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May 2018

Wingman Wednesday

Geovanni Gopradi

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Photo By: Michael Roud

Geovanni Gopradi is used to coming to set prepared, but since joining the Tyler Perry series “The Haves and the Have Nots,” the Miami native has had to up his readiness game. Shooting 80 pages of dialogue a day – an incredible workload even by the most productive of standards – the part calls for a combination of memorization and improvisation, a pairing the actor finds liberating.

We recently sat down with Gopradi to discuss discovering his character over an extended period of time, justifying the choices Broderick makes within his fictional life, and why being a cast member on “The Haves and the Have Nots” is such an adrenaline rush.

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell, Broderick is the longest time you have ever spent with one character. What has that long-term discovery process been like for you?
Gopradi: I don’t get all of the episodes ahead of time, and so, I found ways to justify a lot of what the character does and says, continuously. Since we only shoot per season, I create an arc and I create a character, and I justify what he does and he says, and then once I come to the next season, he is doing other stuff, and so I continuously need to be justifying, pushing that arc and discovering more about the character – creating more history on the character as a way that I can connect what he’s saying through other things so that it can all make sense. It’s a continuous creative process that, as an actor, I have to go through in order to make everything cohesive and make sense, and move forward.

TrunkSpace: It almost sounds like you’re creating a painting, only, you’re working on a section of it little by little over the course of a few years.
Gopradi: Well, you have other people also having their input in the same painting, so you have to kind of find your place, and you gotta wait and see and then figure out where your best brushstroke is going to be in this beautiful painting we’re doing together.

TrunkSpace: So, with that being said, do you ever look back at some of your earlier episodes and think, “Maybe I would have done that differently, had I known he was going in this direction?”
Gopradi: I find myself, whenever I come to a fork in the road with a character, as to why he’s doing something – could go this way or that way – I do two things. One, I’ll leave it open so that I can discover later on, and so I can go either way with a choice. Or two, I pick the stronger choice and I pray that that’s the direction we’re going. (Laughter) So those are the two things that I would do. I would either leave it open, show that it could be interpreted either way, or choose the stronger choice. But looking back at it and saying, “I wish I would have done this, had I known that,” kind of puts me in a downfall. What I do instead is, I look back and say, “Okay, he did this, and now he’s doing this. Now I have to figure out a way to justify it.”

TrunkSpace: That’s true, because in a lot of ways, you have to maintain the focus of moving forward, the same way that your character is in life.
Gopradi: Correct. I can’t be looking back and saying, “Oh, well if I would have known…” It’s just, “Well, this is what I have now. Justify it.”

TrunkSpace: So within those choices that you made, either keeping them open or going with the stronger, bolder choice, has this show allowed you to showcase yourself – your skill set – in a way that previous jobs haven’t?
Gopradi: Yes and no. It’s allowed me to showcase a certain type of skill set, because of the speed in which Tyler Perry shoots, which is very, very fast. He shoots an episode a day – about 80 pages of dialogue a day – when usually it takes about three or four days to shoot an episode. Because of that, because of the certain restrictions like we were just talking about having to justify character choices, I get to showcase those type of skills – not having the luxury of having many takes. He shoots so fast, I often only have one take. We’re only going with one option, one take, you’re just continuously living the life of the character almost as if you were on stage. And there’s very, very, very, very little of taking it back and to retake that sentence, or retake that word, unless you really mess up or you fumble or something. But other than that, whatever choice and whatever you do in that moment is going to stick, unless you’re far off in left field and he wants you to do something different and tries to bring you back. It’s really up to the actors to do. And if we fall into a blank from the lines, we improvise. And as long as we’re within the realm of what we’re saying and what we’re doing, he’ll let it go, as long as we keep moving. The trick is to keep moving. So I’m showcasing my ability to stay focused, to stay in character, to my memorization, my improv skills. I’m able to maintain those relationships, know where I’m coming from, where I’m going, create those moments, and those skills I can showcase. But some of the other skills and the other benefits that you get from having multiple takes, from having multiple angles and being able to redo the scene differently every time, and to discover within that scene bolder choices or better choices or different choices, and then having the ability to then, in the editing room, have them choose which one of the choices they want to go with, we don’t have those options here. What we give is what they take. So make it good, make it fast, make it work.

