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

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

Upcoming Events:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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matthew warhol: Is that where Kira Kira Pop started?

Sam Harris: Yeah.

matthew warhol: How did everyone else come together?

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

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Reborn out of the embers of cringe.

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

matthew warhol: How did you get involved Joy?

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

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

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

matthew warhol: What is your DJ name?

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

matthew warhol: What do you DJ?

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: You do all the idol research.

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Yeah, we were completely surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

[laughs]

matthew warhol: [banging louder] I LOVE NIGHTCORE!

Cherry Wallflower: Woah. [laughs]

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

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

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

matthew warhol: You’re making your own thing.

Cherry Wallflower: That’s the goal.

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

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: You feel it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Their goals are completely different from ours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: We have zero tolerance.

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

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

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DVWEZ Takes a Darker Trip to ‘Paradise’

It makes perfect sense that DVWEZ (pronounced: “Dames”) and I’s first conversation would be via FaceTime. So much of this smooth, neo-R&B voice seems to have taken shape on the World Wide Web. Last year’s Pastels garnered her a solid fanbase through premiers on reputable music sites like Stereogum. This strategy been implemented again with her upcoming Paradise EP, as the titular track first appeared on The Fader and she premiered “The Life” just yesterday on Noisey. In preparation for Paradise, she utilized Kickstarter to fund the album’s promotion and a unique live experience — we’ll get into that in a second. And one can’t overlook the songwriter’s own online branding. Her Instagram looks more like a curated art gallery than the meme-filled trash that I usually see.

With all the digital build up, I was eager to speak one-on-one with DVWEZ, to dig past the internet persona and see how it matched to the real Delia Albert. Enjoy.

Photos by Liv Jonse.

Upcoming Appearances:

FRIDAY, 4/28, ALWAYS NOTHING PRESENTS: FEMME HOP VOL. 2 W/ TIME & TIGER FAWN


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matthew warhol: It’s good to finally to get a chance to sit down and talk to you, because I’ve been a fan of yours for a while, and I’ve seen what you’ve been doing and like… oh you froze on the screen for a second…

DVWEZ: Where I live in Gainesville, I call it the boonies. The connection is weird so if that happens, I can totally call you back. We can make it work.

matthew warhol: Dope. So yeah, right off the bat, you had a Kickstarter a couple months ago to make a new experience, is it called “The Paradise Experience?”

DVWEZ: Yeah, for lack of a better, non-cheesey title that’s what it’s called. The whole idea behind it is like… have you been to III Points? It’s based off their philosophy of combining art, music, and technology. Living in Gainesville, there’s not a lot of electronic acts to begin with, let alone a different experience than just going to a show and seeing a band on stage. And that’s it. So I wanted to make it more interesting. I had seen some projection mapping at III Points, and the creative team that I worked with, I reached out to them and asked, “Hey, do you guys know anyone who does this?” And they mentioned David Lajas who lives in Orlando. I started talking to him and figuring out how much something like that would cost. In addition to raising money for the press behind my new music that’s coming out every month, I also want to have a really cool way to share the music visually — in an interesting way. 

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matthew warhol: Can you break down what the experience is live? What people can expect from that?

DVWEZ: So basically, David created these structural shapes that incompass myself and my drummer. He created them out of PVC pipe and wrapped a mesh material around them. So when he’s projecting video you can still see us. It’s really cool to watch. The footage that he’s projecting is expremely unique that we shot specifcally for the live show. With that in mind, we tried to create different visuals that felt similar to the project, so you could experience what I was thinking and feeling when making the music. 

matthew warhol: How was the process of putting that together? Were you working on it together or did you let him do his own thing?

DVWEZ: I gave him my music to listen to and was like, “I’ve never done anything like this before. I want you to use your expertise.” In regards to coming up with the structure concept, originally my band was a four piece. He had this idea to put me in a pyramid with my bandmates around me. And that kind of evolved. A week before the big show, I had a bandmate quit. And a couple weeks before that, we went down to a three-piece. 

matthew warhol: Wow.

DVWEZ: So when I spoke to him, we came up with the idea for the giant shapes. So it kind of evolved, it wasn’t the original idea. In regards to the video that accompanies everything, I left that up to Liv [Jonse]. I told her that the project is darker than Pastels and that I wanted something to visually represent that. 

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matthew warhol: That’s… that’s really interesting. Just thinking about the album cover on Pastels and comparing it to your new visual aesthetic, you can tell it’s much darker. Going into this new project, Paradise — that’s an album or EP?

