Transcendental Telecom Orlando Music Midnite J Premiere

Transcendental Telecom Dive Into R&B On “Midnite J” (premiere)

Growth fosters new ideas, and that’s a good thing. In music, change can add dimension to how you look at a band as artists. Transcendental Telecom is not a band that’s afraid to go outside their box. Released last year, their debut album showcased that in its varied, crunchy and shoegaze-inspired, guitars mixed with Spencer Tricker’s airy voice. Etherise made them stand out from other indie rock bands, and “Midnite J” does the same but in a whole new way.

One part Blood Orange, one part Tame Impala, the latest single takes advantage of synth in a way they’ve never come close to before. Spencer crafts a synth line that flashes over the whole song like a disco ball over speckled teens at an 80s prom. He encourages them to dance too, “All the people on the left, all the people on the right, come on.” The guitars are much more subtle, adding minute details in the distance. You can definitely tell Transcendental is the same band, though. Their sounds hold the same fluidity but in a much more sultry way. “Midnite J” is their version of a slow jam.

Transcendental Telecom’s plan is to release a few more singles and then have them all included on an album this year.

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You Blew It interview Orlando music
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Grown-Up Dude: You Blew It’s Tanner Jones On His Development as an Artist/Person

I’m speaking with You Blew It frontman Tanner Jones in Greenwood Cemetery on a warm Tuesday morning in February. This isn’t the first time we’ve met or even the first time we’ve had a long conversation together. No, that day was almost five years ago in a Subway parking lot across the street from the University of Central Florida. We had been in two conjoining car accidents — I collided with the guy in front of me, and he was hit by the girl in front of him — and struck up a conversation about our shared advertising/public relations major, music, and his band, who had just released their debut album Grow Up, Dude via Massachusetts emo-revivalists, Topshelf Records.

Present day, the two of us — sitting on a small bench feet away from the grave of Orlando pioneer Joseph Bumby — are evolved forms of the people who met that day. Tanner and lot released their third full-length Abendrot this past November and have tremendously expanded their fanbase with continuous touring, both as headliners and support for rock icons like Taking Back Sunday and Coheed and Cambria. (And I’m interviewing him for Orlando Weekly. Our Advertising Copywriting professor Joan McCain would be proud.) Enjoy. 

Upcoming Appearances:

3/11 @ Will’s Pub w/ All Get Out & Free Throw

3/12 @ Will’s Pub w/ All Get Out & Free Throw


You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I wanted to start with talking about how we met because I think that’s pretty interesting. That was four, five years ago? I was a Sophmore in college so that was like four years ago.

Tanner Jones (You Blew It): Yeah, because it was right when I started dating the girl I’m still dating.

matthew warhol: And we were in a car accident together, two conjoining car accidents. I hit someone, and then there was a gap, and someone hit you, right?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, yeah.

matthew warhol: We were talking because we were both into music. I don’t know if I’d started the blog at that point.

Tanner Jones: I don’t think so. You definitely didn’t mention it.

matthew warhol: But we were talking about You Blew It. I hadn’t heard of you at the time. But that was right after Grow Up, Dude came out. A lot has changed since then.

Tanner Jones: I remember being really h-angry. I was so close to going to that Subway.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I did get the Subway.

Tanner Jones: Did I too?

matthew warhol: I think we all did. It was almost like a movie where people are stranded on an island together, so they start to bond. No one was angry with each other.

Tanner Jones: Everyone was really nice.

matthew warhol: That was probably the best car accident I’ve ever been in.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: And we met so that was cool. Since then, You Blew It has gone to a completely different level. The second album came out. And personally, I thought the second album tightened everything from the first album. The production was better. The songwriting was better. But it was very much on the same path. Then going from there, a friend of mine had said something like, “I really like this new album, but I’m afraid that with the next one … if they don’t do something different, they’re going to disappear as a band.” Was that something that you were aware of?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, but it wasn’t so much a conscious conversation. You put out two records that sound mostly the same; then at that point, a certain boredom or type of anxiety starts to set in. We could have written that record four times, you know? And it would have been easy because it’s what we were used to. But at the time of writing Keep Doing What You’re Doing, it was hard and it was challenging. You want to keep challenging yourself. Naturally, to challenge yourself you want to go to new directions, through new creative processes. So yeah, that’s the long answer but in short, we knew we had to do something different.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What do you mean by challenging yourself? How did you do that, specifically?

Tanner Jones: One crutch we have as a band is that we like to use alternate tunings and time signatures. So if a part isn’t there yet, instead of changing it around and maybe putting it through a different instrument, we’ll just put it in 7/4 and it’ll be fine. Instead of doing that — this record we just put out — it was more of a struggle to try to do new things and to try to solve problems in different ways we haven’t before. For example, putting a guitar part on a vibraphone. Or maybe even scrapping a song altogether because it wasn’t up to par.

matthew warhol: And when you say that, do you mean that you were sinking back to the older music? Were you consciously trying to make it new? Because to me, it sounds like to push forward, you were pulling back a little bit. You guys were restraining yourselves from doing these really heavy songs.

