VNDL MAGIC MAN VNDL | ISSUE 6
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VNDL MAG TEAM Editor in Chief Gavin Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director Kate Bauer email@example.com Creative Director Trevor Gilley firstname.lastname@example.org Producer Victoria Estevez email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Art: David Aronson, Eugenia Loli Models: Kelly Eden Photographers: Marcus Cooper, Kyle Dorosz, Colleen Durkin, Laurie Franck, João Mascarenhas, Matsuki Narishige, Nick Padula, Allison Pharmakis, Eve Reinhardt, Erin Smith, Gavin Thomas, Tiger Tiger, Tash Tung
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©2014 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 print or any other form, format or media without the explicit written permission and approval. GET CONNECTED Twitter: @vndlmag Instagram: @vndlmag Website: vndlmag.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com
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Cover Credits Magic Man Shot in New York, NY Back Cover Photo By: João Mascarenhas
CONTRIBUTORS Kurt McVey
Kurt is a writer, artist and model, living in New York. He also writes for the New York Times and Whitehot Magazine.
Ashley Canino is a writer and research professional based in New York City. Her fiction and non-fiction work focus on pop culture, social issues, and personal relationships. You can find her portfolio at AshleyCanino.com
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, she worked extensively in television, news, theatre and documentary production, and volunteered for global health and development organizations in New York City.
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JOﾃグ MASCARENHAS: SUMMER 69 6 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
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LITTLE MAY Words & Photos: Eve Reinhardt
ONE OF THE BEST DISCOVERIES WE MADE THIS SEASON DURING THE CMJ MUSIC MARATHON WAS THE ALMOST ALL-FEMALE BAND FROM AUSTRALIA, LITTLE MAY. THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP IS FOLK-POP AT ITS CORE, WITH SLICK, LONGING SOUNDSCAPES THAT ARE AT ONCE PRECIOUS AND EPIC, AND JUST RAW ENOUGH CALL UP COMPARISONS TO A 90’S INDIE-POP BAND THAT GREW UP PLAYING IN A GARAGE.
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After our interview, the real-takeaway seems to be the darker, tougher, grittier, louder and more profound stuff at work here, and being left with the feeling that the best is yet to come. If you could just go around the room and introduce yourselves and each say what you play in the band. Hannah Field: I’m Hannah and I sing. Liz Drummond: I’m Liz and I sing and play guitar. Annie Hamilton: I’m Annie and I play lead guitar and sing background vocals. Background vocals? That sounds really jazzy! [The whole room laughs] How did you all first meet and end up playing in a band together? Hannah: Liz and I actually went to school together from about year ten onwards, and then we kind of bonded over a mutual love of music, the same style of music, which was like kind of what we grew up on, what our parents fed us. And then we started doing covers on Friday nights instead of going out, and Liz was playing guitar at the time and I kind of rated myself as a bit of a singer, even though I was no good! And then that kind of developed into dabbling in songwriting, and when we were about nineteen we decided to take it seriously and give it a go. And so we got Annie on board—and Annie actually went to school with Liz previously, prior to year ten. So that’s how we all kind of got together. Who were some of your biggest influences growing up? Annie: We all have influences that we all grew up listening to from our parents, and we have current influences now. Like me, personally, I grew up listening to a lot of Beatles and Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel and bands like that; and now I listen to a lot of The National— that’s probably a big one for all of us, a big influence. Liz: My parents listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, and so I grew up with a lot of that, and Pink Floyd, a darker sort of music which I really sort of love. And my brother was a guitarist, or is still a guitarist, and I used to have to listen to Rage Against The Machine and Chili Peppers all day, so I didn’t really have a choice. But recently The Nationals are a big one for us. But we have heaps of
different influences. A lot of new music that we love. Hannah: I grew up listening to—my parents fed me a lot of James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen…but now I think we’re really excited to get into a lot of local, kind of local, Aussie music. I know Gang of Youths has been recently one of Annie and I’s favorites, and Holy and Holy are amazing. They just keep coming, the influences, so it’s really cool. What would be the memory that you each have that represents you first falling in love with music? A memory that stands out from the rest that made it personal or important in a way it hadn’t been before? Liz: One memory for me is hearing Kashmir by Led Zeppelin for the first time and I remember being scared but intrigued by it! All the strings and everything just made me feel like, Wow, like…and I really liked big songs and dark kinds of music. And I remember hearing Don’t Look Back in Anger, that Oasis song. I remember the first time I heard that and I remember being like, Wow, and being just really little…I remember for some reason that just really stuck with me. Hannah: We used to go on these family holidays to this place called Stradbroke Island, which is just off the Queensland Coast, and I just remember when I was probably about five watching my parents and their friends dance around to the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and I just remember thinking, ‘Gosh, music brings people so much joy.’ And I used to fall asleep on the couch watching them. That’s my earliest memory of really realizing what music can do. And also alcohol. [Everyone laughs] Hannah: I used to love those trips, and especially when my parents would have people over because it always meant that they would put the records on…and that was pretty cool. Do you remember the first time you played together in a proper setting and what it was like? All at once: Yeah Hannah: It was at the Greengate. We did an open mic night, and I remember the girls were doing a cover—I can’t remember—and I decided to play the tambourine, and I had no idea how to play the tambourine. And I’d just VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 17
be tapping on it and every time I had to sing I’d have to stop and just harmonize with them. But we were nervous weren’t we! Petrified. Annie: I just remember finishing—I do know we played, like, two songs—and after, when we were done I was like, Oh my God I want to do it again! I want to keep going—can we do another one?! It was just an addictive feeling. Was there a turning point for the band when everything changed? How did you go from playing at pubs to coming all the way out to New York and playing CMJ? Annie: Maybe when Hide got on the charts. That was sort of like, “Well, this is moving beyond just…” We’d already had a bit of airplay from community radio in Australia with Boardwalks and stuff but it hadn’t really picked up. And then when we released Hide, it just started moving online, and we saw that people in America are listening to it and we were like, “What is going on?!” Hannah: We started getting really random emails that we didn’t believe, people just wanting to know more about us and if we had representation in the States, and it was like, “This is a joke.” So we started forwarding them on to our publicist and our agent and they were like, “Guys, you need to get a manager.” So that was kind of when it kicked up a notch and we were like, “Okay, maybe we can do this as a career.” So now that you’re starting to experience some real momentum and success, what about the process has really surprised you the most now that you’re on the other side, so to speak? Liz: I think it’s cool. And I don’t even know if I’ve thought about it all that much. It’s just been so busy and, like, awesome fun. Just playing shows to people that know our music is just the coolest thing ever. It’s interesting. I find that—even now, like, even having an interview and having somebody interviewing us is just so weird! Yeah. It’s cool though. Hannah: I find that the business side is a lot more intricate than I thought it would be. There’s so much behind everything. For us, we’ve been lucky because there has been kind of a natural momentum that has supported us, but it’s just funny seeing that the tiniest thing, the tiniest move that a band can make has so much thought behind it. That’s something that I just thought, you know, you’re a band, you just rock out and that’s your job. But there’s so 18 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
much more behind it. You have to be smart and strategic about it and you have a good team behind you. If you finish an album and you’ve got to start from scratch where do each go to find inspiration? Hannah: I think collectively it’s important for us to go away when we’re writing, and what we tap into differs and varies, obviously, because we’re all individuals, but I definitely have a period of my life that I tap into; and it was probably from about 14 to now, I guess, and just reflecting on heartbreaking loss, and one particular person, but that’s fine [laughter]. But I’m really interested in trying to extend that [laughter] and not just write about that one person. Liz: In terms of writing we all have our strengths and certain weaknesses. In terms of, like, the songwriting, I guess, the actual music itself—not just like the lyrics and stuff—I think we all kind of…like I might come to the table with chords, and then I know that Annie’s really good with guitar melodies and stuff, and Hannah’s really good with lyrics and melodies as well, and it’s kind of like we all have our own strengths and I think we try to sort of navigate that to make the best songs. But yeah, tapping into our strengths is definitely key. Annie: Yeah, I don’t know. For me, sometimes it’s like I can get really inspired and be playing something and I’m like, “Ah!” And it’s just like coming naturally and it’s almost like a song writes itself— What if it doesn’t write itself? Where do you go or do? Annie: If it doesn’t I get really frustrated and then I just end up being like, “I’m shit at everything, I should just go and run through a jungle or something ”— Hannah: You write well when you’re angry. She does; you really see the passion. She thinks about things that frustrate her, I think—that’s what helps Annie write. What are the biggest challenges that you face artistically and creatively? I mean challenging as in fear or insecurity. That one thing that nags at you? What is that for each of you and do you have a personal (Continued on page 120)
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DAVID ARONSON Words: Lyz Mancini Photos: Gavin Thomas
DESPITE THE ONSLAUGHT OF ENDLESS FASHION EDITORIALS, STREET STYLE SHOTS, AND THE INFLUX OF SCANTILY-CLAD LADIES GARNERING ALL ADVERTISEMENTS, FILMS, AND VIDEO GAMES, PEOPLE WILL NEVER TIRE OF STARING AT THE FEMALE FORM. TO PUT IT BLUNTLY, WOMEN ARE JUST PRETTIER TO LOOK AT THAN MEN; THE PROBLEM ARISES WHEN FLAWLESSNESS IS STRIVED FOR (SO SAYS BEYONCE).
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Enter artist David Aronson, an oil, gold leaf, and canvas master who seeks out his muses and turns their imperfections into beauty worthy of idolatry. Peruse his work and you will find an ease and reverence to the gentle curves of a body, paired with mystical elements like a steer or owl’s head placed atop a nude form, or endless floral patterns that ask to be laid in while counting petals on a balmy summer afternoon. Refreshing in honesty and truly gorgeous in aesthetics, David Aronson’s work gives halos to the everyday babe and the inspiration to find one’s own beauty. You obviously hold an appreciation for the female body. How do you find your subjects and what draws you to them? I often come across my muses organically, though I have delved into the depths of the internet in darker times. Sometimes an intrinsic aura or spirit draws me in. These qualities aesthetically manifest as big distinguishable features that possess a timeless elegance while remaining unmistakably contemporary I also love that you celebrate inconsistencies, different shaped nipples, pubic hair, etc. Is this something you’re looking to draw attention to, or does it happen naturally? Celebrating inconsistencies is nearly a mantra for me. The strange and unusual have always drawn me in, even on the rather minute scale of asymmetrical nipples. I want people to appreciate the beautiful differences we often as a culture conceal. I’m a wooly dude, and it took years of mockery, shaving, and girlfriends plucking me to finally appreciate my wonderful furry body. By painting people in a regal fashion, I hope to showcase eccentricities to help us accept and love ourselves. Could you describe your studio for me? What items or aesthetics you like to surround yourself with while or before you work? My studio is an open creative space. I have surrounded myself with artistic studiomates to alleviate the rather stagnating isolation which is all too common place in the art world. If the studio is empty, I throw on an audiobook to inspire myself. Visually, I like to keep my space organized. Several months ago I white washed all of my furniture with a few buckets of gesso. My eyes rest easy now with out all of the optical clutter. If you had to encapsulate your mission
statement in one sentence what would it be? “Be weird, get naked,” Rachel Lynch The portrait-style paintings you do of nude women from the waist up are fascinating, almost like a more honest first day of school photo. Do you lean towards portraying an innocence or are you looking more for a feeling of sexuality? My nude portraits aren’t made with an intentional feeling for the audience. Intimacy and voyeurism are my driving factors in painting people in the buff. Tell me about how you learned that you loved creating art, and what keeps you loving it. This question kind of answers itself. I think I learned that I loved making art because I keep making it. How does working in fashion photography as well influence your paintings, perhaps regarding society’s view of women or the definition of perfection? Working in fashion has steered me away from painting women. Creating aesthetically pleasing images of women is held in higher regard in the world of fashion than art, so I have found new ways to incorporate painting into my life to complement the fashion work. Recently I painted abstract floral and geometric patterns with the intention of integrating them into the backgrounds of fashion editorials. The titles for your collection also seem to hold a lot of meaning; Divinity, Mythology, Exalted. All very heavy words. Why did you choose these words specifically? Heavy spiritual titles add a forced conceptual weight to the paintings. I want to contextualize these paintings with the long tradition of religious figure paintings. What is inspiring you now, or what are you obsessed with now that could influence your work? I am currently inspired painting texture. I want to work more with plaster, slick surfaces, raw canvas and neutral palettes. Whether or not figures will be appearing in my upcoming paintings is yet to be determined. Artist Contact Info: Website: http://www.davidaronson.com Instagram: @davidaronson VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 23
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GOLDROOM Words: Eve Reinhardt Photos: Tiger Tiger
AFTER THE SUCCESS OF HIS LATEST EP, EMBRACE, LOS ANGELES DJ, PRODUCER, SONGWRITER AND ARTIST, JOSH LEGG OF GOLDROOM, TALKS TO VNDL ABOUT THE ART OF DJ-ING, HIS DAILY LIFE AND TOUR SCHEDULE, WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO PLAY IN FRONT OF 40,000 PEOPLE, INSPIRATIONAL TACOS, AND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO DISCOVER HIS VOICE.
