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Unknown Unknowingness: The Electro-Soul of Chakra Khan

Alexandra Love and DiViNCi have been making music together for over a decade now. After numerous albums as half of hip hop quartet Solillaquists of Sound, last year the two released their first album, Love Is At The Core, under a new banner, Chakra Khan. This explosion of electro-soul was quickly followed up by The Cope Aesthetic, released earlier this year. The three of us met via computer screen to dive into this mysterious project. Enjoy.

Upcoming Events:

August 14: Chakra Khan w/ Emily Fontano @ Timucua Arts White House

matthew warhol: I know the two of you have been working together for very long time in Solillaquists of Sound, but coming together for Chakra Khan, how did that come about?

Alexandra Love: We’ve been talking about doing something together like since we started. De, I think the first thing we did together was we made an album just you and I.

DiViNCi: Yeah, that’s actually how we met, through Swam. Swam and Alex came down to visit. When she was living in Chicago and came to Orlando, her and I made an album the week she was here.

Alexandra Love: And then, we’ve just been talking about trying to do something—not like that album again, but just something the two of us.

DiViNCi: Yeah because, on each Solillaquists album, we would do a song where it was just her and me. There was Beautiful Catastrophe.” There was “The Curse.” And we’ve always said, “We need to make an album of this stuff, stuff like that this.” And then when it came time to do Chakra Khan—it wasn’t even called Chakra Kahn—it was just a show. When we when we went to prepare for the show, we made a bunch of material for the show. Those songs kind of kick-started the idea of like, “We can just make this into an album, now.” And at that show, Alex was like on stage and she said, “We’re going to call ourselves Chakra Khan.”

[laughs]

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matthew warhol: Did you know about the name before she said it?

DiViNCi: Right before we went stage she mentioned something about it. I thought she was joking a little bit at first, but then when she said on stage I was like, Well that’s it.”

matthew warhol: Having worked together in the past on these one-off songs, was that kind of the basis for writing new material, or were you trying to do something completely different?

Alexandra Love: It was kind of like that, but we have developed a sort of way of making music that’s not really forced. So it was just kind of what happened in the moment, kind of combination of the past and future.

DiViNCi: If you listen to the stuff that was just her and I on the Solillaquists albums, it all sounds like it could have been on the same album. We have different tastes, but when it comes time to make something for either one of them, it’s like the stuff that we overlap on. So if like I’m gonna making something for Swam, it’s going to be a lot more in the hip hop realm. But when I make stuff with Alex, it’s going to be a lot more etherial or ambient or soulful. At the time when we’re making this stuff for the Chaka Khan album, I finally found a pocket of music that combined a little bit of a hard element with that. I was exploring and it kind of became the sound of that album and a template for the future stuff.

matthew warhol: When you were working on the album, is it a completely collaborative thing where you’re in a studio together or is it sending ideas back and forth?

Alexandra Love: It’s back and forth.

DiViNCi: But we live together, so there’s that. So when you say we’re in the studio, you know we’re in our separate studios.

matthew warhol: Wait, so you’re in the same house right now?

Alexandra Love: Yeah!

[laughs]

DiViNCi: I’m downstairs, the air conditioning is broken so I’m not working in my studio.

Alexandra Love: I’m upstairs because I like my cave.

matthew warhol: That’s funny. So where does that start? Is it always one person having a thing and sharing it with the other? Where are those sparks coming from?

Alexandra Love: It’s really random and based on inspiration. So it could be I have an idea for song and I just record it to a click track, and then I give it to him, or he has stem of something and he gives it to me and I write to it. It’s just kind of always whatever it is, that sounds so lame but thats just what it is.

matthew warhol: With the most recent project, how was it different than the one you put out before? Was there a reason for the quick turn around?

DiViNCi: We only took a couple of weeks off between finishing the first record and starting the second. We’re pretty much doing same thing again. I think it’s pretty much separated by a couple of days a year apart, the first and second album. And when we were finishing up production for the second album, I was already putting stuff in our Dropbox folder for potential stuff for the new album.

Alexandra Love: It’s like it’s part of the same expression just because we’re always expressing where we are in our lives, but it’s a different part of the same expression. If the first record was one place then this new one would be like the bridge that’s leading to the next place.

DiViNCi: While there was very little time in between them, each definitely captured a moment productivity together—like and where we are at. And the second one totally has its own sound. They’re slightly different from each other but they live in the same universe.

matthew warhol: Could you put those differences in words… or even feelings?

