Monday, January 1, 2018

Music

Amy Milner

Photo Courtesy Of Amy Milner

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I was born in Bury St Edmunds, a really lovely market town in Suffolk, UK. I grew up not far away in the middle of the countryside, but Bury was always my local town and I went to school in and around there. I spent a while in London studying, but I’m currently back out in the sticks, commuting to London as and when I need to. I like being in the city, but I’m undoubtedly happiest in the midst of mud, trees and fields.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR YOUR HOMETOWN?
Just being able to walk out of the gate, turn right, then left, then there I am in the middle of verdant pastureland. Most of the time it feels like I have the whole place to myself, and it’s perfect for clearing the head, mulling things over, listening to great music, or simply getting a dose of fresh air to the lungs.

WHAT WERE YOUR INFANT ASPIRATIONS?
My grandparents gifted me their piano when I was five. Cue: hour upon hour of little hands darting over the keys pretending to be Beethoven reincarnate. I was exposed to a lot of classical music from day zero - I loved it and wanted to get involved as early as I can remember. The only other potential vocation vying for top spot back then was being an archaeologist. Forget cartoons, I was the biggest fan of Time Team on Channel 4 (- how did I have friends?!), and after being inspired by the antics of Tony Robinson; could often be found digging up great holes in the garden. Sorry Mum and Dad...

WHAT HAS BEEN A PIVOTAL MOMENT?
Meeting and getting to work with Adam Royal at Aesop. I don’t think anything to do with this industry will ever be straight forward. Regarding my own musical journey, he always helps me get down to what’s intrinsically important, what it is I’m really about, what it is I’m really trying to do. And after talking to him I always feel like I can see more clearly, and am generally more happy and optimistic. It’s so easy to get bogged down with ambition and trying to get somewhere, so easy to listen to the wrong people and feel like failure is tugging at your heels, that you forget how much you’ve achieved and are achieving. If you work hard enough at something in a meaningful and consistent manner you discover patience reaps reward; there’s only one way for things to go, and that is up.

WHY MUSIC?
I guess I started to cover this with my infant aspirations. I was lucky enough that my mum booked me in for music lessons from a really early age. I started piano at five, clarinet at seven, flute and singing a little later down the line. I was never the greatest at practising what I was supposed to between lessons, but I loved making things up and playing when I was playing the things I wanted to. A lot of music was also played around the house and in the car - notably I knew all the words to the Eagles, Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac and The Commodores. The thing I remember most from road trips down to the South of France for family summer holidays is the car karaoke! When it came to performing in all the millions of school concerts, open mics and similar, the feeling of my own pieces being well-received was such a rush and felt like the best thing ever. People would come up to me afterwards and say I was going to make a career of it, and my heart was most definitely already set.

HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR SOUND?
I write with the piano, my songs start out in that acoustic form and consequently can always be stripped back to that. When it comes to production it’s a matter of building on that foundation, injecting more life and taking the song to where I want it to go. Sometimes that’ll be leaving things relatively untouched, sometimes I’ll end up with layer upon layer upon layer. I love going all out with the epicness and drama and reeling things in again. I’ve worked with many different people using many different methods, I don’t like to close any doors on how I go about the process - I’m really interested in creating music that has an original twist on it, things that make it identifiable as my music - but so far my favourite way to go about producing a song is moving away from the computer and working with real instruments. According to digital platforms the result is Indie Pop. Who knows.

WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE THROUGH YOUR LYRICS?
I write about things that impact me emotionally. I write about myself, I write about things happening to other people, things I’ve heard about which have affected me. I don’t usually consider what I’m going to write a song about too much, my writing is by far most successful when I’m acting on impulse. If I’m really upset about something, I’ll head for the piano. If I’m completely exasperated, I’ll head for the piano. If a line pops into my head, I’ll head for the piano and see if I can take the idea anywhere. If I’m really happy about something, well, I don’t tend to run to the piano so often.... typical?! All that’s not to say I won’t write a song that is initially more considered or for a particular purpose; I have done, and I still will, it’s just not my go-to habit. So far. But I really do take solace in my songwriting. My songs help me feel better by voicing inner thoughts and feelings so that I can step back and assess them better, and I always really hope that other people can identify with or take comfort in them too.

