From tats to tags, visual artist Jus Ontask takes us inside his creative process in a couple different mediums. Luckily, the homie and OnTask family member Veeejzilla was around to document, giving us a step-by-step look at these pieces coming together.
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.
On the heels of some exciting new releases and a Feels II collab, we caught up with indie zine gods Nighted Life and its founder Nick Garcia. He put us up on Nighted’s origin story, the back catalog, and which shooters to look out for in the 2015. Also included, some thoughts on tall tees and “knowing better, doing worse.”
A quick look at the de Young’s massive new Keith Haring retrospective, The Political Line. Focusing on Haring’s more deliberately political works, the pieces take on consumer culture, technology, sexuality, and racism head on, and span the length of Keith’s short but prolific career.
Some vibrant nostalgia from the mind of Michelle Guintu. East Bay raised but SF residing, Michelle has developed her aesthetic simply by painting the things she likes. From 90’s R&B superstars, like Missy and Aaliyah, to Joe Montana paintings and McDonald’s installations.
“So Good at Being in Trouble”, Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s most recent offering from the upcoming II, rolls in with the kind of warm, down-home guitar twang that’s so evocative, you can’t help but to expect Sam Cooke or Wilson Pickett on the other end of it. And granted, it’s hardly lacking in stick-to-your-ribs soul. But UMO is hardly the kind of band that’s likely to dazzle you with straight-ahead showmanship, and in most cases, it’s pretty clearly to their advantage. After all, maybe their best song to date is lo-fi to the point near-illegibility, a fuzzy ball of impressionistic feeling set to breakbeat. Much like “Ffunny Ffrends”, “Trouble” is effective because it’s subtle, relying on evocative, unexpected chord changes, and falsetto-filtered, disembodied feeling. It’s tempting to wish you had an Otis here to channel all the heartbreak of being steamrolled by a relationship gone wrong. But something about that world-weary, ghostly falsetto feels just as convincingly lonely, and just as quietly devastating.
Each celebration was a different beast. New settings with familiar faces. Our job was merely to facilitate it all, but in essence it was a group effort. There’s been folks who’ve been rockin’ with us since ’09, and those that only hopped on this weekend. Regardless of what station you boarded, we’re glad that you’re riding now. Many thanks to the folks in L.A who made this weekend special. We really can’t do these things without you. Thank you for being you, thank you for being tight, and thank you for bringing your uniqueness to our celebrations. Much love to Max, Booker and As-Is for lending their services to the night, and to you for supporting Wine & Bowties.
So it was always at night, like a werewolf, that I would take the thing out for an honest run down the coast. I would start in Golden Gate Park, thinking only to run a few long curves to clear my head….but in a matter of minutes I’d be out at the beach with the sound of the engine in my ears, the surf booming up on the sea wall and a fine empty road stretching all the way down to Santa Cruz…not even a gas station in the whole seventy miles; the only public light along the way is an all-night diner down around Rockaway Beach.
There was no helmet on those nights, no speed limit, and no cooling it down on the curves. The momentary freedom of the park was like the one unlucky drink that shoves a wavering alcoholic off the wagon. I would come out of the park near the soccer field and pause for a moment at the stop sign, wondering if I knew anyone parked out there on the midnight humping strip.
In the hip-hop climate of 2013, it’s pretty hard to figure out exactly what something like a debut album is even supposed to mean. For most listeners, in the case of just about every relevant artist in the genre–from Drake to Keef to Kendrick to Danny–the label debut just isn’t the vehicle through which artists introduce themselves anymore. Not to mention, in the face of a crumbling, ever-contracting major label system, the line between “albums” and “mixtapes” is virtually meaningless from a quality standpoint, particularly since a move to the majors generally means a loss of creative control, and not always a good tradeoff on the monetary side.
