Synesthetes’ Breakfast w/ Anna Cruz & Adam Lavigne

As separate artists, Anna Cruz and Adam Lavigne are both savants of color, creating beautiful paintings, drawings, and zines on whatever they’re inspired by that day–whether it be fruit, light, or in the case of a recent zine (released under their co-founded publishing company Lemon Press), a Kanye West interview. As a couple, they are GOALS, bouncing ideas off of each other, building the other one up, and crafting unique work as a summation of their own talents.

I caught up with the two as they were installing their latest duel exhibit, titled “Synesthetes’ Breakfast,” at the freshly opened Gallery Eola in Thornton Park Gallery, open Thursday & Friday 4-7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Enjoy.

Upcoming Events:

July 20 – August 11: Synesthetes’ Breakfast @ Gallery Eola


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matthew warhol: I wanted to start—before we get into like high level art talk—by asking you something I was curious about. We’ll definitely dive into both of you as individual artists, but I wanted to know… how did the two of you meet?

Adam Lavigne: Uh, drawing class.

Anna Cruz: We met in school, 2011 or 2012. We had drawing class in 2012, and I had a crush on him. We were just acquaintances; we never really hung out or talked to each other much. I went to his roommate’s house one night with Paul Finn and got reallllly high and threw up and had a really bad anxiety attack. Thankfully, he didn’t see any of it.

Adam Lavigne: My roommate told me about that afterwards and I was really jealous that he got to hang out with her.

matthew warhol: Did you like each other’s work to begin with?

Adam Lavigne: Definitely, it was pretty clear—in class—that we were fans of each other. We had critiques and the other always had something to say.

Anna Cruz: And I feel like both of our works—when you go to school you see a lot of people that do student work—where at that point we already had a language that was developing. I think seeing each other’s work, and how different it was, really made us interested in each other.

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Adam Lavigne: There was something more cartoony about what we were doing that everyone else shied away from, because of this formalist attitude towards academic drawing. I just remember always being really impressed with Anna’s figures.

Anna Cruz: Same.

matthew warhol: How long into your relationship did you start working together?

Adam Lavigne: That was 2013, so it must have been three years later.

Anna Cruz: We didn’t see each other for a couple of years, but I knew you were still in town. I had a show in 2015 at Canvas Gallery, and he came to see it. He had been lurking my Tumblr. I was like, “I hope he comes.”

matthew warhol: Did you have one of those apps that let you know who visits your page, or was he liking stuff?

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was liking stuff.

matthew warhol: Oh, so you weren’t even being subtle about it. [laughs]

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was reblogging.

 Anna Cruz: And then, we had our first show together at A Place that year, but none of those works were made together. Being together a lot last year, it happened organically. I’m working; he’s working in the same space.

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matthew warhol: So you started creating stuff together, but individually?

Adam Lavigne: We did after that show. I would come to hang out with Anna and we would work on drawings together. It was really cool because we are both left-handed so I could sit right next to Anna while she was drawing and we wouldn’t bump elbows or anything. That was really exciting. [Anna laughs] We were getting more and more interested in print, making zines and stuff, so naturally, we were like, “We should make something together.”

Anna Cruz: The first actual time that we worked together, collaborating on one piece, was when we were making flyers for the A Place show.

matthew warhol: When you’re working on something together, how is the process different from when you’re by yourself?

Anna Cruz: I think it’s a lot more messy—in a good way. When I’m drawing alone, I have a specific idea of how I want something to look. Once I get there, I stop and I’m happy with it. But with him being there, we draw a bunch of stuff and pass it to each other.

Adam Lavigne: We also work on mylar and vellum, so a lot of times I’ll be able to ink something Anna’s drawn or vice versa. We can change the line work or the drawing that way—we work in layers.

matthew warhol: When do you know it’s done? Are you ever stripping things apart after?

Adam Lavigne: It just kinda piles up. We’ll never scrap something entirely, but there will definitely be a discard pile and one for the keepers.

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matthew warhol: Individually, take me through your process of working on a painting. [To Anna] I noticed in your work that there’s a lot of different elements.

Anna Cruz: I know I have a specific idea but it’s more like an intuitive idea—in like, I know how I want the painting to feel. I go on Instagram a lot and ever since they added the tag option, I’ve collected a lot of images of things that made me stop and look. It’s never copying a specific photo. It’s more like collaging with different photos I’ve collected. It’s very intuitive. I never know when I’ll be finished, but I KNOW when I see it. With portraits, it’s when the person feels real. It doesn’t look real, but it feels like a real character that exists.

matthew warhol: What about you, Adam?

Adam Lavigne: I guess I don’t tend to use reference material as much, but I have a lot of sketch books that I keep ideas in, so when I sit down to work on something I’m not pulling my hair out to do something new. Through drawing, you build a language that’s your own. It’s like a vocabulary you can draw in. I think about themes and symbols that I’ve generated over time and pull from those to make new work—maybe change those themes. But, the paintings have been more about the in-the-moment act of painting, responding to color, not really planning as much.

matthew warhol: When you’re separate, do you tell each other your opinions on what the other is doing?

Anna Cruz: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Yeah? How does that work? Because I know that can be a touchy area. Do you wait for the person to ask, “How do you think about this?”

[laughs]

Anna Cruz: It’s a tricky conversation at times. I feel like I’m very bossy—I usually know what I want things to look like, even if it’s not my own work. But it’s really whatever he wants it to look like. I tend to just shoot ideas. Lately, I’ve been doing that, but you always have a limit where like, “I need to think about this and process this without taking in what you’re suggesting.”

Adam Lavigne: It’s always much appreciated because I have a lot of respect for Anna’s opinion and for… the feedback that she gives me. I take it to heart and consider it, greatly. We’ll sometimes get really excited about what the other person is doing and not be able to contain it. Like, “Oh my God, that looks great.” Or, “DAMN.” There’s nothing else you can say. “You’re killing it.”

Anna Cruz: Those are really good moments. And the great thing about having those moments, is I didn’t show my work to anyone while I was working on it, I would never know when to stop. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear that it looks good the way it is.

matthew warhol: Maybe you were thinking about adding something and like, “Oh, this is great,” and you’re like, “I don’t need to change anything.”

Adam Lavigne: That’s happened to me a lot, where I think I want to do something else and Anna will be like, “Don’t touch it!” [laughs] That feels good, to know that someone can see it before anyone else and give you this really powerful feedback.

matthew warhol: How do you each other’s work has progressed since you first saw it?

Adam Lavigne: We’ve really developed as artists through each other. The best shows I’ve ever had have been our duel shows. When we’re at the studio, it’s like this unavoidable influence on the other.

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matthew warhol: Well, I think in any relationship, something you love about someone is seeing that person grow. Specifically, as artists, how have you seen that in each other?

Adam Lavigne: When we started working together, it became so much clearer what we wanted that vocabulary to be. And we could inform each other’s vocabulary. I definitely make more paintings now then I did before. I always resented the permanence of a painting, so for a long time I just made drawings. Through my relationship with Anna, I’ve been more excited about making paintings. And we both just started doing murals together.