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What’s going on with Goldroom at the moment and what do you feel the most excited about? The project’s a couple years old. It sort of evolved from being a production-only thing to me touring around as a DJ, and then we launched a live project last year. So, you know, I play about 50% of the time as a DJ and 50% of the time with a full band, and I guess at this point we’re really getting close to finishing an album, which is really the crux of everything that I’m thinking about right now; and that will hopefully come out in the middle of next year. So that’s really the focus at the moment. Can you talk a bit about your career beginnings and how you got to be where you are now? Sure. Well, I was working at a record label—I started a record label with a friend of mine called Binary Records here in LA—and I was in a band called Night Waves, and we’d seen some success on the blogs, and there were people interested in signing a record of ours so we wrote a full length; but I was sort of the primary writer in the band, and I had like thirtyor-so songs that I’d written that the rest of the band wasn’t really interested in, or didn’t think fit the project, but that I really loved, so I had a six-month or year-long period where I was super depressed—because I had all these songs that I really loved but they didn’t have a home, and I didn’t know what to do with them. And so after a lot of soul-searching, I decided it would be good if I could start a solo project; because it allowed me the ability to collaborate with other people, which I was really interested in doing, and I started to get more interested in DJ-ing. So it sort of provided me an outlet to do that. And that’s how Goldroom was born. Since then.... I’ve always been a songwriter first and foremost. I’m like a DJ/producer-guy, but I think I’m like a lot of producer/DJs. You know, I was never a beat-maker, and I’ve been writing songs on my guitar since I was like 14. How much do you think being a DJ and playing for live audiences early on influenced your sound? That question’s interesting. For me I rarely think about the live end of things when I’m actually creating the music. Recorded music is really special to me. When I was a kid, music was always the soundtrack to my life, or a soundtrack to the life that I wish I had. And so it’s always been very escapist for me. And when I make music, I think I treat it that way as well. So rarely am I thinking about my real 26 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
life or how something is going to work. I think sometimes it’s kind of dangerous, actually, to try to imagine, or when you’re creating a song, to be thinking about how it’s gonna work live. You know, when you get down to the art of DJ-ing—for lack of a better word—I really love doing it. There’s a huge push and pull that happens, where, for me, I’m trying to balance educating the crowd and taking the crowd on a journey that I’d like to take them on, while at the same time being super aware of how they’re responding to it. And it’s that balance that I think a lot of DJs don’t follow. They’ll maybe decide on, like, the ten songs that they think are going to bang out the hardest and they’ll play those regardless of how anything goes. For me, finding a way to get from point A to point B—which is the beginning and then maybe the climax of the set—I know I want to go to these places, but it’s finding a way to get there in the context that crowd is excited about and energetic for. So it’s a real balancing act. And there are some DJs that are just real masters at this, and they can play any type of genre to any type of crowd and read them perfectly. And for me I’m a little bit different than that, because I think people who are coming out to see me DJ are coming out because they like the music that I make; and so I’m working within a little bit more of constraints, because I’m trying to educate and show people maybe a genre of music that they haven’t listened to very much, or a style of music that they don’t get to hear very often. So the thing that’s exciting to me is that every night I get to sort of take a tree of music that I’m excited to show people, but then I get to take a different path climbing the tree every night. There are so many concerts that completely change people’s lives—that stick with them forever as really important moments in time. I’m wondering if you have the same experience, but as an artist or DJ being changed by an actual audience? That’s a great question…and I’ve had a handful of performances that have taken me days to recover or come down from. And that’s what I look forward to. It’s a big reason why I do it. I’ve always had this view that the type of music that I play, if it was played in front of a really large group of people, would go really well. I think there’s elements of the type of music that I play that are sort of built for festival crowds. I played a festival in Mexico City called “The (Continued on page 116)
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S.O.S. Words & Photos: Eve Reinhardt
“THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP IS STILL FINDING A CONNECTION WHEN EVERYTHING FEELS FUCKED UP. AND WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING BUT YOU STILL KNOW THAT YOU CAN RELATE TO A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE.” - BRIAN VINCENT
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Would you mind just giving me a brief introduction and tell me what’s brought you to New York this week? Randa Leigh: I’m Randa. I’m currently from Portland visiting New York for a show that’s happening on Monday and looking forward to moving here in a month. Brian Vincent: Brian, doing the same thing, and I’m from Portland Tell me a bit about how you first met. Randa: We met in college through a poetry group, actually. He was the president of the college poetry group and I joined it, and he had been working independently doing hip-hop production and I’d been independently singing on hip-hop songs in Portland. It just kind of made sense to try and do something together. Do you remember your first love of music? Randa: I’ve been involved in music since I was three. I come from a long line of musicians. My dad’s a vocalist and my grandmother was a classical pianist—she played, like, eight instruments. She paid for my first piano lessons, got me my first keyboard and my first piano. And singing fell in my lap around the age of nine. I clearly remember that day. And then it just became a part of who I was in the church. I grew up in the church signing in the choir, watching my dad sing in the choir, my grandmother was playing on the piano at the church. Our family, historically, started the church that I grew up in, so music was just a really big part of my life in that regard. It wasn’t until I was much older that I thought ‘Oh, this might be something that I could actually make a living with!’ But it’s always been my passion to write, play and sing. And if you hadn’t been a musician what do you think you would have done? Randa: I started out wanting to be an accountant, and now my passion is feminism and working in non-profits focusing on domestic violence. That’s one of the bigger things that I hope one day to be able to influence. But I think a whole bunch of things would be going on otherwise. What about you Brian? Do you remember your first love of music? Brian: My first musical memory—I don’t even know how old I was. I was under 10. My dad took me to a Color Me Bad concert. That was my first concert. And he was a single dad, and 30 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
I think I was young enough and cute enough that I was, like, a babe magnet. So he took me through the whole single dad routine at the Color Me Bad show. I just always look back on that memory. I don’t know if it influenced me, but it’s really ironic to me because I kind of look like I could be in Color Me Bad now [laughter], so I feel like it planted the seed. But my background musically isn’t the same as Randa’s. I didn’t really start making music until I was maybe 19 or 20, and I didn’t really get serious about it until almost end of college, so…I didn’t grow up in a musical home. I taught myself to play instruments and stuff when I was much older, and I’m just a work-a-holic, I guess. I obsess just continuously. I don’t have as romantic of a story about music. And did you guys arrive at the decision to pursue music professionally together? Because making that leap from being a hobbyist, lets say, to actually paying your bills with money you make as a musician— that’s a leap. Randa: That happened so post-college for me. For me, I literally came out of college and the year I graduated I was like, Shit, I need a job and I got to pay some bills. What can be the bills? So for me it was kinda like, Who am I gonna be now? Brian: We’re really fortunate to have a really talented and supportive group of people around us. That’s really helped us generate revenue and make wise decisions. One of our closest friends really helped us start our careers and he’s still helping us to this day. He’s helped us license music, come up with PR strategies and so on. So we’ve had a really strong network of people that have helped us get to where we’re at. So what’s the writing process like for you both? Does one person instigate the process? Brian: If it’s too much of a formula I think you close yourself off to ideas, so I think we try to just go with ideas when they come and go back and narrow it down to what’s really working and what’s not. So we don’t try to lock in, “Okay, you’re the writer you you’re the guitarist.” It’s all about just sourcing the best idea. If you had a great idea we would take that idea and run with it [laughter]. Where do you get your inspiration from, independently from one another? Randa: Driving is a big one. I do a lot of my
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singing driving all the time. The other piece that is so random is the Enya Pandora station. Because I grew up as a classical pianist, listening to those songs, that’s how I compose things. I get inspiration from that for melodies and I’ve been doing that for years, that’s how I keep it fresh. Even though it’s Enya! Who’s your Enya, Brian? Brian: I’m obsessed with sound, with timbre, with how things fit together and process. So I read a lot about how recordings are made. I’m fascinated to hear how a great album is made—what happened in the studio, who is doing what, where was the microphone—I’m obsessed with stuff like that. Or, if I hear a sound, it could be just one tiny sound, maybe on a record that I hate, but it’s one sound that is beautiful, you know? And it’s like, How did they do that? And I get obsessed with trying to figure that out. And then I take that one sound and try to build it out into something that fits what we do. So, I’m really fascinated, constantly, with Kanye West. Every time he releases something it’s entirely new from the last time. It’s always sonically maybe three years ahead of what everyone else is doing; or sometimes it’s not even ahead, it’s just that no one’s ever done it. And I’m always fascinated by the stories about how he uses 15 producers in a room—Bon Iver is there, Pusha-T or Rick Ross is there somehow coming up with this style of music. It just fascinates me. So what’s an album that you wish you’ve made or been a part of? Brian: Oh man that’s a lot. To me the biggest statement album I’ve ever heard in my years— contemporary music, not looking back—was Yeezus. That album was so polarizing. People had either an extremely positive opinion or an extremely negative opinion, and sonically it was something you’d never ever heard. It’s a genre that is kind of the rock ‘n roll of our time. The rock ‘n roll of our time is hip-hop. These are the rock stars, and he did something that completely polarized music fans and I think that’s pretty fascinating. Is it important for you both for your music to have a strong message? Some people really view music as something that should be polarizing or socially aware, and some people might just view music as entertainment and pure fun. Do you feel one way or the other about it, and how is that reflected in your sound?