Tanner Jones: Yeah, yeah for sure. Previously we were very maximalists. It was always three guitars playing different parts all at once. So yeah, that’s another big hurtle we had to get over, trying to scale the mountain with less equipment — if that makes sense. And it just ended up being really fun. It’s kind of one of those things where you hate doing it until you grasp how to do it the right way. Then it becomes rewarding.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: On the new one … it’s weird because I was reading what you were saying in another interview. You were saying that was about a very difficult time in your life. Can you go into detail about that — as much as you want of course?

Tanner Jones: A lot of it was self-induced as I’m realizing now. Having the whole third record looming, it’s kind of like a big. There’s a lot of pressure … I guess that’s just an easy way to put it. So I kind of stopped taking care of myself, physically and mentally. I let things kind of bore into my skin and stay there. And then the door opened for a lot of mental issues and past problems that I had never solved. They all kind of came out at once. So the writing was both the therapy and the cause, you know? So yeah, I guess that’s pretty much the brunt of it. For example, the song “Greenwood,”  a lot of times to calm myself I’d come ride around here on my bike and take time to let everything sink in. As you know, it’s just quiet here. You can hear the birds chirping. There’s no one yelling, no on talking. It’s just a nice place to be alone. And that’s how that song came about, just coming hear and letting everything overtake. And those lyrics just came out.

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matthew warhol: So the songs are coming from the issues that you’re dealing with, but in this case, how you’re dealing with them. That’s interesting. Was there anything else inspired by the healing process?

Tanner Jones: Not necessarily in the same way “Greenwood” was written, but there’s a certain thing that a lot of the songs tap that’s dealing with mental issues and whether or not they’re self-induced. I’d say “Greenwood” is the unique one, in the way it was written. The other ones are just kind of … more confessional.

matthew warhol: You’re very much looking in on the entire record. Where like, the previous albums were definitely pushing out. When I listen to it, it just sounds like you’re getting older. Where things that bother you when you’re younger, you’re just pushing it onto other things and other people. Saying, “You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem.”

Tanner Jones: Exactly. I’m sure you feel the same way where it’s like, you’re 18 to 22 and it’s like, “Aw, I hate my classes; it’s got to be because of my classmates. Look at these jocks and these weirdos! Fuck them!” But really it’s just, you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. I guess getting older is gaining perspective.

matthew warhol: Was that a conscious thing in your writing?

Tanner Jones: It was one of those things where I realized it, but I wasn’t aware of it until after the record came out. After a record, I’ll listen to our stuff before it and see how it transitions into what we’re about to release. And I think that’s when I realized it. There’s definitely a perspective shift.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re happier?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, for sure. It’s a weird solace knowing that you’re the problem, ya know? Because then you can fix it. Where as, othertimes, putting blame on other people for things is just so unhealthy and terrorizing for the mind.

matthew warhol: That’s deep. [laughs] That’s a real one. So … you guys have been very supportive of Orlando. You haven’t strayed away from being an “Orlando band,” and so thank you for doing that. Because I feel like there have been other bands that have gotten big and ditched Orlando for LA …

Tanner Jones: … for bigger ponds.

matthew warhol: Did you ever think about doing moving?

Tanner Jones: No, we kind of always expected to stay here just because I don’t think that the place that you’re from should have that kind of hold, or that kind of baring, on your art. I feel like a lot of people assume that if they go to New York or LA that there are more opportunities and therefore, there are more chances to get bigger. When really, the big opportunity is that you’re doing it. And Orlando is an incredible place for culture, for people, for art. So just being here and having this base to build on just seemed like the perfect spot.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: Do you feel embraced by Orlando?

Tanner Jones: Sometimes it’s hot and cold. But I feel like that’s kind of a good thing. Sometimes we feel like outsiders, but I think that’s just a product of where we are now. New artists come in and new people come in so the focus is going to be on them. We can’t expect to have the spotlight on us the entire time.

matthew warhol: What do you mean by hot and cold, specifically?

Tanner Jones: The Orlando Weekly one is a really good one. We weren’t in the “Here are bands that represent Orlando of 2016” list. And it’s completely reasonable to not be in there, since we were there before. But in the moment, that’s one of those things that’s like, “Oh man, I didn’t win the popularity contest this time.”

matthew warhol: But you have to think you’ve outgrown it to an extent, don’t you? Because there is no band in that list that is on the same level as you guys — not that that’s a slight to anyone.

