This Friday, we’re juiced to bring you a collaborative, 12-artist group show at Grid Gallery, in the heart of Oakland. Featuring pieces from Kool AD, Ian Flanigan, Aris Jerome, Danielle Schnur, OnTask Family, and more, “Feels” brings together great work from some incredible folks. Gallery opens at 7 PM.
In the ’90s, East Oakland’s Phunky Phat Graph-X created iconic album artwork for luminaries like E-40, Master P, and Nickatina, in staggering volume. As the iced-out aesthetic of Pen & Pixel’s high profile Cash Money covers resurfaces, Ben D-L takes a moment to appreciate their lesser known design predecessors.
Much love to the folks that ventured out to the first Wine & Bowties of the Spring. To Tap 10, Starter Kit, Jay Casio and Yung_smh thank you for blessing us with your tunes. Consider it the first HNRL + TT6 + DRGN + W&B collab. Friday got weird but we live to tell to about it through pictures and words.
One cold night in New York, our very own Amanda Gayle ventured out to Vector Gallery, JJ Brine’s ecstatic posthuman pop art gallery. In her feature, Amanda ruminates on the value of art after a night of fake blood rituals and dead baby dolls.
February marked the first installment in our nascent discussion series, Talks, where we opened up a conversation about creativity and entrepreneurship. For the inaugural, we called on a superstar cast of young creatives: Cre8tive Class founder Daghe, photographer Lauren Crew, MC and visual artist Queens D. Light, Oakland Surf Club’s Max Klineman, and Flavourhood’s Japheth Gonzalez.
I’ve been sitting here for a while now, watching these teasers for Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, and trying to figure out a more eloquent way of saying “Daft Punk make shit a lot of people really like a lot”. Well, anyway, that’s pretty accurate. The Robots’ most ubiquitous songs worked their way into the fabric of global pop culture, most centrally, because they make people feel good. “Get Lucky”, of which a few million of us have now heard just over sixty seconds, is already pretty undeniable, and after a surprise, simultaneous debut at Coachella and SNL, the trailer is building anticipation for what we can only expect to be a massively fun album.
In the meantime, The Creators Project has offered up an exclusive glimpse into the collaborative efforts behind Random Access Memories. Each installment in the “Collaborators” series features an interview with, naturally, one of the towering musical figures who joined Daft Punk on their latest creative journey, from synth-disco giant Giorgio Moroder, to ’80s pop-groove pioneer Nile Rodgers, to house legend Todd Edwards and, of course, Pharrell himself. If the videos were just a preview of the music–by all accounts, a painstakingly crafted, timeless, collection of analog grooves–they’d still be worth watching. But even more than that, it’s a chance to watch true masters of their craft talk about what they do best, and coming together to create something special. Which is always a good thing. Watch the four-part series below.
In a sense, Jessica Willis‘ career started when another ended. It was, in fact, getting fired that provided the spark for Jessica harness her own creativity and step out on her own. A preschool teacher, turned costume designer turned stylist, Jessica’s already built up a portfolio featuring some of today’s more iconic faces and brands. Finding comfort in the ever-evolving realm of the avant garde, Willis’ versatility is reflected through the eclectic identities of her clients. If brands like Cerre or Hotel De Ville don’t ring a bell, perhaps names like Rita and Azealia do.
Commissioned to lend her sartorial vision to a variety of well-known and emerging brands, Willis has already built up an impressive body of work, merging the converging worlds of art, music, and fashion through her selective lens. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that Jess’ star is only beginning to rise. Over a quick lunch in Los Angeles, we had the opportunity to connect with the artist, to learn more about where she’s been, what she’s doing, and most importantly where she’s going.
I couldn’t help but hear Timbaland peaking through on this one. More specifically, I couldn’t help but recognize the resemblance to “All N My Grill”, from that twitchy synth line to the skeletal percussion underneath it. Even more than the ’90s-staple-sampling songs predating it in the James Blake catalog, “Life Round Here” feels like a pretty overt nod to the sultry, futuristic jams we ’90s kids absorbed in our most formative years.