DVWEZ: It’s a four track EP.

matthew warhol: Just listening to the single, I can tell that it’s darker, but also just much more experimental direction. What’s your head like for these new songs? What’s the difference, I guess?

DVWEZ: Sonically, things are very different becuase this project wasn’t produced by myself — it was prodcued by my friend KAIXEN aka Julian in Miami. He’s, simply put, a far better producer than I am. You can feel I went up a level from Pastels there’s more depth, sonically. And also, I think just the headspace that I was in while writing these songs was different. I had just moved back to Gainesville, and I was feeling this weird isolation, having a loving experience with my girlfriend in Gainesville, but also being totally separated from my friends and my family. And also feeling like I was in this area of being a new artist trying to find myself. I was struggling at the time when I wrote. So the concepts are darker, where Pastels was so lovey and airy.

matthew warhol: When you’re working with someone else, do you have the base of the song written, a demo that you bring to Julian? Or did he come at you with stuff he was working on?

DVWEZ: Moving forward, I would like to do it the first way, having an idea and lyrics and melodies and going to a prodcuer to help feel it out. But with this project, it was the opposite. He sent insturmentals that he thought he could hear me on and I worked around that. That’s usually how I do things. I think it’s really cool when artists have ideas and it gets produced out because I think there are more layers when that happens.

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matthew warhol: You can build from that. 

DVWEZ: But for this it was me hearing the instrumentals and being inspired. “Paradise” for example, I wrote in a car ride from Orlando to Gainesville. I had the instrumental playing in my car. I call it “John Legend-ing.” He would hear something and start mumbling crap that would form into a song. That’s kind of, exactly, how I wrote “Paradise.” I think that the melody gives way to lyrics and the context. That way the music is informing the lyrics. 

matthew warhol: You said with the last project was all you. In general, have you preferred making music with other people?

DVWEZ: Um, I think it’s, honestly, just experience. There are so many people out there who are extremely talented. I feel that I’m not necessarily up to par. But in terms of the whole creative process, I hate working with other people. I really like being by myself because it’s a very intimate, grueling thing. I’m challenging myself to be in a creative space with other people, but because I’ve been so solo for the past few years, it’s a little bit uncomfortable with other people in the moment. But that’s what I’ll be doing next.

matthew warhol: How do you go from this isolationist method of creating to then put something out into the world and play it live? For me, as someone who doesn’t perform for people, those two things are completely different. That sounds almost mental to me.

DVWEZ: I’m still figuring that out. When I think I perform best, it’s when I feel like no one is there. And what I mean by that is that there can be however many people in the crowd, but I’m so into what’s happening that I don’t see anyone. I always joke about how my eyes are always closed when I’m really into it. But you have to push yourself because a lot of artists aren’t outgoing people. Not that I’m not — but there’s a performer that you have to bring out of yourself. Once the songs are done, I don’t feel weird sharing it. Showing someone something that’s not done feels so weird. 

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matthew warhol: When you’re performing such emotional music, do you feel that in the moment? Do those feelings come back to you?

DVWEZ: It just depends. Everytime I sing “Celebrity,” I give myself goosebumps. *zzziiinnnggg* Sorry that’s my dryer. [laughs] I give myself goosebumps, which is so weird. But it happens a lot. I think it depends on the song and how comfortable I am with it, because if you’re still trying to make sure you don’t mess up, I don’t think you allow yourself room to really get into it, feel those emotions and have them transfer to the audience. 

matthew warhol: What is it about that particular song?

DVWEZ: “Celebrity” is the only song as DVWEZ that I’ve written lyrics first, then came the music. So it probably has something to do with that, because I was so inspired when I wrote the lyrics. Also, I’ve never heard a song like that before. I don’t know why? That’s the short answer. [laughs]

matthew warhol: How many times have you done “The Paradise Experience?”

DVWEZ: I’ve only done it once and we filmed it. So the idea is to stitch it together and pitch it to venues. Friday, I will have a broken down version of it. It just depends on the venue and the space. But if people are interested in seeing it, we’ll make some version of that work.

matthew warhol: How did the first performance go?

DVWEZ: It went well sonically and in terms of support from the crowd. It took a long time to set these structures up, more than I had anticipated. I would say that the venue we did it at needed to be darker. The videos and photos really capture the projections, but if you were there it was a little lighter, so that’s something to take into consideration. And we’ll be incorporating LED lights moving forward. There’s litttle things that we’ll add. I think it will keep getting better every time. 