Anna Cruz: With me, it was the opposite. I was making so many paintings and treated them like these precious objects. When I met him, his style of work was all about quantity. Seeing his sense of freedom encouraged me to work that way as well.

matthew warhol: What do you think the difference is between painting versus making something like a zine?

Adam Lavigne: It’s pretty huge. You’re like using different parts of your brain. Painting can be so nonverbal.

Anna Cruz: Painting is very direct. If you don’t react the first time you see a painting, it probably doesn’t even matter. When you’re reading a book, you might look over it today, but tomorrow it’ll mean something different. A painting is more visceral.

matthew warhol: Where with a zine, it’s more solid. There’s words.

Adam Lavigne: There’s definitely something tactile about holding books and reading zines. That’s drawn me to zines.

matthew warhol: You’re exploring it.

Adam Lavigne: I’ve found I’ll really torment myself when making a zine. And making a painting is the exact same way. You’ll sit in front of it and do nothing for like two hours, wondering if you should destroy it.

Anna Cruz: I think zine making is less scary for me, because I always have this closet of imagery and data I want to pull from. I never really feel alone. There’s always options.

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matthew warhol: I think there’s a little more structure with zines. Everything has to flow and feed off each other. Painting is just one thing. Here it is! Can we go through some of the paintings around us and talk about them a little bit?

Anna Cruz: Let’s look at the moons! They’re Adams.

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, so when I started making paintings again, I got really excited about the stretching and building of canvases. I never really thought about the options I had. These just started out as exercises in difficult canvas building. This is a twelve sided canvas.

matthew warhol: So why the half earth?

Adam Lavigne: I think it’s more like a rising earth. There may be a horizon line where you can only see part of the earth. Those photographs where you can see the earth from the moon, I’ve always been drawn to those as a symbol of our era. As an artist, you’re always looking for symbols that define the time you live in. The earth from the moon never existed before we traveled to the moon.

Anna Cruz: It’s really cool because I see a lot of that shape from painters that I follow on Instagram, but it’s usually a rainbow or watermelon. But like, I’ve never seen half an earth. It’s really cool.

matthew warhol: What about you Anna? What in here is from you?

Anna Cruz: These two. I usually am drawn to very warm, earth colors. These paintings are pretty much just about color. I hadn’t painted this year. I was scared to start again, so I bought all this new paint and started playing with the colors. Line work has always been part of my style; I continued with that.

matthew warhol: What do the colors in these pieces mean to you?

Anna Cruz: I think of them as times of day. This one is called Sunset Potrait, just thinking about being at the beach and it’s almost dark. This one is being in a jungle in the middle of the day, but not actually seeing the sun. And I put a pear because I love fruits. [laughs]

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wh0 is Halsi?

Halsi. Painter. Henao Party Starter. Orlando Figure. None/All of the Above.

June 15. Sugar Daddy Splash Zone.

Interview.


matthew warhol: I wanted to start off with art talk because I don’t really get a chance to talk about painting. Repetition is prominent in your work, whether it’s the character or noses or patterns. Could you go into that a bit? What are these things?

Halsi: The character was the first stepping stone for me in developing a style. I had been painting and drawing for years and never came across a style, something that gave me a sense of identity in the Orlando scene. I started doing the character and a friend of mine, Chris Tobar, he was like, “Yo, I really like this. You should keep doing these characters.” They were a little different back then. I kept doing them, but got to the point where I didn’t want to do them anymore. The noses came about my junior year of high school. I was in this alternative school called Chancery. Everyday, I’d draw faces over and over again. I got to the point where I could draw them anyway, huge, small. I like the repetition because it’s like a logo, instead of a business it’s a concept or an idea.

matthew warhol: People see the figure or the noses and they know it’s you. Specifically with the man or the nose, do you attach meaning to them?

Halsi: Um, there’s meaning to certain ones. Um, the character has the most meaning. The first character I did was like an archetype artist. You know how sometimes I have stuff inside of them, intestines and things? The whole concept was based on approaching somebody. Let’s say you see somebody walking up to you, and they’re walking on two legs. There’s this silhouette. It’s the first thing you see before you see their face—or whether it’s a girl or a boy. You’re like, “Oh, it’s a human.” You go from there. The more learn about them, the more you get to know them, the more things appear inside of them. The stuff that matters is all the stuff that appears inside of them. It’s like getting to know somebody. With my characters, you still don’t know what they look like. They’re… uh… genderless.

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matthew warhol: And so this stuff  *pointing to empty figure* it seems more like uh… like a shadow.

Halsi: I think it’s more with the branding when it’s a blank thing. It could be a baby. Or it could be somebody who doesn’t have much going on.

matthew warhol: I’ve seen your imagery in different spaces too, paintings, wheat paste–you’ve done purses, jackets, jeans. I also know you’ve done murals for businesses. You’re able to put your art literally everywhere. Seeing the imagery in all these  different places, there’s a street art element involved.

Halsi: I like street art in Orlando because it’s almost like a taboo. It’s cool because you know you’re going to get noticed. Any other city, there’s so many figures and wheat pastes and tags and stickers. I don’t really feel like I’m participating in culture, I feel like I’m one of the only people doing it. There are other people doing it, but not as prolifically.

matthew warhol: Were you tagging even before you were painting?

Halsi: Yeah, I was never good at doing graffiti, like the letters.

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matthew warhol: For me, I feel like your work is a mixture of street and fine art. And something cool about the Henao Center is that they accept both. There’s a gallery inside, but outside people can do large scale murals on the storage container and on the walls. And it’s constantly changing. How did you get involved with Henao?

Halsi: I was doing an art show over there and was just hanging outside with Jose. I saw a tattoo he had, at the bottom of it, it said “1973.” I’m a part of B-Side Artists—it’s a collective of artists, lot of older cats. One of the members, Palin Perez Jackson, he would paint “1973” in a bunch of his work. Seven or eight years ago, he got shot by the police—that was right when I was getting into the art scene, I was 11 or 12. Jose is a B-Side artist. We were talking and he said, “Yeah, I dropped off after Palin died because we were really tight.” We automatically clicked. I ended up crashing there for a month after some plans to move to Houston fell through. And that’s when I did Cultural Canopy.

matthew warhol: Had you put together shows like that before?

Halsi: No, it had a lot to do with the venue. With Henao, I can basically do anything. I can have people paint any wall; I can hang anything; I can come a week before and set up. I don’t really like curating shows.

matthew warhol: Why?

Halsi: Because it’s…

matthew warhol: Stressful?

Halsi: Yeah, before I didn’t have to ever hit anyone up. I could just do my own thing. Now, it’s so confusing. I have to stay on top of it.

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matthew warhol: I’ve slowed down booking lately because I found I wasn’t having much fun at my own events. I was constantly running around like, “You good? You good? You good?” So like, going from creating a painting to creating an event, I see a connection between the two. You have a vision of how the thing is going to turn out. What are the differences for you?

Halsi: Compared to a painting… I don’t know. I can knock it out all at once. An event is a month or two month journey until the pay off. I think that it’s funny that when you did events, you’d be stressed out trying to have everything run smoothly. When I do events, I just get drunk and everyone else figures it out. I don’t know anything about sound. Even if I was available, I wouldn’t be much help.

matthew warhol: So for Sugar Daddy Splash Zone, what’s going to be different?

