All posts in the friday cinco

the friday cinco 16 – nostalghia [the new big thing]

as mentioned in the previous interview, the minute Ciscandra and Roy – known to tens of thousands as Nostalghia – walked in the door of my friend’s apartment in West Los Angeles, I knew they were put here to be one of those bright, bright stars that keep us up at night thinking about everything.

in fact, I even called it -‘The Next Big Thing’, I believe I wrote.

and 15 months later, they are.

so amazing have they both become [were always amazing, but somehow became even more so], that I’m cutting this South America trip short by a few weeks, just so I can see them perform on March 16th. if you’re anywhere in/around the area, it’s a show not to be missed.

in fact, I’m going to structure this interview a bit out of order so you can see what I’m talking about… this – their debut video. and oh my god, will it give you chills.

as soon as I saw this, I begged them for another interview:

[start]

right – before we get to anything else, let’s talk about what went on with your mother earlier on in the year [it was your mother, correct? if father, 1000 apologies, I just remember seeing the post]…

Ciscandra: Mother/Father, same thing. But for technicalities sake, Father. He’s been battling Lymphoma most of my life, quite a trooper. He is currently and OFFICIALLY Cancer free, which is incredibly remarkable and exciting for my family. Experimental drugs, I suppose sometimes they come through, but really, I think it’s based in mindset. He stays positive, it doesn’t weigh him down. I love him for that, I admire it.

did this affect any of your writing, music, art? his battle with it… his beating it?

Ciscandra: I would assume so. It produced fear. Fear makes me uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable makes me write.

Nostalghia – Drug Lord

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okay, soooooo – how do I put this other than saying: what a fucking year for you all! take us through it… however you want to. the ups the downs, what it’s like to actually make it as a band. I mean, from 200 fans on Facebook to 20,000+? seriously…

Ciscandra: At this point, I’m so tunnel vision, I don’t even know what my definition of “making it” is. I mean, I know what I want, it’s pretty simple and defined, but, my premonition is that, when I get there, I’ll be onto the next. I do try my best to digest the landmarks, feel them/taste them/love them, but, I’ve got too much to do to drink a mimosa. I suppose gin is a better shot to the heart, if you’ve got to shoot. But. Okay. You’ve caught me. YES, I’m fucking excited. AHHHHHH!

Roy: It’s interesting really, it can be difficult sometimes to take in small victories.  It feels most of the time that we have simply kicked the can further down the road.  But when you look back at where it all began, you (and the can) are a long way from the start line.  It’s definitely been an exciting year.  A lot more ups than downs.  But I hadn’t realized that we “made it” until you asked me how it feels… It makes me feel like it’s time to kick the can again.

but, c’mon – this many fans. the live show response. interviews from all over. a play on KCRW… there had to have been a moment when you looked over at each other and said ‘fuck… we’ve really done something here.’

Roy: Well, we are very encouraged by the reactions we have been getting, yes.  And we have toasted a few moments with a glass of wine or two.  But really, we feel like we are just getting started.

let’s talk about your best show this past year – which one would it be?

Ciscandra: The last two. I like to touch the audience, literally, shoulder to shoulder. Sometimes, I stand beside them, and sing with them, at the band. It’s ironic, it feels wholesome, it might even be uncomfortable.

Roy: Probably the last one, or the next one… depending on how you look at it.  We are always trying to make our live shows better and a more engulfing experience.  We have been a lot more selective of locations lately….art galleries, creative spaces and outdoors.  Ciscandra likes to (or more accurately, needs to) feel connected to the crowd.  Places where she can walk into the audience are best.  She will often ask the crowd to come join her on stage.  Those moments are magical.

when you do walk into a crowd, are you giving? or are you getting? I mean… it’s not a James Taylor show where everyone knows the words and stuff. yours is haunting gorgeous poetry, your words are ones we wish we could write, but can’t. Roy’s music is the kind we wish we could play, but are unable… so where’s the connection? do they feel you? do you need them?

Ciscandra: Both. It’s cyclical. A good show understands the benefit of circular energy. If I’m constantly giving to a deadened crowd, my frequency will eventually, naturally drop. All art is a two-way street. The receiver can be a friend, or an enemy, but not a sleeping giant. For Los Angeles, I’m relatively surprised how many attentive eyes we have gotten, as I think most are looking to forget rather than re-member.

Roy: It feels amazing at live shows.  When we are in the studio writing, typically Ciscandra will show me a new song she wrote, then together we will obsessively orchestrate the instrumentation, paying close attention to every detail.  During that process we are in a vacuum, a creative bubble.  All that goes away at live shows.  At really good shows, it feels as if everyone in the room is connected and breathing as one.

Nostalghia – Homeostasis Got My Gun

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your and Roy’s minds work differently than others…. than most, actually. so does suddenly having a shit-ton of people singing along to the words inside your head freak you out a bit? or is it cathartic?

Ciscandra: Solid blend of the two; trance-like AND freaky as shit. Funny Story: A few gigs ago, a rapper (not just any rapper, I’m talkin’ down and dirty, nitty gritty, hoes in different area codes, sort of rapper) was singing the words to “You + I” [authors note – one of my favorites] front row and center, proud and pure. I can’t remember if it made me cry, or drink Tequila.

your audience must be – has to be – one of the most diverse around. who/what did you see at your last show… besides the gangsta?

Ciscandra: It’s hard for me to see specific people when I play. I see an amoeba, a very colorful amoeba.

let’s get back to FB for a second – how important has social media been in your alls ridiculously fast rise?

Roy: What’s great about Facebook is that it is exponential.  If you are doing something that people like, they tell others about you, and they tell others… and you end up connecting with a lot of people that you never could on your own without it.  But like MySpace, it most likely will not be around forever.  So it is important not to come to depend on social media as your only way to connect to your fans.  But, yes.  It has helped a lot.  Dare I say… I Like it…  ehhh, sorry….

take us through a day of Cisandra’s. and then take us through a day of Roy’s.

Ciscandra: Solitude, Coffee, Garlic Capsules, Vegan Cheese, Staring out my window, Thinking, Staring at shampoo bottles, Writing, Weird-ing myself out, Somehow magically cutting myself, Rubbing Alcohol, Piano, Guitar, Playing too hard on the guitar bleeding again, More Rubbing Alcohol, Thinking, Talking to people I don’t know and will never know, More Vegan Cheese, Making faces at myself while staring at my window, Writing, Realizing I don’t have a retirement plan, Not caring that I don’t have a retirement plan, Gin.

Roy: Wake up, Shower, Coffee, Listen to yesterday’s recordings, Delete what sounds bad, Work on what sounds good, Eat some veggies, Back to the recording studio, Then to the rehearsal studio for obsessive programming, Rehearse, Back to the recording studio, Listen to today’s recordings, Delete what sounds bad, Work on what sounds good, Wine.

nice. okay – there’s also a rumor of a few things… 1] Budapest this summer and 2] something about Nostalghia – The Opera?!

Roy: Yes, I heard that rumor too!  heh.  There are talks of a summer-long “cirque” style theater show in Budapest called “Nostalghia”.  We would perform the show in one of the government theaters 5 or 6 nights a week.  …(insert can kick here.)

Ciscandra: *zips mouth* *winks*

oh, now – c’mon. that’s mean. let’s at least theorize here… if – if – there was to be a Nostalghia-val [I’ve patented that, btw – big bucks], what would be going on there? performing art? snake healers? and a ton of elephants?

Ciscandra: Think Salvador Dali, meets Tim Burton, falls in love, procreates, births Alexander Mcqueen, fin. It’s a love story, aren’t they all?

okay – to the video. how in the world did you find a director who could almost see inside your alls heads? this guy seems to have known you both since birth.

