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FEELS LIKE...

Ladies and gentlemen, FEELS II is in the books. Much love and many thanks to all the folks involved in bringing our first art and music festival to reality. Bringing together a host of musical artists, from Kool A.D., Teebs and Kreayshawn, to visual artists like Ryan Rocha, Bud Snow and more, FEELS II was one to remember.

TTFN – “ABOUT ME/ROLLERBLADES”

Hawaiian trio Tigers From Niger are ready to take their sound to the mainland and beyond

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aunnamed (1)

It’s not every day you’re introduced to teenagers in Hawaii making slowed-down, sped up melodic jams. Known to their fans as TTFN, or more specifically, the Tigers From Niger, Paris Gray, Kaylee Smith and Jon Smith came together to create music a few years ago, and have since stayed consistent and honed in on their sound. Natives of Hawaii, the group originally came together in the precious hours of the day, ditching school to go drive around in the car, freestyling to beats Jon had made. In the process, the crew formed, creativity flowed, and eventually some organization and execution. Creating all their songs using real instruments and software, the group is readying their initial sonic offering in the form of their debut EP Same Time, Same Place. Chill on their latest single, “About Me/Rollerblades” and stay up with their releases at their Soundcloud page.

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NATURAL ELEMENTS

Alice Pennes puts watercolor on paper to create vibrant pieces inspired by the natural world

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H-HR

As usual, it was a by chance occurrence that brought us together. A photo job assisting the talented Lauren Crew had brought us into the rolling hills of the Wine Country. On assignment to photograph winemakers and their vineyards, Lauren and I traveled to the doorsteps of Phil Coturri. He welcomed us to his sprawling vineyard, known to enthusiasts as Winery Sixteen 600. Lauren photographed him amongst his grapes as the sun set in the background. It was beautiful.

A serendipitous moment came a bit later. Walking back to the house after an hour of shooting, I noticed a woman, who later introduced herself as Alice, sitting in the back yard deck. As I passed by I greeted her, only to notice the vibrant colors lying inside a sketchbook nearby. I assumed it was hers. Colorful shapes juxtaposed against natural elements made each page stand out from the last. We promised to link back up to share her work with more folks, so here we are. A talented arts educator and holistic creativity coach, Alice spoke to us about her subjects and their meaning.

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UP ALL NIGHT

Zine press and street photo collective Nighted celebrates the release of their sixth anthology

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Nighted

Two years ago, I moved back to the Bay from LA. Coming back home can mean lot of things, but for me, coming back at 23 instead of 18 included taking stock of all the cool shit that had happened since I left. At first glance, it was easy to feel like an unusual amount of cool, creative shit had been popping up in Oakland while I was gone. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious to me that that ground-level creative bubbling–from art shows to zines to weird music–has been pretty consistent since I was a kid. Maybe the climate in Oakland and SF these days offers fuzzier lines than ever between skate culture, punk, rap, rave, and “serious” art. More likely though, tall tee/Killa Season Will just wasn’t really plugged in to quite as much shit back in ’07.

Sometime around then, in early 2012, Nick Garcia was making a pivot from the graffiti game into indie print publishing. With a new daughter around, Nick decided to rein in the later, weirder nights, in favor of being a cool dad. Still though, Garcia felt like there were stories he needed to tell, from himself and others. Pooling some resources with other shooters–most of them leaning toward gritty, street-level stuff–Nick created NIGHTED Life #1, an anthology of photos and stories, capturing moments both grimy and glorious with a curator’s sensibility. From weird drugs to street carnage to more subtle, cheeky juxtapositions, Nighted’s output balanced a no-frills, limited-fuck-giving approach with a firm dedication to giving unheralded but deserving shooters a platform to do their thing.

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HEY MOMMA

David Singer-Vine and Felix Snow link for an ambitious, sultry suite of modern pop

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Momma

Earlier this year, Pigeons & Planes ran a pretty excellent story on David Singer-Vine. Fresh off dipping to Shanghai on an extended hiatus, David dug deep into his own backstory, from “Blueberry Afghani” to “Little Devil”. And though the article focused pretty heavily on looking back, it also provided an optimistic look at the shape of things to come in his music, with David in transition but penning new material, bridging the gap between syrupy, autotuned pop-R&B and more personal songwriting ambitions. Towards the end, there’s a quick mention of T-Pain and Elliott Smith as primary source material.

Momma, a collaborative effort with LA-based producer Felix Snow, finds those ideas beginning to fully crystallize. Snow, who provided some of the gorgeous, twinkly tracks that launched SZA’s star into TDE territory, gives David a canvas to let his best ideas stretch out into space. Smothered in icy, shimmery synths, autotuned oohs and aahs, and a heavy layer of horny desperation, the four tracks the pair is premiering as Momma are built for repeated listens, and showcase songwriting that’s both hooky and ambitious in its scope.

