I wasn’t sure that the ORL holiday institution known as Sweater Fest would even happen this year. Longtime show runner Dave Hanson left for one of those more western states a while ago and moths ate my sweater back in July–two shots to the heart. But instead of being lost to Semolina Leucotricha, the wool helm was passed to one Bobby Hellmuth, a local musician that happens to look like Jesus, who resurrects the night at the Henao Center. Another addition comes in the form of charity, as proceeds from the show go to benefit the Zebra Coalition, a non-profit that provides essential services for LGBTQA+ youth at risk or in need of a safe haven.
This year performers include Savants of Soul, Someday River, Pleasures, Soapbox Soliloquy, Zap Dragon, FIONA, and my asshole roommate GRANT. Get a taste of what’s to come in the Spotify playist below and check set times so you can avoid the band your ex is in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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]
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Kaley Honeycutt. This pop force first came into my knowledge back in 2015, when she was hustling in the the criminally short-lived synth pop trio Island Science. But, as they say, all things happen for a reason, and for Kaley that reason was BABY. This solo project fused Frankie Cosmo-like jangly rock tunes with a perfect aesthetic, brought to life by Kaley’s own design. Now, this pop package has been polished further with the help of Maryland-based record label Yellow K, and she’s ready to take on the indiesphere.
BABY’s debut EP Pick Me is out today (premiered here). It gives you a taste of her infectious, fun attitude, but due to its short runtime, leaves you wanting more sweet ear candy. You want more of the party. You want to watch the music video. You want to see her live. It hypes you up for her future work. She hazily coos like a stoned Zoey Deschanel on the EP’s first song “Home, Sweet Home.” It’s a moment that sums up everything BABY is about, friends, a good time, and a forever summer. She may have moved to Massachusetts, but Kaley still hasn’t lost her Orlando glow. 🙂
Harry Morall III (better known as FIONA) is an Orlando rapper, producer, DJ, Twitter lol factory, and one-half of weekly dance night Talk Yo Shit. Physically, he’s very intimidating at well over six feet tall, a mountain of a man. As a rapper, he fires confident lines over self-produced beats as depicted on his debut album, GOLDBABY. But those who know him through his online persona, know he’s actually funny as fuck and sweet as sugar. So of course, we met at the Central Florida State Fair to talk about his many successes and future plans. Enjoy.
matthew warhol: Well I’m glad we’re like, getting to talk. Because we haven’t really done that yet. It’s cool because I’ve been doing an interview every week for a while now and you’re one of the people I’ve really wanted to get because you do so much: you have the DJ stuff, you do your own music, you have events, a weekly event. So like… why? Why do you give to Orlando so much? What’s it mean to you?
FIONA: I mean… honestly, it was out of necessity. I was just bored and had to live here and there was nothing to do. I would go out, and there would be no good DJs. SO I was like “Fuck it, I’ll learn how to DJ.” And certain genres of music wouldn’t be coming through town, so I was like “Fuck it, I’ll start booking shows.” The lack of options forced me into it.
matthew warhol: When did you start?
FIONA: I started making music seriously around 2012 and then that kind of grew on its own with my rapper stuff. I wasn’t booking shows or producing, I was just rappin’ for fun — I used to make dumb shit — and people liked it. And then in 2014, Barbecue Bar closed. I used to go there all the time because I could get free alcohol, and obviously, I’m going to go to the free alcohol place. And so once the free alcohol place was closed, I wanted to do something still and everything downtown sucks. So, I started my own thing.
matthew warhol: Is that Talk Yo Shit?
FIONA: Yeah, that’s how Talk Yo Shit was born. Then I got with Jeremey (Grape La Flame) — he’s the other guy I started Talk Yo Shit with — and he works at The Beacham. The people that own The Beacham bought Barbecue Bar and turned it into Olde 64 or whatever. They really gave us the freedom to do, literally, whatever we wanted back there.
matthew warhol: How long has that been goin’ on now?
