For the last half decade, Aris Jerome has been directing videos for Bay artists from Kreayshawn to Starting Six to Iamsu. More recently though, he’s made the transition to stunning portrait photography, capturing bad ones and superstars in their element. We talked to Aris about his successful transition, and where he’ll go next.
Curator Gabby Bess takes an expert eye to curating Illuminati Girl Gang, a publication dedicated to showcasing the female perspective in the arts, poetry and literature. We took a look inside, with work from a few of the talented ladies featured in the third installment of our new favorite zine.
For the last few years, Oakland native Pendarvis Harshaw has been engaged in an ongoing photographic essay that asks the city’s elders to impart some wisdom. From luminaries like Bill Russell to everyday strangers on the bus, OG Told Me offers a portrait of Oakland’s elder generation and the stories they have to tell.
Fusing her powerful voice with avant-garde club sounds from producers like Nguzunguzu and Kingdom, Kelela is carving out her own space at the vanguard of pop music. In the wake of her gorgeous debut, Cut 4 Me, we sat down with the songstress to talk about her journey so far.
Mixed-media artist Leo Eguiarte takes on a journey into a vibrant but troubling future, with his latest collection, Synthetic Dream. Painting his imagery directly onto circuit boards, Eguiarte also opens up a dialogue about the modern condition, and about where our collective relationship with technology might be taking us.
This past Thursday felt very close to the vision and much closer to where we’d like to take it. As we mentioned before the start of the film, part of our goal is to celebrate culture, while facilitating community. That’s what the screenings are for. Many thanks to Max and Ari of Oakland Surf Club for providing us the space to hold our screenings. Check them out if you haven’t already. Also, equal amounts of love go to Galen and Michelle of United Roots Center for providing screening equipment for the film. Very thankful for ya’ll. To those that stepped inside the gallery for Cocaine Cowboys, thanks for being a lil’ adventurous with your Thursday night. Many more of these to come.
Wanted to state the message above to give thanks, but also to segue into this piece by mixed-media artist William Child. Retelling the rise of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar through the medium of animated papier mâché, Child has created a history lesson well-primed for the Youtube generation. Utilizing archival footage alongside astounding narration, Child’s El Patron is a five-minute masterpiece. Along with the animation, Child’s creations are also the basis for a full-colour hardcover book, telling the story on paper, as well as on-screen, and providing artistic insight into one of the world’s most notorious criminals.
Lending clever visual commentaries on humanity’s ever-growing fixation on material wealth, mixed-media artist Leo Eguiarte creates colorful pieces that speak to the stranger realities of our modern condition. Painted directly onto circuit boards, the works featured in Leo’s 2013 collection Synthetic Dream come to life through vibrant imagery and a focus on the celestial.
Speaking on his own work, Leo states, “Synthetic Dream addresses issues of perceived power and its consolidation by a selected minority.” Through this lens, the meaning behind some of these works comes through; take Misfortune, which relates this idea through imagery of the world falling into the hands of a hooded, puppeteer-like figure. Elsewhere, Eguiarte’s surreal landscapes recall the dystopian worlds of classic sci-fi films, hinting at the future we might be facing. “As an artist, I feel that it is my responsibility to document my surroundings and to invite commentary that addresses critical issues affecting humanity and our ecosystem,” stated Leo when reflecting upon his work. With the 20+ pieces that make up Synthetic Dream, Leo hopes to empower the viewer to consider alternative choices for the ways in which we interact with and participate in the world. As he puts it, “to encourage a constantly evolving perspective while reminding us of a shared existence.”
To this day, I can still remember seeing the video for “Tell Me When To Go” premier on MTV. It was 2006, and the Hyphy movement was on the up and up. I was 13 years old, and watching a bunch of people going dumb in the abandoned but iconic train station in West Oakland was just about the tightest shit I had ever seen on television. As me and my brother watched from our basement, I felt pride and euphoria. This was something big and exciting, and it came from the Bay Area. Seven years later, to say things have changed would be an understatement. Thizz has given way to molly, baggy Girbauds have been replaced by skinny jeans, and a couple of big name rappers mentioned Mac Dre on their records or something. But more importantly, the Hyphy movement has been reincarnated and now it has the potential to go even further.
No one embodies the spirit and potential of the new Bay better than Richmond native IAMSU!. First gaining attention locally and then nationwide as the standout on LoveRance’s 2011 hit “Up”, Su has since been a part of a string of hits and has released a handful of strong mixtapes, including the HBK Gang compilation tape Gang Forever, released last month.
