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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 CONTRIBUTORS Art: Alain Marciano, Danielle Otrakji, Claudio Parentela, Gavin Thomas Models: Marija Jankovic, Bella Marie Photographers: Sanja Bistricic, Trevor Gilley, Gorsad, Chris McClelland, George Nebieridze, Andrea Pek, Peter Roessler, Sharon Radisch, Cody Rasmussen, Andrea Savall, Gavin Thomas, Spencer Wells Writers: Ashley Canino, Kerry Hassler, Patrick Leone, Lyz Mancini, Kurt McVey, Faye Postma, Eve Reinhardt, Erin Shea, Jasmine Stein, Joshua R. Weaver, Ashley Wiscovitch, Eric Witmer Wardrobe Stylists: Sasha Hodges, Marko Plukavec
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ÂŠ2013 VNDL Magazine All rights of this publication are reserved by VNDL Magazine. All artwork is copyright of the contributing artists and may not be reproduced without their explicit permission. This publication cannot be reproduced electronically, digitally, in printed or any other form, format or media without explicit written permission and approval. GET CONNECTED Twitter: @vndlmag website: vndlmag.com email: email@example.com ADVERTISING firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cover Credits Charli XCX; Shot in New York, NY
CONTRIBUTORS Danielle Otrakji
Joshua R. Weaver
Danielle Otrakji was raised in Miami, Florida and is currently studying at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. She is majoring in illustration and also working as a freelance illustrator.
Joshua R. Weaver is a Brooklynbased writer, editor and music fiend, whose Houston upbringing gives him a warm heart for UGK and the Geto Boys. Equal parts polish and grit, Josh examines the intermix of culture, art, academia and the social world. You can catch Josh at joshuarweaver.com.
Cody Rasmussen is an editorial and advertisement photographer based in New York City. His career began after studying at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has since photographed assignments around the world including Italy, Russia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.
George Nebieridze is 1990 born documentary/party photographer. Originally from the post soviet Georgia and now based in Berlin. Worked as an advertising photographer for various agencies, but never gave up making fine artinspired documentary photographs. He occasionally contributes to Vice Magazine. In 2010 Nebieridze founded his own online photography publication “CZE” that includes photographic works from all over the world.
Photographer, Motorcycle Rider, Bone Collector, True Trill Beast down for the downest shit. She has a wide range of commercial and editorial clients from Nike to Nylon. Based in Chicago but deeply rooted in all things everywhere, her photography and luminous spirit can be experienced around the globe.
Peter Roessler was raised in Los Angeles, CA and worked his way up through the music industry touring with bands across the U.S. He picked up a keen eye for photography and ran with it. His work captures the energy and excitement of live performance. Peter’s work has appeared in numerous magazines and websites. He currently resides in New York City.
Photo: Magda Dzanashvili
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COURTNEY BARNETT Words: Erin Shea Photos: Gavin Thomas
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A PANIC ATTACK ISN’T NECESSARILY A BAD THING. FOR COURTNEY BARNETT, A MELBOURNE-BASED SINGER-SONGWRITER, A PANIC ATTACK WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND A SONG THAT GOT HER MUCH PRAISE AND RECOGNITION. THE 25-YEAR-OLD STRIVES FOR AUTHENTIC STORYTELLING IN HER MUSIC AND HAS OFTEN BEEN DESCRIBED AS HAVING A ‘60S STYLE.
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Between writing her own music, recording, and touring, she started her own record label last year. How did you first get started with music? I have an older brother who I looked up to when I was young. He played guitar and I copied everything he did. I always listened to his cassettes, too. You have your own label Milk! Records. Why did you decide to launch your own label? I just did it because I made my first CD and I didn’t really think that I needed a label. Then, I just wanted to put a little logo on there, so I made up a record label. I kind of though no one would be interested, and I would just take my record to someone and they would say, “Yeah, here’s some money.” So I just thought “Well, I’ll do it myself.” It launched last April with my first EP. It’s really tiny, but it’s more about building a little community of musicians, they’re all my friends, so it’s all about building that little thing. Was it difficult to get in launched or was this just something you did in your spare time? Yeah, in my spare time. And it takes a lot of time. What are you working on now? Just writing to make this next album. Writing a lot, playing a lot. And then actually recording, I’m not sure when; but sometime next year. What’s your songwriting process? It’s pretty varied. Normally I don’t sit down with my guitar and a book and try to come up with a song. But I record everything, so if I sit down at home and play around, and I’ll see if something comes -- usually it doesn’t. So I just keep a notebook and I write down all my boring little observations and after a couple of pages of them are compiled they turn into a song somehow.
because it was so dramatic. I kind of thought I was dying. I went to the hospital and it was totally terrifying. Then, the next day, you’re home and everyone was like, “What happened?” And then it’s a joke. So it became really funny because you have to look at life with some humor, I guess. I just made light of the situation. It was a really serious and scary situation, but I try to look at things positively in some way. I’ve read reviews of your music and people seem to equate your music to ‘60s era music. How do you feel about this? Is it an accurate label? Yeah, I guess so. Basically I’ve listened to a lot of music and I guess my guitar playing and songwriting stems from the things I listen to, but I listen to a pretty varied bunch of stuff. I wouldn’t say that I have a ‘60s sound, but I would definitely agree that there are some aspects of that because I listen to groups with that kind of stuff. Who are some of your favorite artists then? I love The Beatles and The Velvet Underground. I grew up listening to Nirvana, so that’s kind of different. And Australian songwriters, Darren Hanlon and One Lovers. They are all totally different, but if you listen to that, you’re going to end up writing some sort of mash-up of that because that’s what’s in your head. So I think that’s what my sound is. What do you see in the future for your own career and your label as well? I just want to keep making music, keep making records, and keep touring. Make it a sustainable thing so I can live off of it and not stress out about money. I don’t want to be a popstar. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing without all of the stressors.
So your song “Avant Gardner” was inspired by an actual panic attack that you had. How did that event become a song? Yes, it is a true story. But I can’t remember at what point it became a song. I remember it
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BANKSY Words: Ashley Wiscovitch Illustration: Danielle Otrakji In major cities around the world, people scurry around, in a rush to get wherever they need to be, and with this, they fail to notice their surroundings. It is hard to gain the attention of busy city-folk. With graffiti being such an everyday art, most people just pass it by without notice. However, some of it cannot be ignored. Some of it strikes powerful meaning, monumental even, addressing such causes as war, capitalism, and establishment. London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris: in every corner of these cities rats, apes, soldiers, children, policemen, and the elderly can be seen scrawled upon dirty walls, leading the scurrying people to question the values these cities were built on, causing the people to question, “Who is the gorilla behind the pink mask?” Banksy has made a pretty conscious effort to keep his true identity a mystery, perhaps not only to escape incarceration, but also because his messages are stronger without a face behind them. His work is not done by some famous artist, it is by someone with an opinion, someone who beseeches the public to question authority, to question the conventions they had so readily accepted before. He does not sell his work and credits auction houses that try to sell his work as being “unauthorized.” His stance on his art’s worth solidifies the idea that Banksy simply stencils for the sake of his petitions being heard and maintaining his illusiveness. So what do we know about the gorilla behind the pink mask? We know he was born in Bristol, England in 1974 to ordinary parents, where he was going into the ordinary vocation of being a butcher, where he played soccer and where his artistic revolution began. But, seriously, who cares? We accept Banksy as a mystery man because we all agree that what happened before his first scrawling is insignificant. The focus is on the art, not on the artist. Banksy’s art first started appearing in Bristol, London in the early 1990’s, experimenting with freehand graffiti with the DryBreadZ Crew. By 2000, Bansky had moved towards his more-well known method of stenciling.
Banksy expanded his range by including in his works 3-D installations, such as his murdered red phone box in London, and by inserting his small painting in major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art. Some of his most controversial works appeared in 2005 on the Israeli West Bank Barrier, with images of children breaking the wall or being lifted up over the wall with their balloons. This was the stunt that truly made Banksy a household name, making the questioning whispers louder. It would be hard to sit here and regurgitate all of the works Banksy has spread around the world. It is better to discuss the singular meaning behind each of his stencils, paintings, prints, and installations: change. His art consists of crude yet elaborate stencils and paint oozing creativity mixed with a message. Countless examples can be noted. Like when he set up his first exhibition and brought in a fully painted elephant which blended in with the walls of the exhibition, conveying the message that we sometimes are too blind to see the things that are right in front of us. This seems to be the main focus of his work, poking fun and revealing the things that go unsaid, unnoticed, unknown. Another example of this can be seen in his recent stunts in New York City, Better Out Than In. As he revealed one piece every day, one of his more notable stunts included having a random man sell his work for an absurdly low price, $60, in Central Park. He played on the fact that his art being sold was going unnoticed, no one actually knowing these were original Bansky pieces, but I am sure it was a pleasant surprise. Banksy prides himself in the unknown, in the versatility of his work and their messages; the fact that his work is so open to interpretation is what his art is built upon, just as his identity is unknown. However, recently, someone has allegedly snapped a photo of Banksy, tearing away the pink mask and revealing the gorilla underneath. After twenty years of graffiti terrorism, hundred of pieces of art, multiple exhibitions, coffee table books, and even a film, Banksy still remains the poster-boy of the street art movement, with or without a face. VNDL | ISSUE 3 | 29
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WOODKID Words: Kurt McVey Photos: Gavin Thomas
Woodkid, the musical moniker of French singer-songwriter, director and composer Yoann Lemoine, had a monumental 2013. His debut studio album, The Golden Age is a cinematic tour de force, unfolding as if it were a time capsule bound cryptic lesson for an unborn Grandson that was simply too urgent to lock away. It plays like a poetic lament for the loss of youth and innocence, both within our human souls, as well as in the larger constructs of our faltering Western civilization. In previous interviews, Lemoine has stated that The Golden Age, for him at least, refers to childhood ([his presumably] NBHAP). If his music videos are any indication however, one can only infer that an inevitable return to a more primal way of living, most likely due to a creeping moral, religious, and economic decay, as opposed to an overnight global calamity, is very much on the young auteur’s mind. This is nothing new of course. Since Y2K, the end of days has been at the center of many a rock album or video, and in the last few years especially, it has been the focal point of way too many films. Since the dawn of man, human kind (especially its collective consciousness) has been living in the shadow of the apocalypse. That being said, in a recent and extremely gloomy essay and also in a compelling TED talk, Bob Gordon argues (rather convincingly) that the golden age of economic growth is officially behind us, claiming that we are currently running on the memory of fumes from our one and only Industrial Revolution, which began
with the railroads sometime in the late 1800’s, moved onto electricity, the internal combustion engine, and other explosions in modern living in the 1900’s, and finally, culminating with our love affair with computers, the internet, and mobile devices. Modern thinkers like Paul Krugman and futurists such as Ray Kurzweil argue against this of course, believing that we are simply on the brink of a new frontier of biotechnology, robotics, energy independence and global singularity. Until these things becomes a reality, i.e. are introduced to a consumer market, we must rely on artists, musicians, designers, and filmmakers to be the architects of our fears, desires, imaginations and ultimately, our reservations in moving forward. Woodkid seems to possess, not only a firm grasp on this subject matter, but also, a confidence within the mediums in which he chooses to express them. Three singles from the album, which were translated into compelling high contrast black and white music videos, “Iron”, “Run Boy Run”, and “I Love You,” form a narrative that seems to follow our larger experience as a species. Lemoine would perhaps contest this, claiming that The Golden Age is in many ways autobiographical, but of course, the greatest artists among us mesh what is wholly personal with that which is universal, firmly establishing Woodkid as one of the most appreciated, promising, and multi-talented artists of 2013. Despite a creeping fatalism, it seems like he’s just getting started.
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SYLVAN ESSO Words: Jasmine Stein Photos: Gavin Thomas
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“JUST WAIT UNTIL THE BEAT DROPS,” IS WHAT I HAVE TOLD EVERY PERSON THAT I HAVE MADE LISTEN TO SYLVAN ESSO IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS. THINK 1/3 PART SOUL, 1/3 PART FOLK, 1/3 ELECTRONIC LOOPS AND PURE BLISS WHEN THE BEAT DROPS. The North Carolina duo combines the folksy vocal talents of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath with the producer extraordinaire & veteran sideman Nick Sanborn (Megafaun, Decibully & Headlights, Collections of Colonies of the Bees) to create the incredibly infectious sound that is Sylvan Esso. The duo released the excellent double sided single “Hey Mami”/”Play it Right” earlier this year and their first full length record is set for release in the spring of 2014. How did Sylvan Esso Come to be? Have you guys known each other for a long time? Nick: We have been doing this band now for a little over a year. But we met almost four years ago now. Amelia’s band at the time, Mountain Man was on tour and they were coming to Milwaukee where I lived. And i was for some
reason chosen to open for them. When i play solo, its mostly like loud sets and instrumental hip hop. Amelia: We are a three part harmony vocal trio. So the bill didn’t make very much sense. But there we were in the beautiful Cactus Club playing together and the friendship was born. Nick: She contacted me about doing a remix for them a year or two later. And that went really well. We started thinking about doing more together and it just kind of blossomed. How do you two make music together for Sylvan Esso? Can you tell me about the process? Amelia: Sometimes we start with lyrics and a melody, and sometimes we start with a beat and we hang out in each other’s rooms.
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Nick: There’s no real formula to it. We’ve done it every way that we can think of. There’s no way like ooooh and then we put on the special… I think we are both really attracted to the idea of songs. We are really sensitive to what each song needs, or when we feel like its done. That’s more what drives it, than a formula or anything like that.
You just ended your tour with Minor Alps this month. Do you have any future dates planned?
I read somewhere that you both really want to make “good” pop music. Do you think in general pop music kind of sucks right now?
Amelia: We are playing two shows this weekend at Kings Barcade in Raleigh. We’re opening for the Love Language, and it’s the winter formal so we’re going to get dressed up.
Its not that it sucks, it’s more that the basic trend of a lot of radio pop right now is either like “I left you and I am so happy, cuz you’re a dick after all” or the hook of a recent hit song was just “shop” said over and over again. Quickly followed by another hit which was just the word “cake” said over and over again. Quickly followed by another song that was just the word “ass” sung over and over again. What we were really excited about was writing songs that had a plot and movement in them. But were also very palatable, where people are excited to listen to it. Nick: Don’t get us wrong, we love songs with a chorus that is just “ass” over and over again. I don’t want to limit us in the future from writing an “ass” centric song. But we like the idea of not assuming that the person listening to it is an idiot. Amelia: Or assuming that they have a longer attention span. Nick: I think the more people write music that isn’t just where you listen to the first five seconds of it, and you’re like oh i get it and move on. I think the more that starts happening, I think the more that people’s attention spans will grow. We just want to try to help that as much as we can. We just love songs instead of tracks. Amelia: And records instead of singles.
to lead up to it. Look, we want it to come out more than anyone else. We are really excited about getting it out because we literally just finished it like two weeks ago.
Nick: They are another band that’s from here, that’s on Merge. I actually played bass for them for a long time. But we are going to be out a lot this spring. Ideally all of 2014, we will be on tour. Hopefully, we will be back to New York several times in the spring. If you could use three words to describe the sound of Sylvan Esso what would they be? Amelia: How many people say Crazy, Sexy, Cool? Nick: Umm..i don’t know man. I’m just going to start shouting words of things i’m looking at.. lamp, computer! Well, is there anything that you guys want people to take away from your music? Amelia: We want people to engage their spine! Nick: We want people to dance and have fun. We want our songs to be something that people can pay attention to on a number of levels. You can listen to it and dance to the beat and have a good time or you can keep going and... Amelia: think about your feelings! You both are based in Durham N.C. What do you think is productive about living in Durham as opposed to NY or LA?