FIONA: Like two years.
matthew warhol: Of the every week thing?
FIONA: No. It started out as a monthly in The Social. Then it went from monthly to weekly, and I didn’t think the weekly would work. Because most weeklies around here don’t last. But it actually worked out because we were able to build a consistent following. People come to that thing [banging on the table] every, single, week. Most people who start weeklies are lucky to last a year, and we’re at two and we don’t even advertise. I’ve never made a flyer. I’ve never put up a poster. I’ve made Facebook events — that’s the extent.
matthew warhol: You don’t even do that anymore.
FIONA: Yeah, I stopped doing that because I didn’t need to. Because people kept showin’ up.
matthew warhol: Why?
FIONA: If you do something dope, word of mouth is going to always work — not just in music but in anything in life — if you have a good product you won’t have to advertise. People will advertise for you. If you go to a great restaurant and have a great dinner, the first thing you want to do is tell everyone about it. So if you’re putting on dope shit, people are like, “Yo, come check out Talk Yo Shit, blah, blah, blah.” And it was easy because we didn’t have any competition.
matthew warhol: I don’t think people want to book on Thursdays in a lot of places. People already know that half of their people aren’t going to be there because they’re going to be at Talk Yo Shit.
FIONA: We’re very fortunate to be in that situation.
matthew warhol: One thing that made me think about is an interview I did with Alexia, my girlfriend. And we were talking about her experience as a black woman and in the music scene, and a lot of time she’s the only black person there. And she feels alienated because of that. So I was asking her what events she would recommend to other people of color who often feel that, and the one she named right off the bat was Talk Yo Shit. And it really means a lot to her.
FIONA: We definitely did that on purpose. Making something diverse doesn’t mean white people can’t come or don’t come. It’s truly diverse. We have this idea in America that diversity is ten white people and a black guy, and that’s not real diversity. So we wanted to do something that everyone would enjoy. I don’t have to advertise that. It’s the style.
matthew warhol: Is that why you think it’s been able to stick around? A lot of weekly events are too niche or the people there are elitist.
FIONA: There’s a whole lotta DJs, and it’s not just an Orlando thing, that have a certain attitude towards certain crowds or music. I’ll play anything and I think that being able to mix it all together is part of why you can have such a diverse crowd — if I’m going from Kodak Black to Fergie, from Boogie to Britney Spears, Sheryl Crowe to frickin’ Three Six Mafia. I try to cover all bases, but still, find a way to keep it funk. Because funk is a genre, but it’s also a feeling.
matthew warhol: I think that — going from Sheryl Crow to Three Six Mafia — is such a you thing. If a random DJ played that it wouldn’t work, but because it’s you people are like, “It’s Harry playing this!”
FIONA: I guess so. And I guess it’s cool.
matthew warhol: You have a brand. It’s like with your Twitter stuff too.
FIONA: It wasn’t even intentional. I just talk a lot of shit. And the thing about Twitter is that it is a battle to see who can say the most outrageous thing. You gotta have the hottest take of all the takes.
matthew warhol: Have there been any Twitter moments that stood out for you?
FIONA: There were two moments. One, I made this random joke one night about Syrian refugees. I was like, don’t worry about getting kicked out of the country, they’ve been trying to kick black people out of the country for years. But I said it in a real funny way. I went to sleep and when I woke up it was retweeted like 40,000 times. Which is fine, but then it started blowing up on Muslim Twitter. And I didn’t even know there was a Muslim Twitter. Then it got all the way to Syria, and I got messages from actual Syrians who were tweeting me from bombed out buildings and shit. And they were like, “Oh, I fucks with you.” Oh, and this was back when I first got Twitter, like 2009. And back then, I feel like celebrities were more active. One day, I was trolling Lily Allen and she was going on about how people who pirate her music are the scum of the earth. I took a screenshot of me bootlegging her album and sent it to her. And she went off on me. I was in troll mode. And then a week later, I read the news, “Lily Allen Retiring From the Music Industry,” because too many people are pirating her stuff. And that was my achievement of the century. That was pretty cool.
matthew warhol: Going into the music side of stuff, why did you decide to change your rap name from Mr. 3 to FIONA?
