Music Spotlight: John Carroll Kirby

// photo by Molly Lewis

// photo by Molly Lewis

Keyboardist + composer John Carroll Kirby released his first solo record (after working with artists like Solange, Blood Orange and Connan Mockasin) through his own label Outside Inside. Kirby's Travel LP + accompanying visual album is filled with his original compositions inspired by world travel. We caught up with Kirby on the project.

 

Asymmetric Magazine: We're so stoked about your visual album Travel! Can you tell us a bit about the LP?
John Carroll Kirby: Thank You! The LP was written primarily in a small town (population of 500) called Rio Hondo San Antonio in Belize. I stayed in a hut down there with an expat named Rod.  Rod created one of the first "Hobbit Houses" and was very into sustainable living. Wifi was practically non existent in the town, so I was forced to dig deep into my imagination to write the record!

AM: We love how the tracks are named after cities and landscapes. Are they inspired by your personal travels to these places?
JCK: Many songs are inspired by my personal travels, and some are places I traveled to in my head. Imagination is always the theme. Even if it's somewhere I've been before, I tried to take an imaginative perspective on the experience. When visiting Lamanai, I tried to imagine the civilization that lived there before. When I visited Shanghai, I tried to imagine snow falling on the city–I'm trying to make a snow globe that plays "Shanghai" for merchandise!

AM: How does Travel compare to your other work?
JCK: Travel is my most personal and concise work to date.

AM: What was your process for creating the videos for the LP?
JCK: The videos were inspired by favorite video Souvenir de Chine by Jean Michel Jarre. In that video, he portrays the people of China as compassionate, light-hearted and sensitive during a time when people in the west were meant to feel the opposite way. I tried to apply some of that playful curiosity when compiling my videos.

AM: Are the videos all compiled of footage from your travels?
JCK: All the videos are actually compiled from scouring the Internet, but that's a journey of its own!

AM: Aside from world travel, what themes do you typically pursue through your music?
JCK: I like to explore imagination, sensuality, spirituality, and the humor that runs throughout.

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
JCK: Hermeto Pascoal's Musica da Lagoa, @boonk.ig, Dries Van Noten, Twinkie Clark, Anderson "The Spider" Silva,  Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam.

AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
JCK: Loren Kramar, Molly Lewis, SK Kakraba, Solange, Mac Demarco.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
JCK: LA is my home and where I'm at my best! It's great to be around so many great musicians! LA is the mecca of reckless self expression and spiritual inquiry. It's so fun!

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
JCK: If the mind is clear, the food is good and the clothes fit right, I'm good anywhere!

AM: What's one piece of advice that you live by?
JCK: My guru Sri Dharma Mittra likes to say: 'Without determination, there is no progress!'. Simple but true as hell.

AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
JCK: I have a few records in the works! One is a bit more Balearic, and the other might sound something like Cal Tjader's Amazonas meets Uakti/Philip Glass' Aguas de Amazonia.

Buy Travel + view the full visual album.

 
Posted on November 13, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: Robokid

Placeholder // photo source:
 

LA-based producer, DJ + singer-songwriter Ethan Budnick, better known as Robokid, is changing the game with the start of his new project and his continued work as cofounder of the well-known label Moving Castle. We caught up with him on his latest single Next Year, upcoming projects and the evolving label that's transforming the music industry.

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician and your recent release Next Year.
Ethan Budnick: Right now, I've been working with a lot of musicians–different singers and writers. For a while I was just producing a lot of beats but not really putting anything out. I wasn’t happy with what I was making, but I felt pressure to release music because I was being booked for festivals and other gigs. I took some time off from releasing music and got back to the basics of why I started making music in the first place. Up until I wrote Next Year, I hadn't written a full song in a long time, and when I made it I knew I wanted to put it out as my first song to this whole new project I'm working on. I’m using the with the same sounds I used to make [as a DJ] but have been changing the structure to be more pop-oriented and adding my own vocals and writing. After working with a lot of singers and writers and watching how they work, it inspired me to sing on my own tracks. Next Year is about that feeling of not fitting in and wanting to be different but realizing that the most important thing in life is to stay true to yourself.

AM: How would you describe your sound?
EB: I originally started making music in an electronic/emo band in high school with my friends, but I didn’t really take production seriously until I got into EDM and dance beats. My sound is a mix of all of those elements and a variety of indie, pop and R&B influences. It's hard for me to describe my own music; it's really just whatever comes out when I write and has a lot of feelings.

AM: What themes do you typically pursue through your music?
EB: A lot of my music is about the human experience and my own personal life. I like to write about things that I feel a lot of people can relate to and things that might help others through certain situations. In Next Year, almost every line has a double meaning. I like writing music that isn't so literal and can be interpreted in a bunch of different ways. Next Year can be seen as me talking about or to myself, but it can also be viewed as me giving advice to someone else. Typically I’m writing about my personal life because that is like therapy, but sometimes it's fun to be in character and write from another perspective. Also, I really love writing diss tracks, but I haven’t put one of those out yet. I really just want people to learn my story by listening to my music.

AM: So, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians and artists?
EB: My biggest piece of advice is stay true to yourself. Next Year is the perfect song for that. For awhile, I was comparing myself to my friends and other artists who were really successful, making a lot of money and touring a lot. I was always thinking, what am I doing wrong?, and I would think I had to do things exactly how they did it. You don't need to be like everyone else or copy other people. Stay in your own lane, and do what you want to be doing. It's more fulfilling to be yourself and people will care more about what you’re doing, too.  People can tell right away when something is genuine or is fake. It's okay to want to be a popular musician and follow trends to an extent, but make sure you do your it in your own way. I make music because I love the stuff I make. When I first started making beats, I never thought I'd sing because I thought I was a terrible singer. But a friend had me sing on a track once and edited my vocals, and then I realized that you can do anything. I realized shortly after that I really do have something to say, and it's real to me. So much of the music out now has so many people involved in the writing process that you can't even tell whose idea or story it was to begin with. Music is so much more genuine when it's genuine and means something to the artist.