Halsi: It’s going to be hot. Aside from that, I’m going to have five kiddie pools set up on the outdoor stage. The performers will perform in the kiddie pools. There will also be 142 six-packs of of ramen noodles stacked in a pyramid in the middle of the gallery.

matthew warhol: What’s that about?

Halsi: It’s just wacky. I always think of summer as wild, lighting off fireworks or jumping off of bridges. I’ve always had the idea of a ramen noodle pyramid, but I’ve never had the right setting. The pop ups will be in the gallery, and where the bar is, the indoor stage, will be all the art hanging on the walls. Outside there will be two self-standing mural walls with artists painting them. I’m excited to see the final product. I like changing everything—everything is completely altered. You’re in a different place. You’re at the Sugar Daddy Splash Zone.

matthew warhol: That goes back to what we were saying with creating a painting, the Henao is like the canvas you can play with. *Referencing something we were talking about previous to recording* Tell me about the water bottle thing? Can you speak on that?

Halsi: I can say that it’s called “The Water Bottle Project,” and it’s going to be… we’re packaging water from places the water is polluted—let’s say the Keystone Pipeline. I’m creating label designs for it. And we’re selling it. It’s very satire. It’s like, this water is coming out of their shower and going onto their skin, so let’s bottle it. It’s really fucked up though.

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matthew warhol: What do you mean?

Halsi: Water quality all across America and beyond—how they found pharmaceuticals in the water. I think it could be a groundbreaking art piece.

matthew warhoL: I’m trying to bring it all in in my mind. Whether it’s doing events or painting or the water bottle thing, I’m trying to get an overall idea of how you look at art, these projects.

Halsi: I don’t like a label. I’m not anything in particular. I have my style. I can also do events. It’s just creating stuff. It doesn’t make me an artist. I just like making stuff.

matthew warhol: Where does that come from, the desire to create?

Halsi: Um… it’s not me. It’s almost like everything I’m creating—that people are looking at—they’re looking at it more than they’re looking at me. It’s less narcissistic way to stay relevant. I love it when younger people will come up to me and compliment me on my art. I can see that they’re very awe inspired, like they could do the same thing. It’s very simple. It’s not a complex character. It’s just doing it.

matthew warhol: Who was that person for you? Who made you want to do it?

Halsi: Tobar.

matthew wahrol: Who is that?

Halsi: Chris Rodriguez Tobar. He’s the first guy I met that got me into the scene. I think I was nine or ten. He gave me a flyer to this skateboard art show. And you go to that art show and get a flyer for another art show.

matthew warhol: You were nine?

Halsi: Yeah, I was nine or ten. And I think that’s why I stuck out, being a little kid and going out. I started meeting people and they’d remember me because of that fact. I wasn’t really doing art at that time, either. But then I started and became a part of B-Side Artists. Tobar got me into it, and he still gives my opportunities now.

mattew warhol: What are some goals you have for your work?

Halsi: Uh, I want to travel, definitely leave the United States—I’ve never done that. Paint cool things, not normal stuff. If someone had a boat, I’d like to paint a boat so every week I’m doing something different. I think that’s why I’ve been bouncing around for so long. I just like being in different places creating.

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Sparkling Dance Party: Kira Kira Pop Brings a Variety of Japanese Genres to ORL

It’s hard to ignore the brightly-clothed, friendly-faced character that adorns Kira Kira Pop’s event artwork. The bubblegum idol has become the face of the recurring dance night’s brand for good reason; she reflects the high energy music found in the J-Pop and Idol culture their audience finds so addicting. (It’s not surprising to learn “Kira Kira” translates to “sparkling.”) Behind this colorful imagery are four co-producers Sam Harris, Joy LaFleur, Jason Rosa, and Cherry Wallflower. I met the four of them in the middle of Anime Festival Orlando to talk about the community they’ve fostered and the music they love. Enjoy.

Upcoming Events:

6/24: Kira Kira Pop — moistbreezy @ Bikkuri Sushi


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matthew warhol: I wanted to start off with a super general question. If someone had never heard of Kira Kira Pop before, how would you describe it to them?

Cherry Wallflower: Sparkling dance party! And… inclusive. And… welcoming. And… colorful. And… safe, happy, good vibes. Some people hold themselves back from going to an event because they don’t have a friend they can go with, but we hope that when people come here, they feel like they can be friends with everyone.

matthew warhol: Were any of you doing stuff before, whether it be in music or putting on events?

Jason Rosa: Yeah, Sam and I used to do a J-Pop dance show together for a brief period of time. It doesn’t need to be brought up [laughs]. And there was a show called Play It Loud that turned into a label I run. I stopped doing shows for a while, and [Sam] said, “Hey, do this show!”

Sam Harris: I was really passionate about doing something to promote Japanese music and culture. I had DJed at the show that [Jason] was originally doing, but we were interested in coming up with a new concept.

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matthew warhol: Is that where Kira Kira Pop started?

Sam Harris: Yeah.

matthew warhol: How did everyone else come together?

Jason Rosa: I knew [Cherry] from the old show at Bikkuri that she actually performed at.

Cherry Wallflower: You were friends with the person that was in my group. It’s all so embarrassing.

Jason Rosa: This was all based on a good foundation of cringe.

matthew warhol: Kira Kira was to get away from cringe?

Sam Harris: Reborn out of the embers of cringe.

Joy LaFleur: It comes with the culture, though. You have to be cheesy enough to make fun of yourself.

matthew warhol: How did you get involved Joy?

Joy LaFleur: I had attended the shows and would hand out flyers for them and stuff like that. Then I was like, “Hey if you need some more help, I really love this event.”

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matthew warhol: Really quick, let’s go down the line and tell me what you do for Kira Kira Pop.

Sam Harris: I guess we all consider ourselves co-producers, but I’m also considered the resident DJ.

matthew warhol: What is your DJ name?

Sam Harris: Hoshikuzu Kid, which means “Stardust Kid,” basically.

matthew warhol: What do you DJ?

Sam Harris: Basically, a mixture Japanese music styles: J-Pop, Japanese Hip Hop, Japanese Idol music, and Japanese electronic—like the underground electronic music.

Jason Rosa: I’m the executive producer of the show, basically responsible for everything that goes on at the show. The booking decisions are between all of us, but the actual communicating with the artists happens between Sam and I. I bring a bunch of connections from the label.

Cherry Wallflower: Let’s see… I do a lot of the video commercials we put on.

Joy LaFleur: You do all the idol research.

Cherry Wallflower: One aspect of our show is idol, which is a type of J-Pop genre. How do I describe it? It’s primarily people dancing and singing bubblegum pop songs. We try to have at least two idol acts per show. I guess my role is making friends and inviting them to perform.

Joy LaFleur: I’m an associate producer. I do some odds-and-ends and day of stuff, some talking to artists and getting information.

matthew warhol: Have you found that Orlando has been accepting of you?

Sam Harris: Yeah, we were completely surprised.

Jason Rosa: Orlando has changed a lot in the last few years, especially the people here. Maybe it’s just the area we’re in, but there’s more of a loving feeling, more of a community feel.

matthew warhol: Are you familiar with or have you seen people at your shows from Body Talk… or Jeff Marks—he does Hyperclub.