Alexandra Love: For me, Love Is At The Core is about being in this new comfortable place of like awareness and self-expression. And then The Cope Aesthetic is more about venturing out of our comfort zones and how learning to cope with things can have a beauty to it. But it’s also got more tension to it. So Love Is At The Core is definitely more subtle, andThe Cope Aesthetic is sort of reaching into this new place and trying to illustrate the beauty in our journey.

DiViNCi: Sonically they differ a little too. Love Is At The Core there’s a little bit more electronic elements and, dare I say, a little bit more trap elements. Then The Cope Aesthetic its a lot more jazzy. It’s Jazz, but it has a mature sound to it too that we both didn’t purposely engineer.

matthew warhol: With those kind of more, for lack of a better term, natural elements, Alex, for you writing on top of that does it pull different emotions out of you?

Alexandra Love: Yeah, for some of them it was like just a piano or just a loop of piano for five minutes. And I record to it and then I give it back to him and then he would engineer around it. It’s a beautifully independent comma co-creative process.

DiViNCi: That process was something we did for both albums. The song “Love Is At The Core” is literally a two bar piano loop that I made in 2011. She heard it, and I always liked it just the way it was, and when she heard it, she said, “Ooo, I really like that.” But if I showed that to anybody else they would be like, “Are you going to do anything else to it?” She wanted it just like that. And when she recorded to it, exactly as you hear her vocals on there, it’s exactly how she recorded to the track when it was just the piano loop. And I took that and put drums to it, put bass to it, put everything around it. I like that process so much because I always felt compelled to get an idea out and just stop. That’s how I would describe the consistent approach to this material, get the things that feel like the embodiment of the mood.

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matthew warhol: Alex, when you’re writing over the instrumentals, are you sitting down with a pen and paper or is it off the top?

Alexandra Love: It’s so interesting because I don’t feel like I’m actually answering your questions, because I’m saying it’s everything for everything.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: I don’t know if that means I’m good or I’m bad.

Alexandra Love: I think that means you’re spectacular.

matthew warhol: I hope.

Alexandra Love: It just depends on what I feel in the moment. What I learned about myself is that when I try it one way, it doesn’t work all the time. But if I stay open, it always works out.

DiViNCi: I have a question actually? Are there any particular songs that you remember having a certain process that kind of stood out to you?

Alexandra Love: Yeah, “Bravery Today” and “Stay” and “Notice” are all freestyled.

[matthew and D together] Wow…

DiViNCi: Lyrics too?

Alexandra Love: Yeah, oh yeah, everything.

DiViNCi: So kind of like Wu Tang and Jay Z?

Alexandra Love: I don’t know about Wu Tang.

DiViNCi: No, I know RZA would go into the studio and freestyle and just stop when it fell off. Then he’d come back to it.

Alexandra Love: For those songs, I freestyle the whole thing at once and went back and recorded it in a way that was the same, but sounded cleaner.

DiViNCi: That’s really cool.

matthew warhol: Have you always been able to do that?

Alexandra Love: Yeah, I’ve always been able to do that. For me, when I tune into an emotion it’s easy for me to express the perimeters of it. Not easy, but it’s natural.

matthew warhol: I always thought, especially when it comes to singing, it always reminds me to painterly expression. Impressionistic painters painted Ala Prima where it’s just them in the moment. Nothing is planned. They’re capturing the light at one specific moment.

Alexandra Love: Yeah, and what’s so beautiful about the music that De gave me for this album; it made that easy.

DiViNCi: It’s cool to hear you say that, because a lot of that music was made in the same way. A lot of that stuff is stream of consciousness music writing. I did this talk in Berlin last year about submitting to your body, surrendering to your body, as apposed to thinking about it. This is a practice I’ve been trying to get better at. That’s what I’ve learned from performing, my best stuff comes out when I’m losing myself.

Alexandra Love: I think all of life is better when we do that.

DiViNCi: I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. Even people who are atheists, they don’t have to believe in a greater power. You can just believe in something bigger than yourself. A lot of people think of their mind as themselves, but you have to think bigger. And your body is bigger.

Alexandra Love: Even if it’s just your future self. Our future selves our bigger than our present selves.

matthew warhol: I think it’s really cool that we’re getting into this high level, spiritual talk because I get a lot of that from your music. Is this how you guys talk when it’s just the two of you?

