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pg10 Thomas J. Churchill
WENDY STUART KAPLAN
ED BEGLEY JR
Trax Records sensation Christian Jones, also known as Chris Jones—and, yes, the brother of the iconic superstar Grace Jones—has recently unveiled his new album, “Strong 2.” An artist in his own right, Jones is a singer-songwriter, model, producer, fashion connoisseur, DJ and classically trained pianist.
Do you know with the weather in Jamaica, we didn’t want to work. We had to! Then we flew into WorldPride.
Born in Jamaica, Jones moved to New York at a young age where he began modeling for Wilhelmina Models, which eventually led him to Paris, where he worked with Elite Models for the next six years. He recorded his first single in Israel and was signed to Sony Records in London. He received media promotion and performed in clubs in the New York nightlife scene. A world traveler now living in Europe, but frequently winding up in New York, Jones has proven himself a special force to be reckoned with.
I have never seen any performer change costumes for each and every song like Grace did. Well, you have to remember, she’s a fashionista. My mother taught us how to sew when we were children, because my mother was a designer. She was a wedding designer. In our basement we had seven or eight sewing machines. I would come home from work and make a pair of pants and wear them out the same night.
Super sincere, honest and humble, Jones is also the face and ambassador for the Winners Foundation, an organization supporting children and adults with handicaps in Belgrade, Serbia. He and his family have also been performing benefits and donating to amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, for years as well. Jones’ single “Strong” is mixed by Eric Kupper with promotions by Brad Lebeau (promolift.com). I spoke to Jones which is always a joy as he happens to be one of the sweetest men on the planet. JONES ARRIVING AT AED FILM STUDIOS IN BELGIUM Chris, I’ve never seen your sister in concert, and I’ve got to say it’s one of the best performances I’ve ever experienced. OMG, I’m glad to hear that. She would love to hear that. It’s too bad that she had a broken toe, and she was really in pain. But anyway, I just finished some backing vocals on her new album, [recorded] at Alligator Head. Alligator Head is owned by Francesca von Habsburg, whose husband was the prime minister or the head of Vienna. We recorded in Jamaica with Ivor Quest, who produced “Hurricane,” and he’s a genius. From him I met Princess Diana’s brother Charles. I did a lot of backing vocals with Grace, but, you know, we used to sing together in church, so we worked it!
Do you have fun? Yes. I was working the costumes.
So, you’re almost a royal, you have an album out and you’re a fashion designer. I was the first black guy to work with Elizabeth Arden in the 80s. I was a hair cutter. So that was very interesting. Let’s talk about your new album. It’s really interesting, my album, because there is one particular song that is 30 years old that I produced with Mark Kamins called “I Wonder Why.” This track was under my bed for the last 30 years. It actually inspired me to really go out and start finishing my work. I had this track that was done so many years ago and never released, and unfortunately Mark is dead, and I thought that I would do this track as a tribute to him. We did that one in New York, and that is one of my favorites. It’s about wondering why things happen, and that we always have to get down to get up. It’s about the balance of life. I wrote “Strong” because of the music industry. “Strong” is about young artists who are struggling to make it, and they don’t really realize how difficult it is. You have this dream, and you just have to keep going. The strength that you have to have and the drive—it’s so important. That’s a great theme. The thing about it is, this industry is not as easy as people think. Some people look at me as if they are jealous; however, it took years. I am not an overnight success. Even if you have siblings who are famous, I think it’s even harder to become successful.
I agree with you. It had to be tough for you especially. I think you need a lot of determination. I think that a man is intimidated by an aggressive woman. I think that Grace has that side, my father’s side. Actually, I think all Jamaican women are dominant. Most women, like you and Rachel (Screamin’ Rachael from Trax Records), I mean, in a man’s world it’s really difficult unless you really have the know-how to intimidate them. One thing I admire about you both is your determination. You and Rachael never give up. I realize, like you, Rachael is a businesswoman, and she’s focused. She sees exactly where you are going, and I think this is a power in itself. To survive, especially in the business, you have to get respect. It’s not even about fame; it’s about respect. Respect, that’s true. People say to me, “You’re famous.” I’m not famous; I’m just like everybody else. I have to eat, shit and die. So it’s all the bullshit that goes with it and the people that mislead you. Some people get stoned one night and promise you the world, and the next day they forget, and you can’t even reach them. For years I was misled. I was a model and DJ in Paris for many years, and I worked with Elite. I was one of the first male models to start with them. Paris gave me my fashion image and my image of music and a certain culture. That’s why I live in Europe. I love New York as well. It took me nine years to put this album together, and it went through many changes. I went to Holland and Serbia for the saxophonist, and it’s a multicultural album with musicians from all over the world. I did it naturally. I have a musical background, which is classical. I played piano and keyboard, and I just don’t believe in music that is done on computer. I used to play the organ in my dad’s church. Because I have a musical background, I just don’t get on and do beats. I don’t really like it. I put together all my arrangements with Martin Ryan, and I put together
all the harmonies. I used to direct the choir at age 11 in my dad’s church. My mother was also a musician as well. So you are an entire musical family. Yeah. My mother especially. I have a lot of support from people like Terry Topcat and Allison Russell. I have an amazing team, including my road manager and friend Vahe Sinsinian, and he speaks six languages as well. So now I’m going to tell you an amazing story about Racheal from Trax Records. I came to New York, and I did not have a record deal. After the album was finished, with my backing vocal singers Ebby and Anita, who are very important to me, I came to New York to launch the record, and I did not have a record label. So Racheal called me. We were just going to put it up on iTunes and forget about a label. Then Racheal called me and asked me if I wanted to be on her label. I hadn’t seen Racheal in years. We used to perform together in the 80s. I didn’t know that she owned one of the most prestigious labels in the world. Everyone now thinks I am very lucky to be on that label. At first I backed off, because everybody promises the same things. But I knew Racheal for a long time, and something told me to do it as I know she has a good heart. I didn’t think she would steer me wrong. She insisted that she wanted my music, and finally I agreed. In three weeks I had the contract and the publishing. Everything was done while I was in New York. How lucky is that!? The record is now listed, and it’s getting a lot of coverage in Europe. DJs are playing it to death. It’s a slow starter, this record, but the quality of it I think is what’s going to make it happen. It’s the quality of the music and the quality of the songs and the quality of the people on the album. The video was just as incredible. We are planning to sell hard copies of the video in Europe. My site is chrisjonesmusic.uk.
Who is Michael Troy Collection? “ Michael Troy Collection 1965 ” is a world-renowned, award-winning indie designer of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear. His namesake company, established in 2017, currently produces a range of products under his signature Michael Troy Collection 1965, Michael Troy Collection 1965 lis not just a name it’s a brand. These products will include accessories, footwear, watches, jewelry, women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, wearable technology, eyewear and a full line of fragrance products.directly or through licensing partners, in some of the most prestigious cities in the world, The company prides itself on hiring and retaining diverse talent and providing an inclusive work environment for all, while celebrating global events and
cultures that reflect the diversity, experiences and perspectives of people around the world. Behind this burgeoning empire stands a singular designer with an innate sense of glamour and an unfailing eye for timeless chic. Michael Troy Collection 1965 with in the fashion industry is striving to bring the news designs from its designers, Michael Troy Collection 1965 has been honored for his philanthropy, and earned the respect and affection of millions. Wholly dedicated to a vision of style that is as sophisticated as it is indulgent, as iconic as it is modern, he has created an enduring luxury lifestyle empire with a global reach. #MichaelTroyCollection1965
Beauty Stylist Turned Iconic Music Artist Sometimes your original passion and career are not always your final destination. Such is the case for Actress, Model, Singer, Songwriter, and Performer April Doyle who originally launched her career with success in both the acting and modeling industries. April Doyle’s unique vision and talent as a makeup artist/ stylist garnered significant recognition in the beauty industry and set her on the path to work with some of most influential names in the business! April’s music career took the forefront with one of Southern California’s most highly successful show bands, Haute Chile Productions (HCP). This ensemble quickly became one of the top requests at highend, corporate celebrity, socialite, and notable charity events, having performed for everyone from Hugh Hefner to the Presidential election, as well as numerous international performances.
April‘s successful project “The Velvet Room” is her brain child along with world-renown producer Kevin Flournoy—an experience of smooth, upper scale, original music complimented by iconic, esoteric classics definitely appealing to a wide audience, all delivered with an intimate concert level of performance. The best part of this epic “classic-neo-jazz-funk” experience is that performers run the gamut of legendary names to the hottest names of today—either way, audiences are definitely pleasantly surprised.
If you could pick two musical parents, who would you choose and why? Mel Torme &amp; Sarah Vaughn
XS10 caught up with April to learn all about her journey, insider perspective within the music industry, and what next projects are to come! Check it out in this revealing interview below.
Do you believe music can change the world? To a large degree, yes because when people are listening to music at a concert or in their car, at church, or at the grocery store, it fundamentally changes people and their moods. It can make you feel happy, hopeful, wishful, etc.
The music industry is tough... why pick that as a career? If you have been bitten by the music bug, you HAVE to do it or at least try! What’s the best advice ever given to you and why? Just keep doing it, no matter how hard it get sometimes, keep going. Growing up, who did you listen to on the radio? Rick James, Prince, Teena Marie, and any funk or R&B. What made you decide that music was your destiny? I was focused on acting, but I joined a band and it took off. So I was in the middle of music and have been there ever since. What is the best thing about playing live? The interaction with the audience and seeing them enjoying what you are doing is very satisfying. If you could choose any others to perform with in life who would it be? Raphael Saadiq, James Taylor, Earth Wind and Fire, and Will Downing. Are you a songwriter, and if so, what inspires your writing? Yes!! I become inspired by many things, different emotions primarily such as love, unrequited love, sadness, hope, etc.
What bridges are you glad you burned? Getting on the other side of relationships that weren’t good for me and survived! What was your biggest musical challenge thus far, and how did you overcome it? Marketing….letting people know you are alive.