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Harryson Thevenin/SR50: “Let’s See Where It Goes.”

How do you take pictures of someone who takes pictures? Harryson Thevenin has been bouncing around Orlando since 2011, shooting photos and video of anyone who will stand in front of his camera. He’s also worked heavily with local rap star TEDD.GIF and his record label, Retro Neon, to book and promote events that cross genres. Recently, Harryson combined his talents into SR50, an online magazine that covers all things Orlando through photo, video, and word.

After the initial idea of an interview, I ended up following him to three vastly different shows: An Ugly Orange rock show at local bike shop, Ace Metric Cycles, a rap show at art/party gallery Henao Contemporary Center and experimental noise duo Shania Pain’s EP Release at Uncle Lou’s. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

HARRYSON’S BIRTHDAY STAND-UP SHOW // APRIL 19 @ SANDWICH BAR

HARRYSON’S 26 BDAY PARTY // APRIL 19 @ SANDWICH BAR


The following is a night of culture, joints, & car talk.

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10:07 p.m.

matthew warhol: Tell me about what’s going on with SR50. What are you planning for it?

Harryson Thevenin: I have no idea yet. It’s random. Just kind of whatever I’m feeling at the time. I feel like the best approach to have with SR50 is to have like, almost no approach. Because if I get into to groove of things and have a formula, that could get old quick. If I have no expectations, I’m just like, “Yo, cool.” If it works, it works. If not, there’s another show tomorrow. It seems to be happening. There’s always a show. Mad different groups.

matthew warhol: You’re going to keep booking too?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, Sandwich Bar gave me Wednesdays so I can use that as a brain child, just for ideas for shows.

matthew warhol: How was Crock Pot at Henao?

Harryson Thevenin: Crock Pot was tight. It was our first big event. We had TEDD. We had The Left Field Theory.

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matthew warhol: There was a lot of people, right?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, Donny Blanks was the headliner. FIONA killed it outside. GRANT killed it outside.

matthew warhol: Do you think you’ll be booking more at the Henao?

Harryson Thevenin: Okay, I want to, but I worry that the Henao might get too oversaturated. Everyone that wanted to book a show that couldn’t for a while is booking Henao.

matthew warhol: What do you think… what’s the alternative though?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know.

matthew warhol: That’s why I’m really fascinated with a show happening at a bike shop.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, you gotta do something else. That’s why I loved Space Station. It’s like yeah, let’s go in this side room and set something up.

matthew warhol: So with SR50, is there absolutely no focus?

Harryson Thevenin: I guess just covering Orlando-based things, whatever.

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matthew warhol: You’re trying to do stuff other than music.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Trying to do restaurants reviews. Literally anything.

matthew warhol: Are you going to write?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Cool, I didn’t know you wrote too.

Harryson Thevenin: I can.

matthew warhol: Have you done it before?

Harryson Thevenin: No, but I could probably describe how something tastes. [laughs] I’m doing whatever. Whatever I can think of. There’s no motive. It’s just open format at this point. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. I don’t want to have anything concrete because I don’t want to label it.

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11:59 p.m.

matthew warhol: Wait… Henao Center. Why are we going there?

Harryson Thevenin: There’s a rap show there. That’s the cool thing about this side of town, is you can skirt to everything. Yo, like the bike shop was tight.

matthew warhol: It was tight. Do you like, bounce around like this all the time? We’re going from the rock show to the rap show to a noise show.

Harryson Thevenin: Exactly.

matthew warhol: I appreciate that. I think that’s so cool.

Harryson Thevenin: I just fuck with them all. I can’t not go to one, you know what I mean?

matthew warhol: Something I’ve thought about in Orlando is that it’s too small to have separate scenes. That it needs one scene that’s all together and that’s how it’ll become a New York.

Harryson Thevenin: But I feel like in Orlando, people have the feeling that they have to separate from everyone, that they have to be “unique.” There’s so many micro-crews.

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matthew warhol: Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know. I think it’s like a do-what-you-want thing. It’s cool, but at the same time is that really helping? Is it cool if only 10 people show up to your show because you only know 10 people? I don’t know. I think it’s cool to fuck with everybody and for everybody to fuck with you back. But, at the same time, to each their own.

matthew warhol: Is that why you started taking photos in the first place?

Harryson Thevenin: I think I started to take photos because I wanted to take photos. I was going to all these shows because I fucked with all of these people. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a photographer. I did it because I wanted to shoot photos and I was at the shows already.

matthew warhol: So you didn’t take photos before then?