Many elements of Hyphy-era sound and energy can still be found in the music of Su and the rest of HBK. The aggressive synth lines of Rick Rock and the minimalist percussion of Young L have been borrowed from and expanded on by folks like DJ Mustard and The Invasion; and while “turn up” might be a more common phrase than “go dumb” these days, folks out here still dance more or less the same. In person, Su is just as lively and energetic as his music. Over pizza at his local Round Table, we discussed his beginnings, Hyphy’s wide-ranging impact, and his newfound leadership role.
Though we’re just getting rolling with the film screenings, I feel like we have a pretty good idea of where we want to take it. In my humble, the best documentaries are the ones that stretch out your imagination, that in a sense, make your world a little more expansive. The first time I saw Billy Corben’s Cocaine Cowboys–undoubtedly smoked out on Max’s couch in Culver City–my sense of possibility in the universe got just slightly wider. I understood, for example, how damn near an entire U.S. metro area could be built on drug traffic. I even had a vague idea of what it might be like to smuggle a few hundred kilos into the port of Miami in a speedboat. This wasn’t Johnny Depp in Blow. This was a set of events that actually happened. And for that reason alone, it was pretty powerful.
In the seven years since its release, Cocaine Cowboys has earned the title of cult classic for it’s gritty, unrelenting portrait of the rise of cocaine in America during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Centered on Miami, Cowboys pairs archival footage with in-person interviews–with traffickers, users and enforcers alike–exploring a massive shift in culture through the eyes of those who were there to witness it firsthand. From the glitzy days of disco to the devastating wave of violence that rocked Miami in the early ’80s, Cocaine Cowboys builds its narrative arc in unflinching detail, putting an era in perspective for those of us born a little further down the road.
This Thursday, we’ll be bringing Cocaine Cowboys to Oakland Surf Club for an intimate screening. In the months to come, along with new, rarely seen films, we’ll be screening older favorites like Cowboys, in an effort to celebrate film and bring folks together. For Thursday, grab some beers, tell a friend, and come through. Should be a good time. Oh, and peep the trailer after the MORE.
In the age of the Instagram-filtered selfie, artist Erin M. Riley aims to provide a new lens on the trending phenomenon–by reproducing said images as loom-woven tapestries. After happening upon weaving while in art school, Riley cultivated a style all her own in an underpopulated medium. Erin has explained the subject matter of her work as the kind of images you might see through Snapchat, or the type you might delete after a hookup. In a recent interview with Arrested Motion she explains, “I try to take pictures of the condoms after I have sex, the pictures I send to people, pictures of tables at parties, substances and liquids that change the course of events.” Riley notes that the act of weaving allows for moments to become permanent, when they might otherwise be disregarded or shamefully deleted.
Arguably the most intriguing element of Riley’s work is the contrast between subject and medium. While tapestry weavings tend to be associated more with blankets, rugs, and grandmas, Riley allows for these associations to compound meaning in her work. “Tapestry allows images to be given more time, for hookups to gel, for mistakes to be thought over, it’s a way to over-analyze every detail.” And she’s absolutely right. Looking over her work, it’s hard not to become entranced when considering the time she had to have dedicated to every stitch, hunched over a loom to produce a crotch shot or a Hello Kitty glass pipe. With these pieces the Philly-based artist effortlessly opens up the opportunity for dense and meaningful dialogue surrounding the provocative content of her work. Or you can just sit back in awe or giggle. Either way, these tapestries are worth a look. Check out some of her pieces below or check here for her full collection.
Just a little summit between great personalities for a Thursday evening. Nothing too heavy. For the folks like me that’ve spent some quality time with the A$AP/Danny and A$AP/Schoolboy joint interviews, or the legendary Riff Raff/Nardwuar, we all know good things can happen when conversations like this one get started. Weed gets passed around, people say goofy shit, and we all scoop up some YouTube gold. Over the last couple years, there haven’t been many folks in hip-hop quite as compelling as Rocky and Jody, so if they don’t feel special already, I’m pretty sure interviews like these will only appreciate with time. In any case, there’s some jokes, some flows, and even a Yams appearance. Burn something and enjoy. Part II after the MORE.
