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

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

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

Upcoming Appearances:

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

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

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


Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: Like what?

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: What about when you started playing music?

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

matthew warhol: So when did you start performing live?

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

matthew warhol: What was the first time?

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

matthew warhol: Could you give me an example?

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

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

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

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

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

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

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

matthew warhol: And so…

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

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

[laughs]

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog
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Who the Hell is Jason Kimmins?

I’m going to assume you already know, or at least have seen, Jason Kimmins. He’s hard to ignore. The charismatic Orlando figure often shows up to local events in designer fashion and gold chains. As a musician, he fronts local noise-dance duo Shania Pain and has just released his first EP under the name J.A.S.O.N. Although I’ve considered him a friend for years, I’ve never stopped being interested in the way he presents himself online and in person. He’s an ORL enigma and I was excited to learn more about him. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

as J.A.S.O.N.

2/2 @ Spacebar w/ Loser Boy, Pulsatile Tinnitus, Child One & DJ Deviant Art 

w/ Shania Pain 

2/6 @ Uncle Lou’s for Pre-INC 2017

2/20 @ Uncle Lou’s w/ We’re All Doomed & Pass/Ages

3/4 @ Spacebar w/ Astari Nite

3/5 @ Sandwich Bar w/ Period Bomb, Problem Child, Mother Juno, & Disgender

(Paintings by Casey Hayes)


Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Jumping right in, your first solo show is coming up. Are you going to be playing the J.A.S.O.N. stuff?

Jason Kimmins: Well, I have different stuff I’m going to do. The first part of it is going to be something else that I’ve created for a split tape with this guy named Necrotizing Fasciitis. He’s like gore core. So I created … kind of like a noise set.

matthew warhol: Oh yeah, because it’s a noise show, right?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah! And so I was like “Yeah, that’s perfect. I’ll use that in there.” So that’ll be different.

matthew warhol: And what’s the other stuff you’re playing?

Jason Kimmins: Well, I’m really not performing or using any vocals until the end. I’ll probably do “BFF.” But it’ll be more … just like me like … it’s not going to be good.

Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Oh no?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, I’m not going to try to be good or anything at it. It’s going to be like … more of a thought piece, I guess. Um … the concept of what I’m trying to do is called “Fulfillment Simulation Sequence One.” And it’s going to be a play off of self-help workshops that people go to and learn from someone about how to make their life better, but it’s going very interpretive. Like a negative skew on how people want better for themselves. But it’s not literal or anything.

matthew warhol: You’re not aiming for that. It’s just what you were thinking when you made it?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, it’s really just my thoughts on how you have to change who you are to be fulfilled in your life and how you have to cover negative parts of yourself. And that’s what is social acceptable. Not being yourself is social acceptable.

matthew warhol: Do you think that’s who you are? I feel like I don’t get that from you, though. I feel like you’re someone who is themselves all the time.

Jason Kimmins: I mean I try to stay true but also, there’s a time and place for everything. You have to use social cues. And part of interacting with society is holding back who you are, unless you’re really comfortable with the people around you. A part of [the performance] is like, there’s a segment that’s geared everyone not wanting to see someone cry. You know, it’s a very bad thing to do. Because it makes everyone else uncomfortable.

Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re really naturally more anti-social or introverted? Do you have to push yourself you get out there?

Jason Kimmins: I’m definitely extroverted, but I feel drained a lot of times when I’m in that sort of environment. I feel comfortable, but I don’t feel happy necessarily. I’m more introverted as of lately.

matthew warhol: Everybody feels like that when it comes to being out. Especially in an environment where you know people, but you don’t really “know” people.

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, I will definitely say I know how to navigate social environments. I’ve learned how to get along with anybody, and maybe that’s skewed some of my vision of what I’m presenting in this performance. But, of course, it’s very interpretive.

matthew warhol: Cool. So like, why did you choose to release your own EP before Shania Pain had any official recordings?

Jason Kimmins: I’ve been doing music since I was in high school. The first thing I made was literally … I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. My uncle gave me Fruity Loops V2. He’s kind of a person like, “The goth scene was so cool back then.” So he gave me that and I played around with that, but it sounded shitty so I just turned the bass so it sounded like, “BRRRRRR,” because that shit really annoying.

Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: So even from the jump, you were experimenting with making something loud?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, well not even just loud. My creative process has always been me going to the extreme, and then I learn where the in-between is. I only know what’s a good medium by going zero to one-hundred.

matthew warhol: So like, even with Shania Pain or your own stuff, do you think that’s going back to the medium?

Jason Kimmins: Of everything that I’ve done so far, sonically, I feel like the J.A.S.O.N. is the project that I’m working on meeting that happy medium.

matthew warhol: Between melody and discourse?