Tanner Jones: I always hate to say that we have outgrown Orlando because I never want to outgrow Orlando. But sometimes, I think feeling like outsiders is a good thing because we’ll always strive to be better. It can only be good for us. It can only be good for our art. And it can only be good for the city. Because as soon as we get comfortable, why put out a Pulse EP or why thank Orlando or why even live here?

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: So like, talking about the Pulse EP, was that an immediate thing where you just knew that you had to help in some way?

Tanner Jones: It was very immediate. It happened … and I’m sure you woke up to helicopters too. I live in Delaney Park. Not only was it a global thing, but it was something happening around the corner. So we felt like we were in a really unique position where we had these masters that weren’t owned by anyone. And I think that anyone in our position would have done the same thing — and others did — but we were fortunate enough to have a bigger platform for people to see it and donate.

matthew warhol: It’s strange. You see the city continuing honoring it; you see the memorials and the murals, and to think it’s been close to a year.

Tanner Jones: The number one interview question I get asked in cities outside of here is “How did things change after Orlando?” And my answer never gets printed because I feel like it’s not what they want to hear. My answer is like, “Nothing changed.” Because before, I feel like Orlando was already very uplifting for the LGBTQA+ community and minorities, and that happened and that feeling just came out. Everyone showed it a little bit more. I didn’t feel like there was more love or more acceptance because that was already there. It was just televised. and I think that’s an incredible thing. It’s just not a great answer for people trying to write a really good piece.

matthew warhol: That’s definitely something we’ll include [laughs] that was a good answer.

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You Blew It interview Orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music
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Thrift House – “Wake Up Little Suzie” (video premiere)

Thrift House is a band that pretty much anyone can enjoy. I’ve seen them just as comfortable in a room full of house-loving Body Talkers as they are at the classic blues rock room, Tanqueray’s. In my opinion, it’s the group’s young energy, — brought to music that your dad (maybe even your grandfather) would love — that gives them such a wide reach.

Case in point, the group’s cover of The Everly Brothers’ classic “Wake Up Little Susie.” Originally recorded in 1958, Thrift House modernizes the song by adding garage-style distortion a la The Black Keys. The vocals of Ian Cummings, Joseph Davoli, Robert John, and Kandace Marlon fuse into a smooth groove that pushes the huge chorus forward. To be honest, I thought Thrift House wrote this song; I’ve heard their demo and their originals stand up well. Let’s hope they see light soon. Peak their video below and check out some behind the scenes photos from that shoot. Enjoy.

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando
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Hello Happy Plants Makes Plants Cool Again

Anyone trying to turn a side hustle into a full-time job will find hope in Kelsey Ryder’s hard work. Starting off hawking plants in thrift store pots, her online store Hello Happy Plants has blossomed into a full-grown business where she sells a variety of handcrafted planters (air plants included) that take the shape of troll dolls, beer and soda cans, chip bags, cigarette boxes, and much, much more. She ships to customers and wholesalers all over the world, in big part due following she’s gained on her colorful, playful Instagram page. So I wanted to sit down with Orlando’s plant lady extraordinaire (and my close friend) to see how it call to be. Enjoy.


Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: I know we’ve been talking about doing an interview for a long time. And I like, I think it’s not only because you do super cool stuff that’s really successful, but also because you and I have had really good conversations in the past.

Kelsey Ryder: Because you’re a Virgo, and I’m a Virgo Moon. Did you know that?

matthew warhol: No I didn’t know that.

Kelsey Ryder: The majority of what I am is Virgo.

matthew warhol: So what does that mean for us?

Kelsey Ryder: It’s because we are very like … you like things a certain way. I like things a certain way. We’re driven. Leo’s and Virgos get along because they are kind of alike when it comes to being critical, having an ego, and being set in their ways. But like, Leo’s need Virgo friends to show them how to be that way but with a little more tact and grace and a little less of an asshole vibe. Virgos need Leo friends to remind Virgos to let that opinion be heard and not take shit too serious. Virgos and Leo’s are bonafide hustlers.

matthew warhol: I’m so glad we were meant to be friends! So I wanted to start at our last real one-on-one, which was at the Always Nothing show like a year-and-a-half ago, because so much has changed since then. At that time, you had just gotten your job at Home Depot. I remember talking to you and everything was up in the air. You were like, “I want to make this my full-time job,” but you hadn’t yet. So do you feel better now? Are you more confident in what you’re doing?

Kelsey Ryder: Oh my God, I feel so much better. I have so much confidence in myself and Hello Happy Plants, but every day there is doubt. I literally wake up and walk 10 feet to my studio, and I paint all day long. It’s like, “Is this for real?” There’s definitely doubt in it, but I feel like I’m not supposed to be working for someone. I don’t ever mean to sound ungrateful, but I can’t have a boss.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: When did you get to the point where you felt like you could leave your normal job?