When you are not doing music, what do you like to do? Spend time with my dogs. Are you working on any new projects at the moment? Yes! I just wrote a Christmas tune that is NOT corny as well as some other tunes for my “April and the Velvet Room” project. We will be at the Vibrato club in Bel Air on March 8, 2020. Do you have any advice for future Popstars? LEARN about your craft. Study theory, vocals, and learn how to basically play piano or guitar so you can be more productive with your song writing. Learn strong writing skills, styles, and trends are all VITAL. WEBSITE: https://www.aprilandthevelvetroom.com INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/aprilandthevelvetroom/ FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/APRILandTheVelvetRoom/?modal=admin_todo_tour TWITTER: https://twitter.com/aprilandtvr YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfCSvRlNLeeMjA13Jh-lT3Q?view_as=subscriber
Thomas J. Churchill
THOMAS J CHURCHILL INTERVIEW By Edmund Barker As an avid director, writer, and actor going back to his youth in New York, Thomas J. Churchill has a lot of experience in the indie and b-movie worlds that makes for great stories. I talked with him about his new thriller Nation’s Fire, the simple joys of monster makeup, and a possible ghost encounter on set. Edmund Barker: Can you tell us a bit more about your newest film, Nation’s Fire, and what it’s about? Thomas J Churchill: Yes. Nation’s Fire is coming out on video-on-demand platforms and on DVD…it’s an action-thriller biker film about family, strength, and honor. It stars Bruce Dern, Chuck Liddell, Lou Ferrigno Jr., Gil Bellows, and Krista Grotte Saxon, just to name a few. It’s... It’s a biker flick with heart, and there’s a lot of moving pieces in the film…basically, the movie is about family, and what one will do to protect their own, pretty much. It deals with a lot of family values and strengths, it also pretty much determines that family doesn’t have to be blood in order to have one’s back. EB: Now in your newest movie you got to work with some big actors like Bruce Dern. Can you tell me what it was like contacting him or being on set with him? TJC: Well, Bruce Dern is an icon—you know, twotime Academy Award nominee. I had an amazing time working with him, I got to learn a lot from him. Got to learn an Old Hollywood-101 crash course, pretty much. What’s funny is that Bruce Dern kind of loosely plays a character based on my dad. My dad wasn’t a biker, but a lot of things my dad did, Bruce Dern based [the character] on…Bruce Dern was one of my dad’s favorite actors, and I wanted to do something to keep my dad’s memory alive. I lost my father five years ago, right before I started to make Checkpoint. So, Bruce, when he read the script, said “This guy sounds like he’s someone really, really dear to you, is he based on a real person?” I said, “Yes.” He asked who, and I said, “My father.” He said, “I’m gonna make your father proud,” and you know, he made me proud with how he portrayed the character, it was great.
EB: I can see from your IMDB that you’ve been making movies since you were a teenager with a VHS camera. What are some filmmakers or movie houses that really inspired you back in your DIY period? TJC: I was born and raised in New York. We used to go to movies all the time, my father would take me when my mom was cooking or when I came back from school, to get away…we always went to the theater. I blame my father, who was not in this business, for introducing me at an early age to the world of motion pictures. My father was a big film buff, he taught me who actors were and kind of broke it down for me. If I saw an actor in costume, he’d tell me who that was. For example, back in the day there was the show BJ and the Bear, with Claude Atkins who was Sheriff Lobo. Now, I was a big Planet of the Apes fan, and I learned he played one of the gorillas in those movies. I found that fascinating, as a child, finding out that it’s all pretend; it’s this guy playing this person doing that with makeup…it made me wanna know more about that art form, what’s behind the screen. But it wasn’t until Star Wars premiered—A New Hope, can’t even say the original anymore because there’s nine of them—when that came out, that was the movie where I wanted to be there. I wanted to know everything: how do you get into that world? How do people react? It reminds me that a few years after Darth Vader, Conan the Barbarian came out, and my father said “that guy right there was Darth Vader,” and he’s talking about James Earl Jones. So, at a certain age I always like to learn little things about movies, little tidbits. When I realized that actors weren’t just people up on the screen, once again I was with my father, at the Central Park Zoo, and he pointed out actor Fred Williamson. “See that guy over there? He’s a movie star.” Now, again, this was before internet, before cable, before all that stuff. So I beelined over to Fred Williamson to tell him I wanted to be an actor, and I realized these people are not just on the screen, but in real life. That made me really want to know more about this world. EB: When did you first think you might be interested in acting as well as film-making? I saw you had a small part in the Steve Buscemi-directed Trees Lounge from 1996.
TJC: I was just an extra in that…years before, I was up for a [child] part in the movie The Champ, in the top five in New York. And they cast Jon Voight and I didn’t look like him, and they ended up getting Rick Schroeder to be in the movie. But still, when I was sever years old I was picked out of hundreds to be the top five, so the acting bug was always there. I popped up in music videos and background roles like Trees Lounge. When I was seventeen, I convinced my dad to buy me a video camera, as the story goes. I basically wanted to shoot a movie showcasing my talents as an actor, and I ended up falling in love with the entire process of moviemaking. Actually, it was a bit before that—a friend of mine in junior high school was doing something called The New York Junior Showcase Company, and it was about actors and models. I ended up auditioning to get in there with him, and I was picked as an actor. We did stage plays and everything, and I loved the vibe of how the audience worked off of you and you worked off of the audience’s energy. I wrote my first story as a play, which was called The Warmaster, and that got a standing ovation. So a year later I decided to make that play into a feature, and convinced dad to get me a video camera. All I wanted to do was play the character, but I fell in love with the [filmmaking] process. I fell in love with putting it together, getting the locations, getting the other actors…creating the world. Then I started making films where I could act in them. I’ve also been in other people’s movies, which made me feel validated…I had a role in a movie called Samurai Cop 2, and in Syndicate Smasher. Then the producers of the movie The Rat Pack, which I went to direct, wrote a role for me. They wanted me to play this one character, and I said, “Nah, I’m just here to direct the film.” And they were like, “You HAVE to play this role.” They wrote a role called Antonio, and I created his whole look and style. I worked opposite C. Thomas Howell as an actor, and as a director it was one of the first films I directed myself in.
good. Joe worked me with first on Nation’s Fire, where he did all the basic effects in the film, and then we went on to do a few other projects. We did a movie that him and I and Steven Escobar produced, called Xenophobia, which was a sci-fi film—it was great working with aliens and stuff. We did a movie called Big Freakin’ Rat, where there’s a giant rat, a bit like Friday the 13 th meets Jaws with rats. We did a vampire movie called Amityville Harvest with creatures…creatures, when done right, play a big part in a movie. I’ve done a lot of horror thrillers, but I’ve also done a lot of action thrillers. But creatures do have a big part when doing a creature feature.
EB: What are some of the challenges that come with making something like a horror film with creature fx on an indie budget?
TJC: Well, if you got a hundred million dollars, you could have a hundred million mistakes or a hundred million blessings. If you have the right team in place and someone gives you a hundred million dollars, of course, it’d look really, really good. What would I do with it? I’d probably do maybe two films, and work with some A-list talent I’ve grown up watching. Or, I’d do something that’s just phenomenal—look at James Wan. Ten years ago, James Wan was pitching the concept for Saw as an indie guy out of Australia. Then he
TJC: Well, when you have some great special effects artists, you can. For the last few projects I’ve been working with Joe Castro, and he’s a brilliant magician in the form of special effects. I like pushing people to do things better, and working with Joe, we both push each other to create something disturbing or
EB: I see you were also on SyFy’s Monster Man reality show when they made a werewolf. What was that like? TJC: At the time, we were gonna make a film called Hollow Point, and I was working with another effects house, SOTA. They were doing a reality show about their special effects house, and I ended up pitching a concept I wanted them to work on for a werewolf movie. The SyFy Network was there shooting, and I didn’t know what they were doing—they asked me if I wanted to come on camera and do the same thing, pitch my concept. So I was supposed to do it for one day, and it ended up being four or five days. Out of the six episodes, that one, episode two, was the most watched. Unfortunately, the series didn’t get enough attention for it to come back, and I think the team didn’t wanna do another season. So, that was my first experience as a reality TV star! Didn’t think I would ever do that, but it was fun; it was different. It was a fun experience, I had a good time doing it. EB: Pie-in-the-sky question time. Someone suddenly gives you one hundred million dollars to shoot the movie of your dreams, what would it look like?