Joy LaFleur: Oh yeah, he’s a friend of ours!

matthew warhol: I love him. He got me into Nightcore and that’s probably how I found out about Kira Kira Pop.

Joy LaFleur: [banging on the table] I LOVE NIGHTCORE! Make sure you include the banging on the table.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: [banging louder] I LOVE NIGHTCORE!

Cherry Wallflower: Woah. [laughs]

Sam Harris: One of the first people who guided me with DJing was Phil Santos. When I first started, he showed me the ropes a little bit.

matthew warhol: Shout out Phil Santos. That’s really cool.

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Jason Rosa: When we started the show, we had some stuff we wanted to do and didn’t know how the Orlando community would take it. On the first flyer, we had it listed as “safe space.” We wanted to lay it down like, “This is what it is. We want this to be a welcoming environment.” It’s kind of difficult when you’re marrying those ideas with like idol. Where it’s very poppy and pretty and we love parts of idol culture, it also comes from cultural backgrounds that aren’t screaming towards inclusivity.

matthew warhol: You’re making your own thing.

Cherry Wallflower: That’s the goal.

Jason Rosa: You’re trying to make your own thing, hold up a bunch of things you’re passionate about, but not be appropriative at the same time, which is really, really difficult. Everything is nail-biting.

matthew warhol: That’s smart that you do that. If you didn’t you would be opening yourself up, and if you’re not handling it carefully, something bad could happen. Acceptance is important at shows in general, and I’ve been to Orlando shows where it doesn’t feel like that, and that’s not good for anybody.

Joy LaFleur: We are out to have a social agenda.

Jason Rosa: We have a very heavy social agenda that we keep well under wraps. We don’t market it.

Joy LaFleur: You feel it.

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matthew warhol: [Cherry], you were talking about how a lot of people are afraid to go to shows alone and not feeling accepted.

Cherry Wallflower: A person posted on the event page like, “Oh, I really want to go but I don’t have anyone to go with.” Then, someone responded, “We’re all friends here. It’s fine!” It sounds super cheesy but it’s so important. It always feels warm and tingly.

matthew warhol: I think that’s a stigma a lot of people hold towards local music—especially when people are building their own things—that they take themselves too seriously. And there are people who do that in every city and every culture.

Jason Rosa: Most things are run by a promoter, and the promoter is just…

matthew warhol: An asshole. I’ll say it, an asshole. Not all, but I’d say that is unfortunately far too many people’s experience dealing with promoters.

Jason Rosa: I’m trying to not continue that narrative.

Sam Harris: Their goals are completely different from ours.

Cherry Wallflower: I like to think of this not as just an event, but as a community that is consistently building. Through Kira Kira Pop, people have made friends with each other, gotten into relationships with each other.

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matthew warhol: Wait until you have a baby come out of it, a Kira Kira Pop baby. [laughs] Are there any guesses as to why you’ve had such great success so far?

Joy LaFleur: It’s because they feel safe and we create that family feeling so they want to come back. It’s not just people coming if they have work off. People make arrangements. People book hotels to come to this. People have flown from out of state because it’s an experience. The first show that I went to before I was a part of the team, I went with one friend that I knew. I didn’t know anyone else, but by the end of the night I was dancing with people and exchanging phone numbers and Facebook friend requests, making connections, making community. And I needed that so bad.

Sam Harris: The fact that you come out, makes you belong. You don’t have to do anything else.

matthew warhol: Another part of that, I think, is bringing people from out of state. It doesn’t feel like the same thing.

Cherry Wallflower: I also think it’s because we try to put on such an eclectic lineup. There are so many different types of people, you can’t really have cliques.

Sam Harris: We’re definitely pulling from different audiences. It’s all about diversity and quality.

Joy LaFleur: Diversity, not only showcasing really cool artists that might not always get noticed, but also bringing people that the audience might relate to more.

matthew warhol: That’s so important because at a lot of shows you only see one kind of person performing.

Joy LaFleur: It’s a lot of white dudes.

matthew warhol: Or I’ll go to shows and it’ll be all white people.

Jason Rosa: Every time we put together a KKP, we try to do everything we can to make sure that’s not the case. That has always been a the forefront of why we do this. Even the art, this isn’t going to be an anime who’s a traditional pale-skinned character.

Joy LaFleur: She’s a plus-sized person of color.

matthew warhol: The last thing I wanted to make sure we talked about was… on Facebook we were talking about doing the interview at the convention—we haven’t even mentioned we’re at an anime convention—but you said that this culture inspires you, but you wanted it to be clear that you’re separate from it.

Sam Harris: There’s a tad of irony that we’re here right now.

matthew warhol: You don’t want to limit your audience—that’s what I got.

Joy LaFleur: A lot of people that attend KKP go to anime conventions, but they’re not all from the conventions.

Jason Rosa: I’m just going to be real. A lot of people that we know make music that would be great at an anime convention. Anime conventions are not run by a lot of people that listen to music, nor care about the culture of the people that are in these things.

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Cherry Wallflower: They care more about money than anything. It’s understandable, business-wise.

Joy LaFleur: It’s a lack of social agenda.

Jason Rosa: I’m the oldest person here, and I know they used to be more community-based. What we’ve made is more like that community.

Cherry Wallflower: Before, conventions were more fan meet-ups. Then they grew and people are seeing that the can capitalize on it. They can use imagery that to bring people in. When people see Kira Kira Pop, they see an “anime girl” so they associate with cons, but we don’t want to limit ourselves.

Jason Rosa: We want all these people to meet and realize they have common ground.

Sam Harris: I think that what we have most in common with cons is our the fans’ passion for the culture, the music, bringing people together.

Cherry Wallflower: Once you become a regular at cons, you start to notice the skeevy things that happen. I wouldn’t say it’s accepted, but it’s common knowledge that there are predators that go after underage girls.

Joy LaFleur: We have zero tolerance.

Jason Rosa: We have people that host the show, oftentimes the maid cafe—shout out to Cafe Peko Peko. But when one of us takes the microphone, it’s kind of a break of the illusion of the night. When we do that we talk about what’s coming up, but also important things like people being safe and treated fairly and equally, and behaviors that are unacceptable. And you don’t have that at most shows. And it’s important to note that the venue has been incredibly supportive of that.

Joy LaFleur: Shout out to Bikkuri! Shout out to Tye, our security guard!

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A Shop Interview Orlando BLog
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The Birth of A-Shop: A Luxury Streetwear Boutique

Last November, Orlando said goodbye to A Place Gallery, a house for local and national art founded by not-for-profit Time Waste Management. An unfortunate blow to Orlando culture, one part of the space on the second floor of 647 N. Mills Avenue remained an art studio, a second part was given to new owners, and a third part was left empty. Empty, that is, until June 10, when it will house new art in the form of streetwear, luxury, and vintage clothing from Atlanta, Berlin, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New York City, and, of course, Orlando. A-Shop is curated and run by two local creatives, Vanessa Barros Andrade–Time Waste Management Vice President, DJ Deviant Art Heaux, & Creator of Puffy Pain–and Sarah Nicole Francois–founder and designer at 000SPORTWEAR. I was beyond thrilled to search through A-Shop get an in-depth look into how these two crafted this new kind of art gallery. Enjoy.