Walking into Audium is like stepping into the belly of a modernist UFO, the kind you’d expect to see flying haphazardly across the screen of some retro sci-fi movie with a nylon string attached. Time seems to come to an utter standstill in this “theatre of soundsculptured space,” located in an indiscriminate wood-paneled building on Bush Street in San Francisco. The theatre is pretty intimate; there’s room for no more than 50 people or so. But what Audium lacks in seating capacity it makes up for in noise: more than 160 speakers are installed strategically throughout the theatre. They hang suspended from the ceiling in varying geometric shapes and sizes, cover the floors and sloping walls, and resonate from the far corners of the room.
Stan Shaff, Audium’s composer and cocreator, has been warping aural identities and turning patrons’ senses completely on their heads since the 1960s. His manipulation of sound — in intensity, volume and location–carries listeners out of their bodies and into the vibrations themselves. Here’s the catch: the whole thing is in pitch-blackness. The type of all-consuming dark that makes it easy to forget you’re attached to the rest of your body. It’s jarring at first; the sound of hooves thundering around the room made me feel like a stampede was running laps around the inside of my skull. But before long, I was on another plane, feeling rooted to nothing but the miscellany of noise swirling over, under and around me.
While everyone’s experience is different–for some the darkness is too overwhelming–Shaff thinks sound and memories go hand-in-hand. I haven’t heard the roar of a thunderstorm since I moved to the Bay Area a year ago. But for a few seemingly eternal minutes, I was back on the porch of my childhood home on the East Coast. The balmy, humid sensation of watching a summer storm billow in lingered with me long after the show was over. Shaff does next to no advertising, but audiences keep coming every Friday and Saturday evening to be left alone to the doings of their synapses in the aural void. After my conversation with Stan a few weeks ago, it was easy to see why.
Nightcap was memorable for the quality not the quantity. Heads were in the building for Nightcap. Famous faces and soon to be famous faces mingling in harmony. It’s really what it’s all about. I told you, Wine & Bowties party pics will be the best “before they were stars” archives. Mark my words.
Juan G, Bobby Peru and Yung_smh blessed the tables to put on one of the more eclectic listening experiences we’ve had. And while the underground has been our go-to for the Summer, please believe we’ve got more up our sleeve. We’re just trying to bring all the creatives together. The people who put faith into their dreams and see the world how it could be rather than merely the way it is. If we can bring together all the like minded spirits, who knows how far we can take it? Shout out to Morgan for bringing her crew through, and to all the dope folks that are, and have been supporting Wine & Bowties. We do it all for you.
Another day, another dope ass Dev Hynes creation gracing my screen. Dev, whether under the guise of Blood Orange, or as the mastermind behind some of the warmest, cleverest indie pop and R&B in recent memory, has been busy these last couple years. And whether or not the folks listening always realize who’s behind it all, he’s already had a pretty substantial impact on modern pop, from Solange to Sky Ferreira to Theophilus and beyond.
The visual for “Chamakay”, featuring a supremely dipped Dev gigging his way through Georgetown, Guyana, seems pretty emblematic; suffice to say, Dev is doing his thing right now. Speaking on the video, Dev said, “I decided to visit Georgetown, Guyana for the first time, the town where my mother is from. She, herself has not been back for 30 years, three years before I was born. I tracked down family members, including my 92 year-old grandfather, who I had never met before. In this video you will see our first ever meeting.” Given the context, the whole thing is pretty representative of the things Dev does best. Yes, it’s visually gorgeous, and the song–all airy texture and vibey percussion–is beautiful too. But it’s also from a deeply personal, resonant place. More from Dev, sooner rather than later.
For art curator Trevor Parham, combining his relationship with art and Oakland is both natural and intentional. After growing up in The Town, Trevor moved across the country to study art at UPenn and, soon after building up his creative bars and graduating, set up shop back at home in 2006. Since, he has become immersed in the local art world, positioning himself as a contributor in an array of roles including artist, curator, artist manager, consultant, and gallery manager alike.
Trevor’s unique perspective on the current climate of art culture in Oakland directly informs his latest exhibit, Town Business: State of the Art Hustle, opening at Warehouse 416 this Saturday. Examining the relationship between art and economics in a changing city, the show will run through mid-October, featuring art from a wide range of East Bay creatives spanning the visual art spectrum, including photographer Lauren Crew, graphic artist Ralph Carlile Browne, and even yours truly. “It’s not only a developing city, it’s Oakland,” Trevor says, “It has a specific flavor and a specific way of doing things. And now we have all this business and economic growth. So like, what’s the child of that? How does the art fit in with that?”