started to make it, and did a movie called Dead Silence that nobody liked, so he came back and did Insidious, which was big. Then he gets the opportunity to do a big studio movie like The Fast and the Furious 7. They give him a hundred million dollars to do it, and his main star gets killed making the movie, and now he’s gotta come up with a way to fix it and create a beloved character—how do you tell that story? And he did it, he fixed it, and it made like a billion dollars. And he went on to do a couple more horror movies like The Conjuring 1 and 2, and then he got Aquaman, which cost two hundred million. So you know, “piein-the-sky” as you say, but sometimes that pie really comes into fruition…one thing I hope never happens to me is for my team to not challenge me. “Tom, why do you want to do this, why do you want to do that?” I never want anybody to just yes me, because it’s something they think I wanna hear. I’m a big Star Wars fan to a degree, and people get mad when I say I’m not a big prequel fan, but I learned to respect the prequels because they’re still telling their story. But somewhere when Lucas was doing Episodes I to III, someone should’ve said “that’s a terrible idea” to certain things, but everyone was a yes man. Then you’ve got the controversy with Episode VIII, with older fans who hated it and others who loved it. Looking at its lore, it’s conflicting—if you look at it from the perspective of people who loved the Original Trilogy, Episode VIII broke every rule of that. But if you look at it from the perspective of the people who watched the Prequels, and follow the canon throughout, it’s a different story, and it’s fine. EB: Your website says you’re putting out your first novel this year, which interested me as a fellow horror writer. Can you tell us about the book? It’s gonna be towards the end of the year…there’s a couple of things I was asked to write, and it’s kinda like a zombie book, and it’s probably gonna be towards the last quarter of the year. EB: I’ll keep an eye out for it. One last question— what’s the strangest on-set story from a movie you’ve been involved with? TJC: I guess there’s different levels of strange, but to keep with the horror theme…we just finished shooting a movie that’s in post, The Amityville Harvest, and the location we used was haunted. We went in hearing
it was haunted, and whether people believe it or not, we found out it was. One of my scripties had this camera always by her side, and she never lost a camera…but it disappeared from her side, and she has been using the same camera for twenty years. We heard kids laughing and clapping in the background at times, and one of my production designers was standing outside this door with frosted red glass, and behind it you could see images without really seeing what it was. So he’s standing outside on the porch talking to people, and he sees something move behind the red window. So he went to open the front door and found this tall guy, about six foot, in a white suit. And he smiled at him, so my production designer smiled back and closed the door. Then he was looking around to see who that was, because it was a location that was locked off with no way in it. It was private property— in fact, a museum area we rented with no one around. The doors were all locked and closed. So he calls me, I get off from lunch and go over to him, and he says he thinks he saw a ghost. And as we were talking we hear the front door close and people walk, but the front door was already closed. Once inside the house we heard more kids laughing and clapping. Then the lady who owns the house comes in and says “Can you describe what that person looks like?” We immediately describe, and she had a smile on her face and says that it’s Mister Harold, and everyone sees him, since it used to be his house. THAT creeped me out! … at the same house, they kept telling us there was this one locked room they didn’t want anybody in, it was closed at all times. So we were filming on the second floor, and there was what sounded like a door opening, but no one paid attention. Then we turn around and see the door that was supposed to be locked was now open. So I walked over to that and said out loud, “We’re just making a movie here, we don’t mean any harm, you have a lovely, lovely house!” I closed the door again and walked away, and it freaked me out. The atmosphere was very thick. You’ll be able to see the house when The Amityville Harvest comes out! http://www.thomaschurchillproductions.com/
Interview: Sherry Nelson -Supermodel In The Making By Eileen Shapiro Her flawless beauty captures all that meet her at first glance. Within 3 minutes of meeting Sherry her even more beautiful persona holds your heart hostage forever more. Having placed in a Maxim Modeling Contest itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to understand why Sherry will ultimately become a household name and inspiration for all women. Growing up in a Canadian town with only 80 people and working as a lumber trader it seems hard to believe she is as worldly as she seems. Still with a flair of innocence Sherry Nelson charms those she comes in contact with.
I exchanged questions and answers with Sherry so that I might share some insight of this incredible lady with the rest of the planet. What inspired you to enter the Maxim Model Contest? Maxim magazine is such an elite magazine, that when I was told they were accepting photos from all over the world I thought it would be something fun to do. I never imagined I would continue in the contest as long as I did among so many beautiful women. How has your life changed since you won? Prior to the contest I did lumber sales for my family’s lumber manufacturing company in Canada. Participating in the Maxim contest took my career into a whole other direction I never imagined I would be apart of. Ronnie James of Hot Rock TV was one of the first high profile people to promote me during the contest, and since then we will be collaborating on some projects for his Global Galaxy Network. I will also be working with David Zucker on some projects for his Myhemptv.com. And last week I was walking on the red carpet for the fabulous fashion designer Sue Wong’s Oscar Night Academy Gala. Why didn’t you get into modeling sooner? I find it difficult to comprehend that people would view me as a model. What is a lumber trader? It is similar to a stock trader or equity trader except you are buying and selling a commodity ~ lumber. Who were you influenced by growing up as compared to now? My father is my greatest influence then and now. He is the most principled, forward thinking person who inspires me to do the best that I can. Knowing what you know now would you have changed anything in your life? I am happy with what I have accomplished in my life so far. Coming from a small community really grounds a person and helps to build a nice foundation to pursue other avenues ~ I was able to go to University, build a great career in lumber sales, and all along the way build great relationships internationally that will be with me forever. What advice would you have given baby Sherry?
I would advise her to be honest and good, and take on as many challenges you can to keep excitement and energy burning inside you so you can experience as much as you can in this short life. Where do you see yourself in five years? I still want to continue doing new things, I really enjoy meeting and talking with people and learning their story. And I hope to see and experience as much as I can in this fantastic country. Are you going to continue pursuing your modeling career? Yes! What was it like growing up in a town with only 80 residents ? In a small community everyone knows each other so it almost becomes like family. With that, if anyone is struggling, people pull together to help. It’s a beautiful thing to see and experience and adds to that sense of security we all need from time to time. What is the best advice your parents ever gave you? Always be honest, work hard, and be kind. What is your favorite type of fashion? I love fashion that brings out the essence of the female body, chic and glamorous. Something that a woman would wear that would make her feel confident. If you could be on the cover of any magazine in the world what would it be and why? I would love to be on the cover of any magazine willing to have me and hopefully the image would motivate a consumer to want that particular edition. Do you have an idol? Jennifer Lopez for sure! She is a strong, determined woman who works very hard. Her recent half time show was fantastic and set the bar for how to energize a crowd at the Super Bowl. What advice would you I’ve to someone wishing to begin a career in modeling? You do not need to expose yourself too much to be sexy, leave something to the imagination.
Ed Begley Jr
At what age did you start your acting career? I was 17 years old. It was 1967 and I had not yet turned 18 and I had a paper route. I left the studio and I went to work on my paper route with my makeup still on hoping people would recognize me. What was your first acting gig? It was called My Three Sons. I had a one-day part on My Three Sons in 1967 and it was quite a day. What was the experience like for you? It was something I had dreamt of for years. My father was an actor and I wanted to do what my father did and I finally got one days worth of work and I was over the moon. Now you’re a vet in the entertainment industry? Yeah. I have been working for 53 years in my chosen field. To be working 50 plus years in any industry… used cars sales, storm door industry, entertainment…I think you are quite fortunate. What shows do you currently appear in? I’m on a show called Bless This Mess on ABC. I am also recurring on Young Sheldon on CBS and I occasionally recur on Modern Family also on ABC. I also recur on Arrested Development and on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Oh, and I recur on Better Call Saul. You support the use of clean renewable fuels. What’s it like driving an electric car? I got my first electric car in 1970. They were very primitive back then. It was basically a golf cart with a windshield wiper and a horn. They’ve come a long way. Now I drive a Tesla and it is the best car I have ever driven in my life. How well does your electric car work? How many miles can it go before it needs a recharge? My new electric car has a range of 350 miles so I can literally drive cross-country the way I used to in an alternative fuel vehicle. What do you think is the most effective role for celebrities in environmental issues? I think the number one role for celebrities is to be well informed to get good, credible information and sound science and then pres-
ent that when you have theopportunity. Many people can’t afford things like solar panels. What energy saving devices or lifestyle changes do you recommend for them? I recommend that they do just what I did in 1970 when I started as a broke and struggling actor. So… energy saving light bulbs, an energy saving thermostat, weather stripping, bike riding, public transportation. Do the things you can afford and they really do make a difference. What is it like living in a solar home, getting your electricity from the sun and being independent from the utility companies? There is a great deal of security you feel in making your own electricity. I’ve had solar electric running my house and charging my car since 1990 and if the power ever goes out, I have back up power because of that solar. Do you feel it’s more eco-conscious to be a vegetarian? I believe it is better for the environment to eat lower in the food chain. It takes a lot more land and water and power to produce a pound of beef than it does a pound of broccoli or lentils so I am a vegetarian, a vegan and I think that is a very good way to eat for yourself and the environment. Why are you a vegetarian/vegan? I saw some slaughterhouse films back in the late 60s and that changed my way of thinking and I became a vegetarian in 1970. It is also a lot healthier for me. So it’s all about efficiency and conserving resources. Why do you use non- toxic, biodegradable cleaning supplies? How well do they work? They work very well. Back in 1970, I used baking soda and vinegar and water to do a lot of cleaning but now we have come a long ways. I have a line of non-toxic cleaning products called Begley’s Earth Responsible Products that do the job very well. You can buy them on Amazon. I am very proud of this line of products. Your line sounds great. You mentioned vinegar? I never knew that. That’s interesting? Yes, to clean glass you can mix water and vinegar ogether and it will clean glass as
well as Windex. The only drawback for some people is the vinegar smell. Baking soda cleans almost as well as Bon Ami. Baking soda is not quite as good so I will sometimes do a little pre-cleaning with baking soda and then do follow up cleaning with a little Bon Ami if need be. I assume you also use recycled paper product and recycled toilet paper too? I do. All my paper products, bathroom tissue, facial tissue and paper towels are made from 100% post consumer waste. Why do you think everyone must recycle? When you think about the concept of throwing it away, where is “away”? Away may not be in my backyard but it may be ultimately in someone’s backyard so you have to get to the point of where you are not throwing anything away like nature has been doing for thousands of years. Nature does not have any waste. It recycles all and that should be our goal too. Can you describe a little bit what your solar powered home looks like? Thanks to my wife, Rachelle it is a beautiful Mediterranean designed home by William Hefner. What’s in the walls is as every bit attractive as what’s outside and inside the home and that is all the technology that makes the home all the more energy efficient. I have 9 kilowatts of solar on the roof that you can’t see. I have 12inch thick walls with incredible insulation. I have LED lightning throughout the house. I have a gray water system and a rainwater tank so it’s a very very green home in every way but a lot of it you can’t see. Do you also use solar thermal collectors for your domestic hot water heating needs? I do. I have two nice 4X10 foot solar hot water panels on the roof in addition to the solar electric and those 4X10 panels give me plenty of hot water during summer and winter for showers, laundry and other purposes. So, within the life of a solar energy system, it will pay for itself with money saved. Can you explain
the concept of life cycle costing and how it has been working for you with all these different modifications that you’ve made? Yes. Most people look at a home and look at the cost as being labor and materialsbut that is like looking at an iceberg and only viewing the part that is above the water line. The larger part of the iceberg is below the water line and that is the cost of running the home over decades. In the case of this home that I built, it will be around for hundreds of years because it is made of steel. So, that overall cost will be very low because you must look at all of your costs. What do people need to know about alternative, non-polluting energy sources like solar, wind and hydro? People need to know that sustainable energy has a long history at this point. Wind power has been doing a great job for hundreds of years in one form or another. The Dutch have used it effectively. People throughout the west have used it to pump water for decades and decades and now wind turbines that provide electric power have been around since the 80s. I’ve owned a wind turbine since 1985 and it works very well. Do you foresee the infrastructure changing? Yes, I think there will be more energy efficient infrastructure as we move forward. There will be more electric vehicle charging. There will be more office space that is energy efficient to keep our buildings cooler as we see more climate change. I definitely think we will see more infrastructure change in the future. Do you foresee a day when eco aware homeowners and businesses will become commonplace and this will change? I think what people now view as doing for extra credit in terms of all of this green stuff, all of this stuff that is being put into practice today will be very common as we move forward. I think it is the wave of the future. Is it inevitable that a change will have to take place? Yes. We are already changing in dramatic ways. It is inevitable. What does being an environmentalist mean to you on philosophical or a spiritual level?