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
EB: Musically my inspirations are all over the place. I grew up listening to producers like Kanye West, The Neptunes and Timbaland, as well as a lot of post-hardcore, indie and emo bands like Circa Survive, Chiodos and Death Cab for Cutie. In about 10th grade, I got really into hip hop, rap and pop music and was obsessed with Benny Blanco and Dr. Luke. I would research all these pop producers because I thought the productions were so interesting. Then I got really into electronic production, so those are the staple genres that inspired me to start making music. Anthony Green, Pharrell and Kanye West, and Skrillex are all huge influences. I really used to love how Skrillex sang on his own songs and chopped up his own vocals. I feel like a lot of people forget that he sang, and I wish he would more still. 

AM: What music are you currently listening to? 
EB: I was really obsessed with the new Toro y Moi album. Also, I just did a bootleg remix of Kelela's single Frontline–I'm such a huge fan of her. I also love the new Tommy Genesis single. I guess you could say I’m really into R&B at the moment.

AM: What role does LA play in your work?
EB: It's a huge melting pot for meeting people. People from all over come in and out, so living here is great to take advantage of working with so many different people. Also, being able to bring [artists from] the Internet into real life to collaborate is the best thing. There's such a huge network of artists here. I used to live in Boston, and it was hard to collaborate because it seemed like a lot of people dabbled in music, but it wasn't really their passion and no one took it as seriously. Coming out here, you get thrown in and are inspired by everyone around you.

AM: Speaking of working with different artists, can you tell us about starting the label Moving Castle and the work you guys do out here?
EB: Yeah! I met musician AObeats online, he showed me Manila Killa's music, and we basically just decided to start a little collective. Over time, things progressed, and we became more of a label. In 2015, we started signing and putting out artists' singles, and we made LA our home base. It's grown so much, and now we work on signing artists, creating merch, designing artwork, and helping artists develop and promote their EPs. We also have a storefront on Melrose where we started having pop-up events. It's a great time to have an independent label because the music industry is evolving a lot. It's shifting towards the listeners instead of the big labels.

 

 

I make music because I love the stuff I make.
I have something to say, and it's real to me.

 

 

AM: How did you land on the name 'Robokid' as your alias?
EB: It's a funny story. When I was a freshman in college, I really wanted to be a DJ, and my friends and I were really high and trying to come up with names. My one friend had a shirt that said 'Kid Robot' that he wore all the time. Also, one of my favorite DJs at the time was a DJ named Unicorn Kid. So, I combined those to come up with Robokid, and it just stuck. I've tried to change it before, but it's a part of me now.

AM: Where is one place you feel completely in touch with your creative self?
EB: At home sitting at my desk. I move around a lot, but I feel the best creatively wherever my own set up is. I'm comfortable to just be myself, and there's no pressure. I'd rather work out of my house than a studio.

AM: Is that where you do most of your writing?
EB: I write lyrics anywhere. In Ubers, out at night, wherever I am. I'm always writing lyrics in my phone when I think of something.

AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
EB: I have two songs coming out next week with singer-songwriter Phem. She's just starting a new artist project of writing solo and expressing herself, so it's really cool to help her with it. I should have another single with my vocals out soon, and I'm working on my EP out next year.

Keep up with Robokid on SoundCloud + Spotify.

The Feels + Union presents No Feels 010: Halloween Edition
ROBOKID
with Hoodboi, Drippy Dolphin + special guests

Saturday, October 28 // 9pm-2am
Union // 4067 W. Pico Blvd.
tickets

 
Posted on October 5, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: Mother Mother

// photo courtesy of CO5 Media

// photo courtesy of CO5 Media

 

With the recent release of their EP No Culture: Live Sessions, alt-rock band Mother Mother show a raw side of themselves, putting out six live and acoustic versions of songs from their latest full-length album No Culture. Mother Mother is composed of Ryan Guldemond on guitar and vocals, Molly Guldemond on vocals and keyboards, Jasmin Parkin on keyboards and vocals, Ali Siadat on drums and percussion, and Mike Young on bass. We caught up with Ryan on their sound, inspiration and first live EP.

Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on your tour and new EP! What can we expect to hear?
Ryan Guldemond: Thank you. We're excited about this EP, as we've not yet released anything live. The tracks I'm most excited about are the acoustic renditions of Love Stuck and Letter. On the studio album, they're both big songs in their production but work so well stripped down. It's always a good test–seeing how the melodies hold up without a fortress of sound behind them. 

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
RG: It's like a really pleasant day, but all the colours are different and things are skewed. The sky is purple, the trees are blue, the hands you shake have three and a half fingers, etc. I guess what I'm trying to say is there's something familiar or nostalgic about our sound, but it's bent somehow, or glitchy. Like you're at a picnic, and your mushrooms are starting to kick in. I don't know. It's a hard, almost intolerable question. If you ask a radio programmer, they would say "alternative". 

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
RG: That which arrests the soul, I suppose, and that can be something either beautiful or horrifying, but both images have a way of elucidating how precious life is. Amazing songs do this, you know, the ones that encapsulate universal themes with lyrics so simple yet novel. And portraits of urban dystopia, or the smell of tomatoes on the vine, or leaving somebody who loves you or being left by somebody you love, or both at the same time. Good sex, bad sex. Being yelled at, being cradled. Amazing people. Shitty people. I think life is my answer. It's a very inspiring ordeal, life.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
RG: I spent a lot of time in LA writing for No Culture. I wrote the first and last songs on the record in LA while I was staying at a little artist apartment in Silver Lake. Can you hear it?

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
RG: On No Culture, the big theme was truth: finding it, denying it, and reconciling with the lies you may have been living or telling yourself, but also falling into longing for them or your old brain which believed in them. And like with most of our stuff, the central themes of any given album are often cloaked with existential, antiestablishment, or ironic overtones. The play between extremes and opposites is also common. It's important to me that, if a song is dismal, there's a silver lining, and vice versa. If the thematic lens is rose coloured, then dark clouds loom in the bridge.

AM: How did you land on the name "Mother Mother"?
RG: An Oedipus Complex

AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
RG: Perfume Genius, Angel Olsen, Fleet Foxes, Nick Cave, Vince Staples, The National, Karen Dalton, We Are The City, Blake Mills, Sharen Van Etten

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self?
RG: I really wish I knew where that was.

AM: Whats the best advice you’ve ever received?
RG: Be safe, but not too safe. 