Kelsey Ryder: I don’t know if I ever told you about Home Depot. They totally tricked me, man. I was supposed to go to the Garden Center. When you work at Home Depot they have you start as a door greeter. I think I was a door greeter at Home Depot for almost four months. And I realized the first month I was there, “They’re not switching me to the Garden Center. And even if they did, I don’t want to be here.” So I busted my ass. And it wasn’t really about the money. It was about the connections I needed to make. And when I made those connections, the money would come. So when I felt like I was at a certain place with what I was doing, I was out. They didn’t want me anymore either. They knew I hated it.

matthew warhol: So now take me through the process of making a new planter. Because I saw a video on Instagram where you go through it, and I know a lot goes into it. And how do you even find what you want to make?

Kelsey Ryder: I think I definitely started down a path of snack foods. It’s something I’ve always related to and it’s what my friends liked. Yeah, my first mold ever was … well, it was a terrible shark. But the second one was a little troll. And I kind of just thought, “Trolls are so hard to come by now days. Let’s try to make a mold.” It is silicone mold making. You pour wet silicone into a cast with whatever you want to make and let it harden. The process takes kind of a bit, but you can take anything and make a bunch of it. So I made the troll, and I was like, “I kinda want to make a can.” And I can do so much with a can. I’ve made some cool molds. I’ve made some wonky ass molds. I’ve made some molds that I thought everyone was going to love and everyone was going to want one, and they take me five hours to make.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: What was one of those?

Kelsey Ryder: I had a lot of hope in the garbage bag. That shit never sells.

matthew warhol: What’s something that surprised you? That sold more than you thought?

Kelsey Ryder: The La Croix! Oh my God, it’s insane!

matthew warhol: You hit that right when it was becoming a thing.

Kelsey Ryder: Who knew? I literally made that for my grandma, because she hit me up one day like, “There isn’t a lot of things I would want in the house.” And I’m like, “Oh my God, she loves La Croix, that’s her drink.” I never knew anyone liked it before that. The first time I put one up, it sold and I got five messages immediately. “Do you have more?” And I’m like, “Hell yeah, I have more. Give me a day.” I sell a lot of those. Certain shops that I whole-sale with will buy 30 La Croix. It’s so strange, but I’m about it.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: So I know, Instagram is the biggest place you’ve amassed your following, because you have almost 10,000 followers, right?

Kelsey Ryder: Let’s have a party soon!

matthew warhol: Yo, 10K. Because then it’ll turn to “10K,” right?

Kelsey Ryder: I’ll get a “K.”

matthew warhol: I know you’re looking forward to that.

Kelsey Ryder: Hell yeah, I am. I’m a fuckin’ Leo. I want 10,000 followers. I’m done feeling weird about it either; I want that.

matthew warhol: So how did you get into a groove with that? You don’t have to reveal all of your secrets …

Kelsey Ryder: No, I genuinely will give this advice to people who are looking for a way to broaden their horizons with customers. I’ve sent probably over $2,000 worth of stuff to people. Sometimes they post it. Sometimes they don’t. Two years ago, I made a list of every person that I was inspired by — in any way. And I wrote out a message. I would make it personal to why I loved them, but I sent a message out that was like, “I’m tryin’ to get my business boomin’. I can only imagine that your following is as cool as you are.” And that has gone over well. I think a lot people would think that that was begging. But I’m sending someone something I made special for them.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

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matthew warhol: But on your Instagram, you’re not just posting pictures of your planters. You’re building scenes and doing stop-motion pictures do. So where did that come from? Because that’s what huge brands do, that’s what Taco Bell does.

Kelsey Ryder: I think what my planters are … Them being chips or something, it’s easier for me to be able to spin and make it be more realistic. I don’t know if you remember this, but it was one of my last days at Home Depot. I knew I was going to be leaving, and everyone there thought I was a freak. But one day I was like, “Fuck it. I’m going to make this video that I knew I wanted to make.” I brought the chip bag mold in with me, and I pretended that I was pressing all the buttons to get this planter out of a vending machine. And that video ended up being huge. I got a shit ton of followers, and so I was like, “Woah, I could totally run with this.” So I started doing it with the Slurpees planters at 7/11, having the people working there pretend like they’re scanning the planters.

matthew warhol: You’re treating it like if it were real. And people at 7/11 know you as that person. They love you! The people at Home Depot thought you were super weird, but I think you make these people’s day.

Kelsey Ryder: I don’t mind, but they all look at me like, “What am I doing right now?” I made this giant foam Slurpee cup — it was like three feet tall. And I asked the guy if when I started a small cup if he would tell me, “No, no, no, stop.” And he went around the back and brought me this humongous cup. Things like that they’re like, “Yeah, sure I’ll do it.” And they have no clue what I’m doing or what they’re doing, but they see how excited I am. I never worry about making a fool out of myself.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: It’s just who you are, though. Hello Happy Plants is you. It’s your style, your personality.