IS THERE A SONG OR MUSICAL PASSAGE THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU EMOTIONALLY?
Better answer: The Pearl Fishers’ Duet from Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers - preferably the Pavarotti version. Oh beauty and bliss by the bucket load. Also Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” - piercing, perfect simplicity. The I-hate-to-admit-it-but-truthful answer: “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional - turn that song on and I’m a wreck. School days, young love, when the big wide world didn’t stretch much further than 30 mins from the school gates...

WHAT OR WHO HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
Ha, there’s an easy answer to this one too... Brandon Flowers of The Killers. I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to say, but they were the first band I went to see play live, and I just remember it being the most euphoric experience. All roads in life suddenly pointed towards the specific ambition of playing up on that stage myself. I really think his songwriting is incredible though; songs with mainstream appeal containing truly interesting lyrics - which following that gig I would spend many an hour endeavouring to equal, and a hymnal feel which I have often found myself gravitating towards with my own writing.

WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
As described above - ideally something will prompt me to rush to the piano where I will arrive, inspiration brimming. Preferably my own piano, preferably alone. Sometimes I write a lot in one go, sometimes I piece the song together gradually over a longer period of time, seeing how various sections sit with me and settle before finalising ideas. When it comes to the production stage, for the best results it’s vital that I’m comfortable in my surroundings and with the people I’m working with - recently I’ve had a really enjoyable and successful time working with Aquilo and Raffertie here in London and Jens Kuross in Los Angeles (sidenote: L.A. equals also fantastic food following day’s work. Hard to beat. Hard. To. Beat.).

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Pretty independent of any current trend. I’ll always make an effort, but I’m perpetually trying to pass off casual and comfortable clothes as smart and presentable - I’ve definitely benefitted from the rise of athleisure and sports chic. I like outfits in which I’m ready to run for the train, dash to Costa for a last dose of caffeine before they close, then stick on a pair of wellies over so I can go for a walk after a day in London. My true loves are my All Saints leather jacket my mum bought me when I turned 21 - I just know we’re in this life together forever that jacket and I, and a vermillion Whistles sweater saying “Vacation” across the front, which makes me feel like I'm on rec even while I'm working, and is the cosiest of all cosy jumpers. I’m wary of anybody who doesn’t adore a cosy jumper.

HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE? 
I think my taste is predominantly of a temperate nature. I love art, design, exploring culture and discovering new places, I love to create things that are aesthetically pleasing, but I’m not particularly brave about it, and shy away from anything too outlandish. I’ve been raised a country-lover, I tend to reel from things that seem to go against nature.

HOW DO YOU GET STAGE READY, ANY BEAUTY RITUALS YOU SWEAR BY?
I’m not much of a cosmetics connoisseur - I’m rather unexciting in that respect and I tend to keep things quite natural. I think it’s important to feel good though, I’ll make sure I take the time to try and look nice. Having said that, I’m now thinking about all the times I’ve had last minute dashes to get ready and drive to London in the height of summer in a car with no air con for a show. Oh well - life’s a merry mayhem.

HOW DO YOU SPEND A DAY OFF?
My ideal day off would probably involve a satisfying long walk or hike before refuelling with a hearty meal at the pub. I also love to cook when I can take my time about it (growing up in a large family I’m used to hurried food prep for the masses). Also catching up on music I’ve not had the chance to listen to yet, playing - because piano time really is one of my favourite kinds of time, and I love to read as well.

HOW DO YOU RETURN TO CENTER?
By walking to the middle of the biggest field near my house. It’s on top of a hill, you can see for miles around and it’s generally deserted. The feeling of being little-me in the midst of massive Earth encourages unimportant worries to melt away, let’s me just “be” for a small while, and helps me refocus. Alternatively a chat with Aesop Adam, for reasons stated above.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Symbol Of A Movement


Photographed By Karen Burgos

And we threw caution to the wind and stood up for what's right. Let's keep the collective conscious and revolution going in 2018.