Watch the music video for Love Stuck:

Listen to No Culture: Live Sessions on Spotify:

Tour dates:

July 14 @ Rapids Theatre // Niagrara Falls, New York
August 12 @ Front Yard Shindig // Smith Falls, Ontario
August 18 @ Bissell Park // Elora, Ontario
August 19 @ Pacific National Exhibition // Vancouver, British Columbia

Stay up-to-date on Mother Mother.

 
Posted on July 14, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: Wake The Wild

Wake The Wild is composed of Chase Jackson (bass, guitar + synth), Forrest Mitchel (drums), and Zach Sorgen (vocals). // photo by Craeg Macleod

Wake The Wild is composed of Chase Jackson (bass, guitar + synth), Forrest Mitchel (drums), and Zach Sorgen (vocals). // photo by Craeg Macleod

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a band.
Chase Jackson: Our newest single, “Numb” is simultaneously a party anthem, as well as a social commentary on modern culture of intoxication. It celebrates the fun and energy of the weekend but is self aware of the irony and paradoxes that we all embody.
Forrest Mitchell: Right now, we are really honing in on the sound. We've been able to play a few shows and test out a lot of unreleased tracks and get a better feel for what works best. As of late, we are channeling a more funky/dance vibe and really trying to capture the more live band-like sound in our recorded music.
Zach Sorgen: We had the vision for Wake The Wild long before releasing a single song. We had had a more acoustic project back in high school, and as we graduated college, we were searching to incorporate more electronic elements and more mature lyrics to reflect our new taste and our new reality. We then worked with ZEDD's engineer, but it didn't sound enough "like a band," so we shelved those songs and spent over two years crafting and honing the current sound. Finally, I think we have stumbled on something original and modern yet with a nod to the past.
I think one of our main appeals is the detail-oriented musicality. This really comes across at the live shows. Forrest's background in jazz drumming is clear from tasty fills and pocket, as well as sometimes an extended smashing drum solo. I try to nail the notes with emotion and also improvise new parts at every show, rocking the stage with signature dance moves and, I guess, a humble swag. Still a little shy, but getting back into it! Chase meanwhile switches constantly between guitar, bass, and the malletkat: a synth vibraphone played with four mallets. We have a good time playing out and this seems to translate well as we want everyone to have a good time vibing with us.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
CJ: Our sound is a blend of electronic production using vintage and modern synths with our unique live instrumentation of drums, guitar, bass, vocals, keys and synth vibraphone. We utilize a lot of unique jazz influenced chordal harmony that showcases our roots in old school R&B and funk with memorable pop-inspired melodies.
FM: Our sound is a fusion of old and modern styles with an electronic overtone. It has elements of electro-pop, funk, r&b, Chicago house, future bass, and jazz. We are really trying to create a fun, dance vibe, that also has other aspects to the overall sound. It's hard to pigeonhole, and that's how we like it. 
ZS: It is what it is. We just want to create a vibe and share the stories from our lives. Live shows we tend to play more uptempo stuff to get people moving. We don't want to be anybody else or create something that's already been created. We all met playing jazz, and it's fun to incorporate that harmonically and rhythmically–getting back to our roots.  I think our individuality comes across. Zach the singer also loves pop so the toplines tend toward catchy hooks while the production stays left of center with heavy synths and syncopations.

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
CJ: We grew up listening to classic Prince, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, as well as modern jazz fusion artists like Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Weather Report, but we’re also hugely influenced by modern artists like Disclosure, NAO and Oliver Nelson who fuse electronic production with organic live sounds and funky feels.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
CJ: In my opinion, Los Angeles’s greatest asset is it’s diversity and energy. Almost everyone I know is from somewhere else and is extremely talented and passionate about what they do. There’s so much variety in art, music, film, food and industry, that it’s an amazing melting pot for new ideas and cross collaboration. Ideally, we’re utilizing these unique assets as influences for our music.
FM: It plays a huge role. There are definite benefits and drawbacks to being in LA, but that goes for just about everywhere. The pluses are of course being somewhere with a million incredible producers, songwriters, musicians, and music industry professionals reside. There's a real scene here, and it's great to tap into. It can also be a bit disorienting and overwhelming, too. Getting noticed in a sea of talent can be a challenge. And of course, everyone you talk to has a different opinion as to how to be successful, so it can be hard really knowing what's best for you and when to ignore the distractions. 
ZS: LA is one of the best places on earth to be in your 20s and in music. Tons of friends are also following their passions and in the industry, so it's cool collaborating with and supporting each other. There are also a bunch of great venues we plan to rock in the coming year. We have a sweet house together and studio space on the East Side. But there is also a drive toward Top 40, which we are keen to avoid–wanting to stay true to ourselves and our vision and not follow trends.

// photo by George Karalexis

// photo by George Karalexis

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
CJ: Relationships, sexuality, fun, ambition and energy are all common threads. We really want our audiences to have a good time, and when we play live, seeing positive vibes from a dancing crowd is one of the most rewarding things. We want our positivity and energy to be contagious.
FM: Dance, fun, youth, sex.
ZS: Anything that's dope and honest. It's hard to describe, you just know when you feel it. Last summer, we went on a wild Eurotrip including a stop in southern Italy. I had studied there during my semester abroad, and there was one insane night we had to write about. Specchia was the original rough title for Touch The Ground, remembering that elevated feeling, celebrating life and being together. Numb takes a kind of ironic stance on how we rage every weekend, celebrating life but we feel terrible the next day, and alcohol is technically a depressant, so in a way it's kind of to forget the workweek.

 

 

We really want our audiences to have a good time, and when we play live, seeing positive vibes from a dancing crowd is one of the most rewarding things. We want our positivity and energy to be contagious.

 

 

AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
CJ: Disclosure, NAO, Oliver Nelson, Thundercat, Anderson Paak, Laura Mvula, Snarky Puppy, The Weeknd & Daft Punk are all consistent inspiration and influences. Michael Jackson is hard to beat though!
FM: Right now, I've been listening to a lot of Kaytranada, Anderson .Paak, Empire of the Sun, and NAO. I feel like all of these artists are really strong in their personal identities and are creating some fire shit in their own right. Talent and originality pour from every aspect of their projects. I respect originality so much, especially when it is coming from a place of pure talent and hard work.
ZS: NAO

AM: How did you land on the name "Wake The Wild"?
CJ: I played a one-off show at an event called “Awaken The Wild.” Since that concert never occurred again, we decided to utilize and alter that name to fit our new band. The name speaks to the energy we strive for in our music and live performances. We want our audiences to feel like they are fully engulfed in the music and free to open up to the moment through participation.