JUNE 10 GRAND OPENING EVENT


A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: I wanted to start by asking how the two of you met. How do you know each other?

[laughs]

Sarah Nicole Francois: The face we are both making right now, we’re both like, “Are you kidding me?” That’s the hardest question you could have asked. We’ve known each other for so long.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: I want to say since we were in middle school.

matthew warhol: Oh really? Cool. Would you say your senses of style developed together?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: I guess like, we were always into fashion and that’s what made us want to connect and made us closer. We noticed we were both weirdos who actually think about what we wear in depth, every day. [laughs] But they’ve definitely changed since we’ve known each other.

Sarah Nicole Francois: God, they’ve changed. I used to look so ugly.

matthew warhol: Hey, we all used to look ugly in middle school.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Oh yeah, truly. Now, Sarah strictly wears all black from head-to-toe.

Sarah Nicole Francois: Everyday. [laughs]

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

Vanessa Barros Andrade: You should see her closet. Um… and then I’m doing like a military, dictator, like… hoe.

[laughs]

Sarah Nicole Francois: I was waiting for that.

matthew warhol: Have you worked on stuff together before?

Sarah Nicole Francois: We’ve helped each other with projects, but that’s pretty much it. This is our first official thing together.

matthew warhol: So how did it go from an idea to this a shop?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Just as quickly as the idea came, this happened. Literally, over a cup of coffee, she was like, “Do you want to start a store?” And I was like, “Yeah!”

Vanessa Barros Andrade: That was literally it. I was like, “Well, I have this space and we both have experience in retail and both have brands.” I’m just like, “I need to do something with this space—it’s just sitting there and not doing anything.” And we drank a cup of coffee and were like, “Let’s do it.”

Sarah Nicole Francois: The coffee fueled us.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: How long ago was that?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Like three weeks ago.

Sarah Nicole Francois: For some reason, we gave ourselves this really short timeline. We still don’t know why we did that; it’s so crazy—we’re nuts. We were like, “We have to do this by June 10.”

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Our shop is a Gemini.

[laughs]

Sarah Nicole Francois: I’m still not about that.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Yesss.

matthew warhol: What has the process been to create this A-Shop?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: We started off with inventory. We’re like, “Okay, so now we have to message a million designers.”

Sarah Nicole Francois: So many fucking clothes.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: We know a lot of people that design so that was easy. I feel like that’s what made it possible. We knew like five off the top of our heads from Instagram.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: What was the next step after acquiring inventory?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: I guess interior design was next. We’re both minimalists. We need everything to be a canvas, white.

Sarah Nicole Francois: We have literally been painting anything you can think of white in the past week. There’s paint all over me. I’m like, “What else do I need to paint white?!”

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Everything needs to be blank because the clothes are going be very eccentric, costume-y, intense…

Sarah Nicole Francois: …fun.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Yeah, really fun, really flamboyant. So we couldn’t have busy hangers and fixtures. Everything has to be a canvas.

matthew warhol: The clothes are like the art on the wall, which is super appropriate because this used to be an art gallery.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Someone messaged me and said, “Oh my God, it’s wearable art now.”

Sarah Nicole Francois: Ah, we have too many slogans!

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: What are the other slogans?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Um, “URL to IRL,” because we’re bringing a lot of these internet designers together, creating a space for them. I’m a designer myself so I know the struggle of trying to be an independent designer and make a buck. It’s difficult. It’s difficult to get your foot in the door in this industry. It’s weird though because a lot of bigger brands feed off of people no one really knows. They steal their ideas but don’t give them the resources to build themselves. It’s hard to get into boutiques. So we’re creating that space for people.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Most of our designers only have online shops. Now they get to be in a physical space.

matthew warhol: Who from Orlando is included?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Um, meeee. My brand is going to be in here. We’re going to have some bags. I’ve been burning stuff a lot. I’m so obsessed; it’s fucked up. I can’t stop burning shit.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Gerry, he moved back from New York not too long ago. He just started designing clothes and I’m like, “I hate you!” His stuff is called Elevator, and it’s very, I want to say, luxury.

Sarah Nicole Francois: It’s really luxury, also minimal, like silhouettes. [Pointing] Those are culottes. He literally just made those and dropped them off like 15 minutes ago. John Jackson, he’s a local reseller. He resales BAPE and Supreme, but he also makes his own graphic tees and these super cool Mike Jones hats with the phone number.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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matthew warhol: How have you organized everything?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Right now, it’s not.

Sarah Nicole Francois: This is the only rack that’s ready. It’s all by aesthetic really.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Everything is mixed in. There’s probably five different people on this rack. We have Elevator, Post-Market Vintage, John Jackson, RJ—he collects post-Y2K aesthetic.

matthew warhol: I really like that idea, though. If someone comes in just to see their friends stuff, they have to look through everything else.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Exactly.

Sarah Nicole Francois: That was the thought.

matthew warhol: How frequently are you going to be open?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: For June, we have Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12-7—just because we’re lazy and want to sleep in.

Sarah Nicole Francois: No, that’s not true! We both have so much going on. We’re doing the most but we like it.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: That’s why I wanted to talk to both of you because you’re so active. [To Sarah] I know we’ve never met before, but I admire your work a lot. I love it.

Sarah Nicole Francois: Thank you so much—this is the second time I’m going to cry today.

[laughs]

Vanessa Barros Andrade: STOP! Oh my God, I’m going to cry.

matthew warhol: And of course, your DJing has been amazing. I’ve seen like two or three of your sets.

Sarah Nicole Francois: It’s so crazy! She just started. I don’t understand how you did that.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: I know. It’s soooo intense.

Sarah Nicole Francois: You’re so good already. It’s wild.

matthew warhol: Talking about the label of “streetwear,” because you’ve used the term to describe the store, what is it about streetwear that the two of you enjoy? What brings you to it?

Sarah Nicole Francois: I feel like that was the most fitting label. It’s sort of like a mix of everything, vintage, high street/low street fashion. What we think of is harajuku magazines where it’s a bunch of really cool Japanese kids in ridiculous clothing. They bite from everything. They’ll have Givenchy on with a grandma sweater. They mix it all, that’s their streetwear.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: It summarizes all the types of designers we have.

matthew warhol: So it’s just encompassing…?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Cool shit. Anything that’s dope.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: Wow we’re breezing through this.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: We have a lot of content. We talk a lot!

matthew warhol: Music, is that something that’s going to be a part of A-Shop? Are there going to be frequent events?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Yeah, we definitely want to throw monthly parties where we are celebrating a new shipment. We’re going to get some really great stuff from Berlin next month. It’s Mercedes’s Fashion Week and we’re getting new clothes specifically for that. We want to throw parties and have DJs. It’ll be chill because we share the building. We are also selling cassette tapes and 7-inches from Clandestine Channels.

Sarah Nicole Francois: We have so much coming in. We’re really excited.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Also, we should mention that we’re going to display different videos by different artists…

Sarah Nicole Francois: …anyone relevant to the clothes. Right now we have a music video Vanessa put together with Jason. We have a Mike Jones video to tie into the hats. We have my lookbook video, and we’re going to add Solange’s “Cranes In The Sky,” because we’re working on getting the designer that worked on the costumes for that video.

matthew warhol: Woah…. their actual work?