Ciscandra: Roy knew John through a shared circle of people. He came to a few shows, was into it, made an offering (no animals were harmed), and within two days we shot it. It was a charm to work with him, a professional without a doubt. We may be collaborating on a second one in the not so distant future, if it’s in the stars.

I can promise that I’m not the only one who wanted to see it go on for another 5 minutes… kudos to John. let’s talk about ‘making the video’, as there’s some pretty funky scenes, outfits, effects…

Roy: I got to rub motor-oil saturated dirt from the parking lot of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse all over me.  Good times!

Ciscandra: Designer Maggie Barry and I collaborated on one outfit, the other of which I put together myself the night before.

you all are always talking about what’s next, evolving, etc. any hints about the next video? ideas? secrets? and if you haven’t already been approached to score a film, that can’t be too far away, can it? one look at your website tells us while we might not know where you’re headed, it’s definitely going somewhere far…

Ciscandra: Truly we haven’t budded any thoughts on the next, yet. I would like to create something in simplicity, less elaborate, a bit more raw. I think it’s good to have a blend of both. Elaborate is great, but if you can’t strip it down to the bare bone, you aren’t working with much. I would assume we would choose a more “precious” song. That’s what they call them. Precious. I never knew I was precious.

Nostalghia – Sue, I Cide With You

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best compliment you’ve gotten in the past few months?

Ciscandra: From my mother. She told me she now accepts that I’ll never properly close the Orange Juice bottle. I believe she even called it “cute.” If you knew how serious she was about closing bottles, you would understand the greatness of this. I suppose I’m going to have to let go of my teenage angst now, I’ll miss you hormonal imbalance.

tell us about this upcoming show. details. location. etc.

Ciscandra: March 16th! I’m excited about this one. We will be transforming the space. The place itself is already incredible though, HM 157 in Los Angeles. They deem it the “Church Of Fashion,” it’s a historical house, pitted, and made into a beautiful venue.

where do you stand on people taking videos, audio at a live show?

Ciscandra: I, personally, don’t like it much. I think it is more important to experience the show, through your own lens. Live video really can’t capture that. And photo snapping takes me out. But, with that said, I would never get angry at an audience member for partaking in the natural progression of technology. I’d just ask that they don’t spent the entire show doing so.

what can people expect to take away from it?

Ciscandra: My soul. Please somebody take it.

let’s talk about your  and Roy’s art – is it music or this that is your escape? do they work together? or are they separate pieces of you?

Ciscandra: I paint when I have nothing to say. There is an art to shutting up.

Roy: I’m actually colorblind.  But for some reason I find myself painting on occasion.  I really have no idea what other people see when they look at my paintings.  But that’s not really the point, is it?

and what can we expect from Nostalghia this year?

Ciscandra: No expectations, you’re going to give me a panic attack. Just hopes. Hope that this album we are working on comes out in 2012. Hope that I am forever indebted to give you all of me, always, raw, ugly, pretty, and real. Hope that a large tour is in place, to share moments with muted audiences, perfect compilations of silence and sound. Hope that I find my keys, so I can safely return to the mother ship. And then take all that hoping, and turn it into belief. Belief is a beautiful thing, you know.

well, kids – I know you’re busy. thanks for taking the time. this time next year [let’s make this a thing, shall we? our once-a-year catch-up]. I have no doubt though that by then, I’ll be speaking to your publicist. but having met you both, drank with you both, followed you both, and listened to your album many, many times on many, many long bus rides around South America, I just want to tell you how proud I am. and how excited I am to see you all next week in LA!

Ciscandra: Thank you! We love you Aric! Oh and, I want to read your book, where can I get a copy?

Roy: Thank you Aric.  Cheers!

you betcha. shall bring a book with me to LA… see you in a week!

[end]

the friday cinco 15 – nostalghia [the next big thing]

Nostalghia

I just Google’d ‘Nostalghia+the+next+big+thing’ and got nothing.

and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

because very, very soon, someone smart is going to realize they’re doing something amazing – and I’ll be the lucky kid who penned that title first.

trust me, though, I’m not the first person to say it – just write it. everyone who hears them and then hears that they’re not already snapped up by a major label says the same thing… they’re going to be big. very, very big.

a few weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles visiting my good friend and writing mentor J.W., and even before we could open a beer to toast his recent success as a screenwriter, he made me sit down in a big comfortable chair.

‘listen to this’ he said, barely whispering the ‘this’, as if he knew something that I didn’t.

he did.

after seeing my reaction, he called them – Ciscandra and Roy – over for drinks and from the moment they walked in, it was easy to see that they were put on this earth to make something amazing.

I begged them for an interview and they accepted – whether or not they’ll approve of my playing the first 5 tracks off of their debut ‘I Am Robot Hear Me Glitch‘ album is a different story. but I couldn’t pick one and I couldn’t pick a favorite.

I apologize… but give me a few minutes and you’ll understand.

Nostalghia – ‘Golden Horse’

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Ciscandra, describe you and Roy:

Both of us are hacks. Like, real and in the flesh, hacks. Except that Roy kicks major ass on drums and percussion. I wasn’t really allowed to pursue music the way I wanted to as a kid. Persian families, though close-nit and lovely in their own way, can be really close minded. Asking them to buy you a guitar, is like telling them the hour of your death. My Uncle didn’t make it easy for me. He was a musician, had drug problems and all that jazz, so my mother thought it was the devil. I saved up lunch money, and bought my first guitar. Then everyone just started dumping their sad instruments on me. Both Roy and I like picking up random shit, and playing the hell out of it. The other night we were jamming with the ropes of a hammock. It was cool.

Nostalghia – ‘MechANICal’

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how about this track ‘MechANICal?’ [above] I heard that Roy made you play it by use of an interesting coaching method.

Well, it was mainly about trespassing; trespassing property. There’s nothing like stepping over caution tape. It’s like Walt Disney creating this wonderful Disneyland of adventure, and then saying  ‘Sorry, not for you!’ I mean, the campus wasn’t a Disneyland, but in a sense, anything hidden is worth learning more about. I was curious, and so I did it, and ended up with a song. One of the first songs I’ve ever written. When I got on campus I took off all the caution tape and made this giant BobDylan/Einstein-esque face with it on the grass, chalked up the sidewalk with the question why. (And really, why?!? I mean, if you really want people staying off campus, tape isn’t the best barrier. Get magical evil dogs or something). And then I ran in the fountain. This is where Mechanical was born. Sitting drenched in this fountain, that I still swear had eels in it. I suppose through rebellion, I felt more in touch with something bigger than myself – freedumb. My mother told me the song was awful, and it almost never saw the light of day. Until Roy put a gun to my head and forced me to play it (true story).
Nostalghia_2

Nostalghia – ‘You and I’

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so… that’s the occasional recording method. how about the writing process?

Oh god. I don’t know if I’d call it a process. More like a psychosis. I write songs in ten minutes. Then I walk up to strangers and ask if they can screw me up a bit more before I hit the studio, just a little jab to the brain. No. But I do write in ten minutes, and insist on recording the basics of it right away. Roy loves recording to a click track. I want to kill them. So for at least five minutes I’m telling him how much I hate click tracks, and he’s saying, ‘Well, we don’t have to use it, it’ll just make it more difficult if we don’t’ and I’m swaying back and forth, until eventually I’m set up to a click track. One day, I’d like to record in the middle of a forest. Or on a long line, that lets me run through the sand, and really feel alive. Right now, we record in Roy’s bathroom, not as exotic, but he does have a nice floral spray.

