learned how to be a bad, and then on Aja we sort of learned how to record, and we learned how to use synthesizers and all of these other utility objects, instead of just playing guitar in a rock band. And then when it came time and we had the budget and we had the producer and we had the right mindset we went and made warring. So I think that’s how that trilogy works together. They were all woven together in a progressive way so that they landed on this final record. And that was the trilogy in our minds when we decided to announce it. We had, like, two-thirds of it completed when we announced the first record and Warring was already in its early stages of— we didn’t know really how else to portray the records. And they felt like they were very well connected in that sense. Could you speak to the dichotomies you’re addressing on Warring? And then I guess the dichotomy of Warring and the struggle was just about, still about that growth. We like the idea of almost as the band being this sort of subtle art project where it really grew publicly. And we created and took risks and failed very openly. And that was sort of the transition between the first two records. We’ve also gone through this struggle of overcoming the loss of somebody who seemed very prominent in the band to the outside, but wasn’t so much so from the inside. And, you know, coming to terms with the fact that it’s very difficult to make those sorts of decisions and to let go of somebody that was there from an early point. And then having to go on, continuously justifying your actions and your desires to move on. And a lot of people just told us that we should quit, or do something else. You know part of me sometimes wonders if it would have been smarter to put out the self-titled record and then close off that chapter of the band and do something different. But it was all about that growth and that struggle to keep the project alive. Also making a record 34 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
like Warring in today’s musical climate is very difficult because it not the standard single and it’s not a big push to radio. Then also the blogs like Pitchfork hadn’t really caught on to our band. We knew that going in, because we had released two records beforehand, so trying to make what feels like a concept record at a time when the industry was driven by singles—and careers are driven by singles—it was a difficult choice, but something we really wanted to do. And sort of close a cycle for us and allow us what feels like a blank slate moving forward. Has the release and reception of Warring had an effect on how you or family and friends see the band? I definitely think that the project has been legitimized over the course of the last year. We were nominated for a Juno [Award] in Canada, which is like a Grammy, which is very legitimizing nationally for us, and rewarding and exciting. The people close to us always knew the reality of what we were doing. When we started we came out to tour with really big bands and played really big shows, so that was always exciting. But there has been a lot of growth over the last year and I think that’s been rewarding but also it identifies the positives and negatives of a project like ours—the realities moving forward of the things we need to make and paths we need to choose to see what makes sense to do next. We’re in an interesting place because as much as the records are very much our records, I feel like they are all a bit different and I think we’re permitted, unlike most bands, to just do whatever we want on the next record. That’s exciting, but also scary because we’re not walking from a formula, we’re sort of making it up as we go. Covers make up a large part of The Darcy’s discography than what is typical. What has your experience been approaching covers? With Aja, we had finished [The Darcys] and didn’t have a release for it. We wanted to continue on, but we didn’t feel like it was the right time to push ourselves into writing our own songs because I think we felt a little bit stagnant, that we just would make volume two of that first record. We wanted to go out and tackle something that would allow us to grow and to change, and also be exciting to the outside world. Some people were really excited about it and other people were pissed off. We knew going in to covering a record like Aja how much controversy would be surrounding it. I was getting death threats in
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my email and people were very, very upset. People would come to shows and we toured it a little bit, in New York and Philly, the east coast of the U.S. and Canada. There would be old guys who would come with Steely Dan t-shirts on and 50% of them would walk out in a huff and the other 50% were very excited about the nuance that we had brought to their favorite record. It was an activity in growth, but it was also a bit of fun that way because people know the songs immediately or at least a lot of people did. And then there’s the exciting part too where a record like Aja is something so canonical in the music world, not so much so to the 18-25 year olds that listen to The Darcys. So it was interesting for them to hear [our] record first then go backwards and hear the Steely Dan record. The subject matter was really fun for us to go after. So now when we move forward covering things, sometimes it’s about staying active, staying busy, trying to do something different and understand a different world. Like the Drake cover that we did started as a remix and then kept evolving. It seemed like it would be a fun thing to put out on Valentine’s Day. As 36 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
the covers and the remixes blur together, and we approach them differently, it gives you a lot of freedom to try new things. When it’s not your song there’s a lot of pressure and scrutiny that goes into our original songs that we don’t necessarily engage with when it comes to covering a song. So it’s allowed us freedom to have a little fun doing takes and interpretations of other people’s work. Tell us about the writing process for The Darcy’s original material. Usually it starts with a computer and either a beat or a very simple melody. Then we try to— more so in the recent past—we’ve been trying to build songs structurally on piano or guitar. The finished product of the self-titled record is a bit more manic sounding than Warring. The actual process was reversed and a lot of editing and the learning for the self-titled record was a band in a room where we sort of wrote them as guitar or piano songs and then built upon them to try to find the best way to portray the lyrics or the melody, or whatever it was. And I remember with “The Pacific Theatre,” we had this massive symphonic arrangement of that
song and every day in the studio we would delete another track and it just ended up being this piano song that seemed to work like that, and that was really exciting for us. [We have] a lot of revolving melodies and parts and sections and we’re trying to fit them into the best place. If we love something, sometimes it’s best to take it away. If this part’s way better than the rest of it, you take that part out and save it for something else, and then all of a sudden the song starts to have clarity and it shifts, so it’s a lot of moving parts and ideas. It’s like a patchwork at first until we can manage to put the whole thing together. Usually at that point we re-record the entire thing as a demo, in its final light. Is the process similar for something more conceptual, like “Hymn for a Missing Girl?” That was a fucking headache in itself. It was awesome and rewarding and we were really excited about the response to it. But trying to tell yourself that you’re going to make a twenty minute song that is engaging for twenty minutes is a disaster emotionally. Jason [Couse] and I—we did a lot of the work on the project— were at odds with it and with each other, trying to sort out exactly how we were going to do it. It got to the point where we were like, “We don’t have to be friends when this is over, but we have to finish doing this because we said we would do it.” We sketched that out, sort of like a painting— we drew the lines then we started to work on certain areas and build it up from there. Then we broke it up into sections and found a way to reconnect the parts after individualizing them. The big thing for us was we wanted to make a true to us concept record and if we knew that if we broke it down into singles and sections that they would be isolated and people would take one or two, instead of hearing it in its entirety. Twenty minutes, you don’t want to listen to it fine you don’t have to. But if you are willing to, then you’re going to get it how it’s supposed to be. I’m actually surprised how many people have listened to and downloaded it, because we just put it up on iTunes. The vinyl went crazy fast. Seeing that has changed our opinion on output and ideas, maybe polarizing our releases and going down that road strongly—doing these really weird, interesting ideas, then doing more refined, articulate songs instead of pushing them together into a gray area where maybe Warring fits a little bit more.