It’s about respecting your mother. The Earth has given us all of this beauty that we enjoy, plants, animals, various species. How can we disrespect that? We have been given stewardship and with that we have been given great responsibility. I think we should all live more simply so others many simply live. Do you think if our country and economy moved in the direction of becoming a more green economy, that it would cause an economic renaissance? I think there is a tremendous savings in doing things to protect the environment. If we gave robust subsidies to making our homes and offices more energy efficient, then took that money that we saved from those efforts and put them into more wind and more solar, then we could completely eliminate our need for foreign oil which costs about 250 billion dollars a year so I think it makes good economic sense to do these energy efficient things for our economy and country. What is holding us back from moving in that direction? People are resistant to change. I think there are a lot of people that are involved with older technology but eventually they will see a need to change. If change were not inevitable, in 2020 our lives would be dictated by buggy-whip manufacturers. That is not the case. Things have changed and we must embrace change at some point and go in the direction that leads to greater security and further efficiency. What do you think of lawns? I think lawns are left over from an earlier age when one was so wealthy that they could leave a portion of their property fallow and water it and play croquet on it but I don’t think it is a good use for our space and our water and our plant nutrients at this point. There are meadows out there in the hills and I don’t have any problem with native grass that grows without any additional water. The idea of watering and putting weed killer on a lawn is archaic to me. What is your opinion on organic and sustainable foods? I think organic sustainable food is not only good for the environment and other plant and animal species,
but it is good for us. It is healthier to ingest and it is simply cheaper to garden at home organically and you don’t have to waste money on petro chemical fertilizers and weed killers. If you have an organic garden, you make your own fertilizer by composting your old yard waste and table scraps. It is just more cost efficient and sustainable to garden organically. You ride a hybrid electric bike. How does that work? Today’s hybrid electric bikes have a wide range of speed so if you want to go fast to run your errands and to keep up with traffic, the electric assist can help you keep moving at a nice clip. But if you want to have no assist at all you can turn it down or turn it off and get a good workout. There are many setting on today’s bikes so you can contour it to what you need at any time. With all the people who use gyms to work out, can equipment in gyms be retrofitted to generate electricity? Nearly every form of equipment in a gym can be turned into circular motion that could run a generator. They have different pneumatic lift exercise equipment and there is a way to turn motion, kinetic energy into electrical energy. We just need to modify our gyms to do that. There is certainly enough activity going on all day and all night in a gym to at the very least, run the electric lights and power for the office equipment. Are you satisfied with the Obama administrations environmental and energy policies so far? Great things happened for the environment in the 8 years that Barack Obama was president. A great deal was done to protect our wildlife, the many plant and animal species that reside within our borders. A great deal was done to promote alternative energy, electric vehicles and so on. I think we can make a good case that
it all helped us economically and we can make a good case for that again. When Dick Chaney was VP of the US a few years back, he held secret talks with oil companies to help set energy policy. If you were at that meeting, what would you have told them? I would have said that yes…capitalism is a great idea. Let’s try it! Let’s not give these subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Let’s let them stand on their own and see how well they do in this era of cheap solar and
cheap wind. You want to talk about not giving subsidies to solar and wind? Fine. Eliminate them all. Take them away from oil and gas companies as well and let’s see how everybody does. I think we’d do very well. Anything else you want to tell us? Yes, please follow me on social media… Instagram: @ed_begley_jr Twitter: @edbegleyjr
Wendy Stuart Kaplan
Interview: Wendy Stuart Kaplan “She’s The Last Model Standing” One of the most all together, successful in every facet of life, people on the planet, Wendy Stuart is a light. A film producer, director and host, an LGBTQ advocate and supporter, a super Model, author, party promoter, performer, and generally kind and spirited person, Wendy followers her passions and makes her dreams a reality. Aside from being beautiful and talented she is a true professional. As a member of The Explorers Club she has done documentaries in Africa, worked with animals, provided platforms for the gay community and has scoured the world for a good story. A truly unique person Wendy continues to make her presence known through New York City’s Nightlife and throughout the world.
What First inspired you to do all the things you do? There are some things a person is born knowing. I remember being six years old and people would ask what do you want to be when you grow up? I would answer two things. I want to be a model and I want to go to Africa to help people and animals. How could I have known this? My mother had been a model and I idolized her and the glamour she represented. And my favorite show as a kid was “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” hosted by Jim Fowler who was a member of The Explorers Club of which I’m a member. Sometimes we are just born knowing things. How did you get interested in making documentaries? I lived in Nigeria with the Yoruba people when I was 20 in a village called Ife. It was such an inspiration to me, the uniqueness of the place. The people. The traditions. I spent years after thinking about it. About 10 years ago I was approached by a production company who had seen some of my short travel clips on YouTube They started producing these short pieces under Model With A Mission. I ended up forming a production company with my husband to produce our own pieces. I realized I could go anywhere and tell a story. Of course that first film was Fragile Beauty shot on location in Ethiopia about three tribes, their beauty, their traditions, and their disappearing way of life. What inspired your book? It occurred to me that my life wasn’t typical as was often pointed out to me by other people. My “normal” was other people’s crazy. “She’s The Last Model Standing” is actually a metaphor. “Standing” is what a model does a lot when posing for pictures, being on a runway, or in my case, working as a “fit” model who stands wearing a garment, and critiques it as “this armhole fits like a straight-jacket”. But the title also means I’ve survived! I’m standing! I’ve worked every crazy kind of modeling job, and in film some really loony tunes roles. I’ve been a guest on shows like Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera, just to name a few. I’ve played everything from a religious fanatic to a female wrestler, to a pet owner who’s can’t handle the love affair between her rabbit and her cockatoo.
From good experiences to “MeToo” before anyone named it that. I’ve experienced it all and wanted to share it all in my book which is seriously inspirational. Growing up who were you most influenced by? My mother was very glamorous. She had been fifth runner up in the Miss America pageant 1935 as Miss Connecticut. I remember her sitting in front of her dressing table in the Bronx lining her lips or wearing her fur coat to go food shopping at The Associated Supermarket. I don’t wear fur but anyone who knows me will tell you I live for lip liner! You are an advocate and supporter of the LGBTQ Community. How did that come about? For me there was never a “come about” I was always there. Best friends as a child and in high school came out as gay and I was always involved in early lgbt politics, before AIDS before “Q” or any letter. Coming to NYC after college everyone I was drawn to was gay. This is still the case for the most part. I have the most incredible friends in this community. AIDS turned me into a major activist. I lost three address books of friends. It was an unacceptable epidemic. I was part of an organization called POWARS. Pet Owners With AIDS Resource Service. We took care of the pets of anyone who had HIV or AIDS. Fast forward to now where I am one of the original members of TRIVERSITY. We service the Tri state area with programs, referrals, and support for the LGBTQ Community. A lot of my focus now is on the needs of people who transition after 50. They face challenges that someone in there 20’s might not face, both physically and emotionally. I love hosting fundraisers and events that bring the LGBTQ community together with allies included. Out of the documentaries that you did which is the closest to your heart? Because the films I make are done from an empathetic point of view they all live in my heart. I’m a very emotional person with no filter. I can break down crying during interviews. And I do. Because not having a filter lets me bring out the truth in my subjects. Which Documentary was the most challenging and why?