[laughs]

Alexandra Love: Totally!

matthew warhol: I love that.

DiViNCi: I guess a lot of people don’t talk about it to much, but it’s our career to address these things and wield them.

matthew warhol: And to me, that’s a good conversation, that’s a good painting, that’s a good piece of music, something where you can get beyond superficial. Talking about the next project, what’s the next place? What’s shape is it taking at this current time?

Alexandra Love: It’s developing, for me anyway, into… If The Cope Aesthetic was about how we deal with things and the beauty that can come when being in the moment and dealing with shit, then this is about arriving in a new place and exploring it.

DiViNCi: Well that’s cool to hear you say that. It’s always funny—us working together for so long and becoming in tune with our relationship with each other and what “us” is—it’s so easy for us to hear the intention in each other’s music. We don’t have to speak about it. This is the most Alex and I have talked about these projects. [laughs] We don’t plan it out, so much as we’ve been planning it out for 15 years. It’s cool to hear us being charged with the task of putting words to these things.

Alexandra Love: So thank you for asking the questions because it makes a huge difference.

matthew warhol: Aww…

DiViNCi: Or, no thank you, and you just ruined everything.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: You’ll never write a song together ever again.

[laughs]

Alexandra Love: No, it’s a great thing.

DiViNCi: Finding a new place is cool because, sonically, the more albums a project put out, the more I feel free to explore new territory. The way I always think about producing albums, I think about the story a catalog tells of an artist or group. I think the new music—again, very beginning stages—is that much more of a departure, dare I say, weirder.

August 14: Chakra Khan w/ Emily Fontano @ Timucua Arts White House

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Florida Men: Pathos, Pathos

Since February 2015, Pathos, Pathos has released three EPs. The first two, titled Familiar Homes and Pet Names, are filled with shimmery indie pop/rock tunes, stuffed of melody and hooks, hooks, hooks. With their latest, a four song project titled Lucky Charm, they’ve taken a step further, maturing as musicians and song writers. Don’t let the goofy banana cover fool you, this is a semi-concept project about a man turning his dead wife into a mannequin. I’ll let the boys explain it for themselves.

Photos by matthew warhol, edits by Alexia Clarke.


matthew warhol: I remember, the first time I saw you guys, was when Alexia and I went to your first EP release at that really hot house party. I don’t know, I feel like you guys have been a local band that I routinely listen to, and I have very strong memories of listening to your music. So that’s why I wanted to talk. I love you guys.

Frank Jesmar Palencia: I love you.

matthew warhol: How long has it been? When did you guys start?

Matt Walsh: Not too long, er, earlier before that—too long-li-er before that.

[laughs]

James Murphy: I think it was 2013. I moved here in 2012 and we met not long after that, and our first show was February 2013.

Matt Walsh: So it’s been like three and a half years.

matthew warhol: Wow that’s such a long time. I feel like so old talking about that. How has your attitude changed since then? You were so fresh-faced, do you think you’ve been hardened?

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Matt Walsh: I think we’re a super hard band…

[laughs]

James Murphy: We’re super tough.

Matt Walsh: They look at us now and are like, “Wow, I don’t want to fuck with those guys.”

matthew warhol: But like dealing with all the BS that comes with being in a band…

Matt Walsh: I feel more comfortable doing shows on our terms, rather than being the babies who play any show. Four times a week seemed like a good idea. I think we’re more aware of the business side of being a band.

matthew warhol: You’re controlling it a lot more, reaching out to who you want to play with. Do you think you’re having better shows now?

Frank Jesmar Palencia: Now we know not to book the same place within the span of a few months.

James Murphy: It’s all trial and error.

matthew warhol: You guys almost broke up at some point, right?

Matt Walsh: Yeah, we took a break… I don’t know why. I was just having a really hard time writing. It’s a lot of work, especially booking tours.

James Murphy: I think we were all super busy at that time too. It was my last two semesters of college. I was doing 40 hours a week at my job.

Matt Walsh: And I think it was when Woodie left. We didn’t have a bass player, and just thinking about, “Do I want to teach all of these songs to someone, again?”

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matthew warhol: Why do you think you’ve kept doing it, pushing forward despite losing members?

James Murphy: It’s a lot of fun.

Matt Walsh: I love it. It’s cool thinking back like, “Wow, this is how we did this then, and why?” I think it was 2015, we were about to come out with a new record, playing Will’s Pub one night, and it felt like a turning point like, “Is someone singing? Did that happen?”