What drives that penchant for a more minimalist sound? Part of it is ego. I think that we’ve done a very specific thing and part of us wants to prove that we can write simplified pop songs--not necessarily with that pop sheen, but centralize and universalize melody, instead of just key changes and a number of different tempos and time signatures within songs, and doing stuff that we do in Warring and trying to just do something essential and see how that turns out. Maybe it will only live in the computer or in the demoing process and never make it to record, but the push right now is to see how good of a song we can make with as few elements as possible. If we do that Jason’s going to have to learn how to dance because he won’t be playing instruments. Is it in part a reaction to music you’re listening to? Who are your contemporary influences? We played Field Trip in June with Interpol, one of my favorite bands of all time. TV on the Radio is also one of my favorite bands and I think we all can agree on those records. But we’re very eclectic. Our interests are eclectic when separated and I think that’s what’s cool about having a band and not just being one or two people. Dave [Hurlow] loves rap, at least recently. Mike [Le Riche] is still—forever, the biggest Elliot Smith fan. It’s nice to bring all those different elements together. I’ve always envied bands like the Flaming Lips who have the ability to do a million things all at once. They’re one of our contemporary influences, minus the internet feud. Their work ethic and their ideas are constant and really interesting. That’s something we think about. What’s that Katy Perry song with the Sphinx sort of video? Dark Horse? Yeah. I’m not saying that this is a contemporary that I draw from. But I think that’s a very good song. I just heard that on the radio this morning and I was into it. Maybe I’m lightening up in my old age. I still like music like that, that—even though it is produced to the nines—it still has a very essential backbone, and it’s very simple. I think that’s something we’re trying to listen to more. Broadening our horizons as far as listening is concerned, as far as what’s out there. Just listening to what people are doing. We were very closed-minded before. We spent (Continued on page 108) VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 37
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ERIK HASSLE Words: Eve Reinhardt Photos: Kyle Dorosz
What are you the most excited about today? I played Washington and Philadelphia before this, and I have most of the people that I work with daily based in New York. So they’re going to come down — it’ going to be people from my label, my press people as well — so I guess that I’m excited to be a little extra good in front of them. Talk to me about your first love of music. It was The Lion King. The movie. I think it was not the actual soundtrack; I think it was all that African, tribal music, and the movie itself, the whole combination. I think I watched it 150 times. It was a musical experience for me, and then I found out later that the people that are doing the background vocals on that movie are the same people that are doing most of the background vocals for many of the soloists that I was going to discover later on, like Michael Jackson’s background singers and Whitney Houston’s — most of the guys who came up with all of the sounds and voices that I like. So that was my first music love for sure. But it was also so soulful, and it led me down a soulful path I think.
I was going to ask you that. Is that where your love for soul and becoming a soul musician really began? Yeah, but I was lucky to find some of the proper Motown singers pretty early. I just ran into them by coincidence, like Wilson Pickett records and Credence Clearwater and stuff. Because my friend’s dad had a rehearsal studio we found and listened to them and thought it was like, what the fuck. That’s when I fell in love with soul. But then I had all the people born in the late 80s. It was a weird era when it came to the pop scene. It was a lot of really hardcore rhythm/base, almost techno stuff that we grew up with, that was on the radio when I was a kid, so I have a very strong love of deep house and techno and everything that’s based on loops and repetitive rhythms and like small changes and minimal builds and stuff. And my thing is like with vocals, soul and techno — that blend is one of my favorite things. So tell me about your new album, Somebody’s Party: Well, after I was done with my previous album, VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 49
my manager asked me if I wanted to throw my head against the wall and tour that album for a year and try to build up a following around that type of music that I was doing OR if I wanted to, for the first time, try on my own wings over here and get into new scenarios where I would be by myself. Not, like, holding hands with the people that had been with me since I was young. And it really was the right time to do that. I didn’t know it but I had a lot of things to say at that time. I had a lot of stories that came out into songs, in my background — like memories, experiences, things I hadn’t really come to terms with. I came to America, to L.A., and I started writing with a guy who is now my brother and writing partner, and it was the first time I experienced music as therapeutic. I didn’t realize that I was doing anything different than any other time, but it was seven or eight songs into this, like, streak of writing for one week when I realized, Fuck — I’m writing about myself; I’m like looking down at myself for the first time, and I’m, like, totally entranced writing. Because it’s all coming from another place, you know, writing, and it was something like an out-of-body experience. It just came. That must have been a completely different and exciting experience for you musically. It was totally different. Because my experience before that was a lot more theoretical or much more, you know, trying to find the solution for what was right in the pop sense for the song, and that’s not really suitable for me as a person — I’m way too impulsive and restless. So when I found that, when I got help to find that way of writing, I felt like a new person, and I felt, like, Fuck, I AM a creative person. I live for making this stuff. So that was really revitalizing for me. What are you the most proud of with this new album? That thing. That I got to experience that thing. It sounds pretentious when I say it but when I get the kind of question, “What kind of music do you like?”, I usually say, music that I can sense, that have that thing, where the artist either reinvents himself or the artist gets to do a collaboration that brings something new out of him. It’s just like that thing where you’re not aware, where you lose all your vanity, all that. And it’s like, Fuck, what just happened? That I got to experience that on this album is, for me, enough in many ways. So I’m definitely the most proud about that. Well as you go on in your career, hopefully you’re gaining a confidence and style that 50 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