I’ll never forget the day I bought my first surfboard. I had been talking with Tiago at my old apartment in Culver City when he said with his typically irrepressible enthusiasm, “Bro! I found you a surfboard, bro! Fifty Dollars. Let’s go!” On July 1st, 2010 I paddled out for the first time.
A year later, Max told me that surfing had changed my life. I never really thought about it. I always just felt how much I loved “tapping the source” as the grimy surf author Kem Nunn would call it. He was right, however, it had transformed me. Physically. Spiritually. Emotionally. I may sound like I’m the stereotypical surf dude, but what I’ve learned from surfing has crossed over into my life on dry land. It may seem like surfing was brought into my life by an enthusiastic friend; like I had simply been introduced to the sport and that’s all that was needed. In truth, however, hobbies don’t form that way. Much of what goes into people’s interests is a result of experience, and my foray into surfing had been slowly brewing over decades.
Back when Kurt Vile‘s album dropped earlier this year, I wrote a piece about how certain music just eases into a groove with my basic temperament. You know the songs I mean. Not the kind of stuff you’d call “fun” or “interesting”. There’s just some shit that seems to vibrate right at your resonant frequency. “Neptune Estate” sounds like somewhere I wanna stay for a while. It’s pretty and gritty and cosmic and positively fucking opiatic. Cast-iron breakbeat and monotonous loop. Intense longing. Dilla horns and grungy melody. It’s like a lo-fi “Fall In Love”. For lack of a better explanation, it’s just my shit right now.
“Neptune Estate” is, of course, yet another startling confirmation of the promise young Archy Marshall, better known as King Krule, represents. And fortunately, it’s one of many highlights on a debut that quietly justifies all the hype. In that regard, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon actually feels a little like a companion piece to Earl’s Doris–a subtly self-assured statement from an preternaturally precocious young dude. 6 Feet establishes an even, anesthetic tone, balancing out the sparse guitar/snarl dynamic of early favorites like “Out Getting Ribs” or “Easy Easy” (peep after the MORE too) with somber jazz chords and dusty, trip-hoppy, drum programming. It’s a satisfying, moody little album, optimal for a settled, reflective listening experience. In other words, if “Neptune Estate” pulls you in like it did me, 6 Feet is well worth getting lost in.
What does it mean to be a photographer these days, when everyone has a Nikon and Instagram has made everyone into an amateur shooter? Well, first and foremost, devotion and understanding of one’s craft is what distinguishes amateurs from professionals, and in that sense, LA-based photographer Sequoia Ziff is a true professional. As the in-house photographer for apparel and accessory company Della and with works featured in Urban Outfitters and Vogue Italia, Sequoia has developed a portfolio of portraits that speaks to her dedication to the craft. Snapping candid, intimate portraits of her subjects, her work hints at an admiration for legends like Annie Lebowitz and Helmut Newton, capturing something essential about each of the people she shoots.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Sequoia for an upcoming W&B profile on R&B and house vocalist Kelela Mizanekristos, and needless to say, she killed it. Since then, I’d been eager to sit down with Sequoia to learn more about her love of photography and her inspirations. Check out our conversation, and more from Sequoia, below.
It’s hard to think of a rapper/producer combo in recent years that compliment each other as well as Gary, Indiana native Freddie Gibbs and Oxnard, CA legend Madlib. Maybe Lil B and Clams Casino? Keef and Young Chop? Or, if those pairings aren’t really your cup of lean, El-P and Killer Mike? Whatever your preference, it’s clear that MadGibbs is a team that works well–so well that I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that Piñata is the album I’m most looking forward to in the coming year.
Their latest track, “Deeper”, could really be considered something like a “Shame” Pt. II, but this time, instead of kicking hoes to the curb, Gangsta Gibbs flips the coin and gets a little sentimental. Over a typically nostalgic Madlib instrumental, Gibbs gets heated at his old thing for fucking with square dudes, self-consciously asserts that the only difference between him and her new man is that the other guy is “trying to be a fuckin’ astronaut”, and reminisces about finger-fucking her on the bus while singing Usher. All in all, exactly the type of mainey lines and imagery that we’ve come to expect from Gibbs. The duo is slated to continue teasing us with the Deeper EP out on September 24th. Piñata should reach our ears on February 4th.