voice things that you want to talk about that you feel need a light to shine on it. Do you feel that way [Brian]? Brian: I think it just has to be organic. Like, Yeezus, for instance. Kanye West was a polarizing figure going into that. For him, to make an album like that was really organic because he’s this person that everyone has an opinion about, you know what I mean? So, for us, I think music makes sense right now. I don’t think we ever go into an album trying to force a message. But there’s things we’re very aware of, like, we’re both feminists, and we’re both socially aware, we’re both very against social injustice and all these important things, but at the same time, like you said, people also want to have fun with music. I don’t know, I think it’s a combination of everything. Randa: Yeah. Right now I feel like our music is very much wanting to be relatable. Things that twenty-somethings are experiencing, things that we all experience but don’t know that the other person is experiencing the same thing because no one is talking about it. I feel like those are the things that we really try and shine a light on with our music. It’s just more like interpersonal relationship stuff. Does that make sense? It makes perfect sense. Tell me a story about a song on your album or a story about the process of writing a particular song that resonates with you most. Brian: I…. Dead or Alive. Even though the beat is very happy it’s actually a very bittersweet song because it’s very much about...well, I don’t want to say what it’s about…but it has the sentiment of being extremely depressing but, at the same time, knowing somebody that cares for you and loves you, which I think a lot of people can relate to: being the person who’s really depressed but also somehow knowing that someone’s there for you. I think a lot of us can relate to being there for someone that feels that way. And that’s actually what that record is talking about. Randa: The music is always about something super dark, but the way we sing it or the way that we do the production you would never really know how depressing the shit is. Brian: Sometimes it’s just about having sex (Continued on page 118)
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MAGIC MAN Words: Ashley Canino Photos: Gavin Thomas
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When we chatted just a couple of hours before they hit the stage in Austin, Magic Man front man Alex Caplow [vox] imparted the band’s origin story. “Well, the project started when Sam [Lee] and I were traveling through the south of France after our freshman year of college. We heard about this program where you exchange labor for room and board. It’s a great way to travel and immerse yourself. We had a bunch of free time during the afternoon, when it was too hot to work, so we would make music on Sam’s laptop. And those became the first Magic Man songs.” The theme Caplow introduced here, and one of two that would pervade the conversation, is work. “One thing that we take pride in is how hard we work on our songwriting and trying to keep the consistency the music of every release up to a certain high standard in terms of how passionate we feel about each song.” The work has paid off. Their first full length album, Before the Waves, dropped in summer 2014 and received critical praise and the sort of fandriven fervor that would find them co-headlining a cross country tour throughout the fall. They have managed to differentiate themselves in a sea of twenty-something synth-poppers. Aside from consistent effort, the other of the band’s foci is a refreshing sense of openness. Though they are not simply mirrors of the musical space they inhabit, the band members readily share their influences: “When we first started writing and when we first started playing in bands, we were listening to Arcade Fire, The Postal Service, the Killers—a lot of that stuff. So that kind of comes out in the songwriting now,” Lee [guitar] shared. And that openness faces not just their influences, but their fans. Between @MagicMan Mondays on Twitter and a Reddit AMA the group makes a concerted effort to connect with the outside in an industry that can be notoriously vacuous despite it being built on audiences. The band’s name also speaks to their receptivity and appreciation of that quality in others: “One of the farms we were staying at hosted a circus festival where we met lots of circus performers and volunteers and nomadic traveling people, magicians and this one guy who was very friendly,” explained Caplow. “[He was] the first guy that we met that showed us around and was the first guy to hear the songs that we were working on. He called himself the Magic Man.” 52 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
Combining a willingness to work hard and a wide open mind, the band wrote and recorded Before the Waves, the follow up to two EPs. Caplow sees that process as a personal learning experience: “This was our first time ever really recording an album properly, and getting it mixed, and going through all the steps. … I’ve learned a lot about myself as a singer since we’ve been touring for the past year. And when we recorded the album I hadn’t had that much experience on the road singing any of the songs that we were recording at all. So it takes a lot of practice to get a vocal performance to do exactly what it’s supposed to for a song. And I feel like my voice would be stronger and I’ll have more practice singing the songs for the next album.” His observations parallel the path of honing a craft, one that is a physical outpouring tied not just to talent, but well-being and emotional space, right up against the deceptively simple, “practice makes perfect.” Though there was a learning curve, the group maintained their focus through the process: “You know, we spent a year writing for this album and dozens of hundreds of ideas and cut it all down to what we thought was strong. We structured them and just tried to think of them—the album—as more than just a couple of singles next to each other, but a collection—a cohesive collection of songs that work well together as well as by themselves. That was our end goal.” When it comes to future projects, Magic Man is focused more on touring right now than writing new material. But they are open to working with other artists, and the more challenging, the better. “We love collaborating,” Lee shared, just days before Magic Man would release their remix of Prides’ “Out of the Blue.” “It’s always fun working with people, whether it’s on their music or your music it’s always great to have another voice. I always say Kanye when people ask me [with whom I would like to collaborate]. He’s done a lot of really interesting collaborations in and outside of his world and I always think it’s fun to try to push into things where you’re not necessarily comfortable. And I think working with Kanye would be very uncomfortable.” Caplow’s dream collaboration comes from a more visceral place: “I want to work with Robyn and make some more dance music. To write or collaborate with Robyn or maybe
whoever produces Robyn. I love the way the music makes me feel and as well as makes me dance. I would love to write dance music like that. It would be fun to work with someone who knows what they’re doing.” The close of 2014 still holds a lot for Magic Man. In mid-December they will embark on a mountaintop adventure for artists and fans that will double as a ski trip and video shoot. But what they seem to be looking forward to the most are a pair of shows in Boston, MA and Providence, R.I., both cities they call home.
When Lee talks about the prospect you remember again that these hardworking, focused, professional musicians are also young people who can appreciate the less rigorous elements of life: “[Playing at home] is always great. You go home and you sleep in your own bed and kind of relax a bit.” “We have really supportive fans in Boston. Usually it means we’re playing to all of our parents, which is always fun. You get to see friends and family. We love coming home.”
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EUGENIA LOLI Words: Liam Smith
EUGENIA LOLI IS A GREEK-BORN COLLAGE ARTIST, ILLUSTRATOR, AND FILMMAKER MOVING HER MEDIUMS IN EXCITING NEW DIRECTIONS WHILE DRAWING ON HER VAST IMAGINATION.
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Her collage images are a formalist breath of fresh air in an art world obsessed with theory and in a medium used often in merely to comment on social issues or as vaguely pretty dorm art. Instead she is interested in the absurd, juxtaposition, narrative, and the construction of personal meaning by the viewer. Her work feels freshly contemporary despite the historical imagery she uses. Lastly, and perhaps most uniquely, she is interested in giving her artwork away for free and in lifting copyright restrictions. In Loli’s work, the old idea of the humanity-improving quality of art is alive and well even in this deeply cynical age. Can you explain your process? Where do you get your images? Do you prefer to use analog or digital means to create your works? Why? I usually start by finding an image that I want to collage. This “base” image serves as my foundation for any building-up that I do on top of it. I have 700 vintage magazines (a gift from an old collector) to source my images, but often I search online too. My collages are digital since as prints they look almost identical to paper collages (as prints), so I can work more quickly this way. However, I also do illustration on the side, and that’s always on watercolors and paper because I can’t replicate the “imperfect” look on a PC. But for collage, since I’m very careful to not use digital-only tricks (e.g. vectors, transparencies, textures etc.), they look so similar to paper collages, that I see them being used interchangeably online. Do you have any influences and if so who are they? David Delruelle, Cur3es, Bryan Olson, Hugo Barros, Beth Hoeckel, Jesse Treece, Caroline Alkire and more. I’m not a huge fan of old-style collage. From the old collagists, I really only like Karel Teige. I believe that he would have a great career if he was making art still today. I don’t hold the same belief for other old collagists, but then again, art is subjective. Other artists that have influenced me are Magritte, Dali, and Picasso. From the much older artworks, I really like Émile Friant’s “La Toussaint”. I saw it in Nancy, France a few years ago, and it captivated me. Much of your work seems to touch on issues of femininity and the relationship between men and women. Why is this? I believe that the female presence is one of the most beautiful and best themes to work with as an artist. As for my relationship-related work, a 56 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
lot of us spend a lifetime searching for our true love (I know I did before I met my husband). The hope that my other half exists somewhere in the world took over most of my brainpower for almost 30 years, so now it manifests itself in collages. Many of the images you choose come from midcentury American pop culture and advertising. Why did you choose this aesthetic for your source images? Do these old images relate to contemporary society or are you trying to say something about the past? I don’t think they relate directly to our contemporary society (other than as misplaced nostalgia), but they sure look pretty, and they’re not a hassle to use legally (at least in the US where fair use is strong). The kind of Kodachrome film used at the time (1950s-60s) makes the picture look like a painting rather than a photograph (clear separation of only the basic colors, very low contrast, hazy detail), so this helps for collages to look like a surreal painting, and not like “photographs in a photomontage”. In the late 70s they started using a different kind of film, where it made everything look very dark and contrasty, and this completely killed the surreal painting look. Digital cameras today also shoot the same way as these later film technologies (in terms of contrast and colors), so they’re also not the best tool for collaging, if we’re after that specific vintage look. You often seem to use nature or the universe as a foil to modern culture in your works. What is the significance of this? Space-based collages are the most popular among viewers, in my experience. I would love to say that we’re living in the space age, and that collage reflects that today (and it could very well be the case), but my own interpretation is different. I think that the reason a lot of these collages are popular is because of plain escapism. This is maybe too bold to say it out loud, but it’s just my opinion on the matter. The most successful collages for me (and for others) have been the ones where you marry the most mundane things in life (e.g. taking a bath, cooking, eating, climbing stairs, driving, etc) with the most extraordinary ones (e.g. space, or surreal landscapes). My first “hit in the collage world was a collage showing a car driving on a road to a nebula. As much as I’d love to claim a “hidden artistic meaning” in it, at the end of the day, I still think that a lot of “pop” collage out there just serve escapism.
Everything is a Remix
Three Minutes to Nirvana
A Question of Candy
My more serious work, with a lot of hidden meanings that need interpretation (and I have a number of such collages, with “Three Minutes to Nirvana” being the most deep of my works), were never as popular as the more exotic but also simplistic space collages. Can you explain the importance of narrative in your work? Narrative is what drives modern pop collage. The artist must find a way to setup the circumstances using the various pictorial elements, but the final “aha moment” must be left to the viewer. By having the viewer “decode” the simple story shown (and it’s often a dead-simple story), it produces the same kind of enjoyment and satisfaction to him/ her as if they just won a level of Tetris. It’s the exact same brain mechanism that works in both cases. Collages that are able to be both simple enough, and leave something to the viewer to do (rather than just stare), are the most successful in my experience. They’re not easy to think them up though. Collages that are very abstract (and I have done some of these too) seem to gain the respect of fellow artists, curators and galleries, but not necessarily the respect of the public at large. So it’s a difficult balance to achieve. Personally, I’m interested both in deeper, abstract works, and easier “pop” works. I prefer to not be defined as only one or the other. Both have their place for me.
due to the freeness. Right now, everything is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial (ok to use for personal projects only, but extra licensing is still required for commercial reasons). Eventually, when I’m done with collage, everything will be re-licensed as plain Attribution (ability to even use my work for commercial purposes). What are you working on next? A TV series script! That’s my ultimate goal as an artist. I find that film is where my heart really belongs to, not collage or illustration (although I do these instead because they don’t require thousands of dollars and a full crew to implement). A film can convey ideas and stories that are far superior than anything collage can do. Some paintings by the old masters might be able to compete with film, and be very emotive, but collage, where we can’t control it completely (due to the nature of found as-is material), can’t compete with film. If someone wants to have a true cultural impact today, film is where it’s at, in my humble opinion. Website(s): cargocollective.com/eugenialoli Tumblr: eugenialoli.tumblr.com Instagram: eugenia_loli Twitter: @EugeniaLoli
Would you call yourself a Surrealist? If so, what would you say is the significance of Surrealism in the twenty-first century? Yes, I’m a Surrealist at heart when it comes to my collages. I see Surrealism as that point in time where a significant change in human history happened, about how not only we see art, but also how we see ourselves in the cosmos. Surrealism brought us a way to imagine ourselves in a place outside of the confinements of this planet. This is the first step of ascending as a species. Why do you allow people to print your artwork for free? There are many reasons why people do art. Personally, I do it so I can share it. The more people have a hold of it, the happier that makes me. My art is what I will be leaving behind: I have no children, neither I’ll have any, due to past health issues. So I make art. Besides, most people still prefer to buy rather than print themselves, so I haven’t really lost any revenue VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 63
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COLLEEN DURKIN Tell us a little about yourself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m 29, I live in Chicago. I just got a huge new studio two minutes from home. I’m really obsessed with my mom right now. I’ve been shooting a lot of still lifes of left over food. Working on a new zine. Preparing for winter, and planning motorcycle trips to warm places.
Travel. Ride motorcycles.
Where did you grow up? North Tonawanda, it’s a suburb of Buffalo New York. Home of the Carrousel, and Wurlitzer organ. Describe yourself in three words Fast. Right. Bad. When did you first pick up a camera? In high school. The girl I had a crush on was taking photography, so of course I had to. What are you currently working on?
How do you like living in Chicago? Love it. This city is so rad. I’m never bored, and I’m never hungry. Advice for Aspiring photographers Connect with people. Collaborate. Shoot constantly. Always promote yourself. Some of the most successful people I know are shameless self promoters. Know what you like to shoot, and have fun with it. Be focused. Hard work is what will see a project through, not just good vibes and positive energy. Relish in your success, it may not last. Be top dog as long as you can. Ride the white pony into the sun. Don’t slack on your taxes. Website: colleendurkin.com Instagram: colleendurkin
I’m working on a series called My Mother Myself for a show in January. She recently divorced and moved to Florida, and we’ve been visiting each other more than ever. I’ve been trying to document our relationship. I have a terrible memory, and I’m scared if I don’t photograph our memories I’ll loose them. It’s been going really well. I’m also collaborating with an interior designer shooting girls in spaces, and a few local fashion and jewelry designers. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? You win some you loose some. Best part of the job? Working with friends. Worst Part of the job? Other people’s attitudes. Aka tudes. Aka energy suckers. VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 65
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KYLE DOROSZ Tell us a little about yourself.