Jason Kimmins: It’s not intentionally discourse. It’s something more texturized and something more layered. I want different sounds to shine through, but to be in a very easy to digest way.

matthew warhol: And I think with the J.A.S.O.N. EP, it’s more all over the place. So there’s stuff that wouldn’t fit in with Shania Pain. Like that second song has like a lounge instrumental.

Jason Kimmins: I will say that one thing I’ll never be is consistent. There’s no way. My main drive is boredom. I have a very high tolerance for pleasure, so it takes me a lot for me to feel like, some good feelings. So I need a lot of different stuff. I need a lot of stimuli to be able to feel comfortable with myself.

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matthew warhol: Musically, what does that mean? How do you reach that place where you’re happy?

Jason Kimmins: Ummmm … It definitely translates to every song being like two-and-a-half minutes, because I have a short attention span. [laughs] I’m like, “Oh this is done. I don’t want to add another chorus because it’ll get boring.” But other than that, I don’t know. I’m still learning about myself and what I like. Maybe one day I’ll be consistent. For instance, I’ve been consistent about clothing. Like, pieces that look good on me — cuts and stuff like that — that I know that I’ll always go back to. So I feel like, yeah, I’m trying to actualize something. But I really can’t say what that would be.

matthew warhol: With your clothes, that’s one part of you I really admire, that you are always 100% yourself. You’ve even pushed me to want to expand [my wardrobe]. Even before I knew you.

Jason Kimmins: How did we meet again? Where’d you see me first at? Where’d I see you first at?

matthew warhol: It was probably The Space.

Jason Kimmins: Definitely, that’s where I met everyone.

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matthew warhol: You were Body LSD then too. What was that exactly?

Jason Kimmins: Okay, so I had graduated from high school and I was really rebellious. I was living with my mom at the time in Merritt Island. My mom is really nice, but because of that — and because I was coming from living in tension with my dad — I was really rebellious. And because of that, I got kicked out. So I was like, “I guess I can move to Orlando.” And, of course, I didn’t know anyone. But I was trying to find, like I said, pleasure in things because I was bored as fuck. Witch House and Scene Punk were really popular at that time — it was like 2013. And they would have nightlife people in New York and I was like, “Yeah, what if I had a nightlife persona?” So I did that and I would literally go to like Firestone. I still thought that was cool. It was the only thing I knew at that time. Then people started introducing me to other things.

matthew warhol: What was the first thing in this sort of scene?

Jason Kimmins: Body Talk. I met Jahre and he said, “Come to this really cool show.”

matthew warhol: Then you started doing your own shows, and they were all very centralized around a theme like Hydrate, the one about water.

Jason Kimmins: I would come up with a good concept and actualize the idea of decorations, making it kind of interactive, and maybe post a couple things [on the Facebook Event Page] that would make people’s minds sway in a certain way like, “Oh, I get it. This is what I can expect.” And then let people have at it. So they are set up to create their own experience, instead of having to conform to it.

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matthew warhol: I think you do that in Shania Pain too — playing with props, having big costumes, moving around.

Jason Kimmins: Actually, the whole time I’m on stage, I’m just thinking, “Holy shit, what am I going to do next?” It’s more like live poetry more than anything else — for what I do at least. And for Andrea, it’s her rhythmic flow that she does with all her instrumentation.

matthew warhol: Are you improvising?

Jason Kimmins: Yes, as of recently though, I have been writing down a few things. Before I’ll go on, I’ll write down a few excerpts that I think will sound cool. At the core of everything that I do, I really love lyrics and the meaning behind lyrics. And that fits in with the actual atmosphere of the music and how it creates a whole image of it.

matthew warhol: Can you give me an excerpt?

Jason Kimmins: Well, I’ll just like think of something to say. Like, what was the show we had?

matthew warhol: The last one was Will’s.

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, actually, I have this shirt that I scribbled all over. When I’m at my desk at work, I’ll grab a piece of paper and write train of thought, free-form thoughts over and over again. So I did that on a shirt. *gets up and grabs an old button-up shirt covered in scribblings done in permeant marker* Part of it was like, “All I ever wanted was to feel your flesh brush against mine and to feel your lips pressed against my fingers.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sb30kaS6yw

matthew warhol: That’s beautiful.

Jason Kimmins: I was also inspired by this homeless guy on Colonial and Goldenrod. He writes out really weird, religious tropes on pieces of cardboard and sticks them around. They’re just like randomly scribbled, “Everyone is going to burn in hell,” some really crazy stupid shit. I have to pee.

(Jason stands up.)

matthew warhol: So when you’re actually performing, do you have a sheet of paper.

Jason Kimmins: Last time we played, I just wrote it on my arm.

matthew warhol: And so how are you involving it with what Andrea is doing? Are they two separate entities completely?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, she has no idea what I’m doing; I have no idea what she’s doing. We don’t really talk about it.

matthew warhol: Really?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah, I don’t think Andrea likes that. She just likes to do whatever. Andrea doesn’t like what to be told what to do.

Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Is she improvising too?

Jason Kimmins: Yeah. She practices five minutes a day or whatever. She doesn’t like to have rules. I’m really inspired by her view on music and like, for what it is, thinking that music shouldn’t have rules.

matthew warhol: Do you think it’ll be more structured when you record?

Jason Kimmins: No, I think we’ll always be dynamic. I don’t think Andrea is the type to be structured, ever. That’s her personality type.

matthew warhol: I would assume that that comes from you, that spontaneity.

Jason Kimmins: Andrea has been involved with the noise scene since before I was even in Orlando. That’s her style. I’m just kind of like a texture to it. I think really, out of everything that Shania Pain is, she really wanted to experiment with electronic music.

(Jason has now been standing for 10 minutes.)

matthew warhol: You can go pee.

Jason Kimmins Orlando music blog

SugarPlum Orlando music
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A Sweet Treat w/ SugarPlum

I became aware of Chelsea Ybarra after my friend Henderson Nguyen sent me the music video he had just finished for a song called “All The Time.” The video featured a new ORL artist who went by the name SugarPlum. The visuals were bright and SugarPlum was bubbly; her voice joyfully sung the sweeeet chorus. After meeting her a few times and seeing her first two live performances, at Will’s Pub and Spacebar respectively, I became more interested in uncovering who this SugarPlum really was. So we scheduled an interview in Stardust Video & Coffee to talk about her upcoming, currently-untitled EP. Our talk even led to a visit to the ice cream parlor where “All The Time” was filmed. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances: February 10 @ Will’s Pub w/ Zoya Zafar & Pathos, Pathos.


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matthew warhol: I wanted to ask you, straight off, who exactly is SugarPlum? Is she, you? Is it kind of like a morphed version of you? How do you see it?

SugarPlum: … it’s kind funny how SugarPlum started. Ever since I was little I wanted to do the music thing, but I was never like, ballsy enough to do it. I needed that push. And my best friend Sarah — who’ve I’ve been best friends with since we were three-years-old, she does all my cover art — she always had my name in her phone as SugarPlum. So I was said that if I ever made music, I would use SugarPlum. [She’s] kind of like the girl who could. And I always said SugarPlum could be so much more than music. But essentially I am SugarPlum.

matthew warhol: So aesthetically, what is that? What is the vibe around SugarPlum?

SugarPlum: She’s like the goofy side of me, I think. The one who’s cheery and happy all the time. And even when things are hard she’s like, “Whatever, let’s go out!” I think she’s the version of me that pushes me to do all the things that are out of my comfort zone. Maybe I can’t do it but SugarPlum can.

SugarPlum Orlando music

matthew warhol: When did she start to take shape?

SugarPlum: It [happened] after I met Henderson. He was a fan before I even met him. I would post little videos of me playing guitar and singing on Instagram. And he would randomly comment on them saying, oh this is good. And when I finally played for him, he instantly shed into tears and was like, “No, you have to do it!”

matthew warhol: Was Instagram the first platform you started putting your stuff on?

SugarPlum: Yes.

matthew warhol: And when did that start?

SugarPlum: That was my first semester of college, so roughly a year ago. So like the end of 2015, I started posting videos of me playing.

matthew warhol: Were you playing your own songs?

SugarPlum: No, I was just doing little covers. I was too scared to post my songs. And I was obsessed with Frankie Cosmos at the time. I would go to my friend’s house, who had all these instruments and a studio, and record myself playing all of her songs — the guitar, the main and backing vocals, the whole thing. I was trying to get a feel of what it was going to be like to record songs. And then randomly I met my friend Alex, and he was super about recording.

SugarPlum Orlando music

matthew warhol: Your first song, “All The Time,” was that recorded with Alex?

SugarPlum: Yes.

matthew warhol: There are drums on that song. Who did those?

SugarPlum: Those were all done on the computer. I’ve been looking for a drummer for the longest time. They’re like hiding from me!

matthew warhol: Maybe you’ll be able to find one through this interview.

SugarPlum: Scouting drummers!! I really am looking!

[laughs]

SugarPlum Orlando music

SugarPlum Orlando music

matthew warhol: With “All The Time,” a lot of the lyrics seem very direct. They sound like we’re hearing actual experiences. Is that the case?

SugarPlum: Yeah, yeah! 100% real. I think the moment I started “All The Time,” I already knew what I wanted it to be. The writing process for me is like … I can write a verse in seconds, but the chorus is what gets me — the repetitiveness, writing something catchy. But “All The Time” like basically wrote itself. It was about the scenario when you’re with someone and you end it. And they keep calling you. And you like that they keep calling you. It’s that good feeling that they still want you, but you have so much you have to do.

matthew warhol: And even the chorus came together quickly?