James Murphy: It was just friends before. We knew everyone. The next time, it was random, people we didn’t know were singing.

matthew warhol: I want to dig into what you would say to yourself if you were starting from the beginning. What’s the thing you’ve learned that’s helped the most? It can be from the business side or playing together, whatever you want.

Frank Jesmar Palencia: Business side, we did all our own research on how we should be booking or how we should draft a pitch to venues out-of-state. Talking to other bands, trying to find the styles that would fit with us. We learned a lot booking our first tour.

Matt Walsh: It kinda sucks because I feel like most bands start purely being about fun, but you have to learn all this shit. With that comes better shows or maybe respect within the community. It’s almost like having a second job, coming home and booking. There’s got to be passion for sure.

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matthew warhol: What about you, James? Maybe something more on the music side of things.

James Murphy: I was in metal and punk bands before. I never really played this kind of music before I started playing with you guys. You know, everyone did the whole scene thing…

matthew warhol: I didn’t. I was never into that.

Matt Walsh: Yeah, me neither. You were the scene boy.

James Murphy: I am scene, now and forever. [laughs] I just realized that all this is going to be documented. I only knew people who played on the heavier side—August Burns Red, that side of music—but I always wanted to start a lighter band, like a pop band. When I moved up here and started playing music with Matt, I was like, “Wow, this is way different from what I’m used to.” And Matt also being a drummer, took my skills of only knowing punk and hardcore drums and tampered it down to this whole other thing. He’s come up with a lot of drum parts that I never would have thought of.

Matt Walsh: I feel like there’s still parts in songs that you can hear influence of your punk style of drumming—which I think is so cool—and that’s what helps us keep our sound fresh.

matthew warhol: I especially think as a pop band—and I think I might have said this in a previous piece—I don’t generally like very light, indie pop rock or whatever. But something I’ve always enjoyed about our music is how it varies so much all in one song. How you’re able to essentially cut three different songs into one thing where the feeling or pace of the song will jump around. How does that work when you’re creating the songs? That’s what keeps me interested.

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Matt Walsh: Sure, and that’s a lot of reason why I write that way—very influenced by Max Bemis of Say Anything. He’s like the king of that. And it’s keeping me, the listener, engaged. And I think that’s important because there’s so much music out there. You’re making them wonder what part is coming next.

matthew warhol: So how do you use that?

Matt Walsh: For the writing process, I normally will come up with a standard song structure. And I’ll write a first verse, but know that the second verse has to have something different. It feels like its own thing.

matthew warhol: For me, it’s a credibility thing. I feel like a lot of songs are cheap with how repetitive they are. Some of my favorite songs of yours will start one place and end somewhere completely different. And I think that’s why people sing along to your songs too, because so many parts stick out. Going back to the evolution of everything, how has the music changed on this new EP?

Matt Walsh: Going back to James’s punk/metal past, when we started hanging out I had really only listened to indie pop. He opened me up to punk, Touche Amore, Single Mothers, that kinda stuff. I tried to write more like that. It’s a good combination of that.

matthew warhol: On the new EP?

Matt Walsh: Yeah, it’s a four song EP. Two of the songs are pretty standard for us, very poppy. Two songs are a little darker. I think my song writing is maturing a little bit, even with lyrical content. I’m now being influenced by things I wasn’t before.

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Frank Jesmar Palencia: When I first joined the band, I really only played acoustic guitar…

matthew warhol: I remember, they used to make fun of you, being like, “This guy sucks.”

[laughs]

Matt Walsh: What?!

matthew warhol: The first time we all hung out, you were like, “Frank’s always fuckin’ up!” [laughs] You’ve always been the fall guy in the band.

Matt Walsh: And how he’s glorified on a t-shirt. Does that make up for it?

Frank Jesmar Palencia: I think so… Anyways, so only playing acoustic, I had to relearn how to do melodies. It’s different from my style of playing, so after three years I’ve started to learn tones more. I’ve become a pedal snob. I’ve grown a lot.

Matt Walsh: Fuck you, Frank!

matthew warhol: We were talking, before we started recording, about one of the new songs being about the afterlife. Is that something that you’ve touched on before?

Matt Walsh: I used to be afraid to touch on religion. I’m personally not religious, but when I write songs I try not to write them about myself. This EP—and I don’t know if this is me creating this after I’ve put the songs in order—but we have a song called “The Past Of Our House,” that’s about this Florida man whose wife passed away, and he stuffed her essentially, preserved her body and kept her. I just thought the idea of that was so crazy and I wanted to write a song about it. The song directly following that is about the afterlife.