Advice for Aspiring photographers
I shoot people, instantly if possible.
Make friends. Stay in contact with those friends. Be nice to those friends. One of those friends will hire you one day.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in the great state of Maryland. Old Bay makes everything better. Describe yourself in three words Quick. Impatient. Loyal.
Website: kyledorosz.com Twitter: @kyledorosz Instagram: @kyledorosz Tumblr: Kyledorosz.tumblr.com
When did you first pick up a camera? My first memory of taking a photograph was around 7 years old. I thought I was inventing the sunset photograph. I was sadly beaten to the punch. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Befriend the bear but hold onto your gun. Best part of the job? Freedom Worst Part of the job? Freedom What do you like to do in your spare time? Museums and movies. Constantly trying to get inspired. How do you like living in NYC? Its a love/hate relationship. Weâ€™re currently getting along.
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HILARY WARBURTON Tell us a little about yourself.
Advice for aspiring actors.
Well, I am an actress here in NYC. I like dogs, pickles, wine, senior citizens, and one liners.
Be yourself, be human, don’t do this because you want to be famous. And stop talking about yourself loudly in the audition room; no one cares.
Where did you grow up? Somersworth, NH. Maybe you have heard of it... okay, probably not. I love NH, it’s a wonderful place to grow up. I mean the state motto says it all “Live Free or Die”
Describe yourself in three words. I asked my boyfriend and he said, “clumsy, small, and loud.” For the record, he is normally wrong (wink). I would say fun, strong and unique. What are you currently working on? My show Hilary... Stop Acting Stupid. It’s a one woman show turned series. I am an aquarius and I was born in an elevator; there is never a dull moment. I origionally wrote it after my mom passed away 9 years ago. From the time I was little, she would always say “Hilary... Stop Acting Stupid” while trying not to laugh. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Moisturize. Best part of the job? Entertaining people. Worst Part of the job? Auditioning and reading bad scripts. What do you like to do in your spare time? Spare time? What’s that? How do you like living in NYC? New York has been good to me, will I live here forever? Probably not. VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 69
MARCUS COOPER Tell us a little about yourself. I work in fashion marketing and I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I have been in NYC for about 4 years now and at this point in my life, I can’t see myself moving soon. My mother and my sister are the closest people to me. Where did you grow up? Warwick, RI Describe yourself in three words.
and you can walk for miles and never get bored. Advice for aspiring photographers. Stay true to your vision and, in the beginning, take all the opportunities you are given. Website: marcus-cooper-tqab.squarespace.com Instagram: @marcuscooper Tumblr: marcus-cooper.com
Open, creative, curious When did you first pick up a camera? I first picked up a camera on my trip to Europe with my sister in the winter of 2011. We were on a boat going through the Greek Islands and I remember thinking I never wanted to forget that moment. What are you currently working on? I am never always working on one thing. I try to work on something new and look for new faces to inspire me. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Emit your own frequency. Best part of the job? Connecting with inspiring people and learning about my work and myself. Worst part of the job? Not enough time and resources to make all my ideas come to life. What do you like to do in your spare time? Travel, socialize, explore new restaurants and listen to podcasts. How do you like living in NYC? I think it’s fantastic. The energy is always high VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 71
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MOTHER FEATHER Words & Photos: Eve Reinhardt
THEY’RE FUN. THEY’RE BRASH. THEY’RE SEXY. THEY’RE EVERYTHING YOU LOVE ABOUT ROCK N’ ROLL. EPIC AND BEST EATEN LIVE, NEW YORK’S UNDERGROUND MUSIC SCENE QUEENS ARE ALL BLOOD AND BALLS. THEY ARE: MOTHER FEATHER.
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Can you just give me a little background on Mother Feather?
Where do you draw inspiration from the most?
Mother Feather started because I needed to be able to express my heart bursting in the most fun, beautiful, and terrifying way I could think of.
Always love. Lately Narcissister, James Brown, that Tove Lo remix, this weather.
What are you working on now and what are you the most excited about at the moment? Joshua Valleau is producing a track for us that I could not be more excited about. His badguy fearlessness and studio genius shines so brightly in the work he’s doing. He captures the characters in the band so well and he has such a profound understanding of what Mother Feather is. I’m learning what an incredible producer can do. It’s thrilling. As a fan, I personally think your live performances are among the best in New York. Mother Feather is definitely something I’d describe as an experience. For readers who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing you guys live, how would you describe your music and how would you describe one of your shows? I don’t want anyone to feel as though they’ve wasted their life or money. That is highly motivating to not suck. Its greatest potential is pop-rock-catharsis for everyone present. How would you describe your characters on stage? What are they like? What do they eat for breakfast? We’re not playing characters. They’re us—Ann and Lizzie. We’re friends, we love each other, and we love to dance and howl and fuck shit up, cause we can. There is no spare time in a life of service to that. We’re busy. We eat coffee and eggs. We talked a bit about this the other day, but one of my favorite quotes that I read off of your site was, “We’re Mother Feather and we’re here to fuck you.” I get such a kick out of that, and it’s totally in line with everything you are and everything you do on stage. I admire how liberating it must feel to go to such an extreme with your music. All that said, was there a moment when you switched gears and decided to go to those extremes creatively? If yes, why did it happen and what was the result? No it was definitely, “We are Mother Feather and we are going to fuck you with our music.” I think a friend said it as a joke and I used it for promo because I thought it was great. That’s what good music does. Nothing is an accident. 74 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
You’ve said how much you love your fans. Can you share your most memorable fan moment? I think it was seeing the face of one of our incredible and enthusiastic fans after one of our shows. He was beaming and drenched and he looked absolutely dazzled. So open and elated. Just seeing his face made me feel great, he didn’t have to say a word. Tell me about your new album. How is this one different from the last and what inspired the new material? We have been releasing this second EP as singles, but they are all ultimately part of a larger batch of 12 songs. They all sound like Mother Feather—and we get to decide what that sounds like as we go along. What would be your advice to up-andcoming artists? Work hard, be nice, and don’t fucking suck. What is your advice to up-and-coming female artists, specifically? Word hard, be nice, and don’t fucking suck. Artist: Mother Feather Website: motherfeather.com
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GAZELLE TWIN Words: Ashley Canino Photos: Tash Tung
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DESPITE THE HIDDEN FACE AND OVERHANGING BLUE HOODIE, GAZELLE TWIN’S LATEST LP, UNFLESH, PROMISES TO BRING LISTENERS CLOSER TO THE PERSONAL LIFE AND MEMORIES OF MUSICIAN ELIZABETH BERNHOLZ. HERE SHE EXPLORES HOW THE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN THE UNKNOWN AND THE EXPOSED INFLUENCES HER MUSIC AND ARTISTRY.
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Would you describe Unflesh as a concept album? I think I would in that its content comes from a series of very strong ideas, yes. I prefer to write albums which have a theme that I can absorb myself into for a long period of time and explore. These concepts normally emerge from personal experience, but not exclusively. In Unflesh I am immersing myself in the world of the physical body, exploring the notion of it being a carrier for all of our experience in life. Which track on the album is most personal to you? They all are, but the most direct and the most autobiographical is “Anti Body.” It is like a sort of diary entry from past to present. I wrote it deliberately in simple way, as I would have done as a teenager, so the language is such that it’s like a confessional. I didn’t intend to write a song about this moment in my life deliberately it sort of just happened. How has your music shifted or grown in the years between Unflesh and The Entire City? Structurally and aesthetically I think it has simplified greatly. I was very determined to refine my vocal style and production skills to create something more direct and hard-hitting. I didn’t want another album which felt as though it was floating around in a gentle haze, but one which was firmly rooted into the ground and very much part of a familiar, at times harsh reality. What is your video creation process like? I get ideas for videos at different times, for different reasons. Very often I have a concept that bears no real relationship with the song itself or before a song is written--it’s a flexible thing. I am always involved in the process of filmmaking from beginning to end, as I think it’s important that the concepts and aesthetic are consistent and that I have the chance to realize my ideas as much as possible, even when working with others. I have only worked with two filmmakers so far; my friend Esther Springett, who is a multidisciplinary artist in her own right, and Chris Turner who is a full time director. Both Chris and Esther have a really great sense of the project and also enable me to be part of the process without any stepping on toes. What do you think your music contributes to the electronica scene that’s different from the work of other artists?
thinking about how my music fits into any genre or scene. I am only making work that comes out of my own experience, and combination of influences. I am pleased when I feel I might have chanced upon something that sounds unique, but it’s a rare thing. There’s always someone I am going to be compared to. It’s just the state of where we’re at in music history. There is SO much out there. What influences do you draw on that may surprise us? There’s really nothing that I don’t allow into my creative mind – I mean, to think that I have a choice in that would be completely nuts. It’s like trying to control your own dreams. Things go in without you knowing, and come out in a way you aren’t in control of up to a point. That goes for music as well as visual encounters, smells, feelings, films, conversations, nightmares. I’m interested in things that might seem mundane too, like going to the supermarket or the carwash. They’re the places you don’t expect much to happen… Has being named one of Spin’s Best New Artists this summer opened any doors for you? I’m not sure there have been specific doors opening up for me, but it is certainly helping with the exposure and support of Gazelle Twin in the States. I will be touring there in November so it’s great to have had a few months of really great press out there. Without that I am a complete unknown! The critics have compared your work to many other artists including The Knife and Aphex Twin. What comparisons strike you as totally off base and which make a bit of sense? I get a lot of comparative reviews, I am very used to seeing the same names come up again and again. There’s also loads of artists I am compared to, even accused of being directly influenced by, whom I have never heard of. I always find that quite amusing, especially when a writer seems convinced by it! I am a solid fan of The Knife, Aphex [Twin], etc., so whilst these comparisons usually seem obvious ones to make I am nonetheless flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence. Has being part of the Anti Ghost Moon Ray collective taken your music in any new directions? (Continued on page 12)
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BECOMING ANIMAL: JAY KILL & THE HUSTLE STANDARD Words & Photos: Eve Reinhardt
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“I want to make the music that’s motivating people to go for and achieve their dreams and goals; and not just go for it but to not stop, and to not let any obstacles stop them from getting where they want to be.” - Charley Hustle (a.k.a. The Hustle Standard) Can you start off by just saying your names and telling us where you’re from? Charley Hustle: Hi I’m Charley Hustle, I’m from Pennsylvania. Jake Hill: My name is Jake Hill and I’m from Plymouth Massachusetts. What brings you up to Denver this weekend? Jake: I’m up here in Denver New York, beautiful Denver, doing an interview here and also doing music videos and other forms of media for our new record, Becoming Animal —Jay Kill and The Hustle Standard—wuzuuuuuup! [Laughter] Charley: We’re at my house. [Laughter] What is the difference between this album and the previous albums you’ve made together, Stuck on the Sunrise, and New Men Old Boys”? Charley: It’s a totally different sound from the first two albums. It’s a lot more focused and there’s a lot more intention behind what we say. Can you be more specific? Charley: On the first two albums we made songs strictly that we, in the moment, just wanted to make and were inspired to make, and it was great; that’s actually really kind of awesome. And this album we thought about it more. We had a goal in mind along the way and that goal was to make songs that would inspire and motivate people, that would be a motivating soundtrack for people’s lives. Jake: I agree When you first started making this album, Becoming Animal, you were talking a little bit about how you wanted this album to be rooted in what you had done previously with Rob Bailey. Can you talk a little bit about that and the audience that you’re writing for? Charley: Yeah. With albums I’ve done with Rob 94 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
Bailey, that music has found an audience in the extreme fitness world, the bodybuilding world, and in the military community as well and I wanted to give them more. They enjoy the Rob Bailey stuff so much, and I wish Rob and I could make music more often but he and I are making stuff as fast as we can. But in the meantime I wanted to be able to give them more music, so when me and Jake started talking about making a new record I was like “Hey dude, we should go down this path.” And it’s really rewarding to make this kind of music. With the feedback that we get from people, so…. Jake: Yeah. You make new music with the intent on people hearing it and being inspired by it, and that doesn’t happen most of the time. Most of the time it just goes unnoticed. But when you find an audience to listen and to spread your music for you without having those huge PR budgets, you can find a way to spread the news organically, and focus your intentions on that audience but still make the music that you want to make. You can’t push it too far, though. I have my things and Charley has his things, but you can sort of massage it into a certain genre that is completely…well it’s not completely new, but it’s not…it hasn’t been just absolutely beaten to death like so many other genres of music. It’s just fresh and positive and motivational. It’s amazing to me. Charley: And I think even though we’ve sort of changed our sound we’re still being very authentic to ourselves. And I personally feel like this might be the most me, the most honest. At least on the parts that I provided. I’ve been the most authentic to myself on this one. Why was it more authentic for you? Charley: Just the way I feel about what I’ve contributed. It just feels like I’m not selfconscious of what it is. Yeah. I can stand by everything I’ve done on this one. Are you usually self-conscious about what you do on your albums? Charley: Yeah, I mean…because when I started making music I started from this producer/ songwriter position. And now I’m sort of becoming more and more of an artist. So I’m putting my voice out there to people before I’ve even had time to develop what that sound even is, vocally. You know—do I write more, do I say more, do I not use Auto-Tune, do I use it? That type of thing. Now I feel like I’m starting to figure out what my voice really is and figure out how I can get my feelings across the best way, the most authentic way.