Nostalghia – ‘I Am Robot’

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it sounds like this – making music – is something you both knew that you were supposed to do:

Roy always wanted this. He spewed from Pennsatucky and straight into the jaws of music. I feel very lucky to have met my musical soul mate at such a young age. I sort of, always innately knew, that music was it for me, I just didn’t believe I was any good. I didn’t know I could sing until about three years ago. I was always a writer, pen to paper all the time. I tricked my parents into buying this karaoke machine (if I was singing other’s songs it was deemed safe), and used it as a tool for hearing my voice back. I slaved for hours in my room, trying to figure out if I had vibe. My mother would walk in and I’d be playing concerts for the world. It was embarrassing. But that silver piece of junk really helped me solidify what music was to me. It boiled in my blood, and when playing, I was a goner, transcendent. It really helped to meet Roy, he was one of the first to truly believe in what was pouring out of me, and now he helps make my spewage into something pretty.

Nostalghia – ‘Love Will Make Us Insane’

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[web exclusive! join the band’s Facebook page and get a free download of this track]

and lastly, seeing how you have a show coming up – your range is something that would make even Jeff Buckley blush, but what about the live gigs? I saw a video of you on YouTube sitting down [below] seemingly bleeding all over the floor with emotion, but then I hear a new track like the gypsy-influenced ‘Love Will Make Me Insane’ [above]… what’s the best mindset/physical expectation of you all performing in the flesh?

Live shows are my favorite, I get to be however I feel, and my capsule doesn’t matter. I am bigger than myself on stage, all my blood rushes to the white of my skin, to my palms, I am you, and the man next to you, and the woman behind you, I am raw, and real, and what everyone feels like doing but only some do. I am dust. Nothing. Just blood, and guts, and truth on a fancy clubs floor. And I’m fucking lucky to have a beautiful band (even strings!) to withhold me. I play a lot of strange instruments, and often I’m pulled to the ground. Not because I’m shy, but because I like how it vibrates when everyone plays, like taking off in a spaceship, and I’m allowed to be alien. Roy is a madman on stage. He plays a bunch of weird shit, and makes it sound incredibly cohesive. He lets me be, and lets me bleed, and lets me breathe, and lets me move, and lets me do whatever the hell I want. And I just cross my fingers, that maybe some people will walk away feeling more…human…alive. I want to wake people up, and I want to tell them that it’s okay to feel.

Nostalghia_3

if you’re anywhere in the L.A. area on February 2nd, do yourself a favor and catch their show at the Paul Gleason Theater.

also! visit their Facebook page for an exclusive listen to ‘Cool for Chaos!’, the first single from their upcoming sophomore album.

the friday cinco 14 – nick jaffe [adventurer]

DSC02464

Nick Jaffe is one of those guys who does the things you’d like to do but probably caved to the plethora of reasons not to.

In one of his adventures, he took a sailboat from the U.K. to Australia. you don’t have to be a sailor to know how long of a trip that is. and if you are a sailor, then you’ll know how much harder of a trip this already hard-sounding trip actually is.

after stumbling upon his homemade videos taken along the way, I selfishly looked him up for questions about my own trip, but after trading a few emails back-and-forth, I realized this his journey and struggles should be shared with more than one person.

you’re known for crossing the Atlantic single-handedly. and filming it. when did you first decide to make this trip?

Ah! I thought it was my charm and wit… Nevertheless, there are worse things to be known for I guess. Sailing across the Atlantic solo with a camera in a small boat is something I completed in 2007, arriving in Barbados from the Canary Islands – A passage of 30 days (I later also crossed the Pacific). I first decided I would like to sail for the purposes of adventure and exploration in around 2004. I was hiking and came across a steel ketch laying at anchor in Wilsons Promontory (a beautiful national park around five or six hours drive from Melbourne). It was seeing that ketch which was circumnavigating Australia that really made me think. Initially I was exposed to the idea of long distance sailing through the efforts of Jesse Martin. I had read his book when it came out, even though I had never sailed, or really had any interest in it – At the time, I read the book simply because we were the same age.

It wasn’t until I was hitch hiking from Stockholm up to Narvik in Norway, that I decided that perhaps I should look back into sailing as a means of transport & adventure. I had a little savings, and it was just enough to put a deposit on my boat (a Contessa 26), and convince the owners to let me pay the rest off over six months, at the risk of losing all my invested money if I were to miss a payment. It was a mad situation, but I pulled it off. At the time, it was 2006, and I was living in Berlin, Germany. I’d moved there on a one-way ticket out of Australia, as my family roots had originally come from the Berlin area, and their history intrigued me (my great-grandfather and great-uncle were prominent German composers & pianists). I found some family remnants in my name (originally, Scharwenka), but to my knowledge I was the second (and now last) living relative. With the purchase of my boat, I then decided upon the destination: Australia.

Suffolk Times Page 2 Top

you mentioned a ‘mad situation’, so be completely honest with us here: did you have enough money for the payments? or did you have to hustle? and have owners been known to, well, track down their boat and come repo it?

Basically the mad situation was a couple of things. Firstly, I had agreed that if any of the monthly installments were missed, they could keep my deposit and any money I’d given them. This was incentive for them to sell the boat to me over six months, at a discounted price. So, there was a ton of pressure, especially towards the end, because if I missed my last payment, they could technically have taken everything I’d given them, and even keep the boat. The last payment was particularly difficult, because the company I was working for at the time was a sketchy operation, at best. It was just a single-man company, which was attempting to build and deliver a piece of software the owner had written himself, without knowing anything about software development. He was taking enormous loans from UK banks to bankroll the venture, however I was the only person developing the software. The owner of the company kept running out of cash, and consequently the little I was actually being paid would take weeks, if not months to be paid on to me… At one point I had absolutely no money, and collected bottles on the streets of Berlin to pay for food. Berlin had a system where you could collect bottles, and put them into a supermarket dispenser, which would print off credit at that supermarket. My invoice was long overdue with my employer, and he had since stopped replying to emails and calls. I had to shut his computer systems down and demand payment. He claimed it was extortion/blackmail, and put lawyers onto me for ‘hijacking his investment’. I didn’t know whether that was possible – I just wanted my last payment so I could pay the boat off and quit this ridiculous job. I returned the computer system, and this action got his attention enough to get another overdraft and pay me. That was the last payment on Constellation, and we were home free.

I then moved to England and got a simple job as a bartender. I got paid regularly.

which was harder – the physical or psychological? one of the only times you seem to come across flustered is when you were sitting in no wind.

The psychological aspect of the trip was definitely the most difficult overall. There were definitely times of total fatigue and frustration that were demanding physically, however, most of the effort and energy was on the psychology of the trip. During the times of sailing, it was the mental effort to stay upbeat, focused, and sailing. In between the passages it was of equal psychology difficulty trying to just keep going – Financially and otherwise. It is a very hard undertaking to do something like this alone, and often one simply loses their ‘mojo’ …Which must be maintained for multiple years in my case because it took that long to actually sail from the UK to Australia.

There were many other times I became angry/flustered/frustrated which did not make it to camera. The problem with filming oneself, is that you only take out the camera and talk to it when things are going well. It is very hard in the middle of a difficult situation to pull the camera out and start talking. Therefore, there were many moments not caught on film. That’s not to say I was angry all of the time, however I’m just mentioning the conditions in which things were actually recorded… If that makes sense.

give us one of those moments not video’d that you would have liked to have been recorded and put in your film.