FIONA: I made a lot of music under the Mr. 3 name that doesn’t represent where I’m at in my life right now. It just really isn’t the aesthetic I’m going for now. I appreciate that — it’s where I learned how to make music — but I really wasn’t taking it seriously while I was doing that. And I almost feel bad because people still like that shit. But I made most of that stuff as a joke between me and my friends. Also, I was really jackin’ for beats at that time so all the shit I was rapping on isn’t necessarily cleared or approved. Now I produce for myself, but then I didn’t know how to.
matthew warhol: So now that you’re taking it more seriously, what does that mean? What’s the goal?
FIONA: I mean, I don’t even know if there’s a specific goal. One of the main things that I’m about is I want to do as much as I can by myself. I’ve had management before. I’ve been with a record label before. And I learned a lot, but what I really learned is that I can do it myself. There’s nothing that a manager can do for me that I can’t do for myself. I’m also a perfectionist, so I don’t want something to mess up and it be on somebody else. I’d rather it be on me. I have a law degree too. So there’s not a contract that I can’t read and not know what’s on it. Hell, I could write the contract, ya know? My point is that I want to be a one-man-band. That’s why I learned how to produce and engineer and DJ. I didn’t know how to do any of that two, three years ago.
matthew warhol: And GOLDBABY is a pretty decent chunk of time that it was made over, right?
FIONA: It took about a year to make. I didn’t just make it in one sitting.
matthew warhol: There was a lot of different sounds on that. Was that a conscious effort? Because to me when you said that this is the first time you were producing … I don’t want to say play, but you wanted to try everything?
FIONA: I guess so, but it’s also a reflection of my taste. I have a wide variety of taste. So there’s a lot of different sounds that I wanted to play with.
matthew warhol: Going forward, do you think you’ll music will always have a lot of different sounds?
FIONA: I can see myself doing an album where I have a theme or something like that, but I’ll always remain diverse, just because my influences are diverse. The more sounds you make, the more original your shit can sound, the more people you can appeal to. So I’m not trying to limit myself because, low-key, I’m trying to make a couple bucks, ya know? I’m not one of those people who are anti-popular. I want the mainstream to pay me, fuck yeah! Got me fucked up!
matthew warhol: So what does the future look like?
FIONA: I mean, this DJ thing is taking legs I didn’t expect. I was doing it as a side thing just to keep my name in the streets without having to rap. I don’t like doing a lot of rap shows because I put a lot of effort into them and it’s hard to get a band together.
matthew warhol: So what’s been opening up?
FIONA: Not much that I want to divulge right now because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I have plans to make the step to the next level and start monetizing. I wanted to make sure I was good enough to monetize. I wanted to make sure that when I made that leap that I wasn’t just good enough to do this, that I was better than most of my peers. First, I wanted to make an album 100% by myself.
matthew warhol: What do you think of Orlando rap?
FIONA: I feel like the problem isn’t the talent, it’s the city, as far as how the city embraces and cultivates local music versus other cities. If you go to places like Atlanta, Miami, LA to a degree, Chicago, there are much more opportunities for local musicians to make a living off being a local musician.
matthew warhol: Is that just because it’s a bigger market?
FIONA: Not even. If you go to Chicago, there are local rappers that make a fuckload of money just on their side of town. You can get famous in your neighborhood and have enough to eat. There’s no local rapper making that on a local show.
matthew warhol: So how does that happen? I feel like a lot of people use Orlando as a platform city to then go somewhere bigger, but how do we become a city like that?
