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Interview with Draag – A trustworthy group filled with Virgo placements

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - June 26, 2020

The sound of a cold morning where the dew on the leaves has frozen.

I usually do a write up about how I know or discovered the person or band I’m interviewing. How the music makes me feel or the images it conjures in my mind, but today I’m called to go in a different direction.

I had reached out to Draag for an interview on May 17th, before our country and world took a sharp turn toward collective radical social justice reform. Radical because I think a majority of society was sleepwalking. A shift has occurred, and whether that shift makes you excited or you’re just waiting for things to “go back to normal,” a fundamental shift has happened so buckle up. I view this time as a moment filled with growing pains good and bad. One of the bad growing pains is cancel culture, I’m not here for it and I hope we evolve past it. But I do think there should be more accountability for the voices you give a platform to, and that is a responsibility I am taking on by publishing the voices of other creators. I’m happy to share I did a little social media sleuthing, and Draag is black lives matter aligned. Because I only want to highlight the people who believe in making the world BETTER for other people.

Jessica, the vocalist for Draag graciously responded to my request for an interview quickly after I reached out. I was excited to read through the band’s answers and was looking forward to getting Draag’s interview up, but Camari Carter had also sent in her reply quickly and she had an event coming up that same week that I wanted to help support.

Then I was asked to pause and listen, and I did – happily. As I work towards creating what my new reality will look like and the content I share, I’m VERY excited to share this great interview with Draag. I’m not sure how I came across them but their track Trauma Kit was added to my February playlist, and I’ve been getting into their dreamy escapism sound ever since. I don’t know what you call the wee hours of the morning, but if there is an A.M golden hour – that is the time in which I’d want Draag to be my soundtrack.

original photo

Name &/or Nickname:
Draag

Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Adrian: Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon, Virgo Rising
Nick: Taurus Sun, Aries Moon, Virgo Rising
Shane: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Aries Rising
Ray: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Taurus Rising
Jessica: Leo Sun, Pisces Moon, Aquarius Rising

Favorite Color:
#E6E6FA

Childhood Hero:
Marilyn Manson

Home Base:
Sylmar, California

When was Draag born into this world? What is the origin story?

Adrian revived some songs he wrote when he was 9 years old on his karaoke tape deck in September 2013. He wanted to condense everything he loved about music into this project, so he recruited a bunch of audiophile toneheads, female vox, and a lot of synths and guitars. Our first EP Nontoxic Process was released in 2018, but we buried our first two mixtapes, made during a time that felt like a completely different band. 

Photography by Elijah Reynozo

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be music related, just creative people who have developed work and put themselves out into the world in a way you admire and perhaps subtly influences your own creative choices?
Kobe Bryant, Ed Templeton, Anna May Wong, Alexandro Jodorowsky, John Carpenter

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Interview with Elizabeth Wakefield of silky garage rock band Gesserit

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - March 15, 2020

Before shows were being canceled left and right in the name of public safety, I saw Gesserit at Zebulon in Los Angeles. My husband and I had gone to go check out New York gritty post-punk group Gustaf, and Gesserit was the openers. I fell hard for the stormy daydream meets bluesy funk sound. They had an earnest yet soulful energy to their performance that is refreshing in today’s performers.

Below is my interview with the lead singer and creative siren behind Gesserit – Elizabeth.

Fast Facts: 

Name: Elizabeth Wakefield

Favorite Color: I suppose it depends on the context of the color. It changes for me. I really love a celadon green wall or the purple, blue, yellow and electric red hues of a sunset on the beach.

Zodiac Sign ( If you know your moon and rising sign please indulge us ): Virgo sun, Scorpio rising, Capricorn moon

Childhood Hero: It is also difficult to choose just one hero. I really admired Cher and Elvis as a kid. When I first heard them sing I knew what it was that I wanted out of life: Music.

Home Base: Amarillo, Texas

Photo by Dutch Doscher

When was Gesserit born into this world? What is the origin story? 

The project officially began under that moniker in 2016. I was living in Brownsville, Brooklyn at the time with my friend Adrienne. The living situation was pretty rough. I was heavily into reading Dune and I was inspired by the Bene Gesserit. Reading helped me transcend the harsh reality surrounding me. The original idea behind the project was to create simple ambient soundscapes to reflect that transcendence. Years later in 2018 a full band was formed. I introduced the songs I had been writing over the years to my bandmates and together we created this current iteration.

Loved the set and seeing the incorporation of a saxophone player, how did you guys connect? 

Sarah Sax! 

I do door at a venue in Brooklyn and one night this experimental noise jazz band called Wave Table began to play and I was totally in awe. They were running the sound through an analog synth and someone was manipulating the music Brian Eno style. There was a crazed man screaming improvised poetry and a woman playing Baritone Sax. I emailed them shortly after that night asking to play a show together. They didn’t see the email for almost a year, but it was Sarah who responded. We ended up connecting and playing a show together and I had an opening in my project, so I asked her to join. She’s become one of my best friends and a super important component and collaborator in the project!