Growing up who were you most influenced by? My mother was very glamorous. She had been fifth runner up in the Miss America pageant 1935 as Miss Connecticut. I remember her sitting in front of her dressing table in the Bronx lining her lips or wearing her fur coat to go food shopping at The Associated Supermarket. I don’t wear fur but anyone who knows me will tell you I live for lip liner! You are an advocate and supporter of the LGBTQ Community. How did that come about? For me there was never a “come about” I was always there. Best friends as a child and in high school came out as gay and I was always involved in early lgbt politics, before AIDS before “Q” or any letter. Coming to NYC after college everyone I was drawn to was gay. This is still the case for the most part. I have the most incredible friends in this community. AIDS turned me into a major activist. I lost three address books of friends. It was an unacceptable epidemic. I was part of an organization called POWARS. Pet Owners With AIDS Resource Service. We took care of the pets of anyone who had HIV or AIDS. Fast forward to now where I am one of the original members of TRIVERSITY. We service the Tri state area with programs, referrals, and support for the LGBTQ Community. A lot of my focus now is on the needs of people who transition after 50. They face challenges that someone in there 20’s might not face, both physically and emotionally. I love hosting fundraisers and events that bring the LGBTQ community together with allies included. Out of the documentaries that you did which is the closest to your heart? Because the films I make are done from an empathetic point of view they all live in my heart. I’m a very emotional person with no filter. I can break down crying during interviews. And I do. Because not having a filter lets me bring out the truth in my subjects. Which Documentary was the most challenging and why? “Whisperers and Witnesses: Primate Rescue in Cameroon” was the most challenging as we told the story of two women 10 hours apart in the Bush that had created rescue centers for primates. Ape Action Africa has over 325primates, including chimpanzees and a variety of monkeys. Sanaga Yong 10 hours from the
capital has around 60 chimpanzees. When you think about the fact that all of these primates were babies whose mothers were killed for bushmeat or for “medicinal” beliefs it is a tragic story. Besides the emotional impact I experienced the lack of a toilet at one of the camps and a female mosquito that was resistant to malaria medicine, not to mention poisonous snakes and being so far away from anywhere I couldn’t even get bars in my satellite phone, I would lay in bed at night under my mosquito net thinking of all the things in the bush that could kill me. Up until that point I thought I was hardcore. However, if there were an opportunity to do this kind of shoot again I would jump on it. I’m definitely a lot Anthony Bourdain, and a bit Indiana Jones. You also host nightlife parties in New York City. What inspired you to begin doing that? I’ve always been a club girl. It all started for me with Studio 54 and continues through now. I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter dancing on The Sea Tea (The Gay Party Boat) I love dancing! I love clubs! I am a Party Girl! Most recently I hosted my “Birthday Extravaganza, with over 300 people,and I started it off with a reading from my book, then two shows with five different performers per show, mc’d most of it, danced in between and carried on till 3am. Believe me I could have gone till 5! I plan on producing another event, another Extravaganza in a few months. This party was a combination of Studio 54 meets Brooklyn performance scene. It addressed all age groups. It was tremendously successful You are also an actress explain please? I work in every area, film, TV, Theatre, and commercials. You can see a lot of my work on www.wendystuarttv.com. I play a lot of comedic roles however was recently cast as the mother of a kid on drugs. It was very dramatic! I loved the slap scene. I was supposed to pretend slap him but got so into the moment I hit him for real! I told you I’m very emotional. Of course, I apologized, and the director loved that take. How do you do so many things so well? You know I think about that a lot and I’ve come to realize I don’t care about failing. If you remove that fear and trust me that took a very long time to do, then you allow yourself to fail. It removes that live or die factor. I’m very curious. I will try anything. Some
times kicking and screaming but I’ll do it. To succeed at a lot of things you can’t judge yourself and you have to let go how others judge you. What projects are you currently working on? We’ve been working on a documentary on Working Dogs: A Love Story. About the human dog bond and the dog human bond. I wanted to raise awareness on our canine members of society. There are dogs who remind their owners when to take medicine, or calm them if they have PTSD, or search for missing children, or elderly. dogs that are the eyes for the unsighted, dogs that inspire children to improve their reading skills, because the children can read to them without being judged. These are only a few of the situations we explore in this film. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Are you asking about my wish list? I am a person who is in the media. I understand how to use those tools to raise money in the world and draw attention to causes. I would like to host my own show, on camera, podcasts, radio, another book using my experiences, my ability to connect and raise awareness on subjects that are my passion. Why did you join the Explorers Club? Joining the Explorers Club was one of the biggest gifts I’ve given to myself. Their membership consists of people doing extraordinary things in the world in the areas of land, sea, air, and space. Scientists on the forefront of climate change, or conservationists dedicated to finding solutions to poaching. An expert on black holes. Or someone discovering some species of insect for the first time, or a paleontologist attempting to figure out the ice age by uncovering bones from that period. The club is completely fascinating to me. My curiosity knows no bounds and I love attending lectures there which I apply to the tours I give there. Yes I volunteer there to share my experience with people who come to our lectures at the club. I love the fact that they will leave my tour knowing a bit more about the world of exploration and what it means. With about 3400 members in the world it would be incredible to create a show featuring our members. Their backgrounds are fascinating. And so are our speakers. I believe the club will be pivotal in my film projects going forward.
What is it like doing documentaries in Africa where you don’t even know the language? I always have a translator anywhere I work in the world. Weather it is Africa, Asia or the Amazon. But beyond that to make a film the local people have to trust you. One of the best examples I have of this is in our film “Fragile Beauty” about three indigenous groups in the Southern Omo Valley in Ethiopia and how their way of life is now being threatened. In particular the Mursi People had a reputation for being difficult to photograph. For being uncooperative. For being hostile to outsiders. They are the people with the clay plates that hang from their bottom lip. So here’s how that shoot happened. We arranged for each person to get paid prior to arriving and a donation to the village. We do that everywhere we shoot. We make sure every person is compensated. We arrived in their village at 6:45 am. It was hours later till we started filming. The children had to touch me. So did their mothers. We made strong eye contact even though our language was different. They laughed a lot at me. I laughed with them. Everyone found that very funny. So as human beings we can all touch, look in each other’s eyes, and laugh and cry. At the end of the day words don’t matter. You seem to do many things that uplift your spirit of humanity, what do you enjoy doing most from your point of you? I love interviewing people. The more shut down someone is the more I enjoy drawing them out and getting them to talk. People and animals fascinate me. And being able to create an interview where I’m able to put a person at such ease that they trust me is everything to me. And becomes inspirational to anyone watching that interview. I’m always told I have no filter. At the end of the day that is what brings out the truth. And that truth is inspirational isn’t it? The official website for Wendy Stuart Kaplan may be found at https://www.wendystuarttv.com
Describe yourself in 3 word? humorous, loving, reflective
What was the name of your first single? “Don’t Stop” and it went Billboard in Europe
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why? Everything I have done in my life had an impact on me. I am a reflective, spiritual person
Did you go to music school? I studied musical theater for three yearsand my mother taught me to play the piano and music theory. Earlier I played violin
Living in a Buddhist temple, doing Buddhist practice and teaching the monks, going on pilgrimage through India
Describe your sound in 3 words? warmhearted, unique, hypnotizing
Working on cruiseships, visiting new places with new people Acting in an international movie How did you get started in the business? I grew up in a musicians family, both my parents are musicians. I studied musicaltheater, film acting, did masterclasses in L.A. and London. I was modeling since I am 16 for commercials. I worked as a backround dancer for a couple music acts, had my own girl group with 15. I got casted for a kids music show that was produced by universal music and was linked to europes biggest music show “the dome” for which I hosted the backstage interviews with all the international stars. From there I released 4 Songs Europeanwide and wrote my album but itnever got published. I acted in an international cinema movie called “chicken with plums” by an Oscar nominated director Marjan Satrapi and acted in various national soap operas. I have always lived for my job as an actress, singer and Entertainer since early age. What genre of music do you sing? I released Euro Dance music for the billboard charts, but now I sing in Productionshsows and have my own Soloprogram in which I sing everything from Pop to musical to Jazz and Swing. I have a classical training in Bel canto and was raised with classical music. I’ve always wanted to become an opera singer.I do love the variety I have right now in my shows.
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music? In my childhood I was influenced by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Depeche Modeand George Michael. I grew up imitating musicvideos on MTV and creating my own ones. Since I had no real friends as a kid, cause I was overweight, I was always by myself and I believe this is why my path has led me to become a solo artist. There was no question as such for me on why I would want to perform, sing and dance. I can not live without it and it is my nature. It choose me. Until today, music and performance is my cure for anything in this life Being a singer and a model & a actress do you feel that it maybe conflicting some times? Being objectified as a woman is part of showbusiness. The world looks at beautiful women and the industries are using beauty and that energy to make money and control masses Of course there is sexual harassment, abuse and manipulation like in every other business. The good thing we artists have is, that we can make music, art and performance out of every experience. We can process it in ways that are useful to humanity so others can relate to us and find peace and connection to their own inner processes. To me, my body, my voice, my being is all an expression of the Art that I am creating in this world. My Tattoos are part of my expression of Art , such as my voice and a dance performance is or a picture that I draw. Why not play and question the objectifications,
question showbusiness, through movies, Songs and Shows. I love to question societal issues, personal existential questions such as mental health in society, societal norms and structures. And I like doing something good with the fame or awareness that I am receiving through art , like saving the oceans. New artists wear oversized clothes so they don’t get bodyshamed, others provoke even more to show the triviality of the industry. We all know by now, that Sex sells and the masses are being hypnotized by the photoshoped images and musicvideos. This is a part of showbusiness. The question is, what do Mega stars do with their fame, their money? Do they use it in positive or destructive manners. These rolemodels in Popmusic, Moviestars or Djs are influencing the world through their actions and their believe systems on conscious and subconscious levels. Therefore we have more responsibility and should be using it in wise ways that bring peace … But sometimes things need to be shaken up before there can be peace and clarity How long have you been modeling and dancing for? Modeling since I am 16, dancing &singing since I can speak Do you ever get nervous? I always get nervous before a show causeI want to give the audience the most of myself that I got energetically to offer in that moment. Also when I meet someone I really have a crush on. I tend to yawn then a lot. So before a show I am yawning and getting tired. That is why I can not date, cause I’d fall asleep. It is a weird reflex but it seems that my body is calming me down by doing that What is your next goal as in the entertainment industry ? There are plenty of goals that excite me to experience! I would love to be a german guest act in an American or british Musical. I would love to shoot movies again in extraordinary roles. Like a female Joker or superhero
I would love to record new music with anew production team and tour around the world on cruise ships and venues with my show. What can we expect of Julia Goldstein in 2020? I am doing big Production shows for Europes biggest and most popular Resort Chain called Aldiana. We are the leading company for great entertainment coming from Germany in Europe. Also I am currently seeking new producers and labels to collab for a new concept. What is you favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke? I usually never do Karaoke but on a ship I had to host one event with Karaoke. I made my own funny version of YMCA. Name one your strengths? Not taking myself too serious anymore I thought my life is a tragedy but I have realized it is a comedy What is your own definition of happiness? Being financially independent, living in my self created world where we all do what we love and live by the beach in the sun, being happily married to a wonderful partner Any loves other than music/producing? Freediving! I did scuba diving in the pastbut Freediving I just learned this January at Freedive Gili in Indonesia. These people are athletes and masters in what they are doing. World record holder passing on his expertise. I love the peaceful, tranquil underwater world, the best hide out to showbiz for me. It wasn’t easy for me but Freediving is definitely something I will pursue Also Surfing and paddleboarding are passions of mine Since I am 100% sober, vegetarian and 100% drugfree, in my freetimes I love to connect to water rather than partying. People call me boring How’s a typical day in your life?
