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Ryan Rocha is a thinker, which you can probably tell by the detail in his paintings. In our interview, the Sactown-bred painter and illustrator breaks down his journey, from skating and making flyers for punk shows, to hanging with Grandma, to setting up shop in Oakland.


Mournful, emotive R&B from two masters of mood


Collaborations don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to, but when they do it’s a beautiful thing. Artists can either compliment each others’ strengths to produce something unique and memorable or accent each others’ weaknesses to create the easily forgettable. In the case of “Don’t Say No”, the recent collaborative effort from L.A. beatmaker Shlohmo and experimental R&B singer and producer Tom Krell, AKA How to Dress Well, the rolling, moody track feels as natural as any collaboration in recent memory.

The beat builds slowly, beginning with simple ?uestlove-esque thumps, before giving way to dark and distorted chords. “Real love,” Krell softly repeats before cowbell, stuttered hi-hats and deep synth-bass create a textured backdrop for Krell’s 90’s R&B inflected vocals. At the end of the track, Krell’s voice practically blends into Shlohmo’s ethereal sounds, a moaning falsetto sitting on top of filtered vocal runs while the beat continues it’s slow drive. Both artists have an uncanny ability to create reflective and emotive material, and together, they combine for a song full to the brim with feeling. “Don’t Say No” will be featured on Shlohmo’s Laid Out, which drops March 5th via Friends of Friends/WEDIDIT.

Download: Shlohmo ft. How To Dress Well – “Don’t Say No”

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Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief


L. Ron Hubbard

From Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

“I have spent much of my career examining the effects of religious beliefs on people’s lives–historically, a far more profound influence on society and individuals than politics, which is the substance of so much journalism. I was drawn to write this book by the questions that many people have about Scientology: What is it that makes the religion alluring? What do its adherents get out of it? How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible? Why do popular personalities associate themselves with a faith that is likely to create a kind of public relations martyrdom?

These questions are not unique to Scientology, but they certainly underscore the conversation. In attempting to answer them in this book, I hope we can learn something about what might be called the process of belief. Few Scientologists have had a conversion experience–a sudden, radical reorientation of one’s life; more common is a gradual, wholehearted acceptance of propositions that might have been regarded as unacceptable or absurd at the outset, as well as the incremental surrender of will on the part of people who have been promised enhanced power and authority. One can see by this example the motor that propels all great social movements, for good or ill.”

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A weekend slap and an excellent new tape from the South Bay superstar



Heads in the Bay have to be juiced these days. As our good friend Yung Wave Dash observed the last time Antwon’s name came up on the Bowties, there’s a talented, forward-thinking class of rappers coming up Bayside, who share in common a certain eclecticism. Maybe most eclectic among them though, is the growing body of work Antwon’s accumulated already.

His fourth and most recent offering, In Dark Denim is the audio equivalent of the all-caps its song titles show up in in your iTunes library. It’s full of big, dirty noise, ranging in tone from grimy electronic neon to crispy retro-funk, and providing a perfectly warped canvas for Antwon’s outsized personality–and some solidly adult themes. “3rd World Grrl” is a bouncy slab of bargain-bin ’80s groove, just the kind of throwback jam that first got him some interwebs shine last year. It also happens to be accompanied by a visual featuring Crank Yankers puppet version of Antwon rapping, courtesy of Noisey, which is totally worth watching after the MORE, so do that too. Oh, and grab the tape here for the free 99 and cop a ticket to his show tonight at Elbo Room.

Download: Antwon – “3rd World Grrl”

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Heidi Voet lends her perspective on the perception of beauty

A comical glance into the construction of vanity, beauty and health, Fruits & Vegetables is among Heidi Voet‘s most engaging works. Positioning images of naked women cropped from Chinese magazines alongside vegetables, the resulting work takes on new meaning on closer inspection. Cropping out the top or lower half of the photographs, and replacing the missing body parts with vegetables, the juxtaposition helps to relate Heidi’s commentary. As the organic vegetables age and rot, the falsehoods of enduring beauty and eternal youth perpetrated by the photographs are revealed. In a sense, a duality of timelessness and ephemerality is related powerfully through the work as the fresh vegetables visually complete the young bodies–though both are inevitably destined to fade. I sometimes wonder if pretty girls ever feel trapped by their beauty, but let’s save that conversation for another day.