Amelia: It’s done!! We think Spring or Summer.
Amelia: Being here makes it much easier to concentrate on the work that I want to do. Also, the community is incredibly supportive and excited about what everyone else is doing.
Nick: We are working on figuring out who is going to put it out. Ideally May. We are going to put out a 12” before that with two more just
Nick: It kind of feels like you can do anything you want here, and it could work out if you do it well. Also, as two people who aren’t rich, so
Are you working on a full-length record and when is it coming out?
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being in a place where the cost of living is a lot lower and you can have multiple days to yourself and still be able to pay your rent is invaluable. How long did it take you to finish the record? Nick: About a year. I moved here last September, and that is when we started working on it seriously and so it was a long process of working on the band more and more. Really in October is when we just sat in my house for 10 hours, everyday finishing up the mixes and all the vocal takes. What are some of your favorite records of 2013? What have you guys been listening to? Amelia: Porches, Slowdance in the Cosmo’s. Holy Crap! It’s ruling my world right now. Nick: The Rawhide Mixtapes by Jeremiah Jae. The new Jon Hopkins, Immunity is a very recent one. That “Open Eye Signal” is just one of the best singles, and a great video too. Oh my God. Any other bands that you draw influence from in general? Nick: We have been really into this record, The Legendary Marvin Pontiac: Greatest Hits. Which is a record that was made in 1999 by John Lurie. He is a New Yorker and he was in a bunch of Jim Jarmusch movies “Strangers in Paradise”, “Down By Law”. He was in a band called The Lounge Lizards and he made this record under the name Marvin Pontiac, which was a character he had invented and its just this amazingly beautiful record. Its so cool, weird and silly and fun and sad. There’s so many cool layers to it. It’s right before John Lurie was diagnosed with Lyme disease and so a lot of the songs allude to something being wrong with him, but not knowing what it is. So its just a really sad and beautiful story. Can we expect new music coming up with Mountain Man and Megafaun? Or any other collaborations that you guys are working on? Nick: I play in a band called Collections of Colonies of Bees. We have a new record coming out in the Spring. Amelia: Mountain Man is taking a big old break at the moment, but there will definitely be
another record. It might in the next few years or it might be in 25. Nick: It won’t be in 25. There is a bunch of stuff that is done that we are looking for homes for right now. I have a solo EP, Amelia and Alexandra from Mountain Man are doing duet sets. Tons of that kind of stuff. Are there any bands that Sylvan Esso would like to collaborate with? Nick: We just did this project that was kind of all about collaboration. That was really fun. Amelia: I would love to collaborate with Four Tet. I don’t know what that would look like but.. Nick: We both have uncomfortably diverse tastes. There are all sorts of kinds of people that we think it would be really fun to make a one-off record with. Amelia sings with so many different bands and is so flexible in that way, and I’ve been a sideman for a really long time and I’ve played with a lot of different people so it’s really genre free at this point. Amelia: We would love to do music for a video game. There is an awesome group of programmers called Super Bros. They made a game called Sword and Sorcery that we eally love. Nick: The gaming thing is so wide open right now. The whole xbox marketplace is such a weird hotbed of like dudes making games in their bedrooms. There is so much room right now, and games are getting so weird and magical. I think it would be a really fun challenge to have to compose in that set of rules and regulations. Amelia: I’m so excited about games right now, particularly for the iphone format. For the new set of controls that you’re interacting with. And how people are creating these worlds, so that the new artistic expression is for someone to create a world for someone to inhabit which is so exciting. It’s like taking installation art and taking it to this whole, incredibly dope level. I would like to be involved in that. http://blog.sylvanesso.com/ http://sylvanesso.bandcamp.com/ @SylvanEsso
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COLLEEN DURKIN Stylist: Sasha Hodges Makeup: Jenna Baltes Model: Bella Marie (agency galate A)
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Skirt, bodysuit: Vintage, Kokorokoko; Earrings:Â Save-the-manimals.com; Rings: Vintage; Glasses: Vintage Gargoyles, LabRabbit Optics
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Dress, necklace, bracelet: Vintage, Kokorokoko; Watch: Alessi; Shoes: Topshop
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ECHOSMITH Words: Erin Shea Photos: Peter Roessler
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A IMAGINE BEING AN UP-AND-COMING BAND THAT IS SIGNED TO A LARGE RECORD LABEL. IMAGINE PLAYING WARPED TOUR FOR THE FIRST TIME. IMAGINE HAVING ONE OF OUR SONGS BE PICKED UP AND USED FOR AN OLYMPICS PROMOTION. Think about doing this all before you’re 18 years old. Well, that’s the life for three members of Echosmith, a band made up of four siblings: Sydney Sierota, 16; Graham Sierota, 14; Noah, Sierota, 17; and Jamie Sierota, 20. You all just had an album, Talking Dreams, released October 8, what inspired that? Making Talking Dreams was a really new and exciting experience as it was our debut album. I had to write song for an album, which I’ve never done before. We’ve grown up writing our whole life, but putting it together in an album was different, but it was a fun chance to do this. The whole album represents what we’ve been going through in the last couple of years and our outlook on life and things that we’re exciting about. “Talking Dreams,” the title track, kind of sums up where we are and the overall feel of the album. We have these dreams and these things ahead of us that we’re so excited about and we have the opportunity to take advantage of them. That’s what “Talking Dreams” is all about. Can you describe the songwriting process? We’re all in the same house, so it’s naturally a very collaborative way that we write. We usually start with someone’s random idea, whether its a guitar riff or whatever it is, and it’ll be like, “Hey come check out this cool bass line that Noah wrote.” And then, we’ll start putting beats together and jamming out. For us, it’s really easy to just ask each other about ideas that we have. Since we all live together it’s easy to show an idea, then go work on some issues, and then come back to it all together. It’s not a very formal process, like a lot of other people have, but I think that shapes how our songs turn out in the end too.
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Why did you decide to cover “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”? We thought it would be fun to do a holiday or Christmas song. We were going through stuff and we didn’t want to do a typical Christmas song, so we just did some digging to look for older songs and hymns that haven’t been done as much. We came across “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and none of us had heard it before. We found the lyrics and we liked how it told a very powerful story, which really spoke true to us. So lyrically it captured us. We checked it out and found that Johnny Cash had done a version of it and so had Elvis. So it was a cool blank slate to start a Christmas song with. The lyrics were what really captured us so we wanted to make our own version of it. How has your tour been going so far? How was it being on the road? We just got home to Los Angeles. We’re going to start again in the new year with our college tour. So we’ve been touring this year and right now we’re taking some time off to get ready for our next tour. We always try to explore different cities and figure out what’s there, because you know, the audience isn’t traveling back and forth, they live in these places. Every city has it’s own scene and culture, and we always enjoy checking out whatever each city has to offer. What was it like playing at Warped Tour? Was the hot weather and one-after-another locations difficult? Warped Tour is a really cool, crazy experience for us. It was definitely pretty grueling, especially as an up-and-coming band. At the beginning no one really knew who we were, so we had to work extra hard because we had to get people to come to our shows. But I think
that was good because at Warped Tour we’re all there to meet fans and try to get them to check out our shows and music. It’s a really weird experience, but we met people who liked our authentic way and it was neat to meet the fans. It’s definitely a different environment than any other show and we’ve never done anything like that before. You all have a song, “Tonight We’re Making History,” that was used in NBC’s commercial for the 2012 London Olympics. What was that like? What was funny about that commercial was that is a song that we did years ago. So it was something that we didn’t really expect. I can’t remember how everything happened, It was a super cool experience since knows the Olympics because it is a worldwide event. Initially, it was just supposed to be a part of a volleyball promotion. So we didn’t know that the advertisement had started and when we saw it and we were like, “Oh this isn’t just volleyball, this is the whole commercial.” So it was pretty funny to see it. But it was an honor to be included in an event like this. You guys are all relatively young. Has this been a challenge for you in the industry? How do you get past this? I think being young definitely has its advantages and its disadvantages. There are a lot of challenges in being young and it’s because people expect something else in us. And we’ve always been big believers in that we are who we are and we don’t care how old we are, or about other people’s expectations. It’s not about how old we are, it’s just that we want to the make music that we want to make. Being young has actually come to our advantage because it’s been an excessive challenge, but we’ve accepted it and just gone for it. It’s been fun and we’ve had a lot of positive response. Warped Tour was cool too because there are a lot of other young bands and there are also a lot of other bands, such as Reel Big Fish, that have been around since the beginning, so we got to meet a lot of those guys and see how they do things.
What about Sydney and Graham trying to balance school and touring? Is this difficult? Me and Noah are the only ones finished with high school, so Sydney and Graham homeschool right now. I can’t imagine doing it. It’s a rough balance for them, but they want to be doing this. They would prefer playing shows than being in high school. I mean, I went to high school and I did it, but I would rather being touring and playing shows too. It’s a challenge, but I think they handle it well. You all seem very transparent and open to your fans on your website and social media, why do you do this? Do you think it’s important for bands to be open to their fans? I think the thing is that we’ve come to realize is that we’re not really different than anyone else. We go to shows, we like bands too. So we’ve always kept in mind that if we could have access to a band, what are more things that we would like to hear from a band? And we try to do that with ourselves. It’s awesome to be able to talk to fans all over the world and talk about stupid stuff, such as our favorite foods, and it’s a nice break from playing and creating music to just talk about fun things. It’s a cool experience to do that because it makes us seem like normal people, even though I guess we’re not very normal. We always make our fans a priority because we really appreciate them. What are you all currently listening to and who are your musical role models? Some of the bands that we grew up with were some ‘80s new wave stuff such as The Smiths and Joy Division, and even other brands such as Coldplay, The Killers, The Bravery and Interpol, which helped to shape us and influence us as a band. More recently, some of our favorites are The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, Kings of Leon’s Mechanical Bull and Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. We were actually just talking about this earlier and trying to figure out what is our favorite album of this year, and this year has been a really cool year in music, which we’re happy to be a part of.
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CHARLI XCX Words: Joshua R. Weaver Photos: Gavin Thomas Hair: Lizz Bierman Makeup: Alyne Halvajian
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FOR 21-YEAR-OLD CHARLOTTE AITCHISON, BETTER KNOWN SIMPLY AS CHARLI XCX, MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT THE MOMENT. IT’S ABOUT THE CAREFREE EVENT OF LETTING YOUR BODY TAKE THE WHEEL OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS; TURNING DOWN THE VOLUME OF THE MIND AND GIVING PERCEPTION FREE REIN.
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In a music world so seemingly consumed with meaning and semantics, it can be difficult to relinquish the control of a scrupulous mind; but, Charli XCX is unabashed about it – perfectionism for Charli is getting lost in the music, fucking any need for a process, and letting the creation flow. It may seem like an easy feat for a pop artist to eschew some imperative for meticulous song making, but Charli XCX knows what she’s doing. And, she has ever since she started trekking around the London warehouse scene DJing at the budding age of 14. Charli XCX occupies this small space between club bangers and emotion, between aggression and femininity. In a way, Charli’s success helps prove that top 40 joints and club rotations can, indeed, be powerful and mysterious, and embody complex soundscapes. With an eclectic style that blends together glam, goth, nu-wave, ethereal, among other sounds, Charli XCX adds a certain whimsy to the pop game. She keeps fans and critics alike on their toes as she encapsulates both a postmodern and bygone pop sound. And, while, today, pop seems to be more disparaging than self-affirming in many realms, Charli boldly proclaims herself a part of pop. As Charli XCX gears up for a whirlwind 2014, with a new album coming out in early summer – and a bevy of singles leading up to its release, including the already-out “SuperLove” – VNDL chatted with the pop songstress about her journey from teenaged DJ to Atlantic Recordssigned pop star, the influences behind her heterogeneous sound and visuals, how feminism and aggression commingle in her music, and more. You’ve gone on record asserting your undying love for pop music. And, with so many industry sub-labels and categories, when it comes to defining your sound, you simply stick with “Pop.” How did a 14-yearold who got her start working warehouse raves in London grow so fond of pop music? I’ve always been a major fan of pop music. I was obsessed with Britney Spears, with the Spice Girls, with Christina Aguilera. So, I guess I kind of grew up on it. When I started making music around 14, I was really inspired by a label called Ed Banger; I was really into Uffie and
Justice. And then, I became obsessed with The Cure, and Phish, and Bjork. I was surrounded by super straight-up pop, and then moved into kind of the more ethereal, melodic pop sound. But, I always loved music you can sing along to – emotion pop music is where I’m at. Many musicians and singers are very meticulous about the song-making process. For Charli XCX, it seems the song-making process is less about scrupulous thought and more about in-the-moment creation. In previous interviews, you’ve said it can take you as little as 30 minutes to write a song. Why the rush? I’m not really sure. I think that for me it’s been a really recent thing, I suppose. I just feel like I don’t want to waste time. When you don’t think about things, and when you don’t have a process, you have that freedom to be creative. Any minute that I think I have a system that I need to follow, I always freak out and I always worry. I think the best way to do it is to get lost in the music. I generally think the first idea that I put down is the best. I think that’s when you connect with something. Even though I am a perfectionist, I don’t spend a week on one song because in that time, I could’ve done five songs. The nature of the music that I’m writing right now is quick, it’s spontaneous – that’s the general idea of the second record. Your visual aesthetic is an interesting one. You keep people on their toes with this eclectic pastiche of goth, punk, ‘80s glam, and more. In your most recent video for “SuperLove” – the debut single from your forthcoming album – you offer up a bunch of colorful visuals enveloped in a backdrop of Tokyo. What influences your visual selections? For me, [visuals] are important because I like to create a world for my fans. The music video, the fashion – I just think it’s so wonderful and so magical. You can be whatever you want, and create whatever you want. I’m really influenced by Japan and I’m really inspired by Paris – those two places are really inspiring me right now. I’m also really inspired by the color red right now. In the video [for SuperLove], I wear this vintage Chanel red blazer and Jean Paul Gaultier vintage dress. [I] love the idea of that red lipstick, red
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nails chicness. All of the songs on the second album, I’m seeing them all in the color red.
all of the commercial success and recognition.
Your sound, songs and style kind of blend an edge between feminism and aggression. And, in a lot of ways, your music works to prove that feminism and aggression can not only go hand-in-hand, but can create a fiery, infectious atmosphere (and damn good music). What’s your take on femininity, feminism and its role in your music?
I’ve really given my life away to the music industry, so it feels amazing because I really do feel like I’ve worked super hard. I’m really happy with all the success that I’m having. Right now, I feel really good about it. There are days when it’s awful, there are days when it’s amazing. You never know what’s going to happen, you never know what’s around the corner – but that’s kind of cool.