later lends itself to a broader freedom to be who you want to be creatively. As opposed trying to get a pop song “right” — Yeah. I think I did music before that wasn’t really about my emotional fucking world. And there are a lot of things happening in there. It was more about the things on the outside — I don’t know, artificial things. And not in a bad way — I’m so proud of everything I did before and I know I wouldn’t be here without that; it’s just a privileged thing to get to experience this. But I’m thinking now, this album I’m doing now is so much about my blue-eyed-ness getting a bit shook up, like: well this is what life is like in REAL life. This album, a lot of lyrics... I don’t say it, but it is about me understanding that people aren’t always good... and that you can get really hurt. Because I grew up in a really loving place, so.... What is the biggest heartbreak in life for you, and how does that come out in your music? Biggest heartbreak.... I’m experiencing it right now, actually. Yeah. That’s a personal question. I don’t even know what to answer. But I guess I’m constantly getting tested now. I think at this age — I’m 25 now and I think it’s a pretty testy age in general because you’re so much in-between things. It’s like that old Jeff Buckley lyric, “Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run.” It feels like it’s really, really there when it comes to love, when it comes to feeling stuff. You want to be free but you also really need security because you left everything. You’ve kind of stepped into phase two of life. I know exactly what that’s like — Yeah I fucking hate it. I’m the only one who really wants to be 40 years old, but I think that’s because I’m so self-aware. I want to be 40 and look back and laugh. I’m not unhappy if it sounds like that, it’s just, I’m very reflective. What’s the biggest challenge for you always, creatively, and how do you go about overcoming that? Wow, I think the biggest challenge creatively is to reinvent yourself in the way you want so you can get the things you want to say out of yourself. And now I’m trying to challenge myself to find new ways to get my songs out. The newest thing is that I’ve started to compose a lot myself. In terms of your creative process, what is it that you always come back to that really
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animates you the most? You know, that thing — some people drink, some people go to the beach, some people walk through the woods, some people fuck. You know, what is it that animates you? That makes you...create? That’s a really, really good question. I’m going to try and answer this good.... Whatever you want to say, whatever you feel that you want to express, I think that the most satisfying feeling there is that I’ve experienced is to over-win. For example, your pathetic-ness. Or over-win a feeling that you’ve been carrying for a long time. If I feel like I’m not fairly treated by somebody or if I feel I should get this girl it, it doesn’t make sense that I don’t — she don’t want me, I know that...and then you make a song, and when you succeed to put all your disappointment or euphoria or anything into songs, it’s the most highest high that I’ve experienced — because you can just loop the song and be like I did, it’s there, it can’t go way now, it’s there, it’s out, and people are going to hear this and I’ve told this exactly how it felt. And that feeling...that’s the shit, you know. I think that’s what makes me keep coming back, because if she hears it...there’s a chance she might change her mind, you know! Is it different writing here in United States versus writing in Sweden? Does it bring out different things for you writing here? Yeah. I love Stockholm, but being in LA is like... free...free song. You can take as big turns as you want; you can paint, you can say cheesy things — it’s just a free-er song. Like, nobody judges you in the same way there as we do back home, so for me it’s been good to like... if I want to do this soul thing, to become “soul man” in LA , it’s much easier than in an October/snow/rainy/dark/cold Stockholm to do that. So not knowing what you were getting yourself into when you came to America, what surprises you the most about living here? How much I really like being here I think. I can’t really tell if it’s an objective opinion because I’ve come here in a very nice situation. I’m from a Swedish label, the one I got signed to when I was a kid; I’m still with them and they really are expanding, it’s going really well for them over here. They’re called TEN Music, and we are a small label, an independent label, but with some great confidence and great artists and we all care about each other and know each other and we’ve been coming here together, so I
think I’m not that surprised that I like it because we’ve been able to take care of each other and experience this for the first time together, all of us. So what would you be doing in Sweden if you weren’t doing this here? If you weren’t a musician what else would you be doing? I don’t know. I really believe in coincidences and stuff like that, and I don’t think I would be able to do something not creative, now that I know that it is something I really crave to do. But if I had never known music I would’ve done something else — photography or fashion, maybe, something like that. I’ve always been interested in art, in general, but yeah. To see, to know what I know now about this world...if I wouldn’t have met the people I met I don’t think that I would’ve been able to pull it off, to be in music. What about your family? Have they influenced your creative life in anyway? A lot. But they raised me so human. I only got taught about human values, so when I stepped in with a major contract when I was 18, which was weird for me because I didn’t know anything about anything cynical at all. It was just like, what the fuck is this? People are like saying hi one day and then the next day they don’t care about you? That was really fucking strange to me. But now I learned how it gets played. And I’m not using it in any other way of my life, but I know it now so I can better cope with it. But they’ve only influenced me in good ways and let me do what I wanted to do in my life. They mean the world to me. Family for me is, like, everything. It was an embarrassingly beautiful place to grow up. So what was it like penning for Rihanna and Shakira? It didn’t really happen like that because I haven’t yet really tried to write for someone else purposely. I did just the regular process where we wrote the song I sang it, and all of a sudden Shakira had her hands on it; and then it got quiet for six months, and then they were talking about Rihanna apparently doing a feature on it, and then it got quiet again, and then I heard that they were doing a video for it, and then I heard the song the day it was released — yeah, it was just strange. But that’s how it works. I don’t know what level you have to be on to be able to be part of the process when two superstars do a song. I guess you have to be, (Continued on page 109) VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 53
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PAWS Words: Erin Shea Photos: Gavin Thomas
IN 11 WEEKS, SCOTLAND-BASED TRIO PAWS MANAGED TO PLAY IN MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, HANG OUT WITH IAN MACKAYE, SING “SAY IT AIN’T SO” WITH WEEZER’S MATT SHARP, AND GET IN A FIGHT WITH MORRISSEY.