I get up, exercise or go swimming in the sea for an hour, practice piano, practice voice for one or two hours, lunch time showrehearsel with the showteam and in the evenings we perform a show. Every day a different one. I am very blessed in my job as I get to play so many different roles with a wide variety of music. I manage the theater It is a perfect job in a beautiful location with great people around me. Idea of a perfect Sunday? Diving in the morning, recording my own music mid day, big Show in the evening with many happy people leaving, spending time with my husband What is your favorite healthy food? There is too many, but I would say Mango And your favorite cheat food? Cake. I hate to say that but in Germany we have great cake and even after so many years I gotta watch this guilty pleasure of mine as I try to cut sugar out of my diet completely What would be a deal breaker on a first date? I do not have the time to date like regular people do, nor am I looking for that. But there a many deal breakers. Probably that is why am single. I guess I am engaged with my microphones and have a lifelong, stable relationship with performing Men these days do not commit anymore or they have multiple girlfriends. I am just not into casual dating, hook up culture. I would want to get married If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why? Just one person? Living it would be ElonMusk, cause I would like to learn form his genius mindset Marylin Monroe due to her charisma andindividuality Do you support any charities? I served 6 months in India for Tibet Charity, teaching English to Tibetan monks and refugees. It was a heartbreaking yet very rewarding time. After that I taught English to monks in a forest temple. Now I
still support some local Tibetan and bhutanesefriends when they are in need. They are great human beings with uncomparablehearts. I would want to organize a pilgrimage one day to the holy places they have shown me. How do you see yourself in 5 years? Acting in international movies, playing musical theater shows internationally, touring with my own show & music and band, sharing a cat with my bhusband, living in a tropical place How would you describe your fashion style? I am an extreme person. I can go from wearing sweat pants in public with messy hair, to being overdressed in glitter dresses or completely black. I am very uncommon but always classy. I guess that is because I am a cancer rising and we tend to be a bit weird in everything we do
Where we can follow you? Facebook: Julia Goldstern Instagram: Juliagoldstern Favorite Movie: Tough one as I am a cineast! I do Love the movies! There are many I could name. I love strange movies, comedies but also Fantasy and Sci Fi. I really do love that women are becoming stronger as film directors, writers, producers in Hollywood. I would say the latest movie I loved was The Joker And one of my all time favorites is Harry Potter and Pulp Fiction If you could Travel anywhere where would your Destination be? There is soo many destinations that are on my bucket list still! But I would say the easter islands, Papua New Guini, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia. Must be great Diving there, beautiful nature and trib
2018 Primetime Emmy nominee for “Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama” for her role in Ctrl Alt Delete. Best known as the first crossover character, the fan-favorite “Pepper” on FX’s hit anthology series, American Horror Story: Asylum & Freak Show, Naomi also appeared as a new character, the Satanist “Samantha Crowe” in the most recent season, Apocalypse. Naomi made #5 of IMDb’s “Top 10 Breakout Stars” after her STAR meter skyrocketed to #1, making her the most searched in its entire 8 million person database. Huffington Post, The Wrap, Screen Rant, and Syfy all ranked Pepper among “The Best AHS Characters Ever;” MTV named her their “#1 Good Guy;” Uproxx, their “#1 Most Tragic;” Geek Insider, a “Top 5 Most Underrated AHS Performer;” and Entertainment Weekly called her being cast in the role “The Best of 2012.” Fans may also recognize her from cameos in the following feature films: Table for Three, The Chair, 1BR, Sky Sharks, Bite Me, Painkillers, The Lurker, Murder RX, The Portal, Preacher Six, An Accidental Zombie (Named Ted)and Fear, Inc. Naomi prides herself on having paved her own, albeit unorthodox path to mainstream success by writing, producing and starring in several autobiographical solo shows. Her latest, Carnival Knowledge: Love, Lust, and other Human Oddities, enjoyed a twice-extended, sold-out run and rave reviews (“Recommended” by LA Weekly). It was then reprised at the world-famous fringe theatre festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, where it received more critical praise (4 stars: The Scotsman, Broadway Baby, Fringe Review) and a transfer to London’s West End (Leicester Square Theatre). It later went on to have a successful run Off-Off Broadway. Naomi’s first solo endeavor, Girl in Argentine Landscape, also received critical acclaim (LA Weekly, “Pick of the Week”) and earned her an LA Weekly Theatre Award nomination for best solo performance. Naomi toured with Girl… to Chicago’s Single File Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, and screened a subtitled video-version on the big screen in Argentina. Her numerous self-penned/produced, comedic shorts have screened at nationwide film festivals and are available for view on comedy sites like FunnyOrDie. Naomi is a theatre graduate of Northwestern University, and a veteran of the legendary Groundlings Sunday Company.
What age did you start your career into the film industry? I shot my first network TV show, which earned me my SAG card, on my 15th birthday. So I guess 15? I’d done some non-union commercials and obviously auditions leading up to that, but 15 is a nice, comingof-age, benchmark-number. So we see you are a writer, how long have you been writing for? I never fancied myself as a “writer.” I mostly just wrote out of necessity— I realized a year or two after moving to Hollywood that I wasn’t being cast in a traditional way, so I cast myself! But first, I needed material to cast myself in. So, I started writing… sketches, which I honed at The Groundlings, and solo shows, which I’ve performed everywhere from LA to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the West End in London, Off-Off Broadway in NY, and colleges around the country. I still don’t really think
of myself as a “writer,” though I definitely am— I have a new solo show about to come out, that I’m really, really excited about! I’ve actually been told, “I’m a better writer than an actor,” which is kind of an under-handed compliment? Their intention was good, and not altogether wrong— I have a distinct voice, which tends to dance delicately between the flowery-poetic and shockingly crude. I’m looking forward to sharing it with people! And what was your first gig? I remember doing some non-union commercials for Colorado Interstate Gas and Hud Homes. Then I did a union commercial for a department store called “Printemps,” which forced me to become Taft-Hartley before I had to go fully-union to shoot “Father Dowling Mysteries.” (Denver, where I’m originally from, was not a union town. So that meant the end of my film career, until I left the nest.)
How was it to work with the actor Tom Bosley? He was lovely. He was actually a distant relative of mine— my great uncle (or someone to that effect) gave him the money to move to Chicago to first pursue acting— though I’m pleased to say I got the part in spite of that. I remember my dad reminding him of this story when he dropped me off on set— so embarrassing for my 15-year old self! What was your favorite episode and why? The one I was in, obviously! “The Passionate Painter Mystery.” How was it to play on the tv show called Sabrina The Teen Age Witch with Melissa Jones Heart? Again, that was so long ago. I played a cheerleader— mostly cast for my big mouth! What was your favorite short film and why? Most of the shorts I’ve done have been of my own creation: Groundlings sketches I thought deserved a life beyond Melrose Avenue, so I immortalized them on YouTube, and in some cases, on to various comedy festivals. My favorite is probably my send-up of Madonna’s video, “Hung Up.” I actually love that Madonna made me take it down! I also love that 15 years later, I can still do all that stuff. If I were to have grandchildren, it’s one of the things I’d show them to prove how hot their grandmother once was! You played two different characters in American Horror Stories over a six year period, what was your favorite episode as you played Pepper and why? The Episode, obviously! That is, “Freak Show “ (season 4), episode 10; entitled “Orphans.” It included my backstory, which was a surprise to even me! It allowed me to really stretch all my dramatic muscles— cry on cue, day in, day out. That’s something I hadn’t had a chance to do till then. And well, the things that make you cry on day 1 aren’t necessarily the same as on the seventh consecutive day of shooting! So it was time of great growth for me as an actor as well. It was beyond thrilling to finally take front and center, when I’d spent so much time leading up to it off in the periphery playing with string or delivering the Fat Lady food. It was not only what I’d been waiting for all season long, but my whole life, really! Also what was your favorite episode even when you
play Samantha Crow in American Horror Stories and why? That was clearly a much smaller part, though it was fun to be directed by Sarah Paulson in the “Return to Murder House” episode. She’s obviously a phenomenal actress, so she knows what kind of direction actors respond to. That was her directorial debut, and my first time back after a while, so there was an exciting, new energy on set. And it was my first time at the Murder House, where it all began. (I remember first being cast, and binge watching that first season, late at night, alone. I was terrified on so many levels!) Out off all the 19 episode you of American Horror Stories who was your favorite male and female actors you have worked with and why? I couldn’t possibly begin to answer that. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch! Every actor brings their own delicious flavor: Angela Bassett is so down-to-earth and lovely, Kathy Bates is like a mother hen— so nurturing and supportive, Jessica Lange just naturally makes everyone stand up a little straighter, and is truly awe-inspiring to watch. Which is my favorite? I couldn’t say— each adds their own unique flavor! Currently you have 3 films in post production, what is the status of them? 1.Sky Shark 2.Short Straw 2.Murder Rx That’s more of a producer-question. I believe “Sky Sharks” is still looking for money to finish (a familiar story for most indie movies), “Short Straw” is at an impasse, waiting for the writer and composer and director to settle their creative differences, and “Murder Rx” is being shopped to networks and distributors as we speak. Frankly, my job is done— once I’m wrapped from set, it’s out of my hands, and I often don’t hear of it again till the premiere! Do you have any ideas on release date and which one was your favorite to act in? Again, no idea— there are too many factors beyond any of our control. My favorite of the three would have to be “Murder Rx.” It was directed by an old college friend of mine, Ken Brisbois; so it was thrilling to finally be doing what we dreamt of doing
Out of the three which one do you feel that allowed you to experience the most character development on? I only worked 1 day on the other 2, so again, “Murder Rx.” I want to say I did a full-week on that— though they were mostly night-shoots, starting between 4-9pm and wrapping between 2-6am— so it felt like much, much longer! I was a complete vampire-zombie by the end. What advice can you give other who want to get into acting? OK, you ready? I have lots to say. #1: Love what you do— seriously look deep inside. I don’t care what people say, it’s a hard business. Unless you LOVE IT, you should do something else. And by “it,” I mean, the work. Not the idea of being rich and famous and walking red carpets. Because that’s only a small part of it, and even then, there are no guarantees. Besides, there are easier ways to do that. Anymore, becoming famous means dating the bachelor, surviving on an island, taking great selfies with perfect duck-lips. Whatever! I didn’t just want to become famous. I wanted to become famous doing work I’m proud of: trying out new characters, transforming into them, and taking the audience on a journey— be it hilarious, moving, or better yet, both! If there’s ANYTHING ELSE in the world you could imagine yourself doing, save yourself and do that instead. I tried to— I found myself at home in foreign lands, learning new languages and lifestyles— and yet, I could never quite shake the acting thing. Which is indicative. #2: Don’t have a Plan B. Again, if there is a Plan B, do that instead. In my case, it was Plan A, or... there wasn’t another option. There was simply nothing else that fired me up in the same way. So despite my years of pitfalls, I had no choice but to stick with it. And sticking with it is kind of the name of the game. #3: Don’t have a deadline (or rather, quit when it stops being fun). People would ask me, “So, how long are you going to give this? When are you going to move back to Denver, settle down, get a real job?” My answer: when it stops being fun. And it did stop being fun. But because I had no Plan B, and Plan A was truly all I loved and wanted in the world, I had no choice but to find the fun again! I did that by taking control and creating. The minute you impose a time-limit, you’re giving yourself an out. You’re implying this may not happen for you, so you’re preparing yourself