FIONA: There’s two ways. If all those people that left, stayed, this place would pop. But you’re asking those people to sacrifice their careers trying to build something from the ground up. What would also need to happen, is you need an investment into the arts from either the city or a philanthropist. You’ll need some rich people with some fuckin’ money to invest in the city and give local musicians a platform — not just at the Bahama Breeze. And once you create that culture and constantly have quality experiences, people will come. A lot of people find it hard to bring crowds out here and honestly, it’s not the people; it’s the product you’re putting out there. A lot of guys are lazy and don’t put effort into it and wonder why people don’t show up.
matthew warhol: So what is that effort then?
FIONA: The effort isn’t in the advertising. It’s in the music, the atmosphere, the performance, the little details, separating yourself from the rank and file. Making yourself your own, individual artist. As I said before, if your product is good you don’t have to advertise. So my goal, any artist or business person’s goal, is that you announce that you’re doing something and that’s it. You’re on some fucking Beyonce shit, dropping the album and selling a million copies in the first 22-minutes. If you advertise with your product, you won’t have to advertise twice.
I’ve been so lucky to watch Alexia Clarke grow creatively. Since starting fem zine Phosphene Girl in December 2015,she’s repeatedly poured her feelings onto paper, whether they be about body image, race, self-acceptance, or relationships. This Friday, bae will be hosting Combination 5 as a part of ORL dance-curators, TMD. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.
matthew warhol: So … I don’t really know what to ask you, because I know you so well. So, how are you involved with the TMD event?
Alexia Clarke: I’ll be hosting TMD Combo 5 this Friday. This event is different because they’re trying to kind of expand their community and the people who attend it. TMD for so long was just like, straight white guys, so now we’re finally incorporating in a female DJ who is also a person of color and all the proceeds we make are going to Planned Parenthood.
matthew warhol: And Alana is involved, too.
Alexia Clarke: Mhm! Alana’s going to be selling zines and art and I will also be selling zines!
matthew warhol: Are you nervous because you’ve never hosted anything before? Do you know what you’re going to say?
Alexia Clarke: I’m really excited because I’m good at things like that.
matthew warhol: Like what?
Alexia Clarke: Like, getting up to a mic and saying whatever I feel like. I like the power in it, also.
matthew warhol: What are you going to say?
Alexia Clarke: I don’t know. I think i’m going to plug my friends a lot. Make it known that this show is different, and we’re kind of taking it over.
matthew warhol: What do you think the importance of it is?
Alexia Clarke: I think it’s important for everyone to feel like they’re included for once. I think it’s important, because like when I go to events and I don’t see other people that look like me — like other girls of color or just black people in general, it sucks. I feel like this event is the beginning of seeing other parts of Orlando and other parts of this giant scene that has only belonged to this one specific demographic. It’s just the fact that we need the right people. And I think that’s why I’m really into being included. Like yes, I am this person of color, and yes, I am incorporated in this scene, but I still don’t really feel like a part of it in some way. This event is kind of my way of saying, “I’m here! I’m doing this! I can’t be ignored!”
matthew warhol: When was the first time you were more than just a bystander in the Orlando art scene?
Alexia Clarke: When I did spoken word. For once in my life, I felt like I was being heard and people are finally understanding the way I feel. After that, I got involved with Tittie Thyme. We put together an event to showcase women, called Ladies Get Lit. I put out my first zine then.
matthew warhol: What made you want to do it in the first place?
Alexia Clarke: I was really sad. And Ijust needed a positive and productive way to put my time.
matthew warhol: Why were you sad?
Alexia Clarke: I don’t wanna talk about it. [smiles]
matthew warhol: But, you’re not sad about that anymore? So why did you continue making zines?
Alexia Clarke: I think because Phosphene Girl has always been a safe haven for me in the last two years. And even if I don’t feel sad, it’s a way for me to put all of these thoughts that I’ve had into one cohesive book. It’s kind of like a yearbook for me, I can like look through them and just be instantly transformed back into that time where I felt exactly like that. And it’s cool because those are the important things that I need to remember, you know? Like when I felt like the lowest of the lows, and when I didn’t like my body or thought no one loved me. I think it’s really important.
matthew warhol: What are the themes that you explore in your zines?