I think feminism is important; I feel like any woman, female in this industry and, generally in life, is trying to be a strong female. If you have a vagina, generally, you are a feminist. [Feminism] is a really important part of my life – especially in an industry that is so dominated by men. It is important to be strong and stand your ground, like when people call you a bitch, just because you have a voice. It’s funny because men in this industry can be aggressive, and that’s just considered fine; but, as soon as a woman has a strong opinion, it seems like she’s portrayed in such a different light. I find that kind of funny. I think feminism is a hugely important topic always. I think it’s really being spoken about right now which is great; and, it’s really interesting to hear people’s opinions on it. In terms of my music – the music that I’m making now, part of it is really aggressive and it’s so strong, the second record is very riot girlesque, it’s very strong, it’s very shouty. I also have this one song – I don’t know if it’s going to go on the record though – that’s about basically being completely in control of your own body to the point where you don’t even need a guy to please you. As long as you’re empowering yourself and you’re believing in things that are going to push woman forward, it doesn’t matter what you wear or what you do, as long as you know in your own heart that you’re the woman that you want to be.
I feel really blessed and really excited; and, I just can’t wait to put the second record out. And, it’s just so cool that people care about what I have to say, and that people come to my shows and know the words to my songs. I know that sounds stupid and cheesy, but that all really matters a lot to me. It seems that pop musicians today are givien a lot more license and legroom to truly experiment with different sounds and soundscapes. As you dive deeper into your second studio album, what are some of the new sounds that you’re playing with? I hate the idea of being what people want me to be; I hate the idea that people expect me to come out with a pop album with these type of beats. I kind of just want to rebel against that. I don’t want to be expected, that’s boring. So, I’m basically play the record much more live, there’s guitar in there; and, it’s really inspired by a lot of ‘60s music, as well as a lot of nu-wave like Bow Wow Wow, the Wasted and the Flying Lizards. It’s very raw and very punk. It’s super raw; and, I think that’s why I like writing so quickly because I just want to make music quickly; and, I want to make it in the most raw environment and in the most raw way possible. Rather than thinking about things, I just get carried away in it and get lost in it.
Having started out in the music game when you were 14 years old, you’ve spent a good majority of your life (and, arguably, the most formative period of it) writing, recording, performing and perfecting your sound. To have been in the industry most of your life, it must feel pretty stupendous to encounter
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Model: Marija Jankovic (Talia Models) Wardrobe Stylist: Marko Plukavec Makeup: Ivana Mlikota
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JUNIOR PROM Words: Erin Shea Photos: Gavin Thomas
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The next time someone asks you to help them move, you should say yes. Why? Because you never know who you’re going to meet during that exchange, especially if they have a roommate. This was the case of Elektra Record’s Junior Prom. The duo, made up of Mark Solomich and Erik Ratensperger, met while Mark was moving into his apartment, which he was soon to be sharing with Erik’s then-bandmates. We chatted with Mark and Erik about the launch of their new-ish band and their upcoming EP release.
How do you guys know each other? How did you start working together? Erik: We met at Pumps. The strip club. Wait, that’s not true. Mark moved here three years ago and I actually helped him move into his apartment. That was the first night that we met. Mark: He was starting a band with the guys I moved in with. So he was having a band meeting and I was showing up to potentially live in New York. I didn’t know what I was doing, I had an air mattress and a couple of guitars. Erik: And dumbbells. 25-pound dumbbells. Mark: Erik helped me carry my stuff up and we’ve been playing music ever since. What’s one of your favorite venues to play in the city? Erik: We’ve made the rounds in the club circuit. Mark: That’s an easy question. It’s Brooklyn Bowl! Erik: That is true. If we have to pick a favorite, it is Brooklyn Bowl. Mark: It’s fun. It’s a good place and a good time. It checks off all the things I need: bowling, food, beer. Can you share a memorable touring experience? E: How about when we were in traffic coming back into the city? Those two fucking crotchrockets that were going the opposite way. Mark: Oh, that was funny. Erik: It was kind of alarming. Mark: This isn’t really a touring story. It’s a driving story. It’s not a really good story. We played a show in Los Angeles a month ago. That was fun. I took Erik’s picture by every single star on Hollywood Boulevard. Every one. Even people that he didn’t know. Some guy on a reality show. Pauly Shore. Does he really need his picture with Pauly Shore Apparently, yes!
You guys have the song “Sheila Put the Knife Down,” which sounds quite tumultuous. Is Sheila a real person and should we be worried for your safety? Mark: Sheila is not a real person. There is someone whose name sounds an awful lot like Sheila who is a real person. So we changed the name to make our lives easier and to not deal with any drama or… Erik: Lawsuits… Mark: Not so much that. Just anger really, no phone calls or text messages or emails. So yeah, it is a true story, but it is culled from different sources. This one thing happened to my brother and then this other thing happened to me, so it became a story. Your new EP comes out soon. What can people expect from this? Erik: Five songs. Touring around it, you know. Mark: From the actual music, it’s 17 minutes of just wham-bam, static pop music. Say you have something to do today, so you’re waking up in the morning and you need a pick me up. You get your coffee and you put on our EP. I think it’s going to put you in a good mood. Although, if you listen to the lyrics, they are a little dark. You could also lie down at night, listen to it and drift off to sleep. Probably not, actually. You couldn’t do that. What was your creative process when making the EP? Mark: We worked in our practice space for a year before we ever played a show or anything. We actually made an album, then scraped it and then started over again. It has been a long process of finding our sound, writing, trying different things and finding who we wanted to be. It was a hard process. And it was longer than it ever has been in the past, but it was worth it. Erik: We actually recorded the EP in Mark’s kitchen, our rehearsal space. We had no idea that it was going to become our own commercial release.
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PARIS EST UNE FÊTE Photos: Andrea Savall Fashion: Carmen Errando Make-up: Sara Olcina Model: Sara Castañer, Irene Sánchez
Clothes: Zara and “Trafico de modas” (vintage)
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ROB BAILEY & THE HUSTLE STANDARD Words: Joshua R. Weaver Photos: Gavin Thomas
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So, with such divergent styles, how did Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard come about? Charley Hustle: Rob and I met in tenth grade or something like that. We’ve just always been friends and we’ve always collaborated on stuff, all sorts of projects. I’ve always helped him out by giving him music for videos he’s doing; and, he always helped me out with design for different things. We’ve always been sort of creative together and a few years ago I started doing the Hustle Sound projects and Rob was like, “Hey man, we should do a song together.” So, we did “Work, Hustle, Kill”. And, [it] got its own sort of viral exposure. We didn’t really expect it; we didn’t even have the song for sale – it came from a video that rob put out. So, I was like, I guess we should do a Hustle Standard EP together. Rob Bailey: We have two completely different styles. But, it’s when we meet in the middle that we come out with something very interesting. How it works so well together, I have no idea. I think we’re both just willing to sort of meet each other there. If I were a little bit more hardheaded I might lean towards the hardcore sound; but, we both know that there’s this fantastic middle ground where we’re both sort of experimenting. We’re not looking for a hit – we just go in the studio and it ends up sounding however we want it to sound. We’ve always blended well together. There’s a lot of interesting influences in the sounds off of Battle Tested and Beast, from traces of dubstep and a big dose of hardcore, and a sprinkling of trap. What’s the origin of this assorted mixture of genres?
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I think my main throughline is [that] I like really intense stuff; I like things that have feeling in them. On this project, like on Battle Tested, Rob really wanted to do some dubstep stuff, and I hadn’t really even got into dubstep yet, so I started listening to a lot of Pandora and Spotify. But, growing up just listening to rap and stuff, I feel like that still has a heavy influence on the heaviness and the grittiness to what I do. But, as I grew, [I] listened to more stuff. Even on Beast, in the verses – I don’t know if you can hear it now – the way it’s mixed – there’s this keyboard sound in there. It’s like straight from a Beatles record, and I loved it because it’s this hard sound with this pretty keyboard in the verses. RB: At first, I didn’t really even see myself as an artist -- I never really did. We started doing it and it worked really well, but I never saw myself as an artist in the sense of making music. Pretty much, [Charley] said there’s this sort of market for us, which is the gym. I always listened to things in the gym and I wished there were these parts and there
been an incredible transformation in how I’ve looked at music. RB: We started out with no expectations and people loved it, and over time it sort of grew and it got bigger and bigger. At first we didn’t have a sound, but by the second album, we sort of had a sound established and we knew what people wanted to hear – and people know what to expect from us. Speaking of sound, yours definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. When and why did the bellowing vocals take root?
weren’t these other parts. I think what we realized quickly was this we had the opportunity to make something that was really inspiring and put out a positive message lyrically. The sound came from wanting to set a tone and keep a tone. Even when the music slows down, it still keeps the intensity, and you never get out of that zone.
RB: As far as my voice – he put me in front of a mic and I yelled at it. I fucking yell. To me, that’s the best way to get across emotion when you’re fighting with someone, you’re always yelling. Even at the gym, you’re yelling. The intensity’s there. I feel like my voice is developing a bit more throughout and that’s because of the people we’re working with. But, right off the bat, that’s how it sounded and that’s what we went with.
What defines the evolution of Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard now two EPs in? Where’s the journey taken you from being high school buddies to bona fide music collaborators? CH: It’s definitely been different for both of us. This was the first of my releases that had any kind of measurable success. And, it sort of helped me transition from being an engineer – I was a recording engineer for a long time in New York, and I was just kind of over it – and this helped me get that kick-started. And, over time, seeing people’s responses to the songs has been really incredible. I think both of us expected the first week people would listen to it and then it would just disappear...but that’s not what happened. It’s
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GEMS Words: Eve Reinhardt Photos: Gavin Thomas
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DREAM POP DUO, GEMS, HAS JUST RELEASED THEIR DEBUT EP TITLED, “MEDUSA.” BAND MATES, LINDSAY PITTS AND CLIFFORD JOHN USHER, WILL BE THE FIRST ONES TO TELL YOU THAT IT IS AN ALBUM BORN FROM PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL PRESSURES, LONGINGS AND CHALLENGES, WHICH IN MUSIC MIGHT NOT SOUND LIKE ANYTHING NEW. BUT EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM—THEIR SOUND, THEIR PERSPECTIVE ON WORK AND LIFE, AND DOING WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN—IS FRESH, MOTIVATING AND INSPIRED.
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Do you remember your first love of music— who was it, where were you?
for GEMS? Was it planned, or was it more of an organic process?
Clifford John Usher: My first love in music… man… The first one was probably Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy.” I remember the song coming on the radio and being in the car with my Dad and being like, “Ah! I love this song—turn it up! Turn it up!”
Pitts: I mean, our previous band was pretty DIY, but I think we realized it’s up to us to make something, and we wanted to be in control of all the aspects of what we were doing visually, aesthetically—
Lindsay Pitts: I remember getting really into the Beatles and going to the library and getting cassette tapes. I had my little portable boombox and I’d listen to my Beatles cassette tapes around the house. Who or what has influenced your music most? Usher: That’s a hard question to answer. We kind of distinguish between songwriting and production. Songwriting is something that transcends genres, whereas production is very genre specific. A good example is, a few years ago we were playing in a band and our van broke down in the desert in Arizona. We ended up staying with these random people in a trailer park. They totally took us in and cooked for us, helped us. It was pretty amazing. And they were all musicians, and they played this like totally cheesy pop-country music—you know, the kind of thing that’s like, [sings] “Bringin’ out a mayonnaise jar on the back of the DoubleWide.” Every single night they would have, like, a PA system and a bunch of guitars on their porch. And every night neighbors would come over and people would be hanging out. The cooler was always stocked—they went through, like, cases of Coors Light; and everybody would be just trading the guitar and playing songs. And it was cool because in that kind of environment you strip away production. It’s just people singing and playing guitars. I think we just have a real appreciation for songwriting— Pitts: And being able to play whatever instrument is a around—a guitar, a piano, whatever— Usher: A good song can transcend genre like that. You can just hear it stripped down. And I feel that the genre we’re working in with GEMS is all about production, but I think the songs come first for both of us. So how did you end up creating your sound
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Usher: Everything we’ve done with GEMS we’ve done ourselves. We’ve done all the artwork, design, we take all the pictures, we mix, we master and record our own music. It’s just the two of us doing everything – Pitts: And we’d tried to go into studios with other people before, but it was sometimes hard to articulate what we were going for. So I guess we decided that we had a vision and we had to make it happen ourselves. Usher: Yeah. I think one of the biggest lessons is: no one is going to do it for you. If you have a vision, you have to make it a reality yourself; it’s totally up to you. I read that you’d chosen your band name, GEMS, because you really liked the idea of something being created from intense pressure and temperature. Why does that idea resonate with you so much? Usher: Because it’s our lives. Pitts: We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Usher: I mean, yeah. A year ago we were in a pretty dire financial situation, and we’d been together for a long time, with each other 24 hours a day…it created a tense situation and that was really what our band was born of. It’s definitely been difficult but somehow we work well under pressure. Was there a lesson learned in all that? Did you adopt some sort of personal or professional philosophy that really got you through the most difficult moments? Usher: I think it was sheer blind determination. Pursuing a life in music is definitely not a smart or logical business decision. It’s pretty much the worst. But I think you have to—especially when you’re undertaking something like this— take everything that comes to you as part of your journey to where you want to be, and you have to try to assimilate it into some larger story that is taking you to your end destination.
Pitts: And see it as an obstacle to overcome, something that is part of the journey — Usher: That’s where the Medusa idea came from initially. Medusa is like an analogy for that inner demon that’s trying to destroy and paralyze you, and turn you into stone. What is the most personal track for you on your new album and why? Usher: My favorite song is, “Sinking Stone.” One thing we talk about a lot, and something we both gravitate towards in music, is…we call it a sense of existential longing. The feeling of yearning for something that you can’t necessarily put your finger on or even put into words. That’s definitely something we both strive for, and strive to create in our music. So much music in every day life is like background noise. But then you can hear a song that just cuts you to the bone, and gets you in this deep place, and that’s what we want to do with our music. What would be your best advice to bands? Pitts: Oh boy. I think you just have to figure it out yourself somewhat. Usher: I would say my biggest thing is: don’t ever expect someone else to come in and do it for you. I think this is the myth a lot of people have created because it used to happen: you know, when someone would get discovered you would have people swoop in and take care of the business aspects and things for you, and I think a lot of musicians live that fantasy, you know? Of like, “Oh, if my music’s really good someone will come in and do everything else for me.” And I just don’t think that really happens—I mean maybe it does happen occasionally, but you’re probably better off playing the lottery. What’s been the most effective tool to market your band? Pitts: The Internet. Usher: Blogs! Blogs are amazing things that exist right now. We didn’t have a PR team, we didn’t have anything. Our first song that we made we sent to some blogs. Another thing that I think a lot of musicians out there don’t realize is that people on the other end
of these blogs are just real people, and if you just connect with the person, if you like what they’re doing on their blog, there’s probably a good chance that they’ll like what you’re doing. You guys released your new EP, Medusa, on November 12th. What’s next? Usher: We’re working on tracks for our next release and a full-length album. And we’re always working on songs. With starting to write new songs and starting a new album , do you feel that you’re in a totally different place creatively than when you started with GEMS? Usher: Well no. I guess there’s a little bit of nail-biting happening because we’re about to release our first thing. But we were both pretty surprised when we started putting up tracks on Soundcloud, that people actually liked them—that was crazy! Must be fantastic to have people reaching out to you and responding so well to your music. Usher: It’s been extremely liberating because I think for a long time we felt like we needed something that we didn’t have. We couldn’t afford to record in a fancy studio, we needed money to record, we needed somebody to mix it, we needed someone to master, we needed someone to fund us, we needed somebody to promote our stuff— like, it always felt like we were missing something. And then finally, when we did everything ourselves, it was like “Oh! All right, we don’t need anything. I guess we have everything we need right here.” Which is really, really liberating. It feels great. So, here’s an inappropriate question: have you ever had sex to your own music? Usher: Definitely not! Pitts: That would be too weird. If you could give Bono any advice, what would it be? Pitts: Bono. Stop wearing those cheesy sunglasses. Website(s): http://www.gems-band.com
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ODESZA Words: Faye Postma Photos: Gavin Thomas
ODESZA IS THE CREATION OF TWO YOUNG PRODUCERS FROM OUTSIDE SEATTLE. AFTER MEETING IN COLLEGE, THEY MESHED THEIR SEPARATE SOLO WORK SOUNDS AS CATACOMBKID AND BEACHESBEACHES TO CREATE ODESZA. THEIR COLLABORATION PRODUCES AN ELECTRONIC, HIPHOP BEAT LADEN AND SYNTH DRIVEN SOUND THAT MAKES FANS WANT TO CHILL AND DANCE ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
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One-half of the duo, Clayton Knight tells us about inspiration, motivation, and his obsession for Game of Thrones. So how did you guys meet originally? Clayton Knight: We both went to Western Washington University, a liberal arts school north of Seattle. I was living with friend that knew him. Finally, one day I joined in their conversation about music. We started sharing and swapping music. When were you guys like, “Dude, we should make beautiful music together”? Harrison and I came from similar backgrounds. We started to share music and it’s just smoothly transitioned into bringing our sounds together. We began to collaborate, making the sound we were both going for. It came about really naturally. How is ODESZA different then your separate projects? (Catacombkid and BeachesBeaches)? ODESZA is more serious, for sure. It [BeachesBeaches] was always just something I did on the side but this became our focus, like, “How can we make this happen?” There is much more effort into our collaborative project [ODESZA]. How did each of you get started in creating music?