Kelsey Ryder: I’m kind of a poseur now.

matthew warhol: Why?

Kelsey Ryder: Five out of the seven days in a week, I’m like no carbs, no sugar. So everything that I make, I don’t ingest. It’s my vice now.

matthew warhol: Do you ever get tired of looking at it?

Kelsey Ryder: Well, I don’t smoke cigarettes unless I’m really buzzed. So I’m like, “Can I get behind this?” But I see how happy things like snack foods make people. Maggie loves her chips. Bear loves his Red Hots at night. I watch that and I know they like it so …

matthew warhol: What do you think you’re tapping into with that?

Kelsey Ryder: It’s stories that people have with each other. Once a day, I have a message that comes along that’s like, “Oh my God, me and my best friend have gone and got Slurpees every Free Slurpee Day for years.” That’s cute to me. It is nostalgia for sure. I think the majority of what I sell is gifts for other people. And I’m all about that. I remember certain times of going to a certain gas station with friends and getting this candy, this chip, this beer. I think a lot of what I’ve made is drawn from those memories.

Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

matthew warhol: And now you’ve expanded into t-shirts.

Kelsey Ryder: I’m Jersey Shore-ing it up! Got my heat press.

matthew warhol: Do you have ideas of stuff you want to do in the future?

Kelsey Ryder: I want to build a skate park one day. I want to work with cement on a really big scale.

matthew warhol: Really?

Kelsey Ryder: I love cement. I think it’s really cool. Some of Bear’s friends build skateparks. I don’t skate at all, but I think there’s real beauty in the way cement forms and the way we can use cement. It’s beautiful, big structures.

matthew warhol: That’s so interesting to me, because you were talking about how you are the only one of your friends that only has their AA and all that, but you’ve made yourself into an industrial designer. The way you talk about materials is the way I hear my friend who is in school for that talk.

Kelsey Ryder: This circles back to working with your hands. But I started with the troll doll. I never knew you could make a mold of something with silicone. Who would think? But you can, and it is cool as shit. So you’re like, “What can I do with this? Can I use porcelain? Can I use resin?” But as for the future, I want to get things dialed in before things get bigger.

matthew warhol: Do you have a big goal?

Kelsey Ryder: I would kind of like to have my own shop one day. Somewhere cool and just have it be plants and my shirts and stuff. There’s a lot of really awesome stores I’m fortunate enough to be in, but I feel like … what’s a plant store that you know in Orlando? I feel like we need to make plants cool again. We need to bring them back. And that’s in no reference to “Make America Great Again.”

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Hello Happy Plants Interview Orlando

Forced into femininity interview orlando music
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Forced Into Femininity: Fighting Corruption with Crazy

It isn’t too often that a show really surprises me — having spent countless nights at music venues, sometimes I think I’ve seen it all. But last week, I was thrown in truly undisturbed waters when Chicago avant-garde musician Forced Into Feminity turned Spacebar upside down. The music itself, semi-dancey electronic bangs, wasn’t too out-of-the-ordinary; it was the performance that left everyone looking around like, “WTF is happening?!” The set began with a pre-taped warning that cautioned anyone who was uncomfortable being touched, yelled at, or hearing lyrics about discrimination against transgendered people and other potentially triggering topics.

Jill Flanagan, the energetic bomb behind FIF, bounced around the audience screaming in people’s faces, giving piggy-back rides, climbing on top of the bar, and (in one case) stuffing a patron’s red beard into her mouth. And that was only when things were going according to plan. At one point the music and mic cut off, but Jill didn’t even blink. She proceeded to go outside (we all followed), climb onto the roof of Spacebar and start lecturing from up there. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to get into the head of this person. Enjoy.

Photos by Harryson T Photography & matthew warhol.


Forced into femininity interview orlando music

(I start recording in the middle of a conversation about Andy Warhol.)

Forced Into Femininity: I have this book he wrote about parties.

matthew warhol: Which one?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s just called Parties.

matthew warhol: Parties?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, it’s just about parties. He interviewed all these different party promoters in the ‘80s. It’s a really interesting book.

matthew warhol: That’s aweseome. I’ve only read A to B and Back Again which is just his sprawlings.

Forced Into Femininity: Oh I love that.

matthew warhol: Really? You’ve read that one?

Forced Into Femininity: That’s his biography, right?

matthew warhol: Yeah, I would say it’s kind of like an autobiography.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. It’s hilarious.

matthew warhol: So, for me, that’s the kind of writing I like to do. I’m just very — especially with the interviews — I keep it really real. So I’m recording now. How’s tour been?