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
CJ: We have a music studio in the back of the house where we all live. It’s completely crammed full of instruments and recording gear. We spend pretty much every weeknight from 7pm to 1am or so there jamming, producing and writing new music. We affectionally call it “The Chateau” or “The Bunker” depending on where we are in the music process, (haha)!
FM: I'm a firm believer in the idea that half of practicing is listening. Where do I do most of my music listening? Blasting music in my car in LA traffic. I learn so much about how different artists produce and piece together their music. I'll hear different mixing textures, or production ideas, or hone in on lyrical themes and how they intersect with melody. As long as I'm not late, I don't mind long drives because it's my personal time to just swim in music. 
ZS: Yosemite

AM: Whats the best advice you’ve ever received?
CJ: Hmmm, Great question. Because we listen to, like and are capable of making music in so many different kinds of music from so many eras and traditions, sometimes it’s been hard to know exactly what to create. After a few false starts with different sounds, a number of musicians and friends encouraged us to focus on making music that we really, truly enjoy listening to and playing rather than appealing to current trends. Our intent is that if we make what we think is the best product possible by our standards, then it will stand for itself and others will enjoy it, as well! 
FM: Nobody knows anything.
ZS: Persistence.

Listen to Wake The Wild's latest track Numb on SoundCloud or Spotify:

Posted on April 12, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: FYOHNA

FYOHNA is the electronic duo composed of vocalist Katarina Gleicher + producer/multi-instrumentalist Elliot Glasser // photos courtesy of CO5 Media

FYOHNA is the electronic duo composed of vocalist Katarina Gleicher + producer/multi-instrumentalist Elliot Glasser // photos courtesy of CO5 Media

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as musicians and "Ghost Heart".
FYOHNA: We’ve been playing together for about two years. We devote almost all of our time as musicians to this project, so we are really excited to get to share Ghost Heart.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
F: Reflective songs with slightly complex but moving rhythms and expansive and lush production.

AM: What inspires you most?
F: What inspires us always really depends. It’s a little bit mysterious. I try not to think about it too hard because I think most of the time I have to get out of my own way to become inspired. Inspiration is one of those things that just sort of sneaks up on me. There’s this very brief moment where I can either recognize it and grab onto it, or I can just let it sort of evaporate and very easily just go on with my day. Think inspiration is everywhere, it’s just about wether you’re able to see it.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
Elliot: I think the coolest thing about growing up around Los Angeles was the mix of cultures. Growing up, I went to a lot of electronic music and hip hop shows in LA. All different kinds of people with strong identities doing their own thing.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
Katarina: There is always a theme of mixing dark thoughts and transforming them into something empowering.  I like to say things that people don’t like to say-or are too afraid to say.

AM: How did you land on the name FYOHNA?
Katarina: We really wanted this project to be under a name that could represent both of us. Personally, I wanted to have an alter ego to take responsibility for my words. The name Fyohna gave me the freedom to say whatever I wanted without a filter. Plus, we simply love the way it sounds.

AM: What other music is currently inspiring you?
F: Tune Yards, St. Vincent, Fiona Apple, Sylvan Esso, Purity Ring, Santigold, Hundred Waters, Little Dragon, Gorillaz, Thom Yorke, Flying Lotus, Ametsub, Arca, Bjork, SOHN, SBTRKT, Shlohmo, DJ Paypal, Mount Kimbie, James Blake, Hudson Mohawke, Lapalux, Bonobo, Glass Animals, mum, Julia Holter, Clark

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self?
K: Honestly, wherever I happen to feel it.  I don’t usually write unless I have something to say, and I feel most creative when I have something to say. 

AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
K: Don’t miss breakfast.

Listen to FYOHNA's latest track Ghost Heart on SoundCloud:

Tour dates:

April 18 @ Barboza // Seattle, WA
April 20 @ Hawthorne Lounge // Portland, OR
April 23 @ Hotel Utah // San Francisco, CA
April 30 @ The Echo // Los Angeles, CA (EP Release Party)

Posted on April 10, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: SAKIMA

SAKIMA is a singer, songwriter and producer // photos courtesy of the artist

SAKIMA is a singer, songwriter and producer // photos courtesy of the artist

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician.
Sakima: I have a lot of creative outlets, so my work as a musician usually encompasses a bunch of other art forms that all connect in an explorative way. I recently did a collab with one of my best mates and long term visual collaborator Rianne White for a piece made for VSCO. That collab was a sort of audio-visual exploration of my debut EP which drops on Moving Castle later this spring.  I’ve been working with a lot of other musicians such as AObeats (we also have a duo called SWIMS together), and I’ve been making a bunch of tracks with Jailo (my main outlet for making dancehall tracks!). I sing, write and produce, so I’m quite lucky that I get to do a whole variety of sessions and work with loads of different artists because of my flexibility, but I also don’t depend on other people to write or produce for me on my own songs, so I’m pretty much making new music daily (not to sound pretentious!).

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
S: I’m always out-running myself in terms of genre, which I think is fine these days. We all consume so many different kinds music on the daily that it’s kind of open the door for artists to be lots of different things at once.  For my current phase, one of my best mates, Slow Shudder, said my music was best viewed as hip hop. Though it dances with pop, r’n’b and electronic sub-genres, the lyrical content of my music is most effective culturally when viewed as hip hop, which I find kind of fascinating.