Sarah Nicole Francois: He’s a friend, but we’re still like “Uhhhh, I know you have a lot going on, but…”

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: What do you seed for the future of A-Shop?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Right now, we’re just focusing on getting as many of our designer friends as possible, exploring more artists. We get so many each day.

Sarah Nicole Francois: So many people make shit. It’s so much fun.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: It’s fun to go through their stuff, message them, see them get excited. Basically, meeting new designers, talking to more people.

Sarah Nicole Francois: I’m excited to see my stuff on the racks. It’s all in pieces at home right now. This is going to be the first time my work is going to be in a physical space, like ever, ever.

matthew warhol: The last thing I wanted to talk about was the Bungalower thing. I thought that was hilarious. Let me read what you wrote.

Sarah Nicole Francois: I don’t want to hear it. From his voice it’s going to sound so bad.

[laughs]

Vanessa Barros Andrade: WOW.

matthew warhol: What did you think about this?

Sarah Nicole Francois: It was a very pleasant surprise.

matthew warhol: Hipster-friendly though?

Vanessa Barros Andrade: We thought it was funny but also thought the adjective was annoying to use, because we specifically used so many different ones to describe our store.

Sarah Nicole Francois: Streetwear, luxury, vintage, Pick one!

Vanessa Barros Andrade: There were so many adjectives to use and they chose hipster.

matthew warhol: It’s such an old term now. Hipster is like 2009.

Sarah Nicole Francois: That’s like a term for anyone that someone over a certain age use for anyone who’s young. Like, “Oh, you guys aren’t normcore so you must be hipster.” No, not fucking hipster.

Vanessa Barros Andrade: We’re weirdos. We were frustrated but, at the same time, we thought it was funny so we started posting and making a joke.

matthew warhol: And then they changed it.

Sarah Nicole Francois: They changed it and it was so condescending. I was like “WOW!” That was funny.

matthew warhol: But they really nailed your brand after they changed it.

Sarah Nicole Francois: Now you get it.

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No Pulp w/ ORL Promoters Ugly Orange

In June 2016, Orlando music promoters Ugly Orange hosted their first event, a tour kick off for Lakeland’s Swept with support from The Knick Knacks (R.I.P.), Dumberbunnies, and The Zigs. Even before its start, each of UO’s three heads were already seasoned veterans in the Orlando music scene. Nicole Dvorak cut her booking teeth playing in numerous local bands, most notably Transcendental Telecom. Hannah Fregger had been a key member of monthly dance night Body Talk since its inception. And Kaley Honeycutt was performing with/booked shows for her synth pop trio Island Science and crafting amazing artwork for local bands and shows.

Together, Ugly Orange quickly became a brand boosting local and touring music, booking an average of two shows a month and collaborating with the likes of Always Nothing and yes, The Vinyl Warhol. They’ve also expanded beyond events, releasing a series of live session videos. I kicked it with two of The Ugly Oranges—Kaley has since relocated to Boston to be a rockstar in BABY—to see why they’re so damn cool. Enjoy.

Upcoming Events:

6/1: Crumb, Lance Bangs, The Welzeins, & Room Thirteen at Henao Contemporary Center

6/23: No Thank You, Brave Face, Spirit Maps at Henao Contemporary Center


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matthew warhol: I wanted to start with asking my good friends in the Orange community, how did you get together?

Nicole Dvorak: Tell him about, “Where is this bitch?”

Hannah Fregger: I was booking shows and helping manage Body Talk at the time. I booked Island Science for a Body Talk and Kaley and I kept in touch after that. After I was asked to leave Body Talk, I was feeling really sad, and saw that they posted a Facebook Status saying that they wanted to start doing shows that were powered by girls. They asked me to come over to Nicole’s house, and I’m perpetually late.

matthew warhol: You were late to this interview. And it was at your house.

Hannah Fregger: I was like seven minutes late, and I’m walking up to the door and hear Nicole go, “Alright, where is this bitch?!” And I knock on the door and everyone gets quiet. I’m like, “I’m right here.” We sat down and talked about music we liked and what we thought we wanted to do; we had our dreams in one little basket and they seemed to align. Here we are.

matthew warhol: What do you think the importance of it being female-powered is?

Nicole Dvorak: Oh, that’s a Hannah question. I didn’t even think about it being female. I’ve never even had that in the back of mind.

matthew warhol: But you’ve been in bands and stuff where you’re the only girl.

Hannah Fregger: At the same time, you’ve literally said that you’ve been asked to be in bands because your profile picture is you with a bass. This is an entirely sexist industry.

Nicole Dvorak: I should be promoting that fact.

matthew warhol: And you are, by default, just doing what you do.

Hannah Fregger: And at that time, the only people who were booking shows, besides Tierney, were a bunch of dudes. And they were putting on other dudes, which is fine, but there aren’t a lot of women. It’s a very male-dominated industry. People come up to us and say that’s one of the things they like most about our shows. And for me at least, I think girls are more visual. We want everything to look cool.

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matthew warhol: And that’s something that sets your shows apart. I think all good shows create a night, an atmosphere, something people are going to remember. How do you do that?

Hannah Fregger: We try to make things different each time.

Nicole Dvorak: I never want to put on a show of just locals. I want to have some fresh faces, and we’ve never booked a show without an out-of-town band as our starting point. We start with “Oh, we’re really excited about this band that hit us up,” and we go from there.

Hannah Fregger: Also, there aren’t a lot of venues to work with, and when that happens everything gets stale really fast. So you’re going to the Henao Center or Spacebar or Will’s, but I don’t want it to ever feel like you’re in those places. I want you to feel like you’re at an Ugly Orange show. We’ve never done the same thing twice. We reuse local talent but try to make sure everything is different on the inside, a little gimmick going on. We had macaroni n cheese one time.

matthew warhol: I’d say immersion hit its highest peak so far at the last show at the Henao.

Nicole Dvorak: Yeah, well that one was all Hannah Glogower.

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matthew warhol: She did an excellent job. With a space like that, it’s so big. I feel like to create an environment, you have to go all out.

Nicole Dvorak: But it’s also such a low-key, low pressure place, I don’t feel like I need to fill the space to make it a successful night. Will’s Pub, I feel like I need to bring in people.

Hannah Fregger: You can definitely feel it at Will’s if there aren’t a lot of people. And at the gallery, they have the big room where all the art is, so I think that takes the pressure because there is already some focal point. And the back room is bare bone, it’s guts like The Space used to be. Even if there’s only five people in there, you can still create really cool environments. That’s what Hannah did. She had one little idea as a jumping point, and she created the outdoor installation that was gorgeous.

matthew warhol: What’s been the most flattering moment so far?

Hannah Fregger: Freakin’ Cassie Ramone, dude. Oh my God, TONSTARTSBANDHT that’s crazy! I think, recently, a lot of people have been reaching out to us, which is crazy.

matthew warhol: What show have you been most proud of?

Hannah Fregger: I think that the coolest thing we’ve done so far is the one at the gallery.

Nicole Dvorak: The most recent one?

Hannah Fregger: Yeah. The Ace Metric show was super fun too, but I felt really stressed that night.