Forced Into Femininity: Great, yeah it’s been really long.

matthew warhol: You’re from Chicago right?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I’m from Chicago. I’ve lived their most of life. I lived in Oakland for a couple of years, but mostly in Chicago.

matthew warhol: How long have you been doing Forced Into Feminity?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s been like seven years … seven or eight years.

matthew warhol: And what was the initial idea behind it? Did you make similar music before?

Forced Into Femininity: Well, it was different. I mean, I was mostly in bands. This was the first thing I did that was digital — like on a laptop or editing sounds. I’ve been in bands since, but the band at the time … my band broke up and I was really trying like, to do music and stay motivated. And just make music out of a laptop, because I’d never done that. I hadn’t really made anything specifically about being trans, ya know? I had done stuff that had touched on that but like …

matthew warhol: You hadn’t done something that was fully about you?

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: No, fully me, but I felt like I wanted to focus more on being trans. because it’s a big part of my identity and I hadn’t really talked about it.

matthew warhol: Has it changed over the last seven years?

Forced Into Femininity: It changes a lot. I mean, musically, it’s changed a lot because I’ve learned how to make music on the computer. And what I’ve wanted to do is changing a lot — I don’t know. At one time it was more dance-based, but I still dance a lot when I’m performing. Yeah, it’s come through a lot of different iterations. It’s kind of like whatever I want to do, so I’ll just change it sometimes. Maybe just play keyboards and sing.

matthew warhol: That’s really interesting to me. I was just talking to one of my friends earlier tonight about how a lot people are leaving bands and doing it more by themselves. Because they can — the technology is there. And like, you’re more … like, not waiting on anyone else. Do you find that you’re more productive? Is it easier?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s not easier. I mean, it’s just different playing in bands. It’s like, you don’t really know a lot of times, when you do things, if it’s like, “Oh, is this good?” I don’t know. I don’t know until I play the songs for people, then I’m like, “Okay, this is good.” You don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or to cover your mistakes.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: And so like, how often, when you’re playing, does what happened tonight with [the sound going out] happen? Because at that point it’s really out of your hands to a certain extent. You can obviously adapt to it, which you did. But are you prepared for that?

Forced Into Femininity: I had this tour once where I played two shows where there was no P.A. or like all the power went out. So like, I learned from that. I like improvising and just talking, so I prepare like lectures and things I want to talk about.

matthew warhol: Does it change from night to night? Do you build on an idea? Like you have a topic and it evolves?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, a lot of times I’ll say things and they’ll get more developed and I’ll turn them into lyrics, or I’ll stop saying them. But I have a lot of material that I’ve built up and fall back on. When I don’t know what to do, I try doing something old again.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: And does it happen a lot, where something will come unplugged and you’ll have to react to it?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, if something goes wrong, instead of trying to fix it, I’m like, “fuck that, we’ll just roll with it.” And we’ll have silence, or I’ll do something else. Because it can be anything, if you’re too focused on it being one way, then it gets stifled.

matthew warhol: Does that keep it exciting for you?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, definitely. Sometimes I enjoy not doing the songs more. Because it’s fresh. Because I can do whatever I want. Where as, since it’s electronic, the music is always going to be the same music. It’s nice to have freedom.

matthew warhol: That made me think of the interview I recently did with J.A.S.O.N., who’s the singer from Shania Pain. I did a story on him, and he was telling me about the reason he improvises. It’s because he gets really bored. Would you feel that way too, if it were to be the same thing over and again?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I have a short attention span.

matthew warhol: That’s exactly what he said.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I have a short attention span so a lot of times I’m like … “yeah, yeah, okay I gotta …” This time I’ve been … well, I’ve been on tour for four and a half months so I try different techniques to keep it fresh. Trying different songs, or now I have two different sets I play.

matthew warhol: What’s like, one of the craziest reactions someone has had to your performance?

Forced Into Femininity: I don’t know. I’ve had a bunch of weird shows. I had a show in a coffee house in Alabama where everyone got really upset and I had to stop. Yeah, everyone got upset. They were mad because there were children there and they got scared. So that was going on and there were angry parents and it was in a coffee shop, so they were more uptight about me climbing on tables, licking people.

matthew warhol: I mean, you have the warning at the beginning.

Forced Into Femininity: I have a warning, yeah but people are going to get mad. That’s what I realized about the warning, like if people are going to be offended, they’re still going to be offended. Like this guy the last time I played in Orlando, he was really mad that I licked him. And he wanted to fight me. And he was all mad because I didn’t mention it in the statement. He was like, “I heard touching! I didn’t hear anything about licking people!” I should make everyone sign a waiver.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: So like, what was something that was sticking with you tonight? Was there something specific in your head?