I’m really into Bondax. You should check them out. Also, the Australian scene is crazy right now! Another one, Kodak to Graph, a Florida guy is really great. Just really into these younger producers. Along the same lines, what motivates you to continue? We just really love seeing people getting into our songs. Heading on the road and seeing people loving your music is amazing. Being able to have that as a career and doing something we love every day is what keeps us going. What music are you embarrassed to admit you had a “phase” with? (Don’t lie about any Miley crushes, now) Well, in high school, I was really into Incubus. (Interviewer note: Ditto) Embarrassingly, the first concert I ever went to with my mom, mom’s friend and her daughters was Backstreet Boys. What about besides the music? What other things occupy your time? Woodworking, artisanal cheese mongering? I’m always trying to learn more computer science stuff. When I have time, I take online computer courses. Kinda dorky stuff. Any other free time goes to that and reading Game of the Thrones books. I’m obsessed with those books. How has the tour been so far? Any favorite spots you saw along the way? Favorite venue you played?
My dad was in a band and I played classical piano for 8 years when growing up. All through high school, I played various instruments in bands. In college, I got more into the recording and production. One thing led into the next and I started working with the software, learning it inside and out. Harrison played trumpet in high school. His obsession with MPC music started when he first saw Jel perform live. He immediately started saving up to buy the necessary hardware to make music like him.
The tour started relatively tame. Our first show we played Orlando on a Monday, which was a little quiet. As we have traveled up the east coast it’s gotten more exiting. Brooklyn [Brooklyn Bowl] was by far the best so far. As we head into the major cities the response has exponentially grown. Overall it’s just been really smooth.
What music inspired you when you were young? How about currently?
If you weren’t creating kick-ass music, what do you think you would be doing right now?
In high school, I listened to basic pop stuff, but then in college, was introduced into weirder stuff. Animal Collective blew my mind. Atmospheric sounds and became more interested in the tech sound. Currently? Oh man, a lot of the young producers coming up. It’s really refreshing.
I would be back in school. Probably pursuing a Masters degree in applied mathematics or computer science. I would keep studying as long as possible because school is a blast! Harrison would probably doing some design work; maybe working for a design firm since
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(Continued on page 164)
Tell us a little about yourself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
my name is Stuart Mitchell and i go by the name of walnutwax..i live in london and Im a hobby photographer..
i like to watch football…i love going to the cinema…but most of all i love hanging out with my friends..some of my friends I’ve had for over 30 years and i very rarely talk about photography while I’m with them..at times its kinda nice just to be stuart and not walnutwax.
Where did you grow up? in a little town called Ellon in the northeast of Scotland. Describe yourself in three words. Thought about this question for 20mins…and I’ve came up with nothing…hahahaha, sorry. When did you first pick up a camera? every year up until my teenage years i used to go on a caravan holiday in scotland with my mum dad and brother..i remember having a camera there when i was about 10. What are you currently working on? i never really work on projects…i just kinda see what models fascinate me at the time and i try to pull the strings to make a shoot happen.
How do you like living in London? i love london..ive lived here for over 15 years now and i find something exciting in this city every day..i can safely say in all my years here I’ve never been bored once..but i also love new york..i”d love to live there one day. Advice for Aspiring photographers: take lots of photographs..find a style that you enjoy shooting and you find the most rewarding..find a good model who likes shooting with you experiment. Twitter @walnutwax Instagram @walnutwax Tumblr walnutwax.tumblr.com
Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? i can’t think of a single piece of advice but I’ve had great inspirational conversations about photography with awesome photographers such as Jens Ingvarsson..Sander Dekker..Nadia Lee..& Kayt Webster-Brown.. Best part of the job? i think meeting new people,wether its a model I’m shooting or people i meet out and about who dig my work..shooting can be fun..seeing a final image I’m happy with and getting nice feedback from people.. Worst Part of the job? Retouching..dealing with timewasters and waiting for replies to emails.
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SHARON RADISCH Tell us a little about yourself.
Best piece of advice anyone has given you?
I am a photographer, traveler, fashion and interior design enthusiast who loves a great cup of coffee. I’m a sucker for fresh flowers, cortados, Paris, pictures of minimalist-style loft spaces and a great pair of shoes. In my past-life, I worked in the medical research field. I also hold a Master’s degree in Biology and Integrative Physiology.
Let go of your expectations; let the world surprise you.
Where did you grow up?
Best part of the job? The variety of the work, working with other creative minds, that feeling I get when clients go out of their way to say that they love the images and just being able to do what I love every day.
I was born and raised in southern New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia. I lived in Paris for a few years and have been living in NYC for over 6 years. I feel lucky to have so many wonderful places that I can call, “home”.
Worst Part of the job?
Describe yourself in three words.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Globetrotter, ambitious, coffee-worshiper When did you first pick up a camera? I don’t recall the first time I ever picked up a camera but I do have very vivid memories of carrying around disposable 35mm cameras throughout grade school, high school and even in college. I carried one everywhere I went! I was always taking snapshots of my friends and documenting our memories. I got myfirst digital camera before my first trip to Paris- that I will never forget! I was fascinated by the instantaneity. Film or Digital? Film and digital! I love shooting 35mm as well as medium format. I also love digital. I tend to sway more towards digital for client work, but I love both film and digital. What are you currently working on? Aside from client work, I’m working on producing work for an upcoming exhibition and am also working on a personal project about the sole inhabitant of an abandoned village in Hong Kong.
I’d have to say coming up with an efficient way to be able to carry a bunch of heavy equipment, especially up and down my 4th floor walk up. I’m petit, so that part can be challenging.
I like to go out with friends and try new places in the city, watch documentaries, go to museums, troll interior design websites, listen to NPR and podcasts, and I also love to read. As long as I’m constantly learning, laughing and exercising my creativity in some way, I’m happy. How do you like living in NYC? I love it. Every day I thank my lucky stars for allowing me to live here and do what I love. I am constantly inspired by NYC and the people I have met here; there is such diverse culture and so many creative, inspiring and intelligent people in this city. I just can’t imagine another place on earth like NYC. Advice for Aspiring photographers: Shoot every day. Constantly look at your surroundings as if you were composing an image. Most importantly, never stop loving photography. Website: www.sharonradisch.com Instagram: @cacahuete_sr Tumblr: www.cacahuete-sr.tumblr.com VNDL | ISSUE 3 | 111
JOSH WOOL Tell us a little about yourself.
Best part of the job?
I am a portrait and fashion photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. I’m 35 years old and photography is a second career. Up until two years ago I was a chef.
The community of creative people I’ve become a part of.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Describe yourself in three words. Quiet, calm, fuzzy When did you first pick up a camera? I think the first time I picked up a camera was the mid 1990’s in college, but it wasn’t a regular thing, just disposable film camerasfor snapshots at parties. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I picked up an slr for the first time. What are you currently working on? I have a couple of loose portrait series that I’m always working on. Aside from that, just gearing up for the new year and trying to book work. I’m in the beginning stages of planning some photo related trips next year, documenting South Carolina’s watermen and hopefully a trip out west to make portraits of people in the high desert. Hopefully I can find some grant money so that I can spend a few weeks in each place. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Chuck Close told me to keep the faith once, that was pretty cool. The best real advice anyone ever gave me was to not follow the pack and to be as honest and original as possible in my work.
Worst Part of the job? Waiting to get paid. What do you like to do in your spare time? I haven’t had a ton of spare time recently, but I like checking out galleries and museums when I can. The James Karales exhibit at Howard Greenberg Gallery blew me away. Seeing Richard Serra’s work in person at the Dia Museum was pretty incredible as well. I also visited the the Krasner Pollock house a couple of months back; sitting in Jackson Pollock’s studio really impacted me more than I could have imagined. How do you like living in NYC? I love it, living where I do in Brooklyn is fantastic, and there’s never a dull moment. There’s so much creative energy here. Sometimes, though, I do miss costal South Carolina, the quiet beauty there is unreal. Advice for aspiring photographers: Keep it simple. Find the light and connect with your subject, that’s all there really is to it. Don’t be afraid to fail, mistakes tend to be our best teachers. Website: www.joshwool.com Twitter: @JoshWoolphoto Instagram: @joshwool Tumblr: www.joshwool.tumblr.com
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ALYNE HALVAJIAN How did you get started as a make up artist? Growing up I was always fascinated by cosmetics and used make up as a security blanket, it allowed me to create my own confidence and I realized if that’s what it did for me that I could do the same for others. Any simple beauty tips? Don’t follow any rules because there aren’t any; just guidelines! I personally always do eyes first and foundation last which prevents dealing with eyeshadow fallout. Also if you don’t have a steady hand for eyeliner, rest your elbow on a stable surface and just incase remember q-tips and eye makeup remover are your friends! When applying fake lashes leave the glue out for a few minutes to allow it to become tacky this way the lashes will adhere fastest without lift off! What do you do to market yourself? I am fortunate enough to work with and have really hot, talented friends who happen to have big followings… which definitely allowed my work to attract its own following. I also worked for MAC Cosmetics for almost a decade and through word of mouth and loyal clientele I am fortunate enough to now be a freelance artist.
someone just by making them feel beautiful exceeds everything else in this sometimes cold/ fast paced industry. There is nothing more satisfying then making someone smile . Worst part of the job? One of my best friends/fellow make up artists coined the term “cornereria” which is what happens when the eye starts tearing in the outer corners and there is little coming back from that after you’ve worked your magic. There are tricks that can help but at that point its really you vs nature. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Makeup , TV, shredding and deconstructing clothes, compulsive thrift store/ flea market/ online shopping/bidding/collecting… I collect everything from vintage beauty products, toys, art, vintage Halloween masks and anything horror or death related. Advice for aspiring makeup artists Never lose sight of your passion, leave your ego at the door and be a listener first and a make up artist second! What does 2014 have in store for you?
What motivates you?
Weddings, photoshoots, travel… continue to make art with people who inspire me that I’m honored to call my friends . Maybe become a mother so I’d have someone to clean my make up brushes!
Art in every form, nature, people, my passion … and my belief that there is beauty in everything.
Any resolutions for the new year?
Describe yourself in 3 words. Creative, Caring, Patient… and ridiculous
Best advice anyone has ever given you? It wasn’t given to me but Coco Chanel once said “ In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different” Best part of the job?
To either get signed to an agency or join the union so I can one day work in my one true love – television! Website: aworldofillusion.com Twitter-: Twitter.com/mismanufactured Instagram: Mismanufactured
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RUBY AMANZE Words: Patrick Leone Photos: Cody Rasmussen
RUBY ONYINYECHI AMANZE IS A BROOKLYN BASED ARTIST, A FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR AND HAS DONE EXHIBITIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD. HER DRAWINGS ARE UNIQUE IN THAT SHE USES MANY DIFFERENT MEDIUMS AND HAS EXPANDED WHAT IT MEANS TO ‘DRAW.’ SHE RECENTLY TOOK TIME OUT TO TALK TO VNDL ABOUT HER WORK, IMAGINATION, AND WHAT SHE HAS IN STORE FOR 2014.