Nicole Dvorak: I feel completely the opposite. I was so stressed during the show at the gallery.

matthew warhol: Why?

Hannah Fregger: We’ve never worked with people with guarantees before. We never make a profit.

Nicole Dvorak: Also, Henao is still in its beginning stages. They don’t have a sound guy. We’re still figuring it out there.

Hannah Fregger: And that’s one of those things where I have no idea. I let Nicole do that.

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matthew warhol: Nicole, I remember we were talking at the Ace Metric show that that was one of your favorite moments, getting to do something at a bike shop.

Nicole Dvorak: Oh God, yeah.

matthew warhol: As someone who loves Orlando, seeing a local business, local music, and a local booker coming together…

Nicole Dvorak: That’s what really did it for me. I’m trying to bring everybody up with me—and she feels the same way. Michael at the bike shop has become a really dear friend of mine. And when we bring Hannah Glogower on board and seeing them profit off a show, that’s the rewarding part for me.

Hannah Fregger: There’s so much mutual respect within the community. Especially with The Vinyl Warhol, if there’s ever someone that reaches out to me that I think is more up your alley, I’m going to send it to you, same thing with Harryson and SR50. They have a grasp on different genres.

Nicole Dvorak: Also, shout out Hannah Spector, one of my favorite artists in town. She has had work at like three shows and has been a huge help.

Hannah Fregger: Always reliable, everything always looks so good.

matthew warhol: To what you said about everyone coming together, something I’ve said many times is that, because we’re so much smaller than a city like New York, to have the impact of a big city everyone needs to work together. That wasn’t really a question, but you want to agree or rebuke it, go ahead.

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Nicole Dvorak: Yes and no, I go to New York and they have their own little cliques and get caught up going to the same shows. I think it’s cool that you do stuff that brings different communities together, and I want to definitely do that too.

Hannah Fregger: I think what sets Orlando a part, even from cities like St. Petersburg or Tallahassee, is that the city itself doesn’t support its alternative community. That’s why all the good stuff dies, The Peacock Room, The Space. If the city were backing us, if we had more support, we could have a really strong community. It’s a big small town. Sometimes I step outside of my bubble, and am amazed. Like, the ska scene is alive in Orlando!

Nicole Dvorak: That’s why the death of Spacebar and The Space is so detrimental.

matthew warhol: It needs to grow, more and more venues. Not just replacing the one that dies.

Nicole Dvorak: It can’t be like that.

Hannah Fregger: We had A Place Gallery around for a year. The city didn’t support them as an art gallery so they had to stop. If there was more support and funding from bigger community members, it would be able to actually create a culture that could stay. That’s why everyone leaves because nothing good can stay here. You reach your ceiling and you have to bolt.

matthew warhol: What else would you improve?

Nicole Dvorak: The whole point of why we do this is to get artists that we like to come down here and see how cool it is. Hannah and I take care of them every time. She makes the breakfast in the morning. We already have artists coming back that are from Colorado and Iowa.

Hannah Fregger: Karen Meat is coming back. Hypoluxo is coming back.

Nicole Dvorak: Hopefully, they’re spreading the word for people to come down.

Hannah Fregger: We just want to create a place where people feel comfortable and safe. We don’t mind if only 15 people come out to a show as long as you had the best night, ya know?

matthew warhol: But that doesn’t really happen anymore for you guys.

Hannah Fregger: Not for a while, but now it’s going to happen. You’re jinxing us.

matthew warhol: So it won’t, what’s next on the horizon?

Hannah Fregger: I think especially because this was our first year, we weren’t saying no to much. I think we’ve figured our shit out now.

Nicole Dvorak: Personally, I like the video aspect. And she’s really good at interviews.

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Hannah Fregger: I want it to be more of an homage to different music publications… and collectives too. Like Hardly Art and Panache Booking, they all work together and make sure that not only that they’re doing well, but that everyone else is supported. We want to be that for Orlando. Hopefully, we can keep being a jumping off point for local talent and touring talent, making lasting connections.

Nicole Dvorak: And establish more of an online aspect, that’s important to me.

matthew warhol: What shows are coming up?

Hannah Fregger: On June 1, we have Crumb, Lance Bangs, Room Thirteen—who I’m super excited to have back from New Orleans—and, our friends, The Welzeins. It’s going to be a very cool show for The Welzeins because they are no longer a two-piece.

matthew warhol: I heard about that. They’ve spent like the last five years as a two-piece.

Hannah Fregger: It’s going to give them a really big sound. Their sound is big to begin with; RJ’s amps are bigger than him.

Jon Bartee [who’s been sitting quietly watching us talk]: They’ve practicing as a three piece for like two or three months now.

matthew warhol: That’s so good… am I interviewing you?

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[laughs]

matthew warhol: I’m just kidding.

Nicole Dvorak: That was so [clap] fucking [clap] good [clap] Matt.

matthew warhol: Any other solid dates booked?

Hannah Fregger: We have Tall Juan coming on July 5. He just played both weekends at Coachella and is on BUFU Records.

matthew warhol: Where’s that?

Hannah Fregger: It’s going to be at Deadly Sins Brewery. And then we have No Thank You on June 23rd with Brave Face.

Nicole Dvorak: And Frank Ocean is coming in July…

Hannah Fregger: …July 37th. He’s only going to play “Chanel” in different languages…

Nicole Dvorak: …to us two. Nobody else is invited. I’m so sorry.

Hannah Fregger: You know what I think we should do? I’m serious about this. Petition for Jack Black to come and play a show as Mr. Schneebly,.

matthew warhol: Ew.

Nicole Dvorak: For some reason I thought you meant Jack White.

matthew warhol: Petition Jack White to come play as Jack Black as Mr. Schnebly.

Nicole Dvorak: Next question.

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matthew warhol: Which School of Rock character are you most like?

Hannah Fregger: I’m Summer.

Nicole Dvorak: Dude, I’m Ned Schneebly, dude. Well, I’m Dewey Finn pretending to be Ned Schneebly,.

matthew warhol: Who am I?

Hannah Fregger: um… Billy.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: Is that the guitar player?

Hannah Fregger: No, that’s the fashion designer.

matthew warhol: Come on?!

Nicole Dvorak: “You’re tacky and I hate you.”

matthew warhol: You are tacky and I do hate you, Nicole.

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Sounds Within Sounds: (the) Harsh(est) Radish

A man and his four cats. This is the party I’m greeted by when I walk into the apartment of Russell Parker, a multi-talent Orlando artist who makes music under the name Harsh Radish and shoots video with ORL collective Always Nothing. I really started getting into his glitchy brand of singer-songwriter/electronic sounds while touring with fellow locals, Slumberjack. The lyrics I heard were deeply personal, and the music presented along with them was wildly creative and engaging. Live, Harsh Radish is a one-man enigma, layering guitar, samples, drum machines, and his voice into one. Besides his creative endeavors, Russell is a just great person to have a conversation with. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

Friday, May 26 at Will’s Pub w/ Emperor X, Someday River, DONKNG & Slumberjack


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matthew warhol: I wanted to start by going through everything you do, because I know you’re involved in so many different things. You do music as Harsh Radish. You work on the Aways Nothing videos. I know you work at The Orlando Science Center—also doing video stuff?