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A celebration of the life and work of Barry Shapiro


Barry Shapiro

This one feels like it’s been a long time coming. On March 1st, we’ll be holding our first show at Oakland Art Murmur, and we’re proud to announce we’ll be presenting the work of Bay Area photographer Barry Shapiro. More specifically, we’ll be partnering with Warehouse 416 to present A Dangerously Curious Eye, a stunning and iconic collection of black and white photographs shot in Hunter’s Point between 1972 and 1982.

Barry Shapiro will likely be remembered as an unsung hero of Bay Area photography, an accidental cultural documentarian who captured an unforgettable portrait of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhood during turbulent times. Though largely unseen until shortly before his passing in 2009, his work was published in the 2010 photobook A Dangerously Curious Eye and was shown briefly in a solo show at SF Camerawork. Today, his work constitutes not only an invaluable historical document of a community on the whole, but also an idiosyncratic record of life lived on the edge. Barry’s story, and that of the community of which he was a part, is an incredible one, and one we’re proud to be able to share with you.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be showcasing more of his work here on the Bowties, in the interest of providing a preview of what to expect for the opening reception on March 1st. Additionally, the show will continue through March 30th, so stay tuned for other upcoming events at Warehouse 416.

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Some pictures and words from our latest Wine & Bowties celebration in Los Angeles


Another night, another celebration. A lot of familiar faces in the building Thursday night; a lot of folks who’ve been down since Day 1. One day we’ll look back on these times and laugh, but until then let us cherish the grind. The successes, the flops, the smiles the tears, all in summation to tell ourstory. It was a beautiful one; with new chapters unfolding each day. Much love to everyone that’s stepped foot inside a Wine & Bowties celebration. Thank you for coming along on this journey with us.

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New music from Wine & Bowties

mjgokart - Copy

Michael Jordan

It’s been a minute since we dropped one of these, which, generally speaking, means every one of these songs is worth spending some time with. A few things worth mentioning here. There’s Antwon’s awesome guest spot on Kitty’s mixtape, where he plays the big, bad influence to Kitty’s innocent little girl. The Kurt Vile might be the winner here though. It’s nine minutes of bliss–a wavy-ass, lazy Sunday groove that just stretches out forever. Plus, the Hemsworth-Angel Haze take on Cat Power’s “Manhattan” is absolutely gorgeous. A little Basedworld, a little Night Slugs, a party anthem or two–I’d say we might just have a weekend soundtrack on our hands. A happy half-century to Mike, and Los Angeles, thanks for the love Thursday night. We’ll see you again soon.

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Software engineer turned carpenter Joel Allen's treehouse in the middle of the Canadian wilderness


Building a tree house is already an arduous task within itself. But building a tree house in the middle of the woods solo, in Whistler, British Columbia on government property might sound damn near insane to anybody–aside from Joel Allen, that is. A software developer turned carpenter, Joel ventured into the Canadian wilderness to construct an egg shaped abode with no electrical power in the fall of 2008.

After going broke in the wake of a botched retirement campaign at the ripe age of 26, it was a by-chance encounter with a true wilderness man that compelled Joel to set out on his own, living out of his car while seeking out adventure at every turn. Turned on to the art of “sports sleeping”–the competition of seeing who could sleep in the most outrageous environment outside of a bed–by a friend, Joel was soon inspired to create the HemLoft.

Keeping it a complete secret for nearly three years after its construction, Joel only began to reveal the house’s existence recently. The house itself, a product of the painstaking process of walking each tool and material into the woods, and then walking all of the excess waste back out, is a true a labor of love, and one that Joel isn’t looking to part with any time soon.

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Rio-based photographer Tiago Sperotto on his photographic journey back home to Porto Alegre

Gaucho (that's how we call who is my state) riding a horse by Guaiba's lake

Photography by Tiago Sperotto

It was 2010 when I first connected with Tiago Sperotto. On the verge of being fired from my first post-college job as a barista, on my last day, Tiago approached me with a simple question. “Dude, do you know anyone that needs some photography work done?” It was a serendipitous question, as the Bowties, still in its infantile stages, was in dire need of a shooter to add to the team.