On a related note though, James Blake also has an entirely new LP, in many ways as pretty and meditative and subtly stunning as the last one. And as much of a jam as “Life Round Here” is, it’s hardly representative of the project as a whole. Overgrown is a chilly, piano-centric collection that showcases Blake building outwards from some of the extremes of his musical journey so far–from the off-kilter time signature and hypnotic, housey pulse of “Voyeur”, to the mournful chamber folk of “DLM”. With the possible exception of “Retrograde”, there’s nothing that hits as immediately as the highest points on his first venture into full-length territory. But, as the title suggests, it’s an album that shows off growth and maturity–and in typical Blake fashion–a real sense of the power of subtlety.
Another night, another celebration. Bigger names and a bigger stage made this one a bit different from the rest. But with each event comes the unexpected, for better and for worse, and this one was no different. In the pictures below, there are a lot of familiar faces, probably some folks you’ve never met, but have seen repeatedly on photo recaps like this one. So our first thank you goes to them. To the folks that have been rockin’, thank you. We couldn’t make these moments happen without you, seriously. To Sophie, Syd and Trev, thank you for curating the sounds for the night. And shout out to Max for the snappin’ the pics. Onwards and upwards…
There’s something about the montage that effectively opens Licks that sends shivers down your spine. As the opening credits roll, Oakland scenery drifts by outside the passenger seat window–stately Victorians, liquor stores, kids playing–all set to Lykke Li’s gorgeously delicate “Time Flies”. A lone car creeps down the block, while an unsuspecting kid stands on his stoop, looks up, and catches a bullet to the head. His mother comes barreling down the stairs, torn apart already, and collapses on her son’s body. The sequence is hauntingly beautiful, an unforgettable introduction to Jonathan Singer-Vine’s gripping directorial debut.
Nearly three years in the making, Licks is nothing if not a labor of love. From writing and developing the script along with his good friend Justin “Hongry” Robinson (also known for his musical exploits as Hongry Hussein), to casting, to location scouting, to shooting and even promoting the film–Jonny and a small team of talented collaborators took on virtually every aspect of the process of shooting their first feature film independently. Notably, the film was shot entirely in the East Bay, with a limited budget, and an impressive cast made up almost exclusively of first-time actors and Oakland natives. The result of all the challenges first-time filmmaking presented them with is a film that feels authentic, raw and full of purpose.
The narrative of Licks follows D, a young man whose botched armed robbery attempt lands him a two-year bid in prison and a pair of bullet wounds. Two years later, D returns home to find a neighborhood in paralysis. For an ex-felon, drugs and violent crime seem like his only viable option, and now, even more than before, D finds himself surrounded by temptation and tragedy. It’s a coming of age story heavy on tragic realism–far from mere sensationalism, the heavy doses of violence, sex and drug use that punctuate the narrative serve the function of telling D’s story in all the graphic, grimy detail it deserves. Of course, we’re hardly the first ones to pick up on Licks‘ appeal. The film made its festival debut last month at SXSW, where it was one of just eight movies nominated for an award. Tonight, it’s set to make its Bay Area debut as a part of the Oakland International Film Festival, at the historic Grand Lake Theater.
What a difference two years can make. Back in April 2011, the Coachella crew and I were first making our rounds at the Polo Fields, when we spotted Tyler and Hodgy, armed to the teeth with supersoakers, blasting groupies in the face from point-blank range. On a sweltering Saturday afternoon, the white-hot ball of chaos billed simply as “OFWGKTA” would take the stage, and we’d wade through a sea of late-teenage elbows to catch a glimpse of all the fun they were having. Standing behind the turntables, energetic but quietly poised, was Syd the Kyd.
When Syd took the stage in Indio two years ago, she was a few weeks shy of her nineteenth birthday. Now, two years later, she’s already carved out her own distinctive space, not only in the context of Odd Future’s illustrious roster, but also within the broader landscape of indie music. As half of the duo The Internet, along with producer Matt Martians, she’s had a hand in crafting one of the more sultry, intimate and uncategorizable debuts in recent memory with Purple Naked Ladies. A cosmic, psychedelic blend of avant-garde R&B, the album found Syd taking on duties as a singer, songwriter, producer and recording engineer, not to mention, the de facto face of the band. If OF on the whole has, maybe unfairly, earned a reputation based on the noisier aspects of their collective personality, Matt and Syd’s music helps to round out all that eccentricity with a gorgeous touch of subtlety.