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You were born in Nigeria and raised in England, how has that effected your art? Your idea of what art means? Until recently, I never really thought about how my multi-cultural upbringing has affected my idea of what art means as a whole. I know it’s played a very direct role in what my work is about, as a subject; I make work to better understand these cultural differences and the middle space of existing in between them all. But in terms of what I think art means, I’ve only ever practiced it [with the exception of this past year in Nigeria] in a Western framework. I’ve had a Western art education and have been socialized to think of art in a particular Westernized way. I became aware of this when I was outside of this space. In Nigeria, art education is different. The value and importance of art, socially, are different. The gender balance within art is different. I think growing up in the West has made me view art as inherently having a certain freedom or space to explore, to be conceptual, to challenge things, to break rules, to innovate. But there are views of art that are so opposite to those ideas. The majority of what I observed in Nigeria was art that primarily serves to preserve tradition in both form and content. Experimentation happens and there are artists who are daring to expand what art can do, but it isn’t as celebrated, at least not yet. There is a place for everything and I strongly believe in the importance, especially within art, to be exposed to many different ways of working and thinking. I think if everyone can at least have access to another way of understanding what art means, then all ways become choices [and not a socially imposed limitation] and I can respect choice. When you sit down to draw do you have an idea of what the finished product will be, or do you let your work surprise you? I’m definitely open to letting the work go where it will. I don’t think I’m the only participant in the process. The ink has a say, the paper has a say, time has its own say… all of these things make a drawing. I have a general idea or story for each piece, and for the most part, I also have a starting composition. From there, things happen that I can’t predict. Those things lead to other things, which if I had a concrete plan, would never have had room to develop. For
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example, I may know that there will be two figures that connect roughly in the center of the page. I may know their approximate scale in relation to other things. I may know the shape of those other things and whether or not they will be areas of obsessive and dense mark making or more fluid and light instead. What those marks are, I don’t know. Will I erase them all after I’ve made them? Perhaps. Do I use glitter for the figures’ clothes or draw in a pattern? Not sure. Black pen or brown? I don’t know until I need to pick one up. If I listen to all the pieces, the right one will be evident, most of the time. Sometimes I make the wrong choice… but even that, leads me to fix it in a way that I never could have planned. I like to stay open to all of these possibilities. What is your process like? I like to work in the morning. Sometimes I stay late, but I never start late… I’m not a night person in that way. I also get dressed when I go to the studio. It’s a small mental thing for me of going to work or going to do something important. Depending on how far along a drawing is, I may already have an idea of what I need to work on that day. Other days I really have to be open to where the drawing might go. There can be a level of frustration on these days. Some days are more productive than others. I always listen to music while I work. Or if I’m working on an area that is repetitive [i.e. filling in the same pattern again and again] and requires me to zone out, I might put on a movie for background noise. I rarely eat. I forget. My studio stays pretty junky. I have supplies everywhere... I like to see what’s available to me at all times. These things tend to stay consistent. My process is a fluid one. I don’t have a preliminary sketch. I try to just be present and listen to what each drawing needs to be at the time. I write a lot. I always have questions. Who or what inspires you? This might sound cliché, but life around me inspires me. I tell stories, so I listen out for stories. I watch interactions. I remember the way a body stood in space. A story someone told me about their family. The color of the earth in a particular town in Nigeria. There are so many random things I see of interest that all get filed in my visual rolodex, so to speak. Currently I’m inspired by all things pertaining to
galaxies and outer space [spaceships, astrology, stars, aliens…], pigeons and leopards, hybrid creatures, bridges, Ankara wax print fabric patterns [like the ones that people identify as being West African]… I don’t think it’s always been this way, but I’ve developed quite an absurd imagination where spaces and forms collide in really fantastical ways. I’m always inspired by people who have their own version of a hybrid or alien story. I want to tell stories for us all. I love looking at drawings. I love reading about drawing. I don’t feel as though I’m consciously trying to make art like anybody else, but I do identify with a particular drawing aesthetic and when I see drawings of that hand, I’m inspired to work. To draw more. What are your favorite mediums to ‘draw’ with? Porcelain slip, metallic pigment, fluorescent markers and graphite. Without question though, I’ll always come home to graphite as my tried and true drawing material. I know that might not sound very exciting or contemporary, but for me, it’s timeless. It’s where I began, it’s always accessible, and there’s really no limit for what it can achieve or be, from a fine hard point to a thick chunk of graphite. For the most part, I’ve always drawn with fairly traditional drawing materials: various pens, ink, graphite, charcoal. But I’ve experimented with white correction tape, typewriter ribbon, an exacto knife to cut out lines. There are infinite things one can draw with, and it’s not because I like to use a pencil that I consider my work drawing. I’m open to using whatever material is called for at the time. Do you have a favorite piece or one that you feel represents you particularly well? I don’t know if I have a favorite piece. I do, however, have a few that I dislike strongly! But even including those, I think of all of the drawings as necessary for different reasons. You might see an individual drawing, but for me they’re all connected as parts of the process. I need to make each one, and figure things out within it, in order to be able to make the next one. I haven’t made that seminal piece yet, but perhaps I am getting closer. I think my piece A Structure Spanning + Providing Passage over the Chasm that is Us is significant in that it represents a shift from entirely abstract work, which I had been doing
for eight years. I’d just started a residency and didn’t know where to begin work, so as an exercise I returned to the beginning, which for me was representational imagery. I drew a portrait of a woman to see if I could still do it. This opened the door to my thinking of ways to introduce a representational figure into the abstract vocabularies I’d been developing. The above-mentioned piece was the first drawing that did that; it bridged the gap. It was the stepping-stone to the place where I am now, although the figure has since morphed a little closer back to the abstract. I wouldn’t have gotten to this space if it were not for the role that piece played in process. Derek Walcott, a poet from St. Lucia, who in his poems works through the idea of belonging/nationality/home, wrote ‘I have no nation but imagination,’ What do you think of that, the idea that the only place a person can belong is in their own imagination? I think that’s a beautiful way to put it, and I agree. There are so many people who live in-between. There are people who float across borders and nations; hybrid people with multiple homes, nationalities and places that they simultaneously belong and don’t belong. It can be a very complicated idea. But then if you consider the words of Walcott, it can also be quite simple. We exist, wherever we chose to in our imaginations. What’s most powerful about that is that no one can take it away from you. It’s forever, indisputably, yours. For me, I interpret it as being less about the physical body, and recognition instead, of ourselves more as spirit. You can’t place restrictions on spirit. You can’t tell it where it can or can’t go. Imagination, likewise, has no limitation. The idea of a singular nation state is quite the opposite and is perhaps becoming obsolete. There are so many people that it just doesn’t work for anymore. Perhaps, the only way to find authenticity, identity and belonging is in one’s own mind. In reference to your ‘Place is a state of being’ you wrote that you were desperate for a physical place to call home, have you found that? Are you still looking? I chuckle to myself reading this question! The answer is yes and no. My nomadic spirit is (Continued on page 164)
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CHIPPY NONSTOP Words: Erin Shea Photos: Trevor Gilley
CHIPPY NONSTOP IS A FAN OF DANCING ON STAGE, EATING CHIPS, AND USING SOCIAL MEDIA. TWO OF THOSE THINGS HELPED LAUNCH HER MUSIC CAREER AND THE OTHER IS WHERE SHE GOT HER NICKNAME FROM.
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Although she’s only released two EPs, the former Bay-area (and Toronto and Dubai) resident has collaborated with Andy Milonakis, Mad Decent records, and Kreayshawn, who is actually a good friend of hers. She’s also created a following on social media from being an active Twitter user and teaming up with artists that she meets online.
You use social media, especially Twitter, a lot. Do you think that has helped you?
However, her friends know her as a bigtime chip eater. She says she has matured from her days of snacking on Lays and has moved on to bigger and better things like nachos. Just don’t give her Srichacha chips and everything will be okay.
It has definitely helped me and has fucked me over at the same time. I mean, I almost use my Twitter as a diary, but not as personal. A lot of the people I have ever met are through Twitter or Facebook. Most of my close friends, who I’m friends with now, I’ve met on the Internet.
I talked with Chippy about chips, dancing, and her career.
And it’s easy to be like, “Oh I want to work with this person,” and tweet at them, “hey what’s up?”
What’s up with the name?
So yeah, we’ve made that connection and that’s easy.
My friend Quinn, who I met in the Bay, just started calling me that because I was eating chips constantly. It was before I made music. My friends just called me Chippy. And “Nonstop” was just because I was always doing shit non-stop. So what’s your favorite kind of chip? Well, it used to be Flaming Hot Lays, but I feel liked I moved on. You’ve matured a little bit? Yeah. The Srichacha chips are not good. I had high hopes for them. I don’t know what I’m into right now. I eat a lot of nachos and a lot of salsa and chips. How did you get started making music? I used to dance for a DJ who goes by ZakMatic. These people from Mad Decent saw me dancing on stage and said, “Oh you have crazy charisma, you should come in and record with us.” So I did a bunch of shit with them and nothing happened with it. I was still in school at the time so it wasn’t a big deal, I was just having fun with it. And then, this rapper from the Bay asked me to get in on one of his songs, so I did it. Then a few other rappers from the Bay kept asking me to get on their songs. So finally a year after that, I made my own project.
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So this all came about from just showing off your own personality? I guess so, yeah. My mom is a dance teacher, I grew up dancing so it was kind of natural. And I like being on stage.
You’ve done some stuff with Kreayshawn and Andy Milonakis, how do you know them? Any upcoming collaborations with them? I’m pretty much best friends with Kreay, I mean I’m the godmother of her baby, but she’s not doing a whole lot in music right now. I met her a few times in the Bay, but we weren’t friends. She moved to L.A. while I was in L.A. and then we got reintroduced and started hanging out all the time, and then she took me on her headlining tour. With Andy, I was just a fan because I think he’s hilarious. And I was asking my friend, who was a mutual friend, “I really wanna work with Andy, I really wanna work with Andy.” And then I started tweeting at Andy and he would respond but we never really did anything. Then, we were at a party at his house and I just said, “I need to make a song with you.” So we just went to the studio and recorded a bunch of dumb shit, but it was really fun. Where do you get inspirations for your songs? My first EP, I literally made it in a closet. The producer that I was working with was from the Bay. So I don’t know, we just kinda got drunk when we were hanging out and went with it. The first one definitely has a lot of Bayinfluence, my second stuff is more like dancey
and reggae-toney. There’s a lot of cultural influences in there, I wanted to drift away from having a super-Bay style since it’s so niche and there’s a lot of that. Most of my stuff is just what comes naturally when I’m in the studio. Nothing is pressured. Since you’ve lived in a lot of places, does that influence your music at all? Definitely. Growing up I listened to a lot of Indian music because my parents would listen to that, so I’ve put Indian lyrics in some of my songs. A lot of the sounds that my ears like tend to be African-sounds since I lived there for a while too. My music is very culturally influenced and even if I don’t recognize it, it definitely is. I was in the Bay for a while, so I was so influenced by the culture there. People there are so chill and are always creating even if it’s not for anything. People are just always making music and dancing on the streets, so it was very influential.
What’s the deal with your song Money Dance”? There is this rapper named Lil Mouse. He made this really vulgar song for a 13-year-old and he has this line that repeats over and over saying, “I’m in the club doing the money dance.” And I just thought that was hilarious because it’s like this 13-year-old saying he’s in the club doing the money dance. When I was making that EP, that song came out a few weeks ago and a few of my friends and I were laughing because the song was so funny and we thought it would be funny if I made a song about doing the money dance, so I did. Actually Lil Mouse messaged and was like, “Why didn’t you put me in the video?” And he wanted to collaborate with me and Kreayshawn, but it never worked out. So what do you see in the future for your music? I want to do a lot more singing, melodic, dance, pop-ish kind of stuff on my next project, which is probably going to be an album since I haven’t made one yet. So I’m going to start working on that. I moved to L.A. to work with producers I knew there. An album is next, hopefully.
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JENNY HVAL Words: Joshua R. Weaver Photos: Gavin Thomas
THE AUDIOVISUAL SPACE CAN BE BOTH A COMPLEX AND COMPLICIT ENVIRONMENT FOR ARTISTS. THE RELATIONSHIPS AND CONTRADICTIONS OF THE BODY AND THE VOICE, PERFORMANCE AND FEELING LEND THEMSELVES TO A SPLENDID CONVOLUTION OF AN ARTIST’S EXHIBITION AND HER INNER EMOTIONS.
Working within the mediated space of reality television, cinema and more, musician and artist Jenny Hval investigates the invasive nature of our eyes on the human spectacle – particularly, the body and, especially, the face. Hval’s newest album Innocence Is Kinky takes these themes out of sight and into the aural space by creating imagery through voice. VNDL caught up with Hval after her recent trip to New York to learn more about her new album, to dive into her process and to get a better sense of the meanings and contexts behind her latest projects. You’ve worked on various projects blending and critiquing the audiovisual realm. What was the inspiration and influence for Innocence Is Kinky? How was the process and development of the album influenced by these visual projects? It all started as a silent film concert for the film Passion of the Joan of Arc. I was invited to do the concert at a festival but I had to create new music for it. So, what I did then sort of became the face of the album, even though, it sounded really, really different from the album itself. The interesting thing is that it all started with working with visuals. The whole process of composing this material and producing it was influenced by staring at a huge screen and staring into someone’s face. And, this particular face was – if you’ve seen the film – it’s almost entirely close-ups of Renée Jeanne Falconetti playing Joan of Arc, and her face is kind of very, very tortured, but [is] also on the border of torture and ecstasy. This very open and very invaded face became a huge part of the composition. Just before the silent film concert I was working with another film project which I guess also found its way into [Innocence Is Kinky]. I was working with trash culture, specifically reality TV shows made for women. I went directly from watching a lot of the Norwegian version of Teen Mom, which also consists of a lot of [face] closeups, to looking at Joan of Arc. So, it was this crazy combination; and, I think these crazy combinations are more important than we sometimes credit them for. Because, [although] the aesthetics of this movie and reality TV are hugely different from each other,
there’s still the face and the face is really, really important for us. Why is the face so important to us? Is it because of its integral part in human expression, thought and identity? And, why is it so elemental in your projects? [There’s] an invitation to invade by looking, which I think is quite specific when looking at the female body and the female face. I know that Carl Theodor Dreyer, director of The Passion of Joan of Arc was very interested in how society invaded a person – and women specifically, tormented, tortured women – in relation to religion. And, I see a lot of these reality shows and that’s also a camera invading a young woman’s very personal space and filling it with all these stereotypes. With a camera, you can never really get close to a person, even though you’re getting too close. There’s still no personality there. I was frightened by how all these woman sort of looked the same, and all went through the same thing. With a project that started from such a visual space, how do you translate the critique of the face and this subversion of the commodified female body and expression into a soundscape? I always think of music as a very visual thing, but it’s more of an interior visual dream image. The voice is not always in the body, or coming from the body at the same time. The voice has its own body – where I don’t have to be myself in the same way as I’m sort of locked in my body when I’m being looked upon. So sound for me has been a way of escaping the visual while also creating images. By using sound, you have the possibility of not just doing a critique but actually looking at things without just making things to look at. Also, I’m invading people by being in their bodies when [they] listen to my album. There’s something very frightening about this, which I think opens the listener up to things you have to keep at distance when you see them. Speaking of bodies, sex and sexuality play a central role in your art and music. (Continued on page 165)
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L’AUBE D’UN SENTIMENT Photos: Sharon Radisch
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JAY GARD Words: Kerry Hassler Photos: Andrea Pek
Where are you and what are you drinking? In my car - whiskey... No that’s not right. I am in my studio in Berlin - Mareschstrasse 1, Neukoelln - drinking a hot ginger tea. You seem to truly own the title ‘artist’. Have you always felt you were an artist? Well thank you - I don’t know - as a teenager I felt overwhelmed by opportunities. I tried everything I could think of - from math olympics to boxing, from playing in avant garde bands and taking month long europe-bike-trips to joining a police-sports-club-gym. Luckily, I felt the clock ticking. I needed something I could be really good at and, ideally, do all my life without feeling confined. A couple of years passed and when I was 19 I felt like art was the right way to go. If you weren’t an artist, what would you do? “I would probably work with children.” That’s a quote from the movie Spinal Tap . . . Originally, you’re from Halle, a small town in former East Germany. How has growing up in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) impacted your work? For me, the GDR was DIY-Central. Looking back, it seems to me now that there were
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no products - only materials. My father built everything in our home himself: chairs, tables, shelves, beds, toys, Christmas trees. You had to be creative in the GDR - I appreciate that. My Grandfather Herbert had a very cool shop and in his free time he built models of motorized helicopters and airplanes. Also my other Grandfather Jochen was a creative craftsman, in the seventies these inexpensive cutting boards became available in his village of Lohmen - he bought all of them. Then he drove to the next village Muehlsdorf and bought all of them. Then he bought them from Wehlen and all of the other villages in his area. At the end he had 3.500 cutting boards to panel his living room. It’s still on his walls and it looks great - I have never seen anything like it! And those are the memories I have of this time. You had to be creative and make the best of it! From these people, I learned to use different materials and started to think very early about the meaning of products and objects. How do you consider your upbringing in relationship to your recent Torbogen work? With Torbogen I am definitely referencing the GDR-Era and my childhood. The 19 Sideboards are replicas of a furniture Series of ‘Deutsche Werkstaetten Hellerau’ (East-German-Furniture-
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Factories-Hellerau) from 1950’s. They acted out of necessity, inventing and patenting a modular shelving system that was cheap to produce and that everybody could assemble in a unique way. A couple of years later the GDR sold this patent to IKEA. IKEA is still using it on many of their products to this day. I was always in love with modular components - but I also always wondered if such ready-mades stifle your creativity. . .
cover, set it in, and turn up the volume - the experience becomes tactile. Then the sound comes - the player becomes the carrier of a message - lyrics or a certain mood from a song. Even if it is subconscious - you connect it to something you know, that you like or dislike. So my interest with the record players focuses on the non-visual, more the aura of the objects.