AM: What inspires you most?
S: Things that other artists don’t make! I know that sounds sort of dumb, but my best work comes from a place of God dam I wish there was a song that spoke to me as a gay guy in the way this Usher song does to others–that sort of thing. It often feels like gay artists are afraid to get turned into pop music or any kind of music that touches on being mainstream or accessible. That’s always been my biggest issue with music. Why do we have to sugar coat our identities or sexuality if we aren’t white and straight? Most days I’m like, fuck that and then write a mad ratchet pop banger from a queer perspective.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
S: I think it would be easier to as what role doesn’t it play. Although I'm currently in the UK, everything in my life is pretty LA centric, which happened in the past couple of years, thanks to AObeats and his scary big influence on my life. I always had a super romanticized idea of LA–I still have this low key fantasy of having an LA boyfriend and the film that we all make up in our heads about thoughts like that. It makes way into my music frequently. If my music was a place, it’s always going to be the UK, but the personality of my music is deeply LA. Psycho analyze that if you want.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
S: I mostly pursue sex in my music, if I’m being honest (not that it’s hard to tell). Again, it’s this real injustice felt as a gay person–artist/brand/persona aside–just as a member of the gay community, the lack of mainstream, pop, accessible music that is by or targeted towards the LGBTQ+ community is just so fucking bleak. Of course, there are a handful of queer musicians in contemporary pop music that are incredible assets to not only the gay community but music in general, but it’s always so censored–so sugar-coated. How can straight artists sing about what ever they like and be as sexual as they want, but queer artists have to sit down when it comes to anything remotely non-PG? Not all of my music is queer exclusive, of course, and it’s not all of who I am, but I definitely feel a responsibility to get LGBTQ+ stories, specifically ones that talk about sex without being apologetic. If Justin Bieber can roll around on a bed and simulate sex with a girl, then I’m going to do the fucking same with a guy in a music video, because gay people have sex, too.

AM: We love that you stand for equality in pop music. How do you think music impacts social change?
S: In my opinion, music is always a reflection of the current sociocultural climate. The representation of different social groups has for a very long time been unequal, which isn’t cool. For me, it’s not about making protest songs that are overtly forcing an agenda for change, but I’m more interested in integrating into pop music as a gay artist and pushing the normalcy of queer stories. LGBTQ+ people are as sexual as straight people, so where is the queer sex in pop music? That’s what I want to bring. It’s not about change, it’s about integration and aligning queer stories with straight ones in music to an equal level.

AM: What other musicians or artists are currently inspiring you?
S: I’m mostly inspired by the producers behind artists' work. As an artist who produces most of their own work, I never really hook onto an artist for one specific reason. It makes it hard to have a clear idea of what is directly inspiring me because it’s just a constant stream of sounds that I’m like, Oh shit! I want to make something like that. I’ve been having a lot of those 'Oh shit! I wish that was my song' moments with Post Malone, Tory Lanez and Mura Masa.

 

 

Don’t ever let anyone tell you what other people want. Make what makes you happy, and it’ll make other people happy, too.

 

 

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self?
S: To be honest, when I’m in the bath. There’s something meditative about sitting in hot water for ages; it gives me a direct path to my creativity to dream up whatever dumb thing I want to do next. Second to that, it’s my bedroom. What can I say? I like my own company.

AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
S: Well no one ever told me this, but after years of being told not to ‘use male pronouns’ or ‘be homoerotic’, aka to not be myself, I’d say the best advice is don’t ever let anyone tell you what other people want. Make what makes you happy, and it’ll make other people happy, too.

Listen to SAKIMA's latest track What I Know Now (feat. AOBeats) on SoundCloud:

Posted on March 27, 2017 .

Music Spotlight: Smoke Season

Smoke season is the LA-based electro-soul duo Jason Rosen + Gabrielle Wortman // photo courtesy of LaFamos PR

Smoke season is the LA-based electro-soul duo Jason Rosen + Gabrielle Wortman // photo courtesy of LaFamos PR

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work.
Smoke Season: We make music that moves our soul (and hopefully yours, too).

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
SS: The Wild West meets electronic beats

AM: What’s your biggest inspiration?
SS: Spaghetti western films and pulses you can feel.  Also, our own emotions.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
SS: Los Angeles (and California in general) is an ever-present ghost in our songs. You can hear her lurking behind every song.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
SS: Love, loss and expectations

AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
Gabrielle: Bon Iver’s [22, A Million] is both a technological milestone and an organic masterpiece. We’re also in love with the minimalism found is Solange, Frank Ocean and Kiiara’s new material.  From a vocal perspective, I look to Nina Simone the most ardently.
Jason: My writing is inspired by a lot of southern blues masters like Son House and Howling Wolf. 

AM: How did you land on the name “Smoke Season”?
SS: Being east coasters in LA, the first thing we noticed was that a lot of the glamour of the city was actually smoke and mirrors. Behind the illusions lies the greater beauty.  We dedicated our band name to sifting through the bullshit and finding the brilliance.

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
Gabrielle: Joshua Tree Desert, California
Jason: Idyllwild, California

// photo courtesy of LaFamos PR

// photo courtesy of LaFamos PR

AM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Gabrielle: ‘Make your music a hemorrhage of emotion.’
Jason: ‘Live deliciously.’

Listen to Smoke Season's EP Ouroboros on SoundCloud:

Smoke Season + APLUSFILMZ collab on a continuous series of narrative music videos for each track of Ouroboros. Watch the first two below:

Posted on November 15, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: Trebles and Blues

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician.
Lawrence Yeo: I go by the name Trebles and Blues, and I'm a beat-maker and producer. As a beat-maker, I find you can have so many different prongs of work. I can make work for other artists, rappers and singers, and I can also just focus on my instrumental work where I don't have anyone else–just my song. I've been growing the latter side of me a lot over the last couple of years.
       In regards to my music, I try to diversify my craft as much as possible. My first project I put out was called The Blue Note, and it was focused on soul and jazz. I used that as source material because I pretty much basked in that type of music. I also tried to emulate my favorite, legendary hip hop producers. I think when you're first starting out, you should start by emulating your favorite musician. Start with emulation, and then you will gradually morph into your own sound and style. I took that route and made my first project in March of 2011 in light of the people I idolized.
       For my second project, I wanted to experiment with something a little different. I didn't want to have the traditional sounds that I'm used to, and it took me two years to create it. It's called From my Father. It was my way to tell the story of my parents' journey as immigrants to the states. My father ended up getting deported, and he was separated from the family. It's a tale of hope, struggle, feeling rock bottom and trying to elevate yourself back into a place that was once native to you but is now foreign. I made this project through only sampling material that my father listened to when he was my age, which was Korean folk music. I took Korean folk from vinyl and his MP3 collection, and I transcribed it into my hip hop style beats. It tells a story of emotional battle and progress.
       My third project, Seasonality, incorporates a lot of Brazilian funk. It was another way for me to reach out to a different source and build something based on how I interpreted it. So, my work is a lot of varying sounds. I don't like to stick to one bubble; I like to hop around to different things.
       Currently, I'm in the midst of doing a 60 day challenge, so I'm making a beat every day for the duration of two months. Prior to this, I didn't make a beat for four or five months, so I was starting to feel like my creative muscle was atrophying and degenerating. It's like if you don't walk at all for two weeks, and you get up...you'd just fall down. It's the same thing with creativity–I think it's a muscle that needs to be exercised. I thought, 'Either I can walk away from this and wait for that allusive sense of inspiration to hit me, or I can try to do it by exercising that muscle daily and hopefully give it feeling again and have it regenerate.' I feel this will help me achieve a state of flow. So right now, I'm completely submersed in this challenge. 