Photo By: Michael Roud

TrunkSpace: So within that speedy process, have you learned anything about yourself and your abilities that you didn’t think you were capable of before?
Gopradi: Oh, definitely! From the first episode, from the very first scene I recorded, it was apparent to me that my experience is what’s really come into play into honing my instincts, because when you’re filming at that speed, and you have that little bit of time, it really comes down to your instincts. It’s what you intuitively do. After having done all the work and the character research and the arc, and having all that pre-work as we do as actors, it really comes down to just trusting your instincts and allowing your intuition to take lead. And trusting it. It’s just like jumping off a plane with a parachute. You’re gonna trust the parachute is gonna open and hope you land safe. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And certainly that allows you not to second guess yourself, too, which for a lot of people, sometimes means getting int your own head.
Gopradi: Definitely. It’s liberating, in a way that improv is liberating, where you’re not thinking, you’re just reacting. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. It’s definitely a high, especially when you are completely and fully connected to your scene partners, and you are focused – you’re in scene. It really is an adrenaline that once the scene is done, you don’t want to come out of it. You just want to keep going. Keep working.

TrunkSpace: Which is great for getting 80 pages done!
Gopradi: (Laughter) Exactly, exactly. A whole episode.

The Haves and the Have Nots” airs Tuesdays on OWN.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Gilman

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Photo By: Richard Lewis

Fans of “Scooby-Doo” can attest that amateur detective Velma is one of those characters who, although iconic in look and sound, had the potential to be developed out much further than her animated arcs allowed. Thanks to the new movie “Daphne & Velma,” a live action origin story, we’re learning more about what makes Miss Dinkley tick other than hidden clues and oversized turtlenecks.

Sarah Gilman plays the jinkies-delivering, orange-clad super sleuth in training, and while she gives us some of Velma’s greatest hits via her performance, the LA native has also created a fresh take on the character that feels accessible for first-time Scooby viewers, but also familiar enough to appease the parents watching alongside of their kids.

We recently sat down with Gilman to discuss dog sweaters, making Velma sassy, and why she was scared to screen the film for longtime fans of the franchise.

TrunkSpace: Before we jump into the meat and the potatoes of the questions, we have to point out your incredible wardrobe on “Daphne & Velma,” especially that amazing dog sweater! (Laughter)
Gilman: Yeah. Kara Saun, the wardrobe designer, worked on “The Descendants.” Some of my friends were on that actually, and I knew of her before she came on the project, so I was really excited. A lot of the pieces were handmade – hand-designed – like the dog sweater. The sleeves were cut off and the dog was colored in by hand. So a lot of it was just her own creation instead of store bought items, which was really cool.

TrunkSpace: The plot of “Daphne & Velma” takes place during a time in the characters’ lives that fans haven’t really seen yet. Did that you give the freedom to bring your own spin on the character?
Gilman: Oh definitely. I actually worked a lot with director Suzi Yoonessi and even the producers, especially Jen Tisdale, to kind of brainstorm exactly what kind of Velma this would be because we do know very little about Velma from “Scooby-Doo.” We know that she’s smart, she’s pretty sassy, she’s… not to stereotype her, but the brains of the operation for the most part. But we really don’t know much about her. She’s a pretty flat character, as are most cartoons, I think. So we really took the time to kind of decide what we were gonna make her into and she’s a lot edgier and more independent and a little more vulnerable than I think anyone was really expecting her to become. It was really fun working with them. And also, they gave me a lot of creative freedom to kind of put my own personality into her as well, so I made her really sarcastic and kind of sassy. I really, really liked that, because I got to use some of my own improv into kind of creating her edge a little bit.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, is there still pressure to deliver on the character in terms of what fans will expect when they sit down to watch?
Gilman: Yeah, it was kind of a scary line to tow, trying to make her into this new 2018 Velma, but at the same time keeping her as the original Velma that premiered in 1969. It’s always kind of scary a little bit impersonating a character that’s so iconic. She does have a lot of fans, and there is the risk of alienating some of them when you try to change her or make her into something that they didn’t expect. But there were a lot of areas – tropes, I guessfrom the original cartoons that we adopted into this movie, like the glasses and she says, “Jinkies.” And the editors did a really good job of using some of the iconic “Scooby-Doo” flairs, like the eyes following us in a painting and adopting them into 2018 and making them a little more modern. I think the movie does a really good job of blending the old and the new. There are new aspects of Velma and Daphne that haven’t really been seen before but there’s also pretty recognizable aspects that you kind of need in any “Scooby-Doo” film.