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Although the band – made up of Phillip Taylor, Josh Swinney, and Matthew Scott – got their name from a YouTube video of a kitten showing its paws, their rough garage-rock style and punk attitude are not what you’d expect from a group who was inspired by a cat on the internet. Phillip Taylor answers a few questions about the band’s encounters on the road, their latest album, and the “no rules” mindset of punk rock. How did you guys meet? Phillip Taylor: I met Josh in high school in the Highlands of Scotland in the town I’m from called Tain. We spent a lot of time together in our final years of school and have been somewhat inseparable since, trying to make art projects together in some shape or form. Ryan and I met from playing in other bands when we were younger in and around the Inverness area, which is the only “city” in the Highlands of Scotland. We have all known each other for a long time and have all come together through sharing the same interests in art/music, going to shows, and drinking in the same bars in Glasgow, I guess. Why did you name the band PAWS? Because of this [“Suprised Kitty”] video on YouTube. You guys just released a new album titled “Youth Culture Forever.” What was the process of creating this album? Why was the album given that name? Well, it was all mostly written back in Scotland apart from one or two things. We had a tour booked in the U.S. for November 2013, so we decided to go into the studio over there to record it before heading out on the tour. Our friend Jeremy Backofen engineered the record for us and we produced it. It was a super chill process as we were out in the woods not that far from the city and staying with our friend/ label boss Adam. The studio was in his yard [in upstate New York], so it was good to just get up every morning, drink some coffee, have a smoke, and then just jump into work until late at night. The title of the record is a quote from a now well-known cartoon [“Adventure Time”]. We thought it was a phrase that embodied a lot of our interest in art. The idea that youth will always generate new work and once it’s made, it’s there forever in time. 56 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
You guys just ended a long tour. What was your most memorable show? Can you share any good stories from being on the road? Yeah, the tour we just finished was eleven weeks long in total. Europe-UK-US-Canada all back to back. It was really great. Ultimately, every show was memorable. We try our best to keep things exciting every show we play. There was a lot that was crazy about that tour though. Playing sold out bills in certain rooms was rad, like Bowery Ballroom in New York City, The Crocodile in Seattle, The Troubadour in Los Angeles, and Black Cat in Washington, D.C. Just like, venues we’d always read about or whatever. It was exciting to be on stage at those places knowing the history they all have. Every venue has history and we are so into that. Coming where we are from, we are really into finding out as much as we can about everywhere we go to play. Loads of weird shit happened on the tour. We got in a fight with Morrissey, which was upsetting. He tried to cancel our show and buy us out of it because it was in the same venue as his in another room, and then he flat out denied that it all happened. Totally lame. But, we played the show in the end. It was good to stand up for ourselves and win because it was total bullshit, and you gotta call that out you know? Press hype was bullshit too. We really learned how much the media can lie and twist shit up, and how much “famous” people can get their way. We also got to end the tour hanging out with Ian Mackaye at Dischord Records, which was so dope. Essentially it was the polar opposite to the Morrissey bullshit. Hanging with that dude made us feel good about standing up for ourselves a few weeks before. Seeing around Dischord and just remembering how all that stuff runs and was started, you know? We’re a punk rock band. We knew we did the right thing. We also got to hang with Matt Sharp – from Weezer and The Rentals – and that was killer. In Los Angeles, it was the 20th anniversary of the [Weezer’s self-titled debut, AKA the “Blue Album”], so he played “Say It Ain’t So” with our friends band that we were on tour with [We Are Scientists] and he asked us to sing the chorus’s with them. It was a strange tour. Do you have any tips for surviving a long tour? Look out for one another at all times, eat as (Continued on page 109)
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ALEXANDRA LEVASSEUR Words: Liam Smith Art: Alexandra Levasseur
What made you want to become an artist? As a child, I was strongly influenced by my grandmother who used to paint. I was extremely attracted to it and was already considering it as a future option. Over the years, I did not only find satisfaction in the act of creating, but also a kind of therapeutic experience and a way to exteriorize my inner uncertainties. What is your daily routine like? I usually wake up early and go out for a short run with my two dogs. I like to start working on something early in the morning. Then everything depends on deadlines or energy level, I often keep on working until late. Your drawings and paintings appear visually similar in terms of expression and decorative pattern to the work of Viennese painters of the last century, including Klimt and Schiele, as well as to German expressionism. Do you see them as influences on your own work? Although I really like Klimt and Schiele, and German Expressionism, I never considered them a direct influence. However, my visit to
the Edward Munch Museum in Oslo had such a huge impression on me. The floral patterns came in because they reminded me of strong memories from my grandmother’s home. It is a really symbolic motif for me and reminds me of my childhood. Who do you see as your influences? Artists and intellectuals such as Matisse, Gauguin, Odilon Redon, Aubrey Bearsley, Magritte, filmmakers such as Bergman, Fellini, Maya Deren, Alain Resnais, and musicians such as The Knife, Cat Power, Radiohead are very significant sources of inspiration. Can you talk about your ‘One drawing a day’ project? How important is emotion in relation to the seasonal environment in this series? This project was a very therapeutic one! Coming from Quebec, Canada, I moved to Costa Rica when I was eighteen and lived there for almost ten years (plus year in Barcelona). When I came back to Montreal in 2010, I had forgotten what passing through four strong seasonal changes was like. It affected me so VNDL | ISSUE 5 | 59