When I heard you at Zebulon, I heard The The influences and a dash of Fiona Apple. I felt like the music could easily be place on the soundtrack of Empire Records or Foxfire – that is all my interpretation. Who are your musical influences and/ or creative influences? 

Oh wow, those are interesting comparisons. I really love The The and Fiona. My musical influences are pretty vast. I take inspiration from many corners of music, not really specific genres or artists. As a child, I was obsessed with country music and the Grand Ole Opry. Lately, I’ve been listening to a ton of Beastie Boys, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, and Leonard Cohen. I’d like to try to deliberately combine these influences for the next record, haha. I imagine that would sound interesting.

Photo by Dutch Doscher

I hate 5-year plans. What is your 5-day plan? 

My 5-day plan is to enjoy the remainder of my time in Los Angeles before I head back to New York City. I want to take long walks, sunbathe, and see the sunset on the beach one last time.

How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

 I like my coffee strong and black. I like my tea soothing and sweet. 

Do you have any creative rituals that help you tap into flow? 

When I am in New York I spend a lot of my time sitting at my piano bench, playing and writing until I feel satisfied with an idea. In L.A. I’ve been spending a lot of my time sitting in the sun at the park reading books, also with pen and paper at hand, ready to catch ideas as they come.

What are your three favorite spots in NY ( eat, shop, hang out) ? 

There is a little cinema called Syndicated directly next door to my apartment in Brooklyn. I haunt that place multiple times a week! Central Park is obviously wonderful. So much of it I have yet to explore. I also really enjoy staying home, honestly. That is probably my favorite place to be above all.

If you have LA favorite spots, would love to know those too… 

Going to the beach in Santa Monica is hands down my favorite place to watch the sunset. 1642 in Echo Park is a super cozy bar to catch a vibe and great live bands. My favorite venue we played and visited was Zebulon! Definitely broken in my dancing shoes on that floor.  

How much of the set at Zebulon is not recorded and available to stream? When can one expect a release of music? 

We played one new song that is not yet recorded, but the other material is from a record we recently finished. I am looking to release the LP this year! Super excited to share it with the world. We currently have one single from the record online called Silence. We are planning to release another single and video very soon!

Photo by Meriel O’Connell

My husband is a musician and I’m a writer. If we have kids, we’re bound to have a creative child or a rebellious athlete. As a person who is exploring their creative voice, do you have a piece of advice for us that we can keep in mind for our future hypothetical child? 

I’m no authority on this! But I would say leaving tons of room for growth and creative freedom is so powerful. There are no rules. Using encouraging language and exposure to culture is so important. 

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Interview with Dev Ray – A Genuinely Disarming Gemini

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - August 8, 2018

Interview with musician Dev Ray, a genuinely disarming gemini.

“It changes all the time. Lately, it’s been humming into a voice recorder while driving, not very safe but sometimes necessary.” 

Dev Ray is a genuinely disarming Gemini. Not that I find most Gemini’s terribly intimidating. But I like how that sounded, and Dev really is a refreshingly genuine person. To me, there is no pretense to him as a person or his music. He possesses a quality that is similar to the dreamscapes of Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep and creates a sense of familiarity like you could have gone to elementary school together. His new tune, “Can’t Hide” out on Dangerbird Records reflects the ray of morning sunshine that Dev Ray embodies. The songs upbeat melody would soundtrack the speed up footage of a night with friends which is carried out until the sun rises over the horizon, feet in the sand and holding hands.

Find out more about this awesome person’s musical ambitions and adventuresome discoveries in my interview with Dev Ray below.

FAST FACTS:

Zodiac Sign: Gemini

Favorite Color: Oh, this is a hard one. I feel like people judge you the most off this. If I say blue I’m boring, if I say green people will think all I care about is money and if I say purple they just won’t believe anything I say! Seriously though, I feel like it changes all the time. As you get older you discover new colors like chartreuse or azure. This is my very frustrating way of answering this question!

Childhood Hero: Oh, another tough one. I guess I would say, Pee-Wee Herman. I was obsessed with The Movie and his playhouse show. I think his zany humor made it into my personality somehow. Him or Mr. Rogers. I always liked how he changed his sweater and shoes when he got home, I do the same thing.

INTERVIEW

Super bummed to have missed the show at Dangerbird. How did it go? What do you feel like before a show – do you have any rituals.

The show was great! I was really nervous and overwhelmed at first! A lot of people showed up! The Dangerbird backyard was packed. When I made it on stage though I felt alright. I guess I like being on stage, ha! I was actually influenced by a post that Cecilia from the band Gothic Tropic made where she did a pre-show dance ritual when she was touring for Beck, I assume she does it for her shows too. I was inspired and love dancing anyway so I danced around a little bit before the show in front of the audience and it alleviated a lot of my nerves.

Loving the material available on Spotify, the single “Can’t Hide” and your super silky rendition of “So Excited.” What is your approach to developing songs and melodies – do you hum a tune into a voice reminder and build it out or just start strumming out notes. For those with no musical talent (ie: me) what’s the breakdown in approaching an original song and/vs a redux?