TrunkSpace: Probably like the jinkies line, for example. If you didn’t have that, fans would have called the movie out.
Gilman: Yeah, and it was funny because – and this is by no fault of anyone, it’s not even a bad thing – but I think there was a little bit of a fear of making it too tropey, if that makes sense? So in the original script there were no jinkies, there was no, “Where are my glasses?”, there wasn’t any of that. I was able to work on set with our director and the producers to kind of add those things in, so they were actually added in on set and not in the original script.

TrunkSpace: You recently got to screen the film alongside a group ofScooby-Doo” fans. What was that experience like?
Gilman: It was the first time I had screened it with anyone other than my parents and a couple producers. Technically it was the world premiere at C2E2 in Chicago. It was in a really large room with a lot of people and some people were dressed as Velma and Daphne – cosplayers that looked amazing. It was really nerve-racking because at the same time they were all adults, and while I hope adults like this movie, the demographic that it’s kind of aimed towards is a younger audience. So it was really scary because we had a panel afterwords and I was acutely aware of the fact that if they didn’t like it, then I’d probably get that feedback when we did the panel. Luckily it seemed that it had a really good reception. There was a lot of laughs when there was supposed to be laughs and multiple people came up afterwards and expressed how much they liked the new Velma and the character and how they felt the movie did it great justice, which was really nice because I was very scared the whole time watching it. (Laughter)

Gilman with Sarah Jeffery in “Daphne & Velma”

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Los Angeles. Do you think being that close to the industry had a hand in you wanting to be a part of it?
Gilman: Definitely. My parents are not connected to the industry in anyway. Neither is my sister. My dad was a police officer and my mom is an accountant. We had no connection whatsoever. It kind of happened by chance and I think if we hadn’t been in LA, we wouldn’t have moved from, let’s say Texas, or Arizona, or even Seattle, where some of my friends are from. I think it was only because we were in such close proximity to the auditions and the work that it was able to work out. It was luck, I guess.

TrunkSpace: On Twitter you list yourself as an aspiring filmmaker. Is that a direction that you’re hoping to steer your career in moving forward?
Gilman: Yeah. I graduated high school and went to USC as a theater major, thinking I would pursue acting, and of course I have, especially out of school. Half way through school I actually applied internally to transfer into film and TV production at the film school at USC and I was accepted, so now I am currently studying film and TV production with an emphasis in directing and producing. I’d still say acting is my first priority, but director/producer is definitely something I’d like to have knowledge about as I continue and hopefully can one day make my own projects and explore other roles. I think also just knowing the other side of the camera makes you a more empathetic actor.

Daphne & Velma” is available today on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD.

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Musical Mondaze

Deeper

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If you’re anything like us, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a playlist rut. When it comes to music, many times we take an “If it’s not broke…” approach, but we don’t need to fix our horizons to expand upon them. New artists worth discovering are out there, and as is the case with this particular needle in a haystack, sometimes you just have to look DEEPER.

Hailing from Chicago, the rifftastic quartet with a bit of ‘80s flair is set to release their self-titled debut May 25 on Fire Talk Records. We recently sat down with the band to discuss the pressures of recording their first album, how they’ve changed sonically since forming in 2014, and why they hope their legacy includes… Creed?

TrunkSpace: Your self-titled debut drops on May 25. What emotions are you juggling with as you gear up to release it to the world, especially considering that in many ways, the album will be the band’s introduction to new and future listeners?
Deeper: It’s excitement more than anything else. If you had asked us when we finished the record, we would’ve probably just said we are relieved to be done. It’s been done long enough now that we are able to get excited again. The record was recorded through five sessions over the course of a year and a half, so it was consuming a lot of our time for longer than we imagined.

TrunkSpace: Obviously it’s difficult to say because this is your first release, but do you think there is more pressure on a band in the studio with a debut than there is with a second or third offering? Is it just as much about establishing who Deeper is as it is about putting quality songs out into the universe?
Deeper: Definitely more pressure on the first release – that sort of sets the foundation for the rest of our records. If a listener doesn’t dig what we’re doing initially, they probably won’t check out what we’re doing next time. We have been pretty meticulous with this record specifically because of how a first release can frame the identity of a band. Whereas when a second record comes out, there’s already at least some audience who enjoyed the first release.