SugarPlum: It was super fast. I was honestly just rushing it because I wanted to get it out! I knew my first song wasn’t going to be my best song, so like I’m not going to over think it. But then it like, blew up and I was like *screams*.

matthew warhol: Where was that reception coming from?

SugarPlum: I was always random people who always wanted me to do it and were waiting for me to do it. One of those people, who I appreciate and admire a lot, is Scott. He runs a music blog, 53rd & 3rd. And Sarah, who I mentioned earlier, worked with him at Barnes n Noble. She showed him “All The Time” when it came out. And he wanted to meet me and post the song. From there one of those blogs that automatically reblogs songs it sees potential in reblogged it.

matthew warhol: Was it Hype Machine?

SugarPlum: Yeah!

matthew warhol: Really? That’s really good!

SugarPlum: I was like “WOW!” I didn’t know what that meant at the time.

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matthew warhol: Do you know how many listens it has?

SugarPlum: It just hit 1,000 two weeks ago. And “Maybe, Baby” has only been up a week and it’s already at 100.

matthew warhol: Tell me about “Maybe, Baby.” I listened to it on the way here and it has a different sound. Were you wanting to make something different?

SugarPlum: After I came out with “Clover Pt.2” with EMRLDTRACE, I got a feel with a different vibe. Then Andre Thomas — who is an amazing, amazing musician and producer — reached out to me and wanted to work together. All of the music on “Maybe” is by him.

matthew warhol: So was it already done and you came in and added melodies to it?

SugarPlum: Sort of. He sent me a little snippet of it and thought I would like it. I loved it.

matthew warhol: Did you tweak it together?

SugarPlum: Yeah, I went to Miami to see him. I’m actually going this weekend again. It was all a very good feeling. We would do things in one take. We’re like two puzzle pieces and musically, we fit perfectly.

SugarPlum Orlando music

matthew warhol: Is he producing more on the EP?

SugarPlum: Yeah, the EP is all me and him.

matthew warhol: So is “All The Time” going to be on it?

SugarPlum: “All The Time” will be a bonus song. I think the EP has a different vibe — “Clover” will be on the EP. But “All The Time” and an interlude I wrote on the ukulele are going to be the bonus tracks. Because they’re more, more …

matthew warhol: You want the EP to have its own sound?

SugarPlum: Yeah.

matthew warhol: So is it going to be more synth-based with more beat production behind it?

SugarPlum: There’s definitely still going to be guitar incorporated in the EP, but we have a more synth sound.

matthew warhol: How many songs?

SugarPlum: Five songs and we’ll all have the two bonus songs.

matthew warhol: Does it have a name yet?

SugarPlum: NO! I can’t come up with a frickin’ name. I’m seeing Andre this weekend and we’re like, “We have to get a name!” At the same time, I was bugging my friends like, “Do people name their EPs, or is it self-titled?”

matthew warhol: I mean it could be SugarPlum EP.

SugarPlum: I though the same thing with the interlude I wrote. I was like, should I just have it as “Interlude?”

matthew warhol: I think it can be either one. It can also be like … “[something] Interlude.”

SugarPlum: I had a name for the interlude, but it’s so long.

SugarPlum Orlando music

matthew warhol: What was the name?

SugarPlum: So when I recorded the interlude, it was on Christmas Day and I was eating Japanese food. So we just named it “Japanese Food on Christmas Day.” Everyone was like, “It has nothing to do with the song.” And I was like, “But it’s true!!”

matthew warhol: So the EP comes out … ?

SugarPlum: It should be early February. I’m going to be releasing it before the show on the 10th.

matthew warhol: Now the previous show at Will’s Pub, that your first show?

SugarPlum: Will’s was my first show. And it went surprisingly well.

matthew warhol: No, that was an amazing show. And so many people came out.

SugarPlum: Yeah everyone was so amazing. Zoya. Tiger Fawn was amazing. I remember smoking with Tiger Fawn before I went on, and I was like, “This is my first show! I’m so nervous.” And she was like, “MY FIRST SHOW WAS HERE!”

matthew warhol: And you had never performed on a stage before?

SugarPlum: Never, ever, ever, ever. I don’t think I had even played for most of my friends.

matthew warhol: How did it compare to what you thought going into it?

SugarPlum: I remember posting “All The Time” and thinking that I would be so happy if 10 people listened to this. I remembering looking into the crowd and hearing people sing along and it a different kind of feeling. To hear people singing along to my first song ever.