There were some real moments of total joy. An unexplainable feeling of connectedness and wonderment I guess… Total happiness and comfort in the world. It was the kind of experience one may have during an LSD session. However obviously it wasn’t drug induced. This happened a few times, and in some ways changed my outlook on life entirely. My outlook and feeling of the world became more akin to a strong, quiet, and reflective atheism of sorts. I could really only liken it to a Buddhist outlook on life – A connected wonderment, and incredibly strong realisation of the finite, and genuine realisation of how little and pointless we are in the grand scheme of the universe. It was a great feeling of comfort, to feel ones problems and pettiness wash away with the sea. I think maybe these kinds of spiritual glimpses are the kinds of things people work to experience and feel in continuity. While I can fondly think back to these moments, the humdrum and complexity of modern life quickly takes over, and they are hard to remember in times of difficulty. So, as you can imagine, trying to capture those kinds of things on camera are difficult.

On a more practical level, I experienced tremendous electrical activity in the Bermuda triangle for many days. It was impossible to capture on camera because it was too dark – However, at one point there were swamp fires I think in South Carolina, that were blowing smoke 500nm offshore to where I was located. The sunsets were a very dark, ominous orange unlike I’d ever seen before, with electrical activity slamming across the horizon. I was terrified of being hit.

sleeping patterns – some live by the ‘up every 15 minutes’ rule, others sleep when and for how long they want to… yours?

During the beginning of my solo nigh sailing, I found it very hard to sleep at all. I recall sailing across the coast of France, and needing to do my first real overnight solo sail. I was terrified of hitting something. I refused to leave the cockpit. Thankfully it was only a 24 hour sail, so I could stay up for that period of time. It wasn’t until I was doing 4+ day legs that I could relax a little into sleeping with the boat unattended. The 15minute rule is very dependent on where exactly you are. If you’re sailing across Europort shipping lanes, or across the straits of Gibraltar, obviously it’s fairly important you keep some semblance of a watch. However on multi-week voyages, it’s very hard to maintain this rhythm, and probably pointless. I ran a MerVeille radar detector on my boat, and as I crossed the Atlantic, I would
generally sleep in intervals of up to 2 hours – I also found that I would naturally wake up whenever the boat movements changed. I saw just two ships on my transatlantic. Both of which were picked up by the radar detector before I spotted them visually.

how much money did you spend going from the Canaries to Barbados?

There was nowhere to spend it, ha. But, to answer in regards to provisioning, etc, I spent roughly $500 US dollars on food and water (I carried bottled water because my tanks could not be used).

but a daily budget here. obviously you did some cruising and stuff, so take away the large purchase of the boat, how did it look for you per day? and did you fish? I saw you eating some ramen in one frame. bacially, total money spent from the UK to Australia?

A few dollars a day I would guestimate across the Atlantic. I was really, really low on cash, and ate a TON of ramen. Most of my Atlantic crossing I ate fried potatoes with onions because both of those vegetables lasted well at sea. Eggs also lasted about 2-3 weeks usually. I did fish, but, I had some crisis killing them out there. I became quite superstitious and felt there would be some kind of karmic backlash if I started killing en masse. On my entire voyage, I probably killed no more than five fish. I did crave fresh fish though… desperately. The superstition thing was odd – I just really felt so much of sailing alone has to do with luck – There is nothing you can do about being rundown in the middle of the night, or running into a submerged container, etc…

I honestly couldn’t tell you how much it cost for the entire trip. Via Paypal on my website, people (friends, family, people I’d never met) probably donated around $9000. I had a job at one stage which earned around $8000. So probably about that over two, to two and a half years…

I'm Bound for Cape Horn?

a quick peek to your bio says you’re into cycling… how difficult is that, going from seaman-to-landlubber, having taken your boat now, from Europe to Australia?

This question probably isn’t particularly relevant, because I was not a competitive cyclist. I run an online bicycle store, and have had an interest in fixed gear & track bikes since 2004… I’m the co-founder of some tech stuff here, primarily in the realm of web hosting and cloud computing. I also have some side projects related to boats. I also work with the ocean rower Roz Savage doing her web stuff, and more than likely also some of her onboard tech as she crosses the Indian ocean next year.

film talks?

There is a feature length film being produced right now. Betweenhome has all the details – I am not really part of this venture, it is independent of me, and made by a filmmaker based in Berlin, named Jack Rath. He visited me in many locations to film – Coupled with my footage and his, he is making a full length documentary, which is due out next year.

on top of everything else, Nick has a few planned voyages with SV Harmony, which includes Mexico next year, and
Pitcairn & beyond in 2012. He also co-founded a company that does such things as environmentally friendly web hosting, high performance cloud computing and he maintains websites for sailors and ocean rowers such as Roz Savage.

also I wasn’t the first one to realize Nick’s story was a good story. a lot of other newspapers and magazines picked up on this way before I did.

the friday cinco 12 – john wicks [drummer to the stars]

John Wicks [not taken by me]

I’ve got a thing for nice guys.

see, with a former career in radio and having spent enough time in LA, I’ve met some famous people. I’ve also met some talented people. sometimes, they’re even both. but more often than not, they’re rarely famous, talented and genuinely nice.

John Wicks is all of those – his niceness will most likely mean he will never admit to being a big deal, but a quick look at his resume will tell you that he is, in fact, not just a drummer to the stars, but a star himself:

B.O.B., Bruno Mars, Cee Lo, Meshell Ndegeocello, Chocolate Genius Inc., Fitz & The Tantrums, RZA, David Byrne, George Clinton, Money Mark, Mike Watt, Heather Porcaro, Skerik, Sam Sparro, NASA, Gift Of Gab, Chali 2na, John Fruciante, Teddy Bears w/ Iggy Pop, Brandi Shearer, Cory Chisel, Donovan Frankenreiter, Jessie Baylin, Joshua Radin, Zack Hexum, Soccermom, and many more…

after a Tweet [ugh] about how happy I was that Fitz and The Tantrums brought back real music, he responded with a ‘thanks’ and I decided to exploit his kindness with a few messages back and forth in hopes of talking him into an interview.

he, obviously, agreed, and with no hesitation, taking a lot of time out to go back-and-forth with every one of my questions… and then some.

John Wicks is simply a great guy. he’s a talented guy. and he took the time to do this… in between playing at Daryl Hall’s house and showing up on Carson Daly.

enjoy.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

okay, first off, you’ve played with the most eclectic group of musicians imaginable… from Bruno Mars to GZA, David Bryne to George Clinton, Meshell Ndegeocello to Donovan Frankenreiter and many, many more. not asking you to pick a favorite here, but give us a few career highlights:

One of my main goals as a musician has always been to “speak without an accent” in as many styles of music as possible.  I’ve been very blessed that these artists you mentioned and/or the producers I worked with on their records trusted me enough to be a part of their music.  I have to say though, I record on a lot of artists’ records without ever having the pleasure of meeting them.  Bruno Mars is an example of this.  I co-wrote and played on a song called “The Other Side” that was originally intended for Cee Lo Green’s record but ended up on Bruno Mars record!  That type of thing happens a lot these days.

Honestly, I have to say that recording Marc Anthony Thompson’s (aka Chocolate Genius Inc.) record “Swan Songs” earlier this year was definitely a career highlight and truly an honor.  I have been such a fan of his music since his record “Black Music” came out in 1998.  I actually kinda stalked him shortly after moving to LA seven years ago.  He was doing a residency at Largo and I approached him with  a disc containing Pro Tools session files of music that I had been working on with the hopes that he would just sing anything over them.  Well he never did it because of some computer glitch, but I must have made some kind of impression on him because he checked out my Myspace page and dug what he heard enough to contact me from New York just to say hi and stay in touch.  A few years went by and I got a call to do a couple of local casual gigs with him and then the record date!  While tracking his record, I cried with joy and emotional overload just hearing his voice coming through the headphones.  That realization of a dream was so powerful, and the joy of knowing that my playing and my musical decisions actually worked for his music still gives me so much satisfaction.