Some ideas work better than others here, but it’s that ambition that pushes these songs over the top. “Maybe”, anchored by slinky synth plucks, turns a straight forward come-on into psychedelic sprawl. Elswhere, “Ashes” pairs “Kill My Vibe” guitar strums with chipmunk soul, while “Money” dips into 808s-style gothic synth choirs. Each of these songs is a fully formed idea, taking a playful concept (say, trying to fuck) and building it into something big and immersive. Naturally, it fits in somewhere between “In Luv wit a Stripper” and Either/Or–the kind of space where the distinction between bubblegum and “serious” music starts to break down. Peep the video, directed by our good friend Aris Jerome, below, and spend some time with the EP here.

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FIVE & DIMIN’

Meet Amanda Yee, an Oakland-based chef building community through dinner parties

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Uniting her love of food with her passion for community, Amanda Yee is no newcomer to the culinary realm. Originally introduced to cooking at the age of three, Amanda graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, after finishing her undergraduate degree at Westmont College. Aiming to create a space where community and food intersect, Five & Dime is Amanda’s iteration of a curated dinner party. With prices and theme on a sliding scale, each dinner Five & Dime puts on is centered around a different concept and vibe.

“It’s about re-creating and reinterpreting the in-home dinner experience,” said Amanda when asked about the project. Dinners called Creatives Digestives are geared towards the artistic community, centering the meal (and discussion) around local artists and their work. Meanwhile, Donation Based Meals hit folks with a sliding price point, making gourmet meals more accessible to the masses. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Amanda and chat a little bit about her ambitions for Five & Dime, her inspirations, and some humble culinary beginnings.

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OVER THE RAINBOW

Chris Ritson brings a psychedelic set of sculptures to B4BEL4B

Chris Ritson

If you’ve had a chance to spend a night inside the walls of B4BEL4B, you have an idea of what to expect with this one. On the right night, stepping inside can feel like dipping your toes into an alternate universe, or at least a very cool corner of Oakland’s experimental arts scene. In September, Hawa’s MAS#ALLAH residency put a spotlight on emerging voices in a global community of Middle Eastern artists. Then, in October, B4BEL4B teamed up with art-and-tech powerhouse Codame for a hyper-futurist visual feast with Ephemeral Vessels.

This month, they’ll be hosting work from Honolulu-based artist Chris Ritson, whose 3-D work combines traditional sculpture with bismuth crystal, combining natural, organic processes with his own artistic intention with stunning results. As Chris puts it himself, Chris’ work “serves to create dialogue with the environment and imagine new roles and modes of interacting with nature,” allowing his pieces to “speak to our cultural anxieties and relationships with nature, analyzing the myths and prerogatives specific to a psychology of the self.” Visually, we’re talking vivid, kaleidoscopic color blooming out of pristine white sculptures, creating a contrast you can’t help but be drawn in by. The show, Over the Rainbow, opens this Friday. Details here and here, and some work below.

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LES SINS TAKES OVER 1015

Chaz debuts his latest dance-friendly suite on stage in SF tomorrow night

LES SINS TAKES OVER 1015

Les Sins

OK, time to work it out tomorrow night. A few years into his Berkeley residency, Chaz Bundick just dropped his first release since early 2013’s Anything in Return, returning under the Les Sins moniker for a mostly instrumental, heavy groove affair called simply Michael. As he’s spoken on in interviews, Les Sins has served so far as an outlet for experimental, house-leaning work, as opposed to vocal-driven pop and R&B.

While the differences are there, the line’s always a little fuzzy. Michael, heavy on squelchy analog synth and punchy, cut-and-pasted vocal blips, feels very much of a piece with Anything in Return‘s uptempo future disco cuts, like say, the “Rose Quartz”-“Touch” arc that makes up the heart of the album’s first half. Aside from infectious outliers like “Why” though, “Michael” is a touch weirder and more immersive. Building on the singles he dropped last year for Caribou’s Jiaolong imprint, Michael‘s 11 tracks are laced with glitchy, stutter-step percussion, MBDTF-Yeezus walls of sound, and deep house workouts. Lighter, playful moments are offset by absolute scene-stealers, like the towering crescendo on “Bother” or the gorgeous build up of closer “Do Right”.

In any case, it’s the kind of stuff that’s bound to translate well to a room full of sweaty bodies. And tomorrow, Chaz and a small ensemble will hit the stage in the city, along with LA beat scene god Nosaj Thing, thanks to Dials and the good folks at 1015. Advance tickets are still available for a very reasonable $20 here. See y’all out there.

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HIGHER AND HIGHER

From hometown heroine to international soul star, Goapele's still expanding her horizons

HIGHER AND HIGHER

Goapele

Boom, boom-clack, boom…clack. It was sometime around ’03 and “Closer” had every car thumping with those drums. My mom would drop me off at school to it and my boyfriend would pick me up with it slapping in the trunk. It felt like “Closer” was on every radio station, from rap radio to quiet storm to Top 40 countdowns, as the Bay watched Goapele rise to stardom off a song that defied genre or target audience. But that’s the Bay, am I right? Only an Oakland native, half-Jewish, half-South African songstress could lace her sultry vibes with slap so hard that it could soundtrack side shows and emotional romantic comedy scenes alike. It was the early 2000’s and Goapele had blessed the Bay.