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So talk about your writing process. Charley: Me and Jake write really fast Jake: Yeah, it’s really awesome— Charley: Compared to a lot of other people I’ve written with, or even writing alone, me and Jake, we get ideas out really fast. And even with this new album and trying to stay on message we still were able to write six songs in four days, something like that. And because I felt like I had to set the mood and the vibe—because I was the one that was like, “We should go this direction”—I sort of had to bring Jake into that and show him what I was talking about. Jake, how did you feel when you found out that you guys were setting out to write for that specific audience, for people who live extreme lifestyles? I imagine that was really different from what you’re used to? Jake: I was really excited. But I was a little bit nervous because I’ve never written a song exactly like this. But that’s also what 96 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
excited me because I’ve been doing this shit for ten years, you know? But it’s all about challenging yourself as a writer; that’s how you become better. You need to keep pushing the boundaries and seeing where you’re at; and Charley is so good about staying on task— maybe too good about staying on task, but that’s how things get accomplished. So if I started to go off—because I can go really, really far pretty quick, just because I like to explore— he was like, “No, we need to stay within this parameter.” And I respect him as an artist and a friend so much that I was like, “Absolutely, we’re going to try this. And if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work but who cares,” you know? But we’re gonna make it work because this is what we’re here to do, these are our sessions, we’re sitting down to write these songs. And this is our third record together, so we know basically how the other is going to react. But it was different to have it more focused, and I think it was a more efficient way to approach it—we did six songs instead of four. We did more than six, actually, but we got six on the record. Charley: There was that challenge of when to
pull back, and that’s what I love about working with Jake. He helps me expand my thoughts and my content. But for this, on a lot of those lyrical journeys we’d go down before, every once in a while I would sort of stop them and say, “I think we’re getting off-topic.” But like Jake said, we work together a bunch, and by the end of the day we both know that we’re just trying to make the music we want to make, and no one’s doin’ it for personal reasons. But it’s still a little tricky to, like, navigate that creative relationship, you know, in the moment. You talk a lot about being on topic. So what’s the topic? What’s the message? Charley: I think for me I want to make the music that’s motivating people to go for and achieve their dreams and goals; and not just go for it but to not stop, and to not let any obstacles stop them from getting where they want to be.
did that literally for me, but music played such a huge part of my formative years and needing something to escape to, and needing something outside of my world to show me that there was a better world somewhere else and, you know, that there were other possibilities. And when I first started making music that was what I wanted to be…I wanted to inspire other kids the way that music inspired me. And then as my career moved along I sort of got lost in the idea that music needs to be like this or that—labels and publishers and all that. And somehow it’s come full circle, back to motivating and inspiring. What about you Jake? Jake: When I first started writing music it was more like commiseration tails. I wanted people to find hope, even in cheesy heartbreak teenage songs, because I went through that when I was a teenager. You know, I was really devastated a couple times and in very dark
And why is it so important for you? Charley: Because I feel like…not that I had any music when I was growing up that
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RICH AUCOIN Words: Kurt McVey Photos: Gavin Thomas
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A very specific feeling is evoked when you’re dancing around wildly beneath a rainbow colored parachute tarp with other humans, who at this point in their lives should by all rights be considered adults. As you may recall, especially if you happen to be an urban twenty-something suburbanite transplant, such an experience is normally reserved for elementary school kids during a particularly silly, year-end gym class. For Rich Aucoin, the energetic indie rock impresario from Halifax, Nova Scotia, nostalgia is only the base emotion behind the catalytic parachute, undoubtedly the show’s coup-degrâce, yet ultimately just one of many tools in his multi-sensory arsenal. During a typical set, audiences can expect to be bombarded with party poppers, noisemakers, and even a sweaty Aucoin himself, who can’t seem to keep himself on the stage, all while dreamlike video compilations comprised of Spielbergian classics from the mid-80s through the 90s (cultural ground-zero for millennials) flicker on the wall behind him. What are millennials exactly if not a generation of eternal children, at once synonymous with stunted socio-economic growth and a shared and seemingly chronic bittersweet heart condition? Neverland is no longer accessible by pixie dust alone. Now it can be attained for the price of a subway swipe and a few like-minded lost children willing to chip in on the rent. Aucoin embraces this notion wholeheartedly, choosing to celebrate this phenomenon as opposed to criticizing it and by default, “us.” In his latest album, appropriately titled Ephemeral, Aucoin dives straight into the heart of the matter with minimal traces of irony, while effectively synergizing the fleeting nature of childhood and life in general with the evanescent quality of live music, not to mention the viral, disposable trends found within pop culture. Presumably, in an Aucoin nightmare, pop culture in the millennial age is really just recycled baby food, filtered and processed by an unstoppable entertainment industrial complex, a machine that seems to trade exclusively in disposable ephemera. Art, music, fashion and film, are turned over like tables in a struggling chain restaurant. Ephemeral seems to ask; if the nineties decade was the end of history, which culminated with the general loss of innocence post 9/11, can millennials be blamed for their apprehension in subscribing to outdated paradigms for maturity and success? 104 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
Each track title on Aucoin’s Ephemeral touches on a feeling, emotion, thought, or exclamatory excerpt that was probably overheard once or twice during the Occupy movement (“They Say Obey”), the Democratic convention (”Four More Years”), or a roommate’s long distance phone call to an aging parent (“I Am Sorry”). In the album opener, “Meaning in Life,” Aucoin reminds us we only have roughly “30,000 days to our name,” hinting that despite descending authoritative voices, the tropes could very well be trappings as we anticipated, and that we might be on the right track after all. “Meaning in Life” builds slowly with moody, cinematic synths before launching into tribal drums and a cacophony of childlike voices. Much of Ephemeral liberally employs this angelic digital choir, actually thousands of live concertgoers that Aucoin recorded over the last three years on the road. For the album, Aucoin manipulates the vocal anthemia, chopping the swell into rousing chord progressions, as if it were any other digitized instrument filtered through a software plug-in. The second track, the bombastically glitched out “Want to Believe” was used for a recent and truly wonderful, high-energy music video that plays on Aucoin’s scruffy leading man good looks. In it, he plays Detective Wolf, who is shaken from his pre-apocalyptic trailer park “adult” malaise by a band of adventurous, helmeted kids who evoke The Goonies and the loyal foursome in Stand by Me. Aucoin plays homage to this aesthetic in a similar way that JJ Abrams paid homage to Spielberg in the latter’s forgotten cinematic experiment, Super 8 (2011), mercifully without trying to shamelessly remake something like E.T. outright. Every track on Ephemeral, though transient and brief, packs an orchestral, electro-pop rock punch. The whole shebang triumphantly concludes with “All the Same,” which begins with hectic strings and fortified by a raw marching piano lick and glued together by wavering male and female lead vocals that evoke an early and earnest Arcade Fire. It’s true, for the most part things do seem all the same these days, especially now that nostalgia is tried and true currency, but somehow, Aucoin’s collection of delightfully melancholic party jams, both light and heavy, feel entirely inclusive and surprisingly, pretty damn refreshing.
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FREDRO ÖDESJÖ Words: Charley Hustle (aka “The Hustle Standard”) Photos: Eve Reinhardt
I DON’T THINK [THE MUSIC INDUSTRY] IS EVER GOING TO BE AS GOOD AS IT USED TO BE... I THINK IT HAS TO KIND OF DIE TO GET FIXED.