AM: So, what do each of these projects entail?
LY: Every project is a different phase of instrumental work under the Trebles and Blues umbrella. When I perform, I like to incorporate all of it together, but it's always something different. Right now, in this rehabilitation process with my music, each project is getting me ready for what's next.

AM: How would you describe your style across all of your work?
LY: I'd say funky but rooted in hip hop. It's very diverse in nature, but everything I create evolves from some form of hip hop–just with a lot of different influences baked into it. I like to create mellow music as well as music you can dance to. Sometimes musicians and artists get pigeonholed into one form or style and get stuck there. So, that's why my goal is to try as many different things as possible.

AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
LY: I'm inspired by the notion of being completely present when I make music and being immersed in a state of flow when I am working on my craft. Music–or any art form–is a snapshot in time. It's a way of personally capturing your visions and your ideas in that very moment. When you're in your element, everything else drowns out. I love the thought of another person interpreting my work and tying a song of mine to a powerful memory or snapshot in their own life. This can allow them to feel present in that emotion and really immerse themselves in those feelings, as well.

AM: Where is one place where you feel completely in tune with your creative self–completely present?
LY: I do something I call "beat retreats" in places like Big Bear or Joshua Tree where I go to create because I think creating in your home can get a bit stale after awhile. Joshua Tree is a specific place I love to go, and I feel super in tune with myself there. There's just something about that place. You feel the energy, and when you sit down, you're just in the zone. Maybe because it's so empty and you have nothing to gaze into except your art, but it just centers you.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
LY: I was born and raised here, and as a result, I've been a part of many different communities and met so many different types of people. LA gave me the ability to get immersed in different cultures that I may not have been exposed to if I had grown up somewhere else. I got into hip hop when I was in junior high, and all of those cultural influences are reflected in my work.
       Also, the community here really supports the beat scene. Today, there are so many different genres and styles, as well as ways to access music, and I think that really started in Los Angeles. The community is so welcoming to different types of artists and the idea of beat-makers as artists instead of just in the background of rappers and singers. Low End Theory comes to mind because beat-makers can get up and just perform their work. I think LA really embraced that type of art. So, knowing that it's very embraced and knowing that I can put out instrumental beats and make my own brand is comforting. Art communities are everywhere, and there's something really powerful about being around the creative energy in LA.

AM: What other musicians are you currently into?
LY: I've been really into Anderson Paak, whose music is really soulful. As for beat-makers, I've been bumping that new Kaytranada and also listening to Knxwledge.

AM: I hear you're starting a collaborative space for artists. Can you tell us about that?
LY: I'm starting something called CreatorsNest, and it's a private creative space for all types of artists. I repurposed a garage and gave it a rustic vibe in the hopes to draw someone in to simply create. We have lockers, desks and different equipment. The idea was inspired by the popularity of collaborative working spaces right now, but I feel like artists desire private space. The problem is that they are locked away in expensive studios and hard to access. I want to provide a space for any type of artist to use anytime they want, on demand and for an affordable rate. It came from my frustration of working in my apartment every single day and wanting a change of pace, somewhere I could go to just be by myself and work for a few hours but also somewhere inspirational.

AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
LY: An awesome friend of mine recently told me to learn to let go. This came about in regards to this 60 day challenge. At first, it was really difficult for me because I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to create a premium beat every single day. I had to ask myself if I'm doing this challenge to become a better musician or if I'm doing it to feel in touch with the roots again–of why I started making music, why I was so in love with it and why I want to do it every day. I realized it was more of the latter. It's not about me becoming more technical or making better beats through this exercise. It's about accessing that feeling of presence again by making music. He said to learn to let go of the pride and ego that can be linked to your art sometimes. When you can't let go, you're constantly thinking it can be better, and you compare yourself to others. You compare your own work to your previous work, and you enter a cycle where it's just not fun anymore. I think that's the reason why I wasn't making music for so long–because I was so caught up in what I was going to do next. So, learning to let go of those expectations is a great piece of advice.

Listen to Trebles and Blues on SoundCloud:

Posted on May 22, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: Dark Waves

Photo by Scott León

Photo by Scott León

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician.
Dark Waves: I’m always writing. Always working on Dark Waves stuff. Constantly recording voice memos on my phone, making shitty demos at my house. I do sessions with different producers, but my main guys are Tommy English, Midoca, Colin Brittain and Yeti Beats. I’ve been doing some writing for other artists the last couple years, too, which has been really fun and refreshing to step out of myself and write music that I’m not so emotionally attached to.  The co-writing has been all over the place from BØRNS to Papa Roach to this crazy kinda evil hip hop meets early 80s thrash punk band called Ho99o9. It’s awesome getting to collab with other artists and see what their process is like.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
DW: The Lost Boys meets Lethal Weapon 2.

AM: What inspires you most?
DW: An incredible song, natural beauty, coffee and Seinfeld.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
DW: I love LA. It’s a relentless city. I feel really inspired by a lot of my friends here. I’m fortunate to have a crew of super talented friends that I get to write and work with. LA is a weird place. I think it’s a destination for people who want to get things done and make something of themselves, which means there’s a ton of incredible talent here and a lot of straight up delusional crazy people.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
DW: I feel like I write about love in one way or another most of the time.  Not just being in love or breaking up or whatever but my own personal struggle with relationships… Being drawn in other directions, craving something other than what I have. I feel like I’ve always questioned everything in my life, and love is one of those things. I think writing about it helps me process those feelings, and hopefully it can help someone else, too. I’ve been writing about growing up a lot recently, too. I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. There wasn’t a lot to do–I got in trouble a lot.