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matthew warhol: What is it called?

Matt Walsh: It’s called “Will I Meet You?” I think that song is just as much about me than it’s about that story. It deals a lot with legacy too. I’m the youngest in my family, and what if I don’t want to have kids? That’s it, my family name is going to be gone which is weird to think about.

matthew warhol: That definitely seems heavier than, “I know that you like. I know that you like me. I know that you like me. I know that you like me.”

[laughs]

Matt Walsh: I may have grown as a lyricist.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: Is that just part of getting older, you think, writing songs and thinking about family legacies?

Matt Walsh: It definitely comes with growing up. I’m 24 and a lot of people are thinking about getting married and having kids. Going back to the theme of the whole thing, I expanded that story of the Florida man with the first couple songs. I don’t know what their real life story was, but the first song is about them meeting and in my mind the woman knew, whether it was cancer or something, knew she wasn’t going to make it. They bloomed this relationship without him knowing. Then the second song is about their relationship blossoming. I haven’t really talked about this with anyone.

Frank Jesmar Palencia: Yeah, this is the first time I’ve heard this. I knew “The Past Of Our House” was about it.

James Murphy: I didn’t know any of this.

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Matt Walsh: Yeah, we don’t normally talk about lyrics. I don’t think ever. I don’t even know if you guys know the lyrics. It’s weirdly a personal thing to where I don’t normally feel comfortable talking about it, but singing about it is different.

matthew warhol: It’s more obtuse. Is there a lyric actually about stuffing a body?

Matt Walsh: Yeah, it’s “All the wax and wire fills your frame.”

James Murphy: I knew the meaning of that song and the story, but I didn’t know this is technically a concept EP.

Matt Walsh: It kind of came together as I was piecing the record together. And the last song is more about me, but it could relate to him like, “My wife is dead. Now what?” What’s he going to do? Maybe that’s why he did it. He’s not ready to accept that maybe that’s it.

matthew warhol: I remember I was talking to one you guys and you said that in the greater scene of the Orlando music scene you don’t feel accepted, something along the lines of that. Matt, I think we were talking about this.

Matt Walsh: I think that Orlando is so diverse and there’s a ton of bands. There’s such a big scene and with that comes cliques. You can’t prevent. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve earned respect by playing shows or what, but I don’t necessarily feel that as much as I used to. And I really think that Marshal [Rones] has a big part in bringing the community together. I think he’s done wonders for Orlando. He’ll put people together and everyone’s meeting everyone. It should be easy because it’s a community. I think Orlando, in the last three years, has grown a lot.

Frank Jesmar Palencia: I really like our music scene, actually. I feel like now that we’ve gone around Florida, I really think our music scene here is huge. It makes you appreciate what you have.

Matt Walsh: Most places in Florida, I’m like, “I miss Orlando.”

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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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Florida Is Loud: Harsh Noise w/ Glenn Stefani

Orlando Fashion Square Mall is a weird place for an interview with a member of a harsh noise/doom band. Like the isolation one feels in an empty mall that’s set to close soon(?), Glenn Stefani’s berating music has an unexpected peacefulness to it. Glenn, if you don’t know, plays in the bands Ad Nauseum, Deformed, and Uh, makes drone/noise music solo under the name Temperament, makes digital art, and was responsible for Florida Is Loud, the three-day celebration of Florida fringe music that happened in December. He’s an aloof character who doesn’t like take well to the spotlight or having his face online — which is why I’m so thankful that he was down to do this interview. Enjoy.

Photos by matthew warhol. Edits by Glenn Stefani.

Upcoming Appearances:

May 23 Ad Nauseum, Prisoner (VA), Disgender, and Acid Baptism @ Lou’s

June 23 Uh, Narvee, Gutter Girl, Deformed, Acid Baptism, & Burn to Learn @ K2 House Orlando


matthew warhol: From what I know about you, it seems you’ve done a lot of good for a side of music and a scene in Orlando that gets overlooked a lot, that’s on the fringes of things. You did Florida is Loud. You’re in a bunch of bands. I was wondering how that came about?