Doing that record also led to the opportunity to tour and play with Meshell.  The guitarist on that Chocolate Genius record was Chris Bruce who has been playing with Meshell for quite some time, and he gave her my number.  She has been a musical hero of mine for a long time.  Earlier this year, because of high demand from her fans, she decided to re-visit the material on her record entitled “Bitter” which is a shared favorite of both my wife and I, so it was very special getting to do those songs with her in a very stripped down trio format.  I learned a TON on this gig.  Meshell and Chris are great teachers as well as beautiful human beings.  It was another dream realized.

you mentioned finding your sound while attending Mardi Gras as a kid, but then later would work under Dave Coleman Sr., one of Billie Holidays guys, but still stick to sounding ‘southern’. what does a Southern Louisiana Jazz-understudy sound sound like?

My father was a Commander in the Navy.  We moved around a lot during my early childhood and one place we were fortunate enough to live was New Orleans.  My mother was extremely enthusiastic about music, jazz in particular.  If there was music happening, my mom was there and she always had me in tow whether it was a jazz funeral, Mardi Gras, Preservation Hall, or whatever.  When we lived in Pensacola, Florida, we would hang outside of a black gospel church almost every Sunday just to hear the music.  We felt like we would be looked at as impostors if we entered, until finally one Sunday, they just invited us in.  It felt like we were floating a couple of feet off of the ground.  All of these early experiences had a huge impact on me, and I’m so grateful to have lived in that part of the country during that time.  When my dad retired from the Navy, we moved up to Bainbridge Island, WA. Even though we didn’t live in the South any longer, I always found myself unknowingly gravitating towards drummers from New Orleans.  Most notably, Vernel Fournier.  My mom and dad were huge fans of pianist Ahmad Jamal and had his record “Live At The Pershing” which really features Vernel.  That was it.  It had everything I wanted.  Swing, funk, bounce, space, clarity, everything.  It still blows my mind and inspires me on a daily basis.  That is what I strive for, that level of groove, discipline, and musicality, no matter what style of music I’m playing.

now – to the present, over the past few years there’s been this Motown/soul/Stax Records revival of sorts and no one is doing that better than Fitz & The Tantrums, a band you’re drumming for. we all know what it’s like from down here, but what is it like day in/day out for you all? hang on, that sounded generic – what I’m trying to say is that based on the occasional shot we see of the crowd in the live shows, people seem to be having a genuinely good time as opposed to the previous shoe-gazer movement… if that makes sense?

Being from a jazz background, I’m used to usually playing for a couple of drunks at the bar and a bartender who is either preoccupied with a game on TV or is looking at us like we’ve got 5 heads or something.  This is the first band I’ve been involved with where it has a broad appeal and an enormous amount of wind in it’s sails.  It’s always a surprise when I look out and not only are people dancing like crazy, but they are singing all of the words as well!

As far as what it’s like day in and day out for us; In short we are all learning how to make this thing work smoothly with our personal lives which can be tough at the rapid rate that we are working.  There are so many decisions to be made, and so many personal factors that come into play.  The heat is really turned up on me as the only guy in the band with a wife, babies, and a mortgage.  It is a juggling act especially when the work is out of town.  I have to trust that the work I’m being asked to do is worth missing out on the experience of looking at my twin girls grow in front of my eyes.

It is really mind-blowing when I think of how fast this band has taken off.  We played our first gig at Hotel Cafe in LA almost exactly 2 years ago.  Since then we’ve been the support act for Flogging Molly, Maroon 5, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings playing dream venues like Red Rocks and college stadiums.  We signed to a great label in Dangerbird, had our music placed in commercials and T.V. shows.  I have to say though that the biggest thrill that happens now is witnessing the ever growing audience that we are connecting with, and it’s such a positive energy being mirrored back at us at every show.  I’m still in disbelief.  Especially since all of this has happened solely on word of mouth and the quality of the songs.

what’s in store for FATT? tours? new album? things must be insane right now…

You know, I kind of use my Google Alerts as a gauge of how crazy the buzz is and right now the buzz IS insane!  I’m getting an alert every hour on the hour.  We’ve made it on so many “Best of 2010” lists, it just boggles my mind.

On January 12th we play on the Jimmy Kimmel show and then we leave the next day for a month long tour with only a couple of days off.  It’s our first tour on a proper tour bus, and it’s our first extended tour as the headliner!  We’re doing mostly East coast and Mid-West cities but it also marks our first entrance into Canada.  I’m not stoked about the cold and the snow but at least this time we’ll have a professional driver and I can sleep.

We just started writing and recording for our next record a couple of weeks ago, which I’m really stoked about.  I have an enormous collection of drums.  Some beautiful and some serious Fat Albert meets Sanford and Son looking stuff.  I’m using it all and getting some really great sounds and really making an effort to play some original, new grooves that are still super hooky and danceable.

you’ve also worked with Mickey Avalon, who seems to have caught onto that controversial self-promotional thing that has worked for so many before him – Marilyn Manson, Bowie, Lady Gaga, etc. what, in the world, is a former-addict/prostitute-cum-rapper like to work with? and better yet, what does Daddy tell the twin girls when he gets home from work?

You know, I’ve only met Mickey briefly at the Sundance Film Festival a couple of years ago.  I was there with Money Mark and we played just before him.  I had heard the stories about his health issues prior to meeting him or ever hearing his music.  All I could think of that evening was that it was kind of sad that the crowd was really there to see the train wreck.  Don’t get me wrong, they were singing along to his stuff so I think they dug the music but the vibe was just not a positive one.  I’m a fan of all of the folks you mentioned in your question.  I think Lady Gaga is a legitimate talent as is Marilyn Manson, and I can also tell that they are very intelligent people.  Of course Bowie is just one of my faves of all time.  I think they all are masters of pushing people’s buttons and being visually exciting but hopefully not letting it overshadow the music.  I just wish Mickey could see that line, but if drugs are involved he’s not going to see anything.  I originally co-wrote and played on a song that was intended for him, but he was dropped or put on hiatus from his label until he gets healthy so the song ended up with another artist.  As for what I tell the girls, at one and a half they are too young to know what that all means.  When they are old enough though, we’re gonna be living in the wilderness and I’m just gonna sit on my porch, polishing my shotgun waiting for potential suitors.  Just kiddin’.  Sort of.

give us a few highlights of a career that started from the day you picked up some drumsticks in the 3rd grade.

There are too many, so I’m just gonna run off the first few that come to mind.

1.  Playing a festival in Holland with my high school jazz ensemble, I realized that you could see the world and play music.  Never looked back.
2.  Playing with and getting to know Money Mark.  He’s a dear friend and a genius.
3.  Playing with, recording with, and getting to know Marc Anthony Thompson aka Chocolate Genius.
4.  Working with Cee Lo Green.  I only wish he was allowed to put out the incredible, innovative songs that I have heard him invent.
4.  Studying with Joe Hunt in Boston.  He made me a better listener.
5.  Playing with organist Joe Doria and guitarist Dan Heck in Seattle for years was a huge learning experience.
6.  Teaching.  I love doing it.
7.  Buying a house, and paying off my car knowing that drums did it for me.
8.  There was a night at The Echo where all of us in Fitz & The Tantrums collectively felt the tide shift in our favor.  Folks were singing along, partying, sweating and we all felt this floaty high for a while when we got off of stage and just kinda stood wide-eyed asking “What just happened?!”
9.  Before drums paid the rent, I had day jobs ranging from barista to working in a slaughter house in but one career highlight that I hold dear is that I never worked in a cubicle.  I’m not knocking folks that do it, I just don’t think I’m built for it.

who are you listening to?