TrunkSpace: What do you think the album says about who Deeper is as a band? Does it fully accomplish what you set out to do with it, both creatively and commercially?
Deeper: As a band we think it shows a variety of different sounds we’re able to realize and how we’re able to play together. Creatively, it accomplishes what we set out to do – we’re really happy with the finished product. Commercially is yet to be seen.

TrunkSpace: The band has faced roadblocks in the past, one of which saw you choosing to scrap all of your existing songs after a previous member had left. Did that creative clean slate serve to put the band on stronger songwriting ground? Are you a better unit for it?
Deeper: The old version of Deeper focused on a sound that we were excited about at the time, but ultimately led to creative roadblocks as we progressed. The creative clean slate allowed us to experiment in ways we weren’t able to with the old version.

TrunkSpace: Did your overall sound change at all between who the band was then and who the band is now? Did bringing in Drew McBride add a new point of view to the mix that directly impacted the musical output of Deeper?
Deeper: We’re better fit together organically and threw out fewer ideas because of how we collaborate on songwriting. We were more apt to throw out ideas and Drew was really good about figuring out how to incorporate those into songs. The band feels more confident as a unit based on the current lineup for sure. Drew also loves driving which makes touring easier.

TrunkSpace: Is there something creatively inspiring about working within a band atmosphere? Does creativity inspire creativity?
Deeper: Writing in a band creates many more compromises and that can be a good and bad influence in bands. For us, it’s been really positive and has helped us define our sound better.

TrunkSpace: As you embark on this new and exciting chapter of your life that kicks off with your self-titled debut, what are you most looking forward to in the months ahead?
Deeper: Hitting the road, seeing friends in other cities, and letting people hear more of our music.

Photo By: Alexa Viscius

TrunkSpace: What does the songwriting process within Deeper look like? How does a new track go from inception to completion?
Deeper: Everyone comes to the table with different ideas and we throw a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks. Even when we think a song is done, it’s really not final until we’ve recorded it. We’re always making changes until the last possible moment.

TrunkSpace: Lyrically, are your songs written from personal experience or do they take a more storyteller’s approach to the narrative?
Deeper: Nic (Gohl) was writing more experience-focused songs until our guitarist Mike (Clawson) joked with him that his love songs were too obvious. That challenged Nic to vary his lyrical choice more.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments for the last time, what do you hope Deeper is remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Deeper: We hope our legacy is summarized by covering Creed at our album release.

Deeper’s self-titled debut drops Friday on Fire Talk Records.

For tour date, click here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Jeffery

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She is a charismatic young actress with an effortless ability to steal a scene, but Sarah Jeffery has her work cut out for her this year, tackling two iconic characters from our pop culture past that promise to force fans to sit and watch with a fresh set of eyes. First she’ll slip into the purple-loving skin of “Scooby-Doo” character Daphne for the live action origin story of how she and Velma first met and began their sleuthing ways. Then in the fall, things will get downright magical for the Vancouver native when she joins the cast of The CW’s reimagining of “Charmed.”

Thankfully, not only is Jeffery up for the task of pumping new blood into old characters, but she also has the acting chops to make it work. We recently sat down with her to discuss the wiggle room in bringing teenage Daphne to the screen, why there are always two sides to the reboot coin, and what advice she gives to actors breaking into the industry.

TrunkSpace: As far as the “Scooby-Doo” gang is concerned, the majority of them have their established catchphrases and mannerisms, but Daphne seems to have more room for growth because while who she is has been established throughout the life of the franchise, she hasn’t been tied to defining lines likes “Ruh-roh” and “Jinkies.” As a performer, do you feel like you had an opportunity to bring something unique and new to the character that hasn’t been seen before, and if so, what approach did you take to making such an iconic character your own?
Jeffery: First off, I’m extremely grateful and honored to be portraying such an iconic character. I’ve always loved Daphne so much, so this has been wild. But like you said, there was a bit of room to create a more versatile Daphne and I think you’ll see just that. She’s well rounded, not just the stereotypical fashionista or girly girl. She’s multi-faceted and maintains her love for fashion and all that the original Daphne had, while also using her brain and wits. She’s clever and she’s funny.