SugarPlum Orlando music

B8ta interview orlando
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Developing B8TA: ORL Producer/DJ on the Past/Present/Future

Ever since he started making noise in the Orlando music community, B8TA has stayed busy. If you’re at all familiar with local DJ nights, chances are you’ve already seen him. He DJs every Thursday at Patio’s Talk Yo Shit, books his own nights under the Labwrk brand, and pops up on bills by TMD and Body Talk. Additionally, B8TA’s Soundcloud is filled with his own smooth tunes that are heavily influenced by the sound of eclectic hip hop label, Stones Throw Records. I had yet to kick it with the guy, so we sat down, dug through all of his projects, and listened to some music, all while ORL glitch artist MalRea provided a backdrop of twisted anime. Enjoy.

Upcoming appearances: Cultural Canopy at Spacebar.


B8ta interview orlando

matthew warhol: Let me just say, thank you so much for doing this, because I have been a fan of your shit for a while. I really like the stuff you’re doing with Labwrk, the Talk Yo Shit stuff you’ve been doing. [In addition to DJing] you’ve been doing the design too, right?

B8TA: Yeah, I’m not … I’m just stealing shit from The Internet and just putting words on it. [laughs] Thank you, though.

matthew warhol: No, you’re just repurposing. [laughs] But yeah, we’ve never gotten to talk, but that’s why I like doing these interviews. I get to learn more about the artists I cover. So … Starting off, are you from here?

B8TA: I’m originally from the Virgin Islands, Saint Thomas. But um, I’m by way of here. I’ve been here all my life. I just turned 30 in October, and I’ve been here since like  ’95. Actually no, ’96.

matthew warhol: How old were you?

B8TA: Nine or ten?

matthew warhol: And you came to Orlando?

B8TA: Straight to Orlando. 

B8ta interview orlando

matthew warhol: Why did you move?

B8TA: In ’94 we had this crazy hurricane, Hurricane Marilyn, and it was a Category 4 or 5. I remember being in the closet with my mom, my two aunts, my grandma, and my sister, who was a newborn. [We] were all huddled in this little closet. And throughout the whole storm, we could see our ceiling peeling off; we could hear glass breaking, windows breaking.

matthew warhol: And after that they were like, we need to leave?

B8TA: Yeah, our home was completely messed up. And we were eating army rations at school for like a year. We didn’t have actual power for like a year. We were running off generators.

matthew warhol: So you moved here when you were nine. Did your parents bring that music and culture with them?

B8TA: When I was younger I remember her listening to things that were popular back home but when I got here, that’s when I got into hip hop. Like, the first song that I heard that was hip hop where I actually understood what that was, was Fugees “Killing Me Softly.”

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matthew warhol: Oh cool. Where did you hear that?

B8TA: Funny story about that, I was on the way to the dollar theater with a guy my mom was dating at the time. He was taking us to see Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and it was on the radio.

matthew warhol: Was it an instant love? Did you try to find other things like it?

B8TA: Naw, it was just one of those things where it was like damn, this a new sound. Because when you’re young you just listen to what your parents listen to.

matthew warhol: So when did you start finding your own music that you liked to listen to?

B8TA: Probably like the start of middle school. I think the first album I bought with my own money was the Busta Rhymes When Disaster Strikes…, that had “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” And that summer was when that the Missy Elliott album came out, and the Will Smith Big Willy Style.

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matthew warhol: Man, I had [the Big Willy Style] CD in my car fairly recently. [laughs] When did you realize you wanted to start making music?

B8TA: You know what? When I was in high school, I was like trying to be a rapper. Or I would just write stuff and me and my friends would freestyle. But nothing really serious. But actually making beats and producing music … my boy Jeff, who was in algebra class with me, he brought in this CD that had instrumentals on it. So we’re listening to it in class, on his walkman, and we’re like, “Yo, this is hot. Who made this?” And he’s like, “I did.” And you know, we’re like, “You’re full of shit. You can’t make this.” He’s like, “No I did. I made it with this program called Fruity Loops. And you just download it. It’s like $99 or some shit, but you can get it for free.” From then, I went home and got the program. I think my first beat was like all bells. But I thought it was the hottest shit ever. I think I was like 15, 16.

matthew warhol: When did you start wanting to put it out there?

B8TA: Immediately.

matthew warhol: Immediately? What, for your friends? Did you have CDs you would pass out?

B8TA: I used to burn a new little mixtape or album every other week, or every month. I was just super excited about it at that time.

B8ta interview orlando

matthew warhol: When did you start getting your name out in Orlando, or even start going out?

B8TA: I think it was like, a couple years ago. I was going out to the Beat Battles at Spacebar. And all the producer-heads used to come out and show face. It was one of those things where there was nothing like that in Orlando. I was probably 25 or 26 … I started getting out there late. Up until I was like 25, I was concentrating on work, and I was going to college too. I kinda got lost in the everyday type thing.

matthew warhol: Were you not making music at the time?

B8TA: I was, but not as consistent. I was in Altamonte for a while, but when I moved back to Orlando I didn’t see the scene the same. Everything had changed. People were actually doing cool shit. And I started doing the Beat Battles. I think I won one or two. That’s how I met Allan Duncan [native feel] and Side C.

matthew warhol: How soon did you start booking your own stuff? Because that’s what Labwrk is, right?