Again, too much to list here, so here are the CD’s strewn about in my car.  Major Lazer, Obi Best, a lot of late 80’s/early 90’s New Jack Swing stuff, anything with James Gadson on drums, Cameo, Siouxie & The Banshees, Missing Persons, ELO, Divinyls, B-52’s, Deee Lite, ABC, and anything that came out of Sigma Sound Studios.

here’s a question I’ve never seemed to get the same answer to, no matter how many people I ask. best drummer of all time… Neal Peart? Keith Moon? Terry Bozzio? I once sat down at a pub in England with Roger Pope [of Elton John, Hall and Oats fame] and he puts Phil Collins up there in the Top 10 – say it ain’t so!

Stevie Wonder.

after seeing this, I might have to agree with you.

follow John on Twitter.

read John’s blog.

go see John play.

the friday cinco 13 – talia gad [volunteer/advocate]

I suppose this is what we’d like to think of when someone says ‘prostitution in America’. something of yesterday, telling ourselves that ‘no way is she a hooker, standing right there in front of the store’, imagining it to be some sort of movie scene, where her pimp – be it Harvey Keitel or Gary Oldman – gets his comeuppance in the end and she gets to finally move out of the city and meets someone like Richard Gere. I Googled ‘pimp’ for this interview, hoping to get a violent photo to catch your attention, but could only find Halloween costumes worn by white frat boys. ‘human trafficking’ came back with a lot of images from Asia and Africa… but nothing on the good ole US. no sir, we don’t have that – a few whores here-and-there, sure, but an argument can be made for how acceptable it might be should they have the same treatment as those nice ladies in Holland. we don’t have it – got done with that whole slavery thing long ago and learned our lessons. we’ll give some money to UNICEF and make a Hollywood blockbuster about one of them marrying the chai wallah who won ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionare’ and all sleep easier, cause there’s always a way out.

but that’s not it.

that’s not it at all.

‘trafficking’ says Talia Gad, ‘makes people think of ‘international’ because so much trafficking (especially drug trafficking) begins with cross-border transportation. but human trafficking just refers to the illegal trade of people for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.’

Talia, I should explain, is someone I met for a short few hours on my birthday a few years back in Los Angeles. I was immediately drawn to her manner of speaking – half sass and all honest. but an honesty that didn’t offend as much as let you know where her beliefs lie. over the years, we’ve kept in touch and I occasionally would see her posting something about ‘sex slaves’ or ’24-hour help line’ and, admittedly, write it off to someone else jumping on the Peace Train. but the Facebook updates kept coming and she then began a charity drive for the program she was volunteering with, so I sent her an email to ask about it all.

and then she emailed me back, witholding the gruesome details, but mentioning enough to turn my stomach.

I kind of hope it does yours.

how’d you get involved in this in the first place?

I’ve been volunteering in this field since ’94 when I spent 18 months doing crisis phone response for domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, etc.

Then in 2001, I volunteered doing hospital response for sexual assault, domestic violence, and elder abuse for a couple of years. While that was all very intense, the sexual assaults were the hardest, particularly because the forensic exam is so invasive. But when you’re holding a woman’s hand while she’s going through the most difficult experience of her life, and you’re her only support, it’s easy to commit to it.

I learned about the Sexual Assault Resource Center when I was working at Planned Parenthood (doing prevention education), and I was asked to do a presentation about contraception. I fell in love with this place.

All the agencies I’d volunteered for in the past had been loaded with anger and despair: people with a the-world-is-a-bad-place-and-all-men-are-rapists attitude. SARC is first agency I’ve come across that is full of love and hope. It’s contagious. Have I mentioned how I love this place?

so what is SARC?

In a teeny nutshell, check out the fundraising page.

Our website is very sad, but we have a volunteer that’s going to hopefully help it look decent. In the meantime: www.sarcoregon.org

There’s a lot going on here. The heart of our agency is the 24-Hour Support Line that does crisis phone response as well as hospital support during an exam, police department support if reporting, and youth shelter support for trafficked kids.

And it might surprise some that Portland has some of the worst trafficking in the country.

We also do:
High School Prevention Education (10-session curriculum in 6 schools)
Case Management for Trafficked Youth
Latina Case Management Program
Mental Health Program for Individual and Group Counseling

I manage the Volunteer Program that does screening and training for 70 volunteers, half of which volunteer 25-60 hours a month on the Crisis Line doing phone and in-person response.

We do this with 10 staff at 2 sites for under $500K.

but when we talked, you mentioned ‘trafficked youth’ and that phrase is usually reserved for third-world countries, no?

Trafficked youth: Good question. You’re right: “trafficking” makes people think of “international” because so much trafficking (especially drug trafficking) begins with cross-border transportation. But human trafficking just refers to the illegal trade of people for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Domestic trafficking begins when girls (mostly girls, although boys are also trafficked, particularly those who are gay or transgendered) find themselves without care and support either because they were kicked out of their homes, have run away, were sold by drug-addicted parents in exchange for drugs or rent, or any other series of events that leads to them finding themselves alone.

Then the sequence looks something like this:

* Dude comes up to a vulnerable girl and says, “Hey, baby. You’re so beautiful. I’m going to take care of you, feed you, and show you how good life can be.” Having nothing else, she buys into it.

* The next couple weeks/months are spent with food, clothes, and a caretaker, as well as a growing dependence on drugs — that plus her being further removed from her family, friends, and school.

* Then the Dude springs something like this: “Hey, baby, we’re running out of money, and I need you to earn your keep. How about you have sex with my friend like you do so good with me. That’ll help us out so much.” By now she needs him, and she knows that he’ll be mad if she doesn’t, so she turns her first trick.

* The cycle spirals from here. The relationship becomes more and more controlled, and she has fewer and fewer options (“I have no one else to turn to, and at least he loves me”). The physical abuse increases. She turns more tricks to earn him money and maintain his affection.

* Pretty soon her boyfriend (yes, she still thinks of him as her boyfriend) is making her earn a minimum dollar amount each day, and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t get to eat. Or she doesn’t get drugs. Or worse. A fairly common deal is that $300 a day keeps a girl from getting a beat down.

By the time we meet them, they’re terrified to leave the Life. These dudes are violent, as most sex trafficking is driven by gangs, so that even when their boyfriend-pimps get picked up, the girls are still in danger. Girls also get disappeared, which is what keeps us from being able to do street outreach; just talking to them can get them disappeared.

The abuse is extraordinary. Think of a venn diagram where these girls are at the intersection of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, gang violence, and general fucked-upness. That’s where they live. With a bunch of other girls in the stable (yes, the pimps refer to their girls as their stable). Have I mentioned that the average age of girls initiated into trafficking is 13?

and where do you all step in?

SARC has an active caseload of about 70 girls between 2 case managers. The average girl’s file stays open for about 3-6 months, which means that we’ll see about 150 girls a year [this will change when we get funding to support more than 2 case managers].

We generally have to wait for the girls to get picked up by cops for prostitution and brought into shelter.  Sometimes we see them just once, but it’s typically for long enough to bribe them with a change of clothes, toiletries, a blanket of their own that they can take to crash on someone’s couch — anything to offer some sense of comfort. They usually decline the help, but at least they know it’s there. Most often they run (it’s not a lock-down shelter), but we still keep hope that they’ll turn up again, especially if they stick around for long enough to hear about the options they have to leave.

It often takes us a few times of meeting up with them before they’re ready to trust us enough to risk leaving the Life. But when they do leave — get straight, go back into school, or are reunited with people that will care for them — that feeling is what fuels us to keep working at it.