Alexia Clarke: Most of the topics I cover are about me coming to terms with my body, um, basic relationship things, uncertainty, my attitude, and my own personal vendettas.
matthew warhol: Do you ever go back and look at them?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, always.
matthew warhol: What do you feel when you do that?
Alexia Clarke: I feel good because I don’t really feel the ways that I did when I was writing those things. I feel like I grew from it. I feel like that’s why people write in the first place. I like that it just stays on the page because I don’t want to hold on to it anymore. I just want other people to see it and relate to it, and that’s it.
matthew warhol: How far apart were the zines?
Alexia Clarke: All of them are six months apart.
matthew warhol: You’ve obviously matured as like a writer since you’ve started. Can you tell the difference?
Alexia Clarke: Of course! It was so hard to find things for the third one because I wasn’t as sad. And that kind of made me disappointed in myself. I didn’t know how exactly it would work out. Because that was my thing, you know? Sad girl work. From the first one to the second one — because the first one wasn’t me — Phosphene Girl was transformed into I diary for myself.
matthew warhol: So the second one you think is also sad?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, the second one is a year’s worth of work put together.
matthew warhol: There’s stuff about when we weren’t together?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, there’s a poem in there that is from when we were together the first time.
matthew warhol: Oh …
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, the one about me eating.
matthew warhol: So what do you think the next one will be about? Do you think it’ll be another six months?
Alexia Clarke: I like the idea of them coming out every spring and winter. And I want it to be more light-hearted, but I’ve never been like that. I think I’ve always been seen as this light-hearted person, but anyone who really knows me knows I’m not.
matthew warhol: You just take it as the feelings come to you. When I see you work on stuff, it’s in the moment.
Alexia Clarke: Exactly, everything is in my notes, my notebook. When I sit down to put the zine together, it’s me looking through my tumblr, my twitter, my notes.
matthew warhol: Is it more difficult when you try to do it after the fact, after the feelings have passed?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, it’s way harder. I’m the same way as you; I only think of the bad things when the bad things are happening. When I’m happy it’s so hard to create work. I don’t like being that type of artist, but it’s when the best work comes out.
matthew warhol: I want to go back to the Orlando art scene for a second. Do you personally feel included in it?
Alexia Clarke: I feel like I’ve never really felt completely comfortable in wherever I am. I feel like I’m always the token, or this or that. Even though we have amazing friends who understand who I am, I’m still never going to be completely comfortable within my own community — until we get to the point where we can completely merge.
matthew warhol: Where do you feel most accepted?
Alexia Clarke: I think like Harry or Harryson, anything that they throw, because those two are the most well-rounded people who can reach every kind of person. Wherever you go that they are, it’s like this is where everyone should be, because this is the perfect amount of different people. So I would say Talk Yo Shit, definitely. Anything by Retro Neon. Anything B8TA.
matthew warhol: And how do you think people can make their events more inclusive?
Alexia Clarke: I think just having more people of color. Have them show their art. Make sure you’re paying them for their art. Make sure they’re there and they’re present. That’s the first way to make people comfortable.
matthew warhol: Representation.
Alexia Clarke: Exactly, if their friends are there, they’re going to go.
matthew warhol: What else? Should we talk about us?
Alexia Clarke: Uh, I don’t know what we should say.
matthew warhol: Oh, what about the zines we’ve done together?
Alexia Clarke: Oh yeah, our color zines! We’ve done Red, Orange, and Yellow so far. We’re doing Green soon. We planned out the next few on a plane ride to Arizona. And yeah, it’s really fun.
matthew warhol: I’m really happy with the reception to it. It’s been like super organic.
Alexia Clarke: It’s been super easy. I thinkwe’re just really good at thinking of weird things that work together. Because we pay such close attention to detail. And it’s getting more intricate, like how we put the word search in Yellow.
matthew warhol: It’s just fun. And it’s so quick that it doesn’t get daunting.
Alexia Clarke: And it’s just another excuse to do something together.