Harryson Thevenin: Not really.

matthew warhol: You had never had a camera?

Harryson Thevenin: Never. Yeah, it’s really weird.

matthew warhol: So what do you want to do?

Harryson Thevenin: I have no motive.

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matthew warhol: No, but where do you fall into everything?

Harryson Thevenin: Maybe I don’t. I guess I fall into the rap thing, but I’ll do an indie show. I’ll do a folk show. I don’t have a motive. I don’t have a direction. I think that’s the only difference between me and most people. I’ll do anything. I don’t care. It’s not drawn out. It’s not planned. I don’t know how to explain that.

matthew warhol: But people like it.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, people are bored. It’s like, even if I’m going to throw a show for no reason, it’s going to be a good show. I still thought about the lineup.

matthew warhol: Can I bring something up regarding that?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah.

matthew warhol: This is something I thought. I remember I was in Savannah. And the day I came back, I came back to go to the TEDD, Shania Pain, GRANT, RV show because to me that was an amazing lineup.

Harryson Thevenin: But at the same time, the show did very poorly.

matthew warhol: Yeah, but that’s the thing… What do you take out of that?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean yeah, it did poorly but at the same time, there were so many people that wanted to go to the show that couldn’t go because they weren’t 21. So I had to put them on the guest list to get them in. What am I going to do, turn them down? No. I don’t care. I’ll put you on the guest list. You know what I mean?

matthew warhol: If it’s a local show. They’re not going to keep other people out.

Harryson Thevenin: But they try to act like that. It’s like, I announced my birthday party and someone from The Geek Easy said I could do my party for 18+. It’s like, “Well, we’re having a midnight special and lighting like 15 joints. Is The Geek Easy going to be cool with that?”

matthew warhol: And Sandwich Bar is cool with that?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean, they’re not “cool with it.” But Uncle Lou’s wasn’t “cool with it” last year. The next three times I went there the bartender was like, “Those were the best sales I ever had.” Don’t talk. Get your money. I guess my rational is weird.

matthew warhol: No, it’s like, “You provide the space. I’ll do everything else.”

Harryson Thevenin: Exactly, what is the problem?

matthew warhol: Yo, I’ve never been to the Henao. It’s going to be lit.

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1:09 a.m.

matthew warhol: Another one. Yo, how do you feel about turning 26?

Harryson Thevenin: It sucks just like getting older, ya know? The ideas are getting younger, but I’m getting older. It’s fine. I’m turning 26, but I’m like doing the same shit as I was when I turned 22. Where does the progression happen?

matthew warhol: How has the last year been? Do you think you’ve grown?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean, the whole event thing hasn’t grown, you know? The whole event situation for underground Orlando music is kinda not cool right now.

matthew warhol: Was it cool?

Harryson Thevenin: When Spacebar and The Space were open at the same time, it was very cool. You had options. You take whatever you can get at this point. You know what I mean?

matthew warhol: I agree.

Harryson Thevenin: It hasn’t been as cool ever since. Now, everyone books at the same place. It’s the same thing over and over and over. What’s getting done?

matthew warhol: Something that that made me think of is what Harry said to me when I asked him something similar. I was like, “What do you think it’ll take to make Orlando successful?” And he said that someone with a lot of money needs to come in and support people and build stuff. I’m curious as to what you think.

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Harryson Thevenin: I’ll say that we need some money, not even a lot of money. And they need to open something nearby where something is happening.

matthew warhol: A venue?

Harryson Thevenin: A venue where you can charge cover and have a good sound system and have ideas that can sprout from there. That is the immediate solution that I can think of.

matthew warhol: Wouldn’t that become oversaturated at some point too?

Harryson Thevenin: Maybe, but at the same time you have one more place, you know? If you charge $5 cover it’s a lot to break even if you have to pay the venue $200. There’s no fun in that. You have to do so much to just break even. You’re just helping them out at that point. You’re not helping yourself.

matthew warhol: And is that why you wanted to start SR50, to help the little guy?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t mean to piggyback on the Harry interview but what he said in it is true, do it yourself. If no one is going to do it, I’m going to do it myself because that’s the only way I can see things done. I’ve done so many successful events and Orlando Weekly has never covered a single one. TEDD’s mixtape release was the littest event that happened the month it stopped doing events and there was no media coverage. I was like, “Where is the Orlando Weekly for something like this? I guess I’ll do it myself.”

matthew warhol: It needs to be covered. What is your goal?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t have a goal.