I could have asked a lot more questions, as I had quite a few, as I hope you do too. if you click on the above link, you can see that Talia reached her personal goal of raising fund, so it’d be easy to pat her on the back and close this window. but like she said, Portland has some of the highest trafficking numbers in the country, and that isn’t something that just stops. so, sure, money if this something that grabs you. and if anyone is handy with designing web pages, I know they’d appreciate the help. it just really kind of seemed more important to let it be said, to let it be known, that things like this still happen, are still happening even in our own cities.

and I reckon if more people start to realize that, then people like Talia will be able to spend more time on the phones with the people who need to talk, as opposed to having to talk to people still need to work on their listening.

do what you want if you will, but if any of this made you stop for a second, then pass it on.

note: with complete transparency, I did preface this interview with a mention of Movember. and we’ll get to that, but putting a photo of my facial hair didn’t exactly seem right in comparison with people who are actually putting their hearts into help.

the friday cinco 10 – luke st. germain [author, bell-ringer]

IMG_0275

[I want to tell you of the story about how I met Luke, but he already did… in the form of a novel – so I won’t tell you about that. what I will tell you is that Luke has a certain air about him that tells you he’s already succeeding at whatever it is you think he’d be good at. and he’s a nice boy. so read his book. and find yourself stuck inbetween the hell of going door-to-door selling paper, and, well, the hell of believing that it’s about to make all your wildest dreams come true. well done, old friend. and thanks for the mention]

okay… as annoying as this has probably already become – what is the book about?

The book is about how a beach bum in San Diego became a door-to-door sales cult leader.

and at what point in this ‘career’ did you realize the absurd comedic value, even, book-worthy, of it?

The absurdity is evident on day one, of course- that’s the only way to describe barging into quiet offices and cracking horrible icebreakers. But the deeper into “the biz” you get, the more absurd it becomes, until one day you’re living with twelve strangers in a house with no furniture.

you might cover this in the book, but did you ever find yourself believing the promises of, well, all things promised? a team? riches? nice cars?

I thought I would be a millionaire by the time I was thirty- that I would own multiple houses, and expensive cars, and be able pay off my student loans. In retrospect I was a lethal combination of naivete and ambition.

what was the breaking point?

The breaking point was watching the snow fall through a window and feeling depressed, because it mean that people would quit the next day. Then I realized that I didn’t want to be the kind of person who was depressed watching the snow fall.

poetic. and symbolic. but c’mon – surely it was something said, something you witnessed that made you realize that this might not be all that was promised?

Yeah, that’s the melodramatic answer. It was a gradual decision, though, not one specific event. I saw plenty of problems in the biz, but the real problem was realizing that I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore.

take us back to your prime in ‘the biz’ – were you good? did you make any money, or, as the book echoes – ‘ring the bell’?

Hey, you saw me ring the bell, baby! But yeah, I was good. Killed it in the field, but gave away a ton of money to my team- I made about 25k as a rep. Of course, the real money was supposed to come in management, and there’s the rub. There is no red sports car waiting for you. I made about 55k the year I was nominated for Rookie Manager of the Year.

describe one of the more ludicrous experiences you had while working there.

I gave this guy  in the San Diego office a ride home, and it turned out he lived on a boat. We had some wine on the boat, then I had to drive through the gate of the marina to get out. The next day I went out and rang the bell. Of course.

it was my Uncle’s boat. and your destruction of the marina property got me kicked off. anyway – which is your favorite passage, line or chapter of the book?

My favorite chapter is probably the one that describes one business type after another in the field. I always thought a good book would be “tales from the field,” just interview everyone and put all their best stories together. You never know what you’ll find out there.

so, published author. what’s next? please tell us it still involves writing.

Next is writing scripts (feature length and shorts) and working on the Rapture Club site.

any backlash?

No real backlash to speak of, surprisingly. One person asked me to change her name. So far the only feedback I’ve gotten from everyone is “Yep, that’s what happened all right.”  But who knows, maybe no one has even read the thing yet.

how can people get the book?

Right now it’s only available as an e-book. Either barnesandnoble.com or smashwords.com.

the friday cinco 11 – [anonymous] [artist]

it’s a conundrum.

well… it was.

see, I have a friend and, over the past few weeks, we’ve been exchanging emails about her work. I had planned on taking the nonchalant questions and making them into a little interview of sorts and then putting it up here and emailing her with a ‘surprise!’ but yesterday, she mentioned valuing her anonymity – which, in turn, meant that ‘surprise!’ idea might be a ‘bad!’ idea.

but then I thought about it and realized that she lives in [deleted], many miles from me. and I don’t see her that much… meaning I went ahead and, well, did it anyway.

good intentions!!

it’s work that the second I saw it, I was moved. and I’m not going to act like I know a lot about art – but I know what’s good. we all do. it’s like music. or food. we might not be able to make it, but we can tell if it’s palatable. [deleted]’s touch-to-canvas is moving. it’s soulful. it’s sad. and it’s ridiculously good, as you will see below – interspersed with things she thought, and things she said.

[deleted], please don’t be mad. and if so, please forgive me. I didn’t have permission for any of this, but did it hoping you’d realize that there’s a whole lot of people who want to see – and that gifted artists whose work is kept dusty only become big post-mortem, and we certainly don’t want that.

the world is full of loud, of the next Damien Hirsts – as Ginsberg so fantastically put it – ‘…waving genitals and manuscripts’…

let them be anonymous, anonymous. let them be quiet.

I sucked at school, couldn’t remember anything, had double vision and numb hands and as a visual arts major that’s bad. I found out I had multiple sclerosis and eventually got great drugs for it, but by that time the thought of going back to school was nightmarish.  And I still have a horrible memory.

I am mainly self taught, have no reputable background or story..  and I like anonymity!

Artists I admire are Daniel Sprick, Hans Holbein, Graydon Parrish (he is overwhelming real though) and I adhere to most of Daniell Kunitz’s concepts concerning the state of art and what it should be.

I make art because its one of the only things in life I am fairly good at, which can be consoling after being a flop at most everything else.

I am tired of showboating, shocking, envelope pushing, nontalents scribbling their way to fame… I have Stella Vine in mind when I say that.

the friday cinco 9 – bao tran [movie maker]

when I first met Bao, 3 years ago, in Shanghai, he told me that he was a ‘director’. lots of people stopped by our studios and lots of people said they did lot of interesting things – so I shrugged him off as a ‘nice guy’ and assumed his ‘movie making’ was like others claiming to be, ahem, writing a novel.

and then I looked him up.

and then I started seeing his newest film being shown at numerous festivals, winning a handful of them.

and then I saw ‘Bookie’.

and then I took Bao seriously.

you’ve made a film. it’s a good film because different people around the world are saying so. tell us about this film – in less than 10 words.

“Bookie loves nightclub waitress, but her man is his boss.” We’ve been very fortunate to have a great film festival run and a lot of positive reaction with our audiences. And now that it’s available for viewing online, BOOKIE has reached even more people around the world.

having watched this, and enjoyed it, I did see a few glimpses of a Wong Kar Wai fan in you – safe to say? any other influences?

Although I’ve seen a lot of WKW, I wasn’t thinking about him explicitly. I’m sure any movie I’ve seen has some subconscious influence one way or another, but I try to consider what the story is about and go from there, rather than try and follow after a certain style.

the music selection was fantastic – the choice to have not one, but two live acts was even better. how did you find them? how hard is it to include musicians in a picture?