AM: What other music/artists are currently inspiring you?
DW: Midoca, Sun Drones, Nails, Popcaan, Skepta

AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self and your music?
DW: In my bed just before I fall asleep

AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
DW: Tough call. My grandfather told me, ‘We live in a society comprised of idiots. Take it in stride and don’t worry about them.’ He also said, ‘The minute you let your mind fall asleep, you’re shit outta luck.’  He’s about to be 93 and still works, goes to the horse track every Sunday and plays golf twice a week, so he’s doing something right. Not sure which is better advice–I’ll let the reader decide.

Listen to Dark Waves + his recent feature on Midoca's latest track on SoundCloud:

Posted on April 26, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: Emo Night LA

Photo by Leah Perrino

Photo by Leah Perrino

If you haven't heard of Emo Night, let us introduce you. The monthly event takes place the first Tuesday of the month–Taking Back Tuesday, as they call it–at the Echoplex. Entry is $5 at the door, and the money goes to charity (see below). The night consists of old school emo jams played by DJs and live musicians, an amazing crowd, drinking, dancing, screaming, and emo merch. It's one of my personal favorite events in LA. It allows me to relive my high school years and gives me another reason to bust out my favorite band tees. But more importantly, it gives me a chance to reflect on the music I grew up on, the music that influenced a lot of what I do, the music I still listen to alone in my car. And standing alongside others, shouting lyrics until my throat hurts, well, it's a pretty powerful experience. I caught up with founders Morgan Freed, Babs Szabo and T.J. Petracca to get the story. –Leah Perrino

Asymmetric Magazine: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Morgan Freed: My name is Morgan; I like eating trash and have a grill.
Babs Szabo: I'm Babs, and I'm obsessed with my cat and taking frequent trips to Joshua Tree. 
T.J. Petracca: I enjoy drinking coffee, drinking alcohol and answering emails. 

AM: How did the idea for Emo Night come about? 
MF: I think this is just something we always thought would be cool whenever we went out to bars or clubs. There are only so many times we can hear the same top 40 stuff that doesn't really mean anything to us. I mean, it’s cool, it’s just not something that changed our lives. TJ and Babs went to a karaoke bar in Palm Springs and sang Dashboard; I knew a dude up here at a bar. The rest is history.

AM: How would you describe Emo Night to someone who has never been?
MF: We get this a lot. You just have to go. It’s impossible to describe. Its like asking how to describe love. It’s different for every person, but I think the general consensus is that it’s bottom line the most fun you’ll have every month.
BS: The best night ever with the best community of people on the face of the earth listening to the best music.

AM: What challenges did you face when starting a monthly event in LA? 
MF: Well, we’re not promoters, so we had to kind of learn everything about that field extremely quickly. And we’re not DJ’s, so, same. We’re just fans of the music and have a thing that we want to do our own way. Following a formula that other nights use just doesn’t work for us, so we kind of made our own rules in that regard. Getting people to understand that and trust us was a bit of a challenge.
BS: We've faced quite a few challenges in the past, but the positive aspects of emo night outweigh the stress of that immensely.

AM: Can you tell us about the charities you guys contribute to?
MF: We usually let the [night's] guest DJ pick what they want to donate to. We’ve done everything from animals to substance abuse to buying hearing aids for kids.

AM: What's your all-time favorite emo jam?
MF: That's a tough one. Probably anything off of Saves the Day “Through Being Cool” or Jimmy Eat World “Clarity”.
BS: Anything off of Taking Back Sunday's "Tell All Your Friends," Yellowcard "Rough Draft" and The Used "Take It Away”
TP: Probably Dashboard Confessional "The Best Deceptions" or anything Brand New "Devil and God" era. 

AM: We've seen a lot of big names at Emo Night. Who's your dream artist to take the stage that hasn't already?
MF: I would love to see Chris Conley from Saves the Day do an acoustic set. I remember seeing him do that in Phoenix like 12 years ago, and it changed the way I viewed what a live show was supposed to be.
BS: My dream was to get Bert from The Used to Emo Night, and we accomplished that. I would love to see any of the members of Taking Back Sunday come through or Skrillex do a set as Sonny from From First to Last.
TP: Dashboard was the big one for me for sure. I’d love to have Brand New or Conor Oberst swing by.

AM: Congrats on celebrating your 1 year anniversary in December! What can we expect to see for Emo Night LA next?
MF: We tour weekly to different cities in America and even Canada. We’d love to cruise outside of North America and put together a festival. Turning this into a lifelong thing rather than just a year or two.
BS: We take it day by day and figure out next steps as we go. For me, I'd like to keep doing Emo Night as long as everyone is still having fun with it and finding meaning from it.

Emo Night is the first Tuesday of every month starting at 9pm at the Echoplex. You can find more info at emonightla.com

Posted on February 26, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: GeoTrip

Photos by Shan Shaikh

The Band:
Marcos Barba // Bass/Drums
Jonathan Rodriguez // Drums/Bass
Daryl Cummings // Guitar
Andrew Chavez // Guitar/Vocals/Synth

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a band.
GeoTrip: As of late, our focus has been on songwriting and rehearsing with plans to record an EP soon. We also just played our first show in December, 2015 and have a few more shows lined up for early 2016.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
GT: The music is experimental/indie rock with progressive and psychedelic touches. Given that we all have a pretty wide set of musical influences, ranging from hip-hop and jazz to electronic and rock we like to incorporate elements from these genres into our music.

AM: What musicians are currently inspiring you?
GT: We have an eclectic taste in music, but, for the sake of brevity, we each chose three of our favorite artists in no particular order.
Jonathan: Depeche Mode, Interpol, Flea
Marcos: The Smiths, Radiohead, Flying Lotus
Andrew: The Velvet Teen, The Drums, Mac Demarco
Daryl: Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, The Mars Volta

AM: What inspires you most?
GT: I think we’re all inspired by our love of music. Whether it's perfecting our craft and getting better at our instruments or being able to express ourselves through songwriting and lyrics, it all boils down to a passion for music and creative expression that inspires us to continue being in a band, in spite of all the challenges. Also, we're all really inspired by each other and by the encouragement and support we've been getting from people who've watched our shows.