TrunkSpace: The story that “Daphne & Velma” lays out takes place within a portion of the characters’ timelines that fans haven’t really seen yet. Did the fact that it predates most of what people know of Daphne and the rest of the gang allow you more freedom to make her your own as well?
Jeffery: We definitely did have some freedom to play with our versions of these characters being that it’s pre “Scooby Gang” days. They’re still in high school and still discovering themselves, feeling the highs and the lows, and it was a lot of fun playing a youthful version of Daphne.

TrunkSpace: While having some freedom to play with Daphne, is there still an element of nervousness going into portraying someone who has been seared on the minds of fans of the franchise for so long, even if that memory that people have is in the animated space?
Jeffery: Oh definitely. I’m still nervous to see how the film is received, and I most certainly hope people embrace my portrayal of Daphne. But at the end of the day, this is my take on her and I hope people see that we have honored the original series while bringing in some great new elements and layers.

TrunkSpace: Kids are the target audience for “Daphne & Velma,” but there’s no doubt that long-term fans of “Scooby-Doo” are going to check in on the movie as well to see what some of their favorite characters are up to. The film recently screened alongside some of those fans. Did you attend, and if so, was it nerve-racking seeing it in real time with a group of people so passionate about the history of the franchise?
Jeffery: I actually wasn’t able to attend the most recent screening, but I definitely imagine that I would’ve had some nervous butterflies watching alongside Scooby fans, old or new. I just want to make them happy!

TrunkSpace: As far as performance is concerned, is there something extra fun about bringing an animated character to life? While grounded in a reality, it’s still a heightened reality. Does that allow you to approach things differently than you would on another project or piece of work?
Jeffery: I think what’s great about our team on this film, particularly our wonderful director Suzi Yoonessi, is that we all had a similar vision. A fun, exaggerated reality but still as grounded as possible with our subject matter. That being said, we definitely have some larger than life moments that directly reflect the animated series, and that was a blast.

Jeffery with Sarah Gilman in “Daphne & Velma”

TrunkSpace: Outside of your work on “Daphne & Velma,” it was also recently announced that you’ll be bringing another well-known property back to life on the small screen, this time the long-running dramaedy “Charmed.” As a performer, is there something kind of freeing working on a project that you know will automatically have a built-in audience? Does it make the hard work prior to a project’s release mentally easier knowing that, at the end of the day, people are going to tune in?
Jeffery: In all honesty, sometimes having that builtin audience is a little more nerve-racking. I definitely appreciate the fact that these are characters that are near and dear to the fans’ hearts, and I want to do right by them. But also, it is comforting knowing that people will tune in, and hopefully connect with the project.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, reboots are always faced with comparisons to what came before. Is it important for a show like “Charmed,” or even a movie like “Daphne & Velma,” to establish themselves as their own thing (with their own tone and vibe) as quickly as possible so as to tell the audience, “This is what WE are, that is what THAT was?”
Jeffery: I think with working pretty heavily around reboots/revivals, I’ve come to realize that there are indeed two sides to the coin. You’re going to have people who are against it, and you’re going to have people who are there for it. I try to gently remind viewers and followers that yes, while we are being respectful and mindful of the original project, this is our take on it and there will be elements that are different, and there will be elements that stay very similar.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been playing Jennifer Lopez’s daughter on “Shades of Blue.” First and foremost, with Mother’s Day recently being celebrated, that’s a heck of a screen mother to have, but secondly, what did you take from her – someone who has accomplished so much in so many different mediums – that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
Jeffery: Getting to work with Jennifer intimately on “Shades Of Blue” was such a wonderful opportunity, and a huge lesson on professionalism. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from her about what it means to be dedicated to your craft, and what it means to be a hard worker. She shows up to work so prepared and so on her game, which is even more impressive because of how insane her schedule is. I give her mad props and I have loads of respect for her.

TrunkSpace: You have spoken out against the mistreatment of animals and you are an advocate for adopting a vegan diet. What inspired you down this path and for those with similar views but feel they don’t have the platform, how can they also help spread the word?
Jeffery: I was inspired to adopt a vegan diet for quite a few reasons, but primarily for ethical reasons. I just couldn’t get behind the cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industry, and I wanted my actions to reflect that. Even if you don’t have a platform or a large audience to share your views with, you can still make sure those around you are educated and are aware of the effects a meat-based diet has on our environment, our bodies and the animals which it comes from.