I became aware of Chelsea Ybarra after my friend Henderson Nguyen sent me the music video he had just finished for a song called “All The Time.” The video featured a new ORL artist who went by the name SugarPlum. The visuals were bright and SugarPlum was bubbly; her voice joyfully sung the sweeeet chorus. After meeting her a few times and seeing her first two live performances, at Will’s Pub and Spacebar respectively, I became more interested in uncovering who this SugarPlum really was. So we scheduled an interview in Stardust Video & Coffee to talk about her upcoming, currently-untitled EP. Our talk even led to a visit to the ice cream parlor where “All The Time” was filmed. Enjoy.
matthew warhol: I wanted to ask you, straight off, who exactly is SugarPlum? Is she, you? Is it kind of like a morphed version of you? How do you see it?
SugarPlum: … it’s kind funny how SugarPlum started. Ever since I was little I wanted to do the music thing, but I was never like, ballsy enough to do it. I needed that push. And my best friend Sarah — who’ve I’ve been best friends with since we were three-years-old, she does all my cover art — she always had my name in her phone as SugarPlum. So I was said that if I ever made music, I would use SugarPlum. [She’s] kind of like the girl who could. And I always said SugarPlum could be so much more than music. But essentially I am SugarPlum.
matthew warhol: So aesthetically, what is that? What is the vibe around SugarPlum?
SugarPlum: She’s like the goofy side of me, I think. The one who’s cheery and happy all the time. And even when things are hard she’s like, “Whatever, let’s go out!” I think she’s the version of me that pushes me to do all the things that are out of my comfort zone. Maybe I can’t do it but SugarPlum can.
matthew warhol: When did she start to take shape?
SugarPlum: It [happened] after I met Henderson. He was a fan before I even met him. I would post little videos of me playing guitar and singing on Instagram. And he would randomly comment on them saying, oh this is good. And when I finally played for him, he instantly shed into tears and was like, “No, you have to do it!”
matthew warhol: Was Instagram the first platform you started putting your stuff on?
matthew warhol: And when did that start?
SugarPlum: That was my first semester of college, so roughly a year ago. So like the end of 2015, I started posting videos of me playing.
matthew warhol: Were you playing your own songs?
SugarPlum: No, I was just doing little covers. I was too scared to post my songs. And I was obsessed with Frankie Cosmos at the time. I would go to my friend’s house, who had all these instruments and a studio, and record myself playing all of her songs — the guitar, the main and backing vocals, the whole thing. I was trying to get a feel of what it was going to be like to record songs. And then randomly I met my friend Alex, and he was super about recording.
matthew warhol: Your first song, “All The Time,” was that recorded with Alex?
matthew warhol: There are drums on that song. Who did those?
SugarPlum: Those were all done on the computer. I’ve been looking for a drummer for the longest time. They’re like hiding from me!
matthew warhol: Maybe you’ll be able to find one through this interview.
SugarPlum: Scouting drummers!! I really am looking!
matthew warhol: With “All The Time,” a lot of the lyrics seem very direct. They sound like we’re hearing actual experiences. Is that the case?
SugarPlum: Yeah, yeah! 100% real. I think the moment I started “All The Time,” I already knew what I wanted it to be. The writing process for me is like … I can write a verse in seconds, but the chorus is what gets me — the repetitiveness, writing something catchy. But “All The Time” like basically wrote itself. It was about the scenario when you’re with someone and you end it. And they keep calling you. And you like that they keep calling you. It’s that good feeling that they still want you, but you have so much you have to do.
matthew warhol: And even the chorus came together quickly?
SugarPlum: It was super fast. I was honestly just rushing it because I wanted to get it out! I knew my first song wasn’t going to be my best song, so like I’m not going to over think it. But then it like, blew up and I was like *screams*.
matthew warhol: Where was that reception coming from?