with a Plan B, which means you don’t actually love Plan A enough! Love Plan A, don’t have a Plan B, and don’t even think about not making it. Ideas become actions—don’t bring that into being! #4: Stay in the game. I realize I said, “quit when it stops being fun,” and then “stay in the game” basically in the same breath. But truly, have fun first and foremost-- that will keep you in the game! You gotta figure, if you’re not in the game, you’re definitely NOT going to succeed. So even just by showing up, you’re that much more likely to be successful! You think I found success because I’m talented? I’m stubborn! I just wasn’t going away! Deepak Chopra said something along the lines of: “That which you pay attention to flourishes. That which you take attention away from withers.” So if you want something to flourish, give it attention! If you want it to wither, take your attention away. It’s that simple! I don’t think anyone wants their career to wither, and yet, they often don’t give the attention necessary. #5: Don’t wait— create! Gone are the days when a young, aspiring starlet is plucked from a Hollywood barstool, and given a 3-picture deal. Having a fantastic rack, or a rich, important relative certainly never hurt, but it’s not enough. In my case, I didn’t have either. In order to get the opportunities I needed to be seen, I had to create them. Which, in turn, not only allowed to be seen, but fueled my passion, and kept me in the game. If you’re like me, your happiness is, unfortunately, wholly dependent upon keeping creative and feeding your artist’s soul. So, do what you gotta do to be happy! To this day, my solo shows are the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done— mostly because they’re all me! My success with AHS can be credited to hundreds of people, not to mention a massive, studio budget; whereas my one-woman shows are something I wrote, produced, starred in— practically even tore the tickets for— paid for by my meager, Spanish-teaching-side-job at the time. My director, Richard Embardo, may be the baby-daddy, but they’re MY babies. And though I may be known for the few syllables I grunt on TV, my solo shows are the work of which I’m most proud. That’s what we all want, ultimately. Do you have any social media handles and website? @naomiwgrossman / www.naomigrossman.net
REBECCA METZ FROM FX’S BETTER THINGS Q&A... You did theater while growing up in New Jersey. Where did your interest in theater begin? I got into theater because of two things — my parents being in a community chorus that sometimes needed kids in their performances, and watching The Muppet Show. Working in theater looked like so much fun, and then I got a taste of it — and it really was. What are some of your favorite theater roles that you have done and why? I’ve always been a character actor — from a young age, I started playing funny supporting characters rather than lead roles. But my last show in college was a Faydeaux farce called “A Cat Among the Pigeons,” and I played the lead — her name was Lucette Gautier. I had beautiful, handmade costumes, multiple love interests, and nonstop action from the moment we started until the bow. I just remember being in a state of exhausted glee the whole time. I also love developing new work. I’ve been fortunate to do that work with some wonderful LA playwrights — like Sheila Callaghan, Tom Jacobson, Brian Otoño, and a group called Burglars of Hamm. When you’re working on something new, and especially when the playwright is involved, it’s really about discovering together what the script wants to be, and I love that process. Today, so many young actors lack theater experience and they just want to go right into television and film. Do you think that a lack of theater experience limits actors and if so, why? It’s easy for me to say because I started in theater, but I do think actors end up missing something without that experience. There’s nothing to hide behind in theater. There are no second (or third, or ninth) takes. There’s no camera to direct the audience’s attention. Your whole body and brain have to be fully engaged from start to finish, and if something goes wrong it’s up to the actors on stage to find a way to keep going. And there’s nothing like the immediate feedback you get from a live theater audience. No doubt there are wonderful actors who have only worked on camera, but for me there’s no better place to hone your instincts and skills than in theater. Breaking into Hollywood is hard even if you are really talented. Besides talent, what is is responsible for
Rebecca Metz’s success? Two big things. First, training. I studied at Carnegie Mellon, and I use that training every single day. Second, tenacity. I was just never ever going to give up, and I was willing to work my butt off for as long as it took to become a steadily working actor. You have guest starred on so many popular television shows. Is there one role that you did when you realized that you were finally making it as an actress and why did you feel that way? It had to be playing Abby Mays on Nip/Tuck. That was by far the biggest role I’d done at that point. There was real meat to it, both comedy and drama. And I could tell the people working on the show were nervous about finding the right person because the story was so dark but also needed to be funny and charming in its own way. Julian McMahon was so wonderful at putting me at ease and I made a lot of friends on the crew — many of whom I’ve worked with since. And after it aired, people started looking at me differently in the industry. It was a turning point in lots of ways. What actors or actresses that you have either worked with our would love to work with do you admire and respect and why? I’ve gotten to work with so many actors I admire; Margo Martindale, Mary Louise Parker, Jerry Stiller, Melissa McCarthy, Patricia Arquette, Celia Imrie. Working with actors of this caliber is the best way to up your game because their standards are so high it elevates everyone around them. And then there are women like Emmy Rossum and Pam Adlon, who are not only fierce actors but also directors and showrunners, which is massively inspiring and educational. In terms of who I’d love to work with... What actor doesn’t dream of acting with Meryl Streep? How did you land the role on Better Things? Did Pamela Adlon, the creator, writer, producer and star have any responsibility for casting you? It was a pretty straightforward audition — I read for the casting director (and now producer) Felicia Fasano, whom I’d known for a long time and who completely understands Pam’s sensibility. Ultimately, Pam handpicks pretty much every person who works on Better Things, so she definitely had the last word.
Better Things is a female driven cast with many women working behind the scenes which is unusual because most television shows are more male populated. How does so much female energy effect the set and overall feel of the show? You know, in one way it doesn’t make a difference — it’s just a bunch of people who are excellent at their jobs working together, only in our case a lot more of those people than usual happen to be women. But in another way, it’s huge — because as actors, we look out and see women behind the camera, in the sound department, running the ADs, in lighting and grip and places where we usually only see men. And that makes a huge difference in terms of feeling like you belong and there’s room for your voice and your perspective will be represented and respected. And in a matter of minutes, you find yourself amazed that every show isn’t like this because it makes so much more sense than the wild gender imbalance you see on so many other sets. Better Things really captures the imperfection of women, mothers, relationships and all aspects of life. Do you think this imperfection speaks to an honesty that resonates with the audience? Absolutely. When I started reading scripts in season one, it felt like tasting something I hadn’t even realized I’d been craving all my life. Like, these feel like women I actually know. They’re not “aspirational,”
they’re real, multidimensional, not-always-likable human beings like women actually are. And that’s something I think a lot of people were really thirsty for. You play Tressa, a talent manager on Better Things. If Rebecca Metz, the actress met Tressa, what would the two of you have in common besides being identical? Ha. There’s a lot of me in Tressa. We both have dry senses of humor. We’re fiercely loyal but sometimes take things a little too personally. I can definitely imagine seeing Tressa across the room and rolling our eyes at each other when Jeff or somebody says something stupid. (No offense to Jeff ;) If there is one role that you would love to play on film or television, what is it and why? You know, I usually don’t have an answer for that because I like to stay open to whatever is coming. But I’ve realized that I’d love to play a character who lives in the punk/alternative world. That’s something I flirted with in high school and college and is one of those roads I could see myself having taken in a different version of my life. So it would be fun to explore what it would have felt like to follow that path and see where it leads. Follow Rebecca Metz on social media @therebeccametz
What’s the name of your band? Dave Carey (im a solo artist singer songwriter) Please list the name, age, school, and respective instrument of each band member. Im 37, i’m a music performance and production graduate of CSN college of further education, Cork,Ireland. i play Piano, Drums, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences? Light Rock, Pop, Singer Songwriter, influences-The Doors, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Elton John, Coldplay, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Miles Davies, Bix Beiderbecke, Chopin When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together? I’ve been making music since about 8 years old, i’m a self taught musician, i was inspired by classic rock and roll musicians and classical musicians Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations? My Label is Bentley Records NY, yes, IMRO-RAAP What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference? I love to play Roland keyboards, yamaha pianos, Gretsch/Fender guitars, Ludwig Drums, Hofner/ Fender Bass guitars. i chose them because of their quality and excellent sound. i do not play with whatever is available. i chose the instruments i now possess because of their sound superiority, my rule of thumb with a musical instrument is, you buy cheap you get cheap, invest in something that will inspire you! Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? Germany, England, Canada, USA, Australia, Ireland. Favourite venues are hotels, bars, clubs, folk clubs, i dont really have a least favourite venue, unless its a really rowdy one! for now i do not have any up and coming shows.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list? original material, yes, sometimes i do play covers, i have an extensive setlist of over 300 cover songs, so lots of songs to chose from. Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? i write the songs myself, main themes are based on love, loss, experience, death, spiritual, freedom, happiness, discovery. yes i do think they will change overtime, its good to experiment with different song topics. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? it depends, sometimes i might have an idea and record it with my cell phone, other times i might think of a good lyric and build a song around it. the music usually just comes with it. it may take days, or weeks to get it right, but it always comes together in the end What are your rehearsals generally like? ill sit down with my piano, or guitar and work on some music i’ve been writing, other times ill bang out a few oldies to get me in the mood Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? i don’t have a set time, but i do play most days, about 1-2 hrs, its good to give yourself a break every once in a while too How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together? yes, it has, my earlier songs were not structured enough, they were significant holes in them in places and i was always found wanting more, or scratching my head pondering, how could i make them better. The lyrics have definitely changed too, i used to write a lot about love and things like that, but now there is a more broader spectrum highlighting many other issues.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? biggest challenge as a singer songwriter is attracting the right opportunities and people that can open the right doors, it can be difficult in todays industry, overcoming that challenge IS a challenge, but as long as i’m making progressive steps in the right direction that’s positive. I’ve managed to secure a marketing-distribution deal with a major label, and also a publishing sync deal, so step by step in the process, and all the while perfecting my craft as a song writer. What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? ultimate direction is to secure a recording deal or publishing deal with a company i can expand with, to work with different producers and musicians would be great also fame and fortune, mmm seems very vague, i’m happy to make a living from something i love to do, everything else that comes along the way is