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strongly that I decided to illustrate day after day my state of mind in relation to hours of daylight, rain and snow, coldness or sun. It was a very personal project! Why do you like to use natural settings for many of your backdrops? I want to find a relation between surrounding environments and states of mind. Or if it is possible to reach the quietness of the spirit through the comfortableness of the body. Why do you focus on the female body as your subject? Are these works self-portraits? Yes, they are in part, self-portraits, but also I believe woman personalize better than anything the symbol for the expression of universal emotions such as: love, fear, anguish and unrequited desire, which are the central themes for my art. Your films explore similar ideas as your paintings and drawings. Why have you decided to work in animation and how do the films relate to the illustrations and paintings? Movement has always been really present in my paintings, and I wanted to go further into the representation of the ‘unquietness’ and instability. Sound and music were also something I really wanted to experiment with. I believe films can express some ideas better than painting. Both complement each other to form a whole. Playing with Fire was a continuity of my painting series “Summer Games” where I was representing a feminine character and her doppelgänger getting involved in a dangerous game. Cold Bones was directly linked to my “seasonal/weather aggression to the body and the mind- series”. With Chaos is a Dancer, I’m starting to use the keyword “relation” to represent a planet where all its components (animal-vegetable-human, mineral, etc) are coexisting in harmony and are forming one single organism. As for Table D’Hôte, it is a critique to the exploitation/destruction/industrialization of animal life and an illustration of the reality of that incongruity in which we live. Sound and music are central to your films. Why is this and how do you choose to use sound in relation to the themes you wish to explore? Sound and music is something I’m completely new to, and I have a lot of interest in exploring its possibilities. I work with collaborators from Fur Trade Recordings, here in Montreal. They are into experimental electronic music which suits 64 | ISSUE 5 | VNDL
my work perfectly and it is very easy to discuss my intentions with them and find the perfect match. I usually have a good idea of what I want. If not, I listen to a lot of music until I find the energy I like. As for the sound design, I record most of my sounds but also have access to sound banks. Why did you decide to bring in dance as a motif? Dance is the culminating point of emotions, movement and music together. It is a motif I have barely started to exploit. I would like to push it further, mostly into my films. Can you talk about this fashion illustration collaboration you did with SHOWstudio? A couple of years ago I was contacted by the Nick Knight team to ask me if I’d be interested in collaborating with them. In September 2013, they asked me to illustrate (with complete freedom) all the collections I wanted from the Milan Fashion Week, which showcases the Ready-to-Wear collections from all great Italian designers from Prada to Versace. I made around twenty drawings during the week, sketching live from the catwalk shots. It was a very challenging project which gave interesting results! Some of the pieces are now exhibited at the V&A museum in London, as part of the exhibition “Glamour of Italian Fashion”. I also made a painting for another group exhibition held by the SHOWStudio for the Maison Martin Margiela, illustrating a fragrance. Do you see your commercial illustration work as separate from your fine art work? Why or why not? Not really. I usually only accept commercial contract when I know I will be creating something meaningful to me. What are you working on next? I have a solo show happening right now at Galerie Roccia, in Montreal. I want to continue to develop on the idea of relation and relationships. I will be painting more than making films for the next few months.
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UNTILTHE RIBBON BREAKS Words: Victoria Estevez Photos: Gavin Thomas
“I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT GENRE AS LONG AS IT SOUNDS GOOD” SAID PETE LAWRIE-WINFIELD 1/3 OF THE 3 PERSON BAND KNOWN AS UNTIL THE RIBBON BREAKS “IT CAN BE RANDOM SCREAMING. AS LONG AS IT’S GOOD RANDOM SCREAMING, I’M INTO IT.”
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Until The Ribbon Breaks has come onto the American scene from the UK with a unique genre blending that keeps writers guessing at the influence and acknowledging the success of the sound. At times the music is soul and hip-hop infused - and at times the percussion takes over. Whatever the mix, the tracks leave you wanting more. Until the Ribbon Breaks, or UTRB as I fondly call them, recently relocated to Los Angeles from the UK and are celebrating the move with a month long residency at The Bootleg Theater. The band is made up of Pete Lawrie-Winfield (lead vox, keys, percussion, brass), James Wolujewicz (synth), and Elliot Wall (drums) and they recently had their four track EP “The Other Ones” climb to #7 on the iTunes electronics chart. I spoke with Pete on a lovely spring day in Brooklyn and he was in his apartment in LA. Usually when you speak to artists on the phone, it sometimes feels forced – you can’t look them in the eye and it’s hard to gauge their interest but not with UTRB. I felt like I was speaking to an old friend and that ease carried on throughout our conversation. As the son of a ballerina and a wind instrument maker in the UK, Pete grew up surrounded by music. However, making music for a living was never in the plans, but now that he’s doing it, he doesn’t take one moment for granted. When I asked him what kind of challenges he faces as an artist he was very clear that any challenge he faces, he loves. “If I ever caught myself complaining about what I do, I mean I make music for a living, I would slap myself.” He does face challenges of course, everyone does, and he pushes through them with a relentless work ethic. He and James will work on songs almost every day, I asked what he did with his free time and he said “I feel terrible when I take a day off” and laughed “I mean I say I need a day off and then I take a day off and I feel like I am so behind.” I laughed at that comment - I mean, I understand that - when I mentioned that it sounded like a lot of deepseated issues to me, he responded, “Well, yes, of course, the more deep seated issues I have the more records I make.”
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And records he does make, right now UTRB is in the middle of a month long residency at LA’s Bootleg Theater. As mentioned before their EP “The Other Ones” came out in March, the fulllength record is due out in Fall 2014, and at any point they could be hitting the road for some shows across the country. I asked a bit about the transition from the UK to the US. Was it tough to make the change? He was clear it was always in the plans. “As I am talking to you I looked out to my left and I am staring at the Hollywood sign, I mean its just amazing. I have always loved American music and we have drawn a lot of inspiration from the US. I mean I drive on Sunset and I am inspired to write all the time. We chose to come here and make it work here.” Being in residency at the Bootleg has given them time to really work on their live performances. They have a sound that they work on in the studio first, “pressing a lot of buttons till it sounds good” as Peter says. Then with the base sound created Peter begins to write lyrics that work with the sounds, or he takes out his notes and little moments of inspiration and attaches them to the new tracks they are building. “Its like a sculpture, you start with a big mess but then you chip at it and chip at it and it becomes something beautiful.” At times that studio work, and layered sound design is hard to replicate live so they play with their sounds on stage creating a singular experience for concert-goers each performance. So if you are in LA drop by the Bootleg, if not go find their sounds online. There are a lot of good things in the works for these guys.