Our music supervisor Johnny Horn hosts a blues show on KEXP and he is THE soul/R&B expert! It was great having him on board, he basically culled his music collection and we listened through it to make final selections. He even brought the sessions players together for the band you see and hear in the film. The two singers, Bernadette Bascom and Geoffery Simmons, were great finds who brought a wealth of talent and experience to the table. I think my producer Nick and I showed an enthusiasm and passion for the film that became an incentive for all these great musicians to want to play a part.

how does one go about making a film. from the standpoint of your involvement in this. can you give us bullet-points? we’re much better with that. from idea-to-promotion…

Seven highly-effective habits for the writer/director:

Step 1) Learn story structure by reading Brian McDonald’s INVISIBLE INK.
Step 2) Write your story, then repeat this step until it’s great.
Step 3) Learn directing by reading David Mamet’s
ON DIRECTING and Sidney Lumet’s MAKING MOVIES .
Step 4) Find passionate, talented collaborators who will be your awesome producer, director of photography, editor, actor, etc.
Step 5) Direct that great script.
Step 6) If you are ever stuck or hit a roadblock, fake the funk! No one will ever know until it’s too late… for them.
Step 7) Promote your movie through screenings, film festivals, and online networking. Family and friends are your marketing army, so make them march!

what’s next?

I’ve got a couple feature scripts that we are developing, one is an action fantasy called SLEEP NEVER COMES that I hope to direct as well. Follow us on our mailing list and Facebook to keep up with the latest.

the friday cinco 8 – flor serna [multi-instrumentalist/singer/producer]

quickly think back to what you were doing at 17.

I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t a fraction of what this talent is doing.

in fact, I’d be willing to bet she’s doing more now that most of us presently.

okay, first off, the Velvet Underground cover – this is what you’re quickly becoming known for online. how does one even go about a split screen duo co-op…I don’t even know the name for this…help me out:

My YouTube debut was actually a video of the first song I learned on guitar, because I was too afraid to play it for my friends in person. From there I continued recording music on my own, and was intrigued by the amount of young artists there in the world, that put themselves out on the internet.  Eventually people started asking to do what they call in the YouTube music community, a “collaboration.” I’ve done this a few times, and its really fun! Some people record their music for youtube in an actual studio, with microphones and recording equipment, but I just use the video mode on my digital camera. There are plenty of free video editing programs out there to use, also. I use Windows Movie Maker! A collaboration works through sending pieces of video and audio files back and forth. Eventually one of the people compile the audio and video. It is a great way to make music with people miles away. For example, in the Sunday Morning cover, two people of different ages, different first languages, and different sides of the equator were able to recreate a song that they both loved.

let’s talk a little bit about that cover you did – who is the guy? how did you all meet?

The guy is Martin Da Silveira. He had been consistently commenting on my videos, and one day he asked if I’d join him in the task of covering Sunday Morning. I gladly accepted!

and so how did the whole recording process go? I mean, it looks basic enough with the split screen, but something tells me there was more to it.

Well, sometimes its necessary to realign the audio with the video. If you look closely at this vid, the video is a little bit of sync with the audio. I made all of my tracks (Xylophone and vocals), then overlapped them into one track, and sent that track to Martin. Since video files are often too large to email, we have to use websites such as Mediafire, that allow you to put the track on the internet temporarily, so others can download it. Martin came up with the background synth stuff on his own, on whatever software he uses. I’m not sure what Martin uses to record, but I use my digital camera.

YouTube Preview Image

you’re obviously good on the xylophone, but you’re also in the ‘We Are The World’ ukulele video tribute – what else do you play? what do you want to play? where is this all going?

I would say that piano is my main instrument, but I play guitar, drums, melodica, bass, and various low brass to a small extent. I want to play sitar. I don’t plan on becoming a professional musician of any sort in my life, but I would love to still be involved in the music scene and industry. One video that captures the amount of instruments I play is here.

wow. okay, so you’re on the verge of being able to play 6 instruments, along with being able to sing and write music and you don’t want to be a professional musician?

Nope. I’m hesitant, because thus far in my life, I’m not very receptive to situations where I’m forced to play music. For example, a forceful piano teacher, or even too much band at school. Unless I had a lot of control over what I was able to do and play, I’d rather maintain the creativity on my own. But as I said, I ALWAYS want to be involved in the music scene.

musical influences?

I think most of my musical influences actually come from people my age! Friends in my everyday life, and friends on the internet that I’ve met on youtube. I actually maintain contact with a few. For example, every once in a while, I’ll get a package from Australia.

a package from Australia?

A package from Australia! I believe it consisted of a kazoo (with plenty of handwritten-sharpie-notes on it), an Australian pen, a t-shirt, and a “certificate of awesomeness”(My fave.) The package came from Kenny and the Captains. (We met due to our commonality-the melodica!(acordion-like keyboard)).

you’re young. most of us are not – who should we be listening to right now?

I am young! Most musicians are young. You all should be listening to the teenagers/ young adults that play music in their living rooms with a camera on, just for funzies. I could definitely reccomend tons of talented musicians that get little to no recognition.

Kristen Holine

Lauren O’Connell

Oberon Carter

Unh Aralee Windu

Pomplamoose

LanaRae and Faireset

thanks, Flor.

THANKS 😀

Flor Isabel Serna is a 17 year old girl living in The Land of Enchantment. She likes to fly kites and listen to music. She is hoping to someday become involved in the music recording industry, but until then, she plays and listens to music for fun.

the friday cinco 7 – sarah sculley [painter/photographer/roller-derby…er]

I would love to tell you all about Sarah, how she’s one of my closest galpal’s, the adventures we’ve had stretching from Australia-to-California and her Dad’s advice on ‘bush turkey’s’ – but I fear it would take away from her talent. a talent seen people who know talent. her shows in Shanghai, San Diego and Brisbane led to her achieving a cult-following [guilty as charged] and her trademark touch can be seen on everything from panties to snowboards.

…and she’s one of my favorite painters.

what is it, exactly, that you do, Sar?

Good question! I know for sure I drink an unhealthy amount of red bull and that then leads to various creative… endeavors. I have a degree in Graphic Design – so that’s my ‘grown-up’ job. I seem to have branched out a bit, which is really common for designers after a few years of clients telling them what to do. I paint a lot. I make jewelry – because really, who wouldn’t want an online store full of jewelry. I just bought a sewing machine so I’ve been going crazy with that. I’m curating a Roller Derby art exhibition in Brisbane, Australia this year. Oh and photography – my Dad is a great photographer and so I thought ‘it must be in the genes, so I’ll give it a go’ and wa la… I’m now a fully-fledged wedding and portrait photographer! Who knew!

tell us more about the painting stuff…

Painting is my favorite thing to do in the whole world. I can sit on the floor and listen to music and get messy. It’s more than a creative outlet – it’s therapy. I deal with a lot of personal issues through creativity – death, rejection, jealousy, failure. It’s certainly cheaper than therapy and it seems to make people around me happy. I learn a lot too – about myself, new techniques, new media. I just did a couple of pieces for a show in San Jose, Gutter Glam that opens this week and I pulled out some really old letraset sheets I had salvaged to press them onto the pieces. The artworks turned out great!

but your stuff resonates of…well, loads of stuff – life-speaking…

28 years of coloring-in books (yes, I still color-in now)
10 years or travel
8 years of industry experience
and 28 years of wonderful friends and family who encourage me and inspire me.

whatcha got coming up?

Well, tonight I’ll be going for a swim, and then maybe some Indian?
Oh… art…
Currently I have a few pieces at the Gutter Glam show in San Jose. Then we have a Roller Derby art show coming up in 2010 that I am curating (and showing a few pieces in). It’s amazing how creative roller derby girls are! I am aiming to have a solo show in Brisbane in late 2010. Then onward and upward from there… watch out New York – here I come!

tell us something we don’t already know…

Well, I did my first aid course yesterday and it turns out that snakes can’t see you if you stand still. Or did you mean something you didn’t know about me? Oh… well, I was born in the States… don’t let my Australian accent fool you! I’m a bit stealth like that.

find out more at www.sculleydesign.com


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