I suppose it has. IKEA is everywhere and people buy it for the ease. . .
Neil Young - I’ve gone through all of his music since he bought one of my record players a couple of weeks ago. So far I only listened to his big albums - but he produced some super experimental ones. His album ‘Trans’ almost sounds like Daft Punk, but Young did it 20 years earlier.
Yeah, it’s lazy to buy from Ikea. I do it sometimes; glasses, plates, cutting boards... Certain pieces you’ve produced might be viewed more as design objects. For a time you were using another name, VEGA, to brand some of these pieces. How do you differentiate between a well designed object and an art piece? I used the label VEGA to clearly differentiate between the two things. I had gallery shows with artwork under my name, Jay Gard, and used VEGA for showing the more design objects. Keeping one apart from the other gave me time to think about product design, its present significance and how i could connect it - if it wasn’t already connected - to my pictures and objects. After three years I was able to leave VEGA behind and merge the two things. Based on past projects including the design and production of stereos, speakers and record players I sense you have an interest in music. How does music influence your process? Music is of utmost importance. I have never even tried to work without music. It’s very helpful when you have the right studio environment, the right ambiance - music is the biggest part of that surrounding for me. You can choose a period of time, the type of energy and the message. While you are working you can hear what is going on in the world or you can go back in time and use the vigor of Iggy Pop’s Raw Power. That can absolutely help to get started and stay on track. So then, what is the role of your art piece when playing a record? Objects change. In the moment you put a record on - the player changes - it’s suddenly more related to your body because you choose the record, pull it from a stack, open the
Which bands or artists are you listening to these days?
Any other media you can recommend? Since this will mainly be read by Americans and Germans - here is a valuable exchange - for Americans I recommend Plenzdorf’s book The New Sufferings Of Young W and for Germans McNeil’s and McCain’s book Please Kill Me. Well and speaking of it - the classic film, Spinal Tap (if there is anyone who hasn’t seen it.) Recently I heard Dan Graham speak and he described his life’s work (being art) as a “passionate hobby”. How do you describe your entanglement with art? That’s funny! Hobby is good! I am a fan of Graham’s work - I am sure he didn’t mean it like that! Art is there to improve life. I think if you only want to improve your own life, then it is a hobby. If you want to improve life in general, then it’s a job. I clearly see it as a job. It’s a hard job. You have to work many years to afford working on your art. I personally realized that every year you have to work 20 more minutes each day - so it is not getting easier! I think it is definitely possible and important to have a private life going on besides, but you have to configure it. What you working on today? I had a meeting with my gallerist, Sexauer, later a studio visit, and then run some errands to get materials I need for tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Stu-Stu-Studio-Day! jaygard.de sexauer.eu kerryhassler.com stink.de VNDL | ISSUE 3 | 133
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Words: Kurt McVey Photos: Gavin Thomas
What happens when you take the humble, yet overly self-aware indie flavor of the Montreal music scene and blend it with the tough postpunk shoe gaze detachment of New York City’s transformed Lower East Side? You get the latest offering from electro-pop duo ValleysAre You Going To Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? (Kanine Records)-one of the finest (slightly) under the radar albums of 2013. Matilda (Tillie) Perks and Mark St. Louis, the duo behind Valleys, are complimentary as individuals as well as musicians. While both artists convey a quiet confidence, and share vocal duties on the record, Tillie Perks seems to assume primary vocal responsibilities off stage, as Mark prefers to defer questions to his eloquent and sassy female counterpart. Tillie’s rough exterior often belies the imaginings of an inner flower child hardened by the trails and tribulations of downtown New York’s harsh realities, a touring musician’s life on the road, and the pitfalls of modern relationships. St. Louis seems to consciously hold back his energy and enthusiasm as to not deplete his inventory before taking the stage, where his confidence and attitude shines through in brazen rock flourishes. Are You Going to Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? seems to be interested in the murky area between instigation and reconciliation. The album’s spot on commentary on the prevailing disillusionment of young millennials in juxtaposition to an equally strained sense of eternal optimism serves as a definitive profile of the psyche of the modern urban 20-something. The album also seems to be focused on the importance of communication, especially as our thoughts and feelings increasingly move through the filter of callous digital middlemen, furthering the divide between a particular sentiment’s true and final message and its flesh and blood origins. In “Absolutely Everything All The Time” St. Louis repeatedly touches on the anxietyaddled plea at the heart of the millennial’s plight, encapsulated in the lyric: Son, don’t let your family down. Like much of the album, the track seethes like an early Kevin Shields reverb drenched dreamscape. “Hounds”, a Crystal Castles meets Kazinsky wind-swept synth vehicle for Tillie’s melancholy Beach House vocals, somehow builds to what can only be described as a rousing anti-climax. The catchy single is a montage piece for cinematic retrospection seemingly
uninterested in a storybook resolution, perfectly content in never reaching its power ballad potential. St. Louis’s chorus laden guitar makes plucky industrial Dick Dale cameos throughout, creating a varied and unique sound collage. “Us” opens like Clint Mansell’s Requiem for a Dream orchestral piece carefully re-worked for a crunkified dirty south rapper, but slips comfortably back into My Bloody Valentine territory, replete with a decidedly Pink Floyd inspired plea for today’s wayward youth, or perhaps more directly, a heartfelt requiem for a failed relationship; What about us? “John, Meet Me At The Precipice” begins like a heavy synth-drenched West Coast guitar mash up between TV On the Radio and The National. St. Louis’ vocals are at their most deeply masculine and perhaps most versatile as his voice soon leaps an octave bringing him into Anthony Gonzalez of M83 territory. Halfway into the track, Tillie introduces an almost Annie Lennox inspired vocal cord progression that evokes the Eurythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again.” “Exing Everything” an almost entirely Eno inspired instrumental piece constructed on a cascading Phillip Glass piano arpeggio, builds and dissipates like a modern Trent Reznor/ Atticus Ross end-credits track. It leads into the album’s closer, “Undream A Year” a roughly eight and a half minute song with layered digital effects reminiscent of early Animal Collective. It also evokes the lurching conversational emoelements of post-punk bands of the early and mid aughts. Like most of the album, its lyrics are difficult to decipher, opting instead to evoke a particular emotion, in this case, a melancholy lament for yet another year gone by, consumed once more by the increasingly ravenous nature of time on our bodies, minds, and souls. It stresses how important and ultimately difficult it is to remain present in a digital and ultimately callous age, as life and relationships continue to slip through our fingers. Despite several obvious influences, Are You Going To Stand There and Talk Weird All Night? stands on it’s own legs as a sensitive and complex narrative that analyzes the themes of waning youth and the ever devolving nature of love. Perks and St. Louis, two unique artists from perhaps two of the most influential cities in the modern indie rock dialogue, deftly merge their male and female perspectives into one definitive and compelling voice. VNDL | ISSUE 3 | 135
Photo: Gavin Thomas
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Photo: Irina Maximova
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RODRIGO VILLAS Words:Eric Witmer Photos Provided by Artist
VILLA IS A GRAFFITI ARTIST FROM RIO DE JANEIRO WHO PURPOSELY MAKES ART IN NEIGHBORHOODS IN ORDER TO BRING MORE LIFE AND JOY TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THEM. HIS PAINTINGS AND WOODEN BIRDS INCLUDE ELEMENTS THAT INVOLVE PAST MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES WHILE INCORPORATING THE NATURE THAT SURROUNDS HIM.
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So Rodrigo, tell us about yourself. How old are you and where you grew up? I’m 38 years old, and I grew up in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. A really nice beach, good surfing and a place to enjoy nature with my friends! How was it growing up in Rio de Janeiro? Rio is a big city and dangerous as any other big city in the world. The main difference here is the poor neighborhoods are really close to the nice places. In Ipanema, we have 2 favelas: Cantagalo and Pavao. And the beach is a very democratic place. It equalizes the people because when you’re at the beach hanging out, you do not have a fancy car to show up or other expensive stuff. It’s just you. There are a lot of nature places such as the beaches, waterfalls, and parks. Almost everything is free or very cheap, so it’s very easy to have fun in Rio without spending a lot of money. My childhood was spent all day at the beach surfing, or in the woods hiking or going to a waterfall. Really fun!
How did you stay out of the gang life? I was always curious about favelas. When I was very young and I started to make friends there. Even when it was really violent. Those areas were controlled by drug dealers, and they had really serious fights against each other. There are not many gangs in Rio. There are just those who fight just for the monitoring of the drug dealing points. I come from outside of the favelas and even though I saw a lot of people getting involved with crime, I always directed my curiosity to another side. The majority of the people who live in the favelas are really hard workers and honest. It’s a pitty that only the criminals get the glamor or the interest of the other people. Unfortunately, violence became an entertainment, and we see a lot of movies for example, use the negative image of these places. It’s easier to imagine that you can go there and see a completely different reality, real people full of nice stories. It’s beautiful in a way. So were your parents around to have a positive influence? Yes, definitely. My parents are really amazing people.
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Did they get you into art? Everybody in my house is an artist. My mother does sculpture, my father paints, my grandmother is a poet, and my aunt and my grandfather were illustrators. So it was easy for me to get comfortable around art. The only thing that really amazes me is how we did not all starve to death (laughs). When did you create your first piece of graffiti? I started very young. I was tagging like every other kid my age. But at one point I found it kind of boring. I was much more interested in drawing. Back then the graffiti scene here in Rio did not exist. When the first graffiti artists started coming here I was so stoked! But it was just when I became friends with Lets, a pioneer here in Rio. Then I did my first piece. Since then I never stopped! For those who do not know, you’re known for drawing a bird. What is the meaning behind this? I come from Rio de Janeiro. It’s a city seen by
the whole world with a stereotypical image, which is based on the joy of carnival but also on violence. The reality is that both sides exist, but I will try to show the positive part without forgetting to mention the not so idyllic side. In terms of my graffiti street art, I intend to draw out more beauty in my work and the strengths that arise from Rio. The wild environment of the city is the thing that generates the positive energy of people it feeds. In that sense, my “canarinho “- a Love Bird - is partly a visual representation of that feeling. The bird is a constant immigrant who is searching for his space in nature where it can live or survive. I myself identify with this notion. Essentially this is what we do: we move and we adapt. Birds do not need visas or passports, and they do not care for political geographic borders. That’s the way it should be. When I came back to Rio from Barcelona, the birds started to get new meanings for me. Now I see them more like visual representation of feelings like joy, gentleness, and hope. It’s open to one’s interpretation!
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What are the birds made out of? The birds are made of wood. You described the bird as a “constant immigrant.” What does that mean? I guess we all are a constant immigrant. The birds are pretty autobiographical, but I understand that it has a special way to communicate and bring identification with another person’s story. We all see birds as free creatures. That can do this magical thing called flying. Dreaming and imagination is our way to fly. I guess my birds make me look to the urban scape in a different way than if I was just a graffiti artist. I spread little points of color and it makes people look to the sky and have a little moment of joy. Have you ever thought about hanging a bird from the statue of Christ the Redeemer? (Laughs) No. Rio is a beautiful place. With our competence and natural landscape it’s impossible. I think my art as something that can improve a place that needs color. That is how I choose the places for my work around the cities that I visit. I do not mean to “bomb” an area just for my ego or getting famous. My goal is to improve an area, and to give a gift for the community in order to make a person’s day! What areas of the world have traveled to the birds? I always carry the birds in my backpack. Every place I go to I bring some birds. It’s fun and I get to meet people and go to special places just because I walk a lot when choosing the best places to hang them. I’ve put birds up in Spain, England, Brazil, France, Holland, Germany, Tahiti, and other places! In addition to birds, you draw small cartoon people. Who do they represent? I think it represents our inner child! I think the kids live in a special time, really special. They see the world with a view that most of the time we forget is possible. It is very inspiring to me and I try to connect my vibe with this kind of simplicity. It’s a mental exercise for me and makes me produce pieces that spread positive messages. One of your murals in Barcelona is of a woman giving birth to several children, but
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the children are being flown in by birds. What does the picture mean? I did that piece with a good friend and extremely talented artist, Boris Hoppek. It was a time when all of our friends were having children! It was so crazy that we decided to make that piece for all the kids that were coming over! Many of the colors are soft on the eye. Why choose the colors you do? I try to make my work with this aura of ephemeral, like a memory of a dream. So I always use soft pastel colors. When did you start making collages? I always made collages. I think it’s so fun! And a quick way to get crazy results. Could you please tell a story about one of crazy incidents you encountered while working on the mural Manguinhos? Oh, Manguinhos was a big project that I took part with some other friends. As I told you guys, Rio is a really big city and the beautiful part is just so small. There is a hole behind the city scene were most people live in the difficult conditions. It’s a reality shock when you live and spend one week working in a place like that. For your consideration, that area is called “Gaza Strip “ because of the number of shootings and fights against drug dealers and the police. The most shocking thing for me though was the crack addicts. They walk on the middle of the train line like zombies. It’s really sad to see a person getting so animalized. When you’re working on large murals, do people ask you why you are there or do they mind their own business? I really like to meet people when I’m painting. As I said, when I go out to paint, I am 100% sure that I’m not doing anything wrong. I believe that if I go out with this vibe, then what I’m doing is a gift for everybody. I’m not vandalizing, I’m helping to improve the urban environment. I’ll attract good stuff. People feel this vibe too and come closer to talk and ask about my work. In this way I think it helps to demystify what street art really is. And plus, I get to meet nice people. Sometimes when I’m painting in poor neighborhoods, I get really
touched by the generosity of some people. Sometimes they will invite me to their houses, and give me food and water. They’re thankful for the work I’m doing there for free. Are the graffiti artists in Rio close with one another? Everybody, or almost everybody that does graffiti in Rio is good friends. We have the freedom to paint in Rio and that is unique. There is no problem. Most of the time when we go out to paint, we can do it relaxed, while enjoying some beers. So it’s never tense or quick. We get to talk a lot, laugh, and have fun together. Are most of your pieces done illegally? I never ask for permission. They would never let me hang birds on electric wires if I asked. So yes, it’s illegal. But it’s very difficult to get in trouble if you’re doing a nice piece. The neighbors like art on the streets too. Graffiti is very popular here! Where do you find inspiration? I’m always getting inspiration from the nature, from the kids, and from my relationship between humans. I’m a very observant person and I like to observe how people talk, tell a story, smile and how they act. It’s a repertoire of characters, situations, and reactions that I collect. And then I use it instinctively. Who are some of your favorite artists? Jorge Rodrigues Gerada, Acme, Lets, Marcelo Ment, Kenor, Sam3, Boris Hoppek, Aryz, El Tono, Nuria Mora, Eko, Vhils, Remed, 3 heads and many more! What’s next for you, Rodrigo? I want to fly with my bird as much as I can :)
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VIKESH KAPOOR Words:Ashley Canino Collage: Gavin Thomas
Folk musician Vikesh Kapoor has emerged from his small town upbringing with a faculty for storytelling, and powerful empathy for the dead end lives of America’s most impoverished working class citizens. His debut album, The Ballad of Willy Robbins, captures the fictional narrative of a man suffering familial, material, and existential losses. Despite the distance between Kapoor and the character he constructs in nine songs, the story rings honest--even heartbreaking in its candor. Kapoor spoke with VNDL about his formative moments, how much of the songwriter himself appears in ‘Willy,’ and his thoughts on the contemporary folk scene. When did you start performing music? I didn’t really seriously take up music until I was twelve, but I learned piano for a little bit in third grade. I was nine or ten…I hated lessons, I was more interested in writing my own songs or learning other people’s songs quickly. So I taught myself the second half of Yankee Doodle by ear, then I played it for my third grade class. I just really wanted to show off or something. And I got a high off of that, I still remember that. Before that, I remember my dad had this leather bar stool and I would just sit and listen to music and pretend to play drums with some pencils. Seriously, that’s what I would do, it was so boring in my town. Years later, that’s when I picked up a guitar and started writing, really writing. But it wasn’t folk music, all of that didn’t really happen until five years ago. When did folk music come into your life? Folk music came into my life when I discovered a Johnny Cash record at a church swap in my town in Pennsylvania. I thought his name was kind of funny and it was only 25 cents so I bought it. My parents had a record player, and
it was just an old wobbly record. He was my introduction into the general umbrella of folk and country music and songs that lean towards a narrative. But I didn’t really dive into it until a few years later once I discovered, at first, people like Elliott Smith, things like that and I kind of worked my way back into people like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Pete Seeger was really influential initially. I had a sense of familiarity with the music based on where I grew up. It was a natural area, in the woods, so the idea of acoustic instruments and stuff, as cliché as it sounds, felt natural even though as a kid I was playing punk rock music and playing electric guitars. But once I discovered [folk] it just felt a lot more in tune with me and the surroundings I grew up in. What was the name of the town you grew up in? Sunset Pines. There are about 9,000 people, the Amish live right next door. How old were you when you found that Johnny Cash record? Seventeen. It was near the time I was about to leave Pennsylvania and I think I was getting bored by punk rock music. He sounded so fresh to my ears. Who are some of your contemporary influences? Probably the one that’s knocked me over the most is a female singer named Angel Olsen. She makes me feel ways that I haven’t felt since when I first discovered early folk music. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily call her a folk musician, even getting that feeling from somebody… I haven’t really gotten that feeling
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since someone like John Jacob Niles, he was a folk singer, and kind of a folklorist, who built his own instruments and was popular during the folk revival in the 1960s. This guy from Durham, NC called Hiss Golden Messenger [has been an influence]. One of my best friends, and someone who has been writing songs side by side with me since we started this, is a talented songwriter named Barna Howard. Those are just some of my contemporaries, you know, but I listen to psych rock, I love bands like Sonny and the Sunsets, La Luz, this all girl surf rock band from Seattle. That stuff is influential too, at least inspiring.
