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Ryan Rocha is a thinker. You could probably tell by the detail in his paintings. Raised in Sactown but residing in the Bay Area, Ryan cut his teeth as an artist at a young age. Influenced heavily by music, other artists, and his beloved grandmother, today much of Ryan’s personality is fueled through his art, making each piece, engaging and dynamic.


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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Ray Kurzweil, Singularity and technology's rapid ascension toward artificial intelligence


Ray Kurzweil

As one of the most prolific inventors of the 20th century, Ray Kurzweil has made a career out of creating the future. As an author, inventor and futurist, much of Kurzweil’s most recent work has focused on the concept of Singularity, known as the point in time when information technology exceeds the powers of the human brain. In other words, Kurzweil believes that in the not-so-distant future, machines will surpass the mental capacity of humans–according to Kurzweil, by the year 2030.

Founded upon the Law of Accelerated Returns, many of Kurzweil’s predictions revolve around the idea that technological advancement has been increasing exponentially since the beginning of humasn existence. Under this theory, Kurzweil posits that we are nearing a point in which the continual doubling of technological advancement will reach a zenith, effectively negating the linear progression of evolution and catapulting us to a new frontier of artificial intelligence. It’s the improvements in technology coupled with the decreasing costs of managing and storing information technology that lie at the foundation of this impending shift. Yet for many, one need not look any further than the evolution of the iPod, to see this phenomenon in action.

Introduced to the public in 2001, the first generation iPod cost $399 and was marketed with the slogan, “1,000 songs in your pocket,” a rough estimate based on the 5 gigabytes of storage available on the device. Today, the latest version of the iPod sells for $249 and holds 160 gigabytes of storage. This paradoxical trend in iPod capacity and pricing is just one example of what Kurzweil refers to when speaking about the exponential growth of information technology known as Singularity.

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Meet Julia, and the Berkeley-bred producer that brought her to life


Julia Lewis

It’s funny what happens when your debut project drops. For most of the folks who end up hearing your name for the first time, the music comes as a complete surprise, as if it had just materialized out of nothing. The perception, from the outside, is that you’ve miraculously come out of the gate with a fully-formed, articulate style and voice already in tact. But for the select handful of people that get to watch the progression, from putting together a few beats at the crib as a hobby, to the heavy-immersion passion project that spawned Asymmetry, it’s been seriously exciting to watch.

The five tracks that comprise Ben Falik’s first EP as Julia Lewis are intricate and as involved as anything he’s created so far, a dense and varied patchwork of samples and synth not unlike something you might find on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Crisp slap with a touch of trap, woozy atmosphere, heavy wobble-bass, tricky programming–the effect, particularly on the EP’s title track, is pretty damn engrossing. “Asymmetry” is all about attack and release, building from a smooth, far-away female vocal into a heavy crescendo, just before dropping you right back where you started. All the more impressive, is that a song like this one, or say, “Tell Me Everything You Are”, can threaten that adrenaline-rush, dubstep-drop power, and yet still feel subtle and reflective. Asymmetry, like most of the best electronic music in recent memory, pulls from a diverse enough palette of sounds that it defies categorization. In other words, it sounds like Julia Lewis, rather than anybody else. So whether or not this is your first introduction, it’s definitely a distinctive one.

Download: Julia Lewis – “Asymmetry”



A few illustrated instructions for mutually enjoyable copulation


I love sex for a plethora of reasons. The best one, I feel, is that sex is, simultaneously, the most natural and the most taboo practice we engage in. That being said, there are some things that just don’t fly.

If you’re reading this and have slept with me in the past, I may or may not have gleaned one of these DO NOTS from your bag of tricks. If you’re reading this and we haven’t slept together yet, please print it out and keep it in your pocket when you come over.



Next stop Los Angeles...