Of course, A$AP Rocky is in a particularly interesting position. Just a year and a half ago, Rocky was a burgeoning internet sensation, his popularity surging off the strength of LiveLoveA$AP, an ultra-timely, regionalism-defying collection of psychedelic slap, as solid and cohesive as just about any hip-hop album in recent memory. Even before dropping a full project though, a frantic bidding war had already made him the rare exception to industry rule, the unusual young artist who warrants a generous investment–in this case, $3 million. The subsequent year and change has been eventful–high fashion designer friends, worldwide tour dates, Tumblr ubiquity, a crew album, a VMA appearance with Rihanna–even, more recently, a hit single, complete with assists from three of the genre’s most relevant figures. On the other hand, a handful of album pushbacks seemed like cause for concern. Would Rocky’s movement fall victim to major label meddling? Was it even possible to deliver on all the expectations? When the tracklist dropped, with names all over the board, from Danger Mouse to Skrillex, Santigold to Yelawolf, you kind of had to wonder what the actual music was even going to sound like. As I’m sure Rocky knows better than most, hype can be a real motherfucker sometimes.
Before Kobe there was Michael. Before Chris Paul there was Isaiah. Every generation has their greats. A showcase for the MVP’s and scoring champs of the era, NBA Superstars emerged as probably the preeminent hoop highlight film series of the early ’90s. Set to the most celebrated songs of the day, Superstars matched the NBA’s best with a now awesomely dated who’s who of late ’80s and early ’90s pop music. Dominique Wilkins with Greek, new-agey keyboard legend Yanni? Michael and Berlin? Magic and Janet? Akeem and Kool Moe Dee? The list goes on, but you get the idea.
But there’s more. Aside from the tunes, Superstars really highlights what made each of these players so dope. Magic’s court vision is put on full display, while Barkley’s overall strength-power-speed combination reminds us of his past dominance. Each set of highlights transitions fluidly into the next in all their grainy, early-90’s VHS charm, making Superstars a must see for any retro NBA fan. Peep some videos after the more for taste of NBA Superstars.
If you’ve seen LCD’s farwell concert doc, Shut Up and Play the Hits, you’ll have to remember the last shot in the movie. That goofy kid with tears streaming down his face encapsulated the feelings of a million loyal followers all at once, in a handful of endearingly embarrassing pans across his face. To me, as an ending, it seemed pretty damn fitting for James Murphy: equal parts tongue-in-cheek, flat-out funny and genuinely poignant, not unlike more than a few of LCD’s most memorable songs. Despite the fact that no one really plans to start being a world famous rock star in their mid-’30s, something about LCD’s run just seemed so goddamn perfect, for lack of a better word. A mission statement first single, three unbelievable albums, and then you bow out at the height of your powers, to a sold out Madison Square Garden, bursting at the seams with adoring fans and white balloons.
Of course, that’s a brief history. So fortunately for all of us, photographer Ruvan Wijesooriya was there to capture the moments as they happened, at least during the tail end of LCD’s glorious journey. Aside from having a knack for snapping iconic portraits of James, Nancy, Pat and company, Wijesooriya also pays just as much attention to the surrounding scenery. Crowd shots, clusters of balloons and oceans of plastic cups color the pages of LCD, alongside performance and studio shots, giving us all at least a vague sense of what it actually might have been like to be along for the ride, from Hyde Park to Williamsburg to Indio, and everywhere in between. Elegantly put together by James Timmins, and featuring a handful of exclusive interviews, it’s a solid coffee table option all around. And for those of us who have been grieving with “All My Friends” on repeat for the last two or three years, it’s kind of a must-cop. Feel free to do so here.
The upcoming Spring/Summer season ushers in another sharply designed collection from the London based Reiss brand. Building on their signature fine tailoring, Reiss delivers suits and blazers in an array of colors from the standout airforce and seafoam blues to the more subtle soft greys and beiges. Catering to their consumers with a holistic approach, the brand also offers fitted chinos and denim paired with loafers, shirts and jackets that show exactly how the Reiss man goes casual. One thing I’ve always admired about Reiss is their ability to seamlessly produce classic concepts with a modern and stylish approach, allowing each piece to be worn seasons and even years after its been bought. And because Reiss have tastefully positioned themselves between the high street and luxury labels, the brand offers high quality product at a much more manageable price then their high-end counterparts. A presentation to some and an introduction to others, this season’s collection continues the Reiss tradition, further proving Reiss to be a brand well worth investing in.