Jeffery with Melonie Diaz and Madeleine Mantock in “Charmed”

TrunkSpace: Finally, Sarah, we just spoke about some things that you took away from your time working with Jennifer Lopez. For those with less experience working alongside of you now, what advice would you give them from lessons that you yourself have learned through your own experiences, things that you feel would be of value to carry with them through the rest of their own careers?
Jeffery: Over the years of working in this business, one of the most important lessons I’ve taken away is to always be curious. Asking questions about my craft has been probably the most important tool I’ve discovered. I’ve learned so much just by observing people I look up to, and not being too proud to ask about things I may not know. Be bold and curious enough to take risks. Another big thing to keep in mind is how you present yourself and how you take command of your work space. Be respectful, be professional, and be kind. No one wants to work with negative people. It sucks. So that being said, particularly as a lead, I always want to set a tone that is comfortable and cultivates success for all departments. It changes the whole experience.

Daphne & Velma” is available tomorrow on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.

Charmed” premieres this fall on The CW.

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Sit and Spin

Broadside’s Summer Stained

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Song Title: “Summer Stained”

From The Album: Paradise

Single Sentence Singles Review: “Summer Stained” is a melodic rock tune that pays homage to Broadside fans and the symbiotic relationship between artists and the people who follow their work with a passion.

Beyond The Track: Currently on tour in Europe, the band will soon return to the States for the final Vans Warped Tour. For tour dates and info, visit here.

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Sit and Spin

Somme’s Self-Titled Debut

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Artist: Somme

Album: Self-Titled

Reason We’re Cranking It: The kind of EP that makes you wish the artist stretched it out to long play status, this self-titled debut from multi-instrumentalist Jordan Cantor has the flavor of Lorde, the attitude of Pink, and the open wound lyrical insight of a vulnerable Patti Smith. Come get Somme!

What The Album Tells Us About Her: San Diego native Cantor puts each of her skills to work here, cementing herself as a serious artist to watch. Although the EP proves she is a musical force to be reckoned with, she’s still very young, making it scary to think just how good she will be as those skills become even more seasoned.

Track Stuck On Repeat: There’s nothing ordinary about “Ordinary Fools,” a song that will add an exclamation point on your day and carry with you into the night, should you let your brain hold onto the beat.

Coming To A City Near You: Keep track of upcoming tour dates here.

And that means…

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Laugh It Up

Ellory Smith

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Name: Ellory Smith

Socials: Twitter/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Smith’s brand of personal comedy serves as a tour guide through her emotional pain and shows us all that even in darkness there are slivers of light to be found.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Smith: I wasn’t funny as a kid, but I was definitely odd. I didn’t have a lot of friends and spent a lot of time in my own head. I always knew I wanted to write, and thought for a long time I’d go into poetry or creative writing or something. My senior year of high school, I started doing stand-up and realized there was a way to utilize my love for writing and need for attention that didn’t have the sort of… pretentious review process that creative writing sometimes involves.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Smith: I was studying Writing for Television and Film at Emerson College, and doing stand up two to three times a week. I was paying attention in class, but really only my writing classes. I knew I wanted to be a comic and write for television, that I wanted both of those things. I couldn’t see another option. I had read enough about people in the field to know that if this was something I wanted, I had to go after it as though I was training for a marathon. Writing a lot, performing a lot, putting aside anything that wasn’t comedy – at least at first. When I moved to LA to finish college, I immediately upped how often I did stand-up. I began going up four to five times a week, and seeing shows on weekends. It became my entire life, to the detriment of some things (friendships, relationships) but it was all I wanted, and it felt like I could never have enough of it.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Smith: I’ll let you know once I find it. I’m six years in now, so give me another six and hopefully I’ll have gotten it down.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Smith: I think when I started, I was so young I was just trying to imitate comedians I loved. I was doing just observational material, nothing raw or honest or interesting. Now I try to be more open with the audience, I am still worried that they don’t love me or think I’m funny, but first and foremost I want them to know that I am here and in pain and ready to talk with them about the things that make me most human. It’s a fine line to walk, when people see comedy they are looking for an escape, they don’t want to hear about my trauma necessarily. But I’m up there looking for connection and love and validation, and maybe that’s too much to ask for, but I’m going to keep asking for it anyway.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Smith: I write everything down all day long. When my father was dying, I wrote down every detail. Not necessarily for stand-up, just to remember it. I guess it’s a way to not cope with the things going on around me. But, then I have the notes for later and I can mine them for something funny. I do this at gas stations, grocery stores, funerals. Ultimately, it’s rude. But my note pad and I are one in the same and where I go it will be.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Smith: Stand-up is like an experimental science. There are a lot of variables to getting something right. A joke is ready when you’ve written it, and you will only find out if it works through performing it. That’s what open mics are for!