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matthew warhol: But like, in your own life? Having nothing to do with what you’re doing now.

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know if I have any goals. I think I’ll just do anything. Like cool, I can get a nice full-time job and not have to worry about money, but where’s the fun in that? I’m just working at that point, making sure I have security. I’d rather just be broke amongst my people, doing shitty events at small venues, making sure that people are accounted for because no one else is going to speak for them. That’s where SR50 steps in. We’ll cover it. It’s like what John Morgan said, we’re “For The People.” Because like, there’s no money in this. There’s no monetary gain. There’s no long-term goal because you’re not going to make any money long term. You’re just helping out the little man, which is fine.

matthew warhol: Do you want to stay here? If it launched you, would you want to stay here or leave?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean I guess I would want to stay here. At the same time, if I leave there’s going to be nothing else. There’s not going to be another person like me. There’s not going to be another person like Harry. If we both leave at the same time, the city is pretty much doomed — which happened before with the indie rock community. Remember Orange You Glad? Remember Total Bummer? Remember when everyone left?

matthew warhol: I don’t.

Harryson Thevenin: What’s left? Welzeins. Someday River. Everyone left. It’s like, we’re going to go to Shania Pain’s EP release at Uncle Lou’s… I don’t know, you do what you can with what you have.

matthew warhol: I don’t know why. I have hope for it. I see it fitting together and working.

Harryson Thevenin: I got hope, but at the same time, I’ve been in the scene since 2011. And I’ve seen the peak of it and I’ve seen the bottom. And we’re in-between, but how good is that? We’re super limited on venues and we’re going to oversaturate the one venue that we have that’s halfway across town. I’m down with it though. I’ll do whatever you guys want to do. I’ll ride the wave. I don’t know. I really don’t. For the time being, let’s get drunk. Let’s hang out. Let’s see where it goes.

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Swirlsss Interview Orlando music
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ART OR DIE: The Colorful World of Swirlsss

Swirlsss cares about Orlando more than most people. Even though she’s currently living in Kissimmee, she’s booking weekly events at Vinyl Arts Bar that feature local music, art, vendors, and more. Outside of that, she’s an incredibly talented painter whose swirls of color incorporate emotion and movement like those of the great expressionist painters. I wanted to meet up with this local person-about-town to talk all that shit and takes some pics of her and her art. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

Swirlsss hosts a night of music, art, vendors, and spoken word every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar.

Thursday, 4/6

Thursday, 4/20 (feat. Tiger Fawn)


matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music. Swirlsss: Not really. matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it. Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there. matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either? Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So it went literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs] matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: What were you going to school for? Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociolgy teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society. matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.” Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it. matthew warhol: This was the same teacher? Swirlsss: The same teacher. He was not havin’ it. He was like, “Okay well, I know that you feel that way but I’m going to let you retake the final.” And I’m like, “I do not want to retake your final. I didn’t take it in the first place.” [laughs] “I don’t know why I showed up here. It’s the last day.” If I didn’t show up, I would have failed the class entirely. He would have withdrawn me from the class. matthew warhol: Did you pass the class? Swirlsss: I bullshitted the whole thing and got a “D.” I didn’t fail though. I don’t know if that’s better than failing. [laughs] matthew warhol: It definitely is. So you were saying that you wanted to focus on art. What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do. Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career in the beginning wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art. matthew warhol: What were you making? Swirlsss: At that point I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to do events which is what I’m focusing on now, coordinating events. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s no where to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on. matthew warhol: But your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it? Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people, so I jus throw an event and ask them to come. So they don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places. matthew warhol: How I know of you is through Instagram. I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities. Personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already, but want to know more about them. And be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh … you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people. Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but… matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist. Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live there life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram, that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through. matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like painting was? Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always … different! [laughs] I was always the weird quite girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there’s so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck. matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool, like you said, you want to take risks. Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art. matthew warhol: Isn’t it. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for what we independently do and how it coincides together. Swirlsss: I feel like if everyone followed their passion, like bro, the world be so much fucking better. We would always be happy doing what we do and collaborating with people. matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now? Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events. matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar? Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night. matthew warhol: How has it been? Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistant people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people. matthew warhol: At your events you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these seperate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out. Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit. matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting? Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding. matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are these them ? Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished. matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting? Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground. matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it? Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did a random layers over the whole thing. These two go together. matthew warhol: Diptych? Is that what’s it called when two paintings go together? Swirlsss: Sounds really sexual. Sounds like “dick.” I feel like these three (see photo) I was experimenting with. These are all new. I don’t have my older pieces. matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot? Swirlsss: Yeah, I usually do the first layer on the ground. But I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer. matthew warhol: Because of all the white? Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like this one is different. I don’t want to finish the whole thing. I just want to have a main focus. matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting? Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.” matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions. Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like. matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful. Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into. matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel. Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see. matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work? Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there was some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did. matthew warhol: Who did you pull from? Swirlsss: I don’t know any names. I would just look up, “famous abstract artists.” matthew warhol: On Google? Swirlsss: On YouTube. And I would just how they would paint and watch interviews. matthew warhol: That’s poetic. Swirlsss: A lot of female artists too. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion. matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff? Swirlsss: I just don’t take pictures of them, and I don’t really showcase my work anywhere. I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music.