a blessing What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands? it sometimes helps to know the people involved, that way its easier to get things out in the open, i found in the early days when i was a drummer, there was no beating about the bush because we all knew each other, on the other hand it can be a poison chalice, because it can cause friends to have creative differences and lose friendships etc. just be sure that you click with those involved, and don’t be afraid to voice your opinions when you need to. How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? yes, my webpage is http://www.davecareymusic. ie, i can also be found https://open.spotify.com/album/6coU2Zi03KQ3t2ui78Sa2y and https://soundcloud.com/davecare Dave Carey Music
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How did u get the name December fades? The name was originally from a short-lived rock trio I played drums in while attending Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. Years later I became a singer-songwriter and when I was ready to release my first single I had to decide on using my name or an artist name. December Fades always resonated with me. What was once just a cool sounding band name, evolved into something deep and meaningful — embodying my sound and style and me as a person and an artist. As December fades into January, our year comes to an end — leaves change color, fall, and wither away. Bare trees become the blank canvas for the flourishing life to come, symbolizing all cycles of life. December Fades represents closing doors to open new ones; growing and starting the next phase — new year, a new light, new beginnings, new hopes and dreams. My darkest songs have an ounce of hope, and my happiest songs still have a drop of the underlying struggle and strife overcome. What is the name of the genre of music you perform? I would consider my produced tracks Alt-pop or alt electro-pop. When I perform solo I often keep it barebones, which I would consider to be singer-songwriter pop. How long have you been in the music industry? As a singer-songwriter, I’ve only been in the industry for about 6 years. However, I’ve been mixing music for 19 years, drumming for 27, and playing and creating music most of my life. What was the name of your first song? My first recorded and released song was “Fight.” It’s still one of my best. People seem to really connect to it. I actually performed “Fight” at a wedding where the bride and groom had choreographed a dance to it. That was a special experience. Do you have a record label? D Fades Records. Are you a member of any music organizations? I’m a BMI member What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e.,
Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? I always use my Sennheiser e945 microphone for live performances and scratch tracks. I’m a big fan of Sennheiser mics — they have a consistently clear and clean sound that really fits my voice. Other than that I’m pretty open to using different brands of instruments. It’s really more about plugins, sample libraries, and software rather than the physical instruments. I’m a Pro Tools user that loves creating with libraries like Kontakt, HeavyOcity, Spitfire Audio, and many more. Some of my favorite plugins are Waves CLA-76, H-delay, Fabfilter EQ3 and L2. SoundToys is an amazing creative suite. Lately I’ve been learning and daydreaming about izotope bundles, which seem to be more focused on mixing and mastering. What made you choose the instruments you have now? For software I’m looking for simplicity, tweakabillity, sound, creativity, and price. **(if you need to edit down cut this section first) ** Well, the Casio Privia PX-150 has weighted keys, speakers, decent sounds, is a great MIDI controller, lightweight and easy to carry around. I’ll probably upgrade to the newer PX-1000 or PX-3000 soon because it’s even more lightweight, compact, can be battery-powered, and the speakers are louder and face the audience. At home I use an Akai MPK88 MIDI controller to track. I’ll never take it out of the house! It’s way too heavy. I bought my guitar when I worked at Guitar Center many moons ago. I purchased an Ibanez Artwood which I later modified with a bone bridge and nut, and an LR Baggs Anthem pickup, which allows you to blend a built-in condenser boundary mic to the piezo pickup. The Tru mic actually helps accentuate my percussive finger-picking style. I use my Epiphone Les Paul for all my electric guitars on the recordings and some live shows. My DW drum kit made it on two songs on the “Is It Love EP.” More and more I enjoy creating my beats with sample libraries and electronic sounds. I love
playing drums, but I find myself overplaying. When I’m in production mode, I’m still playing the drums, only it’s with my fingers on a MIDI controller. I’m listening in a different way. I’m looking for interesting grooves with space and supportive texture instead of a lot of notes that feel good to play.** Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference? For all the instruments it was about cost, feel, and convenience. Except for my DW kit, I really went all out on that one. It was about the brand name and sound. Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? Some of my favorite places to play include Hotel Cafe and Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles, Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, OH. I prefer listening rooms rather than chatty bars. I currently don’t have any shows booked because I’ve been in the studio focusing on writing, recording, and producing. I’ll be releasing some singles in the next… Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list? From my EP, “Fight,” “Crash and Burn,” and “Is It love” often end up in my solo set. I like to mix it up and add new songs, and maybe some older unreleased songs. If I play with my live drummer, Matt Barreca, I usually end up playing “Under My Skin” and “Diamonds Rain” and more of the rockers. Who writes your songs? I wrote and produced all of my released songs. I write the vast majority of my songs, except for a few older collaborations. What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? I write about things that move me, typically extremes — love and heartbreak, euphoria and addiction, struggle and triumph, hope and despair, fear
and bravery. My most recent song is about saving the world. I’m passionate about the environment, animals, and protecting the natural world. We all need to do our part, whether it’s conserving and recycling whenever possible, choosing certain eco brands or businesses, or contributing to sites like GreenPeace, Rainforest Trust, and 8 Billion Trees. By the way, if you’re going to use Amazon, make sure to go to Smile.amazon, because .5% of all your purchases will go to a charity of your choice. It’s small but it adds up. Could you briefly describe the music-making process? Every song begins to form through improvising, stream of consciousness, and exploring without confines. I allow myself to just feel and play without limiting myself with over- thinking and judgement. Once I discover a riff or melodic idea that really tugs at my heartstrings, I expand and refine until I have a solid foundation — a melodic theme that is concise, emotive, and memorable. It’s basically trial and error until I find what best supports the centerpiece, the vocals and melody. Writing songs can take a few days to a few weeks, maybe even months or years to finish. What are your rehearsals generally like? It’s usually just me in my apartment singing through my set for my next show. I start out by doing vocal warm-ups for about 20 minutes, a few throat, neck and back stretches and drinking some hot tea or hot water. When I’m rehearsing with my drummer, Matt, we rehearse in our studio using In-ear monitors, and we play along with production tracks (backing tracks). We run through the entire set, stopping after each song to discuss parts and transitions. Then we run the songs back to back as if we’re on stage. Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? It all depends on whether I’m performing. If it’s an important show, I’ll try to run through my set every day for a week or even two. If it’s a songwriter showcase or songwriters round where I’m only playing 3 songs,
I’ll just run those 3 songs twice a day for about 3 days before the set. If I’m playing with my drummer, Matt, I’ll rehearse a few days a week with him and then run through songs on my own at home on the other days. How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together? It continually evolves just like we do as people. When I start a song, I have no idea what it’s going to turn into. I allow it to take shape and age like a fine wine. A song will continue to change up until I mix and master it. Once I start tracking and focusing on production, I’m listening in a different way which opens up new ideas. Similarly to songwriting, with production I have no idea what it’s going to end up like. I just start putting together sounds and discovering what works; choosing what best supports the song — melody, lyrics, and vocals — instead of distracting from them. As new ideas arrive, I simplify and refine, trimming fat and shaping musical parts to have nice phrasing, space, and thematic hooks. Also, my creativity pushes my musicianship and vice-versa. Everything has an effect on songwriting: drumming, mixing, producing, singing, lyric-writing. It all affects the other. Having the experience and awareness of each element allows me to paint a more cohesive, comprehensive picture. There are just so many moving parts that have to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle or the gears of a fine watch. As I grow and gain knowledge, my music evolves and reflects those changes. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? One of the biggest challenges is having to wear all the hats. Each role is a completely different focus and mindset that requires different sets of skills. Songwriting, booking, promoting, social media, producing, mixing, mastering, and continually trying to improve my craft and skills. I even learned Photoshop and Premiere for editing live clips and ads. It’s a lot of juggling. Luckily my “day job” is actually a night job as a live audio engineer for music venues in Los Angeles. The other big challenge is me. I get in my own way: self-doubt, comparing, distractions, pigeon-holing myself, or small thinking get in the way. I have to redirect my negative thinking into positive, encouraging,
hopeful, and loving thoughts. And I have to remember to think BIG and not limit my potential! What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? I’m totally open to fame and fortune. That kind of success would be amazing. But regardless of my perceived success, music runs through my veins. It’s my love, my passion, my outlet, and my saving grace. I live and breathe music. So whether I’m playing at the Staples Center for a sea of people, or at a coffee shop like Republic of Pie in North Hollywood, I’ll always be creating and performing music till my last breath. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands? Do it yourself. Buy Pro Tools or Logic and start messing around with recording and production. Watch youtube videos. A world of information is at your fingertips. If you’re going to form a band, find people that are as good as you or hopefully better. Don’t settle for mediocrity….ever! Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support? I’d like to acknowledge my mom for never giving up on me and always being encouraging and supportive, and my fans that continue to believe in me and my music. I would also like to give a very special shoutout to Theresa June-Tao for directing/editing/acting/dancing in our award-winning music video “Crash and Burn” https://youtu.be/B74FYhh-cuA Any last words? Your ego is not your amigo. Always follow your heart and listen to gut feelings. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Keep going no matter what! Here are some links I’d like to include: http://decemberfades.com/ https://www.instagram.com/decemberfades/ https://www.facebook.com/decemberfades/ “Crash and Burn” Official Music Video: https://youtu. be/B74FYhh-cuA