Glenn Stefani: Um … my friends and I got into Metallica and Misfits when we were in like fourth or fifth grade. I’ve been on and off with it for years, depending on what’s going on in my life, but I started hitting it really hard when we were getting out of high school. We had hardcore bands in high school, but when I got out and started meeting people who were older than I was and doing things, I realized that there is a mortality on who runs shows or plays in bands. I guess that’s when I started recognizing that I wanted to start really playing music. Initially, when people who book shows started moving away, people started hitting me up. I figured it wasn’t that hard to run a show. You stand there and hassle people for money, give them hard looks if they give you shit. Then you give it all to the touring bands and go home.

matthew warhol: Were you in a band at the time?

Glenn Stefani: When I was in high school, I was in a really short lived hardcore band. Grant [my roommate] and I started Ad Nauseum. That’s what I consider my first real band, and we’ve just been running with it since then. I like to stay as busy as I can at all times, so I kind of pick up whatever comes my way as I go along. If it sticks, it sticks. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. We had one ligament band and I started jamming with people. Before I knew it, I was in four or five bands.

matthew warhol: You said since high school. How many years has that been?

Glenn Stefani: Four or five.

matthew warhol: That’s a long time for a local band.

glenn stefani florida is loud interview orlando music blog

Glenn Stefani: The person who has stuck with me the most is the vocalist, Justin. He’s also in a band called Burn to Learn. Him and I, since the day we met, have been really like-minded. We met my sophomore year of high school and bonded on like Slayer and Morbid Angel. He’s one of those dudes where if we didn’t talk for six months, we’d pick up right where we left up. His patience and willingness to persevere have probably been the biggest inspiration I’ve had being in any of the bands I’ve been in.

matthew warhol: You were saying when you were coming up, that you recognized that there is a mortality to what locals could do. Is that because you think that Orlando people will move on, or is it an age thing?

Glenn Stefani: Orlando is definitely a transient place. People kinda cut their teeth here, and once they decide they want to pursue a job in a different state or something, they leave. It’s definitely a training camp.

matthew warhol: You come here and then you go to a bigger city.

Glenn Stefani: All that is a positive thing because people are going off and doing bigger and better things. While I get nostalgic for the way things were — like for the band Knife Hits and their first demo — things change. All my favorite bands lived and died within a five-year gap in the 90s and 00s. Once I was getting into music and going to record stores, I realized a lot of these bands are very short lived.

matthew warhol: Do you think it’s something about the music they make?

Glenn Stefani: People get old. You might have to go get a big boy job and stop playing music or have a kid or something. But then there are people who keep doing it. I feel like when you’re coming out of high school, which a lot of the bands were, you have a different idea of what it’s going to be. You go on tour a few times and realize it’s not for you. People, as they grow older, get different ideas of what they’re going to do.

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matthew warhol: What’s kept you in it?

Glenn Stefani: Stubbornness. And anxiety. I need music. Music is very important to me. If I didn’t have it I’d have no idea what I’d be doing. I’d probably be more of any idiot than I am now. It’s taught me to grow and understand different ideas and different things about myself. As far as the mortality rate, it was as seamless as someone hit me up and said, “Hey, my friend’s band from North Carolina is coming down and said to contact you because they’re not doing shows anymore.” At that point, I’d booked shows in high school and … I pretty much exclusively book at Lou’s because I love that place. It’s a home away from home.

matthew warhol: You kind of fell into it. You were kind of like the young person in the group and when the older people were gone, you were all that was left.

Glenn Stefani: Yeah, I was 17. I was going to see shitty metalcore, Hot Topic shows in middle school. Fortunately, I met people who showed me better stuff. That’s when I went and saw Knife Hits or No Qualms, two really important bands. That’s why Florida Is Loud was such a jarring thing because I brought Knife Hits back to Orlando.

glenn stefani florida is loud interview orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Had you known them before?

Glenn Stefani: I’d known Ben since I was in high school. Ben was their vocalist — he’s their bass player now. But I talked to Jake Smith the person who handles their booking. Florida Is Loud … I had the idea six months before it happened. And things maybe fell into place two months before it happened. I was lucky to have a more experienced promoter help me with the logistics of it. Like, “Hey, I got Will’s Pub for you.” I more handled booking Lou’s and getting all the bands together. But when it came to me starting to book shows, it was odd because I feel like there are way more charismatic personas in the community than I am. I’m more of a wallflower who’s having awkward conversations with people.

matthew warhol: You bring them together.