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Smith: If I am in love with a joke, but after five or six tries in front of different audiences it doesn’t work, I table it until I can find a better take. Or I bring it to someone I know is funnier than I am who will help me find what is going wrong. That being said, a good artist knows when they have shitty work and is able to move on from it.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Smith: Absolutely! It’s easy to blame the audience for this, but again, there are a lot of different variables. Maybe you weren’t as confident, maybe they weren’t paying attention, maybe your tone was off and when they weren’t laughing you got hostile. It could be anything. I think it’s important to pay attention to WHAT went wrong so you can fix it for next time, and not take any of it too personally. (Easier said than done!)

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Smith: A good audience is both like having the most intimate conversation and playing a very good game of tennis. You can ping something to them and have the audience send it right back. It is wonderful, it will only raise your confidence, making you more daring, more willing to try risky material. It is nice to feel trusted.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Smith: One time a man threw some of those Mardi Gras beads at me while I was on stage which is a few different layers of rude.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Smith: I cry very hard until they apologize to me.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Smith: I personally am excited for it! People seem to be enjoying stand-up a lot, it’s getting very popular. I think it’s a good thing that homophobic, transphobic material is getting less acceptable. Hopefully we’ll be moving towards a more accepting space, and away from “I hate my wife and mother-in-law” tropes.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Smith: Pain, loss, love, fart noises.

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Opening Act

Ruby the RabbitFoot

RubyTheRabbitfoot
PHOTOGRAPHY: Mike Gonzalez (IG: @mikegonzalezstudio)/STYLIST: Maya Yogev/Bureau9 (IG: @maya_yogev)/MAKE-UP & HAIR: Alisha Bailey( IG: @alishahairmakeup)/PRODUCTION: Bureau 9 (IG: @bureau9)/STUDIO: Bureau 9 Studio (IG: @bureau9studio)

Artist/Band: Ruby the RabbitFoot

Members: Ruby Kendrick (rotating cast: Ziona Riley, Will Hicks, Austin Hoke, Paul Rogers, Nicolas Dobbratz)

Website: www.rubytherabbitfoot.com

Hometown: Athens, GA > Nashville, TN

Latest Album/Release: “Divorce Party” (2016)

Influences: Most everything

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Kendrick: I try not to ever describe it if poss. Lyrically driven?

TrunkSpace: Not only has your music captured our attention, but the visual element of the Ruby the RabbitFoot experience is a big part of the journey for us. How important is it for you to be able to bring that visual angle to your craft? Is it something you give equal weight to in the process?
Kendrick: Thank you for noticing. The visual aspect of my work feels as much a part of me as the music. I don’t think they could be separated. I would say the weight is equal.

TrunkSpace: Your sound has gone through some sonic shifts since you first began writing and performing as Ruby the RabbitFoot. Where do you personally hear the biggest growth?
Kendrick: I suppose the one constant throughout the albums is that I am singing and writing the songs. I believe my voice has become more of my own and less of my influences. When I hear songs from my first album, I am a little embarrassed because I can hear myself imitating others in the way I sing. It’s sweet to hear the progress though.

TrunkSpace: Within that musical evolution of your sound, has the process in which it all comes together changed at all? Do you write differently now than when you first started out?
Kendrick: I definitely do. I write a capella now. It’s more convenient while traveling and more spontaneous. One drawback is that my guitar chops are rusty to say the least. I would actually like to start writing on guitar again.

TrunkSpace: Your last album, “Divorce Party,” dropped in 2016. Is there a new album on the horizon and what can fans expect?
Kendrick: Of course! I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on! I have no idea what to expect ever so I wouldn’t know what to tell them.