#DiversityMatters #KeepItOn #MeToo #PreserveThePlanet #StandUp4HumanRights 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Megan Thee Stallion

Photo Courtesy Of Megan Thee Stallion

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED AND WHERE DO YOU PRESENTLY LIVE?
Houston,Texas.

WHAT ARE THE TOP THINGS ABOUT YOUR TOWN?
Houston has such an amazing hip hop culture and the city is so big! I love the fact that Houston just allows you to run into so many opportunities.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES AND WHAT WERE YOUR INFANT ASPIRATIONS?
Some of my best childhood memories would definitely have been when I would be looking for something to get into and my mom would yell, "Go write a book or something!" So I would go in my room and write and illustrate an entire little comic book. I eventually just started doing them for fun.

WHAT HAS BEEN A SEMINAL EXPERIENCE?
The first time I ever heard a UGK (Underground Kingz) song my mind was absolutely blown. Their music definitely has a strong influence on my style today.

WHY MUSIC?
Music just comes naturally to me. I'm sure my mom (who used to be a rapper) plays a big part in my decision to rap. But I honestly just love creating music.

FIRST SONG EVER SUNG OR BARS LAID TO A BEAT?
The first song I ever spit over was "Sho'Nuff " by 8Ball and MJG.

HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR SOUND?
I would classify my sound as raw, unfiltered, real, a little raunchy.

WHO OR WHAT HAS INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST ARTISTICALLY?
Pimp C, definitely.

WHO ARE THE HIP HOP PIONEERS IN YOUR OPINION?
In my opinion UGK, Biggie and NWA.

ARE THERE A SET OF MUSIC OR A MELODY THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU?
I love "Summer Breeze" by the Isley Brothers! As soon as I hear it come on I start dancing.

WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FROM CONCEPT TO CREATION?
Honestly, it's never the same all the time. I could see or hear something I think is cool through out the day and I just get inspired to write.

DO YOU PURSUE ANY SPECIFIC THEMES THROUGH YOUR LYRICS?
I just want to be as real and raw as possible.

HOW DO YOU GET STAGE READY?
I do so many face masks before going out and doing anything in public. I pretty much work out four days a week anyway, even if it's just running.

HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER DOMAINS?
I'm starting to try to express my vibe or my aesthetic more in the way I dress. Sometimes I dress pretty sexy just to represent the fact that I'm not scared of my sexy and I'm comfortable with my body.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE STUDIO?
Most likely I'm drawing, writing, at school, or hanging out with my girls.

HOW DO YOU STAY WOKE?
I stay humble, not getting big headed or "Holly wood". I still hang out and talk to the same people I grew up with. I'm not scared to be in the mix.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Music

Friday, December 22, 2017

Deno Driz

Photo Courtesy Of Deno Driz

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Well I was actually born in East London, but moved to the South London when I was around six years old to a place called West Norwood.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR YOUR HOMETOWN?
I like living in London because there’s a lot of people to network with and opportunities. I'ts a major city where everything’s at.

WHAT WERE YOUR INFANT ASPIRATIONS?
When I was younger, I knew I always wanted to do something in front of the camera, acting or music.

WHAT HAS BEEN A PIVOTAL MOMENT?
A highlight moment of my journey so far is having our first own headline show be sold out! And being the youngest to perform at Wireless and V Festival and my first acting role what you will see early next year with Idris Elba.

WHY MUSIC?
I've always loved music. My big sister and aunt were also singers, so I think it must run in the family.

HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR SOUND?
My sound is a mix of Afro swing and soul music.What I'm trying to do is bring back the old classic sound of music, sort of like the Motown days.

WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE THROUGH YOUR LYRICS?
'Cause I'm only 15, just letting people know I'm trying to make it through life and my own experiences.

IS THERE A SONG OR MUSICAL PASSAGE THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU EMOTIONALLY?
I'm not really emotional in music like that because I'm only 15! But I know that time is soon to come.