SugarPlum: I was always random people who always wanted me to do it and were waiting for me to do it. One of those people, who I appreciate and admire a lot, is Scott. He runs a music blog, 53rd & 3rd. And Sarah, who I mentioned earlier, worked with him at Barnes n Noble. She showed him “All The Time” when it came out. And he wanted to meet me and post the song. From there one of those blogs that automatically reblogs songs it sees potential in reblogged it.
matthew warhol: Was it Hype Machine?
matthew warhol: Really? That’s really good!
SugarPlum: I was like “WOW!” I didn’t know what that meant at the time.
matthew warhol: Do you know how many listens it has?
SugarPlum: It just hit 1,000 two weeks ago. And “Maybe, Baby” has only been up a week and it’s already at 100.
matthew warhol: Tell me about “Maybe, Baby.” I listened to it on the way here and it has a different sound. Were you wanting to make something different?
SugarPlum: After I came out with “Clover Pt.2” with EMRLDTRACE, I got a feel with a different vibe. Then Andre Thomas — who is an amazing, amazing musician and producer — reached out to me and wanted to work together. All of the music on “Maybe” is by him.
matthew warhol: So was it already done and you came in and added melodies to it?
SugarPlum: Sort of. He sent me a little snippet of it and thought I would like it. I loved it.
matthew warhol: Did you tweak it together?
SugarPlum: Yeah, I went to Miami to see him. I’m actually going this weekend again. It was all a very good feeling. We would do things in one take. We’re like two puzzle pieces and musically, we fit perfectly.
matthew warhol: Is he producing more on the EP?
SugarPlum: Yeah, the EP is all me and him.
matthew warhol: So is “All The Time” going to be on it?
SugarPlum: “All The Time” will be a bonus song. I think the EP has a different vibe — “Clover” will be on the EP. But “All The Time” and an interlude I wrote on the ukulele are going to be the bonus tracks. Because they’re more, more …
matthew warhol: You want the EP to have its own sound?
matthew warhol: So is it going to be more synth-based with more beat production behind it?
SugarPlum: There’s definitely still going to be guitar incorporated in the EP, but we have a more synth sound.
matthew warhol: How many songs?
SugarPlum: Five songs and we’ll all have the two bonus songs.
matthew warhol: Does it have a name yet?
SugarPlum: NO! I can’t come up with a frickin’ name. I’m seeing Andre this weekend and we’re like, “We have to get a name!” At the same time, I was bugging my friends like, “Do people name their EPs, or is it self-titled?”
matthew warhol: I mean it could be SugarPlum EP.
SugarPlum: I though the same thing with the interlude I wrote. I was like, should I just have it as “Interlude?”
matthew warhol: I think it can be either one. It can also be like … “[something] Interlude.”
SugarPlum: I had a name for the interlude, but it’s so long.
matthew warhol: What was the name?
SugarPlum: So when I recorded the interlude, it was on Christmas Day and I was eating Japanese food. So we just named it “Japanese Food on Christmas Day.” Everyone was like, “It has nothing to do with the song.” And I was like, “But it’s true!!”
matthew warhol: So the EP comes out … ?
SugarPlum: It should be early February. I’m going to be releasing it before the show on the 10th.
matthew warhol: Now the previous show at Will’s Pub, that your first show?
SugarPlum: Will’s was my first show. And it went surprisingly well.
matthew warhol: No, that was an amazing show. And so many people came out.
SugarPlum: Yeah everyone was so amazing. Zoya. Tiger Fawn was amazing. I remember smoking with Tiger Fawn before I went on, and I was like, “This is my first show! I’m so nervous.” And she was like, “MY FIRST SHOW WAS HERE!”
matthew warhol: And you had never performed on a stage before?
SugarPlum: Never, ever, ever, ever. I don’t think I had even played for most of my friends.
matthew warhol: How did it compare to what you thought going into it?
SugarPlum: I remember posting “All The Time” and thinking that I would be so happy if 10 people listened to this. I remembering looking into the crowd and hearing people sing along and it a different kind of feeling. To hear people singing along to my first song ever.