AM: So, you guys rotate instruments? 
GT: Yeah, we do rotate instruments. Our rhythm section rotates between drums and bass, and our guitarist, Andrew, also switches over to synth from time to time. Its all a very fluid process for us; we're comfortable enough to switch instruments and explore each other's strengths and complexities. I think it speaks to our fondness for experimenting, and we're looking to have even more switches on our upcoming songs. We're a small band that goes for a big sound, and we just try to have fun with it. 

AM: How'd you land on the name "GeoTrip"?
GT: The original usage of the word "geotrip" was something one of our friends used as a name for the geology field trips he went on for school. For some reason, the name just struck a chord with us. It sounded cool, and to us, it represents the conscious experience of life on Earth.   

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
GT: We were all born and raised in Los Angeles and are really proud to have spent our whole lives in a city that really values progressive ideas and artistic expression. Los Angeles has a strong connection with its artists and that connection is strong in us, as well. It’s nice to have so many different venues so close by to experience live music and no shortage of people who are passionate about art and music.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
GT: Lyrically, we like to keep things subtle and sometimes cryptic. However, there are definitely themes about growing up, love and identity. Musically, there’s a definitely a shared interest among all of us to make music that is interesting and experimental but not overly complicated. We believe the golden ratio in music is balancing familiarity and surprise.

AM: Tell us a real life experience you had that impacted your work.
GT: Well, our first real project together was scoring a film called Balloon Girl. Before then, we were just a band that jammed in the garage from time to time. Doing that project as a band really brought us closer together, and GeoTrip sort of just took off from there.

AM: Whats the best advice you’ve ever received?
GT: "In this line of work, no matter who or what is in front of you... Be it a producer, a loving crowd, an empty room, a microphone ready to record you, or any situation or experience, what should always stay the same is that each and every opportunity you get, the most important thing is that you get out there and do what you do. Cause at the end of every show that's what it's all about... The experience of a show is an experience for musicians as much as it is for the crowd they play for. So experience it, grow from it, that's how you'll ever get anywhere..."

Listen to GeoTrip on SoundCloud:

Posted on January 23, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: Lostboycrow

Photo by Matt Colwell

Photo by Matt Colwell

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your EP "Sigh For Me". How does it compare to your other work?
Lostboycrow: I think it’s a new expression of where I want to be musically and also a little bit more of a specific storyline. That’s why these songs came together as an EP. It’s about where I am and where I’m headed.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
LBC: Intellectual, dance, and R&B are three words that pop in to my head. It’s sad and sexy; I want to make people dance and cry.

AM: What inspires you most?
LBC: Real people with real emotions. It’s all about finding inspiration in the little moments and magnifying those moments into a bigger picture.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
LBC: Everything. Lostboycrow was born here. It’s where I call home. The people I’ve shared the stage with and places I’ve been able to see. I’ve definitely defined who I am and where I’m headed. LA is my birthplace as an artist and home in the truest sense as Lostboycrow.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
LBC: I’m a storyteller by trade. Could be mine, could be someone else’s, but it’s my job to be a journalist for the soul. I try and tell what’s out there and ask the questions. I don’t want to act like I have the answers, but I want to sing the questions and make people think. I always want to have both sadness and happiness in my music. We’re all caught in the middle of those two emotions, and music is how we deal with that.

AM: What other music/artists are currently inspiring you?
LBC: Chance The Rapper, as an artist, as a performer, as a poet. He’s a prime example of, 'if you do you to the fullest, people won't fuck with you'. Lots of Jon Waltz. The Game. Smino. Halsey. Skizzy.

AM: In addition to your music, we love your visuals. How does that parallel your sound?
LBC: It’s a little mysterious. It’s hopefully inviting, and as I always say with the wings that I put on a lot of my pictures, it’s a reminder to everyone, myself included, that you can always be a bigger and better version of yourself.

AM: What's the best advice you've ever received?
LBC: “If you don’t fuck with you, no one else will.”

Listen to Lost Boy Crow's EP Sigh For Me on SoundCloud:

Posted on January 14, 2016 .

Music Spotlight: Cal Zafiro

Photo + interview by Leah Perrino

Photo + interview by Leah Perrino

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current work as a musician.
Cal Zafiro: I’ve been collaborating with local musicians and producers to develop my sound for an EP. I write music every day, so it’s just about planning my next move.

AM: How would you best describe your sound?
CZ: It’s electronic pop, but it’s cinematic and dark. There’s a lot of melancholy in my melodies, yet it’s still hopeful and catchy.

AM: What inspires you most?
CZ: Torture, I guess–things I want for the future and things I’ve lost in the past. Sometimes I think I have enough memories to write songs for the rest of my life. That sounds foolish at 24, but it’s true. When I lose my muse, I ride my bike to the ocean–I think it helps to remember how small we are.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
CZ: I moved here because I wanted to write songs for other artists, so LA was the place to be. It’s exciting because everything a person would need to have a successful career is within a 20 mile radius. It’s motivating, but it’s elusive.

AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
CZ: My concept is essentially a neo-lone ranger: identity, devotion, and abandonment. It’s all about raw feelings from real experiences. ‘Emotional honesty’ sums it up.

AM: Tell us a real life experience you had that impacted your work.
CZ: Everything has an impact. Like with my song “Chlorine,” for example. When I was younger, my friends and I would sneak into pools on summer nights to swim. And as I got older, I found a metaphor between relationships and drowning. Everything carries over creatively...Eventually.

AM: What other music is currently inspiring you?
CZ: Grimes, Blood Orange, Lana Del Rey, Eminem, and Bruce Springsteen. Also, to be honest, I can’t stop listening to Skrillex and Diplo’s new project. I love how they featured an unexpected vocalist [Justin Bieber]. I’m really inspired by collaborations that work that well.

AM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
CZ: Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Listen to Chlorine (produced by Midoca) on SoundCloud:

Posted on October 20, 2015 .