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ALAIN MARCIANO Tell us a little about yourself:
Worst Part of the job?
I am a self-taught illustrator, I also write poems and short-stories. I live in France (Montpellier, south of France, sunny and warm place). I never learned how to draw, how to write. One day, I decided to do it. Regrets are useless but I wish I had taken courses or went to a school to learn drawing.
uncertainty; you never know if you will be able to do another drawing, another poem, another story; the drawing you just finished can really be the last one.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Marseille, France. A port, very similar to Neaples or Hamburg, an old city with a lot of immigration; greeks and italians in the 1920s, Africans in the 1960s, Comorians … my grand-parents were italians and moved to Marseille in the 1920s.
What do you like to do in your spare time? reading, reading, walking, reading, listening to music What is it like living in France?
relentless (workaholic), tenacious, altruist.
I don’t know … I’ve been to many countries and I like living elsewhere. And I don’t know. I am not really able to put what I feel into words or images (when I draw or write, I don’t think in advance to what I am going to draw or write; it is very intuitive). So, I don’t know how it is to live in France. What I know is that I would like to live in the US.
When did you first start drawing?
Advice for aspiring artists:
In my teens, when I was 12 or something like that. I copied comics.
work, meet other artists, show your work, be humble and be confident in your art
What are you currently working on?
Website: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ alainmarciano/ (for the drawings) and http:// alainmarciano.wordpress.com (for the poems and short stories) Tumblr: http://alain-marciano.tumblr.com Facebook: facebook.com/marcianoalain
Describe yourself in three words:
I recently finished a set of drawings for a small book (8 pages) for 36° édition (www. edition-36.net). And I started to paint; but nothing concrete or precise; I am trying to find something new; if someone reading this is interested, please get in touch ah ah ah! Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? never give up, but it’s not a good advice, sometimes you have to give up. It’s the only one I am able to remember. Best part of the job? you express yourself; giving shape to your inner life, your dreams, nightmares, fantasies
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SAM CLIFFORDHARDING Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Devon, UK, a little town called Exmouth on the coast, it’s shit but I love it. Describe yourself in three words: Impulsive, sarcastic and determined. When did you first pick up a camera? With the intention of using one properly, probably around 18 years old. My Grandfather at the time was an antiques dealer that specialised in cameras, he gave me my first camera which was a Voigtlander vitomatic 2, so I managed to learn the way a film camera functions before anything else which I am hugely thankful for. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? An old lecturer said to me “Don’t make it shit”, that has always stuck with me. Best part of the job? The ability to do what I love doing, meeting new people and collaborating with others. I’ve been really lucky so far to have worked with some amazing people on some really awesome projects and commissions.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Most things I have been doing lately have been geared towards new projects, I try and stay focused if not creative all of the time. How do you like living in London? London is great, it’s got to the point now where most of my friends have moved there also so it’s ideal. Everything is around you and everything is so accessible, it makes it hard to leave. The public transport fucking sucks though, I hate it. Advice for Aspiring photographers: I am still figuring a lot out myself but I would say just stay active, showcase everything and speak to everyone, for instance if you’re a young photographer with the intention of going into fashion, network with young stylists, find people that are relevant to you and collaborate with them. Website: samclifford-harding.com Twitter: @dasgul Instagram: dasgul Tumblr: dasgul.tumblr.com
Worst Part of the job? Financial inconsistency!
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CHAD GRIFFITH Tell us a little about yourself. I’ve been shooting athletes, musicians, and celebrities since graduating R.I.T. in 2004. Where did you grow up? In the mean streets of Cicero North Syracuse. When did you first pick up a camera? When I was 15 years old. I took a lot of really bad pictures for a really long time. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Under-promise and over-deliver. Best part of the job? The feeling you get after taking a good photo. Worst Part of the job? The feeling that all your photos stink and that you might be a huge hack. What do you like to do in your spare time? Fantasy football, its a problem. How do you like living in New York City? I love it. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Advice for Aspiring photographers: Surround yourself with good people who push you to be better and give you honest opinions. Website www.chadgriffith.com Instagram @chad_griffith Tumblr chadgriffith.tumblr.com
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HEAR THIS NOW
HIGHASAKITE Photo: Gavin Thomas
NORDIC ROCKERS HIGHASAKITE HAVE A MELODIC SOUND THAT GETS IN YOUR HEAD AND SOMEHOW WE DON’T MIND. Bio Highasakite makes pop music, but an adventurous brand of indie pop full of contrasts. Once you hear Highasakite you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them, theirs is an endless sound oscillating between density and spaciousness. Silent Treatment is filled with radical texture and startling immediacy, Ingrid Helene Håvik’s idiosyncratic vocals perfectly joins the albums eccentricity and accessibility. The band now all resides in Oslo however the origins of the group can be found at the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory, where singer and songwriter Håvik met drummer Trond Bersu and began to write, record and perform together. However, the pair felt that they needed an extra something to give their performances