Forced Into Femininity: Well, I wanted to talk about the drag show in Key West that was really problematic. Yeah, there’s always a lot of things to talk about but I usually draw a blank when I’m up there. But I wanted to toss in a lot of things about that. It made me think about getting a dollar bill from the audience. Because, symbolically, you’re getting money and that money buys approval. And the drag queens that are less passing or more heavy-set usually don’t get as many people watching them, or they get a pity dollar. It’s kind of like a system of capital approval.

matthew warhol: Thanks for sharing that.

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah sure.

matthew warhol:  It was really nice talking to you.

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, nice talking to you.

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Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Orlando music blog

A Crying Libra Against The World

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.


Orlando music blog

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.

Orlando music blog

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 I  just needed a positive and productive way to put my time.

Orlando music blog

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.

Orlando music blog

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.

Orlando music blog

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.

Orlando music blog

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.

Orlando music blog

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 think we’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.

matthew warhol: Aw. Okay… I love you.

Alexia Clarke: I love you too.

matthew warhol: Happy Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Orlando music blog

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog
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No Love Lost: Zoya Zafar

In a lot of circles, including my own, “singer-songwriter” is a dirty phrase. It reeks of cheap coffee and poorly-written songs, performed in 15-minute bursts and introduced by an unfunny guy in a tacky shirt. But in actuality, this descriptor should be reserved for only the finest solo artists. Ones who blend lyrics, melody, and instrument(s) in a way that makes bystanders stop whatever they’re doing and listen to the lone person, spilling their experiences out with only their voice and a guitar.

People like Zoya Zafar. The 22-year-old has made me look at solo musicians differently. Every time I’ve seen her perform, people are transfixed. I’ve never heard a more delicate voice get such attention. Her songs are hand strung melodies, personal and relatable. They work in dark bars or Sunday afternoons under a tree. I had to sit down with this incredible talent and see how she seemingly makes time stop. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

2/10 @ Will’s Pub w/ Sugarplum, RV, & Pathos, Pathos

2/18 @ The Dumpster in Gainsville w/ Tiger Fawn, DONKNG, & Theo Burrows (The Vinyl Warhol Presents)

2/26 @ Spacebar w/ TV Dinner (The Vinyl Warhol Presents)


Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Okay, so the first thing I wanted to talk about is what originally struck me about your music, which is your voice. You have this very delicate, personal voice. When did you discover it?

Zoya Zafar: Um, I guess when I was like 15. I was taking choir in school, so I think that helped with understanding how to breathe properly when you sing, what vowels sound good. I don’t think too much about it now when I sing because I’ve been doing it for so long. But yeah, I think it happened around then. And like, figuring out where I’m most comfortable singing, in range or whatever.

matthew warhol: When did you start to find your niche in music?

Zoya Zafar: I was always into folk music, even without realizing what it was. I remember, when I was really young, listening to late-‘80s, early-‘90s stuff — what my parents listened to.

matthew warhol: Like what?

Zoya Zafar: Wilson Phillips or Bonnie Raitt. I didn’t really like it that much, but I really didn’t have anything else to listen to. One day, my mom brought me a PJ Olsen CD. No one knows about him, but he’s like ‘90s alternative folk. He had long hair — I thought he was a girl at first. I listened to his record a lot, that’s all I listened to from like nine to thirteen. That’s when I realized I was more into acoustic music.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: What about when you started playing music?

Zoya Zafar: As I got more into finding new music on the internet, I started listening to music like Bright Eyes and Death Cab [For Cutie]. And that’s when I started having an interest in singing and playing guitar. At first, I took Guitar as a course in middle school. I was like okay, I’ll try it and see if I like it. And I hated it. I didn’t want to do guitar at all. But then the summer after, I was bored and decided to try it again. I was 14. Singing, I liked it, but I didn’t think I had a special voice. I didn’t really like the sound that came out of my mouth. It was just like whatever.

matthew warhol: So when did you start performing live?

Zoya Zafar: Around 16 or so, it was shortly after.

matthew warhol: What was the first time?

Zoya Zafar: I played was an open-mic at Natura. This was 2010. I’d been playing at home and for friends, never in front of strangers. It was cool. The guy who hosted it asked me to open for his band a couple months later. Definitely a good confidence booster.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Had you written your own songs up to that point?

Zoya Zafar: Yeah, I started writing as soon as I started playing guitar. I always liked writing. Before it was music, it was poetry or short stories. So it’s always been an interest of mine, and as I got older I had access to a guitar and started singing … it was more of a natural progression.

matthew warhol: I think a lot of your music up ’til this point has focused on the songwriting aspect. It’s your voice and the words first.

Zoya Zafar: Yeah, for sure. I don’t really think of myself as a talented guitar player. It’s just something I can sing with.

matthew warhol: Where do the songs come from? Because your music seems extra personal, like it’s coming from your own life. You’re being very specific with what you’re talking about.