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Chaz draws on a boundless, eclectic palette of pop instincts to craft his most accessible record to date


Toro Y Moi

“I’ve always taken the word “pop” as its literal translation–it’s accessible, and that’s why it’s popular.” So said Chaz Bundick when asked about his latest record, Anything in Return, which he’d described recently as an album of “sincere”, honest-to-god pop music. The whole conversation sort of struck me as odd though. To my mind, nobody has put out better pop music more often over the course of the last four years or so. On the accessibility front, I’ve always felt like certain standout songs from each of his projects–“Talamak” or “New Beat”, or even obscurities like “Leave Everywhere” or “I Can Get Love”–were so damn perfect in their execution that the notion that someone wouldn’t find them irresistible seemed kind of outrageous. If I was a little more naive about industry politics, I’d probably bitch even more about why there just doesn’t seem to be a plausible niche carved out for his music on a bigger stage. And believe me, I already do.

In any case, Anything In Return is, as promised, an impeccably crafted collection of engrossing pop music. Chaz’s desire to make a pop record, he’s earnestly admitted, was at least partially because he wanted to make music his girlfriend would dig, and maybe even dance along to like she did to Beyonce, Bieber and The Dream. And, without a trace of sarcasm, I can say that it shows. The songs here are crisp and elastic, wide in their appeal and completely beautiful. Currents from each of the stylistic experiments he’s conducted so far run through the heart of these songs, but in most cases, he’s neatly synthesized the most essential elements from each, and folded them all neatly into rich, immersive packages. There’s a certain clarity too, in Chaz’s voice, both as a singer and songwriter, that, in contrast to plenty of his past work, puts Chaz squarely in the foreground. Anything in Return succeeds as a “sincere pop record”, and not just because so many of these songs are among his most immediately gratifying. They also constitute his most ostensibly personal, most relatable work to date.

Download: Toro Y Moi – “Rose Quartz”

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A short cultural history of tobacco advertising in America


Irving Penn
from Irving Penn’s “Cigarettes”

It’s hard to deny the allure of cigarettes. A looming presence in the cultural history of America and beyond, the cigarette has now become perhaps the single most indelible symbol of the intangible essence of cool. Whether dangling from the lips of James Dean, or as an accessory to the sumptuous aesthetic of high fashion, the cigarette has played a pivotal role over the last few centuries in constructing an aura of leisurely pleasure.

Today, the marketing landscape for cigarettes has changed dramatically, although many still condemn cigarette companies for their subversive advertising tactics. First introduced to the American public through an advertisement in a local New York newspaper in 1789, it was in fact the Lorillard Tobacco Company that first familiarized America with the seductive pull of tobacco-related advertising.



Dudes in their early 20s, shockingly, make loud music about beer, girls, cocaine and skateboarding



“Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.” Indeed, FIDLAR, indeed. “Cocaine”, “Cheap Beer”, “Wake Bake Skate”, “Stoked and Broke”–a cursory glance at the song titles that populate FIDLAR’s self-titled, full-length debut reveal a handful of the essential features of their identity as a band. They are young. They are from Southern California. They enjoy getting fucked up in a plethora of different ways. They enjoy the occasional skate. A cursory listen to just about any of the excellent songs featured therein tell you just about everything else, most of which you might have guessed already. They are loud. Very loud. They are bored and reasonably nihilistic. And naturally, they’re a hell of a lot fun. At this point, a more extensive background check or an enumeration of their (actually well-selected) influences and references seems kind of beside the point.

“Cheap Beer” has been floating around the internet for months now, and FIDLAR is full of great songs, a handful of which aren’t half as full of piss and vinegar and excessive yelling. Several are singalong melodic, and most of them have lines as straightforwardly unredeeming as “I feel like a crackhead” or “All my friends are pieces of shit”. Some are probably even better songs in one way or another. But nothing hits quite as convincingly as the rapid-fire delivery of this presumably PBR-inspired anthem. “I. Drink. Cheap. Beer. So. What. Fuck. You.” A hook like that just kind of wrecks everything in its path. It’s the kind of declaration that might make you look stupid for even taking the time to point out the fact that it’s stupid. And if nothing else, it’s a reminder that a little good old-fashioned hedonism goes a long way.

Download: FIDLAR – “Cheap Beer”

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