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What’s your name? It is Fredrick “Fredro” Odesjo And what do you go by professionally? Fredro Where were you born and raised? I was born in Göteborg, grew up in Vänersborg, and then lived in Stockholm while producing for Murlyn music before moving over here. What do you do for a living? I’m a music producer and songwriter. And what is a typical day like in the studio with you? Well, if I have a session, you know, I’ll just meet the songwriter and the artist, and we just talk and get to know each other. And then we…. Upfront, I usually prepare music before so I have a couple tracks that are made specifically for this day, and then we go through them and see which ones they feel the most. And then we just start writing and recording. And how long does that usually take? Umm, writing a song usually takes, I guess, a day, or a couple hours. But to create the music and everything, and then also make some kind of mix to make it sound decent—I guess like two days, maybe three days all-in-all. What music first inspired you to start considering making music professionally? Well first, my older brother was a heavy metal guitarist. So, I kind of started with heavy metal, and I wanted to play guitar. [Clears throat] But I wasn’t that good. And then I heard hip hop and I was kind of sold. And that I was pretty much good at doing. So I started doing hip hop. That’s how I started in this business. Was there a particular artist or song that blew you away in the beginning? There was a song by—I think the group was called The New Generation or The Next Generation. It was produced by Teddy Riley. I think that must of been one of the first things he ever did. If you could only make one style of music for the rest of your life what would it be? I think I would like just to make 90’s hip hop. Boom bap. I would be happy doing that. I want to talk about stuff that comes up in 114 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
the studio and in music circles all the time. From your perspective, as a songwriter and producer, how has the music industry changed? I think it’s changed totally. I think it went from a good functional industry to an almost completely dysfunctional one. And I think with the income have gone down, I don’t know, it’s like 75% during the years—since Napster and all that came—it kind of went from a professional business to a happy amateur hour. Or at least that’s the way I see it goes. Why do you think it went there? I think the record industry, the record labels, went the whole wrong way about, you know, downloading and illegal downloading. First of all, illegal downloading and Napster and then to streaming. Instead of trying to tackle the real problem, or come up with their own idea, they just tried to shut down the other side. All the new inventions, when it comes to music, none has been from the music side. It’s all other people doing it, the inventions. So you think they were sort of lazy, and they didn’t want to think their industry would ever die? Yeah, you know, it’s very easy to sit in a office with a huge monthly salary and just take it easy. And I think that’s what happened, and still is happening. Is there any way to save the music industry, or is it something that needs to die and start over? Yeah, I think it has to kind of die to get fixed. I think it’s almost too late to fix it now. It could have been fixed if, you know, if the record labels didn’t had agreed with all the streaming services to get almost like a payola from them, or, you know, they get advances, and they got a stake in each of those companies like Pandora and Beats and Spotify. If they hadn’t agreed on that and tried to come up with something themselves it would’ve been a solution. But now I think it’s, it needs to kind of drown, and then we’ll see what happens. Considering the current state of things, and assuming things don’t really change any time soon, what do you think the new model for being successful is? Doing it all on your own. Just doing it independent. Like, 99% of all songwriters (Continued on page 124)
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GOLDROOM (Continued from page 26) Holy Festival of Colors,” and I was expecting there would be one-thousand people there; and completely unbeknownst to me fortythousand people showed up. Yeah—it was by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of—it was incredible. Not that I would’ve done anything else, but I didn’t even have time to process what was about to happen, so all I knew was that I was going to go up and play the type of music that I’ve been trying to spread. I’ve always had faith that it was going to work. And it was an incredible ninety minutes. And like I said it took about a week to come down off of it. There’s something very different and very special about looking out onto a crowd of people where you can’t see the back because it stretches so far...and that was a really special experience that I will never forget. And after…you know, it would’ve been really easy to go out afterwards, after the set and party, but I was sort of put in such a weird emotional place from it that I just went back to my hotel and stayed up for like half the night just thinking about it and feeling…I don’t know...it is a really weird situation, and playing in front of a crowd like that is so different. What is a day in the life like for you? Well I certainly try to be disciplined. It’s hard, right? Because I’m touring so much that I can’t necessarily…like, I never have two weeks that are the same. If I’m in Los Angeles and I’m not on the road, my day is pretty simple and I’m at the studio as early as I can get there. I live downtown and I have a studio in Echo Park, so I go there and I usually like to work in the mornings and afternoons more than I do at night. On a normal day, especially if I have a session set up, which I try and do as much as possible, I’ll get in and I’ll work on songs that are in various different forms of completion or I’ll work on new ideas. When I have sessions I’ll often work on new ideas for that session; and then hopefully, in the case of having a session with a singer or something like that, the person will come in, and in some cases it’s kind of like a blind date and I’ve never met them before, and the plan is, we’re gonna come in and write a song together, and that’s one of the most exciting things to me. You know, I live and breathe in the studio, and that’s the place where I feel the most comfortable, so I love doing co-writes; and getting people in the studio is one of the most exciting things to me. So, you know, the session will last 4 or 5 hours, and there’s always a goal to get a song finished in a session, and then—I think I’ve gotten 116 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
pretty good at this point at having something to show for an afternoon of work. So as far as my normal workday that’s the way it goes. But then for the most part, to be honest, what feels like the most typical day for me is waking up at four in the morning and getting an Uber and going to LAX and flying somewhere. Or I’m getting Uber from a different hotel and going to a different airport, and then showing up in a new city and getting picked up and having dinner, and playing in a club I’ve never played before, and meeting new people, and then going back to the hotel and doing the whole thing the next day. So tell me a little bit about the new project that you’re working on. I was listening to you’re other two albums, “Embrace” and “Angeles,” which both sound amazing—and both so different from each other. What was going on in your life when you made those albums that made them so different from each other? Well, Angeles came out of the end of my last band Night Waves. So that was me being really independent, and sort of relishing in the opportunity to make things completely on my own. And that record sounds that way because that was me and a couple friends in the studio, and that’s me singing on every song. And, you know, to be honest I think that’s the biggest thing that makes that EP stand out - the fact that my vocals are there on every song. And when I started to move forward with Goldroom I was remixing a lot of artists and most of them were female vocal-led tracks. And in the early going of Goldroom the thing I became the most popular for were my remixes, so I got really interested in the idea of working with female vocalists. So it started with a song that I had written and I’d sang on called “Fifteen.” And I still have the demo that I sang on and I still like the way it sounds; but, you know, there was a thought that if we had a breathy female vocalist that we could do something special with the song. And my manager introduced me to Cella, and we got her on the song, and it was something really special. That sort of prompted me to want to write with more people and to explore cowriting in that way. And so the Embrace EP is definitely the year that I spent getting to know the world of co-writing and getting to deal with, write songs with, and collaborate with, various people. So that’s where Embrace really came from. What’s different about the way that the full-length record is coming together now—and I think you can hear it in the single that I just
put out called, “Till Sunrise”, which will be on the record—is that I’m trying to make things come from a more personal place. Those songs mean a lot to me from the Embrace EP, but it’s very difficult for me to marry the type of production that I want to do and writing with different people, while still making things sort of as emotionally resonant and important to me as the songs that I might write on acoustic guitar for myself. So what I’ve really tried to do with this record is marry those two things. I’m hoping that the record is sort of in-between the first two EPs. The vibe of the Embrace EP is what I love about Goldroom and how I’d like to move forward, but I’d love for the songwriting to get better. So in my mind, I’m getting pretty close to finishing it and I feel really good about the fact that I think the songwriting is more true and right and more emotional, and just more myself. If you’re having a rough time getting the creative juices flowing, and you have to go to a well of some kind to pull inspiration from another source, where is the first place that you turn to? I work so much with computers and synthesizers when I’m at the studio. And, you know, it’s funny because I have so many options that if I get blocked and I don’t know what to do, it tends to be because I have so many options. Picking up my acoustic guitar in a different place tends to lighten things up for me in such a way that I almost never keep that block. And for some reason I’ve always been able…I’ve never gotten all the way to the point where if I pick up a guitar I can’t figure out something to think about. So the thing about Goldroom is, the name comes from a bar in Echo Park called Goldroom. And it was and still is the place that if I need some time to think on my own, or if I need some time for a drink on my own, that’s where I go. And when I’ve had difficult life decisions to make, including whether or not to start a solo project, I would find myself in Echo Park at Goldroom. And you know, it’s just a very small Mexican bar on sunset in Echo Park that mariachi bands used to play at all the time, and they have dollar tacos, and for four dollars you can get a tequila shot, free peanuts and a can of Tecate. And it’s just my perfect home. So when I’ve had difficult times, it’s at a place where I can go to get drunk and figure out— hopefully figure out—how I can solve a problem that’s going on in my life. What remains your biggest insecurity as in artist? And is there any sort of personal or professional philosophy that you adopted
over the years that helps you get through it? I don’t have a bad voice but I think that I do. And this is a problem for me because I would love it if Goldroom came completely from me, vocally. I sing a lot when we perform live but that is absolutely my biggest insecurity. I find it amazing when people have extreme confidence in their voices. I just never have. I know we touched upon this a bit, but with your new album is there something that you’re most proud of, and is there a particular song that you could use as a good example of that? Well there is a certain song—I don’t want to say what it is—that I think I’ll be singing on the record. I certainly have been singing it live. I think it really encapsulates everything that I believe in and that I feel Goldroom should sound like. And it’s a very personal song, lyrically, and to me that’s the biggest thing. There are some examples on Embrace, but there wasn’t necessarily giant parts of me in the songs; and for this record—this record is a true description of where I’m at in my life, influence wise, and every song tells a little bit of a different tale as far as who I am and where I’m at in my life and what’s inspiring me. You know, the record itself is a bit of a love letter to Los Angeles. I’m really excited for that to come out. In some ways I feel better about this than anything else I’ve done because of that. At the end of the day, I know it’s true and I know that it really represents exactly what I wanted. So in some ways it actually makes me less nervous. How do you want to be remembered as an artist? Well the thing that I’m scared about more than anything else is being known for being part of a specific scene or a part of genre that was cool for a moment. For me, the artists that I look up to most are the artists that wrote timeless songs. I mentioned Tom Petty before, and I think if Freefallin’ came out tomorrow it would be a popular song; and I think if Freefallin’ came out in the 50s it would still be a popular song. I really want to write songs that I could get up on stage and play for people on an acoustic guitar, and I want them to sound great in the moment as well as with the type of production that I applied to it originally. I don’t know…for me, at some point in my life, if people can think of me as a songwriter first I think I will be happy, because that’s how I think of myself. I just want to write songs that can mean something. Artist: Goldroom Website: goldroom.la VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 117
S.O.S. (Continued from page 33) Randa: Yeah that too. But it’s just about the realities of relationships and interpersonal interactions, which I feel, like, a lot of music right now is not discussing. It’s all very fluffy and cotton candy— Brian: Well not all of it— Randa: No—but I feel like a lot of your general pop music is. And I think the loneliness comes when people aren’t feeling like they’re sharing the darker parts because, you know, like...does this make sense? Brian: Yeah, you’re saying exactly…. The most beautiful part of interpersonal relationship is still finding a connection when everything feels fucked up. And when you don’t know who you are, and you don’t know where you’re going, but you still know that you can relate to a handful of people. That’s what we really wanted to paint. That’s really the picture that we wanted to paint because that’s where we were in our lives when we made it, and probably will be for the rest of our lives. I think you always experience that—no matter what age you are— to some degree, and we just felt that was—and is—a really beautiful struggle. It’s a struggle… it’s a human struggle. Randa: It’s twenty-something struggle—that’s what I like to call it! Twenties and thirties, and trying to figure out who you are. So what do you like the most about working with Brian? Randa: I can be absolutely honest in the studio about how I want to sound, how I don’t want to sound, what I like about something that we’ve written, what I don’t like…. Some people feel that when you go into the studio that the producer has all the say. [Brian’s] a lot of the production but we don’t have that kind of relationship. I can say “I don’t like that, we should change it.” And we can both do that collaboratively. I like that we can be brutally honest. Brian: Randa is just raw talent and it blows my mind. I would not consider myself a musician. I’m just not naturally inclined. I have to work over and over and over again to figure something out; whereas Reina, she can hear it and go through it once and then nail it. And it blows me away, it’s really amazing. Sometimes I’m jealous of shit of it, but it’s cool though.
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If you could possess one talent that Brian has that you don’t what would that be, and vice versa? Randa: Well, yeah, there’s a little list— Brian: A little list?! [the whole room bursts into laughter] It’s not a long list?! Randa: The knowledge! [laughter] The knowledge of the production world. Like, I can look at the program and I can see it all and I can know when to sing and when not to sing, but I don’t know what any of it means really. And just the depth and knowledge of the industry. For me, I’m too creative, and my brain just shuts off when it comes to the technical stuff. But I do want that. I envy that part. All the technical knowledge of it all and being able to literally sit for three days in a row with headphones and pound out music. That’s pretty awesome. Brian: Obviously there’s a lot of things…but number one is that Randa is able to be a lot more free than I am. She’s able to let go and not overthink it because she’s just raw talent. I sometimes get really trapped thinking about everything. I can’t always be free while I’m doing it, like, recording or writing or composing. I’m always thinking about where does the puzzle fit? And Randa can just step in, connect to it, and do it. Sometimes I really wish…I’m learning to do that more, to be more free, because I think that would help our process a little bit more, for me to be more free creatively. And then I wish I could dance [the whole room laughs]. If I could dance, Color Me Bad would be coming back [more laughter]. So tell me a little bit about the new album and a little about your sound. Everyone talks about you guys having such a rich blend of genres. Randa: The sound—like you said—is all of our influences smooshed together. So, like, I come from a place of like soul and gospel and R&B and Dancehall and classical, and Brian comes from hip-hop and Blondie and everything else. And we really wanted to make something that incorporated all of that but had a more direct, dialed in sound. Brian: I think our goal isn’t to necessarily be a part of something that’s already out. We very much want to be the leader of something that we stumble across. We don’t know whether not we done that yet but that’s what we want to be. We want to be the first, we want to be the
thing that people start comparing other people and other artists to. Randa: Not to be pretentious or anything— Brian: No, it’s not being pretentious. Why else do it? Why else do it if you’re not leading, if you’re not trying to lead culture and lead a movement? I don’t think either one of us want to follow things for our careers; we want to start things. And that’s lofty and difficult and we’re still trying to figure that out. I think that’s why we’re doing this, you know? What are you each the most proud of? Randa: I’m really proud of the journey that my voice has made. I used to sing whatever I heard. Whatever I grew up listening to was what came out, stylistically. But in this journey [Brian] really pushed me to not sound like anyone else, to sound like me. And then I had to wonder what that even meant… and it took me two years to literally hone in and create…make my vocal chords do something different whenever I opened my mouth, and I can’t even explain what that feels like. It’s painful sometimes, but it was really interesting to create something new with my instrument. So that for me has been my biggest accomplishment. Brian: I think I’m most proud of…every now and then we will get a message from a fan or something like that, and some of them are really powerful. Like, we had someone message us on Facebook and she had told us that she was fighting an eating disorder. She was bulimic, and one of our songs helped her get through that. She listened to it every morning and she was recovering. Something like that you can’t ever...I’m always so in my head, and it’s always so easy to think about the music that you don’t actually take time to realize how it can affect people. And so when stuff…when we get a message like that, those are the most powerful things for me. Especially because we didn’t...we don’t necessarily write our songs to try and do that. So for that to happen organically I think we’re both really moved by that.