B8TA: Labwrk was basically me and my buddy sitting and watching Boiler Room videos and we were like, it’d be so cool if we did something like this. Not quite Boiler Room per say, but just add different elements like visuals to tweak it just a little bit. And that’s when we started doing the parties.

B8ta interview orlando

matthew warhol: And with Labwrk, were you going to play a certain kind of dance music?

B8TA: Naw, we were like, fuck a whole format. You gotta touch everybody, right? Everyone wants to have a good time. No one wants to be alienated. So play what you whatever the fuck you want. Somebody is not going to feel it, but it’s not that serious.

matthew warhol: What about The Left Field Theory? You’re affiliated with them too, right? Explain that.

B8TA: Yeah, I’m the DJ. It’s mostly rappers and producers. There’s 15 of us? It’s me, Blue Novemeber, METVLMOUTH, Alfonso X, LFT Solis, Lauren’s Truees, Nelson, ZAE THE PHILOSOPHER, illfigure, j. robb … there’s so many of us.

matthew warhol: How did that get started?

B8TA: We actually all met at this open mic thing called The Sesh, like 2014. Some of them performed. And we were all like, what do you have going on?

matthew warhol: So you formed a collective. What do you do in that?

B8TA: We all do our own individual thing. But right now we’re doing a Left Field LP or tape or whatever you want to call it. I think the single, “Ay Mane,” was played on the radio last Sunday, on 104.5 The Beat. But some of the guys I mentioned don’t even live here. They’re in Baltimore, Boston, Miami.

B8ta interview orlando

matthew warhol: What’s your role on that tape?

B8TA: Producer.

matthew warhol: The whole thing?

B8TA: No, I’m mainly doing interludes and intros/outros with Metalmouth. And I think the main sound will be coming from Jay Rob, to form the vibe.

matthew warhol: Is there a vibe yet?

B8TA: Yeah, that song they played on the radio is probably what they’re shooting for, upbeat and feel-good. Because a lot of the stuff I make isn’t very upbeat. It’s more chill, smoke a blunt.

matthew warhol: Who all have you produced for?

B8TA: Blue November, Donny Blanks, this guy over here, [Zuhaven], Duckworth, a whole buncha cats.

matthew warhol: What’s the difference when you’re making music for someone to rap over, versus something purely instrumental? Is it a different process?

B8TA: I like to sit down with people and listen to different music before. A lot of times I’m two tracking it with people, sending stuff through email. But if I have you in my space, we’ll listen to music for a while then go into it.

matthew warhol: Do you play off them and adapt to what they do?

B8TA: Yeah, definitely. Then I come in and add my little thing.

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matthew warhol: You have to similarly adapt when you’re DJing, depending on what type of event it is. What’s the difference?

B8TA: At Talk Yo Shit, I definitely can’t slip in a Mac DeMarco track all willy nilly. That would not fly at like 12 o’clock. But maybe [it would] at Cultural Canopy. I can do that with ease and mix it into like Lou Reed or something and people would be like, woah.

matthew warhol: What are your personal goals for music?

B8TA: For this year, I really want Labwrk to develop into a brand that’s more than just throwing parties. Becuase that’s not really my scene … I can’t even say that. I like being out. And I like having fun. But it’s not about partying. And I eventurally want it to be a thing where I can take other artists and help them get out and do their thing, essentially the Stones Throw Records of Orlando.

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matthew warhol: Were they an early influence for you?

B8TA: They were a huge influence. MF Doom. Jay Dilla. Madlib. Madlib is my all-time, next to The Neptunes. I’m sorry Jay Dilla.

matthew warhol: What attracts you to that kind of music?

B8TA: I think it’s the “I don’t give a fuck,” vibe. Because it sounds gritty and dirty. There’s so much more tape hiss and hella dust on the record when they’re mixing it. But it still sounds like … I can’t even explain it.

matthew warhol: Raw?

B8TA: Yeah, raw.

matthew warhol: How do you add that same feel into your music?

B8TA: Man, I just try to emulate what these cats are doing, and just add my own thing to it. And I think at the end of the day, me transitioning from a producer to also being a DJ has made me realize where I see myself. It has helped me discover my sound.

matthew warhol: And that’s because you’re taking so much in?

B8TA: Yeah, constantly having to find what’s new. Because a lot producers do this where they’re like, I’m not going to listen to no new music; I can’t be disturbed. But you start to put yourself in a box. And before you know it, you put your shit out and you’re 10 years behind what the new sound is, instead of progressing with the sound.