more important. I spent time in a small town in Arkansas and the song [The Ballad of Willy Robbins] particularly took images from that experience from that town in Arkansas. But otherwise that song really exists outside of personal experience, more so than a lot of the other ones. Whereas a song like, “Ode to my Hometown,” was about me revisiting that town in Pennsylvania from time to time and watching it deteriorate and change and lose its character as a small town due to big business coming in and shoving people out.
I understand that your debut album, The Ballad of Willy Robbins, was inspired in part by a newspaper article about a man who fell into despair. What parts of your personal experiences, if any, are projected in the album?
It’s hard to say because I was deep into writing this record—I did it over two years. For the most part, even with that article I read, it wasn’t like once I read it and it moved me, and then I consciously decided that I want to try to write something about it. It’s not like I can just choose page 3 section A of the paper, or open a magazine, or turn to a channel and just say I’m going to write a song about this. If it’s going to be any good it has to create some kind of reaction in me. I think a lot of it is reactionary first. Then, maybe, consciously I decide. The best songs…you just vomit them out as a pure reaction, a pure emotion, you just kind of let them come through you. I just think I’m the messenger; it’s not really about me.
All of the songs inject some kind of personal experience I’ve gone through or something I’ve seen—or else it really wouldn’t mean anything to me, because this isn’t journalism. Just seeing people in my town, as an example, some of my friend’s parents digging through a tunnel their entire lives for decades only to be faced with kind of an impenetrable wall at the end of their journey and realizing that was it. That’s the figurative way of putting something like working for a big company your entire life, but seeing no sense of loyalty once you’re done. Just kind of being shelved and seeing people feel in despair. Really there was no sense of return there. That was really painful to watch. Things like that definitely did [appear in the album]. The love stories are my own. There are some love songs on the record that came from experiences I went through. Probably the one that has the least personal experience is the title track, the first song I wrote for [the record]. It was most directly inspired by that article, and my first attempt at writing a story song that was trying to be outside of myself, or outside of typically what you would see in a singer songwriter genre, or guy with guitar situation. I wanted to write a song that had nothing to do with me weeping about my problems. I wanted to say something more important than that, or what I felt was
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Do you still find yourself looking for other jumping off points for new narratives?
What do you think is characteristically different between the contemporary folk scene versus the music that defined the genre? That could get me in a lot of trouble. I’m not necessarily waving a flag saying I’m a pioneer of folk music, or a traditionalist. There are people who do that and stick to it and really do it well. I don’t think folk music will ever die. It’s a genre that has existed for so long, across the world. Folk music isn’t necessarily guy with guitar; it’s about folk community singing about what’s going on. You go to a different country and they’re singing songs about the harvest. These songs are just kind of always in the skin. Of course, aesthetically, it changes for contemporary times. I don’t think someone like Mumford and Sons is folk music. I’m not saying it’s bad music,
I’m just saying that’s a façade and kind of a cheapened look at what folk music is when really it’s just aesthetic. [They’re] more pop music or rock music with bowler hats and banjos. And that’s fine, but it’s not talking about what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about might be happening more nowadays in something like progressive hip hop, just content wise--just trying to say something that’s not just ear candy. For me words are so important. I think there are people that are doing it though, there are a lot of contemporary singers out there who are doing something similar. You just have to go seek it out. And it’s not even necessarily what NPR is playing. Now that you’ve been on tour for a few months playing The Ballad of Willy Robbins, do you feel your relationship with the music has changed at all?
audience—that can be boring, that can make people angry, that can make them excited. I’m hitting so many people for the first time that it’s hard to really evaluate what kind of reaction it’s creating. It’s hard for me to know then how I’m reacting to it. On a technical side, playing the album every night—probably a lot of performers would say this—it’s tricky to reinvent a song night after night. Normally, since I’m up there by myself, I try to be spontaneous on stage. Some songs I just won’t sing some nights even if it might be the single from the album, and maybe I’ll sing some songs that aren’t even released yet, just to keep it fresh for myself. The most important thing is just being honest on stage and trying not to just replicate something. Just be present. Where was your favorite audience?
Some songs remain mysterious and those are the best ones, the ones that you don’t really know where they came from. Usually you never get tired of singing those songs. I remember Townes Van Zandt saying something similar to that about “Pancho and Lefty,” like he didn’t really know where that came from or who they were exactly, not everything was spelled out, so that song remained mysterious and still does to people nowadays.
There were definitely some experiences when I first wrote The Ballad of Willy Robbins that were definitely foundational in me deciding I wanted to do this, even if it was playing for ten people in a house in St. Augustine, FL, where kids would come up to me crying after some shows and say that was their dad or it reminded them of their family. That left an impression on me for sure. That was early on and led me to think maybe I should keep doing this.
With this record, it’s just my first album, so I’m really going through these experiences in the moment. Right now it’s hard to reflect on them. I’ve been touring for the last two months straight, and even before then since May singing these songs. Right now my crowd is so small—I don’t know how many people really know about me—that the audience from town to town varies so much.
Even though on the other side, in a place like Brooklyn, you have people who see a lot of music and—I love New York, I love Brooklyn— but people can be a lot more skeptical than in a small town. It’s easier for someone to pull the Bob Dylan card and say, “oh, you’re just bob Dylan.” But for me it was interesting to see that polar opposite reaction to the same song. I thought that meant I’m doing something good if it’s creating strong, separate reactions. Most recently the best show for me was a festival I played in Washington, in the woods outside of Seattle in the summer. Those festival promoters really believed in what I was doing, and were my first champions, and really thought I had something to say. They had me play the end of the festival, in between all the headliners. Nobody else was playing and I played on this wood stage and there were a thousand people there. I played with a string quartet for half of the set, led by this amazing string arranger named Andrew Joslyn. He’s been arranging strings for people as different
I’m very sensitive, I’m not so insular, maybe that speaks to the kind of songs I’m singing. The audience reaction and interpretation matters a lot to me because I’m just up there by myself. In my mind all I have is the audience. I’m not the kind of performer that is going totally into my own world. I’m aiming for some kind of communication and some kind of transcendence together. I don’t think what I’m doing, what I’m singing about, is happening too much these days. That can be a lot of things to people in the
(Continued on page 166)
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JANINE & THE MIXTAPE Words: Joshua R. Weaver Photos: Gavin Thomas
There’s a story beneath the surface of us all – the languish of a darkened past and the lust to relinquish its hold on us. For New Zealand songstress Janine and the Mixtape, this triumphal surrendering of a disquieting history comes in the form of her debut extended play Dark Mind. “This is holding hands with a Dark Mind,” Janine warns in the first line to her debut mixtape. “Don’t let your palms get sweaty.” It’s an open invitation to take part on a five-track odyssey marked by moments of grim hope and innerturmoil, but encapsulated by a recognizable moxie – a fortitude to not only confront things that happened to her, but to share them with the world. With a celestial, yet enrapturing voice that commands every verse, hook and refrain, Janine transports you to her zone, using roomy vocals and an eclectic mix of R&B, hip-hop, experimental and downtempo elements to assert both a riddance of the past and optimism for the future. “And, though my mind won’t be the same, I’m still around,” Janine proclaims at the end of the EP’s titular track.
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Just a couple days before the artist’s return to her native New Zealand, VNDL met up with Janine at her Bushwick, Brooklyn pad, where she opened up about the story and process behind Dark Mind, her year-long tenure in New York, and what lies ahead as she treks home to start her newest journey. Dark Mind is more than just your inaugural mixtape – from its lyrical construction to its sampling and mixing, it’s a creation that’s purely yours. What’s the importance of having your debut EP be a complete product of yourself from concept to completion? This EP for me is kind of everything, it’s my story. The EP itself is about some pretty tough times that I went through, and about overcoming and using those times as something to heal and inspire others. I had to tell that story in order to move forward. In terms of creating everything, it’s my heart – so I care about every single part. I care about the hi-hats, the reverb, the snare. Everything about it has to be perfect. It’s difficult to find people who share the same vision. So, for me, the whole producer thing came out of necessity. I think collaborating is amazing and I’ve always been open to it; but , for this project, it was really good to experiment. There’s a certain melancholy (and, at the same time, a sort of humanism) within the tracks on Dark Mind, where does the equal parts passion and sorrow come from in your music? When I came here [to the U.S.] the first time, I think it was 2011. I booked a whole lot of shows and saved up and just came here for a month and at that time House of Balloons (The Weeknd), Nostalgia, Ultra (Frank Ocean) and James Blake had just dropped. I walked around New York listening to them and, was like, this is what I want to create. I always loved hip hop and the way the beats make you feel, and R&B and the smoothness and soulfulness of the vocals. But, I was also listening to a lot of indie and ethereal-type music like Sigur Ros and Bon Iver. The intricate sounds that you get from indie layers – the blending of guitars and synths – altogether it’s a beautiful soundscape. And, for me, [Dark Mind] was about combining those elements.
because when you meet me I’m such a bubbly person. But, I write best when I’m sad – that’s the inner-workings of my mind when I’m letting people in. I do what I know; I do what is natural. That’s what makes timeless music. And, the thing with my EP, it’s not necessarily something you listen to one time and you’re like, ‘I got it! This is my shit.’ It’s much more reflective and, the more you listen to it, the more you understand it. What’s the journey been like as Dark Mind has begun to receive its proppers from such major outlets as Billboard, Vibe, Complex and others? I’m very transparent; I’m so cheesy. I don’t hide how excited I get. When you’re from New Zealand, it’s sort of like these places don’t exist, or [celebrities] don’t exists. It’s rare that you even get to this country, let alone meet these people. When I put out “Bullets” about a year ago, all of these publications like Billboard picked it up. Vibe was actually one of the first to jump on board; and, when I got them, I was jumping around the room – it’s genuine. These are big steps considering how long it even takes to save up for a ticket to the States. In many fashions today, Brooklyn has become the lay term in people’s minds for this sort of do-it-yourself artistry and creativity. For some, it’s just its mere saturation of creatives, for others, it’s a more grandiose idea. Why take the plunge and move across the world? It’s amazing to be in a place where you can actually see everything unfold. Musically, I’ve always looked overseas for inspiration. And, when I came to New York, I immediately felt just how much I fit in. It’s weird to come from the other side of the world and find somewhere that’s just home. But, at the same time, there’s a balance. New York is amazing; it’s so inspiring. But, you can get caught up in it without actually taking the time to still work on your art. All the connections are great; but, nothing means nothing until it’s something. To be honest, I’ve spent so much time surviving lately, I haven’t had time to sit down and work. That’s one thing about New Zealand that’s exciting in a way. The space and the mindset (Continued on page 166)
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MARCO SANTANIELLO Words: Patrick Leone Photos: Gavin Thomas
Favorite classic video game? Pac Man How do you choose who qualifies for a portrait? Of course people with great and international visibility are one of the targets because this way I have chances to get exposure but also getting in touch with them. I don’t like the idea of making something only for the mere purpose of exposure. I always try to make a connection and taking and sharing with them experiences and background. I also admire genuine and eccentric characters, especially of NY since Im living here now. How did your first solo show in NYC go? What did you learn from it? I must say that It couldn’t get better. As a “new comer” in the Chelsea District of Manhattan, one of the most important place in the world talking about ART, I had so much international attention from press and webzine from all over La,NY,Italy,Asia and so much more to come. I try to learn on an everyday basis about things that happen in my life, but I can say that this exhibition put me in the situation to deal with so many little details and “backstage” aspects that I think I now Know how to handle even in the future. And a constant dialogue with the gallerist which I think is really important. How does fashion influence your art and vice versa? Fashion doesn’t influence my art I think
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it’s more me that influence fashion, just to complete your question ;) What my brain records during my entire life it’s the real thing, the source of inspiration, so I can pretty much say Im inspired by myself and Im sure I inspire so many people and followers all over the world. I am an extremely positive person when it comes to talk about career and believing in themselves. Im a huge motivator. You have a pretty recognizable makeup regimen. What inspired that? How did you come up with it? I used to wear a black make up “panda eyes” everyday of my life as a statement of the simple sentence “ do not judge people by the cover” it’s a simple thing but I really wanted to do it and wow I saw many people acting weird obviously, because I was wearing it even while I was doing food shopping. All day. But im pleased that the people in my area started not to notice it anymore which is good. How can a make up change the perception of a person ? People must wake up soon and I ll try to accelerate this process. Stop focusing on bullshit and start living your life and feelings. What designers are you really into right now? Im not anymore really into a specific designer, but I do have some fav ones like John Galliano, Gareth Pugh, Daniel Palillo, Katya Leonovich, Costello Tagliapietra, Aber Gazzi, and so many others I just can’t really name all of them, including myself obviously since I make some fashion too.