It changes all the time. Lately, it’s been humming into a voice recorder while driving, not very safe but sometimes necessary. I think I wrote “Can’t Hide” a few years ago on my old Yamaha keyboard. It was originally a slow disco song with slide guitar and a weird key change. I changed it up and was gonna use it for another band I was in called Dr. Fadeaway. The drummer Sal suggested a more upbeat drumbeat he borrowed from The Cure. I took the song back and used it for Dev Ray! “I’m So Excited” started when I jokingly sang it out loud at work in a very monotone, blasé way. I later realized after playing the chords on the organ that it actually would work slow and the chord progression is just so beautiful.

Is there a full EP or album on the horizon?

I hope so! I definitely have enough songs for an album. If Dangerbird likes me enough and these singles do okay then hopefully they will let me do a full album and release it for me!

Best “hole in the wall____” you’ve discovered? (it can be bar, restaurant, store, club etc…)

Best hole in the wall restaurant is Thai Pepper in Hollywood. I lived in Franklin Village for a while and was always on a budget. This place just west of Franklin Village by the 101 is so affordable and this little old lady with a hunchback runs the whole damn place herself.

Favorite comfort food, is it homemade or at a certain place?

hmmmmm…waffles, cereal, mashed potatoes.

Do you have an awesome book or documentary recommendation to share?

I honestly don’t read as much as I would like to/used to but...Incognito: The Secret Lives Of The Brain by David Eagleman is the most fascinating book I have read in a while. It has to be the easiest read dealing with neuroscience out there. I also just watched a documentary on The Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin album on youtube and that was so fun.

What is a quality you admire in other people?

Humor, lots of it.

What’s currently at the top of your travel bucket list?

Detroit. I am going there at the end of August! After that, I need to visit my friends in Washington.

Who is a person you would fan-boy over if you turned the corner and ran into them right now, and why?

Cecilia from Gothic Tropic. I would want to ask her how touring with Beck was and how she got that gig.

You’ve done a tour or two in your lifetime – what is an “on the road” story that comes to mind and makes you laugh or smile?

Touring with Nima from So Many Wizards is always a riot! I was especially making him crack up a lot during our last little desert tour. We were sitting in the back of the van together most of the time. On my first ever tour with So Many Wizards, we played SXSW 2013 alongside the band Social Studies. I made out with the lead singer/keyboard player Natalia and that always brings a smile to my face.

If you had the opportunity to Matrix download one subject (this includes the entire scope of said subject) into your brain – what would it be and why?

Tap dancing or ballroom dancing. I eventually want to learn every social dance there is.

Last three artists played on your preferred form of music consumption. (Spotify, iTunes, soundcloud, record player etc… )

Phoenix – Ti Amo, Deerhunter – Fading Frontier, Peter Gabriel – So, all CD’s in my car!

Wise parting words

You can put sunflower seeds in your yogurt, cereal, and sandwiches.

Those in the LA area can enjoy the musical stylings of Dev Ray in person at Taix French Restuarant during Echo Park Rising next Thursday, August 16th at 7 pm; and follow him on Instagram for more updates on upcoming shows and such.

*pictures of Dev Ray by photographer / artists – @lellopepper

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – THE PITY PARTY

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - August 29, 2014

Photobucket

originally posted on My Favorite MAOI – December 10, 2010

Name: Julie Edwards

Nickname: Heisenflei

Sign: Libra

Favorite:

Fruit: Avocado

Book: Post Office, Bukowsky

Place: White Sands, New Mexico

Q1. Most wild and crazy thing you have done thus far in your life?

A1. And this is your business because…

Q2. Whats the most interesting thing you found lying on the street/sidewalk/ground/random place?

A2. A wet t-shirt with “fuck it” scrawled across the front in sharpee

 

 

 

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Flashback Friday : Sarah Negahdari of The Happy Hallows

INTERVIEWS, LISTEN - August 8, 2014

Sarah Negahdari Happy Hallows

First  published on My Favorite MAOI – 8/27/2009

Name: Sarah Negahdari

Nickname: Kitty, Negs, Nega

Sign: Pisces

Favorite:

Food. Sushi

Book. Inspiration Sandwich by Sark

Season. Autumn!

Q1.How many times have you been pulled over? And why?

A1.Just once. I didn’t do a full stop at a stop sign. I started crying! and the policeman let me go ticket free!

Q2.What animal if your spirit guide?

A2I Looooooveee your questions! ahhhh! So refreshing!!!!! mine is a black panther. I have had many dreams that were incredibly vivid, mystical, involving a female black panther, roaring at me to toughen up! She shows me how to be A REAL WOMAN! 🙂

Q3. What’s your vice?

A3.Oh gaaaaawwwddd, my indecisiveness!!! no wait, maybe it’s my day dreaminess, no wait, it’s my…just kidding…yeah, my vice is definitely that I have such a hard time making up my mind.

Q4.If you could live in a movie for a day, which movie would it be? Would you be yourself or another character?

A4.wow,, such a fabulous question!!! I would be in Labyrinth and I would be David Bowie’s character!!!!

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