B8ta interview orlando

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ORL Creative Henderson Nguyen Says Goodbye at Spacebar

Like many local creatives, Henderson Nguyen came to Orlando to study at the University of Central Florida. For his first couple of years, he stuck with the label of “student,” until a block party in the Milk District brought the Orlando arts community into the forefront of his mind. Since then, Henderson has fully submerged himself in the culture, modeling and shooting for local brands (NoXcape & CHROMATIQUE), filming music videos (SugarPlum & TOKYOxP), and creating his own niche as a photographer. His style is perfectly posed, bright images that tell a short, impactful story. One of his favorite subjects to work with is cigarettes; the aesthetic of the object and the multiple connotations — death, counterculture, cool — associated with smoking are all explored in his images. Sadly, this talent is off to LA to pursue his dreams, but he’s leaving us with a bittersweet send-off this Sunday (TODAY) at Spacebar, featuring rapper TEDD.GIF, DJ EMRLDTRACE, and indie pop sweetheart, SugarPlum. 

Featured Image by @anand.vision.

Each of the artists performing has deep ties to Henderson and his time in Orlando. TEDD.GIF was instrumental in Hendy’s introduction to the ORL creative community, and he says that the two share similar mindsets when it comes to personal branding. EMRLDTRACE and Henderson went to high school in West Palm Beach and grew close once they started at UCF — and they’re moving to LA together. Henderson heard SugarPlum before anyone else; she had always wanted to give music a shot but wasn’t sure if anyone would listen. We’re lucky she did. He perfectly captured her sunny, colorful persona in his video for her song “All the Time.”

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Poster by Maggie Scott.

Henderson plans to keep ORL on his tongue while meeting creatives in Los Angles. He looks forward to seeing the growth of (musicians) TEDD.GIF, SugarPlum, TOKYOxP, Tony Phat, Lanlord, (clothing brands) NoXcape, CHROMATIQUE, Phalse, (photographers) dy_n, daniel moncada, and (promoters) TSA Showcase. Come say goodbye to this awesome dude tonight at Spacebar!

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The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band
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Rock the Vote: The Grizzly Atoms Reform Amid Political Turmoil

Breaking up is hard to do, but getting back together is even harder. After two years of hibernation, Orlando garage trio The Grizzly Atoms made the decision to reunite, start playing live again, and release a four-song EP of previously recorded material dubbed Witness. Those songs see the light of day this Friday at Spacebar, where the EP will be paired with cheatsheet covering the issues being voted on this November. See, the Grizzlies cite this election’s political climate as inspiration to reform. I spoke with Nik Sidella (vocals/guitar), Terran Fernandez (bass/backing vocals), and Nick Roe (drums) about all this and more over a bowl of Willie Nelson, a strain curated by the man himself. Enjoy.

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

TVW: You guys were praising me in [the practice room] and I really appreciate that, but I wanted to thank you guys because you The Grizzly Atoms was one of the first shows I saw when I moved to Orlando. It had to have been like four or five years ago, but I saw you at Uncle Lou’s and you had just released an album.

Nick Roe: I know what show you’re talking about. It was one of the first or second Lou’s shows we ever played, right after we released the album. The last time we played Lou’s was one of our last shows with [Room Full Of Strangers], but before that it had been like a year-and-a-half.

TVW: Do you remember who else played that show?

NR: (After we all fumbled about trying to remember) Ricin House!

TVW: Yeah, that sounds right.

NR: Ricin House, us, and… one of these other fuckin’ bands. I remember because it was one of the first shows I saw Ricin House. There was a light bulb above him, and he hit the light bulb with his guitar and was it was going back-and-forth. And it looked fucking awesome.

TVW: They had some amazing shows at Lou’s. I remember him taking his guitar off, breaking it, kicking the door open, and running out. That wasn’t that show.

Terran Fernandez: We played that show. We were there. I remember freaking out like “Oh my god, this guy is…” because it wasn’t just like a show thing. He was definitely upset and decided to break his gear. Didn’t Danelectro send him a new guitar because he told him that story?

Nik Sidella: Nice!

TVW: Okay, first question…

[laughs]

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

TVW: So, why did the band separate in the first place and why did you get back together?

N: We were in the process of ramping stuff up. We had talked about a bunch of stuff we hadn’t thought about before, the marketing side. The night before what became our last show, I got a call from my parents saying that my brother was in the hospital and that he might die. We played the show and then that was a continuous thing for the next three months. After that happened, I straight up told the guys, “Listen, I can’t do this anymore.” Trying to finish school, managing a job, and also trying to play music and get shows, it was a lot of stress.

NR: And there was some stuff with the band, limbo stuff. We had two or three different recordings that were like half-finished. We wanted to play shows, but it’s hard to book in Orlando if you’re not in the scene a lot. And with us being so busy, it was hard to meet people and be active. The strain of being in a band for years, [took its toll]. Taking some time away, as much of a bad thing as it sounds, it’s actually pretty therapeutic in a way.