Zoya Zafar: I feel like when I was younger, my songs were more abstract. My first EP is very whimsical, very full of ideas and memories. I feel like, as a whole, different experiences shape you into a new artist.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: What are most of the songs you write about?

Zoya Zafar: Definitely like, how I react to certain situations, my own personal feelings about something. That’s very vague, but it’s really about me. Everything that’s going to be on my new album is very personal.

matthew warhol: Could you give me an example?

Zoya Zafar: There’s this one called “Go Kiss Your Girl.”

matthew warhol: Yeah, tell me about that one. I know it’s a song people really gravitate towards.

Zoya Zafar: [laughs] That one’s really personal.

matthew warhol: Is it? … just as much as your comfortable talking about.

Zoya Zafar: I was upset over someone. It’s very sassy and angry in a weird way, but also very sad. There’s a line, “I’ve decided that we’ll never be, not even if we lived in the same city.” It was a long distance thing. And I think the hardest part of letting go of a long distance thing, is that you think the distance is why it’s not working out. And there’s always the hope that if we’re in the same city, that things will work out. But, I think thinking like that makes you never get over the person. So for my own closure, the song is saying, “This is never going to happen, ever. Not even if we lived in the city.”

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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matthew warhol: Wow, that’s really mature. I wouldn’t have thought of it that way. In reality, it’s always other things too.

Zoya Zafar: It definitely was a lot of other things. The chorus is “I know you never cared about me, so please just let me be. Go kiss your girl.” Because … there was another girl. [laughs]

matthew warhol: When you’re writing, are you working through the tough situation or do you think you’ve already got it figured out?

Zoya Zafar: It’s definitely a process. Now, looking back, I’ll write songs and know what they’re about, but I’ll listen to them months later and be like, “Oh shit, I knew what I was talking about.” With that same person who the song was about, we had done music together and a lot of the songs were really sad. And it was because I was sad about the whole situation, but hadn’t realized it. Songwriting is very natural for me. It just comes out. Sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it makes sense later on.

matthew warhol: So when you’re playing the heavier stuff live … I guess, my thing … the thought of doing that scares me.

Zoya Zafar: There’s a reason why I don’t do eye-contact. It’s so awkward for me. I feel like the more the songs become personal, the less I can really look at people. I’m in my own little world in a sense. I was really scared at first. I puked before every show. I would have intense anxiety attacks, it was an ongoing thing.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: So then why do it in the first place?

Zoya Zafar: I love performing live so much, the entire experience of it. Even though something makes me nervous, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I love playing live especially, as opposed to recording. It’s just another thing. And a lot of people connect with it. One of my friends once told me, “Your songs are really sad, but you’re really happy.” You wouldn’t assume I write sad music.

matthew warhol: When you are playing live, do you feel any of that old emotion?

Zoya Zafar: I think, because I’ve been playing them so much, it doesn’t really affect me. It’s like a friend that you had close feelings for but you don’t anymore. But you still have fondness for.

matthew warhol: And so…

Zoya Zafar: That was a really poor analogy. [laughs] Don’t put that in.

matthew warhol: I thought it was a pretty good analogy. I liked it. [laughs] You have to. I feel like if you kept feeling sad every time you played … that’s not really what music is. Music is therapeutic …. See, that was bad too. That was stupid as well. So were both saying dumb things.

[laughs]

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Going into what you’ve been working now, you’re hoping to have an album out later this year. At another time, you told me that you were working with DONKNG in Gainesville?

Zoya Zafar: That hasn’t happened yet. I definitely want to go up and jam with them, but I’m generally unsure what I want out of the album. I definitely want to do something different than my last EP.

matthew warhol: Is the sound going to change? Is there going to be more instrumentation?

Zoya Zafar: It’s not going to stray too far from my minimalistic stuff. Because I feel like some of my songs sound better with just me and a guitar. But It’ll be fun to see where it goes. I don’t really play acoustic guitar anymore, so I definitely want to have a moodier sound — dreamier guitars, reverb pedals. I want synths to add texture. It’d be nice to have percussions or something soft, like a drum machine. So I still want to have a lo-fi feel, but a bit more than a home recording.

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matthew warhol: What has happened between your first EP and now? How have things changed for you?

Zoya Zafar: When I did that EP, I already had songs written that will be on the album. The songs were written anywhere from 2014 to now.

matthew warhol: Can you tell the difference between the songs? Are some more mature?

Zoya Zafar: I’ve noticed that my writing style has definitely changed a bit. Before, I feel like I was more wordy and verbose. I think I’m better at saying something in a simpler way than I was before. I’ve noticed that a lot of songs I’ve been writing are like three verses or something, very simple, more minimalistic. But they still capture what I’m trying to say. Also, I think I want to focus more on the music behind the song. The words are important, but I want something that’s more interesting.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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