have as much faith in you as you will in yourself. Brian: I would also say that even though you get a manager, or even if you get a publicist, or even if you start building your team of people, don’t expect them to do everything for you. You still need to be very knowledgeable of everything. Obviously you allow them to take over and do their jobs. We have a wonderful team of people that do amazing things for us that we could never do on our own, but we’re still very aware to some degree of the nature of their role and what they do, and we had to do a lot of it on our own. We had to write press releases and bios and learn the industry. We had to do all those things. So you can’t just be talented. There is probably talent out that door, talent at every karaoke bar, you know? You can’t just be talented. You have to be focused and work hard and take it seriously. So you’re each moving to New York soon and you’re starting a whole new life. What are you most excited about? Randa: I’m excited about potentially playing more. That’s my favorite part of the whole thing, playing live shows. So getting that opportunity to be able to do that, I’m really excited about that. Brian: I’m excited about her family’s food! I’m excited about the cooking. The cookouts are amazing. Artist: SOS Website: xosos.com
What would be your advice for talented upand-coming artists who are really trying to get the stuff out there? Randa: Never give up. No matter how hard it seems you are always 99.9% there, right before you’re about to give up. Have a lot of faith in yourself. Because no one is going to VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 119
LITTLE MAY (Continued from page 18) philosophy that helps you overcome that? Annie: I think I have a lot of self-doubt at times. I’m always like, “I’m shit at this, why am I even trying?” [Laughter] But I don’t know, it’s almost like you just have to keep going and push through, and then sometimes the best things come out of that mindset. Liz: I have always been quite insecure about the way that I play guitar and write music because I was self-taught. I think I’ve gotten over it now. I’m getting over it but it still needles in my mind a little bit. But initially I was just kind of, like, really…because technically I don’t play properly. I’m sloppy as hell when I play guitar— Hanna: That’s not true— Liz: But I’ve come to realize that it might be good that I taught myself and learned by ear because I would like to think that maybe I’m doing my own thing. But I definitely think I have insecurities about my musicianship. But we can still write songs, so that’s okay. Hannah: For me I tend to—as these guys have said—doubt myself because I can only really write lyrics and come up with melodies. If I’m having a shit day where I’m not really feeling inspired or whatever, I tend to have to go away, and I’ll just write about anything, and I’ll just circle words or…just come up with little ideas and set them aside and just kind of keep them next to my bed and… I don’t know, it’s just one of those things where I think you just have to get everything out and then have some time to yourself and then come back to it. What are you most proud of with your EP and why? Liz: I’m really proud of all of us, actually. This is our first EP, but the progress that we’ve all made since recording the first recording, our first song, is actually quite astonishing, I think; because none of us had ever played in bands before; and I think it’s quite a hard thing to get up on stage and in front of a lot of people and own it and kind of back yourself; but I think we’ve done a really good job of just braving it and working hard towards being a good band, especially live, I think that’s really important for us. So that is definitely something that I think about. Annie: I think, because this EP, all the songs are pretty old, they’re some of the first songs that we ever worked on together, and it’s just taken us a really long time to get around to 120 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
releasing them, cuz I guess it was just a really long recording process with all of them, so…. But now they all sort of, like, symbolize that place where we started, and it’s been sort of—and it sounds really cliché but it’s been— such a journey since then. As Liz said, we’ve all come such a long way since then, so it’s like, I don’t know, it’s really awesome to just look back and be like, I remember the first time, the first demo that Liz did of Boardwalks and, you know, it was her hitting guitar cases and, you know…or like voice memos in the first songs, like, three years ago, and it’s so amazing to hear them in the finished form now and be like, “Wow, we’ve made a thing!” [Laughter]— Hannah: It’s like a baby— Annie: And even if were sick of some of the songs or we’re a bit over them, it’s still…we still love them. Hannah: Yeah and it’s exciting to reconnect with them. Every show that we do, those songs on the EP, we’ve got to dig deep somewhere to actually remember what they meant to [us] in the beginning, because you can get into the habit of just singing them for the sake of singing them, and you have to go back to that place that actually made you connect with that song in the first place and want to work on that song in the first place and want to become a musician. So I think that’s why it’s really special to us. What are you working on now that you’re most excited about and how is it different from where you were before? Liz: We’re really excited to do an album. I think we initially thought that we’d be doing another EP because I just think we just thought that was thing to do. But because it took so long to get this EP out and work on our sound and our live performance and stuff, I think that we’re definitely working towards an album and we’ve got a lot of songs that we want to record. Now. [Laughter] Liz: We’re really excited. Hannah: I think we’re all excited to keep working on our live show as well. We know that we’re not there yet. Even though we’ve grown a lot from the beginning playing pubs and being scared —scared shitless—to now, growing in confidence and discovering new ways to perform, I think that’s something we’re excited about, to really push our live show. And
just keep writing. Is there one performance that really stands out that changed you guys, or that had a big impact on you? Annie: I think Splendour In The Grass was definitely a very surreal and amazing moment for us. It’s one of the biggest festivals in Australia and we’d been to the festival before just to go and see bands, so, to then be playing at it was just amazing. We had been rehearsing and preparing for that performance for months, and before we got on stage we were all sort of like huddling around in a little ring and Afrogalactic was playing and we were all singing along and getting pumped up, and it was just a really awesome performance. Hannah: Yeah we walked out on stage and it was really weird sense of calm because we’d worked so hard to…I don’t know, in moments like that you can’t do anything else but just take it in and enjoy it and, I don’t know, feed off of each other. And ever since then I feel like we keep going back to that place and we go, “We have to do what we did at Splendour. So that’s… I think that’s going to be the aim for awhile, just keep re-creating that. But yeah the crowd was just amazing. Liz: It’s pretty unreal. I really never thought that I would be on a stage. I’d dreamt about it but... So what’s the best advice any of you have ever gotten or the biggest lesson you’ve learned that you think you could pass on to other musicians? Liz: I think the best advice I’ve been given, or just something I’ve learned, is to not over-think things too much and to just try and take things as they come. And with songwriting, try not to over-complicate it too much and just do what feels right, rather than going by what other people are doing or what somebody might tell you to do; because everyone’s got a different opinion; and you know, no one’s ever going to know what’s best for you except for you. I think it’s hard for us to be dealing with…you know there’s a lot of different opinions people are giving us about what we should be doing and how we should be writing or presenting ourselves, and I think as long as you back yourself and you just go with your gut I think that’s probably the key to being happy. Hannah: For me it’s just really important to not be afraid to be honest to yourself when you’re writing. I remember I used to try and write
really cool lyrics, but when it comes down to it I’m such a dork and I’m so corny and I can’t help it. And do you find that really ends up working for you? Obviously it does, you know, your songs are so wonderful…but a lot of people struggle with that thought that they’re not “cool” enough, that they’re dorky, corny, or whatever, and feel terrified of letting that side out. But you’re saying that it’s okay. It’s safe. It’s worked for you. Hannah: Yeah! And for a while there I think I was a bit self-conscious about it, especially because these guys were pretty cool. [Everyone laughs] Hannah: So I think you just have to embrace that. Embrace your…your… Liz: Your inner nerd. Hannah: Yeah. And also…that is all. [Everyone laughs] Hannah: I had something else to say but I lost it! Annie: I think also just don’t, like, be afraid to take things slowly and just put in the hard yards, work really hard. But like, we had a lot of opportunities pop up in the last couple years that we’ve said no to and turned away because we didn’t want to rush into things, and I think that’s proven to be so important to the way things turned out for us because we could’ve… yeah, we could’ve just done a lot of things that we might have ended up regretting. Just like it’s taken us so long to release the EP. At first I remember being really impatient and I was like, “Let’s just get it out there,” but if we had done that we would’ve ended up releasing a few songs that we’ve definitely— Liz: That we’ve swept under the rug— Annie: That we’ve definitely swept under a very big rug [laugher]. I think you just have to be strategic and careful about things but don’t be afraid to just let things happen naturally and slowly— Hannah: And be gracious. What do you love the most about music? Why does it mean so much to you? Annie: I don’t know. It’s a very…it’s a really VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 121
indescribable thing, where for some reason you can just be listening to a song and it can bring up so many emotions and memories, or take you right back to a time and place or just make you feel something that just means so much more than you can really describe. Hannah: I think music’s just a natural healer. And no matter if it’s a song that pulls pure joy out of you or it’s gut-wrenching…it helps you overcome pain, I guess…it’s been just a natural antidepressant in my life, that’s for sure. Liz: Music for me, like, growing up, it was such a huge part of my life and it was an obsession, and I didn’t know that I could ever share that with anybody. And I think it was really nice to be able to find two people who are my friends and then kind of play music with them. I think that’s one of the coolest things ever. To be able to share it with the world now, even just a handful of people, I don’t think there’s anything better than that. I think we got an email from someone yesterday saying how much our music means to them, and I think it’s just moments like that are really powerful. I think that’s what I love about music, is being able to share it and feel it and play with my friends. Anything else you guys would add? Annie: We should mention our full band that we play with. Our bass and keys player is Mark Harding and our drummer is Cat Hunter. They’re awesome. Just a shout out because we couldn’t do this without them, so, “We love you!” Artist: Little May Website: littlemaymusic.com FREDRO ÖDESJÖ (Continued from page 118) in the world right now can’t make a living writing songs. So, you have to come up with your own solution to it. You can’t just sign a publishing deal anymore and think that will solve everything. Doing it yourself - what do you do? Find an alternative way - find your own artists; do your own songs; get the right people to work with you for promotion; and get private investors, or something like that. Do you think the definition of success needs to change? Like, success used to be Puff Daddy, but maybe success now is making a good living and 122 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
living in the suburbs, you know? That’s really true. I agree. I mean, myself, I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing as a whatever kind of job, or whatever you would call this. And I’m happy that people actually, you know, buy my music. And I think that’s where you got to strive for. You can’t be another Puff Daddy or Jay-Z. You know, that’s not even one-in-a-million, it’s onein-a-billion to reach that. I think success is if you can make a living and you enjoy your life doing it. Ultimately, do you think the changes that the music industry is going through, do you think it’s all going to be good, or do you think it’s not looking good down the road? I don’t think it’s ever going to be as good as it used to be. I think it might go back to the Motown days, where each record label, if they still exist, they have their own signed producers and songwriters and that’s more like a normal job. You get a monthly salary instead of getting royalties. Because, I can’t see how people, all of a sudden, are going to start paying for music again. Especially the other generation that have never ever paid for music. Is there anything else you want to say about the topic? Well, I always have to bring up Pandora because they are the scum of the earth when it comes to the music industry. It will be interesting—there’s a lawsuit now—because they don’t pay royalties for songs written before 1972, but there’s all these lawsuits happening now that probably, even if they win or not, are going to shut them down. So, that’s what I’m hoping for. Because it’s painful to see, like, Pandora and Spotify going millions and millions minus every year, but still, you know, they pay themselves millions and millions in salary every year [from] income from us, you know, musicians income. That’s it. Is there anything your currently working on or coming out soon that you’re excited about? Moxiie, obviously, my own first artist, I guess you can call it. I’m very excited about the new songs, and the new videos, and new online presence that we’re working on at the moment. In a couple weeks, maybe a month, it should be ready to launch. I’m working with a new signed Def Jam artist and a new Motown artist that I think is true artists. So, that should be interesting. Website: fredromusic.com Facebook: facebook.com/fredrik.odesjo
BECOMING... (Continued from page 97) places, and music was the only thing that took me out of that—whether or not it was pop or punk music or, you know, just oldies music that I would hear randomly on the radio. So that’s a motivational thing, to not just lay down and die, you know? Because you feel that way when you’re a teenager and you’re heartbroken, but it’s obviously not the case. But that becomes like an illness that adults can get into, you know, if, like, things aren’t going their way or they feel like they have bad luck or something like that. This music is about there is no such thing as luck. It’s stating things very bluntly and enjoyably and I think that will—and does—motivate people to really say, like, “Hey, you know what? I am making an excuse for myself; let’s just hammer down and do this.” And you need a soundtrack to do that. I think we might have created a little piece of that to hopefully make people really strive for achieving something that they truly want to do, whatever that is. One of the things that I like so much about the music is the idea that we do need a lot of inspiration, often to just show up to life. So in what ways is that most personal to you in your own life? Jake: It’s always personal. If you just don’t think that you have enough strength or time left in your days to do what you want to do. It’s personal even when it involves someone else, you know? That’s why people like motivational speakers and self-help books and all that stuff. And this is about getting way beyond on that, and getting internal and getting into the pulse of your body, you know? That’s music; that’s why music is the most powerful thing in the world, because it connects on a bunch of different internal levels, and I think we hit a couple of those with this. Charley: If you choose a path that isn’t the standard expected path—the 9-to-5 path—there aren’t a lot of the people around you that have chosen that path, and who are dedicated to that path and don’t give up. So you see a lot of other people quit, you hear from people around you that maybe this isn’t what you should be doing, and you really have to be pretty self-motivated to get through a lot of that stuff and actually, years down the road, get some evidence to show people who said you shouldn’t of done that, you know, it’s okay, it worked out for me. So for me, it’s personal in that way. And, you know, helping people bridge that gap between deciding to start to do something and getting to the success. Letting
them know that you not only can bridge that gap that you should bridge that gap. It’s a better life on the other side. But you have your own doubts and fears as well sometimes? Charley: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. If I didn’t think people had doubts I wouldn’t be trying to motivate them. So, Charley, you’re very famous for being very structured and disciplined. Everybody that works with you comments on that. So tell me a little bit about your structure and your process. Charley: I print out a calendar on just a regular piece of printer paper and I write in the days. And in pencil I write out [everyone laughs]— well it’s not in pen—it’s not in stone! In pencil, I forecast the next two weeks and I look at what I need to get done to sort of be on target. And after a week of going through the days— and hopefully doing everything on there—I’ll forecast another week; and I try to keep it so that I’m ahead and know what’s coming up and, you know, know how and when I want to get things done. And I try to be realistic about it. Once I have that calendar, at the end of every day, hopefully, I sit down and look at it and I make my schedule for the next day. And when I wake up the next day I’ll get my schedule, I’ll have my coffee, and I’ll look at it and I start my day. Was that something that came naturally to you, or is that something that developed over time? Charley: It wasn’t always easy, no, and for many different reasons. Some of the reasons were I didn’t think I needed to do it, so I just went for it and whatever I got accomplished in the day I got accomplished. And I’d work sixteen hours in a day and hope that I got a lot of things done. And then once I started really scheduling things I noticed that I got more done in less time, and then I had time to like sit down with my wife and enjoy dinner, or grocery shop, or do laundry or, you know, the other parts of life that help you feel like you’re actually living a little bit, instead of just killing yourself over one thing. So, is it easy? No. It’s not always easy. You almost have to condition people that this is the way you’re going to live and this is the way you’re going to do things and, you know…just stick to your thing. Stick to it. What about you Jake? Jake: I’m a little more loose in my approach VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 123
[everyone laughs]. But my approach is still ultimately focused because…I just committed my life to writing songs in whichever…you know, the best, most productive way. You know I have my calendars and stuff; I play a lot of gigs and stuff so I have to plan around that; but writing and recording is first and foremost in my life. So whenever that comes up I get a lot more serious about what I’m doing with preparation and getting my head in the right space to create. .