If I were to give you a 100k what would you do with it? I’d probably get a big loft and starting a community where artist and designers that I choose can come along and use tools that they need and I’d probably start an art space too for organizing exhibitions. This is just the first thing that came right now in my mind. Realisticly I’d try to think about a way to start the world revolution with these funds. I believe that the world is definitely ruled by few lobbies that control pretty much everything and I believe I have the strength to do something to fight them which Im already doing with my pop art anyway. Who is your number one superstar right now? You’re interviewing him. How do you think pop art fits into 2013/14? Warhol did it all those years ago and it was something ground breaking. How do you feel that you are going forward from his work? The market is completely changed now and the actual dailylife problems are changed too. So I think the pop artist in the past are now just kind of meaningless, I mean much respect for all the work they did but we are living now and not anymore 30 years ago. We have new problem that a real pop artist should touch and also In a really hard way. When pop art is just business I think it loses all the good purpose that art should have. Most of people and artist are still chasing fame and money which completely makes all of them a “bunch” of something. The lost of values is one of the biggest problem. The market and the art world is the other problem too. Example: if you checked the hashtag Art Basel Miami you could only see bikini, pool,alcohol, beaches and some art – just saying. Talking about ground breaking things well the perception of life is pretty different now, imagine that if you see a dead body in the street you can even think it’s kinda normal TODAY.
Your name is super Italian. Would you describe yourself as super anything? That’s easy. I AM A SUPERSTAR. What’s next for Marco Santaniello? [In] 2014 I’d love to start collaborations with brand,designers, or whatever OF COURSE ON COMMISSION, I better say it otherwise all the wannabes around be will start to write me and I ll plan new exhibitions, just need the time to set up everything since I do everything by myself. Going more international is the next step. I want to get established and I ll make it.
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KATE FOLEY Words: Lyz Mancini Photos: Spencer Wells
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The term “It Girl” is a vast understatement when it comes to style icon Kate Foley; from her quick wit and slice of a smile, to her feminine yet unexpected style, what is most refreshing is her ambitious plans for the future of fashion. Over cold-pressed juices (both fighting epic winter colds), we discuss art versus style, being a cat lady, and the underthe-radar designers she can’t stop wearing and talking about. So what have you been up to? I did a Glamour shoot last week with Chelsea (Leyland), and Kyleigh Kuhn and we just shot something for Vogue that’s going to come out with the three of us. It’s because we’re friends, I guess, and are all in the same fashion circle. I’ve done a lot of things lately where the publication styles you, and your style is kind of sucked out of you because it’s what they want to see. You have a really distinct style. It’s very feminine pieces mixed with more contemporary ones. I do have specific opinion about what I wear and what I don’t wear and everything, and hair and makeup. I’ll end up with really dark eyebrows and weird hair or some old lady outfit. They say “it’s about your style” but like its a story on trends and it doesn’t totally fit who I am. What do you usually gravitate towards? I’m kind of a little manic-eclectic, so I don’t really gravitate towards one thing. I normally never wear anything short and I definitely like prints and colors and I’m happy to mix things up. Sometimes it looks a bit mental and sometimes it works, but that’s kind of fun. Sometimes I will look at something I wore and think “Oh, I wore that when I was at home alone and I wanted someone’s opinion but I didn’t have anyone so I just left the house.” I ask my cat for her opinion about what I wear, she’s really picky. I would use my cat, but he’s busy hiding in a cupboard somewhere. His name is Goblin, and as soon as it rains he jumps into cupboards. It’s short for Gobbolino, from the children’s book called Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat. It suits him.
You were a Buyer for Opening Ceremony for quite a long time, when did you leave to branch out on your own? It feels like yesterday, it was in August. I was with them for four years; which is a long time to stay with a company in fashion. I loved working there and I love the clothes, it’s a great place to buy for because it’s fun and you can do what you want and take risks on smaller brands. You can buy a bit more emotionally, but it just got to a point where there are all these other things coming up and it feels like the right time to go do things on my own. So now I’m working for a few different larger stores and buying for them. It’s a fun challenge, and there is something to be done for some of the stores that maybe need a bit of help. So I’m doing that and then my idea is to create a company where I can help brands get a leg up in the fashion industry. Help them meet people and companies and really curate a group of designers I really love. When I left Opening Ceremony, what I realized that I really loved was working with the brands that I found each season and mentoring them and helping them however I could. I would always connect them to this person or this magazine because I knew it would be a good fit and I really believe in this brand. I would put them in touch with good showrooms and things like that. I genuinely feel so passionate. I would do that only if I could. My idea is to develop a mentoring or consulting thing for brands and have other people come in and see how it goes. So much of the time, you get someone who comes out of St. Martins and has so much talent but no experience and sometimes maybe there has been some press or maybe Asos picked it up and that’s amazing, but then they don’t know where to go from there. There are so many small things they could do to move their business forward and that’s what I would want to support. The fashion world is so hard to break into and create a buzz and get people to take you seriously. Fashion is so tough. It’s great being an amazing creative, but you have to know how to run a business. I have see so many brands that are so cool and I loved and a couple of years in they just can’t do anymore and it’s the saddest thing. Sometimes it’s not meant to be and they’re better off as a Creative Director but then (Continued on page 165)
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Odesza, cont’d from p. 108 that is what his degree is in. What are the plans for the rest of 2013? Anything you guys are super excited about coming up? There’s a lot of new music we are working on. We are trying to get together a full-length album. It’s a little different direction but it encapsulates our older style, new styles and where we want to go. Really excited for people to hear it! So when we will be seeing you guys back in our ‘hood? Hopefully wintertime. We want to try to hit East Coast again around January or February. I can’t confirm, but hopefully! I like to end interviews by making my interviewees do it (inherently lazy, I suppose). Give me one sentence about what’s going on for you at this moment. Well, I’m in Columbus right now and getting ready to see some family so looking forward to that! Artist/Band/Etc. Contact Info Website(s): http://odesza.com/ https://soundcloud.com/odesza Twitter: @Odeszaaa Ruby Amanze, cont’d from p. 119 something that I am learning to reconcile with. It doesn’t have to be a cause of angst and restlessness. If I’m able to productively channel the energy, I think it’s the optimal way for me to exist. For the first time in a long time, I do feel very at home where I currently reside and work in Brooklyn, NY. There’s a desire to stay for a while, to establish some roots here, while knowing that I will leave, as I always do, but that I will come back. Simultaneously, a close friend of mine and I are in the process of planning for an equally permanent shared home in Lagos, Nigeria, where I imagine I will reside part time. I still believe that place and home are more a state of being than a physicality. I can make home anywhere. I am realizing this. What is your desired response from the audience when they interact with your drawings? I want for people to see my sincerity. I think
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there’s a lot of work out there that doesn’t feel charged in any way. It seems easy and lazy to a certain degree to make something just to take up space, or because you’ve memorized some sort of formula. It’s another thing to create from a place of constant discovery or experimentation, of vulnerability, of honesty. It’s not so much that I care if the work is loved or even liked. There will always be someone who loves it and someone who hates it. This is part of the art game. What’s more important for me is that I make the viewer feel something, or at least see evidence that I felt something in the making process. If you can look at my work and acknowledge that there’s a story, and a storyteller who believes in that story, then I’ve done something correct. Of course, there are higher levels that can be tapped into: that the viewer understands the story, appreciates the way it has been told, and the ultimate level, that he or she identifies with it. At that point, we share the work, because the viewer is a part of the story I’m telling. It’s not just about me, but that my voice has been able to speak on behalf of many. I don’t know what would be better than that. What do you do when you are not drawing? Being a studio artist is my life now, so most days that’s what you’ll find me doing, drawing. Outside of that I’ve always been a competitive runner. I race long distance throughout the summer and fall so I spend a considerable amount of time training. When it’s warm outside, I’ll be on the road, otherwise I keep an active gym schedule. I also really love to cook and put a lot of energy into my home space. What’s next for you? What are you working on? Any upcoming events? More drawing! I want to make my largest drawing to date…it has to be more than nine feet in both directions- that’s a goal of mine and I’m starting to think about how to actualize that. I have two exhibitions coming up this spring 2014; one at the Harvey B. Gantt center in North Carolina and a drawing exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary in London. I’m also preparing for a show at the Seattle Art Museum in 2015. I just have to keep drawing right now. Not to produce for the shows necessarily, but to maintain this momentum so the next chapter can even be possible.
Kate Foley, cont’d from p.163
how you truly want to help them succeed.
I can think of some brands where they had that whole network. They might show up to a showroom and maybe the showroom doesn’t have their best interest at heart and they don’t see the warning signs, so that’s my dream.
I love being inspired by different things, and I get very excited when something aesthetically works for me. I love working with people and getting behind their brand and then being able to be a part of their vision. I think at first it didn’t occur to me that I was helping people and then to put someone in touch with a magazine and then an article comes out on them and other people start to love them too, it’s fantastic. To just believe in something so much is what I live for.
You are also represented by Next Models, which is one the country’s largest modeling agencies. Yes, they are my agency and they have been for a while. They are fantastic; they look after me in London and in Paris. They are just a great team and they handle my appearances and the money and things that I am terrible at. If not for them, I would just say yes for everything and do it all for free, which would not a good career move. So what are some brands or designers you are really passionate about at the moment? There is this brand Isa Arfen, it’s by a woman called Serafina Sama and she is based in London. She had just been doing trunk shows and making things for her friends, it was almost like a hobby. I bought her first collection for Opening Ceremony and it was really luck that our worlds collided. She sent her look book to Opening Ceremony and we just happened to look at it. We opened it and realized it was kind of amazing, and the styling was beautiful. It was kind of different and fresher and it wasn’t trying to be super cool but it was cool naturally. It felt very feminine and now and I wanted to wear it and that’s always a good thing. She is also the loveliest person, and it’s always nice when you love a person’s work and he love them as people as well. Another brand I love is called Marques’Almeida. They are also based in Brooklyn; they work with denim but it’s not a denim brand. It’s very 90s inspired grungy, hard to explain but amazing. I wear it a lot and love mixing it with feminine pieces and contrasting. They are a part of the New Gen program. For jewelry, I love easy to wear pieces that are special and you can have all your life. I am obsessed right now with Daniela Villegas. She does these different bugs in all different kinds of colors, it’s fine jewelry and the colors are gorgeous. She uses colors from nature, and I love insects. I saw pictures of her work and I had to get in touch with her. What really is striking is how truly passionate you are about these brands and
Jenny Hval, cont’d from p.125 What’s sexuality’s agency within your work, particularly your investigation of the female face? And, does Innocence Is Kinky and your projects involving The Passion of Joan of Arc, in a way, serve as a reclamation of sexual agency? For me, it’s impossible not to be interested in sexuality because I do work with the voice which is kind of its own sexuality organ. It’s really important, especially in art, to give the listener or the spectator an alternative view of the body because it can be so locked in today’s extremely visual culture. These airbrushed images, this incredible need [today] for selfrepresentation and self-presentation – these things don’t go together with the way our bodies feel. I also don’t think you can separate the way sexuality and emotion come together in music; it’s a very huge part of what we are when we want to be heard. In a recent article for The Guardian, you said that performance can sometime lead artists into a “state of sickness.” How so? I find that being a vocalist makes me a very sensitive person. Singing makes you super aware of your breath; it makes you super aware of all those things that are very tied up to your living organism. There’s a great vulnerability connected to this, [and] also this incredible sense of freedom to explore how the body feels and its emotions. Sometimes on stage, especially if you’re doing a really long concert, you’re exploring these weird areas of your voice. Like, when I hit a note that I’ve never felt like I’ve hit before, it almost feels like something is breaking, or something new kind of locked into place. It’s a necessary form of transgression, I think – the sort of art experience of sickness, your body as a stranger.
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Vikesh Kapoor, cont’d from p.151 as Macklemore to Judy Collins to Built to Spill so he does really interesting arrangements. To have him write to my songs and have them join me for the set was amazing. Everybody was just silent out there in the woods on this night. It was a transcendent moment that had everything to do with all of us; not just me or the festival promoters talking about me. That’s why this should continue to exist and the internet is just not good enough. This is live music and communicating something, touching each other emotionally. It was a moment I won’t forget. What has been another pivotal moment in your music career, since discovering folk music? I feel like with this first album I was still finding my voice. I don’t know if I think about it solely in terms of folk music. I think I will always be singing songs about what is around me, and not necessarily confessional [songs]. My goal is just to have a distinctive and singular voice. The greats who I respect and who inspired me have that. Someone like Leonard Cohen, or Tom Waits, or Angel Olsen. Anyone that has a distinctive and singular voice is something that I’m striving for. I don’t think I’ve quite reached that yet. I’m just getting started. So I hope to get there. And whether that’s through the scope of folk music or not… Folk music, where it comes from, the seeds it was sewn from, will always inform what I’m doing. But maybe I’ll be making loud music a few years from now, and I can’t restrict myself like that as an artist, as a songwriter. I’m really excited about this next batch of songs. The songs that are presented on The Ballad of Willy Robbins, some of those are early songs, which were from a time when I was both really fresh to what I was doing and excited, but maybe a little naïve, too. Just getting started. Is there anything in particular on the album that makes you say that? Something that’s really close to you, versus something you may have been naïve to? The Ballad of Willy Robbins was a song from when I was just getting started, so that was a really fresh time when I just stayed up for a few nights and wrote the song. I just wanted to attempt to write a story song, without necessarily having a chorus, and see if I could make it interesting. Maybe that’s naïve and fresh and exciting all at once. Whereas a song like “I Dreamt Blues” is a really mysterious 166 | ISSUE 3 | VNDL
song to me. I like the direction that that’s going. “Ode to my Hometown,” production wise, is the only song that has an electric guitar and it’s really exciting. Maybe that’s where I’ll be going, I don’t know yet. Are you writing on the road? No, no. I’m not writing. I’m still figuring that out. Usually, I’m travelling alone. I’m wearing too many hats. But I’m taking in images all the time, trying to keep my eyes open. Luckily on this tour I’ve been touring with this band called The Melodic from London, so that’s been nice. But I have a batch of songs ready to go, so I’m excited. Is it narrative based as well or something different? There are a lot of love songs on it, a lot of heartbreak. Janine & The Mixtape, cont’d from p.159 and the calmness that you get [there] puts you in a frame of being able to create. Now that you’ve spilled your soul for the world. And, seeing that the introduction of Janine and the Mixtape has been a veritable success with praise for your debut tracks stretching far and wide, what’s next? A lot of artists – and [it’s] something I’m not a big fan of – create the same kind of thing. So, I’ve been experimenting a lot; just developing my sound further. I want it to be a little bit more playful. I really want to try to write something a little more upbeat at some point, but only if it’s natural. But, it’s still something I’m interested in. The EP was about having some horrible things done. A lot of it is based around sexual abuse and stuff like this; and, a lot of the women I’ve spoken to [say] they feel like they can’t be a strong sexual woman after that. There’s an aspect of it that makes you feel like you have to be the victim forever. But, as a grown woman, some of the things I want to write about touch on love or making love – those are just some types of freedoms that I would like to develop more. The themes that were all there were based around dark things; and, now I kind of wanna break free and be like, ‘Now that you understand this, understand that I can still be whoever I want to be.’
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Showcasing emerging music, fashion, and photography from around the globe