Reviving print through his own unique lens, Oliver Maxwell Kupper sits at the crossroads of the changing face of publishing. Inspired by his passion for photography, as well as a handful of vintage art house publications and periodicals, Kupper made his own foray into the art and culture world alongside photographer and creative partner Adarsha Benjamin, with the creation of Pas Un Autre. Translating as “Not Another”, Pas functions as Kupper’s literary and creative outlet. As the publication’s founder and editor-in-chief, Oliver’s daily routine consists of creating and curating content, while constantly growing Pas’ sphere of influence.
Perhaps Oliver’s greatest accomplishment thus far though, has come in the form of his journal’s recent transition from the online world into printed form, defying conventional wisdom, and bucking the trend of an increasingly digitized publishing world. Since publishing its first issue in May of 2011, Autre has since garnered a global following for its sharp aesthetic, nuanced editorials, and features with art world luminaries, from James Franco and Yoko Ono, to famed artist and designer Kaws and oddball indie god Ariel Pink. Throughout, Oliver has maintained a sharp vision and an aesthetic sensibility that’s helped distinguish the Pas brand across both platforms. Recently, we sat down with Oliver to touch on his influences, and get inside the mind of a creative at the vanguard of new media publishing.
Only a very small handful of producers caught my ear last year the way Lapalux did. From two impossibly lush, soulful EP’s of original material, to a collection of phenomenal remixes, last year saw Brainfeeder’s Essex representative grow fully and powerfully into his own sound. And that sound–all warm, ethereal texture, and warped sonic collage–is about as engrossing as anyone’s right now, in no small part because of Lapalux’s ability to pair those woozy atmospherics with top-notch vocalists and melodies that tend to burrow their way deep inside your brain.
“Guuurl” represents a landmark, and not only because it’s the first release from Lapalux’s full-length debut, set for release in March. Aside from that, it also happens to be one of the most instantly catchy and hypnotic jams he’s churned out so far. Setting vocoder against a glowing, chillwavey bed of synth and double-time handclaps, “Guuurl” feels something like a late night swim off a handful of pills–pscychedelic, vaguely nostalgic, and just about as disorienting as it is blissful. Whatever he’s got in store for Nostalchic, we’ll be listening. Closely.
Left but not forgotten, Los Angeles was the home of our first Wine & Bowties celebration. In a sense, not much has changed since then. We’ve grown a bit, learned a bit, but the sunny pastures of Southern California, although not home anymore, will always be a cherished destination. From the folks that have been rockin with us since day one, to those that hopped on last week, thank you. We’re in it together. Come get close at our next Wine & Bowties celebration.
When Joey Bada$$’s 1999 surfaced midway through last year, the media whirlwind that engulfed he and his Pro Era collective mostly focused mainly on their precocious, impossibly spot-on take on classic, crate-digging hip-hop traditionalism and razor sharp lyrical abilities. More recently though, the crew’s been in the news for a tragic turn of events, with the untimely death, a possible suicide, of the 19 year-old Capital STEEZ (pictured above), easily among the most promising young talents in the crew, and probably the most high profile member of the collective outside of Joey.
Coming just on the heels of Pro Era’s crew record Peep: The Aprocalypse, it gives the tape a whole new poignancy, separate even from its significance as yet another rock-solid collection of Pro Era’s now-signature stony, Brooklyn nouveau-boom bap. Peep borrows pretty heavily from that core canon of ’90s hip-hop touchstones whose power of inspiration seems inexhaustible–of, say, the Infamous / Illmatic / Labcabincalifornia variety. And why wouldn’t it? Pro Era’s music is, if admittedly not exactly avant-garde, deeply listenable, in so many of the same ways as the vintage material it draws from. Steez’s death is a tragic one for obvious reasons, and only in small part because we won’t get to see where he might’ve taken things in what looked to be a promising musical journey. At the least though, Peep is a testament to the vast potential of something he helped to create.
Sandcastles were fun back in the day. Back in the days when we were all about waist high and had a couple teeth missing. Fortunately, for art’s sake, some of us never graduated from those cherished beach days. Sand sculptor Calvin Seibert is one of those people. Manipulating sand into clean, distinct geometric formations, Seibert’s creations resemble something closer to mid-century architectural structures than just mere sand castles. Over the past six years, Seibert has developed his celebrated sand aesthetic, creating works that are a stark contrast from the bucket and pale castles you and I used to make. With a ton more creations on view at his Flickr page, Seibert’s work is a reminder that anything can be made dope with a dose of passion and creativity.