Harsh Radish: Projection.

matthew warhol: Am I missing anything?

Harsh Radish: I do some other—besides Always Nothing— I do some filmmaking stuff. I just recently helped a friend shoot her thesis film for grad school. I used to do a bit more filmmaking and photography stuff, but lately it’s been more sound oriented. I’ve been focused on all things sound, music—and also field recording.

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matthew warhol: That’s like uh… like recording something on the spot. Like in nature or something? [laughs]

Harsh Radish: Yeah exactly, whether it’s in actual field or even in the parking lot.

matthew warhol: Where all have you been doing stuff?

Harsh Radish: You’d be surprised, once you turn on a recorder and put on some headphones, you hear thousands of sounds even just outside of my apartment. Last night, it was raining and there were some frogs. There’s a laundry room back there, and the dryer was running. You get a mix of everything. Some of it I like on its own and other times I’m collecting sounds to sample. That’s a big part of the Harsh Radish music, making sounds out of other sounds and finding sounds within sounds.

matthew warhol: When your recording, do you have an idea of the sounds you want, or does it come more organically, finding different bits?

Harsh Radish: Definitely the latter…

[One of Russell’s cats is scrapping something in the background. He tries to get it to stop.]

matthew warhol: Oh don’t worry, don’t worry about that. It’s fine.

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Harsh Radish: …that was definitely a big shift in my music that really started with Harsh Radish. I was in a lot of bands, but the songs that I wrote never really got put out there. Before, I was trying to do the former where I had this concept of what the song was going to be before hand. But that would never work. I would always be disappointed because it would ever be what I imagined it to be. Instead of that, I started thinking about songwriting as like taking little seeds and letting them grow into something that I didn’t plan or couldn’t expect.

matthew warhol: How does that happen?

Harsh Radish: Sometimes it starts with something as small as a sample. I’ll have this sound that I can start sequencing in my OP-1 or the Octatrack there. Sometimes it starts with that or something on the guitar. Guitar was my first instrument.

matthew warhol: You let it happen in the moment.

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Harsh Radish: Usually, it’ll be when I’m not trying to write songs; I’ll be like trying to practice for a show with a limited amount of time. Something will happen and I’ll have to record a little snippet on my phone…

[Another cat starts batting around a toy that bings every time it rolls. Russell tries to stop it.]

matthew warhol: No, I love it. Keep going. 

[bing, bing]

Harsh Radish: …I’ll have to start collecting bits and pieces and forming them into something.

matthew warhol: Have your cats made it onto anything?

Harsh Radish: Have they? I think one of their toys did. I have some recordings of them meowing and eating and stuff like that. They definitely will.

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matthew warhol: So, you’re album came out in late 2015?

Harsh Radish: Yeah, I’ve kind of been sitting on a lot of stuff trying to finalize something.

matthew warhol: What are you working on?

Harsh Radish: I’ve got 20, 30-something songs. I’ve narrowed it down, recently, to like 12 to 15 of them that I want to form into a new album. This one has been taking really, really long for some reason.

matthew warhol: Do you have a deadline for yourself?

Harsh Radish: It always gets pushed back. The current deadline is… sometime in June. There’s a lot of songs that are in a mostly finished state but I feel as a whole, there’s something missing.

matthew warhol: Do you do it all yourself?

Harsh Radish: All by myself.

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matthew warhol: Listening back to the last record—I don’t know how much you’ve revisited it—what do you think of it now that it has been a couple of years?

Harsh Radish: I always feel like… it’s hard for me to get a clear picture of where I’m at now. I feel like I’m always a couple steps ahead of myself. The music that I’m going to release next is surely a progression from the last album. But I feel like I’m a step ahead of the music that I’m trying to put out soon. There’s a lot of weird projects that I want to do. I need to finish a lot of things I’ve already started, but I want to do something a little more conceptual. Like making a soundtrack for an imaginary virtual reality game—that’s an idea. It gives me some limitations. If I don’t have limitations, I’ll spend forever on something or never finish it.

[Another cat start scratching something.]

[laughs]

matthew warhol: Is there something new that’s happened in your life that you’ve been drawing inspiration from?

Harsh Radish: Talking about lyrical content… I always forget the saying… “seeing the forest through the trees?” So I’m not quite there yet, but from what I can tell this one has a lot more uncertainty that the last one. I think the last one had a little more optimism, but this one seems to be more… uh, seeing things as bigger than me or beyond my ability to perceive. Certainly, the political climate has influenced that.

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matthew warhol: I think that’s a part of getting older. Don’t you think? Am I projecting? [laughs]

Harsh Radish: There’s an element of that, but it’s weird to think of growing as a person. I used to think you learn more as you get older but the older I get, the less I feel like I know. I think that’s what is reflected in the music.

matthew warhol: You were saying that when you were in bands before, that getting your own music out there was harder. What do you like about doing it all yourself? And what limitations are there?

Harsh Radish: We’ll see if this answers your question… I, I became a lot more capable from a managerial standpoint. I wasn’t really talking to anyone other than the people I was in bands with. Harsh Radish helped me start talking to people and participating in the music community. So many hard working people doing the same thing that I want to do. As far as the songwriting, it allows to me to waste more time, in a good way. I don’t have the fear that something isn’t going to work. I can be a curator of my own little experiments.

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matthew warhol: You used to do a lot of looping, right?

Harsh Radish: It’s evolved over time. Initially, I had an actual loop pedal where I would make beats and sounds and stuff and have that loop. Part of me lost interest in that because, for me, it felt like kind of a circus trick. It’s totally like a valid, cool thing to do, but for me, it wasn’t what I wanted to focus on. I wanted to focus on the composition of the songs and some of the other performative elements. I still have some preset loops, though. It’s all up to me, what I have preset and what I play live. It’s whatever I feel like is going  to bring out the most energy. I don’t want to leave too much for me to juggle, but I don’t really feel comfortable standing there with a microphone, not  having my hands engaged at all.

matthew warhol: What else has changed?

Harsh Radish: It’s more freedom. I’ve given myself the option to make the songs a little more dynamic.

[The fourth and final cat climbs onto my lap]

matthew warhol: Aw, you’re cute.

Harsh Radish: She’s being very sweet.

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matthew warhol: They just like me. So the last thing I wanted to ask you–this is because I was revisiting the album today–a line that sticks out to me is “Have you ever made a choice between your lover and your voice?” So I wanted to ask you that question that you ask to the audience. Tell me about where that came from.

Harsh Radish: Let me preface it by saying that I don’t want songs to be entirely inward gazing. I want to have something universal, but I don’t think speaking in vague terms is the best way to do that. I think speaking in about specific things helps that. I think that song and question are about commitment in the context of a relationship. When you share your life with another person… the question is are you giving up something essential about you?  There’s a fear there, but it’s me quelling that fear.

matthew warhol: So it’s not necessarily a bad thing?

Harsh Radish: Not for me, but for someone it could be. There’s a part of me where I think changing yourself is really good. My partner and I balance each other out really well.

matthew warhol: I think, like you were saying, you can take your experience and apply them to something grander.

Harsh Radish: The intention for that greater thing is commitment to anything. You have a limited amount of time. What are you going to spend your time doing? You have an infinite number of choices. What has value?

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