N: I think after a few years apart, we got everything else figured out and now we’re in a place where we just want to play music and enjoy it again, to be a part of something again. Especially since we’ve seen the scene flourish in the past two years.

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

TVW: Playing together again, how have the older songs changed?

NR: We kind of like, fine-tuned everything. More vocal melodies, Nik’s soloing has gotten way better; the drums and bass vibe more.

N: We’re just a three-piece, so we have to maximize what we can do. And one thing you can really do with a three-piece is really play with the dynamics a lot. And that is what we tried to bring to the old songs, was focusing on the balance of loud and quiet.

TVW: Does it feel easier?

NR: Oh yeah, I think we can all say it feels better than before. Not having each other just makes us want each other more.

[laughs]

T: It’s definitely a different band, but I’m excited to see what’s happening now.

TVW: Different band, how?

T: Um, just the way we interact. There was a lot of disagreement back then about how to do things in the band. We’ve all come back with different gear and that makes a new sound. Nik has like seven-billion pedal boards. I’m like trying to keep up with him changing his tone so much. But it’s weird playing four-string again. I play six-string bass primary, because I play really technical metal [in my other band]. I can just settle and have fun. But as far as the future goes, I’m really excited to see where the music goes.

NR: I think we should take a four-year hiatus and think about it.

[laughs]

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

NR: yeah, we haven’t taken the time to write new stuff. We’re really playing our EP release show to release it and we’re going to go from there.

TVW: Is Witness new stuff?

N: This is stuff we recorded two years ago that we were playing live, but nothing we’ve released before. But with what Tarren said about new material, what I like about it is that we all have such various [tastes and styles] that I think we can bring that together and make some really, really cool stuff.

TVW: So take me through the moment where you actually decided to try this again?

NR: We would talk and jam once in a while. Nik’s really into Strangers stuff. He was doing the touring thing at the time. Terran is fucking touring. I’m kind of doing my own thing with two bands. Then I went out to drinks with Terran, and [Nik and I] would talk, but nothing really happened. Then they actually talked to each other and we decided to get together and have a meeting. It’s funny that the band broke up [behind Nik’s house] when Nik was going through all the stress and we decided to take a break. Two years later, we go back to the same spot and have the opposite of that conversation. We were also kind of nervous about the political situation, so that was another reason why. When shit is fucked up good music is made.

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

TVW: So what does the political climate have to do with The Grizzly Atoms?

N: There was this one song I had written the lyrics to called “Witness.” I go down the rabbit hole with like conspiracy theories a lot, and I also try to educate myself on what the established idea of what things are. And the song was about seeing the bullshit that goes on, seeing how money kind of dictates everything in this country, how the corporate elites have power over everything, seeing that and doing nothing about it. “I’m a witness, yeah, but do I really see? I’m a witness, yeah, but I never speak.” So my idea was to play a show but also raise political awareness.

TVW: And that’s where the show in October comes in.

NR: Being in a band, you have a platform. If you have a platform, use it!

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

TVW: Let’s talk more about the cheatsheet that you’ll be giving out at the show. Take me through the process of coming up with that.

N: When you vote, you see all this language about bills or names you don’t recognize and some people Christmas tree it.

NR: It’s confusing, sometimes you vote for someone who has the best name. Amendment One for instance, “Yes on One for the sun.” That’s completely falsified. It’s run by the utility companies trying to one-up the right to have free solar energy.

TVW: So with the cheatsheet, it’s focusing on stuff other than Trump and Hillary?

NR We’re trying to take an unbiased view with the candidates, the amendments, the people running for different offices, and giving pros and cons. Giving the information in a non-confusing way where they can see it and know what it is.

N: I think if people understand what they’re voting for, then that’s truly a democratic society. But I want to put out a disclaimer, this was made by people who lean towards the left side of things. We encourage you to do your own research because ultimately it’s not a democracy if you’re just pushing your own opinion on people. It’s only a democracy if you have your own point of view, and we think about it and talk about it and compromise.

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

The Grizzly Atoms Orlando band

Hypoluxo Orlando band The Vinyl Warhol
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The Vinyl Warhol + Ugly Orange Present: Hypoluxo, Wild Pink & RV (photos)

If there was a consistent theme running through Spacebar on Saturday, October 15, I’d say it was symbiosis — i.e. a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups. Whether it was Brooklyn and Orlando, Ugly Orange and The Vinyl Warhol, friends who haven’t seen each other in months/years, or new people coming together over a common interest, there was a wave of togetherness that was nice to be a part of — pardon my sappiness. Thanks to everyone who came out. Good luck to Hypoluxo and Wild Pink on their respective tours. ORL, keep an eye out for RV. If you want more info on the bands look here. Yeah. Enjoy.

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

RV Orlando The Vinyl Warhol

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