WHAT OR WHO HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran and the King Michael Jackson. Natural gifted artists for sure. This is the path I want to take.

WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
My creative process is finding a good beat, and just getting on with my day with the beat playing in my ear. That's how I get a natural vibe to perform on the song.

HOW DO YOU GET STAGE READY?
Red Bull, lots of Haribo sweets, and family and friends around me.

HOW DOES ONE MAINTAIN THE PERFECT HIGH TOP FADE OR COIFFED AFRO?
It’s natural! You just gotta get some water so the tops curl, and get your barber to nice you on the sides and the shape up.

HOW DOES YOU AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?
I just wear and do what I like to be honest.

HOW DO YOU SPEND A DAY OFF?
A day off I always try to go to the studio, that's where I'm most comfortable relaxing.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Music

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

February James

Photo Courtesy Of February James

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED AND WHERE TO DO YOU PRESENTLY LIVE?
I was born in Raleigh North Carolina. Raised in Washington D.C. Currently live in Los Angeles, California.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT CITY OR HOMETOWN?
The best thing about my hometown is the (Go-Go) music, the Mumbo Sauce and My People. I have such a great sense of pride in saying I’m from Washington D.C., It’s a magic I just can’t explain. The things I really have grown to appreciate about living in Los Angeles, hands down, the weather, I can drive all over the state of California to experience a different scenic flow and creatively I feel at my best here.

WHAT WERE YOUR ASPIRATIONS GROWING UP?
From the age of five until maybe middle school I aspired to be a scientist. I had all the books and tools relating to science, observation and discovery. With age and more life experience that desire turned into wanting to attain a career in psychology. I’ve always had this very inquisitive nature to know and try to understand the inner workings things. I really enjoy moments that are filled with learning about things in their natural state and unearthing moments.

WHAT HAS BEEN A PIVOTAL MOMENT?
In what? Life? My career?

WHY ART?
Art has always been a part of my environment, my culture and my family. I was always drawing as a kid. While I was working as a make-up artist my sketchbook was apart of my kit. It wasn't until after I ended my career in make-up, the birth of my son and losing my mother, did I really pay attention to art's place in my life. That's a part of lessening the noise or the static of life. With all of these endings and newness it became the cradle of comfort for me.

WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND TRAINING?
I'm an artist. I did not have any formal training to call myself an artist. I did not go to any technical school for artistry. I did not enroll, start or partially complete any graduate or post graduate programs for art. I did not attend schools that had any comprehensive art classes. That said, I don't think schools can teach one how to "Become an artist"... I think we just exist. To be at this place in my career I can clearly see how vital some training/schooling would’ve been and can be to me as an artist. All of us are artist in some way. I'm starting to question that term "Self-taught". What does that really mean? Since i came out of the womb I've been learning from my environment. Since I've held a pen or a pencil I've been creating. My art is effected and a direct reflection of my life and times that I experience. We are all born with this innate ability to create. If you never, ever picked up a colored pencil but you can always find your keys, your place is spotless and your sofa cushions are always fluffed… you create order. There’s a gift there. It’s just learning how to allow this talent you have to spill outside of your immediate controlled environment.

WHAT'S FUNDAMENTAL TO THE WORK OF AN ARTIST?
That’s a tough one. Everyone is different, therefore their needs are different. What’s fundamental to my process is discernment, discipline and focus. Pushing against fear is the biggest thing that pops into my head. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being unknown. Fear of not having a clue sometimes. You have to push against a lot of fear. There will be peaks and valleys and places where what’s been familiar becomes vacant and unknown. You have to push against that. Learn to use that, everything is source material.

WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE?
I don’t pursue any themes.

WHAT'S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AND PREFERRED MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?
My creative process involves a lot of music and cinema. A lot of biopics and documentaries. Things vibrant with emotion. A good range of emotion. The medium depends on my mood honestly. Some days I am really longing for powered graphite, other days watercolor.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ON A DAY TO DAY?
Everything I encounter.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
Think about working again... I like to laugh a lot. I hang out with my kid and try to pretend I’m the same age as him - try to rediscover some things.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I live in California.