the sound they desired. As a result, Øystein Skar on synthesizers was added, before the more recent arrivals of Marte Eberson, also on synths, and Kristoffer Lo on guitar, flugabone and percussion. All of this has combined to give the band a richer texture and more potent sound. Highasakite is Ingrid Helene Håvik – zither, steeldrum and vocals Trond Bersu – drums Øystein Skar – synths Marte Eberson – synths Kristoffer Lo - guitar and flugabone LOCATION: OSLO, Norway Website: highasakite.no/page/bio.html
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HEAR THIS NOW
NØMADS Photo: Trevor Gilley
LISTENING TO NØMADS REMINDS ME OF DRIVING MY CAR IN HIGH-SCHOOL WITH ALL MY FRIENDS, NO SURPRISE SINCE THEY CHANNEL SOME OF THE BEST PARTS OF THE 90’S SOUND WHILE BRINGING THAT SOUND RIGHT INTO THE NOW. Bio NØMADS is maximum sound two-piece bass & drum collaboration featuring Nathan Lithgow (bassist for My Brightest Diamond, Inlets, and Gabriel & the Hounds), and drummer Garth Macaleavey (former Inlets touring percussionist, and sound engineer for the Philip Glass Ensemble). The band previously released their first single “In The Mend” , followed by “Free My Animal” the title track to their album. Awash in dissonance and syncopated rhythm, NØMADS leans towards the razor-efficient songwriting forms of 90’s bands like Nirvana, Fugazi, and Girls Against Boys, while updating the style and stripping the approach to its essential foundations of lyricism and sonic intensity. The band has honed their own primal sound that capitalizes on conspicuous
juxtapositions- minimal instrumentation against maximum sound; aggression against beauty; soft melody versus an aggression of expression. The spine of Free My Animal is a recorded rehearsal of the songs comprising the album, each performed in one-take, without a metronome, in its most organic form. This is the sound of shutting out the rest of the world in order to create something true and undiluted. Location: Brooklyn, NY Website: crash-avenue.com/ current-roster-2/nomads
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HEAR THIS NOW
IN THE VALLEY BELOW Photo: Gavin Thomas
SYNTH, DRUMS, AND A SOLID DUO OF VOICES MAKE THIS BAND A MUST ON YOUR PLAYLISTS. Bio Vocalist Angela Gail puts it frankly: In The Valley Below makes “mostly music that we would want to listen to,” an honest and unapologetic statement from the Los Angeles duo, rounded out by vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Jacob. In The Valley Below is hushed swirls of male and female vocals forged with dark stories of brooding riddles and romance. Jeffrey grew up in the storied musical town of Memphis, given a guitar at the age of 13 and creating music from that point forward. Angela left the binding depths of a “mostly cold and cloudy town in Michigan,” for a life at sea, finding initial
songwriting inspiration while living on a small boat in the Caribbean. In The Valley Below was created when these two found each other, having crossed paths in artistic circles after they separately made their way to Los Angeles. The duo honed their craft together, using faithful archetypes as their inspiration, “Our biggest inspiration is powerful subjects like sex, crime and religion. And how that fits into the lives we’ve chosen, our dreams and struggles, mistakes and heartbreaks.” Location: Los Angeles, CA Website: inthevalleybelow.com
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HEAR THIS NOW
WELL$ Photo: Gavin Thomas
WELL$ WRITES HIS BEATS BY LISTENING TO NOISES; HIS SOUNDS ARE IRRESISTIBLE. Bio “Charlotte, N.C., may not be the first city to come to mind when thinking of hip hop hotbeds, but thanks to a rising echelon of talent, that’s about to change. Leading that charge is 19-year-old Leroy Shingu, who goes by the name of Well$.” – Huffington Post Like most kids in his native town of Charlotte, North Carolina, Leroy Shingu had a head filled with hip-hop dreams growing up, even trying his hand at freestyling when he was all of nine years old. But a trying background starkly different from the blissful suburban reality of his peers would compel the rapper better known as Well$ to turn that childhood fantasy into a promising career as a rapper. Quietly released in 2012, $ay La V, Well$’ debut EP rose steadily on the Bandcamp charts to peak at number 5 and eventually become the most downloaded album in the Charlotte area. This remarkable ascent as well as the video for the song “State of Ecstasy The Interlude Part 1″ hauled Well$ out of virtual anonymity, and shoved him onto high profile stage
performances with artists such as G Eazy, Chris Webby, Johnny Polygon, and one of his idols, Pac Div. Well$’s forthcoming mixtape, MTSYD: Revenge of The African Booty Scratcher, dropped in Febuary. The rare and commendable honesty Well$ displays comes from his admiration of the now era rap stars that Well$ grew up listening to, like Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Pac Div, and more. “Their music came out at a pivotal point in my life,” says Well$ of the aforementioned rappers, “and helped me see that it was cool to just be me and rap about my story.” Location: Charlotte, North Carolina Website: audibletreats.com/wells
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HEAR THIS NOW
THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE Photo: Joseph Whalley
THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE, NEITHER FOOD NOR A CLASS - BUT THEIR MUSIC SURE SOUNDS AS GOOD AS APPLE PIE TASTES. Bio Formed three years ago, The History Of Apple Pie line up is centered around the songwriting partnership of Stephanie Min (Vocals) and Jerome Watson (Guitar) together with James Thomas (Drums), Aslam Ghauri (Guitar) and new recruit to the band Joanna Curwood (bass).
The album was recorded over the last few months at Sublime Studios in London, and like it’s predecessor was produced and engineered by the band’s guitarist Jerome Watson with additional engineering by Joshua Third of The Horrors and Charles Reeves.
The History Of Apple Pie is set to release a second album ‘Feel Something’ on September 30 via Marshall Teller Records. ‘Feel Something’ follows up last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Out Of View’, and features ten brand new tracks.