Fresh off her second tour in Europe, and holed up in her brand new Hollywood studio, Syd found the time last weekend to catch us up on where she’s been and where she’s going. The answer, in short, is wherever she wants to go. For the immediate future though, we’re lucky enough to have Syd standing behind the tables at The New Parish Friday night, curating a selection of bangers at a Wine & Bowties function. In the meantime, Syd sounded relaxed and comfortable, filling us in on everything from the new Internet album, to the Myspace-fueled genesis of Odd Future, to the power of family. Somewhere in between all that, we even got to touch on a tragically short hoop career.
There’s been plenty going on since the last time we checked in. On the more low-profile side of our collective radar, Lapalux and the Bay’s own Friendzone both dropped full-lengths heavy on heady, warped beauty. Somewhere in between Schoolboy dropped an absolute banger, Shlohmo and Jeremih teamed up, and the Basedgod dropped a tape that’s damn near magical. On the visual side of things, well Tyler killed it–twice, and once along with Earl, and once for his solid sophomore album–which we’ll talk about soon enough. Not to mention the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ short film piece, with is well worth watching all the way through. Also, some dude named Justin dropped off a few songs too. For all the Bay folks, we’ll see you on Friday at The New Parish, where Syd, Trev and Sophie will be ready to provide the soundtrack. In the meantime, settle on these.
I like food. You like food. We all like food. Good food’s even better, and good food with friends, well let’s just say that’s hard to beat. While most of my self made meals usually hinge on simplicity and convenience, dinner parties are more or less rarities in my life, something so tight in theory, but hardly ever executed upon. Until Feastly.
It was actually my friend Chinzalee who invited me. “Come through tomorrow, I’m having a Feastly dinner,” she said. I immediately obliged. The brainchild of Noah Karesh, Feastly was launched in 2011 with the goal of bringing together adventurous eaters and passionate chefs. A social network of sorts, centered around facilitating exceptional dining experiences, Feastly allows anyone from professional chefs to budding cooks to create meals and accompanying menus that are then posted to the site to be attended by adventurous diners. Chefs post their menu, the number of available seats, a price, and a date. Feastly makes money by assessing a small, percentage-based fee from the chef’s total earnings on each meal. Prospective diners can peruse the menu, ask the chef questions, and purchase a seat. With the potential to bring together familiar faces and strangers within an intimate setting, Feastly’s long-term mission hinges on revitalizing the magic and comfort of a home-cooked meal. Still in its beta stages, the site has focused on New York, San Francisco and D.C. to start, with intentions to facilitate dinners throughout other major cities in the months to come.
In 2013, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you know someone who raps or produces. The increasing availability of methods of making music and promoting it has meant that our social media feeds are occasionally flooded with caps-locked pleas for more listens and downloads, but it has also been responsible for some of the most interesting sounds of the past few years. In the era of retweeting and reblogging, there is a common complaint that our generation is lacking in authenticity and originality. But originality has never been about creating something out of thin air; more often, it’s the result of reimagining and recontextualizing what came before into something relevant and relatable.
Oakland beatmaker OSØ is a master of combining eras and influences to craft something completely his own. The track below, taken from his most recent EP in.between.books, finds the 20-year-old reworking Justin Timberlake’s Futuresex/Lovesounds classic “Set the Mood” and an early 2000′s Vybz Kartel hit for an eclectic slow-jam experience. Clean thumps and snaps are punctuated by JT’s grunts and “yeahs” before a Police-like melody and hi-hats are layered in, transforming the track into an all-out hitter. With two EP’s and two beat tapes already under his belt, OSØ is planning to add to the depth of his catalog with a collection of remixes in the coming weeks. For now, plug in your highest quality headphones and slap this one.
A few weeks ago, we first shared the illustrations of Andy Rementer. Colorful and refreshingly clever, Andy’s work manages to blend insight with humor, all wrapped in his signature, distinctive aesthetic. While our first feature on the artist showcased his comic series, Techno Tuesdays, Andy’s portfolio is vast and varied. Covering everything from white walls and wrapping paper to pillow cases and the pages of the New York Times, Andy’s signature style has been showcased in galleries around the world. Somewhere between Paris and New York, Andy gave us the opportunity to catch up with him about his favorite work music, dream collabs, and the pitfalls of digital dependence.