From there, the rest is history, although our journey is still only beginning. Lending his photographic skills to a number of shoots for us over the years, it was love that eventually brought Tiago back to his native country of Brazil in 2011, where he still lives today. Currently residing in Rio, but raised in Porto Alegre, Tiago’s most recent work showcases some of the gorgeous environs the city has to offer. Chatting about his upbringing in Porto, the city’s evolution, and the magic of Guaiba Lake, Tiago offered some insight into what makes Porto Alegre so special.

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A gorgeous, affecting first single announces Blake's return


James Blake

After 2011’s James Blake, there wasn’t really a comfortable box left for Mr. Blake to squeeze into. In just over a year, he had dropped some of the most brilliant, intricate electronic music in recent memory, only to follow that excellent string of EP’s with an exquisitely subtle foray into writing and singing his own songs. Months later, he was on to a full-on, acoustic Joni Mitchell cover. And yet, the whole “singer-songwriter” thing still seemed like an odd fit. Blake’s strength lies in composition, and in finding the intersection between the mechanical and the emotional, in using all the tools at his disposal–whether it’s an Aaliyah sample , an obscure blip of electronic noise, or an 88-key grand–to hone in on a mood or a sentiment that really resonates.

“Retrograde”, the first proper single from his upcoming full-length, proves that his own voice is as powerful an instrument as any. From the outset, it’s that winding, somber melody that draws you into this song, looped again and again, and woven around stately piano chords and a lonely soul clap. The whole thing is minimal in its construction, but the ghostly, cathedral-sized reverb makes it sound bigger than anything he’s created to date, particularly when it starts building to its climax, riding a surge of buzzy synth intensity. This is powerful stuff–a love song that sounds vaguely tragic, subtly meditative until it decides to completely bowl you over. That Martin de Thurah’s visual (see MORE) for the song manages to weave together love, tragedy and what looks like a massive ball of fire hurdling through the Earth’s atmosphere, should give you an idea of the level of drama here. When “Retrograde” hits, it’s damn near devastating.

Download: James Blake – “Retrograde”



Abstract perfomance artist Jared Clark creates colorful imagery through an unorthodox approach


Find your medium, and go for it. It’s a message we’ve been promoting on the Bowties since the beginning. Whether you’re creating coloring books for today’s hottest rappers, or building modernist sand castles out of well, sand, there are infinite possibilities when it comes to creativity. Most recently, the whimsical work of Jared Clark exemplifies this idea quite well. In his recent work, simply titled “Bleeder”, Jared manipulates paper and ink in a way unlike any other I (or maybe you) have come across.

When discussing his creative approach, Jared states, “The series came naturally from this idea of filming the bleed images of markers – and using physical limitations as a way of keeping the image pure. Once the physical limitation ideas took the forefront, I turned the camera from the paper to myself and a path into performance was born.” If it feels a bit like I’m leaving something out, you might want to hit the MORE for a better idea of how Jared goes about creating these abstract pieces.

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A short documentary film offers a look into New Orleans' ever-thriving Bounce music scene


When I first moved to New Orleans, I hoped to find the Bounce scene as pervasive and accessible as the brass bands that parade through the neighborhoods and play on corners throughout the city. What I found instead was a bunch of transplants like myself looking for some ass-shaking. However, thanks to everyone’s favorite cultural imperialist Diplo, and other national outlets that have given Bounce some attention, this organic New Orleans subgenre is slowly moving from complete obscurity into the periphery of popular awareness outside of the South.

The video above provides a brief overview of the scene, including interviews and performance footage from some of New Orleans’ most respected artists. The simple formula for Bounce tracks is unpacked for us: call-and-response type chants with explicit lyrics rapped over fast-paced percussion that samples sounds from “Drag Rap” by The Showboys and “Brown Beat” by Cameron Paul among other tracks. The video also highlights Sissy Bounce, an offshoot that features gay MC’s (most notably Big Freedia, Katey Red, and Sissy Nobby) who have played fundamental roles in the development and growing popularity of Bounce. Obviously, it would be difficult to explain an entire musical subculture in a nine-minute film, but more than anything, the clips above provide a visceral, twerk-heavy sensory experience. As is always the case in New Orleans, it’s impossible to know where the music stops and day-to-day life begins.

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