In the years since, she’s cut her locks, expanded her musical repertoire, toured the nation numerous times, and raised a daughter, all while managing to drop another four albums, including this fall’s Strong as Glass. Goapele’s latest finds her making a few departures from earlier work, with occasional nods to more traditional piano-driven ballads and sleek disco-pop. Still though, this is a Goapele project through and through, textured, immersive R&B with a forward-thinking approach. This month she’ll debut that new material live, kicking off a multi-city tour that starts in NY tonight, stops off at the El Rey in LA, and wraps up with a host of shows at Yoshi’s in Downtown Oakland. But in the meantime, I had the chance to catch up with her about the new album, her relationship with the Bay, and her intentions for creating community around her art.

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OSØ INVENTED THE REMIX

Our good friend Otto puts a psychedelic touch on the hits you know and love

Otto

If you haven’t zoned the fuck out for like an hour on Otto’s Soundcloud before, I’m pretty sure you’re actually using the website wrong. Local king of the woozy, slow-mo mega-sprawl, and the hypnotic, jazzy, off-kilter rhythms, our friend OSØ has put the full-length projects on pause lately, but has still been letting out a steady trickle of high-potency remixes over the last few months. From “2 On” to “Only That Real” to “Tuesday”, he’s been hijacking radio staples and dunking them in Actavis with optimal psychedelic results. Peep the selection below, but please believe, we’ll be hearing more from him soon. Plus you can dig into the archives here.

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BLACK RADICAL IMAGINATION AT YBCA

A celebration of futurism, surrealism, and cutting-edge black cinema

Black Radical Imagination

When we first met Erin Christovale, she was busy organizing a brilliant series of L.A. art events and happenings with the Native Thinghood collective. Harnessing the creative energy of a core of young artists, Thinghood wrapped avant garde impulses in an approachable vibe, mostly due to the great folks behind it. Fast forward a few years, and Erin has been at work, along with co-curator Amir George, in creating community around forward-thinking black cinema. With Black Radical Imagination, Erin and Amir have created a touring forum to celebrate the tradition of afro-futurism and afro-surrealism, and the filmmakers carrying the torch today. Under that banner, BRI has held screenings, gallery events, and panel discussions with a who’s who of up-and-coming film visionaries.

This week, Black Radical Imagination has set up shop at SF’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for their half of a two-part exhibition New Black Cinema X 2. Showcasing a program of short works, this installment of BRI will feature contributions from directors Jeanette Ehlers, Lewis Vaughn, Sanford Biggers, Lauren Kelley, Ephraim Asili, and Vashti Harrison, and Terence Nance, director of 2012’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty–each offering work that’s “radical” or experimental in some sense, from non-traditional narrative to surrealist imagery. Honestly, can’t recommend this one enough. Grab tickets here, and we’ll catch you out there tomorrow night at 6.

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WELCOME TO NATURE WORLD

Antwon, Andy, Andre, and the Nature gang are keeping the streets flooded

WELCOME TO NATURE WORLD

Nature World

A wise man once told me that everybody needs a team out here in these streets. And while multiple eras of major label supercrew budgets are now ancient history, the ground level DIY collectives–at least in some corners of the world and/or interwebs–are still in thrive mode. Case in point: the small family of Bay-based rapping-DJing-producing people known as Nature World.

Most prominently, Antwon’s been putting in work to secure a place as one of the most consistent left-field rappers out, parlaying mass blog love into major looks, from Pitchfork premiers to national tours. Meanwhile though, Sad Andy, Andre, Nanosaur, and the squad have been dropping off some extremely solid material, including Andre’s full-length His Majesty Obscured. Add in a Twon/Depressed Teenager remixes album, some autotune-soaked Andy one-offs, and a surge in internationally-circulated merch, and it’s been a fruitful ass month or two for Nature. Below are some highlights.

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KEITH HARING AT THE DE YOUNG

San Francisco welcomes politically charged, vibrant works from the '80s icon this November

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Keith Haring

We all love Keith for what he did for his generation, and the ones to come. The vibrancy, the color, the messages–it all came together to create a timeless aesthetic that remains relevant today. Internationally recognized as one of the dopest of his era, Keith Haring’s work has been shown the world over. Starting next Friday, a massive retrospective will bless the walls of San Francisco’s de Young Fine Arts Museum, giving Keith fans the chance to see a wide selection of rare and celebrated works.

Entitled The Political Line, the exhibition will feature more than 130 works of art, including large scale paintings (on tarpaulins and canvases), sculptures, and a number of the Haring’s early ’80s subway drawings, among other works. The Political Line opens November 8 at the de Young.

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