Swirlsss: Not really.

matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it.

Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there.

matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either?

Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So I literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs]

matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you going to school for?

Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociology teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society.

matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.”

Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it.

matthew warhol: What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do.

Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career, in the beginning, wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you making?

Swirlsss: At that point, I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to coordinate events which is what I’m focusing on now. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s nowhere to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on.

matthew warhol: Your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it?

Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people. They don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places.

matthew warhol: I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities, personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already but want to know more about them and be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh… you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people.

Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but…

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist.

Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live their life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram — that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through.

matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like the painting was?

Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always… different [laughs]. I was always the weird, quiet girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there are so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck.

matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool. Like you said, you want to take risks.

Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art.

matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now?

Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

read our last interview

hear new Orlando music

Follow Swirlsss: Facebook / Instagram

Follow The Vinyl Warhol: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar?

Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night.

matthew warhol: How has it been?

Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistent people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people.

matthew warhol: At your events, you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these separate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out.

Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting?

Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding.

matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are those them?

Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished.

matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground.

matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it?

Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did random layers over the whole thing. These two go together.

matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot?

Swirlsss: I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This one, I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.”

matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like.

matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful.

Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into.

matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see.

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work?

Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there were some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did.

matthew warhol: Who did you pull from?

Swirlsss: A lot of female artists. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion.

matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff?

Swirlsss: I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

read our last interview

hear new Orlando music

Follow Swirlsss: Facebook / Instagram

Follow The Vinyl Warhol: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

FIONA Interview Orlando musice
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Don’t Advertise Twice: FIONA’s Secrets to Flexin’

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.


FIONA Interview Orlando musice

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 Interview Orlando musice

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.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

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 Interview Orlando musice

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 Interview Orlando musice

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.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

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.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

RV video premiere orlando

RV Captures Old Nostalgia in “So Easy” Video (premiere)

RV is the perfect package. They’ve got a hot sound that you know but doesn’t overtly bite from the bands of the now. And along with a genuinely entertaining live show, they look tyght as hell doing it. When you see the four of them up on stage banging out jangly rock tunes, you can’t help but want to be a part of their vibe — and I’m not sayin’ this because we all consistently complement each other on how we dress. To put it bluntly, their one of Orlando’s best young bands with grander potential than just about anyone.

In their debut music videothe band perfectly captures what I believe is their aura, nostalgia for a day at the beach that happened before you were born. Does that make sense? See, when I listen to RV, I feel like I’m in the grainy pieced-together world that is this new video. The songs aren’t inherently sad, but something about the way Justin’s voice lulls over the sparkling guitars gives me a sense of longing, but one that doesn’t entirely feel my own. It’s like I’m in the early-’60s, a time when our country still had its blinded innocence — as can be seen by the very alive JFK in the video. Overall, “So Easy” is a great commercial for their forthcoming album Anywhere, out this spring.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview
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Tight Genes: Sarcastically Screaming Through the Pain.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about the state of Orlando punk. Although ORL classics like Wet Nurse and hardcore new-comers Flamethrower push the culture forward, the consensus is that it’s not quite as abundant as it once was — whether you agree with that or not, you have to admit that the loss of Vivian K., False Punk, GAG, Butterqueen, etc. were upsetting.

But there’s one group that absolutely will not stop. Since forming in 2011, Tight Genes has cycled through many different characters, always being a vehicle for Noah LaChance and Kayo Roguez. Tragically, two of those past members have since passed, one in a drug overdose and the other in a motorcycle accident. And throughout all this hardship, they’ve pushed forward releasing their latest seven-inch Prison Wallet in late February. I sat down at three of the four (Eddie appears via cellphone) punks in the current iteration of Tight Genes at the band’s animal-filled house. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

3/26 @ Uncle Lou’s w/ Sonic Graffiti & Stuyedeyed (The Vinyl Warhol Presents)


Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: How long have you guys been in this incarnation of the band?