TrunkSpace: As an artist, are you someone who prefers your time creating and recording in the studio or is the stage, performing in front of a live audience, where you pull your biggest personal fulfillment from?
Kendrick: For me touring and performing live are so challenging on so many levels. It’s not an easy thing to do and therefore feels extremely rewarding when it’s done. I prefer creating at home most definitely because it is relaxing and fulfilling. I feel lucky to be able to do both.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of performing, you’re currently in the midst of a pretty extensive U.S. tour. With a number of dates still ahead of you, what are you most looking forward to the rest of the way, and… we saw that you’re playing The Rabbithole in Charlotte, NC. Given the RabbitFoot in your name, was this by design or coincidence?
Kendrick: That is a fabulous coincidence! We also played a place called White Rabbit Cabaret in Indianapolis and it’s been my favorite show so far. We need that bunny luck on the road. I’m looking forward to Spirit Lodge in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, of course.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with 16-year-old you, would that version of yourself be happy with the artist that you have become today? Would she be surprised?
Kendrick: Wow. I think she would be relieved and surprised about the outcome of her life for sure. Great question.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Ruby the RabbitFoot for the rest of 2018?
Kendrick: I’ll be making an album! I’m excited for a Tennessee summer. But again, I never know what’s going to happen.

Featured Image Credits: PHOTOGRAPHY: Mike Gonzalez (IG: @mikegonzalezstudio)/STYLIST: Maya Yogev/Bureau9 (IG: @maya_yogev)/MAKE-UP & HAIR: Alisha Bailey( IG: @alishahairmakeup)/PRODUCTION: Bureau 9 (IG: @bureau9)/STUDIO: Bureau 9 Studio (IG: @bureau9studio)

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Trunk Gaming

Far Cry 5

farcry5_TrunkGaming

Game: Far Cry 5

Initial Release Date: March 27, 2018

Publisher: Ubisoft

Genre: 1st Person Shooter/Action Adventure

Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Why We’re Playing It: We enjoy our shooter games, but “Far Cry 5” has more layers than deep fried onion at a state fair. You might be liberating a camp full of cultist hillbillies one minute, then literally fishing in a lake the next. This playable experience is one of those rare instances that allows you incredible gaming freedom to fly a helicopter, plane, drive a boat, ATV, semi-truck or skydive in a wingsuit. The kicker… it doesn’t suck! What do we mean by that? You know the type of game that has you flying, boating, driving and walking, but the mechanics are just all wrong? This is the opposite. Ubisoft does every aspect of this game well, including some stunning full motion video and beautiful backdrops.

What It’s All About?: You play a deputy rookie that is riding along with veteran police forces to diffuse a hostile cult that is taking over the area. Matters are attempted to be resolved peacefully, but that would make a pretty boring game. So instead, things go up in smoke along with the helicopter you’re riding in. After crash-landing, you’re rescued by a rebel that helps you blend in undercover. You continue your work to liberate and save the innocent while helping take the area back from the cultists.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: One of the best aspects about this installment of “Far Cry” is the vast variety. As we mentioned, you have an abundance of transportation options, but you also have a slew of weapons, power-ups and tasks that keep things interesting. If you need a break from all the gunning and blowing stuff up, kick back and relax and do some fishing, hunting or even repair a car. Just don’t keep your hand off the trigger finger while you’re smelling the virtual roses.

Bonus Level: The dialogue in this game is some of the funniest we’ve encountered since perhaps “Duke Nukem.” Had we had milk in our mouth, it would have come out our noses when a character proclaimed, “I feel higher than a Jamaican Giraffe!” So, there’s a pro-tip. Don’t drink milk while playing “Far Cry 5!”

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

 

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Sit and Spin

Aisha Burns’ Where Do I Begin

AishaBurnsFeatured

Song Title: “Where Do I Begin”

From The Album: Argonauta (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: Intimate and insightful, “Where Do I Begin” is actually the perfect place to begin exploring an artist who floods emotion into every aspect of her songwriting, making listening to her music a soul-stoking experience.

Beyond The Track: Aisha Burns’ Argonauta is due May 25th on Western Vinyl. Tour dates, including her upcoming record release show, can be found here.

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