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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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Synesthetes’ Breakfast w/ Anna Cruz & Adam Lavigne

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

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

Upcoming Events:

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


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

Adam Lavigne: Uh, drawing class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Cruz: Same.

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

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

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

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

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was liking stuff.

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

Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was reblogging.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: What about you, Adam?

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

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

Anna Cruz: Yeah.

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

[laughs]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: You’re exploring it.

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: So why the half earth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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wh0 is Halsi?

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

June 15. Sugar Daddy Splash Zone.

Interview.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: Why?

Halsi: Because it’s…

matthew warhol: Stressful?

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: What’s that about?

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

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

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

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matthew warhol: What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halsi: Tobar.

matthew wahrol: Who is that?

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

matthew warhol: You were nine?

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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matthew warhol: Is that where Kira Kira Pop started?

Sam Harris: Yeah.

matthew warhol: How did everyone else come together?

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

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Reborn out of the embers of cringe.

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

matthew warhol: How did you get involved Joy?

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

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

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

matthew warhol: What is your DJ name?

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

matthew warhol: What do you DJ?

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: You do all the idol research.

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Yeah, we were completely surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

[laughs]

matthew warhol: [banging louder] I LOVE NIGHTCORE!

Cherry Wallflower: Woah. [laughs]

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

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

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

matthew warhol: You’re making your own thing.

Cherry Wallflower: That’s the goal.

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

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: You feel it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Harris: Their goals are completely different from ours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joy LaFleur: We have zero tolerance.

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

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

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

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

JUNE 10 GRAND OPENING EVENT


A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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

[laughs]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Nicole Francois: Everyday. [laughs]

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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

[laughs]

Sarah Nicole Francois: I was waiting for that.

matthew warhol: Have you worked on stuff together before?

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

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

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

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

Sarah Nicole Francois: The coffee fueled us.

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: How long ago was that?

Sarah Nicole Francois: Like three weeks ago.

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

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Our shop is a Gemini.

[laughs]

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

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Yesss.

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

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

Sarah Nicole Francois: So many fucking clothes.

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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

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

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

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

Sarah Nicole Francois: …fun.

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

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

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

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: What are the other slogans?

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

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

matthew warhol: Who from Orlando is included?

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

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

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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matthew warhol: How have you organized everything?

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

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

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

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

Vanessa Barros Andrade: Exactly.

Sarah Nicole Francois: That was the thought.

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

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

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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

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

[laughs]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: So it’s just encompassing…?

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

matthew warhol: Wow we’re breezing through this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: Woah…. their actual work?

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

A Shop Interview Orlando BLog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[laughs]

Vanessa Barros Andrade: WOW.

matthew warhol: What did you think about this?

Sarah Nicole Francois: It was a very pleasant surprise.

matthew warhol: Hipster-friendly though?

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: And then they changed it.

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

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

Sarah Nicole Francois: Now you get it.

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No Pulp w/ ORL Promoters Ugly Orange

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

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

Upcoming Events:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Dvorak: I should be promoting that fact.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Dvorak: The most recent one?

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

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

matthew warhol: Why?

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

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

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

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

Nicole Dvorak: Oh God, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Dvorak: It can’t be like that.

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

matthew warhol: What else would you improve?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: What shows are coming up?

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

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

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

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

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

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[laughs]

matthew warhol: I’m just kidding.

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

matthew warhol: Any other solid dates booked?

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

matthew warhol: Where’s that?

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

Nicole Dvorak: And Frank Ocean is coming in July…

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

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

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

matthew warhol: Ew.

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

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

Nicole Dvorak: Next question.

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

Hannah Fregger: I’m Summer.

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

matthew warhol: Who am I?

Hannah Fregger: um… Billy.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: Is that the guitar player?

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

matthew warhol: Come on?!

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

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

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