Glenn Stefani: Sure, and it’s fun. Nothing gets me more stoked than watching a room full of people watching a weird band from out of town. I enjoy that a lot of times more than playing.

matthew warhol: Was this the first year of Florida Is Loud?

Glenn Stefani: December was the first one. I was at work thinking, “Oh, I’ve met a lot of bands the past few years. Why don’t I try to get them all in a room.” Initially, it was supposed to be a two-day thing. I hate running shows with more than four bands. But with the response it was generating, by the end of the week I realized, “Oh man, I’m going to have to do bigger things with this.” I was nervous at first because I hadn’t handled anything that grand before. But it ended up okay, the worst thing that happened was when we knocked down the ceiling at Lou’s.

matthew warhol: And that’s pretty awesome. It’s shitty, but it’s like, “Wow I didn’t expect that to happen.” You’re making an awesome memory for someone.

Glenn Stefani: I was living purely off of coffee at that point. I hadn’t eaten anything the whole weekend. I wanted to pass out so bad and saw Niko bust out of Lou’s and drop his bass. I was like, “What happened?” I walked in and ceiling tiles were everywhere. That being the worst thing that happened all weekend made it a roaring success for me.

matthew warhol: There are certain bookers, I’ve noticed, that are more in it for themselves. They think that they’re the reason everyone is coming out. But you seem very selfless in the way you move. Does that come from your punk roots? There seems to be certain rules — like you said, the touring band gets the money.

Glenn Stefani: I’d like to go out on a limb and say that with any form of art, there’s always some degree of ego attached. I think I do a very good job of self-regulating. I think my personality to begin with — someone could throw me a compliment and I’m just going to subvert it entirely. From a very young age, I recognized that. If you’re booking a show, you help out the bands to the best of your abilities. From a young age, being exposed to Minor Threat and Black Flag and reading stories about them. Shit, these people are going far beyond where they’re comfortable to bare their hearts and souls to a room full of strangers. They deserve all we can afford to give them.

glenn stefani florida is loud interview orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Going from punk and metal to drone, how did that happen? What’s the progression there, I guess? They seem similar to me, but I don’t know the intricacies of the genre.

Glenn Stefani: There’s this band called Man Is The Bastard, probably one of my favorite bands just out of creativity. I related to people being like, “It’s cool but I don’t get it,” because that’s what I experience a lot with my music. Right when they started, they also formed a group called Bastard Noise which was focused on harsh noise. I liked a lot of the aspects of it because it reminded me of older movie soundtracks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where Tobe Hooper was banging pots and pans and bowing cymbals and bass guitars to make these really weird ambient soundscapes. I had that pure artistic interest in it.

matthew warhol: It seems like a logical step.

Glenn Stefani: I was also living in a house with friends from high school. One of my roommates had a girlfriend who would lay around all day and would complain when I came in after working all day and played guitar or listened to records. So initially, I thought it would be hilarious if I started doing harsh noise in the house just to piss her off. And Ad Nauseam had started, but we couldn’t practice all that often. I had all the pedals and stuff, so I started doing it myself. I kept it mostly a bedroom thing. And eventually, I got sick of listening to power violence stuff and started listening to John Caprenter and Brian Eno. I started forming more ambient stuff that was a little more pleasant to hear.

matthew warhol: What do you get out of that kind of music? Is it the atmosphere it creates? Because I was at the TMD/TWMT Counterweight event at the church and to me, sitting there, your music made me feel very isolated even though I was in a room full of people. What does it do for you?

Glenn Stefani: I’ve always felt like a weirdo my whole life. No matter how charismatic I try to be, I always end up sitting in the back of the room, staying to myself. I find it liberating to be able to — like you said — make people feel as isolated as I do sometimes. But that was kid shit when I was 18. Rather than trying to isolate somebody, as I grew older, I felt a tranquility within the introspective nature of the music. I would hope people feel a similar catharsis.

matthew warhol: There’s definitely a peacefulness in all the static. What are you working on now?

Glenn Stefani: Right now, I play in a grindcore band called Deformed. We’ve finally started writing again. I’ve been working on a lot more visual art lately. It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I’ve been watching more movies lately so I’ve been trying to knock out more graphic stuff.

matthew warhol: When you say visual art, what’s your medium?

Glenn Stefani: Digital. I can’t draw that well, but I can sure shit manipulate stuff. I like doing collage stuff, Zerox looking shit. Reflections of old horror movies that I watch. But musically, I’ve been working on a more ambient album. I’m way too particular so it could take months to do anything.

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