Noah LaChance: The band has been together now for five years, quite a history. [Kayo] and I are both original members, but I started the band with my friend Owen. And uh, he was in and out of rehab and was in jail for a while, so it kind of stunted stuff. Before any of that happen, we released album that was put out by Goodbye Boozy, an Italian record label.

matthew warhol: What year was that?

Noah LaChance: 2011. So that was about six years ago.

[laughs]

Alexis Simon: Wow.

Noah LaChance: Then Pat joined the band. Owen ended up coming down and stayed with us for a while. He ended up passing away from a drug overdose. Then Pat continued the band with us; then unfortunately, he ended-up dying in a motorcycle accident.

Alexis Simon: That’s why I’m in the band. It’s kind of bittersweet.

Noah LaChance: Eddie had also been in the band for a while. He was our bassist. And after all this happened and I decided to continue the band — it was a tough decision, two people who are incredibly essential…

matthew warhol: That’s an incredibly hard thing to go through. I can’t imagine that.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

Noah LaChance: But the first seven-inch we had were songs that I recorded and demoed myself for a while. I showed my friend Owen and he was like, “We need to make this a thing.” From that moment, I felt that this was my outlet from whatever I’m feeling. All the lyrics are really satirical. We have a lot of songs about movies. I have one about Predator, Big Trouble, Little China.

matthew warhol: How have they changed throughout the everything the band has gone through?

Noah LaChance: That happened a while ago … that was like two or three years ago?

Alexis Simon: Owen was like three years. Pat was like two years.

Noah LaChance: When we started we wrote slower, poppier stuff. It’s changed with Eddie on guitar and Alexis on bass.

matthew warhol: Was that in Orlando?

Noah LaChance: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Who else was coming up in that time?

Kayo Roguez: Golden Pelicans.

Noah LaChance: Wet Nurse was around in that time.

Alexis Simon: Odd Movers.

Noah LaChance: Pat had a band around that time called Sexcapades.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: That’s a lot of names. I guess this is a two part question because two things are going through my mind — because I’m stoned — so like, answer these in whatever order you want to, but how has Orlando punk changed and how has the music also changed, having gone through all that other stuff?

Noah LaChance: For the most part, even though it’s a punk scene at its core, it’s always been pretty open to a lot of things. I don’t know if you see this button. This is Todd. He’s a part of Tam Tam and The Sandwich Man — they were around back then.

Alexis Simon: They still play random shows.

Kayo Roguez: They’re  in hiding.

Noah LaChance: Thee Wilt Chamberlin has been around.

Kayo Roguez: I don’t know if they’re a band anymore.

matthew warhol: To me, False Punk was a huge loss. So that’s the thing I was thinking. There’s not as many as there used to be.

Noah LaChance: But even then, that was only like two years ago. And like five years ago, there was a good rise in popularity. Before this band started, Kayo and I were in a band called Lazy Boys — when he was like 16. Even if it was smaller, everyone had a band at the time. There was a lot more going on musically, and I feel like that’s way cooler, to have everyone actively pursuing music in some shape or form then even there being an active scene of a bunch of people. I’d rather everyone be playing music so you see everyone’s creative juices flowing. It was cool when there was a bunch more bands going on.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: You cherish it a little bit more. Alexis, when exactly did you join the band and was it already a little more sparse?

Alexis Simon: I don’t know, I guess I haven’t been around as much. When I moved to Orlando, I lived near UCF. And I liked punk music, but I never knew of anything going on. I think the first show I went to was a Lazy Boys show. But I was in a random goth band. As far as the scene goes, there’s always something whether it’s raw punk or grindcore or the opposite side of the spectrum. There’s always something happening and Orlando is accepting enough where you have a bunch of different genres mixing.

matthew warhol: I mean the show next Sunday, the bands are kind of like that. Stuyedeyed are a little more psychedelic. Sonic Graffiti are a little more rock n roll.

Alexis Simon: It’s cool that everyone is coming out. Not just musicians, people coming out to shows are open to listening to different stuff. Not everyone likes Tight Genes, but more people like them than I would expect, usually.