Location: London - UK Website: thehistoryofapplepie.co.uk
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DREAMS NOIR Photos: Andrea Cencini Model: Wiktoria Ziaja Stylist: Maddalena Lanzarini MUA: Valentina Sbb
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THE DARCYS (Continued from page 32) so much time recording music that it was hard to want to go out, and leave the studio and put on headphones. Tell us how the “Play in School” program got started and what it has been like bringing your music to high schools around Canada. I was just reading in the paper about how they “found” this money to sustain instrumental music programs in high schools, but [those programs were] clearly on the chopping block and in the next few years they would probably be eradicated because they didn’t see those programs are necessary to the development of kids. The more I paid attention the more systemic I felt the problem was. Funding was cut to music programs. The instruments in the classrooms, the teachers—it all started to break down. The worse everything looked the less interest kids had in playing music. The fewer people who enrolled, the less money they got, until the point where no one was enrolling and the classes were being cut. I wrote a post on my blog and said if you’re in high school, you like our band and this is interesting to you and you like your music program and want to hold a mini-protest where you stand up and use your voice to say this is something you want to stay, we’ll come and play for free. I thought it would be two or three schools to reach out and we had 35, 40. We had to start shutting down offers because we didn’t have the time to make it to all the schools. It was great. The students were amazing and smart. They asked really great questions and it was a rewarding experience for us. [The program has] been getting more and more interest from the media which has helped prolong its existence. We’re working on doing more [performances] in the fall and expanding the idea. It’s also nice because a lot of those kids don’t get to go see shows. All ages shows aren’t what they want. And when I was kid in Toronto you could sneak downtown, drink a beer on the subway, and sneak into a show. It’s a lot harder and more dangerous to do that kind of thing now. So it’s nice to play a full on rock show in an auditorium. Even we felt like we were part of something exciting. We played in our old high school. It was a blast.
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What are you working on now? I guess, a record. We’re just sort of writing songs and seeing what happens and seeing how they collect together. It’s been interesting to say the least. We’re working with a lot of horn samples right now. Horn samples and kick drums is what we’ve got going. But we have this belief that if a melody is strong enough then you don’t really need anything else in the song. So we’re trying to really reduce versions of songs to see if they hold up. We’re sort of in the middle of writing a new record, but I’m not convinced it will be released as a record. We may be able to find more interesting ways to put it out. Are there any opportunities you guys have coming up that you’re really excited about? There are a couple of collaborations that we’ve been talking about, but they’re pretty closed door at the moment, because we want to make sure that they settle. But it’s nice to know that a lot of bigger bands like our band and are interested in us writing with them or helping them work on projects. Hopefully we can make these projects work.
ERIK HASSLE (Continued from page 48)
PAWS (Continued from page 55)
like, on a high-level so that you’re like, No, no the song should be like this. But I didn’t get to say that. But it was amazing. I fucking love it. It was so cool.
much fruit as you can a day, don’t eat pancakes or some shit for breakfast everyday, spend your per diem wisely on health food, and look out for your tour manager and driver – I know that they have to look after you, but they drive A LOT. Be a good wingman. When everybody goes to sleep and leaves a dude driving at night on his own, that ain’t cool. You guys bring a lot of energy to your music, how do you get pumped to play?
Is there any advice that you would pass on to younger artists who are trying to make their away? Umm.... I think so much about things, I should be able to say something good. I don’t just want to say, “Have fun.” Use your guts when it comes to the people you choose to have around you, because that’s going to be the most important thing in the end, you know? It’s like, I’m with you because I love you and I want to help you, and you’re with me for the same reason. And for me that’s been the most important thing: to build my own puzzle like that, so that every person that has anything to do with me is someone that I know depends on me as much as I do them. And I want to be able to give back to people. So that’s my recommendation. One last question. How do you think you want to be remembered as an artist? When people ask me to do things about my songs right now, like, going into detail about what they’re about and really explain it, you know, I never want to do that because I feel like I’m taking away the experience from people. But maybe when I’m older, if I would get to do this for a long time, if I could like break that ice much further along in my career and say, like, this song was about this specific thing and it feels magical, I will be proud that, that would be cool. To look back and feel good. That’s what I want: to be older. Artist: Erik Hassle Website: www.erikhassle.com Twitter: @erikhassle
We usually just pump some music in the dressing room that gets us stoked...and do a shot of tequila. Who are your musical inspirations? Who do you listen to? There’s a lot I guess. We are all inspired by so much. Mutually, I think we are all down with Minor Threat/Fugazi (all things Dischord), Bikini Kill, The Breeders, Patti Smith, Thin Lizzy, Japandroids. That’s the kind of stuff that goes down in the dressing room before we go out onstage. But in the van, we listen to such a range of stuff it’s hard to pin down. We listen to a lot of our friends’ bands, like Black Cop, Little Big League, Idiot Genes, and Slowcoaches. Loads of stuff. What’s it like being part of the punk scene now? Where do you see your band and this genre going in the future? We just keep our head down and stay focused on working as hard as we can. Always tried to avoid being a part of any kind of “scene” but I guess, inevitably, you get sucked into that kind of stuff via press or other bands around you. You can only be you and try and represent yourselves as best you can in your ethics and work. Punk rock will always be here. We are one of a billion bands that have some kind of punk rock ideal or ethic. It’s freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your art, so our band can go anywhere we want I hope. As long as you have passion to make art with the people you care about. We just want to keep working hard and stay true to ourselves – that’s punk rock to me. The cool thing about punk rock, though, is that everyone has a different take on it, I think. There’s no fuckin’ rules. Website: wehavepaws.com Twitter: @wehavepaws Facebook: www.facebook.com/wehavepaws
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TYSON MEADE (Continued from page 18) With me it’s still always a surprise, because I never know what it’s going to be. And even if the God of platinum albums came down and said, “Would you rather have the memories of your China life and your friends and those things, or would you like to have these three platinum albums under your belt and money, etc.?,” I would hope that I would go for the memory of China and the adventure of never knowing what’s going to happen. Artist/Band/Etc. Tyson Meade Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website(s): www.tysonmeade.com
MADISON LST (Continued from page 17) Basically, if you keep your head down and stop constantly looking around at what others are doing just to criticize yourself you’ll get much farther. Try taking these things into consideration and trust yourself. Just keep doing you to the fullest, because when people see your hustle they’ll believe in your dream too. What are your plans for the rest of 2014? Man, I plan on throwing an absolutely epic release party to celebrate the album! I can’t wait to bring everyone that worked on the album or inspired me into one place and party. Besides that, I’m looking forward to releasing other projects on the heels of this one. I can’t wait for people to hear how I’ve evolved and grown, and I can’t wait make myself known in this industry. Last Words: Check out my new video: “Even With It Hurts.”
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