I think that is what can motivate people, the roar of some other creature. You know? And I’m that other creature, and I’ve become more comfortable with that and it’s so fun. Especially recording in the studio and stuff. With serious recording gear you can push it further. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s the animal in me.
Where do you continue to find inspiration to write and create? What’s the well you always come back to?
Jake: When Charley told me that—it’s perfect; because in my own thinking of life, you know, the life cycle and about what it is to be a human versus being a wolf—or to be anything, you know, it’s like a very small chromosomal difference and, you know, in some instances none, just little DNA differences. And like, when you learn to become animal or notice that you are becoming animal you are focused on surviving and being apex and being the best you can possibly be…and like, that’s a simpler way to look at life other than “Oh my God, I’m not gonna make my credit card bill payment,” and all these things that are made up by man. It’s like, “It doesn’t matter!” You’re just here for a little bit of time. And you know, I’m very obsessed with death and the whole cycle of life and man and animal, and I think if you look at it on a shorter scale, on an animal scale, you need to accomplish everything. And if you can think like an animal you can accomplish more. And it’s huge—it’s a huge statement! It’s so open ended and people will take what they want, but that’s sort of what I initially got from it: to do a simpler thing to survive and to live life.
Jake: The well is just whatever is around you, whatever you’re experiencing, whatever you’re reading, whatever you’re watching, you know— cartoons on Netflix or, you know—I don’t know, life is just the well. The day-to-day, the every day people Yeah but there are things or themes that people are drawn to more than others. Jake: Yeah. I am always trying to get away from the well, I guess, but usually never do, because folk music and singer/songwriter music, so many of the themes are so similar that I get kind of annoyed by it sometimes and I want to like, find a whole different language. You know there are so many words; it seems like only a few of them are used because they’re pretty and they’re sing-song and they work well with different songs. Not that that’s an answer to your question— Well you do you have a background in literature, so you’re drawn to that anyway— Jake: Yeah, it’s just expression. Human expression is very interesting to me and I think there’s so much…there’s an infinite amount of possibilities with the words that you put together to make some sort of story that comforts them or motivates them or— whatever. The well is a deep dark place. So your voice—and I’m sure a lot of people tell you this—is rad. How do you feel when you sing? Jake: I really only sing really hard like this when I’m doing stuff with Charley. I sing hard in other ways, but this, it’s just a connection…it’s the only way that I can think to sing to it, you know? It’s something that I’ve really had to develop over the years, like, really how to push [my] voice really hard without hurting it. And who knows if I’m doing that but it doesn’t seem like I am, so…and I don’t do it every day. And 124 | ISSUE 6 | VNDL
Jake, what did you think of the album title, Becoming Animal, when Charley first suggested it?
Charley: To me, this music I’m making is all about your basic instincts. It’s about listening to yourself and listening to your own wants and needs and not listening to all the other stuff around you, getting back to your animal instincts. So yeah. Jake pretty much said it. I think he said it really well. And for us I think it’s actually appropriate for us because our last… it’s a transition for us, sonically and topic-wise… we are getting more animalistic, we are getting more visceral, more to the point. We’re not beating around the bush. You both come from totally different worlds, musically. Jake you’re very much playing the live circuit, your a singer/songwriter and play with a lot of different musicians. And Charley you’re more of a one-man-band. You run your own show, you lock yourself in a room and create. I wanted to talk a little bit about success in both worlds and what your advice might be to other musicians who are
trying to make their way? People who are trying to make a living doing it. Jake: Yeah, I’m a part of like five different groups, and I’m writing, recording and performing. You know I’m a folksinger—that’s what I consider myself—and folk music, singing with other people, you know, it’s that simple, it’s back porch; it’s the power of harmony, the power of voices together. That is something that is uniquely human and something that can’t ever be changed, it’s just a wonderful thing. By chance I got to hang out and talk and eventually work with Charley a long time ago, and it’s been, what, five or six years now? And it’s just great. It’s all about connecting with the other person, and the advice is just to do as much as you can; because there is no answer to “What is success?” And I hope that I never really achieve success because I don’t want to stop writing. But will be liking driving around in a Lamborghini. [Everyone laughs]. So I’ll be all right. Charley: Don’t want to loose the Lambo, man— [Everyone laughs] Charley: My advice for trying to have success as a producer and or engineer is to work with as many people as you can. In the beginning do as much free stuff as you can and don’t worry about money, because even if you’re getting paid in the beginning it’s still not gonna be that much, so just do it because you love it and put love into everything you do. Do everything as well as you can. With engineering, learn all the technical stuff—you gotta know how to use all the tools—and work with a lot of people. As a producer, work with a lot of people and grab on to people you think are going to be successful; and I don’t mean that in a gold-digger sort of way—you’re not trying to get anything from anyone. But as a producer I feel like you’re only as good as the artists you work with; and if you want to make amazing music work with people who make amazing music; if you want to make successful music work with people who make successful music. I tried and it’s really hard to create a successful artist. It’s really hard to create a good artist. So find a good artist and work with them. That’s my advice. In all your years working with musicians and in studios, what musician really impressed you the most? Charley: I’m going to say two people. I worked a lot as an engineer for a songwriter named Andrea Martin. She works like no one else I’ve
ever seen. She’d come into the studio at ten, eleven, twelve o’clock at night, and she’d walk in the door, give me a bunch of tracks to load up into ProTools, and before she even listened to them she would go into the booth, I’d play them back, and she would sing a song off the top of her head over the tracks. She might not have every lyric but she’d probably get a chorus and she’d get some mumbled melodies in there and, pretty much, if she laid down scratch tracks on five songs she’d have one really good song in there. She’d work on it for another two or three hours and then be done. And she’d have a hit. That was something I’d never seen before and something I try to emulate, but with 10% of success! And the other person I was really drawn to in the studio was another producer/songwriter named Lucas Secon. He’s from England. And he was one of the first people I saw in the studio who I felt like was the way I wanted to be in the studio. He was energetic and he would jump around and cheer for the artist when they would do what he liked, and he was just optimistic and had so much energy [while] everyone else just sat there and wrote in their notebook. But he was like running back to the booth and back to the live room, and there was a youthful energy to him that you were really drawn to. So that’s two people that I really loved working with. What about Jake? Right now,? I like Pusha T. He’s pretty cool. He’s a rapper, and I just watch his videos a lot. And I’ve been doing it for months now, and I don’t know what it is about it. I kind of fell out of love with the hip-hop for a little while but now I’m back in. What do you like about hip-hop? That’s surprising because of the kind of music that you create—not that they’re that different— Jake: They’re really not. It’s just a way to spin words, you know? We’re all using the same words. The words that we know that we’ve learned, that our parents taught us, and that our teachers taught us— Charley: That the street taught us— [Everyone laughs] Jake: And the street, and the words we picked up along the way. And it’s just being creative and it’s being reckless and it’s being slick about how to say things. That’s how you get your point across, and being clever, it’s… and right now I like Pusha T. It’s pretty awesome. VNDL | ISSUE 6 | 125
So what’s next with the album? You’re going to be done this weekend!
GAZELLE TWIN (Continued from page 79)
Jake: Volume four! Volume four happens!
It would be hard to say specifically, but sharing ideas with people who share lots of similar aesthetics, from art to music… It’s great to share these ideas and get feedback on our individual projects at an early stage. We all enjoy listening to each other’s work and giving a sort of appraisal. This is so helpful to all of us, I think. It’s not often you get to do that with your friends, either.
[Everyone laughs] Do you have anything you want to add? Jake: I got a bald spot. [Everyone laughs]. Have you ever had sex to your own music? Jake: Ahhhh man! Yeah. Definitely. [Laughter] Charley: Multiple times?! It’s that definite? Jake: I don’t know, I’ve been doing music a long time. [Laughter] Charley: I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I haven’t had sex to my own music. Last question: if you had any advice for Bono what would it be? Jake: Get some cooler sunglasses. Like a nice pair of Purcells. But you know he’s made himself famous off those stupid things. Maybe I should get a pair…I’m obviously not in the same boat as him. Charley: My advice for Bono would be that he should do more work around the world and stop being such a selfish asshole. Artist: Jay Kill & The Hustle Standard Website: www.hustlestandard.com
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Why do you keep your personal identity separate from your work as Gazelle Twin? It was a very deliberate choice, made up of many different reasons. It is usually the first thing I am asked by people new to my music, or who have seen me perform live for the first time. It gives me a very wide freedom to express concepts in a way that hopefully enhances the themes behind the music. It is all part of the project as a whole, exploring the uncanny in life, and even in the music business – I am always making a statement with what I put out, but I tend to prefer to leave it up to others to decide what these statements are. What’s the origin of the blue hoodie? It’s a version of the PE kit I used to wear at school. It became a really strong image for me as I developed the LP, and emerged about ¾ of the way through writing the album. The songs were all taking me back to my teenage years or moments of bodily experiences, and this is what I ended up with. The blue colour has run through the project since the early days though. It’s a wonderful colour to get lost in.
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