[laughs]

Noah LaChance: The thing I think makes Orlando unique, and is a part of why I’ve stayed here so long, is Uncle Lou’s.

Alexis Simon: I love Lou.

Noah LaChance: That guy has let me do so much shit in his bar. One time, I had someone jump on my back and ended up falling backwards and breaking a mirror, and he was cool with it. When I first started going to shows there, he’d always have his headphones on, be watching the sports game. He didn’t really pay attention. Now, you go and he knows everybody by name. He’s a character of Orlando. You got to love that. He’s let us do whatever we want. We’ve thrown Valentine’s Day shows …

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: Was that the Tittie Thyme one?

Alexis Simon: We love Lou.

matthew warhol: By the way, what up zine community? Shout out Tittie Thyme. So then going to the other side of things, which is the question I asked before we divulged into that, how has the music changed too? Losing two people but continuing on, that has to change a person and that has to change the music.

Noah LaChance: Before we go into that I want to say one thing. One of the biggest losses, was The Space. It was so DIY. And we’d respect the place. Everyone kept it nice and didn’t steal anything. That was a big part of our band and what allowed us to connect to people from Jacksonville and Savannah. We were able to like, bring them down, have a keg, charge people five bucks, make 100 bucks to pay this band.

matthew warhol: And how were those shows?

Noah LaChance: Oh, they were awesome. It was like a house show.

Alexis Simon: Insane. It was so hot.

matthew warhol: And no one cared.

Alexis Simon: Carrying all the equipment up all those stairs.

Kayo Roguez: We could be there however late we wanted.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

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Noah LaChance: But to answer your question, and Kayo has a lot of input with this too, what is cool is that with Eddie being in the band, we’ve gone in a harder direction.

Kayo Roguez: We’ve always had a revolving door of people, in and out.

Noah LaChance: In the beginning, especially with my friend being in and out of rehab, a lot of songs were kind of stagnant. All together, we have three seven-inches so far. We have two on the way. One that is recorded and just needs to be mastered. And the other that we worked on just this weekend. Our latest seven-inch Prison Wallet …

Kayo Roguez: … is the first where I’ve played drums.

Alexis Simon: Even though you were the original drummer.

Noah LaChance: This is the first one with this lineup. And some of the songs are from previous lineups, but some our newer. “Bathroom Baby” is a poppier song that Eddie wrote. We’ve been able to flourish a lot more with this lineup, without everyone’s other interests, whatever they may be.

matthew warhol: It’s more focused?

Noah LaChance: Definitely is.

Alexis Simon: But the music is darker, especially after Pat passed.

Noah LaChance: There are a few songs that are a reference to them.

matthew warhol: Is it darker even outside of the lyrics?

Alexis Simon: I’d definitely say some of the songs are darker. But I definitely think that we’ve gotten more aggressive. I think the tone of the instruments has gotten more … I don’t know how to explain it.

Noah LaChance: But a lot of our lyrics are still satirical. Like I was saying, we have a song about Predator, the greatest piece of American cinema.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: Real quick, what are your favorite movies?

Noah LaChance: Predator. Big Trouble In Little China. Rambo. Besides that, I’m really into Wes Anderson. Of course, another one of my favorite is Mad Max.

Kayo Roguez: I like Alien.

matthew warhol: Do you guys like Alien Vs Predator. Did your friendship join on that movie?

Noah LaChance: Didn’t AVP end up cross-breeding?

Kayo Roguez: I actually did like the movie, though.

matthew warhol: Anyway, what are your favorite movies?

Alexis Simon: Mine are kind of different, I guess. My favorite movie is Magnolia. Anything that Paul Thomas Anderson directed. My first tattoo when I turned 18 references Magnolia.

Tight Genes Orlando Interview

matthew warhol: So how do movies make it into music?

Noah LaChance: Really, with action movies, they’re all satirical. They’re all phony. So it’s easy to write a cheesy song about cheesy material. It’s a time in cinema that will never be replicated.

matthew warhol: So like, I don’t know if this is getting too deep, but what’s satirical about your music?

Noah LaChance: Some of it. Our first seven-inch is called Cop Again. It was about turning tricks for heroin and going out. It was also a reference to a Mummies song because it was about stabbing a dude and taking his wallet behind a laundry mat. So the next song “Rats,” is about thinking rats are all throughout your house and that someone is recording you. It’s about paranoia, which, when you’re a heroin addict is something you feel.

Alexis Simon: I feel like he writes satirical songs about things that are really serious in his life to almost like, as a way to reflect on it that may not be as negative.

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